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Tenth Thousand 




Fourth Edition 


Illustrated by H. 

G. Fell 

Sixth Impression, 


Illustrated by W. 

T. Maud. 

Third Impression 

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Ich singe wie der Vogel singt 
Der in den Zweigen wohnet 

Das Lied, das aus der Kehle dringt 
1st Lohn, der reichlich lohnet. 







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It was one lovely day in early spring two years 
ago that, on the occasion of a visit to the great 
poet of Provence, I first heard of these Memories 
of his youth. 

Mistral had been for many years collecting and 
editing material for this volume, and was at the 
moment just completing a French translation 
from the Provengal original, which he laughingly 
assured us he was glad we had interrupted, since 
he found it an travail brute. 

The enthusiastic reception accorded to this 
French edition, not only in Paris but throughout 
the reading world of France, encourages me to 
think that perhaps in England, also, considering 
the increased interest caused by the entente cordiale 
in all things concerning France, an English 
translation of this unique description of Proven9al 
country life sixty years ago may be welcome ; 
and in America too, where the name and life-work 
of Mistral have always been better known than 
in England. 


The fact that Mistral and his great collaborators 
in the Felibre movement, Roumanille, Aubanel, 
Felix Gras, Anselme Mathieu and others, wrote 
entirely in the language of their beloved Provence, 
no doubt accounts for their works being so little 
known outside their own country, though latterly 
the name of Mistral has been brought prominently 
forward by his election as a recipient last year of 
the Nobel Prize for patriotic literature, and also 
by his refusal to accept a Chair among the Olym- 
pians of the French Academy. In spite of his 
rejection of the latter honour, which was a matter 
of principle, he could scarcely fail to have been 
gratified by the compliment paid in offering to him 
what is never offered without being first soUcited, 
the would-be member being obliged to present him- 
self for election and also to endeavour personally 
to win the support of each of the sacred Forty. 

Of all Mistral's works his first epic poem, 
Mireille, is the best known outside France, chiefly 
no doubt because the invincible charm and beauty 
of this work make themselves felt even through 
the imperfect medium of a prose translation, and 
partly perhaps because Gounod gave it a certain 
vogue by adapting it as the libretto for his opera 
of Mireille. 

President Roosevelt has shown his appreciation 


not only of Mireille but of the life-work of the 
author in the following letter, a French transla- 
tion of which is to be seen framed in Mistral's 
Proven9al Museum at Aries. 

White House, Washington, 

December 15, 1904. 

My dear M. Mistral, — Mrs. Roosevelt and I 
were equally pleased with the book and the medal, 
and none the less because for nearly twenty years 
we have possessed a copy of Mireille. That copy 
we shall keep for old association's sake ; though 
this new copy with the personal inscription by 
you must hereafter occupy the place of honour. 

All success to you and your associates ! You 
are teaching the lesson that none need more to 
learn than we of the West, we of the eager, restless, 
wealth-seeking nation; the lesson that after a 
certain not very high level of material well- 
being has been reached, then the things that really 
count in life are the things of the spirit. Factories 
and railways are good up to a certain point ; 
but courage and endurance, love of wife and 
child, love of home and country, love of lover for 
sweetheart, love of beauty in man's work and 
in nature, love and emulation of daring and of 
lofty endeavour, the homely workaday virtues 



and the heroic virtues — these are better still, and 
if they are lacking no piled-up riches, no roaring, 
clanging industrialism, no feverish and many- 
sided activity shall avail either the individual 
or the nation. I do not undervalue these things 
of a nation's body ; I only desire that they shall 
not make us forget that beside the nation's body 
there is also the nation's soul. 
Again thanking you, on behalf of both of us. 
Believe me 

Very faithfully yours, 

Theodore Roosevelt. 
To M. Frederic Mistral. 

The Nobel Prize has been devoted to the same 
patriotic cause as that to which the poet has in- 
variably consecrated everything he possesses. 
In this instance the gift from Sweden has gone 
towards the purchase of an ancient palace in 
Aries, which in future will be the Felibrean Museum, 
the present hired building being far too small 
for the purpose. The object of the museum is 
to be for all times a record and storehouse of Pro- 
vengal history, containing the weapons, costumes, 
agricultural implements, furniture, documents, 
&c., dating from the most ancient times up to 
the present day. 



The Memoirs, which Monsieur Mistral defines as 
" Mes Origines/' end with the pubHcation of 
his Mireille in the year 1859 at the age of twenty- 
eight. He adds as a supplement a chapter 
written some three years later, a souvenir of 
Alphonse Daudet (also among the prophets), 
which gives a picture of the way these youthful 
poet-patriots practised the Gai-Savoir in the 
spring-time and heyday of their lives. 

I have added also a short summary translated 
from the writings of Monsieur Paul Marieton, 
which brings the history of Felibrige and its 
Capoulie up to the present date. 

Chelsea, June 1907. 



I. Childhood at Maillane ..... i 

II. My Father ....... 24 

III. The Magi Kings 32 

IV. Nature's School 45 

V. At St. Michel de Frigolet . . . . 61 

VI. At Monsieur Millet's School .... 80 

VII. Three Early Felibres . . . . .104 

VIII. How I TOOK My Degree . . . . .120 

IX. Dame Riquelle and the Republic of 1848 . 131 

X. Mademoiselle Louise ..... 147 

XI. The Return to the Farm .... 165 

XII. Font-Segugne . . . . . .185 

XIII. **The Provencal Almanac" . . . .198 

XIV. Journey to Les Saintes-Maries . . • 235 
XV. Jean Roussi^^re ...... 250 

XVI. "Mireille" 270 

XVII. The Revels of Trinquetaille .... 286 

Appendix ....... 307 

Mistral's Poems in the Provencal . , 324 



Frdderic Mistral • Frontispiece 

Mas du Juge — Birthplace of Fr6d6ric Mistral . . .18 

Mistral in 1864 60 

Arlesiennes at Maillane 84 

Joseph Roumanille 106 

Anselm Mathieu 158 

Theodore Aubanel 158 

Mas des Pommiers — Home of Joseph Roumanille . . . 188 

Madame Fr6d6ric Mistral, First Queen of the Felibres . 196 

F^Ux Gras, Poet and F6Ubre 202 

Mistral and his dog Pan-Perdu 226 

Ther^se Roumanille (Madame Boissiere), Second Queen of 

the Felibres , . . 266 

Paul Mari^ton, Chancelier des Fdibres 307 

Madame Gasquet {^U Mile. Girard), Third Queen of the 

F61ibres 318 

Madame Bischoffsheim i^ic Mile, de Chevigney), Fourth and 

present Queen of the F61ibres 326 




As far back as I can remember I see before me, 
towards the south, a barrier of mountains, whose 
slopes, rocks and gorges stand out in the distance 
with more or less clearness according to the 
morning or evening light. It is the chain of the 
Alpilles, engirdled with olive-trees like a wall of 
classic ruins, a veritable belvedere of bygone 
glory and legend. 

It was at the foot of this rampart that Caius 
Marius, Saviour of Rome, and to this day a popular 
hero throughout the land, awaited the barbarian 
hordes behind the walls of his camp. The record 
of his triumphs and trophies engraved on the Arch 
and Mausoleum of Saint-Remy has been gilded 
by the sun of Provence for two thousand years 

On the slopes of these hills are to be seen the 



remains of the great Roman aqueduct, which once 
carried the waters of Vaucluse to the Arena of 
Aries ; an aqueduct still called by the country 
people Ouide di Sarrasin (stonework of the 
Saracens), for it was by this waterway the Spanish 
Moors marched to Aries. On the jagged rocks of 
these Alpilles the Princes of Baux built their 
stronghold, and in these same aromatic valleys, 
at Baux, Romanin, and Roque-Martine, the beauti- 
ful chatelaines in the days of the troubadours held 
their Courts of Love. 

It is at Mont-Majour, on the plains of the 
Camargue, that the old Kings of Aries sleep 
beneath the flag-stones of the cloisters, and in the 
grotto of the Vallon d'Enfer of Cordes that our 
fairies still wander, while among these ruins of 
old Roman and feudal days the Golden Goat lies 

My native village, Maillane, facing the Alpilles, 
holds the middle of the plain, a wide fertile plain, 
still called in Provencal, *' Le Caieou,'' no doubt 
in memory of the Consul Caius Marius. 

An old worthy of this district, '' a famous 
wrestler known as the little Maillanais,'* once 
assured me that in all his travels throughout the 
length and breadth of Languedoc and Provence 
never had he seen a plain so smooth as this one 


of ours. For if one ploughed a furrow straight 
as a die for forty miles from the Durance river 
down to the sea, the water would flow without 
hindrance owing to the steady gradient. And, in 
spite of our neighbours treating us as frog-eaters, 
we Maillanais always agree there is not a prettier 
country under the sun than ours. 

The old homestead where I was born, looking 
towards the hills and adjoining the Clos-Crema, 
was called ^' the Judge's Farm." We worked the 
land with four yoke of oxen, and kept a head- 
carter, several ploughmen, a shepherd, a dairy- 
woman whom we called *' the Aunt,'* besides 
hired men and women engaged by the month 
according to the work of the season, whether for 
the silk-worms, the hay, the weeding, the harvest 
and vintage, the season of sowing, or that of 
olive gathering. 

My parents were yeomen, and belonged to those 
families who live on their own land and work it 
from one generation to another. The yeomen of 
the country of Aries form a class apart, a sort of 
peasant aristocracy, which, like every other, has 
its pride of caste. For whilst the peasant of the 
village cultivates with spade and hoe his little 
plot of ground, the yeoman farmer, agriculturist 
on a large scale of the Camargue and the Crau, 


also puts his hand to the plough as he sings his 
morning song. 

If we Mistrals wish, like so many others, to boast 
of our descent, without presumption we may claim 
as ancestors the Mistrals of Dauphiny, who 
became by alliance Seigneurs of Mont dragon 
and also of Romanin. The celebrated monument 
shown at Valence is the tomb of these Mistrals. 
And at Saint-Remy, the home of my family and 
birthplace of my father, the Hotel of the Mistrals 
of Romanin may still be seen, known by the name 
of the Palace of Queen Joan. 

The crest of the Mistrals is three clover leaves 
with the somewhat audacious device, ^^ All or 
Nothing.'' For those who, like ourselves, read a 
horoscope in the fatality of patronymics and the 
mystery of chance encounters, it is a curious coinci- 
dence to find in the olden days the Love Court of 
Romanin united to the Manor of the Mistrals, and 
the name of Mistral designating the great wind of 
the land of Provence, and lastly, these three trefoils 
significantly pointing to the destiny of our family. 
The trefoil, so I was informed by the Sar Peladan, 
when it has four leaves becomes a talisman, but 
with three expresses symbolically the idea of the 
indigenous plant, development and growth by 
slow degrees in the same spot. The number three 


signifies also the household, father, mother, and 
son in the mystic sense. Three trefoils, there- 
fore, stand for three successive harmonious genera- 
tions, or nine, which number in heraldry represents 
wisdom. The device ^' All or Nothing '' is well 
suited to those sedentary flowers which will not 
bear transplanting and are emblematic of the 
enured landholder. 

But to leave these trifles. My father, who lost 
his first wife, married again at the age of fifty- 
five, and I was the offspring of this second marriage. 
It was in the following manner my parents met 
each other : 

One summer's day on the Feast of St. John, 
Master Frangois Mistral stood in the midst of his 
cornfields watching the harvesters as they mowed 
down the crop with their sickles. A troop of 
women followed the labourers, gleaning the ears 
of corn which escaped the rake. Among them my 
father noticed one, a handsome girl, who lingered 
shyly behind as though afraid to glean like the 
rest. Going up to her he inquired : '^ Who are 
you, pretty one ? What is your name ? *' 

'' 1 am the daughter of Etienne Poulinet," the 
young girl replied, '' the Mayor of Maillane. My 
name is Delaide." 


'' Does the daughter of Master PouHnet, Mayor 
of Maillane, come, then, to glean?'' asked my 
father in surprise. 

" Sir, we are a large family,'' she answered, 
" six daughters and two sons ; and our father, 
though he is fairly well off, when we ask him for 
pocket-money to buy pretty clothes, tells us we 
must go and earn it. That is why I have come 
here to glean." 

Six months after this meeting, which recalls 
the old biblical scene between Ruth and Boaz, 
the brave yeoman asked the Mayor of Maillane 
for his daughter's hand in marriage ; and I was 
born of their union. 

My entry into the world took place on September 
8th, 1830. My father, according to his wont, was 
that afternoon in his fields when they sent from 
the house to announce my arrival. The mes- 
senger, so soon as he came within hearing, called 
to him : '^ Master, come — the mistress is just 

'' How many ? " asked my father. 

'' One, my faith — a fine son." 

'' A son, may God make him good and 

And without another word, as though nothing 
had happened out of the ordinary, the good man 


went on with his work, and not until it was finished 
did he return slowly to the house. This did not 
indicate that he lacked heart, but, brought up in 
the Roman traditions of the old Provengeaux, 
his manners possessed the external ruggedness 
of his ancestors. 

I was baptized Frederic, in memory, it appears, 
of a poor little urchin who, at the time of the 
courtship between my parents, was employed in 
carrying to and fro their love missives, and died 
shortly after. My birthday having fallen on Our 
Lady's Day, in September, my mother had 
desired to give me the name of Nostradamus, 
both in gratitude to Our Lady and in memory of 
the famous astrologer of Saint-Remy, author of 
" Les Centuries.'* But this mystic and mythical 
name which the maternal instinct had so happily 
lit upon was unfortunately refused both by the 
mayor and the priest. 

Vaguely, as through a distant mist, it seems 
to me I can remember those early years when my 
mother, then in the full glory of her youth and 
beauty, nourished me with her milk and bore me 
in her arms, presenting with pride among our 
friends '' her king '* ; and ceremoniously the 
friends and relations receiving us with the cus- 
tomary congratulations, offering me a couple of 


eggs, a slice of bread, a pinch of salt, and a match, 
with these sacramental words : 

'^ Little one, be full as an egg, wholesome as 
bread, wise as salt, and straight as a match/' 

Perhaps some will think it childish to relate 
these things. But after all every one is free to 
tell their own tale, and I find great pleasure in 
returning, in thought, to my first swaddling 
clothes, my cradle of mulberry wood, and my 
wheel-cart, for there I revive the sweetest joys of 
my young mother. 

When I was six months old I was released from 
the bands which swathed me, Nanounet, my 
grandmother, having strongly counselled that I 
should be kept tightly bound for this period. 
" Children well swathed," said she, '' are neither 
bandy-legged nor knock-kneed." 

On St. Joseph's Day, according to the custom of 
Provence, I was '' given my feet." Triumphantly 
my mother bore me to the church of Maillane, 
and there on the saint's altar, while she held me 
by the skirts and my godmother sang to me 
*' Avene, avene, avene " (Come, come, come), I 
was made to take my first steps. 

Every Sunday we went to Maillane for the 
Mass. It was at least two miles distant. All 
the way my mother rocked me in her arms. Oh, 


how I loved to rest on that tender breast^ in that 
soft nest ! But a time came, I must have been 
five years old, when midway to the village my poor 
mother put me down, bidding me walk, for I was 
too heavy to be carried any more. 

After Mass I used to go with my mother to 
visit my grandparents in the fine vaulted kitchen 
of white stone, where usually congregated the nota- 
bilities of the place. Monsieur Deville, Monsieur 
Dumas, Monsieur Raboux, the younger Riviere, 
and discussed politics as they paced the stone- 
flagged floor to and fro between the fireplace and 
the dresser. 

Monsieur Dumas, who had been a judge and 
resigned in the year 1830, was specially fond of 
giving his advice to the young mothers present, 
such as these words of wisdom, for example, which 
he repeated regularly every Sunday : 

*' Neither knives, keys, or books should be given 
to children — for with a knife the child may cut 
himself, a key he may lose, and a book he may 

Monsieur Dumas did not come alone : with his 
opulent wife and their eleven or twelve children 
they filled the parlour, the fine ancestral parlour, 
all hung with Marseilles tapestry on which were 
represented little birds and baskets of flowers. 


There, to show off the fine education of his pro- 
geny, proudly he made them declaim, verse by 
verse, a little from one, a little from another, the 
story of Theramene. 

This accomplished, he would turn to my 
mother : 

*' And your young one, Delaide — do you not 
teach him to recite something ? " 

'* Yes,'' replied my mother simply ; ''he can 
say the Uttle rhyme of ' Jean du Pore/ '* 

*' Come, little one, recite 'Jean du Pore,' " cried 
every one to me. 

Then with a bow to the company I would 
timidly falter : 

Quau es mort ? — Jan dou Pore. 

Quau lou plouro ? — Lou rei Mouro. 

Quau lou ris ? — La perdris. 

Quau lou canto ? — La calandro. 

Quau ie viro a brand ? — Lou quieu de la sartan. 

Quau n'en porto d6u ? — Lou quieu dou peir6u.* 


Come tell me, who is dead ? — 
Tis John o' the Pig's Head. 
And who his dirge doth sing ? — 
Why, 'tis the Moorish King. 
And who laughs o'er him now ? 
The partridge doth, I trow; 


It was with these nursery rhymes, songs, and 
tales that our parents in those days taught us the 
good Provencal tongue. But at present, vanity 
having got the upper hand in most famihes, it 
is with the system of the worthy Monsieur 
Dumas that children are taught, and little nin- 
compoops are turned out who have no more 
attachment or root in their country than found- 
lings, for it's the fashion of to-day to abjure all 
that belongs to tradition. 

It is now time that I said a little of my maternal 
grandfather, the worthy goodman Etienne. He 
was, like my father, yeoman farmer, of an old 
family and a good stock, but with this difference, 
that whereas the Mistrals were workers, economists 
and amassers of wealth, who in all the country 
had not their like, the Poulinets were careless 
and happy-go-lucky, disliked hard work, let the 
water run and spent their harvests. My grand- 
sire Etienne was, in short, a veritable Roger 

Who makes a lay for him that's gone ? — 
The mangle with its creaking stone. 
Who was it that his knell began ? — 
The bottom of the frying-pan. 
Who wears for him a mourning veil ? — 
The kettle's sooty tail ! 

* A legendary character renowned as a spendthrift. 


In spite of having eight children, six of whom 
were girls, directly there was a fete anywhere, 
he was off with his boon companions for a three 
days* spree. His outing lasted as long as his 
crowns ; then, adaptive as a glove, his pockets 
empty, he returned to the house. Grandmother 
Nanon, a godly woman, would greet him with 
reproaches : 

" Art thou not ashamed, profligate, to devour 
the dowries of thy daughters ? '' 

'' He, goodie ! What need to worry ! Our 
little girls are pretty, they will marry without 
dowries. And I fear me, as thou sayest, my 
good Nanon, we shall have nothing for the last." 

Thus teasing and caj oiling the good woman, 
he made the usurers give him mortgages on her 
dowry, lending him money at the rate of fifty or 
a hundred per cent., and when his gambling 
friends came round to visit him at sundown the 
incorrigible scapegraces would make a carouse 
in the chimney corner, singing all in unison : 

'* We are three jolly fellows who haven't a 

There were times when my poor grandmother 
well-nigh despaired at seeing, one by one, the best 
portions of her inheritance disappear, but he would 
laugh at her fears : 


" Why, goosey, cry about a few acres of land, 
they are common as blackberries," or : 

" That land, why, my dear, its returns did not 
pay the taxes." 

And again : '* That waste there ? Why it 
was dry as heather from our neighbours' trees." 

He had always a retort equally prompt and 
Ught-hearted. Even of the usurers he would 
say : 

** My faith, but it is a happy thing there are such 
people. Without them, how should we spend- 
thrifts and gamblers find the needful cash at a 
time when money is merchandise ? " 

In those days Beaucaire with its famous fair 
was the great point of attraction on the Rhone. 
People of all nations, even Turks and negroes, 
journeyed there both by land and water. Every- 
thing made by the hand of man, whether to feed, 
to clothe, to house, to amuse or to ensnare, 
from the grindstones of the mill, bales of cloth or 
canvas, rings and ornaments made of coloured 
glass, all were to be found in profusion at 
Beaucaire, piled up in the great vaulted store- 
houses, the market-halls, the merchant vessels 
in the harbour or the booths in the meadows. It 
was a universal exhibition held yearly in the 
month of July of all the industries of the south. 


Needless to say, my grandsire took good care 
never to miss this occasion of going to Beau- 
caire for four or five days' dissipation. Under 
the pretext of purchasing articles for the house- 
hold — such as pepper, cloves, ginger — ^he went off 
to the fair, a handkerchief in every pocket and 
others new and uncut wound like a belt round his 
waist, for he consumed much snuff. There he 
strolled about from morn till eve among the 
jugglers, the mountebanks, the clowns, and, above 
all, the gypsies, watching these last with interest 
as they disputed and squabbled over the purchase 
of some skinny donkey. 

Punch and Judy possessed perennial joys for 
him. Open-mouthed he stood among the crowd, 
laughing like a boy at the old jokes, and ex- 
periencing an unholy joy as the blows were 
showered on the puppets representing law and 

This was always the chance for the watchful 
pickpocket to quietly abstract one by one his 
handkerchiefs, a thing foreseen by my grand- 
sire, who, on discovering the loss, invariably, 
without more ado, unwound his belt and used the 
new ones, with the result that on returning home 
he presented himself to his family with a nose 
dyed blue from the unwashed cotton. 


*' So I see/' cries my grandmother, '' they have 
stolen your handkerchiefs again/' 

** Who told you that ? " asks her good man 
in surprise. 

'' Your blue nose/' answers she. 

'' Well, that Punch and Judy show was worth 
it," maintains the incorrigible grandsire. 

When his daughters, of whom, as I have said, 
my mother was one, were of an age to marry, 
being neither awkward nor disagreeable, in spite 
of their lack of dowry, suitors appeared on the 
scene. But when the fathers of these youths 
inquired of my grandsire how much he was 
prepared to give to his daughter, Master Etienne 
fired up in wrath : 

'' How much do I give my daughter ? Idiot ! 
I give your lad a fine young filly, well trained and 
handled, and you ask me to add lands and money ! 
Who wants my daughters must take them as they 
are or leave them. God be thanked, in the bread- 
pan of Master Etienne there is always a loaf." 

It was a fact that each one of the six daughters 
of my grandfather were married for the sake of 
their fine eyes only, and made good marriages 

*' A pretty girl," says the proverb, " carries 
her dowry in her face." 



But I must not leave this budding time of my 
childhood without plucking one more of memory's 

Behind the Judge's Farm where I was born 
there was a moat, the waters of which supplied 
our old draw-well. The water, though not deep, 
was clear and rippling, and on a summer's day the 
place was to me one of irresistible attraction. 

The draw-well moat ! It was the book in 
which, while amusing myself, I learnt my first 
lessons in natural history. There were fish, 
both stickleback and young carp, which, as they 
passed down the stream in shoals, I endeavoured 
to catch with a small canvas bag that had once 
served for nails, suspended on a long reed. There 
were little dragon-flies, green, blue, and black, 
who, as they alighted on the reeds gently, oh so 
gently, I seized with my small fingers — that is 
when they did not escape me, lightly and silently, 
with a shimmer of their gauzy wings ; there also 
was to be found a kind of brown insect with a 
white belly which leaped in the water and moved 
his tiny paws like a cobbler at work. Little frogs 
too, with dark gold-spotted backs showing 
among the tufts of moss, and who, on seeing me, 
nimbly plunged in the stream ; and the triton, 
a sort of aquatic salamander, who wriggled round 


in a circle; and great horned beetles, those 
scavengers of the pools, called by us the *' eel- 

Add to all these a mass of aquatic plants, such 
as the cats-tail, that long cottony blossom of the 
typha-plant ; and the water-hly, its wide round 
leaves and white cup magnificently outspread on 
the water* s smooth surface ; the gladiole with its 
clusters of pink flowers and the pale narcissus 
mirrored in the stream; the duckweed with its 
minute leaves ; the ox-tongue, which flowers like 
a lustre ; and the forget-me-not, myosotis, named 
in Provence '' eyes of the Child Jesus." 

But of all this wonder-world, what held my 
fancy most was the water-iris, a large plant grow- 
ing at the water's edge in big clumps, with long 
sword-shaped leaves and beautiful yellow blooms 
raising high their heads like golden halberds. 
The golden lilies, which on an azure field form the 
arms of France and of Provence, were undoubtedly 
suggested by these same water-iris, for the lily 
and the iris are really of the same family, and 
the azure of the coat-of-arms faithfully represents 
the water by the edge of which the iris grows. 

It was a summer's day, about the harvest time. 
All the people of the farm-house were out at work, 
helping to bind up the sheaves. Some twenty 



men, bare-armed, marched by twos and fours, 
round the horses and mules who were treading 
hard. Some took off the ears of corn or tossed 
the straw with their long wooden forks, while 
others, bare-foot, danced gaily in the sunshine 
on the fallen grain. High in the air, upheld by 
the three supports of a rustic crane, the winnowing 
cradle was suspended.^ A group of women and 
girls with baskets threw the corn and husks into 
the net of the sieve, and the master, my father, 
vigorous and erect, swung the sieve towards the 
wind, turning the bad grains on to the top. When 
the wind abated or at intervals ceased, my father, 
with the motionless sieve in his hands, facing the 
wind and gazing out into the blue, would say in 
all seriousness, as though addressing a friendly 
god : '' Come, blow, blow, dear wind.*' 

And I have seen the '* mistral,'' on my word, 
in obedience to the wish of the patriarch, again 
and again draw breath, thus carrying off the 
refuse while the blessed fine wheat fell in a white 
shower on the conical heap visibly rising in the 
midst of the winnowers. 

At sunset, after the grain had been heaped up 
with shovels, and the men, all powdered with 
dust, had gone off to wash at the well and draw 
water for the beasts, my father with great strides 





would measure the heap of corn, tracing upon it a 
cross with the handle of the spade and uttering 
the words : '' God give thee increase/' 

I must have been scarcely four years old and 
still wearing petticoats, when one lovely after- 
noon during this threshing season, after rolling 
as children love to do in the new straw, I directed 
my steps towards the draw-well moat. 

For some days past the fair water-iris had 
commenced to open, and my hands tingled to 
pluck some of the lovely golden buds. 

Arrived at the stream, gently I slipped down 
to the edge of the water and thrust out my 
hand to grab the flower, but it was too far off ; 
I stretched, and behold me in an instant up to 
the neck in water. 

I cried out. My mother hurried to the rescue, 
hauled me out, bestowing a slap or two, and drove 
me like a dripping duck before her to the house. 

'* Let me catch you again,* little good-for- 
nothing, at that moat ! '' 

'' I wanted to pick the water-iris,'* I pleaded. 

*' Oh yes, go there again to pick iris ! Don't 
you know, then, little rascal, there is a snake 
hidden in the grass, a big snake who swallows 
whole, both birds and children." 

She undressed me, taking off my small shoes. 


socks, and shirt, and while my clothes dried put 
me on my Sunday sabots and suit, with the 
warning : 

'' Take care now to keep yourself clean." 

Behold me again out of doors ; on the new 
straw I executed a happy caper, then catching 
sight of a white butterfly hovering over the 
stubble, off I went, my blonde curls flying in the 
wind and — all at once there I was again at the 
moat ! 

Oh, my beautiful yellow flowers ! They were 
still there, proudly rising out of the water, showing 
themselves off in a manner it was impossible to 
withstand. Very cautiously I descend the bank 
planting my feet squarely ; I thrust out my hand, 
I lean forward, stretching as far as I can . . . 
and splash ... I am in the water again. 

Woe is me ! While about me the bubbles 
gurgled and among the rushes I thought I spied 
the great snake, a loud voice cried out : 

*' Mistress, run quick, that child is in the water 

My mother came running. She seized me and 
dragged me all black from the muddy bank, and 
the first thing I received was a resounding smack. 

'' You will go back to those flowers ? You 
will try to drown yourself ? A new suit ruined, 


little rascal — little monster ! nearly killing me 
with fright ! '' 

Bedraggled and crying, I returned to the farm- 
house, head hanging. Again I was undressed, 
and this' time arrayed in my festal suit. Oh, 
that fine suit ! I can still see it with the bands 
of black velvet, and gold dots on a blue ground. 

Surveying myself in my bravery, I asked my 
mother : '' But what am I to do now ? " 

'* Go take care of the chickens," she said; 
*' don't let them stray — and you stay in the 

Full of zeal I ran off to the chickens, who were 
pecking about for ears of corn in the stubble. 
While at my post, curiously enough I perceive 
all at once a crested pullet giving chase to — what 
do you think ? Why, a grasshopper, the kind 
with red and blue wings. Both, with me after 
them, for I wished to examine those wings, were 
soon dancing over the fields and, as luck would 
have it, we found ourselves before long at the 
draw-well moat. 

And there were those golden flowers again 
mirrored in the water and exciting my desire; 
but a desire so passionate, delirious, excessive, as 
to make me entirely forget my two previous 


*' This time/' I said to myself, '' I will certainly 

So descending the bank I twisted around my 
hand a reed that grew there, and leaning over 
the water very prudently, tried once again to 
reach the iris blooms with the other hand. But 
misery ! the reed broke and played me false — 
into the middle of the stream I plunged head 

I righted myself as best I could and shrieked 
like a lost one. Every one came running. 

" There's the little imp, in the water again ! 
This time, you incorrigible youngster, your mother 
will give you the whipping you deserve." 

But she did not. Down the pathway I saw her 
coming, the poor mother, and tears were in her 

" O Lord," she cried, '' but I won't whip him; 
he might have a fit — this boy is not like others. 
By all the saints he does nothing but run after 
flowers ; he loses all his toys scrambling in the 
cornfields after nosegays. Now, as a climax, he 
has thrown himself three times within an hour 
into this moat ! I can only clean him up, and 
thank heaven he is not drowned." 

We mingled our tears together as we went home, 
then once indoors, saint that she was, my mother 


again unclothed and dried me, and to ward off 
all evil consequences administered a dose of 
vermifuge before putting me to bed, where worn 
out with emotion I soon fell asleep. 

Can any one guess of what I dreamt ? Why, 
of my iris flowers ! . . . In a lovely stream of 
water which wound all round the farm-house, a 
limpid, transparent, azure stream like the waters 
of the fountain at Vaucluse, I beheld the most 
beautiful clumps of iris covered with a perfect 
wonder of golden blossoms ! Little dragon-flies 
with blue silk wings came and settled on the flowers, 
while I swam about naked in the laughing rivulet 
and plucked by handfuls and armfuls those 
enchanting yellow blooms. And the more I 
picked the more sprang up. 

All at once I heard a voice calling to me, 

Frederic ! '* I awoke, and to my joy I saw — 
a great bunch of golden iris all shining by my 

The Master himself, my worshipful sire, had 
actually gone to pick those flowers I so longed for ; 
and the Mistress, my dear sweet mother, had 
placed them on my bed. 


My early years were passed at the farm in the 
company of labourers, reapers and shepherds. 

When occasionally a townsman visited our farm, 
one of those who affected to speak only French, 
it puzzled me sorely and even disconcerted me 
to see my parents all at once take on a respectful 
manner to the stranger, as though they felt him 
to be their superior. I was perplexed, too, at 
hearing another tongue. 

'' Why is it/' I asked, '' that man does not 
Speak like we do ? '* 

*' Because he is a gentleman," I was told. 

'* Then I will never be a gentleman," I replied 

I remarked also that when we received visitors, 
such, for instance, as the Marquis de Barbentane, 
our neighbour, my father, who when speaking of 
my mother before the servants called her '' the 
mistress," to the Marquis merely referred to her 
as *' my wife." The grand Marquis and his lady, 
the Marquise, a sister of the great General de 


Gallifet, whenever they came used to bring me 
cakes and sweets, but in spite of this, no sooner 
did I see them driving up in their carriage than, 
Hke the young savage that I was, off I ran and hid 
in the hay-loft. In vain my poor mother would 
call '* Frederic." Crouching in the hay and 
holding my breath, I waited until I heard the 
departing carriage wheels of our guests, and my 
mother declaiming for the benefit of all : ** It is 
insufferable ; here are Monsieur de Barbentane and 
Madame de Barbentane, who come on purpose to see 
that child, and he goes off and hides himself ! '' 

And when I crept out of my hiding-place, 
instead of the sweets, I received a good spanking. 

What I really loved, however, was to go off 
with Papoty, our head-man, when he set out with 
the plough behind the two mules. 

*' Come on, youngster, and I'll teach you to 
plough," he would call enticingly. 

Then and there off I would go, bareheaded and 
barefooted, briskly following in the furrow, and 
as I ran, picking the flowers, primroses and blue 
musk, turned up by the blade. 

How joyous it was, this atmosphere of rustic 
life. Each season in turn brought its round of 
labour. Ploughing, sowing, shearing, reaping, the 
silk-worms, the harvests, the threshing, the vintage 


and the olive gathering, unrolled before my eyes 
the majestic acts of the agricultural life, always a 
stern, hard life, yet always one of calm and freedom. 

A numerous company of labourers came and 
went at the farm, weeders, haymakers, men hired 
by the day or the month, who with the goad, the 
rake, or the fork a-shoulder toiled with the free 
noble gestures of the peasants so well depicted 
in Leopold Robert's pictures. 

At the dinner or supper hour, the men, one after 
the other, trooped into the farm-house, seating 
themselves according to their station around the 
big table. Then the master, my father, at the head, 
would question them gravely on the work of the day, 
the state of the flocks, of the ground or the weather. 
The repast ended, the chief carter shut to the blade 
of his big clasp-knife, the signal for all to rise. 

In stature, in mind, as well as in character, my 
father towered above these country folk, a grand 
old patriarch, dignified in speech, just in his rule, 
beneficent to the poor, severe only to himself. 

He loved to recall the early days when as a 
volunteer he served in the army during the revolu- 
tion, and to recount tales of the war as we sat 
round the hearth in the evening. 

Once during the Reign of Terror he had been 
requisitioned to carry corn to Paris, where famine 
was then raging. It was just after they had killed 


the king, and France was paralysed with con- 
sternation and horror. One winter's day, returning 
across Bourgogne, with a cold sleet beating in his 
face and his. cart-wheels half buried in the muddy 
road, he met a carrier of his own village. The 
two compatriots shook hands, and my father 
inquired whither the other was bound in this 
villainous weather : 

" I am for Paris, citizen,'* replied the man, 
*' taking there our church bells and altar saints.'' 

'' Accursed fellow," cried my father, trembling 
with wrath and indignation, and taking off his 
hat as he looked at the church relics. '* I suppose 
you think on your return they will make you a 
Deputy for this devil's work ? " 

The iconoclast skulked off with an oath and 
went on his way. 

My father, I should observe, was profoundly 
religious. In the evening, summer and winter, 
it was his custom to gather round him the house- 
hold, and kneeling on his chair, head uncovered 
and hands crossed, his white hair in a queue tied 
with a black ribbon, he would pray and read the 
gospels aloud to us. 

My father read but three books in his life: 
the New Testament, the *' Imitation," and *' Don 
Quixote" ; the latter he loved because it recalled 
his campaign in Spain, and helped to pass the time 


when a rainy season forced him indoors. In his 
youth schools were rare^ and it was from a pooi 
pedlar, who made his rounds of the farms once a 
week, that my father learnt his alphabet. 

On Sunday after vespers, according to the old- 
time usage as head of the house, he did the weekl}; 
accounts, debit and credit with annotations, in a 
great volume called '' Cartabeou." 

Whatever the weather, he was always content 
When he heard grumbling, either at tempestuous 
winds or torrential rains, '' Good people,'* he would 
say, '* the One above knows very well what He 
is about and also what we need. . . . Supposing 
these great winds which revivify our Provence 
and clear off the fogs and vapours of our marshes 
never blew ? And if, equally, we were never 
visited by the heavy rains which supply the wells 
and springs and rivers ? We need all sorts, m}/ 

Though he would not scorn to pick up a faggol 
on the road and carry it to the hearth, and though 
he was content with vegetables and brown bread 
for his daily fare, and was so abstemious always 
as to mix water with his wine, yet at his table 
the stranger never failed to find a welcome, and 
his hand and purse were ever open to the poor. 

Faithful to the old customs, the great festival 


of the year on our farm was Christmas Eve. 
That day the labourers knocked off work early, 
and my mother presented to each one, wrapped 
up in a cloth, a fine oil-cake, a stick of nougat, a 
bunch of dried figs, a cream cheese, a salad of 
celery, and a bottle of wine. 

Then every man returned to his own village 
and home to burn the Yule log. Only some poor 
fellow who had no home would remain at the farm, 
and occasionally a poor relation, an old bachelor 
for example, would arrive at night saying : 

*' A merry Christmas, cousin. I have come to 
help you burn the Yule log.'' 

Then, a merry company, we all sallied forth to 
fetch the log, which according to tradition must 
be cut from a fruit-tree. Walking in line we bore 
it home, headed by the oldest at one end, and I, 
the last born, bringing up the rear. Three times 
we made the tour of the kitchen, then, arrived at 
the flagstones of the hearth, my father solemnly 
poured over the log a glass , of wine, with the 
dedicatory words : 

'' Joy, joy. May God shower joy upon us, my 
dear children. Christmas brings us all good 
things. God give us grace to see the New Year, 
and if we do not increase in numbers may we at 
all events not decrease." 


In chorus, we responded : 

*' Joy, joy, joy ! *' and lifted the log on the 
fire-dogs. Then as the first flame leapt up my 
father would cross himself, saying, *' Burn the log, 
fire,'* and with that we all sat down to the table. 

Oh, that happy table, blessed in the truest 
sense, peace and joy in every heart of the united 
family assembled round it. In the place of the 
ordinary lamp suspended from the ceiling, on this 
occasion we lit the three traditional candles, 
regarded by the company not without anxiety, 
lest the wick should turn towards any one — always 
a bad augury. At each end of the table sprouted 
some corn in a plate of water, set to germinate 
on St. Barbara's Day, and on the triple linen 
tablecloths* were placed the customary dishes, 
snails in their shells, fried slices of cod and grey 
mullet garnished with olives, cardoon, scholium, 
peppered celery, besides a variety of sweetmeats 
reserved for this feast, such as hearth-cake 
dried raisins, almond nougat, tomatoes, and the 
most important of all, the big Christmas loaf, 
which is never partaken of until one-quarter has 
been bestowed on the first passing beggar. 

During the long evening which followed before 

* The three tablecloths are graduated in size, commencing 
ivith the largest, and are de rigueur for festal occasions. 



starting out for the midnight Mass, gathered round 
the log fire we told tales of past days and recalled 
the grand old folks who were gone, and little by 
little my worthy father never failed to come back 
to his favourite Spanish wars and the famous 
siege of Figuieres. 

On New Year's Day, again, our home was the 
centre of hospitality, and we were greeted at 
early dawn by a crowd of our poorer neighbours, 
old people, women and children, who came round 
the farm-house singing their good wishes for the 
coming year. My father and mother, with kindly 
response, presented to each one a gift of two long 
loaves and two round ones. To all the poor of 
the village we also gave, in accordance with the 
tradition of our house, two batches of bread. 

Every evening my father included this formula 
in his evening prayer : 

Did I live a hundred years 

A hundred years I would bake, 

And a hundred years give to the poor. 

At his funeral the poor who mourned him said 
with fervour : '' May he have as many angels to bear 
him to Paradise as he gave us loaves of bread." 

This is a picture of the simple and noble patri- 
archal life of Provence in my youth. 



The eve of the Feast of Epiphany it was the 
custom for all the children of our countryside to 
go forth to meet the three kings, the wise men 
from the East, who with their camels and attend- 
ants" and all their suite came in procession to 
Maillane there to adore the Holy Child. 

One such occasion I well remember. 

With hearts beating in joyful excitement, eyes 
full of visions, we sallied forth on the road to Aries 
a numerous company of shock-headed urchins 
and blonde-headed maidens with little hoods 
and sabots, bearing our offerings of cakes for the 
kings, dried figs for their pages, and hay for the 

The east wind blew, which means it was cold. 
The sun sank, lurid, into the Rhone. The streams 
were frozen, and the grass at the water's edge 
dried up. The bark of the leafless trees showed 
ruddy tints, and the robin and wren hopped 
shivering from branch to branch. Not a soul was 
to be seen in the fields, save perhaps some poor 


widow picking up sticks or a ragged beggar 
seeking snails beneath the dead hedges. 

" Where go you so late, children ? *' inquired 
some passer-by. 

" We go to meet the kings/' we answered 

And like young cocks, our heads in the air, 
along the white, wind-swept road we continued 
our way, singing and laughing, sliding and 

The daylight waned. The bell-tower of Maillane 
disappeared behind the trees, the tall dark pointed 
cypresses and the wide barren plain stretched 
away into the dim distance. We strained our eyes 
as far as they could see, but in vain. Nothing 
was in sight save some branch broken by the wind 
laying on the stubbly field. Oh, the sadness of 
those mid-winter evenings when all nature seemed 
dumb and suffering. 

Then we met a shepherd, his cloak wrapped 
tightly round him, returning from tending his 
sheep. He asked whither we were bound so late 
in the day. We inquired anxiously had he seen 
the kings, and were they still a long way off. 
Oh, the jo]^when he replied that he had passed 
the kings not so very long since — soon we should 
see theni. Off we set running with all speed. 


running to meet the kings and present our cakes 
and handfuls of hay. 

Then, just as the sun disappeared behind a great 
dark cloud and the bravest among us began to 
flag — suddenly, behold them in sight. 

A joyful shout rang from every throat as the 
magnificence of the royal pageant dazzled our 

A flash of splendour and gorgeous colour shone 
in the rays of the setting sun, while the blazing 
torches showed the gleams of gold on crowns set 
with rubies and precious stones. 

The kings ! The kings ! See their crowns ! 
See their mantles — their flags, and the procession 
of camels and horses which are coming. 

We stood there entranced. But instead of 
approaching us little by little the glory and 
splendour of the vision seemed to melt away 
before our eyes with the sinking sun, extinguished 
in the shadows. Crestfallen we stood there, 
gaping to find ourselves alone on the darkening 

Which way did the kings go ? 

They passed behind the mountain. 

The white owl hooted. Fear seized us, and 
huddling together we turned homewards, munching 
the cakes and figs we had brought for the kings. 


Our mothers greeted us with, *' Well, did you 
see them ? " 

Sadly we answered, " Only afar — they passed 
behind the mountain." 

*' But which road did you take ? " 

'' The road to Aries." 

"Oh, poor lambs — but the kings never come 
by that road. They come from the East — ^you 
should have taken the Roman road. Ah dear, 
what a pity, you should have seen them enter 
Maillane. It was a beautiful ^ight, with their 
tambours and trumpets, the pages and the camels 
— it was a show ! Now they are gone to the 
church to offer their adoration. After supper you 
shall go and see them ! " 

We supped with speed, I at my grandmother's, 
and then we ran to the church. It was crowded, 
and, as we entered, the voices of all the people, 
accompanied by the organ, burst forth into the 
superbly majestic Christmas hymn : 

This morn I met the train 

Of the three great kings from the East ; 

This morn I met the train 

Of the kings on the wide high road. 

We children, fascinated, threaded our way 
between the women, till we reached the Chapel 
of the Nativity. There, suspended above the 


altar, was the beautiful star, and bowing the knee 
in adoration before the Holy Child we beheld at) 
last the three kings. Gaspard, with his crimson 
mantle, offering a casket of gold ; Melchior, arrayed 
in yellow, bearing in his hands a gift of incense ; 
and Balthazar, with his cloak of blue, presenting 
a vase of the sadly prophetic myrrh. How we 
admired the finely dressed pages who upheld 
the kings' flowing mantles, and the great humped 
camels whose heads rose high above the sacred 
ass and ox ; also the Holy Virgin and Saint Joseph, 
besides all the wonderful background, a little 
mountain in painted paper with shepherds and 
shepherdesses bringing hearth-cakes, baskets of 
eggs, swaddling clothes, the miller with a sack of 
corn, the old woman spinning, the knife-grinder; 
at his wheel, the astonished innkeeper at hi^ 
window, in short, all the traditional crowd wh< 
figure in the Nativity, and, above and beyond all 
the Moorish king. 

Many a time since those early days it haj 
chanced that I have found myself upon the roaj 
to Aries at this same Epiphany season aboi 
dusk. Still the robin and the wren haunt the lonj 
hawthorn hedge. Still some poor old beggar 
may be seen searching for snails in the ditch, 
and still the hoot of the owl breaks the stillness 
of the winter evening. But in the rays of the 


setting sun I see no more the glory and crowns 
of the old kings. 

Which way have they passed, the kings ? 

Behind the mountain. 

Alas this melancholy and sadness clings always 
around the things seen with the eyes of our youth. 
However grand, however beautiful the landscape 
we have known in early days, when we return, 
eager to see it once more, something is ever 
lacking, something or some one ! 

" Oh, let me, dreaming, lose myself down yonder 
Where widespread cornfields, red with poppies, lie, 
As when a little lad, I used to wander 
And lose myself, beneath the self-same sky. 

Some one, searching every cover. 
Seeks for me, the whole field over. 
Saying her angelus piously ; 
But where yon the skylarks, singing. 
Through the sun their way are winging, 
I follow so fast and eagerly. 
O poor mother ! loving-hearted, 
Dear, great soul ! thou hast departed ; 
No more shall I hear thee, calling me." * 

(From " Les Isclo d'Or." Trans. Ahna Strettell). 

Who can give me back the ideal joy and delight 
of my child-heart as I sat at my mother's knee 
drinking in the wonder -tales and fables, the old 
songs and rhymes, as she sang and spoke them in 
the soft sweet language of Provence. 
* For Provengal text, see p. 324. 


There was the "Pater des Calandes/' Marie- 
Madeleine the poor fisher-girl, The Cabin-boy of 
Marseilles, the Swineherd, the Miser, and how 
many other tales and legends of Provence to which 
the cradle of my early years was rocked, filling 
my dreams with poetic visions. Thus from my 
mother I drew not only nourishment for my 
body but for my mind and soul, the sweet honey 
of noble tradition and faith in God. 

