« ForrigeFortsæt »
pleted, it was decreed that the result it, it is a little fishing-town. A few should be crowned by a spectacle, boats lie in the bay, a Norman castle grand, national, and imperial. The rises in the background, rocks and fêtes may, as seers prophesy, have sandbanks outlie its shores, the winds other significance than this ; yet the from the west rage against it, the sea occasion was surely reason enough, from the north beats and surges in and the spectacle was worthy of the its roadstead. So it remains on and occasion.
on for centuries, sheltering fishermen, With certain peoples, pageantry is and sharing the vicissitudes of the a nature. The combinations, the times ; now under English rule, now expressions, the elements which in- under French, and benefiting little sure a great effect, are to them native by either. The disasters of royalty suggestions. The Greek was the connect themselves with it. There great master of the art. Grand, sub- the Empress Maud sought a refuge lime, and elegant, his mind caught from pursuit and shipwreck, and and reflected the unity of colours, raised a chapel in thanksgiving ; numbers and proportions, of magni- there Charles X. trod his last footficence and simplicity. The Roman step on the soil of France. At last it was more barbarous in his shows. becomes of import. France aspires Medieval exhibitions, though stately to be a naval power, and aims at and costly, were somewhat heavy and having a port on the seaboard of the laboured. With the French lives the Channel ; henceforth Cherbourg is a genius of modern pageantry. More place to be scanned and surveyed, and dramatic than grand, more brilliant reported on by kings and statesmen than sublime, it still inspires a hap- and engineers. Vauban plans its piness of effect and harmony of ar- defence, councils hold consultations rangement, pictorially and artistically on its advantages. The little fishperfect. It speaks, perhaps, more to ing-town of Normandy enters into the passions and the senses than to the politics of a nation. Nature the heart or imagination; but it does gives their value to many spots. speak. It creates the outer life of Å fine harbour, a great river, may the French. They rejoice in it, they make an unknown village or a glory in it, they understand it, they barren waste the jewel in a crown. are ever acting it, and they excel This offered only position. in it.
capabilities were to be wrought At Cherbourg the scene favoured and_wrested from nature. It was them : it gave them new and strik- to France what Cronstadt was to ing elements to work with. The Russia, a point where the means old blazonry of cloth -of-gold had of defence or attack might be congrown obsolete. The old church pro- structed - where a navy might be cessions, with their tapers, and vest- formed and protected-or whence it ments, and chanting, had ceased to might issue to take the command of attract; the movements of masses of the sea. It was, however, designed troops had been repeated until every rather as a refuge than a point citizen knew the programmes by ďappui. Like Cronstadt, too, it heart. But with the sea for an arena, was to be made. The sea was to surrounded by a glorious amphi- be fenced out that ships might ride theatre of hills, and barriered by the in the roadstead; basins were to be grand lines of the “ Digue”—with cut from the solid rock; forts were ships and forts as properties-with to be raised at all points. All was cannonadings and illuminations for to be done by the hand of man; effects—with all the accessories of nature had done little. The idea flags, and barges, and sailors--with of this creation belongs to the Bourtwo sovereigns as the persona-a bons. Louis XIV. was the first prospectacle was enacted which will jector. For a long time it was only make Cherbourg a name as well as a an idea ; rival projects delayed its locality.
