Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

1501, “my king, my lord, my Cæsar” was the morrow's spectacle. “The very roofs run away with by his pony in the field, were black with spectators, and a merry near Amboise. He was in great danger, barter was carried on by the fortunate “nevertheless God, the protector of widow owners of houses looking out upon the women and the defence of orphans," pro- square." The prisoners sang Clement tected the young prince from accident. Marot's rendering of “God be merciful One day Francis let loose a wild boar in unto us and bless us :". the court, which scattered the servants

Dieu nous soit doux et favourable and then rushed towards the great stair

Nous bénissant par sa bonté. case, where he killed it with his dagger.

Et de son visage adorable From Amboise the young prince first left Nous fasse luire la clarté. for court, and hence his mother journeyed The strains grew fainter as the fast fallon foot to “ Notre Dame de Fontaines, to recommend to her him whom I love more king turned pale, and would fain have

ing axe thinned the choir. The young than myself, my glorious son and my victorious Cæsar, who has subdued the gone in, but the Guises would not suffer Helvetians.” Leonardo da Vinci rests in him to retire. As the last victim mounted the little chapel at Amboise. Marie

the block singing, the crowd seemed ready Stuart made a triumphal entry here in 10 rescue him, but the axe fell, and the

horror of Amboise was over. No such November, 1559, with her young husband, Francis II. Five months later the con

ghastly scene was ever witnessed by the

châteaux of Touraine. spiracy of Amboise began. The doctrines of Calvin had taken firm hold on Touraine. Guise a quarter of a century later at Blois.

Vengeance overtook the hated race of Fierce religious persecution made the Huguenots turn eagerly to the princes of That great château has been restored with the blood for protection from the hated rare skill and thoroughness. It has not Guises. Suppliants flocked into Tou.

the mellowed beauty of Langeais or Azayraine from all parts to lay their wrongs ture help a visitor to reconstruct the three

le-Rideau, but its three styles of architecbefore the king. The Guises suddenly a woke to their danger. The court moved great ages of which it is a memorial. Its from Blois to what was considered the eastern wing is a splendid monument of

the earlier Renaissance. safer fortress at Amboise, where was a matter of fact the castle was almost with- The architectural scheme is very simple. out troops or stores, where the town was Three rows of pilasters are superimposed one full of Protestants, and Tours, hard by, above another. At about two-thirds down was hostile or indifferent.” La Renaudie the front the open spiral staircase juts out had formed a plot to seize the Guises, but and towers upwards. It seems at first to some of his confederates, who were enticed small columns and their perpendicular descent

stand free, breaking up the even succession of into Amboise on promise of a free pass to with the bold projection of its octagonal lines. the king's presence, were there cast into But above it is embossed and caught into the prison, and "tormented with hellish cru- whole mass by the broad crowning cornice elty." The men sent for their rescue which gathers within its strengthening bands were seized

dragged in "at the horses' every various curve. The sculptured dormers tails" to die. Some two thousand scoun- fret along its edge, searching the air with their drels flocked to Amboise in order to share pointed tongues, and twice the carved cases the murder and plunder. A terrible month of the chimney-stacks break aloft through the followed. Every cut-throat in the Guises' roof, like towers, but the cornice keeps firm pay made his fortune, “ for the country

hold upon their base.* swarmed with men who waited to be the winding staircase, with its fine carvkilled, or citizens like those of Toulouse, ings, is a triumph of art which never who refused to move before they had ceases to charm a student of architecture. spoken to the king, and were only cured of Froissart, the chronicler, was once chaptheir importunity by being hanged from the lain in Blois. Here Valentine Visconti castle windows." Amboise was thronged mourned the death of her husband, Louis by suppliants claiming justice or mercy, d'Orléans, who had been murdered in the but there was no relenting in the breasts streets of Paris. During her brother's ab. of the Guises. Scaffolds were raised in sence Margaret of Navarre went twice a full view of the balcony overlooking the day through all the buildings and grounds Loire, tiers of planked seats rose all round to hasten Francis the First's workmen. the square in which the executions were Many a state pageant was witnessed in the to take place. Thousands of people slept in the fields that they might be ready for

