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.


"HOW many worshippers can the Cathedral contain? Well, nearly 18,000," said the Abbé Plomb. "But I need hardly tell you, I suppose, that it is never full; that even during the season for pilgrimages the vast crowds of Medival times never assemble here. Ah, no! Chartres is not exactly what you would call a pious town!"

"It strikes me as indifferent to religion, to say the least, if not actually hostile," said the Abbé Gévresin.

"The citizen of Chartres is money-getting, apathetic, and salacious," replied the Abbé Plomb. "Above all, greedy of money, for the passion for lucre is fierce here, under an inert surface. Really, from my own experience, I pity the young priest who is sent as a beginner to evangelize la Beauce.

"He arrives full of illusions, dreaming of Apostolic triumphs, burning to devote himself-and he drops into silence and the void. If he were but persecuted he would feel himself alive; but he is met, not with abuse, but with a smile, which is far worse; and at once he becomes aware, of the futility of all he can do, of the aimlessness of his efforts, and he is discouraged.

"The clergy here are, it may be said, admirable, composed of good and saintly priests; but they vegetate, torpid with inaction; they neither read nor work; their joints become ankylose; they die of weariness in this provincial spot."

"You do not!" exclaimed Durtal, laughing; "for you make work. Did you not tell me that you especially devote yourself to ladies who can still condescend to take an interest in Our Lord in this town?"

"Your satire is scathing," replied the Abbé. "I can assure you that if I had serving-women and the peasant girls to deal with, I should not complain; for in simple souls there are qualities and virtues and a responsive spring, but not in the commercial or the richer classes! You cannot imagine what those women are. If only they attend Mass on Sunday and perform their Easter duties they think they may do anything and everything; and thenceforth their one idea is not so much to avoid offending the Saviour as to disarm Him by mean subterfuges. They speak ill of their neighbour, injuring him cruelly, refusing him all help and pity, and they make excuses for themselves as though these were mere venial faults; but as to eating meat on a Friday! That is quite another thing; they are persuaded that this is the unpardonable sin. To them their stomach is the Holy Ghost; consequently, the great point is to tack and veer round that particular sin, never to commit while only just avoiding it, and not depriving themselves in the least. What eloquence they will pour out on me to convince me of the penitential quality of water-fowl.

"During Lent they are possessed with the idea of giving dinners, and rack their brains to provide a lenten meal in which there is no meat, though it would be supposed that there was; and then come interminable discussions as to teal, wild duck, and cold-blooded birds. They should consult a naturalist and not a priest on such cases of conscience.

"As to Holy Week, that is another affair; the mania for water-birds gives way to a hankering for the Charlotte Russe. May they, without offence to God, enjoy a Charlotte? There are eggs in it, to be sure, but so whipped and scourged that the dish is almost ascetic culinary explanations are poured into my ear, the confessional becomes a kitchen, and the priest might be a master-cook.

"But as to the general sin of greediness, they hardly admit that they are guilty of it. Is it not so, my dear colleague?"

The Abbé Gévresin nodded assent. "They are indeed hollow souls," said he, "and what is more, impenetrable. They are sealed against every generous idea, regarding the intercourse they hold with the Redeemer as beseeming their rank and in good style; but they never seek to know Him more nearly, and restrict themselves, of deliberate purpose, to calls of politeness."

"Such visits as we pay to an aged parent on New Year’s Day," said Durtal.

"No, at Easter," corrected Madame Bavoil.

"And among these Fair Penitents," the Abbé Plomb went on, "we have that terrible variety, the wife of the Député who votes on the wrong side, and to his wife’s objurgations retorts: ’Why, I am at heart a better Christian than you are!’

"Invariably and every time, she repeats the list of her husband’s private virtues, and deplores his conduct as a public man; and, this history, which is never ending, always leads up to the praises she awards herself, almost to requiring us to apologize for all the annoyance the Church occasions her."

The Abbé Gévresin smiled, and said,-

"When I was in Paris, attached to one of the parishes on the left bank of the Seine, in which there is a huge draper’s and fancy shop, I had to deal with a very curious class of women. Especially on days when there was a great show of cotton and linen goods, or a sale of bankrupt stock, there was a perfect rush of well-dressed women to the confessional. These people lived on the other side of the water; they had come to that part of the town to buy bargains, and finding the departments of the shop too full, no doubt, they meant to wait till the crowd should be thinner, to make their selection in comfort; so then, not knowing what to be doing, they took refuge in the church, and, tortured by the need for speech, they asked for the priest whose turn it was to attend, and to justify themselves, chattered in the confessional as if it had been a drawingroom, merely to kill time."

"Not being able to go to a café like a man, they go to church," said Durtal.

"Unless it is," said Madame Bavoil, "that they would rather confide to an unknown priest the sins it would pain them to confess to their own director."

"At any rate, this is a new light on things: the influence of big shops on the tribunal of penance!" exclaimed Durtal.

"And of railway stations," added the Abbé Gévresin.

"How of railway stations?"

"Yes, I assure you that churches situated near railway stations have a special following of women on their journeys. There it is that our dear Madame Bavoil’s shrewd remark finds justification. Many a country-woman who has the Curé of her own parish to dinner dares not tell him the tale of her adultery, because he could too easily guess the name of her lover, and because the propinquity of a priest living on intimate terms in her house would be inconvenient; so she takes advantage of an excursion to Paris to open her heart to another confessor who does not know her. As a general rule, when a woman speaks ill of her Curé, and begins the tale of her confession by explaining that he is dull, uneducated, unsympathetic in understanding and guiding souls, you may be certain that a confession is coming of sin against the sixth (seventh) Commandment."

"Well, well; the people who flutter around the Lord are cool hands!" exclaimed Madame Bavoil.

"They are unhappy creatures, who try to strike a balance between their duties and their vices.

"But enough of this; let us turn to something more immediate. Have you brought us the article on the Angelico, as you promised? Read it to us."

Durtal brought out of his pocket the manuscript he had finished, which was to be posted that evening to Paris.

He seated himself in one of the straw-bottomed arm-chairs in the middle of the room where they were sitting with the Abbé Gévresin, and began:-


By Fra Angelico. In the Louvre.

The general arrangement of this picture reminds the spectator of the tree of Jesse, of which the branches, supporting a human figure on every twig, spread fan-like as they rise on each side of a throne, while at the top, on a single stem, the radiant beauty of a Virgin is the crowning blossom.

In Fra Angelico’s ’Coronation of the Virgin,’ to the right and left of the isolated knoll on which Christ sits under a carved stone canopy, placing the crown He holds with both hands on His Mother’s bowed head, we see a perfect espalier of Apostles, Saints, and Patriarchs, rising in close and crowded ramification at the lower part of the panel, to burst into a luxuriant blossoming of angels relieved against the blue sky, their heads in a sunshine of glories.

The arrangement of the persons represented is as follows:-

At the foot of the throne, under the gothic canopy — to the left, Saint Nicholas of Myra kneels in prayer, wearing his mitre and clasping his crozier, from which the maniple hangs like a folded banner; Saint Louis the King with a crown of fleurs de lys; the monastic saints; St. Antony, St. Benedict, St. Francis, St. Thomas, who holds an open book in which we read the first lines of the Te Deum, St. Dominic holding a lily, St. Augustine with a pen. Then, going upwards, St Mark and St. John carrying their gospels, St. Bartholomew showing the knife with which he was flayed; and higher still the lawgiver Moses, ending in the serried ranks of angels against the azure firmament, each head circled with a golden nimbus.

On the right, below, by the side of a monk whose back only is seen — possibly St. Bernard — Mary Magdalene is on her knees with a vase of spices by her side, robed in vermilion; behind her come St. Cecilia, crowned with roses, St. Clara or St. Catherine of Sienna, in a blue hood, patterned with stars, St. Catherine of Alexandria, leaning on her wheel of martyrdom, St. Agnes, cherishing a lamb in her arms, St. Ursula flinging an arrow, and others whose names are unknown; all female saints, facing the Bishop, the King, the Recluses, and the founders of Orders. By the steps of the throne are St. Stephen, with the green palm of martyrdom, St. Lawrence, with his gridiron, St. George, wearing a breastplate, and on his head a helmet, St. Peter the Dominican recognizable by his split skull; and yet further up St. Matthew, St. Philip, St. James the Greater, St. Jude, St. Paul, St. Matthias, and King David. Finally, opposite the angels on the left .a group of angels, whose faces, set in gold discs, are relieved against the pure ultramarine background.

In spite of injury from the restorations it has endured, this panel, with its stamped and diapered gold, is splendid in the freshness of its colours, laid on with white of egg.

As a whole, it represented, so to speak, a stairway for the eye, a circular stair of two flights, in steps of glorious blue hung with gold.

The lowest to the left is seen in the blue mantle of Saint Louis, and others lead up through a glimpse of blue drapery, the robe of St. John, and then, higher still before reaching the blue expanse of the sky, the robe of the first angel.

The first on the right is the mantle of St. Cecilia; others are the bodice of St. Agnes, St. Stephen’s robe, a prophet’s tunic; and above these, before reaching the lapis-lazuli border of sky, the robe of the first angel.

Thus blue, which is the predominating colour in the whole, is regularly piled up in steps and spaced almost identically on the opposite sides of the throne. This azure hue of the draperies, their folds faintly indicated with white, is extraordinarily serene, indescribably innocent. This it is which gives the work its soul of colour — this blue, helped out by the gold which gleams round the heads, runs or twines on the black robes of the monks; in Y’s on those of St. Thomas; in suns, or rather in radiating chrysanthemums, on those of St. Antony and St. Benedict; in stars on St. Clara’s hood; in filagree embroidery in the letters of their names, in brooches and medallions on the bodices of the other female saints.

