Sketches of Paris, 1801-2
By William Francis Blagdon
About the author:
William Francis Blagdon (1778–1819) was an author, editor and publisher. Blagdon started his career as a newsboy, rising to write for, and edit for a time, the newspaper, the Morning Post. In 1802 he started a short-lived series called, Modern Discoveries. From 1803 Blagdon published the more successful The Flowers of Literature, a sort of annual Reader's Digest of extracts from the year’s publications designed for "the gens du monde, who are desirous to become, without serious application, conversant with modern literary taste." Initially jointly edited by Francis William Blagdon and the Reverend Francis Provost, Blagdon became the sole editor in 1804. A Tory, Blagdon eventually clashed with William Cobbett. Blagdon was imprisoned for publishing a libel on the Whig admiral Lord St. Vincent, Naval Administration: A Letter to the Earl St. Vincent ... Pointing Out Numerous Instances of Incapacity and Misconduct in the Present Board of Admiralty. Blagdon also published anonymously a new edition of Fox's Book of Martyrs, a venerable piece of anti-Catholicism, in opposition to Catholic emancipation (readers will note Blagdon's views on Catholicism that come through in the letters). Blagdon was also author or editor of a number of other travel and literary works, including A Brief History of Ancient and Modern India, The Modern Geographer and Authentic Memoirs of the late George Morland. When Blagdon died in obscurity and poverty in 1819 a subscription was raised for his widow and children.
AS IT WAS and AS IT IS;
A Sketch of the French Capital.
THE EFFECTS OF THE REVOLUTION,
WITH RESPECT TO
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.
Ipsa varietate tentamus efficere, ut alia aliis, Quædem fortasse omnibis
placeant. PLIN. Epist.
PRINTED BY AND FOR C. AND R. BALDWIN, NEW BRIDGE-
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.
On the 3rd of Pluviôse, year XI (23rd 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 the 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:
Geography and Navigation………..three ditto.
General Physics……………………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 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 s 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, and named and composed as follows:
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 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.
ON ushering into the world a literary production, custom has established that is 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 relations 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 prosperity 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 marvelous—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 ascendancy 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 apotheosis [A reference to Revolutionary martyrs, such as Marat, being placed in the in the Pantheon and other honors.]; there busts exposed to public veneration; men and cities changing names; a portion of the people infected with atheism [The winter of 1793-1794 saw a violent wave of de-christianization in France. The movement was opposed by the government.], 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 the 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 characteristics and talents had the boldness to seize the reins of authority, and stop the further progress of the revolution.* (* 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 is 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 executions; and, profiting by the popularis aura, fixes himself at the head of 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 been seconded by extraordinary firmness.) 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 [Germain-François Poullain de Saint-Foix(1698-1776).], MERCIER [Louis Sébastien Mercier (1740-1814).], DULAURE [Jacques-Antoine Dulaure (1755-1835).], PUJOULX [Jean-Baptiste Pujoulx (1762-1821).], and BIOT [Jean-Baptiste Biot, (1774-1862)].
My invariable aim has been to relate, sine ira nec studio ["without aversion nor preference"], 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 the 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 sometimes 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, bonâ 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, fêtes, 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 Depôt de la Guerre and the Depôt 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 popular in the 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 degree, 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 dominion 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 commanded." (Nov. org. scientiarum. Aphor. CXXIX. Vol. III. Page 72, new edition of BACON's works. London, printed 1803.)
SKETCH OF PARIS,
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.
LONDON, June 10, 1803.
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 [The passage of the Alien Act in January 1793 required that all foreigners must register with the police or the Customs officials at the port where they landed. The Alien Office was set up to handle the paperwork created by the Act. The Alien Office eventually took on secret service functions in addition to the control of aliens living and traveling in Britain. See Elizabeth Sparrow's Secret Service: British Agents in France, 1792-1815. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell, 1999.] brought me the promised passport, or rather his Majesty's licence, permitting me to embark for France, than I proceeding 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, and 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 [Louis-Guillaume Otto, comte de Mosloy (1754-1817), diplomat, Otto served in the United States in 1779 in various capacities until 1792, imprisoned during the Terror, sent to London as commissioner for the exchange of prisoners in 1800 Otto negotiated the preliminaries of the peace of Amiens, later he become minister to Munich and to Vienna.]. This step was indispensable: the vessel which brought me was, I found, 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 During the Jacobin regime, powdered hair and wigs were considered aristocratic and fell out of fashion.], 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 meager as they are pourtrayed [sic] 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 innkeepers' 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 this 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 accompany 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.
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 France - Custom-house scrutiny.
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 [Road repairs in France had traditionally been done under the courvée, a feudal duty that required peasants to work from between six to thirty days repairing the roads. Their labor was uncompensated. The courvée was abolished by the Revolution.]; 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 traveler, 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 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 [former] Picardy which, from ten to fifteen years ago, I have frequently sen, 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 Tréville's [Louis-René Levassor Latouche-Tréville (1745-1804), fought in his first naval battle in 1759, served in the American war, was a deputy in the Estates-General, made contre-amiral in 1793, imprisoned during the Terror, commanded a flotilla during Leclerc's expedition to St. Domingue, vice-amiral in 1803, his untimely death robbed Napoleon of one of his best naval commanders.] 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 [Lord St. Vincent complained, "The manner in which the enemy's flotilla was made fast to the ground, and to each other, could not have been foreseen."] 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 [Nelson, who commanded in this August 1801 action at Boulogne wrote, "…the darkness of the night, with the tide and half tide, separated the divisions, and from all not arriving at the same happy moment with Captain Parker, is to be attributed the failure of success;…although the divisions did not arrive together, yet each…made a successful attack…".]. I made the best defence I possibly could; but the 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 Françiade. I never pass through this place without calling to mind the persecution which poor Abélard suffered from Adam, the abbot, for having dared to say, that the body of St. Denis, first bishop of France, in 240, which had been preserved in this abbey among the relics, was not that of the areopagite, who died in 95 [Peter Abelard (1079-1142), philosopher and theologian.]. 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'Encyclopédie, 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 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 separated 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 putrecency; 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 the 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 wagons, 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 by me, I felt myself doubly and trebly obliged to Captain O____y; for, to his kind exertion, I was 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 barrières, 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 at 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 traveling 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.
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.
Paris, October 21, 1801.
ON approaching this capital, my curiosity was excited to the highest degree; and, as the carriage passed rapidly along from the Barrière, 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 painted in large, conspicuous letters; and following is the most general style in which they have been originally worded:
"RÉPUBLIQUE FRANÇAISE, UNE ET INDIVISIBLE."
"LIBERTÉ, ÉGALITÉ, FRATERNITÉ, OU LA MORT."
Since the exit of the French Nero, the last three words "ou la mort" have been obliterated, but in a 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 1789-90. 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 ["In 1802, in various neighborhoods—Rue du Mont-Blanc, Chausée d'Antin—sidewalks were built, with an elevation of three or four inches." Lucien Dubech and Pierre d'Espezel, Histoire de Paris (1926), quoted in, Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project (1999), p. 520.], it was extremely difficult for persons walking to escape the wheels of a great number of carriages rattling along in this shameful manner [Arthur Young had written, before the Revolution, of Parisian streets, "There are a great man vehicles and the worst thing is the tremendous number of one-horse carriages driven by young fops (and others who emulate them and are no less dangerous fools), at such breakneck speed that they are a real menace and extremely dangerous for any pedestrian not constantly on the lookout. I witnessed a child being run over and probably killed, and was myself frequently splashed with sludge from the sewer."]. But he who guided the chariot of a ministre d'état, considered it as a necessary and distinctive mark of his master's pre-eminence to brûler le pavé. 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 [Louis-Charles-Auguste Le Tonnelier, Baron De Breteuil (1730—1807), replace Necker as chief minister, emigrated after the fall of the Bastille, helped plan the failed flight of the Royal family.], 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 one continual scene of revolutions.
Boussuet [Jacques-Benigne Boussuet (1627-1704), bishop, author and orator, invited by St. Vincent de Paul to preach in Paris, Boussuet was eventually appointed preceptor to the Dauphin. Later as bishop of Meaux he took a prominent part in the Assembly of the French Clergy in 1682.], once preaching before Lewis XIV, exclaimed: "Kinds 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 ceil ["Nothing new under the sun."], 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 [Anthony Merry (1756-1835), entered the British foreign service in 1783, served as consul at Majorca, then as Consul General at Madrid (1787), later he was Consul General to Denmark, Prussia, and Sweden (1799). In 1801 he was posted to France where he assisted Lord Cornwallis in negotiating the preliminary treaty of peace between France and England. Napoleon ironically nicknamed Merry, Monsieur Toujours Rire (when he came to the United States his nickname was altered to Toujours Gai). When Merry was later posted as minister to the United States he took an almost immediate disliking to the American president, Thomas Jefferson, seeing in all his actions slights against himself and therefore against his King. Merry chose to see Jefferson greeting him in slippers as a personal affront, threatening to turn what was at worst a social spat into an international incident. As a result, as Henry Adams wrote, "Merry entered the path of secret conspiracy; he became the confidant of all the intrigues in Washington, and gave to their intrigues the support of his official influence." Among those he lent his "official influence" was Aaron Burr, conspiring to separate the western territories from the United States.], the successor to Captain C____s, as commissary for the maintenance and exchange of British prisoners of war, and at present Chargé d'affaires from our court to the French Republic, I called on M. F____u [Charles-Pierre Claret, comte de Fleurieu (1738-1810), minister of marine (1790-1791), imprisoned during the Terror, member of the Conseil des Anciens, member of the Institute and the Bureau des longitudes, named to the Senate (1805), count of the Empire.] formerly minister to 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 [? Guillaume Antoine Olivier (1756-1814), naturalist, physician and entomologist.], and afterward M. L______re, [? Adrien-Marie Le Gendre (1752-1833), mathematician, made contributions in geometry, astronomy, calculus, and is considered one of the founders of number theory.] 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 [Johann Kaspar Lavater (1741-1801), Swiss theologian and mystic, promoter of the study of physiognomy, the art of determining character from facial characteristics.] 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 just was on the point of entering the third, when, on turning round, he perceived in one of the corners 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.
I am now settled in my new apartments, which are situated in the most centrical part of Paris. When you visit this capital, I would, by all means, recommend to you, should you intend to remain here a few weeks, to get into private lodgings.
I know of no article here so much augmented in price, within the last ten years, as apartments in all the hotels. After looking at several of them in the Rue de la Loi, accompanied by a French friend, who was so obliging as to take on himself all the trouble of inquiry, while I remained a silent bystander, I had the curiosity to got to the Hôtel d'Angleterre, in the Rue des Filles St. Thomas, not far from the ci-devant Palais Royale. The same apartments on the first floor of this hotel which I occupied in 1789, happened to be vacant. At that time I paid for them twelve louis d'or a month; the furniture was then new; it is now much the worse for nearly eleven years' wear; and the present landlord asked twenty-five louis a month, and even refused twenty-two, if taken for three months certain. The fact is, that all the landlords of ready-furnished hotels in Paris seem to be buoyed up with the idea that, on the peace, the English and foreigners of other nations will flock hither in such numbers as to enable them to reap a certain and plentiful harvest. Not but all lodgings are considerably increased in price, which is ascribed to the increase in taxes.
To find private lodgings, you have only to cast your eye on the daily advertiser of Paris, called Les Petites Affiches. There I read a description of my present quarters, which are newly fitted up in every particular, and, I assure you, with no small degree of tasteful fancy. My landlady, who is a milliner, and, for aught I know, a very fashionable one, left not the smallest convenience to my conjecture, but explained the particular use of every hole and corner in the most significant manner, excepting the boudoir.
This would be a most excellent situation for any one whose principal object was to practise speaking French; for, on the right hand of the porte-cochère or gateway, (which, by the bye, is here reckoned an indispensable appendage to a proper lodging), is the magazin des modes, where my landlady presides over twenty damsels, many of whom, though assiduously occupied in making caps and bonnets, would, I am persuaded, find repartee for the most witty gallant.
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.
Paris, October 23, 1801.
SINCE my arrival, I have been so much engaged in paying and receiving visits, that I really have not yet been able to take even a hasty view of any of the grand sights introduced here since the revolution.
On Wednesday I dined with M. S_____i, whose new 8vo edition of Buffon proceeds, I find, with becoming spirit. It is a journey to his residence; for he lives in one of the most retired quarters of Paris. However, I had no reason to repine at a distance, as the party was exceedingly cheerful. Naturalists and literati were not wanting.
Egypt was a subject that engrossed much of the conversation: it was mentioned as a matter of regret that, during the domination of the French in that country, curiosity had not prompted the Institute, established at Cairo, to open one of the pyramids, with a view of ascertaining the object of the erection of those vast masses. At the des[s]ert, we had luscious grapes as large as damsons, in bunches of from three to five pounds in weight. They were of the species of the famous chasselas de Fontainebleau, which are said to have sprung from a stock of vine-plants, imported by Francis I. from the island of Cyprus. These did not come from that town, but grew against the naked wall in S_____i's garden. From this you may form a judgment of the climate of Paris.
The persons with whom I have had any correspondence, respecting literature, vie with each other in shewing me every mark of cordial hospitality; and those to whom I have been introduced, are by no means backward in friendly attention. All the lovers of science here seem to rejoice that the communication, which has been so long interrupted between the two countries, promises to be shortly re-opened.
After dining yesterday with Mr. M___y, the British minister, in company with Mr. D_____n, the member for Ilchester, we all three went to an exhibition almost facing Mr. M___y's residence in the Rue St. Dominique. This was the third time of its being open to the public. As it is of a novel kind, some account of it may not be uninteresting. In French, it is denominated
or stoves which afford heat and light on an economical plan.
The author of this invention, for which a patent has been obtained, is M. LEBON [Philippe Lebon (1767-1804), engineer and chemist, Lebon was issued a patent on 28 September 1799 for his thermolampe (heat lamp) using gas distilled from wood for lighting and the heating. In 1801 Lebon displayed his invention, which reportedly smelled awful, at the hôtel Seignelay in Paris. Invited to prepare a huge lighting display for Napoleon's coronation, Lebon was murdered on the day of the coronation. Lebon also invented the first gas engine.], an engineer of bridges and highways. The place of exhibition was the ground floor of one of the large hotels in the Faubourg St. Germain, on which was a suite of rooms, extremely favourable for displaying the effect of this new method of lighting and warming apartments.
In lieu of fire or candle, on the chimney stood a large crystal globe, in which appeared a bright and clear flame diffusing a very agreeable heat; and on different pieces of furniture were placed candlesticks with metal candles, from the top of each of which issued a steady light, like that of a lamp burning with spirits of wine. These different receptacles were supplied with inflammable gas by means of tubes communicating with an apparatus underneath. By this contrivance, in short, all the apartments were warmed very comfortably, and illuminated in a brilliant manner.
