Part 2 out of 14
_P. S._. On the 1st of last Vendemiaire, (23rd of September), the
government presented to the Chief Consul a sword, whose hilt was
adorned with fourteen diamonds, the largest of which, called the
_Regent_, from its having been purchased by the Duke of Orleans, when
Regent, weighs 184 carats. This is the celebrated _Pitt_ diamond, of
which we have heard so much: but its weight is exceeded by that of
the diamond purchased by the late empress of Russia, which weighs 194
carats; not to speak of the more famous diamond, in possession of the
Great Mogul, which is said to weigh 280 carats.
_Paris, October 24, 1801._
Last night I received yours of the 20th ult. and as Mr. M----y
purposes to send off a dispatch this morning, and will do me the
favour to forward this, with my former letters, I hasten to write you
a few lines.
I scarcely need assure you, my dear friend, that I will, with
pleasure, communicate to you my remarks on this great city and its
inhabitants, and describe to you, as far as I am able, the principal
curiosities which it contains, particularizing, as you desire, those
recently placed here by the chance of war; and giving you a succinct,
historical account of the most remarkable national establishments and
public buildings. But to pass in review the present state of the
_arts, sciences, literature, manners, &c. &c._ in this capital, and
contrast it with that which existed before the revolution, is a task
indeed; and far more, I fear, than it will be in my power to
However, if you will be content to gather my observations as they
occur; to listen to my reflections, while the impression of the
different scenes which produced them, is still warm in my mind; in
short, to take a faithful sketch, in lieu of a finished picture, I
will do the best I can for your satisfaction.
Relying on your indulgence, you shall know the life I lead: I will,
as it were, take you by the arm, and, wherever I go, you shall be my
companion. Perhaps, by pursuing this plan, you will not, at the
expiration of three or four months, think your time unprofitably
spent. Aided by the experience acquired by having occasionally
resided here, for several months together, before the revolution, it
will be my endeavour to make you as well acquainted with Paris, as I
shall then hope to be myself. For this purpose, I will lay under
contribution every authority, both written and oral, worthy of being
_Paris, October 26, 1801._
From particular passages in your letter, I clearly perceive your
anxiety to be introduced among those valuable antiques which now
adorn the banks of the Seine. On that account, I determined to
postpone all other matters, and pay my first visit to the CENTRAL
MUSEUM OF THE ARTS, established in the
But, before, we enter the interior of this building, it may not be
amiss to give you some account of its construction, and describe to
you its exterior beauties.
The origin of this palace, as well as the etymology of its name, is
lost in the darkness of time. It is certain, however, that it
existed, under the appellation of _Louvre_, in the reign of Philip
Augustus, who surrounded it with ditches and towers, and made it a
fortress. The great tower of the _Louvre_, celebrated in history, was
insulated, and built in the middle of the court. All the great
feudatories of the crown derived their tenure from this tower, and
came hither to swear allegiance and pay homage. "It was," says St.
Foix, "a prison previously prepared for them, if they violated their
oaths." Three Counts of Flanders were confined in it at different
The _Louvre_, far from being cheerful from its construction, received
also from this enormous tower a melancholy and terrifying aspect
which rendered it unworthy of being a royal residence. Charles V.
endeavoured to enliven and embellish this gloomy abode, and made it
tolerably commodious for those times. Several foreign monarchs
successively lodged in it; such as Manuel, emperor of Constantinople;
Sigismund, emperor of Germany; and the emperor Charles the Fifth.
This large tower of the _Louvre_, which had, at different periods,
served as a palace to the kings of France, as a prison to the great
lords, and as a treasury to the state, was at length taken down in
The _Tower of the Library_ was famous, among several others, because
it contained that of Charles V. the most considerable one of the
time, and in which the number of volumes amounted to nine hundred.
The part of this palace which, at the present day, is called the _Old
Louvre_, was begun under Francis I. from the plan of PIERRE LESCOT,
abbot of Clugny; and the sculpture was executed by JEAN GOUGEON,
whose minute correctness is particularly remarkable in the festoons
of the frieze of the second order, and in the devices emblematic of
the amours of Henry II. This edifice, though finished, was not
inhabited during the reign of that king, but it was by his son
Under him, the _Louvre_ became the bloody theatre of treacheries and
massacres which time will never efface from the memory of mankind,
and which, till the merciless reign of Robespierre, were unexampled
in the history of this country. I mean the horrors of St.
While the alarmed citizens were swimming across the river to escape
from death, Charles IX. from a window of this palace, was firing at
them with his arquebuse. During that period of the revolution, when
all means were employed to excite and strengthen the enmity of the
people against their kings, this act of atrocity was called to their
mind by an inscription placed under the very window, which looks on
the _Quai du Louvre_.
Indeed, this instance of Charles's barbarity is fully corroborated by
historians. "When it was day-light," says Brantome, "the king peeped
out of his chamber-window, and seeing some people in the _Faubourg
St. Germain_ moving about and running away, he took a large arquebuse
which he had ready at hand, and, calling out incessantly: _Kill,
kill!_ fired a great many shots at them, but in vain; for the piece
did not carry so far."--This prince, according to Masson, piqued
himself on his dexterity in cutting off at a single blow the head of
the asses and pigs which he met with on his way. Lansac, one of his
favourites, having found him one day with his sword drawn and ready
to strike his mule, asked him seriously: "What quarrel has then
happened between His Most Christian Majesty and my mule?" Murad Bey
far surpassed this blood-thirsty monarch in address and strength. The
former, we are told by travellers in Egypt, has been known, when
riding past an ox, to cut off its head with one stroke of his
The capital was dyed with the blood of Charles's murdered subjects.
Into this very _Louvre_, into the chamber of Marguerite de Valois,
the king's sister, and even to her bed, in which she was then lying,
did the fanatics pursue the officers belonging to the court itself,
as is circumstantially related by that princess in her Memoirs.
Let us draw the curtain on these scenes of horror, and pass rapidly
from this period of fanaticism and cruelty, when the _Louvre_ was
stained by so many crimes to times more happy, when this palace
became the quiet cradle of the arts and sciences, the school for
talents, the _arena_ for genius, and the asylum of artists and
The centre pavilion over the principal gate of the _Old Louvre_, was
erected under the reign of Lewis XIII. from the designs of LE
MERCIER, as well as the angle of the left part of the building,
parallel to that built by Henry II. The eight gigantic cariatides
which are there seen, were sculptured by SARRASIN.
The facade towards the _Jardin de l'Infante_, (as it is called), that
towards the _Place du Louvre_, and that over the little gate, towards
the river, which were constructed under the reigns of Charles IX. and
Henry III. in the midst of the civil wars of the League, partake of
the taste of the time, in regard to the multiplicity of the
ornaments; but the interior announces, by the majesty of its
decorations, the refined taste of Lewis XIV.
The part of the _Louvre_, which, with the two sides of the old
building, forms the perfect square, three hundred and seventy-eight
feet in extent, called the _New Louvre_, consists in two double
facades, which are still unfinished. LE VEAU, and after him D'ORBAY,
were the architects under whose direction this augmentation was made
by order of Lewis XIV.
That king at first resolved to continue the _Louvre_ on the plan
begun by Francis I.: for some time he caused it to be pursued, but
having conceived a more grand and magnificent design, he ordered the
foundation of the superb edifice now standing, to be laid on the 17th
of October 1665, under the administration of COLBERT.
Through a natural prejudice, Lewis XIV. thought that he could find no
where but in Italy an artist sufficiently skilful to execute his
projects of magnificence. He sent for the Cavaliere BERNINI from
Rome. This artist, whose reputation was established, was received in
France with all the pomp due to princes of the blood. The king
ordered that, in the towns through which he might pass, he should be
complimented and receive presents from the corporations, &c.
BERNINI was loaded with wealth and honours: notwithstanding the
prepossession of the court in favour of this Italian architect,
notwithstanding his talents, he did not succeed in his enterprise.
After having forwarded the foundation of this edifice, he made a
pretext of the impossibility of spending the winter in a climate
colder than that of Italy. "He was promised," says St. Foix, "three
thousand louis a year if he would stay; but," he said, "he would
positively go and die in his _own_ country." On the eve of his
departure, the king sent him three thousand louis, with the grant of
a pension of five hundred. He received the whole with great coolness.
Several celebrated architects now entered the lists to complete this
grand undertaking.--MANSARD presented his plans, with which COLBERT
was extremely pleased: the king also approved of them, and absolutely
insisted on their being executed without any alteration. MANSARD
replied that he would rather renounce the glory of building this
edifice than the liberty of correcting himself, and changing his
design when he thought he could improve it. Among the competitors was
CLAUDE PERRAULT, that physician so defamed by Boileau, the poet. His
plans were preferred, and merited the preference. Many pleasantries
were circulated at the expense of the new medical architect; and
PERRAULT replied to those sarcasms by producing the beautiful
colonnade of the _Louvre_, the master-piece of French architecture,
and the admiration of all Europe.
The facade of this colonnade, which is of the Corinthian order; is
five hundred and twenty-five feet in length: it is divided into two
peristyles and three avant-corps. The principal gate is in the centre
avant-corps, which is decorated with eight double columns, crowned by
a pediment, whose raking cornices are composed of two stones only,
each fifty-four feet in length by eight in breadth, though no more
than eighteen inches in thickness. They were taken from the quarries
of Meudon, and formed but one single block, which was sawed into two.
The other two avant-corps are ornamented by six pilasters, and two
columns of the same order, and disposed in the same manner. On the
top, in lieu of a ridged roof, is a terrace, bordered by a stone
balustrade, the pedestals of which are intended to bear trophies
intermixed with vases.
PERRAULT'S enemies disputed with him the invention of this
master-piece. They maintained that it belonged to LE VEAU, the
architect; but, since the discovery of the original manuscript and
drawings of PERRAULT, there no longer remains a doubt respecting
the real author of this beautiful production.
In front of this magnificent colonnade, a multitude of salesmen erect
their stalls, and there display quantities of old clothes, rags, &c.
This contrast, as Mercier justly remarks, still speaks to the eye of
the attentive observer. It is the image of all the rest, grandeur and
beggary, side by side.
However, it is not on the _outside_ of these walls only, that beggary
has been so nearly allied to grandeur. At least we have a solitary
instance of this truth of a very sinking nature.
Cardinal de Retz tells us, that going one morning to the _Louvre_ to
see the Queen of England, he found her in the chamber of her
daughter, aftenwards Dutchess of Orleans, and that she said to him:
"You see, I come to keep Henriette company: the poor girl could not
leave her bed to-day, for want of fuel."--It is true, he adds, that,
for six months past Cardinal Mazarin had not paid her pension; the
tradesmen, would no longer give her credit, and she had not a piece
of wood to warm her.
