Part 11 out of 14
the common price of which was from three to five hundred francs.
Germany mostly supplied her with wind and string instruments. German
French-horns, though coarsely-made instruments, cost seventy-two
francs, and the good violins of the Tyrol were paid for as high as
one hundred and twenty. The consumption of these instruments was
considerable. Nor will this appear surprising, as previously to the
foundation of the Conservatory, the instrumental musicians, employed
in the French regiments and places of public amusement, were mostly
The French _piano-fortes_ are now in request in most parts of Europe,
and their price has, in consequence, increased from one thousand to
two thousand four hundred francs. The price of French-horns, made in
Paris, which, from being better finished, are preferable to those of
Germany, has, in like manner, risen from three to five hundred
francs. Parisian violins have increased in proportion.
With respect to printed music, the French import none; but, on the
contrary, export a great deal; and the advantages resulting from
these two branches of commerce, together with the stamp-duty attached
to the latter, are said to be sufficient to defray the expenses of
the musical establishments now existing, or those proposed to be
Before I close this letter, I must not omit to mention a very useful
institution, for the promotion of the mechanical arts, established
in the _Rue de l'Ecole de Medecine_, and called the
GRATUITOUS SCHOOL FOR DRAWING.
It was founded in the year 1766, for the instruction of fifteen
hundred children intended for mechanical professions, and was the
first beneficent establishment opened in favour of the common people.
Literature, sciences, and liberal arts had every where public
schools; mechanical arts alone were neglected. The lower orders, by
whom they were exercised, had no other means of learning them, and of
developing the faculties of their mind, than the blind routine of
The success of this school had progressively caused similar ones to
be instituted in a great number of towns of France, but most of them
are buried under the ruins of the revolution; that of Paris has
escaped the general overthrow; and, though it has lost a considerable
portion of its revenue, it still admits about six hundred pupils.
They are taught every thing relative to the mechanical arts, such as
drawing in all its various branches, military, civil, and naval
architecture, hydraulics, arithmetic, land-surveying, mensuration,
perspective, stone-cutting, and in short such parts of mathematics
and practical geometry as relate to those different objects.
The Gratuitous School for Drawing must not be assimilated to
establishments intended for improving the taste of those who follow
the career of the liberal arts. It presents immediately to the
children of the lower orders of the people the instruction that suits
them best. Here, every thing is useful. Not only are the pupils
instructed _gratis_, but the school furnishes to the indigent,
recommended by one of the founders, the paper, pencils, and
instruments necessary for their studies in the classes, and also
models for exercising their talents at home.
* * * * *
I shall speak elsewhere of the _Special School of Medicine_ of Paris;
there are two others, one at Montpellier, and one at Strasburg. At
Alfort, near Paris, is established, on a grand scale, a
It would lead me too far to particularize every department of this
extensive establishment; but one of these is too useful to be passed
over in silence. Here are spacious hospitals where animals are
classed, not only according to their species, but also according to
the species of disorder by which they are affected. Every person may
bring hither sick animals, on paying for their food and medicaments
only, the operations and dressings being performed and applied
There are also Veterinary Schools at Lyons, Turin, and Rodez.
In addition to all these schools are to be established, in different
parts of the Republic, the following new _Special Schools_.
Ten of Jurisprudence.
Three of Medicine.
Four of Natural History, Physics, and Chymistry.
One of Transcendent Mathematics.
Two of Technology.
One of Public Economy, enlightened by Geography and History.
One of the Arts dependent on design, and, lastly,
A new Military School.
From the foregoing enumeration, it is evident that the government can
never be at a loss for persons duly qualified to perform the duties
of every branch of the Public Service. True it is that the nation is
at a considerable expense in giving to them the instruction which
fits them for the employment; but, in return, what advantages does
not the nation derive from the exertion of their talent?
[Footnote 1: In France are reckoned seventy-fire lyric theatres,
exclusively of those in the newly-united departments.]
_Paris, February 5, 1802_.
In one of your recent letters, you interrogated me respecting the
changes which the revolution had produced in the ceremonies
immediately connected with the increase and decrease of population.
While the subject is fresh in my mind, I shall present the contrast
which I have observed, in the years 1789-90 and 1801-2, in the
Under the old _regime_, there was no medium in them; they were either
very indecorous or very expensive. I have been positively assured
that eighteen francs were paid for what was called a parish-funeral,
and not unfrequently a quarrel arose between the agent of the rector
and the relations of the deceased. However, as it was necessary to
bury every one, the _Commissaire de police_ declared the fact, if the
relations were unable to pay. Those for whom eighteen francs were
paid, had a coffin in which they were buried; the others were laid in
a common coffin or shell, from which they were taken to be put into
the ground. In a parish-funeral, whether paid or not, several dead
bodies were assembled, that is, they were carried one after the
other, but at the same time to the same ground. They were conducted
by a single priest, reciting by the way the accustomed prayers.
Other funerals were varied without end, according to the fortune or
pleasure of the relations. For persons of the richest class, a
flaming chapel was constructed at the entrance of the house. This
chapel was hung with black cloth, and in it was placed the corpse,
surrounded by lighted torches. The apartments were also hung with
black for the reception of the persons who were to attend the funeral
procession. The priests came to conduct the corpse from the house of
the deceased. They were more or less numerous, had or had not wax
tapers, according to the will of those who defrayed the expenses. If
the presentation of the corpse at the parish-church took place in the
morning, a mass was sung; if in the evening, obsequies only were
chaunted, and the former service was deferred till the next morning.
The relations and friends, in mourning, followed the corpse. These
persons walked in the procession, according to their degree of
relationship to the deceased, and besides their complete
mourning-suit, wore a black cloak, more or less long, according to
the quality of the persons (or the price paid for it), and a flapped
hat, from which was suspended a very long crape band. Their hair,
unpowdered, fell loose on their back. In lieu of a cloak, lawyers,
whether presidents, counsellors, attornies, or tipstaffs, wore their
black gown. On the cuff of their coat, men wore weepers, consisting
of a band of cambric. Every one wore black gloves, and likewise a
long pendent white cravat. People of the highest rank wore _cottes
crepes_, that is, a sort of crape petticoat, which fell from the
waist to the feet. This was meant to represent the ancient coat of
Servants in mourning, or pages for princes, supported the train of
the cloak or gown of persons above the common rank. Other servants,
also in mourning, surrounded the relations and friends of the
deceased, holding torches with his armorial bearings, if he was a
_noble_. Persons extremely rich or very elevated in rank, hired a
certain number of poor (from fifty to three hundred), over whom were
thrown several ells of coarse iron gray cloth, to which no particular
form was given. They walked before the corpse, holding large lighted
torches. The procession was closed by the carriages of persons
belonging to it; and their owners did not get into them till their
return from the funeral. Sometimes on coming out of the
parish-church, where the presentation of the corpse was
indispensable, the rector performing the office of magistrate in
regard to the delivery of the certificate of presentation, the
corpse was carried into a particular church to be buried. This was
become uncommon before the revolution, as to do this it was
necessary to possess a vault, or pay extremely dear, it being
prohibited by law, except in such cases, to bury the dead in
When the deceased belonged to a society or corporation, they sent a
deputation to attend him to the grave, or followed in a body, if he
was their chief. At the funeral of a prince of the blood, all his
household, civil and military, marched in the procession. The
_corbillard_, or sort of hearse, in which his highness was carried to
_St. Denis_, was almost as large as the moveable theatre which Mr.
Flockton transports from fair to fair in England. Calculated in
appearance for carrying the body of a giant, it was decorated with
escutcheons, and drawn by eight horses, also caparisoned to
correspond with the hearse. These, however, were but the trappings of
While this funereal car moved slowly forward amidst a concourse of
mourners, its three-fold hangings concealed from the eye of the
observer the journeymen coach and harness makers, drinking, and
playing at dice on the lid of his highness's coffin, by way of
dispelling the _ennui_ of the journey. These careless fellows were
placed there to be at hand to repair any accident that might happen
on the road; so, while, on the outside of the hearse, all wore the
appearance of sadness; within, all was mirth; no bad image of the
reverse of grandeur and the emptiness of human ostentation.
Such were the ceremonies observed in funerals before the revolution.
Passing over the interval, from its commencement in 1789 to the end
of the year 1801, I shall describe those practised at the present
day. It now depends on the relations to have the corpse presented at
the parish-church; but there are many persons who dispense with this
ceremony. The priests receive the corpse at the door of the church.
It is carried thither in a _corbillard_. Each municipality has its
own, and there are twelve municipalities in Paris. Some of them have
adopted the Egyptian style; some, the Greek; and others, the Roman,
for the fashion of their _corbillard_, according to the taste of the
municipality who ordered its construction. It is drawn by two horses
abreast, caparisoned somewhat like those of our hearses. The coachman
and the four bearers are clothed in iron gray or black. An officer of
the police, also clothed in black, and holding a cane with an ivory
head, walks before the _corbillard_ or hearse. Each corpse has its
particular coffin furnished by the municipality. Arrangements have
been so made that the rich are made to pay for the poor. The coffin
is covered with a black cloth, without a cross, for fear of scaring
philosophers and protestants. The relations follow on foot, or in
carriages, even in town. Few of them are in mourning, and still fewer
wear a cloak.
At the _Sainte Chapelle_, near the _Palais de Justice_, is a private
establishment where, mourning is let out for hire. Here are to be had
_corbillards_ on a more elegant plan. These are carriages hung on
springs, and bearing much resemblance to our most fashionable
sociables with a standing awning; so much so, that the first of them
I saw I mistook for a _mourning_ sociable. Some are ornamented with
black feathers. Caparisons, hangings, every thing is in black, as
well as the coachman. This speculator also lets out mourning coaches,
black without and within, like those in use in London. At a few
funerals, these are hired for the mourners, and at a recent one,
fifteen of these carriages were counted in the procession. However,
this luxury of burials is not entirely come again into fashion. In
the inside of the church, every thing passes as formerly.