On consulting M. LEBON, he communicated to me the following observations: "You may have remarked, "he said, "in sitting before a fire, that wood sometimes burns without flame, but with much smoke, and then you experience little heat, sometimes with flame, but with little smoke, and then you find much warmth. You may have remarked too, that ill-made charcoal emits smoke; it is, on that account, susceptible of flaming again; and the characteristic difference between wood and charcoal is, that the latter has lost, together with its smoke, the principle and aliment of flame, without which you obtain but little heat. Experience next informs us, that this portion of smoke, the aliment of flame, is not an oily vapour condensable by cooling, but a gas, a permanent air, which may be washed, purified, conducted, distributed, and afterwards turned into flame at any distance from the hearth.
"It is almost needles," continued he, "to point out the formation of verdigrise, white lead, and a quantity of other operations, in which acetous acid is employed. I shall only remark that it is this pyroligneous acid which penetrates smoked meat and fish, that it has an effect on leather which it hardens, and that the thermolampes are likely to render tanning-mills unnecessary, by furnishing the tan without further trouble. But to return to the aëriform principle.
"This aliment of flame is deprived of those humid vapours, so perceptible and so disagreeable to the organs of sight and smell. Purified to a perfect transparency, it floats in the state of cold air, and suffers itself to be directed by the smallest and most fragil [sic] pipes. Chimnies of an inch square, made in the thickness of the plaster of ceilings or walls, tubes even of gummed silk would answer this purpose. The end alone of the tube, which, by bringing the inflammable gas into contact with the atmospheric air, allows it to catch fire, and on which the flame reposes, ought to be of metal.
"By a distribution so easy to be established, a single stove may supply the place of all the chimnies of a house. Every where inflammable air is ready to diffuse immediately heat and light of the most glowing or most mild nature, simultaneously or separately, according to your wishes. In the twinkling of an eye, you may conduct the flame from one room to another; an advantage equally convenient and economical, and which can never be obtained with our common stoves and chimnies. No sparks, no charcoal, no soot, to trouble you; no ashes, no wood, to soil your apartments. By night, as well as by day, you can have a fire in your room, without a servant being obliged to look after it. Nothing in the thermolampes, not even the smallest portion of inflammable air, can escape combustion; while in our chimnies, torrents evaporate, and even carry off with them the greater part of the heat produced.
"The advantage of being able to purify and proportion, in some measure, the principles of the gas which feeds the flame is," said M. LEBON, "set forth in the clearest manner. But this flame is so subjected to our caprice, that even to tranquilize the imagination, it suffers itself to be confined in a crystal globe, which is never tarnished, and thus presents a filter previous to light and heat. A part of the tube that conducts the inflammable air, carries off, out of doors, the produce of this combustion, which, nevertheless, according to the experiments of modern chymists, can scarcely be any thing more than aqueous vapour.
"Who cannot but be fond of having recourse to a flame so subservient? It will dress your victuals, which, as well as your cooks, will not be exposed to the vapour of charcoal; it will warm again those dishes on your table; dry your linen; heat your oven, and the water for your baths or your washing, with every economical advantage that can be wished. No moist or black vapours; no ashes, no breeze, to make a dirt, or oppose the communication of heat; no useless loss of caloric; you may, by shutting an opening, which is no longer necessary for placing the wood in your oven, compress and coerce the torrents of heat that were escaping from it.
"It may easily be conceived, that an inflammable principle so docile and so active may be made to yield the most magnificent illuminations. Streams of fire finely drawn out, the duration, colour, and form of which may be varied at pleasure, the motion of suns and turning-columns, must produce an effect no less agreeable than brilliant." Indeed, this effect was exhibited on the garden façade of M. LEBON's residence.
"Wood," concluded he, "yields in condensable vapours two thirds of its weight; those vapours may therefore be employed to produce effects of our steam-engines, and it is needless to borrow this succour from foreign water."
P. S. On the 1st of last Vendémiaire, (23rd of September), the government presented to the Chief Consul [Napoleon] a sword, whose hilt was adorned with fourteen diamonds, the largest of which, called the Regent [Smuggled out of India in the seventeenth century, the discoverer of the diamond (which weighed 410 carats in the rough) was murdered and the diamond sold to an Iranian merchant. In 1702, it was sold to Thomas Pitt, governor of Madras. In 1717, Pitt sold the gem to Philippe, duke of Orleans, Regent of France. It graced the crown of Louis XV at his coronation in 1722, and was worn by Marie Antoinette a generation later. In 1792, the diamond was stolen during the looting during the French Revolution. Recovered, it was given as security for a war loan in 1797 but redeemed five years later. In 1804, the diamond was placed in the hilt of Napoleon's coronation sword. In 1814, following Napoleon's abdication, Marie Louise took the jewel with her to Vienna. The Regent was later returned to France. Charles X wore the Regent at his coronation in 1825, and was later placed in a crown for the Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III.], from its having been purchased by the Duke of Orleans, when Regent, weighs 184 carats. This is the celebrated Pitt diamond, of which we have heard so much: but its weight is exceeded by that of the diamond purchased by the late empress of Russia, which weighs 194 carats; not to speak of the more famous diamond, in possession of the Great Mogul, which is said to weigh 280 carats.
Plan on which these letters are written.
Paris, October 24, 1801.
LAST night I received yours of the 20th ult. and as Mr. M___y purposes to send off a dispatch this morning, and will do me the favour to forward this, with my former letters, I hasten to write you a few lines.
I scarcely need to assure you, my dear friend, that I will, with pleasure, communicate to you my remarks on this great city and its inhabitants, and describe to you, as far as I am able, the principal curiosities which it contains, particularizing, as you desire, those recently placed here by the chance of war; and giving you a succinct, historical account of the most remarkable national establishments and public buildings. But to pass in review the present state of the arts, sciences, literature, manners, &c. &c. in this capital, and contrast it with that which existed before the revolution, is a task indeed; and far more, I fear, than it will be in my power to accomplish.
However, if you will be content to gather my observations as they occur; to listen to my reflections, while the impression of the different scenes which produced them, is still warm in my mind; in short, to take a faithful sketch, in lieu of a finished picture, I will do the best I can for your satisfaction.
Relying on your indulgence, you shall know the life I lead: I will, as it were, take you by the arm, and, wherever I go, you shall be my companion. Perhaps, by pursuing this plan, you will not, at the expiration of three or four months, think your time unprofitably spent. Aided by the experience acquired by having occasionally resided here, for several months together, before the revolution, it will be my endeavour to make you as well acquainted with Paris, as I shall then hope to be myself. For this purpose, I will lay under contribution every authority, both written and oral, worthy of being consulted.
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.
Paris, October 26, 1801.
FROM particular passages in you letter, I clearly perceive your anxiety to be introduced among those valuable antiques which now adorn the banks of the Seine. On that account, I determined to postpone all other matters, and pay my first visit to the CENTRAL MUSEUM OF THE ARTS, established in the
But, before we enter the interior of this building, it may not be amiss to give you some account of its construction, describe to you its exterior beauties.
The origin of this palace, as well as the etymology of its name, is lost in the darkness of time. It is certain, however, that it existed, under the appellation of Louvre [A decree of 26 May 1791 created the Musée français in the Louvre. The collections were expanded by art obtained from the French conquests in the Low Countries, the Rhineland and in Italy. Later renamed the Musée Napoléon, from November 1802 the museum was under the direction of Dominique Vivant Denon (1747-1825).] in the reign of Philip Augustus, who surrounded it with ditches and towers, and made it a fortress. The great tower of the Louvre, celebrated in history, was insulated, and built in the middle of the court. All the great feudatories of the crown derived their tenure from this tower, and came hither to swear allegiance and pay homage: "It was," says St. Foix, "a prison previously prepared for them, if they violated their oaths.* (* Essais historiques sur Paris.")" Three Counts of Flanders were confined in it at different periods.
The Louvre, far from being cheerful from its construction, received also from this enormous tower a melancholy and terrifying aspect which rendered it unworthy of being a royal residence. Charles V. endeavoured to enliven and embellish this gloomy abode, and made it tolerably commodious for those times. Several foreign monarchs successively lodged in it; such as Manuel, emperor of Constantinople; Sigismund, emperor of Germany; and the emperor Charles the Fifth.
This large tower of the Louvre, which had, at different periods, served as a palace to the kings of France, as a prison to the great lords, and as a treasury to the state, was at length taken down in 1528.
The Tower of the Library was famous, among several others, because it contained that of Charles V. the most considerable on of the time, and in which the number of volumes amounted to nine hundred.
The part of this palace which, at the present day, is called the Old Louvre, was begun under Francis I. from the plan of PIERRE LESCOT, abbot of Clugny; and the sculpture was executed by JEAN GOUGEON, whose minute correctness is particularly remarkable in the festoons of the frieze of the second order, and in the devices emblematic of the amours of Henry II. This edifice, though finished, was not inhabited during the reign of that king, but it was by his son Charles IX.
Under him, the Louvre became the bloody theatre of treacheries and massacres which time will never efface from the memory of mankind, and which, till the merciless reign of Robespierre, were unexampled in the history of this country. I mean the horrors of St. Bartholemew's [sic] day [Beginning on 24 August 1572, St. Bartholomew's Day, and lasting three days, there was a wave of popular killings of Huguenots by the Paris mob. Early on 24 August several dozen Huguenot leaders had been assassinated. It is estimated that about 2,000 French Protestants were murdered in Paris. The murders continued throughout France for several months.].
While the alarmed citizens were swimming across the river to escape from death, Charles IX. from a window of this palace, was firing at them with his arquebuse. During that period of the revolution, when all means were employed to excite and strengthen the enmity of the people against their kings, this act of atrocity was called to their mind by an inscription placed under the very window, which looks on the Quai du Louvre.
Indeed, this instance of Charles's barbarity is fully corroborated by historians. "When it was day-light," says Brantome, "the king peeped out of his chamber-window, and seeing some people in the Faubourg St. Germain moving about and running away, he took a large arquebuse which he had ready at hand, and, calling out incessantly: Kill, kill! fired a great many shots at them, but in vain; for the piece did not carry so far."—This prince, according to Masson, piqued himself on his dexterity in cutting off at a single blow the head of the asses and pigs which he met with on his way. Lansac, one of his favourites, having found him one day with his sword drawn and ready to strike his mule, asked him seriously: "What quarrel has then happened between His Most Christian Majesty and my mule?" Murad Bey far surpassed this blood-thirsty monarch in address and strength. The former, we are told by travellers in Egypt, has been known, when riding past an ox, to cut off its head with one stroke of his scimitar.
The capital was dyed with the blood of Charles's murdered subjects. Into this very Louvre, into the chamber of Marguerite de Valois, the king's sister, and even to her bed, in which she was then lying, did the fanatics pursue the officers belonging to the court itself, as is circumstantially related by that princess in her Memoirs.
Let us draw the curtain on these scenes of horror, and pass rapidly from this period of fanaticism and cruelty, when the Louvre was stained by so many crimes to times more happy, when this palace became the quirt cradle of the arts and sciences, the school for talents, the arena for genius, and the asylum of artists and literati.
The centre pavilion over the principal gate of the Old Louvre, was erected under the reign of Lewis XIII. from the designs of LE MERCIER, as well as the angle of the left part of the building, parallel to that built by Henry II. The eight gigantic cariatides which are there seen, were sculptured by SARRASIN.
The façade towards the Jardin de l'Infante, (as it is called), that towards the Place du Louvre, and that over the little gate, towards the river, which were constructed under the reigns of Charles IX. and Henry III. in the midst of the civil wars of the League, partake of the taste of the time, in regard to the multiplicity of the ornaments; but the interior announces, by the majesty of its decorations, the refined taste of Lewis XIV.
The part of the Louvre, which, with the two sides of the old building, forms the perfect square, three hundred and seventy-eight feet* (* It may be necessary to observe that, throughout these letters, we always speak of French feet. The English foot is to the French as 12 to 12.789, or as 4 to 4.263.) in extent, called the New Louvre, consists in two double façades, which are still unfinished. LE VEAU, and after him D'ORBAY, were the architects under whose direction this augmentation was made by order of Lewis XIV.
That king at first resolved to continue the Louvre on the plan begun by Francis I.: for some tome he caused it to be pursued, but having conceived a more grand and magnificent design, he ordered the foundation of the superb edifice now standing, to be laid on the 17th of October 1665, under the administration of COLBERT.
Through a natural prejudice, Lewis XIV. thought that he could find no where but in Italy an artist sufficiently skilful to execute his projects of magnificence. He sent for Cavaliere BERNINI from Rome. This artist, whose reputation was established, was received in France with all the pomp due to princes of the blood. The king ordered that, in the towns through which he might pass, he should be complimented, and receive presents from the corporations, &c.
BERNINI was loaded with wealth and honours: notwithstanding the prepossession of the court in favour of this Italian architect, notwithstanding his talents, he did not succeed in his enterprise. After having forwarded the foundation of this edifice, he made a pretext of the impossibility of spending the winter in a climate colder than that of Italy. "He was promised," says St. Foix, "three thousand louis a year if he would stay; but," he said, "he would positively go and die in his own country." On the eve of his departure, the king sent him three thousand louis, with the grant of a pension of five hundred. He received the whole with great coolness.
Several celebrated architects now entered the lists to complete this grand undertaking. MANSARD presented his plans, with which COLBER was extremely pleased: the king also approved of them, and absolutely insisted on their being executed without any alteration. MANSARD replied that he would rather renounce the glory of building this edifice than the liberty of correcting himself, and changing his design, when he thought he could improve it. Among the competitors was CLAUDE PERRAULT [(1613-1688), physician, architect, inventor, scientist, member of the Academy of Sciences, won prizes for physics and chemistry, author of treatises on physics and zoology.], that physician so defamed by Boileau, the poet. His plans were preferred, and merited the preference. Many pleasantries were circulated at the expense of the new medical architect; and PERRAULT replied to those sarcasms, by producing the beautiful colonnade of the Louvre, the master-piece of French architecture, and the admiration of all Europe.
The façade of this colonnade, which is of the Corinthian order, is five hundred and twenty-five feet in length: it is divided into two peristyles and three avant corps. The principal gate is in the centre avant-corps, which is decorated with eight double columns, crowned by a pediment, whose raking cornices are composed of two stones only, each fifty-four feet in length by eight in breadth, though no more than eighteen inches in thickness. They were taken from the quarries of Meudon, and formed [of] but one single block, which was sawed into two. The other two avant-corps are ornamented by six pilasters, and two columns of the same order, and disposed in the same manner. On the top, in lieu of a ridged roof, is a terrace, bordered by a stone balustrade, the pedestals of which are intended to bear trophies intermixed with vases.
