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Paris As It Was and As It Is by Francis W. Blagdon

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since the Tribunate have here established their sittings, it has
obtained its present appellation of _Palais du Tribunat_.

In the sequel, Lewis XIV granted to Monsieur, his only brother,
married to Henrietta Stuart, daughter of Charles I, the enjoyment of
the _Palais Royal_, and afterwards vested the property of it in his
grandson, the Duke of Chartres.

That prince, become Duke of Orleans, and regent of France, during the
minority of Lewis XV, resided in this palace, and (to use Voltaire's
expression) hence gave the signal of voluptuousness to the whole
kingdom. Here too, he ruled it with principles the most daring;
holding men, in general, in great contempt, and conceiving them to be
all as insidious, as servile, and as covetous as those by whom he was
surrounded. With the superiority of his character, he made a sport of
governing this mass of individuals, as if the task was unworthy of
his genius. The fact is illustrated by the following anecdote.

At the commencement of his regency, the debts of the State were
immense, and the finances exhausted: such great evils required
extraordinary remedies; he wished to persuade the people that
paper-money was better than specie. Thousands became the dupes
of their avarice, and too soon awoke from their dream only to curse
the authors of a project which ended in their total ruin. It is almost
needless to mention that I here allude to the Mississippi bubble.

In circumstances so critical, the Parliament of Paris thought it
their duty to make remonstrances. They accordingly sent deputies to
the regent, who was persuaded that they wished to stir up the
Parisians against him. After having listened to their harangue with
much phelgm, he gave them his answer in four words: "Go and be
d----n'd." The deputy, who had addressed him, nothing disconcerted,
instantly replied: "Sir, it is the custom of the Parliament to enter
in their registers the answers which they receive from the throne:
shall they insert this?"

The principles of the regent's administration, which succeeded those
of Lewis XIV, form in history, a very striking shade. The French
nation, which, plastic as wax, yields to every impression, was
new-modelled in a single instant. As a rotten speck, by spreading,
contaminates the finest fruit, so was the _Palais Royal_ the corrupt
spot, whence the contagion of debauchery was propagated, even to the
remotest parts of the kingdom.

This period, infinitely curious and interesting, paved the way to the
present manners. If the basis of morality be at this day overthrown
in France, the regency of Philip of Orleans, by completing what the
dissolute court of Lewis XIV had begun, has occasioned that rapid
change, whose influence was felt long before the revolution, and
will, in all probability, last for ages. At least, I think that such
a conclusion is exemplified by what has occurred in England since the
profligate reign of Charles II, the effects of whose example have
never been done away.

Different circumstances have produced considerable alterations in
this palace, so that, at the present day, its numerous buildings
preserve of the first architect, LE MERCIER, no more than a small
part of the second court.

The principal entrance of the _Palais du Tribunat_ is from the _Rue
St. Honore_. The facade, on this side, which was constructed in 1763,
consists of two pavilions, ornamented by Doric and Ionic pillars, and
connected by a lofty stone-wall, perforated with arches, to three
grand gates, by which you enter the first court. Here, two elegant
wings present themselves, decorated with pilasters, also of the Doric
and Ionic orders, which are likewise employed for the pillars of the
avant-corps in the centre. This avant-corps is pierced with three
arches, which serve as a passage into the second court, and
correspond with the three gates before-mentioned.

Having reached the vestibule, between the two courts, where large
Doric pillars rise, though partly concealed by a number of little
shops and stalls, you see, on the right, the handsome elliptical
stair-case, which leads to the apartments. It branches off into two
divisions at the third step, and is lighted by a lofty dome. The
balustrade of polished iron is beautiful, and is said to have cost
thirty-two workmen two years' labour. Before the revolution,
strangers repaired hither to admire the cabinet of gems and engraved
stones, the cabinet of natural history, the collection of models of
arts, trades, and manufactures, and the famous collection of
pictures, belonging to the _last_ duke of Orleans, and chiefly
assembled, at a vast expense, by his grandfather, the regent.

This second court is larger than the first; but it still remains in
an incomplete state. The right-hand wing only is finished, and is
merely a continuation of that which we have seen in the other court.
On the left hand, is the site of the new hall intended for the
sittings of the Tribunate. Workmen are now employed in its
construction; heaps of stones and mortar are lying about, and, the
building seems to proceed with tolerable expedition. Here, in the
back-ground, is a crowd of little stalls for the sale of various
articles, such as prints, plays, fruit, and pastry. In front stand
such carriages as remain in waiting for those who may have been set
down at this end of the palace. Proceeding onward, you pass through
two parallel wooden galleries, lined on each side with shops, and
enter the formerly-enchanting regions of the


The old garden of the _Palais Royal_, long famous for its shady
walks, and for being the most fashionable public promenade in Paris,
had, from its centrical situation, gradually attracted to its
vicinity a considerable number of speculators, who there opened
ready-furnished hotels, coffee-houses, and shops of various
descriptions. The success of these different establishments awakened
the cupidity of its wealthy proprietor, then Duke, of Chartres, who,
conceiving that the ground might be made to yield a capital
augmentation to his income, fixed on a plan for enclosing it by a
magnificent range of buildings.

Notwithstanding the clamours of the Parisian public, who, from long
habit, considered that they had a sort of prescriptive right to this
favourite promenade, the axe was laid to the celebrated _arbre de
Cracovie_ and other venerable trees, and their stately heads were
soon levelled to the ground. Every one murmured as if these trees had
been his own private property, and cut down against his will and
pleasure. This will not appear extraordinary, when it is considered
that, under their wide-spreading branches, which afforded a shelter
impervious to the sun and rain, politicians by day, adjusted the
balance of power, and arbiters of taste discussed the fashions of the
moment; while, by night, they presented a canopy, beneath which were
often arranged the clandestine bargains of opera-girls and other
votaries of Venus.

After venting their spleen in vague conjectures, witty epigrams, and
lampoons, the Parisians were silent. They presently found that they
were, in general, not likely to be losers by this devastation. In
1782, the execution of the new plan was begun: in less than three
years, the present inclosure was nearly completed, and the modern
garden thrown open to the public, uniting to the advantages of the
ancient one, a thousand others more refined and concentrated.

The form of this garden is a parallelogram, whose length is seven
hundred and two feet by three hundred in breadth, taken at its
greatest dimensions. It is bordered, on three of its sides, by new,
uniform buildings, of light and elegant architecture. Rising to an
elevation of forty-two feet, these buildings present two regular
stories, exclusively of the _mansarde_, or attic story, decorated by
festoons, bas-reliefs, and large Composite fluted pillars, bearing an
entablature in whose frieze windows are pierced. Throughout its
extent, the whole edifice is crowned by a balustrade, on the
pedestals of which vases are placed at equal distances.

In the middle of the garden stood a most singular building, partly
subterraneous, called a _Cirque_. This circus, which was first opened
in 1789, with concerts, balls, &c. was also appropriated to more
useful objects, and, in 1792, a _Lyceum of Arts_ was here
established; but in 1797, it was consumed by fire, and its site is
now occupied by a grass-plot. On the two long sides of the garden are
planted three rows of horse-chesnut trees, not yet of sufficient
growth to afford any shade; and what is new, is a few shrubs and
flowers in inclosed compartments. The walks are of gravel, and kept
in good order.

On the ground-floor, a covered gallery runs entirely round the
garden. The shops, &c. on this floor, as well as the apartments of
the _entresol_ above them, receive light by one hundred and eighty
porticoes, which are open towards the garden, and used to have each a
glass lantern, with reflectors, suspended in the middle of their
arch. In lieu of these, some of a less brilliant description are now
distributed on a more economical plan under the piazzas; but, at the
close of day, the rivalship of the shopkeepers, in displaying their
various commodities, creates a blaze of light which would strike a
stranger as the effect of an illumination.

The fourth side of the garden towards the _Rue St. Honore_ is still
occupied by a double gallery, constructed, as I have already
mentioned, of wood, which has subsisted nearly in its present state
ever since I first visited Paris in 1784. It was to have been
replaced by a colonnade for the inclosure of the two courts. This
colonnade was to have consisted of six rows of Doric pillars,
supporting a spacious picture-gallery, (intended for the whole of the
Orleans collection), which was to have constituted the fourth facade
to the garden, and have formed a covered walk, communicating with the
galleries of the other three sides.

These galleries, whose whole circumference measures upwards of a
third of a mile, afford to the public, even in bad weather, a walk
equally agreeable and convenient, embellished, on the one side, by
the aspect of the garden, and, on the other, by the studied display
of every thing that taste and fashion can invent to captivate the
attention of passengers.

No place in Paris, however, exhibits such a contrast to its former
attractions as this once-fashionable rendezvous. The change of its
name from _Palais Royal_ to _Maison Egalite_ conveys not to the
imagination a dissimilitude more glaring than is observable between
the present frequenters of this favourite promenade, and those who
were in the habit of flocking hither before the revolution.

At that period, the scene was enlivened by the most brilliant and
most captivating company in the capital, both in point of exterior
and manners. At this day, the medal is exactly reversed. In lieu of
well-dressed or well-behaved persons of both sexes, this garden,
including its purlieus, presents, morning and evening, nothing but
hordes of stock-jobbers, money-brokers, gamblers, and adventurers of
every description. The females who frequent it, correspond nearly to
the character of the men; they are, for the greater part, of the most
debauched and abandoned class: for a Lais of _bon ton_ seldom
ventures to shew herself among this medley of miscreants.

In the crowd, may be occasionally remarked a few strangers attracted
by curiosity, and other individuals of respectable appearance called
hither on business, as well as some inoffensive newsmongers,
resorting to the coffee-houses to read the papers. But, in general,
the great majority, of the company, now seen here, is of a cast so
extremely low, that no decent woman, whether married or single,
thinks of appearing in a place where she would run a risk of being
put out of countenance in passing alone, even in the daytime. In the
evening, the company is of a still worse complexion; and the
concourse becomes so great under the piazzas, particularly when the
inclemency of the weather drives people out of the garden, that it is
sometimes difficult to cross through the motley assemblage. At the
conclusion of the performances in the neighbouring theatres, there is
a vast accession of the inferior order of nymphs of the Cyprian
corps; and then, amorous conversation and dalliance reach the summit
of licentious freedom.

The greater part of the political commotions which have, at different
times, convulsed Paris, took their rise in the _ci-devant Palais
Royal_, or it has, in some shape, been their theatre. In this palace
too originated the dreadful reverse of fortune which the queen
experienced; and, indeed, when the cart in which her majesty was
carried to the scaffold, passed before the gates of this edifice, she
was unable to repress a sign of indignation.