Like St. Paul's in London, the facade of the _Louvre_ cannot be seen
to the best advantage, on account of the proximity of the surrounding
buildings; and, like many other great undertakings too, will,
probably, never be completed, but remain a monument of the fickleness
of the nation.
Lewis XIV, after having for a long time made the _Louvre_ his
residence; abandoned it for _Versailles_: "Sire," said Dufreny once
to that prince, "I never look at the _New Louvre_, without
exclaiming, superb monument of the magnificence of our greatest
kings, you would have been finished, had you been given to one of the
begging orders of friars!" From that period, the _Louvre_ was wholly
consecrated to the sittings of different academies, and to the
accommodation of several men of science and artists, to whom free
apartments were allotted.
I much regret having, for this year at least, lost a sight here,
which I should have viewed with no inconsiderable degree of
attention. This is the
PUBLIC EXHIBITION OF THE PRODUCTIONS OF FRENCH INDUSTRY.
Under the directorial government, this exhibition was opened in the
_Champ de Mars_; but it now takes place, annually, in the square of
the _Louvre_, during the five complementary days of the republican
calendar; namely, from the 18th to the 22d of September, both
The exhibition not only includes manufactures of every sort, but also
every new discovery, invention, and improvement. For the purpose of
displaying these objects to advantage, temporary buildings are
erected along the four interior walls of this square, each of which
are subdivided into twenty-five porticoes; so that the whole square
of the _Louvre_, during that period, represents a fair with a hundred
booths. The resemblance, I am told, is rendered still more perfect by
the prodigious crowd; persons of all ranks being indiscriminately
admitted to view these productions. Precautions, however, are taken
to prevent the indiscreet part of the public from rushing into the
porticoes, and sentinels are posted at certain intervals to preserve
This, undoubtedly, is a very laudable institution, and extremely well
calculated to excite emulation in the national manufactures,
specimens of which being sent from all the principal manufacturing
towns, the hundred porticoes may be said to comprise an epitome of
the present state of all the flourishing manufactures of France.
Indeed, none but new inventions and articles of finished workmanship,
the fabrication of which is known, are suffered to make part of the
exhibition. Even these are not admitted till after a previous
examination, and on the certificate of a private jury of five
members, appointed for that purpose by the prefect of each
department. A new jury, composed of fifteen members, nominated by the
Minister of the Interior, again examine the different articles
admitted; and agreeably to their decision, the government award
premiums and medals to those persons who have made the greatest
improvement in any particular fabric or branch of industry, or
produced any new discovery or invention. The successful candidates
are presented to the Chief Consul by the Minister of the Interior,
and have the honour of dining with him at his public monthly dinner.
From all that I can learn concerning this interesting exhibition, it
appears, that, though the useful arts, in general, cannot at present
be put in competition here with those of a similar description among
us, the object of the French government is to keep up a spirit of
rivalship, and encourage, by every possible means, the improvement of
those manufactures in which England is acknowledged to surpass other
I am reminded that it is time to prepare for going out to dinner. I
must therefore not leave this letter, like the _Louvre_, unfinished.
Fortunately, my good friend, the prevailing fashion here is to dine
very late, which leaves me a long morning; but for this, I know not
when I should have an opportunity of writing long letters. Restrain
then your impatience, and I promise that you shall very shortly be
ushered into the GALLERY OF ANTIQUES,
"Where the smooth chisel all its force has shewn,
And soften'd into flesh the rugged stone."
[Footnote 1: _Essais historiques sur Paris_.]
[Footnote 2: It may be necessary to observe that, throughout these
letters, we always speak of French feet. The English foot is to the
French as 12 to 12.789, or as 4 to 4.263.]
_Paris, October 28, 1801._
Having, in my last letter, described to you the outside of the
_Louvre_, (with the exception of the Great Gallery, of which I shall
speak more at length in another place), I shall now proceed to give
you an account of some of the principal national establishments
contained within its walls.
Before the revolution, the _Louvre_ was, as I have said, the seat of
different academies, such as the _French Academy_, the _Academy of
Sciences_, the _Academy of Inscriptions and Belles Lettres_, the
_Academy of Painting and Sculpture_, and the _Academy of
Architecture_. All these are replaced by the _National Institute of
Arts and Sciences_, of which, however, I shall postpone further
mention till I conduct you to one of its public sittings.
At the period to which I revert, there existed in the _Louvre_ a
hall, called the _Salle des Antiques_, where, besides, some original
statues by French artists, were assembled models in plaster of the
most celebrated master-pieces of sculpture in Italy, together with a
small number of antiques. In another apartment, forming part of those
assigned to the Academy of Painting, and called the _Galerie
d'Apollon_, were seen several pictures, chiefly of the French school;
and it was intended that the Great Gallery should be formed into a
Museum, containing a collection of the finest pictures and statues at
the disposal of the crown.
This plan, which had partly been carried into execution under the old
_regime_, is now completed, but in a manner infinitely more
magnificent than could possibly have been effected without the
advantages of conquest. The _Great Gallery_ and _Saloon_ of the
_Louvre_ are solely appropriated to the exhibition of pictures of the
old masters of the Italian, Flemish, and French schools; and the
_Gallery of Apollo_ to that of their drawings; while a suite of lofty
apartments has been purposely fitted up in this palace for the
reception of original antiques, in lieu of those copies of them
before-mentioned. In other rooms, adjoining to the Great Gallery, are
exhibited, as formerly, that is during one month every year, the
productions of living painters, sculptors, architects, and
These different exhibitions are placed under the superintendance of a
board of management, or an administration, (as the French term it),
composed of a number of antiquaries, artists, and men of science,
inferior to none in Europe in skill, judgment, taste, or erudition.
The whole of this grand establishment bears the general title of
CENTRAL MUSEUM OF THE ARTS.
The treasures of painting and sculpture which the French nation have
acquired by the success of their arms, or by express conditions in
treaties of alliance or neutrality, are so immense as to enable them,
not only to render this CENTRAL MUSEUM the grandest collection of
master-pieces in the world, but also to establish fifteen
departmental Museums in fifteen of the principal towns of France.
This measure, evidently intended to favour the progress of the fine
arts, will case Paris of a great number of the pictures, statues, &c.
amassed here from different parts of France, Germany, Belgium,
Holland, Italy, Piedmont, Savoy, and the States of. Venice.
If you cast your eye on the annexed _Plan of Paris_, and suppose
yourself near the exterior south-west angle of the _Louvre_, or, as
it is more emphatically styled, the NATIONAL PALACE OF ARTS AND
SCIENCES, you will be in the right-hand corner of the _Place du Vieux
Louvre_, in which quarter is the present entrance to the CENTRAL
MUSEUM OF THE ARTS. Here, after passing through a court, you enter a
vestibule, on the left of which is the Hall of the Administration of
the Museum. On the ground-floor, facing the door of this vestibule,
is the entrance to the
GALLERY OF ANTIQUES.
In this gallery, which was, for the first time, opened to the public
on the 18th of Brumaire, year ix. of the French republic, (9th of
November 1800), are now distributed no less than one hundred and
forty-six statues, busts, and bas-reliefs. It consists of several
handsome apartments, bearing appropriate denominations, according to
the principal subjects which each contains. Six only are at present
completely arranged for public inspection: but many others are in a
state of preparation.
The greater part of the statues here exhibited, are the fruit of the
conquests of the army of Italy. Conformably to the treaty of
Tolentino, they were selected at Rome, from the Capitol and the
Vatican, by BARTHELEMY, BERTHOLET, MOITTE, MONGE, THOUIN, and TINET,
who were appointed, by the French government, commissioners for the
research of objects appertaining to the Arts and Sciences.
In the vestibule, for the moderate price of fifteen _sous_, is sold a
catalogue, which is not merely a barren index, but a perspicuous and
satisfactory explanation of the different objects that strike the eye
of the admiring spectator as he traverses the GALLERY OF ANTIQUES. It
is by no means my intention to transcribe this catalogue, or to
mention every statue; but, assisted by the valuable observations with
which I was favoured by the learned antiquary, VISCONTI, long
distinguished for his profound knowledge of the fine arts, I shall
describe the most remarkable only, and such as would fix the
attention of the connoisseur.
On entering the gallery, you might, perhaps, be tempted to stop in
the first hall; but we will visit them all in regular succession, and
proceed to that which is now the furthest on the left hand. The
ceiling of this apartment, painted by ROMANELLI, represents the four
seasons; whence it is called the
HALL OF THE SEASONS.
In consequence, among other antiques, here are placed the statues of
the rustic divinities, and those relating to the Seasons. Of the
whole, I shall distinguish the following:
N deg. 210. DIANA.
Diana, habited as a huntress, in a short tunic without sleeves, is
holding her bow in one hand; while, with the other, she is drawing an
arrow from her quiver, which is suspended at her shoulder. Her legs
are bare, and her feet are adorned with rich sandals. The goddess,
with a look expressive of indignation, appears to be defending the
fabulous hind from the pursuit of Hercules, who, in obedience to the
oracle of Apollo, was pursuing it, in order to carry it alive to
Eurystheus; a task imposed on him by the latter as one of his twelve
To say that, in the opinion of the first-rate connoisseurs, this
statue might serve as a companion to the _Apollo of Belvedere_, is
sufficient to convey an idea of its perfection; and, in fact, it is
reckoned the finest representation of Diana in existence. It is of
Parian marble, and, according to historians, has been in France ever
since the reign of Henry IV. It was the most perfect of the antiques
which adorned the Gallery of Versailles. The parts wanting have been
recently restored with such skill as to claim particular admiration.
In this bust, the city of Rome is personified as an Amazon. The
helmet of the female warrior is adorned with a representation of the
she-wolf, suckling the children of Mars.
This antique, of Parian marble, is of a perfect Greek style, and in
admirable preservation. It formerly belonged to the Gallery of
51. ADOLESCENS SPINAM AVELLENS.
This bronze figure represents a young man seated, who seems employed
in extracting a thorn from his left foot.
It is a production of the flourishing period of the art, but,
according to appearance, anterior to the reign of Alexander the
Great. It partakes a little of the meagre style of the old Greek
school; but, at the same time, is finished with astonishing truth,
and exhibits a graceful simplicity of expression. In what place it
was originally discovered is not known. It was taken from the
Capitol, where it was seen in the _Palazzo dei Conservatori_.
50. A FAUN, _in a resting posture_.
This young faun, with no other covering than a deer's skin thrown
over his shoulders, is standing with his legs crossed, and leaning on
the trunk of a tree, as if resting himself.
The grace and finished execution that reign throughout this figure,
as well as the immense number of copies still existing of it, and all
antiques, occasion it to be considered as the copy of the Faun in
bronze, (or Satyr as it is termed by the Greeks), of Praxiteles. That
statue was so celebrated, that the epithet of [Greek: perizoaetos], or
the famous, became its distinctive appellation throughout Greece.
