“And midst the thyme
They drink from golden bowl
And circle round in goblin farandole.”
[Illustration: AT LES BAUX.
_By E. M. Synge._]
Music in a dead city!
We stopped abruptly. Out of the deepening stillness there grew slowly,
solemnly, the muffled, mournful trembling of an organ issuing from the
closed doors of the church on the platform. The sound swelled, ebbed,
fell into low troubled mutterings, then swelled again; never was any
strain more plaintive, solitary shadowed: all in subdued undertone, but
Surely a human soul despairing and unable to find expression!
In this wild scene it was unearthly in its intensity of mournfulness.
Looking back we saw the figure of a nun crossing the space from the house
of the Porcelets to enter the church, and as the doors opened, the sound
poured out in fuller volume, but always in that strange, tense undertone.
The city seemed to be steeped in melancholy, as if a grey mist of grief
had fallen upon it.
* * * * *
We commenced our homeward journey on foot, making a little circuit to
visit the “Pavillon de la Reine Jeanne” in the gorge below, leaving our
vehicle to follow.
La Reine Jeanne was the famous and beautiful Queen Joan of Naples, heiress
of Provence, whose father on his death-bed counselled her to hand the
country over to the Pope, then at Avignon. He in his turn bestowed it
on the Count of Anjou, and thus Provence came to belong to that powerful
The Queen is said to have often visited Les Baux, and to have held Courts
of Love and various revelries in the now weed-grown enclosure where the
Pavilion sadly stands in the corner of what was once a garden; a fine,
highly-bred little piece of architecture well fitted for its purpose.
On our way to rejoin our trap we were overtaken by two wayfarers: a
young man and woman somewhat poorly clad and carrying bundles. They were
looking about them intelligently as if interested in the scene.
The man’s bundle was evidently a musical instrument, and as they came
nearer we heard snatches of song, sometimes gay, sometimes sad. The man
pointed to Les Baux as if astonished at its extraordinary aspect, and the
woman stood looking up at it curiously. Sometimes they left the road to
explore some of the clefts and rock passages, and among the bare walls
of limestone and the narrow galleries, their songs–with which they had
doubtless delighted Marseilles audiences–reverberated most fantastically.
Evidently they were strolling minstrels tramping the country, and were
now probably on their way to St. Remy, Tarascon, and Beaucaire, and on
to Avignon and the cities of Languedoc; modern troubadours following
the ancient calling in the ancient country.
But ah, if Raimbaut de Vacqueiras had seen his successors!
It was a touching little scene: the two footsore troubadours–jongleurs,
perhaps, one ought to call them–passing wondering but unconscious below
the city where once their forefathers of the craft were welcomed and
* * * * *
If the passes of the Alpilles were as desolate as a moon landscape in the
full blaze of a Provençal midday, what were they in the grey of evening?
The human spirit is not fashioned to endure the aspect of these abysmal
regions of nature.
Masses of rock rising out of unknown deeps of shadow take on the aspect
of some lawless architecture, the handiwork of an alien race: fantastic
earth-born peoples raising mad palaces half sublime, half grotesque:–
“great plinths, majestic porticoes.”
colonnades whose capitals are sculptured by the wind spirits: strange
half-finished cathedrals with pinnacles and fretwork, flocks of gargoyles
wrought by goblin sculptors.
There was one sublime insane cathedral looming crazily through the dusk,
with an encumberment of caricatures of saints and angels, grinning faces,
half defined, half suggested–it seemed like some great Temple of Evil.
From the Gorge of Hell, high up among the recesses of the hills, opens
the Witch’s Grotto amidst “tortured shapes which rise up, sink down,
stretch into great entablatures and gardens in the air.”
This is the dreaded domain of Tavèn, the famous sorceress of the
Alpilles. She plays an important part in Mistral’s epic poem _Mireille_
(or _Mirèio_, in the original Provençal).
To this maiden and her lover Vincent, who visited her cavern which
stretches for long distances underground, Tavèn gives extraordinary
experiences. They have come to her for aid in their love affair which
Mireille’s father, a wealthy farmer on the outskirts of the Crau,
violently opposes. Vincent has been treacherously wounded by his rival,
an owner of cattle on the Camargue; a brutal but wealthy suitor favoured
by the father.
The sorceress is found at the bottom of the grotto amid a “cloud of
dreams,” with a sprig of broom-grass in her hand, which is called the
devil’s wheat. Above her head is a raven perched on a beam, and beside
him a milk-white hen; also (for magical reasons) a sieve tied to the wall.
She leaps down a deep crevice, and her clients follow her. She directs
them to gird round their brows the leaves of the mandrake, the gruesome
plant of human contours that shrieks aloud when its roots are torn out
of the ground.
Tavèn tells them that it is the blest plant of her master-in-magic
Nostradamus. The astrologer and magician lived at St. Remy, and so was
within easy reach of his famous pupil.
Then the witch urges further descent into the depths, crying,
“Children, all regions exquisite and bright
Are but through woeful purgatory neared”–
a saying suggesting an idea of philosophic significance.
Indeed, the whole fantastic story seems to have more meaning in it than
is ostensibly claimed, and contains many hints of the deeper reaches of
[Illustration: LES BAUX FROM LEVEL OF THE TOWN.
_By E. M. Synge._]
As Tavèn and her charges penetrate further into these wilds, a blast of
wind and a “pack of elves shriek through the crypt,” which is full of
Tavèn warns her scared visitors to keep on their “charmed crowns,”
and to be undismayed by the huge apparition that they see in the dusk:
la Lavandière, “whose throne is on Ventoux,” where she makes rain and
The whole dark factory of Evil is shown to the adventurers. They are told
how, on the last three days of February and the first three of March,
the tombs all open and the tapers kindle, and
“the drowsy dead
In ghastly order bend their knees to pray.”
A phantom priest performs mass and the church bells ring themselves of
their own accord.
But one can hear the bells of Les Baux ringing thus on wild March days
In the Grotto, Tavèn looses the “swarms of ill,” and they rush forth
and hold a sort of Carnival, with wizards from Varigoule, in the Luberon
range, and ghouls from Fanfarigoule on the Crau.
And in the midst of this appalling Desert of Stones, where the wild
thyme makes here and there a fragrant carpet, this mad company dances
It was with a pleasant human sense of comfort and cheer that we found
ourselves once more driving through the streets of St. Remy. Quieter
now than ever these little streets in the dusk, so that we could almost
hear the falling of the great yellow leaves of the plane-trees, softly,
occasionally, in the avenues. Quite from the other end of the tiny town we
could catch the rumble of the homing omnibus, bringing its last freight
of passengers from the station, or more likely returning empty, to earn
its rest in the outhouse behind the hotel–happy, simple omnibus, without
a care in the world!
