AS IT WAS AND AS IT IS;
A Sketch of the French Capital,
THE EFFECTS OF THE REVOLUTION,
WITH RESPECT TO
SCIENCES, LITERATURE, ARTS, RELIGION, EDUCATION, MANNERS, AND AMUSEMENTS;
A correct Account of the most remarkable National Establishments and Public Buildings.
In a Series of Letters,
WRITTEN BY AN ENGLISH TRAVELLER,
DURING THE YEARS 1801-2,
TO A FRIEND IN LONDON.
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Ipsa varietate tentamus efficere, ut alia aliis, quaedem fortasse omnibus placeant. PLIN. Epist.
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In the course of the following production, the Reader will meet with several references to a Plan of Paris, which it had been intended to prefix to the work; but that intention having been frustrated by the rupture between the two countries, in consequence of which the copies for the whole of the Edition have been detained at Calais, it is hoped that this apology will be accepted for the omission.
New Organization of the National Institute
LETTER I. On the ratification of the preliminary treaty of peace, the author leaves London for Paris—He arrives at Calais on the 16th of October, 1801—Apparent effect of the peace—After having obtained a passport, he proceeds to Paris, in company with a French naval officer.
LETTER II. Journey from Calais to Paris—Improved state of agriculture—None of the French gun-boats off Boulogne moored with chains at the time of the attack—St. Denis—General sweep made, in 1793, among the sepultures in that abbey—Arrival at Paris—Turnpikes now established throughout Prance—Custom-house scrutiny.
LETTER III. Objects which first strike the observer on arriving at Paris after an absence of ten or twelve years—Tumult in the streets considerably diminished since the revolution—No liveries seen—Streets less dangerous than formerly to pedestrians—Visits paid to different persons by the author—Price of lodgings nearly doubled since 1789 —The author takes apartments in a private house.
LETTER IV. Climate of Paris—Thermolampes or stoves which afford light and heat on an economical plan—Sword whose hilt was adorned with the Pitt diamond, and others of considerable value, presented to the Chief Consul.
LETTER V. Plan on which these letters are written.
LETTER VI. The Louvre or National Palace of Arts and Sciences described —Old Louvre—Horrors of St. Bartholomew's day—From this palace Charles IX fired on his own subjects—Additions successively made to it by different kings—Bernini, sent for by Lewis XIV, forwarded the foundation of the New Louvre, and returned to Italy—Perrault produced the beautiful colonnade of the Louvre, the master-piece of French architecture—Anecdote of the Queen of England, relict of Charles I—Public exhibition of the productions of French Industry.
LETTER VII. Central Museum of the Arts—Gallery of Antiques—Description of the different halls and of the most remarkable statues contained in them, with original observations by the learned connoisseur, Visconti.
LETTER VIII. Description of the Gallery of Antiques, and of its chefs-d'oeuvre of sculpture continued and terminated—Noble example set by the French in throwing open their museums and national establishments to public inspection—Liberal indulgence shewn to foreigners.
LETTER IX. General A——y's breakfast—Montmartre—Prospect thence enjoyed —Theatres.
LETTER X. Regulations of the Police to be observed by a stranger on his arrival in the French capital—Pieces represented at the Theatre Louvois —Palais du gouvernement or Palace of the Tuileries described—It was constructed, by Catherine de Medicis, enlarged by Henry IV and Lewis XIII, and finished By Lewis XIV—The tenth of August, 1792, as pourtrayed by an actor in that memorable scene—Number of lives lost on the occasion—Sale of the furniture, the king's wardrobe, and other effects found in the palace—Place du Carrousel—Famous horses of gilt bronze brought from Venice and placed here—The fate of France suspended by a thread—Fall of Robespiere and his adherents.
LETTER XI. Massacre of the prisoners at Paris in September, 1792—Private ball —The French much improved in dancing—The waltz described—Dress of the women.
LETTER XII. Bonaparte—Grand monthly parade—Agility of the First Consul in mounting his charger—Consular guards, a remarkably fine body of men —Horses of the French cavalry, sorry in appearance, but capable of enduring fatigue and privations.
LETTER XIII. Jardin des Tuileries—This garden now kept in better order than under the monarchy—The newly-built house of Very, the restaurateur—This quarter calls to mind the most remarkable events in the history of the revolution—Place de la Concorde—Its name is a strong contrast to the great number of victims here sacrificed —Execution of the King and Queen, Philippe Egalite, Charlotte Corday, Madame Roland, Robespiere, cum multus aliis —Unexampled dispatch introduced in putting persons to death by means of the guillotine—Guillotin, the inventor or improver of this instrument, dies of grief—Little impression left on the mind of the spectators of these sanguinary scenes—Lord Cornwallis arrives in Paris.
LETTER XIV. National fete, in honour of peace, celebrated in Paris on the 18th of Brumaire, year X (9th of November, 1801)—Garnerin and his wife ascend in a balloon—Brilliancy of the illuminations—Laughable accident.
LETTER XV. Description of the fete continued—Apparent apathy of the people —Songs composed in commemoration of this joyful event—Imitation of one of them.
LETTER XVI. Gallery of the Louvre—Saloon of the Louvre—Italian School—The most remarkable pictures in the collection mentioned, with original remarks on the masters by Visconti—Lord Cornwallis's reception in Paris.
LETTER XVII. Gallery of the Louvre in continuation—French School—Flemish School—The pictures in the Saloon are seen to much greater advantage than those in the Gallery—Gallery of Apollo—These superb repositories of the finest works of art are indiscriminately open to the public.
LETTER XVIII. Palais Royal, now called Palais du Tribunat—Its construction begun, in 1629, by Cardinal Richelieu, who makes a present of it to Lewis XIII—It becomes the property of the Orleans family—Anecdote of the Regent—Considerable alterations made in this palace—Jardin du Palais du Tribunat—This garden is surrounded by a range of handsome buildings, erected in 1782 by the duke of Orleans, then duke of Chartres—The Cirque burnt down in 1797—Contrast between the company seen here in 1789 and in 1801—The Palais Royal, the theatre of political commotions—Mutual enmity of the queen and the duke of Orleans, which, in the sequel, brought these great personages to the scaffold—Their improper example imitated by the nobility of both sexes—The projects of each defeated—The duke's pusillanimity was a bar to his ambition—He exhausted his immense fortune to gain partisans, and secure the attachment of the people—His imprisonment, trial, and death.
LETTER XIX. The Palais du Tribunat, an epitome of all the trades in Paris —Prohibited publications—Mock auctions—Magazins de confiance a prix fixe—Two speculations, of a somewhat curious nature, established there with success—The Palais Royal, a vortex of dissipation —Scheme of Merlin of Douay for cleansing this Augaean stable.
LETTER XX. The, a sort of route—Contrast in the mode of life of the Parisians before and since the revolution—Petits soupers described—An Englishman improves on all the French bons vivans under the old regime.
LETTER XXI. Public places of various descriptions—Their title and number —Contrast between the interior police now established in the theatres in Paris, and that which existed before the revolution—Admirable regulations at present adopted for the preservation of order at the door of the theatres—Comparatively small number of carriages now seen in waiting at the grand French opera.
LETTER XXII. Palais du Corps Legislatif—Description of the hall of the sittings of that body—Opening of the session—Speech of the President—Lord Cornwallis and suite present at this sitting—Petits appartemens of the ci-devant Palais Bourbon described.
LETTER XXIII. Halle au Ble—Lightness of the roof of the dome—Annual consumption of bread-corn in Paris—Astrologers—In former times, their number in Paris exceeded 30,000—Fortune-tellers of the present day —Church of St. Eustache—Tourville, the brave opponent of Admiral Russel, had no epitaph—Festivals of reason described.
LETTER XXIV. Museum of French Monuments—Steps taken by the Constituent Assembly to arrest the progress of Vandalism—Many master-pieces of painting, sculpture, and architecture, destroyed in various parts of France —Gregoire, ex-bishop of Blois, publishes three reports, to expose the madness of irreligious barbarism, which claim particular distinction.—They saved from destruction many articles of value in the provinces—Antique monuments found in 1711, in digging among the foundation of the ancient church of Paris—Indefatigable exertions of Lenoir, the conservator of this museum—The halls of this museum fitted up according to the precise character peculiar to each century, and the monuments arranged in them in historical and chronological order—Tombs of Clovis, Childebert, and Chilperic—Statues of Charlemagne, Lewis IX, and of Charles, his brother, together with those of the kings that successively appeared in this age down to king John—Tombs of Charles V, Du Gueselin, and Sancerre—Mausolea of Louis d'Orleans and of Valentine de Milan—Statues of Charles VI, Renee d'Orleans, Philippe de Commines, Lewis XI, Charles VII, Joan of Arc, Isabeau de Baviere—Tomb of Lewis XII—Tragical death of Charles the Bad.