PERRAULT's enemies disputed with him the invention of this mater-piece. The maintained that it belonged to LE VEAU, the architect; but, since the discovery of the original manuscript and drawings of PERRAULT, there no longer remains a doubt respecting the real author of this beautiful production.
In front of this magnificent colonnade, a multitude of salesmen erect stalls, and there display quantities of old clothes, rags, &c. This contrast, as Mercier justly remarks, still speaks to the eye of the attentive observer. It is the image of all the rest, grandeur and beggary, side by side.
However, it is not on the outside of these walls only, that beggary has been so nearly allied to grandeur. At least we have a solitary instance of this truth of a very striking nature.
Cardinal de Retz tell us, that going one morning to the Louvre to see the Queen of England, he found her in the chamber of her daughter, afterwards Dutchess [sic] of Orleans, and that she said to him: "You see, I come to keep Henriette company: the poor girl could not leave her bed to-day, for want of fuel."—It is true, he adds, that, for six months past Cardinal Mazarin had not paid her pension; the tradesmen would no longer give her credit, and she had not a piece of wood to warn her.
Like St. Paul's in London, the façade of the Louvre cannot be seen to the best advantage, on account of the proximity of the surrounding buildings; and, like many other great undertakings too, will, probably, never be completed, but remain a monument of the fickleness of the nation.
Lewis XIV, after having for a long time made the Louvre his residence, abandoned it for Versailles: "Sire," said Dufreny once to that prince, "I never look at the New Louvre, without exclaiming, superb monument of the magnificence of our greatest kings, you would have been finished, had you been given to one of the begging orders of friars!" From that period, the Louvre was wholly consecrated to the sittings of different academies, and to the accommodation of several men of science and artists, to whom free apartments were allotted.
I much regret having, for this year at least, lost a sight here, which I should have viewed with no inconsiderable degree of attention. This is the
PUBLIC EXHIBITION OF THE PRODUCTIONS OF FRENCH INDUSTRY.
Under the directorial government, this exhibition was opened in the Champ de Mars; but it now takes place, annually, in the square of the Louvre, during the five complementary days of the republican calendar; namely, from the 18th to the 22nd of September, both inclusive.
The exhibition not only includes manufactures of every sort, but also every new discovery, invention, and improvement. For the purpose of displaying these objects to advantage, temporary buildings are erected along the four interior walls of this square, each of which are subdivided into twenty-five porticoes; so that the whole square of the Louvre, during that period, represents a fair with a hundred booths. The resemblance, I am told, is rendered still more perfect by the prodigious crowd; persons of all ranks being indiscriminately admitted to view these productions. Precautions, however, are taken to prevent the indiscreet part of the public from rushing into the porticoes, and sentinels are posted at certain intervals to preserve order.
This, undoubtedly, is a very laudable institution, and extremely well calculated to excite emulation in the national manufactures, specimens of which being sent from all the principal manufacturing towns, the hundred porticoes may be said to comprise an epitome of the present state of all the flourishing manufactures of France. Indeed, none but new inventions and articles of finished workmanship, the fabrication of which is known, are suffered to make part of the exhibition. Even these are not admitted till after a previous examination, and on the certificate of a private jury of five members, appointed for that purpose by the prefect of each department. A new jury, composed of fifteen members, nominated by the Minister of the Interior, again examine the different articles admitted; and agreeably to their decision, the government award premiums and medals to those persons who have made the greatest improvement in any particular fabric or branch of industry, or produced any new discovery or invention. The successful candidates are presented to the Chief Consul by the Minister of the Interior, and have the honour of dining with him at his public monthly dinner.
From all that I can learn concerning this interesting exhibition, it appears, that, though the useful arts, in general, cannot at present be put in competition here with those of a similar description among us, the object of the French government is to keep up a spirit of rivalship, and encourage, by every possible means, the improvement of those manufactures in which England is acknowledged to surpass other countries.
I am reminded that it is time to prepare for going out to dinner. I must therefore not leave this letter, like the Louvre, unfinished. Fortunately, my good friend, the prevailing fashion here is to dine very late, which leaves me a long morning; but for this, I know not when I should have an opportunity of writing long letters. Restrain then your impatience, and I promise that you shall very shortly be ushered into the GALLERY OF ANTIQUES,
"Where the smooth chisel all its force has shewn,
And soften'd into flesh the rugged stone."
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.
Paris, October 28, 1801.
HAVING, in my last letter, described to you the outside of the Louvre, (with the exception of the Great Gallery, of which I shall speak more at length in another place), I shall now proceed to give you an account of some of the principal national establishments contained within its walls.
Before the revolution, the Louvre was, as I have said, the seat of the different academies, such as the French Academy, the Academy of Sciences, the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles Lettres, the Academy of Painting and Sculpture, and the Academy of Architecture. All of these are replaced by the National Institute of Arts and Sciences, of which, however, I shall postpone further mention till I conduct you to one of its public sittings.
At the period to which I revert, there existed in the Louvre a hall, called the Salle des Antiques, where, besides, some original statues by French artists, were assembled models in plaster of the most celebrated master-pieces of sculpture in Italy, together with a small number of antiques. In another apartment, forming part of those assigned to the Academy of Painting, and called the Galérie d'Apollon, were seen several pictures, chiefly of the French school; and it was intended that the Great Gallery should be formed into the Museum, containing a collection of the finest pictures and statues at the disposal of the crown.
This plan, which had partly been carried into execution under the old régime, is now completed, but in a manner infinitely more magnificent than could possibly have been effected without the advantages of conquest. The Great Gallery and the Saloon of the Louvre are solely appropriated to the expedition of pictures of the old masters of the Italian, Flemish, and French schools; and the Gallery of Apollo to that of their drawings; while a suite of lofty apartments has been purposely fitted up in this palace for the reception of original antiques, in lieu of those copies of them before-mentioned. In other rooms, adjoining to the Great Gallery, are exhibited, as formerly, that is during one month every year, the productions of living painters, sculptors, architects, and draughtsmen.
These different exhibitions are placed under the superintendance of a board of management, or an administration, (as the French term it), composed of a number of antiquaries, artists, and men of science, inferior to none in Europe in skill, judgment, taste, or erudition. The whole of this grand establishment bears the general title of
CENTRAL MUSEUM OF THE ARTS.
The treasures of painting and sculpture which the French nation have acquired by the success of their arms, or by express conditions in treaties of alliance or neutrality, are so immense as to enable them, not only to render this CENTRAL MUSEUM the grandest collection of master-pieces in the world, but also to establish fifteen departmental Museums in fifteen of the principal towns of France. This measure, evidently intended to favour the progress of the fine arts, will ease Paris of a great number of the pictures, statues, &c. amassed here from different parts of France, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Italy, Piedmont, Savoy, and the States of Venice.
If you cast your eye on the annexed Plan of Paris, and suppose yourself near the exterior south-west angle of the Louvre, or, as it is more emphatically styled, the NATIONAL PALACE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES, you will be in the right-hand corner of the Place du Louvre, in which quarter is the present entrance to the CENTRAL MUSEUM OF THE ARTS. Here, after passing through a court, you enter a vestibule, on the left of which is the Hall of the Administration of the Museum. On the ground-floor, facing the door of this vestibule, is the entrance to the
GALLERY OF ANTIQUES.
In this gallery, which was, for the first time, opened to the public on the 18th Brumaire, year ix. of the French republic, (9th of November 1800), are now distributed no than one hundred and forty-six statues, busts, and bas-reliefs. It consists of several handsome apartments, bearing appropriate denominations, according to the principal subjects which each contains. Six only are at present completely arranged for public inspection: but many others are in a state of preparation.
The greater part of the statues here exhibited, are the fruit of the conquests of the army of Italy. Conformably to the treaty of Tolentino [Under the terms of the Treaty of Tolentino of 1797, many of the most famous works from the Papal collections were transferred to France.], they were selected at Rome, from the Capitol and the Vatican, by BARTHÉLEMY [Jean-Simon Barthélemy (1743-1811), painter.], BERTHOLET [Claude-Louis Berthollet (1749-1822), chemist, one of the savants of the Egyptian Expedition (1798), senator during the Empire.], MIOTTE [Jean-Guillaume Moitte (1746-1810), sculptor.], MONGE [Gaspard Monge, comte de Péluse (1746-1818), mathematician, inventor of descriptive geometry, member of the Académie, Minister of the Navy (1792-1793), a founder and director of the École Polytechnique, accompanied Napoleon on the Egyptian Expedition (1798), president of the Institut d'Egypte, senator during the Empire.], THOUIN [André Thouin (1747-1824), botanist, contributor to the Encyclopédie, Gardener to the French King, member of the Institute.], and TINET [J.-P. Tinet, painter.], who were appointed, by the French government, commissioners for the research of objects appertaining to the Arts and Sciences [The practice of confiscating art to be brought back to France began with the Revolutionary governments and continued under Napoleon. Paintings taken from Belgium in 1794 were joined by works of art from Italy in 1797. In the end of December 1797, a banquet was held in the Grande Galerie in honor of Napoleon. In July 1798, a triumphal parade of the confiscated works was held, with the Laocoön being carried to the museum by chariots. The surrender of works of art by the losing side in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars was often written into treaties. Special commissions were set up to select the most valuable pieces of art. In June 1796, for instance, Napoleon wrote: "The Modena pictures have started. Citoyen Barthélemy is now engaged selecting the Bologna ones. He expects to take about fifty. Monge, Berthollet, and Thouin are at Pavia, at work adding to our natural history specimens. I hope they will not overlook a complete collection of snakes which seemed to be well worth the journey."]
In the vestibule, for the moderate price of fifteen sous, is sold a catalogue, which is not merely a barren index, but a perspicuous and satisfactory explanation of the different objects that strike the eye of the admiring spectator as he traverses the GALLERY OF ANTIQUES. It is by no means my intention to transcribe this catalogue, or to mention every statue; but, assisted by the valuable observations with which I was favoured by the learned antiquary, VISCONTI [Ennio Quirino Visconti (1751-1818), archaeologist, conservator of the Capitoline Museum at Rome, a consul of the Roman republic (1798), member of the Institute (1803).], long distinguished for his profound knowledge of the fine arts, I shall describe the most remarkable only, and such as would fix the attention of the connoisseur.
On entering the gallery, you might, perhaps, be tempted to stop in the first hall; but we will visit them all in regular succession, and proceed to that which is now the furthest on the left hand. The ceiling of this apartment by ROMANELLI, represents the four seasons; whence it is called the
HALL OF THE SEASONS.
In consequence, among other antiques, here are placed the statues of the rustic divinities, and those relating to the Seasons. Of the whole, I shall distinguish the following:
No. 210. DIANA.
Diana [This statue, "Artemis the Huntress," called "Diana of Versailles," is a Roman adaptation after an original bronze created c. 330 BC by Leochares.], habited as a huntress, in a short tunic without sleeves, is holding her bow in one hand; while, with the other, she is drawing an arrow from her quiver, which is suspended at her shoulder. Her legs are bare, and her feet are adorned with rich sandals. The goddess, with a look expressive of indignation, appears to be defending the fabulous hind from the pursuit of Hercules, who, in obedience to the oracle of Apollo, was pursuing it, in order to carry it alive to Eurystheus; a task imposed on him by the latter as one of his twelve labours.
To say that, in the opinion of the first-rate connoisseurs, this statue might serve as a companion to the Apollo of Belvedere, is sufficient to convey an idea of its perfection; and, in fact, it is reckoned the finest representation of Diana in existence. It is of Parian marble, and, according to historians, has been in France ever since the reign of Henry IV. It was the most perfect of the antiques which adorned the Gallery of Versailles. The parts wanting have been recently restored with such skill as to claim particular admiration.
In this bust, the city of Rome is personified as an Amazon. The helmet of the female warrior is adorned with a representation of the she-wolf suckling the children of Mars.
This antique, of Parian marble, is of a perfect Greek style, and in admirable preservation. It formerly belonged to the Gallery of Richelieu-Castle.
51. ADOLESCENS SPINAM AVELLENS.
This bronze figure [Known as the "Spinario."] represents a young man seated, who seems employed in extracting a thorn from his left foot.
It is a production of the flourishing period of the art, but, according to appearance, anterior to the reign of Alexander the Great. It partakes a little of the meagre style of the old Greek school; but, at the same time, is finished with astonishing truth, and exhibits a graceful simplicity of expression. In what place it was originally discovered is not known. It was taken from the Capitol, where it was seen in the Palazzo dei Conservatori [The statue was returned to Rome after the defeat of Napoleon.].
50. A FAUN, in a resting posture.
This young faun, with no other covering than a deer's skin thrown over his shoulders, is standing with his legs crossed, and leaning on the trunk of a tree, as if resting himself.
The grace and finished execution that reign throughout this figure, as well as the immense number of copies still existing of it, and all antiques, occasion it to be considered as the copy of the Faun in bronze, (or Satyr as it is termed by the Greeks), of Praxiteles. That statue was so celebrated, that the epithet of perifhmoz, or the famous, became its distinctive appellation throughout Greece.
This Faun is of Pentelic marble: it was found in 1701, near Civita Lavinia, and placed in the Capitol by Benedict XIV. [This statue, from the 4th century B.C.E., also known as the Resting Satyr, was returned to Rome, and was the inspiration of Nathaniel Hawthorne's story, The Marble Faun.]
59. ARIADNE, known by the name of CLEOPATRA.
In this beautiful figure, Ariadne is represented asleep on a rock in the Isle of Naxos, abandoned by the faithless Theseus, and at the moment when Bacchus became enamored of her, as described by several ancient poets.
It is astonishing how the expression of sleep could be mistaken for that of death, and cause this figure to be called Cleopatra. The serpent on the upper part of the left arm is evidently a bracelet, of that figure which the Greek women called οφδιου, or the little serpent.
For three successive centuries, this statue of Parian marble constituted one of the principal ornaments of the Belvedere of the Vatican, where it was placed by Julius II.
This head of Augustus, adorned with the civic crown of oak leaves, is one of the fine portraits of that emperor. It is executed in Parian marble, and comes from Verona, where it was admired in the Bevilacqua cabinet.
On quitting the HALL OF THE SEASONS, we return to that through which we first passed to reach it. This apartment, from being ornamented with the statues of ZENO, TRAJAN, DEMOSTHENES, and PHOCION, is denominated the
HALL OF ILLUSTRIOUS MEN.
It is decorated with eight antique granite pillars brought from Aix-la-Chapelle, where they stood in the nave of the church, which contained the tomb of Charlemagne.
