Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

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

Part 7 out of 14

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.6 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

_traiteurs_; so that, in lieu of one title, they now possess two; and
this is the grand result of the primitive establishment.

At the head of the most noted _restaurateurs_ in Paris, previously to
the revolution, was LA BARRIERE in the _ci-devant Palais Royal_; but,
though his larder was always provided with choice food, his cellar
furnished with good wines, his bill of fare long, and the number of
his customers considerable, yet his profits, he said, were not
sufficiently great to allow him to cover his tables with linen. This
omission was supplied by green wax cloth; a piece of economy which,
he declared, produced him a saving of near 10,000 livres (_circa_
400L sterling) per annum in the single article of washing. Hence you
may form an idea of the extent of such an undertaking. I have often
dined at LA BARRIERE'S was always well served, at a moderate charge,
and with remarkable expedition. Much about that time, BEAUVILLIERS,
who had opened, within the same precincts, a similar establishment,
but on a more refined plan, proved a most formidable rival to LA
BARRIERE, and at length eclipsed him.

After a lapse of almost eleven years, I again find this identical
BEAUVILLIERS still in the full enjoyment of the greatest celebrity.
ROBERT and NAUDET in the _Palais du Tribunat_, and VERY on the
_Terrace des Feuillant_ dispute with him the palm in the art of
Apicius. All these, it is true, furnish excellent repasts, and their
wines are not inferior to their cooking: but, after more than one
impartial trial, I think I am justified in giving the preference to
BEAUVILLIERS. Let us then take a view of his arrangements: this, with
a few variations in price or quality, will serve as a general picture
of the _ars coquinaria_ in Paris.

On the first floor of a large hotel, formerly occupied, perhaps, by a
farmer-general, you enter a suite of apartments, decorated with
arabesques, and mirrors of large dimensions, in a style no less
elegant than splendid, where tables are completely arranged for large
or small parties. In winter, these rooms are warmed by ornamental
stoves, and lighted by _quinquets_, a species of Argand's lamps. They
are capable of accommodating from two hundred and fifty to three
hundred persons, and, at this time of the year, the average number
that dine here daily is about two hundred; in summer, it is
considerably decreased by the attractions of the country, and the
parties of pleasure made, in consequence, to the environs of the

On the left hand, as you pass into the first room, rises a sort of
throne, not unlike the _estrado_ in the grand audience-chamber of a
Spanish viceroy. This throne is encircled by a barrier to keep
intruders at a respectful distance. Here sits a lady, who, from her
majestic gravity and dignified bulk, you might very naturally suppose
to be an empress, revolving in her comprehensive mind the affairs of
her vast dominions. This respectable personage is Madame
BEAUVILLIERS, whose most interesting concern is to collect from the
gentlemen in waiting the cash which they receive at the different
tables. In this important branch, she has the assistance of a lady,
somewhat younger than herself, who, seated by her side, in stately
silence, has every appearance of a maid of honour. A person in
waiting near the throne, from his vacant look and obsequious
carriage, might, at first sight, be taken for a chamberlain; whereas
his real office, by no means an unimportant one, is to distribute
into deserts the fruit and other _et ceteras_, piled up within his
reach in tempting profusion.

We will take our seats in this corner, whence, without laying down
our knife and fork, we can enjoy a full view of the company as they
enter. We are rather early: by the clock, I perceive that it is no
more than five: at six, however, there will scarcely be a vacant seat
at any of the tables. "_Garcon, la carte_!"--"_La voila devant vous,

Good heaven! the bill of fare is a printed sheet of double _folio_,
of the size of an English newspaper. It will require half an hour at
least to con over this important catalogue. Let us see; Soups,
thirteen sorts.--_Hors-d'oeuvres_, twenty-two species.--Beef, dressed
in eleven different ways.--Pastry, containing fish, flesh and fowl,
in eleven shapes. Poultry and game, under thirty-two various forms.
--Veal, amplified into twenty-two distinct articles.--Mutton, confined
to seventeen only.--Fish, twenty-three varieties.--Roast meat, game,
and poultry, of fifteen kinds.--Entremets, or side-dishes, to the
number of forty-one articles.--Desert, thirty-nine.--Wines, including
those of the liqueur kind, of fifty-two denominations, besides ale
and porter.--Liqueurs, twelve species, together with coffee and ices.

Fudge! fudge! you cry--Pardon me, my good friend, 'tis no fudge. Take
the tremendous bill of fare into your own hand. _Vide et lege_. As we
are in no particular hurry, travel article by article through the
whole enumeration. This will afford you the most complete notion of
the expense of dining at a fashionable _restaurateur's_ in Paris.


_Anciennement a la grande Tavernede la Republique, Palais-Egalite,
No. 142, Presentement Rue de la LOI, No. 1243._



fr. s.
Potage aux laitues et petits pois 0 15
Potage aux croutons a la puree 0 15
Potage aux choux 0 15
Potage au consomme 0 12
Potage au pain 0 12
Potage de sante 0 12
Potage au vermicel 0 12
Potage au ris 0 12
Potage a la julienne 0 12
Potage printanier 0 15
Potage a la puree 0 15
Potage au lait d'amandes 0 15
Potage en tortue 1 10


Tranche de melon 1 0
Artichaud a la poivrade 0 15
Raves et Radis 0 6
Salade de concombres 1 10
Thon marine 1 10
Anchois a l'huile 1 5
Olives 0 15
Pied de cochon a la Sainte-Menehould 0 12
Cornichons 0 8
Petit sale aux choux 1 5
Saucisses aux choux 0 18
1 Petit Pain de Beurre 0 4
2 OEufs frais 0 12
1 Citron 0 8
Rissole a la Choisy 1 0
Croquette de volaille 1 4
3 Rognons a la brochette 1 0
Tete de veau en tortue 2 5
Tete de veau au naturel 1 0
1 Cotelette de porc frais, sauce robert 1 0
Chou-Croute garni 1 10
Jambon de Mayence aux epinards 1 5


fr. s.
Boeuf au naturel ou a la sauce 0 15
Boeuf aux choux ou aux legumes 0 18
Carnebif 1 10
Rosbif 1 5
Filet de Boeuf saute dans sa glace 1 5
Bifteck 1 5
Entre-cote, sauce aux cornichons 1 5
Palais de Boeuf au gratin 1 4
Palais de Boeuf a la poulette ou a l'Italienne 1 0
Langue de Boeuf glacee aux epinards 1 0
Jarrets de veau 0 15


Pate chaud de legumes 1 5
2 petits Pates a la Bechamel 1 4
2 petits Pates au jus 0 16
1 Pate chaud d'anguille 1 10
1 Pate chaud de cretes et de rognons de coqs 2 0
Tourte de godiveau 1 0
Tourte aux confitures 1 5
Vol-au-Vent de filets de volailles 2 0
Vol-au-Vent de Saumon frais 1 10
Vol-au-Vent de morue a la Bechamel 1 5
Vol-au-Vent de cervelle de veau a l'Allemande 1 5

(_Toutes les entrees aux Truffes sont de 15 de plus_).

fr. s.
Caille aux petits pois 2 10
Pigeon a la crapaudine 2 10
Chapon au riz, le quart 2 15
Chapon au gros sel, le quart 2 10
Demi-poulet aux Truffes ou aux Huitres 4 0
Fricassee de poulets garnie, la moitie 3 10
Fricassee de poulets, la moitie 3 0
Salade de volaille 3 0
Friteau de poulet, la moitie 3 0
Demi-poulet a la ravigotte ou a la tartare 3 0
Marinade de poulet, la moitie 3 0
Le quart d'un poulet a l'estragon ou a la creme ou
aux laitues 1 10
Blanquette de poularde 2 10
1 cuisse de poulet aux petits pois 2 0
1 cuisse de volaille au jambon 2 0
2 cotelettes de poulet 3 0
1 cuisse ou aile de poulet en papillote 1 10
1 cuisse de poulet a la Provencale 1 10
Ragout mele de cretes et de rognons de coqs 3 0
Capilotade de volaille 3 0
Filet de poularde au supreme 3 0
Mayonaise de volaille 3 0
Cuisses de Dindon grillees, sauce robert 3 0
Le quart d'un Canard aux petits pois ou aux navets 1 10
Foie gras en caisses ou en matelote
Perdrix aux choux, la moitie
Salmi de perdreau au vin de Champagne
Pigeons en compote ou aux petits pois 2 10
Bechamel de blanc de volaille 2 10
2 cuisses de poulet en hochepot 1 10
Ailerons de dinde aux navets 1 10
Blanc de volaille aux concombres 3 0


fr. s.
Riz de veau pique, a l'oseille ou a la chicoree 2 0
Riz de veau a la poulette 2 0
Fricandeau aux petits pois 1 5
Fricandeau a la chicoree 1 4
Fricandeau a la ravigotte 1 4
Fricandeau a l'oseille 1 4
Fricandeau a l'Espagnole 1 4
Cotelette de veau au jambon 1 4
Cotelette de veau aux petits pois 1 10
Cotelette de veau en papillotte 1 5
Cotelette de veau panee, sauce piquante 1 0
Cotelette de veau, sauce tomate 1 5
Blanquette de veau 1 0
Oreille de veau a la ravigotte 1 4
Oreille de veau farcie, frite 1 4
Oreille de veau frite ou en marinade 1 4
Cervelle de veau en matelote 1 4
Cervelle de veau a la puree 1 4
Tendons de veau panes, grilles, sauce piquante 1 4
Tendons de veau a la poulette 1 4
Tendons de veauen macedoine 1 5
Tendons de veau aux petits pois 1 5


