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administered a signal drubbing to their Roman Catholic brethren. The Prince Palatine, going to the help of the Protestants in 1576, also took possession of this pass on the Allier, and Vichy had to undergo a real siege, and suffer from a positive cannonade, when recaptured by the Grand Prior of France in 1590. Such are the chief events of its history, and they are quite sufficient, with the local interest of its convent, to invest the place with claims to respect from the contemplative valetudinarian.
The convent or monastery of Celestins here alluded to was founded by Louis XI. in 1410, who, it is supposed, intended to retire to this his favourite spot. As it enjoyed the privileges of an inviolable place of refuge, all the rich and noble families of the neighbourhood, as the Bourbons Carencey, the Lafayettes, and others, sought a last home within its walls. The monks had also the monopoly of the waters, and as they gave shelter to invalided clergy and abbots, they soon became immensely rich, which exposed them to the perilous honours of an occasional sacking ; but still the place flourished under monkish patronage till the year 1774, when Louis XV. suppressed the convent, of which there now only remains a few insignificant fragments : the last of the Celestins is said to have died in 1802. A billiard-room and saloon now occupy a portion of the site. There was also a convent of Capuchins, who tendered to the infirmities of their brethren, and the remains of their monastery are now used as the bottling department. The other relics in old Vichy are the Fontaine des Trois Cornets, which bears the date of 1583, and presents to the eye a triangular column of exquisite lightness, terminated by a cross, well browned by the lapse of ages; the church of Saint Blaise, adorned with curious paintings, chef d'auvres of some genius, appreciated apparently by the good people of Vichy, but incomprehensible to the rest of the world. Within the old town are also shown the rooms tenanted by Madame de Sevigné, and by Fléchier, the panegyrist of Turenne, who wrote of Vichy:
Je n'estimerais pas un chou,
Se tairait s'il eût vu ceci. The comparison of Saint-Cloud to a cabbage is not very dignified; but something must be allowed, as has been done to Gallic poets of greater renown than Flécbier, for the necessities of rhyme. Madame de Sevigné, writing to her daughter, Madame de Grignau, after extolling the beauties of the place, says : “ I took the waters this morning, dearest-oh! are they not bad? People go at six in the morning to the fountain; everybody goes there. They drink away, and make wry faces; for you must know that they are boiling hot, and have a most disagreeable taste of saltpetre. Then they turn, and go and come, and attend mass on rend ses eaux, on parle confidentiellement de la manière dont on les rend. This is the only subject of conversation till mid-day. Then they dine; after dinner somebody receives-to-day it was my turn. Young ladies of the place come, who dance la bourrée in perfection. The gipseys also put forward their claims to admiration. They go through certain manæuvres (dégognades), which the priests declare to be objectionable. At five o'clock all go and walk in this delicious country, at seven a light supper, and at ten to bed.”
Madame de Sevigné admired the bourrées, or dances of the country, very much. In another letter she wrote: “ There are very pretty women here; they danced yesterday the bourrées of the country, which are the prettiest in the world. There was one great fellow disguised as a woman, who amused me much, for his petticoats were always up, displaying his great legs.” It is to be supposed that manners have improved in New Vichy which did not exist at that time. The use of the douche has no doubt, at the same time, increased, as extreme hydropathic measures are the passion of the day. Madame de Sevigné tried the douche in her time, and declared it to be " a pretty good rehearsal of purgatory.”
In 1787, Mesdames Adélaïde and Victoire de France, having repaired to Vichy for the benefit of their health, many ameliorations in the edifices connected with the baths, and in the general arrangements, took place. Napoleon added the park, but the Duchess of Angoulême laid the first stone of the existing establishment, which was erected chiefly through her exertions. In 1821, Madame Adélaïde d'Orleans, sister of Louis Philippe, purchased the neighbouring chateau of Randan, and erected the little feudal hunting-box of Maumont for her nephews, the Prince de Joinville and the Duke of Montpensier, the latter of whom inherited the property, which passed with the Revolution into the hands of a public cominissary. Lastly, in 1846, M. Cunin Gridaine, at that time Minister of Commerce, and one of the most regular frequenters of Vichy, added considerably to the capabilities of the place, which he at once enlarged and embellished, and at the same time brought it more closely under the control of government.
There are now five first-rate hotels, the prices at which, for the day's board and lodging, vary from eight to twelve francs, to which must be added ten sous for attendance. There is one hotel (Montaret) at from eight to ten francs ; another (Burnol) at from six to eight. There are two at the fixed price of six francs per diem, and nine at five francs. It would be thought that this was plenty of accommodation, but it is far from sufficing for the hosts that rush to a spot as much frequented for recreation as for health during the height of the season. At such times it is often difficult to obtain a bed, and as difficult to get a bath. There are, however, plenty of lodging-houses in both the old and the new town. La Rue des Thermes is the select street. A lodger is admitted to the honours of the table d'hôte and the saloon till successive departures shall have conferred upon him the rights and privileges of a regular member of the culinary establishment.
