entrance was originally protected by a drawbridge and portcullis; but these military works were removed in the sixteenth century, and in their place was raised, upon a perron reached by a double flight of steps, a baldachino-like porch as airily graceful and delicately florid as the body to which it is so lightly attached is majestically stern and scornful of ornament. The meeting here of those two great forces, the renaissance and feudalism, is like that of Psyche and Mars. But in expression the porch is Gothic, for although the arches are round-headed, they are surmounted by an embroidery of foliated gables and soaring pinnacles. The contrast is in feeling rather than in style.

Enter the church and observe the same contrast there. Gothic art within the protecting walls and under the strong tower puts forth its most delicate leaves and blossoms. Across the broad nave, nearly in the centre, is drawn a roodscreen a piece of stone-work that has often been compared to lace, but which gains nothing by the comparison. The screen, together with the enclosure of the choir, with which it is connected, is quite bewildering by the multiplicity of arches, gables, tabernacles, pinnacles, statues, leaves, and flowers. The tracery is flamboyant, and the work dates from the beginning of the sixteenth century. The artificers are said to have been a company of wandering masons from Strasburg.

Two vast drum-shaped piers, serving to support the tower, are exposed to view at the west end of the nave; but, for the bad effect thus produced, compensation is offered by the very curious paintings, supposed to be of the fifteenth century, with which the surfaces of these piers are covered. They represent the Last Judg. ment and the torments of the damned. Each of the seven capital sins has its compartment wherein the kind of punishment reserved for sinners under this head is set forth in a manner as quaint as are the inscriptions in old French beneath. The compartment illustrating the eternal trouble of the envious has this inscription: La peine des envieus et envieuses. Les envieus et envieuses sont en ung fleuve congelé plongés jusques au nombril et par dessus les frappe un vent moult froid et quant veulent icelluy vent éviter se plongent dedans ladite glace.

All the wall-surfaces, the vaulting in cluded, are covered with paintings. The effect clashes with northern taste, but the absence of a columnar system affords a plausible reason for relieving the same

ness of these large surfaces with color. The Gothic style of the north, holding in itself such decorative resources, gains nothing from mural paintings, but always loses something of its true character when they are added. Apart from such considerations, the wall paintings in the cathedral of Albi have accumulated such interest from time, that no reason would excuse their removal.

This unique church was mainly built at the close of the thirteenth century, together with the archbishop's palace, with which it was connected in a military sense by outworks. These have disappeared, but the fortress called a palace remains, and is still occupied by the archbishop. It is a gloomy, rectangular mass of brick, absolutely devoid of elegance, but one of the most precious legacies of the Middle Ages in France. It is not so vast as the papal palace at Avignon, but its feudal and defensive character has been better preserved, for, unlike the fortress by the Rhône, it has not been adapted to the requirements of soldiers' barracks. At each of the angles is a round tower, pierced with loopholes, and upon the intervening walls are far-descending machicolations. The building is still defended on the side of the Tarn by a wall of great height and strength, the base of which is washed by the river in time of flood. This rampart, with its row of semi-elliptical buttresses corresponding to those of the church and its pepper-box tower at one end, the fortress a little above, and the cathedral on still higher ground, but in immediate neighborhood, make up an assemblage of mediæval structures that seems as strange in this nineteenth century as some old dream rising in the midst of day-thoughts. And the rapid Tarn, an image of perpetual youth, rushes on as it ever did since the face of Europe took its present form.

