At last we are face to face with the crowning glory of Chartres. Other churches have glass,--quantities of it, and very fine,--but we have been trying to catch a glimpse of the glory which stands behind the glass of Chartres, and gives it quality and feeling of its own. For once the architect is useless and his explanations are pitiable; the painter helps still less; and the decorator, unless he works in glass, is the poorest guide of all, while, if he works in glass, he is sure to lead wrong; and all of them may toil until Pierre Mauclerc's stone Christ comes to life, and condemns them among the unpardonable sinners on the southern portal, but neither they nor any other artist will ever create another Chartres. You had better stop here, once for all, unless you are willing to feel that Chartres was made what it is, not by artist, but by the Virgin. If this imperial presence is stamped on the architecture and the sculpture with an energy not to be mistaken, it radiates through the glass with a light and colour that actually blind the true servant of Mary. One becomes, sometimes, a little incoherent in talking about it; one is ashamed to be as extravagant as one wants to be; one has no business to labour painfully to explain and prove to one's self what is as clear as the sun in the sky; one loses temper in reasoning about what can only be felt, and what ought to be felt instantly, as it was in the twelfth century, even by the truie qui file and the ane qui vielle. Any one should feel it that wishes; any one who does not wish to feel it can let it alone. Still, it may be that not one tourist in a hundred--perhaps not one in a thousand of the English-speaking race--does feel it, or can feel it even when explained to him, for we have lost many senses. Therefore, let us plod on, laboriously proving God, although, even to Saint Bernard and Pascal, God was incapable of proof; and using such material as the books furnish for help. It is not much. The French have been shockingly negligent of their greatest artistic glory. One knows not even where to seek. One must go to the National Library and beg as a special favour permission to look at the monumental work of M. Lasteyrie, if one wishes to make even a beginning of the study of French glass. Fortunately there exists a fragment of a great work which the Government began, but never completed, upon Chartres; and another, quite indispensable, but not official, upon Bourges; while Viollet-le-Duc's article "Vitrail" serves as guide to the whole. Ottin's book "Le Vitrail" is convenient. Male's volume "L'Art Religieux" is essential. In English, Westlake's "History of Design" is helpful. Perhaps, after reading all that is readable, the best hope will be to provide the best glasses with the largest possible field; and, choosing an hour when the church is empty, take seat about halfway up the nave, facing toward the western entrance with a morning light, so that the glass of the western windows shall not stand in direct sun. The glass of the three lancets is the oldest in the cathedral. If the portal beneath it, with the sculpture, was built in the twenty or thirty years before 1150, the glass could not be much later. It goes with the Abbe Suger's glass at Saint-Denis, which was surely made as early as 1140-50, since the Abbe was a long time at work on it, before he died in 1152. Their perfection proves, what his biographer asserted, that the Abbe Suger spent many years as well as much money on his windows at Saint-Denis, and the specialists affirm that the three lancets at Chartres are quite as good as what remains of Suger's work. Viollet-le-Duc and M. Paul Durand, the Government expert, are positive that this glass is the finest ever made, as far as record exists; and that the northern lancet representing the Tree of Jesse stands at the head of all glasswork whatever. The windows claim, therefore, to be the most splendid colour decoration the world ever saw, since no other material, neither silk nor gold, and no opaque colour laid on with a brush, can compare with translucent glass, and even the Ravenna mosaics or Chinese porcelains are darkness beside them. The claim may not be modest, but it is none of ours. Viollet-le-Duc must answer for his own sins, and he chose the lancet window of the Tree of Jesse for the subject of his lecture on glass in general, as the most complete and perfect example of this greatest decorative art. Once more, in following him, one is dragged, in spite of one's self, into technique, and, what is worse, into a colour world whose technique was forgotten five hundred years ago. Viollet-le-Duc tried to recover it. "After studying our best French windows," he cautiously suggests that "one might maintain," as their secret of harmony, that "the first condition for an artist in glass is to know how to manage blue. The blue is the light in windows, and light has value only by opposition." The radiating power of blue is, therefore, the starting-point, and on this matter Viollet-le-Duc has much to say which a student would need to master; but a tourist never should study, or he ceases to be a tourist; and it is enough for us if we know that, to get the value they wanted, the artists hatched their blues with lines, covered their surface with figures as though with screens, and tied their blue within its own field with narrow circlets of white or yellow, which, in their turn, were beaded to fasten the blue still more firmly in its place. We have chiefly to remember the law that blue is light:-- But also it is that luminous colour which gives value to all