Page:Notes and Queries - Series 12 - Volume 10.djvu/15

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12 S. X. JAN. 7. ] 922.1 NOTES AND QUERIES. timber, but the further erection of wooden dwellings had been forbidden in 1574. Some houses of stone no doubt existed before this time, and one, partly of thirteenth- century date, still stands un- damaged on the north side of the Grande Place. But neither square during the period of the Spanish domination bore the appear- ance that has since become familiar. Both probably presented what M. Drimille calls a " pele-mele des maisons en bois et en pierre," at once irregular and picturesque, without any attempts at order or uniformity. It was not till the time of the French intendant Chauvelin, in 1670, that the alinement of the houses in the squares and in the connecting Rue de la Taillerie was regulated and fixed, thus converting the ' ; pele-mele " into a unified yet artistic whole. These new houses were faced with brick and stone and were of varying design and size, but uniform in style. Some few of the dwellings erected during the Spanish period may have been preserved, and one such, at least, belonging to the first decade of the seventeenth century, still stands in the Rue de la Taillerie. But the majority are or were subsequent to 1670 ; one still standing in the Petite Place is dated 1685. M. Camille Enlart's description of these houses is worth quoting : C'etaient des maisons de briques avec chain- ages et encadrements de pierre blanche, et au rez-de-chaussee un etroit portique de gres, forme d'arcs en anse de panier et de minces colonnes doriques. Les maisons avaient chacune deux etages superieurs et un pignon ondule, compose d'un fronton cintre raccorde a deux grandes consoles renversees. Presque toutes ces maisons gardaient leurs enseignes de pierre, reproduisant celles, bien anterieures, des demeures qu'elles avaienfc remplacees (' Arras avant la-Guerre,' p. 14). M. Enlart, writing in 1916, uses -the past tense, as if everything had been destroyed. But the reality, though bad, is not so bad as that. There are many houses in the Grande Place, especially on the east side, that have survived the war, some damaged, others intact. Too many, however, have disappeared. But all will be rebuilt accord- ing to the old design, and where possible with the old materials. Already the re- construction of the squares is making rapid progress. Regarding the architecture of the Grande and Petite Places, M. Enlart has this to say: De 1493 a 1640 Arras appartint & 1'Espagne, et 1'opinion populaire, qui prend si souvent le change, attribuait a 1'art espagnol 1 'architecture de ses places. En realite, elles etaient presque totalement anterieures ou posterieures a la domination de 1'Espagne : la partie visible des maisons datant de la seconde moitie du XVIIe siecle et leurs caves des Xlle, XHIe, et XI Ve. . . . C'est a 1'art des Pays-Bays qu'il fallait assimiler toutes les pittoresques facades a j pignons des places. Nulle trace dans tout cela d'art espagnol." Yet so persistent is the " tradition " that curious tourists have been known to find evidence of Spanish influence in a malformed semicircular arch in one of the now exposed j cellars of the Petite Place, seeing in it, I no doubt, some supposed resemblance to j the work of the Moors in Spain ! When I once this train of thought is set going it I may lead far. So one is not altogether ' surprised to find in a printed lecture, I published by the National Council of the I Young Men's Christian Associations, this j amazing statement concerning Arras : The visitor with architectural interests will j find much here to hold his attention for a long j time, notably the Moorish Square, &c. At what period the belief in the Spanish i origin of the seventeenth- century buildings in Arras first arose nobody seems to know. Victor Hugo, in 1837, speaks of deux places curieuses a pignons en volutes dans le style flamand-espagnol du temps de Louis XIII., but he may only have been repeating what he had heard. His reference to the time of Louis XIII. is to be remarked. But only three years elapsed between the loss of Arras by Spain and the death of Louis XIII. , and, as we have seen, the houses in the squares are generally some thirty or forty years later in date. Paul Verlaine, whose mother came from Fampoux, a village near Arras, speaks of la ville aux toits follets Poignardant, espagnols, les ciels epars de Flandre Taking this as his text M. Henri Potez, in a little book on Arras belonging to a series called ' Villes meurtries de la France ' (1918), writes : [Verlaine] repetait avec ingenuite ce qu'il avait oui dire. Pour nos peres des ages romantiques tout etait espagnol en Artois et dans les Flandres. C'est qu'a leur appetit^rien n'6tait beau qui ne vtnt de loin, rien ne meritait consideration qui ne d^celat une origine exotique. A leurs yeux, le clair de lune lui-meme 6tait allemand ! This would seem to imply thet, in the opinion of M. Potez, the " Spanish tradition " in Arras dates only from the time of the Romantic movement. It may be so. It may be that this popular belief is a gift