All writers who have spoken of the inveterate hatred, which existed
between the queen and M. d'Orleans, have ascribed it to despised
love, whose pangs, as Shakspeare tells, us, are not patiently
endured. Some insist that the duke, enamoured of the charms of the
queen, hazarded a declaration, which her majesty not only received
with disdain, but threatened to inform the king of in case of a
renewal of his addresses. Others affirm that the queen, at one time,
shewed that the duke was not indifferent to her, and that, on a hint
being given to him to that effect, he replied: "Every one may be
ambitious to please the queen, except myself. Our interests are too
opposite for Love ever to unite them." On this foundation is built
the origin of the animosity which, in the end, brought both these
great personages to the scaffold.

Whatever may have been the motive which gave rise to it, certain it
is that they never omitted any opportunity of persecuting each other.
The queen had no difficulty in pourtraying the duke as a man addicted
to the most profligate excesses, and in alienating from him the mind
of the king: he, on his side, found it as easy, by means of
surreptitious publications, to represent her as a woman given to
illicit enjoyments; so that, long before the revolution, the
character both of the queen and the duke were well known to the
public; and their example tended not a little to increase the general
dissoluteness of morals. The debaucheries of the one served as a
model to all the young rakes of fashion; while the levity of the
other, was imitated by what were termed the _amiable_ women of the

After his exile in 1788, the hatred of M. d'Orleans towards the queen
roused that ambition which he inherited from his ancestors. In
watching her private conduct, in order to expose her criminal
weaknesses, he discovered a certain political project, which gave
birth to the idea of his forming a plan of a widely-different nature.
Hitherto he had given himself little trouble about State affairs;
but, in conjunction with his confidential friends, he now began to
calculate the means of profiting by the distress of his country.

The first shocks of the revolution had so electrified the greater
part of the Parisians, that, in regard to the Duke of Orleans, they
imperceptibly passed from profound contempt to blind infatuation. His
palace became the rendezvous of all the malcontents of the court, and
his garden the place of assembly of all the demagogues. His exile
appeared a public calamity, and his recall was celebrated as a
triumph. Had he possessed a vigour of intellect, and a daring equal
to the situation of leader of a party, there is little doubt that he
might have succeeded in his plan, and been declared regent. His
immense income, amounting to upwards of three hundred thousand pounds
sterling, was employed to gain partisans, and secure the attachment
of the people.

After the taking of the Bastille, it is admitted that his party was
sufficiently powerful to effect a revolution in his favour; but his
pusillanimity prevailed over his ambition. The active vigilance of
the queen thwarting his projects, he resolved to get rid of her; and
in that intention was the irruption of the populace directed to
Versailles. This fact seems proved: for, on some one complaining
before him in 1792, that the revolution proceeded too slowly. "It
would have been terminated long ago," replied he, "had the queen been
sacrificed on the 5th of October 1789."

Two months before the fall of the throne, M. d'Orleans still reckoned
to be able to attain his wishes; but he soon found himself
egregiously mistaken. The factions, after mutually accusing each
other of having him for their chief, ended by deserting him; and,
after the death of the king, he became a stranger to repose, and, for
the second time, an object of contempt. The necessity of keeping up
the exaltation of the people, had exhausted his fortune, great as it
was; and want of money daily detached different agents from his
party. His plate, his pictures, his furniture, his books, his
trinkets, his gems, all went to purchase the favour, and at length
the protection, of the Maratists. Not having it in his power to
satisfy their cupidity, he opened loans on all sides, and granted
illusory mortgages. Having nothing more left to dispose of, he was
reduced, as a last resource, to sell his body-linen. In this very
bargain was he engaged, when he was apprehended and sent to

Although acquitted by the criminal tribunal, before which he was
tried in the south of France, he was still detained there in prison.
At first, he had shed tears, and given himself up to despair, but now
hope once more revived his spirits, and he availed himself of the
indulgence granted him, by giving way to his old habits of
debauchery. On being brought to Paris after six months' confinement,
he flattered himself that he should experience the same lenity in the
capital. The jailer of the _Conciergerie,_ not knowing whether M.
d'Orleans would leave that prison to ascend the throne or the
scaffold, treated him with particular respect; and he himself was
impressed with the idea that he would soon resume an ascendency in
public affairs. But, on his second trial, he was unanimously declared
guilty of conspiring against the unity and indivisibility of the
Republic, and condemned to die, though no proof whatever of his guilt
was produced to the jury. One interrogatory put to him is deserving
of notice. It was this: "Did you not one day say to a deputy: _What
will you ask of me when I am king?_ And did not the deputy reply: _I
will ask you for a pistol to blow out your brains?_"

Every one who was present at the condemnation of M. d'Orleans, and
saw him led to the guillotine affirms that if he never shewed courage
before, he did at least on that day. On hearing the sentence, he
called out: "Let it be executed directly." From the revolutionary
tribunal he was conducted straight to the scaffold, where,
notwithstanding the reproaches and imprecations which accompanied him
all the way, he met his fate with unshaken firmness.


_Paris, November 18, 1801._

But if the _ci-devant Palais Royal_ has been the mine of political
explosions, so it still continues to be the epitome of all the trades
in Paris. Under the arcades, on the ground-floor, here are, as
formerly, shops of jewellers, haberdashers, artificial florists,
milliners, perfumers, print-sellers, engravers, tailors, shoemakers,
hatters, furriers, glovers, confectioners, provision-merchants,
woollen-drapers, mercers, cutlers, toymen, money-changers, and
booksellers, together with several coffee-houses, and
lottery-offices, all in miscellaneous succession.

Among this enumeration, the jewellers' shops are the most attractive
in point of splendour. The name of the proprietor is displayed in
large letters of artificial diamonds, in a conspicuous compartment
facing the door. This is a sort of signature, whose brilliancy
eclipses all other names, and really dazzles the eyes of the
spectators. But at the same time it draws the attention both of the
learned and the illiterate: I will venture to affirm that the name of
one of these jewellers is more frequently spelt and pronounced than
that of any great man recorded in history, either ancient or modern.

With respect to the price of the commodities exposed for sale in the
_Palais du Tribunat_, it is much the same as in _Bond Street_, you
pay one third at least for the idea of fashion annexed to the name of
the place where you make the purchase, though the quality of the
article may be nowise superior to what you might procure elsewhere.
As in Bond Street too, the rents in this building are high, on which
account the shopkeepers are, in some measure, obliged to charge
higher than those in other parts of the town. Not but I must do them
the justice to acknowledge that they make no scruple to avail
themselves of every prejudice formerly entertained in favour of this
grand emporium, in regard to taste, novelty, &c. by a still further
increase of their prices. No small advantage to the shopkeepers
established here is the chance custom, arising from such a variety of
trades being collected together so conveniently, all within the same
inclosure. A person resorting hither to procure one thing, is sure to
be reminded of some other want, which, had not the article presented
itself to his eye, would probably have escaped his recollection; and,
indeed, such is the thirst of gain, that several tradesmen keep a
small shop under these piazzas, independently of a large warehouse in
another quarter of Paris.

Pamphlets and other ephemeral productions usually make their first
appearance in the _Palais du Tribunat_; and strangers may rely on
being plagued by a set of fellows who here hawk about prohibited
publications, of the most immoral tendency, embellished with
correspondent engravings; such as _Justine, ou les malheurs de la
vertu, Les quarante manieres, &c._ They seldom, I am told, carry the
publication about them, for fear of being unexpectedly apprehended,
but keep it at some secret repository hard by, whence they fetch it
in an instant. It is curious to see with what adroitness these
vagrants elude the vigilance of the police, I had scarcely set my
foot in this building before a Jew-looking fellow, coming close to
me, whispered in my ear: "_Monsieur veut-il la vie polissonne de
Madame--------?_" Madame who do you think? You will stare when I tell
you to fill up the blank with the name of her who is now become the
first female personage in France? I turned round with astonishment;
but the ambulating book-vender had vanished, in consequence, as I
conclude, of being observed by some _mouchard._ Thus, what little
virtue may remain in the mind of youth is contaminated by precept, as
well as example; and the rising generation is in a fair way of being
even more corrupted than that which has preceded it.

"_AEtas parentum, pejor avis, tulit
Nos nequiores, mox daturos
Progeniem vitiosiorem._"

Besides the shops, are some auction-rooms, where you may find any
article of wearing apparel or household furniture, from a lady's wig
_a la Caraculla_ to a bed _a la Grecque:_ here are as many puffers as
in a mock auction in London; and should you be tempted to bid, by the
apparent cheapness of the object put up for sale, it is fifty to one
that you soon repent of your bargain. Not so with the _magazins de
confiance a prix fixe_, where are displayed a variety of articles,
marked at a fixed price, from which there is no abatement.

These establishments are extremely convenient, not only to ingenious
mechanics, who have invented or improved a particular production of
art, of which they wish to dispose, but also to purchasers. You walk
in, and if any article strikes your fancy, you examine it at your
ease; you consider the materials, the workmanship, and lastly the
price, without being hurried by a loquacious shopkeeper into a
purchase which you may shortly regret. A commission of from five to
one half per cent, in graduated proportions, according to the value
of the article, is charged to the seller, for warehouse-room and all
other expenses.

Such is the arrangement of the ground-floor; the apartments on the
first floor are at present occupied by _restaurateurs_, exhibitions
of various kinds, billiard-tables, and _academies de jeu_, or public
gaming-tables, where all the passions are let loose, and all the
torments of hell assembled.

The second story is let out in lodgings, furnished or unfurnished, to
persons of different descriptions, particularly to the priestesses of
Venus. The rooms above, termed _mansardes_, in the French
architectural dialect, are mostly inhabited by old batchelors, who
prefer economy to show; or by artists, who subsist by the employment
of their talents. These chambers are spacious, and though the
ceilings are low, they receive a more uninterrupted circulation of
fresh air, than the less exalted regions.

Over the _mansardes_, in the very roof, are nests of little rooms, or
cock-lofts, resembling, I am told, the cells of a beehive. Journeymen
shopkeepers, domestics, and distressed females are said to be the
principal occupiers of these aerial abodes.

I had nearly forgot to mention a species of apartment little known in
England: I mean the _entresol_, which is what we should denominate a
low story, (though here not so considered), immediately above the
ground-floor, and directly under the first-floor. In this building,
some of the _entresols_ are inhabited by the shopkeepers below; some,
by women of no equivocal calling, who throw out their lures to the
idle youths sauntering under the arcades; and others again are now
become _maisons de pret_, where pawnbrokers exercise their usurious

In the _Palais du Tribunat_, as you may remark, not an inch of space
is lost; every hole and corner being turned to account: here and
there, the cellars even: are converted into scenes of gaiety and
diversion, where the master of the house entertains his customers
with a succession of vocal and instrumental music, while they are
taking such refreshments as he furnishes.

This speculation, which has, by all accounts, proved extremely
profitable, was introduced in the early part of the revolution. Since
that period, other speculations, engendered by the luxury of the
times, have been set on foot within the precincts of this palace. Of
two of these, now in full vigour and exercise, I must say a few
words, as they are of a nature somewhat curious.

The one is a _cabinet de decrotteur_, where the art of blacking shoes
is carried to a pitch of perfection hitherto unknown in this country.

