A dull town - Cathedral - Jacques Cujas - His daughter - Pius VI. - His death - Maison des Tetes - Le Pendentif - The castle of Crussol - The dukes of Uzes - A dramatic company of the thirteenth century.

What a sleepy place Valence is! There was supposed to be a fair there when I was at Valence, but even that could not wake it up. But the fair was in a condition of the utmost somnolence itself. Why - I did not suspect till I reached Vienne, when I found that this latter place had drawn to it all that was enterprising, startling, attractive, and left only the very dregs of fairings to poor Valence.

It has a great boulevard, very wide, very inviting, but the spotted boys, and fat girls, and bearded women, would have nothing to say to it - they herded to Vienne. It has a vast terrace, planted with trees, where any amount of stalls might stand, but there were erected there only some very inconsiderable ranges of boot and shoe tables, and of old cutlery, and slop clothes.

The cathedral is interesting and fine. The apse at the east end is early and curious; in place of buttresses receding in stages are Corinthian pillars tied into the walls they are to support at their heads by caps laid on them. There is no clerestory to the church, only an arcade of rude character. The walls of the cathedral are of sandstone, and have been so gnawed by the wind and rain, that the whole pile looks like a piece of very decayed cheese. The interior, however, is quite sound, reposeful, and lovely. That weather-beaten exterior, with its calm sweet interior, struck me as a picture of many a good Christian, buffeted and worn by storm and trial without, whose inner self is ever still and untouched.

The church was consecrated in 1095 by Pope Urban II. in person. A new western tower has been erected and a very fine west entrance in the Romanesque style, all very good, except the topmost stage of the tower, which has probably been confided to an inferior architect, who has managed to mar a work of great promise.

Jacques Cujas, born at Toulouse in 1520, one of the most famous lawyers of his time, taught at Valence. He was a candidate for the chair of laws in the university of his native city, but was refused it; a certain Forcadel was elected instead, whose chief merit seems to have been that he was a wag. Cujas, on leaving Toulouse, turned, and shaking the dust off his feet against it said, "Ungrateful fatherland, in you my bones shall not rest." He kept his word, he died and was buried at Bourges. After he was gone from the place and his fame was sounded abroad, the university of Toulouse wanted to recall him, and sent a letter to him nominating him to the chair of laws. His answer was, "Frustra absentem requiris, quem praesentem neglexistis." "In vain do you desire him absent whom present you flouted."

At Valence he had eight hundred scholars, who attended his lectures. So great was the reverence shown for his opinion, that it is said that in the schools of Germany, when the professors quoted him they were wont to raise their hands to their caps. And he deserved it. His burning ambition was to break down the system of injustice to the accused which prevailed in French courts, where one charged with a crime, if the crime were unproved did not obtain complete acquittal. He wrote in the cause of humanity against the abuses of tyranny and ignorance. "Where there is not complete proof of guilt," said he, "there let there be no condemnation," a maxim observed in England, but not in France. "What is not full truth," is a saying of his, "is full falsehood." It was his hope, his prayer, that he might live to see the injustice of the French laws swept away. That he was not destined to see. He was a kind professor to all his scholars. When he found that some were needy, he assisted them with money and books. "I was once a poorer lad than you," said he to one whom he assisted, "and very grateful if any one would have pity on me."

He had a daughter, unworthy of her virtuous father. When his scholars were caught flirting with the damsel, they were wont to excuse themselves by saying that they were only "commenting on the works of Cujas."

On this the following epigram was composed: -

"Videras immensos Cujaci labores AEternum patri commeruisse decus: Ingenio haud poterat tam magnum aequare parentem Filia; quod potuit corpore fecit opus."

In his will Cujas desired that none of his books should be sold to a Jesuit; and that his library should be sold in parcels, lest any one should use his ill-digested notes for publication. His behest was obeyed. The booksellers of Lyons purchased his MSS. and used them as binding for books. It was not till sixteen years after his death that Alexander Scott of Carpentras, one of his pupils, collected his works.

At Valence died and was buried the unfortunate Pope Pius VI. who had been treated with great harshness, and had been loaded with insults by the French. His was, indeed, a strange story. He began his pontificate in splendour in 1775, and set to work at once to aggrandise his family, the Braschi. He was a man of rapacious avarice; of this one glaring instance is given. He persuaded, or compelled, a certain Amanzio Lepri to constitute him his heir, and hand over to him the title-deeds of an estate worth many millions of lire. The natural heirs of Lepri were greatly annoyed at this, and instituted proceedings before the tribunals, which gave judgment sometimes for them and sometimes for the Pope, and the matter might have dragged on indefinitely, had not public opinion begun to manifest itself with such force that Pius thought it best to agree to a compromise.

In everything relating to himself and his family the Pope showed unbounded extravagance and ostentation. He had pedigrees manufactured to prove the descent of his family from ancient Scandinavian heroes, and that of his nephews, on whom he heaped honours, from the Dukes of Benevento. He collected all the proudest devices of heraldry to incorporate them as quarterings into his arms, and this gave rise to an epigram from the pen of an ex-Jesuit, to this effect: "The eagle belongs to the Empire, the lilies of the field to France, to heaven belongs the stars - to Braschi what? Puff."

