Cliff Castles and Cave Dwellings of Europe/Chapter II
Herodotus, speaking of the Ligurians, says that they spent the night in the open air, rarely in huts, but that they usually inhabited caverns. Every traveller who goes to the Riviera, the old Ligurian shore, knows, but knows only by a passing glance, the Etang de Berre, that inland sea, blue as a sapphire, waveless, girt about by white hills, and perhaps he wonders that Toulon should have been selected as a naval port, when there was this one, deeper, and excavated by Nature to serve as a harbour. The rocks of S. Chamas that look down on this peaceful sheet of water, rarely traversed by a sail, are riddled with caves, still inhabited, as they were when Herodotus wrote 450 years before the Christian era.
The following account of an underground town in Palestine is from the pen of Consul Wetzstein, and describes one in the Hauran. "I visited old Edrei—the subterranean labyrinthic residence of King Og—on the east side of the Zanite hills. Two sons of the sheikh of the village— one fourteen and the other sixteen years of age—accompanied me. We took with us a box of matches and two candles. After we had gone down the slope for some time, we came to a dozen rooms which, at present, are used as goat stalls and storerooms for straw. The passage became gradually smaller, until at last we were compelled to lie down flat and creep along. This extremely difficult and uncomfortable progress lasted for about eight minutes, when we were obliged to jump down a steep well, several feet in depth. Here I noticed that the younger of my two attendants had remained behind, being afraid to follow us; but probably it was more from fear of the unknown European than of the dark and winding passages before us.
"We now found ourselves in a broad street, which had dwellings on both sides, whose height and width left nothing to be desired. The temperature was mild, the air free from unpleasant odours, and I felt not the smallest difficulty in breathing. Further along there were several cross-streets, and my guide called my attention to a hole in the ceiling for air, like three others which I afterwards saw, now closed from above. Soon after we came to a market-place, where, for a long distance, on both sides of the pretty broad street, were numerous shops in the walls, exactly in the style of the shops seen in Syrian cities. After a while we turned into a side street, where a great hall, whose roof was supported by four pillars, attracted my attention. The roof, or ceiling, was formed of a single slab of jasper, perfectly smooth and of immense size, in which I was unable to perceive the slightest crack.
"The rooms, for the most part, had no supports. The doors were often made of a single square stone, and here and there I also noticed fallen columns. After we had passed several cross-alleys or streets, and before we had reached the middle of the subterranean city, my attendant's light went out. As he was lighting again by mine, it occurred to me that possibly both our lights might be extinguished, and I asked the boy if he had any matches. 'No,' he replied, 'my brother has them.' 'Could you find your way back if the lights were put out?' 'Impossible,' he replied. For a moment I began to be alarmed at this underworld, and urged an immediate return. Without much difficulty we got back to the marketplace and from hence the youngster knew the way well enough. Thus, after a sojourn of more than an hour and a half in this labyrinth, I again greeted the light of day." 
I have quoted this somewhat lengthy account because, as we shall see in the sequel, the subterranean dwellings and above all refuges in Europe, bear to this town of King Og of Bashan a marked resemblance.
Within four hours of Paris by Chartres and Sargé is the town of Montoire with a clean inn, Le Cheval Rouge, and next station down the Loir is Trôo. The Loir, male, is the river, not La Loire of the feminine gender. Le Loir is a river that rises in the north-east, traverses the fertile upland plain of Beauce, and falls into and is lost in La Loire at Angers. It is a river rarely visited by English tourists, but it does not deserve to be overlooked. It has cut for itself a furrow in the chalk tufa, and the hospitable cliffs on each side offer a home to any vagrant who cares to scratch for himself a hole in the friable face, wherein to shelter his head.
Trôo bears a certain resemblance to the city of Og. Originally it was all underground, but in process of time it effervesced, bubbled out of its holes, and is now but half troglodyte. The heights that form the Northern declivity of the valley of the Loir come to an abrupt end here, and have been sawn through by a small stream creating a natural fosse, isolating the hill of Trôo that is attached to the plateau only on the North. The hill rises steeply from the river to a crest occupied by a Romanesque church recently scoured to the whiteness of flour, and beside it is a mighty tumulus, planted with trees.
Formerly on this same height stood a castle, but this has been so completely broken down that nothing remains of it but a few substructures and its well.
Trôo was at one time a walled town, and as it was the key to the valley of the Loir, was hotly contested between the English and French during three hundred years, and later, between Catholics and Huguenots. The place was besieged by Mercader, the captain under Richard Coeur-de Lion, who had flayed alive the slayer of his master under the walls of Caylus, although Richard had promised him immunity. Here Mercader met his death, and was buried under a mound that is still shown.
But what makes Trôo especially interesting is that the whole height is like a sponge, perforated with passages giving access to halls, some of which are circular, and into store-chambers; and most of the houses are wholly or in part underground. The caves that are inhabited are staged one above another, some reached by stairs that are little better than ladders, and the subterranean passages leading from them form a labyrinth within the bowels of the hill, and run in superposed storeys. In one that I entered was an oven, with a well at its side. A little further, in a large hall, a circular hole in the floor unfenced gave access by rope or ladder to a lower range of galleries. Any one exploring by the feeble light of a single candle, without a guide, might be precipitated down this abyss without knowing that there was a gaping opening before him. A long ascending passage, with niches in the sides for lamps, leads to where the fibres of the roots of the trees on the mound above have penetrated and are hanging down. It is said that the gallery led on to the castle, but since this latter has been ruined it has been blocked. In the holes whence flints have dropped spiders harbour, that feed on ghostly moths which flit in the pitch darkness, and when caught between the fingers resolve themselves into a trace of silver dust. But on what did these spectral moths feed? A pallid boy of sixteen who guided me about the town told me that he had been born in a cave; that he slept in one every night, and worked underground all day. His large brown eyes could see objects in the dark where all was of inky blackness to me. It is astonishing with what unconcern mites of children romp and ramble through these corridors, where there is danger not only on account of pitfalls, but also of the roof falling in. Where I went, guided by a child of ten, every now and then I was warned— "Prenez garde, c'est écroulé."
The town—it was a town once, but now contains 783 inhabitants only—is partly built at the foot of the bluff, but very few houses are without excavated chambers, store-places or stables. The café looks ordinary enough, but enter, and you find yourself in a dungeon. There is but one street—La Grande Rue—and that has space and landscape on one side, and houses built against and into the rock on the other. A notice at the entrance to the street warns that no heavy traffic, not much above the weight of a perambulator, is permitted to pass along it, for the roadway runs over the tops of houses. A waggon might crash through into the chamber of a bedridden beldame, and a motor be precipitated downwards to salt the soup of a wife stirring it for her husband's supper. At Trôo chimneys bristle everywhere, making the hill resemble a pin-cushion or a piece of larded veal. There are in the depth of the hill wells, and to these mothers fearlessly despatch their children to fill a pitcher, as often as not without a light.
Many of the cave-dwellings have but a ledge a few feet wide, and perhaps only a dozen or twenty feet long before their doors, and at the extreme edge one may see the children standing, unaffected with giddiness, like a row of swallows, contemplating the visitor. I cannot say how it may be with the lower houses, but those high up are pronouncedly odoriferous; for the inhabitants have no means of disposing of their garbage save by exposing it on their little shelves to be dried up by the sun, or washed down by the rain over the windows and doors of their neighbours beneath.
