Monument to Rousseau and Millet at Barbison Monument to Rousseau and Millet at Barbison

A certain Père Ganne kept a sort of a lodging house where artists were made welcome at an exceedingly modest price. Not only the really famous and much exploited painters of the time gained fortunes here, but those of a more conservative school, who never rose to really great distinction, also drew much of their inspiration from the neighbourhood, among them Hamon, Boulanger and Célestin Nanteuil.

Without having to go far to hunt up their subjects, the Forest of Fontainebleau lying near Barbison offered to painters much that was not available within so small a radius elsewhere.

Diaz was here already when, in 1849, Jacque and Millet arrived upon the scene, and at more or less frequent intervals, and for more or less lengthy stays, there came Corot, Dupré and Daubigny.

Just what the Barbison school produced in the way of painting all the world knows to-day, but these men were originally the target of every prejudiced critic of the Boulevards and the Faubourgs. The present day has brought its reward and appreciation, though it is the dealers who have profited—the men are dead.

In memory of the fame brought to this little corner of the forest in general, and to Barbison in particular, there was placed (in 1894), at the entrance to the village, a bronze medallion showing the heads of Millet and Rousseau. It was a delicate way of showing appreciation for the talents of those two great men who actually founded a new school of painting.

At the other end of the forest is the little village of Marlotte, also a haven for many painters of a former day, and no less so for those of to-day. The old forest in three quarters of a century has seen itself reproduced on canvas in all its moods. No painter ever lived, nor could all the painters that ever lived, exhaust its infinite variety. Hebert in his "Dictionnaire de la Forêt de Fontainebleau" says, rightly enough, that, with the coming of the men of Fontainebleau and its "artist-villages" the classic type of "Paysage d'Italie" has disappeared from the Salon Catalogues.

Art amateurs and the common people alike made the reputation of Fontainebleau; the mere "trippers" were brought thither by Denecourt, but the real forest lovers were those who were attracted by the masterpieces of the painters. The town of Fontainebleau has changed somewhat under this double influence. At Fontainebleau itself are two monuments in memory of painters who have passed away. One of these is to the memory of Decamps, who was killed by a fall from his horse while riding in the forest; it is a simple bust, the work of Carrier-Belleuse. The other is of Rosa Bonheur who died at Thomery, a little village on the southern border of the forest, in 1902; it is an almost life-size bull from a small model by the artist herself and surmounts a pedestal which also bears a medallion of the artist.


CHAPTER XII

BY THE BANKS OF THE SEINE

On the highroad to Saint Germain one passes innumerable historic monuments which suggest the generous part that many minor chateaux played in the court life of the capital of old.

To-day, Maisons, La Muette and Bagatelle are mere names which serve the tram lines for roof signs and scarcely one in a thousand strangers gives them a thought.

The famous Bois de Boulogne and its immediate environment have for centuries formed a delicious verdant framing for a species of French country-house which could not have existed within the fortifications. These luxurious, bijou dwellings, some of them, at least, the caprices of kings, others the property of the new nobility, and still others of mere plebeian kings of finance, are in a class quite by themselves.

Perhaps the most famous of these is the celebrated Bagatelle, within the confines of the Bois itself. The Chateau de Bagatelle was built in a month, thus meriting its name, by the Comte d'Artois, the future Charles X, as a result of a wager with Marie Antoinette. On its façade it originally bore the inscription: "Parva sed apta"—"small but convenient."

Bagatelle occupied a corner of the royal domain and, after its completion, was sold to the Marquise de Monconseil, in 1747, who gave to this princely suburban residence a dignity worthy of its origin. Then came La Pompadour on the scene, the petite bourgeoise who, by the nobility acquired by the donning of a court costume and marriage with the Sieur Normand d'Étioles, usurped the right to sit beside duchesses and be presented to the queen, if not as an equal, at least as the maitresse of her spouse, the king.

There is a legend about a meeting between La Pompadour and the king at Bagatelle, a meeting in which she established herself so firmly in the graces of the monarch that on the morrow she formed a part of the entourage at Versailles.

After having come into the possession of the heirs of Sir Richard Wallace, Bagatelle finally became the property of the State.

It is in the Chateau de Bagatelle that is to be installed the "Musée de la Parole"—"The Museum of Speech." The French, innovators ever, plan that Bagatelle shall become a sort of conservatory of the human voice, and here will be classed methodically the cylinders and disks which have recorded the spoken words of all sorts and conditions of men.

In this Musée de la Parole will be kept phonographic records of all current dialects in France, the argot of the Parisian lower classes, etc., etc.

Up to the present the evolution of the speech of man has ever been an enigma. No one knows to-day how Homer or Virgil pronounced their words, and Racine and Corneille, though of a time less remote, have left no tangible record of their speech. Monsieur Got of the Comédie Française believes that Louis XIV pronounced "Moi," "le Roi" as "Moué" "le Roué"; and thus he pronounced it in a speech which has been recorded in wax and is to form a part of the collection at Bagatelle.

The Polo Grounds of Bagatelle, between the chateau and the Seine as it swirls around the Ile de la Folie, are to-day better known than this dainty little Paris palace; but Bagatelle will some day come to its own again.

Neuilly bounds the Bois de Boulogne on the north, and has little of a royal appearance to-day, save its straight, broad streets.

There is a royal incident connected with the Pont de Neuilly which should not be forgotten. It came about in connection with the return of Henri IV from Saint Germain in company with the queen and the Duc de Vendome. They were in a great coach drawn by four horses which insisted on drinking from the river in spite of the efforts of the coachman to prevent them.

The carriage was overturned and the royal party barely escaped being drowned. One of the aids who accompanied them recounted the fact that the impromptu bath had cured the king's toothache which he had acquired over a rather hasty meal just before leaving the palace. "Had I witnessed the adventure," said the Marquis de Verneuil, "I should have proposed the toast: 'Le Roi Boit!" As a result of this incident a new bridge was constructed, though it was afterwards replaced by the present stone structure over which a ceaseless traffic rushes in and out of Paris to-day. It was this present bridge over which Louis XV was the first to pass on September 22, 1772.

The Chateau de Neuilly was a favourite suburban residence of Louis Philippe. It was here that a delegation came to offer him the crown, and, after he had become king, he was pleased to still inhabit it and actually spent considerable sums upon its maintenance. When the Revolution of 1848 broke out, the sovereign took refuge at Neuilly and, when besieged by the multitude, took flight in the night of February 26 and left his chateau in the hands of a band of ruffians who pillaged it from cellar to garret, finally setting it on fire. It burned like a pile of brushwood, and it is said that more than a hundred drunken desperados perished when its walls fell in. This was the tragic end of the Chateau de Neuilly.

By a decree of the president of the later Republic the Orleans princes were obliged to sell all their French properties and the park of the Chateau de Neuilly was cut up into morsels and lots were sold to all comers. Thus was born that delightful Paris suburb, with the broad, shady avenues and comfortable houses, with which one is familiar to-day. The aristocratic Parc de Neuilly, with Saint James, is the only tract near Paris where one finds such lovely gardens and such fresh, shady avenues.

Another quarter of Neuilly possesses a history worthy of being recounted. The district known as Saint James derived its name from a great suburban property which in 1775 belonged to Baudart de Saint James. He created a property almost royal in its appointments, its gardens having acquired an extraordinary renown. When he became a bankrupt a throng of persons visited the property not so much with a view to purchase as out of curiosity. A writer of the time says of this Lucullus that he was the envy of all Paris. He died soon after his ruin, from chagrin, and in apparent poverty, which seemingly established his good faith with his creditors. Under the First Empire the domain was bought by, or for, the Princesse Borghese, who here gave many brilliant fêtes at which the emperor himself frequently assisted. On the occasion of the marriage of Napoleon to Marie Louise a series of fêtes took place here which evoked the especially expressed encomiums of the emperor.

In 1815 Wellington made it his headquarters and here had his first conference with Blucher. Upon Wellington quitting Saint James the property was pillaged by the Iron Duke's own troops and actually demolished by the picks and axes of the soldiery.

Near the Passy entrance of the Bois is La Muette, a relic of a royal hunting-lodge which took its name from the royal pack of hounds (meute) which was formerly kept here.

The Chateau de la Muette was the caprice of François I, who, when he came to Paris, wished to have his pleasures near at hand, and, being the chief partisan of the hunt among French monarchs, built La Muette for this purpose.

The Chateau de la Muette is thus classed as one of the royal dwellings of France though hardly ever is it mentioned in the annals of to-day.

Rebuilt by Charles IX, from his father's more modest shooting box, La Muette became the centre of the court of Marguerite de Navarre, the first wife of Henri IV; after which it served as the habitation of the dauphin, who became Louis XIII.

During the regency, Philippe d'Orleans took possession of the chateau until the enthronement of Louis XV. The latter here established a little court within a court, best described by the French as: "ses plaisirs privés." It was this monarch who rebuilt, or at least restored, the chateau, and brought it to the state in which one sees it to-day.

In 1783 Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and the court took up a brief residence here to assist at the aerostatic experiences of De Rosier, and in 1787, ceasing to be a royal residence, La Muette was offered for sale after first having been stripped of its precious wainscotings, its marbles and the artistic curiosities of all sorts with which it had been decorated. The chateau itself now became the property of Sebastian Erard, who bought it for the modest price of two hundred and sixty thousand francs.

Somewhat farther from Paris, crossing the peninsula formed by the first of the great bends of the Seine below the capital, is Chatou which has a royal reminder in its Pavilion Henri IV, or Pavillon Gabrielle, which the gallant, love-making monarch built for Gabrielle d'Estrées. Formerly it was surrounded by a vast park and must have been almost ideal, but to-day it is surrounded by stucco, doll-house villas, and unappealing apartments, until only a Gothic portal, jutting from a row of dull house fronts, suggests the once cosy little retreat of the lovely Gabrielle.

The height of Louveciennes, above Bougival, closes the neck of the peninsula and from it a vast panorama of the silvery Seine and its coteaux stretches out from the towers of Notre Dame on one hand to the dense forest of Saint Germain on the other.

The original Chateau de Louveciennes was the property of Madame la Princesse de Conti, but popular interest lies entirely with the Pavilion du Barry, built by the architect Ledoux under the orders of Louis XV.

Du Barry, having received the chateau as a gift from the king, sought to decorate it and reëmbellish it anew. Through the ministrations of a certain Drouais, Fragonard was commissioned to decorate a special pavilion outside the chateau proper, destined for the "collations du Roi."

The subject chosen was the "Progres de l'Amour dans le Cœur des Jeunes Filles." Just where these panels are to-day no one seems to know, but sooner or later they will doubtless be discovered.

Fragonard's famous "Escalade," or "Rendezvous," the first of the series of five proposed panels, depicted the passion of Louis XV for du Barry. The shepherdess had the form and features of that none too scrupulous feminine beauty, and the "berger gallant" was manifestly a portrait of the king.

Perhaps these decorations at Louveciennes were elaborations of these smaller canvases. It seems quite probable.

Sheltered snugly against the banked-up Forest of Saint Germain, on the banks of the Seine, is Maisons-Laffitte. Maisons is scarcely ever mentioned by Parisians save as they comment on the sporting columns of the newspapers, for horse-racing now gives its distinction to the neighbourhood, and the old Chateau de Maisons (with its later suffix of Laffitte) is all but forgotten.

François Mansart built the first Chateau de Maisons on a magnificent scale for René de Longueil, the Superintendent of Finance. In a later century it made a most effectual appeal to another financier, Laffitte, the banker, who parcelled out the park and stripped the chateau.

For a century, though, the chateau belonged to the family of its founder, and in 1658 the surrounding lands were made into a Marquisate. In 1671, on the day of the death of Philippe, Duc d'Anjou, Maisons may be said to have become royal for the court there took up its residence. Later, the Marquis de Soyecourt became the owner and Voltaire stayed here for a time; in fact he nearly died here from an attack of smallpox.

In 1778 the property was acquired by the Comte d'Artois and the royal family of the time were frequent guests. The king, the queen and each of the princes all had their special apartments, and if Louis XVI had not been too busy with other projects, more ambitious ones, there is little doubt but that he would have given Maisons an éclat which during all of its career it had just missed. At the Revolution it was sold as National Property and the proceeds turned into public coffers.

With the Empire the chateau became more royalist than ever. Maréchal Lannes became its proprietor, then the Maréchal de Montebello, who here received Napoleon on many occasions. With the invasion of 1815 the village was devastated, but the chateau escaped, owing to its having been made the headquarters of the invading allies. After this, in 1818, the banker Laffitte came into possession. He exercised a great hospitality and lived the life of an opulent bourgeois, but he destroyed most of the outbuildings and the stables built by Mansart, and cut up the great expanse of park which originally consisted of five hundred hectares. His ideas were purely commercial, not the least esthetic.

