A zigzaggery, indeed, was this journey from Nimes to my Pyrenean valley. That metropolis of art and most heroic town, Montauban, I could not on any account miss. Toulouse necessarily had to be taken on the way to Ingres-ville, as I feel inclined to call the great painter's birthplace and apotheosis. But why write of Toulouse? The magnificent city, its public gardens, churches, superbly housed museums and art galleries, its promenades, drives and panoramas are all particularized by Murray, Joanne and Baedeker. Here, however, as elsewhere, are one or two features which do not come within the province of a guide-book.

The only city throughout France that welcomed the Inquisition was among the first to open a Lycee pour jeunes filles. In accordance with the acts of 1880-82 public day schools for girls were opened throughout France; that of Toulouse being fairly representative, I will describe my visit.

The school was now closed for the long vacation, but a junior mistress in temporary charge gave us friendliest welcome, and showed us over the building and annexes. She evidently took immense and quite natural pride in the little world within world of which she formed a part. Her only regret was that we could not see the scholars at work. Here may be noted the wide field thrown open to educated women by the above-named acts, from under-mistresses to Madame la directrice, the position being one of dignity and provision for life, pensions being the reward of long service.

The course of study is prepared by the rector of the Toulousain Academy, and the rules of management by the municipal council, thus the programme of instruction bears the signature of the former, whilst the prospectus, dealing with fees, practical details, is signed by the mayor in the name of the latter.

We find a decree passed by the town council in 1887 to the effect that in the case of two sisters a fourth of the sum-total of fees should be remitted, of three, a half, of four, three-quarters, and of five, the entire amount. Even the outfit of the boarders must be approved by the same authority. A neat costume is obligatory, and the number and material of undergarments is specified with the utmost minuteness. Besides a sufficient quantity of suitable clothes, each student must bring three pairs of boots, thirty pocket-handkerchiefs, a bonnet-box, umbrella, parasol, and so forth.

Such regulations may at first sight look trivial and unnecessary, but there is much to be said on the other side. From the beginning of the term to the end, the matron, whose province is quite apart from that of the head-mistress, is never worried about the pupils' dress, no shoes in need of repair, no garments to be mended, no letters to be written begging Mme. A. to send her daughter a warm petticoat, Mme. B. to forward a hair-brush, and so on. Again, the uniform obligatory on boarders prevents those petty jealousies and rivalries provoked by fine clothes in girls' schools. Alike the child of the millionaire and of the small official wear the same simple dress.

Children are admitted to the lower school between the ages of five and twelve, the classes being in the hands of certificated mistresses. The upper school, at which pupils are received from twelve years and upwards, and are expected to remain five years, offers a complete course of study, lady teachers being aided by professors of the Faculte des Lettres and of the Lycee for youths. Students who have remained throughout the entire period, and have satisfactorily passed final examinations, receive a certificate entitling them to admission into the great training college of Sevres or to offer themselves as teachers in schools and families.

The curriculum is certainly modest compared with that obligatory on candidates for London University, Girton College, or our senior local examination; but it is an enormous improvement on the old conventual system, and several points are worthy of imitation. Thus a girl quitting the Lycee would have attained, first and foremost, a thorough knowledge of her own language and its literature; she would also possess a fair notion of French common law, of domestic economy, including needlework of the more useful kind, the cutting out and making up of clothes, and the like. Gymnastics are practised daily. In the matter of religion the municipality of Toulouse shows absolute impartiality. No sectarian teaching enters into the programme, but Catholics and Protestants and Jews in residence can receive instruction from their respective ministers.

The Lycee competes formidably with the convents as regards fees. Twenty-eight pounds yearly cover the expense of board, education, and medical attendance at the upper school; twenty-four at the lower; day boarders pay from twelve to fifteen pounds a year; books, the use of the school omnibus, and laundress being extras. Three hundred scholars in all attended during the scholastic year ending July 1891.

Day-pupils not using the school omnibus must be accompanied to and from the school, and here an interesting point is to be touched upon. In so far as was practicable, the Lycee for girls has been modelled on the plan of the time-honoured establishments for boys. As yet a uniform curriculum to begin with was out of the question; the programme is already too ambitious in the eyes of many, whilst ardent advocates of the higher education of women in France regret that the vices as well as the virtues of the existing system have been retained. Educationists and advanced thinkers generally would fain see a less strait-laced routine, a less stringent supervision, more freedom for play of character. The Lycee student, boy or girl, youth or maiden, is as strictly guarded as a criminal; not for a moment are these citizens of the future trusted to themselves.

In the vast dormitory of the high school here we see thirty neat compartments with partitions between, containing bed and toilet requisites, and at the extreme end of the room, commanding a view of the rest, is the bed of the under-mistress in charge, surveillante as she is called. Sleeping or waking, the students are watched. This massing together of numbers and perpetual supervision no longer find universal favour.