As I write, other impressions come to mind of this ancient town on the edge of the great plain of Languedoc. A little garden in the outskirts became familiar to me by daily use, and I see it still with its almond and pear trees, its trellised vines, the blue stars of its borage, and the pure whiteness of its lilies. A bird seizes a noisy cicada from a sunny leaf, and as it flies away, the captive draws out one long scream of despair. Then comes the golden evening, and its light stays long upon the trailing vines, while the great lilies gleam whiter and their breath floods the air with unearthly fragrance. A murmur from across the plain is growing

louder and louder as the trees lose their | The castle and the adjacent land were edges in the dusk, for those noisy revellers given in the year 1003 by King Robert to of the midsummer night, the jocund frogs, his old preceptor, the learned Gerbert, have roused themselves, and they welcome who became known to posterity as Pope the darkness with no less joy than the Sylvester II. In the eleventh century swallows some hours later will greet the Lescure was therefore a fief of the Holy breaking dawn. See, and in the time of Simon de Montfort the inhabitants were still vassals of the pope. In the fourteenth century they were frequently at war with the people of Albi, who eventually got the upper hand. Then Sicard, the baron of Lescure, was so completely humiliated that he not only consented to pay eighty gold livres to the consuls of Albi, but went before them bareheaded to ask pardon for himself and his vassals. Already the feudal system was receiving hard blows in the south of France from the growth of the communes and the authority vested in their consuls. What is left of the feudal grandeur of Lescure? The castle was sold in the year II. of the Republic and entirely demolished, with the exception of the chapel which is now the parish church. Of the outer fortifications there remains a brick gateway with Gothic arch carrying a high machicolated tower, connected to which is a fragment of the wall. To this, old houses, half brick, half wood, still cling, like those little wasps' nests that one sees sometimes upon the sides of the rocks.

I left Albi to ascend the valley of the Tarn in the last week of June. I started when the sun was only a little above the plain; but the line of white rocks towards the north, from which Albi is supposed to take its name, had caught the rays and were already burning. The straight road, bordered with plane-trees, on which I was walking would have had no charm but for certain wayside flowers. There was a strange-looking plant with large, heartshaped leaves and curved, yellow blossoms ending in a long upper lip that puzzled me much, and it was afterwards that I found its name to be Aristolochia clematitis. It grows abundantly on the banks of the Tarn. Another plant that I now noticed for the first time was a galium with crimson flowers. I soon came to the cornfields for which the Albigeois plain is noted. Here the poppy showed its scarlet in the midst of the stalks of wheat still green, and along the borders were purple patches of that sun-loving campanula, Venus's looking-glass.

On entering the small, fourteenth-century church I found that it had been decorated for a funeral. A broad band of black drapery, upon which had been sewn at intervals death's heads and tears, cut

wall of the apse, and carried far down each side of the nave. To me, all those grinning white masks, cut out with a pair of scissors by some one whose object was evidently to make the general effect as frightful as possible, were needless torture to the mourners; but here again we are brought to recognize that taste is a matter of education.

Countrywomen passed me with baskets on their heads, all going into Albi to sell their vegetables. Those who were young wore white caps with frills, which when there is nothing on the head to keep them down, rise and fall like the crest of a cock-out of white calico, was hung against the atoo; but the old women were steadfast in their attachment to the bag-like, closefitting cap crossed with bands of black velvet and having a lace front that covers most of the forehead. When upon this coif is placed a great straw hat with drooping brim we have all that remains now of an Albigeois costume. As these women passed me I looked into their baskets. Some carried strawberries, some cherries, others mushrooms (boleti), or broad beans. The last-named vegetable is much cultivated throughout this region, where it is largely used for making soup. When very young the beans are frequently eaten raw with salt. Almost every taste is a matter of education.

The heat of the day had commenced when I reached the village of Lescure. This place (Castrum scuria) is of very ancient origin. Looking at it now and its agricultural population numbering little more than a thousand, it is difficult to realize its importance in the Middle Ages.

