[Footnote 102: Ducarel’s Anglo-Norman Antiquities, p. 93.—Respecting Vernon, see also Millin, Antiquites Nationales, III. No. 26, in which four plates, and near fifty pages of letter-press, are devoted to this town.]
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The printing of this work was just concluded, when the author was favored with drawings, accompanied with short descriptions, of the chapel of our Lady of the Delivrande, near Caen, and of an ancient font at Magneville, near Valognes. For the former he is indebted to Mr. Cohen, to whom he has so often in the course of the work, had occasion to express his obligations; for the latter, to M. de Gerville, an able antiquary at Valognes. Both these subjects are of such a nature, that he is peculiarly happy to be able to add them to his imperfect account of the Antiquities of Normandy: the whole duchy does not contain a religious building more celebrated for its sanctity than the chapel; and while ancient fonts of any description are rare in the province, he doubts if another is to be found like that of Magneville, ornamented with sculpture and an inscription.
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Some historians suppose, that the country situated between Caen and the sea, formed at least, a part of the Saxon shore of Neustria. Amongst the other ancient buildings which are found in this district, the chapel of Notre Dame de la Delivrande, to which the Normans have resorted in pilgrimage during the last eight hundred years, is, perhaps, the most remarkable.
When the philosophers of the revolution envied the religious enjoyments of the common man, all pilgrimages were forbidden, and the road leading to our Lady’s Chapel, and which, indeed, is the only high road in this part of the country, became almost impassable. Under the Emperor it was thoroughly repaired, and, as they say, by his especial order; and since the accession of the present French king, the fathers of the mission, who lose no favorable opportunity of fostering the spirit of devotion, have erected roods and tabernacles, at due distances, all along the way side.
After leaving Caen, the traveller will not fail to linger on the little hill which he ascends just after passing by the first crucifix. Hence he enjoys a lovely prospect, such as delighted the old masters. In the foreground is the lofty cross, standing on a quadrangular pyramid of steps. The broken hollow path bending upwards round the base, is always occupied by a grotesque group of cripples and beldames, in rags and tatters, laughing and whining and praying. The horizon is bounded by long lines of grey and purple hills, nearer are fields and pastures, whilst the river glitters and winds amidst their vivid tints. Nearer still, the city of Caen extends itself from side to side, terminated at each extremity by the venerable abbeys of William and Matilda. There are no traces of work-shops and manufactories, or of their pollution; but the churches with their towers and spires rise above the houses in bold architectural masses, and the city assumes a character of quiet monastic opulence, comforting the eye and the mind.