The Cathedral (1898)

cathedral cover
Translated by Clara Bell

blue  Chapter I-II.
blue  Chapter III-IV.
blue  Chapter V-VI.
blue  Chapter VII-VIII.
blue  Chapter IX-X.
blue  Chapter XI-XII.
blue  Chapter XIII-XIV.
blue  Chapter XV-XVI.


"IN point of fact," said Durtal to himself as he stood dreaming on the market-place, "no one exactly knows what was the origin of the Gothic forms of a cathedral. Archaeologists and architects have exhausted hypotheses and systems in vain; they seem to agree in attributing the Romanesque to Oriental parentage, and that in fact maybe! proven. That the Romanesque should be an offshoot of the Latin and Byzantine styles, and be, as Quicherat defines it, ’the style which has ceased to be Roman and is not yet Gothic, though it already has something of the Gothic,’ I am ready to admit; and indeed, on examining the capitals, and studying their outline and drawing, we perceive that they are Assyrian or Persian rather than Roman or Byzantine and Gothic; but as to discovering the paternity even of the pointed and flamboyant styles, that is quite another thing. Some writers assert that the pointed arch. based on an equilateral triangle existed in Egypt, Syria, and Persia; others regard it as descended from Saracen and Arab art; nothing certainly is provable.

"Again, it must be clearly stated that the pointed equilateral arch, which some persons still suppose to be the distinctive characteristic of an era in architecture, is not so in fact, as Quicherat has very clearly demonstrated, and, since him, Lecoy de la Marche. The study of archives has, on this point, completely overset the hobbies of architects, and demolished the twaddle of the Bonzes. Besides, there is abundant evidence of the employment of the pointed arch side by side with the round arch in a perfectly systematic design, in the construction of many Romanesque churches in the Cathedrals of Avignon and Fréjus, in Notre Dame at Aries, in Saint Front at Périgueux, at Saint Martin d’Ainay, at Lyon, in Saint Martin des Champs in Paris, in Saint Etienne at Beauvais, in the Cathedral of Le Mans; and in Burgundy, at Vézelay, at Beaune, in Saint Philibert at Dijon at La Charité-sur-Loire, in Saint Ladre at Autun, and in most of the basilicas erected by the monastic school of Cluny.

"Still, all this throws no light on the lineage of the Gothic, which remains obscure — possibly because it is perfectly clear; setting aside the theory which restricts itself to discerning in this question a merely material and technical problem of stability and resistance, solved by monks who discovered one fine day that the strength of their roofs would be increased by the adoption of the mitreshaped vaulting of the pointed arch instead of the semicircular arch, would it not seem that the romantic hypothesis — Chateaubriand’s explanation — which was so much laughed at, and which is nevertheless the simplest and the most natural, may really be the most obvious and the true one?

"To me," thought Durtal, "it is almost certain that it was in the forest that man found the prototype of the nave and the pointed arch. The most amazing cathedral constructed by Nature herself; with lavish outlay of the pointed aisle of branches, is at Jumiges. There, close to the splendid ruins of the Abbey, where the two towers are still intact, while the roofless nave, carpeted with flowers, ends in a chancel of foliage shut in by an apse of trees, three vast, aisles of centenary boles extend in parallel lines; one in the middle, very wide, the two others one on each side, somewhat narrower; they exactly represent a church nave with its two side aisles, upheld by black columns and roofed with verdure. The ribs of the arches are accurately represented by the branches which meet above, as the columns which support them are simulated by the great shafts. It must be seen in winter, with the groining outlined and powdered with snow, and the pillars as white as the trunks of birch-trees, to understand the primitive idea, the seed of art which could give rise in the mind of an architect to the conception of similar arcades, and lead to the gradual refining of the Romanesque till the pointed arch had entirely superseded the round.

"And there is not a park, whether older or more recent than the groves of Jumièges, which does not exhibit the same forms with equal exactitude; but what Nature could not give was the prodigious art, the deep symbolical knowledge, the over-strung but tranquil mysticism of the believers who erected cathedrals. But for them the church in its roughhewn state, as Nature had formed it, was but a soulless thing, a sketch, rudimentary; the embryo only of a basilica, varying with the seasons and the days, at once living and inert, awaking only to the roaring organ of the wind, the swaying roof of boughs wrung with the slightest breath; it was lax and often sullen; the yielding victim of the breeze, the resigned slave of the rain; it was lighted only by the sunshine that filtered between the diamond and heart-shaped ]eaves, as if through the meshes of a green network. Man’s genius collected the scattered gleams, condensed them in roses and broad blades, to pour it into his avenues of white shafts; and even in the darkest weather the glass was splendid, catching the very last rays of sunset, dressing Christ and the Virgin in the most fabulous magnificence, and almost realizing on earth the only attire that beseems the glorified Body, a robe of mingled flame.

"Really, when you come to think of it, a cathedral is a superhuman thing!

"Starting in our lands from the old Roman crypt, from the vault, crushed like the soul by humility and fear, and bowed before the infinite Majesty whose praise they hardly dared to sing, the churches gradually waxed bolder; they gave an upward spring to the semicircular arch, lengthening it to an almond shape, leaping from the earth, uplifting roofs, heightening naves, breaking out into a thousand sculptured forms all round the choir, and flinging heavenward, like prayers, their rapturous piles of stones! They symbolized the loving tenderness of orisons; they became more trusting, more playful, more daring in the sight of God.

"Each and all seemed to smile, as soon as they gave up their dismal skeleton and strove upwards.

"The Romanesque, I fancy, must have been born old," Durtal went on after a pause. "At any rate it has always remained gloomy and timid.

"Although at Jumièges, for instance, it has attained grandiose dimensions with its enormous span opening like a vast portal to the sky, it still is depressing. The semicircular arch, in fact, bends to the earth, for it has not the point, soaring upwards, of the lancet arch.

"Oh! to think of the tears, the dolorous murmurs of those thick partitions, those smoky vaults, those arches resting on squat pillars, those almost speechless blocks of stone, those sober ornaments expressing their symbolism so curtly! The Romanesque is the La Trappe of architecture; we find it sheltering the austerest Orders,. the sternest Brotherhoods, kneeling in ashes, and chanting in an undertone with bowed heads none but penitential Psalms. These massive cellars speak of the fear of sin, but also of the dread of a God whose wrath could only be appeased by the Advent of the Son. The Romanesque seems to have preserved from its Oriental origin an element antedating the Birth of Christ; prayer seems to rise there to the implacable Adonal rather than to the pitying Infant, the gentle Mother. The Gothic, on the contrary, is less timid, more captivated by the two other Persons and the Virgin; it is the home of less rigorous and more artistic Orders. Bowed shoulders are straightened, downcast eyes are raised, sepulchral voices become seraphic. It is, in fact, the expansion of the spirit, while the Romanesque symbolizes its repression. At least, to me, that is the interpretation of these styles," Durtal repeated to himself.

"Nor is that all," he went on. "Yet another distinction may be deduced from these observations.

"The Romanesque is allegorical of the Old Testament, as the Gothic is of the New.

"The parallel, when you consider it, is exact. Is not the Bible — the inflexible Book of Jehovah, the awful Code of the Father, well expressed by the stern and penitential Romanesque; and the consoling, tender Gospel by the Gothic, full of effusiveness and invitation, full of humble hope?