I shall now proceed from the _grave_ to the _gay_, and conclude this
letter with a concise observation on
The _civil_ act of marriage is entered into at the office of the
municipality. But this civil act must not be coufounded with the
contract, drawn up by the notary, and containing the stipulations,
clauses, and conditions. The former signifies merely that such a man
and such a woman take each other for man and wife. There are few, if
any, persons married, who, from the municipality, do not repair to
the parish-church, or go thither the next morning; the civil act
being considered by individuals only as the ceremony of the
betrothing, and till the priest has given the nuptial benediction,
the relations take care that the intended bride and bridegroom shall
have no opportunity of anticipating the duties of marriage.
Political opinions, therefore, prevent but few persons from going to
church. Mass is said in a low voice, during which the priest, or the
rector, receives the promise of the wedded pair. With little
exception, the ceremony is the same for all. Those who pay well are
married at the high altar; the rector addresses to them a speech in
which he exhorts them to live happily together; the beadles perform
their duty; and the organist strikes up a voluntary.
In regard to marriages, the present and former times presenting no
other contrast, I have nothing more to add on the subject.
_Paris, February 6, 1803._
The mode of life of the persons with whom I chiefly associate here,
precludes me from reading as much as I could wish, either for
instruction or amusement. This, you will say, I ought not to regret;
for a traveller visits foreign countries to study mankind, not books.
Unquestionably, the men who, like splendid folios in a library, make
at present the most conspicuous figure in this metropolis, are worth
studying; and, could we lay them open to our inspection, as we do
books of a common description, it would be extremely entertaining to
turn them over every morning, till we had them, in a manner, by
heart. But I rather apprehend that they partake, more or less, of the
qualities of a book just come out of the hands of the binder, which
it is difficult to open. Let us therefore content ourselves with
viewing them as we would volumes of a superbly-bound edition, not to
be examined by the general observer, and direct our eyes to such
objects as are fully exposed to investigation.
In Paris, there are several public libraries, the greater part of
them open every day; but that which eclipses all the others, is the
Charles V, justly surnamed the _Wise_, from the encouragement he gave
to learning, may be considered as the first founder of this library.
According to the President Henault, that king had collected nine
hundred volumes; whereas king John, his father, possessed not twenty.
This collection was placed in a tower of the _Louvre_, called _La
Tour de la Librairie_, which was lighted up every night, in order
that the learned might pursue their studies there at all hours.
After the death of Charles VI, in 1423, the inventory amounted to no
more than one hundred and twenty volumes, though several works had
been added, because on the other hand, a great number had been lost.
When Paris fell into the power of the English, in 1429, the Duke of
Bedford, then regent of France, purchased these books, for which he
paid 1200 livres, and the library was entirely dispersed. Charles
VII, being continually engaged in war, could not concern himself in
its re-estahlishment. Lewis XI collected the remains scattered in
different royal residences, and availed himself of the resources
afforded by the invention of printing, which was discovered at
Strasburg or Mentz in 1440.
Printers, however, were not established in Paris till 1470, and in
that same year, they dedicated to Lewis XI one of the first books
which they printed. Books were, at this time, very scarce and dear,
and continued so for several years, both before and after the
discovery of that invention. Twenty thousand persons then subsisted
in France by the sale of the books which they transcribed. This was
the reason why printing was not at first more encouraged.
Charles VIII added to this literary establishment such works as he
was able to obtain in his conquest of Naples. Lewis XII increased it
by the library of Potrarch. Francis I enriched it with Greek
manuscripts; but what most contributed to augment the collection was
the ordinance of Henry II, issued in 1556, which enjoined booksellers
to furnish the royal libraries with a copy on vellum of all the works
printed by privilege; and, under the subsequent reigns, it gradually
acquired that richness and abundance which, before the revolution,
had caused it to be considered as one of the first libraries in
In 1789, the _Bibliotheque du Roi_, as it was till then called, was
reckoned to contain one hundred and eighty thousand printed volumes,
eighty thousand manuscripts, a prodigious numbcr of medals, antiques,
and engraved stones, six thousand port-folios of prints, and two
thousand engraved plates. But, under its present denomination of
_Bibliotheque Nationale_, it has been considerably augmented.
Agreeably to your desire, I shall point out whatever is most
remarkable in these augmentations.
The buildings, which, since the year 1721, contain this vast
collection, formally made part of the _Hotel Mazarin_. The entrance
is by the _Rue de la Loi_. It is at present divided into four
departments, and is managed by a conservatory, composed of eight
1. Two conservators for the printed books, M. M. CAPPERONNIER and
2. Three for the manuscripts, M. M. LANGLES, LAPORTE DUTHEIL, and
3. Two for the antiques, medals, and engraved stones, M. M. MILLIN
4. One for the prints and engraved plates, M. JOLY.
The first department, containing the printed books, occupies, on the
first floor of the three sides of the court, an extent of about nine
hundred feet by twenty-four in breadth. The rooms, which receive
light on one side only, are equal in height. In the second room to
the right is the _Parnasse Francais_, a little mountain, in bronze,
covered with figures a foot high, and with medals, representing
French poets. Lewis XIV here occupies a distinguished place under the
figure of Apollo. It was a present made by TITON DU TILLET.
In another of these rooms, built on purpose, are a pair of globes of
an extraordinary size, constructed, in 1683, by Father CORONELLI, a
Jesuit, for Cardinal D'ESTREES, who presented them to Lewis XIV. The
feet of these globes rest in a lower apartment; while their
hemispheres project by two apertures made in the floor of fhe first
story, and are thus placed within reach of the observer. Their
diameter is eleven feet, eleven inches. The celebrated BUTTERFIELD
made for them two brass circles, (the one for the meridian, the other
for the horizon), each eighteen feet in diameter.
Since the year 1789, the department of printed books has received an
augmentation of one hundred and forty thousand volumes, either
arising from private acquisitions, or collected in France, Italy,
Holland, Germany, or Belgium. Among these is a valuable series of
works, some more scarce than others, executed in the XVth century,
which has rendered this department one of the most complete in
Europe. I shall abstain from entering into a detail of the articles
assembled in it, several of which deserve particular notice. A great
many ancient specimens of the typographical art are on vellum, and
give to this collection a value which it would be no easy matter to
appreciate. All the classes of it present a great number, the
enumeration of which would far exceed my limits.
The department of manuscripts, which is placed in a gallery one
hundred and forty feet in length, by twenty-two in breadth, has been
increased in proportion to that of the printed books. The library of
Versailles, that of several emigrants, the chapters of various
cathedrals, the Sorbonne, the _College de Navarre_ in Paris, and the
different suppressed religious corporations, have enriched it with
upwards of twenty thousand volumes; eight thousand of these belonged
to the library of _St. Germain-des-Pres_, which was burnt in 1793-4,
and was immensely rich in manuscripts and old printed hooks.
About fifteen hundred volumes have been taken from Italy, Holland,
and Germany. Among those arrived from Italy, we must distinguish the
original manuscript of RUFFIN, a priest of Aquilea, who lived in the
IVth century, containing, on papyrus or Egyptian paper, the Latin
tranlation of the Jewish antiquities of FLAVIUS JOSEPHUS; the grammar
of PROBUS or PALAEMON, a manuscript of the Vth century, on vellum, in
uncial characters; a very beautiful volume in Syriac, containing the
Four Evangelists, a manuscript on vellum of the VIth century; the two
celebrated manuscripts of Virgil of the VIIth century, the one from
the Vatican, the other from Florence, both on vellum. A roll, in good
preservation, composed of several skins, sewed together, containing
the Pentateuch in Hebrew, a manuscript of the IXth century. A
Terence, with figures of the time and a representation of the masks
introduced on the stage by the ancients, together with the various
poetical works of PRUDENTIUS; manuscripts on vellum of the IXth
century. The Terence is that of the Vatican, in praise of which
Madame DACIER speaks in her translation.
The manuscripts of the ancient Dukes of Burgundy, which had so long
constituted the ornament of the library of Brussels, now increase the
fame of those which the _Bibliotheque Nationale_ already possessed of
this description. Their number is about five hundred volumes; the
greater part of them are remarkable for the beauty and richness of
the miniatures by which they are embellished, and one scarcely
inferior in magnificence to the primer of Anne de Bretagne, wife of
Lewis XII, to that of Cardinal Richelieu, to the primer and battles
of Lewis XIV, and to a heap of other manuscripts which rendered this
_ci-devant Bibliotheque du Roi_ so celebrated in foreign countries.
Five large apartments on the second floor are occupied by titles and
genealogies, which are still preserved here, in about five thousand
portfolios or boxes, for the purpose of verifying the claims to
property, and assisting the historian in his researches.
The department of medals, antiques and engraved stones has, since
1789, also experienced an abundant augmentation. The medals are in a
cabinet at the end of the Library; the antiques are in another, above
it, on the second floor.
In 1790, the engraved stones which had been previously locked up in
the drawers of the council-chamber at Versailles, were conveyed
hither, to the number of eight hundred. It would be too tedious to
dwell on the beauty, merit, and scarceness of these stones, as well
as on their finished workmanship and degree of antiquity. Among them,
the beautiful ring, called the _seal of Michael Angelo_, claims
In 1791, some antiquities which constituted part of the treasure of
_St. Denis_, were brought hither from that abbey. Among these
valuable articles, we must particularly distinguish the chalice of
the Abbot SUGER; a vase of sardonyx, with two handles formed of
raised snakes, on which are represented, with admirable art,
ceremonies relating to the worship of Bacchus; a large gold cup,
ornamented with enamel of various colours; a very large urn of
porphyry, which formerly served as a sepulchral monument; several
baptismal fonts; the arm-chair of King Dagobert, a piece of very
extraordinary workmanship for the time in which it was executed.
Among the valuable articles removed hither from _La Sainte Chapelle_
in Paris, in the same year, are to be particularly remarked a
sardonyx, representing the apotheosis of Augustus, and commonly
called _l'agathe de la Sainte Chapelle_. This stone is the largest
and rarest known of that species. It was brought to France in the
year 1383 by king Charles V.
At the end of 1792 the cabinet of medals of _St. Genevieve_, forming
in the whole seventeen thousand articles, and its fine collection of
antique monuments, increased the new riches accumulated in the
_Bibliotheque Nationale_. In 1794, a beautiful series of antiquities,
consisting of a great number of imperial medals, of nations, cities,
and kings, of all sizes, in gold, silver, and bronze, together with
little painted figures, busts, instruments of sacrifices, &c. arrived
here from Holland.