In the present day, the narrow materialistic i 
system refuses to reckon with the wings of child- 
hood, the divine instincts of the budding imagina-j 
tion and its necessity to wonder, that faculty! 
which formerly gave us our saints and heroes, 
poets and artists. The child of to-day no sooner; 
opens his eyes than his elders try to wither up 
both heart and soul. Poor lunatics ! Life and] 
the day-school, above all the school of experiencCj 
will teach him but too soon the mean realities ofl 
life, and the disillusions, analectic and scientifiCj 
of all that so enchanted our youth. 

If some tiresome anatomist told the youngi 
lover that the fair maiden of his heart, in the] 
bloom of her youth and beauty, was but a grim] 
skeleton when robbed of her outer covering,' 
would he not be justified in shooting him out ofj 
hand ? 


In connection with those traditions and wonder- 
tales of Provence, familiar to my childhood, I 
cannot do better than quote old Dame Renaude, 
a gossip of our village when I was a boy. 

Still I can picture her seated on a log and 
sunning herself at her door. She is withered, 
shrivelled and lined, the poor old soul, like a dried 
fig. Brushing away the teasing flies, she drinks 
in the sunshine, dozes and sleeps the hours away. 

"Taking a little nap in the sun, Tante 
Renaude ? *' 

''Well, see you, I was neither exactly waking 
nor sleeping — I said my paternosters and I dreamt 
a bit — and praying, you know, one is apt to doze. 
Aye, but it is a bad thing when one is past work — 
the time hangs heavy on hand.'' 

'* Won't you catch cold sitting out of doors ? *' 

'* Me, catch cold ? Why I am dry as match- 
wood. If I was boiled I shouldn't furnish a 
drop of oil." 

'* If I were you I would stroll round quietly 
and have a chat with some old crony — it would 
help pass the time." 

*' The old gossips of my time are nearly all 
gone, soon there won't be one left. True, there 
is still the old Genevieve, deaf as a plough, and old 
Patantane in her dotage, and Catherine de Four 



who does nothing but groan — IVe enough of m] 
own ailments. Oh no, it is better to be alone." 

'^ Why not go and have a chat with the washer- 
women down there at the wash-house ? '* 

'^ What, those hussies ? who backbite and pul 
each other to pieces, first one and then th( 
other, the livelong day. They abuse every on( 
and then laugh like idiots. The good God will 
send a judgment on them one of these days.] 
Aye, but it was not so in our time.'* 

" What did you talk about in your time ? "' 

'' In our time ? Why, we told old histories an( 
tales which it was a pleasure to listen to, such as 
'The Beast with Seven Heads,* 'Fearless John,'^ 
and ^ The Great Body without a Soul.' Why one] 
of those tales would last us three or four evenings. 
At that time we spun our own wool and hemp. 
Winter time after supper we used to take ourj 
distaffs and meet together in some big sheep-barn,] 
and while the men fed and folded the beasts an< 
outside the north wind blew and the dogs howle( 
at the prowling wolves, we women huddled together! 
with the young lambs and their mothers, and as^ 
our spinning-wheels hummed busily, told each 
other tales. 

" We believed in those days in things which they 
laugh at now, but which all the same were seen 


by people I myself know, people whose word was 
to be trusted. There was my Aunt Mian, wife of 
the basket-maker whose grandsons live at theClos 
de Pain-Perdu ; one day when she was picking up 
sticks, she saw all at once a fine white hen. It 
seemed quite tame, but when my Aunt put out her 
hand gently the hen eluded her, and commenced 
pecking in the grass a little way off. Very cau- 
tiously again Aunt Mian approached the hen, who 
seemed to desire to be caught. But directly my 
aunt thought she had got her, off she was — the 
aunt following, more and more determined to 
catch her. More than an hour she led her a dance, 
then as the sun went down Mian took fright 
and turned home. Lucky for her she did, for had 
she gone after that white hen all night, the Holy 
Virgin only knows where the creature would have 
landed the poor woman ! 

" Folks told, too, of a black horse or mule, some 
said it was a huge sow, which appeared to the 
young rakes as they came out of the public-house. 
One night at Avignon a lot of good-for-nothings 
on the spree saw a black horse suddenly come out 
of the Camband Sewer. 

** * Oh, look 1 ' says one of them, ' here's a fine 
horse, blest if I don't mount him,' and the horse 
let him get on quietly enough. 




** ' Why there's room for me, too/ says another^ 
and up he got. 

"'And me, too/ says a third. He jumped u 
also, and as one by one they mounted, that horse's 
back became longer and longer, till, if you'll 
believe it, there were a dozen of those young fools 
on this same horse f Then a thirteenth cries out : 

*' ' Lord — Holy Virgin and sainted Joseph, I 
believe there's room for another ' ! But at these 
words the beast vanished, and our twelve riders 
found themselves on their feet looking sheepish 
enough, I can tell you. Lucky for them that the 
last one had pronounced the names of the saints, 
for otherwise that evil beast would have carried 
them straight to the devil. 

"And then, O Lord, there were the witch-cats! 
Why yes, those black cats they called the * Mascots 
for tney were said to make money come to t 
house where they lived. You knew the old T 
lavelle, eh ? — she who left such a pile of crow 
when she died — well, she had a black cat, and she 
took care to give it the first helping at every 
meal. And there was my poor uncle, going to 
bed one night by the light of the moon, what does 
he see but a black cat crossing the road. He, 
thinking no harm, threw a stone at the cat — when, 
lo and behold, the beast turned round, gave him an 


evil look, and hissed out, ' Thou hast hit Robert ! ' 
Strange things ! To-day they seem like dreams, 
nobody ever mentions them— yet there must have 
been something in it all, or why should every one 
have been so afraid. Eh, and there were many 
others," continued Renaude, '' awful strange crea- 
tures like the Night-witch, who seated herself on 
your chest and squeezed the breath out of you. 
And the Wier-wolf, and the Jack o' Lantern, and 
the Fantastic Sprite. Why, just fancy, one day — I 
might have been eleven years old — I was returning 
from the catechism class when, passing near a 
poplar, I heard a laugh coming from the very top 
of the tree. I looked up, and there was the 
Fantastic Sprite grinning between the leaves and 
making me signs to climb up. Why, I wouldn't 
have gone up that tree for a hundred onions — I 
took to my heels and ran as if I'd gone crazy. 
Oh, I can tell you, when we talked of these things 
round the hearth at nights not one of us would 
have gone outside. Poor children, what a fright 
we were in. But we soon grew up, and then came 
the time for lovers, and the lads would call to us 
to come out and walk or dance by the moonhght. 
At first we refused for fear we might meet the 
White Hen or the Fantastic Sprite, but when 
they called us ' sillies ' to believe such bhnd 



grandmother's tales, and said they'd scare away 
the hobgobHns — boys of that age have got no sense, 
and make you laugh with their nonsense even 
against your will — why, gradually we ceased to 
think so much of it. For one thing we soon had 
too much to do. Why, I had eleven children, 
who all turned out well, thank God, besides others 
I looked after. When one is not rich and has all 
thooC brats to do for, one's hands are pretty full, 
I can tell you." 

" Well, Xante Renaude, may the good God 
protect you." 

" Oh, now I am well ripened — let Him pluck 
me as soon as He will." And with her big hand- 
kerchief the old body flicks at the flies, and 
nodding her head, quietly leans back and co 
tinues to drink in the sunshine. 



At eight years old I was sent to school with a 
little blue satchel to carry my books and my lunch. 
Not before, thank God, for in all that touched my 
inner development and the education and tempera- 
ment of my young poet's soul, I certainly learnt 
far more through the games and frolics of my 
country childhood than by the tiresome repetition 
of the school routine. 

In our time, the dream of all youngsters who 
went to school was to play truant, once at least, in 
a thoroughly successful manner. To have accom- 
plished this was to be regarded by the others as 
on a par with brigands, pirates, and other heroes. 

In Provence it is the custom for such an exploit 
to be carried out by running away to a far and 
unknown country, being careful to confide the 
project to no one. The time chosen by the young 
Provengal for this adventure is when he has, by 
some fault, or the sad error of disobedience, good 
cause to fear that on his return home he will be 
welcomed rather too warmly ! 


When, therefore, this fate looms over som^ 
unlucky fellow, he just gives school and parent^ 
the slip, and defying consequences, off he goes oi 
his travels with a " Long live liberty ! '' 

Oh, the delight, the joy, at that age to fee] 
complete master of oneself, and the bridle hangin( 
loose, to roam where fancy beckons, away into th( 
blue distance, down into the swamp, or may b< 
up to the mountain heights ! 

But — after a while comes hunger. Playin| 
truant in the summer time, that evil is not sc 
serious. There are fields of broad beans, fail 
orchards with their crops of apples, pears, an( 
peaches, cherry-trees delighting the eye, fig-treej 
offering their ripe fruit, and bulging melons thai 
cry out '' Eat me.'* And then those lovely vines, 
the stock of the golden grape. Ah 1 — I fancy 
can see them yet ! 

Of course if the game was played in winter, thing* 
were not quite so smiling. Some young scampj 
would boldly visit farms' where they were unknowi 
and ask for food, and some again, more un- 
scrupulous rascals, would steal the eggs and evei 
take the stale nest-egg, drinking and gulping 
it down with relish. Others, however, were ofj 
prouder stuff; they had not run away from home] 
and school for any misdemeanour, but eitherJ 


from pure thirst of independence or because of 
some injustice which, having deeply wounded 
the heart, made the victim flee man and his habita- 
tion. These would pass the nights sleeping 
amidst the corn, in the fields of millet, sometimes 
under a bridge or in some shed or straw-stack. 
When hungry they gathered from the hedges 
and the fields mulberries, sloes, almonds left on 
the trees, or little bunches of grapes from the wild 
vine. They did not even object to the fruit of 
the wych-elm, which they called white bread, nor 
unearthed onion^, choke-pears, beech-nuts, nor at 
a pinch to acorns. For to all these truants each 
day was a glorious game, and every step a bound 
of delight. iWhat need of companions when all 
the beasts and insects were your playfellows ? 
You could understand what they were after, 
what they said, what they thought, and they 
appeared to understand you quite as well. 

You caught a grasshopper and examined her 
Uttle shining wings. Very gently you stroked her 
with your hand to make her sing, then sent her 
away with a straw in her mouth. Or, resting full 
length on a bank, you find a lady-bird climbing 
up your finger, and at once you sing to her : 

*' Lady-bird, fly, 
Be off to the school," &c. 


and as the lady-bird stretches her wings sh^ 
repHes : 

"Go home yourself — I am quite happy where I 

Then a praying-mantis kneels before you and 
you ask : 

Praying-mantis, art so wise. 

Know you where the sly fox lies ? " 


The mantis raises a long thin arm and points to 
the mountains. 

A lizard sits warming himself in the sun and 
you address him with the correct formula : 

" Little lizard, be my friend 
'Gainst all snakes that bite and bend. 
Then I'll give you grains of salt 
When before my house you halt." 

" Your house ! And when will you be back 
there ? '* the lizard says as plainly as you could 
yourself, and, with a whisk, disappears in 

Should you meet a snail, you greet him in t 

fashion : 

" Oh, snail with one eye, 
Your horns let me spy. 
Or the blacksmith I'll call 
To smash house and all." 

It was home, always home, to which every one 
harked back ; till at last, after having destroyed 


sufficient nests — and made sufficient holes in 
nether garments— being weary of pipes made from 
barley-straws and of whistles made of willow 
twigs, besides having set one's teeth on edge with 
green apples and other sour fruit, suddenly the 
truant is seized with home-sickness, a great longing 
at the heart turns the feet homewards and lowers 
the once proud head. 

Being of true Provengal stock, I also must 
needs make my escapade before I had been three 
months at school. It happened thus. 

Three or four young rascals, who, under pretext 
of cutting grass or collecting wood, idled away the 
livelong day, came to meet me one morning as 
I set out for school at Maillane. 

" You little simpleton, what do you want to 
go to school f or ? " said they. '' Boxed in all 
day between four walls, punished for this or that, 
your fingers rapped with a ruler ! Bah ! come and 
play with us ! " 

Ah me ! how crystal clear the water ran in the 
brook ; how the larks sang up there in the blue ; 
the cornflowers, the iris, the poppies, the rose- 
campions, how fair they bloomed in the sunshine 
which played on the green meadows. So I said 
to myself : 

*' School ! Well, that can wait till to-morrow." 



And then, with trousers turned up, off we went 
to the water. We paddled, we splashed, we fished 
for tadpoles, we made mud pies, and then smeared 
our bare little legs with black slime to make 
ourselves boots ! Afterwards, in the dust of some 
hollow by the wayside, we played at soldiers : 

Rataplan, Rataplan, 
I'm a military man, &c. 

What fun it was ! no king's children were our 
equals. And then with the bread and provisions 
in my satchel, we had a fine picnic on the grass. 

But all such joys must end. The schoolmaster 
informed against me, and behold me arraigned 
before my sire's judgment-seat : 

*' Now hear me, Frederic, the next time you miss 
school to go off paddling in the brook, I will break 
a stick over your back — do not forget." 

In spite of this, three days after, through sheer 
thoughtlessness, I again cut school and went off 
to the brook. 

Did he spy on me, or was it mere chance that 
brought him that way ? Just as I and my boon 
companions were splashing about with naked 
legs, at a few paces from us suddenly I behold 
my sire. My heart gave one bound. 

He stood still and called to me : 


*' So that is it ! . . . You know what I promised 
you ? Very well, I shall be ready for you this 

Nothing more, and he went on his way. 

My good father, good as the Blessed Bread, had 
never given me even a slap, but he had a loud 
voice and a rough way of speaking, and I feared 
him as I did fire. 

" Ha ! " I said to myself, " this time, but 
this time, he will kill you. Assuredly he has gone 
to prepare the rod." 

My companions, little scamps, snapped their 
fingers with glee, and cried : 

'' Aha ! aha ! what a drubbing you'll get ! 
Aha ! aha ! on your bare back too ! " 

" All is up," I said to myself. *' I must be off — 
I must run away." 

So I went. As well as I remember I took a 
road that led right up to the Crau d'Eyragues. 
But at that time, poor little wretch, I hardly 
knew where I was going, and after walking for 
an hour or so, it seemed to me that I had gone far 
enough to have arrived in America. 

The sun began to go down. I was tired, and 
frightened too. '' It is getting late," I thought, 
** and where shall I find my supper ? I must go 
and beg at some farm." 

•'.or ^y. 


So, turning out of the road, I discreetly ap- 
proached a httle white farm-house. It had almost 
a welcoming air, with its pig -sties, manure-heap, 
well, and vine arbour, all protected from the east 
wind by a cypress hedge. 

Very timidly I approached the doorstep, and, 
looking in, saw an old body stirring some soup. 
She was dirty and dishevelled; to eat what she 
cooked one required indeed the sauce of hunger. 
Unhooking the pot from the chain on which it 
swung, the old woman placed it on the kitchen 
floor, and with a long spoon she poured the soup 
over some slices of bread. 

** I see, granny, you are making some soup,'* 
I remarked pleasantly. 

" Yes,'* she answered curtly ; ** and where do 
you come from, young one ? '* 

" I come from Maillane. I have run away, 
and — I should be much obliged if you would 
give me something to eat." 

" Oh, indeed,'' rephed the ugly old dame 
growling tones. " Then just sit you down 
the doorstep and not on my chairs ! " 

I obeyed by winding myself up into a ball on 
the lowest step. 

" If you please, what is this place called ? " I 
asked meekly. 



'* Papeligosse." 

'* Papeligosse ? " I repeated in dismay. 

For in Provence when they wish, in joke, to 
convey to children the idea of a far distant land, 
they call it Papehgosse. At that age I believed 
in Papeligosse, in Zibe-Zoube, in Gafe-FAse, and 
other visionary regions as firmly as in my Pater- 
noster. So when the old woman uttered that 
magic word, a cold shiver went down my back, 
realising myself so far from home. 
I "Ah yes," she continued as she finished her 
cooking, *' and you must know that in this country 
the lazy ones get nothing to eat — so if you want 
any soup, my boy, you must work for it.*' 

"Oh, I will— what shall I do?'' I inquired 

" This is what we will do, you and I, both of us. 

,,We will stand at the foot of the stairs and have a 

'jumping match. The one who jumps farthest 

shall have a good bowl of soup — the other shall 

eat with his eyes only — understand, eh ? " 

I agreed readily, not only proud that I should 
earn my supper and amuse myself into the bargain, 
but also feeling no doubts as to the result of the 
match; it was a pity indeed if I could not jump 
farther than a rickety old body. 

So, feet together, we placed ourselves at the 


foot of the staircase, which in all farm-houses 
stands opposite the front door, close to the 

** Now/' cried the old woman, " one/* and she 
swung her arms as though to get a good start. 

" Two — three/' I added, and then sprang with 
all my might, triumphantly clearing the threshold. 
But that cunning old body had only pretended 
to spring ; quick as light she shut the door, and 
drawing the bolt cried out to me : 

** Little rascal — go back to your parents — they 
will be getting anxious — come, off with you ! " 

There I stood, unlucky urchin, feeling like a 
basket with the bottom knocked out. What 
was I to do ? Go home ? Not for a kingdom. 
I could picture my father ready to receive me, 
the menacing rod in his hand. To add to my 
trouble, it was getting dark, and I no longer knew 
the road by which I had come. I resolved 
trust in God. 

Behind the farm, a path led up the hill betwe 
two high banks. I started off, regardless of risks. 
" Onward, Frederic," said I. 

After clambering up the steep path, then down 
and up again, I felt tired out. It was hardly 
surprising at eight years old, and with an empty 
stomach since midday. At last I came on a 



broken-down cottage in a neglected vineyard. 
They must have set it on fire at one time, for the 
cracked walls were black with smoke. There 
were no doors or windows, and the beams only 
held up half the roof, which had fallen in on one 
side. It might have been the abode of a night- 
mare ! 

But — " needs must '' as they say when there 
is no choice. So, worn out, and half dead with 
sleep, I climbed on to one of the beams, laid down, 
and in a twinkling fell sound asleep. 

I don't know how long I lay there, but in the 
middle of a leaden slumber I became aware of 
three men sitting round a charcoal fire, laughing 
and talking. 

** Am I dreaming ? " I asked myself in my sleep. 
** Am I dreaming, or is this real ? '* 

But the heavy sense of well-being, into which 
drowsiness plunges one, prevented any feeling 
of fear, and I continued to sleep placidly. 

I suppose that at last the smoke began to suffo- 
cate me, and on a sudden I started up with a cry 
of fright. Since I did not die then and there of 
sheer horror, I am convinced I shall never die. 

Imagine three wild gypsy faces, all turned on 
you at the same moment — and with oh, such eyes ! 
such awful eyes ! 


" Don't kill me ! don't kill me ! " I shrieked. 

The gypsies, who had been almost as startled 
I, burst out laughing, and one of them said : 

" You young scamp, you can boast that yoj 
gave us a nice scare ! " 

When I found they could laugh and talk lik^ 
myself, I took courage, and noticed at the same 
time what a good smell came from their pot. 

They made me get down from my perch and 
demanded where I came from, to whom I belonged, 
why I was there, and a string of other questions. 

Satisfied at length of my identity, one of the 
robbers — for they were robbers — said to me : 

^' Since you are playing truant, I suppose you 
are hungry. Here, eat this.** Sj 

And he threw me a shoulder of lamb, half cooke(^l 
as though I were a dog. I then noticed they had 
just been roasting a young lamb, stolen probabh 
from some fold. 

After we had, in this primitive fashion, 
made a good meal, the three men rose, collected 
their traps and in low tones took counsel together] 
then one of them turned to me : 

*' Look here, youngster, since you are a bit 
a brick we don't want to harm you, but all thj 
same, we can't have you spying which way we g( 
so we are going to pop you into that barrel ther( 


When the day comes you can call out and the first 
passer-by can release you — if he likes ! " 

'* All right/' I said submissively. *' Put me 
into the barrel." To tell the truth I was very 
glad to get off so cheaply. 

In the corner of the hovel stood a battered 
cask, used, doubtless, at the time of the vintage 
for fermenting the grape. 

They caught hold of me by the seat of my 
trousers, and pop ! into the cask I went. So 
there I found myself, in the middle of the night, 
in a cask, on the floor of a cottage in ruins. 

I crouched down, poor little wretch, rolling 
myself up like a ball, and while waiting for the 
dawn I said my prayers in low tones to scare the 
evil spirits. 

But — imagine my dismay when suddenly I 
heard, in the dark, something prowling and 
snorting, round my cask ! I held my breath as 
though I were dead, and committed myself to 
God and the sainted Virgin. Still I heard it, 
that dread something going round and round 
me, sniffing and pushing — what the devil was 
it ? My heart thumped and knocked like a 

But to finish my tale : at last the day com- 
menced to dawn, and the pattering that caused 


me such fear seemed to me to be growing a little 
more distant. Very cautiously I peeped out b 
means of the bunghole, and there, not far off, 
beheld — a wolf, my good friends — nothing shor 
of a wolf the size of a donkey ! An enormou 
wolf with eyes that glared like two lamps. 

Attracted by the odour of the cooked lamb h 
had come there, and finding nothing but bones, 
the close proximity of a Christian child's tende 
flesh filled him with hungry longing. But the 
curious thing was that, far from feeling fear at the 
sight of this beast, I experienced a great relief. 
The fact was, I had so dreaded some nocturnal 
apparition that the sight of even such a wolf 
gave me courage. 

** All very fine,'* I thought, '' but Tve not done 
with him yet. If that beast finds out that th 
cask is open at the top, he will jump in also an 
crunch me up with one bite of those teeth, 
must think of a plan to outwit him ! '' 

Some movement I made caught the sharp e 
of the wolf, and with one bound he was back a 
the cask, prowling round and lashing the sides 
with his long tail. Promptly I passed my small 
hand through the bunghole, seized hold of that 
tail, and pulling it inside, grasped it tightly with 
both hands. The wolf, as though he had five 


hundred devils after him, started off, dragging 
the cask over rocks and stones, through fields 
and vineyards. We must have rolled together 
over all the ups and downs of Eyragues, of Lagoy, 
and of Bourbourel. 

*' Oh mercy ! pity ! dear Virgin, dear Saint 
Joseph,'* I cried out. " Where is this wolf taking 
me ? And if the cask breaks he will gobble me 
up in a moment." 

Then all of a sudden, crash went the cask — 
the tail escaped from my hands, and — far off, quite 
in the distance, I saw my wolf escaping at a gallop. 
On looking round, what was my astonishment 
to find myself close to the New Bridge, on the 
road that leads to Maillane from Saint-Remy, 
not more than a quarter of an hour from our 
farm. The barrel must have knocked up against 
the parapet of the bridge and come to pieces in 
that way. 

It is hardly necessary to say that after such 
adventures the thought of the rod in my father's 
hand no longer possessed any terrors for me, and 
running as though the wolf were after me I soon 
found myself at home. 

At the back of the farm-house I saw in the field 
my father ploughing a long furrow. He leant 
against the handle and called to me laughing : 



" Ha, ha, my fine fellow, run in quick to youi 
mother — she has not slept a wink all night ! " 

And I ran in to my mother. 

Omitting nothing, I related to my parents all 
my thrilling adventures, but when I came to th( 
story of the robbers and the cask and th( 
enormous wolf : 

** Ah, little simpleton," they cried, " why i1 
was fright made you dream all that ! '* 

It was useless my assuring them again an( 
again that it was true as the Gospel ; I couh 
never get any one to believe me. 

Mistral in 1864. 


When my parents found that my whole heart 
was set upon play and that nothing could keep 
me from idling away the livelong day in the fields 
with the village boys, they came to the stern 
resolve to send me away to a boarding-school. 

So one morning a small folding-bed, a deal box 
to hold my papers, together with a bristly pig- 
skin trunk containing my books and belongings, 
^were placed in the farm cart, and I departed with 
;a heavy heart, accompanied by my mother to 
(Console me, and followed by our big dog " Le Juif,'' 
Ifor St. Michel de Frigolet. 

It was an old monastery, situated in the Montag- 
inette, about two hours* distance from the farm, 
between Graveson, Tarascon, and Barbentane. 
At the Revolution the property of Saint -Michel 
had been sold for a little paper money, and the 
deserted monastery, spoiled of its goods, unin- 
habited and solitary, remained desolate up there 
in the midst of the wilds, open to the four winds 
and to the wild beasts. Occasionally smugglers 



used it as a powder factory ; shepherds as a shelter 
for their sheep in the rain ; or gamblers from 
neighbouring towns — Graveson, Maillane, Ballj 
bentane, Chateau-Renard — resorted there to hide 
and to escape the police. And there, by the ligfj 
of a few pale candles, while gold pieces clinked to 
the shuffling of cards, oaths and blasphemies 
echoed under the arches where so recently psalms 
had been raised. Their game finished, the liber- 
tines then ate, drank and made merry until dawn. 

About the year 1832 some mendicant friars 
established themselves there. They replaced the 
bell in the old Roman tower, and on Sunday 
they set it ringing. 

But they rang in vain, no one mounted the hill 
for the services, for no one had faith in them. 
And the Duchesse De Berry, having just at this time 
come to Provence to incite the Carlists against 
the King, Louis-Philippe, I remember that it: 
was whispered that these fugitive brothers, under I 
their black gabardines, were in reality nothing 
but soldiers (or bandits) plotting for some doubtful 

It was after the departure of these brothers 
that a worthy native of Cavaillon, by name Mon- 
sieur Donnat, bought the Convent of Saint-Michel 
on credit and started there a school for boys. 


He was an old bachelor, yellow and swarthy 
in face, with lank hair, flat nose, a large mouth, 
and big teeth. He wore a long black frock-coat 
and bronzed shoes. Very devout he was and as 
poor as a church mouse, but he devised a means 
for starting his school and collecting pupils 
without a penny in his purse. 

For example, he would go to Graveson, Tarascon, 
Barbentane, or Saint -Pierre looking up the farmer 
who had sons. 

" I wish to tell you,'* he would begin, " that I 
have opened a school at St. Michel de Frigolet. 
You have now, at your door, an excellent institu- 
tion for instructing your boys and helping them 
to pass their examinations.'* 

*' That is all very fine for rich people, sir,*' the 
father of the family would answer, '' but we are 
poor folk, and can't afford all that education for 
our boys. They can always learn enough at home 
to work on the land.'' 

*' Look here," says Monsieur Donnat, " there 
is nothing better than a good education. You 
need not worry about payment. You will give 
me every year so many loads of wheat and so 
many barrels of wine or casks of oil — in that way 
we will arrange matters." 

The good farmer gladly agreed his boy should 


go to St. Michel de Frigolet. Monsieur Donnat th 
went on to a shopkeeper and began in this wise 

*' A fine Uttle boy that is of yours ! — and 
looks wide awake too ! Now you don't want 
make a pounder of pepper of him, do you ? '' 

*' Ah, sir, if we could we would give him a litt 
education, but colleges are so expensive, and when 
one isn't rich '* 

"Are you on the look-out for a coUege?'* 
exclaimed Monsieur Donnat. '' Why, send him to 
my school, up there at Saint-Michel, we will teach 
him a little Latin and make a man of him ! And 
— as to payment, we will take toll of the shop. 
You will have in me another customer, and a good 
customer, I can tell you ! " 

And without further question the shopkeeper 
confided his son to Monsieur Donnat. 

In this way Monsieur Donnat gathered into hi^ 
school some forty small boys of the neighbo 
hood, myself among them. Out of the numb 
some parents, like my own, paid in money, b 
quite three-fourths paid in kind — provisions, goo 
or their labour. In one word. Monsieur Donna^ 
before the Republic, social and democratic, had 
easily, and without any hubbub, solved the prob- 
lem of the Bank of Exchange, a measure which 
the famous Proudhon in 1848 preached in vain. 


One of the scholars I remember well. I think 
he was from Nimes, and we called him Agnel ; 
he was rather like a girl, gentle and pretty, with 
something sad in his look. Our parents came 
often to see us and brought us cakes and other 
good things. But Agnel appeared to have no 
relations, no one came to see him and he never 
spoke of those belonging to him. Only on one 
occasion had a tall strange gentleman of haughty 
and mysterious aspect appeared at the convent 
and inquired for Agnel. The interview, which 
was private, had lasted for about half an hour, after 
which the tall gentleman had departed and never 
reappeared. This gave rise to the conjecture that 
Agnel was a child of superior though illegitimate 
birth, being brought up in hiding at Saint-Michel. 
I lost sight of him completely on leaving. 

Our instructors consisted, to begin with, of our 
master, the worthy Monsieur Donnat, who, when 
at home, took the lower classes, but half the time 
le was away gleaning pupils. Then there were 
two or three poor devils, old seminarists, who, 
laving thrown cap and gown to the winds, were 
►veil content to earn a few crowns, besides being 
veil housed, fed and washed ; we boasted also a 
)riestling. Monsieur Talon by name, who said 
vlass for us ; and, finally, a little hunchback, 




Monsieur Lavagne, the professor of music. F 
our cook we had a negro^ and to wait at table and : 
do the washing a woman of Tarascon, some thir 
years old. To complete this happy family th 
were the worthy parents of Monsieur Donnat 
the father, poor old chap, coifed in a red cap, an 
assisted by the donkey, was employed to fetch 
the provisions ; and the old white-capped dame 
acted as barber to us, when necessary. 

In those days Saint-Michel was of much less 
importance than it has since become. There 
existed merely the cloisters of the old Augustine 
monks with the little green in the middle, while 
to the south in a small group rose the refectory, 
chapter-house, kitchen, stables, and lastly, the 
dilapidated Church of Saint-Michel. The walls oi 
the latter were covered with frescoes representing 
a flaming fiery hell of damned souls, and demom 
armed with pitch-forks, taking active part in the 
deadly combat between the devil and the greai 

Outside this cluster of buildings stood a sm 
buttressed chapel dedicated to Our Lady 
Succour, with a porch at the side. Great tufts 
ivy covered the walls, and inside it was decora 
with rich gildings enclosing pictures, attribu 
to Mignard, representing the Life of the Vir 


Oueen Anne of Austria, mother of Louis XIV., 

had so adorned the chapel, in accordance with a 

vow made to the Virgin should she become the 

mother of a son. 

During the Revolution, this chapel, a real gem 

hidden among the mountains, had been saved by 

the good country people, who piled up faggots in 

front of the porch, so hiding the entrance. Here 

it was that every morning, at five o'clock in summer 

and six in winter, we were taken to hear Mass, 

and here it was that with faith, a real angelic 

faith, I prayed — we all prayed. Here also, on 

Sundays, we sang Mass and vespers, each one 

prayer-book in hand ; and here, on the great 

feast-days, the country people came to admire 

the voice of the little Frederic ; for I had, at that 

age, a pretty clear voice like a girl's. At the 

Elevation, when we sang motets, it was I who 

had the solos, and I well remember one in which 

I specially distinguished myself commencing with 

these words : 

O mystery incomprehensible, 
Great God Thou art not loved. 

In front of the little chapel grew some nettle- 
trees, the sweet blossoms of which, hanging in 
tempting clusters, often lured us to climb the 
branches, to the destruction of our garments. 


There was also a well, bored and cut in the rocl^ 
which, by a subterranean outlet, poured its 
waters down into a basin, and, descending furthe[i| 
watered the kitchen garden. Below the garde^' 
at the entrance of the valley, grew a clump of 
white poplars, brightening up the rather barren : 

For Saint-Michel was a wild solitary spot, the 
old monastery being built on a plateau in a narrow 
passage between the mountains, far from the 
haunts of men, as the inscription over the entrance 
truly testified : 

" I fled from the cities, where injustice and 
vanity reign unchecked, and sought for solitude. 
This is the place I have chosen for my habitation. 
Here shall I find rest." 

The spurs of the mountains around were covered 
with thyme, rosemary, asphodel, box and lavender. 
In some protected corners grew vines, which 
produced, strange to say, a vintage of some renow: 
— the famous wine of Frigolet. A few olive-tre 
were planted on the spur of the hills, and he 
and there in the broken stony ground, rows of 
almond-trees, tortuous, rugged and stunted. In 
the clefts of the rocks might be seen occasional 
wild fig-trees. This was all the vegetation these 
rocky hills could show, the rest was only waste 



md and crushed boulders. But how good it 
nelt, this odour of the mountains, how intoxi- 
iting as we drank it in at sunrise ! 
The generaUty of schoolboys are penned up 
I big cold courtyards between four walls, but 
e had the mountains for our playground. On 
hursdays, and every day at recreation hours, no 
Doner were we let out than we were off like 
artridges, over valley and mountain, until the 
Dnvent bell rang out the recall. No danger of 
ur suffering from dulness. In the glorious 
immer sunshine the ortolan sang afar his 
Tsi tsi b6au"; and we rolled in the sweet 
lyme or roamed in search of forgotten almonds 
nd green grapes left on the vines. We gathered 
lushrooms, set traps for the birds, searched the 
ivines for those fossils called in all that country- 
de " Saint Stephen's stones/' hunted in the grottos 
)r the Golden Goat, and climbed and tumbled 
bout till our parents found it hardly possible to 
eep us decently clothed or shod. 
Ragged and tattered as a troop of young 
ypsies, how we revelled in that wonderful 
Duntry of mountains, gorges, and ravines, with 
leir superb Proven9al names, so sonorous and 
laracteristic, they seem to bear the impress of 
le genius of the people. The *' Mourfe de la 


Nur/' from whose summit one could see the white 
coast-line of the Mediterranean, and where at 
sunset on Saint John's day we lit the bonfires; 
the Baume de T Argent, where formerly they 
made counterfeit coin ; the Roque Pied de 
Boeuf, on which was the mark of a bull's hoof ; 
and the Roque d'Acier, dominating the Rhone, 
with its boats and rafts as they float down the 
stream : national monuments these, of our 
land and our language, sweet with the scent of 
thyme, rosemary and lavender, glowing with 
colours of gold and azure. O Land where Nature 
smiles so divinely, what dreams of delight thou 
didst reveal to my childhood ! 

But to return to Saint-Michel. We had, as I 
have said, a certain chaplain, Monsieur Talon, 
a little abbe from Avignon. He was short, stout, 
with a rubicund visage like a beggar's water- 
gourd. The Archbishop of Avignon had deprived 
him of his benefice because he was somewhat given 
to tippling, and sent him to us to be out of the way. 

One Saint's day — a Thursday — we had all been 
taken over to a neighbouring village, Boulbon, 
to march in the procession — the big boys swung 
incense, the little ones scattered flowers, while 
Monsieur Talon was invited, most imprudently 
alas ! to be the officiating priest. 


All the town turned out ; men, women, and girls 
lined the streets, gaily decorated with flags and 
bunting. The confraternities waved their banners, 
the fresh voices of the white-robed choristers 
intoned the Canticles, and with devout heads 
bowed before the Host ; we swung our censers 
and strewed our flowers, when all at once a 
murmur ran through the crowd, and, great 
heavens ! down the centre of the street with 
the Host in his hands, the golden cope on his 
back, came poor Monsieur Talon swaying like 
a pendulum. 

He had dined at the presbytery, and had no 
doubt been pressed to too much of that good 
vintage of Frigolet, which mounts so quickly to 
the head. The unhappy man, red as much from 
shame as from the wine, could not hold himself 
straight. Supported by the deacon and sub-deacon, 
one on each side, he entered the church with the 
procession. But finding himself before the altar, 
Monsieur Talon could say nothing save, '* Oremus, 
oremus, oremus,'' and finally they were obliged 
to remove him to the sacristy. 

The scandal this caused may be imagined ! 
Less, however, in that particular district than 
elsewhere, for all this took place in a parish where 
the *' divine bottle " still celebrates its rites, as 


in the days of Bacchus. Near Boulbon, in the 
mountains, stands an old chapel dedicated to Saint- 
Marcellin, and on the first day of June the men 
of Boulbon go there in procession, each carrying 
a bottle of wine.  

Women are not allowed to take part in this 
ceremony for, according to the Roman tradition, 
our women formerly drank nothing but water, 
and to reconcile the young girls to this ancient 
regime they were told, and are still told, that water 
is good for the complexion. 

The Abbe Talon never failed to escort us every 
year to the Procession of Bottles. Having taken 
our places in the chapel, the Cur6 of Boulbon, 
turning to the congregation, would say : 

'* My brethren — uncork your bottles, and let- 
there be silence for the benediction." " 

Then, having donned a red cope, he solemnly 
chanted the prescribed formula for the benediction 
of the wine, and after saying '* Amen,'* we al 
made the sign of the cross and took a pull at ou 
bottles. The cur6 and the mayor, after clinking 
glasses religiously on the steps of the altar, also 
drank. On the morrow, when the fete was over, 
if there happened to be a drought at the time, the 
bust of Saint-Marcellin was borne in a procession 
through all the country-side, for the Boulbonnais 



declare that good Saint-Marcellin blesses both 
wine and water. 

Another pilgrimage, also of a festive nature, and 
now quite gone out of fashion, was that of Saint- 
Anthime. It took place at Montagnette, and was 
got up by the people of Graveson, when there 
happened to be a scarcity of rain. 

Intoning their litanies and followed by a crowd 
of people, their heads covered with sacks, the 
priests would carry Saint-Anthime, a highly 
coloured bust with prominent eyes, beard, and 
mitre, to the Church of Saint-Michel, and there 
the whole blessed day, the provisions spread out 
on the fragrant grass, they would await the rain, 
land devoutly drink the wine of Frigolet. And I 
can stake my word that, more than once, the 
return journey was made in a flood of rain ; this 
may have been owing to the hymns, for our 
forefathers had a saying that, " Singing brings 
the rain.'* 

If, however, Saint-Anthime, in spite of litanies 
and pious libations, did not manage to collect the 
clouds, then the jolly penitents, on their return to 
Graveson, would punish him for his lack of power 
by plunging him three times in the brook of Lones. 
This curious custom of dipping the images of saints 
in water, to compel them to send rain, prevailed 


in many districts, at Toulouse, for instance, and 
I have heard of it even in Portugal. jH 

Our mothers never failed to take us in our chilT 
hood to the church at Graveson, there to show us 
Saint -Anthime and also Beluget, a Jack-of-the- 
Clock, who struck the hours in the belfry. ^j 

In concluding my experiences at Saint-Michel, 
I recollect, in a dreamlike fashion, that towards the 
end of my first year, just before the holidays, 
we played a comedy called The Children of Edward, 
by Casimir Delavigne. To me was allotted the 
part of a young princess, and my mother supplied 
me for the occasion with a muslin dress which 
she borrowed from a little girl of our neighbour- 
hood. This white dress was, later, the cause of a 
pretty little romance, which I will tell further on. 

In the second year of my schooling, having 
begun to learn Latin, I wrote to my parents to 
send me some books, and a few days after, looking 
down into the valley, behold I saw mounting the 
path to the convent, my father astride on Bab ache, 
the good old mule of thirty years* service, well 
known at all the market towns around. For m^ 
father always rode Babache, whether to the 
market, or going the round of his fields with the 
long weeding-f ork, which he used from his saddle 
cutting down the thistles and weeds. 


Upon reaching the convent, my father emptied 
an enormous sack which he had brought with 
him on his saddle. 

'' See, Frederic,*' he called, *' I have brought 
thee a few books and some paper ! " 

Therewith he pulled from the sack, one after 
the other, four or five dictionaries bound in parch- 
ment, a mass of paper books — '' Epitome,*' '' De 
Viris Illustribus,'* *' Selecta Historiae,*' '' Con- 
ciones,*' &c. — a huge bottle of ink, a bundle of 
goose quills, and enough writing paper to last 
me seven years, to the end of my school time in 
fact. It was from Monsieur Aubanel, printer at 
Avignon, and father of the future famous and 
beloved Felibre, at that time unknown to me, that 
my worthy parent had with such promptness 
made this provision for my education. 

At our pleasant monastery of St. Michel de 
Frigolet, however, I had no leisure to use much 
writing material. Monsieur Donnat, our master, 
for one reason or another, was seldom at his own 
establishment, and, as the proverb truly says, 
"When the cat is away, the mice will play." 
The masters, badly paid, had always some excuse 
for cutting short the lesson, and when the parents 
visited the school, there was often no one to be 
seen. On their inquiring for the boys, some of 


us would be found actively engaged in repairing' 
the stone wall which upheld a slanting field, while 
others would be among the vines revelling in the! 
discovery of forgotten little bunches of grapes] 
or mushrooms. Unfortunately, these circum-j 
stances did not conduce to much confidence in: 
our headmaster. Another thing which contributed 
to the decline of the school was that, in order to] 
increase the numbers, poor Monsieur Donnat 
took pupils who paid little or nothing, and these^ 
were not the boys who ate least. 

The end came at last in a characteristic manner. 
We had, as I have said, a negro as cook, and onei 
fine day this individual, without warning, packed] 
his box and disappeared. This was the signal' 
for a general disbanding. No cook meant no broth 
for us, and the professors one by one left us in^ 
the lurch. Monsieur Donnat was, as usual, absent. 
His mother, poor old soul, tried her hand for aj 
day or two at boiling potatoes, but one morning] 
the old father Donnat told us sadly : ** My children, 
there are no more potatoes to boil — you had better 
all go home ! '* 

And at once, like a flock of kids let loose fromi 
the fold, we ran off to gather tufts of thyme 
from the hills to carry away as a remembrance of 
this beautiful and beloved country — for Frigolet 


signifies in the Proven9al tongue a place where 
thyme abounds. 

Then, shouldering our little bundles, by twos 
and threes we scattered over the valleys and hills, 
some up, some down, but none of us without 
many a backward look and sigh of regret at 

Poor Monsieur Donnat ! After all his efforts 
in every direction to make his school a success, 
he ended his days, alas ! in the almshouse. 

But before taking leave of St. Michel de Frigolet, 
J I must add one word as to what became of the old 
1 monastery. After being abandoned for twelve 
years it was bought by a White Monk, Father 
Edmond. In 1854 he restored it under the Law 
of Saint-Norbert, the Order of Premontre, which 
had ceased to exist in France. Thanks to the 
activity, the preaching and collecting of this zealous 
missioner, the little monastery fast grew into 
importance. Numerous buildings, crowned with 
embattled walls, were added ; a new church, 
magnificently ornamented, raised its three naves, 
surmounted by a couple of big clock-towers. A 
hiundred monks or lay brothers peopled the cells, 
md every Sunday all the neighbourhood mounted 
the hillside to witness the pomp of the High Mass. 
[n 1880 the Abbot of the White Brothers had 


become so popular that upon the RepubUc order- 
ing the closing of the convents, over a thousand 
peasants came up from the plain and shut them- 
selves in the monastery to protest in person against 
the radical decree. And it was then that we saw 
a whole army in marching order — cavalry, infantry, 
generals and captains, with baggage waggons 
and all the apparatus of war — camping around the 
monastery of St. Michel de Frigolet, seriously 
going through this comic-opera siege, which four 
or five policemen, had they chosen, could easily 
have brought to a termination. 

Every morning during this siege, which lasted 
a week, the country people, taking their provisions, 
posted themselves on the hills and spurs of the 
mountains which dominated the monastery, and 
watched from afar the progress of events. The 
prettiest sight I well remember was the girls from 
Barbentane, Boulbon, Saint-Remy, and Maillane, 
encouraging the besieged with enthusiastic singing 
and waving of kerchiefs : 

Catholic and Provencal, 
Our faith shall know no fear. 
With ardour let us cheer, 
Catholic and Proven9al. 

This was alternated with invectives, jokes, ani 
hootings addressed to the officers, as the latter 


marched past with fierce aspect. Excepting only 
the genuine indignation aroused by the injustice of 
these proceedings in every heart, it would be hard 
to find a more burlesque siege than this of Frigolet, 
which furnished the subject of Sinnibaldi Dorians 
" Siege of Caderousse/' and also a heroic poem 
by the Abbe Faire, neither of them half as comic 
as the original. Alphonse Daudet, who had 
already written of the convent of the White 
Brothers in his story '' The Elixir of Brother 
Gaucher/' also gave us, in his last romance on 
Tarascon, the hero Tartarin valiantly joining the 
besieged in the Convent of Saint-Michel. 


After that experience, my parents had to fin( 
me another school, not too distant from Maillane, 
nor of too exalted a condition, for we country 
people were not proud. So they placed me at a 
school in Avignon, with Monsieur Millet, who lived 
in the Rue Petramale. 

This time, it was Uncle Benoni who acted as 
charioteer. Although Maillane is not more than 
about six miles from Avignon, at a time when no 
railways existed, and the roads were broken with 
heavy waggon wheels, and one had to cross the 
large bed of the Durance by ferry, the journey to 
Avignon was a matter of some importance. 

Three of my aunts, with my mother, Un( 
Benoni, and myself, all scrambled into the a 
in which was placed a straw mattress, and thi 
a goodly caravan load, we started at sunrise. 

I said advisedly '' three of my aunts." F( 
people, I am sure, can boast of as many aunts as 
I had. There were a round dozen. First and 
foremost came the Great-aunt Mistrale, then Aunt 


Jeanneton, Aunt Madelon, Aunt Veronique, Aunt 
Poulinette, Aunt Bourdette, Aunt Frangoise, 
Aunt Marie, Aunt Rion, Aunt Therese, Aunt 
Melanie and Aunt Lisa. All of them, to-day, 
are dead and buried, but I love to say over the 
names of those good women, who, like beneficent 
fairies, each with her own special attraction, 
circled round the cradle of my childhood. Add 
to my aunts the same number of uncles, and then 
the cousins, their numerous progeny, and you 
can form some idea of my relations. 

Uncle Benoni was my mother's brother and the 
youngest of the family — dark, thin, loosely made, 
with a turned-up nose and eyes black as jet. By 
trade he was a land-surveyor, but he had the repu- 
tation of an idler, and was even proud of it. He 
had a passion for three things, however — dancing, 
music and jesting. 