LETTER XXV. Museum of French Monuments continued—Tombs of Francis I, of the Valois, and of Diane de Poitiers—Character of that celebrated woman—Statues of Turenne, Conde, Colbert, La Fontaine, Racine, and Lewis XIV—Mausolea of Cardinals Richelieu and Mazarin—Statues of Montesquieu, Fontenelle, Voltaire, Rousseau, Helvetius, Crebillon, and Piron—Tombs of Maupertuis, Caylus, and Marshal d'Harcourt—This museum contains a chronology of monuments, both antique and modern, from 2500 years before our era down to the present time, beginning with those of ancient Greece, and following all the gradations of the art from its cradle to its decrepitude—Sepulchre of Heloise and Abelard.
LETTER XXVI. Dinner at General A——y's—Difference in the duration of such a repast now and before the revolution—The General's ancestor, Francois A——y, planned and completed the famous canal of Languedoc—Depot de la guerre—Such an establishment much wanted in England—Its acknowledged utility has induced Austria, Spain, and Portugal, to form others of a similar nature—Geographical and topographical riches of this depot.
LETTER XXVII. Boulevards—Their extent—Amusements they present—Porte St. Denis—Anecdote of Charles VI—Porte St. Martin—La Magdeleine —Ambulating conjurers—Means they employ to captivate curiosity.
LETTER XXVIII. French funds and national debt—Supposed liquidation of an annuity held by a foreigner before the war, and yet unliquidated—Value of a franc.
LETTER XXIX. Grand monthly parade—Etiquette observed on this occasion, in the apartments of the palace of the Tuileries—Bonaparte—His person —His public character in Paris—Obstruction which the First Consul met with in returning from the parade—Champs Elysees—Sports and diversions there practised—Horses, brought from Marly to this spot, the master-pieces of the two celebrated sculptors, Costou —Comparison they afford to politicians.
LETTER XXX. Madonna de Foligno—Description of the method employed by the French artists to transfer from pannel to canvass this celebrated master-piece of Raphael.
LETTER XXXI. Pont Neuf—Henry IV—His popularity—Historical fact concerning the cause of his assassination brought to light—The Seine swollen by the rains—It presents a dull scene in comparison to the Thames—Great number of washerwomen—La Samaritaine—Shoe-blacks on the Pont Neuf—Their trade decreased—Recruiting Officers—The allurements they formerly employed are now become unnecessary in consequence of the conscription—Anecdote of a British officer on whom a French recruiter had cast his eye—Disappointment that ensued.
LETTER XXXII. Balls now very numerous every evening in Paris—Bal du Salon des Etrangers—Description of the women—Comparison between the French and English ladies—Character of Madame Tallien—Generosity, fortitude, and greatness of soul displayed by women during the most calamitous periods of the revolution—Anecdote of a young Frenchman smitten by a widow—An attachment, founded on somewhat similar circumstances, recorded by historians of Henry III of France —Sympathy, and its effects.
LETTER XXXIII. Pont National, formerly called the Pont Royal—Anecdote of Henry IV and a waterman—Coup d'oeil from this bridge—Quays of Paris —Galiot of St. Cloud—Pont de la Concorde—Paris besieged by the Swedes, Danes, and Normans, in 885—The Seine covered with their vessels for the space of two leagues—A vessel ascends the Seine from Rouen to Paris in four days—Engineers have ever judged it practicable to render the Seine navigable, from its mouth to the capital, for vessels of a certain burden—Riches accruing from commerce pave the way to the ruin of States, as well as the extension of their conquests.
LETTER XXXIV. French literature—Effects produced on it by the revolution—The sciences preferred to literature, and for what reason—The French government has flattered the literati and artists; but the solid distinctions have been reserved for men of science—Epic Poetry —Tragedy—Comedy—Novels—Moral Fable—Madrigal and Epigram—Romance —Lyric Poetry—Song—Journals.
LETTER XXXV. Pont au Change—Palais de Justice—Once a royal residence —Banquet given there, in 1313, by Philip the Fair, at which were present Edward II and his queen Isabella—Alterations which this palace has undergone, in consequence of having, at different times, been partly reduced to ashes—Madame La Motte publicly whipped—In 1738, Lewis XVI here held a famous bed of justice, in which D'Espresmenil struck the first blow at royalty—He was exiled to the Ile de St. Marguerite—After having stirred up all the parliaments against the royal authority, he again became the humble servant of the crown—After the revolution, the Palais de Justice was the seat of the Revolutionary Tribunal—Dumas, its president, proposed to assemble there five or six hundred victims at a time—He was the next day condemned to death by the same tribunal—The Palais de Justice, now the seat of different tribunals—The grande chambre newly embellished in the antique style—La Conciergerie, the place of confinement of Lavoisier, Malsherbes, Cordorcet, &c.—Fortitude displayed by the hapless Marie-Antoinette after her condemnation—Pont St. Michel—Pont Notre-Dame—Cathedral of Notre-Dame—Anecdote of Pepin the Short—Devastations committed in this cathedral—Medallions of Abelard and Heloise to be seen near Notre-Dame in front of the house where Fulbert, her supposed uncle, resided—Petit Pont—Pont au Double—Pont Marie—Workmen now employed in the construction of three new bridges—Pont de la Tournelle.
LETTER XXXVI. Paris a charming abode for a man of fortune—Summary of its advantages—Idalium—Tivoli—Frascati—Paphos—La Phantasmagorie of Robertson—Fitzjames, the famous ventriloquist—Method of converting a galantee-show into an exhibition somewhat similar to that of the phantasmagorists.
LETTER XXXVII. Paris the most melancholy abode in the world for a man without money —Restaurateurs—In 1765, Boulanger first conceived the idea of restoring the exhausted animal functions of the delibitated Parisians—He found many imitators—The restaurateurs, in order to make their business answer, constitute themselves traiteurs—La Barriere—Beauvilliers, Robert, Naudet, and Very dispute the palm in the art of Appicius—Description of Beauvilliers' establishment—His bill of fare—Expense of dining at a fashionable restaurateur's in Paris—Contrast between establishments of this kind existing before the revolution, and those in vogue at the present day—Cheap eating-houses—The company now met with at the fashionable rendezvous of good cheer compared with that seen here in former times—Cabinets particuliers—Uses to which they are applied—Advantages of a restaurateur's—Beauvilliers pays great attention to his guests—Cleanly and alert waiters—This establishment is admirably well managed.
LETTER XXXVIII. National Institution of the Deaf and Dumb—France indebted to the philanthropic Abbe de l'Epee for the discovery of the mode of instructing them—It has been greatly improved by Sicard, the present Institutor—Explanation of his system of instruction—The deaf and dumb are taught grammar, metaphysics, logic, religion, the use of the globes, geography, arithmetic, history, natural history, arts and trades—Almost every thing used by them is made by themselves—Lessons of analysis which astonish the spectators.
LETTER XXXIX. Public women—Charlemagne endeavours to banish them from Paris—His daughters, though addicted to illicit enjoyments, die universally regretted—Les Filles Dieu—Les Filles penitentes ou repenties —Courtesans—Luxury displayed in their equipages and houses—Kept women—Opera-dancers—Secret police maintained by Lewis XVI, in 1792 —Grisettes—Demireps—A French woman, at thirty, makes an excellent friend—Rousseau's opinion of this particular class of women in Paris.
LETTER XL. National Institution of the Industrious Blind—Circumstance which gave rise to this establishment—Valentin Hauey, its founder, found his project seconded by the Philanthropic Society—His plan of instruction detailed—Museum of the Blind—After two or three lessons, a blind child here teaches himself to read without the further help of any master.
LETTER XLI. Theatre des Arts et de la Republique, or Grand French opera—Old opera-house burnt down, and a new one built and opened in 72 days —Description of the present house—Operas of Gluck; also those of Piccini and Sacchini—Gluckists and Piccinists—The singing is the weakest department at the French opera—Merits of the singers of both sexes—Choruses very full—Orchestra famous—The Chief Consul, being very partial to Italian music, sends to that land of harmony to procure the finest musical compositions.
LETTER XLII. Dancing improved in France—Effect of some of the ballets—Noverre and Gardel first introduce them on the French stage—Rapid change of scenery—Merits of the dancers of both sexes—The rector of St. Roch refuses to admit into that church the corpse of Mademoiselle Chameroi—The dancers in private society now emulate those who make dancing their profession—Receipts of the opera.
LETTER XLIII. New year's day still celebrated in Paris on the 1st of January —Customs which prevail there on that occasion—Denon's account of the French expedition to Egypt—That country was the cradle of the arts and sciences—Fourrier confirms the theory of Dupuis, respecting the origin, &c. of the figures of the Zodiac.
LETTER XLIV. Hotel des Invalides—It was projected by Henry IV and erected by Lewis XIV—Temple of Mars—To its arches are suspended the standards and colours taken from the enemy—Two British flags only are among the number—Monument of Turenne—Circumstances of his death—Dome of the Invalides—Its refectories and kitchens—Anecdote of Peter the Great—Reflections on establishments of this description—Champ de Mars—Ecole Militaire—Various scenes of which the Champ de Mars has been the theatre—Death of Bailly—Modern national fetes in France, a humble imitation of the Olympic games.
