A TOUR THROUGH SOME PARTS OF FRANCE, SWITZERLAND, SAVOY, GERMANY AND BELGIUM, DURING THE SUMMER AND AUTUMN OF 1814.
BY THE HON. RICHARD BOYLE BERNARD, M.P.
Majora minorane famae! HOR. Say are they less or greater than report!
PRINTED FOR LONGMAN, HURST, REES, ORME, AND BROWN. PATER NOSTER-ROW;
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HARVARD AND FARLEY, Skinner Street, London
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TO HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS THE PRINCE REGENT.
Permit me to offer my most respectful thanks to Your Royal Highness, for the honor you have conferred upon me, by permitting the following pages to be inscribed to Your Royal Highness.
I beg at the same time to express my congratulations to Your Royal Highness on the late glorious events, which have distinguished Your Royal Highness's Government, which have restored to England the blessings of universal Peace, and will render the present aera ever memorable in History.
I have the Honor to be, With the highest Respect, Sir, Your Royal Highness's Obliged and most obedient Servant,
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Had the following Pages required the exertion either of superior judgment, or of abstruse research, the Author is not sufficiently vain to have submitted them to the notice of the Public.
They are therefore not recommended to the perusal of the critical reader; as in fact, they contain merely the hasty observations suggested by the scenes he visited in the course of his Tour, together with a few occasional remarks, which he thought might be acceptable to the generality of readers: since notwithstanding the late increase of travellers, the numbers are still very great, who, being prevented by business, or deterred by the inconveniences of travelling, from visiting the Continent, might be disposed to pardon some inaccuracies, should they meet with a small portion either of amusement or information.
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CHAP. I. PAGE
Introduction—On the opening of the Continent—Departure from London—Arrival in France—Different appearance of Things-Large Bonnets—Custom House and Passports—Of Travelling in France—French Dinners—Abbeville—Beauvais—Vines—Chantilly; its ruined Appearance—St. Denis and its Abbey 1
Of the Approach to Paris—General Appearance of that City—Its Bridges—Is inferior in Comfort to London—Settled at an Hotel—Population of Paris—Its Markets—Badly supplied with Water—Of its various Divisions and their Inhabitants—Palais Royal—Gamblers—Police—English Papers—Rule to find one's Way through Paris—The Tuilleries—The Louvre—Plans of Improvement 19
Visit to the Gallery of The Louvre and Museum—To the Luxemburg—To the Royal Library—To the Palais des Beaux Arts—To the Church of Notre Dame—To the Pantheon—Protestant Church and Congregation—Of the Number of English in Paris—Column in the Place Vendome—Gobelin Manufactory—Post Office—Botanic Garden—Lady and her Dog—Story of Dr. Moore—Of the Character of the Parisians—Their Loquacity—Of the Legislative Body—Heat of the Weather—Champs Elysees—Quarter of St. Antoine—Of the Revolution—Of the Boulevards—Of the Restaurateurs—Of Ladies frequenting Coffee-houses, &c. 39
The Invalides—Elevation of different Buildings—Buonaparte desirous of Eclat—Champ de Mars—Place de Grenelle—Of the Plan of General Mallet and his Execution—Visit to the Museum of French Monuments—Infidelity of its Promoters—Of Colbert—Gardens of Tivoli—Great Numbers of Military Officers in Public Places—Of the Capture of Paris by the Allies—View of Paris from Montmartre—Vanity of the French—Their Love of Novelty—The Emperor Alexander's Entry into Paris—Of the Establishment of M. Delacroix—At the Tuilleries—Of the King—His Regard for England—France still unsettled—Advice of Galba to Piso—Curious Glass Stair Case—Of the French Theatres, and their Italian Opera—Number of Bureau d'Ecrivains. 61
Visit to the Royal Palaces—St. Cloud—St. Cyr—Malmaison—Versailles—Its Formality—Accuracy of Pope's Description of the Old Style of Decoration—Comparison of Windsor and Versailles—City of Versailles greatly reduced—Trianon—Sevres—Porcelain Manufactory—Barrier of Passy—Of the Harvest—Castle of Vincennes—Few private Carriages at Paris—Great Numbers of Fiacres and Cabriolets—Attend at the Foreign Office for Passports to leave Paris—Arrive at Fontainebleau—Memorable for the Abdication of Buonaparte—Reflections on the Captivity and Character of the Pope—Reflections on Buonaparte—At Montereau; Battle near the Town—Sens—Auxerre—Description of the French Diligence—Dinners, &c. 79
At Avalon—Public Promenades—Number of Beggars—Villages and Country Houses more numerous in Vine than in Corn Countries-Farming in this District—Land Tax and Customs of Descent—Dijon—A large and handsome City—Its Public Buildings—Company in the Diligence increased by the Arrival of two French Officers—Their Political Opinions—Advantage of the Diligence—Arrival at Dole—Battle near Auxonne—Genlis—Poligny—Vin d'Arbois—Woods but without Birds—Moray—English Breakfast—Resemblance to North Wales—Magnificent View of the Lake of Geneva—Excellent Roads made by Buonaparte—Visit to Ferney—Description of Geneva—View from its Cathedral—Its Manufactures—Population—Territory—Determination to visit the Alps; and not to go into Italy 100
Departure for Chamouny—Bonneville—Valley of Cluse—Cascade d'Arpennas—St. Martin—Extravagant Bill—Proceed on Mules—Their astonishing Safety—River Arve—Pont de Chevres—Cascade of Chede—Extravagance of English Travellers very prejudicial—Lake of Chede—Servoy and its Mines—Visited by the Empress Maria Louisa—Glaciers des Bossons—Definition of Glacier—Of the Valley and Village of Chamouny—Guides—Politics of the Savoyards—State of Taxation—Ascent of Montanvert—Magnificent and awful Spectacle of the Mer de Glace—Height of various Mountains, compared with Mont Blanc—Simile from Pope—Return to Chamouny—Larch and Fir mixed on these vast Mountains—Their Productions—The Valley continually threatened with Avalanches 119
Leave Chamouny—Delightful Situation of Valorsine—Festival there—Of the Savoyard Peasants—Anecdote from M. de Saussure—Country difficult to travel through—Trient—Magnificent View from the Fourcle—The French not so much disliked in the Valais as their Cruelty deserved—Castle of la Rathia—Martigny—Unsuccessful Attempt of two English Gentlemen to ascend Mont Blanc—Less adventurous, we did not ascend Mount St. Bernard—Cascade of the Pisse Vache—Number of Idiots and Goitrous Persons in the Valais—Opinion of Mr. Coxe on the Subject—Opinion of M. de Saussure—St. Maurice—Its strong Position—Roman Bridge and Antiquities—Passports demanded here—Different Colour of the Rhone here and at Geneva. 139
Bex—Industry of the Inhabitants of this Country—Their Cottages and Wandering Lives—Salt Springs—Aigle—Growth of Corn—Villeneuve—Agitated State of the Lake—Labours of the Inhabitants often destroyed by the Fall of Rocks—Chillon—Clarens—Vevay—Magnificent View from its Church—Of General Ludlow—Lausanne—Its singular Situation—Its Antiquity—Its Cathedral—View from the Church-yard—Population and Manufactures—French Manners prevail here—Gibbon—Pope Felix V. a singular Character—Reformation—Morges—Festivity there—Rolle—Its Spa—Country Seats—Delightful Scene from the Garden of its Castle in the Evening—Nyon—Chateau de Pranqui—Joseph Buonaparte—Vines—Swiss Artillery—Copet—Anecdote of Md^e. de Stael—Versoi—Return to Geneva 156
On the Introduction of History into Tours—Early Government of Geneva—Reformation—Alliance with Berne and Zurich—A few Laws peculiar to Geneva—Theatre—Town Hall—Permission obtained to reside at Geneva—Lodging procured in Consequence—Fortifications of Geneva not devoid of Utility—Views from the Ramparts—Maintenance of the Allied Troops very expensive to Geneva—Regret of the Genevese at the Destruction of some ancient Avenues by them—Meet a Person who gives a melancholy Account of the State of Geneva under the French—State of Society—Fete de Navigation—Dress, &c.—Epigram by a Prince of Hesse—Rousseau—Voltaire—Raynal—Remarks of a Savoyard Peasant—The College of Geneva—The Library—Of Calvin—Water Works—Society of Arts—Corn Magazine—Churches, Service, &c. at Geneva. 184
Excursion to the Perte du Rhone—Magnificent Spectacle which it affords—Rise of the Rhone—Hop Gardens—Malt Liquor badly made—Climate of Geneva—Of Switzerland in general—Opinion of Haller—Soil, Grain, and Population of Switzerland—Quantities of Cattle—Various Plants—Visit to a Watchmaker's Warehouse—Its elevated Situation—Great Ingenuity, but want of what in England would be thought good Taste—Circles of Genevese—Introduced to a French Gentleman who bad twice escaped the Guillotine—Walks and Rides—Junction of the Rhone and Arve—Coligny—Carrouge—St. Julian—Battle there—Inferiority of the Austrian Troops to the French—French Politics—Empress Maria Louisa—Lord Castlereagh at Geneva 193
Regret at leaving Geneva—Lake of Joux—Coponex—Robbers—Lassera—Curious Separation of a Rivulet—-Orbe—Face of the Country—Price of Land—Yverdun—Sea View—Spa—School—Anecdote of a Conductor—Game—Bridge of Serrier—Neufchatel, said to resemble Naples—Description of its Territory—Anecdote respecting the Religion of Landeron—David Riri—Sketch of the History of Neufchatel—Competitors for its Sovereignty—Lake of Bienne—Island of St. Pierre—Singular Government of Bienne—Great Change on passing the Pont de Thiel—Charge of Rapacity against the Swiss—Pleasant Travelling—Extensive View from Julemont—Agriculture—Arberg 205
