Page:A book of the Pyrenees.djvu/46

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.


CHAPTER III

BAYONNE


Approach to the Pyrenees—Colour of the mountains—Bayonne—Cathedral—Attachment of Bayonne to the English—Quarrels with Norman towns—Taken by the French—Bayonets—Meeting of queens—Wild Scotchmen— Napoleon lures the Infante and King of Spain to Bayonne—Dethrones the King—The crossing of the Pyrenees by Wellington—Battles—About Bayonne—Cemetery—Lakes in the Landes—Biarritz—The Refuge—S. Jean de Luz—Riding en cacolet—Heaving at Eastertide—The Bidassoa—Peace of the Pyrenees—Fontarabia—Passages—San Sebastian—Siege—Charges brought against the English.


MICHELET, with florid eloquence, describes the approach to the Pyrenees from Bordeaux in the first chapter of the second volume of his History of France.

"However beautiful and fertile may be the valley of the Garonne, one cannot lag there. The distant summits of the Pyrenees exercise on us a too powerful attraction. But it is a serious matter to reach them. Whether you take the way by Nérac, a doleful seigneurie of the Albrets, or whether you follow the coast, it is all the same, you must either traverse or skirt an ocean of landes, covered with cork trees and vast pine forests, where nothing is met save black sheep under the conduct of a shepherd of the department, that have left the mountains for the plains in quest of warmth. The roving life of these shepherds is one of the most picturesque elements in the South. These nomads, companions of the stars in their eternal solitude, half astronomers, half sorcerers, carry their

30