Not many years ago, it was common, in Paris, to see counsellors,
abbes, and military officers, as well as _petits-maitres_ of every
denomination, full dressed, that is, with their hat under their arm,
their sword by their side, and their hair in a bag, standing in the
open street, with one leg cocked up on a stool, while a rough
Savoyard or Auvergnat hastily cleaned their shoes with a coarse
mixture of lamp-black and rancid oil. At the present day, the
_decrotteurs_ or shoe-blacks still exercise their profession on the
_Pont Neuf_ and in other quarters; but, as a refinement of the art,
there is also opened, at each of the principal entrances of the
_Palais du Tribunat_, a _cabinet de decrotteur_, or small apartment,
where you are invited to take a chair, and presented with the daily

The artist, with due care and expedition, first removes the dirt from
your shoes or boots with a sponge occasionally moistened in water,
and by means of several pencils, of different sizes, not unlike those
of a limner, he then covers them with a jetty varnish, rivaling even
japan in lustre. This operation he performs with a gravity and
consequence that can scarcely fail to excite laughter. Yet, according
to the trite proverb, it is not the customer who ought to indulge in
mirth, but the _artist_. Although his price is much dearer than that
demanded by the other professors of this art, his cabinet is seldom
empty from morning to night; and, by a simple calculation, his pencil
is found to produce more than that of some good painters of the
modern French school.

At the first view of the matter, it should appear that the other
speculation might have been hit on by any man with a nose to his
face; but, on more mature consideration, one is induced to think that
its author was a person of some learning, and well read in ancient
history. He, no doubt, took the hint from VESPASIAN. As that emperor
blushed not to make the urine of the citizens of Rome a source of
revenue, so the learned projector in question rightly judged that, in
a place of such resort as the _Palais du Tribunat_, he might, without
shame or reproach, levy a small tax on the Parisians, by providing
for their convenience in a way somewhat analogous. His penetration is
not unhandsomely rewarded; for he derives an income of 12,000 francs,
or L500 sterling, from his _cabinets d'aisance_.

Since political causes first occasioned the shuting up of the old
_Theatre Francais_ in the _Faubourg St. Germain_, now reduced to a
shell by fire, Melpomene and Thalia have taken up their abode in the
south-west angle of the _Palais du Tribunat_, and in its north-west
corner is another theatre, on a smaller scale, where Momus holds his
court; so that be you seriously, sentimentally, or humorously
disposed, you may, without quitting the shelter of the piazzas,
satisfy your inclination. Tragedy, Comedy, and Farce all lie before
you within the purlieus of this extraordinary edifice.

To sum up all the conveniences of the _Palais du Tribunat_, suffice
it to say, that almost every want, natural or artificial, almost
every appetite, gross or refined, might be gratified without passing
its limits; for, while the extravagant voluptuary is indulging in all
the splendour of Asiatic luxury, the parsimonious sensualist need not
depart unsatisfied.

Placed in the middle of Paris, the _Palais du Tribunat_ has been
aptly compared to a sink of vice, whose contagious effects would
threaten society with the greatest evils, were not the scandalous
scenes of the capital here concentrated into one focus. It has also
been mentioned, by the same writer, Mercier, as particularly worthy
of remark, that, since this building is become a grand theatre, where
cupidity, gluttony, and licentiousness shew themselves under every
form and excess, several other quarters of Paris are, in a manner,
purified by the accumulation of vices which flourish in its centre.

Whether or not this assertion be strictly correct, I will not pretend
to determine: but, certain it is that the _Palais du Tribunat_ is a
vortex of dissipation where many a youth is ingulfed. The natural
manner in which this may happen I shall endeavour briefly to explain,
by way of conclusion to this letter.

A young Frenchman, a perfect stranger in Paris, arrives there from
the country, and, wishing to equip himself in the fashion, hastens to
the _Palais du Tribunat_, where he finds wearing apparel of every
description on the _ground-floor_: prompted by a keen appetite, he
dines at a _restaurateur's_ on the _first-floor_: after dinner, urged
by mere curiosity, perhaps, if not decoyed by some sharper on the
look-out for novices, he visits a public gaming-table on the same
story. Fortune not smiling on him, he retires; but, at that very
moment, he meets, on the landing-place, a captivating damsel, who,
like Virgil's Galatea, flies to be pursued; and the inexperienced
youth, after ascending another flight of stairs, is, on the
_second-floor_, ushered into a brothel. Cloyed or disgusted there,
he is again induced to try the humour of the fickle goddess, and
repairs once more to the gaming-table, till, having lost all his
money, he is under the necessity of descending to the _entresol_
to pawn his watch, before he can even procure a lodging in a
_garret_ above.

What other city in Europe can boast of such an assemblage of
accommodation? Here, under the same roof, a man is, in the space of a
few minutes, as perfectly equipped from top to toe, as if he had all
the first tradesmen in London at his command; and shortly after,
without setting his foot into the street, he is as completely
stripped, as if he had fallen into the hands of a gang of robbers.

To cleanse this Augaean stable, would, no doubt, be a Herculean
labour. For that purpose, Merlin (of Douay), when Minister of the
police, proposed to the Directory to convert the whole of the
buildings of the _ci-devant Palais Royal_ into barracks. This was
certainly striking at the root of the evil; but, probably, so bold a
project was rejected, lest its execution, in those critical times,
should excite the profligate Parisians to insurrection.


_Paris, November 20, 1801._

One of the private entertainments here in great vogue, and which is
understood to mark a certain pre-eminence in the _savoir-vivre_ of
the present day, is a nocturnal repast distinguished by the
insignificant denomination of a


A stranger might, in all probability, be led to suppose that he was
invited to a tea-drinking party, when he receives a note couched in
the following terms:

_"Madame R------ prie Monsieur B--------- de lui faire l'honneur de
venir au the quelle doit donner le 5 de ce mois."_

Considering in that light a similar invitation which I received, I
was just on the point of sending an apology, when I was informed that
a _the_ was nothing more or less than a sort of rout, followed by
substantial refreshments, and generally commencing after the
evening's performance was ended at the principal theatres.

On coming out of the opera-house then the other night, I repaired to
the lady's residence in question, and arriving there about twelve
o'clock, found that I had stumbled on the proper hour. As usual,
there were cards, but for those only disposed to play; for, as this
lady happened not to be under the necessity of recurring to the
_bouillotte_ as a financial resource, she gave herself little or no
concern about the card-tables. Being herself a very agreeable,
sprightly woman, she had invited a number of persons of both sexes of
her own character, so that the conversation was kept up with infinite
vivacity till past one o'clock, when tea and coffee were introduced.
These were immediately followed by jellies, sandwiches, pates, and a
variety of savoury viands, in the style of a cold supper, together
with different sorts of wines and liqueurs. In the opinion of some of
the Parisian sybarites, however, no _the_ can be complete without the
addition of an article, which is here conceived to be a perfect
imitation of fashionable English cheer. This is hot punch.

It was impossible for me to refuse the cheerful and engaging _dame du
logis_ to taste her _ponche_, and, in compliment to me as an
Englishman, she presented me with a glass containing at least a
treble allowance. Not being overfond of punch, I would willingly have
relinquished the honour of drinking her health in so large a portion,
apprehending that this beverage might, in quality, resemble that of
the same name which I had tasted here a few evenings ago in one of
the principal coffeehouses. The latter, in fact, was a composition of
new rum, which reminded me of the trash of that kind distilled in New
England, acidulated with rotten lemons, sweetened with capillaire,
and increased by a _quantum sufficit_ of warm water. My hostess's
punch, on the contrary, was made of the best ingredients, agreeably
to the true standard; in a word, it was proper lady's punch, that is,
hot, sweet, sour, and strong. It was distributed in tea-pots, of
beautiful porcelaine, which, independently of keeping it longer warm,
were extremely convenient for pouring it out without spilling. Thus
concluded the entertainment.

About half past two o'clock the party broke up, and I returned home,
sincerely regretting the change in the mode of life of the Parisians.

Before the revolution, the fashionable hour of dinner in Paris was
three o'clock, or at latest four: public places then began early; the
curtain at the grand French opera drew up at a quarter past five. At
the present day, the workman dines at two; the tradesman, at three;
the clerk in a public office, at four; the rich upstart, the
money-broker, the stock-jobber, the contractor, at five; the banker,
the legislator, the counsellor of state, at six; and the ministers,
in general, at seven, nay not unfrequently at eight.

Formerly, when the performance at the opera, and the other principal
theatres, was ended at nine o'clock, or a quarter past, people of
fashion supped at ten or half after; and a man who went much into
public, and kept good company, might retire peaceably to rest by
midnight. In three-fourths of the houses in Paris, there is now no
such meal as supper, except on the occasion of a ball, when it is
generally a mere scramble. This, I presume, is one reason why
substantial breakfasts are so much in fashion.

"_Dejeuners froids et chauds_," is an inscription which now generally
figures on the exterior of a Parisian coffeehouse, beside that of
"_The a l'Anglaise, Cafe a la creme, Limonade, &c_." Solids are here
the taste of the times. Two ladies, who very gallantly invited
themselves to breakfast at my apartments the other morning, were
ready to turn the house out of the window, when they found that I
presented to them nothing more than tea, coffee, and chocolate. I was
instantly obliged to provide cold fowl, ham, oysters, white wine, &c.
I marvel not at the strength and vigour of these French belles. In
appetite, they would cope with an English ploughman, who had just
turned up an acre of wholesome land on an empty stomach.

Now, though a _the_ may be considered as a substitute for a supper,
it cannot, in point of agreeableness, be compared to a _petit
souper_. If a man must sup, and I am no advocate for regular suppers,
these were the suppers to my fancy. A select number of persons, well
assorted, assembled at ten o'clock, after the opera was concluded,
and spent a couple of hours in a rational manner. Sometimes a _petit
souper_ consisted of a simple _tete-a-tete_, sometimes of a _partie
quarree_, or the number was varied at pleasure. But still, in a
_petit souper_, not only much gaiety commonly prevailed, but also a
certain _epanchement de coeur_, which animated the conversation to
such a degree as to render a party of this description the _acme_ of
social intercourse, "the feast of reason and the flow of soul."

Under the old _regime_, not a man was there in office, from the
_ministre d'etat_ to the _commis_, who did not think of making
himself amends for the fatigues of the morning by a _petit souper_:
these _petits soupers_, however, were, in latter times, carried to an
excessive pitch of luxurious extravagance. But for refinements
attempted in luxury, though, I confess, of a somewhat dissolute
nature, our countryman eclipsed all the French _bons vivans_ in
originality of conception.

Being in possession of an ample fortune, and willing to enjoy it
according to his fancy, he purchased in Paris a magnificent house,
but constructed on a small scale, where every thing that the most
refined luxury could suggest was assembled. The following is the
account given by one of his friends, who had been an eye-witness to
his manner of living.