fulfilment. At length there is a Curiously has the destiny of events beginning. Commerce is the first drawn this place from its obscurity. consideration. The port for the When history first fairly recognises merchant ships is formed-quays,
built ; then the necessity of defence sence of an allied sovereign, the suggests itself, and two forts arise Queen of Great Britain, is to grace on either side of the roadstead. In the spectacle. The scene opens
with 1784 the first cone of the breakwater her arrival and reception. It is the is sunk, and the foundation of this 4th of August. The sunshine, which stupendous work were laid. Twoyears follows ever her coming and going, later, and Cherbourg witnesses the was constant that day. The sea is first of the royal visits which have calm and smooth—the lights are since inaugurated the different stages waning-the English squadron is of construction. Louis XVI. enters lying off the French shore—the in state ; sees what has been done, slopes, the ridges, and the deep and what there is yet to do; re- valleys between cognises the grandeur and the neces- bright with woods and cornfields sity of the great design, and resolves the masts of the French ships are on its completion. Henceforward the just visible in the distance-and now idea becomes a national work. But it the royal yacht is seen steaming onremained for a man of stronger will wards; the squadron is formed in and more determined action to give two lines ; passing between them she to it the grand impulse of develop takes the lead, and thus, followed by ment. Napoleon comes with his her ships, the Sovereign of England men of war and his men of council; enters the road of Cherbourg. As casts over the place the glance which soon as the royal standard is seen, seizes everything at once; and then the French ships, their hulls almost was formed the thought, then uttered hidden behind the breakwater, their the words which are the inscription masts covered with flags, open their to his statue, and will be henceforth salute with the “tir circulaire," each the motto of Cherbourg-“ J'avais ship commencing with the first gun résolu de renouveler à Cherbourg les on either deck, the others following merveilles de l'Egypte." “ J'avais in quick and regular succession until élevé dejà dans la mer ma pyramide; three rounds had been fired; thus j'aurais eu aussi mon lac Mæris.” giving to the thundering of the The destiny of Cherbourg, as the cannon a symphony, in the
distance, great port of France, was almost musical ; whilst salvos from decided. The pyramide dans la the batteries on shore boomed in mer” progresses, and in 1813 the like a deep and crashing chorus. first opening of mon lac Moris" The effect was very perfect-flash is inaugurated by Marie Louise. shot after flash with continuous Amid the shouts of multitudes, the lightning-boom followed boom, and salvos of artillery, the laying of in- the smoke from each discharge curled scription stone, the benediction and in its own white column, twining in the prayers of priests, the water little eddies about the flags and masts. rushes in to the avant-port, and the Now the western entrance is reached, first dock is formed. The old dynasty the fort of Querqueville looms before has returned when the inner dock, us, the Digue stretches its length in the Bassin de Flot, is opened with a long dark line ; a little onwards the same ceremonies and the same and we see it in all its extent and rejoicings in presence of the Dauphin, vastness, with its round towers and fils de France, in 1829. Louis Philippe batteries, and high massive breastis on the throne when the project was work, recalling to us our boyish imasubmitted which has led to the com- gination of the walls and towers of pletion of the Digue in its present Babylon. Inside lie the battle-ships form. Each successive government of France in an oblique line; and was thus connected with the pro- along the shore, hiding its outline, gress.
In 1858 the last of the are anchored fleets of yachts and * merveilles" is finished, and the small steamers all gay with flag and "arrière bassin,” the crowning effort pennon, their masts grouped like a of the great work, decreed by Na- forest, with the light shining through, poleon I., is to be inaugurated by and a church, or fort, or street showNapoleon III. Such is the occasion ing at intervals their light floating of the fêtes of Cherbourg. The pre- forms contrasting prettily with the
dark hulls of the men-of-war; boats even than the boom of the guns, and shoot to and fro, giving a movement they were given out heartily and to the picture. Behind rise the hills, earnestly in honour of the Imperial stretching in broken ridge and swell welcome to our Sovereign. 'Eyes ing slope around the harbour. The were strained to catch a glimpse of lights are falling on them with pur- the greeting on board, but nothing ple tints, and are throwing a darken- could be seen save flitting forms and ing shade on the waters. Such was waving lights. Once more the cheers the scene, when amid loud huzzas are heard as the Emperor is seen reand cannonading, the yacht and our turning from his visit, and as he squadron took up their position beside leaves the side, the Royal yacht the French, their flags waving to- bursts into a conflagration of red, gether, each nation bearing in com- white, and blue flame, which seemed pliment that of the other, and the to spread along her decks and leap music of their bands mingling. It up around her masts, the fires blendwas the opening of the spectacle. ing and melting, like rainbow hues, All now was still, until the night had into a beautiful maze of light, which fallen, and the dark shadows were floated about the ship, and