The scheme of decoration within, as without, is distinctly unique. Doric pilasters and columns support massive cornices and round-cornered ceilings, with here and there antique motives and even Napoleonic eagles as decorative features. To-day all the apartments are deserted and sad. The finest, from all points of view, is that of the Salle-à-Manger, though indeed some of the motives are but plaster reproductions of the originals. The chimney-piece, however, is left, a pure bijou, a model of grace, more like a pagan altar than a comparatively modern mantel. The oratory is in the pure style of the Empire, and the stairway, lighted up by a curiously arranged dome-lantern, gives a most startling effect to the entrance vestibule.

In general the design of Maisons is gracious, not at all outré, though undeniably grandiose; too much so for a structure covering so small an area. The Cour d'Honneur gives it its chief exterior distinction and the two pavilions have a certain grace of charm, when considered separately, which the ensemble somewhat lacks. The surroundings, had they not been ruthlessly cut up into building lots for over-ambitious Paris shopkeepers, would have added greatly to the present appearance of the property. As it is, the near-by race-course absorbed the orchard, the pelouse and many of the garden plots.


CHAPTER XIII

MALMAISON AND MARLY

Out from Paris, by the cobbly Pavé du Roi, which a parental administration is only just now digging up and burying under, just beyond the little suburban townlet of Rueil (where the Empress Josephine and her daughter Hortense lie buried in the parish church), one comes to Malmaison of unhappy memory. It is not imposing, palatial, nor, architecturally, very worthy, but it is one of the most sentimentally historic of all French monuments of its class.

Since no very definite outlines remain of any royal historical monument at Rueil to-day the tourist bound towards Versailles by train, tram or road, gives little thought to the snug little suburb through which he shuffles along, hoping every minute to leave the noise, bustle and cobblestones of Paris behind.

Rueil is deserving of more consideration than this. According to Gregory of Tours the first race of kings had a "pleasure house" here, and called the neighbourhood Rotolajum. Not always did these old kings stay cooped up in a fortress in the Isle of Lutetia. Sometimes they went afield for a day in the country like the rest of us, and to them, with their slow means of communication and the bad roads of their day, Rueil, scarce a dozen miles from Notre Dame, seemed far away.

Childerbert I, son of Clovis, is mentioned as having made a protracted sojourn at Rueil, and whatever may have existed then in the way of a royal residence soon after passed to the monks of Saint Denis, who here fished and hunted and lived a life of comfort and ease such as they could hardly do in their fortress-abbey. They, too, required change and rest from time to time, and, apparently, when they could, took it.

The Black Prince burned the town and all its dependencies in 1346, and only an unimportant village existed when Richelieu thought to build a country-house here on this same charming site which had so pleased the first French monarchs. Richelieu did his work well, as always, and built an immense chateau, surrounded by a deep moat into which were turned the swift-flowing waters of the Seine. A vast park was laid out, in part in the formal manner and in part as a natural preserve, and the neighbourhood once more became frequented by royalty and the nobles of the court.

Richelieu bequeathed the property to his niece, the Duchesse d'Aiguillon, and Louis XIV became a frequent dweller there—as a visitor, but he did not mind that. Louis XIV was sometimes a monarch, sometimes a master, and sometimes a "family friend," to put it in a noncommittal manner.

The Revolution nearly made way with the property and the Duc de Massena, a few years afterwards, reëstablished it after a fashion, but speculating land-boomers came along in turn and royal memories meaning nothing to them the property was cut up into streets, avenues and house lots.

The Chateau de Malmaison, which is very near Rueil, is in quite a different class. Its history comes very nearly down to modern times. The memory of Malmaison is purely Napoleonic. Its historical souvenirs are many, but its actual ruins have taken on a plebeian aspect of little appeal in these later days.

In 1792 Malmaison was sold as a piece of national merchandise to be turned into écus, and a certain Monsieur Lecouteux de Canteleu, having the ready cash and a disposition to live under its roof, took over the proprietorship for a time. It was he who sold it to Josephine Beauharnais, and it was she who gave it a glory and splendour which it had never before possessed, gave it its complete fame, in fact.

Chateau de Malmaison Chateau de Malmaison

Napoleon himself, as First Consul, was passionately fond of the place, but by the time he had become emperor, because of unhappy memories, perhaps, for he had them at times, came rarely to this charming suburban chateau.

It was at Malmaison that began the good fortune of Josephine, and it was at Malmaison that it flickered out like the dying flame of a candle.

In a beating rain, on Saturday, December 16, 1809, Josephine quitted the Tuileries, her eyes still red with the tears from that last brief interview. She arrived at Malmaison at the end of a lugubrious day, when the whole place was enveloped in a thick fog. She passed the night almost alone in this great house where she had previously been so happy. She could hardly, however, have been more sad than Napoleon was that same night. He had shut himself up in his cabinet, remorseful and alone.

The Sunday following was hardly less melancholy, for it was then Josephine learned that Malmaison had been endowed with an income of two millions for its upkeep, and that her personal belongings and the furnishings of her favourite apartments were already on the way thither from the Tuileries. The wound was not even then allowed to heal, for she learned that Napoleon had ordained that she was to receive the visits of the court as if she were still empress.

Napoleon had already written his former spouse to the effect that he would give much to see her, but that he did not feel sufficiently sure of himself to permit of it. This historic letter closed thus; "Adieu, Josephine, bonne nuit, si tu doutais de moi, tout sera bien indigne."

On the 17th of December Napoleon actually did come to Malmaison to see her from whom he was officially separated. Josephine had confided to Madame de Remusat, her lady-in-waiting, "It almost seems as if I were dead, and only possessed of the faculty of remembering the past."

In this Malmaison, so full of souvenirs of other days, Josephine was obliged to content herself, for on January 12, 1810, the religious marriage of Josephine and Napoleon was annulled automatically because, as was claimed, it had not been celebrated with the necessary formalities.

Here at Malmaison Josephine even surrounded herself with the most intimate souvenirs of Napoleon: a lounging chair that he was wont to occupy stood in its accustomed place; his bed was always made; his sword hung upon the wall; his pen was in his inkwell; a book was open on his desk and his geographical globe—his famous mappemond—was in its accustomed place.

Princes passing through Paris came to Malmaison to salute the former empress, and she allowed herself to become absorbed in her greenhouses and her dairy, the direction of her house, her receptions and her petite cour.

In time all came to an end. When Napoleon returned to Paris in 1815 he interrogated the doctor who had cared for Josephine during the illness which terminated in her death the year before and asked him: "Did she speak of me at the last?" The doctor replied: "Often, very often." With emotion Napoleon replied simply: "Bonne femme: bonne Josephine elle m'aimeit vraiment."

After Waterloo Napoleon himself retired to Malmaison, which had become the property of Josephine's children, Eugene and Hortense, and closed himself up in the room where she died, the library which he occupied when triumphant First Consul.

Here he lived five mortal days of anguish preceding his departure for Rochefort on that agonizing exile from which he never returned.

After the divorce Josephine preserved the property as her own particular residence, and in 1814 received there the celebrated visit of the allied sovereigns. History tells of a certain boat ride which she took on a neighbouring lake in company with the Emperor Alexander which is fraught with much historic sentiment. It was this imprudent excursion, in the cool of a May evening, that caused the death of the former empress three days later. It was from this bijou of a once royal abode that Napoleon launched his famous proclamation to the army which the arrogant Fouché refused to have printed in the "Moniteur Officiel." Upon this Napoleon sent the Duc de Rovigo to Paris for his passports and the necessary orders which would enable him to depart in peace. The next moment he had changed his mind, and he changed it again a few moments afterwards. As the result of the Prussians' advance on Paris by the left bank of the Seine Napoleon was obliged to accept the inevitable, and with the words of General Becker ringing in his ears: "Sire, tout est pret," he crossed the vestibule and entered the gardens amid a painful calm on his part, and an audible weeping by his former fellows in arms who were lined up to do him honour. He embraced Hortense passionately, and saluted all the personages of his party with a sympathy and emotion unbelievable. With an eternal adieu and a rapid step down the garden walk to the driveway, he at last entered the carriage which was awaiting him and was driven rapidly away. Some days after the Allies pillaged and sacked Malmaison. Its chief glory may be said to have departed with the Corsican.

Under the Restoration, Prince Eugene had a sort of "rag sale" of what was left. The lands which Josephine had bought of Lecouteaux were sold to the highest bidder and the exotic shrubs and plants to any who would buy, the pictures to such connoisseurs as had the price, those that were left being sent to Munich. A Swedish banker now came on the scene (1826) and bought the property—the chateau and the park—which he preserved until his death twenty years later. Then it went to Queen Christina, and was ultimately purchased by Napoleon III.

In October, 1870, during the siege of Paris, General Ducrot sought to make a reconnaissance by way of Malmaison, and so weak was his project that the equipages of the King of Prussia and his État Major invested the environs and made the property their official headquarters.

Near by is a fine property called "Les Bruyeres," a royal estate of Napoleon III. It was created and developed by the emperor and was always referred to as a Parc Impérial.

Perhaps the most banal of all the royal souvenirs around Paris is that gigantic mill-wheel known as the Machine de Marly, down by the Seine a few miles beyond Malmaison, just where that awful cobblestoned roadway begins to climb up to the plateau on which sits the chateau of Saint Germain and its park.

Because it is of unesthetic aspect is no reason for ignoring the famous Machine de Marly, the great water-hoisting apparatus first established in the reign of Louis XIV to carry the waters of the Seine to the ponds and fountains of Versailles.

It was a creation of a Liègois, named Rennequin Sualem, who knew not how to read or write, but who had a very clear idea of what was wanted to perform the work which Louis XIV demanded. For a fact the expense of the erection of the "Machine," and the cost of keeping its great wheels turning, were so great that it is doubtful if it was ever a paying proposition, but that was not a sine qua non so far as the king's command was concerned. It had cost millions of livres before its wheels first turned in 1682, and, if the carpenter Brunet had not come to the rescue to considerably augment the volume of water raised (by means of compressed air), it is doubtful if there would ever have been enough water for the fountains of Versailles to play even one day a year, as they do now every happy Sunday, to the delight of the middle-class Parisian and the droves of Cookites who gaze on them with wonder-opened eyes.

The water was led from the Machine de Marly to Versailles by a conduit of thirty-six arches where, upon reaching a higher level than the gardens, it flowed by gravity to the fountains and basins below. This aqueduct was six hundred and forty-three metres long, and twenty-three metres high. It was a work which would have done credit to the Romans.

A far greater romantic sentiment attaches itself to the royal chateau of Marly-le-Roi than to the utilitarian "Machine," by which the suburb is best known to-day.

The history of Marly-le-Roi appears from the chronicles the most complicated to unravel of that of any of the kingly suburbs of old Paris, though in the days of the old locomotion a townlet twenty-six kilometres from the capital was hardly to be thought of as a suburb.

Marly-le-Roi, at any rate, with Marly-le-Bourg and Marly-le-Chatel, was a royal dwelling from the days of Thierry III (678). The neighbouring region had been made into a countship by the early seventeenth century, and Louis XIV acquired it as his right in exchange for Neuphle-le-Chateau in 1693, incorporating it into the domain of Versailles.

By this time it had become known as Marly-le-Roi, in distinction to the other bourgs, and the king built a chateau-royal, variously known as the Palais and the Ermitage. For a fact it was neither one thing nor the other, according to accepted definition, but rather a group of a dozen dependent pavilions distributed around a central edifice, the whole straggling off into infinite and manifestly unlovely proportions. It was as the sun surrounded by the zodiac.

Isolated on a monticule by the river bank the chateau overlooked its brood of small pavilions, which in a way formed an entresol, or foyer, leading to the Pavilion Royal. All were connected by iron trellises, en berceau, and the effect must have been exceedingly bizarre; certainly theatrical.

The four faces of these pavilions were frescoed, and balustrades and vases at the corners were the chief architectural decorations.

The royal pavilion consisted within of four vestibules on the ground floor, each leading to a grand apartment in the centre. In each of the four angles was a "self-contained" apartment of three or four rooms. What this royal abode lacked in beauty it made up for in convenience.

Each of the satellite pavilions was occupied by a high personage at court. The Chapel and the Corps de Garde were detached from the chateau proper, and occupied two flanking wings.

The plans of the "Palais-Chateau-Ermitage" of Marly-le-Roi were from the fertile brain of Mansart, and were arranged with considerable ingenuity, if not taste, generously interspersed with lindens and truly magnificent garden plots. There was even a cascade, or rather a tumbling river (according to the French expression), for it fell softly over sixty-three marble steps, forming a sort of wrinkled sheet of water, which must indeed have been a very charming feature. It cost a hundred thousand écus to merely lead the water up to it. The expenses of the Pavilion de Marly, in the ten years from 1680 to 1690, amounted to 4501279 livres, 12 sols, 3 deniers. From this one may well judge that it was no mean thing.