At the very bottom of the picture a splash of gorgeous red — the Magdalen’s robe — that finds an echo in the flame. colour of one of the steps of the throne, and reappears here and there, but softened in fragmentary glimpses of drapery, or smothered under a running pattern of gold (as in St. Augustine’s cope) serves as a spring-board, as it were, to start the whole stupendous harmony.

The other colours seem to fill no part, but that of necessary stop-gaps, indispensable supports. They are too, for the most part, common and ugly to a degree that is most puzzling. Look at the greens: they range from boiled endive to olive, ending in the absolute hideousness of two steps of the throne which lie across the picture-two bars, two streaks of spinach dipped in tawny mud. The only tolerable green of them all is that of St. Agnes’ mantle, a Parrnigiano green, rich in yellow, and made still richer by the lining which affords the pleasing adjunct of orange.

On the other hand, consider this blue which Angelico uses so sumptuously in his celestial tones; when he makes it darker it loses its fulness, and looks almost dull: we see this in St. Clara’s hood.

But what is yet more amazing is that this painter, so eloquent in blue, is but a stammerer when he makes use of the other angelic hue — rose-pink. In his hands it is neither subtle nor ingenuous; it is opaque, of the colour of blood thinned with water, or of pink sticking-plaister, excepting when it trends on the hue of wine-lees, like that of the Saviour’s sleeves.

And it is heaviest of all in the saints’ cheeks. It looks glazed, like the surface of pie-crust; it has the quality of raspberry syrup drowned in white of egg.

These are in the main the only colours used by Angelico. A magnificent blue for the sky and another vile blue, white, brilliant red, melancholy pinks, a light green, dark greens, and gold. No bright yellow like everlastings, no luminous straw-colour; at most a heavy opaque yellow for the hair of his female saints; no truly bold orange, no violet, either tender or strong, unless in the half-hidden lining of a cloak or in the scarcely visible robe of a saint, cut off by the frame; no brown that does not lurk in the background. His palette, as may be seen, is very limited.

And it is symbolical, if we consider it. He has undoubtedly done in his hues what he has done in the arrangement of the work. His picture is a hymn to Chastity, and round the central group of Christ and His Mother he has placed in ranks the Saints who best concentrated this virtue on earth. St. John the Baptist, beheaded for the bounding impurity of an Herodias; St. George, who saved a virgin from the emblematic Dragon; such saints as St. Agnes, St. Clara, and St. Ursula; the heads of the Orders — St. Benedict and St. Francis; a king like St. Louis, and a bishop like St. Nicholas of Myra, who hindered the prostitution of three young girls whom a starving father was fain to sell. Everything, down to the smallest details, from the attributes of the persons represented to the steps of the throne, of which the number is nine — that of the choirs of angels — everything in this picture is symbolical.

It is permissible therefore to assume that he selected his colours for their allegorical signification.

White: the symbol of the Supreme Being, and of absolute Truth, and employed by the Church in its adornments for the festival of our Lord and the Virgin because it signifies Goodness, Virginity, Charity, and is the splendour, the emblem of Divine Wisdom when it is enhanced to the pure radiance of silver.

Blue: because it symbolizes Chastity, Innocence, and Guilelessness.

Red: which is the colour adopted for the offices of the Holy Ghost and of the Passion; the garb of Charity, Suffering and Love.

Rose-pink; the Love of Eternal Wisdom, and, as Saint Mechtildis teaches, the anguish and torments of Christ.

Green: used liturgically at Seasons of Pilgrimage, and which seems to be the colour preferred by the Benedictine Sisterhood, interpreting it as meaning freshness of soul and perennial sap; the green which, in the hermeneutics of colour, expresses the hopes of the regenerated creature, the yearning for final repose, and which is likewise the mark of humility, according to the Anonymous English writer of the thirteenth century, and of contemplation, according to Durand of Mende.

On the other hand, Angelico has intentionally refrained from introducing the hues which are emblematic of vices, excepting of course those adopted for the garb of the Monastic Orders, which altogether changes their meaning.

Black: the colour of error and the void, the seal of death, and, according to Sister Emmerich, the image of profaned and wasted gifts.

Brown: which, as the same Sister tells us, is synonymous with agitation, barrenness and dryness of the spirit, and neglect of duty; brown; which being composed of black and red — smoke darkening the sacred fire — is Satanic.

Grey: the ashes of penance, the symbol of tribulation, according to the Bishop of Mende, the sign of half-mourning formerly used in the Paris ritual instead of violet in Lent. The mingling of white and black, of virtue and vice, of joy and grief, the mirror of the soul that is neither good nor evil, the medium being, the lukewarm creature that God spueth out, grey can only rise by the infusion of a little purity, a little blue; but can, when thus converted to pearl grey, become a pious hue, and attempt a step towards Heaven, an advance in the lower paths of Mysticism.

Yellow: considered by Sister Emmerich as the colour of idleness, of a horror of suffering, and often given to Judas in mediaeval times, is significant of treason and envy.

Orange: of which Frédric Portal speaks as the revelation of Divine Love, the communion of God with man, mingling the blood of Love to the sinful hue of yellow, may be taken to bear a worse meaning with the idea of falsehood and torment; and, especially when it verges on red, expresses the defeat of a soul over-ridden by its sins, hatred of Love, contempt of Grace, the end of all things.

Dead leaf colour: speaking of moral degradation, spiritual death, the hopefulness of green for ever extinct.

Finally, violet: adopted by the Church for the Sundays in Advent and in Lent, and for penitential services. It was the colour of the mortuary-shroud of the kings of France; during the Middle Ages it was the attribute of mourning, and it is at all times the melancholy garb of the exorcist.

What is certainly far less easy to explain is the limited variety of countenance the painter has chosen to adopt. Here symbolism is of no use. Look, for instance, at the men. The Patriarchs with their bearded faces do not show us the almost translucent texture, as of the sacramental wafer, in which the bones show through the dry and diaphanous parchment-like skin, or like the seeds of the cruciferous flower called Monnaie du Pape (honesty); they have all regular and pleasant faces, are all healthy, full-blooded personages, attentive and devout. His monks too have round faces and rosy cheeks; not one of his Saints looks like a. Recluse of the Desert overcome by fasting, or has the exhausted emaciation of an ascetic; they are all vaguely, alike, with the same solidity and the same complexion. In fact, as we see them in this picture, they are a contented colony of excellent people.

At least, so they appear at a first glance.

The women, too, are all of one family; sisters more or less exactly alike; all fair and rosy, with light snuff-coloured eyes, heavy eyelids, and round faces; they form a train of rather an insipid type round the Virgin with her long nose and bird-like head kneeling at the feet of Christ.

Altogether, among all these figures we find scarcely four distinct types, if we take into consideration their more or less advanced years and the modifications resulting from the arrangement of their hair, their being bearded or shaven, and the pose of the head, front face or profile, which distinguishes them.

The only groups which are not of an almost uniform stamp are the angels, sexless youths for ever charming. They are of matchless purity, of a more than human innocence in their blue and rose-pink and green robes sprigged with gold, with their yellow or red hair, at once aerial and heavy, their chastely downcast eyes, and flesh as white as pith. Grave, but in ecstasy, they play on the harp or the theorbo, on the Viol d’Amore or the rebeck, singing, the eternal glory of the most Holy Mother.

Thus, on the whole, the types used by Angelica, are not less restricted than his colours.

But then, in spite of the exquisite array of angels, is this picture monotonous and dull? Is this much-talked-of work over-praised?

No, for this Coronation of theVirgin is a masterpiece, and superior to all that enthusiasm can say about it; indeed, it outstrips painting and soars through realms which the mystics of the brush had never penetrated.

Here we have not a mere manual effort, however admirable; this is not merely a spiritual and truly religious picture such as Roger van der Weyden and Quentin Matsys could create; it is quite another thing. With Angelico an unknown being appears on the scene, the soul of a mystic that has entered on the contemplative life, and breathes it on the canvas as on a perfect mirror. It is the soul of a marvellous monk that we see, of a saint, embodied on this coloured mirror, exhaled in a painted creation. And we can measure how far that soul had advanced on the path of perfection from the work that reflects it.

He carries his angels and his saints up to the Unifying Life, the supreme height of Mysticism. There the weariness of their dolorous ascent is no more; there is the plenitude of tranquil joy, the peace of man made one with God. Angelico is the painter of the soul immersed in God, the painter of his own spirit.

None but a monk could attempt such paintings. Matsys, Memling, Dierck Bouts, Roger van der Weyden were no doubt sincere and pious worthies. They gave their work a reflection of Heaven; they too reflected their own soul in the faces they depicted; but though they gave them a wonderful stamp of art, they could only infuse into them the semblance of the soul beginning the practice of Christian asceticism; they could only represent men still detained, like themselves, in the outer chambers of those Castles of the Soul of which Saint Theresa speaks, and not in the Hall where, in the centre, Christ sits and sheds His glory.

They were, in my opinion, greater and keener observers, more learned and more skilful, even better painters than Angelico; but their heart was in their craft, they lived in the world, they often could not resist giving their Virgins fine-lady airs, they were hampered by earthly reminiscences, they could not rise in their work above the trammels of daily life; in short, they were and remained men. They were admirable; they gave utterance to the promptings of ardent faith; but they had not had the specific culture which is practised only in the silence and peace of the cloister. Hence they could not cross the threshold of the seraphic realm where roamed the guileless being who never opened his eyes, closed in prayer, excepting to paint — the monk who had never looked out on the world, who had seen only within himself.

