Public Monuments, Scenery,
France and Spain.
in Two Volumes.
Printed by E. W. Allen ; Co.
These Volumes Are Presented To Mrs Mary Frothingham In Memory Of Their Deceased Author.
To My Father.
To You, my dear father, were the sheets of this Journal originally addressed, when the wide expanse of Ocean separated us, and to you I commit them once more, now that I am again happily restored to our beloved country; consigning them to the same indulgent affection and parental kindness, which have contributed so largely to the happiness of my life.
Caroline W. Cushing.
Departure from Brussels—French Diligence.—Frontiers.—Road to Paris.—Paris.—Hotel.—Restaurateurs.—Lodgings.
The anticipations of instruction and pleasure, which arise in the mind upon the prospect of visiting those foreign countries, which are deeply interesting, by reason of their scenery or public monuments, or as the theatres of great historical events, are necessarily of the most vivid and glowing description. You may appreciate, then, the feelings of delight, with which, on the evening of a charming summer’s day (1829-07-29July 29th, 1829), I left Brussels for Paris. I shall endeavor to give you a faithful account of every thing singular and striking, which engages my attention during my projected tour in France; and of the views and feelings suggested from time to time by various objects of curiosity. You will not, of course, expect from me grace or learned dissertations. My only aim will be to enable 2 1 1(1)v 2 you, by simple description, to see in fancy those things, that actually come within my own observation.
The diligence, as you will suppose, is one of the first peculiarities of the country, which attract the notice of the traveller in France. It is a most huge and clumsy looking vehicle, consisting of three separate parts. That in the centre is called the interieur, and is capable of containing six persons; and the rotunde, which is behind, is likewise adapted for six. The cou-pee, in front of the interieur, holds three persons. This is much the most agreeable part of the dilgence to travel in, not only as being more commodious; but as there are windows both in front and at the sides, you have a much better opportunity of seeing the country to advantage, than you could have in the interieur. Above the coupee, on the very roof of the carriage, is a seat for three persons, called the imperiale, which is precisely like a chaise-top in form. Here also, mounted aloft, sits the conducteur. The baggage is also placed on the top of the diligence, and generally piled up to a very great height. You might suppose, that there would be danger of overturning from the top being thus heavily loaded; but the wheels are so far apart, and the body of the carriage is so wide, as to render it perfectly safe. And I never travelled in any public conveyance, which was more entirely easy. 3 1(2)r 3 I have often been much more fatigued after a ride of forty miles in one of our stage coaches, than I was upon arriving at Paris, after riding a day and a half, and the whole of two nights, without stopping.
The morning after leaving Brussels, we breakfasted at Mons,and before dinner arrived at Quiverain, the frontier town of France. Here all our baggage was taken off, and examined by the custom house officers with much care. We found them very civil, however, and not disposed to incommode us more than their duty obliged them to do. One little incident occurred, that amused me very much. Each of the ladies, who came in the diligence, was under the necessity of being examined, by a woman appointed for the purpose, to be sure that she had not smuggled lace, and little articles of that kind, in some part of her dress. It seems that some years since two or three milliners were detected in carrying great quantities of lace from Brussels to France,wrapped around their waists under their travelling habits, in the hem even, and in the crowns of their bonnets. This fact led to the establishment of the rule, which is now laid down, never to suffer a female to pass, without strictly examining her dress. The woman, however, was perfectly civil and good natured, and disposed to laugh with us at the singular custom. I, for one, was entirely willing, that she should be 4 1(2)v 4 satisfied I was not infringing the laws, and the whole passed off as a good joke, which afforded us all a hearty laugh, I can assure you, although the examination was too particular, to be wholly acceptable.
After passing through Valenciennes, Peronne, Cambray, and Senlis, four large towns in France, all more or less celebrated for wars and sieges, we arrived at Paris, at two o’clock in the afternoon of the 1832-07-3131st July. I cannot say much in favor of what I saw of the north of France. Neither the cities nor villages present any thing pleasing to the eye of the casual observer. There are, to be sure, in all the principal cities, objects of interest to claim the attention of travellers, who remain in them for any length of time; but for those who pass rapidly through them in a diligence, or stop only to take a hasty meal, there is very little, that is either agreeable or amusing. The villages, for the most part, are extremely ordinary; and comparing the country around them with verdant Holland, it appeared to me desolate and uninteresting. There were no hedges, or even fences, to be seen any where, and although there was a great quantity of grain, it had been injured by heavy rains.
In going through the cities we were accosted by hosts of beggars, blind and lame, besides a great variety of other deformed and deplorable looking objects, who ought never to have been 5 1(3)r 5 suffered to go at large. I thought at first, that there could be no laws to provide for these poor wretches, on seeing so many in the streets; but found that there was a provision made for them, which they refused to take advantage of, preferring to bed, rather than enter into a hospital. I was frequently told, moreover, that many of these people maim themselves, or are rendered so by their parents, for the purpose of exciting compassion. This I think not at all improbably, as otherwise I cannot account for there being so large a number of them as pressed around the diligence, the moment it stopped, in almost every city.
In approaching Paris you travel for some distance through rows of trees, planted at regular intervals, and each one numbered. The road is very fine, through this avenue, and in a short time after entering it, we found ourselves in the busy world of Paris. Alighting at the diligence office, we were attacked on all sides by waiters from the different hotels, each with a card, which is thrust into your hands without any ceremony. The noise which they make, in recommending their several houses, all in a breath, is absolutely stunning, and would put a person entirely at a loss which to choose, unless he had previously determined upon a particular one. We had been recommended to the Hotel Montmorency, and thither we repaired, and took our lodgings for 1* 6 1(3)v 6 a week, as, according to the rules of this house, rooms are not let for a less time.
It is a large hotel, situated in the Rue St. Marc.From the street you pass through an arched passage, with a room on each side, to an open court, with buildings on either hand, three or four stories in height, all composing the same hotel. In front, as you enter, is a pretty garden, and beyond it apartments belonging to the same establishment. We were at first shown into rooms in front of the house; but finding it too much exposed to the noise of the street, we changed them for others in the second story, looking out upon the court. These rooms were neatly furnished with mahogany chairs, covered with velvet, a sofa of the same kind, and other furniture of very good quality; but for all this, there was a dark, cheerless appearance about the house, which, in this my first experience of a French hotel, struck me very unpleasantly. The court, being back from the street, is of course entirely solitary, and the buildings all around are so high, and so many in number, as almost totally to obscure every ray of sun. In addition to this the floors, instead of being carpeted, or even made of wood, are composed of red tiles. These tiles are six sided, and being placed regularly together, and each day rubbed very brightly, have rather a neat appearance; but impart a cold and cheerless aspect to the 7 1(4)r 7 rooms, and send a chill through the frame, which is exceedingly unwelcome. In the very hottest days of summer, it might be comfortable; but although I arrived in Paris in the month of July, the weather was quite as cool as it is at home in September, and consequently I did not find the tiled floors agreeable, particularly in the morning and evening.
Another thing, which renders these hotels extremely lonely, as compared with those of the United States, is the universal practice of taking your meals in your own apartment; and of course you never see any of the inmates of the house but the servants, unless you have private friends also lodging there. The manner of living is as follows. In the morning, at whatever hour you may choose, your breakfast is served. In Paris breakfast consists of coffee and bread and butter, without meat. If you wish for this you call for it separately and expressly. A large quantity of boiled milk, and a proportional quantity of sugar are given you with your coffee, it being the custom of the French to take their coffee half milk, and made into a perfect syrup with sugar. As to dinner, you may either dine at the hotel or go to a restaurateur’s, as you please, there being no restraint in the customs of the house as to this. If you dine at the hotel, it is by carte, that is, a list of all the different meats, vegetables, fruits, and wines, from 8 1(4)v 8 which you select what you wish, and your dinner is then served in your own apartment. I mention all these little particulars, in order to give you a general idea of the hotels in Paris, which is a thing of some interest to the traveller, at least, if not to others.
Paris contains a large number of restaurateurs, and their establishments deserve to be seen as a matter of curiosity, by those who would not otherwise frequent them; and I did not fail to visit some of them, during my first week in Paris. You enter into a large hall, with sometimes a suite of rooms in addition. The hall is often very splendidly furnished, and is filled with tables, separately spread, for any number of persons, from two to seven or eight, as may be desired. At the head of it is a raised seat, with a railing around it, where a female is placed, who presides over the whole, and receives the money after you have dined; and also serves out the fruit, which makes a fine show upon a large table near her. She is generally selected for her beauty, in order to attract persons, as one of the ornaments of the saloon. When you have seated yourself at either of the tables you choose, a waiter hands you a carte, from which you select your dinner.
At some of the restaurants you pay more or less, according to what dishes you call for; but at others they agree, for a certain sum, to give 9 1(5)r 9 you a dinner, which shall consist of potage, or soup, the indispensable commencement of a dinner in France, and three different dishes, besides wine, fruit, bread, and a small cup of coffee, without milk, but with a plentiful allowance of sugar, with which your repast finishes. The houses of this description are not among the most genteel or agreeable; and in other respects they are not in the highest esteem, because it is so much the object of the proprietors to economize in the cost of what they set before you, that you are not sure of having food of the best quality.
The most celebrated cafes and restaurants are in the Palais Royal, and along the Boulevards, some of which are fitted up, in all their parts, with real magnificence, and give you the luxuries of the country, prepared in the highest perfection of the gastronomic art. There were great numbers of persons at these places, when I visited them, the rooms being generally quite full. Sometimes, though rarely, there were parties of ladies without any gentlemen; but more frequently of gentlemen alone, or gentlemen and ladies together. I was at first much surprised at meeting so many people; but afterwards came to realize the convenience of being able to obtain a good dinner at a moment’s warning, whenever you choose to call; particularly if you chance to be far from your lodgings. And there 10 1(5)v 10 are, besides, many gentlemen, whose place of business is at a distance from their houses, and other persons who live in hired apartments, and always dined at a restaurant. But the more fashionable and expensive of these establishments are suppoprted in a great measure by the multitude of foreigners, who resort to Paris, and fill its walks, galleries, and places of recreation and refreshment. These considerations will account for the confluence of persons, who are usually to be seen at the restaurateurs.
Our week at the hotel having expired, we repaired to the very pleasant private lodgings in Rue d’Artois. Here the cold tiled floors were exchanged for the wooden ones, every where met with in France, and which are very peculiarly, but very handsomely made. The wood is oak; and the boards are cut in small narrow pieces, all exactly of a size, and laid in the form of what I should call herring bone, or in other neat and fanciful forms. They are rubbed regularly every day, which gives them a polish as bright as that upon mahogany furniture. In very cold weather, even these floors must be uncomfortable; but they are, of course, infinitely preferable to tiles. Carpets, as I have been frequently told, are very rarely used in the private houses of Paris, except among some of the wealthiest inhabitants, or where Englishmen or Americans have introduced their own usages. Our hostess, an amiable,11 1(6)r 11 ble, and intelligent French lady, who receives, for the most part, only Americans in her family, has one of the very few respectable boarding houses, in the sense in which we use the word, to be found in Paris. Here I soon learned to accustom myself to the Parisian habit of eating but two meals each day, and dining at half past five, just in season for the theatre, and other amusements of the evening; and I was not long in becoming convinced that the fashion was the most convenient, as well as the most conducive to health.
General view of Paris.—The Seine.—Islands.—Boulevards. —Barrieres.—Fiacres.—Omnibuses.—Houses.—Streets.— Blanchisseries.—Bridges.—Statue of Henry Fourth, and Pont Neuf.—Pont Louis Seize.—Pont des Arts.—Quais.
Before commencing my journal of Paris, I shall anticipate a little, by attempting to give you a general idea of the city, which will naturally form an introduction to an account of its public edifices and institutions. The river Seine, which passes through Paris from east to west, forms three small islands in the heart of the city. The first of these islands, called Isle de Louviers, is uninhabited, and used only for the storage of wood. The second is the Isle St. Louis, and is inhabited. The third is denominated12 1(6)v 12 nated the Isle de la Cite, which composes the central part of Paris, and was under the Romans its whole extent.
Between these islands and the wall, with which the city is surrounded, among a great number of other streets, is a magnificent one, called the Boulevard Interieur, planted with trees, which extends nearly all around Paris. This Boulevard is in fact one street, though bearing a great variety of names. The most fashionable part, and that which presents the most attractive appearance, to a stranger, is the Boulevard des Italiens. Here, during the day, your attention is constantly kept alive, by the immense concourse of people passing and repassing, the throng of carriages, which continually fill the street, and the splendid shops, displaying all varieties of rich and tasteful goods. But this is not comparable to the lively scene, which it exhibits in the evening. Numerous cafes and restaurants, brilliantly illuminated, and filled by the young, the gay, the fashionable of both sexes, with the same continued passing of people and carriages, make the whole street appear perfectly alive; and the crowd is often so great, particularly on Sunday evenings, when the lower classes are abroad, that it is difficult to make your way through it. In front of the cafes and restaurants, chairs are arranged, under a canopy, which you see filled by parties of ladies and gentlemen, 13 2(1)r 13 chatting and laughing over their cup of coffee or glass of wine, in the highest good humor and hilarity. This scene is renewed every evening, and midnight often sounds before the gay throng have sought their respective homes.
The Boulevard du Temple is the resort of the common people, and here you have an equally lively, though very different, sense of things. All kinds of jugglery, puppet shows, rope dancing, and musical concerts are performed in continual succession, evening after evening, and on Sunday in a peculiar manner, for a few trifling sous, which are bestowed or not, as the immense multitudes, who witness and delight in these sports, are disposed to reward or not to reward, the untiring exertions for their amusement made by these poor creatures, who thankfully receive the smallest trifle that is thrown to them. Almost the whole of the Boulevard du Nord, which is that on the north side of the river, presents the same gay and enlivening spectacle as those parts of it just mentioned, while the Boulevard du Midi is still and quiet, frequented by few, and devoid of interest or attraction.
Beyond the Boulevards are the faubourgs, of which there are a large number, designated by different names. Those of St. Germain, St. Honore and Montmarte are the most frequented, and in them reside a larger proportion of genteel people, than in any other part of Paris. 2 14 2(1)v 14 The faubourgs are bounded by the city wall, which was constructed during the reign of Louis Fourteenth, to prevent the introduction of goods into Paris without the payment of duty.
Outside of the wall is a broad road, denominated the Boulevard Exterieur, which also surrounds the city. Upon this road are placed, at different points, fifty superb barrieres, or gates, which the minister Calonne caused to be erected, at an immense expense, in order to give strangers, who entered the city, an expressive idea of its opulence and grandeur. These barrieres are in fact splendid edifices, some of stone, others of brick, presenting the various forms of temples, porticos, rotundas and chapels, with their beautiful facades, arcades and numerous columns of different orders, which do indeed astonish the stranger by their magnificence; but equally so by the enormous sums of money, absolutely thrown away upon these expensive edifices, which serve no better purpose than the most plain and simple buildings would do, being used only as offices for the inspection of merchandize and things of that kind.
Upon the exterior Boulevard, and for a certain distance beyond, no houses are allowed to be placed; but the neighboring country is agreeably interspersed with little villages and hamlets, which, in summer, when the trees are perfectly green, present a rural and pleasing landscape.15 2(2)r 15
The great distance from the centre of Paris to the outer Boulevard, would render it extremely inconvenient for strangers to visit the various objects of curiosity and attention, which are situated in all directions, between these two points; and for the inhabitants themselves to go to different parts of the city. But to obviate this difficulty, and to render every place, which you wish to visit, perfectly accessible at all hours, and in all weathers, there are established several thousand carriages of different kinds, owned by private individuals, which traverse every part of the city at all hours of the day, and until late in the evening.
The fiacres, or hackney coaches, are neat and commodious, and the fare is arranged on the most convenient and equitable principles. You take them either by the course or by the hour, as you choose. The price of a course is thirty sous, whether it be longer or shorter. Each time you stop is considered a separate course, and therefore if you wish to stop at any place within the course, you can pay forty five sous and take the coach by the hour; always making the agreement in the beginning, that you do take it by the hour, otherwise you will be charged thirty sous for each time you stop. The cabriolets are like our chaises, wide enough to contain the driver and another person upon the seat. The price of these is twenty five sous the course, and thirty five the hour.16 2(2)v 16
But by far the most frequented and economical carriages are the Omnibuses, the Bearnaises, the Ecossaises, the Citadines and Carolines, which are all of the same general construction, and will contain twelve, fourteen or twenty persons, according to their different sizes. There are two seats opposite each other, the whole length of the carriage, and a small one at the end, opposite the entrance, which is from behind. There is no door to shut at the entrance, and the conductor stands upon the step, with his face turned towards the street, in order to see any person, who may wish to enter the carriage. A check-string leads from thence to the arm of the driver, which is pulled as a signal for him to stop. Below the driver’s seat is a sort of pipe, upon which he plays with his foot occasionally, in passing through the streets, and at the stand from whence he starts, until his number is complete. The largest omnibuses are drawn by three horses abreast, the smaller by two. Each one has a particular course marked out, from which it never deviates, and consequently you cannot always be sure of finding one at the very moment you wish; but as there are several to each course, which follow each other, every fifteen minutes, you may always be sure of a seat by waiting that time, and there being an almost infinite number constantly passing, which will take you up or set you down any where within their course, you can 17 2(3)r 17 generally count upon finding a seat whenever you wish. The price of a course is five or six sous for each person.
All these different carriages are numbered, so that if any difficulty arises, or the drivers or conductors are insolent, you have only to present the number at the police office, and the offender is punished accordingly. This regulation keeps every thing right, and prevents any insolence or imposition on the part of the drivers, as a fine and the loss of their places might be the consequence.
The general appearance of the central part of Paris, as it respects the streets and houses, is not remarkably elegant or agreeable. The houses being built of a particular species of stone, which in a very short time become injured and blackened, have a dingy and sombre aspect, very far from elegant or pleasing to the eye.
And this gloomy appearance is much increased by the style of building, which is, almost universally, throughout the city, the same as I have described to you the Hotel Montmorency. The entrance to the houses is by heavy folding doors, opening into a passage leading to a square court, surrounded by buildings, generally inhabited by numerous tenants, although sometimes by one family alone; and as they occupy those parts of the buildings, which open upon the court, the front always looklooks cheerless and deserted. Frequently2* 18 2(3)v 18 quently each story of a house contains a distinct family, and all make use of one common entrance. A small part of the lower story is appropriated to a portier, who is placed there by the owner of the house, and whose duty it is to keep the stair-cases and entries, which are used in common, in good order, to receive all the notes, visiting cards, parcels or messages of whatever kind for the different tenants, to open the outer doors at five in the morning, and close them at twelve at night. Whoever is out, after that hour, is expected to pay something to the porter, as a sort of penalty.
But although the great majority of the houses in Paris are such as I have described, yet there are many private edifices extremely beautiful, and the large public buildings, with few exceptions, are sumptuous and magnificent beyond description.
The streets in many of the faubourgs are broad, spacious and clean; but those in the interior of the city are entirely the reverse, excepting, of course, the Boulevards, and perhaps a few others. They are, for the most part, quite narrow, paved with rough stones, having no side walks, and continually covered with a slippery black mud, which renders it sometimes almost impossible to keep on your feet. Instead of the middle of the streets being elevated, with drains at the sides, like ours, they are here elevated at 19 2(4)r 19 the sides, with a gutter in the middle constantly filled with water from the various fountains about the city, which you are always in danger of receiving all over your dress, when a carriage, and particularly an omnibus passes.
The consequence of this is, that ladies are very seldom seen walking in the streets of Paris, unless in very pleasant weather, with any other dress than of light material which may be easily washed. In the great thorough-fares, where thousands and thousands of persons are passing and repassing at every hour of the day, with an endless succession of carriages of all descriptions driving to and fro, it is ncessary to have your eyes and thoughts always about you, to prevent being thrown down or covered with mud. There being no side walks, of course there is no part of the street in which you can be safe from the carriages, the drivers of which dash along unmindful of any person’s comfort or security; and frequently I have been obliged to step inside a door or court to avoid being absolutely run down by the horses, or crushed between the houses on one side, and the wheels of the carriage on the other. It is, therefore, as you may well imagine, extremely unpleasant for a lady to walk through the streets; and yet you are obliged so to do, as otherwise a great deal is lost which you wish to see, and you cannot obtain an accurate idea of the situation of any thing in the city.20 2(4)v 20
I have before mentioned, that the river Seine passes through Paris, from east to west. This river, as seen in the city, is very far from being so handsome as I had anticipated. It is, in many places, very narrow, and the water is extremely muddy. Its surface is almost entirely covered with boats, loaded with wood, charcoal, fish, and other articles, besides bathing-houses and washing establishments, which altogether form a scene of bustle and activity, but effectually destroy the beauty of the river. The washing establishments are very conspicuous. They consist of long buildings, covered at the top and open at the sides, around which great numbers of women stand, each with a board before her, but no tub or even soap. The clothes are first dipped into the muddy water, then laid upon this board, five or six inches square in appearance, with a handle to it. This process is continued, until the clothes are considered sufficiently cleansed, after which they are rinsed and dried. It is said that a great proportion of the clothes in Paris are washed in these places, and after the manner I have described; and you can therefore judge of the destruction occasioned to your clothes by having them washed, and of their miserable complexion, when brought to you for clean.
The bridges, thrown over different parts of the Seine, and which are sixteen in number, are 21 2(5)r 21 many of them very handsome. Among these, the Pont Neuf, Pont Louis Seize, and Pont des Arts, are the most beautiful. The Pont Neuf is a fine stone bridge, seven hundred and sixty seven feet in length, and seventy seven in breadth. It is divided into three parts, the centre for carriages, and a broad raised side-walk on each side. But the object which first attracts the eye, upon this bridge, and which renders it the more remarkable, is a beautiful bronze equestrian statue of Henry Fourth, which occupies a conspicuous place upon one side. The height of this statue is fourteen feet, and its weight thirty thousand pounds. The upper surface of the pedestal is a single block, with mortices to admit the two feet of the horse, which support the statue. The sides of the pedestal are beautifully ornamented with bas-reliefs representing different scenes in the life of Henry. On the two ends are Latin inscriptions. The whole cost three hundred thirty seven thousand eight hundred and sixty francs.
The crowd of people, who are continually passing and repassing this bridge, the great number of criers, exhibiting their articles of sale, in baskets upon their heads, or arrayed in little shops upon the side walks, the cries of the multitude of boatmen and wash-women upon the Seine beneath, —all together present one of the most lively and exhilarating scenes, which you can imagine.22 2(5)v 22
The Pont Louis Seize is also a beautiful stone bridge, four hundred and sixty one feet in length, and sixty one in breadth. It is composed of five arches, the central one ninety six feet wise, with two on each side, diminishing in size towards the ends of the bridge. The two last have wide towing paths beneath them. On each side of the bridge is a balustrade, divided by six pedestals, which support each a superb colossal statue of white marble. These twelve statues are computed to have cost, independent of the marble, two hundred thousand francs. The following are the eminent persons, whom they are intended to represent: —Bayard, Duguay Trouin, Turenne Tourville, Suger, Duguesclin, Conde, Cardinal Richelieu, Sully, Colbert, Duquesne, and Suffren. Each of these statues was sculptured by a different artist; but all are admirably executed, and the effect is truly magnificent. No ornament whatever could be more striking or beautiful. Four military trophies are intended to be placed upon pedestals, in a line with the statues, upon the quays each side of the bridge.
The Pont des Arts is very elegant, and intended for foot passengers alone. It extends from the Louvre to the Institute, five hundred and fifty five feet in length. It is composed of nine arches, within which are other smaller arches, the whole made of cast iron. At equal 23 2(6)r 23 distances, on each side of the bridge, are small iron pillars, upon which lamps are fixed. This bridge was the first in Paris constructed of iron. Its name is derived from the Louvre, which, at the time the bridge was built, was called Palais des Arts.
The quays, which border the banks of the Seine, and which almost entirely surround the Isle de la Cite and that of St. Louis, are finely and spaciously built, and considered unequalled by those of any other city in Europe, both as to their construction and extent. Large sums of money were expended, during the reign of Napoleon, for their erection, and in plans to that effect, which have since been carried into execution. These quays, composed of solid embankments of stone, are designated by different names; but in fact consist of an unbroken line, on each side of the river, and form broad, spacious streets, with houses on one side and the river on the other. At several places along the quays, are stone stairs and descents, which lead to the water. The number of quays is thirty three, and their whole length nearly fifteen miles, taking into account both banks of the river. As the Louvre, Institute, and other great edifices front on the quays, which are only divided by the river with its numerous bridges, the coup d’œil of this long avenue is very imposing.
Bourse.—Place du Carousel.—Louvre.—Museum of Pictures and Antiques.—Palace of the Tuileries.—Garden.—Rue de Rivoli.—Place Vendome.—Palais Royal.
Very soon after our arrival at Paris, we went to view the garden and palace of the Tuileries, that locality so beautiful in itself, and rendered so deeply interesting, from the historical recollecttions associated with it.
In going from our hotel to the palace, we first passed the Bourse, or Exchange, a most beautiful stone building, two hundred and twelve feet in length, and one hundred twenty six in breadth, with a covered gallery around it, supported by large Corinthian pillars, sixty six in number. The interior forms a splendid hall, adorned with superb paintings in bas-relief,—with galleries and public offices. It is entered by a flight of stone steps, the whole width of the front, facing upon the Place de la Bourse. Over the entrance is inscribed in gilded letters—Bourse et Tribunal de Commerce. The roof is entirely formed of iron and copper.
From thence we pursued our way to the Place du Carousel, which separates the palace of the Tuileries, from that of the Louvre. The intention of Henry Fourth, and which Louis Fourteenth partly carried into execution, was to clear the area between these two palaces, which was then narrow and occupied by old buildings, and 25 3(1)r 25 to unite them by galleries on each side. One of these galleries has been completed; but the other was left unfinished owing to the immense expense, which wass necessary to complete it, and the troubles of the revolution, which came to put a stop to public works of all descriptions. The task was again resumed by Bonaparte, who made great improvements in the appearance of the Louvre, which was going to decay in every part. But the project for completing the other gallery, so as to unite the two palaces into one, was finally abandoned, and it still remains unfinished. One cannot but regret, that this design should not have been accomplished, which would have increased so greatly the beauty and regularity of the place, and of the two noble edifices, which it separates. This regularity and beauty are now very much injured by the old houses and shops, of the most ordinary appearance, that fill the space, which would have been occupied by a part of the new construction, had it been completed. That part of the place, extending from these buildings towards the Louvre, is denominated the Place du Musee.
The Place du Carrousel is divided from the court of the Tuileries, by a wall four feet in height, upon which is an iron railing, ornamented, at the top, with gilded spear-heads. The columns, which separate the railing at equal distances, are surmounted by gilded balls. In the 3 26 3(1)v 26 railing are three gates, the central one exactly opposite a beautiful triumphal arch in the place; the other two having, upon each side, stone pedestals crowned by statues. The triumphal arch, just alluded to, is composed of one large central arch and two smaller ones, which are intersected by another, passing through them from side to side. The whole is composed of freestone, and the principal arch is adorned with columns of red Languedoc marble, with bases and capitals of bronze. Bas-reliefs in stone are placed above the arches, and they are also decorated with thunder-bolts, and with branches of laurel and palm. At the summit is a car, drawn by four beautiful bronze horses, made after the model of the famous horses, brought from Venice by Bonaparte, which formerly crowned this arch. In the car stands a figure, emblematical of the restoration, holding an olive branch in the right hand, and resting the left, which holds a bunch of palms branches, upon a sceptre, at the top of which is a small figure of Louis Eighteenth. This arch is a very beautiful one; but is considered too small for the spacious area, which it decorates; and this defect strikes the eye immediately upon entering the square.
Passing from thence, across the place, we arrived at the Louvre, that magnificent palace, abounding in every thing that is rich and beautiful in architecture and ornament, and fully worthy27 3(2)r 27 thy of those great men, under whose auspices it was reared and embellished, both within and without, in a style so far superior to any thing I had ever yet imagined of rich and elegant. The court of the Louvre is a square of one thousand six hundred feet in circumference, and is surrounded by four piles of buildings of the most perfect beauty. At the centre of each pile is a projection, ornamented with statues and bas- reliefs, beneath which is an arched passage leading out from the court. Each of the outside fronts is likewise beautifully decorated with bas- reliefs, statues, columns, and pilasters. The effect of the whole is, in fact, most grand and majestic, and cannot but strike the beholder with wonder and admiration.
The Museum of pictures is contained in the gallery between the Louvre and Tuileries, and is entered from the Place du Musee. Over the door of entrance is a bust of Louis Eighteenth in bronze. From the vestibule you ascend a superb stair-case which is elegantly ornamented with statues, military trophies, columns, bas-reliefs, and a very richly painted ceiling. This stair- case leads to a sort of antiante-chamber, the ceiling of which also presents pictures upon different subjects, mostly relating to the Trojan war. At the right of this hall is a door conducting to the Museum. You first pass through a room, surrounded with pictures of little or no merit, into a 28 3(2)v 28 second, which likewise contains none of very great value. From this room you enter a magnificent gallery one thousand three hundred and thirty two feet in length, divided into nine parts, by arches each composes of four beautiful marble pillars. At the back part of the arches mirrors are placed, which, by reflecting the pictures, have the appearance of successive galleries, as far as the eye can reach. Before each mirror is placed a bust of some eminent artist, a vase of alabaster, or some ornament of the kind. The light is admitted by means of sky-lights, and a range of windows, on each side of the gallery. Seats, covered with rich figured blue velvet, are also placed at regular distances on each side. The floor is composed of polished oak, such as I have before described to you, as composing the floors of private houses.
The first three divisions of the gallery are occupied by pictures of the French school,—the next three by the German, Flemish and Dutch,— and the last three by the Italian school. Although the effect of this gallery is very splendid, yet as it respects the examination of the pictures alone, it did not please me. The immense number of paintings, thus displayed at once to the view, distract the attention, and become extremely fatiguing after a short time; whereas, if the same number even were distributed in different apartments, they could be viewed with 29 3(3)r 29 much greater satisfaction and far less fatigue.
Among such a vast collection of fine paintings, which require many successive visits to examine, with any degree of accuracy, I shall not attempt to give you a minute description of any; but shall merely state, that the gallery contains master-pieces, of the most celebrated artists of ancient and modern times; and this is alone sufficient to give you an idea of the claims, which it possesses to admiration and critical attention. The first time we visited it was merely to learn the situation of the pictures of the different schools, as it was impossible to examine any attentively.
From the Museum of pictures we repaired to that of the Antiques, in another part of the Louvre. This Museum consists of a succession of apartments or halls, filled with statuary, each hall being designated by the principal statue or statues that adorn it. The ceiling of most of these apartments is truly splendid, consisting of paintings, sculpture, and fine bas-reliefs,—the whole beautifully interspersed and ornamented with gilding. These halls, too, are generally adorned with columns of alabaster, porphyry and costly marbles, with busts, vases, candelabras, and altars, besides the immense number of statues, single and in groups, most of which are extremely fine and true to life.
In the hall of the Roman Emperors, I was particularly2*3* 30 3(3)v 30 ticularly struck with the graceful and flowing manner, with which the togas were arranged upon the different statues. At a little distance you might almost imagine it real drapery, so free was it from all appearance of stiffness and precision.
The hall of Melpomene derives its name from a colossal statue of the tragic muse, which occupies one end of it. Just in front of this statue is a most beautiful pavement in mosaic, representing Minerva in a car, followed by Peace and Abundance. It is enclosed by a gilt ceiling of much beauty. Among the great number of beautiful statues, which decorate these superior and elegant halls, there were some very curious Egyptian ones, not more easily distinguished by their large flat features, than by the peculiarly stiff and formal attitude, which marked each one. It would almost seem to have been the design of the sculptor to render each limb as ungracefully and unnaturally bent as possible.
The hall of the Cariatides is very beautiful, adorned at one end by a tribune, supported by four cariatides. Above the tribune is a bas-relief in bronze, representing a fountain-nymph, her left arm resting upon an urn, from whence issues a stream of water; and her right thrown around the neck of a stag. At the opposite extremity of the hall is a very handsome chimney-piece, ornamented with statues of Bacchus and Ceres.31 3(4)r 31
In the first hall, which we entered, there were four large statues of captives, which very much attracted my attention. They were dressed in a sort of dark colored robe, which rendered them particularly striking, from the contrast which they presented to the whiteness of the other statues around them. The attitudes of these figures, their clasped hands, the downcast, sad, despairing expression of their faces, rendered them extremely interesting and attractive.
These observations upon the contents of this Museum, were not of course the result of one visit, as, like the gallery of pictures, it was examined by me many succeeding times, and always with more interest and admiration.
From the Louvre, we re-crossed to the Place du Carousel, passing through the gate in front of the arch, to the court of the Tuileries. This palace, though far inferior in beauty to that of the Louvre, has nevertheless a striking and ma— jestic aspect. The front towards the court consists of five pavilions, with four ranges of buildings between them. These pavilions are supported by columns, and the buildings between that in centre and the two each side of it, are ornamented with marble busts. At the sides of the central pavilion are antique marble statues of Apollo and a fawn, and the upper part, or attic, is upheld by six cariatides of colossal statue. Beneath this pavilion is a vestibule leading to the 32 3(4)v 32 garden, and at each side of it is a broad staircase conducting to the royal apartments above. The front of the palace towards the garden consists of three pavilions, with open galleries between them, which contain porticos, in which are placed antique marble statues of Roman emperors. Above the porticos are terraces; and between the windows are placed, upon pedestals, marble busts of emperors and generals.
A broad walk extends the whole length of this front of the palace, and directly in a line with the central pavilion is the grand walk, terminating in a terrace, raised above the garden, and ascended by steps. On each side of this walk, for some distance, opposite the two wings of the palace, is the flower-garden, beautifully arranged, with grass plats, and beds of the most gay and brilliant flowers, which impart a delicious fragrance to the air. Around all the principal walks are placed little green tubs containing orange trees, and pomegranates with their bright crimson blossoms, forming a most beautiful border. The garden on each side is enclosed by a light iron railing, and is interspersed with fountains, which fall into basins filled with gold and silver fish. We amused ourselves, as many others do, by throwing crumbs of bread or cake into the water to attract these beautiful little creatures, which rise by hundreds to the surface of the water, to catch food thus offered them, and then instantly disappear.33 3(5)r 33
Beyond the flower garden, towards the front terrace on either side, is a fine plantation of trees, the lower branches being clipt in order to form a convenient promenade beneath them. At the two sides of the garden, parallel to the grand walk, are terraces, which extend the whole length, from the palace to the front terrace,—the one bordering upon the Rue de Rivoli, and the other upon the Seine.
Every part of this charming place is decorated by groups and single statues in marble or bronze, some of them of the most finished and exquisite workmanship. Upon our entrance into the garden, the day being quite warm, and it being Sunday moreover, we found the plantation crowded with people, enjoying the coolness afforded them by the delightful shade of the trees. Chairs are always kept here, which are hired for two sous each person, and little pavilions are placed in different parts of the plantation, in which newspapers are kept, and for the reading of which two sous are also demanded. Here great numbers of the Parisians pass a large portion of their Sundays, as well as other leisure hours, in reading the papers,—strolling about, or seated beneath the trees, in conversation with those, who may chance to be their neighbors,—or else amusing themselves with the gambols of the children, of whom there are hosts, of all ages and sizes; and who under the care of their nurses or parents, 34 3(5)v 34 and frequently of both, pass away the hours in playing at hide-and-go-seek,—jumping ropes,— driving hoops or tops,—rolling nine pins,—and in all those exercises and amusements appropriate to childhood. The more genteel class are geneerally seen walking upon the terraces, which form one of the most fashionable and delightful promenades in Paris.
After passing an hour or two straying about all parts of the garden, and enchanted with all that met our eyes, we entered the Rue de Rivoli, from the gate of the terrace bordering upon that magnificent street, built by Napoleon, and which, like every thing else in Paris constructed under his superintendence, is most admirable. It consists of a series of beautiful arcades, extending along the whole of the street, on one side, and which it was Napoleon’s intention to have extended through the entire length of the city. The buildings, to which these arcades serve as a sort of open gallery, are all beautiful and regular. The color of the stone, of which they are composed, is a delicate buff; and not having been built sufficiently long to be injured by time, they present a new and bright appearance, which is seen in very few of the buildings in Paris. The Rue de Castiglioni which leads out from the Rue de Rivoli, opposite the gate of the Tuileries, is also bordered with arcades, and in fact resembles the Rue de Rivoli in every respect, except in length.35 3(6)r 35
Passing through the Rue de Castiglioni, we entered the Place Vendome. This is a fine, spacious square, or I should say octagon, as such is its form, surrounded by buildings, all of the same height, and of perfectly regular appearance. The centre of the place is occupied by a splendid triumphal column, erected by Bonaparte, in place of an equestrian statue of Louis Fourteenth, which formerly stood upon the same spot; but was destroyed in 17921792. This column is composed of stone, covered with bronze, which was procured by the melting of cannons, taken by Napoleon in battle. The column rests upon a square pedestal, which is adorned with beautiful bas-reliefs, in representation of the different victories of the French army. The bas-reliefs upon the column, which is one hundred and thirty five feet in height, and twelve feet in circumference, are in a spiral form, from the bottom to the top, separated by a band of bronze, and also representing the victories of Napoleon. The summit was formerly crowned with a bronze statue of the Emperor; which is now exchanged for the French flag, which waves about it. This statue is the only thing wanting to the perfect symmetry and beauty of this noble monument, which, having been built with the design of placing a statue at the top, has an abrupt and unfinished termination, which is somewhat injurious to its appearance, although not very seriously so.36 3(6)v 36
Entering the Rue de la Paix, we pursued our way to the Boulevards, and after walking there for some time, returned to the hotel. In the evening we went out to visit the Palais Royal, and here another truly splendid scene of things was presented to my view. We first entered into the garden, the form of which is an oblong square, beautifully laid out in grass plats, and flower beds of brightest hue, intersected by gravelled walks. At one end of the garden are erected little pavilions, like those in the Tuileries, for the reading of newspapers; and the centre of it is occupied by a most beautiful fountain, the water falling into a circular basin, in the form of a wheatshead. On two sides of this fountain are grass plats, bordered with beds of flowers, enclosed within a railing, and each ornamented with a bronze statue,—the one of Apollo, the other of Diana.
Entirely surrounding the garden are ranges of buildings, with a gallery of arcades in front of the ground floor. Upon entering this gallery, from the garden, my eyes were at first completely dazzled by the flood of light, which streamed from the windows of the shops and cafes, most brilliantly illuminated with gas, and by the splendid jewelry of the most sumptuous and costly description, meeting my view at almost every turn, and from which each ray of light seemed reflected with three fold lustre. The most delicious fruits and 37 4(1)r 37 confectionary, the richest goods, and the most splendid articles of every description, were displayed in tempting luxuriance at every step, to attract the attention of the immense crowd, of all classes and conditions, which daily and nightly throng the galleries and garden, and which serve to impart a double gaiety and excitement to this delightful and fascinating place of resort.
It is impossible to describe the effect of this scene, when to the thousand attractions, which it possesses in itself, is added the charm of novelty. It appeared to me like a dream of enchantment, or a fairy land, which my childish imagination had so often and vividly portrayed, rather than a real scene of every day life. Nor is it for the novice alone, that this scene possesses enchantment. The pleasing excitement, produced by the great variety of objects which constantly meet your gaze in the galleries,—the contrast between the dazzling brilliancy, the restless, unceasing bustle and activity there presented, and the tranquility and calm of the beautiful garden, with its shady trees, its murmuring fountain, whose pure waters reflect a thousand diamonds from the lights around,—these can never fail to charm; and one might visit the Palais Royal every evening, and every day for a year; and although the first overwhelming interest would have passed away, there would still be something each time, new and attractive, to call forth admiration and delight.4 38 4(1)v 38
Fortunate would it be if innocent amusements and pleasures alone were here pursued; but unhappily scenes of riot and debauchery are enacted night after night, within the gambling houses, the cafes, and establishments of ill fame, with which too many of the apartments of this beautiful edifice are sullied and profaned. Within these haunts of vice and profligacy the unwary and inexperienced are seduced, by the vile emissaries, who go abroad in all the city to entice the young and innocent, by fair words and under false pretences, within those unhallowed walls, where health, honor, and happiness are forever blasted; and from whence they emerge but to spread the deadly poison, by drawing into the same fatal snare companions as innocent and unsuspicious as they were once themselves.
But to turn from this dark feature of the splendid picture, which the Palais Royal presents. From the galleries at each end of the garden are passages, leading to double covered galleries, equally lined with shops. One of these galleries, constructed within a few years, is very elegant. It is ornamented with mirrors, placed between the buildings; and the entire roof is of glass. Beyond this gallery is a square court, surrounded by buildings, occupied by the Duke of Orleans, the proprietor of a greater part of all the buildings, to whose father they belonged before the revolution. But during that time, some of them, 39 4(2)r 39 opening upon the garden, were sold, and are still owned by private individuals. With the exception of these, the whole property came into possession of the present Duke of Orleans, after the restoration.
You have now before you the history of all, that met my eye, worthy of mention, upon the first day, in which I can be said to have seen any thing of importance in Paris; and if the descripttion gives you even a slight idea of the reality, I need not add how deeply I was impressed with the splendor and magnificence of it, when actually presented to the view.
Conservatoire de Musique.—Church ofSaint Roch.—Marriage Ceremony.—Bibliotheque du Roi.—Cabinet of Medals. —Manuscripts.—Engravings.—Porte St. Denis.—Porte St. Martin.—Chateau d’Eau.—Marche du Vieux Linge.—Temple.— Imprimerie Royale.—Ceremony of the Confirmation.— Place des Victoires.—Place du Chatelet.—Marche des Innocens.—Place du Palais Royal.—Site of the Old Opera.
In a place, which abounds in public spectacles as much as Paris does, it is necessary to embrace occasions as they occur, without particular regard to system or choice. Thus it happened that the first exhibition I attended was a musical exhibition (1829-08-05August 5th,) consisting of a trial for a prize, upon different instruments, between the pupils of a musical school, denominated Conservatoire40 4(2)v 40 vatoire de Musique. The instruments were the violin, flute, bassoon, hautboy, clarionet and horn. The exhibition was in a sort of theatre, with boxes and a pit for spectators, and the stage was, of course, occupied by the musicians. Opposite the stage was the seat for the persons, who adjudged the prizes. The manner in which they decide which of the musicians has gained the prize, is as follows. A box, divided into compartments, is placed before them. In these compartments they put the names of the competitors, upon slips of paper, and then each of the judges drops a small ball into that, which contains the name of the person whom he considers entitled to a prize. These balls are then counted, and the president arises and announces the name of the successful competitor, who comes forward on the stage and bows to the audience. Some of the performances were excellent, other not so much so; but none were bad. It was not the kind of music in which I am ever much interested; but I passed two or three hours quite pleasantly, in listening attentively to the performances, in order to decide in my own mind, who should gain the prize, before the decision of the judges was announced.
On a subsequent day (1829-08-12August 12th) I sat out to visit the King’s Library, or Bibliotheque du Roi, and on my way thither entered the church of St. Roch. This church is approached by a long flight of stone steps, extending the whole 41 4(3)r 41 length of the building. The exterior is not otherwise striking or remarkable; and the interior, though possessing some fine monuments, and a handsome pulpit, has an appearance of decay and neglect, a dark and dingy aspect, wholly unlike the magnificent churches I saw in Belgium. A marriage ceremony was performing at the time I entered, and a large collection of people was assembled. The bride was dressed in white muslin over silk or satin; and a lace veil, attached in plaits to the back part of the comb, fell over her shoulders. The marriage service I could not understand a word of; but there was a great deal of form and dumb show, as in every other catholic service, which I have yet witnessed, and the ceremony was much longer, than that of the church of England. We became fatigued and left the church, before the marriage was completed.
From thence we pased through a number of streets, abounding with mud, and thronged with people and carriages, to the King’s Library. This is an immense pile of blackened buildings, presenting nothing pleasing in their exterior. Passing through an arched gate way, you enter into a large court, the buildings surrounding which have a regular and uniform appearance. At the right is a broad stair-case, leading to the library. The printed books, which are said to be upwards of seven hundred thousand in number, occupy a beautiful gallery, extending around 4* 42 4(3)v 42 three sides of the court. In the centre of these galleries are placed long tables covered with green cloth, and furnished with ink-stands. The books are arranged in shelves, on each side of the gallery, neatly enclosed in wire net-work.
In the centre of one of the galleries is a representation of Parnassus, in bronze, which, though trifling, is rather curious than otherwise. It consists of a steep mountain, upon which are seated in various attitudes, and with appropriate symbols to each, a number of little figures, which are intended to represent the principal poets of France. Among them are Voltaire, Rousseau, Racine, Corneille, and a variety of others,—and Louis Fourteenth under the figure of Apollo. Besides these there are a number of genii holding medallions in their hands; and other medallions are attached to branches of laurel.
At the end of the same gallery is an excellent representation of the pyramids of Egypt, the proportions of the pyramids and of the desert being exactly preserved. It presents a vast, barren waste, covered with a fine dust in imitation of sand; and not a green leaf or shrub is to be seen, with the exception of one or two solitary groups of palm trees, near the pyramids, which appear like mere specks upon the immense plain around. The whole is admirably executed, and forms an interesting ornament to the library. At the farther extremity of the adjoining gallery 43 4(4)r 43 is a fine statue of Voltaire, seated in an arm chair. The likeness is perfect.
This part of the library is thrown open every day, from ten o’clock until four, for the purposes of study, and twice a week to mere visiters among the public at large. Great numbers of students are constantly seen sitting around the tables, and not unfrequently ladies among the number. No conversation is allowed, and the galleries being secluded from all noise, and from every thing to call off the attention, are finely adapted to study. No student is allowed to take a book from the shelves himself; but he may obtain any he wishes for, by applying to the librarians, who are always near to take them out when desired.