In 1796, the department of medals was also enriched by several
articles from the _Garde-Meuble_ or Jewel-Office. Among them were
some suits of armour belonging to several of the kings of France,
particularly that of Francis I, that of Henry IV, and that of Lewis
XIV. These were accompanied by a quantity of arms, helmets, shields,
breast-plates, and weapons used in the ancient tournaments, as well
as quivers, bows, arrows, swords, &c.
Towards the end of the year 1798 and in 1799, several valuable
articles arrived here from Italy, among which are two crowns of gold,
enriched with precious stones, worn by the ancient kings of Lombardy,
at the time of their coronation; the engraved stones and medals of
the Pope's cabinet; a head of Jupiter AEgiochus, on a ground of
sardonyx, a master-piece of art, which is above all eulogium; the
celebrated Isiac table, in copper incrustated with silver, a valuable
table of Egyptian mythology, which is presumed to have been executed,
either at Alexandria or at Rome, in the first or second century of
the christian era; some oriental weapons; a _fetfa_ or diploma of the
Grand Signior contained in a silk purse, &c.
The department of prints and engraved plates, formed of the
celebrated cabinets of MAHOLLES, BERINGHEN, GAIGNIERES, UXELLES,
BEGON, GAYLUS, FONTETTE, MARIETTE, &c. contained, before the
revolution the most ample, rich, and valuable collection in Europe.
It is placed in the _entresol_, and is divided into twelve classes.
The first class comprehends sculptors, architectural engineers, and
engravers, from the origin of the French nation to the present day,
arranged in schools.
The second, prints, emblems, and devices of piety.
The third, every thing relative to fables and Greek and Roman
The fourth, medals, coins, and heraldry.
The fifth, public festivals, cavalcades, and tournaments.
The sixth, arts and mathematics.
The seventh, prints relating to novels and books of entertainment.
The eighth, natural history in all its branches.
The ninth, geography.
The tenth, plans and elevations of ancient and modern buildings.
The eleventh, portraits of all professions, to the number of upwards
of fifty thousand.
The twelfth, a collection of the fashions and dresses of almost every
country in the world.
Since 1789, the augmentations made to it are considerable. Among
these must be distinguished four hundred and thirty-five volumes
brought from the library of Versailles, and fifty-two others,
infinitely valuable, respecting China, found at the residence of M.
BERTIN, Minister, about eight thousand prints brought from Holland,
the greater part of them, very fine impressions; and about twelve
thousand collected by different emigrants, almost all modern, indeed,
but one half of which are select, and remarkable for their fine
Among five hundred volumes, obtained from the suppressed religious
corporations, are to be remarked one hundred and nine port-folios
from the abbey of _St. Victor_, in Paris, containing a beautiful
series of mythological, historical, and typographical subjects. This
forms a valuable addition to the collection of the same kind of which
the department of prints was already in possession.
In one hundred and forty-four volumes brought from Cologne, there are
several scarce and singular engravings.
As for sixty articles sent from Italy, they are, with the exception
of the _Museum Pio-Clementinum_, in such a state of degradation that
they are scarcely fit for any thing but to mark the place which each
composition has to occupy.
Since 1789, the department of prints has made several acquisitions
deserving of notice, such as the works of LEBAS, MARCENAY, and RODE,
all extremely difficult to find complete, and three hundred and
seventeen plates sent from Germany by FHAUENHOTZ; most of them
executed by foreign engravers, and some are very capital.
A few well-known distinguished artists and amateurs, among whom I
must not omit to name DENON, ST. AUBIN, and LAMOTTE, a merchant at
Havre, have generously enriched the department of prints with a great
number of very valuable ones.
The library is open every day, Sundays, and days of national fetes
excepted, from ten o'clock till two, to persons who wish to read,
study, or take notes; and for whom every accommodation is provided;
but to such as are attracted by curiosity alone, on the Wednesdays
and Fridays of each week, at the same hours. On those days, you may
perambulate in the different rooms of this magnificent establishment;
on the other days, walking is here prohibited, in order that students
may not be interrupted. However, JOHN BULL seems to pay little regard
to this prohibition. Englishmen are frequently seen stalking about
the rooms at the forbidden time, as if they meant to shew that they
disdained the rules of propriety and decorum.
Under the government which succeeded the monarchy, was established,
within the precincts of the _Bibliotheque Nationale_, a
SCHOOL FOR ORIENTAL LIVING LANGUAGES.
The design of this school, _which is of acknowledged utility in
politics and commerce_, is to qualify persons to supply the place of
the French droguemans in the East, who, at the beginning of the
troubles which distracted France, abandoned the interests of their
country, and deserted their stations.
LANGLES, president of this school, here teaches the Persian and Malay
SILVESTRE DE SACY, literal and vulgar Arabic.
JAUBERT, Turkish and the Tartarian of the Crimea.
DANSE DE VILLOISON, modern Greek.
In general, very few pupils are instructed here, and the greater part
of those who begin the courses of lectures, do not follow them three
months. This fact I gathered from the professors themselves. When
FRANCOIS DE NEUFCHATEAU was Minister, he had attached to this school
an Armenian, named CIREIED, who gave lessons in his native language,
which are now discontinued.
A course of archaeology is also delivered here by the learned MILLIN.
The object of this course is to explain antique monuments, and
compare them with passages of the classics. The professor indicates
respecting each monument the opinions of the different learned men
who have spoken of it: he also discusses those opinions, and
endeavours to establish that which deserves to be adopted. Every year
he treats on different subjects. The courses which he has already
delivered, related to the study of medals, and that of engraved
stones; the explanation of the ancient monuments still existing in
Spain, France, and England; the history of ancient and modern Egypt;
sacred and heroic mythology, under which head he introduced an
explanation of almost every monument of literature and art deserving
to be known.
[Footnote 1: It is the intention of the government to remove the
_Bibliotheque Nationale_ to the _Louvre_, or _Palais National des
Sciences & des Arts_, as soon as apartments can be prepared for its
_Paris, February 8, 1803._
Having complied with your desire in regard to the _Bibliotheque
Nationale_, I shall confine myself to a hasty sketch of the other
principal public libraries, beginning with the
By his will, dated the 6th of March 1662, Cardinal MAZARIN bequeathed
this library for the convenience of the literati. It was formed by
GABRIEL NAUDE of every thing that could be found most rare and
curious, as well in France as in foreign countries. It occupies one
of the pavilions and other apartments of the _ci-devant College
Mazarin ou des Quatre Nations_, at present called _Palais des Beaux
No valuable additions have been made to this library since the
revolution; but it is kept in excellent order. The Conservators, LE
BLOND, COQUILLE, and PALISSOT, whose complaisance is never tired, are
well known in the Republic of Letters. It is open to the public every
day, from ten o'clock to two, Sundays, Thursdays, and the days of
national fetes excepted.
BIBLIOTHEQUE DU PANTHEON.
Next to the _Bibliotheque Nationale_, this library is said to contain
the most printed books and manuscripts, which are valuable on account
of their antiquity, scarceness, and preservation. It formerly bore
the title of _Bibliotheque de St. Genevieve_, and belonged to the
Canons of that order, who had enriched it in a particular manner. The
acquisitions it has made since the revolution are not sufficiently
important to deserve to be mentioned. With the exception of the
_Bibliotheque Nationale_, not one of the public libraries in Paris
has enjoyed the advantage of making improvements and additions. The
library of the _Pantheon_ is open to the public on the same days as
the _Bibliotheque Mazarine_.
The present Conservators are DAUNOU, VENTENAT, and VIALLON. The first
two are members of the National Institute.
BIBLIOTHEQUE DE L'ARSENAL.
This library, one of the richest in Paris, formerly belonged to the
Count d'Artois. It is destined for the _Conservative Senate_, in
whose palace a place is preparing for its reception. However, it is
thought that this removal cannot take place in less than a year and a
half or two years. It has acquired little since the revolution, and
is frequented less than the other libraries, because it is rather
remote from the fashionable quarters of the town. There are few
inquisitive persons in the vicinity of the Arsenal; and indeed, this
library is open only on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays of every
week from ten o'clock till two. AMEILHON, of the Institute, is
Administrator; and SAUGRAIN, Conservator.
Before I quit this library, you will, doubtless expect me to say
something of the place from which it derives its appellation; namely,
It is a pile of building, forming several courts between the _Quai
des Celestins_ and the _Place de la Liberte_, formerly the _Place de
la Bastille_. Charles V had here erected some storehouses for
artillery, which were lent very unwillingly by the Provost of Paris
to Francis I, who wanted them for the purpose of casting cannon. As
was foreseen, the king kept possession of them, and converted them
into a royal residence. On the 28th of January 1562, lightning fell
on one of the towers, then used as a magazine, and set fire to
fifteen or twenty thousand barrels of powder. Several lives were
lost, and another effect of this explosion was that it killed all the
fishes in the river. Charles IX, Henry III, and Henry IV rebuilt the
Arsenal, and augmented it considerably. Before the revolution, the
founderies served for casting bronze figures for the embellishment of
the royal gardens. The Arsenal then contained only a few rusty
muskets and some mortars unfit for service, notwithstanding the
energetic inscription which decorated the gate on the _Quai des
"AEtnae haec Henrico Vulcania tela ministrat,
Tela gigantaeos debellatura furores."
NICOLAS BOURBON was the author of these harmonious lines, which so
much excited the jealousy of the famous poet, SANTEUIL, that he
exclaimed in his enthusiasm, "I would have wished to have made them,
and been hanged."
During the course of the revolution, the buildings of the Arsenal
have been appropriated to various purposes: at present even they seem
to have no fixed destination. Here is a garden, advantageously
situated, which affords to the inhabitants of this quarter an
The before-mentioned libraries are the most considerable in Paris;
but the _National Institute_, the _Conservative Senate_, the
_Legislative Body_, and the _Tribunate_, have each their respective
library, as well as the _Polytechnic School_, the _Council of the
School of Mines_, the _Tribunal of Cassation_, the _Conservatory of
Music_, the _Museum of Natural History_, &c.