The stranger is expected, on arriving at Vichy, to visit Dr. Prunelle, the inspector of the waters, or Dr. Petit, assistant inspector. These official disciples of Galen are, as is generally the case, at utter variance with one another, but that, as far as we can gather, upon only one point. Both agree as to the efficacy of the Celestin source in cases of gout, and in calculous disorders, but Dr. Petit also insists upon the waters being of use in articular gout, even if hereditary. Considering the alkaline character of the said waters, there is reason to believe that Dr. Petit is in the right. He is also considered as the most scientific of the two. Be this as it may, so great is the acrimony of the gouty question, that according as the visitor places himself under one banner, he may expect a proportionate amount of hostility from the followers of the other. Luckily all are not gouty patients at Vichy, as the perpetual succession of music and dancing will soon attest to the most determined hypochondriac.
An order for the baths having been duly obtained from one of these rival doctors, the stranger repairs to the grand établissement thermal, as it is called, where he is introduced, at the bottom of the corridor, to a fat and fresh-looking personage, with a happy physiognomy, whose words are listened to by candidates for bathing as if pronounced by the Delphic oracle. This is the chief bather, the amiable Mr. Prin, who after having inscribed in a register your name, surname, and qualities, announces with great regret that all the baths are preoccupied, but that in a few days your turn to have one at the hour you may wish for will inevitably come round. In the mean time you are reduced to the necessity of taking advantage of want of punctuality on the part of some titled bathers, or to get up some time before daylight-for at Vichy, phantoms light as sylphs are seen in the mysterious alleys of the parks wending their way to the baths at the very first break of day. Others repair to the springs, and the crowd of old and young men, of women and girls, some pale and sicklylooking, who go, tumbler in hand, from one spring to another, drinking every quarter of an hour the quantity that is prescribed for them, presents a curious spectacle. A lively Frenchman remarked that it would be a little more encouraging to the bibulous visitors if the dispensers of Auids, the naiads of the spot, were metamorphosed from ugly old women, as they really are, into young and fresh Bourbonaises, whose coquettish hats are their least ornament.
At ten o'clock precisely breakfast is proclaimed by the bells of all the hotels, whose deafening peal is far from being as harmonious as those rung by the churches of Liege or of Malines. The appetite, sharpened by the waters, the morning air, and a long walk, this signal is generally anxiously waited for, and every one takes his place at the immense table d'hôtes with military precision, the rule being, as elsewhere, that the last comer occupies the end of the table. If little is said, so much the more is eaten-often, indeed, a little more than is prescribed by the doctors.
After breakfast, the habitué fait une demi toilette, and then adjourns to the saloon of the hotel, where ladies, politicians, and the infirm, assemble together to read the newspapers, talk of the weather, or of one another. The dealers in lace from Clermont and Puy de Dome also pay diurnal visits, and afford a subject for conversation to the ladies. There are tables for Wisth and Boston, and above all there is music. At Vichy there are pianos everywhere, and perpetual concerts. Violins, flute, keybugles, pianos, and voices are always at work, and many are driven away by the din to the billiard-room or the park.
But there are other matutinal resources at Vichy, and there are picturesque excursions, which are accomplished by means of carriages which never fail to be in attendance after breakfast, and still more commonly by means of the modest steed of Balaam, which is kept in great order, and is in great requisition at Vichy.
At five o'clock the dinner-bell collects together the scattered popula
tion as if by enchantment, and many bring from Randan, Busset, or Effiat, appetites that would throw the purveyors into despair, if it was not that they were accustomed to these daily razzias.
After dinner another petite toilette is made, followed by a walk in the park, and a cigar. This park is a true French garden, with straight walks and a central basin, and chairs are placed under the shady avenues as in the Tuileries. The crowd, among whom are to be observed groups from perfidious Albion, a few Spaniards, and an occasional Russian, is chiefly composed of French provincials, with a sprinkling of Parisianselegantes et lions, as the latter designate themselves—and after walking, talking, and sitting till darkness comes on, they go away to another toilette previous to the ball, which takes place Sundays and Thursdays at the grand établissement. On other days, the band of the Strauss of Vichy plays from eight to ten o'clock. This from the 1st of June to the 1st of September. There are also frequent subscription balls given at the hotels.
