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Title: A Book of the Riviera

Author: S. Baring-Gould

Release date: April 25, 2016 [eBook #51860]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Giovanni Fini, David Edwards and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
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Midsummer Night’s Dream, ii. 2.





First Published November 1905
Second Edition December 1909



I. Provence 1
II. Le Gai Saber 24
III. Marseilles 39
IV. Aix 55
V. Toulon 72
VI. Hyères 84
VII. Les Montagnes des Maures 97
VIII. S. Raphael and Fréjus 113
IX. Draguignan 130
X. L’Estérel 147
XI. Grasse 157
XII. Cannes 180
XIII. Nice 205
XIV. Monaco 227
XV. Mentone 255
XVI. Bordighera 264
XVII. San Remo 276
XVIII. Alassio 288
XIX. Savona 296



Cap Roux, L’Estérel Frontispiece
From a photograph by G. Richard.
God’s Candelabra To face page 1
From a photograph by J. Giletta.
A Passage in the Gorge du Loup 4
From a photograph by Neurdein frères.
Palms at Cannes 7
From a photograph by J. Giletta.
La Rade, Marseilles 39
From a photograph by Neurdein frères.
King Réné 63
From the triptych of the Burning Bush, at Aix.
Olive Trees 85
From a photograph by J. Giletta.
Pines near Hyères 89
From a photograph by Neurdein frères.
A Carob Tree 97
From a photograph by Neurdein frères.
Grimaud 109
From a photograph by Neurdein frères.
An Umbrella Pine, S. Raphael 113
From a photograph by Neurdein frères.
Le Lion de Terre, S. Raphael 115
From a photograph by A. Bandieri.
Théoule 147
From a photograph by J. Giletta.
L’Estérel from Cannes 153
From a photograph by G. Richard.
Grasse, Les Blanchiseuses 157
From a photograph by J. Giletta.
Carros 167
From a photograph by Neurdein frères.
The Cascade of the Loup 172
From a photograph by J. Giletta.
Fall in the Gorge of the Loup 173
From a photograph by Neurdein frères.
Interior of the Château Saint Honorat[vii] 180
From a photograph by J. Giletta.
The Prison of the Man with the Iron Mask 190
From a photograph by J. Giletta.
The Castle of S. Honorat 195
From a photograph by J. Giletta.
La Napoule 203
From a photograph by J. Giletta.
The Cascade of the Château, Nice 205
From a photograph by J. Giletta.
Villefranche 225
From a photograph by J. Giletta.
The Theatre, Monte Carlo 237
From a photograph by J. Giletta.
Postcards Prohibited at Monaco 244
The Gaming Saloon, Monte Carlo 248
From a photograph by J. Giletta.
The Concert Hall, Monte Carlo 252
From a photograph by J. Giletta.
Dolce acqua 273
From a photograph by Alinari.
San Ampelio, Bordighera 274
From a photograph by Alinari.
Arches in Street, Bordighera 276
From a photograph by J. Giletta.
Ceriana 279
From a photograph by G. Brogi.
Bussana 280
From a photograph by J. Giletta.
Albenga 293
From a photograph by Alinari.
Savona 301
From a photograph by Alinari.
Pope Sixtus IV 304
From an old engraving.



THIS little book has for its object to interest the many winter visitors to the Ligurian coast in the places that they see.

A consecutive history of Provence and Genoese Liguria was out of the question; it would be long and tedious. I have taken a few of the most prominent incidents in the history of the coast, and have given short biographies of interesting personages connected with it. The English visitor calls the entire coast—from Marseilles to Genoa—the Riviera; but the French distinguish their portion as the Côte d’Azur, and the Italians distinguish theirs as the Riviera di Ponente. I have not included the whole of this latter, so as not to make the book too bulky, but have stayed my pen at Savona.






Montpellier and the Riviera compared—The discovery of the Riviera as a winter resort—A district full of historic interest—Geology of the coast—The flora—Exotics—The original limit of the sea—The formation of the craus—The Mistral—The olive and cypress—Les Alpines—The chalk formation—The Jura limestone—Eruptive rocks—The colouring of Provence—The towns and their narrow streets—Early history—The Phœnicians—Arrival of the Phocœans—The Roman province—Roman remains—Destruction of the theatre at Arles—Visigoths and Burgundians—The Saracens—When Provence was joined to France—Pagan customs linger on—Floral games—Carnival—The origin of the Fauxbourdon—How part-singing came into the service of the church—Reform in church music—Little Gothic architecture in Provence—Choirs at the west end at Grasse and Vence.

WHEN a gambler has become bankrupt at the tables of Monte Carlo, the Company that owns these tables furnish him with a railway ticket that will take him home, or to any distance he likes, the further the better, that he may hang or shoot himself anywhere else save in the gardens of the Casino. On much the same principle, at the beginning of last century, the physicians of England recommended their consumptive patients to go to Montpellier, where they might die out of sight,[2] and not bring discredit on their doctors. As Murray well puts it:—

“It is difficult to understand how it came to be chosen by the physicians of the North as a retreat for consumptive patients, since nothing can be more trying to weak lungs than its variable climate, its blazing sunshine alternating with the piercingly cold blasts of the mistral. Though its sky be clear, its atmosphere is filled with dust, which must be hurtful to the lungs.”

The discovery of a better place, with equable temperature, and protection from the winds, was due to an accident.

In 1831, Lord Brougham, flying from the fogs and cold of England in winter, was on his way to Italy, the classic land of sunshine, when he was delayed on the French coast of the Mediterranean by the fussiness of the Sardinian police, which would not suffer him to pass the frontier without undergoing quarantine, lest he should be the means of introducing cholera into Piedmont. As he was obliged to remain for a considerable time on the coast, he spent it in rambling along the Gulf of Napoule. This was to him a veritable revelation. He found the sunshine, the climate, the flowers he was seeking at Naples where he then was, at Napoule. He went no farther; he bought an estate at Cannes, and there built for himself a winter residence. He talked about his discovery. It was written about in the papers. Eventually it was heard of by the physicians, and they ceased to recommend their patients to go to Montpellier, but rather to try Cannes. When Lord Brougham settled there, it was but a fishing village; in thirty years it was transformed; and from Cannes stretches a veritable[3] rosary of winter resorts to Hyères on one side to Alassio on the other; as white grains threaded on the line from Marseilles to Genoa. As this chain of villas, hotels, casinos, and shops has sprung up so recently, the whole looks extremely modern, and devoid of historic interest. That it is not so, I hope to show. This modern fringe is but a fringe on an ancient garment; but a superficial sprinkling over beds of remote antiquity rich in story.

Sometimes it is but a glimpse we get—as at Antibes, where a monument was dug up dedicated to the manes of a little “boy from the North, aged twelve years, who danced and pleased” in the theatre. The name of the poor lad is not given; but what a picture does it present! Possibly, of a British child-slave sent to caper, with sore heart, before the Roman nobles and ladies—and who pined and died. But often we have more than a hint. The altar piece of the Burning Bush at Aix gives up an authentic portrait of easy-going King Réné, the luckless wearer of many crowns, and the possessor of not a single kingdom—Réné, the father of the still more luckless Margaret, wife of our Henry VI.

Among the Montagnes des Maures, on a height are the cisterns and foundations of the stronghold of the Saracens, their last stronghold on this side of the Pyrenees, whence they swept the country, burning and slaying, till dislodged in 972 by William, Count of Provence. Again, the house at Draguignan of Queen Joanna, recalls her tragic story; the wife of four husbands, the murderess of the first, she for whose delectation Boccaccio collected his merry, immoral tales; she, who sold Avignon to the Popes, and so brought about their migration from Rome,[4] the Babylonish captivity of near a hundred years; she—strangled finally whilst at her prayers.

The Estérel, now clothed in forest, reminds us of how Charles V. advancing through Provence to claim it as his own, hampered by peasants in this group of mountains, set the forests on fire, and for weeks converted the district into one great sea of flame around the blood-red rocks.

Marseilles recalls the horrors of the Revolution, and the roar of that song, smelling of blood, to which it gave its name. At Toulon, Napoleon first drew attention to his military abilities; at S. Raphael he landed on his return from Egypt, on his way to Paris, to the 18th Brumaire, to the Consulate, to the Empire; and here also he embarked for Elba after the battle of Leipzig.

But leaving history, let us look at what Nature affords of interest. Geologically that coast is a great picture book of successions of deposits and of convulsions. There are to be found recent conglomerates, chalk, limestone, porphyry, new red sandstone, mica schist, granite. The Estérel porphyry is red as if on fire, seen in the evening sun. The mica schist of the Montagnes des Maures strews about its dust, so shining, so golden, that in 1792 a representative of the Department went up to Paris with a handful, to exhibit to the Convention as a token of the ineptitude of the Administration of Var, that trampled under foot treasures sufficient to defray the cost of a war against all the kings of the earth.

The masses of limestone are cleft with clus, gorges through which the rivers thunder, and foux springs of living water bursting out of the bowels of the mountains.



Consider what the variety of geologic formation implies: an almost infinite variety of plants; moreover, owing to the difference of altitudes, the flora reaches in a chromatic scale from the fringe of the Alpine snows to the burning sands by the seas. In one little commune, it is estimated that there are more varieties to be found than in the whole of Ireland.

But the visitor to the seaboard—the French Côte d’azur and the Italian Riviera—returns home after a winter sojourn there with his mind stored with pictures of palms, lemons, oranges, agaves, aloes, umbrella pines, eucalyptus, mimosa, carob-trees, and olives. This is the vegetation that characterises the Riviera, that distinguishes it from vegetation elsewhere; but, although these trees and shrubs abound, and do form a dominant feature in the scenery, yet every one of them is a foreign importation, and the indigenous plants must be sought in mountain districts, away from towns, and high-roads, and railways.

These strangers from Africa, Asia, Australia and South America have occupied the best land and the warmest corners, just as of old the Greek and Roman colonists shouldered out the native tribes, and forced them to withdraw amidst the mountains.

The traveller approaching the Riviera by the line from Lyons, after passing Valence, enters a valley that narrows, through which rolls the turbid flood of the Rhone. Presently the sides become steeper, higher, more rocky, and draw closer; on the right appears Viviers, dominated by its cathedral and tower, square below, octagonal above, and here the Rhone becomes more rapid as it enters the Robinet de Donzère, between calcareous rocks full of caves and rifts. Then, all at[6] once, the line passes out of the rocky portal, and the traveller enters on another scene altogether, the vast triangular plain limited by the Alps on one side and the Cevennes on the other, and has the Mediterranean as its base. To this point at one time extended a mighty gulf, seventy miles from the present coast-line at the mouth of the Rhone. Against the friable limestone cliffs, the waves lapped and leaped. But at some unknown time a cataclysm occurred. The Alps were shaken, as we shake a tree to bring down its fruit, and the Rhone and the Durance, swollen to an enormous volume, rolled down masses of débris into this gulf and choked it. The Durance formed its own little crau along the north of the chain of the Alpines, and the Rhone the far larger crau of Arles, the pebbles of which all come from the Alps, in which the river takes it rise. But, in fact, the present craus represent but a small portion of the vast mass of rubbish brought down. They are just that part which in historic times was not overlaid with soil.



When this period was passed, the rivers relaxed their force, and repented of the waste they had made, and proceeded to chew into mud the pebbles they rolled along, and, rambling over the level stretches of rubble, to deposit upon it a fertilising epidermis. Then, in modern times, the engineers came and banked in the Rhone, to restrain its vagaries, so that now it pours its precious mud into the sea, and yearly projects its ugly muzzle further forwards. When we passed the rocky portal, we passed also from the climate of the North into that of the South, but not to that climate without hesitations. For the sun beating on the level land heats the pebble bed, so that the air above it quivers as over a lime-kiln, and, rising, is replaced by a rush of icy winds from the Alps. This downrush is the dreaded Mistral. It was a saying of old:—

“Parlement, Mistral, et Durance
Sont les trois fléaux de Provence.”

The Parliament is gone, but the Mistral still rages, and the Durance still overflows and devastates.

The plain, where cultivated, is lined and cross-lined as with Indian ink. These lines, and cross-lines, are formed of cypress, veritable walls of defence, thrown up against the wind. When the Mistral rages, they bow as whips, and the water of the lagoons is licked up and spat at the walls of the sparsely scattered villages. Here and there rises the olive, like smoke from a lowly cottage. It shrinks from the bite of the frost and the lash of the wind, and attains its proper height and vigour only as we near the sea; and is in the utmost luxuriance between Solliès Pont and Le Luc, growing on the rich new red sandstone, that skirts the Montagnes des Maures.

Presently we come on the lemon, the orange, glowing golden, oleanders in every gully, aloes (“God’s candelabra”), figs, mulberries, pines with outspread heads, like extended umbrellas, as the cypress represents one folded; cork trees, palms with tufted heads; all seen through an atmosphere of marvellous clearness, over-arched by a sky as blue as that of Italy, and with—as horizon—the deeper, the indigo blue, of the sea.

On leaving Arles, the train takes the bit between its teeth and races over the crau, straight as an arrow, between lines of cypresses. It is just possible to catch glimpses to the north, between the cypresses, of a chain[8] of hills of opalescent hue. That chain, Les Alpines, gives its direction to the Durance. This river lent its aid to Brother Rhone to form this rubble plain, the Campus lapideus of the Romans, the modern crau. This was a desert over which the mirage alternated with the Mistral, till Adam de Craponne, in the sixteenth century, brought a canal from the Durance to water the stony land, and since then, little by little, the desert is being reclaimed. This vast stony plain was a puzzle to the ancients, and Æschylus, who flourished B.C. 472, tells us that Heracles, arriving at this plain to fight the Ligurians, and being without weapons, Heaven came to his aid and poured down great stones out of the sky against his foes. This is much like the account in Joshua of the battle against the Kings in the plain of Esdraelon.

At length, at Miramas, we escape from between the espalier cypresses and see that the distant chain has drawn nearer, that it has lost its mother-of-pearl tints, and has assumed a ghastly whiteness. Then we dash among these cretaceous rocks, desolate, forbidding and dead. They will attend us from Marseilles to Toulon.

The cretaceous sea bed, that once occupied so vast an area, has been lifted into downs and mountains, and stretched from Dorset and Wiltshire to Dover. We catch a glimpse of it at Amiens. A nodule that has defied erosion sustains the town and cathedral of Laon. It underlies the Champagne country. It asserts itself sullenly and resolutely in Provence, where it overlies the Jura limestone, and is almost indistinguishable from it at the junction, for it has the same inclination, the same fossils, and the same mineralogical constituents.

In England we are accustomed to the soft skin of thymy turf that covers the chalk on our downs. Of this[9] there is none in Provence. The fierce sun forbids it. Consequently the rock is naked and cadaverously white, but scantily sprinkled over with stunted pines.

The Jura limestone is the great pièce de resistance in Provence: it is sweeter in colour than the chalk, ranging from cream white to buff and salmon; it has not the dead pallor of the chalk. Any one who has gone down the Cañon of the Tarn knows what exquisite gradations and harmonies of tone are to be found in Jura limestone. Here this formation stands up as a wall to the North, a mighty screen, sheltering the Riviera from the boreal winds. It rises precipitously to a plateau that is bald and desolate, but which is rent by ravines of great majesty and beauty, through which rush the waters from the snowy Alps. The chalk and the limestone are fissured, and allow the water flowing over their surface to filter down and issue forth in the valleys, rendering these fertile and green, whereas the plateaux are bare. The plateaux rise to the height of 3,000 or 4,500 feet.

The tract between the mountain wall of limestone and the sea is made up of a molass of rolled fragments of the rock in a paste of mud. This forms hills of considerable height, and this also is sawn through here and there by rills, or washed out by rivers.

Altogether different in character is the mass of the Montagnes des Maures, which is an uplifted body of granite and schist.

Altogether different again is the Estérel, a protruded region of red porphyry.

About these protruded masses may be seen the new red sandstone.

When we have mastered this—and it is simple enough[10] to remember—we know the character of the geology from the mouths of the Rhone to Albenga.

“The colouring of Provence,” says Mr. Hammerton, “is pretty in spring, when the fields are still green and the mulberry trees are in leaf, and the dark cypress and grey olive are only graver notes in the brightness, while the desolation of the stony hills is prevented from becoming oppressive by the freshness of the foreground; but when the hot sun and the dry wind have scorched every remnant of verdure, when any grass that remains is merely ungathered hay, and you have nothing but flying dust and blinding light, then the great truth is borne in upon you that it is Rain which is the true colour magician, though he may veil himself in a vesture of grey cloud.”

In winter and early spring it is that the coast is enjoyable. In winter there is the evergreen of the palms, the olive, the ilex, the cork tree, the carob, the orange and lemon and myrtle. Indeed, in the Montagnes des Maures and in the Estérel, it is always spring.

The resident in winter can hardly understand the structure of the towns, with streets at widest nine feet, and the houses running up to five and six storeys; but this is due to necessity. The object is double: by making the streets so narrow, the sun is excluded, and the sun in Provence is not sought as with us in England; and secondly, these narrow thoroughfares induce a draught down them. In almost every town the contrast between the new and the old is most marked, for the occupants of the new town reside there for the winter only, and therefore court the sun; whereas the inhabitants of the old town dwell in it all the year round, and consequently endeavour to obtain all protection possible from the sun. But this shyness of basking in the sun was not[11] the sole reason why the streets were made so narrow. The old towns and even villages were crowded within walls; a girdle of bulwark surrounded them, they had no space for expansion except upwards.

What Mr. Hammerton says of French towns applies especially to those of Provence:—

“France has an immense advantage over England in the better harmony between her cities and towns, and the country where they are placed. In England it rarely happens that a town adds to the beauty of a landscape; in France it often does so. In England there are many towns that are quite absolutely and hideously destructive of landscape beauty; in France there are very few. The consequence is that in France a lover of landscape does not feel that dislike to human interference which he so easily acquires in England, and which in some of our best writers, who feel most intensely and acutely, has become positive hatred and exasperation.”

It was fear of the Moors and the pirates of the Mediterranean which drove the inhabitants of the sea-coast to build their towns on the rocks, high uplifted, walled about and dominated by towers.

I will now give a hasty sketch of the early history of Provence—so far as goes to explain the nature of its population.

The earliest occupants of the seaboard named in history are the Ligurians. The Gulf of Lyons takes its name from them, in a contracted form. Who these Ligurians were, to what stock they belonged, is not known; but as there are megalithic monuments in the country, covered avenues at Castelet, near Arles, dolmens at Draguignan and Saint Vallier, a menhir at Cabasse, we may perhaps conclude with some probability[12] that they were a branch of that great Ivernian race which has covered all Western Europe with these mysterious remains. At an early period, the Phœnicians established trading depôts at Marseilles, Nice, and elsewhere along the coast. Monaco was dedicated to their god, Melkarth, whose equivalent was the Greek Heracles, the Roman Hercules. The story of Heracles fighting the gigantic Ligurians on the crau, assisted by Zeus pouring down a hail of pebbles from heaven, is merely a fabulous rendering of the historic fact that the Phœnician settlers had to fight the Ligurians, represented as giants, not because they were of monstrous size, but because of their huge stone monuments.

The Phœnicians drew a belt of colonies and trading stations along the Mediterranean, and were masters of the commerce. The tin of Britain, the amber of the Baltic, passed through their hands, and their great emporium was Marseilles. It was they who constructed the Heraclean Road, afterwards restored and regulated by the Romans, that connected all their settlements from the Italian frontier to the Straits of Gibraltar. They have left traces of their sojourn in place names; in their time, Saint Gilles, then Heraclea, was a port at the mouth of the Rhone; now it is thirty miles inland. Herculea Caccabaria, now Saint Tropez, recalls Kaccabe, the earliest name of Carthage. One of the islets outside the harbour of Marseilles bore the name of Phœnice.

This energetic people conveyed the ivory of Africa to Europe, worked the lead mines of the Eastern Pyrenees, and sent the coral and purple of the Mediterranean and the bronze of the Po basin over Northern Europe. The prosperity of Tyre depended on its trade.


“Inventors of alphabetical writing, of calculation, and of astronomy, essential to them in their distant navigations, skilful architects, gold-workers, jewellers, engravers, weavers, dyers, miners, founders, glass-workers, coiners, past-masters of all industries, wonderful sailors, intrepid tradesmen, the Phœnicians, by their incomparable activity, held the old world in their grip; and from the Persian Gulf to the Isles of Britain, either by their caravans or by their ships, were everywhere present as buyers or sellers.”[1]

Archæological discoveries come to substantiate the conclusions arrived at from scanty allusions by the ancients. The Carthaginians had succeeded to the trade of Tyre; but Carthage was a daughter of Tyre. At Marseilles have been found forty-seven little stone chapels or shrines of Melkarth, seated under an arch, either with his hands raised, sustaining the arch, or with them resting on his knees; and these are identical in character with others found at Tyre, Sidon, and Carthage. Nor is this all. An inscription has been unearthed, also at Marseilles, containing a veritable Levitical code for the worship of Baal, regulating the emoluments of his priests.

In the year B.C. 542 a fleet of Phocœans came from Asia Minor, flying from the Medes; and the citizens of Phocœa, abandoning their ancient homes, settled along the coast of the Riviera. Arles, Marseilles, Nice—all the towns became Greek. It was they who introduced into the land of their adoption the vine and the olive. They acquired the trade of the Mediterranean after the fall of Carthage, B.C. 146.

The Greeks of the coast kept on good terms with Rome. They it was who warned Rome of the approach[14] of Hannibal; and when the Ambrons and Teutons poured down a mighty host with purpose to devastate Italy, the Phocœan city of Marseilles furnished Marius with a contingent, and provisioned his camp at the junction of the Durance with the Rhone.

The Romans were desirous of maintaining good relations with the Greek colonies, and when the native Ligurians menaced Nice and Antibes, they sent an army to their aid, and having defeated the barbarians, gave up the conquered territory to the Greeks.

In B.C. 125, Lucius Sextius Calvinus attacked the native tribes in their fastness, defeated them, and founded the town of Aquæ Sextiæ, about the hot springs that rise there—now Aix. The Ligurians were driven to the mountains and not suffered to approach the sea coast, which was handed over entirely to the Greeks of Marseilles.

So highly stood the credit of Marseilles, that when, after the conclusion of the Asiatic War, the Senate of Rome had decreed the destruction of Phocœa, they listened to a deputation from Marseilles, pleading for the mother city, and revoked the sentence. Meanwhile, the Gauls had been pressing south, and the unfortunate Ligurians, limited to the stony plateaux and the slopes of the Alps, were nipped between them and the Greeks and Romans along the coast. They made terms with the Gauls and formed a Celto-Ligurian league. They were defeated, and the Senate of Rome decreed the annexation of all the territory from the Rhone to the Alps, to constitute thereof a province. Thenceforth the cities and slopes of the coast became places of residence for wealthy Romans, who had there villas and gardens. The towns were supplied with amphitheatres and baths.[15] Theatres they possessed before, under the Greeks; but the brutal pleasures of the slaughter of men was an introduction by the Romans. The remains of these structures at Nîmes, Arles, Fréjus, Cimiez, testify to the crowds that must have delighted in these horrible spectacles. That of Nîmes would contain from 17,000 to 23,000 spectators; that of Arles 25,000; that of Fréjus an equal number.

Wherever the Roman empire extended, there may be seen the same huge structures, almost invariable in plan, and all devoted to pleasure and luxury. The forum, the temples, sink into insignificance beside the amphitheatre, the baths, and the circus. Citizens of the empire lived for their ease and amusements, and concerned themselves little about public business. In the old days of the Republic, the interests, the contests, of the people were forensic. The forum was their place of assembly. But with the empire all was changed. Public transaction of business ceased, the despotic Cæsar provided for, directed, governed all, Roman citizens and subject peoples alike. They were left with nothing to occupy them, and they rushed to orgies of blood. Thus these vast erections tell us, more than the words of any historian, how great was the depravity of the Roman character.

But with the fifth century this condition of affairs came to an end. The last time that the circus of Arles was used for races was in 462. The theatre there was wrecked by a deacon called Cyril in 446. At the head of a mob he burst into it, and smashed the loveliest statues of the Greek chisel, and mutilated every article of decoration therein. The stage was garnished with elegant colonnets; all were thrown down and broken, except a few that were carried off to decorate churches.[16] All the marble casing was ripped away, the bas-reliefs were broken up, and the fragments heaped in the pit. There was some excuse for this iconoclasm. The stage had become licentious to the last degree, and there was no drawing the people from the spectacles. “If,” says Salvian, “as often happens, the public games coincide with a festival of the Church, where will the crowd be? In the house of God, or in the amphitheatre?”

During that fifth century the Visigoths and the Burgundians threatened Provence. When these entered Gaul they were the most humanised of the barbarians; they had acquired some aptitude for order, some love of the discipline of civil life. They did not devastate the cities, they suffered them to retain their old laws, their religion, and their customs. With the sixth century the domination of the Visigoths was transferred beyond the Pyrenees, and the Burgundians had ceased to be an independent nation; the Franks remained masters over almost the whole of Gaul.

In 711 the Saracens, or Moors, crossed over at Gibraltar and invaded Spain. They possessed themselves as well of Sicily, Sardinia, and the Balearic Isles. Not content with this, they cast covetous eyes on Gaul. They poured through the defiles of the Pyrenees and spread over the rich plains of Aquitaine and of Narbonne. Into this latter city the Calif Omar II. broke in 720, massacred every male, and reduced the women to slavery. Béziers, Saint Gilles, Arles, were devastated; Nîmes opened to them her gates. The horde mounted the valley of the Rhone and penetrated to the heart of France. Autun was taken and burnt in 725. All Provence to the Alps was theirs. Then in 732 came the most terrible of their invasions. More than 500,000 men, according to the[17] chroniclers, led by Abdel-Raman, crossed the Pyrenees, took the road to Bordeaux, which they destroyed, and ascended the coast till they were met and annihilated by Charles Martel on the field of Poitiers.

From this moment the struggle changed its character. The Christians assumed the offensive. Charles Martel pursued the retreating host, and took from them the port of Maguelonne; and when a crowd of refugees sought shelter in the amphitheatre of Arles, he set fire to it and hurled them back into the flames as they attempted to escape. Their last stronghold was Narbonne, where they held out for seven years, and then in 759 that also fell, and the Moorish power for evil in France was at an end; but all the south, from the Alps to the ocean, was strewn with ruins.

They were not, however, wholly discouraged. Not again, indeed, did they venture across the Pyrenees in a great host; but they harassed the towns on the coast, and intercepted the trade. When the empire of Charlemagne was dismembered, Provence was separated from France and constituted a kingdom, under the administration of one Boso, who was crowned at Arles in 879. This was the point of departure of successive changes, which shall be touched on in the sequel. The German kings and emperors laid claim to Provence as a vassal state, and it was not till 1481 that it was annexed to the Crown of France. Avignon and the Venaissin were not united to France till 1791.

In no part of Europe probably did pagan customs linger on with such persistence as in this favoured land of Provence, among a people of mixed blood—Ligurian, Phœnician, Greek, Roman, Saracen. Each current of uniting blood brought with it some superstition, some[18] vicious propensity, or some strain of fancy. In the very first mention we have of the Greek settlers, allusion is made to the Floral Games. The Battle of Flowers, that draws so many visitors to Nice, Mentone, and Cannes, is a direct descendant from them; but it has acquired a decent character comparatively recently.

At Arles, the Feast of Pentecost was celebrated throughout the Middle Ages by games ending with races of girls, stark naked, and the city magistrates presided over them, and distributed the prizes, which were defrayed out of the town chest. It was not till the sixteenth century, owing to the remonstrances of a Capuchin friar, that the exhibition was discontinued. Precisely the same took place at Beaucaire. At Grasse, every Thursday in Lent saw the performance in the public place of dances and obscene games, and these were not abolished till 1706 by the energy of the bishop, who threatened to excommunicate every person convicted of taking part in the disgusting exhibition of “Les Jouvines.”

A native of Tours visited Provence in the seventeenth century, and was so scandalised at what he saw there, that he wrote, in 1645, a letter of remonstrance to his friend Gassendi. Here is what he says of the manner in which the festival of S. Lazarus was celebrated at Marseilles:—

“The town celebrates this feast by dances that have the appearance of theatrical representations, through the multitude and variety of the figures performed. All the inhabitants assemble, men and women alike, wear grotesque masks, and go through extravagant capers. One would think they were satyrs fooling with nymphs. They hold hands, and race through the town, preceded by flutes and violins. They form an unbroken chain, which winds and wriggles in and out[19] among the streets, and this they call le Grand Branle. But why this should be done in honour of S. Lazarus is a mystery to me, as indeed are a host of other extravagances of which Provence is full, and to which the people are so attached, that if any one refuses to take part in them, they will devastate his crops and his belongings.”

The carnival and micarême have taken the place of this exhibition; and no one who has seen the revelries at these by night can say that this sort of fooling is nearing its end. Now these exhibitions have become a source of profit to the towns, as drawing foreigners to them, and enormous sums are lavished by the municipalities upon them annually. The people of the place enter into them with as much zest as in the centuries that have gone by.

Dancing in churches and churchyards lasted throughout the Middle Ages. The clergy in vain attempted to put it down, and, unable to effect this, preceded these choric performances by a sermon, to deter the people from falling into excesses of extravagance and vice. At Limoges, not indeed in Provence, the congregation was wont to intervene in the celebration of the feast of their apostle, S. Martial, by breaking out into song in the psalms, “Saint Martial pray for us, and we will dance for you!” Whereupon they joined hands and spun round in the church.[2]

This leads to the mention of what is of no small interest in the history of the origin of part-singing. Anyone familiar with vespers, as performed in French churches, is aware that psalms and canticles are sung in one or other fashion: either alternate verses alone are[20] chanted, and the gap is filled in by the organ going through astounding musical frolics; or else one verse is chanted in plain-song, and the next in fauxbourdon—that is to say, the tenor holds on to the plain-song, whilst treble and alto gambol at a higher strain a melody different, but harmonious with the plain-song. In Provence at high mass the Gloria and Credo are divided into paragraphs, and in like manner are sung alternately in plain-song and fauxbourdon. The origin of this part-singing is very curious. The congregation, loving to hear their own voices, and not particularly interested in, or knowing the Latin words, broke out into folk-song at intervals, in the same “mode” as that of the tone sung by the clergy. They chirped out some love ballad or dance tune, whilst the officiants in the choir droned the Latin of the liturgy. Even so late as 1645, the Provençals at Christmas were wont to sing in the Magnificat a vulgar song—

“Que ne vous requinquez-vous, Vielle,
Que ne vous requinquez, donc?”

which may be rendered—

“Why do you trick yourself out, old woman?
O why do you trick yourself so?”

In order to stop this sort of thing the clergy had recourse to “farcing” the canticles, i.e. translating each verse into the vernacular, and interlarding the Latin with the translation, in hopes that the people, if sing they would, would adopt these words; but the farced canticles were not to the popular taste, and they continued to roar out lustily their folk-songs, often indelicate, always unsuitable. This came to such a pass[21] that either the organ was introduced to bellow the people down, or else the system was accepted and regulated; and to this is due the fauxbourdon. But in Italy and in the South of France it passed for a while beyond regulation. The musicians accepted it, and actually composed masses, in which the tenor alone sang the sacred words and the other parts performed folk-songs.

As Mr. Addington Symonds says:—

“The singers were allowed innumerable licences. Whilst the tenor sustained the Gregorian melody, the other voices indulged in extempore descant, regardless of the style of the main composition, violating time, and setting even the fundamental tone at defiance. The composers, to advance another step in the analysis of this strange medley, took particular delight in combining different sets of words, melodies of widely diverse character, antagonistic rhythms, and divergent systems of accentuation, in a single piece. They assigned these several ingredients to several parts, and for the further exhibition of their perverse skill, went even to the length of coupling themes in the major and the minor. The most obvious result of such practice was that it became impossible to understand what was being sung, and that instead of concord and order in the choir, a confused discord and anarchy of dinning sounds prevailed. What made the matter, from an ecclesiastical point of view, still worse, was that these scholastically artificial compositions were frequently based on trivial and vulgar tunes, suggesting the tavern, the dancing-room, or even worse places, to worshippers assembled for the celebration of a Sacrament. Masses bore titles adopted from the popular airs on which they were founded; such, for example, as Adieu, mes amours, À l’ombre d’un buissonnet, Baise moi, Le vilain jaloux. Even the words of love ditties and obscene ballads were being squalled out by the tenor (treble?) while[22] the bass (tenor?) gave utterance to an Agnus Dei or a Benedictus, and the soprano (alto?) was engaged upon the verses of a Latin hymn. Baini, who examined hundreds of the masses and motetts in MS., says that the words imported into them from vulgar sources ‘make one’s flesh creep, and one’s hair stand on end.’ He does not venture to do more than indicate a few of the more decent of these interloping verses. As an augmentation of this indecency, numbers from a mass which started with the grave rhythm of a Gregorian tone were brought to their conclusion on the dance measure of a popular ballata, so that Incarnatus est or Kyrie eleison went jigging off into suggestions of Masetto and Zerlina at a village ball.”[3]

The musicians who composed these masses simply accepted what was customary, and all they did was to endeavour to reduce the hideous discords to harmony. But it was this superposing of folk-songs on Gregorian tones that gave the start to polyphonic singing. The state of confusion into which ecclesiastical music had fallen by this means rendered it necessary that a reformation should be undertaken, and the Council of Trent (Sept. 17, 1562) enjoined on the Ordinaries to “exclude from churches all such music as, whether through the organ or the singing, introduces anything impure or lascivious, in order that the house of God may truly be seen to answer to its name, A House of Prayer.” Indeed, all concerted and part music was like to have been wholly banished from the service of the church, had not Palestrina saved it by the composition of the “Mass of Pope Marcellus.”

A visitor to Provence will look almost in vain for churches in the Gothic style. A good many were built after Lombard models. There remained too many[23] relics of Roman structures for the Provençals to take kindly to the pointed arch. The sun had not to be invited to pour into the naves, but was excluded as much as might be, consequently the richly traceried windows of northern France find no place here. The only purely Gothic church of any size is that of S. Maximin in Var. That having been a conventual church, imported its architects from the north.

One curious and indeed unique feature is found in the Provençal cathedral churches: the choir for the bishop and chapter is at the west end, in the gallery, over the narthex or porch. This was so at Grasse; it remains intact at Vence.



The formation of the Provençal tongue—Vernacular ballads and songs: brought into church—Recitative and formal music—Rhythmic music of the people: traces of it in ancient times: S. Ambrose writes hymns to it—People sing folk-songs in church—Hymns composed to folk-airs—The language made literary by the Troubadours—Position of women—The ideal love—Ideal love and marriage could not co-exist—William de Balaun—Geofrey Rudel—Poem of Pierre de Barjac—Boccaccio scouts the Chivalric and Troubadour ideals.

WHAT the language of the Ligurians was we do not know. Among them came the Phœnicians, then the Greeks, next the Romans. The Roman soldiery and slaves and commercials did not talk the stilted Latin of Cicero, but a simple vernacular. Next came the Visigoths and the Saracens. What a jumble of peoples and tongues! And out of these tongues fused together the Langue d’oc was evolved.

It is remarkable how readily some subjugated peoples acquire the language of their conquerors. The Gauls came to speak Latin. The Welsh—the bulk of the population was not British at all; dark-haired and dark-eyed, they were conquered by the Cymri and adopted their tongue. So in Provence, although there is a strong strain of Ligurian blood, the Ligurian tongue is gone[25] past recall. The prevailing language is Romance; that is to say, the vernacular Latin. Verna means a slave; it was the gabble of the lower classes, mainly a bastard Latin, but holding in suspense drift words from Greek and Gaulish and Saracen. In substance it was the vulgar talk of the Latins. Of this we have curious evidence in 813. In his old age Charlemagne concerned himself much with Church matters, and he convoked five Councils in five quarters of his empire to regulate Church matters. These Councils met in Mainz, Rheims, Châlons, Tours, and Arles. It was expressly laid down in all of these, save only in that of Arles, that the clergy should catechise and preach in the vulgar tongue; where there were Franks, in German; where there were Gauls, in the Romance. But no such rule was laid down in the Council of Arles, for the very reason that Latin was still the common language of the people, the simple Latin of the gospels, such as was perfectly understood by the people when addressed in it.

The liturgy was not fixed and uniform. In many secondary points each Church had its own use. Where most liberty and variety existed was in the hymns. The singing of hymns was not formally introduced into the offices of the Church till the tenth century; but every church had its collection of hymns, sung by the people at vigils, in processions, intercalated in the offices. In Normandy it was a matter of complaint that whilst the choir took breath the women broke in with unsuitable songs, nugacis cantalenis. At funerals such coarse ballads were sung that Charlemagne had to issue orders that where the mourners did not know any psalm they were to shout Kyrie eleison, and nothing else. Agobard, Bishop of Lyons, A.D. 814-840, says that when he entered on[26] his functions he found in use in the church an antiphonary compiled by the choir bishop, Amalric, consisting of songs so secular, and many of them so indecent, that, to use the expression of the pious bishop, they could not be read without mantling the brow with shame.

One of these early antiphonaries exists, a MS. of the eleventh century belonging to the church of S. Martial. Among many wholly unobjectionable hymns occurs a ballad of the tale of Judith; another is frankly an invocation to the nightingale, a springtide song; a third is a dialogue between a lover and his lass.

It is in the ecclesiastical hymns, religious lessons, and legends couched in the form of ballads, coming into use in the eighth and ninth centuries, that we have the germs, the rudiments, of a new literature; not only so, but also the introduction of formal music gradually displacing music that is recitative.

Of melodies there are two kinds, the first used as a handmaid to poetry; in it there is nothing formal. A musical phrase may be repeated or may not, as required to give force to the words employed. This was the music of the Greek and Roman theatre. The lyrics of Horace and Tibullus could be sung to no other. This, and this alone, was the music adopted by the Church, and which we have still in the Nicene Creed, Gloria, Sanctus, and Pater Noster. But this never could have been the music of the people—it could not be used by soldiers to march to, nor by the peasants as dance tunes.

Did rhythmic music exist among the ancients side by side with recitative? Almost certainly it did, utterly despised by the cultured.


When Julius Cæsar was celebrating his triumph at Rome after his Gaulish victories, we are informed that the soldiery marched singing out:—

“Gallias Cæsar subegit
Mithridates Cæsarem.
Ecce Cæsar nunc triumphat,
Qui subegit Gallias,
Nicomedes non triumphat,
Qui subegit Cæsarem.”

This must have been sung to a formal melody, to which the soldiers tramped in time.

So also Cæsar, in B.C. 49, like a liberal-minded man, desired to admit the principal men of Cisalpine Gaul into the Senate. This roused Roman prejudice and mockery. Prejudice, because the Gauls were esteemed barbarians; mockery, because of their peculiar costume—their baggy trousers. So the Roman rabble composed and sang verses, “illa vulgo canebantur.” These may be rendered in the same metre:—

“Cæsar led the Gauls in triumph,

Then to Senate-house admits.

First must they pull off their trousers,

Ere the laticlavus fits.”

Now, it may be noted that in both instances the rhythm is not at all that of the scientifically constructed metric lines of Horace, Tibullus, and Catullus, but is neither more nor less than our familiar 8.7. time. The first piece of six lines in 8.7. is precisely that of “Lo! He comes in clouds descending.” The second of four lines is that of the familiar Latin hymn, Tantum ergo,[28] and is indeed that also of our hymn, “Hark! the sound of holy voices.”[4]

Nor is this all. Under Cæsar’s statue were scribbled the lines of a lampoon; that also was in 8.7. Suetonius gives us another snatch of a popular song relative to Cæsar, in the same measure. Surely this goes to establish the fact that the Roman populace had their own folk-music, which was rhythmic, with tonal accent, distinct from the fashionable music of the theatre.

Now, it is quite true that in Latin plays there was singing, and, what is more, songs introduced. For instance, in the Captivi of Plautus, in the third act, Hegio comes on the stage singing—

“Quid est suavius quam

Bene rem gerere bono publico, sicut feci
Ego heri, quum eius hosce homines, ubi quisque

Vident me hodie,” etc.

But I defy any musician to set his song to anything else but recitative; the metre is intricate and varied.

Now of rhythmic melody we have nothing more till the year A.D. 386, when, at Milan, the Empress Justina ordered that a church should be taken from the Catholics and be delivered over to the Arians.

Thereupon S. Ambrose, the bishop, took up his abode within the sacred building, that was also crowded by the faithful, who held it as a garrison for some days. To occupy the people Ambrose hastily scribbled down some hymns—not at all in the old classic metres, but[29] in rhythmic measure—and set them to sing these, no doubt whatever, to familiar folk-airs. Thirteen of the hymns of S. Ambrose remain. His favourite metre is—

“Te lucis ante terminum,”

our English Long Measure. And what is more, the traditional tunes to which he set these hymns have been handed down, so that in these we probably possess the only ascertainable relics of Roman folk-airs of the fourth century, and who can tell of how much earlier?

Now, in ancient days the people were wont to crowd to church on the vigils of festivals and spend the night in or outside the churches in singing and dancing. To drive out the profane and indelicate songs, the clergy composed hymns and set them to the folk-airs then in vogue. These hymns came into use more and more, and at length simply forced their way into the services of the Church—but were not recognised as forming a legitimate part of it till the tenth century.

The ecclesiastical hymns for the people, after having been composed in barbarous Latin, led by a second step to the vernacular Romance. The transition was easy, and was, indeed, inevitable. And in music, recitative fell into disfavour, and formal music, to which poetry is the handmaid, came into popular usage exclusively; recitative lingering on only in the liturgy of the Church. The Provençal language was now on its way to becoming fixed and homogeneous; the many local variations found in the several districts tending to effacement.

Then came the golden age of the Troubadours, who did more than any before to fix the tongue. In the twelfth century the little courts of the Provençal[30] nobles were renowned for gallantry. In fact, the knights and barons and counts of the South plumed themselves on setting the fashion to Christendom. In the South there was none of that rivalry existing elsewhere between the knights in their castles and the citizens in the towns. In every other part of Western Europe the line of demarcation was sharp between the chivalry and the bourgeoisie. Knighthood could only be conferred on one who was noble and who owned land. It was otherwise in the South; the nobility and the commercial class were on the best of terms, and one great factor in this fusion was the Troubadour, who might spring from behind a counter as well as from a knightly castle.

The chivalry of the South, and the Troubadour, evolved the strange and, to our ideas, repulsive theory of love, which was, for a time, universally accepted. What originated it was this:

In the south of France women could possess fiefs and all the authority and power attaching to them. From this political capacity of women it followed that marriages were contracted most ordinarily by nobles with an eye to the increase of their domains. Ambition was the dominant passion, and to that morality, sentiment, inclination, had to give way and pass outside their matrimonial plans. Consequently, in the feudal caste, marriages founded on such considerations were regarded as commercial contracts only, and led to a most curious moral and social phenomenon.

The idea was formed of love as a sentiment, from which every sensual idea was excluded, in which, on the woman’s side, all was condescension and compassion, on the man’s all submission and homage. Every[31] lady must have her devoted knight or minstrel—her lover, in fact, who could not and must not be her husband; and every man who aspired to be courteous must have his mistress.

“There are,” says a Troubadour, “four degrees in Love: the first is hesitancy, the second is suppliancy, the third is acceptance, and the fourth is friendship. He who would love a lady and goes to court her, but does not venture on addressing her, is in the stage of Hesitancy. But if the lady gives him any encouragement, and he ventures to tell her of his pains, then he has advanced to the stage of Suppliant. And if, after speaking to his lady and praying her, she retains him as her knight, by the gift of ribbons, gloves, or girdle, then he enters on the grade of Acceptance. And if, finally, it pleases the lady to accord to her loyal accepted lover so much as a kiss, then she has elevated him to Friendship.”

In the life of a knight the contracting of such an union was a most solemn moment. The ceremony by which it was sealed was formulated on that in which a vassal takes oath of fealty to a sovereign. Kneeling before the lady, with his hands joined between hers, the knight devoted himself and all his powers to her, swore to serve her faithfully to death, and to defend her to the utmost of his power from harm and insult. The lady, on her side, accepted these services, promised in return the tenderest affections of her heart, put a gold ring on his finger as pledge of union, and then raising him gave him a kiss, always the first, and often the only one he was to receive from her. An incident in the Provençal romance of Gerard de Roussillon shows us just what were the ideas prevalent as to marriage and love at this time. Gerard was desperately in love with a lady, but she was moved by[32] ambition to accept in his place Charles Martel, whom the author makes into an Emperor. Accordingly Gerard marries the sister of the Empress on the same day. No sooner is the double ceremonial complete than,—

“Gerard led the queen aside under a tree, and with her came two counts and her sister (Gerard’s just-acquired wife). Gerard spoke and said, ‘What will you say to me now, O wife of an Emperor, as to the exchange I have made of you for a very inferior article?’ ‘Do not say that,’ answered the Queen; ‘say a worthy object, of high value, Sir. But it is true that through you I am become Queen, and that out of love for me you have taken my sister to wife. Be you my witnesses, Counts Gervais and Bertelais, and you also, my sister, and confidante of all my thoughts, and you, above all, Jesus, my Redeemer; know all that I have given my love to duke Gerard along with this ring and this flower. I love him more than father and husband!’ Then they separated; but their love always endured, without there ever being any harm come of it, but only a tender longing and secret thoughts.”

The coolness of Gerard, before his just-received wife, disparaging her, and swearing everlasting love to the new-made Queen, the moment after they have left church, is sufficiently astounding.

So completely was it an accepted theory that love could not exist along with marriage, that it was held that even if those who had been lovers married, union ipso facto dissolved love. A certain knight loved a lady, who, however, had set her affections on another. All she could promise the former was that should she lose her own true love, she would look to him. Soon after this she married the lord of her heart, and at once the discarded lover applied to be taken on as her servitor.[33] The lady refused, saying that she had her lover—her husband; and the controversy was brought before the Court of Love. Eleanor of Poitiers presided, and pronounced against the lady. She condemned her to take on the knight as her lover, because she actually had lost her own lover, by marrying him.

We probably form an erroneous idea as to the immorality of these contracts, because we attach to the idea of love a conception foreign to that accorded it by the chivalry of Provence in the twelfth century. With them it was a mystic exaltation, an idealising of a lady into a being of superior virtue, beauty, spirituality. And because it was a purely ideal relation it could not subsist along with a material relation such as marriage. It was because this connexion was ideal only that the counts and viscounts and barons looked with so much indifference, or even indulgence, on their wives contracting it. There were exceptions, where the lady carried her condescension too far. But the very extravagance of terms employed towards the ladies is the best possible evidence that the Troubadours knew them very little, and by no means intimately. Bertram, to Helena, was “a bright particular star,” but only so because he was much away from Roussillon, and—

“So high above me

In his bright radiance and collateral light
Must I be computed, not in his sphere.”

When she became his wife she discovered that he was a mere cub. Cœlia was no goddess to Strephon. So the privileged “servant,” worshipped, and only could frame his mind to worship, because held at a great distance, too far to note the imperfections in temper, in person, in mind, of the much-belauded lady.


A friend told me that he was staggered out of his posture of worship to his newly acquired wife by seeing her clean her teeth. It had not occurred to him that her lovely pearls could need a toothbrush.

William de Balaun, a good knight and Troubadour, loved and served Guillelmine de Taviac, wife of a seigneur of that name. He debated in his mind which was the highest felicity, winning the favour of a lady, or, after losing it, winning it back again. He resolved to put this question to the proof, so he affected the sulks, and behaved to the lady with rudeness—would not speak, turned his back on her. At first she endeavoured to soothe him, but when that failed withdrew, and would have no more to say to him. De Balaun now changed his mood, and endeavoured to make her understand that he was experimentalising in the Gai Saber, that was all. She remained obdurate till a mutual friend intervened. Then she consented to receive William de Balaun again into her favour, if he would tear out one of his nails and serve it up to her on a salver along with a poem in praise of her beauty. And on these terms he recovered his former place.

Geofrey Rudel had neither seen the Countess of Tripoli nor cast his eyes on her portrait, but chose to fall in love with her at the simple recital of her beauty and virtue. For long he poured forth verses in her honour; but at last, drawn to Syria by desire of seeing her, he embarked, fell mortally ill on the voyage, and arrived at Tripoli to expire; satisfied that he had bought at this price the pleasure of casting his eyes on the princess, and hearing her express sorrow that he was to be snatched away.

In a great many cases, probably in the majority of[35] cases, there was no amorous passion excited. It was simply a case of bread and butter. The swarm of knights and Troubadours that hovered about an exalted lady, was drawn to her, not at all by her charms, but by her table, kitchen, and cellar—in a word, by cupboard love.

In their own little bastides they led a dull life, and were very impecunious. If they could get some lady of rank to accept their services, they obtained free quarters in her castle, ate and drank of her best, and received gratuities for every outrageously flattering sonnet. If she were elderly and plain—that mattered not, it rather favoured the acceptance, for she would then not be nice in selecting her cher ami. All that was asked in return was, that he should fetch her gloves, hold her stirrup, fight against any one who spoke a disparaging word, and turn heels over head to amuse her on a rainy day.

A little poem by Pierre de Barjac is extant. He loved and served a noble lady De Javac. One day she gave him to understand that he was dismissed. He retired, not a little surprised and mortified, but returned a few days later with a poem, of which these are some of the strophes:—

“Lady, I come before you, frankly to say good-bye for ever. Thanks for your favour in giving me your love and a merry life, as long as it suited you. Now, as it no longer suits you, it is quite right that you should pick up another friend who will please you better than myself. I have naught against that. We part on good terms, as though nothing had been between us.

“Perhaps, because I seem sad, you may fancy that I am speaking more seriously than usual; but that you are mistaken[36] in this, I will convince you. I know well enough that you have some one else in your eye. Well, so have I in mine—some one to love after being quit of you. She will maintain me; she is young, you are waxing old. If she be not quite as noble as yourself, she is, at all events, far prettier and better tempered.

“If our mutual oath of engagement is at all irksome to your conscience, let us go before a priest—you discharge me, and I will discharge you. Then each of us can loyally enter on a new love affair. If I have ever done anything to annoy you, forgive me; I, on my part, forgive you with all my heart; and a forgiveness without heart is not worth much.”

During the winter these professional lovers resided at the castles of the counts and viscounts. In the spring they mounted their horses and wandered away, some in quest of a little fighting, some to loiter in distant courts, some to attend to their own farms and little properties. Each as he left doubtless received a purse from the lady he had served and sung, together with a fresh pair of stockings, and with his linen put in order.

“Love,” says Mr. Green, in his History of the English People, “was the one theme of troubadour and trouveur; but it was a love of refinement, of romantic follies, of scholastic discussions, of sensuous enjoyment—a plaything rather than a passion. Nature had to reflect the pleasant indolence of man; the song of the minstrel moved through a perpetual May-time; the grass was ever green; the music of the lark and the nightingale rang out from field and thicket. There was a gay avoidance of all that is serious, moral, or reflective in man’s life. Life was too amusing to be serious, too piquant, too sentimental, too full of interest and gaiety and chat.”

That this professional, sentimental love-making went[37] beyond bounds occasionally is more than probable, for human nature cannot be controlled by such a spider-web system. It will break through. Every one knows the story of William de Cabestaing, who loved and served among others—for he was to one thing constant never—Sermonde, wife of Raymond de Roussillon, whereupon the husband had him murdered, and his heart roasted and dished up at table. When Sermonde was told what she had eaten, she threw herself out of a window. But is the story true? Much the same tale occurs thrice in Boccaccio; once of Sermonde, something of the same in the Cup, and again in the Pot of Basil; moreover, the same tale is told of others.

This artificial theory of love was carried to the Court of Naples, and to that of Frederick II. at Palermo. It brought after it an inevitable reaction, and this found its fullest expression in Boccaccio.

“All the mediæval enthusiasms,” says Mr. Addington Symonds, “are reviewed and criticised from the standpoint of the Florentine bottega and piazza. It is as though the bourgeois, not content with having made nobility a crime, were bent upon extinguishing its spirit. The tale of Agilult vulgarises the chivalrous conception of love ennobling men of low estate, by showing how a groom, whose heart is set upon a queen, avails himself of opportunity. Tancred burlesques the knightly reverence for a stainless scutcheon, by the extravagance of his revenge. The sanctity of the Thebaid, that ascetic dream of purity and self-renunciation for God’s service, is made ridiculous by Ailbech. Sen Ciappelletto brings contempt upon the canonisation of saints. The confessional, the worship of relics, the priesthood, and the monastic orders, are derided with the deadliest persiflage. Christ Himself is scoffed at in a jest which points the most[38] indecent of these tales. Marriage offers a never-failing theme for scorn; and when, by way of contrast, the novelist paints an ideal wife, he runs into such hyperboles that the very patience of Griselda is a satire on its dignity.”[5]




The arrival of the Phocœans—The story of Protis and Gyptis—Siege of Marseilles by Cæsar—Pythias the first to describe Britain—The old city—Encroachment of the sea—S. Victor—Christianity: when introduced—S. Lazarus—Cannebière—The old galley—Siege by the Constable de Bourbon—Plague—The Canal de Marseilles—The plague of 1720—Bishop Belzunce—The Revolution—The Marseillaise—The Reign of Terror at Marseilles—The Clary girls.

AS has been already stated, Massilia, or Marseilles, was originally a Phœnician trading station. Then it was occupied by the Phocœans from Asia Minor. It came about in this fashion.

In the year B.C. 599 a few Phocœean vessels, under the guidance of an adventurer called Eumenes, arrived in the bay of Marseilles. The first care of the new arrivals was to place themselves under the protection of the Ligurians, and they sent an ambassador, a young Greek named Protis, with presents to the native chief, Nann, at Arles. By a happy coincidence Protis arrived on the day upon which Nann had assembled the warriors of his tribe, and had brought forth his daughter, Gyptis, to choose a husband among them. The arrival of the young Greek was a veritable coup de théâtre. He took his place at the banquet. His Greek beauty, his graceful form and polished manners, so different from the ruggedness and uncouthness of the Ligurians, impressed the damsel,[40] and going up to him, she presented him with the goblet of wine, which was the symbol of betrothal. Protis put it to his lips, and the alliance was concluded.

The legend is doubtless mythical, but it shows us, disguised under the form of a tale, what actually took place, that the Ionian settlers did contract marriages with the natives. But the real great migration took place in B.C. 542, fifty-seven years later.

Harpagus, the general of Cyrus, was ravaging Asia Minor, and he invested Phocœa. As the Ionians in the town found that they could hold out no longer, their general, Dionysos, thus addressed them:

“Our affairs are in a critical state, and we have to decide at once whether we are to remain free, or to bow our necks in servitude, and be treated as runaway slaves. Now, if you be willing to undergo some hardships, you will be able to secure your freedom.”

Then he advised that they should lade their vessels with all their movable goods, put on them their wives and children, and leave their native land.

