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after being a long time in possession of the feudal lords of Randan, it passed into the hand of the Polignacs, and in 1518 into that of the Larochefoucaulds, one of whose members, François, Prince of Marcillac, wedded Anne of Polignac, widow of Count de Sancerre, killed at the battle of Marignan. It was this lady who, according to the chronicles of the day, received the nightly visits of the Chevalier Bayard.
The Château d'Effiat, in the same neighbourhood, is still richer in artistic memorials and historical reminiscences than Randan. Here a monumental gateway, bearing the arms of the Effiat family, and of the time of Louis XIV., leads the way past the now useless ditch into a vast court-yard, in the centre of which stands the chateau, a strange group of buildings in all the various styles of architecture that have succeeded to one another for the last two centuries. Within, however, are halls with painted glass; saloons with roofs diversified by exquisite carved woodwork and arabesque paintings; tapestries illustrative of the history of Don Quixote ; the paladin Roland; arm-chairs and sofas of the time of Louis XIV., with pastoral scenes painted on their backs ; no end of gilding, painting, medallions, sculptures, carvings, and tapestry. The principal rooms are the saloon, the salle des gardes, and the chambre des etéques; but the most curious is the bedroom of the Marshal d'Effiat, which is religiously preserved as it existed two centuries ago. There is the great square bed of the old governor, with crimson silk and velvet curtains, bordered with gold and silver, and supported by four columns surmounted by feathers; great chairs, with backs enriched with escutcheons, wrought in gold and silver ; tapestry, with animated hunting scenes, in admirable preservation, yet in costumes, and painted with a disregard of perspective, that remind one only of the German Gothic school.
Although the Château d'Effiat existed in the middle of the sixteenth century, it really owes its celebrity to Antoine Coiffier, alias Ruzé, Marquis of Effiat, of Chilly and of Lonjumean, Marshal of France. The grandson of this first marquis and squire to Monsieur, the brother of Louis XIV., has been strongly suspected of being concerned with the Chevalier de Lorraine in the death of the Duchess of Orleans. Paul Louis Courier, in the elections of 1823, revived this scandal against the family:
“This D'Effiat," exclaimed the demagogue, “ elected deputy instead of me, is great grandson of Ruzé d'Effiat, who administered chicorywater to Madame Henrietta of England. Their fortune arose from that. Monsieur lived with the Chevalier de Lorraine, whom madame did not like; this brought trouble in the household. D'Effiat set all to rights with chicory-water; these are services which the great do not forget, and which serve to ennoble a family.”
Another son of the first marquis was the unfortunate Cinq Mars, beheaded at Lyons, with his friend Thou, the 12th of September, 1642, both victims of the hatred of Richelieu. Another son, Charles d'Effiat, Abbot of Saint Sernin, Toulouse, and Trois Fontaines, also rendered himself equally familiar to the chronicles of the day by his liaison with Ninon de l'Enclos.
The dynasty of the D'Effiats survived the first revolution, but the property fell before that into the hands of the well-known financier Law, was sold to his numerous creditors, and passed through various hands into those of the present proprietor, who has the reputation of being a wealthy, harmless personage, as much surprised at finding himself in the Château d'Effiat, as the emissary of the Doge of Venice was on the day of reception at Versailles.
Besides these remnants of the middle ages still inhabitable, there are more ruinous and picturesque relics around Vichy, among which Billy, with its ancient gateways, its crumbling walls, and its old castle, of which four towers still exist, stands prominent, and is well worthy of being embalmed in either artist's or amateur's album.
Then there is Cusset, once a fortified town of high repute, and, although now poverty-stricken and ruinous, the Cussetois is as proud of his birthplace as the Marseillais is of his Cannebiére. If the obelisk of Luxor, as Balzac said, looks as if innocent of being a monument, Cusset, on the contrary, parades by every means in its power its fallen greatness. Crumbling ramparts, a medieval market-place, a church dedicated to St. Saturnin, of monumental aspect, and the tower of Notre Dame, now used as a prison, with narrow, irregular, silent streets, are, however, all that remain to attest this former importance.
Yet it was here that the Dauphin, afterwards Louis XI., made his submission, the 24th of July, 1440, to Charles VII., his father, which act of filial duty put an end to the war of the Praguerie. Jean Doyac, a Cussetois, and favourite of Louis XI., and who fortified the town by order of the king, was rewarded for his labours by being publicly whipped by the common executioner both at Paris and Montferrand, and having his tongue pierced and his ears cut off, by order of Anne of France.
