Part 1 out of 14
Produced by John Hagerson, Carlo Traverso, and Distributed Proofreaders
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
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, quaedem fortasse
omnibus placeant. PLIN. Epist._
* * * * *
In the course of the following production, the Reader will meet with
several references to a Plan of Paris, which it had been intended to
prefix to the work; but that intention having been frustrated by the
rupture between the two countries, in consequence of which the copies
for the whole of the Edition have been detained at Calais, it is
hoped that this apology will be accepted for the omission.
New Organization of the National Institute
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.
Journey from Calais to Paris--Improved state of agriculture--None of
the French gun-boats off Boulogne moored with chains at the time of
the attack--St. Denis--General sweep made, in 1793, among the
sepultures in that abbey--Arrival at Paris--Turnpikes now established
throughout Prance--Custom-house scrutiny.
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.
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
Plan on which these letters are written.
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.
_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,
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.
General A----y's breakfast--Montmartre--Prospect thence enjoyed
Regulations of the Police to be observed by a stranger on his arrival
in the French capital--Pieces represented at the _Theatre Louvois_
--_Palais du gouvernement_ or Palace of the Tuileries described--It was
constructed, by Catherine de Medicis, enlarged by Henry IV and Lewis
XIII, and finished By Lewis XIV--The tenth of August, 1792, as
pourtrayed by an actor in that memorable scene--Number of lives lost
on the occasion--Sale of the furniture, the king's wardrobe, and
other effects found in the palace--_Place du Carrousel_--Famous
horses of gilt bronze brought from Venice and placed here--The fate
of France suspended by a thread--Fall of _Robespiere_ and his
Massacre of the prisoners at Paris in September, 1792--Private ball
--The French much improved in dancing--The waltz described--Dress of
_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.
_Jardin des Tuileries_--This garden now kept in better order than
under the monarchy--The newly-built house of _Very_, the
_restaurateur_--This quarter calls to mind the most remarkable events
in the history of the revolution--_Place de la Concorde_--Its name is
a strong contrast to the great number of victims here sacrificed
--Execution of the King and Queen, _Philippe Egalite_, _Charlotte
Corday_, Madame _Roland_, _Robespiere_, _cum multus aliis_
--Unexampled dispatch introduced in putting persons to death by means
of the guillotine--_Guillotin_, the inventor or improver of this
instrument, dies of grief--Little impression left on the mind of the
spectators of these sanguinary scenes--Lord _Cornwallis_ arrives in
National fete, in honour of peace, celebrated in Paris on the 18th of
Brumaire, year X (9th of November, 1801)--_Garnerin_ and his wife
ascend in a balloon--Brilliancy of the illuminations--Laughable
Description of the fete continued--Apparent apathy of the people
--Songs composed in commemoration of this joyful event--Imitation of
one of them.
_Gallery of the Louvre_--_Saloon of the Louvre_--Italian School--The
most remarkable pictures in the collection mentioned, with original
remarks on the masters by _Visconti_--Lord _Cornwallis's_ reception
_Gallery of the Louvre_ in continuation--French School--Flemish
School--The pictures in the _Saloon_ are seen to much greater
advantage than those in the _Gallery_--_Gallery of Apollo_--These
superb repositories of the finest works of art are indiscriminately
open to the public.
_Palais Royal_, now called _Palais du Tribunat_--Its construction
begun, in 1629, by Cardinal _Richelieu_, who makes a present of it to
_Lewis_ XIII--It becomes the property of the Orleans family--Anecdote
of the Regent--Considerable alterations made in this palace--_Jardin
du Palais du Tribunat_--This garden is surrounded by a range of
handsome buildings, erected in 1782 by the duke of Orleans, then duke
of Chartres--The _Cirque_ burnt down in 1797--Contrast between the
company seen here in 1789 and in 1801--The _Palais Royal_, the
theatre of political commotions--Mutual enmity of the queen and the
duke of Orleans, which, in the sequel, brought these great personages
to the scaffold--Their improper example imitated by the nobility of
both sexes--The projects of each defeated--The duke's pusillanimity
was a bar to his ambition--He exhausted his immense fortune to gain
partisans, and secure the attachment of the people--His imprisonment,
trial, and death.
The _Palais du Tribunat_, an epitome of all the trades in Paris
--Prohibited publications--Mock auctions--_Magazins de confiance a prix
fixe_--Two speculations, of a somewhat curious nature, established
there with success--_The Palais Royal_, a vortex of dissipation
--Scheme of _Merlin_ of Douay for cleansing this Augaean stable.
_The_, a sort of route--Contrast in the mode of life of the Parisians
before and since the revolution--_Petits soupers_ described--An
Englishman improves on all the French _bons vivans_ under the old
Public places of various descriptions--Their title and number
--Contrast between the interior police now established in the theatres
in Paris, and that which existed before the revolution--Admirable
regulations at present adopted for the preservation of order at the
door of the theatres--Comparatively small number of carriages now
seen in waiting at the grand French opera.
_Palais du Corps Legislatif_--Description of the hall of the sittings
of that body--Opening of the session--Speech of the President--Lord
_Cornwallis_ and suite present at this sitting--_Petits appartemens_
of the _ci-devant Palais Bourbon_ described.
_Halle au Ble_--Lightness of the roof of the dome--Annual consumption
of bread-corn in _Paris_--Astrologers--In former times, their number
in _Paris_ exceeded _30,000_--Fortune-tellers of the present day
--Church of _St. Eustache_--_Tourville_, the brave opponent of Admiral
_Russel_, had no epitaph--Festivals of reason described.
_Museum of French Monuments_--Steps taken by the Constituent Assembly
to arrest the progress of Vandalism--Many master-pieces of painting,
sculpture, and architecture, destroyed in various parts of France
--_Gregoire_, ex-bishop of Blois, publishes three reports, to expose
the madness of irreligious barbarism, which claim particular
distinction.--They saved from destruction many articles of value in
the provinces--Antique monuments found in 1711, in digging among the
foundation of the ancient church of Paris--Indefatigable exertions of
_Lenoir_, the conservator of this museum--The halls of this museum
fitted up according to the precise character peculiar to each
century, and the monuments arranged in them in historical and
chronological order--Tombs of _Clovis_, _Childebert_, and
_Chilperic_--Statues of _Charlemagne_, _Lewis IX_, and of _Charles_,
his brother, together with those of the kings that successively
appeared in this age down to king _John_--Tombs of _Charles V_, _Du
Gueselin_, and _Sancerre_--Mausolea of _Louis d'Orleans_ and of
_Valentine de Milan_--Statues of _Charles VI_, _Renee d'Orleans_,
_Philippe de Commines_, _Lewis XI_, _Charles VII_, _Joan_ of _Arc_,
_Isabeau de Baviere_--Tomb of _Lewis XII_--Tragical death of
_Charles_ the _Bad_.
_Museum of French Monuments_ continued--Tombs of _Francis I_, of the
_Valois_, and of _Diane de Poitiers_--Character of that celebrated
woman--Statues of _Turenne_, _Conde_, _Colbert_, _La Fontaine_,
_Racine_, and _Lewis XIV_--Mausolea of Cardinals _Richelieu_ and
_Mazarin_--Statues of _Montesquieu_, _Fontenelle_, _Voltaire_,
_Rousseau_, _Helvetius_, _Crebillon_, and _Piron_--Tombs of
_Maupertuis_, _Caylus_, and Marshal _d'Harcourt_--This museum
contains a chronology of monuments, both antique and modern, from
2500 years before our era down to the present time, beginning with
those of ancient Greece, and following all the gradations of the art
from its cradle to its decrepitude--Sepulchre of _Heloise_ and
Dinner at General _A----y's_--Difference in the duration of such a
repast now and before the revolution--The General's ancestor,
_Francois A----y_, planned and completed the famous canal of
Languedoc--_Depot de la guerre_--Such an establishment much wanted in
England--Its acknowledged utility has induced Austria, Spain, and
Portugal, to form others of a similar nature--Geographical and
topographical riches of this _depot_.
_Boulevards_--Their extent--Amusements they present--_Porte St.
Denis_--Anecdote of Charles VI--_Porte St. Martin_--_La Magdeleine_
--Ambulating conjurers--Means they employ to captivate curiosity.
French funds and national debt--Supposed liquidation of an annuity
held by a foreigner before the war, and yet unliquidated--Value of a
Grand monthly parade--Etiquette observed on this occasion, in the
apartments of the palace of the _Tuileries_--_Bonaparte_--His person
--His public character in Paris--Obstruction which the First Consul
met with in returning from the parade--_Champs Elysees_--Sports and
diversions there practised--Horses, brought from Marly to this spot,
the master-pieces of the two celebrated sculptors, _Costou_
--Comparison they afford to politicians.
_Madonna de Foligno_--Description of the method employed by the
French artists to transfer from pannel to canvass this celebrated
master-piece of _Raphael_.