The so-called grand établissement thermal, it is but just to say, is worthy of the renown and the prosperity of Vichy. The bathing cabinets, decorated with tiles of painted porcelain, and adorned with mirrors, are alike clean, comfortable, and ornamental. There is a façade of seventeen arches, crowned with a monumental clock, an immense corridor, billiard-room, reading and card-rooms, and a vast rotunda, which is used as the concert and ball-room. Needless to say that all this magnificence and all this luxury would still be dull and inanimate if the baton of Strauss of Vichy did not, like that of his namesake on the Danube, and of Jullien on the Thames, impart to it movement and life.
One of the most frequented and most agreeable walks near Vichy is that of the Côte Saint-Amaud. The lower part of the slope is clothed with vineyards, and a magnificent prospect is obtained from the crest. At Hauterive, about five miles from Vichy, there are alkaline springs, from which carbonate of soda is derived by a simple process. The road to these springs lies along the banks of the Allier, past the old Château d'Abret, to a ferry worthy only of Mohicans, and thence by a sandy shore to the village of Hauterive.
A peculiarly wild, rocky, and picturesque road leads from Saint Yon, a hamlet on the road to Nismes, to the village and Château de Busset, which, in the fourteenth century, belonged to the powerful house of Vichy, then to that of Allègre, and, lastly, to that of Bourbon Busset, one of the members of which, Peter of Bourbon, married Margaret d'Allègre. This branch of the house of Bourbon had for its originator Louis of Bourbon, son of Charles, first Duke of Bourbon, who, although Bishop of Liege, was not the less induced to take a widow of the Duke of Gueldres in marriage, which irregular proceeding was afterwards legitimatised by Louis XIII.
Randan is, however, the great gun of Vichy. To see Randan is a thing indispensable to every water-drinker who respects himself. In the language of the local table d'hôtes, to say that you have been to Vichy and not to Randan, is to say that you are a Crétin. An excursion to Randan is got up with great solemnity. To our lively neighbours even the picturesque is dull without company-30 Randan is visited in crowds;
tilburys, chariots, omnibuses, and donkeys, are enlisted on the occasion, the water-drinkers hurry over their matutinal doses, and all Vichy is agitated and excited.
This country mansion belonged, we have before said, to Madame Adélaïde, is a modern building, modestly but elegantly furnished, with a collection of curiosities, part brought by the Prince de Joinville from the Canaries and Brazil, part by Lord Bentinck from India, and part presented by Abd al Kader and Reshid Pasha. The grounds are much broken up and diversified, and the view from the terraces and shady avenues is very striking and extensive. This modern building rose, however, upon the ruins of a feudal chateau of some historical interest, and of a still more ancient monastery, much celebrated in its time for its severe discipline, as attested by the following tradition related by Gregory of Tours :
" A young man arrived one day at the monastery, and presented himself to the abbot, with a request to be allowed to devote himself to the service of God. The abbot endeavoured to dissuade him from his purpose, telling him that the rules of the establishment were very severe, and that he would not be able to accomplish all that would be required of him. The youth promised, however, with the help of God, to accomplish all that should be asked of him, and so he was admitted. A few days afterwards, when he had already made himself remarkable for his sanctity and devotion, the monks had occasion to put out a large quantity of corn to dry in the sun, and the novice was set over it to keep watch.
“Suddenly the heavens were darkened with clouds, and a heavy rain, with the noise of a roaring wind, was heard rapidly approaching. The monk seeing this, was much embarrassed what to do, for he thought that if he ran away to call the others, there was so much corn that they could never get it safe into the barn. So giving up all chance of escape, he sat about devoutly praying to God that not a drop of rain should fall upon the monks' wheat and barley. While he was thus engaged in prayer the clouds opened, and the rain poured in torrents all around the corn, without wetting a single grain of it.
- The other monks and the abbot having hastened in great trepidation to the spot, in order to save as much of the corn as possible, they became witnesses of this miracle, and seeking for the watcher, they found him prostrate on the ground, busily engaged in prayer. The abbot seeing this, knelt behind him and joined in prayer ; but the rain having gone by, he called the novice to him, and ordered that he should be well flogged, saying, “My son, it is fitting and proper that you should grow up humbly in the fear and reverence of God, and not glorify yourself by the performance of prodigies and miracles ; and it is further enjoined to you, that after the said wholesome discipline which has been prescribed for you, that you shall be further confined to your cell for a week, and that you shall there keep fast, so as the more effectually to prevent what has taken place engendering any vainglory in your mind, or creating other obstacles to the practices of virtue.'”
It is quite evident that the abbot did not intend that any one should perform miracles at Randan except himself. As to the medieval castle,