Gigot de mouton braise, aux legumes 1 0
Tendons de mouton grilles 0 18
Tendons de mouton aux petits pois 1 5
Hachi de mouton a la Portugaise 1 0
2 Cotelettes de mouton a la minute 1 5
2 Cotelettes de mouton aux racines 1 5
2 Cotelettes de mouton au naturel 0 18
2 Cotelettes de pre 1 0
Epigramme d'agneau
2 Cotelettes d'agneau au naturel
Tendons d'agneau aux pointes d'asperges
Tendons d'agneau aux petits pois
Blanquette d'agneau
Filet de chevreuil 1 5
Cotelette de chevreuil
Queue de mouton a la puree 1 5
Queue de mouton a l'oseille ou a la chicoree 1 5


fr. s.
Merlan frit
Maquereau a la maitre d'hotel
Saumon frais, sauce aux capres 2 10
Raie, sauce aux capres ou au beurre noir 1 10
Turbot, sauce aux capres 2 10
Morue fraiche au beurre fondu
Morue d'Hol. a la maitre-d'hotel ou a la Provencale 1 10
Sole frite
Sole sur le plat 5 0
Eperlans frits
Matelote de carpe et d'anguille 2 0
Troncon d'anguille a la tartare 1 10
Carpe frite, la moitie 2 0
Perche du Rhin a la Vallesfiche
Goujons frits 1 5
Truite au bleu
Laitance de carpe
Moules a la poulette 1 5
Homard 3 0
Esturgeon 2 10


fr. s.
3 Mauviettes

Poularde fine 9fr. la moitie 4 10
Poulet Normand, 7fr. la moitie 3 10
Poulet gras, 6fr. la moitie 3 0
1 Pigeon de voliere 2 10
Perdreau rouge
Perdreau gris 3 10
Caneton de Rouen
Caille 2 0
Veau 1 0

Obergine 1 10


Gelee de citron 1 10
Concombres a la Bechamel 1 10
Laitues a jus 1 10
Petits pois a la Francaise ou a l'Anglaise 1 10
Haricots verts a la poulette ou a l'Anglaise 1 10
Haricots blancs a la maitre-d'hotel 0 18
Feves de marais 1 10
Artichaud a la sauce 1 10
Artichaud a la barigoul 1 10
Artichaud frit 1 5
Truffes au vin de Champagne
Truffes a l'Italienne
Croute aux truffes
Carottes 0 18
Epinards au jus 0 18
Chicoree au jus 1 5
Celeri au jus
Choux-fleurs a la sauce ou au parmesan 1 10
Macedoine de legumes 1 5
Pommes de terre a la maitre-d'hotel 0 18
Champignons a la Bordelaise 1 4
Croutes aux champignons 1 10
OEufs brouilles au jus 0 15
OEufs au beurre noir 1 0
Omelette aux fines herbes 0 15
Omelette aux rognons ou au jambon 1 0
Omelette au sucre ou aux confitures 1 5
Omelette soufflee 1 10
Beignets de pommes 1 10
Charlotte de pommes 1 10
Charlotte aux confitures 2 0
Riz souffle 1 10
Souffle aux pommes de terre 1 10
Le petit pot de creme 0 10
Macaroni d'Italie au parmesan 1 5
Fondu 1 4
Plumpuding 1 10
Eorevisses 2 0
Salade 1 0


fr. s.
Cerneaux 0 15
Raisins 1 5

Abricot 0 8
Peche 0 12
Prunes 0 3
Figue 0 5
Amandes 0 15
Noisettes 0 12
Pommes a la Portugaise
Poires 0 8
Compote de verjus epepine
Compote d'epine-vinette
Compote de poires 1 4
Compote de pommes
Compote de cerises 1 4
Nix Vert 0 10
Meringue 0 8
Compote de groseilles 1 4
Compote d'abricot 1 4
Compote de peche 1 4
Confitures 1 4
Cerises liquides 1 4
Marmelade d'abricots 1 10
Gelee de groseilles 1 4
Biscuit a la creme 1 8
Fromage a la creme 1 10
Fromage de Roquefort 0 10
Fromage de Viry 0 15
Fromage de Gruyere 0 8
Fromage de Neufehatel 0 5
Fromage de Clochestre ou Chester 0 10
Cerises a l'eau-de-vie 0 12
Prunes a l'eau-de-vie 0 12
Abricots a l'eau-de-vie
Peches a l'eau-de-vie


fr. s.
Clarette 6 0
Vin de Bourgogne 1 15
Vin de Chablis 2 0
Vin de Beaune 2 5
Vin de Mulsaux 3 0
Vin de Montrachet 3 10
Vin de Pomard 3 10
Vin de Volnay 3 10
Vin de Nuits 3 10
Vin de Grave 5 0
Vin de Soterne 5 0
Vin de Champagne mousseux 5 0
Vin de champagne, mousseux 4 0
Tisane de Champagne 3 10
Vin de Rose 5 0
Vin de Silery rouge 6 0
Vin de Silery blanc 6 0
Vin de Pierri 5 0
Vin d'Ai 5 0
Vin de Porto 6 0
Latour 6 0
Vin de Cote-Rotie 5 0

Vin du Clos Vougeot de 88 7 4
Clos St. Georges 6 0
Vin de Pomarel 6 0
Vin du Rhin 8 0
Vin de Chambertin 5 0
Vin de l'Hermitage rouge 5 0
Vin de l'Hermitage blanc 6 0
Vin dela Romanee 5 0
Ronflante Conti 8 0
Vin de Richebourg 5 0
Chevalier montrachet 6 0
Vin de Vone 5 0
Vin de Bordeaux de Segur 5 0
Vin de Bordeaux Lafite 5 0
Vin de Saint Emilion 5 0
Bierre forte ou porter 2 0
Bierre 0 10


fr. s.
Vin de Chereste, demi-bouteille 4 0
Vin de Malvoisie, _idem_ 4 0
Madere sec _id._ 4 0
Malaga 3 0
Alicante _id._ 3 0
Muscat 3 0
Le petit verre 0 10
Le petit verre 1 0


Anisette d'Hollande 0 15
Anisette de Bordeaux 0 12
Eau-de-vie d'Andaye 0 10
Fleur d'Orange 0 10
Cuirasseau 0 10
Rhum 0 10
Kirschewaser 0 10
Eau Cordiale de Coradon 0 15
Liqueurs des Isles 0 15
Marasquin 0 15
Eau-de-vie de Dantzick 0 15
Eau-de-vie de Coignac 0 8
Case, la tasse 12s. la demie 0 8
Glace 0 15

One advantage, well deserving of notice, of this bill of fare with
the price annexed to each article, is, that, when you have made up
your mind as to what you wish to have for dinner, you have it in your
power, before you give the order, to ascertain the expense. But,
though you see the price of each dish, you see not the dish itself;
and when it comes on the table, you may, perhaps, be astonished to
find that a pompous, big-sounding name sometimes produces only a
scrap of scarcely three mouthfuls. It is the mountain in labour
delivered of a mouse.

However, if you are not a man of extraordinary appetite, you may, for
the sum of nine or ten francs, appease your hunger, drink your bottle
of Champagne or Burgundy, and, besides, assist digestion by a dish of
coffee and a glass of liqueur. Should you like to partake of two
different sorts of wine, you may order them, and drink at pleasure of
both; if you do not reduce the contents below the moiety, you pay
only for the half bottle. A necessary piece of advice to you as a
stranger, is, that, while you are dispatching your first dish, you
should take care to order your second, and so on in progression to
the end of the chapter: otherwise, for want of this precaution, when
the company is very numerous, you may, probably, have to wait some
little time between the acts, before you are served.

This is no trifling consideration, if you purpose, after dinner, to
visit one of the principal theatres: for, if a new or favourite piece
be announced, the house is full, long before the raising of the
curtain; and you not only find no room at the theatre to which you
first repair; but, in all probability, this disappointment will
follow you to every other for that evening.

Nevertheless, ten or fifteen minutes are sufficient for the most
dainty or troublesome dish to undergo its final preparation, and in
that time you will have it smoking on the table. Those which admit of
being completely prepared beforehand, are in a constant state of
readiness, and require only to be set over the fire to be warmed.
Each cook has a distinct branch to attend to in the kitchen, and the
call of a particular waiter to answer, as each waiter has a distinct
number of tables, and the orders of particular guests to obey in the
dining-rooms. In spite of the confused noise arising from the gabble
of so many tongues, there being probably eighty or a hundred persons
calling for different articles, many of whom are hasty and impatient,
such is the habitual good order observed, that seldom does any
mistake occur; the louder the vociferations of the hungry guests, the
greater the diligence of the alert waiters. Should any article, when
served, happen not to suit your taste, it is taken back and changed
without the slightest murmur.

The difference between the establishments of the fashionable
_restaurateurs_ before the revolution, and those in vogue at the
present day, is, that their profession presenting many candidates for
public favour, they are under the continual necessity of employing
every resource of art to attract customers, and secure a continuance
of them. The commodiousness and elegance of their rooms, the
savouriness of their cooking, the quality of their wines, the
promptitude of their attendants, all are minutely criticized; and, if
they study their own interest, they must neglect nothing to flatter
the eyes and palate. In fact, how do they know that some of their
epicurean guests may not have been of their own fraternity, and once
figured in a great French family as _chef de cuisine_?

Of course, with all this increase of luxury, you must expect an
increase of expense: but if you do not now dine here at so reasonable
a rate as formerly, at least you are sumptuously served for your
money. If you wish to dine frugally, there are numbers of
_restaurateurs_, where you may be decently served with _potage_,
_bouilli_, an _entree_, an _entremet_, bread and desert, for the
moderate sum of from twenty-six to thirty _sous_. The addresses of
these cheap eating-houses, if they are not put into your hand in the
street, will present themselves to your eye, at the corner of almost
every wall in Paris. Indeed, all things considered, I am of opinion
that the difference in the expense of a dinner at a _restaurateur's_
at present, and what it was ten or eleven years ago, is not more than
in the due proportion of the increased price of provisions,
house-rent, and taxes.

