Imatges de pÓgina
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flowed forth, and descended to the feet, would have made them sufficiently remarkable; but the effect of this portion of the dress was heightened by the fantastic richness of the rest. They wore no longer indeed the arms of their husbands emblazoned on their gowns; nor did their garments, like those of their great-grandmothers, in the fashion of the open tunics of the Spartan girls, display their naked sides: but gold and silver, satin and velvet, combined to furnish figures calculated to adorn the festival of the gayest prince in Christendom.

Among the vast crowd of strange figures and costumes, the knight was surprised to find none belonging to the Hebrew nation. He did not know, or had forgotten, that, although still spreading its branches in other parts of Europe, the tree of Judah was not only cut down in France, but rooted up out of the soil. The Jews, in fact, had been banished so strictly from this most Christian kingdom, by an edict of the last prince, that if one of them had been found to-day among that multitude of his fellow-creatures, he would in all probability have been burnt alive.

But, mingling with the peculiarities of the day, the common business of life went on as usual; and the stranger was almost stunned with the thousand discordant noises of a Parisian morning. Every article in daily use, from a roasted goose to a tallow-candle, had its crier; and every crier vied with his neighbours as to who should bawl the loudest. The commissioners of the baths were flying about informing the public that their water was hot, and, looking eagerly in the face of the passer-by, shouted, "Make haste! make haste!" The venders of wine were clamorously inviting the crowd to taste; the restaurateurs tempting the appetite with a catalogue of their meats; and in the midst of all, some men in black issuing from the houses or the cross streets, ringing a mournful bell, called upon all who heard them to pray for the souls of the dead.

The number of beggars, especially, was so great, and their endless litanies so loud, that they might almost be said to give the prevailing character to the scene. Besides the common poor who go to and fro upon the earth to this day with artificial wounds and stories of imaginary distress, there were shoals of vagabonds calling themselves Bohemians, distinguished from the rest by their shorn heads-so despoiled by the mandate of government. A still greater number of bald crowns belonged to the various

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orders of mendicant monks; and these were farther distinguished by the chin as well as the scalp being destitute of hair. The most remarkable of this class were the Jacobins, a colony of Dominicans, so called from officiating in the chapel of St. Jacques. One of these flogged St. Louis to his heart's content in the quality of his confessor; another assassinated Henri III.; and another canonized the assassin: but notwithstanding this illustrious fortune, they all begged in the streets of Paris. Then came the cordeliers, so celebrated for their dissolute manners; and then the Grands Augustins, the Celestines, the Carthusians; while, jostled by these bold and libertine monks, some bands of Beguines and Sœurs Sachettes, raised here and there their shrill voices among the crowd.

All these, however, were beggars by profession, and excited therefore but little of the knight's pity, although they drew some small coins from his pocket; but it was with a start of surprise and concern that he saw, mingling with the clamorous crowd, and crying like the others for bread, some students of the university habited in their black gowns and cowls. This common spectacle appeared extraordinary to him; for the university was associated in his mind only with ideas of power, and grandeur, and the most prodigious audacity. But this was the university as a body; this was the rector, the advocates, the regents of the colleges; he had now to learn how happily the students united to their clerical character that of the ruffian and the mendicant. The spirits of the Scot were depressed, as he thought how many high-minded chivalrous adventurers had left and were still leaving his own country, to pursue the path of honour and fortune at this famous seminary; and in particular a cloud settled upon his brow as he speculated upon the fate of an early friend, whom it was to be his business that evening to seek out in the city of colleges on the left bank of the river.

On approaching the end of the street, which was terminated by the gate of St. Denis, on the same spot which it occupies to-day, the crowd became so dense that sometimes a halt of several minutes at a time took place in the moving mass. On such occasions the principal confusion was occasioned by the valets, who enjoyed the reputation of being, next to the students, the greatest blackguards in Paris. So obnoxious, in fact, had they become to the authorities, that those who were out of place were forced to quit the city instantly, if they could not find some respectable person to become responsible for their conduct.

Their costume was as various as that of their descendants of the present day; but many wore only a single sleeve of their master's livery. On the present occasion their de linquencies were confined to certain manual jokes played upon the lower class of women, and some less innocent conversations which they held with the speaking birds, hung out almost at every window. And in these household favourites of the Parisians of the age, it must be said, they met with their match. Leading the public life they did, in which they were exposed to every sort of society, the natural morality of the birds was so far lost that they had become fluent in every term of insult and indecency; and thunders of laughter were elicited among the crowd by the aptness of their repartees.

When the Scottish knight at length reached the gate of St. Denis, a scene took place which formed a strange prelude to the approaching ceremony. In those days the English were not the only ravagers of France. Famine, as usual, had followed the steps of protracted war; and troops of starved wolves, unable to live in their forests, came prowling not only to the gates but in the very streets of Paris. Women as well as children, if we may believe contemporary authors, were in some instances killed by these hungry and ferocious beasts; and not a few of the more daring citizens went forth to combat the destroyer, in the same chivalrous spirit which inspired the heroes of the romancers in their duels with giants and dragons.

