Being the Story and Romance of the most Celebrated Prisons of the Monarchy and the Revolution: Triste comme les portes d'une prison—Sad as the gates of Prison, is an old French proverb which must once have had an aching significance. To the citizen of Paris it must have been familiar above most other popular sayings, since he had the menace of a prison door at almost every turn! For the "Dungeons of Old Paris" were well-nigh as thick as its churches or its taverns. Up to the period, or very close upon the period, of the Revolution of 1789, everyone who exercised what was called with quite unconscious irony the "right of justice" (droit de justice), possessed his prison. The King was the great gaoler-in-chief of the State, but there were countless other gaolers. The terrible prisons of State—two of the most renowned of which, the Dungeon of Vincennes and the Bastille, have been partially restored in these pages—are almost hustled out of sight by the towers and ramparts of the host of lesser prisons. To every town in France there was its dungeon, to every puissant noble his dungeon, to every lord of the manor his dungeon, to every bishop and Abbé his dungeon. The dreaded cry of "Laissez passer la justice du Roi!" "Way for the King's justice!" was not oftener heard, nor more unwillingly, than "Way for the Duke's justice!" or "Way for the justice of my lord Bishop!" For indeed the mouldy records of those hidden dungeons and torture rooms of château and monastery, the carceres duri and the vade in pace, into which the hooded victim was lowered by torchlight, and out of which his bones were never raked, might shew us scenes yet more forbidding than the darkest which these chapters unfold. But they have crumbled and passed, and history itself no longer cares to trouble their infected dust. Scenes harsh enough, though not wholly unrelieved (for romance is of the essence of their story), are at hand within the walls of certain prisons whose names and memories have survived.