_Pont Neuf_--Henry IV--His popularity--Historical fact concerning the
cause of his assassination brought to light--The Seine swollen by the
rains--It presents a dull scene in comparison to the Thames--Great
number of washerwomen--_La Samaritaine_--Shoe-blacks on the _Pont
Neuf_--Their trade decreased--Recruiting Officers--The allurements
they formerly employed are now become unnecessary in consequence of
the conscription--Anecdote of a British officer on whom a French
recruiter had cast his eye--Disappointment that ensued.
Balls now very numerous every evening in Paris--_Bal du Salon des
Etrangers_--Description of the women--Comparison between the French
and English ladies--Character of Madame _Tallien_--Generosity,
fortitude, and greatness of soul displayed by women during the most
calamitous periods of the revolution--Anecdote of a young Frenchman
smitten by a widow--An attachment, founded on somewhat similar
circumstances, recorded by historians of Henry III of France
--Sympathy, and its effects.
_Pont National_, formerly called the _Pont Royal_--Anecdote of Henry
IV and a waterman--_Coup d'oeil_ from this bridge--Quays of Paris
--Galiot of St. Cloud--_Pont de la Concorde_--Paris besieged by the
Swedes, Danes, and Normans, in 885--The Seine covered with their
vessels for the space of two leagues--A vessel ascends the Seine from
Rouen to Paris in four days--Engineers have ever judged it
practicable to render the Seine navigable, from its mouth to the
capital, for vessels of a certain burden--Riches accruing from
commerce pave the way to the ruin of States, as well as the extension
of their conquests.
French literature--Effects produced on it by the revolution--The
sciences preferred to literature, and for what reason--The French
government has flattered the literati and artists; but the solid
distinctions have been reserved for men of science--Epic Poetry
--Tragedy--Comedy--Novels--Moral Fable--Madrigal and Epigram--Romance
_Pont au Change_--_Palais de Justice_--Once a royal residence
--Banquet given there, in 1313, by Philip the Fair, at which were
present Edward II and his queen Isabella--Alterations which this
palace has undergone, in consequence of having, at different times,
been partly reduced to ashes--Madame _La Motte_ publicly whipped--In
1738, _Lewis XVI_ here held a famous bed of justice, in which
_D'Espresmenil_ struck the first blow at royalty--He was exiled to
the _Ile de St. Marguerite_--After having stirred up all the
parliaments against the royal authority, he again became the humble
servant of the crown--After the revolution, the _Palais de Justice_
was the seat of the Revolutionary Tribunal--_Dumas_, its president,
proposed to assemble there five or six hundred victims at a time--He
was the next day condemned to death by the same tribunal--The _Palais
de Justice_, now the seat of different tribunals--The _grande
chambre_ newly embellished in the antique style--_La Conciergerie_,
the place of confinement of _Lavoisier_, _Malsherbes_, _Cordorcet_,
_&c._--Fortitude displayed by the hapless _Marie-Antoinette_ after
her condemnation--_Pont St. Michel_--_Pont Notre-Dame_--Cathedral of
_Notre-Dame_--Anecdote of _Pepin_ the Short--Devastations committed
in this cathedral--Medallions of _Abelard_ and _Heloise_ to be seen
near _Notre-Dame_ in front of the house where _Fulbert_, her supposed
uncle, resided--_Petit Pont_--_Pont au Double_--_Pont Marie_--Workmen
now employed in the construction of three new bridges--_Pont de la
Paris a charming abode for a man of fortune--Summary of its
Phantasmagorie_ of _Robertson_--_Fitzjames_, the famous
ventriloquist--Method of converting a galantee-show into an
exhibition somewhat similar to that of the phantasmagorists.
Paris the most melancholy abode in the world for a man without money
--_Restaurateurs_--In 1765, _Boulanger_ first conceived the idea of
_restoring_ the exhausted animal functions of the delibitated
Parisians--He found many imitators--The _restaurateurs_, in order to
make their business answer, constitute themselves _traiteurs_--_La
Barriere_--_Beauvilliers_, _Robert_, _Naudet_, and _Very_ dispute the
palm in the art of Appicius--Description of _Beauvilliers'_
establishment--His bill of fare--Expense of dining at a fashionable
_restaurateur's_ in Paris--Contrast between establishments of this
kind existing before the revolution, and those in vogue at the
present day--Cheap eating-houses--The company now met with at the
fashionable rendezvous of good cheer compared with that seen here in
former times--_Cabinets particuliers_--Uses to which they are
applied--Advantages of a _restaurateur's_--_Beauvilliers_ pays great
attention to his guests--Cleanly and alert waiters--This
establishment is admirably well managed.
National Institution of the Deaf and Dumb--France indebted to the
philanthropic _Abbe de l'Epee_ for the discovery of the mode of
instructing them--It has been greatly improved by _Sicard_, the
present Institutor--Explanation of his system of instruction--The
deaf and dumb are taught grammar, metaphysics, logic, religion, the
use of the globes, geography, arithmetic, history, natural history,
arts and trades--Almost every thing used by them is made by
themselves--Lessons of analysis which astonish the spectators.
Public women--Charlemagne endeavours to banish them from Paris--His
daughters, though addicted to illicit enjoyments, die universally
regretted--_Les Filles Dieu_--_Les Filles penitentes ou repenties_
--Courtesans--Luxury displayed in their equipages and houses--Kept
women--Opera-dancers--Secret police maintained by Lewis XVI, in 1792
--Grisettes--Demireps--A French woman, at thirty, makes an excellent
friend--_Rousseau's_ opinion of this particular class of women in
National Institution of the Industrious Blind--Circumstance which
gave rise to this establishment--_Valentin Hauey_, its founder, found
his project seconded by the Philanthropic Society--His plan of
instruction detailed--Museum of the Blind--After two or three
lessons, a blind child here teaches himself to read without the
further help of any master.
_Theatre des Arts et de la Republique_, or Grand French opera--Old
opera-house burnt down, and a new one built and opened in 72 days
--Description of the present house--Operas of _Gluck_; also those of
_Piccini_ and _Sacchini_--Gluckists and Piccinists--The singing is
the weakest department at the French opera--Merits of the singers of
both sexes--Choruses very full--Orchestra famous--The Chief Consul,
being very partial to Italian music, sends to that land of harmony to
procure the finest musical compositions.
Dancing improved in France--Effect of some of the ballets--_Noverre_
and _Gardel_ first introduce them on the French stage--Rapid change
of scenery--Merits of the dancers of both sexes--The rector of St.
Roch refuses to admit into that church the corpse of Mademoiselle
_Chameroi_--The dancers in private society now emulate those who make
dancing their profession--Receipts of the opera.
New year's day still celebrated in Paris on the 1st of January
--Customs which prevail there on that occasion--_Denon's_ account of
the French expedition to Egypt--That country was the cradle of the
arts and sciences--_Fourrier_ confirms the theory of _Dupuis_,
respecting the origin, &c. of the figures of the Zodiac.
_Hotel des Invalides_--It was projected by Henry IV and erected by
Lewis XIV--Temple of Mars--To its arches are suspended the standards
and colours taken from the enemy--Two British flags only are among
the number--Monument of _Turenne_--Circumstances of his death--Dome
of the _Invalides_--Its refectories and kitchens--Anecdote of Peter
the Great--Reflections on establishments of this description--_Champ
de Mars_--_Ecole Militaire_--Various scenes of which the _Champ de
Mars_ has been the theatre--Death of _Bailly_--Modern national fetes
in France, a humble imitation of the Olympic games.
Object of the different learned and scientific institutions, which,
before the revolution, held their sittings in the _Louvre_--Anecdote
of Cardinal Richelieu--National Institute of Arts and Sciences
--Organization of that learned body--Description of the apartments of
the Institute--Account of its public quarterly meeting of the 15th
Nivose, year X, (5th of January, 1802)--Marriage of Mademoiselle
_Beauharnois_ to _Louis Bonaparte_.
_Opera Buffa_--The Italian comedians who came to Paris in 1788, had a
rapid influence on the musical taste of the French public--Performers
of the new Italian company--Productions of _Cimarosa_, _Paesiello_,
Present state of public worship--Summary of the proceedings of the
constitutional clergy--National councils of the Gallican church held
at Paris--Conduct of the Pope, _Pius VII_--The Cardinal Legate,
_Caprara_, arrives in Paris--The Concordat is signed--Subsequent
_Pantheon_--Description of this edifice--_Marat_ and _Mirabeau_
pantheonized and dispantheonized--The remains of _Voltaire_ and
_Rousseau_ removed hither--The Pantheon in danger of falling--This
apprehension no longer exists--_Bonaparte_ leaves Paris for Lyons.
