A delightful Sunday spent among delightful English and French friends, long bright hours of perfect weather, long bright hours of genial and affectionate intercourse, English sobriety lightened with French esprit and playfulness-such reminiscences, however precious to the possessor, hardly form materials for a chapter. I pass on to say something about Autun itself, a town so rarely visited by my country-folk, that the principal hotels have not as yet set up a teapot. The people, however, are so obliging that they will let you go into the kitchen and there make your own tea, even a plum-pudding, if you want it.

First some will ask the meaning of a name at the head of my page. The Morvan-what may that be? I must explain, then, without going over ground I have already described, that the Morvan, accessible as a tourist-ground from Avallon, Autun, or Nevers, is a little Celtic kingdom, isolated till recent times from the rest of France, alike by position, language, and customs.

The name is familiar to French ears as Wales is to our own. Just as we talk of such-and-such a place being in Wales, instead of specifying the particular shire, so French folks will tell you that they have just made a journey into the Morvan, that so-and-so lives in the Morvan, without naming the department - Saone-et-Loire, the Yonne or Nievre, in each of which a portion of the Morvan lies. In the very heart of the country, especially round about Chateau-Chinon, its marvellously placed little capital, we still see the saie, a garment identical with the Gallic sagum, and the Morvandial, although gradually losing his once so strongly-marked characteristics, prefers his own dialect to French. Throughout the entire country, indeed, Morvandial is spoken.

From many points of view this region of survivals is full of interest. Till half-way through the present century, village communism existed here in full force, having withstood the shocks of the French Revolution. The last village commune was not broken up till 1848.

The ancient industry of wood-floating, or flottage a buches perdues, is still actively carried on. The logs, which are cut in summer, each being marked with the owner's name, are floated down the rivers in winter to Paris, women and children doing the greater part of the work. This simple system of water transport, without any kind of vehicle, was invented by a Parisian, Rouvet by name, so long ago as 1569.

More interesting than these facts, perhaps, to most travellers, is the delightful scenery of the Morvan, and the beauty of its white oxen, a race apart. We find these gentle, majestic creatures everywhere tenderly cared for, as perhaps no other animals are in France, and lending wonderful picturesqueness and charm to every landscape. No matter whither you go, winding up the forest-girt mountain road, from Autun to Chateau-Chinon, traversing the romantic valley of the Cure, from Avallon to Vezelay, exploring the pretty, Surrey-like woods and hills around the gay little watering-place of St. Honore-les-Bains, are to be seen the white, lustrous-skinned, majestic creatures, who almost make us forgive the ungallant refrain of Pierre Dupont's famous song: 'J'aime bien Jeanne, ma femme, mais j'aimerais mieux la voir mourir, que de voir mourir mes boeufs' (I love my wife Jane, but I would rather see her die than my oxen).

The best plan for the tourist wishing to see the Morvan is to hire one of the light carriages called a caleche, and drive, not only round the country so called, but right through - a journey occupying about a fortnight when leisurely made.

Travellers pressed for time may, however, visit Chateau-Chinon in a day from Autun. This five hours' drive to the former capital of the Morvan, one continued ascent, gives one an excellent idea of the Morvandial scenery, and in clear weather is delightful. From the not too comfortable coupe of the cumbersome old vehicle, we come ever upon wider and more magnificent prospects; on either side are brilliant green pastures, watered by little rivers clear as crystal, lofty alders fringing their banks, and the grand white oxen pasturing peacefully here and there; beyond these gracious scenes rise wooded hills, or masses of granite, taking weird forms; while as we journey further on we get tremendous panoramas, with a background of violet hills. These heights are about equal to the Cumberland range, the loftiest peak of the Morvan rising to that of Skiddaw.

Far away the famous Mont Beuvray, the Bibracte of the 'Commentaries' lying half-way between Chateau-Chinon and Autun, is a bold, grand outline to day, under a cold, gray sky. Wild crags to climb and romantic sites abound, also scenes of quiet caressing grace and smiling pastoralness. Nowhere can be found more beautiful pastures, winding lanes, tossing streams. The country round about is wonderfully solitary, but newly-built schools in the scattered villages tell of progress.

Meantime driver and passengers alight whilst our steady horses climb one sharp ascent after another. As we wind about the hills we catch sight of tiny hamlets perched on airy crests, recalling the castellated villages of the African Kabylia.

Arrived at our destination, the ancient capital and stronghold of the Celtic Morvan, the whole country lies at our feet as a map - sunny pasture and cornland, glen and dale, mountain stream, tumbling river and glittering cascade, alternating with sterner and grander features - dark forests covering vast spaces, rugged peaks towering aloft, wild sweeps of heather-covered moorland. Seen as I saw this region, under a wind-tossed lowering heaven, the impression was of extreme desolation and wildness; only a glimpse of sunshine was needed to bring out the witchery of each shifting scene. Nothing can be prettier in a quiet way than these countless rivers and rivulets, each fringed with lofty alders, these velvety glades and winding lanes. Forests abound, and I was assured by a peasant that the poor never need buy any firewood. They can pick up enough to last them all winter.

Immediately below Chateau-Chinon opens a fair valley, threaded by the river Yonne. Bewildering is the sense of space and atmosphere we obtain here, as we look straight down into the clifts below, or allow the eye to wander over the vast panorama stretching around.

A town perched on a height two thousand feet above the sea-level, so placed as to command an entire kingdom, should have a history, and the history of Chateau-Chinon goes very far back indeed. The fortified citadel of the seigneury was built on the site of a Gallo-Roman camp, or castrum, the castrum on that of a Gallic oppidum. The once warlike, grim little place, that often defied its enemies in the seigneurial wars, is now the most dead-alive, sleepy little provincial place imaginable.