"If the symbols are these, it would seem that time very often plays the part of man’s purpose in evolving the completed idea and uniting the two styles, as, in Holy Scripture, the two Books are united; thus certain cathedrals present a very curious result. Some, austere at their birth, are cheerful and even smiling as they are completed. All that is left of the old Abbey church of Cluny is from this point of view a typical instance. This, next to that of Paray-le-Monial, which remains entire, is undoubtedly one of the most magnificent examples of the Burgundian Romanesque, which, with its fluted pilasters, unfortunately betrays the distressing tradition of Greek art imported into France by the Romans. Still, allowing that these basilicas — which may have been built between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries — are purely Romanesque, as Quicherat opines, mentioning them as examples, their structure is already of a mingled type, and the joyousness of the vaulted arch is already to be seen there.

"Nor have we here, as at Notre Dame la Grande at Poitiers, a Romanesque façade, minutely elaborate, flanked at each wing by a low tower supporting a heavy stone spire cut into facets, like a pine-apple. At Paray there is none of the puerile ornament and heavy richness that we see at Poitiers. The barbaric dress of the little toy church of Notre Dame la Grande gives way to the winding-sheet of a flat wall, but the exterior is none the less remarkably impressive with its solemn simplicity of outline. And those two square towers, pierced with narrow windows and overlooked by a round tower resting so calmly, so firmly on an open arcade of columns joined by round arches, are a belfry at once dignified and rustic, spirited and strong.

"And the august simplicity of the exterior, is repeated in the interior of the church.

"Here, however, the Romanesque has already lost its crushed, crypt-like character, its obscure aspect as of a Persian cellar. The strong structural lines are the same; the capitals still display the inflorescence of Mussulman involutions, the fabulous entanglements of Assyrian patterns, reminiscences of Asiatic art transplanted to our soil; but we already see the union of dissimilar bays; columns struggle upwards, pillars are taller, the wide arches are less rigid, and have a lighter and longer trajectory; and the plain walls, enormous but already light, are pierced at prodigious heights with holes admitting the day.

"At Paray the round arch is to be seen in harmony with the pointed arch which appears in the higher summits of the structure, announcing the advent of a less plaintive phase of the soul, a tenderer and less harsh idea of Christ, who is preparing, and already revealing, the Mother’s indulgent smile.

"But then," said Durtal, suddenly, to himself, "if my theories are correct, the architecture which could, by itself alone, symbolize Catholicism as a whole, and represent the complete Bible in both Testaments, must be either Romanesque with the pointed arch, or a transition style, half Romanesque and half Gothic.

"The deuce!" thought he, thus led to an unforeseen conclusion. "To be sure, it is not necessary perhaps that the church itself should offer so complete a parallel, or that the Old and New Testaments should be bound up in one volume here, indeed, at Chartres the work, though integral, is in two separate volumes, since the crypt on which the Gothic church rests is Romanesque. Nay, it is thus even more symbolical, and it emphasizes the idea of the windows in which the prophets bear on their shoulders the four Evangelists; once more the Old Testament appears as the base, the foundation of the New.

"What a fulcrum for dreams is this Romanesque!" Durtal went on. "Is it not also the smoke-stained shrine, the gloomy retreat, constructed for black Virgins? This seems all the less doubtful because all the Mauresque Virgins are thick-set and heavy; they are not sylphs, like the fair Virgins of Gothic art. The Byzantine School conceived of Mary as swarthy, ’of the hue of polished brown ebony,’ as the old historians say; only, in opposition to the text in Canticles, it painted or carved Her as black, indeed, but not comely. Thus figured, She is truly a gloomy Virgin, eternally sorrowing, in harmony with the Romanesque catacombs. Her presence naturally beseems the crypt of Chartres; but in the Cathedral itself, on the pillar where She stands to this day, does She not appear strange? For She is not in Her true home under the soaring white vault."

"Well, our friend, you are dreaming!"

Durtal started like a man roused from sleep.

"Ah! It is you, Madame Bavoil?"

"To be sure. I am going home from market, and from your lodgings."

"From my lodgings?"

"Yes, to invite you to breakfast. The Abbe Plomb’s housekeeper is to be out this afternoon, so he is coming to take his morning meal with us; and the Father thought it would be a good opportunity to make you acquainted."

"I am much obliged to him; but I must go home and tell Mother Mesurat, that she may not cook my cutlet."

"You need not do that, as I have just come from her; not finding you, I left word and told Madame Mesurat. Are you still satisfied with her?"

"Once upon a time," said he, laughing," I had, to manage my hopse in Paris, one Sieur Rateau, a drunkard of the first clss, who turned everything upside down, and led the furniture a life! Now I have this worthy woman, who sets to work on a different system, but the results are identically the same. She works by persuasion and gentle means; she does not overthrow the furniture, or bellow as she turns the mattress, or rush at the wall with a broom as if she were charging with fixed bayonet; no, she quietly collects the dust and stirs it roun’ and ends by piling it in little heaps that she hides in the corners of the rooms; she does not rummage the bed, but restricts herself to patting it with the tip of her fingers, stroking the creases out of the sheets, puffing up the pillows and coaxing them out of their hollows. The man turned everything topsy-turvy; she moves nothing."

"Well, well; but she is a good woman!"

"Yes, and in spite of it all, I am glad to have her."

As they talked they had reached the entrance to the Bishop’s residence. They went through a little gate by the lodge into a large forecourt strewn with small river pebbles, in front of a vast building of the seventeenth century. There were no flowers of stone-work, no sculpture, no decorative doorways — nothing but a frontage of shabby brick and stone, a bare, uninviting structure evidently neglected, with tall windows, behind which the shutters could be seen, painted grey. The entrance was on the level of the first floor; double outside steps led up to the door, and under the landing, in the arch below, there was a glass door, through which, framed in the square, could be seen the trunks of trees beyond;

This courtyard was bordered with tall poplars, which the late Bishop, who had frequented the Tuileries, used to speak of with a smile as his hundred guards.

Madame Bavoil and Durtal crossed this forecourt, sloping to the left towards a wing of the building, roofed with slate.

There, on the first floor, with only a loft above lighted by round dormers, lived the Abbé Gévresin.

They went up a narrow, staircase with a rusty iron balustrade. The walls were trickling with damp, they secreted drops, distilled spots like black coffee; the steps were worn hollow, and thin at the ends like spoons; they led up to a door smeared yellow, with a cast-iron knob as black as ink. A copper ring swung in the wind at the end of a bell-rope, knocking the chipped plaster of the wall. An indescribable smell of stale apples and stagnant water came up the middle of the staircase from the little outer hail below, which was paved with rows of bricks set on edge, eaten into patterns like madrepores, while the ceiling looked like a map, furrowed with seas that were traced in yellow by the soaking through of the rain.

And the Abbé’s little apartment, lately "done up" with a vile red-checked paper, reeked of the tomb. It was evident that under the shadow of the Cathedral that overhung this wing no sunshine ever dried the walls, of which the skirting boards were rotting into powder like brown sugar, crumbling slowly, on the icy cold polish of the floor.

"How sad to see an old man, a victim to rheumatism, housed here!" thought Durtal.

When he went into the Abbé’s room, he found the chill somewhat taken off by a large coke fire; the priest was reading his breviary, wrapped in a wadded gown, close to the window, of which he had drawn back the blind to see a little better.

This room was furnished with a small iron bedstead hung with white cotton curtains looped back by bands of red cretonne; opposite the bed were a table covered with a cloth, and on it a desk, and a prie.dieu below a Crucifix nailed to the wall; the remainder of the room was fitted with bookshelves up to the ceiling. Three arm-chairs, such as are nowhre to be seen nowadays but in religious houses or seminaries, made of walnut wood with straw bottoms like church chairs, were set round the table, and two more, with round rush mats for the feet, stood one on each side of the fireplace. On the chimney-shelf was an Empire clock between two vases, and from these rose the faded stems of some dried grasses stuck upright into sand.