There was not a better dancer in Maillane, nor 
one more amusing. At the feast of Saint-Eloi or 
of Sainte-Agathe, when he and Jesette, the wrestler, 
danced the contredanse on the green together, 
every one crowded there to see him as he imitated 
the pigeon's flight. He played, more or less well, 
on every sort of instrument, violin, bassoon, horn, 
clarinette, but it was with the tambour-pipes that 
he excelled. In his youth Benoni had not his 


equal at serenading the village beauties, or il 
sounding the revel on a May night. And when- 
ever there was a pilgrimage to be made, either to 
Notre Dame de Lumiere, or to Saint-Gent, to 
Vaucluse or Les Saintes-Maries, Benoni was in- 
variably the charioteer, and the life and soul of 
the party, ever willing, nay, delighted, to leave his 
own work, the daily round of the quiet home, and 
to be off for a jaunt. 

Parties of fifteen to twenty young people in every 
cart would start off at dawn, foremost among 
them my uncle, seated on the shaft acting as driver, 
and keeping up a ceaseless flow of chaff, bantei 
and laughter, during the whole journey. 

There was one strange idea he had somehow goi 
fixed in his head, and that was, when he married 
to wed no one save a girl of noble birth. 

*' But such girls wish to marry men of nobl( 
birth,'' he was warned. 

*' Well,'' retorted Benoni, *' are not we nobl( 
too, in our family ? Do you imagine that w( 
Poulinets are a set of clowns like you folk. Ou; 
ancestor was a noble exile, he wore a cloak linec 
with red velvet, buckles on his shoes, and sill 
stockings ! " 

At last, by dint of patient inquiries, he really di( 
hear of a family belonging to the old aristocracy 


nearly ruined and with seven unmarried, dower- 
less daughters. The father, a dissipated fellow, 
was in the habit of selling a portion of his property 
every year to his creditors, and they ended by 
acquiring everything, even the chateau. So my 
gallant Uncle Benoni put on his best attire, and 
one fine day presented himself as a suitor. The 
eldest of the girls, though daughter of a marquis 
and Commander of Malta, to escape the inevit- 
able destiny of becoming an old maid, ended by 
accepting him. 

It was from such a source that the pretty story 
entitled '' Fin du Marquisat d'Aurel '* was taken, 
written by Henri de la Madeleine, and telling of a 
noble family fallen to the plebeian class. 

As I said, my uncle was an idle fellow. Often 
about the middle of the day, when he should have 
been digging or forking in the ga/*den, he would 
fling aside his tools, and retiring to the shade, 
draw out his flute and start a rigaudon. At the 
sound of music, the girls at work in the neighbour- 
ing fields would come running, and forthwith 
he would play a sauterelle and start them all 

In winter he seldom got up before midday. 

*' Where can one be so snug, so warm, as in one's 
bed ? '' he laughed. 


And when we asked if he did not get bored 
staying in bed, his reply was : 

*' Not I ! When I am sleepy I sleep, and when I 
am not, I say psalms for the dead/' 

Curiously enough, this light-hearted son of 
Provence never missed a funeral, and the service 
over, he was always the last to leave the cemetery, 
remaining behind that he might pray for his own 
family and for others. Then, resuming his old 
gaiety, he would observe : 

'* Another one gone — carried into the city of 
Saint Repose!*' ^i 

In his turn he had also to go there. He was 
eighty-three and the doctor had told his family 
there was nothing more to be done. 

" Bah,'* answered Benoni, '' what's the good of 
worrying. It is the sickest man that will die first.' 

He always had his flute on the table beside hi 

'* Those idiots gave me a bell to ring ; but 
made them fetch my flute, which answers f 
better. If I want anything I just play an a 
instead of calling or ringing." 

And so it happened that he died with his flut 
in his hand, and they placed it with him in hi 
coffin. This gave rise to the story started by th 
girls of the silk-mill at Maillane, that as the cloc 
struck twelve, old Benoni, flute in hand, rose fro 

Arlesiennes at Maillane. 


his grave and began playing a veritable devil's 
dance, whereupon all the other corpses also arose 
carrying their coffins, and there in the middle of 
the '' Grand Clos,'' having set fire to the coffins in 
order to warm themselves, they proceeded to 
perform a mad jig round the fire till daybreak, to 
the sound of Benoni's flute. 

Having now introduced Uncle Benoni, I must 
return to my journey with him. Accompanied by 
my mother and my three aunts, we all set out for 
Avignon. The whole way, as we jogged along, we 
discussed the state of the crops, the plantations, 
the vineyards that we passed. I was told, one 
after the other, all the traditional tales that 
marked the road to Avignon ; for example, how, 
at the bridge of '* La Folic,** the wizards formerly 
held their wild dances, and how at La Croisiere 
the highwaymen would stop the traveller with ; 
'' Your money or your life *' ; this was liable to 
occur also at the Croix de la Lieue and the Rocher 
d* Aiguille. 

At last we arrived at the sandy bed of the 
Durance. A year before the flood had swept away 
the bridge, and it was necessary to cross the river 
by a ferry-boat. We found some hundred carts 
there awaiting their turn to go over. We waited 
with the rest for about two hours, and then 



embarked, after chasing home ''Le Juif/' the bij 
dog, who had followed us so far. 

It was past twelve o'clock when we finall; 
reached Avignon. We stabled our horses, likl 
all those from our village, at the Hotel de Provenc( 
a little inn on the Place du Corps-Saint, and foj 
the rest of the day we roamed about the town. 

*' Would you like me to treat you to tW 
theatre ? '* said Uncle Benoni ; *' they are giving 
Maniclo and the Bishop of Castro this evening.'flj 

'* Oh, let us go and see Maniclo / '' we responded 
in chorus. 

It was my first visit to the theatre and my star 
ordained I should see a play of Provence. As for 
the Bishop of Castro ^ it was a sombre piece thai 
did not much interest us, and my aunts mainj 
tained that they played Maniclo much better 
Maillane. For at that time, in our villages, 
got up plays both comic and tragic during thj 
winter months. I have seen the Death of Ccesa^ 
Zaire, Joseph and his Brethren, played by thj 
villagers, their costumes made up out of theij 
wives' skirts and the counterpanes from theij 
beds. They loved the tragedies, and follow^ei 
with great pleasure the mournful declamation 
the five-act piece. But they also gave UAvoci 
Pathelin, translated into Provengale, and varioi 


lively comedies from the Marseillaise repertoire, 
Benoni was always the leading spirit of these 
evenings, where, with his violin, he accompanied 
the songs, and as a youngster I remember taking 
part in several plays and earning much applause. 

The morning after Maniclo came the inevitable 
parting, and with a heart heavy as a pea that had 
soaked nine days, I bade farewell to my mother, 
and went to be shut up in the school of Monsieur 
Millet, Rue Petramale. Monsieur Millet was a big 
man, tall, with heavy eyebrows, a red face, little 
pig's eyes, feet like an elephant's, hideous square 
fingers and slovenly appearance. 

A woman from the hills, fat and uncomely, 
cooked for us and managed the house. I never 
ate so many carrots before or since, carrots badly 
cooked in a flour sauce. In three months, my 
poor little body was reduced to a skeleton. 

Avignon, the predestined, where one day the 
Gai-Savoir was to effect the renaissance, was 
not at that time the bright town of to-day. She 
had not enlarged her Place de I'Horloge, nor 
widened out the Place Pic, nor constructed the 
Grande Rue. The Roque de Dom, which com- 
mands the town, was no lovely garden laid out as 
for a king, but, save for the cemetery, a bare and 
barren rock, while the ramparts, half in ruins. 




were surrounded by ditches full of rubbish a 
stagnant water. Rough street-porters formed the 
city corporation, and made laws as they chose for 
the town suburbs. It was they and their chief, 
a sort of Hercules nicknamed '' Four Arms 
who swept away the Town Hall of Avignon in 184 

Here, as in Italy, every week each house w 
visited by a black-clad penitent, who, face covered, 
with two holes for eyes, went round shaking hi 
money-box chaunting solemnly : 

*' For the poor prisoners ! " 

In the streets one constantly ran up against a 
sorts of local celebrities. There was the Sister 
Boute-Cuire, her covered basket on her arm, and 
a big crucifix on her ample bosom ; or the plasterer 
Barret, who in some street fight with the Liberals 
had once lost his hat, and thereupon sworn never 
to wear one again till Henri V. was on the throne, 
a vow that involved his going bare-headed for t 
rest of his life. And at every corner were to 
seen the picturesque pensioners of Avignon, 
branch of the Military Hotel in Paris, with thai 
wide-brimmed hats and long blue capes, venerable 
remnants of ancient wars, maimed, lame and blind, 
who with wooden legs and cautious steps hammered 
their careful way along the cobbled pavements. 

The town was passing through a state of unrest 


and upheaval between the old and new regimes, 
the members of which still fought in secret. 
Terrible memories of past evils, abuses, reproaches, 
yet survived, and were very bitter between people 
of a certain age. The Carlists talked incessantly 
of the Orange Tribunal, of J our dan Coupe-tetes, 
of the massacres of La Glaciere. The Liberals were 
always ready to retaliate with the year 1815, and 

rthe assassination of Marshal Brune, whose corpse 
had been thrown into the Rhone, while his pro- 

iperty was plundered and the murderers let go 
unpunished. Among these latter. Pointer left 

[ so notorious a reputation that, did any upstart 

I achieve sudden success in his business, it was at 
once said of him, "Here are some of Marechal 
Brune^s lotcis cropping up again.'* 

The people of Avignon, like those of Aix and 
Marseilles, and indeed of all the towriS of Provence 
at that time, regretted the disappearance of the 
Lily and the White Flag. The warm sympathy 
on the part of our predecessors for the royal cause 
was not, I think, so much a political opinion as 
an unconscious and popular protest against the 
aggressive centralisation, which the Jacobinism 
of the first Empire had made so odious. 

The Lily had always been to the Proven9als 
(who bore it in their national coat of arms) the 


symbol of a time when their customs, traditions 
and franchise were respected by the Government ; 
but to think that our fathers wished to return to 
the abuses which obtained before the Revolution 
would be a great error, for it was Provence who 
sent Mirabeau to the Etats Generaux, and there 
was no part of France where the Revolution was 
carried on with more passionate fervour than in 

The ancient city of Avignon is so steeped in by- 
gone glories that it is impossible to take a step 
without awakening some memory of the past. 
Close to the spot where our school was situated 
once stood the Convent of Sainte-Claire, and it was 
in that convent chapel that Petrarch first beheld 
his Laura one April morning in 1327. 

Our quarter had other associations in those days 
of a more lugubrious character, owing to the near 
proximity of the University and the Medi( 
School. No little shoeblack or chimney-swe^ 
could ever be induced to come and work at ol 
school, for it was firmly believed that the studeni 
laid in wait to catch all the small boys, for the 
purpose of bleeding and skinning them, and after- 
wards dissecting their corpses. 

It was not less interesting for us, children of 
villages for the most part, when we went out to 



ramble about in the labyrinth of alleys that 
formed our neighbourhood, such as the " Little 
I^aradise/* which had been a '' hot quarter/' and 
was so still, or the Street of Brandy, or of the 
" Cat,'' or the '' Cock," or the Devil ! But what 
a difference between this and the beautiful valleys 
all flowered with asphodel, and the fine air, the 
peace and the liberty of St. Michel de Frigolet. 
Some days my heart would ache with home- 
sickness, and 37et Monsieur Millet, who was a 
good devil at bottom, ended by taming me. He 
was from Caderousse, a farmer's son, like myself, 
and he had a great admiration for the famous 
poem, '' The Siege of Caderousse." He knew it by 
heart, and sometimes, while explaining some grand 
tight of the Greeks or the Trojans, he would 
suddenly give a shake to his grey tuft of hair 
xnd exclaim : i 

'' Now see, this is one of the finest bits of Virgil, 
sn't it ? Listen, my children, and you shall hear 
:hat Favre, the songster of the Siege of Caderousse, 
'ollows very close at Virgil's heels." 

How they appealed to us, these recitations in 
)ur own tongue — so full of savour ! The fat 
Vlillet would shout with laughter, and I, who had 
etained in my blood more than the others the 
loneyed essence of my childhood, found nothing 


gave me more pleasure than these fruits of my 
own country. 

Monsieur Millet would go every day about five 
o'clock to read the news in the Cafe Baretta, which 
he called the *' Cafe of talking animals." It was 
kept, if I am not mistaken, by the uncle, or perhaps 
grandfather, of Mademoiselle Baretta of the 
Theatre- Frangais ; then, the next day, if he were 
in a good temper, he would give us an epitome, not 
without a touch of malice, of the eternal growling 
of the old politicians assembled there, who at 
that time talked of nothing but the " Little One,'* 
as they called Henri V. 

It was that year I made my first communion 
in the Church of Saint-Didier, and it was the bell- 
ringer Fanot, of whom Roumanille sang later in his 
*' Cloche Montee,'' who daily rang us in for the 
Catechism. Two months before the confirmation 
Monsieur Millet took us to the church to be 
catechised. And there, with the other boys and 
girls, who were also being prepared, we were 
ranged in rows on benches in the middle of the 
nave. Chance willed that I, being among the last 
row of boys, should find myself next a charming 
little girl placed in the first row of girls. She was 
called Praxede, and had cheeks like the first blush 
of a fresh rose. Children are queer things ! We 


met every day, sitting next to each other, and 
without premeditation our elbows would touch, 
we would breathe in sympathy, whisper and shake 
over our little jokes till (the angels must have 
smiled to see it) we ended by actually being 
in love ! 

But what an innocent love ! how full of mystic 
aspirations! Those same angels, if they feel for 
each other reciprocal affection, must know just such 
in emotion. We were both but twelve years old, 
the age of Beatrice when Dante first saw her, and 
t was the vision of this young budding maiden 
:hat evoked the '^ Paradise '' of the great Florentine 
:)oet. There is an expression in our language 
exactly rendering this soul delight which intoxi- 
:ates two young people in the first spring-time of 
;outh, it signifies being of one accord, " nous nous 
igreions.'' It is true we never met except in 
:hurch, but the mere sight of each other filled our 
learts with happiness. I smiled at her, she smiled 
)ack, our voices were united in the same songs of 
livine love, we made the same signs of grace, and 
)ur souls were uplifted by the same mysteries 
)i a simple spontaneous faith. O dawn of love, 
)looming with a joy as innocent as the daisy by 
he clear brook ! First fleeting dawn of pure love ! 

Still I can picture Mademoiselle Praxede, as I 


saw her for the last time — dressed all in white 
crowned with a wreath of may, most sweet to look 
upon beneath her transparent veil, as she mounted 
the steps of the altar by my side, like a bride- 
lovely little bride of the Lamb. 

Our confirmation once over, the episode wae 
finished. Vainly, for long afterwards, when W( 
passed down the Rue de la Lice, where she lived 
my hungry eyes scanned the green shutters of th{ 
home of Praxede, but I never saw her again. Sh( 
had been sent to a convent school. The though 
that my sweet little friend of the rosy cheeks anc 
charming smile was lost to me for ever gave me j 
disgust for everything in life, and I fell into a stati 
of languor and melancholy. 

When the holidays arrived and I returned t 
the farm, my mother found me pale and feverish 
and decided, in order both to cure and to divert me 
that I should go with her on a pilgrimage to Saint 
Gent, the patron of all those suffering from fevei 

To Saint-Gent is also attributed the power^i 
sending rain, which makes him a sort of demi-™ 
to the peasants on both sides of the Durance. 

'' I went to Saint-Gent before the Revolution, 
said my father. '* I was ten years old and I walke 
the whole way barefoot with my poor mothe 
But we had more faith in those days." 


So we started one fine night in September, by 
the Hght of the moon, with Uncle Benoni, of whom 
I have already spoken, as driver. 

Other pilgrims bound for the fete joined us from 
Chateau-Renard, from Noves, Thor, and from 
Pernes, their carts, covered like our own with 
canvas stretched over wooden hoops, formed a 
long procession down the road. Singing and 
shouting in chorus the canticle of Saint-Gent, a 
magnificent old tune — Gounod, by the way, intro- 
duced it into his opera of Mireille — we passed 
through the sleeping villages to the sound of 
cracking whips, and not till the following afternoon 
about four o'clock did we all arrive at the Gorge 
de Bausset, where, with '' Long live Saint-Gent," 
we descended. There, in the very place where 
the venerated hermit passed his days of penitence, 
the old people repeated to the younger ones all they 
had heard tell of the saint. 

" Gent," they said, '' was one of us, the son of 
peasants, a fine youth from Monteux, who, at 
the age of fifteen, retired into the desert to con- 
secrate himself to God. He tilled the earth with 
two cows. One day a wolf attacked and devoured 
one of his cows. Gent caught the wolf, and har- 
nessing him to the plough, made him work, yoked 
with the other cow. Meanwhile at Monteux, since 


Gent departed, no rain had fallen for seven years, 
so the Montelaix said to his mother Imberti : 

" Good woman, you must go and find your son 
and tell him that since he left us we have not had 
a drop of rain/' 

The mother of Gent, by dint of searching and 
crying, at last found her son, here, where we are 
at this moment, in the Gorge de Bausset, and as 
his mother was thirsty, Gent pressed the steep 
rock with two of his fingers and two springs jetted 
forth, one of wine, the other of water. The spring 
of wine has dried up, but the water runs still, 
and it is as the hand of God for healing all bad 

There are two yearly pilgrimages to the Her- 
mitage of Saint-Gent. The first one, in May, is 
specially for the country people, the Montelaix, 
and they carry his statue from Monteux to Bausset, 
a pilgrimage of some six miles, made on foot 
memory of the flight of the saint. 

Here is the letter which Aubanel wrote to 
in 1866, when he also made the pilgrimage. 

** My dear Friend, — WithGrivolas I have j 
returned from a pilgrimage to Saint-Gent. It is a 
wonderful, sublime, and poetical experience, and 
that nocturnal journey bearing the image of the 


5aint has left on my soul a unique impression. 
The mayor lent us a carriage, and we followed 
with the pilgrims through fields and woods by 
the light of the moon, to the song of nightingales, 
from eight o'clock in the evening till past midnight. 
It was so impressive and mysterious — strange and 
beautiful — that one felt the tears start. Four 
youths lightly clothed in nankin, running like 
hares, flying like birds, set out with the sacred 
burden, preceded by a man on horseback, gallop- 
ing and signalling their approach with pistol-shots. 
The people of the farms hurried out to see the 
saint pass, men, women, children and old people, 
stopped the carriers, kissing the statue, praying, 
weeping, gesticulating. Then off went the bearers 
again more swiftly than ever, while the women 
cried after them : 

'' ' Happy journey, boys.' , ;, 

" And the men added : 

'' ' May the good saint uphold you.' 

'' And so they run till they pant for breath. Oh^! 
that journey through the night, and that little 
troop going forth into the darkness under the 
protection of God and Saint-Gent, into the desert, 
no one knew whither. I assure you there was in 
all this a profound note of poetry that made an 
indelible impression on my mind." 



The second pilgrimage of Saint-Gent takes place 
in September, and it was to that we went. Now 
as Saint-Gent had only been canonised by the voice 
of the people, the priests take very little notice of 
him, and the townsfolk still less. It is the people 
of the soil who recognise the right of the good 
saint to be canonised, he who was simply one of 
themselves, spoke and worked even as they, and 
who, with but moderate delays, sends them the 
rain they pray for, and cures their fevers. His 
cult is so fervent that, in the narrow gorge dedi- 
cated to the legend of his memory, sometimes as 
many as 20,000 pilgrims are assembled. 

Tradition records that Saint-Gent slept on a bed 
of stone with his head down and his feet up ; so 
all the pilgrims, in a spirit of devotion not unmixed 
with gaiety, go and lie like fallen trees in the bed 
of Saint-Gent, which is a hollow formed in the 
sloping rock ; the women also place themselves 
there, carefully holding each other's skirts in a 
decorous position. 

We, too, lay in the stone bed like the others, and 
I went with my mother to see the '* Spring of the 
Wolf,'' and the *' Spring of the Cow." Then on 
to the Chapel of Saint-Gent, surrounded by a 
group of old walnut-trees, and containing his 
tomb. And lastly, we visited the '' terrible rock/' 



as the old canticle calls it, from whence flows the 
miraculous fount which cures fever. 

Full of wonder at all these tales, these beliefs 
and visions, my soul intoxicated by the scent of 
the plants and the sight of this place, still hallowed 
by the impress of the saint's feet, with the beautiful 
faith of my twelve years I drank freely of the 
spring, and — people may think what they please 
— from that moment I had no more fever. 
Therefore do not be astonished that the daughter 
of the Felibre, the poor Mireille, when lost in the 
Crau and dying of thirst, calls on the good Saint- 
Gent to come to her rescue. (Mireille^ Song viii.) 

On my return to Avignon, a new arrangement 
was made for carrying on our classes. We con- 
tinued to live at the school of the fat Monsieur 
Millet, but were taken twice a day to the Royal 
College, to attend the University course as day 
scholars, and it was in this way that for five years 
(1843-1847) I continued my education. 

The masters of the college were not then, as 
now, young professors with degrees and coats of 
the latest cut. The professional chairs were 
occupied in our day by some of the drastic grey- 
3eards of the old University. For example, in 
:he fourth class we had the worthy Monsieur Blanc, 


formerly a sergeant-major in the Imperial army, 
who, when our replies were inadequate, promptly 
hurled at our heads the first book he could lay 
hands on. In another class, Monsieur Lamy, a 
rabid classic, who held in abhorrence the innova- 
tions of Victor Hugo ; while for rhetoric we had a 
rough patriot named Monsieur Chaulaire, who 
detested the English, and with vehement emotion, 
banging his fist on the desk, was wont to recite 
to us the warlike songs of Beranger. 

One year I remember specially, for how it 
happened I have no idea, but at the distribution 
of prizes in the church of the college, in presence 
of the assembled fine world of Avignon, I found 
myself carrying off all the prizes, even that foi 
conduct. Every time my name was called, I 
timidly advanced to fetch the beautiful boo! 
and the laurel crown from the hand of the head 
master, then, returning through the applauding 
crowd, I threw my trophies in my mother's lap 
and every one turned to look with curiosity afll 
astonishment at the beautiful Proven9ale whc j 
her face beaming with happiness but still calm an< 
dignified, piled up in her rush basket the laurel 
of her son. Afterwards, at the farm — sic trans\ 
gloria mundi — these aforesaid laurels were place 
on the chimney-piece behind the pots. 



Whatever was done, however, in the way of 
education to distract me from my natural bent, 
the love of my own language remained always 
my ruling passion, and many circumstances 
tended to nurture it. 

On one occasion, having read, in I forget what 
journal, some Provencal verses of Jasmin to 
Loisa Puget, and recognising that there were 
poets who still glorified the langue d'Oc, seized with 
a fine enthusiasm, I did likewise for the celebrated 
hairdresser, and composed an appreciation which 
begins thus : 

Poet, honour to thy Gascon mother ! 

but, poor little chap, I received no answer. Of 
course I know the poor 'prentice verses deserved 
none, but — no use denying it— this]disdain hurt me, 
and when in after life I in my turn received such 
offerings, remembering my own discomfort, I 
always felt it a duty to acknowledge them with 

About the age of fourteen, the longing for my 
lative fields and the sound of my native tongue 
grew on me to such a degree that it ended by 
naking me quite ill from home-sickness. 

Like the prodigal son, I said to myself, '* How 
•nuch happier are the servants and shepherds of 
)ur farm, down there, who eat the good bread that 


my mother provides ; the friends of my child- 
hood, too, my comrades of Maillane, who Hve at 
Hberty in the country, labouring, sowing, reaping, 
and gathering olives, beneath the blessed sun of 
God, than I who drudge between four walls, 
over translations and compositions/' 

My sorrow was mixed with a strong distaste 
for the unreal world where I was immured, and 
with a constant drawing towards some vague 
ideal which I discerned in the blue distance of the 
horizon. So it fell out that one day while reading, 
I think, the Magazin des Families, I came upon 
a description of the silent and contemplative life 
of the Monks of La Chartreuse at Valbonne. 

Thereupon I became possessed with the idea of 
this conventual life, and escaping from the school 
one fine afternoon I set out alone, determined and 
desperate, on the road to Pont Saint-Esprit, which 
winds along the banks of the Rhone, for I knew 
Valbonne was somewhere in that neighbourhood. 

*' There," I said to myself, *' I will go and 
knock at the door of the convent, imploring and 
weeping until they consent to admit me. Then 
once inside I will roam all day, in bliss, among the 
trees of the forest — -I will steep myself in thoughts 
of God and sanctify myself as did the good Saint- 


Then suddenly a thought arrested me : 

** And thy mother/' I said to myself, *' to whom, 
miserable boy, thou hast not even bidden farewell, 
and who, when she learns thou hast disappeared, 
will seek thee by hill and by dale, poor woman, 
weeping disconsolate as did the mother of Gent ! '* 

Turning about, with a heavy heart and hesi- 
tating steps I made my way back to the farm, 
in order to embrace my parents once more before 
forsaking the world ; but the nearer I drew to 
the paternal home, the faster my monkish ideas 
and proud resolution melted in the warmth of my 
filial love, as a ball of snow dissolves before the 
fire. At the door of the farm, where I arrived late, 
my mother cried out in astonishment at the sight 
of me : 

'' But why have you left your school before the 
holidays ? '' 

And I, already ashamed of my flight, replied 
in a broken voice : "I am home-sick — I cannot 
go back to that fat old Millet, where one has only 
carrots to eat/' 

But the next day our shepherd, Ronquet, took 
me back to my abhorred jail, with the promise, 
however, that I should be liberated at the end of 
the term. 


Like the cats who continually move their young 
ones from place to place, at the opening of the 
next school year my mother took me off to 
Monsieur Dupuy, a native of Carpentras, who 
kept a school in Avignon near the Pont-Troue. 
And here, in furtherance of mv ambitions as a 
budding Provengalist, I had indeed my '' nozzle 
in the hay/' 

Monsieur Dupuy was the brother of Charles 
Dupuy, a former Deputy of La Drome, and author 
of '' Petit Papillons,'' a delicate morsel of oi 
modern Provencal. Our Dupuy also tried 
hand at Provengal poetry, but he did not boas1 
about it, and therein showed wisdom. SI 

Shortly after my arrival, there came to the 
school a young professor with a fine black beard, 
a native of Saint-Remy, whose name was Joseph 
Roumanille. As we were neighbours — Maillane 
and Saint-Remy being in the same canton — and 
our families, both of the farming class, had known 
each other for years past, we were soon friends. 





Before long I found another bond which drew us 
still closer, namely, that the young professor was 
also interested in writing verses in the language 
of Provence. 

On Sundays we went to Mass and vespers at 
the Carmelite church. Our places were behind 
the High Altar, in the choir-stalls, and there our 
young voices mingled with those of the choristers, 
among whom was Denis Cassan, another Proven- 
gal poet, and one of the most popular at the 
carousals of the students* quarter. We saw him, 
however, clad in a surplice, with a foolish phleg- 
matic air, as he intoned the responses and psalms. 
The street where he lived now bears his name. 

One Sunday during vespers, the idea came into 
my head to render in Provengal verse the peni- 
tential psalms, so in the half-opened book I began 
furtively to scribble down my version in pencil. 

But Monsieur Roumanille, who was in charge, 
came behind me, and seizing the paper I was 
writing, read it and then showed it to the head- 
master. Monsieur Dupuy. The latter, it seems, 
viewed the matter leniently ; so after vespers, 
during our walk round the ramparts, Roumanille 
called me to him. 

" So, my little Mistral, you amuse yourself 
by writing verses in Provengal ? *' j_J 


'' Sometimes/' I admitted. 

'' Would you like me to repeat you some verses. 
Listen ! " And then in his deep sympathetic 
voice he recited to me one after another of his 
own poems — '' Les Deux Agneux/' '' Le Petit 
Joseph," ''Paulon," Madeleine et Louisette," a 
veritable outburst of April flowers and meadow 
blooms, heralds of the Felibrean spring time. 
Filled with delight, I listened, feeling that her 
was the dawn for which mv soul had been waitin 
to awake to the light. 

Up to that time I had only read a few stra 
scraps in the Provengal, and it had alwayi 
aggravated me to find that our language (Jasmi 
and the Marquis de Lafare alone excepted) waj 
usually used only in derision. But here w 
Roumanille, with this splendid voice of his, e 
pressing, in the tongue of the people, with dignit 
and simplicity, all the noblest sentiments of th 

Thus it came to pass that notwithstanding the 
difference of a dozen years between our ages, for 
Roumanille was born in 1818, we clasped hands, 
he happy to find a confidant quite prepared to 
understand his muse, and I, trembling with joy 
at entering the sanctuary of my dreams ; and 
thus, as sons of the same God, we were united in 


Joseph Roumanille. 



the bonds of friendship under so happy a star 
that for half a century we walked together, devoted 
to the same patriotic cause, without our affection 
or our zeal ever knowing diminution. 

Roumanille had sent his first verses to a Pro- 
, vengal journal, Boui-Abaisso, which was published 
' weekly at Marseilles by Joseph Desanat, and which 
for the bards of the day was an admirable outlet. 
For the language has never lacked exponents, 
and especially at the time of the Boui-Ahaisso 
(1841-1846) there was a strong movement at 
Marseilles in favour of the dialect, which, had it 
done nothing but promote writing in Provengal, 
deserves our gratitude. 

Also we must recognise that such popular 
poets as Desanat of Tarascon, or Bellot Chailan, 
Benedit and Gelu, pre-eminently Gelu, each of 
whom in his way expressed the buoy ant ^j oyous 
spirit of southern Provence, have never, in their 
particular line, been surpassed. Another, Camille 
Reyband, a poet of Carpentras, a poet, too, of 
M noble dimensions, in a grand epistle he addressed 
to Roumanille, laments the fate of the Provengal 
speech, neglected by idiots who, declares he, 
'* Follow the example of the gentlemen of the 
towns, and leave to the wise old forefathers our 
unfortunate language while they render the French 


tongue, which they fundamentally distort intj 
the worst of patois** 

Reyband seemed to foretell the Renaissanc 
which was then hatching when he made this appe< 
to the editor of the Boui-Ahaisso : 

** Before we separate, my brothers, let us defed 
ourselves against oblivion. Together let us build 
up a colossal edifice, some Tower of Babel made 
from the bricks of Provence. At the summitp! 
whilst singing, engrave your names, for you, my 
friends, are worthy to be remembered. As for 
me, whom a grain of praise intoxicates and over- 
comes, and who only sings as does the cicada, 
and can but contribute towards your monument 
a pinch of gravel and a little poor cement, I 
will dig for my Muse a tomb in the sand, and 
when, having finished your imperishable work, 
you look down, my brothers, from the height of 
your blue sky, you will no longer be able to see me.H 

All these gentlemen were, however, imbuecF 
with this erroneous idea that the language of the 
people, good though they felt it to be, was only 
suitable for common or droll subjects, and hence 
they took no pains either to purify or to restore it. 

Since the time of Louis XIV. the old traditions 
for the spelling of our language had become almost 
obsolete. The poets of the meridian had, partly 


through carelessness or ignorance, adopted the 
French spelHng. And this utterly false system 
cut at the root of our beautiful speech. Every 
one began to carry out his own orthographical 
fancies, until it reached such a point that the 
various dialects of the Oc language, owing to this 
constant disfigurement in the writing, no longer 
bore any resemblance one to another. 

Roumanille, when reading the manuscripts of 
Saboly in the library at Avignon, was struck by 
the good effect of our language when written in 
the old style employed by the ancient troubadours. 
He wished, young as I was, to have my help in 
restoring the true orthography, and in perfect 
accord concerning the plan of reform, we boldly 
started in to moult, as it were, and renew the skin 
of our language. Instinctively we felt that for 
the unknown work which awaited us in the future 
we should need a fine tool, a tool freshly ground. 
For the orthography was not all. Owing to the 
imitative and middle-class spirit of prejudice, 
which unfortunately is ever on the increase, many 
of the most gritty words of the Provengal tongue 
had been discarded as vulgar, and in their place, 
the'' poets who preceded the Felibres, even those 
of repute, had commonly employed, without any 
critical sense, corrupt forms and bastard words 


.l^-^-^ ^ 









"*i.-.^- -'" 



' f ; > J « r , 


of uneducated French. Having thus determined, 
Roumanille and I, to write our verses in the 
language of the people, we saw it was necessary 
to bring out strongly the energy, freshness, and 
richness of expression that characterised it, and 
to render the pureness of speech used in districts 
untouched by extreme influences. 

Even so the Roumanians, the poet Alexander 
tells us, when they wished to elevate their national 
tongue which the bourgeois class had lost or 
corrupted, went to seek it out in the villages and 
mountains among the primitive peasants. 

In order to conform the written Proverigal as 
much as possible to the pronunciation in general 
use in Provence, we decided to suppress certain 
letters or etymological finals fallen into disuse, 
such as the ''s'' of the plural, the ^^t" of the 
particle, the ''r" of the infinitive, and the "chjj 
in certain words like ^^ fach,'' '^ dich,'* " puech,*' & 

But let no one think that these innovation! 
though they concerned none save a small circl 
of patois poets, as we were then called, were intr 
duced into general usage without a severe struggi 
From Avignon to Marseilles, all those who wrote 
or rhymed in the language contested for their 
routine or their fashion, and promptly took the 
field against the reformers. A war of pamphlets 



containing envenomed articles between these 
opponents and we young Avignons continued to 
rage for many years. 

At Marseilles, the exponents of trivialities, the 
white-beard rhymesters, the envious and the 
growlers assembled together of an evening behind 
the old bookshop of the librarian Boy, there 
bitterly to bewail the suppression of the ^^s'* and 
sharpen their weapons against the innovators. 

Roumanille the valiant, ever ready to stand in 
the breech, launched against the adversaries the 
< Greek fire we were all diligently employed in pre- 
; paring in the crucible of the Gai-Savoir. And 
i because we had on our side, not only a just and 
I good cause, but faith, enthusiasm, youth — and 
-something else besides — it ended in our being, as I 
•\will show you later, victors on the field of battle. ^ 

But to return to the school of Monsieur Dupuy. 

One afternoon we were in the courtyard, playing 
at *' Three jumps,** when in our midst appeared a 
new pupil. He was tall and well made, with a 
• Henri IV. nose, a hat cocked to one side, and an 
air of maturity heightened by the unlit cigar in 
Ms mouth. His hands thrust in the pockets 
of his short coat, he came up just as if he were 
one of us. 


" Well, what are you after ? " said he. '' Would 
you like me to see if I can do these three jumps ? '* 

And without more ado, light as a cat, he took a 
run and went three hands beyond the highest jump 
that had been touched. We clapped him, and 
demanded where he had sprung from. 

'* From Chateauneuf,'* he answered — '^ the 
country where they grow good wine. Perhaps you 
have never heard of Chateauneuf, Chateauneuf- 
du-Pape ? '' 

'' Yes, we have. And what is your name ? '' 

'* Anselme Mathieu,'' he replied. 

And with these words he plunged his two hands 
into his pockets and brought out a store of old 
cigar-ends, which he offered round with a courteous 
and smiling air. 

We, who for the most part had never dared to 
smoke (unless, indeed, as children the roots of the 
mulberry-tree), thereupon regarded with great 
respect this hero, who did things in so grand a 
manner, and was evidently accustomed to high 

Thus it was that I first met Mathieu, the gentle 
author of the '' Farandole." On one occasion, I 
told this story to our friend Daudet, who loved 
Mathieu, and the idea of the old ends of cigars 
pleased him so much that in his romance '* Jack," 


he makes use of it with his Httle negro prince, 
who performs the same act of largess. 

With Roumanille and Mathieu, we were thus a 

trio who formed the nucleus of those who a little 

later were to found the Felibrige. The gallant 

Mathieu — heaven knows how he contrived it — was 

never seen except at the hours of food or recreation. 

On account of his already grown-up air, though not 

more than sixteen, and certainly backward in his 

studies, he had been allowed a room on the top 

story under the pretext that he could thus work 

limore freely, and there in his attic, the walls of 

which he had decorated with pictures, nude 

figures and plaster casts of Pradier, all day long he 

dreamed and smoked, made verses, and, a good 

'■ part of the time, leant out of the window, watching 

ithe people below, or the sparrows carrying food to 

' their young under the eaves. Then he would j oke, 

rather broadly, with Mariette the chamber-maid, 

ogle the master* s daughter, and, when he descended 

^from his heights, relate to us all sorts of gossip. 

But on one subject he always took himself 
seriously, and that was his patent of nobility : 
:. " My ancestors were marquises,'' he told us 
gravely, *' Marquises of Montredon. At the time 
of the Revolution, my grandfather gave up his 
title, and afterwards, finding himself ruined, he 


would not resume it since he could not keep it 
up properly/* 

There was always something romantic and 
elusive in the existence of Mathieu. He would 
disappear at times like the cats who go to Rome. 

In vain we would call him : *' Mathieu ! '' 

But no Mathieu would appear. Where was he ? 
Up there among the tiles, and over the house-tops 
he would make his way to the trysts he held, so he 
told us, with a girl beautiful as the day. 

On one occasion, while we were all watching 
the procession of the Fete-Dieu at Pont-Troue, 
Mathieu said to me : 

*' Frederic, shall I show you my beloved ? " 

*' Rather ! " I replied promptly. 

" Very well,'* said he. *' Now look, when the 
young choir-maidens pass, shrouded in their 
white tulle veils, notice they will all wear a flower 
pinned in the middle of their dress, but one, you 
will see, fair as a thread of gold, she will wear her 
flower at the side, . . . See,** he cried presently, 
'' there she is ! ** 

" Why, my dear fellow, she is a star ! ** I cried 
with enthusiasm. " How have you managed tc 
make a conquest of such a lovely girl ? ** 

" I will tell you. She is the daughter of the 
confectioner at the Carretterie. From time tc 


time I went there to buy some peppermint drops 
or pastry-fingers — in this way I arrived at making 
myself known to the dear child, as the Marquis de 
Montredon, and one day when she was alone in the 
shop, I said to her : * Beauteous maiden, if only I 
could know that you are as foolish as I am, I would 
propose an excursion/ 

'' 'Where ? ' she inquired. 

" ' To the moon,' I answered. 

'* She burst out laughing, but I continued : 
' This is how it could be done. You, my darling, 
would mount to the terrace which runs along the 
top of your house, just at any hour when you 
[i could or you would, and I, who lay my heart and 
my fortune at your feet, would meet you, and 
J there beneath the sky I would cull for you the 
flowers of love.' 

*' And so it came to pass. At the top of my 
beloved one's house, as in many others, there is a 
platform where they dry the linen. I have nothing 
to do but climb on the roof, and from gutter-spout 
to gutter-spout I go to find my fair one, who there 
spreads or folds the washing. Then, hand in hand, 
lip against lip, but always courteously as between 
lady and cavalier, we are in Paradise." 

And thus it was that our Anselme, future F61ibre 
of the Kisses, studied his Breviary of Love, and 


passed his classes in gentle ease on the house-tops 
of Avignon. 

At the Royal College, where we attended the 
history classes, there was never any question of 
modern politics. But Sergeant Monnier, one of 
our masters, an enthusiastic Republican, could 
not resist taking upon himself this instruction. 
During the recreation hour, he would walk up 
and down the courtyard, a history of the Revolu- 
tion in his hand, working himself up as he read 
aloud, gesticulating, swearing, and shouting with 

" Now this is fine ! Listen to this ! Oh, they were 
grand men ! Camille Desmoulins, Mirabeau, Bailly, 
Virgniaud, Danton, Saint-Just, Boisset-d'Anglas ! 
We are worms in this day, by all the gods ! besides 
those giants of the National Convention ! '' 

'' Oh, very grand indeed, your mock giants ! " 
Roumanille would answer when he happened 
to be there. '' Cut- throats, over-throwers of the 
Crucifix, unnatural monsters, ever devouring one 
another ! Why, Bonaparte, when he wanted 
them, brought them up like pigs in the market ! " 

And so they would attack each other until the 
easy-going Mathieu appeared on the scene and 
made peace by causing both to join in a laugh at 
some absurdity of his own. 


About this time Roumanille, in order to supple- 
ment his little emolument, had taken a post as 
reader in Sequin's printing house, and, thanks to 
this position, he was able to have his first volume 
of verses, '* Les Paquerettes," printed there at small 
cost. While he corrected his proofs, he would 
regale us with these poems, much to our delight. 

Thus one day succeeded another in these simple 
and familiar surroundings, till in the month of 
August 1847 I finished my studies, and, happy as 
a foal released and turned out to grass, I bade fare- 
well to Monsieur Dupuy's school and returned 
home to the farm. 

But before leaving the pontifical city, I must say 
one word about the religious pomps and shows 
which, in our young day, were celebrated in high 
state at Avignon for a fortnight at a time. Notre 
Dame-de-Dom (the cathedral), and the four 
parishes, Saint-Agricol, Saint-Pierre, Saint-Didier, 
and Saint-Symphorien, rivalled each other in their 

So soon as the sacristan, ringing his bell, had 
gone along the streets proclaiming where the 
Host, borne beneath the dais, was to pass, all the 
town; set to work sweeping, watering, strewing 
green boughs^ and erected decorations. From the 


balconies of the rich were hung tapestries of em- 
boidered silks and damasks, the poor from their 
windows hung out coverings of patchwork, their 
rugs and quilts. At the Portail-Maillanais and in 
the low quarters of the city, they covered the walls 
with white sheets and adorned the pavements 
with a litter of boxwood. Street altars were 
raised at intervals, high as pyramids, adorned with 
candelabrums and vases of flowers. All the people, 
sitting outside their houses on chairs, awaited the 
procession and ate little cakes. 

The young men of the mercantile and artisan 
classes walked about, swaggering and eyeing the 
young girls, or throwing them roses as they sat 
beneath the awnings, while all along the streets 
the scent of incense filled the air. 

At last came the procession, headed by the 
beadle clad all in red, and followed by a train 
white-robed virgins^ the confraternities, mon] 
and priests, choirs and musicians, threading the] 
way slowly to the beating of tambourines, ai 
one heard as they passed the low murmur of tl 
devout reciting their rosaries. 

Then, while an impressive silence reignel 
everywhere, all prostrated themselves, and the 
officiating priest elevated the Host beneath a 
shower of yellow broom. 


But one of the most striking things was the 
procession of Penitents, which began after sunset 
by the Hght of torches. And especially that of the 
White Penitents, wearing their cowls and cloaks, 
and marching past step by step, like ghosts, 
carrying, some of them, small tabernacles, others 
reliquaries or bearded busts, others burning per- 
fumes, or an enormous eye in a triangle, or a 
serpent twisted round a tree — one might have 
imagined them to be an Indian procession of 

These Orders dated from the time of the League 

and the Western Schism, and the heads and 

dignitaries of these confraternities were taken 

ifrom the noblest families in Avignon. Aubanel, 

'• one of our great Felibres, was all his life a zealous 

White Penitent, and, at his death, was buried in 

iithe habit of the brotherhood. 


" Well now/' said my father, '' have you 
finished ? '' 

*' I have finished, so far/* I repHed, '' only . . . 
I will now have to go to Nimes and take my 
bachelor's degree — a step which gives me a certain 
amount of apprehension." 

'* Forward then — quick march ! When I was a 
soldier, my son, we had harder steps than that to 
take before the Siege of Figuieres," said my sire. 

So I made my preparations forthwith for the 
journey to Nimes, where at that time the degrees 
were taken. My mother folded up my Sunday 
coat and two white shirts in a big check han 
kerchief fastened together with four pins, 
father presented me with a small linen bag coiP 
taining crowns to the amount of ^6, and added 
the caution : 

" Take thou care neither to lose nor to squander 

My bundle under my arm, hat cocked over one 
ear, and a vine-stick in my hand, I then departed. 




Arrived at Nimes, I met a crowd of other 
students from all the neighbourhood, come up, 
like myself, to take their degrees. They were for 
the most part accompanied by their parents, fine- 
looking ladies and gentlemen with their pockets 
full of letters of introduction, one to the Prefect, 
another to the Grand Vicar, and another to the 
head examiner. These fortunate youths swaggered 
about with an air which said : '' We are cocksure 
of success.'* 

I who knew not a soul felt myself very small fry. 
All my hope lay in Saint Baudile, the patron of 
Nimes whose votive ribbon I had worn as a child, 
and to whom I now addressed a fervent petition 
that he would incline the hearts of the examiners 
i towards me. 

We were shut up in a big bare room of the Hotel 
de Ville, and there an old professor dictated to us 
in nasal tones some Latin verse. He terminated 
with a pinch of snuff, and the announcement that 
we had an hour in which to render the Latin into 

Full of zeal we set to work. With the aid of the 
dictionary, the task was accomplished, and at the 
termination of the hour our snuff-taker collected 
the papers and dismissed us for the day. 

The students dispersed all over the town and 



I found myself standing there alone in the stree 
my small bundle under my arm and vine-stick i 
hand. The first thing was to find a lodging, some 
inn not too ruinous yet passably comfortable. 
As I had plenty of time on my hands, I made t 
tour of Nimes about ten times, scanning t 
hostelries and inns with critical eye. But th 
hotels, with their black-coated flunkeys, who looked 
me up and down long before I even approached 
them, and the airs and graces of the fashionable 
folk of whom I saw passing glimpses, made me 
coil up into my shell. 

At last a sign-board caught my eye with the 
inscription, " Au Petit-Saint-Jean.'' Here was 
something familiar at last. 

The name made me at once feel at home. Saint 
John was a special friend with us, he it was who 
brought good harvests, also we grew the grass of 
Saint John, ate the apples of Saint John, and 
celebrated his feast with bonfires. I entered the 
little inn with confidence therefore, a confidenc 
which was amply justified. 