• Renaissance of Art in France, i. 51.

château. But the chief event in its history seemed to be a village in the air. Soon is the downfall of the house of Guise. the enormous towers of Chambord, sixty In 1576, Henry III. summoned the feet in diameter, were seen. Mr. Henry States-General to meet at Blois. Henry James calls the place, “An irresponsible, of Guise, known as Le Balafré, was then insoluble labyrinth." There are thirteen in the height of his power. The king, great staircases, besides numberless weary of his schoolmaster, was plotting smaller ones, and four hundred and forty for his murder. Guise was so confident rooms. The outlying work which gave that he despised all warnings. A note in the great château of Francis I. its dignity his dinner-napkin was thrown away un- has disappeared. “The broad foundaread. On December 22 every arrange- tions and heavy arches which rose proudly ment for the tragedy was complete. A out of the waters of the moat no longer tenth warning, given at the last moment, impress the eye. The truncated mass failed to stay the victim's steps. He squats ignobly upon the turf, the waters marched calmly on to the cabinet where of the moat are gone, gone are the deep the king was said to be waiting for him. embankments crowned with pierced bal. The murderers now set upon him, but he ustrades, gone is the no-longer needed dragged them,

bridge with its guardian lions."* The struggling, from one end of the room to the double staircase, like two corkscrews other, staggering with arms outstretched, dull whose curves ascend together yet never eyes within their staring sockets, and mouth touch, is one of the wonders of the place. half opened, as one already dead. At last he The perplexed visitor sees his companion fell [pierced with more than forty wounds] mounting with him step by step, but beside the curtains of the bed. Then came never joins him till he reaches the top. out the king, and with all the meanness of his Francis I. spent his last days here, hunt. pitiful nature spurned with his heel the face of the dying man - a terrible reprisal this, foring in his Touraine estates and idolized the cruelty of De Guise himself to the grey by his sister, Margaret of Navarre. Louis hairs of Coligny; and the last sigh of the XIV. watched the plays of Molière acted great duke, who rendered up his strong spirit here, but he afterwards deserted the Ver. slowly and with almost unconquerable effort, sailles of Touraine in order to fix his home was received by the courtier who was kneel. nearer Paris. Marshal Saxe, who won ing down to rifle the pockets of the corpse; the estate by his victory at Fontenoy, it was covered with a grey cloak, and a cross decorated it with cannon, and had here a of straw was thrown upon it.

regiment of lancers whom he reviewed His body and that of his brother, the car- daily from the terrace. dinal, who was murdered next day, were The château of Azay-le-Rideau, built burned within the castle, and their ashes in 1520, rises almost out of the waters of scattered on the waters of the Loire. the Indre like an L set on its side, with a Detestable as the assassination was, it turreted and crested tower at each corner, shows that justice had at length overtaken and an effect of distance and beauty of the hated house whose hands were red line “unequalled among a series of archiwith butchery at Amboise, and to whom tectural triumphs.” The river banks, was due the massacre of St. Bartholomew. shaded with limes and cedars, make a Arthur Young, the famous agriculturist, perfect setting for the lovely château, who visited Blois in 1787, dwells upon which is now the home of the Marquis de “the bigotry and ambition, equally dark, Biencourt. The place itself lacks historic insidious, and bloody,” of those times, interest, but “all the ages of French his. and adds grimly: “The parties could tory look down upon us as we pass through hardly be better employed than in cutting its picture.gallery. The fair women who each other's throats."

once exercised such an influence over the Crossing to the left bank of the Loire destinies of France live on the canvas. by a fine stone bridge the first public Here is Catherine de Medicis and a work of Louis Philippe we pass through charming picture of Marie Stuart framed a flat vine country to Chambord, ten miles beside her young husband.” Diane de to the east of Blois. It is amusing to find Poitiers was “ powerful enough even to Arthur Young's mind full of turnips as he crush the venomous Italian queen into wanders among these scenes of old court subjection for a time; but the day of life in France. If ever he says the king Catherine of Medicis was not long in comwished to form “one complete and perfect ing, and for three more years her hand farm under the turnip culture of England, was at the throat of France, her influence here is the place for it.” At the end of a long avenue Mr. Cook discerned what