Scientific societies of Paris--_Societe Philotechnique_--_Societe
Libre des Sciences, Lettres, et Arts_--_Athenee des Arts_--_Societe
Philomatique_--_Societe Academique des Sciences_--_Societe
Galvanique_--_Societe des Belles-Lettres_--_Academie de Legislation_
--_Observateurs de l'Homme_--_Athenee de Paris_.
Coffee-houses--Character of the company who frequent them--Contrast
between the coffee-houses of the present and former times--Coffee
first introduced at Paris, in 1669, by the Turkish ambassador--_Cafe
mechanique_--Subterraneous coffee-houses of the _Palais du
Public instruction--The ancient colleges and universities are
replaced by Primary Schools, Secondary Schools, Lyceums, and Special
Schools--National pupils--Annual cost of these establishments
--Contrast between the old system of education and the new plan,
Milliners--_Montesquieu's_ observation on the commands of the fair
sex--Millinery a very extensive branch of trade in Paris--_Bal de
l'Opera_--Dress of the men and women--Adventures are the chief object
of those who frequent these masquerades.
_Theatre Francais de la Republique_--The house described--List of the
stock-pieces--Names of their authors--_Fabre d'Eglantine_--His
_Philinte de Moliere_ a _chef-d'oeuvre_--Some account of its author
--_La Chaussee_ the father of the _drame_, a tragi-comic species of
Principal performers in tragedy at the _Theatre Francais_--_Vanhove_,
_Monvel_, _St. Prix_, and _Naudet_--_Talma_, and _Lafond_--_St. Fal_,
_Damas_, and _Dupont_--Mesdames _Raucourt_ and _Vestris_--Mesdames
_Fleury_, _Talma_, _Bourgoin_, and _Volnais_--Mesdames _Suin_ and
_Thenard_--_Debut_ of Mademoiselle _Duchesnois_; Madame _Xavier_, and
Mademoiselle _Georges_--Disorderly conduct of the _Duchesnistes_, who
are routed by the _Georgistes_.
Principal performers in comedy at the _Theatre Francais_--_Vanhove_,
and _Naudet_--_Mole_, _Fleury_, and _Baptiste_ the elder--_St. Fal_,
_Dupont_, _Damas_, and _Armand_--_Grandmenil_, and _Caumont_
--_Dugazon_, _Dazincourt_, and _Larochelle_--Mesdemoiselles _Contat_,
and _Mezeray_--Madame _Talma_--Mesdemoiselles _Mars, Bourgoin_, and
_Gros_--Mesdemoiselles _Lachassaigne_ and _Thenard_--Mesdemoiselles
_Devienne_ and _Desbrosses_--Contrast between the state of the French
stage before and since the revolution.
French women fond of appearing in male attire--Costume of the French
Ladies--Contrast it now presents to that formerly worn--The change in
their dress has tended to strengthen their constitution--The women in
Paris extremely cleanly in their persons--Are now very healthy.
The studies in the colleges and universities interrupted by bands of
insurgents--_College de France_--It is in this country the only
establishment where every branch of human knowledge is taught in its
fullest extent--Was founded by Francis I--Disputes between this new
College and the University--Its increasing progress--The improvements
in the sciences spread by the instruction of this College--Its
_Theatre de l'Opera Comique_--Authors who have furnished it with
stock-pieces, and composers who have set them to music--Principal
performers at this theatre--_Elleviou_, _Gavaudan_, _Philippe_, and
_Gaveaux_--_Chenard_, _Martin_, _Rezicourt_, _Juliet_, and _Moreau_
--_Solie_, and _St. Aubin_--_Dozainville_, and _Lesage_--Mesdames _St.
Aubin_, _Scio_, _Lesage_, _Cretu_, _Philis_ the elder, _Gavaudan_,
and _Pingenet_--Mesdames _Dugazon_, _Philippe_, and _Gonthier_.
France owes her salvation to the _savans_ or men of science
--Polytechnic School--Its object--Its formation and subsequent
progress--Changes recently introduced into this interesting
Pickpockets and sharpers--Anecdote of a female swindler--Anecdote of
a sharper--Housebreakers--_Chauffeurs_--A new species of assassins
--_Place de Greve_--Punishment for thieves re-established--On the
continent, ladies flock to the execution of criminals.
Schools for Public Services--The Polytechnic School, the grand
nursery whence the pupils are transplanted into the Schools of
Artillery, Military Engineers, Bridges and Highways, Mines, Naval
Engineers, and Navigation--Account of these schools--_Prytanee
Francais_--Special Schools--Special School of Painting and Sculpture
--Competitions--National School of Architecture--Conservatory of
Music--Present state of Music in France--Music has done wonders in
reviving the courage of the French soldiers--The French are no less
indebted to _Rouget de Lille_, author of the _Marseillois_, than the
Spartans were to _Tyrtaeus_--Gratuitous School for Drawing--Veterinary
School--New Special Schools to Le established in France.
Funerals--No medium in them under the old _regime_--Ceremonies
formerly observed--Those practised at the present day--Marriages
--Contrast they present.
Public Libraries--_Bibliotheque Nationale_--Its acquisitions since
the revolution--School for Oriental Living Languages.
_Bibliotheque Mazarine_--_Bibliotheque du Pantheon_--_Bibliotheque de
l'Arsenal_--The Arsenal--Other libraries and literary _depots_ in
Dancing--Nomenclature of caperers in Paris, from the wealthiest
classes down to the poorest--Beggars form the last link of the chain.
_Bureau des Longitudes_--Is on a more extensive scale than the Board
of Longitude in England--National Observatory--Subterraneous quarries
that have furnished the stone with which most of the houses in Paris
are constructed--Measures taken to prevent the buildings in Paris
from being swallowed up in these extensive labyrinths--Present state
of the Observatory--_Lalande_, _Mechain_, and _Bouvard_--_Carroche_,
and _Lenoir_--_Lavoisier_, and _Borda_--_Delambre_, _Laplace_,
_Burckhardt_, _Vidal_, _Biot_, and _Puisson_--New French weights and
measures--Concise account of the operations employed in measuring an
arc of the terrestrial meridian--Table of the new French measures and
weights--Their correspondence with the old, and also with those of
_Depot de la Marine_--An establishment much wanted in England.
_Theatre Louvois_--_Picard_, the manager of this theatre, is the
_Moliere_ of his company--_La Grande Ville, ou les Provinciaux a
Paris_--Principal performers at this theatre--_Picard_, _Devigny_,
_Dorsan_, and _Clozel_--Mesdemoiselles _Adeline_, _Moliere_,
_Lescot_, and Madame _Mole_--_Theatre du Vaudeville_--Authors who
write for this theatre--Principal performers--Public malignity, the
main support of this theatre.
_Hotel de la Monnaie_--Description of this building--_Musee des
Mines_--Formed by M. _Sage_--The arrangement of this cabinet is
excellent--_Cabinet du Conseil des Mines_--Principal mineral
substances discovered in France since the revolution.
_Theatre Montansier_--Principal performers--_Ambigu Comique_--The
curiosity of a stranger may be satisfied in a single visit to each of
the minor theatres in Paris.
Police of Paris--Historical sketch of it--Its perfections and
imperfections--Anecdote of a minister of police--_Mouchards_
--Anecdote which shews the detestation in which they are held--The
Parisian police extends to foreign countries--This truth exemplified
by two remarkable facts--No _habeas corpus_ in France.
The _savans_ saved France, when their country was invaded
--Astonishing exertions made by the French on that occasion--Anecdote
relating to _Robespierre_--Extraordinary resources created by the men
of science--Means employed for increasing the manufacture of powder,
cannon, and muskets--The produce of these new manufactories
contrasted with that of the old ones--Territorial acquisitions of the
French--The Carnival revived in Paris.
Public gaming-houses--_Academies de jeu_, which existed in Paris
before the revolution--Gaming-houses licensed by the police--The
privilege of granting those licences is farmed by a private
individual--Description of the _Maisons de jeu_--Anecdote of an old
professed gambler--Gaming prevails in all the principal towns of
France--The excuse of the old government for promoting gaming, is
reproduced at the present day.
Museum of Natural History, or _Jardin des Plantes_--Is much enlarged
since the revolution--One of the first establishments of instruction
in Europe--Contrast between its former state and that in which it now
is--_Fourcroy_, the present director--His eloquence--Collections in
this establishment--Curious articles which claim particular notice.
The Carnival--That of 1802 described--The Carnival of modern times,
an imitation of the Saturnalia of the ancients--Was for some years
prohibited, since the revolution--Contrast between the Carnival under
the monarchy and under the republican government.
_Palais du Senat Conservateur_, or _Luxembourg_ Palace--Mary of
Medicis, by whom it was erected, died in a garret--It belonged to
_Monsieur_, before the revolution--Improvements in the garden of the
Senate--National nursery formed in an adjoining piece of ground
--_Bastille_--_Le Temple_--Its origin--Lewis XVI and his family
confined in this modern state-prison.
Present slate of the French Press--The liberty of the press, the
measure of civil liberty--Comparison, between the state of the press
in France and in England.