And what we know of his life is worthy of this work. He was a humble and tender recluse, who always prayed or ever he took up his brush, and could not draw the Crucifixion without melting into tears.

Through the veil of his tears his angelic vision poured itself out in the light of ecstasy, and he created beings that had but the semblance of human creatures, the earthly husk of our existence, beings whose souls soared already far from their prison of flesh. Study his picture attentively, and see how the incomprehensible miracle works of such a sublimated state of mind.

The types chosen for the Apostles and Saints are, as we have said, quite ordinary. But gaze firmly at the countenances of these men, and you will see how little they really take in of the scene before them. Whatever attitude the painter may have given them, they are all absorbed into themselves; they behold the scene, not with the eyes of the body, but with the eyes of the soul. Each is looking into himself. Jesus dwells in them, and they can gaze on Him better in their inmost heart than on His throne.

It is the same with his female Saints. I have said that they are insignificant looking, and it is true; but how their features, too, are transfigured and effaccd under the Divine touch! They are drowned in adoration, and spring buoyant, though motionless, to meet the Heavenly Spouse. Only one remains but half escaped from her material shell Saint Catherine of Alexandria, who, with upturned eyes of a brackish green, is neither as simple nor as innocent as her sisters; she still sees the form of man in Christ; she still is a woman; she is, if one may so, the sin of the work.

Still, all these spiritual degrees clothed in human figures are but the accessories of this picture. They are placed there, in the august assumption of gold and the chaste ascending scale of blue, to lead by a stair of pure joy to the sublime platform whereon we see the group of the Saviour and the Virgin.

And here, in the presence of the Mother and Son, the ecstatic painter overflows. One could imagine that the Lord had merged into him, and transported him beyond the life of sense, love and chastity are so perfectly personified in the group above all the means of expression at the command of man.

No words could express the reverent tenderness, the anxious affection, the filial and paternal love of the Christ, who smiles as He crowns His Mother; and She is yet more incomparable. Here the words of adulation are too weak; the invisible is made visible by the sacramental use of colour and line. A feeling of infinite deference, of intense but reserved adoration, flows and spreads about this Virgin, who, with Her arms crossed over Her bosom, bends Her little dove-like head, with downcast eyes and a rather long nose, under a veil. She resembles the Apostle St. John who is just behind her, and might be his daughter; and she is enigmatic; for that soft, delicate face, which in the hands of any other painter would be merely charming and trivial, breathes out the purest innocence. She is not even flesh and blood; the material that clothes Her swells softly with the breath of the fluid that shapes it. Mary is a living but a volatilized and glorious body.

We can understand certain ideas of the Abbess of Agréda who declares that She was exempt from the defilements inflicted on women; we see what St. Thomas meant who asserted that Her beauty purified instead of agitating the senses.

Her age is indeterminate; She is not a woman, yet She is no longer a child. It is hard to say even that She is grown up, just marriageable, a girl-child, so entirely is She refined above all humanity, beyond the world, so exquisitely pure and for ever chaste.

She remains incomparable, unapproached in painting. By Her, other Madonnas are vulgar; they are in every case women; She alone is the white stem of the divine Ear of corn, the Wheat of the Eucharist. She alone is indeed the Immaculate, the Regina Virginum of the hymns; and She is so youthful, so guileless, that the Son seems to be crowning His Mother before She can have conceived Him.

It is in this that we see the glory of the gentle Friar’s superhuman genius. He painted as others have spoken, inspired by Grace; he painted what he saw within him just as St. Angela of Foligno related what she heard within her. Both one and the other were mystics absorbed into God; thus this picture by Angelico is at the same time a picture by the Holy Ghost, bolted through a purified sieve of art.

If we consider it, this soul is that of a female saint rather than of a monk. Turn to his other pictures; those, for instance, in which he strove to depict Christ’s Passion; we are not looking at the stormy scene represented by Matsys or Grünewald; he has none of their harsh manliness, nor their gloomy energy, nor their tragic turbulence; he only weeps with the uncomforted grief of a woman. He is a Sister rather than a Friar-artist; and it is from this loving sensibility, which in the mystic vocation is more generally peculiar to women, that he has drawn the pathetic orisons and tender lamentation of his works.

And was it not iso in this spiritual nature, so womanly in its complexion, that he found, under the impulse of the Spirit, the wholly angelical gladness, the really glorious apotheosis of Our Lord and His Mother, as he has painted them in this Coronation of the Virgin, which, after being revered for centuries in the Dominican Church at Fiesole, has now found shelter and admiration in the little gallery devoted to the Italian School at the Louvre.

"Your article is very good," said the Abbe Plomb. "But can the principles of a ritual of colour which you have discerned in Angelico be verified with equal strictness in other painters?"

"No, if we look for colour as Angelico received it from his monastic forefathers, the illuminators of Missals, or as he applied it in its strictest and most usual acceptation. Yes, if we admit the law of antagonism, the rules of inversion, and if we know that symbolism authorizes the system of contraries, allowing the use of the hues which are appropriated to certain virtues to indicate the vices opposed to them."

"In a word, an innocent colour may be interpreted in an evil sense, and vice versa," said the Abbe Gévresin.

"Precisely. In fact, artists who, though pious, were laymen, spoke a different language from the monks. On emerging from the cloister the liturgical meaning of colours was weakened; it lost its original rigidity and became pliant. Angelico followed the traditions of his Order to the letter, and he was not less scrupulous in his respect for the observances of religious art which prevailed in his day. Not for anything on earth would he have infringed them, for he regarded them as a liturgical duty, a fixed rule of service. But as soon as profane painters had emancipated the domain of painting, they gave us more puzzling versions, more complicated meanings; and the symbolism of colour, which is so simple in Angelico, became singularly abstruse — supposing that they even were constantly faithful to it in their works — and almost impossible to interpret.

"For instance, to select an example: the Antwerp gallery possesses a tryptich, by Roger van der Werden, known as ’The Sacraments.’ In the centre panel, devoted to the Eucharist, the Sacrifice of the Redeemer is shown under two aspects, the bleeding form of the Crucifixion and the mystic form of the pure oblation on the altar; behind the Cross, at the foot of which we see the weeping Mary, Saint John and the Holy Women, a priest is celebrating Mass and elevating the Host in the midst of a cathedral which forms the background of the picture.

"On the left-hand shutter, the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Penance are shown, in small detached scenes; and on the right-hand shutter those of Ordination, Marriage and Extreme Unction.

"This picture, a work of marvellous beauty, with the ’Descent from the Cross’ by Quentin Matsys, are the inestimable glory of the Belgium gallery; but I will not linger over a full description of this work I will omit any reflection suggested by the supreme art of the painter, and restrict myself to recording that part of the work which bears on the symbolism of colour."

"But are you sure that Roger van der Weyden intended to ascribe such meanings to the colours?"

"It is impossible to doubt it, for he has assigned a different hue to each Sacrament, by introducing above the scenes he depicts, an angel whose robe is in each instance different in accordance with the ceremony set forth. His meaning therefore is beyond question; and these are the colours he affects to the means of Grace consecrated by the Saviour:

"To the Eucharist, green; to Baptism, white; to Confirmation, yellow; to Penance, red; to Ordination, purple to Marriage blue; to Extreme Unction, a violet so deep as to be almost black.

"Well, you will admit that the interpretation of this sacred scheme of colour is not altogether easy.

"The pictorial imagery of Baptism, Extreme Unction, and Ordination is quite clear; Marriage even as symbolized by blue may be intelligible to simple souls; that Communion should blazon its coat with yen, is even more appropriate, since green represents sap and humility, and is emblematical of the regenerative power. But ought not Confession to display violet rather than red; and how, in any case, are we to account for Confirmation being figured in yellow?"

"The colour of the Holy Ghost is certainly red," remarked the Abbé Plomb.

"Thus there are differences of interpretation between Angelico and Roger van der Weyden, though they lived at the same time. Still, the monk seems to me the more trustworthy authority."

"For my part," said the Abbe Gévresin, "I cannot but think of the right side of the lining of which you were speaking just now."

"This rule of contraries is not peculiar to the ritual of colour; it is to be seen in almost every part of the science of symbolism. Look at the emblems derived from the animal world; the eagle alternately figuring Christ and the Devil; the snake which, while it is one of the most familiar symbols of the Demon, may nevertheless, as in the brazen serpent of Moses, prefigure the Saviour."

"The anticipatory symbol of Christian symbolism was the double-faced Janus of the heathen world," said the Abbe Plomb, laughing.

"Indeed, these allegories of the palette turn completely to the right-about," said Durtal. " Take red, for instance we have seen that in the general acceptation it is to be interpreted as meaning charity, endurance, and love. This is the right side out; the wrong side, according to Sister Emmerich, is dulness, and clinging to this world’s goods.

"Grey, the emblem of repentance and sorrow, and at the same time the image of a lukewarm soul, is also, according to another interpretation, symbolical of the Resurrection — white, piercing through blackness — light entering into the Tomb and coming out as a new hue — grey, a mixed colour still heavy with the gloom of death, but reviving as it gets light by degrees from the whiteness of day.

"Green, to which the mystics gave favourable meanings, also acquires a disastrous sense in some cases; it then represents moral degradation and despair; it borrows melancholy significance from dead leaves, is the colour given to the bodies of the devils in Stephan Lochner’s Last Judgment, and in the infernal scenes depicted in the glass windows and pictures of the earliest artists.

