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Londres, with the conjoined waters of the Maine and the Sarthe before us.
The city of Angers is divided by the Mayenne into the Upper and Lower Towns. The many changes which have taken place in Angers, although adding to the comfort of the inhabitants, have taken from the picturesque appearance of the town : still, however, there are enough of old carvings and pointed and projecting roofs to gratify the curious. The exterior of the Cathedral of St. Maurice, situated on the elevated ground on which is built a part of the town, has an admirable appearance from below, while it yet gains upon us at every step of approach. Its base is of the eleventh, the towers and all the other parts of the structure appertain to the fourteenth, century; and while it evinces the practicability of uniting harmoniously distant styles of the Gothic, we believe it is nowhere surpassed for the appropriateness of the sentiment which its contemplation as a whole creates in the mind. We should think the choir cannot be much under two hundred feet in length. The form and proportions are remarkably pleasing-the tracery and other ornaments perfectly superb; and when the spectator takes his place half way up the choir, or between the transepts,-embracing in his view the general composition, aided in its effect by the sumptuous altar, with the swelling notes of one of the finest organs in France, and the dazzling rays of light which strike through the painted windows, so exquisitely formed and proportioned, -he is likely to remain fixed to the spot for some minutes.
The genius of Gothic architecture appears to have been dormant for centuries; the science of the later Gothic may possibly remain, but. the art which produced its meaning and sentiment has, we fear, utterly escaped us. As regards interiors, we allude to a sense of awe, perhaps produced by a degree of darkness on entering the portal, merging as you advance into a grey and mysterious light, which bursts before the altar into the effulgence of day. It may be said, that few Gothic buildings, on a great scale, have been erected during a long period. But does not this result from the loss which we are deploring ? Let the true aim of Gothic ecclesiastical architecture be kept constantly in view by the architects of the present day, and they will generally be more or less successful in embodying it in the occasional opportunities which occur to them. They will thereby have the additional merit of forming anew the public taste and understanding on a branch of their profession at present but partially appreciated. There is in this Cathedral of St. Maurice a monument to Margaret, the queen of our sixth Henry, whose romantic history is pretty generally known.
The Académie d'Equitation here is a very celebrated one, and has numbered amongst its pupils several illustrious Englishinen, in the list of whose names appears that of our great Wellington.
But the prominent feature of Angers is the remains of its strong Castle. It stands in the centre of and overlooks the town, and boasts of no less than eighteen massive towers. The broad fossées are cut in the rock on which the Castle stands; and the whole effect of the ponderous pile, built of the blue slatestone so plentiful in the neighbourhood, and forming an important item in the exports of the town, is solemn and imposing in the extreme. It must have been a place of great strength, and was at one period the residence of the Kings of Sicily, who were also Dukes of Anjou.
The Salle de Spectacle, judging from the exterior, is a large one; but we were not in it, the company of players having taken their departure for Nantes shortly before our arrival. The language of the people at Angers is free from that patois, which, even in some of the large towns of Brittany, rendered their French almost unintelligible, and the state of society is said to be, in every respect, bien comme il faut.
The morning on which we put ourselves into the steamer al Angers, at the early hour of five o'clock, was soft and beautiful, and for some distance the towers and battlements of its Castle appeared a fine object from the river Maine, on the banks of which there are many prettily situated villas ; but ere long we arrived at the village of La Point, where the two rivers join, and found ourselves forth with gliding along on the rolling waters of the far-famed Loire !
Several relics of the power of ancient Rome exist here; but the most important is the Pontes de Cé. The village derives additional interest from having been the scene of a battle between Louis the Thirteenth and Marie de Medicis, in the beginning of the sixteenth century, as well as by the repeated conflicts which occurred here between the Vendéans and the Republicans in 1793.