Hospitals and other charitable institutions--_Hotel-Dieu_--Extract
from the report of the _Academy of Sciences_ on this abode of
pestilence--Reforms introduced into it since the revolution--The
present method of purifying French hospitals deserves to be adopted
in England--Other hospitals in Paris--_Hospice de la Maternite_--_La
Salpetriere_--_Bicetre_--Faculties and Colleges of Physicians, as
will as Colleges and Commonalties of Surgeons, replaced in France by
Schools of Health--School of Medicine of Paris--France overrun by
quacks--New law for checking the serious mischief they occasion
--Society of Medicine--Gratuitous School of Pharmacy--Free Society of
Apothecaries--Changes in the teaching and practice of medicine in
Private seminaries for youth of both sexes--Female education
--Contrast between that formerly received in convents, and that now
practised in the modern French boarding-schools.
Progressive aggrandisement of Paris--Its origin--Under the name of
Lutetia, it was the capital of Gaul--Julian's account of it--The
sieges it has sustained--Successively embellished by different kings
--Progressive amelioration of the manners of its inhabitants--Rapid
view of the causes which improved them, from the reign of Philip
Augustus to that of Lewis XIV--Contrast between the number of public
buildings before and since the revolution--Population of Paris, from
official documents--Ancient division of Paris--Is now divided into
twelve mayoralties--_Barrieres_ and high wall by which it is
surrounded--Anecdote of the _commis des barrieres_ seizing an
French Furniture--The events of the revolution have contributed to
improve the taste of persons connected with the furnishing line
--Contrast between the style of the furniture in the Parisian houses
in 1789-90 and 1801-2--_Les Gobelins_, the celebrated national
manufactory for tapestry--_La Savonnerie_, a national manufactory for
carpeting--National manufactory of plate-glass.
Academy of Fine Arts at the _ci-devant College de Navarre_
--Description of the establishment of the _Piranesi_--Three hundred
artists of different nations distributed in the seven classes of this
academy--Different works executed here in Painting, Sculpture,
Architecture, Mosaic, and Engraving.
Conservatory of Arts and Trades--It contains a numerous collection of
machines of every description employed in the mechanical arts
--_Belier hydraulique_, newly invented by _Montgolfier_--Models of
curious buildings--The mechanical arts in France have experienced
more or less the impulse given to the sciences--The introduction of
the Spanish merinos has greatly improved the French wools--New
inventions and discoveries adopted in the French manufactories
--Characteristic difference of the present state of French industry,
and that in which it was before the revolution.
Society for the encouragement of national industry--Its origin--Its
objects detailed--Free Society of Agriculture--Amidst the storms of
the revolution, agriculture has teen improved in France--Causes of
that improvement--The present state of agriculture briefly contrasted
with that which existed before the revolution--_Didot's_ stereotypic
editions of the classics--Advantages attending the use of stereotype
--This invention claimed by France, but proved to belong to Britain
--Printing-office of the Republic, the most complete typographical
establishment in being.
Present State of Society in Paris--In that city are three very
distinct kinds of society--Description of each of these--Other
societies are no more than a diminutive of the preceding--Philosophy
of the French in forgeting their misfortunes and losses--The
signature of the definitive treaty announced by the sound of cannon
--In the evening a grand illumination is displayed.
Urbanity of the Parisians towards strangers--The shopkeepers in Paris
overcharge their articles--Furnished Lodgings--Their price--The
_Milords Anglais_ now eclipsed by the Russian Counts--Expense of
board in Paris--Job and Hackney Carriages--Are much improved since
the revolution--Fare of the latter--Expense of the former
--Cabriolets--Regulations of the police concerning these carriages
--The negligence of drivers now meets with due chastisement--French
women astonish bespattered foreigners by walking the streets with
spotless stockings--Valets-de-place--Their wages augmented--General
Observations--An English traveller, on visiting Paris, should provide
himself with letters of recommendation--Unless an Englishman acquires
a competent knowledge of the manners of the country, he fails in what
ought to be the grand object of foreign travel--Situation of one who
brings no letters to Paris--The French now make a distinction between
individuals only, not between nations--Are still indulgent to the
English--Animadversion on the improper conduct of irrational British
Divorce--The indissolubility of marriage in France, before the
revolution, was supposed to promote adultery--No such excuse can now
be pleaded--Origin of the present laws on divorce--Comparison on that
subject between the French and the Romans--The effect of these laws
illustrated by examples--The stage ought to be made to conduce to the
amelioration of morals--In France, the men blame the women, with a
view of extenuating their own irregularities--To reform women, men
ought to begin by reforming themselves.
The author is recalled to England--Mendicants--The streets of Paris
less infested by them now than before the revolution--Pawnbrokers
--Their numbers much increased in Paris, and why--_Mont de Piete_
--Lotteries now established in the principal towns in France--The
fatal consequences of this incentive to gaming--Newspapers--Their
numbers considerably augmented--Journals the most in request--Baths
--_Bains Vigier_ described--School of Natation--Telegraphs--Those in
Paris differ from those in use in England--Telegraphic language may
be abridged--Private collections most deserving of notice in Paris
--_Depot d'armes_ of _M. Boutet_--_M. Regnier_, an ingenious mechanic
--The author's reason for confining his observations to the capital
--Metamorphoses in Paris--The site of the famous Jacobin convent is
intended for a market-place--Arts and Sciences are become popular in
France, since the revolution--The author makes _amende honorable_, or
confesses his inability to accomplish the task imposed on him by his
friend--He leaves Paris.
NEW ORGANIZATION OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE.
On the 3d of Pluviose, year XI (23d of January, 1803), the French
government passed the following decree on this subject.
_Art_. I. The National Institute, at present divided into three
classes, shall henceforth consist of four; namely:
_First Class_--Class of physical and mathematical sciences.
_Second Class_--Class of the French language and literature.
_Third Class_--Class of history and ancient literature.
_Fourth Class_--Class of fine arts.
The present members of the Institute and associated foreigners shall
be divided into these four classes. A commission of five members of
the Institute, appointed by the First Consul, shall present to him
the plan of this division, which shall be submitted to the
approbation of the government.
II. The first class, shall be formed of the ten sections, which at
present compose the first class of the Institute, of a new section of
geography and navigation, and of eight foreign associates.
These sections shall be composed and distinguished as follows:
Geometry six members.
Mechanics six ditto.
Astronomy six ditto.
Geography and Navigation three ditto.
General Physics six ditto.
Chemistry six ditto.
Mineralogy six ditto.
Botany six ditto.
Rural Economy and the Veterinary Art six ditto.
Anatomy and Zoology six ditto.
Medicine and Surgery six ditto.
The first class shall name, with the approbation of the Chief Consul,
two perpetual secretaries; the one for the mathematical sciences; the
other, for the physical. The perpetual secretaries shall be members
of the class, but shall make no part of any section.
The first class may elect six of its members from among the other
classes of the Institute. It may name a hundred correspondents, taken
from among the learned men of the nation, and those of foreign
III. The second class shall be composed of forty members.
It is particularly charged with the compilation and improvement of
the dictionary of the French tongue. With respect to language, it
shall examine important works of literature, history, and sciences.
The collection of its critical observations shall be published at
least four times a year.
It shall appoint from its own members, and with the approbation of
the First Consul, a perpetual secretary, who shall continue to make
one of the sixty members of whom the class is composed.
It may elect twelve of its members from among those of the other
classes of the Institute.
IV. The third class shall be composed of forty members and eight
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
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
It may name sixty national or foreign correspondents.
V. The fourth class shall be composed of twenty-eight members and
eight foreign associates. They shall be divided into sections, named
and composed as follows:
Painting ten members.
Sculpture six ditto.
Architecture six ditto.
Engraving three ditto.
Music (composition) three ditto.
With the approbation of the First Consul, it shall appoint a
perpetual secretary, who shall be a member of the class, but shall
not make part of the sections.
It may elect six of its members from among the other classes of the
It may name thirty-six national or foreign correspondents.
VI. The associated foreign members shall have a deliberative vote
only for objects relating to sciences, literature, and arts. They
shall not make part of any section, and shall receive no salary.
VII. The present associates of the Institute, scattered throughout
the Republic, shall make part of the one hundred and ninety-six
correspondents, attached to the classes of the sciences,
belles-lettres, and fine arts.
The correspondents cannot assume the title of members of the
Institute. They shall drop that of correspondents, when they take up
their constant residence in Paris.
VIII. The nominations to the vacancies shall be made by each of the
classes in which those vacancies shall happen to occur. The persons
elected shall be approved by the First Consul.
IX. The members of the four classes shall have a right to attend
reciprocally the private sittings of each of them, and to read papers
there when they have made the request.
They shall assemble four times a year as the body of the Institute,
in order to give to each other an account of their transactions.
They shall elect in common the librarian and under-librarian, as well
as all the agents who belong in common to the Institute.