Independently of these libraries, here are also three literary
_depots_ or repositories, which were destined to supply the public
libraries already formed or to be formed, particularly those
appropriated to public instruction. When the Constituent Assembly
decreed the possessions of the clergy to be national property, the
_Committee of Alienation_ fixed on the monasteries of the _Capucins_,
_Grands Jesuites_, and _Cordeliers_, in Paris, as _depots_, for the
books and manuscripts, which they were desirous to save from
_Paris, February 9, 1802._
_Vive la danse!_ _Vive la danse!_ seems now to prevail here
universally over _"Vive l'amour!_ _Vive la bagatelle!_" which was the
rage in the time of LA FLEUR. I have already informed you that, in
moments the most eventful, the inhabitants of this capital spent the
greater part of their time in
However extraordinary the fact may appear, it is no less true. When
the Prussians were at Chalons, the Austrians at Valenciennes, and
Robespierre in the Convention, they danced. When the young conscripts
were in momentary expectation of quitting their parents, their
friends, and their mistresses to join the armies, they danced. Can we
then wonder that, at the present hour, when the din of arms is no
longer heard, and the toils of war are on the point of being
succeeded by the mercantile speculations of peace, dancing should
still be the favourite pursuit of the Parisians?
This is so much the case, that the walls of the metropolis are
constantly covered by advertisements in various colours, blue, red,
green, and yellow, announcing balls of different descriptions. The
silence of streets the least frequented is interrupted by the shrill
scraping of the itinerant fiddler; while by-corners, which might vie
with Erebus itself in darkness, are lighted by transparencies,
exhibiting, in large characters, the words "_Bal de Societe_."
--"Happy people!" says Sterne, "who can lay down all your cares
together, and dance and sing and sport away the weights of grievance,
which bow down the spirit of other nations to the earth!"
In summer, people dance here in rural gardens, or delightful bowers,
or under marquees, or in temporary buildings, representing
picturesque cottages, constructed within the limits of the capital:
these establishments, which are rather of recent date, are open only
in that gay season.
In winter, the upper classes assemble in magnificent apartments,
where subscription-balls are given; and taste and luxury conspire to
produce elegant entertainments.
However, it is not to the upper circles alone that this amusement is
confined; it is here pursued, and with truer ardour too, by citizens
of every class and description. An Englishman might probably be at a
loss to conceive this truth; I shall therefore enumerate the
different gradations of the scale from the report of an impartial
eye-witness, partly corroborated by my own observation.
Tradesmen dance with their neighbours, at the residence of those who
have the best apartments: and the expense of catgut, rosin, &c. is
paid by the profits of the card-table.
Young clerks in office and others, go to public balls, where the
_cavalier_ pays thirty _sous_ for admission; thither they escort
milliners and mantua-makers of the elegant class, and, in general,
the first-rate order of those engaging belles, known here by the
generic name of _grisettes_.
Jewellers' apprentices, ladies' hair-dressers, journeymen tailors and
upholsterers dance, at twenty _sous_ a head, with sempstresses and
Journeymen shoemakers, cabinet-makers, and workmen of other trades,
not very laborious, assemble in _guingettes_, where they dance French
country-dances at three _sous_ a ticket, with _grisettes_ of an
Locksmiths, carpenters, and joiners dance at two _sous_ a ticket,
with women who constantly frequent the _guinguettes_, a species of
dancing-girls, whom the tavern-keepers hire for the day, as they do
Water-carriers, porters, and, in general, the Swiss and Auvergnats
have their private balls, where they execute the dances peculiar to
their country, with fruit-girls, stocking-menders, &c.
The porters of the corn-market form assemblies in their own
neighbourhood; but the youngest only go thither, with a few _bons
vivans_, whose profession it would be no easy matter to determine.
Bucksome damsels, proof against every thing, keep them in
countenance, either in drinking brandy or in fighting, and not
unfrequently at the same _bal de societe_, all this goes on at the
same time, and, as it were, in unison.
Those among the porters of the corn-market and charcoal carriers, who
have a little _manners_, assemble on holidays, in public-houses of a
more decent description, with good, plain-spoken market-women, and
nosegay-girls. They drink unmixed liquor, and the conversation is
somewhat more than _free_; but, in public, they get tipsy, and
Masons, paviours in wooden shoes, tipped with iron, and other
hard-working men, in short, repair to _guingettes_, and make the
very earth tremble with their heavy, but picturesque capers, forming
groups worthy of the pencil of Teniers.
Lastly, one more link completes the chain of this nomenclature of
caperers. Beggars, sturdy, or decrepit, dance, as well as their
credulous betters: they not only dance, but drink to excess; and
their orgies are more noisy, more prolonged, and even more expensive.
The mendicant, who was apparently lame in the day, at night lays
aside his crutch, and resumes his natural activity; the idle
vagabond, who concealed one arm, now produces both; while the wretch
whose wound excited both horror and pity, covers for a tune the large
blister by which he makes a very comfortable living.
_Paris, February 11, 1802._
In order to confer handsome pensions on the men of science who had
benefited mankind by their labours, and who, under the old _regime_,
were poorly rewarded, in 1795, LAKANAL solicited and obtained the
establishment of the
BUREAU DES LONGITUDES.
As members of this Board of Longitude, the first institution of the
kind in France, LAGRANGE, LAPLACE, LALANDE, CASSINI, MECHAIN,
BORDA, BOUGAINVILLE, FLEURIEU, MESSIER, BUACHE, and CARROCHE, the
optician, had each 8,000 francs (_circa_ L. 330 sterling) a year, and
the assistant astronomers, 4,000. Indeed, the professors of that
science were in want of pecuniary assistance for the purpose of
The _Bureau des Longitudes_ is on a more extensive scale, and
possesses greater authority than the Board of Longitude in England.
It is charged with the administration of all the Observatories
belonging to the Republic, as well as with the correspondence with
the astronomers of foreign countries. The government refers to it the
examination of memoirs relative to navigation. Such of its members as
more specially cultivate practical astronomy in the National
Observatories of the capital, are charged to make all Observations
which may contribute to the progress of that science, and procure new
means for rectifying the tables of the Sun, as well as those which
make known the position of the stars, and particularly the tables of
the Moon, the improvement of which so essentially concerns the safety
The great importance of the last-mentioned tables induced this Board,
about three years ago, to propose a premium of 6,000 francs (_circa_
L. 250 sterling) for tables of the Moon. LALANDE recommended to
BONAPARTE to double it. The First Consul took his advice: and the
French now have tables that greatly surpass those which are used in
England. A copy of these have, I understand, been sent to Mr.
MASKELYNE, our Astronomer-Royal at Greenwich.
The Board of Longitude of France, like that of England, calculates
for every year Tables or _Ephemerides_, known in Europe under the
title of _Connaissance des Tems_. The French having at length
procured able calculators, are now able to dispense with the English
_Ephemeris_. Their observations follow each other in such a manner as
to render it unnecessary for them to recur to those of Greenwich, of
which they have hitherto made continual use. Since the year 1795, the
_Connaissance des Tems_ has been compiled by JEROME LALANDE. At the
end of the tables and their explanation, it contains a collection of
observations, memoirs, and important calculations. The French
astronomers are not a little surprised that we publish no similar
work in London; while Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Gotha, and Milan set us
the example. It is in the last volumes of the _Connaissance des Tems_
that JEROME LALANDE gives the history of astronomy, where you will
find every thing that has been done in this science.
The _Bureau des Longitudes_ also publishes for every year, in
advance, the _Annuaire de la Republique_, which serves as a rule for
all the almanacks compiled in France. The meetings of the Board are
held at the
This edifice, which is situated at the farther end of the _Faubourg
St. Jacques_, was constructed in 1664, by order of COLBERT, and
under the direction of PERRAULT, the medical architect, who planned
the celebrated facade of the _Louvre_.
The form of the building is rectangular. Neither wood nor iron have
been employed in its construction. It is arched throughout, and its
four sides stand exactly in the direction of the four cardinal points
of the horizon. Although its elevation is eighty-five feet, it
comprises but two stories, terminated by a flat roof, whence you
command a fine view of Paris. You ascend thither by a winding
staircase which has a hollow newel. This staircase, consisting of
three hundred and sixty steps, extends downward to a similar depth of
eighty-five feet, and forms a sort of well, at the bottom of which
you can perceive the light. From this well have been observed the
different degrees of acceleration in the descent of bodies.
The subterraneous vaults have served for meteorological experiments.
In one of them water is seen to petrify on filtering through the rock
above. They lead to near fifty streets or passages, formed by
quarries excavated in procuring the stones with which great part of
the city of Paris is constructed.
Previously to the year 1777, churches, palaces, whole streets of
houses, and the public highway of several quarters of Paris and its
environs, were on the point of being swallowed up in gulfs no less
vast in depth than in extent. Since then, considerable works have
been undertaken to consolidate these subterraneous caverns, and fill
up the void, equally dangerous, occasioned by the working of the
An accident of a very alarming nature, which happened in the _Rue
d'Enfer_ in the year 1774; and another, at Montmenil, in 1778, shewed
the necessity of expediting these operations, which were followed up
with great activity from 1777 to 1789, when their progress was
relaxed from the circumstances of the times. These quarries are far
more extensive than is commonly imagined. In the department of the
Seine alone, they extend under all the south part of Paris, and the
roads, plains, and _communes_, to the distance of several leagues
round the circumference of this city. Their roof, with the edifices
standing on the soil that covers it, is either supported by walls
recently built under the foundation of those edifices, or by pillars
constructed at different periods in several places. The government is
at the expense of providing for the safety of the streets, highways,
and public buildings, but that of propping under-ground all private
habitations must be defrayed by the proprietor. These ancient
quarries had been much neglected, and the means of visiting them was
equally dangerous and inconvenient. At present, every precaution is
taken to insure the safety of the persons employed in them, as well
as the stability of their roof; and for the better superintendance of
all the subterraneous constructions of Paris, galleries of
communication have been formed of sufficient width to admit the free
passage of materials necessary for keeping them in repair.
Let us now find our way out of these labyrinths, and reascending to
the surface of the soil, pursue our examination of the Observatory.