Soon after this Harpagus saw a long line of vessels, their sails swelled with the wind, and the water glancing from their oars, issue from the port and pass away over the blue sea towards the western sun. All the inhabitants had abandoned the town. Dionysos had heard a good report of the Ligurian coast, and thither he steered, and was welcomed by his countrymen who had settled there half a century before.

But the Ligurians did not relish this great migration, and they resolved on massacring the new arrivals, and of taking advantage of the celebration of the Floral Games for carrying out their plan. Accordingly they[41] sent in their weapons through the gates of Marseilles, heaped over with flowers and boughs, and a party of Ligurians presented themselves unarmed, as flocking in to witness the festival. But other Ligurian girls beside Gyptis had fallen in love with and had contracted marriages with the Greeks, and one of these betrayed the plot. Accordingly the Phocœans closed their gates, and drawing the weapons from under the wreaths of flowers, slaughtered the Ligurians with their own arms.

From Marseilles the Greeks spread along the coast and founded numerous other towns, and, penetrating inland, made of Arles a Greek city.

In the civil war that broke out between Cæsar and Pompey, Marseilles, unhappily for her, threw in her lot with the latter. Cæsar, at the head of his legions, appeared before the gates, and found them closed against him. It was essential for Cæsar to obtain possession of the town and port, and he invested it. Beyond the walls was a sacred wood in which mysterious rites were performed, and which was held in the highest veneration by the Massiliots. Cæsar ordered that it should be hewn down; but his soldiers shrank from profaning it. Then snatching up an axe, he exclaimed, “Fear not, I take the crime upon myself!” and smote at an oak. Emboldened by his words and action, the soldiers now felled the trees, and out of them Cæsar fashioned twelve galleys and various machines for the siege.

Obliged to hurry into Spain, he left some of his best troops under his lieutenants C. Trebonius and D. Brutus to continue operations against Marseilles; the former was in command of the land forces, and Brutus was admiral of the improvised fleet. The people of Marseilles were now reinforced by Domitius, one of[42] Pompey’s most trusted generals, and they managed to scrape together a fleet of seventeen galleys.

This fleet received orders to attack that of Brutus, and it shot out of the harbour. Brutus awaited it, drawn up in crescent form. His ships were cumbrous, and not manned by such dextrous navigators as the Greeks. But he had furnished himself with grappling irons, and when the Greek vessels came on, he flung out his harpoons, caught them, and brought the enemy to the side of his vessels, so that the fight became one of hand to hand as on platforms, and the advantage of the nautical skill of the Massiliots was neutralised. They lost nine galleys, and the remnant with difficulty escaped back into port.

The besieged, though defeated, were not disheartened. They sent to friendly cities for aid, they seized on merchant vessels and converted them into men of war, and Pompey, who knew the importance of Marseilles, sent Nasidius with sixteen triremes to the aid of the invested town.

Again their fleet sallied forth. This time they were more wary, and backed when they saw the harpoons shot forth, so that the grappling irons fell innocuously into the sea. Finding all his efforts to come to close quarters with the enemy unavailing, Brutus signalled to his vessels to draw up in hollow square, prows outward.

Nasidius, who was in command of the Massiliot fleet, had he used his judgment, should have waited till a rough sea had opened the joints of the opposed ranks, and broken the formation. Instead of doing this, he endeavoured by ramming the sides to break the square, with the result that he damaged his own vessels, which were the lightest and least well protected at the bows,[43] far more than he did the enemy. Seeing that his plan was unsuccessful, he was the first to turn his galley about and fly. Five of the Massiliot vessels were sunk, four were taken, and those that returned to the port were seriously damaged.

On land the besieged had been more successful; they had repelled all attempts of Trebonius to storm the place. When he mined, they countermined, or let water into his galleries, and drowned those working in them. When he rolled up his huge wooden towers against the walls, the besieged rushed forth and set them on fire.

But now a worse enemy than Cæsar’s army appeared against them—the plague. Reduced to the utmost extremity, the Massiliots saw that their only hope was in the clemency of the conqueror. Nasidius had fled. Now Domitius departed; but not till he saw that surrender was inevitable. Cæsar had arrived in the camp of the besiegers. Marseilles opened her gates, and Cæsar treated the city with great magnanimity. But, ruined by the expenses of the long siege, without a fleet, its commerce gone, depopulated by war and disease, long years were required for the effacement of the traces of so many misfortunes.

Now I must go back through many centuries to speak of a most remarkable man, “the Humboldt of Antiquity,” who was a native of Marseilles, and who was the first to reveal to the world the existence of the Isle of Britain. His name was Pythias, and he lived four centuries before the birth of Christ. The Greeks had vague and doubtful traditions of the existence, far away in the North, of a land where the swans sang, and where lived a people “at the back of the north wind,” in perpetual sunshine, and worshipped[44] the sun, offering to it hecatombs of wild asses, and whence came the most precious of metals—tin, without which no bronze could be fabricated. The way to this mysterious land was known only to the Carthaginians, and was kept as a profound secret from the Phocœan Greeks, who had occupied their colony at Marseilles, and were engrossing their commerce. The Phœnicians of Tyre and Sidon, and of Carthage, had secured a monopoly of the mineral trade. Spain was the Mexico of the antique world. It was fabled that the Tagus rolled over sands of gold, and the Guadiana over a floor of silver. The Phœnician sailors, it was reported, replaced their anchors of iron with masses of silver; and that the Iberians employed gold for mangers, and silver for their vats of beer; that the pebbles of their moors were pure tin, and that the Iberian girls “streamed” the rivers in wicker cradles, washing out tin and gold, lead and silver. But as more was known of Spain, it was ascertained that these legends were true only in a limited degree; tin and silver and lead were there, but not to the amount fabled. Therefore it was concluded that the treasure land was farther to the north. Not by any means, by no bribery, by no persuasion, not by torture, could the secret be wrung from the Phœnicians whence they procured the inestimable treasure of tin. Only it was known that much of it came from the North, and by a trade route through Gaul to the Rhone; but also, and mainly, by means of vessels of the Phœnicians passing through the Straits into the unknown ocean beyond.

Accordingly, the merchants of Marseilles resolved on sending an expedition in quest of this mysterious Hyperborean land, and they engaged the services of Pythias, an eminent mathematician of the city, who had already[45] made himself famous by his measurement of the declination of the ecliptic, and by the calculation of the latitude of Marseilles. At the same time the merchants despatched another expedition to explore the African coast, under the direction of one Euthymes, another scientist of their city. Unhappily, the record of the voyage of this latter is lost; but the diary of Pythias, very carefully kept, has been preserved in part, quoted by early geographers who trusted him, and by Strabo, who poured scorn on his discoveries because they controverted his preconceived theories.

Pythias published his diary in two books, entitled The Circuit of the World and Commentaries concerning the Ocean. From the fragments that remain we can trace his course. Leaving Marseilles, he coasted round Spain to Brittany; from Brittany he struck Kent, and visited other parts of Britain; then from the Thames he travelled to the mouths of the Rhine, passed round Jutland, entered the Baltic, and went to the mouth of the Vistula; thence out of the Baltic and up the coast of Norway to the Arctic Circle; thence he struck west, and reached the Shetlands and the North of Scotland, and coasted round the British Isles till again he reached Armorica; and so to the estuary of the Garonne, whence he journeyed by land to Marseilles.

Pythias remained for some time in Britain, the country to which, as he said, he paid more attention than to any other which he visited in the course of his travels; and he claimed to have investigated all the accessible parts of the Island, and to have traced the eastern side throughout. He arrived in Kent early in the summer, and remained there until harvest time, and he again returned after his voyage to the Arctic Circle. He says[46] that there was plenty of wheat grown in the fields of Britain, but that it was thrashed out in barns, and not on unroofed floors as in the sunny climate of Marseilles. He says that a drink to which the Britons were partial was composed of wheat and honey—in a word, metheglin. It is greatly to be regretted that of this interesting and honestly written diary only scraps remain.[6]

The old city of Phœnicians and Phocœans occupied that portion of the present town lying between the sea and the ancient port, and the walls cut across from the Anse de la Joliette, mounted the Butte des Carmes and descended to the head of the Vieux-port. The Butte des Moulins was the Acropolis, and on it stood temples of the gods of Carthage and Greece. The sea-face was formerly very different from what it is now. Cæsar speaks of Marseilles being washed by the sea on three sides. The sea has eaten away a very large portion of the peninsula. The cathedral, La Major, was not formerly on the quay; till the end of the eighteenth century its principal portal faced the sea. At the close of that century, so much of the town having been washed away, and so sapped was the rock on that side, that a doorway had to be opened on the landside. An old chapel existing in 1202 stood at a point now 250 feet from the land. Recent works, the formation of a succession of basins, have arrested this degradation of the coast, and have regained some of the lost land.

Marseilles lies in an amphitheatre, but this is only realised when the city is approached from the sea. To those arriving by rail it appears to be a town scattered over a series of hills, very irregular and of a very confused plan. All that portion of the town that lies south[47] of the Vieux-port, about the Palais de Justice to where the hill rises, was formerly morass; the houses here have no cellars, and are built, like Amsterdam, on piles. Above the Bassin de Carinage rises the Church of S. Victor, built in the eleventh and extended in the thirteenth century. The towers and ramparts were erected by William de Grimoard in 1350. He had been prior of the monastery of S. Victor, and afterwards became pope under the name of Urban V. All this portion of rising ground to the south of the old harbour seems to have been the refuge of the first Christians. Excavations made in extending the basin laid bare vestiges of catacombs of a very early period, earlier, in fact, in some cases than the Christian era. In the fourth century the monk Cassian founded a monastery above these catacombs. It was destroyed by the Saracens and rebuilt, and became a vastly wealthy foundation. The monastery on one side of the port, and the cathedral with its appurtenances on the other, were not under the jurisdiction of the municipal authorities of Marseilles; but each had its own town of dependencies under separate government.

What remains of this famous abbey bears an aspect of a citadel rather than of a church. It is an extraordinary jumble of parts, and from without looks as if it were wholly planless.

When, and through whom, Christianity was planted in Marseilles, is unknown; for the tradition of the apostleship there of Lazarus, whom Christ raised from the dead, must be dismissed as idle fable. The traditional tale is as follows, but there is no earlier authority for it than a legend of the twelfth century, and this is mere religious romance.


When persecution broke out in Jerusalem, Martha, Mary Magdalen, a Bishop Maximin, and a Deacon Parmenas, and Lazarus, took a boat and sailed merrily over the sea till they came to Provence. Maximin settled at Aix. Mary Magdalen retired to the cave La Sainte Beaume, and Martha killed a dragon at Tarascon, and established herself in its lair. Lazarus remained at Marseilles, and became its first bishop.

The first bishop of Marseilles known to history is Orestius, A.D. 314; and not a particle of evidence worth a rush exists to substantiate the story of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary, having ever come to Provence.

The street called Cannebière leads to the Vieux-port. Cannebière means a rope-walk, and here were situated the workshops of those who supplied the vessels with cordage and sails. When the old port was being cleaned out, an ancient galley was found at a depth of fifteen feet, built of cedar wood, with coins earlier, contemporary with, and slightly later than Julius Cæsar.

It is perhaps not to be wondered at that not a scrap of ancient Massilia should remain above ground, not a fragment of city wall, of temple, or of amphitheatre, for the valleys have been choked up to the depth of eighteen to twenty feet, and the summits of the rounded hills have been shorn off. But to obtain some idea of the past, the Archæological Museum at the extremity of the Prado should be visited. One room is devoted to the remains of pagan Massilia, another to the Christian sarcophagi discovered in the catacombs of S. Victor.

The siege of Marseilles by the army of Cæsar was by no means the only trial of that description the city had to undergo. The next most serious investment was that by the Constable de Bourbon, who had transferred[49] his services to Charles V. and fought against his sovereign, Francis I. Pope Leo X. had stirred up the emperor and had effected a coalition of England, Austria, Milan, Venice, Florence, and Genoa, against France. Charles despatched the Constable de Bourbon against Marseilles, and he appeared before it on August 19th, 1524, but met with a stubborn resistance.

Furious at not being able to obtain a surrender, he ordered a general assault, and promised his soldiers to suffer them to pillage the town at their own sweet will. On September 25th the besiegers attacked the walls, managed to beat down a portion and form a breach, through which they poured exultant. But bitter was their disappointment when they discovered that the besieged had raised a second wall within, in crescent form, on the top of which was the garrison, armed with culverins, and that at the points of junction of the new wall with the old were planted cannon which, with their cross fire, could mow down all who rushed into the semilunar area. The Spanish battalions hesitated, but were urged forward by their captains, and a frightful carnage ensued. The space was heaped with dead, and the baffled Constable, with rage in his heart, running short of ammunition and provisions, was forced to raise the siege and retire, on the night of September 25th.

But that which has proved to Marseilles more fatal than sieges has been the plague, which has reappeared time after time, becoming almost endemic. The unsanitary condition of the town, the absence of wholesome water, invited its presence. The magnificent works of the canal of Marseilles now conduct to the town the waters of the Durance. This canal was constructed[50] between 1837 and 1848, extends a length of ninety-five miles, and is carried through tunnels and over aqueducts. The body of water thus conducted to Marseilles not only supplies the precious liquid for drinking and bathing, but also sends rills to water the gardens which would otherwise be barren. How necessary this great work was may be judged from the number of deaths at Marseilles at the outbreak of the plague in 1720, when from 40,000 to 50,000 persons succumbed.

Amidst the general despair, selfishness, and depravity that then manifested itself, the Bishop Belzunce, some of his clergy, and the governor of the town, showed noble self-possession and devotion.

“The physicians sent to Marseilles by the Government,” says Méry, “on arriving found in the place over 20,000 dead and nine to ten thousand sick or dying. The frightful spectacle so affected them that they could hardly eat. In traversing the town, in places they could hardly step without encountering heaps of corpses. The plague-stricken felt a flicker of hope on seeing doctors approach, but this soon died out. Fathers and mothers dragged their children into the streets, and abandoned them after placing a jug of water at their side. Children exhibited a revolting lack of feeling. All generous sentiments had been paralysed by the hand of death. The mortality was so great and rapid in its march that the corpses piled up before the houses, and in the church porches, indeed everywhere, empested the air. In the heat, the bodies rapidly putrified and dissolved, falling apart in strips. All were naked; the sick were covered by a few rags. Women half-clothed appealed for a drop of water, pointing to the fetid rill that trickled down the gutter; and as no one attended to them, they used their failing powers to crawl to it, often with their babes at their breasts, to dip their lips in the[51] foul stream. Death was preceded by frightful spasms. The number of deaths increased to such an extent that it was not possible to bury the dead. Bewilderment took possession of men. Those of the inhabitants who had not been infected wandered about, not knowing whither to go, but avoiding one another. Others converted their houses into fortresses, as though disposed to maintain a siege; others fled to their country villas; others went on board ship; but the plague pursued them everywhere.

“In these days of calamity, the heart of man was shown in all its nakedness, and revealed all its baseness, ignoble inclinations, as well as its virtues and devotion. Those especially belonging to the lowest social beds, who live in fear of the laws, gave themselves up to frightful excesses. The galley slaves, to whom was entrusted the burial of the dead, drew the tumbrils heaped with corpses with a mocking callousness; murdering the sick so as to rob them; flinging those ill along with those dead together, indifferently, into the pits dug to receive the bodies. The civic functionaries, the employés, even priests, deserted their posts, and the monks of S. Victor enclosed themselves within their fortress. But there were others, who presented a striking contrast to these men. Priests came hurrying to the empested town from all parts to shut themselves in within this circle of death. Their zeal was stimulated by the sublime self-devotion of Belzunce, bishop of Marseilles. The fear of death never chilled his charity. He hurried through the street, seated himself by the dying, bowed over them to hear their confessions, and the plague spared him as he executed these acts of humanity.”

Pope referred to this bishop in the lines:

“Why drew Marseilles’ good bishop purer breath,
When nature sicken’d and each gale was death?”

The pestilence, which had broken out in the spring,[52] continued to rage till September, but abated after a violent storm, and disappeared in November. At the Revolution the merchant aristocracy did not relish the movement, fearing an attack on property; but the lower classes were maddened with enthusiasm for the “rights of man,” which meant the right to chop off the head of every one of whom they were envious, and of appropriating to themselves the savings of the industrious. Marseilles furnished, from the dregs of its population, the bands of assassins which marched to Paris, screaming forth Rouget de l’Isle’s hymn, which thenceforth took the name of the Marseillaise; and these bands were foremost in the September massacres in Paris.

The Reign of Terror at Marseilles itself, under the infamous Fréron and Barras, saw four hundred heads fall upon the scaffold, to the shouts of the mob, “Ça ira! Plus la République coupe de têtes, plus la République s’affermit.”

At Marseilles, Joseph Bonaparte, when acting there as War Commissioner, met the sisters Clary. At his very first visit he had been billeted on the soap-boiler, and now, when again in the place, he lost his heart to one of the girls. Both were destined to be queens. Julie (Marie) was born in 1777, and married Joseph in 1794. In 1797 Joseph was sent as ambassador to Rome, and he took with him his wife and her sister Eugenie Désirée; she was engaged to be married to General Duphot, who was with Joseph in Rome. On the eve of their wedding a disturbance took place in the streets of the Eternal City, caused by a rising of the revolutionary party. Duphot ran among them, whether to encourage them or dissuade them from violence is uncertain; but he was shot by the Papal soldiery in the tumult. Six[53] months later Eugenie Désirée dried her tears in her bridal veil, when she married the saddler’s son Bernadotte, who was destined to wear the crown of Sweden.

Joseph became King of Naples and then of Spain. Madame de Genlis, who knew both the young women, has a good word to say for them. Of Julie, the wife of Joseph, she says:—

“She always reminded me of the princesses of the Old Court, and she had all the bearing and carriage of the last princess of Conti. If Heaven had chosen to cause her to be born on a throne it could not have rendered her more suitable, with her graciousness, a great quality, which should characterise all princes, and which with her was perfected by being united to the most sincere piety, and hatred of all ostentation.”

Of Eugenie, who became Queen of Norway and Sweden, she says:—

“I had the honour to make the acquaintance of Madame Bernadotte, sister of the Queen of Spain, who then had all the charms of a graceful figure, and the most agreeable manners. I was struck with the harmony that existed between her amiable face, her conversation, and her mind.”

Addison, who sailed from Marseilles on December 12th, 1699 (Macaulay says the date should be 1700), and skirted the Ligurian coast to Genoa, was surprised and delighted to see

“the mountains cover’d with green Olive-trees, or laid out in beautiful gardens, which gave us a great Variety of pleasing Prospects, even in the Depth of Winter. The most uncultivated of them produce abundance of sweet Plants, as Wild-Thyme, Lavender, Rosemary, Balm and Myrtle.”


In his “Letter from Italy” he writes:—

“See how the golden groves around me smile,
That shun the coast of Britain’s stormy isle,
Or when transplanted and preserv’d with care,
Curse the cold clime, and starve in Northern air.
Here kindly warmth their mounting juice ferments,
To nobler tastes, and more exalted scents:
Ev’n the rough rocks with tender myrtle bloom,
And trodden weeds send out a rich perfume.”



A city left solitary—Foundation of Aquæ Sextiæ—The Invasion of Cimbri and Teutons—Defeat of the Romans—Blunders of the barbarians—Defeat of Cœpio and Manlius—Marius sent against the barbarians—Defeat of the Ambrons—Destruction of the Teutons—Ste. Victoire—The Garagoul—King Réné: Sir Walter Scott’s character of him: his imprisonment: his failure in Naples: retires to Provence: character of his daughter, Queen Margaret—The procession at Aix—The Feast of Fools—Death of Réné: carrying off of his corpse—Destruction of the tombs at Angers—Cathedral—Museum.

AIX is perhaps the most dejected of cities. At one time the life blood of the empire poured through it. The great road that left the Flaminian gate of Rome, passed along the coast of the Ligurian Gulf, crossed the shoulder of the Alps at La Turbie, and then, going through Nice and by Cannes, reached Fréjus. At that point it turned inland, left the sea behind, and made direct for Aix. Thence it stretched away to Arles, and from that city radiated the routes to Spain, throughout Gaul, and to the Rhine. Through the market passed all the trade of the West; through it tramped the legions for the conquest of Britain, and the defence of the Rhenish frontier; through it travelled the treasure for the pay of the soldiery; through it streamed the lines of captives for the slave market at Rome.


But now, Aix is on no artery of communication. To reach it, one most go in a loitering and roundabout fashion by branch lines, on which run no express trains, in company with oxen in pens and trucks of coal.

Marseilles has drained away the traffic that formerly ebbed and flowed through Aix, leaving it listless and lifeless. But if we desire relics and reminiscences of the past we must not omit a visit to Aix.

Aquæ Sextiæ owes its foundation to Sextius Calvinus, in B.C. 124. The town has thrice shifted its site. The old Ligurian fortified town was on the heights of Entremont, three kilometres to the north—and traces of it remain, but what its name was we do not know. After the defeat of the Ligurians, Sextius Calvinus planted the Roman town about the hot springs; but the modern town lies to the east. After his victory over the Ambrons and Teutons Marius rested here and adorned the town with monuments, and led water to it by the aqueduct, of which fragments remain. Cæsar planted a colony here, and the place enjoyed great prosperity. It was sacked and destroyed by the Saracens in 731, and but slowly recovered from its ashes. From the thirteenth century the counts of Provence held their court at Aix, and here lived and painted and sang good King Réné, of whom more presently.

Aix first rises to notice conspicuously through the defeat of the Ambro-Teutons by Marius B.C. 102. I have described the campaign at some length in my book In Troubadour Land, as I went over the whole of the ground carefully. Here I will but sum up the story briefly.

The Cimbri from what is now Jutland, the Teutons,[57] and the Ambrons, driven from their northern lands by an inundation of the sea, so it was reported, more probably drawn south by desire of reaching fertile and warmer seats than the bleak wastes of Northern Germany, crossed the Rhine to the number of 300,000 fighting men, accompanied by their wives and children, and moved south. All Gaul, and even Rome, trembled before them, and the Senate despatched the Consul Papirius Carbo against them. Having occupied the defiles of the Alps, the Consul opened negotiations with the barbarians, who pleaded to have lands allotted to them. True to the unscrupulous principles of Rome, in dealing with an enemy, he proposed an armistice, which was accepted, and, profiting by this, he fell treacherously on the enemy by night, when least expected by the barbarians, who relied on his pacific assurances. But the Cimbri, though taken at a disadvantage, rallied and drove the legions back in disorder. On his return to Rome, Carbo was subjected to accusations by M. Antonius, and put an end to his life by drinking a solution of vitriol. Instead of profiting by this great victory to enter Italy, the horde retraced its steps and turned towards Illyria and Thrace; after devastating these, they again reappeared in Gaul on the right bank of the Rhone, laden with spoils. Julius Silanus, governor of the province, hastened to block their course, and the barbarians again asked to be granted lands on which to settle, offering in return to place their arms at the service of Rome. Silanus referred the proposal to the Senate. The reply was one of insolent refusal and defiance. This so exasperated the Cimbri and Teutons that they resolved on crossing the Rhone and exacting at the point of the[58] sword what had been refused as a voluntary concession. In vain did a Roman army endeavour to dispute with them the passage of the river. They crossed, fell on the Romans, and slaughtered them.

After this great success, the barbarians, instead of pursuing their advantage, spread through the province and formed an alliance with the Volci Tectosages, who had their capital at Toulouse. Then they hurried towards Northern Gaul. The consul Cœpio was sent to chastise the Volci for their defection, and he took and pillaged Toulouse. The Cimbri and Teutons, on hearing of this, retraced their steps and confronted Cœpio. But a year was allowed to pass without any decisive action being fought.

In the meantime a fresh army had been raised in Rome, and despatched to the aid of Cœpio, under the command of Manlius. In a fit of jealousy Cœpio retired to the left bank, encamped apart, and refused to hold any communication with Manlius; and, that he might have an opportunity of finishing the war himself, he pitched his quarters between Manlius and the enemy. At this juncture, with such a formidable host threatening, the utmost prudence and unanimity were needed by the two commanders; this the soldiers perceived, and they compelled Cœpio, against his will, to unite his forces with those of Manlius. But this did not mend matters. They quarrelled again, and again separated. The barbarians, who were informed as to the condition of affairs, now fell on one army and then on the other, and utterly routed both. Eighty thousand Roman soldiers and forty thousand camp followers perished; only ten men are said to have escaped the slaughter. It was one of the most crushing defeats the Romans had[59] ever sustained, and the day on which it happened, October 6th, became one of the black days in the Roman calendar.

This overwhelming victory opened to the barbarians the gates of Italy. It was, however, decided by them to ravage Spain before invading Italy. The whole course of proceedings on their part was marked by a series of fatal blunders. Accordingly they crossed the Pyrenees, but met with such stubborn resistance from the Iberians that they withdrew.

Meanwhile, Rome had recalled Marius from Africa, where he had triumphed over Jugurtha, King of Numidia, along with some of his victorious legions; and to him was entrusted the defence of Italy. He hastily raised a new army, hurried into the province, crossed the crau, and planted himself at the extreme western end of the chain of Les Alpines at Ernaginum, now S. Gabriel, whence he could watch the enemy; and whilst there he employed the soldiery in digging a canal from the sea to the Durance, by means of which his camp could be supplied from Marseilles with munitions of war and provisions.

The Cimbri and Teutons, on leaving Spain, divided their forces. They decided that the Cimbri should cross into the plains of Italy by the passes of the Noric Alps, whereas the Ambrons and Teutons should advance across the Maritime Alps by the Col de Tende.

Marius remained inert, and observed the enemy cross the Rhone without making an effort to prevent the passage, to the surprise and indignation of his troops. The barbarians in vain attempted to draw him into an engagement. Then they defiled along the Roman road to the north of Les Alpines, passing under the[60] palisades of the camp, shouting derisively, “We are on our way to Rome! Have you any messages for your wives and children?” Six days were spent in the march past.

With difficulty Marius restrained his men. Only when the last of the Ambrons, who brought up the rear, had gone by did Marius break up his camp. He had along with him his wife, Julia, and a Syrian sorceress named Martha. This woman, gorgeously attired, wearing a mitre, covered with chains of gold, and holding a javelin hung with ribbons, was now produced before the soldiery, and, falling into an ecstasy, she prophesied victory to the Roman arms. Marius now moved east, following the horde, keeping, however, to the high ground, the summit of the limestone cliffs, and he came suddenly upon the Ambrons at Les Milles, four miles to the south of Aix. At this point red sandstone heights stand above the little river Are, and from under the rocks ooze innumerable streams. Here the Ambrons were bathing, when the Roman legionaries appeared above.

Marius saw that the Ambrons had become detached from the Teutons, who were pushing on to Aix. He had now no occasion to restrain his soldiers, who poured down the hill and cut the enemy to pieces.

Then he thrust on in pursuit of the Teutons. He knew the ground thoroughly. The road beyond Aix ran through a basin—a plain bordered by mountain heights, those on the north sheer precipices of yellow and pink limestone, those on the south not abrupt, and clothed with coppice and box shrubs. He detached Claudius Marcellus to make a circuit to the north of the limestone range, with the cavalry, and to take[61] up a position where the road emerges from the basin, at its eastern limit. He, with the main body of his army, by forced marches outstripped the Teutons, be moving to the south, out of sight in the brushwood, and came out where stands now the town of Trets. Thence he advanced down the slope towards the plain, which is red as blood with sandstone and clay, and where were tile works, Ad Tegulata. The Teutons had already encamped, when they saw the Romans. An engagement at once began. Whilst it was in progress, Marcellus came down in their rear with his cavalry. The result was a rout and a slaughter. Few were spared among the fighting men. Over 100,000 were slaughtered or made prisoners. Their wives and children, their camp, and all their plunder, fell to the victors. So great was the carnage, that the putrefying remains of the Germans gave to the spot the name of Campi Putridi, now corrupted into Pourrières.

A monument was afterwards erected where the fiercest of the battle raged, the foundations of which remain; and here was found the statue of Venus Victrix, now in the Museum of Avignon; and at Pourrières a triumphal arch was raised that still stands to commemorate the victory. On the crag to the north, commanding the field, a temple of Victory was erected that in Christian times became a chapel of Ste. Victoire, and the great deliverance in B.C. 120 is still commemorated by the lighting of bonfires on the heights, and by a pilgrimage and mass said in the chapel on March 23rd. A little convent was erected near the chapel, that is now in ruins; the existing chapel dates from only 1661. At the Revolution it was allowed to fall to decay, but has since been restored. The[62] height of Ste. Victoire is noted as the resort of a special kind of eagle, resembling the golden eagle, but more thickset, and with “white scapulars.”

It may be remembered that Sir Walter Scott has placed one of the scenes of Anne of Geierstein at the Monastery of Ste. Victoire.

Near the chapel is the cavern of Lou Garagoul:

“In the midst of this cavernous thoroughfare,” says Sir Walter, “is a natural pit or perforation of great, but unknown, depth. A stone dropped into it is heard to dash from side to side, until the noise of its descent, thundering from cliff to cliff, dies away in distant and faint tinkling, less loud than that of a sheep’s bell at a mile’s distance. The traditions of the monastery annex wild and fearful recollections to a place in itself sufficiently terrible. Oracles, it is said, spoke from thence in pagan days by subterranean voices, arising from the abyss.”

The pit is, in fact, one of these avens so commonly found on the limestone causses. The description is somewhat overdrawn, but Sir Walter had never seen the place, and all he knew of it was second hand.

With Aix, King Réné is inseparably associated, that most unfortunate Mark Tapley of monarchs claiming to be King of Jerusalem, Aragon, of Naples and of Sicily, of Valencia, Majorca, Minorca, of Corsica and Sardinia—to wear nine crowns, and yet not possessing a rood of territory in one of them; Duke of Anjou and Bar, but despoiled of his dukedoms, and reduced to only his county of Provence.


From the Triptych in Aix Cathedral


Sir Walter Scott pretty accurately describes him:—

“Réné was a prince of very moderate parts, endowed with a love of the fine arts, which he carried to extremity, and a degree of good humour, which never permitted him to repine at fortune, but rendered its possessor happy, when a prince of keener feelings would have died of despair. This insouciant, light-tempered, gay, and thoughtless disposition, conducted Réné, free from all the passions which embitter life, and often shorten it, to a hale and mirthful old age. Even domestic losses, which often affect those who are proof against mere reverses of fortune, made no deep impression on the feelings of this cheerful old monarch. Most of his children had died young; Réné took it not to heart. His daughter Margaret’s marriage with the powerful Henry of England was considered a connexion much above the fortunes of the King of the Troubadours. But in the issue, instead of Réné deriving any splendour from the match, he was involved in the misfortunes of his daughter, and repeatedly obliged to impoverish himself to supply her ransom.”

In the Cours Mirabeau at Aix may be seen a statue of him by David of Angers, but it is worthless as a bit of portraiture; which is indefensible, as several genuine portraits of the king exist; one is in the cathedral along with his second wife, in the triptych of the Burning Bush; another in the MS. of Guarini’s translation of Strabo, in the library at Albi; a third, in private hands, has been engraved in the Count de Quatrebarbe’s edition of King Réné’s works.

Réné has got into such a backwater of history that probably not many English folk know more about him than that he was the father of the unfortunate Margaret, Queen of Henry VI., sketched for us by Shakespeare in an unfavourable light, and more of him than what Scott is pleased to say in Anne of Geierstein. But no man has so taken hold of Provençal affection as has Réné.


“If to the present day,” says a local historian, “the thought of this King makes a Provençal heart beat with tender love, it is due to this: that never was there a sovereign who showed greater consideration for his people, was more sparing of their blood and money, more desirous of promoting their happiness. Simple and modest in all his tastes, enjoying less revenue than most of the Seigneurs who were his vassals, he was to be seen every winter sunning himself in the midst of his subjects, who idolised him.”

Réné, Duke of Anjou and Maine, was prisoner to the Duke of Burgundy, when news reached him that the inheritances of his brother and of Queen Joanna II. of the Two Sicilies, had fallen to him. Married to Isabella, daughter of Charles of Lorraine, he had claimed that duchy on the death of his father-in-law, and in opposition to Anthony, Count of Vaudemont, nephew of Charles. The Count of Vaudemont was supported by Philip, Duke of Burgundy. Réné was defeated and taken prisoner, along with his son and all his great nobles. Conducted to the castle of Blacon, near Salines, he was there retained in captivity till he could pay an enormous ransom. It was, accordingly, whilst a prisoner that he heard the news of the death of his brother, Louis III., and of his adoption by the queen, and then of the death of Joanna, in 1435.

As he was unable to take possession of his kingdom of the Two Sicilies, he was obliged to transfer his authority to his wife, the Duchess Isabella, a woman of rare prudence and of masculine courage. The absence of Réné from his kingdom of Naples gave rise to the formation of factions: one favoured Alphonso of Aragon, a claimant; another took the side of Pope Eugenius IV., who wanted to annex the Sicilies to the papal states;[65] a third party favoured Réné, and this latter was the most numerous. But the King of Aragon was prompt and determined. Alphonso hastened to Naples, took Capua, and laid siege to Gaeta. Happily for Réné’s party, the Genoese, who were jealous of Alphonso, forced him to raise the siege, and took him prisoner. Later, however, Gaeta fell before Peter, the brother of Alphonso.

At this time Isabella was making preparations at Aix and in the port of Marseilles for a descent on Naples. The Pope was induced to withdraw his claim, to lend her 4,000 horsemen, and to help her by hurling excommunications against the Aragonese. Meanwhile, King Réné, by promises, had succeeded in effecting his release, but on very harsh terms. He bound himself to pay 200,000 gold florins, and to cede several fortified places till his ransom was paid. His son, the Duke of Calabria, had been set at liberty the year before for a ransom of 25,000 florins. Réné had spent six years in prison.

Delivered from his long captivity, Réné hastened to Provence, where the estates found him 100,000 gold florins for the prosecution of the war. In April, 1438, Réné sailed from Marseilles for Naples. Unfortunately for him, at this time his trusted constable, Jacopo Caldora, died, and the king gave his place to the son of Caldora, a man of very different stamp, who sold himself to the King of Aragon and threw every possible hindrance in the way of Réné, who was besieged in Naples, and sorely hampered by lack of money wherewith to content his soldiery. One day, as he was passing through the streets, a widow cried to him to give her bread for her starving children. Réné passed without a word. “If he will not feed them, I know who[66] will,” said the woman, and she hastened to betray to a partisan of Alphonso the secret of a subterranean passage into the town; in fact, the old aqueduct through which, nine centuries before, Belisarius had penetrated into Naples. The Spaniards poured into the town, and Réné had but just time to escape to a vessel in the bay. He retired to Provence, and there his wife, Isabella, died in 1453. He had her body moved to Angers, and erected over her a noble tomb, near one he had set up some years before to his old nurse. Réné fought against the English beside the French King, and was in the battle of Crecy. In 1448 his daughter Margaret had been married to Henry VI.

Shakespeare and the chroniclers have combined to blacken the character of this unfortunate woman. She is represented in repulsive colours, as unfeminine, revengeful, loose in her morals; and even her energy and fortitude are distorted into unnatural ferocity and obduracy. But we cannot trust the picture painted of her. The English people resented the marriage with an impecunious woman, and the cession of the duchy of Maine to the French as the price for her hand. They were galled and writhing at the humiliation of the English arms, in a series of victories won by the aid of the Maid of Orleans. She was, moreover, placed in the unnatural position of having to supply, by her force of character, the feebleness of her husband’s rule. The soft, feminine nature of Henry’s disposition threw hers by contrast into undue prominence. She had penetration to discover, what was hidden from Henry’s eyes, that the throne was surrounded by false friends and secret enemies. Considering the incapacity of the King, it is unjust to judge her harshly, if she strove with all her[67] powers to save the crown imperilled by his feebleness. The situation in which she was placed compelled her to do that which is the worst thing a woman can do, to unsex herself, and that, not like the Maid of Orleans, in consequence of a Divine impulse, but from motives of policy. Inevitably much has been attributed to her for which she was not rightfully responsible. It could hardly be otherwise than that much in her way of life was inconsistent with her female character; a woman cannot play a man’s part in the work of the world without detriment to her own nature; but this was forced on her by the helpless imbecility of her husband, and she was compelled by the stress of circumstances to take the first part in a struggle to save the crown, and to hand it on to her son.

After the death of Isabella, Réné married Jeanne de Laval, with whom he lived happily. He loved to walk about the country in a broad-brimmed straw hat, and to chat with the peasants; or else to amuse himself with illuminating MSS. and composing poems.

Louis XI. was his nephew, a crafty and cold-blooded king, and he took advantage of the inability of Réné to offer effective resistance to dispossess him of his duchy of Anjou. Thenceforth Réné, who had spent his time between Anjou and Provence, was constrained to reside only in the latter.

One great source of delight to him consisted in scheming showy public processions and tournaments, and in hunting up relics of saints. He instituted a festival at Aix to represent the triumph of Christianity over Paganism, that was to be repeated annually. At the head of the procession appeared the gods, with their proper attributes—Jove with his eagle and thunderbolts,[68] Pluto surrounded by devils, Diana with her crescent, Venus in the scantiest of garments. Around their chariot trotted an assembly of lepers covered with sores and vested in rags. Then came a body of pipers, dancers, and soldiers. Next appeared the Queen of Sheba on a visit to Solomon; Moses with the Tables of the Law, and with gilt horns; round him a rabble of Jews hooting and cutting derisive antics, and dancing about a golden calf. Next came apostles and evangelists, all with their appropriate symbols, and Judas, against whose head the apostles delivered whacks, Peter with his keys, Andrew with his cross, James with his staff.

Then came a gigantic figure to represent S. Christopher, followed by military engaged in sham fight. Next the Abbot of Youth, the Lord of Misrule, the Twelfth Night King, and other allegorical figures preceding the Blessed Sacrament, carried under a daïs. Finally the procession closed with a figure of Death mowing to right and left with his scythe. Each group of this interminable procession executed a sort of dramatic game designed by King Réné—the game of the stars, of the devils, and so on; and the whole procession moved, not only to the braying of horns, the beating of drums, and the shrill notes of the wry-necked fife, but also to the discordant clashing of all the church bells of Aix.

It was a matter of keen competition annually to get a part to play in the show. One man on a certain occasion was highly wrath and offended because he was not set down to the part of Devil. “My father was a devil before me, my grandfather was a devil, why should not I be one as well?” Possibly King Réné devised the[69] entertainment to draw people away from their celebration of the Feast of Fools, a feast that existed in full vigour until it was finally put down by the provincial council of Aix in 1585, after Réné had vainly endeavoured to get rid of it. This astounding piece of ribaldry and profanity was everywhere, and every effort made by the Church to be rid of it had met with stubborn resistance from the people. In Dijon it was abolished by the Parliament in 1552, as the ecclesiastical authorities were powerless to end it.

The Feast of Fools was the carrying on of the old pagan Saturnalia, when on December 17th for a week all conditions were turned topsy-turvey. The slaves took places at table and the masters served; and the streets were full of riot and revelry. It was customary at Aix and Arles, and in almost every great church in France, from the New Year to the Epiphany, for the people to proceed to the election of a Bishop of Fools. The election took place amidst buffoonery and the most indecent farces. The newly-elected was then made to officiate pontifically at the high altar, whilst clerks carried mitre and crozier, their faces daubed over with paint or soot. Some men dressed as women, women were disguised as men, and danced in the choir. Songs of the grossest nature were sung; and in place of incense old leather and all kinds of filth were burnt; sausages and black puddings were eaten on the altar. The last traces of these horrible profanities did not disappear till the middle of the eighteenth century.

But to return to King Réné. He died at the age of seventy-two in July, 1480, and according to his will, his nephew, Charles of Maine, took possession of the county of Provence under the title of Charles IV. But he soon[70] died, and then Louis XI. annexed Provence, as he had Anjou, to the French crown.

Réné had desired to be buried at Angers beside his first wife, and Jeanne, his second, tried to carry out his wishes; but the people of Aix would not hear of the body being removed from their midst. The estates met, and sent a petition to Jeanne to renounce the idea of conveying the remains away from Provence. However, she gained the consent of the archbishop to the removal; but she was obliged to wait a whole year before the suspicions and watchfulness of the people of Aix would allow her to execute her purpose. Then she sent a covered waggon, with intent, as she gave out, to remove some of her goods from the castle at Aix; and during the night the body of the old king was whisked away; the horses started at a gallop, and the corpse conveyed beyond the frontiers of the county before the people were aware of the theft. A noble monument was erected at Angers to contain the mortal remains of Réné. Unhappily at the French Revolution this, as well as the monument and statue of Isabella, his first wife, and even that of his dear old nurse, were smashed to fragments by the rabble.

The cathedral is an interesting church: the south aisle constituted the Early Romanesque church. To this was added the present nave in 1285, with apse. On the south side of the church is a charming Early Romanesque cloister, and on the north is a baptistry of the sixth century, but somewhat altered in 1577, containing eight columns of polished granite and marble proceeding from some demolished temple. There are two objects in the church likely more specially to attract attention; the triptych of the Burning Bush, where[71] King Réné and Jeanne de Laval are represented kneeling before the Bush that burns with fire and is not consumed, and in which, by a curious anachronism, is represented the Virgin and Child. This triptych was painted, it is thought, by Van der Meire, a disciple of Van Eyck. The other object is the magnificent series of tapestries in the choir, representing the Life of Our Lord, which came from S. Paul’s Cathedral, London, whence they were ejected at the time of the Commonwealth. The date of these tapestries is 1511, and they are attributed to Quentin Matsys of Antwerp.

The museum of Aix richly deserves a visit. It contains bas-reliefs dug up at Entremont, where was the old Ligurian stronghold, taken by Sextius Calvinus; and these are the very earliest bits of Gaulish sculpture that have been found anywhere. There are also numerous relics of the classic Aix that have been unearthed in the town, and Christian sarcophagi sculptured with Biblical scenes.

In the town library is King Réné’s Book of Hours, illuminated by his own hand.



Coudon and Faron—Telo Martius—Dye works—Toulon made an arsenal and dockyard—Galley slaves—The Bagne—The Red Caps—Travaux forcés—Story of Cognard—Siege of 1793—Carteaux and Napoleon—Massacre—Expedition to Egypt.

THE precipices of limestone, Coudon, 1,205 feet high, and Faron, 1,790 feet, standing as guardians over Toulon, crowned with gleaming circles of white fortifications, effectually protect the great arsenal and dockyards of this place of first importance to France. Coudon looks out over the crau towards the Gulf of Hyères, and would effectually prevent attack thence; and Faron, standing immediately above the harbour of Toulon, could sink any fleet that ventured within range. Indeed, till these two fortresses should be silenced, Toulon would be impregnable.

Faron (Pharus), as its name implies, was formerly the beacon height to the Rade. During the night a fire was flaming on its summit, during the day moistened straw was burnt to send up a column of smoke. This language of signals communicated to the population of the coast the appearance on the horizon of vessels suspected of piratical intent. The beacon of Faron communicated with other beacons on heights within sight of one another. The keeping up of these signals on points[73] of observation was essential to the protection of the coast, and the archives of Toulon contain a series of agreements concluded between the town and the neighbouring places, for the maintenance of the watch-tower of Faron, as also that of Six Fours, one of the most ancient lighthouses of France.

Toulon, the Latin Telo Martius, was originally a Phœnician settlement for the preparation of the famous Tyrian dye, made out of the shell of the murex. The Latins called it the Telo of Mars, the God of War, because, as lover of blood, he was patron as well of the dye, which ranged through all the gamut of tints from crimson to blue-purple.

The town was ravaged successively by Franks and Saracens, and sank to insignificance; it did not become a place of maritime and military importance till the sixteenth century, when Henry IV. built the forts of Ste. Catherine and S. Antoine, and the two great moles that flank the port; he was the first to discern that the pivot of defence of Provence lay here. Louis XIV. confided to Colbert the reorganisation of the fleet; and for the purpose dockyards, workshops of all descriptions, were needed. The basins were enlarged and deepened, and Vauban received instructions to extend the quays, construct fortifications, surround the city with a series of star forts, according to the system that has immortalised his name, and, in a word, make of Toulon the first arsenal of France. It was due to this that the place was able to withstand the sieges of 1707 and 1793. Toulon was, moreover, made the largest convict establishment of France; and the convicts were employed on the work of its defences, in excavating basins, and building quays and warehouses.


In ancient times—indeed, from the classic period—the arduous and exhausting work of rowing vessels was given to slaves and prisoners. No free man would endure the toil and hardship of the galleys. War vessels, merchantmen, and pleasure yachts were alike propelled by this unfortunate class of men. Jacques Cœur, the banker, had four coquettish galleys with gilded prows and oars, propelled by prisoners hired for his service. Each of these vessels had at the bows a sacred image, wreathed with flowers, of the saint whose name it bore. There was La Madeleine, S. Jacques, S. Michel, and S. Denis. Charles VII. seized them all; he did not leave a single boat to the fugitive merchant, whose only fault was that he had made the King of France his debtor to the amount of a hundred thousand crowns.

In a large galley as many as six men were required for each oar. Sweating close together, for hour after hour, not sitting, but leaping on the bench, in order to throw their whole weight on the oar, they were kept to their task with little relaxation.

“Think of six men, chained to a bench, naked as when they were born; one foot on the stretcher, and the other on the bench in front, holding an immensely heavy oar (15 feet long), bending forward to the stern with arms at full reach to clear the backs of the rowers in front, who bend likewise; and then, having got forward, shoving up the oar’s end, to let the blade catch the water, then throwing their bodies back on to the groaning bench. A galley was thus propelled sometimes for ten, twelve, or even twenty hours, without a moment’s rest. The boatswain in such a stress puts a piece of bread steeped in wine into the wretched rower’s mouth to stop fainting, and then the captain shouts the order to redouble the lash. If[75] a slave falls exhausted upon his oar (which often happens), he is flogged till he is taken for dead, and then pitched unceremoniously into the sea.”[7]

Jean Marteille, of Bergerac, who was himself on the galleys about the year 1701, thus described the life:—

“Those who have not seen a galley at sea, especially in chasing or being chased, cannot well conceive the shock such a spectacle must give to a heart capable of the least tincture of compassion. To behold ranks and files of half naked, half starved, half tanned, meagre wretches, chained to a plank, from which they do not remove for months together (commonly half a year), urged on even beyond human endurance, with cruel and repeated blows on their bare flesh, to the incessant toil at the most laborious of all exercises, which often happens in a furious chase,—was indeed a horrifying spectacle.”

To be condemned to the galleys was not necessarily a life sentence. At first all such as were sent thither were branded on the shoulder with GAL, but afterwards this was changed to T.F. for Travaux forcés, or T.P. if for life; and each class wore a special coloured cap. Great was the indignation felt at the Revolution, on ascertaining that the red cap of Liberty was what was worn by one class of gaol-birds. A member of the Convention rose and demanded that this honourable badge should be removed from their heads; and amidst thunders of applause, the motion was carried. A special commissioner was despatched to Toulon to order the abolition of the red cap from the Bagne. Accordingly all the caps were confiscated and burnt. But the National Convention had made no provision for replacing the red cap with one of another colour,[76] consequently the prisoners had for some time to go bare-headed. In 1544 the Archbishop of Bourges sent a couple of priests and two other clerks to the captain of the galleys at Toulon, and required him to put them to hard labour. But this was regarded by the Parliament as an infringement of its rights, and the captain was ordered to send the clerics back to the archbishop.

Men were condemned to the galleys for every sort of crime and fault. Many a wretched Huguenot toiled at the oar. Often enough a nobleman laboured beside a man belonging to the dregs of the people. Haudriquer de Blancourt, in love with a lady of good rank, to flatter her made a false entry in her pedigree, so as to enhance her nobility. There ensued an outcry among heralds, and for this De Blancourt was sent to the galleys.

As naval construction and science improved, oars were no longer employed, and sails took their places; the galleys were moored at Toulon, Brest and Roquefort, and acquired the name of Bagnes. The derivation is uncertain. By some it is supposed to be derived from the Provençal bagna, which signifies “moored,” by others from the prisons of the slaves near the Bagno, or baths of the seraglio at Constantinople.

Louis XVI. abolished torture, which had filled the Bagne with cripples. Thenceforth the Bagne ceased to be an infirmary of martyrs, and became a workshop of vigorous labourers. The Revolution of 1789 tore up all the old codes, but it maintained the galleys, only it changed the name of Galerien to Travaux forcés à temps, ou à perpetuité. No one formerly seemed to be sensible to the horrible brutality of the[77] galleys. When Madame de Grignan wrote an account of a visit to one of them to her friend Mme de Sévigné, that lady replied “she would much like to see this sort of Hell,” with “the men groaning day and night under the weight of their chains.”

Furthenbach, in his Architectura navalis (Ulm, 1629), says that the convict in a galley received 28 ounces of biscuit per week, and a spoonful of a mess of rice and vegetables. The full complement of a large galley consisted of 270 rowers, with captain, chaplain, doctor, boatswain, master, and ten to fifteen gentlemen adventurers, friends of the captain, sharing his mess, and berthed in the poop; also about eighteen marines and ten warders, a carpenter, cook, cooper, and smith, &c., and from fifty to sixty soldiers; so that the whole equipage of a galley must have reached a total of four hundred men.

The Bagne has seen strange inmates. Perhaps no story of a forçat is more extraordinary than that of Cognard, better known as the Count of Pontis de Sainte-Hélène. This man, who seemed to have been born to command, was well built, tall, and singularly handsome, with a keen eye and a lofty carriage. This fellow managed to escape from the Bagne, and made his way into Spain, where he formed an acquaintance with the noble family of Pontis de Sainte-Hélène, and by some means, never fully cleared up, blotted the whole family out of life and secured all their papers, and thenceforth passed himself off as a Pontis. Under this name he became a sub-lieutenant in the Spanish army, then rose to be captain of a squadron, and after the attack on Montevideo, gained the rank of lieutenant-colonel. Later he formed a foreign legion, and took[78] part in the political struggles in the Peninsula. He affected the most rigid probity in all matters of military accounts, and denounced two of the officers who had been guilty of embezzlement. But these men, in their own defence, accused Pontis of malversion, and General Wimpfen had him arrested. He escaped, but was caught, and transferred to Palma, among the French prisoners. In the bay was lying a Spanish brig. Cognard proposed to his fellow prisoners to attempt to capture it. The coup de main succeeded, and after having taken the brig, they sailed for Algiers, where they sold the vessel, and went to Malaga, then in French occupation. Count Pontis was given a squadron under the Duke of Dalmatia; and when the French army retreated he was accorded a battalion in the 100th regiment of the line.

At the siege of Toulouse, the Count of Pontis, at the head of a flying column, took an English battery. At Waterloo he was wounded.

In 1815 the Count was made Knight of Saint Louis, and given a battalion in the legion of the Seine, and in six months was promoted to be lieutenant-colonel. One day the Duc de Berri asked him if he were one of the noble Spanish House of Ste. Hélène. “Pardieu, mon prince,” answered Cognard, “je suis noble, et de la vieille roche encore.”

Cognard, covered with decorations, in his rich uniform, at the head of his regiment, at reviews—might well have pushed his fortune further, but for an unfortunate meeting. One day, as commander of his corps, he presided, near the column of the Place Vendôme, at a military degradation; when an old Toulon convict, who had been released, observed him, eyed[79] him attentively, and, convinced that he recognised an old comrade of the Bagne, in a fit of spleen and envy, denounced him as such.

The general Despinois sent for Pontis, and finding that there was much that was equivocal on his part, despatched him, under the charge of four gens d’armes, to the Abbaye. There he obtained from the officer permission to change his linen, was allowed to return to his quarters, possessed himself of a pair of pistols, and escaped. Six months after, the Count Pontis de Sainte Hélène, lieutenant-colonel of the legion of the Seine, Knight of S. Louis and of the legion of honour, was recaptured, convicted of appearing under a false name, suspected of the murder of the Pontis family, recognised as an evaded convict, and was sent to end his days in the Bagne at Brest.

In October, 1793, a disorderly mob of soldiers and revolutionary cut-throats, under the command of the painter Carteaux, after having dyed their hands in the blood of six thousand of their countrymen, whom they had massacred at Lyons, invested Toulon, which had shut its gates against the revolutionary army, and had thrown open its port to the English. The town was crowded with refugees from Marseilles, and its bastions were occupied by a mixed multitude of defenders, Sardinians, Spaniards, French, and English, united in nothing save in common hatred of the monsters who were embrued in blood.

The investing army was divided into two corps, separated by the Faron. On the west was Ollioules, where Carteaux had established his headquarters. The commander-in-chief, ignorant of the first principles of military science, and allowing his wife to draw out the[80] orders for the day, and sign them as Femme Carteaux, had planted his batteries where they could do no injury to the English fleet. The siege had begun in September; it dragged on through October. There was organisation neither in the host nor in the commissariat. The army was composed partly of troops detached from that of Italy, mainly of volunteers set at liberty by the taking of Lyons, and a horde of Marseillais ruffians, animated by hopes of murder and plunder.

In the midst of this confusion Bonaparte arrived before Toulon, and appearing before Carteaux had the audacity to point out to him the rudimentary errors he had committed. Carteaux was furious, but his claws were clipped by the Commissioners, who, satisfied of his incompetence, dismissed him, and Dugommier, an old officer, was placed in command. On November 25th a council of war was held, and the Commissioners placed the command of the artillery in the hands of Bonaparte.

In compliance with his instructions, the whole force of the besiegers was directed against the English redoubt Mulgrave, now fort Caire, on the Aiguillette. An attempt to carry it by assault was made on the morning of December 17th. The troops of the Convention were driven back, and Dugommier, who headed the attempt, gave up all for lost. But fresh troops were rapidly brought up in support, another onslaught was attempted, and succeeded in overpowering the Spanish soldiers, to whom a portion of the line was entrusted; whereupon the assailants broke in, turned the flank of the English detachment, and cut down three hundred of them.

The possession of this fort rendered the further maintenance of the exterior defences of Toulon impracticable.[81] Its effect was at once recognised by the English commander, and during the night the whole of the allied troops were withdrawn from the promontory into the city.

Meanwhile, another attack had been made, under the direction of Napoleon, on the rocky heights of Faron, which were carried, and the mountain was occupied by the Republicans, who hoisted the tricolor flag.

The garrison of Toulon consisted of above ten thousand men, and the fortifications of the town itself were as yet uninjured; but the harbour was commanded and swept by the guns of the enemy from l’Aiguillette and Faron. Sir Samuel Hood, in command of the English squadron, strongly urged the necessity of recovering the points that had been lost; but he was overruled, and it was resolved to evacuate the place.

When the citizens of Toulon became aware of this decision, they were filled with dismay. They knew but too well what fate was in store for them if left to the hands of their remorseless fellow-countrymen. Accordingly the quays were crowded with terror-stricken men and women imploring to be taken on board, whilst already the shot from Napoleon’s batteries tore lanes among them, or his shells exploded in their midst. With difficulty, as many as could be accommodated were placed in boats and conveyed to the ships. Fourteen thousand were thus rescued; but Napoleon directed shot and shell among the boats, sinking some, and drowning the unhappy and innocent persons who were flying from their homes.

