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to arise from the fact that they never by any chance think of death. With us a remembrance of the great change which awaits us runs like a solemn undertone through the music of life, and is heard at intervals, even when the joybells are ringing their loudest, and hope singing its sweetest songs in the heart; but with them it is simply not heard at all. They regard the present world in which they live, and move, and have their being, as "the be all and end all," frankly confessing their conviction that they have their Paradise or their Purgatory in this life, and that after that, all is over; and thus having no future to think of or prepare for, they just gather the roses that lie about their path, and only occupy themselves in seeking to make them bloom as long as possible. Unfor. tunately too this sort of feeling seems to pervade all classes ; for it is well known that a large majority of the lower orders are infidels also; and though in the upper ranks there are still a few who are believers, and would fain bring about a better state of things if they could, their small amount of influence is quite powerless and ineffectual to stem the tide of infidelity which is rapidly encroaching and threatening to spread over the whole length and breadth of the land.
Now it must be confessed that amongst all these laughing faces a pretty one is very seldom to be found. And certainly the women of the place do not lend enchantment to the scene either, for they happen to be singularly ugly specimens of what by a euphemism of their language is called le beau sexe, while the handkerchiefs which they tie round their heads, and
are exactly the same shade as their mahognay coloured visages, only serve to render their plainness more remarkable. I noticed, too, that the peasant children wore hideous little
on their heads, for no reason whatever, apparently, as their hair seemed to be both rich and abundant, but the blouses of the men are of such a bright blue that, when con-trasted with the vivid green of their surroundings, they form what painters call a very pretty bit of colour. They always look scrupulously clean too. But then there is no such thing as squalor or abject poverty in the place. The climate is beneficent, the soil generous, the wants of the poor are easily supplied, and there everybody seems to be content and pros
Pierrefonds was suffered to remain in unmerited obscurity until comparatively lately; but within the last few years Dr. Sales Girons has made a reputation for it, and his system of inhaling pulverised mineral water is practised there with so much success that his compatriots now rush to the place in crowds every season. Young men and maidens, old men and children, elderly couples who have passed many a milestone on the journey of life together, and youthful ones who are still enjoying that pleasant period ere the glowing brightness of the honeymoon has faded down to the light of common day, all come there to be healed of their infirmities, and a few besides for amusement only. For it is a gay little place, where they drive dull care away by music and dancing, &c., after the graver duties of the day have been performed, and to those who are well and strong, it is really more than delightful to ride and drive through the lovely forest glades in the daytime, and glide over the moonlit waters of the fairy lake at night.
The mineral waters at Pierrefonds are said to resemble those of Eaux Bonnes in almost every particular, and the diseases in which they are most efficacious are, affections of the chest, throat, and voice, skin diseases, rheumatism, neuralgia, and general debility, while the routine to be observed by invalids is as follows:-in the morning they drink the waters, in the forenoon they inhale and bathe in them, in the afternoon they walk or drive through the forest and in the evening they dance. Of course all the invalids are not able to join the dancers, but many of them are, and those who are incapacitated from partaking of the pleasure appear to derive abundant amusement from looking on at the others. French dance music is decidedly pretty as a rule, though naturally somewhat commonplace in character, like the people by whom and for whom it is composed. But indeed with music of a very high order, such, for instance as Wagner's, French people of the present day seem to have little or no sympathy. On the contrary they find much fault with it, objecting that it is so very scientific as to infringe on mathematics, and that he has thus turned into a science that which is merely an art, and on one occasion a lady said in my hear. ing, “What I blame him (Wagner) most for is, that he makes you wish to go to sleep, and at the same time prevents you
from gratifying the inclination,” which was a very severe, though perhaps not altogether unmerited, crtiticism on the combined tunelessness and noise of some of the later compositions of this great master.
And who but a French person could have turned it into so neat an epigram ? The old church or priory stands to the right of the Hotel des Bains and is worthy of a visit because, strange to say, the crypt contains a fountain of bright clear water flowing from a rock close by, from which Pierrefonds (petra fons) is said to have got its fame. The steeple of this ancient edifice was added to it in 1552, but I was unable to ascertain when the building itself was erected; and though the exterior wears a very venerable and time-stained aspect, within it suggests the idea of a whited sepulchre, for they have covered it entirely over with a coat of white-wash which effectually conceals all the relics and records of a dead past which must lie hidden beneath it.