Leading out from one of the galleries is a room, not public, exclusively devoted to geographical works. In the room are two immense globes, the one terrestrial, the other celestial, nearly twelve feet in diameter, and thirty five in circumference. They are supposed to be the largest in Europe, with the exception of one in the University of Cambridge, but not remarkable for their exactness.
The cabinet of medals and antiques is situated at the extremity of the first gallery, and is open to the public two days in the week. Here are contained an extensive collection of coins, medals, and antiques, of great value and variety. Among them are some of the earliest Roman 44 4(4)v 44 coins, a great variety of very curious Egyptian antiquities, some antique busts, and several mummies of cats and other animals, worshipped as gods among the Egyptians. There are, besides these, gold and other ornaments, found in the tomb of King Childebert, the iron chair of King Dagobert, a sword of the order of Malta, and a great variety of other curiosities, equally ancient and remarkable. The coins, antiques, medals and things of that kind, are displayed in glass cases, with a little slip of paper attached to each, some bearing only the number, but others stating where they were found, or for what they are particularly remarkable. In other glass cases are contained splendid collections of cameos, both white and variegated, of the richest description and most perfect finish. Some of them are three or four inches in diameter, and all bear the most close and critical examination. Upon many of the beautiful engraves seals and rings, the figures are extremely small and delicate; but upon close examination every part is found perfectly finished and well proportioned.
In addition to the vast number of printed books, of which the library consits, there are six other apartments, filled with manuscripts,— the number of volumes being computed at eighty thousand. One of these apartments is a large, handsome gallery, the ceiling panted in fresco, in which are deposited the most valuable and curious45 4(5)r 45 rious of the manuscripts, in glass cases. These are the manuscripts of Galileo, of Leonardo da Vinci, letters from Henry Fourth to Gabrielle d’Estrees, the prayer-books of Henry Third, of Anne of Brittany, of Louis Fourteenth, and of Pope Paul Third, written upon vellum, and most splendidly illuminated. Here also are the original manuscript of Telemachus, that of Josephus, memoirs of Louis Fourteenth, in his own hand, letters written by Francis First, by Montesquieu, Racine, Turenne, Voltaire, Corneille, Madam Sevigne, Madam de Maintenon, and many others. Such are the most interesting manuscripts, to be found in this truly superb and precious collection, which must be viewed with the deepest interest by all strangers, of whatever nation, who visit the library,—an interest almost equal to that entertained by the countrymen of those great writers and eminent personages, who have filled the world with their fame. Oriental manuscripts, the Alcoran in Arabic, and Persian poems, most beautifully written, and ornamented with flowers, and with every line gilded, are also among the curiosities in this part of the library.
From this room we repaired to the cabinet of engravings, which occupy several rooms. In the first the engravings are hung around the walls in frames, but in the others they are in volumes, handsomely bound, and arranged upon shelves. 46 4(5)v 46 Tables are placed in the middle of the apartments, for those who wish to inspect the plates, which consist of engravings of all the most celebrated pictures of the first French, Italian, German, Dutch and Flemish artists; together with historical and fancy sketches, plates upon natural history, portraits, costumes of different nations, and in short engravings of almost every description. These may be examined by all persons, on fixed days, without difficulty or delay, like every other part of this princely establishment, which exhibits all the splendor and beauty, which should signalize the public library of the monarch of a great and wealthy nation.
The next day (1829-08-13Thursday the 13th) I visited the Royal Printing Press, or Imprimerie Royale.
Passing along the Boulevards, I arrived at Porte St. Denis, which is a magnificent triumphal arch of stone, situated at the extremity of Rue St. Denis, seventy two feet in height, and composed of three arches, the principal one twenty five feet in width, and forty three in height. This porte or gate was constructed in 16721672 by the city of Paris, to perpetuate the memory of the victories of Louis Fourteenth; and the beautiful bas- reliefs, which, with military trophies, pyramids, and other ornaments, adorn it in various parts, have for their subjects the triumphs of the great monarch. A bas-relief, over the principal arch, represents Louis crossing the Rhine on horseback,47 4(6)r 47 back, with the inscription ’Ludovico Magno,’ in gilded letters. This inscription, which was effaced during the revolution, was renewed by the order of Napoleon, a short time previous to his fall from power. It is by the Porte St. Denis, that the public entries of the kings and queens of France are made into Paris.
Not far from this is the Porte St. Martin, which, though more plain and simple than St. Denis, and inferior to it in richness and elevation, is nevertheless a fine piece of architecture, formed like the other of three arches, and adorned with bas-reliefs and other trophies, relating to the conquests of Louis Fourteenth.
Extending my walk still farther on the Boulevards, I came to the beautiful fountain called Chateau d’Eau, situated upon an elevated mound, at the side of the street. The form of this fountain is precisely that of a glass pyramid, the water rising through a tube in the centre, and fallling into a beautiful circular sheet over the different shelves, which are three in number, into a circular basin, thence again into a second of larger dimensions, and finally into the reservoir, which surrounds the whole. Around the upper basin are placed, upon pedestals, eight antique lions of cast iron, which spout water from their mouths into the basin below.
The Marche du Vieux Linge, or market for old clothes, situated in the Rue de Temple, to 48 4(6)v 48 which I next proceeded, is a large building surrounded with galleries, in which are a vast number of little shops or stalls, filled with great quantities of old linen, and clothes of almost all descriptions. Just back of this is a detached building, called the Rotonde, circular at the ends, and also containing galleries or shops. The appearance of this building is rather striking; but the whole place was so exceedingly dirty and disagreeable, that I was glad to hurry away from it as fast as possible.
In the same street is situated all that remains of the ancient buildings of the celebrated order of Knights Templars; and where a convent has been established, since the restoration. The front of the palace of the Prior is handsomely ornamented with a portico sustained by pillars; but the effect of it is much injured by a chapel, which was, within a few years, been attached to one side of it, and which destroys its regularity of appearance. Back of the palace is a large garden, which is surrounded by an extremely high stone wall, concealing it entirely from view. Admittance cannot be obtained into the interior of the convent, by any one; but the outside view alone is deeply interesting, of that spot, where for many months the unfortunate Louis Sixteenth and his family were imprisoned, and from where he was conducted to the scaffold.
The Royal Printing Press, not far from thence, 495(1)r49 is a very fine establishment, upon the most extensive scale. We passed through a long range of apartments, some filled with printing presses, at which large numbers of men were employed. Some were appropriated to trimming the sheets after they were printed, and in others the sheets were folded and stitched, a work done almost entirely by women. The quickness with which the papers are printed, folded and stitched; the good order, neatness and regularity, which pervade every part of the establishment, are truly remarkable. Nor is the foundry, which occupies the lower part of the building, less remarkable or interesting. Here you can see the types made, with the utmost rapidity and in immense numbers. I could scarcely think half of them would ever be used, when I reflected, that an equal quantity with those we saw, were produced every day. But the amount of printing executed here is very great, sufficient to employ five or six hundred persons, male and female, and yet it is almost exclusively confined to government papers.
On my return I entered the Church of St. Nicolas des Champs, where the Archbishop of Paris was about confirming a large number of young people, of both sexes. The ceremony was extremely interesting and solemn. About two hundred girls, and as many boys, were seated in the body of the church upon benches, placed one behind the other. The 5 50 5(1)v 50 girls were all dressed in white, with muslin caps, and white lace veil thrown over their heads. After they were all seated a lad of about fourteen years old walked up through the two first rows, giving to each a napkin. After him followed the Archbishop, who crossed their foreheads with holy water, repeating the words of confirmation at the same time. Then came a priest who washed their foreheads with a small piece of white cloth, followed by another who wiped them with the napkin, which had been given for that purpose. Two little boys, dressed in white muslin, over red, with a red girdle or sash, came next, with a sort of basket of muslin lined with red, at each side of which was attached a broad red band, which passed over the shoulders of the two boys. Into this basket the priest threw the napkins, as they were used. When two rows were confirmed, they retired to the back benches, giving place to the others to advance. After this ceremony was concluded, the priests chanted at the alter, amid clouds of incense, which the little boys in red burned before them. The Archbishop then exhorted the kneeling flock, when the Te Deum was sung and the ceremony closed. The organ played, and the bell of the church tolled, during the whole time. A large crowd was collected to witness the scene, though it was by mere chance alone that we happened to be of the number. The church possesses 51 5(2)r 51 nothing in its appearance worthy of mention.
On the following morning I walked to the Place des Victoires. This is a handsome circular place, surrounded with buildings, of regular and uniform appearance. In the centre is a beautiful bronze statue of Louis Fourteenth, on horseback, enclosed within an iron railing, gilded at the top, outside of which is a circle of handsome pillars. The statue is fourteen feet in height, without including the pedestal. The head of Louis is crowned with laurel. In one hand he holds a truncheon, and with the other curbs his spirited horse, whose arched neck and general bearing denote his impatience of the bit which restrains his course. The pedestal is ornamented with inscriptions, and with bas-reliefs which represent the passage of the Rhine, and Louis seated upon his throne, distributing military decorations.
The Place du Chatelet, which I saw the same day, is adorned with a very beautiful fountain, called Fontaine du Palmier. It is composed of a large circular basin, in the centre of which is a pedestal, sustaining a column of fifty-eight feet in elevation. The column, intended to represent a palm tree, with the capital serving as branches, is divided by bands of gilded bronze, bearing the names of the principal victories gained by Bonaparte. At the four corners of the pedestal, which is handsomely ornamented, are cornucopiæ, which terminate in form of fishes’ heads, 52 5(2)v 52 from whence the water is thrown into the surrounding basin. The summit is crowned by a gilt statue of Victory, holding a crown of laurel in each hand.
The March des Innocens also contains a beautiful marble fountain, forty-two feet in height, adorned with sculpture and other ornaments. The market is in the centre of a large square court, surrounded by buildings covered at the top, but open at the sides, in which are arranged all varieties of vegetables and other articles; and the whole place is completely filled with people, either buyers, sellers, or lookers on, of which latter there are generally not a few.
Indeed, the market places in Paris, of which the Marche des Innocens is the largest, present at times a most amusing scene. There is such a multitude of people, and particularly women, all talking together, with the greatest rapidity and earnestness,—such a variety of strange looking dresses and figures,—such a never ceasing din, that one might be amused for hours altogeher, so far as variety is pleasing, in merely observing the different voices, movements, dresses, and actions of the multitude around. But the great objection to all these market places, nearly without exception, is their extreme want of neatness, a thing, however, which can scarcely be avoided. The pieces of broken vegetables, which get scattered around, become decayed, and of course 53 5(3)r 53 very offensive, while they serve to make more slippery and difficult to stand upon, the quantities of mud, with which these places always abound,—and particularly those which are ornamented with a fountain.
On my way back to Rue d’Artois, I entered the Place du Palais Royal, in which is a very large stone fountain, consisting of a central projecting body, and two wings in form of pavilions, the whole front together being one hundred twenty feet in length. It is decorated with columns and statues.
From this place, proceeding to the Boulevards through the Rue Richelieu, I passed the spot where the Opera stood, in which the Duke of Berry was assassinated. Upon the same spot is now erecting a very handsome church. It has a gallery around it sustained by large pillars, not unlike in appearance to that of the Bourse, though the building is not nearly as large. But there is a great defect in the construction of this church, and that is the manner in which it is finished at the top. It looks precisely as if the roof had been completed, and afterwards a little clumsy square house had been placed upon it, for the purpose of injuring the beauty of the other part of the building, with which this does not compare in the least degree.
Vow of Louis Thirteenth.—La Morgue.—Royal Procession.— Palais de Justice.—Sainte Chapelle.—Place Dauphine.—Institute.—Cosmorama.—Saint Germain l’Auxerrois.—Hotel des Affaires Etrangeres.—La Madelaine.
Saturday, the 1829-08-15fifteenth day of August, being a great festival in the Bourbon family, a procession, including the King and royal family, was to walk to the church of Notre Dame, where religious ceremonies were to be performed, in consequence of a vow made by Louis Thirteenth, which his successors have always rigidly observed. We left our lodgings some hours previous to the time fixed for the procession to move, for the purpose of visiting a number of churches and market places, which, however, had nothing in them particularly worthy of note.
On arriving at the Pont Neuf, we found great numbers of people collecting to view the procession, and as we advanced we found the crowd so great, that in some places, we with difficulty made our way through them. The streets, through which the procession was to pass, were covered with gravel, and lined on each side with soldiers.
As we were pursuing our way towards Notre Dame, from the Pont Neuf, we observed a small, low building, situated near the water’s side; and our curiosity being awakened by seeing a large number of men and women continually passing 55 5(4)r 55 in and out, we made bold, the door being open, to step inside and see what was to be seen. Immediately upon entering, I noticed a sort of partition, stretching along the width of the building, and looking beyond it, I saw the body of a dead person, lying upon an inclined slab of marble, and wrapped in a sheet, the head alone being visible, and that very much swollen and blackened. I almost instantly perceived, that I had entered unawares into that celebrated place, called La Morgue, which I would upon no account whatever, have entered voluntarily, and from which I made as speedy an exit as possible. The object of this establishment is a very useful one, and peculiar altogether, I believe, to Paris. In the Morgue are deposited the bodies of all persons, drowned in the Seine, or who are found dead in any of the public streets. Here they are exposed for the space of three days, their clothes being hung over their heads, in order that their friends, if they have any, may be able to identify them. If no one appears to claim them, before the expiration of that time, they are buried at the public expense.
Not having applied in season for tickets of admission into the church, we found it necessary to content ourselves with obtaining a good situation in a balcony, where we might have a near view of the procession. The street, in which we were, led up to the front of the church, and it soon became56 5(4)v 56 came thronged with people, and all the windows of the houses on each side were also completely filled.
The scene strongly reminded me of the 1829-06-1717th of June, when our Nation’s Guest passed through the streets of Boston to Bunker Hill. And as, on that occasion, thousands of applauding voices hailed his approach, and every lip uttered with enthusiastic and heartfelt joy, the honored, the beloved name of Lafayette, so I had anticipated that the same general burst of acclamation would proclaim the presence of a nation’s sovereign. But my expectations in this respect were entirely disappointed. The King and royal family proceeded to the church in carriages, and after the ceremony walked from thence in procession. And these carriages all passed through the street, without our once suspecting that they were other than the carriages of the nobility, which had been constantly passing for an hour previous. Not even one solitary voice, amid the immense multitude, cried Vive le Roi; but all were as still and silent as if deprived of the power of speech. The change in the ministry, which had very recently taken place, and which had been the constant topic of conversation since we had been in Paris, was so universally unpoplar, and the new ministers so much hated by the great body of the French people, with scarcely any exceptions, that some persons had been fearful, lest acts of violence57 5(5)r 57 lence might be commited upon the occasion; but fortunately nothing of the kind occurred, and men were content to express their resentment towards the King, in the only way they could publicly express it without open violence, by a profound and disdainful silence.
In a short time after the King passed to the church, the procession moved from thence. First came mounted guards, followed by sixty young girls, and after them sixty young boys. These were succeeded by two persons, each bearing an immense crucifix, and a hundred priests dressed in black, with white surplices. Each priest carried a book in his hand, and many of them were reading as they passed. In the midst of them was borne, by six priests, a silver image of the Virgin and Child. The Archbishop of Paris then followed, with his attendants, all most beautifully and richly dressed. Then came the Dauphin, and after him the King, succeeded by the Dauphine and her maids of honors. The Duchess of Berri was not present, being absent from Paris. A body of troops closed the procession. They all, the troops of course excepted, walked with heads uncovered, and consequently I had a fair view of the royal family.
The King is of common statue, quite thin, and though young looking for his age, ordinary in his appearance. His countenance is very much wanting in intelligence of expression, and there 58 5(5)v 58 is little in his air of courtly dignity or elegance. He was dressed very plainly, and looked around upon the people, as he passed, with a smile upon his countenance, which, however, met with no return of kind feeling on their part, as every face was marked with an expression of any thing but good will toward him.
The Dauphin is a much plainer man, even, than his father, and looks very nearly as old. His manner of walking, like that of the King, was awkward and ungraceful. He was also dressed very simply.
The Dauphine is not less unprepossessing in her appearance. She is a very large woman, with extremely coarse features, and rather a masculine air and manner. Her eyes are large and staring, and have that swollen appearance about the lids, which imparts an unpleasant expression to the face. She has a great deal of color; but it is too deep a red to be handsome. In short, she is altogether a different looking woman, from what I had imagined the daughter of Marie Antoinette would be. Her dress was very rich, and her long train, sweeping the ground, gave her rather more the air of high rank, than her royal father and her husband could be said to exhibit.
The procession, after making a circuit through a number of streets, was to return again to the church.—So after they had passed the spot, at 59 5(6)r 59 which we had stationed ourselves, we made our way through the crowd, to the entrance of the church, and by good luck, obtained a stand behind the guard, and saw the King, when he returned, within the distance of a few feet from us; and we could also see the interior of the church at the same time. In the Place Notre Dame, upon which the church stands, was a long range of splendid carriages with their liveried coachmen and footmen;—and a company of the far-famed cuirassiers were stationed in front. These troops presented a most beautiful appearance. The whole of the upper part of the body was encased with brilliant metal, with caps of the same, handsomely ornamented with red trimmings.—Their horses were all noble looking animals, and almost eclipsed in brightness the shining armors in which their riders were clad.
At each side of the principal entrance to the church, was a line of soldiers.—Those on one side were the sappeurs, with long beards, fur caps of immense size, and a kind of apron of white leather, covering nearly the whole of the front part of the body. Each of them held in his hand a large broad axe. A very amusing affray occurred between these soldiers, who were on the opposite side from us, and a crowd of people, among whom were a great proportion of the softer sex, who, seeing our advantageous situation, wished to obtain a similar one; an intention, however, 60 5(6)v 60 which the sappeurs seemed determined should not be put into execution. But in vain did they raise their axes in menacing attitude, and push the advancing crowd, with all violence, from their place of shelter.—No sooner had one party been forced out, than another rushed in; and the sappeurs were at last obliged to call to their aid two or three dragoons, who rode into the midst of the crowd, producing, as you may well suppose, the utmost panic; and shrieks of dismay were uttered by some of the poor women and children, whose pale faces sufficiently indicated their affright.— Others, however, were not in the least daunted, and one woman in particular, whom I observed, held in one hand a little girl about seven or eight years old, and with the other pushed off the horse, who was urged onward by his rider, until the woman, finding she was likely to get crushed if she persisted in remaining in her situation, was obliged to retreat, to her great apparent mortification and discontent.
The crowd were scarcely reduced to a proper state of quietness, when the procession again approached and entered the church. Te Deum was then sung, when the sumptuous royal coach drew up, and the King and his family drove off, without a single cheer of loyalty.
After the crowd had sufficiently dispersed, we made our way, without difficulty, to the Palais de Justice, or Court-house. The front of this 61 6(1)r 61 large and beautiful edifice, a part of which was anciently the residence of some of the French kings, presents at the centre a sort of covered gallery, supported by columns, to which a flight of stairs conducts from the court in front of the building. On each side of this central gallery is a wing. The gate of entrance into the court is of great size and beauty. It is constructed of iron, and richly ornamented with gilding. Ascending the flight of stairs, we entered the building, and passed through a number of galleries, which to my great surprise I found occupied by little retail shops, of the most paltry description, which it is perfectly astonishing should be allowed to disgrace the interior of so beautiful an edifice as the Palais de Justice.
A fine broad stair-case leads to the Salle des Pas Perdus, which is a most splendid hall, divided into two naves, by square pillars supporting arches. This hall, which conducts to the courts of justice and various other rooms, is used as a public promenade, for all classes of people. At one side is a very beautiful monument, which was erected in the year 18221822, to the memory of Malesherbes. The principal objects are a statue of that disinterested and generous adbocate of a fallen sovereign, with a figure emblematical of France on one side, and Fidelity on the other.
La Sainte Chapelle du Paris, a handsome gothic structure, adjoins the right wing of the 6626(1)v62 Palais de Justice. It is no longer used as a chapel; but as a place of deposit for judicial archives, which are neatly arranged in cases placed around the walls of the church. The windows are situated at a great height from the floor and beautifully painted. In a partition, in one side of the church, there is a little secret door, leading to a small dark closet, in which Charles Tenth was secreted, for a time, during the revolution.
In going from the Palais de Justice, we passed through the Place Dauphine, in which is a very handsome fountain, erected as a monument to the memory of Desaix. The name of that gallant general is inscribed upon it in gilt letters, enclosed within a garland of oak, while beneath are the following words, said to have been his dying message to Napoleon:—Allez dire au premier consul, que je meurs avec le regret de n’avoir pas assez fait pour vivre dans la posterite.
During my rambles of the following day, I visited two very interesting spots, namely, the house in front of which Henry Fourth was assassinated, and that in which Moliere was born. The former has in front a bust of Henry, with an inscription. The latter has also a bust of Moliere, with an inscription, and above the bust are these words:—Au Grand Moliere. The latter house is small and ordinary in its appearance, and is no wise interesting63 6(2)r 63 teresting but as the birth place of the great dramatist.
During the same week, (1829-08-18August 18th,) I for the first time examined the grand and beautiful edifice of the Institute, which, as I have previously mentioned, is situated opposite the palace of the Louvre. In approaching the Institute from the quay of the Louvre, by the Pont des Arts, I was charmed with the magnificent prospect, which met my eyes. You have before you a very extensive view, comprising a great number of the most splendid edifices, public and private, in Paris, with the beautiful Pont Neuf and statue of Henry Fourth full in sight; and by far the best view which I have yet had of the Seine, with its regular line of fine quays on each side, and which show at this point to peculiarly good advantage. But not the least splendid of the edifices here viewed, is that of the Institute, which is composed of large piles of buildings surrounding a square court. The outer front, towards the Pont des Arts, is of circular form, and at the centre is a portico sustained by corinthian pillars, and above it a dome. At each extremity of the building is a wing, extending far out upon the quay. The whole front is handsomely ornamented, and presents a style of architecture striking and majestic. Two fountains, each representing a lion, in cast iron, with water spouting from their mouths, are placed on each side of the portico, between it and the wings64 6(2)v 64
From the Institute, we walked to the Rue Vivieme, to see the Cosmorama, which I had heard much talked of, but which far surpassed any idea I had formed of it. I entered a room perfectly darkened, with round magnifying glasses placed in the wall on each side. Approaching the first, I looked through and beheld a most splendid representation of the pass of Thermophylæ, with the three hundred Spartans on one side, and on the other the immense Persian army. For an instant I almost imagined it reality, so perfect was the deception. The next was a view of Moscow, including the Kremlin; and the next to this the amphitheatre of Flavius, a truly magnificent ruin of immense size. Emerging from one side, was seen a Catholic procession, their crucifixes elevated, and all the figures of the most perfectly natural appearance. These three pictures occupied one side of the apartment. Corresponding to them, on the other side, were an interior view of the Vatican at Rome, a representation of the tower of Babel, and a pass in the Andes, through which guides are seen conducting a company of missionaries. All these pictures are beautiful, and appear the more brilliant from the darkness of the room into which you first enter. The light is admitted to them from behind the wainscotting.
The church of St. Germain l’Auxerrois, which 65 6(3)r 65 I next saw, contains some fine monuments. That of M. Etienne d’Aligre, chancellor of France in the seventeenth century, consist of a tomb of black marble, upon which is a recumbent figure of the chancellor, holding in one hand the great seal of France, and in the other a book. Opposite to this monument is a similar one, to the memory of his son, of the same name with himself, and who was also chancellor of France. A statue of him is represented upon the tomb, in a kneeling posture. Both these monuments are extremely beautiful, and the contrast, between the black marble, of which the tombs are composed, and the white marble figures, produces a striking and solemn effect.
The entrance into this church is very curiously ornamented. At each side of the door are three antique figures of the most singular appearance, and under their feet are different animals in a couching position. Around the arch, over the door, are bas-reliefs. It was the bell of St. Germain l’Auxerrois, which sounded the signal for the massacre of St. Bartholomew.
During my walk of this day, I saw two most noble edifices begun by Napoleon, which were, the Hotel du Ministere des Affaires Etrangeres; and the church of La Madelaine. The former is a truly magnificent building, of enormous extent, and had it been completed, would have been one of the most sumptuous edifices in Paris. And it 6* 66 6(3)v 66 still may be so, as the intention is to finish it. The church of La Madelaine, which was commenced by Bonaparte as a Temple of Glory, is not yet completed; but is sufficiently so to present a majestic and beautiful appearance, from whatever point it is viewed. It is adorned with a double row of very large stone columns, forming a double gallery, quite equal in splendor to that of the Bourse itself.
When these elegant monuments of the glory of Napoleon meet the eye, one cannot but contrast Paris, as it now is, with what it would have been, had he reigned sufficiently long to have carried into execution all his plans, for the purpose of improving and beautifying it. To say that a column, a street, or an edifice, of any kind, was built by Bonaparte, is to say that it is all, which the imagination can depict, of rich, sumptuous, beautiful; and what would not have been the unrivalled beauty, of this even now superb metropolis, had Napoleon continued to reign to the day of his death?
Chapelle Expiatoire.—Abattoir du Roule.—Arc de l’Etoile.— Champs Elysees.—Rue Royale.—Place Louis Quinze.—Camera Obscura.—Hotel de Ville.—Place Royale.—Bastille.— Galerie d’Angouleme.—Versailles.—Palace.—Gardens.— Grand Trianon.—Petit Trianon.—Fountains.
A day or two afterwards, (1829-08-20August 20th) we visited the Chapelle Expiatoire, which is a most beautiful little church, erected upon the spot where Louis Sixteenth and Marie Antoinette were interred after their execution. An inscription in gilded letters over the door purports, that Louis Eighteenth reared this monument to the memory of those princes, whose mortal remains, after having reposed upon this spot for twenty- one years, were removed to the royal sepulchre of St. Denis after the restoration.
Entering through this door, you advance by a gravelled walk to the portico, which is ascended by steps. On each side the walk are covered galleries, of nine arcades, each enclosed by gates of iron. Within these arcades are tombs, upon which are white marble medallions, and tablets with inscriptions. From the centre of the church rises a dome, the roof of which, in the inside, is ornamented with flowers in stucco work, and the floor is composed of different colored marbles. Around the chapel are fifteen niches, in which are handsome candelabras, and on each side of it 68 6(4)v 68 is a pedestal, upon which are to be placed statues of Louis and Marie Antoinette. Upon one of the pedestals is the last letter of Marie Antoinette to her son, and the will of Louis is inscribed upon the other. In a subterranean chapel is also a pedestal, which is to receive a statue of Madame Elizabeth.
Every part of this splendid edifice is in fine taste, and though small, it is considered one of the handsomest buildings in the city; and certainly the associations, connected with the spot, render it one of the most interesting. On the outside, next the street, is a beautiful hedge of cypress trees.
From the Chapelle I took a very long walk to the outer Boulevards, and visited the Abattoir du Roule, which is one of the fine public slaughter- houses, that Bonaparte caused to be erected at the northern and southern extremities of the city; and at the same time, all those within the walls, which had long been a great public nuisance, were suppressed. These slaughter-houses are truly admirable establishments, and should serve as models for those of every other great city in the world. At the entrance of the Abattoir du Roule, is a handsome iron balustrade of great height and length, and within the railing, on each side, is a stone building, in which are the offices of the administration. Beyond these are pules of large stone buildings, which contain the slaughter-houses.69 6(5)r 69 ter-houses. These are more or less in number, in the different Abbatoirs, in proportion to the sizes of each. Sufficient air is admitted into all to keep them cool, and they are entirely free from any of that offensive odor, which renders places of the kind so noxious and disagreeable. There are contained in these establishments places appropriated to the melting and cooling of tallow, for drying the skins, and for keeping the undressed leather. There are sheep-folds, stables, reservoirs of water, and, in short, every convenience which can be required, and every facility for keeping the precincts clean and in good order.
Another of the grand enterprizes of Napoleon, not far from the Abattoir du Roule, is the beautiful triumphal arch, called Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile, from its being situated in an area denominated l’Etoile. This arch is still far from being finished, though it is in a state of progression. It is composed of blocks of lime-stone, and the grandeur of its dimensions is truly astonishing. Workmen were employed upon it for eight years, unceasingly, during the time of Bonaparte;—after which the work was discontinued, and not again resumed until 18231823. The beauty of this arch is not more remarkable, than its delightful situation. It stands in a circular area, commanding a most charming view of the Champs Elysees, the Place Quinze, and the garden and palace of the Tuileries.70 6(5)v 70
The Champs Elysees, in which great numbers of public fetes are held, at different seasons of the year, are situated in a line with the garden of the Tuileries, and consist of two deep and delightful groves of trees, intersected, in all directions, with gravelled walks. Between these two groves is a spacious street, with a double row of trees on each side, forming a side walk. This street is called the Avenue de Neuilly, and is entered between the two splendid pavilions of the Barriere de Neuilly. It is in an exact line with the grand walk of the Tuileries, and also with the Arc de l’Etoile. Consequently there is nothing to intercept the view between the arch and the central pavilion of the palace,— and seldom can the eye rest upon a more magnificent prospect, than is presented from either of these two points.
The Place Louis Quinze is situated between the Champs Elysees and Tuileries, which are east and west of it. On each side the Avenue de Neuilly and the grand walk of the garden, are situated, upon the square, four large pedestals, sustaining four prancing horses held down by grooms. At the south side of the square are seen the beautiful bridge Louis Seize, the Chamber of Deputies, and the long series of sumptuous buildings, which line the quays on that part of the Seine. On the north are two splendid edifices, each of them two hundred and eighty 71 6(6)r 71 feet in length, separated by the Rue Royale, which is ninety feet in width. Both these edifices are beautifully ornamented, and are of most admirable construction. Between them are seen, from the square, the lofty columns of the church of La Madelaine. The centre of the Place Louis Quinze was formerly decorated with a bronze statue of Louis Fifteenth; but it was destroyed at the revolution. Another statue of that monarch was commenced in its place by Louis Eighteenth, which is not yet completed. Upon the very spot, that this unfinished monument now occupies, was placed the guillotine, during the reign of terror.
It is impossible for me to describe to you the sensations, which thronged upon my heart, as I stood upon this celebrated spot, nor the chill, which crept over my frame, as I recollected the seas of innocent blood which had soaked the soil, and reflected upon those scenes of carnage and murder, the narration of which had so often inspired me with the deepest horror, pity and indignation. Here the ill-fated Louis, the unfortunate Marie Antoinette, the amiable, the lovely Elizabeth, expired in ignominy, amid the taunts and reproaches of a merciless rabble. Here too the blood-thirsty Robespierre and the terrible Danton paid the just penalty of their enormous crimes, even upon the same spot, which they had so often reddened with 72 6(6)v 72 the blood of innocent and hapless victims. Deeply and earnestly did I meditate upon these scenes, long since passed away, and as I turned from the spot, it was with a sigh at the thought of the dreadful excesses, which human beings are capable of, when once a loose is given to lawless and violent passion.
During a walk on the quays and across the Pont des Arts, I saw, among other things, a very fine Camera Obscura upon the Pont des Arts, called the world in miniature, which was made to revolve, so as to give a succession of different views around the bridge; such as the Louvre, the Institute, the Pont Neuf and Pont Louis Seize, the river, and the quays on each side, with the people and carriages passing upon them. It so happened that I also saw another on this same day, which was made and exhibited by a celebrated optician, at a shop opposite the Pont Royal. This was even better than the other, thought the views were not so fine; but the different figures, represented upon it, were more distinct and natural.
The next day I visited the Hotel de Ville. This is a large stone building, situated upon the Place de Greve, celebrated as the spot, upon which executions take place in Paris, and upon which, also, the guillotine was for a time erected during the revolution. Entering the Hotel de Ville by the door fronting upon this square, you ascend a 73 7(1)r 73 flight of steps to a court surrounded by porticos, and from thence to the various other apartments. The Grand Salle is a most elegant hall, the hangings of crimson velvet paper, ornamented with gilded fleurs de lis. The chairs and sofas are of crimson silk. At the two opposite extremities of the hall, over the chimney pieces, are full length portraits of Louis Sixteenth and Louis Eighteenth; and at one side is a small equestrian statue of Henry Fourth, in bronze. The Salle d’Audience contains a bronze statue of Henry Fourth in his youth, and a fine picture of that monarch, receiving the keys of the city from the Mayor. The upper part of the church du St. Esprit, which was added to the Hotel de Ville to enlarge it, presents a beautiful hall, the ceiling painted in fresco,—representing the entrance of the Duke of Angouleme into Madrid, with other scenes of his victories in Spain.
From the Place de Greve we repaired to the Place Royale, which is a fine square of four hundred and thirty-two feet, surrounded by buildings, the fronts of which form a series of pavilions; and upon the ground floor are public piazzas, extending around the square. The buildings on one side were erected by one of the Henrys, as the court residence, and afterwards sold; the remainder of the grounds were also sold, upon the condition that pavilions should be erected to compare with those built by the King, which was done, and of 7 74 7(1)v 74 course the buildings are all of uniform appearance. In the centre of the square is just completed an equestrian statue of Louis Thirteenth, enclosed within a railing of iron. The pedestal was yet unfinished, and the statue covered, in the mean time, with a white sheet, which concealed it from our view.
Entering the Rue St. Antoine, we pursued our way to the Bastille, another of those spots rendered forever memorable, by the great events of which it has been the theatre. In approaching the Place de la Bastille you observe a large building in the midst of it, which contains the famous Elephant Fountain, or rather plaister model of the colossal bronze elephant, intended by Napoleon to have ornamented the centre of the Place de la Bastille. The height of this huge animal was to have been more than seventy-two feet, including the tower, which he was to support, and each leg to measure six feet in diameter. A winding stair-case to the tower was intended to be placed in one of the legs, and the water was to issue from the trunk. The plaister model is of the above dimensions, except that there is no tower upon the back. It is truly a most wonderful and admirable production of art, and amply repaid a visit. Models of the bas-reliefs, twenty- four in number, which were to have ornamented the pedestal, are contained in the same building with the elephant. At a little distance from it, 75 7(2)r 75 in the centre of the square, is what was to have been the foundation of that mighty monument. It is a large circular construction of masonry, placed upon an arch over the canal of St. Martin. Winding stair-cases, now overgrown with weeds, and half blocked up with rubbish, lead to the water below. Under the hill, upon which the Bastille stood, there is a tunnel formed, through which we walked upon the wide towing path on one side. I need not add, with what deep interest we viewed the site of that celebrated prison-house, and you may well imagine the long train of reflections to which it gave rise.
Previous to the fete of St. Louis on the 1829-08-2525th of August, it is usual to set in motion the large fountains, or great waters as they are called, in the park of Versailles; and we embraced the occasion for seeing the palace and gardens.
We left our lodgings early in the morning; but finding that the diligence did not start for Versailles until eleven o’clock and we had two hours left upon our hands, we proceeded to the Louvre to examine the Galerie d’Angouleme. This is a succession of neat apartments, with a fine collection of statues, the works of modern artists.— some of them are really very beautiful, and scarcely any but have claims to merit in a greater or less degree.
Our two hours having passed off very pleasantly in the examination of these statues, we returned76 7(2)v 76 turned to the place, from whence the diligence was to depart, and finding it in readiness, we took our places in the coupee and soon were on our way to Versailles. The diligence we found extremely convenient and easy, with spring seats, and by keeping all the windows fast closed, we contrived to avoid the flying clouds of dust, with which the atmosphere was completely filled. We crossed over the new bridge at Sevres, and in passing St. Cloud, had a good view of the obelisk in the park, and of the two fine pavilions, which make the entrance into the park from the village of Sevres. A very rapid and pleasant ride brought us at length to Versailles, which is approached by a handsome avenue.
We alighted at the Place d’Armes, situated in front of the palace. Entering the vestibule of the palace, we ascended a flight of steps at the right hand, and finding a party just commencing the round of the apartments, we joined them; and, guided by one of the attendants, of whom there are a number constantly at the palace to show visitors through it, and point out every thing that is to be seen, free of compensation, we proceeded first to the chapel, which is very splendid, and ornamented in various parts with paintings and bas-reliefs. The ceiling is vaulted and contains a numver of windows, through which the light is admitted, as well as by windows at the sides of the chapel, above and below the galleries. The 77 7(3)r 77 floor is composed of variegated marbles. The royal pew in front of the altar is richly adorned, and an organ, placed above the altar, is very handsome and beautifully ornamented.
From the chapel we passed through a suit of rooms called the Queen’s apartments, and afterwards into those of the King. I shall not attempt to describe minutely the endless number of superb apartments, each of which would require hours of examination, fully to appreciate its beauties. The ceilings of most of them are splendidly painted, and they are likewise adorned with pictures and other ornaments of great beauty and richness. In fact it is impossible to imagine any thing of the kind more magnificent, than every part of this once favored residence of kings and princes; and it only wants the rich furniture, with which it was formerly adorned, to complete its perfect elegance and splendor.
The grand gallery, two hundred and twenty two feet in length, is enriched with beautiful paintings and statues, and opposite the seventeen large windows, opening upon the garden, are an equal number of large mirrors, in form of arcades, which, of course, reflect all that part of the garden within range of the windows. Between the mirrors and windows are marble pilasters, with gilt capitals and bases. The paintings upon the ceiling represent the most remarkable events in the reign of Louis Fourteenth.7* 78 7(3)v 78
The chamber in which the monarch died, and the sleeping apartments of Louis Fifteenth and Louis Sixteenth, are also pointed out, which although considerably ornamented, are quite plain compared with many other parts of the palace.
The manner in which you are hurried through these apartments, with a large company, renders it entirely impossible to enjoy it as you would do, if quite alone and at your leisure. We however were quite fortunate in finding, at our return to the vestibule, a number of our American friends, with whom we again made the circuit of the rooms, thus having the opportunity of viewing them twice; but even then we could see them but very imperfectly, as the guide hastens on from one to the other as fast as possible, in order that he may return to conduct another party.
We now passed from the palace into the garden. And here the eye roves from side to side, in delighted and wondering admiration of the continued variety of beautiful objects, with which this enchanting spot is adorned. Gushing fountains, whose silver waters stream high in air, and after sparkling for a moment in the sunbeams, fall again in brilliant showers or sheets upon groups of polished marble, seem to surround you, wherever you turn your gaze; with here a verdant lawn, and there a beautiful terrace or lovely sheet of water, bordered with marble vases, with water- nymphs and naiads, while the most delightful 79 7(4)r 79 groves, laid out in agreeable and diversified walks, invite you to seek shelter from the burning rays of the sun within their cool and delicious shades.
After pursuing one of these charming walks and enjoying for a time the first view of the numerous delights of the garden, we repaired to the Grand Trianon, which is a beautiful building, one story in height, consisting of a central body and two wings, terminated by pavilions, and the whole handsomely decorated. It was built by Louis Fourteenth for Madame de Maintenon, and was afterwards the favorite retreat of Louis Fifteenth and Louis Sixteenth, and also of Napoleon. The different apartments, of which there are a great number, are ornamented with pictures, and some of them beautifully tapestried with crimson, blue, lilac or green, embroidered with gold or silver, and with chairs to match. The sleeping apartment of Marie Antoinette is still precisely in the same state in which she left it. The hangings and chairs are crimson damask and the bed curtains of white silk. The pleasure grounds belonging to this palace are extensive and agreeable.
The Petit Trianon, not far from the other, is much smaller, and in form of a pavilion. It was built by Louis Fifteenth, and after his death was presented by Louis Sixteenth to his Queen. The grounds are most singularly, but delightfully, laid out, in a great variety of scenery. At one spot 80 7(4)v 80 you see a lofty rock, which has every appearance of belonging naturally to the place, with water oozing from its crevices and emptying itself, by little rivulets, into a lake below. Then again you see groves of trees, with seats beneath their shade, and all varieties of hill, dale, and lawn, of perfectly natural appearance. And yet this is all artificial, and formed entirely under the eye and by the taste of the Queen.
A little farther on you come to Swiss scenery, with a small hamlet in the midst, of most rural aspect, and which was actually occupied, when first built, by Swiss peasants. At one side you see the marble dairy, in which Marie Antoinette used to act the part of the dairy-maid; and at the other the mill, where the illustrious miller, Louis Eighteenth, performed his labors. Louis Sixteenth and the present King, then Count d’Artois, also took part in these certainly harmless pastimes, which it was the delight of Marie Antoinette to indulge in; but which obtained for her afterwards many enemies, and were severely censured as unbecoming the dignity of a queen.
Leaving this interesting little place, we returned again to the garden, and wandered about for two or three hours, in spite of some heavy showers of rain, which no one indeed seemed to regard, admiring the beautiful marble groups forming the various fountains; the Orangerie, with its great collection of orange-trees, so regularly 81 7(5)r 81 planted, into which you descend by long flights of steps; and the almost countless succession of walks, absolutely overflowing with people, all as gay and happy as possible, and apparently forgetful of every thing, but the pleasures and amusements of the joyous scene.
At length the hour for the playing of the grand waters approached, and all the world bent their steps thither. Surrounding a large basin of water, except on the side towards the garden, was a sloping bank of great height; and this soon became completely covered in every direction, so that nothing could be seen but an immense concourse of people, forming a vast amphitheatre, and all looking with the utmost eagerness towards the basin. Thousands of persons were assembled upon the occasion, and yet an almost dead silence seemed to prevail, so eager were they to catch the first signal for the playing of the waters. At last it was given, and suddenly the streams were thrown upward from numbers of spouts placed around and in the midst of the basin, while beyond, upon the elevation towards the palace, was a beautiful marble fountain, forming a part of the grand waters, from which a single graceful stream ascended to an extreme height, and fell over the group beneath. It was indeed a splendid sight, and the vast number of persons assembled to witness it, added to the interest and excitement of the scene.82 7(5)v 82
The fountains continued to play for an hour, after which we bade adieu to the varied enchantments of Versailles, and in company with a very pleasant party of our own countrymen, chiefly Bostonians, returned to Paris, which we did not reach until nearly ten o’clock in the evening.
Conservatoire des Arts.—Notre Dame.—Meeting of the Institute.—Saint Etienne du Mont.—Saint Sulpice.—Val de Grace.
The Conservatoire des Arts et Metiers, which we visited on the 1829-08-24twenty-fourth, is a vast collection of models of different kinds, contained in what was formerly the church and buildings of a monastery.
In the centre of the church, in which are seen a number of machines and engines, is the plaister model of a bronze equestrian statue of Louis Fourteenth in armor, erected at Lyons. The head is bare and encircled with a wreath of laurel. From this room we passed into another, in which were the models of the Palais de Justice, a church, and a building of gothic architecture, very neatly and delicately done, and also a finely executed and curious pasteboard model of an enormous pile, partly in ruins, denominated Mont Saint Michel. 83 7(6)r 83 We afterwards passed through a great variety of apartments or galleries, in some of which were looms, carding machines, and things of that description; and others were filled with ploughs, harrows, windmills, cider, wine and oil presses, steam engines, and so forth. In others again there were models of vessels and steam boats, together with models of brick and tile kilns, a pottery, lead works, and a great variety of different kinds of instruments. Many of the articles, exhibited in these various galleries, are very curious and interesting. There is, besides, a private collection, and a school connected with the establishment, for the purposes of instruction in agriculture, mechanics, and other arts and trades, to which the different objects it contains are appropriate.
From the Conservatoire des Arts, we repaired to the church of Notre Dame, or the Cathedral, the same to which the procession walked on the 1829-08-1515th of August. This church, which was only completed after nearly three centuries of unceasing labor, is said to be one of the most splendid monuments of gothic architecture in France. The front consists of two towers, two hundred and four feet in height and forty feet square. These arched doors or porches compose the entrance, each of which is richly and beautifully ornamented. Above these doors are galleries, supported upon columns of the most delicate construction.84 7(6)v 84 struction. Over that in the centre is a circular window, and above the two others are arched entrances into the towers, and these are again surmounted by galleries of the same delicate appearance with those below, and above them rise the two summits of the towers, which, although of the same general aspect, are a little unequal in their height and size. At the top of that part of the roof over the choir, is a gilded iron cross, resting upon a ball, which together are thirty feet in height. From the top of the towers, and from a gallery which extends around the roof, you have a beautiful view of Paris and its environs. The ascent is by a spiral stair-case of three hundred and eighty-nine steps.
The interior of the church is as beautiful as its exterior promises. Its length within the walls is three hundred ninety feet, its breadth one hundred forty-four, without including the chapels, and its height one hudred and two. The arches of the roof are supported by two hundred twenty- eight columns, each of them composed of a single block. At the side of the church, over the aisles, are galleries, which are only used upon particular occasions; and then admittance into them is obtained by tickets.
At the entrance of the choir, which is very magnificent, is a beautiful balustrade of polished iron and gilded brass. The floor of the choir is composed of marble, and in the centre is a gilt 85 8(1)r 85 brass eagle seven feet in height and three and a half in breadth, which serves for a reading desk, the part composing the desk being in the form of a lyre, supported by three angels. The stalls of the canons are most elegantly carved, the subjects which they represent being generally taken from the New Testament. A balustrade of marble separates the sanctuary from the choir, and the pavement of the sanctuary is in mosaic work. Three steps of white marble, spangled with stars of gold, lead to the high altar, and upon the steps are six gilt candlesticks more than four feet in height. Near the altar are two pedestals of white marble, supporting two fine statues, the one of Louis Thirteenth, the other of Louis Fourteenth,—both performing acts of devotion. The sanctuary also contains a beautiful white marble group, representing the Descent from the Cross. The Virgin is seen seated, her arms extended and her eyes raised towards heaven, supporting upon her knees the head of her Son. A kneeling angel sustains one hand of the Savior, while another holds the crown of thorns. Behind is seen the cross, over which is hung a shroud.