Among the antiques placed in it, I shall particularize
No. 75. MENANDER.
This figure represents the poet, honoured by the Greeks with the title of Prince of the New Comedy, sitting on a hemi-cycle, or semicircular seat, and resting after his literary labours. He is clad in the Grecian tunic and pallium.
The dress of Posidippus, who was reckoned among the Greeks one of the best authors of what was called the New Comedy, is nearly that of Menander, the poet. Like him, he is represented sitting on a hemi-cycle.
These two statues, which are companions, are admirable for the noble simplicity of their execution. They are both of Pentelic marble, and found in the XVIth century at Rome, in the gardens of the convent of San Lorenzo, on Mount Viminal. After making part of the baths of Olympius, they were placed by Sixtus V. at Negroni, whence they were removed to the Vatican by Pius VI.
Continuing our examination, after leaving the HALL OF ILLUSTRIOUS MEN, we next come to the
HALL OF THE ROMANS.
The ceiling of this hall is ornamented with subjects taken from the Roman history, painted by ROMANELLI; and in it are chiefly assembled such works of sculpture as have a relation to that people.
Among the several busts and statues, representing ADRIAN [Hadrian], PUBLIUS CORNELIUS SCIPIO, MARCUS JUNIUS BRUTUS, LUCIUS JUNIUS BRUTUS, CICERO, &c. I shall point out to your notice,
209. The TORSO of BELVEDERE.
This admirable remnant of a figure seated, though the head, arms, and legs are wanting, represents the apotheosis of Hercules. The lion's skin spread on the rock, and the enormous size of the limbs, leave no doubt as to the subject of the statue. Notwithstanding the muscles are strongly marked, the veins in the body of the hero are suppressed, whence antiquaries have inferred, that the intention of the author was to indicate the very moment of deification. According to this idea, our countryman FLAXMAN has immortalized himself by restoring a copy of the Torso, and placing Hebe on the left of Hercules, in the act of presenting to him the cup of immortality. [The famous Belvedere Torso was returned to Rome in 1816.]
On the rock, where the figure is seated, is the following Greek inscription:
By which we are informed, that it is the production of APOLLONIUS, the Athenian, the son of Nestor, who, probably, flourished in the time of Pompey the Great.
This valuable antique is of Pentelic marble, and sculptured in a most masterly style. It was found at Rome, near Pompey's theatre, now Campo di Fiore. Julius II. placed it in the garden of the Vatican, where it was long the object of the studies of MICHAEL ANGELO, RAPHAEL, &c. those illustrious geniuses, to whom we are indebted for the improvements of the fine arts. Among artists, it has always been distinguished by the appellation of the Torso of Belvedere.
94. A wounded warrior, commonly called the GLADIATOR MORIENS.
This figure, represents a barbarian soldier, dying on the field of battle, without surrendering. It is remarkable for truth of imitation, of a choice nature, though not sublime, (because the subject would not admit of it,) and for nobleness of expression, which is evident without affectation.
This statue formerly belonged to the Villa-Ludovisi, whence it was removed to the Museum of the Capitol by Clement XII. It is from the chisel of AGASIAS, a sculptor of Ephesus, who lived 450 years before the Christian era.
This charming figure is rather that of a Muse than of the goddess of agriculture. It is admirable for the ideal beauty of the drapery. She is clad in a tunic; over this is thrown a mantle, the execution of which is so perfect, that, through it, are perceived the knots of strings which fasten the tunic below the bosom.
It formerly belonged to the Villa-Mattei, on Mount Esquiline; but was taken from the Museum of the Vatican, where it had been placed by Clement XIV.
80. A Roman orator, called GERMANICUS.
Hitherto this admirable figure of a Roman orator, with the attributes of Mercury, the god of eloquence, has passed for that of Germanicus, though it is manifestly too old for him. Here we have another model of beautiful elegance of form, though not of an ideal sublimity.
On the shell of a tortoise, at the foot of the statue, is inscribed in beautiful Greek characters:
Whence we learn that it is the production of CLEOMENES, an Athenian artist, mentioned by Pliny, and who flourished towards the end of the Roman republic, about 500 years before Christ. This statue was taken from the Gallery of Versailles, where it had been placed in the reign of Lewis XIV. It formerly belonged to the garden of Sixtus V. at Villa-Montalto, in Rome.
97. ANTINOÜS, called the ANTINOÜS OF THE CAPITOL.
In this monument, Adrian's favourite is represented as having scarcely attained the age of puberty. He is naked, and his attitude has some affinity to that of Mercury. However, his countenance seems to be impressed with that cast of melancholy, by which all his portraits are distinguished. Hence has been applied to him that verse of Virgil on Marcellus:
"Sed frons læta parum, et dejecto lumina vultu."
This beautiful figure, of Carrara marble, is sculptured in a masterly manner. It comes from the Museum of the Capitol, and previously belonged to the collection of Cardinal Alessandro Albani. The fore-arm and left leg are modern.
In this colossal bust of the Bithynian youth, are some peculiarities which call to mind the images of the Egyptian god Harpocrates. It is finely executed in hard Greek marble, and comes from the Museum of the Vatican. As recently as the year 1790, it was dug from the ruins of the Villa-Fede at Tivoli.
But enough for to-day—to-morrow I will resume my pen, and we will complete our survey of the GALLERY OF ANTIQUES.
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.
Paris, October 29, 1801.
IF the culture of the arts, by promoting industry and increasing commerce, improves civilization, and refines manners, what modern people can boast of such advantages as are now enjoyed by the French nation? While the sciences keep pace with the arts, good taste bids fair to spread, in time, from the capital throughout the country, and to become universal among them. In antiquity, Athens attests the truth of this proposition, by rising, through the same means, above all cities of Greece; and, in modern times, have we not seen in Florence, become opulent, the darkness of ignorance vanish, like a fog, before the bright rays of knowledge, diffused by the flourishing progress of the arts and sciences?
When I closed my letter yesterday, we had just terminated our examination of the HALL OF THE ROMANS. On the same line with it, the next apartment we reach, taking its name from the celebrated group here placed, is styled the
HALL OF THE LAOCOON
Here are to be admired four pillars of verde antico, a species of green marble, obtained by the ancients, from the environs of Thessalonica. They were taken from the church of Montmorency, where they decorated the tomb of Anne, the constable of that name. The first three apartments are floored with inlaid oak; but this is paved with beautiful marble.
Of the chefs d'œuvre exhibited in this hall, every person of taste cannot but feel particular gratification in examining the undermentioned:
No. 108. LAOCOON.
The pathetic story which forms the subject of this admirable group is known to every classic reader. It is considered as one of the most perfect works that ever came from the chisel; being at once a master-piece of composition, design, and feeling. Any sort of commentary could but weaken the impression which it makes on the beholder.
It was found in 1506, under the pontificate of Julius II, at Rome, on Mount Esquiline, in the ruins of the palace of Titus. The three Rhodian artists, AGESANDER, POLYDORUS, and ATHENODORUS, mentioned by Pliny, as the sculptors of this chef d'œuvre flourished during the time of the Emperors, in the first century of the christian era.
The group is composed of five blocks, but joined in so skilful a manner, that Pliny thought them one piece. The right arm of the father and two arms of the children are wanting. [There is a painting by Benjamin Zix representing Napoleon viewing the Laocoon Group at the Musée Napoléon by night. The statues were returned to the Vatican Museum after the fall of the Empire.]
This uncommonly beautiful figure of Parian marble represents a woman, whose feminine features and form seem to have contracted the impression of the masculine habits of warfare. Clad in a very fine tunic, which, leaving the left breast exposed, is tucked up on the hips, she is in the act of bending a large bow. No attitude could be better calculated for exhibiting at advantage the finely-modelled person of this heroine.
For two centuries, this statue was at the Villa-Mattei, on Mount Coelius at Rome, whence it was removed to the Museum of the Vatican by Clement XIV.
The son of Œneus, king of Calydon, with nothing but a chlamis fastened on his shoulders, and winding round his left arm, is here represented resting himself, after having killed the formidable wild boar, which was ravaging his domains; at his side is the head of the animal, and near him sits his faithful dog.
The beauty of this group is sublime, and yet it is of a different cast, from either that of the Apollo of Belvedere, or that of the Mercury, called Antinoüs, of which we shall presently have occasion to speak.
This group is of Greek marble of a cinereous colour: there are two different traditions respecting the place where it was found; but the preference is given to that of Aldroandi, who affirms that it was discovered in a vineyard bordering on the Tiber. It belonged to Fusconi, physician to Paul III, and was for a long time in the Pighini palace at Rome, whence Clement XIV had it conveyed to the Vatican,
103 and 104. Two busts, called TRAGEDY and COMEDY.
These colossal heads of Bacchantes adorned the entrance of the theatre of the Villa-Adriana at Tivoli. Though the execution of them is highly finished, it is no detriment to the grandeur of the style.
The one is of Pentelic marble; and the other, of Parian. Having been purchased of Count Fede by Pius VI, they were placed in the Museum of the Vatican.
This bust is particularly deserving of attention, on account of its beauty, its excellent preservation, and perfect resemblance to the medals which remain of Adrian's favourite.
It is of Parian marble of the finest quality, and had been in France long before the revolution.
112. ARIADNE, called (in the catalogue) BACCHUS.
Some sculptors have determined to call this beautiful head that of BACCHUS; while the celebrated VISCONTI, and other distinguished antiquaries, persist in preserving to it its ancient name of ARIADNE, by which it was known in the Museum of the Capitol.
Whichever it may be, it is of Pentelic marble, and unquestionably one of the most sublime productions of the chisel, in point of ideal beauty.
From the HALL OF THE LAOCOON, we pass into the apartment, which, from the famous statue, here erected, and embellished in the most splendid manner, takes the appellation of the
HALL OF THE APOLLO.
This hall is ornamented with four pillars of red oriental granite of the finest quality: those which decorate the niche of the Apollo were taken from the church that contained the tomb of Charlemagne at Aix-la-Chapelle. The floor is paved with different species of scarce and valuable marble, in large compartments, and, in its centre, is placed a large octagonal table of the same substance.
In proportion to the dimensions of this apartment, which is considerably larger than any of the others, a greater number of antiques are here placed, of which the following are the most pre-eminent.
No. 145. APOLLO PYTHIUS, commonly called the APOLLO OF BELVEDERE.
The name alone of this chef d'œuvre might be said to contain its eulogium. But as you may, probably, expect from me some remarks on it, I shall candidly acknowledge that I can do no better than communicate to you the able and interesting description given of it by the Administration of the Museum, of which the following is a fair abridgment.
"Apollo has just discharged the mortal arrow which has struck the serpent Python, while ravaging Delphi. In his left hand is held his formidable bow; his right has but an instant quitted it: all his members still preserve the impression given them by this action. Indignation is seated on his lips; but in his looks is the assurance of success. His hair, slightly curled, floats in long ringlets round his neck, or is gracefully turned up on the crown of his head, which is encircled by the strophium, or fillet, characteristic of kings and gods. His quiver is suspended by a belt to the right shoulder: his feet are adorned with rich sandals. His chalmis fastened on the shoulder, and tucked up only on the left arm, is thrown back, as if to display the majesty of his divine form to greater advantage.
"An eternal youth is spread over all his beautiful figure, a sublime mixture of nobleness and agility, of vigour and elegance, and which holds a happy medium between the delicate form of Bacchus, and the more manly one of Mercury."
This inimitable master-piece is of Carrara marble, and, consequently, was executed by some Greek artist who lived in the time of the Romans; but the name of its author is entirely unknown. The fore-arm and the left hand, which were wanting, were restored by GIOVANNI ANGELO DE MONTORSOLI, a sculptor, who was a pupil of Michael Angelo.
Towards the end of the fifteenth century, it was discovered at Capo d'Anzo, twelve leagues from Rome, on the sea-shore, near the ruins of the ancient Antium. Julius II, when cardinal, purchased this statue, and placed it in his palace; but shortly after, having arrived at the pontificate, he had it conveyed to the Belvedere of the Vatican, where, for three centuries, it was the admiration of the world.
On the 16th of Brumaire, year IX, (7th of November, 1801) BONAPARTE, as First Consul, celebrated, in great pomp, the inauguration of the Apollo; on which occasion he placed between the plinth of the statue, and its pedestal, a brass tablet bearing a suitable inscription. [The inscription stated, "The statue of Apollo, which stands on this pedestal.....found at Antium towards the end of the fifteenth century, placed in the Vatican by Julius the Second, at the commencement of the sixteenth century, and conquered in the fifth year of the Republic by the army of Italy, under the command of General Bonaparte.....was placed here on the 21st germinal in the year VIII. (11th April, 1800),—the first year of his consulate." A medal was struck in 1804 commemorating the event.]
The Apollo stands facing the entrance-door of the apartment, in an elevated recess, decorated, as I have before observed, with beautiful granite pillars. The flight of steps, leading to this recess, is paved with the rarest marble, inlaid with squares of curious antique mosaic, and on them are placed two Egyptian sphinxes of red oriental granite, taken from the Museum of the Vatican.
142. VENUS OF THE CAPITOL.
This figure of Parian marble represents the goddess of beauty issuing from the bath. Her charms are not concealed by any veil or garment. She is slightly turning her head to the left, as if to smile on the Graces, who are supposed to be preparing to attire her.
In point of execution, this is allowed to be the most beautiful of all the statues of Venus which we have remaining. The Venus of Medicis surpasses it in sublimity of form, approaching nearer to ideal beauty.
Bupalus, a sculptor of the Isle of Scio, is said to have produced this master-piece. He lived 600 years before Christ, so that it has now been in existence upwards of two thousand four hundred years. It was found about the middle of the eighteenth century, near San-Vitale, at Rome. Benedict VIV having purchased it of the Stati family, placed it in the Capitol.
125. MERCURY, commonly called the ANTINOÜS OF BELVEDERE.
This statue, also of the finest Parian marble, is one of the most beautiful that can be imagined. More robust in form than either that of the Apollo or the Meleager, it loses nothing by being contemplated after the former. In short, the harmony which reigns between its parts is such, that the celebrated POSSIN, in preference to every other, always took from it the proportions of the human figure.
It was found at Rome, on Mount Esquiline, under the pontificate of Paul III, who placed it in the Belvedere of the Vatican, near the Apollo and the Laocoon.
151. The Egyptian ANTINOÜS.
In this statue, Antinoüs is represented as a divinity of Egypt. He is standing in the usual attitude of the Egyptian gods, and is naked, with the exception of his head and wrist, which are covered with a species of drapery in imitation of the sacred garments.