LETTER XLV. Object of the different learned and scientific institutions, which, before the revolution, held their sittings in the Louvre—Anecdote of Cardinal Richelieu—National Institute of Arts and Sciences —Organization of that learned body—Description of the apartments of the Institute—Account of its public quarterly meeting of the 15th Nivose, year X, (5th of January, 1802)—Marriage of Mademoiselle Beauharnois to Louis Bonaparte.
LETTER XLVI. Opera Buffa—The Italian comedians who came to Paris in 1788, had a rapid influence on the musical taste of the French public—Performers of the new Italian company—Productions of Cimarosa, Paesiello, &c.—Madame Bolla.
LETTER XLVII. Present state of public worship—Summary of the proceedings of the constitutional clergy—National councils of the Gallican church held at Paris—Conduct of the Pope, Pius VII—The Cardinal Legate, Caprara, arrives in Paris—The Concordat is signed—Subsequent transactions.
LETTER XLVIII. Pantheon—Description of this edifice—Marat and Mirabeau pantheonized and dispantheonized—The remains of Voltaire and Rousseau removed hither—The Pantheon in danger of falling—This apprehension no longer exists—Bonaparte leaves Paris for Lyons.
LETTER XLIX. Scientific societies of Paris—Societe Philotechnique—Societe Libre des Sciences, Lettres, et Arts—Athenee des Arts—Societe Philomatique—Societe Academique des Sciences—Societe Galvanique—Societe des Belles-Lettres—Academie de Legislation —Observateurs de l'Homme—Athenee de Paris.
LETTER L. Coffee-houses—Character of the company who frequent them—Contrast between the coffee-houses of the present and former times—Coffee first introduced at Paris, in 1669, by the Turkish ambassador—Cafe mechanique—Subterraneous coffee-houses of the Palais du Tribunat.
LETTER LI. Public instruction—The ancient colleges and universities are replaced by Primary Schools, Secondary Schools, Lyceums, and Special Schools—National pupils—Annual cost of these establishments —Contrast between the old system of education and the new plan, recently organized.
LETTER LII. Milliners—Montesquieu's observation on the commands of the fair sex—Millinery a very extensive branch of trade in Paris—Bal de l'Opera—Dress of the men and women—Adventures are the chief object of those who frequent these masquerades.
LETTER LIII. Theatre Francais de la Republique—The house described—List of the stock-pieces—Names of their authors—Fabre d'Eglantine—His Philinte de Moliere a chef-d'oeuvre—Some account of its author —La Chaussee the father of the drame, a tragi-comic species of dramatic composition.
LETTER LIV. Principal performers in tragedy at the Theatre Francais—Vanhove, Monvel, St. Prix, and Naudet—Talma, and Lafond—St. Fal, Damas, and Dupont—Mesdames Raucourt and Vestris—Mesdames Fleury, Talma, Bourgoin, and Volnais—Mesdames Suin and Thenard—Debut of Mademoiselle Duchesnois; Madame Xavier, and Mademoiselle Georges—Disorderly conduct of the Duchesnistes, who are routed by the Georgistes.
LETTER LV. Principal performers in comedy at the Theatre Francais—Vanhove, and Naudet—Mole, Fleury, and Baptiste the elder—St. Fal, Dupont, Damas, and Armand—Grandmenil, and Caumont —Dugazon, Dazincourt, and Larochelle—Mesdemoiselles Contat, and Mezeray—Madame Talma—Mesdemoiselles Mars, Bourgoin, and Gros—Mesdemoiselles Lachassaigne and Thenard—Mesdemoiselles Devienne and Desbrosses—Contrast between the state of the French stage before and since the revolution.
LETTER LVI. French women fond of appearing in male attire—Costume of the French Ladies—Contrast it now presents to that formerly worn—The change in their dress has tended to strengthen their constitution—The women in Paris extremely cleanly in their persons—Are now very healthy.
LETTER LVII. The studies in the colleges and universities interrupted by bands of insurgents—College de France—It is in this country the only establishment where every branch of human knowledge is taught in its fullest extent—Was founded by Francis I—Disputes between this new College and the University—Its increasing progress—The improvements in the sciences spread by the instruction of this College—Its present state.
LETTER LVIII. Theatre de l'Opera Comique—Authors who have furnished it with stock-pieces, and composers who have set them to music—Principal performers at this theatre—Elleviou, Gavaudan, Philippe, and Gaveaux—Chenard, Martin, Rezicourt, Juliet, and Moreau —Solie, and St. Aubin—Dozainville, and Lesage—Mesdames St. Aubin, Scio, Lesage, Cretu, Philis the elder, Gavaudan, and Pingenet—Mesdames Dugazon, Philippe, and Gonthier.
LETTER LIX. France owes her salvation to the savans or men of science —Polytechnic School—Its object—Its formation and subsequent progress—Changes recently introduced into this interesting establishment.
LETTER LX. Pickpockets and sharpers—Anecdote of a female swindler—Anecdote of a sharper—Housebreakers—Chauffeurs—A new species of assassins —Place de Greve—Punishment for thieves re-established—On the continent, ladies flock to the execution of criminals.
LETTER LXI. Schools for Public Services—The Polytechnic School, the grand nursery whence the pupils are transplanted into the Schools of Artillery, Military Engineers, Bridges and Highways, Mines, Naval Engineers, and Navigation—Account of these schools—Prytanee Francais—Special Schools—Special School of Painting and Sculpture —Competitions—National School of Architecture—Conservatory of Music—Present state of Music in France—Music has done wonders in reviving the courage of the French soldiers—The French are no less indebted to Rouget de Lille, author of the Marseillois, than the Spartans were to Tyrtaeus—Gratuitous School for Drawing—Veterinary School—New Special Schools to Le established in France.
LETTER LXII. Funerals—No medium in them under the old regime—Ceremonies formerly observed—Those practised at the present day—Marriages —Contrast they present.
LETTER LXIII. Public Libraries—Bibliotheque Nationale—Its acquisitions since the revolution—School for Oriental Living Languages.
LETTER LXIV. Bibliotheque Mazarine—Bibliotheque du Pantheon—Bibliotheque de l'Arsenal—The Arsenal—Other libraries and literary depots in Paris.
LETTER LXV. Dancing—Nomenclature of caperers in Paris, from the wealthiest classes down to the poorest—Beggars form the last link of the chain.
LETTER LXVI. Bureau des Longitudes—Is on a more extensive scale than the Board of Longitude in England—National Observatory—Subterraneous quarries that have furnished the stone with which most of the houses in Paris are constructed—Measures taken to prevent the buildings in Paris from being swallowed up in these extensive labyrinths—Present state of the Observatory—Lalande, Mechain, and Bouvard—Carroche, and Lenoir—Lavoisier, and Borda—Delambre, Laplace, Burckhardt, Vidal, Biot, and Puisson—New French weights and measures—Concise account of the operations employed in measuring an arc of the terrestrial meridian—Table of the new French measures and weights—Their correspondence with the old, and also with those of England.
LETTER LXVII. Depot de la Marine—An establishment much wanted in England.
LETTER LXVIII. Theatre Louvois—Picard, the manager of this theatre, is the Moliere of his company—La Grande Ville, ou les Provinciaux a Paris—Principal performers at this theatre—Picard, Devigny, Dorsan, and Clozel—Mesdemoiselles Adeline, Moliere, Lescot, and Madame Mole—Theatre du Vaudeville—Authors who write for this theatre—Principal performers—Public malignity, the main support of this theatre.
LETTER LXIX. Hotel de la Monnaie—Description of this building—Musee des Mines—Formed by M. Sage—The arrangement of this cabinet is excellent—Cabinet du Conseil des Mines—Principal mineral substances discovered in France since the revolution.
LETTER LXX. Theatre Montansier—Principal performers—Ambigu Comique—The curiosity of a stranger may be satisfied in a single visit to each of the minor theatres in Paris.
LETTER LXXI. Police of Paris—Historical sketch of it—Its perfections and imperfections—Anecdote of a minister of police—Mouchards —Anecdote which shews the detestation in which they are held—The Parisian police extends to foreign countries—This truth exemplified by two remarkable facts—No habeas corpus in France.
LETTER LXXII. The savans saved France, when their country was invaded —Astonishing exertions made by the French on that occasion—Anecdote relating to Robespierre—Extraordinary resources created by the men of science—Means employed for increasing the manufacture of powder, cannon, and muskets—The produce of these new manufactories contrasted with that of the old ones—Territorial acquisitions of the French—The Carnival revived in Paris.
LETTER LXXIII. Public gaming-houses—Academies de jeu, which existed in Paris before the revolution—Gaming-houses licensed by the police—The privilege of granting those licences is farmed by a private individual—Description of the Maisons de jeu—Anecdote of an old professed gambler—Gaming prevails in all the principal towns of France—The excuse of the old government for promoting gaming, is reproduced at the present day.
LETTER LXXIV. Museum of Natural History, or Jardin des Plantes—Is much enlarged since the revolution—One of the first establishments of instruction in Europe—Contrast between its former state and that in which it now is—Fourcroy, the present director—His eloquence—Collections in this establishment—Curious articles which claim particular notice.