In the courtyard were covered carts and truck 
while groups of Proven9ales stood there laughing 
and gossiping. I stepped into the dining-room 
and sat down at the table. The room was crowded 
and nearly all the seats occupied by market- 



gardeners. They had come in from Saint-Remy, 
Chateau-Renard, Barbentane, for the weekly 
market, and were all well acquainted. Their 
conversation related entirely to their business : 

'' Well, Benezet," said one, *' how much did 
your mad- apples fetch to-day ? '* 

" Bad luck ; the market was glutted — I had to 
give them away." 

'* And the leek-seed ? " asked another. 

" There is a fair prospect of a sale — if the rumour 
of war turns out true they will use it for making 
powder, so they say." 

'' And the onions ? " 

'' They went off at once." 

*' And the pumpkins ? " 

'' Had to give them to the pigs." 

For an hour 1 listened to this on all sides, 
eating steadily without saying a word. Then my 
opposite neighbour addressed me : 

" And you, young man ? If it is not indiscreet, 
may I ask if you are in the gardening line ? " 

" I replied modestly that I had come to Nimes 
for another purpose, namely, to pass as bachelor." 

The company turned round and gazed at me 
with interest. 

*' What did he say," they asked each other; 
' Bachelor ? He must have said ' battery ' 


hazarded one — it is a conscript, any one can see, 
and he wishes to get into the battery/' 

I laughed and tried to explain my position and 
the ordeal before me when the learned professors 
would put me through my paces in Latin, Greek, 
mathematics, chemistry, astronomy, philosophy, 
and every imaginable branch of knowledge besides. 
'' If we do well they allow us to become lawyers, 
doctors, judges, even sub-prefects,'' I concluded. 

'' And if you do badly ? " inquired my audience 

*' We are sent back to the asses' bench," I 
replied ; '' to-morrow I shall know my fate." 

'* Eh, but this is one of the right sort," they cried 
in chorus. '' Suppose we all remain on another 
day to see whether he comes through all right 
or whether he is left in the hole. Now, what are 
they going to ask you to-morrow, for example ?" 

I told them it would be concerning all the battles 
that had ever been fought since the world began, 
Jews, Romans, Saracens ; and not only the battles 
but the names of the generals who took part in them, 
the kings and queens reigning at the time, together 
with their children and even their bastards. 

*' But how then can the learned men occup}' 
themselves with such trifles ! " cried my ne^\ 
friends. ''It is very evident they have nothing 


better to do. If they had to get up and hoe 
potatoes every morning they would not waste 
time over the battles of the Saracens, who are dead 
and gone, or the bastards of Herod. Well, what 
else do they ask you ? '* 

I repHed that I should be required also to know 
the names of all the mountains and all the rivers 
in the world. 

Here I was interrupted by a gardener from 
Saint-Remy with a big guttural voice, who in- 
quired whether I knew where was the source of 
the Fountain of Vaucluse, and if it were true that 
seven rivers, each of them big enough to float a 
ship, sprang from that fountain. He had it on 
good authority also — could I confirm it ? — that a 
shepherd had let fall his crook in the water at 
Vaucluse, and had found it again in a spring at 
! Saint-Remy ! 

I had hardly time to think of a suitable and 
judicious answer before another of the company 
posed me with the question as to why the sea 
was salt. 

Here I considered myself on safe ground, and 
was beginning to reel off in airy fashion : " Because 
it contains sulphate of potassium, sulphate of 
I magnesia, chloride " 

*' No, no, that's all wrong,*' interrupted my 




questioner. '' It was a fisherman who told me — he 
was from Martigne and should know. The sea is 
salt owing to the many ships carrying cargoes a 
salt which have been wrecked during past year 

I discreetly gave way before this authority and 
hastened to enumerate other subjects on which I 
was about to be examined by the professors, such 
as the cause of thunder, lightning, frost and wind. 

*' Allow me to interrupt you, young man," 
broke in the first speaker again. '' You should be 
able then to tell us from whence comes the mistral, 
that accursed mischievous wind of our country. 
I have always heard that it issues from a hole in 
a certain great rock, and that if one could only 
cork up the hole, there would be an end of the 
mistral. Now that would be an invention worth 
the making ! " 

'' The Government would oppose it," said 
another ; *' if it were not for the mistral, Provence 
would be the garden of France ! Nothing would 
hold us back — we should become too rich to please 
the rest." 

'* Finally," I continued, '' we have to know all 
about the number, size, and distance of the stars — 
how many miles our earth is from the sun, &c." 

'* That passes everything," cried a native of 
Noves. '' Who is going up there to measure the 


distance ? Cannot you see, young man, that the 
professors are laughing at you ? A pretty science 
indeed to measure the miles between the sun and 
the moon; they will be teaching you next that 
pigeons are suckled ! Now if you would tell me at 
what quarter of the moon to sow celery or to cure 
the pig-disease, I would say, ' Here we have a real 
useful science ' — but all this boy prates of is 
pure rubbish ! '* 

The rest of the company, however, stood up for 
me loyally, declaring that, however, questionable 
the subjects I had studied, it was certain I must 
have a wonderful head to have stowed away such 
a lot inside. 

Some of the girls whispered together, with 
kindly glances of sympathy in my direction. 
** Poor little chap, how pale he is — one can see 
. all that reading has done him no good — if he had 
passed his time at the tail of the plough he would 
have more colour in his cheeks — and what is the 
good after all of knowing so much ! '' 

'* Well, comrades,'' cried my first friend, " I 
vote we see him through to the end, this lad from 
Maillane ! If we were at a bull-fight we should wait 
to see who got the prize, or at least the cockade. 
— Let us stay over night that we may know if 
he passes as a bachelor, eh ? " 


*' Good/' agreed the rest in chorus, *' we will 
wait and see him through to the end/' 

The following morning, with my heart in my 
mouth, I returned to the Hotel de Ville, together 
with the other candidates, many of whom I noticed 
wore a far less confident air than the day before. 
In a big hall, seated before a long table piled with 
papers and books, were five great and learned pro- 
fessors come expressly from Montpellier arrayed 
in their ermine-bordered capes and black caps. 
They were members of the Faculty of Letters, and 
among them, curiously enough, was Monsieur 
Saint-Rene Taillandier, who, a few years later, 
was to become the warm supporter of the Felibre 
movement. But at this time we were, of course, 
strangers to each other, and nothing would have 
more surprised the illustrious professor than had 
he known that the country lad who stood stammer- 
ing before him was one day to be numbered among 
his best friends. 

I was wild with joy — I had passed ! I went off 
down into the town as though borne along by 
angels. It was broiling hot, and I remember I 
was thirsty. As I passed the cafes, swinging my 
little vine-stick high in the air, I panted at the sight 
of the glasses of foaming beer, but I was such a 
novice in the ways of the world that I had never 


yet set foot inside a cafe, and I dared not 
go in. 

So I continued my triumphal march round the 
town, wearing an air of such radiant happiness 
and satisfaction that the very passers-by nudged 
one another and observed : '' He has evidently 
got his degree — that one ! " 

When at last I came upon a drinking-fountain 
and quenched my thirst in the fresh cool water, 
I would not have changed places with the 'King of 

But the finest thing of all was on my return to 
the '' Petit-Saint-Jean,'' where my friends the 
gardeners awaited me impatiently. On seeing me, 
glowing with joy enough to disperse a fog, they 
shouted : ''He has passed ! '' 

Men, women, girls, came rushing out, and there 
followed a grand handshaking and embracing 
all round. One would have said manna had fallen 
from heaven. 

Then my friend from Saint-Remy took up the 
speech. His eyes were wet with emotion. 

'' Maillanais ! '' he addressed me, '* we are all 
pleased with you. You have shown these little 
professor gentlemen that not only ants, but men, 
can be born of the soil. Come, children, let us 
all have a turn at the farandole!* 




Then taking hands, there in the courtyard of 
the inn, we all farandoled with a will. After that 
we dined with equal heartiness, eating, drinking 
and singing, till the time came to start for home. 

It is fifty-eight years ago. But I never visit 
Nimes and see in the distance the sign of the 
'* Petit-Saint- Jean " without that scene of my 
youth coming back to me fresh as yesterday, 
and a warm feeling arises in my heart for 
those dear people who first made me experience 
the good fellowship of my kind and the joys of 


The winter of 1847-1848 began happily enough. 
The people settled down quietly again to their 
business of making a tolerably good harvest, and 
the hateful subject of politics was dropped, thank 

I God. In our country of Maillane we even started, 

•[or our amusement, some representations of popu- 
ar tragedies and comedies, into which I threw 

'.nyself with all the fervour of my seventeen years. 
Then in the month of February, suddenly the 
devolution burst upon us, and good-bye to all 
he gentle arts of blessed peace-time. 

At the entrance of the village, in a small vine- 
lad cottage, there dwelt at this time a worthy old 
)ody named Riquelle. She wore the Arlesian 
Iress of bygone days, her large white coife sur- 
lounted by a broad-brimmed black felt hat, while 
white band, passing under the chin, framed her 
heeks. By her distaff and the produce of her 
mall plot of ground she supported herself, but one 
aw from the care she took of her person, as well 
s by her speech, that she had known better days. 


My first recollection of Riquelle dated back to 
when, at about seven years old, I was in the habit 
of passing her door on my way to school. Seated 
on the little bench at her threshold, her fingers busy 
knitting, she would call to me : 91 

*' Have you not some fine tomatoes on your 
farm, my little lad ? Bring me one next time 
you come along/' 

Time after time she asked me this, and I, boy- 
like, invariably forgot all about it, till one day I 
mentioned to my father that old Riquelle never 
saw me without asking for tomatoes. 

*' The accursed old dame,'* growled my father 
angrily; '' tell her they are not ripe, do you hear, 
neither have they ripened for many a long year." 

The next time I saw Riquelle I gave her this 
message, and she dropped the subject. 

Many years later, the day after the Proclama- 
tion of the Revolution of 1848, coming to the 
village to inquire the latest news, the first person 
I saw was Dame Riquelle standing there in her 
doorway, all alert and animated, with a great topaz 
ring blazing on her finger. 

'* He, but the tomatoes have ripened this 

year," she cried out to me. ** They are going to 

plant the ' trees of liberty,* * and we shall all eat ol 
* Poles crowned with Phrygian caps. 


those good apples of Paradise. . . . Oh, Sainte- 
Marianne, I never thought to live to see it 
again ! Frederic, my boy, become a Republican." 

I remarked on the fine ring she wore. 

*' Ha, yes, it is a fine ring,'* she rejoined. 
" Fancy — I have not worn it since the day 
Bonaparte quitted this country for the island of 
Elba ! A friend gave me this ring in the days — 
ah, what days those were — when we all danced 
the * Carmagnole.' " 

So saying she raised her skirt, and, making a step 
or two of the old dance, entered her cottage chuck- 
ling softly at the recollection of those bygone days. 

But when I recounted the incident to my father 
his recollections were of a graver kind. 

'* I also saw the Republic,'' he said, '' and it is 
to be hoped the atrocious things which took place 
then will never be repeated. They killed the King 
Louis XVL, and the beautiful Queen, his wife, 
besides princesses, priests, and numberless good 
people of all sorts. Then foreign kings combined 
and made war upon France. In order to defend 
the Republic, there was a general conscription. 
All were called out, the lame, the blind, the halt — 
not a man but had to enlist. I remember how we 
met a regiment of Allobrogians on their way to 
Toulon. One of them seized my young brother, 


and placing his naked sword across the boy's neck 
— he was but twelve years old — commanded him to 
cry out ' Long live the Republic/ or he would 
finish him off. The boy did as he was told, but 
the fright killed him. The nobles and the good 
priests, all were suspected, and those who could 
emigrate did so, in order to escape the guillotine. 
The Abbe Riousset, disguised as a shepherd, made 
his way to Piedmont with the flocks of Monsieur 
de Lubieres. We managed to save Monsieur 
Victorin Cartier, whose lands we farmed. For 
three months we hid him in a cave we dug out 
under the wine-casks, and whenever the municipal 
officers or the police of the district came down upon 
us to count the lambs we had in the fold, and the 
loaves of bread in the pans, in accordance with the 
law, my poor mother would hasten to fry a big 
omelette at the stove. 

'' When once they had eaten and drunk their fill, 
they would forget, or pretend to do so, to take 
further perquisites, and off they would go, carrying 
great branches of laurel with which to greet the 
victorious armies of the Republic. The chateaux 
were pillaged, the very dove-cotes demolished, 
the beUs melted down, and the crosses broken. 
In the churces they piled up great mounds oi 
earth on which they planted pine-trees, oaks anc 


junipers. The church at Maillane was turned into 
a club, and if you refused to go to their meetings 
you were at once denounced and notified as 
' suspect.* Our priest, who happened unfor- 
tunately to be a coward and a traitor, announced 
one day from the pulpit that all he had hitherto 
preached was a lie. He roused such indignation 
that, had not every man lived in fear of his neigh- 
bour, they would have stoned him. It was this 
same priest who another time wound up his dis- 
course with the injunction that any one who knew 
of or aided in hiding a ' suspect,' would be held 
guilty of mortal sin unless he denounced such 
a one at once to the Commune. Finally, the}^ 
ended by abolishing all observance of Sundays 
and feast-days, and instead, every tenth day, in 
great pomp they adored the Goddess of Reason 
— and would you know who was the goddess at 
Maillane ? Why, none other than the old dame 
Riquelle ! " 

We all exclaimed in surprise. 

'' Riquelle,'' continued my father, '' was at that 
time eighteen years old. A handsome, well-grown 
girl, one of the most admired in all the country. 
I was about the same age. Her father was Mayor 
of Maillane and by trade a shoemaker — he made 
me a pair of shoes I remember wearing when I 


joined the army. Well, imagine it — I saw t] 
same Riquelle in the garments, or rather the lac 
of garments, of a heathen goddess, a red cap 
her head, seated on the altar of the church/' 

All this my father recounted at supper oi 
evening about the year 1848. 

Some eleven years after, I, finding myself IF 
Paris just after the publication of Mireille, 
was dining at the house of the hospitable banker 
Milland, he who delighted to assemble every week 
at his board a gathering of artists, savants, and 
men of letters. We were about fifty, and I had 
the honour of sitting on one side of our charming 
hostess, while Mery was on the other. Towards 
the end of dinner an old man very simply attired 
addressed me in Provengal from the further end 
of the table, inquiring if I came from Maillane. K 
was the father of my host, and I rose and s< 
down beside him. 

'* Do you happen to know the daughter 
the once famous Mayor of Maillane, Jacqu^ 
Riquelle ? '' he inquired. 

" Riquelle the goddess ? Aye, indeed,' 
answered ; *' we are right good friends." 

'' Well, fifty years ago," said the old mai 
*' when I went to Maillane to sell horses and 
mules— — " 


" You gave her a topaz ring ! '* I cried with a 
sudden inspiration. 

The old fellow shook his sides with laughter and 
answered, delighted : ** What, she told you about 

that ? Ah, my dear sir '' 

But at this moment w^e were interrupted by the 
banker, who, in accordance with his custom, after 
every meal came to pay his respects to his worthy 
father, whereupon the latter, placing his hands 
patriarchal fashion on his son's head, bestowed 
on him his benediction. 

But to return to my own story. In spite of the 
^ views held by my family, this outburst of liberty 
I and enterprise, which breaks down the old fences 
>when a revolution is rife, had found me already 
^aflame and eager to follow the onrush. At the 
t first proclamation signed with the illustrious 
iname of Lamartine my muse awoke and burst 
forth into fiery song, which the local papers of 
Aries and Avignon hastened to publish : 

Reveillez-vous enfants de la Gironde, 
Et tressaillez dans vos sepulcres froids ; 

La liberie va rajeunir le monde . . . 
Guerre eternelle entre nous et les rois. 

A mad enthusiasm seized me for all humanitarian 
and liberal ideas ; and my Republicanism, while 
it scandalised the Royalists of Maillane, who 


regarded me as a turncoat, delighted the Repub- 
Hcans, who, being in the minority, were en- 
chanted at getting me to join them in shouting 
the '' Marseillaise/' 

And here, in Provence, as elsewhere, all this 
brought in its train broils and internal divisions. 
The Reds proclaimed their sentiments by wearing 
a belt and scarf of scarlet, while the Whites wore 
green. The former carried a buttonhole of thyme, 
emblem of the mountain, and the latter a sprig 
of the royal lily. The Republicans planted the 
*' trees of liberty '' at every corner, and by night the 
Royalists kicked them down. Thereupon followed 
riots and knife-thrusts ; till before long this good 
people, these Provenceaux of the same race, who 
a month before had been living in brotherly love 
and good fellowship, were all ready to make mince- 
meat of one another for a party wrangle that led 
to nothing. 

All students of the same year took sides and 
split into rival parties, neither of which ever lost 
an opportunity of a skirmish. Every evening we 
Reds, after washing down our omelettes with plent}/ 
of good wine, issued from the inn according to the 
correct village fashion, in shirt sleeves, with^a 
napkin round our necks. Down the street we 
went to the sound of the tambour, dancing th( 


* Xarmagnole " and singing at the pitch of our 
voices the latest song in vogue. ' 

We finished the evening usually by keeping 
high carnival, and yelling *' Long live Marianne/' ^ 
as we waved high our red belts. 

One fine day, as I appeared in the morning, 
none too early, after an evening of this kind, I 
found my father awaiting me. '' Come this 
way, Frederic,'* he said in his most serious and 
impressive manner, *' I wish to speak to you.*' 

*' You are in for it this time, Frederic,'* thought 
I to myself ; " now all the fat is in the fire ! '* Fol- 
lowing him in silence, he led the way to a quiet 
spot at the back of the farm, where he made me 
sit down on the bank by his side. 

" What is this they tell me ? '* he began. '' That 
you, my son, have joined these young scamps 
who go about yelling ' Long live Marianne ' — 
that you dance the ^ Carmagnole,' waving your red 
sash ? Ah, Frederic, you are young — know you 
it was with that dance and those same cries the 
Revolutionists set up the scaffold ? Not content 
with having published in all the papers a song in 

which you pour contempt on all kings But 

what harm have they done you, may I ask, these 
unfortunate kings ? " 

* Signifying the Republic. 



I must confess I found this question somewhat 
difficult to answer, and my sire continued : f 

'* Monsieur Durand-Maillane, a learned man, 
since he it was who presided at the famous Con- 
vention, and wise as he was learned, refused to 
sign the death warrant of the King, and speaking 
one day to his nephew Pelissier, also member of 
the Convention, he warned him : ' Pelissier,' 
said he, * thou art young and thou wilt surely see 
the day when the people will have to pay with 
many thousands of heads for this death of their 
King/ A prophecy which was verified only too 
fully by twenty years of ruthless war.'* 

*' But,'* I protested, *' this Republic desires 
harm to no man. They have just abolished 
capital punishment for political offenders. Some 
of the first names in France figure in the pro- 
visionary Government — the astronomer Arago, the 
great poet Lamartine ; our ^ trees of liberty ' ^ are 
blessed by the priests themselves. And, let me 
ask you, my father,'' I insisted, *' is it not a fact 
that before 1789 the aristocrats oppressed the 
people somewhat beyond endurance ? " 

'' Well," conceded my worthy sire, *' I will not 

deny there were abuses, great abuses — I can cite 

you an example. One day — I must have been about 

* Poles crowned with Phrygian caps. 


fourteen years old — I was coming from Saint- 

Remy with a waggon of straw trusses. The 

mistral blew with such force I failed to hear a 

voice behind calling to me to make way for a 

carriage to pass. The owner, who was a priest of 

the nobility, Monsieur de Verclos, managed at 

last to pass me, and as he did so gave me a lash 

^ with his whip across the face, which covered me 

 with blood. There were some peasants pasturing 

« dose by, and their indignation was such at this 

i action that they fell upon the man of God, in spite 

of his Order being at that time held sacred, and beat 

: him without mercy. Ah, undoubtedly,'' reflected 

my father, '' there were some bad specimens among 

them, and the Revolution just at first attracted a 

good many of us. But gradually everything went 

wrong and as usual the good paid for the bad.'* 

And so with the Revolution of 1848 ; all at first 
appeared to be on good and straight lines. We 
Provenceaux were represented in the National 
Assembly by such first-class men as Berryer, 
Lamartine, Lamennais, Beranger, Lacordaire, 
Garnier-Pages, Marie, and a poet of the people 
named Astouin. But the party-spirited reaction- 
aries soon poisoned everything ; the butcheries 
and massacres of June horrified the nation. The 



moderates grew cold, the extremists became veno 
mous, and all my fair young visions of a pla 
tonic Republic were overcast with gloomy doubt 
Happily light from another quarter shed it 
beams on my soul. Nature, revealing herself ir 
the grand order, space and peace of the rustic 
life, opened her arms to me ; it was the triumpl: 
of Ceres. 

In the present day, when machinery has almosi 
obliterated agriculture, the cultivation of the sor 
is losing more and more the noble aspect of thai 
sacred art and of its idyllic character. Now at 
harvest time the plains are covered with a kind oi 
monster spider and gigantic crab, which scratch 
up the ground with their claws, and cut dowE 
the grain with cutlasses, and bind the sheaves 
with wire ; then follow other monsters snorting 
steam, a sort of Tarascon dragon who seizes on 
the fallen wheat, cuts the straw, sifts the grain, and 
shakes out the ears of corn. All this is done in 
latest American style, a dull matter of business, 
with never a song to make toil a gladness, amid a 
whirl of noise, dust, and hideous smoke, and the con- 
stant dread, if you are not constantly on the watch, 
that the monster will snap off one of your limbs. 
This is Progress, the fatal Reaper, against whom 
it is useless to contend, bitter result of science. 


that tree of knowledge whose fruit is both good 
and evil. 

But at the time of which I write, the old methods 

were still in use, with all the picturesque apparatus 

of classic times. 

So soon as the corn took on a shade of apricot, 

^throughout the Commune of Aries, a messenger 

>went the round of the mountain villages blowing 

his horn and crying : '* This is to give notice that 

the corn in Aries is ripening/' 

Thereupon the mountaineers, in groups of threes 
and fours, with their wives and daughters, their 
donkeys and mules, made ready to descend to the 
plains for harvesting. A couple of harvesters, 
together with a boy or young girl to stack the 
sheaves, made up a solqiiCy and the men hired 
themselves out in gangs of so many solques, 
who undertook the field by contract. At the head 
li the group walked the chief, making a pathway 
:hrough the corn, while another, called the bailiff, 
organised and directed the work. 

As in the days of Cincinnatus, Cato and Virgil, 
ve reaped with the sickle, the fingers of the right 
land protected by a shield of twisted reeds or 

At Aries, about the time of Saint John's Day, 
housands of these harvest labourers might be seen 


assembed in the Place des Hommes, their scyt 
slung on their backs, standing and lying about 
while waiting to be hired. ^ 

In the mountain districts a man who had nevei 
done his harvesting in the plains of Aries found i1 
hard, so they said, to get any girl to marry him 
and it was on this custom Felix Gras founded the 
story of his epic poem '' Les Charbonniers/' 

On our own farm we hired from seven to eighi 
of these groups every year at harvest-time. I1 
was a fine upset throughout the house when these 
folk arrived. All sorts of special utensils were 
unearthed for the occasion, barrels made of willov 
wood, enormous earthenware pans, big pots anc 
jugs for wine, a whole battery of the rough potter} 
made at Apt. It was a time of constant feasting 
and gaiety, above all when we lit the bonfires or 
Saint John's Day and danced round them singi 
the harvest songs. 

Every day at dawn the reapers ranged themsel 
in line, and so soon as the chief had opened out i 
pathway through the cornfield all glistening witl 
morning dew, they swung their blades, and as the} 
slowly advanced down fell the golden corn. Th( 
sheaf-binders, most of whom were young girls ii 
the freshness of their youthful bloom, followec 
after, bending low over the fallen grain, laughing 



and jesting with a gaiety it rejoiced one's heart to 
see. Then as the sun appeared bathing the sky 
all rosy red and sending forth a glory of golden 
rays, the chief, raising high in the air his scythe, 
would cry, '' Hail to the new day,'' and all the 
scythes would follow suit. Having thus saluted 
the newly risen sun, again they fell to work, the 
cornfield bowing down as they advanced with 
rhythmic harmonious movement of their bare 
arms. From time to time the bailiff cried out, 
mustering his troop for another turn. At last, 
after four hours' vigorous work, the chief would 
give the word for all to rest. Whereupon, after 
washing the handles of their scythes in the nearest 
stream, they would sit down on the sheaves in the 
middle of the stubble, and take their first repast. 

It was my work, with the aid of Babache, our 
old mule, to take round the provisions in rope 

The harvesters had five meals a day, beginning 
with the breakfast at seven o'clock, which con- 
sisted of anchovies spread on bread steeped in oil 
and vinegar, together with raw onions, an invari- 
able accompaniment. At ten o'clock they had 
■he " big drink," as it was called, with hard- 
Doiled eggs and cheese ; at one o'clock dinner, 
>oup and vegetables ; at four a large salad, with 


which were eaten crusts rubbed with garUc ; and 
finally the supper, consisting either of pork or 
mutton and sometimes an omelette strongly 
flavoured with onion, a favourite harvesting dish. 
In the field they drank by turns from a barrel 
taken round by the chief and swung on a pole^ 
which he balanced on the shoulder of the one 
drinking. For their meals in the field they had 
one plate between three, each one helping himseli 
with a big wooden spoon. 

When the reapers* work was done, came the 
gleaners to gather the stray ears left among the 
stubble. Troops of these women went the rounds 
of the farms, sleeping at night under small tents 
which served to protect them from the mosquito 
A third of their gleanings, according to the usage 
in the country of Aries, went always to the hospital 

Such were the people, fine children of the soil 
who were not only my models but my teacher; 
in the art of poetry. It was in this company, tb 
grand sun of Provence streaming down on me as " 
lay full length beneath a willow-tree, that I learn 
to pipe and sing such songs as '' Les Moissons' 
and others in '' Les lies d'Or.*' 



That year, my parents, seeing me gaping idly at 
the moon, sent me to Aix to study law, for these 
good souls were wise enough to know that my 
bachelor's degree was but an insufficient guarantee 
either of wisdom or of science. But before my 
departure for the Sextine city I met with an 
adventure which both interested and touched 
me. ^ 

In a neighbouring farmhouse, a family from the 
town had settled, and going to church we sometimes 
met the daughters. Towards the end of summer, 
they, with their mother, came to call, and my 
mother appropriately offered them curds ; for we 
had on our farm fine herds of cattle, and milk in 
abundance. My mother herself superintended the 
iairy, making not only the curds but the cream 
:heeses, those small cheeses of the country of 
\rles, so much appreciated by Beland de la 
Belaudiere, the Provengal poet in the time of the 
/alois kings : 


A la ville des Baux, pour un florin vaillant 
Vous avez un tablier plein de fromages 
Qui fond au gosier comme Sucre fin.* 

Like the shepherdesses sung by Virgil, each day 
my mother, carrying on her hip the earthenware 
pot and skimmer, descended to the dairy and filled 
up the various moulds with the fine flaking curds 
from her pot. The cheeses made, she left them to 
drain upon the osiers, which I myself delighted to 
cut for her down by the stream. 

So on this occasion we partook with these young 
girls of a bowl of curds. One of them, about my 
own age, with a face which recalled those Greek 
profiles sculptured on the ancient monuments in 
the plains of Saint-R^my, regarded me tenderly 
with her great dark eyes. Her name was Louise. 

We visited the peacocks, with their rainbow- 
hued tails outspread, the bees in their long ro, 
of sheltered hives, the bleating lambs in the foli 
the well with its pent-roof supported by pillars 
of stone — everything, in fact, which could 
interest them. Louise seemed to move in a dre 
of delight. 

When we were in the garden, while my moth 

* In the city of the Baux for a florin's value 
You have an apron full of cheeses 
Which melt in the mouth like fine sugar. 





chatted with hers, and gathered pears for our 
guests, Louise and I sat down together on the 
parapet of the old well. 

'* I want to tell you something/' began Made- 
moiselle Louise. ' ' Do you remember a little frock, 
a muslin frock that your mother took to you 
one day when you were at school at St. Michel 
de Frigolet ? " 

'' Yes — to act my part in the piece called Les 
En f ants d'Edouard'' 

" Well then — that dress, monsieur, was mine." 

'' But did they not return it to you ? '' I asked 
like an imbecile. 

'' Oh yes,'' she said, a little confused, "I only 
spoke of it as — one might of anything." 

Then her mother called her. 

Louise gave me her hand ; such a cold hand, 
and since the hour was late they went home. 

A week later, towards sunset. Mademoiselle 
Louise appeared again at our door, this time 
accompanied only by a friend. 

'' Good afternoon," said she. '* We have come 
to buy some of those juicy pears you gave us the 
other day from your garden." 

My mother invited them to be seated, but 
Louise declined, saying it was too late, and I 
accompanied them to gather the pears. 



Louise's friend, Courrade by name, was from 
Saint-Remy, a handsome girl, with thick brown 
hair encircled by her Arlesienne ribbon ; charming 
as Louise was, she acted imprudently in bringing 
such a friend. fl 

Arrived in the orchard, while I lowered the 
branches, Courrade, raising her pretty round arms, 
bare to the elbow, set to work and picked the 
pears. Louise, looking very pale, encouraged her, 
and bade her choose the most ripe. My heart was 
already stirred, though by which of the girls I 
could not say, when Louise, as if she had some- 
thing to communicate, drew me to one side, and we 
sauntered slowly towards the group of cypresses, 
where, side by side, we sat down on a stone bench, 
I somewhat embarrassed, she regarding me with 

'' Frederic,'' she began, " the other day I spoli 
to you of a frock which at the age of eleven I le 
you to wear in the play at St. Michel de Frigole 
. . . You have read the story of Dejanire an 
Hercules ? " f | 

'' Yes," I answered laughing, '' and also of the 
tunic which the beautiful Dejanire gave to poor 
Hercules, and which set his blood on fire." 

'' Ah ! " said the young girl, " in this case it is 
just the reverse, for that little white muslin dress 


which you had touched — which you had worn — 
from the moment I put it on once more, I loved 
you. Do not be angry with me for this confession, 
which I know must appear strange, even mad, in 
your eyes. Ah, do not be angry," she begged, 
weeping, " for this divine fire, conveyed to me by 
the fatal dress, and which from that time has never 
ceased to consume me, I have hidden deep within 
my heart, oh, Frederic, for seven long years ! *' 

I took her little feverish hand in mine, and would 
have replied by folding her in my arms ; but 
gently she pushed me from her : 

'* No, Frederic,'' she said, *' as yet we cannot 
say whether the poem of which I have sung 
the first stanza will ever go further. ... I must 
now leave you. Think on what I have said, and 
remember that since I am one of those who cannot 
change, whatever your answer may be, my heart 
is given to you for ever.'* 

So saying she rose, and running up to her friend 
Courrade, called to her to bring the pears that they 
might weigh and pay for them. 

We returned to the house, and having settled 
for the pears they left. My feelings were difficult 
to analyse. I found myself both charmed and 
disturbed by this sudden appearance of young 
maidens upon the scene, both of whom in a certain 


fashion appealed strongly to me. Long I strolled 
among the trees, watching the sun's rays grow 
slanting and the doves fly home to roost, and in 
spite of a feeling of exhilaration, and even happi- 
ness, on sounding myself I perceived that I was in 
a rare fix. f 

The '' Disciple of Venus ** says truly, '' Love will 
not brook command.'* This heroic young maid, 
armed with nought but her grace and her vir- 
ginity, was she not justified in thinking to come 
off victorious ? Charming as she was, and her- 
self charmed by her long dream of love, no wonder 
if she thought that in the words of Dante, '' Love 
that has no lover pardons love,'' and that a young 
man living as I was an isolated country life, would 
respond with emotion at the first cooing note. 
She did not realise that love, being the gift and 
abandonment of all one's being, no sooner does 
the soul feel itself pursued with the object of 
capture, than it flies off like the bird to whom the 
charmer calls in vain. 

So it was that in presence of this chain of 
flowers, this rose, who unfolded all her sweetness 
for me, I coiled up with reserve, whereas towards 
the other, who, in her capacity of devoted friend 
and confidante, seemed to avoid my approach and 
my glance, I felt myself irresistibly drawn. For 


at that age I must confess to having already 
formed very definite ideas on the subject of love 
and the beloved. One day, either in the near or the 
far future, I told myself, I should meet her, my 
fate, in that same land of Aries, a superb country 
maiden, wearing the Arlesian costume like a queen, 
galloping on her steed across the plains of the Crau, 
a trident in her hand ; after a long and ardent 
wooing, one fine day my song of love would win 
her, and in triumph I should conduct her to our 
farm, where, like my mother before her, she should 
reign over her pastoral subjects. Already as I 
look back, I see that I dreamt of my *' Mireille,*' 
and this ideal of blooming beauty already conceived 
by me, though only in the silence and secrecy of 
my heart, told greatly against the chances of 
poor Mademoiselle Louise, who, according to the 
standard of my vision, was far too much of a 
young lady. 

After this we started a correspondence, or rather 
an interchange of love on one side and friendship 
on the other, which lasted over a period of some 
three years or more — all the time I was at Aix in 
fact. On my side I endeavoured gallantly to 
humour her sentiment for myself, so that, little by 
little if I could, I might change it to a feeling less 
embarrassing for both of us. But Louise, in spite 


of this, grew ever more and more fixed in her 
infatuation, winging to me one missive after 
another of despairing farewell. The following was 
the last of these letters : 

*' I have loved but once, and I shall die, I vow 
to you, with the name of Frederic engraven on my 
heart. Ah ! the sleepless nights I have passed 
thinking of my hapless fate ! And yesterday, 
reading over your vain attempts at consolation, 
the effort to keep back my weeping almost made 
my heart break. The doctor announced that I 
had fever, a nervous breakdown, and prescribed 
rest. How I rejoiced to think I was indeed 
seriously ill ! I felt even happy at the thought 
of dying and awaiting you in that other world 
where your letter declares we shall surely meet. . . . 
But hear me, Frederic, I beseech you, since it is 
indeed true that before long you will hear I have 
quitted this world, shed I beg, one tear of regret 
for me. Two years ago I made you a promise : 
it was to pray God every day to give you happiness 
— perfect happiness; never have I failed to offer 
up that prayer, and I shall never fail while life 
lasts. On your side, I beseech you, therefore, do 
not forget me, Frederic ; but when you see beneath 
your feet the withered yellow leaves, let them 


remind you of my young life withered by tears, 
dried up by grief, and when you pass by a brooklet, 
listen to its gentle murmur, and hear in that 
plaintive sound the echo of my love, and when 
some httle bird brushes you with its soft wing, let 
that tiny messenger say to you that I am ever near 
you. Forget not your poor Louise, oh, Frederic, 
I pray you.'' 

This was the final adieu sent to me by the poor 

, young girl, sealed with her own blood and accom- 

i panied by a medallion of the Holy Virgin, covered 

with her kisses, and encased in a small velvet cover 

, on which she had embroidered my initials with her 

chestnut hair, encircled by a wreath of ivy, and 

the words, '* Behold in me the strand of ivy, ever 

my love embraces thee." 

Poor dear Louise ! Not long after this she took 
the veil and became a nun, and in a few years 
died. Even now it moves me to melancholy when 
I think of her young life withered before its bloom 
by this ill-starred love. To her memory I dedicate 
this little record, and offer it to her Manes hovering 
perhaps still around me. 

The town of Aix (Head of Justice was the old 
significance), where I betook myself to make my 


law studies, by reason of its honourable past as 
capital of Provence and parliamentary city, 
possessed an air of soberness and dignity somewhat 
in contradiction with the Provencal atmosphere. 
The stately air given by the shady trees of the 
beautiful pubhc drive, the fountains, monuments 
and palaces of bygone days, together with the 
numerous black-robed magistrates, lawyers and 
professors to be seen in the streets, all contributed 
towards the severe and rather cold aspect which 
characterised this city. 

In my time, however, this impression was 
but a surface one, and among the students there 
was a gaiety of race, an intimate good-fellowship^ 
quite in keeping with the traditions left by the 
good King Rene of old. 

I remember even worthy counsellors and judges 
of the Court who, when at home, either in town 
or country house, amused themselves and their 
friends playing the tambourine ; * while grave and 
learned doctors, such as d' Astros, brother of the 
Cardinal of that name, delivered at the Academ}' 
lectures in the simple and joyous tongue of theii 
native Provencal. One of the best methods this 
for keeping alive the national soul, and which in 
Aix has never lapsed. Count Portalis, for example. 

* The national instrument of Provence. 


one of the grand jurists of the Napoleon Code, 
wrote a play in Provengal. Then there was 
Monsieur Diouloufet, famous librarian of the 
French Athens * (as Aix once called herself), who, 
in the reign of Louis XVIII., sang in the language 
of Provence his poems of '' Les Magnans *' ; 
while Monsieur Mignet, the illustrious historian 
and academician, came every year to Aix on pur- 
pose to play bowls, the national game of his youth, 
his panacea for restoring and renovating all men 
being '' to drink in the sunshine of Provence, 
speak the language of Provence, eat a ragoiU of 
Provence, and every morning play a game of 

I had been in Aix a few months when, walking 
one afternoon near the Hot Springs, to my joy I 
suddenly caught sight of thejprofile, and quite 
unmistakable nose, of my friend Anselme Mathieu 
of Chateauneuf . 

In his usual casual way he greeted me. " This 
water is really hot — it is not pretence my dear 
fellow, it positively smokes.*' 

'' When did you arrive ? '' I asked him with a 
hearty grip of the hand. '' And what good wind 
blew you here ? " 

" The night before last," said he. " Faith, I 
* Athene du Midi. 


said to myself, since Mistral is off to Aix to read 
for law, I had better do likewise/* 

I congratulated him on the happy inspiration, 
and inquired whether he had taken his bachelor's 
degree, without which it was useless to think of 
being admitted to the Law Faculty. 

'' Oh yes," he laughed. " I passed out with 
the wooden spoon ! But if they refuse me a 
diploma in the courts of law, no man can prevent 
my taking one in the courts of love ! Why, only 
to-day,'' he continued, *' I made the acquaintance 
of a charming young laundress, a little sunburnt 
it is true, but with lips like a cherry, teeth like a 
puppy, unruly curls peeping from out her white 
cap, a bare throat, little turned-up nose, dimpled 
arms " 


'* Hold, villain," I remonstrated, *' it strikes 
me your eyes were not idle." 

'* Frederic, you are on a wrong scent," hi 
answered solemnly. *' Think not that I, a scion 
of the noble house of Montredon, irresponsible 
though I may be, would lose my heart to ^| 
little chit of a laundress — but, I don't know 
if you share this feeling, I find it impossible to 
pass a pretty face without turning round to 
gaze at it. In short, after a little conversa- 
tion with the girl, we arranged that she should 

;:i. "^ 

Anselm Mathieu. 

Theodore Aubanel. 


^« 'U^^l 

(/)l»tl»l lu 



wash for me and come to fetch my things next 
week ! " 

I upbraided him for an unscrupulous scoundrel, 
but he interrupted me again, saying I had not yet 
grasped the situation, and begging me to listen to 
the end of his tale. 

' '' While chatting with my little friend,'* he con- 
tinued, *' I noticed she was rubbing away at a 
dainty chemise of finest linen, trimmed with lace. 
It excited my curiosity and admiration — I in- 
quired to whom it belonged ? ' This chemise,' the 
young girl answered, ' belongs to one of the most 
beautiful ladies in Aix — a baronne of some thirty 
summers, married, poor thing, to an old cur- 
mudgeon who is a judge of the Courts and jealous 
as a Turk/ ' She must be bored to death,' I cried. 
' Ah yes,' she replied, ' she is bored to death, poor 
lady. There she sits on her balcony waiting, one 
would say, for some gallant gentleman who shall 
come to the rescue.' I inquired her name, but 
here she demurred, saying she was but the laun- 
dress, and had no right to mix herself up in affairs 
that did not concern her. Not a word more could 
I get out of her ; but," added Mathieu hopefully, 
'' when she comes for my washing next week, it 
is a pity if I don't make her open her lips by 
bestowing two or three good kisses upon them." 



'' And when you know the name of the lady, 
what then ? '* I asked. 

'' What then ? Why, my dear fellow, I hav 
bread in the cupboard for three years ! Whi 
you other poor devils are grinding away 
your law studies, I, like the troubadours of ol 
Provence, shall at my leisure study beneath m 
lady's balcony the gentle art of the laws of love/' 

And this was, in effect, precisely the task under- 
taken and accomplished by the Chevalier Mathieu 
during the three following years at Aix. 

Ah, the good days we spent in excursions all 
over the country ! Now a picnic by the Bridge of 
Arc, in a dell just off the dusty high road to Mar- 
seilles, or a party to Tholonet to sniff up the fine 
fumes of the wine of Langesse. Another time it_ 
was a students' duel in the valley of Inferneti 
the pistols charged with pellets of mud ; or again 
merry company on the diligence to Toulon, throug] 
the lovely woods of Cuge and across the Gorge 
Ollioules. The students of Aix had led much tl 
same life since the good old days of the Popes of 
Avignon and the time of Queen Joan. 

While we were thus amusing ourselves in the 
noble city of the Counts of Provence, Roumanille, 
more wise and staid, was publishing at Avignon, 


in the periodical called the Commune, admirable 
dialogues, full of wisdom, good sense and courage, 
as, for example, " Le Thym,'* '' Un Rouge et un 
Blanc,'* '' Les Pretres,*' work which both popu- 
larised and dignified the Provencal tongue. From 
this he proceeded, on the strength of the reputa- 
tion won by his '' Paquerettes 'V and his daring 
i pamphlets, to convoke, through the means of 
ihis journal, all Proven9al singers of the day, old 
and young. The outcome of this rallying move- 
iment was a publication in 1852, Les Proven f ales , 
[presented to the public with an introduction of 
: ardent enthusiasm by the learned and eminent 
; savant, Monsieur Saint-Rene Taillandier, then 
I residing at Montpellier. 

In this first venture appeared contributions from 
• d' Astros and Gaut of Aix ; Aubert, Bellot, 
Benedit, Bourelly, and Barthelemy of Marseilles; 
Bondin, Cassan, Giera of Avignon; Tarascon 
was represented by Gautier, and Beaucaire by 
Bonnet ; Chateauneuf by Anselme Mathieu ; Car- 
pentras by Reybaud and Dupuy; Cavaillon by 
Castil-Blaze, then there was Garcin, warm-hearted 
son of that Marshal d* Alliens mentioned in Mireille . 
and Crousillat of Salon, besides a group of Lan- 
guedoc poets — Moquin-Tandon, Peyrottes, Lafare- 
Alois ; and Jasmin, who contributed one poem. 

*> > ^ r ^ 


The principal contributor, however, was 
Roumanille, then in full flower of production, his 
last work, entitled ''Les Creches,'' having elicited 
from the great Sainte-Beuve the declaration that 
it was worthy of Klopstock. 

Theodore Aubanel, then in his twenty-second 
year, began to send forth his first master-strokes, 
*'Le 9 Thermidor,'' " Les Faucheurs," ''A la 
Toussaint.*' And finally, I also, aflame with the 
fine ardour of patriotism, sent in my ten 
short pieces, among which were '' Amertume," 
*' Le Mistral,'' " Une Course de Taureaux," and a 
''Bonjour a Tons," which last notified our new 

But to return to the gay Mathieu' and his love 
adventure with the lady of Aix, the conclusion 
of which I left untold. 

Whenever I came across this student in the 
laws of love, I inquired without fail of his progress, 

His patience and perseverance, he announced 
to me one day, had been rewarded, and Lelette, the 
little laundress, at last consented to show him the 
house of the fair haronne. Beneath her balcony 
he had from that time paced to and fro, unweary 
ingly, until finally observed by the object of his: 
adoration — a lady, declared Mathieu, of matchless * 


beauty — and the sequel proved of good taste also, 
since the other evening, smiling charmingly upon 
her devoted cavalier, she had let fall from the 
heaven above him — a flower. 

Thereupon Mathieu produced a faded carna- 
tion in proof of his tale, and gazing with tender 
rapture, blew a kiss skywards. 

After this, several months elapsed, without my 
catching a sight of Mathieu. I resolved to go and 
look him up. 

Mounting to his attic, I found my friend reclining 
fivvith one foot on a chair. 

Bidding me a hearty welcome, he poured forth 
jiis latest news and the history of his accident. 

*' Imagine, my dear fellow — I had hit upon a 

i3lan for a nocturnal visit to my divine lady. 

liverything was arranged — Lelette, my little 

laundress, lent us a hand. I entered the garden 

it eleven o'clock, and by the trellis of the rose- 

ree which creeps to her window, I climbed up. 

^ou may imagine how my heart beat ! For she, 

ny sovereign lady, had promised to stretch out her 

lainty hand that I might press thereon my kisses. 

leavens ! — the shutters opened softly — and a 

jiand, my Frederic, a hand I quickly recognised 

'/as not that of my adored, shook down on my 

ipturned nose— the cinders of a pipe ! I waited 


for no more, but sliding to the ground, I fled. 
I leapt the garden wall, and, confound it — sprained 
my foot ! *' d| 

He laughed, and I joined him till we nearly 
dislocated our jaws. I inquired if he had sent foi 
a doctor ? That office he informed me had beer 
undertaken by the mother of Lelette — a worth} 
dame who kept a tavern near the Porte dTtalie 
This old body, being a sorceress in her way, hac 
steeped the sprained foot in white wine, muttering 
weird incantations the while, and, after bandaging 
the foot tightly, concluded the ceremony b> 
making the sign of the cross three times with he 
great toe. 

'* So here I am," said Mathieu, *' waiting ti] 
Providence sees fit to heal me . . . and readin; 
meanwhile the ' P^querettes ' of our frien- 
Roumanille. The time does not hang heavyj 
little Lelette brings me my simple fare twic 
day, and in default of ortolans I am than! 
for sparrows." 

Whether Mathieu, well named, as he afterwal 
was, the '' Felibre of the Kisses," drew on h 
gorgeous imagination for the whole of this re 
mantic episode, I cannot pretend to say ; enoug 
that I repeat it as he told it to me. 


