A Book of the Cevennes/The Hérault

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search



Clermont l'Hérault—Church and castle—Aimar Guilhem—Deserts the cause of his Count—Peyrolles the Potter—N.D. du Peyrou—Villeneuvette—Military cloth factory—Its semi-feudal organisation—Valley of the Dourbie—Mourèze—The quarries—Decomposition of the rock—Church—Lodève The Count—Contest with him carried on by S. Fulcran—The bishops—Perjury—The people gain the victory—Cathedral—S. Michel-de-Grammont—Dolmen—Caverns—L'Escalette—Larzac—Le Caylar—Flora of Larzac—Abdias Maurel—La Couvertoirade—Aniane—Gorges of the Hérault—Mills—S. Guilhem-le-Désert—Guillaume de Courtenez—His parting from his wife—His visit to Paris—Church—Monuments—Cloister—Saracen inscriptions—Farewell to the Cevennes.

AN admirable centre for several expeditions of no little interest is Clermont l'Hérault, where is a good hotel.

Clermont, though called l'Hérault, is not actually on the river of that name, though near it. The town is built at the base and up the sides of a steep hill crowned by a ruined castle.

The church is one of the very few in the department with side aisles to the nave. Indeed, the form affected throughout southern Languedoc is a vast nave without pillars, and chapels between the buttresses. This church was begun in 1275 and ended in 1313. It has a seven-sided apse. Over the west window is a gallery with
S. GUILHEM-LE-DÉSERT - A book of the Cevennes.jpg

S. Guilhem-Le-Désert

machicolations, so that it could be used as a fortress, and melted lead or boiling pitch could be thrown down on besiegers. Narrow, steep, and dirty streets climb the hillside to the castle, now enclosed within the walls of a convent; little remains, however, but a keep of this once sumptuous seigneural residence of the barons of Clermont Formerly it consisted of a semicircular ring of wall defended at intervals by seven round towers, and

with an eighth on the side of the chord of the arc. The view from the height extends over the plain watered by the Hérault and the Lergue, that begins at the feet of the Lodève Mountains and extends to the low range of the Taillades de Gignac. From thirty to forty towns, villages, and hamlets dot this plain.

In 1209 Aimar Guilhem, seigneur of Clermont, was the ally of the unfortunate Raymond, Count of Toulouse, against whom Innocent III. hurled the thunders of excommunication because he would not butcher and burn his subjects, who had embraced the Albigensian heresy; and Aimar was accordingly involved in his sentence. Innocent called together the riff-raff of Europe to join in a crusade against Raymond, promising life eternal and absolution from all sins to those who would join in an indiscriminate slaughter of the Albigenses, and placed Simon de Montfort at the head of this horde of the Children of God, as they called themselves, who swept over the land committing indescribable horrors. After the massacre of the inhabitants of Béziers by the crusaders, Aimar retired to his castle and awaited events. His conduct may have been prudent, as he saved the town from sack and slaughter, but it was unworthy of him; as had he roused the country of Lodève, he would have menaced the rear of Simon de Montfort, and might have forced this commander of the soldiers of the Papacy to deal less cruelly with the seigneurs of Languedoc, whom he robbed of their domains with impunity.

On the Place under trees is a monument, surmounted by a bust of Peyrolles, a potter of Clermont, who composed verses in the Languedoc dialect. He became jealous of the fame acquired by Jasmin, the hairdresser of Agen, the great vernacular poet, and sent him a challenge. "I will go to Montpellier any day and hour you choose to name. Let four men of literary notoriety give us three themes on which to compose poems in twenty-four hours; and let us be shut up in one room, with no admission of any one to us or of anything but our food—and see who in the time will turn out most poetry." Jasmin replied that he declined the contest. For his part, he could not produce verses as fast as Peyrolles could pots; his powers did not reach further than the composition of two or three verses in a day.

A delightful walk or drive is to Mourèze, up the valley of the Dourbie. On the col crossed by the road leading into this valley is the quaint chapel of N. D. du Peyrou. It is pointed, with an immense porch composed of two flying buttresses sustaining a roof. A chapel at the west end is out of line with the axis of the principal building. The nave was rebuilt or altered at the Renaissance. In the choir on one side are oval frames containing representations of girls who have made their first communion, in white paper cut out with scissors, and on the other side similar frames contain nuptial crowns. A largely attended pilgrimage visits this chapel on Monday in Easter week. This
IN THE CIRQUE, MOURÈZE A book of the Cevennes.jpg


shrine is at the entrance to the beautiful basin of Villeneuvette, rich with cork trees, micocouliers (Celtis Australis), mulberries, chestnuts, tall ancient cypresses, pines, caper bushes, and the kermes-oak.