"Black and brown, with their inimical suggestions of death and hell, change their meaning as soon as the founders of religious Orders adopt them for the garb of the cloister. Black then symbolizes renunciation, repentance, the mortification of the flesh, according to Durand de Mende; and brown and even grey suggest poverty and humility.

"Yellow again, so misprized in the formulas of symbolism, becomes significant of charity; and if we accept the teaching of the English monk who wrote in about 1220, yellow is enhanced when it changes to gold, rising to be the symbol of divine Love, the radiant allegory of eternal Wisdom.

"Violet, finally, when it appears as the distinctive colour of prelates, divests itself of its usual meaning of self-accusation and mourning, to assume a certain dignity and simulate a certain pomp.

"On the whole, I find only white and blue which never change."

"In the Middle Ages, according to Yves de Chartres," said the Abbe Plomb, "blue took the place of violet in the vestments of bishops, to show them that they should give their minds rather to the things of Heaven than to the things of earth."

"And how is it," asked Madame Bavoil, "that this colour, which is all innocence, all purity, the colour of Our Mother Herself, has disappeared from among the liturgical hues?"

"Blue was used in the Middle Ages for all the services to the Virgin, and it has only fallen into desuetude since the eighteenth century," replied the Abbe Plomb; "and that only in the Latin Church, for the orthodox Churches of the East still wear it."

"And why this neglect?"

"I do not know, any more than I know why so many colours formerly used in our services have been forgotten. Where are the colours of the ancient Paris use saffron yellow, reserved for the festival of All Angels; salmon pink, sometimes worn instead of red; ashen grey, which took the place of violet; and bistre instead of black on certain days.

"Then there was a charming hue which still holds its place in the scale of colour used in the Roman ritual, though most of the Churches overlook it — the shade called ’old rose,’ a medium between violet and crimson, between grief and joy, a sort of compromise, a diminished tone, which the Church adopted for the third Sunday in Advent and the fourth Sunday in Lent. It thus gave promise, in the penitential season that was ending, of a beginning of gladness, for the festivals of Christmas and Easter were at hand.

"It was the idea of the spiritual dawn rising on the night of the soul, a special impression which violet, now used on those days, could not give."

"Yes, it is to be regretted that blue and rose-colour have disappeared from the Churches of the West," said the Abbe Gévresin. "But to return to the monastic dress which delivered brown, grey, and black from their melancholy significance, does it not strike you that f:om the point of view of emblematic language, that of the Order of the Annunciation was the most eloquent? Those sisters were habited in grey, white, and red, the colours cf the Passion, and they also wore a blue cape and a black veil in memory of Our Mother’s mourning."

"The image of a perpetual Holy Week!" exclaimed Durtal.

"Here is another question," the Abbé Plomb went on. "In the earliest religious pictures the cloaks in which the Virgin, the Apostles, and the Saints are draped almost always show the hue of their lining in ingeniously contrived folds. It is of course different from that of the outer side, as you yourself observed just now with regard to the mantle of Saint Agnes in Angelico’s work. Now, do you suppose that, apart from contrast of colour selected for technical purposes, the monk meant to express any particular idea by the juxtaposition of the two colours?"

"In accordance with the symbolism of the palette the outer colour would represent the material creature, and the lining colour the spiritual being."

"Well, but then what is the significance of Saint Agnes’ mantle of green lined with orange?"

"Obviously," replied Durtal, "green denoting freshness of feeling, the essence, of good, hope; and orange, in its better meaning, being regarded as representing the act by which God unites Himself to man, we might conclude from these data that Saint Agnes had attained the life of union, the possession of the Saviour, by virtue of her innocence and the fervour of her aspirations. She would thus be the image of virtue yearning and fulfilled, of hope rewarded, in short.

"But now I must confess that there are many gaps, many obscurities in this allegorical lore of colours. In the picture in the Louvre, for instance, the steps of the throne, which are intended to play the part of veined marble, remain unintelligible. Splashed with dull red, acrid green, and bilious yellow, what do these steps express, suggesting as they do by their number the nine choirs of angels?"

"It seems to me difficult to allow that the monk intended to figure the celestial hierarchies by smears with a dirty brush and these crude streaks."

"But has the colour of a step ever represented an idea in the science of symbolism?" asked the Abbé Gévresin.

"Saint Mechtildis says so. When speaking of the three steps in front of the altar, she propounds that the first should be of gold, to show that it is impossible to go to God save by charity; the second blue, to signify meditation on things divine; the third green, to show eager hope and praise of Heavenly things."

"Bless me!" cried Madame Bavoil, who was getting somewhat scared by this discussion, "I never saw it in that light. I know that red means fire, as everybody knows; blue, the air; green, water; and black, the earth. And this I understand, because each element is shown in its true colour; but I should never have dreamed that it was so complicated, never have supposed that there was so much meaning in painters’ pictures."

"In some painters’!" cried Durtal. "For since the Middle Ages the doctrine of emblematic colouring is extinct. At the present day those painters who attempt religious subjects are ignorant of the first elements of the symbolism of colours, just as modern architects are ignorant of the first principles of mystical theology as embodied in buildings."

"Precious gems are lavishly introduced in the works of the primitive painters," observed the Abbé Plomb. "They are set in the borders of dresses, in the necklets and rings of the female saints, and are piled in triangles of flame on the diadems with which painters of yore were wont to crown the Virgin. Logically, I believe we ought to seek a meaning in every gem as well as in the hues of the dresses."

"No doubt," said Durtal, "but the symbolism of gems is much confused. The reasons which led to the choice of certain stones to be the emblems, by their colour, water, and brilliancy, of special virtues, are so far-fetched and so little proven, that one gem might be substituted for another without greatly modifying the interpretation of the allegory they present. They form a series of synonyms, each replacing the other with scarcely a shade of difference.

"In the treasury of the Apocalypse, however, they seem to have been selected, if not with stricter meaning, with a more impressive breadth of application, for expositors regard them as coincident with a virtue, and likewise with the person endowed with it. Nay, these jewellers of the Bible have gone further; they have given every gem a double symbolism, making each embody a figure from the Old Testament and one from the New. They carry out the parallel of the two Books by selecting in each case a Patriarch and an Apostle, symbolizing them by the character more especially marked in both.

"Thus, the amethyst, the mirror of humility and almost childlike simplicity, is applied in the Bible to Zebulon, a man obedient and devoid of pride, and in the Gospel to St. Matthias, who also was gentle and guileless; the chalcedony, as an emblem of charity, was ascribed to Joseph, who was so merciful and pitiful to his brethren, and to St. James the Great, the first of the Apostles to suffer martyrdom for the love of Christ; the jasper, emblematical of faith and eternity, was the attribute of Gad and of St. Peter; the sard, meaning faith and martyrdom, was given to Reuben and St. Bartholomew; the sapphire, for hope and contemplation, to Naphtali and St. Andrew, and sometimes, according to Aretas, to St. Paul; the beryl, meaning sound doctrine, learning, and long-suffering, to Benjamin and to St. Thomas, and so forth. There is, indeed, a table of the harmony of gems and their application to patriarchs, apostles, and virtues, drawn up by Madame Félicie d’Ayzac, who has written an elaborate paper on the figurative meaning of gems."

"The avatar of some other Scriptural personages might be equally well carried out by these emblematical minerals," observed the Abbé Gévresin.

"Obviously; and as I warned you, the analogies are very far-fetched. The hermeneutics of gems are uncertain, and founded on mere fanciful resemblances, on the harmonies of ideas hard to assimilate. In medival times this science was principally cultivated by poets."

"Against whom we must be on our guard," said the Abbé Plomb, "since their interpretations are for the most part heathenish. Marbode, for example, though he was a Bishop, has left us but a very pagan interpretation of the language of gems."

"These mystical lapidaries have on the whole chiefly applied their ingenuity to explaining the stones of the breast-plate of Aaron, and those that shine in the foundations of the New Jerusalem, as described by St. John; indeed, the walls of Sion are set with the same jewels as the High Priest’s pectoral, with the exception of the carbuncle, the ligure, agate, and onyx, which are named in Exodus, and replaced in the Book of Revelation by chalcedony, sardonyx, chrysoprase, and jacinth."

"Yes, and the symbolist goldsmiths wrought diadems, setting them with precious stones, to crown Our Lady’s brow; but their poems showed little variety, for they were all borrowed from the Libellus Corona Virginis, an apocryphal work ascribed to St. Ildefonso, and formerly famous in convents."

The Abbe Gévresin rose and took an old book from the shelf.

"That brings to my mind," said he, "a hymn in honour of the Virgin composed in rhyme by Conrad of Haimburg, a German monk in the fourteenth century. Imagine," he continued, as he turned over the pages, "a litany of gems, each verse symbolizing one of Our Mother’s virtues.

"This prayer in minerals opens with a human greeting. The good monk, kneeling down, begins:-

"’Hail, noble Virgin, meet to become the Bride of the Supreme King! Accept this ring in pledge of that betrothal, O Mary!’

"And he shows Her the ring, turning it slowly in his fingers, explaining to Our Lady the meaning of each stone that shines in the gold setting; beginning with green jasper, symbolical of the faith which led the Virgin to receive the message of the angelic visitant; then comes the chalcedony, signifying the fire of charity that fills Her heart; the emerald, whose transparency signifies Her purity; the sardonyx, with its pale flame, like the placidity of Her virginal life; the red sard-stone, one with the Heart that bled on Calvary; the chrysolite, sparkling with greenish gold, reminding us of Her numberless miracles and Her Wisdom; the beryl, figurative of Her humility; the topaz, of Her deep meditations; the chrysoprase of Her fervency; the jacinth of Her charity; the amethyst, mingling rose and purple, of the love bestowed on Her by God and men; the pearl, of which the meaning remains vague, not representing any special virtue; the agate, signifying Her modesty; the onyx, showing the many perfections of Her grace; the diamond, for patience and fortitude in sorrow; while the carbuncle, like an eye that shines in the night, everywhere proclaims that Her glory is eternal.

