Page:A book of the Pyrenees.djvu/358

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300
THE PYRENEES

relics are removed from it, and carried processionally to the church. The bonfire and the coloured lamps go out, and the scene of movement is transferred from the harbour to the Place, where the joglars, installed on an improvized platform, sound their instruments to lively melodies, and all, young and old, in two minutes are in full swing of a dance, that lasts from ten o'clock to midnight. "Si réellement," says French writer, "la danse est un amusement, nulle part au monde ou ne s'amuse autant qu' ici."

The train, as it traverses the flats and athwart arms of the lagoons that lie along the coast, skirts a place called Salses, and if the traveller be looking out of the window on the right hand, he catches a glimpse of a rusty mass of building with towers, and wonders what it is. This is the fortress of Salses, erected in 1497 by a Spanish engineer named Ramirez, and it is sufficiently curious to merit a study, for it was built at a time when the use of cannon was materially altering the conditions of warfare, especially of sieges. The château, though often menaced with destruction, indeed repeatedly ordered to be levelled, has remained almost intact to the present day. It forms a rectangle with a tower at each angle. These towers give evidence of the hesitation of the engineer. He was hampered by tradition, and had to introduce them without knowing exactly that they had a purpose any longer. But, on the other hand, he adopted an innovation, destined to revolutionize the defence of fortresses, by creating bastions isolated and in advance of the walls, like the demi-lunes of modern citadels. As far as we know, this was the first instance of their being employed. The castle was of some strategic importance, as commanding the passage between the vast Lagoon of Leucate and the barren ridge of the Corbières.

The last governor of the fortress was a nephew of Voltaire,