The difference the most worthy of remark in these rendezvous of good
cheer, unquestionably consists in the company who frequent them. In
former times, the dining-rooms of the fashionable _restaurateurs_
were chiefly resorted to by young men of good character and
connexions, just entering into life, superannuated officers and
batchelors in easy circumstances, foreigners on their travels, &c. At
this day, these are, in a great measure, succeeded by stock-jobbers,
contractors, fortunate speculators, and professed gamblers. In
defiance of the old proverb, "_le ventre est le plus grand de tous
nos ennemis,_" guttling and guzzling is the rage of these upstarts.
It is by no means uncommon to see many of them begin their dinner by
swallowing six or seven dozen of oysters and a bottle of white wine,
by way of laying a foundation for a _potage en tortue_ and eight or
ten other rich dishes. Such are the modern parvenus, whose craving
appetites, in eating and drinking, as in every thing else, are not
easily satiated.

It would be almost superfluous to mention, that where rich rogues
abound, luxurious courtesans are at no great distance, were it not
for the sake of remarking that the former often regale the latter at
the _restaurateurs_, especially at those houses which afford the
convenience of snug, little rooms, called _cabinets particuliers_.
Here, two persons, who have any secret affairs to settle, enjoy all
possible privacy; for even the waiter never has the imprudence to
enter without being called. In these asylums, Love arranges under his
laws many individuals not suspected of sacrificing at the shrine of
that wonder-working deity. Prudes, whose virtue is the universal
boast, and whose austerity drives thousands of beaux to despair,
sometimes make themselves amends for the reserve which they are
obliged to affect in public, by indulging in a private _tete-a-tete_
in these mysterious recesses. In them too, young lovers frequently
interchange the first declarations of eternal affection; to them many
a husband owes the happiness of paternity; and without them the gay
wife might, perhaps, be at a loss to deceive her jealous Argus, and
find an opportunity of lending an attentive ear to the rapturous
addresses of her aspiring gallant.

What establishment then can be more convenient than that of a
_restaurateur_? But you would be mistaken, were you to look for
_cabinets particuliers_ at every house of this denomination, Here, at
BEAUVILLIERS', for instance, you will find no such accommodation,
though if you dislike dining in public, you may have a private room
proportioned to the number of a respectable party: or, should you be
sitting at home, and just before the hour of dinner, two or three
friends call in unexpectedly, if you wish to enjoy their company in a
quiet, sociable manner, you have only to dispatch your _valet de
place_ to BEAUVILLIERS' or to the nearest _restaurateur_ of repute
for the bill of fare, and at the same time desire him to bring
table-linen, knives, silver forks, spoons, and all other necessary
appurtenances. While he is laying the cloth, you fix on your dinner,
and, in little more than a quarter of an hour, you have one or two
elegant courses, dressed in a capital style, set out on the table. As
for wine, if you find it cheaper, you can procure that article from
some respectable wine-merchant in the neighbourhood. In order to save
trouble, many single persons, and even small families now scarcely
ever cook at home; but either dine at a _restaurateur's_, or have
their dinners constantly furnished from one of these sources of
culinary perfection.

But, while I am relating to you the advantages of these
establishments, time flies apace: 'tis six o'clock.--If you are not
disposed to drink more wine, let us have some coffee and our bill.
When you want to pay, you say: "_Garcon, la carte payante!_" The
waiter instantly flies to a person, appointed for that purpose, to
whom he dictates your reckoning. On consulting your stomach, should
you doubt what you have consumed, you have only to call in the aid of
your memory, and you will be perfectly satisfied that you have not
been charged with a single article too much or too little.

Remark that portly man, so respectful in his demeanour. It is
BEAUVILLIERS, the master of the house: this is his most busy hour,
and he will now make a tour to inquire at the different tables, if
his guests are all served according to their wishes. He will then,
like an able general, take a central station, whence he can command a
view of all his dispositions. The person, apparently next in
consequence to himself, and who seems to have his mind absorbed in
other objects, is the butler: his thoughts are, with the wine under
his care, in the cellar.

Observe the cleanly attention of the waiters, neatly habited in
close-bodied vests, with white aprons before them: watch the
quickness of their motions, and you will be convinced that no scouts
of a camp could be more _on the alert_. An establishment, so
extremely well conducted, excites admiration. Every spring of the
machine duly performs its office; and the regularity of the whole
might serve as a model for the administration of an extensive State.
Repair then, ye modern Machiavels, to N deg. 1243, _Rue de la Loi_; and,
while you are gratifying your palate, imbibe instruction from


* * * * *
* * * * *




A Sketch of the French Capital,






A correct Account of the most remarkable National Establishments and
Public Buildings.

In a Series of Letters,




* * * * *

Ipsa varietate tentamus efficere, ut alia aliis, quaedem fortasse
omnibus placeant. PLIN. Epist.

* * * * *





_Paris, December 23, 1801._

An establishment at once deserving of the attention of men of
feeling, particularly of those who, in cultivating literature, apply
themselves to the science of metaphysics and grammar; an
establishment extremely interesting to every one, the great
difficulties of which mankind had, repeatedly, in the course of ages,
endeavoured to encounter, and which had driven to despair all those
who had ventured to engage in the undertaking; an establishment, in a
word, which produces the happiest effects, and in a most wonderful
manner, is the


To the most religious of philanthropists is France indebted for this
sublime discovery, and the Abbe SICARD, a pupil of the inventor; the
Abbe de l'Epee, has carried it to such a degree of perfection, that
it scarcely appears possible to make any further progress in so
useful an undertaking. And, in fact, what can be wanting to a species
of instruction the object of which is to establish between the deaf
and dumb, and the man who hears and speaks, a communication like that
established between all men by the knowledge and practice of the same
idiom; when the deaf and dumb man, by the help of the education given
him, succeeds in decomposing into phrases the longest period; into
simple propositions, the most complex phrase; into words, each
proposition; into simple words, words the most complex: and when he
distinguishes perfectly words derived from primitives; figurative
words from proper ones; and when, after having thus decomposed the
longest discourse, he recomposes it; when, in short, the deaf and
dumb man expresses all his ideas, all his thoughts, and all his
affections; when he answers, like men the best-informed, all
questions put to him, respecting what he knows through the nature of
his intelligence, and respecting what he has learned, either from
himself or from him who has enlightened his understanding? What wish
remains to be formed, when the deaf and dumb man is enabled to learn
by himself a foreign language, when he translates it, and writes it,
as well as those of whom it is the mother-tongue?

Such is the phenomenon which the Institution of the deaf and dumb
presents to the astonishment of Europe, under the direction, or
rather under the regeneration of the successor of the celebrated Abbe
de l'Epee. His pupils realize every thing that I have just mentioned.
They write English and Italian as well as they do French. Nothing
equals the justness and precision of their definitions.

Nor let it be imagined that they resemble birds repeating the tunes
they have learned. Never have they been taught the answer to a
question. Their answers are always the effect of their good logic,
and of the ideas of objects and of qualities of beings, acquired by a
mind which the Institutor has formed from the great art of

This institution was far short of its present state of perfection at
the death of the celebrated inventor, which happened on the 23d of
December 1789. During the long career of their first father, the deaf
and dumb had been able to find means only to write, under the
dictation of signs, words whose import was scarcely known to them.
When endeavours were made to make them emerge from the confined
sphere of the first wants, not one of them knew how to express in
writing any thing but ideas of sense and wants of the first
necessity. The nature of the verb, the relations of tenses, that of
other words comprehended in the phrase, and which form the syntax of
languages, were utterly unknown to them. And, indeed, how could they
answer the most trifling question? Every thing in the construction of
a period was to them an enigma.

It was not long before the successor of the inventor discovered the
defect of this instruction, which was purely mechanical and acquired
by rote. He thought he perceived this defect in the _concrete_ verb,
in which the deaf and dumb, seeing only a single word, were unable to
distinguish two ideas which are comprehended in it, that of
affirmation and that of quality. He thought he perceived also that
defect in the expression of the qualities, always presented, in all
languages, out of the subjects, and never in the noun which they
modify; and, by the help of a process no less simple than ingenious
and profound, he has made the deaf and dumb comprehend the most
arduous difficulty, the nature of abstraction; he has initiated them
in the art of generalizing ideas by presenting to them the adjective
in the noun, as the quality is in the object, and the quality
subsisting alone and out of the object, having no support but in the
mind, for him who considers it, and but in the abstract noun for him
who reads the expression of it. He has, in like manner, separated the
verb from the quality in concrete verbs, and communicated to the deaf
and dumb the knowledge of the true verb, which he has pointed out to
them in the termination of all the French verbs, by reattaching to
the subject, by a line agreed on, its verbal quality. This line he
has translated by the verb _to be_, the only verb recognized by
philosophic grammarians.

These are the two foundations of this very extraordinary source of
instruction, and on which all the rest depend. The pronouns are
learned by nouns; the tenses of conjugation, by the three absolute
tenses of conjugation of all languages; and these, by this line, so
happily imagined, which is a sign of the present when it connects the
verbal quality and the subject, a sign of the past when it is
intersected, a sign of the future when it is only begun.

All the conjugations are reduced to a single one, as are all the
verbs. The adverbs considered as adjectives, when they express the
manner, and as substitutes for a preposition and its government, when
they express time or place, &c. The preposition represented as a mean
of transmitting the influence of the word which precedes it to that
which follows it; the articles serving, as in the English language,
to determine the extent of a common noun. Such is a summary of the
grammatical system of the Institutor of the deaf and dumb.

