Page images




Laval, the first Roman Catholic Bishop of Canada, in whose veins ran the bluest blood of France; yet he found great joy in abandoning his country, and becoming an exile on these barbarian shores, for the love of the Church.

In the year 1633 Champlain erected on this fine site the Church of Notre Dame de la Recouvrance, to commemorate the recovery of Canada by France.

Thirty years later, the Pope sent out as a gift to the church the bones of two saints, Flavien and Félicité, which were borne into the building in great state, to the sound of martial music and the roaring of saluting batteries, escorted by the Marquis de Tracy, the valiant Courcelles, and the Intendant Talon, at the head of the royal guards. The main lines of the procession were formed by the Savoyard regiment of Carignan-Salières, the famous veterans of the campaigns against Turkey. When the diocese of Quebec received its foundation, it was endowed with the revenues of the ancient abbeys of Maubec and Benevent, in order that it might the better carry on its important work of evangelising the savage tribes; and in the same ship with Bishop Laval came the intrepid explorers of the great West, La Salle and Hennepin, who first made known to the world the beauties and capabilities of the distant valley of the Mississippi. In the eyes of the Puritan colonies to the southeast, the Cathedral of Notre Dame was a gloomy fortress of superstition and Papistry ; but the wandering Hurons of the north-west regarded it as a fountain of mysterious light. In 1759, Wolfe's batteries, raining fire and iron upon the devoted city from the cliffs beyond the river, effected the destruction of the cathedral. The 200th anniversary of the foundation of the diocese (the year 1874) was celebrated with splendid ceremonies. The streets were adorned with triumphal arches; the houses received brilliant decorations of banners and festooned greenery; and many thousands of Catholics, from all parts of Canada, took part in the processions. At that time the Pope conferred upon Notre Dame the title of Basilica, a term of greater dignity and honour than that of cathedral. In the rear of this structure stands the spacious palace of the archbishop, surrounded by quiet gardens and shady shubbery.

The Market Square is the centre of life in the Upper Town, and stretches along the front of the Basilica, and across to the site of the ancient buildings of the Jesuits. On the upper side is a row of antiquated stone buildings, occupied in part by merchants; and on the lower side stand the smart modern shops of the Rue Fabrique, with their provincially brilliant windows, and a sluggish movement of small trade. Early in the morning, on a market-day, this antique square affords one of the most interesting and refreshing spectacles in America, when hundreds of peasants from the adjacent French seigniories bring in and expose for sale the products of their farms, covering the open area with their baskets and booths. The methods of farming practised on some of the remoter seigniorial farms are not far advanced from those celebrated by Virgil in the Georgics; and their peasantry afford models worthy the attention of a Western Millet. Starting before even the dawn of summer has touched the dark east, these Gaulish farmers turn inward toward Quebec from the Tyrolese glens of the Laurentides, the delicious rich plains of the Isle of Orleans, the meadows of St. Joachim, the gardens of Cap Rouge, and at early morning are bandying arguments with the housekeepers and servants of the city as to the value and quality of their vegetables.

Hymn of vengeance, and sent to Paris its bands of Félérés, who took such a conspicuous part in the terrible September massacres. In 1793 Marseilles revolted against the Jacobins, but was conquered by General Carleau, and then Fréron and Barras, as commissioners from Paris, inaugurated in the city a Reign of Terror, in which they strove to annihilate the respectable classes. For four months the guillotine was incessantly at work, but it was too slow in its operations, which were accordingly supplemented by indiscriminate shooting. The name of Marseilles was forbidden to be uttered, and the commissioners dated their reports from “ La Commune sans nom," and proposed to fill up the harbour. At the death of Robespierre, the city rose against its persecutors, and 200 of them, who took refuge in Fort St. Jean, were killed by the mob. In 1815 a Royalist insurrection broke out on the arrival of the news of the Battle of Waterloo, and for a time the city was given up to plunder and massacre. In 1848 the Marseillais bailed the new Republic with joy, and many of them were victims of the subsequent coup d'État. In 1870 the streets rang with unanimous acclamations at the tidings of the Déchéance, and in May of the following year an imitation of the Paris Commune was established, and afterwards suppressed with considerable severity.