The prisoners now broke their chains and added to the horror, as they burst into the deserted houses, robbing and firing and murdering where resistance was[82] offered. Next day the troops of the Convention entered the town. During the ensuing days, some hundreds of the inhabitants who had not escaped were swept together into an open place, and without any form of trial were shot.

Barras and Fréron issued a proclamation that all who considered themselves to be good citizens were required to assemble in the Champ-de-Mars under pain of death. Three thousand responded to the order. Fréron was on horseback, surrounded by the troops, cannon, and Jacobins. Turning to these latter, he said, “Go into the crowd and pick out whom you will, and range them along that wall.”

The Jacobins went in and did as desired, according to their caprice. Then, at a signal from Fréron, the guns were discharged, and the unhappy crowd swayed; some fell, others, against the wall, dropped. Fréron shouted, “Let those who are not dead stand up.” Such as had been wounded only rose, when another volley sent them out of life.

Salicetti wrote exultingly: “The town is on fire, and offers a hideous spectacle; most of the inhabitants have escaped. Those who remain will serve to appease the manes of our brave brothers who fought with such valor.” Fouché, Napoleon’s future Head of Police, wrote: “Tears of joy stream over my cheeks and flood my soul. We have but one way in which to celebrate our victory. We have this evening sent 213 rebels under the fire of our lightning.” “We must guillotine others,” said Barras, “to save ourselves from being guillotined.” Executions went on for several days, and numbers of the hapless remnant perished. But even this did not satisfy the Convention. On the motion of[83] Barrère, it was decreed that the name of Toulon should be blotted out, and a commission, consisting of Barras, Fréron, and the younger Robespierre, was ordered to continue the slaughter. Such as were able bought their lives. One old merchant of eighty-four offered all his wealth save eight hundred livres; but the revolutionary judge, coveting the whole, sent him under the guillotine, and confiscated his entire property.

Whilst the butchery was in progress, a grand dinner was given in celebration of the taking of the town. Generals, representatives of the people, sans-culottes, galley-slaves, “the only respectable persons in the town,” as the commissioners said, sat down together, the commissioners occupying a separate table.

Toulon again gradually refilled with people, and under the Directory it was constituted the first military port of France. From Toulon Bonaparte organised his expedition to Egypt.



The olive—The orange—The sumac—The crau of the Gapeau—Contrast between the old town and the new—Shelter or no shelter—The family of Fos—The peninsula of Giens—Saltings—Ancient value of salt—Pomponiana—S. Pierre a’ Al-Manar—A false alarm—The League—Razats and Carcists—Castle held by the Carcists—Surrender—Churches of S. Paul and S. Louis—The Iles de Hyères—The reformatory in Ile du Levant—Mutiny—Horrible scenes—Sentences.

IT will be at Hyères, probably, that the visitor to the Riviera first realises that he has come amidst tropical vegetation, for here he will first see palms, agaves, and aloes in full luxuriance. Moreover, the olive, which has been seen, but not in its full luxuriance, reaches its finest development on the red soil north of the branch line, where it parts from the main line at La Pauline.



The olive is without question the most important tree on this coast; it prevails, and gives its colour to the country everywhere, except in the Montagnes des Maures and the Estérel. This is a most difficult tree for an artist to deal with, as it forms no masses of foliage; the small pointed leaves, dull green above, pale below, are so disposed that the foliage can be represented only by a series of pencil scratches. The trunk has a tendency to split into three or four parts in the ground. The vitality of the olive is remarkable. After a century, it may be after more, the core of the trunk decays, and the tree parts into sections, and lives on through the ever-vital bark. The bark curls about the decayed sections, and forms a fresh tree. Consequently, in place of one huge ancient olive, one finds three or four younger trees, but all with a look on them as if they were the children of old age, growing out of the same root. And when this second generation dies, the vitality of the root remains unimpaired; it throws up new shoots, and thus the life of the tree, like that of an ancient family, is indefinitely prolonged. The healthy olive tree, well fed on old rags and filth of every description, to which it is exceedingly partial, is very beautiful; but the beauty of the olive tree comes out in winter and early spring; when the deciduous trees are in leaf and brilliant green, it looks dull and dowdy. The olive flowers from April to June, and the fruit requires about six months to reach maturity. The harvest, accordingly, is in winter. The berry becomes black finally, and falls from the tree in December and January. The oil from the fully matured olives is more abundant, but is not so good in quality as that expressed from the berry whilst still green. The olives, when gathered, are taken to the mills, which are rude, picturesque buildings, planted in the ravines to command water power; but occasionally the crushing is done by horses turning the mills. The olives are crushed by stone rollers; the pulp is put into baskets and saturated with hot water, and subjected to great pressure. The juice then squeezed out is carried into vats, where the oil floats on the surface and is skimmed off.

The wood of the olive is used for fuel, and for boxes and other ornaments that are hand-painted.

The tree requires good nourishment if it is to be well cropped, and it is most partial to a dressing of old[86] rotten rags. All the filthy and decayed scraps of clothing cast by the Neapolitan peasantry are carried in boats to the coast and are eagerly bought as manure.

At Hyères, moreover, we come on the orange and the lemon. The orange was originally imported from China into Spain, and thence passed to Italy and the Riviera. Oranges are said to live four or five hundred years. S. Dominic planted one in the garden at Sta. Sabina, at Rome, in 1200, that still flourishes. Hale and fruit-bearing also is that at Fondi, planted by Thomas Aquinas in 1278. Nevertheless, it is certain that old orange-trees have disappeared from Hyères. Whether they were killed by the severe winter of 1864, or whether by a disease, is doubtful. The trees one sees now are none of them ancient, and do not attain a height above nine feet. The name orange comes from the Sanskrit, and the Portuguese, who introduced the orange to Europe, borrowed the name from the Hindus. In 1516 Francis I. was present during a naval sham fight at Marseilles, where oranges were used as projectiles. Oranges had been grown sufficiently long at Hyères to have attained a great size in the sixteenth century, for when there, Charles IX., his brother the Duke of Anjou, and the King of Navarre, by stretching their hands, together hooped round the trunk of one tree that bore 14,000 oranges. Thereupon was cut in the bark, “Caroli regis amplexu glorior.” But there are no such orange-trees as that now at Hyères. Probably that was of a more hardy nature and of inferior quality to the orange-tree now grown. In fact, the present strain of oranges cultivated is a late importation, not earlier than about 1848. When a horticulturist of Marseilles imported it, it was next brought to Bordighera; from thence it passed to San[87] Remo, to Ventimiglia, and thence to Nice. The orange, and above all the lemon, is very sensitive to cold, and the frost of February, 1905, blighted nearly every tree along the coast, turning the leaves a pale straw colour. Only in very sheltered spots did they retain their green and gloss.

About Solliés-Pont the sumac is grown for the sake of its tannin. The leaves only are used, but for them the branches are cut off. When these are dry they are stripped of their foliage by women and children. The leaves are then pounded to powder, and are packed in sacks and sent away. Thirty per cent. of the matter in the dried sumac leaves is tannin.

At Hyères we have passed abruptly from the limestone to the schist that has been heaved up by the granite of the Montagnes des Maures. The Gapeau, which at present flows into the sea to the east of Hyères, originally discharged past La Garde into the Rade de Toulon. But it brought down such a quantity of rubble from the limestone range—of which the Pilon de la Sainte Beaume is the highest point—that it has formed a crau of its own, and choked up its mouth to such an extent as to force its current to turn to the farther side of the Maurettes so as to find a passage to the sea.

Hyères is a notable place for the abrupt contrast it exhibits between what is ancient and what is modern. Down the slope of the height, that is crowned by the castle, slides the old town, with narrow streets, mere lanes, to its old walls, in which are gateways, and through these arches we emerge at once into everything that is most up-to-date. At a stride we pass out of the Middle Ages into modern times. There is no intervening zone of transition.


At Hyères the Maurette rises as a natural screen, facing the sun, banking out the north wind, with the crau of the Gapeau on one side, and the bed of the Gapeau on the other; and of course, those who go to the South for shelter would naturally, one would suppose, keep the screen between themselves and the Mistral. But not so. Settlers have thought they had done all that was required when they came to Hyères, and have built their villas, and extended the town to the north-west, precisely where there is no shelter at all, and there is full exposure to the blasts from the north. One great disadvantage to Hyères is the distance at which it stands from the sea.

Hyères belonged originally to the family de Fos, which had the marquisate of Marseilles, an immense fief containing fifty towns, Marseilles, Solliés, Toulon, Hyères, Le Ciotat, Cassis, Aubagne, etc. But in 1257 it was ceded to Charles of Anjou, Count of Provence.

The importance of Hyères was due to its salt pans. The peninsula of Giens was undoubtedly at one time an island, one of the group that forms a chain, of which Porquerolles and l’Ile du Levant are the principal. But the currents round the coast threw up shingle beds and sealed it to the coast, forming an extensive natural lake of salt water between the two barriers, but with a gap in that to the east through which the sea water could flow. In this shallow lagoon salt was produced. The entrance could be closed, and the sun dried up the water in the basin, leaving the salt behind. At present, with our ready communication by rail, the importance and value of salt in ancient times can hardly be realised. In the centre of Gaul and of France in olden days men ravened for salt. It was to them what sweetstuff is now to children. They would sell anything to provide themselves with this condiment. Conceive for a moment what our tables would be without the salt-cellar; how flat, how insipid would be our meals.



Dr. Schweinfurt, in his Travels in the Heart of Africa, describes the loathsome parasitic growths in the intestines of the cattle due to the absence of salt. It is a necessity for man and beast. Our storms carry some and deposit it on the grass; but we live in an island. What intestinal troubles must those men have endured who were deprived of it! Well, the lagoon of Giens furnished a large amount, and there were other salt-pans—as there are still, on the eastern side of Hyères. These made the town to flourish. Salt was the main production and source of wealth.

Near the Château de Carqueyranne, in the lap of the Bay of Giens, are the ruins of a Greco-Roman town, Pomponiana. It stretched from the beach up the hill crowned by the remnants of the Convent of S. Pierre a’ Al-Manar. The old town was explored in 1843 by Prince Frederick, afterwards King Frederick VII. of Denmark. He laid bare the Acropolis, baths, cisterns, store-houses, and a mole for the protection of the galleys that entered the harbour. Most of what was then laid open has since been covered over, but the whole ground is so strewn with pottery that the peasants have to clear their fields of it as an incumbrance.

The ruined convent above was occupied by Sisters of the Benedictine Order. It was fortified, and exercised feudal authority over the land around. In the event of danger, the convent bell summoned the tenants to its aid. But one winter night a frolicsome nun rang the[90] bell for the fun of the thing, and when the vassals arrived, laughed at them for allowing themselves to be fooled from their beds. This prank cost the convent dear, for shortly after a Moorish corsair put into the bay, and the convent was attacked. The alarm bell was sounded in vain; no one answered the summons, and before morning the house was sacked, and the nuns had been carried away, to be sold as slaves in Africa.

A curious condition of affairs existed at Hyères during the troubles of the League.

The Count de Retz, Grand Marshal of France, was Governor of Provence, and the Count de Carces was its Grand Sénéchal. The jealousy of these two men gave birth to a deplorable rivalry, which placed each at the head of a different party. De Retz supported the Huguenots, and the Catholic party took Carces as its headpiece; and the factions called themselves, or were called, Razats and Carcists long after the men whose names they had adopted had disappeared from the scene.

The rancour of each party did not abate, even when plague devastated the province. Then confusion grew worse confounded when the League was formed, due to the death of the Duke of Anjou, brother of Henry III., which made Henry of Navarre, a Calvinist, heir to the throne. The most extreme Carcists, alarmed at the prospect of the succession falling to a Huguenot, formed the plan of inviting the Duke of Savoy to take Provence. The anarchy in the country became intolerable, and large bodies of peasants and mechanics armed and fell on the forces of Carcists and Razats indifferently, routed and butchered them.

In 1586 the town of Hyères was staunch in its[91] adherence to the king, but the castle that commanded it was occupied by the forces of the Baron de Méolhon, who was also Governor of the Port of Marseilles, and he was a Carcist, and inclined to favour the claims of the Duke of Savoy. He had placed a Captain Merle in the castle, with secret instructions to hold it for the duke.

M. de la Valette was Governor of Provence, and he saw himself obliged to make an attempt to take the castle. A messenger between De Méolhon and the Duke of Savoy had been taken with in his possession treasonable correspondence, betraying the plans of the Leaguers.

Hyères readily opened its gates to De la Valette, in November, 1588, and he summoned Merle to surrender the castle, but met with a prompt refusal. Then he attempted to take it by escalading, but in vain. It stood too high; its garrison were too alert. He could not even prevent well-wishers of the Carcists from smuggling provisions into the fortress.

At last, despairing of success, the Governor of Provence withdrew; and having failed to take the castle by force, had recourse to other means. He bought the aid of a M. de Callas, a Leaguer, related to two of the officers of the garrison, and induced him to enter the fortress and bribe and cajole its defenders into surrendering. Merle, however, was not to be seduced. He must be got rid of by other means. A cannon was dragged upstairs to an upper window of a house that commanded Merle’s dining apartment. It was known at what hour he supped, and in what part of the room he sat. A signal was to be given by a traitor when Merle took his place at the table, with his covers before[92] him. The appointed signal was made: the cannon thundered, and a ball crashed in through the window and knocked supper and wine bottles and everything about in wreckage. But happily something had occurred to the captain as he took his seat, and he had left the room. When he returned, there was no more a dumpling on the table, but an exploded shell.

De Callas was sent again into the castle to propose terms of surrender. Merle would still have held out, but the garrison had been bought, and they refused to continue the defence. Terms of capitulation were agreed on, whereby Merle, for surrendering, was to be indemnified with ten thousand crowns. This extraordinary agreement was signed on August 31st, 1589, after the castle had held out against the king for ten months.

The churches of Hyères are not without interest. That of S. Paul, on the height, has immense substructures. It is a curious jumble of parts and styles. It dates back to the eleventh or twelfth century, but the vaulting is later, and later windows were added. The great square tower is Romanesque.

The other church, outside the walls, that of S. Louis, is in much better preservation. It was the chapel of the Knights of the Temple, and is of the twelfth century, very severe, without sculptured capitals to the pillars, and without clerestory. It is a somewhat gloomy church, deriving nearly all its light from the west window. The preceptory of the Templars is within the old town, and is now the Hôtel de Ville.

The Iles de Hyères are a detached portion of the crystalline rocks of the Montagnes des Maures. Their climatic condition is very different from that of Hyères, as they are exposed to the sweep of every wind. They[93] are bleak and uninviting. The only inhabitants are fishermen, Customs-officers, and the lighthouse men.

On L’Ile du Levant was a reformatory for young criminals, started by M. de Pourtalès, but it came to a disastrous end.

According to a law of 1850, such reformatories might be founded and conducted by private individuals, and in 1860 the Count de Pourtalès, as an act of humanity, established an agricultural colony on this island for young criminals, and placed over it an amiable, well-intentioned man named Fauvau.

In Corsica was another, but that was a State establishment. It had become a nest of such disorder and misconduct that it was broken up in 1866, and some of the young criminals from this Corsican reformatory were drafted into that on the Ile du Levant, to the number of sixty-five. These young fellows began at once to give trouble; they complained of their food, of their work, and they demanded meat at every meal, tobacco, coffee, and daily six hours in which to amuse themselves. On Tuesday, October 2nd, they broke out in mutiny, smashed the windows and the lamps, destroyed some of the cells, and drove away the warders. The leader in the movement was one Coudurier, a boy of sixteen. By his command the whole body now rushed to the lock-up, where were confined some of those who had misconducted themselves, broke it open, and led them forth. Then they descended to the cellar, and with axes and crowbars burst open the door, tapped the barrels of wine, and drank as much as they liked.

Coudurier now ordered the breaking into of the store-house. This was a building standing by itself; it had a strong door, and windows firmly barred with iron.[94] The young ruffians succeeded in beating in the upper panels, but those below resisted all their efforts. They climbed over the solid portion and carried forth bacon, sausages, sugar, brandy, and what they could lay their hands on, and when well laden returned over the door to make way for others. Meantime Coudurier had chosen two lieutenants, Ferrendon and Allard, and, in council with them and some others of the worst miscreants, had resolved on putting to death several of their comrades whom they regarded as milksops and spies. By Coudurier’s orders only those were allowed to enter the store-house whose names he called forth, and thus he sent fourteen of the lads he regarded as sneaks into the magazine. Then he emptied a bottle of petroleum over some paper by the door, and stationed Ferrendon and Allard to prevent the egress of the lads who had been sent in. Ferrendon by his orders set the petroleum on fire, and he provided Allard with a long knife with which to drive back the victims into the fire when endeavouring to escape, and to prevent any attempt at rescue. “Ferrendon,” said he to a comrade, Lecocq, “is game for any mischief; and Allard is half-drunk.” In a few minutes the sole entrance to the store-house was a sheet of flame. One boy, Garibaldi, who was within, at once dashed through the fire and began to scramble over the broken door.

Allard stabbed him in the shoulder and breast, and then flung him down into the sheet of flaming petroleum. The scene now became inexpressibly horrible. The boys, seeing the fire rapidly spreading, got to the windows, put their arms between the bars, and screamed for help. They pulled at the gratings with desperation, but were unable to dislodge it. Two boys who ran forward[95] to attempt to extinguish the fire were driven back by the knife of Ferrendon. Some of the young criminals did feel qualms, and a desire to free their comrades, but were overawed by Coudurier. The lighthouse man, who had come to the spot, got a blanket, dipped it in water and ran to the door, but was seized by the boys, taken off his legs, and flung into a pit twenty feet deep, and broke his ankle in the fall, so that he was unable to stir. A boy who snatched at the blanket and tried to extend it to some of those in a window, was also flung into the pit; but he happily came off better, and ran away. The poor wretches within, black against a background of fire, shrieked and wept; their clothes, their hair, caught fire, and one by one they fell back into the flames behind. The frightful end of their comrades sobered the drunken, mutinous crew; and some strove to drown their fears for the consequences by drinking themselves into total unconsciousness.

Next day the mutineers scattered over the island, doing what mischief they pleased. Not till October 4th did help arrive, when the fire was extinguished, the island was occupied by soldiery, and the youths were taken to prison on the mainland, and the ringleaders brought to trial.

It may be wondered where was Fauvau, the Director, all this while. He and the chaplain had got into a boat and escaped to shore. What had become of the warders we are not told, but they seem also to have effected their escape.

On January 3rd, 1867, sixteen of the young criminals were tried at Draguignan. Ferrendon was a boy little over thirteen, a lad with a soft expressive face. Allard was aged thirteen, with a hangdog, evil look. One of the[96] accused was a lad from Paris, refined in appearance and with large, beautiful eyes. One was aged twenty. Coudurier, Fouché, Laurent, and Bérond were found guilty by the jury, not of murder, but of homicide, with extenuating circumstances, and were sentenced to life-long hard labour. Allard was condemned to be sent to a reformatory for ten years. Ferrendon was discharged as innocent! Guenau was also declared innocent. “Where, then, am I to sleep to-night?” he asked; whereupon the audience made up a handsome sum for him.

This was not the end of the matter. In prison one of these culprits murdered another of his fellow boy-convicts because he thought the latter had given evidence against him. It is hard to say which came out worst in this affair, the Director, Chaplain, and warders, or the jury at Draguignan.

Although M. de Pourtalès was willing to renew the experiment, the establishment was not restored, and of the reformatory only the ruins remain.




Exceptional character of the Maures—Warm quarters in the Southern nooks of the chain—A future for them—The cork tree—The carob—The mulberry—The Saracens take possession of the chain—King Hugh makes terms with them: his history—Marozia—S. Majolus—William of Provence—Le Grand Fraxinet—Grimaud—S. Tropez—The Bravade.

A HUNCH of granite heaved up, and carrying on its back the beds of schist and gneiss that had overlain it, stands up between the Gapeau and the Argens. Its nearest geological relations, not connexions, are the Cevennes and Corsica, all pertaining to the same period of upheaval. Only to the east does the granite assert itself above the overlying formations. This mass of mountain is of no great elevation, never rising above 1,200 feet, and extending over a superficies of 200,000 acres.

“It forms by itself,” says Elisée Reclus, “an orographic system sharply limited. Its mass of granite, gneiss, and schist is separated from the surrounding limestone mountains by profound and wide valleys, those of the Aille, the Argens, and the Gapeau. In fact, it constitutes an ensemble as distinct from the rest of Provence as if it were an island separated from the continent.”


The forms of the mountains are rounded, and there are no bold crags; but it is scooped out into valleys that descend rapidly to the sea and to little bays; and these scoopings afford shelter from winter winds and cold, facing the sun, and walled in from every blast.

I know a farm kitchen where a pair of curved settees are drawn about the fire, and the gap between the settees is closed in the evening by a green baize curtain. The family sits on a winter night in this cosy enclosure, the men with their pipes and jugs of cider, the women knitting and sewing; all chattering, singing, laughing.

Now the southern face of the Maures is precisely such a snuggery formed by Nature. The mountains curve about to focus the sun’s rays; and the cork woods, evergreen, kill all glare. Here the date trees ripen their fruit; here the icy blasts do not shrivel up the eucalyptus, and smite down the oranges.

The pity is, there are as yet no well-established winter resorts at Lavandou, Cavalière, and, above all, Cavalaire—places more adapted to delicate lungs than Hyères, exposed to the currents of wind over the Crau; than that blow-hole S. Raphael, planted between the cheeks of the Maures and l’Estérel; than Cannes, where the winds come down from the snows over the plains of the Siagne; than Nice, with the Paillon on one side and the Var on the other.

But for the English visitor in these suntraps three things are lacking—a lawn-tennis ground, a lending library, and an English chapel. Inevitably the Bay of Cavalaire will, in the future, become a great refuge for invalids. But that this may become so, above all, what is needed is a bunch of thorns applied to the tail of the engine that runs the train along the line from Hyères[99] to S. Raphael by the coast. From Hyères to that place is just fifty miles, and the quick trains do it in four, the slow in five hours.

The mountains are mantled in cork wood, save the bald heads of some, and the making of corks is the main industry of the scattered villages.

The cork tree (Quercus suber) retains its leaves for two years. It has two envelopes of bark, which are quite distinct. The inner cannot be removed without destroying the life of the tree.

Virgin cork is not of much value; it is employed only for nets, and has no elasticity.

Only after the third harvest is the cork in perfect condition. The tree is then about forty years old. It is first skinned (démasclée) when the tree is aged twenty or five-and-twenty. The second peeling takes place when it is aged thirty or five-and-thirty. The third and best is collected when the tree is between forty and forty-five years old. The cork is taken off the trunk from above the ground to a height of about six feet, leaving the under surface of a coffee colour.

The cork bark is plunged into a cauldron of boiling water, and is left in it for half an hour. Then it is cut into strips, next into squares. It is again boiled for a quarter of an hour, and then allowed slowly to dry, and is not touched again for six months, after which it is cut into shape. The best corks are made out of strips that have been kept for three years. To whiten the corks they are subjected to sulphur fumes.

The great enemy to the cork tree is the Coroebus bifascatus, an insect that bores a gallery, not in the bark, but in the wood of the tree. It attacks the branches, and its presence can be detected by the sickly[100] look of the leaves. When this indication shows that it is burrowing, the branches affected are cut off above the point to which it has bored, and are burnt.

At one time it was supposed that the cork tree required no culture. But of late years great pains have been taken with it, and it readily responds to them. A self-sown tree growing up in the midst of heather and cistus is not likely to attain to a great size. It is cut down to the root; then, when it sends up fresh shoots, one is kept, the rest removed. This operation has to be repeated, and the ground about the root to be well dressed. After six years the tree will take care of itself.

The great danger, above all, to which the cork woods are exposed, is fire; whole tracts have been devastated in this way, and the proprietors ruined. Consequently, precautions are insisted on. Smokers are specially warned not to throw about their unextinguished matches.

The carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua) is another that is met with, and which attracts the attention of the visitor from the north. The pods, called locust beans, are supposed to have been those on which S. John the Baptist fed when in the wilderness. These beans grow in shape like a horn, which has given its name to the tree. They contain a sweet nutritious pulp, enclosing yellow seeds. The fruit is used extensively for feeding animals, and is eaten by children, who, indeed, will eat anything. When the phylloxera was ravaging the vineyards of France, a company started a distillery at Cette to manufacture cognac out of the fruit of the carob. But it failed, as the brandy so made retained a peculiar and disagreeable flavour that could not be got out of it.

The carob is an evergreen, vigorous and beautiful.[101] It grows in most stony, arid spots, where is hardly a particle of soil. Such a tree cannot live only on what it derives from its roots; it must live in a great measure by its leaves, as, indeed, to a large extent, do all evergreens. The scanty soil will in many places not feed trees that drop their leaves in autumn, and supply them afresh every spring. Such renewal exacts from the poor soil more than it can furnish. Consequently, Nature spreads evergreens over the rocky surfaces that contain but slight nutritive elements. Thus it is that in Provence the vegetation is nearly all of an evergreen character.

Beside the manufacture of corks, the inhabitants of the Maures breed silkworms, and so grow mulberry trees for their sustenance.

King Réné is credited with having introduced the mulberry into Provence from Sicily; but it is more probable that it is indigenous. What Réné did was to suggest its utilisation for the feeding of the silkworm. This branch of production was greatly encouraged by Henry IV., but wars and intestine troubles, the ravaging of the country by rival factions, by the Savoyards and by the French, caused the cultivation of the silkworm to decline. Of late years, however, it has been on the increase, and the number of mulberry trees planted has accordingly also, greatly increased. The Chain des Maures takes its name from the Saracens, who occupied it, and made it their stronghold, whence they descended to burn and destroy.

By the infusion of new elements, forms of government, new religious ideas, conceptions of individual and political rights, the old world of Gaul was in process of transformation; it was gradually organising itself on a[102] broad basis, when in the midst of this society in reconstruction appeared a new element, quite unknown, and on whose advent no reckoning had been made. It came from the coasts of Africa, and was Mohammedan. Some called these people Hagarenes, as descendants of Hagar, but they themselves regarded their descent as from Sarah, and so called themselves Saracens.

Their first appearance on the Provençal coast was in 730, when they sacked Nice and other towns, and the inhabitants fled to the mountains to save their lives.

They harassed the littoral incessantly, not in large forces at a time, attempting a conquest, but arriving in a few vessels, unexpectedly, to pillage, murder, and carry away captives. As soon as ever the forces of the Counts arrived, they escaped to their ships and fled, to recommence their devastations at another point.

In 846 the Saracens carried ruin and desolation over the whole plain of Aix, and made themselves masters of all vantage points along the coast. The population sunk in despair, no longer offered effective resistance, and the nobles, quarrelling among themselves, invoked the aid of the infidels against their neighbours of whom they were jealous. About this time it happened that a Moorish pirate was wrecked in the bay of S. Tropez. He soon saw the strategic value of the chain of granite and schist mountains, and returning to Africa collected a large band, crossed the sea, and took possession of the whole mountainous block. At this time, moreover, Mussulman Spain was a prey to a bloody schism. The dynasty of the Abassides was succeeded by that of the Ommiades, and the vicissitudes of parties continually augmented the number of those who were conquered and proscribed. These, flying from Spain, sought refuge[103] in this corner of Provence, which by such means was converted into a little Mussulman realm. On every height was built a rebath, a fort that the Christians called a fraxinet, whence a sharp watch was kept over the sea, and should a merchant vessel be descried, at once a flotilla of pirate boats started out of the harbour of S. Tropez, and fell on the unfortunate merchantmen.

Thus established here, masters also of the Balearic Isles, of Sardinia and Sicily, as well as of the African coast, they completely paralysed the trade of the Mediterranean, and exposed the inhabitants of the seaboard, that was Christian, to daily peril of being carried off to be sold in the slave markets of Tunis and Morocco.

In Spain, the Mussulman conquerors had developed a high state of civilization. They had become architects of great skill. They cultivated science and literature.

In Provence they were not constructive. They did nothing for civilization, everything to waste, set back, and to destroy. They have left behind them in the country not a trace, save a few names, of their strongholds. The condition of affairs had became intolerable. The Moors of the Grand Fraxinet, their principal fortress in the Montagnes des Maures, started on a pillaging expedition, crossed Lower Provence, and entered the Alps. As they turned north they met with great resistance. They ascended the river Roja, they pushed over the Col de Tende, and descended into the plains of Lombardy. They took the monastery of S. Dalmas de Pedene, and although most of the monks had fled, they caught and killed forty of them, and either massacred or took prisoners all the peasants about.


Another pillaging excursion crossed the great S. Bernard to attack the monastery of S. Maurice, where the Archbishop of Embrun, and some of the Provençal prelates had stored the treasures of their churches. A third party from the Fraxinet, aided by a fleet from Africa, had taken Genoa, and put all the inhabitants to the edge of the sword.

Hugh, Count of Provence and King of Italy, was appealed to for aid. Having no naval force to oppose to that of the Moors, he solicited help from the Emperor of the East, and a fleet from Constantinople entered the Gulf of S. Tropez, and burnt that of the Saracens. Hugh, in the meantime, invaded the mountains and reached the Fraxinet.

But whilst thus engaged, he heard that Berengarius, Marquess of Ivrea, had taken advantage of his absence to fall on his possessions in Italy. Hugh thereupon dismissed the Greek fleet, and made an alliance with the Saracens, to whom he committed the passages of the Alps.

About this same Hugh of Provence, one of the biggest scoundrels who ever breathed, it will be as well to say something.

Hugh was the son of Theobald, Count of Provence, and of Bertha, daughter of Lothair, King of Burgundy. The House of Provence had acquired great possessions during the reign of Louis III., King of Arles and Emperor (d. 915), the uncle of Hugh. But Hugh was not content. He raised pretensions to the kingdom of Italy, then held by Rudolf, King of Transjuran Burgundy. Hugh was seconded by his half-brothers Guido and Lambert, Dukes of Tuscany and Spoleto, and by his sister, Ermengarde, widow of the Marquess of Ivrea.[105] Pope John X., Lambert, Archbishop of Milan, and nearly all the Lombard nobles, supported his claim, and he disembarked at Pisa in 926, and was crowned at Pavia. The crafty Hugh, fully estimating the influence of the clergy in the politics of Italy, affected the most profound zeal for religion, and flattered the clergy. John X., in Rome, was in a difficult position. Rome at the time was ruled by the infamous Marozia. John had been the favourite of Marozia’s equally infamous mother Theodora. He had, in fact, been her paramour, and it was she who had advanced him from one bishopric to another, and had finally placed the tiara on his head. On the death of his mistress, John found himself engaged in a fierce contest for the mastery of Rome with Marozia and her lover, or husband, the Marquess Alberic, by whom she had a son of the same name, and another, by Pope Sergius it was rumoured, whom she afterwards elevated to the Papacy.

John managed to drive the Marquess out of Rome, and he was assassinated in 925; whereupon Marozia married Guido, Duke of Tuscany, half-brother of Hugh of Provence. The Pope hoped, notwithstanding this connexion, by offering the prize of the Imperial crown, to secure Hugh’s protection against his domestic tyrants. But he was disappointed. Marozia seized on the Pope, the former lover of her mother. His brother Peter was killed before his face, and John was thrown into prison, where, some months after, he died, either of anguish or, as was rumoured, smothered with a pillow.

Marozia did not venture at once to place her son on the Papal throne. A Leo VI. was Pope for some months, and a Stephen VII. for two years and one month. The son was still a mere boy, too young for[106] the shameless woman to advance him to the Chair of S. Peter. But on the death of Stephen, Marozia again ruled alone in Rome; Guido, her husband, was dead, and she made her son Pope under the title of John XI.

But Marozia was not satisfied with having been the wife, first of a Marquess, then of a Duke; the mistress of Pope Sergius, the mother of Pope John XI. She sent to offer her hand to Hugh of Provence, the new King of Italy. Hugh was not scrupulous in his amours, but there was an impediment in the way. She had been the wife of his half-brother. But the youthful Pope, the son of the wretched woman, was ready with a dispensation, and the marriage was celebrated in Rome.

Hugh set to work now to strike down, one after another, the nobles who had supported him, and had shaken down the throne of Rudolf, acting with unexampled perfidy and ingratitude. He did not even spare his half-brother, Lambert, who had succeeded Guido in the Duchy of Tuscany, for he plucked out his eyes.

His high-handed and merciless conduct alarmed those who had not yet suffered. One day, Alberic, the son of Marozia, was commanded by King Hugh to serve him with water, at supper, so as to wash his hands. Performing his office awkwardly or reluctantly, the youth spilled the water, whereupon the King struck him in the face. Alberic was furious; he went forth and placed himself at the head of a conspiracy against his stepfather. The bells of Rome rang out, the people rushed into the streets, besieged the Castle of S. Angelo, and took it. Hugh had to fly and form a court at Pavia.


It was in 936 that King Hugh marched into Provence to dislodge the Moors from the Grand Fraxinet, when a general conspiracy broke out in Northern Italy, headed by Berengar, Marquess of Ivrea. Hugh had despoiled his half-brother, Lambert, of the Duchy of Tuscany, and had given it to his own full brother Boso; but after awhile, becoming jealous of his power, he had dispossessed Boso. Berengar, Marquess of Ivrea, had married Willa, the daughter of Boso. Berengar had been at the court of Hugh, when that King had made a plan to seize and blind him. But he received timely warning from Lothair, King Hugh’s son, and had fled. Finding discontent rife, he placed himself at the head of the Italian princes and nobles.

After his abandonment of the Mountains of the Moors, and having come to terms with the Saracens, Hugh hastened into Italy, only to find that his cause was lost. Amidst general execration, he was forced to retire into Provence in 946, and there he died three years later, in the odour of sanctity.

Thenceforth for awhile the Moors were left undisturbed, to continue their ravages. Berengar and his son even contracted alliance with them. But at last an effort was made to be rid of the incubus. And the person who was the motive force to set the Count of Provence in action was S. Majolus.

Majolus was born of wealthy parents about the year 908, near Riez, in Provence. But owing to an incursion of the Saracens the family estate was ruined, houses were burnt, crops destroyed, and the peasants killed or carried off as captives. Majolus took refuge in Macon with his uncle, who was bishop. Then he became a monk at Cluny. In 948 the abbot Aymard resigned,[108] and appointed Majolus to succeed him. But the ex-abbot one day, whilst in the infirmary, fancied a bit of cheese, and screamed for it to be brought to him. No one paid attention to his angry and repeated yells, as the monks at the time were themselves dining. Aymard was so offended at this neglect that he deposed Majolus and resumed the headship of the establishment. But on his death Majolus was elected in his room. After a visit to Rome, Majolus was on his way back when a band of Saracen marauders took him. Seeing one of the Moors about to cleave the head of one of his companions whom they considered not likely to fetch a ransom, Majolus sprang forward and interposed his arm. He saved the life of his comrade, but long suffered from the wound. The Saracens forced the monks of Cluny to pay the heavy ransom of a thousand pounds of silver for their abbot.

Majolus had now suffered twice from these scourges of the South, and he preached a crusade against them in 972.

It took him ten years, however, to rouse the Provençals to undertake the expulsion of the Moors, so cowed and despairing had they become. He was ably assisted by one Bavo, son of Adelfried, a noble of Nuglerium (Noyers, near Sistèron?), who had taken a vow to avenge the honour of his wife, who had been outraged by a Saracen. This man swore to exterminate every Moor who came within reach of his arm. Eventually he died at Voghera, on a pilgrimage to Rome to give thanks for victory over the Moors.



William, Count of Provence, at the instigation of Majolus, took up arms against the Moors, and hemmed them into the chain of mountains that still bears their name. The campaign lasted through several years, till finally the main stronghold, Le Grand Fraxinet, was taken. After this, one fort and then another fell, and the boats were captured and burnt. William did not massacre the infidels, but reduced them to servitude, and their descendants continued to live on in Provence in this condition. Romeo de Villeneuve, in his will, dated 1250, ordered his male and female Saracen slaves to be sold.

William of Provence had been aided by a Grimaldi from Genoa; he made his prisoners build the walls of Nice and cultivate the soil. To this day a quarter of Nice bears the name of lou canton dei sarraïs, for it was here that these people were interned. Grimaldi, for his services, was granted lands in the Chaine des Maures, and the Golf de Grimaud and the town of Grimaud take their name from him. The Grimaldi family comes first into notice covered with honour, as liberators of the Christian from plunderers and pirates. The Grimaldi of to-day at Monaco are known as living on the proceeds of the gaming tables of Monte Carlo, the plunderers of Christendom.

Le Grand Fraxinet itself may be visited, but there remain few traces of the Saracen stronghold; some substructures and a cistern are all. It has been supposed and asserted that the natives of the town, in their cast of feature, in their dark eyes and hair, in the pose of their bodies, still proclaim their Moorish descent. No one who has been in Tunis or Algiers will corroborate this. In fact, the inhabitants are indistinguishable from other Provençals.

Cogolin and Grimaud are two little towns living upon, and smelling of, cork, at a very little distance apart. The Castle of Cogolin has been wholly destroyed, save[110] for a bell tower. That of Grimaud is in better condition, but is a ruin. The place was taken from the Grimaldis in 1378 by Louis I. of Anjou and Provence, as the Grimaldi of that time had sided in the war of succession with Charles of Durazzo, and he gave it to Christopher Adorno. It passed from one to another, and was raised into a marquisate in 1627; but the castle was dismantled in virtue of a decree in 1655.

The town is curious, built on a conical hill dominated by the castle. The streets are narrow. The church is rude, Early Romanesque, and very curious.

Undoubtedly the sea originally ran up to Cogolin and Grimaud. Now all the basin out of which they rise is a flat alluvial plain intersected by dykes, and growing, near La Foux, splendid umbrella pines.

S. Tropez, charming little town as it is, the best centre for excursions in the Chain of the Maures, is nevertheless not a place that can ever become a winter residence, as it looks to the north and is lashed by the terrible Mistral. But it has this advantage denied to the other towns on the coast, that, having the sun at the back, one looks from it upon the sea in all its intensity of colour without being dazzled.

S. Tropez has been supposed to occupy the site of a Phœnician-Greek town, Heraclea Caccabaria, but this is improbable. This place was almost certainly in the sweet sun-bathed Bay of Cavalaire. There were, indeed, two ancient towns on the Gulf, Alcone and Athenopolis; and certainly Grimaud was a town in Roman times, for there are remains of the aqueduct that supplied it with water.

The Gulf was called Sinus Sambracitanus, and, as already stated, at one time reached inland to the feet of[111] Grimaud. And at Cogolin a Greek funerary monument has been found.

S. Tropez was completely ruined by the Saracens when they occupied the Maures. After they were driven out it was rebuilt, but was again destroyed in the War of Succession between the Duke of Anjou and Charles of Durazzo. It was rebuilt under King Réné and colonised by some Genoese families, who fortified it and undertook to defend it. In 1592 it gallantly resisted the Duke of Savoy, and forced him to retire. In 1652 S. Tropez was a prey to civil war between the Sabreurs and the Canifets, who had succeeded to the feud of the Carcists and Razats. The Sabreurs were those representing military force, the Canifets represented the échevins, and were nicknamed after the canif used by the latter to mend their pens. I shall have more to say about this when we come to Draguignan. The Sabreurs got possession of the castle, but the Duc de Mercœur sent a regiment to assist the citizens, and the Sabreurs were dislodged.

The town is divided into two parts—the old town and the new—and the former teems with picturesque features that attract the artist. The women of S. Tropez are noted for their good looks, due to the infusion of Italian blood. S. Tropez is the scene of a peculiar festival, La Bravade, taking place on the 16th, 17th, and 18th May every year, in commemoration of the defence of the town against the Duke of Savoy in 1637; combined with the patronal feast of S. Tropez on May 17th. Every Monday in Easter week a Captain of the Town is elected for the ensuing year, and he has the regulation of the festival. This is initiated on May Day, or the next Sunday and Thursday, by the “Promenade des Joies,[112]” when members of a company carrying hoops adorned with many-coloured fluttering ribbons, promenade the town, led by drummers. On May 16th, at 3 p.m., the Captain, with his attendant officers, marches to the Mairie, where he is presented with pike and banner by the Mayor, to a discharge of firearms, which thenceforth go on banging day and night till the evening of the ensuing day. The guns are discharged at any passer-by, but only at the legs—and are, of course, charged with powder alone. The clergy, led by the cross, escorted by the beadles, arrive from the church and bless the guns and other weapons. Then the Bravadeurs follow to the church, where they receive the bust of S. Tropez, and the procession starts capering, dancing, swaying in and out of the streets, through the town, fifes screaming, drums rolling, guns exploding. The procession moves to the Port, where the Captain and all his company salute the sea. Whereupon any gunboats, torpedo boats, etc., that happen to be anchored in the harbour, return the salute by a general thunder of guns.

But the 17th—the day of S. Tropez—is that of greatest festivity. It opens with a Mass of the Mousquetaires at 8 a.m., after which follows a general procession. In the afternoon the Bravade marches to the Mairie and the pikes and banner are surrendered. On May 18th, at 8 a.m., is a Mass at the chapel of S. Anne; around the chapel are ranged stalls of sellers of black nougat and a sort of cake known by the name of fougasette. Then ensues a déjeuner given by the Captain to his assistants and to the town authorities; and in the evening the festival concludes with a general farandol on the Lices.




Rapid Rise—An exposed spot, unsuitable as a winter resort—Napoleon here embarks for Elba: his journey from Fontainebleau—The via Aurelia—Fréjus—Choking up of the harbour—Roman remains—The Cathedral—Agricola—Monuments—S. Hilary—Sieyès; sans phrases—Désauguier—The Caveau—His Carnival Lay—Some of his jokes.

A FEW years ago S. Raphael was a fishing village about an old Templar church. There were in it but a couple of hundred poor folk. Then some speculators cast their eyes on the place, and calculating, not unreasonably, on the lack of intelligence of visitors from the North, resolved on making it into a winter sanatorium. They bought out the fisher families, and set to work to build hotels and lay out esplanades and gardens.

Now any person with a grain of sense in his head has but to look at the map to see that S. Raphael is the very last place on the coast suitable as a winter resort. It lies between two great humps of mountains, the Chaine des Maures and the Estérel. It has before it the ever-shallowing Gulf of Fréjus, that stretches back into alluvial deposit and pestiferous morasses—open to the north; and down this bare, unwholesome plain roars and rages the Mistral. It has blown the sea out of the Bay to the distance of two miles. It is enough, entering the ears, to drive the frail lungs out of the breast betwixt the teeth.


The Argens, which has flowed from west to east, receiving the drainage of the Montagnes des Maures, receives also the Parturby and the Endre from the limestone, and then turns about and runs almost due south, but with an incline to the east. It forms a wide basin, once a long arm of sea, but now filled up with deposit, and with festering lagoons sprinkled over its surface; the two great mountain chains from east and west contract, and force the winds that come down from the north, and the snows of the Alps, to concentrate their malice on S. Raphael. If you love a draught, then sit before a roaring fire, with an open window behind you. If you desire a draught on a still larger scale, go to S. Raphael.

Perhaps the speculators who invented this Station Hivernale thought that it was necessary to add something more, in order to attract patients to the place, and Valescure was established among pine woods. The aromatic scent of the terebinth, its sanatory properties, so highly estimated, so experimentally efficacious in pulmonary disorders, etc., etc. Valescure is just as certainly exposed to winds as is S. Raphael. As to pines and eucalyptus, they can be had elsewhere, in combination with shelter.

However, let me quote M. Leuthéric, who has a good word to say for S. Raphael:—

“Few regions of Provence present conditions of landscape and climate (!!) more seductive. The little town of Saint Raphael is placed beyond the zone of infection from the marshes of Fréjus. It stretches gracefully along the shore at the foot of the savage chain of the Estérel. On all sides pointed rocks of red porphyry pierce the sombre foliage of cork trees and pines. The coast is fringed by sandbanks, extending along under cliffs covered with ilexes. A little way out to sea, two tawny-coloured rocks, like fantastic beasts at rest, close the harbour, and receive over their long backs the foam of the breakers; the first is couched some cable lengths from the shore, the second five hundred metres beyond it. They bear the names of the Land and the Sea Lions.”[8]



It was here that Napoleon entered the vessel deporting him to Elba, attended by the Commissioners of the Allied Powers. He had left Fontainebleau upon April 20th, 1814. As he got south he was made to perceive that his popularity, if he ever had any in Provence, was gone. Near Valence he encountered Augereau, whom he had created Duke of Castiglione, and who was an underbred, coarse fellow. Napoleon and his Marshal met on the 24th. Napoleon took off his hat, but Augereau, with vulgar insolence, kept his on. “Where are you going?” asked the fallen Emperor, “to Court?”—“I care for the Bourbons as little as I do for you,” answered Augereau: “all I care for is my country.” Upon this, Napoleon turned his back on him, and re-entered the carriage. Augereau would not even then remove his hat and bow, but saluted his former master with a contemptuous wave of the hand.

At Valence, Napoleon saw, for the first time, French soldiers wearing the white cockade. At Orange the air rang with cries of “Vive le Roy!

On arrival at Orgon the populace yelled, “Down with the Corsican! Death to the tyrant! Vive le Roy!” Portraits of Bonaparte were burnt before his eyes; an effigy of himself was fluttered before the carriage window, with the breast pierced, and dripping with[116] blood. A crowd of furious women screamed, “What have you done with our children?” The Commissioners were obliged to stand about the carriage to protect him; and it was with difficulty that a way could be made through the mob for the carriages to proceed. At Saint Cannat the crowd broke the windows of his coach. Then, for his protection, he assumed a cap and a greatcoat of Austrian uniform, and instead of pursuing his way in the coach, entered a cabriolet. The carriages did not overtake the Emperor till they reached La Calade. The escort found him standing by the fire in the kitchen of the inn, talking with the hostess. She had asked him whether the tyrant was soon to pass that way. “Ah, sir,” she said, “it is all nonsense to assert that we are rid of him. I have always said that we never shall be sure of being quit of him till he is thrown to the bottom of a well and it is then filled in with stones. I only wish that well were mine in the yard. Why, the Directory sent him to Egypt to get rid of him, and he returned.” Here the woman, having finished skimming her pot, looked up, and perceived that all the party was standing uncovered, except the person whom she was addressing. She was confounded, and her embarrassment amused the ex-Emperor and dispelled his annoyance.

The sous-préfet of Aix closed the gates of the town to prevent the people from issuing forth. At a château near Napoleon met his sister Pauline, who was ill, or pretended to be ill, and was staying there. When he entered to embrace her, she started back. “Oh, Napoleon, why this uniform?”

“Pauline,” replied he, “do you wish that I were dead?”


The princess, looking at him steadfastly, replied, “I cannot kiss you in that Austrian dress. Oh, Napoleon, what have you done?”

The ex-Emperor at once retired, and having substituted a greatcoat of his Old Guard for the Austrian suit, entered the chamber of his sister, who ran to him and embraced him tenderly. Then, going to the window, he saw a crowd in the court in a very uncertain temper. He descended at once, and noticing among them an old man with a gash across his nose and a red ribbon in his button-hole, he went up to him at once, and asked, “Are you not Jacques Dumont?”

“Yes, yes, Sire!” And the old soldier drew himself up and saluted.

“You were wounded, but it seems to me that it was long ago.”

“Sire, at the battle of Tebia, with General Suchet. I was unable to serve longer. But even now, whenever the drum beats, I feel like a deserter. Under your ensign, Sire, I could still serve whenever your Majesty would command.” The old man shed tears as he said, “My name! To recollect that after fifteen years!” All hesitation among the crowd as to how they would receive Napoleon was at an end. He had won every heart.

Napoleon, as it happens, had a very bad memory for names. What is probable is, that Pauline pointed the old soldier out to her brother from the window, and named him, before Napoleon descended.

The English frigate, the Undaunted, was lying in the Gulf of Fréjus. The fallen Emperor manifested considerable reluctance to go on board. However, on April 28th he sailed from S. Raphael, and after a rough[118] passage disembarked at Porto Ferrajo, the capital of Elba, on the 4th of May.

The great Roman road, the Via Aurelia, left the capital of the world by the Janiculan Gate, made for Pisa, Lucca, followed the coast the whole way, passed above where is now Monaco, over a spur of the Maritime Alps by Nice, Antibes, Cannes, came to a little town in the lap of the Gulf of Fréjus, and thence turned abruptly away from the coast and made direct for Aix and Arles. Thence roads radiated: one, leading up the left bank of the Rhone, took troops and commerce to the Rhine. Thence also the Domitian Way conveyed both by Narbonne into Spain.

This bay was the last harbour on the Mediterranean for troops that were to march into the heart of Gaul, to Britain, or to the Rhine. Hitherto the road, hugging the coast, offered innumerable facilities for provisioning soldiery and supplying them with munitions of war. But from the Bay of Fréjus this advantage ceased. Julius Cæsar saw the great strategical importance of the harbour, and he resolved to make of it an important haven, a naval station, and an emporium for stores. Marseilles he did not choose. It was a commercial town, a Greek town, and he was out of temper with it for having sided with Pompey against him. Accordingly he settled here some veterans of his favourite Tenth Legion, to become the nucleus of a colony. But Cæsar overlooked what was a most important point—his port Forum Julii was planted at the mouth of the Argens, and the river brought down a vast amount of fluviatile deposit, mud and sand, and inevitably in a few years would silt up his port. It had a further disadvantage—it was a fever trap. To the south the town had a wide[119] tract of fetid marsh, breeding malaria and mosquitoes. He would have done well to have swallowed his resentment against Marseilles and to have taken the opinion of so observant a man as Vitruvius, or even to have studied the conditions himself more closely. Now all the harbour is buried in silt, and grass grows where galleys floated. The lap of the bay, which was once at Fréjus, begins now at S. Raphael and extends to Cap S. Aigous. In time S. Raphael also will be inland, and the Lion de Mer will become, like its fellow, a Lion de Terre.

Michel de l’Hôpital, who lived in the sixteenth century, in one of his letters wrote:—

“We arrived at Fréjus, which is nothing more now but a poor little town. Here are grand ruins of an ancient theatre, foundered arcades, baths, aqueduct, and scattered remains of quays and basins. The port has disappeared under sand, and is now nothing but a field and a beach.”

If S. Raphael be devoid of antiquities and of history, at a little distance is Fréjus, that has both in abundance.

The ruins are many, but not beautiful; everything was built in a hurry, and badly built. The aqueduct was no sooner completed than it gave way and had to be patched up. The triumphal arch on the old quays is a shabby affair. The amphitheatre is half cut out of the natural rock. There was plenty of granite and porphyry accessible, but the builders did not trouble themselves to obtain large and solid blocks; they built of brick and small stones, without skill and impatiently. The work was probably executed by corvées of labourers impressed from the country round. There were two enormous citadels; one to the north, the other to the[120] south of the port. The latter, the Butte S. Antoine, was, however, mainly a huge accumulation of store chambers, magazines for whatever was needed for the soldiers, and attached to it was the lighthouse. Beyond, some way on the ancient mole, is the most perfect monument of Roman times extant in Fréjus. It goes by the name of La Lantern; but it was not a lighthouse at all, but the lodge of a harbour-master, who gave directions with a flag to vessels how to enter the harbour and avoid the shoals.

The railway now runs close to it across the ancient basin, the port made by Agrippa. To the north of this, where stands now the chapel of S. Roch, was the Port of Cæsar. Poplars now stand where was formerly a forest of masts.

The amphitheatre is cut through its entire length by a road. The old wall of the town reached to it, included it, and then drew back to where is now the railway station. The remains of the theatre are to the north of the modern town, and those of the baths to the south-west; they may be reached by taking a road in that direction from the Butte S. Antoine.

Although Julius Cæsar has the credit of having made the place and called it after his own name, it is certainly more than a guess that there was a Græco-Phœnician settlement here before that time, occupying the bunch of high ground rising above the marshes of the Argens. Indeed, monuments have been found that imply as much, though later in date than the making of the place into a naval station by Cæsar. One of these is bi-lingual—Latin and Greek. It begins in Latin:—

“To Caius Vilius Ligur, this is dedicated by his mother Maxima.”


Then comes Greek:—

“This tomb had been constructed for those much older; but Destiny, under the influence of the country and climate, has smitten a child of seven years. His parents, his father and mother, have buried him whom they brought up. Vain are the hopes of men here below.”

It is noticeable that this child bore the name of Ligur, living and dying among the Ligurians of the coast. Possibly the family had this native blood in their veins and were not ashamed of it. Another tomb is all in Latin:—

“Agrippina Pia to the Memory of her Friend Baricbal. He lived forty years. She who was his heiress has constructed this monument for him and herself.”

And underneath are a pair of clasped hands.

What was the story? The name Baricbal is Barac Baal, the Blessed of Baal, the name of a Phœnician. The young heiress undertakes to be buried in the same tomb with him later. But she was an heiress, and she was young. I doubt if her resolution held out, and she did not clasp hands after a year or two with some one else.

The cathedral is not particularly interesting; it is of the eleventh and twelfth centuries. The baptistery is earlier, and sustained by eight Corinthian columns of granite taken from a Roman building. The cloisters are good, the arches resting on pairs of columns. Fréjus has produced some remarkable men. First of all comes Agricola, the father-in-law of Tacitus, who wrote his life. From that biography we see what an honourable, true, and in every way upright man an old Roman could[122] be. Agricola was born in A.D. 37 and died in 93. His life is of special interest to us, as he spent so much of his time in Britain, carried the Roman arms into Scotland, and sent an expedition round the coast and established the fact that Britain was an island. He was moved to this by the following circumstance. A body of Germans had been levied on the Rhine and were sent over to serve under Agricola. But after having murdered a centurion and some soldiers who were drilling them, they seized on three light vessels and compelled the captains to go on board with them. One of these, however, escaped to shore, whereupon these Germans murdered the other two, put to sea, and sailed away without one of them having any acquaintance with the sea and the management of ships. They were carried north by winds and waves, and landed occasionally to obtain water and food and to plunder the natives. They circumnavigated the north of Scotland, and then were carried out to sea and suffered terrible privations. They were driven by starvation to kill and eat the weakest of their number and to drink their blood. At length they were wrecked on the North German coast, where they were seized on as pirates, and sold as slaves to the Romans on the left bank of the Rhine. Here they talked and yarned of their adventures, and the news reached Agricola; so he fitted out his expedition and proved the fact that Britain actually was an island. Finally, owing to his success, he fell under suspicion to the jealous tyrant Domitian and was recalled to Rome, where he died; whether poisoned by the Emperor or died a natural death is uncertain. Tacitus himself does not venture to pass an opinion.

Another great native of Fréjus was S. Hilary of[123] Arles. He was born of noble parents in the year 401, and was a relative of Honoratus, abbot of Lerins. Honoratus left his retirement to seek his kinsman Hilary and draw him to embrace the monastic life; but all his persuasion was at first in vain. “What floods of tears,” says Hilary, “did this true friend shed to soften my hard heart! How often did he embrace me with the most tender and compassionate affection, to wring from me a resolve that I would consider the salvation of my soul. Yet I resisted.”