reflected lying over fort, and ship, and hill, on the water the tricolors of France. and then suddenly hundreds of bea- So soft, so beautiful, were these fires, cons flashed up along the line of the that they looked like the spirits of Digue, flaring up in strong, fierce flame divested of all anger and fiercefires towards the sky, and casting on ness. The effect, aided by the scene, the waters long lines of red light, was perfect; and those who saw it which, softened and curved by the will scarcely forget the beauty and flow, waved with all the brightness tastefulness of that night-spectacle, of lava streams. At the same moment though the exhibitions of the next the town burst into illumination, the surpassed it so much in splendour. squares were all alight with arches, Thus ended the first meeting of and other starry shapes and gleams royalties. here and there shone from the rows Thursday, in all the programmes of of lamps along the streets. The little the fêtes, was appropriated to the world of yachts seemed to flutter and honours and courtesies to be paid to wave in the reflected lights, whilst the Queen of Great Britain. The the large ships loomed dark and royal guest, who had come to witness spectral, and the batteries, where a national celebration in all the grace they appeared at all, seemed strug- and amity of alliance, was to be regling through a haze of sulphur flame; ceived and welcomed with all the here and there the waves sparkled ceremony and all the pomp which brightly, or were crossed with pale, attend the meeting of monarchs-was silvery streams ; here they lay in to be greeted with all the acclaim deep shadow. There is movement and enthusiasm of a people. It was among the vessels near the shore; to be the fête of the day. cheers ring out loudly. The shout And whatever may have been the of l'Empereur ! is carried onwards.feeling, the expression of the welcome Soon is seen the white barge gliding was worthy and grand. History through the lines to the Royal yacht, testifies the world's belief, that show and instantly the British ships ap- and pageant are the fitting accespeared enveloped in light ; from sories of royal greetings, and that the every port streamed gleams which meetings of the dignities and powers seemed to go down into the waves, of the earth are just occasions for playing and dancing with them as display. It does seem rational, too, they descended ; and from the yard- that there should then be more of arms and the rigging, blue-lights state, more of acclamation, more of showed the figures of the men on ceremony, than when Tom Brown the yards, and the outlines of the and Jack Smith shake hands. Doubtship with mystic indistinctness. As less, however, in the ship which conthe barge sped on, she was greeted tained the faithful Commons, many with lusty huzzas, which fell on the a bosom glowed with indignation and stillness of night with grauder effect stern contempt for the pride and pomp of kings; and many a one, not easily exhausted. There was one despite the hubbub and the circum- little novelty on this occasion which stance of the pageantry, sat down to attracted the wonder of the French calculate the cost, and mourn in very much. When the yards were spirit o'er the waste.
manned, some sailors in the Renown Few, however, saw aught save pro- had climbed up to the mast-heads, priety and meetness when, amid the and placed themselves on the trucks thundering of cannon, firing salute with their natural hardihood; and after salute, and the waving of flags, one fellow, in bravado, threw up his and the cheers of multitudes throng- arms and waved a Jack, to show that ing the shores and the ships, Queen he was standing without support. If Victoria landed at Cherbourg; or fame was his aim, he was gratified, aught that was not natural when for he shared the public attention the groups of Norman peasants and with the Emperor ; none of his Gallic holiday citizens crowded around to compeers_cared to imitate him. In look on her and her imperial hosts, fact, the French fail generally in this and greet them with loud vivas as respect, and do not range themselves they passed on through the streets on the yards with the same confiand along the roads to the Montagne dence and skill as our men; neither de Roule. The grand works were can they equal them in the lustiness, all visited, the beautiful view from the strong-lunged, all-together volume the mountain seen- -and again the of their cheers. Their saluting is, scene is on the water — again the perhaps, more effective; in fact, it is royal progress is announced by can- the very perfection of festive cannonading and shouting, until the nonading. yacht is reached. And now the And now there was a cessation for white barge is afloat, and under the a while—a lull during the imperial velvet canopy, studded with gold banquet-and then it was, whilst all bees, and surmounted by the gold were in expectation of some new eagle, sit the Emperor and Eugenie, spectacle, that, in proposing the health accompanied by the great soldiers of our Queen, Napoleon III. gave and the great councillors of the Em- utterance to words, which will pass pire-the Duc de Malakoff, Baraguay throughout Europe-will be canvassD'Hilliers, Marshal Vaillant, and ed and discussed in cabinets and Admiral Hamelin. The imperial ban- bureaus, and raise a sensation among quet was to be held on board the politicians and journalists. Then,
