Schulers Books Online

books - games - software - wallpaper - everything

Bride.Ru

Books Menu

Home
Author Catalog
Title Catalog
Sectioned Catalog

 

- A LITTLE TOUR IN FRANCE - 6/42 -


mulation of horror in what followed it, - give it, as a crime, a kind of immortal solidity.

But we must not take the Chateau de Blois too hard: I went there, after all, by way of entertainment. If among these sinister memories your visit should threaten to prove a tragedy, there is an excellent way of removing the impression. You may treat yourself at Blois to a very cheerful afterpiece. There is a charming industry practised there, and practised in charming conditions. Follow the bright little quay down the river till you get quite out of the town, and reach the point where the road beside the Loire be- comes sinuous and attractive, turns the corner of dimi- nutive headlands, and makes you wonder what is be- yond. Let not your curiosity induce you, however, to pass by a modest white villa which overlooks the stream, enclosed in a fresh little court; for here dwells an artist, - an artist in faience. There is no sort of sign, and the place looks peculiarly private. But if you ring at the gate, you will not be turned away. You will, on the contrary, be ushered upstairs into a parlor - there is nothing resembling a shop- encum- bered with specimens - of remarkably handsome pottery. The work is of the best, - a careful reproduction of old forms, colors, devices; and the master of the establishment is one of those completely artistic types that are often found in France. His reception is as friendly as his work is ingenious; and I think it is not too much to say that you like the work the better be- cause he has produced it. His vases, cups and jars, lamps, platters, _plaques,_ with their brilliant glaze, their innumerable figures, their family likeness, and wide variations, are scattered, through his occupied rooms; they serve at once as his stock-in-trade and as house- hold ornament. As we all know, this is an age of prose, of machinery, of wholesale production, of coarse and hasty processes. But one brings away from the establishment of the very intelligent M. Ulysse the sense of a less eager activity and a greater search for perfection. He has but a few workmen, and he gives them plenty of time. The place makes a little vignette, leaves an impression, - the quiet white house in its garden on the road by the wide, clear river, without the smoke, the bustle, the ugliness, of so much of our modern industry. It ought to gratify Mr. Ruskin.

V.

The second time I went to Blois I took a carriage for Chambord, and came back by the Chateau de Cheverny and the forest of Russy, - a charming little expedition, to which the beauty of the afternoon (the finest in a rainy season that was spotted with bright days) contributed not a little. To go to Chambord, you cross the Loire, leave it on one side, and strike away through a country in which salient features be- come less and less numerous, and which at last has no other quality than a look of intense, and peculiar rurality, - the characteristic, even when it is not the charm, of so much of the landscape of France. This is not the appearance of wildness, for it goes with great cultivation; it is simply the presence of the delving, drudging, economizing peasant. But it is a deep, unrelieved rusticity. It is a peasant's landscape; not, as in England, a landlord's. On the way to Cham- bord you enter the flat and sandy Sologne. The wide horizon opens out like a great _potager,_ without inter- ruptions, without an eminence, with here and there a long, low stretch of wood. There is an absence of hedges, fences, signs of property; everything is ab- sorbed in the general flatness, - the patches of vine- yard, the scattered cottages, the villages, the children (planted and staring and almost always pretty), the women in the fields, the white caps, the faded blouses, the big sabots. At the end of an hour's drive (they assure you at Blois that even with two horses you will spend double that time), I passed through a sort of gap in a wall, which does duty as the gateway of the domain of an exiled pretender. I drove along a straight avenue, through a disfeatured park, - the park of Chambord has twenty-one miles of circumference, - a very sandy, scrubby, melancholy plantation, in which the timber must have been cut many times over and is to-day a mere tangle of brushwood. Here, as in so many spots in France, the traveller perceives that he is in a land of revolutoins. Nevertheless, its great ex- tent and the long perspective of its avenues give this desolate boskage a certain majesty; just as its shabbi- ness places it in agreement with one of the strongest impressions of the chateau. You follow one of these long perspectives a proportionate time, and at last you see the chimneys and pinnacles of Chambord rise ap- parently out of the ground. The filling-in of the wide moats that formerly surrounded it has, in vulgar par- lance, let it down, bud given it an appearance of top- heaviness that is at the same time a magnificent Orien- talism. The towers, the turrets, the cupolas, the gables, the lanterns, the chimneys, look more like the spires of a city than the salient points of a single building. You emerge from the avenue and find yourself at the foot of an enormous fantastic mass. Chambord has a strange mixture of society and solitude. A little village clusters within view of its stately windows, and a couple of inns near by offer entertainment to pilgrims. These things, of course, are incidents of the political pro- scription which hangs its thick veil over the place. Chambord is truly royal, - royal in its great scale, its grand air, its indifference to common considerations. If a cat may look at a king, a palace may lock at a tavern. I enjoyed my visit to this extraordinary struc- ture as much as if I had been a legitimist; and indeed there is something interesting in any monument of a great system, any bold presentation of a tradition.