This Faun is of Pentelic marble: it was found in 1701, near _Civita
Lavinia_, and placed in the Capitol by Benedict XIV.
59. ARIADNE, _known by the name of_ CLEOPATRA.
In this beautiful figure, Ariadne is represented asleep on a rock in
the Isle of Naxos, abandoned by the faithless Theseus, and at the
moment when Bacchus became enamoured of her, as described by several
It is astonishing how the expression of sleep could be mistaken for
that of death, and cause this figure to be called _Cleopatra_. The
serpent on the upper part of the left arm is evidently a bracelet, of
that figure which the Greek women called [Greek: opidion], or the
For three successive centuries, this statue of Parian marble
constituted one of the principal ornaments of the Belvedere of the
Vatican, where it was placed by Julius II.
This head of Augustus, adorned with the civic crown of oak leaves, is
one of the fine portraits of that emperor. It is executed in Parian
marble, and comes from Verona, where it was admired in the
* * * * *
On quitting the HALL OF THE SEASONS, we return to that through which
we first passed to reach it. This apartment, from being ornamented
with the statues of ZENO, TRAJAN, DEMOSTHENES, and PHOCION, is
HALL OF ILLUSTRIOUS MEN.
It is decorated with eight antique granite pillars brought from
_Aix-la-Chapelle_, where they stood in the nave of the church, which
contained the tomb of Charlemagne.
Among the antiques placed in it, I shall particularize
N deg. 75. MENANDER.
This figure represents the poet, honoured by the Greeks with the
title of _Prince of the New Comedy_, sitting on a hemi-cycle, or
semicircular seat, and resting after his literary labours. He is clad
in the Grecian tunic and _pallium_.
The dress of Posidippus, who was reckoned among the Greeks one of the
best authors of what was called the _New Comedy_, is nearly that of
Menander, the poet. Like him, he is represented sitting on a
These two statues, which are companions, are admirable for the noble
simplicity of their execution. They are both of Pentelic marble, and
were found in the XVIth century at Rome, in the gardens of the
convent of _San Lorenzo_, on Mount Viminal. After making part of the
baths of Olympius, they were placed by Sixtus V. at _Negroni_, whence
they were removed to the Vatican by Pius VI.
* * * * *
Continuing our examination, after leaving the HALL OF ILLUSTRIOUS
MEN, we next come to the
HALL OF THE ROMANS.
The ceiling of this hall is ornamented with subjects taken from the
Roman history, painted by ROMANELLI; and in it are chiefly assembled
such works of sculpture as have a relation to that people.
Among several busts and statues, representing ADRIAN, PUBLIUS
CORNELIUS SCIPIO, MARCUS JUNIUS BRUTUS, LUCIUS JUNIUS BRUTUS, CICERO,
&c. I shall point out to your notice,
209. _The_ TORSO _of_ BELVEDERE.
This admirable remnant of a figure seated, though the head, arms, and
legs are wanting, represents the apotheosis of Hercules. The lion's
skin spread on the rock, and the enormous size of the limbs, leave no
doubt as to the subject of the statue. Notwithstanding the muscles
are strongly marked, the veins in the body of the hero are
suppressed, whence antiquaries have inferred, that the intention of
the author was to indicate the very moment of his deification.
According to this idea, our countryman FLAXMAN has immortalized
himself by restoring a copy of the _Torso_, and placing Hebe on the
left of Hercules, in the act of presenting to him the cup of
On the rock, where the figure is seated, is the following Greek
By which we are informed, that it is the production of APOLLONIUS,
_the Athenian, the son of Nestor_, who, probably, flourished in the
time of Pompey the Great.
This valuable antique is of Pentelic marble, and sculptured in a most
masterly style. It was found at Rome, near Pompey's theatre, now
_Campo di Fiore_. Julius II. placed it in the garden of the Vatican,
where it was long the object of the studies of MICHAEL ANGELO,
RAPHAEL, &c. those illustrious geniuses, to whom we are indebted for
the improvement of the fine arts. Among artists, it has always been
distinguished by the appellation of the _Torso of Belvedere_.
94. _A wounded warrior, commonly called the_ GLADIATOR MORIENS.
This figure, represents a barbarian soldier, dying on the field of
battle, without surrendering. It is remarkable for truth of
imitation, of a choice nature, though not sublime, (because the
subject would not admit of it,) and for nobleness of expression,
which is evident without affectation.
This statue formerly belonged to the _Villa-Ludovisi_, whence it was
removed to the Museum of the Capitol by Clement XII. It is from the
chisel of AGASIAS, a sculptor of Ephesus, who lived 450 years before
the Christian era.
This charming figure is rather that of a Muse than of the goddess of
agriculture. It is admirable for the _ideal_ beauty of the drapery.
She is clad in a tunic; over this is thrown a mantle, the execution
of which is so perfect, that, through it, are perceived the knots of
the strings which fasten the tunic below the bosom.
It formerly belonged to the _Villa-Mattei_, on Mount Esquiline; but
was taken from the Museum of the Vatican, where it had been placed by
80. _A Roman orator, called_ GERMANICUS.
Hitherto this admirable figure of a Roman orator, with the attributes
of Mercury, the god of eloquence, has passed for that of Germanicus,
though it is manifestly too old for him. Here we have another model
of beautiful elegance of form, though not of an _ideal_ sublimity.
On the shell of a tortoise, at tide foot of the statue, is inscribed
in beautiful Greek characters:
Whence we learn that it is the production of CLEOMENES, an Athenian
artist, mentioned by Pliny, and who flourished towards the end of the
Roman republic, about 500 years before Christ. This statue was taken
from the Gallery of Versailles, where it had been placed in the reign
of Lewis XIV. It formerly belonged to the garden of Sixtus V. at
_Villa-Montalto_, in Rome.
97. ANTINOUeS, _called the_ ANTINOUeS OF THE CAPITOL.
In this monument, Adrian's favourite is represented as having
scarcely attained the age of puberty. He is naked, and his attitude
has some affinity to that of Mercury. However, his countenance seems
to be impressed with that cast of melancholy, by which all his
portraits are distinguished: Hence has been applied to him that verse
of Virgil on Marcellus;
_"Sed frons laeta parum, et dejecto lumina vultu"_
This beautiful figure, of Carrara marble, is sculptured in a masterly
manner. It comes from the Museum of the Capitol, and previously
belonged to the collection of Cardinal Alessandro Albani. The
fore-arm and left leg are modern.
In this colossal bust of the Bithynian youth, are some peculiarities
which call to mind the images of the Egyptian god _Harpocrates_. It
is finely executed in hard Greek marble, and comes from the Museum of
the Vatican. As recently as the year 1790, it was dug from the ruins
of the _Villa-Fede_ at Tivoli.
But enough for to-day--to-morrow I will resume my pen, and we will
complete our survey of the GALLERY OF ANTIQUES.
_Paris, October 29, 1801._
If the culture of the arts, by promoting industry and increasing
commerce, improves civilization, and refines manners, what modern
people can boast of such advantages as are now enjoyed by the French
nation? While the sciences keep pace with the arts, good taste bids
fair to spread, in time, from the capital throughout the country, and
to become universal among them. In antiquity, Athens attests the
truth of this proposition, by rising, through the same means, above
all the cities of Greece; and, in modern times, have we not seen in
Florence, become opulent, the darkness of ignorance vanish, like a
fog, before the bright rays of knowledge, diffused by the flourishing
progress of the arts and sciences?
When I closed my letter yesterday, we had just terminated our
examination of the HALL OF THE ROMANS. On the same line with it, the
next apartment we reach, taking its name from the celebrated group
here placed, is styled the
HALL OF THE LAOCOON.
Here are to be admired four pillars of _verde antico_, a species of
green marble, obtained by the ancients, from the environs of
Thessalonica. They were taken from the church of _Montmorency_, where
they decorated the tomb of Anne, the constable of that name. The
first three apartments are floored with inlaid oak; but this is paved
with beautiful marble.
Of the _chefs d'oeuvre_ exhibited in this hall, every person of taste
cannot but feel particular gratification in examining the
N deg. 108. LAOCOON.
The pathetic story which forms the subject of this admirable group is
known to every classic reader. It is considered as one of the most
perfect works that ever came from the chisel; being at once a
master-piece of composition, design, and feeling. Any sort of
commentary could but weaken the impression which it makes on the
It was found in 1506, under the pontificate of Julius II, at Rome, on
Mount Esquiline, in the ruins of the palace of Titus. The three
Rhodian artists, AGESANDER, POLYDORUS, and ATHENOPORUS, mentioned by
Pliny, as the sculptors of this _chef d'oeuvre_ flourished during the
time of the Emperors, in the first century of the Christian era.
The group is composed of five blocks, but joined in so skilful a
manner, that Pliny thought them of one single piece. The right arm of
the father and two arms of the children are wanting.
This uncommonly beautiful figure of Parian marble represents a woman,
whose feminine features and form seem to have contracted the
impression of the masculine habits of warfare. Clad in a very fine
tunic, which, leaving the left breast exposed, is tucked up on the
hips, she is in the act of bending a large bow. No attitude could be
better calculated for exhibiting to advantage the finely-modelled
person of this heroine.
For two centuries, this statue was at the _Villa-Mattei_, on Mount
Coelius at Rome, whence it was removed to the Museum of the Vatican
by Clement XIV.
The son of OEneus, king of Calydon, with nothing but a _chlamis_
fastened on his shoulders, and winding round his left arm, is here
represented resting himself, after having killed the formidable wild
boar, which was ravaging his dominions; at his side is the head of
the animal, and near him sits his faithful dog.
The beauty of this group is sublime, and yet it is of a different
cast, from either that of the _Apollo of Belvedere_, or that of the
_Mercury_, called Antinoues, of which we shall presently have occasion
This group is of Greek marble of a cinereous colour: there are two
different traditions respecting the place where it was found; but the
preference is given to that of Aldroandi, who affirms that it was
discovered in a vineyard bordering on the Tiber. It belonged to
Fusconi, physician to Paul III, and was for a long time in the
_Pighini_ palace at Rome, whence Clement XIV had it conveyed to the
103 and 104. _Two busts, called_ TRAGEDY and COMEDY.
These colossal heads of Bacchantes adorned the entrance of the
theatre of the _Villa-Adriana_ at Tivoli. Though the execution of
them is highly finished, it is no detriment to the grandeur of the
The one is of Pentelic marble; and the other, of Parian. Having been
purchased of Count Fede by Pius VI, they were placed in the Museum of
This bust is particularly deserving of attention, on account of its
beauty, its excellent preservation, and perfect resemblance to the
medals which remain of Adrian's favourite.
It is of Parian marble of the finest quality, and had been in France
long before the revolution.
112. ARIADNE, _called_ (in the catalogue) BACCHUS.
Some sculptors have determined to call this beautiful head that of
BACCHUS; while the celebrated VISCONTI, and other distinguished
antiquaries, persist in preserving to it its ancient name of ARIADNE,
by which it was known in the Museum of the Capitol.