But I am here writing of fifteen years ago. Doubtless were I to repeat my visit I should find progressive changes too numerous for detail. Happy little middle-class Parisians now run to and from their Lycees unattended. Young ladies in society imitate their Anglo-Saxon sisters and have shaken off that incubus, la promeneuse or walking chaperon.

Works on social France, as is the case with almanacs, encyclopaedias and the rest, require yearly revision. Manners and customs change no less quickly than headgear and skirts.

Charles Lamb would have lived ecstatically at the Languedocian capital. It is a metropolis of beggardom, a mendicant's Mecca, a citadel of Jules Richepin's cherished Gueux. Here, indeed, Elia need not have lamented over the decay of beggars, "the all sweeping besom of societarian reformation - your only modern Alcides' club to rid time of its abuses - is uplift with many-handed sway to extirpate the last fluttering tatters of the bugbear Mendicity. Scrips, wallets, bags, staves, dogs and crutches, the whole mendicant fraternity with all their baggage are fast hasting out of the purlieus of this eleventh persecution."

No, here is what the best beloved of English humorists calls "the oldest and the honourablest form of pauperism," here his vision would have feasted on "Rags, the Beggars' robes and graceful insignia of his profession, his tenure, his full dress, the suit in which he is expected to show himself in public." "He is never out of fashion," adds Lamb, "or limpeth outwardly behind it. He is not required to wear court mourning. He weareth all colours, fearing none. His costume hath undergone less change than the Quaker's. He is the only man in the universe who is not obliged to study appearances."

Here, too, would the unmatchable writer have gazed upon more than one "grand fragment, as good as an Elgin marble." And alas! many deformities more terrible still, and which, perhaps, would have damped even Lamb's ardour. For in the Toulouse of 1894, as in the London of sixty years before, its mendicants "were so many of its sights, its Lions." The city literally swarmed with beggars. At every turn we came upon some living torso, distorted limb and hideous sore. Begging seemed to be the accepted livelihood of cripples, blind folk and the infirm. Let us hope that by this time something better has been devised for them all. Was it here that Richepin partly studied the mendicant fraternity, giving us in poetry his astounding appreciation, psychological and linguistic? And perhaps the bard of the beggars, like the English humorist, would wish his pauvres Gueux to be left unmolested.

The sights of Toulouse would occupy a conscientious traveller many days. The least leisurely should find time to visit the tiny square called place du Salin. Here took place the innumerable autos-da-fe of the Toulousain Inquisition, and here, so late as 1618, the celebrated physician and scientist Vanini was atrociously done to death by that truly infernal tribunal, and for what? For simply differing from the obscurantism of his age, and having opinions of his own.

The atrocious sentence passed on Vanini was in part remitted, evidently public opinion already making itself felt. His tongue was cut out, but strangulation preceded the burning alive. Here one cannot help noting the illogical, the puerile - if such words are applicable to devilish wickedness - aspect of such Inquisitorial sentences. If these hounders-down of common-sense and the reasoning faculty really believed, as they affected to believe, that men who possessed and exercised both qualities were thereby doomed to eternal torments, why set up the horrible and costly paraphernalia of the Inquisition? After all, no matter how ingeniously inventive might be their persecutors, they could only be made to endure terminable and comparatively insignificant torments, not a millionth millionth fraction of eternity!

Refreshing it is to turn to the Toulouse of minstrelsy. The proud seat of the troubadours, the Academy of the Gay Science and of the poetic tourneys revived in our own day! Mistral's name has long been European, and other English writers have charmingly described the Feux Floraux of the olden time and the society of Lou Felibrige with its revival of Provencal literature. But forty years ago, and twenty years before his masterpiece had found a translator here, he was known and highly esteemed by a great Englishman.

In Mill's Correspondence (1910) we find a beautiful letter, and written in fine stately French, from the philosopher to the poet, dated Avignon, October 1869.

Mill had sent Mistral the French translation of his essay, "The Subjection of Women," and in answer to the other's thanks and flattering assurance of his own conversion, he wrote: "Parmi toutes les adhesions qui ont ete donnees a la these de mon petit livre, je ne sais s'il y en a aucune qui m'ont fait plus de plaisir que la votre."

The letter as a whole is most interesting, and ends with a characterization, a strikingly beautiful passage in the life and teaching of Jesus Christ. Hard were it to match this appreciation among orthodox writers.

So transparent is the atmosphere here that the Pyrenees appear within an hour's ride: they are in reality sixty miles off! Lovely are the clearly outlined forms, flecked with light and shadow, the snowy patches being perfectly distinct.