Renaissance of Art in France, i. 55.

i

[ocr errors]

was

poisoning its court.” There are cher gaiety and never-ending intrigue. Mr. châteaux which a traveller will do well to Cook's volumes on Old Touraine will be a visit, such as Cheverny, Beauregard, Ra-, mine of delight to those who wish to study morantin, and Montrichard. Almost every the social life, the art and architecture of eminence indeed is crowned by some old these bygone times. He sometimes puzmansion with a history. Many details zles us by forgetting that his readers have are given in Murray's “Handbook to not been steeped in the life of these old France which seem to bring the modern châteaux as he himself has been. A few aspect of these châteaux more clearly be connecting links are dropped here and fore the eyes of a reader of “Old Tou. there ; but his book is a notable work, raine." It ought to be consulted at every dealing with a theme of enduring interest turn by any one who wishes to kyow the for England as well as for France. We present condition of the valley of the may take our leave of the work by quoting Loire. Its descriptions often contain its closing sentences about the valley of happy phrases which give new vividness the Loire. to the pages of Mr. Cook's volume. It is

It is a fascinating valley, full of history, full a guide-book, but it is literature as well.

of romance. The Plantagenets have lived We must now turn back again to Tours. and died here, the Black Prince has fought The town owed much of its prosperity to up and down the river. Sir Walter Raleigh the myriad châteaux of the Loire. Louis served his first campaign here with the ProtXI. and his two immediate successors estants; even King Arthur has been heard of dwelt for the most part in that city, not in at Amboise. Here are scenes that Turner Paris. Every art of the decorator flour- has painted; where Landor and Wordsworth ished, for kings and nobles vied with each have watched the setting sun; here in the other in erecting and adorning magnificent heart of France, in the most French of all her mansions. Tapestry

so eagerly the Englishman.
provinces, there seems a special interest for

A special beauty in this sought in the middle of the sixteenth cen- royal river flowing past Fontevrault to the tury that it appeared as though it would sea, in this broad smiling landscape clad with take the place of painting in Tours. Vene vines, tian workmen were brought to instruct the Where from the frequent bridge artificers. Some of the Tours artists even

Like emblems of infinity, visited Rome to perfect their learning.

The trenched waters run from sky to sky. Two great fairs were held by royal charter in March and September for the sale of silks and cloth of gold and silver. The company of silkmakers figure in the pro

AUNT ANNE. cessions of the time, with mercers, armor

Copyright, 1892, by Harper & Brothers. ers, and jewellers. Those were days of great prosperity in Tours. The Edict

CHAPTER XXIII. of Nantes stimulated its trade. Mulberry. It was a long night that followed. A trees were planted by the king's order telegram had arrived from the Hibberts. here, at Orleans, and Paris. Tours did They were on their way, and coming as not escape the religious troubles of the fast as possible, they said ; but through time. The Huguenots were killed in its the dark hours, as Mrs. North sat beside streets, or on boats and barges floating in Aunt Anne, she feared that death would the river. The Revocation of the Edict come still faster. of Nantes scattered forty out of its eighty Her bronchitis was worse at times; she thousand inhabitants. The town has could hardly breathe; it was only the never recovered that mad stroke at the almost summer-like warmth that saved very vitals of France. But its prosperity her. She talked of strange people when is returning. It now has a population of she could find voice to do so

people of sixty thousand busy in the large printing whom Mrs. North had never heard before ; and publishing trade of the town, and in but it seemed somehow as if they had the manufacture of silk, cloth, carpets, and silently entered

- as if they filled the chemicals.

house, and were waiting. At midnight Readers of Frances Elliot's “Old Court and in the still small hours of the morning Life in France” will be surprised to find she could fancy that they were going how large a place the châteaux of Touraine softly up and down the stairs ; that they fill in the brilliant scenes of the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries. The • Aunt Anne. A Novel. By Mrs. W. K Clifford, old French memoir writers lead us from author of " Love Letters of a Worldly Woman,” etc!