Here in the bottom, by the little river, is the industrial settlement of Villeneuvette. An avenue of planes leads to a wall, with a gateway in it, over which is the inscription, Honor to work" Up to 1848 it bore the title "royal factory" This is the last existing example of the factories established by Colbert in 1666 for the weaving of cloth for the Levant trade, and for each piece of cloth woven was received a bonus of ten francs. It was found that the trade in the Levant of French cloth was failing owing to English competition. Colbert founded this among other colonies of workmen to ensure that the cloth exported was of good quality, and agents in Constantinople and in Pondicherry received and sold it. In order to protect the establishment during the religious wars that desolated the Cevennes, the settlement was surrounded by a rampart, crenelated and flanked by redoubts. Within are the factory, a church, and the houses of the artisans, arranged on a formal plan. The colony had its own municipal government, and elected its own mayor. Every night the drawbridge was raised and the gate fastened.

Villeneuvette owns a considerable territory around it, and the land is parcelled out among the workmen engaged in the factory. Each family has its garden,its vineyard, and its plantation of mulberries, so that when work is slack in the factory there is plenty of occupation for the hands in the fields.

For more than two centuries Villeneuvette has been in private hands. It had failed to be a success financially in 1703, and was disposed of to M. Castamé d'Aurac, who built the church. A century later, in 1803, it became the property of the family of Maistre, and it has remained in the same hands ever since.

It now turns out exclusively cloth for the army and uniforms for colleges and railway officials. Long stretches of dark blue and crimson cloth are seen in the meadows outside the walls, destined to be cut into the jackets and breeches of the military. Villeneuvette has retained much of its curious patriarchal organisation. There is no village outside the embattled walls; of the ninety-eight cottages all are given rent free to the artisans, and nothing more is exacted of them save respect for rules of decency and cleanliness. Here no slops may be thrown out of the windows, nor may birds' nests be molested. These restrictions have been indignantly protested against by the Radicals, who charge the organisation of the little community with being bound down by the chains of feudalism. Where is liberty if a householder may not throw his slops down on the head of any one passing in the street? Where is equality if the urchins of Clermont may rob robins' nests and not those of Villeneuvette? Where is fraternity if the artisans may not get fuddled together and roar and riot in drunken bands?

The road ascends the valley of the Dourbie,but to reach Mourèze it makes a circuit round the conical mountain, Le Puy de Bissou, on the summit of which is a chapel where once lived a hermit, but to which no pilgrimages are now made. A bridge has been thrown over the river, and a new road has been begun which will give speedier access by carriage to Mourèze, but which can
Group at Mourèze- A book of the Cevennes.jpg

Group at Mourèze

now only be traced on foot. The sparkling stream slides over contorted slate rocks, and trout dart through the pools. The hillsides are covered with pale grey flowered heath and the stunted kermes-oak with its glistening leaves. This, the Quercus coccifera, never grows higher than five feet, the garus it is that gives its name to the garigues, the desolate regions of limestone on which nothing else will grow. On its leaves feeds the kermes insect, round as a ball, and formerly supposed to be the fruit growing out of the rib of the leaf as does the berry of the butchers' broom. It produces a red dye, less brilliant than cochineal, and some of the Oriental reds are produced from it. The dye of the kermes is more permanent than cochineal. Suddenly on our eyes bursts Mourèze, one of the most fantastic groups of rock, castle, church, and village to be seen

anywhere. We are disposed to regard the pictures by Gustave Doré of rock scenery interspersed with ruined towers as in his series, Le Juif errant, to be the creations of a fevered dream. But they are not so. He must have lived or travelled among the dolomitic formations of Languedoc, and thence drawn his inspiration.

