Victor Hugo – The Hunchback Of Notre Dame: The Grand Hall (1/61)



book first chapter one of The Hunchback of Notre Dom by Victor Hugo translated by Isabel F Hapgood read by Mark Douglas Nelson this is a librivox recording all librivox recordings are in the public domain for more information or to volunteer visit librivox.org preface a few years ago while visiting or rather rummaging about notre dom the author of this book found in an obscure nook of one of the towers the following word engraved by hand upon the wall an arc these Greek capitals black with age and quite deeply graven in the stone with I know not what signs peculiar to gothic calligraphy imprinted upon their forms and upon their attitudes as though with the purpose of revealing that it had been a hand of the Middle Ages which had inscribed them there and especially the fatal and melancholy meaning contained in them struck the author deeply he questioned himself he saw to divine who could have been that sold in torment which had not been willing to quit this world without leaving this stigma of crime or unhappiness upon the brow of the ancient church afterwards the wall was whitewashed or scraped down I know not which and the inscription disappeared for it is thus that people have been in the habit of proceeding with the marvellous churches of the Middle Ages for the last 200 years mutilations come to them from every quarter from within as well as from without the priest whitewashes them the Archdeacon scrapes them down then the populace arrives and demolishes them thus with the exception of the fragile memory which the author of this book here consecrates to it there remains today nothing whatever of the mysterious word engraved with in the gloomy tower of Notre Dom nothing of the destiny which it so sadly summed up the man who wrote that word upon the wall disappeared from the midst of the generations of man many centuries ago the word in its turn has been effaced from the wall of the church the church will perhaps itself soon disappear from the face of the earth it is upon this word that this book is founded March 1831 book first chapter 1 the Grand Hall 348 years 6 months and 19 days ago today the Parisians awoke to the sound of all the bells in the triple circuit of the city the University and the town ringing a full peal the 6th of January 1482 is not however a day of which history has preserved the memory there was nothing notable in the event which thus set the bells and the bushwa of Paris in a ferment from early morning it was neither an assault by the Picard's nor the burgundians Nora hunt led along in procession nor a revolt of scholars in the town of laws nor an entry of our much dread Lord Mon Co the king nor even a pretty hanging of male and female thieves and the courts of Paris neither was it the arrival so frequent in the fifteenth century of some plumed and ba'd eyesand embassy it was barely two days since the last cavalcade of that nature that of the Flemish ambassadors charged with concluding the marriage between the dolphin and margarita Flanders had made its entry into Paris to the great annoyance of monsieur le Cardinal ababa who for the sake of pleasing the King had been obliged to assume an amiable mean towards this whole rustic rabble of Flemish burgomaster's and to regale them at his hotel du bar ball with a very pretty morality allegorical satire and farce while a driving rain drenched the Magnificent tapestries at his door what put the whole population of Paris and commotion as Johan Detroit expresses it on the 6th of January was the double solemnity United from time immemorial of the Epiphany and the Feast of Fools on that day there was to be a bonfire at the plasti grave a may pole at the chapelle de Brack and a mystery at the Palais de justice it had been cried to the sound of the trumpet the preceding evening at all the crossroads by the Provost's men clad in handsome short sleeveless coats of violet Camelot with large white crosses upon their breasts so the crowd of citizens male and female having closed their houses and shops thronged from every direction at early morn towards some one of the three spots designated each had made his choice one the bonfire another the Maypole another the mystery play it must be stated in honor of the good sense of the loungers of paris that the greater part of this crowd directed their steps towards the bonfire which was quiet in season or towards the mystery play which was to be presented in the Grand Hall of the Palais de justice the courts of law which was well roofed and walled and that the curious left the poor scantily flowered maypole to shiver all alone beneath the sky of January in the cemetery of the chapel of Prak the populace thronged the avenues of the law courts in particular because they knew that the Flemish ambassadors who had arrived two days previously intended to be present at the representation of the mystery and at the election of the Pope of fools which was also to take place in the Grand Hall it was no easy matter on that day to force one's