"Mr. B---- had made it a rule to gratify his five senses to the
highest degree of enjoyment of which they were susceptible. An
exquisite table, perfumed apartments, the charms of music and
painting; in a word, every thing most enchanting that nature,
assisted by art, could produce, successively flattered his sight, his
taste, his smell, his hearing, and his feeling.

"In a superb saloon, whither he conducted me," says this gentleman,
"were six young beauties, dressed in an extraordinary manner, whose
persons, at first sight, did not appear unknown to me: it struck me
that I had seen their faces more than once, and I was accordingly
going to address them, when Mr. B----, smiling at my mistake,
explained to me the cause of it." "I have, in my amours," said he, "a
particular fancy. The choicest beauty of Circassia would have ho
merit in my eyes, did she not resemble the portrait of some woman,
celebrated in past ages: and while lovers set great value on a
miniature which faithfully exhibits the features of their mistress, I
esteem mine only in proportion to their resemblance to ancient

"Conformably to this idea," continued Mr. B----, "I have caused the
intendant of my pleasures to travel all over Europe, with select
portraits, or engravings, copied from the originals. He has succeeded
in his researches, as you see, since you have conceived that you
recognized these ladies on whom you have never before set your eyes;
but whose likenesses you may, undoubtedly, have met with. Their dress
must have contributed to your mistake: they all wear the attire of
the personage they represent; for I wish their whole person to be
picturesque. By these means, I have travelled back several centuries,
and am in possession of beauties whom time had placed at a great

"Supper was served up. Mr. B---- seated himself between Mary, queen
of Scots, and Anne Bullein. I placed myself opposite to him,"
concludes the gentleman, "having beside me Ninon de l'Enclos, and
Gabrielle d'Estrees. We also had the company of the fair Rosamond and
Nell Gwynn; but at the head of the table was a vacant elbow-chair,
surmounted by a canopy, and destined for Cleopatra, who was coming
from Egypt, and of whose arrival Mr. B---- was in hourly


_Paris, November 21, 1801._

Often as we have heard of the extraordinary number of places of
public entertainment in Paris, few, if any, persons in England have
an idea of its being so considerable as it is, even at the present
moment. But, in 1799, at the very time when we were told over and
over again in Parliament, that France was unable to raise the
necessary supplies for carrying on the war, and would, as a matter of
course, be compelled not only to relinquish her further projects of
aggrandisement, but to return to her ancient territorial limits; at
that critical period, there existed in Paris, and its environs, no
less than seventy


Under the old _regime_, nothing like this number was ever known. Such
an almost incredible variety of amusements is really a phenomenon, in
the midst of a war, unexampled in its consumption of blood and
treasure, It proves that, whatever may have been the public distress,
there was at least a great _show_ of private opulence. Indeed I have
been informed that, at the period alluded to, a spirit of
indifference, prodigality, and dissipation, seemed to pervade every
class of society. Whether placed at the bottom or the top of
Fortune's wheel, a thirst of gain and want of economy were alike
conspicuous among all ranks of people. Those who strained every nerve
to obtain riches, squandered them with equal profusion.

No human beings on earth can be more fond of diversion than the
Parisians. Like the Romans of old, they are content if they have but
_panem et circenses_, which a Frenchman would render by _spectacles
et de quoi manger_. However divided its inhabitants may be on
political subjects, on the score of amusement at least the Republic
is one and indivisible. In times of the greatest scarcity, many a
person went dinnerless to the theatre, eating whatever scrap he could
procure, and consoling himself by the idea of being amused for the
evening, and at the same time saving at home the expense of fire and

The following list of public places, which I have transcribed for
your satisfaction, was communicated to me by a person of veracity;
and, as far as it goes, its correctness has been confirmed by my own
observation. Although it falls short of the number existing here two
years ago, it will enable you to judge of the ardour still prevalent
among the Parisians, for "running at the ring of pleasure." Few of
these places are shut up, except for the winter; and new ones succeed
almost daily to those which are finally closed. However, for the sake
of perspicuity, I shall annex the letter S to such as are intended
chiefly for summer amusement.

1. _Theatre des Arts, Rue de la Loi_.

2. _------- Francais, Rue de la Loi._

3. _------- Feydeau, Rue Feydeau._

4. _------- Louvois, Rue de Louvois._

5. _------- Favart,_ now _Opera Buffa._

6. _------- de la Porte St. Martin._

7. _------- de la Societe Olympique_ (late _Opera Buffa.)_

8. _------- du Vaudeville, Rue de Chartres._

9. _------- Montansier, Palais du Tribunat._

10. _------- de l'Ambigu Comique, Boulevard du Temple._

11. _------- de la Gaiete, Boulevard du Temple._

12. _------- des Jeunes Artistes, Boulevard St. Martin._

13. _------- des Jeunes Eleves, Rue de Thionville._

14. _------- des Delassemens Comiques, Boulevard du Temple._

15. _------- sans Pretension, Boulevard du Temple._

16. _------- du Marais, Rue Culture Ste. Catherine._

17. _------- de la Cite, vis-a-vis le Palais de Justice._

18. _------- des Victoires, Rue du Bacq._

19. _------- de Moliere, Rue St. Martin._

20. _------- de l'Estrapade._

21. _------- de Mareux, Rue St. Antoine._

22. _------- des Aveugles, Rue St. Denis._

23. _------- de la Rue St. Jean de Beauvais._

24. _Bal masque de l'Opera, Rue de la Loi._

25. _---------- de l'Opera Buffa, Rue de la Victoire._

26. _Bal du Sallon des Etrangers, Rue Grange Bateliere._

27. _--- de l'Hotel de Salm, Rue de Lille, Faubourg St. Germain._

28. _--- de la Rue Michaudiere._

29. _Soirees amusantes de l'Hotel Longueville, Place du Carrousel._

30. _Veillees de la Cite, vis-a-vis le Palais de Justice._

31. _Phantasmagorie de Robertson, Cour des Capucines._

32. _Concert de Feydeau._

33. _Ranelagh au bois de Boulogne._

34. _Tivoli, Rue de Clichy_, S.

35. _Frascati, Rue de la Loi_, S.

36. _Idalie_, S.

37. _Hameau de Chantilly, aux Champs Elysees._

38. _Paphos, Boulevard du Temple._

39. _Vauxhall d'hiver._

40. _-------- d'ete_, S.

41. _-------- a Mousseaux_, S.

42. _-------- a St. Cloud_, S.

43. _-------- au Petit Trianon_, S.

44. _Jardin de l'hotel Biron, Rue de Varenne_, S.

45. _------ Thelusson, Chaussee d'Antin_, S.

40. _------ Marboeuf, Grille de Chaillot_, S.

47. _------ de l'hotel d'Orsay_, S.

48. _Fetes champetres de Bagatelle_, S.

49. _La Muette, a l'entree du Bois de Boulogne_, S.

50. _Colisee, au Parc des Sablons_, S.

51. _Amphitheatre d'equitation de Franconi, aux Capucines._

52. _Panorama, meme lieu._

53. _Exhibition de Curtius, Boulevard du Temple._

54. _Experiences Physiques, au Palais du Tribunat._

55. _La Chaumiere, aux Nouveaux Boulevards._

56. _Cabinet de demonstration de Physiologie et de Pathologie, au
Palais du Tribunat, No. 38, au premier._

Although, previously to the revolution, the taste for dramatic
amusements had imperceptibly spread, Paris could then boast of no
more than three principal theatres, exclusively of _l'Opera Buffa_
introduced in 1788. These were _l'Opera les Francais_, and _les
Italiens_, which, with six inferior ones, called _petits spectacles_,
brought the whole of the theatres to ten in number. The subaltern
houses were incessantly checked in their career by the privileges
granted to the _Comedie Francaise_, which company alone enjoyed the
right to play first-rate productions: it also possessed that of
censorship, and sometimes exercised it in the most despotic manner.
Authors, ever in dispute with the comedians, who dictated the law to
them, solicited, but in vain, the opening of a second French theatre.
The revolution took place, and the unlimited number of theatres was
presently decreed. A great many new ones were opened; but the
attraction of novelty dispersing the amateurs, the number of
spectators did not always equal the expectation of the managers; and
the profits, divided among so many competitors, ceased to be
sufficiently productive for the support of every establishment of
this description. The consequence was, that several of them were soon
reduced to a state of bankruptcy.

Three theatres of the first and second rank have been destroyed by
fire within these two years, yet upwards of twenty are at present
open, almost every night, exclusively of several associations of
self-denominated _artistes-amateurs._

Amidst this false glare of dramatic wealth, theatres of the first
rank have imperceptibly declined, and at last fallen. It comes not
within my province or intention to seek the causes of this in the
defects of their management; but the fact is notorious. The _Theatres
Favart_ and _Feydeau_, at each of which French comic operas were
chiefly represented, have at length been obliged to unite the
strength of their talents, and the disgrace which they have
experienced, has not affected any of those inferior playhouses where
subaltern performers establish their success on an assemblage of
scenes more coarse, and language more unpolished.

At the present moment, the government appear to have taken this
decline of the principal theatres into serious consideration. It is,
I understand, alike to be apprehended, that they may concern
themselves too little or too much in their welfare. Hitherto the
persons charged with the difficult task of upholding the falling
theatres of the first rank, have had the good sense to confine their
measures to conciliation; but, of late, it has been rumoured that the
stage is to be subjected to its former restrictions. The benefit
resulting to the art itself and to the public, from a rivalship of
theatres, is once more called in question: and some people even go so
far as to assert that, with the exception of a few abuses, the
direction of the _Gentils-hommes de la chambre_ was extremely good:
thence it should seem that the only difficulty is to find these lords
of the bed-chamber, if there be any still in being, in order to
restore to them their dramatic sceptre.[1]

Doubtless, the liberty introduced by the revolution has been, in many
respects, abused, and in too many, perhaps, relative to places of
public amusement. But must it, on that account, be entirely lost to
the stage, and falling into a contrary excess, must recourse be had
to arbitrary measures, which might also be abused by those to whose
execution they were intrusted? The unlimited number of theatres may
be a proper subject for the interference of the government: but as to
the liberty of the theatres, included in the number that may be fixed
on to represent pieces of every description, such only excepted as
may be hurtful to morals, seems to be a salutary and incontestable
principle. This it is that, by disengaging the French comic opera
from the narrow sphere to which it was confined, has, in a great
measure, effected a musical revolution, at which all persons of taste
must rejoice, by introducing on that stage the harmonic riches of

Italy. This too it is that has produced, on theatres of the second
and third rank, pieces which are neither deficient in regularity,
connexion, representation, nor decoration. The effect of such a
principle was long wanted here before the revolution, when the
independent spirit of dramatic authors was fettered by the
procrastinations of a set of privileged comedians, who discouraged
them by ungracious refusals, or disgusted them by unjust preferences.
Hence, the old adage in France that, when an author had composed a
good piece, he had performed but half his task; this was true, as the
more difficult half, namely, the getting it read and represented,
still remained to be accomplished.