We were thankful to wash off the dust of the day, and with it half
our fatigue, and to hasten down to the _salle à manger_, pleasantly
tired with the long hours in the open air, the long stream of strong
impressions. And how hungry we were! Impressions seem to need a large
amount of sustenance.
I think the waiter must be accustomed to famished visitors returning
from Les Baux, for he simply flew as we appeared, dashed the menu down
on the table, murmuring, “Tout de suite, Mesdames,” and was scurrying
back the next minute with two small tureens of smoking soup. Never did
soup taste so good or so comforting!
Life indeed has its contrasts! We thought of Les Baux among the abysses
of the Alpilles under the shroud of night, with a light or two from the
Chevelure d’Or and the few neighbouring houses twinkling mysteriously
on the height, and perhaps that strange music stealing into the darkness
of the valley–while out on the Crau–
“Si Mesdames désirent du vin blanc ou du vin rouge?”
Thus sharply roused, we make a random choice, (Barbara accused me of
having replied “du Crau, s’il vous plait,”) and the waiter placed on
the table a bottle of good Provençal wine which tasted like distilled
sunshine, which indeed it was, just tempered with a breeze from Mont
After the meal we were conducted once more to the parlour, where the
same little party was collected, all interested to hear what we thought
of Les Baux.
We expressed ourselves with warmth.
“Oui c’est belle,” observed Madame, giving a hitch to her work to bring
it more under her fingers, “Voilà une petite excursion ex-cess-ive-ment
A desire to laugh became insistent, not at Madame, but at the whole
situation. But that was out of the question. Had I been allowed to cry
it would have done almost as well, but that would have created still
more consternation, so I played up to Madame and said–
“En effet, c’est une excursion la plus charmante que nous avons fait en
Provence,” and happily no one seemed to see how ridiculous the observation
We returned to the subject of St. Remy, of which Madame knew a good
deal–learnt, as she told us, from some esteemed and instructive American
Of Nostradamus and the troubadours and the Counts of Provence her
information was not exhaustive; though she had some anecdotes and a
personal feeling about the Good King René who has made himself loved and
remembered by his countrymen for four centuries by his goodness and the
quality that we well call charm–recognising in it an element of natural
St. Remy must have been a bright little city in the days of the Counts;
the scene of many gay and knightly doings.
And there were doings neither gay nor knightly in one grim old house
covered with demoniac gargoyles where Nostradamus worked through the
clear Provençal nights.
Doubtless it was in this narrow ancient street in that gloomy, haunted
house that Tavèn the witch came to learn the mysteries of the art of
magic. Perhaps it was here that the philosopher on his side learnt many
things from his pupil, as wise teachers are apt to do.
One can but wonder how far the legend was founded on fact and what actual
part the Enchantress of the Alpilles played in the life of the great
Barbara, who had a good healthy appetite for romance, hoped it was a
love affair–which was startling indeed!
Nostradamus in love seemed a most profane idea, and it took one some
time to recover from the suggestion. And it was almost as much a comedown
for Tavèn. It removed so much of her ghoulishness.
We consulted our hostess. Madame knitted her brows. She had heard about
“ce Monsieur là,” from the instructive Americans who came to St. Remy
for a visit of three days and stayed three years–an extravagant American
sort of thing to do!
“Mais jamais avait on remarqué que Monsieur Nostradamus était amoureux
de la sorcière des Alpilles; jamais, jamais!”
[Illustration: OLD HOUSE, ST. REMY.
_By E. M. Synge._]
It sounded much more feasible in French and I began almost to tolerate
the preposterous theory.
“Néanmoins cela se peut,” added Madame, who knew something of life and
that even magicians were human.
We were shown various relics and gifts of the American clients and
listened to many anecdotes, all testifying to a most happy and unusual
relationship, savouring of olden days, between the hosts and guests of
an inn. But as a matter of fact, the American, the most modern of all
men, is curiously apt to bring about something of old-time relationships,
something of the cordiality and freedom, the simple humanness that very
old civilisations may tend to weaken.
From talking of her clients, our hostess came to talking of their friends
among the Félibres and of Mistral’s _Mireille_, the modern epic of
Provence. It breathes the very spirit of the country.
It is the Homeric character of the life that has inspired the poet; he
saw in it a grandeur that we have been taught to imagine belongs only
to the times of the ancients; probably because those times have been
shown to us through the eyes of genius. But the Provence of to-day has
also its seer who reveals its qualities of grandeur: the poet of Maillane.
After our visit to Les Baux we lost no time in reading the translation
of the cantos in _Mireille_ telling of the descent into the Witch’s
Grotto. Vincent and Mireille are there introduced to the Thirteenth
Cavern, where they find domesticated on the hearth seven black cats and
two dragons quietly emitting jets of blue flame without the slightest
signs of arrogance, but simply as part of the day’s work. Tavèn makes
a brew in her cauldron and heals the wound which Vincent’s rival had
inflicted. Then they return to their homes, solaced for the time. But
tragedy awaits them. The father’s opposition is brought to a head when
Vincent formally proposes for Mireille, and her parents are so angry and
so resolved to marry her to the wealthy cattle-owner of the Camargue,
that one dark night she runs away from her home, directing her steps to
the church of the Saintes Maries, to seek aid by her prayers. We find
her in the last canto a desolate, fragile figure crossing the Crau. She
arrives at last in the island of the Camargue, and reaches, dying, the
white church where the three holy women float down through the roof in
answer to her prayers.
“We are Baux’ guardian saints,” they cry, bidding her take comfort.
And they go on to tell her that she would not fear death if she knew how
small her little world appears from their high dwellings: “how ripening
hopes are washed away with tears,” while hatred and cruelty breed sorrow
where love should shed peace over all the world.
However, before they understood all these things, they had, like Mireille,
to drain bitter cups to the dregs. They tell her of their hopeless
wanderings; how they were delivered over to the mercy of the waves
and landed in Provence where their task was to convert the people to
Christianity; how St. Martha was impelled to go to Tarascon to lure the
Tarasque from its wicked ways; and how she afterwards went to Avignon,
“striking the rock with her virginal discourse,” and willing the waves
of faith to pour from it, whence long afterwards “Good Gregory drank,
and Holy Clement filled his cup with life.”
Just at the last, when Mireille is dying under the care of the Saints,
her distracted father and Vincent, broken-hearted, arrive, but only just
in time to see her pass peacefully away into the silence.
From the windows of our rooms one can see above the trees the fantastic
summits of the Alpilles. They are clear against a “jewel-enamelled sky.”
