the provost’s men kicked out to restore order; an admirable tradition which has been faithfully handed down through the centuries to our present gendarmerie of Paris.

Every door and window and roof swarmed with good, placid, honest burgher faces gazing at the Palais and at the crowd, and asking no better amusement. For there are many people in Paris quite content to be the spectators of spectators; and to us a wall, behind which something is going on, is a sufficiently exciting spectacle.

If we of the nineteenth century could mingle in imagination with these Parisians of the fifteenth century, could push our way with that hustling, elbowing, stamping crowd into the immense Hall of the Palais, so cramped on that 6th of January, 1482, the scene would not be without interest or charm for us, and we would find ourselves surrounded by things so old that to us they would appear quite new.

With the reader’s permission we will attempt to evoke in thought the impression he would have experienced in crossing with us the threshold of that great Hall amid that throng in surcoat, doublet, and kirtle.

At first there is nothing but a dull roar in our ears and a dazzle in our eyes. Overhead, a roof of double Gothic arches, panelled with carved wood, painted azure blue, and diapered with golden fleur de lis; underfoot, a pavement in alternate squares of black and white. A few paces off is an enormous pillar, and another—seven in all down the length of the hall, supporing in the centre line the springing arches of the double groining. Around the first four pillars are stalls all glittering with glassware and trinkets, and around the last three are oaken benches, worn smooth and shining by the breeches of the litigants and the gowns of the attorneys. Ranged along the lofty walls, between the doors, between the windows, between the pillars, is the interminable series of statues of the rulers of France from Pharamond downward; the “Rois fainèants,” with drooping eyes and indolent hanging arms; the valiant warrior kings, with head and hands boldly uplifted in the sight of heaven. The tall, pointed windows glow in a thousand colours; at the wide entrances to the Hall are richly carved doors; and the whole—roof, pillars, walls, cornices, doors, statues—is resplendent from top to bottom in a coating of blue and gold, already somewhat tarnished at the period of which we write, but which had almost entirely disappeared under dust and cobwebs in the year of grace 1549, when Du Breuil alluded to it in terms of admiration, but from hearsay only.

Now let the reader picture to himself that immense, oblong Hall under the wan light of a January morning and invaded by a motley, noisy crowd, pouring along the walls and eddying round the pillars, and he will have some idea of the scene as a whole, the peculiarities of which we will presently endeavour to describe more in detail.

Assuredly if Ravaillac had not assassinated Henri IV there would have been no documents relating to his trial to be deposited in the Record office of the Palais de Justice; no accomplices interested in causing those documents to disappear, and consequently no incendiaries compelled, in default of a better expedient, to set fire to the Record office in order to destroy the documents, and to burn down the Palais de Justice in order to burn the Record office—in short, no conflagration of 1618. The old Palais would still be standing with its great Hall, and I could say to the reader “Go and see for yourself,” and we should both be exempt of the necessity, I of writing, he of reading this description, such as it is. All of which goes to prove the novel truth, that great events have incalculable consequences.

To be sure, it is quite possible that Ravaillac had no accomplices, also that, even if he had, they were in no way accessory to the fire of 1618. There exist two other highly plausible explanations. In the first place, the great fiery star a foot wide and an ell high, which, as every mother’s son knows, fell from heaven on to the Palais on the 7th of March just after midnight; and secondly, Thèophile’s quatrain, which runs:

“Certes, ce fut un triste jeu
Quand á Paris dame Justice,
Pour avoir mangè trop d’èpice
Se mit tout le palais en feu.”3

  By PanEris using Melati.

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