As for the multiplicity of playhouses, it certainly belongs to the
government to limit their number, not by privileges which might be
granted through favour, or obtained, perhaps, for money. The taste of
the public for theatrical diversions being known, the population
should first be considered, as it is that which furnishes both money
and spectators. It would be easy to ascertain the proportion between
the population of the capital and the number of theatres which it
ought to comprise. Public places should be free as to the species of
amusement, but limited in their number, so as not to exceed the
proportion which the population can bear. The houses would then be
constantly well attended, and the proprietors, actors, authors, and
all those concerned in their success, secure against the consequences
of failure, and the true interest of the art be likewise promoted. In
a word, neither absolute independence, nor exclusive privilege should
prevail; but a middle course be adopted, in order to fix the fate of
those great scenic establishments, which, by forming so essential a
part of public diversion, have a proportionate influence on the
morals of the nation.

I have been led, by degrees, into these observations, not only from a
review of the decline of some of the principal playhouses here, but
also from a conviction that their general principle is applicable to
every other capital in Europe. What, for example, can be more absurd
than, in the dog-days, when room and air are particularly requisite,
that the lovers of dramatic amusement in the British metropolis are
to be crammed into a little theatre in the Haymarket, and stewed year
after year, as in a sweating-room at a bagnio, because half a century
ago an exclusive privilege was inconsiderately granted?

The playhouses here, in general, have been well attended this winter,
particularly the principal ones; but, in Paris, every rank has not
exactly its theatre as at a ball. From the _spectacles_ on the
_Boulevards_ to those of the first and second rank, there is a
mixture of company. Formerly, the lower classes confined themselves
solely to the former; at present, they visit the latter. An increase
of wages has enabled the workman to gratify his inclination for the
indulgence of a species of luxury; and, by a sort of instinct, he now
and then takes a peep at those scenes of which he before entertained,
from hearsay, but an imperfect idea.

If you wish to see a new or favourite piece, you must not neglect to
secure a seat in proper time; for, on such occasions, the house is
full long before the rising of the curtain. As to taking places in
the manner we do in England, there is no such arrangement to be made,
except, indeed, you choose to take a whole box, which is expensive.
In that case you pay for it at the time you engage it, and it is kept
locked the whole evening, or till you and your party, make your

At all the _spectacles_ in Paris, you are literally kept on the
outside of the house till you have received a ticket, in exchange for
your money, through an aperture in the exterior wall. Within a few
paces of the door of the principal theatres are two receiver's
offices, which are no sooner open, than candidates for admission
begin to form long ranks, extending from the portico into the very
street, and advance to them two abreast in regular succession. A
steady sentinel, posted at the aperture, repeats your wishes to the
receiver, and in a mild, conciliating manner, facilitates their
accomplishment. Other sentinels are stationed for the preservation of
order, under the immediate eye of the officer, who sees that every
one takes his turn to obtain tickets: however, it is not uncommon,
for forestallers to procure a certain number of them, especially at
the representation of a new or favourite piece, and offer them
privately at a usurious price which many persons are glad to pay
rather than fall into the rear of the ranks.

The method I always take to avoid this unpleasant necessity, I will
recommend to you as a very simple one, which may, perhaps, prevent
you from many a theatrical disappointment. Having previously informed
myself what _spectacle_ is best worth seeing, while I am at dinner I
send my _valet de place_, or if I cannot conveniently spare him, I
desire him to dispatch a _commissionnaire_ for the number of tickets
wanted, so that when I arrive at the theatre, I have only to walk in,
and place myself to the best advantage.

It is very wisely imagined not to establish the receiver's offices in
the inside of the house, as in our theatres. By this plan, however
great may be the crowd, the entrance is always unobstructed, and
those violent struggles and pressures, which among us have cost the
lives of many, are effectually prevented. You will observe that no
half-price is taken at any theatre in Paris; but in different parts
of the house, there are offices, called _bureaux de supplement_,
where, if you want to pass from one part of it to another, you
exchange your counter-mark on paying the difference.

Nothing can be better regulated than the present police, both
interior and exterior, of the theatres in Paris. The eye is not
shocked, as was formerly the case, by the presence of black-whiskered
grenadiers, occupying different parts of the house, and, by the
inflexible sternness of their countenance, awing the spectators into
a suppression of their feelings. No fusileer, with a fixed bayonet
and piece loaded with ball, now dictates to the auditors of the pit
that such a seat must hold so many persons, though several among them
might, probably, be as broad-bottomed as Dutchmen. If you find
yourself incommoded by heat or pressure, you are at liberty to
declare it without fear of giving offence. The criticism of a man of
taste is no longer silenced by the arbitrary control of a military
despot, who, for an exclamation or gesture, not exactly coinciding
with his own prepossessions, pointed him out to his myrmidons, and
transferred him at once to prison. You may now laugh with Moleire, or
weep with Racine, without having your mirth or sensibility thus
unseasonably checked in its expansion.

The existence of this despotism has been denied; but facts are
stubborn things, and I will relate to you an instance in which I saw
it most wantonly exercised. Some years ago I was present at the
_Theatre Francais_, when, in one of Corneille's pieces, Mademoiselle
Raucourt, the tragic actress, was particularly negligent in the
delivery of a passage, which, to do justice to the author, required
the nicest discrimination. An amateur in the _parterre_ reproved her,
in a very gentle manner, for a wrong emphasis. Being at this time a
favourite of the queen, she was, it seems, superior to admonition,
and persisted in her misplaced shrieks, till it became evident that
she set the audience at defiance: other persons then joined the
former in expressing their disapprobation. Instantly the _major_
singled out the leading critic: two grenadiers forced their way to
the place where he was seated, and conveyed him to prison for having
had the audacity to reprove an actress in favour at court. From such
improper exercise of authority, the following verse had become a

_"II est bien des sifflets, mais nous avons la garde."_

Many there are, I know, who approved of this manner of bridling the
fickle Parisians, on the ground that they were so used to the curb
that they could no longer dispense with it. A guard on the outside of
a theatre is unquestionably necessary, and proper for the
preservation of order; but that the public should not be at liberty
to approve or condemn such a passage, or such an actor, is at once to
stifle the expression of that general opinion which alone can produce
good performers. The interior police of the theatre being at present
almost entirely in the hands of the public themselves, it is, on that
account, more justly observed and duly respected.

Considering the natural impetuosity of their character, one is
surprised at the patient tranquillity with which the French range
themselves in their places. Seldom do they interrupt the performance
by loud conversation, but exchange their thoughts in a whisper. When
one sees them applaud with rapture a tender scene, which breathes
sentiments of humanity or compassion, speaks home to every feeling
heart, and inspires the most agreeable sensations, one is tempted to
question whether the Parisians of the present day belong to the
identical race that could, at one time, display the ferocity of
tigers, and, at another, the tameness of lambs, while their nearest
relations and best friends were daily bleeding on the scaffold?

By the existing regulations, many of which are worthy of being
adopted in London, no theatre can be opened in Paris without the
permission of the police, who depute proper persons to ascertain that
the house is solidly built, the passages and outlets unincumbered and
commodious, and that it is provided with reservoirs of water, and an
adequate number of fire-engines.

Every public place that may be open, is to be shut up immediately,
if, for one single day, the proprietors neglect to keep the
reservoirs full of water, the engines in proper order, and the
firemen ready.

No persons can be admitted behind the scenes, except those employed
in the service of the theatre. Nor is the number of tickets
distributed to exceed that of the persons the house can conveniently

No coachman, under any pretext whatever, can quit the reins of his
horses, while the persons he has driven, are getting out of or into
their carriage. Indeed, the necessity of his doing so is obviated by
porters stationed at the door of the theatres, and appointed by the
police. They are distinguished by a brass plate, on which their
permission and the name of the theatre are engraved.

At all the theatres in Paris, there is an exterior guard, which is at
the disposal of the _civil_ officer, stationed there for the
preservation of order. This guard cannot enter the inside of the
theatre but in case of the safety of the public being exposed, and at
the express requisition of the said officer, who can never introduce
the armed force into the house, till after he has, in a loud voice,
apprized the audience of his intention.

Every citizen is bound to obey, _provisionally_, the officer of
police. In consequence, every person invited by the officer of
police, or summoned by him, to quit the house, is immediately to
repair to the police-office of the theatre, in order to give such
explanations as may be required of him. The said officer may either
transfer him to the competent tribunal, or set him at liberty,
according to circumstances.

Proper places are appointed for carriages to wait at. When the play
is ended, no carriage in waiting can move till the first crowd coming
out of the house has disappeared. The commanding officer of the guard
on duty decides the moment when carriages may be called.

No carriage can move quicker than a foot-pace, and but on a single
rank, till it has got clear of the streets in the vicinity of the
theatre. Nor can it arrive thither but by the streets appointed for
that purpose.

Two hours before the rising of the curtain, sentinels are placed in
sufficient number to facilitate the execution of these orders, and to
prevent any obstruction in the different avenues of the theatre.

Indeed, obstruction is now seldom seen; I have more than once had the
curiosity to count, and cause to be counted, all the _private_
carriages in waiting at the grand French opera, on a night when the
boxes were filled with the most fashionable company. Neither I nor my
_valet de place_ could ever reckon more than from forty to fifty;
whereas, formerly, it was not uncommon to see here between two and
three hundred; and the noise of so many equipages rattling through
the streets, from each of the principal theatres, sufficiently
indicated that the performance was ended.

By the number of advertisements in the _petites affiches_ or daily
advertiser of Paris, offering a reward for articles lost, no doubt
can exist of there being a vast number of pickpockets in this gay
capital; and a stranger must naturally draw such an inference from
observing where the pockets are placed in men's clothes: in the coat,
it is in the inside of the facing, parallel to the breast: in the
waistcoat, it is also in the inside, but lower down, so that when a
Frenchman wants to take out his money, he must go through the
ceremony of unbuttoning first his surtout, if he wears one in winter,
then his coat, and lastly his waistcoat. In this respect, the ladies
have the advantage; for, as I have already mentioned, they wear no

[Footnote 1: During the old _regime_, the theatres were under the
control of the _Gentils-hommes de la chambre_, but at the
establishment of the directorial government, they were placed in the
power of the Minister of the Interior, in whose department they have
since continued. Of late, however, it is asserted, that they are each
to be under the direction of a Prefect of the Palace.]

[Footnote 2: Independently of the boxes reserved for the officers of
the staff of the city of Paris, and those at the head of the police,
who have individually free admission to all the _spectacles_ on
producing their ivory ticket, there is also a box at each theatre
appropriated to the Minister of Public Instruction.]


_Paris, November 23, 1801._

Yesterday being the day appointed for the opening of the session of
the Legislative Body, I was invited by a member to accompany him
thither, in order to witness their proceedings. No one can be
admitted without a ticket; and by the last constitution it is
decreed, that not more than two hundred strangers are to be present
at the sittings. The gallery allotted for the accommodation of the
public, is small, even in proportion to that number, and, in general,
extremely crowded. My friend, aware of this circumstance, did me the
favour to introduce me into the body of the hall, where I was seated
very conveniently, both for seeing and hearing, near the _tribune_,
to the left of the President.