"Finally the donor points out to the Virgin the interpretation of certain other matters set in the ring, which the Middle Ages were regarded as precious: crystal, emblematic of chastity of body and soul; ligurite, resembling amber, more especially figurative of the quality of temperance; lodestone, which attracts iron, as She touches the chords of repentant hearts with the bow of her loving-kindness.

"And the monk ends his petition by saying: ’This little ring, set with gems, which we offer Thee as at this time, accept, glorious Bride, in Thy benevolence. Amen.’"

"It would no doubt be possible," said the Abbé Plomb, "to reproduce almost exactly the invocations of these Litanies by each stone thus interpreted." And he reopened the book his friend the priest had just closed.

"See," he went on, "how close is the concordance between the epithets in the sentences and the quality assigned to the gems.

"Does not the emerald, which in this sequence is emblematical of incorruptible purity, reflect in the sparkling mirror of its water the Mater Purissirna of the Litanies to the Virgin? Is not the chrysolite, the symbol of wisdom, a very exact image of the Sedes Sapientiae? The jacinth, attribute of charity and succour vouchsafed to sinners, is appropriate to the Auxilium Christianorurn and the refugium peccatorum of the prayers. Is not the diamond, which means strength and patience, the Virgo potens? — the carbuncle, meaning fame, the Virgo praedicanda? — the chrysoprase, for fervour, the Vas insigne devotionis?

"And it is probable," said the Abbé, in conclusion, as he laid the book down, "that if we took the trouble we could rediscover one by one, in this rosary of stones, the whole rosary of praise which we tell in honour of Our Mother."

"Above all," remarked Durtal, "if we did not restrict ourselves to the narrow limits of this poem, for Conrad’s manual is brief, and his dictionary of analogies small; if we accepted the interpretations of other symbolists, we could produce a ring similar to his and yet quite different, for the language of the gems would not be the same. Thus to St. Bruno of Asti, the venerable Abbot of Monte Cassino, the jasper symbolizes Our Lord, because it is immutably green, eternal without possibility of change; and for the same reason the emerald is the image of the life of the righteous; the chrysoprase means good works; the diamond, infrangible souls; the sardonyx, which resembles the blood-stained seed of a pomegranate, is charity; the jacinth, with its varying blue, is the prudence of the saints; the beryl, whose hue is that of water running in the sunshine, figures the Scriptures elucidated’ by Christ; the chrysolite, attention and patience, because it has the colour of the gold that mingles in it and lends it its meaning; the amethyst, the choir of children and virgins, because the blue mixed in it with rose pink suggests the idea of innocence arid modesty.

"Or, again, if we borrow from Pope Innocent III his ideas as to the mystical meanings of gems, we find that chalcedony, which is pale in the light and sparkles in the dark, is synonymous with humility; the topaz with chastity and the merit of good works, while the chrysoprase, the queen of minerals, implies wisdom and watchfulness.

"If we do not go quite so far back into past ages, but stop at the end of the sixteenth century, we find some new interpretations in a Commentary on the Book of Exodus by Corneille de la Pierre; for he ascribes truth to the onyx and carbuncle, heroism to the beryl, and to the ligure, with its delicate and sparkling violet hue, scorn of the things of earth, and love of heavenly things."

"And then St. Ambrose regards this stone as emblematical of Eucharist," the Abbé Gévresin put in.

"Yes; but what is the ligure or ligurite?" asked Durtal. "Conrad of Haimburg speaks of it as resembling amber; Corneille de la Pierre believes it to be violet-tinted, and St. Jerome gives us to understand that it is not identifiable; in fact, that it is but another name for the jacinth, the image of prudence, with its water of blue like the sky and changing tints. How are we to make sure?"

"As to blue stones, we must not forget that St. Mechtildis regarded the sapphire as the very heart of the Virgin," observed the Abbé Plomb.

"We may also add," Durtal went on, "that a new set of variations on the subject of gems was executed in the seventeenth century by a celebrated Spanish Abbess, Maria d’ Agreda, who applies to Our Mother the virtues of the precious stones spoken of by St. John in the twenty-first chapter of the Apocalypse. According to her, the sapphire figures the serenity of Mary the chrysolite shows forth Her love for the Church Militant, and especially for the Law of Grace; the amethyst, Her power against the hordes of hell; the jasper, Her invincible fortitude; the pearl, Her inestimable dignity-"

"The pearl," interrupted the Abbé Plomb, "is regarded by St. Eucher as emblematic of perfection, chastity, and the evangelical doctrine."

"And all this time you are forgetting the meaning of other well-known gems," cried Madame Bavoil. "The ruby, the garnet, the aqua-marine; are they speechless?"

"No," replied Durtal. "The ruby speaks of tranquility and patience; the garnet, Innocent III tells us, symbolizes charity. St. Bruno and St. Rupert say that the aquamarine concentrates in its pale green fire all theological science. There yet remain two gems, the turquoise and the opal. The former, little esteemed by the mystics, is to promote joy. As to the second, of which the name does not occur in treatises on gems, it may be identified with chalcedony, which is described as a sort of agate of an opaque quality, dimmed with clouds and flashing fires in the shadows.

"To have done with this emblematical jewelry, we may add that the series of stones serves to symbolize the hierarchies of the angels. But here, again, the meanings commonly received are derived from more or less forced comparisons and a tissue of notions more or less flimsy and loose. However, it is so far established that the sardstone suggests the Seraphim, the topaz the Cherubim, the jasper means the Thrones, the chrysolite figures the Dominions, the sapphire the Virtues, the onyx the Powers, the beryl the Principalities, the ruby the Archangels, and the emerald the Angels."

"And it is a curious fact," said the Abbé Plomb, "that while beasts, colours, and flowers are accepted by that symbolists sometimes with a good meaning and sometimes with an evil one, gems alone never change; they always express good qualities, and never vices."

"Why is that?"

"St. Hildegarde perhaps affords a clue to this stability when, in the fourth book of her treatise on Physics, she says that the Devil hates them, abhors and scorns them, because he remembers that their splendour shone in him before his fall, and that some of them are the product of the fire that is his torment.

"And the saint added, ’God, who deprived him of them, would not that the stones should lose their virtues He desired, on the contrary, that they should ever be held in honour, and used in medicine to the end that sickness should be cured and ills driven out.’ And, in fact, in the Middle Ages they were highly esteemed and used to effect cures."

"To return to those early pictures," said the Abbe Gévresin, "in which the Virgin emerges like a flower from amid the gorgeous assemblage of gems, it may be said as a general thing, that the glow of jewels declares by visible signs the merits of Her who wears them; but it would be difficult to say what the painter’s purpose may have been when, in the decoration of a crown or a dress, he placed any particular stone in one spot rather than another. It is, as a rule, a question of taste or harmony, and has nothing, or very little, to do with symbolism."

"Of that there can be no doubt," said Durtal, who rose and took leave, as Madame Bavoil, hearing the cathedral clock strike, handed to the two priests their hats and breviaries.


THE somewhat dolefully calm frame of mind in which Durtal had been living since settling at Chartres came to a sudden end. One day ennui made him its prey, the black possession which would allow him neither to work, nor to read, nor to pray; so overwhelming that he knew not whither to turn nor what to do.

After spending dark and futile days in lounging round his library, taking down a volume and shutting it up again, opening another of which he failed to master a single page, he tried to escape from the weariness of the hours by taking walks, and he determined finally to study the town of Chartres.

He found a number of blind alleys and break-neck steeps, such as the road down the knoll of St. Nicolas, which tumbles from the top of the town to the bottom in a precipitous flight of steps; and then the Boulevard des Filles-Dieu, so lonely with its walks planted with trees, was worthy of his notice. Starting from the Place Drouaise, he came to a little bridge where the waters meet of the two branches of the Eure; to the right, above the eddying current and the buildings on. the shore, he could see the pile of the old town shouldering up the cathedral; to the left, all along the quay, and looking out on the taltpoplars that fanned the water-mills, were saw-mills and timber-yards, the washing places where laundresses knelt on straw in troughs, and the water foamed before them in widening inky circles splashed into white bubbles by the dip of a bird’s wing.

This arm of the river diverted into the moat of the old ramparts, encircled Chartres, bordered on one side by the trees of the alleys, and on the other by cottages with terraced gardens down to the level of the stream, the two banks joined by foot-bridges of planks or cast iron arches.

Near where the Porte Guillaume uplifted its crenelated towers like raised pies, there were houses that looked as if they had been gutted, displaying, as in the vanished cagnards or vaults of the Hotel Dieu at Paris, cellars open on the level of the water, paved basements in whose depths of prison twilight stone steps could be seen; and on going out through the Porte Guillaume across a little humpbacked bridge, under the archway still showing the groove in which the portcullis had worked which was let down of yore to defend this side of the town, he came upon yet another arm of the river washing the feet of more houses, playing at hide and seek in the courts, musing between walls; and at once he was haunted by the recollection of another river just like this, with its decoction of Walnut hulls frothed with bubbles; and to contribute to the suggestion, the more clearly to evoke a vision of the dismal Bièvre, the rank, acrid, pungent smell of tan, steeped as it were, in vinegar, came up in fumes from this broth of medlar juice brought down by the Eure.

