Imatges de pÓgina

exchanging dull criticisms upon the theatres, and confidences as to where they are going. Everybody knows the glib voice with a little lisp in it which is going on to Rome next week, and after that to Naples, and has thoughts of the East, and thinks -"Yes, it will be very nice," with a modest deprecation of its own enjoyment. Englishman and respectable Frenchman in an enveloppe Anglaise are not more amusing at a table-d'hôte than they would be at an ordinary dinner-party. It is a fashion now, I suppose, to look impenetrable, immovable, self-contained, like Napoleon the Third amongst a certain class of his subjects; but they are not half so agreeable, these solemn men behind their mustaches, as the old lively gesticulating Frenchman of former times.

Next day we went on to Lyons, haply frightening other passengers out of our carriage at the very sight of our babies. In a long day's journey by express train one does not see very much of a country. Here and there a picturesque French town, throwing up its two or three grey spires upon the sky-here a broad placid river of a pale ashy green, which tells of chalk in the soil-and anon brown hill-sides bristling with hosts of low poles all of a length, and planted in regular rows up and up almost to the sunny summit of the slope. Alas for one's old childish idea of luxuriance and graceful overgrowth of seeing the sky through big transparent vine - leaves, and looking up overhead at clustering branches of those grapes which make the wine of the poets. These rigid little sticks are the bones of the vineyards which grow the wines of Burgundy-these brown hills stuck with all those pine-points are the coté d'or -the golden side-the richest slopes of France. One gets tired of seeing them glide away in their bristling monotony in long stretches between us and the sky; and it is not easy to imagine anything picturesque or luxuriant in the growth of vines which lean upon props no taller than those we use for our carnations. Trade, summary leveller! has done it all. This vine, the noblest of parasites, might have festooned the

trees, and made alleys of verdure over all those hills, but for the practical people. It is done in some places" with much advantage to the landscape, but great harm to the liquor," is the melancholy admission which bursts from the sober soul of Murray; and, accordingly, the coté d'or, like the hills of the Rhine, thrusts into the air its millions of naked sticks, some four feet high, nothing half so dignified or imposing as the hop-poles of Kent; and mile after mile, and hill after hill, the winterly sky hangs over them till they glide away into streaks of confused outline, and are lost in the night.

A cold night, nearly ten o'clocka cold wind blowing about the gaunt stone passages and pens of the railway station, especially here, where they have turned us in like a parcel of sheep to wait for our luggage; both the children preternaturally wide awake, as children always are when awoke at untimeous hours; and my sister in the highest degree of fidget as to which side the draughts are on, and all the possibilities of taking cold. Harry comes back to us with a blank face-there is no bagage! We got no ticket for it at Paris, where they shut us all up in a waiting-room till the train was ready, and drove all thoughts of luggage out of our heads. What are we to do? If Alice would only let the draughts alone for five minutes, and suffer the children to take cold in peace, if they must take cold! Alas! there is nothing for it but a telegraphic message, a day's delay, and a night of discomfort. "Without even the children's night-things!” cried Alice, with a shiver and half sob of despair, while my brother made his way to the half-closed telegraph office, not in the best humour in the world ; and for once unable to conclude, as men and heads of families love to do, that it was somebody's fault. Then we womankind, with our bundle of children, came out of that luckless Bureau de Bagages to the open air, where all the omnibuses and all the cabs were driving away, while we stood dolefully looking at them, and wondering whether Harry was lost, or apprehended, or had disappeared

with the boxes. The cold wind blew in our faces out of the darkness, sighing over the strange black unseen town. Oh that delightful French system, which takes care of everybody's affairs, and manages all our business for us! Then I was sent off to look for my brother, and found him, with the blackest of British faces, paying, I think, seventeen francs for his telegram. By this time not a conveyance was visible anywhere; everything had driven off. Harry, with the boldness of despair, made a rush into the darkness, and arrested a passing voiture, the benevolent passenger in which consented to carry our forlorn party to the hotel, and so we reached our discomfortable rest at last-not a sac de nuit amongst us-"not even the children's night-things!" repeated poor Alice, who had made up her mind to a general cold all round, and was on the watch for coughs already. However, we all managed to sleep, and forgot our troubles.