LETTER LXXV. The Carnival—That of 1802 described—The Carnival of modern times, an imitation of the Saturnalia of the ancients—Was for some years prohibited, since the revolution—Contrast between the Carnival under the monarchy and under the republican government.
LETTER LXXVI. Palais du Senat Conservateur, or Luxembourg Palace—Mary of Medicis, by whom it was erected, died in a garret—It belonged to Monsieur, before the revolution—Improvements in the garden of the Senate—National nursery formed in an adjoining piece of ground —Bastille—Le Temple—Its origin—Lewis XVI and his family confined in this modern state-prison.
LETTER LXXVII. Present slate of the French Press—The liberty of the press, the measure of civil liberty—Comparison, between the state of the press in France and in England.
LETTER LXXVIII. Hospitals and other charitable institutions—Hotel-Dieu—Extract from the report of the Academy of Sciences on this abode of pestilence—Reforms introduced into it since the revolution—The present method of purifying French hospitals deserves to be adopted in England—Other hospitals in Paris—Hospice de la Maternite—La Salpetriere—Bicetre—Faculties and Colleges of Physicians, as will as Colleges and Commonalties of Surgeons, replaced in France by Schools of Health—School of Medicine of Paris—France overrun by quacks—New law for checking the serious mischief they occasion —Society of Medicine—Gratuitous School of Pharmacy—Free Society of Apothecaries—Changes in the teaching and practice of medicine in France.
LETTER LXXIX. Private seminaries for youth of both sexes—Female education —Contrast between that formerly received in convents, and that now practised in the modern French boarding-schools.
LETTER LXXX. Progressive aggrandisement of Paris—Its origin—Under the name of Lutetia, it was the capital of Gaul—Julian's account of it—The sieges it has sustained—Successively embellished by different kings —Progressive amelioration of the manners of its inhabitants—Rapid view of the causes which improved them, from the reign of Philip Augustus to that of Lewis XIV—Contrast between the number of public buildings before and since the revolution—Population of Paris, from official documents—Ancient division of Paris—Is now divided into twelve mayoralties—Barrieres and high wall by which it is surrounded—Anecdote of the commis des barrieres seizing an Egyptian mummy.
LETTER LXXXI. French Furniture—The events of the revolution have contributed to improve the taste of persons connected with the furnishing line —Contrast between the style of the furniture in the Parisian houses in 1789-90 and 1801-2—Les Gobelins, the celebrated national manufactory for tapestry—La Savonnerie, a national manufactory for carpeting—National manufactory of plate-glass.
LETTER LXXXII. Academy of Fine Arts at the ci-devant College de Navarre —Description of the establishment of the Piranesi—Three hundred artists of different nations distributed in the seven classes of this academy—Different works executed here in Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, Mosaic, and Engraving.
LETTER LXXXIII. Conservatory of Arts and Trades—It contains a numerous collection of machines of every description employed in the mechanical arts —Belier hydraulique, newly invented by Montgolfier—Models of curious buildings—The mechanical arts in France have experienced more or less the impulse given to the sciences—The introduction of the Spanish merinos has greatly improved the French wools—New inventions and discoveries adopted in the French manufactories —Characteristic difference of the present state of French industry, and that in which it was before the revolution.
LETTER LXXXIV. Society for the encouragement of national industry—Its origin—Its objects detailed—Free Society of Agriculture—Amidst the storms of the revolution, agriculture has teen improved in France—Causes of that improvement—The present state of agriculture briefly contrasted with that which existed before the revolution—Didot's stereotypic editions of the classics—Advantages attending the use of stereotype —This invention claimed by France, but proved to belong to Britain —Printing-office of the Republic, the most complete typographical establishment in being.
LETTER LXXXV. Present State of Society in Paris—In that city are three very distinct kinds of society—Description of each of these—Other societies are no more than a diminutive of the preceding—Philosophy of the French in forgeting their misfortunes and losses—The signature of the definitive treaty announced by the sound of cannon —In the evening a grand illumination is displayed.
LETTER LXXXVI. Urbanity of the Parisians towards strangers—The shopkeepers in Paris overcharge their articles—Furnished Lodgings—Their price—The Milords Anglais now eclipsed by the Russian Counts—Expense of board in Paris—Job and Hackney Carriages—Are much improved since the revolution—Fare of the latter—Expense of the former —Cabriolets—Regulations of the police concerning these carriages —The negligence of drivers now meets with due chastisement—French women astonish bespattered foreigners by walking the streets with spotless stockings—Valets-de-place—Their wages augmented—General Observations—An English traveller, on visiting Paris, should provide himself with letters of recommendation—Unless an Englishman acquires a competent knowledge of the manners of the country, he fails in what ought to be the grand object of foreign travel—Situation of one who brings no letters to Paris—The French now make a distinction between individuals only, not between nations—Are still indulgent to the English—Animadversion on the improper conduct of irrational British youths.
LETTER LXXXVII. Divorce—The indissolubility of marriage in France, before the revolution, was supposed to promote adultery—No such excuse can now be pleaded—Origin of the present laws on divorce—Comparison on that subject between the French and the Romans—The effect of these laws illustrated by examples—The stage ought to be made to conduce to the amelioration of morals—In France, the men blame the women, with a view of extenuating their own irregularities—To reform women, men ought to begin by reforming themselves.
LETTER LXXXVIII. The author is recalled to England—Mendicants—The streets of Paris less infested by them now than before the revolution—Pawnbrokers —Their numbers much increased in Paris, and why—Mont de Piete —Lotteries now established in the principal towns in France—The fatal consequences of this incentive to gaming—Newspapers—Their numbers considerably augmented—Journals the most in request—Baths —Bains Vigier described—School of Natation—Telegraphs—Those in Paris differ from those in use in England—Telegraphic language may be abridged—Private collections most deserving of notice in Paris —Depot d'armes of M. Boutet—M. Regnier, an ingenious mechanic —The author's reason for confining his observations to the capital —Metamorphoses in Paris—The site of the famous Jacobin convent is intended for a market-place—Arts and Sciences are become popular in France, since the revolution—The author makes amende honorable, or confesses his inability to accomplish the task imposed on him by his friend—He leaves Paris.
NEW ORGANIZATION OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE.
On the 3d of Pluviose, year XI (23d of January, 1803), the French government passed the following decree on this subject.
Art. I. The National Institute, at present divided into three classes, shall henceforth consist of four; namely:
First Class—Class of physical and mathematical sciences.
Second Class—Class of the French language and literature.
Third Class—Class of history and ancient literature.
Fourth Class—Class of fine arts.
The present members of the Institute and associated foreigners shall be divided into these four classes. A commission of five members of the Institute, appointed by the First Consul, shall present to him the plan of this division, which shall be submitted to the approbation of the government.
II. The first class, shall be formed of the ten sections, which at present compose the first class of the Institute, of a new section of geography and navigation, and of eight foreign associates.
These sections shall be composed and distinguished as follows:
Geometry six members. Mechanics six ditto. Astronomy six ditto. Geography and Navigation three ditto. General Physics six ditto.
Chemistry six ditto. Mineralogy six ditto. Botany six ditto. Rural Economy and the Veterinary Art six ditto. Anatomy and Zoology six ditto. Medicine and Surgery six ditto.
The first class shall name, with the approbation of the Chief Consul, two perpetual secretaries; the one for the mathematical sciences; the other, for the physical. The perpetual secretaries shall be members of the class, but shall make no part of any section.
The first class may elect six of its members from among the other classes of the Institute. It may name a hundred correspondents, taken from among the learned men of the nation, and those of foreign countries.
III. The second class shall be composed of forty members.
It is particularly charged with the compilation and improvement of the dictionary of the French tongue. With respect to language, it shall examine important works of literature, history, and sciences. The collection of its critical observations shall be published at least four times a year.
It shall appoint from its own members, and with the approbation of the First Consul, a perpetual secretary, who shall continue to make one of the sixty members of whom the class is composed.
It may elect twelve of its members from among those of the other classes of the Institute.
IV. The third class shall be composed of forty members and eight foreign associates.
The learned languages, antiquities and ornaments, history, and all the moral and political sciences in as far as they relate to history, shall be the objects of its researches and labours. It shall particularly endeavour to enrich French literature with the works of Greek, Latin, and Oriental authors, which have not yet been translated.
It shall employ itself in the continuation of diplomatic collections.
With the approbation of the First Consul, it shall name from its own members a perpetual secretary, who shall make one of the forty members of whom the class is composed.
It may elect nine of its members from among those of the classes of the Institute.
It may name sixty national or foreign correspondents.
V. The fourth class shall be composed of twenty-eight members and eight foreign associates. They shall be divided into sections, named and composed as follows:
Painting ten members. Sculpture six ditto. Architecture six ditto. Engraving three ditto. Music (composition) three ditto.
With the approbation of the First Consul, it shall appoint a perpetual secretary, who shall be a member of the class, but shall not make part of the sections.