More interesting than anything else in this church is the Romanesque holy-water stoop, with heads and crosses carved upon it, and possibly belonging to the original chapel of the castle. The chief archæological treasure, however, of Lescure is a church on a little hill above the village and overlooking the Tarn. It is dedicated to St. Michael, in accordance with the medieval custom of considering the highest ground most appropriate to the veneration of the archangel. It is Romanesque of the eleventh century, and belonged to a priory of which no other trace is left. The building stands in the midst of an

abandoned cemetery, and at the time of my visit the tall June grasses, the poppies and white campions hid every mound and almost every wooden cross. Over the gateway carved in the stone is the following quaint inscription, the spelling being similar to that frequently used in the sixteenth century:

Sur la terre autrefois nous fûmes comme vous. Mortels pensés y bien et priés Dieu pour nous. Beneath these lines are a skull and cross-bones with a tear on each side. Facing the forgotten graves, upon this spot removed from all habitations, is the most beautiful Romanesque doorway of the Albigeois. The round-headed arch widening outwards, its numerous archivolts and mouldings, the slender columns of the deeply recessed jambs, the storied capitals with their rudely proportioned but expressive little figures, and the row of uncouth bracket-heads over the crowning archivolt, represent the best art of the eleventh century. They show that Romanesque architecture and sculpture had already reached their perfect expression in Languedoc. The figures in the capitals tell the story of Adam and Eve, Abraham and Isaac, and of fiends busily engaged in tormenting mortals who must have been in their clutches now eight hundred years. The nave has two aisles, and massive piers with engaged columns support the transverse and lateral arches. The columns have very large capitals, displaying human figures, some of which are extraordinarily fantastic, and instinct with a wild imagination still running riot in stone. What has become of the mind, or the psychic force as some prefer to term it, that bred these thoughts when southern Gaul was struggling to develop a new Roman art, by the aid of such traditions and models as the Visigoth, the Frank, and the Arab had not destroyed in the country, and such ideas as were brought along the Mediterranean from Byzantium? To this fanciful question which the influence of Romanesque sculpture may excuse, there comes no answer from the deep.

Lastly, I came to the apse, that part of a Romanesque church in which the artist seizes the purely religious ideal, or allows it to escape him. Here was the serenity, here the quietude of the early Christian purpose and hope. Perfect simplicity and perfect eloquence! Nothing more is to be said, except that there were stone benches against the wall and a piscinadetails interesting to the archæologist.

Then I walked round the little church, knee-deep in the long grave-grass, and noted the broad pilaster-strips of the apse, the stone eaves ornamented with billets, the bracket or corbel-heads just beneath, fantastic, enigmatic, and not two alike.

Leaving this spot, where there was so much temptation to linger, I began to cross a highly cultivated plain towards the village of Arthez, where the Tarn issues from the deep gorges which for many a league give it all the character of a mountain river. I thought from the appearance of the land that everybody who lived upon it must be prosperous and happy, but a peasant whom I met was of another way of thinking. He said:

"By working from three o'clock in the morning until dark, one can just manage to earn one's bread."

They certainly do work exceedingly hard these peasant - proprietors, never counting their hours like the town workmen, but wishing that the day were longer, and if they can contrive to save anything in these days it is only by constant selfdenial. A man's labor upon his land today will only support him, taking the bad years with the good, on the condition that he lives a life of primitive simplicity. Even then the problem of existence is often a terribly hard one to solve. In the south of France the blame is almost everywhere laid to the destruction of the vines by the phylloxera, but here in the plain of Albi the land is quite as suitable for corn as it is for grape growing, which is far from being the case elsewhere; nevertheless, the peasants cry out with one voice against the bad times. They have to contend with two great scourges - hail that is so often brought by the thunderstorms in summer, and which the proximity of the Pyrenees may account for, and the south-east wind — le vent d'autan that comes across from Africa, and scorches up the crops in a most mysterious manner. But for this plague the yield of fruit would be enormous. On the other hand, the region is blessed with lavish sunshine from early spring until November, and a half-maritime climate, explained by the neighborhood of the ocean- not the Mediterranean - renders long periods of drought, such as occur in Provence and lower Languedoc, rare. In the valleys the soil is extremely fertile, and, favored by moisture and warmth, its productive power is extraordinary. Four crops of lucern are taken from the same land in the course of a season. Unfortunately, these valleys being mere gorges

cracks in the plain, with precipitous rocky | quite forbidding to those who are not pre