It is the metaphysical part, above all, which, in this institution,
is carried to such a degree of simplicity and clearness, that it is
within reach of understandings the most limited. And, indeed, one
ought not to be astonished at the rapid progress of the deaf and dumb
in the art of expressing their ideas and of communicating in writing
with every speaker, as persons absent communicate with each other by
similar means. In the space of eighteen months, a pupil begins to
give an account in writing of the actions of which he is rendered a
witness, and, in the space of five years, his education is complete.

The objects in which the deaf and dumb are instructed, are Grammar,
the notions of Metaphysics and Logic, which the former renders
necessary, Religion, the Use of the Globes, Geography, Arithmetic,
general notions of History, ancient and modern, of Natural History,
of Arts and Trades, &c.

These unfortunates, restored by communication to society, from which
Nature seemed to have intended to exclude them, are usefully
employed. One of their principal occupations is a knowledge of a
mechanical art. Masters in the most ordinary arts are established in
the house of the deaf and dumb, and every one there finds employment
in the art which best suits his inclination, his strength, and his
natural disposition. In this school, which is established at the
extremity of the _Faubourg St. Jacques_, is a printing-office, where
some are employed as compositors; others, as pressmen. In a
preparatory drawing-school they are taught the rudiments of painting,
engraving, and Mosaic, for the last of which there are two workshops.
There is also a person to teach engraving on fine grained stones, as
well as a joiner, a tailor, and a shoemaker. The garden, which is
large, is cultivated by the deaf and dumb. Almost every thing that is
used by them is made by themselves. They make their own bedsteads,
chairs, tables, benches, and clothes. The deaf and dumb females too
make their shirts, and the rest of their linen.

Thus their time is so taken up that, with the exception of three
hours devoted to moral instruction, all the rest is employed in
manual labour.

Such is this establishment, where the heart is agreeably affected at
the admirable spectacle which presents at once every thing that does
the most honour to human intelligence, in the efforts which it has
been necessary to make in order to overcome the obstacles opposed to
its development by the privation of the sense the most useful, and
that of the faculty the most essential to the communication of men
with one another, and the sight of the physical power employed in
seeking, in arts and trades, resources which render men independent.

But to what degree are these unfortunates deaf, and why are they

It is well known that they are dumb because they are deaf, and they
are more or less deaf, when they are so only by accident, in
proportion as the auditory nerve is more or less braced, or more or
less relaxed. In various experiments made on sound, some have heard
sharp sounds, and not grave ones; others, on the contrary, have heard
grave sounds, and not sharp ones.

All would learn, were it deemed expedient to teach them, the
mechanism of speech. But, besides that the sounds which they would
utter, would never be heard by themselves, and they would never be
conscious of having uttered them, those, sounds would be to those who
might listen to them infinitely disagreeable. Never could they be of
use, to them in conversing with us, and they would serve only to
counteract their instruction.

Woe be to the deaf and dumb whom it should be proposed to instruct by
teaching them to speak! How, in fact, can, the development of the
understanding be assisted by teaching them a mechanism which has no
object or destination, when the thought already formed in the mind,
by the help of signs which fix the ideas, restores not the mechanism
of speech?

Of this the Institutor has been fully sensible, and, although in his
public lessons, he explains all the efforts of the vocal instrument
or organ of the voice, and proves that he could, as well as any other
man, teach the deaf and dumb to make use of it, all his labour is
confined to exercising the instrument of thought, persuaded that
every thing will be obtained, when the deaf and dumb shall have
learned to arrange their ideas, and to think.

It is then only that the Institutor gives lessons of analysis. But,
how brilliant are they! You think yourself transported into a class
of logic. The deaf and dumb man has ceased to be so. A contest begins
between him and his master. All the spectators are astonished; every
one wishes to retain what is written on both sides. It is a lesson
given to all present.

Every one is invited to interrogate the deaf and dumb man, and he
answers to any person whatsoever, with a pen or pencil in his hand,
and in the same manner puts a question. He is asked, "What is Time?"
--"Time," says the dumb pupil, "is a portion of duration, the nature
of which is to be successive, to have commenced, and consequently to
have passed, and to be no more; to be present, and to be so through
necessity. Time," adds he, "is the fleeting or the future." As if in
the eyes of the dumb there was nothing real in Time but the future.
--"What is eternity?" says another to him--"It is a day without
yesterday, or to-morrow," replies the pupil.--"What is a sense?"--"It
is a vehicle for ideas."--"What is duration?"--"It is a line which
has no end, or a circle."--"What is happiness?"--"It is a pleasure
which never ceases."--"What is God?"--"The author of nature, the sun
of eternity."--"What is friendship?"--"The affection of the mind."
--"What is gratitude?"--"The memory of the heart."

There are a thousand answers of this description, daily collected at
the lessons of the deaf and dumb by those who attend them, and which
attest the superiority of this kind of instruction over the common
methods. Thus, this institution is not only, in regard to beneficence
and humanity, deserving of the admiration of men of feeling, it
merits also the observation of men of superior understanding and true
philosophers, on account of the ingenious process employed here to
supply the place of the sense of seeing by that of hearing, and
speech by gesture and writing.

I must not conceal from my countrymen, above all, that the
Institutor, in his public lessons, formally declares, that it is by
giving to the French language the simple form of ours, and
accommodating to it our syntax, he has been chiefly successful in
making the deaf and dumb understand that of their own country. I must
also add, that it is no more than a justice due to the Institutor to
say that, in the midst of the concourse of auditors, who press round
him, and who offer him the homage due to his genius and philanthropy,
he shews for all the English an honourable preference, acknowledging
to them, publicly, that this attention is a debt which he discharges
in return for the asylum that we granted to the unfortunate persons
of his profession, who, emigrating from their native land, came among
us to seek consolation, and found another home.

Should ever this feeble sketch of so interesting an institution reach
SICARD, that religious philosopher, who belongs as much to every
country in the world as to France, the land which gave him birth, he
will find in it nothing more than the expression of the gratitude of
one Englishman; but he may promise himself that as soon as the
definitive treaty of peace shall have reopened a free intercourse
between the two nations, the sentiments contained in it will be
adopted by all the English who shall witness the extraordinary
success of his profoundly-meditated labours. They will all hasten to
pay their tribute of admiration to a man, whose most gratifying
reward consists in the benefits which he has had the happiness to
confer on that part of his fellow-creatures from whom Nature has
withheld her usual indulgence.


_Paris, December 25, 1801._

Much has been said of the general tone of immorality now prevailing
in this capital, and so much, that it becomes necessary to look
beyond the surface, and examine whether morals be really more corrupt
here at the present day than before the revolution. To investigate
the subject through all its various branches and ramifications, would
lead me far beyond the limits of a letter. I shall therefore, as a
criterion, take a comparative view of the increase or decrease of the
different classes of women, who, either publicly or privately,
deviate from the paths of virtue. If we begin with the lowest rank,
and ascend, step by step, to the highest, we first meet with those
unfortunate creatures, known in France by the general designation of


Their number in Paris, twelve years ago, was estimated at thirty
thousand; and if this should appear comparatively small, it must be
considered how many amorous connexions here occupy the attention of
thousands of men, and consequently tend to diminish the number of
_public_ women.

The question is not to ascertain whether it be necessary, for the
tranquillity of private families, that there should be public women.
Who can fairly estimate the extent of the mischief which they
produce, or of that which they obviate? Who can accurately determine
the best means for bringing the good to overbalance the evil? But,
supposing the necessity of the measure, would it not be proper to
prevent, as much as possible, that complete mixture by which virtuous
females are often confounded with impures?

Charlemagne, though himself a great admirer of the sex, was of that
opinion. He had, in vain, endeavoured to banish entirely from Paris
women of this description; by ordering that they should be condemned
to be publicly whipped, and that those who harboured them, should
carry them on their shoulders to the place where the sentence was put
in execution. But it was not a little singular that, while the
emperor was bent on reforming the morals of the frail fair, his two
daughters, the princesses Gifla and Rotrude, were indulging in all
the vicious foibles of their nature.

Charlemagne, who then resided in the _Palais des Thermes_, situated
in the _Rue de la Harpe_, happened to rise one winter's morning much
earlier than usual. After walking for some time about his room, he
went to a window which looked into a little court belonging to the
palace. How great was his astonishment, when, by the twilight, he
perceived his second daughter, Rotrude, with Eginhard, his prime
minister, on her back, whom she was carrying through the deep snow
which had fallen in the night in order that the foot-steps of a man
might not be traced.

When Lewis the _debonnaire_, his successor, ascended the throne, he
undertook to reform these two princesses, whose father's fondness had
prevented him from suffering them to marry. The new king began by
putting to death two noblemen who passed for their lovers, thinking
that this example would intimidate, and that they would find no more:
but it appears that he was mistaken, for they were never at a loss.
Nor is this to be wondered at, as these princesses to a taste for
literature joined a very lively imagination, and were extremely
affable, generous, and beneficent; on which account, says Father
Daniel, they died universally regretted.

Experience having soon proved that public women are a necessary evil
in great cities, it was resolved to tolerate them. They therefore
began to form a separate body, became subject to taxes, and had their
statutes and judges. They were called _femmes amoureuses_, _filles
folles de leur corps_, and, on St. Magdalen's day, they were
accustomed to form annually a solemn procession. Particular streets
were assigned to them for their abode; and a house in each street,
for their commerce.

A penitentiary asylum, called _les Filles Dieu_, was founded at Paris
in 1226, and continued for some years open for the reception of
_female sinners who had gone astray, and were reduced to beggary_. In
the time of St. Lewis, their number amounted to two hundred; but
becoming rich, they became dissolute, and in 1483, they were
succeeded by the reformed nuns of Fontevrault.

