Whatever may be thou...
Whatever may be thought of this triple explanation, political,
physical, and poetical, of the burning of the law courts in
1618, the unfortunate fact of the fire is certain. Very little
to-day remains, thanks to this catastrophe,--thanks, above
all, to the successive restorations which have completed what
it spared,--very little remains of that first dwelling of the
kings of France,--of that elder palace of the Louvre, already
so old in the time of Philip the Handsome, that they sought
there for the traces of the magnificent buildings erected by
King Robert and described by Helgaldus. Nearly everything
has disappeared. What has become of the chamber of the
chancellery, where Saint Louis consummated his marriage?
the garden where he administered justice, "clad in a coat of
camelot, a surcoat of linsey-woolsey, without sleeves, and a
sur-mantle of black sandal, as he lay upon the carpet with
Joinville?" Where is the chamber of the Emperor Sigismond?
and that of Charles IV.? that of Jean the Landless?
Where is the staircase, from which Charles VI. promulgated
his edict of pardon? the slab where Marcel cut the throats of
Robert de Clermont and the Marshal of Champagne, in the
presence of the dauphin? the wicket where the bulls of
Pope Benedict were torn, and whence those who had brought
them departed decked out, in derision, in copes and mitres,
and making an apology through all Paris? and the grand
hall, with its gilding, its azure, its statues, its pointed arches,
its pillars, its immense vault, all fretted with carvings? and
the gilded chamber? and the stone lion, which stood at the
door, with lowered head and tail between his legs, like the
lions on the throne of Solomon, in the humiliated attitude
which befits force in the presence of justice? and the beautiful
doors? and the stained glass? and the chased ironwork,
which drove Biscornette to despair? and the delicate woodwork
of Hancy? What has time, what have men done with
these marvels? What have they given us in return for all
this Gallic history, for all this Gothic art? The heavy flattened
arches of M. de Brosse, that awkward architect of the
Saint-Gervais portal. So much for art; and, as for history,
we have the gossiping reminiscences of the great pillar, still
ringing with the tattle of the Patru.