The village clusters affectionately round this old pile; but the castle of Pierrefonds, which is built on a height, dominates the whole scene, and from its commanding position seems to look proudly down and around as though it were conscious of being, as it actually is, the finest specimen of feudal architecture in France. It certainly is a most superb building-an irregular quadrilateral in shape, each front having three large battlemented towers—and, in consequence of its elevated site, it looks imposing from every point of view, but you must approach and enter it to obtain a just idea of its vastness, for it covers nearly seven thousand square yards of surface, and the rooms-or more properly speaking—the halls, are enormous, with huge fireplaces which have all been perfectly restored with oak fittings and carvings, &c. One of these halls which they call the salle d'armes is more than fifty-five yards long, another on a lower story is large enough to contain five hundred men, and it has been calculated that in case of a seige more than a thousand men could be garrisoned in the castle for several months. But the most curious and suggestive apartment in the building is the chief sleeping room, because there you see a relic of barbarous times in the shape of a tall wooden screen which was used in former days for the purpose of keeping off the prying eyes of the soldiers on guard, from the occupants of the bed whom they were guarding.
This castle was built by Louis d'Orleans, brother of Charles VI, in the early part of the 15th century, and on the site of a still older structure, some remains of which still exist. In 855 Charles the Bald had a residence near Pierrefonds, and this residence having been destroyed, a new one was erected, it is supposed, on the same spot as that now occupied by the chateau which at the present time is the admiration of all beholders. Pierrefonds is thus a very ancient place, but in 1215 Philip Augustus gave over a great portion of the building to the Monks of Saint Sulpices, whose successors probably suffered it to fall into ruins, as from that period until the latter part of the 14th century, no mention is made of it in history. In 1390 however, Louis d'Orleans, who was the most magnificent Prince of his time, and the grandest seigneur in the luxurious court of Charles VI, commenced the construction of the present edifice, which in 1420 was taken by the English, and in 1595 was sold by the Neapolitan troops of De Sauveulx, Canon of the Abbey of Soissons, who had been master of it for some time previously, to Henry IV for 18,000 ducats. In 1616 the troups of Louis XIII, under the Comte d'Angoulème, having beseiged the castle with but partial success, the Marquis de Couvre, the then Capitaine de Pierrefonds, capitulated. After some time the king came to the conclusion that it was necessary for the peace and tranquility of his subjects that this impregnable fortress, which so often changed hands and seemed to be such a constant bone of contention, should fall; so in the following year it was demolished by his orders. It then remained in ruins until our own times, but soon after Napoleon III came to the throne he entrusted its restoration to M. Viollet-le-duc, who executed his task with so much skill and ability that it is now complete in almost every detail, and presents precisely the same appearance that it did in former days.
The feat thus accomplished by what may we termed comparative architecture, bears some resemblance to that of Cuvier, who by comparative anatomy was enabled to construct from a single bone the entire skeleton of an animal he had never seen. But in the case of the chateau the skeleton was there and some towers were still standing ; so to a clever architect like Viollet-le-duc it was not so difficult after all to cause it thus to spring up phoenix-like from its own ashes.
The rides and drives about Pierrefonds are legion. Indeed one might spend a month there without exhausting all the excursions in the neighbourhood. In the first place the Cateau d'Offémont is within an easy distance. here that the famous, or rather infamous, Marquise de Brinvilliers resided, and here she had that wonderful laboratory in which it is supposed she distilled the poisons which she afterwards administered with such fatal effect to her father and brothers, &c. We are told that the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty ; but she planned her evil deeds in the midst of a scene so fair and smiling that it is difficult to associate it with the idea of guilt, for the Chateau d'Offémont stands on one side of the classic river Aisne and in the middle of a noble park where all is light, and brightness, and beauty.
Many charming roads and avenues have been cut through the forest, but the pleasantest drive is the Route d'Eugenie, because it takes you past several lakes where you see pleasure boats and summer houses by the water side which were all in requisition in the merry days gone by, when the Emperor used sometimes to have as many as a hundred guests at a time with him at his Palace at Compiégne, and when the now too silent forest used to ring with the laughter of sporting and pleasure parties of all kinds.
From Beaumont, the avenue which is used as a practice ground for the soldiers—the movable butts being placed there -a very fine view is to be obtained, as you look right over the tops of the trees in all directions for miles round, and at the end of a long green vista you see the white Palace of Compiegne gleaming before you. But perhaps the prettiest spot in the whole forest is the Trou Fondu, which, notwithstanding, its unflattering appellation, is a dreamy, delicious little dell, all greenness and shade, where one could fancy Boccaccio would have liked to woo, and Watteau to paint, and so secluded and sequestered that not even the faintest sound from the outer world ever seems to reach it. Nevertheless, in summer time, its slumbering echoes are often awakened by sounds of mirth and merriment, as pic-nic parties innumerable make it the scene of their rendezvous during the season.