This beautiful figure is wrought with superior excellence. It is of white marble, which leads to a conjecture that it might have been intended to represent Orus, the god of light, it having been the custom of the Egyptians to represent all their other divinities in coloured marble. It was discovered in 1738, at Tivoli, in the Villa-Adriana, and taken from the Museum of the Capitol.
To judge from the great number of figures of Antinoüs, sculptured by order of Adrian to perpetuate the memory of that favourite, the emperor's gratitude for him must have been unbounded. Under the form of different divinities, or at different periods of life, there are at present in the GALLERY OF ANTIQUES no less than five portraits of him, besides three statues and two busts. Three other statues of Antinoüs, together with a bust, and an excellent bass-relief [sic], in which he is represented, yet remain to be placed.
The god of wine is here represented standing, and entirely naked. He is leaning carelessly with his left arm on the trunk of an elm, round which winds a grape-vine.
This statue, of the marble called at Rome Greco duro, is reckoned one of the finest extant of the mirth-inspiring deity.
Having surveyed every object deserving of notice in the HALL OF THE APOLLO, we proceed, on the right hand, towards its extremity, and reach the last apartment of the gallery, which, from being consecrated to the tuneful Nine, is called the
HALL OF THE MUSES.
It is paved with curious marble, and independently of the Muses, and their leader, Apollo, here are also assembled the antique portraits of poets and philosophers who have rendered themselves famous by cultivating them. Among these we may perceive HOMER and VIRGIL; but the most remarkable specimen of the art is
No. 177 EURIPIDES.
In this hermes we have a capital representation of the features of the rival of Sophocles. The countenance is at once noble, serious, and expressive. It bears the stamp of the genius of that celebrated tragic poet, which was naturally sublime and profound, though inclined to the pathetic.
This hermes is executed in Pentelic marble, and was taken from the academy of Mantua.
Since the revival of the arts, the lovers of antiquity have made repeated attempts to form a collection of antique statues of the Muses; but none was ever so complete as that assembled in the Museum of the Vatican by Pius VI, and which the chance of war has now transferred to the banks of the Seine. Here the bard may offer up to them solemn invocation, and compose his lay, as it were, under their very eyes.
The statues of CLIO, THALIA, TERPSICHORE, ERATO, POLYHYMNIA, and CALLIOPE, together with APOLLO MUSAGETES, were discovered in 1774, at Tivoli, among the ruins of the villa of Cassius. To complete the number, Pius VI obtained the EUTERPE and the URANIA from the Lancellotti palace at Veletri. They are supposed to be antique copies of the statues of the Nine Muses by Philiscus, which according to Pliny, graced the portico of Octavia.
The air of grandeur that reigns in the general arrangement of the gallery is very striking: and the tasteful and judicious distribution of this matchless assemblage of antiques does great honour to the Council of the CENTRAL MUSEUM.
The alterations and embellishments made in the different apartments of the GALLERY of ANTIQUES have been executed under the immediate direction of their author, M. RAYMOND [Jean-Arnaud Raymond (1742-1811), architect, architect for the Louvre, worked on the design of the Arc de Triomphe de l'Etoile.], member of the National Institute, and architect to the NATIONAL PALACE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES. In winter, the apartments are kept warm by means of flues, which diffuse a genial vapour. Here, without the expense of a single liard, the young draughtsman may form his taste by studying the true antique models of Grecian sculpture; the more experienced artist may consult them as he finds occasion in the composition of his subjects; while the connoisseur, the amateur, or the simple observer may spend many an agreeable hour in contemplating these master-pieces which, for centuries, have inspired universal admiration.
These are the materials on which Genius ought to work, and without which the most promising talent may be greatly misapplied, if not entirely lost. It was by studying closely these correct models, that the great MICHAEL ANGELO, the sublime RAPHAEL, and other eminent masters, acquired that idea of excellence which is the result of the accumulated experience of successive ages. Here, in one visit, the student may imbibe those principles to ascertain which many artists have consumed the best part of their days; and penetrated by their effect, he is spared the laborious investigation by which they came to be known and established. It is unnecessary to expatiate on the advantages which the fine arts may expect to derive from such a repository of antiques in a capital so centrical as Paris [A point made by the French and others after the fall of Napoleon who argued against repatriating the confiscated art.. "It was further argued that it was for the advantage of civilization that these works of art should not be dispersed over a number of small cities in Italy which were not then, all of them, easily accessible, but that they should remain in a place which on the whole was so easily reached as Paris."—International Law by Henry Maine. New York: Holt and Co., 1888.] The contemplation of them cannot fail to fire the genius of any artist of taste, and prompt his efforts towards the attainment of that grand style, which, disdaining the minute accidental particularities of individual objects, improves partial representation by the general and invariable ideas of nature.
A vast collection of antiquities of every description is still expected from Italy, among which are the Venus of Medicis and the Pallas of Veletri, a finely-preserved statue, classed by artists among those of the first rank, dug up at Veletri in 1799, in consequence of the researches made there by order of the French commissioners. Upwards of five hundred cases were lying on the banks of the Tiber, at Rome, ready to be sent off to France, when the Neapolitans entered that city. They carried them all away: but by the last article of the treaty of peace with the king of Naples, the whole of them are to be restored to the French Republic. For the purpose of verifying their condition, and taking measures for their conveyance to Paris, two commissioners have been dispatched to Italy: one is the son of CHAPTAL [Jean-Baptiste Chaptal, comte de Chanteloup (1782-?), chemist, mayor of Neuilly-sur-Seine, juge au tribunal de commerce, deputy.], Minister of the Interior [Jean-Antoine-Claude Chaptal, comte de Chanteloup, (1756-1832), chemist, member of the Institute, served as Minister of the Interior during the Consulate, senator and Count under the Empire.], and the other is DUFOURNY [Léon Dufourny (1754-1818), architect, member of the Institute, one of the administrators of the Louvre.], the architect. On arrival of these cases, even after the fifteen departmental Museums have been supplied, it is asserted that there will yet remain in the French capital, antiquities in sufficient number to form a museum almost from Paris to Versailles.
The CENTRAL MUSEUM OF THE ARTS is open to the public in general on the 8th, 9th, and 10th of each decade* (* By a subsequent regulation, Saturday and Sunday are the days on which the CENTRAL MUSEUM is open to public inspection.) [Under the French Revolutionary Calendar, then still in force, the months were divided three décades of 10 days each. The days of each décade were, Primidi, Duodi, Tridi, Quartidi, Quintidi, Sextidi, Septidi, Octidi, Nonidi, and Decadi, the day of rest.]; the other days are appropriated to the study of young pupils; but a foreigner has only to produce his permis de séjour to gain admission gratis every day from the hour of ten o'clock to four. To the credit of the nation, I must observe that this exception in favour of foreigners excites no jealousy whatever.
It is no more than a justice due to the liberality of the French republican government to add, that they set a noble example which is worthy of being followed, not only in England, but in every other country, where the arts and sciences are honoured, or the general interests of mankind held in estimation. From persons visiting any national establishment, whether museum, library, cabinet, or garden, in this capital, no sort of fee or perquisite is now expected, or allowed to be taken. Although it was not a public day when I paid my first visit to the CENTRAL MUSEUM, no sooner did I shew my permis de séjour, than the doors were thrown open; and from M. VISCONTI, and other members of the Council, who happened to be present, I experienced the most polite and obliging attention. As an Englishman, I confess that I felt a degree of shame on reflecting to what pitiful exaction a foreigner would be subject, who might casually visit any public object of curiosity in our metropolis.
General A - y's breakfast - Montmartre - Prospect thence enjoyed - Theatres.
Paris, October 31, 1801.
IN answer to your question, I shall begin by informing you that I have not set eyes on the petit caporal, as some affect to style the Chief Consul. He spends much of his time, I am told, at Malmaison, his country-seat; and seldom appears in public, except in his box at the Opera, or at the French theatre; but at the grand monthly parade, I shall be certain to behold him, on the 15th of the present month of Brumaire, ac[c]ording to the republican calendar, which day answers to the 6th of November. I have therefore to check my impatience for a week longer.
However, if I have not yet seen BONAPARTE himself, I have at least seen a person who has opportunity of seeing him too: this person is no less than a general—who accompanied him in his expedition to Egypt—who was among the chosen few that returned with from that country—who there surveyed the mouths of the Nile—who served under him in the famous campaign of Syria; and who at this day is one of the first military engineers in Europe. In a word, it is General A_______y [Antoine-François Andréossy, comte de Castelnaudary (1761-1828), engineer, soldier, diplomat, general de brigade (1797), served in Italy and Egypt, ambassador to Britain (1802-1803), to Austria (1806-1809), count of the Empire, member of the Conseil d'Etat (1810-1812), ambassador at Constantinople (1812-1814).], of the artillery, at present Directory of that scientific establishment, called the DÉPÔT DE LA GUERRE. He invited me the day before yesterday to breakfast, with a view of meeting some of his friends whom he had purposely assembled.
I am not fond of breakfasting from home; mais il faut vivre à Rome comme à Rome. Between ten and eleven o'clock I reached the Dépôt, which is situated in the Rue de l'Université, Faubourg St. Germain, at the ci-devant Hôtel d'Harcourt, formerly belonging to the duke of that name. Passing through the gate-way, I was proceeding boldly to the principal entrance of the hotel, when a sentinel stopped me short by charging his bayonet. "Citizen," said he fiercely, at the same time pointing to the lodge on the right, "you must speak to the porter." I accordingly obeyed the mandate. "What's your business, citizen?" inquired the porter gruffly.—"My business, citizen," I replied, "is only to breakfast with the general."—"Be so good, citizen," rejoined he in a milder tone, "as to take the trouble to ascend the grand stair-case, and ring the bell on the first-floor."
Being introduced into the general's apartments, I there found eight or ten persons of very [i]ntelligent aspect, seated at a round table, loaded with all sorts of good things, but, in my mind, better calculated for dinner than breakfast. Among a great variety of delicacies, were beef-steaks, or, as they are here termed, bif-ticks à l'Anglaise. Oysters too were not forgotten: indeed, they compose an essential part of a French breakfast; and the ladies seem particularly partial to them, I suppose, because they are esteemed strengthening to a delicate constitution.
Nothing could be more pleasant than this party. Most of the guests were distinguished literati, or military men of no ordinary stamp. One of the latter, a chef de brigade of engineers, near whom I considered myself fortunate in being placed, spoke to me in the highest terms of Mr. SPENCER SMITH [Charles Spencer Smith, diplomat.], Sir Sidney's brother, to whose interference at Constantinople, he was indebted for his release from a Turkish prison.
Notwithstanding the continental clatter of knives and forks, and the occasional gingle of glasses, the conversation, which suffered no interruption, was to me extremely interesting: I never heard any men express opinions more liberal on every subject that was started. It was particularly gratifying to my feelings, as an Englishman, to hear a set of French gentlemen, some of whom had participated in the sort of disgrace attached to the raising of the siege of St. Jean d'Acre, generously bestow just encomiums on my brother-officer, to whose heroism they owed their failure. Addison, I think, says, somewhere in the Spectator, that national prejudice is a laudable partiality; but, however laudable it may be to indulge such a partiality, it ought not to render us blind to the merit of individuals of a rival nation.
General A_______y, being one of those whose talents have been found too useful to the State to be suffered to remain in inaction, was obliged to attend the Conseil des Mines soon after twelve o'clock, when the party separated. Just as I was taking leave, he did me the favour to put into my hand a copy of his Histoire du Canal du Midi, of which I shall say more when I have had leisure to peruse it.
I do not know that a man in good health, who takes regular exercise, is the worse for breakfasting on a beef-steak, in the long exploded style of Queen Bess; but I am no advocate for all the accessories of a French déjeûner à la fourchette. The strong Mocha coffee which I swallowed, could not check the more powerful effect of the Madeira and crème de rose. I therefore determined on taking a long walk, which, when saddle-horses are not to be procured, I have always found the best remedy for the kind of restlessness created by such a breakfast.
I accordingly directed my steps across the Pont & Place de la Concorde, traversed the street of the same name; and, following the Boulevard for a certain distance, struck off to the left, that is, towards the north, in order to gain the summit of
In ancient times, there stood on this hill a temple dedicated to Mars, whence the name Mons Martis, of which has been made Montmartre. At the foot of it, was the Campus Martius, or the Champ de Mars, where the French kings of the first race caused their throne to be erected every year on the first of May. They came hither in a car, decorated with great boughs and flowers, and drawn by four oxen. Such, indeed, was the town-equipage of king DAGOBERT.
"Quand bœufs attelés, d'un pas tranquil et lent,
Promenaient dans Paris le monarque indolent."
Having seated themselves on the throne, they gave a public audience to the people, at the same time giving and receiving presents, which were called estrennes. Hence annual presents were afterwards termed étrennes, and this gave rise to the custom of making them.
On this hill too fell the head of Διονυσιος or St. Denis; and in latter times, this was the spot chosen by Marshal DE BROGLIE, who commanded the thirty-five thousand troops by which the French capital was surrounded in May 1789, for checking the spirit of the turbulent Parisians, by battering their houses about their ears, and burying them under the ruins.
On the summit of Montmartre, is a circular terrace, in the centre of which stands a windmill, and not far from it, are several others. Round its brow are several maisonettes, or little country-boxes, and also some public gardens with bowers, where lovers often regale their mistresses. Hence you command a full view of the city of Paris. You behold roof rising above the roof; and the churches towering above the houses have, at this distance, somewhat the appearance of lofty chimnies. You look down on the capital as far as the Seine, by which it is intersected: beyond that river, the surface of the land rises again in the form of an amphitheatre. On all sides, the prospect is bounded by eminences of various degrees of elevation, over which, as well as over the plains, and along the banks of the river, are scattered villas, windmills, country-seats, hamlets, villages, and coppices; but, from want of enclosures, the circumjacent country has not that rich and variegated aspect which delights the eye in our English rural scenery. This was always one of my favourite walks during my residence in Paris before the revolution; and I doubt not, when you visit the French capital, that you will have the curiosity to scale the heights of Montmartre.
As to the theatres, concerning which you interrogate me, I shall defer entering into any particular detail of them, till I have made myself fully acquainted with the attractions of each: this mode of proceeding will not occasion any material delay, as I generally visit one of them every evening, but always endeavour to go to the house where the best performers are to be seen, in their best characters, and in their best pieces. I mention this, in order that you may not think me inattentive to your request, by having hitherto omitted to point out to you the difference between the theatrical amusements here under the monarchy, and those of the republic.