It may elect six of its members from among the other classes of the Institute.
It may name thirty-six national or foreign correspondents.
VI. The associated foreign members shall have a deliberative vote only for objects relating to sciences, literature, and arts. They shall not make part of any section, and shall receive no salary.
VII. The present associates of the Institute, scattered throughout the Republic, shall make part of the one hundred and ninety-six correspondents, attached to the classes of the sciences, belles-lettres, and fine arts.
The correspondents cannot assume the title of members of the Institute. They shall drop that of correspondents, when they take up their constant residence in Paris.
VIII. The nominations to the vacancies shall be made by each of the classes in which those vacancies shall happen to occur. The persons elected shall be approved by the First Consul.
IX. The members of the four classes shall have a right to attend reciprocally the private sittings of each of them, and to read papers there when they have made the request.
They shall assemble four times a year as the body of the Institute, in order to give to each other an account of their transactions.
They shall elect in common the librarian and under-librarian, as well as all the agents who belong in common to the Institute.
Each class shall present for the approbation of the government the particular statutes and regulations of its interior police.
X. Each class shall hold every year a public sitting, at which the other three shall assist.
XI. The Institute shall receive annually, from the public treasury, 1500 francs for each of its members, not associates; 6000 francs for each of its perpetual secretaries; and, for its expenses, a sum which shall be determined on, every year, at the request of the Institute, and comprised in the budget of the Minister of the Interior.
XII. The Institute shall have an administrative commission, composed of five members, two of the first class, and one of each of the other three, appointed by their respective classes.
This commission shall cause to be regulated in the general sittings, prescribed in Art. IX, every thing relative to the administration, to the general purposes of the Institute, and to the division of the funds between the four classes.
Each class shall afterwards regulate the employment of the funds which shall have been assigned for its expenses, as well as every thing that concerns the printing and publication of its memoirs.
XIII. Every year, each class shall distribute prizes, the number and value of which shall be regulated as follows:
The first class, a prize of 3000 francs.
The second and third classes, each a prize of 1500 francs.
And the fourth class, great prizes of painting, sculpture, architecture, and musical composition. Those who shall have gained one of these four great prizes, shall be sent to Rome, and maintained at the expense of the government.
XIV. The Minister of the Interior is charged with the execution of the present decree, which shall be inserted in the Bulletin of the Laws.
[Footnote 1: Referred to in Letter XLV, Vol. II of this work.]
On ushering into the world a literary production, custom has established that its parent should give some account of his offspring. Indeed, this becomes the more necessary at the present moment, as the short-lived peace, which gave birth to the following sheets, had already ceased before they were entirely printed; and the war in which England and France are now engaged, is of a nature calculated not only to rouse all the energy and ancient spirit of my countrymen, but also to revive their prejudices, and inflame their passions, in a degree proportionate to the enemy's boastful and provoking menace.
I therefore premise that those who may be tempted to take up this publication, merely with a view of seeking aliment for their enmity, will, in more respects than one, probably find themselves disappointed. The two nations were not rivals in arms, but in the arts and sciences, at the time these letters were written, and committed to the press; consequently, they have no relation whatever to the present contest. Nevertheless, as they refer to subjects which manifest the indefatigable activity of the French in the accomplishment of any grand object, such parts may, perhaps, furnish hints that may not be altogether unimportant at this momentous crisis.
The plan most generally adhered to throughout this work, being detailed in LETTER V, a repetition of it here would be superfluous; and the principal matters to which the work itself relates, are specified in the title. I now come to the point.
A long residence in France, and particularly in the capital, having afforded me an opportunity of becoming tolerably well acquainted with its state before the revolution, my curiosity was strongly excited to ascertain the changes which that political phenomenon might have effected. I accordingly availed myself of the earliest dawn of peace to cross the water, and visit Paris. Since I had left that city in 1789-90, a powerful monarchy, established on a possession of fourteen centuries, and on that sort of national prosperity which seemed to challenge the approbation of future ages, had been destroyed by the force of opinion which, like, a subterraneous fire, consumed its very foundations, and plunged the nation into a sea of troubles, in which it was, for several years, tossed about, amid the wreck of its greatness.
This is a phenomenon of which antiquity affords no parallel; and it has produced a rapid succession of events so extraordinary as almost to exceed belief.
It is not the crimes to which it has given birth that will be thought improbable: the history of revolutions, as well ancient as modern, furnishes but too many examples of them; and few have been committed, the traces of which are not to be found in the countries where the imagination of the multitude has been exalted by strong and new ideas, respecting Liberty and Equality. But what posterity will find difficult to believe, is the agitation of men's minds, and the effervescence of the passions, carried to such a pitch, as to stamp the French revolution with a character bordering on the marvellous —Yes; posterity will have reason to be astonished at the facility with which the human mind can be modified and made to pass from one extreme to another; at the suddenness, in short, with which the ideas and manners of the French were changed; so powerful, on the one hand, is the ascendency of certain imaginations; and, on the other, so great is the weakness of the vulgar!
It is in the recollection of most persons, that the agitation of the public mind in France was such, for a while, that, after having overthrown the monarchy and its supports; rendered private property insecure; and destroyed individual freedom; it threatened to invade foreign countries, at the same time pushing before it Liberty, that first blessing of man, when it is founded on laws, and the most dangerous of chimeras, when it is without rule or restraint.
The greater part of the causes which excited this general commotion, existed before the assembly of the States-General in 1789. It is therefore important to take a mental view of the moral and political situation of France at that period, and to follow, in imagination at least, the chain of ideas, passions, and errors, which, having dissolved the ties of society, and worn out the springs of government, led the nation by gigantic strides into the most complete anarchy.
Without enumerating the different authorities which successively ruled in France after the fall of the throne, it appears no less essential to remind the reader that, in this general disorganization, the inhabitants themselves, though breathing the same air, scarcely knew that they belonged to the same nation. The altars overthrown; all the ancient institutions annihilated; new festivals and ceremonies introduced; factious demagogues honoured with an apotheosis; their busts exposed to public veneration; men and cities changing names; a portion of the people infected with atheism, and disguised in the livery of guilt and folly; all this, and more, exercised the reflection of the well-disposed in a manner the most painful. In a word, though France was peopled with the same individuals, it seemed inhabited by a new nation, entirely different from the old one in its government, its creed, its principles, its manners, and even its customs.
War itself assumed a new face. Every thing relating to it became extraordinary: the number of the combatants, the manner of recruiting the armies, and the means of providing supplies for them; the manufacture of powder, cannon, and muskets; the ardour, impetuosity, and forced marches of the troops; their extortions, their successes, and their reverses; the choice of the generals, and the superior talents of some of them, together with the springs, by which these enormous bodies of armed men were moved and directed, were equally new and astonishing.
History tells us that in poor countries, where nothing inflames cupidity and ambition, the love alone of the public good causes changes to be tried in the government; and that those changes derange not the ordinary course of society; whereas, among rich nations, corrupted by luxury, revolutions are always effected through secret motives of jealousy and interest; because there are great places to be usurped, and great fortunes to be invaded. In France, the revolution covered the country with ruins, tears, and blood, because means were not to be found to moderate in the people that revolutionary spirit which parches, in the bud, the promised fruits of liberty, when its violence is not repressed.
Few persons were capable of keeping pace with the rapid progress of the revolution. Those who remained behind were considered as guilty of desertion. The authors of the first constitution were accused of being royalists; the old partisans of republicanism were punished as moderates; the land-owners, as aristocrates; the monied men, as corrupters; the bankers and financiers, as blood-suckers; the shop-keepers, as promoters of famine; and the newsmongers, as alarmists. The factious themselves, in short, were alternately proscribed, as soon as they ceased to belong to the ruling faction.
In this state of things, society became a prey to the most baneful passions. Mistrust entered every heart; friendship had no attraction; relationship, no tie; and men's minds, hardened by the habit of misfortune, or overwhelmed by fear, no longer opened to pity.
Terror compressed every imagination; and the revolutionary government, exercising it to its fullest extent, struck off a prodigious number of heads, filled the prisons with victims, and continued to corrupt the morals of the nation by staining it with crimes.
But all things have an end. The tyrants fell; the dungeons were thrown open; numberless victims emerged from them; and France seemed to recover new life; but still bewildered by the revolutionary spirit, wasted by the concealed poison of anarchy, exhausted by her innumerable sacrifices, and almost paralyzed by her own convulsions, she made but impotent efforts for the enjoyment of liberty and justice. Taxes became more burdensome; commerce was annihilated; industry, without aliment; paper-money, without value; and specie, without circulation. However, while the French nation was degraded at home by this series of evils, it was respected abroad through the rare merit of some of its generals, the splendour of its victories, and the bravery of its soldiers.