Each class shall present for the approbation of the government the
particular statutes and regulations of its interior police.
X. Each class shall hold every year a public sitting, at which the
other three shall assist.
XI. The Institute shall receive annually, from the public treasury,
1500 francs for each of its members, not associates; 6000 francs for
each of its perpetual secretaries; and, for its expenses, a sum which
shall be determined on, every year, at the request of the Institute,
and comprised in the budget of the Minister of the Interior.
XII. The Institute shall have an administrative commission, composed
of five members, two of the first class, and one of each of the other
three, appointed by their respective classes.
This commission shall cause to be regulated in the general sittings,
prescribed in Art. IX, every thing relative to the administration, to
the general purposes of the Institute, and to the division of the
funds between the four classes.
Each class shall afterwards regulate the employment of the funds
which shall have been assigned for its expenses, as well as every
thing that concerns the printing and publication of its memoirs.
XIII. Every year, each class shall distribute prizes, the number and
value of which shall be regulated as follows:
The first class, a prize of 3000 francs.
The second and third classes, each a prize of 1500 francs.
And the fourth class, great prizes of painting, sculpture,
architecture, and musical composition. Those who shall have gained
one of these four great prizes, shall be sent to Rome, and maintained
at the expense of the government.
XIV. The Minister of the Interior is charged with the execution of
the present decree, which shall be inserted in the Bulletin of the
[Footnote 1: Referred to in Letter XLV, Vol. II of this work.]
On ushering into the world a literary production, custom has
established that its parent should give some account of his
offspring. Indeed, this becomes the more necessary at the present
moment, as the short-lived peace, which gave birth to the following
sheets, had already ceased before they were entirely printed; and the
war in which England and France are now engaged, is of a nature
calculated not only to rouse all the energy and ancient spirit of my
countrymen, but also to revive their prejudices, and inflame their
passions, in a degree proportionate to the enemy's boastful and
I therefore premise that those who may be tempted to take up this
publication, merely with a view of seeking aliment for their enmity,
will, in more respects than one, probably find themselves
disappointed. The two nations were not rivals in arms, but in the
arts and sciences, at the time these letters were written, and
committed to the press; consequently, they have no relation whatever
to the present contest. Nevertheless, as they refer to subjects which
manifest the indefatigable activity of the French in the
accomplishment of any grand object, such parts may, perhaps, furnish
hints that may not be altogether unimportant at this momentous
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
This is a phenomenon of which antiquity affords no parallel; and it
has produced a rapid succession of events so extraordinary as almost
to exceed belief.
It is not the crimes to which it has given birth that will be thought
improbable: the history of revolutions, as well ancient as modern,
furnishes but too many examples of them; and few have been committed,
the traces of which are not to be found in the countries where the
imagination of the multitude has been exalted by strong and new
ideas, respecting Liberty and Equality. But what posterity will find
difficult to believe, is the agitation of men's minds, and the
effervescence of the passions, carried to such a pitch, as to stamp
the French revolution with a character bordering on the marvellous
--Yes; posterity will have reason to be astonished at the facility
with which the human mind can be modified and made to pass from one
extreme to another; at the suddenness, in short, with which the ideas
and manners of the French were changed; so powerful, on the one hand,
is the ascendency of certain imaginations; and, on the other, so
great is the weakness of the vulgar!
It is in the recollection of most persons, that the agitation of the
public mind in France was such, for a while, that, after having
overthrown the monarchy and its supports; rendered private property
insecure; and destroyed individual freedom; it threatened to invade
foreign countries, at the same time pushing before it Liberty, that
first blessing of man, when it is founded on laws, and the most
dangerous of chimeras, when it is without rule or restraint.
The greater part of the causes which excited this general commotion,
existed before the assembly of the States-General in 1789. It is
therefore important to take a mental view of the moral and political
situation of France at that period, and to follow, in imagination at
least, the chain of ideas, passions, and errors, which, having
dissolved the ties of society, and worn out the springs of
government, led the nation by gigantic strides into the most complete
Without enumerating the different authorities which successively
ruled in France after the fall of the throne, it appears no less
essential to remind the reader that, in this general disorganization,
the inhabitants themselves, though breathing the same air, scarcely
knew that they belonged to the same nation. The altars overthrown;
all the ancient institutions annihilated; new festivals and
ceremonies introduced; factious demagogues honoured with an
apotheosis; their busts exposed to public veneration; men and cities
changing names; a portion of the people infected with atheism, and
disguised in the livery of guilt and folly; all this, and more,
exercised the reflection of the well-disposed in a manner the most
painful. In a word, though France was peopled with the same
individuals, it seemed inhabited by a new nation, entirely different
from the old one in its government, its creed, its principles, its
manners, and even its customs.
War itself assumed a new face. Every thing relating to it became
extraordinary: the number of the combatants, the manner of recruiting
the armies, and the means of providing supplies for them; the
manufacture of powder, cannon, and muskets; the ardour, impetuosity,
and forced marches of the troops; their extortions, their successes,
and their reverses; the choice of the generals, and the superior
talents of some of them, together with the springs, by which these
enormous bodies of armed men were moved and directed, were equally
new and astonishing.
History tells us that in poor countries, where nothing inflames
cupidity and ambition, the love alone of the public good causes
changes to be tried in the government; and that those changes derange
not the ordinary course of society; whereas, among rich nations,
corrupted by luxury, revolutions are always effected through secret
motives of jealousy and interest; because there are great places to
be usurped, and great fortunes to be invaded. In France, the
revolution covered the country with ruins, tears, and blood, because
means were not to be found to moderate in the people that
_revolutionary spirit_ which parches, in the bud, the promised fruits
of liberty, when its violence is not repressed.
Few persons were capable of keeping pace with the rapid progress of
the revolution. Those who remained behind were considered as guilty
of desertion. The authors of the first constitution were accused of
being _royalists_; the old partisans of republicanism were punished
as _moderates_; the land-owners, as _aristocrates_; the monied men,
as _corrupters_; the bankers and financiers, as _blood-suckers_; the
shop-keepers, as _promoters of famine_; and the newsmongers, as
_alarmists_. The factious themselves, in short, were alternately
proscribed, as soon as they ceased to belong to the ruling faction.
In this state of things, society became a prey to the most baneful
passions. Mistrust entered every heart; friendship had no attraction;
relationship, no tie; and men's minds, hardened by the habit of
misfortune, or overwhelmed by fear, no longer opened to pity.
Terror compressed every imagination; and the revolutionary
government, exercising it to its fullest extent, struck off a
prodigious number of heads, filled the prisons with victims, and
continued to corrupt the morals of the nation by staining it with
But all things have an end. The tyrants fell; the dungeons were
thrown open; numberless victims emerged from them; and France seemed
to recover new life; but still bewildered by the _revolutionary
spirit_, wasted by the concealed poison of anarchy, exhausted by her
innumerable sacrifices, and almost paralyzed by her own convulsions,
she made but impotent efforts for the enjoyment of liberty and
justice. Taxes became more burdensome; commerce was annihilated;
industry, without aliment; paper-money, without value; and specie,
without circulation. However, while the French nation was degraded at
home by this series of evils, it was respected abroad through the
rare merit of some of its generals, the splendour of its victories,
and the bravery of its soldiers.
During these transactions, there was formed in the public mind that
moral resistance which destroys not governments by violence, but
undermines them. The intestine commotions were increasing; the
conquests of the French were invaded; their enemies were already on
their frontiers; and the division which had broken out between the
Directory and the Legislative Body, again threatened France with a
total dissolution, when a man of extraordinary character and talents
had the boldness to seize the reins of authority, and stop the
further progress of the revolution. Taking at the full the tide
which leads on to fortune, he at once changed the face of affairs,
not only within the limits of the Republic, but throughout Europe.
Yet, after all their triumphs, the French have the mortification to
have failed in gaining that for which they first took up arms, and
for which they have maintained so long and so obstinate a struggle.
When a strong mound has been broken down, the waters whose amassed
volume it opposed, rush forward, and, in their impetuous course,
spread afar terror and devastation. On visiting the scene where this
has occurred, we naturally cast our eyes in every direction, to
discover the mischief which they have occasioned by their irruption;
so, then, on reaching the grand theatre of the French revolution, did
I look about for the traces of the havock it had left behind; but,
like a river which had regained its level, and flowed again in its
natural bed, this political torrent had subsided, and its ravages
were repaired in a manner the most surprising.
However, at the particular request of an estimable friend, I have
endeavoured to draw the contrast which, in 1789-90 and 1801-2, Paris
presented to the eye of an impartial observer. In this arduous
attempt I have not the vanity to flatter myself that I have been
successful, though I have not hesitated to lay under contribution
every authority likely to promote my object. The state of the French
capital, before the revolution, I have delineated from the notes I
had myself collected on the spot, and for which purpose I was, at
that time, under the necessity of consulting almost as many books as
Don Quixote read on knight-errantry; but the authors from whom I have
chiefly borrowed, are St. FOIX, MERCIER, DULAURE, PUJOULX, and BIOT.