The approach to Mourèze by the old carriage road is different; it is through red sandstone, soft and friable, and torn by streams into gullies. One would suppose that Mourèze had been founded originally by refugees from a world devastated by wars. It is concealed from view on all sides. It is Nature's hiding-place for persecuted men. At its back start up sheer cliffs of limestone, pink and yellow and grey, rising from 1,300 to 1,600 feet. Dolomitic limestone is composed of carbonate of lime and carbonate of magnesia, and the texture is mostly crystalline and granulated. Each grain, having a power of resistance different from the other, yields or remains under the influence of the air and rains, so that alongside of massive rocks, eroded, hollowed out, perforated, or protruding in knots and elbows, are heaps of sand formed by the decomposition of the cement that held the grains in place. Thus are obtained the most bizarre and varied shapes of rock. All that imagination can picture of what is strange is found here—dismantled towers, gigantic monoliths, excavated walls, narrow gullies between monstrous shapes, great porticoes, pyramids standing on their heads, grouped together, and among them cottages clinging to their sides, a church on a ledge above a precipice, and over all a castle, the walls of which can hardly be distinguished from the rock out of which they grow. Contrast adds to the picturesque effect. The dolomite bristling with needles lies in the lap of a great cirque or cradle of more compact calcareous rock, disposed in regular horizontal beds, and attaining to a top over 1,610 feet that supports the ruins of the Romanesque church of S. Jean d'Aureillan. These walls back the scene on the north. The south is closed by the Puy de Bissou, clothed in woods, 1,450 feet. To the west is the mountain of S. Scholastica, 1,500 feet, and wooded ranges to the east of less elevation complete the enclosure and the screen that hides Mourèze from the world without.

The dolomite formation of Mourèze forms an almost continuous belt from Bédarieux to Bories and the north of Clermont. The region of Carlencas on this line presents an equally extraordinary appearance. The same rock is found north of Lodève, above Pégairolles,
THE SENTINEL, MOURÈZE- A book of the Cevennes.jpg


where they constitute the picturesque passage of l'Escalette.

The castle is mentioned in records from 790; it is called Castrum Morelinum, or Morazios Villa; Mourezés in 1625, and Mourèze in 1659.

The church, of two bays, has a seven-sided apse, and is of the thirteenth century. It is vaulted, and has no aisles. The tower is square.

The train will take one to Lodève, an ancient cathedral city, and before that a Roman Castrum Luteva. Paris was also a Luteva.

When Charlemagne completed the expulsion of the Arabs out of Septimania, he made of Lodève a county under his empire, and granted considerable privileges to the bishops.

There arose by degrees three powers to dispute possession of the land, the Municipality, the Count, and the Bishop, representing the people, the aristocracy, and the clergy. The history of Lodève is thenceforth a history of their conflicts for pre-eminence. In the tenth century arose a man who gave a new direction to affairs. Hitherto the counts had retained the mastery; now the Church would attempt to grapple with their power.

This man was Fulcran, who ascended the episcopal throne at the age of thirty in 947. He was noted for his beauty, for his grace of manner towards all men, so that, although a member of a noble family, he was greatly beloved by the common people. He wrote nothing; he was above all an orator and a man of action. He began to build a tower to his cathedral. The Count Eldin, who occupied the Castle of Montbrun, ordered him to pull it down. Fulcran refused. Meanwhile the oppressions of the people by the count had become intolerable. They were crushed with taxation and denied municipal rights. The tower served as an excuse for a quarrel. Gentle as he was, Fulcran was determined to come to conclusions with the count. At his word the citizens rose, were aided by the country folk, Montbrun was stormed, and the bishop held Count Eldin prisoner till he had given guarantees not to continue his misrule. When Fulcran died in 1006 he had marked out the course his successors were to follow. They continued to snatch from the seigneur one right after another, and when the county passed into the hands of the Duke of Rodez, the Castle of Montbrun went by way of purchase to the bishops, and they became both spiritual and temporal lords of the county.

But what all this while of the people? At the outset it had assisted Fulcran in his strife with the count; it had contributed to effect the revolution that finally transferred the temporal power from lay into ecclesiastical hands. The ambition of Fulcran's successors knew no limits. After having conquered the seigneur they attacked the municipal liberties.

The people of Lodève soon saw that they had changed masters for the worse. A struggle broke out between them and their masters that caused much blood to flow. One bishop was driven from his palace.Later, in 1202, the inhabitants sent delegates to the prelate, Pierre de Frotier, to complain of his unendurable exactions. He refused to admit them to his presence. Then the mob broke in on him and made him swear to grant concessions. He appealed to Innocent III., who at once relieved him of his oath. The people, enraged at this bit of deceit, again rose, broke into the palace, and killed the perjured bishop. The punishment inflicted on the town for this act was severe. However, the citizens were determined on resistance, and at last the controversy was submitted to arbitration, and they gained most of what they had demanded.