“Well, then,” said Honoratus, “I will obtain from God what you refuse.” And he left him. Three days later Hilary had changed his mind, and went to Lerins to place himself under the discipline of Honoratus. In 428 S. Hilary was elected Archbishop of Arles. He was a man of a very impetuous and wilful character, and got sadly embroiled with Pope Leo the Great, whom he defied on behalf of the liberties of the Gallican Church, speaking out to him, as his contemporary biographer asserts, “words that no layman would dare to utter, no ecclesiastic would endure to hear.” He had after this to escape from Rome, where assassination was to be feared—by knife or poison—and hurried back to Arles. Leo retorted by writing a letter to the bishops of the province of Vienne denouncing the audacity of Hilary in daring to set himself up against his authority, and releasing them from all allegiance to the see of Arles.

Soon after this a fresh quarrel broke out. A bishop Projectus complained that when he was ill, Hilary had rushed into his diocese without inquiring whether he were yet dead, and without calling on the clergy and people to elect a successor, had consecrated another[124] bishop in his room. This was the best possible medicine for Projectus. He tumbled out of bed, pulled on his clothes, and in a screaming rage wrote a letter to the Pope. Thereupon Leo wrote sharply to Hilary to bid him mind his own business in future, and not meddle out of his diocese. And then the Pope wrung from the feeble Emperor Valentinian an edict denouncing the contumacy of Hilary against the apostolic throne, and requiring him and all the bishops of Gaul to submit as docile children to the bishop of the Eternal City. Hilary died in 449, comparatively young.

Sieyès was born at Fréjus in 1748, and was trained for orders at S. Sulpice. In 1788 he was sent as member for the clerical order to the Provincial Assembly at Orléans. He saw what was the trend of opinion and what must inevitably happen, and he wrote his trenchant pamphlets, Essai sur les Privilèges and Qu’est-ce que le tiers-état, 1789, that acted as firebrands through France. He was elected by Paris as representative at the General Assembly that met at Versailles. There, looking at the nobles in their sumptuous attire, the curés in their soutannes, and the representatives of the Third Estate in their humble cloth, he said, “One people!—We are three nations,” and he it was who, on July 20th, on entering the Assembly, exclaimed, “It is time now to cut the cords,” and sent an imperious message to the other two Houses to enter and sit along with the Tiers État.

He strove hard against the abolition of tithe without some compensation to the clergy, but was overborne. The general feeling was against this. As he saw that anarchy was resulting from the conduct of the Assembly he withdrew from taking any further active part; but[125] he was elected by the Department of Sarthe to sit as deputy in the Convention.

At the trial of Louis XIV. he voted for his death—“La mort—sans phrases.” When in 1798 he was commissioned by the Directory as Ambassador to Berlin, he sent an invitation to a German prince to dine with him. The prince wrote across it, “Non—sans phrases.” He was elected into the Council of the Five Hundred. At this time it was that the half-crazy fanatical Cordelier Poule attempted to shoot him. Sieyès struck the pistol aside, but was wounded in the hand and shoulder. Poule was sentenced for this for twenty years to the galleys, and died on them. Sieyès was a member of the Directory. He was a great man for drawing up schemes for a Constitution. The Directory had lost all credit; France was sick of its constituent Assemblies, Legislative Assemblies, Conventions, and Directory. This latter, at one moment feeble, at the next violent, seemed to be able to govern only by successive coups d’état, always a token of weakness. It had brought France to the verge of bankruptcy. In its foreign policy it had committed gross imprudences, and now a new coalition had been formed against France, and the armies had met with reverses in Italy and Germany. At this juncture Napoleon landed at S. Raphael. As he travelled to Paris he was everywhere greeted with enthusiasm as the expected saviour of the country. But on reaching Paris he behaved with caution; he seemed only to live for his sister, and for his wife, Josephine, and for his colleagues of the Institut. But he was watching events. Everyone was then conspiring; Sieyès in the Directory, Fouché and Talleyrand in the ministry, a hundred others in the Conseils,[126] Sieyès said, “What is wanting for France is a head,” tapping his own brow, “and a sword,” looking significantly at Napoleon. He was to learn very soon that head and sword would go together.

The 18th Brumaire was contrived by Sieyès; but he was in his coach, outside S. Cloud, when Napoleon entered to dissolve the Council of the Five Hundred. In face of the tumult within Bonaparte lost his confidence and was thrust forth by the Deputies. He found Sieyès in his carriage, to which were harnessed six horses, ready to start at full gallop should the coup fail. “Do they seek to outlaw you?” asked Sieyès. “Man, outlaw them yourself.” Napoleon recovered himself and re-entered the hall at the head of his soldiery. The situation was saved.

Bonaparte, Sieyès, and Roger-Ducros were nominated Consuls. The Revolution had abdicated into the hands of the military. That same evening Sieyès said to his intimates, “We have given ourselves a master.”

Afterwards, Bonaparte, as first Consul, took him into the Senate, and granted to him the domains of Crosne. Later, it was said—

“Bonaparte à Sieyès a fait présent de Crosne,
Sieyès à Bonaparte a fait présent de trône.”

Under the empire Sieyès was created a count.

During the Hundred Days, Sieyès took his place in the Chamber of Peers, but at the second restoration he was banished as one of the regicides. He went to Brussels, but after the Revolution of 1830 returned to Paris, where he died in 1836.

To finish with one more worthy, of a character very different from the rest: Marc Antoine Désaugiers. Born[127] at Féjus in 1772, he died in 1827. He was the soul of the Caveau Moderne.

The old Caveau had been founded by Piron, Collé, and others. They met twice a month at the wine-shop of Landelle, where they produced songs, stories, and epigrams they had composed, dined and drank together. This réunion began in 1737, and lasted over ten years.

After the 9th Thermidor, and the fall of Robespierre, the Terror was at an end. Men began to breathe freely, lift up their heads, and look about for amusements to indemnify themselves for the reign of horrors they had passed through. Then some choice spirits renewed the reminiscences of the old Caveau, and met near the Theatre of the Vaudeville, opened in 1792. The songs that were sung, the stories there told, flew about. The public desired to share in the merriment, and in Vendémiaire of the year V. (September, 1796) appeared the first number of the Caveau Moderne. The tavern at which the company met was “Le Rocher de Cancalle.” A complete edition of the songs was published in 1807. The tunes to which the songs were set were either well-known folk-melodies, or opera-house airs.

Désaugiers was a large contributor.

As a specimen of his style I give some stanzas of his “Carnaval.”

“Momus agite ses grelots,
Comus allume ses fourneaux,
Bacchus s’enivre sur sa tonne,

Palas déraisonne, Apollon détonne,

Trouble divin, bruit infernal—
V’là c’que c’est que l’Carnaval.


“Un char pompeusement orné
Présente à notre œil étonné
Quinze poissardes qu’avec peine

Une rosse traine: Jupiter les mène;

Un Cul-de-jatte est à cheval;
V’là c’que c’est que l’Carnaval.

“Arlequin courtise Junon,
Columbine poursuit Pluton,
Mars Madame Angot qu’il embrasse,

Crispin une Grace, Venus un Paillasse;

Ciel, terre, enfers, tout est égal;
V’là c’que c’est que l’Carnaval.

“Mercure veut rosser Jeannot,
On crie à la garde aussitôt;
Et chacun voit de l’aventure

Le pauvre Mercure à la préfecture,

Couché,—sur un procès verbal;
V’là c’que c’est que l’Carnaval.

“Profitant aussi des jours gras,
Le traiteur déguise ses plats,
Nous offre vinaigre en bouteille,

Ragoût de la vieille, Daube encore plus vieille:

Nous payons bien, nous soupons mal;
V’là c’que c’est que l’Carnaval.

“Carosses pleins sont par milliers
Regorgeant dans tous les quartiers;
Dedans, dessus, devout, dernière,

Jusqu’à la portière, quelle fourmilière!

Des fous on croit voire l’hôpital;
V’là c’que c’est que l’Carnaval.

“Quand on a bien ri, bien couru,
Bien chanté, bien mangé et bu,
Mars d’un frippier reprend l’enseigne,

Pluton son empeigne, Jupiter son peigne:

Tout rentre en place; et, bien ou mal,
V’là c’que c’est que l’Carnaval.”


Désaugiers was one day invited to preside at the annual dinner of the pork butchers. After the table was cleared he rose, and all expected the oration or song of the evening. Looking round with a twinkle in his eye, he began—

“Des Cochons, des Cochons.”

The pork butchers bridled up, grew red with wrath, thinking that this was intended as an insult, when Désaugiers proceeded with his song—

“Décochons les traits de la satire.”

A French author has said of him:—

“Désaugiers is song personified;—all gaiety, fun, laughter. He has in him something of the spirit of Rabelais. His inherent wit breaks out like the effervescence of champagne. Thought and rhyme are born in him along with song. Every refrain in his compositions is full of joyous sparkle.”



The Department of Var—A lifeless town—Dolmen—S. Armentarius kills a dragon—The old walled town—The Fronde—The Sabreurs and the Canifets—Les Tourettes—Joanna I. of Naples; her story—The Crown of Jerusalem—Charles I. of Anjou—Death of Conradin—Murder of Andrew of Hungary—Philippine Cabane—Louis of Hungary invades Naples—Joanna buys a sentence clearing her of guilt by the sale of Avignon—Joanna’s many sales—Again declared innocent—Charles of Durazzo—Urban VI. and Clement VII.—Urban incites Charles against Joanna; her assassination; her character—Butello—Death of Charles—Joanna II. makes Réné her heir—Pedigree—Joanna and Caracciolo.

DRAGUIGNAN is the capital of the Department of Var. The name of the department is a misnomer. It received the name when the department extended to that river, formerly the boundary of France. But when, in 1860, Nice was ceded to France and the department of the Maritime Alps was formed, then a slice of territory, through which flowed the River Var, was detached and united to the newly constituted department. The consequence is that the River Var at no point runs through the department to which it gave its name.

Draguignan is not an interesting town. It lives on its character as departmental capital. It has no manufactures, no trade, no life save that which is infused into[131] it when the young folk come up there for examination for professions, and from the military who are quartered there, and from the prisons which accommodate the criminals of the department. Draguignan is supposed to have been a Greek town called Antea. But there must have been people living here in prehistoric times, for near the town is a dolmen as fine as any in Brittany or Wales. It is composed of four upright stones supporting a quoit eighteen feet long and fifteen wide, and the height above the ground is seven feet.

In the Middle Ages the place was called Drachœnum, and it was fabled that the old town stood on the heights above, as the plain was ravaged by a dragon. St. Armentarius, Bishop of Antibes (A.D. 451) slew the monster, whereupon the people came down from the heights and settled where is the present town. The town really began to flourish in the thirteenth century, when, owing to the silting up of the port of Fréjus, that city declined in prosperity. Then it was surrounded by a wall pierced by three gates, of which two remain. Within the old walls the streets are scarce six feet wide, and the houses run up to a great height. The sun never penetrates to their pavement. The town was also defended by a castle on rising ground. In 1535 Draguignan was one of the principal Sénéchaussées of Provence. She rapidly spread beyond the walls, and then a second circuit of walls was erected where is now the boulevard; but portions of the ramparts to the east and north-east still remain.

In 1650 Draguignan was the scene of bloody fights on account of the troubles of the Fronde. During the minority of Louis XIV., the Regent, Anne of Austria, committed all authority to Cardinal Mazarin. He[132] loaded the country with taxes, took away the privileges from the towns, and from the nobles, and strove to centralise the Government and establish the despotism of the Crown. This roused the fiercest opposition, and the country was divided into factions; one for the Court and centralization, the other for the maintenance of local self-government. This latter party was the Fronde. In Draguignan some Frondists attempted to get hold of the castle; the people rose, armed with spits and clubs, and drove them away. The parties distinguished themselves by wearing ribbons, white or blue.

Two years later civil war broke out again between the Sabreurs, the Fronde party, and the Canifets, the favourers of Royal prerogative; each was headed by a young peasantess armed with a scythe. Frightful violence ensued. The mayor and many officers of the town were killed. Men, women, and children were massacred indiscriminately as this or that faction got the upper hand.

The king sent troops to Draguignan, and ordered the demolition of the castle, which was the bone of contention between the parties, and most of the Sabreurs fled into Piedmont. The story goes that a cavalry regiment called La Cornette blanche was quartered in the town, and having behaved with great insolence, the people rose in the night and massacred every man in the regiment, But in the municipal records there is nothing to be found to confirm the tradition.

Les Tourettes by Fayence, easily accessible from Draguignan, is a most extraordinary pile, like no other castle known. In the time of the religious wars it was held by the Carcists, and they, being short of provisions, at night raided the neighbourhood. The people of[133] Fayence complained to the Governor of Provence, and he authorised them to take what measures they liked to free themselves of the inconvenience. Accordingly they sent for a cannon from Antibes and proceeded to batter the castle down; and by keeping up an incessant fire they made the castle too hot for the Carcists, who fled, and then the good folk of Fayence proceeded to gut and unroof the castle, so as to save themselves from further annoyance from that quarter.

Draguignan was supplied with water by a canal cut, so it is asserted, by Queen Jeanne I. of Sicily, and she is also credited with having built the church at Salernes at the confluence of the Bresgne and the Brague, and to have resided at Draguignan.

It is remarkable that only two names of their former rulers have any hold on the imagination and hearts of the Provençals of to-day, and these the names of two totally different characters—la reino Jeanno and good King Réné. It was through Queen Joanna or Jeanne of Sicily that King Réné acquired his empty royal titles. At Grasse a flight of stone steps built into a vaulted passage is all that remains of her palace. Houses said to have been occupied by her are pointed out in many places, but in some instances, as in that of the pretty Renaissance palace of Queen Jeanne at Les Baux, there is confusion made between her and Jeanne de Laval, the wife of King Réné.

It may be asked, How in the name of Wonder did Joanna obtain the title of Queen of Jerusalem, so as to transmit the Crown of the Holy City to Réné through her grandniece, Joanna II.?

The bitter and implacable hostility borne by the Popes to the German Imperial House of Hohenstauffen[134] led Urban IV. to invite S. Louis, King of France, to assume the title of King of Sicily and Naples. But the delicate conscience of Louis revolted from such an usurpation. If the Crown were hereditary, it belonged to Conradin, grandson of Frederick II., the Great Redbeard, Emperor, King of Germany and of Sicily. But Charles of Anjou, the brother of S. Louis, was less scrupulous. He accepted the invitation. On the death of Urban, Clement IV. pursued the same policy. Manfred, the uncle of Conradin, then wore the Crown of the Sicilies. He was defeated by Charles and fell in battle, 1266, before the army of the Pope and of Charles of Anjou, marching as crusaders. Manfred left an only child, Constance, married to Peter III., King of Aragon. Conradin, at the head of an army, advanced to claim the Crown that was now his by right, regardless of the excommunication and curses hurled at him by the Pope. He was defeated and taken prisoner. Clement, fearful lest Charles should deal leniently towards the last of the Hohenstaufens, wrote to urge him to smother all feelings of pity.

“The life of Conradin,” he wrote, “is the death of Charles; the death of Conradin is the life of Charles”; and the Anjou prince had the last male of this noble race executed publicly. As Conradin stood on the scaffold, he flung his glove among the people, crying out that he constituted the King of Aragon his heir.

Charles was now King of the Two Sicilies. But he was ambitious of a more splendid title, and he bought that of Jerusalem from Mary of Antioch, daughter of Bohimund V., who inherited the title of King of Jerusalem from his mother, Melusina, daughter of Amaury de Lusignan, twelfth sovereign of the Christian[135] kingdom of Jerusalem. But Jerusalem itself had fallen into the hands of the Saracens in 1244.

To return now to Jeanne de Naples.

Joanna I. of Naples was born in 1327, and was the daughter of Charles, Duke of Calabria, and of Marie de Valois, his second wife. Charles was the only son of Robert the Good, King of Naples, who was the grandson of Charles of Anjou, brother of S. Louis, to whom had been given the Crown of Naples by Pope Urban IV., determined at any cost to destroy the Hohenstauffen dynasty.

Charles, Duke of Calabria, died before his father, and Joanna succeeded to the throne at the age of sixteen.

She had been badly brought up. Philippine Cabane, a washerwoman, wife of a fisherman, had been nurse to Charles, and she became later the nurse and confidante of Joanna. She was a very beautiful and a thoroughly unprincipled woman. On the death of her husband she married a young Saracen slave in the service of Raymond de Cabane, maître d’hôtel to the King. Raymond fell under the influence of this Saracen, and he introduced him to King Robert, who created him Grand Seneschal, to the indignation of the Sicilian nobility, and himself armed the Saracen knight.[9] Soon after marrying this man, we find “la Cabanaise,” as she was called, installed as lady of honour to Catherine of Austria, first wife of Charles of Calabria. Soon she induced Raymond to adopt her husband, and to give him his title and bequeath his fortune to him. Catherine of Austria died, and then Charles married Marie de Valois; and when[136] Jeanne or Joanna was born, Charles entrusted his child to this infamous woman.

King Robert had been younger brother of Charles Martel, King of Hungary, and the Crown of Naples was liable to be disputed between the branches. It was therefore deemed advisable to marry Joanna to Andrew, son of Caroly I., and grandson of Charles Martel, King of Hungary.

Joanna and Andrew were married when mere children—she, in fact, was only seven when affianced to him. She and Andrew never liked each other, and when they occupied one throne, dislike ripened into aversion; two factions rent the Court with their rivalries, one favoured by the King, the other by the Queen. At last Philippine Cabane induced Joanna to acquiesce in a plot to murder Andrew. One evening in September, 1345, when the Court was at Averso, the chamberlain of the King entered the bedroom, where were Andrew and Joanna, and announced to him that he had despatches of importance to communicate. Andrew rose from bed and went into the adjoining apartment, where he was set upon, and hung from the bars of the window with a rope into which gold thread had been twisted by the hands of Joanna, for as Andrew was a king, “Let him be strangled royally,” she had said.

The body of Andrew was left hanging from the window for two days. Joanna at the time was aged eighteen, but she was utterly corrupt in mind. At quite an early age she had had a liaison with the son of la Cabanaise. Pope Clement VI. deemed it incumbent on him as suzerain to order the murderers to be punished; but only accessories suffered. Philippine was tortured and died under torture. Her son, Robert de[137] Cabane, was also made to suffer in like manner; but a wad was put in his mouth to prevent him from betraying the part the Queen had in the murder, and those publicly executed were also so gagged that they might not reveal her complicity in the crime.

In less than two years after, on August 20th, 1347, Joanna married Louis of Tarentum, her cousin, who had been one of the prime investigators of the murder. But Louis, King of Hungary, was determined to avenge the death of his brother, and he marched an army against Naples, under a black flag, on which was embroidered a representation of the murder of Andrew.

Louis of Tarentum headed an army of Neapolitans against the invader, but it dispersed of itself, and Joanna fled with him to Provence in January, 1348, leaving behind her, in heartless indifference, her son, the child of the murdered Andrew.

On reaching Provence she found the barons there by no means disposed to receive her with cordiality. The atrocity of the crime revolted them, and for a whole year they held her in prison. She was arraigned before the world as an adulteress and a murderess.

At length, thanks to the intervention of Pope Clement VI., she was allowed to take refuge in Avignon, where she arranged terms with Clement, that he should declare her innocent and sanction her marriage with her cousin, in exchange for which favour she was to make over to him, for a nominal sum, the city of Avignon without the Venaissin previously acquired. The stipulated sum was 80,000 gold florins, amounting to about £128,000 in modern money. The sale was in direct contravention to the terms of the will of King Robert, who constituted her heiress with the proviso that she was not to dissipate[138] the Crown lands and rights in the Two Sicilies and in Provence. It was further a breach of a solemn oath she had taken to the barons “that she would never alienate or wrong her royal and loyal estates of Provence.” But Joanna was in need of money to prosecute the war against Louis of Hungary. For this purpose she sold rights and domains wherever she could find a purchaser. She disposed of the forests of the Montagnes des Maures to the town of Hyères, and the fishing in the lake of Hyères as well. The rights of the Crown to the harvest of the kermes or cochineal insect that lived on the oaks, were also sold. Parts of the Estérel were alienated. Marseilles and other towns bought of her valuable privileges.

Meanwhile, Louis of Hungary had lost much of his army about Naples, swept off by plague. He himself returned to Hungary, carrying with him the son of Joanna, born two months after the death of Andrew, deserted by her at Naples; the child, however, died soon after. Joanna, whitewashed by the Pope, returned to Naples in 1348, in August, whereupon Louis again appeared in Italy at the head of an army, but met with small success, and a truce was arranged; whereupon Joanna returned to Avignon, there to have her guilt or innocence formally tried before three cardinals nominated by the Pope.

Louis accused Joanna of being more than accessory to the murder of her husband, and Louis of Tarentum of being an instigator of the crime, and Cardinal Talleyrand Perigord as having also been in the plot.

Joanna appeared before the Papal Commission. She pleaded guilty only to having disliked her husband, and claimed that this was due to witchcraft. She was[139] acquitted as innocent of all charges brought against her; and as the Pope was regarded as infallible judge, in morals as in matters of faith, the world was constrained to acquiesce in the judgment.

Joanna returned to Naples, where she held a gay, voluptuous court, frequented by the wits and artists of Italy. Boccaccio wrote for her his filthy tales, which he afterwards grouped together in the Decameron. Petrarch corresponded with her. Leonardo da Vinci painted her portrait; pupils of Giotto painted for her; Troubadours sang before her, and were fulsome in their praise.

But her rule was no rule at all. The country suffered from misgovernment. Companies of adventurers ravaged the kingdom, and carried their depredations to the very gates of Naples. Joanna cared for none of these things; did not give over her revelries and carnival entertainments. Her husband Louis was offended at her shameless gallantries, and beat her with his fists. He died in May, 1362; and she at once offered her hand to James of the House of Aragon, claimant to the throne of Majorca, a young and chivalrous prince. He accepted, and they were married in 1363; but she would not allow him any further title than that of Duke of Calabria.

He was disgusted with the frivolity of her Court, and with her conduct, and fearing lest the same fate should befall him that had come on her first husband Andrew, he quitted Naples and fled to Spain. James of Aragon died, and in 1376 Joanna married Otto of Brunswick. This fourth marriage offended Charles of Durazzo, grandson of John de Gravia, younger brother of Robert, King of the Two Sicilies, who calculated on succeeding to the[140] throne and the county of Provence should Joanna die childless. His father Louis had been poisoned by Queen Joanna. Now ensued the great schism.

For seventy years the papal court had been at Avignon, and the Romans were sore that the money accruing from the influx of pilgrims, litigants, and suitors to the Pope should flow into the pockets of the Avignonese instead of their own. Gregory IX. had come to Rome, urged thereto by S. Catherine of Siena; and there he died in 1378. Thereupon the Romans, armed and furious, surrounded the conclave of the Cardinals, shouting for a Roman Pope. At the time there were in Rome sixteen Cardinals; eleven were French, four Italian, and one Spanish. Intimidated by the menaces of the populace, quaking for their lives, the Cardinals elected the Archbishop of Bari, a narrow-minded man, of low birth, coarse manners, no tact, and, as proved eventually, of remorseless cruelty. He showed at once of what stuff he was made by insulting the Cardinals, and by threats of swamping the college with Italian creations. The Cardinals fled to Anagni, where they issued a declaration that the election was void, as it had been made under compulsion, and that their lives had been threatened. However, the newly-elected Pope assumed the name of Urban VI. As Archbishop of Bari he had been the subject of Joanna, and she hailed his elevation, and sent him shiploads of fruit and wines, and the more solid gift of 20,000 florins. Her husband, Otho of Brunswick, went to Rome to pay his personal homage. But his reception was cold and repellent, and he retired in disgust.

Only four Cardinals adhered to Pope Urban. The Cardinals at Anagni proceeded to elect Robert, Bishop[141] of Geneva, to the papal throne, and he assumed the title of Clement VII.

Joanna had sent a deputation to Urban, headed by her grand chancellor, Spinelli. In public, Urban treated the deputation with a torrent of abuse, saying that he would eject the queen from her throne, and shut her up in a cloister; aye, and would put in her place a man capable of governing well. Spinelli replied that the people were content with their legitimate sovereign; that she was not fit for a cloister; and that if force were used she would find arms ready to defend her.

Urban had thrown down the gauntlet. Joanna, furious at the insult, at once acknowledged Clement as Pope.

At first the rival Popes hurled ecclesiastical thunders at each other; each denounced his rival as Antichrist, and each excommunicated his rival’s adherents. France, Spain, Scotland, the Two Sicilies, acknowledged Clement; Germany, Hungary, and England, and the major part of Italy, recognised Urban.

All the fury of this latter was now turned against Joanna, and he sent a deputation to Hungary to incite Charles of Durazzo to take up arms against her. Charles was not willing to do so. He knew that now Joanna was an old woman, and most unlikely to have children, and that in a few years inevitably the crown would fall to him.

But at this juncture, Joanna made a fatal mistake. Hearing of what the Pope had done, and supposing that Charles would at once comply with his urgency, she declared that she disinherited Charles, and bequeathed all her rights to the Two Sicilies and to Provence to Louis of Anjou, second son of King John of France.

Thereupon Charles hesitated no longer. He raised[142] an army in Hungary, and prepared to invade Neapolitan territories. Pope Urban hired the services of a ruffian captain of a Free Company, Alberic Barbiano, to assist. Urban was not, however, prepared to support Charles without getting some advantage out of him, and he bargained with him that the Principality of Capua should be given to his nephew, Butillo Prignano. When Charles arrived in Rome, Urban decreed the deposition of Joanna, and invested Charles with the sovereignty, and himself crowned him. In the meantime Urban was busy in forming a party in Naples against the Queen, to whom Clement had fled. Among the twenty-six Cardinals whom he created in one day were several Neapolitans of the highest families and dignities in the kingdom. He degraded the Archbishop of Naples, and appointed in his room Bozzato, a man of influence and of powerful connexions in the city. By this means he secured a faction in Naples, opposed to Joanna and to her Pope. The new Archbishop set himself at the head of the opposition. Clement was so alarmed for his safety that he embarked, escaped to Provence, and retreated to Avignon.

The Hungarian and Papal forces marched into the kingdom of Naples, and met with no organised resistance. Joanna was besieged in the Castel Nuovo, and Otho of Brunswick was captured in a sortie. Joanna in vain awaited help from the Duke of Anjou, and was forced by famine to surrender. She was confined in Muro, and at first was well treated, as Charles hoped that she would revoke her will in his favour. But when he saw that she was resolved not to do this, he sent to ask the King of Hungary what was to be done with her. The answer was that the same measure was to be meted[143] out to her that had been measured to Andrew; and she was either strangled whilst at her prayers, or smothered under a feather bed, on May 12th, 1382.

She was buried first at Muro, and then her body was transferred to Naples.

Opinions were divided as to her character. Angelo de Perugia qualified her as “santissima,” and spoke of her as “l’onore del mundo, la luce dell’Italia”; Petrarch greatly admired her; and recently, Mistral has composed a poem in which she is painted as a blameless and misrepresented personage. Her sister Maria was almost as bad as herself. She also had her husband, Robert des Baux, murdered. It is true that she had been married to him against her will. When she got the power in her hands she flung him into prison, and, entering the dungeon, along with four armed men, had him assassinated before her eyes, and the body cast out of a window and left without burial, till Joanna heard of her sister’s action, when she sent and had the body decently interred.[10]

After that Joanna had been put to death, Marie, natural daughter of Robert of Naples, and aunt of Joanna, was tried and executed as having been privy to the plot to murder Andrew. This Marie had carried on an intrigue with Boccaccio, and is believed to be the Fiammetta of the Decameron; but according to others, Fiammetta was intended for Joanna herself.

The Pope’s nephew, who was to be invested with the[144] Principality of Capua as the price of Urban’s assistance, soon after this broke into a convent and ravished a nun of high birth and great beauty. Complaints were made to the Pope. He laughed it off as a venial outburst of youth; but Butillo was forty years old. The new king’s justice would not, however, endure the crime. A capital sentence was passed on Butillo. Pope Urban annulled the sentence, and Butillo was, if not rewarded, bought off by being given a wife, the daughter of the justiciary, and of the king’s kindred, with a dowry of 70,000 florins a year, and a noble castle at Nocera. Thus satisfied, Urban excommunicated Louis of Anjou, declared him accursed, preached a crusade against him, and offered plenary indulgence to all who should take up arms against him.

The War of Inheritance ensued after the death of Joanna, devastating alike Naples and Provence.

Charles of Durazzo, whom Urban had crowned, had married his cousin Margaret, daughter of his uncle Charles, who had been executed in 1348 by Louis of Hungary, for having counselled the murder of his cousin Andrew. The father of Charles had been, as already intimated, poisoned by Joanna. Louis, King of Hungary, died in 1382; whereupon Charles claimed that kingdom, but was taken by Elizabeth, widow of Louis, thrown into prison, and murdered there by her orders. Charles left a son, Ladislas, and a daughter, Joanna. Ladislas was poisoned in 1414, as was supposed, and then Joanna II. became Queen of the Two Sicilies. Although twice married, she had no family, and she adopted Réné of Anjou and Provence as her heir, and died in 1435.

The whole pedigree is such a tangle, and the place of[145] each actor in the historic drama so difficult to fix without having a genealogical table before the eye, that I have appended one, omitting all such entries as do not specially concern the story. I may merely add that Joanna’s second husband was her cousin, descended from Philip of Tarentum, brother of her grandfather, Robert of the Sicilies. Also, that the county of Provence descended to Joanna I. and Joanna II., through their common ancestor, Charles II. of Anjou, son of Charles I. and Beatrix, the heiress of that county. About her I shall have something to say later on.

Joanna II. was not much better as a woman than Joanna I. She was enamoured of her handsome seneschal, Gian Caracciolo, who did not respond to her advances. One day she inquired of her courtiers what animal each mainly disliked. One said a toad, another a spider: Caracciolo declared his utter loathing for a rat.

Next day, when he was on his way to his room, he met a servant of the Queen with a cage full of rats. As he was attempting to pass by, the domestic opened the cage door, and out rushed the rats. Caracciolo fled, and, trying every door in the passage, found all locked save one, that into the Queen’s apartment. She created him Duke of Avellino and Lord of Capua. One day, in 1432, relying on the favour he enjoyed, he asked to be created Prince of Capua. When she refused, he boxed her ears. This was an outrage she could not forgive, and by her orders he was assassinated in his room.[11] The Queen died two years later.


“Jeanne II.,” says Alexis de Saint Priest, “fit assoir tous les vices sur le trône des Angevins sans la compensation d’aucun talent, ni d’aucune vertu.” Joanna I. had some cleverness, and in that, and in that alone, was superior to the second Joanna.




The porphyry mountains—Geology and botany—The Suelteri—Charles V. sets fire to the forests—Revenge—The tower of Muy—The seven gentlemen—Attempt to shoot Charles—Failure—The Estérel formerly a haunt of brigands—Gaspard de Besse—Saussure and Millin—Agay—The Roman quarries—Cap Roux—La Sainte Baume—S. Honoratus—Various places of winter resort in the Estérel.

A TRAVELLER must be very blasé or very obtuse who is not spellbound by the exceptional beauty of the Estérel. This mountain mass, like the Chaine des Maures, is an interruption of the continuity of the limestone of the coast. It consists of a tremendous upheaval of red porphyry. Unlike the Maures, with its schists and granite, the porphyry assumes the boldest and most fantastic shapes, and the gorgeousness of its colouring defies description. These flame-red crags shooting out of a sea the colour of a peacock’s neck, or out of dense woods of pine, afford pictures where form and colouring are alike of sovereign beauty. It is a region unique in Europe, extending something like twelve English miles from east to west, and as much from north to south. The medium height of its summits is 1,500 to 1,800 feet, so that the elevation is not great, but it is cleft by valleys that abound in scenes of the finest order of picturesqueness. Here and there the granite and gneiss appear; elsewhere serpentine,[148] trap, basalt, and blue quartzite porphyry. Beside this is the new red sandstone and the Bunter sandstone. Variety of soil gives variety of vegetation; plantations of mimosa, not over a quarter of a century old, thrive on the primitive rocks, and are mixed with cork trees, umbrella pines, oaks, bushes of cistus, laurestinas, myrtle, rosemary, heath, broom, and in the spring gleam the white spears of the asphodel. It is a district in which geologist, botanist, and artist will revel alike.

“The group of the Estérel,” says Lenthéric, “differs in form, in colour, in origin, from all the littoral mountains of the Provençal coast. It is entirely composed of primitive eruptive rocks; its highest summits may not reach above 1,800 feet; but all its ridges are pointed, and of a redness of fire. The crests of the mountains are bald and savage. The cliffs are abrupt, torn into projecting and retreating angles, and form on the sea-face an inaccessible fortification, defended by an archipelago of islets and reefs of almost polished porphyry, over which the waves have broken during many centuries without having been able to produce upon them any appreciable marks of geological erosion. The outline, the denticulation, the anfractuosities of the shore, the fiords and the rocky caverns into which the sea plunges, are little different to-day from what they were at the opening of historic times, even, one may say, at the beginning of our own geologic period.”[12]

This wild and wondrous region was occupied by a Ligurian tribe of Suelteri, who have left their name, much corrupted, to the district. The Romans found it difficult to conquer them, but they carried the Aurelian Road along the coast, where runs now the New Corniche Way.


When Charles V. penetrated into Provence, with intention to annex it, and Francis I. retreated before him, he was so harassed by the natives of the Estérel swooping down on his convoys and capturing them, or cutting to pieces detached regiments, that he set the forests on fire, and for a week or ten days flames raged about the ruddy cliffs, making them look as if they had been heated red hot, and either burning the gallant defenders or driving them in desperation to break forth from this vast raging kiln to fall on the pikes of his men-at-arms.

Men, women, children, cattle, all perished in this horrible pyre; and when the conflagration died out for lack of fuel, nothing was left but the ashes of the burnt forest, mixed with the calcined bones of those who had perished in it, above which stood the gaunt red spires of rock, like petrified flames. Such conduct provoked reprisals, and not a soldier of the invaders was spared who fell into the hands of the exasperated Provençals.

At the little village of Le Muy stood, and stands still, a solitary tower by the side of the road, along which the Emperor was marching. It was old and in decay, a ruin in the midst of ruins; and so little did it excite suspicion that the Imperialists did not trouble to examine it.

But five gentlemen, witnesses of the atrocities committed by Charles V., bound themselves to revenge them. Accompanied by fifteen soldiers and about thirty peasants well armed, all as devoted and intrepid as themselves, they shut themselves into the old tower. There each planted his arquebus in a loophole or a crack in the walls, resolved to shoot down the Emperor as he passed. Clouds of dust announced the approach[150] of the hostile army. None of the devoted men knew Charles by sight, but they hoped to recognize him by the superior splendour of his armour, and the state that surrounded him. But one of the first to go by, in gorgeous panoply, was the Spaniard Garcia Luzzio, mounted on a noble courser, and accompanied by picked soldiers. Thinking that this must be the Emperor, the Provençal gentlemen poured upon the Spaniard a hail of bullets, and he fell from his horse, dead.

Such an unexpected assault staggered the soldiers of Luzzio for a moment. But they speedily rallied and rushed to the tower bravely to revenge the death of their leader. The Provençals replied by a fresh discharge, which overthrew several of the soldiers. Knowing that they must expect death, they were resolved to sell their lives dearly; and they were able to kill a number of their assailants when they came on, without order and discipline.

To sacrifice as few as possible, the officers ordered the soldiers to withdraw and await the commands of the Emperor. Charles V. came up and had cannon levelled at the tower, and the gallant defenders either perished in its ruins, or fell into the hands of the Imperialists, who hung them from the trees round about.

In time the Estérel was again clothed in forest, and then became the haunt of all the outlaws and gaol-birds who had broken loose. These were organised into a body by one Gaspard de Besse, the Robin Hood of the district. He with his band became the terror of Provence, waylaying merchants on the high roads, and retreating to various caves still shown in several places, after having plundered unfortunate travellers. When pursuit was hottest, he escaped to the Estérel.[151] Several murders that he had committed were the occasion of a price being put on his head, and he was eventually captured and broken on the wheel at Aix in 1776. He is the hero of a charming story by Mme. Charles Reybaud, published in 1859, but now out of print and very scarce. A drama called L’Auberge des Adrets had its scene laid in the Estérel, in 1823.

In 1787 the celebrated Saussure visited the Estérel as geologist and botanist; but his enthusiasm for the semi-tropical flora he met with in his excursions was somewhat tempered by uneasiness about his safety. He says:—

“The main road is entirely exposed, and is dominated by salient rocks, on which the brigands plant their sentinels. They suffer travellers to advance to some open space between these points of vantage. Then, from their ambushes in the woods, they swoop down on them and plunder them, whilst the sentinels keep a good look-out, lest the guards should come and surprise them. In the event of any of these appearing, a whistle suffices to warn the robbers, and they dive out of sight into the forest. It is absolutely impossible to reach them. Not only is the undergrowth very dense, but it is encumbered with huge blocks of stone. There are neither by-roads nor paths; and unless one knows the intricacies of the woods as well as do the brigands themselves, no one can penetrate into them, except very slowly. The forest extends to the sea, and the whole district, entirely uncultivated, is a place of refuge for the convicts who have escaped from the galleys of Toulon, the nursery of all the robbers of the country.”

Millin, who wrote in 1807, says:—

“In general it is not possible to rely on the peasants in this region. If you ask of them your way, they will either not answer you at all or will misdirect you. Be careful that[152] nothing is wrong with your equipages, and your harness; for no assistance is to be met with there. If they see that you are in difficulties, they laugh; if that you are in danger, they pass by on the other side of the way. Should a parched traveller venture to pluck a bunch of grapes, it is well for him if this slight indiscretion does not bring on him blows of a cudgel, a stone, or a shot from the gun of the owner. The cries of the peasants are those of the tiger, and like the tiger is their vivacity and their fury. Quarrels lead to insults, and insults are met with a blow of a stick, a stone, or the stab of a knife, often enough mortal in its effects. He who has committed such a crime thinks nothing of its consequences, save how they may affect himself. He abandons his victim, or else puts him out of the way of deposing against him. He runs away. Watching for his prey either in the ravines of Ollioules or in the depths of the forests of the Estérel, he waylays the traveller. He begins as a robber, and speedily becomes an assassin by trade. This is how the brigands are recruited who infest the roads of Provence.”

Now all that is of the past. The French Tourists’ Club has made paths and roads in all directions, and the Estérel may be traversed even more safely than Regent Street.



The Estérel can be visited from Cannes or S. Raphael, but the real centre for excursions is Agay, an ideal nook for a winter resort. The Mornes Rougés, a hemicycle of heights, curves about the harbour, and cuts off every huffle of the Mistral. The Cap Dramont intercepts the winds from the west. It possesses good hotels, and if a visitor for the winter could tear himself away from the gaieties of Cannes, he would spend a month here with perfect comfort, in a warmer climate, and with any number of delightful excursions to be made from it. Agay and Anthéor are two settlements of artists, and any one who enjoys sketching can follow that pursuit in the open air in the Estérel throughout the winter. Among the many points of interest near Agay may be mentioned the Roman quarries of blue porphyry, les Caous. Of these there are three. It was for a long time supposed that the Romans transported the greyish-blue porphyry spotted with white, found in their structures at Fréjus and Orange from Egypt, till these quarries were discovered. In them remain some shafts of columns twenty-two feet long, roughed out, but never completed. Grooves cut in the rock, and blocks dropped on the way down to the sea, point out the fact that the working of these quarries must have been abandoned abruptly. There were workshops hard by, and numerous remains of pottery and tools have been picked up. One of the quarries was utilised for columns, another for blocks and facing-slabs.

The Cap Roux, which stands forth as an advanced sentinel, with feet in the sea, and starts up 1,360 feet, with its red needles shooting aloft from the water, and pierced below with caverns, is consecrated to the memory of S. Honoratus, whose cave, La Sainte Baume, is in the lurid cliff. Numerous pilgrims were wont to visit it at one time, but now it is hardly frequented at all, save by tourists. There is a fashion in saints; and poor old Honoratus is now shouldered into the background, and thrust into the shade. But he is not a man who should be forgotten. His is one of the most lovable characters in the calendar. His life was written by his kinsman and disciple, the great Hilary of Arles, and it may be thoroughly relied on. He is also spoken of with much love by another pupil, S. Eucherius of Lyons. But there exists another Life, which is a tissue of fables,[154] and a late composition, utterly worthless, one “which,” says Baronius, the Church historian, “cannot be read without disgust, except by those possessed of iron stomachs, and wits cankered with the rust of ignorance.”

Honoratus was son of a Romano-Gaulish nobleman, living it is not certain where. When quite a young man he longed to embrace a solitary life, away from the distractions and pleasures of the corrupt society and the degenerate civilization of the time. His father, noticing the direction of the lad’s mind, charged his eldest son, Venantius, a gay and impetuous youth, to turn him from this purpose; but on the contrary, it was he who gained his brother; and the two young men left their home and wandered to the East. There, overcome by the hardships of the journey, Venantius, who was delicate, succumbed, and Honoratus buried him. Then he set his face westward, and on reaching Provence made the acquaintance of Leontius, Bishop of Fréjus, and opened to him his heart. Leontius advised him to test the sincerity of his purpose, and recommended him to find some solitary nook in the Estérel where he might spend time in preparation and prayer. Then Honoratus, wandering among the forests and the flaming red rocks, lighted on a cave on Cap Roux and made that his place of retreat. Later, being resolute in purpose, he departed, and, accompanied by a few others of like mind, crossed over to the Isle of Lerins and made that his abode. By degrees a little community formed there about him. Honoratus, whose fine face, as Eucherius says, was radiant with a sweet and attractive majesty, received a multitude of disciples of all nations, who flocked to him; and the island became the great centre[155] of learning and holiness for Gaul. He showed the utmost tenderness in the management of those who committed themselves to his guidance. He sought to penetrate to the depths of their hearts, to understand their troubles and difficulties. He neglected no effort to dispel every sadness, all painful recollection of the world. He watched their sleep, their health, their labours, that he might draw each to serve God according to the measure of his strength. Thus he inspired them with a love more than filial. “In him,” they said, “we find not only a father, but an entire family, a country, the whole world.” When he wrote to any of those who were absent, they were wont to say, on receiving a letter, written, according to the usage of the time, upon tablets of wax, “He has poured back honey into the wax, honey drawn from the inexhaustible sweetness of his heart.”

The monks, who had sought happiness by renouncing secular life, protested that they had found it on the Isle of Lerins, under the guidance of Honoratus.

But every now and then, overburdened with the care of a great community, Honoratus longed to be alone, to rest from these engrossing cares, and to spend his time in searching his own heart and communing with God.

He had a young kinsman, Hilary by name, of whom I have already spoken, living in the world. Honoratus sought him out in his old home and earnestly endeavoured to draw him to embrace the monastic life. But his persuasion failed. Hilary stubbornly refused. Before he left, Honoratus said, “Well, then, I will obtain from God what you now refuse me.” And he retreated, either to his cave in the Estérel or to his island of Lerins, to[156] pray for his relative. Three days after he was gone Hilary changed his mind. “On the one hand,” he says, I thought I saw God calling me; on the other the world seducing me. How often did I embrace, and then reject, will and then not will, the same thing. But in the end, Jesus Christ triumphed in me.” And going to the sea-coast he boated over to Lerins.

Honoratus was elected Bishop of Arles in 426, and died in the arms of Hilary, who succeeded him, in 429.

Who thinks of this saintly old man when in the bustling rue S. Honoré, in Paris, that is called after him?

There is no need for me to describe the marvels of rock scenery in Mal Infernet, the Ravin d’Uzel, the Rochers du Pigeonnier, or the many other sights of the Estérel, for there are two or three excellent little guide-books to this most fascinating region, easily obtainable at Cannes.

In addition to Agay, there are other comfortable places well furnished with hotels, where one may spend many pleasant days, as Théoule and Le Trayas. And as there is not only the New Corniche Road, but also the main line skirting the Estérel, it is easily accessible and easily abandoned should books run short and rain fall.




Advantages of situation—Fine scenery in neighbourhood—The foux—Manufactures—Romeo de Villeneuve—Charles of Anjou—In Sicily—The Sicilian Vespers—Death of Charles—The transfer of Episcopal Chair to Grasse from Antibes—Antoine Godeau—Cathedral—Cathedral of Vence—Western Choirs—Attempt to blow up the Bishop—The Hôtel Cabris—Louise de Cabris—The Mirabeaus—Cabris—Gabriel Honoré—André Boniface—The Gorges of the Loup—Gourdon—Mouans Sartoux—The Calvinist Seigneur—Pompée de Grasse—Susanne de Villeneuve—François de Théas Thorenc—Fragonard—Petty quarrels—The Flowers of Grasse.

GRASSE, once a great resort, during the winter, for visitors, has ceased to be that, unless it be out of curiosity. They run up by train from Cannes for a couple of hours and return by the next. The only foreign residents there for the winter season are such as have bought villas which they cannot dispose of. But Grasse possesses advantages not shared by Cannes. It is far better protected against cold winds, as it lies under the great limestone wall that supports the bare terrace before the Alps. But, built as it is on a steep slope, it is not a place where any one with a weak heart can live, unless content to live at his window. There is scarce a bit of level street in the place. The shops are naught and entertainments indifferent. But then—it is an admirable centre for a stay of a few weeks, for one[158] who desires to explore the magnificent scenery of the Loup, the curious country in the great loop made by the River Var, S. Vallier, and the upper waters of the Siagne; Vence also and S. Jeannet under its marvellous crag, full of crevasses and caves.

Grasse must always have been a place where men settled, from the earliest days, as there is a foux, a great outburst of purest water from the rock. The cave from which it rushes is now closed up, and the water is led to the place where the women wash clothes, and by pipes is conveyed about the town. There is, however, no evidence that the town was one in Greek or Roman times, and it first appears in history in 1154; but then it was a place of some consequence, and shortly after that it contracted alliances on an equal footing with the Pisans and the Genoese. Throughout the Middle Ages it throve on its manufactures of soap, its leather, its gloves, its refined oil and scents. It was a free and independent town, governing itself like the Italian communities, as a Republic, with its annually elected consuls; and when it submitted in 1227 to Raymond Berenger, Count of Provence, it made its own terms with him. Grasse attained to great prosperity under the celebrated seneschal Romeo de Villeneuve, a remarkable man, whose story may here be told.

Douce, the heiress of the Counts of Provence, married Raymond Berenger I., Count of Barcelona, who died in 1131. From him in direct line descended Raymond Berenger IV., whose most trusty servant was Romeo de Villeneuve. This man arrived at the court of the Count as a pilgrim, staff in hand and cockleshell in hat, coming from a visit to S. James of Compostello. Something attractive about the man drew the attention[159] of the Count, and he made of him his chief minister, High Constable of Provence, and treasurer. His strict integrity, his great prudence, and his justice, endeared him to the people as they did to his master. Through his instrumentality, Eleanor, the daughter of the Count, was married to Henry III. of England, and the niece of the Count to Richard, Duke of Cornwall. Nice had revolted against the Count, and Romeo reduced it to submission, and was appointed Governor of the town. Raymond Berenger had succeeded to his Countyship when the barons of Provence had asserted their independence and were warring against each other and harassing the towns. Romeo clipped their wings, and did all in his power to favour commerce and give prosperity to the towns. Without curtailing the splendour of his master’s court, he took care that there should be no extravagance there; and he gathered about it the ablest men of the time, poets and the learned.

This was the period when mortal war was being waged between Pope Gregory IX. and the Emperor Frederick II. The Emperor had been cursed and excommunicated, a holy war proclaimed against him. Gregory issued a summons to all the prelates of Europe for a General Council to be held in the Lateran palace, at Easter, in which he would pour out all his grievances against Frederick, and unite the whole church in pronouncing Anathema Maranatha against him. But the Emperor himself had appealed to a General Council against the Pope; one sitting in Rome, presided over by Gregory, was not the tribunal to which he would submit. The Count of Provence commissioned Romeo to go to Rome with a fleet conveying bishops and[160] cardinals to attend the Council. But Frederick had prepared a powerful fleet in Sicily and Apulia, under the command of his son, Enzio. Pisa joined him with all her galleys. The Genoese and Provençal fleet met that of the Emperor off the island of Meloria; the heavily laden Genoese and Provençal vessels were worsted after a sharp conflict; three galleys were sunk, twenty-two were taken. Some of the prelates went down in the sunken galleys; among the prisoners were three cardinals, four archbishops, and six bishops.

Cardinal Otho was in the fleet, returning to Rome with English plunder. He had been collecting enormous sums by exactions on the clergy and freewill offerings for the replenishing of the Papal treasury, and the prosecution of the holy war against Frederick. All this now fell into the hands of the Imperialists. Romeo was not taken prisoner; he fought with determined courage, and even captured one of the hostile vessels, and brought it back to Marseilles.

Raymond Berenger died in 1245; by his will he had confided the regency to Romeo, along with the guardianship of his daughters.

Romeo assembled the Provençal nobles and the representatives of the chief towns, and made them swear allegiance to Beatrix, the daughter of his old master, who had been constituted heiress of Provence.

Romeo succeeded in getting her married to Charles of Anjou, brother of Louis IX. This was done with wise purpose, but events proved—events over which Romeo had no control—that it was a disastrous mistake.

In his determination to root out the Hohenstauffen from Italy, Pope Clement IV. offered the crown of Naples and Sicily to this Charles. This was, as[161] Mr. Addington Symons well says, “the most pernicious of all the evils inflicted by the papal power on Italy and on Provence.” Then followed the French tyranny, under which Boniface VIII. expired at Anagni; Benedict XI. was poisoned at the instigation of Philip le Bel, and the Papal see was transferred to Avignon.

Provence was henceforth involved in the bloody wars of Italy; its wealth, its manhood, were drained away, its Count passed to Naples to keep there his Court as a King, to the neglect of good government at home.

Romeo underwent the fate of all honest and strong men. He had made himself enemies, who accused him to the prince of having enriched himself at the expense of the province.

Romeo produced his accounts before the prince, showing that he had not betrayed his trust to the value of a denier; and then, resuming his pilgrim’s habit, resumed also his wanderings. Finally he retired to the castle of Vence, where he died. His will was dated December 18th, 1250. Dante places him in Paradise:—

“Within the pearl, that now encloseth us
Shines Romeo’s light, whose goodly deeds and fair
Met ill receptance. But the Provençals,
That were his foes, have little cause for mirth.
Ill shapes that man his course, who makes his wrong
Of other’s worth. Four daughters were there born
To Raymond Berenger; and every one
Became a queen; and this for him did Romeo,
Though of mean state, and from a foreign land,
Yet envious tongues incited him to ask
A reckoning of that just one, who return’d
Twelve-fold to him for ten. Aged and poor
He parted thence; and if the world did know
The heart he had, begging his life by morsels,
’Twould deem the praise it yields him, scantly dealt.”

(Par. vi. 131-44).


Charles of Anjou was at all points opposite to his brother Louis IX.—the Saint. The latter was true to his word, just, merciful, and devoid of personal ambition. But Charles was rapacious, cruel, and of a vehement character. His young wife, moreover, the sister of three queens, excited him to aspire after a crown; and he saw in the county of Provence only a stepping-stone towards a throne. He hoped to acquire that of Constantinople, and he supposed that he was on his way thereto when he listened to the summons of the Pope to dispossess Manfred of the Sicilies. This disastrous resolve decided the fate of Provence, and was the prime cause of its ruin. If in the Count of Anjou there had been a glimmer of political sense, he would have seen how precarious a matter it was to accept a sovereignty as a feudatory of the Holy See, and to become the sport of circumstances ever shifting. He would have perceived how fatal it would be to his fortunes to oscillate between two centres; to exhaust the sources of his real strength in Provence to maintain himself in Naples. The nobility of Provence shared in his infatuation and eagerly joined in the undertaking. At the accession of Charles under the wise government of Raymond Berenger, and the judicious husbanding of its resources by Romeo de Villeneuve, Provence was at its acme of prosperity. Charles brought it to ruin. After the execution of Conradin, he rode roughshod over the people of Naples and Sicily. To his exactions there was no end. The great fiefs were seized and granted to Provençal or Angevin favourites; the foreign soldiers lived at free quarters, and treated the people with the utmost barbarity. There ensued an iron reign of force without justice, without law, without humanity, without mercy.


Conradin, from the scaffold, had cast his glove among the crowd, and called on Peter of Aragon, husband of Constance, daughter of the noble Manfred, to avenge him, and assume his inheritance. In Sicily, where the exactions, the tyranny of the French were most intolerable, a secret correspondence was kept up with Peter of Aragon, and he was entreated to deliver the island from its French masters. But before he was ready, an outbreak of the populace precipitated matters. On Easter Tuesday the inhabitants of Palermo had gone forth in pilgrimage to a church outside the town to vespers. French soldiers, mingling with the people, began to assault the young women. The Sicilians, the fathers, brothers, lovers, remonstrated, and bade the French keep away from the festival. The French gathered together and laid their hands on their swords. At this juncture a beautiful girl, with her betrothed, approached the church. A Frenchman, named Drouet, in wantonness of insult, went up to her and thrust his hand into her bosom. The girl fainted in her bridegroom’s arms. A cry was raised of “Death to the Frenchmen!” and a youth started forward and stabbed Drouet to the heart.

This was the signal for a general insurrection. The cry spread to the city: every house was searched, and every person whose dress, speech, appearance, proclaimed him a Frenchman was massacred without mercy. Neither old age, nor sex, nor infancy, was spared. And in those Sicilian vespers, over two thousand of the Provençal and Angevin nobles and their wives perished under the knives of the justly incensed Sicilians.

When Charles heard of the massacre he burst into paroxysms of wrath. He is described as next having[164] sat silent, gnawing the top of his sceptre, and then breaking forth into the most horrible vows of revenge.

Nor was the Pope behindhand in threats. It was to the Pope that Naples and Sicily owed the incubus of Charles and his Provençals. Clement IV. indeed was dead; Martin IV. now sat in his chair; but though there was a change in the person of the Chief Pontiff, there was no change of mind and policy.

The Palermitans sent an embassy to the Pope to deprecate his wrath, addressing him: “O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us!” But even this adulation could not abate his rage. He proclaimed a crusade against the Sicilians. Heaven was promised to those who should draw the sword against them. Anathema was proclaimed against all who took their side.

But Peter of Aragon was indifferent to this ecclesiastical bluster, and the Sicilians were desperate. In spite of the blessings and promises of the Pope, Charles encountered only disaster. His fleet was destroyed, his son, Charles of Salerno, was captured; his treasury was exhausted, and the principal nobility of Anjou and Provence had been decimated in the Sicilian vespers. He sank into despondency and died, 1285.