The honour of being accounted a person of Marly in those times was accredited as a great distinction, for it went without saying in that case one had something to do with affairs of court, though one might only have been a "furnisher." To be a courtier of Louis XIV, or to be a pensionnaire at Versailles, could hardly have carried more distinction.

The court usually resided at Marly from Wednesday until Saturday, and as "the game" was the thing it is obvious that the stakes were high.

The vogue of the day was gaming at table, and Marly, of all other suburban Paris palaces, was an ideal and discreet place for it. "High play and midnight suppers were the rule at Marly." This, one reads in the court chronicle, and further that: "The royal family usually lost a hundred thousand écus at play at each visit." One "gentleman croupier" gained as much as three thousand louis at a single sitting.

Madame de Maintenon was the real ruler of Marly in those days; she had appropriated the apartments originally intended for the queen, from which there was a private means of communication to the apartments of the king, and another forming a sort of private box, overlooking the royal chapel.

Little frequented by Louis XV, and practically abandoned by Louis XVI, the palace at Marly was sold during the Revolution, after which it was stripped of its art treasures, many of which adorn the gardens of the Tuileries to-day; the great group of horses at the entrance to the Champs Elysées came from the watering place of Marly.

Actually, the royal pavilion at Marly has been destroyed, and there remain but the most fragmentary, unformed heaps of stones to tell the tale of its ample proportions in the days of Louis XIV and de Maintenon.

The park is to-day the chief attraction of the neighbourhood, like the one at Saint Cloud, which it greatly resembles. Across the park lies the great highway from the capital to Versailles, over which so many joyous cavalcades were wont to amble or gallop in the days of gallantry. The pace is not more sober to-day, but gaily caparisoned horses and gaudy coaches have given way to red and yellow "Rois des Belges," the balance lying distinctly in favour of the former mode of conveyance, so far as picturesqueness is concerned.

The Forêt de Marly is very picturesque, but of no great extent. Formerly it enclosed many shooting-boxes belonging to the nobles of the court, of which those of Montjoie and Desert de Retz were perhaps the most splendid.

On the Versailles road was the Chateau de Clagny, a royal maison de plaisance, of an attractive, but trivial, aspect, though its architecture was actually of a certain massiveness. Its gardens and the disposition of its apartments pleased the king's fancy when he chose to pass this way, which was often. He is said to have personally spent over two million francs on the property. It must have been of some pretensions, this little heard of Chateau de Clagny, for in a single year ten thousand livres were expended on keeping the gardens. To-day it is non-existent.


CHAPTER XIV

SAINT CLOUD AND ITS PARK

The historic souvenirs of Saint Cloud and its royal palace are many and varied, though scarcely anything tangible remains to-day of the fabric so loved by Francis I and Henri II, and which was, for a fact, but a magnificent country-house, originally belonging to the Archbishops of Paris.

To-day the rapid slopes of the hillsides of Saint Cloud are peopled with a heterogeneous mass of villas of what the Parisian calls the "coquette" order, but which breathe little of the spirit of romance and gallantry of Renaissance times. Saint Cloud is simply a "discreet" Paris suburb, and the least said about it, its villas and their occupants to-day, the better.

The little village of Saint Cloud which is half-hidden in the Forest of Rouvray, was sacked and burned by the English after the battle of Poitiers, and then built up anew and occupied by the French monarchs in the reign of Charles VI. It was he who built the first chateau de plaisance here in which the royal family might live near Paris and yet amid a sylvan environment.

After this came the country-house of the Archbishops of Paris that Henri II, when he tired of it, tore down and erected a villa in the pseudo-Italian manner of the day, and built a fourteen-arch stone bridge across the Seine, which was a wonder of its time.

The banker Gondi, after huddling close to royalty, turned over an establishment which he had built to Catherine de Médici, who made use of it whenever she wished to give a country fête or garden party. By this time the whole aspect of Saint Cloud was royal.

It was within this house that the unhappy, and equally unpopular, Henri III was cut down by the three-bladed knife of the monk Jacques Clément. The incident is worth recounting briefly here because of the rapidity with which history was made by a mere fanatical knife-thrust. With the death of Henri III came the extinction of the House of Valois.

As the king sat in the long gallery of the palace playing at cards, on August 1, 1589, his cloak hanging over his shoulder, a little cap with a flower stuck in it perched over one ear, and suspended from his neck by a broad blue ribbon a basketful of puppies, an astrologer by the name of Osman was introduced to amuse the royal party.

"They tell me you draw horoscopes," remarked the king.

"Sire, I will tell yours, if you will, but the heavens are unpropitious."


"Just over Meudon is a star which shines very brightly," continued the astrologer, "it is that of Henri de Navarre. But look, your Majesty, another star burns brilliantly for a moment and then disappears, mayhap it is your own."

"If ever a man had a voice hoarse with blood it is that astrologer," said the king. "Away with him."

"If the Valois Henri doesn't die before the setting of another sun, I'll never cast horoscope more," said the astrologer as he was hustled across the courtyard and out into the highroad.

As he left, a man in a monk's garb begged to be admitted to the king's presence. It was Jacques Clément, the murderous monk, a wily Dominican, bent on a mission which had for its object the extinction of the Valois race.

While the king was reading a letter which the monk had presented the latter stabbed him deep in the stomach.

Swooning, the king had just time to cry out: "Ha! le mechant moine: Il m'a tué, qu'on le tue."

The murderer in turn was struck down forthwith and his body, thrown from the windows of the palace, was écartelé by four white horses, which is the neat French way of saying "drawn and quartered."

It was an imposing cortège which wound down from the heights of Saint Cloud and followed the river bank to Saint Germain, Poissy and thence to Compiègne, conveying all that was mortal of Henri III, the least popular of all the race of Valois. Following close behind the bier were Henri IV and his suite, the favourites d'Epernon, Laschant, Dugastz and an impressive soldiery.

After the death of Henri III, Henri de Navarre, who played a not unpicturesque part in the funeral ceremonies, installed himself in a neighbouring property known as the Maison du Tillet. Thus it is seen that the royal stamp of the little bourg of Saint Cloud was never wanting—not until the later palace and most of the town were drenched with kerosene and set on fire by the Prussians in 1871.

The "Maison de Gondi" came, by a process of acquisition, and development, in time, to be the royal palace of Saint Cloud. Its overloaded details of Italian architecture were brightened up a bit by the surroundings planned and executed by the landscapist Le Notre and the life of the court in its suburban retreat took on a real and genuine brilliance which under the restraint of the gloomy walls of the Louvre and Paris streets could hardly have been.

The brightest light shining over Saint Cloud at this time was the radiance shed by the brilliant Henriette d'Angleterre. Her reign as a social and witty queen of the court was brief. She died at the age of twenty-six, poisoned at the instigation of the Chevalier de Lorraine whom she had caused to be exiled. This was the common supposition, but Louis XIV was afterwards able to prove (?) his brother innocent of the crime.

The gazettes of the seventeenth century recount many of the fêtes given at Saint Cloud by Monsieur on the occasion of his marriage to the Princesse Palatine in 1671. One of the most notable of these was that given for Louis XIV, wherein the celebrated cascades—an innovation of Le Notre—were first brought to view.

Mansart was called in and a great gallery intended for fêtes and ceremonies was constructed, and Mignard was given the commission for its decorations.

Monsieur died within the walls of the palace to which he had added so many embellishments, as also did his second wife. Three royalties dead of ambition, one might well say, for their lives were neither tranquil nor healthful. They went the pace.

The regent journeyed out from Paris to this riverside retreat to receive the Tzar Peter in 1717, and in 1752 Louis Philippe d'Orleans set about to give a fête which should obscure the memory of all former events of a like nature into oblivion. How well he succeeded may be a matter of varying opinion, for the French have ever been prodigally lavish in the conduct of such affairs. At all events the occasion was a notable one.

The predilection of royalty for Saint Cloud was perhaps not remarkable, all things considered, for it was, and is, delightfully environed, and about this time the Duc d'Orleans secretly married the Marquise de Montesson and installed her in a habitation the "plus simple," a mere shack, one fancies, costing six millions. The nouveau riche of to-day could scarcely do the thing with more éclat.

The Revolution took over the park of Saint Cloud and its appurtenances and donated them to the democracy—"for the pleasure of the people," read the decree.

On the eighteenth Brumaire, the First Republic blinked itself out in the Palais de Saint Cloud, and the Conseil de Cinq Cents installed itself therein under the Directoire. Bonaparte, returning from Egypt, arrived at Saint Cloud just as Lemercier was dissolving the Conseil. Seeing trouble ahead he commanded Murat to clear the chamber by drawn bayonets. He kept his light shining just a bit ahead of the others, did Napoleon. His watchword was initiative. Deputies clambered over each other in their haste to escape by stairway, door and window, and Bonaparte saw himself Consul without opposition—for ten years—for life.

The royal residences were put at Napoleon's disposition and he wisely chose Saint Cloud for summer; Saint Cloud the cradle of his powers. As a restorer and rebuilder of crumbling monuments Napoleon was a master, as he was in the destructive sense when he was in the mood, and changes and additions were made at Saint Cloud which for comfort and convenience put it in the very front rank of French royal residences.

In March, 1805, Pope Pius VII baptised, amid a grand pomp and ceremony, in the chapel of the palace, the son of Louis Bonaparte, and five years afterwards (April 1, 1810), the same edifice saw the religious marriage of Napoleon with Marie Louise.

The Gardens of Saint Cloud The Gardens of Saint Cloud

On March 31, 1810, a strange animation dominated all the confines of the palace. It was the occasion of the celebration of Napoleon's civil marriage with Marie Louise. They did not enter the capital until three days later for the ceremonial which united the daughter of the emperors who were descendants of the Roman Cæsars, to the "Usurper," who was now for the first time to rank with the other crowned heads of Europe.

The cortège which accompanied their majesties from Saint Cloud to Paris was a pageant which would take pages to describe. The reader of these lines is referred to the impassioned pages of the works of Frederic Masson for ample details.

A hundred thousand curiosity seekers had come out from Paris and filled the alleys of the park to overflowing. Music and dancing were on every hand. Mingled with the crowd were soldiers of all ranks brilliantly clad in red, blue and gold. "These warriors were a picturesque, obtrusive lot," said a chronicler; "after having invaded Austria they acclaim the Austrian."

In 1815 the capitulation of Paris was signed at Saint Cloud. The gardens were invaded by a throng which gave them more the aspect of an intrenched camp than a playground of princes. A brutal victor had climbed booted and spurred into the bed of the great Napoleon and on arising pulled the bee-embroidered draperies down with him and trampled them under foot. Was this a proper manifestation of victory?

At this period another great fête was given in the leafy park of Saint Cloud, a fête which French historians have chiefly passed over silently. The host on this occasion was the Prince of Schwartzenburg; the principal guests the foreign sovereigns, gloating over the downfall of the capital.

Louis XVIII, after removing the traces of this desolate invasion, took up his residence here on June 18, 1817, and in the following year built the stables and the lodgings of the Gardes du Corps. In 1820 the chapel begun by Marie Antoinette was finished and the Jardin du Trocadero constructed.

Charles X in his brief reign built, on the site of an old Ursulin convent, further quarters intended for the personnel of the court. The ensemble ever took on an increasing importance. At this time were laid out the gardens between the cascades and the river, which, to some slight extent, to-day, suggest the former ample magnificence of the park as it faced upon the river. Leading through this lower garden was the Avenue Royale extending to the chateau.

Saint Cloud for Charles X, in spite of his first interest therein, could have been but an unhappy memory for here he signed the abdication which brought about his fall. He left his palace at Saint Cloud on July 30, 1830, at three o'clock in the morning, just as day was breaking through the mists of the valley. He succumbed, the last of the Bourbons, on the same spot on which Henri IV, as chief of the house, had first been saluted as king.

Louis Philippe divided his time between Neuilly and Saint Cloud, and lent his purse and his enthusiasm to elaborating to a very considerable extent both the palace and its surroundings.

Napoleon III made Saint Cloud his preferred summer residence, and was actually beneath the palace roof when the Prussian horde commenced its march on the capital of Clovis. He left Saint Cloud on July 27, to take personal command of the Army of the Rhine at Metz.

As did Charles X, Napoleon III ceased to be sovereign of the French by enacting the final scene in his royal career in the Palais de Saint Cloud. Never again was the palace to give shelter to a French monarch. The empress left precipitately after the disaster of Woerth, and two months after the torch of arson made a ruin of all the splendour of the palace and its dependencies. The inhabitants of the little city, which had grown up around the confines of the palace, fled in refuge to Versailles during the armistice. Scarcely an old house was preserved in all the town.

Among the chefs d'œuvres of art which perished in the flames were the fine works of Mignard—above all, the magnificent Galerie d'Apollon—the paintings of LeMoyne, Nacret, Leloir, the marines of Joseph Vernet and innumerable objects of art which had been gathered together for the embellishment of Saint Cloud by the later monarchs. Some few treasures were saved by the care of the Crown Prince of Prussia, and some vases, chairs and statues were appropriated and packed off across the Rhine as the plunder of war.