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On reaching Arthez the character of the country changed suddenly and completely. Here the plain with its tertiary deposits ended, and in its stead commenced the long series of schistous rocks wildly heaped up and twisted out of their strati fication, by which the Tarn is hemmed in for seventy miles as the crow flies, and nearly twice that distance the windings of the gorge being reckoned. When the calcareous region of the Gévaudan is reached, the schist, slate, and gneiss disappear. On descending to the level of the river at Arthez, I saw before me one of the grandest cascades in France - the Saut de Sabo.

It is not so much the distance that the river falls in its rapid succession of wild leaps towards the plain, as the singularly chaotic and savage scene of dark rocks and raging waters, together with the length to which it is stretched out, that is so impressive. The mass of water, the multitude of cascades, and the wild forms of the rocks compose a scene that would be truly sublime if one could behold it in the midst of an unconquered solitude, but the hideous, sooty buildings of a vast iron foundry on one bank of the river are there to spoil the charm.

I stayed in the village of Arthez for food and rest, but not long enough for the midday heat to pass. When I set forth again on my journey the air was like the breath of a furnace; but as the slopes were well wooded with chestnuts there was some shelter from the rays of the sun. There were a few patches of vineyard, the leaves showing the ugly stains of sulphate of copper with which they had been splashed as a precaution against mildew, which in so many districts has followed in the wake of the phylloxera and hastened the destruction of the old vines. The Albigeois has ceased to be a wine-producing region, and judging from present signs it will be long in becoming one again.

The valley deepening and narrowing became a gorge, the beginning of that long series of fissures in the metamorphic and secondary rocks which, crossing an extensive tract of Languedoc and Guienne, leads the traveller up to the Cevennes Mountains, through scenery as wild and beautiful as any that can be found in France, and perhaps in Europe. But the difficulties of travelling by the Tarn from Arthez upwards are great, and, indeed,

pared to endure petty hardships in their search for the picturesque. Between Albi and St. Affrique, a distance that cannot be easily traversed on foot in less than four days, railways are not to be thought of, and the line of route taken by the diligence leaves the Tarn far to the north. In the valley the roads often dwindle away to mere paths or mule tracks, or they are so rocky that riding either upon or behind a horse over such an uneven surface, with the prospect of being thrown into the Tarn in the event of a slip, is unpleasant work. Those who are unwilling to walk or unable to bear much fatigue should not attempt to follow this river through its gorges. All the difficulties have not yet been stated. Along the banks of the stream, and for several miles on either side of it, there are very few villages, and the accommodation in the auberges is about as rough as it can be. The people generally are exceedingly uncouth, and between Arthez and Millau, where a tourist is probably the rarest of all birds of passage, the stranger must not expect to meet with a reception invariably cordial. Even a Frenchman who appears for the first time in one of their isolated villages, and who cannot speak the Languedocian dialect, is looked upon almost as a foreigner, and is treated with suspicion by the inhabitants. This matter of language is in itself no slight difficulty. French is so little known that in many villages the clergy are compelled to preach in patois to make themselves understood.

This region I had now fairly entered. The road had gone somewhere up the hills, and I was walking beside the river upon sand glittering with particles of mica. This sand the Tarn leaves all along its banks. It is one of the most uncertain and treacherous of streams. In a few hours its water will rise with amazing rapidity and spread consternation in a district where not a drop of rain has fallen. Warm winds from the south and southwest striking against the cold mountains in the Lozère have been condensed and the water has flowed down in torrents towards the plain. The river is as clear as crystal now, and the many-colored pebbles of its bed reflect the light, but a thunderstorm in the higher country may change it suddenly to the color of red earth.