Whichever it may be, it is of Pentelic marble, and unquestionably one
of the most sublime productions of the chisel, in point of _ideal_
* * * * *
From the HALL OF THE LAOCOON, we pass into the apartment, which, from
the famous statue, here erected, and embellished in the most splendid
manner, takes the appellation of the
HALL OF THE APOLLO.
This hall is ornamented with four pillars of red oriental granite of
the finest quality: those which decorate the niche of the Apollo were
taken from the church that contained the tomb of Charlemagne at
_Aix-la-Chapelle_. The floor is paved with different species of
scarce and valuable marble, in large compartments, and, in its
centre, is placed a large octagonal table of the same substance.
In proportion to the dimensions of this apartment, which is
considerably larger than any of the others, a greater number of
antiques are here placed, of which the following are the most
N deg. 145. APOLLO PYTHIUS, _commonly called the_ APOLLO OF BELVEDERE.
The name alone of this _chef d'oeuvre_ might be said to contain its
eulogium. But as you may, probably, expect from me some remarks on
it, I shall candidly acknowledge that I can do no better than
communicate to you the able and interesting description given of it
by the Administration of the Museum, of which the following is a fair
"Apollo has just discharged the mortal arrow which has struck the
serpent Python, while ravaging Delphi. In his left hand is held his
formidable bow; his right has but an instant quitted it: all his
members still preserve the impression given them by this action.
Indignation is seated on his lips; but in his looks is the assurance
of success. His hair, slightly curled, floats in long ringlets round
his neck, or is gracefully turned up on the crown of his head, which
is encircled by the _strophium_, or fillet, characteristic of kings
and gods. His quiver is suspended by a belt to the right shoulder:
his feet are adorned with rich sandals. His _chlamis_ fastened on the
shoulder, and tucked up only on the left arm, is thrown back, as if
to display the majesty of his divine form to greater advantage.
"An eternal youth is spread over all his beautiful figure, a sublime
mixture of nobleness and agility, of vigour and elegance, and which
holds a happy medium between the delicate form of Bacchus, and the
more manly one of Mercury."
This inimitable master-piece is of Carrara marble, and, consequently,
was executed by some Greek artist who lived in the time of the
Romans; but the name of its author is entirely unknown. The fore-arm
and the left hand, which were wanting, were restored by GIOVANNI
ANGELO DE MONTORSOLI, a sculptor, who was a pupil of Michael Angelo.
Towards the end of the fifteenth century, it was discovered at _Capo
d'Anzo_, twelve leagues from Rome, on the sea-shore, near the ruins
of the ancient _Antium_. Julius II, when cardinal, purchased this
statue, and placed it in his palace; but shortly after, having
arrived at the pontificate, he had it conveyed to the Belvedere of
the Vatican, where, for three centuries, it was the admiration of the
On the 16th of Brumaire, year IX, (7th of November, 1801) BONAPARTE,
as First Consul, celebrated, in great pomp, the inauguration of the
Apollo; on which occasion he placed between the plinth of the statue,
and its pedestal, a brass tablet bearing a suitable inscription.
The Apollo stands facing the entrance-door of the apartment, in an
elevated recess, decorated, as I have before observed, with beautiful
granite pillars. The flight of steps, leading to this recess, is
paved with the rarest marble, inlaid with squares of curious antique
mosaic, and on them are placed two Egyptian sphynxes of red oriental
granite, taken from the Museum of the Vatican.
142. VENUS OF THE CAPITOL.
This figure of Parian marble represents the goddess of beauty issuing
from the bath. Her charms are not concealed by any veil or garment.
She is slightly turning her head to the left, as if to smile on the
Graces, who are supposed to be preparing to attire her.
In point of execution, this is allowed to be the most beautiful of
all the statues of Venus which we have remaining. The _Venus of
Medicis_ surpasses it in sublimity of form, approaching nearer to
Bupalus, a sculptor of the Isle of Scio, is said to have produced
this master-piece. He lived 600 years before Christ, so that it has
now been in existence upwards of two thousand four hundred years. It
was found about the middle of the eighteenth century, near
_San-Vitale_, at Rome. Benedict XIV having purchased it of the
_Stati_ family, placed it in the Capitol.
125. MERCURY, _commonly called the_ ANTINOUeS OF BELVEDERE.
This statue, also of the finest Parian marble, is one of the most
beautiful that can be imagined. More robust in form than either that
of the _Apollo_ or of the _Meleager_, it loses nothing by being
contemplated after the former. In short, the harmony which reigns
between its parts is such, that the celebrated POUSSIN, in preference
to every other, always took from it the _proportions of the human
It was found at Rome, on Mount Esquiline, under the pontificate of
Paul III, who placed it in the Belvedere of the Vatican, near the
Apollo and the Laocoon.
151. _The Egyptian_ ANTINOUeS.
In this statue, Antinoues is represented as a divinity of Egypt. He is
standing in the usual attitude of the Egyptian gods, and is naked,
with the exception of his head and wrist, which are covered with a
species of drapery in imitation of the sacred garments.
This beautiful figure is wrought with superior excellence. It is of
white marble, which leads to a conjecture that it might have been
intended to represent Orus, the god of light, it having been the
custom of the Egyptians to represent all their other divinities in
coloured marble. It was discovered in 1738, at Tivoli, in the
_Villa-Adriana_, and taken from the Museum of the Capitol.
To judge from the great number of figures of Antinoues, sculptured by
order of Adrian to perpetuate the memory of that favourite, the
emperor's gratitude for him must have been unbounded. Under the form
of different divinities, or at different periods of life, there are
at present in the GALLERY OF ANTIQUES no less than five portraits of
him, besides three statues and two busts. Three other statues of
Antinoues, together with a bust, and an excellent bass-relief, in
which he is represented, yet remain to be placed.
The god of wine is here represented standing, and entirely naked. He
is leaning carelessly with his left arm on the trunk of an elm, round
which winds a grape-vine.
This statue, of the marble called at Rome _Greco duro_, is reckoned
one of the finest extant of the mirth-inspiring deity.
* * * * *
Having surveyed every object deserving of notice in the HALL OF THE
APOLLO, we proceed, on the right hand, towards its extremity, and
reach the last apartment of the gallery, which, from being
consecrated to the tuneful Nine, is called the
HALL OF THE MUSES.
It is paved with curious marble, and independently of the Muses, and
their leader, Apollo, here are also assembled the antique portraits
of poets and philosophers who have rendered themselves famous by
cultivating them. Among these we may perceive HOMER and VIRGIL; but
the most remarkable specimen of the art is
N deg. 177. EURIPIDES.
In this hermes we have a capital representation of the features of
the rival of Sophocles. The countenance is at once noble, serious,
and expressive. It bears the stamp of the genius of that celebrated
tragic poet, which was naturally sublime and profound, though
inclined to the pathetic.
This hermes is executed in Pentelic marble, and was taken from the
academy of _Mantua_.
Since the revival of the arts, the lovers of antiquity have made
repeated attempts to form a collection of antique statues of the
Muses; but none was ever so complete as that assembled in the Museum
of the Vatican by Pius VI, and which the chance of war has now
transferred to the banks of the Seine. Here the bard may offer up to
them a solemn invocation, and compose his lay, as it were, under
their very eyes.
The statues of CLIO, THALIA, TERPSICHORE, ERATO, POLYHYMNIA, and
CALLIOPE, together with the APOLLO MUSAGETES, were discovered in
1774, at _Tivoli_, among the ruins of the villa of Cassius. To
complete the number, Pius VI obtained the EUTERPE and the URANIA from
the _Lancellotti_ palace at _Veletri_. They are supposed to be
antique copies of the statues of the Nine Muses by Philiscus, which,
according to Pliny, graced the portico of Octavia.
* * * * *
The air of grandeur that reigns in the general arrangement of the
gallery is very striking: and the tasteful and judicious distribution
of this matchless assemblage of antiques does great honour to the
Council of the CENTRAL MUSEUM. Among the riches which Rome possessed,
the French commissioners also, by their choice selection, have
manifested the depth of their knowledge, and the justness of their
The alterations and embellishments made in the different apartments
of the GALLERY OF ANTIQUES have been executed under the immediate
direction of their author, M. RAYMOND, member of the National
Institute, and architect to the NATIONAL PALACE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES.
In winter, the apartments are kept warm by means of flues, which
diffuse a genial vapour. Here, without the expense of a single
_liard_, the young draughtsman may form his taste by studying the
true antique models of Grecian sculpture; the more experienced artist
may consult them as he finds occasion in the composition of his
subjects; while the connoisseur, the amateur, or the simple observer
may spend many an agreeable hour in contemplating these master-pieces
which, for centuries, have inspired universal admiration.
These are the materials on which Genius ought to work, and without
which the most promising talent may be greatly misapplied, if not
entirely lost. It was by studying closely these correct models, that
the great MICHAEL ANGELO, the, sublime RAPHAEL, and other eminent
masters, acquired that idea of excellence which is the result of the
accumulated experience of successive ages. Here, in one visit, the
student may imbibe those principles to ascertain which many artists
have consumed the best part of their days; and penetrated by their
effect, he is spared the laborious investigation by which they came
to be known and established. It is unnecessary to expatiate on the
advantages which the fine arts may expect to derive from such a
repository of antiques in a capital so centrical as Paris. The
contemplation of them cannot fail to fire the genius of any artist of
taste, and prompt his efforts towards the attainment of that grand
style, which, disdaining the minute accidental particularities of
individual objects, improves partial representation by the general
and invariable ideas of nature.
A vast collection of antiquities of every description is still
expected from Italy, among which are the _Venus of Medicis_ and the
_Pallas of Veletri_, a finely-preserved statue, classed by artists
among those of the first rank, dug up at _Veletri_ in 1799, in
consequence of the researches made there by order of the French
commissioners. Upwards of five hundred cases were lying on the banks
of the Tiber, at Rome, ready to be sent off to France, when the
Neapolitans entered that city. They carried them all away: but by the
last article of the treaty of peace with the king of Naples, the
whole of them are to be restored to the French Republic. For the
purpose of verifying their condition, and taking measures for their
conveyance to Paris, two commissioners have been dispatched to Italy:
one is the son of CHAPTAL, Minister of the Interior, and the other is
DUFOURNY, the architect. On the arrival of these cases, even after
the fifteen departmental Museums have been supplied, it is asserted
that there will yet remain in the French capital, antiquities in
sufficient number to form a museum almost from Paris to Versailles.
The CENTRAL MUSEUM OF THE ARTS is open to the public in general on
the 8th, 9th, and 10th of each decade; the other days are
appropriated to the study of young pupils; but a foreigner has only
to produce his _permis de sejour_ to gain admission _gratis_ every
day from the hour of ten o'clock to four. To the credit of the
nation, I must observe that this exception in favour of foreigners
excites no jealousy whatever.