Eventually, at the intercession of King Edward I. of England, the young prince, Charles the Lame, was released. He swore to pay 20,000 marks, and surrender his two sons as hostages till the sum was paid, and allow the claim to the Two Sicilies to drop. But no sooner was he freed than Pope Nicolas IV. annulled the treaty, released Charles of his oaths, and crowned him with his own hands. Charles did not surrender his sons, nor pay his ransom.


“This decree of Nicolas,” says Dean Milman, “was the most monstrous exercise of the absolving power which had ever been advanced in the face of Christendom: it struck at the root of all chivalrous honour, at the faith of all treaties.”

But Charles was fain to content himself with his counties of Provence and Anjou, and not allow himself to be drawn or impelled into wars by the Pope. In Provence he found wounds to staunch, ruins to repair.

It is highly to his credit that he frankly accepted this difficult and not very brilliant part. He avoided war, paid his father’s debts, re-established his finances, and acquired in return the nickname of Charles the Miserly. After a reign of twenty-four years he died in 1309.

Grasse had been in the diocese of Antibes, but in 1243 Pope Innocent IV. transferred the seat of the bishop from Antibes to Grasse, on account of the unhealthiness of the former, and its liability to be plundered by the Moorish corsairs.

The bishops of Grasse were not in general men of great mark. Perhaps the least insignificant of them was Godeau.

Antoine Godeau, born at Dreux in 1605, lived in Paris with a kinsman named Couart; and as he thought he had the poetic afflatus, he composed verses and read them to his kinsman. Couart took the lyrics to some literary friends, and they were appreciated. Godeau went on writing, and a little coterie was formed for listening to his compositions; and this was the nucleus out of which grew the Academie Française. Couart introduced Godeau to Mlle. de Rambouillet, and he became her devoted admirer, and a frequenter of her social gatherings. The lady says, in one of her[166] letters to Voiture: “There is here a man smaller than yourself by a cubit, and, I protest, a thousand times more gallant.” Godeau, who entered holy orders and became an abbé, through his devotion to Mlle. de Rambouillet, obtained the nickname of “Julie’s Dwarf.” Voiture was jealous of him, begrudged the favour of the lady who dispensed the literary reputations of the day, and he addressed a rondeau to Godeau:—

“Quittez l’amour, ce n’est votre métier,
Faites des vers, traduisez le psautier;
Votre façon d’écrire est fort jolie;
Mais gardez-vous de faire folie,
Ou je saurais, ma foi, vous châtier

Comme un galant.”

Godeau lived at a time when dancers about the saloons of the toasts and blue stockings of Paris were rewarded with spoils from the Church; and Godeau, when aged only thirty, was offered and accepted the united dioceses of Grasse and Vence. He was consecrated, and went to Grasse. Thence he wrote to Julie:—

“Dans ce désert où je suis retourné,
Mon cœur languit, à souffrir destiné,
Et mon esprit plein de mélancolie
Ne pense plus qu’à la belle Julie.


J’aimerai mieux être aux fers condamné
Dans le dur froid de l’âpre Corilie.
O Rambouillet! O nymphe si jolie,
Souffrirez vous que je sois confiné

Dans ce désert?”

However, Godeau did his duty at Grasse. Indeed, eventually, wearied with squabbles with his chapter there, he threw up Grasse and retained only Vence, the poorest of all the sees in France.



Godeau was a voluminous writer, theological, historical, and poetic; and excelled in none of these lines. In fact, all his works have been consigned to the literary dust heap. His appointment to Grasse had followed on his presentation of a paraphrase of the Benedicite to Richelieu. The Cardinal said, “Sir, you have given me Benedicite. I in return render you Grasse (Grâce).”

The Cathedral of Grasse is of singularly uncouth Gothic, of the twelfth century, with huge drums of pillars, and the crudest of vaulting without any moulding being afforded to the ribs. Grasse possessed formerly a very curious feature, shared with Vence, of having the choir for bishop and chapter in the west gallery, over the porch. As this was so exceptional, and as the early apse would not admit of seats for the chapter, a late bishop built out a hideous structure behind the high altar to accommodate himself and the clergy. But at Vence the arrangement remains intact. That church of Vence is of very early architecture, I am afraid of stating how early. It consists of a nave with double aisles on each side, and the double aisles are carried round at the west end. Each of the aisles on both sides of the nave is stone-floored and vaulted underneath, forming a gallery. At the west end, both aisles are so floored, and here, above the narthex or porch, is the choir, with most beautifully carved stalls, bishop’s throne at the extreme west end; and in the middle of this odd little upstairs choir is the lectern with its vellum MS. book of antiphons left as last used. The date of the stalls is 1455-1460, and the lectern is but little later.


According to tradition the church was built in the sixth century, on the site of a Pagan temple, and an image of an idol was buried under the foundations of each of the pillars. What is certain is that into two of the piers are inserted figures in alabaster from a Roman monument, and that numerous votive tablets and inscriptions are walled into the church. The beautiful woodwork of the western choir escaped being blown to splinters by a happy accident in 1596.

On Sunday, the Feast of S. Michael, the bishop occupied his throne at mass. When he stood up for the Gospel, his foot broke through the floor of his stall. He drew his foot out, and after the conclusion of the Creed proceeded to the pulpit to preach. Whilst he was away a choir boy looked into the hole made by the bishop’s foot, thrust in an arm and drew out his hand full of a black powder, which he showed to an officer standing by, who at once recognised that this was gunpowder. A search was made, and it was found that enough gunpowder had been rammed in under the throne to blow bishop and chapter up, and wreck the church. A fuse had been inserted through a hole bored in the woodwork, and it was supposed that the purpose was to light this when the bishop returned from the pulpit. A messenger was at once sent to him, but he refused to desist from his sermon, calmly proceeding with it to the conclusion, although the congregation, who had received wind of the attempt, had begun to clear out of the church. He returned to his throne and remained there to the end of the service. It was never ascertained by whom the plot was arranged, whether by Huguenots, or whether it was due to private malice.


A corner house looking out on the Cours at Grasse, between the rue du Cours and the Passage Mirabeau, is the old town residence of the family of Cabris. The noblesse of the neighbourhood had their town residence at Grasse, and there spent the winter in such gaieties as could be got up between them.

In this house, No. 2 and 4 of the street, lived Louise, Marchioness de Grasse-Cabris, the youngest and most beautiful of the sisters of the famous Mirabeau. She had been married when quite young to the Marquis, who was a prey to ungovernable fits of temper, and was considerably her senior. But there was an excuse for his violence in the dissipated conduct of his wife.

The Mirabeaus were an old Provençal family which had migrated from Florence through some of the civic broils in the twelfth century. The patronymic was Arrigheti, which got by degrees Frenchified into Riquetti. The estate and title of Mirabeau were only acquired in 1568, by Jean Riquetti, who was first consul of Marseilles.

The Mirabeaus were a race of men singularly energetic, independent, and audacious. They boasted that they were all hewn out of one block, without joints. They were proud, rude, with original and strongly marked features, free-and-easy morals, and violent tempers. Jean Antoine de Riquetti, Marquis de Mirabeau, brigadier of infantry, was wounded in defending a bridge in the battle of Cassans. He fell, and all the hostile army passed over him. His old sergeant, seeing him down, put an iron pot over his master’s head, and fled. This pot saved Mirabeau’s life, but his right arm was broken, and he was so damaged that he was obliged to wear a silver collar to keep his head upright. He[170] was presented by the Duke de Vendôme, under whom he had fought, to Louis XIV., who received him with some commonplace remark; to which the old crippled soldier replied rudely, “If in quitting the Colours he had come to Court payer quelque catin he would have received more honour and less words.” Vendôme was so scared at his audacity, that he said, “Henceforth, Riquetti, I will present you to the enemy, and never again to the king.”

The son of this man was Victor de Riquetti, who called himself “l’Ami des Hommes,” a fantastic hodge-podge of contradictions. He was a philanthropist and a despot, a feudalist, but also a reformer, a professed friend of mankind, but a tyrant in his own family. He hated superstition, but scoffed at “la canaille philosophique.” Separated from his wife, he was engaged in lawsuits with her for years, which published to all Provence the scandals of the domestic hearth of the House of Mirabeau. The eldest son of this man was Gabriel Honoré, the great orator, and the youngest daughter was Louise, Marchioness de Grasse-Cabris. The feudal castle of the Cabris is on the way to Draguignan. Cabris occupies a conical hill in a dreary limestone district, where the soil is so sparse that even the olive cannot flourish there—it exists, that is all. The place is supplied with water from cisterns that receive the rain from the roofs. Honoré was disfigured by smallpox at the age of three, and he retained thenceforth an extraordinary hideousness of aspect which struck his contemporaries, but which does not seem in the slightest to have impeded his success with women. His father declared that physically and morally he was a monster. The romance of his life begins when he[171] was aged seventeen, when, owing to a love intrigue, and to debts, his father obtained a lettre de cachet and had him imprisoned in the isle of Ré. From that time ensued a pitiless struggle, a veritable duel, between the imperious father and the ungovernable son. In 1772 Honoré married Emilie de Marignane at Aix; she was a wealthy heiress, but he speedily dissipated her fortune. His father obtained an order that he should be interned at Manosque. But he broke bounds and came to Grasse to visit his sister. Two days later an indecent pasquinade appeared placarded over the walls of Grasse, containing aspersions on the characters of the principal ladies of rank who spent the winter there.

It was at once bruited abroad that Mirabeau and his sister, Mme. de Cabris, had concocted the lampoon between them. Mirabeau was incensed. He was too much of a gentleman thus to defame ladies; and he hunted out M. de Villeneuve-Mouans as the author of this report. He went after him one day, when this old gentleman was walking on the road bare-headed, with an umbrella spread, horsewhipped him, and broke the umbrella over his shoulders.

The consequence was that a lettre de cachet was taken out against Louise; but on investigation it turned out that it was the Marquis de Grasse-Cabris, the husband of Louise, who was the author of the scurrilous lampoon, and that Honoré had known nothing about it.

When the Revolution broke out, the Marquis fled. The Castle of Cabris was sacked by the mob, and Louise and her husband lived for ten years in great poverty as emigrés.

When, finally, she returned to Provence it was to ruined Mirabeau. The castle had been wrecked, but[172] she contrived to have a cottage built out of the ruins for herself and for her husband, who had sunk into dotage.

The brother of the great orator and of Louise de Cabris was André Boniface, Deputy to the Estates-General for the nobility of Limoges. His excesses at table, and his corpulence, procured for him the nickname of Mirabeau Tonneau. Gabriel Honoré reprimanded him for ascending the tribune when he was drunk. “Why,” he replied, “you have monopolised all the vices of the family, and have left but this one to me.” “In any other family but ours,” he said, “I would pass as a disgrace. In mine, I am its most respectable member.” He emigrated to Germany. An epigram was composed on him:—

“L’horreur de l’eau, l’amour du vin
Le retiendront au bord du Rhin.”

Grasse, as already said, is an admirable centre for excursions, and no excursion is finer than that up the Gorge of the Loup. It is not often that commercial enterprise adds to picturesqueness of scene; but this it has at the entrance to the Gorge. There the railway makes a bold sweep over a really beautiful viaduct, this itself an addition to the scene. But further, in order to supply electric force to Nice for its trams and lighting, a canal has been bored in the precipice on the right bank of the Loup, at a great elevation, to bring the water from an upper fall, so as, by means of a turbine, to accumulate the required power; and the falls of this stream at the opening of the ravine are of great beauty.

It is hard to decide which is most beautiful, the view of the mouth of the ravine, with the waterfall foaming down the cliff beside it, as seen from the hill-side as the train swings down from the direction of Nice, or whether from the side approached from Grasse, whence up the Gorge is obtained a glimpse of snowy peaks.




There are views one sees that never leave one, that fix themselves in the mind indelibly; and the view of the mouth of the Loup Gorge is certainly one such scene.

The ravines of the Tarn are visited by increasing numbers of tourists every year, and I know them well; but I do not think them superior to those of the Loup, the Cians, and the Var. Visitors to the Riviera are for the most part content to hug the coast and cling to the great centres of civilization, where there are shops, casinos, and theatres, and do not branch off afield. Only the day before writing this page, I heard a gentleman who had spent several winters on the Côte d’Azur remark that “After a while one gets very sick of the Riviera.” I promptly inquired whether he had penetrated any of the ravines sawn in the limestone; whether he had visited the mountain villages, such as Thouet de Bëuil; whether he had explored the Estérel. No—he knew nothing of them. In fact, through a dozen winters he had seen naught save the vulgar side of Provence.

It does not suffice to look at the mouth of the Gorge of the Loup. The ravine must be ascended, and that not by the new track, cut to accommodate the lazy, high up in the cliff, but by the footpath at the bottom. This will lead in the first place to an exquisite subject for the artist. On the farther bank is planted a little chapel with a cell once tenanted by a hermit. In mid torrent is a pile of rocks, and a light bridge of rudest construction traverses the river; above the piles of stone in the centre, against the purple gloom of the gorge, rises[174] a crucifix, bathed in golden sunlight. Below, where it can root itself, is flowering laurestinus.

Farther up, after a succession of magnificent scenes, one drops upon a little house, where trout can be eaten, lying behind a waterfall; and to assist the visitor in reaching it, the proprietor runs out with a big umbrella to protect him from the torrent dissolved into rain. Further up the ravine come other and finer leaps of water, the main stream of the Loup, in maddest gambol of youth; and over all flash out gleams of the eternal snows.

Le Bar has a painting in the church, representing a Dance Macabre; it is, like all other such dances, of the fifteenth century. It represents Death armed with his bow among a party of dancers. Some are dying, and their souls are leaving their bodies. The picture is accompanied by a long Provençal inscription.

High above the entrance to the Gorge of the Loup stands the village of Gourdon, on the limestone terrace. The only spring water the place was supplied with came from a fountain in a cave in the face of a sheer precipice, reached by a thread of path, a foot to eighteen inches wide, along the cliff, and this, moreover, interrupted by a rift, usually crossed by a plank. But not infrequently this plank fell, or was carried away. Then those in quest of water leaped the gap, went on to the cave, filled their pitchers, and returned the same way, springing over the interval, where a false step would entail certain death.

At Mouans Sartoux, between Grasse and Cannes, stood the castle of a grim Huguenot Seigneur. The church was under the patronage of the Chapter of Grasse. The Sieur Reinaud invited two Calvinist[175] ministers to his castle. In 1572, when the curé of Mouans had summoned a friar to help him for Christmas Day, and to preach, as he himself was a poor speaker,—just after midnight the Sieur sent armed men into the parsonage to threaten to kill the friar if he preached next day. On Christmas morning, accordingly, the frightened man abstained, and the congregation had to go without instruction on the lessons of the day. Then the Sieur broke into the church when the parishioners were communicating, along with his men-at-arms and his ministers, and made one of these latter ascend the pulpit and harangue the congregation, pour contumely on the Catholic Church, and denounce all respect for holy seasons. The fellow further told the people that their fathers and mothers were burning in hell-fire for not having revolted from the Church. Next, the Sieur renewed his threats that, should “the Cagot of a friar” venture to address the parishioners in the afternoon, he would do him to death. At vespers he again invaded the church, and set up one of his preachers to speak to the people. He did the same on the two following days. The Consuls of Mouans appealed to the Chapter of Grasse for protection, but they were incapable of affording them effectual aid.

The son of this Sieur, Pompée de Grasse, was more zealous even than his father, and did not confine himself to threats. He placed sword-edge and firebrand at the disposal of the Huguenot cause. He was a terror to the whole countryside. At last, one night, when he was at Bormes, in the Maures, a party of Catholics, disguised in long cloaks, managed to get into his castle, and killed him and his brother, and set fire to the place. His widow, Susanne de Villeneuve, and[176] her two daughters, were allowed to escape by boat to Hyères.

We are vastly mistaken if we regard the parties in the Wars of Religion as all Lamb on one side, and all Wolf on the other. As a matter of fact, except in the Cevennes, the Reform was favoured only by the lesser nobility, not out of religious conviction, but out of a spirit of turbulence bred by the long disorders of the English occupation of Aquitaine, and the riots of the Free Companies. They resented the firm hand imposed on them by the Crown, and they hoped to get pickings out of Church estates.

The people generally were not touched by the negatives of Calvinism. After that Henry IV. joined the Church, most of the nobility and country gentry followed his example—again, not from conviction, but because they saw that the game of resistance was up.

At present, in the department of Var there are 1,500 Protestants out of a population of 310,000. In Alpes Maritimes they number 1,000 out of nearly 294,000, and most of these sectaries are foreign importations. If there had been deep-rooted convictions, these would not have been dissipated so certainly. In the Cevennes, Calvinism holds on notwithstanding persecution in the past, and in Ireland is a reverse instance.

But to return to Susanne de Villeneuve.

In 1592 the Duke of Savoy was at Grasse, and resolved on chastising this Susanne as a capital influence among the Razats. Actually two women at this period fomented the fury and bloodshed of internecine strife. The Baron de Vins, head of the Leaguers, had been killed in 1589 outside Grasse. The Countess Christine de Sault, his sister-in-law, had been the headpiece, as he[177] the arm, of the party, and it was she who, in desperate resolve to save the Catholic cause, invited Charles Emmanuel of Savoy to give his help against the king. What she was on one side, that was Susanne de Villeneuve on the other—implacable, fanatical, remorseless in hate, and with an iron will.

The Duke of Savoy besieged Susanne in her castle of Mouans, and she defended herself gallantly; but, forced to surrender through lack of food, she imposed as condition that the castle should be spared. The duke broke his word, and levelled it. She was furious, reproached him, and demanded 40,000 crowns indemnity, or she would brand him as a liar and perjurer. He promised the money, but departed without paying. She hasted after him, caught him up in the plain of Cagnes, and poured forth afresh a torrent of abuse. He spurred his horse, so as to escape it; she flung herself in the way, held the bridle, and used her woman’s tongue with such effect that Charles Emmanuel was glad to disburse the money on the spot so as to effect his escape.

The castle has disappeared to its foundations. The church stands intact, unrestored.

I have spoken of the Hotel of the Cabris family in the Cours. No. 1 is the ancient mansion of the family of Théas-Thorenc, and was built by Count François, who was engaged in the wars of Louis XV., and whose praises have been sung by Goethe. He was at the taking of Frankfort, when his commander-in-chief, the Prince of Soubise, acquired the celebrity of the epigram:—

“Soubise dit, la lanterne à la main:
‘J’ai beau chercher! où diable est mon armée?
Elle était là  pourtant, hier matin?’”


He died there August 15th, 1793.

Another Grasse worthy is Fragonard, the painter, a mercer’s son, born at Grasse in 1732. He was put as clerk to a notary in early youth, but wearied mortally of the office, and in 1748 was given to the painter Bucher to be trained as an artist.

He was in full swing of favour and success in Paris when the Revolution broke out.

“Soon events became tragic, and then began the dusk of that bright and gentle life which had to him hitherto been one long smile. Frago had no thought of flying from the storm, and republicanism always remained idealised in his mind. But sadness oppressed his heart, and his friends shared it with him. These old pensioners of the king, enriched by the aristocracy, could not see without regret the demolition of the ancien régime, and the ruin of their protectors, emigrated, imprisoned, hunted down. Without hating either royalty or Jacobinism, the little group of artists of plebeian birth and bourgeois manners suffered in silence the great revolution in which all their past went down, as the shadows of old age deepened on them. Their art was out of fashion. Their piquant scenes, their dainty subjects, were no longer possible in the midst of political and social convulsions, and a few years sufficed to convert the respect of yesterday into the contempt of to-day. Eighty years must pass before taste and justice could bring men back to love the charming French school of 1770, to understand its importance in the history of the national genius, so as to induce the digging of its relics forth from under the cinders of the Revolution, the empire, and the bourgeois royalty.”[13]

A curiously small life must have been that of these little towns under the ancien régime, when the[179] time of warfare was over. It was made up of petty quarrels, of scandals and gossip. Even in the cathedral, the bishop and the dean and the chapter were at loggerheads over the merest trifles—whether two or three coups of the censer should be given to the bishop, whether a bow to him should extend to the hams of the canons. Perhaps the funniest quarrel was about the patronage of the diocese. The bishop issued a pastoral, in which he announced that he had constituted S. Honoratus the patron of the clergy of Grasse, and did not say “with the assent of the chapter.” Whereupon the incensed chapter cut the name of Honoratus out of their calendar, and refused to celebrate his festival. Some of the bishops were engaged in incessant strife. When one died, to him might be applied the epigram written on Clement XI.:—

“A vermibus terræ consumendus in tumulo,
A vermibus ecclesiæ jam consumptus in throno.”

“The happy little town of Grasse,” says Lenthéric, “seems to be the very home of flowers and perfumes. Its forests or olives furnish the finest and sweetest oil of Provence; its groves of oranges and lemons yield at the same time flowers in abundance and fruit in maturity. About it are roses, jessamine, mint, heliotrope, Parma violets, mignonette, cultivated over wide tracts, as are also everywhere the common pot-herbs. The transformation of these natural products into perfumery has become the predominant industry of the district; and the neighbourhood of the Alps allows of the addition to this domestic flora of a thousand wild flowers and herbs—thyme, lavender, rosemary—all to be gathered close at hand.”



History—Ægitna—Quintus Opimus—Admiral Matthews takes Ile Ste. Marguerite—La Californie—Climate—S. Cassien—Arluc—Legend—La Napoule—Antibes—The Terpon stone—Cult of rude stones—Utriculares—Lerins—Ste. Marguerite—The Man in the Iron Mask—Mattioli—Fabricated pedigree for Napoleon—Marshal Bazaine: his escape—S. Honorat—The stand made against Predestinarianism—S. Augustine—Lerins a home of culture—Decay—Suppressed—Springs of fresh water in the sea.

CANNES does not possess much of a history. It was but a fishing village occupying a rock above a little port, built about a ruined castle and a church, when “invented” by Lord Brougham, as already related.

Its history may be summed up shortly. Old Cannes possibly occupies the site of the Ligurian town of Ægitna, destroyed B.C. 154 by the Consul Quintus Opimus. The Ligurian natives had annoyed the Greek settlers and traders on the coast, who were monopolising their delectable seats, and the Greeks complained to Rome of their ill-humour and rough deeds. Opimus was sent to their aid; he subdued the natives without much trouble, and was accorded a triumph, which meant the leading of a train of captives in chains behind his chariot through Rome, followed by the butchery of the prisoners, whose carcases were thrown down the Gemonian stairs, and drawn by hooks to the Tiber. Opimus was notorious for his riotous living, and for his brutality. He was as handsome as he was infamous—“formosus homo et famosus.” Cicero speaks of his disreputable life, and records a jest he made. The Romans gave Ægitna to the citizens of Marseilles. In the tenth century it pertained to the abbey of Lerins, and in the Middle Ages maintained incessant contest with the tyrannical abbots, in efforts to obtain municipal freedom. Not till 1788—the year before the Revolution—did the town become free from its ecclesiastical masters.



From Cannes in 1580 the plague spread which ravaged Provence. It was brought there by a ship from the Levant. To plague succeeded war. In 1746 Cannes succumbed to the Piedmontese and German forces that had crossed the Var. After taking and sacking Cannes, where they got little beyond fishing-nets, they plundered Grasse.

A little before this Admiral Matthews, who had taken Ventimiglia, captured the Ile Ste. Marguerite. The war which led to the blockading of the Ligurian coast by the English was occasioned by a trifle.

In 1738 the English were thrown into a paroxysm of indignation by a tale that circulated, which was characterised by Burke as “The Fable of Jenkins’s Ear.” Jenkins was master of a small trading sloop in Jamaica, which seven years previously had been overhauled by a Spanish coastguard boat. The captain, disappointed at finding nothing contraband in the vessel, tore off one of Jenkins’s ears, and bade him carry it to King George, and inform his Britannic Majesty that if he should come that way he would serve him in the same manner.[182] This ear Jenkins carried about with him wrapped up in cotton wool. For seven years Jenkins kept his ear, and produced it in taverns and to all he met, as an instance of the indignities to which freeborn Britons were exposed at the hands of Spain. Of course much correspondence took place between the two governments relative to this bit of dried ear, but not till 1737 was he called before a committee of the House of Commons, when he appeared at the bar, exhibited his ear, that looked like a dried mushroom or a truffle. War was proclaimed amidst great rejoicing among the English. Church bells were rung. Walpole said bitterly, “You are ringing your bells now; before long you will be wringing your hands.”

The English fleet in the Mediterranean blockaded the ports of Spain. But the death of Charles of Austria in the following year led to a general scramble to get hold of portions of his vast possessions, and the war assumed a more complicated character. The Spaniards, assisted by the French, landed on the Italian coasts, and Admiral Matthews was sent to drive them thence.

The story of Jenkins and his ear had roused all England. Pulteney declared that England needed no allies—that Jenkins’s story alone would raise volunteers anywhere. It was, however, more than hinted at the time, that Jenkins had lost his ear in the pillory, and not through the violence of a Spanish custom-house officer.

The war fizzled out. Matthews was badly served with men and ships from England, and the Ile of Ste. Marguerite was speedily abandoned.

Compared with Nice, Cannes enjoys certain advantages. It is less towny and commercial. It does not[183] savour of Monte Carlo. It possesses on the east the wooded height of La Californie, studded with hotels and villas, commanding one of the most beautiful evening views in Europe. When the sun goes down beyond the Estérel range, standing up in royal purple against an amber sky, it may well be thought that this is a scene of unsurpassable beauty.

Nice has to the East Mont Boron and Mont Alban, but they do not serve for a residential suburb, as does La Californie. They are cut off from Nice by the port, and they do not command so incomparable a view.

For the depth of winter, in gloom and cold, then no place for shelter can be compared with Beaulieu, or Mentone, or Alassio. But when the months of December and January are passed, then Cannes. Lastly, to cool off before encountering the chills of spring in England, S. Raphael. Cannes further has at its door, for a run of a day, Estérel, easily reached, and never to be exhausted or forgotten. Then, again, from Cannes, also accessible, the isles of Lerins, where the fresh breezes blow.

“Verily,” says Leuthéric, “no country in the world possesses a climate comparable to that of Cannes. There no extremes of temperature are known, as in other parts of Provence. The belt of hills which enclose the gulf form a screen intervening between the bay and the towering mountains; and when the cold winds blow down from the Alps, they sweep over the littoral, which lies always sheltered. Thanks to this natural protection, they fall at some distance out to sea, and one can mark the ruffle of the surface on the horizon, whilst that near the beach gently undulates like the face of a tranquil lake. The nightly loss of heat, favoured by the limpidity of a sky always cloudless, is compensated for by the proximity of the sea, always[184] slow to give up its heat, and which bathes this coast with an atmosphere ever temperate. The mean temperature is superior to those of Nice, Genoa, Florence, Pisa, Rome, and even of Naples; it never falls below freezing point, and never rises as high as in most of the towns of Europe.

“This equilibrium of temperature is manifest in the simultaneous development of vegetations apparently contradictory. At Cannes, above every spot on the coast of Provence, the vegetations of opposite climes melt into one another in an admirable promiscuity. The landscape is veritably unique, and one feels there as if one were transported into a vast conservatory, in which artificially are united growths, the most different in character. The plain is covered with oranges and lemons, from among which shoot up at intervals the fans of palms trees and the spikes of aloes. The hills are crowned with umbrella pines, whose majestic heads recall classic sites in the Roman campagna. In the background of the picture are dark and dense forests of pines, like a gloomy drapery above which rise the pure and gleaming heights of the Alps in their eternal snows. Thus, as in a single framework, one can see grouped together the great conifers of the north, the olives of Provence, the golden fruits of the Balearic Isles, the oleanders of Asia Minor, and the thorny vegetation of the Algerian Tell.”

I must, however, in all fairness, add, as a qualification to this picture, that in the early months of 1905, frost and hail did so smite and blast the oranges, the lemons, the eucalyptus of the plain of the Siagne, that the glory of the glossy leaves was gone, the country had assumed the aspect of a withered orchard. The golden fruit were shed, and the leaves were bleached and pendant.

If Cannes has gone up in the world, her neighbours have gone down. About four miles from Cannes, in the Plain of the Siagne, is an outcrop of the Estérel red[185] sandstone, crowned by magnificent pines, cypresses, cork trees and ilexes, that embower a chapel of S. Cassien and a farm. Here, till recently, lived a hermit. These gentry are becoming scarce. Possibly the prognostication of M. Anselme Benoît, in Jules Fabre’s novel Mon Oncle Celestin, is accomplishing itself:

“Va au diable avec tes médailles et tes chapelets. Je te le prédis depuis longtemps: à  force d’embrasser les filles, tu finiras par embrasser les gendarmes au detour de quelque chemin.”

In 1661 Bishop Godeau found a vagabond hermit at S. Jeanette, and tried in vain to dislodge him; but the man hung on, and Godeau found him still there in 1667.

These men pick up a subsistence by the sale of sacred medals, pictures, scapulars, rosaries; sometimes manufacturing the latter themselves. Very often they are simply lazy loons who can subsist on such sales and occasional alms; but some have been as great scamps as Jacopo Rusca in Fabre’s delightful story—which is a graphic picture of country life and country people in the South, full of delicious word painting.

Formerly S. Cassien was the fortress to the town of Arluc. Castle and town have disappeared wholly. Arluc, Ara lucis[14] as the place is called in old deeds, was a shrine in a sacred wood. The Provençal Troubadour Raymond Ferand tells a story of it.

Here lived once on a time a sorcerer named Cloaster; he had an altar in the wood, at which he practised all kinds of diableries. There was a bridge over the Siagne crossed by the people who came there to worship. Now S. Nazarius was abbot of Lerins. One day, a[186] youth named Ambrose was sacrificing to idols at Arluc, when the devils laid hold of him, raised him in the air, and flew away with him, in spite of all his protests and kicks, to convey him to hell. But as they were thus transporting him over the island of Lerins, Ambrose heard the chanting of the monks, and he cried out to S. Honorat to help him. Then the devils let go, and he came fluttering down like a feather into the midst of the cloister of Lerins, where S. Nazarius received him; and thenceforth Ambrose lived with the monks as a good Christian.

The Lerins Chronicle tells us that the Abbot Nazarius destroyed a temple of Venus that was at Arluc, and built a church on its site, which he dedicated to S. Stephen in A.D. 616, and attached to it a convent of women. But in 730 the Saracens destroyed church and convent and town, and sacked Lerins, where they massacred the abbot and five hundred of his monks.

The town of Arluc was rebuilt by Pepin le Bref, but in 890 the Saracens again destroyed it. It again struggled into existence, but was finally utterly ruined and effaced by the Tard-Venus in 1361, under their chief, who called himself “The Enemy of Man.” These Tard-Venus were one of the Free Companies that ravaged the country, gleaning after others had reaped.

The chapel was rebuilt, and when given to the abbey of S. Victor at Marseilles, was dedicated to S. Cassien. The fête is on July 23rd; religious services take place in the morning and a pleasure fair and merrymaking in the afternoon.

A pretty watering place is La Napoule, that once enjoyed a prosperity of which Cannes had no thought. It was the Roman station Ad Horea, where vast stores[187] of provisions were collected in magazines, for transmission to the troops. The name Napoule has been supposed to be the same as Naples, Neapolis, signifying the New Town, but no text gives colour to this derivation, and it is more probable that La Napoule comes from Epulia, Provisions, as it was a store place; excavations made there when the railway was in construction laid bare immense underground magazines and granaries, divided systematically into compartments by pillars, and vaulted. These were originally well ventilated. Remains of Roman constructions may still be seen by the shore, and although no mention is made in the Itinerary of Antoninus of a port there, it cannot be doubted that there was one for the disembarkation or embarkation of stores.

The little feudal castle built on Roman substructures was wrecked by the Saracen corsairs in the thirteenth century. The present village of Napoule is tenanted by poor fishermen, but it is likely to look up as a bathing place, and as a centre for excursions into the Estérel. The tower is all that remains of a castle of the Counts of Villeneuve. The rocks in the bay, beaten by the sea, have assumed fantastic shapes; being of sandstone, they are not like porphyry, too hard to resist the erosion of the sea.

And La Napoule, facing east, sees how that,—

“The eastern gate, all fiery red,

Opening on Neptune with fair blessed beams,
Turns into yellow gold his salt-green streams.”

Midsummer Night’s Dream, III. 2.

Another old place that fell into decay, but which has in it now hopes of renovation, is Antibes. This was the[188] Greek Antipolis, the town over against Nicæa, at the farther side of the bay.

Almost all of the monuments bearing Greek inscriptions that have been found in such numbers in Provence belong to a date after the Roman annexation. But this is not the case with regard to a curious inscription discovered at Antibes on a black boulder, egg-shaped, of diorite, a kind of basalt. This stone had no shaping given to it by the hand of man, but on it was cut in archaic characters, this inscription:—

“I am Terpon, servant of the august goddess Aphrodite; may Cypris reward with her favours those who erected me here.”

What does this mean? How could the stone be Terpon, a servant of the Goddess of Love?

It would seem to have been one of those mysterious sacred stones which received worship from the most remote ages, a form of worship belonging to the earliest people of whom anything is known. This cult of rude unshapen stones, very generally black, prevailed among the Phœnicians; it forced its way into the worship of the Israelites. Such stones were set up even in the temple of Jehovah by some of the kings, who inclined to the superstitions of the Canaanites. The worship had so strong a hold on the Arabs that Mohammed could not extirpate it, and the Black Stone of Mecca still receives the veneration of the faithful. It forced its way into the religion of the ancient Greeks, and though quite incongruous with their mythology, held its own to the last.

Prudentius, the Christian poet (died about 410) shows us how strong was the devotion, even in his day.


“His first food was the sacred meal, his earliest sight the sacred candles, and the family gods growing black with holy oil. He saw his mother pale at her prayers before the holy stone, and he, too, would be lifted by his nurse to kiss it in his turn.” (Cont. Symmachum.)

It has been so tough that it is not extirpated yet.

In 1877 a correspondent of the Society of Anthropology at Paris wrote about the worship as still prevailing in the valleys of the Pyrenees.

“One comes across these sacred stones most usually near fountains. They are rough blocks of porphyroid, or amphibolite granite, left on the mountain side by glacial action. They are almost invariably shapeless, and rarely present any features that can distinguish them from other great stones strewn about. One might pass them by unnoticed but for the local traditions that attach to them and the veneration with which they are regarded by the natives. In vain do the priests preach against them. They have utterly failed to drive the superstition from the hearts of their people. In vain do they get them smashed up secretly, in hopes of thereby destroying these vestiges of paganism; especially do they use their efforts against such as serve as meeting-places to young men and girls. The natives, when they come on the workmen engaged in the destruction, break out into riot, and stop the work. When they cannot do this, then they collect the fragments, replace them, and continue to surround them with veneration. It is necessary to disperse the débris of the Holy Stone to put an end to the cult; but even then, the place where it stood is regarded as sacred, and sometimes the clergy plant a cross there, as the only means of turning the traditional reverence of the spot into a new direction.”

Whether this religion of the black stone of Antibes goes back to Phœnician or to Ligurian religion one cannot[190] say—probably both Phœnician colonist and Ligurian native shared the same devotion to rude blocks of stone.

In Scotland, in Ireland, in Cornwall, in Brittany, among the graves of the dead of the Bronze Age, almost invariably a piece of white quartz or a jade weapon is found. Indeed, the bit of quartz is so constant that a workman engaged in opening one of the barrows will cry out, “Now we are coming on the bones,” when he sees it gleam. The bit of quartz or jade pertained to the same category of ideas. It was the rude stone protecting the dead, as the rude stone was the safeguard of the living, the object of worship in life, of hope, of confidence in death.

At Antibes, in the wall of the Hôtel de Ville, is the stone with the inscription, already spoken of, to the poor little dancing boy of twelve, from the North. In the museum is an inscription to the memory of a horse, by his sorrowing master. Another shows that at Antibes there was a corporation of Utriculares, that is to say, of boatmen who navigated the sea in vessels sustained by bladders. These were common enough on the lagoons and the rivers, but exceptional on the coast.

Perhaps the most interesting excursion that can be made from Cannes is to the isles of Lerins. Of these there are two—Ste. Marguerite and S. Honorat—the latter formerly the seat of the great school and monastery of Lerins. The islands take their name from some mythic Lero, of whose story nothing is known; but Pliny informs us that there had once been a town named Vergoanum situated on one of them which had disappeared before the Christian era, and of which no traces remained. That Ste. Marguerite was occupied by Greeks and Romans is testified by the finding there of a bi-lingual inscription. But whatever relics of structures may have been left by its old masters have been used up again and again from mediæval times down to the present. The fortress now standing is a barrack. It was built by Richelieu, considerably enlarged by the Spaniards when they had possession of the island, and then transformed after the plans of Vauban. The fortress was employed mainly as a military or State prison.



The most celebrated of its prisoners, or at least him about whom most has been written, was the Man of the Iron Mask. It was due to Voltaire that the story obtained such currency and excited so keen an interest. In his Age of Louis XIV., published in 1751, he wrote:—

“Some months after the death of Mazarin an event happened which is without a parallel in history. Moreover, and this is not less remarkable, the event has been passed over in silence by every historian. There was sent with the utmost secrecy to the castle of the Isles of Ste. Marguerite, in the Sea of Provence, a prisoner unknown, of a stature above the average, young, and with features of rare nobility and beauty. On the way the prisoner wore a mask, the chin-piece of which was furnished with springs of steel, so that he could eat without removing it. Order had been given to kill him if he ventured to uncover. He remained at the Isles until a trusted officer, Saint Mars by name, Governor of Pignerol, having been appointed in 1690 to the command of the Bastille, came to Ste. Marguerite to fetch him, and bore him thence—always in his mask—to the Bastille. Before his removal he was seen in the isle by the Marquis de Louvois, who remained standing while he spoke to him with a consideration savouring of respect. In the Bastille the unknown was as well bestowed as was possible in that place, and nothing that he asked for was[192] refused him. He had a passion for lace and fine linen; he amused himself with a guitar; and his table was furnished with the best. The governor rarely sat down in his presence. An old doctor of the Bastille, who had often attended this interesting prisoner, said that, although he had examined his tongue and the rest of his body, he had never seen his face. He was admirably made, said the doctor, and his skin was of a brownish tint. He spoke charmingly, with a voice of a deeply impressive quality, never complaining of his lot, and never letting it be guessed who he was. This unknown captive died in 1703, and was buried by night in the parish of S. Paul. What is doubly astonishing is this: that when he was sent to Ste. Marguerite there did not disappear from Europe any personage of note. But observe what happened within a few days of his arrival at the isle. The governor himself laid the prisoner’s table and then withdrew and locked the door. One day the prisoner wrote something with a knife on a silver plate and threw the plate out of the window towards a boat on the shore, almost at the foot of the tower. A fisherman to whom the boat belonged picked up the plate and carried it to the governor, who, surprised beyond measure, asked the man: ‘Have you read what is written on this plate, and has any one seen it in your hands?’ ‘I cannot read,’ answered the fisherman; ‘I have only just found it, and no one else has seen it.’ He was detained until the governor had made sure that he could not read, and that no other person had seen the plate. ‘Go,’ he then said. ‘It is well for you that you cannot read.’”

How Voltaire could describe the prisoner as “with features of rare nobility and beauty,” when he was invariably masked, so that no one could see his face, is certainly remarkable.

When Voltaire found that this story had created a sensation, he vouchsafed a solution to it. “The Iron[193] Mask was without doubt a brother, and an elder brother, of Louis XIV.”

But the mystery has been solved. We know with certainty who the prisoner was—no one of great importance after all, but one against whom Louis XIV. entertained a bitter and implacable resentment—Ercole Antonio Mattioli.

Louis XIV. had a strong desire to obtain the Marquisate of Montferrat, with its capital Cassale; but the marquisate belonged to Charles, Duke of Mantua, a feeble, dissipated, extravagant fool. On the other hand, the Empress and the Spanish party were bitterly hostile to French schemes of aggrandisement. Mattioli acted as a paid agent of the French Government to negotiate in secrecy a sale of Cassale to Louis; and after he had received a good deal of payment for his services, betrayed the whole intrigue to the Austro-Spanish Government. Louis was furious, not only at having failed in this coup d’état, but also at being so fooled. Mattioli was lured near to the frontier, and fallen on upon Piedmontese soil, carried off and thrown into the fortress of Pignerol, which was then in the hands of the French. From Pignerol he was afterwards moved to Lerins, and then finally to the Bastille, where he died. The whole story has been thoroughly thrashed out, and that the Man in the Iron Mask was Mattioli and no one else has been conclusively established.[15]

It would seem that an attempt was made to fabricate for Napoleon a descent from the Iron Mask, who was assumed to be an elder brother to Louis XIV., and by this means to establish for Napoleon a legitimate right to the throne of the Capets. But the attempt was too[194] absurd to obtain credence, if ever proposed to Bonaparte. In the Mémorial de Sainte Hélène allusion is made to this.

“Conversation turned on the Mask of Iron, and all that had been said on the subject by Voltaire, Dutens, etc., and what was found in the Mémoires of Richelieu was passed in review. These made him, as is well known, to be the twin brother of Louis XIV., and his elder. Then some one (probably Count de Las Casas) added that on studying genealogical trees, it had been seriously shown that he, Napoleon, was the lineal descendant of the Man in the Iron Mask, consequently legitimate heir to Louis XIII. and to Henry IV. in preference to Louis XIV. and his posterity. The Emperor replied that he had, in fact, heard this, and added that human credulity and love of the marvellous was capable of believing anything; that it would have been quite possible to establish this to the satisfaction of the multitude, and that there would not have lacked men in the senate capable of producing the requisite demonstrations, and these the men who later turned against him when they saw that he was unfortunate.

“Then we went on to discuss the particulars of the fable. The governor of the isle of Ste. Marguerite at the time, so it was said, the man to whose care the Iron Mask was confided, was called M. de Bonpart, a very remarkable fact. This man had a daughter. The young people saw each other and loved. The Governor thereupon communicated with the Court; and it was there decided that no great inconvenience could arise if the unfortunate man were suffered to find in love some alleviation of his misfortunes. Accordingly M. de Bonpart had them married.

“He who related this turned red when the facts were disputed. He said that the marriage could be verified by inspection of the register of a certain parish in Marseilles, which he named. He added that the children born of this marriage were clandestinely removed to Corsica, where the difference of language, or deliberate purpose, caused the name Bonpart to be rendered Bonaparte, or Buonaparte.”



Whether it was proposed to Napoleon at one time to circulate this fable is uncertain. What is certain is, that, when he was emperor, he took pains to have the registers of Ajaccio falsified or destroyed, either in preparation for the publication of this fiction, or because they revealed some unpleasant truths, which he was interested in suppressing. The crucial difficulty in the way of formulating this fable was that Saint Mars, and not any M. Bonpart, had been governor of Ste. Marguerite whilst the Iron Mask was there.

The last celebrated prisoner at Ste. Marguerite was Marshal Bazaine, who escaped with the assistance of his wife, it can hardly be doubted with the connivance of the governor. Marshal François Achille Bazaine was born at Versailles in 1811, and was destined to be a tradesman by his very bourgeois parents. But as he did not relish the shop, he entered the army as a private soldier in 1831, and served in Algiers, where he sufficiently distinguished himself to be promoted to a lieutenancy, and then become captain of the Foreign Legion in the service of Queen Christina against the Carlists. In 1841 he again served in Algiers, became colonel, and next general of brigade. He was in the Crimean War, and returned from it as general of division. Later he attended the unfortunate Emperor Maximilian to Mexico, when he was raised to the rank of marshal. There he married a rich Creole. His conduct in Mexico was not glorious. He left the emperor in the most menaced position; but whether[196] this desertion was due to himself or to orders received from Napoleon is not known. After that, for some time nothing was heard of him, but on the breaking out of the war with Prussia and Germany he was appointed to the command of the Third Army Corps. How he surrendered Metz, with 150,000 men, on October 23rd, 1870, is well known.

The questions asked of the jury at his trial were these:—

1. Is Marshal Bazaine guilty, on October 28th, 1870, of having signed a capitulation in the open field, at the head of his army?

2. Was the consequence of this capitulation, that the army laid down its arms?

3. Did Marshal Bazaine, both verbally and by writing, correspond with the enemy, without having previously done all that was his duty?

4. Is Marshal Bazaine guilty, on October 28th, 1870, of having capitulated to the enemy, and delivered over the fortress of Metz, over which he had command, without having previously used every effort in his power to defend it, and exhausted every means of holding out that lay open to him in duty and honour?

The jury answered Yes, unanimously, to all these questions, and he was sentenced to degradation and death; but the sentence of death was commuted to imprisonment for twenty years. On December 25th—Christmas Day—1873, he was taken from the Trianon, Versailles, in a close carriage, to Villeneuve l’Etang, and thence conveyed to Antibes, where he was placed on a steamboat and transferred to the fortress of Ste.[197] Marguerite. On August 10th, 1874, the director of the prison, named Marchi, found Bazaine’s prison empty. The first thought in France, when this news was spread by the telegraph, was that he had been allowed to escape by the connivance of MacMahon. Then details were published which put a romantic gloss on the evasion.

In the fortress of Ste. Marguerite three rooms had been placed at the disposal of the prisoner, as well as a little terrace, which latter was reached by a stone bridge with a wall on each side, and here stood a sentinel, on the wall; but he could not see those who passed over the bridge nor what went on upon the terrace, as the latter was partly covered with an awning against the sun. On the terrace, to which led several steps from the bridge, the Marshal had formed for himself a little garden; and whilst working therein one day he found a choked gutter intended for carrying off rain-water from the castle shoots; it was bored through the rock; and he set to work to clear it. By means of sympathetic ink he was able to maintain a correspondence with his wife; and all was planned for his escape.

On the evening determined on he asked his gaoler, who usually accompanied him for a stroll on the terrace after dinner, to allow him to walk it alone, and this was readily permitted.

After a while Bazaine opened and slammed the gate, and the sentinel supposed that he had passed out of the terrace garden, on his way back to the prison. But that the Marshal, instead, had cleared the drain hole and slipped through, he could not see, because the awning hid from him all view of the terrace. In the drain was a rope, and this Bazaine let down the face of the rock,[198] making it fast to an iron bar crossing the conduit. The descent was for eighty feet. Below burnt a light, giving him notice that his wife was there awaiting him in a boat.

The descent was not a little arduous, and he scratched and bruised his knuckles and knees against the rock, as a high wind was blowing at the time. When he reached the bottom a voice across the water asked who was there, and he struck a match and showed his face. The boat could not come up under the cliff, and he was obliged to plunge into the water to reach it. In the boat were his Creole wife and his nephew, a Mexican, Don Alvarez de Rull. Mme. Bazaine had been in Genoa from August 3rd, and had there hired a pleasure steam-yacht, the Baron Ricasoli, and in this she had either remained in the harbour of Genoa or had gone cruises in it, and had penetrated more than once to the Gulf of Saint Juan. At La Croisette she and her nephew had been set ashore, nominally that she might look at a villa, that she pretended she had an idea of renting. There they hired a boat, and in this they rowed to the foot of the cliff under the foot of the fortress, and awaited the arrival of the Marshal. No sooner was he in the boat than they rowed to the vessel, which had all steam up, and started at full speed for Genoa.

In a letter written by Mme. Bazaine to the French Minister of the Interior, General Chabaud-Latour, dated August 16th, she stated that she had had no confederates. Bazaine also made the same assertion in a letter from Cologne. But no one believed this except the Ultramontane editor of the Univers, who attributed the happy escape to the merits of a consecrated scapular and a thread of the Blessed Virgin’s smock, which[199] Bazaine wore about his neck. Colonel Villette, who had voluntarily shared the Marshal’s imprisonment, and who quitted Ste. Marguerite the day after his escape, was arrested at Marseilles and brought before the magistrates. During the investigation it became clear enough that Bazaine had not been without confederates.

The rope by which Bazaine had let himself down had been woven partly out of the cord that had tied up his boxes, partly out of a swing that his children had used, when allowed to share his imprisonment for awhile. Bazaine himself was not skilful enough to have made this rope; it was woven by Villette. The iron bar to which it was asserted that the rope had been fastened was not to be found in the drain; and it was evident that some one must have held the end when the Marshal was let down.

Marchi, the gaoler, protested that he had only allowed Bazaine the liberty he enjoyed, because the latter had given his word of honour not to attempt an escape. Bazaine’s valet, Barreau, was certainly implicated in the matter; so was a Colonel Doineau, who, as head of the Bureaux Arabes in Algeria, had been sentenced to death for murder and robbery, but had been pardoned by Napoleon II. He had managed the correspondence between Bazaine and his wife. Several of the warders were guilty at least of negligence, but were let off very easily with one, two, or six months’ imprisonment.

The island of S. Honorat is smaller than Ste. Marguerite. It is a poor little stony patch in the sea, a miniature of the larger isle, a bank of rocks covered with a thin bed of soil, and rising not above four feet over the sea level. And yet this isle, whose meagre[200] clumps of pines and whose battered tower hardly attract the attention of the tourists, played a considerable part, through long centuries, in the history of intellectual and religious growth in Europe. In 375 S. Honoratus founded there his religious community, and grouped about him a little family of earnest and intellectual men. In a few years it grew in power, not the power of the sword, but of brain and earnestness of purpose; and this island saved Western Christendom from a grave disaster.

The Mussulman has a legend of Creation. According to that, when God was creating man, He took a pellet of clay in His left hand, moulded it into human shape, cast it aside to the left, and said, “This goes to hell, and what care I?” In like manner He worked another ball of clay with His right hand, flung that aside, and said, “And this goes to heaven, and what care I?”

Now the master mind of Western Christendom, Augustine of Hippo, had devised the same theory of caprice in the Most High, predestinating to good or ill without reason, and that before Mohammed was born. Divine Grace, he held, was paramount and irresistible, carrying man to happiness or damnation without man being able to determine his course one way or the other. Man, according to Augustine, was a mere “Lump” of sin, damnable, utterly damnable. But God, in His inscrutable providence, indistinguishable from wantonness, chose to elect some to weal, and leave the rest to woe. This was a doctrine that did away with the necessity of man making the smallest endeavour after righteousness, from exercising the least self-control; of man feeling the slightest compunction after committing the grossest sins. Augustine sent his treatise to Abbot[201] Valentine of Adrumetium. Valentine, in calm self-complacency, sitting among the ashes of dead lusts, highly approved of this scheme of Predestination. But a monk, Felix, when he heard it read, sprang to his feet and uttered his protest. This protest was reported to Augustine, who boiled over with bad temper at any opposition; and he wrote a violent rejoinder “On Grace and Freewill,” in which he insisted again on his doctrine of Fatalism.

The theses of Augustine reached Lerins, the nursery of the Bishops of Gaul, and were read there with indignation and disgust. The monks drew up a reply to Augustine that was temperate in tone and sound in argument. Grace, they said, was mighty, but man had freewill, and could respond to it or rebel against it.

Augustine answered. He attempted to browbeat these insignificant monks and clergy on a petty islet in the sea. But they were not men to be intimidated by his great name and intellectual powers, not even by his sincere piety.

They argued that if his doctrine were true, then farewell for ever and a day to all teaching of Christian morality. Man was but a cloud, blown about by the wind, where the wind listed to carry it.

But for these stubborn monks of Lerins it is possible enough that Western Christendom would have accepted a kismet as fatal as that of Mohammedanism, and that, indeed, it would have differed in name and certain outside trimmings only from the Moslem religion. Rome was much inclined to accept Augustine’s view, and give it definite sanction. But the Gaulish bishops, bred in the nursery of Lerins, would not hear of this. Finally, in the Council of Orange, in 529, they laid down the[202] main principle: “We do not believe,” they boldly said, “that God has predestined any men to be evil.”

S. Patrick, the apostle of Ireland, was at one time a pupil at Lerins. The “Confessions of Augustine” are indeed a beautiful picture of the workings of a human soul; but not more tender and beautiful than that revelation of a noble heart given to us in the “Confession of Patrick.”

Lerins—that is, especially Saint Honorat—was the refuge of the intellect, the science, the literature, of a civilised world going to pieces into utter wreckage.

As Guizot well said:—

“For culture of mind, one thing is requisite, and that is quiet. When the social condition of the world is in convulsion, and all about is barbarity and misery, then study suffers, is neglected and declines. Taste for truth, the sentiment for what is beautiful, are plants as delicate as they are noble. For their cultivation a sweet atmosphere is necessary; they bow their heads and are blighted by storm. Study, literature, intellectual activity, could not battle against general discouragement, universal disaster; they must have a holdfast somewhere, attach themselves to popular convictions, or perish. The Christian religion furnished them with the means of living. By allying themselves to that, philosophy and literature were saved from the ruin that menaced them. One may say, without exaggeration, that the human mind, proscribed, storm-tossed, found its only possible refuge in churches and monasteries. It clung as a suppliant to the altars, and pleaded to be allowed to live under their shelter, and at their service, till better times should arrive, when they would expand in the open air.”

Lerins suffered repeatedly and frightfully from the Saracens. Again and again was it ravaged. In 725, Porcarius, the abbot, and five hundred monks, were butchered by the Moors.



The interesting fortress, with its cloister and quadrangle in the centre, was erected by the monks as a place of refuge from the Moors and Algerine pirates.

But worse times were in store, when the Crown came to look on the great abbeys as fiefs, to be given in commendam to laymen, to bastards, to favourites, to harlots, who might enjoy the revenues and ignore the duties. Naturally enough, in such a condition of affairs, Lerins declined. It became a place to which younger sons were relegated, vicious monks were banished; it was resolved into a bastille for evildoers, and sank to so low an ebb that, as a scandal, the abbey was suppressed the year before the Revolution came, and swept all monastic institutions away.

To the west of the Île Ste. Marguerite, in the sea pours up a copious spring of fresh water. When the surface of the sea is calm, the upflow can be easily distinguished by the undulations. There are other such springs in the Gulf of Jouan, near Antibes, also at the mouth of the Var; near the shore at Portissol, west of S. Nazaire; another again near Bandol. In 1838, a M. Bazin tapped this latter when sinking a well at Cadière, and such an abundance of water poured forth that the well had to be abandoned. Off Cassis is a very considerable spring in the sea, so strong that it carries floating bodies for a couple of miles from its source. But the largest of all is in the Gulf of Spezzia, and is called La Polla. This has been enclosed by the Italian government, and vessels supply themselves with fresh water from it.

The rain which falls on the limestone causses, that[204] form the terrace to the Maritime Alps, is at once absorbed, and descends through fissures to deep channels, where the accumulated water flows and breaks forth in what are locally called foux, often in large volume, and feed the rivers. Sometimes the streams drop into pot-holes; these are called embues. The Siagne has its source in the Place de la Caille, an ancient lake bed, but sinks, and comes forth 1,500 feet below in the foux of the Siagne. This river receives the Siagnole, which derives its water from a number of these springs that spout out of the rock. But in some cases the rain-water sinks to a level still lower, and then breaks forth in the sea itself.