Morat—famous for Kirschwasser—Monument commemorating the Defeat of the Burgundians removed by the French—Its Inscription—Seedorf—View of the Island of St. Pierre—Beauty of the distant View of Berne—Its Interior also handsome—Its Fortifications—Stags and Bears kept in the Trenches—Public Library—Botanic Garden—Chemists' and Bakers' Shops—Convicts chained in the Streets—Beautiful Public Walks—Government of Berne—Opinion of Pope—Excursions to Hofwyl and Hindelbanck—Extent of the Canton of Berne—Its Population, Productions, &c. &c—State of the Clergy—Departure from Berne—Village of Worb—Saw Mill—Bleach Greens—Care which the Swiss take of their Horses—Sumiswald—Little Wooden Inn—Zell—Castle of Haptalla—Irrigation—Beautiful Situation of Lucerne—Its Melancholy Interior—General Pfiffer's Model—Beautiful Lake—Mount Pilate and Rigi—Visit two Classic Spots—And the Small Canton—Gersau—Intolerance—Lake and Canton of Zug—Swiss Honey—Magnificent View of Zurich, described by Zimmerman—Considerations on the Difference between the Swiss Cantons, &c 222
Zurich—Its Interior not answerable to its distant Appearance—Population, Buildings, &c.—Dinner at the Table d'Hote—Excursion on the Lake—Country and Villages near Zurich—Winter there—Cascade of Lauffen—Its magnificent Effect—Cyder—Bad Vintage—Schaffhausen—Its Bridge—Population—Laws—Manufactures, &c.—View of Mount Banken—Chapsigre Cheese—Swiss Tea—Set out in the Diligence with a Doctor of Leipzig—His uncommon Love of Smoking—Civility, Dress, &c. of the Germans—Deutlingen—Pass the Danube—Taste of the Germans for Music, preferable to the political Arguments of the French—Passports—Subdivisions of Germany—Trade—Posts well conducted—Accident at Bahlingen—House of Hohenzollern 242
Tubingen—Its University—Different from ours—Agree to post to Frankfort—Of German Posting, and Dinners—Feather-beds—Stoves—Stutgard—A handsome City—Palace, its Decorations—Industry of the Queen—Council Chamber—Royal Stables—Garrison composed handsome Troops—Palace at Ludwigsburg—Waggons and Traffic on the road—Heilbron—Escape from being overturned—Sinzheim—Cossaok arrives there—Heidelberg—Its Castle—Venerable in Ruins—The Inn—Rich Country—Quantity of Potatoes—Manheim—Regularly built, but much deserted—The Palace in Decay—Walks—Darmstadt—Unfurnished and ill situated—Palace—Handsome Gardens—Frankfort a Magnificent City—Inns—Opulence of its Merchants—Population—Jews—Gates and Fortifications—Cassino—Villas—Orchards—Hochst—Inscription— Hochheim—Rhiagau Wines—Mayence—Its Strength—Handsome only at a Distance—Its Bridge—Cathedral—Population—Exportation of Corn—Large Cabbage 258
Embark on the Rhine—Political Rhapsodies of two Frenchmen—Beautiful Scenery—Gulph of Bingerlock—Blighted state of the Vines—Most distressing to the Inhabitants—Boppart—'God Save the King'—Bonfires—Size of Paris and London—St. Goar—Coblentz—Royal Saxon Guards—Ruins of Ehrenbreitstein—Andernach—The Devil's House—Lowdersdorf—Linz—Bonn—Illuminations, Balls, &c.—End of the Picturesque Scenery—Boat driven on Shore—Walk to Cologne—A vast and gloomy City—Simile of Dr. Johnson's—Few Country Houses on the Rhine—Rubens—His excellence as a Painter and his great Modesty—Juliers—Aix la Chapelle—Its Antiquity—Waters—Pleasant Situation—Population not equal to its Estent—Burscheid—Manufactures of Cloth, &c.—Cathedral—Sunday ill observed—Liege—A large and extremely dirty City—Booksellers—Cutlery—Distress of the Manufacturers—Thieves—Bad Money—Expeditions Public Carriage—Axiom of Rousseau—St. Tron—Chimes—Tirlemont, its much reduced Manufactures 278
Population of the Netherlands—Louvain—Its Public Buildings—University—Character of the Belgians—By some represented as the worst in Europe—That Statement probably overcharged—Extortion—John Bull at Paris—French Kitchens, &c.—Breweries—Roads—Taste in Gardening—Canals not an agreeable mode of Travelling—Heavy Taxes—Unsettled Political State—Vast Numbers of English at Brussels—Its Extent, Population and Appearance—The Park—Anecdote of Peter the Great—Town House—Churches—Collections of Paintings—Anecdote of Bassano—Hotels—Table d'Hote, like the Tables at Cheltenham—Expence of Living—Houses—Jurourin—Forest of Sogne—House of Correction compared with ours—Walk round the City—Fortified Towns—Sieges of Ostend, Valenciennes, Troy and Azotus—Malines—Considerations on its Decline—Its Silk—Population—Buildings—Manner of cutting the Trees near the Roads—Antwerp, its Importance—Docks—River—Riches of Belgium—Buildings at Antwerp—Accuracy of the Flemish Painters—Appearance of the Country—The Inns not equally decorated with those in Germany—Wooden Shoes 296
Ghent—Its great Size—Decreased in Populalation and Consequence—Charles V.—D'Arteville—Canals—Trade—Buildings-Prison—Land and Water Travelling—Ostend and Bruges—Derivation of Bourse—Noisy and Silent Travellers—Proficiency of Foreigners in English—Taste in Bonnets—Sportsmen without Game—Courtray—Dogs Drawing—Boundary Stone of France—Custom House—Passports, Danger of being without—Lille—Fortified by Vauban—Population—Buildings—Theatre—Society—OEconomical Residence-Remarkable View from Cassel—Berg—Fens—Canals—Dunkirk—First Impressions—The Origin of its Name—Buildings and Population—Flemish Language—Of the Union of Belgium with France—Political Consideration—Dunkirk sold by Charles II.—Lord Clarendon's House so called—Its Fortifications demolished—Gravelines—-Its strong Situation—Liberty and Equality—Cheap Travelling—Calais the last English Possession in France—Contrary Winds—French Officers displeased at the Theatre—General Jealousy of England—Embark on board a French Packet—Loquacity of the French—Arrival in England—Its Superiority to other Countries 317
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A TOUR THROUGH SOME PARTS OF FRANCE, SWITZERLAND, &c. &c.
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I had long been desirous of visiting the Continent, but the long continuance of the war, and the little prospect which lately appeared of its termination, seemed to afford no chance for the accomplishment of my wish. At a period, however, when that arbitrary power, which had so long held in subjection the other nations of the Continent, sought to overthrow the only monarch who dared to oppose it, and to claim for his subjects the natural rights from which they had been excluded by the "Continental System," it pleased Divine Providence to destroy the fetters which enslaved the nations of Europe, as if to try, whether in the school of adversity, they had learned to merit the blessings of independence. These great and glorious changes, the reality of which it was at first difficult to believe, having opened to the subjects and commerce of Britain, countries from which they had been for so many successive years proscribed, it was not long before numbers of British repaired to the continent to indulge that love of roving for which they had been always distinguished (and which a long war had suppressed but not eradicated) and to claim from all true patriots, in the countries they visited, that friendly reception to which the long perseverance and vast sacrifices of England, during a struggle unexampled in history, had so justly entitled the lowest of her subjects.
The unsettled state in which most part of the Continent necessarily remained for a little time after the entrance of the Allies into Paris, did not afford the most favourable moment for the journey of one who was not a military traveller; and I did not regret that business prevented my leaving England for a few months after the opening of the Continent, as I had the gratification of being a witness, in the British metropolis, to the exultation of all ranks of men; first, at seeing the legitimate monarch of France arrive there in company with our illustrious Regent who having long contributed to lessen the afflictions of the exiled Count de Lille, had first the satisfaction (to which he, amongst all the sovereigns of Europe, was best entitled, by the great part, which under his government, England had performed for the cause of European liberty) of saluting him as King of France, amidst the cheers of applauding thousands; and, secondly, of witnessing the arrival of the magnanimous Alexander, of that too long unfortunate monarch, Frederick William, of those chiefs, Platoff and Blucher, whose exploits have ranked them amongst the first of heroes, and, at last, of seeing, in the person of a Wellington, a British marshal who had successively foiled the most renowned of the generals of Buonaparte, and who, like Turenne, was accustomed "to fight without anger, to conquer without ambition, and to triumph without vanity."
About the middle of July I left London and proceeded to Dover, a journey which, in the improved state of our roads and of our conveyances, is easily performed in one day; and often as I had before travelled the Kent road, yet I could not see without surprise, the astonishing number of public and private carriages with which it abounds, and which must have doubtless much increased within the last few months. I became acquainted on the road with a French Abbe, who, accompanied by his sister, was returning home after an absence of twenty-two years, which he had spent mostly in England, but he could by no means express himself intelligibly in English. I therefore addressed him in his own language, which pleased him extremely, and I found him an amusing companion, as well as very grateful for some little services I rendered him in arranging with the coachman respecting his baggage and that of his sister, as they took the whole of their property to France with them, including many household articles which I should not have thought worth the expence of carriage. We supped in the same apartment at Dover, but they had brought their provisions with them, which as I afterwards found was sometimes the practice in France, either from motives of comfort or economy. Such travellers, however, would not be much wished for at an English inn.