The théátre des arts or grand French opera, the opera buffa or Italian comic opera, the théátre Feydeau or French comic opera, and the théátre Français, chiefly engage my attention. Yesterday evening I went to the last-mentioned theatre purposely to see Mademoiselle CONTAT [Louise-Françoise Contat (1760-1813), actress, debuted at the Comédie Française in 1766, her great success was in Beaumarchais' Mariage de Figaro, retired in 1809.], who played both pieces. The first was Les Femmes Savantes, a comedy, in which Molière, wishing to aim a blow at female pedantry, has, perhaps, checked, in some French women, a desire for improvement; the second was La fausse Agnès, a laughable afterpiece. Notwithstanding the enormous embonpoint which this celebrated comic actress has acquired since I saw her last on the Parisian stage upwards of ten years ago, she acquitted herself with her accustomed excellence. I happened to sit next to a very warm admirer of her superior talents, who told me that, bulky as she was become, he had been highly gratified in seeing her perform at Rouen not long since, in her favourite character of Roxalane, in Les Trois Sultanes. "She was much applauded, no doubt." observed I.—"Not at all," replied he, "for the crowd was so great, that in no part of the house was it possible for a man to use his hands."
Regulations of the Police to be observed by a stranger on his arrival in the French capital - Pieces represented at the Théâtre 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 Robespierre and his adherents.
Paris, November 2, 1801.
ON reaching Paris, every person, whether Jew or Gentile, foreigner or not, coming from any department of the republic, except that of La Seine, in which the capital is situated, is now bound to make his appearance at the Préfecture de Police.
The new-comer, accompanied by two housekeepers, first repairs to the Police-office of the arrondissement, or district, in which he has taken up his residence, where he delivers his traveling passport; in lieu of which he receives a sort of certificate, and then he shews himself at the Préfecture de Police, or General Police-office, at present established in the Cité.
Her, his name and quality, together with a minute description of his person and his place of abode, are inserted in a register kept for that purpose, to which he puts his signature; and a printed paper, commonly called a permis de séjour, is given to him, containing a duplicate of all these matters, filled up in the blanks, which he also signs himself. It is intended that he should always carry this paper about him, in order that he may produce it when called on, or, in case of necessity, for verifying his person, on any particular occasion, such as passing by a guard-house on foot after eleven o'clock at night, or being unexpectedly involved in any affray. In a word, It answers to a stranger the same end as a carte de sureté, or ticket of safety, does to an inhabitant of Paris.
I accordingly went through this indispensable ceremony in due form on my arrival here; but, having neglected to read a nota bene in the margin of the permis de séjours, I had not been ten hours in my new apartments before I received a visit from an Inspector of Police of the arrondissement, who, very civilly reminding me of the omission, told me that I need not give myself the trouble of going to the Central Police-office, as he would report my removal. However, being determined to be strictly en règle, I went thither myself to cause my new residence to be inserted in the paper.
I should not have dwelt on the circumstance, were it not to shew you the precision observed in the administration of the police of this great city.
Under the old régime, every master of a ready-furnished hotel was obliged to keep a register, in which he inserted the name and quality of his lodgers for the inspection of the police-officers whenever they came: this regulation is not only strictly adhered to at present; but every person in Paris, who receives a stranger under his roof as an inmate, is bound, under penalty of a fine, to report him to the police, which is most vigilantly administered by Citizen FOUCHÉ [Joseph Fouché, duc d'Otranto (1759-1820), deputy in the Convention, Minister of Police in the Consulate and Empire.].
Last night, not being in time to find good places at the Théâtre des Arts, or Grand French Opera, I went to the Théâtre Louvois, which is within a few paces of it, in hopes of being more successful. I shall not at present attempt to describe the house, as, from my arriving late, I was too ill accommodated to be able to view it to advantage.
However, I was well seated for seeing the performance. It consisted of three petites piéces: namely, Une heure d'absence, La petite ville, and La café d'une petit ville. The first was entertaining; but the second much more so; and though the third cannot claim the merit of being well put together, I shall say a few words of it, as it is a production in honour of peace, and on that score alone, would, at this juncture, deserve notice.
After a few scenes somewhat languid, interspersed with common-place, and speeches of no great humour, a dénouement, by no means interesting, promised not to compensate the audience for their patience. But the author of the Café d'une petit ville, having eased himself of this burden, revealed his motive, and took them on their weak side, by making a strong appeal to French enthusiasm. This cord being adroitly struck, his warmth became communicative, and animating the actors, good-humour did the rest. The accessories were infinitely more interesting than the main subject. An allemande, gracefully danced by two damsels and a hero, in the character of a French hussar, returned home from the fatigues of war and battle, was much applauded; and a Gascoon poet, who declares that, for once in his life, he is resolved to speak the truth, was loudly encored in the following couplets, adapted to the well-known air of "Gai, le cœur à la danse."
Celui qui nous donne la paix,
Comme il fit bien la guerre!
Sur lui déjà force conplets…
Mais il en reste à faire:
Au diable nous nous donnions,
Il revient, nous respirons…
Il fait changer la danse;
Par lui chez nous plus de discord;
Il regle la cadence,
Et nous voilà d'accord.
True it is, that BONAPARTE, as principal ballet-master, has changed the dance of the whole nation; he regulates their step to the measure of his own music, and discord is mute at the moment: but the question is, whether the French are bona-fide d'accord, (as the Gascoon affirms,) that is, perfectly reconciled to the new tune and figure? Let us, however, keep out of this maze; were we to enter it, we might remain bewildered there, perhaps, till old father Time came to extricate us.
The morning is inviting: suppose we take a turn in the Tuileries, not with a view to surveying this garden, but merely to breathe the fresh air, and examine the
PALAIS DU GOUVERNMENT.
Since the Chief Consul has made it his town-residence, this is the new denomination given to the Palais des Tuileries, thus called, because a tile-kiln formerly stood on the site where it is erected. [The Tuileries was destroyed by fire during the Paris Commune of 1871, only the gardens remain.] At that time, this part of Paris was not comprised within its walls, nothing was to be seen here, in the vicinity of the tile-kiln, but a few coppices and scattered habitations.
Catherine de Medicis, wishing to enlarge the capital on this side, visited the spot, and liking the situation, directed PHILIBERT DE L'ORME and JEAN BULLAN [Jean Bullant], two celebrated French architects, to present her with a plan, from which the construction of this palace was begun in May 1564. At first, it consisted only of the large square pavilion in the centre of the two piles of building, which have each a terrace towards the garden, and of the two pavilions by which they are terminated.
Henry IV enlarged the original building, and, in 1600, began the grand gallery which joins it to the Louvre, from the plan of DU CERCEAU [Jacques Androuet du Cerceau fils (c.1556–1614).]. Lewis XIII made some alterations in the palace; and in 1664, exactly a century from the date of its construction being begun, Lewis XIV directed LOUIS DE VEAU to finish it, by making the additions and embellishments which have brought it to its present state. These deviations from the first plan have destroyed the proportions required by the strict rules of art; but this defect would, probably, be overlooked by those who are not connoisseurs, as the architecture, though variously blended, presents, at first sight, an ensemble which is magnificent and striking.
The whole front of the palace of the Tuileries consists of five pavilions, connected by four piles of building, standing on the same line, and extending for the space of one thousand and eleven feet. The first order of the three middle piles is Ionic, with encircled columns. The two adjoining pavilions are also ornamented with Ionic pillars; but fluted, and embellished with foliage, from the third of their height to the summit. The second order of these two pavilions is Corninthian. The two piles of building, which come next, as well as the two pavilions of the wings, are of a Composite order with fluted pillars. From a tall iron spindle, placed on the pinnacle of each of the three principal pavilions, is now seen floating a horizontal tri-coloured streamer. Till the improvements made by Lewis XIV, the large centre pavilion had been decorated with the ionic and Corinthian orders only; to these was added the Composite.
On the façade towards the Place du Carrousel, the pillars of all these orders are of brown and red marble. Here may be observed the marks of several cannon-balls, beneath each of which is inscribed, in black, 10 AOÛT.
This tenth of August 1792, a day ever memorable in the history of France, has furnished many an able writer with the subject of an episode; but, I believe, few of them were, any more than myself, actors in that dreadful scene. While I was intently remarking the particular impression of a shot which struck the edge of one of the casements of the first floor of the palace, my valet de place came up to know at which door I would have the carriage remain in waiting.
On turning round, I fancied I beheld the man who "drew Priam's curtain in the dead of night." That messenger, I am sure, could not have presented a visage more pale, more spiritless than my Helvetian. Recollecting that he had served in the Swiss guards, I was less at a loss to account for his extreme agitation. "In what part of the château were you in, Jean," said I, "when these balls were aimed at the windows?"—"There was my post," replied he, recovering himself, and pointing to one of the centre casements.—"Is it true," continued I, "that, by way of feigning a reconciliation, you threw down cartridges by handfuls to the Marseillese below, and called out, vive la nation?"—"It is but too true," answered Jean; "we then availed ourselves of the moment when they advanced under the persuasion that they were to become our friends, and opened on them a tremendous fire, by which we covered the place with dead and dying. But we became the victims of our own treachery: for our ammunition being, by this ruse de guerre, the sooner expended, we presently had no resource left but the bayonet, by which we could not prevent the mob from closing on us."—"And how did you contrive to escape," said I?—"Having thrown away my Swiss uniform," replied he, "in the general confusion, I fortunately possessed myself of the coat of a national volunteer, which he had taken off on account of the hot weather. This garment, bespattered with blood, I instantly put on, as well as his hat with a tri-coloured cockade."—"This disguise saved your life," interrupted I.—"yes, indeed," rejoined he. "Having got down to the vestibule, I could not find a passage into the garden; and, to prevent suspicion, I at once mixed with the mob on the place where we are now standing."—"How did you get off at last," said I?—"I was obliged," answered he, "to shout and swear with the poissardes, while the heads of many of my comrades were thrown out of the windows."—"The poissardes," added I, "set not bounds to their cruelty?"—"No," replied he, "I expected every moment to feel its effects; my disguise alone favoured my escape: on the dead bodies of my countrymen they practiced every species of mutilation." Here Jean drew a picture of a nature too horrid to be committed to paper. My pen could not trace it.—In a word, nothing could exceed the ferocity of the infuriate populace; and the sacking of the palace of the Trojan king presents but a faint image of what passed here on the day which overset the throne of the Bourbons.
According to a calculation, founded as well on the reports of the police as on the returns of the military corps, it appears that the number of men killed in the attack of the palace of the Tuileries on the 10th of August 1792, amounted in the whole to very near six thousand, of whom eight hundred and fifty-two were on the side of the besieged, and three thousand seven hundred and forty on the side of the besiegers.
The interior of this palace is not distinguished by any particular style of architecture, the kings who have resided here having made such frequent alterations, that the distribution throughout is very different from that which was at first intended. Here it was that Catherine de Medicis shut herself up with the Guises, the Gondis, and Birague, the chancellor, in order to plan the horrible massacre of that portion of the French nation whose religious tenets trenched on papal power, and whose spirit of independence alarmed regal jealousy [The St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, see above.]
Among the series of entertainments, given on the marriage of the king of Navarre with Marguerite de Valois, was introduced a ballet, in which the papists, commanded by Charles IX and his brothers, defended paradise against the Huguenots [French Protestants.], who, with Navarre at their head, were all repulsed and driven into hell. Although this pantomime, solely invented by Catherine, was evidently meant as a prelude to the dreadful proscription which awaited the protestants, they had no suspicion of it; and four days after was consummated the massacre, where that monster, to whom nature had given the form of a women, feasted her eyes on the mangled corpses of thousands of bleeding victims!
No sooner was the Pope informed of the horrors of St. Bartholemew's day, by the receipt of Admiral de Coligny's head, which Catherine embalmed and sent to him, than he ordered a solemn procession, by way of returning thanks to heaven for the happy event. The account of this procession so exasperated a gentleman of Anjou, a protestant of the name of Bressaut de la Rouvraye, that he swore he would make eunuchs of all the monks who should fall into his hand; and he rendered himself famous by keeping his word, and wearing the trophies of his victory.
The Louvre and the palace of the Tuileries were alternately the residence of the kings of France, till Lewis XIV built that of Versailles, after which it was deserted till the minority of Lewis XV, who, when a boy, was visited here by Peter the Great; but, in 1792, the court quitted Paris altogether for Versailles, where it continued fixed till the 5th of October 1789.
During this long interval, the palace was left under the direction of a governor, and inhabited only by himself, and persons of various ranks dependent on the bounty of the crown. When Lewis XVI and his family were brought hither at that period, the two wings alone were in proper order; the remainder consisted of spacious apartments, appropriated for the king's reception when he came occasionally to Paris, and ornamented with stately, old-fashioned furniture, which had not been deranged for years. The first night of their arrival, they slept in temporary beds, and on the king being solicited the next day to choose his apartments, he replied, "Let everyone shift for himself: for my part, I am very well where I am." But this fit of ill-humour being over, the king and queen visited every part of the palace, assigning particular rooms to each person of their suite, and giving directions for sundry repairs and alterations.
Versailles was unfurnished, and the vast quantities of furniture collected in that palace, during three successive reigns, was transported to the Tuileries for their majesties' accommodation. The king chose for himself three rooms on the ground-floor, on the side of the gallery to the right as you enter the vestibule from the garden; on the entresol, he established his geographical study; an the first floor, his bed-chamber: the apartments of the queen and royal family were adjoining to those of the king; and the attendants were distributed over the palace to the number of between six and seven hundred persons.
The greater part of the furniture, &c. in the palace of the Tuileries was sold in the spring of 1793. The sale lasted six months, and, had it not been stopped, would have continued six months longer. Some of the king's dress-suits which had cost twelve hundred louis fetched no more than five. By the inventory taken immediately after the 10th of August 1792, and laid before the Legislative Assembly, it appears that the moveables of every description contained in this palace were valued at 12,540,158 livres (circa £522,560 sterling,) in which was included the amount of the thefts, committed on that day, estimated at 1,000,000 livres, and that of the dilapidations, at the like sum, making together about £84,000 sterling.
When Catherine de Medicis inhabited the palace of the Tuileries, it was connected to the Louvre by a garden, in the middle of which was a large pond, always well stocked with fish for the supply of the royal table. Lewis XIV transformed this garden into a spacious square or place, where in the year 1662, he gave to the queen dowager and his royal consort a magnificent fête, at which were assembled princes, lords, and knights, with their ladies, from every part of Europe. Hence the square was named
PLACE DU CARROUSEL.
Previously to the revolution, the palace of the Tuileries, on this side, was defended by a wall, pierced by three gates opening into as many courts, separated by little buildings, which, in part, served for lodging a few troops and their horses. All these buildings are taken down; the Place du Carrousel is considerably enlarged by the demolition of various circumjacent edifices; and the wall is replaced by a handsome iron railing, fixed on a parapet about four feet high. In this railing are three gates, the centre one of which is surmounted by cocks, holding in their beak a civic crown over the letters R. F. the initials of the République Française. On each side of it are small lodges, built of stone; and at the entrance are constantly posted two vedettes, belonging to the horse-grenadiers of the consular guard.