I wonder how a sanitary officer would tackle the problem of sweetening Trôo. If he attempted to envelop it in a cobweb of socketed drainpipes he would get into a tangle with the chimneys; to carry them underground would not be feasible, as he would have to run them through kitchens, bedrooms and salles-à-manger. But even did he make this cobweb, he could not flush his pipes, as the water is at the bottom of the hill. The ancient Gauls and Britons had a practical and ingenious method of disposing of their refuse. They dug shafts in the chalk, shaped like bottles, and all the rubbish they desired to get rid of was consigned to these, till they were full, when they planted a tree on the top and opened another. Great numbers of these puticuli have been found in France. They have been likewise unearthed on the chalk downs of England. They were used as well for the graves of slaves. Now the good citizens of Trôo cannot employ the pitfalls in their caves for this purpose, or the wells would be contaminated. As it is, those wells are supplied from the rain-water falling on the hill of Trôo and filtering down, ingeniously avoiding the passages and halls. There are, however, some dripping caverns incrusted with stalagmitic deposit. But conceive of the sponge of Trôo acting as a filter through two thousand years and never renovated. Not the most impressive teetotal orator would make me a water drinker were I a citizen of Trôo.
At the summit of the hill is Le Puit qui parle, the Talking Well. It is 140 feet deep, and is shaped like a bottle. If any one speaks near the mouth, it soon after repeats in an extraordinary articulate manner the last two syllables uttered, a veritable "Jocosa Imago." Drop in a pin, and after eight seconds its click is heard as it touches the water. A stone produces a veritable detonation.
There is another Troglodyte town, also formerly walled, Les Roches, above Montoire. It is occupied by six hundred souls, and most of the houses are dug out of the rock. There is hardly space for the road to run between the Loir and the crags, and the church has to curl itself like a dog going to sleep to fit the area allowed it. This rock forms perpendicular bluffs of chalk tufa, and masses of fallen stone lie at their feet. Some rocks overhang, and the whole of this cliff and the fallen blocks have been drilled with openings and converted into habitations for man and for beast. Doors and windows have been cut in the stone, which has been hollowed out as maggots clear out the kernel of a nut. Rooms, kitchens, cellars, stables have been thus contrived. The chimneys run up the rocks, and through them; and on the plateau above open as wells, but are surrounded by a breastwork of bricks to protect them against the rain, which might form a rill that would decant playfully down the opening in a waterfall. In winter, when all hearths are lighted, the smoke issuing from all these little structures has the effect of a series of steaming saucepans.
A little way up the river outside the walls is the Château de Boydan, half scooped out of the cliff, with pretty sixteenth century mullioned and transomed windows. At right angles to the rock a wing was thrown out to contain the state apartments with their fireplaces and chimneys. But unfortunately it was tacking on of new cloth to the old garment, and the face of the rock slid down carrying with it the side walls and windows, and has left the gable containing the handsome stone chimney- pieces and the chimneys as an isolated fragment. Just beyond, excavated in the bluff, is the chapel of S. Gervais, consisting of two portions, an outer and an inner chamber. But the cliff face had been cut for the windows too thin, and the whole slid away at the same time probably as the disaster happened to the castle, and has exposed the interior of this monolithic church. There are remains of frescoes on the wall painted with considerable spirit; a king on horseback blowing a horn, and behind him a huntsman armed with a boar-spear. Benches cut in the rock surround the sanctuary. Externally a niche contains a rude image of the saint.
Still nearer to Montoire, on the left bank of the Loir is Lavardin; high up on the side of the hill, completely screened by a dense wood, is a hamlet of Troglodytes. The principal excavation served originally as a hermitage, and is called La Grotte des Vierges. There is a range of rock-dwellings in connection with it, some inhabited and some abandoned. The Grotte des Vierges is entered by steps descending into the principal chamber that is lighted by a window and is furnished with a fireplace. At one of the angles is a circular pit, six feet deep, with a groove at top for the reception of a cover. This was a silo for grain. From the first chamber entrance is obtained to a second much larger, that has in it a fireplace as well, and a staircase leading into a little oratory in which is an altar. The same staircase communicates with a lower chamber, probably intended as a cellar, for though the hermit might be frugal in meat there was no ban on the drink. The rock-dwelling nearest to the Grotte des Vierges on the left hand was of considerable proportions and pretence. It consisted of large halls, and was in several stages. The windows are broken away, the floors are gone, and it is reduced to a wreck. Below this series of cave-dwellings is the Fountain of Anduée of crystal water, supposed to be endowed with miraculous properties. The whole hill is moreover pierced with galleries and store-chambers, and served as a refuge in time of war, in which the villagers of Lavardin concealed their goods. The noble ruin of the castle shows that it was once of great majesty. It was battered down by the Huguenots, who for the purpose dragged a cannon to the top of the church tower.
Nearer to Vendôme is the Château of Rochambeau. The present mansion that has replaced the ancient castle is a very insignificant and tasteless structure. All the interest it possesses consists in its dependencies that are rock-hewn. The bass-court is reached through a long and lofty gallery bored athwart the rock, and issuing from it we find ourselves in a sort of open well, probably originally natural but appropriated and adapted by man to his needs. This vast depression, the walls of which are seventy-five feet high, is circular, and measures eighty feet in diameter. Round it are cellars and chambers for domestic purposes. Others are accessible from the gallery that leads to the court. One of them, the Cave-Noire, possesses a chimney bored upwards through the rock to the level of the surface. Another peculiarity of this cavern is that along one side, throughout its length, 120 feet, are rings cut in the rock showing tokens of having been fretted by usage. They are at the height of four feet above the soil, and are on an average four feet ten inches apart. A second range is three feet or four feet higher up. In an adjoining cavern are similar ranges of rings. A third is cut almost at the level of the soil. Precisely the same arrangement is to be found at Varennes hard by in artificial caves still employed as stables, and some as dwellings for families.
In the park is shown the cave in which the Duke of Beaufort, the Roi des Halles, was concealed when he escaped from the prison of Vincennes. François de Vendôme, Duke of Beaufort, was a grandson of Henri Quatre, a man of inordinate conceit and of very limited intelligence. During the regency that began in 1643, he obtained the confidence of Anne of Austria, but his vanity rendered him insupportable, and he went out of his way to insult the regent, so that she sent him to Vincennes. Voltaire passes a severe judgment on him. He says of the Duke: "He was the idol of the people, and the instrument employed by able men for stirring them up into revolt; he was the object of the raillery of the Court, and of the Fronde as well. He was always spoken of as the Roi des Halles, the Market-King." One day he asked the President Bellevue whether he did not think that he—Beaufort—would change the face of affairs if he boxed the ears of the Duke of Elbeuf. "I do not think such an act would change anything but the face of the Duke of Elbeuf," gravely replied the magistrate.
There are in the Quartier S. Lubin at Vendôme chambers still occupied in the face of the cliff, high up and reached by structural galleries.
At Lisle, on the river above Vendôme, are many caves, one of which was the hospital or Maladerie.
Above Tours and Marmoutier, on the road to Vouvray, is La Roche Corbon. The cliff is pierced with windows and doors, and niches for a pigeonry. This, till comparatively recently, was a truly Troglodyte village. But well-to-do inhabitants of Tours have taken a fancy to the site and have reared pretentious villas that mask the face of the cliff, and with the advent of these rich people the humble cave-dwellers have "flitted." One singular feature remains, however, unspoiled. A mass of the cretaceous tufa has slipped bodily down to the foot of the crag, against which it leans in an inclined position. This was eviscerated and converted into two cottages, but the cottagers have been ejected, and it is now a villa residence. An acquaintance at Tours has rented it for his family as a summer seat.