My invariable aim has been to relate, _sine ira nec studio_, such
facts and circumstances as have come to my knowledge, and to render
to every one that justice which I should claim for myself. After a
revolution which has trenched on so many opposite interests, the
reader cannot be surprised, if information, derived from such a
variety of sources, should sometimes seem to bear the character of
party-spirit. Should this appear _on the face of the record_, I can
only say that I have avoided entering into politics, in order that no
bias of that sort might lead me to discolour or distort the truths I
have had occasion to state; and I have totally rejected those
communications which, from their tone of bitterness, personality, and
virulence, might be incompatible with the general tenour of an
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
Yet, whatever pains I have taken to be strictly impartial, it cannot
be denied that, in publishing a work of this description at a time
when the self-love of most men is mortified, and their resentment
awakened, I run no small risk of displeasing all parties, because I
attach myself to none, but find them all more or less deserving of
censure. Without descending either to flattery or calumny, I speak
both well and ill of the French, because I copy nature, and neither
draw an imaginary portrait, nor write a systematic narrative. If I
have occasionally given vent to my indignation in glancing at the
excesses of the revolution, I have not withheld my tribute of
applause from those institutions, which, being calculated to benefit
mankind by the gratuitous diffusion of knowledge, would reflect
honour on any nation. In other respects, I have not been unmindful of
that excellent precept of TACITUS, in which he observes that "The
principal duty of the historian is to rescue from oblivion virtuous
actions, and to make bad men dread infamy and posterity for what they
have said and done."
In stating facts, it is frequently necessary to support them by a
relation of particular circumstances, which may corroborate them in
an unquestionable manner. Feeling this truth, I have some times
introduced myself on my canvass, merely to shew that I am not an
ideal traveller. I mean one of those pleasant fellows who travel post
in their elbow-chair, sail round the world on a map suspended to one
side of their room, cross the seas with a pocket-compass lying on
their table, experience a shipwreck by their fireside, make their
escape when it scorches their shins, and land on a desert island in
their _robe de chambre_ and slippers.
I have, therefore, here and there mentioned names, time, and place,
to prove that, _bona fide_, I went to Paris immediately after the
ratification of the preliminary treaty. To banish uniformity in my
description of that metropolis, I have, as much as possible, varied
my subjects. Fashions, sciences, absurdities, anecdotes, education,
fetes, useful arts, places of amusement, music, learned and
scientific institutions, inventions, public buildings, industry,
agriculture, &c. &c. &c. being all jumbled together in my brain, I
have thence drawn them, like tickets from a lottery; and it will not,
I trust, be deemed presumptuous in me to indulge a hope that, in
proportion to the blanks, there will be found no inadequate number of
I have pointed out the immense advantages which France is likely to
derive from her Schools for Public Services, and other establishments
of striking utility, such as the _Depot de la Guerre_ and the _Depot
de la Marine_, in order that the British government may be prompted
to form institutions, which, if not exactly similar, may at least
answer the same purpose. Instead of copying the French in objects of
fickleness and frivolity, why not borrow from them what is really
deserving of imitation?
It remains for me to observe, by way of stimulating the ambition of
British genius, that, in France, the arts and sciences are now making
a rapid and simultaneous progress; first, because the revolution has
made them popular in that country; and, secondly, because they are
daily connected by new ties, which, in a great measure, render them
inseparable. Facts are there recurred to, less with a view to draw
from them immediate applications than to develop the truths resulting
from them. The first step is from these facts to their most simple
consequences, which are little more than bare assertions. From these
the _savans_ proceed to others more minute, till, at length, by
imperceptible degrees, they arrive at the most abstracted
generalities. With them, method is an induction incessantly verified
by experiment. Whence, it gives to human intelligence, not wings
which lead it astray, but reins which guide it. United by this common
philosophy, the sciences and arts in France advance together; and the
progress made by one of them serves to promote that of the rest.
There, the men who profess them, considering that their knowledge
belongs not to themselves alone, not to their country only, but to
all mankind, are continually striving to increase the mass of public
knowledge. This they regard as a real duty, which they are proud to
discharge; thus treading in the steps of the most memorable men of
Then, while the more unlearned and unskilled among us are emulating
the patriotic enthusiasm of the French in volunteering, as they did,
to resist invasion, let our men of science and genius exert
themselves not to be surpassed by the industrious _savans_ and
artists of that nation; but let them act on the principle inculcated
by the following sublime idea of our illustrious countryman, the
founder of modern philosophy. "It may not be amiss," says BACON, "to
point out three different kinds, and, as it were, degrees of
ambition. The first, that of those who desire to enhance, in their
own country, the power they arrogate to themselves: this kind of
ambition is both vulgar and degenerate. The second, that of those who
endeavour to extend the power and domination of their country, over
the whole of the human race: in this kind there is certainly a
greater dignity, though; at the same time, no less a share of
cupidity. But should any one strive to restore and extend the power
and domination of mankind over the universality of things,
unquestionably such an ambition, (if it can be so denominated) would
be more reasonable and dignified than the others. Now, the empire of
man, over things, has its foundation exclusively in the arts and
sciences; for it is only by an obedience to her laws, that Nature can
LONDON, June 10, 1803.
[Footnote 1: Of two things, we are left to believe one. BONAPARTE
either was or was not invited to put himself at the head of the
government of France. It is not probable that the Directory should
send for him from Egypt, in order to say to him: "we are fools and
drivelers, unfit to conduct the affairs of the nation; so turn us out
of office, and seat yourself in our place." Nevertheless, they might
have hoped to preserve their tottering authority through his support.
Be this as it may, there it something so singular in the good fortune
which has attended BONAPARTE from the period of his quitting
Alexandria, that, were it not known for truth, it might well be taken
for fiction. Sailing from the road of Aboukir on the 24th of August,
1799, he eludes the vigilance of the English cruisers, and lands at
Frejus in France on the 14th of October following, the forty-seventh
day after his departure from Egypt. On his arrival in Paris, so far
from giving an account of his conduct to the Directory, he turns his
back on them; accepts the proposition made to him, from another
quarter, to effect a change in the government; on the 9th of
November, carries it into execution; and, profiting by the _popularis
aura_, fixes himself at the head of the State, at the same time
kicking down the ladder by which he climbed to power. To achieve all
this with such promptitude and energy, most assuredly required a mind
of no common texture; nor can any one deny that ambition would have
done but little towards its accomplishment, had it not been seconded
by extraordinary firmness.]
[Footnote 2: _"Praecipuum munus annalium reor, ne virtutes sileantur,
utque praxis dictis factisque ex posteritate et infamia metus sit."_]
[Footnote 3: "_Praeterca non abs refuerit, tria hominum ambitionis
genera et quasi gradus distinguere. Primum eorum qui propriam
potentiam in patria sua amplificare cupiunt; quod genus vulgare est
et degener. Secundum eorum, qui patriae potentiam et imperium inter
humanum genus amplificare nituntur; illud plus certe habet
dignitatis, cupiditatis haud minus. Quod si quis humani generis
ipsius potentiam et imperium in rerum univertitatem instaurare et
amplificare conetur ea procul dubio ambitio (si modo ita cocanda sit)
reliquls et sanior est et augustior. Hominis autem imperium in res,
in solis artibus et scientiis ponitur: naturae enim non imperatur,
nisi parendo_." Nov. org. scientiarum. Aphor. CXXIX. (Vol. VIII. page
72, new edition of BACON'S works. London, printed 1803.)]
A SKETCH OF PARIS, &c. &c.
_Calais, October 16, 1801._
MY DEAR FRIEND,
Had you not made it a particular request that I would give you the
earliest account of my debarkation in France, I should, probably, not
have been tempted to write to you till I reached Paris. I well know
the great stress which you lay on first impressions; but what little
I have now to communicate will poorly gratify your expectation.
From the date of this letter, you will perceive that, since we parted
yesterday, I have not been dilatory in my motions. No sooner had a
messenger from the Alien-Office brought me the promised passport, or
rather his Majesty's licence, permitting me to embark for France,
than I proceeded on my journey.
In nine hours I reached Dover, and, being authorized by a proper
introduction, immediately applied to Mr. Mantell, the agent for
prisoners of war, cartels, &c. for a passage across the water. An
English flag of truce was then in the harbour, waiting only for
government dispatches; and I found that, if I could get my baggage
visited in time, I might avail myself of the opportunity of crossing
the sea in this vessel. On having recourse to the collector of the
customs, I succeeded in my wish: the dispatches arriving shortly
after, mid my baggage being already shipped, I stepped off the quay
into the Nancy, on board of which I was the only passenger. A
propitious breeze sprang up at the moment, and, in less than three
hours, wafted me to Calais pier.