On the piers of the other two gates are placed the four famous horses of gilt bronze [Known as the Quadriga, the Venetians stole the horses from the Hippodrome in Constantinople in 1204. Experts speculate whether the horses are of Greek origin or Roman copies. The originals or the existing horses, depending on one's theory, were cast in the 4th century B.C.E. The Quadriga were returned to Venice after Napoleon's fall.], brought from St, Mark's place at Venice, whither they had been carried after the capture of Byzantium. These productions are generally ascribed to the celebrated Lysippus, who flourished in the reign of Alexander the Great, about 325 years before the christian era; though this opinion is questioned by some distinguished antiquaries and artists. Whoever may be the sculptor, their destiny is of a nature to fix attention, as their removal has always been the consequence of a political revolution. After the conquest of Greece by the Romans, they were transported from Corinth to Rome, for the purpose of adorning the triumphal arch of Septimus Severus. Hence they were removed to Byzantium, when that city became the seat of the eastern empire. From Byzantium, they were conveyed to Venice, and from Venice they have at last reached Paris.
As on the plain of Pharsalia the fate of Rome was decided by Cæsar's triumph over Pompey, so on the Place du Carrousel was the fate of France by the triumph of the Convention over Robespierre and his satellites. Here, Henriot [François Hanriot (1761-1794), Jacobin, leader of the Parisian sans-culottes, took part in 10 August and the September massacres, general and commander of the Paris National Guard, executed with Robespierre on 10 thermidor (28 July 1794).], one of his most devoted creatures, whom he had raised to the situation of commandant general of the Parisian guard, after having been carried prisoner before the Committee of Public Safety, then sitting in the palace of the Tuileries, was released by Coffinhal [Jean-Baptiste Coffinhal (1754-1794), Jacobin, vice-président du tribunal révolutionnaire, executed after 9 thermidor. There seems to be confusion between Jean-Baptiste and his brother Pierre-André Coffinhal (1762-1794), some sources identify Pierre-André as the revolutionary judge.], the President of the Revolutionary Tribunal, who suddenly made his appearance at the head of a large body of horse and foot, supported by four pieces of cannon served by gunners the most devoted to Robespierre.
It was half past seven o'clock in the evening, when Coffinhal, decorated with his municipal scarf, presented himself before the Committee: all the members thought themselves lost, and their fright communicating to the very bosom of the Convention, there spread confusion and terror. But Coffinhal's presence of mind was not equal to his courage: he availed himself only in part of his advantage. After having, without the slightest resistance, disarmed the guards attached to the Convention, he loosened the fettered hands of Henriot and his aides-de-camp, and conducted them straight to the Maison Commune.
It is an incontestable fact that had either Coffinhal or Henriot imitated the conduct of Cromwell in regard to the Levellers, and marched at the head of their troops into the hall of the Convention, he might have carried all before him, and Robespierre's tyranny would have been henceforth established on a basis not to be shaken.
But, when Henriot soon after appeared on the Place du Carrousel, with his staff and a number of followers, he in vain endeavoured by haranguing the people to stir them up to act against the Convention; his voice was drowned in tumultuous clamours, and he was deserted by his hitherto-faithful gunners. The Convention had time to recover from their panic, and to enlighten the Sections. Henriot was outlawed by that assembly, and totally disconcerted by this news, he fled for refuge to the Maison Commune, where Robespierre and all his accomplices were soon surrounded, and fell into the hands of those whom but an instant before, they had proscribed as conspirators deserving of the most exemplary punishment.
Henriot, confused and terrified, sought his safety in flight, and was stealing along one of the galleries of the Maison Commune, when he met Coffinhal, who was also flying. At the sight of Henriot, who, on coming from the Committee, had pledged his life on the success of his measures, Coffinhal was unable to check his rage. "Coward!" said he to him, "to this then has led your certain means of defence! Scoundrel! You shall not escape the death you are endeavouring to avoid!" Saying these words, he seized Henriot by the middle, and threw him out of a window of the second story of the Maison Commune. Henriot falling on the roof of a building in a narrow street adjoining, was not killed; but he had scarcely recovered himself before he was recognized by some soldiers in quest of him; he then crawled into a sewer, close to the spot where he had fallen; when a soldier, thrusting his bayonet into the sewer, put out one of his eyes, and forced him to surrender.
Thus, the destiny of France, as is seen, hung by the thread of the moment. It will be recollected that Henriot had the arsenal at his disposal; he commanded the Parisian guard, and six thousand men encamped on the Plaine des Sablons, close to the capital: in a word, all the springs of public force were in his hands. Had he seized the critical minute, and attacked the Convention at the instant of his release, the scene of the 10th of August would have been renewed, and the Place du Carrousel again stained with the blood of thousands.
Massacre of the prisoners at Paris in September, 1792 - Private ball - The French much improved in dancing - The waltz described - Dress of the women.
Paris, November 5, 1801.
I RISE much later to-day than usual, in consequence of not having gone to bed till near seven o'clock this morning. Happening to call yesterday on a French lady of my acquaintance, I perceived some preparations which announced that she expected company. She did not leave me long in suspense, but invited me to her party for that evening.
This good lady, who is no longer in the flower of her age, was still in bed, though it was four o'clock when I paid my visit. On my expressing my fears that she was indisposed, she assured me of the contrary, at the same time adding that she seldom rose till five in the afternoon, on account of her being under the necessity of keeping late hours. I was so struck by the expression, that I did not hesitate to ask her what was the necessity which compelled her to make a practice of turning day into night? She very courteously gave me a complete solution of this enigma, of which the following is the substance.
"During the reign of terror," said she, "several of us ci-devant noblesse lost our nearest relatives, and with them our property, which was either confiscated, or put under sequestration, so that we were absolutely threatened by famine. When the prisoners were massacred in September 1792, I left nothing unattempted to save the life of my uncle and grandfather, who were both in confinement in the Abbaye [The Abbaye Saint Germain had been used as a debtor's prison under the ancien régime, after the fall of the Bastille the Abbaye was used to hold political prisoners and as a prison for soldiers. It was the scene of the first massacres in September 1792.]. All my efforts were unavailing. My interference served only to exasperate their murders, and contributed, I fear, to accelerate their death, which it was my misfortune to witness. Their inhuman butchers, from whom I had patiently borne every species of insult, went so far as to present to me on the end of a pike, a human heart, which had the appearance of having been broiled on the embers, assuring me that, as it was the heart of my uncle, I might eat it with safety."--Here an ejaculation, involuntarily escaping me, interrupted her for a moment.
"For my part," continued she, "I was so overwhelmed by a conflict of rage, despair, and grief, that I scarcely retained the use of my senses. The excess of my horror deprived me of utterance.—With little I was able to save from the wreck of my fortune, not affording me sufficient means of subsistence, I was, however reluctantly, at length compelled to adopt a plan of life, by which I saw other women, in my forlorn situation, support a decent appearance. I therefore hired suitable apartments, and twice in each decade, I receive company. On one of these two nights I give a ball and supper, and on the other, under the name of société, I have cards only. Having a numerous circle of female acquaintance," concluded she, "my balls are generally well attended: those who are not fond of dancing, play at the bouillotte; and the card-money defrays the expenses of the entertainment, leaving me a handsome profit. In short, these six parties, during the month, enable me to pay my rent, and produce me a tolerable pittance."
This melancholy recital affected me so much, that, on its being terminated, I was unable to speak; but I have reason to think that a favourable construction was put on my silence. A volume, of the size of a family bible, would not be sufficient to display half the contrasts engendered by the revolution. Many a Marquise has been obliged to turn sempstress [sic], in order to gain a livelihood; but my friend the Comtesse had much ready wit, though no talents of that description. Having soothed her mind by venting a few imprecations against the murderers of her departed relatives, she informed me that her company began to assemble between the hours of eleven and twelve, and begged that I would not fail to come to her
About twelve o'clock, I accordingly went thither, as I promised, when I found the rooms perfectly crowded. Among a number of very agreeable ladies, several were to be distinguished for the elegance of their figure, though there were no more than three remarkable for their beauty. These terrestrial divinities would not only have embarrassed the Grand Signior for a preference, but even have distracted the choice of the Idalian shepherd [Paris, son of King Priam, left to die as an infant on Mt. Ida, lived as a shepherd. Paris was chosen to select the fairest goddess. Choosing Aphrodite over Hera and Athena, Paris was given Helen of Troy, wife of the King of Sparta, thus instigating the Trojan war.] himself. The dancing was already begun to an excellent band of music, led by Citizen JULIEN, a mulatto, esteemed the first player of country-dances in Paris. Of the dancers, some of the women really astonished me by the ease and gracefulness of their movements: steps, which are known to be the most difficult, seemed to cost them not the smallest exertion. Famous as they have ever been for dancing, they seem now, in Cibber's words, "to outdo their usual outdoings."
In former times, an extraordinary degree of curiosity was excited by any female who excelled in this pleasing accomplishment. I remember to have read that Don Juan of Austria, governor of the Low Countries, set out post from Brussels, and came to Paris incog. on purpose to see Marguerite de Valois dance at a dress-ball, this princess being reckoned, at that time, the best dancer in Europe. What then would be the admiration of such an amateur, could he now behold the perfection attained here by some of the beauties of the present day?
The men, doubtless, determined to vie with the women, seemed to pride themselves more on agility than grace, and, by attempting whatever required extraordinary effort, reminded me of figurans on the stage, so much have the Parisian youth adopted a truly theatrical style of dancing.
The French country-dances (or cotillions, as we term them in England) and waltzes, which are as much in vogue here as in Germany, were regularly interchanged. However, the Parisians, in my opinion, cannot come up to the Germans in this their native dance. I should have wished to have had Lavater by my side, and heard his opinion of the characters of the different female waltzers. It is a very curious and interesting spectacle to see one woman assume a languishing air, another a vacant smile, a third an aspect of stoical indifference; while a fourth seems lost in a voluptuous trance, a fifth captivates by an amiable modesty, a sixth affects the cold insensibility of a statue, and so on in ever-varying succession, though all turning to the animating changes of the same lively waltz. In short I observed that, in this species of dance, the eyes and feet of almost every woman appeared to be constantly at variance.
Without assuming the part of a moralist, I cannot help thinking that Werter [A reference to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's wildly popular Romantic novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther. The novel not only made Goethe's fame, but created a fashion craze and was blamed for a rise in suicide rates among romantic youths.] was not altogether in the wrong when he swore, that, were it to cost him his life, no woman on whom he had set his affections, should ever waltz with any one but himself. I am not singular in this opinion; for I recollect to have met with the same ideas in a book written by M. JACOBI [Johann Georg Jacobi (1740 - 1814), German poet, professor at the University of Freiburg.], I think, a German author.
Speaking of the waltz, "We either ought," says he, "not to boast so much of the propriety of our manners, or else not suffer that our wives and daughters, in a complete delirium, softly pressed in the arms of men, bosom to bosom, should thus be hurried away by the sound of intoxicating music. In this whirligig dance, every one seems to forget the rules of decorum; and though an innocent, young creature, exposed in this manner, were to remain pure and spotless, can she, without horror, reflect that she becomes the sport of the imagination of the licentious youths to whom she so abandons herself? It were to be wished," adds he, "that our damsels (I mean those who preserve any vestige of bashfulness), might, concealed in a private corner, hear sometimes the conversation of those very men to who they yield themselves with so little reserve and caution."
To the best of my recollection, these are the sentiments of M. JACOBI, expressed twelve or fourteen years ago; yet I do not find that the waltz is discontinued, or even less practiced, in Germany, than it was at the time when his work first appeared. This dance, like every other French fashion, has now found its way into England, and is introduced between the acts, by way of interlude I presume, at some of our grand private balls and assemblies. But, however I may be amused by the waltzing of the Parisian belles, I feel too much regard for my fair country-women to wish to see them adopt a dance, which, by throwing them off their guard, lays them completely open to the shafts of ridicule and malice.
Leaving this point to be settled by the worthy part of our British matrons, let us return to the Parisian ball, from which I have been led into a little digression.
The dancing continued in this manner, that is, French country-dances and waltzes alternately, till four o'clock, when soup was brought round to all the company. This was dispatched sans façon, as fast as it could be procured. It was a prelude to the cold supper, which was presently served in another spacious apartment. No sooner were the folding-doors of an adjoining room thrown open, than I observed that, large as it was, it could not possibly afford accommodation to more than half of the number present. I therefore remained in the back-ground, naturally supposing that places would first be provided for all the women. Not so, my friend; several men seated themselves, and, in the twinkling of an eye, deranged the economy of the whole table; while the female bystanders were necessitated to seek seats at some temporary tables placed in the ballroom. Here too were they in luck if they obtained a few fragments from the grand board; for, such determined voracity was there exhibited, that so many vultures or cormorants could not have been more expeditious in clearing the dishes.
For instance, an enormous salmon, which would have done honour to the Tweed or the Severn, graced the middle of the principal table. In less than five minutes after the company were seated, I turned round, and missing the fish, inquired whether it had proved tainted. No: but it is all devoured, was the reply of a young man, who, pointing to the bone, offered me a pear and a piece of bread, which he shrewdly observed was all that I might probably get to recruit my strength at this entertainment. I took the hint, and, with the addition of a glass of common wine, at once made my supper.
In half an hour, the tables being removed, the ball was resumed, and apparently with renewed spirit. The card-room had never been deserted. Mind the main chance is a wholesome maxim, which the good lady of the house seemed not to have forgotten. Assisted by a sort of croupier, she did the honours of the bouillote with that admirable sang-froid which you and I have often witnessed in some of our hostesses of fashion; and, had she not communicated to me the secret, I should have been the last to suspect, while she appeared so indifferent, that she, like those ladies, had so great an interest in the card-party being continued till morning.
As an old acquaintance, she took an opportunity of saying to me, with joy in her eyes: "Le jeu va bien;" but, at the same time, expressed her regret that the supper was such a scramble. While we were in conversation, I inquired the name and character of the most striking women in the room, and found that, though a few of them might be reckoned substantial in fortune, as well as in reputation, the female part of the company was chiefly composed of ladies who, like herself, had suffered by the revolution; several were divorced from their husbands, but as incompatibility of temper was the general plea for such a disunion, that alone could not operate as a blemish.