The Bievre, a prisoner now in the sewers of Paris, seemed to have escaped from its dungeon and to have taken refuge at Chartres that it might live in the light of day; winding by the Rues de la Foulerie, de la Tannerie, du Massacre, the quarters invaded by the leather-dressers, the skinners and tan-peat makers.

But the Parisian environment, so pathetic in its aspect of silent suffering, was absent from this town; these streets suggested merely a declining hamlet, a poverty-stricken village. He felt something lacking in this second Bièvre, the fascination of exhaustion, the grace of the woman of Paris faded and smirched by misery; it lacked the charm compounded of pity and regret, of a fallen creature.

Such as they were, however, these streets, traced with a sort of descending twist round the hill on which the cathedral stood exalted, were the only curious by-ways of Chartres worth wandering through.

Here Durtal often succeeded in getting out of himself, in dreaming over the distressful weariness of these streams, and in ceasing to meditate on his own qualms, till he presently was tired of constant excursions in the same quarter of the town, and then he tramped through it in every direction, trying to find an interest in the sight of time-worn spots — the grace of Queen Berthe’s tower, of Claude Huvé’s house and other buildings that have survived the shock of ages; but the enthusiasm he threw into the study of these relics spoilt by the foregone eulogiums of the guides, could no last, and he then fell back on the churches.

Although the cathedral crushed everything near it, Saint-Pierre, the ancient Abbey church of a Benedictin monastery, now used as barracks, deserved a lingering visit for the sake of its splendid windows, the dwelling-place of Abbots and Bishops who look down with stern eyes, holding up their croziers. And these windows, damaged by time, were very singular. Upright, in each lancet-shaped setting of white glass, rose a sword-blade bereft of its point; and in these square-tipped blades Saint Benedict and Saint Maur stood lost in thought, with Apostles and Popes, Prelates and Saints, standing out in robes of flame against the luminous whiteness of the borders.

Certainly Chartres could show the finest glass windows in the world; and each century had left.its noblest stamp on its sanctuaries: the twelfth, thirteenth, and even the fifteenth, on the cathedral; the fourteenth on Saint Pierre; and a few examples — unfortunately broken up and used in a medley mosaic — of painted glass of the sixteenth century in Saint Aignan, another church where the vaulted roof had been washed of the colour of gingerbread speckled with anise-seed, by painters of our own day.

Durtal got through a few afternoons in these churches; then the charm of this prolonged study was at an end, and gloom took possession of him, even worse than before.

The Abbé Plomb, to divert his mind, took him for walks in the country, but La Beauce was so flat, so monotonous, that any variety of landscape was impossible to find. Then the Abbé took him through other parts of the town. Some of the buildings claimed their attention, as, for instance, the House of Detention, in the Rue-Sainte-Thérèse near the Palais de Justice. The edifices themselves were not, indeed, very impressive, but the history of their origin made them available as the fulcrum for old dreams. There was something in the prison walls, in their height and austerity, in their look of order and precision, which made the cloister wall of a Carmel look small. They had, in fact, of old, sheltered a Sisterhood of that Order, and a few steps further on, in a blind alley, was the entrance to the ancient convent of the Jacobins, the Mother-House of the great Sisterhood of Chartres: the Nursing Sisters of Saint Paul.

The Abbé Plomb took him to visit this house, and he retained a cheerful impression of the walk in the fresh air on the old ramparts. The Sisters had kept up the sentry’s walk, which followed a long and narrow avenue with a statue of the Virgin at each end, one representing the Immaculate Conception,the other the Virgin Mother. And this walk, strewn with river-pebbles and edged with flowers, shut in on one side by the Abbey and the novices’ schools, on the left overlooked a precipice down to the Butte des Charbonniers, and below that again, the Rue de la Couronne; while beyond lay the grass lawns of the Cbs Saint lean, the line of the railroad, labourers’ hovels, and convent buildings.

"There you see," said the Abbé, "behind the embankment of the Western Railway stands the Convent of the Sisters of Our Lady and of the Carmelites; here, nearer to the town on this side of the line, are the Little Sisters of the Poor."

And indeed the place swarmed with convents: Sisters of the Visitation, Sisters of Providence, Sisters of Good Comfort, Ladies of the Sacred Heart, all lived in hives close round Chartres. Prayer hummed up on every side, rising as the fragrant breath of souls above a city where, by way of divine service, nothing was chanted but the price-current of grain and the higher and lower cost of horses in the fairs which, on certain days, brought all the copers of La Perche together in the cafés on the Place.

Besides this walk on the old ramparts, the Convent of the Sisters of Saint Paul was attractive by reason of its quict arid cleanliness. Down silent passages the backs of the good women might be seen crossed by the triangular fold of linen, and the click could be heard of their heavy black rosaries on links of copper, as they rattled on their skirts against the hanging bunch of keys. Their chapel was redolent 0f Louis XIV., at once childish and pompous, too much bedizened with gold, and the floor too shiny with wax; but there was an interesting detail : at the entrance large panes of glass had been substituted for the walls, so that in winter the sick, sitting in a warm room, could look through the glass partition and follow the services and hear the plain song of Solesmes which the Sisters had the good taste to use.

This visit revived Durtal’s spirit; but he inevitably compared the peaceful hours told out in that retreat with others, and his disgust was increased for this town, and its inhabitants, and its avenues, and its boasted Place des Epars, aping a little Versailles, with its surrounding blatant mansions, and its ridiculous statue of Marceau in the middle.

And then the limpness of the place, hardly awake by sunrise and asleep again by dusk!

Once only did Durtal see it really awake, and that was on the day when Monseigneur Le Tilloy des Mofflaines was enthroned as Bishop.

Then suddenly the city was galvanized; projects were made, the various bodies corporate sat in committee, and men came forth who had lived within doors for years.

Scaffold poles were brought out from the masons’ yards; blue and yellow flagswere hoisted on them, and these masts were linked together by garlands of ivy-leaves sewn one over the other with white cotton.

Then Chartres was exhausted, and paused for breath.

Durtal, startled by these unexpected preparations and such an assumption of life, had gone out to meet the Bishop, as far as to the Rue Saint Michel. There, on the open square, a gymnastic apparatus had been erected, the swing bars and rings having been removed, and the poles garnished with pine branches and gilt paper rosettes, and surmounted by a trophy of tricolour flags arranged in a fan behind a painted cardboard shield. This was an arch of triumph, and under this the Brethren of the Christian Schools were to escort the canopy.

The procession, which had gone forth to fetch the Bishop from the Hospice of Saint Brice, where, in obedience to time-honoured custom, he had slept the night before entering his See, had made its way thither under a fine rain of chanted canticles, broken by heavier showers of brass sounding a pious flourish of trumpets. Slowly, with measured steps, the train wound along between two hedges of people crowded on the sidewalks, and all the way the windows, hung with drapery, displayed bunches of faces and leaning bodies, cut across the middle by the balcony bar.

At the head of the procession, behind the gaudy uniforms of the ponderous beadles, came the girls of the Congregational Schools, dressed in crude blue with white veils, in two ranks, filling up the roadway; then followed delegates of nuns from every Order that has a House in the diocese; Sisters of the Visitation from Dreux, Ladies of the Sacred Heart from Châteaudun, Sisters of the Immaculate Conception from Nogent le Rotrou, the uncloistered Sisters of the Cloistered Orders of Chartres, Sisters of St. Vincent de Paul and Poor Clares, whose dresses of blueish grey and peat-brown contrasted with the black robes of the others.

What was most odd was the various shapes of their coifs. Some bad soft flapping blinkers, others wore them goffered and stiffened with starch; these hid their face at the bottom of a deep white tunnel; others, on the contrary, showed their countenance set in an oval frame of pleated cambric, prolonged behind into conical wings of starched linen lustrous from heavy irons. As he looked over this expanse of caps, Durtal was reminded of the Paris landscape of roofs, in shapes resembling the funnels worn by these nuns and the cocked hats of the beadles.

Then, behind these long files of sober-coloured garments, the scarlet vestments of the choirs came like the blare of trumpets. The little ones marched with downcast eyes, their arms crossed under their red capes edged with ermine, and behind them, a little in advance of the next group, walked two white cowls, that of a Brother of Picpus, and that of a Trappist who represented the Trappist Sisterhood of La Cour Peytral, to which he was chaplain.

Finally the Seminarists came on in a black crowd; those of the Great Seminary of Chartres and of the Little Seminary of Saint Chéron preceding the priests, and behind them, under a purple velvet canopy embroidered in gold with wheat ears and grapef and decorated at each corner with bunches of snow-white feathers, with his mitre on his head and holding his crozier, came Monseigneur Le Tilloy des Mofflaines.

As he passed, in the act of blessing the street, many an unknown Lazarus rose up, the forgotten dead come back to life; His Reverence seemed to multiply the Miracles of the Lord. Effete old men, huddled in their chairs in the doorways or at the windows, revived for a second, and found strength enough to cross themselves. Persons who had been supposed dead for years managed almost to smile. The vacant eyes of old, old children gazed at the violet cross outlined in the air by the Prelate’s gloved hand. Chartres, that city of the dead, had changed to a vast nursery; in the extravagance of its joy the town was in its second childhood.

But as soon as the Bishop was past the scene changed. Durtal was startled, and he tittered.