In a large room on the first floor is traced the meridian line, which
divides this building into two parts. Thence, being extended to the
south and north, it crosses France from Colieure to Dunkirk.
On the pavement of one of the rooms is engraved a universal circular
map, by CHAZELLES and SEDILLAN. Another room is called the _Salle aux
secrets_, because on applying the mouth to the groove of a pilaster,
and whispering, a person placed at the opposite pilaster hears what
is said, while those in the middle of the room, hear nothing. This
phenomenon, the cause of which has been so often explained, must be
common to all buildings constructed in this manner.
In speaking of the _Champ de Mars_, I mentioned that LALANDE obtained
the construction of an Observatory at the _ci-devant Ecole
Militaire_. Since 1789, he and his nephew have discovered fifty
thousand stars; an immense labour, the greater part of them being
telescopic and invisible to the naked eye. Of this number, he has
already classed thirty thousand.
The CASSINIS had neglected the Observatory in Paris; but when LALANDE
was director of this establishment, he obtained from BONAPARTE good
instruments of every description and of the largest dimensions. These
have been executed by the first artists, who, with the greatest
intelligence, have put in practice all the means of improvement which
we owe to the fortunate discoveries of the eighteenth century. Of
course, it is now as well provided as that of Greenwich. MECHAIN, the
present director, and BOUVARD, his associate, are extremely assiduous
in their astronomical labours.
CARROCHE has made for this Observatory a twenty-two feet telescope,
which rivals those of HERSCHEL of the same length; and the use of
reflecting circles, imagined by MAYER, and brought into use by BORDA,
which LENOIR executes in a superior manner, and which we have not yet
chosen to adopt in England, has introduced into the observations of
the French an accuracy hitherto unknown. The meridian from Dunkirk to
Barcelona, measured between the years 1792 and 1798, by DELAMERE and
MECHAIN, is of an astonishing exactness. It has brought to light the
irregularity of the degrees, which was not suspected. The rules,
composed of platina and copper, which LAVOISIER and BORDA imagined
for measuring bases, without having occasion to calculate the effect
of dilatation, are a singular invention, and greatly surpass what
RAMSDEN made for the bases measured in England.
LAPLACE has discovered in the Moon inequalities with which we were
not acquainted. The work he has published, under the title of
_Mecanique Celeste_, contains the most astonishing discoveries of
physical theory, the great inequality of Jupiter and Saturn, the
acceleration of the Moon, the equation of the third Satellite of
Jupiter, and the flux and reflux of the sea.
BURCKHARDT, one of the associated members of the _Bureau des
Longitudes_, is a first-rate astronomer and a man of superior talent.
He is at present employed on the difficult task of calculating the
very considerable derangements of the planet discovered by OLBERS at
Bremen, on the 28th of March 1801.
VIDAL has made, at Mirepoix, more observations of Mercury than all
the astronomers for two thousand years past, and these are the most
difficult and uncommon.
DELAMBRE has computed tables of the Sun, of Jupiter, of Saturn, and
of Herschel; LALANDE, the nephew, has composed tables of Mars; and
his uncle, of Mercury, which never deviate more than a few seconds
from the observations.
Even during the reign of terror, astronomy was not neglected. Through
the interest of CARNOT, CALON, LAKANAL, and FOURCROY, the _Bureau de
Consultation des Arts_ gave annually the sum of 300,000 francs
(_circa_ L12,000 sterling) in gratifications to artists.
Afterwards, in 1796, the National Institute, richly endowed, proposed
considerable premiums. LALANDE, the uncle, founded one for astronomy;
BONAPARTE, another for physics; and the First Consul has promised
60,000 francs (_circa_ L2,800 sterling) to any one who shall make a
discovery of importance.
France can now boast of two young geometricians, BIOT and PUISSON,
who, for analytical genius, surpass all that exist in Europe. It is
rather extraordinary that, with the exception of Mr. CAVENDISH and
Dr. WARING, England has produced no great geometricians since the
death of MACLAURIN, STERLING, and SIMPSON.
The French tables of Logarithms, printed stereotypically, are cleared
of all the errors which afflicted calculators of every country. Those
of other nations will owe this obligation to Frenchmen.
HERSCHEL no longer looks for comets; but the French astronomers,
MESSIER, MECHAIN, BOUVARD, and PONS find some. Last year, JEROME
LALANDE deposited 600 francs in the hands of his notary, as a premium
to stimulate the efforts of young observers.
* * * * *
_February 11, in continuation._
In the spring of 1803, MECHAIN will leave Paris for the purpose of
extending his meridian to the Balearic Islands. He will measure the
length of the pendulum in several places, in order to ascertain the
inequality of the earth which the measure of the degrees had
indicated. This circumstance reminds me of my neglect in not having
yet satisfied your desire to have a short account of the means
employed for fixing the standard of the
NEW FRENCH WEIGHTS AND MEASURES.
Among the great ideas realized during the first period of the
revolution, must be reckoned that of a uniform system of weights and
measures. From all parts of France remonstrances were sent against
the great variety of those in use. Several kings had endeavoured to
remedy this evil, which was so hurtful to lawful trade, and
favourable only to fraud and double-dealing. Yet what even _they_ had
not been able to effect, was undertaken by the Constituent Assembly.
It declared that there ought to be but one standard of weights and
measures, in a country subject to the same laws. The _Academy of
Sciences_ was charged to seek and present the best mode of carrying
this decree into execution. That society proposed the adoption of the
decimal division, by taking for a fundamental unit the ten-millionth
part of the quarter of the terrestrial meridian. The motives which
determined this choice were the extreme simplicity of decimal
calculation, and the advantage of having a measure taken from nature.
The latter condition would, in truth, have been accomplished, had
there been taken, as a fundamental unit, the length of the pendulum
marking seconds for a given latitude; but the measure of an arc of
the meridian, executed with the precision to be obtained by the
methods and instruments of the present day, was extremely interesting
in regard to the theory of the figure of the earth. This influenced
the decision of the Academy, and if the motives which it presented to
the Constituent Assembly were not exactly the real ones, it is
because the sciences have also their policy: it sometimes happens
that to serve mankind, one must resolve to deceive them.
All the measures of the metrical system, adopted by the Republic, are
deduced from a base taken from nature, the fourth part of the
terrestrial meridian; and the divisions of those measures are all
subjected to the decimal order employed in arithmetic.
In order to establish this base, the grand and important work of
taking a new measure of the terrestrial meridian, from Dunkirk to
Barcelona, was begun in 1792. At the expiration of seven years, it
was terminated; and the Institute presented the result to the
Legislative Body with the original table of the new measures.
MECHAIN and DELAMBRE measured the angles of ninety triangles with the
new reflecting circles; imagined by MAYER, and which BORDA had caused
to be constructed. With these instruments, they made four
observations of latitude at Dunkirk, Paris, Evaux, Carcassonne, and
Barcelona; two bases measured near Melun and Perpignan, with rules of
platina and copper, forming metallic thermometers, were connected
with the triangles of the meridian line: the total interval, which
was 9 deg..6738, was found to be 551584.72 toises. As the degrees
progressively diminished towards the south, but much more towards the
middle than towards the extremities, the middle of the whole arc was
taken; and, on comparing it with the degrees measured at Peru,
between the years 1737 and 1741, the ellipticity of the earth was
concluded to be 1/334 the mean degree, 57008 toises; and the METRE,
which is the ten-millionth part of the quarter of the meridian,
443.296 lines of the old French toise which had been used at Peru.
The Commissioners, sent from foreign countries, verified all the
calculations, and sanctioned the results. The experiments of the
pendulum made at the observatory, with extreme care, by BORDA,
MECHAIN, and CASSINI, with a new apparatus, constructed by LENOIR,
shewed the pendulum to be 0.99385 of the _metre_, on reducing it to
the freezing point, and in _vacuo_: this would be sufficient for
finding again the _metre_, though all the standards were changed or
Exact experiments, made by LEFEVRE-GINEAU, with instruments
constructed by FORTIN, shewed the weight of the cubic decimetre of
distilled water, at the point of the greatest condensation to be
18827.15 grains of the pile of 50 marcs, which is preserved here in
the _Hotel de la Monnaie_, and is called _Le poids de Charlemagne_;
the toise being supposed at 13 degrees of the thermometer of 80
degrees. The scales of FORTIN might give a millionth part and more;
and LEFEVRE-GINEAU employed in all these experiments and calculations
the most scrupulous degree of exactness.
Thus the METRE or principal unit of the French linear measures has
furnished those of the weights; and all this grand system, taken from
nature, is connected with the base the most invariable, the size of
the earth itself.
The unit of the measures of capacity is a cube whose side is the
tenth part of the _metre_, to which has been given the name of LITRE;
the unit of measures of solidity, relative to wood, a cube whose side
is the _metre_, which is called STERE. In short, the thousandth part
of a _litre_ of distilled water, weighed in _vacuo_ and at the
temperature of melting ice, has been chosen for the unit of weights,
which is called GRAMME.
The following TABLE presents the nomenclature of these different
Measures, their divisions, and multiples, together with the new
Weights, as decreed by the Legislative Body, and to it is annexed
their correspondence both with the old French Measures and Weights,
and those of England.
* * * * *
T F I L M F Y Ft I[A]
Myriametre (or League)
10,000 Metres 5,130 4 5 3.360 6 1 156 0 6
Kilometre (or Mile)
1,000 Metres 513 0 5 3.936 - 4 213 1 10.2
100 Metres 51 1 10 1.583 - - 109 1 1
Decametre (or Perch)
10 Metres 5 0 9 4.959 - - 10 2 9.7
METRE - 3 0 11.296 - - --- 3 3.371
Decimetre (or Palm)
10th of a Metre - - 3 8.330 - - --- - 3.937
Centimetre (or Digit)
100th of a Metre - - -- 4.433 - - --- - 0.393
Millimetre (or Trait)
1,000th of a Metre - - -- 0.443 - - --- - 0.039
[Footnote A: French measurements in Toises (T), Feet (F), Inches (I),
and Lines (L). English mesurements in Miles (M), Furlongs (F), Yards
(Y), Feet (Ft), and Inches (I).]