others. If you compose a window in which there shall be no blue, you will get a dirty or dull (blafard) or crude surface which the eye will instantly avoid; but if you put a few touches of blue among all these tones, you will immediately get striking effects if not skilfully conceived harmony. So the composition of blue glass singularly preoccupied the glassworkers of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. If there is only one red, two yellows, two or three purples, and two or three greens at the most, there are infinite shades of blue, ... and these blues are placed with a very delicate observation of the effects they should produce on other tones, and other tones on them. Viollet-le-Duc took the window of the Tree of Jesse as his first illustration of the rule, for the reason that its blue ground is one continuous strip from top to bottom, with the subordinate red on either side, and a border uniting the whole so plainly that no one can fail to see its object or its method. The blue tone of the principal subject [that is to say, the ground of the Tree of Jesse] has commanded the tonality of all the rest. This medium was necessary to enable the luminous splendour to display its energy. This primary condition had dictated the red ground for the prophets, and the return to the blue on reaching the outside semicircular band. To give full value both to the vigour of the red, and to the radiating transparency of the blue, the ground of the corners is put in emerald green; but then, in the corners themselves, the blue is recalled and is given an additional solidity of value by the delicate ornamentation of the squares. This translation is very free, but one who wants to know these windows must read the whole article, and read it here in the church, the Dictionary in one hand, and binocle in the other, for the binocle is more important than the Dictionary when it reaches the complicated border which repeats in detail the colour-scheme of the centre:-- The border repeats all the tones allotted to the principal subjects, but by small fragments, so that this border, with an effect both solid and powerful, shall not enter into rivalry with the large arrangements of the central parts. One would think this simple enough; easily tested on any illuminated manuscript, Arab, Persian, or Byzantine; verified by any Oriental rug, old or new; freely illustrated by any Chinese pattern on a Ming jar, or cloisonne vase; and offering a kind of alphabet for the shop-window of a Paris modiste. A strong red; a strong and a weak yellow; a strong and a weak purple; a strong and a weak green, are all to be tied together, given their values, and held in their places by blue. The thing seems simpler still when it appears that perspective is forbidden, and that these glass windows of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, like Oriental rugs, imply a flat surface, a wall which must not be treated as open. The twelfth- century glassworker would sooner have worn a landscape on his back than have costumed his church with it; he would as soon have decorated his floors with painted holes as his walls. He wanted to keep the coloured window flat, like a rug hung on the wall. The radiation of translucent colours in windows cannot be modified by the artist; all his talent consists in profiting by it, according to a given harmonic scheme on a single plane, like a rug, but not according to an effect of aerial perspective. Do what you like, a glass window never does and never can represent anything but a plane surface; its real virtues even exist only on that condition. Every attempt to present several planes to the eye is fatal to the harmony of colour, without producing any illusion in the spectator ... Translucid painting can propose as its object only a design supporting as energetically as possible a harmony of colours. Whether this law is absolute you can tell best by looking at modern glass which is mostly perspective; but, whether you like it or not, the matter of perspective does not enter into a twelfth-century window more than into a Japanese picture, and may be ignored. The decoration of the twelfth century, as far as concerns us, was intended only for one plane, and a window was another form of rug or embroidery or mosaic, hung on the wall for colour,--simple decoration to be seen as a whole. If the Tree of Jesse teaches anything at all, it is that the artist thought first of controlling his light, but he wanted to do it not in order to dim the colours; on the contrary, he toiled, like a jeweller setting diamonds and rubies, to increase their splendour. If his use of blue teaches this lesson, his use of green proves it. The outside border of the Tree of Jesse is a sort of sample which our schoolmaster Viollet-le-Duc sets, from which he requires us to study out the scheme, beginning with the treatment of light, and ending with the value of the emerald green ground in the corners. Complicated as the border of the Tree of Jesse is, it has its mates in the borders of the two other twelfth-century windows, and a few of the thirteenth-century in the side aisles; but the southern of the three lancets shows how the artists dealt with a difficulty that upset their rule. The border of the southern window does not count as it should; something is wrong with it and a little study shows that the builder, and not the glassworker, was to blame. Owing to his miscalculation--if it was really a miscalculation--in the width of the southern tower, the builder economized six or eight inches in the southern door and lancet, which was