Next morning my first business was to attend at the custom-house; and the officers, after a diligent search, finding nothing illegal amongst my baggage, permitted me to purchase a sufferance for it to be embarked for France. The rest of the passengers having likewise arranged their affairs and obtained sufferances, we proceeded on board the packet, and found that it was extremely full without this last reinforcement; but I doubt whether the captain way of that opinion. I found the charge for the passage amounted to one guinea, which is the sum paid for the passage between Dublin and Holyhead, although that is nearly three times the extent of the channel between Dover and Calais. I was informed that the seeming disproportion in those prices was to be attributed to the heavy post dues at Calais, which, for so small a vessel as the packet, amounted to L14 or L15, although in the year 1793 they did not exceed eighteen shillings.
Amongst the passengers was a Swiss gentleman, who I found passed for a man of great importance amongst the sailors. His carriage perhaps contributed not a little to this, as it had once been the property of the duke of Northumberland; and although the arms were defaced, yet the coronet, the garter, and the gilding with which it was still decorated, no doubt contributed to increase the expences of a journey which, from its length, is a heavy tax on the pockets of the generality of travellers, however plain may be their equipage.
We were above two hours on board before it was possible to extricate our vessel from the great number of transports (I believe not less than thirty-two) which crowded the harbour, being engaged for some time in bringing home a large portion of our cavalry, who added to the military glory they had acquired in Spain and Portugal, by their forbearance in tolerating insults to which they were but too often exposed in their passage through France, by a people whose vanity forbids them to admire valour, except in Frenchmen, but whose conduct on those occasions served only to increase the obligations which they had in so many instances experienced from the humanity which always attends on British valour.
If we had to regret the delay we experienced in getting out to sea, that sentiment soon vanished before the favourable breeze which, in about four hours, brought us to the French coast. As the day was hazy, we had not long to admire the venerable castle of Dover, and the cliff which Shakspeare has celebrated; and some time elapsed before we could distinguish the shores of France, which differ entirely from those of England, rising gradually from the water's edge, with the single exception of Scales Cliff, which seems to correspond with some of those bulwarks which characterize our coast from Dover to Portland, where, I think, chalk cliffs are succeeded by masses of rock and grey stone.
The tide being out on our arrival before Calais, we could not get into the harbour, and with that impatience to leave a ship, which is natural to landsmen, we were glad to accept the offers of some boats which hastened around the packet, to offer their services in landing us; this, however, they did not exactly perform, being too large to get very near the shore, to which we were each of us carried by three Frenchmen, one to each leg, and a third behind. This service I had often had performed by one of my fellow-subjects, and it seemed to verify the old saying, that 'one Englishman is equal to three Frenchmen.'
Each Monsieur however insisted on a shilling for his services, and the boatmen five shillings from every passenger. But I had travelled enough to know, that extortion on such occasions is so general, as not to be peculiarly the characteristic of the inhabitants of any country, and if ever there is pleasure in being cheated, it is surely on such an occasion as that of exchanging the misery of a ship for the comforts of the most indifferent inn.
The arrival for the first time in a foreign country, of a person who has never before quitted his own, is an epoch of considerable moment in his life. Most things are different from those he has been accustomed to, and the force of first impressions is then stronger than, perhaps, at almost any other period. We are, in general, not much disposed to like any custom, or mode of dress, which is greatly at variance with what we have been long used to, and the enormous height of the bonnets in France produces, in my opinion, an effect far from pleasing; the ladies, by their strange costume, out-top many of the military.
I found the town of Calais in a state of equal bustle with Dover, and from the same cause. It is regularly fortified, and contains many very good houses. The population is estimated at between seven and eight thousand. The market-place forms a spacious square. The town-house and church are handsome buildings, and altogether it must be allowed much to surpass Dover as to appearance.
The search which ray portmanteau had undergone the day before in England, was here renewed by the officers of the French Douane, but with no better success on the part of the officers in being able to seize any thing. They were, however, very polite, and their fees only amounted to half a crown. My next care was, to attend at the town-hall, and present my passport to the inspection of the mayor, who indorsed it with his licence for me to proceed to Paris.
I accordingly determined on setting out without further delay, and joined an acquaintance in hiring a cabriolet for the journey, to obviate the trouble of changing our luggage at every post, and to avoid any delay that might arise from not finding a carriage at every station, which is by no means certain, as in England. We found the Cabriolet a very pleasant conveyance, it is nearly as light as a curricle, and has a head and windows, which exclude rain. It is drawn by two or three horses, and proceeds at a tolerably good pace. The postilions are provided with boots of a very inconvenient size, and with whips which they are perpetually cracking, not much to the comfort of the ears of their passengers.
Those who have never seen any thing but an English stage-coach, cannot but feel some surprise at the different appearance which a French Diligence presents. Most of them carry nine inside passengers, and three in the cabriolet, and as much luggage behind, and in the Imperial, as would load a tolerably large waggon. They are generally drawn by four horses, which present a very different appearance from those under the English carnages, and they are driven by one postilion, who rides the wheel-horse. Occasionally, a second postilion and two more leaders are necessary from the weight of the carriage, or the heaviness of the roads. Carriages in France, in passing each other, take exactly different sides of the road from what they are obliged to do by our laws of travelling.
The country, for many leagues round Calais reminded me very strongly of Cambridgeshire in its general appearance, being flat, well cultivated, unenclosed, and abounding in wind-mills. About the villages there are some trees and enclosures; but a few more church spires are wanting to complete the resemblance. The distance from Calais to Paris is about 180 English miles, and may generally be considered as a flat country, occasionally diversified by a few hills of no great magnitude. Enclosures are rarely seen, but the quantity of corn is quite astonishing. Agriculture appeared to me to be in a highly improved state: there are artificial grasses and meliorating crops. The appearance of the villages in general on this road is but little inferior to those in many parts of England. But the peasants, although not for the most part badly off, have no idea of that neatness, and of those domestic comforts which form the great characteristic of the same class of people in England.
An English farmer would laugh at the great cocked hat which is usually worn by the French husbandman, and would not be disposed to change his white frock for the blue one used on the Continent. Some wood is occasionally to be seen; but Picardy is not famous either for the quantity or quality of its timber. The general fuel of the lower orders is turf, which, however, is not in any great quantity; and in appearance it is inferior to that used by the Irish peasants. The roads are in general kept in good repair, and near Paris and some other great towns they are paved in the centre. They are flanked in many places by avenues of trees, which are for the most part cut with great formality; but even where left to themselves, they do not add much to the ornament of the country or to the comfort of the traveller, affording but a scanty shade.
The whole of this road is without turnpikes; they were, as I understood, abolished about three years ago, and the roads are now managed by the government. The French praise Buonaparte extremely for his attention to the state of their roads, and it must be owned that in this particular he merits the praise bestowed on him, which cannot be said with truth of many other parts of his conduct which seem to have been also approved of by the French. Buonaparte, it is true, made excellent roads, but he made them only for his soldiers, either to awe those who had submitted to his yoke, or to afford a facility of extending still further his conquests.
The drivers in France do not tax themselves at every public-house as with us, for porter or spirits, which they do not want; they seldom stop, unless the stage is unusually long, and their horses require a little rest.
Before we were admitted within the gates of Boulogne our passports were demanded, and underwent a strict examination, probably the remains of the etiquette established by Buonaparte, this place being chiefly remarkable as the port, from whence he proposed making his threatened descent into England. We observed a vast unfinished fort, which he had ordered to be constructed; it will probably never be completed, but crumble to pieces like the vast and ill-acquired authority of its founder. The town of Boulogne is large and well fortified, but the bustle in the port was chiefly occasioned by the embarkation of the English cavalry.
We dined at Samers, and there had the first specimen of a French dinner (as at Calais we had lodged at an hotel, which is kept by an Englishman, and where every thing was a l'Angloise). The general hour for dining is twelve o'clock; many public carriages stop to dine before that hour, however, from twelve to one o'clock, the traveller is sure at every tolerable inn of finding a very abundant and cheap repast. We found the bread excellent, as also a profusion of fruit; the wine of Picardy is bad, but good wine may be had from the southern provinces, at a reasonable price.
Their meats are so much stewed, that their real flavour can hardly be distinguished, but were they dressed by a mode of cookery that did them more justice, I do not apprehend the epicure would have to find fault with their quality.
The next place which presented any thing worthy of remark, was Abbeville, a large fortified city, which has manufactures of cloth and damask. The church which has suffered much during the anarchy of the revolution, is still a large and handsome edifice. We proceeded to breakfast at Boix, where the coffee was excellent, and the milk was served up boiled, as is generally the custom throughout France.
We also found good accommodation at Beauvais, a large and ancient city, where the architecture of the houses reminded me much of Shrewsbury. The streets are narrow and winding. The cathedral is well worthy the attention of the antiquarian, although it has, like many others in France, suffered greatly during the revolution. In the neighbourhood of Beauvais are a vast number of vineyards, and the effect produced by them is very striking to those who have never seen a vine but in a stove. But the novelty soon ceases, and a vineyard is then seen with as little astonishment as a field of corn.
We were easily persuaded to make a short deviation from the direct road, in order to visit Chantilly, the once splendid residence of the Princes of Conde, but which now affords a melancholy contrast to the scene which it exhibited in more tranquil times. The Great Chateau has disappeared; but a small building remains at a distance, which is to be fitted up for the reception of its venerable owner, who is expected in the course of the summer to pay a visit to the inheritance which the late happy revolution has restored to him, after having undergone a sad change in its appearance. The great stables are standing, but only serve to add to the desolation of the scene by their vacancy, and the contrast which they form to the small house which now only remains to the possessor of this great domain.—St. Denis, where we soon arrived, is a small town not far distant from Paris; it was anciently remarkable for its abbey, which contained the magnificent tombs of the Kings of France. These were mostly destroyed early in the revolution (but a few still remain, in the museum of monuments at Paris, as I afterwards found) when the promoters endeavoured to obliterate all traces of royalty: but when after a long series of convulsions, Buonaparte thought his dynasty had been firmly established on the throne of the Bourbons, he decreed that this abbey should be restored as the burying place of the monarchs of France; and it is probable that decree will be carried into effect, although not in the sense which its promulgator intended.