To judge of the political predilection of these belles from their exterior, a stranger would, nine times out of ten, be led into a palpable error. He might naturally conclude them to be attached to a republican system, since they have, in general, adopted the Athenian form of attire as their model; though they have not, in the smallest degree, adopted the simple manners of that people. Their arms are bare almost to the very shoulder; their bosom is, in a great measure, uncovered; their ankles are encircled by narrow ribbands, in imitation of the fastenings of sandals; and their hair, turned up close behind, is confined on the crown of the head in a large knot, as we see it in the antique busts of Grecian beauties.
The rest of their dress is more calculated to display, than to veil the contours of their person. It was thus explained to me by my friend, the ci-devant Comtesse, who at the same time assured me that young French women, clad in this airy manner, brave all the rigour of winter. "A simple piece of linen, slightly laced before," said she, "while it leaves the waist uncompressed, answers the purpose of a corset. If they put on a robe, which is not open in front, they dispense with petticoats altogether; their cambric chemise having the semblance of one, from its skirt being trimmed with lace. When attired for a ball, those who dance, as you may observe, commonly put on a tunic, and then a petticoat becomes a matter of necessity, rather than of choice. Pockets being deemed an incumbrance, they wear none: what money they carry, is contained in a little morocco leather purse; this is concealed in the centre of the bosom, whose form, in our well-shaped women, being that of the Medicean Venus, the receptacle occasionally serves for a little gold watch, or some other trinket, which is suspended to the neck by a collar of hair, decorated with various ornaments. When they dance, the fan is introduced within the zone or girdle; and the handkerchief is kept in the pocket of some sedulous swain, to whom the fair one has recourse when she has occasion for it. Some of the elderly ladies, like myself," added she, "carry these appendages in a sort of work-bag, denominated a ridicule. Not long since, this was the universal fashion first adopted as a substitute for pockets; but, at present, it is totally laid aside by the younger classes."
The men at this ball, were, for the most part, of the military class, thinly interspersed with returned emigrants. Some of the generals and colonels were in their hussar dress-uniform, which is not only exceedingly becoming to a well-formed man, but also extremely splendid and costly. All the seams of the jacket and pantaloons of the generals are covered with rich and tasteful embroidery, as well as their saber-tash, and those of the colonels with gold and silver lace: a few even wore boots of red morocco leather.
Most of the Gallic youths, having served in the armies, either a few years ago under the requisition, or more recently under the conscription, have acquired a martial air, which is very discernible, in spite of their habit bourgeois. The brown coat cannot disguise the soldier. I have met with several young merchants of the first respectability in Paris, who had served, some two, others four years in the ranks, and constantly refused every sort of advancement. Not wishing to remain in the army, and relinquish the mercantile profession in which they had been educated, they cheerfully passed through their military servitude as privates, and, in that station, like true soldiers, gallantly fought their country's battles.
The hour of six being arrived, I was assailed, on all sides, by applications to set down this or that lady, as the morning was very rainy, and, independently of the long rank of hackney-coaches, which had been drawn up at the door, every vehicle that could be procured, had long been in requisition. The mistress of the house had informed two of here particular female friends that I had a carriage in waiting; and as I could accommodate only a certain number at a time, after having consented to take those ladies home first; I conceived myself at liberty, on my return, to select the rest of my convoy. To relieve beauty in distress was one of the first laws of ancient chivalry; and no knight ever accomplished that vow with greater ardour than I did on this occasion.
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.
Paris, November 7, 1801.
MY impatience is at length gratified: I have seen BONAPARTE. Yesterday, the 6th, as I mentioned in a former letter, was the day of the grand parade, which now takes place on the fifteenth only of every month of the Republican Calendar. The spot where this military spectacle is exhibited, is the court-yard of the Tuileries, which, as I have before observed, is enclosed by a low parapet wall, surmounted by a handsome iron railing.
From the kind attention of friends, I had the option of being admitted into the palace, or introduced into the hotel of Cn. MARET [Hugues-Bernard Maret, duc de Bassano (1763-1839), lawyer, diplomat, Maret's newspaper Bulletin de l'Assemblée was merged into the Moniteur, sent under Chauvelin on failed peace mission to London (1792), ambassador to Naples (but captured by the Austrians and imprisoned until the end of 1795), appointed to another abortive peace mission to Britain in 1797, secretary to Napoleon after the latter's return from Egypt (1799), editor of the Moniteur, chef de cabinet to the First Consul (1800), Secretary of State after Brumaire, named count (1807) and duke of the Empire (1809), Minister of Foreign Affairs (1811-1813), Minister of the Interior and Secretary of State during the Hundred Days. Industrious, discreet, an untiring administrator, but Talleyrand said of Maret, "In all of France I know but one greater ass than Maret, and that is the duc de Bassano."], the Secretary of State, which adjoins to the palace, and standing at right angles with it, commands a full view of the court where the troops are assembled. In the former place, I was told, I should not, on account of the crowd, have an opportunity to see the parade, unless I took my station at a window two or three hours before it began; while from the latter, I should enjoy the sight without any annoyance or interruption.
Considering that an interval of a month, by producing a material change in the weather, might render the parade far less brilliant and attractive, and also that such an offer might not occur a second time, I made no hesitation in preferring Cn. MARET's hotel.
Accompanied by my introducer, I repaired thither about half past eleven o'clock, and certainly I had every reason to congratulate myself on my election. I was ushered into a handsome room on the first floor, where I found the windows partly occupied by some lovely women. Having paid my devoirs to the ladies, I entered into conversation with an officer of rank of my acquaintance, who had introduced me to them; and from him I gathered the following particulars respecting the
GRAND MONTHLY PARADE.
On the fifteenth of every month, the First Consul in person reviews all the troops of the consular guard [Created by the decree of 3 January 1800, the Garde Consulaire consisted of two battalions of six companies of grenadiers à pied, two squadrons of grenadiers à cheval, one company of chasseurs à pied, a squadron of chasseurs à cheval and a company of artillerie à cheval. From 10 May 1804 the Consular Guard was renamed the Garde Impériale.], as well as those quartered in Paris as a garrison, or those which may happen to be passing through this city.
The consular guard is composed of two battalions of foot-grenadiers, two battalions of light infantry, a regiment of horse-grenadiers, a regiment of mounted chasseurs or guides, and two companies of flying artillery. All this force may comprise between six and seven thousand men; but it is in contemplation to increase it by a squadron of Mamalûks [Descendants of warriors from the Caucasus, the Mamelukes ruled Egypt when Napoleon invaded it in 1798. On 13 October 1801 Napoleon ordered the formation of a squadron of up to 150 Mamelukes. The most famous of the Mamelukes was Roustam, Napoleon's personal bodyguard.], intermixed with Greeks and Syrians, mounted on Arabian horses.
This guard exclusively does duty at the palace of the Tuileries, and at Malmaison [Acquired by Josephine Bonaparte in April 1799.], BONAPARTE's country-seat: it also forms the military escort of the Consuls. At present it is commanded by General LASNES [Jean Lannes, duc de Montebello (1769-1809), soldier, promoted to general by Napoleon during the Italian campaign, accompanied Napoleon to Egypt, after Brumaire commanded the Consular Guard (1800), ambassador to Portugal (1802), marshal of France (1804), named duke of the Empire (1809), died from wounds suffered at the battle of Essling (1809).]; but, according to rumour, another arrangement is on the point of being made. The consular guard is soon to have no other chief than the First Consul, and under him are to command, alternately, four generals; namely, one of infantry, one of cavalry, one of artillery, and one of engineers; the selection is said to have fallen on the following officers, BESSIÈRES [Jean-Baptiste Bessières, duc d'Istrie (1768-1813), after the Revolution Bessières joined the National Guard, served in Louis XVI's Constitutional Guard, chosen by Napoleon to lead his Guides, the precursor to the Imperial Guard, Bessières served in Italy and Egypt, commanded the grenadiers à cheval of the Consular Guard and named second-in-command, named marshal in 1804, commanded the cavalry of the Imperial Guard, name duke of the Empire (1809), commander of the Guard (1810), killed in battle in 1813.] DAVOUST [Louis-Nicolas Davout, duc d'Auerstadt and prince d'Eckmühl, (1770-1823), commissioned in the royal army, general of brigade (1793), served in Germany, Egypt and Italy, commanded the grenadiers of the Consular Guard (1801), nominated marshal and colonel general of the Guard (1804), named prince of the Empire (1808), Minister of War and Governor of Paris (1815).], SOULT [Nicolas-Jean de Dieu Soult, duc de Dalmatie (1769-1851), enlisted in the royal army (1785), general of brigade (1794), fought in Germany, Switzerland, and Italy, named Marshal (1804), named a duke of the Empire (1808), saw extensive service in Spain, succeeded to command of the Imperial Guard after Bessières' death (1813), exiled after Waterloo, Minister of War (1830-1834 and 1840-1845) president of the Council of Ministers (1832-1834 and 1840-1847).], and SONGIS [Nicolas-Marie Songis des Courbons (1761-1810), enrolled in the royal artillery in 1779, served with the Armies of the Nord and Italy, served in Egyptian campaign, inspector-general of artillery (1805), commanded the artillery of the Grande Armée.].
The garrison (as it is termed) of Paris is not constantly of the same strength. At this moment it consists of three demi-brigades [The demi-brigade was a formation consisting of three battalions during the Revolution replacing the regiment. The term regiment was restored by Napoleon in 1803.] of the line, a demi-brigade of light infantry, a regiment of dragoons, two demi-brigades of veterans, the horse gendarmerie, and a new corps of choice gendarmerie, comprising both horse and foot, and commanded by the Chef de brigade SAVARY [Anne-Jean-Marie-René Savary, duc de Rovigo (1774-1833), volunteered (1791), Army of the Rhine (1792-1797), Egyptian campaign, Marengo, aide-de-camp to Napoleon (1800), general of brigade (1803), presided at trial of duc d'Enghien, general of division (1805), undertook a number of diplomatic missions, named duke of the Empire (1808) police minister (1810-1814), sentenced to death but escaped after the Hundred Days, commanded the French army in Algeria (1831-1833).], aide-de-camp to the First Consul. This garrison may amount to about 15,000 effective men.
The consular guard and all these different corps, equipped in their best manner, repair to the parade, and, deducting the troops on duty, the number of men assembled there may, in general, be from twelve to fifteen thousand.
By a late regulation, no one, during the time of the parade, can remain within the railing of the court, either on foot or horseback, except the field and staff officers on duty; but persons enter the apartments of the Tuileries, by means of tickets, which are distributed to a certain number by the governor of the palace.
While my obliging friend was communicating to me the above information, the troops continued marching into the court below, till it was so crowded that, at first sight, it appeared impracticable for them to move, much less to manœuvre. The morning was extremely fine; the sun shone in full splendour, and the gold and silver lace and embroidery on the uniforms of the officers and on the trappings of their chargers, together with their naked sabers, glittered with uncommon luster. The concourse of people without the iron railing was immense; in short, every spot or building, even to the walls and rafters of houses under demolition, whence a transient view of the parade could be obtained, was thronged with spectators.
By twelve o'clock, all the troops were drawn up in excellent order, and, as you may suppose, presented a grand coup d'œil. I never beheld a finer set of men than the grenadiers of the consular guard; but owing, perhaps, to my being accustomed to see our troops with short skirts, I thought that the extreme length of their coats detracted from their military air. The horses mostly of Norman breed, could not be compared to our English steeds, either for make or figure; but, sorry and rough as is their general appearance, they are, I am informed, capable of bearing much fatigue, and resisting such privations as would soon render our more sleek cavalry unfit for service. That they are active, and surefooted, I can vouch; for, in all their sudden wheelings and evolutions in this confined space, not one of them stumbled. They formed, indeed, a striking contrast to the beautiful white charger that was led about in waiting for the Chief Consul.
The band of the consular guard, which is both numerous and select, continued playing martial airs, till the colours having been brought down from the palace, under the escort of an officer and a small detachment, the drums beat aux champs, and the troops presented arms, when they were carried to their respective stations. Shortly after, the impatient steed, just mentioned, was conducted to the foot of the steps of the grand vestibule of the palace. I kept my eye stedfastly [sic] fixed on that spot; and such was the agility displayed by BONAPARTE in mounting his horse, that, to borrow the words of Shak[e]speare, he seemed to
"Rise from the ground like feather'd Mercury,
And vaulted with such ease into his seat,
As if an angel dropp'd down from the clouds
To turn and wind a fiery Pegasus,
And witch the world with noble horsemanship."
Off he went at a hand canter, preceded by his aides-de-camp, and attended, on his right, by General LASNES, and followed by other superior officers, particularly the general commanding the garrison of Paris, and him at the head the district.
BONAPARTE was habited in the consular dress, scarlet velvet embroidered with gold, and wore a plain cocked hat with the national cockade. As I purpose to obtain a nearer view of him, by placing myself in the apartments of the palace on the next parade day, I shall say nothing of his person till that opportunity offers, but confine myself to the military show in question.
Having rid rapidly along the several lines of infantry and cavalry, and saluted the colours as he passed, BONAPARTE (attended by all his retinue, including a favourite Mamûk [Raza Roustam (1782-1845), given as a gift by Sheik Al-Bakri to Napoleon in Egypt in 1799, served as Napoleon's valet and personal bodyguard, deserted Napoleon in 1814, Roustam married Alexandrine Douville.] whom he brought from Egypt), took a central position, when the different corps successively filed off before him with most extraordinary briskness; the corps composing the consular guard preceded those of the garrison and all the others: on inquiry, however, I find, that this order is not always observed.
It is no less extraordinary than true, that the news of the establishment of this grand parade produced on the mind of the late emperor of Russia the first impression in favour of the Chief Consul. No sooner did Paul I. [Paul I, Tsar of Russia (1754-1801), came to the throne in 1796, joined the coalition against France in 1798, withdrew 1799, formed the League of Armed Neutrality (1800-1801), assassinated on 23 March 1801.] hear of the circumstance, than he exclaimed: "BONAPARTE is, however, a great man."
Although the day was so favourable, the parade was soon over, as there was no distribution of arms of honour, such as muskets, pistols, swords, battle-axes, &c. which the First Consul presents with his own hand to those officers and soldiers who have distinguished themselves by deeds of valour or other meritorious service.
The whole ceremony did not occupy more than half an hour, when BONAPARTE alighted at the place where he had taken horse, and returned to his audience-room in the palace, for the purpose of holding his levee. I shall embrace a future opportunity to speak of the interior etiquette observed on this occasion in the apartments, and close this letter with an assurance that you shall have an early account of the approaching fête.
Blagdon, Francis William (1778-1819), Attributed to. Paris as it was and as it is; or, A sketch of the French capital, illustrative of the effects of the revolution, with respect to sciences, literature, art, religion, education, manners and amusements. Vol. I: comprising also a correct account of the most remarkable national establishments and public buildings. London: C. and R. Baldwin, 1803.
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