In a chapel behind the choir is a very singular marble monument, to the memory of Henri Claude, Count d’Harcourt, erected by his widow. The tomb is represented, the lid of which is opened by an angel, and the body of the Count, in a rising attitude, extends his arms to his wife, who is seen 8 86 8(1)v 86 rushing towards him. Death, under the usual form of a skeleton, appears above the tomb pointing an hour glass. The effect of this monument is far from agreeable or pleasing to the eye. The subject is not well chosen or in good taste.
A monument to the memory of Cardinal du Belloi, Archbishop of Paris, contained in another chapel, is very much more splendid and beautiful. It is also composed of white marble, and represents the venerable figure of the Archbishop upon a sarcophagus, bestowing alms upon an aged woman, who is supported by a young girl. His left hands rests upon the open Bible. Near him appears St. Denis upon a cloud, holding in his hand a scroll, on which are inscribed the names of the Cardinal’s predecessors.
Before leaving the church we applied to the sacristan to shew us the tresor. He accordingly conducted us to a room, upon the second floor of the church, in which were arranged in cases a large collection of sacred vessels and ornaments of various kinds, of the richest gold and silver, beautifully wrought; a great number of which were presented to the church by Bonaparte. There was also a brilliant golden sun, presented by Louis Eighteenth. Among the sacred relics, likewise contained in these cases, is a part of the Savior’s crown of thorns and of the true cross, or rather what are alleged to be such.
The coronation robes of Napoleon and Josephine87 8(2)r 87 phine, the robes worn by the Pope on that occasion, and the coronation robes of Charles Tenth, are exhibited in the same apartments, and are kept in large drawers, which are circular, and turn round instead of drawing out, that the gold, and other ornaments upon the dresses, may not be injured by being handled. These robes are all very rich and splendid; but those of Napoleon and Josephine by far the most so. They were presented by Napoleon to the church of Notre Dame.
On 1829-08-25Tuesday, the 25th, was the annual meeting of the Institute, for the purpose of adjudging certain prizes. The prize for the best poem, upon the invention of printing, was actually adjudged and the poem read at the meeting. Various prizes of virtue were likewise adjudged to poor persons; that is, prizes for peculiarly virtuous actions, among that class of people, which had come to the knowledge of the Institute, within the year. Prizes for dissertations were not accorded, as none were offered of sufficient merit to entitle them to the reward.
The hall, in which this meeting was held, occupies the space beneath the dome of the Institute, and was formerly a church. The chapels on three sides are now converted into galleries or seats for spectators, raised one above the other; and at each side of the centre of the hall are circular seats for the members of the Institute. 88 8(2)v 88 The hall was quite crowded upon this occasion, and I became excessively fatigued before the exercises were concluded. The air was very close and oppressive, and we were obliged to wait an hour or more after taking our seats, before the members entered the hall.
When the report was read, it was impossible for me to follow it, though I had read a copy before me, from the continued laughing and talking of those around me; and in addition to this, M. Andrieux, who read the report, had a very disagreeable voice, which was rendered doubly so by a hoarse cold, which obliged him frequently to stop, and once he made an apology to the audience, by saying that though his voice was never strong, it was now much less so than usual, from the severe cold, with which he was afflicted. After the report was read, there was an address by the celebrated Cuvier, who sat during the time he was delivering it, a mode to me quite new and singular. After the address the prize poem was read, by M. Lemercier, and with this the meeting closed.
My ideas of the far famed politeness of the French were much changed, I will assure you, by this day’s experience. I have already mentioned that, while the report was reading, there was an incessant buzzing and laughing, which was still continued while the address was pronounced, and at the reading of the poem; which 89 8(3)r 89 I cannot think very good manners. And during the hour before the commencement of the exercises, there was such a pushing one way and the other, such an entire want of accommodation to the convenience and comfort of those around, and such a rudeness of manner among the gentlemen, as I have seldom met with; and which very much surprized me, in a country, where I had expected to find it entirely the reverse, from having so often heard, that even the lowest classes in France were remarkable for their politeness. I did not, however, regret having attended the meeting, uncomfortable as it was, it being the only opportunity I had of seeing Cuvier and the other members of the renowned French Academy. Most of them were venerable looking men, whose silver locks proclaimed advanced years; but whose situation also bespoke the possession of high talent and deep learning. They were all dressed alike, in a costume of black embroidered with green, which they always wear upon public occasions.
The next day I employed in visiting a great variety of objects, among which the churches of St. Etienne du Mont, St. Sulpice, Val de Grace, Genevieve, and the house, in which lived Eloisa and Abelard, were more particularly interesting. The latter interests from association alone, as the house itself has nothing in its appearance to please the eye, and the court is excessively8* 90 8(3)v 90 sively dirty and offensive. Over the gate of the court are these words: Heloise, Abeillard, modeles precieux des sinceres amantes, habiterent ces lieux l’an 1118. Within the court, on one side of the house, is a double head of Abelard and Eloisa, with their names beneath it.
The church of St. Etienne, to which I have just alluded, has been the burial place of many eminent persons, among whom are Boileau and Pascal, whose monuments are contained in the chapel dedicated to the Virgin. They merely consist of plain, simple tablets. The church itself is very lofty and handsome. The roof, however, is supported upon pillars altogether too small for the size of the building. To conceal this defect, a gallery has been constructed upon them, which has not, I think, produced the desired effect, and which injured very much the appearance of the church. The pulpit is handsomely carved and quite remarkable. It is supported by a colossal figure, a representing Sampson, with his knee resting upon a lion.
In the chapel of Genevieve is a curious ancient tomb of that saint, said to have been constructed in the sixth century. It was surrounded, at the top, by a great quantity of small burning tapers, which were sold by an old woman, stationed near the tomb, to those who wished to burn them upon this consecrated shrine. A number of persons purchased these tapers, while we were 91 8(4)r 91 in the church, and placed upon the tomb.
The painted glass windows of the different chapels in this church, and also those of a covered gallery attached to it, are greatly admired and very beautiful.
The church of St. Sulpice possesses much that is interesting. The choir is of very large dimensions, and separated from the nave by a bronze railing. The chief altar is of marble, ornamented with beautiful gilt bas-reliefs. In front is a tabernacle of gilded bronze, representing the ark of the covenant.
Among the chapels which are particularly worthy of note, are three painted in fresco, of much beauty. One is dedicated to St. Roch, another to St. Maurice, and the third to St. Vincent de Paule. In the first, St. Roch is seen in a hospital at Rome, praying for the healing of those persons infected with the plague, and opposite is represented a prison, in which the saint is seen stretched out on his bed of straw, having just expired. Above the altar is his funeral procession, and upon the ceiling his ascent to heaven. In the next chapel are painted St. Maurice and other saints, his companions, refusing to sacrifice to false gods, and their massacre by the Roman army. Angels are represented upon the ceiling, bearing palms to the martyred saints. Over the altar is a statue of St. Maurice. The third chapel of this description, represents St. Vincent 92 8(4)v 92 de Paule addressing the Dames de Charite in behalf of foundlings, and the same saint attending Louis Thirteenth in his dying moments. Upon the ceiling is his apotheosis.
In the chapel of St. John the Baptist, is a splendid monument to the memory of Languet de Gergy, a pastor of the church for a period of thirty-five years. It is composed of a cenotaph upon which is his statue in a kneeling attitude, with the eyes raised towards heaven. On one side is an angel, who lifts a black pall, and on the other a figure of death. The whole is surmounted by an obelisk. Next is the chapel of the Virgin, in which is a beautiful white marble statue of the Virgin and Child standing, surrounded by clouds, within a recess, into which the light is admitted from above. The effect is very striking and peculiar. The altar of white marble is handsomely ornamented.
This church contains a number of good pictures, and of these two were particularly interesting to me. The one, St. Fiacre, the son of Eugenius Fourth of Scotland, refusing the crown offered him by the Scotch after his father’s death; the other, St. Charles Borromeo, during the siege of Milan, carrying away in his arms a child, whom he found alive with its dead parents.
Near the nave of the church are two large shells, for holy water, which are very curious and remarkable, and were presented by the Republic93 8(5)r 93 lic of Venice to Francis First. They are of immense size, scalloped at the edges, and of a delicate yellow tinge on the inside. The pulpit is likewise quite curious, having no other support than the two flights of steps leading to it. At the entrance of the sacristy are two fine statues of St. Peter and St. John
The church of Val de Grace, though not very large, is among the most beautiful in Paris. On each side the nave are three arches, above which are bas-reliefs, with figures as large as life. Over the high altar is a rich canopy, supported by marble columns, with bronze capitals and bases, and each column ornamented with a bronze angel of the natural size. The dome, beautifully painted in fresco, represents heaven, and contains more than two hundred colossal figures. It is likewise ornamented with bas-reliefs of the four Evangelists. There is something strikingly grand in the whole appearance of this church, combined with great simplicity of architecture and decoration. It was founded by Anne of Austria, the mother of Louis Fourteenth, and the first stone was laid by this prince at the age of seven years.
Sainte Genevieve.—Pillory.—Column of the Place Vendome.— Palais de l’Elysee Bourbon.—Chamber of Deputies.—Gallery of the Luxembourg.—Chamber of Peers.—Garden of the Luxembourg.—School of Medicine.
The last church, which I shall mention, is the magnificent one of St. Genevieve or the Pantheon. The form of this splendid edifice is that of a Greek cross. Its length, including the portico in front, is three hundred and forty feet, and its breadth two hundred and fifty. The portico is ornamented with twenty-two fluted columns, fifty-eight feet in height and five and a half in diameter. A dome, more than sixty-two feet in diameter, rises from the centre of the building, and is surrounded by thirty-two columns; above it is a cupola, surmounted by a lantern, at the summit of which are an immense ball and cross of bronze gilt, surrounded by a balustrade of the same. The cross is fourteen feet and a half in elevation.
The interior of the church corresponds in grandeur and beauty with its noble exterior. It is divided into four naves, and the roof is supported by fluted columns. The floor is beautifully paved with marble and stone alternately. A railing of steel and brass separates the choir from the chief nave. The painting of the platform of the dome is finely executed. The price paid for it was 95 8(6)r 95 one hundred thousand francs, and the artist, Gros, was created a baron by the present King after the first visit he made to the church. All the figures are of colossal size; but from the great height of the dome above the pavement of the church beneath, they appear from thence of the proper proportions. The dome was at first supported by four columns so small that several fractures were discovered in them when the church was nearly completed. The small columns were then replaced by solid masses, which are ornamented with pilasters.
Upon one of these masses is a beautiful little piece of tapestry, representing St. Genevieve in the dress of a shepherdess, which is so delicately done as to appear precisely like a painting, except upon very close examination. Opposite this is a very inappropriate and singular ornament for a church, namely, a piece of tapestry worked by Marie Antoinette. It possesses no particular beauty in itself, and is only valuable as having been done by her hand. This fact, however, scarcely entitles it to so much veneration, as to render it deserving a place in a sacred edifice.
Beneath the pavement of this church are a subterranean chapel, galleries, and sepulchral vaults. In each of the vaults, which are six in number, are six large tombs, where are deposited the remains of great men who have been particularly illustrious for their talents, virtues, or military 96 8(6)v 96 achievements. Mirabeau, Voltaire, Rousseau, were here interred, as well as many eminent characters in the time of Napoleon. It was with deep emotion, we gazed upon these monuments of departed genius; and this feeling was much increased by the peculiarly solemn appearance of the vaults, only rendered visible by the flickering rays of the candle, by which we were conducted through the dark and silent galleries, and by the uncertain light, which was thrown upon them from small loop-holes in the walls.
Beneath the dome are two galleries, one within another, in the form of a labyrinth, and in the centre is a circular area, from which the slightest sound is echoed in a manner more loud and distinct, than any I ever before heard. Our guide spoke a few words in a very low tone, and each word was so clearly and distinctly repeated, that it was almost impossible to believe it other than a human voice. He then struck the skirt of his coat, quite lightly, with a small stick, and the report was like the roar of a cannon, or the heaviest thunder. He repeated this several times, after which we left these dark abodes of the dead, and, preceded by the guide, ascended to the lantern at the summit of the church.
Around the top of the dome, on the outside of which are stair cases, is a raised gallery, from which you can plainly see the painting of the platform, and have, for the first time, a distinct 97 9(1)r 97 idea of the large size of the figures which compose it. It is divided into four different groups, and in each of them is some celebrated monarch of France, whose accession to the throne, or whose reign, has formed an era in French history. In one you see Clovis embracing christianity; in another, Charlemagne and his Queen; in the third St. Louis; and in the fourth Louis Eighteenth, the Duchess of Angouleme and the infant Duke of Bordeaux. All these different figures are paying homage to St. Genevieve, who descends towards them upon a cloud. Above are the celestial regions, in which are seen Louis Sixteenth, Marie Antoinette, their son Louis Seventeenth and Madame Elizabeth. The distance from the platform to the pavement of the church, upon which you look down from the gallery, is upwards of two hundred feet, which shows the necessity of painting the figures of such magnitude as to make them appear at all distinct when seen from below.
From this gallery we ascended to another, which surrounds the lantern, and thence into the lantern itself. The view from both is the same, only that in the latter you have rather more the feeling of security, than when standing in the open gallery, where it appears that the slightest wind would blow you from the dizzying height. But one can scarcely have time for the indulgence of fear, even were there actual danger, 9 98 9(1)v 98 so absorbing is the feeling of admiration at the magnificent prospect stretched out before you. You have at your feet the immense city, with its almost continual succession of gardens, whose green foliage presents a most pleasing variety, amid the world of buildings which surround them. The country in the distance is very beautiful, and seen from here to the greatest advantage. In fact, it is only from the summit of this church, that one can have a full idea of the wonderful size of Paris, and the most extensive view of its environs. From the tower of Notre Dame the view is indeed delightful; but not so vast as from the Pantheon, where you take in with one glance, as it were, almost the whole city.
Here we remained for a long time, enjoying the boundless prospect around us, and then, after descending and taking a farther view of the interior of the church, we directed our course to Rue d’Artois.
Early the next morning we repaired to the Place Vendome, and ascended the column, by a spiral stair-case, scarce wide enough for two persons to pass each other without some difficulty. There is no light admitted for the whole distance to the top; but you are provided with a small lantern by the person who has charge of the column; and who keeps one always in readiness in a little room, which is, in fact, the interior of the pedestal. The view from the column is very 99 9(2)r 99 pretty; but of course not nearly so extensive or fine as from Notre Dame and the Pantheon, the elevation being very much less.
From thence we visited the Palais de l’Elysee Bourbon, so called from its vicinity to the Champs Elysees. This palace was the residence of the Duke of Berri, to whom it was given by Louis Eighteenth. Since the assassination of the Duke, the apartments occupied by him and the Dutchess have remained untenanted, the Dutchess having since that time resided in the Tuileries, when at Paris. These apartments are all most richly and elegantly decorated with beautiful silk hangings of various colors, with furniture to match. The time-pieces, of which there are a great number adorning the different rooms, are remarkably beautiful, and indeed every thing contained in the apartments is truly superb and in the best taste.
Their most valuable ornament, however, is a sumptuous collection of Dutch and Flemish pictures, which attract the admiration of connoiseurs, and are considered the finest collection of the kind in Paris. They are all handsomely framed, and form a really beautiful decoration to the rooms. But it is impossible to examine these pictures in the ordinary manner in which strangers visit the palace. You are hurried along from room to room, with only just time to take a cursory survey of each. This is to be sure sufficient100 9(2)v 100 ficient to give a general idea of the whole; but the pictures are altogether too fine to be thus hastily passed over. Nevertheless, you are obliged to be content with what you can see, as it is impossible to examine them as you would. In one of the apartments is a miniature park of artillery, belonging to the young Duke of Bordeaux, enclosed within a large glass case. The garden is large and handsomely laid out. I did not, however, enter it; but could see it from the windows.
We next proceeded to the Chamber of Deputies in the Palais Bourbon, which is beautifully situated upon an eminence, with the Pont Louis Seize in front. The facade of this edifice is very grand and imposing, and the fore-ground is ornamented with statues. Those of Justice and Prudence are of colossal size; but the black tinge, which the statues, as well as the building itself, have acquired by time, very much injures the effect. The Chamber of Deputies is in the form of an amphitheatre, and the light is admitted from above. It was, when I saw it, in great disorder, being in the act of undergoing thorough repair, as the wood work was all found to be decaying. It is to be rebuilt of stone. The ornaments of this hall are not particularly numerous or remarkable. It contains, however, statues of Lycurgus, Solon, Demosthenes, Brutus, Cato, and Cicero, and back of the President’s chair are 101 9(3)r 101 marble busts of Louis Sixteenth, Seventeenth, and Eighteenth.
Besides the Chamber of Deputies, we passed through a series of halls, embellished with pictures, statues, and other ornaments. In the Salle de la Victoire is a large bust of the Duke of Berri, with his last words inscribed upon it. They were as follows: J’avais espere verser mon sang pour la France. Opposite is a statue of Henry Fourth, with this inscription: Le violent amour que je porte a mes sujets me fait tout trouver aise et honorable. The Salle de la Paix contains a good picture of the death of Socrates, and one of Hero and Leander. At one side of the room are two fine bronze groups of Laocoon, and of Arria and Pætus.
Part of the ensuing day (1829-08-28August 28th) was delightfully occupied, in visiting the beautiful palace and garden of the Luxembourg. The gallery of pictures, to which we first directed our attention, is indeed magnificent. The pictures are contained in a variety of different apartments, which are also ornamented with statues, though few in number. Like the gallery of the Louvre, the pictures, here contained, are too numerous to warrant a description of them. Although there are some in the gallery of little merit, still the greater part are extremely beautiful, and we employed many hours very delightfully in their examination. Among the less meritorious paintings 9* 102 9(3)v 102 were many, in which were portrayed the different members of the royal family. In one of these, which had for its subject the death of the Duke of Berri, were portraits of the Duchess and the young Mademoiselle d’Artois. The likenesses in these were generally good; but the pictures otherwise not particularly superior.
From the gallery we repaired to the Chamber of Peers, in the same edifice, which is also called Palais de la Chambre des Pairs. A most splendid stair-case conducts to the Chamber and the apartments connected with it. On each side of the stair-case are beautiful statues and military trophies, and it is also adorned with eight recumbent lions. The Salle des Seances, or Chamber of Peers, is ornamented with statues, and contains a good bust of the King in white marble; but the general aspect of the room is nor remarkably handsome or striking. The other apartments are, however, very handsomely decorated, and among them is one in which the hangings, sofas, and chairs all represent different Roman scenes. This is a very beautiful apartment, more so than any of the others.
The garden of the Luxembourg is a charming place, arranged with much taste, and affords a delightful and retired promenade, to which great crowds of persons constantly resort. The grounds are more spacious than those of the Tuileries; but the garden, as a whole, is not so beautiful. 103 9(4)r 103 It is ornamented, like the Tuileries, with flower beds, grass plats, orange trees, fountains and statues; but it is not so diversified or picturesque. Had I not first visited the former, this would appear to me the most agreeable place of the kind I had ever seen. It is indeed worthy of admiration, and some persons even give it the preference over the Tuileries.
The School of Medicine, which I next saw, is a most beautiful building, situated upon a court, and ornamented in front with columns and bas-reliefs. The Cabinet of Anatomy, which it contains, is very extensive and remarkable, and much admired by those who have a taste for such things, of whom, however, I do not profess to be one. It is a subject, in which I could never feel particular interest; still I could not but appreciate the value of such a collection, in showing the different diseases, to which the human frame is subjected, and in imparting a store of useful information, in a branch of knowledge so highly important, and so essential to the happiness and comfort of the whole human species: for who is there among us, who has not known the hour of sickness and disease, or that has not looked with affectionate gratitude upon the skilful hand, that has been instrumental in restoring us to health and to the enjoyment of life?
Abbeye of St. Denis.—Hotel des Invalides.—Jardin des Plantes.
We appropriated a pleasant day (1829-08-30August 30th) to the business of visiting the church of St. Denis, situated in the village of that name, two leagues from Paris.
This celebrated church, for many centuries the burying-place of the monarchs of France, is most majestic and noble in its architecture, and abounds with objects of the deepest interest. On the left hand of the door, at entering, you see a curious tomb of King Dagobert, in form of a gothic portico, and ornamented with a series of bas-reliefs, one above the other, of the most singular designs. Opposite is a similar one of Nanthildis, his Queen. Advancing still to the left, you come to two splendid marble monuments of Louis Twelfth and Anne of Brittany, and of Henry Second and Catherine de Medicis. They occupy two chapels adjoining each other, the ceilings of which are blue, spangled with gilded fleurs de lis, and the windows of blue stained glass. These monuments are similar in their form, which is that of a temple. On each side of that of Louis and Anne are four arches, and at the ends two. Within each arch is a small figure. At the top are statues of the 105 9(5)r 105 two sovereigns kneeling with clasped hands, while beneath they are seen sleeping in death side by side. The figures of Henry and Catherine, in the adjoining chapel, are in precisely the same attitude with these, and the monuments differ very little from each other. On the opposite side is another beautiful tomb, also a temple in form, to the memory of Francis First and Claude, his Queen. They are seen kneeling on the top, with their three children.
But sumptuous as are these monuments, they are far exceeded in richness and elegance by that of William First at Delft, and the latter has also the advantage of being placed in a situation much better adapted to display all its beauty. The chapels at St. Denis, that contain the monuments which I have mentioned, are in themselves very beautiful; but their obscurity renders it quite impossible to distinguish all the ornaments upon the tombs, unless you are within the railing; while at Delft you may see every part of the monument, with perfect ease, even at a considerable distance from it.
Passing from the tomb of Francis and Claude, you enter by a small door into a space between the choir and nave, where stand the bier and pall of Louis Eighteenth, which are so placed as to be a conspicuous object, in almost every part of the church. It is composed of a kind of awning of black velvet, beneath which is the representation106 9(5)v 106 sentation of a coffin covered with a rich black velvet pall. This is always placed here after the death of a king, and remains until the death of his successor, consequently it is permanently fixed. Just opposite is an altar for saying mass to the deceased monarch. This altar is very beautifully constructed of white marble, with gilding and inlaid work of much richness. The high altar, which was erected for the marriage of Bonaparte with Maria Louisa, and presented by him to the church, is also extremely rich. The marble of which it is composed, and the bronze ornaments which decorate it, are very beautiful.
But not the least interesting part of this ancient church, are the subterranean chancels and vaults, containing a great number of monuments of the French kings from very remote ages. In the first vault is the tomb of Clovis, the first christian monarch, and after that follow a long succession of cells or recesses, with one or more monuments in each, all of the same construction. They are generally plain black marble cenotaphs, upon which are stretched out at length white marble statues, their heads clasped upon their breasts, and their feet resting upon a lion, dog, or some other animal. Although these tombs are without ornament of any kind, and possess little or no beauty of appearance, yet the effect is peculiarly striking and impressive. The royal vault, which was intended by Bonaparte as 107 9(6)r 107 the burial-place of himself and family, now contains, among others, the remains of Louis Sixteenth, Marie Antoinette, Louis Eighteenth, and the Duke of Berri. The vault is closed up by slabs of black marble.
In a chapel, enclosed by an iron railing, is seen the coffin of the Prince of Conde. For what reason it is thus exposed, I could not learn. A lamp is kept continually burning in the vault, which increases the air of solemnity, which reigns around this abode of the royal dead. The whole scene is replete with interest, and cannot be viewed without emotion. The examination of the different parts of the church occupied us for two or three hours, when we again returned to Paris.
On the following day, I was charmed by a visit to the Hotel des Invalides. This splendid establishment is appropriated as an asylum for invalid soldiers, who, after having fought the battles of their country, and become crippled or otherwise disabled in her service, are here provided with every comfort, which their situation can require, and pass their old age free from labor and care, in one of the most superb edifices their country affords. It is approached by a fine esplanade of great extent, shaded with trees. Entering the outer gate you pass to the vestibule, which conducts to a spacious court, surrounded by buildings of the utmost grandeur and beauty. 108 9(6)v 108 Each range is ornamented with arcades, forming galleries; and each of the outside fronts, as well as the dome, is decorated with military trophies and other emblems, in reference to the object of the institution. Statues, columns, and pilasters are not wanting to complete the beauty of the building. The lantern at the top of the dome is surmounted by a gilt spire and cross.
We first entered the refectories or eating rooms, which were occupied with round tables, neatly spread, with twelve pewter plates to each. These are, of course, for the soldiers, as the officers are served in a better style, and the upper officers may take their repasts in their own rooms. Each refectory is ornamented with a succession of pictures, in fresco, all relating to the battles of Louis Fourteenth. The Council Chamber, and two rooms adjoining it, contain the portraits of the deceased marshals of France. The portrait of each marshal is retained in the Salle des Marechaux in the Tuileries, until the period of his death, when it is removed to the Hotel des Invalides. The library, which contains about twenty- thousand volumes, was founded by Bonaparte. The sleeping chambers and infirmaries I did not enter; but they are all upon a very extensive plan, and no pains are spared to render them well aired and comfortable.
The two churches, belonging to the hospital, one of which is situated beneath the dome, are 109 10(1)r 109 contiguous, and only separated by a high altar of exquisite beauty, with a front to each church. These altars are of white marble, with beautiful gilt bas-reliefs and other ornaments, and placed within six gilt columns, three to each side, in form of a triangle. These columns are ornamented with beautiful spiral wreaths, and at the top are six angels, eight feet in height, four of them upholding the drapery of an elegant canopy, and the other two bearing censers in their hands. Above the canopy are two cherubims, supporting a globe, with a cross upon the summit. The pulpit of the first church, or Eglise Ancienne, as it is called, is likewise a brilliant object. It is composed of white marble, covered with stars of gold. Around the upper part is a gilt band of bas-reliefs. The sounding board is in the form of a canopy, supported by four marble pillars, with gilded capitals and bases, and above it a gilt crown.
But the beauty of this church is almost entirely eclipsed by the splendor of the dome, which is truly admirable. At each side are circular chapels, entered by large open arches, above which are bas-reliefs, and columns placed on each side uphold a gallery, with a gilt balustrade. Each chapel is ornamented with paintings, representing different incidents in the lives of the saints, to whom they are respectively dedicated, and also with medallions and gilded bas-reliefs.
In the chapels of the Virgin and of St. Theresa 10 110 10(1)v 110 are two fine monuments to the memory of Marshals Vauban and Turenne. The former is an obelisk of blue stucco. An urn of white marble, placed upon the summit of a column, contains the heart of Vauban, and a tablet of black marble is inscribed with only the single word Vauban. The monument of Turenne represents him expiring, supported by the figure of Immortality, who crowns him with a laurel wreath. It is surmounted by an obelisk, and the basement below, as in the other, bears for inscription the simple name Turenne.
It is impossible to describe the elegant appearance of this church, when standing in the centre of the dome. The pavement is of different colored marbles, beautifully inlaid in various forms. Before you is the splendid altar, already alluded to, and in the two chapels, at the right and left, are seen the noble monuments of Vauban and Turenne, while the entire platform of the dome is richly painted and gilded. The most striking figures are those of the four Evangelists, finely executed, and placed at four opposite sides of the dome, which is likewise embellished with medallions in bas relief, representing the twelve kings of France.
Such is a brief and very inadequate description of this sumptuous establishment, which deserves to be ranked among the noblest institutions of France, and I may say of the world.111 10(2)r 111
On the 1829-08-3131st we repaired to the Jardin des Plantes, in spite of the threatening indications of rain, which had molested us more or less every day since we had been in Paris.
It requires a far abler pen than mine to do justice to this truly wonderful establishment, which, while it forms the most charming resort, and affords the highest gratification and amusement, to all ages and ranks, is at the same time a source, from whence flow the most abundant streams of information and useful knowledge, in the highest branches of science. Its cabinets, lectures, and other advantages are freely open, for the benefit and enjoyment of all.
The garden is of vast extent, and contains all the most rare and beautiful plants, shrubs, and trees of every description, which are found in the world. These are arranged in a manner the most delightful and commodious. The trees from various countries border the avenues, and are formed into thickets and hedges in different parts of the garden. The orangery, the green houses, the beautiful groves of forest trees, all are admirably arranged, while the almost endless number of paths, which intersect and cross each other at every turn, form a complete labyrinth, as indeed one part of the garden is called, in which persons may wander for hours, without finding the object of which they are in search, unless thoroughly acquainted with the intricacies of the place.112 10(2)v 112
But it is impossible to enter any of these paths, without being attracted by something so beautiful or so curious, that it cannot be passed by with indifference, and thus the hours glide rapidly away, while you are not in the least sensible of their flight. Here you find a pretty cafe, at which you may refresh yourself after the fatigues of a long walk; and there you see an elegant pavilion on the summit of an eminence, from which a beautiful view is enjoyed. Descending, by a steep declivity, from the pavilion, you come to the famous cedar of Lebanon, which spreads its enormous branches most majestically on all sides of the huge trunk. Now you find yourself in the midst of a number of enclosures, in which are contained varieties of sheep, goats, deer, and other tame animals of rare species, from various countries, which roam about at pleasure, and are kept in a manner the best suited to preserve their health and life, and resembling as nearly as possible the manner in which they exist in their native climates. To each park there is a little building, into which the animals may retire in unpleasant weather and during the night. Again another path conducts you to the menagerie of wild beasts, a second to the aviary, a third to the building called the rotunda, with its enclosures for other wild animals; and, in short, there scarce seems any end to the extent and variety of the place, and the objects of curiosity and interest, 113 10(3)r 113 which it contains. But unfortunately the weather was so inauspicious, that all the animals kept themselves closely housed; and the rain soon commencing to fall in torrents, I was obliged to postpone to another and more favorable time, the pleasure of exploring the garden, and therefore repaired to the cabinet of natural history, which, with the library and other buildings, is connected with the establishment. Probably the world does not contain a collection so rich, so extensive and splendid, as is found in this cabinet. The eye gazes with astonishment and admiration upon the vast number of birds, animals, fishes, reptiles,—the beautiful minerals, precious stones and fossils,—with which the long succession of galleries are filled.
Passing through those containing the fishes and insects, I entered into those for animals. Here I for a moment imagined myself in a menagerie of wild beasts, so perfect was their preservation. The lion, tiger, panther, wolf, bear, hyæna, and other animals of the same savage nature, stood in frightful array before me, enclosed in large glass cases, and their fiery eyes seemed actually to flash with rage, and to express all the ferocity of the living animal. Then there were ourang-outangs, kangaroos, elephants, dromedaries, camels, the lama and the giraffe; the antelope, the zebra, great varieties of deer and goats, collections of monkeys, squirrels and domestic 10* 114 10(3)v 114 cats, of which latter one was in the act of devouring a yellow bird, which she held in her claws; and so perfectly natural were the attitude and appearance of this cat, that any one might easily imagine her actually living. Those animals, which I have mentioned, compose but a very small part of the whole collection; and that of the birds is equally extensive, and more splendid from the beauty and brilliancy of their plumage. The number of birds, which the collection contains, is said to be more than six thousand, all of them wonderfully well preserved, with but very few exceptions. There is no bird, which I ever heard described, that may not be found here, from the little delicate humming bird to the kingly eagle.
We next passed into the gallery of minerals and precious stones, which, in their turn, demand the highest admiration. There were the largest and finest specimens of rock chrystal, which I have ever seen,—a great number of beautiful spars and chrystalized minerals of various kinds, and almost every variety of precious stone, the diamond, the emerald, the sapphire, the ruby, the topaz of different colors, and cups of chrystal, amethyst, and jasper, with valuable specimens of gold, silver, lead, tin, and other metals. These were all beautifully arrayed in cases with glass doors. There were likewise specimens of Spanish marbles, placed in compartments, and forming 115 10(4)r 115 the top of a table, which I particularly admired.
We next viewed the large collection of fossil remains of birds and animals of various known species, and the much more curious and interesting collection of the fossil remains of animals, whose species are no longer known to exist. These have been carefully arranged by M. Cuvier, and form the subject of a celebrated treatise.
The cabinet of comparative anatomy, considered the richest in existence, I did not see, it not being the day, upon which it is open to the public.
It is not possible that too high encomiums can be bestowed upon this most admirable establishment; but it is only by seeing it with your own eyes, that you can have a true sense of its beauty and value.
Model of Saint Petersburg.—French Opera.—Pere la Chaise.— Funeral.—Amaranth Wreaths.
The following morning we visited a collection of plaister models, contained in a part of the Louvre where they are made. These consist of models of all the most celebrated statues and 116 10(4)v 116 other sculptures, and are well worth being seen. Some of them are extremely well done, and particularly that of the beautiful Venetian horses, which formerly crowned the Arc du Carrousel.
From the Louvre we walked to the Place de la Bourse, to see the plan of St. Petersburg, which I had heard much talked of. We entered quite a large room, completely occupied by a table, with only space sufficient between it and the wall to allow persons to pass around it. Upon this table was arranged the miniature representation of St. Petersburg, which those who have seen the city pronounce to be very exact. The houses, churches, and indeed, all the buildings, were made of colored pasteboard, and all the rivers, canals, squares, trees, and streets are exactly delineated. Each of them is numbered, and the proprietor gives you a list of the whole, so that you can know the names, by looking at the numbers on the plan and comparing them with those upon the list. It is a very ingenious and curious invention, and gives you a most exalted idea of the extreme size and splendor of the real city, when you see that the little miniature copy covers so much space, and contains so many buildings, which, small as they are, strike you at once as very beautiful in their architecture and situation.
On the evening of the same day I attended the French Opera, or, as it is called, Academie Royale117 10(5)r 117 ale de Musique. The piece performed was La Muette de Portici, and never was I so perfectly charmed with any theatrical representation whatever, if I except Macready’s Hamlet. The music was, to my ear, very fine, and the scenery splendid beyond description.
The subject of the piece is the insurrection of Massaniello, the fisherman; and during the whole opera you have different views of Naples or its magnificent bay constantly before you. The stage was generally filled with actors, often from one to two hundred being upon it at once. In one scene the marriage of the king of Naples takes place within a church, and around the door is collected a crowd of people, who, at the close of the ceremony, kneel down and join in a hymn, in the sweetest and simplest strains imaginable. In another scene a troop of young girls enter, most beautifully dressed, and eight of them dance before the princess. This dance was a modification of the Spanish bolero, accompanied with castanets. All the movements of the dancers were exceedingly graceful, and in perfect harmony with the music. Other dances in the French style were also performed; but these, though much more difficult, pleased me far less than the bolero. There is so much effort, such an unnatural twisting of the limbs in the French dances, performed upon the stage, that I cannot relish them at all.118 10(5)v 118
Again another scene represents a meeting of the fishermen with their families, upon a beautiful morning, on their return from a cruise in their little boats, which you see moored in the bay. Afterwards, before departing upon a second voyage they sing a charming little song, called the chorus of the fishermen, which you probably have heard in America. A very lively, pretty air also accompanies a market scene, which is one of the best in the piece. All the market people are seen entering with panniers and baskets of fruits and vegetables, and these they place upon the stage, seating themselves around to await their customers.— Beyond are the carriages of the nobles and grandees, rolling proudly along the street. At length the insurrection breaks forth, a battle ensues, and the people are victorious. Massaniello is brought in, mounted upon a horse, superbly clad, and borne around the stage, followed by a concourse of the populace, who proclaim his triumph with loud cries.
Then follows his death, inflicted by his envious companions, and the play closes with a magnificent eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Immense showers of stones are thrown high into the air, buildings are seen falling, and streams of lava descend from every part of the mountain. At the same instant the mute girl, a sister of Massaniello, and who plays an important part in the piece, 119 10(6)r 119 rushes forward, throws herself into the midst of the burning lava,—and the curtain falls.
No description, however accurate, can impart a just idea of this splendid opera, which, as it was the first I ever saw, perfectly enchanted me from the beginning to the end. The music was composed by Aubert, and parts of it are very much admired by the greatest musical amateurs.
On 1829-09-04Friday, the fourth day of September, the day being very fine, and almost the first clear day we have seen for two months past, we visited the cemetery of Pere la Chaise, situated without the barriere d’Aulnay. This beautiful burial-place, which derives its appellation from a Jesuit named Pere la Chaise, formerly propreitor of the land, is one of the most interesting spots I have ever seen. The number of acres, that it contains, are computed to be from eighty to a hundred, and these grounds, agreeably varied with hill and dale, present an almost infinite number of tombs of all descriptions and forms, from the humble grave stone, that marks the resting place of the lowly born, to the sumptuous and elegant mausoleums of wealth, genius, and greatness. Each grave is placed within a little enclosure, planted with roses and other flowering shrubs, and upon all the grave stones are suspended wreaths of amaranth flowers, which are yearly brought by the friends of the deceased, and hung upon the tombs, as emblems of their undying 120 10(6)v 120 affection for those they have loved and lost.
The mournful cypress and the weeping willow are seen in every part of the cemetery, and with the various shrubs, flowers, and garlands, and the delicate whiteness of the marble monuments, present a scene at once beautiful, solemn, and affecting.
We first passed to the tomb of Abeillard and Heloise, which actually contains their united ashes. The form of the tomb is that of a gothic chapel, surrounded with columns, supporting arches, and within is seen a sarcophagus, adorned with bas-reliefs, upon which recline full length statues of the two lovers. The chapel is also ornamented with appropriate bas-reliefs.
Leaving this interesting spot, I wandered about for a long time in different directions, deeply affected by the simple and beautiful lines, which composed the epitaphs of a great number of the tombs, and which parental, filial, or conjugal affection had engraven thereon. Often was my eye attracted by the snow white wreath, always the emblem of maiden innocence and loveliness, while the inscription beneath set forth the grief and anguish of doting parents, at seeing thus cut off, in the morning of life and in all the bloom of youth, the hope and solace of their days. Again a plain white marble column, sometimes accompanied with a marble bust and gilded inscription, denoted, that those who reposed beneath had died 121 11(1)r 121 in early boyhood; and the perfect simplicity and unadorned beauty of these little columns, struck me even more than the rich decorations of many of the large and costly monuments.
Ascending to the most elevated part of the cemetery, we came to the chapel, which is a small building, surmounted by a marble cross. The interior is perfectly plain, and a window in the centre of the roof admits the light. At one side was a kind of altar, at which many persons were burning small wax tapers to their deceased friends.
In front of the chapel is a piece of level ground, where you have a most beautiful view of Paris and the villages in its vicinity; and turning from the abodes of the living, you see at your feet the last sad resting place of thousands of human beings, who, within the narrow confines of the grave, sleep unconscious, as the cold and senseless marble that covers them, of the joys or sorrows, the hopes, fears or passions, that agitate the breasts of even the nearest and dearest they have left behind.
Upon the same eminence with the chapel are a vast number of very splendid monuments, generally of marble; but some of them entirely of iron painted black. Many illustrious names, which the voice of fame has sounded in far distant countries, demanding for them the respect and admiration of the world, are here inscribed; 11 122 11(1)v 122 together with those of female worth, which, unseen by the world and unknown to fame, has made the joy and happiness of the domestic circle, and received the love and veneration of all within the sphere of its influence.
The graves of Moliere and La Fontaine are situated side by side; but no conspicuous or lofty monuments mark the spot.
But it is not to the French alone, that the cemetery of Pere la Chaise is appropriated. Persons from almost every civilized nation are here interred; and not a few from my own country claimed the tribute of a sigh, as I read their names, familiar to my ear, upon the plain white marble stones that marked their graves.
One English monument particularly attracted attention, not from any remarkable beauty in the tomb itself, but that the inscriptions upon it, all taken from Moore’s Melodies, were so beautiful and appropriate. The tomb was of white marble, and the inscriptions in gilded letters. Upon the front was the name of Emma Durant, aged 19 years; and beneath it the following lines:— Long be my heart with thy memory filled,Like the vase in which roses have once been distill’d;You may break, you may ruin the vase if you will;But the scent of the roses will hang round it still. On one side, Weep not for her, whom the veil of the tombIn life’s happy morning has hid from our eyes,Ere sin threw a blight o’er the spirit’s young bloom,Or earth had profaned what was born for the skies. 123 11(2)r 123 —together with the four succeeding lines. On the other side were the eight lines, beginning, It is not the tear at this moment shed,When the green turf has just been laid o’er her,That can tell how beloved is the soul that is fled,Or how deep in our hearts we deplore her.
We entered the cemetery at twelve o’clock, and only left it as the last rays of the setting sun crowned the tops of the trees and monuments, and yet the time was scarcely sufficient to see all that we wished, of this most beautiful and interesting place.
Just after leaving the gate of the cemetery, I observed a procession approaching, which, as it drew near, I found to be the funeral of a young girl. The sides of the hearse were entirely open, and the coffin within was covered with a white pall. The bearers consisted of little girls, of the same apparent age with the deceased, all dressed in white, and each holding in her hand one end of a broad white ribbon, the other end being attached to the coffin. The sight of this young and interesting group, bearing to the silent mannsions of the dead the last remains of a beloved play-mate, was at once simple and affecting, and added still another link to the long chain of mournful, but pleasing, associations, which will ever be connected in my mind with the remembrance of Pere la Chaise.
In continuing to advance homeward, I noticed, for some distance in the vicinity of the cemetery, 124 11(2)v 124 several work shops, in which the various grave stones, columns, and monuments were constructed; and also a large number of females, with small stands before them, all engaged either in selling bunches of amaranth or twining it into wreaths for sale. Thus the peculiarities of this burial place over others, not only impart gratification to the eye and the imagination, but also afford means of subsistence to many, who might otherwise be suffering for the necessaries of life.
Musee Charles Dix.—Interior of the Tuileries.—Cirque Olympique.—Theatre Francais.—La Fayette.
Having obtained permission to see the Musee Charles Dix, we repaired to the Louvre for that purpose (1829-09-05September 5th). This Museum occupies a succession of apartments in the Louvre, which are newly fitted up in a style the most rich and splendid. The ornaments are not all completed; but sufficiently so to give an idea of what the elegance of these apartments will be, when entirely finished. Two years are yet allowed for their completion, with workmen continually employed upon them.
In the centre of the first room we entered, was a table of porphyry, supporting a large vase, and 125 11(3)r 125 around the table was a beautiful mosaic circle, with chariots at equal distances apart, each chariot drawn by a different species of animals: one by a pair of lions, another by a pair of tigers, and others by deer, sheep, and goats, all finely executed. In the same room there were a number of busts, and two large candelabras of white marble, a gift from the officers of the Prussian army, with the medallions and names of Louis de Lescure, and of Louis and Henry de Larochejaquelein.
The Salle des Bijoux contains a very large collection of precious stones in different forms; and a variety of beautiful cups, belonging to the queens of the house of Medici. In the Salle du Sacre, among other large pictures, are two magnificent ones by Gerard: the coronation of Charles Tenth, and the entry of Henry Fourth into Paris. The coloring and execution of both these paintings are admirable. Then follow a succession of rooms, which do not contain very much that is interesting. Then the Salon Royal, in which the remains of the Duke of Berri were exposed after his death. You next enter a suite of apartments, filled with Egyptian curiosities, such as their deities, all varieties of utensils, mummies, ladies’ jewels, and a great number of other curious collections, arranged in large, handsome cases. In nearly all the apartments of the Museum, the ceilings are superbly painted; and 11* 126 11(3)v 126 these, with the great profusion of gilt ornaments, the beautiful marble columns the whole height of the apartments, the richly gilded capitals and bases, produce a more brilliant effect, than can be imagined.
The next week (1829-09-07September 7th) we had the gratification of seeing the interior of the palace of the Tuileries. Entering the vestibule, from the garden, and ascending the broad stair-case to the left, we saw the chapel, which is quite plain; and afterwards made the round of the apartments. Of these the Salle du Trone and the King’s sleeping chamber are much the richest. The Salle des Marechaux contains a succession of portraits of all the living marshals of France; and these, as I have before noticed, are, at their deaths, conveyed to the Hotel des Invalides. The Salle du Trone is hung with crimson, ornamented with gold, and the throne, which is very superb, is overhung by a beautiful canopy of crimson velvet, fringed with gold and strewed with gilded fleur de lis. The ceiling is handsomely painted, and the other decorations of the room are rich and elegant.
The King’s sleeping chamber is hung with purple velvet embroidered with gold. The ceiling is painted and ornamented with gold, and the bed, adorned with purple drapery, is surrounded by a gilded balustrade of great beauty.
The apartments of the Duchess d’Angouleme, 127 11(4)r 127 though tastefully arranged, are not remarkably splendid; and indeed, aside from the rooms above described, I was much disappointed as to the interior beauty of the palace. Neither the furniture nor ornaments are generally so handsome as those in the royal palace at the Hague, and that of Versailles is vastly superior to it in every respect.
But the palace of the Tuileries will ever be regarded with interest so long as a stone of it remains, and scarcely a room through which we passed, but awakened recollections of some terrible scenes of the revolution, transacted within its walls. Here too resided the Emperor Napoleon, in the days of his pride and glory; and this circumstance alone would shed around the spot an interest, of which it could never be deprived.
The same evening I attended the Cirque Olympique, or Franconi’s, for the purpose of witnessing the feats of a remarkable elephant, which attracts more persons to this theatre than to almost any other in Paris. The evening commenced with circus riding, which was not particularly good, although some few of the riders displayed great skill and dexterity. After the exhibition was over, and the circus cleared, a number of men entered, with boards and the proper tools for erecting a temporary pit, which in a few moments was completed, and almost instantly filled with those who had been waiting without during the riding.128 11(4)v 128
All being now in readiness, the curtain was raised and the play commenced. As this was one of the most extraordinary exhibitions of brute sagacity, which I ever witnessed or indeed ever heard of, I shall endeavor, as well as I can recollect, to give you a little sketch of it.
The king of Siam dies and leaves the crown to his son; but another prince also lays claim to it, and determines to destroy the life of his rival. The whole object of the play, which in itself is very inferior, is to place the rightful inheritor in such situations of danger, that escape appears impossible, and then to rescue him by means of the wonderful elephant, which is held in superstitious veneration by the whole kingdom, with the fate of which he is considered in some way connected. Each of the two rivals has his partisans, and at the head of those of the pretender are a large number of priests, who continually urge him on to the destruction of his enemies.