His extravagance had become so great that the States of the Church were practically bankrupt long before the French overran and pillaged them. In his money difficulties he laid his hands on the funds appropriated to pious works, and so barefaced were his robberies at last, that ten years before the French invasion he had appropriated 36,000 pounds weight of silver from the Holy House of Loretto. Then came the crash. This luxurious and splendid Pope, in his old age, was reduced to be a prisoner, and to be hustled about from place to place by the French. He had been sent first to the Certosa, near Florence, with only two companions; then, by order of the Directory, was conveyed to Parma. There he was allowed to remain only thirteen days, and, in spite of his age and growing infirmities, was conveyed to the citadel of Turin. One day was there allowed him for repose, and then he was carried over the Alpine pass of Mont Genevre in April to Briancon. There he was left in peace, but sick and feeble, till the end of June, when he was hurried away by Gap towards Dijon, but at Valence he became so ill that he could be no further moved, and there he died on the 29th August 1799, three days after his arrival.

The story is told that the official at Briancon on receiving him, sent to headquarters a formal receipt couched in these terms: "Recu - un pape, en fort mauvais etat."

There is not much of interest in domestic architecture at Valence, with the sole exception of the Maison des Tetes, which stands near the market-place, and which is sculptured over with great richness, with heads representing the seasons, and Roman emperors. The enrichment of this house is in the style of Flamboyant passing into Renaissance; the facade being in sandstone has been sadly gnawed by the tooth of Time, has indeed lost all edge to the sculpture, but within the entrance porch, where protected, the sandstone retains its sharpness. Curiously enough, no one knows for whom this gorgeous mansion was raised. It has a pretty interior court, but there is not much sculpture therein. One cannot quite forgive the original owner and edifier of the mansion for a bit of ostentation and vulgarity of which he has been guilty. The house has one portion looking on to the square, but at the side bends away at an obtuse angle down the street. As the whole facade was not visible at a single glance, only that portion which was most seen was sculptured, and that with overpowering richness, whereas the other portion in the street was left bare to baldness. Wind and rain and frost are engaged in rubbing down all the decoration, and flattening the surface of the decorated portion to the simplicity of the other part.

The same destroying agencies are at work upon a very quaint mausoleum, on the north side of the cathedral, called Le Pendentif, which was erected in 1548 in Classic style as a monument to the Mistral family. It is quadrangular, and consists of four great piers at the angles, and is adorned with pillars and with arches in the sides sustaining a vault. In the rusticated space that fills the sides, quaint sculptures of monsters and birds of foreign plumage may, or rather might have been traced, the honeycombing by weather has made them almost undiscoverable. Probably the structure is more picturesque now in its decay than it ever was before.

Immediately opposite Valence, on the farther side of the Rhone, rises a bold scarp of sandstone cliff, crowned with the ruined castle of Crussol above the village of S. Peray at its feet, where is made a very capital sparkling wine, not at all inferior to champagne. There is also there an odd chateau, designed, it is believed, by Marshal Vauban, on the plan of a mimic fortress, with bastions, curtains, glacis, portcullis, and loopholes. It is now the residence of the owner of the great vineyards where the S. Peray effervescing wine is made.

The view of the cliff of Crussol and the village of S. Peray from the terrace of Valence is spoiled by the river being at some distance from the base of the terrace, and the flat land that intervenes being covered by poplars, manufactories and cottages, so that the Rhone is shut out from sight.

Originally, certainly, the cliff on which stands the cathedral, as well as that now converted into a promenade, were swept by the Rhone, but it has thrown its gravels on to the left bank and cut its way farther to the west.

The castle of Crussol belonged to the Dukes d'Uzes, and occupies a headland formed by the torrent at its side, that has sawn a chasm through the soft sandstone in its course to join the Rhone. Within the walls may be seen the remains of a small town that clustered there, much like Les Baux, but now completely deserted. The family of Crussol was not of much note till Louis de Crussol gained the favour of Louis XI., and was created his chamberlain, and governor of Dauphine. The son married the heiress of Uzes, and with her the title of viscount passed to their son Charles, whose son Anthony obtained the title of Duke d'Uzes. There is nothing very remarkable in the story of the Crussols, but the origin of the Uzes is of romantic interest.

There were three brothers, Ebles, Guy, and Pierre, who had a little estate and castle at Uzes near Nimes. There they lived together, unmarried, and in very pinched circumstances. So, one day Ebles said to his brothers that it was a shabby life for three gentlemen thus to live scraping a few coppers together whilst all was beautiful beyond Uzes. Let them all three leave the crumbling walls and leaky roof of Uzes to the bats and owls, and seek their fortunes in the courts of princes.

His advice was relished, and they invited their cousin, named Elias, a comic poet, to travel with them. Now Guy, the youngest of the brothers, and Ebles the eldest, had a pretty gift at poetry, and the second brother, Pierre, had a pleasant pipe, so they agreed that Ebles should write sirventes, and Guy chansons, and that Pierre should sing them. Moreover, Elias should compose little comedies that could be performed by their small party, and the profits were to be equally shared between them. They also put their hands together and vowed to be true and friendly, and not to separate till they came back to ramshackle Uzes.

So the company started, and went first to the court of Reynald, Viscount of Albuzoni and of Marguerite his wife, who received them with pleasure, both of them being fond of Provencal poetry. The brothers and cousin had great success with their songs and comedies, sent round the hat, and got a handsome sum. Then, when they had sucked their orange, they went farther, mounted like paladins, and passed into the territories of the Countess of Montferrat, who received them quite as cordially as had the Viscount of Albuzoni. There they sang and twanged the guitar, but having unhappily composed some satirical verses under the title of "The Life of the Tyrants" in which the morals and greed of the popes and some of the princes of Europe were chastised, the Papal Legate complained and threatened them with public punishment; he finally imposed silence on them, under threat of excommunication. Then the little company returned home laden with treasures, but sad at heart; and Guy died about 1230. The company must have done pretty well, if Guy founded with his share of the profits the family which later became one of viscounts. I fear dramatic and musical companies nowadays have not the same success.