A whole "Court of Miracles" seemed to follow in the Prelate’s train, strutting but tottering; a procession of old wrecks, dressed out in such garments as are sold from the dead-house, staggered along holding each other’s arms, propped one against another. Every reach-me-down that had been hanging these twenty years flapped about their limbs, hindering their progress. Trousers with baggy ankles or with gaiter tops, balloon-shaped or close-fitting, made of loose-woven stuff or so shrunk that they would not meet the boot, displaying feet where the elastic sides wriggled like living vermin, and ankles covered with vermicelli dipped in ink; then the most impossibly threadbare and discoloured coats, made, as it seemed, of old billiard cloths, of tarpaulin worn to the canvas, of cast-off awnings; overcoats of cast iron, the surface worn off the back-seam and sleevesglaucous waistcoats, sprigged with flowers and furnished with buttons of dry brawn-parings; and all this was as nothing; what was prodigious, beyond the bounds of belief, fabulous, positively insane, was the collection of hats that crowned these costumes.

The specimens of extinct headgear, lost in the night of ages, that were collected here! The veterans wore muffboxes and gas-pipes; some had tall white hats, for all the world like toilet-pails turned upside down, or huge spigots with a hole for the head; others had donned felt hats like sponges, shaggy, long-haired Bolivars, melons on flat brims just like a tart on a dish; others, again, had crush-hats, which swayed and played the accordion on their own account, their ribs showing through the stuff.

The craziness of the gibus hats beats description. Some were very tall, the shaft crowned with a platform larger than the head, like the shako of an Imperial Lancer; others very low, ending in an inverted cone — the mouth of a blunderbuss or a Polish schapska.

And under this Sanhedrim of drunken hats were the mopping, wrinkled faces of very old men, with whiskers like white rabbits’ paws, and bristles like tooth-brushes in their nostrils.

Durtal shook with inextinguishable laughter at this carnival of antiquities; but his mirth was soon over; he saw two Little Sisters of the Poor who were in charge of this school of fossils, and he understood. These poor creatures were dressed in clothes that had been begged, the rummage of wardrobes, for which the owners had no further use. Then the queerness of their outfit was pathetic; the Little Sisters must have been at infinite trouble to utilize these leavings of charity; and the old children, recking little of fashion, plumed themselves with pride at being so fine.

Durtal followed to the cathedral. When he reached the little square, the procession, caught by a gale of wind, was struggling and clinging to the banners, which bellied like the sails of a ship, carrying on the men who clutched the poles. At last, more or less easily, all the people were swallowed up in the basilica. The Te Deum was pouring out in a torrent from the organ. At this moment it really seemed as though, under the impulsion of this glorious hymn, the church, springing heavenward in a rapturous flight, were rising higher and higher; the echo resounded down the ages, repeating the hymn of triumph which had so often been sung under that roof; and for once the music was in harmony with the building, and spoke the language which the cathedral had learnt in its infancy.

Durtal was exultant. It seemed to him that Our Lady smiled down from those glowing windows, that She was touched by these accents, created by the saints she had loved, to embody for ever, in a definite melody, and in unique words, the scattered praise of the faithful, the unformulated rejoicing of the multitude.

Suddenly his exalted mood was sobered. The Te Deum was ended; a roll of drums and a clarion flourish rang out from the transept. And while the brass band of Chartres cannonaded the old walls with the balista of mere noise, he fled to breathe away from the crowd, which, however, did not nearly fill the church; and then, after the ceremony, he went to see the parade of representatives of the various institutions in the town, who came to pay their respects to the new Bishop in his palace.

There he could laugh and not be ashamed. The forecourt was packed full of priests. All the superiors of the different — Archdeaconries-Chartres, Châteaudun, Nogent le Rotrou, and Dreux — had left there, within the great gate, their following of parish priests and cures, who were pacing round and round the green circus of a grass plot.

The big-wigs of the town, not at all less ridiculous than the pensioners of the Little Sisters of the Poor, crowded in, driving the ecclesiastics into the garden walks. Teratology seemed to have emptied out its specimen bottles; it was a seething swarm of human larvae, of strange heads — bullet-shaped, egg-shaped, faces as seen through a bottle or in a distorting mirror, or escaped from one of Redon’s grotesque albums; a perfect museum of monsters on the move. The stagnation of monotonous toil, handed down for generations from father to son in a city of the dead, was stamped on every face, and the Sunday-best festivity of the day added a touch of the absurd to hereditary ugliness.

Every black coat in Chartres had come out to take the air. Some dated from the days of the Directory, swallowed up the wearer’s neck, climbed up high behind the nape, muffled the ears and padded the shoulders; others had shrunk by lying in the drawer, and their sleeves, much too short, cut the wearer round the armholes so that he dared not move.

A miasma of benzine and camphor exhaled from these groups. The clothes, only that morning taken out of pickle to be aired by the good-wife, were pestilential. The stove-pipe hats were to match. Left to themselves on wardrobe shelves, they had surely grown taller; they towered immense, displaying on their mill-board column a thin covering of hairs.

This assembly of worthies admired and congratulated each other; clasped hands encased in white gloves — gloves scoured with paraffin, cleaned with india-rubber or breadcrumb. Presently a retiring wave cleared a space in the crowd of priests and laymen, who shrank back hat in hand to make way for an old hearse of a landau, drawn by a consumptive horse and driven by a sort of Moudjik, a coachman with a puffy face behind a thicket of hair sprouting on his cheeks and his mouth, in his ears and nose. This vehicle came to an anchor before the front steps, and out of it stepped a fat man, blown out like a bladder and buttoned up in an uniform with silver lace; after him came a thinner personage in a coat with facings of dark and light blue, and everybody bowed to the Préfet attended by one of his three Councillors.

They had lifted their plumed cocked hats, distributed a dole of hand-shaking, and vanished into the vestibule when the army made its appearance, represented by a Colonel of Cuirassiers, some officers of the Artillery and the Commissariat, a few subalterns of Infantry, and one gendarme.

This was all.

Within an hour or this reception the exhausted town was asleep again, not having energy enough even to remove the poles; Lazarus had gone back to his sepulchre, the resuscitated antiquities had relapsed into death; the streets were empty; reaction had ensued; Chartres would be exhausted for months by this outbreak.

"What a sty it is! What a hole!" cried Durtal to himself.

On certain days, tired of spending his afternoons shut up with his books or of attending service in the cathedral, hearing the canons languidly playing rackets from side to side of the choir with the Psalms, of which they tossed the verses to and fro in a mumbling tone, he would go down after dinner and smoke cigarettes in the little Place. At Chartres, eight o’clock in the evening was as three in the morning in any other town; every light was out, every house closed.

The priesthood, eager for bed, had shut up shop. No prayers to the Virgin, no Benediction, nothing in this cathedral! At such an hour, kneeling in the dark, you feel as if the Mother were more immediately present, nearer, more intimately your own; but these moments of confidence, when it is easier to tell Her all your trivial woes, were unknown at Notre Dame. No one was worn out by midnight prayer in that church!

But though he could not go in, Durtal could prowl round and about it. And then, scarcely seen by the light of the poverty-stricken lamps standing here and there on the square, the cathedral assumed strange aspects. The portals yawned as caverns full of blackness, and the outer shape ofthe body of the building, from the towers to the apse, with its abutments and buttresses merely guessed at in the dark, stood up like a cliff worn away by invisible waves. It might have been a mountain, its summit jagged by storms, eaten into deep caverns at the foot by a vanished ocean; and on going nearer he could in the gloom imagine ill-defined paths steeply running up the cliff, or winding on shelves at the edge of a rock; and, occasionally, midway on one of these dark paths, some white statue of a Bishop would start forth under a moonbeam, like a ghost haunting the ruins, and blessing all corners with uplifted fingers of stone.

These wanderings in the precincts of the cathedral, which by daylight was so light and slender, and in the dark seemed so ponderous and threatening, were ill-adapted to cure Durtal of his melancholy.

This illusion of rocks riven by the lightning, of caverns deserted by the waves, plunged him into fresh reveries, and at last threw him back on himself; ending, after many divagations of mind, in the contemplation of the ruin within him. Then once more he sounded his soul, and tried to reduce his thoughts to some sort of order.

"I am simply bored to death," said he to himself; "and why?" And by dint of analyzing his condition he came to this conclusion: "My state of boredom is not simple but two-fold; or, if it is indeed all of a piece, it may be divided into two very distinct phases: I am bored by myself, independently of place, of home, of books; and I am also bored by provincial life — the special form of boredom inherent in Chartres.

"Bored by myself — ah, yes, most heartily! How tired I am of watching myself, of trying to detect the secret of my disgust and contentiousness. When I contemplate my life I could sum it up thus : the past has been horrible; the present seems to me feeble and desolate; the future — is appalling."

He paused, and then went on,-

"During my first days here I was happy in the dream suggested by this cathedral. I believed it would react on my life, that it would people the solitude I felt within me, that it would, in a word, be a help to me in this provincial atmosphere. But I beguiled myself. In fact, it still weighs on me, it still holds me wrapped in the mild gloom of its crypt; but I can now reason about it, I can scrutinize its details, I try to talk to it of art, and in these inquiries I have lost the unreasoning sense of its environment, the silent fascination of the whole.

"I am less conscious now of its soul than of its body. I tried to study archaeology, that contemptible anatomy of building, and I have fallen humanly in love with its beauty; the spiritual aspect has vanished, to leave nothing behind but the earthly part. Alas! I was determined to see, and I have wrecked trust; it is the eternal allegory of Psyche over again!