I HAD now become a full-blown lawyer, like scores 
of others, and, as you may have remarked, I did 
not overwork myself ! Proud as a young bird that 
has found a worm, I returned home, arriving just 
at the hour of supper, which was being served on 
the stone table in the open, under the vine trellis, 
by the last rays of the setting sun. 

'* Good evening, everybody ! *' I cried. 

'* God bless you, Frederic.'' 

" Father, mother, it is all right ! '' I announced, 
" and I have really finished this time ! '* 

''Well, that is a good job!" cried Madeleine, 
the young Piedmontaise, who served at table. 

Then, still standing, and before all the labourers, 
I gave an account of my last undertaking. As I 
finished, my venerable father remarked : 

'' Well, my boy, I have now done my duty by 
^ you. You have had much more schooling than I 
• ever had. It is now for you to choose the road 
tthat suits you — I leave you free.'' 

'' Hearty thanks, my father,'* I answered. 



And then and there — at that time I was one and 
twenty — with my foot on the threshold of the 
paternal home, and my eyes looking towards the 
Alpilles, I formed the resolution, first, to raise and 
revivify in Provence the sentiment of race that I 
saw being annihilated by the false and unnatural 
education of all the schools ; secondly, to pro- 
mote that resurrection by the restoration of the 
native and historic language of the country, 
against which the schools waged war to the death ; 
and lastly, to make that language popular by 
illuminating it with the divine flame of poetry. 

All these ideas hummed vaguely in my soul. 
This eddying and surging of the Provengal sap 
filled my being, and, free from all conventional 
literary influences, strong in the independence 
which gave me wings, and assured that nothing 
could now deter me, the sight of the labourers 
one evening, singing as they followed the plough 
in the furrow, inspired me with the opening song 
of Mireille, 

This poem, the child of love, was peaceably and 
leisurely brought to birth under the influence oi 
the warm golden sunshine and the breath of the 
wide sweeping winds of Provence. At the same 
time I took over the charge of the farm, undei 
the direction of my father, who, at eighty years o: 


age, had become blind. It was a life well suited 
to me, and this was all I cared for — to be happy 
in my home and with certain chosen friends. 
We were indifferent to Paris in those days of 
innocence. My highest ambition was that Aries, 
which rose ever on my horizon as did Mantua 
on that of Virgil, should one day recognise my 
poetry as her own. 

Thus, thinking only of the country people of 
the Crau and the Camargue, I could truly say in 
Mireille : 

*' We sing but for you, shepherds and people 
of the farms." 

I had no definite plan in commencing 
Mireille^ except the broad lines of a love-story 
between two beautiful children of Provence, 
both with the temperament of their country 
though of different ranks in life, and to let the 
ball roll in the unpremeditated way that happens 
in real life, apparently at the pleasure of the winds. 

Mireille, the happy name which breathes its 
own poetry, was destined to be that of my heroine, 
for I had heard it in our home from my cradle, 
though nowhere else. 

When old Nanon, my maternal grandmother, 
wished to compliment one of her daughters she 
would say : 


" That is Mireille, the beautiful Mireille of my 
heart ! '' 

And my mother in fun would say sometimes 
of a young girl : M 

'' There, do you see her ? That is the Mireille 
of my heart/' i^ 

But when I questioned concerning Mireille, no 
one could tell me anything ; hers was a lost history 
of which nothing remained but the name of the 
heroine, and a gleam of beauty lost in a mist of 
love. It was enough, however, to bring good 
fortune to a poem, which perhaps — who can tell ? 
— was the reconstruction of a true romance, 
revealed through the intuition granted to the poet. 

The Judge's Farm was at this time the best of 
all soils for the growth of idyllic poetry. Was not 
this epic of Provence, with its background of blue 
and its frame of the Alpilles, living and singing 
around me ? Did I not see Mireille passing, n^ 
only in my dreams of a young man, but also 
actual person ? Now in the sweet village maidei 
who came to gather mulberry leaves for the sill 
worms, now in the charming white-coifed ha}^ 
makers, gleaners and reapers who came and went 
through the corn, the hay, the olives and the vines. 

And the actors of my drama, my labourers, 
harvesters, cowherds and shepherds, did they not 


gladden my eyes from early morn till eve ? Could 
one possibly find a grander prototype for my 
Master Ramon than the patriarch Frangois Mistral, 
he whom all the world, even my mother, called 
*' The Master '' ? My dear father I Sometimes, 
when the work was pressing and help was needed, 
either for the hay or to draw water from the well, 
he would call out, '* Where is Frederic ? '' Perhaps 
at that moment I had crept away under a shel- 
tering willow in pursuit of some flying rhyme, 
and my poor mother would answer : 
" He is writing.'* 

And at once the stern voice of the good man 
would soften as he said : 

'' Then do not disturb him." 
For, having himself read nothing but the 
Scriptures and " Don Quixote," writing in his eyes 
appeared a sort of religious exercise. 

This respect of the unlettered for the mystery 
of the pen is very well shown in the opening of 
one of our popular legends : 

Monseigneur Saint- Anselme was learned and wise, 
One day, by his writing, he rose to the skies, &c. 

Another person who, without knowing it, 
influenced my epic muse was our old cousin 
Tourette, from the village of Mouries ; a sort of 


colossus, strong of limb but lame, with great 
leather gaiters over his boots ; he was known in all 
that part as " The Major/' having, in 1815, served 
as drum-major in the National Guards, under the 
command of the Due d'Angouleme, he who wished 
to arrest Napoleon on his return from the Isle of 
Elba. '' The Major '* had, in his youth, dissipated 
his fortune by gambling, and in his old age, reduced 
to poverty, he came, every winter, to pass some 
time with us at the farm. On his departure, my 
father always saw that he took with him some 
bushels of corn. During the summer time he 
travelled over the Crau and the Camargue, now 
helping the shepherds to shear the sheep, now 
the mowers of the marshes to bind the rushes, 
or the salters to collect and heap up the salt. 
Certainly no one could equal him in knowledge oj 
the country of Aries and its work. He knew thj 
names of every farm, and every pasture, of the hea( 
shepherds, and of each stud of horses or of wil^ 
bulls. And he talked of it all with an eloquenc( 
a picturesqueness, a richness of Provengal expres 
sion which it was a pleasure to hear. Describing 
for instance, the Comte de Mailly as very rich ii 
house property, he would say : *' He possesst 
seven acres of roofing.'' 

The girls who were engaged for the ohve gather- 


ing at Mouries would hire him to tell them stories 
in the evenings. They gave him, I think, each one, 
a halfpenny for the evening. He kept them in fits 
of laughter, for he knew all the stories, more or 
less humorous, that from one to another were 
transmitted among the people, such as '' Jeaa de 
la Vache,'' ^^ Jean de la Mule," ''Jean de TOurs," 
"Le Doreur," &c. 

Directly the snow began to fall we knew " The 
Major'* would soon make his appearance. And 
he never failed. 

'* Good-day, cousin.'* 

'' Cousin, good-day.'* 

And there he was. His hand shaken and his 
stick deposited, unobtrusively he took up his 
accustomed seat in his corner, and, while eating 
a good slice of bread and butter and cheese, he 
would give us the news. 

Cousin Tourette being, like most dreamers, a bit 
of an idler, had all his life dreamt of a remunerative 
post where there would be very little work. 

'' I should like," he told us, '' the situation of 
reckoner of cod-fish. At Marseilles, for instance, 
in one of those big shops where they unload, a 
man can, while seated, earn, so I am told, by 
counting the fish in dozens, his twelve hundred 
francs a year ! " 


Poor old Major! He died, like many another, 
without having realised his cod-fish dream. 

I can never forget either, among those who 
helped me to make the poetry of Mireille, the 
woodcutter Siboul, a fine fellow from Montfrin, 
in a suit of velvet, who came every year towards 
the end of the autumn with his great billhook 
to trim our undergrowth of willow. While he 
worked away busily, what shrewd observations 
he would make to me about the Rhone, its currents, 
eddies, lagoons and bays, the soil and the islands ' 
Also about the animals that frequented the dikes™ 
the otters that lodged in the hollow trees, the 
beavers who work as deftly as woodcutters, the 
birds who suspend their nests from the white 
poplars, besides endless stories of the osier-cutters 
and basket-makers of Vallabreque and thj 

My chief instructor, however, in the botanj 
of Provence was our neighbour Xavier, a peasai 
herbalist, who told me the Provengal names ani 
virtues of all the simples and herbs of Saint-Jeaj 
and of Saint-Roch. And thus I collected such a 
good store of botanical knowledge that, without 
wishing to speak slightingly of the learned pro- 
fessors of our schools, either high or low, I believe 
those gentlemen would have found it difiicult to 


pass the examination I could, for instance, on the 
subject of thistles. 

Suddenly, like a bomb, during this quiet, grow- 
ing time of my Mireille, burst the news of the 
Revolution of December 2, 1851. 

I had never been one of those fanatics to whom 
the Republic meant religion, country, justice — 
everything ; and the Jacobites, by their intolerance, 
their mania for levelling, their hardness, brutality 
and materialism, had disgusted and wounded me 
more than once, and now the action of the Govern- 
ment in uprooting the very law to which they had 
sworn fidelity, filled me with indignation, and 
dissipated once and for all any illusions about 
those future federations which I had once hoped 
would be the outcome of a Republic of France. 

Some of my colleagues from the Law School 
placed themselves at the head of the insurgent 
bands who were raised in Le Var in the name of 
the Constitution ; but the greater number, in 
Provence as elsewhere, some disgusted by the 
turbulence of the opposing party, others dazzled 
by the brilliance of the first Empire, applauded 
the change of Government. Who could have 
foretold that the new Empire would tumble to 
pieces as it did, in a terrible war and national 
wreck ? 


So it came to pass that I abandoned, once an( 
for all, inflammatory politics, even as one castj 
off a burden on the road in order to walk moH 
lightly, and from henceforth I gave myself u] 
entirely to my country and my art — my Provenc( 
from whom I had never received aught but pur^ 

One evening, about this time, withdrawn ii 
contemplation, roaming in quest of my rhymej 
— for I have always found my verses by the higl 
ways and byways — I met an old man tending hil 
sheep. It was the worthy Jean, a character well 
known to me. The sky was covered with stars, 
the screech-owl hooted, and the following dialogue 
took place : 

*' You have wandered far. Mister Frederic,'] 
began the shepherd. 

*' I am taking a little air, Master Jean,'' 

** You are going for a turn among the stars ? 

'^ Master Jean, you have said it. I am s^ 
heartily sick, disillusioned and disheartened wit] 
the things of earth, that I wish to-night to ascen( 
and lose myself in the kingdom of the stars." 

" Well, I myself,'' said he, *' make an excursion 
there nearly every night, and I assure you the 
journey is one of the most beautiful." 


'' But how does one manage to find one's way 
in that unfathomable depth of Hght ? '* 

'' If you would like to follow me, sir, while the 
sheep eat, I will guide you gently and show you all/ ' 

*' Worthy Jean, I take you at your word *' T 
readily agreed. 

*' Now, let us mount by that road which shows 
all white from north to south : it is the road of 
Saint- Jacques. It goes from France straight over 
to Spain. When the Emperor Charlemagne made 
war with the Saracens, the great Saint- Jacques 
of Galice marked it out before him to show him 
the way.'* 

" It is what the pagans called the Milky Way/' 
I observed. 

'* Possibly," he replied with indifference. " I 
tell you what I have always heard. Now, do you 
see that fine chariot with its four wheels which 
dazzles all the north ? That is the Chariot of the 
Souls. The three stars which precede it are the 
three beasts of the team, and the small star which 
is near the third is named the Charioteer." 

" They are what the books call the Great Bear." 

*' As you please — but look, look, all around are 
falling stars — they are the poor souls who have 
just entered Paradise. Make the sign of the 
Cross, Mister Frederic." 


" Beautiful angels, may God be with you ! '' 

'' But see/* he went on, '' a fine star shining 
there, not far from the chariot. It is the drover 
of the skies." 

*' Which in astronomy they call Arcturus.'* 

** That is of no importance. Now look ovei 
there in the north at the star which scarcely 
scintillates : that is the seaman's star, otherwise 
called the Tramontane. She is nearly always 
visible, and serves as a signal to sailors, they think 
themselves lost if they lose the Tramontane.'* 

'' Also called the Polar Star,*' said I ; '' it is 
found in the Little Bear, and as the north wind 
comes from there, the sailors of Provence, like 
those of Italy, say they are going to the Bear 
when they go against that wind.*' 

" Now turn your head,** said the shepherd, 
'' you will see the Chicken-coop twinkling, or^ 
if you like it better, the Brood of Chickens.** 

'* Which the learned have named the Pleiadi 
and the Gascon, the Dog*s Cart.** 

''That's so,** he allowed. ''A Uttle low( 
shine the Signalmen, specially appointed to mark 
the hours for the shepherds. Some call them the 
' Three Kings,* others the ' Three Bells.* ** 

*' Just so, it is Orion and his Belt.** 

'' Very well,** conceded my friend, '' now still 


lower, always towards the meridian, shines Jean 
de Milan." 

" Sirius, if I mistake not/' 

*' Jean de Milan is the torch of the stars,*' he 
continued. ** Jean de Milan had been invited one 
day, with the Signalmen and the Young Chicken, 
50 they say, to a wedding, the wedding of the 
beautiful Maguelone, of whom we will speak again, 
rhe Young Chicken set out, it appears, early, and 
took the high road. The Signalmen, having taken 
1 lower cut, at last arrived there also. Jean de 
Milan slept on, and when he rose took a short 
:ut, and to stop them, threw his stick flying in the 
lir — which caused them to be called ever since, 
by some people, the Stick of Jean de Milan." 

'^ And that one, far away, which is just showing 
its nose above the mountain ? " I inquired. 

** That is the Cripple," he replied. *' He also 
was asked to the wedding, but as he limps, poor 
devil, he goes but slowly. Also, he gets up late 
and goes to bed early." 

'* And that one going down, over there, in the 
west, and shining like a bride ? " I asked. 

'' Ah, that is our own — the Shepherds' Star, 
the Star of the Morning, which lights us at dawn 
when we unfold the sheep, and at sundown when 
we drive them in. That is she, the Queen of 



stars, the beautiful star, Maguelone, the lovely 
Maguelone, pursued unceasingly by Pierre de 
Provence, with whom, every seven years, takes 
place her marriage/* 

'' The conjunction, 1 believe, of Venus and 
Jupiter, or occasionally of Saturn.** 

*' According to taste,** replied my guide — '' but, 
hist, Labrit ! Oh, the rascally dog, the scoundrel ! 
Whilst we talk, the sheep have scattered. Hist, 
bring them back ! I must go myself. Good 
evening. Mister Frederic, take care you do not 
lose yourself.*' 

" Good-night, friend Jean.** 

Let us, also, return, like the shepherd, to our 

About this time, in a publication called Les 
ProvengaleSj to which many Provencal writers, 
old and young, contributed, I and other of the 
younger poets engaged in a correspondence on 
the subject of the language and of our productions. 
The result of these discussions, which became 
extremely animated, was the idea of a Conference 
of Provengal poets. And under the directorship 
of Roumanille and of Gaut, both of whom had beer 
contributors to the journal Lou Boui-Abaisse 
the first meeting was held on August 29, 1852 
at Aries, in a room in the ancient archbishop'^ 


palace, under the presidency of Doctor d' Astros, 
oldest member of the Bards. Here we all met and 
made acquaintance, Aubanel, Aubert, Bourelly, 
Cassan, Crousillat, Desanet, Garcin, Gaut, Gelu, 
Mathieu, Roumanille, myself and others. Thanks 
to the good Carpentrassian, Bonaventure Lau- 
rent, our portraits had the honour of being in 
L Illustration (September 18, 1852). 

Roumanille, when inviting Monsieur Moquin- 
Tandon, professor of the Faculty of Science at 
Toulouse, and a gifted poet in his tongue of Mont- 
pellier, had begged him to bring Jasmin to Aries. 
But the author of " Marthe la foUe,*' the illustrious 
poet of Gascony, answered the invitation of 
Moquin-Tandon : ''Since you are going to Aries, 
tell them they may gather together in forties and 
in hundreds, but they will never make the noise 
that I have made quite alone ! " 

'' That is Jasmin from head to foot ! *' Rou- 
manille said to me. *' That reply reproduces him 
much more faithfully than does the bronze statue 
raised at Agen in his honour." 

In short, the hairdresser of Agen, in spite of his 
genius, was always somewhat surly with those 
who, like himself, wished to sing in our tongue. 
Roumanille, since we are on the subject, some 
years previously, had sent him his '* Paquerettes," 


dedicating to him ''Madeleine/' one of^ the best 
poems of the collection. Jasmin did not even deign 
to thank him . But in 1848, when the Gascon passed 
through Avignon, on the occasion of his assisting 
at a concert given by the harpist, Mademoiselle 
Roaldes, Roumanille and several others went to 
offer their respects afterwards to the poet, who had 
made tears flow as he recited his ''Souvenirs.'* 

'' Who are you then ? " asked Jasmin of the 
poet of Saint-Remy. 

" One of your admirers, Joseph Roumanille." 

*' Roumanille ! — I remember that name. But 
I thought it belonged to a dead author." 

" Monsieur, as you see," answered the author 
of the ' Paquerettes,' who never allowed any one 
to tread on his toes, '* I am young enough, if 
please God, some day to write your epitaph." 

One who was much more gracious to our Coi 
gress at Aries was the good Reboul, who wrote to 
thus : '* May God bless you. May your fights 
feasts, your rivals, friends ! He who created tl 
skies made those of our country so wide and 
blue that there is room for all stars." 

Jules Canonge of Nimes also wrote to us 
" My friends, if you have to battle one day 
for your cause, remember it was at Aries that 
you held your first meeting, and that your torch 


was lit in the proud and noble city which has for 
arms and for motto, ' The sword and the wrath 
of the Hon/ '* 

The Congress at Aries had succeeded too well 
not to be renewed. The following year, on August 
21, 1853, at the suggestion of Gaut, the jovial 
poet of Aix, an assembly was held at that city. 
This '' Festival of the Bards,' ' was twice as large 
as that held at Aries. It was on this occasion 
that Brizeux, the''grand bard of Brittany, addressed 
to us his greetings and his wishes : 

With olive branches shall your heads be crowned ; 

Only the moors have I, where sad flowers blow : 
The one, a sign of peace and joyous round ; 

The other, but a symbol of our woe. 

Let us unite them, friends. Our sons henceforth 
Shall wear these flowers upon their brow no more. 

Nor sound th' entrancing songs of our dear North, 
When we, the faithful few, have gone before. 

Yet, can it die, the fresh and gentle breeze ? 

The storm-winds bear it hence upon their wing. 
But it comes back to kiss the mossy leas. 

Can the song die the nightingale did sing ? 

Nay, nay : our glorious speech in its decline, 
O fair Provence, thou wilt restore and save ! 

Thro* long years yet that errant voice of thine 
Shall sigh, O Merlin, whispering o'er my grave ! 


Besides those I have mentioned as figuring at the 
Congress of Aries, here are the new names that 
appeared at the Congress of Aix : Leon Alegre, 
the Abb6 Aubert, Autheman Bellot, Brunet, 
Chalvet, the Abbe Lambert, Lejourdan, Peyrottes, 
Ricard-Berard, Tavan, Vidal, &c., and three 
poetesses, Mesdemoiselles Reine Garde, Leonide 
Constans, and Hortense Rolland. 

A literary seance was held after lunch in the 
Town Hall, before all the grand world of Aix. The 
big hall was courteously decorated with the colours 
of Provence and the arms of all the Provengal 
towns, and on a banner of crimson velvet were 
inscribed the names of the principal Proven9al 
poets of the last century. 

The Mayor of Aix, who also held the post of 
deputy, was at that time Monsieur Rigaud, the 
same who later made a translation of ^^Mireio" 
into French verse. 

After the overture, sung by a choir to the words 
of Jean-Batiste, and beginning : 

\ Troubadours of Provence 

? ; ^ For us this day is glorious. 

Behold the glad Renaissance 

Of the language of the South ! 

the President d' Astros discoursed delightfully in 


Provengal, and then, in turn, each poet contributed 
some piece of his own. 

Roumanille, much applauded, recited one of 
his tales, and sang '' La Jeune Aveugle ; " 
Aubanel gave us *' Des Jumeaux," and I the 
" Fin du Moissonneur/' But the greatest suc- 
cesses were produced by the song of the peasant 
Tavan, *'Les Frisons de Mariette,*' and the recita- 
tion of the mason Lacroix, who made us all shiver 
with his *' Pauvre Martine/* 

Emile Zola, then a scholar at the College of 
Aix, was present at this meeting, and forty years 
afterwards this is what he said in the discourse 
he gave at the Felibree of Sceaux (1892) : 

'* I was fifteen or sixteen years old, and I can 
see myself as a school-boy escaping from college 
in order to be present in the great room of the 
Town Hall at Aix at a poets* fete, somewhat 
resembling the one I have the honour to preside 
over to-day. Mistral was there, declaiming his 
Fin du Moissonneur ' ; Roumanille and Aubanel 
also, and many others who, a few years later, were 
to be the ' Felibres ' and who were then but 
* Troubadours.' At the banquet that night we 
had the pleasure of raising our glasses to the health 
of old Bellot, who had made a great name, not only 
in Marseilles but throughout Provence, as a comic 



poet, and who, overcome at seeing this outburst 
of patriotic enthusiasm, repHed to us somewhat 
sadly : 

*' ' I am but a bungler. In my poor life I have 
blackened much paper. But Gaut, Mistral, Crou- 
sillat, they who have the fire of youth, will unwind 
the tangled skein of our Proven9al tongue/ *' 


We were a set of youthful spirits at that time in 
Provence, all closely banded together with the 
object of a literary revival for our national tongue. 
We went at it heart and soul. 

Nearly every Sunday, sometimes at Avignon, 
sometimes at Maillane, in the gardens of Saint- 
Remy or on the heights of Chateauneuf, we met 
together for our small intimate festivities, our 
Provengal banquets, at which the poetry was of a 
finer flavour than the meats, and our enthusiasm 
intoxicated a good deal more than the wine. 

It was on these occasions that Roumanille 
regaled us with his '' Noels '' and ** Dreamers " 
freshly coined from the mint, and that Aubanel, 
still holding the faith, but tugging at the leading- 
strings, recited to us his ** Massacre of the Inno- 
cents.'* Mireille also, from time to time, appeared 
in newly turned-out strophes. 

Every year about the Eve of Saint e-Agathe, 
*' the poets,'* as they began to call us, assembled 
at the Judge's Farm, and there for three days 


lived the gypsy's free unfettered life. Saint 
Agathe belongs properly to Sicily, where she is 
often invoked against the fires of Etna, but in 
spite of this she receives great devotion from the 
people of Aries and Maillane, the girls of the village 
regarding it as a coveted honour to serve as 
priestess of her altar, and on the eve of her feas 
before opening the dance on the green, the young 
couples, with their musicians, always commenced 
by giving a serenade to Sainte-Agathe outside 
the parish church. We, with the other gallants 
of the countryside, also went to pay our respects 
to the patroness of Maillane. 

It is a curious thing, this homage offered to 
dead and gone saints, throughout the length 
and breadth of the land, in the north even as i 
the south, and continuing uninterruptedly id 
centuries upon centuries. What a passing and 
ephemeral thing in comparison is the fame an 
homage awarded to the poet, artist, scholar, 
even warrior, remembered as they are by only 
few admirers. Victor Hugo himself will nev 
attain the fame of even the least saint on th 
calendar; take, for example, Saint-Gent, who for 
seven hundred years has seen his thousands of 
faithful flocking annually to his shrine in the 
mountains. No one more readily than Victor 




Hugo recognised this truth, for, asked one day 
by a flatterer what glory in this world could 
excel that which crowned the poet, he answered 
promptly, '* That of the saint.'* 

Mathieu was in great request at the village 
dances, and we all watched him with admiration 
as he danced, now with Villette, now with Gango 
or Lali, my pretty cousins. In the meadow by 
the mill took place the wrestling contests, an- 
nounced by the beating of tambours and pre- 
sided over by old Jesette, the famous champion 
of former days, who, marching up and down, pitted 
one against the other, in strident tones enforcing 
the rules of the game. 

One of us would ask him if he remembered how 
: he had made the wrestler Quequine, or some other 
rival, bite the dust, and once started, the old 
athlete would rehearse with dehght his ancient 
victories, how he floored Bel-Arbre of Aramon, not 
to mention Rabasson, Creste d'Apt and, above all, 
Meissonier, the Hercules of Avignon, before whom 
no one could stand up. Ah, in those days he might 
truly say he had been invincible ! He had gone 
by the name of the '' Little Maillanais " — '' the 

When our poets' reunions were at Saint-Remy 
we met at the house of Roumanille's parents, 


Jean-Denis and Pierrette, well-to-do market- 
gardeners living on their own land. On these 
occasions we dined in the open air under the shade 
of a vine-covered arbour. The best painted 
plates were had out in our honour, while Zine 
and Antoinette, the two sisters of our friend, 
handsome brunettes in their twenties, ministered 
to our wants and served us with the excellent 
hlanquette they had themselves prepared. 

A rugged old soldier was this Jean-Denis, father 
of Joseph Roumanille. He had served under 
Bonaparte, as he somewhat disdainfully called Lhe 
Emperor, had fought in the battle of Waterloo 
and gained the Cross, which, however, in the con- 
fusion following the defeat, he never received 
When his son, in after years, gained a decoratioi 
under MacMahon, he remarked : *' The son recei^ 
what the father earned." " 

The following is the epitaph Roumanille in 
scribed on the tomb of his parents in the cemeter} 
at Saint-Remy : w 

To Jean-Denis Roumanille ^' 

Gardener. A man of worth and courage. 1791-1875. 

And to Pierrette his Spouse 

Good, pious and strong. 1793-1875. 

They lived as Christians and died in peace. 

God keep them. 




Our meetings in Avignon were held at Aubanel's 
home in the street of Saint-Marc, which to-day 
is called by the name of the great Felibre poet. 
The house had formerly been a cardinal* s palace, 
and has since been destroyed in making a new 
street. Just inside the vestibule stood the great 
wooden press with its big screw, which for two 
hundred years had served for printing the parochial 
and educational works of all the State. 

Here we would take up our abode, somewhat 
awed by the odour of sanctity which seemed to 
emanate from those episcopal walls, and even more 
by Jeanneton, the old cook, who eyed us with a 
look which said plainly : " Why, here they are 
again ! '' 

The kindly welcome, however, of our host's 
father, official printer to his Holiness the Pope, 
and the joviality of his uncle, the venerable Canon, 
soon put us at our ease. 

At Brunet's and also Mathieu's we sometimes 
held our revels, but it was at Font-Segugne, pre- 
destined to play an important part in our enter- 
prise, that perhaps we most enjoyed ourselves in 
the charming country house belonging to the 
family of Giera. Paul, the eldest son, was a notary 
at Avignon, and an enthusiastic supporter of our 
movement. His mother, a dignified and gracious 





lady, two sisters, charming, joyous young gir 
and a younger brother, Jules, devoted to the work I 
of the White Penitents, made up the circle of t 
delightful home. 

Font-Segugne is situated near the Camp-Cabel^^ 
facing in the distance the great Ventoux mountain, 
and a few miles from the Fountain of Vaucluse. 
It takes its name from a little spring which runs 
at the foot of the castle. A delicious little copse 
of oaks, acacias and planes protects the place 
from winter winds and the summer sun. 

Tavan, the peasant poet of Gadagne, says of 
Font-Segugne : *' It is the favourite trysting-spot 
of the village lovers on Sundays, for there they find 
a grateful shade, solitude, quiet nooks, little stone 
benches covered with ivy, winding paths among the 
trees, a lovely view, the song of birds, the rustling 
of leaves, the rippling of brooks ! Where better 
than in such a spot can the soHtary wander and 
dream of love, or the happy pair resort, and love ? " 

Here we came, to re-create ourselves like moun- 
tain birds — Roumanille, Mathieu, Brunet, Tavan, 
Crousillat, and, above all, Aubanel, under the spell 
of the eyes of Zani, a fair young friend of the young 
ladies of the house : 

In his *' Livre de FAmour,'' Aubanel drew the 
portrait of his enchantress : 


'' Soon I shall see her — the young maiden with 
her slender form clad in a soft gown of grey — 
with her smooth brow and her beauteous eyes, 
her long black hair and lovely face. Soon I shall 
see her, the youthful virgin, and she will say to me 
' Good evening/ Oh Zani, come quickly ! '' 

In after years, when his Zani had taken 
the veil, he writes of Font-Segugne, recalling the 
past : 

''It is summer — the nights are clear. Over 
the copse the moon mounts and shines down on 
Camp-Cabel. Dost thou remember, behind the 
convent walls, thou with thy Spanish face, how 
we chased each other, running, racing like mad, 
among the trees, till in the dark wood thou wast 
afraid ? And ah, how sweet it was when my arm 
stole round thy slender waist, and to the song of 
the nightingales we danced together, while thou 
didst mingle thy fresh young voice with the notes 
of the birds. Ah, sweet little friend, where are 
they now, those songs and joys ! When tired of 
running, of laughing, of dancing, I remember how 
we sat down beneath the oak-trees to rest. My 
hand, a lover's hand, played with thy long raven 
tresses which, loosened, fell about thee — and 
smiling gently as a mother on her child, thou 
didst not forbid me.'' 


On the walls of the room at the chateau whei 
Zani had once slept, he wrote these Hnes : 

*' O little chamber — dear little chamber 1 Hoi 
small to hold so many remembrances ! As I croj 
the threshold it seems to me I hear them come^i 
those two sweet maids Zani and Julia. But never 
will they sleep again in this little room — those 
days are flown for ever — Julia dwells no more on 
earth, and my Zani is a nun." Ml 

No spot more favourable could have been 
imagined wherein to cradle a glorious dream, to 
bring to flower the bloom of an ideal, than this 
chateau on the hillside, surrounded by the serene 
blue distances, enlivened by these lovely laughing 
maidens and a group of young men vowed to the 
worship of the Beautiful under the three headings 
of Poetry, Love, and Provence, a trinity which 
for them formed always a unity. 

It was written in the stars that one Sunday 
flowers. May 21, 1854, ^t the full tide of spri 
and youth, seven poets should meet at this chatea 
of Font-Segugne. 

Paul Giera, a joking spirit who signed his nam' 
backwards as '' Glaup " ; Roumanille, a pro- 
pagandist who, without appearing to do so, un- 
ceasingly fanned the flame of the sacred fire all 
around him ; Aubanel, converted by Roumanille, 



to our tongue, and who, under the influence of 
love's sun, was at this moment bursting into bloom 
with his '' Pomegranate '' ; Mathieu, lost in visions 
of a reawakened Provence, and, as ever, the 
gallant squire of all fair damsels ; Brunet with his 
face resembling the Christ, dreaming his Utopia 
of a terrestrial Paradise ; and the peasant Tavan, 
who, stretched on the grass, sang all day like the 
cicada ; finally, Frederic, ready to send on the 
wings of the mistral, Hke the mountain shep- 
herds to their flocks, his hailing cry to all brothers 
of the race, and to plant his standard on the 
summit of the Ventoux. 

At dinner, the conversation turned that evening, 
as so often before, on the best means of rescuing 
our language from the decadence into which it 
had fallen since those ruling classes, faithless to 
the honour of Provence, had relegated the language 
to the position of a mere dialect. And, in view of 
the fact that at the last two Congresses, both at 
Aries and at Aix, every attempt on the part of 
the young school of Avignon patriots to rehabili- 
tate the Proven9al tongue had been badly received 
and dismissed, the seven at Font-Segugne deter- 
mined to band together and take the enterprise 
in hand. 

'' And now/* said Glaup, ''as we are forming a 



new body we must have a new name. The old 
one of '* minstrel " will not do, as every rhymer, 
even he who has nothing to rhyme about, adopts 
it. That of troubadour is no better, for, appro- 
priated to designate the poets of a certain period, 
it has been tarnished by abuse. We must find 
something new.'' 

Then I took up the speech : 

'' My friends," said I, '* in an old country 
legend I believe we shall find the predestined 
name.*' And I proceeded : '' His Reverence 
Saint- Anselme, reading and writing one day from 
the Holy Scriptures, was hfted up into the highest 
heaven. Seated near the Infant Christ he beheld 
the Holy Virgin. Having saluted the aged saint, 
the Blessed Virgin continued her discourse to her 
Infant Son, relating how she came to suffer for 
His sake seven bitter wounds .' ' Here I omitted the 
recital of the wounds until I came to the following 
passage : '' The fourth wound that I suffered for 
Thee, O my precious Son, it was when I lost Thee, 
and seeking three days and three nights found 
Thee not until I entered the Temple, where Thou 
wast disputing with the scribes of the Law, with 
the seven ' FeHbres ' of the Law.'' 

'' The seven FeHbres of the Law — but here we 
are ! " cried they all in chorus : " Felibre is the 



Then Glaup, filling up the seven glasses with a 
bottle of Chateauneuf which had been just seven 
years in the cellar, proposed the health of the 
Felibres. ''And since we have begun baptizing/' 
he continued, *' let us adopt all the vocabulary 
which can be legitimately derived from our new 
name. I suggest, therefore, that every branch of 
Felibres numbering not less than seven members 
shall be called a ' Felibrerie,' in memory, gentle- 
men, of the Pleiades of Avignon/' 

"And I," said Roumanille, ''beg to propose 
the pretty verb ' felibriser,' signifying to meet 
together as we are now doing." 

" I wish to add,*' said Mathieu, " the term 
' felibree ' to signify a festivity of Provencal poets." 

" And I," struck in Tavan, " give the adjective 
' felibreen ' to all things descriptive of our move- 

" And to the ladies who shall sing in the tongue 
of Provence I dedicate the name of ^ Felibresse/ " 
said Aubanel. 

Upon which Brunet added promptly : 

" And the children of all Felibres I baptize 
" Felibrillons.' " 

" And let me conclude," I cried, " with this 
national word, ' Felibrige,* which shall dCvSignate 
our work and association." 

Then Glaup took up the speech again : 


" But this is not all, my friends — behold us, 
' the wise ones of the Law ' — but how about the 
Law ? Who is going to make it ? '* 

" I am/' I answered unhesitatingly, " even if I 
have to give twenty ^^ears of my life to it ; I will 
undertake to show that our speech is a language, 
not a dialect, and I will reconstruct the laws on 
which it was once formed/' 

How strange it seems to look back on that scene 
— like some fairy-tale, and yet it was from that day 
of light-hearted festivity, of youthful ideals and 
enthusiasms, that sprang the gigantic task com- 
pleted in the "Treasury of the Felibres," * a 

* Monsieur Paul Marieton in his ** Terre Provengale " says 
of this work : " The history of a people is contained in this 
book. No one can ever know what devotion, knowledge, dis- 
crimination and intuition such a work represents, undertaken 
and concluded as it was during the twenty best years of a 
poet's life. All the words of the Oc language in its seven 
different dialects, each one compared with its equivalent in 
the Latin tongue, all the proverbs and idioms of the South 
together with every characteristic expression either in use 01 
long since out of vogue, make up this incomparable Thesaurus 
of a tenacious language, which is no more dead to-day than i1 
was three hundred years ago, and which is now reconquering 
the hearts of all the faithful.' ' This " Treasury of the Felibres ' 
opens with the following lines : 

" O people of the South, hearken now to my words : 
*' If thou would'st regain the lost Empire of thy speed 
and equip thyself anew, dig deep in this mine." 

Mme. Frederic Mistral, ist Queen of the Felibres. 



dictionary of the Provencal tongue, including 
every variety of derivation and idiom, a work to 
which I devoted twenty years of my Hfe. 

In the Proven gal Almanac for 1855, Paul 
Giera writes : 

'' When the Law is completed which is being 
now prepared by one of our number, and which 
will clearly set forth the why and wherefore of 
everything, all opponents will be finally silenced/' 

It was on this memorable occasion at Font- 
Segugne that we also decided on a small annual 
publication which should be a connecting-link 
between all Felibres, the standard-bearer of our 
ideas, and a means of communicating them to 
the people. 

Having settled all these points, we suddenly 
bethought us that this same May 21 was no other 
than the Feast of the Star (Saint-Estelle), and 
even as the Magi, recognising the mystic influx 
of some high conjunction, we saluted the Star 
so opportunely presiding over the cradle of our 

That same year, 1855, appeared the first number 
of the Provengal Almanac^ numbering 112 pages. 
And conspicuous among the contributions was 
our *' Song of the Felibres,'* which set forth the 
programme of our popular Renaissance, 



The Provencal Almanac, welcomed by the 
country-people, delighted in by the patriots, 
highly favoured by the learned and eagerly looked 
forward to by the artistic, rapidly gained a footing 
with the public, and the publication, which the 
first year had numbered five hundred copies, 
quickly increased to twelve hundred, three thou- 
sand, five, seven, and then ten thousand, which 
figure remained the lowest average during a period 
of from fifteen to twenty years. 

As this periodical was essentially one for thj 
family circle, this figure represents, I should judg( 
at least fifty thousand readers. It is impossib] 
to give any idea of the trouble, devotion and pric 
which both Roumanille and I bestowed unceasinglj 
on this beloved little work during the first fort] 
years. Without mentioning the numerous poeml 
which were published in it, and those Chronicles 
wherein were contained the whole history of the 
Felibre movement, the quantity of tales, legends, 
witticisms, and j okes culled from all parts of the 


country made this publication a unique collection. 
The essence of the spirit of our race was to be found 
here, with its traditions and characteristics, and 
were the people of Provence to one day disappear, 
their manner of living and thinking would be redis- 
covered, faithfully portrayed such as they were, in 
this Almanac of the Felibres. 

Roumanille has published in a separate volume, 
'' Tales of Provence,*' the flower of those attrac- 
tive stories he contributed in profusion to the 
Almanac. I have never collected my tales, but 
will here give a few specimens of those which were 
among the most popular of my contributions, and 
which have been widely circulated in translations 
by Alphonse Daudet, Paul Arene, E. Blavat, and 
other good friends. 



Master Archimbaud was nearly a hundred years 
old. He had been formerly a rugged man of war, 
but now, crippled and paralysed with age, he never 
left his bed, being unable to move. 


Old Master Archimbaud had three sons. 
One morning he called the eldest to him and 
said : 

'' Come here, Archimbalet ! While lying quiet 
in my bed and meditating, for the bedridden have 
time for reflection, I remembered that once in the 
midst of a battle, finding myself in mortal danger, 
I vowed if God delivered me to go on a pilgrimage 
to Rome. . . . Alas, I am as old as earth ! 
and can no longer go on a journey ; I wish, my son, 
that thou wouldst make that pilgrimage in my 
stead ; sorely it troubles me to die without accom- 
plishing my vow." 

The eldest son replied : 

'' What the devil has put this into your head, 
a pilgrimage to Rome and I don't know where else ! 
Father, eat, drink, lie still in your bed and say as 
many Paternosters as you please ! but the rest 
of us have something else to do/' 

The next morning. Master Archimbaud called 
to him his second son : 

*' Listen, my son,*' he said; " meditating he 
on my bed and reviewing the past — for, seest tho 
in bed one has leisure for thinking — I remembered 
that once, in a fight, finding myself in mortal 
danger, I vowed to God to make the great j ourney 
to Rome . . . , Alas ! I a,m old as earth I I can 



no longer go to the wars. Greatly I desire that 
thou wouldest in my stead make the pilgrimage 
to Rome." 

The second son replied : 

" Father, in two weeks we shall have the hot 
weather ! Then the fields must be ploughed, 
the vines dressed, the hay cut. Our eldest must 
take the flocks to the mountains ; the youngest is 
nought but a boy. Who will give the orders if I 
go to Rome, idling by the roads ? Father, eat, 
sleep, and leave us in peace." 

Next morning good Master Archimband called 
his youngest son : 

" Esperit, my child, approach," said he; ''I 
promised the good God to make a pilgrimage to 
Rome. . . . But I am old as earth ! I can no 
longer go to the wars. ... I would gladly send 
thee in my place, poor boy. But thou art too 
young, thou dost not know the way ; Rome is 
very far, my God ! should some misfortune over- 
take thee . . . ! " 

*' My father, I will go," answered the youth. 

But the mother cried : 

*' I will not have thee go ! This old dotard, 
with his war and his Rome, will end by getting on 
our nerves ; not content with grumbling, com- 
plaining and moaning the whole year through, he 


will send now this poor dear innocent where 
will only get lost.*' 

*' Mother/* said the young son, " the wish 
a father is an order from God ! When God coi 
mands, one must go." 

And Esperit, without further talk, went and filh 
a small gourd with wine, took some bread and 
onions in his knapsack, put on his new shoes, chose 
a good oaken stick from the wood-house, threw his 
cloak over his shoulder, embraced his old father, 
who gave him much good advice, bade farewell 
to all his relations, and departed. 


But before taking the road, he went devoutly 
to hear the blessed Mass ; and was it not wonder- 
ful that on leaving the church he found on the 
threshold a beautiful youth who addressed hij 
in these words : 

*' Friend, are you not going to Rome ? " 
I am,'* said Esperit. 

And I also, comrade : If it pleases you, we 
could make the journey together.** 

'' Willingly, my friend.** 

Now this gracious youth was an angel sent by 
God. Esperit and the angel then set forth on 

Felix Gras. Poet and Felibre. 


[le road to Rome ; and thus, joyfully, through sun- 
hine and shower, begging their bread and singing 
salms, the little gourd at the end of a stick, 
hey arrived at last in the city of Rome. 

Having rested, they paid their devotions at the 
reat church of Saint Peter, they visited in turn 
he basilicas, the chapels, the oratories, the sanc- 
uaries, and all the sacred monuments, kissed the 
elics of the Apostles Peter and Paul, of the virgins, 
he martyrs, and also of the true Cross, and finally, 
)efore leaving, they saw the Pope, who gave them 
ids blessing. 

Then Esperit with his companion went to rest 
mder the porch of Saint Peter, and Esperit fell 
Lsleep. Now in his sleep the pilgrim saw in a 
iream his mother and his brothers burning in hell, 
md he saw himself with his father in the eternal 
;lory of the Paradise of God. 

'' Alas ! if this is so," he cried, " I beseech thee, 
ny God, that I may take out of the flames my 
nother, my poor mother, and my brothers ! " 

And God replied : 

*' As for thy brothers, it is impossible, for they 
lave disobeyed my commandments ; but thy 
nother, perhaps, if thou canst, before her death, 
Tiake her perform three charities." 

Then Esperit awoke. The angel had disappeared. 


In vain he waited^ searched for him, inquired 
after him, nowhere could he be found, and Esperit 
was obUged to leave Rome all alone. 

He went toward the sea- coast, where he picked 
up some shells with which he ornamented his cloak 
and his hat, and from there, slowly, by high roads 
and by-paths, valleys, and mountains, begging 
and praying, he came again to his own country. 

It was thus he arrived at last at his native place 
and his own home. He had been away about two 
years. Haggard and wasted, tanned, dusty, ragged 
and bare-foot, with his little gourd at the end of 
his staff, his rosary and his shells, he was unrecog- 
nisable. No one knew him as he made his way 
to the paternal door and, knocking, said gently : 

" For God's sake, I pray of your charity give to 
the poor pilgrim.** 

** Oh what a nuisance you are ! Every day some 
of you pass here — a set of vagabonds, scamps, and 
vagrants I '* 

'* Alas ! my spouse,** said the poor old Archim- 
baud from his bed, '' give him something : who 
knows but our son is perhaps even at this moment 
in the same need ! ** 


Then the woman, though still grumbling, went 
off, and cutting a hunk of bread, gave it to the 
poor beggar. 

The following day the pilgrim returned again 
to the door of his parents' house, saying : 

'' For God's sake, my mistress, give a little 
charity to the poor pilgrim." 

*' What ! you are here again ! " cried the old 
woman. " You know very well I gave to you 
yesterday — these gluttons would eat one out of 
house and home." 

'' Alas, good wife ! " interposed the good old 
Archimbaud, '' didst thou not eat yesterday and 
yet thou hast eaten again to-day ? Who knows 
but our son may be in the same sad plight ! " 

And again his wife relenting went off and fetched 
a slice of bread for the poor beggar. 

The next day Esperit returned again to his home 
and said : 

" For God's sake, my mistress, grant shelter 
to the poor pilgrim." 

'' Nay," cried the hard old body, ''be off with 
you and lodge with the ragamuffins ! " 

" Alas, wife ! " interposed again the good old 
Archimbaud, '' give him shelter : who knows if 
our own child, our poor Esperit, is not at this very 
hour exposed to the severity of the storm." 



'' Ah, yes, thou art right," said the moth( 
softening, and she went at once and opened thT 
door of the stable ; then poor Esperit entered, a] 
on the straw behind the beasts he crouched do^ 
in a corner. 

At early dawn the following morning the motheF 
and brothers of Esperit went to open the stable 
door. . . . Behold the stable was all illumined, 
and there lay the pilgrim, stiff and white in death, 
while four tall tapers burned around him. The 
straw on which he was stretched was glistening, 
the spiders* webs, shining with rays, hung from the 
beams above, like the draperies of a mortuary 
chapel. The beasts of the stall, mules and oxen, 
pricked up startled ears, while their great eyes 
brimmed with tears. A perfume of violets filled 
the place, and the poor pilgrim, his face all glorious, 
held in his clasped hands a paper on which w^ 
written : '* I am your son.'' ■! 

Then all burst into tears, and falling on their 
knees, made the sign of the cross : Esperit was 
henceforth a saint. 

(Almanack Provencal , 1879.) 



Jarjaye, a street-porter of Tarascon, having just 
died, with closed eyes fell into the other world. 
Down and down he fell ! Eternity is vast, pitch- 
black, limitless, lugubrious. Jarjaye knew not 
where to set foot, all was uncertainty, his teeth 
chattered, he beat the air. But as he wandered 
in the vast space, suddenly he perceived in the 
distance, a light, it was far off, very far off. He 
directed himself towards it ; it was the door of the 
good God. 