By the person who carried the dispatches to Citizen Mengaud, the
commissary for this department (_Pas de Calais_), I sent a card with
my name and rank, requesting permission to land and deliver to him a
letter from M. Otto. This step was indispensable: the vessel which
brought me was, I find, the first British flag of truce that has been
suffered to enter the harbour, with the exception of the Prince of
Wales packet, now waiting here for the return of a king's messenger
from Paris; and her captain even has not yet been permitted to go on
shore. It therefore appears that I shall be the first Englishman, not
in an official character, who has set foot on French ground since the
ratification of the preliminary treaty.
The pier was presently crowded with people gazing at our vessel, as
if she presented a spectacle perfectly novel: but, except the
tri-coloured cockade in the hats of the military, I could not observe
the smallest difference in their general appearance. Instead of crops
and round wigs, which I expected to see in universal vogue, here were
full as many powdered heads and long queues as before the revolution.
Frenchmen, in general, will, I am persuaded, ever be Frenchmen in
their dress, which, in my opinion, can never be _revolutionized_,
either by precept or example. The _citoyens_, as far as I am yet able
to judge, most certainly have not fattened by warfare more than JOHN
BULL: their visages are as sallow and as thin as formerly, though
their persons are not quite so meagre as they are pourtrayed by
The prospect of peace, however, seemed to have produced an
exhilarating effect on all ranks; satisfaction appeared on every
countenance. According to custom, a host of inkeepers' domestics
boarded the vessel, each vaunting the superiority of his master's
accommodations. My old landlord Ducrocq presenting himself to
congratulate me on my arrival, soon freed me from their
importunities, and I, of course, decided in favour of the _Lion
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
My attention was soon diverted from this scene, by a polite answer
from the commissary, inviting me to his house. I instantly
disembarked to wait on him; my letter containing nothing more than an
introduction, accompanied by a request that I might be furnished with
a passport to enable me to proceed to Paris without delay, Citizen
Mengaud dispatched a proper person to attend me to the town-hall,
where the passports are made out, and signed by the mayor; though
they are not delivered till they have also received the commissary's
signature. However, to lose no time, while one of the clerks was
drawing my picture, or, in other words, taking down a minute
description of my person, I sent my keys to the custom-house, in
order that my baggage might be examined.
By what conveyance I was to proceed to Paris was the next point to be
settled; and this has brought me to the _Lion d'Argent_.
Among other vehicles, Ducrocq has, in his _remise_, an
apparently-good _cabriolet de voyage_, belonging to one of his Paris
correspondents; but, on account of the wretched state of the roads,
he begs me to allow him time to send for his coachmaker, to examine
it scrupulously, that I may not be detained by the way, from any
accident happening to the carriage.
I was just on the point of concluding my letter, when a French naval
officer, who was on the pier when I landed, introduced himself to me,
to know whether I would do him the favour to accommodate him with a
place in the cabriolet under examination. I liked my new friend's
appearance and manner too well not to accede to his proposal.
The carriage is reported to be in good condition. I shall therefore
send my servant on before as a courier, instead of taking him with me
as an inside passenger. As we shall travel night and day, and the
post-horses will be in readiness at every stage, we may, I am told,
expect to reach Paris in about forty-two hours. Adieu; my next will
be from the _great_ city.
_Paris, October 19, 1801._
Here I am safe arrived; that is, without any broken bones; though my
arms, knees, and head are finely pummelled by the jolting of the
carriage. Well might Ducrocq say that the roads were bad! In several
places, they are not passable without danger--Indeed, the government
is so fully aware of this, that an inspector has been dispatched to
direct immediate repairs to be made against the arrival of the
English ambassador; and, in some _communes_, the people are at work
by torch-light. With this exception, my journey was exceedingly
pleasant. At ten o'clock the first night, we reached _Montreuil_,
where we supped; the next day we breakfasted at _Abbeville_, dined at
_Amiens_, and supped that evening at _Clermont_.
The road between _Calais_ and _Paris_ is too well known to interest
by description. Most of the abbeys and monasteries, which present
themselves to the eye of the traveller, have either been converted
into hospitals or manufactories. Few there are, I believe, who will
deny that this change is for the better. A receptacle for the relief
of suffering indigence conveys a consolatory idea to the mind of the
friend of human nature; while the lover of industry cannot but
approve of an establishment which, while it enriches a State, affords
employ to the needy and diligent. This, unquestionably, is no bad
appropriation of these buildings, which, when inhabited by monks,
were, for the most part, no more than an asylum of sloth, hypocrisy,
pride, and ignorance.
The weather was fine, which contributed not a little to display the
country to greater advantage; but the improvements recently made in
agriculture are too striking to escape the notice of the most
inattentive observer. The open plains and rising grounds of
_ci-devant Picardy_ which, from ten to fifteen years ago, I have
frequently seen, in this season, mostly lying fallow, and presenting
the aspect of one wide, neglected waste, are now all well cultivated,
and chiefly laid down in corn; and the corn, in general, seems to
have been sown with more than common attention.
My fellow-traveller, who was a _lieutenant de vaisseau_, belonging to
_Latouche Treville's_ flotilla, proved a very agreeable companion,
and extremely well-informed. This officer positively denied the
circumstance of any of their gun-boats being moored with chains
during our last attack. While he did ample justice to the bravery of
our people, he censured the manner in which it had been exerted. The
divisions of boats arriving separately, he said, could not afford to
each other necessary support, and were thus exposed to certain
discomfiture. I made the best defence I possibly could; but truth
bears down all before it.
The loss on the side of the French, my fellow-traveller declared, was
no more than seven men killed and forty-five wounded. Such of the
latter as were in a condition to undergo the fatigue of the ceremony,
were carried in triumphal procession through the streets of
_Boulogne_, where, after being harangued by the mayor, they were
rewarded with civic crowns from the hands of their fair
Early the second morning after our departure from _Calais_, we
reached the town of _St. Denis_, which, at one time since the
revolution, changed its name for that of _Franciade_. I never pass
through this place without calling to mind the persecution which poor
Abelard suffered from Adam, the abbot, for having dared to say, that
the body of _St. Denis_, first bishop of Paris, in 240, which had
been preserved in this abbey among the relics, was not that of the
areopagite, who died in 95. The ridiculous stories, imposed on the
credulity of the zealous catholics, respecting this wonderful saint,
have been exhibited in their proper light by Voltaire, as you may see
by consulting the _Questions sur l'Encyclopedie_, at the article
It is in every person's recollection that, in consequence of the
National Convention having decreed the abolition of royalty in
France, it was proposed to annihilate every vestige of it throughout
the country. But, probably, you are not aware of the thorough sweep
that was made among the sepultures in this abbey of _St. Denis_.
The bodies of the kings, queens, princes, princesses, and celebrated
personages, who had been interred here for nearly fifteen hundred
years, were taken up, and literally reduced to ashes. Not a wreck was
left behind to make a relic.
The remains of TURENNE alone were respected. All the other bodies,
together with the entrails or hearts, enclosed in separate urns, were
thrown into large pits, lined with a coat of quick lime: they were
then covered with the same substance; and the pits were afterwards
filled up with earth. Most of them, as may be supposed, were in a
state of complete putrescency; of some, the bones only remained,
though a few were in good preservation.
The bodies of the consort of Charles I. Henrietta Maria of France,
daughter of Henry IV, who died in 1669, aged 60, and of their
daughter Henrietta Stuart, first wife of Monsieur, only brother to
Lewis XIV, who died in 1670, aged 26, both interred in the vault of
the Bourbons, were consumed in the general destruction.
The execution of this decree was begun at _St. Denis_ on Saturday the
12th of October 1793, and completed on the 25th of the same month, in
presence of the municipality and several other persons.
On the 12th of November following, all the treasure of _St. Denis_,
(shrines, relics, &c.) was removed: the whole was put into large
wooden chests, together with all the rich ornaments of the church,
consisting of chalices, pyxes, cups, copes, &c. The same day these
valuable articles were sent off, in great state, in waggons,
decorated for the purpose, to the National Convention.
We left _St. Denis_ after a hasty breakfast; and, on reaching Paris,
I determined to drive to the residence of a man whom I had never
seen; but from whom I had little doubt of a welcome reception. I
accordingly alighted in the _Rue neuve St. Roch_, where I found
B----a, who perfectly answered the character given me of him by
You already know that, through the interest of my friend, Captain
O----y, I was so fortunate as to procure the exchange of B----a's
only son, a deserving youth, who had been taken prisoner at sea, and
languished two years in confinement in Portchester-Castle.
Before I could introduce myself, one of young B----a's sisters
proclaimed my name, as if by inspiration; and I was instantly greeted
with the cordial embraces of the whole family. This scene made me at
once forget the fatigues of my journey; and, though I had not been in
bed for three successive nights, the agreeable sensations excited in
my mind, by the unaffected expression of gratitude, banished every
inclination to sleep. If honest B----a and his family felt themselves
obliged to me, I felt myself doubly and trebly obliged to Captain
O----y; for, to his kind exertion, was I indebted for the secret
enjoyment arising from the performance of a disinterested action.