During these transactions, there was formed in the public mind that moral resistance which destroys not governments by violence, but undermines them. The intestine commotions were increasing; the conquests of the French were invaded; their enemies were already on their frontiers; and the division which had broken out between the Directory and the Legislative Body, again threatened France with a total dissolution, when a man of extraordinary character and talents had the boldness to seize the reins of authority, and stop the further progress of the revolution. Taking at the full the tide which leads on to fortune, he at once changed the face of affairs, not only within the limits of the Republic, but throughout Europe. Yet, after all their triumphs, the French have the mortification to have failed in gaining that for which they first took up arms, and for which they have maintained so long and so obstinate a struggle.
When a strong mound has been broken down, the waters whose amassed volume it opposed, rush forward, and, in their impetuous course, spread afar terror and devastation. On visiting the scene where this has occurred, we naturally cast our eyes in every direction, to discover the mischief which they have occasioned by their irruption; so, then, on reaching the grand theatre of the French revolution, did I look about for the traces of the havock it had left behind; but, like a river which had regained its level, and flowed again in its natural bed, this political torrent had subsided, and its ravages were repaired in a manner the most surprising.
However, at the particular request of an estimable friend, I have endeavoured to draw the contrast which, in 1789-90 and 1801-2, Paris presented to the eye of an impartial observer. In this arduous attempt I have not the vanity to flatter myself that I have been successful, though I have not hesitated to lay under contribution every authority likely to promote my object. The state of the French capital, before the revolution, I have delineated from the notes I had myself collected on the spot, and for which purpose I was, at that time, under the necessity of consulting almost as many books as Don Quixote read on knight-errantry; but the authors from whom I have chiefly borrowed, are St. FOIX, MERCIER, DULAURE, PUJOULX, and BIOT.
My invariable aim has been to relate, sine ira nec studio, such facts and circumstances as have come to my knowledge, and to render to every one that justice which I should claim for myself. After a revolution which has trenched on so many opposite interests, the reader cannot be surprised, if information, derived from such a variety of sources, should sometimes seem to bear the character of party-spirit. Should this appear on the face of the record, I can only say that I have avoided entering into politics, in order that no bias of that sort might lead me to discolour or distort the truths I have had occasion to state; and I have totally rejected those communications which, from their tone of bitterness, personality, and virulence, might be incompatible with the general tenour of an impartial production.
Till the joint approbation of some competent judges, who visited the French capital after having perused, in manuscript, several of these letters, had stamped on them a comparative degree of value, no one could think more lightly of them than the author. Urged repeatedly to produce them to the public, I have yielded with reluctance, and in the fullest confidence that, notwithstanding the recent change of circumstances, a liberal construction will be put on my sentiments and motives. I have taken care that my account of the national establishments in France should be perfectly correct; and, in fact, I have been favoured with the principal information it contains by their respective directors. In regard to the other topics on which I have touched, I have not failed to consult the best authorities, even in matters, which, however trifling in themselves, acquire a relative importance, from being illustrative of some of the many-coloured effects of a revolution, which has humbled the pride of many, deranged the calculations of all, disappointed the hopes of not a few, and deceived those even by whom it had been engendered and conducted.
Yet, whatever pains I have taken to be strictly impartial, it cannot be denied that, in publishing a work of this description at a time when the self-love of most men is mortified, and their resentment awakened, I run no small risk of displeasing all parties, because I attach myself to none, but find them all more or less deserving of censure. Without descending either to flattery or calumny, I speak both well and ill of the French, because I copy nature, and neither draw an imaginary portrait, nor write a systematic narrative. If I have occasionally given vent to my indignation in glancing at the excesses of the revolution, I have not withheld my tribute of applause from those institutions, which, being calculated to benefit mankind by the gratuitous diffusion of knowledge, would reflect honour on any nation. In other respects, I have not been unmindful of that excellent precept of TACITUS, in which he observes that "The principal duty of the historian is to rescue from oblivion virtuous actions, and to make bad men dread infamy and posterity for what they have said and done."
In stating facts, it is frequently necessary to support them by a relation of particular circumstances, which may corroborate them in an unquestionable manner. Feeling this truth, I have some times introduced myself on my canvass, merely to shew that I am not an ideal traveller. I mean one of those pleasant fellows who travel post in their elbow-chair, sail round the world on a map suspended to one side of their room, cross the seas with a pocket-compass lying on their table, experience a shipwreck by their fireside, make their escape when it scorches their shins, and land on a desert island in their robe de chambre and slippers.
I have, therefore, here and there mentioned names, time, and place, to prove that, bona fide, I went to Paris immediately after the ratification of the preliminary treaty. To banish uniformity in my description of that metropolis, I have, as much as possible, varied my subjects. Fashions, sciences, absurdities, anecdotes, education, fetes, useful arts, places of amusement, music, learned and scientific institutions, inventions, public buildings, industry, agriculture, &c. &c. &c. being all jumbled together in my brain, I have thence drawn them, like tickets from a lottery; and it will not, I trust, be deemed presumptuous in me to indulge a hope that, in proportion to the blanks, there will be found no inadequate number of prizes.
I have pointed out the immense advantages which France is likely to derive from her Schools for Public Services, and other establishments of striking utility, such as the Depot de la Guerre and the Depot de la Marine, in order that the British government may be prompted to form institutions, which, if not exactly similar, may at least answer the same purpose. Instead of copying the French in objects of fickleness and frivolity, why not borrow from them what is really deserving of imitation?
It remains for me to observe, by way of stimulating the ambition of British genius, that, in France, the arts and sciences are now making a rapid and simultaneous progress; first, because the revolution has made them popular in that country; and, secondly, because they are daily connected by new ties, which, in a great measure, render them inseparable. Facts are there recurred to, less with a view to draw from them immediate applications than to develop the truths resulting from them. The first step is from these facts to their most simple consequences, which are little more than bare assertions. From these the savans proceed to others more minute, till, at length, by imperceptible degrees, they arrive at the most abstracted generalities. With them, method is an induction incessantly verified by experiment. Whence, it gives to human intelligence, not wings which lead it astray, but reins which guide it. United by this common philosophy, the sciences and arts in France advance together; and the progress made by one of them serves to promote that of the rest. There, the men who profess them, considering that their knowledge belongs not to themselves alone, not to their country only, but to all mankind, are continually striving to increase the mass of public knowledge. This they regard as a real duty, which they are proud to discharge; thus treading in the steps of the most memorable men of past ages.
Then, while the more unlearned and unskilled among us are emulating the patriotic enthusiasm of the French in volunteering, as they did, to resist invasion, let our men of science and genius exert themselves not to be surpassed by the industrious savans and artists of that nation; but let them act on the principle inculcated by the following sublime idea of our illustrious countryman, the founder of modern philosophy. "It may not be amiss," says BACON, "to point out three different kinds, and, as it were, degrees of ambition. The first, that of those who desire to enhance, in their own country, the power they arrogate to themselves: this kind of ambition is both vulgar and degenerate. The second, that of those who endeavour to extend the power and domination of their country, over the whole of the human race: in this kind there is certainly a greater dignity, though; at the same time, no less a share of cupidity. But should any one strive to restore and extend the power and domination of mankind over the universality of things, unquestionably such an ambition, (if it can be so denominated) would be more reasonable and dignified than the others. Now, the empire of man, over things, has its foundation exclusively in the arts and sciences; for it is only by an obedience to her laws, that Nature can be commanded."
LONDON, June 10, 1803.
[Footnote 1: Of two things, we are left to believe one. BONAPARTE either was or was not invited to put himself at the head of the government of France. It is not probable that the Directory should send for him from Egypt, in order to say to him: "we are fools and drivelers, unfit to conduct the affairs of the nation; so turn us out of office, and seat yourself in our place." Nevertheless, they might have hoped to preserve their tottering authority through his support. Be this as it may, there it something so singular in the good fortune which has attended BONAPARTE from the period of his quitting Alexandria, that, were it not known for truth, it might well be taken for fiction. Sailing from the road of Aboukir on the 24th of August, 1799, he eludes the vigilance of the English cruisers, and lands at Frejus in France on the 14th of October following, the forty-seventh day after his departure from Egypt. On his arrival in Paris, so far from giving an account of his conduct to the Directory, he turns his back on them; accepts the proposition made to him, from another quarter, to effect a change in the government; on the 9th of November, carries it into execution; and, profiting by the popularis aura, fixes himself at the head of the State, at the same time kicking down the ladder by which he climbed to power. To achieve all this with such promptitude and energy, most assuredly required a mind of no common texture; nor can any one deny that ambition would have done but little towards its accomplishment, had it not been seconded by extraordinary firmness.]
[Footnote 2: "Praecipuum munus annalium reor, ne virtutes sileantur, utque praxis dictis factisque ex posteritate et infamia metus sit."]
[Footnote 3: "Praeterca non abs refuerit, tria hominum ambitionis genera et quasi gradus distinguere. Primum eorum qui propriam potentiam in patria sua amplificare cupiunt; quod genus vulgare est et degener. Secundum eorum, qui patriae potentiam et imperium inter humanum genus amplificare nituntur; illud plus certe habet dignitatis, cupiditatis haud minus. Quod si quis humani generis ipsius potentiam et imperium in rerum univertitatem instaurare et amplificare conetur ea procul dubio ambitio (si modo ita cocanda sit) reliquls et sanior est et augustior. Hominis autem imperium in res, in solis artibus et scientiis ponitur: naturae enim non imperatur, nisi parendo." Nov. org. scientiarum. Aphor. CXXIX. (Vol. VIII. page 72, new edition of BACON'S works. London, printed 1803.)]