It is a mere stroll from Vichy to Cusset, and the high road may be agreeably avoided by following the valley of the Sichon, a sparkling tributary to the Allier, which flows through pleasant meadows, decorated with an umbrageous walk of poplar-trees, planted by Mesdames Adélaïde and Victoire in 1785, and still called the Allée de Mesdames.
Then, again, there is the once fortified hamlet of St. Germain les Fossés, picturesquely situated on the slope of a hill, and which played a part in the religious wars; the small town of Châteldon, with mineral sources; the modern chateau of Lafont, the pretty church of Chatel Montagne, two towers of a stronghold of the Templars on the summit of Mount Perou, the only volcanic biil in the neighbourhood, and a kind of advanced sentinel of the more extensive eruptions of the Mont d'Or and the Puys de Dome and De Cantal.
To those who love the picturesque as much as works of art and ruins of olden time, there are also resources of no mean order around Vichy. Fléchier said: “Il n'y a pas dans la nature de paysage plus beau, plus riche, et plus varié que celui de Vichy.” Situated, indeed, as it is, at the extremity of that district of Auvergne which is called La Limagne, whose fertility is as proverbial as Touraine-the garden of France—the bridge upon the Allier being one of the keys to the mountain district beyond ; with Cusset, limitrophal fortress of Auvergne and Bourbonnais, the valleys of the Allier and the Sichon uniting between; the host of pretty villages and castellated residences that are scattered around and above, which rise in every direction ; rocky, hilly districts, their slopes covered with long expanses of light green vineyards, which again shade off in the distance into dark forests, there are contrasts and combinations that almost warrant the high-flown compliment of the old predicator.
There are amidst this profusion localities that particularly claim notice, and which yet, if not pointed out, would certainly be passed over. Such is the glen through which the road is carried from Saint Yon to Busset ; such also more particularly is the valley of the Sichon beyond Cusset. Confined in a narrow rocky bed in a precipitous, and yet woody, defile, the torrent has to force its way through all kinds of impediments, the more stubborn of which force it to fall in many a turbulent cascade. At one point the rocks approach so closely as to have received the inevitable name of leap-in this case not a lover's, but a goat's leap. A poor old lady bad only one goat for all her fortune. Her whole occupation all summer was to lay in grass sufficient for her pet's winter consumption. One winter, however, was cruelly long; the wolves, harassed by prolonged frost and snow, had come down from the mountains; the stock of hay was exhausted, yet the old lady did not dare to take out her goat to feed. At length its plaintive cries for food prevailed, the old dame took it out, and almost as soon a famished wolf made its appearance. The goat in its fright took the leap, and landed on the other side in safety ; the wolf followed, missed its footing, and was dashed to pieces. Such is the legend of the place; to which it is added, that lovers come there, not to leap, but to throw stones across the gap; if they settle quietly on the rocky point opposite, the omen is good; but if they tumble down, good by to all ideas of marriage, and St. Catherine wins the day. Next comes the rocky defile called Les Grivats, where is a cotton manufacture ; then La Goure saillant, a diamond edition of the waterfalls of Reichenbach, well wooded and very pretty; and lastly, and just beyond, a wild, slaty district, designated as L'Ardoisière, although put to little or no commercial use, and near to which an old hermit, known as Frère Jean, once dwelt. Between Cusset and Mont Perou is a chapel dedicated to Sainte Madeleine, who has the regulation of the weather, and is invoked accordingly for wet or dry, as the peasant particularly desires, sometimes for both at the same time. There is a still wilder district beyond Cusset called Malavaux, or the “ Cursed Valley," where is a hole called the Puits du Diable, both which names attest to the bandit-like horrors of the place. To return to gay, lively Vichy, after visiting these rocky, sterile, yet picturesque scenes, is like a sudden change from nightmare and darkness to sunshine and smiles.
A NIGHT IN CALIFORNIA. In the furthest east of the Californian gold-mines—that is, as far as the daring miners had, in that day, penetrated towards the east and found gold, and at the spot where the waters of the southern streams, the Macalome and the Calaveres, divide-a little mountain torrent rushes through the centre of the romantic scenery beneath the leafy covering of gigantic trees, and a little further below, though always precipitous and foaming, dashes down into the southern arm of the Macalome, which follows its noisy course at a great depth beneath it.