The park of Saint Cloud to-day contains nearly four hundred hectares, the public park and the "preserve." From it spreads out one of the loveliest panoramas in the neighbourhood of Paris, alleyed vistas leading seemingly to infinity, with a sprinkling of statues still flanking the Jardin du Trocadero.

From the town one enters the park through a great iron gate from the Place Royale, or by the Avenue du Chateau, which lands one on the terraces where once stood the royal palace.

The Cascades at Saint Cloud The Cascades at Saint Cloud

From Ville d'Avray and from Sevres there are also entrances to the great park, while to the latter runs an avenue connecting the "preserve" of Saint Cloud with the wilder, more rugged Bois de Meudon.

Actually the surroundings of Saint Cloud's great park are the least bit tawdry. Here and there are booths and tents selling trashy souvenirs, and even more unpleasant-looking articles of food and drink, while fringing the river, and some of the principal avenues approaching the cascade, are more pretentious restaurants and eating houses which are royal in name and their prices if nothing else.

The cascades are for the masses the chief sight of Saint Cloud to-day. Historical souvenir plays little part in the minds of those who only visit a monumental shrine to be amused, and so the falling waters of Saint Cloud's cascade, like the gushing torrents of Versailles' fountains, are the chief incentives to a holiday for tens of thousands of small Paris shopkeepers who do not know that a royal palace was ever here, much less that it had a history.

There is an upper and a lower cascade, an artificial water ingeniously tumbled about according to the conception of one Lepaute, an architect of the time of the reign of Louis XIV.

Mansart designed the architectural attributes of the lower cascade and scores considerably over his colleague. Circular basins and canals finally lead the water off to a still larger basin lower down where it spouts up into the air to a height of some forty odd metres at a high pressure. This is the official description, but it is hard to get up any sympathy or enthusiasm over the thing, either considered as a work of art or as a diversion. Frankly, then, Saint Cloud's chief charm is its site and its dead and half-forgotten history. The "Tramp Abroad" and "Rollo" and "Uncle George" knew it better than we, because in those days the palace existed in the real, whereas we take it all on faith and regret (sometimes) that we did not live a couple of generations ago.

Bellevue, on the banks of the Seine, just before reaching Saint Cloud, owes its origin (a fact which the great restaurant of the Pavillon Bleu has made the most of in its advertisements), to a caprice of Madame de Pompadour. She liked the point of view (as do so many diners on the restaurant terrace to-day), and built a "rendezvous-chateau" on the hillside, a half-way house, as it were, where Louis XV might be at his ease on his journeyings to and from the capital.

The Pompadour was able to borrow a force of eight hundred workmen from the king for as long as was necessary to carry out her ambitious projects at Bellevue and on November 25, 1750, she had a house-warming in her modest villa (demolished in 1794) and pendit la cremaillère with a ceremony whose chief entertainment was the dancing of a ballet significantly entitled "L'Amour Architect."

Neighbouring upon Saint Cloud is a whole battery of hallowed, historical spots associated with the more or less royal dwellings of the French monarchs and their favourites. It was but a comparatively short distance to Versailles, to Saint Germain, to Maintenon and to Rambouillet, and the near-by Louveciennes was literally strewn with the most charming country-houses, which, in many cases, kings paid for and made free use of, though indeed the accounts for the same may not have appeared in the public budgets, at least not under their proper names.

At the summit of the hill which gives the town its name was a chateau belonging originally to Madame la Princesse de Conti, and opposite the railway station of to-day, with its prosaic and unlovely surroundings, was a magnificent property belonging to Maréchal Magnan, and the Pavillon du Barry, built by the architect Ledoux to the orders of Louis XV, who would provide a convenient nest in the neighbourhood of Saint Cloud for his latest favourite. To-day the pavilion exists in name, somewhat disfigured to be sure, but still reminiscent of its former rather garish outlines, so on the whole it cannot be said to have suffered greatly from an esthetic point of view. The property came finally to be included as a part of the estate of Pierre Laffitte, though still known, as it always has been, as the Pavillon du Barry.


CHAPTER XV

VERSAILLES: THE GLORY OF FRANCE

"Glorieuse, monumentale et monotone
La façade de pierre effrite, au vent qui passe
Son chapiteau friable et sa guirlande lasse
En face du parc jaune ou s'accoude l'automne.
*        *        *        *        *        *
Mais le soleil, aux vitres d'or qu'il incendie
Y semble rallumer interieurement
Le sursaut, chaque soir de la Gloire engourdi."

These lines of Henri de Régnier explain the aspect of the Versailles of to-day better than any others ever written.

Versailles is a medley of verdure, a hierarchy of bronze and a forest of marble. This is an expression full of anomalies, but it is strictly applicable to Versailles. Its waters, jets and cascades, its monsters, its Tritons and Valhalla of marble statues set off the artificial background in a manner only to be compared to a stage setting—a magnificent stage setting, but still palpably unreal.

Yes, Versailles is sad and grim to-day; one hardly knows why, for its memories still live, and the tangible evidences of most of its great splendour still stand.

"Voici tes ifs en cone et tes tritons joufflus
Tes jardins composés où Louis ne vient plus,
Et ta pompe arborant les plumes et les casques."

It is not possible to give here either an architectural review or a historical chronology of Versailles; either could be made the raison d'être for a weighty volume.

The writer has confined himself merely to a more or less correlated series of patent facts and incidents which, of itself, shows well the futility of any other treatment being given of a subject so vast within the single chapter of a book.

The history of Versailles is a story of the people and events that reflected the glory and grandeur of the Grand Monarque of the Bourbons and made his palace and its environs a more sublime expression of earthly pomp than anything which had gone before, or has come to pass since.

Versailles, after its completion, became the perfect expression of the decadence and demoralization of the old régime. It can only be compared to the relations between du Barry and the young Marie Antoinette, who was all that was contrary to all for which the former stood.

That the court of Louis XV was artificially brilliant there is no doubt. It was this that made it stand out from the sombre background of the masses of the time. It was a dazzling, human spectacle, and Versailles, with its extravagant, superficial charms, carried it very near to the brink of ruin, though even in its most banal vulgarities there was a certain sense of ambitious sincerity. The people of the peasant class lived as animals, "black, livid and scorched by the sun." The sense of all this penetrated readily even to Versailles, so that La Pompadour or Louis, one or the other of them, or was it both together, cried out instinctively: "Apres nous le deluge."

The intricacies of the etiquette of the daily life of the king, his follies and fancies, made the history of Versailles the most brilliant of that of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries—certainly it was the most opulent. The manners of the time were better than the morals, and if good taste in art and architecture had somewhat fallen there is no doubt but that a charming fantasy often made up for a lack of estheticism.

The story of the palace, the park, the king and his court are so interwoven that no résumé of the story of one can ignore that of any of the others. The king and court present themselves against this background with an intimacy and a clearness which is remarkable for its appeal to one's curiosity. It is a long, long day of life which begins with the petit lever and only ends with the grand coucher.

If there was ever a Castle of Indolence and Profligacy it was Versailles, though indeed it is regarded as the monarchy's brilliant zenith. The picture is an unforgetable one to any who have ever read its history or seen its stones.

In the year 1650, Martial de Lomenci, one of the ministers of Charles IX, was the Seigneur of Versailles, but at the will of Catherine de Médici he was summarily strangled that she might get possession of the property and make a present of it to her favourite, Albert de Gondi, Maréchal de Retz.

About 1625 Louis XIII had caused a small hunting pavilion to be built near by and, by degrees, acquiring more land took it into his head to erect something more magnificent in the way of a country-house, though the real conception of a suburban Paris palace only came with Louis XIV.

Levau, the latter's architect, made the necessary alterations to the structure already existing, and little by little the more magnificent project known in its completed form to-day was evolved. War not being actually in progress, or imminent, great bodies of soldiery were set at work with pick and shovel, and at one time thirty thousand had laid aside their sabres and muskets for the more peaceful art of garden-making under the direction of Le Notre.

In three decades the sum total of the chief roll of expenses of the palace and its dependencies reached eighty-one million, one hundred and fifty-one thousand, four hundred and fourteen livres, nine sols and two deniers. It is perhaps even more interesting to know that of this vast sum more than three millions went for marble, twenty-one millions for masonry, two and a half millions for the rougher woodwork and a like sum for marquetry. Other additional "trifling" embellishments of Versailles and the Trianon during the same period counted up another six million and a half.

The expense of these works was enormous on all sides. Water being required for the purpose of supplying the fountains it was proposed that the waters of the Eure should be turned from their original bed and made to pass through Versailles, and the enterprise was actually begun. Beyond the gardens was formed the Little Park, about four leagues around, and beyond this lay the Great Park, measuring twenty leagues around and enclosing several forest villages. The total expenses of these works may never have been exactly known, but they must have been immense, that is certain, and have even been estimated at as much as one billion francs. The works were so far completed in 1664 that the first Versailles fête was given to consecrate the palace. In honour of this event Molière composed "La Princesse d'Elide."

The improvements, however, were continued, and in 1670, Levau, dying, was succeeded by his nephew, Jules Hardouin Mansart, who wished to destroy the chateau of Louis XIII and erect one uniform building. Louis XIV, out of respect to his father, would not allow Mansart's project to be carried out and therefore alterations were only made in the court by surrounding it on the western side with the magnificent buildings now forming the garden front. The southern wing was subsequently added for the accommodation of the younger members of the royal family. In 1685 the northern wing was erected to meet the requirements of the attachés of the court. The chapel was commenced in 1699 and finished in 1710.

Louis XIV took up his residence in the palace in 1681 with Madame de Montespan, and, thirty-five years afterwards, died there, the reigning favourite then being Madame de Maintenon. During this time Versailles was the theatre of many extraordinary scenes. Louis XV was born here but did not take up his residence here until after he was of age. Here it was that his favourites Madame de Chateauroux, Madame de Pompadour and Madame du Barry found themselves most at home. It was under the direction of this monarch that the theatre was built in the northern wing, and was formally opened on the occasion of the marriage of the dauphin, Louis XVI, in 1770.

Towards the end of the reign of Louis XV a new wing and pavilion were added on the northern side of the principal court, and it was proposed to build across the court a new front in the same uniform style. The idea could not be carried out in consequence of the troublous times of Louis XVI and the enormous estimated expense. The Revolution intervened and Versailles remained closed until it was reopened by the first Napoleon, who, however, was unable to take up his residence in it on account of his frequent campaigns afield.

At the Restoration Louis XVIII, as the representative of the ancient monarchy, wished to make Versailles the seat of the court, but was deterred from doing so by the appalling previous expense. During the reigns of both Napoleon and Louis XVIII considerable sums were expended in its refurbishing so that it was not wholly a bygone when finally the French authorities made of it, if not the chief, at least the most popular monument historique of all France.

And yet the aspect of Versailles is sadly wearying. To-day Versailles is lonely; one is haunted by the silence and the bareness, if not actual emptiness. Only once in seven years does the old palace take on any air of the official life of the Republic, and that is when the two legislative bodies join forces and come to Versailles to vote for the new president. For the rest of the time it is deserted, save for the guardians and visitors, a memory only of the splendours imagined and ordained by Louis XIV.

For nearly a century the master craftsmen of a nation conspired to its beatification, and certainly for gorgeousness and extravagance Versailles has merited any encomiums which have ever been expended upon it. It was made and remade by five generations of the cleverest workers who ever lived, until it took supreme rank as the greatest storehouse of luxurious trifles in all the world.

One wearies though of the straight lines and long vistas of Versailles, the endless repetition of classical motives, which, while excellent, each in its way, do pall upon one in an inexplicable fashion. It possesses, however, a certain dignity and grace in every line. This is a fact which one can not deny. It is expressive of—well, of nothing but Versailles, and the part it played in the life of its time.

The millions for Versailles were obtained in ways too devious and lengthy to follow up here. Even Louis XIV began to see before the end the condition into which he had led the nation, though he punished every one who so much as hinted at his follies. Vauban, "the hero of a hundred sieges," published a book on the relations between the king and court and the tax-paying masses and was disgraced forever after, dying within a few months of a broken heart that he should have been so impotent in attempting to bring about a reform.

The life of the king at Versailles had little of privacy in it. From his rising to his going to bed he was constantly in the hands of his valets and courtiers, even receiving ambassadors of state while he was still half hidden by the heavy curtains of his great four-poster. They had probably been waiting hours in the Salon de l'Œl de Bœuf before being admitted to the kingly presence.

It was at this period that Michael Chamillard, the Minister of War, introduced billiards into France by the way of Versailles. He played with Louis XIV and pleased him greatly, but Chamillard was no statesman, as history and the following lines from his epitaph point out.

"Ci git le fameux Chamillard
De son Roy le pronotaire
Qui fut un heros au billard
Un zero dans le Ministère."