Jarjaye knocked, bang, bang, on the door. 

" Who is there ? '' asked Saint Peter. 

*' It's me ! '' answered Jarjaye. 

" Who— thou ? " 

'' Jarjaye of Tarascon ? '* 

'' That's it— himself ! " 

'' But you good-for-nothing," said Saint Peter, 
" how have you the face to demand entrance into 
the blessed Paradise, you who for the last twenty 
years have never said your prayers, who, when 
they said to you, ' Jarjaye, come to Mass,' answered 
' I only go to the afternoon Mass ! ' thou, who in 
derision calledst the thunder, * the drum of the 


snails ; ' thou did'st eat meat on Fridays, saying 
' What does it matter, it is flesh that makes flesh 
what goes into the body cannot hurt the soul ; 
thou who, when they rang the Angelus, instead o 
making the sign of the cross like a good Christian 
cried mocking, ' A pig is hung on the bell ' ; thoi 
who, when thy father admonished thee, ' Jarjaye 
God will surely punish thee,' answered, ' The goo( 
God, who has seen him ? Once dead one is wel 
dead/ Finally, thou who didst blaspheme an^ 
deny the holy oil and baptism, is it possible tha 
thou darest to present thyself here ? '' 

The unhappy Jarjaye replied : 

*' I deny nothing, I am a sinner. But who coul 
know that after death there would be so man 
mysteries ! Any way, yes, I have sinned. Th 
medicine is uncorked — if one must drink it, wh 
one must. But at least, great Saint Peter, k 
me see my uncle for a little, just to give him 
latest news from Tarascon.'' 

"What uncle?'' 

'' My Uncle Matery, he who was a White Pj 

*' Thy Uncle Matery ! He is undergoing 
hundred years of purgatory ! " 

*' Malediction ! a hundred years ! Why wH!' 
had he done amiss ? " 


*' Thou remember est that he carried the cross 
n the procession. One day some wicked jesters 
;ave each other the word, and one of them said. 
Look at Matery, who is carrying the cross ; ' and 
L little further another repeated, * Look at Matery, 
vho is carrying the cross/ and at last another 
.aid like this, ' Look, look at Matery, what is he 
;arrying ? ' Matery got angry, it appears, and 
inswered, ' A jackanapes like thee/ And forth- 
vith he had a stroke and died in his anger/' 

'' Well then, let me see my Aunt Dorothee, who 
vas very, very religious/' 

*' Bah ! she must be with the devil, I don't know 


" It does not astonish me in the least that she 
should be with the devil, for in spite of being so 
ievout and religious, she was spiteful as a viper, 
fust imagine " 

" Jarjaye, I have no leisure to listen to thee : I 
nust go and open to a poor sweeper whose ass has 
ust sent him to Paradise with a kick." 

" Oh, great Saint Peter, since you have been so 
and, and looking costs nothing, I beg you let me 
ust peep into the Paradise which they say is 
'>o beautiful." 

*' I will consider it — presently, ugly Huguenot 
:hat thou art ! " 


*' Now come, Saint Peter, just remember that 
down there at Tarascon my father, who is a fisher- 
man, carries your banner in the procession, and 
with bare feet '' 

*' All right,'* said the saint, '' for your father's 
sake I will allow it, but see here, scum of the earth, 
it is understood that you only put the end of your 
nose inside/' 

'' That is enough." 

Then the celestial porter half opening the door 
said to Jarjaye : 

'' There— look." 

But he, suddenly turning his back, stepped into 
Paradise backwards. 

" What are you doing ? " asked Saint Peter. 

" The great light dazzles me," replied the 
Tarasconais, *' I must go in backwards. But. 
as you ordered, when I have put in my nose 
be easy, I will go no further." ^| 

Now, thought he, delighted, I have got my nose 
in the hay. 

The Tarasconais was in Paradise. 

" Oh," said he, *' how happy one feels ! hov\ 
beautiful it is ! What music ! " 

After a moment the doorkeeper said : 

*' When you have gaped enough, you will go out 
for I have no more time to waste." 




*' Don't you worry/* said Jarjaye. *' If you 
have anything to do, go about your business. I 
will go out when I will go out. I am not the least 
in a hurry.'* 

" But that was not our agreement ! '' 

*' My goodness, holy man, you seem very dis- 
tressed ! It would be different if there were not 
plenty of room. But thank God, there is no 
squash ! " 

*' But I ask you to go, for if the good God were 
to pass by '' 

** Oh ! you arrange that as you can. I have 
always heard, that he who finds himself well off, 
had better stay. I am here — so I stay." 

Saint Peter frowned and stamped. He went to 
find St. Yves. 

'' Yves," he said, '' You are a barrister — you 
must give me an opinion." 

" Two if you like," replied Saint Yves. 

'' I am in a nice fix ! This is my dilemma," 
and he related all. ''Now what ought I to 
do ? " 

'' You require," said Saint Yves, *' a good 
solicitor, and must then cite by bailiff the said 
Jarjaye to appear before God." 

They went to look for a good solicitor, but no 
one had ever seen such a person in Paradise. They 


asked for a bailiff — still more impossible to find. 
Saint Peter was at his wits' end. 

Just then Saint Luke passed by. 

'* Peter, you look very melancholy ! Has our 
Lord been giving you another rebuke ? '* 

'' Oh, my dear fellow, don't talk of it — I am in 
the devil of a fix, do you see. A certain Jarjaye 
has got into Paradise by a trick, and I don't know 
how to get him out." 

" Where does he come from, this Jarjaye?" 

*' From Tarascon." 

'* A Tarasconais ? " cried Saint Luke. '' Oh ! 
what an innocent you are ! There is nothing, 
nothing easier than to make him go out. Being, 
as you know, a friend of cattle, the patron of cattle- 
drovers, I am often in the Camargue, Aries, 
Beaucaire, Nimes, Tarascon, and I know that 
people. I have studied their peculiarities, and^ 
how to manage them. Come — you shall see." 

At that moment there went by a flight of cherul 

'* Little ones ! " called Saint Luke, '' h( 
here ! " 

The cherubs descended. 

'' Go quietly outside Paradise — and when y\ 
get in front of the door, run past crying out 
* The oxen — the oxen ! ' " 

So the cherubs went outside Paradise and whei 


they were in front of the door they rushed past 
crying, *' Oxen, oxen ! Oh see, see the cattle- 
drover ! *' 

Jarjaye turned round, amazed. 

'' Thunder ! What, do they drive cattle here ? 
I am off ! " he cried. 

He rushed to the door like a whirlwind and, 
poor idiot, went out of Paradise. 

Saint Peter quickly closed the door and locked 
it, then putting his head out of the grating : 

** Well, Jarjaye,'* he called jeeringly, '' how do 
you find yourself now ? *' 

*'0h, it doesn't matter," replied Jarjaye. *' If 
they had really been cattle I should not have 
regretted my place in Paradise i " 

And so saying he plunged, head foremost, into 
the abyss. 

{Almanack Provenfal, 1864.) 


Young Pignolet, journeyman carpenter, nick- 
named the " Flower of Grasse," one afternoon 
in the month of June returned in high spirits 



from making his tour of France. The heat waS 
overpowering. In his hand he carried his stick 
furbished with ribbons, and in a packet on his 
back his implements (chisels, plane, mallet) folded 
in his working-apron. Pignolet climbed the wide 
road of Grasse by which he had descended when h^l 
departed some three or four years before. On 
his way, according to the custom of the Com- 
panions of the Guild of Duty, he stopped at 
Sainte-Baume " the tomb of Master Jacques, 
founder of the Association. After inscribing 
his surname on a rock, he descended to Saint- 
Maximin, to pay his respects and take his colours 
from Master Fabre, he who inaugurates the 
Sons of Duty. Then, proud as Caesar, his ker- 
chief on his neck, his hat smart with a bunch of 
many-coloured ribbons, and hanging from his ears 
two little compasses in silver, he valiantly stro 
on through a cloud of dust, which powdered hi 
from head to foot. 

What a heat ! Now and again he looked at t 
fig-trees to see if there was any fruit, but they we 
not yet ripe. The lizards gaped in the scorched 
grass, and the foolish grasshopper, on the dusty 
olives, the bushes and long grass, sang madly in 
the blazing sun. 

'' By all the Saints, what heat ! '' Pignolet 


ejaculated at intervals. Having some hours pre- 
viously drank the last drop from his gourd, he 
panted with thirst, and his shirt was soaking. 
''But forwards!'' he said. ''Soon we will be 
at Grasse. Oh heavens, what a blessing 1 what a 
joy to embrace my father, my mother, and to 
drink from a jug of water of the spring of Grasse ! 
Then to tell of my tour through France and to 
kiss Mion on her fresh cheeks, and, soon as the 
feast of the Madeleine arrives to marry her, and 
never leave home any more. Onward, Pignolet — 
only another little step ! " 

At last he is at the entrance to Grasse, and in 
four strides at his father's workshop. 


*' My boy ! Oh, my fine boy," cried the old 
Pignol, leaving his work, ''welcome home. Mar- 
guerite ! the youngster is here ! Run, draw some 
wine, prepare a meal, lay the cloth. Oh ! the 
blessing to see thee home again ! How art thou ? " 

*' Not so bad, God be thanked. And all of you, 
at home, father, are you thriving ? " 

'' Oh ! like the poor old things we are . . . but 
hasn't he grown tall, the youngster ! " And all the 
world embraced him, father, mother, neighbours, 

#• , ,w, '<< 

; : I « I t,l^ 



friends, and the girls ! They took his packe 
from him and the children fingered admiringlj 
the fine ribbons on his hat and walking-stick 
The old Marguerite, with brimming eyes, quickh 
lighted the stove with a handful of chips, anc 
while she floured some dried haddock wherewitl 
to regale the young man, the old man sat down a 
a table with his son, and they drank to his happ] 
return, clinking glasses. 

*' Now here,'* began old Master Pignol, " in les 
than four years thou hast finished thy tour o 
France and behold thee, according to thy account 
passed and received as Companion of the Guild o 
Duty ! How everything changes ! In my time i 
required seven years, yes, seven good years, t* 
achieve that honour. It is true, my son, that ther 
in the shop I gave thee a pretty good training, an( 
that for an apprentice, already thou didst no 
handle badly the plane and the jointer. But an; 
way, the chief thing is thou shouldst know th; 
business, and thou hast, so at least I believe, no\ 
seen and known all that a fine fellow should knovi 
who is son of a master.' ' 

" Oh father, as for that,'' replied the young mar 
" without boasting, I think nobody in the cai 
penter's shop could baffle me." 

'' Very well," said the old man, '' see here whil 


the cod-fish is singing in the pot, just relate to me 
what were the finest objects thou didst note in 
running round the country ? '* 


** To begin with, father, you know that on first 
leaving Grasse, I went over to Toulon where I 
entered the Arsenal. It's not necessary to tell 
you all that is inside there, you have seen it as 
well as I." 

" Yes, pass on, I know it." 

'* After leaving Toulon I went and hired myself 
out at Marseilles, a fine large town, advantageous 
for the workman, where some comrades pointed 
out to me, a sea-horse which serves as a sign at 
an inn/' 

'' Well ? '' 

'' Faith, from there, I went north to Aix, where 
I admired the sculptures of the porch of Saint- 

*' I have seen that." 

'' Then, from there, we went to Aries, and we 
saw the roof of the Commune of Aries." 

'* So well constructed that one cannot imagine 
how it holds itself in the air." 

'* From Aries, my father, we went to the city 


of Saint-Gille, and there we saw the famous 

*' Yes, yes, a wonder both in structure and out- 
Hne. Which shows us, my son, that in other days 
as well as to-day there were good workmen.'* 

'' Then we directed our steps from Saint-Gille 
to Montpellier, and there they showed us the cele- 
brated Shell . . . ." 

'' Oh yes — which is in the Vignolle, and the 
book calls it the ' horn of Montpellier/ '* 

'' That's it ; and from there we marched to 

" Ah ! that is what I was waiting f or ! " 

'* But why, my father ? At Narbonne I saw 
the * Three Nurses,' and then the Archbishop's 
palace, also the wood carvings in the church oj 

" And then ? " 

'' My father, the song says nothing more than] 

'' ' Carcassone and Narbonne are two vei 
good towns, to take on the way to Beziers ; Pezem 
is quite nice; but the prettiest girls are 
MontpeUier.' " 

'' Why bungler ! Didst thou not see the Frog ? 

'' But what frog ? " 

" The Frog which is at the bottom of the foi 
of the church of Saint Paul. Ah ! I am no longeF 


surprised that thou hast finished so quickly thy 
tour of France, booby ! The frog at Narbonne ! 
the masterpiece which men go to see from all the 
ends of the earth ! And this idiot/' cried the old 
Pignol getting more and more excited, ^' this 
wicked waster, who gives himself out as 'com- 
panion,' has not even seen the Frog at Narbonne ! 
Oh ! that a son of a master should have to hang 
his head for shame in his father's house. No, my 
son, never shall that be said. Now eat, drink, and 
go to thy bed, but to-morrow morning, if thou 
wilt be on good terms with me, return to Narbonne 
and see the Frog ! " 


Poor Pignolet knew that his father was not one 
to retract and that he was not joking. So he ate, 
drank, went to bed, and the next morning, at 
dawn, without further talk, having stocked his 
knapsack with food, he started off to Narbonne. 

With his feet bruised and swollen, exhausted 
by heat and thirst, along the dusty roads and 
highway tramped poor Pignolet. 

At the end of seven or eight days he arrived at 
the town of Narbonne, from whence, according 
to the proverb, '' comes no good wind and no good 


person." Pignolet — he was not singing this tim( 
let it be understood — without taking the time t 
eat a mouthful or drink a drop at the inn, at one 
walked off to the church of Saint-Paul and straigl 
to the font to look at the Frog. 

And truly there in the marble vase, beneath th 
clear water, squatted a frog with reddish spot 
so well sculptured that he seemed alive, looking u] 
with a bantering expression in his two yellow ey< 
at poor Pignolet, come all the way from Grasj 
on purpose to see him. 

*' Ah, little wretch ! " cried the carpenter : 
sudden wrath. *' Thou hast caused me to tran: 
four hundred miles beneath that burning sur 
Take that and remember henceforth Pignolet 
Grasse ! '' fl 

And therewith the bully draws from his kna 
sack a mallet and chisel. Bang ! — at a stroke 1 
takes off one of the frog's legs ! They say th 
the holy water became suddenly red as thou^ 
stained with blood, and that the inside of the for 
since then, has remained reddened. 

(Almanack Proveufal, 189 





Once upon a time there lived at Monteux, the 
village of the good Saint-Gent and of Nicolas 
Saboly, a girl fair and fine as gold. They called 
her Rose. She was the daughter of an inn- 
keeper. And as she was good and sang like an 
angel, the cure of Monteux placed her at the head 
of the choristers of his church. 

It happened one year that, for the feast of the 
patron Saint of Monteux, the father of Rose 
engaged a solo singer. 

This singer, who was young, fell in love with the 
fair Rose, and faith, she fell in love with him. 
Then, one fine day, these two children, without 
much ado, were married, and the little Rose 
became Madame Bordas. Good-bye to Monteux ! 
They went away together. Ah ! how delightful it 
was, free as the air and young as the bubbling 
spring of water, to live without a care, in the full 
tide of love, and sing for a living. 

The beautiful fete where Rose first sang was 
that of Sainte-Agathe, the patroness of Maillane. 

It was at the Cafe de la Paix (now Cafe du 
Soleil), and the room was full as an egg. Rose, 
not more frightened than a sparrow on a wayside 



willow, stood straight up on the platform, with h 
fair hair, and pretty bare arms, her husband at 
her feet accompanying her on the guitar. The 
place was thick with smoke, for it was full of pea- 
sants, from Graveson, Saint-Remy, Eyrague, be- 
sides those of Maillane. But one heard not a 
word of rough language. They only said : 

'' Isn't she pretty ! And such a fine style ! 
She sings like an organ 1 and she does not come 
from afar — only just from Monteux.'' 

It is true that Rose only gave them beautiful 
songs. She sang of her native land, the flag, 
battles, liberty and glory, and with such pas- 
sionate fervour and enthusiasm it stirred all 
hearts. Then, when she had finished she cried, 
'* Long live Saint Gent ! '' 

Applause followed enough to bring down the 
house. The girl descended among the audience 
and smiling, made the collection. The sous 
rained into the wooden bowl, and smiling and 
content as though she had a hundred thousand 
francs, she poured the money into her husband's 
guitar, saying to him : 

'' Here — see — if this lasts, we shall soon be 
rich ! " 



When Madame Bordas had done all the fetes 
of our neighbourhood, she became ambitious to 
try the towns. There, as in the villages, the 
Montelaise shone. She sang '' la Pologne " with 
her flag in her hand, she put into it so much soul, 
such emotion, that she made every one tremble 
with excitement. 

At Avignon, at Cette, Toulouse and Bordeaux 
she was adored by the people. At last she said : 

''Now only Paris remains." 

So she went to Paris. Paris is the pinnacle to 
which all aspire. There as in the provinces she 
soon became the idol of the people. 

It was during the last days of the Empire; 
'the chestnut was commencing to smoke,' and 
Rose Bordas sang the Marseillaise. Never had a 
singer given this song with such enthusiasm, 
such frenzy; to the workmen of the barri- 
cades she represented an incarnation of joyous 
liberty, and Tony Revillon, a Parisian poet of 
the day, wrote of her in glowing strains in 
the newspaper. 



Then, alas ! came quickly, one on the heels of the 
other, war, defeat, revolution, and siege, followed 
by the Commune and its devil's train. The 
foolish Montelaise, lost in it all as a bird in the 
tempest, intoxicated by the smoke, the whirl, the 
favour of the populace, sang to them '' Marianne " 
like a little demon. She would have sung in the 
water — still better in the fire. 

One day a riot surrounded her in the street and 
carried her off like a straw to the palace of the 

The reigning populace were giving a fete ir 
the Imperial salon. Arms, black with powder 
seized '* Marianne " — for Madame Bordas wa: 
Marianne to them — and mounted her on the thron< 
in the midst of red flags. 

** Sing to us,'* they cried, *' the last song tha 
shall echo round the walls of this accursed palace.' 

And the little Montelaise, with a red cap on he 
fair hair, sang — *' La Canaille." 

A formidable cry of *' Long live the Republic ! ' 
followed the last refrain, and a solitary voice 
lost in the crowd, sang out in answer, '' Viv 
Sant Gent." 


Rose could not see for the tears which brimmed 
n her blue eyes and she became pale as death. 

'' Open, give her air ! *' they cried, seeing that 
,he was about to faint. 

Ah no ! poor Rose, it was not air she needed, it 
i rvas Monteux, it was Saint Gent in the mountains 
i ind the innocent joy of the fetes of Provence. 
I The crowd, in the meanwhile, with its red flags 
went off shouting through the open door. 

Over Paris, louder and louder, thundered the 
:annonade, sinister noises ran along the streets, 
prolonged fusillades were heard in the distance, 
the smell of petroleum was overpowering, and 
before very long tongues of fire mounted from 
the Tuileries up to the sky. 

Poor little Montelaise ! No one ever heard of 
her again. 

{Almanack Provenpal^ 1873.) 


The Mayor of Gigognan invited me, last year, 
to his village festivity. We had been for seven 
years comrades of the ink-horn at the school of 
Avignon, but since then had never met. 

*' By the blessing of God," he cried on seeing 


me, '' thou art just the same, Uvely as a bl 
bottle, handsome as a new penny — straight as an 
arrow — I would have known thee in a thousanc^ 

'' Yes, I am just the same,'* I replied, " or^ 
my sight is a little shorter, my temples a little 
wrinkled, my hair a little whitened, and — when 
there is snow on the hills, the valleys are seldom 

" Bah ! '* said he, '* my dear boy, the old bull 
runs on a straight track, only he who desires it 
grows old. Come, come to dinner." 

According to time-honoured custom a village 
fete in Provence is the occasion for real feasting 
and my friend Lassagne had not failed to prepare 
such a lordly feast as one might set before a king 
Dressed lobster, fresh trout from the Sorgue 
nothing but fine meats and choice wines, a little 
glass to whet the appetite at intervals, beside^ 
liqueurs of all sorts, and to wait on us at tabl 
young girl of twenty who — I will say no more 

We had arrived at the dessert, when all at once 
we heard in the street the cheering buzz of th( 
tambourine. The youth of the place had come 
according to custom, to serenade the mayor. 

*' Open the door, Fran^onnette," cried th( 
worthy man. ** Go fetch the hearth-cakes ane 
come, rinse out the glasses." 


Mistral and his dog Pax-Perdu. 


In the meanwhile the musicians banged away 
at their tambourines. When they had finished, 
the leaders of the party with flowers in their button- 
holes entered the room together with the town- 
clerk proudly carrying high on a pole the prizes 
prepared for the games, and followed by the 
dancers of the farandole and a crowd of girls. 

The glasses were filled with the good wine of 
AUcante. All the cavaliers, each one in his turn, 
cut a slice of cake, and clicked glasses all round 
to the health of his Worship the Mayor. Then his 
Worship the Mayor, when all had drunk and joked 
for a while, addressed them thus : 

'* My children, dance as much as you like, amuse 
yourselves as much as you can, and be courteous 
to all strangers. You have my permission to do 
anything you like, except fight or throw stones.** 

'' Long live Monsieur Lassagne ! '* cried the 
young people. They went off and the faran- 
dole commenced. When we were alone again I 
inquired of my friend : 

" How long is it that thou hast been Mayor of 
Gigognan ? '* 

'' Fifty years, my dear fellow." 

** Seriously ? Fifty years ? " 

'* Yes, yes, it is fifty years. I have seen eleven 
governments, my boy, and I do not intend to die, 


if the good God helps me, until I have buried 
another half-dozen/' 

'* But how hast thou managed to keep thy sash * 
amidst so much confusion and revolution ? '* 

'' Eh ! my good friend, there is the asses' bridge. 
The people, the honest folk, require to be lec^. 
But in order to lead them it is necessary to have 
the right method. Some sa}^ drive with the rein 
tight. Others, drive with the rein loose ; but I — 
do you • know what I say ? — take them along 

Look at the shepherds ; the good shepherds 
are not those who have always a raised stick ; 
neither are they those that lie down beneath a 
willow and sleep in the corner of the field. The 
good shepherd is he who walks quietly ahead of 
his flock and plays the pipes. The beasts who feel 
themselves free, and who are really so, browse with 
appetite on the pasture and the thistle. When 
they are satisfied and the hour comes to return 
home, the shepherd pipes the retreat and the con- 
tented flock follow him to the sheepfold. M} 
friend, I do the same, I play on the pipes, and m} 
flock follow." 

** Thou play est on the pipes ; that is all verj 
well .... But still, among thy flock thou has 
* The Mayor's sash of office. 


some Whites, and some Reds, some headstrong and 
some queer ones, as there are everywhere ! Now, 
when an election for a deputy takes place, for 
example, how dost thou manage ? '' 

'* How I manage ? Eh, my good soul. I leave 
it alone. For to say to the Whites, * Vote for the 
Republic,* would be to lose one's breath and one's 
Latin, and to say to the Reds, * Vote for Henri V./ 
would be as effectual as to spit on that wall." 

'' But the undecided ones, those who have no 
opinion, the poor innocents, all the good people 
who tack cautiously as the wind blows ? " 

*' Ah, those there, when sometimes in the barber's 
shop they ask me my advice, ' Hold,' I say to 
them, * Bassaquin is no better than Bassacan. 
Whether you vote for Bassaquin or Bassacan 
this summer you will have fleas. For Gigognan 
it is better to have a good rain than all the pro- 
mises of the candidates. Ah ! it would be a 
different matter if you nominated one of the 
peasant class. But so long as you do not nominate 
peasants for deputies, as they do in Sweden and 
Denmark, you will not be represented. The 
lawyers, doctors, journalists, small shopkeepers of 
all sorts whom you return, ask but one thing : 
to stay in Paris as much as possible, raking in all 
they can, and milking the poor cow without 



troubling their heads about our Gigognan ! But 
if, as I say, you delegated the peasants, they would 
think of saving, they would diminish the big 
salaries, they would never make war, they would 
increase the canals, they would abolish the duties, 
and hasten to settle affairs in order to return before 
the harvest. Just imagine that there are in France 
twenty million tillers of the soil, and they have 
not the sense to send three hundred of them to 
represent the land ! What would they risk by 
trying it ? It would be difficult for the peasants' 
deputy to do worse than these others ! *' 

And every one replies : *' Ah ! that Monsieur 
Lassagne ! though he is joking, there is some sense 
in what he says/' 

*' But,'* I said, " as to thee personally, thee 
Lassagne, how hast thou managed to keep thy 
popularity in Gigognan, and thy authority f 
fifty years?*' 

*' Oh, that is easy enough,*' he laughed. '' Com" 
let us leave the table, and take a little turn. 
When we have made the tour of Gigognan two or 
three times, thou wilt know as much as I do." 

We rose from the table, lit our cigars and went 
out to see the fun. In the road outside a game of 
bowls was going on. One of the players in throw- 
ing his ball unintentionally struck the mark. 



replacing it by his own ball, and thus gaining 
two points. 

*' Clever rascal/' cried Monsieur Lassagne, 
" that is something like play. My compliments, 
Jean-Claude ! I have seen many a game of bowls 
but on my life never a better shot ! " 

We passed on. After a little we met two young 

" Now look at that/' said Lassagne in a loud 
voice ; *' they are like two queens. What a 
pretty figure, what a lovely face ! And those 
earrings of the last fashion ! Those two are the 
flowers of Gigognan ! '* 

The two girls turned their heads and smilingly 
greeted us. In crossing the square, we passed 
near an old man seated in front of his door. 

'* Well now, Master Quintrand,'* said Monsieur 
Lassagne, *' shall we enter the lists this year with 
the first or second class of wrestlers ? " 

*' Ah ! my poor sir, we shall wrestle with no one 
at all," replied Master Quintrand. 

" Do you remember Master Quintrand, the year 
when Meissonier, Guequine, Rabasson, presented 
themselves on the meadow, the three best wrestlers 
of Provence, and you threw them on their 
shoulders, all three of them ! " 

** Eh, you don't need to remind me," said the old 


wrestler, lighting up. *' It was the year when they 
took the citadel of Antwerp. The prize was a 
hundred crowns and a sheep for the second winner. 
The prefect of Avignon shook me by the hand ! 
The people of Bedarride were ready to fight with 
those of Courtezon, on my account. . . . Ah! 
what a time, compared with the present ! Now 
their wrestling will . . . Better not speak of it, 
for one no longer sees men, not men, dear sir. . . . 
Besides, they have an understanding with each 

We shook hands with the old man and continued 
our walk. 

*' Come now,'* I said to Lassagne, ** I begin to 
understand — it is done with the soap ball ! '* 

'* I have not finished yet,'* he made answer. 

Just then the village priest came out of 

** Good day, gentlemen ! '* 

" Good day, Monsieur le Cure,'' said Lassagne. 
** Ah, one moment, since we have met I want to 
tell you : this morning at Mass, I noticed that our 
church is becoming too small, especially on fete 
days. Do you think it would be a mistake to 
attempt enlarging it ? " 

*' On that point, Monsieur le Maire, I am of 
your opinion — it is true that on feast days one can 
scarcely turn round." 



'* Monsieur le Cure, I will see about it : at the 
first meeting of the Municipal Council I will put 
the question, and if the prefecture will come to 
our assistance '* 

" Monsieur le Maire, I am delighted, and I can 
only thank you.*' 

As we left the ramparts, we saw coming a flock 
of sheep taking up all the road. Lassagne called 
to the shepherd. 

** Just at the sound of thy bells, I said, ' this 
must be Georges ! ' And I was not mistaken : 
what a pretty flock ! what fine sheep 1 But how 
well you manage to feed them ! I am sure that, 
taking one with another, they are not worth less 
than ten crowns each ! '' 

'' That is true certainly,'* replied Georges. 
" I bought them at the Cold Market this winter ; 
nearly all had lambs, and they will give me a 
second lot I do believe.** 

*' Not only a second lot, but such beasts as those 
could give you twins ! ** 

*' May God hear you ! Monsieur Lassagne ! *' 

We had hardly finished talking to the shepherd 
when we overtook an old woman gathering 
chicory in the ditches. 

'' *Hold, it is thou, B^rengere,*' said Lassagne, 
accosting her. " Now really from behind with 
thy red kerchief I took thee for Tereson, the 

^, ,i»:-';^'a! 



daughter-in-law of Cacha, thou art exactly like 
her ! " 

*' Me ! Oh Monsieur Lassagne, but think o: 
it ! I am seventy years old ! '^ 

*' Oh come, come, from behind if thou couldsi 
see thyself, thou hast no need of pity. I hav( 
seen worse baskets at the vintage ! '* 9 

'' This Monsieur Lassagne, he must always hav< 
his joke," said the old woman, shaking witl 
laughter ; and turning to me she added : 

** Believe me, sir, it is not just a way of speaking 
but this Monsieur Lassagne is the cream of men 
He is friendly with all. He will chat, see you 
with the smallest in the country even to th 
babies ! That is why he has been fifty year 
Mayor of Gigognan, and will be to the end of hi 

*' Well, my friend,'* said Lassagne to me, *' I 
is not I, is it, that have said it ! All of us like nic 
things, we like compliments, and we are all grati 
fied by kind manners. Whether dealing \^| 
women, with kings, or with the people, he wn' 
would reign must please. And that is the secre 
of the Mayor of Gigognan. 

(Almanack Provenpal, 1883.) 


All my life I had heard of the Camargue and of 
Les Saintes-Maries and the pilgrimage to their 
shrine, but I had never as yet been there. In the 
spring of the year 1855 I wrote to my friend 
Mathieu, ever ready for a little trip, and proposed 
we should go together and visit the saints. 

He agreed gladly, and we met at Beaucaire in 
the Condamine quarter, from where a pilgrim 
party annually started on May 24 to the sea-coast 
village of Les Saintes-Maries. 

A little after midnight Mathieu and I set forth 
with a crowd of country men and women, young 
girls and children, packed into waggons close as 
sardines in a tin ; we numbered fourteen in our 

Our worthy charioteer, one of those typical 
Provenceaux whom nothing dismays, seated us on 
the shaft, our legs dangling. Half the time he 
walked by the side of his horse, the whip round 
his neck, constantly relighting his pipe. When he 
wanted a rest he sat on a small seat niched in 


between the wheels, which the drivers call 
*' carrier of the weary/' 

Just behind me, enveloped in her woollen wrap 
and stretched on a mattress by her mother's side^ 
her feet planted unconcernedly in my back, was a 
young girl named Alarde. Not having, however 
as yet made the acquaintance of these neai 
neighbours, Mathieu and I conversed with the 
driver, who at once inquired from whence we hailed 
On our replying from Maillane, he remarked tha' 
he had already guessed by our speech that we hac 
not travelled far. 

*' The Maillane drivers,'/ he added, *' ' upset on j 
flat plain ' ; you know that saying ? " 

'* Not all of them," we laughed. 

'' 'Tis but a jest," he answered. '' Why ther 
was one I knew, a carter of Maillane, who wa 
equipped, I give you my word, like Saint Georg 
himself — Ortolan, his name was." 

" Was that many years ago ? " I asked. 

'* Aye, sirs, I am speaking of the good old day" 
of the wheel, before those devourers with thai 
railroads had come and ruined us all : the day 
when the fair of Beaucaire was in its splendoui 
and the first barge which arrived for the fair wa 
awarded the finest sheep in the market, and th 
victorious bargeman used to hang the sheep-ski 



,s a trophy on the main-mast. Those were the 
lays in which the towing-horses were insufficient 
o tug up the Rhone the piles of merchandise 
vhich were sold at the fair of Beaucaire, and every 
nan who drove a waggon, carriage, cart, or van 
vas cracking his whip along the high roads from 
vlarseilles to Paris, and from Paris to Lille, right 
iway into Flanders. Ah, you are too young to 
emember that time/' 

Once launched on his pet theme Lamoureux 
liscoursed, as he tramped along, till the light of the 
noon waned and gave place to dawn. Even 
then the worthy charioteer would have continued 
lis reminiscences had it not been that, as the rays 
ot the awakening sun lit up the wide stretches of 
the great plains of the Camargue lying between 
the delta of the two Rhones, we arrived at the 
Bridge of Forks. 

In our eyes, even a more beautiful sight than 
the rising sun (we were both about five and 
twenty) was the awakening maiden who, as I have 
mentioned already, had been packed in just 
behind us with her mother. Shaking off the hood 
of her cloak, she emerged all smiling and fresh, 
like a goddess of youth. A dark red ribbon caught 
up her blonde hair which escaped from the white 
coif. With her dehcate clear skin, curved lips 



half opened in a rapt smile, she looked like a flo^ 
shaking off the morning dew. We greeted hei 
cordially, but Mademoiselle Alarde paid no atten- 
tion to us. Turning to her mother she inquirec 
anxiously : ^\ 

** Mother, say — are we still far from the grea' 
saints ? '' jf j 

*' My daughter, we are still, I should say, eighteei 
or twenty miles distant." 

'' Will he be there, my betrothed ? — say thei 
— will he be there ? '' she asked her mother. 

'^ Oh hush, my darling,'* answered the mothe: 

*' Ah, how slowly the time goes,*' sighed th- 
young girl. Then discovering all at once that sh' 
was ravenously hungry, she suggested breakfast 
Spreading a linen cloth on her knees, she and he 
mother thereupon brought out of a wicker baske 
a quantity of provisions — bread, sausage, datee 
figs, oranges — and, without further ceremon}; 
set to work. We wished them '' good appetite,' 
whereupon the young girl very charmingly in 
vited us to join them, which we did on conditio: 
that we contributed the contents of our knapsack 
to the repast. Mathieu at once produced tw 
bottles of good Nerthe wine, which, havin 
uncorked, we poured into*'a cup andhanded roun 


to each of the party in turn, including the driver ; 
so behold us a happy family. 

At the first halt Mathieu and I got down to 
stretch our legs. We inquired of our friend 
Lamoureux who the young girl might be. He 
answered that hers was a sad story. One of the 
prettiest girls in Beaucaire, she had been jilted 
about three months ago by her betrothed, who had 
gone off to another girl, rich, but ugly as sin. The 
effect of this had been to send Alarde almost out 
of her mind ; the beautiful girl was in fact not quite 
sane, declared Lamoureux, though to look at her 
one would never guess it. The poor mother, at 
her wits' end to know what to do, was taking her 
child to Les Saintes-Maries to see if that would 
;divert her mind and perhaps cure her. 

We expressed our astonishment that any man 
could be such a scoundrel as to forsake a young 
girl so lovely and sweet-looking. 

Arrived at the Jasses d'Albaron, we halted to 

let the horses have a feed from their nose-bags. 

The young girls of Beaucaire who were with us 

took this opportunity of surrounding Alarde, and 

singing a roundel in her honour : 

Au branle de ma tante 

Le rossignol y chante 

Oh que de roses ! Oh que de fleurs " ^ 

Belle, belle Alarde tournez vous. 



La belle s'est tournee, 

Son beau I'a regarde : 

Oh que de roses ! Oh que de fleurs. 

Belle, belle Alarde, embrassez vous. 

But the result of this well-meant attention w 
very disastrous, for the poor Alarde burst out into 
hysterical laughter, crying, '' My lover, my loveij 
as though she were demented. 

Soon after, however, we resumed our journey^ 
for the sky, which since dawn had been flecked 
with clouds, became every moment more threaten- 
ing. The wind blew straight from the sea, sweep- 
ing the black masses of cloud towards us till all 
the bue sky was obliterated. The frogs and toads 
croaked in the marshes, and our long processior 
of waggons struggled slowly through the vas1 
salt plains of the Camargue. The earth fell 
the coming storm. Flights of wild ducks anc 
teal passed with a warning cry over our heads 
The women looked anxiously at the blacl 
sky. '' We shall be in a nice plight if t 
storm takes us in the middle of the Camargu 
said they. 

" Well, you must put your skirts over you 
heads,*' laughed Lamoureux. '' It is a knowi 
fact that such clouds bring rain.'* 

We passed a mounted bull-driver, his trident i 



his hand, collecting his scattered beasts. " You'll 
^et wet/' he prophesied cheerfully. 

A drizzle commenced ; then larger drops an- 
nounced that the water was going to fall in good 
earnest. In no time the wide plain was converted 
into a watery waste. Seated beneath the awning 
of the waggon, we saw in the distance troops of the 
Camargue horses shaking their long manes and 
tails as they started off briskly for the rising 
grounds and the sandbanks. 

Down came the rain ! The road, drowned in 
the deluge, became impracticable. The wheels got 
:logged, the beasts were unable to drag us further. 
Far as the eye could reach there was nothing to be 
5een but one vast lake. 

*' All must get down ! " cried the drivers unani- 
mously. '* Women and girls too, if you do not 
vvish to sleep beneath the tamarisk-bush." 

*' Walk in the water ? " cried some in dismay. 

" Walk barefoot, my dears," answered La- 
noureux ; '' thus you will earn the great pardon 
)f which you all have need, for I know the sins of 
iome of you are weighing devilish heavy." 

Old and young, women and girls, all got down, 
ind with laughter and shrieks, every one began to 
orepare themselves for wading, taking off their 
•hoes and tucking up their clothes. The drivers 



took the children astride on their shoulders, and 
Mathieu gallantly offered himself to the old lady 
in our waggon, the mother of the pretty Alarde : 

'' If you mount on my back,*' he said, ** I will 
undertake to carry you safely to the * Dead Goat/ ** 
The old lady, who was so fat she walked with diffi- 
culty even on dry ground, did not refuse such a 
noble offer, 

*' You, my Frederic, can charge yourself with 
Alarde,'* said Mathieu with a wink to me, *' and 
we will change from time to time to refresh 
ourselves, eh ? '' 

And forthwith we each took up our burden 
without further ceremony, an example which 
was soon followed by all the young men in the 
other waggons. 

Mathieu and his old girl laughed like fools. As 
for myself, when I felt the soft round arms of 
Alarde round my neck as she held the umbrella 
over our heads, I own it to this day, I would not 
have given up that journey across the CamargiMj 
in the rain and slush for a king's ransom. « 

'' Oh goodness, if my betrothed could see me 
now," repeated Alarde at intervals ; *' my be- 
trothed, who no longer loves me — my boy, my 
handsome boy!" 

It was in vain that I tried to steal in with my 


little compliments and soft speeches, she neither 
heard nor saw me — but I could feel her breath on 
my neck and shoulder ; I had only to turn my head 
a Httle and I could have kissed her, her hair 
brushed against mine ; the close proximity of this 
youth and freshness bewitched me, and while she 
dreamt only of her lover, I, for my part, tried to 
imagine myself a second Paul carrying my Virginia. 

Just at the happiest moment of my illusion, 
Mathieu, gasping beneath the weight of the fat 
mamma, cried out : 

*' Let us change for a bit ! I can go no further, 
my dear fellow/' 

At the trunk of a tamarisk, therefore, we halted 
and exchanged burdens, Mathieu taking the 
daughter, while I, alas, had the mother. And thus 
for over two miles, paddling in water up to our 
knees, we travelled, changing at intervals and 
making light of fatigue because of the reward we 
both got out of the romantic rdle of Paul ! 

At last the heavy rain began to abate, the sky 
to clear and the roads to become visible. We 
remounted the waggons, and about four o'clock 
in the afternoon, suddenly we saw rise out of the 
distant blue of sea and sky, with its Roman belfry, 
russet merlons and buttresses, the church of Les 



There was a general exclamation of joy 
greeting to the great saints, for this far-away shrine, 
standing isolated on the edge of the great plain, 
is the Mecca of all the Gulf of Lyons. What 
impresses one most is the harmonious grandeur of 
the vast sweep of land and sea, arched over by the 
limitless dome of sky, which, more perfectly here 
than anywhere else, appears to embrace the entire 
terrestrial horizon. 

Lamoureux turned to us saying : ** We shall 
just arrive in time to perform the office of lowering 
the shrines ; for, gentlemen, you must know that 
it is we of Beaucaire to whom is reserved the right 
before all others of turning the crane by which the 
relics of the saints are lowered.'* 

The sacred remains of Mary, mother of James 
the Less, Mary Salome, mother of James and John, 
and of Sarah, their servant, are kept in a small 
chapel high up just under the dome. From this 
elevated position, by means of an aperture which 
gives on to the church, the shrines are slowly 
lowered by a rope over the heads of the worshipping 

So soon as we had unharnessed, which we did 
on the sandbanks covered with tamarisk and 
orach by which the village is surrounded, we made 
our way quickly to the church. 


*' Light them up well, the dear blessed saints/* 
cried a group of Montpellier women selling candles 
and tapers, medals and images at the church 

The church was crammed with people of all 
kinds, from Languedoc, from Aries, the maimed 
and the halt, together with a crowd of gypsies, 
all one on the top of the other. The gypsies buy 
bigger candles than anybody else, but devote their 
attention exclusively to Saint Sarah, who, according 
to their belief, was one of their nation. It is here 
at Les Saintes-Maries that these wandering tribes 
hold their annual assemblies, and from time to 
time elect their queen. 

It was difficult to get in at the church. A 
group of market women from Nimes, muffled up 
in black and dragging after them their twill 
cushions whereon to sleep all night in the church, 
were quarrelling for the chairs. *' I had this before 
you.'' — '' No, but I hired it/' &c. A priest was 
passing " The Sacred Arm " from one to the other . 
to be kissed ; to the sick people they were giving 
glasses of briny water drawn from the saints' well 
in the middle of the nave, and which on that day 
they say becomes sweet. Some, by way of a 
remedy, were scraping the dust off an ancient 
marble block fixed in the wall, and reported to be 


the '* saints* pillow." A smell of burning tapers, 
incense, heat and stuffiness suffocated one, while 
one's ears were deafened by each group singing 
their own particular canticles at the pitch of thei 

Then in the air, slowly the shrines begin t 
descend, and the crowd bursts into shouts an 
cries of '' O great Saint Marys ! '' And as the cord 
unrolls, screams and contortions increase, arms 
are raised, faces upturned, every one awaits 
miracle. Suddenly, from the end of the church, 
rushing across the nave, as though she had wings, a 
beautiful girl, her fair hair falling about her, 
flung herself towards the floating shrines, crying : 
** O great saints — in pity give me back the love 
of my betrothed." 

All rose to their feet. '* It is Alarde ! " exclaimed 
the people from Beaucaire, while the rest murmured 
awestruck, ** It is Saint Mary Magdalen come to 
visit her sisters." Every one wept with emotion. 

The following day took place the procession 
on the sea-shore to the soft murmur and 
splash of the breaking waves. In the distance, 
on the high seas, two or three ships tacked 
about as though coming in, while all along the 
coast extended the long procession, ever seeming to 
lengthen out with the moving line of the waves. 


It was just here, says the legend,* that the 
three Saint Marys in their skiff were cast ashore 
in Provence after the death of Our Lord. And 
looking out over the wide glistening sea, that 
hes in the midst of such visions and memories, 
illuminated by the radiant sunshine, it seemed 
to us in truth we were on the threshold of 

Our little friend Alarde, looking rather pale after 
the emotions of the previous day, was one of a 
group of maidens chosen to bear on their shoulders 
the *' Boat of the Saints," and many murmurs of 
sympathy followed her as she passed. This was 
the last we saw of her, for, so soon as the saints had 
reascended to their chapel, we took the omnibus 
for Aigues-Mortes, together with a crowd of people 
returning to Montpellier and Lundy, who beguiled 
the way by singing in chorus hymns to the Saints 
of the Sea. 


The sisters and the brothers, we 
Who followed him ever constantly, 

* Mistral has glorified this legend in his Mireille, where 
the saints appear to the young girl and recount to her their 
Odyssey (pp. 427-437, Mireille).— C. E. M. 

t For Provencal text see p. 324. 


To the raging sea were cruelly driven 
In a crazy ship without a sail, 
Without an oar, 'mid the angry gale ; 
We women could only weep and wail- 

The men uplifted their eyes to Heaven ! 

A gust tempestuous drives the ship 

O'er fearsome waves, in the wild storm's grip ; 

Martial and Saturninus, lowly 

In prayer kneel yonder on the prow ; 
Old Trophimus with thoughtful brow 
Sits closely wrapped in his mantle now 

By Maximus, the Bishop holy. 

There on the deck, amid the gloom. 

Stands Lazarus, of shroud and tomb 

Always the mortal pallor keeping ; 
His glance the raging gulf defies ; 
And with the doomed ship onward flies 
Martha his sister ; there, too, lies 

Magdalen, o'er her sorrows weeping. 

Upon a smooth and rockless strand 

AUeluiah ! our ship doth land. 

Prostrate we fall on the wet sand, crying : 
" Our lives, that He from storm did save 
Here are they ready. Death to brave. 
And preach the law that once He gave. 

Christ, we swear it, even dying ! '* 

At that glad name, most glorious still. 
Noble Provence seemed all a-thrill ; 


Forest and moor throughout their being 

Were stirred and answered that new cry ; 
As when a dog, his master nigh, 
Goes out to meet him joyfully, 

And welcome gives, the master seeing. 

The sea some shells to shore had cast . . . 

Thou gav'st a feast to our long fast — 

Our Father, Thou who art in Heaven ; 
And for our thirst, a fountain clear 
Rose limpid 'mid the sea-plants here ; 
And, marvellous, still rises near 

The church where we were burial given. 

(Trans. Alma Strettell.) 


** Good morning, Mr. Frederic. They tell me that 
you have need of a man on the farm." 

*' Yes — from whence comest thou ? '* 

'' From Villeneuve, the country of the ' lizards * 
— near to Avignon." 