A shifted site—Ancient Nike—Cemenelium—History of Nice—Saracens at Cap Ferrat—Bertrand de Balb—The barony of Beuil—The Castle—Internecine strife—Truce—The marble cross—Catherine Ségurane—Destruction of the Castle—Annexation of Nice to France—Cathedral—Church of the Port—Masséna—Garibaldi—General Marceau—Rancher—Story of Collet—Cagnes—Painting by Carlone—Eze—David’s painting—Puget Teniers—Touët-de-Beuil.

NICE is a town that has uneasily shifted its seat some three or four times. Whether it were directly settled from Phocœa or mediately from Marseilles, we do not know. But a Greek city it was, as its name implies, Nike, Victory, speaking of a fight there, engaged either against the Phœnicians, who resisted their settling into quarters already appropriated, or else against the native Ligurians.

Anciently, the river Paillon flowed into the tiny bay of Lympia, but it brought down so much rubble as to threaten to choke it, and huge embankments of stone were built to divert the course of the river to the farther side of the calcareous rock of the Château. These have been discovered in the process of excavations in the Riquier quarter. When the Greeks settled here, they found the conditions perfect for their requirements. The Port of Lympia then extended inland to where[206] is now the rue du Paillon. It was flanked on the east by the steep heights of Mont Boron, on the west by the crag of the Château, which latter served as acropolis and was crowned by a temple dedicated probably to Artemis. The site is thought to be where now stands the chapel of the Ste. Suaire, which is square and on old foundations. The Phocœan town lay in the lap of the port of Lympia.

But when the province became Roman, then the town occupied by the great families of consular origin, the officials of government, and all the hangers-on, was at Cemenelium, now Cimiez, on the high ground above modern Nice, and dominating the ancient port. Here had been an older Ligurian fortified town, of which some remains exist in the huge blocks laid on one another without cement that formed the defending wall, and on top of which the Romans built their ramparts. The citadel was at the extreme south point of the plateau. In Cemenelium the principal monuments were the palace of the governor of the province, a temple of Diana, another of Apollo, an amphitheatre and baths. All have been destroyed and have disappeared save the wreckage of the amphitheatre, traversed by a road. Roman sepulchral monuments, urns, mosaics, fragments of marble columns, statuettes, have been unearthed in considerable numbers. The Phocœan colonies established on the littoral of the Maritime Alps fell into complete decay when the Romans occupied the country, and towards the end of the third century Nice dwindled to almost nothing.

In 578 the Lombards, under the ferocious Alboin, swept over the country and destroyed Cimiez and Nice. The Franks drove back the Lombards into Italy.[207] Cimiez remained a heap of ruins, but Nice was repeopled and rebuilt, not, however, near the port, but on the height of Le Château. The population of this part of the old province revolted against the Franks; and Nice entered into a league with Genoa and other important towns on the Italian Riviera. In 741, however, the province again returned under the domination of the Franks, and it was governed by counts appointed by the sovereign, who resided at Nice in the castle. Here, hard by on the rock, was the cathedral, and down the north-west slope, that was least precipitous, were lodged the private houses. In 775 the abbey of S. Pontius was founded by Siagrius, Bishop of Nice, and Charlemagne, who is supposed to have been his uncle, gave the funds for the building and endowment. This abbey was erected on the rock on which, according to tradition, S. Pontius had suffered martyrdom by decapitation.

Profiting by the break-up of the Carolingian dynasty, in 880, Boso, whose sister was married to Charles the Bald, seized on that part of Burgundy which is on this side the Jura, and along with Provence constituted a kingdom, with himself at its head.

In 889 the devastations committed by the Saracens extended along the coast, and one town after another was sacked and burnt by them. These ravages continued till 973, when William, Count of Provence, and Gibelin Grimaldi freed the land from this plague. The Saracens had a fortress at Saint Hospice, a curious spur which strikes out from the peninsula of Cap Ferrat, whence they had harassed the neighbourhood of Nice, but had been unable to storm the fortified town on the rock.


Grimaldi destroyed the Saracen citadel, and left of it nothing standing save the tower that remains to this day. The captured Saracens were quartered in a portion of Nice still called lou canton dei Sarraïns, and were employed by him in strengthening or rebuilding the walls of the town.

To the Saracens are attributed the subterranean magazines, or silos, that are found at S. Hospice, S. Jean, Trinité-Victor, and elsewhere, to contain the plunder they acquired in their marauding expeditions. These are vaulted over, and are still in some instances used as cisterns or store places; but the evidence that they were the work of the Moors is inconclusive.

Among those who assisted the Count of Provence against the Saracens was one Bertrand de Balbs, and in reward for his services he was given in fief the barony of Beuil, a vast territory stretching from the Estéron to the Alps, and comprising twenty-two towns and townlets. His descendants kept the barony till 1315, when William de Balbs made himself so odious to his vassals by his tyranny that they murdered him. A brother of the Grimaldi of Monaco had married the only daughter of William de Balbs, and as there was no son the fief passed to him, and he became the founder of the family of Grimaldi of Beuil. The barony remained in the Grimaldi family till 1621, when it was united to the county of Nice.

They ran, however, a chance of losing it in 1508.

Towards the close of 1507, George Grimaldi, Baron of Beuil, his son John, Augustine Grimaldi, Bishop of Grasse, and Nicolas Grimaldi, seigneur of Antibes, formed a plot to deliver over the county of Nice to Louis XII. The Duke of Savoy was warned, and he[209] summoned George and his son to appear before him. They replied with insolence and defied him, relying on French support. But at that moment Louis XII. and the Duke of Savoy had arranged their little quarrel, and when John Grimaldi asked for aid from the Governor of Provence, he was refused. Meantime the garrison of Nice marched against Beuil. The castle, built on a height and surrounded by strong walls, could have stood a long siege, when a tragic event put an end to the struggle. The Baron de Beuil was murdered by his valet, who cut his throat whilst shaving him.

The Duke of Savoy outlawed John, the son, and gave the barony to Honoré Grimaldi, brother of George, who had steadily refused to be drawn into the conspiracy.

But to return to Nice.

In 1229 a party in the town revolted against the Count of Provence, and expelled those who were loyal to him. Thereupon Romeo de Villeneuve marched on Nice, took the town, and set to work to strengthen the fortifications of the castle, which in future would control it. At that time the castle consisted of a donjon, with an enclosure that had four turrets at the angles. Outside this Romeo built a strong wall that enclosed within the area the cathedral and the houses of the nobility; he cut deep fosses through the rock, and furnished the gates with drawbridges. Later, after the invention of powder, the fortress was further transformed in 1338.

After the death of Joanna I. of Naples, Nice took the side of Charles of Durazzo, and in 1388 was besieged by Louis II. of Anjou. The Niçois, unable without help to hold out against him, offered the town to Amadeus, Duke of Savoy, and he entered and took possession.


The desolating wars of Charles V. and Francis I. made a desert of Provence. Nice, as a town of the Duke of Savoy, met with only the temporary annoyance of the Spanish and German and Italian troops passing through it to cross the Var. In 1538 Pope Paul III. proposed a meeting between the two sovereigns at Nice, and he met them there on June 18th, 1535; a truce was concluded, to last for ten years. A cross of marble marks the spot where the conference took place. It was thrown down in 1793, in the Revolutionary period, but was again set up some twenty years later.

Paul III., in proposing the meeting of the two rival monarchs, had not only an eye to the welfare of the people of Italy, harassed by incessant and desolating war, but also to the interest of his own family. He had been elected Pope in 1534, and at once created Alexander, child of one of his illegitimate sons, Cardinal at the age of fourteen, Archbishop of Anagni when the boy was only fifteen, and Archbishop of Mont Real and Patriarch of Jerusalem when aged sixteen. Another grandson, Ranncio, he created Archbishop of Naples when aged fourteen, and Archbishop of Ravenna at the age of nineteen. Now, when meeting the two sovereigns, he negotiated with Francis to have his granddaughter united to a prince of the house of Valois; but Francis procrastinated, and the marriage did not take place. He was more successful in marrying his grandson Octavio to Margaret of Austria, natural daughter of Charles V.

But that Paul did use his utmost endeavours to obtain a truce of ten years is shown by the testimony of the Venetian ambassador who was present at Nice on the occasion of the meeting. He could find no[211] words sufficiently strong in which to eulogise the zeal and patience displayed by the Pope on this occasion.

Paul, however, never lost sight of the advantage of his family. At the time of the Conference he succeeded in getting Novara from the Emperor, for his illegitimate son, Pier Luigi, for whom he had already alienated Parma, and raised it into a Duchy, at the expense of the States of the Church.

The implacable jealousy entertained against one another by the two monarchs led to the war breaking out again; Francis I. entered into alliance with the Turks under Barbarossa, and a combined army laid siege to Nice in August, 1543. The Turkish cannons completely destroyed the Convent of Ste. Croix, in which Pope Paul had lodged in 1538, and broke down large portions of the city ramparts. It was then that occurred an incident that has never been forgotten in Nice. Catherine Ségurane, commonly called Malfacia (the misshapen), a washerwoman, was carrying provisions on the wall to some of the defenders, when she saw that the Turks had put up a scaling ladder, and that a captain was leading the party, and had reached the parapet. She rushed at him, beat him on the head with her washing-bat, and thrust down the ladder, which fell with all those on it. Then, hastening to the nearest group of Niçois soldiery, she told them what she had done, and they, electrified by her example, threw open a postern, made a sortie, and drove the Turks back to the shore. According to one version of the story, Catherine gripped the standard in the hand of the Turk, wrenched it from him, and with the butt end thrust him back.

The story first appears in a “Discours sur l’ancien monastère des religieuses de Nice,” 1608. Honoré[212] Pastorelli, the author, merely says that a standard of the Turks was taken from the ensign by a citizeness named Donna Maufaccia, who fought at the Tour des Caïres, where were the Turkish batteries. A second authority, in 1654, Antonio Fighier, says that the event took place on the Feast of Our Lady in August; that the woman seized the staff of the standard and flung it into the moat.

Some weeks later the Turks penetrated into the town and carried off 2,500 prisoners to their galleys; but these were retaken by the Sicilian fleet.

The war between Charles V. and Francis I. was terminated by the Treaty of Crépy in 1544. By it the House of Savoy recovered all the places in the Duchy taken by the French. Duke Charles III. ordered the complete restoration and remodelling of the defences of the town and castle. In the wars of Louis XIV., Nice was attacked again and again, and in 1706 was taken by the Duke of Berwick. By order of Louis, the castle was then completely destroyed by gunpowder. Thus disappeared this noble fortress after twenty centuries of existence; and now of it almost nothing remains. By the peace of Utrecht in 1713, Nice was restored to Savoy. In 1748 Charles Emanuel of Savoy had the port of Lympia cleared out and made serviceable. It had been choked up for some centuries. It was not till 1860 that the county of Nice was definitely annexed to France. Hitherto the Var had been the boundary between Italy and France, now the delimitation is the Torrent of S. Louis. The natural demarcation is unquestionably the col of La Turbie and the Tête du Chien, and Monaco, about which more presently. I have given but a meagre sketch of the history of[213] Nice; but the reader would have no patience with all the petty troubles—great to those who endured them—which afflicted Nice and its vicinity through many centuries. Now it enjoys peace, and thrives, not only as a city, doing a large business, but also as a vestibule to Monte Carlo. The cathedral, that once stood near the castle on the rock, was demolished in 1656, and the present building—a rococo construction in the barbaric taste of that period—was erected below the rocky height. On December 16th, the Bishop Désiré de Palletier was contemplating the dome that was in process of construction, when some of the material fell on his head and killed him. In 1705, on March 16th, a bomb fell in the cathedral and exploded, killing many people. If it had blown the whole church to atoms it would have caused no loss to art.

Curiously enough an accident happened of a somewhat similar character to the church of the Port. The design for this monstrosity was sent by a Turin architect. The cupola was to be of wood, covered with lead. But the clerk of the works, in carrying out the design, substituted stone for wood. The result was that, one Sunday morning, just after the consecration of the church, the cupola fell in. Happily it was during the first mass. The priest at the altar, hearing a cracking above him, bolted into the vestry. An old woman, who was the sole assistant, fled into the porch, and no lives were lost when the whole structure collapsed.

Nice has produced some men of note—as Masséna, “L’enfant chéri de la victoire”—whose real name was Menasseh; he was the son of a petty Jewish taverner, and was born in 1756. What a simmering cauldron that was in Europe, which brought to the surface Bernadotte, the[214] saddler’s son! Murat issued from a little public house. Augereau, the child of a domestic servant; Masséna, the Hebrew waif and stray. Masséna was gifted by nature with a powerful frame of body, and with indomitable resolution. He was considered the most skilful tactician among Napoleon’s generals, and on the field of battle he was remarkable for coolness. He had, moreover, the invaluable quality in a commander of not being dispirited through defeat. His faults were primarily rapacity and avarice. In Italy, when commanding the French army of occupation, he “behaved in such a way,” as Miot de Melito informs us, “that the French troops, left without pay in the midst of the immense riches which he appropriated to himself, revolted, and refused to recognise his authority. His pilferings, his shameless avidity, tarnished the laurels with which he had covered himself.” He brought down on himself repeatedly the censure of Napoleon. But the greed was born in the bone. He could not keep his fingers off what was of money value, and might be turned into coin.

When Bonaparte assumed the command in Italy, he employed Masséna actively on all occasions of importance, and so justly appreciated the brilliancy and military talents he possessed, that he surnamed him “the favoured child of victory.” In 1798 he was appointed to the command of the army, which under General Berthier was to occupy Rome and the Papal States. His appointment was as distasteful to the soldiers as to the inhabitants of the subjected country, for they both became victims of his insatiable avarice, and the multiplied complaints made of his peculations at last forced him to resign the command and to return to Paris.[215] Whilst Masséna was in Rome stuffing his pockets, a paper was affixed to the statue of Pasquin, with this dialogue inscribed on it:—

“What is the time of day, Pasquin?”
Pasquin: “The time of thieves.”

Although Masséna had exposed his person in so many battles without receiving a wound, he had the misfortune to lose an eye whilst in a sporting party, some shot having accidentally struck it.

That which redounded most to the fame of Masséna was his gallant defence of Genoa, in 1800, after the garrison had been reduced to eat their boots. The defence had made the Austrian army lose valuable time, and afforded Bonaparte the requisite time to collect sufficient forces to cross the Alps and crush the Austrians at Marengo. After that decisive day, the first Consul who desired to return to France, remitted the command of the troops to Masséna; but only for a while. A certain feeling of hostility reigned between the Republican General and the future Emperor. Masséna was envious of the fame of Napoleon, and resented the distance that separated him from an old comrade in arms. After the coup d’état of the 18th Brumaire, he was admitted to the legislative corps, and voted against granting the consulate for life to Napoleon, and persistently sided with the opposition;—not out of principle, for of that Masséna did not possess a particle, but because he was jealous of Napoleon’s greatness and increasing power.

However, Napoleon could not afford to overlook him when conferring honours, and Masséna was content to accept these, along with the money granted him to[216] maintain his honours. He was created Duke of Rivoli and Prince of Esslingen. But he was not grateful, and of all the marshals of France he showed himself most eager to rally to the Restoration and to recognise Louis XVIII. He had sufficient keenness to see that Napoleon’s star was in decline, and all that he really was solicitous for was to keep hold of his hoarded treasures. He died at Ruel, his country seat near Paris, in 1817.

This upstart family still flourishes on the accumulated plunder, and still retains the titles of Duke of Rivoli and Prince of Esslingen, but is no longer of the Jewish persuasion.

The great square at Nice is called after Masséna, but another square bears a far more reputable name—that of Garibaldi, who was also a native of Nice, born there on July 4th, 1807.

General Marceau’s ashes rested for some years at Nice. He fell near Coblenz in 1796, and his body was burnt and transported, as he had desired, to Nice, to lie beside the body of his sister Emma, when it should be her time to depart this life. She died at the age of eighty-one in 1834, and was laid beside the ashes of her brother. Marceau had never been shown the smallest token of love by his mother, and he had been brought up by his sister, to whom he was devotedly attached. His last words were: “Je ne regrette qu’elle. Je lui dois ce que je puis valoir.”

It is a pity that his wishes were so far disregarded that in 1889 his remains were disinterred and transferred to the Panthéon, at Paris.

Nice has produced a poet, the Jasmin of this part of Provence; his name is Rancher, and he was born in[217] 1785, on July 20th, two months before due; he was so small that a bon-bon box was extemporised as his cradle. Indeed, it was supposed that he was dead, and he was to have been carried to burial in his bon-bon box, when his father, who was a surgeon, stooping over him, heard a faint sigh, and preparations for the funeral were stopped. He became secretary to the Count de Cessola, president of the Senate of Nice, and then under-secretary of the Tribunal of Commerce, an office he retained till his death in 1843. He wrote songs and composed music to them, also a little vaudeville, and a poem “La Nemaïda,” which was serio-comic, and turned on a local incident, a dispute between the beadles and sacristans of the church of Ste. Françoise de Paule. His little vaudeville led to his imprisonment. It had been composed for performance before King Charles Felix and his queen, Marie Christine, when they were at Nice at Christmas, 1829. He ventured without authorisation to introduce on the stage his nephew, aged nine, dressed as a peasant, and to set him to play a little piece on the violin. This had not been submitted to the proper authority and allowed; accordingly the Count de Faverger, Governor of Nice, ordered the incarceration of the audacious poet. But this bit of red-tapism was too much, and Rancher was released in a couple of hours. He revenged himself on the governor by a satirical and burlesque song, that ran like wildfire through the town. A street in Nice bears Rancher’s name.

Nice was the scene of the sacrilegious rascalities of a rogue, Collet, whose story, as he operated at Fréjus and at Draguignan as well as at Nice, may be told.

Collet was born at Belley, in the department of Aine,[218] of worthy and pious parents. He entered the army after having gone through a course of studies, and became sub-lieutenant in 1796, and was at the siege of Brescia. But, disgusted with military service, he deserted and went to Rome. Whilst there he heard of the wreck of a merchant vessel off Civita Vecchia under a young captain named Tolosant, of Lyons, with the loss of all hands. At once he saw his chance. He forged papers, got a ring cut with the Tolosant arms, and passed himself off as the captain, who had escaped. By this means he deceived a worthy priest, who was steward to Cardinal Fesch; and as the Cardinal was acquainted with the family of Tolosant, he introduced the soi-disant captain to him. The Cardinal at once insisted on Collet taking up his abode with him, and he even presented him to the Pope, who gave the rascal his apostolic benediction. As a friend of Cardinal Fesch, Napoleon’s kinsman, and an inmate of his house, Collet made the round of the bankers of Rome, discussed with them schemes for making money, and drew loans from them to the amount of 60,000 francs. Then Collet was invested with a charge to perform some ecclesiastical commissions in Lombardy. He left—disappeared—just as suspicions began to be entertained that he was not what he pretended to be, and turned up at Mondovi. There he gave himself out to be a gentleman of means, and he speedily ingratiated himself into the society of the young bloods there. As Mondovi was a dull town, he proposed to brisk it up by the institution of a theatre and by amateur performances. This proposition was cordially accepted, a committee was appointed, and Collet was named costumier; he was to purchase a complete theatrical wardrobe. All who were to act[219] were required to pay for their own costumes, and the money was put into Collet’s hands to furnish these.

All at once the costumier vanished, carrying off with him all the dresses, those of clergy, bishops, generals, civic authorities, with ribbons and crosses of various orders.

He next turned up at Sion, in the Vallais, now in the cassock of a priest, and furnished with fictitious letters of Orders. There he presented himself to the bishop, and so ingratiated himself into his favour that the bishop nominated him to one of his best cures, which happened to fall vacant. He was instituted, and for five months said mass, preached, married, baptized, catechised the children, and consoled the dying.

Now the church was in a dilapidated condition, and the late rector had begun a collection for its rebuilding. Collet called together the committee of the building project, and learned that the sum already collected was 30,000 francs. He at once volunteered to contribute 50,000 francs to the fund, if he were made treasurer, and suffered to build on to the new church a chapel in which his own mortal remains might repose after his death; for never, never, oh never, would he leave his dear parishioners! A ready consent was given, and the sum collected was put into his hands. An architect was engaged, designs for the new church were procured, the old building was pulled down, the material sold, and the sum produced by the sale was lodged in the hands of Collet. Then he suggested that the mayor and the architect should accompany him to Sion to buy the ornaments and paintings requisite for the new church. Accordingly they departed in a carriage. Chalice, tabernacle, three marble altars, candelabra, were bought, but not paid for. At the recommendation of Collet, the[220] mayor returned to the village, carrying with him the purchases; and the architect departed to engage masons and carpenters.

No sooner was Collet left than he took post-horses and departed for Strasburg. There he vanished. His next appearance was in Italy, shifting his quarters and changing his costume repeatedly. At Savona, on the Riviera, he persuaded a banker to let him have 10,000 francs. Next he appeared at Nice, in a shovel hat, a purple cassock, and wearing a gold pectoral cross, as Dominic Pasqualini, Bishop of Manfredonia. He called on the Bishop of Nice, showed him the bull of his institution, forged by himself, and so completely deceived him, that the bishop offered him the most cordial welcome, showed him hospitality, took him into the seminary and asked him to examine the seminarists. Collet saw the risk he ran, and evaded it shrewdly. “Monseignore,” said he, “I can see by the look of their faces that they are a set of asses. I do not wish to hurt their feelings by exposing their ignorance—I being a stranger.”

“Well, then,” said the Bishop of Nice, “if you will not examine them, you shall ordain them; there are thirty-three to receive deacon’s and sub-deacon’s orders next Sunday.”

Collet could not refuse. Accordingly, vested in full pontificals, in the Cathedral of Nice, he committed this sacrilegious act.

After this, not seeing his way to making much money at Nice, he departed, changed his costume, and appeared at Fréjus as plenipotentiary of the Emperor, an inspector-general, charged with seeing to the equipment of the army of Catalonia. He presented his credentials,[221] which seemed to be in order; he took a high hand, and required the head of the Gensdarmerie to furnish him with a mounted escort to Draguignan, and he sent on an orderly before him to announce his purpose in visiting the town, requiring proper lodgings and provisions to be furnished for him. Then he appeared at Draguignan, with breast covered with Orders, and there he formed his staff. A retired captain became his aide-de-camp; the son of the Sub-Prefect of Toulon he graciously received as his secretary; he named two officers of artillery, one as paymaster, the other as his steward; and finally, with a staff of twenty persons, he went to Marseilles, where he so imposed upon the authorities that he was allowed to draw 130,000 francs from the government treasury. Thence he went to Montpellier, and there his star began to pale. One day, after having reviewed the troops, he dined with the Préfet, to whom he had promised the cordon of Grand Officer of the Legion of Honour, when, during the meal, the hôtel of the préfeture was surrounded by gensdarmes, a party of police entered the dining-room, and the Organiser of the Army of Catalonia was arrested and led to gaol. All his staff shared his fate, but were released after an imprisonment of twenty days.

One day the Préfet was giving a dinner party, and, to amuse his guests, offered to produce the prisoner who had so befooled him and the rest of the good people of Montpellier. Accordingly he sent to the gaol for Collet, who expected every moment to be brought forth and shot. Three gensdarmes conducted Collet from prison to the préfeture, and till the guests were ready to see him he was thrust into an ante-room, and two gensdarmes were posted at the door.


Collet’s quick eye detected, lying in a corner, the white cap and apron of a cook, and a dish of caramel on the table. In the twinkling of an eye he had dressed himself as a cook, taken up the dish, kicked at the door, till the gensdarmes opened and allowed him to pass forth between them; they supposing him to be the cook.

Collet slipped out of the house and concealed himself next door. A hue and cry ensued, and the alarm bell rang; the gensdarmes galloped along the roads about Montpellier, and Collet looked on complacently from the window, till, after fifteen days, the search for him was relaxed, and then he left the town.

After having rambled about for a while without leaving traces of his presence, he reappeared in the department of Tarn, where he presented himself before the superior of the Schools of Christian Brothers, and informed him that he was a gentleman of private means and of a devout turn of soul, and that it was his desire to found a novitiate for the Brothers, and that he had a sum of 40,000 francs at his disposal for that purpose. Then he visited a M. Lajus, a Toulouse merchant, and entered into negotiation with him for the sale of a house he had, and he informed him that he was ex-sub-prefect of the department of Aine. M. Lajus accompanied him to the house, and allowed Collet to order and see to the carrying out of alterations, the pulling down of walls, etc., under his eye—before a sou had been paid of the stipulated price. Then Collet returned to the mother house of the Christian Brothers and urged the director to visit the new novitiate. The worthy man was so delighted that he gave a holiday to all the inmates of the establishment, that they might go together to inspect the fresh acquisition.


“But,” said the reverend superior, “who is to look after the house whilst we are away?”

“Have no concern about that,” said Collet. “I will keep guard.”

So all these green goslings trotted off on a visit of inspection, to decide which room was to be fitted up as a chapel, which was to be library, which were to be devoted to studies, and which to serve as dormitories.

Meanwhile Collet had free range over the college. He broke open the treasury of the society and filled his pockets with the money found there. He visited the chapel, and carried off all the sacred vessels; he cleared out all the desks and lockers, and left behind, as the superior afterwards said, “nothing but my spectacles, to enable me another time to look sharper after rogues.”

Collet departed, with all his spoil, and took the road to Anjou; he next turned up at Bessac in a hotel, where, through vague hints thrown out, he allowed it to be supposed that he was the Emperor Napoleon, escaped from Ste. Helena, and in hiding—awaiting his opportunity to reascend the imperial throne. The loyal Bonapartists called on him and were graciously received, and they offered him money which he also graciously accepted and promised to repay with usury and with honours when he came to his own again. At last the mayor became alarmed, called on him, and respectfully intimated that he himself was in danger of being called to account for harbouring in the place the illustrious fugitive; that personally he was devoted to his imperial master, and that for this very reason he was solicitous for his welfare. He feared that the secret of his presence at Bessac was divulged, and it was quite possible that an[224] attempt would be made to assassinate the fugitive. He accordingly strongly urged Collet to remove to a place where he was not in such danger.

Collet accordingly departed; went to Rochebeaucourt, where he took up his lodging with the commissary of the police.

In the meantime accurate descriptions of Collet had been sent throughout France to the police, and this commissary had received them. Yet never for a moment did it occur to him that the gentleman of aristocratic appearance and with a purse well lined, who paid so promptly and liberally for his pension, could be the man so much sought for.

From Rochebeaucourt Collet went to Le Mans, where he figured as a well-to-do bourgeois, devoted to charitable actions; a man of irreproachable life. But there, finally, he was arrested, tried, and sentenced to twenty years’ hard labour, and to be branded as a felon. In prison he remained for twenty years, and died on the eve of the day when his chains were to be struck off, in November, 1840.

This extraordinary story does not so much prove how gullible men are, as how good and trustworthy most men are, so that when we do come across a rogue who takes advantage of us, it is like an earthquake that shakes us out of our moral equilibrium.

Some very interesting excursions may be made from Nice to places accessible by electric tram or by train.



Cagnes was a castle of the Grimaldi. The little town occupies a hog’sback, the summit of the hill is crowned by the château, and the one street leading to it runs up the spine of hill, with houses on each side clinging to the steep sides. The castle is not very picturesque, but it has in the midst a quaint court, surrounded by galleries and stairs. The great salle had its ceiling painted by Carlone in the seventeenth century. It represents the fall of Phaeton, and is one of those subjects in the debased style of the period that are tours de force in perspective. It represents an arcade of Corinthian pillars with windows between them painted on the flat surface, seen in perspective from a single point only. The castle was occupied by the Allies in 1815; a Piedmontese garrison was placed in it, and the soldiers amused themselves with firing at the head of Phaeton.

The painter spent three years over this absurd work, and when leaving it complete he wept and said, “Bella mea cascata di Phaëton, io non piu te vedere, mai, mai, mai!” It is really not worth looking at, save as an example of the degradation of art. The castle no longer appertains to the Grimaldi; it has been sold.

Eze is reached by tram, passing the beautiful bay of Villefranche, to the foot of the precipice on which it stands, and from whence it is reached by a scramble up a zig-zag path in about an hour. It is a curious example of a town, built on the summit of a rock, walled about, once with its castle planted in its midst, where it might, it was hoped, be safe from Moorish and Algerine pirates. Once an important place, with its consuls, it has sunk to ruin, and is now occupied by only ninety people. The church was built in 1772. The castle is levelled to the foundations, but the town walls remain.

In 1770 the Corniche Road did not exist. David the Painter was on his way to Italy to study at Rome. He arrived at Eze at night, and the curé very kindly took in the poor and footsore young artist. He was interested in David, and gave him a letter of introduction to a[226] kinsman, the Prior Fighera, in Rome. This opened to David many doors in the capital of Western Christendom, and David received orders for pictures. In gratitude he sent a painting of S. John the Baptist to his friend, the curé of Eze, for his new church. About the year 1880 this picture vanished. The Administration des Beaux Arts instituted an inquiry, and ascertained that the Consuls of Eze had sold the painting to an Englishman for 500 francs, whereas it was worth 100,000 francs. That picture is now in the National Gallery.

In the little cemetery of Eze is laid a Swiss woman, assassinated in 1902 by Vidal, a woman-murderer. From Nice a line takes to Puget Théniers, on the Var. The line is full of interest, passing places rich in striking objects, and allowing of branch excursions up the Vesubie, the Timée, the Cians, with scenery of the grandest character. It, moreover, enables the visitor to explore strange villages, such as Touët-de-Beuil, plastered against the limestone rocks. The Clus of the Cians at Touët, where the river cleaves through the Jura limestone stained various colours, is as fine as anything of the kind. There is hardly a village or town accessible from this line that does not repay a visit, and which will not fill a sketch-book or furnish a photographer with subjects.



Beauty of site—Phœnician shrine of Melkarth—Meanness of modern buildings—The Cathedral and Palace—Extent of the principality—The Grimaldi—Rainier II.—Charles II. at Crecy—Antonio Grimaldi—Lucien’s murder—Murder of Hercules I.—Louis I.: his gibbets—Roquebrune and Mentone revolt—The gambling establishment of Charles III.—M. Blanc.—Les Spélunges—Marriage of Prince of Monaco annulled—La Turbie—Trophy of Augustus—Monte Carlo—S. Devota—The Casino: importance to the principality—Roulette—Systems—Charges of Captain Weihe: improbable because unnecessary—Cave of La Veille—Death of the Duke of York.

MONACO is assuredly the loveliest spot on the entire Ligurian coast. More the pity that it should be delivered over to such evil associations as cling to it.

Monaco itself is a limestone crag rising out of the sea, linked to the mainland by a neck, the rocks on all sides precipitous, but cut into, to form an approach to the town. Above it towers the ridge that extends from the Mont Agel, with its fortress gleaming white against a gentian-blue sky, by La Turbie, “hunc usque Italia, abhinc Gallia,” and the Tête-de-Chien, formerly Testa-de-Camp.

The rock of Monaco takes its name from Monoikos. It was dedicated to the Phœnician Melkarth, the One god in a house, who would suffer no other idols in his[228] temple, and that temple anciently crowned the rock. The adoption by the Grimaldi of a monk as supporter to the arms is due to a misapprehension that Monaco is derived from Monacus. Unhappily, matchlessly beautiful as is the situation, the buildings of Monaco do not conduce to picturesqueness. The palace is mean and ugly to the last degree. It has four towers, erected in 1215 by the Genoese architect Fulco del Castello, but the domestic buildings connecting these towers are of various dates, and all bad. The palace has not a single bold and characteristic feature to give it dignity.

A vast sum—from the gambling tables—has been spent upon a cathedral, designed by Charles Lenormand. Internally, and indeed externally, from near at hand it is fine and dignified. But from a distance it produces an unpleasing effect. It has no tall towers, no stately dome; but at the rear, a monstrous hump, designed to make a display of the West front, otherwise meaningless. The distant effect of this church is that of an infant peacock, spreading its tail before it has any feathers to display.

There is not a single commanding feature in the bunch of buildings huddled together on the summit of the rock, and old Mentone, with its commonplace church tower, presents a nobler aspect than does Monaco. No finer site in the world could be found, and none has been so wasted through incapacity to utilise it.

Monaco is an independent principality, under an autocratic government. It, its prince, its gambling hell, are under the protection of France. The principality comprises 5,436 acres, which would be the estate of a petty English squire. But the Sovereign has his Council of State, his nobles, and his bishop at command.[229] Also an army, consisting of five officers and seventy men. Formerly there was a guard of honour in addition, whose function it was to blow trumpets and present arms when the Prince entered or left the main gate of the palace. But this guard of honour was dissolved, February 1st, 1904, and the soldiers of the standing army now perform the duties formerly devolving on the guard. The dissolution of the corps must have resembled the famous dismissal by Bombastes Furioso: “Begone, brave army, and don’t kick up a row!”

The six bronze cannon in front of the palace were given by Louis XV. Each has its name, and they bear the inscription: “Ultima ratio regum.”

The Grimaldi were a Genoese family, and they first appear in history as assisting William, Count of Provence, and the Emperor Otho I., in expelling the Saracens. For their services, the Emperor conferred Monaco on one of them, others were rewarded with fiefs, near Nice, and in the Maures, as already told.

A claim is made to descent from Grimoald Mayor of the palace, who died 656, but it is baseless, and rests on no better foundation than identity of name; for patronymics were not then in use.

The descendants of Gibelin Grimaldi, possessors of the fief of Monaco, were at first only seigneurs, but eventually became sovereigns, and the family obtained large tracts of land, and acquired great power in Provence and Liguria. Till the seventeenth century they had a flotilla of galleys destined to stop all coasters and exact a toll. This fleet also served in the wars in which the neighbouring states were involved.

Rainier II., Prince of Monaco, in 1302, entered the service of Philip the Fair, and was the first to lead[230] a Genoese fleet in 1304 through the Straits of Gibraltar into the ocean. He conducted sixteen galleys to the coast of Flanders, and encountered the Flemish fleet before Ziricksee. He concerned himself little about the French vessels that had joined him, and allowed all of them to be taken; but as the Flemings were felicitating themselves on their victory, he returned with the rising tide, pierced their line, destroyed a number of their ships, and took prisoner Guy de Namur, son of the Count of Flanders.

Charles II. of Monaco was made governor of Provence and admiral of the fleet of Genoa. In 1338 he directed twenty galleys against the Flemings; in 1346, along with Antonio Doria, he led thirty against the English. The troops were disembarked, and joined the French army which encountered the English at Creçy. The Genoese were esteemed the best archers in the world. Grimaldi and Doria disposed them to the best advantage, and they would have done great execution in the English ranks, but that the rain had relaxed the strings of their bows, and, says Froissart:—

“They hooted, advancing with their crossbows presented, and began to shoot. The English archers then advanced one step, and shot their arrows with such force and speed that it was like a fall of snow. When the Genoese felt the arrows that pierced their arms, heads, and though their armour, some of them cut the strings of their crossbows, others flung them on the ground, and all turned and retreated in discomfiture. The French had a large body of men-at-arms on horseback, richly dressed, to support the Genoese. The King of France, seeing them fall back, cried out: ‘Kill me those scoundrels, for they block our way unreasonably!’ Then you would have seen the French men-at-arms lay about them, killing all they could of those runaways.”


Grimaldi fell there, mortally wounded.

Antonio Grimaldi, Genoese Admiral in 1332, was charged to revenge the ravages of the Aragonese on the coasts of Liguria, at a time when civil war prevented the Genoese from defending themselves and their possessions. Grimaldi, with a fleet of fifty-five vessels, harried the coasts of Catalonia, leaving behind him only ruins, and loading his vessels with plunder and captives. He carried off the galleys of the enemy from the harbour of Majorca. The Aragonese sent against him a fleet of twenty-four vessels, but he defeated it. In 1353 he was again placed at the head of the Genoese naval forces, and again sent against the Aragonese, who were now in league with the Venetians. Grimaldi had a fleet of fifty-two sail, and he hoped to fight and defeat the enemy before they could effect a junction. In this he was disappointed. He met the combined fleets near an islet off the north coast of Sardinia, August 29th, 1353. Pisani, the admiral of the Venetians, concealed a portion of his fleet, and Grimaldi, deceived, attacked the rest. Whilst thus engaged, he saw the detached portion of the Venetian flotilla approach, and he found that he had to deal with seventy-three sail. To present a strong front to the enemy, he bound his galleys together by the sides and masts, reserving only four on each wing to act as reserve. The Venetians and Catalans seeing this arrangement, also united their vessels to the number of fifty-four, but kept sixteen free at their flanks. This singular disposition shows how little, if at all, naval manœuvres had altered since the time of the civil war between Cæsar and Pompey.

The Catalans brought up three round tubs of vessels called coques against the right wing of Grimaldi, and[232] sank as many of his galleys. Alarmed at this, he unlinked eleven of his vessels and rallied them to the eight of the reserve, and, without striking another blow, fled, and left the rest of the fleet a prey to the enemy. All the thirty vessels thus abandoned by the cowardly admiral were obliged to surrender.

In that day the Genoese lost 3,000 men killed, and 3,500 taken prisoners. The Republic had never before suffered such a disaster. Despair took possession of government and people, and they abdicated their independence and proclaimed John Visconti, Duke of Milan, as Lord of Genoa. Lucien (1506-14) murdered his brother John, so as to obtain the principality for himself—at least, so it was surmised, and Lucien was obliged to fly from Monaco on that account, and conceal himself, till Duke Charles of Savoy gave him an indult, forbidding all inquiry to be made into the matter of the crime, and search after the murderer. Then Lucien stole back to Monaco and assumed the sovereignty. His sister Francesca had married Lucas Doria, and when left a widow, by her will constituted her brothers Lucien and Augustine, who was bishop of Grasse, guardians of her children. After her death her son Bartholomew Doria complained bitterly that his uncle Lucien Grimaldi kept hold of the inheritance and would not surrender it. At last, resentment induced him to resolve on revenging himself on Lucien, for the wrong done to himself, and for the murder of his uncle John. He secured the promise of co-operation, if required, of the famous admiral, Andrew Doria, and he sent to Monaco some confederates, with a request to Lucien to let them be lodged there in safety, as they had got into a broil at Genoa. He also intimated his intention to follow shortly[233] and halt at Monaco on his way to Lyons, where he hoped to have an interview with the King of France, and to obtain from him a charge in his army.

When Bartholomew arrived at Monaco, Lucien invited him to breakfast and gave to his nephew the place of honour at the table. Bartholomew could not eat, and when pressed to do so by his uncle complained that he had lost his appetite. Lucien then placed one of his children on Doria’s knee; but the young man trembled so that the child had to be taken from him. On rising from table Bartholomew asked the prince to give him some instructions as to his course.

At this time Andrew Doria’s fleet put into the harbour of Monaco, and the admiral sent to Bartholomew a laconic epistle, “What thou hast to do, do quickly.” Lucien bade his nephew accompany him into a cabinet at the end of the gallery. As the prince entered, the major-domo came up and informed him that Andrew Doria’s galleys had arrived in the port, and handed to Bartholomew the sealed letter bidding him be speedy in executing what he had undertaken.

When the major-domo withdrew, none were in the cabinet save the prince, who seated himself, a black slave, and Bartholomew, who stood by the window. All at once the tramp of feet sounded in the gallery, and an assassin rushed in, followed by others holding daggers and shouting, “Ammaza! kill! kill!” In a few minutes Lucien was despatched, and then the murderers, surrounding Bartholomew, marched forth, descended to the port, and were received on board the galley of Andrew Doria.

Hercules I. (1589-1604) met with a violent death from some of his own subjects. He used his sovereign power[234] to get possession of and outrage the wives and daughters of his subjects. At last some, whose wives had been dishonoured by him, conspired, took him and flung him over the rocks into the sea.

Louis (1662-1701), Prince of Monaco, became enamoured of the celebrated Hortense Mancini, Duchess of Mazarin, exiled from France for her intrigues. He followed her to Rome, and thence to London, where he and Charles II. were rivals for her favour. Saint Evremond did all in his power to separate her from the prince and constitute her a prime favourite of the King, in place of the Duchess of Portsmouth. A rivalry in prodigality ensued between little Monaco and the King of Great Britain. It was the fable of the frog and the ox enacted. In an access of jealousy Charles withdrew a pension of £4,000 he had accorded to the duchess, whereupon Louis sent her an order for that same amount, payable for life out of his treasury, accompanying it with a copy of verses. That the money was paid regularly is more than doubtful.

This Louis was married to Charlotte de Gramont, who was one of “les grandes amoureuses” of the reign of Louis XIV. She intrigued with the king. She entertained a passion for her ambitious cousin de Lauzun. Her many love adventures furnished Saint Simon with a good deal of not very edifying matter for his Mémoires. Whilst Charlotte revelled in Paris, Louis sulked at Monaco. As news reached him of Charlotte having made a fresh conquest, he had a gibbet erected on the confines of his tiny principality, and the happy man in effigy hung from it; and as Charlotte’s caprices and conquests were numerous, the frontier of Monaco was soon marked out at intervals by a score of gallows,[235] from which dangled dummy men, all dressed in Court costume.

“Not merely,” says Mme. de Sévigné, “is this measure retrospective, but folk amuse themselves by informing the prince of what is now going on. The consequence is that the gibbets have to be put closer together, and more than half of the courtiers are now dangling in effigy along the frontiers of Monaco. I can assure you that I have had many a laugh over this, and others as well. The king himself laughs at it. This frenzy of hangings passes all belief.”

At the beginning of the seventeenth century, the Spaniards had profited by the minority of Honoré II. to put a garrison into Monaco, under the pretext of alliance. Speedily they took advantage of this to behave as masters of the place. Prince Honoré, to escape from their domination, signed a secret treaty with Louis XIII. in 1641, by virtue of which his sovereign independence was guaranteed and a garrison of 500 French soldiers was assured him after the expulsion of the Spaniards. But it was precisely this last thing that was most difficult to achieve. Honoré succeeded by subtlety. He ordered the arrest of thirty of the inhabitants of Monaco, lusty men, and cast them into prison; then invited the Spanish garrison to a grand banquet at the palace, and made them as drunk as fiddlers. When they were almost incapable of defence, he opened the prison, told the men he had locked up that they were to massacre the Spanish garrison, and put daggers into their hands. The Spaniards, however, were not so drunk that they could not defend their lives; they were, however, nearly all slaughtered; and the gates were thrown open to some French soldiers who had been waiting at Antibes[236] to replace the Spaniards. This took place in November, 1641. In consequence of this, all the estates of Honoré in Italy were confiscated, but Louis XIII. indemnified Honoré for this by granting to him the Seigneurie of Les Baux in Provence and the Duchy of Valentinois.

Antoine, who died in 1731, was the last direct male of the house. He left a daughter, Louise Hippolyte, who married Jacques François de Matignon, Comte de Torrigny. She survived her father but eleven months. Her son Honoré III. (1731-1795) lived at the time of the outbreak of the French Revolution. The new ideas excited effervescence in little Monaco, Roquebrune, and Mentone, which belonged at the time to the principality, and they demanded elective councils. Honoré was compelled to yield, whereupon the Councils suppressed all feudal rights. Then, when he was frightened and ran away, the three towns declared the House of Grimaldi deposed. Nice had been united to France, and Monaco demanded the same favour, which was granted February 14th, 1793. Honoré was arrested on September 28th, in the same year, and detained till Thermidor 9th. He died in 1795. By the treaty of Paris, 1814, Monaco was restored to Honoré IV., his son, but on the return of Napoleon from Elba, the principality was occupied by an English force. By the treaty of November 20th, 1815, it was transferred to Sardinia; but this lasted only till 1816, when Honoré V. regained his principality. His son Florestan I. (1841-56) abolished monopoly in bread, allowed free trade, and founded a college at Mentone. The revolution of 1848 was disastrous to the Prince. Mentone and Roquebrune severed their connexion with Monaco and were annexed to Sardinia. Charles III. (1856-89) succeeded his father, Florestan. He it was who conceived the idea of repairing his losses by the establishment of gaming tables at Monaco.



The princes had coined gold, silver, and copper money from 1505, with the legend, “Christus regnat, Christus imperat, Christus vincit.” This legend became inappropriate thenceforth, in Monaco.

In 1856 Charles III. started the gambling tables in a building adjoining the palace, afterwards occupied by the guard of honour. But the venture was not a success. Monaco was out of the way, hardly accessible from the land, where the Corniche Road ran high above, on the summit of the cliffs by La Turbie, so that it could be reached conveniently only by sea.

The gambling concession passed through various hands, till, owing to the closing of the Casino at Homburg, M. Blanc thought of Monaco. In 1863 he went there, on March 31st, entered the bureau of the then concessioners, Lefebre and Co., and said, “You want to sell this affair; I am disposed to take it. Reflect. I shall return here at 3.30 p.m. I leave at 4 p.m. by the steamboat, and I want to have this matter settled before I go back to Nice.” The company sold it to Blanc for 1,700,000 francs.

On April 1st, All Fools’ Day, 1863, Blanc formed La Société anonyme des Bains de Mer et Cercle des Étrangers à Monaco, for fifty years, with a capital of fifteen millions, represented by 30,000 shares of 500 francs each. One of the first to take shares in this gambling society was Pope Leo XIII., at the time only cardinal. Blanc was a little man, with moustache already white, aged fifty-seven, when he came to feather his nest, and that of the Prince of Monaco, at Monte Carlo. He married his daughter to Prince Roland[238] Bonaparte, grandson of Lucien, Prince of Caninio, the brother of the Emperor Napoleon I.

Blanc died in 1881. In 1882 it was resolved to double the capital of this “bathing establishment.” The fifteen million was raised to thirty million, divided up into 60,000 shares of 500 francs each, Blanc’s heirs retaining about 52,000 shares in their own hands. As the original concession was for fifty years, and would expire in 1913, it was deemed advisable to approach the Prince of Monaco for an extension, and this was granted, as the shareholders complained, “on very hard terms.” It was signed on January 16th, 1898, and by this agreement the company received a fresh concession for fifty years.

So profitable an affair is this Circle des Étrangers and Société des Bains de Mer, that the ordinary 500-franc shares rose at once to 4,770 francs.

An old Italian proverb was to this effect:

Monaco io sono

Un scoglio.

Del mio non ho
Quello d’altrui non taglio

Pur viver voglio.

That may be rendered, “I am Monaco, a mere rock; I have naught of my own, I take no goods of others; yet I must live.”

This proverb is now as inappropriate as the legend on the coins; for Monaco lives and thrives on the plunder of those who go there to empty their money on the tables.

Les Spélunges, a rocky promontory, full of holes and cracks, like a petrified sponge, on which formerly shepherds pastured their goats, has become the[239] world-famed Monte Carlo; and La Condamine, once the flower-garden that supplied the House of Rimmel with perfumes, is now occupied by houses of those who live more or less directly on the tables. Charles III., who made the concession, has not left a very savoury recollection behind him. Whilst his father was reigning prince, he tired of being only heir apparent, and stirred up a revolt against his father; but the National Guard arrested him, and he was conducted to Genoa, where he was set at liberty.

His son, Albert Honoré Charles, the present Prince, married Lady Mary Victoria, daughter of the Duke of Hamilton and Brandon, on September 21st, 1869, and by her had a son, born in 1870.

But they apparently got tired of each other, for the Pope was approached by Lady Mary, with the full consent of the Prince, to get the marriage annulled.

Now the Church of Rome holds very strict views as to the indissoluble nature of marriage. Even the successor of S. Peter protests his inability to pronounce a divorce. But, he can annul a marriage on various grounds; and to help this out, all sorts of bars to legitimate marriage have been devised, as consanguinity within seven degrees of relationship, affinity, spiritual relationship through sponsorship at the font, or legal relationship through guardianship, beside many others, by means of some of which, with a little greasing of palms, hardly a legitimate union cannot be annulled. Accordingly, on January 3rd, 1880, after eleven years of married life, the Pope declared the marriage to have been void, on the plea put forward by Lady Mary that she had been over-persuaded to marry the Prince, by her mother. But the Papal Court laid down that although[240] the connexion had been one of mere concubinage, yet, nevertheless, the son was to be regarded as legitimate. “Which is the humour of it,” as Corporal Nym would say. It further ordered that the re-marriage of either party must take place where the State did not require civil marriage, as civil courts considered the first marriage as valid. “Which,” again as Nym would say, “is the humour of it.”

Eleven months after this decree Lady Mary Hamilton married Count Tassilo Festitics, at Pesth; and the Prince married, October 30th, 1889, Alice, dowager duchess of Richelieu, a Heine of New Orleans. The name is Jewish.

The Pope seems to have felt that his proceeding in this matter had made the sensitive consciences of Roman Catholics wince, for he shortly after issued an Encyclical on Marriage, and pointed out what were the pleas on which the Papal Court was justified in dissolving existing marriages. The Tablet also, on March 31st, 1894, published an apologetic article, in which it assured the world that the official fees paid to the Propaganda for annulling a marriage were trifling, that, in a word, a marriage could be dissolved at Rome, dirt-cheap, for £120. More shame to it, if true. But “Credat Judæus Apelles non ego.”

This Court, as we know, will allow, for a handsome consideration, an uncle to marry his niece, whereas formally it forbids an union within the seven degrees.

High aloft, towering above Monaco, 1,270 feet from the sea-level, accessible by a cog-railway, is La Turbie, the point where the old Roman Via Aurelia and the modern Corniche Road cross a neck that is the natural division between France and Italy; the point where, in[241] Roman times before the Empire, Gaul ended, and Italy began.

La Turbie is a corruption of Tropaïa—the Trophy, for here stood the monument erected by Augustus about the year B.C. 13, commemorative of his victories over the Ligurian natives of the coast. For some seventeen years the empire had existed. All exterior marks of flattery and submission had been accorded to him. To him had already been given an official worship, as if he were a god. Even that “white soul” Virgil thus speaks of the living emperor:—“A god has vouchsafed us this tranquillity; for to me he (Augustus) shall always be a god. A tender lamb from our folds shall often dye his altar with its blood.”

Ancient writers have left us no description of the monument. Pliny records the inscription it bore in seventy-eight words, of which thirty-three were devoted to the official dedication to the divine Augustus and to record his dignities, and forty-five to the enumeration of the conquered peoples.

The monument has gone through a period of sad wreckage. The Genoese pillaged it of marbles wherewith to decorate the palaces of the citizen nobles; and in the period of the furious struggles between Guelfs and Ghibellines it was converted into a fortress. It now presents a substructure of the period of Augustus, above which rises the shattered fragment of a mediæval tower.

Before the year 1869 only fourteen letters of the inscription had been recovered. Since then five more have been found, which had been built into a wall surrounding the village. From a description of the monument as it existed in the sixteenth century, before it was such a complete wreck as it is at present, written by a[242] Franciscan, Antonio Boyer, of Nice, it had a square basement about twenty-four feet high, above which rose a circular structure sixty feet high, divided into two stages, with marble columns ranging one above another. Between these columns were niches once adorned with statues, and the whole was capped by a cupola surmounted, probably by a statue of Victory, or of Augustus. In the basement were two doors, and above the north door was the tablet inscribed with the dedication to Augustus. The upper portion, converted into a tower in the Middle Ages, was destroyed in 1705 by order of Louis XIV. Mines of gunpowder were exploded under it.

The church, erected in 1777, and the houses of La Turbie are built out of the stones pillaged from this monument. In the church is a copy of the S. Michael of Raphael, given by the Musée S. Germain in exchange for a statue and the fragments of the inscription, from the Trophy of Augustus.[16] It is worth while to sit on the rock and look at this ruin—the ruin of an immense monument set up to honour a mortal deified, and to whom sacrifices were offered, who gathered into his own hands all the authority and power of the known world for his own selfish glorification—and think, that at the same time He was born who made Himself of no reputation and took on Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of man—who humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. The Trophy of Augustus is a heap of ruins, but the Catholic Church, the trophy of Him who was born under Cæsar Augustus, is everywhere, and imperishable.


Sitting on the honeycombed limestone rock, looking on that wreckage, and hearing the bells of all the church towers for miles around break out in musical call to the Angelus, this thought rises and fills the mind: Selfishness has but its day; self-sacrifice establishes an everlasting reign.

Monte Carlo occupies, as already said, a limestone headland, forming the horn of the bay opposite Monaco, but not projecting to anything like its extent into the sea. Between the two is the ravine through which a little stream decants into the harbour. Here is the Church of Ste. Devota.

Devota was a girl brought up from childhood in the Christian faith. When she was quite young she was taken into the house of Eutyches, a senator, and probably a relation. Eutyches was not a Christian, but he was a kindly disposed man, and loathed the idea of persecution. On the publication of the edict of Diocletian in 303 against Christians, he sacrificed along with other senators; but the governor of Corsica, where he lived, hearing that he harboured in his house a little Christian maiden, had her brought forth and ordered that she should be executed. Her feet were tied together, and she was dragged over rough ground till she was cut and bruised through her entire body. Then she was stretched on the rack, and expired. According to the legend, as she died a white dove was seen fluttering over her; it expanded its pure wings, and, soaring, was lost in the deep blue of the sky. The following night a priest rescued the body, placed spices about it, laid it in a boat, and bade a boatman named Gratian carry it away. Then the white dove appeared again, skimming over the water; and so Gratian, following the bird, rowed till he reached Monaco, and[244] there the body was laid. Her festival is on January 27th, and on that day a procession leaves the cathedral at Monaco and descends to the Church of Ste. Devota in the gulley.

The great charm of Monte Carlo consists in the gardens with tropical plants. As to the buildings of Casino and Theatre, they are by Charles Garnier, who was also the architect of the Grand Opera House at Paris,—enough to say that they are vulgar and display no token of genius and sense of beauty. They are appropriate to a gambling hell. That is all that can be said of them.

“The Casino,” says Miss Dempster, the authoress of Vera, “is the thing that all Europe, Asia, and America talk of, that all moralists decry, and that all pleasure-seekers declare to be a paradise. It is the Casino that gives wealth and fashion to this section of the coast. It is the Casino that causes a dozen trains to stop daily at Monte Carlo; that keeps up the palace, the army, the roads, the opera-house, and the Hôtel de Paris. It is the green table that keeps the gardens green and the violins in tune; that has brought 3,000 residents and so many hundred prostitutes to the town; that gives work to 1,000 servants, and causes the annual issue of about 335,000 tickets. When we consider these facts, the fabulous beauty of the site, the mildness of the climate, the good dinners, the better music, the pigeon-shooting, and the many exciting chances, can we wonder that Monte Carlo is in every mouth?”