A SKETCH OF PARIS, &c. &c.
Calais, October 16, 1801.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
Had you not made it a particular request that I would give you the earliest account of my debarkation in France, I should, probably, not have been tempted to write to you till I reached Paris. I well know the great stress which you lay on first impressions; but what little I have now to communicate will poorly gratify your expectation.
From the date of this letter, you will perceive that, since we parted yesterday, I have not been dilatory in my motions. No sooner had a messenger from the Alien-Office brought me the promised passport, or rather his Majesty's licence, permitting me to embark for France, than I proceeded on my journey.
In nine hours I reached Dover, and, being authorized by a proper introduction, immediately applied to Mr. Mantell, the agent for prisoners of war, cartels, &c. for a passage across the water. An English flag of truce was then in the harbour, waiting only for government dispatches; and I found that, if I could get my baggage visited in time, I might avail myself of the opportunity of crossing the sea in this vessel. On having recourse to the collector of the customs, I succeeded in my wish: the dispatches arriving shortly after, mid my baggage being already shipped, I stepped off the quay into the Nancy, on board of which I was the only passenger. A propitious breeze sprang up at the moment, and, in less than three hours, wafted me to Calais pier.
By the person who carried the dispatches to Citizen Mengaud, the commissary for this department (Pas de Calais), I sent a card with my name and rank, requesting permission to land and deliver to him a letter from M. Otto. This step was indispensable: the vessel which brought me was, I find, the first British flag of truce that has been suffered to enter the harbour, with the exception of the Prince of Wales packet, now waiting here for the return of a king's messenger from Paris; and her captain even has not yet been permitted to go on shore. It therefore appears that I shall be the first Englishman, not in an official character, who has set foot on French ground since the ratification of the preliminary treaty.
The pier was presently crowded with people gazing at our vessel, as if she presented a spectacle perfectly novel: but, except the tri-coloured cockade in the hats of the military, I could not observe the smallest difference in their general appearance. Instead of crops and round wigs, which I expected to see in universal vogue, here were full as many powdered heads and long queues as before the revolution. Frenchmen, in general, will, I am persuaded, ever be Frenchmen in their dress, which, in my opinion, can never be revolutionized, either by precept or example. The citoyens, as far as I am yet able to judge, most certainly have not fattened by warfare more than JOHN BULL: their visages are as sallow and as thin as formerly, though their persons are not quite so meagre as they are pourtrayed by Hogarth.
The prospect of peace, however, seemed to have produced an exhilarating effect on all ranks; satisfaction appeared on every countenance. According to custom, a host of inkeepers' domestics boarded the vessel, each vaunting the superiority of his master's accommodations. My old landlord Ducrocq presenting himself to congratulate me on my arrival, soon freed me from their importunities, and I, of course, decided in favour of the Lion d'Argent.
Part of the Boulogne flotilla was lying in the harbour. Independently of the decks of the gunboats being full of soldiers, with very few sailors intermixed, playing at different games of chance, not a plank, not a log, or piece of timber, was there on the quay but was also covered with similar parties. This then accounts for that rage for gambling, which has carried to such desperate lengths those among them whom the fate of war has lodged in our prisons.
My attention was soon diverted from this scene, by a polite answer from the commissary, inviting me to his house. I instantly disembarked to wait on him; my letter containing nothing more than an introduction, accompanied by a request that I might be furnished with a passport to enable me to proceed to Paris without delay, Citizen Mengaud dispatched a proper person to attend me to the town-hall, where the passports are made out, and signed by the mayor; though they are not delivered till they have also received the commissary's signature. However, to lose no time, while one of the clerks was drawing my picture, or, in other words, taking down a minute description of my person, I sent my keys to the custom-house, in order that my baggage might be examined.
By what conveyance I was to proceed to Paris was the next point to be settled; and this has brought me to the Lion d'Argent.
Among other vehicles, Ducrocq has, in his remise, an apparently-good cabriolet de voyage, belonging to one of his Paris correspondents; but, on account of the wretched state of the roads, he begs me to allow him time to send for his coachmaker, to examine it scrupulously, that I may not be detained by the way, from any accident happening to the carriage.
I was just on the point of concluding my letter, when a French naval officer, who was on the pier when I landed, introduced himself to me, to know whether I would do him the favour to accommodate him with a place in the cabriolet under examination. I liked my new friend's appearance and manner too well not to accede to his proposal.
The carriage is reported to be in good condition. I shall therefore send my servant on before as a courier, instead of taking him with me as an inside passenger. As we shall travel night and day, and the post-horses will be in readiness at every stage, we may, I am told, expect to reach Paris in about forty-two hours. Adieu; my next will be from the great city.
Paris, October 19, 1801.
Here I am safe arrived; that is, without any broken bones; though my arms, knees, and head are finely pummelled by the jolting of the carriage. Well might Ducrocq say that the roads were bad! In several places, they are not passable without danger—Indeed, the government is so fully aware of this, that an inspector has been dispatched to direct immediate repairs to be made against the arrival of the English ambassador; and, in some communes, the people are at work by torch-light. With this exception, my journey was exceedingly pleasant. At ten o'clock the first night, we reached Montreuil, where we supped; the next day we breakfasted at Abbeville, dined at Amiens, and supped that evening at Clermont.
The road between Calais and Paris is too well known to interest by description. Most of the abbeys and monasteries, which present themselves to the eye of the traveller, have either been converted into hospitals or manufactories. Few there are, I believe, who will deny that this change is for the better. A receptacle for the relief of suffering indigence conveys a consolatory idea to the mind of the friend of human nature; while the lover of industry cannot but approve of an establishment which, while it enriches a State, affords employ to the needy and diligent. This, unquestionably, is no bad appropriation of these buildings, which, when inhabited by monks, were, for the most part, no more than an asylum of sloth, hypocrisy, pride, and ignorance.
The weather was fine, which contributed not a little to display the country to greater advantage; but the improvements recently made in agriculture are too striking to escape the notice of the most inattentive observer. The open plains and rising grounds of ci-devant Picardy which, from ten to fifteen years ago, I have frequently seen, in this season, mostly lying fallow, and presenting the aspect of one wide, neglected waste, are now all well cultivated, and chiefly laid down in corn; and the corn, in general, seems to have been sown with more than common attention.
My fellow-traveller, who was a lieutenant de vaisseau, belonging to Latouche Treville's flotilla, proved a very agreeable companion, and extremely well-informed. This officer positively denied the circumstance of any of their gun-boats being moored with chains during our last attack. While he did ample justice to the bravery of our people, he censured the manner in which it had been exerted. The divisions of boats arriving separately, he said, could not afford to each other necessary support, and were thus exposed to certain discomfiture. I made the best defence I possibly could; but truth bears down all before it.
The loss on the side of the French, my fellow-traveller declared, was no more than seven men killed and forty-five wounded. Such of the latter as were in a condition to undergo the fatigue of the ceremony, were carried in triumphal procession through the streets of Boulogne, where, after being harangued by the mayor, they were rewarded with civic crowns from the hands of their fair fellow-citizens.
Early the second morning after our departure from Calais, we reached the town of St. Denis, which, at one time since the revolution, changed its name for that of Franciade. I never pass through this place without calling to mind the persecution which poor Abelard suffered from Adam, the abbot, for having dared to say, that the body of St. Denis, first bishop of Paris, in 240, which had been preserved in this abbey among the relics, was not that of the areopagite, who died in 95. The ridiculous stories, imposed on the credulity of the zealous catholics, respecting this wonderful saint, have been exhibited in their proper light by Voltaire, as you may see by consulting the Questions sur l'Encyclopedie, at the article Denis.
It is in every person's recollection that, in consequence of the National Convention having decreed the abolition of royalty in France, it was proposed to annihilate every vestige of it throughout the country. But, probably, you are not aware of the thorough sweep that was made among the sepultures in this abbey of St. Denis.
The bodies of the kings, queens, princes, princesses, and celebrated personages, who had been interred here for nearly fifteen hundred years, were taken up, and literally reduced to ashes. Not a wreck was left behind to make a relic.
The remains of TURENNE alone were respected. All the other bodies, together with the entrails or hearts, enclosed in separate urns, were thrown into large pits, lined with a coat of quick lime: they were then covered with the same substance; and the pits were afterwards filled up with earth. Most of them, as may be supposed, were in a state of complete putrescency; of some, the bones only remained, though a few were in good preservation.
The bodies of the consort of Charles I. Henrietta Maria of France, daughter of Henry IV, who died in 1669, aged 60, and of their daughter Henrietta Stuart, first wife of Monsieur, only brother to Lewis XIV, who died in 1670, aged 26, both interred in the vault of the Bourbons, were consumed in the general destruction.
