Imatges de pÓgina






[ocr errors][ocr errors]



N the year of our Lord one thouOsand four hundred and thirtyseven, the famous city of Paris presented the spectacle of a royal entry far more interesting than the usual pomp of kings. For fifteen years before, a stranger had sat on the throne of France. For fifteen years, the foot of an English monarch had been on the neck of the French people; and Henry V. with the usual insolence of a conqueror, instead of humouring the writhings of his prostrate enemy, had only trodden the fiercer at every throe. But the spirit of the Nation was now fairly re-awakened. Heaven itself had fought on her side, and by signs, and portents, and miracles, rendered holy the cause of Liberty. The apostle and martyr of the new revolution was not a warrior, but a woman; not the scion of royalty, but a peasant girl. The mission of this illustrious Virgin was now fulfilled; the French people had risen up like a strong man from slumber; their enemies had been swept out of the metropolis; and, on the day on which our narrative commences, their wandering Prince, crowned with the diadem of his ancestors, was about to enter in triumph the gates of Paris.

Among the vast multitudes that rolled like a torrent through the streets, there was a single individual who, although in some slight measure connected with the busi


ness of the scene, appeared like ourselves to be nothing more than an idle spectator. This was a young Scottish knight, who belonged to a party which had been sent forward to announce the coming of the king, but who had now, with the curiosity of a stranger, and the love of foreign sights inherent in his nation, sallied forth alone to engulph himself in the crowd. He had lately fought in the breaches of Montereau against his ancestral enemies, the English; and a little earlier had pranced through the city of Tours, in the train of the princess Margaret of Scotland, who had gone thither to wed the boy-dauphin: but never before had he beheld, or even imagined, so much splendour and confusion on so vast a scale.

As he elbowed his way from the island called the Cité, which formed the central portion of Paris, towards the wilderness of houses and palaces on the right bank of the river, he paused in astonishment on gaining the middle of the bridge-it was the Pont-aux-Changeurs-to look round upon the scene. Behind him, after his eye had traversed the Cité, the visible horizon was formed by the thousand dark roofs of the University; and before, at the end of the bridge, his passage seemed to be barred by the stern towers of the Chatelet, although surmounting and surrounding these, the turrets of almost innumerable palaces attracted, irresistibly, the curiosity. On either side the view was shut in by the ranges of shops and houses which lined the bridge like a parapet; and if sometimes an opening afforded a peep beyond, another bridge loaded in like manner was seen at a few hundred paces distance.

The first thought of the stranger was of the enormous number of human beings which this densely packed mass of dwellings must contain.

"In God's name, Messire," said he to a passer-by, "how many may there be of you here?"

"The first city in Europe," replied the bourgeois, pompously, "reckons within her walls three hundred thousand souls." The Scot stared in astonishment.

"there are

"Then, by our Lady's might," said he,

enough of you to eat up all Perth at one meal!—that is, if we would let you."

"I doubt,” rejoined the citizen,

"whether the capital of Scotland could afford us even a single meal; else why do so many hungry mouths cross the ocean almost daily to eat and drink at the cost of France?"

"Because they are bidden," replied the Scot, lowering his voice and compressing his lips like a man who would not lose his temper. "If France could fight her own battles there would be no need of our Scottish spears. But away! you are only a peddling churl for all your embroidered doublet; and to-morrow I shall see you in the depths of some dusky warehouse haggling for deniers in a dress of serge and leather!"

"I am an echevin of the town!" cried the insulted dignitary.

"Were you the prevôt himself, I say you are only a peddling churl!"

"Masters, will you hear this?" said the echevin, turning to the crowd, some of whom had stopped to listen to the dialogue; "do you see my badge? Be there none here who follow the banner of Saint Luce?" But most of those whom he addressed walked away out of the row, and not a few of the others laughed outright. As for the Scot, whom the name of the banner had informed that his antagonist was a member of the confrèrie of tailors, he turned indignantly away; and the inhospitable echevin. alternately appealing to the passers-by, and tugging at his unwilling sword, was soon left behind.

The young knight pursued his way, rather less disposed to admire than before this adventure. The Chatelet, however, through the arch-way of which he passed, although no longer the Roman tower of Julian the apostate, appeared to him to be a fortress of incomparable beauty as well as strength; and the immense line of the Rue Saint Denis beyond, although he had heard that the Rue Saint Martin was still wealthier, seemed to contain in its countless shops and warehouses the riches of a whole kingdom, But everything on this day had an aspect peculiar to the occasion. The street was hung in its whole length with canopies of rich cloth and carpeting, and here and there stages were erected for the performance of music, shows, and mysteries. The members of the different confrèries of trades were seen hurrying along to their rendezvous, gorgeously dressed, and bearing the banners of their patron-saints; while jostling these, suc cessive groups of minstrels, jugglers, players, and above all, devils hoofed and horned, elbowed their way to their various posts.

Nor were the women wanting in the spectacle. The caps alone of the ladies, made in the form of a sugar-loaf, half an ell high, from the peak of which a white veil

« AnteriorContinua »