Some fifty or sixty years ago La Roche Corbon was "a village sculptured up the broken face of the rocks, with considerable skill, and what with creeping vines, snatches of hanging gardens, an attempt here and there at a division of tenements, by way of slight partitions cut from the surface, wreaths of blue smoke issuing out of apertures and curling up the front, and the old feudal tower, called Lanterne de la Roche Corbon, crowning the summit, the superincumbent pinnacle of excavated rock on which it stands looking as if it were ready to fall and crush the whole population beneath, this lithographed village has altogether a curiously picturesque look." But at Beaumont-la-Ronce, north of Tours, may be seen a whole street of cave habitations still occupied, wreathed with vines and traveller's joy.
In the department of Maine et Loire, and in a portion of Vienne, whole villages are underground.
There is often very valuable vineyard land that has to be walled round and every portion economised. What is done is this: the owner digs a quarry in the surface; this forms a sort of pit accessible on one side, the stone taken from this being employed to fence round his property. Then, for his own dwelling, he cuts out chambers in the rock under his vineyard, looking through windows and a door into the quarry hole. For a chimney he bores upwards, and then builds round the opening a square block of masonry, out of which the smoke escapes.
A whole village, or rather hamlet, may therefore consist of—as far as one can see—nothing but a series of chimneys standing on the ground among the vines. Those who desire to discover the inhabitants must descend into the quarries to these rabbit warrens.
In some villages the people live half above ground and half below. At St. Leger, near Loudun, is a fine mediaeval castle, with a fosse round it cut out of the rock: and this fosse is alive with people who have grubbed out houses for themselves in the rock through which the moat (which is dry) has been excavated.
A very singular settlement is that of Ezy in the valley of the Eure, at the extreme limit of the department of that name. About a kilometre from the village, along the side of the railway, are numerous subterranean habitations in three storeys, with platforms before them which are horizontal. These were the dwellings of the owners of the vines which at one time covered the hill overhead. But these vineyards failed, and the dwellings were abandoned. However, after their abandonment, it was customary at times for the villagers to resort to them for drinking and dancing bouts. This tradition continues still in force, and on Easter Tuesday these cave dwellings are visited, and there is merrymaking in them. Between the caves at one time some little taverns had been erected, but these also fell into ruin some forty or fifty years ago.
Since then a range of these caverns has become the refuge of a special population of social and moral outcasts. There they live in the utmost misery. The population consists of about eighty persons, male and female and children.
The history of the adults will hardly bear looking into. None of these people have any fixed occupation, and it is difficult to discover how they subsist. In fact, the life of every one of them is a problem. One might have supposed that they maintained a precarious existence by thieving or by begging, as they are far below the ordinary tramp; for with the exception of perhaps two or three of them, these cave-dwellers possess absolutely nothing, and know no trade whatever. They sleep on dry leaves kept together by four pieces of wood, and their sole covering consists of scraps of packing cloth. Sometimes they have not even the framework for their beds, which they manufacture for the most part out of old broken chairs discarded from the churches. A visitor says: "In one of the caverns I entered there was but one of these squalid and rude beds to accommodate five persons, of whom one was a girl of seventeen, and two were boys of fourteen and fifteen. Their kitchen battery consists exclusively of old metal cases of preserved fruit or meats that they have picked up from the ashpits. The majority, but by no means all, have got hold, somehow, of some old stoves or the scraps of a stove that they have put together as best they could. They have a well in common at the bottom of the hill, whence they draw water in such utensils as they possess, and which they let down into the water on a wooden crook. Every one has his crook as his own property, and preserves it near him in the cavern. The majority of these underground people have no clothes to speak of. Girls of fifteen and big boys go about absolutely without any linen. The rest—perhaps three or four—have only a few linen rags upon them. In the stifling atmosphere of these cave-dwellings it is by no means rare to see big children almost, if not absolutely, naked. I saw a great girl with a wild shock of uncombed hair, wearing nothing but a very scanty shift.
"These cave-dwellers live with utter improvidence, although deprived of sufficient food. Three or four couples there have some four or five children to each.
"These families have for the most part formed in the cave-dwellings. A young mother whom I saw there with four children, the only one dressed with an approach to decency, when interrogated by me told me that she had been brought there by her mother at the age of eight. That was twenty-four years ago. She was fair, with tawny hair, and of the Normandy type. She had been born in a village of the neighbourhood, and her mother took refuge in the caverns, apparently in consequence of the loss of her husband.
"I heard of an individual who had been on the parish on account of his incurable laziness, till the mayor losing all patience with him, had him transported to these cave-dwellings and left there. There he settled down, picked up a wife, and had a family.
"These people live quite outside the law, and are quit of all taxes and obligations. As to their marriages they are preceded and followed by no formalities. No attempt is made on the part of the authorities to get the children to school. One gentleman resident in the neighbourhood, a M. Frederic Passy, did take pains to ameliorate their condition. He collected the children and laboured to infuse into their hearts and heads some sort of moral principle. But his efforts were ineffectual, and left not a trace behind. They recollect him and his son well enough, but confuse the one with the other. And two of those who were under instruction for a while, when I questioned them about it, allowed that they had submitted to be bored by them for the sake of profiting by their charity.
"I interrogated an old but still robust woman, who had lived in the caverns for three years. She had been consigned to them by her own children, who had sought by this means to rid themselves of the responsibility of maintaining her.
"The elements of this population belong accordingly to all sorts. I noticed only one woman of an olive tint and with very black hair, who may have come from a distance. But I was told she was a recent accession to the colony, and I might be sure of this, as her clothing was still fairly sound and clean. As she is still young and can work, her case is curious; one wonders what can have induced her to go there.
"I saw there also a couple without children; the man had the slouch and hang-dog look of an habitual criminal.
"I may give an instance which will show the degradation to which this population has fallen. An old beggar I visited, who has lived in a cavern belonging to his brother for forty-seven years, and who has had a wife, allowed a billiard ball to be rammed into his mouth for two sous (a penny) by some young fellows who were making sport of him. He was nearly killed by it, for they had the greatest difficulty in extracting the billiard ball."
At Duclair also, on the Seine, are rock dwellings precisely like those on the Loire, and still inhabited.
Along the banks of the Loire from Tours to Saumur are numerous cave habitations still in occupation. Bell, in his "Wayside Pictures," says of those at Saumur: "Close to the town are residences, literally sculptured in the face of the naked rock. They are cut in the stone, which is the tufa, or soft gravel stone, and easily admits of any workmanship demanded by taste or necessity. There is no little care displayed in the formation of these strange habitations, some of which have scraps of gardens or miniature terraces before them; hanging from the doorways are green creeping things, with other graceful adjuncts, which help to give a touch of beauty to their aspect. In some cases, where the shelving of the rock will admit of it, there are chimneys, in nearly all windows; and it not unfrequently happens, especially higher up the road near Tours, where art has condescended to embellish the façades still more elaborately, that these house-caves present an appearance of elegance which is almost impossible to reconcile with the absolute penury of their inhabitants. The interiors, too, although generally speaking naked enough, are sometimes tolerably well furnished, having an air of comfort in them which, certainly, no one could dream of discovering in such places.