This hall was built for the Council of Five Hundred, on the site of
the grand apartments of the _Palais Bourbon_. Since the accession of
the consular government, it has been appropriated to the sittings of
the Legislative Body, on which account the palace has taken their
name, and over the principal entrance is inscribed, in embossed
characters of gilt bronze:


The palace stands on the south bank of the Seine, facing the _Pont de
la Concorde_. It was begun, in 1722, for Louise-Francoise de Bourbon,
a legitimated daughter of Lewis XIV. GIRARDINI, an Italian architect,
planned the original building, the construction of which was
afterwards superintended by LASSURANCE and GABRIEL. The Prince de
Conde having acquired it by purchase, he caused it to be considerably
augmented and embellished, at different times, under the direction of

Had the _Pont de la Concorde_ subsisted previously to the erection of
the _Palais Bourbon_, the principal entrance would, probably, have
been placed towards the river; but it faces the north, and is
preceded by a paltry square, now called _Place du Corps Legislatif_.

In the centre of a peristyle, of the Corinthian order, is the grand
gateway, crowned by a sort of triumphal arch, which is connected, by
a double colonnade, to two handsome pavilions. The lateral buildings
of the outer court, which is two hundred and eighty feet in length,
are decorated with the same order, and a second court of two hundred
and forty feet, includes part of the original palace, which is
constructed in the Italian style.

The principal entrances to the right and left lead to two halls; the
one dedicated to _Peace_; the other, to _Victory_. On the one side,
is a communication to the apartments of the old palace; on the other,
are two spacious rooms. The room to the left, inscribed to _Liberty_,
is intended for petitioners, &c.; that to the right, inscribed to
_Equality_, is appropriated to conferences. Between the halls of
Liberty and Equality, is the hall of the sittings of the Legislative

The form of this hall is semicircular; the benches, rising gradually
one above the other, as in a Roman amphitheatre, are provided with
backs, and well adapted both for ease and convenience. They are
intersected by passages, which afford to the members the facility of
reaching or quitting their places, without disturbance or confusion.
Every seat is distinguished by a number, so that a deputy can never
be at a loss to find his place. In the centre, is an elevated
rostrum, with a seat for the President, directly under which is the
_tribune_, also elevated, for the orator addressing the assembly. The
tribune is decorated by a bas-relief, in white marble, representing
France writing her constitution, and Fame proclaiming it. The table
for the four secretaries is placed facing the tribune, beneath which
the _huissiers_ take their station. The desk and seat of the
President, formed of solid mahogany, are ornamented with _or moulu_.
The folding doors, which open into the hall, to the right and left of
the President's chair, are also of solid mahogany, embellished in the
same manner. Their frames are of white marble, richly sculptured.
Independently of these doors, there are others, serving as a
communication to the upper-seats, by means of two elegant stone

In six niches, three on each side of the tribune, are so many statues
of Greek and Roman legislators. On the right, are Lycurgus, Solon,
and Demosthenes: on the left, Brutus, Cato, and Cicero. The inside of
the hall is in stucco, and the upper part is decorated by a colonnade
of the Ionic order. The light proceeds from a cupola, glazed in the
centre, and the remainder of which is divided into small
compartments, each ornamented by an emblematical figure. The floor is
paved with marble, also in compartments, embellished with allegorical

Having made you acquainted with the hall of the sittings, I think it
may not be uninteresting to give you an account of the forms observed
in opening the session.

When I arrived, with my friend, at the Palace of the Legislative
Body, most of the members were already assembled in the apartments of
their library. At noon, they thence repaired to the hall, preceded by
the _huissiers_, messengers of state, and secretaries.

The opening of the session was announced by the report of artillery.

The oldest member, in point of years, took the President's chair,

The four youngest members of the assembly were called to the table to
discharge the office of secretaries, also provisionally.

The provisional President then declared, that the members of the
Legislative Body were assembled by virtue of Article XXXIII of the
constitution, for the session of the year X; that, being
provisionally organized, the sitting was opened; and that their names
were going to be called over, for the purpose of ascertaining the
number of members present, and for forming definitive arrangements,
by the nomination of a president and four secretaries.

The names were then called over alphabetically, and, after they were
all gone through, they were recalled.

This ceremony being terminated, four committees, each composed of
four members, whose names were drawn by lot by the President,
proceeded, in presence of the assembly, to scrutinize the ballot.

It thence resulted, that the number of members present was two
hundred and twenty-eight;

That Citizen DUPUIS was elected President by a majority of votes;

That Citizens DUBOSC, BORD, ESTAQUE, and CLAVIER were individually
elected, by a similar majority, to officiate as secretaries.

In consequence. Citizen DUPUIS was proclaimed President, and took the
chair. He then moved the following resolution, which was agreed to:

"The Legislative Body declares, that it is definitely constituted,
and decrees that the present declaration shall be carried to the
Conservative Senate, to the Tribunate, and to the Consuls of the
Republic, by a messenger of State."

The President next addressed the assembly in these words:

"Citizens Legislators,

"After twelve years of a painful and glorious struggle against all
Europe, in order to insure the triumph of the liberty of man and that
of nations, the moment is at length arrived when Peace is on the
point of crowning the efforts of the French people, and securing the
Republic on a foundation never to be shaken. For this peace, which
will unite by the bonds of friendship two great nations, already
connected by esteem, we are indebted to the valour and wisdom of the
heroic pacificator, to the wise administration of the government, to
the bravery of our invincible armies, to the good understanding
subsisting between all the constituted authorities, and, above all,
to that spirit of moderation which has known how to fix limits to
victory itself. The name of peace, so dear to the friend of human
nature, ought to impose silence on all malignant passions, cordially
unite all the children of the same country, and be the signal of
happiness to the present generation, as well as to our posterity.

"How gratifying is it to us, Citizens Legislators, after having
passed through the storms of a long revolution, to have at length
brought safely into port the sacred bark of the Republic, and to
begin this session by the proclamation of peace to the world, as
those who preceded us opened theirs by the proclamation of the Rights
of Man and that of the Republic! To crown this great work, nothing
more remains for us but to make those laws so long expected, which
are to complete social organization, and regulate the interests of
citizens. This code, already prepared by men of consummate prudence,
will, I hope, be soon submitted to your examination and sanction; and
the present session will be the most glorious epoch of our Republic:
for there is nothing more glorious to man than to insure the
happiness of his fellow-creatures, and scatter beforehand the first
seeds of the liberty of the world."

"_L'impression! L'impression!_" was the cry that instantly proceeded
from bench to bench on the close of this speech, which was delivered
in a manner that did honour to the President's feelings. But, though
you have it, as it were, at second-hand, and cannot be struck by
Citizen DUPUIS' manner, I hope you will deem the matter sufficiently
interesting to justify its insertion in this letter.

Three orators, deputed by the government, were next announced, and
introduced in form. They were habited in their dress of Counsellors
of State, that is, a scarlet coat, richly embroidered in shaded silks
of the same colour, over which they wore a tricoloured silk sash.

One of them, having ascended the tribune, and obtained leave to
speak, read an extract from the registers of the Council of State,
dated the 24th of Brumaire, purporting that the First Consul had
nominated the Counsellors of State, REGNIER, BERENGER, and DUMAS to
repair to the present sitting. Citizen REGNIER then addressed the
assembly in the name of the government. He read his speech from a
paper which he held in his hand. It began by announcing the signature
of the preliminaries of peace with England, and informed the
Legislative Body that measures had been taken by the government for
regulating the various branches of the interior administration and of
its intention to submit to them the civil code. It was replete with
language of a conciliating nature, and concluded with a wish that the
most unalterable harmony might subsist between the first authorities
of the State, and strengthen in the mind of the people the confidence
which they already testified.

From the tenour of this speech, I think it may be inferred that the
government is apprehensive of a difference of opinion respecting the
civil code; not so much in this place, for, by the constitution, the
lips of the deputies are sealed, but in the Tribunate, where a warm
discussion may be expected.

The President made a short and apt reply to the orators of the
government, who then retired with the same ceremony with which they
had entered. Both these speeches were ordered to be printed.

The Conservative Senate addressed to the Legislative Body, by a
message read by the President, the different acts emanated from its
authority since the last session. Ordered to be inserted in the
Journals. A few letters were also read by the President from
different members, excusing themselves for non-attendance on account
of indisposition. Several authors having addressed a copy of their
works to the Legislative Body, these presents were accepted, and
ordered to be placed in their library.

The administrative commission of the Legislative Body announced that
the ambassador of the Cisalpine Republic had sent a present of three
hundred medals, struck on occasion of the peace and of the _forum
Bonaparte_, which medals were distributed to the members.

The assembly the broke up, the next sitting being appointed for the
following day at noon.

Lord Cornwallis and suite sat in the box allotted to Foreign
Ministers, facing the President, as did the Marquis de Lucchesini,
the Prussian ambassador, and some others. A small box is likewise
appropriated to reporters, who take down the proceedings. The members
were all habited in their appointed dress, which consists of a dark
blue coat embroidered with gold, blue pantaloons and white waistcoat,
also embroidered, a tricoloured silk sash, worn above the coat, and
ornamented with a rich gold fringe. They wore a plain cocked hat,
with the national cockade, and short boots. This meeting of
legislators, all in the same dress, undoubtedly presents a more
imposing spectacle than such a variegated assemblage as is sometimes
to be seen in our House of Commons.

By the present constitution, you will see that no new law can be
promulgated, unless decreed by the Legislative Body.

The votes in this assembly being taken by ballot, and the laws being
enacted without any discussion, on the part of its members, on the
plans debated before it by the orators of the Tribunate and of the
government, it necessarily follows that the sittings present far less
interest to strangers, than would result from an animated delivery of
the opinion of a few leading orators.

Before I take leave of this palace, I must introduce you into the
suite of rooms formerly distinguished by the appellation of _petits
appartemens du Palais Bourbon_, and which, before the revolution,
constituted one of the curiosities of Paris.

In the distribution of these, BELISARD assembled all the charms of
modern elegance. The vestibule, coloured in French gray, contains, in
the intervals between the doors, figures of Bacchantes, and, in the
ceiling, wreaths of roses and other ornaments painted in imitation of
relief. The eating-room, which comes next, is decorated so as to
represent a verdant bower, the paintings are under mirrors, and
tin-plate, cut out in the Chinese manner, seems to shew light
through the foliage. In two niches, made in the arbour-work, in the
form of porticoes, which Cupids are crowning with garlands, are
placed two statues from the antique, the one representing Venus
_pudica_, and the other, Venus _callypyga_, or _aux belles fesses_:
mirrors, placed in the niches, reflect beauties which the eye could
not discover.