It is just the fact that the site is so exquisitely beautiful that is the pity of it all. Why should the moral cesspool of Europe be precisely there? How much better were it in the Maremma or the Campagna, where the risk to health and life would add zest to the speculation with gold. As long as men people the globe there will be gambling, and it is in vain to think of stopping it. All the lowest types of humanity, the Lazaroni, the North American Indians, the half-caste Peruvians and Mexicans, resort to it with passion, and the unintellectual and those without mental culture throughout Europe will naturally pursue it as a form of excitement. It is therefore just as well that there should be places provided for these individuals of low mental and moral calibre to enjoy themselves in the only way that suits them, but again, the pity is that one of the fairest spots of Europe, this earthly paradise, should be given over to harlots and thieves, and Jew moneylenders, to rogues and fools of every description. The entire principality lives on the tables, the prince, the bishop, the canons, the soldiery, the police, the hotel-keepers, those who have villas, the cabdrivers, the waiters, the boatmen, all are bound together by a common interest—the plunder of such as come to Monte Carlo to lose their money. The institution must be kept going, every scandal must be hushed up. If a case of suicide occur, in ten minutes every trace disappears, and no public notice is given of what has occurred. It is against the interest of every one connected with the place, with Nice also and Mentone, to allow such an event to transpire.

If any trust may be reposed in the assertions of Captain Weihe, a German naval artillery officer who has resided at Monte Carlo for three seasons, the cases are far more numerous than is supposed. According to him, directly a man has shot or hung himself, he is whisked away by the police and the body concealed till it is ascertained that no one is particularly interested in his fate. Then, at the end of the season, the bodies of the suicides are packed in cases that are weighted, and[246] the boatmen sink them far out at sea between Monte Carlo and Corsica.

According to the same authority, the bodies were formerly thrust into the holes and cracks in the limestone on which the Casino and the tributary buildings of Monte Carlo stand, but the condition in consequence became so insanitary that the place had to be cleared of them, and a large body of workmen was imported from Italy and employed on this work, and the corpses removed were disposed of at sea. Captain Weihe asserts as a matter of his own knowledge or observation that from the upper part of the rift of Pont Larousse, in 1898, sixty corpses, from the lower by Villa Eden ten or twelve were removed.

The game of roulette is composed of two distinct divisions, that of numbers and that of cadres. Upon the former it is possible for the player to win thirty-five times the value of his stake; but then, the bank has thirty-six chances against him. Upon the cadres there is not so great a risk; for rouge or noir, pair or impair, passe or manque, there are nearly the same chances for the players as there are for the bank; but then, on the other hand, the player can win no more than the value of his stake.

The bank, with the odds on zero, normally absorbs one-seventieth of all the money staked on each table during the course of the year; that would be against constant players with capital behind them equal to the bank; but the majority of players take a comparatively limited sum with them and play without a system, until it is lost, and then perforce stop; whereas if they had the bank’s unlimited time and capital, they would play, losing only one-seventieth of their stake on each coup,[247] and prolong the time required to lose a given capital. This constant game of what would in America be called “freeze out,” enormously increases the bank’s chances over the calculable one-seventieths of the staker, and is doubtless the main cause of its large winnings. The profits of the company were, in 1904, something like £1,250,000. This, at the calculable odds, would mean the staking during the year of the enormous sum of £87,500,000. But owing to the way the usual player stakes, as above described, probably a small fractional part of that sum would be sufficient to provide that amount of revenue. As M. Blanc was wont to say: “Rouge gagne quelque fois; noir aussi quelque fois—mais Blanc toujours.”

If players had unlimited capital, and were allowed without check to adopt the martingale or pyramid system, they would run small chance of losing. This consists in choosing a cadre and playing resolutely upon it, each time doubling the stake, until that which is backed wins, which it is certain to do if continued long enough. When it wins, the player has recovered the total of his stakes plus one, except the toll on zero, whereupon he would revert to the minimum stake. But the bank knows this as well as any one, and draws a line beyond which there is no doubling allowed.

At roulette, the minimum stake is five francs; but at trente-et-quarante, a game at cards, the lowest stake is twenty francs. The amount of systems proposed, published, and advertised, is prodigious: every one has his system, who is an enthusiastic gambler, and every one has led to confusion and loss. One hears at intervals of lucky players who have broken the bank. But what guarantee have we that these are not decoy[248] ducks, or at all events persons allowed to do so, as an advertisement, and a means of luring other persons to try their chance to do the same? The last of those who has written is one Josephine Lorenz, Schaff dir Gold in Monte Carlo, published at Munich in 1905. Sir Hiram Maxim in his Monte Carlo, London, 1904, tells a significant story about the breaking of the bank by Lord Rosslyn and the late Mr. Sam Lewis. After about seven consecutive wins, it was said that the bank had been broken; a bell was rung, and a factor of the bank was summoned and required to bring a fresh supply of money. It was delivered, the play proceeded, and a second time the bank was broken. This led to immense excitement: hundreds of people crowded about the table and followed the lead of the two lucky stakers, with their smaller ventures. The next time they won on seventeen coups; after that, however, each lost 12,000 francs, and those who had docilely followed them lost also. The bank was not really broken the third time, but pretended and proclaimed that it had been.

“However,” says Sir Hiram, “my suspicions were excited; I did not believe for a moment that the bank had actually been broken. I knew that there had been a great deal of play during the day, and that the winnings at this particular table must have been very heavy indeed. I therefore remained to see the money taken from the table, when I found it was exactly as I had expected; there was at least a peck of large bank notes. It had not been necessary for the bank to send for money at all; this had been done for effect. It was telegraphed all over the world that Lord Rosslyn and Mr. Sam Lewis had broken the bank three consecutive times in a single evening. True, the bank had lost money, but they turned it into a valuable advertisement.”



That is not all. Next day Lord Rosslyn and Mr. Lewis again tried their luck, and lost at whatever they tried, whether at roulette or at trente-et-quarante. Lord Rosslyn staked fifteen times in as many minutes, and never won a single “coup.”

Sir Hiram drily observes:—

“Considered from a purely mathematical standpoint, it would appear very remarkable that he should win seventeen consecutive times in the evening, and lose fifteen consecutive times the following morning.”

Captain Weihe of Hamburg, of the German Marine Artillery, has published in German and Italian a brochure, entitled, in the former language, Das Falschspiel in Monte Carlo, in which he brings a charge of fraud against the company, based on his observation during three seasons of steady watching the play. Now the chances of the ball entering a given pocket are calculable. According to him, the number of times, say in a thousand, in which, by the law of chances, the ball ought to enter a given number is calculable, here, however, it does not obey the law of chances.

Further, he says that he noticed that wealthy players were encouraged to proceed, by winning stake after stake, and then, all at once, luck would declare against them. Why, he wonders, should such men be lucky at first and only unlucky afterwards?

Then, he asserts that the agents of the company occasionally encourage a timorous player by advice, given with all secrecy, to stake on a certain number, and that then, by some remarkable coincidence, this number will win. These observations, he says, led him to the conclusion that there existed some method[250] whereby the ball could be directed to go where the croupiers desired that it should go. Then he asserts that he assured himself that a piece of steel was inserted in a certain number of the balls, and that these loaded balls could be drawn into any pocket desired, by the chef de partie, by means of an electro magnet manipulated by himself. He further asserts that by close observation during three seasons, he was able, by watching the fingers of the chef, to predicate with something approaching to certainty into which number the ball would run.

The pamphlet in question is not sold at Nice or Mentone, and it need not be said is not allowed to pass over the frontier of the principality of Monaco, but it can be procured at Bordighera.

However, it appears very improbable that the bank would run such a risk. It is true that detection of roguery is not easy, where the tables are in a principality under an absolute monarch, and where police and every authority are interested in the continuance of the gambling. There is, however, the risk of some croupier “giving away the show”; and there is also the risk of detection. But—is cheating necessary? Is it worth its salt? Let us look closer into the acknowledged system. While playing on the even chances gives 1·35 per cent. in favour of the bank, playing on any other gives the bank 2·70; and as many fools play on those chances that favour the bank most highly, it is probably safe to assume that the odds in favour of the bank will average 1·66 on all the tables, both trente-et-quarante and roulette. If individuals playing would take in all the money they could afford to lose, divide this into so many maximums (if one did not suffice) and stake the[251] full maximum on each chance, and then retire, whether winners or losers, they would then have given the bank the least possible advantage, as they would have subjected themselves to the chances of the zero appearing the least possible number of times. As, however, almost every player wishes to have as long a run for his money as possible, almost all players, whether playing by a so-called system or not, divide their stakes, whether made on an increasing or on a decreasing scale, or haphazard, into a number of comparatively small stakes, so as to stay in the game as long as possible, with the result that the bank’s percentage is constantly working against them. The thinner they spread out their money, and the longer they stay in the game, the greater are the chances of their losing their money.

If you go into the stock-market and buy the first stock your eye happens to catch on the list, you at least stand an even chance of its going up or down, while your brokerage and stamp charges will not amount to the 1·66 per cent. charged as brokerage by the Casino; whereas in the stock market the action will be comparatively slow, at Monte Carlo the brokerage charge is approximately 1·66 per minute. If fifty coups are played per hour, it means that as brokerage the bank each hour absorbs 83 per cent. of all the money staked for one coup, while each day the bank takes for its commission for permitting you to play there, about ten times the average amount staked on the table at any one time. As Sir Hiram Maxim says, the martingale is the least defective of all the systems. Were there no limit and no zero, this system of 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, etc. must infallibly win, as, whenever a gain is made, no matter how many previous losses there have been, it[252] lands the player a winner of one unit. The defect, however, is that, starting with the minimum stake, the maximum is reached at the eleventh doubling, and a run of eleven is of by no means an infrequent occurrence. Against this the bank protects itself in its most vulnerable place; even then, were its limits removed, yet it would be steadily levying its 1·66 commission.

It is accordingly not necessary for the company to have recourse to underhand work as charged by Captain Weihe; the income of £1,245,008 realised without trickery, on an average stake per table would be 611·55 fr. Any one who has been at Monte Carlo will admit that this is probably very much below the average amount of money on the table at each spin of the wheel; and with such an income, where arises the occasion for illicitly supplementing it? The following is a table of stakes needed to realise the known profits of the company:

611·55 fr., average stake each of 14 tables Bank percentage, 10.15 fr.
8,561·70 fr. total stakes at 14 tables, 50 coups per hour ——— 142·69 fr.
428,085·00 fr., average stakes each 12 hours the Casino is open ——— 7,134·75 fr.
5,137,020·00 fr., total daily stakes, 365 days a year Casino is open ——— 85,617·00 fr.
1,875,012,300·00 fr., total yearly stakes ——— 31,250,205·00 fr.
£75,000,492 sterling equivalent ——— £1,245,008

Thus enabling the bank on average stakes of 611·55 francs to realise £1,245,008. But it must be remembered that it is only during the winter season that considerable play takes place at Monte Carlo. Also that before profits are declared the prince has to pocket his share, all the officials have to be paid, the police, the lighting, the gardens have to be kept going, and the scores of unacknowledged dependents on the Casino have to receive enough to maintain them. Every season a little book appears, advocating an infallible system, and some of these cost twenty-five francs. Of course, every system is based on the assumption that there is no trickery. But if there be trickery, not one of these systems is worth the cost of the book that advocates it.



“Le rouge gagne quelque fois, le noir gagne quelque fois, le blanc toujours.”

A very good story is told by “V. B.” in Monte Carlo Anecdotes, London, 1901. A few years ago a nobleman attended the English chapel and slipped out as the hymn was being sung before the sermon, as he went for worship and not be bored with the discourse. Now the hymn was No. 32, Ancient and Modern. He sauntered up to the Casino whistling the tune, and as he entered the rooms he heard, “Trente-deux, rouge, pair et passe!” sung out from the table on his right; and then from that on his left, “Trente-deux, rouge, pair et passe.” “Bless my soul!” said he, “that is the number of the hymn; be hanged if I won’t stake on it.” He hurriedly felt in his pocket, and going to the third table he announced, “Trente-deux en plein, les quatres chevaux, et quatres carrés par cinq francs”; and up rolled the number. To make a long story short, by passing from table to table, and by constantly clinging to 32 with gradually increasing stakes, he left the rooms with over £500 in his pocket. But this got wind,[254] and, to the perplexity of the chaplain, next Sunday half his congregation left the chapel during the hymn before the sermon and rushed off to the Casino to back the number of the hymn.

After this it became the rule at the Monte Carlo English chapel never thenceforth to give out a number under thirty-seven before the sermon.

On the promontory of La Veille at the water’s edge is a grotto. When Edward Augustus, Duke of York, brother to George III., was on his way to Italy on a man-of-war, feeling too ill to proceed he was landed at Monaco and received into the palace, where he died in 1767. The body was embalmed and taken to London.

Fishermen always make the sign of the cross when passing the entrance of the Grotte de la Veille, for they say that when the vessel on which was the Duke of York arrived in the bay, a white form was seen, as that of a woman, at the entrance, watching the evolutions of the ship. After the Duke was removed she still remained visible, with her face turned towards the palace. She was again seen when the cannon announced his death, and again when his body was removed. The sailors hurry by the cave, and will on no account enter it. It might be as well if travellers crossed themselves and hurried by, instead of allowing themselves to be drawn into the halls of the Circe of Gambling on the top of the cliff.



Configuration of the land—Favoured situation of Mentone: suitable for mid-winter—Old and new Mentone—Oranges and lemons—History of Mentone—Roquebrune—Passion Mystery—Castellan—Depredations of corsairs—Open-air ball—Dr. Bennet—The torrent of S. Louis—The Barma Grande—Prehistoric men.

THE traveller by rail from Nice to Mentone is hardly able to appreciate the configuration of the land, and to understand what are the special advantages enjoyed by Mentone over Nice and Cannes.

Let us take a sickle to represent the mountain system from the Swiss Alps to the Abruzzi. If the sickle be held with the point upward and the cutting edge turned away from one, then the great curve of the inner edge represents the vast basin of the Po and its tributaries. At Mont Blanc the Alpine sweep turns south and runs to Monte Viso, forming the Dauphiné Alps. From Monte Viso the ridge curves to the east till it meets the shank above Genoa, and the handle of the sickle is the range of the Apennines.

From Nice one can see the snowy peaks. Les Cimes du Diable are visible, but away to the north-east, for the chain is on the curve there. Above the Riviera di Ponente the chain draws very near to the sea, but throws out spurs and allows of a ledge resting against[256] it, intervening between it and the Mediterranean. Now in leaving Nice by the Corniche Road we can see this formation, we learn how the Alps describe a great arc; but this is lost to us in the train, hugging the sea-shore and diving in and out of tunnels.

It is only by the Corniche Road, when we have reached La Turbie, that we discern how specially privileged are Mentone and the Italian Riviera. We see before us an amphitheatre, with mountain stages, and the blue sea for arena. The mountains run up to 3,000 and 4,000 feet, and wall about the fertile bottom, the seats about the sea, sheltering them from every blast. The higher mountains of grey limestone are bare, but below all is rich with luxuriant vegetation.

“The entire bay and the town of Mentone, with its background of swelling, olive-clad hills closed in by the amphitheatre of mountains, are thus thoroughly protected from the north-west, north, and north-east winds. To thoroughly understand and appreciate the district and its singularly protected character, a boat should be taken, and the panorama viewed a mile or two from the shore. The extreme beauty of the coast will amply repay the trouble. Thus seen, all the details are blended into one harmonious whole; the two bays becoming one, and the little town scarcely dividing them. The grandeur of the semicircular range of mountains, generally steeped in glorious sunshine, also comes out in broad outline. These mountains positively appear to all but encircle the Mentonian amphitheatre in their arms, to thus separate it and its inhabitants from the world at large, and to present it to the blue Mediterranean waves and to the warm southern sunshine.

“Behind the mountains which thus form the background of the Mentonian valleys, are still higher mountains, rising in successive ranges to an altitude of from 5,000 to 9,000 feet.[257] The higher ranges constitute the high Alps of Savoy and Dauphiné. The presence of this second and higher mountain range greatly increases the protection afforded to the coast-line by the lower one, and partly explains its immunity from the winter cold of continental Europe.

“Thus the Mentone amphitheatre, being only open to the south, south-east, and south-west, the Mistral, as a north-west wind, is not at all felt, and but slightly as a deflected south-west wind. All the northerly winds pass over the higher mountains and fall into the sea at some distance—several miles from the shore. When they reign there is a calm, not only in the bay at Mentone, but for some distance out at sea; whilst at a few miles from the shore it may be crested and furious.”[17]

But this protected and warm nook can be enjoyed only during the months in the depth of winter. When the sun begins to gather warmth, the heat becomes oppressive, the lungs gasp for air, and one feels desirous to be invested with sufficient faith to be able to move the mountains some miles back. There are two Mentones, the very dashing, frivolous, up-to-date modern town, with expensive tastes; bound for life to the elderly Mentone, grave, a little dilapidated, and intent only on business. But young and gay Mentone is stealing an arm round the old partner and laying hold of the even more sheltered and balmy bay beyond, now dotted with villas, and punctuated with hotels.

Mentone is pre-eminently the district of lemons and oranges, grown here for the fruit, and not, as at Grasse, for the flower. Lemons at Mentone are more numerous than oranges. They are not so beautiful, as the fruit has not the golden hue of the orange—it is green or pale sulphur yellow. The fruit of the orange tree will bear[258] 7° Fahr. below freezing point without being seriously affected, but the lemon tree is much more sensitive, and is killed by 8°; it may also perish by over-much moisture in the atmosphere. When a sharp frost sets in, the owners of a plantation of oranges or lemons are in dire alarm, and light fires in the groves, strewing green leaves and grass over the flames to produce smoke, which to a considerable extent prevents radiation, and the temperature falling too low.

The lemon tree flowers throughout the year, never resting, flower and fruit being on the tree at the same time. On no other part of the coast do these trees grow as freely as they do at Mentone and Bordighera. But there are no ancient lemon trees, as about once in thirty-five years a bitter winter sets in, and the poor trees perish.

The orange tree flowers once only in the year, and bears but a single crop. The fruit ripens in autumn and winter. We, in England, never have the orange in its perfection, as it is picked when green or turning golden and ripens in the cases in which it is packed. But for the orange to be in perfection, luscious and sweet, it should be left on the tree till the end of April, or even into May. It is a beautiful sight, during the winter, to see the orange groves laden with their glorious fruit. The most delicious oranges are those with thin skins, the Mandarin or Tangerine, which ripen earlier than do the Portuguese thick-skinned species.

The history of Mentone is not of great interest, and it may be dismissed in a few words. Mentone and rock-perched Roquebrune belonged to the Prince of Monaco. The Grimaldi, John II., having quarrelled with Genoa, appealed for help to the Duke of Savoy, and to buy this[259] help, in 1448 ceded these two places to him for an annual rent of 200 gold florins. However, the Grimaldi got this territory back again, but lost it in 1848, when Mentone and Roquebrune revolted against the fiscal burdens imposed on them by the Prince, and declared themselves independent republics. The President of the Republic of Mentone was Charles Trenca, who died in 1853. Finally, in 1860, both places were united to France, and the claims of the Prince of Monaco were bought off for the sum of four million francs.

There is little of architectural interest in Mentone. The church, built in 1619, and added to in 1675, is in the tasteless style of the period, but tower and spire are effective from a distance. In the church is preserved a processional cross, the staff of which is formed out of a Turkish lance taken by Prince Honoré I. of Monaco, in the battle of Lepanto, 1571. But if Mentone be somewhat deficient in picturesque features, the same cannot be said of Roquebrune, which for so many centuries shared its fortunes. It is dominated by the castle of the Lascaris. At Roquebrune, every year, on the first Sunday in August, the Mystery of the Passion is represented in a procession that illustrates the various scenes of the portentous tragedy. It starts from the chapel of N.D. de la Pansa, on the east side of the little town, a chapel decorated with frescoes of the fifteenth century. The narrow streets, passing under vaults, the quaintness of the houses, above all the superb panorama commanded by Roquebrune, make it a place meriting a visit.

Still more quaint and picturesque is Castellar, forming a quadrilateral fortress, planted on a plateau commanding two valleys. It is composed of three long parallel[260] streets. The exterior of the village or town is the wall that encloses the place, and the houses thus form the wall, and look outward only through eyelet holes. Turrets flank the angles. The chapel of S. Sebastian is romanesque. Here also the Lascaris had a palace. Castellar stands 1,200 feet above the sea. We can hardly realise till how late a period the pirates of the Mediterranean were a scourge to this coast, and forced the natives to build every village and town in a place not easily accessible, and form of it a fortress.

For many centuries first the Saracens, then the Turks and Moors of Tunis and Algiers, ravaged this coast. Not so much for gold and silver—for of this the poor fishermen, shepherds, and tillers of the soil had none, but to capture slaves. The women were handsome and the men able-bodied.

“There are still men living at Mentone,” says Dr. Bennet, “who in the early part of this century (i.e. 19th) were seized on the coast by Moors, and subsequently lived for years as slaves at Algiers and Tunis.” Indeed, piracy reigned supreme on the Mediterranean until the year 1816, when Lord Exmouth bombarded Algiers; but it was not finally stamped out till the conquest of Algiers by the French in 1830. When Lord Exmouth bombarded Algiers, there were thousands of Christian slaves, mostly captured on the Riviera, serving in the Algerine galleys. It was against the sudden descent of these pirates that the watch towers were erected along the coast, which may be seen at intervals as far as Genoa.

At Castellar, on the Place de la Mairie, is given on January 20th, every year, an open-air ball which winds up the series of festivities, religious and secular, accorded in honour of the patronal saint, S. Sebastian.


Mentone was “invented” by Dr. J. Henry Bennet, whose delightful book on Winter and Spring on the Shores of the Mediterranean, 1861, has gone through several editions, and is still the best guide to such as are in quest of a winter resort. He settled at Mentone in 1859, and speedily appreciated its climatic advantages. These advantages are inestimable for the worst winter months. But when the sun gathers strength, it is advisable for the traveller to break his return journey to the cold and fogs of England by a cool bath in S. Raphael “ventosa.”

Sir Thomas Hanbury has also done much for the place. His gardens are well worth seeing. An electric tram will take a visitor along the bay to a fountain erected by Sir Thomas Hanbury, near the frontier of Italy. That frontier runs down the torrent of S. Louis, where may be seen, on a fine day, sketchers and painters engaged in transferring to their books or canvases the impression produced by this ravine, with arches one above the other, for the railway and for the Corniche Road, whilst below are women washing garments in the little stream. The magnificent cliffs rise here in sheer precipices, and are composed of nummulitic limestone. Formerly the headland stretched to the sea, leaving only a strip between the rocks and the waves, along which strip ran the Via Aurelia. The rock was perforated with caves, nine in number. But it has been cut back for building stone, and the grottoes have been much reduced in depth. The caves served as a habitation for man from a remote period, and not solely as a habitation, but also as a sepulchre. The Barma Grande was filled to a depth of thirty feet of deposit, that deposit consisting of fallen stones, bones of beasts, flint weapons[262] and tools, remains of hearths and charcoal, and human skeletons.

It has been dug into by many and various explorers, and not always with judgment, and with precise record of the depths at which various discoveries have been made.

The present proprietor used the soil for the purpose of making a garden, and it was only when he came upon human remains that it occurred to him that he could turn the cavern into a show place, and get more out of it in that way than he could by growing cabbages in the soil removed from it. In these caves a considerable number of skeletons have been found; in the first, the Grotte des Enfants, two bodies were discovered of children of six and four years old, lying at a depth of eight feet, side by side. They had evidently been clothed in little loin-cloths embroidered with pierced shells.

In the fourth cave, the Grotte du Cavillon, was found the skeleton of an adult twenty feet below the surface, lying on his left side, the cheek resting on the left hand, and the head and body had been dusted over with red ochre, which had stained the bones. The head had been covered with a sort of cap made of, or adorned with, perforated shells and dogs’ teeth, and similar ornaments must have been stitched on to garters about his legs.

The sixth cave, Bausso da Torre, furnished two bodies of adults and one of a child, and with these were flint weapons, bracelets, and necklets of shells.

In 1884 M. Louis Julien found a human skeleton lying at a depth of twenty-five feet, the head bedded in red ochre, and near it numerous flakes of flint. Since[263] then others have been found, and the present proprietor has preserved them in situ, under glass, in the cave, at the precise levels at which discovered. In 1892, three were found, all lying on their left sides. One of these had pertained to a young woman. All three had been buried along with their personal ornaments, and all with the ferruginous powder over them.

Finally, in 1894, another human skeleton was unearthed at a higher level; and soon after again another.

All these interments belong to man at a period before the use of metals was known, and when the only tools employed were of bone and flint. The purpose of covering them with red oxide was to give to the bodies a fictitious appearance of life. The men were of a great size, tall and well built, taller indeed than are the natives of the Riviera at the present day; and the heads are well developed—the skulls contained plenty of brains, and there is nothing simian about the faces.

A little prehistoric museum has been built on a platform near the caves, where most of the relics found in them are preserved; but some are in the museum at Mentone itself.



Ventimiglia—Internecine conflicts—Republics—Genoa obtains the Ligurian coast—Siege of Ventimiglia—Guelf and Ghibellines—The Lascaris family: Paul Louis Lascaris—The Cathedral and Baptistery—S. Michaele—Camporosso—Dolceacqua—Bordighera—San Ampelio—Relics—Retreat of the sea.

VENTIMIGLIA, crowning a rocky ridge above the Roya, was formerly the capital of a county comprising of all the coast to Porto Maurizio. What Mr. Adington Symonds says of Italian towns generally in the Middle Ages applies equally to those on the Riviera:—

“It would seem as though the most ancient furies of antagonistic races, enchained and suspended for centuries by the magic of Rome, had been unloosed; as though the indigenous populations, tamed by antique culture, were reverting to their primeval instincts. Nor is this the end of the perplexity. Not only are the cities at war with each other, but they are plunged in ceaseless strife within the circuit of their ramparts. The people with the nobles, the burghs with the castles, the plebeians with the burgher aristocracy, the men of commerce with the men of arms and ancient lineage, Guelfs and Ghibellines, clash together in persistent fury. One half the city expels the other half. The exiles roam abroad, cement alliances, and return to extirpate their conquerors.[265] Fresh proscriptions and new expulsions follow. Again alliances are made and revolutions are accomplished. All the ancient feuds of the towns are crossed, recrossed, and tangled in a web of madness that defies analysis.”[18]

Certain prominent and prevailing features pertain to this portion of the Ligurian seaboard. The towns, even the villages, are planted in spots as inaccessible as could be obtained; they were all walled about in the rocks whereon they stood, and were so crowded within their walls that the “high street” does not attain to a width beyond nine feet, and every lateral street is six feet and even less in width. The houses run to a great height, and hold themselves up mutually by throwing out buttresses, arched beneath, for their stay one against another. The inhabitants of the seaboard were driven to this by fear of the Moorish pirates.

These little communities organised themselves as republics, with their consuls, freely elected. But the nobles, living in their castles, looked upon them with jealous eyes. They had their serfs under them, and they saw that these villages and towns were growing in consequence and in wealth. Unhappily every town was at enmity with every other town—each was jealous of the other; and the nobles offered their services, generally to a distant town against that nearest at hand. When they had served against the rival place, they asked for, and were allowed, a town residence. Then the palace of the noble in the walled city, or even village, became a centre of intrigue. Parties were formed in every town, and the nobles and wealthy burghers arrogated to themselves supreme control over the affairs of the place. This led[266] to revolts and fighting in the streets. On the Ligurian coast, the Republic of Genoa stepped in, took advantage of these civic broils, and, by plausible assurances of good government under her strong hand, managed to get nearly the whole seaboard, with its towns, under her protection. The protection Genoa afforded soon turned to exaction and interference with the liberties of the towns she protected. Thenceforth ensued a series of revolts.

Ventimiglia, which was a place under the rule of its count, was taken and sacked by the Genoese in 1140, and its count constrained to make submission. The mouth of the Roya, with its harbour, excited the jealousy and ambition of Genoa, as did in like manner Nice and Villefranche; for Genoa desired to monopolise the whole of the trade of the Mediterranean along the Ligurian coast and Corsica. Allies and friendly towns could traffic freely with Genoa; but the ships of independent states were taxed, and their freights almost crushed by onerous duties, before they could enter the port. The sea-coast towns like Ventimiglia and Villefranche, not under Genoese control, were a hindrance to the control and monopoly of the entire trade by the grasping Republic, consequently the Genoese were persistent in their attempts to force them to submission.

In 1196 the count and the Genoese combined against the city of Ventimiglia, and failing, in spite of a siege of two months, to capture the town, they organised a league of the whole of Liguria against the gallant and resolute place. The allies established their camp on the Cape of S. Ampelio and ravaged the country, but could not reduce Ventimiglia. Then the Genoese spread a report that a large Ventimiglian galley which had been cruising off the Spanish coast had been captured, and[267] that all the crew would be hung unless the town surrendered. The Ventimiglians, in great alarm for their kinsmen, submitted, and the Genoese entered and took possession of the town.

In the year 1238 ensued a general rising in places of importance along the coast occasioned by the intolerable exactions of Genoa, and its interference with the liberties of the towns. The governor of Ventimiglia took refuge in the castle and sent a messenger to Genoa for help.

Fourteen Genoese galleys were despatched to his aid, and hovered about the mouth of the Roya. After a severe conflict, the Genoese succeeded in landing and taking the city. At this time a number of the citizens migrated and founded a colony at Bordighera, but of this the Genoese disapproved, and they sent a fleet in 1239 and destroyed the little settlement. The contests of Guelfs and Ghibellines broke out, to aggravate the disorder and misery of the country.

Some clear-headed men saw that Italy was, like ancient Greece, a congeries of conflicting atoms with no bond, no consistence, and no chance of becoming a nation, a power, that no chance existed of domestic strife being stayed unless there were some strong central government to hold all the jarring elements in compulsory quietude. They looked back to the grand days of Rome, and hoped, under an emperor, to make of Italy once again what she had been, a dominant power in the world, and one in which, within her Italian borders, peace would be maintained. This was the Ghibelline dream and policy. But the opposed faction was for the maintenance of the present disintegration, the continuance of the independence of every little town, or rather of its own party[268] in the town. The Pope naturally was zealous on this side. He dreaded an united and strong Italy, which would control him. His only chance of occupying the most prominent place and exerting the greatest power in the Peninsula lay in fomenting disorder, in setting every princeling and every town by the ears. Accordingly, whilst posturing as champion of the liberties of the republics, he was actuated solely by self-interest, which lay in keeping all powers in Italy weak by periodical blood-letting. The Papacy was the great and persistent enemy to national unity. The party of independence was that of the Guelfs.

Frederick II. united the empire and the kingdom of the Two Sicilies under one sceptre. Master of the South, he sought to recover the lost prerogatives of the empire in Lombardy and Tuscany, and it is probable that he would have succeeded and consolidated Italy into one kingdom but for the bitter hostility of the Papacy, which carried on an implacable war of extermination against the house of Hohenstaufen. The struggle was for an united Italy, a strong Italy, a peaceful Italy, and this was precisely what the Popes would not endure to have. They dreaded the formation of a single kingdom in Italy, with, as a consequence, the presence there of a rival and predominant power. But this purpose of the Popes was not seen clearly at the time. Dante saw it; he knew that the future of Italy was involved in the contest, and he could not understand aloofness in the strife. He terms those who did not feel the pangs and ecstasies of partisanship in this mortal strife, “wretches who never lived,” and he consigned them to wander homeless on the skirts of limbo, among the off-scourings of creation.


Banners, ensigns, heraldic colours, followed the divisions of faction. Ghibellines wore the feathers in their caps on one side, Guelfs on the other. Ghibellines cut up their fruit at table crosswise, Guelfs straight down; Ghibellines sported white roses, Guelfs affected those that were red. Yawning, throwing of dice, gestures in speaking, and swearing, served as pretexts for distinguishing the one half of Italy from the other. So late as the middle of the fifteenth century, the Ghibellines of Milan pulled down the figure of Christ from the high altar of Crema, and burnt it, because the face was turned towards the Guelf shoulder.[19] The Grimaldi were strong Guelfs; the county of Nice was so as well, but the town was Ghibelline. The Lascaris of Tende and Ventimiglia, the Dorias of Dolceacqua and Oneglia were Ghibelline.

The county of Ventimiglia had been formed in 778 by Charlemagne, and given by him to a Genoese noble, Guido Guerra, with the title of Marquess of the Maritime Alps, on condition that he should maintain at his own cost a company of soldiers to defend the littoral within his Marquisate. The county passed in the thirteenth century to William, son of the Greek Emperor Lascaris II., of Nicæa, who married the heiress and descendant of the Guido Guerra family. But William Lascaris soon after ceded the county to Charles of Anjou, in exchange for diverse other fiefs in the interior of Provence, amongst others that of Tourvès, between Brignoles and S. Maximin, where may be seen the ruins of the noble castle of the Lascaris. In 1266, Charles of Anjou, in his turn, ceded the county of Ventimiglia to the Grimaldi and Fieschi, consuls of the Republic of Genoa, on the condition that they should furnish provisions and[270] munitions to the Provençal troops occupying the kingdom of Naples.

The county of Tende was founded by Charles of Anjou for the Princess Irene, daughter of Theodore Lascaris, and sister of the above-mentioned William, when she married Robert Guerra of the family of the Counts of Ventimiglia, and Robert then abandoned his patronymic of Guerra and assumed that of Lascaris. The county of Tende subsisted till 1579, and was then ceded by Henrietta, Duchess of Maine, last descendant of the Lascaris-Guerra to Emmanuel-Philibert, Duke of Savoy.

Theodore Lascaris I. had married Anna, daughter of Alexis III., and he was chosen Emperor of Constantinople at the time when the Crusaders occupied Byzantium and founded there a Latin empire, under Baldwin of Flanders, 1204. Theodore was constrained to fly into Anatolia and make of Nicæa the capital of the Greek empire; so it remained till the expulsion of the Latins in 1261. The only daughter of Theodore Lascaris I. married John Ducas, who succeeded to the Empire of Nicæa. Ducas died in 1255, leaving a son, Theodore Lascaris II., who died in 1259, and his eight-year-old son John remained to be the victim of the unscrupulous Michael Palæologus, who had his eyes torn out. This John had, however, five sisters, and one of these, Eudoxia, in 1263 married William, Count of Ventimiglia; and another, Irene, became, as already said, the mother and ancestress of the Lascaris Counts of Tende. The Lascaris arms are: gules, a two-headed eagle displayed, or.

Paul Louis Lascaris, who entered the Order of Malta, belonged to the Ventimiglian branch of the family.[271] He was born in Provence in 1774. He was on the isle when Napoleon appeared before Malta in 1798. Hompesch was Grand Master, a weak old man; the knights of the Order might easily have defended the island till the English fleet under Nelson came to its aid, but French gold and promises had created a party of traitors within; of these Lascaris was chief, and on June 11th La Valetta capitulated. “On my word,” said General Caffarelli, “it is well that there was someone inside to unlock the gates to us, for otherwise we should never have got in.”

After his treason Lascaris did not venture to remain in Malta, but attended Bonaparte to Egypt. Upon the rupture of the Treaty of Amiens in 1803, Napoleon, having resolved on attacking the English in India, commissioned Lascaris to go to the East, there make the necessary studies for the execution of his plan, and explore the frontiers, map down roads, wells, etc. Whilst Lascaris was in the East he married a beautiful Georgian akin to Soliman Pacha. In 1810 he visited in succession the Arab tribes in Mesopotamia, and turned his face homewards in 1814. On reaching Constantinople he heard of the fall of Bonaparte, and departed for Cairo, where he died shortly after, and all his notes and maps fell into the hands of the British consul there. All known of his adventures in the East comes from a narrative given to the world by his dragoman Fatalba.

Ventimiglia is not only in itself a marvel of picturesqueness, occupying a ridge above the Roya, but its situation, with the sea before and the snow-clad Alps behind, is exquisitely beautiful.

The streets are narrow, as space was precious, but[272] the Strada Grande is lined with quaint old houses of the city nobility and well-to-do citizens, and have marble balconies, their sculptured entrances, and heraldic decorations. The cathedral occupies a terrace, with the palace of the Lascaris having an open loggia and staircase on one side of the piazza. The cathedral, dedicated to S. Barnabas, fondly deemed to have founded it, is a fine church of the thirteenth century, vaulted without groining ribs. Beneath it, at the east end, is the very early baptistery, unhappily remodelled in the seventeenth century. This contains a huge stone baptismal basin, with stage inside on which children could stand, whereas it is deep in the middle for adults. Two recesses are at the sides; one of these is for the priest performing the ceremony. In the vestries are portraits of the bishops, several in surplice and rochet, looking very much like English prelates.

But more interesting even than the cathedral is S. Michaele, at the farther end of the town, a church of the twelfth century, with a rich west doorway, having on the capitals a range of quaint carving of human beings. The church is vaulted in the same manner as the cathedral. Beneath the choir is a crypt, one pillar of which is a milestone from the Via Aurelia, of the time of the Emperor Antoninus. A slab in the floor bears rich early interlaced work.

The side aisles of this church had fallen into ruin, but have been judiciously restored, along with the body of the church.

Outside the walls of the town, towering above it, are the remains of a castle, which is held to date from Roman times, but which was enlarged, altered, and mainly rebuilt in mediæval days.



At Camporosso, up the Nervia, is a little church of the early part of the twelfth century, now serving as chapel to the cemetery. It has apse and tower of this period; the rest has been rebuilt. It is constructed of rolled stones from the river-bed. The roof consists of slabs of nummulite limestone.

Above Camporosso on the Nervia is Dolceacqua.

“After winding through woods of olives, carpeted in spring by young corn and bright green flax, Dolceacqua suddenly bursts upon the view, stretching across a valley, whose sides are covered with forests of olives and chestnuts, and which is backed by fine snow mountains. Through the town winds the deep blue stream of the Nervia, flowing under a tall bridge of one wide arch, and above frowns the huge palatial castle, perched upon a perpendicular cliff, with sunlight streaming through its long lines of glassless windows. The streets are almost closed in with archways, which give them the look of gloomy crypts, only opening here and there to let in a ray of sunlight and a strip of blue sky. They lead up the steep ascent to the castle where the Doria once reigned as sovereign princes.”[20]

An electric tram connects Ventimiglia with Bordighera. This latter place is unceremoniously dismissed by Hare in these words: “The town contains nothing worth seeing.” The statement is certainly incorrect. Old Bordighera contains a good deal that is worth seeing—the quaint town gates, the steep and picturesque streets, and the glorious view from the little piazza before the church. There also by the seaside is the chapel of S. Ampelio with its cave, in which the apostle of the district lived and died.

Little authentic is known of S. Ampelio, for there is no early life of him extant. Tradition says that he[274] was a blacksmith from the Thebaid, who left Egypt and settled here. His bones were carried off in the twelfth century to San Remo, and thence later to Genoa. The fête of S. Ampelio is on May 14th. The chapel was enlarged and restored in 1852.

The transfer of the relics of S. Ampelio to San Remo exhibits a curious feature of mediæval enthusiasm. In 1140 the citizens of San Remo, at war with Ventimiglia, took a number of the townsmen prisoners. They would release them on one condition only, that they should reveal where were secreted the bones of S. Ampelio. The Ventimiglians, to obtain their liberty, betrayed the secret; the old hermit had been laid in the grotto he had inhabited during his life. Thereupon the people of San Remo carried off his body.

What is the peculiar fancy for possessing a few pounds of phosphate of lime? Whence comes the devotion to relics?

S. Chrysostom tells us of pilgrims travelling from the ends of the earth to Arabia to see Job’s dunghill, and he says that they drew “much profit and philosophy” from the sight.

One can understand how that certain churches should be greedy to possess relics, and steal, or even invent them, because the possession brought money into their coffers; but the money would not have come had there not been, deep-seated in the hearts of the people, a conviction that there was something supernatural, a divine power surrounding and emanating from these relics.



For my own part I think it is a survival of the worship of ancestors that existed among the prehistoric races of Europe. We know that to them the sepulchre, the dolmen, the kistvaen, the cairn, were the most holy spots in the world, the centres of their common life, the tie that bound a clan together. When these primeval people became absorbed in conquering races, and adopted other religions, they carried along with them the cult of old bones and ashes. The ancestor was forgotten, and the spiritual father, the saint, took his place, and the worship of the dead was transferred from the ancestor of the tribe to the apostle of the new religion in the district.

Bordighera was founded in 1470 by thirty-two families, who migrated to it from Ventimiglia. There was, however, at the time some portion of walls standing, and these new settlers completed the enclosure, and squatted within.

At one time, perhaps even then, the sea came up to the foot of the rock, where are now orange and lemon orchards, but the current that sets from west to east along this coast filled it up. On digging, the old sea-shore is found, and the name Bordighera signifies a creek provided with stakes and nets for catching fish.

Bordighera is happy in having had an exhaustive historian, Mr. F. F. Hamilton (Bordighera and the Western Riviera, London, 1883), and this work is supplemented by Mr. W. Scott’s Rock Villages of the Riviera, London, 1898, by which he means the villages built upon rocky heights. He describes only such, however, as are near Bordighera. This book will be a help to such as desire to make excursions from that winter resort, and these two works together render it unnecessary for me to enter more fully into the history of Ventimiglia and its offspring Bordighera, and into minute description of them and their neighbourhood.



Two San Remos—The Pinecone—Earthquakes—Matuta—Sold to the Genoese—Church of S. Syro—Domestic architecture unchanging—Narrow streets—Leprosy—San Romolo—Lampedusa—River names—Taggia—Doctor Antonio—Home of Ruffini—The Bresca family—Raising of the obelisk in the piazza of S. Peter—Palms—How bleached—The date-palm.

THERE are two San Remos, that of to-day, with its pretentious villas rivalling each other in ugliness, and the old San Remo. The former is clean with open spaces, a broad main street, and is dotted about with palms and agaves in sub-tropical gardens. The old San Remo is a network, a labyrinth of narrow, tortuous lanes. This old portion goes by the name of la Pigna, the Pinecone, because of the manner in which the ancient houses are grouped, pressed together one on another, rising towards a culminating conical point.



The old town is built upon a hill that descends gently to the sea, and whose summit is crowned by a sanctuary. The streets twist about, are steep, with steps, and paved with bricks or rolled stones. The old houses elbow one another away to get a little breath, or sustain themselves from falling by stretching out a flying buttress, each against its vis-à-vis, like tipsy men with linked arms hoping to keep their feet by mutual support. For all this coast is liable to be shaken by earthquakes. Diano Marina was the central point of one in February, 1887, that shook down half the village. Baiardo was completely ruined, and church and houses have all been rebuilt. Numerous lives were lost on this occasion. This portion of the Riviera, though more sheltered than the French Côte d’Azur, cannot boast the beauty of mountain outline. It is only when a river comes down from the Alps that a view of the snowy peaks is obtained up its course. The rock is all limestone and conglomerate, and the slopes are terraced and studded with olives. The general tints have a sameness and dulness that is not found on the French Riviera. The hills seem to have been enveloped in sail-cloth and rolled in powdered sage-leaves. San Remo lies in the lap of a crescent bay, of which Cap Verde on the West and Cap Nera on the East are the two horns. It faces the South, and a double reef of mountains to the North arrests the winds from that cold quarter of the heavens. The shelter thus afforded, the focussing of the sun’s rays on this spot, and the fertility of the soil, unite to make the vegetation luxuriant and varied.

By the shore we have orange and lemon groves, the delicious mandarin orange, and the pomegranate, tropic palms, agaves, and cactus mingled with cedars. Higher up are olive gardens, chestnuts. “Tenens media omnia silvæ,” the pine woods stretch to the top of the hills that engirdle San Remo.

M. Reclus observes:—

“Strange to say, trees do not ascend to the same height on these slopes of the Apennines as on the Alps, though the mean temperature is far higher; and at an altitude at which the beech still attains noble proportions in Switzerland we find it here stunted in growth. Larches are hardly ever seen. The[278] sea is as sterile as the land. There are neither shallows, islands, nor seaweed, affording shelter for fish. The cliffs descend precipitously to the sea, and the narrow strips of beach, extending from promontory to promontory, consist of sand only, without the admixture of a single shell.”

The ancient name of the place was Matuta, but it had been destroyed again and again by the Saracens till the year 1038, when the Count of Ventimiglia made the place over to the Archbishop of Genoa; he disposed of it to two nobles, Doria and Mari. But the Dorias were Ghibelline and the Maris belonged to the opposed faction, leading to terrible broils. Finally, in 1361 the Genoese Republic became sole possessors. The town took the name of S. Romulus, as possessing the bones of that saint, and the old name of Matuta fell into desuetude. Saint Romulus has been altered and corrupted into San Remo. Doubtless whilst under the rule of the Archbishop of Genoa the interesting church of S. Syro was built. The style is Lombardic Romanesque. It was frightfully mutilated in or about 1620, when the apse was altered and lengthened, and a hideous baroque façade was erected, like the canvas-painted frontage to a show in a fair. At the same time the interior features were disguised under plaster and paint. In 1745 an English fleet bombarded San Remo, and the spire was knocked to pieces and replaced by a hideous structure. But recently a complete restoration has been effected; the façade has been pulled down, revealing the original features, and the whole, externally and internally, treated with such scrupulous fidelity to what was the original style, that the result is that the church of S. Syro is now one of the finest monuments of Christian art on the Riviera.



The visitor from the north of Europe is perplexed how to determine approximately the dates of the domestic buildings in every one of these Ligurian towns and villages. The architecture has a modern look, and yet the houses are decrepit, ruinous, and shabby. The windows and doors are square-headed, with scarce a moulding to differentiate them, and the pointed arch is only seen in the bridges that tie the houses together. Rarely, only in some palace or town hall, does the swallow-tail crenelation, or a feeble imitation of Gothic cornice, speak of the Middle Ages. The fact is that the streets are so narrow that there is no room for display of street architecture in these lanes, culs de sac, and thoroughfares, that allow no wheeled conveyance to pass up and down. The houses set their noses against each other and stare into each other’s eyes. There is no privacy there, not even in smells. If a man eats garlic, every one sniffs it in the house opposite. If a woman administers a curtain lecture, all the occupants of the houses vis-à-vis prick up their ears, listen to every word, and mark every intonation of voice. Into no single room has the sun looked for a thousand years, and air has been but grudgingly admitted, and never allowed to circulate. The houses run up five, six, even seven storeys, and are tenanted by many families. Those nearest the pavement partake of the first whiff of the garbage of the street, the dejections of the tenants in the tenements above; and those in the topmost storey inhale the flavour of stale humanity ascending from all the flats below.

But to revert to the architecture. I do not suppose that it has altered since classic times. We know how it was in Rome among the insulæ, blocks of dwellings[280] crowding the densely occupied lower parts of the town, running up to great heights, and swarming with people living on the several stages. The palaces of the nobility, where facing the street, looked like the fronts of modern factories. Happily, in Rome one such remains, in the wall of the church of SS. John and Paul, on the Monte Clivo. It is a lofty red-brick front, without an ornament, pierced formerly with square-headed windows or windows very slightly arched with bricks, precisely such a face as may be seen to a factory in a side lane of Manchester, Birmingham, or Leeds.

The Roman noble kept all his decoration for the inside of his house; his colonnade was towards his enclosed garden, his marbles about his atrium; externally his mansion was a barrack. Pointed architecture never was assimilated by the Italian. He endured it; he used it for churches, always with a difference. But for his home he would have none of it. He was surrounded by remains of the period of Roman domination over the world, vast structures, solid and enduring. Temples fell and were despoiled to decorate churches, but private dwellings, though they might be gutted, could not be defaced, when they had no face to be mutilated. Vandal, Lombard, Saracen, swept over the land, burnt and pillaged, but left the solid walls standing to be re-roofed and re-occupied after they were gone. Nothing but the recurrent earthquake affected these structures. And when a house was shaken down it was rebuilt on the same lines. If a bit of ornament were desired it was copied, and badly copied, from some relic of classic times. Consequently there has been incessant reproduction of one type. Thus all these old Ligurian towns and villages appear as if built at one and the same time, in one and the same style, and all to have fallen simultaneously into the same disorder, dirt, and raggedness.



Near to S. Syro is a hospital for leprosy, a disease which long lingered on in San Remo. Happily it has disappeared—at all events from this town—and in 1883 the building became the Civic Hospital. But leprosy is by no means extinct on the Ligurian coast;

“it is hopelessly incurable, the limbs and the faces of the lepers being gradually eaten away, so that with several, while you look upon one side of the face, and see it apparently in the bloom of health and youth, the other has already fallen away and ceased to exist. The disease is hereditary, having remained in certain families of this district almost from time immemorial. The members of these families are prohibited from intermarrying with those of others, or indeed from marrying at all, unless it is believed that they are free from any seeds of the fatal inheritance. Sometimes the marriages, when sanctioned by magistrates and clergy, are contracted in safety, but often, after a year or two of wedded life, the terrible enemy appears again, and existence becomes a curse; thus the fearful legacy is handed on.”—Hare.

The marvel is that plague, leprosy, and typhoid fever are not endemic in these Ligurian towns. But the winter visitor to San Remo may be at ease, he will see no lepers in the place now. Should a case occur, it would at once be removed out of sight.

As already said, San Remo takes its name from S. Romulus, a bishop, whose festival is on October 13th. Almost nothing is certainly known of this Bishop of Genoa, who is thought to have died in the year 350. The story goes that in old age he retired from his charge to a cave or Barma in the mountains, about five miles from San Remo. Here formerly was a[282] Benedictine convent, now the very modern building is occupied by sisters, and the cave of S. Romolo has been converted into a church with an ugly façade. On the fête day plenty of Sanremois visit the shrine, some out of devotion, some for the sake of a picnic, and many from mixed motives.

But the most delightful excursion that may be made from San Remo is to Lampedusa, above the Taggia. For that no better guide can be had than Ruffini’s delightful novel, Dr. Antonio:—

“A broad, smooth road, opening from Castellaro northwards, and stretching over the side of the steep mountains in capricious zig-zags, now conceals, now gives to view, the front of the sanctuary, shaded by two oaks of enormous dimensions. The Castellini, who made this road in the sweat of their brows, point it out with pride, and well they may. They tell you with infinite complacency how every one of the pebbles with which it is paved was brought from the sea-shore, those who had mules using them for that purpose, those who had none bringing up loads on their own backs; how every one, gentleman and peasant, young and old, women and boys, worked day and night with no other inducement than the love of the Madonna. The Madonna of Lampedusa is their creed, their occupation, their pride, their carroccio, their fixed idea.

“All that relates to the miraculous image, and the date and mode of its translation to Castellaro, is given at full length in two inscriptions, one in Latin, the other in bad Italian verses, which are to be seen in the interior of the little chapel of the sanctuary. Andrea Anfosso, a native of Castellaro, being the captain of a privateer, was one day attacked and defeated by the Turks, and carried to the Isle of Lampedusa. Here he succeeded in making his escape, and hiding himself until the Turkish vessel which had captured him left the island. Anfosso, being a man of expedients, set about building a boat, and[283] finding himself in a great dilemma what to do for a sail, ventured on the bold and original step of taking from the altar of some church or chapel of the island a picture of the Madonna to serve as one; and so well did it answer his purpose, that he made a most prosperous voyage back to his native shores, and, in a fit of generosity, offered his holy sail to the worship of his fellow townsmen. The wonder of the affair does not stop here. A place was chosen by universal acclamation, two gun-shots in advance of the present sanctuary, and a chapel erected, in which the gift was deposited with all due honour. But the Madonna, as it would seem, had an insurmountable objection to the spot selected, for, every morning that God made, the picture was found in the exact spot where the actual church now stands. At length the Castellini came to understand that it was the Madonna’s express wish that her headquarters should be shifted to where her resemblance betook itself every night; and though it had pleased her to make choice of the most abrupt and the steepest spot on the whole mountain, just where it was requisite to raise arches in order to lay a sure foundation for her sanctuary, the Castellini set themselves con amore to the task so clearly revealed to them, and this widely-renowned chapel was completed. This took place in 1619. In the course of time some wings were annexed for the accommodation of visitors and pilgrims, and a terrace built; for though the Castellini have but a small purse, theirs is the great lever which can remove all impediments—the faith that brought about the Crusades.

“To the north a long, long vista of deep, dark, frowning gorges, closed in the distance by a gigantic screen of snow-clad Alps—the glorious expanse of the Mediterranean to the south-east and west, range upon range of gently undulating hills, softly inclining towards the sea—in the plain below the fresh, cozy valley of Taggia, with its sparkling track of waters, and rich belt of gardens, looking like a perfect mosaic of every gradation of green, chequered with winding silver arabesques.[284] Ever and anon a tardy pomegranate in full blossom spreads out its oriflamme of tulip-shaped dazzling red flowers. From the rising ground opposite frowns mediæval Taggia, like a discontented guest at a splendid banquet. A little farther off westward, the eye takes in the campanile of the Dominican church, emerging from a group of cypresses, and farther still, on the extreme verge of the western cliff, the sanctuary of Our Lady of the Guardia shows its white silhouette against the dark blue sky.”

The name of the river Taggia is synonymous with Tay, Taw, Tavy; as the Roya is akin to the Irish Rye, the Spanish Riga. The Neva that mingles its waters with the Arrosetta, has a cognate Neva in Russia, a Nahe in Germany, a Never in Wales, and a diminutive Nivelle in France. The brawling Loup does not take its name from a wolf. It is misspelled through a false etymology. It should be Lou, like the river that enters the Dordogne, and the Devon Lew, the Lee, and Lech by Ulm. Whence come the many similar river names of Europe? They are doubtless the most ancient designations we have, those that have least changed; they were given by the earliest inhabitants of Europe, and have adhered to these ever-flowing streams, modified here and there, but always showing how ancient and primeval they are. Adam named the beasts, but who—what race—named the rivers? It must have been a race that occupied almost the whole of Europe. Was it those mighty men of old, who lie smothered in red ochre in Barma Grande by Mentone, or was it the mysterious people who reared the rude stone monuments, and who have left scanty traces of their lost language embedded in Welsh and Irish?

Taggia itself surely deserves a visit from every one who has read and loved Dr. Antonio; for there lived[285] the gifted author Giovanni Ruffini from 1875 to 1881, the year in which he died. The remains of his house are shown. The church also deserves a visit, on account of the paintings on wood by Brea and other artists of the fifteenth century. One painting on a gold ground by Brea, or a disciple, in the chapel of the tombs of the Curlo family, is specially noticeable for its beauty. On the Piazza Umberto I. stands a monument erected in 1896 to the memory of the three Ruffini brothers, who strove for the unification of Italy.

The story of the Bresca family of San Remo acquiring the privilege of furnishing palms to Rome, granted by Sixtus V. in 1586, is well known, but must not be left unnoticed here.

An obelisk was being elevated in the piazza before S. Peter’s. This obelisk had been brought to Rome from Heliopolis by Caligula, in a ship which Pliny describes as being “nearly as long as the left side of the port of Ostia.” Sixtus V. was resolved on Christianising or demolishing the relics of pagan Rome. The obelisk, if set up before S. Peter’s, might serve to support a cross. It was removed from its place in the Circus of Nero by 800 men and 150 horses, under the supervision of Domenico Fontana, who was threatened with death if he failed. When it was about to be reared, Sixtus threatened death to man, woman, or child who should speak whilst the huge mass was being elevated by means of forty-six cranes. The great stone was slowly rising to its base, when suddenly it ceased to move, and it was evident that the ropes were yielding. An awful moment of suspense ensued, when the dead silence was broken by a shout: “Acqua alle funi!” (Throw water on the ropes!) The workmen at once cast bucketfuls of the[286] liquid over the cordage, that at once began to shrink, and raised the monstrous mass, and settled it upon its base.