"These habitations are, of course, held only by the poor and outcast, yet, in spite of circumstances, they live merrily from hand to mouth how they can, and by means, perhaps, not always of the most legitimate description. I have a strong suspicion that the denizens of these rocks are not a whit better than they should be; that their intimate neighbourhood is not the safest promenade after dark: and that, being regarded and treated as Pariahs, they are born and baptized in the resentments which are contingent upon such a condition of existence. You might as well attempt to chase an eagle to his eyrie among the clouds, as to make your way to some of these perilous chambers, which are cut in the blank face of the rock, and can be reached only by a sinuous track which requires the fibres of a goat to clamber. There are often long lines of these sculptured houses piled in successive tiers above each other; sometimes with a view to architectural regularity, but in almost all cases they are equally hazardous to the unpractised foot of a stranger.
"Stroll down the spacious quay of Saumur in the dusk of the evening, when the flickering tapers of the temperate town are going out one by one. Roars of merriment greet you as you approach the cavernous city of the suburb. There the entertainments of the inhabitants are only about to begin. You see moving lights in the distance twinkling along the grey surface of the rock, and flitting amongst the trees that lie between its base and the margin of the river. Some bacchanalian orgie is going forward."
There was a curious statement made in a work by E. Bosc and L. Bonnemère in 1882, reproduced by M. Louis Bousrez in 1894, which, if true, would show that a lingering paganism is to be found among these people. It is to this effect: "What is unknown to most is that at the present day there exist adepts of the worship (of the Celts) as practised before the Roman invasion, with the sole exception of human sacrifices, which they have been forcibly obliged to renounce. They are to be found on the two banks of the Loire, on the confines of the departments of Allier and Saone-et-Loire, where they are still tolerably numerous, especially in the latter department. They are designated in the country as Les Blancs, because that in their ceremonies they cover their heads with a white hood, and their priests are vested like the Druids in a long robe of the same colour.
"They surround their proceedings with profound mystery; their gatherings take place at night in the heart of large forests, about an old oak, and as they are dispersed through the country over a great extent of land, they have to start for the assembly from different points at close of day so as to be able to reach home again before daybreak. They have four meetings in the year, but one, the most solemn, is held near the town of La Clayette under the presidence of the high priest. Those who come from the greatest distance do not reach their homes till the second night, and their absence during the intervening day alone reveals to the neighbours that they have attended an assembly of the Whites. Their priests are known, and are vulgarly designated as the bishops or archbishops of the Whites; they are actually druids and archdruids.... We have been able to verify these interesting facts brought to our notice by M. Parent, and our personal investigations into the matter enable us to affirm the exactitude of what has been advanced."
If there be any truth in this strange story, we are much more disposed to consider the Whites as relics of a Manichæan or Albigensian sect than as a survival of Druidism. More probable still is it that they are or were a political confederation. But I suspect that the account is due to a heated imagination.
At Bourré (Loir et Cher) are extensive quarries in the face of the hill. Here the chalk is hard and of beautiful texture. The stone has been derived hence for the erection of several of the castles in the Touraine, as also for buildings in the towns of Tours, Blois, Montrichard, &c. Most of the habitations of the villagers, who are nearly all quarrymen, are excavated in the rock, occupy old disused workings, or have been specially dug out to suit the convenience and dispositions of the occupants. In some of these old underground quarries, that are not open to the light of day, dances and revelries take place, when they are brilliantly illuminated. At Sainte Maure, on the road from Tours to Chatelherault, in a deep cleft of the Cande that is covered with the falun, an extensive deposit of marine and freshwater shells, marking the beach of an old estuary of the sea, is the village of Courtineau, wholly made up of Troglodyte habita- tions, and with its chapel also excavated in the rock.
At Villaines (Indre et Loire) the cliffs are pierced with caves that are inhabited by basket-makers, and the watercourses below are planted with willow, or else have cut osiers lying in them soaking to preserve their suppleness. In the caves, on the roads, in every house, one sees little else but baskets in process of making or cut osiers lying handy for use. The women split and peel the green rods, men and children with nimble fingers plait the white canes. All the basket-makers are themselves plaited into one co-operative association. From time immemorial Villaines had made baskets, the osier of the valley being of excellent quality. But the products could not be disposed of satisfactorily; they were bought by regraders, who beat down the prices of the wares, and the workmen had no means of seeking out the markets, in which to sell with full advantage to themselves. In 1845 an old curé, whose name is remembered with affection, the Abbé Chicogne, conceived the idea of creating a co-operative society; and aided by the Count de Villemois, he grouped the workers, and drew up the statutes of the Association, that remain in force to the present day. All the products are brought together into a common store, and sold for the benefit of the associates. No member is permitted to dispose of a single piece of his workmanship to a purchaser; he may not sell in gross any more than he may in detail. The cave-houses are comfortably and neatly furnished, and their appearance and that of their inhabitants proclaims well-being, content and cheerfulness.
On the Beune, a tributary of the Vézère, is the hamlet of Grioteaux, planted on a terrace in a cave, the rock overhangs the houses. Above the cluster, inaccessible without a ladder, in the face of the cliff, is a chamber hewn out of the rock, and joist holes proclaiming that at one time a wooden gallery preceded it. This cavern, that is wholly artificial, served in times of trouble as a place in which the community concealed their valuables.
The river Célé that flows into the Lot passes under noble cliffs of fawn and orange-tinted limestone, and the road here is called Le Défilé des Anglais, as the whole valley during the Hundred Years' War was in the possession of the Companies that pretended to fight for the Leopards. And it was down this defile that the cutthroats rode on their plundering expeditions. In this valley is the village of Sauliac, in an amphitheatre of rocks, where road and river describe a semicircle. The cliff runs up to a height of 300 feet. Houses are perched on every available ledge, grappling the rock, where not simply consisting of faced caverns. In the midst of this cirque stands the castle, buried in stately oaks. It was not built till 1460, when the long agony of the war was over, and nothing remained of the English save their empty nests in the rock, and their hated name.
A modern chapel, very white and not congruous with its surroundings, is perched above the road on a terrace under Le Roc Percé, so named from a natural cavern, very round, drilled through it, as though wrought by a giant's boring tool.
At Cuzorn, on the line from Perigueux to Agen, are very fine rocks in a meander of the Lemance, starting out of woods, and these contain caverns that have been, and some still are, inhabited. In this region are many quarries, not open to the sky, but forming halls and galleries under the hill, and some of these have been taken possession of and turned into habitations.
At Brantôme on the Dronne a good many of the houses are against the rock, the caves built up in front with the usual window and door to each. More have their workshops in grottoes, in them blacksmiths have their forges, carpenters their planing benches, tinkers, tailors, cobblers carry on their business in comparative obscurity. The superior stratum of rock is of so hard and tenacious a quality that it holds together with very few piers to support it. When a citizen wants to enlarge his premises, he merely digs deeper into the hill; he has no ground-rent to pay. Some caves open a hundred feet wide without a support.
Any one motoring or going by rail from Angoulême to Périgueux should halt half-way at La Roche Beaucourt, where the rock l'Argentine contains a nest of cave-dwellings, with silos in the floors and cupboards in the walls.
That the savage is not extinct in these out-of-the-way parts may be judged from this—that at Hautefaye near by, the peasants in 1870 laid hold of M. de Moneis, who objected to the prosecution of the war with the Prussians after Sedan, cruelly maltreated him, and threw him alive on a bonfire in which he expired among the flames.
