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  • BOOK SIXTH. CHAPTER I.

  • AN IMPARTIAL GLANCE AT THE ANCIENT MAGISTRACY.

  • A very happy personage in the year of grace 1482, was the noble gentleman Robert

  • d'Estouteville, chevalier, Sieur de Beyne, Baron d'Ivry and Saint Andry en la Marche,

  • counsellor and chamberlain to the king, and guard of the provostship of Paris.

  • It was already nearly seventeen years since he had received from the king, on November

  • 7, 1465, the comet year, that fine charge of the provostship of Paris, which was

  • reputed rather a seigneury than an office.

  • Dignitas, says Joannes Loemnoeus, quoe cum non exigua potestate politiam concernente,

  • atque proerogativis multis et juribus conjuncta est.

  • A marvellous thing in '82 was a gentleman bearing the king's commission, and whose

  • letters of institution ran back to the epoch of the marriage of the natural

  • daughter of Louis XI. with Monsieur the Bastard of Bourbon.

  • The same day on which Robert d'Estouteville took the place of Jacques de Villiers in

  • the provostship of Paris, Master Jehan Dauvet replaced Messire Helye de Thorrettes

  • in the first presidency of the Court of

  • Parliament, Jehan Jouvenel des Ursins supplanted Pierre de Morvilliers in the

  • office of chancellor of France, Regnault des Dormans ousted Pierre Puy from the

  • charge of master of requests in ordinary of the king's household.

  • Now, upon how many heads had the presidency, the chancellorship, the

  • mastership passed since Robert d'Estouteville had held the provostship of

  • Paris.

  • It had been "granted to him for safekeeping," as the letters patent said;

  • and certainly he kept it well.

  • He had clung to it, he had incorporated himself with it, he had so identified

  • himself with it that he had escaped that fury for change which possessed Louis XI.,

  • a tormenting and industrious king, whose

  • policy it was to maintain the elasticity of his power by frequent appointments and

  • revocations.

  • More than this; the brave chevalier had obtained the reversion of the office for

  • his son, and for two years already, the name of the noble man Jacques

  • d'Estouteville, equerry, had figured beside

  • his at the head of the register of the salary list of the provostship of Paris.

  • A rare and notable favor indeed!

  • It is true that Robert d'Estouteville was a good soldier, that he had loyally raised

  • his pennon against "the league of public good," and that he had presented to the

  • queen a very marvellous stag in

  • confectionery on the day of her entrance to Paris in 14...

  • Moreover, he possessed the good friendship of Messire Tristan l'Hermite, provost of

  • the marshals of the king's household.

  • Hence a very sweet and pleasant existence was that of Messire Robert.

  • In the first place, very good wages, to which were attached, and from which hung,

  • like extra bunches of grapes on his vine, the revenues of the civil and criminal

  • registries of the provostship, plus the

  • civil and criminal revenues of the tribunals of Embas of the Chatelet, without

  • reckoning some little toll from the bridges of Mantes and of Corbeil, and the profits

  • on the craft of Shagreen-makers of Paris,

  • on the corders of firewood and the measurers of salt.

  • Add to this the pleasure of displaying himself in rides about the city, and of

  • making his fine military costume, which you may still admire sculptured on his tomb in

  • the abbey of Valmont in Normandy, and his

  • morion, all embossed at Montlhery, stand out a contrast against the parti-colored

  • red and tawny robes of the aldermen and police.

  • And then, was it nothing to wield absolute supremacy over the sergeants of the police,

  • the porter and watch of the Chatelet, the two auditors of the Chatelet, auditores

  • castelleti, the sixteen commissioners of

  • the sixteen quarters, the jailer of the Chatelet, the four enfeoffed sergeants, the

  • hundred and twenty mounted sergeants, with maces, the chevalier of the watch with his

  • watch, his sub-watch, his counter-watch and his rear-watch?

  • Was it nothing to exercise high and low justice, the right to interrogate, to hang

  • and to draw, without reckoning petty jurisdiction in the first resort (in prima

  • instantia, as the charters say), on that

  • viscomty of Paris, so nobly appanaged with seven noble bailiwicks?

  • Can anything sweeter be imagined than rendering judgments and decisions, as

  • Messire Robert d'Estouteville daily did in the Grand Chatelet, under the large and

  • flattened arches of Philip Augustus? and

  • going, as he was wont to do every evening, to that charming house situated in the Rue

  • Galilee, in the enclosure of the royal palace, which he held in right of his wife,

  • Madame Ambroise de Lore, to repose after

  • the fatigue of having sent some poor wretch to pass the night in "that little cell of

  • the Rue de Escorcherie, which the provosts and aldermen of Paris used to make their

  • prison; the same being eleven feet long,

  • seven feet and four inches wide, and eleven feet high?"

  • And not only had Messire Robert d'Estouteville his special court as provost

  • and vicomte of Paris; but in addition he had a share, both for eye and tooth, in the

  • grand court of the king.