Of all places in the world, to be obliged to stay at Lyons! but it is scarcely just to say so after all. Lyons, from one of the hill-tops which hem it in-Lyons, from Fourvières, where Our Lady gleams in the sun, is worth a day's delay in a long journey. We stand on one side of a great amphitheatre-the forts, the houses, and the spires of Lyons, dropping downwards from the heights to the noble basin below, where two great rivers, mirrors full of reflection, thread their way calmly through the crowding city, and bear a joint report of all its noise and greatness to the quiet country and the sea. Far below, the cathedral casts its shadow into the Rhone, where, at the same moment, the sunny clouds over our heads float in reflection; and parting by a strip of dark buildings and crowded roofs, the sun lights upon the Saone beyond, and betrays it in a flash of triumph. I suppose these lanes below are as dirty, as narrow, as unwholesome, and as miserable as can well be imagined; but air, and sunshine, and distance, are famous idealisers, and one sees nothing in this light misbecoming the noble situation of the manufacturing princes. Cer


tainly there is nothing in Manchester or Glasgow which the hardiest patriot could put in comparison with the circle of hills within the shelter of which Lyons plies her shuttle, or with the Rhone and Saone which brighten her streets. Yonder, far below, is a great square, the Place Bellecour, a desert in the midst of a wood a square which contains fifteen acres ; a true piece of useless French magnificence, the equestrian statue in the midst of which looks, from this height, like one of the Nuremberg toys stamped in tin, which children love and here, all round upon the hill-sides, high and blank, rise those dead walls, unsmiling and immovable, without an opening or a break to catch the sunshine; which betray the fortifications, not intended to protect the city, but to overawe it. Behind the treacherous silence of this fort lurk guns which command the weavers' quarters-the St Croix- the nest of fantastic seditions, which spring naturally among sedentary and indoor workmen, and thrice naturally among Frenchmen-gunpowder enough to bring all those high houses about their ears at a whisper of insurrection. There are times, to be sure, when even our own pale cotton-spinners grow dangerous; and long ago Manchester was held in orthodox terror by peaceable people, as a centre of something else than the Peace party, and something worse than pugilistic speeches; but fancy a sombre fort glooming and brooding, with all its hidden guns, over the heads of the cotton-mills and trades' unions! One could almost pardon the weaver who chafed himself into the madness and rage of sedition, as he looked out over his loom, day after day, from the window of his mansarde upon the diabolical calm of those walls, always casting their shadow on him, behind which the very guns are pointed which shall blow his habitation into ruins if he moves or cries. If to know that one is suspected is an inducement to evil, the sight of that fort, and the knowledge of its object, must keep insurrection always before the eyes of the weavers of Lyons.

Notwithstanding, it does not much

injure the view. Rising from the depths of the populated valley and the brightness of its rivers, yonder far away are the grey hills of Dauphiné, capped with snow-the mildest of the Alpine heights, yet something to us who are yet innocent of Alps. They say that one can see Mont Blanc on a clear day-the climax of the wonderful panorama; but everybody knows that it never is a very clear day when one goes to see a view. Let us be thankful that we have seen Lyons rising from her rivers to her hills, with blue touches of smoke over her roofs and towns; and though Mont Blanc is not visible, here is Our Lady of Fourvières gleaming high in copper from the summit of her little dome, who has more than once or twice swept the cholera and other plagues from grateful Lyons, and up here among the healthful breezes dispenses cures on every hand;-a simple little plain building of local celebrity-a mere village church, with odd votive pictures on the walls, representing ladies and gentlemen, very blank and open-eyed, kneeling without any perceptible inducement, and pretty little pieces of needlework framed and glazed. I am afraid, at the first glance, I called them samplers, where, in white canvass and coloured silks, appeared pretty little inscriptions, Reconnaissance à Marie. Close to the door burned upon some sort of stand a quantity of votive candles of all sizes, and in all stages of decline-before nothing particular, so far as I could discover-and which produced a very odd effect, with their irregular cluster of glimmering little lights. Perhaps they were waiting their turn to be transferred to some altar; perhaps the entrance of the priest would promote them, if they held out long enough; at all events, there they were, all clustered together in a corner, vaguely doing honour, like the pictures and the samplers, to "Marie.'