'* And what canst thou do ? " 

'' A little of everything. I have been helper 
at the oil mills, muleteer, carrier, labourer, miller, 
shearer, mower if necessary, wrestler on occasions, 
pruner of poplars, a high-class trade, and even 
cleaner of sewers, which is the lowest of all ! '* 

'' And they call thee ? " 

"Jean Roussiere, and Rousseyron — and Seyn 
for short." 

" How much do you ask ? — it is for taking care 
of the beasts." 

'' About fifteen louis." 
I will give thee a hundred crowns." 
All right for a hundred crowns." 

That is how I engaged Jean Roussiere, he who 
taught me the old folk-melody of ''Magali" — 


a jovial fellow and made on the lines of a Hercules. 
The last year that I lived at the farm, with my 
blind father, in the long watches of our solitude 
Jean Roussiere never failed to keep me interested 
and amused, good fellow that he was. At his work 
he was excellent and always enlivened his beasts 
by some cheering song. 

Naturally artistic in all he did, even if it was 
heaping a rick of straw or a pile of manure, or 
stowing away a cargo, he knew how to give the 
harmonious line or, as they say, the graceful sweep. 
But he had the defects of his qualities and was 
rather too fond of taking life in an easy and 
leisurely fashion, even passing part of it in an 
afternoon nap. 

A charming talker at all times, it was worth 
hearing him as he spoke of the days when he led 
the big teams of horses on the towing-path, tugging 
the barges up the Rhone to Valence and to Lyons. 

*' Just fancy ! '* he said, " at the age of twenty, 
I led the finest turn-out on the banks of the Rhone ! 
A turn-out of twenty-four stallions, four abreast, 
dragging six barges ! Ah, what fine mornings 
those were, when we set out on the banks of the 
big river and silently, slowly, this fleet moved up 
the stream ! '* 

And Jean Roussiere would enumerate all the 


places on the two banks ; the inns, the hostesses, 
the streams, the sluices, the roads and the fords 
from Aries to the Revestidou, from the Coucourde 
to the Ermitage. But his greatest happiness and. 
triumph was at the feast of Saint-Eloi. ^1 

*' I will show your Maillanais,** he said, '* if they 
have not already seen it, how we ride a little 
mule ! *' 

Saint-Eloi is, in Provence, the feast of the 
agriculturists. All over Provence on that day 
the village priests bless the cattle, asses, mules 
and horses ; and the people owning the beasts 
partake of the '' blessed bread,'* that excellent 
'' blessed bread '* flavoured with aniseed and 
yellow with eggs, which they call tortillarde. A1 
Maillane it was our custom on that day to deck a 
chariot with green boughs and harness to it forty 
or fifty beasts, caparisoned as in the time of the 
tournaments, with beards, embroidered saddle- 
cloths, plumes, mirrors and crescents of brass 
The whip was put up to auction, that is to say. 
the office of Prior was put up to public auction : ifj 

** Thirty francs for the whip! — a hundrec 
francs ! — two hundred francs ! Once — twice— 
thrice ! '' 

The presidency of the feast fell to the highesi 
bidder. The chariot of green boughs led th( 


procession, a cavalcade of joyful labourers, each 
one walking proudly near his own horse or mule, 
and cracking his whip. In the chariot, accom- 
panied by the musicians playing the tambourine 
and flute, the Prior was seated. On the mules, 
fathers placed their little ones astride, the latter 
holding on happily to the trappings. The horses' 
collars were all ornamented with a cake of the 
blessed bread, in the form of a crown, and a pennon 
in paper bearing a picture of Saint-Eloi ; and 
carried on the shoulders of the Priors of the past 
years was an image of the saint, in full glory, like 
a golden bishop, the crozier in his hand. 

Drawn by the fifty mules or donkeys round the 
village rolled the chariot, in a cloud of dust, with 
the farm labourers running like mad by the side 
of their beasts, all in their shirt sleeves, hats at 
the back of their heads, a belt round the waist, and 
low^ shoes. 

That year Jean Roussiere, mounting our mule 
Falette, astonished the spectators. Light as 
a cat, he jumped on the animal, then off again, 
remounted, now sitting on one side, now standing 
upright on the crupper, there in turn doing the 
goose step, the forked tree and the frog, on the 
mule's back — in short, giving a sort of Arab horse- 
man' s performance. 


But where he shone with even greater lustre 
was at the supper of Saint-Eloi, for after the 
chariot procession the Priors give a feast. Every 
one having eaten and drunk their fill and said 
grace, Roussiere rose and addressed the company. 

** Comrades ! Here you are, a crowd of good- 
for-nothings and rascals, who have kept the 
Saint-Eloi for the past thousand years, and yet 
I will wager none of you know the history of your 
great patron.** 

The company confessed that all they had heard 
was that their saint had been a blacksmith. 

'' Yes, but I am going to tell you how he became 
a saint.** And while soaking a crisp tortillarde 
in his glass of Tavel wine, the worthy Roussiere 
proceeded : 

*' Our Lord God the Father, one day in Paradise, 
wore a troubled air. The child Jesus inquired of 
him : 

** * What is the matter, my Father ? ' 

'* ' I have,' replied God, ' a case that greatly 
plagues me. Hold, look down there ! ' 

" ' Where ? * asked Jesus. 

** ' Down there, in the Limousin, to the right of 
my finger : thou seest, in that village, near the 
city, a smithy, a large fine smithy ? ' 

** ' I see — I see.' 



'' ' Well, my son, there is a man that I should 
like to have saved : they call him Master Eloi. 
He is a reliable, good fellow, a faithful observer of 
my Commandments, charitable to the poor, kind- 
hearted to every one, of exemplary conduct, 
hammering away from morning to night without 
evil speaking or blasphemy. Yes, he seems to me 
worthy to become a great saint.* 

" ' And what prevents it ? ' asked Jesus. 

*' * His pride, my son. Because he is a good 
worker, a worker of the first order, Eloi thinks 
that no one on earth is above him, and presump- 
tion is perdition.' 

** * My Lord Father,' said Jesus, * if you will 
permit me to descend to the earth I will try and 
convert him.* 

*' * Go, my dear son.* 

*' And the good Jesus descended. Dressed like 
an apprentice, his tool-bag on his back, the divine 
workman alighted right in the street where Eloi 
dwelt. Over the blacksmith's door was the usual 
signboard, and on it this inscription : 

*' * Eloi the blacksmith, master above all other 
masters, forges a shoe in two heatings.' 

" The little apprentice stepped on to the 
threshold and taking off his hat : 

** ' God give you good-day, master, and to 



the company/ said he ; ' have you need of any 
help ? ' 

*' ' Not for the moment/ answered Eloi. 

'' ' Farewell then, master : it will be for another 
time/ 41 

** And the good Jesus continued his road. In 
the street he saw a group of men talking, and 
Jesus said in passing : 

*' * I should not have thought that in such a 
smithy, where there must be, one would think, so 
much doing, they would refuse me work/ 

** * Wait a bit, my lad,' said one of the neigh- 
bours. * What salutation did you make to Master 
Eloi ! ' 

** * I said, as is usual, ** God give you good-day, 
master, and to the company ! ' 

*' * Ah, but that is not what you should have 
said. You should have addressed him as, *' Master 
above all other masters.' ' There, look at the 
board ! ' 

** * That is true,* said Jesus. * I will try agaii 
And with that he returned to the smithy. 

** * God give you good-day, master above 
other masters. Have you no need of an appren- 
tice ? * . 

** ' Come in, come in,' replied Eloi. * I have 
been thinking that we could give you work also. 


But listen to this once and for all : When you 
address me, you must say, '' Master, above all 
other masters,'' see you — this is not to boast, but 
men like me, who can forge a shoe in two heatings, 
there are not two in Limousin ! ' 

** ' Oh,' replied the apprentice, ' in our country, 
we do it with one heating ! ' 

'* ' Only one heating ! Go to, boy, be silent 
then — why the thing is not possible/ 

'* ' Very well, you shall see, master above all 
other masters ! ' 

*' Jesus took a piece of iron, threw it into the 
forge, blew, made up the fire, and when the iron 
was red — red, and incandescent — he took it out 
with his hand. 

'' ' Oh — poor simpleton ! ' the head apprentice 
cried to him, ' thou wilt scorch thy fingers ! ' 

'* * Have no fear ! ' answered Jesus. * Thanks 
to God, in our country we have no need of pincers.' 
And the little workman seizes with his hand the 
iron heated to white heat, carries it to the anvil, 
and with his hammer, pif, paf, in the twinkle of 
an eye, stretches it, flattens it, rounds it and stamps 
it so well that one would have said it was cast. 

'' ' Oh, I, too,' said Master Eloi, ' I could do that 
if I wanted to.' 

''He then takes a piece of iron, throws it in the 



forge, blows, makes up the fire, and when the iror 
is red hot, goes to take it as his apprentice hac 
done and carry it to the anvil — but he burns hh 
fingers badly ! In vain he tried to hurry, tc 
harden himself to endure the burn, he was forced 
to let go his hold and run for the pincers. Ir 
the meantime the shoe for the horse grew cold— 
and only a few sparks burnt out. Ah ! pooi 
Master Eloi, he might well hammer, and pul 
himself in a sweat — to do it with one heating was 

'* * But listen,* said the apprentice, ' I seem tc 
hear the gallop of a horse.' 

** Master Eloi at once stalked to the door and sees 
a cavalier, a splendid cavalier, drawing up at the 
smithy. Now this was Saint-Martin. 

" ' 1 come a long way,' he said, ' my horse has 
lost a shoe, and I am in a great hurry to findj 

*' Master Eloi bridled up. 

" ' My lord,' said he, '* you could not ha^ 
chanced better. You have come to the first blaGtai 
smith of Limousin — of Limousin and of Fran™ 
who may well call himself '* master of all the 
masters," and who forges a shoe in twc 
heats. Here lad, hold the horse's hoof,' he 

(( t 


Hold the hoof ! ' cried Jesus. ' In our 
country we do not find that necessary.' 

** * Well, what next/ cried the master black- 
smith, * that is a little too much ! And how can 
one shoe a horse, in your country, without holding 
the hoof ? * 

*' * But faith, nothing is easier, as you shall see.' 

*' And so saying, the young man seized a knife, 
went up to the horse, and crack ! cut off the hoof. 
He carried it into the smithy, fastened it in the 
vice, carefully heated the hoof, fastened on the 
new shoe that he had just made ; with the shoeing 
hammer he knocked in the nails, then loosening 
the vice, returned the foot to the horse, spat on it 
and fitted it, saying, as he made the sign of the 
3ross, * May God grant that the blood dries up,' 
ind there was the foot finished, shod and healed 
IS no one had ever seen before and as no one will 
iver see again. 

*' The first apprentice opened his eyes wide 
IS the palm of your hand, while Master Eloi's 
Lssistants began to perspire. 

" * Ho,' said Eloi at last, ' my faith, but I will 
io it like that — do it just as well.' 

*' He sets himself to the task. Knife in hand he 
tpproaches the horse, and crack ! he cuts off the 
oot, carries it into the smithy, fastens it into the 


vice, and shoes it at his ease, just hke the youn^ 

*' But then came the hitch, he must put it bad 
in place. He approaches the horse, spits on th< 
shoe, appUes it to the fetlock as best he can 
Alas ! the salve does not stick, the blood flows, anc 
the foot falls ! Then was the proud soul of Maste 
Eloi illuminated : and he went back into the smith^ 
there to prostrate himself at the feet of the youni 
apprentice. But Jesus had disappeared, and als< 
the horse and the cavalier. Tears gushed fron 
the eyes of Master Eloi ; he recognised, poor man 
that there was a master above him, and above all 
Throwing aside his apron he left the forge an( 
went out into the world to teach the word of th 
Lord Jesus." 

Great applause followed the conclusion of thi 
legend, applause both for Saint-Eloi and for Jea- 


Before I leave the worthy Jean I must mentio 
that it was he who sang to me the popular air t 
which I put the serenade of Magali, an air so sweei 
so melodious, that many regretted not finding i 
in Gounod's opera of Mireille. The only perso 
in all the world 'that I ever heard sing that pai 
ticular air was Jean Roussiere, who was apparentl 


the last to retain it. It was a strange coincidence 
that he should come, by chance as it were, and sing 
it to me, at the moment when I was looking 
for the Provengal note of my love-song, and thus 
enable me to save it just at the moment when, like 
so many other things, it was about to be relegated 
to oblivion. 

The name of Magali, an abbreviation of Mar- 
guerite, I heard one day as I was returning home 
:from Saint-Remy. A young shepherdess was 
! tending a flock of sheep along the Grande Roubine. 
" Oh ! MagaH, art not coming yet ? '' cried a boy 
Ho her as he passed by. The limpid name struck 
ime as so pretty that at once I sang : 


" O Magali, beloved maid. 

Forth from thy casement lean ! 
And listen to my serenade 

Of viols and tambourine." 

" Were ever stars so many seen ! 

The wind to rest is laid ; 
But when thy face thou shalt unveil, 
These stars shall pale ! " 

"So as for rustling leaves, I care 

For this thy roundelay ! 
I'll turn into an eel, and fare 

To the blonde sea away ! '* 

* For Provencal text see p. 326, 


" O Magali, if thou wilt play 

At turning fish, beware ! 
For I the fisherman will be 
And fish for thee." 

*' Oh, and if thou thy nets would'st fling 

As fisherman, then stay ! 
ril be a bird upon the wing, 

And o'er the moors away." 

*' O Magali, and would'st thou stray, 

A wild bird wandering ? 

I'll take my gun and speedily 

Give chase to thee." 

" For partridge or for warbler's breed 
If thou thy snares would'st lay, 

Upon the vast and flowery mead 
As flower I'll hide away." 

* O Magali, if thou a spray 

Of blossom art indeed. 
The limpid brook then I will be 
And water thee." 

" And if thou art the limpid brook, 
I'll be a cloud, and heigh ! 

I shall be gone, ere thou can'st look, 
To far Americay ! " 

" O Magah, and though the way 

To furthest Ind you took, 
I'd make myself the wind at sea 
And carry thee." 



" Wert thou the wind, by some device ' 

I'd fly another way ; 
Fd be the shaft, that melts the ice, ; 

From the great orb of day." 

" O Magali, wert thou a ray I 

Of sunshine — in a trice 
The emerald lizard I would be. 
And drink in thee.'* 

" And wert thou, hidden 'mid the fern, 

A salamander — nay, 
Fd be the full moon, that doth turn, 

For witches, night to day." 

'' O Magali, would'st thou essay 

To be the moon, Fd learn 
A soft and silver mist to be 
Enfolding thee." 

"But though the mist enfold, not so 

Shalt thou me yet waylay ! 
For I a pure, fair rose shall grow 

And 'mid my branches sway." 

** O Magali, and though you may 

Be loveliest rose, yet know 
That I the butterfly shall be ^ 

Which kisseth thee." 

" Go to ! pursuer, thou'lt not win. 
Though thou should'st run for aye ; 

For in some forest oak's rough skin 
I will myself array." 


" O Magali, though thou grow grey 

The doleful tree within, 
A branch of ivy will I be 
Embracing thee." 

" And if thou dost, thou wilt embrace 

Only an oak's decay, 
For in the convent of Saint-Blaise, 

A White Nun, I will pray." 

" Magali, when comes that day, 

There in the holy place 
Father Confessor will I be. 
And hark to thee." 

" Pass but the gate, and in my stead 
Thou wilt find, well-a-day ! 

The nuns all sadly busied 

Me in my shroud to lay." \ 

" O Magali, and if cold clay 

Thou make thyself, and dead, 
Earth I'll become, and there thou'lt be. 
At last, for me." 

*' I half begin to think, in sooth, ' 

Thou speakest earnestly ! 
Then take my ring of glass, fair youth, 
In memory of me." 

. *' Thou healest me, O Magali ! 

And mark how, of a truth, 
The stars, since thou did'st drop thy veil, 
Have all grown pale ! " 

(Trans. Alma Strettell.) 


It was in the autumn of this year 1855 that the 
first cloud overshadowed my happy youth. It 
was the sorrow of losing my father. He had 
become quite blind, and as far back as the pre- 
vious Christmas we had been anxious about him. 
For on that occasion he whom the festival had 
always filled with j oy , this year seemed overcome 
by a deep depression which we felt augured badly 
for the future. It was in vain that as usual we 
lit the three sacred candles and spread the table 
with the three white cloths ; in vain that I offered 
him the mulled wine, hoping to hear from his lips 
the sacramental '' Good cheer." Groping, alas ! 
with his long thin arms, he seated himself with 
never a word. In vain also my mother tried to 
tempt him with the dishes of Christmas, one after 
the other — the plate of snails, the fish of Martique, 
the almond nougat, the cake of oil. Wrapt in 
pensive thought the poor old man supped in silence. 
A shadow, a forerunner of death, was over him, 
and his blindness oppressed him. Once he looked 
up and spoke. 

'' Last year at Christmas I could still see the 
light of the candles ; but this year, nothing, 
nothing. Help me, O blessed Virgin.** 

In the first days of September he departed this 
hfe. Having received the last sacrament with 



sincerity and faith, the strong faith of simple 
souls, he turned to his family, who all stood 
weeping around his bed : 

*' Come, come, my children,'* he said to us. " I 
am going — and to God I give thanks for all that I 
owe him : my long life and my labour, which He 
has blessed/' 

Then he called me to him and asked : 

'' Frederic, what sort of weather is it ? *' 
It rains, my father," I replied. 
Ah well,'* he said, ''if it rains it is good for 
the seeds.'* 

Then he gave up his soul to God. I can 
never forget that moment ! They covered his 
head with the sheet, and near the bed, that big 
bed in the white alcove where in broad daylight 
I had been born, they lit a long pale taper. The 
shutters of the room were half closed. The 
labourers were ordered to unyoke at once. The 
maid, in the kitchen, turned over the cauldrons 
and pots on the dresser. 

Around the ashes of the fire, which had been 
extinguished, we seated ourselves in a silent circle, 
my mother at the corner of the big chimney, 
bearing, according to the custom of the widows 
of Provence, as sign of mourning, a white fichu on 
her head. And all day the neighbours, men and 

Therese Roumamlle (Madame Boissiere), 
2x\D Queen of the Felibres. 


women, relations and friends, came to offer us their 
sympathy, greeting us one after another with the 
customary '' May our Lord preserve you ! " 

And lengthily, piously, they went through the 
condolences in honour of the '' poor master/' 

The next day all Maillane assisted at the funeral 
ceremony ; and in their prayers for him, the poor 
added always : 

** God grant that as many angels may accom- 
pany him to heaven as he has given us loaves of 
bread ! " 

The coffin was borne by hand with cloths, the 
lid off in order that for the last time the people 
might see him with crossed hands in his white 
shroud. Behind walked Jean Roussiere carry- 
ing the wax taper which had watched over his 

As for me, while the passing-bell sounded in the 
distance, I went to weep alone in the fields, for the 
tree of the house had fallen. The Mas du Juge, 
the home of my childhood, was now desolate and 
deserted in my eyes as though it had lost its 
guardian spirit. The head of the family. Master 
Francois my father, had been the last of the patri- 
archs of Provence, a faithful preserver of traditions 
and customs, and the last, at least for me, of that 
austere generation, religious, humble, and self- 


controlled, who had patiently gone through the 
miseries and convulsions of the Revolution, giving 
to France the disinterested devotion which flamed 
up in her great holocausts, and the indefatigable 
service of her big armies. 

One week later the division of property took 
place. The farm produce and the '' stacks," 
the horses, oxen, sheep, poultry — all were divided 
into lots. The furniture, our dear old things, the 
big four-poster beds, the kneading-trough of iron- 
work, the meal-chest, the polished wardrobes, the 
carved kneading-trough, the table, the mirror, 
all which, ever since my childhood, I had seen 
as a part of my home life, the rows of plates, 
the painted china, which never left the shelves of 
the dresser, the sheets of hemp that my mother 
herself had woven ; agricultural implements, 
waggons, ploughs, harness, tools, utensils of every 
kind — all these were collected and set out on the 
threshing-floor of the farm, to be divided in three 
divisions by an expert. The servants, hired either 
by the year or the month, left one after the other. 
And to the paternal farm,* which was not in my 
division, I had to say good-bye. 

One afternoon, with my mother and the dog, 

* The elder half-brother of Frederic Mistral inherited the 
Mas du Juge. 


and Jean Roussiere who acted as charioteer, we 
departed with heavy hearts, to dwell henceforth 
in the house at Maillane which in the division had 
fallen to me. 

It was from personal experience I could write 
later on in Mireille of home-sickness : 

Comme au mas, comme au temps de mon pere, 
helas ! helas ! 


The following year (1856), at the time of the fete 
of Sainte-Agathe, patroness of Maillane, I received 
a visit from a well-known poet in Paris. Fate, 
or rather the good star of the Felibres, brought 
him just in the propitious hour. It was Adolphe 
Dumas — a fine figure of a man some fifty years 
old, of an aesthetic pallor, with long hair turning 
grey and a brown moustache like a lap-dog. His 
black eyes were full of fire, and he had a habit of 
accompanying his ringing voice with a fine waving 
gesture of the hand. He was tall, but lame, 
dragging a crippled leg as he walked. He reminded 
one of a cypress of Provence agitated by the wind. 

*' Is it you, then, Monsieur Mistral, who write 
verses in the Proven9al ? ** he began to me in a 
joking tone as he held out his hand. 

*' Yes, it is I,'* I replied. '* At your service. 

** Certainly, I hope that you can serve me. 
The Minister for Public Instruction, Monsieur 
Fortoul, of Digne, has given me the commission 

''MIREILLE" 271 

to come and collect the popular songs of Provence, 
such as ' Le Mousse de Marseille/ ' La Belle Mar- 
goton/ ' Noces du Papillon/ and if you know 
of any, I am here to collect them/' 

And talking over this matter I sang to him, 
as it happened, the serenade of Magali, freshly 
arranged for the poem of Mireille. 

Adolphe Dumas started up all alert. 

*' But where did you find that pearl ? '' he cried. 

''It is part/' I answered, "of a Proven9al 
poem in twelve cantos to which I am just giving 
the finishing touches.'' 

*' Oh, these good Provencaux ! " he laughed. 
'' You are always the same, determined to keep 
your tattered language, like the donkeys who will 
walk along the borders of the roads to graze upon 
thistles. It is in French, my dear friend, it is in 
the language of Paris that we must sing of our 
Provence to-day if we wish to be heard. Now, 
listen to this : 

" J'ai revu sur mon roc, vieille, nue, appauvrie, 
La maison des parents, la premiere patrie, 
L'ombre du vieux mirier, le banc de pierre etroit, 
Le nid de I'hirondelle avail au bord du toit, 
Et la treille, a present sur les murs egaree, 
Qui regrelte son maitre et retombe eploree ; 
Et dans Therbe et I'oubli qui poussent sur le seuil, 
J'ai fait pieusement agenouiller Torgueil^ 


J'ai rouvert la fenetre ou me vint la lumiere, 
Et j'ai rempli de chants la couche de ma mere ! " 

" But come, tell me, since poem there is, tell 
me something of your Provengal production.'* 

I then read him something out of Mireille, I 
forget what. 

'' Ah ! if you are going to talk Hke that,'* said 
Dumas after my recitation, ** I take off my hat 
and greet the source of a new poetry, of an indi- 
genous poetry hitherto unknown. It teaches me, 
who have left Provence for thirt}^ years, and who 
thought her language dead, that behind this 
dialect used by the common people, the half- 
hotiYgeois and the half-ladies, there exists a second 
language, that of Dante and Petrarch. But take 
care to follow their methods, which did not consist, 
as some think, in using the language as they found 
it, or in making a mixture of the dialects of Florence, 
Bologna and Milan. They collected the oil and 
then constructed a language which they made 
perfect while generalising it. All who preceded 
the Latin writers of the great time of Augustus, 
with the exception of Terence, were but trash. 
Of the popular tongue, use only a few white straws 
with the grain that may be there. I feel certain 
that you have the requisite sap running in your 
youthful veins to ensure success. Already I 


'^MIREILLE" 273 

begin to see the possibility of the rebirth of a 
language founded upon Latin, which shall be 
beautiful and sonorous as the best Italian/* 

The story of Adolphe Dumas was like a fairy- 
tale. Born of the people, his parents kept a 
Uttle inn between Orgon and Cabane. Dumas 
had a sister named Laura, beautiful as the day 
and innocent as a spring of fresh water. One day, 
lo and behold, some strolling players passed 
through ttie village, and gave in the evening a 
performance at the little inn. One of them played 
the part of a prince. The gold tinsel of his cos- 
tume glittering beneath the big lanterns gave him, 
in the eyes of poor little Laura, the appearance 
of a king's son. Innocent, alas ! as many a one 
before, Laura allowed herself, so the story goes, 
to be beguiled and carried off by this prince of 
the open road. She travelled with the company 
and embarked at Marseilles. Too soon she learnt 
her mad mistake, and not daring to return home, 
in desperation she took the coach for Paris, 
where she arrived one morning in torrents of 
rain. There she found herself on the street, 
alone and destitute. A gentleman, driving 
past, noticed the young Provengale in tears. 
Stopping his carriage he asked her : '' My pretty 


child, what is the matter — why do you weep so 
bitterly ? '' 

In her naive way Laura told him her story. 
The gentleman, who was rich, suddenly touched 
and taken with her beauty and simplicity, made 
her get into his carriage, took her to a convent, 
had her carefully educated, and then married her. 
But the beautiful bride, who had a noble heart, 
did not forget her own relations. She sent for 
her little brother Adolphe to Paris, and gave 
him a good education, and that is how Adolphe 
Dumas, a poet by nature and an enthusiast, one 
day found himself in the midst of the literary 
movement of 1830. Verses of all sorts, dramas, 
comedies, poems, bubbled forth one after another 
from his seething brain : ** La Cite des Hommes,'* 
** La Mort de Faust et de Don Juan," "Le 
Camp des Croises,*' ^'Provence,'* ''Mademoiselle 
de la ValHere,'* ''UEcole des Families," ''Les 
Servitudes Volontaires,'* &c. But, just as in the 
army, though all may do their duty every one 
does not receive the Legion of Honour, in spite 
of his pluck and the comparative success of his 
plays in the Paris theatres, the poet Dumas, like 
our drummer-boy of Arcole, remained always 
the undecorated soldier. This it was, no doubt, 
which made him say later on in Provengal : 

"mireille;* 275 

'* At forty years and more, when every one is 
angling, still I dip my bread in the poor man's 
soup. Let us be content if we have a soul 
at peace, a pure heart and clean hands. * What 
has he earned ? ' the world will ask, ' He carries 
his head erect.' ^ What does he do ? ' 'He does 
his duty.' " 

But if Dumas had gained no special laurels, he 
had won the esteem of the most distinguished 
brothers-in-arms, and Hugo, Lamartine, Beranger, 
De Vigny, the great Dumas, Jules Janin, Mignet, 
Barbey d'Aurevilly were among his friends. 

Adolphe Dumas, with his ardent temperament, 
his experience of struggling days in Paris, and the 
memory of his childhood on the Durance, came 
to the determination to issue a passenger's ticket 
to Felibrige between Avignon and Paris. 

My poem of Provence was at last finished, 
though not yet printed, when one day my friend 
Frederic Legre, a young Marseillais who formerly 
frequented Font-Segugne, said to me : 

'' I am going to Paris — will you come too ? " 

I accepted the invitation, and it was thus that 
on the spur of the moment, for the first time, I 
visited Paris, where I stayed one week. I had, 
needless to say, brought my manuscript, and 
after spending the first two days in sight-seeing 


and admiring, from Notre-Dame to the Louvre, 
and from the Place Vendome to the great Arc de 
Triomphe, we went, as was proper, and paid our 
respects to the good Dumas. 

'* Well, and that Mireille,'' he asked me, '' is 
she finished ? '* * 

" She is finished,'* I said, *' and here she is — in 

" Come now, since you are here, you will read 
me a song/' 

And when I had read the first canto, *' Go 
on ! " said Dumas. 

I read the second, then the third, then the 
fourth canto. 

*' That is enough for to-day," said the good 
man. ** Come to-morrow at the same time, we 
will continue the reading ; but this much I may 
assure you," he added, *' if your work keeps up 
to this level, you may win finer laurels than at 
present you have any idea of." 

I returned the next day and read four more 
cantos, and the day after we finished the poem. 

That same day (August 26, 1856) Adolphe 
Dumas wrote to the editor of the Gazette de France 
the following letter : 

*' The Gazette du Midi has already made known 
to the Gazette de France the arrival in Paris of 

''MIREILLE" 277 

young Mistral, the poet of Provence. Who is 
this Mistral ? No one knows anything of him. 
When I am asked, I answer fearing my words should 
find no credence, so surprising will be my state- 
ments at a time when the prevalence of imitation 
poetry makes one believe that all true poetry 
and poets are dead. In ten years* time the 
Academy will, when all the world has already done 
so, recognise another glory to French literature. 
The clock of the Institute is often an hour behind 
the century, but I wish to be the first to discover 
one who may be truly called the Virgil of Provence, 
and who, like the shepherd of Mantua, sings to 
his countrymen songs worthy of Gallus and of 
Scipio. Many have long desired for our beautiful 
country of the south, Roman both in speech and 
religion, the poem which shall express in her own 
tongue the sacred beliefs and pure customs of our 
land. I have the poem in my hands, it consists of 
twelve songs. It is signed Frederic Mistral, of the 
village of Maillane, and I countersign it with my 
word of honour, which I have never given falsely, 
and with the full weight of my responsibility." 

This letter was received with jeers by certain 
papers. " The mistral is incarnated, it appears, 
in a poem. We shall see if it will be anything 
except wind." 


But Dumas, content with the effect of the bomb, 
said, clasping my hand : 

'' Now, my dear fellow, return to Avignon and 
get your Mireille printed. We have thrown 
down the glove, now let the critics talk. They 
must each one have their say in turn/' 

Before I left Paris my devoted compatriot 
wished to present me to Lamartine, his friend, and 
this is how the great man recounts the visit in his 
" Cours familier de Litterature '* (quarantieme 
entretien, 1859) • 

" As the sun was setting, Adolphe Dumas 
entered my room, followed by a fine, modest- 
looking young man, dressed with a sober elegance 
which recalled the lover of Laura, when he brushed 
his black tunic and combed his smooth hair in the 
city of Avignon. It was Frederic Mistral, the young 
village poet, destined to become in Provence, 
what Burns the ploughman was in Scotland, the 
Homer of his native land. 

"His expression was straightforward, modest 
and gentle, with nothing in it of that proud ten- 
sion of the features or of that vacancy of the eye 
which too often characterises those men of vanity 
rather than genius, styled popular poets. He 
had the comeliness of sincerity, he pleased, he 
interested, he touched; one recognised in his 

''MIREILLE" 279 

masculine beauty the son of one of those beautiful 
Arlesiennes, living statues of Greece, who still 
move in our south. 

*' Mistral sat down without ceremony at my 
dinner-table in Paris, according to the laws of 
ancient hospitality, as I would have seated myself 
at the farm table of his mother at Maillane. The 
dinner was quiet, the conversation intimate 
and frank. The evening passed quickly and 
pleasantly in my little garden about the size of 
the kerchief of Mireille, to the song of blackbirds 
in the fresh cool night air. 

" The young man recited some verses in the sweet 
nervous idiom of Provence, which combines the 
Latin pronunciation with the grace of Attica and 
the serenity of Tuscany. My knowledge of the 
Latin dialects, which I spoke up to the age of 
twelve in the mountains of my country, made 
these fine idioms intelligible to me. The verses of 
Mistral were liquid and melodious, they pleased 
without intoxicating me. The genius of the young 
man was not there, the medium was too restricted 
for his soul ; he needed, as did Jasmin, that other 
singer of indigenous growth, his epic poem in 
which to spread his wings. He returned to his 
village, there at his mother's hearth and beside 
the flocks to find his last inspirations. On taking 


leave, he promised to send me the first print( 
copy of his Mireille.'* 

After this memorable occasion I paid my far" 
well respects to Lamartine. He lived at that time 
on the ground floor in the Rue de la Ville-rEveque. 
It was evening. Burdened with his debts and 
somewhat forsaken, the great man drowsed on a 
sofa, smoking a cigar, while some visitors spoke in 
low voices around him. 

All at once a servant came to announce that a 
Spaniard, a harpist called Herrera, asked permis- 
sion to play some of the music of his country 
before Monsieur de Lamartine. 

" Let him come in,'' said the poet. 

When the harpist had played his tunes, Lamar- 
tine, in a whisper to his niece, Madame de Cessia, 
asked if there was any money in the drawers of 
his bureau. 

** There are still two louis,*' she replied. 

*' Give them to Herrera,'* said the kind-hearted 

I returned to Provence to get my poem printed, 
and so soon as it issued from the printing office of 
Seguin at Avignon, I directed the first proof to 
Lamartine, who wrote to Reboul * the following 
letter : 

* A well-known poet and writer of Nimes, author of a small 
poem regarded as a classic in France : " L'Ange et I'Enfant.'* 

*'MIREILLE" 281 

*' I have read Mirhio, Nothing until now has 
appeared of such national, vital, inimitable growth 
of the South. There is a virtue in the sun of Pro- 
vence. I have received such a thrust both in 
the spirit and the heart that I was impelled to 
write a discourse on the poem. Tell this to Mon- 
sieur Mistral. Since the Homerics of Archipel, 
no such spring of primitive poetry has gushed 
forth. I cried, even as you did, ' It is Homer ! ' '* 

Adolphe Dumas wrote me : 

March, 1859. 

" Another joyful letter for you, my dear friend. 
I went, last evening, to Lamartine. On seeing me 
enter, he received me with exclamations of enthu- 
siasm, using much the same expressions as I did 
in my letter to the Gazette de France. He has read 
and understood, he says, your poem from one end 
to the other. He read it and re-read it three times ; 
he cannot leave it, and reads nothing else. His 
niece, that beautiful person whom you saw, added 
that she has been unable to steal it from him for 
one instant to read it herself, and he is going to 
devote an entire lecture to you and Mir Ho, He 
asked me for biographical notes on you and on 
Maillane. I sent them to him this morning. You 
were the subject of general conversation all the 
evening, and your poem was rehearsed by Lamar- 


tine and by me from the first word to the last. 
If this lecture speaks thus of you, your fame is 
assured throughout the world. He says you are 
' A Greek of the Cyclades/ He has written of you 
to Reboul, ' He is a Homer/ He charges me to 
write you all that I will, and he added I cannot say 
too much, he is so entirely delighted. So be very 
happy, you and your dear mother, of whom I 
retain a charming remembrance/' 

I wish to record here a very singular fact of 
maternal intuition. I had given to my mother 
a copy of MireiOy but without having spoken to her 
of Lamartine's opinion, of which I was still igno- 
rant. At the end of the day, when I thought she 
had made acquaintance with the work, I asked her 
what she thought of it, and she answered me, 
deeply moved : 

*' A very strange thing happened to me when I 
opened thy book : a flash of light, like a star, 
dazzled me suddenly, and I was obliged to delay 
the reading until later ! '' 

One may believe it or no, but I have always 
thought that this vision of my beloved and 
sainted mother was a very real sign of the influence 
of Sainte-Estelle, otherwise of the star that had 
presided at the foundation of Felibrige. 

''MIREILLE" 283 

The fortieth discourse of the '* Cours famiUer 
de Litterature '* appeared a month later (1859) 
under the title of *' The Appearance of an Epic 
Poem in Provence/* Lamartine devoted eighty 
pages to the poem of Mireille, and this glorification 
was the crowning event of the numberless articles 
: which had welcomed the rustic epic in the press of 
Provence, of Languedoc, and of Paris. I testified 
my gratitude in the Provencal quatrain, which I 
inscribed at the head of the second edition. 


To thee alone Mireille I dedicate ; 

My heart, my soul, my flower, the best of me, 
A bunch of Crau's sweet grapes and leaves, that late 
A peasant offers thee. 

September 8, 1859. 

And the following is the elegy that I published on 
the death of the great man, ten years later (1869). 


When the day-star draws near to the hour of his setting, 
When dusk clothes the hills, and the shepherds are letting 
Their sheep and their herds and their dogs go free, 
Then up from the marshlands, all groaning together. 
Come the wails of the toilers through sweltering weather : 
" That sunshine was nearly the death of me ! " 

* For Proveufal text see p. I329. 


Thou, of God's holy words the magnanimous preacher. 
Even so, Lamartine, O my father, my teacher. 
When by song, and by deed, and consoHng tear. 
Thou did'st lavish thy love and thy light unsparing, 
Till the world had its fill, and the world, not caring. 
Grew weary and sated, and would not hear : 

Then each one his taunt through the mist must needs fling 

And each one a stone from his armoury sling thee : 
Thy splendour but hurt us, and tired our sight ; 
For a star that grows dim and no longer can light them, 
And a crucified god — these will ever delight them. 
The ignorant crowd — and the toads love night. 

Oh, then were there seen things prodigious, by Heaven ! 

Fresh youth to the soul of the world had he given. 

He, of purest poesy mighty source ; 

Yet the new young rhymesters were moved to laughter 

O'er his sadness prophetic, and said thereafter 

** That he knew not the poet's art, of course ! " 

High-Priest of the great Adonai*, he raises 
The soul of our creeds by the heavenly praises 
He hymns on the strings of Sion's golden harp ! 
Yet, calling to witness the Scriptures proudly, 
" A man irreligious " they dub him loudly. 
The Pharisee bigots who mouth and carp. 

He, the great, tender heart who has sung the disaster 

Of our monarchs ancestral, and he, the master 

Who with pomp of marble has built their tomb. 

On him all the gapers who vow adoration 

To the Royalist cause, have pronounced condemnation ; 

They call him insurgent — and give him room. 


He, the voice apostolic, while all men wondered, 

The great word " Republic " hath hurled and thundered 

Across the world's skies, till the peoples thrilled I 

Yet him, by a frenzy unspeakable smitten, 

Have all the mad dogs of Democracy bitten, 

And growled at him, snarled at him as they willed ! 

To the crater of fire, he, great patriot, had given 
Wealth, body and soul, and his country had striven 
To save from the burning volcano's flame ; 
Yet when, poor, he was begging his bread, all denied him, 
The bigwigs and burghers as spendthrift decried him, 
And, shut up in ease, to their boroughs came. 

When he saw himself then in disaster forsaken — :; 

With his cross, and by anguish and suffering shaken. 

Alone he ascended his Calvary ; 

And at dusk some good souls heard a long, long sighing, 

And then, through the spaces, this cry undying 

Rang out : " Eloi, lama sabachthani." 

But none dared draw nigh to that hill-top lonely, 
So he waited in patience and silence only, 
With his deep eyes closed and his hands spread wide ; 
Till, calm as the mountains at heaven's high portal. 
Amidst his ill-fortune, and fame immortal, 
Without ever speaking a word, he died. 

(Trans. Alma Strettell.) 


(a reminiscence of alphonse daudet) 

Alphonse Daudet, writing of his youth in the 
*' Lettres de mon MouHn'' and ** Trent e Ans de 
Paris/' has told with the finest bloom of his pen 
some of the pranks he played with the early 
Felibres at Maillane, Barthelasse, Baux, and 
Ch^teauneuf — that first crop of Felibres who in 
those days ran about the country of Provence for 
the fun of running, to keep themselves going, and 
above all to stir up again in the hearts of the people 
the Gai-Savoir of the Troubadours. There is, 
however, one joyous day of adventure we spent 
together some forty years ago, of which Daudet 
has not told. 

Alphonse Daudet was at that time secretary to 
the Due de Morny, honorary secretary be it under- 
stood, for the utmost that the young man ever did 
was to go once a month to see if his patron, the 
President of the Senate, was flourishing and in a 
good temper. Amongst other exquisite things 
from his pen, Daudet had written a love-poem 


called '* Les Prunes/' All Paris knew it by heart, 
and Monsieur de Morny, hearing it recited one 
evening in a drawing-room, requested the author 
might be presented to him, with the result that 
he took the young man under his patronage. 
To say nothing of his wit, which flashed like a 
diamond, Daudet was a handsome fellow, brown, 
with a clear skin and black eyes with long lashes, 
a budding beard and thick crop of hair which he 
allowed to grow so long that the Duke, every time 
the author of '' Les Prunes '' called on him at the 
Senate, would repeat, with disapproving finger 
pointing at the offending locks : 

*' Well poet — and when are we going to cut off 
this wig ? '' 

" Next week,Monseigneur,'' the poet invariably 

About once a month the great Due de Morny 
made the same observation to the little Daudet, 
and every time the poet made the same answer. 
But the Duke himself was more likely to fall than 
Daudet's mane. 

At that age the future chronicler of the prodigious 
adventures of Tartarin of Tarascon was a merry 
youth, who kept pace with the wind, impatient 
to know everything, an audacious Bohemian, 
frank and free with his tongue, throwing himself 



headlong in the swim of life with laughter and 
noise, always on the look-out for adventures. He 
had quicksilver in his veins. 

I remember one evening, when we were supping 
at the Chene-Vert, a pleasant inn in the neighbour- 
hood of Avignon, hearing music for a dance that 
was going on just below the terrace where we were 
dining. Daudet suddenly jumped down, a flying 
leap of some nine or ten feet, crashing through the 
branches of a vine trellis and landing in the midst 
of the dancers, who took him for a devil. 

Another time, from the height of the road which 
passes at the foot of the Pont du Gard, he threw 
himself, without knowing how to swim, into the 
River Gardon, to see, so he said, if the water was 
deep. Had not a fisherman caught hold of him 
with his boathook, my poor Alphonse would 
most certainly have drunk what we call '^ the soup 
of eleven o'clock ! " 

Another time, on the bridge that leads from 
Avignon to the island of Barthelasse, he madly 
climbed on the narrow parapet, and racing along 
at the risk of tumbling over into the Rhone, he 
cried out, for the edification of som,e country 
people who heard him : ** It is from here, by 
thunder ! that we threw the corpse of Brune into 
the Rhone, yes, the Marechal Brune ! And may 


it serve as an example to those northerners and 
barbarians if ever they return to annoy us ! '* 

One day in September, at Maillane, I received 
a Httle note from friend Daudet, one of those 
notes minute as a parsley leaf, well known to all 
his friends, in which he said to me : 

'' My Frederic, — To-morrow, Wednesday, I 
leave Fontvieille to come and meet thee at Saint- 
Gabriel. Mathieu and Grivolas will join us by the 
road from Tarascon. The place of meeting is the 
ale-house, where we shall await thee about nine 
o'clock or half -past. And there, at Sarrasine's, 
the lovely landlady of the place, having drunk a 
glass, we will set out on foot for Aries. Do not fail. 

*^Thy Red Hood." 

On the day mentioned, between eight and nine 

o'clock, we all found ourselves at Saint-Gabriel, 

rat the foot of the chapel which guards the moun- 

ttain. At Sarrasine's, we drank a cherry brandy, 

and then — forward on the white road. 

We inquired of a roadmender how far it was 
*to Aries. 

'' When you get to the tomb of Roland,'' he 
answered, ** you will still have two hours' walk." 

We inquired where was the tomb of Roland. 



" Down there where you see a group of cypresses 
on the banks of the Viqueirat.'* 

'' And this Roland, who was he ? '* 

'' He was, so they say, a famous captain of the 
time of the Saracens. . . . His teeth, I will 
wager, no longer hurt him.'* 

Greetings to thee, Roland ! We never ex- 
pected, when we set out, to find still living, in 
the fields and meadows of Trebon, the legendary 
glory of the Companion of Charlemagne. But 
to continue. Just as the Man of Bronze struck 
twelve, gaily we descended upon Aries, entering 
by the Porte de la Cavalerie, all of us white 
with dust. As we had the appetite of Spaniards 
we went at once to breakfast at the Hotel 

We were not badly served; and when one is 
young, making merry with friends and rejoicing 
to be alive, there is nothing like dining together 
for engendering high spirits. 

There was one thing, however, which disturbed 
our equanimity. A waiter in a black coat, with 
pomaded head, and whiskers standing out like 
birch brooms, hovered perpetually around us, a 
napkin under his arm, never taking his eyes off us, 
and under pretext of changing our plates, listening 
eagerly to all our foolish talk. 



'' We must get rid of him. Here, waiter ! " said 

The Hmpet approached. '* Yes, sir ? *' 

'' Quick, fetch me a dish — a large silver dish.*' 

'* To place upon it ? ** inquired the waiter, 

'* A jackanapes," replied Daudet in a voice of 

The changer of plates did not wait for any more, 
and from that moment left us in peace. 

*' What I dislike about these hotels," said 
Mathieu, " is that since the commercial traveller 
introduced the northern fashions, whether at 
Avignon, Augouleme, Draguignan, or even at 
Brier-la-Gaillarde, they now all give you the same 
nsipid dishes — carrot broth, veal and sorrel, roast 
beef half cooked, cauliflower with butter, and a 
variety of eatables with neither taste nor savour, 
[n Provence, if you want to find the old-fashioned 
:ooking of the country which was appetising and 
savoury, you must go to the little inn frequented 
oy the country people." 

'' What if we go this evening," cried Grivolas 
[he painter. 

'* Let us go," we all agreed. 

We paid without further delay, lighted our 
:igars and sallied forth to take our cup of coffee in 


a popular cafe^ and then in the narrow streets, cool 
and white with limestone, flanked by stately olc 
houses on either side, we strolled about till the twi 
light fell, looking at the queenly Arlesienne beauties 
on their doorsteps or behind the transparent windovs 
curtains, for I must own they had counted consider 
ably as a latent motive in our descent upon Aries 

We passed the Arena, its great gates wide open 
and the Roman theatre with its two majestic 
columns. We visited Saint-Trophime and th( 
cloisters, the famous Head without a Nose, th( 
Palaces of the Lion, of the Porcelets, of Constan- 
tine, and of the Grand Prior. 