enough to destroy the balance between the colour-values, as masses, of the south and north windows. The artist was obliged to choose whether he would sacrifice the centre or the border of his southern window, and decided that the windows could not be made to balance if he narrowed the centre, but that he must balance them by enriching the centre, and sacrificing the border. He has filled the centre with medallions as rich as he could make them, and these he has surrounded with borders, which are also enriched to the utmost; but these medallions with their borders spread across the whole window, and when you search with the binocle for the outside border, you see its pattern clearly only at the top and bottom. On the sides, at intervals of about two feet, the medallions cover and interrupt it; but this is partly corrected by making the border, where it is seen, so rich as to surpass any other in the cathedral, even that of the Tree of Jesse. Whether the artist has succeeded or not is a question for other artists--or for you, if you please--to decide; but apparently he did succeed, since no one has ever noticed the difficulty or the device. The southern lancet represents the Passion of Christ. Granting to Viollet-le-Duc that the unbroken vertical colour-scheme of the Tree of Jesse made the more effective window, one might still ask whether the medallion-scheme is not the more interesting. Once past the workshop, there can be no question about it; the Tree of Jesse has the least interest of all the three windows. A genealogical tree has little value, artistic or other, except to those who belong in its branches, and the Tree of Jesse was put there, not to please us, but to please the Virgin. The Passion window was also put there to please her, but it tells a story, and does it in a way that has more novelty than the subject. The draughtsman who chalked out the design on the whitened table that served for his sketch-board was either a Greek, or had before him a Byzantine missal, or enamel or ivory. The first medallion on these legendary windows is the lower left-hand one, which begins the story or legend; here it represents Christ after the manner of the Greek Church. In the next medallion is the Last Supper; the fish on the dish is Greek. In the middle of the window, with the help of the binocle, you will see a Crucifixion, or even two, for on the left is Christ on the Cross, and on the right a Descent from the Cross; in this is the figure of man pulling out with pincers the nails which fasten Christ's feet; a figure unknown to Western religious art. The Noli Me Tangere, on the right, near the top, has a sort of Greek character. All the critics, especially M. Paul Durand, have noticed this Byzantine look, which is even more marked in the Suger window at Saint-Denis, so as to suggest that both are by the same hand, and that the hand of a Greek. If the artist was really a Greek, he has done work more beautiful than any left at Byzantium, and very far finer than anything in the beautiful work at Cairo, but although the figures and subjects are more or less Greek, like the sculptures on the portal, the art seems to be French. Look at the central window! Naturally, there sits the Virgin, with her genealogical tree on her left, and her Son's testimony on her right to prove her double divinity. She is seated in the long halo; as, on the western portal, directly beneath her, her Son is represented in stone, Her crown and head, as well as that of the Child, are fourteenth-century restorations more or less like the original; but her cushioned throne and her robes of imperial state, as well as the flowered sceptre in either hand, are as old as the sculpture of the portal, and redolent of the first crusade. On either side of her, the Sun and the Moon offer praise; her two Archangels, Michael and Gabriel, with resplendent wings, offer not incense as in later times, but the two sceptres of spiritual and temporal power; while the Child in her lap repeats His Mother's action and even her features and expression. At first sight, one would take for granted that all this was pure Byzantium, and perhaps it is; but it has rather the look of Byzantium gallicized, and carried up to a poetic French ideal. At Saint-Denis the little figure of the Abbe Suger at the feet of the Virgin has a very Oriental look, and in the twin medallion the Virgin resembles greatly the Virgin of Chartres, yet, for us, until some specialist shows us the Byzantine original, the work is as thoroughly French as the fleches of the churches. Byzantine art is altogether another chapter, and, if we could but take a season to study it in Byzantium, we might get great amusement; but the art of Chartres, even in 1100, was French and perfectly French, as the architecture shows, and the glass is even more French than the architecture, as you can detect in many other ways. Perhaps the surest evidence is the glass itself. The men who made it were not professionals but amateurs, who may have had some knowledge of enamelling, but who worked like jewellers, unused to glass, and with the refinement that a reliquary or a crozier required. The cost of these windows must have been extravagant; one is almost surprised that they are not set in gold rather than in lead. The Abbe Suger shirked neither trouble nor expense, and the only serious piece of evidence that this artist was a Greek is given by his biographer who unconsciously shows that the artist cheated him: "He sought carefully for makers of windows and workmen in glass of exquisite quality, especially in that made of sapphires