S----i was no sooner informed of my arrival, than he hastened to obey
the invitation to meet me at dinner, and, by his presence, enlivened
the family party. After spending a most agreeable day, I retired to a
temporary lodging, which B----a had procured me in the neighbourhood.
I shall remain in it no longer than till I can suit myself with
apartments in a private house, where I can be more retired, or at
least subject to less noise, than in a public hotel.
Of the fifty-eight hours which I employed in performing my journey
hither from London, forty-four were spent on my way between Calais
and Paris; a distance that I have often travelled with ease in
thirty-six, when the roads were in tolerable repair. Considerable
delay too is at present occasioned by the erection of _barrieres_, or
turnpike-bars, which did not exist before the revolution. At this
day, they are established throughout all the departments, and are an
insuperable impediment to expedition; for, at night, the
toll-gatherers are fast asleep, and the bars being secured, you are
obliged to wait patiently till these good citizens choose to rise
from their pillow.
To counterbalance this inconvenience, you are not now plagued, as
formerly, by custom-house officers on the frontiers of _every_
department. My baggage being once searched at _Calais_, experienced
no other visit; but, at the upper town of _Boulogne_, a sight of my
travelling passport was required; by mistake in the dark, I gave the
_commis_ a scrawl, put into my hands by Ducrocq, containing an
account of the best inns on the road. Would you believe that this
inadvertency detained us a considerable time, so extremely
inquisitive are they, at the present moment, respecting all papers?
At _Calais_, the custom-house officers even examined every piece of
paper used in the packing of my baggage. This scrutiny is not
particularly adopted towards Englishmen; but must, I understand, be
undergone by travellers of every country, on entering the territory
of the Republic.
_P. S._ Lord Cornwallis is expected with impatience; and, at _St.
Denis_, an escort of dragoons of the 19th demi-brigade is in waiting
to attend him into Paris.
_Paris, October 21, 1801._
On approaching this capital, my curiosity was excited in the highest
degree; and, as the carriage passed rapidly along from the
_Barriere_, through the _Porte St. Denis_, to the _Rue neuve St.
Roch_, my eyes wandered in all directions, anxiously seeking every
shade of distinction between _monarchical_ and _republican_ Paris.
The first thing that attracted my attention, on entering the
_faubourg_, was the vast number of inscriptions placed, during the
revolution, on many of the principal houses; but more especially on
public buildings of every description. They are painted in large,
conspicuous letters; and the following is the most general style in
which they have been originally worded:
"REPUBLIQUE FRANCAISE, UNE ET INDIVISIBLE."
"LIBERTE, EGALITE, FRATERNITE, OU LA MORT."
Since the exit of the French Nero, the last three words "_ou la
mort_" have been obliterated, but in few places are so completely
effaced as not to be still legible. In front of all the public
offices and national establishments, the tri-coloured flag is
triumphantly displayed; and almost every person you meet wears in his
hat the national cockade.
The tumult which, ten or twelve years ago, rendered the streets of
Paris so noisy, so dirty, and at the same time so dangerous, is now
most sensibly diminished. Boileau's picture of them is no longer
just. No longer are seen those scenes of confusion occasioned by the
frequent stoppages of coaches and carts, and the contentions of the
vociferating drivers. You may now pass the longest and most crowded
thoroughfares, either on foot or otherwise, without obstacle or
inconvenience. The contrast is striking.
Indeed, from what I have observed, I should presume that there is
not, at the present day, one tenth part of the number of carriages
which were in use here in 1780-90. Except on the domestics of foreign
ambassadors and foreigners, I have as yet noticed nothing like a
livery; and, in lieu of armorial bearings, every carriage, without
distinction, has a number painted on the pannel. However, if private
equipages are scarce, thence ensues more than one advantage; the
public are indemnified by an increased number of good hackney
coaches, chariots, and cabriolets; and, besides, as I have just
hinted, pedestrians are not only far less exposed to being
bespattered, but also to having their limbs fractured.
Formerly, a _seigneur de la cour_ conceived himself justified in
suffering his coachman to drive at a mischievous rate; and in narrow,
crowded streets, where there is no foot-pavement, it was extremely
difficult for persons walking to escape the wheels of a great number
of carriages rattling along in this shameful manner. But he who
guided the chariot of a _ministre d'etat_, considered it as a
necessary and distinctive mark of his master's pre-eminence to
_bruler le pave_. This is so strictly true, that, before the
revolution, I have here witnessed repeated accidents of the most
serious nature, resulting from the exercise of this sort of
ministerial privilege: on one occasion particularly, I myself
narrowly escaped unhurt, when a decent, elderly woman was thrown
down, close by my feet, and had both her thighs broken through the
unfeeling wantonness of the coachman of the Baron de Breteuil, at
that time minister for the department of Paris.
Owing to the salutary regulations of the police, the recurrence of
these accidents is now, in a great measure, prevented; and, as the
empirics say in their hand-bills: "_Prevention is better than cure._"
But for these differences, a person who had not seen Paris for some
years, might, unless he were to direct his visits to particular
quarters, cross it from one extremity to the other, without remarking
any change to inform his mind, that here had been a revolution, or
rather that, for the last ten years, this city had been almost one
continual scene of revolutions.
Bossnet, once preaching before Lewis XIV, exclaimed: "Kings die, and
so do kingdoms!" Could that great preacher rise from his grave into
the pulpit, and behold France without a king, and that kingdom, not
crumbled away, but enlarged, almost with the rapid accumulation of a
snow-ball, into an enormous mass of territory, under the title of
French Republic, what would he not have to say in a sermon? _Rien de
nouveau sous le ciel_, though an old proverb, would not now suit as a
maxim. This, in fact, seems the age of wonders. The league of
monarchs has ended by producing republics; while a republic has
raised a dukedom into a monarchy, and, by its vast preponderance,
completely overturned the balance of power.
Not knowing when I may have an opportunity of sending this letter, I
shall defer to close it for the present, as I may possibly lengthen
it. But you must not expect much order in my narrations. I throw my
thoughts on paper just as they happen to present themselves, without
any studied arrangement.
_October 21, in continuation_.
When we have been for some time in the habit of corresponding with
strangers, we are apt to draw such inferences from their language and
style, as furnish us with the means of sketching an ideal portrait of
their person. This was the case with myself.
Through the concurrence of the two governments, I had, as you know,
participated, in common with others, in the indulgence of being
permitted to correspond, occasionally, on subjects of literature with
several of the _savans_ and literati of France. Indeed, the principal
motive of my journey to Paris was to improve that sort of
acquaintance, by personal intercourse, so as to render it more
interesting to both parties. In my imagination, I had drawn a
full-length picture of most of my literary correspondents. I was now
anxious to see the originals, and compare the resemblance.
Yesterday, having first paid my respects to Mr. M----y, the successor
to Captain C----s, as commissary for the maintenance and exchange of
British prisoners of war, and at present _Charge d'affaires_ from our
court to the French Republic, I called on M. F----u, formerly
minister of the naval department, and at present counsellor of state,
and member of the National Institute, as well as of the board of
longitude. I then visited M. O----r, and afterwards M.
L------re, also members of the Institute, and both well known to our
proficients in natural history, by the works which each has published
in the different branches of that interesting science.
In one only of my ideal portraits had I been very wide of the
likeness. However, without pretending to be a Lavater, I may affirm
that I should not have risked falling into a mistake like that
committed, on a somewhat similar occasion, by Voltaire.
This colossus of French literature, having been for a long time in
correspondence with the great Frederic, became particularly anxious
to see that monarch. On his arrival in a village where the
head-quarters of the Prussian army were then established, Voltaire
inquired for the king's lodging: thither he paced with redoubled
speed; and, being directed to the upper part of the house, he hastily
crossed a large garret; he then found himself in a second, and was
just on the point of entering the third, when, on turning round, he
perceived in one of the comers of the room, a soldier, not overclean
in appearance, lying on a sorry bedstead. He went up and said to him
with eagerness: "Where's the king?"--"I am Frederic," replied the
soldier; and, sure enough, it was the monarch himself.
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 the 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
go to the _Hotel d'Angleterre_, in the _Rue des Filles St. Thomas_,
hot far from the _ci-devant Palais Royal_. 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 an 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 of 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, not even 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-cochere_ 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.
_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 quite 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 the 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 dominion 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
desert, 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
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, 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," said he, "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 needless," 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 _thermolampes_ are
likely to render tanning-mills unnecessary, by furnishing the tan
without further trouble. But to return to the aeriform 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 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 pervious 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 an 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 breaze, 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
facade 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 the
effects of our steam-engines, and it is needless to borrow this
succour from foreign water."