The true prince is betrothed to a young princess, and the first time the elephant is introduced upon the stage, is to take a letter from the princess for her lover, warning him of approaching danger. He marches along with the most majestic air, followed by a crowd of people, and when he approaches the spot where the princess stands, he receives her letter, unperceived by any one, and then retires. But in spite of this warning, the prince falls into the hands of his enemies, and 129 11(5)r 129 is confined in a large box, where he is nearly starved, when the elephant finds him out, tears off the top of the box, and sets him free. He is again made prisoner, and secured in a prison, the grated windows of which open upon the stage. The elephant enters, wrenches apart the iron gratings, and then sits down, in such a manner that his head reaches the window, and his back forms an easy descent to the ground. The attendants of the young prince now descend one after the other, and when he himself appears, the animal rises and bears him off the stage upon his back.
The next scene of any consequence represents a contest between the two princes for the crown, which is finally obtained by the pretender and placed upon his head, while the other prince is in the act of being carried off by the victorious party. At this instant the elephant enters, approaches the pretender without being seen by him, raises his huge trunk, takes off the crown and places it on the head of the other prince, and, lifting him upon his back, again bears him away in triumph.
The palace of his four footed majesty is represented, with a table spread in the midst of the saloon. This room is separated from another by folding doors. Presently the doors are drawn aside by a servant, and the elephant marches in and approaches the table. The servant then takes a large napkin, or I should say table cloth, 130 11(5)v 130 and fastens it around his enormous neck. The first course of dishes is then brought in, which is immediately devoured, followed by a bottle of wine, the elephant dexterously drawing out the cork with his proboscis. In the mean time the servant, who, by the way, was the most grotesque looking figure ever imaginable, whom it was impossible to regard without laughing, is conversing with the bystanders, relative to the extraordinary exploits of his master; and points out to them his drawing-room and his sleeping apartments. Just then the elephant, having finished the course, touches him upon the shoulder. At this he starts, seizes the dishes, runs with them to a line of servants who are stationed at the door with the next course of dishes, exchanges them with all speed, and the table is again spread in the twinkling of an eye, This is repeated three or four times, when, after the desert is finished, the napkin is taken off, the mouth and proboscis are carefully wiped, and the elephant retires,—probably to take his siesta.
In the next scene, the priests, who belong to the party of the pretender, come upon the stage, and, opening the trap door on one side, descend into a subterranean vault, to perform some religious rites. The stage is rendered quite dark, and bright flashes of light are from time to time reflected upon the scenery, from the fires of sacrifice, which they are burning below. In a few 131 11(6)r 131 moments appear a large number of the most fantastic looking figures, resembling, more than anything else, the pictures of the zany, which we see in children’s books. They all bear in their hands lighted torches, which they place upon the stage. From each of these torches ascends a splendid blue flame to a great height, making the whole stage appear one blaze of light. Then these strange looking persons perform the most singular evolutions, which you can imagine. They twist their bodies into all sorts of whimsical shapes, mount upon each other’s shoulders, each other’s backs, and at last, taking up the torches, they form them in a ring, still holding them in their hands. One of the number then leaps through the blazing circle, and they all disappear.
Now the elephant is again seen entering. With noiseless step he approaches the trap-door, which fastens down with a spring, suddenly closes it, and buries the poor priests alive in the midst of their devotions. Whether the pretender is with the priests, in the vault, and is thus got rid of, I do not recollect; but, at any rate, the heads of his party being destroyed, the true prince triumphs; and the closing scene succeeds, which is more brilliant, than can words well describe. The whole of the back part of the stage presents a splendid sun, whose glittering rays spread out in all directions, and render it almost impossible to fix the eyes upon its dazzling brightness. The 132 11(6)v 132 next instant appears the elephant, with a most magnificent pavilion upon his back, in which are seated the prince and princess, now acknowledged king and queen, clad in the most splendid manner, and their dresses, sparkling with gems and gold, almost eclipse in lustre the glorious orb of day, which is represented behind them. They are brought forward upon the stage, so that all may have a distinct view of them, when the curtain slowly descends and shuts them from sight.
Almost instantly it is raised again, and the elephant advances alone upon the stage, paws with his huge feet, raises his proboscis two or three times, and the curtain again falls amid thunders of applause, and of bis, bis, that is encore, from every part of the theatre. This was repeated so long and loudly, that the elephant again appeared, expressed his thanks in a kind of hissing voice, again shuffled his feet, raised his trunk, and the curtain fell for the last time, while the building rang again, with clapping of hands and loud bursts of applause. And thus ended the evening’s entertainment.
On the evening of the 1829-09-1515th, I attended the Theatre Francais. The play was the Tartuffe of Moliere, and the celebrated Mademoiselle Mars performed. Her part was admirably sustained, and I have never seen any actress to be compared to her in any respect. Her voice is 133 12(1)r 133 music’s self, and her manner of performing her part perfectly true to nature. She is quite pretty, and although some fifty years of age, she appears scarce thirty, and might be taken for much younger even than that. The after piece, a modern composition, was merely a representation of scenes in private life, and the actors were all dressed in the fashion of the present day. Here Mademoiselle Mars appeared to even better advantage than in the play. Her part was intended to display the sweetness, gentleness, and generosity, and all the self-devotion, which often mark the female character in real life. This she performed to admiration, and the charm of her voice, her manner, and the elegance of her pronunciation, were irresistable.
But aside from the pleasure, which her acting imparted, the scene was to me entirely void of interest. I did not sufficiently understand the language to follow readily what was said, and of course lost a great deal of pleasure on that account; and then again there being nothing of spectacle in the scenery, which remained unchanged during almost the whole evening, there was little to please or attract the eye. In addition to this, happening to get there a little too late, we found no place upon the front seat of the box, and the ladies, who occupied that seat, wore such enormous bonnets, that it was only by leaning forward in a manner the most fatiguing, or by standing12 134 12(1)v 134 ing up, that we could see any thing upon the stage. Thus, although I was delighted with Mademoiselle Mars, the performances, independent of her, were so wearisome to me that I very gladly saw them concluded:—a feeling which I never experienced in a theatre before, theatrical representations being an amusement of all others so fascinating in general.
A very beautiful sitting statue of Voltaire ornaments the basement of the Theatre Francais, which, in the evening, when the room is lighted, has an exceedingly fine effect.
On Saturday we received a call from General Lafayette, who was in Paris for a few days, on his way from the south of France. He spoke of his triumphal tour with all the delicacy, which has ever signalized his truly remarkable character; and referred to his journey in the United States with the utmost pleasure. His call, though extremely gratifying, was not long, as he was about returning to La Grange, whither he gave us a polite and cordial invitation to visit him, during the following week: a visit, to which I looked forward, as you may well suppose, with no small degree of delight.
Musee d’Artillerie.—Looking Glass Manufactory.—Hospital for the Blind.—School for the young Blind.—Jardin des Plantes.—Conciergerie.—Italian Opera.
On1829-09-24Thursday, the 24th, we visited the Musee d’Artillerie. The first gallery, which we entered, was lined on each side with suits of glittering armor, placed upon frames precisely in the manner they were worn, and giving them, at first glance, all the appearance of actual warriors. Above them, upon the walls, were hung various casques, shields, bucklers, and other military equipments. The centre of the gallery was occupied by the armor of Louis Fourteenth, Henry Fourth, and Francis First; the latter upon horseback, his horse likewise clad in armor. Those on the sides of the gallery were complete suits of armor, belonging to the kings and great generals of France, of different and successive epochs, with a number belonging to females, among which was that of the Maid of Orleans. Nearly all of them were of brilliant steel, without a spot or blemish of any kind to mar their lustre; and you may imagine how beautiful must have been the effect. Among the great number of casques, two were very ancient and remarkable. One of them is supposed to have been the casque of Attila, and the other of Abdalrahman, one of the Moorish kings.136 12(2)v 136
Besides this gallery, there were a number of others, containing models of field pieces, and a great variety of arms, such as pistols ancient and modern, muskets, swords, and dirks. The butts of many of the pistols and muskets, and the handles of the swords, were beautifully set with precious stones, colored steel, and ivory. The dirk, with which the Duke of Berri was assassinated, has been preserved, and was exhibited in one of the cases.
On Friday I took a long walk to the Royal Glass Manufactory, and on my way thither entered the picture gallery, called Galerie Le Brun, at which modern pictures are exhibited, chiefly for sale, and the proceeds devoted to some charitable object. Many of the paintings were quite good, and the subjects interesting.
On arriving at the Manufactory, I was disappointed to find, that the glass was not blown here; but only polished and silvered. There seemed to be very few persons at work; but there were a vast number of rooms filled with large piles of mirrors, ready to be silvered, some of them of enormous size. We entered one of the rooms appropriated to silvering, and the man, who conducted us, went through the process upon one of the glasses, to show us how it was done. There were large tubs about the apartment, full of quicksilver, which was dipped out in vessels, some of them not holding more than a pint, but 137 12(3)r 137 so extremely heavy, when full, that I could scarcely lift one with both my hands.
From this place, we went to the Hospital for the Blind, which I found very deficient in neatness and order. We passed through a number of galleries, with apartments at the sides, all of them badly aired, and exhibiting marks of great neglect. In one room we saw a blind man engaged in papering little wooden boxes, of different sizes, which he placed upon the shelves for sale. They were very neatly done, and some of them quite pretty. In another room there was a bookbinder’s shop, where we saw a great variety of books for teaching the blind to read. A little boy, about twelve years old, read to us with as much facility as we do with the eyes, by applying his fingers to the letters.
The Institution for the Young Blind, which I saw the following day, was very much more interesting. The apartments were neat and clean, and the inmates seemed cheerful and happy. Some were employed in playing upon different kinds of instruments, and some in knitting and other occupations. There were exhibited, in one of the rooms, little articles of needle-work for sale, only curious as having been made by the blind; and also some pieces of music composed by the pupils.
I was astonished to find how much progress these young unfortunates had made in all the 12* 138 12(3)v 138 common branches of education and in music. One young girl executed a very difficult piece without making a single mistake; and another, apparently eighteen years of age, was giving lessons to the younger ones. If either of them struck the wrong notes, she would place their hands upon the right ones, without once missing. Again there was another, who answered a great variety of questions in geography; pointed out on the map the city of Washington, Great Britain, some small islands in the Atlantic ocean, the boundaries of the United States, those of Patagonia, and all without the least hesitation. She then solved some problems in arithmetic with equal readiness. The slate was made of wire net work, and the figures were upon types. It was really astonishing to see with what rapidity she placed the types, and after the result was given, with how much accuracy she put them back again in their places. There were also types with letters on them, and with these she set various sentences, which we gave her for trial.
The number of girls in the Institution is thirty, and of boys sixty. Besides the rooms for general instruction, there were those for printing and for weaving and spinning, and a pretty library, the books all printed in large raised letters, for the use of the blind. In the maps by which they are taught geography, the capital cities are designated by a small nail or pin head; and all the boundaries 139 12(4)r 139 and rivers are raised, so as to be easily followed with the fingers.
The refectories and the kitchen were all in good order, and there was an air of comfort about the whole establishment, very different from that of the Hospital, from which neatness and comfort seemed studiously banished.
The day being very fine, I determined to make a second visit to the Jardin des Plantes, in the hope of finding the animals visible. In this expectation I was not disappointed. The beautiful weather had drawn them all out from their retreat, and I had a fine opportunity of seeing them.
The most curious and rare animal among them is the cameleopard, which forms one of the great attractions of the garden; more however from its rarity than beauty. His neck is of enormous length, and when he walks it gives him the most awkward and singular appearance conceivable. His skin is spotted, and the expression of his face is very mild and gentle. In the same enclosure with him was a young zebra, which amused me exceedingly. He was in a most merry mood, skipped about in all directions, and seemed by his gambols to express the joy he felt at seeing the sun once more.
Leaving this frolicsome little animal I came to the more staid and sober elephants, the fierce and angry bisons, and the stupid looking dromedaries; and then to the large pits enclosing the 140 12(4)v 140 bears. In the centre of each pit, was a post with long pegs upon it, and by these the bears climbed to the top of the posts, and caught in their mouths pieces of cake and bread, which were thrown them by the multitudes standing around the pits. All the other enclosures were equally surrouned with men, women, and children, amusing themselves in feeding the animals, some of the most tame and gentle of which would come to the fence and eat from their hands. One gentleman, in offering the largest elephant a piece of cake, accidentally dropped it in such a manner that the animal could not find it; and the latter; indignant at the supposed insult, immediately turned round, and with one of his hind feet threw a cloud of dust and gravel into the gentleman’s face, to the great amusement of the spectators.
We next came to the collection of wild beasts, which are confined in a large building divided into cells, wih iron gratings in front, so that they can all be seen with perfect distinctness. These cells contained, among other animals, several lions and lionesses, hyænas, foxes, wolves, and bears, both white and black. Several animals from America were presented to the menagerie by General Lafayette.
The aviary is very extensive, and contains a large number of birds of different sizes, and among them some birds of prey of great strength. The collection of monkeys was also quite large. 141 12(5)r 141 Some of them we saw eating their dinner, as contentedly as possible, at the windows of the building in which they are kept.
I enjoyed my second visit to the garden quite as much as the first, and viewed it with even greater admiration; the cold and rainy day, upon which I visited it before, having prevented my seeing all its beauties in the greatest perfection.
My visit to the Conciergerie, (1829-10-01October 1st) was one of the most sadly interesting which I made in Paris, it having been the prison in which were confined Marie Antoinette and the Princess Elizabeth, previous to their execution, and after the death of Louis Sixteenth.
Passing through a long gallery, with close dark cells on each side, one of which was the prison of Madame Elizabeth, another of Robespierre, and a third of the assassin Louvel, we entered the chapel, from whence a passage conducts to the prison of Marie Antoinette, in which she was immured for the space of more than seventy days, and then exchanged it for the scaffold. It is now converted into a chapelle expiatoire, and every thing within it, upon which you place your eye, reminds you of those unfortunate victims of unheard barbarity and savage cruelty. At both sides the little passage between the two chapels are two monuments, the one inscribed,—A la memoire de Louis XVI, and the other,—A la memoire de Madame Elizabeth, with a medallion142 12(5)v 142 lion of each. Upon the spot where the Queen’s bed stood is a picture, which represents the widowed, solitary prisoner, clothed in mourning weeds, and kneeling at the bed side in humble prayer. On one side is another picture, representing the separation between her and her family, in which you see her only daughter, now the Dauphine of France, torn from her mother’s arms, and fainting in those of her aunt. A third painting shows the Queen in the middle of the night, receiving her last communion from the hands of a priest, who had obtained entrance into the cell in the disguise of a gendarme.
I cannot express to you the mingled feelings of pity and indignation, which the sight of these damp, gloomy vaults inspired. To think that they should ever have been the abode of beautiful and delicate women, accustomed from their infancy to all the splendors of royalty and luxuries of palaces! Oh! it is an indelible blot, an everlasting disgrace to the French name, which no time or change of circumstance can ever efface. Whether the death of Louis was or was not justifiable, in a political point of view, is a question on which many differ, even of the wise and good, thought I must confess, that I could never see the justice of it. But there can surely be but one opinion upon the sacrifice of these unhappy females, who had committed no crime, who were incapable, by the laws of their country, of inheriting143 12(6)r 143 ing the crown, or of bestowing it upon their husbands, should they marry; and yet who were plunged like the lowest criminal into horrible dungeons, and dragged forth like him to a public and violent death. Destitute, indeed, of every feeling claiming kindred with humanity, must have been the diabolical spirits, who committed the shameful deed; and almost equally dead to such feelings must be the individual, who could justify it.
In the evening I attended the Italian Opera, to hear Mademoiselle Sontag and Madame Pisaroni in Semiramide. This opera, though considered exceedingly fine, the music being composed by the great Rossin, is not that in which Mademoiselle Sontag appears to the greatest advantage. The music is not exactly adapted to her voice, which is rather sweet than powerful; and the piece, moreover, requires talent in acting, of which she is nearly destitute. One cannot fail of being charmed with her singing at times; but it often loses much of its effect by being accompanied with very ordinary acting. Madame Pisaroni sings pretty well; but is not comparable to Mademoiselle Sontag. In order to enjoy her singing at all, one must not look at her face, which she distorts most frightfully. It would doubtless prove great want of taste not to prefer Rossini’s music to any other, or to pronounce the Muette de Portici superior to Semiramide; but 144 12(6)v 144 however that may be, I was certainly much more delighted with the former than the latter, and the impression which it left, was far more agreeable and lasting.
Visit to La Grange.—The Chateau.—The Family.—The Grounds.—The Library.—La Fayette.
On1829-10-08Thursday, October 8th, we received a second call from General Lafayette, who offered us two vacant seats in his carriage with himself and granddaughter, to go to La Grange on the following day. The kind offer, we were of course very happy to avail ourselves of, and the next morning at eleven o’clock, were on our way to that spot, which of all others I most desired to see. Our ride was a delightful one, as indeed how could it fail to be? The General conversed a great deal, and his open, unaffected manner banished all restraint. His granddaughter, Madame Perier, the daughter of Mr. George W. Lafayette, I found a most intelligent and interesting lady, gentle unpretending, and amiable in her deportment. She has been two years married, and resides near Grenoble, to which place her grandfather had made his recent journey, partly for the purpose of visiting 145 13(1)r 145 her family and of bringing her back with him to La Grange.
The face of the country, between Paris and this place, is not remarkably pleasant, except one or two pretty views, which we saw in ascending a steep hill, near the village called Pont de Saint Maur. The road is sometimes bordered with vineyards, and these, the first I have seen, disappointed me exceedingly in their appearance. Instead of the beautiful arbors, hung with clustering grapes, with which a vineyard has ever been associated in my imagination, I saw nothing but a field of poles, with the vines attached to them by wisps of straw, less pleasing to the eye than a common pea-field in America. They were not enclosed by hedge or fence, and nothing but a ditch separated them from the road.
In passing through the several villages, the people in the streets, at seeing the General’s carriage pass, raised their hats with the greatest respect, though they could not see his face or person.
At length we approached the end of our journey, and as we entered the boundaries of La Grange,— Now, cried the General, we are upon American ground. In a few minutes the turrets of the ancient chateau appeared in sight, and we soon drove through the portal and entered a court, three sides of which are occupied by the castle, the remaining one opening upon a beautiful13 146 13(1)v 146 ful park. The portal is cut through a part of the building, and this on the outer side is covered with ivy, which was planted by Fox, when visiting General lafayette, after the peace of Amiens.
When the carriage stopped at the door, we found all the family assembled there, ready to welcome their revered parent. They all embraced him affectionately, and he then introduced to them his guests, whom they received with cordial politeness.
We now ascended to the saloon, where a bright and cheerful fire shed an air of comfort and hospitality around the apartment. It is a circular room, handsomely, but simply furnished. Around the walls are suspended portraits of General Greene, of Mr. Monroe, John Adams, John Q. Adams, Jefferson, and Madison. At each side of the fire-place are portraits, one of Bailly and the other of La Rochefoucauld; and upon the mantlepiece are small marble busts, representing the father of Riego and his wife. At the opposite side of the room is a pedestal with a bronze bust of Washington, made at the time he was in the army.
After remaining here a short time, we were conducted to our own apartment, in which a warm fire was also burning and every thing disposed for our reception. This room was hung with various prints of scenes in America.
At six o’clock the bell rang for dinner, and we 147 13(2)r 147 repaired to the saloon, where the numerous family of the house, and a few temporary visiters, were already assembled. Descending to the dining-room, situated upon the lower floor, we found a table abundantly spread, with meats and vegetables almost exclusively the produce of the farm; and the fruits, which formed the desert, were all of the General’s own raising. And the cheerfulness and hilarity, which reigned around the hospitable board, gave additional richness to the repast.
It was at this time, that Madame Perier made me acquainted with the names of the family and their relationship to each other, and I shall mention them to you here. There were, first, the eldest daughter of the General, Madame de la Tour Maubourg, and her youngest daughter, Jenny. Next Madame Lasteyrie, who has one son, Jules, and three daughters. The eldest, Pauline, is married to the Count de Remusat, and has an infant son, named Pierre. Her husband was with her at La Grange. The second daugter is named Melanie, and the third Octavie. There were three daughters of Mr G. W. Lafayette, who, with his wife and two young sons, Oscar and Edmund, was now absent. The eldest daughter, Natalie, wife of M. Augustin Perier, had with her a little girl, Octavie, about ten months old. Her sisters are Matilde and Clementine. Madame de la Tour Maubourg has still another 148 13(2)v 148 daughter, Celestine, who is married to the Baron de Brigode, and has four children. This is, I believe, a correct list of all the family of the excellent General, who appeared among them like the patriarch of the flock, and fully realized all my ideas of that ancient and venerable character.
Having finished dinner, we returned to the parlor, and the evening passed in general and agreeable conversation.
At ten o’clock the next morning we again met at breakfast table, and afterwards took a walk around the domains. The General first conducted us to a pretty little building, with painted windows, in which was placed the Whitehall boat, called the American Star, presented to him at New York. Thence to an enclosure, where were a beautiful American stag, and a doe, presented to him from the Jardin des Plantes, but of American parentage. We then entered a large yard, surrounded by the buildings of the farm, at one side of which was the aviary, containing a number of very curious and beautiful birds. Then we were conducted to the various sheep folds, which enclosed flocks of merinos, amounting, in the whole, to a thousand, all remarkable for the fineness and beauty of their wool. Entering the farm-house, we were shown two fine cool dairies, placed half under ground, and like all the other apartments which I saw, remarkably clean and nice.149 13(3)r 149
After having seen all the different parts of the farm, we walked into the woods, which are beautifully laid out, in the General’s own taste; and a great number of the trees were planted by his own hands. Our walk terminated at a pretty little artificial lake, with an island in the midst of it, and a pleasure boat for sailing. Returning to the chateau, we took a run over the beautiful lawn in front of it, with trees so planted in groups, as to afford open vistas between them. After this we all separated, to pursue whatever occupation we chose.
And this is one of the great charms of La Grange; all are left at liberty to go and come as they please, without any of the restraints of ordinary visiting. You may read or write,—walk, sail or hunt, as the one or the other is most agreeable to your taste, until the dinner bell gives the signal for again uniting. It seems to make not the slightest difference in the arrangements of the family, whether there are twenty guests or only one. All that come are cordially welcomed, and they have only to make themselves as happy, as the numerous attractions of the place enable them to be.
At dinner we were pleased to meet Mr. Levasseur, who, with two other French gentlemen, had arrived during the day. The evening was spent in music and dancing, the young ladies taking turns to play for each other. The room 13* 150 13(3)v 150 appropriated for these purposes, possesses quite as many memorials of America, as the adjoining saloon. The most conspicuous object on one side was the ’star-spangled banner’, suspended between the portraits of Washington and Franklin, the latter painted by Madame Perier. There were also busts of J. Q. Adams and Mr. Monroe, a portrait of the commander of the Brandywine, the Declaration of Independence, and Washington’s Farewell Address, together with two French prints, one of the Bastille and the other of the Champ de Mars.
We then followed to the library, which adjoins the General’s sleeping chamber. Just outside the door of this room is a small picture of the prison at Olmutz, and the jailor unlocking the door of the cell in which the General was confined. The bed chamber was adorned with prints and paintings of different kinds; some of them portraits of personal and family friends, and 151 13(4)r 151 others of public characters, such as General Jackson, Henry Clay, William H. Crawford and others. There were likewise prints of the Hancock house, of Mr. Adams’ residence at Quincy, and the picture of a scene at Yorktown, with the figures of Washington, Lincoln, and Lafayette, among others, represented in it. Upon a table was placed a splendid silver urn, a present from the officers of the Brandywine. On one side was seen the harbor of New York, at the moment of the General’s departure, and the ship was just setting sail. On the other was the open tomb of Washington, and three persons about to descend into it, namely, General Lafayette, his son, and Mr. Levasseur.
The library is a handsome circular room, containing a large number of beautiful books, conveniently arranged in open book-cases, and consisting of all the most popular French, English, and American works, ancient and modern. Beneath these were other cases, the doors so ingeniously contrived as perfectly to resemble ranges of books. In these were kept splendid specimens of binding and printing executed in the United States; and large drawers full of the testimonials of affection and regard, which the General had received at different periods of his life; all which he seemed to value very highly, and to exhibit with the utmost pleasure. In the first drawer he opened, among a variety of pretty little 152 13(4)v 152 boxes, was a pocket testament, bound in red morocco, which he said a pious female friend was so kind as to give him, when he last visited the United States. Upon the blank leaf of it was written: Be America his resting place and heaven his home. He then showed us the contents of all the other drawers, the umbrella which Washington was accustomed to use, his silver spectacles, the cane of Franklin, a sword blade, made of the bolts of the Bastille, a large collection of canes, and a chair cushion, worked by Mrs. Washington at the age of seventy years. The most beautiful cane, that the General possesses, and which he always carries, is one cut from an apple tree, beneath which he breakfasted with General Washington, on the morning of a memorable battle. The head is of gold, and inscribed with his name, and beneath,—It shaded him and his friend Washington.
A striking proof of the inherent and delicate politeness, which displays itself in all the members of this charming family, is the interest that they manifested in looking over these gifts, and expressing the greatest admiration of their beauty, as if seeing them for the first time, though, in fact, they must have exhibited them to hundreds of their different visiters, always, I doubt not, with equal cheerfulness and alacrity. Among other curiosities the General showed us a small, full-length portrait of himself, taken at the 153 13(5)r 153 age of nineteen, and dressed in the uniform, worn by the officers of the American revolution. The countenance is remarkably sweet and expressive; but although an exact representation of what he then was, it bears no resemblance to his present appearance. In the evening we amused ourselves in looking over a beautiful collection of engraved portraits of all the prominent actors in the French revolution, handsomely bound in a large folio book. The General entertained us highly by his interesting remarks, and the anecdotes which he related in connection with the different portraits. Among the finest of the engravings were two of Napoleon, more beautiful than any thing of the kind I ever saw.
At length the hour for separating for the night arrived, and as we were to leave La Grange early on the following morning, we were obliged to take a reluctant farewell of this most interesting family circle, in whose delightful society two days had flown away upon the wings of the wind.
I had heard and read much of La Grange, but the reality far exceeded my expectations. Never did I imagine a scene of more unaffected harmony and domestic love, more unbounded kindness and hospitality, than this noble mansion presents. And faultless as had ever appeared to us the character of our venerable and illustrious host, it was in the privacy of domestic life, in the bosom 154 13(5)v 154 of his family, that we were to learn all its perfection. I say perfection, for I believe if there exists a perfect or happy man on earth, it is General Lafayette. In every vicissitude of fortune, through praise and censure, through prosperity and adversity, he has alike been true to himsef, to his conscience, to his country. No recollections of lawless ambition, of cruelty or wanton bloodshed, can mar the tranquility of his declining years. His name is still the rallying point, to the lovers of liberty in his own country, and is hailed with warmest gratitude and affection by millions of the free born citizens of a transatlantic world. His children, to the third generation, rise up and call him blessed, while his servants and numerous dependants look up to him as their protector and friend, and ever find in him an affectionate and considerate master. To the rich he is a delightful companion, to the poor a generous benefactor. No man can justly breathe a word of censure against his name, and I believe his own breast to be the seat of kindest feeling and good will, even to those whom he is compelled to call his enemies.
To the American peculiarly the home of Lafayette is one of the most interesting spots on earth. He not only meets, at every step, memorials of his beloved native land, from which he is now far separated; but he hears of his country’s praises from the lips of its generous defender, 155 13(6)r 155 and warmly repeated by his grateful and numerous family. There can be no mistake in their expressions relative to America; they are not mere words of course, to please the American ear; they evidently spring from a sincere, hearty love for the country, and admiration of its free institutions.
Such is the family, and such the charming residence, to which I bade adieu on the following morning with the utmost regret; mingled however, with a feeling of satisfaction, that I had been so highly favored, as to have passed even so short a time within the walls of La Grange: a circumstance which I shall ever regard as a bright era in the recollections of my life.
The General is always accustomed to send his guests in his own carriage to the neighboring village of Rozoy; and although we left very early in the morning, we found him already risen to give us a last adieu. At Rozoy we took the diligence for Paris, and arrived there in the course of the afternoon. The next evening at half-past eight o’clock, 1829-10-13October 13th, we entered the diligence for Orleans, bidding farewell to Paris, for a long time to come.—I had passed two months very delightfully here, and left it with a reluctance, only lessened by the recollection, that we were to return again the following spring, after having enjoyed the now anticipated pleasure of a winter’s residence in Spain, and a rapid visit to the south of France.
Orleans.—Joan of Arc.—Cathedral.—House of Pothier.— Bridge.—Beffroi.—Vineyards.—Chateau de Menars.—Chambord.—Blois.—Hotel.—The Loire.—Archeveche.—Cathedral.—Market.—Chateau.
We reached Orleans, hungry and weary, after riding all night; but were refreshed by a substantial breakfast at the Hotel de la Boule d’Or, and sufficiently invigorated to go about and see the lions of the city.
We first proceeded to the Place de Martroy, where was a bronze statue of Joan of Arc. Her figure was very small, too much so for the large size of the place; and she is clothed in armor, with a kind of loose robe thrown over the lower part of the dress. In her left hand she holds a spear, with a standard upon it, and in her right a drawn sword.
Passing from this square, through a number of narrow, dirty streets, bordered with houses of the most dilapidated and mean appearance, and filled with wretched beggars, who besieged us on every side, we entered the place in front of the Cathedral. This magnificent gothic edifice resembles in some degree the church of Notre Dame at Paris; or should I say the general effect of it is similar, though it is, in fact, very different, and superior to that of Notre Dame in the grace and lightness of its architecture. The upper part of 157 14(1)r 157 each of the two beautiful towers, is supported by very small carved pillars, which impart a delicacy and beauty to the building, altogether peculiar. Between the towers below is a vestibule, still unfinished, but in the process of being completed. This vestibule conducts into the interior of the church, which is remarkable for simple grandeur of architecture, rather than any elegance of decoration. The chapels are almost entirely unadorned. A few of them contain tablets to the memory of distinguished individuals. In one of them is the tomb of Pothier, which is only marked by a plain black marble slab.
Mounting to the towers, we walked around the roof of the church, and looked down, on each side, upon a vast number of turrets and other gothic ornaments, extremely graceful and airy. From hence you also enjoy a fine view of Orleans, and catch the first glance of the majestic Loire. The city, from this elevation, appears much larger, than I had thought it to be; but the aspect of age and decay is visibly marked upon all the buildings, except those of modern date. Among the latter is a very neat market house, for the sale of wheat, called the Halle St. Louis. It is surrounded by pillars, forming an open gallery.
The Theatre, situated quite near the Cathedral, is small, and not remarkable.
The public Library is a neat building with a 14 158 14(1)v 158 pretty front. Near the Library is the Bishop’s palace, and his garden in which the trees are very singularly trimmed. They are cut off even at the top, and all the central branches cut out, so as to form a regular hollow in the middle of the trees. The appearance of them is not graceful by any means, but unnatural and stinted.
From this spot we walked to the former residence of the great lawyer Pothier, situated in a street called by his name, opening upon the Place du Calvaire, which is ornamented in the centre by an immense wooden crucifix. The figure of the Savior is wretchedly executed and produces a very disagreeable effect. We obtained permission to enter the garden, a neat little square, laid out in beds of vegetables and flowers, bordered with box, and shaded by a few fruit trees. An old grey headed priest, who occupies the apartment of Pothier, very obligingly invited us to come in and see the room. It was perfectly plain and simple, and had undergone no alteration, except the erection of a modern fire-place. The priest was very curious and inquisitive as to who we were; and when he found that we were Americans, he said that Pothier, were he living, would feel very much flattered to see persons, from such a long distance, come to view his residence. He then asked us if we were ever acquainted with Pothier, an inquiry which amused me exceedingly, as he died in 17721772. Almost immediately, 159 14(2)r 159 however, he laughed at his own question, and said he perceived we were rather too young to have known him.
The quays, which border the banks of the Loire at Orleans, are solid and well built; and a very beautiful stone bridge, supported by nine arches, is thrown across the river, nearly in a line with a broad handsome street, called the Rue Royale, the only one of any beauty, which I have seen in the place. Passing up this street, I saw the gothic tower, named the Beffroi, formerly the Maison de Ville, now occupied as a watch tower,and from thence I returned to the hotel.
The situation and exterior appearance of the Hotel de la Boule d’Or are gloomy and uninteresting; and the rough, brick tiled floors within as extremely cold and uncomfortable; but it is, nevertheless, a very good house, and every thing is well served and of the best quality.
At seven o’clock on Wednesday morning, we were joined by an American gentleman from Paris, who was to be our travelling companion for two or three weeks; and at half-past nine we entered the diligence for Blois. The day was delightful, and the road, for nearly the whole distance, lined on each side by vineyards. A great number of persons, of both sexes, were employed in gathering in the vintage. On alighting from the diligence, I tasted some of the grapes, which were excessively sour and disagreeable,160 14(2)v 160 greeable, intended only for making wine, and not fit for eating. I was much more struck with the ordinary appearance of the vineyards here here, than near Paris. The whole country being covered with them, rendered their homeliness more apparent. In addition to this, the excessive rains, that prevailed through the summer, had caused many of the grapes to decay, and bent the clusters, which always grow upon the lower part of the vine, entirely to the ground. We entered one of the wine presses, and tasted the new wine, which was standing in large vats, and undergoing fermentation. The taste is not materially different from that of new cider, though rather less sweet, and more astringent.
But the monotonous and uninteresting scenery of successive vineyards was occasionally exchanged for pretty views of some white cottage, embowered in trees, with a rivulet running by its side, strongly reminding us of American scenery; while the beautiful Loire, appearing and disappearing at intervals, presented along its sloping banks the bright and golden hues of autumn.
After passing through several villages, some of them quite large, we entered the small village of Menars, which contains a fine chateau, with a park in front, through which the road leads. Here the view becomes delightful. On one side you have the chateau and the beautiful terraces of the park,—on the other the river, with a neat 161 14(3)r 161 little village upon the opposite bank. Richly cultivated fields are spread out, in all directions, before you, and in the distance may be seen the innumerable turrets of the ancient chateau of Chambord.
At half-past four o’clock in the afternoon we entered Blois. The first appearance of this city is very agreeable. It is situated upon the river, and a fine stone bridge, with a handsome pyramid in the centre, unites it to a pretty faubourg upon the opposite side. Close to the bank of the river, in entering the city, we passed a beautiful shady terrace, planted with trees, which serves as a public promenade.
The diligence stopped at the Hotel de la Nouvelle Angleterre, and here we determined to remain, it being one of the best hotels in the city, as it should be from its name. Our room was pleasantly situated upon an open gallery, towards the river, and the weather was sufficiently mild and agreeable to enjoy it. Even at this comparatively short distance from Paris, we began to feel the cheering influences of the southern climate, in the softness of the air and clearness of the sky. During the ten weeks, that we had been in Paris, there was not one, in which it had not rained more or less every day, so that an umbrella was quite as necessary as an appendage as any part of the dress, when going into the street, even for half an hour. But now we found it very 14* 162 14(3)v 162 different, and the change was indeed delightful.
At dinner, we were served with a great variety and abundance of excellent food, the table was well attended, and every thing in good order. With the desert, there were placed upon the table little preserve pots, each covered with a green leaf and filled with a delicate preparation of cream, called Creme de Blois, and much celebrated all over France, as being far superior to any thing of the kind to be found in the country. It does not very materially differ from whips, except that it has much more consistency, and the sugar, instead of being put in at the time it is made, is stirred in when you eat it.
The waiters, at this hotel, were chiefly females, who wore upon their heads the Norman cap, one of the most frightful head dresses ever invented. They were worn very high upon the top of the head, supported by a sort of frame underneath, to keep them in place. There was no border in front; but two borders, nearly a quarter of a yard in width, extended from ear to ear behind, separated at the back of the neck. The hair was done up in a club behind and the cap tied above it. Such is the unbecoming head gear, which you see among the lower classes of women in this part of the country.
After dinner, we took a little stroll through some of the streets, which we found too dark and irregular, to tempt us to go very far; but 163 14(4)r 163 at ten o’clock, the beauty of the evening irresistibly drew us forth again, and we crossed the bridge into the faubourg, from whence we had a remarkably good view of the city. But the most charming prospect was from the open gallery in front of the hotel, and here I long stood to enjoy it before retiring to rest. The moonbeams were sleeping upon the unruffled surface of the river. The heavens were perfectly unclouded, and the air balmy and delicious beyond description. In front were seen the bridge, and the quiet little village, in which every sound was hushed, that could disturb the tranquility and calmness of the scene. Striking, indeed, was the contrast between this lovely prospect, and the high, dark buildings, the damp, chilly atmosphere, the noise and confusion, of the city we had left: a contrast which doubled the pleasure and satisfaction, with which I found myself once more surrounded by the inimitable beauties of nature.
The next morning we walked out to obtain a more distinct view of the city, than could be afforded us by moonlight. Its situation is very peculiar, an abrupt ascent being formed from the river to a high elevation, and a similar descent on the other side. In order to reach the palace of the Archbishop, you ascend a flight of steps quite to the highest part of the city. Here are the Cathedral and palace adjoining each other. The latter is a plain building, not particularly 164 14(4)v 164 handsome. At the right of it is a fine plantation, with a beautiful terrace overlooking a garden, and faced by a heavy stone wall. From this terrace you may see all the surrounding country to great advantage, as well as part of the city, which lies beneath your feet. Some of the houses have a very singular appearance, being placed against the hill in such a manner, that you see only the roofs, rising one above the other.
The Cathedral in its exterior is a strange looking mass of buildings, put together without design or taste. The interior is quite handsome and lofty; but does not equal in beauty other Cathedrals which I have seen. There are a number of smaller churches in Blois, and most of them we visited; but I did not find them particularly interesting.
In descending from the Cathedral, we passed down the most dirty, irregular, narrow streets, I have ever seen; many of them, in fact, mere alleys, which should not be dignified with the name of streets, though passing for such. The interior of the houses, which we could see through the half open doors, was dark, smoky, and unclean to a most offensive degree; and their ragged inmates, who attacked us at almost every turn to obtain alms, bore all the marks of extreme poverty and wretchedness.
We next went to the fruit market, which is a very neat place; but where we found it almost 165 14(5)r 165 necessary to stop our ears, in order to keep out the discordant din, occasioned by the screams of the market women, and the merriment produced among the crowd by the pranks of a monkey, which a juggler was exhibiting in the midst of them. The extreme oddity of the whole scene was increased by the whimsical appearance of such a quantity of Norman caps, towering above the heads of the multitude of fruit sellers.
Our walk terminated at the old Chateau, now converted into barracks, which is one of the principal curiosities of Blois. It is a large stone building, presenting a great variety of different styles of architecture, and was built at various periods by Louis Twelfth, Henry Third, and Gaston, Duke of Orleans. We walked around the castle, but did not go in, reserving that visit for a later hour. Towards the street was a brick wall of great height, almost concealing the building on that side from view.
Returning to the hotel, we had a plentiful breakast a la fourchette, consisting of varieties of fish, meat, pastry, and fruit. After breakfast, we again repaired to the Chateau to see the interior. Ascending a steep declivity, we came to the esplanade in front of one of the buildings, where were a number of soldiers exercising; then to an open court, with a huge pile on each of the four sides; the building through which we entered the court, having been built by Louis Twelfth. 166 14(5)v 166 The guide first conducted us to the building erected by Gaston Duke of Orleans, intended to have been a superb edifice, but left entirely unfinished. The windows were filled up with brick, and heaps of rubbish were strewed about in every part of it. We walked out upon the broad terrace which overlooks the brick wall, where a bridge was to have been thrown across to the opposite hill, to enable persons to pass directly to the church, that crowns its summit, instead of going through obscure passages, on the other side of the castle.
A stair-case, occupying a round tower, curiiously ornamented with various gothic and other carved work, winds up from this building to that constructed by Henry Third. Here we were shown a number of sleeping chambers, which conducted to the dungeons of the Chateau. One small prison had in the centre of it a trap door, called an oubliette, beneath which was a precipice of one hundred feet. Whenever it was desirable to destroy any of the wretched captives, who inhabited these fearful vaults, the trap door was lowered, the prisoners were blind-folded, and then made to walk forward in such a manner, as to step directly into the horrible pit. Near the dungeon was the spot where the Duke of Guise, and his brother were murdered in the reign of Henry Third; and not far from it, a small, dark cell, in which one of the archbishops of Orleans 167 14(6)r 167 was confined. All the doors of these different dungeons were of solid iron, and so heavy that, so I found on trial, much more strength than I possessed was necessary to move them.
From these dark cells, which had witnessed so many scenes of blood and cruelty in ancient times, we were shown to the cabinet of Mary de Medicis, who was, for a time, a prisoner within the Chateau, and the window by which she made her escape by means of a rope. Thence through several other apartments and finally to the observatory of Mary de Medicis, where she was accustomed to amuse herself by studying astronomy. To reach this we again crossed the court yard, passed through a heap of ruins, and ascended another stair-case. From the gallery, which surrounds the observatory, there is a very pretty view of the river, the city, and the country for a considerable distance around. In this gallery stands the stone table, that was used by the Queen, and is of course an object of great curiosity to all who visit the place.
The guide, who conducts strangers in the Chateau, was a talkative old man, who has resided in it for eleven years. He at first took us for English, and was quite astonished when we told him that we had never seen that country, for he seemed to be sure it was the same language he had heard English people speak. After puzzling him a little while, we finally told him from what 168 14(6)v 168 country we came. Surprised at this even more, and looking at us with great apparent curiosity, he said he was certain we could not be Americans, because we were not black. This afforded us all a hearty laugh at the poor old man’s expense, who seemed, however, to bear it very good humoredly.
At the moment the steam boat arrived from Orleans, the ringing of the bell gave us warning that no time was to be lost in securing places for Tours, whither she was bound, only stopping long enough to take in passengers. This boat was extremely small, with no interior decorations of any kind, and the ladies cabin so low, that it was impossible to stand erect in it. A crowd of people were, however, attracted to the shore to see it depart; and the bridge and windows of the houses were also quite full of gazers, who, it would seem, were not very familiar with a spectacle of this kind.
Chaumont.—Amboise.—Singular dwellings.—Tours.—Cathedral.—Tower of Charlemagne.—Music.—Voyage on the Loire.—Saumur.—Saint Florent.—Chantoceau.—Ouden.— Clermont.
In leaving Blois, as in entering it, the view is very delightful. The city being placed upon the side of a hill appears to great advantage, and you see nothing of the narrow, dirty streets, the poverty and misery, which it actually presents to your eye upon close examination. A person merely passing through the place, without stopping at all, might imagine it a beautiful city, though in fact it is entirely the reverse.
After quitting Blois, the scenery was very pretty; but no remarkable object attracted my attention, until reaching the large chateau of Chaumont, situated upon a lofty eminence, with a pretty little hamlet below, almost buried in trees. The chateau is a fine, majestic looking building, and its commanding situation, the beautiful trees, which cover the sides of the hill, upon which it stands, and its ancient and venerable appearance, combined to render it a most interesting object.
As we advanced the country became more diversified, and a number of neat villages skirted the borders of the river. At the town of Amboise, which, though not well built, is delightfully situated upon the right bank of the Loire, the 15 170 15(1)v 170 river is divided by an island, and two bridges, one of stone and the other of wood, with stone piers, connect it to the opposite banks. An immense chateau, partly embedded in trees, is situated upon a high elevation, commanding the town. The stone bridge, which connects Amboise with the island, is formed of arches, and when the steam-boat passed under, the chimney was lowered so as to be almost horizontal with the deck; and I found, upon inquiry, that it was the same with all the boats, which were so constructed, that the chimney or mast, whichever it may be, can be lowered to pass the bridge, instead of having a draw, the absence of which renders the bridges in France much more safe, because much more solid in construction, than ours.
From Amboise the prospect continued very delightful; but we came to no villages of any importance, until reaching Mont Louis, which is remarkable for the following singularity. All the houses, except a small hamlet in front, are cut into a perpendicular rock, with the chimnies coming out at the top of it. In front there are holes, for windows and doors, which appear like so many swallows’ nests, rather than the habitations of human beings. Some of them, however, are said to be very comfortable residences; the walls within being ceiled with boards, and the houses, if so they may be called, decently furnished. Others are used only as store houses, 171 15(2)r 171 or inhabited by some poor wretches, who are glad to find any shelter from excessive heat, or inclement weather, however comfortless that shelter may be. We afterwards saw a large number of similar caves, before reaching Tours; and frequently observed persons walking about within them.
In approaching Tours, I was enchanted with the situation and appearance of the city, and the superb stone bridge, of fifteen arches, which is thrown across the river Loire in front of it, to the faubourg upon the opposite side, as at Blois. The most conspicuous object, as we advanced, was the Cathedral, with its two fine, gothic towers of lofty height; and as the boat drew nearer to the shore, we saw the handsome Hotel de Ville and another large building near it, both recently constructed, and facing the river, only a short distance from its banks. Farther to the right, and nearer the centre of the city, were to be discerned the stone towers of the ancient abbey of St. Martin’s.
Alighting from the boat, by means of a staging put upon wheels, which is drawn into the water for the want of a wharf, or any other more suitable landing place, we passed through a part of the Rue Royale, a very broad, handsome street, to the Hotel du Faisant. This we found crowded with visiters, and scarcely succeeded in obtaining lodgings. By means of a little management172 15(2)v 172 ment on the part of the landlady, however, we were very well accommodated, and after dinner walked out to see the city.
The evening was far from pleasant, and the hazy, thick atmosphere portended approaching rain; but the city was so well lighted, that we found our way without the slightest difficulty to the Cathedral, and seeing a door open, we entered by a small vestibule into the interior of the church, where a most solemn and impressive scene was exhibited to our view. A few candles, scattered here and there in the different naves and chapels, cast a dim, indistinct light around the extensive edifice, just rendering visible the high vaulted roof, and noble clusters of gothic columns, which supported it. A deep, dark shade almost wholly obscured the chapels behind the choir, so that the eye in vain endeavored to distinguish any of the objects within them, darkness and gloom being alone discernible.