in great abundance that were pulverized and melted up in the glass to give it the blue colour which he delighted to admire." The "materia saphirorum" was evidently something precious,--as precious as crude sapphires would have been,--and the words imply beyond question that the artist asked for sapphires and that Suger paid for them; yet all specialists agree that the stone known as sapphire, if ground, could not produce translucent colour at all. The blue which Suger loved, and which is probably the same as that of these Chartres windows, cannot be made out of sapphires. Probably the "materia saphirorum" means cobalt only, but whatever it was, the glassmakers seem to agree that this glass of 1140-50 is the best ever made. M. Paul Durand in his official report of 1881 said that these windows, both artistically and mechanically, were of the highest class: "I will also call attention to the fact that the glass and the execution of the painting are, materially speaking, of a quality much superior to windows of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Having passed several months in contact with these precious works when I copied them, I was able to convince myself of their superiority in every particular, especially in the upper parts of the three windows." He said that they were perfect and irreproachable. The true enthusiast in glass would in the depths of his heart like to say outright that these three windows are worth more than all that the French have since done in colour, from that day to this; but the matter concerns us chiefly because it shows how French the experiment was, and how Suger's taste and wealth made it possible. Certain it is, too, that the southern window--the Passion--was made on the spot, or near by, and fitted for the particular space with care proportionate to its cost. All are marked by the hand of the Chartres Virgin. They are executed not merely for her, but by her. At Saint-Denis the Abbe Suger appeared,--it is true that he was prostrate at her feet, but still he appeared. At Chartres no one--no suggestion of a human agency--was allowed to appear; the Virgin permitted no one to approach her, even to adore. She is enthroned above, as Queen and Empress and Mother, with the symbols of exclusive and universal power. Below her, she permitted the world to see the glories of her earthly life;--the Annunciation, Visitation, and Nativity; the Magi; King Herod; the Journey to Egypt; and the single medallion, which shows the gods of Egypt falling from their pedestals at her coming, is more entertaining than a whole picture- gallery of oil paintings. In all France there exist barely a dozen good specimens of twelfth- century glass. Besides these windows at Chartres and the fragments at Saint-Denis, there are windows at Le Mans and Angers and bits at Vendome, Chalons, Poitiers, Rheims, and Bourges; here and there one happens on other pieces, but the earliest is the best, because the glass-makers were new at the work and spent on it an infinite amount of trouble and money which they found to be unnecessary as they gained experience. Even in 1200 the value of these windows was so well understood, relatively to new ones, that they were preserved with the greatest care. The effort to make such windows was never repeated. Their jewelled perfection did not suit the scale of the vast churches of the thirteenth century. By turning your head toward the windows of the side aisles, you can see the criticism which the later artists passed on the old work. They found it too refined, too brilliant, too jewel-like for the size of the new cathedral; the play of light and colour allowed the eye too little repose; indeed, the eye could not see their whole beauty, and half their value was thrown away in this huge stone setting. At best they must have seemed astray on the bleak, cold, windy plain of Beauce,--homesick for Palestine or Cairo,--yearning for Monreale or Venice,--but this is not our affair, and, under the protection of the Empress Virgin, Saint Bernard himself could have afforded to sin even to drunkenness of colour. With trifling expense of imagination one can still catch a glimpse of the crusades in the glory of the glass. The longer one looks into it, the more overpowering it becomes, until one begins almost to feel an echo of what our two hundred and fifty million arithmetical ancestors, drunk with the passion of youth and the splendour of the Virgin, have been calling to us from Mont-Saint- Michel and Chartres. No words and no wine could revive their emotions so vividly as they glow in the purity of the colours; the limpidity of the blues; the depth of the red; the intensity of the green; the complicated harmonies; the sparkle and splendour of the light; and the quiet and certain strength of the mass. With too strong direct sun the windows are said to suffer, and become a cluster of jewels--a delirium of coloured light. The lines, too, have different degrees of merit. These criticisms seldom strike a chance traveller, but he invariably makes the discovery that the designs within the medallions are childish. He may easily correct them, if he likes, and see what would happen to the window; but although this is the alphabet of art, and we are past spelling words of one syllable, the criticism teaches at least one lesson. Primitive man seems to have had a natural colour-sense, instinctive like the scent of a dog. Society has no right to feel it as a moral reproach to be told that it has reached an age when it can no longer depend, as in childhood, on its taste, or smell, or sight, or