The cathedral is of the fourteenth century. The nave of three bays has side aisles and chapels on the south side, one of which, dedicated to S. Michael, is recessed behind richly moulded arches. The choir consists of two bays, with a nine-sided apse with lofty narrow two-light windows in each side. A curious arrangement is the walling up on each side of the choir so as to transform the continuation of the aisles into lengthy independent chapels. On the north side is the richly adorned chapel of S. Fulcran. The west front has no doorway in it, but a beautiful rose window between machicolated turrets. To see it one must enter the gendarmerie which occupies this end of the building. Poor fragmentary cloisters remain on the south.

Ferdinand Fabre thus describes the interior of the cathedral:—

"It has a nave and side aisles. The choir is large, lengthy, and occupies almost half the church, which gives an impression of surprise, and awakes in one the unpleasant idea that there is a want of proportion in the general disposition of the monument. But when this vexatious impression has passed away, one admires the nine windows of the apse, of original design, enormously lofty, certainly not in the purest style. The Gothic of the South always retained something incomplete, coarse, disagreeable, and never attained to the marvellous proportion, to the supreme elegance, to the aerial grace of the North. Nevertheless, with all its faults, the clumsiness of hand of an unskilled artist, who opened these windows to let in the light of heaven;—these immense bays, enriched with little pillars having carved capitals, divided into two by a single mullion that rises unsustained to the point where the tracery begins, and receive the ribs of the vaulting, lay hold of and retain one's eyes. The vaults, distributed in five bays, are designed not without dignity. The whole edifice, in spite of gross and many architectural faults—faults of construction, faults of arrangement—breathes a certain robust grace, a barbaric charm, making it the most interesting and most grateful of sanctuaries in our land."

A pretty, late flamboyant, melting into early Renaissance, chapel is between the cathedral and the cloister.

The old episcopal palace has been converted into municipal buildings, and the gardens into a fine promenade; so that the long conflict that endured for centuries has ended in the complete victory of the people. The bishopric was suppressed at the Concordat.

Between Clermont and Lodève the line runs through a red sandstone district, curiously bare and water-torn. The red stone seems to melt like butter under the rain, and with the least rush of water it swims away in masses, and grass can scarcely grow on the denuded surface.

At the distance of an hour and a half from Lodève is the well-preserved monastery of S. Michel-de-Grammont, now converted into farm buildings. It has a Romanesque cloister and a pointed chapter-house. The tower bears an octagonal campanile, rising out of a square base, the four windows of which are flamboyant.
Dolment of Grandmont- A book of the Cevennes.jpg

Dolmen of Grandmont

The octagon is surmounted by a dome. The church is of great simplicity, and consists of a nave, vaulted, with a circular apse. On the north side is a pretty portal of three orders, resting on pillars with foliaged capitals.

Near the church is a little chapel, on the front of which is inlaid an inscription in characters of the twelfth century, stating that it was consecrated on the 11th of the Calends of June in honour of S. Michael, but without date of the year.

At no considerable distance is a remarkably well-preserved dolmen. The end stone is pierced with a triangular opening, through which food was thrust for the dead who lay within. From Lodève the great upland causse can be reached by the road that leads to Le Caylar, through the valley of the Lergue and by the passage of l’Escalette. This was formerly a scramble up a stair of rocks, but now a good road has been driven up the heights to the vast plateau of Larzac, which has been seen as the train passes over it from Le Vigan to Tournemire.

There are caves to be explored near Lodève by such as enjoy such underground excursions; and these with marvellous stalagmitic and stalactitic formations. Such are the Mas de Bouquet, in the commune of Soubès. Another is the Grotte de Labeil, opening out of a cirque of rocks above the source of the Baume-Bauède, that once found its issue thence, but has now burrowed its way to a lower level.

Larzac (Larga saxa) is the most extensive and the most barren of all the limestone causses—a Siberian tundra in winter, an Arabia Petræa in summer.