The whole south-east angle of the Isle of Sicily is full of underground cities, of which that of the Val d'Ispica is the most famous. These excavations are vulgarly called Ddieri, but they are not in most cases tombs, but dwelling-places for the living, as is shown by the handmills for oil and corn that are found in them.
The Val d'Ispica is a narrow valley situated between Modica and Spaicaforno; and throughout its entire length of about eight miles, the rock walls are pierced on both sides with countless grottoes, all artificial, and showing the marks of tools on their walls. They are scooped in the calcareous rock. Some consist of as many as ten or twelve chambers in succession, and are seldom more than 20 feet deep by 6 feet high, and they are of the same breadth. At the bottom of the valley flows a little stream that supplied the inhabitants with water, and irrigates wild fig-trees and pink-flowered oleanders. On a higher level grow broad-leaved acanthi and wild artichokes, and thick festoons of cactus hang down from the top of the rock and shade the entrances to the grottoes. A portion of the rock wall on the right bank of the stream has fallen, and exposed to sight the internal arrangement of the dwellings. But previous to this, ascent could only have been made by ladders or by notches in the rock for the insertion of toes and fingers, as among the cliff-dwellers in Arizona. There are ranges of these habitations on several stages, and steps cut in the rock allowed communication between them; but above all is a ledge or gallery open to the sky and commanding a magnificent prospect. This could be reached only by a ladder, and probably formed the rendezvous of the women of the Troglodyte town in an evening to enjoy the cool air, and exercise their tongues. It may also have served as the last refuge of the inmates of the caverns, who, after escaping to it could withdraw the ladder.
One dwelling of three storeys, with flights of steps in good preservation, is called the Castle by the peasants. Parthey, a German traveller, who investigated these dwellings, reckoned their number to be over 1500. He saw nowhere any trace of ornament about them. Doors and windows were mere rough holes cut through the limestone. Rings hewn in the stone which are found in the chambers probably served some purpose of domestic economy. Fragments of Samian ware and carved marble have been found in them, but are probably later than the construction of these habitations. Some contain graves, and these also may be later, but actually we know from history nothing about them. Rock tombs may have been utilised as dwellings or abandoned dwellings as tombs. To the present day some of them are still occupied, mainly by shepherds and poor peasants. The range in the Crimea from Cape Kersonese to the Bay of Ratla is formed of layers of limestone alternating with clay and argilaceous schist, a disposition of the strata that tends greatly to accelerate the disintegration of the cliffs. The clay gradually washed out by springs or eaten away by the weather forms great caverns in the sides, and these are liable to fall in when deprived of support. They have, however, been utilised as habitations. The Rock of Inkermann, the ancient Celamita, runs east of the town beyond the marshy valley of the Chernaya; it has been converted into a vast quarry which menaces with destruction the old Troglodyte town that occupied the cliffs. The galleries of this underground town form a rabbit warren in which it is dangerous to penetrate without a guide or a clue. Some of the chambers are large enough to contain five hundred people.
The rocks of Djonfont-kaleharri are also honeycombed, with still inhabited caves; some are completely cavernous, but others have the openings walled up so as to form a screen. Beneath an overhanging rock is a domed church used by this Troglodyte community.
If we cross the Mediterranean to Egypt, we see there whole villages of cave-dwellers. The district between Mansa-Sura and Cyrene is full of grottoes in the very heart of the mountains, into which whole families get by means of ropes, and many are born, live and die in these dens, without ever going out of them.
The volcanic breccia as well as chalk and limestone has been utilised for the habitation of man. There is a very interesting collection of cave-dwellings all artificial, the Balmes du Montbrun, a volcanic crater of the Coiron, near S. Jean le Centenier in the Vivarais. The crater is 300 feet in diameter and 480 feet deep; and man has burrowed into the sides of porous lava or pumice to form a series of habitations, a chapel, and one that is traditionally said to have served as a prison. This rock settlement was occupied till the close of the eighteenth century.
The Grottoes de Boissière are twelve in number, on the side of the Puy de Châteauneuf, commanding the road from Saint Nectaire to Marols, Puy de Dôme. They are excavated in the volcanic tufa, and are all much of the same dimensions; one, however, measures 28 feet by 12 feet, and is 7 feet high. Below the grottoes the slope of the hill is parcelled out into small fields or gardens by means of walls of stones laid one on another without mortar, showing that the inhabitants of these caves lived there permanently and cultivated the ground below their dwellings. More curious still are the Grottoes de Jonas on the Couze, also in Puy de Dôme, near Cheix. They are in stages one range above another to the height of from 90 to 120 feet. The face of the mountain is precipitous, and is of a porous tufa full of holes. As many as sixty of these artificial caves remain; but there were at one time many more, that have been destroyed by the fall of the very friable volcanic rock. It is impossible to determine the period at which these caves were excavated; they were probably prehistoric to begin with, but were tenanted during the Middle Ages when—if not later—the tracks leading to them were cut in the tufa and stairs to connect the several stages. Then paths were bordered by walls as a protection, and fragments of the parapet remain. Probably it was during the English occupation of Guienne which extended into Auvergne, that a castle and a chapel were sculptured out of the living rock. At the same time a remarkable spiral staircase was contrived in like manner. Numerous relics of all periods—flint tools, bronze weapons, statuettes, and coins—have been found among the rubbish thrown out from these dens.
On the Borne, in Haute Loire, dug out of the volcanic rock are several cave-dwellings. The caves at Conteaux are fourteen in number, the largest is divided into three compartments; each is 45 feet deep and 11 feet wide, but the usual dimension is from 28 to 36 feet. In all, the vault is rather over 6 feet high. An opening in the roof of one gave vent to smoke.
The rock of Ceyssac is curious. Formerly a barrier of volcanic tufa stretched across the valley of the Borne; this barrier had been ejected from the volcano of La Denise. The river, arrested in its onward course, was ponded back and formed a lake that overflowed the dam in two places, leaving between them a fang of harder rock. When the water had spilled for a considerable time over the left-hand lip, and had worn this down to a depth of about 70 feet, it all at once abandoned this mode of outlet and concentrated its efforts on the right-hand portion of the dam where it found the tufa less compact. It eventually sawed its way completely through till it reached its present level, leaving the prong of rock in the middle rising precipitously out of the valley with the river gliding peacefully below it, but attached to the mountain side by the neck it had abandoned. The fang was laid hold of, burrowed into, and converted into a village of Troglodytes. In it are cave-dwellings in five superposed storeys, stables with their mangers, with rings for tying up cattle, a vast hall, that is circular, and chambers with lockers and seats graven out of the sides of the walls. There is also a subterranean chapel, with the entrance blocked by a wall that contains an early Romanesque doorway. The Polignacs seized on the spike of rock and built on the summit a castle that could be reached only by a flight of steps cut in the face of the rock. By degrees the inhabitants have migrated from their caves to the neck of land connecting the prong with the hill, and have built themselves houses thereon. They have even abandoned their monolithic church and erected in its place an unsightly modern building.
There are other cave-dwellings in the volcanic rocks of the Cevennes and Auvergne, but the above account must suffice.
I will now say something about the Troglodyte dwellings in the sandstone in Corrèze, in the neighbourhood of Brive, caves that have been inhabited from the time of the man who was contemporary with the mammoth, to this day. Some have, however, been abandoned comparatively recently.