The chapel for the dead, in one of the side naves, was entirely hung with black, and a crucifix, with a full sized statue of the Savior, was placed above the altar. A sepulchral lamp was suspended from the ceiling, which at one moment emitted a feeble, flickering light, as if just expiring, and then again beamed up for an instant, in a bright stream, casting a strong reflection upon the crucifix, the altar, and all the mournful decorations of the chapel, only to throw them into 173 15(3)r 173 deeper obscurity, when the flame again died away, as suddenly as it had risen.
But in the midst of this silence and darkness, more than one human form was seen kneeling upon the stone pavement of the church, in earnest and humble devotion; and so apparently lost and absorbed were they in mental prayer, for no sound issued from their lips, that they had rather the appearance of statues, than of living beings. There could be no hypocrisy, no deception in this. They had not sought the broad glare of day, to be seen by the eyes of men; but with unquestionably heart-felt piety, they had retired from the busy world, to perform their devotions in secret and alone. Such was the scene, which inspired us all with a feeling of solemnity and awe, not easily described; and long, very long will it be, ere the impression of it will fade from my memory.
We next walked to the towers of Charlemagne and St. Martin’s, at the other side of the city, and on our way to them, passed through a number of wide, paved streets, with excellent side-walks, and the lighted windows displaying many fancy articles of much taste and beauty. Some of the streets were, to be sure, narrow and crooked, and the houses dingy enough; but there was a very much larger proportion of fine streets and handsome buildings, than either in Orleans or Blois. The two towers, just mentioned,15* 174 15(3)v 174 ed, are all that remains of the ancient abbey of St. Martin’s, much celebrated in its time. We obtained a very good view of them, although it was evening, as indeed we did of a considerable part of the city, through which we wandered by chance, and returned to our lodgings, quite satisfied with having seen so much of Tours, which we feared not to see at all, as the steam-boat, the same which we came in from Blois, was to leave for Nantes before day-light in the morning.
At the Hotel du Faisant, we were regaled with a concert after dinner, during the desert. There were five musicians, two of them females, and one went round the table with her little box, to collect their pay. A small trifle always satisfies them; and one would be willing to give twice the sum that is customary, to hear such sweet music, as some of these wandering musicians are capable of producing. The instruments, which were played this evening, were a harp and two guitars.
When we arose, early the next morning, it rained very violently, and continued to do so for many hours, confining me entirely to the little close cabin, much to my regret and disappointment. But at length the rain ceased, the clouds broke away, and we had every prospect of fair weather. This soon drew all the company upon deck, to enjoy the delightful country, which we were passing through. Cities and villages, 175 15(4)r 175 large and small, continually succeeded each other, and the beautiful, verdant lawns, some of them covered with trees, the little bright green islands formed in the river, the handsome arched bridges, crossing it at intervals, and the ancient chateaus, which, with their fine gothic architecture, their turrets, towers, buttresses, and ramparts, crowned elevated summits upon its banks;—all these varied objects composed a most picturesque and charming prospect. In passing the city of Saumur, I counted no less than thirty windmills, most of them in motion, stretching out in a line, upon a hill back of the city, producing an exceedingly lively and pretty effect.
Until arriving at Saumur the weather had been so unpleasant, and the air so chilly, that I had been often obliged to go below, into the gentlemen’s cabin, and see the country as I could through the windows, returning upon deck when any very remarkable object was to be observed. But towards the latter part of the afternoon, the sun shone out clear and pleasant, the air became mild and agreeable, and I was enabled to enjoy the sight of a country, even more interesting than we had already passed.
The most deeply so to me was the town of St. Florent and the adjoining country, one of the theatres of the war of La Vendee. The town is prettily situated upon a hill, with a deep descent to the river. The most prominent objects in it, 176 15(4)v 176 are a church, a large chateau, and a column erected to the memory of the brave and virtuous Marquis of Bonchamp, who perished at the passage of the Loire. Not far from thence is the very spot, where the hundred thousand Vendeans, commanded by Bonchamp, crossed the Loire, of which only eight or ten thousand returned, the remainder having been cut off in battle, made prisoners, or driven back to the river by the victorious republicans, and drowned in its waters. Here then was the actual scene of many of those most affecting incidents, so pathetically described by Madame de Larochejaquelein in her Memoirs, which I had years since perused with almost painful interest, little dreaming that the places, which witnessed them, would ever be presented to my own eyes.
As we continued onward many memorable spots were pointed out to us, and the scenery became more and more enchanting at every step. At one spot we saw the chateau of Chantoceau, beautifully placed upon the summit of a very high grass-clad hill; and opposite, upon a plain extending back from the river, was seen the large, handsome tower of Ouden, of an octagon form, which has existed six hundred years, and from its perfect state of preservation is likely to continue for as many years to come. Then followed a succession of high, towering rocks, covered with green verdure, bringing to our recollection 177 15(5)r 177 the highlands upon the Hudson, to which they bore a striking resemblance. They were not so lofty, it is true, nor as a whole so fine, occupying but one side of the river; but still most grand and majestic. Upon the summit of one stood the noble chateau of Clermont, rising in solitary grandeur above all surrounding objects. The sun was setting most brilliantly, gliding this beautiful chateau and the tops of the hills with its bright red beams, which were reflected upon the smooth expanse of water, so as to paint the whole charming landscape upon its silver bosom.
The boat passed rapidly along, as we feasted our eyes upon the beauties, which were every where displayed around us, until, after a lovely twilight, darkness closed in, and the damps of evening obliged me to leave the deck. At half- past eight o’clock we arrived at Nantes. A porter conducted us to the Hotel de France, situated upon the Place Gralin, where an excellent dinner and very good accommodations of every kind, awaited us.
Nantes.—Theatre.—Cours Henri Quatre.—The Bourse.— Quais.—Notre Dame.—Promenades.—Military Mass.—Diligence.— La Vendee.—Bourbon Vendee.—Rochelle.—Cathedral.— Saint Sauveur.—Harbor.—Flight of Napoleon.—Rochefort.—Saintes.—Triumphal Arch.—Amphitheatre.—Aqueduct.— Pons.—Blaye.
Early after breakfast on the morrow, (1829-10-19October 19th) we commenced our examination of the curiosities of Nantes, beginning with the handsome Theatre, which occupies the whole of one side of the Place Gralin. The front is formed of eight columns, supporting a portico, and at the top of the building are eight statues, to correspond with them. From the Place Gralin, we walked to the Course Henri Quatre, which is a walk planted with trees, and bordered on one side by a range of handsome houses; next, to the Place Royale, a large, regular built square; and then to the Bourse, entering one or two churches on the way, neither of them remarkable.
The Bourse is a very neat, handsome building, the interior ornamented with columns, and the front constructed, like the Theatre, with pillars and statues, and opening upon a pretty enclosure, with alleys of trees, which is used as a public promenade, and as a flower market.
Another pleasant public walk is formed by the quays, which are well constructed, and remarkably free from dirt and rubbish of any description. 179 15(6)r 179 Two rows of elm trees are planted along their whole extent, forming a street between them, and and rendering the walk cool and shady. A handsome block of buildings, chiefly private dwellings, with balconies in front, occupies one side.
In returning along the quays, we entered the church of Notre Dame, a small, neat building, possessing nothing to admire within; but presenting a curious aspect in approaching it, though the effect was not bad. There are no ornaments or even windows in front, which is one flat, uniform surface of stone. Above the building rises a small cupola. The Mint, and the Markethouse, which I also visited, are both very handsome buildings.
At twelve o’clock, military mass was to be performed in the Cathedral, and we bent our steps thitherward; but when we reached it, finding that the mass would not commence for more than half an hour, we repaired to the public promenade, situated very near the Cathedral. This walk is divided into a double avenue of elm trees, with a broad, spacious promenade between them, separated, at the centre, by a space, in which is erected a splendid, colossal statue of Louis Sixteenth. It is raised, like a terrace, above the streets at each end of it, with flights of steps to descend into them. At the sides of each flight are two pedestals bearing statues. At one end they represent two Constables of France, and at 180 15(6)v 180 the other Anne of Brittany, and her husband, Arthur Third, Duke of Brittany. One extremity of the walk presents you with a good view of a part of the city, including an ancient fortress; and at the other is a more beautiful prospect still, of the city and of the river Eudre. Descending the steps, at this side, we walked to the Hotel de la Prefecture, a noble stone building, with two handsome fronts, one facing the river, and the other the cathedral. The Hotel de Ville is likewise very handsome, and occupies three sides of a square. The fourth is the entrance, which consists of a beautiful stone arch.
We now returned to the Cathedral, and I took a chair in the chief nave, gentlemen alone being allowed to go into the choir. I first, however, examined the most remarkable thing contained in the church, which is the monument of Francis Second, Duke of Brittany, father of Anne of Brittany,who caused it to be erected. Recumbent figures of the Duke and his lady are upon the top of the tomb, and at the corners are four figures, one having two faces, emblematical of dissimulation. Around the tomb are some finely executed bas-reliefs. There are no other ornaments of consequence in the Cathedral, the interior of which, however, is, in its style of architecture, grand and imposing. The front, upon the outside, presents two towers, strikingly different from those of Orleans, being heavy and destitute of beauty.181 16(1)r 181
Presently the roll of drums, and the sound of many instruments, announced the approach of the military, for whose especial benefit the mass was to be performed. The band first entered, passing up through the length of the central nave, and stationing themselves in the choir; followed by sappeurs, with their immense fur caps, long beards, and glistening axes. Then came the privates, who ranged themselves in files on each side of the nave, leaving a space between for the general, his staff, and other officers, to pass up to the choir. The mass consisted alomost entirely of music, played by the band, and lasted, perhaps half an hour. The priest was employed at the altar, during the time, but did not speak sufficiently loud to be heard by any one. The effect of the whole was very impressive, though not bearing much resemblance to a religious service, except that we saw the priest, and were in a church. The music was very beautiful, and sounded peculiarly well, echoing along the vaulted roof of the Cathedral. After mass was concluded they all retired in the same order that they entered.
A great crowd of people attended, so large as nearly to fill the church. Many of them were very genteelly dressed ladies and gentlemen, whom I often observed standing in close contact with wretchedly dirty and offensive beggars. This is, I think, an inconvenience in attending 16 182 16(1)v 182 Roman Catholic churches, on the continent of Europe, that they have no division for different classes of people; and as vagrants avail themselves of the common right to enter the church at all times, you often find yourself in an extremely disagreeable and uncomfortable situation, from their near neighborhood, without being able at all to rid yourself of them.
After the crowd had dispersed, we ascended to the top of the tower, where the view is very beautiful, of all the adjoining country, as well as of the city itself. Here we had another instance of the ignorance of the lower classes of persons in this country respecting Americans. One of the gentlemen of the party asked the guide, who conducted us, if there were any Americans in Nantes. Oh! yes, he replied, we have plenty of negroes and mulattoes. And this he said with all seriousness, not suspecting that we were Americans, and greatly astonished when he discovered it. This was the third time, within a few days, that we had met with instances of the same kind, for in addition to the old man at Blois, there were two female domestics at the hotel at Tours, whom it was almost impossible to convince, that all who came from our country were not black; and when they saw three persons, as white as themselves, to to use their own words, claiming to be Americans, it seemed quite too much for them to believe.
With the Cathedral I ended my researches in 183 16(2)r 183 the city of Nantes, which is one of the handsomest of the French cities I have yet seen. It contains a large number of sightly edifices and wellbuilt streets; and being a seaport, there is much appearance of bustle and activity, which you do not see in the inland towns, and which always gives a stranger an agreeable impression of a place, as indicating prosperity and success of trade. As compared with Boston, and many of our American cities, Nantes may be considered quite inferior in beauty: but comparing it with other French cities, it certainly holds a distinguished place. The number of inhabitants is about eighty thousand.
At ten, the next morning, we left Nantes for Rochelle. In going out of the city, we passed over six bridges connecting small islands, of which there are a large number formed in this part of the river; and the road then leads through a tract of the most wretched looking country imaginable. For the most part it is a mere swamp, only varied by extensive plains, very imperfectly cultivated, and not possessing a single object attractive to the eye. The roads were excessively bad, and at times it seemed impossible for the six miserable looking animals, attached to the diligence, to draw the heavy vehicle through the deep quagmires, into which the wheels would sink, nearly to the hubs. The poor creatures were beaten most unmercifully by their inhuman 184 16(2)v 184 drivers, the two postillions, who seemed to have no compassion or consideration for them.
The dress of these postillions, a fair specimen of what it is in most parts of France, was very peculiar and ludicrous. They wore blue cotton frocks, descending to the knee, and fastened at the neck like a shirt. Their glazed hats, painted of any color to suit their fancy, were small at the bottom of the crown, and spread out broad at the top, and, with a wide brim turned up a little at the ears, served in place of umbrellas to keep off the rain. But the most amusing part of their dress, was the huge leather boots coming up above the knee, and so large, at that part, as nearly to admit another pair of legs, in addition to those they already covered. These boots are so exceedingly heavy, that it seems a great exertion to lift the feet after they are once planted upon the ground; and their whole dress, springled over with mud and dirt, added to their ugly unbecoming hats, certainly rendered them most ill-looking objects, exactly comparing with the miserable establishment of which they form a part. By this I do not mean the diligence itself; but the horses and harnesses, the latter being usually a combination of ropes, and of old leather so cracked and rusty, that I think a brush could never have been applied to it, since the first hour it was made. The horses bore all the marks of being ill used and ill kept; and their tails, tied 185 16(3)r 185 up sometimes with wisps of straws, completed the deformity of their whole appearance.
Such is a true, and not exaggerated picture of what we had before our eyes for many hours, on our way to Rochelle; and when you consider the dreary scenery around us, and the wretchedly poor looking hamlets and villages through which we passed,—the houses often much worse than the log huts in the wilds of Maine,—you will not wonder at the pleasure we experienced, when, upon arriving at the boundary between the department of the Loire Inferieure and La Vendee, the scene was suddenly and entirely changed as if by magic.
Instead of the sloughs of despond, through which we had scarcely dragged along, the road became as fine as any I ever beheld, and bordered on each side with wide spread heaths, blooming with beautiful heath flowers, yellow and pink, mingled with large quantities of bright green broom, and occasionally enclosed with clipped hedges. Sometimes the road would wind down into little shady dells, with thick groves of trees on either side, and in rising from them, delightfully varied prospects extended before us, as far as the eye could reach. I soon forgot all the horrors of the preceding hours,—the poor horses, the postillions, and their huge boots,— and gave myself up to the pleasing reflections awakened by the scenery now presented to me, and 16* 186 16(3)v 186 the consciousness, that I was passing through La Vendee.
We came to one spot, where was fought a most bloody battle, between the republicans commanded by General Hoche, and the Vendeans under General Charette, in which ten thousand persons were left dead upon the field. It so happened, that an old man, who had belonged to the republican army at the time, was seated just before the coupee, and accidentally discovering this to be the case, the gentlemen entered into conversation with him, and related many very interesting anecdotes concerning the battle. He had often seen the two Larochejaqueleins and the Marquis de Lescure and his wife:—and being a postillion at the time of Bonaparte’s defeat at Waterloo, he had carried off Maria Louisa and the young King of Rome. He still serves as a postillion, and drove us the latter part of the way. He seemed to be very intelligent and communicative, and, like all old soldiers, was glad to find some one ready to listen to his past adventures.
In some places, we remarked that the trees were of very small growth, and apparently young. The old postillion informed us that they were actually so, all the trees having been cut down by the government during the war, as affording too strong a hold for the insurgents.
Towards evening, we arrived at the city of Bourbon Vendee, which was built by Napoleon, 187 16(4)r 187 and formerly called Napoleonville. The Cathedral, near which we passed, was rather a striking looking building; but the general situation of the city was far from pleasant. We dined at the Hotel d’Europe, and the room, in which dinner was served, gave strong evidence, that although the name of the city was changed, some of its inhabitants, at least, were in spirit true to its great founder. The landscape paper presented a series of the different battles in which Napoleon was engaged; and in several of them his figure was very conspicuous, and so just a resemblance too, that no one could doubt, an instant, for whom it was intended. We have very frequently, in this part of France, heard sentiments expressed, that proved the speakers to be Bonapartists in heart, while the whole Bourborn family are evidently unpopular, to a very great degree, and particularly among the lower classes of society. Charles Tenth and the priests seem to be equally disliked, and I may say denounced, by them, and I never heard a single voice speak in praise of the King or Dauphin.
Our ride from Bourbon Vendee to Rochelle was wearisome indeed. Few circumstances are more trying to the patience, than to be riding all night in a coach, where it is impossible to sleep, and where there are no exterior objects to attract attention, and keep off the ennui and painful drowsiness, incident upon such a situation.188 16(4)v 188 tion. But in France one must either stay by the diligence day and night, if he has a long journey before him, or run the risk of not finding a place again for many days. Consequently those, who have no time to spare, are in a manner obliged to ride during the night, and thus often lose a great deal, by passing through a delightful country, without being able to see it.
At five o’clock in the morning (1829-10-22Tuesday, the twenty-second,) we reached Rochelle, and, after four or five hours of profound sleep, I arose much refreshed, and prepared, when breakfast was concluded, for our usual ramble in a new city. But I was extremely disappointed as to the appearance of Rochelle. I had heard it spoken of as a pretty place, and found it one of the most homely and ordinary ones I had ever been in. Scarcely a building, of genteel aspect, was to be seen; and the streets, almost universally, were dirty, narrow, and irregular. The exception to this was three or four streets, near the Cathedral, bordered with buildings forming arcades at the bottom, and rather pretty in this respect; but after seeing the splendid Rue de Rivoli in Paris, all streets of this kind must necessarily appear inferior.
The Cathedral is not in any way remarkable, either within or without; and the Place d’Armes, upon which it stands, although a large square, is not particularly handsome. The church of Saint 189 16(5)r 189 Savior, as a whole, quite ordinary; but the chief altar, of white marble, is very neat and pretty. It is enclosed by an iron balustrade, with gilded ornaments; and the steps, and floor in front of it, are composed of different colored marbles. One of the most conspicuous objects in the church is a ship suspended from the wall, probably relating to the vow of some mariner;— and it is further remarkable, for being divided into pews, the first I have seen in a Roman Catholic church. The Bourse is constructed upon the same plan with that at Antwerp, but is very much inferior to it in size and beauty. The Theatre possesses nothing, in its appearance, to attract or please the eye.
The harbor of Rochelle is rather pretty than otherwise, and at each side of the entrance are large stone towers, which produce an imposing effect. The works executed in the harbor, for the very protection of the city against attacks by sea, are very extensive and quite celebrated.
At two o’clock, the same afternoon, we left Rochelle for Rochefort, not at all to my regret, as I could have no desire to remain in so dismal a city, longer than a few hours. The country, through which we passed to Rochefort, was extremely lonely, and destitute of interest. The villages were few in number, and scanty signs of cultivation were to be observed in the long intervals between them. The road was, 190 16(5)v 190 however, very excellent, and often passed close to the sea-shore.
At one post, where the horses were changed, I strolled along the beach, and collected some shells, to while away the time. Just beyond this place, a French gentleman pointed out to us a small tongue of land, extending out into the sea, which, he said, was the spot werewhere Napoleon embarked in a little boat, to go on board the Bellerophon, when he surrendered himself to the English. Not far from it, he shewed us the little foot path, by which the fallen monarch had proceeded to the sea-sidem to throw himself upon the mercy of his enemies, and as it proved, to be by them forever exiled from his country, never more to behold these shores, to which he was now bidding a sorrowful adieu, and towards which he doubtless cast many a longing, lingering look, as they receded from his sight.
Upon leaving this spot the country became rather more interesting, and continued so until our arrival at Rochefort, at five o’clock. The entrance to the city, through a faubourg without the walls, is very pretty, exhibiting an extensive esplanade, planted with avenues of trees. Rochefort is celebrated for its arsenal, and other works relating to the French marine; but the weather being very unpleasant, I did not attempt to see more of the city, than the occasional glimpses of different parts of it, which I could obtain191 16(6)r 191 tain in entering and leaving it. The next day we started for Blaye. The only remarkable thing, which I observed on the way, before reaching Saintes, was fields of Indian corn, the first I have seen growing in Europe. Great quantities of it were hung up to dry upon the sides of the houses.
At Saintes, we remained long enough to dine, and to see the principal curiosities of the place, before the diligence was in readiness to depart. This city is of very ancient date, and contains some monuments of antiquity. One of the most striking is the triumphal arch, formerly erected upon the bank of the river Charente, which having changed its bed, the arch is now in the midst of the river, and in fact, forms part of a bridge erected in modern times, by which means it is better preserved. The church of St. Eutrope is said to contain curiosities interesting to antiquarians, and its elevated tower is the most conspicuous object, in approaching Saintes.— The ruins of a Roman amphitheatre and aqueduct are near the road, upon the right hand in leaving the city.
The road now passes for a long distance up an ascent, in some places quite steep, and affording a pleasant view of the surrounding country, which is well cultivated, and abounds with extensive vineyards. Just at dark we passed through Pons, a city of considerable extent, 192 16(6)v 192 eminent in former times, and at one o’clock in the night arrived at Blaye.
The Hotel de l’Union, where we passed the remainder of the night, was a dreary looking place, and the rooms, with their dirty, coarse board floors, very badly aired; a pretty fair indication that the Hotel had not been much frequented. The bed-clothes, however, were clean and dry; and I slept very soundly until ten in the morning, when, after partaking of an excellent breakfast, we went on board the steam boat for Bordeaux. This boat was much larger than the last we were in, and the cabin quite pleasant and commodious; the company was numerous; and we had a very agreeable sail of a few hours, which brought us to Bordeaux early on Thursday.
Bordeaux.—Shipping.—Theatre.—Place Royale.—Bridge.— Saint Michel.—Vault of Saint Michel.—Cathedral.—Chateau Royal.—Exchange.—Place de Tourny.—Hotel Dieu.—Eglise des Feuillians.—Palais de Justice.—Museum.—Place des Quincones.—Columns.—Cemetery.—Saint Bruno.—Jardin Public.—Saint Seurin.—Amphitheatre.—Fair.—Interior of the Bridge.—Costume.
The approach to Bordeaux by water is exceedingly fine. Before landing, we passed a long, uniform row of handsome buildings, and upon the place in front were two beautiful triumphal193 17(1)r 193 phal columns recently erected. The harbor is full of shipping, not anchored along the wharves, as is usually the case with us; but moored off in the river, having the appearance of a large fleet. Among the different ships, we joyfully recognized the stars and stripes of our own dear country, upon the merchant ship Spartan, whose beauty was doubly enhanced by being placed in contrast with a number of Dutch vessels, with their square bows and clumsy looking hulls. At a little distance from these was a beautiful French ship, its snow white flag waving gracefully in the breeze.
In going from the boat to the Hotel de France, we passed through the fine square containing the triumphal columns, and planted, in some parts of it, with regular avenues of trees. Large, splendid buildings, a pretty cafe, and a small theatre, have been very recently erected here, and some of the buildings are not even yet completed.
The following day after our arrival at Bordeaux, we employed in walking about the city, which we found to exceed the high expectations, which we had formed of it, from the observations of other persons, who had visited it.
The Theatre is a spacious and richly decorated edifice, surrounded by porticos, and ornamented in front with columns supporting a balustrade, upon which are a range of statues corresponding to the columns. From thence we 17 194 17(1)v 194 traversed the Place Royale, one of the handsomest in Bordeaux, and now occupied with little booths and stalls, temporarily erected for the great fair, which is held at this season, and where are sold all varieties of small merchandize. It was perfectly crowded with persons buying and selling, and often presented a very lively and amusing scene. The houses and other buildings, around the place, are lofty and regular, and in the centre is a beautiful fountain.
We next passed through a handsome stone gate, to the magnificent bridge thrown over the Garonne, which excels in beauty any I have seen in Europe. It is supported upon sixteen arches, beautifully finished, and the two side walks form elevated terraces. They are covered with gravel, and different kinds of figures are formed upon them, with small stones. The central walk is, likewise, overspread with gravel. One great peculiarity, which this bridge possesses, is, that you may walk from one end of it to the other, through a gallery, constructed within the arches, and lighted by little windows opening upon the water along the side of the bridge. The view, from either of the terraces, is very beautiful, and long ranges of superb edifices are seen, extending, in a semicircular form, along each side of the stone gate before mentioned.
Our next point was the church of St. Michel, which is remarkable for the beauty of its gothic 195 17(2)r 195 architecture, and for the splendor of its interior decorations. The chapels, at each side, are enclosed by rich iron gates, surmounted with gilt bordering, and they are nearly all ornamented with a great profusion of gilding and marble. Some of the ornaments are in very bad taste; but the effect of the whole is very splendid. The pulpit is composed of compartments of variegated marbles, divided by beautifully carved wood work. The steps, leading to it, are of marble and wood to correspond. The sounding board represents the angel Michael, with a drawn sword in his hand, and cherubim at his feet.
Directly opposite the church, is a tower, called the Tower of St. Michel, which possesses the singular property of preserving dead bodies from decay. We first went to the top, to enjoy a beautiful view of Bordeaux and the harbor, and afterwards descended to the vault. It was quite a large room, with bodies ranged around against the walls. Some of them had been dead for the period of eight hundred years; but still the features, and most of the limbs, remained entire, and the skin was precisely like parchment. Upon the head of one there was young hair growing out, as smooth and soft as an infant’s. Many of them had been distinguished characters while living, and among others a Knight of Malta. In the centre of the vault was a large heap of bones, and of the dust of the dead, seventeen feet 196 17(2)v 196 in depth. I will not attempt to describe the feelings, with which I gazes upon these enduring remnants of mortality, and upon these inanimate forms, which retained the lineaments of life, when the vital principle had been for so many centuries extinct.
On the same day I visited the Cathedral, an immense building of the gothic style, and which would be very elegant, in its exterior, were it not that the view of it is almost totally concealed, on every side, by houses, that entirely destroy the effect, which would otherwise be produced by an edifice of its large size, and beauty of architecture. The two spires, rising above the surrounding buildings, are extremely light and beautiful. The interior of the church is imposing and grand, like others of similar style. Upon the same place with the Cathedral is a sumptuous building, surrounding a court, called the Chateau Royal, formerly the palace of the Archbishop. The court is enclosed by iron gates, with the royal arms over the centre. From thence we pursued our way to the Rue de Chapeau Rouge a fine broad street, very highly and justly celebrated, nearly all the buildings upon which are lofty and of much beauty. The Exchange, situated in this street, is a noble edifice, originally constructed with an open area and covered arcades around it; but owing to the great press of business, it was found that the arcades were not sufficiently extensive197 17(3)r 197 sive to shelter all the merchants in unpleasant weather, and a roof was, therefore, thrown over the whole, forming one vast hall. The galleries are now filled with shops.
Not far from the Rue de Chapeau Rouge, is the Place de Tourny, where is erected a statue of Tourney, a former mayor of the city. This statue has one striking defect, the disproportionate smallness of the pedestal, which imparts an air of insignificance to the whole monument. It stands in a fine open square, with beautiful, spacious avenues leading from it, and of course it requires that the statue should be colossal or equestrian, to appear to any advantage, which now it certainly does not. The avenues, called Alles de Tourny, are much frequented as a promenade. Thus finished the day’s rambles, which had afforded me much gratification.
The next day we walked to the Place St. Julien, remarkable for its beautiful gate, which has the aspect of a fine triumphal arch; and from thence to the new Hospital, or Hotel Dieu, a most magnificent stone building, beautifully contructed, with a portico in front supported by four large columns, and a range of buildings extending from it to each side. Above the centre of the portico rises a dome. A very fine street passes to the Hospital on one side; and a little farther on is a pleasant walk, planted with trees, called the Allees d’Albret.17* 198 17(3)v 198
After this I visited a number of churches, none of them particularly worthy of remark, except the Eglise des Feuillans, and that of Notre Dame; the former, as containing the monument of Montaigne, and the latter for its beautiful architecture, its chief altar being composed of one solid block of marble. The choir is enclosed with gates of iron. The monument, just mentioned, consists of a white marble cenotaph, ornamented with various carved figures. Upon it reclines a full-length statue of Montaigne, in armor, with a casque at his head, and a pair of glove at his side. His feet are supported by a lion.
The Palais de Justice is a very beautiful pile of buildings, occupying three sides of a large area, with gates upon the fourth side. The principal pile is surmounted by the royal arms.
The Museum, in the neighborhood of the Theatre, possesses a fine collection of natural history, and of very valuable antiquities. The latter consist principally of Roman statues, broken pedestals, large stones with Roman inscriptions upon them, or carved with various figures, and monuments forming part of tombs. There is, also, a carved cenotaph, supposed to have been executed before the Christian era. The library, belonging to the same building, contains a very beautiful bust of Montesquieu. The number of books, composing it, is one hundred and thirty thousand.
In returning home, we passed through the superb199 17(4)r 199 perb new square, the Place des Quinconces, and descending a flight of steps, from the place, into a street bordering upon the river, we obtained a fine view of the two beautiful triumphal columns, just erected there, which are exactly alike, ornamented with military trophies from distance to distance upon the outside, and the top surmounted by statues. They are to be ascended like the column in the Place Vendome. Looking beyond the columns, to the extremity of the place, you see the white marble pedestal, upon which a statue of Louis Sixteenth is to be erected; and further still, the delightful Allees de Tourny, the noble place, and the statue of Tourny, which, if proper height and size, would be a beautiful object from this spot.
The following morning, (1829-10-25October 25th) we arose early and walked to the Cemetery. This is a large square, enclosed within a wall, and traversed by broad walks, bordered on each side with plain trees, their branches meeting at the top. On both sides of these alleys were rows of beautiful monuments, many of them of similar construction, perfectly plain and simple; and others, more striking and elegant, representing the different forms of temples, columns, pyramids, and obelisks. The whole of the central spaces, in the Cemetery, were apparently occupied with the graves of the poor, as they were only marked by a plain black wooden cross, bearing the 200 17(4)v 200 names, ages, time of birth and decease. These crosses were very numerous, and, unadorned as they were, produced a pleasing effect.
Near the Cemetery is situated the church of Saint Bruno, which possesses one of the most rich and splendid altar-pieces to be found in France. It is composed entirely of marble, and the statues which adorn it are of exquisite beauty. When we came into the church, there were a great number of little boys, upon their knees, listening to the exhortations of the priest at the altar, and the attention, which they paid to the exercise, might have served as an example to many, older and wiser than themselves.
Suspended from the ceiling of this church, we observed, immediately upon entering, a large white silk flag, with a figure of the Dutchess d’Angouleme upon it, having cherubs hovering about her head. The inscription hailed her as the guardian angel of France, and prayed for long life to the Bourbons, and that they might ever reign over the hearts of their people. This is one, among various other inscriptions of the kind, which we have seen at Bordeaux, professing the loyalty of its inhabitants to their sovereign and his family, a circumstance very unusual in the present state of things in France.
The Jardin Public, to which we then repaired, is a very pleasant promenade, surrounded with trees, and having a green lawn in the centre. It 201 17(5)r 201 was originally intended to have been formed into a garden, but has never been completed. The Allees d’Amour are a pleasant avenue of trees, leading up to the front of the ancient church of Saint Seurin. The form of this church, and its gothic ornaments, are in very curious and whimsical style. The interior contains nothing remarkable, except a large monument to the memory of a celebrated bishop, and a subterranean chapel, or vault, which is represented to be rather curious, but can only be seen, when opened upon very particular religious occasions.
We next came to the ruins of the ancient Amphitheatre. A number of arches, and many of the black, heavy masses, once composing the building, still remain entire; and one may obtain a tolerably good idea of its former size and grandeur. The whole of the interior of the ruin is filled up with wretched hovels, which not only destroys its venerable aspect, but must inevitably hasten its total destruction. How strange it is, that cities possessing such interesting monuments of former times, should not be more careful to preserve them from decay; and yet we often find them, either wantonly abused and injured, or else entirely neglected, and left to the destroying hands of any low, indigent person, who may choose to place a miserable hut within the precincts of what was once the price and boast of the greatest of nations.202 17(5)v 202
From the Amphitheatre, we proceeded to the opposite extremity of the city, to see the interior of the bridge, which we had omitted doing, in our first visit to it. Arriving at the Place Royale, I was astonished at the varied and mirthful scene, which it presented, and, till remembering that it was the season of the great fair, I could not imagine a cause for the vast collection of people assembled there. All kinds of games, shows, and sports were going on, and small tents were erected, in different parts of the place, for those exhibitions, that were to be paid for. At the great variety of little booths and shops, to be met with at every step, were crowds of children, with their attendants, purchasing toys, fruits, and cakes, which were displayed, by the eager sellers, in the greatest profusion and abundance, and cried up as being the best and cheapest to be had.
In another part of the place, were two whirligigs. One consisted of rigged vessels with the sails spread, fastened at the ends of poles projecting from a central post, Between the vessels were wooden horses, fastened to poles in the same manner. Upon these horses little boys were placed, each with a pointed stick in his hand, and then the whole was turned round, with the utmost rapidity. The object of the pointed sticks was, that the boys might catch upon them a small ring, which was held out to each, as they passed. If they succeeded in catching it, they 203 17(6)r 203 paid nothing for their course; but otherwise a few sous were demanded. The other was the same as this, only that there were six giraffes, or cameleopards, instead of the vessels and horses.
Within one of the covered tents was exhibited a boy, eleven years of age, who weighed a hundred and forty pounds. He was dressed in a blue merino robe, trimmed with golds, which came down to the knees, and white pantalets below. Upon his head was a purple velvet cap, with plumes, one large one bending gracefully over in front. He had very mild blue eyes, and his brown hair curled in ringlets around his forehead. His features and complexion were altogether beautiful, and the expression of his countenance bright and happy.
Another exhibition of the same kind, was a girl of sixteen years old, nearly seven feet in height, but so perfectly well proportioned, that at first she did not appear of such enormous stature; but it became very apparent, when a gentleman considerably above the average height, stood by her side, and she passed her arm horizontally, backwards and forwards above his head several times. There could be no deception, either, as she walked about, ascended and descended a flight of steps, and displayed her foot and ancle, which were in good proportion with the rest of her form. Like the boy I just mentioned, she had one of the sweetest faces I ever saw.204 17(6)v 204
Then there was a young man, very fantastically dressed, and having a leather strap around each ancle, to which hooks were fastened behind. He places a sort of ladder, or rather, plank, perhaps eight or ten feet long, with steps upon it, against the wall, and ascending to the top of it, attached one foot to one of the two iron rings, which were upon the board; and then crossing his arms over his breast, he threw himself down on one side, and rose again without assistance and without moving his arms. He then fastened both hooks, and threw himself forward, raised a large iron weight in this position, and with a slight touch, from the man who stood by him, regained his former position. This achievement required great muscular strength, and seemed to fatigue the poor fellow very much, for he breathed short, and was in a profuse perspiration after having accomplished it.
He was followed by a girl, twenty-five years of age, who was left an orphan, when very young, and had the misfortune nearly at the same time to lose both her hands. By means, however, of constant perseverance, she had learned to do with the mutilated stumps, almost all that we do with both hands. I saw her knit part of a silk purse, work lace, make lace upon a frame, string very small beads, thread a needle, write, and pare an apple, with as much dexterity as any person, and all with the wrists alone. It was certainly205 18(1)r 205 tainly a wonderful exhibition, and I could scarcely have believed such a thing to be possible, had I not seen it with my own eyes.
I was not, as you may suppose, agreeably impressed with this strange mode of passing Sunday, so totally different from the manner in which it is observed in our country. It appears to me, too, a miserable way of spending time, and calculated to produce any other than a good effect upon the minds of young persons, who are exposed to hear all kinds of vulgar and profane language, and to acquire a thousand bad habits, from the idle and dissolute, who are always to be found in such places. Here, too, poor people are tempted to spend, in foolish amusements and useless baubles, the little money, that they may have worked hard through the week to earn, and which, perhaps the very next day they may be in absolute want of. From these scenes I gladly turned, to pursue my way to the bridge, having been drawn aside from this object, by the irresistible curiosity of witnessing the manner in which a Sunday fete is held in France.
Arriving at the bridge, we crossed over, and passed into the gallery upon the inside. This I found perfectly light, and nearly high enough for me to stand erect, with my bonnet on. I did not go entirely through, as there was no outlet at the other end; but advanced sufficiently to see the whole gallery, which reaches to the farthest extremity18 206 18(1)v 206 tremity of the bridge. It is not, indeed, of much use, except as a curiosity; but as such it is very pretty, and quite unique. Before leaving this spot for the last time, we stood upon the terrace of the bridge to admire the beautiful prospect, which we could not be weary of gazing upon. The great number of vessels, that seemed to cover the entire surface of the river, many of them with full spread sails, and the bright flags of almost every nation waving from the different masts, produced an indescribably beautiful effect, added to the splendid line of buildings, already described, and which have more the appearance of a range of palaces, than that of mere houses or magazines, as most of them are.
Returning home, we again entered the Place Royale, and passed through the Exchange, where were collected, in the part occupied as shops, great numbers of the grisettes of the city and country; that is, girls of the lower rank, very prettily dressed in neat gingham gowns, and black silk aprons, with the indispensable appendage of two pockets in front; and wearing upon their heads striped Madras handkerchiefs, twisted into tasteful turbans, and over their shoulders small merino handkerchiefs, all which had a charming effect. There was, beside these, another class, which seemed to be of more pretension, who wore silk dresses and handsome lace caps, very much trimmed, instead of the striped 207 18(2)r 207 turbans of the other. The mark of distinction in dress between this latter class, and that of ladies is, that they wear no bonnets, these being exclusively confined to ladies alone.
We arrived at our hotel just in time for dinner, and the next morning, before day-light, (1829-10-26October twenty-sixth,) set off in the steam boat for Marmande, having spent three days much to our satisfaction in Bordeaux. It was by far the handsomest and most agreeable city I had seen in France, with the exception of Paris, and appears to be in a very flourishing situation. New buildings were going up, in various parts of it, and the great quality of shipping in the harbor, as well as the general activity, observable in all the public places of the city, evinced its successful enterprise.
Steam boat.—Clergy.—The Garonne.—La Reole.—Meillan.— Marmande.—Agen.—Hermitage.—Cathedral.—Diligence.— Women.—Face of the Country.—Castelsarasin.—Toulouse.
The steam boat, in which we started for Marmande, was a very pretty one, particularly the gentlemen’s cabin, which was neatly finished with a great deal of mahogany work, and was surrounded with mirrors. The ladies’ cabin had a 208 18(2)v 208 profusion of gilding about it, and was too tawdry to be handsome. Neither of them was carpeted, but each was covered with handsome red cloth, with yellow trimming.
Among the variety of persons on board, there chanced to be quite a party of priests, one of them a most striking likeness of Napoleon. We had observed the resemblance, the moment we looked at him, and one of his companions afterwards informed us, that the same remark had frequently been made before. He had a very mild, interesting countenace, and was quite pensive and silent, almost all the time he was in the boat. Several times, during the day, these priests collected together to read prayers aloud, and finished each time by crossing themselves, and repeating a short prayer mentally, covering their faces with their hands.
I cannot but feel the greatest commiseration for this class of people in France. They are excessively disliked by the great body of the nation, and paid a stipend so small, as scarcely to be sufficient, itself alone, to find them bread. Never being allowed to marry, they have none of the endearments of home, nor any of the comforts and enjoyments of a happy fireside, to compensate them for the want of their people’s confidence and love, or for the arduous and laborious duties, in which many of them are constantly engaged. They have appeared to me, as far as my 209 18(3)r 209 knowledge of them extends, to be very amiable, kind hearted men; and they are ever ready to give a stranger any information in their power, as we have ourselves frequently experienced.
The borders of the Garonne, between Bordeaux and Marmande, are not for the most part particularly beautiful; but the very circuitous course, which the river pursues, often presents pleasing and varied landscapes. Of the several villages and towns that we passed, La Reole and Meillan were the most remarkable. The former was anciently fortified, and the ruins of its walls, and part of an old castle, are still to be seen. The most prominent object, however, is a large, handsome building, formerly the convent of the Benedictines, but now devoted to some public purpose. The town itself is prettily situated, covering the summit of a hill, and sloping down to the river. Meillan is built upon the top of a beetling steep, almost perpendicular in front, and as you sail along under it, the village seems actually to be among the clouds. The scenery around this spot is exceedingly romantic and picturesque. The road is seen winding along the side of the hill, and a small cascade, falling from one of the heights, increases the beauty of the view.
At half-past eight o’clock, in the afternoon, we arrived at Marmande. Landing from the boat, we crossed over a large square, nearly shoe 18* 210 18(3)v 210 deep in mud, and filled with travellers, porters, and boot-blacks, and entered a small tavern until some arrangements should be made to convey us to Agen, as, contrary to our expectations, we found no regular line of diligences connected with the steam boat. A number of vehicles were standing round, in different parts of the yard, some of them all in readiness to depart, in various ways, waiting only for the passengers, who, having, like ourselves, just arrived in the steam boat, had entered the inn to obtain a cup of coffee or tea, to prepare them for the fatigue of their nocturnal journey.
It was highly amusing to watch the proceedings of the different individuals in the tavern, and particularly of the females belonging to it, who seemed to amount to twenty at least, all busily engaged in making preparations for serving up the ample dinner, that was cooking before the enormous fire; and in answering to the various demands of the travellers, who were passing in and out, and who, having no time to spare, hurried the poor women this way and that, until they hardly seemed to know whither to turn; and each crying out to the other to do, what she might just as well have done herself, created such a scene of confusion and tumult, as I never saw surpassed. And it was impossible for me to understand a single word that was said, as they all talked, or should I say screamed, in the provincial211 18(4)r 211 cial dialect of the country, a strange mixture of French, Spanish, and Italian.
Having procured from a neighboring coffeehouse an excellent cup of coffee, which may always be found in France, if every thing else fails, I was prepared to enter the wretched voiture, which was the only conveyance we could possibly obtain to take us to Agen, and so filled with passengers, that we were all obliged to sit in one position, and that not the most easy, for four or five hours. At two o’clock the voiture stopped at a little inn, by the way side, and gave us an hour to refresh ourselves, of which we stood very much in need, after such a tedious watching.
But out first glance at the cheerless looking habitation, into which we were ushered, quite deprived us of all expectation of finding any thing to appease our hunger or thirst; and no person appearing to bid us welcome, we undertook to make ourselves welcome, and at least to provide some fire, to warm our chilled limbs, from a heap of coals almost smothered in ashes, which we found in the chimney. Procuring some light, dry wood, we soon kindled a bright blaze, and, making a virtue of necessity, banished all care and useless complaints, and seated ourselves around the cheerful fire in great good humor, comforting outselves with the reflection, that this was but a little variety in the usual course of our travels,212 18(4)v 212 els, which would serve to make us more content with the better fare, we might meet with hereafter.
By this time the landlord had been aroused, and came down half asleep, with a white cotton cap upon his head, making a most sorry figure. Having obtained some wine from him, and a promise that something more substantial should be forthcoming, we searched around and found an earthen pan, in which we heated the wine, made very sweet with sugar, and found it as refreshing as it was palatable. The landlady soon appeared, in a bustling, active good natured-personage as need be; and in a few moments a table was set, and a nice cold chicken placed before us, to which, I assure you, we did not delay to do immediate justice. Our excellent repast was seasoned with the merry jokes of our companions, now become very numerous from the arrival of two other carriages full of passengers, who, seating themselves around the fire, seemed quite to forget, in their joyous mood, all troubles past and to come.
When the horses were sufficiently rested to perform the rest of the journey, for we had the same team for the whole distance of forty-two miles, we again resumed our place in the voiture, so much benefitted by the hour’s delay as to ride along quite patiently, for the next six hours, which brought us to Agen. It so happened, that there were two opposition lines of diligences from 213 18(5)r 213 Agen to Toulouse, and the offices of both were side by side, near the spot where we alighted. No sooner was the door opened, than a dozen loud voices, both male and female, assailed us in chorus, uttering the most discordant sounds in equally discordant language. One cried out in favor of one diligence, two or three for another, all saying the same thing over and over again, and not listening at all to the reiterated entreaties, of the party addressed, that they would speak one at a time, if they wished to be understood. For ourselves, we stood looking from one speaker to the other, and laughing most heartily at the tremendous din, which they occasioned; and having fortunately obtained information, from a disinterested by-stander, that no diligence left Agen until the following morning, we immediately repaired to the Hotel Petit St. Jean, upon the opposite side of the way, leaving the noisy group to find some one else, upon whom to exercise their lungs. The hotel proved to be a very good one, though, as usual, wanting the comforts, that we think so necessary at home, but which in France it is impossible to obtain.
After breakfast we took a walk, through a beautiful avenue of trees along the bank of the Garonne, to the handsome bridge, erected within a few years, over a part of the river, where the water runs with nearly as much velocity, as at the rapids of the St. Lawrence above 214 18(5)v 214 Niagara. For a considerable distance, on the side of Agen, the bank is built up with solid facings of stone, to protect it against the washing of the river.
From the bridge a fine view is enjoyed of a beautiful valley, at a short distance below, and also of the lofty hills, which bound the prospect on every side. We then passed around the outskirts of the city. Agen is a very old place, irregularly built, and possessing a few handsome edifices of any description; we, nevertheless, saw several neat looking streets, in which were a number of large shops, well filled with goods, of a better quality than I expected to find in a city so ordinary in its general appearance.