way into that Grand Hall although it was then reputed to be the largest covered enclosure in the world it is true that so valve had not yet measured the Grand Hall of the Chateau of Mont Argus the palace plus encumbered with people offered to the curious gazers at the windows the aspect of a sea into which five or six streets like so many mouths of rivers discharged every moment fresh floods of heads the waves of this crowd augmented incessantly dashed against the angles of the houses which projected here and there like so many promontory into the irregular basin of the plus in the center of the lofty gothic facade of the palace the grand staircase incessantly ascended and descended by a double current which after parting on the intermediate landing place flowed in broad waves along its lateral slopes the grand staircase I say trickled incessantly into the plus like a cascade into a lake the cries the laughter the trampling of those thousands of feet produced a great noise and a great clamor from time to time this noise and clamor redoubled the currents which drove the crowd towards the Grand Staircase flowed backwards became troubled formed whirlpools this was produced by the buffett of an archer or the horse of one of the Provost sergeants which kicked to restore order an admirable tradition which the Provostship has bequeathed to the Constabulary the Constabulary to the Mara shall say the marichal say to our Jean de Marie of Paris thousands of good Cong bourgeois faces throng the windows the doors the dormer windows the roofs gazing at the palace gazing at the populace and asking nothing more for many Parisians content themselves with the spectacle of the spectators and a wall behind which something is going on becomes at once for us a very curious thing indeed if it could be granted to us the men of 1830 to mingle in thought with those Parisians of the fifteenth century and to enter with them jostles elbowed pulled about into that immense Hall of the palace which was so cramped on that sixth of January 1482 the spectacle would not be devoid of either interest or charm and we should have about us only things that were so old that they would seem new with the readers consent we will endeavor to retrace in thought the impression which he would have experienced in company with us on crossing the threshold of that Grand Hall in the midst of that tumultuous crowd in surcoats short sleeveless jackets and doublets and first of all there is a buzzing in the ears dazzle meant in the eyes above our heads is a double ogive vault paneled with wood carving painted azure and sewn with golden fleur-de-lis beneath our feet a pavement of black and white marble alternating a few paces distance an enormous pillar then another then another seven pillars in all down the length of the hall sustaining the spring of the arches of the double vault in the center of its width around four of the pillars stalls of merchants all sparkling with glass and tinsel around the last three benches of oak worn and polished by the trunk hose of the litigants and the robes of the attorneys around the hall along the lofty wall between the doors between the windows between the pillars the interminable role of all the kings of France from pheromone down the lazy Kings with paedon tarns and downcast eyes the valiant and combative Kings with heads and arms raised boldly heavenward then in the long pointed windows glass of a thousand hues at the wide entrances to the hall rich doors finally sculptured and all the vaults pillars walls jams paneling door statues covered from top to bottom with a splendid blue and gold illumination which a trifle tarnished at the epoch when we behold it had almost entirely disappeared beneath dust and spiders in the year of grace 1549 when de Brule still admired it from tradition let the reader picture to himself now this immense oblong Hall illuminated by the pallid light of a January day invaded by a motley and noisy throng which drifts along the walls and Eddie's round the seven pillars and he will have a confused idea of the whole defect of the picture who's curious details we shall make an effort to indicate with more precision it is certain that if rava yak had not assassinated onry the fourth there would have been no documents in the trial of rava yak deposited in the Clarks office of the Palais de justice no accomplices interested in causing the said documents to disappear hence no incendiaries obliged for the lack of better means to burn the Clarks office in order to burn the documents and to burn the Palais de justice in order to burn the Clarks office consequently in short no conflagration in 1618 the old Palais will be standing still with its ancient Grand Hall I should be able to say to the reader go and look at it and we should thus both escape the necessity I of making and he of reading a description of it such as it is which demonstrates a new truth that great events have incalculable results it is true that it may be quite possible in the first place that rava yak had no accomplices and