They do not run deep into the rock; usually they face the south or south-west, and are sometimes in a series at the same level; sometimes they form several storeys, which communicated with each other by ladders that passed through holes cut in the floor of the upper storey, or else by a narrow cornice, wide enough for one to walk on. Sometimes this cornice has been abraded by the weather, and fallen away; in which case these cave-dwellings can be reached only by a ladder. There are caves in which notches cut in the rock show where beams had been inserted, and struts to maintain them, so as to form a wooden balcony for communication between the chambers, or between the dwellings of neighbours.
The doorways into these habitations are usually cut so as to admit a wooden frame to which a door might be attached; and there are deep holes bored in the rock, very much as in our old churches and towers, for the cross-piece of timber that effectually fastened the door.
The grottoes are cut square, the ceilings are always sensibly horizontal, and the walls always vertical. But where a natural hollow has been artificially deepened, there the opening is usually irregular. Moreover, in such case, the gaping mouth of the cave was in part walled up. The traces of the tool employed are everywhere observable, they indicate that the rock was cut by a pick having a triangular point. Small square holes in the sides, and long horizontal grooves indicate the position of shelves. Square hollows of considerable size served as cupboards, and oblong rectangular recesses, 18 inches above the floor, and from 3 feet 9 inches to 4 feet 6 inches high and a foot deep were benches. Bedplaces were also cut in the rock.
There are also indications of a floor having been carried across in some of the loftier caves, and there are openings in the roofs through which ascent was made to the series of chambers on the upper storey. Holes pierced in the ceiling served for the suspension of articles liable to be injured by proximity to a damp rock. A string was attached to the middle of a short stick, that was thrust into the hole. The string was then pulled and it was fast. Another plan was that of boring holes at an angle into the rock at the side. Into these holes rods were thrust and what was required to be kept dry was suspended from them.
Some of the grottoes served at once for man and beast and fowl. Not only are there chambers for the former, but also mangers for cattle, and silos to contain the fodder; and there are nooks for pigeons in an adjoining cave. In many cases there are cisterns; in one is a well. The cisterns had to be filled laboriously. They are provided with bungholes for the purpose of occasional cleaning out. The walls are scored with concave grooves slanting downwards, uniting and leading into small basins. The moisture condensing on the sides trickled into these runnels and supplied the basins with drinking water. The mangers have holes bored in the stone through which passed the halters. There are indications that the cattle were hauled up by means of a windlass.
That these were not places of refuge in times of danger, but were permanent habitations, would appear from the fact that those of Lamouroux contain mural paintings, and that in them, in addition to stables, there is a pigeonry. In one or two instances the piers that support the roof have sculptured capitals, of the twelfth or thirteenth century. In the cave-dwelling still tenanted at Siourat is cut the date, I.D. 1585, surmounted by a cross.
I have given the plan of the caves of Lamouroux in my "Deserts of Southern France."
How general rock habitations were at one time in Perigord may be judged by the prevalence of the place-name Cluseau, which always meant a cave that was dwelt in, with the opening walled up, window and door inserted; roffi is applied to any ordinary grotto, whether inhabited or not.
It would be quite impossible for me to give a list of the cave- dwellings in France still inhabited, or occupied till comparatively recent times, they are so numerous and are to be found in every department where is the chalk or the limestone, sandstone or volcanic tufa.
They are to be met with not only in those parts of France from which the above specimens have been taken and described, but also in Var, Bouches du Rhone, Aveyron, Gard, Lozère, Cantal, Charente, Vienne, &c.
There is a good deal of sameness in the appearance of those still inhabited—a walled face, a mask, with window and door, and above a chimney of brick rising out of the rock.
In England, Nottingham drew its ancient British name of Tigguocobauc (House of Caves) from its troglodyte habitations; at Mansfield in that county such caves exist, and were associated with a class of inhabitants somewhat nomadic, who obtained their living by making besoms from the heather of the adjoining forest and moorland. They established a colony on the roadside waste, and sank wells in the rock for water. Nottingham enjoyed possibly the largest brewing and malting business in the country, and those trades were nearly wholly carried on in chambers and cellars and kilns cut out of the living rock. Mr. W. Stevenson, author of "Bygone Nottinghamshire," writes to me: "Last week I was with an antiquarian friend exploring an ancient passage in the castle rock, originally made as a sally-port to the castle, but at some later period when bricks came on the scene, converted or enlarged into a set of malt offices with malt kilns complete. Their original use and locality have been lost for a century, and their recovery is just being brought about. Their situation, high over the adjoining meadow, and their presence in the very heart of the rock that rises abrupt to the height of 133 feet is truly romantic. The foot of the range of cliffs, with a south aspect, was a favoured site. Here we find communities of monks dwelling for centuries, hermits spotted about, and a great part of the town-dwellers, tanners, dyers, and other trades where water was largely required. A peculiarity of these houses was their fresh-water supply. The denizens sank holes in their living apartments with steps cut in the rock until they got down to the water level, where they had little pools of fresh water. The system was known as Scoop- wells, and must have been very ancient. Those who lived on higher levels burrowed into the sides of sunken roads, and the track-lines of ancient military defences. In deeds of transfer of property it was customary to describe tenements as below or above ground. Old writers have said that they doubted if the erections above ground would fill the space excavated below ground; and to-day, when erecting new buildings, it is necessary to drill down into the rock a yard or more to ascertain that the foundations are not to be laid above the crowns of hidden vaults, chapels, or unknown habitations."
Thoroton, in his history of Nottinghamshire, 1797, gives an illustration of rock-dwellings at Sneynton, adjoining Nottingham, but they have recently been cleared away for railway extension.
The sanitary authorities have done their best to sweep the tenants out of the Nottingham cave habitations, but in Staffordshire at Kinver there are still troglodytes.
Holy Austin's Rock is a mass of red sandstone, a spur of the bluff of Kinver Edge, that is crowned by the earthworks of what is supposed to have been a camp of Penda. But it has been broken through by wind and rain and perhaps sea, and now stands out unattached. It is honeycombed with habitations. I have been into several. They are neat and dry, and the occupants are loud in praise of them, as warm in winter and cool in summer. They are in two stages. At Drakelow also there are several, also occupied, somewhat disfigured by hideous chimneys recently erected in yellow and red bricks. One chimney is peculiarly quaint as being twisted, like a writhing worm, to accommodate itself to the shape of the overhanging rock. Another series of these habitations is now abandoned, but was occupied till a comparatively recent period, and other houses have their stables and storerooms excavated out of the rock.
Although Derbyshire abounds with caverns, some natural, some the work of miners, from Roman times, they do not appear to have been inhabited, at least since prehistoric times, except as occasional refuges. But there is a rock hermitage at Dale Abbey that has been lived in till recently, and when Mr. St. John Hope was excavating the Abbey ruins, one of his workmen informed him that he had been born and bred in it.
A writer in The Cornish Magazine gives the following account of some Cornish cave-dwellers.