During our walk we had observed, at the top of a very steep ascent, a perpendicular rock, into which houses were cut, in the same style as those upon the Loire. Upon inquiry at the hotel, we learned that it was the Hermitage, which we had heard spoken of as a curiosity of the place, and we resolved to encounter the fatigue of ascending to it. This we accomplished with no little toil and difficulty, and passed through a gate into the yard in front of the Hermitage. It was originally the residence of hermits, and afterwards became the country house of a man of wealth. Subsequently to his decease it was sold, and is now owned by a farmer, who resides in it with his family.215 18(6)r 215
A number of little children were playing in the yard, when we entered it, and we sent them to call their father, who came and conducted us around every part of his domain. We were first shown a curious old chapel, with a rude stone altar, and near it a jet of water, apparently issuing from the side of the rock, the water as clear and pure as chrystal. We then passed through corridors, with rooms upon each side, which, within a few years, have been fitted up and furnished for an English family, who resided here several months, for the mere curiosity and fancy of the thing. Many of the rooms were neatly papered, and seemed very comfortable and pleasant. The garden was composed of different kinds of flowers, with fig trees and olives trees, and was ornamented with a pretty little arbor, covered with laurel. Beyond the garden were the barns and pigeon houses.
But the most remarkable thing, about the Hermitage, is the circumstance that every part of it, the chapel, the corridors and all the rooms upon them, the barns and pigeon houses, were excavated in the solid rock; which renders it sufficiently curious to compensate one for the trouble of scrambling up the toilsome ascent to reach it. Before arriving at the summit, we had half repented having undertaken the expedition; but we found ourselves amply repaid, not only by a view of the Hermitage itself; but in having, also a 216 18(6)v 216 better prospect of the surrounding country, than could have been obtained from any other point. The slope of the elevation, upon which we stood, was covered with vineyards, or pastures filled with cattle; and the city beneath, with the river winding through it, and the wide spread country beyond, terminated by a circle of majestic hills,—formed, together, a picture not unworthy the painter’s pencil.
Descending into the city, we visited several churches, all very ill-looking buildings, though containing some few objects worth seeing. The former Cathedral, destroyed during the revolution, appears to have been a more stately edifice than the other churches, if we may judge from the lofty front, and the seventeen beautiful arches of the nave, which still remain.
On Wednesday morning, at eight o’clock, (1829-10-28October twenty-eighth,) we left Agen for Toulouse. The chief manager of the diligence, in which we took passage, was a woman, who made all the bargains with the passengers; and having occasion to go to Toulouse herself, she mounted into the imperiale, and became for the whole journey, actually though not nominally, the conducteur. She was one of the persons, who had laid siege to us the preceding day, and her dress was, in every respect, the same that she then wore. She had neither bonnet, shawl, nor any other garment to mark the traveller; but the 217 19(1)r 217 same gown, apron, and cap, that she would probably have worn in superintending the domestic affairs of her family, served for a journey to Toulouse, and an absence of two or three days from home. It is, indeed, no unusual sight in France, to see women assume the coarse and masculine air and manner of the other sex; nor is it strange it should be so, when we see them engaged in all the laborious employments, that, in our more favored country, are performed by men alone. Often, when travelling in the steam boat, I have seen women come to the shore, and bear off heavy trunks and other baggage upon their shoulders, and perform various other services of the kind, like common porters. And in respect to agricultural occupations, it is quite usual to see nearly as large a proportion of women, at work in the fields digging and hoeing, as of men, and the same thing may be observed in almost all the active and laborious offices of life.
We had a msot charming ride, for a greater part of the way to Toulouse, through a delightful country, abounding with vineyards and orchards, and with extensive tracts of land in the highest state of cultivation, and enlivened by multitudes of laborers, both male and female, engaged in turning up the rich black mould to receive the different kinds of grain, which was generally planted by women, one going just behind the plough to throw in the grain, and the other following to cover 19 218 19(1)v 218 it with the soil. In many places the land was divided into little squares, each belonging to a different proprietor, and enclosed by rows of grape vines or currant bushes, forming a thick hedge all around. The road wound delightfully along, over hill and dale, mountain and valley,—the river occasionally hidden from our view, and then again breaking upon us in renewed beauty, as it passed, now rapidly, now tranquilly, along its winding course. Several little villages and hamlets contributed to diversify the scene, frequently looked frowningly down upon by some ancient ruin, standing in solitary desolation upon the highest summit of a neighboring mountain. At one spot, we passed through a beautiful, but lonely, valley, which has been in times past notorious for highway robberies, and whose retired situation, far from the habitations of men, rendered it a convenient retreat for the midnight desperado, though smiling in all the beauty and loveliness of cultivated nature.
We took our dinner at the gloomy, dismal looking town of Castelsarasin, and late in the evening reached Toulouse, the latter part of the journey having been very fatiguing and wearisome. The woman, who had the superintendance of the diligence, had positively assured us that we should be in Toulouse at eight o’clock, and used this as an argument in favor of our taking her diligence in preference to the other, which she said, would 219 19(2)r 219 not arrive for two or three hours later. This must have been merely a trick, to secure our taking her conveyance, as she undoubtedly knew, at the moment she told us so, that it was impossible, at the rate the diligence travels, to get to Toulouse at the promised hour.
When we arrived at the office, there was no porter to be found, to carry our baggage to the hotel; but in a short time a woman came forward, and offered her services for that purpose, which being accepted, she lifted one of the trunks upon her head, took a heavy travelling bag in her hand, and walked off at such a rapid rate that we with difficulty kept pace with her.
Toulouse.—Canal du Midi.—Canal de Brienne.—Bridge.— Church of St. Peter’s.—Notre Dame de la Daurade.—Inquisition.—Cathedral.—Museum.—Capitole.—Palais de Justice.— Church of the Visitation.—Reservoir.—Church of the Jacobins.—The Cordeliers.—Anecdote of the Vault.—College.— Saint Saturnin.
The Hotel d’Europe, at which we lodged in Toulouse, we found to be an excellent inn, where the accommodations were all very good, the food of the first quality, and the charges uncommonly moderate and reasonable.
We commenced our examination of the city 220 19(2)v 220 at the Place d’Angouleme, upon which the hotel stands. This is a regular place, open at one side, from which proceed the Allees d’Angouleme, a beautiful promenade leading to the Canal du Midi, or famous Canal of Languedoc, begun under the reign of Louis Fifteenth, and long considered one of the finest in the world. It is about the width of the Erie Canal, and has fine broad tow-paths, on each side, bounded by high, sloping banks planted with trees, and a great variety of little wilf flowers springing up by the water’s side. Occasionally the tall spire of a church is seen above the top of the bank, indicating the near vicinity of the city, though the canal is actually without its limits.
Pursuing the tow-paths for a long distance, we passed several locks, and finally reached the junction of the Canal du Midi with that of Brienne, which empties into it from an opposite direction, and is indeed only a branch of it. Here two bridges, joined together, cross the canals, and at one side of the spot where they meet is a large bas-relief of white Italian marble. To reach this you descend under the bridge, by the tow-path, to a spot of ground, which separates the two canals. The bas-relief is now much blackened and mutilated, but must originally have been very splendid. The central figure is a female, representing Languedoc, with a male figure and two boys engaged in digging the 221 19(3)r 221 canal at one hand, and at the other, a female and a boy driving a pair of oxen. All these different figures are colossal, and executed with much skill.
A little below this spot is the embouchure of the Canal du Midi, where its waters mingle with the river; and from thence, turning off to the right, we followed a path, conducting through quite a forest of trees, and among them several beautiful acacias, which leads to a faubourg of the city, where was a large washing establishment, a mill, and an extensive cotton manufactory. Passing along the quay, that borders one side of the Canal de Brienne, we arrived at a very pretty waterfall, in shape of a horse-shoe, and extending quite across the river. Although this fall is in part evidently artificial, I think there must have been something of the kind naturally formed there, otherwise there seems to be no sufficient reason for thus obstructing the navigation. Above this, a handsome bridge is thrown across the river, with a triumphal arch at each end.
We crossed the bridge to view the arch, but postponed, for the present, a visit to the part of the city situated on that side of the river, and again repassing to the opposite side we entered the church of Saint Peter’s. From the door a large vestibule conducts into the nave, which is divided from the choir by a double altar, placed under the dome of the church, and forming the 19* 222 19(3)v 222 nave and choir into two nearly equal parts, with a front to each. This altar is of white marble, and, like all the other architecture and ornaments of the church, is very splendid.
The church of Notre Dame de la Daurade is likewise a fine church, of vast dimensions, and very striking style of architecture. The choir is superb, and surrounded by the most beautiful pictures, illustrative of scenes in the life of the Virgin Mary. The execution and designs of all these paintings are truly admirable, and in that of the Annunciation, particularly, the figure of the Virgin is perfectly lovely.
This church contains one very singular monument of catholic superstition, which is a statue of the Virgin and Child, entirely black. I endeavored, by inquiry, to discover something, as to the origin of this strange idea; but could only learn, that the statue was Notre Dame noire, and held in equal veneration with the white Virgin, personified in other parts of the church, even with the beautiful representations of her in the choir; but how or why she should have been black, that still remained a mystery, that I in vain endeavored to solve.
After this we passed through a variety of streets, remarkable for the fine buildings which they contain, many of them more ancient than the rest, richly ornamented with carved stone work; and these, together with the lofty style in 223 19(4)r 223 which the private as well as public edifices are generally erected, impart an air of dignity and grandeur to the city, though, from its ancient date, and a certain sober appearance, produced by these lofty edifices being placed upon streets, for the most part quite narrow, it cannot be called, strictly speaking, a handsome place.
The church of the Inquisition, which we found after some difficulty, buried among the surrounding buildings, is very small, and only peculiar for its painted ceiling; and this cannot be seen to any advantage, owing to its great height, and the obscurity, that reigns around in consequence of the situation of the church. But it is nevertheless interesting, from having been the spot where the Inquisition was first established in France. The cell of St. Dominic is still to be seen, at the top of the stair-case, leading up from the vestibule of the church. It may be entered, but there being no person there at the time to unlock it, we only saw the door, and the grated window of the cell, from the bottom of the stairs.
The Cathedral, or church of St. Etienne, situated upon the Place St. Etienne, is a large misshapen mass outwardly, with no pretensions whatever to beauty. The interior possesses several fine painted windows, some rich decorations, and a few painted windows of considerable merit; but it is very irregularly built, and, as a whole, not strikingly elegant. The Palais Royal, or Hotel de la 224 19(4)v 224 Prefecture, a large handsome stone building, stands upon the same place with the Cathedral.
The Museum occupies the buildings of an ancient convent, the picture gallery being contained in what was formerly the body of the church. Many of the pictures are exceedingly fine, others quite inferior. One very beautiful picture represents the death of Louis, father of Francis the First; another the escape of William Tell from Gesler; and a third Ulysses appearing before Penelope in the guise of a beggar. From the church we entered the part of the building devoted to the collection of antiques. This was the former cloister, where the monks were accustomed to walk. It is a large square, or garden, surrounded by arcades of coupled columns, and in these the antiques are admirable arranged, and form an extremely interesting collection. Several of the statues, and some of the large monuments, are placed in different parts of the garden, surrounded with shrubs and flowers, and so arranged as to be nearly concealed by the overhanging branches of the trees, producing an uncommonly pleasing effect.
The next morning, at nine o’clock, we parted, with much regret, from our lively fellow traveller, who had contributed so much to the enjoyment of our journey thus far; and who departed in the diligence for Montpelier, on his way to Marseilles.225 19(5)r 225
After his departure, we walked to the Hotel de Ville, or Capitole, as it is called in the city, situated upon a large, handsome place of the same name. The exterior of this edifice is imposing and majestic, the left wing being occupied as a theatre. In entering, you pass through a square court into a vestibule, over the door of which is a statue of Henry Fourth with an inscription. Ascending a stair-case to the apartment of the concierge, or porter, we were shown through a large anti-chamber, into the Salles des Illustres, a very beautiful hall, with a double row of niches on both sides, each niche containing a bust of some eminent citizen of Toulouse, with the name, and an inscription beneath. At the upper end is a bust of Louis Fourteenth, in a niche, with bas- reliefs around it, and above it two cherubs, holding a crown, with these words inscribed over it: L’esperance la suit, et l’amour l’environne. The hall likewise contains a statue of the Duke of Bordeaux, and a full length portrait of Louis Eighteenth.
In the Salle de l’Academic are a statue very much mutilated during the revolution, of the celebrated poetess, Clemence Isaure; also a plaister statue of the Duke of Bordeaux, busts of Louis Eighteenth and of the Duke of and Dutchess d’Angouleme, and a picture representing the Duke receiving knighthood. The Salle du Bal is a neat, beautiful apartment, surrounded with 226 19(5)v 226 large medallions, containing little dancing figures in bas-relief, each different from the rest. The figures are white upon a blue ground.
The Salle du Trone, which leads out from this, is equally beautiful and more richly decorated. It is a circular room, with eight bronze female figures at equal distances around it, supporting candelabras upon their heads. The ceiling, painted with various figures of cherubim holding branches, garlands, and crowns, represents on one side the rising, on the other the setting sun. The form of it is concave, and the light is admitted just beneath the edge of the platform. The room is farther adorned with military trophies, and with beautiful chairs, for royal use; and at one side is a full length portrait of Charles Tenth.
From the Capitole, we proceeded to the Place St. Etienne, and again entered the Cathedral, to examine it more minutely than we had at first been able to do; and from thence walked to a delightful public promenade, called the Grand Rond, much frequented by the ladies of Toulouse. The centre is occupied by a large fountain, newly built, enclosed within an iron railing. There was no water in the fountain at the time, as it had not yet gone into operation. Five alleys, bordered with trees, lead in different directions from the centre of the walk, and at a little distance you see the Jardin Royal, thickly planted with lime trees, affording an agreeable shade.227 19(6)r 227
We then passed through the Faubourg Saint Etienne, and visited the Palais de Justice. This was undergoing repair, and a large number of men and women were at work in the yard, which was strewed with rubbish and dirt in every part. We succeeded in making our way through this to the porter’s lodge, and his daughter then conducted us into the court house. The principal room, called the court of Assizes, is entered by a handsome vestibule, supported by columns. The windows of the apartments are hung with blue silk festoons. Behind the judges’ seat are suspended drapery hangings of blue cloth, spotted with yellow fleurs de lis. The Chambre Doree is chiefly remarkable for its ceiling, which is divided into squares, with a figure as large as life in each compartment. The whole is highly gilt, and produces a singular, but not very elegant effect.
We now directed our course towards the bridge, to view the curiosities upon the opposite side of the river. On our way to it, we entered the church of Visitation, through part of a nunnery, and one of the nuns, or sisters of charity as they are denominated, came forward to show us the passage conducting to it. The church is very pretty, and perfectly neat. At each side the choir was a large iron grating, behind which the nuns assemble, when services are performed.
Coming to the bridge, we crossed over, and passing through the arch already mentioned, 228 19(6)v 228 adorned at the top by an equestrian statue, we entered a very spacious, fine street, extending for some distance, and terminating at a large square place, surrounded with regular buildings, enclosed, at the side opposite the street, by a high iron balustrade. At each side of them are pedestals, bearing colossal statues, one representing Toulouse, the other province of Languedoc.
Immediately after passing the bridge, you see at the left hand a pleasant, shady promenade, used for exercising troops;—and advancing a little further, you come to a very neat tower, with a cupola at the top, situated in a little valley, a bridge passing over to it from the street. This is the public reservoir, that supplies the whole city with water, and really forms an extremely pretty object, though one would hesitate long, before he would imagine for what purpose it was intended.
The Hospital de la Grave, and the church of Saint Nicholas, neither of them remarkable, completed our researches on this side of the river; and we re-crossed the bridge into the city, and pursued our way to the ancient convent and church of the Jacobins; and to those of the Dominicans and the Cordeliers, all near each other, and now deovted to military purposes alone, either as barracks, stables, or store-houses.
We entered the immense yard of the Jacobins, where squadrons of horse may manœuvre with all 229 20(1)r 229 ease, and by permission of the guard, looked into the church. A few loose horses were its only occupants, and they seemed to be wandering round, very contentedly, among the lofty columns, which supported two rows of handsome arches on the side of the church. The effect was very singular, of seeing an edifice, so splendid as this evidently had been, converted into a mere stable,— a use so entirely derogatory to its ancient grandeur, and to the sacred purposes, for which it was originally designed. We next passed round the outside of the building, and came in front of an enormous brick pile, which was the convent of the Dominicans. Obtaining permission of one of the officers to enter, we came to the church, which contained a large number of horses, all feeding at stalls placed in the different chapels. The former arched roof is now concealed by a wooden ceiling, that has been built more recently. The back court, to which a passage conducts from the church, is surrounded by a gallery, supported by small gothic pillars, which anciently was the promenade for the monks. At one side was a range of very large chapels, each now serving as a stable.
The church of the Cordeliers is appropriated merely to the storage of hay and grain. Over the entrance is a painted window, and the sides are occupied by chapels;—all the ornaments being, of course, destroyed. This 20 230 20(1)v 230 church formerly contained a vault, which, like that of St. Michel in Bordeaux, possessed the property of preserving dead bodies. A singular anecdote is related concerning it, as follows:
Two young men were conversing together respecting this strange phenomenon, and in the course of conversation, one dared the other to descend into the vault at midnight, alone and without a light. This challenge was immediately accepted, and the night appointed, upon which the trial was to be made. The proof required by the challenger, that his companion had actually been to the vault, was, that he should drive a nail into a certain part of the wall, which was indicated. In the mean time, it had been whispered about that such a thing was in agitation, and on the night agreed upon a large crowd of persons had assembled around the church, to await the result. The young man at length arrived, and descended very resolutely into the vault, where he remained so long, that the crowd above became very uneasy, fearing some fatal accident might have occurred; but when another hour passed and he came not, their anxiety grew so pressing, that it was determined some of the more bold among them should go down with a light, and ascertain the cause of his strange and continued absence. When they arrived at the spot, they found the unfortunate young man, lying on his face, perfectly lifeless. In raising the body 231 20(2)r 231 from the floor, the cause of the state in which he was found became apparent. In driving the nail, a part of the skirt of his coat had accidentally been fastened with it, and when turning to depart, feeling himself detained by an invisible hand, as it were, it is probable that his superstitious fears overcame his better reason. They were heightened, perhaps, by previous agitation, and dread of his attempt, which he was ashamed to confess. He thus fell victim to his own weakness, either in having undertaken to perform a task above his courage, or, having once undertaken it, in not possessing sufficient resolution to carry him through successfully. Every means was, of course, used to restore him; but all in vain, as life has been long extinct ere the fatal catastrophe was discovered.
Near this church is the College Royale, which we entered, and saw the chapel, a neat but unadorned room; and passing through some other parts of the building, we mounted to the top of one of the towers, where is obtained an extensive view of the city.
The church of Saint Saturnin, which we saw on our return home, is one of the finest churches in Toulouse, both on account of its size, its beautiful tower, far surpassing in height and grace any other in the city, and also for the splendor of its interior decorations. The light is but partially admitted into it, which increases the solemn 232 20(2)v 232 and grand effect of its noble architecture. The chief altar is high, and ornamented with two beautiful gilded angels, upon marble pedestals. Back of the altar, and apparently forming part of it, is a rich gilded bas-relief, representing the death of St. Saturnin, who was torn to pieces by four bulls, to which he was attached by his hands and feet. To arrive at this spot you ascend a little flight of steps, behind the altar, and passing around to the other side of the bas-relief, which conceals it from view below, you come to the splendid monument of St. Saturnin, upon which the saint is seen ascending to heaven, supported by angels. All the figures, and every part of the monument are richly gilded, and the effect of it is admirable. Here, too, you have a view of all the chapels behind the choir, which are truly superb, and ornamented with great quantities of beautiful Languedoc marble. The chapel of St. Thomas d’Acquin, particularly, possesses, among other rich ornaments, a series of gilt bas-reliefs, showing the saint in striking situations, and portraying different scenes in his life. The stalls of the canons, in the choir, are of carved mahogany, and one of them represents Calvin, under the figure of a hog, standing in a pulpit, preaching to an audience. Below is this inscription: Calvin le porc, prechant. It was carved, I believe, during the religious controversies of the time of Calvin. The church of St. Tour, near to this, derives 233 20(3)r 233 its name, it is said, from being built on the spot where the bulls, that caused the death of St. Saturnin, were stopped in their furious career.
Thus ended our pleasant rambles in the interesting city of Toulouse; and the following evening, at six o’clock, (1829-10-31October 31st,) we took our departure for Bayonne.
Auch.—Tarbes.—Pau.— Bayonne.—Spain.—Col de Perthus.— Perpignan.—Salces.—Constance de Cezelli.—Fitou.—Narbonne.—Beziers.—Montpelier.
The morning after leaving Toulouse we breakfasted at Auch, and had just time to walk about a little, and particularly to see the celebbrated Cathedral, which was quite near the inn. This is a very splendid building, both within and without, and the windows, of painted glass, are very beautiful. Owing to the early hour of the morning, I had no opportunity of obtaining other than a general idea of it, the light being too obscure, as well as my time too limited, to examine it closely. But early as it was, a concourse of people were collected, and a priest was preaching to them, in the singular and uncultivated patois of the country. Great as has been the number of churches, which I have visited in France, 20* 234 20(3)v 234 and at all hours too, I scarcely recollected one in which there were not more or less worshuppers; and to see a church entirely empty would be a circumstance of such rare occurrence, as to be considered very extraordinary.
Resuming our seats in the diligence, we continued our journey from Auch. The day was exceedingly rainy, damp, and disagreeable, and the atmosphere so heavy as to obscure, for a time, every distant object from our view. Occasionally, as the mist cleared a little, we caught sight of the lofty hills stretching along the horizon, and belonging to the chain of the Pyrenees, which we were gradually approaching. In the afternoon the sun came out clear and bright, and we had a very pleasant ride to Tarbes, which we reached at an early hour in the evening. Here we supped, and had two or three hours to repose, before the regular time for the departure of the diligence.
At two o’clock in the morning, we left Tarbes, and arrived at Pau between seven and eight. After breakfast, we walked to the old Chateau, the birth-place of Henry Fourth. It is a large mass of buildings, situated upon an eminence that divides the city from the river. For many years it was occupied as barracks, but in 18221822 it was repaired, and is now one of the public edifices of the place. From the balcony of the castle you have a fine view of the deep valley, through 235 20(4)r 235 which the river runs,—the hilly country beyond,— and, further still, the snow-capt summits of the lofty Pyrenees.
At the bottom of the grand stair-case, in entering the Chateau, is an excellent statue of Henry Fourth, but resting upon a wooden pedestal. Ascending the stair-case, we passed through several of the apartments, which retain not much of their former splendor, except that in some places you see the wall ornamented with cut stone, in the manner of stucco work. The room, in which Henry was born, however, has been recently fitted up, by order of the government, in a style altogether rich and tasteful. The papering of the apartment is blue, with a handsome gilded border; and in each space, between the windows and doors, is a gilded coat of arms. The chairs are of mahogany, with velvet seats. In the centre of the room is a kind of pedestal, covered with rich purple velvet, adorned with gilt fleur de lis. On each side is the king’s cipher. Upon the pedestal are placed six gilded spears, three on each side, forming a kind of tent, with a small white silk flag attached to each, and gilt crown and coat of arms embroidered on both sides of them. In the midst of the spears is suspended a casque of great beauty,—a present to Henry,—ornamented with rich white plumes. Below, is hung the cradle of the monarch, made of a single unwrought tortoise shell, of large 236 20(4)v 236 size. In it are some rude forks, used in his day, that have been preserved as curiosities.
The walks around the Chateau have all been newly cleared and beautified, and being planted with trees, are very cool and pleasant. We afterwards walked though a number of the principal streets in the city, which, though far from being handsome, is a busy, active place, and apparently prosperous. The market was very much crowded with people; and all the market women were very neatly clad. The grisettes here are dressed much like those at Bordeaux, except that they have a little different manner of twisting on the turban, which is, also, of different material.
At Pau, we were first notified of our near approach to Spain, by seeing the mantilla worn by a large number of the females. It was generally made of red kerseymere, faced round with black velvet, and only large enough to cover the head and shoulders. Others, that could hardly, however, be called mantillas, were made of camlet, lined with woollen, and wrapped entirely around the body, with a sort of bonnet crown behind. They were made to fasten under the chin, and to conceal the face, if desirable.
I returned to the hotel, and while waiting for the diligence, a little boy and girl, one twelve and the other seven years of age, came into the room where we were, to sing to us. The 237 20(5)r 237 boy had a violin, and they played and sung several songs very prettily. They said they resided in Bayonne, and were now, with their father and mother, also musicians, travelling through the country,—a journey that they perform every year, thus earning their subsistence. They were both modest, pretty looking children, and the girl, particularly, appeared quite intelligent.
At twelve o’clock, we left Pau for Bayonne. The road, that we took, was, for the most part, a very agreeable one, though the scenery was occasionally dull and uninteresting. This, however, was true of a small part of the country only, the remainder presenting to view well cultivated fields, and pleasant villages. The manner of building the houses, in every village through which we passed, was very peculiar. They were universally constructed of pebbles and brick, fastened together with a great proportion of clay mixed with mortar. The roofs were tiled, and altogether formed secure and durable habitations, not unpleasing in their effect upon the eye.
The following morning, at six o’clock, we arrived at Bayonne, and you may judge with how much need of rest, when you reflect, that we had been travelling three nights and two days, with but short intervals of delay, and those chiefly employed in seeing the towns that we entered.
When we stopped at the office, a very prepossessing young man came forward to enquire if we 238 20(5)v 238 were going to Spain, informing us that he had vacant seats in his voiture, which was to leave Bayonne for Madrid at twelve o’clock the same day. Having made enquiries as to his respectability and probity, which were satisfactorily answered, we engaged the seats without delay.
By means of four or five hours of refreshing sleep, followed by an excellent breakfast, I was sufficiently recovered from my fatigue to take a new start. Previously, however, to leaving Bayonne, I walked about a short time in the city, and entered the Cathedral. The architecture of this church, together with the cloister belonging to it, is very fine, though the ornaments are few and not remarkable. But I had only a moment to spend here, and returning to the voiture was soon comfortably upon my way towards Spain.
At eight o’clock in the evening, (1829-11-30November 30, 1829,) we reached the bridge, that forms the boundary on this side between France and Spain; and we here bade adieu, for the present, to the land of the Gaul.
I re-entered the territories of France by the pass called the Col de Perthus, at the eastern extremity of the Pyrenees, it being upon the high road from Barcelona to Perpinan, (1830-03-23March 23rd, 1830.) We had been ascending so gradually, for many miles, that I was not aware of having reached the most elevated part of the mountains, until I found that we were at the frontiers.239 20(6)r 239
The boundary between the two kingdoms is indicated here by a plain stone, erected upon the very spot formerly occupied by Pompey’s famous pillar, and where afterwards stood an altar constructed by Julius Cæsar; but all vestiges of these monuments have now wholly disappeared.
In addition to the boundary stone just mentioned, the dividing line between the two frontiers is more distinctly marked by the large castle of Bellegarde, situated upon a lofty mountain, and overlooking the road, which passes along at its feet. Here our baggage was examined and our passport countersigned; and we then commenced a long descent towards Perpignan, which we reached early the same afternoon.
Very different was the face of the country at this time, from the appearance which it had presented, when I crossed the confines of France in the opposite direction. It is true that the day, on which I entered Spain, had been a delightful one; but the chilly winds and cloudy sky of November were beginning to be felt, even in that usually mild and pleasant climate, and all nature was giving visible warning of the near approach of cold and dreary winter. But now the scene was wholly changed. Although it was still March, the air was even uncomfortably warm, and the fields were clothed in all the freshness and verdure of a charming spring, whose gentle influences had entirely dispersed the intense240 20(6)v 240 tense cold and severe frosts of the preceding season.
But, unfortunately, I was prevented from seeing a considerable part of the country, as well before reaching Perpignan, as afterwards in passing through Languedoc, by the great clouds of dust, which at times completely enveloped the diligence, and obliged me to keep my eyes closely shut to prevent their being filled with it. Thus I lost much of the country, which I might otherwise have enjoyed. Upon arriving at Perpignan, we had several hours of daylight in which to see the place; but I did not attempt it, being much fatigued, and the city, moreover, possessing little to interest the traveller.
At four o’clock in the morning we left Perpignan, and, as the daylight gradually appeared, we found ourselves surrounded by vineyards, that continued to succeed each other for a long distance; and among them was that of Rivesaltes, which produces the celebrated Muscatel wine. In passing through the little town of Salces, we saw the large fort, built by the Emperor Charles Fifth, and remarkable for the vast thickness of its walls, and for its subterranean vaults.
Near Salces is Leucate, a small place of considerable military note. The following short story, in relation to this town, illustrates in a striking manner the heroic fortitude, of which the female character is capable, when circumstances241 21(1)r 241 stances arise to call it forth. In the year 1590fifteen hundred and ninety, during the wars of the League, the Sieur de Barry, governor of Leucate, hearing of the disembarkation of the Spaniards before Leucate, departed immediately, to go and give intelligence of it to the Duc de Montmorency, and to receive his orders; but he was unfortunate enough to fall into the hands of the Leaguers. He found means, notwithstanding, to inform his wife, Constance de Cezelli, who was at Montpellier, her native place, of his detention, and ordered her to throw herself promptly into Leucate, and to listen to no proposition upon the subject of surrendering the position. Embarking at Maguelonne, she repaired immediately to Leucate, and stimulated by her presence the courage of the garrison. The Spaniards and the Leaguers made an attack, a short time after her arrival; but she defended herself with so much valor, as to render all their efforts useless. The Leaguers, vexed beyond measure at her resistance, sent her word that, if she did not promptly surrender the place, they would put her husband to death, the price of his ransom being no other than Leucate itself. She offered all her property to redeem him; but declared that nothing would be capable of making her violate the fidelity which they both owed to their King and country. Upon this refusal the Leaguers caused her husband to be 21 242 21(1)v 242 strangled, and sent his body to her in Leucate. Outraged by the inhumanity of the besiegers, the garrison, wishing to make reprisals, besought the lady to deliver up to them the Sieur de Loupian, a prisoner of war, whom the Duc de Montmorency had sent her as a kind of hostage for the security of her husband. But she constantly refused to deliver him up. Grateful for such noble constancy, the King left to her the government of Leucate, until Hercule de Barry, her son, should be of age to assume it as her successor.
At the hamlet of Fitou, we breakfasted; and soon after leaving it came to a spot where the road was repairing, and were much amused by seeing a large troop of girls, perhaps twenty or thirty in number, with baskets upon their heads, in which they collected small stones from the neighboring fields, and then formed these into regular heaps by the way side, in readiness for the workmen to use. They all wore coarse straw or other hats, tied down under their chins, and seemed, by their smiling cheerful faces, to perform their tasks with much ease and pleasure.
Early in the afternoon we reached Narbonne, where we remained two or three hours. This city contains few objects of interest, and not being able to go out, I remained quietly at the hotel until three o’clock, and then entered the diligence for Montpellier. The scenery, through which we passed for the succeeding four hours, 243 21(2)r 243 was delightfully varied with hill and valley, cultivated fields, and vineyards; and before dark we entered the large town of Beziers, beautifully situated upon a high hill, the river Orbe flowing at its base, and surrounded on every side by the most picturesque and charming prospects imaginable. On one side is seen a range of lofty mountains, on another a delicious valley, planted with corn fields, fruit trees, vineyards, and gardens, stretching out in the greatest luxuriance, as far as the eye can reach. Just before entering the town, we again had a view of the Canal du Midi, which here empties its waters into the river Orbe.
At Beziers we remained nearly an hour, and procured an excellent cup of coffee, before again setting out upon our way. After leaving the town the road winds up a long, steep hill, from whence there is a splendid view of the surrounding country; and after this I saw little more, until reaching Montpellier, at six o’clock the following morning.
This truly charming city is agreeably situated, and full of attractive objects, which cannot fail to delight every beholder. A short time after our arrival, we walked first to the promenade of Porte Peyron, one of the most delightful walks it is possible to conceive. At one extremity of it, standing upon an artificial elevation ascended by flight of steps, is the chateau d’eau, a most beautiful244 21(2)v 244 ful fountain, in form of a pavilion, with a vaulted roof sustained by graceful columns. The interior contains a basin, from which the water issues in broad clear sheets; and descending some steps into a subterranean passage, you are shown the reservoir of the solidly built aqueduct, which brings the water from a distance of two leagues.
From the mound, upon which the fountain is situated, a most extensive and lovely prospect is enjoyed. The beautiful environs of Montpellier, the wide spread plain adjoining it, abounding with vines and olive trees, interspersed with country houses, the sea, and the distant mountains of the Pyrenees,—all these varied objects, each possessing its own peculiar beauty, render the spot one of the most enchanting I have ever seen.
Opposite the entrance of the promenade is a fine gate in the form of an arch, called Porte Peyron, adorned with bas-reliefs; and an inscription over the top indicates its having been erected in the reign of Louis Fourteenth.
The College of Medicine, which has imparted great celebrity to the city of Montpellier, occupies the building that was anciently the episcopal palace. The new anatomical lecture room is in form of an amphitheatre, with a large white marble table in front of the professor’s seat, upon which the dissections are performed. The chair of the professor is a great curiosity, being made 245 21(3)r 245 of an ancient marble one found in the Roman amphitheatre at Nismes.
The Bourse is a very handsome building, as is the Museum, which, however, I did not enter. The Esplanade, so called, is another beautiful public walk, consisting entirely of alleys planted with trees. The Jardin des Plantes I did not visit, as it was too far from the centre of the city. This garden contains the grace of Narcissa, referred to in this line of the Night Thoughts: With pious sacrilege a grave I stole. The streets and public squares of Montpellier are extremely spacious and fine, almost without exception. The different places are generally adorned with marble fountains of much beauty. Neat coffee-houses, situated in the midst of pretty little gardens, ornamented with pavilions of green lattice work, are to be seen in various parts of the city, and add very much to its agreeable aspect.
The centre of the Place Louis Seize is adorned with a splendid white marble statue of that monarch, just completed. It is of colossal stature, and stands upon a pedestal of corresponding size. The attitude is remarkably graceful, with one arm extended, and the other partly concealed by flowing drapery, sprinkled with fleurs de lis, and representing the royal coronation robes. His head is bare, and an angel is crowning it 21* 246 21(3)v 246 with laurel. The countenance is an exact likeness of the King. I recognized it immediately upon entering the place. A handsome iron balustrade, gilded at the top, encircles the whole.
Montpellier is said to be distinguished for its mild and salubrious climate, its refined and intellectual society, its handsome ladies, and the superiority of its accommodation for strangers, in the comfort and convenience of the lodgings. All this I can easily imagine, from what we experienced of the climate, from the general appearance of the city, and the neatness and elegance of the Hotel d’Europe.
Nismes.—Amphitheatre.—Pont du Gard.—Lafour.—Maison Carree.—Roman Baths.—Temple of Diana.—Porte de Cesar.— Palais de Justice.—Beaucaire.—Tarascon.—Saint Remy.
The country through which we passed in going to Nismes, though well cultivated, possesses no particular attraction. But immediately upon entering Nismes, I was struck with astonishment and admiration on viewing the magnificent Roman Amphitheatre, which far surpassed, in beauty and grandeur, any idea I had previously formed of it, highly raised as my expectations had been. Upon alighting at the hotel, we ascertained that 247 21(4)r 247 sufficient time would intervene, before the dinner hour, to see the amphitheatre, which is within sight of the hotel, and we immediately repaired thither without delay, first taking a turn around it, before entering within its vast enclosure.
The form of it is oval, and the exterior, beautifully adorned with various carved ornaments, is very nearly entire. But to describe this splendid monument, so as to impart any just idea of its actual appearance, is a task, which I should vainly endeavor to accomplish, and even when its enormous dimensions are exactly stated, it is impossible to conceive of the vastness of the reality, without having seen it. Its greatest diameter is said to be four hundred and forty French feet, its smallest three hundred and twenty, its circumference eleven hundred, and its height seventy feet.
After walking quite around the outside, we came to a gate opening into a portico, where a man was seated, who takes charge of the place, and for a stipulated payment shows you any part of the interior. We first entered the arched portal, leading into the immense area, where the ancient sports were exhibited, and from which ranges of broad, high seats ascended gradually to the top of the amphitheatre. Many of these, however, are now entirely destroyed. When complete, they were capable of containing seventeen thousand persons. From the area, we passed out, and entered successively two galleries,248 21(4)v 248 leries, one above the other, which formerly extended quite around the edifice, and admitted the spectators to the seats. From the second gallery, we entered the interior of the Amphitheatre, and I, with some difficulty, ascended the massive broad seats to the top, where you obtain the most distinct impression of its grand and majestic proportions.
When walking along the outside, or standing in the centre of the area, you can see but a small portion of it at once, and it does not therefore appear so striking as when, at the top, you receive at one glance a view of the entire outline of the building, and then, indeed, the effect is sublime beyond description. And what must have been the splendor of the spectacle, when these, now vacant and broken seats, were thronged with the brilliant assemblage of rank and beauty, that once made this vast area echo to their loud shouts of applause, as they watched with eager delight the progress of those warlike and bloody sports, which formed the pastimes of the ancient masters of the world! The reflection, that such scenes were actually witnessed, though ages since, within these venerable walls, and that the spot upon which you stand has been marked by the footsteps, and resounded to the proud tread, of many a high-born Roman;—such a reflection imparts a deep, almost sacred interest to the feelings, with which you gaze upon this 249 21(5)r 249 truly superb and wonderful production of art.
We were informed by the man, who guided us, that when the present Queen of Spain and her parents passed through Nismes, a famous bullfight, famous at least for France, was given there in the amphitheatre, which was so crowded in every part, that it was impossible for another person to be admitted. This was a very appropriate entertainment with which to welcome the future Queen of a nation so passionately fond of this amusement, that in their eyes every other loses its charm in comparison with it. We returned to the hotel through a very pleasant public walk, called the Esplanade.
The next morning, at four o’clock, we took a cabriolet to visit the Pont du Gard, or Roman aqueduct erected for the purposes of carrying water to Nismes, which is situated about two or three hours distance from the latter place.
It is constructed between two high hills, and a bend in the road conceals it from sight, until you are within a very short distance from it, when it bursts upon your view in all its beauty and magnificence. It consists of three ranges of noble arches one above the other. The first tier, composed of six arches, is sixty six feet in height and five hundred and twenty in breadth, and through the largest arch run the waters of the river Gardon. The second range, of nine arches, is of the same length with the first, and eight 250 21(5)v 250 hundred fifty-four feet in breadth. The third, of thirty-five arches, is twenty-six feet high, and eight hundred seventy-four feet wide. The aqueduct, between four and five feet in breadth, and between five and six in height, rests upon the top of the last tier of arches, and is partly covered with large flag stones.
The aqueduct is reached by ascending the steep declivity of one of the hills, and you may then pass entirely through it to the hill upon the opposite side, as there is no longer any water in it, and the way perfectly unimpeded. After crossing the arches the aqueduct extends unseen, to a distance computed at twenty-five English miles. The bridge across the Gardon, which forms a part of the great highway from Nismes to Paris, is placed between the first and second range of arches, and is supported by them. The aqueduct derives its present appellation of the Pont du Gard, from its being thus used, as the word Gard is the old name for Gardon.
The perfect simplicity of this noble monument, mingled at the same time with the utmost grandeur and elegance,—its lonely, romantic situation, the beautiful hills on each side, which it unites, covered with ivy, wild myrtle, and a thousand flowering shrubs, fill the beholder with feelings of admiration and delight, which increase in intensity the longer he gazes upon the fascinating scene. Then comes the recollection of that 251 21(6)r 251 mighty nation, under whose auspices these beautiful arches grew into form, and the whole majestic structure rose, in unexampled grandeur, to become the wonder of succeeding ages, and to immortalize the almost magic hands, that reared it. When you look on the immense masses of stone composing it, which to remove from their native quarry would seem to be a task above human strength, and then cast your eyes around in vain for the spot from which they could have been brought, you may well call those hands magic, that could have thus overcome all obstacles, and performed tasks, the achievement of which appears to their degenerate descendants as little less than miraculous; and the sight of which awakens the involuntary feeling of regret, that such a race of men should ever have deterioriated, and that they no longer exist in all their ancient glory and greatness.
Turning with a reluctant step from this charming spot, we again entered the cabriolet to return to Nismes, having first breakfasted at the little village of Lafour, in the neighbourhood. Near this village a very beautiful suspension bridge is constructing across the Gardon, which is to be supported by iron wire instead of chains.
Immediately upon arriving at Nismes, we walked out to view the other remarkable Roman monuments, which exist in the city. The first to be mentioned is an ancient edifice, now called the 252 21(6)v 252 Maison Carree, or square house, which must hold a high place among the most celebrated monuments, which France, or even Italy, contains. The perfect state of preservation, in which it has remained, excites the astonishment of every one, who beholds it; and, for myself, I could not believe at first sight, that it was not a comparatively modern edifice, though a nearer view of its beautiful architecture sufficiently announced its origin.
Its form is that of a temple, with a portico ascended by a flight of steps, and sustained by six fluted Corinthian columns in front, and three each side, counting the two corner columns twice. Pillars of the same description extend along, and are joined to, the sides of the building, and exceed twenty-seven feet in height. The length of the edifice is seventy-seven feet, its breadth more than thirty-eight, and its height sixty-four. The beautiful workmanship observable in various parts of it, and particularly that of the cornice, is of the most delicate execution, and this circumstance had led to the supposition, by some learned men, that it is a Grecian rather than a Roman production. Indeed, there are a great variety of opinions respecting the Maison Carree, and much has been written upon the subject, both as to the period of its erection, and the purpose to which it was originally applied. The interior is now principally occupied with pictures, hung around 253 22(1)r 253 the wall, and with a very extensive collection of antiques, which render the pictures completely uninteresting and scarcely noticeable.
From the Maison Carree, we continued through the same street, and arrived at a large basin, constructed for the purpose of washing clothes, and public to every one. It was surrounded by women, all busily engaged in rinsing the clothes, that they had washed. Turning to the left, we entered a beautiful avenue of trees, extending along the sides of a fine canal, which brought us to a very pleasant public garden, planted with shrubs and flowers, and containing some curious baths, occupying the site of ancient Roman baths, and rebuilt as nearly as possible in the same manner. They consist of large basins of water, separated from each other, and adorned at the top with statues. No use is now made of them, they being only visited as objects of curiosity. Near these baths, at the foot of a chain of hills, is the fountain, by which they are supplied with water. A basin, seventy feet in diameter, and twenty-four in depth, is naturally formed in a rock, and the spring issues from the centre.
Pursuing one of the garden paths, to the left of this, we passed two neat coffee-houses, and arrived at the ruins of a temple, called the temple of Diana. A considerable portion of it still remains, and forms a large mass of huge stones, joined together without cement. The original 22 254 22(1)v 254 size of the building is stated to have been one hundred and forty-six feet in height, and forty- six feet in breadth. Several remains of columns, cornices, statues, and other ornaments that formerly adorned it, are still preserved within the walls. The guide, employed to exhibit the place to strangers, conducted us into the interior of the temple, and showed us the passage by which victims were brought in, and the spot at which they were sacrificed.
Upon the summit of the hills already mentioned, and to which a road leads up from the fountain, stand the ruins of the Tour Magne, which is a Roman stone tower of great size, consisting of several stories, one above the other. The situation amd appearance of this tower are remarkably fine; but we had not time to mount the steep ascent upon which it stands, and contented ourselves with viewing it from the city.
The last ancient monument in Nismes, to be mentioned, is the gate, called the Porte de Cesar, built by Augustus, and remarkable only for its antiquity, nearly all the ornaments upon it being now destroyed. An inscription, and the arches that formed it, still remain.
But in addition to all these fine monuments,— of which, after Rome, Nismes is said to contain the greatest number, of any city in the world, and these in finer preservation even, than those of 255 22(2)r 255 Rome herself,—there are a number of modern buildings of much beauty, and the general aspect of the new part of the city is remarkably pleasant and agreeable. The boulevards surrounding it are very handsome, and upon them are situated the Palais de Justice, theatre, and hospital, all extremely beautiful buildings, and a number of private edifices, which, although less sumptuous, are still near and elegant in their appearance.
At twelve o’clock we departed for Aix. The road passed through a very charming country, bounded on each side by chains of beautiful hills. Groves of mulberry trees, vineyards, and cultivated meadows meet the eye in succession; and, after passing several pretty villages, you enter the town of Beaucaire, where is a most splendid new bridge, thrown across the Rhone, suspended by iron wire. The wire is very small, but a large number of strands are fastened together, and formed into solid wire ropes an inch and a half thick, five on each side, which are supported by three uprights in form of arches. The bridge, as well as the wire, is painted white, and is truly a very beautiful object. It is also said to be much more secure than chain bridges built upon the same principle.
Beaucaire is very prettily situated upon the Rhone, of which beautiful river we here obtained the first view. Upon an eminence, near the 256 22(2)v 256 town, are the ruins of a celebrated chateau of the old Counts of Toulouse. Passing over the bridge, we entered the pleasant town of Tarascon, situated exactly opposite Beaucaire, where also is a famous chateau, formerly the residence of the Counts of Provence.
From thence the road leads through agreeable meadows and fertile plains. In the evening we arrived at the town of St. Remy, remarkable for some very fine Roman monuments; but these, of course, we were not able to see, unless by remaining a day for the purpose, which we could not conveniently do. During the night, we reached Aix, but concluded to keep onwards to Marseilles.
Marseilles.—Harbor.—Place Royale.—Quays.—Greek Church. —Museum.—Cork Models.—Notre Dame.—Porte d’Aix.— Allees de Meilhan.—Montagne Russe.—Notre Dame de la Garde.—Saint Victor.—Hotel de Ville.—Bourse.—Aix.—Le Cours.—Palais de Justice.—Hotel de Ville.—Cathedral.— La Madelaine.—Saint Jean.—Hot Baths.—Orgon.