"Come to the fire," said the Abbé, "for in spite of the brazier it is fearfully cold."

And in answer to Durtal, who spoke of his rheumatism, he resignedly shrugged his shoulders.

"All the residence is the same," said he. "Monseigneur, who is almost a cripple, could not find a single dry room in the whole palace. Heaven forgive me, but I believe his rooms are even damper than mine. In point of fact there ought to be hot-air pipes all over the place, and it will never be done for lack of money."

"But at any rate Monseigneur might have stoves put into the rooms, here and there."

"He!" cried the Abbe, laughing," but he has no private means whatever. He draws a stipend of ten thousand francs a year and not another penny; for there is no endowment at Chartres, and the revenue from the fees on the ecclesiastical Acts is nothing. In this rich, but irreligious town he can hope for, no assistance; the gardener and porter are paid by him; he is obliged for economy’s sake to employ Sisters from a convent as cook and linen-keeper. Add to that his inability to keep — a carriage, so that he has to hire a conveyance for his pastoral rounds. And how much then do you suppose he has left to live on, if you deduct his charities? Why, he is poorer than you or I!"

"But then Chartres is the fag end of Church preferment, a mere raft for the shipwrecked and starving."

"Thou hast said! Bishop, canons, priests, everybody here is poverty-stricken."

The bell rang, and Madame Bayou showed in the Abbé Plomb. Durtal recognized him. He looked even more scared than usual; he bowed, backing away, and did not know what to do with his hands, which he buried in his sleeves.

By the end of half an hour, when he was more at his ease, he expanded into smiles, and at last he talked; Durtal, much surprised, saw that the Abbe Gévresin was right. This priest was highly intelligent and well-informed, and what made the man even more attractive was his perfect freedom from the want of breeding, the narrow ideas, the goody nonsense which make intercourse so dillicult with the ecclesiastics in literary circles.

They had settled themselves in the dining-room, as dismal a room as the rest, but warmer, for an earthenware stove was roaring and puffing hot gusts from its open ventilators.

When they had eaten their boiled eggs, the conversation, hitherto discursive as to subject, turned on the Cathedral.

"It is the fifth erection over a Druidical cave," said the Abbe Plomb. "It has a strange history.

"The first, built at the time of the Apostles by Bishop Aventinus, was razed to the ground. Rebuilt by another Bishop named Castor, it was partly burnt down by Hunaldus Duke of Aquitaine, then restored by Godessaldus; again injured by fire, by Hastings, the Norman chief; repaired once more by Gislebert, and finally destroyed utterly by Richard Duke of Normandy when he sacked the city after the siege.

"We have no very authentic records of these two basilicas; at most are we certain that the Roman Governor of the land of Chartres completely destroyed the first and at the same time slaughtered a great number of Christians, among them his own daughter Modesta, throwing the corpses into a well dug near the cave, and thence known as le Puits des Saints Forts.

"A third fabric, built by Bishop Vuiphardus, was burnt down in 1020, when Fulbert was Bishop, and he founded the fourth Cathedral. This was blasted by lightning in 1194; nothing remained but the two belfries and the crypt.

"The fifth structure, finally, built in the reign of Philippe Auguste, when Regnault de Moucon was Bishop of Chartres, is that we still see; it was consecrated on the 17th of October, 1260, in the presence of Saint Louis. This again has passed through the fire. In 1506 the northern spire was struck by lightning; the structure was of wood covered with lead; a terrific storm raged from six in the evening till four in the morning, fanning the fire to such violence that the six bells were melted like cakes of wax. The flames were, however kept within limits, and the church was refitted. But the scourge returned many times; in 1539, in 1573, and in 1589 lightning fell on the new belfry. Then a century elapsed before the visitation was repeated; in 1701 the same spire was struck again.

"It then stood uninjured till 1825, when a thunder-bolt fell and shook it severely on Whit Monday while the Magnficat was being chanted at Vespers.

"Finally, on the 4th of June, 1836, a tremendous fire broke out, caused by the carelessness of two plumbers working under the roof. It lasted eleven hours, and destroyed all the timbers, the whole forest that supported the roof; it was by a miracle that the church was not entirely consumed in this fury of fire."

"You must allow, Monsieur, that there is something strange in this disaster without respite."

"Yes, and what is still more strange," said the Abbé Gévresin, "is the persistency of fire from heaven, bent on destroying it."

"How do you account for that?" asked Durtal.

"Sébastien Rouillard, the author of Parthénie, believes that these visitations were permitted as a punishment for certain sins, and he insinuates that the conflagration of the third Cathedral was justified by the misconduct of some pilgrims who at that time slept in the nave, men and women together. Others believe that the Devil, who can command the lightning, was bent on suppressing this sanctuary at any cost."

"But why, then, did not the Virgin protect Her particular church more effectually?"

"You may observe that She has several times preserved it from being utterly reduced to cinders; however, it is, all the same, very strange when we remember that Chartres is the first place where the Virgin was worshipped in France. It goes back to Messianic times, for, long before Joachim’s daughter was born, the Druids had erected, in the cave which has become our crypt, an altar to the Virgin who — should bear a child — Virgini Pariturae. They, by a sort of grace, had intuitive foreknowledge of a Saviour whose Mother should be spotless; thus it would seem that at Chartres, above all places, there are very ancient bonds of affection with Mary. This makes it very natural that Satan should be bent on breaking them."

"Do you know," said Durtal, "that this grotto is prefigured in the Old Testament by a human structure of almost official character? In her "Life of Our Lord," that exquisite visionary, Catherine Emmerich, tells us that there was, hard by Mount Carmel, a grotto with a well, near which Elias saw a Virgin; and it was to this spot, she says, that the Jews who expected the Advent of the Redeemer made pilgrimages many times a year.

"Is not this the prototype of the cave of Chartres and the well of the Strong Saints?

"Observe, too, on the other hand, the tendency of the thunder to fall, not on the old belfry, but on the new one. No meteorological reason, I suppose, can account for this preference; but on carefully considering the two spires, I am struck by the delicate foliage, the slender lacework of the new spire, the elegant and coquettish grace of the whole of that side. The other, on the contrary, has no ornament, no carved tracery; it is simply carved in scallops like scale armour; it is sober, stern, stalwart and strong. It might really almost be thought that one is female and the other of the male sex. And then might we not conclude that the first is symbolical of the Virgin and the second of Her Son? In that case my inference would be akin to that offered to us by Monsieur l’Abbé: the fires are to be ascribed to Satan, who would wreak himself on the image of Her who has the power to crush his head."

"Pray have a slice of beef, our friend," said Madame Bavoil, coming in with a bottle in her hands.

"No, thank you."

"And you, Monsieur l’Abbé?"

The Abbé Plomb bowed, but declined.

"Why, you eat nothing!"

"What! I? I may even confess that I am rather ashamed of having eaten so heartily, after reading this morning the life of Saint Laurence of Dublin, who, by way of food, was content to dip his bread in the water clothes had been washed in."


"Well, in order to be able to say with the Prophet-King that he fed on ashes — since ashes are used for lye; that is a penitential banquet which is very unlike that we have just consumed," he added, laughing.

"Well, my dear Madame Bavoil, that puts even you to shame," said the Abbé Gévresin. "You are not yet covetous of so meagre a feast; you are really quite dainty! You must have milk or water to dip your sop in!"

"Dear me," said Durtal, "by way of high feeding I can improve on that. I remember reading in an old book the story of the Blessed Catherine of Cardona, who, without using her hands, cropped the grass, on her knees, among the asses."