Bretagne,” the flag-ship, and they with the first soldiers of France beside are going thither to receive their him, surrounded by all the appurteroyal guest. As each of the royal nances of war, in sight of the gigantic parties passes, again the tir circulaire, works which had been designed and the salvos, the manning yards, and decreed to create the great war-port of the vivas are repeated. And yet the France, he spoke of peace as the aim spectacle does not grow tame by re- of the Empire—of peace as the wish petition. The scenic elements are so of the two peoples-and, seizing grand, the coups-d'oeil so fine, and so a happy illustration, ended thus : varying at the different times with “ Aussi ai-je le ferme espoir que si the different lights, and from the dif- l'on voulait réveiller les rancunes et ferent points. The magnificent road- les passions d'une autre époque, elles stead calm and bright-the massive viendraient échouer devant le bon towers and forts around and on it, sens public, comme les vagues se brieach ship in itself a spectacle, with sent devant la Digue qui protège en its flags, and men on the yards, ce moment, contre la violence de la and its own column of fire and smoké mer, les escadres des deux empires." --the eager excited group of specta
These words will fall with astonishtors—the wondrous prettiness of the ment on those who cannot reconcile yacht fleet — the grand roll of the peace and Cherbourg. cannon-the floating white clouds of The banquet over, the fête of the smoke—the ringing loud-voiced huz- night was to commence. The line of zas — the constant movement -- the fires again blazed on the Digue—a excitement, all contributed to effects signal is given, and all the ships are lit up; a few preliminary rockets are light thrown from the Diadem, which thrown, and blue-lights burnt, and could be concentrated with such the centre fort is seen in flames; the power on any object as to bring it red fire breaks through the embra- out in perfect relief. Whilst the ensures, throwing a lurid glare on the tertainment lasted, it was made to tower, and sweeps and courses along fall on the flag-ship, and showed her the walls, casting up jets and sparks, out clear and distinct,
lying in a circle and forked tongues to the sky-giving of light; and as our Queen returned, all the grandeur of a conflagration it radiated on the royal yacht, which without its fearfulness. Save for seemed for the time bathed in the the soft colouring of the feu d'artifice, brightest moonlight. The time for and of the haze left behind, it might parting came, and amid la même have seemed a reality. The effect bruit the Sovereigns took leave for was now beautiful exceedingly. The the night. The English ships, which Digue, with its large, fierce fires, and had remained dark and still hitherto, its mass of flame in the centre, and were suddenly illuminated with la its massive stonework, showing in lumière electrique (as the French call the red glare between, made the it), and the men clustered on the outer line; within were the ships, yards, their white dress relieving lying obliquely, each presenting its them from the darkness of the masts batteries of light, and reflecting from and rigging, put their whole strength its masts and rigging little stars on into their cheer, as the Emperor and the sea. Beyond was the illumina- Empress passed towards the shore. tion of the town; so that the road- of all the sounds which broke the stead lay environed by an enceinte stillness that night, there was none de feu ; and, as the different fires and so thrilling as those cheers, none lights flashed or shot across it, its which vibrated with such effect on waters and the little world which ear and feeling, or awoke such echoes floated therein now appeared in around. The thundering of the canbrightness, now in dark shadow; non is imposing, and terrible at times, one part sparkling brilliants, whilst grand always, yet it has not, nor can another disappeared in darkness, or it have, the majestic power of sound glimmered in misty shade. Mean- which belongs to the human voice. time, the feu d'artifice goes on at the It is an impulse to Englishmen to fort; all kinds of beautiful shapes cheer. We had cheered every impeblaze for an instant and then die out rial barge as it passed ; another ap--now a cascade jets into the air, peared, and a shout was just rising and descends in a shower of brilliant to our lips, when it was seen to hold lights, breaking and vanishing in the imperial funkies in their green sprays of every colour-now a bou- and gold. How the Jeameses would quet would spread open and unfold, have been astonished by such a saand then burst in gems of gold-green lute! The fires began now to flicker topaz, thick and bright as those in and wave, soine to die out; the canthe trees in Aladdin's garden. This nonading and shouting were over, all last was the triumph and end of the was dark and still ; and so ended the display. An independent fusillade second day, the fêté de la mer. of rockets and Roman candles had It was certainly also a fête de poubeen going on all the while from the dre, as a Frenchman said. There passenger steamers ; eccentric rockets was a quantity of villanous saltpetre would ascend from the Lords and Com- consumed that day. A French jourmons or the neighbouring vessels; in nalist, after descanting on the splenfact, every ship which had a firework dour and magnificence of the specof any kind displayed it, illustrating tacle, stops to count the cost, and the Turk’s idea, that an Englishman, calculates that 25,000 francs' worth in a general conflagration, would of powder had been expended in honlight and bring out his farthing can- our of the Queen of England. What dle, in order that he might have a fact for some of the faithful Comsomething to do with it. One of the mons to ruminate on! The spirit of most novel, and, at the same time, Manchester must have dwelt in this striking effects, was produced by a man. To those who go down to the