The roses are exhaling their fragrance in the dark garden just below;
now and then the omnibus horses peacefully move in their stalls, perhaps
going over again in their dreams the happy homeward journey after the
It is not yet late, but St. Remy has gone to its rest; only the stars
are awake and watching.
The sweet night air comes in quietly at the window which has been unbolted
and thrown open–not without giant efforts, for French precautions
against the dangerous element are thorough and hard to circumvent.
The whole scene–black trees, mountains, stars–shows through a mist
of oncoming sleep and has the appearance of some unearthly vision. The
whole riddle of the universe seems to be out there in the darkness; the
answer is there too, just behind the veil; only just behind—-
One–two–three–four—-eleven o’clock! The big church in the Market
Place strikes the hour with that particularly solemn note of a clock
striking in a sleeping town.
“Hour for rest, hour for rest,” it seems to admonish the wakeful few.
Over all things Night and Peace spread wide their wings—-
“Pas de chantar m’es pres talens,
Farai un vers don sui dolens,
Non serai mais obediens
De Peigtau ni de Lemozi.
Ieu m’en anarai en eyssilh;
Laissarai en guerra mon filh,
E gran paor et en parilh;
E faran li mal siey vozi.”
(“A desire to sing has seized me,
And I shall sing of that which afflicts me;
I shall no longer be obeyed
By either Poitou or Limousin.
I shall depart into exile;
I shall leave my son behind me in war,
In great fear and peril,
At the mercy of those who wish him ill.”)
By WILLIAM IX. COUNT OF POICTIERS
(THE “FIRST TROUBADOUR”). Born 1071.
There is a vast work on Provence by le Sieur Honoré de Bouche, Docteur
en Theologie, A.P.D.S.I., printed at Aix, by Charles David, “printer
to the King, the clergy and the town,” MDCLXIV. It is bound in ancient
brown leather;–two majestic volumes which have to be propped up against
something substantial or laid upon a family dining-table in order to
be read in any sort of security. Less serious treatment, such as an
attempt to balance the tomes on the knee between the arms of a chair,
however solid, always results in a temporary eclipse of the student. The
difficulties of acquiring erudition in this case are physical as well
as intellectual. But the dangers of the road are worth braving even if
one does come off with an aching head and some few marks of conflict.
The author, as beseems a doctor in theology, begins the history of his
country from the creation of the world, and goes steadily on with a really
terrible staying power till the reign of Louis XIV., where he is forced
to stop, having arrived at his own times. The height of the volumes is
such that the reader has the sensation (and almost the necessity) of
alternately stretching and collapsing like a telescope in order to read a
page from top to bottom; and this movement seems to emphasise the sense
given by the narrative of journeying through the centuries in company
with the whole brilliant procession of Counts and Kings, rulers and high
sovereigns of Provence.
Roman governors, Pagan Emperors, Christian Emperors, Burgundian and
Visigoth Kings, Ostogoths and Franks, Merovingians, Carlovingians, Kings
of Arles and Burgundy, Kings of Arles “high sovereigns”; Emperors of
the Holy Roman Empire; Counts Proprietary and Hereditary of Arles and
Provence, Counts of Anjou of the 1st Race of the House of France, Counts
of Anjou of the 2nd Race, in the direct line of St. Louis; and finally,
from Louis XI. onwards–Kings of France: the long pageant streams by in
ordered magnificence, picturesque in setting, rich in colour and attire,
with splendid names and sad, splendid destinies.
The Sieur de Bouche heads his first book in the following full-blooded
“Sous ses premiers et plus anciens maitres depuis la création
du monde jusqu’a á ce qu’elle ait este soumise à la domination
des Romains durant l’espace de 3,927 ans.”
This is a mere preliminary, a slight introduction to the body of the work.
The next Book treats of the country under the Romans during 591 years,
from 125 B.C. to 466 A.D. This period is divided into three sections.
I. Provence under the Republic.
II. Provence under the Pagan Emperors.
III. Provence under the Christian Emperors
until the arrival of the Burgundians and Visigoths.
Then comes Provence under the first barbarian kings, Burgundian and
The period of the Frankish kings is again divided into Sections (and let
no one who has not tackled le Sieur Honoré think lightly of a Section!)
[Illustration: THE CHURCH DOOR, SAINTES MARIES.
_By Joseph Pennell._]
The first Section gives 127 years of Carlovingians till 879, when we
enter upon the important era of the Kings of Arles and Burgundy, and
the beginning of Provence as an independent territory.
Here again we have three Sections:–
Kings of Arles of the 1st Race,
Kings of Arles of the 2nd Race,
Kings of Arles of the 3rd Race,
the latter also being Kings of Burgundy.
Book III. treats of the “Kings of Arles (without property in Provence
Section I.–Kings of Arles, high sovereigns, relatives, and heirs
testamentary of Rudolph the last King of Arles and Burgundy.
Section II.–Kings of Arles calling themselves high Sovereigns “en
qualité d’Empereurs estimant que ce royaume a esté uny a l’Empire.”
There were 254 years of this dispensation, and among these rulers occur
the names of the Emperor Lothair II., Frederick Barbarossa, and so forth.
Then comes the division into “Fiefs of the Kingdom of Arles.”
1st Fief. The County of Arles from the Durance to the sea.
2nd Fief. The County of Forcalquier.
3rd Fief. The County of Venaison or of Avignon.
4th Fief. The County of Marseilles.
5th Fief. The Principality of Orange.
6th Fief. “Le Dauphiné.”
7th Fief. The Duchy of Savoie.
8th Fief. The Sovereign Principality of Meurgues (Monaco), the
County of Grignan, the Barony of Les Baux, of Castellane, &c.
All this wide territory constituted the ancient Kingdom of Arles.
Book IV. treats of the Counts Proprietary and Hereditary from 910
until Provence is reunited to the Crown of France (1481). To these
the Sieur de Bouche devotes many of his formidable Sections. There are
long lines of Bozons and Rothbolds of the 1st Race, and of Raimonds and
Raimond Berengers Counts of Catalonia and of Barcellona and Kings of
Aragon–beings of a most strange personal appearance if one may judge
by the quaint old engravings which head each of the Sieur’s Books of
Chapters. They stare out of their medallions with a grotesque expression
of royal blankness combined with a dull, obscure form of indignation
which speaks ill for the “agréments” of the post of ruler of Provence in
the later Middle Ages. The complication of names and races and titles is
almost hopeless at this period. Even our dauntless author says wearily,
“nous sortons d’un lieu fort nuageux pour entrer dans un plus tenebreux.”
There are three different genealogies of the Counts of the 1st Race,
and very little seems to be known of the Counts themselves with the
exception of William I.