When I was here in the year 1784, a great concourse of people daily
visited this convent in order to view the body of an ancient virgin
and martyr, said to be that of St. Victoria, which, having been
lately dug up near Rome, had just been sent to these nuns by the
Pope. This relic being exposed for some time to the veneration and
curiosity of the Parisian public, the devout wondered to see the fair
saint with a complexion quite fresh and rosy, after having been dead
for several centuries, and, in their opinion, this was a miracle
which incontestably proved her sanctity. The incredulous, who did not
see things in the same light, thought that the face was artificial,
and that it presented one of those holy frauds which have so
frequently furnished weapons to impiety. But they were partly
mistaken: the nuns had thought proper to cover the face of the saint
with a mask, and to clothe her from head to foot, in order to skreen
from the eyes of the public the hideous spectacle of a skeleton.

In 1420, Lewis VIII, with a view of distinguishing impures from
modest women, forbade the former to wear golden girdles, then in
fashion. This prohibition was vain, and the virtuous part of the sex
consoled themselves by the testimony of their conscience, whence the
old proverb: "_Bonne renommee vaut mieux que ceinture doree_."

Another establishment, first called _Les Filles penitentes ou
repenties_, and afterwards _Filles de St. Magloire_, was instituted
in 1497 by a Cordelier, and had the same destination. He preached
against libertinism, and with such success, that two hundred
dissolute women were converted by his fervent eloquence. The friar
admitted them into his congregation, which was sanctioned by the
Pope. Its statutes, which were drawn up by the Bishop of Paris, are
not a little curious. Among other things, it was established, that
"none should be received but women who had led a dissolute life, and
that, in order to ascertain the fact, they should be examined by
matrons, who should swear on the Holy Evangelists to make a faithful

There can be no doubt that women were well taken care of in this
house, since it was supposed that virtue even might assume the mask
of vice to obtain admission. The fact is singular. "To prevent girls
from prostituting themselves in order to be received, those who shall
have been once examined and refused, shall be excluded for ever.

"Besides, the candidates shall be obliged to swear, under penalty of
their eternal damnation, in presence of their confessor and six nuns,
that they did not prostitute themselves with a view of entering into
this congregation; and in order that women of bad character may not
wait too long before they become converted, in the hope that the door
will always be open to them, none will be received above the age of

This community, for some years, continued tolerably numerous; but its
destination had been changed long before the suppression of convents,
which took place in the early part of the revolution. All the places
of public prostitution in Paris, after having been tolerated upwards
of four hundred years, were abolished by a decree of the States
General, held at Orleans in 1560. The number of women of the town,
however, was far from being diminished, though their profession was
no longer considered as a trade; and as they were prohibited from
being any where, that is, in any fixed place, they were compelled to
spread themselves every where.

At the present day, the number of these women in Paris is computed at
twenty-five thousand: they are taken up as formerly, in order to be
sent into infirmaries, whence they, generally, come out only to
return to their former habits. Twelve years ago, those apprehended
underwent a public examination once a month, and were commonly
sentenced to a confinement, more or less long, according to the
pleasure of the minister of the police. The examination of them
became a matter of amusement for persons of not over-delicate
feelings. The hardened females, neither respecting the judge not the
audience, impudently repeated the language and gestures of their
traffic. The judge added a fortnight's imprisonment for every insult,
and the most abandoned were confined only a few months longer in the

Endeavours have since been made to improve the internal regulation of
this and similar houses of correction; but, as far as my information
goes, with little success. For want of separating, from the beginning
of their confinement, the most debauched from those whom a moment of
distress or error has thrown into these scenes of depravity, the
contamination of bad example rapidly spreads, and those who enter
dissolute, frequently come out thievish; while all timidity is
banished from the mind of the more diffident. Besides, it is not
always the most culpable who fall into the hands of the police, the
more cunning and experienced, by contriving to come to terms with its
agents, employed on these errands, generally escape; and thus the
object in view is entirely defeated.

On their arrival at the _Salpetriere_, the healthy are separated from
the diseased; and the latter are sent to _Bicetre_, where they either
find a cure or death. Your imagination will supply the finishing
strokes of this frightful picture.--These unfortunate victims of
indigence or of the seduction of man, are deserving of compassion.
With all their vices, they have, after all, one less than many of
their sex who pride themselves on chastity, without really possessing
it; that is, hypocrisy. As they shew themselves to be what they
really are, they cannot make the secret mischief which a detected
prude not unfrequently occasions under the deceitful mask of modesty.
Degraded in their own eyes, and being no longer able to reign through
the graces of virtue, they fall into the opposite extreme, and
display all the audaciousness of vice.

The next class we come to is that which was almost honoured by the
Greeks, and tolerated by the Romans, under the denomination of


By courtesans, I mean those ladies who, decked out in all the luxury
of dress, if not covered with diamonds, put up their favours to the
highest bidder, without having either more beauty or accomplishments,
perhaps, than the distressed female who sells hers at the lowest
price. But caprice, good fortune, intrigue, or artifice, sometimes
occasions an enormous distance between women who have the same views.

If the ancients made great sacrifices for the Phrynes, the Laises, or
the Aspasias of the day, among the moderns, no nation has, in that
respect, surpassed the French. Every one has heard of the luxurious
extravagance of Mademoiselle Deschamps, the cushion of whose
_chaise-percee_, was trimmed with point-lace of very considerable
value, and the harness of whose carriage was studded with paste, in
imitation of diamonds. This woman, however, lived to repent of her
folly; and if she did not literally die in a poorhouse, she at least
ended her days in wretchedness.

Before the revolution, of all the gay ladies in Paris, Madame
Grandval displayed the greatest luxury in her equipage; and
Mademoiselle D'Hervieux, in her house. I knew them both. The former I
have seen at Longchamp, as well as at the annual review of the king's
household troops, in a splendid coach, as fine as that of any Lord
Mayor, drawn by a set of eight English grays, which cost a hundred
and twenty guineas a horse. She sat, like a queen, adorned with a
profusion of jewels; and facing her was a _dame de compagnie_,
representing a lady of the bedchamber. Behind the carriage, stood no
less than three tall footmen, besides a chasseur, in the style of
that of the Duke of Gloucester, in rich liveries, with swords, canes,
and bags.

As for the house of Mademoiselle D'Hervieux, it was every thing that
oriental luxury, combined with French taste, could unite on a small
scale. Although of very low origin, and by no means gifted with a
handsome person, this lady, after having, rather late in life,
obtained an introduction on the opera-stage as a common _figurante_,
contrived to insinuate herself into the good graces of some rich
protectors. On the _Chaussee d'Antin_, they built for her this palace
in miniature, which, twelve years ago, was the object of universal
admiration, and, in fact, was visited by strangers as one of the
curiosities of Paris.

At the present day, one neither sees nor hears of such favourites of
fortune; and, for want of subjects to paint under this head, I must
proceed to those of the next rank, who are styled


What distinctions, what shades, what different names to express
almost one and the same thing! From the haughty fair in a brilliant
equipage, figuring, like a favourite Sultana, with "all the pride,
pomp, and circumstance" of the toilet, down to the hunger-pinched
female, who stands shivering in the evening at the corner of a
street, what gradations in the same profession!

Before the revolution, there were reckoned in Paris eight or ten
thousand women to whom the rich nobility or financiers allowed from a
thousand pounds a year upwards to an almost incredible amount. Some
of these ladies have ruined a whole family in the short space of six
months; and, having nothing left at the year's end, were then under
the necessity of parting with their diamonds for a subsistence.
Although many of them are far inferior in opulence to the courtesans,
they are less depraved, and, consequently, superior to them in
estimation. They have a lover, who pays, and from whom they, in
general, get all they can, at the same time turning him into
ridicule, and another whom, in their turn, they pay, and for whom
they commit a thousand follies.

These women used to have no medium in their attachments; they were
either quite insensible to the soft passion, or loved almost to
distraction. On the wane, they had the rage for marrying, and many of
them found men who, preferring fortune to honour, disgraced
themselves by such alliances. Some of these ladies, if handsome, were
not unfrequently taken by a man of fortune, and kept from mere
ostentation, just as he would sport a superlatively elegant carriage,
or ride a very capital horse; others were maintained from caprice,
which, like Achilles's spear, carried with it its own antidote; and
then, of course, they passed into the hands of different keepers. It
cannot be denied, however that a few of these connexions were founded
on attachment; and when the woman, who was the object of it, was
possessed of understanding, she assumed the manners and deportment of
a wife. Indeed, now and then a keeper adopted the style of oriental

Beaujon, the banker of the court, who had amassed an immense fortune,
indulged himself in his old age, and, till his death, in a society
composed of pretty women, some of whom belonged to what was then
termed good families, among which he had diffused his presents. In an
elegant habitation, called _la Chartreuse_, which he erected in the
_Faubourg du Roule_, as a place of occasional retirement, was a most
curious apartment, representing a bower, in the midst of which was
placed a bedstead in imitation of a basket of flowers: four trees,
whose verdant foliage extended over part of the ceiling, which was
painted as a sky, seemed to shade this basket, and supported drapery,
suspended to their branches. This was M. Beaujon's Temple of Venus.

The late Prince of Soubise, for some years, constantly kept ten or a
dozen ladies. The only intercourse he had with them, was to breakfast
or chat with them twice or thrice a month, and latterly he maintained
several old stagers, in this manner, from motives of benevolence. At
the end of the month, all these ladies came in their carriages at a
fixed hour, in a string, as it were, one after the other. The steward
had their money ready; they afterwards, one by one, entered a very
spacious room furnished with large closets, filled with silks,
muslins, laces, ribbands, &c. The prince distributed presents to
each, according to her age and taste: thus ended a visit of mere
ceremony, interspersed with a few words of general gallantry.