Passing through between several small islands, you come to Duguerriene, and the Levée de la Loire, that extraordinary work, here becomes observable, forming a barrier to the river of great strength and solidity. The design of this wonderful undertaking is attributed to Charlemagne, although Louis le Debonnaire had the njerit of commencing, in the beginning of the eighth century, this great work; which was completed by Henry the Second of England and Compte of Anjou, about the middle of the eleventh century. It has rendered what would have been a profitless swamp, the rich and fertile champagne called “the Great Valley of the Loire," beside having rendered navigable the river, along the banks of which it forms a raised road twenty-two feet in height by twenty-four in breadth, and continues on to Blois, forty leagues, or about eighty of our English miles. The banks of the river are fively wooded, having occasionally a border of poplars, whilst the wide and distant country frequently presents itself to view on either side. St. Jean is on the side of the river opposite to Duguerriene; and on passing these picturesque looking villages, the scene becomes one of great beauty and interest, aided by the appearance of the church of Bohan in the distance, which, owing to a turn in the river, appears as if on an island in the midst of itclosing in the view. A little further on, the pretty village of Blaisson meets the eye, with its church tower rising above the trees, which extend up the ground beyond ; and very soon, by another turn of the river, the village of St. Mathurin appears in front; while villas and cottages, built of the white sandstone, here found in large quantities, seem to line both sides of the river. A magnificent pont de fer, 100, is being erected here across the wide expanse of the Loire, which adds greatly to the effect of the scene,- indeed, the bright and varied landscapes which for miles presented themselves in succession, constituted, to our mind, almost the perfection of river scenery. St. Maur, too, is ren
dered a place of interest from its Abbey-an ancient seat of learning, from which has emanated standard works both in history and the sciences.
The river widens at Touriel--the villages of Des Rosiers and Gennes appearing on either side, with an island between, which will assist in connecting them by suspension bridges, now in the course of being finished ; and which will prove, besides, a vast convenience to the inhabitants of the fertile and populous country which lies beyond them. But pretty islands, well wooded, are of frequent occurrence on this part of the river; and after passing Cunalt, with its Church of Nôtre Dame, and Tresses with its Gothic tower, and the village of Tuffeaux, whose quarries have supplied the white stone of which have been built all the edifices of the Loire for the last twelve centuries, we were, ere long, on the quay at Saumur. Saumur was at one period a place of great trade; but a change
has occurred in this respect, and the inhabitants, then amounting to twenty-five thousand, do not now exceed half that number. At present their chief articles of export are chaplets and enamels, the fabrication of which occupy some hundred people of both sexes ; but, after all, the whole value of the annual export of these articles does not exceed a sum equal to 16,0001. sterling. The town itself is finely placed close to the river, rising as it recedes from it; and the country around, as seen from the Castle, or from a hill beyond, presents a panoramic view of one of the most beautiful and productive districts of Anjou. The Castle was used, during the war, as a depôt for English prisoners, and is now in use as a military station. It completely overlooks the town, and is seen in every direction. Its towers and embattlements are of great strength. Amongst the several churches in Saumur, that of St. Pierre is by far the finest—that of Nôtre Dame de Nantilly the most curious, and dating from the middle of the fifth century. St. Pierre, we believe, was founded in the tenth, but the alterations have not been made in the style of the original design; and although there is much to admire in individual parts of the structure, yet, as a whole, its effect is somewhat inharmonious to the eye, and does not produce a suitable feeling of solemnity. A well-bred and intelligent curé we met with in the diligence from Chateaubriandt, and again at Angers and Saumur, who displayed some erudition in these matters, raised our expectations too high in regard to it; and we confess, that with the church of St. Pierre we felt disappointed. The Hotel de Ville, situated on the quay, is a curious building, in an early style of the Gothic; and the Theatre is a sufficiently commodious one. And although it did puzzle us to discover where a sufficient number of buyers could come from to support by their purchases the handsome shops to be found in Saumur, matters seemed to move on well enough, and we certainly found it a very lively and agreeable little town.
The Tours steam boat left Saumur at noon, so that we avoided the small discomfort of early rising; and as fine weather, so essential to enjoyment in travelling, still continued, we started in the expectation of another day's revelling in a succession of rich river scenery—and we were not disappointed. There is a lovely prospect on looking back upon Sauze -one of those pretty isles being in the midst—while on the right bank is
Candes, with its handsome church; and there is little likelihood of the Chateau d'Ussé being overlooked, for its appearance from the water is really magnificent, with the finely wooded hills in the back-ground.
We have no intention, however, to indulge in a pourtrayal of the views which presented themselves at every point of the river since leaving Saumur. During the day they were ever varying and rivalling each other in picturesque beauty; and the sun was gilding the Loire with her setting rays when the great bridge of Tours, with her cathedral spires, and the tower of Charlemagne, were, by one of her capricious turnings, brought suddenly before us.