  • There was no head in the least elevated which had not passed through his hands

  • before it came to the headsman.

  • It was he who went to seek M. de Nemours at the Bastille Saint Antoine, in order to

  • conduct him to the Halles; and to conduct to the Greve M. de Saint-Pol, who clamored

  • and resisted, to the great joy of the

  • provost, who did not love monsieur the constable.

  • Here, assuredly, is more than sufficient to render a life happy and illustrious, and to

  • deserve some day a notable page in that interesting history of the provosts of

  • Paris, where one learns that Oudard de

  • Villeneuve had a house in the Rue des Boucheries, that Guillaume de Hangest

  • purchased the great and the little Savoy, that Guillaume Thiboust gave the nuns of

  • Sainte-Genevieve his houses in the Rue

  • Clopin, that Hugues Aubriot lived in the Hotel du Pore-Epic, and other domestic

  • facts.

  • Nevertheless, with so many reasons for taking life patiently and joyously, Messire

  • Robert d'Estouteville woke up on the morning of the seventh of January, 1482, in

  • a very surly and peevish mood.

  • Whence came this ill temper? He could not have told himself.

  • Was it because the sky was gray? or was the buckle of his old belt of Montlhery badly

  • fastened, so that it confined his provostal portliness too closely? had he beheld

  • ribald fellows, marching in bands of four,

  • beneath his window, and setting him at defiance, in doublets but no shirts, hats

  • without crowns, with wallet and bottle at their side?

  • Was it a vague presentiment of the three hundred and seventy livres, sixteen sous,

  • eight farthings, which the future King Charles VII. was to cut off from the

  • provostship in the following year?

  • The reader can take his choice; we, for our part, are much inclined to believe that he

  • was in a bad humor, simply because he was in a bad humor.

  • Moreover, it was the day after a festival, a tiresome day for every one, and above all

  • for the magistrate who is charged with sweeping away all the filth, properly and

  • figuratively speaking, which a festival day produces in Paris.

  • And then he had to hold a sitting at the Grand Chatelet.

  • Now, we have noticed that judges in general so arrange matters that their day of

  • audience shall also be their day of bad humor, so that they may always have some

  • one upon whom to vent it conveniently, in the name of the king, law, and justice.

  • However, the audience had begun without him.

  • His lieutenants, civil, criminal, and private, were doing his work, according to

  • usage; and from eight o'clock in the morning, some scores of bourgeois and

  • bourgeoises, heaped and crowded into an

  • obscure corner of the audience chamber of Embas du Chatelet, between a stout oaken

  • barrier and the wall, had been gazing blissfully at the varied and cheerful

  • spectacle of civil and criminal justice

  • dispensed by Master Florian Barbedienne, auditor of the Chatelet, lieutenant of

  • monsieur the provost, in a somewhat confused and utterly haphazard manner.

  • The hall was small, low, vaulted.

  • A table studded with fleurs-de-lis stood at one end, with a large arm-chair of carved

  • oak, which belonged to the provost and was empty, and a stool on the left for the

  • auditor, Master Florian.

  • Below sat the clerk of the court, scribbling; opposite was the populace; and

  • in front of the door, and in front of the table were many sergeants of the

  • provostship in sleeveless jackets of violet camlet, with white crosses.

  • Two sergeants of the Parloir-aux-Bourgeois, clothed in their jackets of Toussaint, half

  • red, half blue, were posted as sentinels before a low, closed door, which was

  • visible at the extremity of the hall, behind the table.

  • A single pointed window, narrowly encased in the thick wall, illuminated with a pale

  • ray of January sun two grotesque figures,-- the capricious demon of stone carved as a

  • tail-piece in the keystone of the vaulted

  • ceiling, and the judge seated at the end of the hall on the fleurs-de-lis.

  • Imagine, in fact, at the provost's table, leaning upon his elbows between two bundles

  • of documents of cases, with his foot on the train of his robe of plain brown cloth, his

  • face buried in his hood of white lamb's

  • skin, of which his brows seemed to be of a piece, red, crabbed, winking, bearing

  • majestically the load of fat on his cheeks which met under his chin, Master Florian

  • Barbedienne, auditor of the Chatelet.

  • Now, the auditor was deaf. A slight defect in an auditor.

  • Master Florian delivered judgment, none the less, without appeal and very suitably.

  • It is certainly quite sufficient for a judge to have the air of listening; and the

  • venerable auditor fulfilled this condition, the sole one in justice, all the better

  • because his attention could not be distracted by any noise.

  • Moreover, he had in the audience, a pitiless censor of his deeds and gestures,

  • in the person of our friend Jehan Frollo du Moulin, that little student of yesterday,

  • that "stroller," whom one was sure of

  • encountering all over Paris, anywhere except before the rostrums of the

  • professors.

  • "Stay," he said in a low tone to his companion, Robin Poussepain, who was

  • grinning at his side, while he was making his comments on the scenes which were being

  • unfolded before his eyes, "yonder is Jehanneton du Buisson.