Marseilles at the present day, with its teeming population of 318,000, covers four hills overlooking the ancient and modern harbours, and a considerable part of the adjacent country. In winter it enjoys a delightfully mild climate, but in summer is excessively hot, except when cool breezes from the sea render the atmosphere tolerable. At times the streets are swept by the terrible mistraal from the north-west. Very picturesque is Marseilles, either as viewed from the sea or from La Viste on the hills above the town: it is belted by delightful environs; a broad amphitheatre of vineyards, and lawns, and fruit-groves are plentifully sprinkled among the white villas of well-to-do citizens, while within the city every variety of French life is to be seen. The Old Town is situated on a peninsula between the Old Port and the harbour of La Joliette, and in this quarter is situated almost all that is left of mediæval Marseilles. The streets are narrow, steep, and winding, and were formerly repulsively dirty. Here dwelt the fishermen and dock labourers, and still lower classes. Drinking-shops are very numerous, and sailors of all nations frequent the questionable resorts abundantly provided for them here. In La Juiverie, which represents the ancient Ghetto, are hundreds of little shops, in which old clothes and all sorts of second-hand articles form the stock-in-trade. In the nooks and corners of the Old Town still dwell Marseillais of the pure ancient race, speaking their old Provençal tongue, and nursing their hereditary superstitions. But right across the Old Town, the Rue Impériale, or Rue de la République, has been constructed, nearly threequarters of a mile long, and eighty-one feet wide, displacing 935 houses and 16,000 inhabitants. From the central circus other streets are to radiate across the ancient lanes and alleys, and, no doubt, eventually old Marseilles will disappear. The Quartier de la Bourse forms a striking contrast to the region just named.

In the Rues Le Cannebière, Paradis, Beauvau, and St. Ferréol are situated the finest shops in the city. According to the Marseillais, Le Cannebière, with its grand hotels and cafés and splendid shops, is the finest street in the universe! The whole quarter is alive with business activity. The Rue St. Ferréol has been compared to the Boulevard des Italiens,




and is the favourite promenade of fashionable loungers. In the Quartier de la Joliette the streets are regular and uniform. From the end of the Boulevard des Dames a striking panorama is presented to the view ;-the new harbours, the fleet of vessels of all kinds, the broad substantial quays, the immense warehouses and docks, the innumerable waggons, tramcars, and omnibuses, and the crowds of officials and workmen, make up a scene wonderfully significant of the vastness of the commerce of Marseilles. The Quartier St. Lazare is one of the poorer districts, being mostly given up to divers kinds of small industries; here also are seen the tall chimneys of numerous factories. The Quartier de St. Michel, or Quartier de la Plaine, is intensely respectable. It covers a hill that was once a Roman camp, and was for a long time a desert waste. Since 1818 it has become a fine suburb, with broad, well-planted streets, and a vast number of elegant villas with pretty gardens. In business hours a calm silence pervades this district, except when the Fair of St. Michel, in September, fills the central Place St. Michel, and then Provençal gaiety shows itself in a thousand characteristic forms. The Quartier de Longchamps displays rows of fine houses in monotonous uniformity. The Quartier de la Préfecture is chiefly inhabited by rich merchants, and is mostly deserted in the day-time. Les Catalans is a

a very aristocratic region; above it, on the hill-slopes, are a great number of the bastides, of which there are about 6,000 round Marseilles—Lilliputian retreats for the enjoyment of the dolce far niente on Sundays and holidays.

The above-mentioned quartiers comprise all Marseilles, but there are several streets and open places that may be mentioned before proceeding to speak of the public buildings and other monuments. The Place which has successively borne the names of Royale, Neckar, République, Révolution, Liberté, Impériale, and a few others, is a beautiful square, with a fine cascade, and a statue of Puget the architect. Shoals of infants, with their bonnes, congregate here daily. The Place de Leuche marks the site of the Convent of St. Sauveur, founded by St. Cassian. During its long existence, till the end of the eighteenth century, this convent experienced many vicissitudes ;-sometimes it was immensely rich, and sometimes wretchedly poor; sometimes noted for its holy austerity, and sometimes for its startling scandals. Amongst other early trials, it was occasionally pillaged by Saracens. On one occasion the good nuns cut off their noses, and otherwise disfigured their faces, to render themselves objects of disgust to their conquerors. They were all massacred ; and in memory of the event, it is said that the convent at one period adopted self-mutilation as a portion of its discipline. Close by the convent were the famous Caves of St. Sauveur, leading down to the port, said to have been Roman baths or barracks, and to have been utilised as a prison for Lazarus. During adjacent alterations and rebuilding, the money was not forthcoming to purchase these caves, as desired by many archæologists, and they accordingly perished. Upon the Place de Leuche is seen the house which, during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, was the dwelling-place of the famous family of Riquetti de Mirabeau—a name destined to attain to a more world-wide celebrity in the great Revolution of 1789. Brilliant fêtes took place in the old mansion, and in it Louis XIV. dwelt three days in 1660.

days in 1660. Since 1759 the house has been a hospital, a college, a barrack, and an amateur theatre.