Such was the style in which many women were kept by men of fortune
under the old _regime_. At the present day, if we except twenty or
thirty perhaps, it would be no easy matter to discover any women
supported in a style of elegance in Paris, and the lot of these seems
scarcely secured but from month to month. The reason of this mystery
is, that the modern Croesuses having mostly acquired their riches in
a clandestine manner, they take every possible precaution to prevent
the reports in circulation concerning their ill-gotten pelf from
being confirmed by a display of luxury in their _cheres amies_. On
this account, many a matrimonial connexion, I am told, is formed
between them and women of equivocal character, on the principle, that
a man is better able to check the extravagant excesses of his wife
than those of his mistress.

We now arrive at that class of females who move in a sphere of life
the best calculated for making conquests. I mean


When a spectator, whose eyes are fascinated by the illusion of scenic
decorations, contemplates those beauties whose voluptuous postures,
under the form of Calypso, Eucharis, Delphis, &c. awaken desire in
the mind of youth, and even of persons of maturer years, he forgets
that the divinities before him are women, who not unfrequently lavish
their favours on the common herd of mortals. His imagination lends to
them a thousand secret charms which they possess not; and he cannot
be persuaded that they are not tremblingly alive to a passion which
they express with so much apparent feeling. It is in their arms only
that he discovers his error. To arrive at this point, many an
Englishman has sacrificed thousands of pounds; while his faithless
fair has been indulging in all the wantonness of her disposition,
perhaps, with some obscure Frenchman among the long train of her
humble admirers. Hence the significant appellation of _Milord
Pot-au-feu_, given to one who supports a woman whose favours
another enjoys _gratis_.

Such an opera-dancer used formerly to exhibit herself in a blaze of
jewels in the lobby, and according to the style in which she figured,
did she obtain respect from her companions. The interval between them
was proportioned to the degree of opulence which the one enjoyed over
the other, so that the richer scarcely appeared to belong to the same
profession as the poorer. To the former, every shopkeeper became a
candidate for custom; presents were heaped on presents, and gold was
showered on her in such a manner that she might, for the time, almost
have fancied herself a second Danae.

In the midst of this good fortune, perhaps, an obscure rival suddenly
started into fashion. She then was eclipsed by her whom, a few days
before, she disdained. Instead of a succession of visiters, her house
was deserted; and, at the expiration of the year, the proud fair,
awakened from her golden dream by the clamours of her importunate
creditors, found herself without one friend to rescue her valuables
from their rapacious gripe.

No wonder, then, that this order of things, (excepting the reverse by
which it was sometimes followed) was very agreeable to the great
majority of these capering beauties, and, doubtless, they wished its
duration. For, among the reports of the _secret_ police, maintained
by Lewis XVI, in 1792, it appears by a letter addressed to M. de
Caylus, and found among the King's papers in the palace of the
_Tuileries_, that most of the female opera-dancers were staunch
_aristocrates_; but that democracy triumphed among the women who sang
at that theatre. This little anecdote shews how far curiosity was
then stretched to ascertain what is called public opinion; and I have
no doubt that the result confirmed the correctness of the statement.

The opera-stage was certainly never so rich as it now is in
first-rate female dancers, yet the frail part of these beauties were
never so deficient, perhaps, in wealthy admirers. Proceeding to the
next order of meretricious fair, we meet with that numerous one


This is the name applied to those young girls who, being obliged to
subsist by their labour, chiefly fill the shops of milliners,
mantua-makers, and sellers of ready-made linen, &c.

The rank which ought to be assigned to them, I think, is between
opera-dancers and demireps. You may smile at the distinction; but, as
Mr. Tickle justly observes, in the Spectator, we should vary our
appellations of these fair criminals, according to circumstances.
"Those who offend only against themselves," says he, "and are not a
scandal to society; but, out of deference to the sober part of the
world, have so much good left in them as to be ashamed, must not be
comprehended in the common word due to the worst of women. Regard is
to be had to their situation when they fell, to the uneasy perplexity
in which they lived under senseless and severe parents, to the
importunity of poverty, to the violence of a passion in its beginning
well-grounded, to all the alleviations which make unhappy women
resign the characteristic of their sex, modesty. To do otherwise than
thus," adds he, "would be to act like a pedantic Stoic, who thinks
all crimes alike, and not as an impartial spectator, who views them
with all the circumstances that diminish or enhance the guilt."

If we measure them by this standard, _grisettes_ appear entitled to
be classed immediately below demireps; for, as Lear says of his

"-------- Not to be the worst
Stands in some rank of praise."

Their principal merit consists in their conducting themselves with a
certain degree of decorum and reserve, and in being susceptible of
attachment. Born in an humble sphere, they are accustomed from their
infancy to gain their livelihood by their industry. Like young birds
that feel the power of using their wings, they fly from the
parent-nest at the age of sixteen; and, hiring a room for themselves,
they live according to their means and fancy.

More fortunate in their indigence than the daughters of petty
tradesmen, they overleap the limits of restraint, while their charms
are in full lustre; and sometimes their happiness arises from being
born in poverty. In marrying an artisan of their own class, they see
nothing but distress and servitude, which are by no means compatible
with their spirit of independence. Vanity becomes their guide, and is
as bad a guide as distress; for it prompts them to add the resources
of their youth and person to those of their needle. This double
temptation is too strong for their weak virtue. They therefore seek a
friend to console them on Sundays for the _ennui_ of the remainder of
the week, which must needs seem long, when they are sitting close at
work from morning to night. In general, they are more faithful than
any of the other classes of the frail part of the sex, and may be
supported at little expense, and without scandal.

It would require almost the powers of the inquisition to ascertain
whether _grisettes_ have increased or diminished since the
revolution; but their number is, and always has been, immense in
Paris. An object highly deserving of the attention of the French
legislators would be to find a remedy for this evil. A mortal blow
should, no doubt, be struck at the luxury of the toilet; as the rage
for dress has, I am convinced, undermined the virtue of as many women
as the vile stratagems of all the Lotharios in being. Leaving these
matters to some modern Lycurgus, I shall end my letter. But, in my
eager haste to close it, I must not omit a class, which has increased
in a proportion equal to the decrease of kept women. As they have no
precise designation in France, I shall take the liberty of applying
to them, that of


Without having the shameless effrontery of vice, these ladies have
not the austere rigour of virtue. Seeing that professed courtesans
insnared the most promising youths, and snatched them from other
women, this description of females sprang up, in a manner, to dispute
with them, under the rose, the advantages which the others derived
from their traffic. If they have not the same boldness in their
carriage, their looks bespeak almost as much complaisance. They
declaim loudly against women of all the classes before-mentioned, for
the best possible reason; because these are their more dangerous
rivals. It is certain that a virtuous woman cannot hold the breach of
chastity too much in abhorrence, but every Lucretia ought to have "a
tear for pity," especially towards the fallen part of her sex.
Nothing can be more disgusting than to hear women, who are known to
have transgressed, forget their own frailties, and rail against the
more unguarded, and, consequently, more artless part of womankind,
without mercy or justice.

Demireps, in general, profess the greatest disinterestedness in their
connexions; but if they receive no money at the moment of granting
their favours, they accept trinkets and other presents which have
some value. It is not at all uncommon for a man to think that he has
a _bonne fortune_, when he finds himself on terms of intimacy with
such a woman. Enraptured at his success, he repeats his visits, till
one day he surprises his belle, overwhelmed by despair. He eagerly
inquires the cause. After much entreaty, she informs him that she has
had ill luck at play, and, with anguish in her looks, laments that
she is ruined beyond redemption. The too credulous admirer can do no
less than accommodate her secretly with a sufficient sum to prevent
her from being taken to task by her husband; and thus the
disinterested lady proves, in the end, a greater drain to the
gallant's pocket than the most mercenary courtesan.

The man who would wish to recommend himself to their favour, scarcely
need take any further trouble than to change some of their trinkets,
which are no longer in fashion. Sometimes he may meet with a husband,
who, conniving at his wife's infidelity, will shew him every mark of
attention. In that case, the lover is quite at home, and his presence
being equally agreeable to the obliging husband as to the kind wife,
when they are all three assembled, they seem to fit their several
places like the three sides of an equilateral triangle.

Since the revolution, the increase of demireps is said to have
diminished most sensibly the class of what are termed kept women.
Indeed, it is affirmed by some, that the number of the former has,
within these few years, multiplied in a tenfold proportion. Others
again maintain that it is no greater than it was formerly; because,
say they, the state of society in Paris is not near so favourable to
amorous intrigue as that which existed under the old _regime_. Riches
being more equally divided, few persons, comparatively speaking, are
now sufficiently affluent to entertain large parties, and give routs,
balls, and suppers, where a numerous assemblage afforded, to those
inclined to dissipation, every opportunity of cultivating an intimate
acquaintance. I must confess that these reasons, assigned by some
worthy Frenchmen whose opinions I respect, do not altogether accord
with the result of my observation; and, without taking on myself to
controvert them, I am persuaded that truth will bear me out in
asserting, that, if the morals of that class of society in which I
have chiefly mixed during the different periods of my stay in France,
are not deteriorated, they are certainly not improved since I last
visited Paris.

After having painted, in regular succession, and with colours
occasionally borrowed, the general portrait of all those classes of
females whose likeness every English traveller has, no doubt, met
with, I must find a little corner of my canvass for a small number of
women who might, probably, be sought in vain out of Paris. However
great a recommendation their rarity may be in the eyes of some, still
it is not the only quality that points them out to the notice of the
impartial observer.