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The approach to Paris is certainly very striking, but considering the vast extent of the city, its environs do not present an appearance of any thing like that bustle and activity which marks the vicinity of the British metropolis: nor do the villas which are to the north of Paris display that aspect of opulence which distinguishes those streets of villas by which London is encompassed. The gate of St. Denis, under which we passed, is a fine piece of architecture; it stands at the end of a long and narrow street, which is but ill calculated to impress a stranger with those ideas of the magnificence of Paris of which the French are perpetually boasting, although it conducts him nearly to the centre of the city. I afterwards found that this is the most crowded quarter of the city; the houses are from six to eight stories in height, and are almost universally built of stone.—But although it must be admitted that this entrance to Paris is one of the least distinguished, yet at the same time it must be observed, that there are but very few streets in that city which have much to boast of in point of appearance; they are mostly narrow, and the height of the houses necessarily makes them gloomy. They are (except in one or two new streets at the extremity of the town) extremely incommodious for pedestrians, there being here no place set apart for them as in London; hence they traverse the streets in perpetual dread of being run over by some of those numerous carriages which are continually passing along with an impetus which raises just apprehensions in the mind of the foot passenger, that he may share the fate of Doctor Slop, if nothing more serious should befall him; as in avoiding the carriages it is no easy task to keep clear of the kennel, which is in the centre of the street; the descent to it is rapid, and it is rarely dry even in the warmest weather.
It is when seen from one of the bridges, that Paris appears to most advantage, as many of the quays are unquestionably very handsome, and decorated with many elegant edifices. The Seine is in no part so much as half the width of the Thames, in some places not a fourth part, as it forms two islands, on one of which stands the original city of Paris. Its waters are united at the Pont Neuf, on which stands the statue of Henry IV. looking towards the Louvre, which he founded. The view from this bridge is without comparison the most striking in Paris, and is perhaps unequalled in any city, for the great number of royal and public edifices which are seen from it; and inconsiderable as is the Seine compared with many other rivers, yet nothing has been neglected to render its banks striking to the passenger.—Many of the bridges (of which I think there are altogether 16) are handsome, particularly those of Austerlitz and of Jena, constructed by order of Buonaparte. There is one bridge, the arches of which are of iron, opposite the gallery of the Louvre, which is open only to foot passengers, each person paying two sous for the privilege of being admitted on this promenade, which is often much crowded with company. Very soon after my arrival at Paris I came to this conclusion, that although Paris far exceeds London, Dublin, or Edinburgh, in the splendour of its public buildings, and often in the handsome appearance of many of its houses, yet those cities are far preferable in point of all essential comforts. And after spending a considerable time in Paris, I saw no reason to change the opinion which I had first formed; that opinion however cannot, I should apprehend, be questioned by a Frenchman, as it admits fully the magnificence of many parts of his favourite city, and this is sufficient for his vanity. With us cleanliness and comfort are preferred to shew, we find them in most of our own cities, but those who know most of Paris will not deny that they are rarely to be met with there.
I had been recommended to the Hotel de Pondicherry, by a gentleman who had for some time lodged there; but I found there were no vacant apartments. After making application in vain at many of the hotels in the Rue de Richelieu, I at last succeeded in meeting with good accommodation in the Hotel des Prouvaires, which was in a convenient situation, and had the advantage of having been lately painted. I found the people of the house very civil and attentive, and produced my passport from the Secretary of States' Office, signed by Lord Castlereagh, to satisfy them that I was no avanturier, a very numerous class here. The expence I found differed but little from, that of most of the hotels in London; but the French hotels are in fact more what we should call lodging-houses, as they do not supply dinners, &c. which must be procured from a restaurateur's, of which there are a vast number; and I have heard it stated, that there are no less than 2500 coffee-houses in Paris.
The population of Paris is stated by Marchant, in the last edition of his Guide to Paris at 580,000; the number of houses is estimated to be 29,400; this would give an average of nearly twenty persons to each house. This I do not consider as too great a proportion to allow, if we consider the vast number of hotels that can contain at least double that number of persons; and that in many parts of the town each story is occupied (as in Edinburgh) by a separate family.
The population of Paris has undoubtedly decreased since the revolution; Dutens, who published his Itinerary about thirty years ago, tells us, at that period the inhabitants of Paris amounted to 650,000: but even supposing him to have over-rated them, still there remains a great disparity in the two calculations, and it is reasonable to conclude, that the present statement by Marchant is accurate, from the facilities which the system of police affords in forming a just calculation on the subject.
Paris, including all its suburbs, is said to be about eight leagues in circumference, and, except London and Constantinople, exceeds all the other cities of Europe in extent.
The markets of Paris are remarkably well supplied with provisions of every description, and at a price which appears moderate to an Englishman. I have been told, that fuel is sometimes at a very high price in the winter; but not being there at that season, I cannot speak from my own experience. What I had most reason to complain of during my stay, was scarcity of that great essential to health and cleanliness, good water. The city is for the most part supplied with this first of necessaries from the river Seine. Adjoining to one of the bridges is a vast machine, which raises its waters, which are conducted to all parts of the town, and also supply several public fountains. They have, however, an extremely bad taste from the numerous establishments for washing for all Paris, which are established in boats on all parts of the river, which is thus strongly impregnated with soap-suds, and its cathartic qualities have been experienced by many strangers on their first arrival in Paris.
The French never drink this water without mixing in it a proportion of sugar, and then call it eau sucre, which is often called for at the coffee-houses. Most houses have reservoirs of sand for filtering the water before it is used for drinking; but those who have been accustomed to the luxury of good water, cannot be soon reconciled to that of the Seine. The water of the Ville d'Arblay is sold in jars in the streets for making tea, and some of the fountains are supplied by springs. I believe the late government had a scheme in contemplation for the construction of an aqueduct, to supply purer water for the Parisians than what they now use.
Many fountains have been established within the last few years, and the site of that once formidable building the Bastile is now occupied by one. None of these modern fountains (although many of them display much taste) are, however, by any means to be compared, in point of elegance, to that which stands in the market of Innocents, and which was erected in the year 1550. Its situation is too confined for so handsome a structure, and I had some difficulty in finding my way to it. It has the following inscription from the pen of M. Santeuil, (who has furnished many others, particularly that on the fountain near the Luxemburg Palace:)
Quos duro cernis simulatos marmore fructus Hujus Nympha loci credidit esse suos.
Which may be thus translated,
The fruits you see on this cold marble hewn, This Fountain's Nymph believes to be her own.
The Guide to Paris informs us, that the city is divided into several quarters; that the vicinity of the Palais Royal, of the Thuilleries, and of the Chaussee d'Antin, are the most fashionable, and of course the most expensive; but that lodgings are to be met with on reasonable terms in parts of the city, which are fully as desirable, particularly in the suburb of St. Germain. There are furnished hotels to be met with on a large scale in that quarter, it having been mostly inhabited by foreign princes and ambassadors; and it was also much frequented by English families, as they considered it the most healthy and quiet part of Paris.
The Quarter du Marais was principally occupied by lawyers, financiers, annuitants; and, in short, all the Jews of the nation lodged there.
The Quarter of the Palais Royal is chiefly inhabited by sharpers, cheats, loungers, and idle people of all descriptions. Who could think that a space of ground not exceeding 150 acres, contains more heterogeneous materials blended together than are to be found in the 9910 acres (the French acre is one and a quarter, English measure) on which the city of Paris stands? It is the great mart of pleasure, of curiosity, and of corruption; and if the police wish to apprehend an offender, it is in the Palais Royal that they are sure to find him. Before the period of the revolution there were here but two public gaming houses; but at present the number is really astonishing. The police under Buonaparte did not discourage their increase; they argued that these houses were the rendezvous of all sharpers, villains, and conspirators; and that they often saved an ineffectual search for them in other quarters. A government like that of Buonaparte did not reflect, that these houses, which thus abounded with desperate characters, did not fail to perpetuate their number by the corruption which they caused in the principles of the rising generation; and many of the best informed Frenchmen are well aware that it will be the work of time, to recover their country from the demoralized state in which it was left after the government of Buonaparte.
On the subject of gaming a French writer has justly observed: "Quand il serait vrai que la passion du jeu ne finit pas toujours par le crime, toujours est il constant qu'elle finit par l'infortune et le deshonneur." "Granting it to be true, that the love of gaming does not always terminate in crime, yet still it invariably ends in misfortune and dishonour." But is it not rather improbable that those who have so far transgressed as to apprehend the vigilance of the police, should venture into the very places where they must be aware of immediate detection?
Perhaps the same argument holds in Paris as in London, against totally suppressing the haunts of these depredators on society, That if there were no thieves there would be no thief-takers; and the police are content to keep within moderate bounds, a set of men who often contribute to their emolument, and whom they fear to exterminate. It must, however, be allowed, that in all large towns, however great may be the vigilance of the police, there still must be abundance of the followers of Macheath. Perhaps Paris most abounds in sharpers who cheat with finesse, and London in the number of pick-pockets and robbers. The nightly police of Paris is admirably conducted; and during my stay there I never experienced the smallest molestation in the streets.
The Palais Royal consists of six squares, the chief of which is large and handsomely built on piazzas. There are rows of trees in the centre, but they by no means contribute to its beauty.
The shops under these arcades are many of them the most shewy in Paris; and, as the owners pay a heavy rent for them, they take care to enhance the price of their goods, so as not to carry on a losing concern. The number of coffee-houses and restaurateurs for dining, in this square are very numerous, and most of them are by no means moderate in their prices, at least when we compare them with others in a different part of Paris, or even near the Palais Royal; but it is not under these piazzas that economy is to be practised. The Cafe de Foi is one of the most celebrated for newspapers and politicians; but one is considered as having seen nothing of the manners of the place, if the Cafe des Aveugles is not visited. This is situated under the Italian Coffee-house, and has its name from the large orchestra which performs here continually, being composed wholly of blind persons. I visited this place with a friend for a few moments after its opening, which is never till five o'clock in the afternoon, as its frequenters tolerate only the light of candles.