in the second that if he had any they were in no way connected with the fire of 1618 two other very plausible explanations exist first the great flaming star a foot broad and a cubit high which fell from heaven as everyone knows upon the law courts after midnight on the 7th of March second tail feels quatrain sure twas but a sorry game when at Paris Dame justice through having eaten too much spice set the palace all aflame whatever may be thought of this triple explanation pull it physical and poetical of the burning of the law-courts in 1618 the unfortunate fact of the fire is certain very little today 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 therefore the traces of the magnificent buildings erected by King robear and described by helg Aldus nearly everything has disappeared what has become of the chamber of the Chancellery where celui consummated his marriage the garden where he administered justice clad in a coat of camelot a sir coat of linsey-woolsey without sleeves and a sir mantle of black sandal as he lay upon the carpet with Chhavi where is the chamber of the Emperor Sigismund and that of Shara the fourth that of Jean the landless where is the staircase from which Charles the 6th promulgated his Edict of pardon the slab where Marcel cut the throats of Robert de Clermont and the marshal of champagne yah in the presence of the dough fan the wickets where the Bulls of Pope Benedict were torn and whence those who had brought them departed decked out in derision in copes and miters and making an apology through all paris and the grand hall with its gilding it's a jour it's statues its pointed arches its pillars its immense vaults all threaded 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 chaste iron work which drove miss Cornett to despair and the delicate woodwork of on see has time what have men done with these marbles what have they given us in return for all this Gallic history for all this gothic art the heavy flattened arches of monsieur Deborah say that awkward architect of the sanjivet 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 pot true it is not much let us return to the veritable Grand Hall of the veritable old palace the two extremities of this gigantic parallelogram were occupied the one by the famous marble table so long so broad and so thick that as the ancient land rolls in a style that would have given gargantuan and appetite say such a slice of marble as was never beheld in the world the other by the chapel where louis xi had himself sculptured on his knees before the virgin and whither he caused to be brought without heating the two gaps thus made in the row of royal statues the statues of Charlemagne and of San Louie two Saints whom he supposed to be great in favour in heaven as kings of France this Chapel quite new having been built only six years was entirely in that charming taste of delicate architecture of marvellous sculpture of fine and deep chasing which marks with us the end of the Gothic era and which is perpetuated to about the middle of the 16th century in the fairy like fancies of the Renaissance the little openwork Rose window pierced above the portal was in particular a masterpiece of lightness and grace one would have pronounced it a star of lace in the middle of the hall opposite the great door a platform of gold brocade placed against the wall a special entrance to which had been effected through a window in the corridor of the gold chamber had been erected for the flemish Emma Aries and the other great personages invited to the presentation of the mystery play it was upon the marble table that the mystery was to be enacted as usual it had been arranged for the purpose early in the morning it's rich slabs of marble all scratched by the heels of law clerks supported a cage of carpenters work of considerable height the upper surface of which within view of the whole hall was to serve as the theatre and whose interior masked by tapestries was to take the place of dressing rooms for the percentages of the piece a ladder naively placed on the outside was to serve as means of communication between the dressing room and the stage and lend its Rood rungs to entrances as well as to exits there was no personage however unexpected no sudden change no theatrical effect which was not obliged to mount that ladder innocent and venerable infancy of art and contrivances for of the bailiff of the palaces sergeants perfunctory guardians of all the pleasures of the people on days of festival as well as on days of execution stood at the four corners of the marble table the piece was only to begin with the 12th stroke of the great palace clock sounding midday it was very late no doubt for a theatrical representation but they had been obliged to fix the hour to suit the convenience of the ambassador's now this whole multitude had been waiting since morning a goodly number of curious good people had been shivering since daybreak before the grand staircase of the palace some even affirmed that they had passed the night across the threshold of the