hearing, or memory; the fact seems likely enough, and in no way sinful; yet society always denies it, and is invariably angry about it; and, therefore, one had better not say it. On the other hand, we can leave Delacroix and his school to fight out the battle they began against Ingres and his school, in French art, nearly a hundred years ago, which turned in substance on the same point. Ingres held that the first motive in colour-decoration was line, and that a picture which was well drawn was well enough coloured. Society seemed, on the whole, to agree with him. Society in the twelfth century agreed with Delacroix. The French held then that the first point in colour-decoration was colour, and they never hesitated to put their colour where they wanted it, or cared whether a green camel or a pink lion looked like a dog or a donkey provided they got their harmony or value. Everything except colour was sacrificed to line in the large sense, but details of drawing were conventional and subordinate. So we laugh to see a knight with a blue face, on a green horse, that looks as though drawn by a four-year-old child, and probably the artist laughed, too; but he was a colourist, and never sacrificed his colour for a laugh. We tourists assume commonly that he knew no better. In our simple faith in ourselves, great hope abides, for it shows an earnestness hardly less than that of the crusaders; but in the matter of colour one is perhaps less convinced, or more open to curiosity. No school of colour exists in our world to-day, while the Middle Ages had a dozen; but it is certainly true that these twelfth-century windows break the French tradition. They had no antecedent, and no fit succession. All the authorities dwell on their exceptional character. One is sorely tempted to suspect that they were in some way an accident; that such an art could not have sprung, in such perfection, out of nothing, had it been really French; that it must have had its home elsewhere--on the Rhine--in Italy--in Byzantium-- or in Bagdad. The same controversy has raged for near two hundred years over the Gothic arch, and everything else mediaeval, down to the philosophy of the schools. The generation that lived during the first and second crusades tried a number of original experiments, besides capturing Jerusalem. Among other things, it produced the western portal of Chartres, with its statuary, its glass, and its fleche, as a by-play; as it produced Abelard, Saint Bernard, and Christian of Troyes, whose acquaintance we have still to make. It took ideas wherever it found them;--from Germany, Italy, Spain, Constantinople, Palestine, or from the source which has always attracted the French mind like a magnet--from ancient Greece. That it actually did take the ideas, no one disputes, except perhaps patriots who hold that even the ideas were original; but to most students the ideas need to be accounted for less than the taste with which they were handled, and the quickness with which they were developed. That the taste was French, you can see in the architecture, or you will see if ever you meet the Gothic elsewhere; that it seized and developed an idea quickly, you have seen in the arch, the fleche, the porch, and the windows, as well as in the glass; but what we do not comprehend, and never shall, is the appetite behind all this; the greed for novelty: the fun of life. Every one who has lived since the sixteenth century has felt deep distrust of every one who lived before it, and of every one who believed in the Middle Ages. True it is that the last thirteenth-century artist died a long time before our planet began its present rate of revolution; it had to come to rest, and begin again; but this does not prevent astonishment that the twelfth- century planet revolved so fast. The pointed arch not only came as an idea into France, but it was developed into a system of architecture and covered the country with buildings on a scale of height never before attempted except by the dome, with an expenditure of wealth that would make a railway system look cheap, all in a space of about fifty years; the glass came with it, and went with it, at least as far as concerns us; but, if you need other evidence, you can consult Renan, who is the highest authority: "One of the most singular phenomena of the literary history of the Middle Ages," says Renan of Averroes, "is the activity of the intellectual commerce, and the rapidity with which books were spread from one end of Europe to the other. The philosophy of Abelard during his lifetime (1100-42) had penetrated to the ends of Italy. The French poetry of the trouveres counted within less than a century translations into German, Swedish, Norwegian, Icelandic, Flemish, Dutch, Bohemian, Italian, Spanish"; and he might have added that England needed no translation, but helped to compose the poetry, not being at that time so insular as she afterwards became. "Such or such a work, composed in Morocco or in Cairo, was known at Paris and at Cologne in less time than it would need in our days for a German book of capital importance to pass the Rhine"; and Renan wrote this in 1852 when German books of capital importance were revolutionizing the literary world. One is apt to forget the smallness of Europe, and how quickly it could always be crossed. In summer weather, with fair winds, one can sail from Alexandria or from Syria, to Sicily, or even to Spain and France, in perfect safety and with ample room for freight, as easily now as one could do it then, without the aid of steam; but one does not now carry freight of