It is no more than a justice due to the liberality of the French
republican government to add, that they set a noble example which is
worthy of being followed, not only in England, but in every other
country, where the arts and sciences are honoured, or the general
interests of mankind held in estimation. From persons visiting any
national establishment, whether museum, library, cabinet, or garden,
in this capital, no sort of fee or perquisite is now expected, or
allowed to be taken. Although it was not a public day when I paid my
first visit to the CENTRAL MUSEUM, no sooner did I shew my _permis de
sejour_, than the doors were thrown open; and from M. VISCONTI, and
other members of the Council, who happened to be present, I
experienced the most polite and obliging attention. As an Englishman,
I confess that I felt a degree of shame on reflecting to what pitiful
exaction a foreigner would be subject, who might casually visit any
public object of curiosity in our metropolis.
[Footnote 1: By a subsequent regulation, Saturday and Sunday are the
days on which the CENTRAL MUSEUM is open to public inspection.]
_Paris, October 31, 1801._
In answer to your question, I shall begin by informing you that I
have not set eyes on the _petit caporal_, as some affect to style the
Chief Consul. He spends much of his time, I am told, at _Malmaison_,
his country-seat; and seldom appears in public, except in his box at
the Opera, or at the French theatre; but at the grand monthly parade,
I shall be certain to behold him, on the 15th of the present month of
Brumaire, according to the republican calendar, which day answers to
the 6th of November. I have therefore to check my impatience for a
However, if I have not yet seen BONAPARTE himself, I have at least
seen a person who has seen him, and will take care that I shall have
an opportunity of seeing him too: this person is no less than a
general--who accompanied him in his expedition to Egypt--who was
among the chosen few that returned with him from that country--who
there surveyed the mouths of the Nile--who served under him in the
famous campaign of Syria; and who at this day is one of the first
military engineers in Europe. In a word, it is General A----y, of the
artillery, at present Director of that scientific establishment,
called the DEPOT DE LA GUERRE. He invited me the day before yesterday
to breakfast, with a view of meeting some of his friends whom he had
I am not fond of breakfasting from home; _mais il faut vivre a Rome
comme a Rome_. Between ten and eleven o'clock I reached the _Depot_,
which is situated in the _Rue de l'Universite_, _Faubourg St,
Germain_, at the _ci-devant Hotel d'Harcourt_, formerly belonging to
the duke of that name. Passing through the gate-way, I was proceeding
boldly to the principal entrance of the hotel, when a sentinel
stopped me short by charging his bayonet. "Citizen," said he
fiercely, at the same time pointing to the lodge on the right, "you
must speak to the porter." I accordingly obeyed the mandate. "What's
your business, citizen?" inquired the porter gruffly.--"My business,
citizen," replied I, "is only to breakfast with the general."--"Be so
good, citizen," rejoined he in a milder tone, "as to take the trouble
to ascend the grand stair-case, and ring the bell on the
Being introduced into the general's apartments, I there found eight
or ten persons of very intelligent aspect, seated at a round table,
loaded with all sorts of good things, but, in my mind, better
calculated for dinner than breakfast. Among a great variety of
delicacies, were beef-steaks, or, as they are here termed, _bif-ticks
a l'Anglaise_. Oysters too were not forgotten: indeed, they compose
an essential part of a French breakfast; and the ladies seem
particularly partial to them, I suppose, because they are esteemed
strengthening to a delicate constitution.
Nothing could be more pleasant than this party. Most of the guests
were distinguished literati, or military men of no ordinary stamp.
One of the latter, a _chef de brigade_ of engineers, near whom I
considered myself fortunate in being placed, spoke to me in the
highest terms of Mr. SPENCER SMITH, Sir Sidney's brother, to whose
interference at _Constantinople_, he was indebted for his release
from a Turkish prison.
Notwithstanding the continual clatter of knives and forks, and the
occasional gingle of glasses, the conversation, which suffered no
interruption, was to me extremely interesting: I never heard any men
express opinions more liberal on every subject that was started. It
was particularly gratifying to my feelings, as an Englishman, to hear
a set of French gentlemen, some of whom had participated in the sort
of disgrace attached to the raising of the siege of _St. Jean
d'Acre_, generously bestow just encomiums on my brother-officer, to
whose heroism they owed their failure. Addison, I think, says,
somewhere in the Spectator, that national prejudice is a laudable
partiality; but, however laudable it may be to indulge such a
partiality, it ought not to render us blind to the merit of
individuals of a rival nation.
General A----y, being one of those whose talents have been found too
useful to the State to be suffered to remain in inaction, was obliged
to attend at the _Conseil des Mines_ soon after twelve o'clock, when
the party separated. Just as I was taking leave, he did me the favour
to put into my hand a copy of his _Histoire du Canal du Midi_, of
which I shall say more when I have had leisure to peruse it.
I do not know that a man in good health, who takes regular exercise,
is the worse for breakfasting on a beef-steak, in the long-exploded
style of Queen Bess; but I am no advocate for all the accessories of
a French _dejeuner a la fourchette_. The strong Mocha coffee which I
swallowed, could not check the more powerful effect of the Madeira
and _creme de rose_. I therefore determined on taking a long walk,
which, when saddle-horses are not to be procured, I have always found
the best remedy for the kind of restlessness created by such a
I accordingly directed my steps across the _Pont & Place de la
Concorde_, traversed the street of the same name; and, following the
_Boulevard_ for a certain distance, struck off to the left, that is,
towards the north, in order to gain the summit of
In ancient times, there stood on this hill a temple dedicated to
Mars, whence the name _Mons Martis_, of which has been made
_Montmartre_. At the foot of it, was the _Campus Martius_, or _Champ
de Mars_, where the French kings of the first race caused their
throne to be erected every year on the first of May. They came hither
in a car, decorated with green boughs and flowers, and drawn by four
oxen. Such, indeed, was the town-equipage of king DAGOBERT.
"Quatre boeufs atteles, d'un pas tranquil et lent,
Promenaient dans Paris le monarque indolent."
Having seated themselves on the throne, they gave a public audience
to the people, at the same time giving and receiving presents, which
were called _estrennes_. Hence annual presents were afterwards termed
_etrennes_, and this gave rise to the custom of making them.
On this hill too fell the head of [Greek: Dionusios] or _St. Denis_;
and in latter times, this was the spot chosen by the Marshal DE
BROGLIE, who commanded the thirty-five thousand troops by which the
French capital was surrounded in May 1789, for checking the spirit of
the turbulent Parisians, by battering their houses' about their ears,
and burying them under the ruins.
On the summit of _Montmartre_, is a circular terrace, in the centre
of which stands a windmill, and not far from it, are several others.
Round its brow are several _maisonettes_, or little country boxes,
and also some public gardens with bowers, where lovers often regale
their mistresses. Hence you command a full view of the city of Paris.
You behold roof rising above roof; and the churches towering above
the houses have, at this distance, somewhat the appearance of lofty
chimnies. You look down on the capital as far as the Seine, by which
it is intersected: beyond that river, the surface of the land rises
again in the form of an amphitheatre. On all sides, the prospect is
bounded by eminences of various degrees of elevation, over which, as
well as over the plains, and along the banks of the river, are
scattered villas, windmills, country-seats, hamlets, villages, and
coppices; but, from want of enclosures, the circumjacent country has
not that rich and variegated aspect which delights the eye in our
English rural scenery. This was always one of my favourite walks
during my residence in Paris before the revolution; and I doubt not,
when you visit the French capital, that you will have the curiosity
to scale the heights of _Montmartre_.
As to the theatres, concerning which you interrogate me, I shall
defer entering into any particular detail of them, till I have made
myself fully acquainted with the attractions of each: this mode of
proceeding will not occasion any material delay, as I generally visit
one of them every evening, but always endeavour to go to that house
where the _best_ performers are to be seen, in their _best_
characters, and in the _best_ pieces. I mention this, in order that
you may not think me inattentive to your request, by having hitherto
omitted to point out to you the difference between the theatrical
amusements here under the monarchy, and those of the republic.
The _theatre des arts_ or grand French opera, the _opera buffa_ or
Italian comic opera, the _theatre Feydeau_ or French comic opera, and
the _theatre Francais_, chiefly engage my attention. Yesterday
evening I went to the last-mentioned theatre purposely to see
Mademoiselle CONTAT, who played in both pieces. The first was _Les
Femmes Savantes_, a comedy, in which Moliere, wishing to aim a blow
at female pedantry, has, perhaps, checked, in some French women, a
desire for improvement; the second was _La fausse Agnes_, a laughable
afterpiece. Notwithstanding the enormous _embonpoint_ which this
celebrated comic actress has acquired since I saw her last on the
Parisian stage upwards of ten years ago, she acquitted herself with
her accustomed excellence. I happened to sit next to a very warm
admirer of her superior talents, who told me that, bulky as she was
become, he had been highly gratified in seeing her perform at _Rouen_
not long since, in her favourite character of _Roxalane_, in _Les
Trois Sultanes_. "She was much applauded, no doubt." observed I.
--"Not at all," replied he, "for the crowd was so great, that in no
part of the house was it possible for a man to use his hands."
_Paris, November 2, 1801._
On reaching Paris, every person, whether Jew or Gentile, foreigner or
not, coming from any department of the republic, except that of _La
Seine_, in which the capital is situated, is now bound to make his
appearance at the _Prefecture de Police_.
The new-comer, accompanied by two housekeepers, first repairs to the
Police-office of the _arrondissement_, or district, in which he has
taken up his residence, where he delivers his travelling passport; in
lieu of which he receives a sort of certificate, and then he shews
himself at the _Prefecture de Police_, or General Police-office, at
present established in the _Cite_.
Here, his name and quality, together with a minute description of his
person and his place of abode, are inserted in a register kept for
that purpose, to which he puts his signature; and a printed paper,
commonly called a _permis de sejour_, is given to him, containing a
duplicate of all these matters, filled up in the blanks, which he
also signs himself. It is intended that he should always carry this
paper about him, in order that he may produce it when called on, or,
in case of necessity, for verifying his person, on any particular
occasion, such as passing by a guard-house on foot after eleven
o'clock at night, or being unexpectedly involved in any affray. In a
word, it answers to a stranger the same end as a _carte de surete_,
or ticket of safety, does to an inhabitant of Paris.
I accordingly went through this indispensable ceremony in due form on
my arrival here; but, having neglected to read a _nota bene_ in the
margin of the _permis de sejour_, I had not been ten hours in my new
apartments before I received a visit from an Inspector of Police of
the _arrondissement_, who, very civilly reminding me of the omission,
told me that I need not give myself the trouble of going to the
Central Police-office, as he would report my removal. However, being
determined to be strictly _en regle_, I went thither myself to cause
my new residence to be inserted in the paper.