A very long descent, called the Vista, commences at some miles distance from Marseilles, in coming from Aix; and as you gradually approach the city, the view becomes perfectly magnificent. On one side, the beautiful waters of the 257 22(3)r 257 Mediterranean are spread out before you, with innumerable white sails glistening upon its bosom, and at the other a lofty range of mountains in the form of an amphitheatre; and at their foot rises the city, with a number of little hamlets so near in its vicinity, as to form apparently a part of it. The adjacent country is very beautiful, and the entire prospect picturesque beyond description.
We entered the city through a fine public walk, called Le Cours, which in fact is a splendid street, shaded with trees, and having spacious side-walks beyond, bordered with lofty and elegant buildings.
Our room at the Hotel de Beauvau looked out upon the harbor, considered one of the finest in France. The form of it is an oblong square, with broad quays extending around three sides of it, the fourth being the entrance from the seal and it is so shut up by small islands, that a narrow passage is alone left, through which the vessels pass into the harbor. An immense quantity of shipping, forming a forest of masts, was ranged around the quays, with an open space in the middle of the harbor, which it is said will contain twelve hundred vessels. A great variety of little pleasure boats, covered with a fanciful canopy, and displaying from the top the flags of different countries to attract observation, were scattered here and there upon the water, or drawn up to the shore waiting for employment.22* 258 22(3)v 258
The quay, upon which our hotel stood, is a favorite promenade for all classes of people, and the scene from the windows was very attractive and amusing. The vast number of seamen, singing their sailor songs, from their respective vessels,—the continual ho, heave ho, of those engaged in loading or unloading the ships, together with the different air and dress of the passing throng upon the quay beneath, afforded ample food for entertainment and observation, during a great part of the first day I arrived at Marseilles.
The next morning, however, I commenced my perambulations, and we first directed our steps to the Place Royale, a very large square, ornamented in the middle with a handsome fountain, not unlike in appearance to the chateau d’eau upon the boulevards in Paris. There are three vases, one within the other, and decreasing in size to the top, from whence a stream of water rises, to descend in showers over the vases beneath. The lower one is placed in a circular basin, and is supported by small cariatides, with a stream of water issuing from the mouth of each.
We next passed through several streets, some of them regular and well built, to the Greek church, where we had been told service was performed every Sunday. We entered, and heard mass said, or rather sung, for it was all chanted from beginning to end. I could distinguish no 259 22(4)r 259 material difference between this service and that of the Roman Catholics; nor could I feel the slightest interest in it. The church was a neat building, but in no way peculiar.
From it we passed to the opposite extremity of the city, and visited the Museum of pictures, which, with a collection of natural history, a college, and a public library, occupy the buildings of the ancient convent of the Bernardins, situated upon a pleasant avenue of trees, used as a public walk, and denominated Boulevard du Musee. Many of the pictures were good; but, like the generality of the collections of the kind, it possessed a very much larger proportion of ordinary than of fine paintings. The cabinet of natural history we did not see. The library contains about sixty thousand volumes.
Nearly opposite the Museum is a very remarkable collection of cork models, executed by M. Eugene Duclaux, and exhibited at his dwelling- house. They were neatly arranged, each in a square glass case, and consisted of different views in relief;—such as the Palais Royal, Tuileries, and Arc du Carousel at Paris,— several ancient ruins, the tomb of Cicero and Rousseau, the Pont du Gard, a representation of a besieged city, with a vast number of combatants, all of extreme smallness, but remarkably well executed; together with vases and urns, filled with flowers, for chimney ornaments,—and 260 22(4)v 260 a very pretty country scene, the fore ground covered with verdure, and back of it, a neat little church and other buildings forming a small hamlet. This last is placed in a gilt frame, and behind it there is a clock work so constructed, that, on being wound up, a lively strain of music seems to proceed from the little hamlet, as you can see nothing of the machinery, by means of which the tune is played. All the trees, shrubs, and grass are made of the same material, that artificial flowers are composed of, and consequently have rather a stiff appearance; but the buildings are beautifully done, and the exhibition, as a whole, is exceedingly pretty and ingenious.
At the church of Notre Dame, near the Museum, military mass was to be performed, and we went thither to hear it. The ceremony was in every respect the same which we saw at Nantes; but the effect was totally different, owing to the smallness of the church, which prevented the music from sounding well; and but few of the soldiers being able to enter the aisle, their appearance was far less imposing, than when drawn up in close files, along the spacious nave of a lofty cathedral.
We now returned to the hotel, and took a new departure, and first passing through a part of the magnificent Rue d’Aix, or in other words Le Cours, we arrived at the new Porte d’Aix, a beautiful triumphal arch of stone, not yet completed.261 22(5)r 261 pleted. We passed it in coming into the city; but I did not then particularly notice it. It stands in a large open place, at one extremity of the Rue d’Aix, and when completed will be a great addition to the beauty of this part of the city.
We next bent our course towards the public pleasure garden, situated at the farther end of the Allees de Meilhan, a broad, beautiful promenade, bordered with trees and fine houses; and at this time many persons, chiefly ladies with their children and nurses, were walking about in different parts of it. The ladies were all very genteelly dressed, many of them in rich satins and silks, made purposely for walking dresses, trimmed up and down before, with an open waist turned over on each side in front, and a handsome habit handkerchief beneath. The garden was likewise full of people, amusing themselves in various ways, according to the universal practice of passing Sunday in every part of France.
At one side the garden there was a high building, which I could not at first imagine the use of; but in coming to the front of it, I was soon apprized of the purpose to which it was appropriated. It is called a Russian Mountain. At the top is an open portico, with two narrow railways, nearly perpendicular at the commencement, leading from it to the garden, through which they pass for almost its whole extent. A small carriage, with two persons in it, is then placed upon 262 22(5)v 262 one of the rail-ways, and the impetus, which it acquires in descending the steep part of the declivity, carries it across the garden, where a person is stationed to give it a push as it passes, and this carries it round a considerable curve, and brings it into the second rail-way. Here, a slight inclination enables it to reach the bottom of the mountain, where the travellers alight, and the carriage is drawn to the top by machinery. There are a large number of these little carriages, and a long line of them is usually permitted to collect at the foot, and then they are all pulled up in succession. It looks very singularly to see them all going up, one after the other, apparently without any assistance, the wheel, by which they are made to ascend, being out of sight behind the rail-ways. This wheel is carried round by horses, as I afterwards observed upon leaving the garden, when the whole was plainly visible.
At the opposite extremity from the mountain, several other species of amusement were pursued. Among them was a whirligig, like those I saw in Bordeaux. Near it was a large frame, from the centre of which was suspended a small wooden bird. At the back of the frame was a widepiece of board, with a mark in the middle of it; and the object of the game is to swing the bird forward in such a manner, that his bill shall hit the mark,—a task I should think, not 263 22(6)r 263 easily performed, as the string by which it is suspended is so very slender, and the bird so light, that it must be difficult to keep it in an even line with the mark, however true may be the aim Independently of these curious machines, the garden contains very little, that is attractive. It is neither prettily arranged, nor does it display a pleasing variety of plants. After rambling round a short time, in the different paths, we returned home by the Allees de Meilhan, through which we came.
On Tuesday we walked to the hill, upon which stand the castle and chapel of Notre Dame de la Garde. This is chiefly visited on account of the splendid view from its summit. In no other position can one have so accurate an idea of the appearance of the city, its situation, the form and beauty of its harbor, in addition to the charming prospect here afforded of the Mediterranean, with its little green islands, and the fine range of mountains on one side, which, forming a half circle back of the city, seem placed there as a mighty barrier to protect it from every assault of wind and tempest, that may harmlessly rage and break against their firm and unyielding foundations. Neither the castle nor the chapel is very remarkable. The latter is hung around with several pictures of ship wrecks, some of them well done, which are brought to the church in fulfilment of vows made by seamen in the hour of danger and apparent death.264 22(6)v 264
Descending from the castle, we passed through the Cours Bourbon, a pleasant, shady walk, to the ruins of the ancient abbey of St. Victor. It consists now of only two old square towers and an ordinary church; but is peculiarly interesting, as containing subterranean vaults, where the early christians were wont to worship. Several chapels, with rough stone altars, a few statues of saints, together with small niches cut into the wall for purposes of confession, are the principal objects to be seen in these dark caves, where the primitive professors of the christian religion were obliged to conceal themselves, to offer their prayers to God in fear and trembling, persecuted and driven from the face of day by the enemies of their faith, whose object and end were to exterminate them wholly from the earth; but whose deadly purposes a mightier arm than that of mortal man stayed and frustrated.
In returning from this church to the hotel, we passed over the quay upon one side the harbor. This we found most offensively unclean, and so filled with barrels, boxes, carts, and horses, and with men running to and fro in all directions, that we could scarcely make our way through without danger of being run down. Upon the opposite quay to this is situated the Hotel de Ville, a noble stone building of great exterior beauty; but the inside I did not see. Here also is the Bourse, and the favorite winter promenade 265 23(1)r 265 of the Marseillois, along a wide pavement, open to the harbor on the south, and sheltered by the buildings from the cold winds behind. The walk is frequently called the Fire Place of King Rene, as that prince was accustomed to frequent it very much during the winter season.
On Wednesday morning, we left Marseilles for Aix. The scenery, for nearly the whole way, was very pretty, and the country generally in a good state of cultivation. Just before entering Aix, we came to the summit of a long and rather steep hill, where is presented a most beautiful view of the city, and its environs for a considerable distance around. Soon after descending this hill, we entered the spacious street or avenue, called Le Cours, shaded with four rows of elm trees, and rendered still more imposing in appearance by the elegant, lofty buildings, which adorn it on each side.
Upon arriving at Aix, we accidentally found a very pleasant conveyance, by which to pursue our journey to Avignon. This was a private carriage, returning to that place empty, having brought some travellers to Aix the day previous. It was to start whenever we should be ready, and we lost no time in making the rounds of the city. The hotel, at which we stopped was upon Le Courds, and thence we passed through nearly the whole length of this charming walk. It is ornamented with several fountains, and from one 23 266 23(1)v 266 of them issues a stream of warm water, connected with a source at some distance from the spot, and which we afterwards visited.
Of the various beautiful buildings that I saw at Aix, one that particularly pleased me was the Palais de Justice, which, though not quite completed, is remarkable for the beauty and simplicity of its construction. A neat portico, arched at the sides, is supported in front by eight columns, with a large square pillar at each corner. Near this building a new prison is likewise erecting, though now scarce more than begun.
The Hotel de Ville is rather a handsome edifice, and contains a good library, in which is a bust of its founder, M. de Mejares. At the head of the stair-case, in entering, is a statue of the Marechal de Villars.
The Cathedral is an ancient gothic building, the front composed of two towers. A beautiful baptismal font occupies one of the chapels, and is placed beneath a dome, supported by eight lofty columns forming arches around it. This, and the fine cloister attached to the church, are the principal objects of interest contained in the Cathedral. The cloister is surrounded by arches, sustained by small coupled pillars, in the Moorish style of architecture.
The church of La Madelaine is of modern erection, built somewhat in the style of the Spanish churches, and contains a baptismal font, similar267 23(2)r 267 ilar to that in the Cathedral. It stands within a temple composed of eight large columns, placed two and two at the four sides of the font.
The church of St. Jean is chiefly remarkable for its lofty spire, its gothic porch, and a fine monument, which it contains, to the memory of Alphonso Eleventh, and his son Raymond Berenger. This monument is in the form of a gothic portico, ornamented with bas-reliefs, and supported by coupled columns. Within is seen a full- length statue, the arms crossed upon the breast. At each side is a smaller portico of the same description, detached from it, and in these the figures are standing instead of recumbent. The whole taken together is very beautiful.
Our walk terminated at the public baths, which receive their waters from the same source as the fountain in the Cours, already mentioned. This water is of the temperature proper for bathing, and the vapor arising from it is sufficiently heated to impart a pleasant warmth to the apartments. The baths are of marble, and the rooms remarkably neat and clean. The water is conducted to them by pipes, and you may always obtain, at any moment, whatever quantity you choose, and in precisely the right state for use. In a yard back of the house, we were shown a singlar antique basin, surrounded by bas-reliefs. Into the basin the water was emptied by three brass cocks, that from the central one being cold, and from the 268 23(2)v 268 side ones warm. The source, from whence all the different hot streams flow, is very near the baths, and is covered by a building. It was used as a bathing place by the Romans. The water is here so warm, that the same moisture is produced upon the face, if you put your head within the door of the building, as if you were holding it over a large quantity of steam. Descending a few steps from this building, into a kind of shed, you come to a large reservoir or basin, with a fountain in the centre, to which any persons may go to wash, that choose, without payment, and which is much frequented for this purpose, by the poorer class of people.
The time of our departure for Avignon having now arrived, we returned to the hotel, and were soon upon our way. The air was deliciously mild, and for part of the distance between Aix and Orgon, where we dined, the road was skirted with a succession of olive and almond groves, and the country beyond was at intervals very beautiful. Our carriage was a kind of barouche, capable of being opened, so that we had the advantage of seeing every thing with quite as much distinctness as if we had been in the coupee of the diligence, and the change from a close cramped position to one every way commodious and easy, was very acceptable to us, and I enjoyed the ride exceedingly. After dining at Orgon, and remaining an hour or two for the 269 23(3)r 269 horses to rest, we pursued our course to Avignon.
At Orgon I had particularly remarked the singular hats worn by the lower classes of women, and which are, I believe, peculiar to Provence, or at least, I have never seen any thing like them elsewhere. They are round hats made of black felt, with a crown so low, as not at all to deserve the name, and which is scarcely perceptible at a little distance. The rims of many of them are immensely large, and they are generally tipped down over the face, so as to leave all the crown of the cap projecting out behind. They are most ungainly, unfeminine looking things, as could well be contrived, and the remainder of the dress worn with them displays quite as little taste, to say nothing of cleanliness, as the hats themselves. One would hardly suppose these women could possibly belong to the same race, much less to the same country, with the tidy, well dressed, pretty looking grisettes, whose appearance had been so pleasing in other parts of France.
Avignon.—Cathedral.—Papal Palace.—Hotel de la Monnaie.— Le Rocher.—Chapelle de la Misericorde.—Grave of Laura.— Environs of Avignon.—L’Isle.—Vaucluse.— Sorgue.—Castle. —Monument to Petrarch.—Carpentras.—Orange.—Triumphal Arch.—Roman Theatre.—Circus.—La Palud.
We employed part of a say in seeing the curiosities of Avignon. We first visited the Cathedral, a very ancient building, standing upon an eminence, and only separated by an old ruin from the Palace of the Popes, who for many years made Avignon their residence. This is likewise an edifice of great antiquity, and these several monuments of years gone by, and which seem, when standing opposite them, as if composing one entire mass of stone,—have an interesting and venerable aspect. The interior of the Cathedral is said to have formerly contained a number of fine monuments, and other decorations; but the destroying hand of the revolution has swept nearly all these away, and though a few of the ancient monuments still remain, they are very much mutilated and broken. Many parts of the church, too, seem to be almost entirely in ruins, though several of the chapels have been newly repaired and ornamented, and others are now undergoing repairs. Upon the wall on one side the choir are seen a tablet and inscription to the memory of the brave Crillon.271 23(4)r 271
In front of the Cathedral is a crucifix of enormous dimensions, and which is one of the most conspicuous objects in approaching the church. It is enclosed within a circular railing of iron, gilded at the top, and divided at equal distances by four large pillars, each supporting a kneeling angel as large as life. At the foot of the cross, which is elevated upon four steps, are the figures of Mary and John; and four iron branches, attached to the cross upon opposite sides, are terminated by large gilt lanterns. The figures are not particularly well done; but the effect of the whole from the street below is far from being bad. Nearly opposite the palace is the Hotel de la Monnaie, now used as a gendarmerie. It is a large stone building, ornamented in a very singular style, and of very striking appearance.
In going out from the Cathedral, we turned to our right, and came to the spot called Le Rocher, or the Rock of Avignon, where is a column, resting upon a mound ascended by steps, and terminated at the top by a crucifix. From thence there is one of the most charming views I have ever seen. The rock itself is very much elevated above the city, which is pleasantly situated, in the midst of a delightfully versant and highly cultivated plain, stretching out on every side, intersected by the beautiful windings of the Rhone, and bounded by lofty mountains.
Leaving this spot, we descended, by a long 272 23(4)v 272 flight of steps, into the city, and proceeded to the Chapelle de la Misericorde, formerly a convent, and one of the old priests came forward, when we entered, and conducted us through several apartments, hung with pictures, which he praised very much, and a few of which were in fact quite good, though not so remarkably fine as he wished to make us believe they were. But the object, that attracts all strangers to this chapel, and which is alone worth a visit to Avignon to see, is a most exquisite little statue of Christ upon the cross, carved in polished ivory by Jean Guillermin, in 1659sixteen hundred fifty-nine. The body consists of one single piece, with the exception of the arms, which are separate. It is impossible for any work of art to be more perfect than this inimitable piece of sculpture, and all that could be said in its praise would be but faint, in comparison to its surprising beauty. The expression of acute agony could scarcely be more plainly discernible in the living, breathing form, than in the admirable representation of it. The swollen veins, the contracted nerves and arteries of the body, the speaking anguish of the countenance, all are so expressive of the most intense pain and suffering, that no person, unless wholly destitute of feeling, could gaze upon it without the deepest emotions of pity and sorrow. The delicacy and lightness of the material, that composes it, increase the beauty of the workmanship,273 23(5)r 273 ship, and well may its possessors pronounce it invaluable. the manner in which they became masters of it is somewhat singular. The members of the convent had received from the Pope the privilege of pardoning a criminal every year;— and the nephew of Jean Guillermin being sentenced to death, they granted him his life, upon the condition that this precious and beautiful morceau should be the recompense. This condition was, of course, accepted, and the convent has remained in possession of it to this day.
We next repaired to the grave of Laura, situated in a garden near the ruins of the ancient church of the Cordeliers. Before the church was destroyed the tomb stood within it; but the place it occupied is now only marked by a cypress tree and a small column. No tomb-stone or even mound remained to indicate the exact spot, where the remains of the lovely object of Petrarch’s romantic attachment were said to have been deposited; but after the destruction of the church, the cypress tree, which is pointed out as overshadowing her grave, was planted as a memento of this mysterious, perhaps I may say fabulous being, and some stranger has since erected the column.
After making a fruitless attempt to enter the Museum, and a great foundery, each occupying the remains of a celebrated convent, we returned to the hotel, and at three o’clock in the afternoon took a cabriolet for Vaucluse.274 23(5)v 274
In going out from Avignon, we passed through a beautiful avenue of trees, the branches arched over at the top, forming an agreeable and cool promenade. At three or four miles distance from the city, we alighted at the foot of a long hill, and walked up, in order to enjoy the celebrated view from its summit. This view differs from that of the Rocher in exhibiting the city of Avignon in the distance. And the hill, upon which we now were, being much higher the prospect was more extensive,—and the charming plain, with its innumerable fruit trees, and bright green verdure, the city, the river, the mountains,—were all seen at once, instead of in succession as at the Rocher. I have not seen any scenery in France so like a Spanish hueria as this, and few landscapes are to my eye more beautiful, than the huerias, which you are so freely called upon to admire in travelling through the eastern part of Spain.
Not far from the hill I have just mentioned, is a descent on the other side, and here you have nearly as fine a view as the first, the city being exchanged for great numbers of small white dwelling houses scattered over the valley in all directions. The road winds along through this valley, after descending the hill, and for nearly the whole distance to Vaucluse the scenery continues very delightful. We passed through the village of L’Isle, to which place it is usual for travellers to return and sleep, if they visit Vaucluse towards 275 23(6)r 275 evening. From this fact, we had supposed that there was no inn at Vaucluse, and that it would be necessary for us also to return to L’Isle; but in this, as we afterwards found, we were mistaken.
In drawing near Vaucluse, you see nothing before you but huge masses of rock, which you are gradually approaching through a solitary valley, where you observe not the slightest indication, that any thing like the habitations of men is to be found beyond it; as the winding of the road conceals the hamlet entirely from view. Making a sudden turn, however, we could at length plainly discern it, standing in the midst of inaccessible rocks, and the river Sorgue running along through it. The hamlet only consists of a few scattered houses, and among them we found, to our surprise, no less than three inns, at one of which, the Hotel de Petrarque, we alighted, and were shown into a bed-room, very neatly furnished, and hung around with pictures, one representing a view of the fountain, and the other two being very well painted portraits of Petrarch and Laura.
After resting ourselves a few moments only, we walked out, and took a path at random, which brought us directly to the fountain. Never shall I forget the impressive scene, which here met our eyes. The evening was perfectly delightful. The moon, now at her full, rode proudly along the deep blue heavens, which were closely studded 276 23(6)v 276 with stars, and a light, passing cloud, which occasionally obscured her lustre for an instant, threw an air of greater wildness and grandeur upon the objects around us. Rocks, whose summits seemed almost to mingle with the clouds, and which, by the light of the moon, assumed all the shapes of pyramids, towers, and castles, shut in the prospect on every side. All was silent and solitary. No sound was to be heard by the murmuring of the waters, as they fell in cascades over the rocks, and were then seen winding calmly and smoothly along in the valley below. Following the little foot path, close to the verge of the water, we finally reached the fountain, at which the walk terminates, and beyond which you cannot pass.
A perpendicular rock of immense size and height, rises above the fountain, and beneath this rock is a large cavern, where may be seen in summer, when the waters are low, the spring, which forms the source of the river Sorgue. This river is of considerable width, even at the source of it, and you may imagine the singularity of seeing a large body of water issuing from the apparently solid rock, as the cavern beneath it was almost wholly concealed, at the time we visited it, by the height of the water. Immediately without the mouth of the cavern is a deep basin or pond of circular form, in which the river commences, and then passes off from one side of it over the 277 24(1)r 277 rocks below. The sight of the favorite haunt of the illustrious Petrarch most warmly interested my feelings, and the reflection, that his constant and unfortunate passion for the beautiful Laura was breathed forth to the echoes of these very rocks, now towering above my head, and that the path I was then treading had often been pressed by his footsteps, threw a magic charm over the scene, that I want words to express.
But independently of the associations connected with the place, scarcely could a spot have been selected of greater natural beauty, or one more favorable to poetry and romance, than the lonely, retired valley of Vaucluse. Its perfect stillness and apparent isolation from the rest of the world, together with the awe inspired by the view of those rocky pinnacles, whose firm foundations appear to have been coeval with time itself, necessarily awaken feelings, closely allied, to say the least, with the poetical and romantic. In returning, by the foot-path, we were much surprised to remark that the rock, over which it passes, was perfectly alive with water, and innumerable little streams trickling from the side of it in every direction. Some of these little streamlets gushed out with much violence, and by putting a stick downwards into the aperture, through which the water passes, we found that they spouted up in small jets from the ground under the rock; but the source of them I in vain endeavored to conjecture.24 278 24(1)v 278
Our evening’s ramble being finished, we repaired to the inn, and, after a good night’s rest, arose early in the morning to view the fountain by daylight. But we found very little to observe that we had not seen perfectly well by the light of the moon, which had certainly rendered the scene more striking, if not more distinctly visible. I did not, however, remark the evening before, as now, that the whole bed of the river was covered with green moss, which produced a peculiarly lively and beautiful effect, as seen through the crystal clearness of the water. With some difficulty, and not a little caution, we crossed over to the opposite side, by means of several large, moss-covered stones, and pursuing the path over that side to the hamlet, we mounted up to the top of an elevated point overlooking the fountain, where stand the ruins of an ancient castle. Little else now remains of it, but the walls, which may be seen very well from below, without being at the trouble of climbing up to the summit of the hill.
Just in front of the inn, where we lodged, is a very neat monument to the memory of him, who has given to Vaucluse all its celebrity. It is a plain white column, resting upon a square pedestal, on each side of which is a small wreath, and on one this simple inscription, Petrarque. It formerly stood near the fountain, where it was almost lost to view amid the lofty rocks, and appeared279 24(2)r 279 peared to great disadvantage. By the request of the Duchess d’Angouleme, it was, a few years since, removed to the spot it now occupies.
Between eight and nine o’clock we left Vaucluse for Orange, and, upon paying the bill at the inn, we discovered, very easily, why so few travellers resorted to it. It was certainly the most exorbitant and extravagant bill ever presented to us in France. We had very much wondered, upon finding so decent a house at Vaucluse, that it should be apparently shunned by visiters; but our wonder ceased before leaving the place although the obsequious landlady had assured us, that there was no reason why their house should not be as much frequented as that at L’Isle.
A pleasant ride of five hours brought us to Orange. Before reaching it, we passed through the town of Carpentras, much celebrated in the time of the Romans. We had a good view of the beautiful new hospital, the highway leading directly by the front of it; and could also see at a distance the arches of an aqueduct of modern construction. In riding through the marketplace, we saw a very large number of oxen, standing there for sale; and the place was literally crowded with people, of both sexes and all ages.
The town of Orange is a small, unsightly looking place; but pleasantly situated in the midst of 280 24(2)v 280 a delightful plain. It is chiefly remarkable for its antiquities. The first, and best preserved of these is the triumphal arch, which is indeed a very splendid monument, and standing as it does upon an open plain, with nothing to intercept the view, it may be seen for a great distance on every side. It is formed of three arches, and the central one, which is much the largest, is exactly in a line with the road, which would have been continued through it, but for the fear that the jarring, occasioned by carriages constantly passing under it, would hasten its destruction; and it has therefore been enclosed by small stone pillars, and the road passes around these on each side. What still remains of the sculpture, which originally beautified this noble arch, is extremely rich and elegant; but a great portion of these ornaments is now entirely destroyed. It has been necessary, indeed, to repair nearly the whole of one side, to preserve it from ruin, and with these repairs, which are all of plain stone and not ornamented at all, it will probably stand for many years to come.
From the arch, we walked to the opposite extremity of the town, to visit the ruins of a Roman theatre, which is situated partly upon a high hill, and is still in so excellent a state of preservation, that a perfectly accurate idea of its construction may be obtained. The seats for the spectators, opposite the stage, are cut into the hill just mentioned,281 24(3)r 281 tioned, and rise gradually one above the other to the top of it. The position of the stage is very distinctly marked by a huge wall of uncemented stones, that connects together the two ends of the circular part of the theatre, thus forming the back of the stage, and the front of the edifice. This wall is nearly entire, and is twelve feet thick, three hundred long, and a hundred and eight in height. The whole extent of it, being, as I have before observed, the principal front of the building, is highly ornamented; but, shame to say, the different apartments still remaining are occupied as blacksmiths’ shops, a prison, and the wretched abodes of squalid poverty. The interior of the theatre, too, between the stage and the spectators’ seats, is filled with the most miserable little hovels; and troops of idle, dirty, half-naked urchins may be seen peering at you from every corner you turn.
We ascended a stair-case, leading to the upper part of one of the wings, and, conducted by a little girl, who kept the key, we passed through a small room, that served as the home of herself and family. A dirty straw bed upon the floor in one corner of the room, and a few broken pieces of wooden furniture, were all that the apartment contained, and the light and air being admitted through the door, the dampness and darkness alone would seem to render it insupportable to remain in for any length of time. But the wretchedly24* 282 24(3)v 282 edly poor have no choice of abode, and the inhabitants of this miserable dwelling place probably considered themselves fortunate to be able to obtain a shelter for their heads, of whatever description it might be.
Near the theatre are the vestiges of an ancient circus, or what is supposed to have been such, from its form, which has been ascertained by the careful investigation of antiquaries, who have visited Orange for the purpose of throwing some light upon the subject, and who have given satisfactory reasons for the supposition, that this ruin, believed by many to have been an amphitheatre, and which in fact has given rise to a variety of speculations as to its origin, was a circus of immense size, and covering a large portion of the ground now occupied by the town. Several remnants of stones and columns, together with what is supposed to have been a door of entrance, and which is almost entire, have been discovered in different parts of the town contiguous to the ruin; and, making a plan of all these together upon paper, in the same position that they actually stand, a complete circus is formed of them; which certainly leaves very little doubt that such was its primitive destination.
Having seen every thing worthy of observation in Orange, all which is comprised in the three ruins above described, we were quite ready to leave it early in the afternoon; but were unable 283 24(4)r 283 to find a conveyance until one o’clock in the morning, when we took a cabriolet for the little post village of La Palud, about three leagues distant. This village being upon the direct road from Nismes to Lyons, it is much more easy to obtain seats in the diligence from thence than from Orange. Here we remained until eight o’clock, when the diligence arrived, and we took our places for Vienne. The ride as far Valence was very agreeable. The day was pleasant, with the exception of a few gentle showers, that might also be called pleasant, as they served to lay the dust, that would have otherwise much incommoded us. For almost the whole day, we were traversing a most charming country, and the waters of the river Rhone, winding along through a delightful valley, imparted that feature of beauty so essentially necessary to the perfection of fine scenery.
Valence.—Vienne.—Pyramid.—Maison Carree.—Cathedral.— Lyons.—Place de Belle Cour.—Monumental Chapel.—Hotel de Ville.—Theatre.—Palais des Arts.—Cathedral.— Quai de Saint Clair.
Upon arriving at Valence, early in the evening, we had expected, through the promise of the conducteur, to take our seats in the coupee for the remainder of the night; but owing to a shameful imposition, on the part of the agent of whom we took our seats, we were obliged to ride in the interieur, where, among other persons, were two officers, each with a little dog fastened by a chain; and these disagreeable creatures were to be our companions for ten or twelve hours to come. I had anticipated not being able to sleep, as soon as I saw what company we were likely to have, and my expectations were fully answered, as I scarcely closed my eyes for a moment, and when I did, was sure to be aroused by the restless and continual movement of one of the poor animals, that,—unaccustomed to his novel situation, and with no room to move, without incommoding some one, and consequently receiving a kick or a blow,—scarcely kept quiet for an instant, during the whole night.
Few things in France have struck me as more puerile, than the common practice among gentlemen,285 24(5)r 285 men, of keeping chained dogs attached to them wherever they go. It is bad enough to see women throwing away their time and care, upon a little pet lap-dog; and excites a feeling of regret and astonishment that they cannot find some more worthy employment. You may naturally suppose that the uncomfortable night, which this foolish practice had occasioned me, did not put me in any better humor with it; and I was never more thankful to arrive at any place, than I was when the diligence stopped at Vienne, where we were to remain several hours, thus getting rid of our troublesome fellow travellers.
Almost the first thing, which we did upon alighting, was to secure places in the coupee for Lyons; and then, having been refreshed by an excellent breakfast, we employed ourselves, for the next four or five hours, in seeing the city. Vienne is very agreeably situated at the confluence of the Rhone, and over this river is suspended a wire bridge, built after the manner of that at Beaucaire. It was anciently a celebrated Roman city, and still continues in a flourishing condition. Among the various remains, which it possesses, of its former grandeur, are the ruins of a triumphal arch, a pyramid, and the Maison Carree, resembling, in form that at Nismes; but not nearly so splendid. It is, however, remarkably well preserved, and the interior contains very many interesting antiques. One 286 24(5)v 286 of these is a mosaic, of very large dimensions, and finely executed; and there are likewise several remnants of columns and altars, upon which are carved fruits and flowers, of the most delicate and beautiful description.
Of the triumphal arch very little now remains, and it is so surrounded and mingled in with other buildings, as to lose whatever beauty of aspect it might once have possessed.
The pyramid is of very simple construction, resting upon four pillars, forming the corners of a small square, with openings into it from each of the four sides. There are few ornaments visible upon any part of it; but the singularity of its shape, and its situation in the midst of an open field, render it a striking and conspicuous object when entering the city, as the road passes within a few yards of it.
In addition to these ancient monuments, I was much pleased with a view of the Cathedral, which is very splendid, both within and without. A fine broad flight of steps in front, the whole width of the building, and twenty eight in number, conduct into the interior, which consists of a central and two side naves, the former extending uninterruptedly through the entire length of the church, and terminating at the choir, which is, infact, but a continuation of the nave. At the end composing the choir it is rounded, and ornamented with some very handsome painted 287 24(6)r 287 windows. The ceiling of the chief nave is painted sky-blue, with small yellow stars strewn over it, the effect of which is remarkably pretty. The sides of the nave are likewise adorned with ranges of small arcades.
It happened to be Palm Sunday, the day we were at Vienne, and the Cathedral was crowded with persons of all ages and sizes, all holding green branches in their hands, in honor of the day. I was much surprised, and not a little amused, to observe that, notwithstanding the services, which were going on at the altar, a large number of little children were frolicing and playing about the church, without any person’s appearing to take notice of them, or to make any effort whatever to stop their untimed glee. Untimed it was not to them, I suppose, though to me it seemed strangely incongruous to hear the voices of romping children resounding through a church at the hours of prayer. The green branches, which these little ones bore in their hands, were hung, in every part, with oranges, apples, cakes, blown eggs, and large bunches of different colored ribbons.
At two o’clock, in the afternoon, we left Viienne for Lyons, and reached that place before dark. There was nothing particularly pleasant in the scenery, until arriving at the summit of a hill, just before reaching Lyons. Here the prospect is indeed admirable, presenting an uncommonly288 24(6)v 288 commonly fine view of the city, and the verdant plain contiguous to it, watered and fertilised by the river Rhone, which passes through the midst of both the plain and the city, which latter is situated at the junction of that river with the Saone; while the hilly country around is almost completely covered with innumerable little villas and country houses, scattered about in every direction, to which you can turn your eye. In a few moments after descending the hill, we passed through a beautiful faubourg, united by a bridge to the city on the opposite side of the river. In entering the city, the first object, which attracts the attention, is the magnificent new Hospital, a building of great extent, fronting upon the quay, which borders the banks of the Rhone. From the centre of the edifice rises a large and handsome dome. Passing up a street on one side of the hospital, we drove directly to the hotel des Ambassadeurs, delightfully situated upon the Place de Belle Cour, where the diligence stopped, and where we also decided to take up our abode for the present.
The next morning, we walked out upon the Place de Belle Cour, or Louis le Grand, the most spacious and beautiful square in Lyons. It is one thousand feet in length, and six hundred fifty in breadth, with a range of regularly built houses occupying each end of it. One side is bordered with an avenue of trees, and small 289 25(1)r 289 cafes in front, and upon the opposite side is a line of shops, hotels, and other buildings, many of them very large and handsome. In the centre of the place stands the bronze equestrian statue of Louis Fourteenth, the plaister model of which I have already described to you, as preserved in the Conservatoires des Arts et Metiers at Paris. The model is, in every respect, like the actual statue, except that, the latter being bronze, and standing upon a lofty pedestal in the centre of an extensive square, the effect is altogether different. In this, however, as in the model, I found it difficult to detect the resemblance to Louis, from the absence of the wig, or of any other covering for the head, but the laurel wreath that encircles his brow. A bronze railing, of much beauty, encloses the statue, and near the top of the railing, all around, at short distances apart, is the cypher L. V. G. D., being part of the letters of the ancient Latin name of the city.
Our next point to gain, from the Place de Belle Cour, was the monumental Chapel, erected to the memory of those citizens, who perished during the revolution. To reach this, we crossed to the other side of the Rhone, upon one of the great number of bridges, most of them constructed of wood, that are thrown across the two rivers at different points, none of them very remarkable for their beauty, but rather for their great strength and durability. The monumental Chapel is a 25 290 25(1)v 290 most odd, fanciful looking building, not at all agreeable in its effect upon the eye. Its chief peculiarity consists in this, that upon the part of the Chapel answering to the tower of a church, is a tall, heavy pyramid of hewn stone, resting upon a small, one-story building, with a few windows at the sides, and a flight of steps to enter in front. At the back part is an iron latticed door, through which you may see a large vault, extending under the whole Chapel. The use to which this is probably applied is for a burial-place.
Passing by the Quai de St. Clair, and the splendid range of noble buildings situated upon it, we returned to the central part of the city, and visited the Hotel de Ville. This edifice, though possessing much of the blackness and dinginess of aspect, common to almost all the buildings, public and private, in Lyons, is nevertheless, very majestic and beautiful. We first entered a court with four large pavilions at the corners, connected together on two sides by buildings, and on the other two by ranges of open arcades. Ascending a flight of steps, we passed through one of these arcades into a second court, surrounded with buildings, and thence into a large vestibule or hall, where are the two beautiful bronze statues, which originally adorned the pedestal, upon which a former statue of Louis Fourteenth once stood, in the Place de Belle Cour. These colossal figures, the one male, the other 291 25(2)r 291 female, represent the two rivers Rhone and Saone. The former is in a reclining attitude, supported by a huge bronze lion,—and the latter, also reclining, is upheld by a lioness of equally gigantic stature. The front of the Hotel de Ville is very beautifully constructed, and is adorned with a bas-relief statue of Henry Fourth, together with statues of Hercules and Minerva. Back of these, from the centre of the building, rises the tower. Very near in the vicinity of the edifice, they are erecting a most sumptuous and elegant stone theatre.
The Palais des Arts, in the same neighborhood, is likewise a very fine building. The inner court is a large beautiful area, planted with trees and flowers, with a statue in the centre of it, and surrounded by galleries of arcades, which form the base of four lofty piles of buildings. Within the galleries is contained a large collection of rare antiquities, arranged with great care and taste, in arches, placed against the wall to compare with the arcades. Above these, is a second open gallery, extending around the buildings, and bordered by a low iron balustrade. From this gallery you enter the several apartments, which together with the antiques, compose the public Museum.
We visited the gallery of pictures only, and with these I was perfectly delighted. The paintings, very many of them, were highly interesting 292 25(2)v 292 in their subjects, and well executed; and the whole arrangement of the gallery was truly admirable. The floor was composed of black and white marbles, laid in squares, and at the centre and both ends of the gallery were three beautiful mosaics, enclosed within railings of bronze. Among various little curiosities, shown here, in addition to the paintings, was the will of Louis Sixteenth, woven into white silk, and the letters all as distinctly and regularly done as in the finest printing I have ever seen. There was, likewise, the parting of a young conscript with his family, woven in the same manner, and forming one of the most interesting pictures in the whole collection.
The Cathedral of Lyons is ranked among the most splendid in France, with regard to the architecture; and its beauty is very much increased by the complete regularity of the front, a circumstance of rare occurrence, as very few even of the finest churches in any part of the country are either completely or regularly finished. We visited several other churches, besides the Cathedral; but I found nothing in them particularly deserving of record, except in one, where were two granite pillars, which formerly composed but a single column, supposed to have been brought from Egypt, and of such enormous size, that even the two formed from it, by its being sawn across in the middle, are of astonishingly large dimensions.
Here I concluded my long and agreeable walk, 293 25(3)r 293 which had comprised all those parts of Lyons most worthy of being seen. This city, though a very magnificent one, in many respects, is not that which I should choose as a place of residence. Its public buildings are certainly very fine; and few places can exceed it in the loftiness and grandeur of its private dwelling houses. Many of them, and particularly those upon the Quai de St. Clair, stretching out in long, regular lines, have a remarkably elegant appearance; but the perfectly black hue, that they have acquired, and the narrowness of most of the streets, in comparison with the height of the buildings upon them, throw an air of gloom and desolation around the whole city, which deprives it of much of its beauty. A very fine place it is, however, in spite of these disadvantages, and its environs are all so peculiarly beautiful, that they atone, in a great measure, for the sombre, gloomy aspect, which the city itself assumes.
During the time that we were at Lyons, we saw a large number of French soldiers, on their march to Toulon, to embark for Algiers. There were also at dinner with us, a numerous company of officers, all uniformed, likewise pursuing their way to Toulon. I could not but look at them with sadness, as I thought how many of them might never return to the country, they were now quitting with so much apparent lightness of heart, and cheerfulness of spirits.
River Soane.—Isle Barbe.—Trevoux.—Macon.—Chalons.— Beaune.—Dijon.—Provinces of Burgundy and Champagne.— Montereau.—Paris.—Messageries of Laffitte and Caillaud.— Saint Sulpice.—Luxembourg.—Observatory.—Enfans Trouves.—Maison de’Accouchement.—Gobelins.
On the following morning, at four o’clock, we entered the steam boat for Chalons, and reached this place at half-past nine in the evening. The banks of the Saone, between Lyons and Chalons, are in many places extremely beautiful, and for the whole distance, indeed, there is a great variety of villages and country seats, surrounded by highly cultivated land, and fresh green fields of rural and charming aspect. The two largest places are Trevoux and Macon, at both of which the boat stopped for a short time, to land and take in passengers.
Very soon after leaving Lyons, we passed the Isle Barbe, a favorite resort of the fashionable of the city, and much celebrated for the beauty of its scenery. The Emperor Charlemagne is said to have been so much fascinated with this little island, that he had contemplated retiring from the world, and making it the place of his final abode. A handsome chain bridge connects the island with the main land.
Upon arriving at Chalons, we found the diligence for Dijon quite full, and were therefore 295 25(4)r 295 obliged to remain until the following morning at five o’clock, thus gaining a good night’s sleep, but abridging considerably the time, which we should be able to devote to Dijon.
Our ride from Chalons was very pleasant, through a country almost exclusively covered with vines. We passed several of the vineyards, where the best Burgundy wines are produced. At Beaune, where we dined, I had an opportunity of judging, as to the goodness of the wine made here, for the common table wine set before us was certainly of a most superior and delicious quality.
Beaune is a very lively looking place, and possesses, among other public buildings, a well endowed hospital, built in the gothic style, and which I saw to advantage, it being near the hotel where we dined. In the course of the afternoon we reached Dijon. The entrance to the city, as well as the general aspect of those parts of it which I saw, pleased me very much, but our arrangements being made to depart for Paris in the evening, my time was chiefly occupied in obtaintaining rest and refreshment. I had an opportunity, however, of seeing the fine Cathedral, whose beautiful spire, three hundred and seventy-five feet in height, is much and deservedly admired.
The diligence, in which we left Dijon, was one of those belonging to Lafitte, Caillard and Company. The carriages belonging to this line are all 296 25(4)v 296 uncommonly easy and neatly finished, and having fortunately secured good corner seats, a circumstance very desirable when obliged to ride all night, we determined to keep on direct to Paris without stopping, being a journey of about forty- eight hours. The weather was very delightful, and notwithstanding the fatigue of sitting in the carriage two days and nights in succession, and this too almost without sleep, I enjoyed the journey, for the most part, very highly.
The second day after leaving Dijon, we passed through the village of Moutereau, celebrated as the theatre of a bloody conflict between the French and the Allied Armies in 1814eighteen hundred fourteen. It is situated at the juncture of the Seine and the Yonne, in the midst of a charming country, in a fine state of cultivation. Just after passing through the village, we came to a long hill, where all the passengers alighted and walked up;—a toil for which we were amply repaid, by the almost boundless and beautiful prospect, that greeted our eyes from its summit. Indeed, for the whole journey, objects of great attraction and interest had constantly succeeded each other, calling forth our unwearied attention and admiration. The villages, that we passed through, in the provinces of Burgundy, Champagne, and Isle de France, were extremely numerous; some remarkable for their charming situation, others for the chateaus, that, standing imbedded in the 297 25(5)r 297 trees, with long shady avenues leading from them, or bright, airy terraces, commanding a view of the country around, seemed to invite our longer delay, to enjoy a more protracted and near inspection of their beauties and splendor.
Part of the journey, that is, from Dijon, through Semur, Montbard, Ancy-le-Franc, Tonnerre, and St. Florentin, to Joigny, was a kind of crossroad; but not the less interesting on that account. At Joigny, we entered upon the great road from Lyons through Sens and Montereau to Melun, and thence, through the delightful villages of Montgeron, and Villeneuve-Saint-George, into Paris, by the Barriere de la Gare. As we gradually approached the metropolis, the villages and fine castles continued to increase, and country seats of the most beautiful description lent a still more pleasing diversity to the scene. At eight o’clock, on the evening of the 1830-04-09ninth of April, we once more entered Paris, after having been absent from it nearly six months. The brilliant gas-lighted shops, the crowded streets and rattling carriages, soon announced our having reached the busy capital, and in a few moments more we drove into the spacious court-yard of the great proprietors before mentioned.
And this, through but a court-yard, amply deserves a description here. One entire side of it is occupied by an hotel, and around the remaining part are large, handsome buildings, divided into 298 25(5)v 298 different offices; and at these travellers may be booked to every part of France, and to almost every part of Europe. Over the door of one building you see, in large letters, Italy,—over a second, Spain,—over a third, England,—and so on, each office being marked with the names of a different set of routes. Thus when a stranger is desirous of going into Italy, for instance, he has only to repair to the office designated by that name, and is spared the trouble of going from place to place, in order to learn the proper office, at which to obtain information respecting the route, or to obtain a seat. This convenient establishment, termed the Messageries Generales, is undoubtedly the most splendid and extensive of its kind, in the world. There is, however, another in Paris, of a similar description, nearly equal to this in extent, though far less elegantly got up. It is called the Messageries Royales; and it was by this line, that we travelled from Brussels to Paris, the preceding summer.
The night of our arrival, 1830-04-09April ninth, we slept at the hotel connected with the Messageries Generales; and the following morning resumed our old lodgings in Rue d’Astoi, where we received a warm welcome from our friends, and where, I will assure you, I was delighted to be once more comfortably established after all the fatigues of a long journey, and of the latter part of it particularly.299 25(6)r 299
For the first four or five days, subsequent to my reaching Paris, I remained quietly at home, not only to recover from my fatigue, but also on account of the rainy, cold, disagreeable weather, which it seems our fate to have always found in this otherwise delightful city. We had seen but little weather like it, since leaving Paris in October; and a change from the bright and cloudless skies of the south of Spain, and the almost equally delightful ones of the south of France, to the cold, chill atmosphere, and the continual rain, which greeted our return to the centre of all gaiety and fashion, was of course far from pleasant.
1830-04-14Wednesday, the fourteenth, however, being a fine day, and one of those on which the celebrated establishment of the Gobelins is exhibited to all who have obtained tickets for that purpose, we set out, early after breakfast with the intention of visiting it, after taking two or three other things on the way thither, that we were also desirous of seeing. In passing the church of St. Sulpice, I could not forbear to enter it again; and was, if possible, more struck with the splendor of it now, than when I had first seen it. Few churches can surpass it in noble and majestic exterior, or in beauty of decoration within. The painted chapels have a wonderfully fine effect.