Post Svo, cloth, ornamental, $1.25. Published by castle to castle in an incessant round of! Harper & Brothers, New York.

said ;

peered iuto the room in which Aunt Anne | said — "something you have worn; I lay- the one to the front that looked down shall like that better than a legacy, because on the long white road stretching from the I shall have it from your own two living city to the sea. “Oh, if the Hibberts hands." would come,” Mrs. North said a dozen “ I have parted with all my possessions, times. “I want her to die with her own but Florence and Walter shall be commispeople. I love her, but I am a stranger.” sioned to get you something." So the night passed.

“ The thing I should have liked,” Mrs. “My dear," Aunt Anne asked, opening North answered, " was a little brooch you her eyes, "is it morning yet?"

used to wear.

It had hair in the middle, “ Yes," Mrs. North answered tenderly, and a crinkly gold setting around it." " and a lovely morning. The sun is “My dear,” said Aunt Anne dreamily, shining, and a thrush is singing on the "it is in a little box in my left-hand tree outside. We will open the window drawer ; but it needs repovating – the pin presently and let the summer in.” An is broken, and the glass and the hair have hour passed, and the postman came, but come out. It belonged to my mother." he brought no news of those who were ex- “Give it to me,” Mrs. North said pected. Later on the doctor looked in, eagerly. “I will have it done up, and and said her pulse was weaker.

wear it till you are better, and then you “She must live a little longer,” Mrs. shall have it back ; let me get it at once North said, in despair; "she must, in- - and in her eager manner she went to deed.”

the drawer. “Here it is,” she said. “It “ I will come again this afternoon,” he will make a little gold buckle. I have a

“perhaps she may have a little canary-colored ribbon in the next room; I rally.' While Aunt Anne dozed and the will put it through, and wear it rouod my maid watched, Mrs. North, unable to sit neck. Aunt Anne, you have made me a quietly any longer, wandered up and down present." the house, and round the little drawing. “I am delighted that it meets with your room, bending her face over the pot- approval, my dear” - and there was a long pourri on the corner cupboard, opening silence. The morning dragged on - a the piano and looking at the yellow keys happy spring morning, on which, as Mrs. she did not venture to touch. And then, North said to herself, you could almost restlessly, she went into the garden, and hear the summer walking to you over the gathered some oak and beech boughs, with little flowers. Presently Aunt Anne called the fresh young leaves upon them, and put her. them in pots, as Aunt Anne had once done "I was thinking,” she said, “ of a for the home-coming of Florence. canary-colored dress I had when I was a

“I cannot feel as if she is going to die,” girl. 'I wore it at my first ball – it was she thought, “but rather as if she were a military ball, my dear, and the officers going to meet the people she knew long were all'in uniform. As soon as I enago; it will be a festival for them.”

She tered the room Captain Maxwell asked looked down the road, and strained her me to dance; but I felt quite afraid, and ears, but there was no sound of a carriage, said, “You must take off your sword, if no sign of Walter and Florence. Then, you please, and put it on one side. Think for a moment, she remembered her letter, of my audacity io asking him to do such a but she was afraid to let herself linger thing; but he did it. Your ribbon made over it while Aunt Anne up-stairs lay me remember it” — and again she dying. “It is all such a tangle," she said dropped off to sleep. to herself - "life and death, and joy and Mrs. North went to the window, and sorrow, and which is best it is difficult to looked out once more. “ I feel like sister say." Aunt Anne's little breakfast was Anne on the watch-tower,” she said to her. ready, and she carried it up herself, and self. “If they would only come.” Sud. lovingly watched the old lady trying to denly a dread overcame her. Florence swallow a spoonful.

and Walter knew nothing of Alfred “ You look a little better again, Aunt Wimple's conduct. They might arrive, Anne."

and, before she had time to tell them, by Yes, love ; and I shall be much better some chance word cause Aunt Anne inwhen I have seen those dear children. I finite pain. The shame and humiliation am not quite happy about that will. I seemed to have gone out of the old lady's wanted you to have some remembrance of life during the last day or two. It would be me."

a cruel thing to remind her of it. She had “Give me something,” Mrs. North made herself ready to meet death. It was

a

me?"