The subterranean situation of this apartment renders it difficult of ventilation; and the noise of the musicians and their audience contending for the supremacy, added to the extraordinary heat of the place and the density of the air, occasioned us to make a speedy retreat to what, after leaving such a place, might be considered as a pure atmosphere.
Often as the Palais Royal has been described, and forcibly as the scenes which it exhibits have been depicted, yet I confess I do not think the descriptions I have read of it by any means overcharged; and it may be safely affirmed that there is no place in the world where the scene varies so often in the twenty-four hours as it does here. I was attracted by a notice, that the English newspapers were taken in at the Cabinet Litteraire of M. Rosa; and, having paid my subscription, was conducted into a spacious reading room, exclusively for the English papers. The love of news is at all times natural; but at a distance from home the mind is doubly anxious for the details of what is going on there, and attaches an interest to particulars which, under other circumstances, it would consider as too trivial to be worthy of attention. During my stay on the Continent, I felt very forcibly the truth of Dr. Johnson's observation, "that it is difficult to conceive how man can exist without a newspaper." I was, however, for a considerable time, forced to be satisfied with the French papers, the expence of the English being so great, as to cause them to be seldom taken in abroad; and after my departure from Paris, I saw no English paper until my arrival at Frankfort, an interval of above two months.
If the pedestrian is exposed to many inconveniences and dangers in the streets of Paris, yet intricate as they often are, he is seldom in danger of going far out of his way, if he attends to the manner in which the names of the streets are coloured, those leading to the river being lettered in black, and those parallel to, or not leading directly to it, in red. The quays form the most prominent feature in Paris, and when arrived there, he can experience little difficulty in finding the road he desires. The mode of numbering the houses in Paris differs from that used with us, all the odd numbers being on one aide the street, and the even numbers on the other.
After having seen the Palais Royal, my attention was next attracted by the Palace of the Tuilleries (so called from the circumstance of tiles having been formerly made on the spot where it stands). This is a vast and magnificent building, extending in front next the gardens 168 toises (about 1050 feet English measure). The gardens were laid out by Le Noitre, and exhibit a specimen of the taste of that time, abounding in statues, avenues, and water-works; but it must at the same time be admitted, that the general effect produced is not devoid of magnificence, which is heightened by the communication between these gardens and the Champs Elysees, which forms a vista of great length, and when illuminated, the coup d'oeil must be really superb. On the side of the gardens next the river, is a terrace considerably elevated, which commands a view well deserving the praise which has been bestowed on it. This was the usual promenade of Buonaparte, who caused a subterranean communication to be formed between it and the Palace, to avoid passing through those parts of the garden which were open to the public, who, during his promenade, were excluded from the terrace. The Parisians did not like this exclusion, and used to say, on seeing his Majesty, "See, the lion is come out of his den." This terrace was also the constant walk of the ex-Empress and her son. I was told, that shortly after Buonaparte's installation as Emperor, the people, to mark their disapprobation of the dignity which he had assumed, entirely deserted the gardens of this palace, which had always been their favourite walk in the evenings; and that, being hurt at this, the Emperor ordered one of his military bands to play here every evening. The scheme succeeded; the attraction being too great for the Parisians to resist, and the gardens were more frequented than ever.
The other front of the Tuilleries looks towards the Place du Carousel, from which it is separated by a lofty iron balustrade, the top of which is gilt. Opposite the centre entrance of the Palace stands a magnificent triumphal arch, erected by Buonaparte, on the top of which he has placed the four celebrated bronze horses, which were removed to Paris on the seizure of Venice by his army, as they had been formerly transported by conquest from Corinth to Constantinople, and thence to Venice, where they adorned for several centuries the Place of St. Mark. These horses are conducted by two figures of Victory, and Peace, executed by M. Sencot, which many admire extremely.
Buonaparte has been no bad locumtenens of this palace for the Bourbons, as it bears abundant testimony to the taste with which he caused it to be decorated. He had the entire of the Louvre scratched, so as to give it quite a new appearance, and his crown and initials are everywhere to be seen. On the grand facade was an inscription, signifying, "that Napoleon the Great had completed what Henry the Fourth had begun;" but this inscription has disappeared, since the return of the descendants of Henry IV. to the palace which that great king had built, and which an usurper endeavoured to persuade posterity he had a share in constructing. It is worthy of remark, that this chef d'oeuvre of architecture, as if has always been considered, was not the work of a professed architect, but of M. Perrault, a physician. The word Louvre is, by some, derived from the Saxon Louvar, signifying a castle.
Buonaparte's plans for the further improvement of this palace were on the most extensive scale imaginable, as he intended to remove all the buildings situated between the Louvre and the Tuilleries; and some idea of the extent of the proposed area may be formed, when it is considered that, in its present state, the place du Carousel is sufficiently capacious to admit of 15,000 men being drawn up there in battle array. Whilst I remained at Paris, a considerable number of workmen were engaged in carrying on these improvements, but it is probable, from the exhausted state in which the projector of these undertakings has left the finances of France, that it will be many years before it will be possible to complete them.
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If the stranger at Paris is struck by the magnificent appearance which the exterior of the Louvre presents, he cannot fail of being delighted with an inspection of the contents of its invaluable Museum. This, like nearly all the museums and libraries in Paris, is open to every individual, except on the days appropriated for study, when only artists are admitted; but even then, a stranger, whose stay is limited, may be admitted on producing his passport, a regulation which is highly commendable for its liberality; and at none of these repositories are the attendants permitted to lay any contributions on the visitants. The gallery of the Louvre was built by Henry IV. to join that palace with the Tuilleries, from which it was formerly separated, by the walls which surrounded Paris. This vast gallery is two hundred toises in length (not a great deal short of a quarter of an English mile); the collection of works of art here in without any parallel, as in this place are assembled most of the finest paintings and statues in the world, which the most indifferent must survey with admiration. But at the same time, it is impossible not to feel a portion of regret at the causes which have robbed Italy of those monuments, which its inhabitants so well knew how to appreciate, and for many of which they entertained a religious veneration, as the ornaments of their churches.
The French, as far as I am able to judge, do not (in general) possess any such feeling of sensibility, and merely value these chefs d'oeuvre because their merit is allowed to be incontestable, and because their vanity is flattered, in seeing them thus collected by their victories as an additional attraction for strangers to visit their capital.
But Italy, although thus despoiled of so many of her ornaments, will still have many and great attractions for the man of taste; her buildings exhibit the finest specimens of art that are any where remaining; and those possessed of a classic genius will always behold with delight the scenes celebrated by a Horace or a Virgil. The paintings in this gallery exceed 1200 in number; they are divided into three classes, the first contains the French school, the second the German, and the third the Italian. Catalogues and descriptions of the paintings may be had at the doors. I often visited this gallery, and always with increased admiration. I shall not attempt to enter into any details as to the respective excellence of the different paintings. Volumes have been written on the subject, and my testimony could add nothing to excellence which is acknowledged by all—by those who have not seen, on the reports of those who have visited this splendid assemblage, who, having seen, have not failed to admire, and to give currency to their admiration. The following lines on Raphael, will be readily admitted as just by those who have seen some of his sublime pictures:
Hic ille est Raphael, timuit quo sospite vinci, Rerum magna parens, et moriente mori.
Here Raphael lies, who could with nature vie, To him she feared to yield, with him to die.
Although I thought my admiration had been so largely called forth by the pictures I had just visited, as to have been almost exhausted, yet the distinguished excellence of the statues did not fail to rekindle it; and indeed it is impossible it should have been otherwise, when surrounded by such admirable specimens of art.—The number bears its due proportion to that of the pictures, and the same reasons which induced me to say little of them, will prevent my dilating on the excellence of the statues—
Et la meilleure chose, on la gate souvent. Pour la vouloir outrer, et pousser trop avant.
I must, however, observe, that here are assembled the three finest statues in the world, the Laocoon, the Venus de Clomene, from the collection of the Medici family, and the Apollo Belvidere, which was found amongst the ruins of Antrum, about the end of the 15th century; and eveu in imagining the most perfect nature, it is difficult to form an idea of such perfection as is here exhibited; but much as I admired the Apollo, I was yet more delighted by contemplating the excellence displayed in the graceful figure of the Venus.
The gallery of paintings at the palace of the Luxemburg (which is now called the palace of the Peers of France, as they sit at present in the hall, formerly occupied by Buonaparte's Conservative Senate) although vastly inferior to that at the Louvre, both as to the number, and value of the collection it contains; yet it is well worthy the attention of the stranger, and the circumstance of its not being too crowded is favourable to the visitant, whose attention is not so much divided here as by the attractions of the greater collection, where he is often at a loss which way he shall turn. Here are statues of Bacchus and Ariadne. The gallery of Rubens contains twenty-one pictures by that great master, representing the history of Mary of Medicis; it also contains his Judgment of Paris. The gallery of Vernet contains a series of views of the principal sea-ports of France, by that painter, and also Poussin's picture of the Adoration of the Magi. Here are also two celebrated pictures by that great modern painter, David—Brutus after having condemned his Son, and the Oath of the Horatii, which appeared to me worthy of the favourable report I had before heard of them.
This palace has a spacious and handsome garden; the front of Queen's College, Oxford, is an imitation on a reduced scale of its facade to the street.