“It was by him and his valliance that this faithless and barbarous nation
of Saracens was driven out who for nearly 100 years occupied the famous
fortress of Fraxinet la Garde, whence they issued to make plundering
expeditions by sea and land; their fort of Fraxinet and all Provence
was entirely delivered from this impious and cruel race of robbers….”
Travellers on the Riviera may see the little village of Garde Freinet–as
the ancient hornet’s nest is now called–peacefully dreaming among the
mountains of the Moors, that magnificent range whose name records for
ever the long domination of those irrepressible brigands.
The inhabitants to this day are of obvious Saracen type and the grey
hill-top villages of this region are living relics of that mysterious
As acknowledgment for his great services to his country William I. was
presented by the Seigneur Grimaldi of Monaco with the lands contiguous
to the fief of St. Tropez.
So uncertain seem to be the records of the dynasties of Provence that the
author has to prove the existence of one of the Counts (Count Bertrand)
by means of a document in which he “restores, restitutes, and gives” the
Church of Notre Dame des Rats (qui est l’Eglise des Trois Maries en la
Camargue) “to the Church of Saint Etienne and Saint Trophime of Arles.”
The Catalan Counts of Provence: that is the 2nd Race of Proprietary
Counts who were also Counts of Catalonia and Barcelona, give the same
difficulty to their historians, who do not agree among themselves. They
seem to have become confused by the multiplicity of the names of Raimond
Berenger and of Ildefons and Alphonse–“qu’a moins d’avoir le filet
d’Ariadne il est impossible de sortir de ce Labyrinthe.”
Among these confusing Counts, Raimond Berenger I. stands out for his
great virtues; and particularly, says the theologian, “for his great
piety towards the Catholic religion and for the great pains he took for
the destruction and conversion of the Moors to the Christian faith”:
“destruction and conversion” being apparently regarded as part of the
same pious process.
He is followed by a procession of Raimond Berengers and Berenger Raimonds
under whose reign were waged wars with the House of Les Baux alternating
with conventions and agreements: long documents in Latin which the Counts
of Provence and the Princes of Les Baux would meet in pomp to sign at
Arles or at Tarascon.
About this date, late in the twelfth century, was held the great Council
at Albi which condemned the Albigenses, so called from that incident.
The placing of the remains of St. Martha in a beautiful church at Tarascon
where these had been hidden from the Saracens and the Goths and Vandals,
is noted as an important event during the period.
Wars against the Vaudois and Albigenses are spoken of in the reign of
Raimond Berenger V., and it is curious to see the account of these
hideous persecutions given by a doctor of the Church. The Pope, one
would suppose, had been an angel of patience, wearied out at last by
the aggressions and crimes of a set of unmanageable criminals.
“Voyant que le douceur exasperait le mal il se resolut de venir aux
remèdes violants et extremes;” a resolution which his Holiness thoroughly
In all these vast volumes there is not one word of the unspeakable deeds
of the Church during those awful wars.
The Counts of Provence were ardently orthodox and fought against Raimond,
Count of Toulouse, the sole friend of the Albigenses (as we have already
The troubles of this noble and tolerant race came to an end on the
accession of St. Louis by the absorption of the County of Toulouse in
the Crown of France, the brother of the king marrying the daughter of the
Count, and as they had no children, the lands of the heiress of Toulouse
(by compact) were ceded to the throne. Soon after this, Provence also
came under the government of the House of France, for the brother of St.
Louis, Charles, Count of Anjou, married Beatrice of Provence, and their
union inaugurated the reign of the first race of Angevins in Provence.
The ambition of these two brought about the fierce dramatic struggle of
Conrad and Manfred and Conradin and the Sicilian Vespers, which ended
by making Charles of Anjou and Provence also King of Naples and Sicily.
It interests lovers of Provence to know that only one Frenchman escaped
the massacre of the Sicilian Vespers, a Provençal of the great name of
Porcelet (whose sombre old house still stands intact at Les Baux) and he
was spared because of the great benevolence and nobility of his character.
One of the great events in the history of the country is the transference
of the Papal Court to Avignon. Philip le Bel successfully intrigued to
place on the Papal throne as Clement V. a Frenchman living in France: Le
Gotto, Archbishop of Bordeaux. Having quarrelled with Boniface VIII.,
Philip desired to have the management of the Papacy in his own hands.
Avignon goes back to the Stone Age, so its claims to antiquity were as
great as those of Rome herself.
“In the air was ever a clashing of bells, mingling with the
sound of fife and drum; the people danced for joy, danced day
and night on the famous bridge, while the fresh air blew about
them and the rapid river flowed beneath. Such was Avignon,
says tradition in the days of the Popes.”
But to return to the Angevin rulers of Provence. The most famous of
these were “la Reine Jeanne” (Queen of Naples and Sicily and Countess
of Provence) and the good King René: both of them beloved and admired by
the Provençals to this day: Queen Jeanne because of her wonderful beauty
and grace, and King René for his goodness, his charm, his _bonhomie_,
There are accounts of the coming of the brilliant Queen to Avignon in
order to obtain a dispensation from the Pope to marry Louis of Taranto.
“Ravishingly beautiful, she arrived with great pomp, with a retinue on
the Rhone,” met doubtless by the Cardinals in their scarlet robes, and
proceeding amongst the acclaiming people to the palace.
Froissart, in an account of a later interview, makes the Queen tell his
Holiness that her father, son of Robert the Good of the first Angevin
Counts of Provence, had advised her on his death-bed, if she had no
heirs to yield all her territory to whomsoever should be Pope. “In
truth, Holy Father, after his decease, with the consent of the nobles
of Sicily and Naples, I wedded Andrew of Hungary–he died, a young man,
[Illustration: LA LICE, ARLES.
_By Joseph Pennell._]
(As the Queen had had him murdered and thrown out of a window at Aversa,
her account of his death lacked completeness.) She then casually mentions
her next husband, Prince of Taranto, and in the same sentence alludes
_en passant_ to his successor, James, King of Majorca.
“Holy Father,” she adds demurely, “I then married the Lord Otho of
The Sieur de Bouche, always methodical, arranges Queen Jeanne’s husbands
in a list according to priority (not alphabetical).
It is as difficult to arrive at the real story of this famous lady
as at that of Mary Queen of Scots. Both were renowned for beauty, but
both must have possessed a quality of charm less easy to define or they
could not have exerted so powerful a hold on the imagination of their
contemporaries. Both were accused, if not convicted, of great crimes,
and both came to a tragic end; Queen Jeanne dying in prison in her own
kingdom of Naples.
King René, the kind, merry, artistic, unpractical monarch, who is said to
have been able to do all things except govern a kingdom, is remembered
with real love by his people. There is a romance attached to his name.