It seems to be transpierced by the Cevennes, that penetrate it at the Col de Sanctières, and issue from its huge bulk again at Mont Paon, a distance of fifteen miles. But from its abrupt precipices above Milau to the bold frontage of glaring white at L'Escalette is a distance of twenty-four miles. Elisée Reclus says of it:—

"The plateau of Larzac is a veritable table of stone. Water lacks on its surface. The soil, pierced by fissures, is hardly moistened by torrential rains. The drops falling on it pass through it as through a sieve and disappear. At certain spots the rifts in the rock are large, their walls have fallen in, and one sees huge funnels, avens, open in the calcareous surface, and descend to frightful depths. But almost everywhere the surface of the causse is uniform, and the subterranean wells are only indicated by superficial zigzags. Nowhere does a single spring rise.

"The inhabitants have for their own use and that of their cattle but the rain-water collected in cisterns or lavagnes, carefully cemented inside. Where water lacks, vegetation lacks also, and so also inhabitants.

"On most of the causses not a tree is to be seen, hardly a bush, save in dips offering some shelter from the wind. The rock is covered with naught but a short herbage, and the inhabitants, few in number, have utilised but scanty surfaces for the growth of barley, oats, and potatoes."

When the water in the cisterns fails, the caussenard has to make a day's journey to descend into the valleys and fetch the pure liquid from one of the springs that issue there, either in boisterous cascades or welling up out of deep abysses, thrust forth silently by the pressure of the water from above.

A century ago the Larzac could be reached from Lodève only by ladders planted against the precipice at the Pas de l'Escalette.

Le Caylar stands 2,400 feet above the sea, and was once a walled town, with its castle on a rock above it. From the summit the prospect is strange, and not to be forgotten. The eye stretches over the vast barren plain of the same white rock, that here and there assumes strange forms. At night, when the moon glares over it, these rocks with their black shadows stand up in the most fantastic shapes, and nothing can be conceived more surprising. One is in la belle France, indeed—but where is the beauty?

The flora of these plateaux is sufficiently interesting. A list of the plants that the Larzac produces will be found in Fabre (A.), Histoire du Canton du Caylar, Montpellier, 1895.

Le Caylar was the birthplace of Abdias Maurel, called Catinat, the Camisard chief, of whom I have already related some of the achievements.

When Cavalier submitted, Catinat in wrath withdrew and vowed to continue the conflict; but finally he also was compelled to abandon the struggle, and he retired into Switzerland in September, 1704. But he was restless, and two months later recrossed the frontier and entered into a conspiracy, the object of which was to remove the governor Bâville and the Duke of Berwick by assassination. The plot was discovered whilst he was in Nîmes, 2Oth April, 1705, and Catinat attempted to escape from the town in disguise, having shaved his face. A price had been set on his head. At the gate of Nîmes something suspicious in his appearance caused his arrest, and compromising letters were discovered secreted about his person. He was led to the Duke of Berwick. He demanded to be exchanged for Marshal Tallard, who was a prisoner in the hands of the English, and threatened that if this were not done the English would make Tallard suffer the same death that was inflicted on him. His trial was short, and he was condemned to be burnt alive along with Ravanel, his accomplice in the intended murder.

At the stake Ravanel thundered forth a psalm of Marot, but Catinat, who was chained by him, died biting Ravanel's shoulder, possibly in the delirium of his agony.

A very interesting walled town on the causse is La Couvertoirade, for which there is a station on the line from Le Vigan. It was a commandery of the Templars, and after their suppression of the Knights of S. John.

La Couvertoirade seems to attest to the present day the power of these military orders, and to reveal to us as in a picture the story of their greatness, their faults, and their misfortunes. The general plan is that of an irregular hexagon; the southern portion is occupied by a huge rock that sustains the castle and the church. The ramparts of the town, that are almost perfect, were begun at the end of the thirteenth century and finished at the beginning of the fourteenth. The houses of the little place have a character that harmonises well with the ring of walls enclosing them. If La Couvertoirade shows traces of decay produced by time or the violence of men, the town is, nevertheless, one of the most curious and best-preserved examples of a fortified place of the Middle Ages that can be found in Southern France.

S. Guilhem-le-Désert is one of the strangest and most
On the Hérault - A book of the Cevennes.jpg

On the Hérault

Gullhem Le Desert - A book of the Cevennes.jpg

S. Gullhem-Le-Desert

picturesque towns in France. It can be reached from Montpellier by taking the train to Aniane and walking or driving thence, or from Clermont in a carriage.

The Hérault escapes from its gorges at S. Jean de Foss, a little walled town, of which one gate remains. The church, crowded about by houses, is very early Romanesque and peculiar in many ways. It underwent alterations in the second Pointed period. There is a west tower, and the chancel is bored out under another.