On the next day we resumed our journey, having recovered the unlucky baggage. This time we had a fellowpassenger-a young man, blooming and beardless, returning from Paris, where he had been buying himself a substitute for the conscription, and running over with fun and satisfac


At every country station on the road, groups of unlucky peasants in blouses, each with his bundle on the end of a stick, stared up wistfully at our train as they waited for the one which was carrying them to Paris. "Voilà la conscription!" cried our young companion, pointing out of the window with all the eagerness of a Frenchman, and a mixture of fun, sympathy, and self-congratulation very amusing to see. He was never tired of pointing them out to us. He seemed to have been just sufficiently near a similar fate to be able to imagine himself among those rueful recruits, and to find something particularly piquant and agreeable in the contrast. He was not a sentimental Frenchman, and he was too young and too thoughtless to take the graver view of the subject. He looked out upon the new conscripts with undisguised fun and laughter. He had given "deux mille cinq francs" for his substitute, and had been compelled to go to Paris from his town, Beaucaire, famous for fairs, to get his representative accepted by the authorities. He was too gay and full of frolic spirits himself to think much of this except as an adventure. He had no particular objection to accept the chance of the conscript for his own part, though he laughed at them, but his parents would not hear of it, and the lad entered into a half-laughing and wholly uncomprehending discussion of enlistment in England, lamenting meanwhile, in deference to my sister and myself, whose French, as I have said before, was limited, that he knew no English, pas un mot. "Ah, the soldiers in England were all volunteers! Was it so ?" No, no," another traveller interposed eagerly"not all; married men like Monsieur served only of their own will; but pour la generale-no, no!-it was impossible;" whereupon our young friend returned to the charge, "Was it indeed all volontiers?-all?" He and his compatriot shook their heads over it, and at last assented politely; but, doubtless, were convinced that Monsieur was romancing, and that an army which could exist without a conscription was an impossible dream. This dear good young fellow,

-I am old enough to be affectionate to a lad of twenty,-I wish he had not made that confession that he had no English, for in this unfortunate way the chances are few that Maga will ever reach his benighted eyes. That afternoon, worn out by fatigue, and weary, my brother was ill, fit for nothing but bed or a sofa, filling us with anxiety lest the journey should prove too much for him, and for the moment totally prostrated. To see how our young companion contrived a couch for him-helped to cover him up, for it was excessively cold; and above all our wraps-not that it was necessary, only out of the exuberance of his good young heart-threw his own overcoat, a generous addition to the pile-brings tears to one's eyes even in recollection. When we came to Avignon, where the train stopped a little, and where our young friend left us, he stayed to help my brother tenderly out of the carriage, to give him his arm to the refreshment-room; and, last and crowning kindness of all, to send off a waiter flying for a chauffrette to put under the invalid's chilly feet. You may laugh-it is not very romantic; but Alice and I were much more like crying over that chauffrette. God bless the boy in his sunny southland country, and bring all the blossoms of his youth to fruit! I like all Frenchmen better for his sake.

Under these circumstances, it is not to be expected that we should have had much enjoyment of the road. I remember only glimpses of distant white peaks upon the skyof one point where again it was possible to see Mont Blanc, and where yet, of course, we did not see it-of the brown elbow of hill, where every clod is worth gold, the slopes of L'Hermitage of other stretches of steep and terraced ground, where other vineyards ought to be, and of the quiet Rhone, silently accompanying our steps, sometimes disappearing for an hour, only to come in sight fuller and calmer than before; a glimpse of Avignon over the shadowy plain, lying in a ghostly half-light under the hills, though the sky is still rosy over those dark heights, and full of a colourless, wistful, shining overhead, and round the opposite

horizon is the last of our daylight; after that-clang clang, throb throb --a feeble new moon palpitating over a half-seen peak, a wide undiscernible country, and nothing more to be seen or recognised till we come again to streets and lights; and Alice looks out with fear and trembling to see a faint breath of night-air stir the dry twigs of some trees before our hotel window, and calls it wind; and wonders if it will be calm tomorrow, when she means to trust her treasures to the sea.

Wind!—a good fan in a vigorous hand could get up as brisk a gale incontinently; but don't be afraid, Alice! we are innocently intent upon getting to the steamer in good timesay half an hour before she sails next morning-as if she were a reasonable English boat, with no nonsense about her. And we were up in time; Harry much restored, a day so calm that not even Alice could suspect any wind abroad in it, and the courage of the whole party resolute for the voyage. To the steamer--" Have you take your place, sare?" says a grave commissionaire, who has come up-stairs on a voyage of discovery. The bagage should have go two, tree hour before to the bureau-have you take your place?"