When a man has come to his senses respecting the sex, or, according
to the vulgar adage, sown his wild oats, he naturally seeks a sincere
friend to whom he can unbosom himself with confidence. Experience
warns him that few men are to be trusted; and unless he has had the
good fortune to meet with a virtuous wife, blessed with an engaging
temper and a good understanding, he must even, like Junius, be the
depository of his own secret. In Paris, however, he may find one of
those scarce females, who, being accustomed early in life to
reflection, possess the firm mind of a man, combined with the quick
sensibility of a woman.

When the illusion of the first passions is dissipated, their reason
becomes unclouded. Renouncing every narrow thought, they raise
themselves to the knowledge of the most weighty affairs, and, by an
active observation of mankind, are accustomed to discriminate every
shade of character. Hence their penetration is great; and they are
capable of giving good advice on important occasions. In short, a
French woman at thirty makes an excellent friend, and, attaching
herself to the man she esteems, thinks no sacrifice too great for the
advancement of his interest, or the security of his happiness or

The friendship between man and woman is a thousand times more sweet
than that between one man and another. A woman's friendship is
active, vigilant, and at the same time tender. French women cherish
more sincerely their old friends than their young lovers. They may
perchance deceive the lover, but never the friend; the latter they
consider as a sacred being. Whence, no doubt, Rousseau (who has not
spared the Parisian ladies) has been led to say: "I would never have
sought in Paris a wife, still less a mistress; but I would willingly
have made there a female friend; and this treasure would, perhaps,
have consoled me for not finding the other two."


_Paris, December 27, 1801._

About thirty years ago, a public insult offered to human nature, in
the person of some unfortunate blind men belonging to the Hospital of
the _Quinze-vingts_, and repeated daily for the space of two months,
suggested to a spectator the idea of avenging it in a manner worthy
of a true philanthropist.

In a coffeehouse of the _Foire St. Ovide_, in Paris, were placed ten
blind beggars, muffled up in grotesque dresses and long pointed caps,
with large paste-board spectacles on their nose, without glass: music
and lights were set before them; and one of them was characterized as
Midas, with the ears of an ass, and the addition of a peacock's tail,
spread behind him. He sang, while all the others played the same
parts of a monotonous tune, without either taste or measure; and the
unfeeling public turned into derision the unfortunate actors in this
infamous scene. This happened in September 1771.

From that moment, M. VALENTIN HAUeY, brother to the celebrated
mineralogist of that name, animated by a noble enthusiasm, conceived
the project of teaching the blind to write and read, and of placing
in their hands books and music, printed by themselves. After
employing twelve years in maturing it, at length, in 1784, he
ventured to carry it into execution. To so laudable and benevolent a
purpose, he devoted all his fortune; and hence originated the
establishment known in Paris, since the year 1791, by the title of


Presently M. HAUeY found his plan seconded by the Philanthropic
Society, and the benefactions and advice of several persons, no less
distinguished for understanding than benevolence, contributed not a
little to encourage his zeal in its prosecution. The following were
the primary objects of the establishment.

1. To withdraw the blind from the dangerous paths of idleness.

2. To procure them certain means of subsistence by the execution of
pleasant and easy labours.

3. To restore them to society.

4. To console them for their misfortune.

To rescue the blind from idleness is, unquestionably, of itself a
great blessing, as it preserves them from an infinite number of
vices, and consequently must be approved by the moralist. But another
advantage, equally deserving of approbation, is to cause them to
find, in their labour, an infallible resource against indigence.
Previously to the execution of this beneficent plan, a young blind
child, born of poor parents, was reduced to the melancholy and
humiliating necessity of standing in a public thoroughfare, exposed
to all the inclemency of the weather, to beg its bread, and, at
present, it has no occasion to owe its livelihood but to its own

The children that M. HAUeY had to educate were, in general, of the
class of artisans, though a few belonged to that of artists and men
of science. Some were born with a little aptitude for mechanical
labours, others with a great disposition for the arts and sciences.
These considerations naturally pointed out to him his plan of
instruction, which is divided into four branches.

I. Handicraft work, viz. Spinning, knitting, making of cord, fringe,
trimming, ribband, pasteboard, &c.

Task-masters direct the execution of these works, which are as easy
to the blind as to the clear-sighted.

II. Education, viz. Reading, writing, arithmetic, geography,
literature, history, foreign languages, arts and sciences.

This education of blind children is carried on by means of
raised-work or relief, and is intrusted to other blind people
whose education is completed. The latter not only instruct their
unfortunate fellow-sufferers, but also the clear-sighted.

The sense of feeling is so refined in blind children, that a pupil, a
little informed, becomes perfectly acquainted with maps by handling
them: he points out with his finger countries and towns; if a map is
presented to him upside down, he places it in a proper manner, and if
one map is substituted to another, he instantly discovers the

III. Printing, viz. In black characters, for the public. In relief,
for themselves.

In black, they have printed no inconsiderable number of voluminous
works, for the use of the public. In relief, they have printed for
themselves a catechism, a grammar, and a great quantity of music. No
where but at this institution, and at the MUSEUM OF THE BLIND, of
which I shall presently speak, is there to be found an office for
printing in relief.

IV. Music, viz. Vocal and instrumental, and composition.

The music of the blind pupils has always been employed with the
greatest success in public festivals, playhouses, balls,
coffeehouses, and many public and private assemblies. It is
impossible to form an adequate idea of the decided taste of the blind
for music, and of the consolation which it affords them. Deprived of
their eyes, they seem to become all ears.

No sooner had M. HAUeY rendered public his first essays, than the
learned, and especially the members of the _ci-devant_ Academy of
Sciences, stamped them with their approbation, as appears by a Report
signed by some of the most distinguished of that body, such as
cultivated by his pupils, such as printing, music, &c. were equally
eager to acknowledge to what an astonishing degree the blind had
succeeded in appropriating to themselves the enjoyment of those arts.
Three of the first master-printers in Paris certified the
intelligence and skill of the blind pupils; and a concert was
executed by them to the no small satisfaction of the _ci-devant_
Academy of Music.

Persons of every degree now wished to be spectators of the result of
these essays. Lewis XVI sent for the Industrious Blind, their
machinery, &c. to Versailles; he visited them when at work, and
inspected their several performances, attended by all the royal
family, princes of the blood, ministers, ambassadors, &c. After
having procured the inhabitants of that town this interesting sight
for several successive days, he rewarded the blind with marks of his
favour and encouragement.

The government, which succeeded to the monarchy, shewed no less
interest in the progress of M. HAUeY'S undertaking. The different
legislatures, which have successively governed France, promoted it by
various decrees. In proportion as the number of the pupils increased,
so did the resources of their industrious activity. By a law which
was solicited by M. HAUeY, and which excited and kept up a singular
emulation among his pupils, the blind, in preference to the
clear-sighted of equal merit, were admitted to the various secondary
employments of the establishment. From that period, the first blind
pupils, formed by M. HAUeY, being promoted to the functions of
teachers, transmitted with success to young blind children, sent for
instruction, from different parts of the Republic, the first elements
of education given them by himself and assistants. By virtue of this
law, the office of house-steward was intrusted to LESUEUR, a blind
pupil who had already discharged it with credit at a banker's. It
will scarcely be believed, no doubt, that a blind man can be a
cashier, receive money coming in, either from the public treasury, or
from the industry of his brothers in misfortune; make of it a
suitable division; buy commodities necessary for life and clothing;
introduce the strictest economy into his disbursements; by means of
his savings, procure the establishment the implements and machinery
of the Industrious Blind; in times of real scarcity, make use of the
productions of the labour of the grown blind, to maintain the young
blind pupils, and that, with all these concerns on his hands, his
accounts should always be ready for inspection.

M. HAUeY informs me that out of fifteen or twenty of his old pupils,
whom he has connected by the ties of marriage, ten or twelve are
fathers; and that they have children more fortunate than the authors
of their days, since the enjoy the benefit of sight. But the most
interesting part of these connexions is, that the blind father (on
the principle of the plan before-stated) teaches his clear-sighted
son reading, arithmetic, music, and every thing that it is possible
to teach without the help of the eyes.

Raised work, or relief, is the simple and general process by means of
which M. HAUeY forms his pupils, and there are a great number of them
whose abilities would excite the pride of many a clear-sighted
person. For instance, in addition to the before-mentioned LESUEUR,
who is an excellent geographer and a good mathematician, might be
quoted HUARD, a man of erudition and a correct printer; likewise
CAILLAT, a capital performer on the violin, and a celebrated
composer. For vocal and instrumental music, printing, and handicraft
work, there might be noticed thirty or forty, as well as ten or
twelve for knowledge relating to the sciences.

It may not be improper to observe, that M. HAUeY always first puts a
frame into the hands of his pupils, and that he has made a law, to
which he scrupulously adheres, not to lean too much towards the
_agreeable_ arts, unless the pupil manifest for them a peculiar

Hence you may form an idea of the proficiency which these
unfortunates attain under the auspices of the benevolent M. HAUeY. In
the compass of a letter, or even of several letters, it is impossible
to develope proceedings which it is more easy to put into execution
than to describe. The process alone of printing in relief would
require a vast number of pages, and some plates, in order to make it
perfectly intelligible; but the greater part of what composes these
branches of instruction is amply detailed in a work, which I shall
communicate to you, entitled "_Essai sur l'Education des Aveugles_,
_par_ Valentin Hauey, _auteur de la maniere de les instruire_,"
printed under the sanction of the _ci-devant_ Academy of Sciences.

By a law on public education, passed in July 1796, several
establishments were to be founded in favour of blind children, in the
principal towns of the Republic; but, in consequence of the political
changes which have since occurred in the government, it has never
been carried into execution.