It had not struck Madame Bavoil that the friends were speaking in fun, and she replied quite humbly,-

"God Almighty has never yet required me to strew my bread with ashes or to graze the field, — if He should give me the order, I should certainly obey it. — But it does not matter."

And she was so far from enthusiastic that they all laughed.

"Then the Cathedral as a whole," said the Abbé Gévresin after a short silence, "dates from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, excepting, of course, the new spire and numerous details."


"And the names of the architects are unknown?"

"As are those of almost all the builders of great churches," replied the Abbé Plomb. "It may, however, be safely assumed that during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the Benedictines of the Abbey of Tiron directed the building of our church, for that monastery had established a House at Chartres in 1117; we also know that this convent contained more than five hundred Brothers practising all the arts, and that sculptors, image-makers, stone-cutters, or workers in pierced stone, were numerous. It would therefore seem very natural that these monks sent to live at Chartres were the men who drew the plans of Notre Dame, and employed the horde of artists whom we see represented in one of the old windows of the apse — men. in furred caps shaped like a jelly bag, who are busily carving and polishing the statues of kings.

"Their work was finished at the beginning of the sixteenth century by Jehan Le Texier, known as Jehan de Beauce, who erected the northern belfry, called the New Belfry, and the decorative work inside the church, formihg the niches for the groups on the walls of the choir-aisles or ambulatory."

"And has no one ever been able. to discover the name of any one of the original architects, sculptors, or glass-makers of this Cathedral?"

"It has been the subject of much research, and I, personally, may say that I have grudged neither time nor trouble, but all in vain.

"This much we know: At the top of the southern belfry, the Old Belfry as it is called, near the window-bay looking towards the New Belfry, this name was deciphered: ’Harnian, 1164.’ Is it that of an architect, of a workman, or of a night watchman on the look-out at that time in the tower? We can but wonder. Didron, again, discovered on the pilaster of the eastern porch, above the head of a butcher slaughtering an ox, the word ’Rogerus’ in twelfth century characters. Was he the architect, the sculptor, the donor of this porch — or the butcher? Another signature, ’Robir,’ to be seen on the pedestal of a statue in the north porch. Who was Robir? None can say.

"Langlois, too, mentions a glass-worker of the thirteenth century, Clement of Chartres, whose signature he found on awindow of the Cathedral at Rouen — Clement Vitrearius Carnutensis; but it is a wide leap to infer, as some would do, that merely because this Clement was a native of Chartres, he must have painted one or more of the glass pictures in Notre Dame here. And at any rate we have no information as to his life or his works in this city. It may also be remarked that on a pane in our church we read Petrus Bal...; is this the name, complete or defaced, of a donor of a painter? Once more we must confess ourselves ignorant.

"If I add to this that two of Jehan de Beauce’s colleagues have been traced: Thomas Le Vasseur, who assisted him in the building of the new spire, and one Sieur Bernier, whose name occurs in ancient accounts; that from some old contracts, discovered by Monsieur Lecoq, we know that Jehan Soulas, image-maker, of Paris, carved the finest of the groups that are the glory of the choir-aisles, and can verify the names of other sculptors who succeeded this admirable artist, but who are less interesting, since with them pagan art reappears and mediocrity is evident: François Marchant, imagemaker, of Orleans, and Nicolas Guybert, of Chartres — we have mentioned almost all the records worthy of preservation as to the great artists who laboured at Chartres from the twelfth till the close of the first half of the fifteenth century."

"And after that period the names that have been handed down to us deserve nothing but execration. Thomas Boudin, Legros, Jean de Dieu, Berruer, Tuby, Simon Mazières — these were the men that dared to carry on the work begun by Soulas! Louis, the Due d’Orléans’ architect, who debased and ravaged the choir, and the infamous Bridan, who, to the contemptible delight of some of the Canons erected his blatant and wretched presentment of the Assumption!"

"Alas! " said the Abbé Gévresin, "and they were Canons wht thought fit to break two ancient windows in the choir and fill them with white panes, the better to light that group of Bridan’s!"

"Will you eat nothing more?" asked Madame Bayou, who, at a negative from the guests, cleared away the cheese and preserves, and brought in coffee.

"Since you are so much charmed by our Cathedral, I shall be most happy to take you over it and explain its details," said the Abbé Plomb to Durtal.

"I shall accept with pleasure, Monsieur l’Abbé, for it fairly haunts me, it possesses me — your Notre Dame! You know, no doubt, Quicherat’s theories of Gothic art?"

"Yes, and I believe them to be correct. Like him, I am convinced that if the essential character of the Romanesque is the substitution of the vaulted roof for the truss, the distinctive element and principle of the Gothic is the buttress, and not the pointed arch.

"I reserve my opinion, indeed, as to the accuracy of Quicherat’s declaration that ’the history of architecture in the middle ages is no more than the history of the struggle of architects against the thrust and weight of vaulting,’ for there is something in this art beyond material industry and a problem of practice; at the same time he is certainly right on almost every point.

"It may be added as. a general principle, that in our use of. the terms Ogee and Gothic, we are misapplying words which have lost their original meaning; since the Goths have nothing to do with the style of architecture which has taken their name, and the word ogee or ogyve, which strictly means the semicircular form, is inaccurate as applied to the arch with a double curve, which has for so long been regarded as the basis, nay, as the characteristic stamp of a style."(1)

"After all," the Abbé went on, after a short silence, "how can we judge of the works of a past age, but by such help as we may obtain from the arcades pierced in shoring walls or from vaulting on round or pointed arches? for they are all debased by centuries of repair, or left unfinished. Look at Chartres; Notre Dame was to have had nine spires, and it has but two! The cathedrals of Reims, of Paris, of Laon, and many more, were to have had spires rising from their towers; and where are they? We can form no exact idea of the effect their architects intended to produce. And then, again, these churches were meant to be seen in a setting which has been destroyed, an environment that has ceased to exist; they were surrounded by houses of a character resembling their own; they are now in the midst of barracks five stories high, gloomy, ignoble penitentiaries! — and we constantly see the ground about them cleared, when they were never intended to stand isolated on a square. Look where you will, there is a total misapprehension of the conditions in which they were placed, of the atmosphere in which they lived. Certain details, which seem to us inexplicable in some of these buildings, were, no doubt, imperatively required by the position and needs of the surroundings. In fact, we stumble, we feel our way — but we know nothing — nothing!"

"And at best," said Durtal, "archaeology and architecture have only done a secondary work; they have simply set before us the material organism, the body of the cathedrals; who shall show us the soul?"

"What do you mean by the word?" said the Abbé Gévresin.

"I am not speaking of the soul of the building at the moment when man by Divine help had created it; we know nothing of that soul — not indeed as regards Chartres, for some invaluable documents still reveal it; but of the soul of other churches, the soul they still have, and which we help to keep alive by our more or less regular presence, our more or less frequent communion, our more or less fervent prayers.

"For instance, take Notre Dame at Paris; I know that it has been restored and patched from end to end, that its sculpture is mended where it is not quite new; in spite of Hugo’s rhetoric it is second-rate, but it has its nave and its wondrous transept; it is even endowed with an ancient statue of the Virgin before which Monsieur Olier had knelt, and very often. Well, an attempt was made to revive there the worship of Our Lady, to incite a spirit of pilgrimage thither; but all is dead! That Cathedral no longer has a soul; it is an inert corpse of stone; try attending Mass there, try to approach the Holy Table-you will feel an icy cloak fall on you and crush you. Is it the result of its emptiness, of its torpid services, of the froth of runs and trills they send up there, of its being closed in a hurry in the evening and never open till so late in the morning, long after daybreak? Or has it something to do with the permitted rush of tourists, of London gapers that I have seen there talking at the top of their voice, sitting staring at the altar when the Holy Elements were being consecrated just in front of them? I know not — but of one thing I am certain, the Virgin does not inhabit there day and night and always, as she does Chartres.