His first marriage was merely one of State policy and during his wife’s
lifetime he is said to have loved Jeanne de la Val, to whom he gave the
“celebrated and illustrious barony of Baux,” in 1458.
On the death of the Queen Isabel, he married the lady of his heart, and
there appears good reason to believe that this love-match was a deeply
happy one, King and Queen though the lovers were.
René the Good seems to have been made of that sort of fibre that radiates
happiness as the sun radiates warmth.
During this reign the town of Orange gave birth to an institution which
seems curiously out of keeping with the spirit of the time and place,
viz., the Provençal Parliament, the creation of Count William of Orange.
It was regarded popularly as one of the scourges of the country,
“_Parlemant, Mistral et Durance
Sont les trois fléaux de Provence_”;
and later we hear complaints against the Parliament to the Council
of the Lateran for attacks made by it on the “liberty of the Church,”
interference in the functions of the bishops, and so forth.
But this is after the death of René, and after Charles III., his nephew
and successor, had left all his territory to his cousin, Louis XI., and
Provence once more lapsed to the Crown of France.
* * * * *
From this point French history and Provençal history become one, and
Provence has for her Counts Louis XI., Francis I., Henry II., Francis
II. (“Roy de France et d’Ecosse,” as de Bouche entitles him). Then
come the religious wars in Dauphiny and Provence, the suspension of the
Parliament, the Great Plague in the time of Henry III., and the “birth
of the Ligue, which has caused so many evils in France,” according to
The Etats Généraux de Provence were held at Aix in the reign of Henry IV.
From this time to that of Louis XIV. the country is hopelessly given
over to religious troubles. Religion, or the passions that are let loose
under that name, have been the scourge of this distracted land made by
nature for happiness and peace.
Such are the bare outlines of Provençal history during the times that, in
this country of ancient lineage, present an aspect almost modern. Those
authors who have studied the drama of its farthest past treat familiarly
of ages in which the Glacial Epoch plays a quite juvenile _rôle_.
One writer (Berenger Feraud) divides the Paleolithic Age into several
epochs, one of which (Epoque Solutréen) he alludes to as a relatively
short one of 11,000 years; generally they are about 100,000 years or so.
In Provence the human story can be traced to the earliest of those
geological epochs when man could only express himself by “modulated
cries.” It took centuries and centuries to acquire a rudiment of words.
From the second epoch, when the country had become colder, dates our
venerable Hearth and Home; the family living in caves (such as are still
to be seen at Les Baux, for instance), and sleeping or crouching round
the wood fires on long winter nights and days, slowly developing speech
from the increased need of exchanging sequent ideas.
Then came the awful darkness and death of the Glacial Period, changing
still further the contours of the country.
The retreat of the glacial cold ushered in the “Epoque Magdalenienne,”
when life became comparatively easy, though the climate of Provence was
still “colder than that of St. Petersburg.” The Magdaleniens had arrived
at sculpturing rough figures on the rocks, and from those records it
is concluded that they were gay, jovial, and inclined to pleasantry;
the sort of person apparently who makes a dinner-party go well. Strange
dinner-parties they must have had in their wild nooks and caverns in
the mountains of Provence!
Gradually from these mysterious days we emerge upon centuries less
absolutely hidden from our curiosity: the time of the invasion of the
Ligurians, Iberians, Celts, and other races, from about the fifteenth
century B.C. to 600 B.C. This brings us almost back to the light of day,
with the rather startling consciousness that the ancient Ligurians, who
represented to the imagination the beginning of all things Provençal,
suddenly appear as modern innovations.
A long stretch of time had still to pass, filled with a hundred
half-fabulous events, before the Roman Conquest brought the country
within the domain of actual history.
* * * * *
And during all those ages what language was being used and developed by
the multitudes of races that passed like phantoms across the country,
phantoms to our imagination, yet each race, each individual, driven to
wild and eager deeds and desires by the strange life-force, the “will
to live,” that sets the whole extraordinary pageant of things in motion?
From the “modulated cries” of the men who lived in holes in the earth–not
yet in the comparatively elegant cave-dwellings–to the exquisite
language of the troubadours, what has been the course of its growth? No
one knows. The only real guide that remains is the language itself, a
confusing phonographic record of the whole troublous existence of the
country of its birth.
The nearer a language is to its origin the more it is complicated.
Ingenious and subtle grammatical forms prove an ancient tongue.
The natural progress is from synthesis to decomposition; and this
decomposing force is nothing more nor less than the natural laziness of
the human being, one of the most tremendous forces of the universe!
“All dialects originate from this germ of decomposition, in opposition
to the antique synthetic principle of the language,” says M. Fauriel.
Thence progress can be studied by following backwards a language to its
source, that is to its more complex form. But for long stretches of time
no specimens of written language existed. Most of the popular songs and
stories were transmitted orally, and so there is only a document here
and there to reveal the slow development.
The influence of Rome as a civiliser was so enormous that it acted as
a break on the new movement which was destined in time to create the
world we call modern. That new world which the Barbarians were to bring
into being was postponed in the making by the very excellence of the
institutions that it gradually superseded.
This slowness of pace affected the language. It took six centuries to
transmute the Latin into the Romance tongues, a process as tremendous
in its way as the formation during geological eons of the limestone and
Two great movements had taken place in the speech of Gaul and Spain;
first the imposition of the Latin tongue on the conquered provinces and
then the reversal of the process till the Latin was again corrupted back
into dialects. In the return journey the Latin remained as a foundation
and in it were left many words belonging to the ancient language of the
country, so that non-Latin words in Romance may date from either before
or after the introduction of the classic tongue.
It was not until the fourth century that it showed signs of giving way.
It broke up gradually into modern French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese,
Roumanian Provençal. The tribes of the Acquitani gave the character to
the dialects of the South-west, where, according to many writers, their
speech still survives in the Basque language.
It would be a long story, that of the great Romance tongues from the
earlier waverings of the Latin in the fourth century, to the eleventh
century, when the first troubadour, Guillem de Poictiers, delighted the
knights and ladies of Limousin and half France with his songs.
The _langue d’oc_ was by that time ready to his hand, or so it would
seem, for it is a remarkable fact that there is scarcely any difference
between the language of this pioneer troubadour and that of his latest
successors in the thirteenth century, whose voices were so soon to be
drowned in the din and horror of the Albigensian wars.
Two hundred years of dance and song! Something at least saved from the
gloom and folly of the human story!
During the six hundred years from the fourth to the eleventh century
modern Europe, its religion, its institutions, its language, its destiny
were in process of formation. And a rude process it was.
[Illustration: A PROVENÇAL FARM.