This little creek, or “ Gulch," the Californian name which such streams have gradually acquired, though the word “Gulch” really means the ravine through which the stream rushes, had been named by its first discoverers, Germans, “ Mosquito Gulch ;" for, in the wildly overgrown thicket that filled the lower part of the gulch, and mainly consisting of a species of wild cherry and hazel trees, a very respectable number of these charming little creatures took up their abode during the summer, and spurred the workmen to fresh activity whenever they rested for a little while in the cool shade of the really gigantic cedars and pines, and wished to let their shovels and pikes “grow cold,” as they called it. The mosquitoes make capital overseers.
But, speaking parenthetically, they were not so bad after all; the fact was, that the people who christened the clear merry stream thus, and so gave it a bad name, had not seen any places where the mosquitoes really swarmed; they had not visited the banks of the Mississippi, for instance.
About half-way down the mountain stream, at about the same distance from its source and its mouth, and on the slope of the hill, which was bounded on three sides by deep ravines—in the north by the Macalome itself, while from the hill a glorious view could be enjoyed of its firclad banks, and from the depths below, its hollow roar, as it leaped over masses of rocks and trunks of trees, reached the ear of the spectator; on the east by a little, dry ravine, and on the west by the deeply-cut Mosquito Gulch-down to which a precipitous path of about 200 yards in length led-stood a small camp, as it is called in miners' parlance, consisting of four tents, three white and one blue, nestled together closely and comfortably under tall pines and dwarf oaks, while at night a tremendous fire crackled in the centre.
These four tents were inhabited by just so many companies (as the two, three, four, or more, who work together, are called), and they were, with the exception of a single American, all Germans, the greater part of whom had come with the Bremen ships Talisman and Reform, but some from Australia and other parts of the globe, and had met together here, in true Californian fashion, on the retired, but exquisitely situated, mountain slopes.
At about a hundred yards distance stood another tent, in which a company of English and Irish miners lived ; and still further back a Pole and a German, who had both come from Texas, camped under the open sky; for the rainy season had not yet set in, and the nights were generally bright.
If you have an inclination, reader, and nothing better to do, we will spend the present evening-it is Sunday-among them; we shall find a hearty lot of fellows, good company, and most assuredly a kind welcome.
It is about four in the afternoon, and the camp remarkably still : what can have become of all the men who usually make it so animated ?
Yes, friend, we live here at a distance of about five English miles from the nearest store, and so at least one of each company, but usually several, goes on a Sunday on horse, mule, or donkey back-for these three modes of transport exist here together-to “Charles' store," a place well known in the whole neighbourhood, to buy the necessary provisions in the shape of flour, potatoes, meat, sugar, onions, &c., for the next week, and frequently return in a remarkable state of beer on this particular evening. These usually very jolly fellows seldom come back before dusk, and it's often ten or eleven ; and if the donkeys were not more sensible- but I am getting on too fast.
In fact, till now, only a single figure had been moving about the tents, a man in a cleanly, but old and repeatedly patched red woollen shirt, and grey linen trousers, with dark brown curly hair, small but sparkling eyes, and broad hands well used to work-we might almost call them fists. He worked with another, of the name of Panning. Panning had been coachman in Germany to a Count So-and-so, and had come to California to make his fortune. Albert had driven a team of oxen over the Sierra Nevada for Uncle Sam-he was fond of talking about this journey; afterwards, I believe, he had “left of his own accord," as deserters usually called it, or had been dismissed ; in short, he was here on Mosquito Gulch, and “ made good out." Dear reader, you will have to accustom yourself to many mining expressions, and must not begin shaking your head over them already
Albert was busily engaged in carrying his mattresses and blankets, which had been lying in the sun during the day, back into the tent, and in taking down the articles of clothing he had washed in the morning, from a line expressly fastened between two young oaks, and was now carrying in wood for the evening. He had been sewing and repairing the whole day, and was, in the bargain, a very industrious man and excellent workman.
Panning and Albert possessed a white mule as joint-stock property. In the blue tent some one was also stirring; its solitary inhabitant, to whose clothes a couple of stitches of grey cotton would have done no harm, was lying rather lazily on his blanket before the tent, and looking at the green masses of foliage above him. The tent was inhabited by three Germans—Renich, Haye, and Müller-so we will call the third man, as my own name is so preciously long. Renich and Haye had gone to the store, one upon, the other by the side of, Mosquito (as we had christened the donkey belonging to the tripartite society, in honour of the gulch), and Müller might certainly have got up and made a fire, for, when his two companions came home, they would be hungry and want something to eat. In the first place, however, there was nothing edible, for the last four potatoes and two onions—the whole remains of the previous week's provisions, with the exception of some home-made bread-had just furnished out his last dinner; and besides, he “knew his Pappenheimer;" they would not come home so early, and when they did, would be suffer