I should not have dwelt on the circumstance, were it not to shew you
the precision observed in the administration of the police of this
Under the old _regime_, every master of a ready-furnished hotel was
obliged to keep a register, in which he inserted the name and quality
of his lodgers for the inspection of the police-officers whenever
they came: this regulation is not only strictly adhered to at
present; but every person in Paris, who receives a stranger under his
roof as an inmate, is bound, under penalty of a fine, to report him
to the police, which is most vigilantly administered by Citizen
Last night, not being in time to find good places at the _Theatre des
Arts_, or Grand French Opera, I went to the _Theatre Louvois_, which
is within a few paces of it, in hopes of being more successful. I
shall not at present attempt to describe the house, as, from my
arriving late, I was too ill accommodated to be able to view it to
However, I was well seated for seeing the performance. It consisted
of three _petites pieces_: namely, _Une heure d'absence_, _La petite
ville_, and _Le cafe d'une petite ville_. The first was entertaining;
but the second much more so; and though the third cannot claim the
merit of being well put together, I shall say a few words of it, as
it is a production _in honour of peace_, and on that score alone,
would, at this juncture, deserve notice.
After a few scenes somewhat languid, interspersed with common-place,
and speeches of no great humour, a _denouement_, by no means
interesting, promised not to compensate the audience for their
patience. But the author of the _Cafe d'une petite ville_, having
eased himself of this burden, revealed his motive, and took them on
their weak side, by making a strong appeal to French enthusiasm. This
cord being adroitly struck, his warmth became communicative, and
animating the actors, good humor did the rest. The accessories were
infinitely more interesting than the main subject. An allemande,
gracefully danced by two damsels and a hero, in the character of a
French hussar, returned home from the fatigues of war and battle, was
much applauded; and a Gascoon poet, who declares that, for once in
his life, he is resolved to speak truth, was loudly encored in the
following couplets, adapted to the well-known air of _"Gai, le coeur
a la danse."_
"Celui qui nous donne la paix,
Comme il fit bien la guerre!
Sur lui deja force conplets....
Mai il en reste a faire:
Au diable nous nous donnions,
Il revient, nous respirons....
Il fait changer la danse;
Par lui chez nous plus de discord;
Il regle la cadence,
Et nous voila d'accord."
True it is, that BONAPARTE, as principal ballet-master, has changed
the dance of the whole nation; he regulates their step to the measure
of his own music, and _discord_ is mute at the moment: but the
question is, whether the French are bona-fide _d'accord_, (as the
Gascoon affirms,) that is, perfectly reconciled to the new tune and
figure? Let us, however, keep out of this maze; were we to enter it,
we might remain bewildered there, perhaps, till old Father Time came
to extricate us.
The morning is inviting: suppose we take a turn in the _Tuileries_,
not with a view of surveying this garden, but merely to breathe the
fresh air, and examine the
PALAIS DU GOUVERNEMENT.
Since the Chief Consul has made it his town-residence, this is the
new denomination given to the _Palais des Tuileries_, thus called,
because a tile-kiln formerly stood on the site where it is erected.
At that time, this part of Paris was not comprised within its walls,
nothing was to be seen here, in the vicinity of the tile-kiln, but a
few coppices and scattered habitations.
Catherine de Medicis, wishing to enlarge the capital on this side,
visited the spot, and liking the situation, directed PHILIBERT DE
L'ORME and JEAN BULLAN, two celebrated French architects, to present
her with a plan, from which the construction of this palace was begun
in May 1564. At first, it consisted only of the large square pavilion
in the centre of the two piles of building, which have each a terrace
towards the garden, and of the two pavilions by which they are
Henry IV enlarged the original building, and, in 1600, began the
grand gallery which joins it to the _Louvre_, from the plan of DU
CERCEAU. Lewis XIII made some alterations in the palace; and in 1664,
exactly a century from the date of its construction being begun,
Lewis XIV directed LOUIS DE VEAU to finish it, by making the
additions and embellishments which have brought it to its present
state. These deviations from the first plan have destroyed the
proportions required by the strict rules of art; but this defect
would, probably, be overlooked by those who are not connoisseurs, as
the architecture, though variously blended, presents, at first sight,
an _ensemble_ which is magnificent and striking.
The whole front of the palace of the _Tuileries_ consists of five
pavilions, connected by four piles of building, standing on the same
line, and extending for the space of one thousand and eleven feet.
The first order of the three middle piles is Ionic, with encircled
columns. The two adjoining pavilions are also ornamented with Ionic
pillars; but fluted, and embellished with foliage, from the third of
their height to the summit. The second order of these two pavilions
is Corinthian. The two piles of building, which come next, as well as
the two pavilions of the wings, are of a Composite order with fluted
pillars. From a tall iron spindle, placed on the pinnacle of each of
the three principal pavilions is now seen floating a horizontal
tri-coloured streamer. Till the improvements made by Lewis XIV, the
large centre pavilion had been decorated with the Ionic and Corinthian
orders only, to these was added the Composite.
On the facade towards the _Place du Carrousel_, the pillars of all
these orders are of brown and red marble. Here may be observed the
marks of several cannon-balls, beneath each of which is inscribed, in
black, 10 AOUT.
This tenth of August 1792, a day ever memorable in the history of
France, has furnished many an able writer with the subject of an
episode; but, I believe, few of them were, any more than myself,
actors in that dreadful scene. While I was intently remarking the
particular impression of a shot which struck the edge of one of the
casements of the first floor of the palace, my _valet de place_ came
up to know at which door I would have the carriage remain in waiting.
On turning round, I fancied I beheld the man who "drew Priam's
curtain in the dead of night." That messenger, I am sure, could not
have presented a visage more pale, more spiritless than my Helvetian.
Recollecting that he had served in the Swiss guards, I was the less
at a loss to account for his extreme agitation. "In what part of the
_chateau_ were you, Jean," said I, "when these balls were aimed at
the windows?"----"There was my post," replied he, recovering himself,
and pointing to one of the centre casements.--"Is it true," continued
I, "that, by way of feigning a reconciliation, you threw down
cartridges by handfuls to the Marseillese below, and called out;
_vive la nation?"_----"It is but too true," answered Jean; "we then
availed ourselves of the moment when they advanced under the
persuasion that they were to become our friends, and opened on them a
tremendous fire, by which we covered the place with dead and dying.
But we became victims of our own treachery: for our ammunition being,
by this _ruse de guerre_, the sooner expended, we presently had no
resource left but the bayonet, by which we could not prevent the mob
from closing on us."--"And how did you contrive to escape," said I?
--"Having thrown away my Swiss uniform," replied he, "in the general
confusion, I fortunately possessed myself of the coat of a national
volunteer, which he had taken off on account of the hot weather. This
garment, bespattered with blood, I instantly put on, as well as his
hat with a tri-coloured cockade."--"This disguise saved your life,"
interrupted I.--"Yes, indeed;" rejoined he. "Having got down to the
vestibule, I could not find a passage into the garden; and, to
prevent suspicion, I at once mixed with the mob on the place where we
are now standing."--"How did you get off at last," said I?--"I was
obliged," answered he, "to shout and swear with the _poissardes_,
while the heads of many of my comrades were thrown out of the
windows."--"The _poissardes_," added I, "set no bounds to their
cruelty?"--"No," replied he, "I expected every moment to feel its
effects; my disguise alone favoured my escape: on the dead bodies of
my countrymen they practised every species of mutilation." Here Jean
drew a picture of a nature too horrid to be committed to paper. My
pen could not trace it.----In a word, nothing could exceed the
ferocity of the infuriate populace; and the sacking of the palace of
the Trojan king presents but a faint image of what passed here on the
day which overset the throne of the Bourbons.
According to a calculation, founded as well on the reports of the
police as on the returns of the military corps, it appears that the
number of men killed in the attack of the palace of the _Tuileries_
on the 10th of August 1792, amounted in the whole to very near six
thousand, of whom eight hundred and fifty-two were on the side of the
besieged, and three thousand seven hundred and forty on the side of
The interior of this palace is not distinguished by any particular
style of architecture, the kings who have resided here having made
such frequent alterations, that the distribution throughout is very
different from that which was at first intended. Here it was that
Catherine de Medicis shut herself up with the Guises, the Gondis, and
Birague, the chancellor, in order to plan the horrible massacre of
that portion of the French nation whose religious tenets trenched on
papal power, and whose spirit of independence alarmed regal jealousy.
Among the series of entertainments, given on the marriage of the king
of Navarre with Marguerite de Valois, was introduced a ballet, in
which the papists, commanded by Charles IX and his brothers, defended
paradise against the huguenots, who, with Navarre at their head, were
all repulsed and driven into hell. Although this pantomime, solely
invented by Catherine, was evidently meant as a prelude to the
dreadful proscription which awaited the protestants, they had no
suspicion of it; and four days after, was consummated the massacre,
where that monster to whom nature had given the form of a woman,
feasted her eyes on the mangled corpses of thousands of bleeding
No sooner was the Pope informed of the horrors of St. Bartholemew's
day; by the receipt of Admiral de Coligny's head which Catherine
embalmed and sent to him, than he ordered a solemn procession, by way
of returning thanks to heaven for the _happy event_. The account of
this procession so exasperated a gentlemen of Anjou, a protestant of
the name of Bressaut de la Rouvraye, that he swore he would make
eunuchs of all the monks who should fall into his hands; and he
rendered himself famous by keeping his word, and wearing the trophies
of his victory.
The _Louvre_ and the palace of the _Tuileries_ were alternately the
residence of the kings of France, till Lewis XIV built that of
Versailles, after which it was deserted till the minority of Lewis
XV, who, when a little boy, was visited here by Peter the Great, but,
in 1722, the court quitted Paris altogether for Versailles, where it
continued fixed till the 5th of October 1789.
During this long interval, the palace was left under the direction of
a governor, and inhabited only by himself, and persons of various
ranks dependent on the bounty of the crown. When Lewis XVI and his
family were brought hither at that period, the two wings alone were
in proper order; the remainder consisted of spacious apartments
appointed for the king's reception when he came occasionally to
Paris, and ornamented with stately, old-fashioned furniture, which
had not been deranged for years. The first night of their arrival,
they slept in temporary beds, and on the king being solicited the
next day to choose his apartments, he replied: "Let everyone shift
for himself; for my part, I am very well where I am." But this fit of
ill-humor being over, the king and queen visited every part of the
palace, assigning particular rooms to each person of their suite, and
giving directions for sundry repairs and alterations.
Versailles was unfurnished, and the vast quantity of furniture
collected in that palace, during three successive reigns, was
transported to the _Tuileries_ for their majesties' accommodation.