_By E. M. Synge._]
During these centuries, “deluged with blood,” the language must have been
in a state of fusion. We know that, for the earlier epochs at least, no
one could write his name except a cleric, and agreements were all signed
with a cross. There was no general social movement, only incessant changes
in the balance of power between kings and nobles. Brutal, unreasoning,
material in the real sense of the word, despite their reputation as ages
of faith, these centuries were destitute of progressive elements, and
there was little or nothing to cause the speech to refine or develop.
Literature and Latin died together. The Gallic tongue left traces in
the speech of the South and there are several Provençal words in Irish
and Welsh and in the language of the districts of the Vaudois showing
their common Celtic origin, if one may judge from the first words of
the Lord’s Prayer:–
“Our narme ata air neambh
“Ar nathair ata ar neamb
Strange to say, the Franks left scarcely any trace in the speech of the
country. Wide as were the conquests of this people, with Charlemagne
for Emperor in later days, their victory did not extend to the language.
Latin, as we have seen, flagged in the fourth century, and was finally
extinguished about the middle of the ninth century.
This breaking up of the speech of the Romans into Romance forms a curious
analogue to the breaking up of the Roman architecture into Romanesque.
This latter change took place after the formation of independent States
had superseded the old centralising Imperial idea.
Architecture, in its turn, developed different local styles, all deriving
their character from the Roman and all called by the general name of
The chief peculiarity of Provençal Romanesque is in the pointed vaultings
of the churches as distinguished from the familiar round arch of the
The date of the introduction of the pointed arch into Gaul is a vexed
question, but it is certain that it arrived earlier in Provence than in
the North of France. It was found easier to build, and it “exerted less
thrust on the side walls.”
But it was used in Provence for utilitarian reasons only, and it curiously
happened that the South abandoned the pointed arch just when the North
began to adopt it for decoration. The South preferred the round arch
for this purpose, and as the architects grew more skilful they were
able to cope with its difficulties, and thus–contrary to the usual
rule–the pointed form in Provence denotes greater antiquity than the
round vaulting. In the North, of course, it is exactly the reverse.
Byzantine influence was introduced into the South by the trade channel
through France with the Levant, of which Perigueux in Acquitaine was
a centre, and here the Venetian traders built a church on the plan of
St. Mark’s at Venice. This church of Perigueux was taken as a model by
local architects who introduced the Byzantine dome and the aisleless
nave; this latter being also a Byzantine feature, which may be seen in
some of the churches of Toulouse for instance. Byzantine, or possibly
merely late Roman influence is shown in the polygonal form of the apses
and cupolas, “in the flat arches employed to decorate the walls, in the
mouldings with small projections and numerous members; in the flat and
delicate ornament; and in the sharp and toothed carving of the foliage.”
Another feature of Provençal work is the strikingly Roman character,
produced, it is supposed, by the great number of fine Roman buildings in
the country. These architectural models, according to the authoritative
opinion of Ross and McGibbon, while stimulating the growth of the art
of the South, probably prevented it from developing on original lines
by “impressing on it the stamp of the classic trabeated style,” that
is the construction founded on that of the archaic buildings formed of
This process of architectural development, while analogous to that of
the language, is naturally much simpler and much easier to follow. The
history of the speech of this great continent is wearisomely obscure
Gaston Paris writes as follows:–“There were in Gaul at the
Merovingian epoch, without mentioning the Basque and Breton corners,
three languages: (1) grammatical Latin, become a dead language; (2) the
vulgar Latin or Romance spoken by all the indigenous population; (3)
the German represented by the Frank, the Burgundian, and the Gothic.”
But the Germans in Gaul, mixing with the ancient Gallo-Roman families,
ended by speaking Romance, all distinctions between the two races
disappearing. The writings of Gregory of Tours throw light upon this
transitional period, the _lingua rustica_ having by that time encroached
upon the would-be grammatical Latin.
“… There were profound alterations suffered by the speech of the people
in the vowels and consonants during the Merovingian epoch,” and during
that same epoch new principles of rhythm which permitted of versification
in the Romance tongue were being slowly and laboriously adapted to these
alterations of sound. From this the author concludes that there
existed a “poetic activity,” though we have no detailed remains to prove
it. We know only that at the spring festivals (survivals of antiquity)
there were popular songs and dances. Those who recited and sang were
called _joculares_–and caused much scandal to the Christian moralists!
The lighter German songs of love and wine have left no obvious trace,
but the elements of their epics are embedded in the French _epopée_
which Gaston Paris thinks owes to them its existence. He speaks of it
as the outcome of the national spirit–which had arisen after the Franks
had given a sort of unity to the country–and of the more individualist
inspiration of the German epics. Thus the popular language must have
been under a smelting or moulding process, passing through the poetic
crucible for many a year of which we have no record.
There are but few milestones on this ancient road, but if all were
carefully examined in order of time, it is probable that the gaps might
be bridged over by the eye of learning and the line of development made
An anecdote of the tenth century, given by M. Fauriel, illustrates the
condition of the language of that date.
A Gaul who had been present at several of the miracles of St. Martin,
being asked by some Acquitanians to give an account of them, is diffident,
and says he is illiterate.
“Speak as you please,” said one of the Acquitanians, “speak Celtic or
Gothic if you prefer it, provided only you speak of St. Martin.”
It was at this time that the language of Acquitaine which has lingered
in the valleys of the Pyrenees began to be called Basque. The rest of
the country was speaking the Romance, with its 3,000 “barbarian words.”
Among these are some Acquitanian, a few of which are below:–
BASQUE WORDS IN PROVENÇALE.
_Aonar_ to aid
Gaissar to injure
Gais evil, misfortune
Unlike the languages of the so-called Sanscrit type (to which
belong Greek, Latin, Celtic, and even Slavonian), the Basque–as is
well-known–cannot be traced back to any common origin: this mysterious
aboriginal tongue of the Acquitani is an orphan and an alien without
kith or kin, unless indeed the adventurous writer who claims for it an
Etruscan origin be in the right.
Acquitaine took a large part in the wars with the invading Arabs of
Spain, and their Duke Eudes, after many victories, was finally defeated
by the famous Abderrahman and the county was left at the mercy of the
conquerors until Charles Martel at length expelled them.
It was in these wars that Charlemagne made his famous and disastrous
expedition to Ronçevalles which inspired the poetic imagination of the
The many wars of these times of transition and the long struggles of the
Gallo-Romans and Acquitanians against the Franks formed subjects for the
popular poetry which was slowly working towards the literary outburst
of the eleventh and twelfth centuries.
[Illustration: COW-BOYS OF THE CAMARGUE.