  • The beautiful daughter of the lazy dog at the Marche-Neuf!--Upon my soul, he is

  • condemning her, the old rascal! he has no more eyes than ears.

  • Fifteen sous, four farthings, parisian, for having worn two rosaries!

  • 'Tis somewhat dear. Lex duri carminis.

  • Who's that?

  • Robin Chief-de-Ville, hauberkmaker. For having been passed and received master

  • of the said trade! That's his entrance money.

  • He! two gentlemen among these knaves!

  • Aiglet de Soins, Hutin de Mailly Two equerries, Corpus Christi!

  • Ah! they have been playing at dice. When shall I see our rector here?

  • A hundred livres parisian, fine to the king!

  • That Barbedienne strikes like a deaf man,-- as he is!

  • I'll be my brother the archdeacon, if that keeps me from gaming; gaming by day, gaming

  • by night, living at play, dying at play, and gaming away my soul after my shirt.

  • Holy Virgin, what damsels!

  • One after the other my lambs. Ambroise Lecuyere, Isabeau la Paynette,

  • Berarde Gironin! I know them all, by Heavens!

  • A fine! a fine!

  • That's what will teach you to wear gilded girdles! ten sous parisis! you coquettes!

  • Oh! the old snout of a judge! deaf and imbecile!

  • Oh! Florian the dolt! Oh!

  • Barbedienne the blockhead! There he is at the table!

  • He's eating the plaintiff, he's eating the suits, he eats, he chews, he crams, he

  • fills himself.

  • Fines, lost goods, taxes, expenses, loyal charges, salaries, damages, and interests,

  • gehenna, prison, and jail, and fetters with expenses are Christmas spice cake and

  • marchpanes of Saint-John to him!

  • Look at him, the pig!--Come! Good!

  • Another amorous woman! Thibaud-la-Thibaude, neither more nor less!

  • For having come from the Rue Glatigny!

  • What fellow is this? Gieffroy Mabonne, gendarme bearing the

  • crossbow. He has cursed the name of the Father.

  • A fine for la Thibaude!

  • A fine for Gieffroy! A fine for them both!

  • The deaf old fool! he must have mixed up the two cases!

  • Ten to one that he makes the wench pay for the oath and the gendarme for the amour!

  • Attention, Robin Poussepain! What are they going to bring in?

  • Here are many sergeants!

  • By Jupiter! all the bloodhounds of the pack are there.

  • It must be the great beast of the hunt--a wild boar.

  • And 'tis one, Robin, 'tis one.

  • And a fine one too! Hercle!

  • 'tis our prince of yesterday, our Pope of the Fools, our bellringer, our one-eyed

  • man, our hunchback, our grimace!

  • 'Tis Quasimodo!" It was he indeed.

  • It was Quasimodo, bound, encircled, roped, pinioned, and under good guard.

  • The squad of policemen who surrounded him was assisted by the chevalier of the watch

  • in person, wearing the arms of France embroidered on his breast, and the arms of

  • the city on his back.

  • There was nothing, however, about Quasimodo, except his deformity, which

  • could justify the display of halberds and arquebuses; he was gloomy, silent, and

  • tranquil.

  • Only now and then did his single eye cast a sly and wrathful glance upon the bonds with

  • which he was loaded.

  • He cast the same glance about him, but it was so dull and sleepy that the women only

  • pointed him out to each other in derision.

  • Meanwhile Master Florian, the auditor, turned over attentively the document in the

  • complaint entered against Quasimodo, which the clerk handed him, and, having thus

  • glanced at it, appeared to reflect for a moment.

  • Thanks to this precaution, which he always was careful to take at the moment when on

  • the point of beginning an examination, he knew beforehand the names, titles, and

  • misdeeds of the accused, made cut and dried

  • responses to questions foreseen, and succeeded in extricating himself from all

  • the windings of the interrogation without allowing his deafness to be too apparent.

  • The written charges were to him what the dog is to the blind man.

  • If his deafness did happen to betray him here and there, by some incoherent

  • apostrophe or some unintelligible question, it passed for profundity with some, and for

  • imbecility with others.

  • In neither case did the honor of the magistracy sustain any injury; for it is

  • far better that a judge should be reputed imbecile or profound than deaf.

  • Hence he took great care to conceal his deafness from the eyes of all, and he

  • generally succeeded so well that he had reached the point of deluding himself,

  • which is, by the way, easier than is supposed.

  • All hunchbacks walk with their heads held high, all stutterers harangue, all deaf

  • people speak low.

  • As for him, he believed, at the most, that his ear was a little refractory.

  • It was the sole concession which he made on this point to public opinion, in his

  • moments of frankness and examination of his conscience.

  • Having, then, thoroughly ruminated Quasimodo's affair, he threw back his head

  • and half closed his eyes, for the sake of more majesty and impartiality, so that, at

  • that moment, he was both deaf and blind.

  • A double condition, without which no judge is perfect.

  • It was in this magisterial attitude that he began the examination.

  • "Your