After the paintings, I next inquired after the Libraries which Paris contains; these are very numerous, but as I had so much to see, I contented myself with visiting the two principal ones, first, the royal library, Rue Richelieu. This contains the library of Petrarch, which alone would render it an object of curiosity. Here are also the globes of the Jesuit Coronelli, which are upwards of thirty-four feet in circumference. The Cabinet of Antiquities contains the collection of Count Caylus. The number of printed volumes is stated to amount to 350,000. The manuscripts are not less than 72,000. Here is also a vast and very valuable collection of medals, and about 5000 engravings. All persons are permitted to read here from ten until two o'clock.
The second Library which I visited was one which formerly belonged to that celebrated Minister, Cardinal Mazarin, and is now in the Palais des Beaux Arts, on the opposite side of the river from the Louvre. This collection consists of 60,000 volumes, amongst which are many works of great value.
If the traveller sees much to interest him, and much to admire during the course of his tour, it is natural that he should occasionally meet with disappointment; and I must confess that in the Metropolitan Church of Notre Dame, I saw little worthy of that praise which is lavished on it by the French; it is only venerable from its antiquity, being one of the most ancient Christian churches in Europe.—In point of architecture, and the general appearance of the exterior, it yields to any of the cathedrals, and to very many of the parish churches in England. The interior is mean in the extreme (the High Altar only excepted;) the body of the church being entirely filled up with the commonest rush bottomed chairs, and not kept in any tolerable order. But the most splendid church in Paris is unquestionably that of St. Sulpice, which is also one of the most striking buildings in the metropolis, notwithstanding the dissimilitude of the two towers of its grand Western front.
The Pantheon is not very different as to its general appearance from the last mentioned church. This edifice has cost already vast sums, but is not considered as completed. I saw during my stay at Paris most of the churches which it contains, and was in general disappointed with their appearance. The church of St. Roque is the handsomest after that of St. Sulpice. There is a Protestant church in the Rue St. Honore, called L'Oratoire. Bossuet said of this congregation, "It is a body where all obey, and where no one commands."—Adjoining to this church is a very small chapel, where since the peace the service has been performed according to the form of the church of England. I attended here the Sunday after my arrival in Paris, and found the congregation consisted of about 40 persons, and at first sight one could not have supposed they were all British subjects, so completely had the ladies adopted the great hat, and the other peculiarities of the French ton.
Still one sees in the streets and public places several who do not desire to be thought French subjects, and who persist in wearing the much-abused habits of their own country.
There have been many disputes respecting the number of English actually in Paris; I have no doubt it has been extremely exaggerated. I saw, at my bankers, Messrs. Perregeaux & Co. a list of all those who had credit with them, which was less considerable by half at least than report had stated.
In the Place Vendome stands a truly magnificent column (copied from that of Trajan at Rome) to commemorate the victories of Buonaparte, and his army in Germany. The execution of the bas reliefs reflects credit on the state of sculpture in France, and cannot fail to claim the approbation of the beholder.
On the top of the column stood a colossal statue of Buonaparte; this, like the other statues of that modern Sejanus, has disappeared since the downfall of his empire, and the return of the ancient dynasty has caused to be placed on its summit the white flag, formerly so much venerated by the French.
I set out at an early hour to go over the celebrated Gobelin manufactory in the Rue Mouffetard, the proprietor of which is extremely civil to strangers, and permits them to see his premises from ten till one o'clock, and they are well worthy of attention. The name of this manufactory is derived from its founder Gille Gobelin, originally from Rheims, who settled here in 1450.—I was also the same day much pleased with surveying the Stereotype press of that famous printer Didot, whose editions of various authors are in such esteem amongst judges of the art.
In the Place des Victoires, I observed an enormous statue of General Dessaix, on the site formerly occupied by one of Lewis XIV. (I have been informed, that about two months after my departure from Paris, this statue has been removed to a foundery, where by fusion, it may perhaps assume the appearance of a Bourbon.)—The Great Bureau of the Post, where only foreign letters can be franked, that is postpaid by those who send them (without which they are not forwarded) is in the Rue J.J. Rousseau, whose name was given to this street, from his having for some time occupied an attic story in it.
The Botanic Garden (Jardin des Plantes) being open to the public only on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and its situation being at the farthest extremity of Paris from my hotel, I set out as early as possible to view it with the attention it deserved. It is on a very great scale, and contains about 7000 plants, arranged according to the scientific method of M. Jussieu. The Library I did not see, but the Museum and the Menagerie are on the most extensive scale, and accounts have been published of their curiosities.—Being fatigued with seeing the Lions, I sat down to rest for a short time on a vacant seat in the garden; but presently two elderly ladies came to the same place, and lamented in the most expressive terms the loss of a favourite dog; the lady who had lost it, said it was the only consolation she had, that it was absolutely necessary to love something, and that she felt most miserable at her loss.
This concern for the loss of a dog appeared to me much more natural, than the delight with which some virtuosos, whom I observed in the Museum, contemplated many of the specimens preserved there. The French have a great latitude of expression, being naturally an extremely lively people; but certainly not so much so as formerly. I recollect some years ago being much amused by an anecdote, related by the late Dr. Moore, in his "View of the State of Society and Manners in France, Italy, and Germany." The Doctor was informed by a French gentleman of his acquaintance, with that vivacity which distinguishes his nation, that he had just then received a final dismissal from a lady, who had for some time appeared to favour his addresses, and that he was absolutely in despair. Dr. Moore, who, from the vivacity of his friend's manners, had no idea that any thing had happened that seriously distressed him, answered, that he thought him the merriest person he had ever seen in such a situation. The other immediately replied, "but you English have such an idea of despair!"
The various revolutions of the last twenty-five years have doubtless contributed, in no small degree, to diminish much of that gaiety, which formerly distinguished the French from most other nations, and which formed one of their chief characteristics.
Under the late government reserve was positively necessary, so numerous were the emissaries of the police, and so anxious were they to report the most trifling circumstances to their employer, that they might convince him how very necessary they were to the furtherance of his government. In those unhappy times every man mistrusted his neighbour, fearing he might be concerned in one of the eighteen police establishments supported by the mistrust of the emperor in the affections of his subjects. The Conscription Laws, and the right which Buonaparte assumed of disposing in marriage all ladies possessed of a certain income, as a measure of rewarding the services of his officers, and which violated the closest connexions and best interests of society; together with his system of forced loans, which entirely destroyed the rights of private property, did not leave his subjects many incitements to mirth—although it was dangerous to appear dejected. "The Voyage Descriptif et Philosophique de Paris, par L—— P——," contains the following remarks, the truth of which renders them interesting, and I shall therefore translate them, for the information of those who may chance to peruse these pages. The author observes, "An air of inquietude has succeeded that openness and sociability, which so much distinguished the French. Their serious air announces that most people are considering the amount of their debts, and are always put to expedients. One guesses, that in a company of thirty at least twenty-four are revolving the means of acquiring wealth; and notwithstanding twenty are without it." I shall quote in conclusion what the same writer says of the Parisian, and which strikes me as a correct statement. "The Parisian is in general tolerably indifferent as to his political situation; he is never wholly enslaved, never free. He repels cannon by puns, and links together power and despotism by witty epigrams. He quickly forgets the misfortunes of the preceding day; he keeps no diary of grievances, and one might say, he has sufficient confidence in himself not to dread too absolute a despotism. It is to be hoped, that the happy restoration of the Bourbons will restore to the Parisian his gaiety, and that Louis XVIII. the legitimate father of the French, will cause all former political convulsions to be forgotten."
The Parisians are distinguished by their loquacity. Having occasion to employ a hair-cutter, I was quite stunned by his volubility of tongue. King Archelaus would find it difficult to be suited here; for being asked how he would have his hair cut, he answered—"silently."
After many ineffectual attempts, I at last succeeded in satisfying my curiosity by seeing the assembly of the Legislative Body. The building is one of the greatest ornaments of which Paris can boast; it was chiefly the work of Buonaparte, who was satisfied to lodge these gentlemen in a palace, provided they did not interfere in the government of their country. I was not gratified in proportion to the trouble I had in getting into the hall, by the short and uninteresting debate which ensued. This House was occupied during the greatest part of my stay in Paris in discussing the forms proper to be observed when the king meets the peers and commons.
The deputies object, that the king should himself desire the peers to be seated, and that they should only receive that permission through the medium of the chancellor: how the point has been decided, I have not been since informed.
The weather was intensely hot during part of my stay at Paris, the quicksilver being occasionally at 26 deg. Reaumur, equal to 90 deg. of Fahrenheit's scale, and the sky without a cloud, there not being, in general, such a cloud of smoke over Paris as generally obscures the atmosphere of London. Yet, I believe, the best accounts allow that London is to the full as healthy a city as Paris, and if cleanliness is conducive to health the point can admit of little doubt. During part of this oppressive weather, I used generally to resort, about mid-day, to the gallery of the Louvre, being anxious to take every opportunity of contemplating its superb collection of the works of art. There, notwithstanding the number of visitors, the marble floors and ventilators rendered the air much more cool than it was out of doors. I generally set out on my rambles through the city at as early an hour as custom would permit, and in the evening, often joined the pedestrians in the gardens of the Tuilleries, which were always thronged with company of all descriptions. There are a vast number of chairs under the trees, and their proprietors demand one or two sous for the right of sitting in them. I have been assured that this inconsiderable charge procures a total by no means contemptible.
I sometimes extended my walk into the Champs Elysees, which extend a long way beyond the Place de Louis XV. Its avenues are lighted like the streets of Paris, by lanthorns, suspended across them by ropes and pulleys, which give a stronger light than our lamps, but do not seem equally secure. At the end of the centre avenue, which runs in a straight line from the grand entrance to the Tuilleries, Buonaparte had lately begun a triumphal arch to commemorate the victories of his armies; and still further, exactly opposite the bridge of Jena, he caused a vast number of houses to be destroyed, to make way for a projected palace for the King of Rome. The foundations only of this edifice had been laid before the overthrow of Buonaparte, and this large plot of ground now presents a scene of waste and desolation.