Aniane is an uninteresting place, with a church built in the eighteenth century, very ugly. The huge abbey was also rebuilt about the same period, and now serves as a prison. I have not stayed the night at Aniane, and think that perhaps the inns may be better on the inside than they appear without. They do not invite to try their internal comforts.

The Hérault breaks out into the plain through a gorge of calcareous rocks, and it has sawn for itself a deep cleft in the bed below the roadway. The strata therein are strangely contorted. From Aniane a bridge is crossed, Le Pont du Diable, not very alarming, in spite of its name, and above is an aqueduct that conveys the water of the Hériault by a channel into the plain to Gignac and beyond that to S. André, carrying fertility with it.

Springs break forth from the cliffs, forming tables of calcareous deposit. One of these, of a high temperature, has constructed a large shelf extending towards the river, into which it flows.

The cliffs on each side of the ravine are very bare, striated, grey and yellow and white, spotted here and there with shrubs, aromatic and evergreen, and the wild pomegranate with its crimson flowers may be found here and about Aniane.

As we ascend the valley, looking down into emerald green pools or wreaths of foam, we light on curious domed structures by the water. These are ancient mills, vaulted over with stone as a protection against floods that sometimes cover them many feet with rolling water, and in one place is a tower beside them up which the millers might fly for refuge when the torrent came rolling down unexpectedly.

All at once we reach the opening of a narrow lateral valley, where are the remains of a tower and walls, and where also are two humble inns, in one of which, as I can vouch, at very short notice an excellent déjeuner can be improvised. "Go up and see S. Guilhem," said the old woman of the inn, "and see what I shall have when you return." So we went, and on coming back she produced crayfish just caught in a net, also a rabbit; further, a couple of fieldfares plump with juniper berries; these, with vegetable soup, foie gras, boiled beef, etc., made a rare lunch.

S. Guilhem is a little town drawn out in a thread alongside of a small stream that rises at the base of a cirque of pink and yellow Jura-limestone above the place. It is itself surmounted by a crag towering high into the sky with what appears to be a lacework of stone on top, actually the ruins of a castle, called of Don Juan. Halfway up is a tower and gateway, through which alone the castle could be reached by a stair cut in the rock, but now the summit can be attained by a circuitous path cut for the purpose.

The village, or little town, grew about an abbey founded by Guillaume, Duke of Aquitaine, in 804. He
Mills of the Hérault- A book of the Cevennes.jpg

Mills of the Hérault

was grandson of Charles Martel, and he also was a hammer to smite the Saracens. In 793 he fought them at Carcassonne and drove them back; in 797 he wrested Narbonne from them. Then, pursuing them, he drove them out of Barcelona. War made him a misanthrope, and misanthropy made a monk of him.

He retired to this desert, settled there with his sisters twain, Albara and Bertrara, and died there on May 28th, 812; and when he died the bellspealed of themselves. His heroic life and pious end became the theme of one of the longest and finest of the Provençal Chansons de Gestes, that of Guillaume de Courtenez—whence the honoured name of Courtenay in England. This is what Fauriel says of the romance:—

"William is the ideal of the Christian knight, fighting for the maintenance of his faith against the Saracens. The epic, in accord with history, does not always paint him as happy, as always victorious. It represents him sometimes as defeated, reduced to the most deplorable extremities, but never losing courage, and always vanquishing in the long run. No other epic of the Carlovingian cycle is so deeply impressed with a sentiment of shuddering apprehension, which one may assume to be a traditional reflection of the contemporary feelings excited by the terrible struggle that took place in the South and lasted two centuries against the Andalusian Arabs."

I think I must find place for a single episode from this poem. It relates to the parting of Guillaume and his wife Gibors, when he was about to go to Paris to ask for succour:—

"Sire Guillaume," said she, "you go into France so highly lauded, and you leave me here, sad, among people that love me not. In the honoured land of France you will meet with many a fresh-faced damsel, many a well-dressed dame, and therefore will lose your heart. You will forget me and this land where you have suffered such pains and endured hunger and thirst."

It must be known that at this time Guillaume and Gibors had been married something like five-and-twenty years. They were not a young couple just out of their honeymoon. Then he replied, kissing Gibors tenderly:—

"Gentle lady, do not concern yourself about me. Receive now my solemn vow, which I will keep faithfully. During my journey I will not change my linen or my coat. I will not taste meat or anything peppered. I will not drink wine nor water out of a goblet; only such of the latter as I can scoop up in my hand. And know further that never shall another mouth be joined to mine, which has been kissed and made spicy by your lips."