"And besides — besides — is not the weariness that is crushing me to some extent the fault of the Abbé Gévresin? By compelling me to much repetition he has exhausted in me the soothing end, at the same time, subversive virtue of the Sacrament; and the most evident result of this treatment is that my soul has collapsed and has no spirit to reinvigorate it.

"No, no," he went on presently. "Here I am working back on my perennial presumption, my incessant round of cares; and once more I am unjust to the Abbé. But it is certainly no fault of his if frequent Communion makes me cold. I look for sensations; but the very first thing should be to convince myself that such cravings are contemptible, and next, to understand clearly that it is precisely because Communion is so frigid that it is the more meritorious and virtuous. Yes, that is very easy to say; but where is the Catholic who prefers such coldness to a glow? The saints may, no doubt; but even they suffer under it! It is so natural to entreat God for a little joy, to look forward to an Union consummated by a loving word, a sign — a mere nothing that may show that He is present.

"Say what they may, we cannot help being pained by a dead absorption of that living bread! And it is very hard to admit that Our Lord is wise when He keeps us in ignorance of the ills from which it preserves us and the progress it enables us to make, since, but for that, we might be defenceless against the attacks of self-conceit and the assaults of vanity — helpless against ourselves.

"In short, whatever the reason, I am no better off at Chartres than in Paris," was his conclusion.

And when these reflections beset him, especially on Sundays, he regretted having accompanied the Abbé Gévresin into the country.

In Paris, in old days, he at any rate got through the hours at the services. He could attend Mass in the morning at the Benedictine chapel or at Saint Séverin,and go to Saint Sulpice for vespers or compline.

Here there was nothing; and yet where were there more promising conditions for the performance of Gregorian music than at Chartres?

Setting aside a few antiquated basses who could only bark, and whom it would be necessary to dismiss, there was a whole sheaf of rich young voices, a school of nearly a hundred boys who could have rolled out in clear, sweet tones the broad melodies of the old plain-song.

But in this ill-starred cathedral an inept precentor gave out, by way of liturgical canticles, a perfect menagerie ot outlandish tunes, which, let loose on Sunday, seemed to scamper like marmosets up the pillars and under the roof. And the artless vuices of the choir-boys were drilled to these musical monkey-tricks. At Chartres it was impossible to attend High Mass in the cathedral with any decent devotion.

The other services were not much better; indeed, Durtal was reduced to attending vespers at Notre Dame de la Brèche, in the lower town, a chapel where the priest, a friend of the Abbé Plomb, had introduced the use of Solesmes, and patiently trained a little choir composed of faithful working-men and pious boys.

The voices, especially the trebles, were not first-rate; but the priest, being a skilled musician, had contrived to train and soften them, and had, in fact, succeeded in getting the Benedictine art accepted in his church.

Unfortunately it was so ugly, so painfully adorned with images, that only by shutting his eyes could Durtal endure to remain in Notre Dame de la Breche.

In the midst of this surge of reflections on his soul, on Paris, on the Eucharist, on music, on Chartres, Durtal was at last quite bewildered, not knowing where he was. Now and then, however, he recovered some tranquillity, and then he was astonished at himself, he could not understand himself.

"Why regret Paris — why, indeed?" he would ask himself. "Was the life I led there unlike that I lead here? Were not the churches there — Notre Dame de Paris, to name but one — just as much to be execrated for sacrilegious bravuras as Notre Dame de Chartres? On the other hand, I never went out there to lounge in the tiresome streets I saw nobody but the Abbé Gévresin and Madame Bavoil, and I see them still, and oftener, in this town. I have even gained a friend by the move, a learned and agreeable companion, in the Abbé Plomb. So why?"

And then one morning, unexpectedly, everything was plain to him. He saw quite clearly that he was on the wrong track, and without even seeking for it he found the right one.

To discover the unknown source of his flaccid longing for he knew not what, and his inexplicable dissatisfaction, he had only to look back a little way and pause at La Trappe. He saw now everything had begun there. Having reached that culminating point of his retrospect, he could, as it were, stand on a height and command a view of the declining years since he had left the monastery; and now, gazing at that descending panorama of his life, he discerned this:-

That from the time of his return to Paris a craving for the cloister had been incessantly permeating his being; he had unremittingly cherished the dream of retiring from the world, of living peacefully as a recluse near to God.

He had, to be sure, only thought of it definitely in the form of impossible longings and regrets, for he knew full well that neither was his body strong enough nor his soul staunch enough for him to bury himself as a Trappist. Still, once started from that spring-board, his imagination flew off at a tangent, overleaped every obstacle, floated in discursive reveries where he saw himself as a Friar in some easy-going convent under the rule of a merciful Order, devoted to liturgies and adoring art.

He could but shrug his shoulders, indeed, when he came back to himself, and smile at these dreams of the future which he indulged in hours of vacuous idleness; but this self-contempt of a man who catches himself in the very act of flagrant nonsense was nevertheless succeeded by the hope of not losing all the advantages of an honest delusion; and he could remount on a chimera which he thought less wild, as leading to a via media, a compromise, fancying that by moderating his ideal he should find it more attainable.

He assured himself that, in default of a really conventual life, he might perhaps achieve an illusory imitation of it by avoiding the turmoil of Paris and burying himself in a hole. And he now saw that he had completely cheated himself when, on discussing the question as to whether he should leave Paris and go to settle at Chartres, he had believed that he was yielding to the Abbé Gévresin’s arguments and Madame Bavoil’s urgency.

Certainly, without admitting it, without accounting for it, he had really acted on the prompting of this cherished dream. Would not Chartres be a sort of monastic haven, of open cloister, where he could enjoy his liberty and not have to give up his comforts? Would it not, at any rate, for lack of an unattainable hermitage, be a sop thrown to his desires; and supposing he could succeed in reducing his too exorbitant demands, give him the final repose and peace for which he had yearned ever since his return from La Trappe?

And nothing of all this had been realized. The unsettled feeling he had experienced in Paris had pursued him to Chartres. He was, as it were, on the march, or perched on a bough; he could not feel at home, but as a man lingering on in furnished rooms, whence he must presently depart.

In short, he had deluded himself when he had fancied that a man might make a cell of a solitary room in silent surroundings; the religious jog-trot in a provincial atmosphere had no resemblance to the life of a monastery. There was no illusion or suggestion of the convent.

This check, when he recognized it, added to the ardour ox his regrets; and the distress which in Paris had lurked latent and ill-defined, developed at Chartres clear and unmistakable.

Then began an unremitting struggle with himself.

The Abbé Gévresin, whom he consulted, would only smile and treat him as in a novices’ school or a seminary a youthful postulant is treated who confesses to deep melancholy and persistent weariness. His malady is not taken seriously; he is told that all his companions suffer the same temptations, the same qualms; he is sent away cornforted, while his superiors seem to be laughing at him.

But at the end of a little time this method no longer succeeded. Then the Abbé was firm with Durtal, and one day, when his penitent was bemoaning himself, he replied,-

"It is an attack you must get over," and then he added lightly after a silence, "And it will not be the last or the worst."

At this Durtal turned restive; the Abbé, however, drove him to bay, wanting to make him confess how senseless his struggles were.

"The idea of the cloister haunts you," said he. "Well, then, what is there to hinder you? Why do you not retire to a Trappist convent?"

"You know very well that I am not strong enough to endure the rule."

"Then become an oblate; go to join Monsieur Bruno at Notre Dame de l’Atre."

"No, indeed, not that, at any rate. To be an oblate at La Trappe is the same thing as remaining at Chartres It is a mere half-measure. Monsieur Bruno will always remain a boarder; he will never be a monk. He gets all the disadvantages of the cloister, and none of the benefits."

"But there are other monasteries besides those of La Trappe," replied the Abbé. "Be a Benedictine Father or oblate, a black Friar. Their rule seems to be mild; you will live in a world of learned men and writers; what more would you have?"

"I do not say — but -"

"But what?"

"I know nothing of them -"

"Nothing can be easier than to get to know them. The Abbé Plomb is a welcome friend at Solesmes. He can give all the introductions you can wish to that convent."

"Good; that is worth thinking about. I will consult the Abbé," said Durtal, rising to take leave of the old priest.

"The Black Dog is troubling you, our friend," observed Madame Bavoil, who had overheard the two men’s conversation from the next room, the door between being open; and she came in, her breviary in her hand.

"Ah, ha!" she went on, looking at him over her spectacles, "do you suppose that by moving your soul from place to place you can change it? Your trouble is neither in the air nor outside you, but within you. On my word, to hear you talk, one might fancy that by travelling from one spot to another every discord could be avoided, that a man could escape from himself! Nothing can be more false. Ask the Father -"

And when Durtal, smiling awkwardly, was gone, Madame Bavoil questioned her master.

"What is really the matter with him?"

"He is being broken by the ordeal of dryness," replied the priest. "He is enduring a painful but not dangerous operation. So long as he preserves a love of prayer, and neglects none of his religious exercises, all will be well. That is the touchstone which enables us to discern whether such an attack is sent from Heaven."

"But, Father, he must at any rate be comforted."

"I can do nothing but pray for him."

"Another question: our friend is possessed by the notion of a monastic life; perhaps you ought to send him to a convent."

The Abbé gave an evasive shrug.

"Dryness of spirit and the dreams to which it gives rise are not the sign of a vocation," said he. "I might even say that they have a greater chance of thriving than of diminishing in the cloister. From that point of view conventual life might be bad for him. Still, that is not the only question to be considered — there is something else — and besides, who knows?" He was silent, and presently added: "Much may be possible. Give me my hat, Madame Bavoil. I will go and talk over Durtal with the Abbé Plomb."