"Look at Amiens, again, th its colourless windows and crude daylight, its chapels enclosed behind tall railings, its silence rarely broken by prayer, its solitude. There too is emptiness; Sand why I know not, but to me the place exhales a stale odour of Jansenism. I am not at large there, and prayer is difficult; and yet the nave is magnificent, and the sculptures in the ambulatory, finer even than those of Chartres, may be pronounced unique.

"But here, too, the soul is absent.

"It is the same with the Cathedral of Laon — bare, icebound, dead past hope; while some are in an intermediate state, dying, but not yet cold: Reims, Rouen, Dijon, Tours, and Le Mans for instance; even in these there is some refreshment; and Bourges, with its five porches opening on a long perspective of aisles, and its vast deserted spaces; or Beauvais, a melancholy fragment, having no more than a head and arms flung out in despair like an appeal for ever ignored by Heaven, have still preserved some of the aroma of olden days. Meditation is possible there; but nowhere, nowhere is there such comfort as there is here, nowhere is prayer so fervent as at Chartres!"

"Those are heaven-sent words!" cried Madame Bavoil.

"And you shall have a glass of old black currant liqueur for your pains! Yes, indeed, he is quite right-our friend is right," she went on, addressing the priests, who laughed. "Everywhere else, excepting at Notre Dame des Victoires in Paris and, more especially, Notre Dame de Fourvière at Lyon, when you go to meet Her, you wait and wait; and often enough She does not come. Whereas in our Cathedral She receives you at once, just as She is. And I have told him, told our friend, that he should attend the first morning Mass in the crypt, and he will see what a welcome our Mother gives her visitors."

"Chartres is a marvellous place," said the Abbé Gévresin, "with its two black Madonnas — Notre Dame of the Pillar, above in the body of the church, and Notre Dame de SousTerre below, in the vault over which the basilica is built. No other sanctuary, I believe, possesses the miraculous images of Mary, to say nothing of the antique relic known as the Shift. or Tunic of the Virgin."

"And what in your opinion constitutes the soul of Chartres?" asked the Abbé Plomb.

"Certainly not the souls of the citizens’ wives and the church servants that are poured out there," replied Durtal. "No, its vitality comes from the Sisterhoods, the peasant women, the pious schools, the pupils of the Seminary, and perhaps more especially from the children of the choir, who crowd to kiss the Pillar and kneel before the Black Virgin. As for the devotion of the respectable classes! It would scare away the angels!"

"With a few rare exceptions the fine flower of female Pharisaism is no doubt the outcome of that class," said the Abbé Plomb, and he added in a half jesting, half sorrowful tone,-

"And I, here at Chartres, am the distressful gardener of these souls!"

"To return to our starting point;" said the Abbé Gévresin: "what was the birthplace of the Gothic?"

"France: so Lecoy de la Marche emphatically asserts. ’The buttress made its appearance as the essential basis of a style in the early years of Louis le Gros, in the district lying between the Seine and the Aisne.’ In his opinion the first practice of this form was in the Cathedral of Laon; other authorities regard it as merely supplementary to earlier basilicas, instancing Saint-Front at Perigueux, Vezelay, Saint-Denis, Noyon, and the ancient college chapel at Poissy; but no two agree. One thing is certain, Gothic art is the art of the North; it made its way into Normandy, and from thence into England. Then it spread to the Rhine in the twelfth century, and to Spain by the beginning of the thirteenth. Gothic churches in the South are but an importation, evidently ill-assorted with the men and women who frequent them, and the merciless blue sky which spoils them."

"And observe," said Durtal, "that in our country that aspect of mysticism is discordant with the rest."

"How is that?"

"Well, you see, in the distribution of the sacred arts France received architecture only. Consider the pre-Raphaelite painters. All the early painters were Italians, Spaniards, Flemings, or Germans. Those whom some writers try to represent as our fellow-countrymen are Flemings transplanted to Burgundy, or docile Frenchmen whose imitative work bears an unmistakable Flemish stamp. Look in the Louvre at our primitive artists; look at Dijon, especially at what remains from the time when northern art was introduced by Philippe le Hardi into his own province. It is impossible to feel a doubt. Everything came from Flanders — Jean Perréal, Bourdichon, even Fouquet are whatever you please, only not the inventors of an original Gallic art.

"It is the same with the mystic writers. Of what use would it be to mention the nationalities to which they belong? They too are Spanish, Italian, German, Flemish — not one is French."

"I beg your pardon, our friend!" cried Madame Bayou, "there was the Venerable Jeanne de Matel, who was born at Roanne."

"Yes, but she was the daughter of an Italian father who was born at Florence," said the Abbé Gévresin, who, hearing the bell ring for Nones, now folded up his table napkin.

They all stood up and said grace, and Durtal made an appointment with the Abbé Plomb to visit the Cathedral. Then he went home, meditating, as he walked, on this strange division of art in the middle ages, and the supremacy given to France in architecture, when as yet she was so inferior in every other art.

"And it must be owned," he concluded, "that she has now lost this superiority; for it is long indeed since she produced an architect. The men who assume the name are mere thieving bunglers, builders devoid of all individuality and learning. They are not even able to pilfer skilfully from their precursors. What are they nowadays? Patchers up of chapels, church cobblers, botchers and blunderers!"

(1) The English use of the word Ogee is thus defined: "An arch or moulding which displays sectionally contrasted curves similar to that of the cyma reversa." FAIRHOLT, "Dict. of Terms used in Art;" and PARKER, "A Concise Glossary of Terms used in Architecture." — [Translator.]


MADAME BAVOIL was right; to understand the welcome the Virgin could bestow on Her visitors, the early Mass in the crypt must be attended; above all, the Communion should be received.

Durtal made the experiment; one day when the Abbé Gévresin enjoined on him to approach the Table, he followed the housekeeper’s advice and went to the crypt at early dawn.

The way down was by a cellar-stair lighted by a small lamp with a sputtering wick darkening the chimney with smoke; having safely reached the bottom, he turned to the left in the darkness; here and there, at an angle, a floating wick threw a ruddy light on the circuit which he made in alternate light and shade, till at last he had some notion of the general outline of the crypt. Its plan would be fairly represented by the nave of a wheel whence the spokes radiated in every direction, joining the outer circle or tyre. From the circular path in which he found himself passages diverged like the sticks of a fan, and at the end little fogged glass windows were visible, looking almost bright in the opaque blackness of the walls.

And by following the curve of the corridor, Durtal came to a green baize door which he pushed open. He found himself in the side aisle of a nave ending in a semicircle, where there was a high altar. To the right and left two little recesses formed the arms or transept of a small cross. The centre aisle, forming a low nave, had chairs on either side, leaving a narrow space to give access to the altar.

It was scarcely possible to see; the sanctuary was lighted only by tiny lamps from the roof in little saucers of lurid orange or dull gold. An extraordinarily mild atmosphere prevailed in this underground structure, which was also full of a singular perfume in which a musty odour of hot wax mingled with a suggestion of damp earth. But this was only the background, the canvas, so to speak, of the perfume, and was lost under the embroidery of fragrance which covered it, the faded gold, as it were, of oil in which long kept aromatic herbs had been steeped, and old, old incense powder dissolved. It was a weird and mysterious vapour, as strange as the crypt itself; which, with its furtive lights and breadths of shadow, was at once penitential and soothing.