_By Joseph Pennell._]
The people of Acquitaine seem to have been leaders in the revolt against
the Frankish dominion; their country had been left by Charlemagne as
an independent kingdom, but on his death they at once went to war with
the Franks and led the way to the dismemberment of the Carlovingian
Empire. There is an ancient poem whose name and hero is Walter of
Acquitaine–related to the Nibelingen and Scandinavian sagas–which seems
to represent the national and anti-Frankish spirit of the Acquitanians
and of all the Gallo-Roman epoch.
It was in Limousin, as we have seen, that all these movements of popular
literature finally arrived at a sort of culmination, and we find ourselves
suddenly in a brilliant world of gaiety and song.
Count Ebles III. of Ventadour was then composing his verses of “alacrity
and joy,” and the Châteaux of Limousin were enthusiastically cultivating
the new poetry; and a little later William IX. of Poictiers, the “first
troubadour,” was born, the gay, courteous teller of stories and singer
of songs, of whom the already quoted saying was abroad that “he went
about the world to impose on the ladies.”
He had the audacity to refuse to join the Crusade, perhaps because he
was a “free-thinker”–a rare being indeed in those days–denying the
existence of God.
But when Jerusalem fell and the Christians were forming a kingdom there,
he went out with a multitude of knights to join them, though apparently
with a heavy heart.
On the eve of departure he composed a lyric to his native land.
“Adieu, now diversions and sports!
Adieu now furred robes of vair and of grey,
Adieu ye fine vestments of silk,
I shall depart into exile….”
And so, in this confused struggling fashion, during the course of
centuries, the _langue d’oc_ came to be the language of chivalry and
romantic love: the language in which are written the laws of courtesy and
of honour that we reverence to this day. The transition from the rudeness
which was fitted to express the few ideas of early mediæval life to the
fineness and polished charm of the troubadour poetry remains always more
or less of a mystery; but however it came about, it is certain that when
the troubadours and the chivalrous knights were born into the world by
the “grace of God,” the beautiful characteristic tongue which had been
forged for their use by the beating of the ages of events was waiting
and worthy to carry the thought and the emotion of an awakening people.
“Salut, empèri dóu soulèu, que bordo
Coume un orle d’argènt lou Rose bléuge!
Empèri dóu soulas, de l’alegrìo!
Empèri fantasti de la Prouvènço
Qu’emé toun noum soulet fas gau au mounde!”
(“Hail, Empire of the sun, which the dazzling Rhone borders
like a silver hem! Empire of happiness and gaiety, fantastic
Empire of Provence, thou who with thy name alone charmest the
MISTRAL, _The Poem of the Rhone_ (_Canto Second_–xviii.).
With the spirit of the country, the whole crew and company of the
_Caburle_–Maître Apian’s barge in Mistral’s poem–seems to be imbued.
Even the little maiden Anglore–in love with a water-sprite–even she
has caught something of the large _abandon_ of the great stream.
Warned that the Prince–whom she believes to be the Drac–will fascinate
and then desert her, she cries: “Eh! bien qu’il me fascine. Si mon destin
est tel, moi, je me laisserai choir a la pipée, comme au gouffre béant
tombe la feuille.”
The whole poem is steeped in the movement and sunshine of the river:
the charm of the life on its banks, especially in times now past; the
plying of the barges up and down, laden with merchandise, the towns and
ancient castles that they pass, the gay spirit of the passengers along
this buoyant thoroughfare, “l’ornière du monde” as Maître Apian calls
it, the owner of the “most famous equipage of the whole river”–seven
barges and forty horses for towing. In the finest of them, the _Caburle_,
he sets forth from the neighbourhood of Lyons to descend the river to
Beaucaire for the great fair, his other barges following, with cargo
and with food for the horses.
“Que sus la dougo, au retour de Prouvenço.
Gaiardamen remountavon la rigo.”
(Qui sur la berge, au retour de Provence,
Gaillardement remontaient la convoi.)
And so the little flotilla goes on its way down the current, the _Caburle_
leading, with the image of St. Nicholas at its prow, and at the poop,
placed high on the rudder, the mariner’s cross, painted red and carved
(one winter when the waters had been caught in the grip of the frost) by
Maître Apian himself. And the instruments of the Passion: nails, lance,
hammer, and all associated with it directly or indirectly, are piously
“En cargo pèr la fiero de Bèu-Caire,
l’a cènt batèu que vuei soun de partènço.”
(With cargo for the fair of Beaucaire, there are a hundred
barges starting to-day.)
And there is a friendly rivalry between them, for the first boat to arrive
at the meadow of Beaucaire receives, as a welcome from the citizens, a
fine sheep. Alas! as we know, the days of the fair of Beaucaire are over!
“Despachatiéu, en aio, fourro-bourro.”
“In haste, agitated, pell-mell,” the mariners bestir themselves, and
the merry, busy procession moves down stream. Maître Apian lifts his cap.
“Au noum de Dieu e de la Santo Viergo,
“To the Rhone!” he cries, and all who are with him uncover their heads,
and make the sign of the cross, dipping their fingers in the wave–for
the river is blessed every year, with a fine procession at the Pont St.
Esprit, and so it is holy water.
A most singular and very “mixed” company the _Caburle_ carries with her
down the river during twelve long cantos: among them, curiously enough,
William of Orange, son of the King of Holland, who had been sent to
Provence for his health. Besides him there are three Venetian ladies who
keep their companions lively with songs and jests. And this little blond
prince–whom the doctors think the mistral is likely to benefit–has
come to seek the flower of the Rhone of which he has heard so much–
“Flour de pantai, de gentun, de belésso,
que, pèr tout païs ounte s’atrovo,
L’ome i’es gai e la dona i’es bello.”
(“Fleur de beauté, fleur de grace et de rêve
Par tout pays ou on la trouve,
L’homme est joyeux, la femme belle.”)
Then they all tell him that it is the flowering rush that nourishes itself
in the water–which “l’Anglore” loves to gather. And the little blond
prince pricks up his ears and wants to know who or what is l’Anglore.
And thereby hangs a tale.
“La voilà, la voilà,” they all cry on the barges.
Her hand on her hip, Anglore, with a branch of the flower of the Rhone in
her hand, stands on the bank waiting and smiling. Since her infancy she
has come to watch these boats arriving, the great flat boats that they
call _sisselands_ on the river. Well known to all the sailors, she would
exchange greetings and friendly badinage with them as they passed. And
the men would throw apples and pears into her apron as she held it out
to catch them. She was a familiar figure along the water-side, and bore
the nickname of Anglore, the lizard, because she was always basking in
the sun on the banks. But she was not idle. Assiduously she sifted with
her little sieve the grains of gold that the Ardèche brought down after
the rains. Her father was a pilot at the Pont St. Esprit to guide the
boats past the “spurs of the treacherous buttresses.” And the sailors,
having passed the Trois Donzelles and the Îles Margeries, would say
“Allons, … nous allons bientôt voir
Au Malatra papilloner l’Anglore.”