philosophy, poetry, or art. The world still struggles for unity, but by different methods, weapons, and thought. The mercantile exchanges which surprised Renan, and which have puzzled historians, were in ideas. The twelfth century was as greedy for them in one shape as the nineteenth century in another. France paid for them dearly, and repented for centuries; but what creates surprise to the point of incredulity is her hunger for them, the youthful gluttony with which she devoured them, the infallible taste with which she dressed them out. The restless appetite that snatched at the pointed arch, the stone fleche, the coloured glass, the illuminated missal, the chanson and roman and pastorelle, the fragments of Aristotle, the glosses of Avicenne, was nothing compared with the genius which instantly gave form and flower to them all. This episode merely means that the French twelfth-century artist may be supposed to have known his business, and if he produced a grotesque, or a green-faced Saint, or a blue castle, or a syllogism, or a song, that he did it with a notion of the effect he had in mind. The glass window was to him a whole,--a mass,--and its details were his amusement; for the twelfth-century Frenchman enjoyed his fun, though it was sometimes rather heavy for modern French taste, and less refined than the Church liked. These three twelfth-century windows, like their contemporary portal outside, and the fleche that goes with them, are the ideals of enthusiasts of mediaeval art; they are above the level of all known art, in religious form; they are inspired; they are divine! This is the claim of Chartres and its Virgin. Actually, the French artist, whether architect, sculptor, or painter in glass, did rise here above his usual level. He knew it when he did it, and probably he attributed it, as we do, to the Virgin; for these works of his were hardly fifty years old when the rest of the old church was burned; and already the artist felt the virtue gone out of him. He could not do so well in 1200 as he did in 1150; and the Virgin was not so near. The proof of it--or, if you prefer to think so, the proof against it--is before our eyes on the wall above the lancet windows. When Villard de Honnecourt came to Chartres, he seized at once on the western rose as his study, although the two other roses were probably there, in all their beauty and lightness. He saw in the western rose some quality of construction which interested him; and, in fact, the western rose is one of the flowers of architecture which reveals its beauties slowly without end; but its chief beauty is the feeling which unites it with the portal, the lancets, and the fleche. The glassworker here in the interior had the same task to perform. The glass of the lancets was fifty years old when the glass for the rose was planned; perhaps it was seventy, for the exact dates are unknown, but it does not matter, for the greater the interval, the more interesting is the treatment. Whatever the date, the glass of the western rose cannot be much earlier or much later than that of the other roses, or that of the choir, and yet you see at a glance that it is quite differently treated. On such matters one must, of course, submit to the opinion of artists, which one does the more readily because they always disagree; but until the artists tell us better, we may please ourselves by fancying that the glass of the rose was intended to harmonize with that of the lancets, and unite it with the thirteenth-century glass of the nave and transepts. Among all the thirteenth-century windows the western rose alone seems to affect a rivalry in brilliancy with the lancets, and carries it so far that the separate medallions and pictures are quite lost,--especially in direct sunshine,--blending in a confused effect of opals, in a delirium of colour and light, with a result like a cluster of stones in jewelry. Assuming as one must, in want of the artist's instruction, that he knew what he wanted to do, and did it, one must take for granted that he treated the rose as a whole, and aimed at giving it harmony with the three precious windows beneath. The effect is that of a single large ornament; a round breastpin, or what is now called a sunburst, of jewels, with three large pendants beneath. We are ignorant tourists, liable to much error in trying to seek motives in artists who worked seven hundred years ago for a society which thought and felt in forms quite unlike ours, but the medieval pilgrim was more ignorant than we, and much simpler in mind; if the idea of an ornament occurs to us, it certainly occurred to him, and still more to the glassworker whose business was to excite his illusions. An artist, if good for anything, foresees what his public will see; and what his public will see is what he ought to have intended--the measure of his genius. If the public sees more than he himself did, this is his credit; if less, this is his fault. No matter how simple or ignorant we are, we ought to feel a discord or a harmony where the artist meant us to feel it, and when we see a motive, we conclude that other people have seen it before us, and that it must, therefore, have been intended. Neither of the transept roses is treated like this one; neither has the effect of a personal ornament; neither is treated as a jewel. No one knew so well as the artist that such treatment must give the effect of a jewel. The Roses of France and of Dreux bear indelibly and flagrantly the character of France and Dreux; on the western rose is stamped with greater refinement but equal decision the character