You leave your vehicle at one of the inns, which are very decent and tidy, and in which every one is very civil, as if in this latter respect the influence of the old regime pervaded the neighborhood, and you walk across the grass and the gravel to a small door, - a door infinitely subordinate and conferring no title of any kind on those who enter it. Here you ring a bell, which a highly respectable person answers (a per- son perceptibly affiliated, again, to the old regime), after which she ushers you across a vestibule into an inner court. Perhaps the strongest impression I got at Chambord came to me as I stood in this court. The woman who admitted me did not come with me; I was to find my guide somewhere else. The specialty of Chambord is its prodigious round towers. There are, I believe, no less than eight of them, placed at each angle of the inner and outer square of buildings; for the castle is in the form of a larger structure which encloses a smaller one. One of these towers stood before me in the court; it seemed to fling its shadow over the place; while above, as I looked up, the pinnacles and gables, the enormous chimneys, soared into the bright blue air. The place was empty and silent; shadows of gargoyles, of extra- ordinary projections, were thrown across the clear gray surfaces. One felt that the whole thing was monstrous. A cicerone appeared, a languid young man in a rather shabby livery, and led me about with a mixture of the impatient and the desultory, of con- descension and humility. I do not profess to under- stand the plan of Chambord, and I may add that I do not even desire to do so; for it is much more entertaining to think of it, as you can so easily, as an irresponsible, insoluble labyrinth. Within, it is a wilderness of empty chambers, a royal and romantic barrack. The exiled prince to whom it gives its title has not the means to keep up four hundred rooms; he contents himself with preserving the huge outside. The repairs of the prodigious roof alone must absorb a large part of his revenue. The great feature of the interior is the celebrated double staircase, rising straight through the building, with two courses of steps, so that people may ascend and descend without meeting. This staircase is a truly majestic piece of humor; it gives you the note, as it were, of Chambord. It opens on each landing to a vast guard-room, in four arms, radiations of the winding shaft. My guide made me climb to the great open-work lantern which, springing from the roof at the termination of the rotund staircase (surmounted here by a smaller one), forms the pinnacle of the bristling crown of Cham- bord. This lantern is tipped with a huge _fleur-de-lis_ in stone, - the only one, I believe, that the Revolution did not succeed in pulling down. Here, from narrow windows, you look over the wide, flat country and the tangled, melancholy park, with the rotation of its straight avenues. Then you walk about the roof, in a complication of galleries, terraces, balconies, through the multitude of chimneys and gables. This roof, which is in itself a sort of castle in the air, has an extravagant, faboulus quality, and with its profuse ornamentation, - the salamander of Francis I. is a con- tant motive, - its lonely pavements, its sunny niches, the balcony that looks down over the closed and grass-grown main entrance, a strange, half-sad, half- brilliant charm. The stone-work is covered with fine mould. There are places that reminded me of some of those quiet, mildewed corners of courts and ter- races, into which the traveller who wanders through the Vatican looks down from neglected windows. They show you two or three furnished rooms, with Bourbon portraits, hideous tapestries from the ladies of France, a collection of the toys of the _enfant du miracle,_ all military and of the finest make. "Tout cela fonc- tionne," the guide said of these miniature weapons; and I wondered, if he should take it into his head to fire off his little canon, how much harm the Comte de Chambord would do.

From below, the castle would look crushed by the redundancy of its upper protuberances if it were not for the enormous girth of its round towers, which appear to give it a robust lateral development. These


A LITTLE TOUR IN FRANCE - 6/42

Previous Page     Next Page

  1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9   10   11   20   30   40   42 

Schulers Books Home



 Games Menu

Home
Balls
Battleship
Buzzy
Dice Poker
Memory
Mine
Peg
Poker
Tetris
Tic Tac Toe

Google
 
Web schulers.com
 

Schulers Books Online

books - games - software - wallpaper - everything