The man who saved the obelisk was Bresca, a sea captain of a fishing smack at San Remo. Sixtus V. inquired after him, and promised him, what cost himself nothing, as a reward, that ever thenceforth his family and his native village should have the privilege of furnishing the palms for S. Peter’s on Palm Sunday.

In order to bleach the leaves for this purpose they are tied up in a way very similar to that employed by market gardeners to obtain white centres to lettuces. It cannot be said that the leaves are made more beautiful by the process; on the contrary, they lose what little beauty they had. The branches are bound up so as to form a vertical roll, in the centre of which are the young leaves, that have to struggle up, shut off from light and air, with the result that sickly, ugly strips are produced, which are sent throughout the Catholic world for use on the Sunday before Easter. Ten thousand times preferable are our pretty “palms,” the catkin-bearing willow twigs.

The date palm is not indigenous. It was probably introduced by the Crusaders. In an illustration to a MS. of the Geography of Strabo, presented by Guarini to King Réné, the king is shown seated with a full-grown palm tree in the background. Indeed, in the tympanum of the north doorway of S. Syro, at San Remo, is a representation of a male and a female palm tree with an Agnus Dei between them.

The date palm is multiplied by seed and by suckers. This last mode of propagation is the most advantageous, as all the plants so produced are females and fruit[287] bearers; and they will bear at the age of five or six years, whereas those raised from seed produce dates only after they have attained an age of fifteen or twenty years.

But it is in a few nooks only of the Riviera that the date palm ripens its fruit, and that but occasionally, for the winter comes on before it has reached maturity, and it fails to acquire the flavour and sweetness which is attained in Africa. It cannot be said that the huge bunches of dates in their husks hanging on the trees, of a sickly yellow, are beautiful.



Admirable site—Old Alassio—Church of San Ambrogio—Palace of the Ferreri—Arco Romano—Gallinaria—Saint Martin—Andora—Oneglia—Andrew Doria, the Admiral—Albenga—Retreat of the Sea—Proculus—Cathedral—Baptistery—Piazza dei Leoni—The Towers—S. Maria in Fontibus—Garlenda—Beauty of Drive.

ALASSIO falls short of other winter resorts in no degree, in sweetness of situation, shelter from blustering cold winds, and in abundance of objects of interest in the neighbourhood. In climate, in everything but one, it equals San Remo, Bordighera, and Mentone. The one thing it lacks is good shops.

Alassio consists of one narrow street a mile and a half in length, out of which radiate towards the sea passages under arches. It does not contain, in itself, much of interest. The church and the palace of the Ferreri exhaust the place. The church of San Ambrogio has a tower of the thirteenth century, and the old church, altered, remains, with a later church built on to it in the south in late renaissance times, that is distinctly pleasing, with its white and black marble and blue-grey stucco, between the marble pilasters.

The palace of the Ferreri family, with its rich and cumbrous gateways sculptured with the family arms,[289] contains fine tapestries, family portraits, and rich furniture.

The arms of the town are curious: argent, a tower out of which rises a king crowned and wearing garments red and green.

A favourite excursion from Alassio is to the Arco Romano, a Roman arch, through which a lovely peep of the sea is obtained. To the east appears the curious isle of Gallinaria, shaped like a snail, with the ruins of a Benedictine monastery on it. In 358, in the midst of the war against the Allemanni, when the Emperor Julian was at Worms, Martin, who was in the army, and a tribune, asked to be released from military duty. Julian was indignant. A battle was imminent, and he scornfully refused the petition, and charged Martin with cowardice. The young tribune replied, “Put me in the forefront of the army, without weapons or armour, and prove if I be what you say.”

However, the Allemanni asked for peace, it was granted, thereupon Martin obtained his dismissal. He then went to Poitiers and placed himself under the teaching of S. Hilary. Then he departed to visit his parents in Pannonia. As he crossed the Alps he was attacked by robbers and plundered of all he had. On reaching his native city of Sabaria, Martin succeeded in converting his mother to Christ, but his father persisted in his paganism. Then he returned to Italy, and after tarrying awhile at Milan, where he was vexed by the Arians, he took refuge on this islet of Gallinaria. There he lived on roots, and nearly poisoned himself by accidentally eating the hellebore, attracted by its dark green leaves and pale flowers. Providentially the spasms caused by the poison came on so rapidly as[290] to check him from eating enough to kill him; but he suffered great pain, and lay at death’s door. A cave is shown in the island which S. Martin is traditionally held to have inhabited. After some sojourn on Gallinaria, Martin left it and went back to Poitiers.

To visit the curious old mountain village of Andora, one must leave the train at Laigueglia, before it rushes into the tunnel pierced through the spur of rock on which Andora stands. The church dedicated to SS. Philip and James is in Lombardic Gothic of the fourteenth century, and is one of the most interesting monuments of the style in Liguria. Above the high altar is a crucifix of carved wood, the figure of natural size, believed to be still earlier than the church, which dates from 1341.

Adjoining the church is a tower with swallow-tail battlements, that belonged to the old castle, but has now been united to the church. There are also at Andora the ruins of a feudal castle, the Parasio, the residence of the Podesta till 1797. There are also remains of a Roman aqueduct and a Roman bridge over the river, still in good condition.

Oneglia was the birthplace of Andrew Doria, the great admiral. It is an ugly town; the prison is in the shape of a cross, with a huge lantern at the junction of the arms lighted through cockney Gothic windows.

The Dorias, Fieschi, Grimaldi, and Spinolas were the four principal families of Genoa. Simone Doria, who lived in 1270, was a Troubadour, and he once had a dispute with Lanfranc Cigala as to which was preferable, to deserve the favour of a lady or to possess it. Doria maintained the latter proposition. “I did once suppose,” said Lanfranc, “that merit carried a lady’s[291] favour, I now know that impudence gains it. Doria has taught me that.”

Andrew Doria was born at Oneglia in 1468. He was son of Andrew Coeva, of the Dorias, that were Princes of Oneglia, but as this Andrew represented a junior branch, he came into but a small slice of the inheritance, and, dying early, his widow, mother of the great Andrew, thought it well to get as the protector of her boy Dominico Doria, belonging to the elder branch, and this she obtained by ceding to him the rights in Oneglia that had belonged to her husband. Dominico was then captain of the guards to Pope Innocent VIII., and he put the young Andrew in his company. Andrew forged ahead, and became a naval captain of great importance. He had no scruples, and he passed from side to side, as best conduced to his interests. At one time he fought for Francis I., and then he went over to the service of Charles V. When these rivals met at Aigues Mortes, Francis I. mounted the galley of the great admiral, and noticed a bronze cannon with on it the Arms of France. He looked hard at Doria, who said, “This gun is of excellent metal.” “I cast better cannons now,” remarked the King, meaning that he offered better pay than formerly.

“The Emperor’s metal is good enough for me,” retorted Doria. Francis turned to the Emperor and said, “You made a good catch when you netted Doria. Mind you keep him.”

Against the judgment of Doria Charles V. undertook his disastrous expedition against Algiers in 1541. In 1539 Doria, with the Imperial fleet, that of Venice, and that of the Pope, lighted on the very inferior Turkish fleet under Kheyr-ed-din Barbarossa, off Previsa.[292] The Christian strength was really overwhelming. Eighty Venetians, thirty-six Papal and thirty Spanish galleys, together with fifty sailing galleons, made up the formidable total of nearly two hundred ships of war, and they carried scarcely less than 60,000 men and 2,500 guns. Doria was in chief command, Capello and Grimano led the Venetian and Roman contingents. On September 25th the allied fleets appeared off the Gulf. Barbarossa had 122 ships of war.

On the morning of the 27th the corsairs were amazed to see Doria sail away. Germano and Capello went on board the flagship and urged Doria to engage the enemy; they even implored him to depart himself, and allow them to fight the battle with their own ships, but in vain.

“The result was practically a victory, and a signal victory, for the Turks. Two hundred splendid vessels of three great Christian States had fled before an inferior force of Ottomans; and it is no wonder that Sultan Suleyman, when he learnt the news at Yamboli, illuminated the town, and added 100,000 piasters a year to the revenues of Barbarossa.”[21]

“It was,” says Brantôme, “a common opinion at the time that there existed a secret engagement between Barbarossa and Doria to avoid fighting each other on decisive occasions, so as to prolong the war, which gave both of them employment, and furnished them with means of acquiring wealth.”

What seems to confirm this was the setting at liberty by Doria of the renegade corsair Dragut, who had been made prisoner, and who was a favourite of Barbarossa, and a scourge to the Christians.

In 1547 a conspiracy of the Fieschi almost cost Andrew Doria his life. His nephew was murdered by them, but at the same time Giovanni Luigi Fieschi was drowned. Grief and resentment provoked Andrew Doria to commit acts of atrocious cruelty.



Scarcely was this conspiracy crushed, before Giulio Cibo, brother-in-law of Giovanni Luigi Fieschi, formed another out of the remnant of the faction. This was discovered; Cibo had his head struck off, and all the rest of the Fieschi and those who held by them were banished. The brother of Giovanni Luigi fell into Doria’s hands, and was by his orders sewn up in a sack and thrown into the sea.

Andrew had been much worried by a pilot asking him for this and for that. Doria said, “If you speak again to me more than three words, I will have you hung.” “Pay or discharge,” said the pilot. Doria laughed, gave him his pay, and retained his services.

Andrew Doria met with a great reverse at the hands of that same Dragut whom he had released to please Barbarossa. In 1552 Dragut came on him when he was least awares, and put him to flight. Dragut pursued him, sank two of his vessels, captured seven of his fleet with seven hundred German soldiers, and their captain, Nicolas Madrucci.

Andrew died in his splendid palace near Genoa in 1560, at the age of 93, without leaving issue by his wife who was niece of Pope Innocent VIII.

Albenga, easily reached from Alassio, either by road or rail, is a most interesting but unhealthy town. It lies low where three rivers, uniting, empty into the sea, and the plain is made up of deposits brought down by them. Anciently the sea reached to its walls, and only withdrew in the tenth century. Albenga was the capital of the Ligurian Ingauni, and a great naval station. Thence sailed a fleet of thirty-two ships which[294] fought the Romans in B.C. 20. It helped Hannibal with ships and men, and when Magone, brother of Hannibal, was wounded, he retired to Albenga to be cured.

Afterwards it became, but reluctantly, allied to Rome. In the times of Probus, A.D. 276-282, a native of Albenga, named Proculus, a man of extraordinary strength, set up to be emperor, but was speedily killed. Constantine, a grandee of the Court of Honorius, A.D. 395-423, fortified the town, and he it was who built the Ponte Longo, a Roman bridge now sunk to the spring of the arches, and deserted by the river, which has completely altered its course.

Albenga has a most interesting cathedral of the twelfth century that has been mutilated and altered internally into a rococo temple. The west front was partly removed in renaissance times and rebuilt, clumsily; but externally, the east end with its apses tells of the true antiquity of the church. Hard by is what is still more venerable: a baptistery, half buried in the soil, of the fifth (?) century. It is descended into by fourteen steps, so greatly has the soil risen since it was built. The building is octagonal, and had its windows filled with pierced slabs of stone; of these fillings in only two remain, one very rich, with carved interlaced work as well as with perforations. Within is a large font for immersion, as at Ventimiglia, and the vault is sustained by eight granite columns, probably taken from a Pagan temple. The altar is ancient, enriched with mosaic work representing the Agnus Dei surrounded by twelve doves.

At the east end of the cathedral is the Piazza dei Leoni, where are three rude stone lions, remains of a monument raised in 1288, but taken from an earlier Roman structure.


That which strikes the visitor especially, coming from France, are the towers of the nobles. “Its thirteen mediæval towers,” says Hare, “remind the Italian traveller of S. Gimignano, rising out of the plain like a number of tall ninepins set close together.” I do not think there are thirteen; certainly not that number of lofty towers; but the earthquake of 1887 damaged, or threw down, several.

The finest are the Torre Balestrino, the cathedral tower, and the Torre del Comune. Five of the old gates remain. The church of S. Maria in Fontibus, in Genoese Gothic, striped black and white marble, takes its name from a spring that rises under the altar, and was supposed to possess miraculous powers for the healing of lepers.

A beautiful drive from Albenga up the valley leads to Garlenda, where are paintings by Domenichino, a S. Maurus, a Martyrdom of S. Erasmus, by Poussin; and a Nativity of Our Lady by Guercino. At the time of the French Revolution, when the troops were pouring over the frontier into Italy, the parishioners of Garlenda, fearful of being robbed of these artistic treasures, removed and hid them.

The road to Garlenda passes through orchards of peaches and fields of narcissus.

“The valley is radiantly beautiful in spring. Overhead are tall peach trees with their luxuriance of pink blossom. Beneath these the vines cling in Bacchanalian festoons, leaping from tree to tree, and below all large melons, young corn, and bright green flax, waving here and there into sheets of blue flower, form the carpet of Nature. Sometimes gaily-painted towers and ancient palazzi, with carved armorial gateways and arched porticoes, break in upon the solitude of the valley.”—Hare.



The city and port—Pope Sixtus IV.—The Della Rovere family—Nepotism—Assassination of Giuliano di Medici—Methods of filling the treasury—Sixtus and the Spirituals—Julius II.—A fighting pope: his portrait by Raphael—Pius VII. at Savona: his removal from Rome—Death of Princess Borgia—Bishop Grossulano—The Margravate of Savona—The Sanctuario—Crowned images—Jacques de Voragine—The Albizzola Palace: and Gardens—Mme. de Genlis and travelling on Corniche Road—Ruined palaces of Liguria.

SAVONA, with its port, its towers, its engirdling mountains, and its wide-stretching orange and lemon orchards, is a very charming town.

The port, with its picturesque tower, engages the eye at once. The cathedral, built in 1604, is in the uninteresting style of that period. It contains some good pictures by Brea, 1495, and Aurelio Robertelli, 1449; and the tomb of the parents of Pope Sixtus IV. who was a native of Celle, near Savona. His father was a poor boat or fisherman called della Rovere; but it was the whim of Francesco della Rovere, when he became Pope under the title of Sixtus IV., to be thought a scion of the ancient house of the same name at Turin. A false pedigree was forged, and he purchased the complaisance of the Turin family, and silenced their jibes, by giving them two cardinal’s hats. He assumed their arms—a golden oak tree on an azure ground—which figures on the tomb at Savona, and which Michael Angelo painted on the roof of the Sistine Chapel, in compliment to Pope Sixtus and to his nephew Julius.


Francis de la Rovere was born in 1414, and entered the Franciscan order, became provincial of Liguria, and finally general of the order. He was elevated to be Cardinal by the advice of Bessarion, who had conceived a high notion of his learning and abilities. He became Pope in 1471 and occupied the papal chair till 1484, and was perhaps the second wickedest pontiff seated on that throne, coming only a short way after Alexander VI.

“He began his career with a lie,” says Mr. Addington Symonds, “for though he succeeded to the avaricious Paul, who had spent his time in amassing money which he did not use, he declared that he had only found 5,000 florins in the Papal treasury. This assertion was proved false by the prodigality with which he lavished wealth immediately upon his nephews. It is difficult even to hint at the horrible suspicions which were cast upon the birth of two of the Pope’s nephews. Yet the private life of Sixtus rendered the most monstrous stories plausible. We may, however, dwell on the principal features of his nepotism; for Sixtus was the first pontiff who deliberately organised a system for pillaging the Church in order to exalt his own family to principalities. The names of the Pope’s nephews were Leonardo, Giuliano, and Giovanni della Rovere, the three sons of his brother Raffiello; Pietro and Girolamo Riario, the two sons of his sister Jolanda; and Girolamo, the son of another sister, married to Giovanno Basso. With the notable exception of Giuliano della Rovere, these young men had no claim to distinction beyond good looks and a certain martial spirit which ill suited with the ecclesiastical dignities thrust upon some of them. Leonardo was made Prefect of Rome and married to a natural daughter of King Ferdinand of Naples. Giuliano received a cardinal’s hat, and after a tempestuous warfare with the intervening Popes, ascended the holy chair as Julius II. Girolamo Basso was created Cardinal of San Cristogono.”


But the favourite nephew of all was Pedro Riario, whom his uncle loaded with ecclesiastical benefices, though aged only five-and-twenty. Scandal asserted, and Muratori believed it, that this Pietro was really the son of the Pope. When scarce out of the hobbledehoy age, he was made Cardinal Patriarch of Constantinople and Archbishop of Florence. His annual income was 60,000 gold florins, in our money about £100,000; and yet when he died, broken down by his debaucheries, in 1474, three years after he had been made Cardinal Archbishop, he was deep in debt.

“He had no virtues, no abilities, nothing but his beauty, the scandalous affection of the Pope, and the extravagant profligacy of his own life, to recommend him to the notice of posterity. All Italy during two years rang with the noise of his debaucheries. When Leonora of Aragon passed through Rome, on her way to wed the Marquess of Ferrara, this fop of a Patriarch erected a pavilion in the Piazza di’ Sante Apostole for her entertainment. The air of the banquet hall was cooled with pure water; on a column in the centre stood a naked gilded boy, who poured forth water from an urn. The servants were arrayed in silk, and the seneschal changed his dress of richest stuffs and jewels four times in the course of the banquet. Nymphs and centaurs, singers and buffoons, drank choice wines from golden goblets.... Happily for the Church and for Italy, he expired at Rome in January, 1474, after parading his impudent debaucheries through Milan and Venice, as the Pope’s Legate.”

Another nephew was Girolamo Riario, who married a natural daughter of Galeazzo Sforza. For him the Pope bought the town of Imola with Church money. He had created him Count of Bosco in 1472. As Imola did not content his ambition, his uncle gave him Forli,[299] and elevated this boatboy to a dukedom. The young ruffian found that the Medici family stood in the way of extending his power over Florence, and he formed a plot for their destruction. In the conspiracy were involved Francis di Pazzi, head of the bank of that name in Rome, and Salviati, a Florentine, Archbishop of Pisa, whose elevation had been opposed by the Medici. The plot was atrocious; it was no less than to assassinate Giuliano and Lorenzo di Medici in the duomo at Florence on Easter Day at high mass. It had the hearty concurrence of him who held the keys of heaven and hell. Into the wicked confederacy was taken a Captain Montesecco, an intimate friend of Girolamo Riario, the Pope’s nephew, and Bandini, a hired murderer. It was arranged among them that Montesecco was to poignard Giuliano, and Bandini was to stab Lorenzo; and the signal for the deed was to be the Elevation of the Host. On the Sunday appointed, 1478, the assassin Montesecco embraced the two Medici as they entered the church and assured himself by his touch that they were unprotected with coats of chain-mail, such as they usually wore under their silken habits. But at the last moment this captain, cut-throat though he was, felt hesitation at committing the deed in the sacred building and at such a solemn moment, and communicated his scruples to Girolamo Riario; and the latter had hastily to open his scheme to a couple of priests and induce them to undertake the murder. As a chronicler of the time says: “Another man was found, who, being a priest, was more accustomed to the place and therefore less scrupulous about its sanctity.” The second priest was to take the place of Bandini should he entertain qualms.


But this change of persons spoiled all. The priest, though more irreligious, was less expert. Giuliano was indeed stabbed to death by Bandini di Pazzi, at the moment of the Elevation of the Host, but Lorenzo escaped with a flesh wound from the inexperienced hand of the priest, and fled into the sacristy. The congregation, the whole populace of Florence, rose as a man, and pursued the murderers. The Archbishop Salviati di Pazzi, and some of the others, were seized and hung from the windows of the Palazzo Pubblico, the same day; and the eighteen-year-old Cardinal Raphael Riario was flung into prison.

Sixtus was furious at the failure of the plot, and demanded the liberation of his great nephew, the boy-Cardinal, and at the same time the expulsion of the Medici from Florence. As the citizens refused to do this, he excommunicated Lorenzo di Medici, and all the heads of the Republic, and placed Florence under an interdict. After a few days the boy was released; but that was as far as the Florentines would go. Accordingly the Pope, his nephew Riario, and the King of Naples, who had entered into league with the Pope, raised armies to attack Florence, and a savage war of revenge raged for years. It was not till 1481 that a descent of the Turks on Otranto made Sixtus tremble for his own safety, and forced him to make peace with Florence.

After the death of Pietro, Sixtus took his nephew, Giovanni della Rovere, into the favour that Pietro had enjoyed. He married him to Giovanna, daughter of the Duke of Urbino, and created him Duke of Sinigaglia. This fellow founded the second dynasty of the Dukes of Urbino.



“The plebeian violence of the Della Rovere temper,” says Mr. Addington Symonds, “reached a climax in Giovanni’s son, the Duke Francesco Maria, who murdered his sister’s lover with his own hands, when a youth of sixteen, and stabbed the Papal Legate to death in the streets of Bologna, when at the age of twenty, and knocked Guicciardini, the historian, down with a blow of his fist during a council of war in 1526.

“Christendom beheld in Sixtus the spectacle of a Pope who trafficked in the bodies of his subjects, and the holy things of God, to squander basely-gotten gold upon abandoned minions. The peace of Italy was destroyed by desolating wars in the advancement of the same worthless favourites. Sixtus destroyed to annex Ferrara to the dominions of Girolamo Riario. Nothing stood in his way but the House of Este, firmly planted for centuries and connected by marriage or alliance with the chief families of Italy. The Pope, whose lust for blood and broils were equalled only by his avarice and his libertinism, rushed with wild delight into a project which involved the discord of the whole peninsula. He made treaties with Venice and unmade them, stirred up all the passions of the despots and set them together by the ears, called the Swiss mercenaries into Lombardy, and when, finally, tired of fighting for his nephew, the Italian powers concluded the peace of Bagnolo, he died of rage in 1484. The Pope did actually die of disappointed fury, because peace had been restored to the country he had mangled for the sake of a favourite nephew.”

This Pope seemed unable to exist without some cringing favourite about his person. In 1463 he made his valet, a lad of no character and parts, of base birth, with nothing but his good looks and obsequiousness to speak for him—Cardinal and Bishop of Parma, when his age was only twenty.

Sixtus was always impecunious. To replenish his treasury he had two resources. One was the public sale of places about the Court, and of benefices and of ecclesiastical privileges. “Our churches, priests, altars, sacred rites, our prayers, even heaven and our God, are[302] all purchasable,” is the exclamation of Baptista Mantuanus, a scholar of the period. His second expedient was the monopoly of corn throughout the Papal States. Fictitious dearths were created; the value of wheat was raised to famine prices, and good grain was sold out of the States of the Church and bad grain was imported, that the Pope might pocket the profits of the transaction. Sixtus forced his subjects to buy at his stores, and regarded their sufferings, and the disease bred of famine, with indifferent eye.

But, bad as he was, Sixtus did some good things. He laid the basis of the great Vatican library, built a bridge over the Tiber, and widened some of the streets.

To him is due the introduction into the calendar of the Feasts of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin, also of the Presentation in the Temple, and of Ste. Anne, all three of which find their place in the Anglican calendar; also of S. Joseph.

Sixtus happily put an end to the cruel persecution of the “Spirituals,” a branch of the Franciscan Order which advocated absolute poverty, and adherence to the original mandates of the founder. Their prophet and theologian had been d’Oliva. Pope John XXII. had pronounced the writings of d’Oliva heretical, and had handed over the “Spirituals” to the Inquisition, to be dealt with as heretics. Between 1316 and 1352 as many as 114 of them were burnt at the stake; but Sixtus IV. reversed the judgment of John XXII. and declared this teaching of Oliva to be orthodox; so that those who had been burnt in accordance with the judgment of one Pope, were martyrs for the truth according to the decision of another.

Sixtus died in 1484.


Stephanus Infessura, a contemporary diarist, writes on his death:—

“Sixtus died, on which most happy day God showed His power on earth, in that He liberated His Christian people from the hand of such an impious and iniquitous ruler, in whom was no fear of God, no love for the rule of Christian people, no charity, no tenderness, nothing but vile lusts, avarice, pride, and vain glory.”

He goes on with a catalogue of his crimes too horrible to be quoted.

So impressed was the College of Cardinals, on the death of Sixtus IV., with the injury done to the Church by the nepotism of the deceased Pope, by his alienation of Church fiefs to his kinsmen and favourites, that on the election of his successor, Innocent VIII., they made him swear on every relic and by everything that is held most sacred in Christendom, that he would not continue the same abuses. He took the required oath, and no sooner was he enthroned than he absolved himself from the oaths he had taken.

The same farce was enacted with Julius II. in 1503. It really seemed like a Nemesis, that the Popes, who, since the time of Gregory VII., had shown a rare ingenuity in inventing oaths by means of which to entangle men’s consciences and bring everything under their power, now themselves took oaths, which they as regularly broke. Indeed, it became obvious that no solemn oath taken by a Pope was worth the breath that uttered it, as he could at once absolve himself from observing it; and it is a riddle how the cardinals should have persisted in exacting capitulations from the Popes, when they must have known that they would break their plighted word as soon as ever they assumed the[304] tiara. Julius II. pushed on the fortunes of his family, which had been already aggrandised by Sixtus IV. This done, he could devote himself, undisturbed by the importunities of his kindred, to the gratification of that innate love for war and broil which was the ruling passion of his life.

He was the fighting Pope, stern, resolute, indomitable. The whippings he had received from his father had steeled his spirit instead of breaking it. His portrait by Raphael admirably expresses the character of this second Della Rovere Pope. The hard, cold eye, the set frown, the determined mouth, about which a smile never quivered, and the flowing white beard, are eminently characteristic of the man. There is not in the face a trace of the ecclesiastic, not an indication of his having led a spiritual life. But for the habit, he might have been a doge or a military leader.

Ranke thus describes him:—

“Old as Julius was, worn by the vicissitudes of good and evil fortune experienced through a long life, by the fatigues of war and exile, and, above all, by the consequences of intemperance and profligacy, he yet did not know what fear or irresolution meant. In the extremity of age, he still retained that great characteristic of manhood, an indomitable spirit. He felt little respect for princes, and believed himself capable of mastering them all. He took the field in person, and having stormed Mirandola, he pressed into the city across the frozen ditches and through the breach; the most disastrous reverses could not shake his purpose, but seemed rather to waken new resources in him. He was accordingly successful; not only were his own baronies rescued from the Venetians, but in the fierce contest that ensued he finally made himself master of Parma, Placentia, and even Reggio, thus laying the foundation of a power such as no Pope ever possessed before him.”



A shrewd, dissolute, wicked man, he was superior to Sixtus in ability.

He had his mistresses, his luxury, his simony, and his cruelty, as Macchiavelli wrote of him.[22] Savona has no cause to glory in those whom she sent to occupy the chair of S. Peter.

But the place is associated with another Pope, and that one of a different stamp altogether, the unfortunate Pius VII., relegated there in 1809, and obliged to remain there till 1814. Pius was a good, quiet man, without force of character. When Napoleon let him understand that the States of the Church were to be taken from him, Pius was in dire distress and perplexity. Acting on the advice of his confidential attendant, Cardinal Pacca, he launched an excommunication at Bonaparte, Miollis, governor of Rome, all the French, and all such Romans as participated in the annexation of the States to the kingdom. The document was nailed up to the doors of several of the Churches of Rome,—

“But nobody seemed a penny the worse.”

till an event occurred which startled the good people of the Eternal City.

There was a grand reception at the Chigi Palace, to which persons of all shades of politics were invited. A large company had already assembled, when the major-domo announced, “The Princess Borghese!” Now Prince Borghese had been an active partisan of Bonaparte and of the New Order. It was felt that the Prince and the Princess were both involved in the sentence of excommunication, and in former days no one would have dared to receive into his house those who had fallen under the ban of the Church. Presently the[306] guests sat down to cards, and all went merrily until one o’clock struck, when the Princess fell back in her chair, and though she tried to speak, no intelligible sound issued from her lips. Helpless and speechless, she was conveyed to her own house, where she died three days later.

Then, as may be imagined, tongues wagged. It was confidently asserted that the Princess had been struck down by Providence. Her sudden death was represented as a just punishment for her sin in espousing the cause of the Pope’s enemies; and fanatics held her up as an awful example and a warning.

It was useless to hint that Providence had struck at very poor game—an already half-paralysed old woman—instead of smiting the real offenders. The Princess was in indifferent health at the time, had lost the use of her right arm through one stroke, and the recurrence was what might have been anticipated. No one would hear a word. She had reaped what others had sown.

Count Miollis now resolved on removing the Pope from the city. Although his excommunications and interdicts might safely be laughed at, yet his presence in Rome was a hindrance to general reform of abuses, and his person was a centre for every sort of cabal. The Pope was in the Quirinale, which was close barred. In the evening of June 5th the palace was surrounded by French soldiers, and pickets of cavalry patrolled the adjacent streets. Miollis authorised General Radet to use force if necessary, to enter the Quirinale and get possession of the Pope. Count Miollis stationed himself in a summer-house in the Colonna gardens, whence he could issue directions. Large numbers of[307] the Italian and Roman nobles and people of the middle-class assembled to see what would take place.

The clock at the Quirinale was striking three-quarters after two when Miollis made a sign to commence operations. The gates remained fast shut. The French soldiers tried to scale the garden walls, but failed; and men were sent in hot haste to borrow ladders for the purpose. These were obtained; but the first who surmounted the wall, lost his footing in attempting to descend on the farther side, and broke his leg. Another judgment! and again levelled at very poor game. He was a mulatto. General Radet, with a small following, made good his entrance into the palace through a window, and reached the grand staircase, which was crowded with papal servants, who offered but a feeble and half-hearted resistance, and were at once overpowered.

In the meantime the other party had effected an entrance over the garden wall.

Radet lost no time in gaining the Pope’s apartments. One or two doors had to be broken open, and then he reached the ante-chamber, where were drawn up the Papal Swiss guards. They at once laid down their arms, without a show of fight. When a couple more doors had been forced Radet reached the Pope’s audience chamber. Pius had rigged himself up so as to produce an impression. He wore a white silk cassock, a mozetta on his head of crimson silk, and a gold stole. He was seated at a table with Cardinals Pacca and Despuig. But Radet was not overawed, as were the Gauls by the sight of the white-bearded senators. Advancing, he said, with courtesy,—

“I have a most painful and trying commission to execute, but I have sworn fidelity and obedience to the[308] Emperor, and I must obey his orders. On the part, therefore, of his Majesty, I have to intimate to your Holiness that you must renounce all temporal sovereignty over Rome and the Roman States.”

The Pope replied calmly: “I believed that I had complied with the Emperor’s orders, when I took the oath of fealty and obedience to him. We cannot cede or renounce what is not our own. The temporal power belongs to the Roman Church, and we are only the administrators. Must we go alone?”

“No; your Holiness can take Cardinal Pacca with you.”

A quarter of an hour afterwards the Pope, wearing his red hat and mantle, left the Quirinale, and, along with Cardinal Pacca, entered a carriage. General Radet and an officer took seats opposite, and the blinds were drawn down on the side on which sat the Pope.

When the carriage was on its way Pius suddenly exclaimed: “I have forgotten to bring my money; all I have in my pocket is twenty bajocchi.”

“And I,” said the Cardinal, “have only five.”

“Then,” said the Pope, “this may be regarded as a truly apostolic journey, with one franc seventy-five centimes between us.”

The Pope was conveyed somewhat hastily to Savona, where he was well received, but kept under surveillance for nearly six years.

Savona was made the capital of the department of Montenotte by Napoleon. The see was founded in 680. From 1499 to 1528 it was entirely in the hands of the Della Rovere and Riario families for five successions. In 1098 it was the see of the bishop Peter Grossulano, whose story is strange enough. Anselm, Archbishop[309] of Milan, died at Constantinople on his return from a crusade early in October, 1100. During his absence Grossulano had been constituted by him administrator of the archdiocese, of which Savona was a suffragan. When Grossulano heard of the death of Anselm, he proceeded to an election of a successor, and was himself chosen by the majority of the clergy and people. He at once mounted the archiepiscopal throne.

Milan had not long before passed through the furious and savage troubles of Ariald and Herlembald over the marriage of the clergy. There still remained in Milan the turbulent Liprand, dissatisfied that peace had settled down on the place. Possibly Grossulano was not sufficiently rigorous against married clergy, perhaps he had in some unknown way offended Liprand’s vanity, for the latter at once ranged himself in opposition and sent to the Pope to entreat him to withhold the pall from the newly elected bishop. But Paschal would not listen to his remonstrances, and, acting on the advice of S. Bernard, abbot of Valumbrosa, he confirmed the election and sent the pall.

Angry at this, Liprand did his utmost to rouse the people against their archbishop, and became such a nuisance that Grossulano summoned a provincial council, and, addressing the people, said: “If any one has aught against me, let him proclaim it openly, otherwise he shall not be heard.”

Thereupon Liprand gathered a crowd of the disaffected in his church of S. Paul, and in it denounced the archbishop as simonacal, and he appealed to the judgment of God against him. He would have a fire lighted and pass through it to establish his assertion. But the bishops assembled in council forbade the ordeal.

However, as he continued to be a source of evil in[310] Milan, Grossulano told him that he must either pass through the flames or quit Milan. Liprand chose the first alternative, but arranged the matter so that there were two fires made at a convenient distance apart, and he marched between them unhurt. Two years later Liprand was summoned to Rome and sharply reprimanded; nevertheless, Milan continued to be torn by factions, Liprand and his followers refusing to receive the ministrations of Grossulano and his clergy.

At last the Archbishop departed for Jerusalem. During his absence Liprand became more abusive and uproarious, and managed to gather together a sufficient party to elect in the room of Grossulano an ignorant, uneducated man called Giordano, to be archbishop; and the three suffragans of Asti, Genoa, and Turin consecrated him. The bishop of Turin hurried to Rome to obtain the pall for Giordano. Paschal was in the midst of his strife with Henry V., and it was essential that he should have the support of the Archbishop of Milan. He could not be certain of Grossulano, whether he were anti-imperial or not; besides, he was absent. Giordano he hoped to use as a tool. Accordingly he sent the pall to him, but stipulated that he was not to be arrayed in it till he had sworn absolute submission to the Pope, and to refuse investiture from the Emperor.

For six months Giordano steadfastly refused to receive the pall on these terms, but his scruples vanished on the return of Grossulano, and he submitted unreservedly to the Pope, who summoned a council in the Lateran Palace, 1116, when a mock hearing of the case took place; Grossulano was dismissed to Savona, and Giordano was confirmed in his usurpation.

Savona was a margravate held by a junior branch of the great house of Monferrat. The Emperor Otto I.[311] raised Aleram, Count of Monferrat, to the dignity of margrave. Boniface, descended from a junior son, became Margrave of Saluzzo. He died in 1130, and his second son Enrico became Margrave of Savona. These margravates were much like sea-anemones; when divided up, each several parcel became an entire margravate complete in itself. In 1215 Savona was gripped by rapacious Genoa, and the last margravate died in 1233.

A pretty drive of an hour takes one up the valley to Santuario, a pilgrimage church with hospice, founded in 1536. The church, which is rich in marbles, contains a miraculous image of the Virgin, tricked out with velvet and jewels. She wears a diamond collar given by King Charles Albert, and a jewelled crown presented by Pope Pius VII. The chapter of S. Peter’s claims the right to decide what miraculous images are to be honoured with crowns, but the crowns themselves are conferred by the popes. In 1632 a certain Count Alessandro Sforza, a fanatic from Piacenza, by his will left rents of a large estate to furnish gold and jewels for this purpose; as time went on, the property grew in value, and the crowns at the same time became more splendid. The honour is usually reserved for the Virgin, but occasionally the Bambino is remembered as well. Figures of Christ are, however, never deemed worthy of being crowned, except He be represented as a babe.

The story of this image is not particularly novel and interesting. It was found by a peasant where now stands a little circular chapel on the hill above the present sanctuary. He saw the Virgin in a vision, who bade him go to Savona and bid the people erect a church to enshrine her. He did as bidden, but the good folk in Savona would not believe him, thought him[312] crazed, and locked him up. In the night the Virgin released him. After some further trouble, and some further miracles, the story was believed and the sanctuary was erected.

Beside the image is a little marble figure representing the countryman who started the cult. Beneath the feet of the Virgin issues a spring of water that is supposed to cure all diseases, but is so intensely cold as to be more likely to do harm than good.

At Varazzi, near Savona, was born the famous Jacques de Voragine, about the year 1230. Nothing is known of the social position of his parents. In one of his writings he speaks of the eclipse of 1239, and says that he was still a child when it occurred. He became a dominican in 1244, and in 1292 was elected to the bishopric of Genoa. He laboured hard to effect a truce between the Ghibelline and Guelf factions, which for two whole months converted the streets of the capital of Liguria into a field of battle. He succeeded. But the peace was soon broken again. The story goes of him that, being present in S. Peter’s along with Boniface VIII. on Ash Wednesday, during the ceremonies, the pontiff, supposing him to belong to the imperial party, dashed the ashes in his face, shouting, “Remember, thou Ghibelline, that thou and thy Ghibellines will be reduced to dust.” Jacques is chiefly known through his Legenda Aurea, a collection of the most outrageous, but also the most romantic fables of the saints; a work that had an enormous sale in the Middle Ages, and was copied again and again, and read everywhere, and, incredible as it may seem, was believed as gospel. He died 1298.

At Albizzola Superiore is the palace of the Della[313] Rovere family. Giuliano, nephew of Pope Sixtus IV., as a boy was wont to carry the farm produce from his father’s farm to Savona, either by boat or mule, however rough the season might be, and, if he did not sell in the market, was unmercifully thrashed by his father on his return. But when his uncle became Pope, all this was altered. He entered the ecclesiastical profession, became a cardinal, and finally Pope, as already told. The palace was built out of the plunder of the Church.

Mme. de Genlis visited the Della Rovere palace at Albizzola. She says:—

“The gardens are vast, but tasteless. I remarked there one thing very singular—there were none of the charming flowers one sees growing naturally in the fields; only oranges were there, and box; this latter cultivated with the utmost care, in the most superb vases that decorate the terraces. This villainous box, planted in splendid vases, occupies its position solely because it is more rare and costly a plant than myrtles, jessamines, and oleanders.”

She has given us an account of her journey to Albenga, over rocks, the mountain road being so steep and so dangerous that descents had to be made on foot. “I may almost say that we arrived barefooted, for the stones during three days had so worn and pierced our shoes, that the soles were nearly gone.” And beyond Savona she says

“the journey is most dangerous, but at the same time most interesting. The horror of the precipices made me walk three-quarters of the way, over stones and cutting rocks. I arrived at Genoa with my feet swollen and full of blisters, but otherwise in rude health.”

How the journey from Marseilles to Genoa has changed since Mme. de Genlis took that road with the[314] Duchesse de Chartres a few years before the outbreak of the Revolution, may be judged by some further instances.

When the party left Antibes for Nice, they went by sea, because of the badness of the road; and were obliged to be accompanied by a felucca with a whole regiment on board, to protect them against corsairs.

At Ospidaletta

“we were forced to halt and spend the night, one of the most frightful places that hospitality ever provided. We slept three in one room, and we made up a sort of bed for Mme. the Duchess of Chartres with mule cloths and leaves. In one room were two great heaps of corn, and the master of the house assured us that we should sleep well if we buried ourselves in the grain. The gentlemen gave us their cloaks to cover the corn. One had to go to bed in the most extraordinary attitude—in fact, almost upright. We passed the night in continual interruptions, caused by slidings down and by the upset of masses of corn. With joy we saw the day dawn; and as we had slept in our clothes, our toilettes did not occupy us long.”

The whole of the Riviera from Nice to Genoa—indeed, the whole of Provence—is studded with ruined castles and palaces: of these, only the most mean, that house of cards, Monaco, remains intact. They tell us of a time when the great families lived in lordly state, under the absolutism of the French crown or the despotism of the Genoese Republic. In Genoa itself the families inscribed on the Golden Book, and alone having the right to sit in council and direct the affairs of state, and mismanage and oppress the Ligurian coast and Corsica, did not exceed one hundred and seventy. But in Liguria there were at least four hundred and fifty noble families decorated with titles, possessing vast estates, commanderies,[315] and hereditary wealth, who were excluded from all share in the government.

All have gone under, not in the wars for the Milanese, but in the Revolution; and these ruined castles and palaces are their tombstones. Who can doubt that it is well that so it should have been. In the words of Macaulay:—

“The volcano has spent its rage. The wide waste produced by its outbreak is forgotten. The landmarks which were swept away have been replaced. The ruined edifices have been repaired. The lava has covered with a rich incrustation the fields which it once devastated, and, after having turned a beautiful and fruitful garden into a desert, has again turned the desert into a still more beautiful and fruitful garden. The marks of its ravages are still all around us. The ashes are beneath our feet. In some directions the deluge of fire still continues to spread. Yet experience surely entitles us to believe that this explosion will fertilise the soil which it has devastated. Already, in those parts which have suffered most severely, rich cultivation and secure dwellings have begun to appear amidst the waste.”

The palaces of the Lascaris, the Grimaldis, the Durazzos, the Della Roveres, the Dorias, are in ruins, but in their places rise hotels de Paris, de l’Univers, the Metropole; and the bands of bravos entertained by the nobles are replaced by Italian and Swiss waiters.

“The more we read the history of past ages, the more we observe the signs of our own times, the more do we feel our hearts filled and swelled up by a good hope for the future destinies of the human race.”



Absolution from vows, 164-5, 303

Adam de Craponne, 8

Addison, 53-4

Ægitna, 180

Æschylus, 8

Agay, 152

Agricola, 121-2

Aix, 14, 55-71

Alassio, 288-90

Albenga, 293-5

Albizzola, 312-3

Algerine pirates, 225

Aloes, 7

Amadeus, Duke of Savoy, 209

Ambrons and Teutons, 56-9

Ambrose, S., 28-9

Andora, 290

Ampelio, S., 273-4

Amphitheatres, 14, 15, 119, 120, 206

Andrew, King, 136

Angers, 70

Annulling of marriage, 239-40

Antibes, 3, 14, 165, 187-8, 190

Architecture, domestic, 279-80;

Gothic, 22-3

Arco Romans, 289

Argens River, 97, 114

Arles, 6, 13, 15, 16, 18, 25, 39

Arluc, 185-6

Armentarius, S., 131

Augustine predestination, 100-1

Augustus, Emperor, 241-2

Aurelian Way, 55, 118, 148, 261, 272

Avignon, sale of, 3, 137;

union with France, 17

Baal, 13, 121

Bagne, 76-7

Balaun, Pierre de, 35

Balbs, Bertrand de, 208

Baptistery, 272, 294

Bar, le, 174

Barbarossa, 211, 292

Barjac, Pierre de, 35

Barma Grande, 261

Barras, 82

Baux, les, 236

Bazaine, Marshal, 195-9

Belzunce, Bishop, 51

Berengarius, Marquess, 107

Bishop and chapter, 179

Blanc, M., 237-8

Boccaccio, 37-8, 139, 143

Bonaparte, Joseph, 52-3

— Napoleon. See Napoleon

Bordighera, 264, 267, 273-5

Bormes, 175

Bourbon, Constable de, 48-9

Bozo, King of Arles, 17, 207

Bravade, 111-12

Bresca family, 285-6

Brougham, Lord, 2

Brumaire, the 18th, 126

Burning Bush, triptych, 70-1

Butillo Prignano, 142, 144

Cabane, Philippine, 135-7

— Raymond, 135-6

Cabasse, 11

Cabastaing, William de, 37

Cabris, Louise de, 169-72

Cæsar, Julius, 27, 41-3, 118


Cagnes, 224-5

Californie, la, 183

Calvinus, 14, 56

Camporosso, 273

Cannes, 2, 180-204

Cap Roux, 153

Carbo, 57

Carcists and Razats, 90, 111, 132, 176-7

Carlone, 225

Carnival, 19, 127-8

Carob tree, 100-1

Carteaux, 79, 80

Cassien, S. 185-6

Castellar, 259-60

Castellaro, 282

Cavalaire, 98

Caveau Moderne, 127

Cemenelium, 206

Chalk, 8-9

Charles of Anjou, 134-51 160-4, 269

— of Durazzo, 135-42, 144, 209

— the Lame, 163-5

— V., Emperor, 149, 150, 210-12

Choirs at West End, 23, 167

Cians, Gorge of, 226

Cimbri, 56-9

Cimiez, 206-7

Clary damsels, 52-3

Clement IV., 160

— VI., 136-7

— VII., 141-2

Clus, 4, 222

Cœpio, 58

Cognard, 77-9

Cogolin, 109, 110

Colouring of Provence, 10

Collet, 217-24

Conradin, 134, 163

Cork trees, 99, 100

Corniche Road, 148, 156, 225, 241, 256, 261

Court of Love, 33

Crowned images, 311

Dance of Death, 174

Dancing in churches, 19

David, the artist, 225-6

Desangiers, 126-9

Devota, Ste., 243-4

Dolceacqua, 273

Dolmen, 131

Dome falls in, 213

Doria, Andrew, 232-3, 290-2

— Bartholomew, 231-2

— family, 269, 273, 278

Durance, River, 6, 7, 49

Embues, 204

Estérel, 4, 9, 147-56, 183

Eze, 225-6

Farcing canticles, 21

Faron, 72, 81

Fauxbourdons, 20-1

Fayence, 132-3

Feast of Fools, 69

Fieschi family, 293

Flowers at Grasse, 179

Folk song, 18-22

Font, large, 272, 294

Fos family, 88

Foux, 4, 158, 204

Fragonard, 178

Francis I., 210, 212, 291

Franks, 206

Fraxinet, 113, 114, 126

Frederick II., 268

Fréjus, 113, 114-26

Fréron, 82

Fronde, 131-2

Gallinaria, 289-90

Galley slaves, 74-5

Gambling, 244-54

Garlenda, 295-6

Gapeau, River, 87, 88, 97

Garagoul, le, 62

Gaspard de Besse, 150-1

Genlis, Mme. de, 52-3, 313-4

Genoa, 266-7, 278, 314

Geology, 4-6, 8

Gerard de Roussillon, 31-2

Gibbets, 234-5

Godeau, Bishop, 165-7

Gold dust, 4

Gorge of the Loup, 172-4

Granite, 97

Grasse, 18, 23, 157-9

Gregory IX., 159


Grimaud, 109, 110

Grimaldi family, 109, 208-9, 224-5, 229-37, 258-9, 269

Grossulano, Bishop, 308-10

Guelfs and Ghibellines, 267, 278, 317

Hamilton, Lady Mary, 239-40

Hanbury, Sir Thomas, 261

Hannibal, 14, 294

Henry IV., 73

Heraclea, 12

— cacabarea, 110

Heracles, 8, 12

Hermits, 185

Hilary, S., 122-4, 153

Honoratus, S., 123, 153-6, 200

Hospice, S., 207

Hugh of Provence, 104-7

Huguenots, 174-6

Hyères, 84-96, 138

Hymn, lucky number of, 233-4

Hymns, 25-9

Iron Mask, 191-5

James, of Aragon, 139

Jeannette, Ste., 158

Jenkins’s Ear, 181-2

Jerusalem, Crown of, 133, 134

Joanna  I. of Naples, 3, 133-143

”    II.      ”    133, 145-6

John XI., 106

Jouvines, les, 18

Julius II., 304-5, 313

Lampedusa, 282-3

Langue d’Oc, 24, 29

Lascaris family, 269-71

Lazarus, S., 47-8

Lemons, 275-6

Leprosy, 281

Lerins, Iles of, 181, 183, 186, 190-203

Levant, Ile of, 93-5

Ligurians, 8, 11, 12, 14, 39-41, 121, 148, 180-1, 206

Limestone, 9

Lombards, 206

Louis of Tarentum, 137-9

” XI., 67;

annexes Provence, 70

Louis XIV., 191-3, 242

Loup, Gorges of the, 158, 172-4, 284

Love, Troubadour, 31-7

Lympia, 205

Majolus, S., 107-8

Marceau, General, 216

Margaret, Queen, 66-7

Marius, 14, 56, 59-61

Marozia, 105-6

Marseilles, 4, 12, 13, 18, 39-54, 118, 138;

Marquesate, 88

Marie, sister of Joanna I., 143

Marquisates, 311-2

Martha, Ste., 48;

sorceress, 60

Marriage, Troubadour idea of, 31-7

Martin, S., 289-90

” IV., 164

Mary Magdalen, Ste., 48

Masséna, 213-6

Massacre at Toulon, 82-3

Matthews, Admiral, 181-2

Mattioli, 193

Maures, Montagnes des, 3, 4, 9, 87, 97-112, 114, 138

Maxim, Sir Hiram, 248

Maximin, S., 23

Megalithic monuments, 11, 131

Melkarth, 12, 13, 227

Mentone, 228, 231, 255-63

Merle, Captain, 91-2

Mellin, 151-2

Mirabeau family, 169-172

Miramas, 8

Mistral, 7, 88, 113, 257

Monaco, 12, 226-54, 259

Monte Carlo, 1, 239-54

Montpellier, 1

Monans Sartoux, 174-6

Mulberry trees, 101

Music, 26-29

Muy, le, 149, 150

Napoleon I., 4, 80-3, 115-8, 126, 193-5, 305

Napoule, La, 186-7

Narbonne, 16

Nervia, River, 273

Nice, 12, 13, 205-226, 255

Nicolas IV., 164


Nîmes, 16

Obelisk at Rome, 285-6

Olives, 7, 84-6

Ollioules, 79

Oneglia, 290-1

Opimus, Quintus, 180-1

Oranges, 86-7, 275-6

Ospidaletta, 314

Pagan customs, 17-18

Paillon, River, 205-6

Palaces, Italian, 314-5

Palermo, 163-4

Palestrina, 22

Palms, 285-7

Patrick, S., 202

Paul III., 210-1

Peter of Aragon, 163-4

Phaeton, fall of, 225

Phocœans, 13, 14, 39, 206

Phœnicians, 12, 13, 39

Pius VII., 305

Plague at Marseilles, 49-51

Pompée de Grasse, 175

Pompey, 41

Pomponiana, 89

Pons, S., 207

Porcarius, 203

Pourrières, 61

Predestination, 200-2

Prehistoric man, 261-3

Procession at Aix, 67-9

Provence, Roman colony, 14, 206;

union with France, 70

Puget Théniers, 226

Pytheas, 43-6

Quarries, Roman, 153

Rancher, 216-17

Raphael, S., 113-19

Raymond Berenger, 158-60

Red caps, 75

— ochre, 262

Reformatory, insurrection in, 93-6

Reign of Terror, 52, 81-2

Relics, 274-5

Remo, San, 274, 276-86

Réné, King, 3, 62-71, 101, 286

Rhone, River, 5-6

Robinet de Donzère, 5

Roman settlements, 14, 206

Romeo de Villeneuve, 158-61

Romulus, S., 278, 281

Roquebrune, 236, 259

Roslyn, Lord, 248-9

Roulette, 246-9

Roya, River, 271

Rudel, Geoffrey, 34

Ruffini, 282, 285

Sabreurs and Canifets, 111, 132

Salt, 88, 89

Sans phrases, 125

Santuario, 311

Saracens, 3, 16, 47, 73, 90, 101-9, 202-3, 207-8, 260

Saussure, 151

Savona, 296-315

Sea-fight, 42-3, 290-2

Ségurane, 211-12

Sicilian vespers, 163

Sieyès, 124-6

Silkworms, 201

Sixtus IV., 296-303

— V., 285-6

Spélunges, les, 238

Springs in the sea, 203

Stones, cult of, 188-90

Suicides, 245-6

Sumac, 87

Susanne de Villeneuve, 175-7

Taggia, River, 284

Taia River, 186

Templars, 92

Tende, county of, 269-70

Terpon, 188

Teutons, 56-61

Théas-Thorenc, 177

Theatre, Greek, 15, 16

Théoule, 156

Thouet-de-Beuil, 226

Toulon, 4, 72-83

Towns, structure of, 10, 11

Tropez, S., 110-12

Troubadours, 29-37

Turbie, la, 227, 240-1, 256

Tyrian dye 73

Umbrella pines, 110

Urban IV., 134

— VI., 140-4


Utriculares, 190

Valence, 5

Valescure, 114

Var River, 130, 158, 212, 226

Varazzi, 312

Vauban, 73

Vegetation, tropical, 5, 184, 277

Veille, la, 254

Venaisin, bought, 3, 137;

annexed to France, 17

Vence, 23, 167-8

Venus Victrix, 62

Ventimiglia, 264, 266-72, 275, 278

Vesubie, River, 226

Via Aurelia. See Aurelian Way

Victoire, Ste., 61-2

Victor, S. Abbey, 47-8

Voragine, Jacques de, 312

Weihe, Captain, 245-6, 249-50

William, Count of Provence, 108, 207

York, Duke of, 254



[1] Vinet, L’Art et l’Archæologie, Mission de Phénicée, Paris, 1862.

[2] Fauriel, Hist. de la Poésie Provençale, 1846, i., pp. 169-171.

[3] Renaissance in Italy: “The Catholic Revival,” ii. c. 12.

[4] So Virgil speaks of the soldiers singing as they marched, according to rhythmic music—

“With measured pace they march along,
And make their monarch’s deeds their song.”

Æneid, viii., 698-9.

[5] Renaissance in Italy. “Italian Literature,” i., c. 2.

[6] See Elton’s Origins of English History. London: 1890, pp. 6-32.

[7] Stanley Poole, The Barbary Pirates.

[8] La Provence Maritime, 1897, p. 356.

[9] The tomb of Raimond de Cabane, the maître d’hôtel, is in the Church of S. Chiara, Naples.

[10] The portraits of Joanna and of Louis of Tarentum may be seen in the Church of Sta. Maria l’Incarnata, which she built in Naples. Her marriage is there represented in a fresco by one of the pupils of Giotto; again, another picture is of her in Confession. She is also represented on the tomb of King Robert, her grandfather, in the Church of S. Chiara, Naples.

[11] His tomb and statue, a life-like portrait, by Ciaccione, is in the church of S. Giovanni a Carbonara, Naples.

[12] La Provence Maritime, Paris, 1897.

[13] Les Grands Artistes, Fragonard, par C. Mauclair, Paris (n.d.)

[14] A fantastic derivation. Actually, Arluc is By the Mere.

[15] Hopkins (Tighe) The Man in the Iron Mask, Lond. 1901.

[16] A fine head, dug out from the ruins, and supposed to be that of Drusus, is now in the Copenhagen museum.

[17] Bennet, Winter and Spring on the Mediterranean. London, 1870.

[18] Age of the Despots, ch. ii.

[19] J. A. Symonds, Age of the Despots.

[20] Hare, Cities of Northern Italy, i. p. 34.

[21] Lane Poole, The Barbary Corsairs, p. 104.

[22] “Tre sue famigliari e care anzelle, lussuria, simonia, e crudeltade” (Opere, Flor., 1843, p. 882).