Durtal went up the broader aisle to the left arm of the cross and sat down; the tiny transept had its little altar, with a Greek cross in relief against a purple disk. Overhead the enormous curve of the vaulting hung heavy, and so low that a man could touch it by stretching an arm; it was as black as the mouth of a chimney, and scorched by the fires that had consumed the cathedrals built above it.

Presently the clap-clap of sabots became audible, and then the smothered footfall of nuns; there was silence but for sneezing and nose-blowing stilled by pocket-handkerchiefs, and then all was still.

A sacristan came in through a little door opening into the other transept, and lighted the tapers on the high altar; then strings of silver-gilt hearts became visible in the semicircle all along the walls, reflecting the blaze of flames, and forming a glory for a statue of the Virgin sitting, stiff and dark, with a Child on Her knees. This was the famous Virgin of the Cavern, or rather a copy of it, for the original was burnt in 1793 in front of the great porch of the Cathedral, amid the delirious raving of sans-culottes.

A choir-boy came in, followed by an old priest; and then, for the first time, Durtal saw the Mass really as a service, and understood the wonderful beauty that lies inherent in a devout commemoration of the Sacrifice.

The boy on his knees, his soul aspiring and his hands clasped, spoke aloud and slowly, rehearsing the responses of the Psalm with such deep attention and respect, that the meaning of this noble liturgy, which has ceased to amaze us, because we are so used to hearing it stammered out in hot haste, was suddenly revealed to Durtal.

And the priest himself, unconsciously, whether he would or no, took up the child’s tone, imitating him, speaking slowly, not merely tripping the verses off the tip of his tongue, but absorbed in the words he had to repeat; and he seemed overwhelmed, as though it were his first Mass, by the grandeur of the rite of which he was to be the instrument.

In fact, Durtal heard the celebrant’s voice tremble when standing before the altar in the presence of the Father, like the Son Himself whom he represented, and imploring forgiveness for all the sins of the world which He bore on His shoulders, supported in his grief and hope by the innocence of the child whose loving care was less mature and less lively than the man’s.

And as he spoke the despairing words, "My God, my God, wherefore is my spirit heavy, and why dost Thou afflict me?" the priest was indeed the image of Jesus suffering on the hill of Calvary, but the man remained in the celebrant — the man, conscious of himself; and himself experiencing, in behoof of his personal sins and his own shortcomings, the impressions of sorrow contained in the inspired text.

Meanwhile his little acolyte had, words of comfort, bid him hope; and after repeating the Confiteor in the face of the congregation, who on their part purified their souls by the same ablution of confession, the priest with revived assurance went up the altar steps and began the Mass.

Positively, in this atmosphere of prayers crushed in by the heavy roof, Durtal, in the midst of kneeling Sisters and women, was struck with a sense as of the early Christian rite buried in the catacombs. Here were the same ecstatic tenderness, the same faith; and it was possible even to imagine some apprehension of surprise, and some eagerness to profess the faith in the face of danger. And thus, as in a vague image, this sacred cellar held the dim picture of the neophytes assembled so long since in the underground caverns of Rome.

The service proceeded before Durtal’s eyes, and he was amazed to watch the boy, who, with half closed eyes and the reserve of timid emotion, kissed the flagons of wine and of water before presenting them to the priest.

Durtal would look no more; he tried to concentrate his mind while the priest was wiping his hands, for the, only prayers he could honestly offer up to God were verses and texts repeated in an undertone.

This only had he in his favour, but this he had: that he passionately loved mysticism and the liturgy, plain-song and cathedrals. Without falsehood or self-delusion, he could in all truth exclaim, "Lord, I have loved the habitation of Thy house, and the place where Thine honour dwelleth." This was all he had to offer to the Father in expiation of his contumely and refractoriness, his errors and his falls.

"Oh! " thought he, "how could I dare to pour out the ready-made collects of which the prayer-books are full, how say to God, while addressing Him as ’Lovely Jesus,’ that lie is the beloved of my heart, that I solemnly vow never to love anything but Him, that I would die rather than ever displease Him?

"Love none but Him! — If I were a monk and alone, possibly; but living in the world! — And then who but the Saints would prefer death to the smallest sin? Why then humbug Him with these feints and grimaces?

"No," said Durtal, "apart from the personal outpourings, the secret intimacy in which we are bold to tell Him everything that comes into our head, the prayers of the liturgy alone can be uttered with impunity by any man, for it is the peculiarity of these inspirations that they adapt themselves in all ages to every state of the mind and every phase of life. And with fhe exception of the time-honoured prayers of certain Saints, which are as a rule either supplications for pity or for help, appeals to God’s mercy or laments, all other prayers sent, forth from the cold insipid sacristies of the seventeenth century, or, worse still, composed in our own day by the piety-mongers who insert in our books of prayer the pious cant of the Rue Bonaparte-all these inflated and pretentious petitions should be avoided by sinners who, in default of every other virtue, at least wish to be sincere.

"Only that wonderful child could thus address the Lord without hypocrisy," he went on, looking at the little acolyte, and understanding truly for the first time what innocent childhood meant — the little sinless soul, purely white.

The Church, which tries to find beings absolutely ingenuous and immaculate to wait upon the altar, had succeeded at Chartres in moulding souls and transforming ordinary boys on their admission to the sanctuary into exquisite angels. There must certainly be, above and besides their special training, some blessing and good-will from Our Lady, to mould these little rogues to the service, to make them so unlike others, and endow them in the middle of the nineteenth century with the fre of chastity and primitive fervour of the middle age."

The service proceeded slowly, soaking irto the abject silence of the worshippers, and the child, more reverent and attentive than ever, rang the bell; it was like a shower of sparks tinkling under the smoky vault, and the silence seemed deeper than ever behind the kneeling boy, upholding with one hand the: chasuble of the celebrant, who bowed over the altar. The Host was elevated amid the shower of silver sound; and then, above the prostrate heads, in the clear sparkle of bells, the golden tulip of a chalice flashed out till, to a final hurried peal, the gilded flower was lowered, and the prostrate worshippers looked up.

And Durtal was thinking,-

"If only He to whom we refused shelter when the Mother who bore Him was in travail, could find a loving refuge in our souls to-day! But alas! apart from these nuns, these children, these priests, and these peasant women who cherish Him so truly, how many here present are, like me, embarrassed by His presence, and at all times incapable of making ready the chamber He requires, of receiving Him in a room swept and garnished?

"Alas I to think that things are always the same, always going back to the beginning! Our souls are still the crafty synagogues who betrayed Him, and the vile Caiaphas that lurks within us rises up at the very moment when we fain would be humble and love Him while we pray! My God! My God! Would it not be better to depart than to drag myself thus, with such a bad grace, into Thy presence? For, after all, it is all very well for the Abbé Gévresin to insist that I should communicate, he is not Ihe is not in me; he does not know the wild doings in my hidden lairs, or the turmoil in my ruins. He believes it to be mere nervelessness, indolence. Alas! That is not all. There is a dryness a coldness, which are not altogether free from a certain amount of irritation and rebelliousness against the rules he insists on."

The moment of Communion was at hand. The little boy had gently thrown the white napkin back on the table the nuns and poor women and peasants went forward, all with clasped hands and bowed heads, and the child took a taper and passed in front of the priest, his eyes almost shut for fear of seeing the Host.

There was in this little creature such a glow of love and reverence that Durtal gazed with admiration and trembled with awe. Without in the least knowing why, in the midst of the darkness that fell on his soul, of the impotent and wavering feeling that thrilled it without there being any word to describe them, he felt a tide bearing him to the Saviour, and then a recoil.