On reaching Paris, Guillaume was very badly received. The reason was that Louis the Emperor had married Blanchefleur, the sister of the Duke; that she was white only in name; was, in fact, a disreputable character; so dreading a scolding from her pious brother she had prejudiced her husband against him. When he reached the door of the palace, no squire came to his aid, no one saluted him, no groom offered to take his horse, which he accordingly tied to an olive tree. The southern poet, never having been in the north, supposed that the same trees grew there as in Provence and Languedoc. Guillaume entered the royal hall and saw the Emperor on his throne and the Empress in ermine and gold at his side, both crowned. Neither took notice of him, and all the princes and nobles turned the cold shoulder to him. And indeed he cut a sorry figure. His garments were threadbare and ragged, his linen had obviously not been washed for months, nor was his hair combed and brushed. He was constrained to take a stool far back in the hall. Presently his wrath overcame his astonishment at this insulting reception. He stood up, as he saw his own father and mother, the Count and Countess of Narbonne, received with favour and seated beside the Emperor and Empress. In a loud and terrible voice he cried: "Louis! for all the great services I have rendered you, for all the battles I have fought for you—is this my reward?" "Set your mind at rest," answered the King; "you shall be rewarded by and by." "What!" cried the Queen, "will you rob me of my heritage to give it to him?" Then Guillaume shouted: "Be quiet, impure dog!" and he recited before all the court some of his sister's escapades. Then, striding through the crowd of nobles, he mounted to the throne, plucked the crown from his sister's head, and dashed it on the floor.

The abbey church is a fine Romanesque building, not earlier than the first years of the eleventh century. Of that date are the nave and side aisles. Choir, transepts, and porch were added at the end of the twelfth century. The nave communicates with the side aisles by five great arches supported by cruciform piers, and is lighted by three loftily placed windows. The ornamentation of the church is on the outside. To each transept is an apse. The principal apse has an arcade externally like the Lombardic churches on the Rhine. In the apse of the north aisle are the sarcophagi of Guillaume Courtenez and his sisters. That of the founder was so broken by the Camisards that it was not possible to piece it together again, as has been done with the tomb of the ladies, which they also broke. Their sarcophagus is a Christian tomb of the fourth century, with Christ and the evangelists, or apostles, carved on it; at the extremities Adam and Eve and the Three Children in the Furnace. Perhaps the greatest treasure in the church is a black marble altar with panels of white marble and inlaid work of coloured glass, very beautiful, of the date 1138.

Pilgrimages arrive at S. Guilhem on Monday in Easter week and October 1st.

On the south side of the church is the cloister, very early, contemporary with the nave, and with traces of painting in it; but it has been pulled to pieces. In the midst stood a fountain that spouted water in as many jets as there are days in the year. But it was sold to a Paris dealer in antiquities, and where it now is cannot be said. The old monastic buildings, burnt by the Camisards, were reconstructed, and are now occupied by a Baron d'Albenas.

Some of the houses in the town are certainly Romanesque. There was a second church in the place, but it is now in ruins.

Returning to Aniane, it is worth mentioning that in destroying the old presbytery a marble slab was found bearing an Arabic inscription: "In the name of Allah, the clement and merciful, peace be with Mahomed. There is but one God. It is to Him, and to Him alone, that all power is due." A precisely identical inscription has been found at Montpellier, and this shows that the Saracens were in Languedoc not only as destroyers and raiders, but as inhabitants. Guillaume planted himself very close to where they had been, and whence he had turned them out.

And now my account is ended: not that I have exhausted the country. I have done no more than touch upon some points in it. It is a country that fascinates any one who visits it, that lays hold of his heart in strange fashion, and he is inclined when back in England to say, with Ferdinand Fabre:—

"Quand mon cerveau à vidé sur le papier blanc sa mince provision d'idées journalières, les coudes à la barre d'appui (de ma fenêtre) je coule là, en une paresse délicieuse, de longues heurs à rêver. Mon âme alors s'envole au pays si profondément incrusté en elle, ce pays que je rétrouve dans le moindre plis de mes pensées, ce pays qui, le plus ordinairement, lorsque j'ose écrire, me commande, et auquel j'obéis."