'We will breakfast together,' said the gray-haired conductor of the diligence to me; 'and you will afterwards have time to look round before we start home.'

Although pure Celts, the Morvandiaux have not the proud reserve and, perhaps, distrust of strangers found among the Bretons. I have driven for miles across country alone with a Breton peasant, and he would never once open his lips. Had I carried bags of gold about me, I should have been perfectly safe under such protection. But a sociable invitation to chat over the ordinary of an auberge would never have entered the head of a diligence-driver in the Morbihan or Finistere.

The little inn looked temptingly rustic and primitive, and the smiling, round-faced, rosy-cheeked landlady might have just walked out of a picture. Exactly such a landlady I remember at Llangollen years ago.

I had, however, no time to stay, and we drove v back to Autun, making the descent at a rapid rate, catching by the way the glimpse of a stately peasant, with the Gallic saie, or mantle, thrown over his shoulders. He might have sat for a study of Vercingetorix! It was worth while going to Chateau-Chinon for the sight of such a piece of antiquity as that!

Alas! Chateau-Chinon is to have a railway, and alike the mantle worn by Vercingetorix and his countrymen, the ancient Gallic speech - even the time-honoured system of log-floating - are doomed. Instead of being invited to breakfast with the blue-bloused pleasant driver of the diligence, I shall expect to find at table-d'hote half a score of English undergraduates, members of the bicyclist club, or a party of enterprising ladies from Chicago.

A word about Autun itself, a town that improves marvellously on acquaintance. This was my third visit, and I found it more attractive than ever. The beauty of its site is best appreciated from the lower ground beyond its western suburb. And beautiful it is - the graceful cathedral, with its airy spire and twin towers, pencilled in soft, silvery gray against the dimpled green hills, every feature of the landscape in harmony with it, as if, indeed, made to be in harmony with it. Turning from the cathedral in an opposite direction, in order to make the circuit of the city, we realize how grand was the predecessor of modern Autun the Augustodonum of Gallic Rome. Keeping to this higher ground, we can follow with the eye the tremendous span of the Roman wall, fragmentary for the most part, yet perfect in places, and built neither of bricks nor blocks of stone, but of small stones.

Inside the enclosure we see the mediaeval wall and picturesque watch- towers of the French king Francis. Picturesque as these are - also the bits of ordinary domestic architecture between airily-perched dormers, stone balconies filled with flowers, little terraced gardens rising one above the other-the mind is too much occupied with the grand Roman aspect of the place to dwell as yet upon minor points. The circuit of the city, so made as to visit its two magnificent Roman gateways, and equally fine so-called Temple of Janus, is beyond the reach of moderate walkers. All are noble specimens of Augustan architecture, more especially the Porte d'Arroux. This stands on the north side of the town, beyond the suburbs, its lofty arches spanning the road, and wearing, from the distance, the look of an aqueduct. It is built of huge blocks of stone adjusted without cement. Between the upper tiers of arches are sculptured Corinthian columns, all happily uninjured. So massive is this structure, so firmly it stands, that we feel as if, like the Pyramids, it might last for ever.

Beyond, on either side, stretches the pleasant open country-fields and meadows and market-gardens; whilst far away, in bright sunny weather looking like a violet cloud, is the vast height of Bibracte, so celebrated in the 'Commentaries.'

But the most curious monument at Autun is the so-called Pierre de Couhard. From all parts of the city may be seen, rising conspicuously from its green eminence, this stately relic-maybe of Roman or Gallic times, perhaps raised of remoter date still - a vast pyramid of stone, worthy to be compared to the great tomb of Caius Sextius in Rome.

It is a pleasant walk to what the townsfolk call the Pierre de Quare. Leaving behind us the cathedral and suburbs, we follow a road winding in a south-easterly direction to the little village of Couhard, watered by a gurgling stream, and sheltered by a fair green hill. As we quit the highroad to reach the monument, we come upon pretty pastoral groups. It is supper-time-l'heure de la soupe, as French rustics say - and before every cottage-door are squatted family groups, eating their pottage on the doorsteps. Around are the dogs and cats, chickens, pigs and goats. To every humble homestead is attached orchard, garden, even a patch of corn or vineyard. All is peace and contentment.

Certainly these rural interiors would not satisfy everybody. Neatness and cleanliness do not always prevail among poor folks in France, any more than in England. But, alike, young and old are neatly and wholesomely dressed. Beggars are almost nil, and the prevailing aspect is one of unforgettable well-being, independence, and cheerfulness.

In strange contrast with these domestic pictures - pet kittens and children playing close under its shadow, tiny cabbage and tomato beds planted to its very edge-stands the huge, angular, pyramidal pile called the Pierre de Quare.

Very striking is the effect of the huge, solid brown mass, tapering to a point, from summit to base reaching half the height of the cathedral- spire, its original height in all probability having been much loftier.

The whole is a ruin, yet intact, if I may be pardoned the paradox. Whilst the inner part of the monument remains uninjured, its sides have been stripped of the marble slabs or polished stones that once in all probability covered and adorned them. The outer surface now shows a rough, jagged ensemble of masses of stone rudely put together, the entire pyramid being solid.

We walked home in the evening light, getting dozens of charming pictures in the twilight - pictures already familiar to me, yet ever bringing a sense of newness. French towns, like French scenery, should be revisited thus, and I hope ere very long to pay Autun my fourth visit, and to take, for a second time, those delightful drives from Avallon to Vezelay, and from the modern capital of the little Celtic kingdom to the ancient, perched so airily above the surrounding hills.