Our path lay through the garden of the Luxembourg, through which, and the court of its 300 25(6)v 300 magnificent palace, I passed with admiration, familiar as they were to my eye. The garden was fresh, green, and bright, as the most soft and beautiful verdure could make it, and as I gazed around, in walking through it, I could scarcely give the palm of beauty, even to the garden of the Tuileries itself.
The central walk, leading through the middle of the garden, terminates at the front of the Observatory, towards which our steps were directed. This is a neat stone building, particularly adapted, in its architecture, to astronomical observations. The top of the roof composes a terrace, which you ascend by a very remarkable geometrical stone stair-case. It is of spiral form, and entirely supports itself. Before going up to the top, we entered several apartments, where were placed telescopes, of different sizes and powers. Had we gone in the evening, we might have had an opportunity to view the heavenly bodies through them, that is, provided an evening could be found sufficiently clear for such a purpose.
In the vicinity ofthe Observatory is the Hospice des Enfans Trouves, or Foundling Hospital. At the bottom of the stair-case, in entering, is a marble sttue of St. Vincent de Paule, with one little infant in his arms, and another lying at his feet. It was by the persuasion of this benevolent man, who also founded the order of the Sisters of Charity, that Louis Thirteenth gave a donation, 301 26(1)r 301 of so much per year, for the establishment of a place of reception for foundlings; and during the minority of his son Louis Fourteenth, his widow, Anne of Austria, bestowed double the sum granted by her husband, upon the same institution. It is from this period, that the foundation of the Foundling Hospital in Paris is dated; but it is only since the year 18111811, that it has been under such regulations and restrictions, as to prevent those gross abuses, which had previously crept into the institution, threatening it with utter ruin.
The number of children in the Hospice, at the time I visited it, was one hundred and fifty, all of them very small infants; and these, under the kind and tender care of the Sisters of Charity, and of the nurses appointed to take charge of the poor helpless beings, are in a situation as neat and comfortable as it is possible they should be. It is a rule of the institution, that every child, received into it, whose health will admit of this, shall be sent into the country to be nursed, under the inspection of the overseers of the hospital, until sufficiently old to become an inmate of the Hospice des Orphelins, where orphan childdren are taught to read and write, preparatory to being bound out to service. No child is permitted to be taken into the Foundling Hospital over two years of age; and if, by chance, one should be left there above that age, it is immediately 26 302 26(1)v 302 sent to the Orphan Asylum. A cradle, turning upon a pivot, with a bell beside it, is placed in the wall of the porter’s lodge, and into this the children are conveyed, and the bell being rung, they are removed instantly to the room appropriated to the purpose of receiving them.
The first room, that I entered, was the Infirmary, in which was a range of little cribs, in the form of cradles, with dark blue curtains drawn closely around, thus screening the eyes of the little patients from too great a glare of light. We next passed into the great hall, a fine large room, lined on both sides with these same little cribs, only that the curtains were white instead of blue. In all of them, however, I could not but notice how perfectly clean and freshly aired were the beds and bed-clothes, and likewise how neatly dressed were all the attendants belonging to the house. The number of nurses is about one to four children, and their duty is to see that these are comfortable and suffer for nothing; but they are not allowed to tend them more than is absolutely necessary, and each child must occupy its own appropriate crib.
Near the Foundling Hospital is the Maison d’Accouchement, which I cannot pass over in silence, as it is esteemed one of the most useful institutions ever established in France. Its great public utility consists not so much in its affording a place of refuge for the honest poor, as well as 303 26(2)r 303 for those, who have strayed from the paths of virtue,—as in fact, that there is united with it a school of midwifery, where a large number of females are regularly educated in that branch of the medical art.
Every part of this hospital, as well as that for the foundlings, the two being in fact connected together, is kept in the nicest order; and large, airy apartments are appropriated as work rooms, where all the inmates are employed at stated hours every day, in making garments for themselves and for the infants belonging to the two institutions. A child, born in the Maison d’Accouchement, is immediately after its birth conveyed to the Foundling Hospital, in a large box with long handles at the ends of it, so that it may be carried by two persons. The box is divided into four, five, or six parts, as it may be, with a pillow in each part. In these children are placed, and then the cover, which is very much rounded at the top, being shut close, the air is excluded and they are thus conveyed without difficulty or danger of taking cold. After the period of eight days, when the mother is obliged to quit the Hospital, she may reclaim the child, or leave it, as she sees fit.
Two o’clock having now arrived, the hour appointed for exhibiting the Gobelins, we repaired thither, and were shown into a sort of ante-room, where we were obliged to wait, till our turn came 304 26(2)v 304 to enter the work-shops. Each party, as they enter, receive a number, and when that number is called, and not before, you are permitted to enter the manufactory, conducted by a guide. In the apartments are placed ranges of looms, in which the warp, instead of lying flat across the loom, as in ordinary weaving, runs up and down; and upon each set are drawn the outlines of whatever picture the workman is required to exhibit upon the piece of tapestry, when completed. The painting, from which he is to make a copy, is then placed behind the loom; and filling of all the different colors being at hand, he had only to weave the cloth in exact imitation of the picture; and when this is finished, the copy is more splendid and perfect, than you could possibly imagine such a thing to be. The filling consists of very fine worsted or crewel, such as stool coverings, and similar articles, are worked with; and the warp seemed to be coarse white yarn. Each time that the worsted is passed through, it is pressed down, between the threads of the warp, with a pointed steel or iron instrument; and you may judge by this, how great must be the time and labor employed in completing a large piece of tapestry. The pictures, which are now weaving, are nearly all of them copies of some of the most celebrated paintings in the Louvre.
In addition to the rooms, devoted to this species 305 26(3)r 305 of tapestry, there are others in which carpets are woven. These carpets are most superb, and only used by members of the royal family and some few great public institutions. Those now in the looms are destined for the choir of Notre Dame, and for one of the apartments of the Dauphine.
From the work-rooms, we were shown into the Salle d’Exposition, which is a picture gallery, containing a large number of the works, which have been completed in the manufactory. These are all framed, and so exactly resemble paintings, that it is impossible to distinguish the difference, except upon minute examination. Besides the larger historical pieces, there are two admirable portraits of Charles Tenth, the one representing him in his coronation robes, and the other in his military uniform. Each of those portraits employed two workmen two years and a half altogether, and one of the largest pieces occupied the space of from six to seven years, with several men at work upon it.
This celebrated manufactory forms, it is true, a very brilliant and beautiful exhibition; but it is at the same time, the most idle piece of extravagance, that can well be devised. The enormous expense, necessary to keep up such an establishment, might be most usefully employed in the advancement of some less splendid, but more valuable art, than that of weaving tapestry for the King’s use; and particularly as, after a few years, 26* 306 26(3)v 306 the pictures fade to such a degree, as to lose all their beauty, and to appear like any ordinary tapestry.
Panorama of Rome.—Bazaars.—La Belle Jardiniere.—Lafayette’s Soirees.—Palais Royal.—General Santander.—Garden of the Tuileries.—King’s Chapel.—Gallery of the Louvre.— Murillo.—Rubens.—Saint Vincent de Paule.
In going through the Passage du Panorama, on our return from the Gobelins, we stopped to view the Panorama of Rome, there exhibited. It is said to be a very accurate representation of the city, as viewed from the dome of St. Peter’s. The city itself, as it respected the generality of the buildings, was far from handsome; but the ancient monuments could all be seen to advantage, and these, though only viewed as paintings, appeared so much like reality, that I almost fancied myself, for the moment, to be actually looking at the very ruins themselves, so far famed, and so worthy of admiration, according to all the representations we have of them.
The evening of the same day, and indeed several that succeeded it, we passed in walking through a number of the bazaars, recently established in Paris. These bazaars consist of large apartments307 26(4)r 307 ments filled with a fine display of fancy articles, of almost every description, arranged upon counters, in a manner to show them off to the best advantage. The counters are all attended by females, each having a particular set of articles under her own care, and for which she is answerable. It is a very amusing and agreeable method of passing a leisure hour in Paris, to ramble around in the bazaars and passages, particularly in the evening, when they are brilliantly lighted, and crowded with company.
During the same week, I was invited by some American friends to go and see a very beautiful painting, purporting to be Raphael’s, in the possession of Mr. Samuel Williams, the late London banker. This splendid picture represents the Virgin, seated amid green foliage and flowers, her lovely countenance beaming with the mingled expressions of maternal affection, sweetness and piety, as her downcast eye is bent upon the infant Jesus, who is standing at her knee, resting his elbow upon her lap, with both his feet upon one of hers, and looking up smilingly into her face, while John kneels at one side, his eyes turned towards the Savior, and clasping a cross in his arms. The back ground of the picture presents a view of distant mountains, and some small villages. This picture is nearly a counterpart to the celebrated one in the Louvre, called Le Belle Jardiniere; but it is doubtful, which of the 308 26(4)v 308 two was originally painted by Raphael, or whether they were not both the production of that eminent artist. The difference between them is scarcely distinguishable, consisting only in the comparative brightness of the coloring, and a slight difference between the foliage and background of the one and the other. In each of these respects, Mr. Williams’ picture is superior to that in the Louvre, particularly in the coloring, which is much more brilliant and beautiful. Notwithstanding that the painting is, even when narrowly examined, remarkably fresh and smooth in its appearance, it has been wholly removed from the canvass, which it was originally painted on, that having been so cracked and broken as to render the operation necessary. But this has not injured the picture, in the slightest degree. I should never have suspected, from mere observation, that it had been removed; and even when told of it, could scarcely believe such a thing possible, so perfectly free was the painting from injury or blemish.
On Tuesday evening, 1830-04-20April twentieth, I attended a soiree at General Lafayette’s, where I had once more the opportunity of meeting a greater part of the delightful circle, I had left at La Grange. Mr G. W. Lafayette and his lady were also present. The excellent General was in remarkably fine health, full of cheerfulness, 309 26(5)r 309 and overflowing with kindness as usual. There were very few ladies present, on this occasion, independently of the family. There were, however, a large number of gentlemen, chiefly French, but including some Americans and other strangers. Several rooms were thrown open, and these were nearly filled. The gentlemen walked about from room to room, conversing with the ladies, and with each other.
No ceremony whatever is practised at these parties, which the General gives every Tuesday evening, and to which all his friends go, without any particular invitation. Every person is at liberty to amuse himself as he chooses, and retires at whatever hour he thinks proper, merely bidding the General and Madame Lasteyrie good night, without breaking up, or disturbing the rest of the party. Some of the guests remain only for an hour, nine o’clock being the time, at which the company usually assemble; others stay till eleven or twelve, but seldom later than that. We came away at eleven, and left almost all the party still there; a few only having previously retired.
In describing this visit to General Lafayette, as also in giving an account of the family at La Grange, I have departed from the rule hitherto adopted in my journal, of excluding from it all notice of visits made to private individuals, which a traveller should never mention except in confidential310 26(5)v 310 fidential letters or conversation. But the high standing and character of the General, together with the peculiar relation which he bears with respect to our country, have led me to speak of him and his family, with much less reserve, than I should feel authorised to do in regard to any other person or family, with whom I have become acquainted.
On Friday, we visited the apartments of the Duke of Orleans, in the Palais Royal. A handsome vestibule, paved with marble, and a very splendid stair case, conduct to the suite of rooms above. Visiters do not, however, ascend by this stair case; but pass by it, to a back flight of stairs, in order to reach the apartments. Before entering the first one, we were handed a catalogue of the pictures, by one of the numerous liveried attendants, who were in waiting, and requested to return it again when we came out. The pictures are nearly all modern, and some of them well painted, but chiefly remarkable as a private collection. The family of the Duke are portrayed, again and again, in every room you enter, and the various situations, in which he is himself exhibited, are very numerous.
The different apartments are all handsomely furnished, the predominant color of the hangings being yellow, with gilt ornaments. In two of the rooms I observed some very splendid glass chandeliers, ornamented with gilding, which, 311 26(6)r 311 when lighted, are represented to be brilliant beyond description. The most striking, and in my opinion the handsomest of the aparment, was a species of hall, the windows looking out upon the gardens of the Palais Royal. One end of this hall is adorned numerous mirrors, and with some very handsome stucco columns, in imitation of marble, with gilt capitals and bases; and opposite each window is a large, handsome picture. These paintings all relate to incidents that have taken place in the Palais. Among them is the presentation of Franklin to the father of the present Duke of Orleans, after the recognition of the independence of the United States by Great Britain.
Although the day, on which we visited these apartments, was exceedingly unpleasant, there was a large company of well dressed ladies and gentlemen assembled in them. The Duke appoints certain days in the week, in which his palace may be seen; and upon those days it is usually quite full of visiters, as you may suppose. There is no difficulty in obtaining permission to view it, as you have only to make application, by post or otherwise, to the proper officers in the Duke’s household, and a ticket is sent you without delay. This is a striking prood, in addition to numberless others, of the ease with which a person may have access to every thing worthy of being seen at Paris. The universal system of 312 26(6)v 312 things seems to be, that of granting free admission, to strangers particularly, into all the public and private institutions, and to all exhibitions, of whatever description, which the city affords. This is one of the great reasons, and I esteem it a sufficient one, that Paris is the resort of such an immense number of foreigners, as daily flock to it from all parts of the world. In no other city whatever, can be found equal advantages, either for study or amusement, and in no other are these so easy of access as in Paris: circumstances, which necessarily serve to render it one of the most delightful places to visit, which any where exist.
Upon our return home from the Palais Royal, we received a call from the famous Columbian General, Santander. He is a very gentlemanly looking man, has intelligent, penetrating eyes, converses a good deal and without restraint. He was, as you know, obliged to leave South America on account of his opposition to the ambitious designs of Bolivar.
We had obtained tickets of admission to the King’s Chapel, to hear mass performed on 1830-04-25Sunday, the twenty-fifth. Previous to the hour appointed, we repaired to the Tuileries, and beguiled an hour in walking around the garden, and admiring anew its never tiring beauties, more strikingly displayed at this session than at any other, owing to the sweetness and freshness of the new blossoms and verdure, with which all 313 27(1)r 313 the trees were loaded. The garden was, as usual, full of company, and after having wandered around through one path and another, we finally all congregatd together at the gates of the palace. The day was not remarkably pleasant, and a keen air was blowing directly upon us as we stood;—and finding that, in order to get good places, it would be necessary to remain exposed to the bleak wind sometime longer, we at length gave up our design, and, following the example of several of our companions, who had taken the liberty to depart, we walked away, and bent our course towards the Louvre, for the purpose of spending our time in the picture gallery. There we passed several hours, much to our gratification.
This splendid gallery loses nothing by being repeatedly seen, and indeed it is only by visiting it often, that one learns to appreciate its beauties. The Italian and Spanish pictures, though these last are but few in number, chiefly occupied us during the whole time we remained. Murillo’s beautiful Virgin and Child, and several of the same subject by Raphael, rivetted my attention in a particular manner, as it is a subject, in the illustration of which both these great masters peculiarly excel. I have seen many charming paintings, of various kinds, by both Raphael and Murillo; but in none have I ever observed the same degree of that touching simplicity of beauty, which seizes at once upon the affections,27 314 27(1)v 314 tions, while it captivates the eye, as in their inimitable representations of the Holy Family.
The pictures of Rubens, contained in the Louvre, are much celebrated; but to my eye, they possess little in them to admire. The most praised among them are a series of allegorical paintings, of events in the life of Mary de Medicis, which appear to me remarkable, indeed; but only for their extravagance, grossness, and want of taste. I have in fact seen few, if any, pictures of Rubens, out of the Netherlands, but what were equally fastastical and strange in their design, with those in the Louvre; and did not his unparallelled Descent from the Cross, and a few other productions of his, which I had been so much pleased with in Belgium, sometimes come to my recollection, I should wonder that he was ever admired as a painter.
There is one mark, by which a person may always know Rubens’ pictures, after having seen two or three of them; and that is the singular and absurd habit which he had, of painting the portraits of one of his three wives, whenever he wished to represent the female face. And this he has done in nearly all his large pieces. To pay the compliment to his wives occasionally, would be well enough; but to paint their features so continually, that they serve as a kind of index to point out his pictures wherever they are seen, is, in my opinion, both egotistical and ridiculous.315 27(2)r 315
From the Louvre, we crossed over the Pont des Arts to the Quai Voltaire opposite, where we obtained a stand, to see the procession pass, which was to accompany the body of St. Vincent de Paule. During the revolution it had been thought necessary to secrete the bones of this saint; and these have been recently discovered, filled out with wax, and exposed at the church of Notre Dame, with various religious ceremonies. The object of the present procession was to bear the body to another church, at which it was permanently to remain.
After waiting until our patience was nearly exhausted, we were warned that the procession was approaching, by hearing the sound of distant voices chanting a hymn, and by seeing a small flag, with long streamers to it, borne aloft in the air, above the heads of the surrounding multitude. I was extremely disappointed, however, to find that the procession consisted, almost exclusively, of the clergy and Sisters of Charity, bearing along at intervals flags of different colors, or large candlesticks, crosses, and other like badges of the Catholic faith. There was no other music, than the chanting of the priests and sisterhood, and occasionally the beat of a drum, which was carried before a few platoons of soldiers. The whole thing was very poorly got up, and was scarcely worth seeing, except for a view of the splendid silver shrine, which contained the body of the saint. At 316 27(2)v 316 the top were figures of himself, and of some little children;—and within the shrine, upon a pall of black velvet, fringed with gold, was laid the body. The shrine was elevated very high, so that all could have an opportunity of seeing it, as it was borne slowly along by the priests.
The number of priests, assembled upon this occasion, was almost incredible. I should not have believed it possible, that Paris could produce such an almost endless procession of them, as we then saw. The press of spectators, too, both on foot and in carriages, was prodigious. The whole quay was lined with them, as closely as they could stand, for a long distance on each side. If they all had the same opinion with myself, they must have gone away quite dissatisfied with having consumed so much time to so little purpose.
Chateau of St. Cloud.—Park.—Lantern of Napoleon.—Porcelain Manufactory of Sevres.—Pont de Jena.—Champ de Mars.—Le Conte’s Theatre.—Neuilly.—Normandy.
On Monday, we took advantage of the weather, to visit St. Cloud. A diligence for nine persons leaves the Rue Duphot every forty minutes, for St. Cloud and back again direct. At nine 317 27(3)r 317 o’clock we took our places in one of these, and, after a pleasant ride of an hour or two, by the way of Passy and Auteuil, we were set down at the bottom of the hill, upon which the Chateau of St. Cloud stands. The appearance of this palace, as you approach it in ascending the hill, is very beautiful. It occupies three sides of a square, and the windows of the central building are ornamented with pilasters, and surmounted with bas-reliefs. In front is a gate, with two large statues, upon pedestals, each side of it.
On applying at the porter’s lodge, we procured a guide to conduct us through the Chateau. He led the way into a vestibule, from whence two handsome stair-cases, opposite each other, lead to the royal apartment. These stair-cases are very different in their construction, the railing of one being iron, that of the other marble. The first room, that we entered, was a sort of ante-chamber, hung around with full length portraits of the Marquis de Lescure, Henri de Larochejaquelein, Cathelineau, and five others of the most distinguished royalist leaders, in the war of La Vendee. From this you pass into a second room, in which are portraits of George Cadoudal, and other conspirators against the life of Napoleon. Several other apartments, hung with silks of different colors, with furniture to match, lead to a spacious room, which is adorned with very fine portraits of Henry Fourth, Louis Fourteenth27* 318 27(3)v 318 teenth, Louis Fifteenth and wife, Louis Sixteenth and Marie Antoinette, together with those of the father and mother of Charles Tenth.
This completes the suite of rooms appropriated to the King’s use. Then follow those of the Dauphin. The ante-room contains several paintings, representing hunting scenes, and also a statue of Henry Fourth, in his youth. The cabinet is a neat, small apartment, and in it is a most beautiful little table, with a circular top, composed of mother of pearl, and covered over with glass, which prevents any injury to the pearl, but takes nothing from its beauty, as it is seen with perfect distinctness through the glass.
The reception room comes next, and this apartment, said to have been Napoleon’s cabinet, is one of the most splendid, which the palace contains. The hangings are of delicate yellow silk, ornamented with gilding, and the sofa and chairs are of the same; and in the panels, which divide the doors and windows, are beautiful little painted figures. Three handsome tables occupy the upper end of the room, and upon one of these are two small equestrian statues, of Francis First and Henry Fourth, and the busts of the Duke of Bordeaux and his sister. Upon the second table are statues of Saint Louis and Louis Fourteenth; and upon the third those of Louis Twelfth and Thirteenth, all equestrian. These little statues are a beautiful imitation of marble, made at the 319 27(4)r 319 Sevres porcelain Manufactory. The windows of the Salle de Reception command a delightful view of the Park, and of the structure, called the Lantern of Napoleon, which stands upon an eminence at one extremity of it. The bed chamber which adjoins this room, is not remarkable for its beauty. The bed hangings are of crimson and yellow damask.
The Dauphine’s suite of apartments follow those of the Dauphin, and are, I think, the least sumptuous of any that I saw. Next to the bathing-room, which is hung with muslin lined with blue, and ornamented with mirrors, is the Cabinet de Travail. This is a neat apartment, the hangings being composed of white silk, with colored flowers; and the sofa, made to compare, has for arms two beautiful gilt swans, with a little ball suspended at the beak of each.
The next room contains, among other pictures, a very interesting one of Marie Antoinette surrounded by her children. An infant, afterwards Louis Seventeenth, reposes upon her lap, while his brother, the first Dauphin, who died young, is drawing aside the curtain, which covers the cradle. The Duchesse d’Angouleme is represented hanging affectionately on her mother’s arm, whose happy expression of countenance rests upon the little babe, which she holds in her arms. What a striking contrast did this domestic scene present to the subsequent unfortunate 320 27(4)v 320 fate of the same persons; and how must the heart of the Dauphine be wrung, when she gazes upon this affecting representation of an unhappy mother’s maternal love and care. From this room, you enter the bed chamber, that contains nothing remarkable, and which finishes the suite.
The succession of apartments, that we were next shown through, was truly splendid. The first, called Salon de Reception, is hung with rich crimson velvet, and furniture of the same trimmings. Candelabras of bronze, ornamented with gilding, are placed round the room, together with a variety of handsome vases, among which is one of great beauty, and much celebrated, made at the Sevres Manufactory. From the beautifully painted ceiling are suspended two remarkably large and elegant glass lustres. The next apartment, the Salon de Jeu, has likewise a painted ceiling, and the hangings and furniture are of bluesilk. Those of the Salon de Louis Seize, are of a superb red silk ground, with raised velvet figures upon it. The Salon de Mars is remarkable for the beauty of its painted ceiling, but it contains no other object of interest, although a large picture, representing the Dauphin in Spain, shows conspicuously upon one side of the room.
The Galerie d’Apollon is strikingly beautiful. The ceiling is richly painted and gilded, and a large number of pictures, several of them very fine, adorn the walls. A range of windows opens 321 27(5)r 321 upon the Park, each being hung with white silk curtains. Opposite each window is a mirror, to compare with it in size, and also hung with curtains to match. Various little ornaments, such as vases, small statues, and busts, farther ornament the room; and at one end of it is a handsome bronze model of the statue of Henry Fourth upon the Pont Neuf.
Adjoining the gallery is another apartment, in which are several beautiful pictures. One of them represents the Maison Carree at Nismes,— a second the ruins at Orange and Saint Remy,— and a third, a well executed portraits of Louis Eighteenth in his youth. As we reached this apartment intelligence was brought to our guide that the Dauphine had arrived from Paris: a hint, of course, to us, that we must retire, which we did without delay, and directed our steps towards the Park.
The Park of Saint Cloud is, in many respects, much inferior to that of Versailles. It presents, however, a more natural appearance, and is very extensive and beautiful. It possesses one very celebrated fountain, said to be finer than any at Versailles. This I could imagine from its situation and form, and also from the innumerable spouts, which I could discover in every part of it. But only when the waters are playing can this, or indeed any other fountain, be seen in perfection. Having sauntered around for some 322 27(5)v 322 time, amid the fine groves of majestic horse chestnut trees, all in full blossom, with which the Park abounds, and amused ourselves by watching the graceful motions of several stately swans, which were swimming in the large basin of water constructed for their use,—we ascended the hill, to which a broad noble avenue leads from the Chateau. On the summit of this hill stands a monument, erected by Napoleon, which I have already mentioned, as known by the name of the Lantern of Napoleon. It is a kind of needle or obelisk, and is a very conspicuous object, from many points in the neighborhood, as I formerly had occasion to observe in going from Paris to Versailles. The view from this Lantern is remarkably extensive and delightful. A number of pretty villages, together with wide spread meadows and a fertile country, meet the eye, while the lofty domes and towers of Paris may be seen rising in the distance.
We did not ascend to the top of the Lantern, as the view is substantially the same from the brow of the hill, which it occupies; and having enjoyed this to our satisfaction, we descended the hill, and passed through the Park, upon the other side of it, to the village of Sevres, in order to visit the famous Manufactory, to which I have repeatedly alluded. Several large work rooms, appropriated to the purposes of turning and moulding, of baking, painting, and enamelling the different articles,323 27(6)r 323 ticles, were first shown us, each process being explained as we went along. After that, we passed through the apartments devoted to the models of all the statues, busts, and works of that description, which have been executed in the Manufactory, together with similar works of other countries, and a large number of plaister models of celebrated statues, to be used in designing.
The magasin, so called, is a sucession of rooms, in which are displayed a most sumptuous collection of rich and valuable articles, all productions of the Manufactory. These consisted chiefly of breakfast, dinner, and tea services, beautifully painted and gilded, most of them containing correct likenesses of distinguished individuals; vases of various forms and sizes, with pictures upon both sides of them, all highly gilded and enamelled; and several copies of celebrated paintings, very much decreased in size, but admirably executed. There is a softness and beauty of finish about them, which you never see in any painting whatever done upon canvass. In addition to these, were several portraits of different members of the royal family, very excellent likenesses.
Among the various dinner sets was a collection of plate, the design of which struck me as being in fine taste. Each plate represents one of the departments of France, containing a view of some celebrated place in that department, with 324 27(6)v 324 miniatures of the two most renowned persons it had produced. Another beautiful little article, which much pleased my fancy, was a small table, in size and general appearance like that in the Dauphin’s cabinet at Saint Cloud, and probably an imitation of it. It was made of the most delicate white porcelain, with gilt ornaments, and the top represented, at the centre, a picture of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden; and around this was a band, divided into small, circular pictures, of different scenes, drawn from the history of our first parents.
We had now spent as much time here, as we could devote to the examination of this beautiful and tempting collection;—of which the greater part, however, seems only fit for the use of kings and princes, and altogether too splendid for any less exalted destination.
In entering Paris, upon our return from Sevres, we passed along by the Pont de l’Ecole Militaire, formerly the Pont de Jena. This bridge is the same, that Marshal Blucher attempted to blow up on account of its name; but he only succeeded in changing its appellation, into that of Pont des Invalides. A new bridge having been lately constructed, near the Hotel des Invalides, and called by its name, this one received its present designation of Pont de l’Ecole Militaire. Off against it, in front of the Military School, is the famous Champ de Mars, which, although I 325 28(1)r 325 have seen it repeatedly, I have accidentally omitted to mention. It is a large, open piece of level ground, surrounded on three sides by sloping terraces, the fourth, as I have just noticed, opening upon the road, and the buildings of the Military School. The use to which the field is now applied is for horse-racing, reviews, and other shows and parades of the like description.
On the evening of the same day, that we visited Saint Cloud, we attended the theatre of M. Le Comte, where very young persons alone perform. These are generally the children of poor people, and are fed and clothed by the proprietor of the theatre, who receives the proceeds of their labors. They performed several little plays, adapted to their age, remarkably well, and one or two of the boys, particularly, manifested a good deal of theatrical talent. The theatre is a small, but pretty building, neatly fitted up with two rows of boxes. It is frequented, principally, by married ladies, who go for the purpose of taking their children, of whom large numbers, of all ages, may be seen every night, and who appear to take the greatest pleasure in the performances. One box, much more ornamented than the rest, is appropriated to the Dutchess of Berri, who occasionally attends, with her son and daughter.
The succeeding evening, (1930-04-28April twenty-eighth), we bade a final adieu to Paris, and, on my part at least, with the utmost regret, as I reflected 28 326 28(1)v 326 that in all probablity I should never behold it again. The hours, that I have spent in this charming city, have been very delightful to me, and the recollection of Paris will ever be accompanied with associations of the most pleasing nature.
We passed the barriere du Roule at about six o’clock, and soon afterwards reached the village of Neuilly, where is situated an elegant countryseat of the Duke of Orleans. The bridge, which crosses the Seine at this village, is highly celebrated for its beauty and for the solid manner in which it is constructed. The length of it is seven hundred and fifty feet, and it rests upon five arches, each of them one hundred and twenty feet wide and thirty in height.
From Neuilly, the road lay through Courbevoie to Bezon, where we changed horses. Owing to there being an opposition line of diligences, we had come at a most rapid rate from Paris to Bezon, and the time occupied here in changing the horses could scarcely have exceeded two minutes, when we were again en route. Leaving Corneille and Montigny a few rods to the right of the road, we continued onward, through Pontoise and Gisors, to Ecouis, and thence to Rouen.
Although we travelled a considerable part of the road by night, we had still several hours of daylight, the evening after leaving Paris, and several before arriving at Rouen the next morning, in 327 28(2)r 327 which every object was perfectly visible; and as the first dawn of light appeared, I was charmed with the beauty of the scenery around us, in the ancient province of Normandy. The number of small villages and hamlets, through which we passed, was very considerable, and the whole face of the country around them presented a constant variety of rich pastures, and the fields of grain, together with a great abundance of apple and pear trees, so seldom seen in other parts of France. Small, neat farm-houses, with each a little kitchen-garden attached to it, and often situated in the midst of a clump of trees, attracted my attention at every step, while all that I could see, appertaining to these humble dwellings, bespoke the thriftiness and comfortable living of industrious farmers. At eight o’clock we reached Rouen, and repaired to the Hotel de Normandie, whither some American friends of ours had gone, who left Paris the day before us.
Rouen.—Cathedral.—Saint Ouen.—Hotel de Ville.—Celebrated Missal.—Museum.—Palais de Justice.—Sainte Madelaine.— Pont de Bateaux.—Environs of Rouen.—Havre de Grace.— Basins.—New York Packets.—Departure from France.— Remarks on the French.
Soon after breakfast, we all walked out together, and first directed our course towards the Cathedral. This is a large, fine structure, in the gothic style of architecture; but extremely irregular in front, as is usually the case with churches of this description in France. All the ornaments sculptured upon it, however, are remarkably well executed, and many of them extremely delicate and beautiful. The chief nave has a grand and imposing effect, sustained by clustered columns of great height and beauty. Several ancient and very curious monuments are contained in this church, most of which have been much mutilated and injured. There is a sumptuous one of two Cardinals d’Amboise, uncle and nephew, and another, consisting of a number of figures, which was erected in memory of Louis de Breze, by his widow, the famous Diane de Poitiers, dutchess of Valentinois.
This church formerly contained several monuments, particularly interesting from their connection with the history of England. One of these enclosed the heart of Richard Cœur de Lion; 329 28(3)r 329 another was the tomb of Henry Second, King of England; a third, that of the great Duke of Bedford, brother of Henry Fifth: all which, together with the tomb of Charles Fifth of France, have disappeared. There still remains the monument of Rollo, the Norman conqueror, and of his son, Guillaume Longue-Epee, the second Duke of Normandy. Many other illustrious persons were also buried in this church.
A fine picture, by Philippe de Champagne, of the adoration of the shepherds, adorns the altar of the chapel of the Virgin. There are several other pictures, but none of them particularly good.
The front of the Cathedral is terminated, at the corners, by two lofty towers; and over the centre of the building formerly stood a pyramid, four hundred feet in height, that was destroyed not many years since by lightning. A new one is now going up in its place, which will be made of cast iron, and carried to even a greater height than the one destroyed. It is feared by many persons, that the weight of this enormous iron pyramid, when wholly completed, will be found too great for the building to sustain; and taking into consideration its great age, I should think much apprehension of such a result might be justly entertained.
The church of Saint Ouen, also of the gothic style, is an uncommonly beautiful edifice, much more graceful in its architecture than the Cathedral.28* 330 28(3)v 330 dral. The chief nave forms an unbroken line from the door of entrance to the choir. The clustered columns, that support the roof, are of the same construction with those in the Cathedral; but being considerably smaller, they have a more light and airy appearance, and are in better keeping with the other parts of the building. The painted glass windows are very handsome; and the light, admitted through them, being partially obscured, a deep shade is cast over the interior of the church, by no means unpleasing in its effect. The side naves are wholly destitute of chapels, which I consider a great defect, particularly as the walls are entirely without ornament of any description. A number of pictures, however, adorn the chapels in other parts of the church; but they are not possessed of any peculiar merit. Upon one of the columns, just beneath the organ, stands, as is usual in catholic churches, a basin of holy water, whose situation is such, that, in looking down into it, you see reflected the whole interior of the church, from the foot of the nave to the upper extremity of the choir, the effect of which is extremely beautiful, as well as curious.
Back of the church of Saint Ouen, is a very pleasant little garden, open to the public, called the Jardin de Saint Ouen, from whence a fine view is obtained of the church, and particularly of the delicate and graceful gothic lantern which 331 28(4)r 331 surmounts it, and which forms its most beautiful ornament.
The Hotel de Ville, which likewise faces upon the Jardin de Saint Ouen, consists chiefly of the buildings of the Benedictine Abbey, to which the church formerly belonged previous to the suppression of monasteries in France. Some improvements have been made to render the buildings better adapted to their present use. A very elegant spiral stair-case, constructed after the same principle with that of the Observatory at Paris, leads to the valuable public library and the Museum. Upon a table, in the centre of the library, is a very beautiful little model of the church of Saint Ouen, made of a kind of pasteboard, and executed with great neatness and ingenuity. It was the work of a poor barber’s boy, and occupied him for the period of two years.
There was likewise exhibited to us, a splendid illuminated missal, which cost a monk the labor of thirty years to produce. The pictures in it are most beautiful. Nothing can exceed the brilliancy and richness of the coloring, or of the gilt work, with which every page of the book is adorned. All the notes, as well as the words, used in chanting, are taken off in the neatest manner, and with all the clearness and exactness of printing. The man, who showed us this truly magnificent manuscript, told us that they had been offered its weight, which is seventy-three pounds, in gold; 332 28(4)v 332 and another offer, even greater still, was to give as many guineas, ten in a pile, as would cover the whole book, each leaf being composed of an entire skin. The book was, however, considered invaluable, and all offers for it were consequently refused.
The Museum consists of several contiguous apartments, hung with pictures, and containing some few statues, not very remarkable for their value. The pictures are much more interesting, and many of them are exceedingly fine. Of these are an Assumption of the Virgin, an Ecce-Homo, in which the face of the Savior is inimitably touching and benign; our Savior appearing to his disciples; Jesus and the woman of Samaria; œdipus and his daughter; and the Death of Cleopatra. In the last mentioned picture, the work of a modern French painter, the beautiful features of Cleopatra portray that peculiar serenity, that rapture of repose, which so frequently marks the human countenance immediately after death. Two female domestics are seen standing around her, the one gazing intently upon the face of her mistress, and the other clasping her feet. Several of the best pictures in the Museum purport to be productions of Raphael; but they are without doubt copies, or imitations of his style merely, though strikingly well executed.
Leaving the Hotel de Ville, we proceeded to the Palais de Justice, anciently the Parliament 333 28(5)r 333 House, commenced in the year 1499fourteen hundred and ninety-nine, and finished in 1506fifteen hundred six. It is a very large, gothic edifice, and is considered a fine specimen of its style of architecture. The court-yard is enclosed by a wall, and a flight of steps conducts from it to the Salle des Procureurs, a spacious hall, one hundred seventy feet in length, by fifty in breadth. Passing through the hall, we were shown the room where the assizes are held, and which was originally the Chamber of Parliament. Most of the rooms exhibited are more remarkable for their antique ornaments, than for any thing else. The wood-work, which forms the ceiling of the grand hall, represents the inside of the hull of a ship, reversed. The ceiling of another room had been richly painted by Jouvenet; but it has recently fallen in, and is now in a state of ruin.
The church of Sainte Madelaine, which we next saw, is a beautiful building of Grecian architecture; but chiefly remarkable for its constructtion, as it possesses few pictures or other ornaments of any consequence. The corinthian columns, that separate the three naves, and support the roof, are very fine, as well as those which decorate the edifice in front.
In walking from the church of Sainte Madelaine, towards the river, to view the bridge of boats, we passed through the Place de la Pucelle, where the unfortunate maid of Orleans was burnt 334 28(5)v 334 alive by the English in 1431fourteen hundred and thirty one. An ill executed statue of her stands in the centre of the place.
The Pont de Bateaux, so much celebrated at Rouen, is, in its construction, very similar to that at Seville. It rests upon nineteen boats, and may be opened at pleasure, for the passage of vessels. It may be, likewise, wholly removed, without injury, if any particular exigency require the unimpeded navigation of the river. A stone bridge has been recently thrown across the Seine, at Rouen, resting, at the centre, upon the small island of La Croix.
There is much appearance of bustle and activity observable in this ancient capital of Normandy, which is, in fact, the great seat of the cotton and woollen manufactures in France, and consequently possesses an extensive trade. Its general aspect is irregular and unprepossessing; but there are, nevertheless, several good looking streets, of comparatively modern construction; and the boulevards, planted with trees, afford broad and agreeable promenades. The situation of the place, and all its environs, without exception, are delightfully pleasant. The celebrated view, from the summit of Sainte Catherine’s Hill, in the near neighborhood, is said to be one of the finest, both as to extent and beauty, to be found in the country. The day that we were in Rouen being extremely warm, I did not venture to ascend 335 28(6)r 335 the hill; more particularly as nearly the same prospect, although not quite so extensive perhaps, was afforded us just before entering the city, in coming from Paris.
Upon making inquiries, as to the hours fixed for the diligence to start for Havre de Grace, we learned, much to our chagrin, that it would be necessary to ride again all night, or remain in Rouen another day. This latter expedient we could not adopt, as we might, by that means, lose the steam-boat, in which it was our intention to embark for England. We were therefore compelled to submit to another night’s watching, and took our places in the diligence accordingly, at nine o’clock in the evening. The first part of our journey was uncomfortable enough, owing to the heat and dust, which together were almost intolerable. But as morning approached the air became much cooler, and the beautiful groves of forest trees, that we frequently passed, produced a light, but most refreshing breeze. Great numbers of little thatched cottages were seen peeping out from amidst these groves, sometimes almost completely hidden by the bending branches of the trees. The varied beauties, which the country now afforded on every side, soon engrossed my attention, and rendered the remainder of the journey interesting and agreeable.
We reached Havre at about ten o’clock; passing through the suburb of Ingouville, much noted 336 28(6)v 336 as a great place of resort for the merchants of Havre, during the summer months. I need scarcely add, that my first care, upon reaching the hotel, was to make amends for past fatigues, by some hours of tranquil repose. Fortunately the steam-boat did not sail for Southampton until the next afternoon, so that we had ample time to recruit, and also to see the city, before it should be necessary to depart. The house, at which we lodged, was called the Hotel de New-York, situated upon the quay, where we had a very good view of a part of the harbor, and a considerable portion of the shipping.
The morning after we arrived, I took a walk out, to see the few objects deserving of notice, which Havre contains. The chief of these are the docks and quays, the latter well made and solidly built of stone, and the former consisting of several large basins, united together by canals, which are closed with lock-gates. By means of these the shipping is brought up into the very centre of the town, a circumstance extremely convenient for purposes of commerce.
A strange accident occurred here, a few days before our arrival, which was the wrecking of a fine large ship, from Rio Janeiro, loaded with hides and coffee. Owing to great carelessness, on the part of those, who had charge of her, she struck against the stone work of the lock or quay, and was immediately upset, just without the gate, 337 29(1)r 337 through which she was to pass from the river into the first or principal dock; so that, of course, all vessels were prevented from going in or out while she lay there. Crowds of people were constantly assembled on the quays and canal bridge, drawn thither by the spectacle; and indeed I have seldom witnessed a more singular sight, than that of a huge ship like this, after having braved the dangers of the stormy ocean, lying a perfect wreck, in a situation, which would seem, with ordinary care and attention, to have rendered such a catastrophe next to impossible. The packet ship Edward Quesnel, bound for New-York, and upon the eve of sailing, had the disagreeable prospect of being detained several days, by this unexpected obstacle, as the men, engaged in unloading the wreck, could only work at the ebb of the tide, and even then did it in so slow and lazy a manner, as would shame the same number of boys, possessed of any enterprising spirit.
We went on board the Edward Quesnel and the France, both superb ships, possessing every accommodation for the comfort and convenience of passengers, which could be desired. The France seemed rather the finest of the two, that is, her state-rooms were larger, and she was more elegantly fitted up; but comfort alone considered, the Edward Quesnel was quite equal to her. They are both handsomely carpeted, and furnished in every part, particularly the state-rooms, with 29 338 29(1)v 338 much taste and neatness. But after all, the greatest luxuries and elegancies, though they may partially mitigate, cannot banish, the sickness and wearisome sameness, attendant nupon a sea voyage.
Little else of Havre, than what I have already noticed, is in any degree remarkable.. The theatre and arsenal are rather handsome buildings; but the town, in general, is dull and uninteresting in the highest degree. Few places, that I have ever visited, have struck me more unpleasantly, than Havre, and I scarce know any thing, that would tempt me to make it a place of permanent abode.
In the afternoon, we embarked for England in the steam-boat Camilla, which soon put out to sea, and in a few hours afterwards, I took my last farewell look of the shores of France.
In reviewing the time that I have passed in this country, and the opportunities afforded me of becoming acquainted with the manners, character, and customs of the people, I find much to admire, and also something to censure. So far as the general appearance of nearly every part of France is considered;—its great natural beauty, and the state of high cultivation which the industry of its inhabitants has imparted to it,—the objects of deep and peculiar interest, which it contains,—its institutions, whether public or private, and the noble manner in which these are rendered useful. 339 29(2)r 339 to the rest of the world,—call forth and justly deserve the highest admiration, and the most unqualified praise. But with regard to the people, I cannot express myself in terms of equal approbation.
I will not say, as I have frequently heard it remarked by others, that the love of pleasure and amusement is the engrossing, all-absorbing passion of the French, that the pure principles of religion exercise no influence over their actions, or that the tranquil enjoyments of domestic life are totally unknown to them;—for this I do not believe, having myself met with instances sufficient to prove the contrary to my own satisfaction;—but it is evident to the slightest observation, that the love of pleasure is carried to far greater excess in France,—that religion exercises less influence there,—and that the marriage tie is much more frequently a matter of expediency between parents, without reference to the wishes or feelings of the parties most interested,—than in America.
That the French surpass every other people in point of politeness, is an opinion very generally entertained by all the world. This may, in a certain sense, be true; but it requires to be somewhat explained and qualified. With respect to the higher classes of society, a stranger sees them only as a visiter, and as such, I am far from intimating, that the remark does not hold true, as 340 29(2)v 340 to them, in the strictest sense. I may even go farther and say, that genuine politeness and good breeding characterize them, as far as my own observation extends, in a remarkable degree. But as it regards the great body of persons, with whom a traveller comes in contact, the superiority of politeness is rather in manners, than in feeling. A Frenchman will be more obsequious, more polite, undoubtedly, in manner; but I have not found that he is particularly ready to make a sacrifice of his own personal convenience to that of his neighbor. In many instances I have found it far otherwise. Thus at public exhibitions, in the streets, at the theatre, in public coaches, I have not seen that deference and attention paid to the comfort and convenience of others, which I have always noticed at home; but have more than once observed even gross breaches of good breeding committed with the most courteous air imaginable.
But while I thus call to mind the defects, which I have perceived in the French character, let me not forget their better qualities; but remember that, with all their faults, they are temperate, industrious, frugal, and honest, and that they have not been found wanting in fortitude and courage, when these manly virtues have been called into exercise. Peculiar vivacity of manners and conversation, and a great quickness of repartee, almost universally distinguish the females of 341 29(3)r 341 France in a remarkable degree. Even the uneducated are seldom at a loss for subjects of conversation, and are ever ready to give an apt and shrewd answer to any jesting or raillery, that may be addressed to them. In a well educated French lady, these traits are indeed delightful, and render her one of the most agreeable and entertaining companions in the world.
They atone too, in a great measure, for the absence of personal beauty, so very apparent in Parisian ladies particularly. The number of strikingly handsome faces, that I saw in Paris, was wonderfully small, and no large proportion of them could even be called pretty. But still, from the surpassing taste, which she displays in all articles of dress, a French lady always looks well, always had an air of gentility about her, let the materials of her dress be what they may. Nor is this observation confined to ladies alone. The young shop girls, the milliners, the mantuamakers, and the persons of that class, are equally remarkable for the perfect neatness, taste, and propriety, with which they are clad. Thus although beautiful faces are rarely seen in Paris, it is quite as uncommon to meet with an ill dressed or vulgar looking female, whatever may be her rank or situation in life.
Another trait, that characterizes French women, is the facility with which they engage in the active pursuits and employments, which, with us 29* 342 29(3)v 342 at least, entirely devolve upon the other sex. I have frequently been led to make this remark, with regard to labouring people; but it will also apply to persons of better condition. Not only do you see women taking an active part, sometimes the chief command, in extensive mercantile establishments, or very large public hotels; but you will also find ladies of the most elevated rank, perfectly capable of undertaking the entire management of their husband’s business, even of the most intricate nature, upon the occasion of his illness, absence, or death. This is certainly an argument in favor of their intellectual properties, and is one great proof, among others, that the female sex is not naturally incapacitated for exertions of the kind in question, when habit and the usages of society lead them to follow such pursuits.
End of France