At this moment a slain wolf of extraordinary size was brought in as a trophy by a party of these adventurers; and when the cortege reached the gate, in order to give greater effect to the exhibition, the tremendous brute was raised upon his legs, with his dead eyes and dripping jaws directed towards the street. The spectacle was hailed by the rabble with a universal shout; but the noise died away with unusual suddenness. It seemed as if the show had been taken as an evil augury; and this strange avant-courier of a monarch was ordered to make his entrance by another avenue. The wolf-hunters, however, were now anxious to become the spectators of a new and more splendid pageant; and the gaunt carcase was thrown down by the way-side, to remain till the living hero of the day had passed by. The incident was called to mind soon after, when the burdens which the necessities of Charles VII. compelled him to impose, were characterized by the selfishness of the Parisians, not as the demands of a lawful king but the ravages of a wolf.

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The whole of the space at the porte St. Denis was taken up by the authorities of the city, lining each side of the way, with those in the middle appointed to receive the king. Above the gate was hung a shield, with the representation of France supported by three angels, and the following inscription:

Tres excellent roy et seigneur,
Les manans de votre cité

Vous reçoiuent en tout honneur,
Et en tres grande humilité.

The ground was kept by the arbalatriers and the archers of the town arrayed in coats of arms; which, being of the livery colours of the city, red and bluc, gave them the appearance of wearing a uniform, although this improvement in the dress of soldiers is of much more modern introduction.

The approaching cortege, which had been some time in sight, at length gradually reached the ground; and file after file, as they arrived, took up their position on either side of the way till King Charles himself was seen through the long vista, approaching slowly and majestically, seated on a white horse the emblem of royalty. At this sight the breath of the vast multitude, hitherto pent up as it were by curiosity and expectation, found simultaneous utterance, and the cry of "Noel! Noel!" burst from every lip. The expression is a contraction of Emanuel,“ Lord be with us!" and was used at that time as a cry of joy by the French people, instead of "Vive le Roi!" It was echoed from mouth to mouth, from street to street. The women and children in the most distant quarters of the metropolis gave back the sound; the sick and the dying put aside their curtains, to gaze towards the window and swell the shout with their feeble voices; the clock-towers of every church in the city gave forth at the signal the joyful peal; and even the great bell of the palace, whose hammer stirred only on extraordinary occasions, rang out "Noel! Noel!"

On the approach of the king, the prevôt of the merchants for the prevôt of Paris was a royal and not a municipal officer-presented the keys of the city; while a canopy of violet-coloured velvet was held by the echevins (answering in some respects to our aldermen), over the royal head. The city dignitaries then marshalled the way of their master into his metropolis.

The prevôt of Paris was attended by his sergeants on foot in great numbers, each wearing a green and red hood; and after these came a long line of noteries, procureurs,

commissioners, advocates, and counsellors, followed by the lieutenant and guard of the governor, or, as he was termed in the grandiloquence of the age, the king of the Chatelet.

After this civic cortege there followed one of a more extraordinary nature, or at least one that few would have looked for in the triumphant march of a king. It consisted of Faith, Hope, Charity, Justice, Prudence, Courage, and Temperance, all on horseback, and all sumptuously dressed in character. Together with these, however, perhaps to redeem in some measure the inconsistence, the Seven Deadly Sins came plunging on in terrible array. Treading on the heels of the latter, the gentlemen of the Parliament and Requests then made their appearance attired in red robes; and after them a body of eight hundred archers led on by the Count d'Angouleme, a Prince of the blood of the house of Orleans.

Montjoye, king of arms, came next; a grave and august personage, shrouded in an immense robe of violet-coloured velvet, studded all over with golden fleurs-de-lys and large pearls. After him rode the Grand Esquire, carrying the royal helmet, which was closed with a double fleur-de-lys of gold. So sumptuously were this personage and his horse arrayed, that he might have been mistaken for the hero of the scene himself; but following next in order appeared the white steed, which, in the processions of that age, denoted the royal rank of the rider. This superb animal was clothed with velvet housings of celestial blue, planted with golden fleur-de-lys, and trailing to the ground. His forehead was covered with a plate of polished steel, and surmounted by a magnificent plume of ostrich feathers.

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Nor was the rider unworthy of the steed. Whatever may have been the defects of Charles's person, none were visible on the present occasion. The disproportionate shortness of his legs, which caused him, it is said, to introduce the fashion of long garments, was now hidden by his dress and his lofty and soldier-like bearing, at a moment like this, so full of pride and triumph, partook no doubt still more than usual of a graceful haughtiness. Clothed in gilded armour, with a rich coat of arms over the cuirass, and shaking to the motion of his steed a cord of glittering gems, which hung upon his hat, onward pranced the hero of the day, bowing and smiling to the enthusiastic greetings of his people, and looking "every inch a king."

After the principal personage had passed by, the interest of the Scottish stranger seemed to increase rather than diminish; and he gazed at the next in order with an earnest

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