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"Taken our places? no-impossible! We only arrived last night," cried Harry. Never mind, we are not particular about our places; we will take what we can get-let us go."

"But Monsieur is too late; it is impossible," said this solemn extinguisher of our hopes. "The place must be take in good time-say the day before-say thees morning. Le bagage must go to the bureau two, tree hours, as I tell you. It is too late; you can do nothing. The ship go to sail in an hour. No-impossible!"

We looked at each other with blank faces-such a day! the sun, exuberant in the heavens, diving down in arrows of light even into that little three-cornered Place before the windows; not a cloud upon the sky, nor a breath of wind-an ideal unbelievable day, when all the world would go to sea if it could. But there stood the commissionaire

holding his ground steadily upon the il faut of his impracticable country. Yes, to be sure, it was all system, order, regularity. Who but an illogical English savage would think of rushing down to a vessel half an hour before she sailed, thinking it all right so long as he got his luggage and himself on board? They do things differently in France-there everything must be ruled in delightful square lines, and nobody taken aback with an unforeseen arrival. Why, Monsieur le Capitaine might have been driven out of his reckoning by the unexpected advent of a bundle of passengers tumbling into his ship at the last moment! and Messieurs of the Bureau lost a night's rest and a week's temper in consequence of an attempt so daring. Heaven defend us from such fatal consequences of insular sauvagism! the barbarians must wait.

And so we had to do, and did, with an indescribable amount of grumbling. Such a day! Alice, who is the greatest coward that ever trembled on the verge of a voyage (I don't believe she really was very sorry in her heart), did not cease her regrets all day. After we had reconciled ourselves to our fate a little, we sallied out in a body, and climbing a height which it is orthodox to climb when one goes to Marseilles, saw spread out before us, for the first time, the blue Mediterranean — so blue, so bright, so calm, its great surface rippled over like an inland lake, and the clouds which lie becalmed upon the sky resting equally unbroken upon that gigantic mirror; grey cliffs, greyer in the contrast with the wonderful blue of the sea and the brightness of the sunshine, falling off in the distance westward, and the little fort of the Chateau d'If perched on its island, breaking in an irregular point into the bay on the other side below; the harbour with its masts and quays, the old port and the new, with a long sweep between, where again those dead grey walls rise gloomy and unbroken, repelling the light; fortifications and defences, less disagreeable to contemplate here, with their faces turned towards the sea, than frowning over the labours of a manufacturing city.

By-and-by we descended to the port itself, to see the Sicilian Company's boat, which was to sail next day, and consider whether we could trust ourselves to her safe-keeping. Some of these Marseilles fortifications, seen close at hand, moated round by basins of sea-water, look impregnable; but Marseilles is not imposing as a seaport to people who have come from London, and know Liverpool. In these docks the vessels are packed like herrings end on, as the seafaring people say-bows and sterns pointing at the quay, but never even, it appeared, in the very act of loading or unloading, laid alongside this, I presume, by way of making these operations more troublesome, and giving greater scope to that French ingenuity which loves to overcome difficulties of its own making. One remarkable thing we all observed simultaneously-nobody was doing anything; everybody was at leisure to run into a crowd and gesticulate over some poor thief whom a gendarme had collared. Even the horses took a leisurely lunch out of their bags while they stood waiting. One could hear one's-self speak upon those sunny quays; the cranes hung high in the sun, the waggons waited, the ships bristled their bowsprits at us over the horses' heads, and nobody had the least appearance of doing anything, or of finding it necessary to do anything, though it was the height of the day; and I presume in such a seaport, judging by ordinary rules, there must have been something to do. Fancy the possibility of hearing any word addressed to you by a little five-year-old voice on one of the quays of Liverpool, not to say in the docks of St Katherine; but it is perfectly practicable yonder in the sunshine at La Joliette.

The Sicilian boat was little and dumpy, and unsatisfactory on the whole. Alice, who had escaped the legitimate steamer with so much éclat, and who had been very profuse in her regrets hitherto, became rather silent as we approached the vessel which was to sail to-morrow. I saw her look up furtively at the flag dangling from a mast-head, and knew by her eyes that she was quite convinced the wind was rising, and

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