This apartment of the Œil de Bœuf was the ancient Cabi du Conseil. It is a wonderfully decorated apartment, and its furnishings, beyond those which are actually built into the fabric, are likewise of a splendour and good taste which it is to be regretted is not everywhere to be noted in the vast palace of Louis XIV. The garnishings of the chimney-piece alone would make any great room interesting and well furnished, and the great golden clock, finely chiselled and brilliantly burnished, is about the most satisfactory French clock one ever saw, marking, as it does, in its style, the transition between that of Louis XIV and Louis XV.

Versailles, in many respects, falls far short to-day of the ideal; its very bigness and bareness greatly detract from the value of the historic souvenir which has come down to us. Changes could undoubtedly be made to advantage, and to this point much agitation has lately been directed, particularly in cutting out some of the recently grown up trees which have spoiled the classic vistas of the park, and the removal of those ugly equestrian statues which the Monarchy of July erected.

Versailles only came under Napoleon's cursory regard for a brief moment. He hardly knew whether he would care to make his home here or not, but ordered his architects to make estimates for certain projects which he had conceived and when he got them was so staggered at their magnitude that he at once threw over any idea that he may have had of making it his dwelling.

The Revolution had stripped the palace quite bare; no wonder that the emperor balked at the cost of putting it in order. Napoleon may have had his regrets for he made various allusions to Versailles while exiled at Saint Helena, but then it was too late.

Louis Philippe took a matter-of-fact view of the possible service that the vast pile might render to his family and accordingly spent much money in a great expanse of gaudy wall decorations which are there to-day, thinking to make of it a show place over which might preside the genius of his sons.

These acres of meaningless battle-pieces, Algerian warfare and what not are characteristic of the "Citizen-King" whose fondness for red plush, green repp and horsehair sofas was notable. What he did at Versailles was almost as great a vandalism against art as that wrought by the Revolution.

Last scene of all:—Under Lebrun's magnificent canopied ceiling, where the effigy of Louis XIV is being crowned by the Goddess of Glory, and the German eagle sits on a denuded tree trunk screaming in agony and beating his wings in despair, William of Prussia was proclaimed Emperor of United Germany. It was almost as great an indignity as France ever suffered; the only greater was when the Prussians marched through the Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile. That was, and is, the Frenchman's—the Parisian's, at all events—culminating grief.

The apartment referred to is the Grand Galerie des Glaces (or Galerie Louis XIV), which is accredited as one of the most magnificently appointed rooms of its class in all the world. It is nearly two hundred and fifty feet in length, nearly forty feet in width, and forty-three feet in height. It is lighted by seventeen large arched windows, which correspond with arched niches on the opposite wall filled with mirrors—hence the name.

Sixty Corinthian columns of red marble with bases and capitals of gilt bronze fill up the intervening wall spaces. The vaulted ceiling by Lebrun is divided into eighteen small compartments and nine of much larger dimensions, in which are allegorically represented the principal events in the history of Louis XIV, from the Peace of the Pyrenees to that of Nymeguen.

It was in this splendid apartment that Louis XIV displayed the grandeur of royalty in its highest phase and such was the luxury of the times, such the splendour of the court, that its immense size could hardly contain the crowd of courtiers that pressed around the monarch.

Several splendid fêtes took place in this great room, of which those of the marriage of the Duc de Bourgogne in 1697 and that given on the arrival of Marie Antoinette were the most brilliant.

Following are three pen-pictures of this historic palace.

The Versailles of Long Ago. It was to Versailles that the Grand Roi repaired after his stern chase of the Spaniards across Flanders; through the wood of Saint Germain and over those awful cobblestones which Parisians know so well to-day rolled the gilded carrosse of the king. He had already been announced by a runner who had also brought news of the latest victory. Courtiers and populace alike crowded the streets of the town in an effort to acquire a good place from which to see the arrival of the king. Intendants and servitors were giving orders on all sides, frequently contradictory, and gardeners were furbishing up the alleyed walks and flower beds in readiness for Sa Majesté Louis Quatorze and all his little world of satellites. A majestic effervescence bubbled over all, and the bourgeoisie enjoyed itself hugely, climbing even on roof-tops and gables in the town without the palace gates.

The Roi Soleil came at last to his "well-beloved city of Versailles." "He arrived in a cloud of golden dust," said a writer of the time, and any who have seen Versailles blazing and treeless in the middle of a long, hot summer, will know what it was like on that occasion.

Cannons roared, and the sound of revelry and welcoming joy was everywhere to be heard.

The Versailles of Yesterday. The lugubrious booming of cannons came rolling over the meanderings of the Seine from the capital. The hard-heads of Paris would understand nothing; they would make flow never-ceasing rivers of blood. The national troops were well-nigh impotent; it was difficult to shoot down your own flesh and blood at any time; doubly so when your native land has not yet been evacuated by a venturesome enemy. It was the time of the Commune. Traffic at Versailles was of that intensity that circulation was almost impossible. In spite of a dismal April rain the town was full of all sorts and conditions of men. The animation of the crowd was feverish, but it was without joy. A convoy of prisoners passed between two lines of soldiers with drawn bayonets. They were Frenchmen, but they were Communards. It was but a moment before they were behind the barred doors of the barracks which was to be their prison, packed like a troop of sheep for the slaughter. Versailles itself, the palace and the town, were still sad. The rain still fell in torrents.

The Versailles of To-day. Roses, begonias, geraniums, the last of a long hot summer, still shed their fragrant memories over the park of Versailles. In the long, sober alleys a few leaves had already dropped from the trees above, marking the greensward and the gravel like a tapis d'orient, red and green and gold.

Flora and Bacchus in their fountains seemed less real than ever before, more sombre under the pale, trickling light through the trees. A few scattered visitors were about, sidling furtively around the Trianon, the Colonnade and the Bosquet d'Apollon; and the birds of the wood were even now bethinking of their winter pilgrimage. Versailles was still sad. The last rays of the setting sun shot forth reflected gold from the windows of the chateau and soon the silver blue veil of a September twilight came down like a curtain of gauze.

Versailles, the Versailles of other days, is gone forever. Who will awaken its echoes in after years? When will the Trianon again awake with the coquetries of a queen? When will the city of the Roi Soleil come again into its own proud splendour?

The sun has set, the great iron gates of the courtyard are closed, the palace and all therein sleeps.

"Allon nous en d'ici: laissons la place aux ombres."


CHAPTER XVI

THE GARDENS OF VERSAILLES AND THE TRIANONS

Versailles without its court of marble, its fountains, its gardens and its park, and the attendant Grand and Petit Trianons, would hardly have the attraction that it has to-day.

The ensemble is something of more vast and varied extent than is to be seen elsewhere, though its aspect has somewhat changed from what it was of old, and the crowds of Sunday and holiday visitors give the courts and alleyed walks somewhat the aspect of a modern amusement resort.

The gardens of Versailles were but the framing of a princely dwelling created to respond to the requirements of a court which was attempting to do things on a grand scale. Everything was designed with most magnificent outlines; everything was royal, in all verity—architecture, garden-making, fêtes, receptions and promenades. What setting, then, could have been more appropriate to the life of the times?

Versailles, the town, had never prospered, and has never proved sufficiently attractive to become a popular suburb; and, though to-day it passed the mark of half a hundred thousand population, it never would have existed at all had it not been for the palace of Louis XIV.

Were it not for the palace and its attributes, Versailles would have absolutely no memories for visitors, except such as may have lunched well at the Hotel des Reservoirs or the Hotel du Trianon. That is not everything, to be sure; but it is something, even when one is on an historic pilgrimage.

Even in the day of Louis XVI the popular taste was changing and Versailles was contemptuously referred to as a world of automota, of cold, unfeeling statuary and of Noah's Ark trees and forests. There was always a certain air of self-satisfaction about it, as there is, to-day, when the Parisian hordes come out to see the waters play, and the sight-seers marvel at the mock splendour and the scraps of history doled out for their delectation by none-too-painstaking guardians.

In spite of all this, no sober-minded student of art or history will ever consider Versailles, the palace and the park, as other than a superb and a spectacular demonstration of the taste of the times in which it was planned, built and lived in.

Versailles was begun in 1624 by Louis XIII, who built here a humble hunting-lodge for the disciples of Saint Hubert of whom he was the royal head. So humble an erection was it that the monarch referred to it simply as a "petite maison" and paid for it out of his own pocket, a rare enough proceeding at that epoch.

The critical Bassompierre called it a "chetif chateau," and Saint-Simon referred to it as a "house of cards." Manifestly, then, it was no great thing. It was, however, a comfortable country-house, surrounded by a garden and a more ample park.

It was not Lemercier, the presiding genius of the Louvre at this time, but an unknown by the name of Le Roy, whom Louis XIII chose as his architect.

Boyceau traced the original parterres with a central basin at a crossroads of two wide avenues. Each of the four compartments thus made was ornamented with broderies and trimmed hedges, and the open spaces were ingeniously filled with parti-coloured sands, or earth. A parterre of flowers immediately adjoined the palace and rudimentary alleys and avenues stretched off towards the wood. Although designed by Boyceau, this work was actually executed by his nephew, Jacques de Menours, who, with difficulty, collected his pay. His books of account showed that in five years, from 1631 to 1636, he had drawn but once a year a sum varying from fifteen hundred to four thousand livres while in the same period the king had spent on the rest of the work at Versailles two hundred and thirty-eight thousand livres, thirty-two sols, six deniers, nearly one million one hundred thousand francs of the money of to-day.

The first of the outdoor embellishments of the palace at Versailles is the great Cour Royale, or the Cour d'Honneur, which opens out behind the long range of iron gates facing upon the Place d'Armes. At the foot of this entrance court is an extension called the Cour de Marbre. This Cour de Marbre, on January 5, 1757, was the scene of the infamous attack on Louis XV by Damiens, just as the king was starting out for the Trianon.

A thick redingote saved the king's life; but for "this mere pin-prick," according to Voltaire, the monarch went immediately to bed, and five times in succession sought absolution for his sins. Sins lay heavy even on royal heads in those days.

Damiens was but a thick-witted, superstitious valet, who, more or less persecuted by the noble employers with whom he had been in service at various times, sought to avenge himself, not on them, but on their king, as the figurehead of all that was rotten in the social hierarchy. Louis, heretofore known as the "Bien Aimé," had become suddenly unpopular because of the disastrous war against England and Germany, and his prodigal dissipation of public moneys.

Cour de Marbre, Versailles Cour de Marbre, Versailles

Stretching out behind the palace are the famous gardens, the parterres, the tapis vert, the fountains and the grand canal, with the park of the Trianons off to the right.

Good fortune came to Louis XIV when he found André Le Notre, for it was he and no other who traced the general lines of the garden of the Versailles which was to be. He laid a generous hand upon the park and forest which had surrounded the manor of Louis XIII, and extended the garden to the furthermost limits of his ingenuity. Modifications were rapid, and from 1664 the parterres and the greensward took on entirely new forms and effects. The Parterre des Reservoirs became the Parterre du Nord, and an alley of four rows of lindens enclosed the park on all sides. The Parterre à Fleurs, or the Jardin du Roy, between the chateau and the Orangerie, was laid out anew.

By the following year the park began to take on the homogeneity which it had hitherto lacked. The great Rondeau, as it was called, and which became later the Bassin du Dragon, was excavated, and the Jardin Bas, or the Nouveau Parterre, with an oval depression, was also planned.

At one end of the park was the celebrated Menagerie du Roy, where the rare and exotic animals collected by the monarch had "a palace more magnificent than the home of any other dumb animals in the world." This was the first period of formal garden construction at Versailles, and it was also the period when the first great impetus was given to sculptural decoration.

In 1679, following a journey in Italy, Le Notre took up again the work on the gardens at Versailles, devoting himself to the region south of the palace which hitherto had been ignored. This was Le Notre's most prolific period.

The creations at Versailles can be divided into two distinct epochs, that before 1670 and that coming after. After Le Notre's generous design, the king and queen were seemingly never satisfied with the endless plotting and planting which was carried on beneath the windows of the palace, and in many instances changed the colour schemes and even the outlines of Le Notre's original conceptions.

The Versailles of to-day is no longer the Versailles of Louis XIII, so far as the actual disposition of details goes. Then there was very little green grass and much sand and gravel, a scheme of decoration which entered largely into the seventeenth century garden. This refers principally to the general effect, for Le Notre made much use of the enclosing battery of lindens, chestnuts and elms of a majestic and patriarchal grandeur which have since been cut and replaced by smaller species of trees, or not replaced at all.

No sooner were the ornamental gardens planned at Versailles than the Potager du Roy, or fruit and vegetable garden, was created. This same garden exists to-day with almost its former outlines. Here a soil sufficiently humid, and yet sufficiently well drained, contributed not a little towards the success of this most celebrated of all kitchen gardens the world has known.