A R P[B]
Myriare, square Kilometre
263244.93 ST 247 0 20
Milare 26324.49 ST 24 2 34
Hectare, (or _Arpent_) square Hectometre
2632.45 ST 2 1 35.4
Decare 263.24 ST --- - 39.54
ARE, (or square _Perch_) square Decametre
26.32 ST --- - 3.954
Deciare 2.63 ST --- - 0.395
Centiare, (or 100th part of a square Perch) square _Metre_
0.26 ST --- - 0.039
[Footnote B: French measurements in Square Toises (ST). English
measurements in Acres (A), Roods (R) and Perches (P).]
MEASURES OF CAPACITY.
Kilolitre, (or Hogshead) cubic Metre
29.1739 cubic feet 61028
Hectolitre, (or Setier)
2.9174 cubic feet 6102.8
Decalitre, (or Bushel)
0.2917 cubic feet 610.28
LITRE; (or Pinte) cubic Decimetre
50.4124 cubic inches 61.028
Decilitre, (or Glass)
5.0412 cubic inches 6.1028
Centilitre 0.5041 cubic inches 0.6102
Millitre, cubic Centimeter
0.0504 cubic inches 0.061
N. B. A Litre is nearly equal to 2-7/8 Pints, English Wine Measure.
MEASURES FOR WOOD.
Stere, cubical Metre
29.1739 cubic feet 35.3171
Decistere, (or Solive)
2.9174 cubic feet 3.5317
0.2917 cubic feet 0.3531
Millistere, cubic Decimetre
0.0291 cubic feet 0.0353
lbs. oz. d. gr. lbs. oz. dw. gr.[C]
Myriagramme 20 6 6 63.5 26 9 15 0.23
Kilogramme, (or Pound) weight of the cubic Decimetre
of water at 4 deg. which is the maximum of density
2 0 5 35.15 2 8 3 12.02
Hectogramme, (or Ounce)
-- 3 2 10.72 -- 3 4 8.40
Decagramme, (or Drachm)
-- - 2 44.27 -- - 6 10.44
GRAMME, (or Denier) weight of the cubic
Centimetreat the freezing point
-- - - 18.827 -- - -- 15.444
Deciegramme, (or Grain)
-- - - 1.883 -- - -- 1.544
-- - - 0.188 -- - -- 0.154
Milligramme, weight of the cubic
Millemetre of water
-- - - 0.019 -- - -- 0.015
[Footnote C: The labels on first set of columns are lbs., oz., drms.,
and grains; and on the second, lbs. oz. dwts. and grains.]
[Footnote 1: Since dead. The former is replaced by DELAMBRE. CHABERT
and PRONY are elected supernumerary members, and LEFRANCAIS LALANDE,
BOUVARD, and BURCKHARDT, appointed assistant astronomers.]
[Footnote 2: The Prize has been awarded to M. BURG, an astronomer at
_Paris, February 14, 1802._
After speaking of the _Board of Longitude_ and the _National
Observatory_, I must not omit to say a few words of an establishment
much wanted in England. I mean the
DEPOT DE LA MARINE.
This general repository of maps, charts, plans, journals, and
archives of the Navy and the Colonies, is under the direction of a
flag-officer. It is situated in the _Rue de la Place Vendome_; but
the archives are still kept in an office at Versailles. To this
_Depot_ are attached the Hydrographer and Astronomer of the Navy,
both members of the National Institute and of the Board of Longitude,
and also a number of engineers and draughtsmen proportioned to the
works which the government orders to be executed.
The title of this _Depot_ sufficiently indicates what it contains. To
it has been lately added a library, composed of all the works
relative to navigation, hydrography, naval architecture, and to the
navy in general, as well as of all the voyages published in the
different dead or living languages. The collection of maps, charts,
plans, &c. belonging to it, is composed of originals in manuscript,
ancient and modern, of French or foreign sea-charts, published at
different times, and of maps of the possessions beyond the seas
belonging to the maritime states of Europe and to the United-States
All the commanders of vessels belonging to the State are bound, on
their return to port, to address to the Minister of the Naval
Department, in order to be deposited in the archives, the journals of
their voyage, and the astronomical or other observations which they
have been enabled to make, and the charts and plans which they have
had an opportunity of constructing.
One of the apartments of the _Depot_ contains models of ships of war
and other vessels, the series of which shews the progress of naval
architecture for two centuries past, and the models of the different
machines employed in the ports for the various operations relative to
building, equipping, repairing, and keeping in order ships and
vessels of war.
The _Depot de la Marine_ publishes new sea-charts in proportion as
new observations or discoveries indicate the necessity of suppressing
or rectifying the old ones.
When the service requires it, the engineers belonging to the _Depot_
are detached to verify parts of the coasts of the French territory in
Europe, or in any other part of the world, where experience has
proved that time has introduced changes with which it is important to
be acquainted, or to rectify the charts of other parts that had not
yet been surveyed with the degree of exactness of which the methods
now known and practised have rendered such works susceptible.
In the French navy, commanders of ships and vessels are supplied with
useful charts and atlases of every description, at the expense of the
nation. These are delivered into their care previously to the ship
leaving port. When a captain is superseded in his command, he
transfers them to his successor; and when the ship is put out of
commission, they are returned to the proper office. Why does not the
British government follow an example so justly deserving of
_Paris, February 15, 1802._
After the beautiful theatre of the old _Comedie Francaise_, under its
new title of _l'Odeon_, became a prey to flames, as I have before
mentioned, the comedians belonging it were dispersed on all sides. At
length, PICARD assembled a part of them in a house, built at the
beginning of the revolution, which, from the name of the street where
it is situated, is called the
No colonnade, no exterior decoration announces it as a place of
public amusement, and any one might pass it at noon-day without
suspecting the circumstance, but for the prices of admission being
painted in large characters over the apertures in the wall, where the
public deposit their money.
This house, which is of a circular form, is divided, into four tiers
of boxes. The ornaments in front of them, not being in glaring
colours, give, by their pale tint, a striking brilliancy to the dress
of the women.
PICARD, the manager of this theatre, is the MOLIERE of his company;
that is, he is at once author and actor, and, in both lines,
indefatigable. Undoubtedly, the most striking, and, some say, the
only resemblance he bears to the mirror of French comedy, is to be
compelled to bring on the stage pieces in so unfinished a state as to
be little more than sketches, or, in other words, he is forced to
write in order to subsist his company. Thus then, the stock-pieces of
this theatre are all of them of his own composition. The greater part
are _imbroglios_ bordering on farce. The _vis comica_ to be found in
them is not easily understood by foreigners, since it chiefly
consists in allusions to local circumstances and sayings of the day.
However, they sometimes produce laughter in a surprising degree, but
more frequently make those laugh who never blush to laugh at any
The most lively of his pieces are _Le Collateral_ and _la Petite
Ville_. In the course of last month, he produced one under the name
of _La Grande Ville, ou les Provinciaux a Paris_, which occasioned a
violent uproar. The characters of this pseudo-comedy are swindlers or
fools; and the spectators insisted that the portraits were either too
exact a copy of the originals, or not at all like them. By means of
much insolence, by means of the guard which was incautiously
introduced into the pit, and which put to flight the majority of the
audience, and, lastly, by means of several alterations, PICARD
contrived to get his piece endured. But this triumph may probably be
the signal of his ruin, as the favour of the Parisian public, once
lost, is never to be regained.
This histrionic author and manager has written some pieces of a
serious cast. The principal are, _Mediocre et Rampant_, and _L'Entree
dans le Monde_. As in _La Grande Ville_, the characters in these are
also cheats or fools. Consequently, it was not difficult to conduct
the plot, it would have been much more so to render it interesting.
These two comedies are written in verse which might almost pass for
The _Theatre Louvois_ is open to all young authors who have the
ambition to write for the stage, before they have well stored their
mind with the requisites. Novelties here succeed each other with
astonishing rapidity. Hence, whatever success PICARD may have met
with as an author, he has not been without competitors for his
laurels. Out of no less than one hundred and sixty-seven pieces
presented for rehearsal and read at this house, one hundred and
sixty-five are said to have been refused. Of the two accepted, the
one, though written forty years ago, was brought out as a new piece,
and damned. However, the ill success of a piece represented here is
not remarked; the fall not being great.
The friends of this theatre call it _La petite Maison de Thalie_.
They take the part for the whole. It is, in fact, no more than her
anti-chamber. As for the drawing-room of the goddess, it is no longer
to be found any where in Paris.
The performers who compose PICARD'S company do no injustice to his
pieces. It is affirmed that this company has what is called, on the
French stage, _de l'ensemble_. With few exceptions, there is an
_ensemble_, as it is very indifferent. For such an interpretation to
be correct, it would be necessary for all the comedians of the
_Theatre Louvois_ to have great talents, and none can be quoted.
PICARD, though not unfrequently applauded, is but a sorry actor. His
cast of parts is that of valets and comic characters.
DEVIGNY performs the parts of noble fathers and foolish ones, here
termed _dindons_, and grooms, called by the French _jockeis_. The
remark, that he who plays every thing plays nothing, has not been
unaptly applied to him. He has a defect of pronunciation which shocks
even the ear of a foreigner.
DORSAN is naturally cold and stiff, and when he endeavours to repair
the former of these defects, the weakness of his powers betrays him.
If he speaks correctly, it is without _finesse_, and he never adds by
expression to the thought of the author.
CLOZEL is a very handsome young man. He performs the characters of
_petits-maitres_ and those of valets, which he confounds incessantly.
The other actors of the _Theatre Louvois_ exempt me from naming them.
As for the actresses at this theatre, those only worthy to be
mentioned are, Mademoiselle ADELINE, who has a rather pretty face,
and plays not ill innocent parts; Mademoiselle BEFFROI, who is
handsome, especially in male attire; and Mademoiselle MOLIERE, who is
a very good _soubrette_. Mademoiselle LESCOT, tired of obtaining
applause at the _Theatre du Vaudeville_, wished to do the same on a
larger theatre. Here, she has not even the consolation of saying
"_Tel brille au second rang, qui s'eclipse au premier._"
Madame MOLE, who is enormous in bulk, is a coarse caricature, whether
she performs the parts of noble mothers, or what the French call
_caracteres_, that is, singular characters.