The Place Neuve, beside the Old Port, is the most interesting and agreeable promenade in the old city. It is now

a rendezvous for sailors of all nations. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries it was the arena for exhibitions of skill with the arquebus and two-handed sword, and for other athletic sports on the festival of St. Lazare. Here also were the grand displays of fireworks that captivated the multitude on special occasions. Specially does the Place Neuve recall the memory of the famous conferences between Francis I. and Pope Clement VII. In order to cement the alliance between these two, it had been arranged that the Pope's niece, Catherine de' Medici, should be married to the king's son Henry, Duc d'Orléans. It was on the 8th of October, 1533, that

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][merged small][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][merged small]

Prancis I., with his sons, the Ducs d'Orléans and d’Angoulême, arrived at Marseilles, accompanied by a brilliant cortége. On the 11th a fleet of six vessels and eighteen galleys, bearing the Pope and his cardinals, was seen approaching the harbour. In richly-decorated brigantines the French nobility went forth to act as an escort, whilst a grand salute was thundered forth from all the ramparts and towers of the city. The Pope rode in state to the Abbey of St. Victor, and the next day went with great pomp to the Cathedral of La Major, and received homage from the assembled nobles. On the Place Neuve two palaces had been constructed, one for the Pope and the other for the king. On the first floor a gallery for conference connected the two buildings, and here the king and the Pope met daily till the nuptials were celebrated.




I see none of our company cast down.” This was the central principle of the life of early Canada, the spirit which founded and nurtured Quebec, the one sweet and pure thing in this misgoverned colony. The game was not worth the candle, doubtless, since a single Jean de Brébeuf or a Lalemant was worth a myriad of the red savages who slew these and scores of other missionaries.

While the New England Puritans were destroying the Indians, root and branch, hip and thigh, the apostles of the North gathered the people of the same race into Christian villages, under the shadow of the Cross. The results were not commensurate with the endeavour; but, as the chief historian of French Canada says, the Indian, though a savage still, was not so often a devil. The centre of all this heroic era of evangelism, covering 2,000 miles of territory, from the St. Lawrence to the Mississippi, was the great Latin convent in the heart of Quebec, with its broad courts, high-arched portal, and yellow-stuccoed façades, suggestive of the ancient religious houses of France or Italy. For over a century the Jesuits occupied it undisturbed; but General Murray turned them out in 1759, when Quebec was surrendered to the British; and fifty years later, when the last survivor of the Jesuits was gathered to

1 the company of his martyred brethren, the entire property reverted to the Crown. Until 1871, when Britain told Canada that she must walk alone, detachments of royal troops were quartered in the sequestrated buildings. A few


later the home of the Jesuits was levelled to the ground, and the site, with that of the connected gardens, now forms one of those singular and desolate empty spaces which are found so often in the Upper Town, like the broad fields within the walls of Rome, or the villas in Pisa. In 1881 new bands of Jesuits, expelled from France by order of the Government, reached Quebec, to carry on the work begun so long ago under the conditions of difficulty and discouragement to which allusion has been already made.

At one corner of the great square, alongside the Cathedral, appear some of the buildings of the Seminary of Quebec, a far-extending group of such ecclesiastical edifices as old Norman and Tuscan towns possess, straggling picturesquely over several acres, with snug courtyards and immaculately neat halls, and controlled by grave and urbane priests. The chapel contains highly venerated relics of St. Clement and St. Modestus, and more than a dozen ancient religious pictures, by Philippe de Champagne, Parrocel d'Avignon, and other famous French artists. In the first court is a great sun-dial, bearing the inscription : Dies Nostri Quasi Umbra. There are two divisions to this great school-Le Grand Séminaire, where young men are educated for the priesthood, and Le Petit Séminaire, devoted to the instruction of boys. The peculiar scholastic uniforms of these lads form one of the many diversities of the streets of Quebec. There are 400 students.

The pious zeal of M. de Laval endowed the Seminary with great estates, more than 200 years ago; and among its early leaders were many wise and noble European scholars, from the cloisters of Paris and Rome, who came hither to pass their lives in serene and valiant self-denial and ceaseless toils.

The consummate flower of culture in New France is Laval University, endowed by Pope Pius IX. with high privileges, and modelled on the processes of study at the University of Louvain, with Faculties of Law, Divinity, and Medicine. It occupies spacious buildings of cut stone, between the Seminary gardens and the ramparts which crown the edge of

« PreviousContinue »