Sometimes on the narrow pavement we ran uf 
against a donkey belonging to some water-carriei 
selling water from the Rhone in barrels. We alsc 
encountered troops of sunburnt gleaners, newly re- 
turned from the country, carrying on their heads the 
heavy load of gleanings, and beside these thevendon 
of snails, shouting at the pitch of their voices : 

** Who will buy fresh snails from the fields ! *' 

About sunset we inquired of a woman, who stooc 
just outside the fish-market knitting a stocking, i 
she could direct us to some little inn or tavern 
unpretentious, but clean, where we could dine ii 
simple apostolic fashion. 

The woman, thinking we were joking, cried ou 


to her neighbours, who, at her shout of laughter, 
came to their doors coifed with the coquettish 
headgear of Aries. 

*' See, here are some gentlemen looking for a 
tavern at which to sup — do you know of one ? *' 

** Send them," cried one, '' to the Rue Pique- 

^' Or to the ' Little Cat,' '' said another. 

'' Or to the ' Widow Come Here.' '' 

'' Or to the Gate of the Chestnuts.'* 

*' Don't mock us, my dears," said I. '* We want 
some quiet little place within the reach of any- 
body, where honest people go." 

'' Very well," said a fat man seated on a post, 
smoking his pipe, with a face coloured like a 
beggar's gourd, '* why not go to Counenc's ? See 
here, gentlemen, I will conduct you," he continued, 
rising and shaking out his pipe ; '' 1 have to go by 
that way. It is on the other side of the Rhone, 
in the suburb of Trinquetaille. It is not an hotel 
of the first order, my faith, but the watermen, 
the bargees and the boatmen who come from 
Condrieu, feed there and are not discontented. 
The owner is from Combs, a village near Beaucaire, 
which supplies some bargemen. I myself, who 
have the honour of addressing you, am master 
of a boat, and I have done my share of sailing." 


We inquired if he had been far afield. 

" Oh no/' he repHed, '' I have only sailed in the 
small coasting trade as far as Havre-de-Grace, 
but it is a true saying that there is never a boatman 
who does not face danger — and for sure, had it 
not been for the Great Saintes-Maries, who have 
always protected me, there are many times, my 
friends, when we should have gone under." 

" And they call you ? '' 

" Master Gafet ! Always at your service should 
you at any time run down to Sambuc or to Graz 
to see the vessels embedded in the sand at the 
river's mouth.'' 

So, chatting pleasantly, we arrived at the bridge 
of Trinquetaille, at that time still a bridge of boats. 
As we passed over the moving planks which con- 
nected the chain of boats one felt beneath the 
heaving river, powerful and living, on whose 
mighty bosom one rose and sank as it drew breath. 
Having crossed the Rhone, we turned to the left 
on the quay, and there, beneath an old treUis, 
bending over the trough of the well, we saw — how 
shall I describe her ? — a kind of witch, and one- 
eyed to boot, scraping and opening some lively 
eels. At her feet some cats were gnawing and 
fighting as she threw the heads down to 


*' That is 'La Counenque/ '' announced Master 

It was somewhat of a shock to poets who, 
since early morn, had dreamed but of beautiful 
and noble Arlesiennes. But — here we were ! 

'' Counenque, these gentlemen wish to sup 
here," said our guide. 

" Are you daft then. Master Gafet ? What 
the devil are you trying to saddle us with ! You 
know I have nothing to set before that sort." 

" See here, old idiot, hast not there a fine dish 
of eels ? " 

** Oh, if a hash of eels will make them happy ! 
But mind you, we have nothing else." 

'' Ho ! " cried Daudet, *' nothing we like better 
than a hash. Come in — come in, and you, Master 
Gafet, please sit down with us." 

Our friend Gafet willingly allowed himself to 
be persuaded, and we all five entered the tavern 
of Trinquetaille. 

In a low room, the floor of which was covered 
with beaten clay, but the walls were very white, 
stood a long table whereat were seated from fifteen 
to twenty bargemen in the act of cutting a kid, 
the landlord Counenc supping with them. 

From the beams of the ceiling, blackened by 


smoke, hung flycatchers in the shape of tamarinds, 
where the flies settled and were afterwards caught 
in a bag. We sat down on benches at another 
table, opposite the bargemen, who, on seeing us, 
became silent. 4 

While the hash was preparing on the stove, 
'* La Counenque,'' to give us an appetite, brought 
some enormous onions, those grown at Bellegarde, 
a dish of Jamaica pepper in vinegar, some fer- 
mented cheese, preserved olives, botargo of 
Martinique, and slices of braised haddock. 

'' And thou who saidst there was nothing to 
eat ! '' cried Master Gafet, cutting the bread with 
his big hooked knife ; '* but it is a wedding feast !" 

'' By our Lady,** answered the one-eyed, '' if 
you had let us know beforehand, we might have 
prepared you a hlanquette a la mode — or an 
omelette — but when people drop down on you in 
the twilight like a hair in the soup, you understand, 
gentlemen, one has to give them what one can.'* 

Daudet, who in his whole life had never before 
seen such specimens of the Camargue, seized one of 
the onions — fine fiat onions, golden as a Christmas 
loaf — and boldly crunched and swallowed it, leaf 
by leaf, with his fine strong teeth, to the accom- 
paniment of some fermented cheese and haddock. 
It is only fair to mention we also did our best to 


help him, while Master Gaf et, raising every now and 
again the brimming jug of Crau wine, his face 
ablaze as I never saw the like. 

'' Oh these young bloods ! " said he, " the onion 
makes one drink and keeps up the thirst/' 

In less than half an hour one could have lighted 
a match on any one of our cheeks. Then the hash 
(catigot) arrived, a dish in which a shepherd's 
crook could have stood upright, salted like the 
sea, and peppered like the devil. 

'' Salting and peppering make one find the 
wine very good,'' said the fat Gafet ; *' let us 
clink glasses, my boys." 

The bargemen meantime, having finished their 
kid, ended their repast, as is the custom of the 
watermen of Condrieu, with a plate of fat soup. 
Each one poured a big glass of wine into his plate, 
then, lifting it with both hands, all together they 
drank off the mixture at one gulp, smacking their 
lips with pleasure. The master of a raft, who 
wore his beard like a collar, then sang a song which, 
if I remember, finished like this : 

When our fleet arrives 
On the way to Toulon, 
We salute the town 
With a roll of cannon. 

*' Thunder ! but we must give them one back," 


cried Daudet. And he burst out with a chorus 
which referred to the time of the Civil War with 
the Vaulois : 

To Lourmarin — Light-horseman 

There they die ! 
To Lourmarin — Light-horseman 

Quickly fly! &c. 

Then the men of the river, not to be outdone, 
responded with a chorus : 

The maidens of Valence 

Know naught of love's sweet way. 

But those of fair Provence 
Enjoy it night and day. 

** Together now, boys,'' we cried to the singers. 
And in unison, making castanets of our fingers, 
we shouted with such full lungs that the one-eyed 
interrupted us : 

'* Shut up,'' said she, *' if the police pass by they 
will have you up for brawling at nights." 

'* The police," we cried ; ''we snap our fingers 
at them. '' Here," added Daudet, " go and fetch 
the visitors' book." 

The '' Counenque " brought the book in which 
all who passed the night at the inn inscribed their 
names, and the polite secretary of Monsieur de 
Morny wrote in his best hand : 


A. Daudet, Secretary of the President of the Senate. 

F. Mistral, ChevaUer of the Legion of Honour. 

A. Mathieu, Fehbre of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. 

P. Grivolas, Master painter of the School of Avignon. 

'' And if any one/' he continued, '' if any one, 
O Counenque, should ever dare make trouble, 
:i be he commissioner, policeman or sub-prefect, 
^ thou hast only to place these inky spider's legs 
under his moustache. If after that he is not 
quieted, write to me in Paris and I wager I will 
make him dance.*' 

We settled our bill, and accompanied by the 

i admiring glances of all, we left with the air of 

princes who had just revealed their identity. 

Arrived at the footpath of the bridge of Trinque- 

taille : 

'' What if we danced a bit of a farandole ? *' 
proposed the indefatigable and charming novelist 
of the '' Mule du Pape.'' '' The bridges of Pro- 
vence are only made for that.'' 

So forward. In the clear, limpid light of the 
September moon, which was reflected in the water, 
behold us stepping gaily and singing on the bridge. 

About midway across we saw advancing a 
procession of Arlesiennes, of delicious Arlesiennes, 
each one with her cavalier, walking and bowing, 
laughing and talking. The rustling of petticoats. 


the frou-frou of silk, the soft murmurs of the happy 
couples as they spoke together in the peaceful 
night with the thrill of the Rhone that glided 
between the boats, was an emotional experience 
never to be forgotten. 

" A wedding ! '' cried the fat Gafet, who had 
not yet left us. 

'' A wedding," echoed Daudet, who, with his 
short sight, only just perceived the advancing 
party. ** An Arlesienne wedding! A moonlight 
wedding ! A wedding in the middle of the 
Rhone ! " 

And taken with a sudden mad impulse, our 
buck sprang forward, threw himself on the neck 
of the bride, and kissed her with a will. 

Then followed a pretty row ! We were all in 
for it, and if ever we were hard put to it in our lives, 
it was certainly on that occasion. Twenty fellows 
with raised sticks surrounded us : 

*' To the Rhone with the rascals ! " 

'' What is it all about ? " cried Master Gafet, 
pushing back the crowd. '' Can't you see we have 
been drinking ? Drinking to the health of the 
bride in the Trinquetaille, and that to commence 
drinking again would do us harm ? " 

" Long live the bridal couple ! " we all exclaimed. 
And thanks to the valiant Gafet, whom every one 


knew, and to his presence of mind, the thing 
ended there. 

The next question was where to go next ? The 
Man of Bronze had just struck eleven o'clock. 
We decided to make the tour of the Aliscamps.* 

Passing down the Lice d' Aries we went the 
round of the ramparts, and by the light of the moon 
descended the avenue of poplars leading to the 
cemetery of the old Aries of the Romans. And 
while wandering amongst the tombs and sarco- 
phagi, showing white on either side in long rows, 
we solemnly chaunted the fine ballad by Camille 
Reybaud : 

The poplars growing in the churchyard here 

Salute the dead that in these graves abide — 
If thou the sacred mysteries dost fear 
Oh never pass the churchyard by so near ! 

The long, white grave-stones in the churchyard here 

Have flung their heavy covers open wide. 
If thou the sacred mysteries, &c. &c. 

* Les Aliscamps, the famous burying-ground of the 
Romans. In the old pagan days it was said that this wonderful 
necropolis made Aries, the queen of cities, more opulent 
beneath her soil than above. Here the great Romans in the 
time of Augustus and Constantine regarded it as their privilege 
to be buried. — C. E. M. 


Upon the greensward in the churchyard here 

The dead men all stand upright side by side. 
If thou the sacred mysteries, &c. &c. 

They all embrace within the churchyard here, 

These mute and silent brothers who have died. 
If thou the sacred mysteries, &c. &c. 

'Tis keeping holiday, the churchyard here, 

And dancing to and fro the dead men glide. 
If thou the sacred mysteries, &c. &c. 

Across the churchyard now the moon shines clear ; 

Each maiden seeks her love, each lad his bride. 
If thou the sacred mysteries, &c. &c. 

No more they find them, in the churchyard here. 
Their loves of yore, that would not be denied. 
If thou the sacred mysteries, &c. &c. 

Oh open me the churchyard wicket wide ! 

Let my love in, to comfort them that died ! . . . 

(Trans. Alma Strettell.) 

Suddenly, from a yawning tomb three paces from 
us, we heard in dolorous sepulchral tones these 
words : 

*' Let sleep in peace those who sleep ! '' 

We remained petrified, and all around us in the 
moonlight a deep silence reigned. 

At last Mathieu said softly to Grivolas : 

'' Didst thou hear ? '* 


'* Yes," replied the painter, ** it is down there, 
in that sarcophagus." 

'* Eh," cried Master Gafet, bursting into 
laughter, '* that is a ' dressed sleeper,* as we call 
them in Aries, one of those vagrants who come to 
lodge at night in the empty tombs." 

'' What a pity," cried Daudet, *' that it was not 
a real ghost ! Some beautiful vestal, who at the 
voice of the poets was roused from her sleep, and, 
Oh, my Grivolas, wished to rise up and embrace 
thee ! " 

Then in a resounding voice he sang, and we all 
joined in : 

" De I'abbaye passant les portes 
Autour de moi, tu trouverais 
Des nonnes rerrante cohorte 
Car en suaire je serais ! " 

" O Magali, si tu te fais 
La pauvre morte 
La terre alors je me ferais 
La je t'aurai ! " 

After which we all shook hands with Master Gafet 
and made our way quickly to the railway station, 
there to take the train for Avignon. 

Seven years later, the year, alas ! of the great 
catastrophe, I received this letter ; 


** Paris, December 31, 1870. 
" My Chieftain, — I send thee, by the balloon 
just rising, a heap of kisses. And it gives me 
pleasure to be able to send them in the language 
of Provence, for so I am assured that the Bar- 
barians, should this balloon fall into their hands, 
cannot read a word of my writing, nor publish my 
letter in their Merciire de Souabe. It is cold, it 
is dark : we eat horse, cat, camel, and hippo- 
potamus ! Ah, for the good onions, the catigot, 
and fermented cheese of the tavern of Trinque- 
taille ! 

'' The guns burn our fingers. Wood is becoming 
scarce. The armies of the Loire come not ! But 
that does not matter — we will keep the cock- 
roaches from Berlin wearing themselves out for 
some time yet in front of our ramparts. . . . 
And then if Paris is lost, I know of some good 
patriots who are ready to take Monsieur de 
Bismarck round the little streets of our poor 
capital. Farewell, my chief — three big kisses, one 
from me, one from my wife, and the other from 
my son. With that a happy New Year as always, 
until this day next year. Thy Felibre, 

^'Alphonse Daudet." 

And then they dare to say that Daudet is not a 


good Provencal ! Just because he jokes and 
ridicules the Tartarins, the Roumestans, and 
Xante Portals, and other imbeciles of this country, 
who try to Frenchify the language of our Provence. 
For that Tartarin owes him a grudge ! 

No ! The mother lioness is not angry, and will 
never be angry, with the young lion who, in 
fighting, sometimes gives her a scratch. 


Paul Marieton, Chancelier des Felibres. 


The following extract, translated from' the 
biographical notice of Frederic Mistral, written 
for ** La Grande Encyclopedic'* by Monsieur 
Paul Marieton, for many years Chancelier des 
Felibres and a French poet and writer of note, 
takes up the history of Felibrige where the 
Memoirs leave off : 

The unanimity of votes accorded to Mireille * by 
the members of the French Academy set the seal 
of sanction to the Provengal Renaissance, and 
reinforced Mistral himself with faith and resolu- 
tion to carry out his mission. Up till that time 
he had said truly, as in the opening strophe of 
Mireille^ that he *^sang only for the shepherds 
and people of the soil ! ■' — '* What will they say 
at Aries ? *' was his one thought as he wrote 
Mireille. But before the completion of his epic 

* Mireille was crowned by the Academy, and the poet 
received a prize of ten thousand francs. 


his ambition for his native tongue had widened. 
The notes in the Appendix and the French transla- 
tion published with the Proven9al testify to this 
fact. Already he was beginning to realise the 
leading part he was about to play in the society 
founded at Font-Segugne. The school of Rou- 
manille, of which, in virtue of Mireille, Mistral 
was now chief, added to its members daily. 

The rules of the language were now fixed, 
the language of the Felibres, and thanks to 
V Armana (an annual publication initiated and 
edited by Roumanille) were little by little adopted 
by the people. This classic vulgate — with which 
Mistral, by pruning and enriching his native 
dialect, had, like another Dante, dowered his 
country — had become immortal, having given birth 
to a masterpiece. It now remained to give a 
national tendency to the movement. It was by 
raising the ambitions of a race, and annexing the 
sympathy of the *' Felibres '' among them, by 
showing them their ancestry from remotest times, 
and bringing to light their inalienable rights, that 
Mistral evolved out of a literary renaissance a 
great patriotic cause. 

With his Ode aux Catalans (1859) and his Chant 
de la Coupe, Mistral sealed the alliance between 
the Provencals and the Catalans, their brethren 


both of race and tongue. This was ratified 
when in 1868 Mistral, together with Roumieux, 
Paul Meyer, and Bonaparte Wyse, met at the 
Barcelona fete in response to the call of the 


Men of Provence, this Cup has come to us 
Pledge of our Catalonian brothers' troth, 

Then let us each in turn drain from it thus 
The pure wine of our native vineyard's growth. 

O sacred cup 

Filled brimming up ! 

Pour out to overflowing 

Enthusiasms glowing, 

The energy pour out that doth belong 

Of right unto the strong. 

Of an ancestral people proud and free 

Perchance we are the end, we faithful few : 

And should the ** Felibres " fall, it well may be 
The end and downfall of our nation too. 

O sacred cup, &c. 

Yet, in a race that germinates again 

We are perchance the first-fruits of our earth. 

We are perchance the pillars that maintain. 
The knights that lead, the country of our birth. 

O sacred cup, &c. 

* For Proven9al text see p. 332, 


Pour out for us the golden hopes once more, 
The visions that our youth was wont to see, 

And, with remembrance of the days of yore, 
Faith in the days that are about to be. 
O sacred cup, &c. 

Pour for us, mingled with thy generous wine. 
Knowledge of Truth and Beauty, both in one. 

And lofty joys and ravishments divine 
That laugh at Death and bid its fears begone. 

O sacred cup, &c. 

Pour out for us the gift of poesy. 
That all things living we may fitly sing ; 

The only true ambrosial nectar she 

That changes man, to god transfiguring. 

O sacred cup, &c. 

Ye that at last with us consenting are. 
Now for the glory of this land most dear, 

O Catalonian brothers, from afar 

Unite with us in this communion here. 

O sacred cup, &c. 

(Trans. Alma Strettell.) 

Thus little by little the Felibrige, first started 
by Roumanille and promoted by his political 
pamphlets, his Christmas Songs and Popular 
Tales, was developed by Mistral into a national 
movement. This was shown clearly in his second 
important work, Calandal, a poem in twelve 
cantos (1867), which from that time divided the 
honours with Mireilh, 


The two poems were in striking contrast one 
to the other. Mireille depicted the Provence of 
the Crau and the Camargue, Calandal the Provence 
of the mountains and the sea. Mireille was 
virgin honey, Calandal the Hon's mane. In the 
latter poem, Mistral attempted to give perhaps 
too much local colour to please the general public, 
in spite of the incomparable style. The reception 
of this work by the Felibres, however, was enthu- 
siastic, the heroic symbolism and eloquence of 
the poet, speaking in the name of all vindicators 
of his race, gave birth to a set of mystic patriots 
and created the Felibreen religion. 

Little by little, thanks to the vital impulse 
given by Mistral, Felibrige crossed the Rhone. 
After having aroused some fervent proselytes, 
such as Louis Roumieux and Albert Arnavielle 
at Nimes and Alais, it resulted at Montpellier 
in the inauguration of the ^' Society for studying 
Ancient Languages,'* under the auspices of Baron 
de Tourtoulon. The work of this group scien- 
tifically justified the raising and purifying of the 
Oc language. Strengthened by the support of 
the learned and lettered officials, up to that period 
refractory, the Felibrige movement, already 
Provengal and Catalan, now became Latin also. 

The memorable occasion of the Centenary 

312 APPENDIX jfl 

Fete of Petrarch in 1874 at Avignon, presided over 
by Aubanel and initiated by Monsieur de Berlu(> 
Perussis, was the first international consecratioW' 
of the new Uterature and of the glory of Mistral. 

A large assembly of the philological Sociel^, 
Romane in 1875, followed by the Latin Fetes £^' 
Montpellier in 1876, at which the young wife of the 
poet was elected Queen of the Felibres, definitely 
confirmed the importance of a poetic renaissance 
which the author of Mireille and Calandal had 
developed from a small intimate society into a 
wide social movement. 

Three years previously (1875) the intellectual 
sovereignty of Mistral had impressed itself on all 
the south of France by the publication of his 
collected poems ''Lis Isclo d'Or*' (*^The Golden 
Isles*') which revealed the serene genius of the 
master, his extraordinary versatility and his 
unquestionable title to represent his race. 

Shortly after, at Avignon, the poet was pro- 
claimed Grand Master (Capoulie) of the literary 
federation of the Meridional provinces, and became 
the uncontested chief of a crusade of the Oc 
country for the reconquest of its historic dignity 
and position. 

The sort of pontificate with which Mistral was 
from henceforth invested in^no way arrested the 


outflowing of his songs. A new poem, Nerto, 
lighter in form than hitherto, in the style of the 
romantic epics of the renaissance, suddenly drew 
the attention of the critics again to the poet of 
Provence, and the charm and infinite variety of 
his genius. 

Having already compared him to Homer, to 
Theocritus, and to Longus, they now found in his 
work the illusive seduction of Ariosto. A visit 
that he paid to Paris in 1884, after an absence of 
twenty years, sealed his fame in France and his 
glory in Provence. He was surrounded by an 
army of followers. Paris, which knew hitherto 
only the poet, now recognised a new literature in 
the person of its chief. The French Academy 
crowned Nerto as before they had crowned Mireille. 
Mistral celebrated there in the French capital the 
fourth centenary of the union of Provence and 
France ; '* as a joining together of one principality 
to another principality," according to the terms 
of the ancient historical contract. 

He returned to his Provence consecrated chief 
of a people. The Proven9al Renaissance con- 
tinued to extend daily. Mistral endowed the 
movement at last with the scientific and popular 
weapon essential for its defence, a national dic- 
tionary. It was the crowning work of his life, 


*' The Treasury of Felibrige/' All the various 
dialects of the Oc language are represented in 
this vast collection of an historic tongue, rich, 
melodious, vital, rescued and reinstated by its 
indefatigable defenders at a moment when all 
conspired to hasten its decrepitude. 

All the meanings and acceptations, accompanied 
by examples culled from every writer in the Oc 
language, every idiom and proverb, are patiently 
collected together in this encyclopaedic tresaiirus 
which could never be replaced. 

The Institute awarded him a prize of four 
hundred francs. 

In 1890 Mistral published a work he had for 
some time contemplated. La Reino Jano {Queen 
Joan) a Provengal tragedy. In spite of the rare 
beauty and picturesque eloquence of many of 
the cantos, this poem, evoking as it does the 
Angevine Provence of the fourteenth century, 
obtained only half the success of Nerto from the 
public. The French do not share with the Felibres 
the cult of Queen Joan. 

If this essentially national tragedy was judged 
in Paris a merely moderately good drama, it must 
be remembered that the Parisians did not take into 
account the familiar popularity which Mistral knew 
to exist for his heroine among his own people. 


While awaiting the production of Queen Joan 
at the Roman Theatre of Orange, restored by the 
FeUbres, Mistral continued the active side of his 

The spreading of the movement on all sides 
called for more influential organs than either the 
Almanac or the annual publication. After 
having contributed for forty years to the Armana 
and having presided at the inauguration of the 
Felibreen Review in 1885, he became principal 
editor in 1890 of a Proven9al paper in Avignon, 
UAioli, which under his auspices became the 
quarterly monitor of Felibrige. 

While still retaining the leadership of the move- 
ment, Mistral published here and there sundry 
chapters of his Memoirs, also exhortations to his 
people, lectures, poems, and chronicles. 

In 1897 he published another poem, like the 
former seven years in the making, Le Poeme du 
Rhone. It is the most delicate and most ingenu- 
ously epic of his productions. Above all, he 
showed in this work his profound symbolism, 
revealed not only in the depth and breadth of 
his thought, but in the originality of his versifica- 
tion. Taking the traditions of the country, he 
has woven them into the winding silk cord of the 
living, glistening, eternal Rhone, this poem of 

3i6 APPENDIX ^[ 

the river's course. He has inspired his peopli 
to restore the honour of these traditions by thj 
radiant example and fruitful labour of his o^ 

The Memoirs best reveal the deep roots of hi! 
patriotism. In describing his harmonious exisi^i 
ence, the master relates his experience both as " 
celebrated writer and as a Provengal farmer. 
Portraits of great men and of great peasants 
stand out in his record. One can judge of him 
as a prose writer by the Tales and Addresses 
appearing here and there during a period of forty 
years, pages which often equalled in beauty 
the finest songs of the poet. His letters also, 
which sowed unceasingly the good grain of the 
Renaissance, will, when published one day, 
show even better than the translation of his 
verse what a great writer the French have 
in Mistral. 

His life after all has been his finest poem. 
In order to bring about the realisation of his ideal, 
the raising of his country, he has in turn shown 
himself poet, orator, philologist, and, above all, 
patriot. The " new life ** that his work has 
infused into the body of Felibrige has not only 
regenerated his own Provence by erecting a social 
ideal, it has also promoted the diffusion of a 


patriotic sentiment which has become general 
throughout France, and which may be defined as 
federahsm or simply decentralisation. The ideas 
of Mistral on this subject of local centres per- 
mitting the free expansion of individual energies 
are well known. It can only be accomplished, 
according to his theory, by a new constituency, the 
electors of the existing system being too taken up 
organising the redivision of the departments to 
enter into other questions. But he has always 
refused to become the leader of a political move- 
ment. '* He who possesses his language holds 
the key which shall free him from his chains," 
Mistral has always said, meaning thereby that in 
the language dwells the soul of a people. Thus 
restricting himself to the leadership of a linguistic 
movement he desired to remain always a poet. 
It is the purity of his fame which has given such 
power to his position. By the charm of his per- 
sonality he won large crowds, just as by his 
writings he charmed the lettered and the educated. 
For he was always possessed by a profound belief 
in the vitality of his language and faith in a 
renewal of its glory, and absolutely opposed in 
this respect to Jasmin, who invariably proclaimed 
himself as the last of the poets of the Oc tongue. 
If Mistral is not the only worker in the Provenjal 


Renaissance, it is at all events owing to his genius 
that the movement took wing and lived. Before 
he arose the ancient and illustrious Oc language 
was in the same deplorable condition as were the 
Arenas of Nimes and of Aries at the beginning 
of the century. Degraded, unsteady, enveloped 
by parasite hovels, their pure outline was being 
obliterated by the disfiguring leprosy. One day 
came reform, and, taking control, swept away the 
hovels and rubbish, restoring to their bygone 
splendour these amphitheatres of the old Romans. 
Even so, barbarous jargons had defaced the 
idiom of Provence. Then with his following of 
brilliant and ardent patriots Mistral came and 
dispersed the degenerating patois, restoring to 
its former beauty the Greek purity of form belong- 
ing to the edifice of our ancestors and fitting it 
for present use. Paul Mari^ton. 

Every year in May, on the Feast of Sainte-Estelle, 
the four branches of Felibrige are convoked to 
important assizes at some place on Provencal soil. 
At the end of the banquet which follows the floral 
sports, and after the address of the chief, the latter 
raises high the Grail of the poetic mysteries, and 
intones the Song of the Cup. The hymn of the 
faith and cause of the race is taken up gravely 

Madame Gasc^uet (nee Mlle. Girard), 3rd Queen of the P'kijbres, 


and the refrain joined in by all the company. 
Then the cup goes round fraternally and each 
member, before touching it with his lips, in turn 
rehearses his vow of fidelity. 

The assizes of Sainte-Estelle are followed by 
a meeting of the consistory, who elect the new 
members. The consistory is composed of a chief 
or capoulie, of a chancellor, and fifty senior 
members chosen from among the four branches. 
Every branch, Provence, Languedoc, Aquitaine, 
and the affiliated branch of La Catalogne, is pre- 
sided over by its own syndicate, and nominates 
an assistant to the capoulie, Felibrige numbers 
to-day many thousand members, without counting 
the foreign associations in other parts of France, 
such as the Felibres of the west, inaugurated by 
Renan in 1884, and the Cigales of Paris, first 
started by the Provenceaux of that city, as Paul 
Arene declared : 

"Pour ne pas perdre Taccent, nous fondimes 
la Cigale. ..." 

The classic cicada is now the badge of the Order 
and is worn by all members at their fetes. 

Every seven years takes place a great meeting 
and floral feast, on which occasion three first 
prizes are awarded for poetry, prose, and Felibreen 
work, and a Queen of Felibrige is elected. 



Their queen presides at the principal assize's 
of the cause. The first to be chosen was Madame 
Mistral, the young wife of the chief, at Montpellier 
in 1878. The second was Mademoiselle Therese 
Roumanille (Madame Boissiere), daughter of the 
poet. The third was Madame Gasquet, nee 
Mademoiselle Girard ; and the fourth and present 
queen is Madame Bischoffsheim, nee Mademoiselle 
de Chevigne. A procession of Felibr esses form an 
escort to the reigning queen. 

The Provencal Renaissance has counted many 
distinguished women writers and poets among its 
members. Among the first of these trouveresses 
were Madame Roumanille, wife of the poet, 
whose work was crowned at the Fete of Apt in 
1863 ; Madame d'Arband (1863) ; Mademoiselle 
Riviere, whose '*Belugo'' was sung by all our 
leaders (1868) ; Madame Lazarin Daniel, Felibr esse 
of the Crau ; Madame Gautier-Bremond of Tar- 
ascon, celebrated for her '' Velo-blanco*' (1887); 
not to mention the many whose names in recent 
years have been an honour to the cause. 

It was on the occasion of the Fete at Mont- 
pelHer, May 25, 1878, that the ''Hymne a la 
Race Latine'' was recited on the Place du 
Peyron, that song which has since become a 
national possession and pride. 



Arise, arise renewed, O Latin race, 

Beneath the great cope of thy golden sun 

The russet grape is bubbling in the press, 
And gushing forth the wine of God shall run . 

With hair all loosened to the sacred breeze 

From Tabor's Mount — thou art the race of light. 
That lives of joy, and round about whose knees 

Enthusiasm springs, and pure delight ; 
The Apostolic race, that through the land 

Sets all the bells a-ringing once again ; 
Thou art the trumpet that proclaims — the hand 

That scatters far and wide the bounteous grain. 

Arise, arise renewed, O Latin race, &c. 

Thy mother-tongue, that mighty stream that flows 

Afar through seven branches, never dies ; 
But light and love outpouring, onward goes. 

An echo that resounds from Paradise. 
O Roman daughter of the People-King, 

Thy golden language, it is still the song 
That human lips unceasingly shall sing — 

While words yet have a meaning — ages long. 

Arise, arise renewed, &c. 

For Provenyal text see p. 334. 


^'"^''' f> 



...■.-,.< u 


Thy blood illustrious on every side 

Hath been outpoured for justice and for right ; 
Thy mariners across the distant tide 

Have sailed to bring an unknown world to light. 
A hundred times the pulsing of thy thought 

Hath shattered and brought low thy kings of yore ; 
Ah ! but for thy divisions, who had sought 

Ever to rule thee, or to frame thy law ! 

Arise, arise renewed, &c. 

Kindling thy torch at radiances divine 

From the high stars, 'tis thou hast given birth. 
In shapes of marble and in pictured line. 

To Beauty's self, incarnate upon earth. 
The native country thou of god-like Art, 

All graces and all sweetness come from thee. 
Thou art the source of joy for every heart. 

Yea, thou art youth, and ever more shalt be. 

Arise, arise renewed, &c. 

With thy fair women's pure and noble forms 

The world's pantheons everywhere are stored ; 
And at thy triumphs, yea, thy tears, thy storms, 

Men's hearts must palpitate with one accord ; 
The earth's in blossom when thy meadows bloom. 

And o'er thy follies every one goes mad ; 
But when thy glory is eclipsed in gloom 

The whole world puts on mourning and is sad. 

Arise, arise renewed, &c. 


Thy limpid sea, that sea serene, where fleet 

The whitening sails innumerable ply, 
That crisps the soft, wet sand about thy feet. 

And mirrors back the azure of the sky, 
That ever-smiling sea, God poured its flood 

From out His splendour with a lavish hand, 
To bind the brown-hued peoples of thy blood 

With one unbroken, scintillating band. 

Arise, arise renewed, &c. 

Upon thy sun-kissed slopes, on every side 

The olive grows, the tree of peace divine, 
And all thy lands are crowned with the pride 

Of thy prolific, broadly-spreading vine. 
O Latin race, in faithful memory 

Of that thy glorious, ever-shining past, 
Arise in hope toward thy destiny. 

One brotherhood beneath the Cross at last ! 

Arise, arise renewed, O Latin race, 

Beneath the great cope of thy golden sun ! 

The russet grape is bubbling in the press. 

And gushing forth the wine of God shall run ! 

(Trans. Alma Strettell.) 

To conclude with the words of Mistral quoted 
from one of his addresses : 

" If thou wouldst that the blood of thy race 
maintain its virtue, hold fast to thy historic 
tongue. ... In language there lies a mystery, 
a precious treasure. . . . Every year the nightin- 
gale renews his feathers, but he changes not his 
note." C. E. Maud. 




(From " Lis Isclo d'Or.") 

Oh ! vers li piano de tousello 
Leissas me perdre pensatieu, 
Dins li grand blad plen de rousello 
Ounte drouloun ieu me perdiue ! 

Quaucun me bousco 

De tousco en tousco 
En recitant soun angelus ; 

E, cantarello, 

Li calandrello 
leu vau seguent dins lou trelus . . 

Ah ! pauro maire, 
Beu cor amaire, 
Cridant moun noum t'ausirai plus ! 


Nautre, li sorre eme li fraire 
Que lou seguian per tout terraire, 
Sus uno ratamalo, i furour de la mar, 
E senso velo e senso remo, 


Fuguerian embandi. Li femo 

Toumbavian un ri^u de lagremo ; 

Lis ome vers lou ceu pourtavon soun regard. 

Uno ventado tempestouso 

Sus la marino souvertouso 

Couchavo lou bateu : Marciau e Savoumin 

Soun ageinouia sus la poupo ; 

Apensamenti, dins sa roupo 

Lou viei Trefume s'agouloupo ; 

Contro eu ero asseta I'evesque Massemin. 

Dre sus lou teume, aqu6u Laz^ri 

Que de la toumbo e dou susari 

Avie'ncaro garda la mourtalo palour, 

Semblo afrounta lou gourg que reno : 

Em'eu la nau perdudo enmeno 

Marto sa sorre, e Madaleno, 

Couchado en un cantoun, que plouro sa doulour. 

Contro uno ribo sdnso roco. 

Alleluia ! la barco toco ; 

Sus I'areno eigalouso aqui nous amourran 

E cridan touti : Nosti testo 

Qu'as poutira de la tempesto, 

Fin-qu'au couteu li vaqui lesto 

A prouclama ta lei, o Crist ! Te lou juran ! 

A-n-aqueu noum, de joui'ssdngo, 

La noblo terro de Prouven9o 

Pareis estrementido ; a-n-aqueu crid nouveu, 

E lou bouscas e lou campestre 

An trefouli dins tout soun estre, 

Coume un chin qu'en sentent soun mestre 

le cour a I'endavans e ie fai lou beu-beu. 


La mar avie jita d'arceli . . . 

Pater noster, qui es in coeli, — 

A nosto longo fam manderes un renos ; 

A nosto set, dins lis engano 

Fagueres naisse uno fountano ; 

E miraclouso, e lindo, e sano, 

Gisclo enca dins la gleiso ounte soun nostis os ! 


O Magali, ma tant amado, 
Mete la testo au fenestroun ! 
Escouto un pau aquesto aubado 
De tambourin e de viouloun. 

Es plen d'estello, aperamount ! 

L'auro es toumoado, 
Mai lis estello paliran, 

Quand te veiran ! 

— Pas mai que dou murmur di broundo 
De toun aubado ieu fau cas ! 
Mai ieu m'envau dins la mar bloundo 
Me faire anguielo de roucas. 

— Magali ! se tu te fas 

Lou pels de I'oundo, 
Ieu, lou pescaire me farai, 

Te pescarai ! 

— Oh ! mai, se tu te fas pescaire, 
Ti vertoulet quand jitaras, 
Ieu me farai I'auceu voulaire, 
M'envoularai dins li campas. 

Madame Bischoffsheim (nee Mlle. de Chevigne), 



— O Magali, se tu te fas 

L'auceu de I'aire, 
leu lou cassaire me farai, 

Te cassarai. 

— I perdigau, i bouscarido, 
Se venes, tu, cala ti las, 
leu me farai I'erbo flourido 
E m'escoundrai dins li pradas. 

— O Magali, se tu te fas 

La margarido, 
Ku I'aigo lindo me farai, 


— Se tu te fas Teigueto lindo, 
leu me farai lou nivoulas, 

E leu m'enanarai ansindo 
A TAmerico, perabas ! 

— O Magali, se tu t'envas 

Alin is Indo, 
L'auro de mar ieu me farai, 
Te pourtarai ! 

— Se tu te fas la marinado, 
leu fugirai d'un autre las : 
leu me farai Tescandihado 

Dou grand souleu que found lou glas ! 

— O Magali, se tu te fas 

La souleiado, 
Lou verd limbert ieu me farai, 
E te beurai ! 


— Se tu te rendes I'alabreno 
Que se rescound dins lou bartas, 
I^u me rendrai la luno pleno 
Que dins la niue fai lume i masc ! 

— O Magali, se tu fas 

Luno sereno, 
I6u bello neblo me farai, 

— Mai se la neblo m'enmantello, 
Tu, per ac6, noun me tendras ; 
I^u, bello roso vierginello, 
M'espandirai dins Tespinas ! 

— O Magali, se tu te fas 

La roso bello, 
Lou parpaioun ieu me farai, 
Te beisarai. 

— Vai, calignaire, courre, courre ! 
Jamai, jamai m'agantaras : 

I6u, de la rusco d'un grand roure 
Me vestirai dins lou bouscas. 

— O Magali, se tu te fas 

L'aubre di mourre, 
leu lou clot d'eurre me farai, 
T'embrassarai ! 

— Se me vos prene a la brasseto, 
Ren qu'un viei chaine arraparas . . . 

Ieu me farai bianco moungeto 
D6u mounastie djou grand Sant Bias 


— O Magali, se tu te fas 

Mounjo blanqueto, 
I^u, capelan, counfessarai, 
E t'ausirai ! 

— Se d6u couvent passes li porto, 
Touti li mounjo trouvaras 

Qu'a moun entour saran per orto, 
Car en susari me veiras ! 

— O Magali, se tu te fas 

La pauro morto, 
Adounc la terro me farai, 
Aqui t'aurai ! 

— Aro coumence enfin de crdire 
Que noun me paries en risent. 
Vaqui moun aneloun de veire 
Per souvenen^o, o beu jouvent ! 

— O Magali, me fas de ben ! • . . 

Mai, tre te veire, 
Ve lis estello, o Magali, 
Coume an pali ! 



Quand Touro d6u tremount es vengudo per I'astre, 

Sus li mourre envahi per lou vespre, li pastre 

Alargon sis anouge e si fedo e si can ; 

E dins li baisso palunenco 

Lou grouiin rangoulejo en bramadisso unenco : 

" Aqueu souleu ero ensucant ! " 


Di paraulo de Dieu magnanime escampaire, 
Ansin, o Lamartine, o moun mestre, o moun paire. 
En cantico, en acioun, en lagremo, en soulas, 
Quand aguerias a noste mounde 
Escampa de lumiero e d' amour soun abounde, 
E que lou mounde fugue las, 

Cadun jite soun bram dins la neblo prefoundo, 
Cadun vous bandigue la peiro de sa foundo. 
Car vosto resplendour nous fasie mau is iue, 
Car uno estello que s'amosso. 
Car un dieu clavela, toujour agrado en fogo, 
E li grapaud amon la nine . , . 

E'm'ac6, Ton vegue de causo espetaclouso ! 
Eu, aquelo grand font de poucsio blouso 
Qu'avie rejouveni I'amo de Tunivers, 
Li jouini poueto rigueron 
De sa malancounie proufetico, e die:ueron 
Que sabie pas faire li vers. 

De I'Autisme Adounai eu sublime grand-preire 

Que dins sis inne sant enaure nosti creire 

Sus li courdello d'or de Tarpo de Sioun, 

En atestant lis Escrituro 

Li devot Farisen crideron sus Tauturo 

Que n'avie gens de religioun. 

Eu, lou grand pietadous, que, sus la catastrofo 

De n6stis ancian rei, avie tra sis estrofo 

E qu'en mabre poumpous i'avie fa'n mausouleu, 

D6u Reialisme li badaire 

Trouveron a la fin qu'ero un descaladaire, 

E touti s'aliuncheron lea 


Eu, lou grand ouratour, la voues apoustoulico, 

Que fague dardaia lou mot de Republico 

Sus lou front, dins lou ceu di pople tresanant, 

Per uno estranjo fernesio 

Touti li chin gasta de la Demoucracio 

Lou mourdegueron en renant. 

Eu, lou grand cieutadin que dins la goulo en flamo 

Avie jita soun vieure e soun cors e soun amo, 

Per sauva dou voulcan la patrio en coumbour, 

Quand demande soun pan, pechaire ! 

Li bourges e li gros I'apeleron man j aire, 

E s'estremeron dins soun bourg. ' 

Adounc, en se vesent soulet dins soun auvari, 
Doulent, erne sa crous escale soun Calvari . . . 
E quauqui b6nis amo, eiga vers I'embruni. 
Entendegueron un long geme, 
E piei, dins lis espaci, aqueste crid supreme : 
Heli ! lamma sabacthani ! 

Mai degun s'avaste vers la cimo deserto . . . 
Eme li dous iue clin e li dos man duberto, 
Dins un silenci greu alor eu s'amague ; 
E, siau coume soun li mountagno, 
Au mitan de sa gl6ri e de sa malamagno, 
Senso ren dire mourigue. 



Prouvengau, veici la coupo 
Que nous ven di Catalan : 

A-de-reng beguen en troupo 
Lou vin pur de noste plant ! 

Coupo santo 
E versanto, 
Vuejo a plen bord, 
Vuejo abord 
Lis estrambord 
E Tenavans di fort ! 

D'un vi^i pople fier e libre 
Sian bessai la finicioun ; 

E, se toumbon li Felibre, 
Toumbara nosto nacioun. 

Coupo santo, &c. 

D'uno ra^o que regreio 

Sian bessai li proumie greu ; 

Sian bessai de la patrio 
Li cepoun emai li pri^u. 

Coupo santo, &c. 

Vue jo-nous lis esperan90 
E li raive d6u jouvent, 

D6u passat la remembran9o 
E la fe dins Tan que ven. 

Coupo santo, &c. 


Vue jo-nous la couneiss^n^o 

D6u Verai emai d6u B^u, 
E lis ^uti jouiss^n^o 

Que se trufon dou toumbdu. 

Coupo santo, &c. 

Vue jo-nous la Pouesio 
Per canta tout 90 que vieu, 

Car es elo Tambrousio 
Que tremudo Tome en dieu. 

Coupo santo, &c. 

Pdr la glori dou terraire 

Vautre enfin que sias counsent, 
Catalan, de liuen, o fraire, 

Coumunien toutis ensen ! 

Coupo santo 

E versanto, 

Vue jo a plen bord, 

Vue jo abord 

Lis estrambord 

E I'enavans di fort ! 




(Peco dicho a Mount-Pelie sus la Placo d6u Peirou, 
LOU 25 DE Mai de 1878.) 

Aubouro-te, rago latino, 
Souto la capo dou souleu ! 
Lou rasin brun boui dins la tino, 
Lou vin de Dieu gisclara leu. 

Erne toun peu que se desnouso 
A I'auro santo dou Tabor, 
Tu sies la ra9o lumenouso 
Que vieu de joio e d'estrambord ; 
Tu sies la rago apoustoulico 
Que sono li campano a brand : 
Tu sies la troumpo que publico 
E sies la man que trais lou gran. 

Aubouro-te, ra90 latino, &c. 

Ta lengo maire, aqueu grand flume 
Que per set branco s'espandis, 
Largant T amour, largant lou lume 
Coume un resson de Paradis, 
Ta lengo d'or, fiho roumano 
Dou Pople-Rei, es la cansoun 
Que rediran li bouco umano, 
Tant que lou Verbe aura resoun. 

Aubouro-te, raQo latino, &c. 


Toun sang ilustre, de tout caire, 
Per la justice a fa rajou ; 
Pereilalin ti navegaire 
Soun ana querre un mounde n6u ; 
Au batedis de ta pensado 
As esclapa cent cop ti rei . . . 
Ah ! se noun eres divisado 
Quau poudrie vuei te faire lei ? 

Aubouro-te, ra90 latino, &c. 

A la belugo dis estello 
Abrant lou mou de toun flambeu, 
Dintre lou mabre e sus la telo 
As encarna lou subre-beu. 
De Tart divin sies la patrio 
E touto graci ven de tu ; 
Sies lou sourgent de I'alegrio 
E si6s Teterno jouventu ! 

Aubouro-te, rago latino, &c. 

Di formo puro de ti femo 
Li panteon se soun poupla ; 
A ti triounfle, a ti lagremo 
Touti li cor an barbela ; 
Flouris la terro, quand fas fl6ri ; 
De ti foulie cadun ven f6u ; 
E dins Tesclussi de ta gl6ri 
Sempre lou mounde a pourta d6u. 

Aubouro-te, rago latino, &c. 


Ta lindo mar, la mar sereno 
Ounte blanquejon li veisseu, 
Friso a ti ped sa molo areno 
En miraiant I'azur dou ceu. 
Aquelo mar toujour risento, 
Dieu Tescampe de soun clarun 
Coume la cencho trelusento 
Que deu liga ti pople brun. 

Aubouro-te, rago latino, &c. 

Sus ti coustiero souleiouso 
Creis Toulivi^, Taubre de pas, •^ 

E de la vigno vertuiouso 
S'enourgulisson ti campas : 
Ra^o latino, en remembran90 
De toun destin sempre courous, 
Aubouro-te vers 1' esperanto, 
Afrairo-te souto la Crous ! 

Aubouro-te, rago latino, 
Souto la capo dou souleu ! 
Lou rasin brun boui dins la tino, 
Lou vin de Dieu gisclara leu ! 

Printed by Ballantyne <5r* Co Limited 
Tavistock Street, London 


APR 2 8 1983 




PC Mistral, Frediric 
3^2 Memoirs of mistral