More interesting than these facts, perhaps, to most travellers, is the delightful scenery of the Morvan, and the beauty of its white oxen, a race apart. We find these gentle, majestic creatures everywhere tenderly cared for, as perhaps no other animals are in France, and lending wonderful picturesqueness and charm to every landscape.
Arrived at our destination, the ancient capital and stronghold of the Celtic Morvan, the whole country lies at our feet as a map sunny pasture and cornland, glen and dale, mountain stream, tumbling river and glittering cascade, alternating with sterner and grander features dark forests covering vast spaces, rugged peaks towering aloft, wild sweeps of heather-covered moorland.
The surrender of the Muse of Le Berry, of the Nivernais, and of Morvan was the cause of a perfect hue and cry of slander, evil report, and various guesses in which the story of the muslin gown held a prominent place.
Hamerton in Autun, but knowing that he was President Honoraire du Cercle National, a Liberal institution patronized by the Sous-Prefet and Republican Deputies, M. Tremplier thought it would be a master-stroke to defame his character by accusing him of being the author of some anonymous articles against the clergy which had appeared in "La Republique du Morvan."
Yes, the women of Le Morvan are lovely, ardent, and tender-hearted as the dove, especially those who dwell within the forest districts; for nothing contributes so much to bring forth the loving principle of the affections as the silent melancholy of the umbrageous woods, and the soft and perfumed breezes that pervade them.
In the homes of the Morvan and in Burgundy the least illness or the slightest agitation of the nerves is an excuse for boiled wine. Before and after childbirth the women take it with the addition of burnt sugar. Boiled wine has soaked up the property of many a peasant, and more than once the seductive liquid has been the cause of marital chastisement.
Such a mass of silent, awful testimony perhaps never was produced to substantiate the allegation of similar villany against any man; and atrocities like these, of the early and middle ages, have given their character to the legends of Le Morvan, which, still carefully related from one generation to another, are so impressed on the minds of the people, that the honest peasant of the present day would rather make a circuit of a dozen or twenty miles, than pass in the deepening twilight near the scenes to which they relate.
Is it peace, or is it war?" "This stranger," answered Morvan, with a smile, "is an envoy of the Franks; but bring he peace or bring he war is the affair of men alone; as for thee, content thee with thy woman's duties." Thereupon Ditcar, perceiving that he was countered, said to Morvan: "Sir King, 'tis time that I return; tell me what answer I am to take back to my sovereign."
Should any one after perusing this volume desire to visit Le Morvan, he should be aware that to do so with any degree of pleasure or profit it is absolutely necessary to speak French fluently, for half our peasants are not in the least aware the earth is round, and that on it there are other nations besides their own.
Besides the Gours we have mentioned, there are three spots in the Morvan that deserve attention in connection with fishing. These are Sermiselle, Pierre Pertuis, and the Château des Panolas. Sermiselle, at the junction of the Cure and the Cousin, at which point the road from Paris to Lyons passes, is a charming village, full of life and gaiety.