The king chose for himself three rooms on the ground-floor, on the
side of the gallery to the right as you enter the vestibule from the
garden; on the entresol, he established his geographical study; and
on the first floor, his bed-chamber: the apartments of the queen and
royal family were adjoining to those of the king; and the attendants
were distributed over the palace to the number of between six and
seven hundred persons.
The greater part of the furniture, &c. in the palace of the
_Tuileries_ was sold in the spring of 1793. The sale lasted six
months, and, had it not been stopped, would have continued six months
longer. Some of the king's dress-suits which had cost twelve hundred
louis fetched no more than five. By the inventory taken immediately
after the 10th of August 1792, and laid before the Legislative
Assembly, it appears that the moveables of every description
contained in this palace were valued at 12,540,158 livres (_circa_
L522,560 sterling,) in which was included the amount of the thefts,
committed on that day, estimated at 1,000,000 livres, and that of the
dilapidations, at the like sum, making together about L84,000
When Catherine de Medicis inhabited the palace of the _Tuileries_, it
was connected to the _Louvre_ by a garden, in the middle of which was
a large pond, always well stocked with fish for the supply of the
royal table. Lewis XIV transformed this garden into a spacious square
or _place_, where in the year 1662, he gave to the queen dowager and
his royal consort a magnificent fete, at which, were assembled
princes, lords, and knights, with their ladies, from every part of
Europe. Hence the square was named
PLACE DU CARROUSEL.
Previously to the revolution, the palace of the _Tuileries_, on this
side, was defended by a wall, pierced by three gates opening into as
many courts, separated by little buildings, which, in part, served
for lodging a few troops and their horses. All these buildings are
taken down; the _Place du Carrousel_ is considerably enlarged by the
demolition of various circumjacent edifices; and the wall is replaced
by a handsome iron railing, fixed on a parapet about four feet high.
In this railing are three gates, the centre one of which is
surmounted by cocks, holding in their beak a civic crown over the
letters R. F. the initials of the words _Republique Francaise_. On
each side of it are small lodges, built of stone; and at the entrance
are constantly posted two _vedettes_, belonging to the
horse-grenadiers of the consular guard.
On the piers of the other two gates are placed the four famous horses
of gilt bronze, brought from St. Mark's place at Venice, whither they
had been carried after the capture of Byzantium. These productions
are generally ascribed to the celebrated Lysippus, who flourished in
the reign of Alexander the Great, about 325 years before the
christian era; though this opinion is questioned by some distguished
antiquaries and artists. Whoever may be the sculptor, their destiny
is of a nature to fix attention, as their removal has always been the
consequence of a political revolution. After, the conquest of Greece
by the Romans, they were transported from Corinth to Rome, for the
purpose of adorning the triumphal arch of Septimius Severus. Hence
they were removed to Byzantium, when that city became the seat of the
eastern empire. From Byzantium, they were conveyed to Venice, and
from Venice they have at last reached Paris.
As on the plain of Pharsalia the fate of Rome was decided by Caesar's
triumph over Pompey, so on the _Place du Carrousel_ the fate of
France by the triumph of the Convention over Robespierre and his
satellites. Here, Henriot, one of his most devoted creatures, whom he
had raised to the situation of commandant general of the Parisian
guard, after having been carried prisoner before the Committee of
Public Safety, then sitting in the palace of the _Tuileries_, was
released by Coffinhal, the President of the Revolutionary Tribunal,
who suddenly made his appearance at the head of a large body of horse
and foot, supported by four pieces of cannon served by gunners the
most devoted to Robespierre.
It was half past seven o'clock in the evening, where Coffinhal,
decorated with his municipal scarf, presented himself before the
Committee: all the members thought themselves lost, and their fright
communicating to the very bosom of the Convention, there spread
confusion and terror. But Coffinhal's presence of mind was not equal
to his courage: he availed himself only in part of his advantage.
After having, without the slightest resistance, disarmed the guards
attached to the Convention, he loosened the fettered hands of Henriot
and his aides-de-camp, and conducted them straight to the _Maison
It is an incontestable fact that had either Coffinhal or Henriot
imitated the conduct of Cromwell in regard to the Levellers, and
marched at the head of their troops into the hall of the Convention,
he might have carried all before him, and Robespierre's tyranny would
have been henceforth established on a basis not to be shaken.
But, when Henriot soon after appeared on the _Place du Carrousel_,
with his staff and a number of followers, he in vain endeavoured by
haranguing the people to stir them up to act against the Convention;
his voice was drowned in tumultuous clamours, and he was deserted by
his hitherto-faithful gunners. The Convention had had time to recover
from their panic, and to enlighten the Sections. Henriot was outlawed
by that assembly, and, totally disconcerted by this news, he fled for
refuge to the _Maison Commune_, where Robespierre and all his
accomplices were soon surrounded, and fell into the hands of those
whom but an instant before, they had proscribed as conspirators
deserving of the most exemplary punishment.
Henriot, confused and terrified, sought his safety in flight, and was
stealing along one of the galleries of the _Maison Commune_ when he
met Coffinhal, who was also flying. At the sight of Henriot, who on
coming from the Committee, had pledged his life on the success of his
measures, Coffinhal was unable to check his rage. "Coward!" said he
to him, "to this then has led your certain means of defence!
Scoundrel! you shall not escape the death you are endeavouring to
avoid!" Saying these words, he seized Henriot by the middle, and
threw him out of a window of the second story of the _Maison
Commune_. Henriot falling on the roof of a building in a narrow
street adjoining, was not killed; but he had scarcely recovered
himself before he was recognized by some soldiers in quest of him: he
then crawled into a sewer, close to the spot where he had fallen;
when a soldier thrusting his bayonet into the sewer, put out one of
his eyes, and forced him to surrender.
Thus, the destiny of France, as is seen, hung by the thread of the
moment. It will be recollected that Henriot had the arsenal at his
disposal; he commanded the Parisian guard, and six thousand men
encamped on the _Plaine des Sablons_, close to the capital: in a
word, all the springs of the public force were in his hands. Had he
seized the critical minute, and attacked the Convention at the
instant of his release, the scene of the 10th of August would have
been renewed, and the _Place du Carrousel_ again stained with the
blood of thousands.
_Paris, November 5, 1801._
I rise much later to-day than usual, in consequence of not having
gone to bed till near seven o'clock this morning. Happening to call
yesterday on a French lady of my acquaintance, I perceived some
preparations which announced that she expected company. She did not
leave me long in suspense, but invited me to her party for that
This good lady, who is no longer in the flower of her age, was still
in bed, though it was four o'clock when I paid my visit. On
expressing my fears that she was indisposed, she assured me of the
contrary, at the same time adding that she seldom rose till five in
the afternoon, on account of her being under the necessity of keeping
late hours. I was so struck by the expression, that I did not
hesitate to ask her what was the _necessity_ which compelled her to
make a practice of turning day into night? She very courteously gave
me a complete solution of this enigma, of which the following is the
"During the reign of terror," said she, "several of us _ci-devant
noblesse_ lost our nearest relatives, and with them our property,
which was either confiscated, or put under sequestration, so that we
were absolutely threatened by famine. When the prisoners were
massacred in September 1792, I left nothing unattempted to save the
life of my uncle and grandfather, who were both in confinement in the
_Abbaye_. All my efforts were unavailing. My interference served only
to exasperate their murderers and contributed, I fear, to accelerate
their death, which it was my misfortune to witness. Their inhuman
butchers, from whom I had patiently borne every species of insult,
went so far as to present to me, on the end of a pike, a human heart,
which had the appearance of having been broiled on the embers,
assuring me that, as it was the heart of my uncle, I might eat it
with safety."--Here an ejaculation, involuntarily escaping me,
interrupted her for a moment.
"For my part," continued she, "I was so overwhelmed by a conflict of
rage, despair, and grief, that I scarcely retained the use of my
senses. The excess of my horror deprived me of utterance.--What
little I was able to save from the wreck of my fortune, not affording
me sufficient means of subsistence, I was, however reluctantly, at
length compelled to adopt a plan of life, by which I saw other women,
in my forlorn situation, support a decent appearance. I therefore
hired suitable apartments, and twice in each decade, I receive
company. On one of these two nights I give a ball and supper, and on
the other, under the name of _societe_, I have cards only.
"Having a numerous circle of female acquaintance," concluded she, "my
balls are generally well attended: those who are not fond of dancing,
play at the _bouillotte_; and the card-money defrays the expenses of
the entertainment, leaving me a handsome profit. In short, these six
parties, during the month, enable me to pay my rent, and produce me a
This meloncholy recital affected me so much, that, on its being
terminated, I was unable to speak; but I have reason to think that a
favourable construction was put on my silence. A volume, of the size
of a family bible, would not be sufficient to display half the
contrasts engendered by the revolution. Many a _Marquise_ has been
obliged to turn sempstress, in order to gain a livelihood; but my
friend the _Comtesse_ had much ready wit, though no talents of that
description. Having soothed her mind by venting a few imprecations
against the murderers of her departed relatives, she informed me that
her company began to assemble between the hours of eleven and twelve,
and begged that I would not fail to come to her
About twelve o'clock, I accordingly went thither, as I had promised,
when I found the rooms perfectly crowded. Among a number of very
agreeable ladies, several were to be distinguished for the elegance
of their figure, though there were no more than three remarkable for
beauty. These terrestrial divinities would not only have embarrassed
the Grand Signior for a preference, but even have distracted the
choice of the Idalian shepherd himself. The dancing was already begun
to an excellent band of music, led by Citizen JULIEN, a mulatto,
esteemed the first player of country-dances in Paris. Of the dancers,
some of the women really astonished me by the ease and gracefulness
of their movements: steps, which are known to be the most difficult,
seemed to cost them not the smallest exertion. Famous as they have
ever been for dancing, they seem now, in Cibber's words, "to outdo
their usual outdoings."
In former times, an extraordinary degree of curiosity was excited by
any female who excelled in this pleasing accomplishment. I remember
to have read that Don Juan of Austria, governor of the Low Countries,
set out post from Brussels, and came to Paris _incog._ on purpose to
see Marguerite de Valois dance at a dress-ball, this princess being
reckoned, at that time, the best dancer in Europe. What then would be
the admiration of such an _amateur_, could he now behold the
perfection attained here by some of the beauties of the present day?
The men, doubtless, determined to vie with the women, seemed to pride
themselves more on agility than grace, and, by attempting whatever
required extraordinary effort, reminded me of _figurans_ on the
stage, so much have the Parisian youth adopted a truly theatrical
style of dancing.
The French country-dances (or cotilions, as we term them in England)
and waltzes, which are as much in vogue here as in Germany, were
regularly interchanged. However, the Parisians, in my opinion, cannot
come up to the Germans in this, their native dance. I should have
wished to have had Lavater by my side, and heard his opinion of the
characters of the different female waltzers. It is a very curious and
interesting spectacle to see one woman assume a languishing air,
another a vacant smile, a third an aspect of stoical indifference;
while a fourth seems lost in a voluptuous trance, a fifth captivates
by an amiable modesty, a sixth affects the cold insensibility of a
statue, and so on in ever-varying succession, though all turning to
the animating changes of the same lively waltz. In short I observed
that, in this species of dance, the eyes and feet of almost every
woman appeared to be constantly at variance.