The drawing room, another enchanting place, is of a circular form,
surrounded with Ionic pillars. In the intercolumniations, are arches
lined with mirrors, and ornamented with the most tasteful hangings.
Under each arch is a sopha. The ceiling represents caryatides
supporting a circular gallery, between which are different subjects,
such as the Toilet of Venus, the Departure of Adonis, &c. Every thing
here is gallant and rich; but mark the secret wonder. You pull a
string; the ceiling rises like a cloud, and exhibits to view an
extensive sky, with which it becomes confounded. The music of an
invisible orchestra, placed above the ceiling, used to be heard
through the opening, and produced a charming effect, when
entertainments were given in these apartments.

This is not all. You pull another string; and, by means of concealed
machinery, the aperture of the three casements suddenly becomes
occupied by pannels of mirrors, so that you may here instantly turn
day into night. The bed-chamber, the _boudoir_, the study, &c., are
all decorated in a style equally elegant and tasteful.


_Paris, November 25, 1801._

Of all the public edifices in this capital, I know of none whose
interior astonishes so much, at first sight, and so justly claims
admiration, especially from those who have a knowledge of
architecture or mechanics, as the


This building is destined for the reception of corn and flour: it was
begun in 1762, on the site of the ancient _Hotel de Soissons_, which
was purchased by the city of Paris. In the space of three years, the
hall and the circumjacent houses were finished, under the direction
of the architect, CAMUS DE MEZIERE.

The circular form of this hall, the solidity of its construction, its
insulated position, together with the noble simplicity of its
decoration, perfectly accord with the intention and character of the
object proposed. Twenty-five arches, all of equal size, serve each as
an entrance. On the ground-floor are pillars of the Tuscan order,
supporting vast granaries, the communication to which is by two
stair-cases of well-executed design.

The court is covered by a cupola of one hundred and twenty feet in
diameter, forming a perfect semicircle, whose centre, taken on a
level with the cornice, is forty-four feet from the ground. The dome
of the Pantheon at Rome, which is the largest known, exceeds that of
the _Halle au Ble_ by thirteen feet only. This cupola is entirely
composed of deal boards, a foot in breadth, an inch in thickness, and
about four feet in length. It is divided into twenty-five lateral
openings, which give as many rays of light diverging from the
centre-opening, whose diameter is twenty-four feet. These openings
are all glazed, and the wood-work of the dome is covered with sheets
of tinned copper.

PHILIBERT DE L'ORME, architect to Henry II, was the original author
of this new method of covering domes, though he never carried it into
execution. As a homage for the discovery, MOLINOS and LEGRAND, the
architects of the cupola, have there placed a medallion with his
portrait. It is said that this experiment was deemed so hazardous,
that the builder could find no person bold enough to strike away the
shores, and was under the necessity of performing that task in
person. To him it was not a fearful one; but the workmen,
unacquainted with the principles of this manner of roofing buildings,
were astonished at the stability of the dome, when the shores were

No place in Paris could well be more convenient for giving a banquet
than the _Halle au Ble_; twelve or fourteen hundred persons might
here be accommodated at table; and little expense would be required
for decoration, as nothing can be more elegant than the cupola

Several periodical publications give a statement, more or less exact,
of the quantity of flour lodged in this spacious repository, which is
filled and emptied regularly every four or five days. But these
statements present not the real consumption of Paris, since several
bakers draw their supply directly from the farmers of the environs;
and, besides, a great quantity of loaves are brought into the capital
from some villages, famous for making bread, whose inhabitants come
and retail them to the Parisians.

The annual consumption of bread-corn in this capital has, on an
average, been computed at twenty-four millions of bushels. But it is
not the consumption only that it is useful to know: the most material
point to be ascertained, is the method of providing effectually for
it; so that, from a succession of unfavourable harvests, or any other
cause, the regular supplies may not experience even a momentary
interruption. When it is considered that Paris contains eight or nine
hundred thousand of the human race, it is evident that this branch of
administration requires all the vigilance of the government.

Bread is now reckoned enormously dear, nineteen _sous_ for the loaf
of four pounds; but, during the winter of 1794, the Parisians felt
all the horrors of a real famine. Among other articles of the first
necessity, bread was then so scarce, that long ranks of people were
formed at the doors of the bakers' shops, each waiting in turn to
receive a scanty portion of two ounces.

The consumption of flour here is considerably increased by the
immense number of dogs, cats, monkies, parrots, and other birds, kept
by persons of every class, and fed chiefly on bread and biscuit.

No poor devil that has not in his miserable lodging a dog to keep him
company: not being able to find a friend among his own species, he
seeks one in the brute creation. A pauper of this description, who
shared his daily bread with his faithful companion, being urged to
part with an animal that cost him so much to maintain: "Part with
him!" rejoined he; "who then shall I get to love me?"

Near the _Halle au Ble_, stands a large fluted pillar of the Doric
order, which formerly belonged to the _Hotel de Soissons_, and served
as an observatory to Catherine de Medicis. In the inside, is a
winding stair-case, leading to the top, whither that diabolical woman
used frequently to ascend, accompanied by astrologers, and there
perform several mysterious ceremonies, in order to discover futurity
in the stars. She wore on her stomach a skin of parchment, strewn
with figures, letters, and characters of different colours; which
skin she was persuaded had the virtue of insuring her from any
attempt against her person.

Much about that period, 1572, there were reckoned, in Paris alone, no
less than thirty thousand astrologers. At the present day, the
ambulating magicians frequent the _Old Boulevards_, and there tell
fortunes for three or four _sous_; while those persons that value
science according to the price set on it, disdaining these two-penny
conjurers, repair to fortune-tellers of a superior class, who take
from three to six francs, and more, when the opportunity offers. The
TROPHONIUS of Paris is Citizen Martin, who lives at N deg. 1773 _Rue
d'Anjou_: the PHEMONOE is Madame Villeneuve, _Rue de l'Antechrist_.

Formerly, none but courtesans here drew the cards; now, almost every
female, without exception, has recourse to them. Many a fine lady
even conceives herself to be sufficiently mistress of the art to tell
her own fortune; and some think they are so skilled in reading
futurity in the cards, that they dare not venture to draw them for
themselves, for fear of discovering some untoward event.

This rage of astrology and fortune-telling is a disease which
peculiarly affects weak intellects, ruled by ignorance, or afflicted
by adversity. In the future, such persons seek a mitigation of the
present; and the illusive enjoyments of the mind make them almost
forget the real sufferings of the body. According to Pope,

"Hope springs eternal in the human breast,
Man never _is_, but always _to be_ blest."

At the foot of the above pillar, the only one of the sort in Paris,
is erected a handsome fountain, which furnishes water from the Seine.
At two-thirds of its height is a dial of a singular kind, which marks
the precise hour at every period of the day, and in all seasons. It
is the invention of Father Pingre, who was a regular canon of St.
Genevieve, and member of the _ci-devant_ Academy of Sciences.

While we are in this quarter, let us avail ourselves of the moment;
and, proceeding from the _Halle au Ble_ along the _Rue Oblin_,
examine the


This church, which is one of the most spacious in Paris, is situated
at the north extremity of the _Rue des Prouvaires_, facing the _Rue
du Jour_. It was begun in 1532, but not finished till the year 1642.

Notwithstanding the richness of its architecture, it presents not an
appearance uniformly handsome, on account of the ill-combined mixture
of the Greek and Gothic styles: besides, the pillars are so numerous
in it, that it is necessary to be placed in the nave to view it to
the best advantage.

The new portal of _St. Eustache_, which was constructed in 1754, is
formed of two orders, the Doric and the Ionic, the one above the
other. At each extremity of this portal, rise two insulated towers,
receding from all the projection of the inferior order, and decorated
by Corinthian columns with pilasters, on an attic serving as a socle.
These two towers were to have been crowned by a balustrade; one alone
has been finished.

Several celebrated personages have been interred in this church.
Among them, I shall particularize one only; but that one will long
live in the memory of every convivial British seaman. Who has not
heard the lay which records the defeat of Tourville? Yes--

He who "on the main triumphant rode
To meet the gallant Russel in combat o'er the deep;"
Who "led his noble troops of heroes bold
To sink the English admiral and his fleet."

Though considered by his countrymen, as one of the most eminent
seamen that France ever produced, and enjoying at the time of his
death the dignity of Marshal, together with that of Vice-admiral of
the kingdom, Tourville never had an epitaph. He died on the 28th of
May 1701, aged 59.

Some of the monuments which existed here have been transferred to the
Museum in the _Rue des Petits Augustins_, where may be seen the
sarcophagus of Colbert, Minister to Lewis XIV, and the medallion of
Cureau de la Chambre, physician to that king, and also his
physiognomist, whom he is said to have constantly consulted in the
selection of his ministers. Among the papers of that physician there
still exists, in an unpublished correspondence with Lewis XIV, this
curious memorandum: "Should I die before his majesty, he would run a
great risk of making, in future, many a bad choice."

It is impossible to enter one of these sanctuaries without reflecting
on the rapid progress of irreligion among a people who, six months
before, were, on their knees, adoring the effigies which, at that
period, they were eager to mutilate and destroy. Iron crows and
sledge-hammers were almost in a state of requisition. In the
beginning, it was a contest who should first aim a blow at the nose
of the Virgin Mary, or break the leg of her son. In one day,
contracts were entered into with masons for defacing images which for
centuries, had been partly concealed under the dusty webs of
generations of spiders.

As for the statues within reach of swords and pikes, it was a
continual scene of amusement to the licentious to knock off the ear
of one angel, and scratch the face of another. Not an epitaph was
left to retrace the patriotic deeds of an upright statesman, or the
more brilliant exploits of a heroic warrior; not a memento, to record
conjugal affection, filial piety, or grateful friendship. The
iconoclasts proceeded not with the impetuous fury of fanatics, but
with the extravagant foolery of atheistical buffoons.

All the gold and silver ornaments disappeared: a great part of them
were dissolved in the crucibles of the mint, after having been
presented as a homage to the Convention, some of whose members danced
the _carmagnole_ with those who presented them at their bar, loaded
on the back of mules and asses, bedecked with all the emblems of
catholic worship; while several of the rubies, emeralds, &c. which
had formerly decorated the glory, beaming round the head of a Christ,
were afterwards seen glittering on the finger of the revolutionary

Chaumette, an attorney, was the man who proclaimed atheism, and his
example had many imitators. It seemed the wish of that impious being
to exile God himself from nature. He it was who imagined those
orgies, termed the festivals of reason. One of the most remarkable of
these festivals was celebrated in this very church of _St. Eustache_.

Although Mademoiselle Maillard, the singing heroine of the French
opera, figured more than once as the goddess of reason, that divinity
was generally personified by some shameless female, who, if not a
notorious prostitute, was frequently little better. Her throne
occupied the place of the altar; her supporters were chiefly drunken
soldiers, smoking their pipe; and before her, were a set of
half-naked vagabonds, singing and dancing the _carmagnole_.

