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 n