Without assuming the part of a moralist, I cannot help thinking that
Werter was not altogether in the wrong when he swore, that, were it
to cost him his life, no woman on whom he had set his affections,
should ever waltz with any one but himself. I am not singular in this
opinion; for I recollect to have met with the same ideas in a book
written by M. JACOBI, I think, a German author.
Speaking of the waltz, "We either ought," says he, "not to boast so
much of the propriety of our manners, or else not suffer that our
wives and daughters, in a complete delirium, softly pressed in the
arms of men, bosom to bosom, should thus be hurried away by the sound
of intoxicating music. In this _whirligig_ dance, every one seems to
forget the rules of decorum; and though an innocent, young creature,
exposed in this manner, were to remain pure and spotless, can she,
without horror, reflect that she becomes, the sport of the
imagination of the licentious youths to whom she so abandons herself?
It were to be wished," adds he, "that our damsels (I mean those who
preserve any vestige of bashfulness), might, concealed in a private
corner, hear sometimes the conversation of those very men to whom
they yield themselves with so little reserve and caution."
To the best of my recollection, these are the sentiments of M.
JACOBI, expressed twelve or fourteen years ago; yet I do not find
that the waltz is discontinued, or even less practised, in Germany,
than it was at the time when his work first appeared. This dance,
like every other French fashion, has now found its way into England,
and is introduced between the acts, by way of interlude I presume, at
some of our grand private balls and assemblies. But, however I may be
amused by the waltzing of the Parisian belles, I feel too much regard
for my fair country-women to wish to see them adopt a dance, which,
by throwing them off their guard, lays them completely open to the
shafts of ridicule and malice.
Leaving this point to be settled by the worthy part of our British
matrons, let us return to the Parisian ball, from which I have been
led into a little digression.
The dancing continued in this manner, that is, French country-dances
and waltzes alternately, till four o'clock, when soup was brought
round to all the company. This was dispatched _sans facon_, as fast
as it could be procured. It was a prelude to the cold supper, which
was presently served in another spacious apartment. No sooner were
the folding-doors of an adjoining room thrown open, than I observed
that, large as it was, it could not possibly afford accommodation to
more than half of the number present. I therefore remained in the
back-ground, naturally supposing that places would first be provided
for all the women. Not so, my friend; several men seated themselves,
and, in the twinkling of an eye, deranged the economy of the whole
table; while the female bystanders were necessitated to seek seats at
some temporary tables placed in the ballroom. Here too were they in
luck if they obtained a few fragments from the grand board; for, such
determined voracity was there exhibited, that so many vultures or
cormorants could not have been more expeditious in clearing the
For instance, an enormous salmon, which would have done honour to the
Tweed or the Severn, graced the middle of the principal table. In
less than five minutes after the company were seated, I turned round,
and missing the fish, inquired whether it had proved tainted. No: but
it is all devoured, was the reply of a young man, who, pointing to
the bone, offered me a pear and a piece of bread, which he shrewdly
observed was all that I might probably get to recruit my strength at
this entertainment. I took the hint, and, with the addition of a
glass of common wine, at once made my supper.
In half an hour, the tables being removed, the ball was resumed, and
apparently with renewed spirit. The card-room had never been
deserted. _Mind the main chance_ is a wholesome maxim, which the good
lady of the house seemed not to have forgotten. Assisted by a sort of
_croupier_, she did the honours of the _bouillotte_ with that
admirable sang-froid which you and I have often witnessed in some of
our hostesses of fashion; and, had she not communicated to me the
secret, I should have been the last to suspect, while she appeared so
indifferent, that she, like those ladies, had so great an interest in
the card-party being continued till morning.
As an old acquaintance, she took an opportunity of saying to, me,
with joy in her eyes: "_Le jeu va bien_;" but, at the same time,
expressed her regret that the supper was such a scramble. While we
were in conversation, I inquired the name and character of the most
striking women in the room, and found that, though a few of them
might be reckoned substantial in fortune, as well as in reputation,
the female part of the company was chiefly composed of ladies who,
like herself, had suffered by the revolution; several were divorced
from their husbands, but as incompatibility of temper was the general
plea for such a disunion, that alone could not operate as a blemish.
To judge of the political predilection of these belles from their
exterior, a stranger would, nine times out of ten, be led into a
palpable error. He might naturally conclude them to be attached to a
republican system, since they have, in general, adopted the Athenian
form of attire as their model; though they have not, in the smallest
degree, adopted the simple manners of that people. Their arms are
bare almost to the very shoulder; their bosom is, in a great measure,
uncovered; their ankles are encircled by narrow ribbands in imitation
of the fastenings of sandals; and their hair, turned up close behind,
is confined on the crown of the head in a large knot, as we see it in
the antique busts of Grecian beauties.
The rest of their dress is more calculated to display, than to veil
the contours of their person. It was thus explained to me by my
friend, the _ci-devant Comtesse_, who at the same time assured me
that young French women, clad in this airy manner, brave all the
rigour of winter. "A simple piece of linen, slightly laced before,"
said she, "while it leaves the waist uncompressed, answers the
purpose of a corset. If they put on a robe, which is not open in
front, they dispense with petticoats altogether; their cambric
_chemise_ having the semblance of one, from its skirt being trimmed
with lace. When attired for a ball, those who dance, as you may
observe, commonly put on a tunic, and then a petticoat becomes a
matter of necessity, rather than of choice. Pockets being deemed an
incumbrance, they wear none: what money they carry, is contained in a
little morocco leather purse; this is concealed in the centre of the
bosom, whose form, in our well-shaped women, being that of the
Medicean Venus, the receptacle occasionally serves for a little gold
watch, or some other trinket, which is suspended to the neck by a
collar of hair, decorated with various ornaments. When they dance,
the fan is introduced within the zone or girdle; and the handkerchief
is kept in the pocket of some sedulous swain, to whom the fair one
has recourse when she has occasion for it. Some of the elderly
ladies, like myself," added she, "carry these appendages in a sort of
work-bag, denominated a _ridicule_. Not long since, this was the
universal fashion first adopted as a substitute for pockets; but, at
present, it is totally laid aside by the younger classes."
The men at this ball, were, for the most part, of the military class,
thinly interspersed with returned emigrants. Some of the generals and
colonels were in their hussar dress-uniform, which is not only
exceedingly becoming to a well-formed man, but also extremely
splendid and costly. All the seams of the jacket and pantaloons of
the generals are covered with rich and tasteful embroidery, as well
as their sabre-tash, and those of the colonels with gold or silver
lace: a few even wore boots of red morocco leather.
Most of the Gallic youths, having served in the armies, either a few
years ago under the requisition, or more recently under the
conscription, have acquired a martial air, which is very discernible,
in spite of their _habit bourgeois_. The brown coat cannot disguise
the soldier. I have met with several young merchants of the first
respectability in Paris, who had served, some two, others four years
in the ranks, and constantly refused every sort of advancement. Not
wishing to remain in the army, and relinquish the mercantile
profession in which they had been educated, they cheerfully passed
through their military servitude as privates, and, in that station,
like true soldiers, gallantly fought their country's battles.
The hour of six being arrived, I was assailed, on all sides, by
applications to set down this or that lady, as the morning was very
rainy, and, independently of the long rank of hackney-coaches, which
had been drawn up at the door, every vehicle that could be procured,
had long been in requisition. The mistress of the house had informed
two of her particular female friends that I had a carriage in
waiting; and as I could accommodate only a certain number at a time,
after having consented to take those ladies home first; I conceived
myself at liberty, on my return, to select the rest of my convoy. To
relieve beauty in distress was one of the first laws of ancient
chivalry; and no knight ever accomplished that vow with greater
ardour than I did on this occasion.
_Paris, November 7, 1801._
My impatience is at length gratified. I have seen BONAPARTE.
Yesterday, the 6th, as I mentioned in a former letter, was the day of
the grand parade, which now takes place on the fifteenth only of
every month of the Republican Calendar. The spot where this military
spectacle is exhibited, is the court-yard of the palace of the
_Tuileries_, which, as I have before observed, is enclosed by a low
parapet wall, surmounted by a handsome iron railing.
From the kind attention of friend, I had the option of being admitted
into the palace, or introduced into the hotel of Cn. MARET, the
Secretary of State, which adjoins to the palace, and standing at
right angles with it, commands a full view of the court where the
troops are assembled. In the former place, I was told, I should not,
on account of the crowd, have an opportunity to see the parade,
unless I took my station at a window two or three hours before it
began; while from the latter, I should enjoy the sight without any
annoyance or interruption.
Considering that an interval of a month, by producing a material
change in the weather, might render the parade far less brilliant and
attractive, and also that such an offer might not occur a second
time, I made no hesitation in preferring Cn. MARET'S hotel.
Accompanied by my introducer, I repaired thither about half past
eleven o'clock, and certainly I had every reason to congratulate
myself on my election. I was ushered into a handsome room on the
first-floor, where I found the windows partly occupied by some lovely
women. Having paid my devoirs to the ladies, I entered into
conversation with an officer of rank of my acquaintance, who had
introduced me to them; and from him I gathered the following
particulars respecting the
GRAND MONTHLY PARADE.
On the fifteenth of every month, the First Consul in person reviews
all the troops of the consular guard, as well as those quartered in
Paris, as a garrison, or those which may happen to be passing through
The consular guard is composed of two battalions of foot-grenadiers,
two battalions of light infantry, a regiment of horse-grenadiers, a
regiment of mounted chasseurs or guides, and two companies of flying
artillery. All this force may comprise between six and seven thousand
men; but it is in contemplation to increase it by a squadron of
Mamaluks, intermixed with Greeks and Syrians, mounted on Arabian
This guard exclusively does duty at the palace of the _Tuileries_,
and at _Malmaison_, BONAPARTE's country-seat: it also forms the
military escort of the Consuls. At present it is commanded by General
LASNES; but, according to rumour, another arrangement is on the point
of being made. The consular guard is soon to have no other chief than
the First Consul, and under him are to command, alternately, four
generals; namely, one of infantry, one of cavalry, one of artillery,
and one of engineers; the selection is said to have fallen on the
following officers, BESSIERES, DAVOUST, SOULT, and SONGIS.
The garrison (as it is termed) of Paris is not constantly of the same
strength. At this moment it consists of three demi-brigades of the
line, a demi-brigade of light infantry, a regiment of dragoons, two
demi-brigades of veterans, the horse _gendarmerie_, and a new corps
of choice _gendarmerie_, comprising both horse and foot, and