The present government, which will not prosecute so expensive and useless an undertaking, will still have to make compensation to the owners of the buildings of which only the ruins remain.
The quarter of St. Antoine is celebrated in the annals of the Revolution; and, indeed, there are but few parts of Paris, which do not recall to one's mind some of those scenes so disgraceful to humanity of which it was the great theatre. The Place Royale in this district is only remarkable, for having been built by Henry IV.: it forms a square with a small garden in the centre, but has long ceased to be a fashionable residence. In Paris there are no squares similar in plan to those in London, but occasionally one sees places formed by the junction of streets, &c. The town-house is a large, and as I think, a tasteless Gothic edifice; and in the Place de Greve stood that guillotine which deprived such incredible multitudes of their lives. At one period of the Revolution every successful faction in turn, endeavoured, as it should seem, to exterminate its enemies, when it succeeded in possessing itself of the supreme power, which then chiefly consisted in the command of this formidable instrument; and these successive tyrants, like Sylla, were often in doubt whom they should permit still to remain alive.
I do not know that the invention of the guillotine, is to be ascribed to the ingenuity of the French, but they will for ever remain obnoxious to the charge of the most dreadful abuse of it. I have heard it stated that, so late as the reigns of Elizabeth, and James the First, an instrument similar to the guillotine, was used for the execution of offenders in the vicinity of Hardwicke Forest, in Yorkshire.
The Boulevards are now merely very spacious streets, with avenues of trees at the sides, but formerly they were the boundaries of the city. They form a fashionable promenade for the Parisians, and abound with horsemen and carriages more than any other quarter of the town. Along the Boulevard Poissonnier are some of the handsomest houses in Paris. I dined with a family in one of them which commands a very cheerful scene. There are here, as in the Palais Royal, a vast number of coffee-houses, billiard-tables, and restaurateurs. The price of a dinner differs little from what is usually paid in London, but bread is about half the price, and there is a great saving in the charge for wine, with this additional advantage, that it is generally of much better quality than can be met with in London for double the price; as the heavy duties on importing French wines necessarily induces their adulteration. A stranger to French manners, is surprised at seeing ladies of respectability frequenting coffee-houses and taverns, which they do as matter of course;—so powerful are the habits in which we have been educated.
After the Boulevards, the Rue Royale and the Rue de Rivoli are the handsomest in Paris. The last named is far from being completed, and runs in a line, facing the gardens of the Tuilleries; in these two streets there is a division to protect foot passengers, but they are not flagged.
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The Royal Hotel of the Invalids, is one of the principal establishments in Paris, which claims the attention of the stranger, and I accordingly went to view it with a party of friends. The principal court has just resumed the title of Royal, but we could easily distinguish that it had been a few months since dignified by that of Imperial. Indeed, all over Paris, this change is very perceptible. The last letters are often in the old gilding, and the first part of the style only altered, as the French do not, in general, like to do more than is necessary, and but seldom condemn a house, but continue to patch it up in some manner, so as to make it last a little longer, which accounts for the appearance of antiquity which generally distinguishes their towns.
But to return to the Invalids. The establishment is said to be calculated to accommodate 5000 men; but we found upon inquiry, that the number then actually maintained did not exceed 3600. As it was their dinner hour, we went into their refectory; each man has a pint of the vin ordinaire, (the general price of which is from ten to twenty sous the bottle;) but I doubt whether it would be received as a substitute for malt liquor either at Chelsea or Kilmainham. The church of this establishment, is one of the most splendid in the capital. The ex-Emperor caused monuments to be erected here to Vauban and Turenne. The latter, by a special mark of the favour of Lewis XIV. had been interred in the royal vault at St. Denis; but his remains now rest here; and the monument is worthy of so distinguished a general. That to Vauban, on the opposite side, is by no means equally elegant.
The elevation of the dome of this church, exceeds that of any other building in Paris; and the French boast, that it rises to a greater height than St. Paul's Cathedral in London; but this I do not think is the case, although the point is of little moment. M. Dutens gives us the following scale of the comparative elevation of some of the highest buildings in the world.
The highest Pyramid 771/2
Strasburg Cathedral to the top of the vane 713/4
St. Peter's at Rome, to the summit of the cross 68
Church of the Invalids at Paris to the vane 54
St. Paul's Cathedral, London, to the top of the Cross 53
The interior of the dome of the Invalids is handsomely painted; but the exterior exhibits what I must consider as a very misplaced species of decoration for a place of this nature, being completely gilt, pursuant to an order of Buonaparte, dated, as I have been informed by good authority, from Moscow. This decoration has, as can well be supposed, cost vast sums, but it probably obtained for the ex-Emperor that eclat, by which he constantly sought to please the vanity of the Parisians. Many of his decrees for the embellishment of their city, being dated from Vienna, Berlin, and Madrid, he sought to astonish the multitude, by attempting to accomplish in a few years, what it would in general require an age to effect. Perhaps, calculating on the instability of his power, he hastened the construction of whatever might render it famous. A French writer observes, "Il vouloit courir a cheval a la posterite."
Near the Invalids there is a Military School for 500 children; and near the Champ de Mars are two large barracks. Indeed, Paris abounds with them, as the military power has long been predominant in France. The Champ de Mars is only celebrated in the history of the Revolution; its present appearance is by no means interesting. In this vicinity is the Place de Grenelle, famous for being the spot where military executions used to take place. One of the last victims who perished here, was the unfortunate General Mallet, who whilst the oppressor of his country was still contemplating the devastation which he had occasioned in Russia, sought to deliver France from so galling a yoke; and he is said to have been possessed of many of the qualities necessary for so honourable and arduous an undertaking; but the reign of Buonaparte was still to continue for eighteen months longer; and he who had the resolution to attempt, had not the satisfaction of seeing, its subversion. In his way to the place of execution, being assailed by a hired mob with cries of 'Vive l'Empereur,' "yes, yes!" said the General, "cry "long live the Emperor" if you please, but you will only be happy when he is no more." He would not suffer his eyes to be covered; and displayed in his last moments a fortitude, that will cause his memory to be long revered by the enemies of despotic power.
The Museum of French Monuments is one of the numerous institutions produced by the Revolution. This place contains a collection of those tombs which escaped the fury of a Revolution that at once proscribed both royalty and religion. They were deposited here as models of art, which did honour to the republic, by proving the genius of its statuaries and sculptors, (the works being classed according to the centuries in which they were made;) and as the busts of the most celebrated and declared enemies of Christianity, are every-where interspersed, the design seems obviously to have been to inculcate the principles which they inculcated; if, indeed, they acted upon any principle, each fearing to acknowledge the superiority of the other. To doubt was their criterion of wisdom (but although Hume said, that even when he doubted, he was in doubt whether he doubted or not, he does not appear to have once doubted that he was wrong in his attacks on religion,) and they only united in ridiculing that belief in a Supreme Being, which has been received, as it were instinctively, by all nations, however savage, and which has been the consolation of the best and wisest of mankind.
Any believer in religion, or any one who has not by perverted reasoning, brought his mind really to doubt its divine truths, (for men are but too apt to admit even the arguments of absurdity, when they tend to absolve them from duties, which they would avoid,) cannot but experience a sentiment of regret at this violation of the ancient consecrated burial places, (where the contemplation of these emblems of mortality was calculated to inspire a beneficial awe;) and of sorrow, that as religion is by law restored in France, these monuments, many of which have been taken from the royal burying place of St. Denis, should not be replaced in the churches from which they were taken in those calamitous times.
I here saw the tomb of Cardinal Richelieu, which was originally in the college of the Sorbonne. It is the work of the celebrated Gerardin, and is a fine piece of sculpture. Many of the other monuments are very elegant; but it would be tedious to enter into further details.
In walking through the Rue Colbert, a French gentleman of my acquaintance pointed out to me the house in which Louvois had resided, and declared his opinion, that that minister had proved one of the greatest causes of the ruin of France; he followed up his assertion by a declamation of such length, that I shall not attempt to collect his arguments, but leave my readers to come to their own conclusions on the subject.
I had intended visiting those vast catacombs which extend under a great part of Paris, and which now serve as burial places, but was induced to desist from the undertaking by the advice of a person who had made the experiment, and had suffered much more from the state of the air in those caverns, than he had been gratified by the curiosity of the scene. I was in the evening induced to visit a scene of a very different nature, and accompanied a party to the Gardens of Tivoli, in the Rue Lazare. This was, before the Revolution, the property of M. Boutin, formerly treasurer of the marine, who had spared no expense in it's decoration. The extent is about fourteen acres, and it much resembles Vauxhall.
The vast proportion which the military officers bear in all companies, and in all the public places here, cannot fail to be remarked by a stranger, and proves the success of the ex-Emperor, in his endeavours to render the French merely a military people. Under the old regime, no military uniforms were permitted to be worn in public places; but at present such a regulation would be quite impracticable. At present the military take a great lead in society, which has, perhaps, suffered more than is generally thought by the civil commotions of the state.