great door in order to make sure that they should be the first to pass in the crowd grew more dense every moment and like water which rises above its normal level began to mount along the walls to swell around the pillars to spread out on the entablatures on the cornices on the windowsills on all the salient points of the architecture all the reliefs of the sculpture hence discomfort impatience weariness the liberty of a day of cynicism and folly the quarrels which break forth for all sorts of causes appointed elbow and iron-shod shoe the fatigue of long waiting had already long before the hour appointed for the arrival of the ambassadors imparted a harsh and bitter accent to the clamor of these people who are shut in fitted into each other pressed trampled upon stifled nothing was to be heard but imprecations on the Flemish the Provost of the merchants the cardinal de Bourbon the bailiff of the courts Madame Marguerite of Austria the sergeant's with their rods the cold the heat the bad weather the Bishop of Paris the Pope of the fools the pillars the statues that closed door that open window all to the vast amusement of a band of scholars and lackeys scattered through the mass who mingled with all this discontent they're teasing remarks and their malicious suggestions and pricked the general bad temper with a pin so to speak among the rest there was a group of these merry imps who after smashing the glass in a window had seated themselves heartily on the entablature and from that point dispatched their gaze and their railer ease but within and without upon the throng in the hall and a throng upon the Plus it was easy to see from their parodied gestures their ringing laughter the bantering appeals which they exchanged with their comrades from one end of the hall to the other that these young clerks did not share the weariness and fatigue of the rest of the spectators and that they understood very well the art of extracting for their own private diversion from that which they had under their eyes a spectacle which made them await the other with patience upon my soul so it's you joannes frollo de molendino cried one of them to a sort of little light haired imp with a well favored and malign countenance clinging to the the sleeves of a capital u are well named John of the mill for your two arms and your two legs have the air of four wings fluttering on the breeze how long have you been here by the mercy of the devil retorted joannes frollo these four hours and more and I hope they will be reckoned to my credit in purgatory I heard the eight singers of the King of Sicily in tone the first verse of seven o'clock mass in the Sasha Belle fine singers replied the other with voices even more pointed than their caps before founding a mass form on seal say John the king should have inquired whether Moscow st. John likes Latin droned out in a Provencal accent he did it for the sake of employing those accursed singers of the King of Sicily cried an old woman sharply from among the crowd beneath the window I just put it to you a thousand livres per se for a mass and out of that tax on sea fish in the markets of Paris to boot PA sold crone said at all grieve person stopping up his nose on the side towards the fish wife a mass had to be founded would you wish the king to fall ill again bravely spoken Saoirse lecornu master furrier of king's robes cried the little student clinging to the capital a shout of laughter from all the students greeted the unlucky name of the poor furrier of the Kings robes lekar new year's lecornu said some cornutus at her suta's horned and hairy another went on he of course continued the small imp on the capital what are they laughing at an honourable man is years lecornu brother of master jehan de coeur new provost of the king's house son of master mejia lecornu first porter of the bois de vincennes all bourgeois of paris all married from father to son the goethe doubled the big furrier without uttering a word in reply tried to escape all the eyes riveted upon him from all sides but he perspired and panted in vain like a wedge entering the wood his effort served only to bury still more deeply in the shoulders of his neighbor's his large apoplectic face purple with spite and rage at length one of these as fat short and venerable as himself came to his rescue ah domination scholars addressing a bush while in that fashion in my day would have been flogged with a fagot which would have afterwards been used to burn them the whole band burst into laughter hola eh who is scolding so who is that screech owl of evil fortune hold I know him said one of them tis master Andre moon yeh because he as one of the four sworn booksellers of the University said the other everything goes by fours in that shop cried a third the four nations the four faculties the four feasts the four procurator's the for electors the four booksellers well begins Jean Frollo once more we must play the devil with them moon yay we'll burn your books mone we'll beat your lackeys moon yay will kiss your wife that fine Mademoiselle