It was very well that my little tour was to termi- nate at Dijon; for I found, rather to my chagrin, that there was not a great deal, from the pictorial point of view, to be done with Dijon. It was no great matter, for I held my proposition to have been by this time abundantly demonstrated, - the proposition with which I started: that if Paris is France, France is by no means Paris. If Dijon was a good deal of a disap- pointment, I felt, therefore, that I could afford it. It was time for me to reflect, also, that for my disap- pointments, as a general thing, I had only myself to thank. They had too often been the consequence of arbitrary preconceptions, produced by influences of which I had lost the trace. At any rate, I will say plumply that the ancient capital of Burgundy is want- ing in character; it is not up to the mark. It is old and narrow and crooked, and it has been left pretty well to itself: but it is not high and overhanging; it is not, to the eye, what the Burgundian capital should be. It has some tortuous vistas, some mossy roofs, some bulging fronts, some gray-faced hotels, which look as if in former centuries - in the last, for instance, during the time of that delightful President de Brosses, whose Letters from Italy throw an interesting side-light on Dijon - they had witnessed a considerable amount of good living. But there is nothing else. I speak as a man who for some reason which he doesn't remem- ber now, did not pay a visit to the celebrated Puits de Moise, an ancient cistern, embellished with a sculp- tured figure of the Hebrew lawgiver.
The ancient palace of the Dukes of Burgundy, long since converted into an hotel de ville, presents to a wide, clean court, paved with washed-looking stones, and to a small semicircular _place_, opposite, which looks as if it had tried to be symmetrical and had failed, a facade and two wings, characterized by the stiffness, but not by the grand air, of the early part of the eighteenth century. It contains, however, a large and rich museum, - a museum really worthy of a capi- tal. The gem of this exhibition is the great banquet- ing-hall of the old palace, one of the few features of the place that has not been essentially altered. Of great height, roofed with the old beams and cornices, it contains, filling one end, a colossal Gothic chimney- piece, with a fireplace large enough to roast, not an ox, but a herd of oxen. In the middle of this striking hall, the walls of which. are covered with objects more or less precious, have been placed the tombs of Philippe- le-Hardi and Jean-sans-Peur. These monuments, very splendid in their general effect, have a limited interest. The limitation comes from the fact that we see them to-day in a transplanted and mutilated condition. Placed originally in a church which has disappeared from the face of the earth, demolished and dispersed at the Revolution, they have been reconstructed and restored out of fragments recovered and pieced to- gether. The piecing his been beautifully done; it is covered with gilt and with brilliant paint; the whole result is most artistic. But the spell of the old mor- tuary figures is broken, and it will never work again. Meanwhile the monuments are immensely decorative.
I think the thing that pleased me best at Dijon was the little old Parc, a charming public garden, about a mile from the town, to which I walked by a long, straight autumnal avenue. It is a _jardin fran- cais_ of the last century, - a dear old place, with little blue-green perspectives and alleys and _rondpoints_, in which everything balances. I went there late in the afternoon, without meeting a creature, though I had hoped I should meet the President de Brosses. At the end of it was a little river that looked like a canal, and on the further bank was an old-fashioned villa, close to the water, with a little French garden of its own. On the hither side was a bench, on which I seated myself, lingering a good while; for this was just the sort of place I like. It was the furthermost point of my little tour. I thought that over, as I sat there, on the eve of taking the express to Paris; and as the light faded in the Parc the vision of some of the things I had seen became more distinct.
There was once a little man whose mother made him a beautiful suit of clothes. It was green and gold and woven so that I cannot describe how delicate and fine it was, and there was a tie of orange fluffiness that tied up under his chin. And the buttons in their newness shone like stars. He was proud and pleased by his suit beyond measure, and stood before the long looking-glass when first he put it on, so astonished and delighted with it that he could hardly turn himself away.
He wanted to wear it everywhere and show it to all sorts of people. He thought over all the places he had ever visited and all the scenes he had ever heard described, and tried to imagine what the feel of it would be if he were to go now to those scenes and places wearing his shining suit, and he wanted to go out forthwith into the long grass and the hot sunshine of the meadow wearing it. Just to wear it! But his mother told him, "No." She told him he must take great care of his suit, for never would he have another nearly so fine; he must save it and save it and only wear it on rare and great occasions. It was his wedding suit, she said. And she took his buttons and twisted them up with tissue paper for fear their bright newness should be tarnished, and she tacked little guards over the cuffs and elbows and wherever the suit was most likely to come to harm. He hated and resisted these things, but what could he do? And at last her warnings and persuasions had effect and he consented to take off his beautiful suit and fold it into its proper creases and put it away. It was almost as though he gave it up again. But he was always thinking of wearing it and of the supreme occasion when some day it might be worn without the guards, without the tissue paper on the buttons, utterly and delightfully, never caring, beautiful beyond measure.
One night when he was dreaming of it, after his habit, he dreamed he took the tissue paper from one of the buttons and found its brightness a little faded, and that distressed him mightily in his dream. He polished the poor faded button and polished it, and if anything it grew duller. He woke up and lay awake thinking of the brightness a little dulled and wondering how he would feel if perhaps when the great occasion (whatever it might be) should arrive, one button should chance to be ever so little short of its first glittering freshness, and for days and days that thought remained with him, distressingly. And when next his mother let him wear his suit, he was tempted and nearly gave way to the temptation just to fumble off one little bit of tissue paper and see if indeed the buttons were keeping as bright as ever.
He went trimly along on his way to church full of this wild desire. For you must know his mother did, with repeated and careful warnings, let him wear his suit at times, on Sundays, for example, to and fro from church, when there was no threatening of rain, no dust nor anything to injure it, with its buttons covered and its protections tacked upon it and a sunshade in his hand to shadow it if there seemed too strong a sunlight for its colours. And always, after such occasions, he brushed it over and folded it exquisitely as she had taught him, and put it away again.
Now all these restrictions his mother set to the wearing of his suit he obeyed, always he obeyed them, until one strange night he woke up and saw the moonlight shining outside his window. It seemed to him the moonlight was not common moonlight, nor the night a common night, and for a while he lay quite drowsily with this odd persuasion in his mind. Thought joined on to thought like things that whisper warmly in the shadows. Then he sat up in his little bed suddenly, very alert, with his heart beating very fast and a quiver in his body from top to toe. He had made up his mind. He knew now that he was going to wear his suit as it should be worn. He had no doubt in the matter. He was afraid, terribly afraid, but glad, glad.