* * * * *
The _ci-devant Comedie Italienne_ in Paris partly owed its prosperity
to the _Vaudeville_, which might be considered as the parent of the
_Opera-Comique_. They were united, when the _drame_ being introduced
with songs, had like to have annihilated them both. The _Vaudeville_
was sacrificed and banished. Several years elapsed before it
reappeared. This offspring of French gaiety was thought to be lost
for ever; but a few authors had prepared for it an asylum under the
THEATRE DU VAUDEVILLE.
This little theatre is situated in the _Rue de Chartres_, which faces
the principal entrance of the _Palais du Tribunat_. The interior is
of a circular form, and divided into four tiers of boxes. In general,
the decorations are not of the first class, but in the dresses the
strictest propriety is observed.
The pieces performed at the _Vaudeville_ are little comedies of the
sentimental cast, a very extensive collection of portraits of French
authors and of a few foreigners, some pastoral pieces, parodies
closely bordering on the last new piece represented at one of the
principal theatres, charming _harlequinades_, together with a few
pieces, in some of which parade and show are introduced; in others,
scenes of low life and vulgarity; but the latter species is now
These pieces are almost always composed in conjunction. It is by no
means uncommon to see in the play-bills the names of five or six
authors to a piece, in which the public applaud, perhaps, no more
than three verses of a song. This association of names, however, has
the advantage of saving many of them from ridicule.
The authors who chiefly devote themselves to the species of
composition from which this theatre derives its name, are BARRE,
RADET, and DESFONTAINES, who may be considered as its founders.
BOURGEUIL, DESCHAMPS, DESPREZ, and the two SEGURS, also contribute to
the success of the _Vaudeville_, together with CHAZET, JOUY,
LONGCHAMPS, and some others.
In the exercise of their talents, these writers suffer no striking
adventure, no interesting anecdote to escape their satirical humour;
but aim the shafts of ridicule at every subject likely to afford
amusement. It may therefore be conceived that this house is much
frequented. No people on earth can be more fickle than the French in
general, and the Parisians in particular, in the choice of their
diversions. Like children, they are soon tired of the same toy, and
novelty is for them the greatest attraction. Hence, the _Vaudeville_,
as has been seen, presents a great variety of pieces. In general,
these are by no means remarkable for the just conception of their
plan. The circumstance of the moment adroitly seized, and related in
some well-turned stanzas, interspersed with dialogue, is sufficient
to insure the success of a new piece, especially if adapted to the
abilities of the respective performers.
Among them, HENRY would shine in the parts of lovers, were he less of
JULIEN may be quoted as an excellent imitator of the beaux of the
VERTPRE excels in personating a striking character.
CARPENTIER is no bad representative of a simpleton.
CHAPELLE displays much comic talent and warmth in the character of
dotards, who talk themselves out of their reason.
LAPORTE, as a speaking Harlequin, has no equal in Paris.
So much for the men: I shall now speak of the women deserving of
Madame HENRY, in the parts of lovers, is to be preferred for her fine
eyes, engaging countenance, elegant shape, and clear voice.
Mesdemoiselles COLOMBE and LAPORTE, who follow her in the same line
of acting, are both young, and capable of improvement.
Mademoiselle DESMARES is far from being pretty; neither is she much
of an actress, but she treads the stage well, and sings not amiss.
Mademoiselle BLOSSEVILLE plays chambermaids and characters of parody
with tolerable success.
Mademoiselle DELILLE, however, who performs caricatures and
characters where frequent disguises are assumed, is a still greater
favourite with the public. So much has been said of the glibness of a
female tongue that many of the comparisons made on the subject are
become proverbial; but nothing that I ever heard in that way can be
compared to the volubility of utterance of Mademoiselle DELILLE,
except the clearness of her articulation. A quick and attentive ear
may catch every syllable as distinctly as if she spoke with the
utmost gravity and slowness. The piece in which she exhibits this
talent to great advantage, and under a rapid succession of disguises,
is called _Frosine ou la derniere venue_.
Mademoiselle FLEURY makes an intelligent Columbine, not unworthy of
Madame DUCHAUME represents not ill characters of duennas,
Nothing can be said of the voice of the different performers of this
theatre, on which acccount, perhaps, the orchestra is rather feeble;
but still it might be better composed.
During my present visit to Paris, the _Vaudeville_, as it is commonly
called, has, I think, insensibly declined. It has, however, been said
that its destiny seems insured by the character of the French, and
that being the first theatre to bend to the caprices of the day, it
can never be out of fashion. Certainly, if satire be a good
foundation, it ought to be the most substantial dramatic
establishment in Paris. It rests on public malignity, which is its
main support. Hence, one might conclude that it will last as long as
there is evil doing or evil saying, an absurdity to catch at, an
author to parody, a tale of scandal to relate, a rogue to abuse, and,
in short, as long as the chapter of accidents shall endure. At this
rate, the _Vaudeville_ must stand to all eternity.
Whatever may be its defects, it unquestionably exemplifies the
character of the nation, so faithfully pourtrayed by Beaumarchais, in
the following lines of the _vaudeville_ which concludes the _Mariage
_"Si l'on opprime, il peste, il crie,
Il s'agite en cent facons,
Tout finit par des chansons." bis._
[Footnote 1: The _Theatre Louvois_ is rapidly on the decline.]
[Footnote 2: These are pieces the hero of which is a celebrated
personage, such as RABELAIS, SCARRON, VOLTAIRE, ROUSSEAU,
MALESHERBES, FREDERIC, king of Prussia, &c. &c.]
_Paris, February 17, 1802._
After having traversed the _Pont Neuf_, from the north side of the
Seine, you cannot avoid noticing a handsome building to the right,
situated on the _Quai de Conti_, facing the river. This is the Mint,
HOTEL DE LA MONNAIE.
The construction of this edifice was suggested by M. LAVERDY,
Minister of State, and executed under the direction of M. ANTOINE,
architect. I do not recollect any building of the kind in Europe that
can be compared to it, since it far surpasses the _Zecca_ at Venice.
The Abbe Terray (whose name will not be readily forgotten by the
State-annuitants of his time, and for whom Voltaire, as one, said
that he preserved his only tooth) when Comptroller-general of the
Finances, laid the first stone of the _Hotel de la Monnaie_, in April
An avant-corps, decorated with six Ionic pillars, and supported by
two wings, from the division of the facade, which is three hundred
and thirty-six feet in breadth by eighty-four in elevation. It is
distributed into two stories above the ground-floor. Perpendicularly
to the six pillars, rise six statues, representing Peace, Commerce,
Prudence, Law, Strength, and Plenty.
In this avant-corps are three arches, the centre one of which is the
principal entrance of the building. The vestibule is decorated with
twenty-four fluted Doric pillars, and on the right hand, is a
stair-case, leading to the apartments intended for the use of the
officers belonging to the Mint, and in which they hold their
meetings. This stair-case is lighted by a dome supported by sixteen
fluted pillars of the Ionic order.
The whole building contains six courts: the principal court is one
hundred and ten feet in depth by ninety-two in breadth. All round it
are covered galleries, terminated by a circular wall alternately
pierced with arches and gates.
The entrance of the hall for the money-presses is ornamented by four
Doric pillars. This hall is sixty-two feet long by about forty broad,
and contains nine money-presses. Above it is the hall of the sizers
or persons who prepare the blank pieces for stamping. Next come the
flatting-mills. Here, in a word, are all the apartments necessary for
the different operations, and aptly arranged for the labours of
In the principal apartment of the avant-corps of the _Hotel de la
Monnaie_, towards the _Quai de Conti_, is the cabinet known in Paris
by the name of the
MUSEE DES MINES.
This cabinet or Museum was formed in 1778 by M. SAGE, who had then
spent eighteen years in collecting minerals. When he began to employ
himself on that science forty-five years ago, there existed in this
country no collection which could facilitate the study of mineralogy.
Docimacy vas scarcely known here by name. France was tributary to
foreign countries thirty-seven millions of livres (_circa_ L1,541,666
sterling) a year for the mineral and metallic substances which she
drew from them, although she possesses them within herself. M. SAGE
directed his studies and labours to the research and analysis of
minerals. For twenty years he has delivered _gratis_ public courses
of chymistry and mineralogy. For the advancement of those sciences,
he also availed himself of the favour he enjoyed with some persons at
court and in the ministry, and this was certainly making a very
meritorious use of it. To his care and interest is wholly due the
collection of minerals placed in this building. The apartment
containing it has, by some, been thought to deviate from the simple
and severe style suitable to its destination, and to resemble too
much the drawing-room of a fine lady. But those who have hazarded
such a reproach do not consider that, at the period when this cabinet
was formed, it was not useless, in order to bring the sciences into
fashion, to surround them with the show of luxury and the elegance of
accessory decoration. Who knows even whether that very circumstance,
trifling as it may appear, has not somewhat contributed to spread a
taste for the two sciences in question among the great, and in the
However this may be, the arrangement of this cabinet is excellent,
and, in that respect, it is worthy to serve as a model. The
productions of nature are so disposed that the glazed closets and
cases containing them present, as it were, an open book in which the
curious and attentive observer instructs himself with the greater
facility and expedition, as he can without effort examine and study
perfectly every individual specimen.
The inside of the Museum is about forty-five feet in length,
thirty-eight in breadth, and forty in elevation. In the middle is an
amphitheatre capable of holding two hundred persons. In the
circumference are glazed cabinets or closets, in which are arranged
methodically and analytically almost all the substances known in
mineralogy. The octagonal gallery, above the elliptical amphitheatre,
contains large specimens of different minerals. To each specimen is
annexed an explanatory ticket. One of the large lateral galleries
presents part of the productions of the mines of France, classed
according to the order of the departments where they are found. The
new transversal gallery contains models of furnaces and machines
employed in the working of mines. The third gallery is also destined
to contain the minerals of France, the essays and results of which
are deposited in a private cabinet. The galleries are decorated with
tables and vases of different species of marble, porphyry, and
granite, also from the mines of France, collected by SAGE. The cupola
which rises above, is elegantly ornamented from the designs of
ANTOINE, the architect of the building.