And there, sure enough, she was, with her red handkerchief on her head,
busy at work. And they would cry, “Ohé, has she not made her fortune,
And Anglore replies, “Aïe! pauvrette, ils n’en jettent pas tant d’or
dans l’Ardèche, ces gueux de Cévennols! Mais vous passez bien vite.”
“Le Rhône est fier (high) there is no stopping, belle jeunesse! But when
we go up stream on our return, and the horses pull at the ropes, then
we will bring you some dates.”
“Bon voyage aux marins,” she cries farewell.
And one of the crew, Jean Roche, throws her several kisses as the barge
moves away. He has a tender interest in the maiden, who however has no
heart to give him, for she has been fascinated by a most singular lover,
the Drac, or Spirit of the Rhone who lives under the green waters and
entices unwary maidens down and down to his shimmering home beneath the
“Oh! lis atiramen de l’aigo blouso
Quand lou sang nòu espilo dins li veno!”
(“Oh! l’attraction du liquide élément
Quand jaillit dans les veines le sang neuf!”)
[Illustration: ANGLORE ON THE RIVER BANK.
_Scene from Mistral’s Poem of the Rhone._
_By E. M. Synge._]
It seems to intoxicate the children of the riverside.
“L’aigo que ris e cascaio ajouguido
Entre li coudelet….”
(“de l’eau qui rit et gazouille enjouée
parmi les galets….”)
The mother of Anglore tells her children of the dangers of the river; of
“the blues” of the calm water where it is of profound depth. It is here
that the Drac loves to disport himself: a fishlike creature, svelte as
a lamprey, twisting himself joyously in the whirl of the waters, with
greenish hair which floats on the waves like seaweed. Anglore hears the
story of the young woman of Beaucaire beating her linen on the river
banks, when she suddenly sees the Drac in the water, and he makes a sign
of invitation to his palace of crystal where he promises to show her all
his riches, the wreckage of shipping for many a year. And the maiden,
unable to resist the strange fascination, is drawn under the waves in a
sort of dream; and for seven long years she lives with the Drac in his
fresh green grotto filled with watery light.
And Anglore, on one hot, still night, goes down to the banks in the
moonlight. In the profound silence she hears the murmur of the river.
The glowworms are throwing their strange glamour on the grass and the
nightingales are answering one another in the woods; and then suddenly
the girl seems to lose her head, and flinging off her few garments,
plunges into the stream.
It is a half fearful pleasure as she moves through its cool freshness.
If a fish ricochets over the surface in pursuit of a fly, if a little
whirlpool makes a tiny sound of in-sucking as it twirls in the rush, if a
bat cries, her heart gives a sick beat. But it is joy to be thus clothed
by the sumptuous mantle of the torrent; “to be mingled, confounded with
the great Rhone.” Suddenly, in the moonlight, deep down, stretched upon
the moss–the Drac! His eyes fix her, fascinate; and fearful, stupefied,
she has to go towards the sorcerer who murmurs words of mysterious love.
And then, all at once, Anglore, feeling his cold arms round her, springs
up and sees gliding through the water a vague shadow, serpentine and
white, and floating on the surface a flowering reed!
A narrow escape! But the quaint part of the story is yet to come. When
the barge of Maître Apian makes its return journey the crew throws the
rope ashore and Anglore knots it round an old stake. Then Jean Roche
takes Anglore in his arms and lifts her on board, and every one crowds
round to welcome her.
“Eh bèn, que dis Angloro?” they cry.
“Dise tout bèn de vous,” she replies politely.
Then Jean Roche says, “Santo que canto! If thou wert not more sensible
than I, Anglore, dost thou know what we would do?”
“Pancaro, digo” (Pas encore, dis).
“Well, to-morrow evening we would go together to see the plays at
Beaucaire, the two of us, arm in arm, on the meadow we would go and see
the gypsies who tell fortunes; we would stroll round to all the booths,
and I would buy you a beautiful ring.”
“Of glass?” asks Anglore.
“No, of gold. And at the end of the fair I would bring you back as my
wife at Saint Maurice.”
But Anglore laughs and puts him off, and finally tells him that he has
been forestalled by one who would drown him in the depths of the Rhone
if he caught him fishing in his “lone.”
So poor Jean Roche relapses into dismal silence. Presently the Prince
of Orange, radiant, and carrying a branch of the flower of the Rhone,
issues from his tent on the barge where he has been sleeping, humming,
still half asleep, the Venetian song of the three lively ladies–
“Sur mon bateau qui file
Viens, je t’enlève au frais:
Car, prince de Hollande,
Je n’ai peur de personne.”
And Anglore suddenly turns very pale and nearly faints.
“C’est lui! c’est lui!” she cries wildly; and it turns out that she takes
the prince for the Drac! And he, with his mind turning on the object of
his search, says that he recognises her. “O fleur du Rhone epanouie sur
“Drac, je te reconnais! car sous la lone
Je t’ai vu dans la main le bouquet que tu tiens.
A ta barbette d’or, à ta peau blanche,
A tes yeux glauques, ensorceleurs, perçants,
Je vois bien qui tu es.”
Rather embarrassing for Monsieur le Prince! However he is quite equal
to the occasion. He presents her with the flower, and then–suddenly he
trembles! It is scarcely necessary to add (we are in Provence) that the
next canto is occupied with the loves of Anglore and the blond prince.
These go simply and smoothly on board the barge, where the mariners show
the most astonishing tact and never seem to get in the way. When the
Prince asks Anglore what she would say if he told her he was really the
son of the King of Holland, she replies, “My Drac, I should simply say
that you can transfigure yourself into any form that may be agreeable
to you, and if you have taken that of the Prince of Orange it is for
some freak or mad fancy. Oh! my Drac, of what use is it to try to hide
What was there to be done (the poem demands) but instantly to embrace
“la folatre”? It is hard to say, adds the poet, “which is the more
intoxicated, more under the spell of enchantment.”
And so, in their great happiness they float down stream.
“radieux et ivres de votre luminière du Rhone.”
Fields, vineyards, olive-groves, castles, cities, drift by as in a
All the while the hot Provençal sun is beating on the barge, and the
sorceress river is flowing and flowing: the whole scene a symbol of the
country and its magic. After one has swept down and toiled up the Rhone
in the _Caburle_, one knows a little more of what it all means, this
fief of the sun and wind, this Land of the Passionate River!