who died who is as fresh and as gay though she were a widow devil take you grout master Andre moon yay Master Andre pursue John Jehan still clinging to his capital hold your tongue or I'll drop on your head master andry raised his eyes seemed to measure in an instant the height of the pillar the weight of the scamp mentally multiplied that weight by the square of the velocity and remained silent Jehan master of the field of battle pursue triumphantly that's what I'll do E if I am the brother of an archdeacon fine gentry are our people of the University not to have caused our privileges to be respected on such a day as this however there is a maypole and a bonfire in the town a mystery Pope of the fools and Flemish ambassadors in the city and at the University nothing nevertheless the plasma bear is sufficiently large interposed one of the clerks established on the windowsill down with the rector the electors and the procurator's cries Oh Hans we must have a bonfire this evening and the Sham guard went on the other made of master Andres books and the desks of the scribes added his neighbor and the beetles ones and the spittoons of the deans and the cupboards of the procurator's and the Hodges of the electors and the stools of the wreck tore down with them put in little Jehan nests counterpoint down with master Andre the beetles and the scribes the theologians the doctors and the decree tests the procurator's the electors and erect or the end of the world has come muttered master Andre stopping up his ears by the way there's the rector see he is passing through the plows cried one of those in the window each rivaled his neighbor in his haste to turn towards the PLAs is it really our venerable rector master Thibaut demanded Jehan Frollo du Moulin who as he was clinging to one of the inner pillars could not see what was going on outside yes yes replied all the others it is really he master Thibaut the rector it was in fact the rector and all the dignitaries of the university who were marching in procession in front of the embassy and at that moment traversing the plas the students crowded into the window saluted them as they passed with sarcasms and ironical applause the rector who was walking at the head of his company had to support the first broadside it was severe good day monsieur le rector on a good day there how does he manage to be here the old gambler has he abandoned his dice how he trots along on his mule her ears are not so long as his Ola a good day monsieur le rector tebow t bout Eliot or old fool old gambler god preserve you did you throw double six often last night oh what a decrepit face livid and Haggard and drawn with the love of gambling and of dice where are you bound for in that fashion Tebow Tebow de dados with your back turn to the University and trotting towards the town he is on his way no doubt to seek a lodging in the rue tee-ball de cría hon do Monsieur Mallah the entire band repeated this quip in a voice of thunder clapping their hands furiously you are going to seek a lodging in the rue tipo de are you not monsieur le rector gamester on the side of the devil then came the turns of the other dignitaries down with the beetles down with the mace bearers tell me rob amp we span who is that yonder he is your bear de su e gear belt dos dos Ayako the Chancellor of the College of out tune hold on here's my shoe you are a better place than I fling it in his face Saturn Alito's meaty Mo's Akainu case down with the six theologians with their white surplices are those the theologians I thought they were the white geese given by Sascha Andrea after the city for the fief of wrong ye down with the doctors down with a cardinal disputations and Quibbler 'he's my cap to you Chancellor of Sascha on viev you have done me wrong tis true he gave my place in the nation of Normandy to little Ascanio falsa pada who comes from the province of Borgias since he's an Italian that is an injustice said all the scholars down with the Chancellor of San Xavier away Master Shaak in della doors away Louie de we all Waylon bear Jota MA may the devil stifle the procurator of the German nation and the chaplains of the Shasha pelled with their grey amesys come to nica's greece's see you too Polly boss Greece is for artists own eye a master of arts all the beautiful black copes all the fine red copes they make a fine tale for the rector one would say that he was a Doge of Venice on his way to his bridle with the sea say Jehan here are the cannons of sunshine fiev to the deuce with a whole set of cannons AB a close shot doctor cloche wot are you in search of Marie like ephod she is in the Rue de gluttony she is making the bed of the king of the debauchees she is paying her for deniers quote your Denny arrows out unum bomb boom would you like to have her pay you in the face comrades mr. Simo said where the elector of Picardy with his wife on the crupper post equit m/sec let etre yura behind the horseman sits black care courage master Simone good day mr. elector good night Madame Electress how happy they