This Museum is open to the public every day from nine o'clock in the
morning till two, and, though it has been so many years an object of
curiosity, such is the care exerted in superintending it, that it has
all the freshness of novelty.
In a niche, on the first landing-place of the stair-case, is the bust
of M. SAGE, a tribute of gratitude paid to him by his pupils. SAGE'S
principal object being to naturalize in France mineralogy, docimacy,
and metallurgy, he first obtained the establishment of a _Special
School of Mines_, in which pupils were maintained by the State. Here,
he directed their studies, and enjoyed the happiness of forming
intelligent men, capable of improving the science of metallurgy, and
promoting the search of ores, &c.
For a number of years past, as I have already observed, SAGE has
delivered _gratis_, in this Museum; public courses of chymistry and
mineralogy. He attracts hither many auditors by the ease of his
elocution, and the address, the grace even which he displays in his
experiments. If all those who have attended his lectures are to be
reckoned his pupils, there will be found in the number names
illustrious among the _savans_ of France. Unfortunately, this veteran
of science has created for himself a particular system in chymistry,
and this system differs from that of LAVOISIER, FOURCROY,
GUYTON-MORVEAU, BERTHOLLET, CHAPTAL, &c. The sciences have also their
schisms; but the real _savans_ are not persecutors. Although SAGE was
not of their opinion on many essential points, his adversaries always
respected him as the man who had first drawn the attention of the
government towards the art of mines, instigated the establishment of
the first school which had existed for this important object, and
been the author of several good analyses. On coming out of prison,
into which he had been thrown during the reign of terror, he found
this cabinet of mineralogy untouched. It would then have been easy,
from motives of public utility, to unite it to the new School of
Mines. But the heads of this new school had, for the most part,
issued from the old one, and SAGE was dear to them from every
consideration. It was from a consequence of this sentiment that SAGE,
who had been a member of the _Academy of Sciences_, not having been
comprised in the list of the members of the National Institute at the
time of its formation, has since been admitted into that learned
body, not as a chymist indeed, but as a professor of mineralogy, a
science which owes to him much of its improvement.
The new School of Mines is now abolished, and practical ones are
established in the mountains, as I have before mentioned. While I am
speaking of mineralogy, I shall take you to view the
CABINET DU CONSEIL DES MINES.
This cabinet of mineralogy, formed at the _Hotel des Mines_, _Rue de
l'Universite_, _No. 293_, is principally intended to present a
complete collection of all the riches of the soil of the French
Republic, arranged in local order. A succession of glazed closets,
contiguous and similar to each other, that is about six feet and a
half in height by sixteen inches in depth, affords every facility of
observing them with ease and convenience. On these cases the names of
the departments are inscribed in alphabetical order, and the
vacancies which still exist in this geographical collection, are
daily filled up by specimens sent by the engineers of mines, who,
being spread over the different districts they are charged to visit,
employ themselves in recognizing carefully the mineral substances
peculiar to each country, in order to submit their views to the
government respecting the means of rendering them useful to commerce
and to the arts.
The departmental collection, being thus arranged on the sides of the
gallery, leaves vacant the middle of the apartments, which is
furnished with tables covered with large glazed cases, intended for
receiving systematic collections, and the most remarkable mineral
substances from foreign countries, distributed in geographical order.
An apartment is specially appropriated to the systematic order
adopted by HAUeY in his new treatise on mineralogy; another is
reserved for the method of WERNER.
In both these oryctognostic collections, minerals of all countries
are indiscriminately admitted. They are arranged by _classes_,
_orders_, _genera_, _species_, and _varieties_, with the
denominations adopted by the author of the method, and consequently
designated by specific names in French for HAUeY'S method, and in
German for that of WERNER. The proximity of the two apartments where
they are exhibited, affords every advantage for comparing both
methods, and acquiring an exact knowledge of mineralogical synonymy.
Each of the two methods contains also a geological collection of
rocks and various aggregates, classed and named after the principles
which their respective authors have thought fit to adopt.
The other apartments are likewise furnished with tables covered with
glazed cases, where are exhibited, in a manner very advantageous for
study, the most remarkable minerals of every description from foreign
countries, among which are:
1. A numerous series of minerals from Russia, such as red chromate of
lead, white carbonate of lead, green phosphate of lead; native
copper, green and blue carbonate of copper; gold ore from Berezof;
iron ore, granitical rocks, fossil shells, in good preservation, from
the banks of the Moscorika, and others in the siliceous state,
jaspers, crystals of quartz, beril, &c.
2. A collection from the iron and copper mines of Sweden, as well as
various crystals and rocks from the same country.
3. A very complete and diversified collection of minerals from the
country of Saltzburg.
4. Another of substances procured in England, such as fluates and
carbonates of lime from Derbyshire; pyrites, copper and lead ore,
zinc, and tin from Cornwall.
5. A collection of tin ore, cobalt, uranite, &c. from Saxony.
6. A series of minerals from Simplon, St. Gothard, the Tyrol,
Transylvania, as well as from Egypt and America. All these articles,
without being striking from their size, and other accessory qualities
to be remarked in costly specimens, incontestably present a rich fund
of instruction to persons delirous of fathoming science, by
multiplying the points of view under which mineral productions may be
Such is the present state of the mineralogical collection of the
_Conseil des Mines_, which the superintendants will, no doubt, with
time and attention, bring to the highest degree of perfection. It is
open to the public every Monday and Thursday: but, on the other days
of the week, amateurs and students have access to it.
A few years before the revolution, France was still considered as
destitute of an infinite number of mineral riches, which were thought
to belong exclusively to several of the surrounding countries.
Germany was quoted as a country particularly favoured, in this
respect, by Nature. Yet France is crossed by mountains similar to
those met with in Germany, and these mountains contain rocks of the
same species as those of that country which is so rich in minerals.
What has happened might therefore have been foreseen; namely, that,
when intelligent men, with an experienced eye, should examine the
soil of the various departments of the Republic, they would find in
it not only substances hitherto considered as scarce, but even
several of those whose existence there had not yet been suspected.
Since the revolution, the following are the
_Principal Mineral Substances discovered in France._
_Dolomite_ in the mountains of Vosges and in the Pyrenees.
_Carburet of iron_ or _plumbago_, in the south peak of Bigorre. The
same variety has been been found near Argentiere, and the valley of
Chamouny, department of Mont-Blanc.
A rock of the appearance of _porphyry_, with a _calcareous_ base, in
the same valley of Chamouny.
_Tremolite_ or _grammatite_ of HAUeY, in the same place. These two
last-mentioned substances were in terminated crystals.
_Red oxyd of titanium_, in the same place.
_New violet schorl_, or _sphene_ of HAUeY, (_rayonnante en goutiere_
of SAUSSURE) in the same place.
_Crystallized sulphate of strontia_, in the mines of Villefort in La
Lozere, in the environs of Paris, at Bartelemont, near the _Salterns_
in the department of La Meurthe.
_Fibrous and crystallized sulphate of strontia_, at Bouvron, near
_Earthy sulphate of strontia_, in the vicinity of Paris, near the
forest of Montmorency, and to the north-east of it.
_Onyx-agate-quartz_, at Champigny, in the department of La Seine.
_Avanturine-quartz_, in the Deux-Sevres.
_Marine bodies_, imbedded in the soil, a little above the _Oule de
_Anthracite_, and its direction determined in several departments.
_Other marine bodies_, at the height of upwards of 3400 _metres_ or
3683 yards, on the summit of Mont-Perdu, in the Upper Pyrenees.
_Wolfram_, near St. Yriex, in Upper Vienne.
_Oxyd of antimony_, at Allemont, in the department of L'Isere.
_Chromate of iron_, near Gassin, in the department of _Le Var_, at
the _bastide_ of the cascade.
_Oxyd of uranite_, at St. Simphorien de Marmagne, in the department
of La Cote d'Or.
_Acicular arsenical lead ore_, at St. Prix, in the department of
Saone and Loire. This substance was found among some piles of
rubbish, near old works made for exploring a vein of lead ore, which
lies at the foot of a mountain to the north-east, and at three
quarters of a league from the _commune_ of St. Prix.
In this country have likewise been found several varieties of new
interesting forms relative to substances already known; several
important geological facts have been ascertained; and, lastly, the
emerald has here been recently discovered. France already possesses
eighteen of the twenty-one metallic substances known. Few countries
inherit from Nature the like advantages.
With respect to the administration of the mines of France, the
under-mentioned are the regulations now in force.
A council composed of three members, is charged to give to the
Minister of the Interior ideas, together with their motives,
respecting every thing that relates to mines. It corresponds, in the
terms of the law, with all the grantees and with all persons who
explore mines, salterns, and quarries. It superintends the research
and extraction of all substances drawn from the bosom of the earth,
and their various management. It proposes the grants, permissions,
and advances to be made, and the encouragements to be given. Under
its direction are the two practical schools, and twenty-five
engineers of mines, nine of whom are spread over different parts of
the French territory. General information relative to statistics,
every thing that can concur in the formation of the mineralogical map
of France and complete the collection of her minerals, and all
observations and memoirs relative to the art of mines or of the
different branches of metallurgy, are addressed by the engineers to
the _Conseil des Mines_ at Paris.
_Paris, February 20, 1802_.
Having fully described to you all the theatres here of the first and
second rank, I shall confine myself to a rapid sketch of those which
may be classed in the third order.
This house stands at the north-west angle of the _Palais du
Tribunat_. It is of an oval form, and contains three tiers of boxes,
exclusively of a large amphitheatre. Before the revolution, it bore
the name of _Theatre des Petits Comediens du Comte de Beaujolais_,
and was famous for the novelty of the spectacle here given. Young
girls and boys represented little comedies and comic operas in the
following manner. Some gesticulated on the stage; while others,
placed in the side-scenes, spoke or sang their parts without being
seen. It was impossible to withhold one's admiration from the perfect
harmony between the motions of the one and the speaking and singing
of the other. In short, this double acting was executed with such
precision that few strangers detected the deception.
To these actors succeeded full-grown performers, who have since
continued to play interludes of almost every description. Indeed,
this theatre is the receptacle of all the nonsense imaginable;
nothing is too absurd or too low for its stage. Here are collected
all the trivial expressions to be met with in this great city,