On our arrival at Tours we made a temporary residence at the Hotel du Faisan, in the Rue Royale, and the first morning thereafter sallied forth to take a survey of the town. Standing at the south extremity of the bridge, we had in view the Musée and the Marie, terminating either side of the Rue Royale, which is broad, well paved, and, with its handsome shops and houses, would, in any city, be considered splendid ; while the line of sight is continued through the Barrière de Fer, along the road which runs up the rising ground beyond it. Right and left are promenades, shaded by well-grown trees; and on turning round, the scene is varied by a splendid bridge of fifteen arches, crossing the Loire between two pretty islands; while the large villages of St. Symphorien and St. Cyr appear on the opposite side of the river, as if forming part of the town.
There are many new streets of excellent houses, generally possessed by the wealthy of the French families who make Tours their residence. Building is still going on rapidly, and several of the principal streets are being supplied with a raised pavement for pedestrians - a luxury not appreciated formerly even in Paris. During our first walk, which took us to the west side of the town, every thing appeared to wear an aspect so unexpectedly modern, that, except an occasional glance of the old spires, there was little to remind us of its antiquity. Our after perambulations, however, and ready access to the excellent public library, made us acquainted with the remains of many streets and buildings interesting to the curious, as well from their history as from their age.
The Cathedral of St. Gatien is one of the finest in Touraine, and is in a state of excellent preservation. Its reconstruction commenced at the beginning of the twelfth century, but it progressed slowly, and was not completed till the year 1507. Indeed, one of the towers was not erected for some time afterwards, when the Cardinal Caretto, then Archbishop of Tours, caused boxes to be erected in the different churches of his diocese, for the purpose of receiving donations for the attainment of this object, on which he had set his wishes. ** although the work was proceeded in at long intervals, the original design has, in every probability, been strictly adhered to, or, if it has been deviated from, the style has been so well maintained throughout as to produce great harmony, as well in the elevation as in the interior. The Cathedral has two towers, similar in form, though different in ornament and detail. These towers are upwards of one hundred feet in height, and from every point of view-whether from the Place
Histoire de Touraine depuis la Conquête des Gaules par les Romans, par Chalmel, &c. Archévêque, where it includes a small side tower and the beautiful façades which connect the roofs of the choir and the aisles, or in front, where the three magnificent portals, with the centre window above, come at once under the eye-this stately pile presents an aspect of solemn grandeur. The workmanship is remarkably fine; but it should be observed, that the stone of which it is built is from the quarries at Tuffeaux, already alluded to, and is so soft in its texture that it can be scraped into any form with a sharp instrument when taken from its bed, while it hardens with age and exposure to the atmosphere; and considering the value of these qualities, would it not be worth ascertaining if the expense of using this stone in England would amount to a prohibition, and whether it would stand the changes of our climate? The choir is of great extent. The different parts of the tracery so run into each other as to produce a rich and harmonious effect. The formation of the windows is remarkably beautiful, and their painting gorgeous. A portion of what was executed by Serasin was unfortunately broken by a fearful hailstorm, about two centuries ago, but much of it yet remains, and the rest is so admirably replaced that the deficiency in the richness of the colouring is seldom offensively conspicuous. The rose window above the great portal is considered exquisitely beautiful. The various representatives of the once powerful and wealthy family of Montmorency had for several centuries made large gifts and endowments to St. Gatien, and in acknowledgment their arms were from time to time painted into this window. There they still remain, giving additional effect and interest to a window which is in itself a perfect model in the style of its period. The altar is well placed, and" got up" with classical taste. 'It is, besides, one of the cleanest old cathedrals we have seen; and when any part of it goes in the slightest degree out of order, it is immediately repaired.
The Palace of the Archbishop of Tours is quite close to the Cathedral. It is a large and handsome building, and had evidently been erected when to the office was attached more state and larger emoluments. The last archbishop died only a few months before we visited the palace. He has left a reputation for worth and piety. But the largest sum he ever enjoyed was 25001. a year, which was latterly cut down to half that sum; when the good old man just removed to one end of the palace, and dismissing half his establishment, is said to have given away a third of his reduced income in charity.
The Cathedral of St. Martin was one of the most extensive and best endowed in France; but all that now remains of it are the two towers, both fine; and that of Charlemagne-a noble example of the ninth century. We have seen drawings of what were, at a recent period, the remains of this cathedral, and from these can be formed some idea of its original splendour: but in an evil hour for the antiquary, the magistrates resolved to remove all except what now stands, for the purpose of fewing the ground. The consequence is, that the Rue de la Harpe runs right through between the towers, which are so far apart that no one would now suppose them to have belonged to the same structure. But this is not the only ecclesiastical edifice in Tours which has been allowed to fall into decay, or been applied to purposes far different from those to which they were dedicated." St. Symphorien