The execution of this decree was begun at St. Denis on Saturday the 12th of October 1793, and completed on the 25th of the same month, in presence of the municipality and several other persons.
On the 12th of November following, all the treasure of St. Denis, (shrines, relics, &c.) was removed: the whole was put into large wooden chests, together with all the rich ornaments of the church, consisting of chalices, pyxes, cups, copes, &c. The same day these valuable articles were sent off, in great state, in waggons, decorated for the purpose, to the National Convention.
We left St. Denis after a hasty breakfast; and, on reaching Paris, I determined to drive to the residence of a man whom I had never seen; but from whom I had little doubt of a welcome reception. I accordingly alighted in the Rue neuve St. Roch, where I found B——a, who perfectly answered the character given me of him by M. S——i.
You already know that, through the interest of my friend, Captain O——y, I was so fortunate as to procure the exchange of B——a's only son, a deserving youth, who had been taken prisoner at sea, and languished two years in confinement in Portchester-Castle.
Before I could introduce myself, one of young B——a's sisters proclaimed my name, as if by inspiration; and I was instantly greeted with the cordial embraces of the whole family. This scene made me at once forget the fatigues of my journey; and, though I had not been in bed for three successive nights, the agreeable sensations excited in my mind, by the unaffected expression of gratitude, banished every inclination to sleep. If honest B——a and his family felt themselves obliged to me, I felt myself doubly and trebly obliged to Captain O——y; for, to his kind exertion, was I indebted for the secret enjoyment arising from the performance of a disinterested action.
S——i was no sooner informed of my arrival, than he hastened to obey the invitation to meet me at dinner, and, by his presence, enlivened the family party. After spending a most agreeable day, I retired to a temporary lodging, which B——a had procured me in the neighbourhood. I shall remain in it no longer than till I can suit myself with apartments in a private house, where I can be more retired, or at least subject to less noise, than in a public hotel.
Of the fifty-eight hours which I employed in performing my journey hither from London, forty-four were spent on my way between Calais and Paris; a distance that I have often travelled with ease in thirty-six, when the roads were in tolerable repair. Considerable delay too is at present occasioned by the erection of barrieres, or turnpike-bars, which did not exist before the revolution. At this day, they are established throughout all the departments, and are an insuperable impediment to expedition; for, at night, the toll-gatherers are fast asleep, and the bars being secured, you are obliged to wait patiently till these good citizens choose to rise from their pillow.
To counterbalance this inconvenience, you are not now plagued, as formerly, by custom-house officers on the frontiers of every department. My baggage being once searched at Calais, experienced no other visit; but, at the upper town of Boulogne, a sight of my travelling passport was required; by mistake in the dark, I gave the commis a scrawl, put into my hands by Ducrocq, containing an account of the best inns on the road. Would you believe that this inadvertency detained us a considerable time, so extremely inquisitive are they, at the present moment, respecting all papers? At Calais, the custom-house officers even examined every piece of paper used in the packing of my baggage. This scrutiny is not particularly adopted towards Englishmen; but must, I understand, be undergone by travellers of every country, on entering the territory of the Republic.
P. S. Lord Cornwallis is expected with impatience; and, at St. Denis, an escort of dragoons of the 19th demi-brigade is in waiting to attend him into Paris.
Paris, October 21, 1801.
On approaching this capital, my curiosity was excited in the highest degree; and, as the carriage passed rapidly along from the Barriere, through the Porte St. Denis, to the Rue neuve St. Roch, my eyes wandered in all directions, anxiously seeking every shade of distinction between monarchical and republican Paris.
The first thing that attracted my attention, on entering the faubourg, was the vast number of inscriptions placed, during the revolution, on many of the principal houses; but more especially on public buildings of every description. They are painted in large, conspicuous letters; and the following is the most general style in which they have been originally worded:
"REPUBLIQUE FRANCAISE, UNE ET INDIVISIBLE." "LIBERTE, EGALITE, FRATERNITE, OU LA MORT."
Since the exit of the French Nero, the last three words "ou la mort" have been obliterated, but in few places are so completely effaced as not to be still legible. In front of all the public offices and national establishments, the tri-coloured flag is triumphantly displayed; and almost every person you meet wears in his hat the national cockade.
The tumult which, ten or twelve years ago, rendered the streets of Paris so noisy, so dirty, and at the same time so dangerous, is now most sensibly diminished. Boileau's picture of them is no longer just. No longer are seen those scenes of confusion occasioned by the frequent stoppages of coaches and carts, and the contentions of the vociferating drivers. You may now pass the longest and most crowded thoroughfares, either on foot or otherwise, without obstacle or inconvenience. The contrast is striking.
Indeed, from what I have observed, I should presume that there is not, at the present day, one tenth part of the number of carriages which were in use here in 1780-90. Except on the domestics of foreign ambassadors and foreigners, I have as yet noticed nothing like a livery; and, in lieu of armorial bearings, every carriage, without distinction, has a number painted on the pannel. However, if private equipages are scarce, thence ensues more than one advantage; the public are indemnified by an increased number of good hackney coaches, chariots, and cabriolets; and, besides, as I have just hinted, pedestrians are not only far less exposed to being bespattered, but also to having their limbs fractured.
Formerly, a seigneur de la cour conceived himself justified in suffering his coachman to drive at a mischievous rate; and in narrow, crowded streets, where there is no foot-pavement, it was extremely difficult for persons walking to escape the wheels of a great number of carriages rattling along in this shameful manner. But he who guided the chariot of a ministre d'etat, considered it as a necessary and distinctive mark of his master's pre-eminence to bruler le pave. This is so strictly true, that, before the revolution, I have here witnessed repeated accidents of the most serious nature, resulting from the exercise of this sort of ministerial privilege: on one occasion particularly, I myself narrowly escaped unhurt, when a decent, elderly woman was thrown down, close by my feet, and had both her thighs broken through the unfeeling wantonness of the coachman of the Baron de Breteuil, at that time minister for the department of Paris.
Owing to the salutary regulations of the police, the recurrence of these accidents is now, in a great measure, prevented; and, as the empirics say in their hand-bills: "Prevention is better than cure."
But for these differences, a person who had not seen Paris for some years, might, unless he were to direct his visits to particular quarters, cross it from one extremity to the other, without remarking any change to inform his mind, that here had been a revolution, or rather that, for the last ten years, this city had been almost one continual scene of revolutions.
Bossnet, once preaching before Lewis XIV, exclaimed: "Kings die, and so do kingdoms!" Could that great preacher rise from his grave into the pulpit, and behold France without a king, and that kingdom, not crumbled away, but enlarged, almost with the rapid accumulation of a snow-ball, into an enormous mass of territory, under the title of French Republic, what would he not have to say in a sermon? Rien de nouveau sous le ciel, though an old proverb, would not now suit as a maxim. This, in fact, seems the age of wonders. The league of monarchs has ended by producing republics; while a republic has raised a dukedom into a monarchy, and, by its vast preponderance, completely overturned the balance of power.
Not knowing when I may have an opportunity of sending this letter, I shall defer to close it for the present, as I may possibly lengthen it. But you must not expect much order in my narrations. I throw my thoughts on paper just as they happen to present themselves, without any studied arrangement.
October 21, in continuation.
When we have been for some time in the habit of corresponding with strangers, we are apt to draw such inferences from their language and style, as furnish us with the means of sketching an ideal portrait of their person. This was the case with myself.
Through the concurrence of the two governments, I had, as you know, participated, in common with others, in the indulgence of being permitted to correspond, occasionally, on subjects of literature with several of the savans and literati of France. Indeed, the principal motive of my journey to Paris was to improve that sort of acquaintance, by personal intercourse, so as to render it more interesting to both parties. In my imagination, I had drawn a full-length picture of most of my literary correspondents. I was now anxious to see the originals, and compare the resemblance.
Yesterday, having first paid my respects to Mr. M——y, the successor to Captain C——s, as commissary for the maintenance and exchange of British prisoners of war, and at present Charge d'affaires from our court to the French Republic, I called on M. F——u, formerly minister of the naval department, and at present counsellor of state, and member of the National Institute, as well as of the board of longitude. I then visited M. O——r, and afterwards M. L———re, also members of the Institute, and both well known to our proficients in natural history, by the works which each has published in the different branches of that interesting science.
In one only of my ideal portraits had I been very wide of the likeness. However, without pretending to be a Lavater, I may affirm that I should not have risked falling into a mistake like that committed, on a somewhat similar occasion, by Voltaire.
This colossus of French literature, having been for a long time in correspondence with the great Frederic, became particularly anxious to see that monarch. On his arrival in a village where the head-quarters of the Prussian army were then established, Voltaire inquired for the king's lodging: thither he paced with redoubled speed; and, being directed to the upper part of the house, he hastily crossed a large garret; he then found himself in a second, and was just on the point of entering the third, when, on turning round, he perceived in one of the comers of the room, a soldier, not overclean in appearance, lying on a sorry bedstead. He went up and said to him with eagerness: "Where's the king?"—"I am Frederic," replied the soldier; and, sure enough, it was the monarch himself.