The work of installing a further system of artificial drainage was immediately begun, and the Eaux des Suisses was created, to take the place of a former stagnant pool near by. Undoubtedly it was a stupendous work, like all the projects launched with regard to Versailles, but, like the others, it was brought to a speedy and successful conclusion. The details of the history of this royal vegetable garden are fully set forth in a work published in 1690 by the son of the designer, the Abbé Michel de la Quintinye, in two bulky volumes. "It was meet that a royal vegetable garden should have been designed by a 'Gentleman Gardener,'" said the faithful biographer in his foreword, and as such the man and the work are to be considered here.

The work was accomplished by the combined efforts of a gracious talent and the expenditure of much money, put at La Quintinye's disposition by his royal master, who had but to put his hand deep into the coffers of the royal treasury to draw it forth filled with gold. Critics have said that La Quintinye's ability stopped with the preparation of the soil, and with the design of the garden, rather than with the actual cultivation, but at all events it was he who made the garden possible.

La Quintinye adopted Arnauld d'Andilly's method of planting fruit trees en espalier by training them against a wall-like background, and to accomplish this divided the garden plot, which covered an area of eight hectares (twenty acres), into a great number of subdivisions enclosed by walls, in order to multiply to as great an extent as possible the available space to be used for the espaliers. Again, these same walls served to shelter certain varieties which were planted close against them. If this Potager du Roy was not actually the first garden of its class so laid out, it was certainly one of the most extensive and the most successful up to that time.

The great terraces of at least two metres in width surrounded the central garden, leaving a free area for the latter which approximated three hectares.

These terraces were divided into twenty-eight compartments, forming nine distinct varieties of gardens.

The celebrated gardener of Louis XIV sought not only to obtain fruits and vegetables of a superior quality and an abundant quantity, but was the first among his kind to produce early vegetables, or primeurs, in any considerable quantity, and, by a process of forced culture, he was able to put upon the table of the monarch asparagus in December, lettuce in January, cauliflower in March and strawberries in April. All these may be found at the Paris markets to-day, and at these seasons, but the growing of primeurs for the Paris markets has become a great industry since the time it was first begun at Versailles.

Of asparagus La Quintinye said, "It is a vegetable that only kings can ever hope to eat."

The Potager du Roy was begun in 1678, and completed in 1683. It cost, all told, one million one hundred and seventy thousand nine hundred and eighty-three livres of which four hundred and sixty-seven thousand three hundred and sixty-four went for constructions in brick and stone, walls, enclosures and drains. Its annual maintenance (1685) amounted to twenty thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine livres. The effort proved one of great benefit to its creator, for La Quintinye, at the completion of this work, received further commissions of a like nature from the Prince de Condé, the Duc de Montansier, Colbert, Fouquet and others.

So great a marvel was this vegetable garden at Versailles that it was the object of a pilgrimage of the Doge of Venice in 1685, and of the Siamese ambassadors in the following year. The garden has been preserved as an adjunct to Versailles up to the present day. For two centuries its product went to the "Service de Bouche" of the chief of state, that is, the royal dinner table; but in 1875 the Minister of Agriculture installed there the French National Horticultural College, which to-day, with a widened scope, has admitted ornamental plants and trees to this famous garden. Nevertheless the general outlines have been preserved, though certain of the terraces have disappeared, as well as many of the walls of the original enclosure, thus reducing the number of garden plots; in fact but sixteen distinctly defined gardens remain, including the Clos aux Asperges.

The Potager du Roy, Versailles The Potager du Roy, Versailles

The general lines of the garden design of Le Notre and Boyceau at Versailles are to be noted to-day, but if anything the maintenance of the gardens is hardly the equal of what it was in the time of Louis XIV and a seeming disaster has fallen upon Versailles as these lines are being written.

The military authorities have set aside, as a site for an aerostation camp, some twenty-five acres of the park near Rocquencourt. This is one of the loveliest parts, shaded by magnificent trees which, presumably, will have to be sacrificed, since, if left standing, they would certainly interfere with maneuvering with military aeroplanes, dirigibles and balloons.

At a time when deforestation is recognized to be one of the greatest dangers that menace a country's prosperity, one of its consequences being such inundations as those which recently devastated Paris and the Seine valley, it is regrettable that the forest surrounding Versailles should be depleted.

Furthermore, the realization of the project means a loss of revenue to the state which at present derives some sixty thousand francs a year from the farming lease of this portion of the park.

Therefore, for material considerations, as well as because Versailles and its surroundings should be preserved intact as a noble relic of one of the grandest periods of French history, one of the most beautiful creations of French genius, the project attributed to the military authorities is short-sighted. To diminish the attractions of Versailles would certainly prove an unwise policy, as the stream of tourists, which is the chief source of profit to Versailles and its population, would inevitably be diverted to some other channel.

Only a short time ago a Société des Amis de Versailles was created for the purpose of safeguarding its artistic and natural beauties. The government gave the organization its approbation and there is something delightfully ironical in the fact that the military authorities of the same government are planning to destroy what the society, fathered by the Ministère des Beaux Arts, was formed to preserve.

Another modern aspect of the park of Versailles was noted during the late winter when, after a sharp freeze, all the youth of Paris had seemingly gone out to Versailles for the skating only to be met by a freshly-posted notice which read:

Defense
De Patiner Par
Arrêté du 17 Decembre, 1849

These signs were posted here and there about the park, in the courtyard, on the postern gate, on trees, everywhere. The authorities were bound that there should be no flagrant violation of the order of 1849.

The Bassin de Latone, Versailles The Bassin de Latone, Versailles

"You see," said one of the park guardians, "c'est defendu; but as we are only two and the crowd is very large we can do nothing." This was evident. Thousands overran the Grand Canal, which at its greatest depth was scarcely more than a yard to the bottom, and so, despite of monarchial decree, Republican France still skates on the ornamental waters of Versailles when occasion offers.

"N'oubliez pas le petit balayeur, s'il vous plait," was as often heard as "Allez vous-en."

On the whole it was rather a picturesque sight. A thick haze hung over the now white "Tapis Vert," and the nude figures of the Bassin d'Apollon were clothed in a mantle of snow, while the white-robed statues of the Allée Royale, one could well believe, shivered as one passed.

The fountains of Versailles, the "Grands Eaux" and "Petits Eaux," which shoot their jets in air "semi-occasionally" for the benefit of Paris's "good papas" and their children, are distinctly popular features, and of an artistic worth neither less nor greater than most garden accessories of the artificial order. The fact that it costs something like ten thousand francs to "play" these fountains seems to be the chief memory which one retains of them in operation, unless it be the crowds which make the going and coming so uncomfortable.

The Orangerie lies just below the terrace of the Parterre du Midi, and a thousand or more non-bearing orange trees are scattered about. They are descendants of fifteenth century ancestors, it is claimed—but doubtfully.

The great basin of water known as the Eaux des Suisses was excavated by the Swiss Guard of Louis XIV to serve the useful purpose of irrigating the Potager du Roy, and as a decorative effect of great value to that part of the garden upon which faces the fourteen-hundred-foot front of the palace.

Still farther off towards the Bois de Satory, after crossing the Tapis Vert, lie the famous Bassins de Latone and Apollon, the Bassin du Miroir and, finally, the Grand Canal, with one transverse branch leading to the Menagerie (now the government stud-farm) and the other to the Trianons.

The Fountain of Neptune, Versailles The Fountain of Neptune, Versailles

The satellite palaces known as the Grand and Petit Trianons are, like the Palace of Versailles itself, of such an abounding historical interest that it were futile to attempt more than a mere intimation of their comparative rank and aspect.

The rather sprawling, one-story, horseshoe-shaped villa built by Louis XIV for Madame de Maintenon, and known as the Grand Trianon, was an architectural conception of Mansart's.

It is worth remarking that the Grand Trianon, to-day, is in a more nearly perfect state than it has been for long past, for the restorations lately made have removed certain interpolations manifestly out of place.

It is due to M. de Nolhac, the Conservateur du Musée de Versailles, that this happy amelioration has been brought about and that Mansart's admirable work is again as it was in the days of Madame de Maintenon and those of the later Napoleon I.

In spite of all this the Trianon of to-day is not what it was in the eighteenth century. "Madame de Maintenon," said de Musset, "made of Versailles an oratory, but La Pompadour turned it into a boudoir." He also called the Trianon: "a tiny chateau of porcelain." It was, too, the boudoir of Madame de Montespan.

Louis XV, too, built, or furnished, discreet boudoirs of this order on every hand. More than one great gallery in which his elders had done big things he divided and subdivided into minute apartments and papered the walls, or painted them, all colours of the rainbow, or hung them with silks or velvets.

"Don't you think my little apartment shows good taste," he asked one day of the Comtesse de Séran at Versailles.

"Not at all," she replied, "I would much rather that the walls were hung in blue."

That particular apartment was in rose, but, since blue was the favourite colour of the monarch, the reply was but flattering. The next time that his friend, the Comtesse, appeared on the scene the apartment had all been done over in blue.

The monarch soon began to turn his attention to the gardens. Bowers, labyrinths and vases and statues were inexplicably mixed as in a maze. He began to have the "gout pastoral," his biographer has said, a vogue that Madame du Barry and Marie Antoinette came in time to push to its limits.

The king was too ready to admire all that was suggested, all that was offered, and the ultimate effect was—well, it was the opposite of what he hoped it to be, though doubtless he did not realize it.

Petit Trianon Petit Trianon

In the garden of the Grand Trianon is a great basin with a cascade flowing down over a sort of a high altar arrangement in red and white marble called the Buffet de l'Architecture, and evolved by Mansart. This architect certainly succeeded much better with his purely architectural conceptions than he did with interpolated decorative elements intended to relieve a formal landscape.

The Petit Trianon, the pride of Louis XV, was designed by the architect Gabriel, and its reigning goddess was Marie Antoinette. Souvenirs of the unhappy queen are many, but the caretakers are evidently bored with their duties and hustle you through the apartments with scant ceremony that they may doze again undisturbed in their corners.

The garden of the Petit Trianon is a veritable Jardin Anglais, that is, the decorative portion, where sweeps and curves, as meaningless as those one sees on banknotes and no more decorative, are found in place of the majestic lines of the formal garden when laid out after the French manner.

The Hameau, where is the dairy where the queen played housewife and shepherdess, is just to the rear of this bijou palace and looks stagy and unreal enough to be the wings and back-drop of a pastoral play.

Near Versailles was the Chateau de Clagny, with a garden laid out by Le Notre, quite the rival of many better known. Of it Madame de Sévigné wrote: "It is the Palais d'Armide; you know the manner of Le Notre; here he has done his best."

The Couvent des Recollettes, just across the Bois de Satory, was built by Louis XIV out of regard for the religieux whom he displaced from an edifice which stood upon a plot which was actually needed for the palace gardens. The Chateaux of Noisy and Molineaux were also affiliated with Versailles.

The rest of the surroundings and accessories of Versailles are mere adjunctive details of those chief features here mentioned. To catalogue them even would be useless since they are all set down in the guidebooks.


CHAPTER XVII

SAINT GERMAIN-EN-LAYE

Saint Germain has not the popularity of Versailles, nor the charm of Fontainebleau, but it is more accessible than either, and, if less known and less visited by the general mass of tourists, it is all the more delightful for that.

Saint Germain, the chateau, the town and the forest, possess a magnificent site. Behind is a wooded background, and before one are the meanderings of the Seine which in the summer sunlight is a panorama which is to be likened to no other on earth. Across the river bottom run the great tree-lined roadways, straight as the proverbial flight of the arrow, while on the horizon, looking from the celebrated terrace, one sees to-day the silhouetted outline of Paris with the Tour Eiffel and the dome of the Sacré Cœur as the culminating points.

The town itself is ugly and ill-paved, and heavy-booted dragoons make a hideous noise as they clank along to and from the cavalry barracks all through the day and night. Neither are scorching automobiles making their ways to Trouville and Dieppe over the "Route des Quarante Sous" a pleasant feature. One can ignore all these things, however, for what is left is of a superlative charm.


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Saint Germain-en-Laye in the first stages of French history was but a vast extent of forest which under Charlemagne came to the possession of the monks of the Abbaye de Saint Germain-des-Prés. The first royal palace here was built by King Robert in the tenth century, practically upon the site of the present edifice. In the eleventh century there came into being another royal dwelling, and in the twelfth century Louis-le-Gros built a chateau-fort as a protection to the royal residence and monastery. This did not prevent the Black Prince from very nearly burning them down on one of his bold raids, but by 1367, Charles V re-erected the "castel" of Saint Germain-en-Laye.

The English, by coercion, induced a monk of a neighbouring establishment at Nanterre to deliver up a set of false keys by which the great gates of the castle were surreptitiously opened, and, for a time, the descendants of the Conqueror held possession.

The establishment of Charles V in no way satisfying the artistic ambitions of Francis I, that monarch gave the task of reconstruction to the architect Pierre Chambiges, in 1539, preserving only the Saint Chapelle of Saint Louis and the donjon.