66

coming to her gently and surely, with they are hurrying to you, do you hear thoughts of those she loved, and a remembrance of the days that had been before “Yes, my love,” the old lady said, rethe maddening shame of the past year. covering a little, and recognizing her. Mrs. North went down-stairs. Jane Mitch: "You said it was morning time, and a ell was in the kitchen.

thrush was singing on the tree outside. I “Is there any way of sending a note to think I hear it." the station ? " she asked.

“You do; listen, dear, listen!” and Why, yes, ma'am; Lucas would take Mrs. North turned her face towards the it with the pony-cart."

window, as though she were listening, and Go to him, ask him to get ready at looked at Aunt Anne's face, as if to put once, and come for the letter.' As shortly life into her. And as she did so there as possible she wrote an account of all came upon her ears a joyful sound, the that had taken place at the cottage, and one she most longed to hear in the world explained her own presence there.

the sound of carriage wheels. “ Take this at once to the station-master, They have come,” she said; “thank and ask him to give it to Mr. and Mrs. God! they have come.” Hibbert the moment they arrive, and to Aunt Anne seemed to understand; an see that they come here by the fastest fly expression of restfulness came over her that is there." And once more she went face; she closed her eyes, as if satisfied. up to the front bedroom. Aunt Anne was Mrs. North was in despair; it seemed as sleeping peacefully; a little smile was on if they would be a moment too late. her lips. Mrs. North went to the window, Dearest old lady, they have come! and looked up and down the long straight they are in the garden! Wake up!road, and over at the fir-trees. Presently wake up, to see them. Stay, let me prop Lucas came by with the pony-cart; he you up a little bit more. She could touched his hat, pulled the note out of his scarcely say the words, her heart was so pocket to show that he had it safely, and full. “There, now you can see the firdrove on in the sunshine. The birds were trees and the sunshine. Kiss me once, twittering everywhere. A clump of broom dear Aunt Anne, I am going to fetch your was nearly topped with yellow; some spots children ” — and she gently drew her arms of gold were on the gorse. Half an hour away. The Hibberts were in the house - Aunt Anne still slept. Mrs. North put - they were on the stairs already. Mrs. her arms on the window-sill, and rested North met them. “You are just in time," her head down on them with her face she whispered to Florence — "she has turned to the road that led to the station. waited.' “If only the Hibberts would come !" she Mrs. Hibbert could not speak, but she said. Oh, if they would come ! ” stopped one moment to put her arms

The long morning went into afternoon. round Mrs. North's neck, and then went A change came over Aunt Anne. It was on. plain enough this time. She spoke once, “Come with us," Walter said. very gently and so indistinctly that Mrs. “ No," Mrs. North answered chokingly, North could hardly make out the words, while the tears ran down her face. “She though she bent over her, trying to un- is waiting for you. Go in to her. I have derstand.

no business there." “ Aunt Anne, dear, do you know me?" Without a word they went to Aunt A smile came over the old lady's face. Anne. Like a flash there came over FlorShe was thinking of something that ence the remembrance of the day when pleased her.

she had first entered the room, and had “Yes, dear Walter," she said, “you thought that it looked like a room to die must get some chocolates for those dear in. The old lady did not make a sign. children, and I will reimburse you." Then For a moment they stood by her silently. the little woman, who had 'watched so Florence stooped, and kissed the coverlet. bravely, broke down, and, kneeling by the “Dear Aunt Anne," they said tenderly, bedside, sobbed softly to herself.

we have come.” Then a look of joy "Oh, they must come; oh, they must spread over the old lady's face. She come,” she whispered. "Perhaps I had made one last struggle to speak. better rouse her a little,” she thought after “My dear Walter and Florence," she a little while, and slipped her arm under said, and stopped for a moment. “I have the old lady's shoulder.

not been able to make any preparation " Aunt Anne – Aunt Anne, dear,” she for your arrival — but Mrs. North" — she said, “Walter and Florence are coming ; I stopped again, and her eyes closed. They

[ocr errors]

a

66

« VorigeDoorgaan »