The comparison was inevitably forced upon him between that child’s soul and his own. "Why, it is he, not I, who should take the Sacrament!" cried he to himself; and he crouched:here inert, his hands folded, not knowing how to decide, in a frame at once beseeching and terrified, when he felt himself gently drawn to the table and received the Sacrament. And meanwhile he was trying to collect himself, and to pray, and at the same time, at the same instant, was in the discomfort of the shuddering fears that surge up within us, and that find expression physically in a craving for air, and in that peculiar condition when the head feels as if it were empty, as if the brain had ceased to act, and all vitality was driven back on the heart, which swells to choking; when it seems, in the spiritual sense, that as energy returns so far as to allow of self-command once more, of introspection, we peer down in appalling silence into a black void.

He painfully rose and returned to his place, not without stumbling. Never, not even at Chartres, had he been able to hinder the torpor that overpowered him at the moment of receiving the Sacrament. His powers were benumbed, his faculties arrested.

In Paris, at the core of his soul, which seemed rolled up in itself like a chrysalis, there had always been a sort of restraint, an awkwardness in waiting, and in approaching Christ, and then an apathy which nothing could shake off. And this state was prolonged in a sort of cold, enveloping mist, or rather in a vacuum all round the soul, deserted and swooning on its couch.

At Chartres this state of collapse was still present, but some indulgent tenderness presently enwrapped and warmed the spirit. The soul as it recovered was no longer alone; it was encouraged and perceptibly helped by the Virgin, who revived it. And this impression, peculiar to this crypt, permeated the body too; it was no longer a feeling of suffocation for lack of air; on the contrary, it was the oppression of inflation, of over-fulness, which would be mitigated by degrees, allowing of easy breathing at last.

Durtal, comforted and relieved, rose to go. By this time the crypt had become a little lighter from the growing dawn; the passages, ending in altars backing against the windows, were still dark, as a result of the ground plan, but in the perspective of each a moving gold cross was to be seen almost distinctly, rising and falling with a priest’s back, between two pale stars twinkling one on each side above the tabernacle; while a third, lower and with redder flame, lighted up the book and the white napery.

Durtal wandered away to meditate in the Bishop’s garden, where he had permission to walk whenever he pleased.

The garden was perfectly still, with tomb-like avenues, lard poplars, and trampled lawns — half dead. There was not a flower, for the Cathedral killed everything under its shadow. Its vast deserted apse, without a statue, rose amid a flight of buttresses flung out like huge ribs inflated as it were by the breath of incessant prayer within; shade and damp always clung round the spot; in this funereal Close, where the trees were green only in proportion as they were distant from the church, lay two microscopic ponds like the mouths of two wells; one covered to the brim with yellowgreen duck-weed, the other full of brackish water of inky blackness, in which three goldfish lay as in pickle.

Durtal was fond of this neglected spot, with its reek of the grave and the salt marsh, and the mouldy smell, that earthy scent that comes up from a rotting soil of wet leaves.

He paced the alleys, where the Bishop never came, and where the children of the household, rushing about at play, destroyed the fragments of grass-plots spared by the Cathedral. Slates cracked underfoot, flung down from the roofs by the wind, and the jackdaws croaked in answer to each other across the silent park.

Durtal came out on a terrace overlooking the city, and he rested his elbows on a parapet of grey time-eaten stone, as dry as pumice and patterned with orange and sulphur-coloured lichens.

Beneath him spread a valley crowded with smoking chimneys and roofs, veiling this upper part of the town in a tangle of blue. Further down all was still and lifeless; the houses were asleep, not so far awake even as to show the transient flash of glass when a window is thrown open, nor was there such a spot of red as is often seen in a country street when an eider-down quilt hangs out to air across the bar of a balcony; everything was closed and dull and soundless; there was not even the hive-like hum that hangs over inhabited places. But for the distant rumble of a cart, the crack of a whip, the bark of a dog, all was still: it was a town asleep, a land of the dead.

And beyond the valley, on the further bank, the scene was still more sullen and silent; the plains of La Beauce stretched away as far as the eye could reach, mute and melancholy, without a smile, under a heartless sky divided by an ignoble barrack facing the Cathedral.

The dreariness of those plains, an endless level without a mound, without a tree! And you felt that even beyond the horizon they still stretched away as flat as ever; only the monotony of the landscape was emphasized by the raging fuI ry of the tempestuous winds, sweeping the hillside, leveling the tree-tops, and wreaking themselves on this basilica, which, perched on high, had for centuries defied their efforts. To uproot it the lightning had been needed to help, firing its towers, and even the combined attacks of the hurricane and the flames had been unable to destroy the original stock, which, replanted after each disaster, had always sprouted in fresh verdure with reinvigorated growth.

That morning, in the dawn of a rainy autumn day, lashed by a bitter north wind, Durtal, shivering and ill at ease, left the terrace and took refuge in the more sheltered walks, going down presently into a garden-slope where the brush-wood afforded some little protection from the wind; these shrubberies wandered at random down the hill, and an inextricable tangle of blackberries clung with the cat’s-claws of their long shoots to the saplings that were scattered about.

It was evident that since some immemorial time the, Bishops, for lack of funds, had neglected these grounds. Of all the old kitchen garden, overgrown by brambles, only one plot was more or less weeded, and rows of spinach and carrots alternated with the frcsted balls of cabbages.

Durtal sat down on a stump that had once supported a bench, and tried to look into his own soul; but he found within, look where he might, only a spiritual Beauce; it seemed to him to mirror the cold and monotonous landscape; only it was not a mighty wind that blew through his being; but a sharp, drying little blast. He knew that he was cross-grained and could not make his observations calmly; his conscience harassed him and insisted on vexatious argument.

"Pride! Ah, how is it to be kept under till the day shall come when it shall be quelled? It insinuates itself so stealthily, so noiselessly, that it has ensnared and bound me before I can suspect its presence; and my case too is somewhat peculiar, and hard to cure by the religious treatment commonly prescribed in such cases. For in fact," said he to himself, " my pride is not of the artless and overweening kind, elated, audacious, boldly displaying, and proclaiming itself to the world; no, mine is in a latent state, what was called vain-glory in the simplicity of the Middle Ages, an essence of pride diluted with vanity and evaporating within me in transient thoughts and unexpressed conceit. I have not even the opportunity afforded by swaggering pride for being on my guard and compelling myself to:eep silence. Yes, that is very true; talk leads to specious boasting and invites subtle praise; one is presently aware of it, and then, with patience and determination, it is in one’s power to check and muzzle oneself. But my vice of pride is wordless and underground; it does not come forth. I neither see nor hear it. It wriggles and creeps in without a sound, and clutches me without my having heard its approach

"And the good Abbé answers: ’Be watchful and pray;’ well, I am more than willing, but the remedy is ineffectual, for aridity and outside influences deprive it of its efficacy!

"As for outside suggestions — they never seem to come to me but in prayer. It is enough that I kneel down and try to collect my thoughts, they are at once dissipated. The mere purpose of prayer is like a stone flung into a pool; everything is stirred up and comes to the top!

"And people who have not habits of religious practice fancy that there is nothing easier than prayer. I should like to see them try. They could then bear witness that profane imaginings, which leave them in peace at all other times, always surge up unexpectedly. during prayer.

"Besides, what use is there in disputing the fact? Merely looking at a sleeping vice is enough to wake it."

And his thoughts went back to that warm crypt. " Yes, no doubt, like all the buildings of the Romanesque period, it is symbolical of the Old Testament but it is not simply gloomy and sad, for it is enveloping and comforting, warm and tender! Admitting even that it is the figure in stone of the older Dispensation, would it not seem that it symbolizes it less as a whole, than as embodying more especially a select group of the Holy Women who prefigured the Virgin in the earlier Scriptures? Is it not the expression in stone of those passages in which the illustrious women of the Bible are most conspicuous, who were, in a way, prophetic incarnations of the New Eve?