are to see all that sighs oh and emmalin dino still perched in the foliage of his capital meanwhile the sworn bookseller of the university master andry Monet was inclining his ear to the furrier of the king's robes master Zhi lecornu I tell you sir that the end of the world has come no one has ever beheld such outbreaks among the students it is the accursed inventions of this century that are ruining everything artilleries bombards and above all printing that other German pest no more manuscripts no more books printing will kill book selling it is the end of the world that is drawing nigh I see that cleanly from the progress of velvet stuffs said the fur merchants at this moment midday sounded ha explained the entire crowd in one voice the scholars held their peace then a great hurly-burly ensued a vast movement of feets hands and heads a general outbreak of coughs and handkerchiefs each when arranged himself assuming his post raised himself up and grouped himself then came a great silence all necks remained outstretched all mouths remained open all glances were directed towards the marble table nothing made its appearance there the bailiffs four sergeants were still there stiff motionless as painted statues all eyes turned to the estrade reserved for the Flemish envoys the door remained closed the platform empty this crowd had been waiting since daybreak for three things noon day the embassy from Flanders the mystery play noonday alone had arrived on time on this occasion it was too much they waited one two three five minutes a quarter of an hour nothing came the dais remained empty the theatre dum in the meantime wrath had succeeded to impatience irritated words circulated in a low tone still it is true the mystery the mystery they murmured in hollow voices heads began to ferment a tempest which was only rumbling in the distance as yet was floating on the surface of this crowd it was Jehan du Malan who struck the first spark from it the mystery and to the devil with the flemings he exclaimed at the full force of his lungs twining like a serpent around his pillar the crowd clapped their hands but mystery it repeated and may all the devils take Flanders we must have the mystery instantly resumed the student or else my advice is that we should hang the bailiff of the courts by way of a morality and a comedy well said pride the people and let us begin the hanging with his sergeants a grand acclamations odd the four poor fellows began to turn pale and to exchange glances the crowd hurled itself towards them and they already beheld the frail wooden railing which separated them from it giving way and bending before the pressure of the throng it was a critical moment to the sack to the sack Rose the cry on all sides at that moment the tapestry of the dressing-room which we have described above was raised and afforded passage to a personage the mere sight of whom suddenly stopped the crowd and changed its wrath into curiosity as by enchantment silence silence the personage but little reassured and trembling in every limb advanced to the edge of the marble table with a vast amount of boughs which in proportion as he drew nearer more and more resembled genuflections in the meanwhile tranquility had gradually been restored all that remained was that slight murmur which always rises above the silence of a crowd Monsieur as the bushwah said he and Mademoiselle the bourgeois says we shall have the honour of declaiming and representing before his Eminence Mon cher the Cardinal a very beautiful morality which has for its title the good judgment of Madame the Virgin Mary I am to play Jupiter His Eminence is at this moment escorting the very honourable Embassy of the Duke of Austria which is detained at present singing to the Harang of Mencia the rector of the university at the gate bow day as soon as his illustrious eminence the Cardinal arrives we will begin it is certain that nothing less than the intervention of Jupiter was required to save the four unfortunate sergeants of the bailiff of the courts if we had the happiness of having invented this very voracious tale and of being in consequence responsible for it before our lady criticism it is not against us that the classic precept neck dais inter seat could be invoked moreover the costume of signor Jupiter was very handsome and contributed not a little towards calming the crowd by attracting all its attention jupiter was clad in a coat of mail covered with black velvet with gilt nails and had it not been for the rouge and the huge red beard each of which covered one half of his face had it not been for the role of gilded cardboard spangled and all bristling with strips of tinsel which he held in his hand and in which the eyes of the initiated easily recognized Thunderbolts had not his feet been flesh colored and banded with ribbons in greek fashion he might have borne comparison so far as the severity of his mane was concerned with a breton archer from the guard of Monsur de berry end of chapter 1 you

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