"People in the habit of frequenting the shore of Whitsand Bay, between Lore and Dowderry, are familiar with the sight of a couple of women moving about among the rocks exposed at low tide. They are shell-fish gatherers, who live in a small cave a little to the west of Seaton. The illustration shows almost the extent of this cleft in the shady cliff, and any one who examines the place must wonder how two human beings can exist there. Along one side is a strip of sand, and from that the floor slopes upwards at an angle of about sixty degrees. Whether by years of practice the women have attained such perfection in the art of balancing their bodies that they go to sleep on the slanting rock without fear of falling, or whether they rest on the sand (wet when I saw it from a late storm), I was not informed; but it is evident that they know no comfort at any time. When I came suddenly upon the cave one morning in October, the smouldering ashes of a drift-wood fire, a kettle, a teapot, and two cups were dotted about just inside. Further up the floor their 'cupboards'—a couple of iron boilers—were standing, and in a niche near the fire was a pipe—short, dark, and odorous. The women who have made this their dwelling are Irish widows, 'born in Ireland and married in Ireland,' as one of them said. They are between fifty and sixty years of age, and for the last thirty years have managed to gain a subsistence by gathering limpets week after week and taking them to Plymouth. When the sea is rough they obtain few or no fish, but under favourable circumstances the two sometimes get fourteen shillings a week between them. In fine weather, when from Rame Head to Looe Island the sea lies calm and glistening under a summer sky, this smoke-blackened cave is an uninviting hovel; and in the winter, especially when there is a gale from the south-east, the women must be almost blown out of the hollow or frozen to death. On such occasions they are forced to leave the cave, and then they go to a disused pigsty near by. In talking with them while they dexterously chipped limpets from the weed-mantled rocks, I mildly remarked that workhouses were now very comfortable. Immediately the younger woman stood erect, and with something akin to pride and determination, exclaimed in a voice more than tinctured by the Irish patois, 'Never, sir, will us go to the workhouse while us can get as much as an crust in twenty-four hours.' Hitherto I had seen her only in a stooping attitude, and I was surprised to see how tall a woman she was, and what strength of character was indicated by her features. As she stood there amongst the sea-weed, with feet and legs bare, and her hair confined by a handkerchief, beating the palm of one hand with the knuckles of the other to emphasise her words, it dawned upon me that I had named the thing against which these two women had fought grimly for more than a quarter of a century."
Sir Arthur Mitchell describes some troglodytes in Scotland. "In August 1866, along with two friends, I visited the great cave at the south side of Wick Bay. It was nine at night, and getting dark when we reached it. It is situated in a cliff, and its mouth is close to the sea. Very high tides, especially with north-east winds, reach the entrance and force the occupants to seek safety in the back part of the cave, which is at a somewhat higher level than its mouth.
"We found twenty-four inmates—men, women, and children—belonging to four families, the heads of which were all there. They had retired to rest for the night a short time before our arrival, but their fires were still smouldering. They received us civilly, perhaps with more than mere civility, after a judicious distribution of pence and tobacco. To our great relief, the dogs, which were numerous and vicious, seemed to understand that we were welcome.
"The beds on which we found these people lying consisted of straw, grass and bracken, spread upon the rock or shingle, and each was supplied with one or two dirty, ragged blankets or pieces of matting. Two of the beds were near the peat-fires, which were still burning, but the others were further back in the cave where they were better sheltered.
"On the bed nearest the entrance lay a man and his wife, both absolutely naked, and two little children in the same state. On the next bed lay another couple, an infant, and one or two elder children. Then came a bed with a bundle of children, whom I did not count. A youngish man and his wife, not quite naked, and some children, occupied the fourth bed, while the fifth from the mouth of the cave was in possession of the remaining couple and two of their children, one of whom was on the spot of its birth. Far back in the cave—upstairs in the garret, as they facetiously called it—were three or four biggish boys, who were undressed, but had not lain down. One of them, moving about with a flickering light in his hand, contributed greatly to the weirdness of the scene. Beside the child spoken of, we were told of another birth in the cave, and we heard also of a recent death there, that of a little child from typhus. The Procurator-Fiscal saw this dead child lying naked on a large flat stone. Its father lay beside it in the delirium of typhus, when death paid this visit to an abode with no door to knock at.
"Both men and women, naked to their waists, sat up in their lairs and talked to us, and showed no sense of shame. One of the men summoned the candle-boy from the garret, in order that we might see better, and his wife trimmed the dying fire, and then, after lighting her pipe, proceeded to suckle her child.
"In the afternoon of the next day, with another friend, I paid a second visit to this cave, when we found eighteen inmates, most of whom were at an early supper, consisting of porridge and treacle, apparently well cooked and clean. One of the women was busy baking. She mixed the oatmeal and water in a tin dish, spread the cake out on a flat stone which served her for a table, and placing the cake against another stone, toasted it at the open fire of turf and wood. This was one of three fires, all situated about the centre of the wider part or mouth of the cave, each with a group about it of women and ragged children.
"There was no table, or chair, or stool to be seen, stones being so arranged as to serve all these purposes. There was no sort of building about the entrance of the cave to give shelter from the winds, which must often blow fiercely into it. Yet this cave is occupied both in summer and winter by a varying number of families, one or two of them being almost constant tenants.
"I believe I am correct in saying that there is no parallel illustration of modern cave life in Scotland. The nearest approach to it, perhaps, is the cave on the opposite or north side of the same bay. Both of these caves I have had frequent opportunities of visiting, and I have always found them peopled. Only occasional use is made of the other caves on the Caithness and Sutherland coasts. Of these, perhaps the cave of Ham, in Dunnet parish, is the most frequented. It is the nearness to a large town which gives to the Wick caves their steady tenants. The neighbouring population is large enough to afford room for trading, begging, and stealing—all the year round.
"The occupants of the Wick caves are the people commonly known by the name of Tinkers. They are so called chiefly because they work in tinned iron. The men cut, shape, hammer, while the women do the soldering.
"The Tinkers of the Wick caves are a mixed breed. There is no Gipsy blood in them. Some of them claim a West Island origin. Others say they are true Caithness men, and others again look for their ancestors among the Southern Scotch. They were not strongly built, nor had they a look of vigorous bodily health. Their heads and faces were usually bad in form. Broken noses and scars were a common disfigurement, and a revelation at the same time of the brutality of their lives. One girl might have been painted for a rustic beauty of the Norse type, and there was a boy among them with an excellent head. It is possible that one or both of these may yet leave their parents, from dissatisfaction with the life they lead."
These cave-dwellers of Wick were the offscourings of society, such as might be found in any town slum. "Virtue and chastity exist feebly among them, and honour and truth more feebly still; they neither read nor write; they go to no church, and have scarcely any sort of religious belief or worship. They know little or nothing of their history beyond what can be referred to personal recollection."
These, like the slum dwellers of a town, are recruited from outside, they do not constitute a race; they are the dregs of a race—persons who have dropped out of the line of march.
An amusing story was told by Mr. Grant Allen. A missionary society had captured, converted, and educated a black man. He was such a promising pupil, and looked so respectable in black clothes and a white tie, that he was advanced to the ministry, and in due course consecrated bishop, and sent out shovel-hat, lawn sleeves, rochet, and all complete, to the Gold Coast, to found a church there among the natives.
Now Bishop Black got on for a little while decorously; but one day the old wild blood in him boiled up—away went shovel-hat and boots, he peeled off his gaiters and knee-breeches, tore his lawn sleeves to rags, and dashed off a howling savage, stark naked, to take to himself a dozen wives, and to go head-hunting. What was born in the bone would come out in the flesh.