of a much greater power than either of them. No artist would have ventured to put up, before the eyes of Mary in Majesty, above the windows so dear to her, any object that she had not herself commanded. Whether a miracle was necessary, or whether genius was enough, is a point of casuistry which you can settle with Albertus Magnus or Saint Bernard, and which you will understand as little when settled as before; but for us, beyond the futilities of unnecessary doubt, the Virgin designed this rose; not perhaps in quite the same perfect spirit in which she designed the lancets, but still wholly for her own pleasure and as her own idea. She placed upon the breast of her Church--which symbolized herself--a jewel so gorgeous that no earthly majesty could bear comparison with it, and which no other heavenly majesty has rivalled. As one watches the light play on it, one is still overcome by the glories of the jewelled rose and its three gemmed pendants; one feels a little of the effect she meant it to produce even on infidels, Moors, and heretics, but infinitely more on the men who feared and the women who adored her;--not to dwell too long upon it, one admits that hers is the only Church. One would admit anything that she should require. If you had only the soul of a shrimp, you would crawl, like the Abbe Suger, to kiss her feet. Unfortunately she is gone, or comes here now so very rarely that we never shall see her; but her genius remains as individual here as the genius of Blanche of Castile and Pierre de Dreux in the transepts. That the three lancets were her own taste, as distinctly as the Trianon was the taste of Louis XIV, is self-evident. They represent all that was dearest to her; her Son's glory on her right; her own beautiful life in the middle; her royal ancestry on her left: the story of her divine right, thrice-told. The pictures are all personal, like family portraits. Above them the man who worked in 1200 to carry out the harmony, and to satisfy the Virgin's wishes, has filled his rose with a dozen or two little compositions in glass, which reveal their subjects only to the best powers of a binocle. Looking carefully, one discovers at last that this gorgeous combination of all the hues of Paradise contains or hides a Last Judgment--the one subject carefully excluded from the old work, and probably not existing on the south portal for another twenty years. If the scheme of the western rose dates from 1200, as is reasonable to suppose, this Last Judgment is the oldest in the church, and makes a link between the theology of the first crusade, beneath, and the theology of Pierre Mauclerc in the south porch. The churchman is the only true and final judge on his own doctrine, and we neither know nor care to know the facts; but we are as good judges as he of the feeling, and we are at full liberty to feel that such a Last Judgment as this was never seen before or since by churchman or heretic, unless by virtue of the heresy which held that the true Christian must be happy in being damned since such is the will of God. That this blaze of heavenly light was intended, either by the Virgin or by her workmen, to convey ideas of terror or pain, is a notion which the Church might possibly preach, but which we sinners knew to be false in the thirteenth century as well as we know it now. Never in all these seven hundred years has one of us looked up at this rose without feeling it to be Our Lady's promise of Paradise. Here as everywhere else throughout the church, one feels the Virgin's presence, with no other thought than her majesty and grace. To the Virgin and to her suppliants, as to us, who though outcasts in other churches can still hope in hers, the Last Judgment was not a symbol of God's justice or man's corruption, but of her own infinite mercy. The Trinity judged, through Christ;--Christ loved and pardoned, through her. She wielded the last and highest power on earth and in hell. In the glow and beauty of her nature, the light of her Son's infinite love shone as the sunlight through the glass, turning the Last Judgment itself into the highest proof of her divine and supreme authority. The rudest ruffian of the Middle Ages, when he looked at this Last Judgment, laughed; for what was the Last Judgment to her! An ornament, a plaything, a pleasure! a jewelled decoration which she wore on her breast! Her chief joy was to pardon; her eternal instinct was to love; her deepest passion was pity! On her imperial heart the flames of hell showed only the opaline colours of heaven. Christ the Trinity might judge as much as He pleased, but Christ the Mother would rescue; and her servants could look boldly into the flames. If you, or even our friends the priests who still serve Mary's shrine, suspect that there is some exaggeration in this language, it will only oblige you to admit presently that there is none; but for the moment we are busy with glass rather than with faith, and there is a world of glass here still to study. Technically, we are done with it. The technique of the thirteenth century comes naturally and only too easily out of that of the twelfth. Artistically, the motive remains the same, since it is always the Virgin; but although the Virgin of Chartres is always the Virgin of Majesty, there are degrees in the assertion of her majesty even here, which affect the art, and qualify its feeling. Before stepping down to the thirteenth century, one should look at these changes of the Virgin's royal presence. First and most important as record is the stone Virgin on the south door of the western portal, which we