"Hence this crypt would reproduce the most consoling and the most heroic passages of the Sacred Book, for the Virgin is supreme in this underground sanctuary; it is Hers rather than the terrible Adonaï’s, if one may dare say so.

"And again, She is a very singular Virgin, who has inevitably remained in harmony with Her surroundings: a Virgin black and rugged, and stunted, like the rough-hewn shrine She inhabits.

She is therefore, no doubt, the outcome of the same idea that conceived of Christ as black and ugly because He had assumed the burthen of all the sins of the world, the Christ of the first ages of the Church, who in His humility put on the vilest aspect. In that case Mary would have conceived Her Son in Her own image; She too had chosen to be ugly and obscure, out of humility and lovingkindness, that She might the better console the disfigured and despised creatures whose image She had borrowed."

And Durtal went on:-

"What a crypt is this where, in the course of so many centuries, kings and queens have come to worship!

"Philip Augustus and Isabella of Hainaut, Blanche of Castile and Saint Louis, Philippe de Valois, Jean le Bon, Charles V., Charles VI., Charles VII., Charles VIII. and Anne de Bretagne; then François I., Henri III. and Louise de Vaudemont, Catherine de’ Medici; Henri IV., who was crowned in this Cathedral, Anne of Austria, Louis XIV., Maria Leczinska, and so many others-all the nobility of France; and Ferdinand of Spain, and Leon de Lusignan, the last King of Armenia, and Pierre de Courtenay, Emperor of Constantinople-all kneeling like the poor folks of to-day, and like them beseeching Notre Dame de Sous-Terre."

And what was more interesting still was that the Virgin had wrought many miracles on this spot. She had saved children who had fallen into the well of the Strong Saints, had preserved the guardians who had charge of the relic of Her garment when the edifice was blazing above them, and had cured crowds, half maddened’ by the Burning plague in the Middle Ages, shedding Her benefits with a lavish hand.

Times were changed indeed, but fervent worshippers had knelt before the Image, had relinked the bonds broken in the course of years, had, so to speak, recaptured the Virgin in a net of prayer; and so, instead of departing, as She had done elsewhere, She had remained at Chartres.

By some incredible effect of clemency She had endured the insult of the tenth-day festivals and the outrage of seeing the Goddess of Reason installed in her place on the altar, had suffered the infamous liturgy of obscene canticles rising with the thundering incense of gunpowder. And She had forgiven it all, no doubt for the sake of the love shown Her by preceding generations, and the awed, but real affection of the humble believers who had come back to Her when the storm was over.

This cavern was crowded with memories. The coating of those walls had been formed of the vapours of the soul, of the exhalations of accumulated desires and regrets, even more than of the smoke of tapers; how foolish it was then to have painted this crypt in squalid mutation of the catacombs, to have defaced the glorious darkness of these stones with colours which were indeed fast vanishing, leaving only traces as of palette scrapings in the consecrated soot on the roof!

Durtal was expatiating on these reflections as he went out of the garden, when he met the Abbé Gévresin walking along and reading his breviary. He asked whether Durtal had taken the Sacrament. And perceiving that his penitent always came back to his shame of the inert and torpid grief that came over him in contemplation of the Holy Sacrament, the old priest said to him,-

"That is no concern of yours; all you have to do is to pray to the best of your power. The rest is my concern— if the far from triumphant state of your soul only makes you little humble, that is all I ask of you."

"Humble! I am like a water cooler; my vanity sweats it at every pore as the water oozes from the clay."

"It is some consolation to me that you perceive it," said the Abbé, smiling. "It would be far worse if you did not know yourself, if you were so proud as to believe that you had no pride."

"But how then am I to set to work? You advise me to pray; but teach me at least how not to dissipate myself in every direction, for as soon as I try to collect myself I go to pieces; I live in a perpetual state of dissolution. It is like thing arranged on purpose; as soon as I try to shut the cage all my thoughts fly off — they deafen me with their chirping."

The Abbé was thinking.

"I know," said he; "nothing is more difficult than to free the spirit from the images that take possession of it. Still, and in spite of all, you may achieve concentration of mind if you observe these three rules:

"In the first place you must humble yourself, by owning the frailty of your mind, unable to preserve itself from wandering in the presence of God; next you must not be impatient or restless, for that would only stir up the dregs and bring other objects of frivolity to the surface; finally, it is well not to investigate the nature of the distractions that trouble your prayers till they are over. This only prolongs the disturbance, and in a way recognizes its existence. You thus run the risk, in virtue of the law of association of ideas, of inviting new diversions, and there would be no way of escape.

"After prayer you may examine yourself with benefit; follow my advice, and you will find the advai:tage of it."

"That is all very fine," thought Durtal, "but when it comes to putting the advice into practice it is quite another thing. Are not these mere old women’s remedies, precious ointments, quack medicines, for which the pious and virtuous have a weakness? "

They walked on in silence across the forecourt of the palace to the priest’s rooms. As they went in, they found Madame Bayou at the foot of the ’stairs, her arms in a tub full of soap-suds. As she rubbed the clothes, she turned to look at Durtal, and, as if she could read his thoughts, she mildly asked,-

"Why, our friend, wear such a graveyard face when you took the Sacrament this morning?

"So you heard I had been to Communion?"

"Yes, I went into the crypt while Mass was going forward, and saw you go up to the Holy Table. Well, shall I tell you the truth? You do not know how to address our Holy Mother."


"No. You are shy when She is doing her best to put you at your ease; you creep close to the wall when you ought to walk boldly up the middle aisle to face Her. That is not the way to approach Her!"

"But if I have nothing to say to Her?"

"Then you simply chatter to Her like a child; some pretty speech, and She is satisfied. Oh, these men! How little they know how to pay their court, how greatly they lack little coaxing ways, and even honest artfulness! If you can invent nothing on your own part, borrow from another. Repeat after the Venerable Jeanne de Matel:

"’Holy Virgin, this abyss of iniquity and vileness invokes the abyss of strength and splendour to praise Thy preeminent Glory.’ Well, is that pretty well eapressed, our friend? Try; recite that to Our Lady and She will unbind you; then prayer will come of itself. Such little ways are permitted by Her, and we must be humble enough not to presume to do without them." Durtal could not help laughing.

"You want me to become a trickster, a sneak in spiritual life! " said he.

"Well, where would be the harm? Does not the Lord know when we mean well? Does not He take note of our intentions? Would you, yourself, repulse anyone who paid you a compliment, however clumsily, if you thought he meant to please you by it? No, of course not."

"Here is another thing," said the Abbé, laughing. "Madame Bavoil, I saw Monseigneur this morning; he grants your petition and authorizes you to dig in as many parts of the garden as you choose."

"Aha!" and amused by Durtal’s surprise she went on:

"You must have seen for yourself that excepting a little plot of ground where the gardener plants a few carrots and cabbages for the Bishop’s table, the whole of the garden is left to run wild; it is sheer waste and of no use to anybody. Now instead of buying vegetables, I mean to grow some, since Monseigneur gives me leave to turn over its ground, and by the same token I will give some to your housekeeper."

"Thank you. Then do you understand gardening?"

"I? Why, am I not a peasant? I have lived in the country all my life, and a kitchen garden is just my business! Besides, if I were in difficulties, would not my Friends Above come to advise me?"

"You are a wonderful woman, Madame Bavoil," said Durtal, somewhat disconcerted in spite of himself by the answers of a cook who so calmly asserted that she was on intimate terms with the divine Beyond.