Probably there is an underlying vein of the savage in all of us, but it is kept in control by the restraints of habit accumulated through generations of civilisation. Yet there it is. A quiet, well-conducted dog will sometimes disappear for a few days and nights. It has gone off on a spree, to poach on its own account. Then, when it has had its fling, it returns, and is meek, docile, and orderly as before.
There is something of this in man. He becomes impatient of the trammels of ordinary life, its routine and matter-of-fact, and a hunger comes over him for a complete change, to shake off the bonds of conventionality, escape the drudgery of work, and live a free, wild life. Among many this takes the form of going to the Colonies or to Wild Africa or Western Canada, to shoot game, to camp out, and be a savage for a while. Among the artisan class it takes another form—the great army of tramps is recruited thus. The struggle to maintain a family, the dry uninteresting toil, drives the man into a fit of impatience, and he leaves his work, his wife and bairns, and becomes a wanderer; idle, moving on from place to place, never starving, never very comfortable—in dirt and idleness, and often in drink—but with no ties, and going here, there, and everywhere as he lists.
Not many years ago there was a man who lived by the Devil's Dyke, on the South Downs of Sussex, in a shelter under a hedge, picking up coppers from visitors to the Dyke, dressed like Ally Sloper, but living in a manner more squalid and under a worse shelter than would be endured by most savages in the darkest parts of Africa. What his history was no one knew.
It is now somewhat longer since a medical man, in an excess of impatience against civilisation, constructed for himself a hovel out of hurdles thatched with reeds, in South Devon. He lived in it, solitary, speaking to no one. Occasionally he bought a sheep and killed it, and ate it as the appetite prompted, and before it was done the meat had become putrid. At length the police interfered, the stench became intolerable in the neighbourhood, as the hovel was by the roadside. The doctor was ordered to remove, and he went no one seems to know whither.
In Charles the First's time there were men living in the caves and dens of the ravines about Lydford in South Devon. They had a king over them named Richard Rowle, and they went by the name of the Gubbins. William Browne, a poet of the time, wrote in 1644:—
"The town's enclosed with desert moors,
But where no bear nor lion roars,
And naught can live but hogs;
For all o'erturned by Noah's flood,
Of fourscore miles scarce one foot's good,
And hills are wholly bogs.
And near hereto's the Gubbins' cave;
A people that no knowledge have
Of law, of God, or men;
Whom Caesar never yet subdued,
Who've lawless liv'd; of manners rude;
All savage in their den.
By whom, if any pass that way,
He dares not the least time to stay,
For presently they howl;
Upon which signal they do muster
Their naked forces in a cluster
Led forth by Roger Rowle."
I extract the following from the Daily Express of May 10, 1910: —
"It was stated at an inquest held on Richard Manford at Market Drayton yesterday, that he was over eighty years of age, and had for the greater part of his life dwelt in a cave near Hawkstone. He was found dying by the roadside."
Elsewhere I have given an account of the North Devon savages, to whom Mr. Greenwood first drew attention. Till a very few years ago there lived on the Cornish moors a quarryman—he may be living still for aught I have heard to the contrary—-in a solitary hut piled up of granite. He would allow no one to approach, threatening visitors with a gun. His old mother lived with him. By some means the rumour got about that she was dead, but as the man said nothing, it was not till this rumour became persistent that the authorities took cognisance of it, and visited the hovel. They found that the old woman's bed had been a hole scooped out of the bank that formed part of the wall; that she had been dead some considerable time, and that her face was eaten away by rats. Daniel Gumb was a stone-cutter who lived near the Cheese Wring on the Cornish moors in the eighteenth century. He inhabited a cave composed of masses of granite. It is an artificial cell about twelve feet deep and not quite that breadth. The roof consists of one flat stone of many tons weight. On the right hand of the entrance is cut "D. Gumb," with a date 1783 (or 5). On the upper part of the covering stone channels are cut to carry off the rain. Here he dwelt for several years with his wife and children, several of whom were born and died there.
How instinctively the man of the present day will revert to primitive usages and to the ground as his natural refuge may be illustrated by a couple of instances. Mr. Hamerton, in "A Painter's Camp," says that near Sens on a height is a little pleasure-house and the remnant of a forgotten chapel dedicated to S. Bondus. This belonged of late years to a gentleman of Sens who was passionately attached to the spot. "Near my tent there is a hole in the chalk leading to the very bowels of the earth. A long passage, connecting cells far apart, winds till it arrives under the house, and it is said that the late owner intended to cut other passages and cells, but wherefore no man knows. One thing is certain, he loved the place, and spent money there for the love of it. Night and day he came up here from his little city on the plain, sat in his pleasant octagon room, and descended into his winding subterranean passages, and hermit-like visited the hollow cells." On his death he bequeathed it to the Archbishop of Sens.
Another instance is from our own country. Mr. L.P. Jacks' very remarkable book, "Mad Shepherds," gives an account of one Toller of Clun Downs, who went deranged, took to the moors and lived for a considerable time, stealing sheep and poultry. "Beyond the furthest outpost of the Perryman farm lie extensive wolds rising rapidly into desolate regions where sheep can scarcely find pasture. In this region Toller concealed himself. About two miles beyond the old quarry, on a slaty hillside, he found a deep pit; and here he built himself a hut. He made the walls out of stones of a ruined sheepfold; he roofed them with a sheet of corrugated iron, stolen from the outbuildings of a neighbouring farm, and covered the iron with sods; he built a fireplace with a flue, but no chimney; he caused water from a spring to flow into a hollow beside the door. Then he collected slates, loose stones and casks; and by heaping these against the walls of the hut, he gave the whole structure the appearance of a mound of rubbish. Human eyes rarely came within sight of the spot; but even a keen observer of casual objects would not have suspected that the mound represented any sort of human dwelling. It was a masterpiece of protective imitation.... His implements were all of flint, neatly bound in their handles with strips of hide. There was an axe for slaughter, a dagger for cutting meat, a hammer for breaking bones, a saw and scrapers of various size—the plunder of some barrow on Clun Downs." There Toller lived for several months, and there he died, his hiding-place being known to one other shepherd, and to him alone; and there after his death he was buried. "My 'usband dug his grave wi' his own hands," said the widow of this shepherd, "close beside the hut, and buried him next day. He put the axe and slings just as he told him, wi' the stones and all the bits of flint things as he found 'em in the hut."
- Reisebericht in Hauran, ii., pp. 47-48.
- Zaborowski, "Aux Caves d'Ezy," in Revue Monsuelle de l'école d'Anthropologie, Paris, 1897, i. p. 27, et seq.
- Bell (R.), "Wayside Pictures," Lond. 1850, pp. 292-3.
- Hist. des Gaulois sous Vercingetorix. Paris, 1882.
- Les monu- ments Mégalithiques de la Touraine. Tours, 1894.
- There are others, Les Grottes de Rajah, in the same mass of rock, with near them an isolated rock carved about and supposed to have been an idol.
- G. Tournier, Les Mégalithes et les Grottes des environs de S. Nectaire. Paris, 1910.
- Lalande (Ph.), Les Grottes artificielles des environs de Brive. In Mémoires de la Soc. de Spéliologie. Paris, 1897.
- The Cornish Magazine, i. (1878), pp. 394-5.
- "The Past in the Present," Edin. 1880, pp. 73-7.
- "An Old English Home," Methuen, 1898.
- "A Painter's Camp," Lond. 1862, Bk. iii. c. 1.
- "Mad Shepherds, and other Human Studies," Lond. 1910, p. 137 et seq.