studied, with her Byzantine Court; and the second, also in stone, is of the same period, on one of the carved capitals of the portal, representing the Adoration of the Magi. The third is the glass Virgin at the top of the central lancet. All three are undoubted twelfth-century work; and you can see another at Paris, on the same door of Notre Dame, and still more on Abbe Suger's window at Saint-Denis, and, later, within a beautiful grisaille at Auxerre; but all represent the same figure; a Queen, enthroned, crowned, with the symbols of royal power, holding in her lap the infant King whose guardian she is. Without pretending to know what special crown she bears, we can assume, till corrected, that it is the Carlovingian imperial, not the Byzantine. The Trinity nowhere appears except as implied in the Christ. At the utmost, a mystic hand may symbolize the Father. The Virgin as represented by the artists of the twelfth century in the Ile de France and at Chartres seems to be wholly French in spite of the Greek atmosphere of her workmanship. One might almost insist that she is blonde, full in face, large in figure, dazzlingly beautiful, and not more than thirty years of age. The Child never seems to be more than five. You are equally free to see a Southern or Eastern type in her face, and perhaps the glass suggests a dark type, but the face of the Virgin on the central lancet is a fourteenth-century restoration which may or may not reproduce the original, while all the other Virgins represented in glass, except one, belong to the thirteenth century. The possible exception is a well-known figure called Notre- Dame-de-la-Belle-Verriere in the choir next the south transept. A strange, almost uncanny feeling seems to haunt this window, heightened by the veneration in which it was long held as a shrine, though it is now deserted for Notre-Dame-du-Pilier on the opposite side of the choir. The charm is partly due to the beauty of the scheme of the angels, supporting, saluting, and incensing the Virgin and Child with singular grace and exquisite feeling, but rather that of the thirteenth than of the twelfth century. Here, too, the face of the Virgin is not ancient. Apparently the original glass was injured by time or accident, and the colours were covered or renewed by a simple drawing in oil. Elsewhere the colour is thought to be particularly good, and the window is a favourite mine of motives for artists to exploit, but to us its chief interest is its singular depth of feeling. The Empress Mother sits full-face, on a rich throne and dais, with the Child on her lap, repeating her attitude except that her hands support His shoulders. She wears her crown; her feet rest on a stool, and both stool, rug, robe, and throne are as rich as colour and decoration can make them. At last a dove appears, with the rays of the Holy Ghost. Imperial as the Virgin is, it is no longer quite the unlimited empire of the western lancet. The aureole encircles her head only; she holds no sceptre; the Holy Ghost seems to give her support which she did not need before, while Saint Gabriel and Saint Michael, her archangels, with their symbols of power, have disappeared. Exquisite as the angels are who surround and bear up her throne, they assert no authority. The window itself is not a single composition; the panels below seem inserted later merely to fill up the space; six represent the Marriage of Cana, and the three at the bottom show a grotesque little demon tempting Christ in the Desert. The effect of the whole, in this angle which is almost always dark or filled with shadow, is deep and sad, as though the Empress felt her authority fail, and had come down from the western portal to reproach us for neglect. The face is haunting. Perhaps its force may be due to nearness, for this is the only instance in glass of her descending so low that we can almost touch her, and see what the twelfth century instinctively felt in the features which, even in their beatitude, were serious and almost sad under the austere responsibilities of infinite pity and power. No doubt the window is very old, or perhaps an imitation or reproduction of one which was much older, but to the pilgrim its interest lies mostly in its personality, and there it stands alone. Although the Virgin reappears again and again in the lower windows,- -as in those on either side of the Belle-Verriere; in the remnant of window representing her miracles at Chartres, in the south aisle next the transept; in the fifteenth-century window of the chapel of Vendome which follows; and in the third window which follows that of Vendome and represents her coronation,--she does not show herself again in all her majesty till we look up to the high windows above. There we shall find her in her splendour on her throne, above the high altar, and still more conspicuously in the Rose of France in the north transept. Still again she is enthroned in the first window of the choir next the north transept. Elsewhere we can see her standing, but never does she come down to us in the full splendour of her presence. Yet wherever we find her at Chartres, and of whatever period, she is always Queen. Her expression and attitude are always calm and commanding. She never calls for sympathy by hysterical appeals to our feelings; she does not even altogether command, but rather accepts the voluntary, unquestioning, unhesitating, instinctive faith, love, and devotion of mankind. She will accept ours, and we have not the heart to refuse it; we have not even the right, for we are her guests.
CHAPTER VIIITHE TWELFTH-CENTURY GLASS