The path led me into a steep forest, where I lost sight of the Tarn. The soil was too rocky for the trees - oaks and chestnuts chiefly to grow very tall; consequently the underwood, although dense,

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was chequered all through with sunshine. | vivial of all drinks, although it makes men Heather and bracken, holly and box made more quarrelsome than any other. In a wilderness that spread over all the visi- these poor riverside villages, however, ble world, for the opposite side of the where a mere ribbon of land is capable of gorge was exactly similar. Shining in the cultivation, and which, although exceedsun amidst the flowering heather or glow-ingly fertile, is constantly liable to be ing in majestic purple grandeur in the flooded by the uncertain Tarn, men have shade of shrubs stood many a foxglove, so little money in their pockets that water and almost as frequently seen was its rel- is their habitual drink, and when they ative, digitalis lutea, whose flowers are depart from this rule, they make a little much smaller and of a pale yellow. Now dissipation go a very long way. and again a little rill went whispering downward through the woods under plumes of forget-me-nots in a deep channel that it had cut by working age after age. Reaching at length a spot where I could look down into the bottom of the fissure, I perceived a small stream that was certainly not the Tarn. I had been ascending one of the lateral gorges of the valley and had left the river somewhere to the north. My aim was now to strike it again in the higher country, and so I kept on my way. But the path vanished and the forest became so dense that I was bound to realize that I was in difficulties. I resolved to try the bank of the stream, and reached it after some unpleasant experience of rocks, brambles, and holly. Here, however, was a path which I followed nearly to the head of the gorge and then climbed to the plateau. There the land was cultivated, and the musical note of a cock turkey that hailed my coming from afar as he swaggered in front of his harem on the march, led me to a spot where a man was moving, and he told me where I should find the Tarn, which he, like all other people in the country, pronounced Tar.

Evening was coming on when I had crossed this plateau, and I saw far below me the village of Marsal on the banks of the shining Tarn. The river here made one of those bold curves which add so much to its beauty. The little village looked so peaceful and charming that I decided to seek its hospitality for that night.

There was but one inn at Marsal that undertook to lodge the stranger, and very seldom was any claim of the sort made upon it. The peasant family who lived in it looked to their bit of land and their two or three cows to keep them, not the auberge. The bottles of liquor on the shelf were rarely taken down, except on Sundays, when villagers might saunter in, to gossip and smoke over coffee and eau de vie, or the glass of absinth, which, since the failure of the vines in the south of France, has become there the most con

I found this single auberge closed, and all the family in an adjoining field around a wagon already piled with hay, to which a couple of cows were harnessed. My appearance there brought the pitchforks suddenly to a rest. If I had been shot up from below like a stage-devil, these people could not have stared at me with greater amazement and a more frank expression of distrust. First in patois, and then, seeing that I was at a loss, in scarcely intelligible French, they asked me what my trade was, and what object I had in coming to Marsal. I tried to explain that I was not a mischievous person, that I was travelling merely to look at their beautiful rocks and gorges, but I failed completely to bring a hospitable expression into their faces. An old man of the party was the worst to deal with. He put the greater number of questions and understood the least French, and all the while there was a most provokingly keen, suspicious glitter in his little grey eyes. Presently he beckoned me, and led the way, as I thought, to the inn; but such was not his intention. He stopped at the door of the Communal School, where the schoolmaster was already waiting for me, for he had evidently been warned of the presence of a doubtfullooking stranger, who had come to the village on foot with a pack on his back, and who, being dressed a trifle better than the ordinary tramp, was probably the more dangerous for this reason. Like most of the village schoolmasters in France, this gentleman was also secretary of the mairie, a function highly stimulating to the sense of self-importance, and no wonder, considering that the person who fills it frequently supplies the mayor, who may scarcely be able to sign his name to official documents, with such intelligence as he may need for his public duties.

This schoolmaster was affable and pleasant, but as a crowd quickly collected to see what would happen, he was not going to let a good opportunity slip of showing how indispensable he was to the safety of the village. He said that personally he was quite satisfied with my explanations,

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