The building must have gone forward with an extreme rapidity for at the architect's death, in 1544, it had reached nearly the level of the rooftop.

Chambiges' successor was his son-in-law, Guillaume Guillain, who, without changing the primitive plan, completed the work in 1548.

Saint Germain, above the first story, is essentially a construction of bricks, but the effect is even now, as Chambiges originally intended, an edifice with its main constructive elements of lower sustaining walls and buttresses of stone binding together the slighter fabric, or filling, above. Although it is Renaissance through and through, Saint Germain shows not the slightest reminiscence of anything Italian and must be considered entirely as an achievement of French genius.

This edifice of Francis I was more a fortress than a palace in spite of its decorative features, and Henri II, desiring something more of a luxurious royal residence, began what the historians and savants know as the Chateau Neuf—the palace of to-day which stands high on the hill overlooking the winding Seine, to which seducing stream the gardens originally descended in terraces.

Chiefly it is to Henri IV that this structure owes its distinction, for previously work went on but intermittently, and very slowly. Henri IV brought the work to completion and made the chateau his preferred and most prolonged place of residence, as indeed did his successor.

It is the Chateau Neuf of the time of Henri IV which is to-day known as the Palais de Saint Germain-en-Laye. Of the Vieux Chateau only some fragmentary walls and piles of débris, the Pavillon Henri IV, and, in part, the old royal chapel remain.

Actually the structure of to-day includes that part of the Hotel du Pavillon Henri IV which is used as a restaurant.

Henri IV and Louis XIII gave Saint Germain its first great éclat as a suburban place of sojourn, and from the comings and goings of the court of that time there gradually grew up the present city of twenty thousand inhabitants; not all of them of courtly manners, as one learns from a recollection of certain facts of contemporary modern history.

During the days when Mazarin actually held the reins of state the court was frequently at Saint Germain. Louis XIV was born here, and until Versailles and Marly came into being he made it his principal dwelling.

It was in one of the magnificent apartments, too, midway between the angle turrets of the façade, Louis XIII ended his unhappy existence in 1642. His own private band of musicians played a "De Profundis" of his own composition to waft his soul on its long journey.

The chroniclers describe one of the monarch's last conversations as follows: "When they transport my body to Paris after my soul has flown, Laporte, remember that place where the road turns under the hill; it is a rough road, Laporte, and will surely shake my bones sadly if the driver does not go slowly."

Those who have journeyed out from Paris to Saint Germain by road in this later century will appreciate the necessity for the admonition.

Louis XIV, unlike Louis XIII, detested Saint Germain beyond words, because the towers of the Abbaye de Saint Denis, where he was destined one day to be buried, were visible from the terrace. Louis XV was not so particular for he was so morbid that he even loved, as he claimed himself, the scent of new-made graves.

The arrival of Anne d'Autriche and the royal family at Saint Germain during the war of the Fronde was one of the most dramatic incidents of the period. They had travelled half the night, coming from the Palais Royal only to find a palace awaiting them which was unheated and unfurnished though the time was mid-January. Always drear and gaunt it was immeasurably so on this occasion. Mazarin had made no provision for the queen's arrival; there, were neither beds, tables nor linen in their proper places, no servants, no attendants of any kind, only the guardians of the palace. The queen was obliged to take rest from her fatigue on a folding camp bedstead, without covering of any kind. The princes fared no better, actually sleeping on the floor.

There were plenty of mirrors and much gold gingerbread on the walls and ceilings, but no furniture. The personal belongings which the court had brought with them were few. No one had a change of clothing even; those worn one day were washed the next. However the queen good-naturedly smiled through it all. She called it "an escapade which can hardly last a week."

All Paris was by this time crying "Vive la Fronde": "Mort à Mazarin": but it proved to be something more than a little affair of a week, as we now know.

At this period, when Anne d'Autriche was practically a prisoner at Saint Germain, the picture made by the old chateau against its forest background was undeniably more imposing than that which one sees to-day. The glorious forest was not then hidden by rows of banal roof-tops, and the dull drabs of barracks and prisons.

In the warm spring mornings the glittering façade of the chateau was brilliant as a diamond against its setting, and the radiating avenues of the park leading from the famous terrace stretched out into infinite vistas that were most alluring. This effect, fortunately, is not wholly lost to-day.

At night things were as idyllic as by day. The queen and her ladies, relieved of the dreary presence of the king who still remained at Paris, revelled in an unwonted freedom. Concerts, suppers and dances were the rule and moonlight cavalcades to the heart of the forest, or promenades on foot the length of the terrace, and by some romantically disposed couples far beyond, gave a genuine "begone, dull care" aspect to court life which was not at all possible in the capital.

The following picture, taken from a court chronicle, might apply as well to-day if one makes due allowance for a refulgence of myriad lamps gleaming out Parisward as night draws in.

"It is a rare moonlight night. The queen and her ladies have emerged late on the stately terrace of Henri IV which borders upon the forest and extends for nearly a league along the edge of the height upon which stands the chateau.

"The queen and her brother-in-law, Gaston, Duc d'Orleans, have seated themselves somewhat apart from the rest beside the stone balustrade which overlooks the steep descent to the plain below. Vineyards line the hillside and the Seine flows far beneath, the fertile river-bottom rich with groves and orchards, villas and gardens. Still more distant sweeps away the great plain wrapped in dark shadows punctuated here and there with great splotches of moonlight. Of the great city beyond (the Paris of to-day, whose myriad glow-worm lights actually do lend an additional charm) not a vestige is to be seen. Scarcely a lantern marks the existence of a living soul in the vast expanse below, but the moon, high in the heavens, plots out the entire landscape with a wonderful impressiveness, and the stars topping the forest trees to the rear and the heights which rise on the distant horizon lend their quota of romanticism, and, as if by their scintillations, mark the almost indiscernible towers of the old Abbey of Saint Denis to the left.

"'Oh, what a lovely night,' said the queen to her companion. Again it is the old chronicler who speaks. 'Can the world ever appear so calm and peaceful elsewhere?'"

This Terrasse de Henri IV, so called, is one of the most splendid and best-known terraces in Europe, and is noted for its extent as well as for its marvellous point of view, the whole panorama Parisward being spread out before one as if on a map, a view which extends from the Chateau de Maisons on the left to the Aqueduct de Marly and the heights of Louveciennes on the right, including the Bois de Vesinet, Mont Valerian, Montmartre and the whole Parisian panorama as far as the Coteaux de Montmorency.

The Valley of the Seine, from the Terrace at Saint Germain The Valley of the Seine, from the Terrace at Saint Germain

This terrace, too, was the project and construction of Le Notre in 1672. It is two and a half kilometres in length and thirty metres in width, upheld by a stone retaining wall which is surmounted by a balustrade. It extends from the Pavillon Henri IV to a gun battery well within the confines of the forest. Entrance from the precincts of the palace is by the great ornamental iron gateway known as the Grille Royale, from which an alleyed row of lindens leads to the heart of the forest.

The record of another merry party at Saint Germain is that which recounts that summer evening when the king and court scuttled about the park enjoying themselves as only royalty can—when some one else pays the bills. The terrace, the gravelled walks and the alleyed paths of the forest all led to charming and discreet rendezvous.

So preoccupied was every one on this particular occasion that the merry-makers had hardly a thought for their king, who, left to his own devices, sought out four maids of honour gossiping in a bower, and, taking the mischief-loving Lauzan into his confidence, pried upon them in the ambush of the night. They were gossiping over the dancers at the ball of the night before when one of them proclaimed her fancy for the agility and grace of the king above all others. It was the first expression of "La Vallière" since she had come timidly to court. The rest is an idyll which is found set forth in all the history books at considerable length, and at this particular moment it was a genuine idyll, for the king had not then become the debauched roué that he was in later life.

After Anne d'Autriche, Henriette, the widow of Charles I of England, found at Saint Germain a comfortable and luxurious refuge.

From 1661 onward Louis XIV made frequent visits to Saint Germain and was so taken with the charms of the neighbourhood and the immediate site that he conjured six and a half million francs out of his Civil List, in addition to his regular stipend, for the upkeep of this palace alone. This was robbery: modern graft pales before this; candelabra by the pound and writing tables by the square yard were known before the days of machine politicians.

James II of England, in 1688, found a hospitable refuge at Saint Germain, thanks to Louis XIV, and died within the palace walls in 1701, as did his wife, Maria d'Este, in 1718.

Louis XV and Louis XVI gave Saint Germain scarce a thought, and under the Empire it became a cavalry school, and later, under the Restoration, sinking lower still, it merited only the denomination of a barracks. Its culminating fall arrived when it was turned into a penitentiary.

Napoleon III, with finer instincts, here installed a museum, and restorations and rebuilding having gone on intermittently since that time the palace has now taken on a certain pretence to glory. Practically the palace in its present form is a restoration, not entirely a new building, but a rebuilding of an old one, first begun under the competent efforts of the architect Eugene Millet, who sought to reëstablish the edifice as it was under Francis I. The great tower has been preserved but the corner pavilions of the period of Louis XIV have been demolished in accord with the carrying out of this plan.

For forty years Saint Germain has been in a state of restoration, and like the restoration of Pierrefonds it has swallowed up fantastic sums. The western façade has been rebuilt from the chapel to the entrance portal and the last of Mansart's pavilions, which he built to please either his own fancy or that of Louis XIV, have been demolished. Mansart himself made way with the old tourelles and the balustrade which rounded off the angles of the walls of the main buildings and substituted a series of heavy, ugly maisonettes, more like the bastions of a fortress than any adjunct to a princely dwelling.

The courtyard of the chateau is curiously disposed; "so that it may receive the sun at all times," was the claim of its designer. It, too, has been brought back to the state in which it was originally conceived and shorn of its encumbering outhouses and odds and ends which served their purposes well enough when it was a barracks or a prison, but which were a desecration to anything called by so dignified a name as a chateau or a palace. This courtyard is to-day as it was when the lords and ladies in the train of Charles IX strolled and even gambolled therein.

The Chapelle de Saint Louis (1240) is in every way remarkable, especially with respect to its great rose-window, which was found by Millet to have been walled up by Louis XIV.

The military museum of to-day, which is enclosed by the palace walls, possesses a remarkable collection of its kind, but has no intimate lien upon the history of the palace.

The parterre before the palace is cut off from the forest of Saint Germain by three ornate iron gates. It was relaid, a transformation from designs originally conceived in 1676, by Le Notre, modified in 1750 and much reduced in size and beauty in the nineteenth century, though later enlarged by taking three hectares of ground from the forest and turning them into the accepted form of an English garden.

A peninsula of a superficial area of over ten thousand acres snugly enfolded in one of the great horseshoe bends of the Seine contains the Forêt de Saint Germain. A line drawn across the neck of the peninsula from Saint Germain to Poissy, following the Route de Poissy, completely cuts off this tongue of land which is as wild and wooded to-day as in the times of Francis, the Henris and the Louis.

The routes and allées of the forest are traced with regularity and precision, and historians have written them down as of a length of nearly four hundred leagues, a statement which a glance at any map of the forest will well substantiate.

High upon its plateau sits this historic wildwood, for the most part of a soil dry and sandy, with here and there some great mamelon (Druidical or Pagan, as the case may be) rising somewhat above the average level. Francis I, huntsman and lover of art and nature, did much to preserve this great forest, and Louis XIV in his time developed its system of roads and paths, "chiefly to make hunting easy," says history, though it is difficult to follow this. At all events the forest remains to-day the most extensive unspoiled breathing-spot of its class near Paris.

Within this maze of paths and alleys are many famed historic spots, the Chêne Saint Fiacre, the Croix de Noailles, the Croix Saint Simon, the Croix du Main (erected in 1709 in honour of the son of Louis XIV), the Étoile des Amazones, the Patte d'Oie, the Chêne du Capitaine and many more which are continually referred to in the history of the palace, the forest of Saint Germain-en-Laye, and of the Abbaye de Poissy.

The forest is not wholly separated from the mundane world for occasionally a faint echo of the Rouen railway is heard, a toot from a river tug-boat bringing coal up-river to Paris, the strident notes of automobile horns, or that of a hooting steam-tram which scorches along the principal roadway over which state coaches of kings and courtiers formerly rolled. The contrast is not particularly offensive, but the railway threatens to make further inroads, so one hardly knows the future that may be in store for the patriarch oaks and elms and chestnuts which make up this secular wildwood. Their ages may not in all cases approach those of the great Fontainebleau trees, and in point of fact the forest is by no means as solitary, nor ever was. One of the most celebrated, certainly one of the most spectacular, duels of history took place in the park at Saint Germain-en-Laye.

Gui Chabot de Jarnac lived a prodigal and profligate life at the expense—it was said—of the favours of the Duchesse d'Étampes. The dauphin, Henri, making an accusation, deemed wholly uncalled for, a "duel judiciaire" took place, with La Châtaigneraie as the dauphin's substitute as adversary of de Jarnac who sought no apology but combat.