Wishing to be able to form some idea of the military events which led to the capture of Paris, I went by the gate of St. Martin to the other places which were connected with those memorable operations. It was on the 30th of March, 1814, that the allied armies, consisting of nearly 200,000 men, attacked the heights of Bellevue, St. Chaumont, and Montmartre; the cannonade continued from six in the morning until half past three o'clock in the afternoon, and after a bloody combat in the plains of Villette, where they were opposed by 30,000 French troops, a suspension of arms was signed a little after five o'clock. The next day about noon, the Emperor of Russia and King of Prussia entered Paris by the barrier of Villette, at the head of 50,000 men. A French writer remarks, that Montmartre is rendered famous by the gallant-stand made there by a small body of French troops against the whole of the allied army. The French cannot bring themselves to allow that their nation has the worst in any contest. They are now, however, sensible that they have been defeated, which no doubt conduces greatly to their present ill humour. Vanity is their domineering passion, and this Buonaparte always contrived to flatter so successfully, by concealing unwelcome truths, and exaggerating success, that he is still regretted by a large number of persons, who hate the present government for the openness of their conduct, as 'after being so long accustomed to the fabulous histories with which they were amused by their late ruler, they have a contempt for that candour which informs them of their actual situation, and which would excite the approbation of a nation possessed of a less degree of vanity. A great love of novelty is also very conspicuous in the French character. I think it was Frederic the Great, who observed in writing to d'Alembert, 'that to please the French, they should have every two years a new king.'
From the heights of Montmartre, a vast and magnificent panorama is presented to the view. Nearly the whole of Paris is seen from thence, and a great extent of country terminated by distant mountains. Those who wish to have a good general idea of Paris, should not fail to ascend this eminence. In point of size, Paris does not appear to me to be more than half the extent of London, when seen from Hampstead or Greenwich. It was from this situation that the Emperor Alexander first surveyed Paris, and he probably was struck with the shewy appearance of the gilded dome of the Invalids, but perhaps was uninformed that it was from the Kremlin, and whilst surrounded by the flames of Moscow, that Buonaparte, gave orders for the commencement of this new and extravagant decoration to increase the splendour of Paris. But the magnanimous perseverance of Alexander in the contest, was at last rewarded, and he saw from Montmartre that proud city, which had so often exulted at hearing of the capture of the other capitals of Europe, lying in his power. Without the capture of Paris in its turn, the triumph of Europe for the injuries which were inflicted in most parts of it, by the French, so long the willing instruments of Buonaparte's tyranny, had been incomplete.
Alexander's entry into Paris was haired as a liberation from that despotism, which its inhabitants, had not themselves the energy to shake off, and which they had acquiesced in or abetted for so many successive years.
That Alexander should have triumphed over Buonaparte, was fortunate for the liberty of France, but it was also indispensable to the peace of Europe.
The establishment of M. Delacroix, Rue Croix-des Petits Augustins, to remedy the defect of nature by a gymnastic process, is unique in France. I shall give the prospectus a place here; and feeling my inability to do it justice, shall not attempt to translate it.
"Dans la Rue des "Vieux Augustin" est l'etablissement de M. Delacroix Mecanicien Bandagiste Gymnastique pour redresser les defauts de la nature, particulierement chez les femmes. On y remarque Le Mat qui est une Colonne en forme de Mat, autour duquel se trouvent des echellons servant a monter pour developer les hanches et la poitrine; les Colonnes ou piliers, exercice servant a mettre le corps droit. Le Balancier sert a redresser la Colonne vertebrale ou epine du dos. Les Barilles pour redresser la tete les epaules et les hanches. Le Balancoir est pour maintenir la tete et les reins droits quand on est assise. Le puits la balle et la manivelle pour donner de la force a une epaule faible. L'Echelle pour redresser les epaules. Le Cheval pour apprendre a y monter, et tenir le corps dans un etat naturel. Le Jube pour redresser la tete et donner des graces; les Plombs pour apprendre a marcher avec grace. Le Fauteuil pour lever un cote de la poitrine qui seroit plus bas que l'autre; le soufflet pour donner un exercise regulier a toutes les parties du corps.
Ce mecanicien habile fait des mains dont les doigts ont les mouvements naturels; et son establissement est l'unique en France."
To judge, from this description, it should seem as if those to whom nature has not been propitious, or those who have been deprived by accident of a limb, are culpably negligent if they do not apply at an institution which professes to remedy some of the most desperate calamities incident to human nature. With what probability of success, however, such an application would be attended, it is not possible for me to determine. I copy the prospectus of the Professor without being able to judge myself of his proficiency.
I accepted one morning a proposal to accompany a gentleman to the Tuilleries to see the King go to mass (which he had been prevented by the gout from doing, at least in public for some time); we found a great number of spectators had assembled on the occasion in the hall through which his Majesty was to pass, and which was lined with his corps de garde. We had a considerable time to wait before he made his appearance, and had ample leisure to survey the portraits of the marshals of France, with which the apartment is decorated, as well as with paintings representing many of Buonaparte's victories. His Majesty appeared to be in excellent health, and received with much affability several papers which were handed to him, and which he gave to a gentleman in waiting. He was greeted repeatedly by cries of Vive le Roi! and there is no doubt that by far the most respectable portion of the French sincerely wish him prosperity. I trust they may prove sufficiently strong to keep under those, who I fear are at least as numerous a class, and who have not learned, by the experience of so many years of confusion, to value the blessings of tranquillity when they have at last obtained it, attended with the advantages of a mild government.
I believe it is agreed by all that the King has a good heart. His regard for England, which has done so much for his family, is highly to his honour; and I hear he testifies it upon all occasions. Lately, at a consultation of his physicians, one of them having said he feared a long residence in a damp climate, had contributed to increase the attacks of the gout, the King interrupted him by saying, "Ah! Monsieur P——, ne dites pas du mal d'Angleterre." The conduct of his Majesty, since his restoration to the crown of his ancestors, proves him not to be deficient in either ability or resolution; and there perhaps never was a period which called for a greater exertion of both than the present. The other day Paris was thrown into considerable alarm by the arrival of intelligence from Nevers, that the garrison there had declared for Buonaparte. In consequence every precaution was resorted to on the part of government, and the guards in Paris were doubled; but happily nothing occurred to disturb the public tranquillity. The number of discontented spirits which the Revolution has left afloat, and which it would not require any very considerable share of artifice to raise against any government, will require for a long time the exertion of the utmost vigilance on the part of the present administration. Louis might have been addressed with propriety, on his arrival in France, in the admonitory words of Galba to Piso:
"Imperaturus es hominibus, qui nec totam servitutem pati possunt nec totam libertatem."
On my departure from the Tuilleries my friend conducted me to a famous glass manufactory, where I saw several mirrors of very large dimensions, and also a staircase of glass, which had a splendid effect, and was the first thing of the kind I had ever seen. The balustrades were of glass, supported by steel, and had a particularly handsome appearance. The number of theatres in Paris have of late years much increased, and amount at present to eight or ten. The Opera Italien is justly celebrated as the best in Europe; but I received more entertainment at the Theatre Francois, in witnessing the representation of one of the admirable comedies of Moliere. The Theatre de l'Odeon is curious from its construction, but the minor theatres on the Boulevards, de Gaiete, and des Varieties, are in general the most frequented; and, except on extraordinary occasions, the Theatre Francois is by no means fully attended. A stranger in Paris is surprised at the number of bureaux d'ecrivains, or offices for writing, which abound in all parts of the town, where all materials for writing are provided for a few sous, and where persons attend to write letters, in any language, to the dictation of such as are not skilled in the graphic art.
* * * * *
I resolved not to take my departure from Paris without visiting some of the numerous royal palaces situated in its vicinity. St. Cloud first claimed my attention, both from its proximity to Paris, and from its having been for a considerable time the favourite residence of the ex-ruler of France. Its situation is certainly one of the most striking near the capital, and the views from it are both diversified and extensive. The improvements made here by Buonaparte render it a most agreeable residence, and display an extremely good taste. This palace is at present occupied by the Prince of Conde. The approach to it from Paris is very striking, through avenues of elms, with lamps at regular distances.
I also visited Marli, which is chiefly remarkable for the machine which raises water from the Seine to the height of five hundred feet. St. Cyr was the retreat of Madame de Maintenon, and Malmaison was the residence of Buonaparte, when first consul; but it is far inferior to St. Cloud. The palace of St. Germain is in a situation inferior to none I had seen. My expectations had however been particularly raised by the accounts I had heard of Versailles, which has at all times been the object of the admiration of the French; and it is certainly better suited to their ideas of grandeur than to ours.
This palace is about four leagues distant from Paris. The approach to it has nothing of that magnificence that I had been led to expect, and the road is in bad repair. On my arrival, I found it was impossible to gain admittance into the palace, which was undergoing a thorough repair, rendered indispensable by neglect during the last twenty years. The number of workmen employed is stated to amount to two thousand. It is a vast pile of building, and certainly one of the most famous royal residences in Europe. A Frenchman tells you with exultation of the vast sums which have been expended in its construction, and thinks that a sufficient proof of its magnificence. An Englishman, however, will very naturally be out of patience at the praises bestowed on gardens laid out in that taste which has been so long exploded in England, and cannot help exclaiming with the poet—
"Lo! what huge heaps of littleness around!"
In front of the palace is a vast terrace which you mount with considerable difficulty by innumerable flights of stairs. To occasion an unexpected treat to the admirers of art, by excluding every thing natural, the whole of this elevation is abundantly supplied with ponds and water-works. The grand vista in front of the palace is formed into a canal, and no description can give a more just idea of these boasted gardens than the following lines of Pope; the only difference being, that the water-works of Versailles are put in motion the first Sunday of every month, and remain stagnant the rest of the year.
"Grove nods at grove, each alley has a brother, And half the platform just reflects the other. The suffering eye inverted nature sees, Trees cut to statues, statues thick as trees; With here a fountain, never to be play'd, And there a summer-house that knows no shade; Here Amphitrite sails thro' myrtle bow'rs, There gladiators fight or die in flow'rs; Unwater'd see the drooping sea-horse mourn, And swallows roost in Nilus' dusty urn."
What pleased me most at Versailles was the great number of large orange and lemon trees.
The forest of Versailles is of great extent, and abounds in wood, but there is little of what would be considered in England as good timber.
Windsor and Versailles have been often compared, although no two places can possibly differ more completely than they do. To have again recourse to the words of the poet, Windsor is a place,