"In this church," says an eye-witness, "the interior of the choir
represented a landscape, decorated with cottages and clumps of trees.
In the distance were mysterious bowers, to which narrow paths led,
through declivities formed of masses of artificial rock.

"The inside of the church presented the spectacle of a large
public-house. Round the choir were arranged tables, loaded with
bottles, sausages, pies, pates, and other viands. On the altars of
the lateral chapels, sacrifices were made to luxury and gluttony;
and the consecrated stones bore the disgusting marks of beastly

"Guests crowded in at all doors: whoever came partook of this
festival: children thrust their hands into the dishes, and helped
themselves out of the bottles, as a sign of liberty; while the speedy
consequences of this freedom became a matter of amusement to grown
persons in a similar state of ebriety. What a deplorable picture of
the people, who blindly obeyed the will of a few factious leaders!

"In other churches, balls were given; and, by way of shutting the
door in the face of modesty, these were continued during the night,
in order that, amidst the confusion of nocturnal revelry, those
desires which had been kindled during the day, might be freely
gratified under the veil of darkness.

"The processions which accompanied these orgies, were no less
attended with every species of atheistical frenzy. After feasting
their eyes with the sacrifice of human victims, the Jacobin faction,
or their satellites, followed the car of their impure goddess: next
came, in another car, a moving orchestra, composed of blind
musicians, a too faithful image of that Reason which was the object
of their adoration."

The state of France, at that period, proves that religion being
detached from social order, there remained a frightful void, Which
nothing could have filled up but its subsequent restoration. Without
religion, men become enemies to each other, criminals by principle,
and bold violators of the laws; force is the only curb that can
restrain them. The inevitable consequence is, that anarchy and rapine
desolate the face of the earth, and reduce it to a heap of misfortune
and ruin.


_Paris, November 27, 1801._

When we travel back in idea for the last ten years, and pass in
review the internal commotions which have distracted France during
that period, and the external struggle she has had to maintain for
the security of her independence, we cannot refuse our admiration to
the constancy which the French have manifested in forming
institutions for the diffusion of knowledge, and repositories of
objects tending to the advancement of the arts and sciences. In this
respect, if we except the blood-thirsty reign of Robespierre, no
clash of political interests, no change in the form or administration
of the government, has relaxed their ardour, or slackened their
perseverance. Whatever set of men have been in power, the arts and
sciences have experienced almost uninterrupted protection.

In the opinion of the French themselves, the GALLERY OF ANTIQUES, in
the CENTRAL MUSEUM OF THE ARTS, may claim pre-eminence over every
other repository of sculpture; but many persons may, probably, feel a
satisfaction more pure and unadulterated in viewing the


Here, neither do insignia of triumph call to mind the afflicting
scenes of war, nor do emblems of conquest strike the eye of the
travelled visiter, and damp his enjoyment by blending with it bitter
recollections. Vandalism is the only enemy from whose attacks the
monuments, here assembled, have been rescued.

This Museum, which has, in fact, been formed out of the wrecks of the
revolutionary storm, merits particular attention. Although it was not
open to the public, for the first time, till the 15th of Fructidor,
year III (2nd of September 1795), its origin may be dated from 1790,
when the Constituent Assembly, having decreed the possessions of the
Clergy to be national property, charged the _Committee of Alienation_
to exert their vigilance for the preservation of all the monuments of
the arts, spread throughout the wide extent of the ecclesiastical

The philanthropic LA ROCHEFOUCAULD, (the last Duke of the family), as
President of that committee, fixed on a number of artists and
literati to select such monuments as the committee were anxious to
preserve. The municipality of Paris, being specially entrusted, by
the National Assembly, with the execution of this decree, also
nominated several literati and artists of acknowledged merit to
co-operate with the former in their researches and labours. Of this
association was formed a commission, called _Commission des
Monumens_. From that epoch, proper places were sought for the
reception of the treasures which it was wished to save from
destruction. The _Committee of Alienation_ appointed the _ci-devant_
monastery of the _Petits Augustins_ for the monuments of sculpture
and pictures, and those of the _Capucins, Grands Jesuites,_ and
_Cordeliers_, for the books and manuscripts.

By these means, the monuments in the suppressed convents and churches
were, by degrees, collected in this monastery, which is situated in
the _Rue des Petits Augustins_, so named after that order of monks,
whose church here was founded, in 1613, by Marguerite de Valois,
first wife of Henry IV.

At the same period, ALEXANDRE LENOIR was appointed, by the
Constituent Assembly, director of this establishment. As I shall have
frequent occasion to mention the name of that estimable artist, I
shall here content myself with observing, that the choice did honour
to their judgment.

In the mean time, under pretext of destroying every emblem of
feudality, the most celebrated master-pieces were consigned to ruin;
but the commission before-mentioned opportunely published
instructions respecting the means of preserving the valuable articles
which they purposed to assemble.

The National Convention also gave indisputable proof of its regard
for the arts, by issuing several decrees in their favour. Its
_Committee of Public Instruction_ created a commission, composed of
distinguished literati and artists of every class, for the purpose of
keeping a watchful eye over the preservation of the monuments of the
arts. The considerable number of memoirs, reports, and addresses,
diffused through the departments by this learned and scientific
association, enlightened the people, and arrested the arm of those
modern Vandals who took a pleasure in mutilating the most admired
statues, tearing or defacing the most valuable pictures, and melting
casts of bronze of the most exquisite beauty.

Among the numerous reports to which these acts of blind ignorance
gave birth, three published by GREGOIRE, ex-bishop of Blois, claim
particular distinction no less on account of the taste and zeal which
they exhibit for the advancement of literature and the fine arts,
than for the invective with which they abound against the madness of
irreligious barbarism. This last stroke, aptly applied, was the means
of recovering many articles of value, and of preserving the monuments
still remaining in the provinces.

In these eventful times, LENOIR, the Conservator of the rising
museum, collected, through his own indefatigable exertions, a
considerable number of mausolea, statues, bas-reliefs, and busts of
every age and description. No sooner did a moment of tranquillity
appear to be reestablished in this country, than he proposed to the
government to place all these monuments in historical and
chronological order, by classing them, according to the age in which
they had been executed, in particular halls or apartments, and giving
to each of these apartments the precise character peculiar to each
century. This plan which, in its aggregate, united the history of the
art and that of France, by means of her monuments, met with general
approbation, and was accordingly adopted by the members of the

Thus, throughout this Museum, the architectural decorations of the
different apartments are of the age to which the monuments of
Sculpture, contained in each, belongs; and the light penetrates
through windows of stained glass, from the designs of RAPHAEL,
PRIMATICCIO, ALBERT DURER, LE SUEUR, &c., the production of the
particular century corresponding to that of the sculpture.

Come then, let us visit this Museum, and endeavour to discriminate
the objects which may be most interesting both to the artist and
historian. We first enter the


This apartment presents itself to our inquisitive looks, as a Hall of
Introduction, which may not be unaptly compared to the preface of a
grand work. Here we behold a crowd of monuments, arranged
methodically, so as to prepare our eyes for tracing the different
ages through which we have to travel.

We first remark those altars, worn by the hand of Time, on which the
trading Gauls of the ancient _Lutetia_, now Paris, sacrificed to the
gods in the time of Tiberius. Jupiter, Mars, Vulcan, Mercury, Venus,
Pan, Castor and Pollux, and the religious ceremonies here sculptured,
are sufficient to attest that the Parisians were then idolaters, and
followed the religion of the Romans, to whom they were become
tributary. The Inscriptions on each of these monuments, which are
five in number, leave no doubt as to their authenticity, and the
epoch of their erection.

These altars, five in number, are charged with bas-reliefs, and the
first of them is inscribed with the following words in Latin.

MAXSVMO (_aram_) M.

_Tiberius Caesar, having accepted or taken the name of Augustus, the
navigators (Nautae) belonging to the city of Paris, publicly
consecrated this altar to Jupiter the most great and most good._

In 1711, these monuments were dug up from the choir of the cathedral
of _Notre-Dame_, out of the foundations of the ancient church of
Paris, constructed by Childebert, on the ruins of a temple, formerly
dedicated to Isis, which he caused to be demolished. Near them we see
the great goddess of the Germans figure under the name of Nehalennia,
in honour of whom that people had erected a great number of
monuments, some of which were discovered in the year 1646, when the
sea retired from the island of Walcheren.

Capitals, charged with bas-reliefs, taken from a subterraneous
basilic, built by Pepin, have likewise been collected, and follow
those which I have just mentioned. Next comes the tomb of CLOVIS,
which exhibits that prince lying at length; he is humbling himself
before the Almighty, and seems to be asking him forgiveness for his
crimes. We likewise see those of CHILDEBERT and of the cruel
CHILPERIC. The intaglio, relieved by inlaid pieces of Mosaic, of
queen FREDEGOND, has escaped the accidents of twelve centuries. Just
Heaven! what powers have disappeared from the face of the earth since
that period! And to what reflections does not this image, still
existing of that impious woman, give birth in the mind of the
philosopher! CHARLEMAGNE, who was buried at Aix-la-Chapelle, seated
on a throne of gold, appears here, in a haughty attitude, with his
sword in his hand, still to be giving laws to the world!

As might naturally be supposed, most of these figures have suffered
much by the rude attacks of Time; but in spite of his indelible
impression, the unpolished hand of the sculptor is still
distinguishable, and betrays the degraded state of the arts during
the darkness of the middle ages. Let us pass into the


Here we shall remark arches in the Gothic style, supported by thick
pillars, according to the architecture of that period. Ornaments, in
the form of _culs-de-lampe_, terminate the centre of the arches,
which are painted in azure-blue, and charged with stars. When temples
were begun to be sheltered or covered, nations painted the inside of
the roof in this manner, in order to keep in view the image of the
celestial canopy to which they directed all their affections, and to
preserve the memory of the ancient custom of offering up sacrifices
to the divinity in the open air.

Here the statue of LEWIS IX, surnamed the Saint, is placed near that
of PHILIP, one of his sons, and of CHARLES, his brother, king of
Sicily, branded in history, by having, through his oppression, driven
his subjects into revolt, and caused the massacre of the French in
that island in 1277; a massacre well known by the name of the
_Sicilian vespers_.

It seems that it was the fashion, in those days, for kings themselves
to be bearers at funerals. We are told by St. Foix, that the body of
LEWIS, another son of the Saint, who died in 1662, aged 26, and whose
cenotaph is here, was first carried to St. Denis, and thence to the
abbey of Royaumont, where it was interred. "The greatest lords of the
kingdom," says he, "alternately bore the coffin on their shoulders,
and Henry III; king of England, carried it himself for a considerable
time, as feudatory of the crown."

PHILIP III, too, above-mentioned, having brought to Paris the remains
of his father from Tunis in Africa, carried them barefooted, on his
shoulders, to St. Denis. Wherever he rested by the way, towers were
erected in commemoration of this act of filial piety; but these have
been destroyed since the revolution.

The casements of this hall, in the form of ogives, are ornamented

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