It was because Henri meantime had become king and issued his first Letters Patent to his council concerning the "duel judiciaire," whereby he absolved himself of the right to partake, that he appointed his dear friend François de Vivonne, "Seigneur de la Châtaigneraie," to play the rôle for him.

Unfortunately the young man could not justify by victory the honour of his king and before the monarch and the assembled court he was laid low by his adversary.

This was one of the last of the "duels judiciaires" in France. What Saint Louis and Philippe-le-Bel had vainly sought to suppress, the procedure having cost at least a hundred thousand livres, was practically accomplished by Henri II by a stroke of the pen.


CHAPTER XVIII

MAINTENON

Out from Paris, on the old Route d'Espagne, running from the capital to the frontier, down which rolled the royal cortèges of old, lie Maintenon and its famous chateau, some sixty odd kilometres from Paris and twenty from Rambouillet.

Just beyond Versailles, on the road to Maintenon, lies the trim little townlet of Saint Cyr, known to-day as the West Point of France, the military school founded by Napoleon I giving it its chief distinction.

Going back into the remote past one learns that the village grew up from a foundation of Louis XIV, who bought for ninety-one thousand livres "a chateau and a convent for women," that Madame de Maintenon might establish a girls' school therein. She reserved an apartment for herself, and one suspects indeed that it was simply another project of the Widow Scarron to have a place of rendezvous near the capital. Certainly under the circumstances, taking into consideration the good that she was doing for orphaned girls, she might at least have been allowed the right of a roof to shelter her when she wished. She was absolutely dominant within, though never actually in residence for any length of time. It was here that "Esther" and "Athalie," which Racine had composed expressly for Madame de Maintenon's pensionnaires, were produced for the first time.

When not actually living at Saint Cyr it was Madame de Maintenon's custom to come hither from Paris each day, arriving between seven and eight in the morning, passing the day and returning to town for the evening, much as a celebrated American millionaire journalist, whose country-house overlooks the famous convent garden, does to-day.

Madame de Maintenon actually went into retirement at Saint Cyr upon the death of Louis XIV, and for four years, until her death, never left it. She died from old age, rather than from any grave malady, in this "Maison d'Education," which she had inaugurated, and was buried in the chapel, beneath an elaborate tomb which the Duc de Noailles, who married her niece, caused to be erected. The tomb was destroyed during the Revolution and the "Maison Royale de Saint Cyr," of which nothing had been changed since its foundation, was suppressed, the edifice itself being pillaged and the remains of Madame de Maintenon sadly profaned, finally to be recovered and deposited again in the chapel where a simple black marble slab marks them in these graven words:

Cy-Git Madame De Maintenon
1635-1719-1836

Napoleon I established the École Militaire at Saint Cyr, from which are graduated each year more than four hundred subaltern officers.

The ancient gardens of Madame de Maintenon's time now form the "Champs de Mars," or drill ground, of the military school.

South from Saint Cyr runs the great international highroad, the old Route Royale of the monarchy. It rises and falls, but mostly straight as the flight of the crow, until it crosses the great National Forest of Rambouillet. Following the valley of the Eure almost to its headwaters it finally comes to Maintenon, a town of a couple of thousand souls, whose most illustrious inhabitant was that granddaughter of Theodore-Agrippa d'Aubigné, named Françoise, and who came in time to be the Marquise de Maintenon.

The Chateau de Maintenon was royal in all but name. The Tresorier des Finances under Louis XI, Jean Cottereau (a public official who made good it seems, since he also served in the same capacity for Charles VIII, Louis XII, and Francis I), had a single daughter, Isabeau, who, in 1526, married Jacques d'Angennes, who at the time was already Seigneur de Rambouillet.

As a dot this daughter acquired the lands of Maintenon. The property was afterwards sold to the Marquis de Villeray, from whom Louis XIV bought it in 1674 and disposed of it as a royal gift to Françoise d'Aubigné, the fascinator of kings, who was afterwards to become (in 1688) Madame La Marquise de Maintenon.

This ambitious woman subsequently married her niece to the Duc d'Ayen, son of the Maréchal de Noailles, and as a marriage portion—or possibly to avoid unpleasant consequences—turned over the property of Maintenon to the young bride and her husband to whose family, the Noailles, it has ever since belonged.

To-day the Duc and Duchesse de Noailles make lengthy stays in this delightful seigneurial dwelling, and since the apartments are full to overflowing of historical souvenirs of their family it may be truly said that their twentieth century life is to some considerable extent in accord with the traditions of other days.

Chateau de Maintenon Chateau de Maintenon

The existence of this princely residence is an agreeable reminder of the life of luxury of the olden time albeit certain modernities which we to-day think necessities are lacking.

Maintenon is certainly one of the most beautiful so-called royal chateaux of France, if not by its actual importance at least by many of the attributes of its architecture, the extent of the domain and the history connected therewith. It bridges the span between the private chateau and those which may properly be called royal.

In the moyen-age Maintenon was a veritable chateau-fort, forming a quadrilateral edifice flanked by round towers at three of its angles, and at the fourth by a great square mass of a donjon, all of which was united by a vast expanse of solidly built wall which possessed all the classic attributes of the best military architecture of its time. Entrance was only over a deep moat spanned by a drawbridge.

Jean Cottereau made his acquisition of the domain towards 1490 and immediately planned a new scheme of being for the old fortress which, according to a more esthetic conception, would thus be brought into the class of a luxurious residential chateau. He destroyed the courtines which attached the great donjon to the rest of the building, and opened up the courtyard so that it faced directly upon the park. He ornamented sumptuously the window framings, the dormer windows, and the turrets, and framed in the entrance portal with a series of sculptured motives which he also added to the entrance to the great inner stairway. In short it was an enlargement and embellishment that was undertaken, but so thoroughly was it done that the edifice quite lost its original character in the process. Like all the chateaux built at this epoch Maintenon was no longer a mere fortress, but a palatial retreat, luxurious in all its appointments, and shorn of all the manifest militant attributes which it had formerly possessed.

The shell was there, following closely the original outlines, but the added ornamentation had effectually disguised its primordial existence. Living rooms needed light and air, while a fortress or quarters for troops might well be ordained on other lines. The Renaissance livened up considerably the severe lines of the Gothic chateaux of France, and though invariably the marks of the transition are visible to the expert eye it is also true, as in the case of Maintenon, that there is frequently a homogeneousness which is sufficiently pleasing to effectually cover up any discrepancies which might otherwise be apparent. The warrior aspect is invariably lost in the transition, and thus a Renaissance residential chateau enters at once into a different class from that of the feudal fortress regardless of the fact that such may have been its original status.

The armorial device of Jean Cottereau—three unlovely lizards blazoned on a field of silver—is still to be seen sculptured on the two towers flanking the entrance portal which to-day lacks its old drawbridge before mentioned. Surrounding the edifice is a deep, unhealthful, mosquito-breeding moat which is all a mediæval moat should be, but which is actually no great attribute to the place considering its disadvantages. One wonders that it is allowed to exist in so stagnant a condition, as the running waters of the near-by Eure might readily be made use of to change all this. The site of the chateau at the confluence of the Eure and the Voise is altogether charming.

Madame de Maintenon did much to make the property more commodious and convenient and built the great right wing which binds the donjon to the main corps de logis. Her own apartments were situated in the new part of the palace. She also built the gallery which leads from the Tour de Machicoulis to the pointed chapel, which was a construction of the time of Cottereau, an accessory which every self-respecting country-house of the time was bound to have. It was by this gallery that the open tribune in the little chapel was reached, thus enabling Louis XIV to pass readily to mass while he was so frequent a visitor at that period when, at Maintenon, he was overseeing the construction of his famous aqueduct.

Maintenon has had the honour, too, to count among its illustrious guests Racine, who came at the request of Madame de Maintenon, and here wrote "Esther" and "Athalie" which were later produced at Saint Cyr by Madame de Maintenon's celebrated band of "Demoiselles."

Louis XIV was not the last of royal race to accept the Chateau de Maintenon's hospitality for the unhappy Charles X was obliged to ask shelter of its chatelain for himself and fleeing family. They arrived a little after midnight of a hot August night, slept as well as possible in the former apartments of Madame de Maintenon, and attended mass in the chapel on the following morning. The monarch then discharged the royal guard and the "hundred Swiss" and gave up, defeated at the game of playing monarch against the will of the people.

One enters the Cour d'Honneur by a great portal of the time of Louis XIV. Immediately before one is the principal façade, with its towers of brick and its slender little turrets framing in so admirably the entrance door. This façade is of the fifteenth century and on the tympan of the dormer windows one may still see the monogram of its builder, Cottereau. The drawbridge has been made way with, and the turrets over the portal have been bound together by a diminutive balcony of stone, which, while a manifest superfluity, is in no way objectionable.

Under the entrance vault are doors on either side giving access to the living apartments of the rez-de-chaussée. In the inner courtyard is to be found the most exquisite architectural detail of the whole fabric, the tower which encloses the monumental stairway, to which entrance is had by a portal which is a veritable Gothic jewel. In the tympan of this portal, as in the dormer windows, is the device of Jean Cottereau, except in this case it is much more elaborate—a Saint Michel and the dragon, surrounded by a "semis de coquilles" bearing the escutcheons of the chatelain—d'argent à lezards de sable.

At the left of this stairway tower is the principal courtyard façade, supported by four arcades, pierced with great windows and surmounted by two fine dormer windows, all in the style of Louis XII, of which the same effects to be observed at Blois and in the Hotel d'Alluye are contemporary.

At the left of the inner court is the wing built by Cottereau which terminates in a great round tower, while to the right is that erected by Madame de Maintenon ending at the donjon. Directly opposite is a magnificent vista over the canal of ornamental water framed on either side by patriarchal trees and having as a background the silhouette of the arches of the famous aqueduct which was to lead the waters of the Eure to Versailles.

The interior of the chateau is not less remarkable than the exterior. Entering by the tower portal one comes at once to that magnificent grand escalier which is accounted one of the wonders of the French Renaissance.

The Salle à Manger of to-day was the old-time Salle des Gardes. It is garnished with a fine wainscoting and panels of Cordovan leather. The Chambre à Coucher of Louis XIV, to the left, is to-day the Salon, and here are to be seen portraits of Louis XIV, Louis XII, Francis I, Henri IV, and Louis XIII.

A tiny rotunda contains a statue of Henri IV as a child, and portraits of Madame de Maintenon and Louis XIV in their youth. A portrait gallery of restrained proportions contains effigies of Madame de Maintenon and her niece Mademoiselle d'Aubigné, the Duc de Penthièvre, the Comtesse de Toulouse, the Duc de Noailles, the Duchesse de Villars and the Duchesse de Chaumont.

Aqueduct of Louis XIV at Maintenon Aqueduct of Louis XIV at Maintenon

The show-piece of the chateau, albeit of recent construction, is known variously as the "Grand Galerie" and the "Longue Galerie." Its decorations are due to the Duc de Noailles, the father of the present proprietor. Virtually it is a portrait gallery of the Noailles family, going back to the times of the Crusaders and coming down to the twentieth century.

The apartments of Madame de Maintenon form that portion of the chateau which has the chief sentimental interest. In an ante-chamber is a chaise à porteurs once having belonged to the Marquise, and her portrait by Mignard. Cordovan leather is hung upon the walls, and the restored sleeping-room is hung with a canopy and separated from the rest of the apartment by a balustrade in bois doré. Above the chimney-piece is a portrait of Louis XIV, after Rigaud, and, finally, the oratory is ornamented by a series of elegant sculptures in wood and a magnificent Boule coffer.

In the left wing is found a beautiful chapel of the fifteenth century, which is very pure in style. It is decorated with a series of Renaissance wood panels of the finest workmanship. The coloured glass of the windows is of the sixteenth century.

The rebuilt monumental stairway connects directly with a passage leading to the entrance portico which opens on the garden terrace before the parterre.

The park of Maintenon is in every way admirable, with its pelouse, its great border of trees, its waterways and more than thirty bridges. Jean Cottereau himself planned the first vegetable and fruit garden, or potager, the same whose successor is the delight of the dwellers at Maintenon to-day.

The parterre, the Grand Canal and the two avenues of majestic trees were due to the conception of Le Notre, and their effect, as set off by the alleyed forest background and the pillars of the aqueduct of Louis XIV, is something unique.

The gardens at Maintenon were perhaps not Le Notre's most famous work but they followed the best traditions of their time, and because of their vast expanse of ornamental water were, in a way, quite unequalled.

Ambling off towards the forest is a great avenue flanked with high overhanging shade trees known as the Allée Racine. It gets its name from the fact that the dramatist was wont to take his walks abroad in this direction and woo the muse while he was a guest of Madame de Maintenon.


CHAPTER XIX

RAMBOUILLET AND ITS FOREST