In October, 1800, the Consuls decreed that the _National Institution
of the Industrious Blind_ should be united to the Hospital of the
_Quinze-vingts_, together with the soldiers who had lost their sight
in Egypt. M. HAUeY is shortly to be honoured by a pension, as a reward
for the services which he has bestowed on those afflicted with
blindness. At the present moment, he is engaged in founding a second
establishment, of a similar nature, which is to take the name of


On my asking M. HAUeY, whether he would not retire, as it was intended
he should, on his pension? "This favour of the government," replied
he, "I consider as a fresh obligation, silently imposed on me, to
continue to be of service to the blind. The first establishment,
supported and paid by the nation, belonged to the poor. In forming
the second," added he, "I have yielded to the wishes of parents in
easy circumstances, who were desirous of giving to their blind
children a liberal education."

I have already mentioned, that, agreeably to M. HAUeY'S plan, the
blind instruct the clear-sighted; and in this Museum, which is
situated _Rue Sainte Avoie, Hotel de Mesme, No. 19_, the former are
to be seen directing a class of fifty youths, whom they instruct in
every branch before-mentioned, writing excepted. It is also in
contemplation to teach a blind pupil _pasigraphy_, or universal
language, invented by DEMAIMIEUX.

M. HAUeY details to strangers every part of his plan with the most
patient and obliging attention. When he had concluded, I could not
avoid expressing a wish that the art of instructing the blind in the
fullest extent might be speedily introduced among all nations. "After
having paid to my country," rejoined M. HAUeY, "the merited homage of
my invention, my anxiety to contribute to the relief of the
afflicted, wherever they may be found, gives birth to the desire of
propagating, as much as possible, an institution which enlightened
men and philanthropists have been pleased to recommend to the
attention of foreigners and to the esteem of my countrymen, as may be
seen by consulting different literary publications from the year 1785
down to the present time, particularly the new French Encyclopaedia,
at the article _Aveugle_."

"I should," added he, "perform a task very agreeable to my feelings
in concurring, by my advice and knowledge, to lay in England the
foundation of an establishment of a description similar to either of
those which I have founded in Paris. One of my pupils in the art of
instructing the blind, M. GRANCHER, a member of several learned
societies in France, and possessed of my means and method, would
voluntarily devote his talents and experience to the success of such
an undertaking, to which he is himself strongly attached through
philanthropy and zeal for my reputation."--"I am persuaded,"
interrupted I, "that were the advantages of such an establishment
made public in England, it would receive the countenance and support
of every friend of human nature."--"It is an unquestionable fact,"
concluded M. Hauey, "that an institution of fifty blind, well
conducted, ought, by their labour, to produce more than would defray
its expenses. I have already even tried with success to apply to the
English tongue my method of reading, which is so contrived for the
French language, that I need not give more than two or three lessons
to a blind child, in order to enable him to teach himself to read,
without the further help of any master."


_Paris, December 29, 1801._

Such a crowd of different objects present themselves to my mind,
whenever I sit down to write to you, that, frequently as I have
visited the Grand French Opera since my arrival here, I have been
hesitating whether I should make it the subject of this letter.
However, as it is one of the first objects of attraction to a
stranger, and the first in a theatrical point of view, I think you
cannot be too soon introduced to a knowledge of its allurements. Let
us then pass in review the


Previously to the revolution, the French opera-house, under the name
of _Academie Royale de Musique_, was situated on the Boulevard, near
the _Porte St. Martin_. Except the facade, which has been admired,
there was nothing very remarkable in the construction of this
theatre, but the dispatch with which it was executed.

The old opera-house in the _Palais Royal_ having been burnt down on
the 8th of June 1781, M. LENOIR, the architect, built a new one in
the short space of sixty days, and, within a fortnight after, it was
decorated and opened. Had an hospital been reduced to ashes, observes
an able writer, it would have required four years at least to
determine on the eligibility of new plans.--But a theatre,
constructed with such expedition, excited apprehensions respecting
its stability: it was necessary to remove them, and, by way of
_trying the house_, the first representation was given _gratis_. This
had the desired effect: after having sustained the weight of between
two and three thousand market-women, oyster-wenches, shoe-blacks,
chimney-sweepers, porters, &c, it was deemed sufficiently solid to
receive a more refined audience.

At the beginning of the year 1793, the interior of this quickly-built
theatre was also destroyed by fire. But the opera experienced no
interruption: such an event would be regarded as a public calamity in
the capital. In fact, this expensive establishment affords employ to
a vast number of persons. The singers, dancers, musicians,
machinists, painters, tailors, dress-makers, scene-shifters, &c.
attached to it, would constitute a little nation. The richness and
variety of the dresses give activity to several branches of trade,
and its representations involve all the agreeable arts. These united
attractions captivate foreigners, and induce them to squander
considerable sums of money in the country. Hence, were the
opera-house shut up, commerce would suffer; there would be an
absolute void in the pleasures of the Parisians; and, as experience
proves, these volatile people would sooner resign every thing most
valuable than any portion of their amusements. Besides, without such
an establishment, the talents of singers and dancers could not be
maintained in their present perfection. It holds out to them constant
encouragement and remuneration; while, compared to any other theatre,
it excites in the spectators a greater number of pleasing sensations.
How then could it be dispensed with?

Accordingly, when the disaster befell the theatre of the _Porte St.
Martin_, it was considered as a fortunate circumstance that the
present opera-house was just finished. The performers of the
_ci-devant Academie de Musique_ immediately established themselves
in this new asylum, which is situated in the _Rue de la Loi_, facing
the National Library, and opened it to the public under the name of
_Theatre des Arts_. I must observe, by the way, that, in France, all
players, dancers, musicians, and every one who exercises an art, are
now styled _artistes_.

The form of this house is nearly a parallelogram: one of the shorter
sides is occupied by the stage, and the other three are slightly
curved. In general, one is ill placed here, except in the boxes in
front of the stage, and in the pit, the seats of which rise abruptly,
in the manner of an amphitheatre, from the orchestra to the first
tier of boxes. The Chief Consul has chosen for himself the stage-box,
as I believe we term it in England, on the right hand of the actors.
It is elegantly decorated with scarlet velvet, embroidered in gold.
The ornaments (I am not speaking of the scenery) are neither of
superlative elegance, nor do they display extraordinary taste. The
curtain, however, is majestic and beautiful, as well as the ceiling.

"Here," says a French author, "arts, graces, genius, and taste
conspire to produce a most magnificent, a most brilliant, and most
enchanting spectacle. Here heroes come to life again to sing their
love and their despair; here many a goddess is seen to mix with
mortals, many a Venus to descend from the radiant Olympus in order to
throw herself into the arms of more than one Anchises."--Certainly,
if splendid decorations, rich and appropriate dresses, the most
skilful machinists, the most distinguished composers, a numerous and
most select orchestra, some excellent actors, together with the most
celebrated dancers in Europe, of both sexes, constitute a brilliant
spectacle, this justly deserves that title. In these magnificent
arrangements, we see again the Grand French Opera, as it appeared in
the most splendid days of the monarchy. With the exception of the
singing, every other department at this theatre is much improved; the
only drawback that I can discover at the representation of the same
pieces, which I have often seen here before the revolution, consists
in the exterior of the spectators. Between the acts, when I transport
myself in idea to the former period, and, looking round the house,
form a comparison, I find the republican audience far less brilliant,
owing, no doubt, to the absence of that glare of diamonds,
embroidery, lace, and other finery, which distinguished the
frequenters of the opera under the old government.

The performances at the opera being, in general, more calculated for
charming the eyes and ears, than gratifying the understanding, it is,
consequently, the most frequented of any of the capital.

"-------- With the many
Action is eloquence, and th' eyes of th' ignorant
More learned than their ears."

There is, however, no piece represented at this theatre that a
stranger ought not to see, either on account of the music, or of the
spectacle and its decorations. The operas, or lyric tragedies, which,
from the number of times they have been performed, appear to have
obtained the greatest success, are those of GLUCK. The originality,
the energy, the force and truth of declamation of this great musician
were likely to render him successful, especially among the French,
who applauded the two last-mentioned qualities on their other
national theatre.

With the exception of one only, all the works of GLUCK have remained
as stock-pieces, and are played from time to time. They are five in
number; namely, _Iphigenie en Aulide_, _Iphigenie en Tauride_,
_Orphee et Euridice_, _Armide_, and _Alceste_. That which could not
maintain its ground, and consequently fell, was _Narcisse_. The
flimsiness of the poem was the cause; for the music, I am assured, is
the finest that GLUCK ever composed, and several pieces of it have
been repeatedly performed in the Parisian concerts.

The _Didon_ of PICCINI and the _OEdipe a Colonne_ of SACCHINI have
had no less success than the operas of GLUCK. They are very
frequently represented.

It may not, perhaps, be unseasonable to remind you that, from twenty
to twenty-five years ago, when the old operas of LULLI and RAMEAU
were laid aside, and replaced by modern works, two parties were
formed, which, from the name of the musician that each adopted, were
called, the one, _Gluckists_; and the other, _Piccinists_. Their
inveteracy was great, somewhat like that which, forty years before,
existed between the _Molinists_ and _Jansenists_: and few persons, if
any, I believe, remained neuter. Victory seems to have crowned the
former party. Indeed the music of GLUCK possesses a melody which is
wonderfully energetic and striking. PICCINI is skilful and brilliant
in his harmony, as well as sweet and varied in his composition; but
this style of beauty has been thought to be deficient in expression.
Truth obliges me to say, that, of PICCINI'S works, no opera is now
played but his _Didon_, and that his other productions, which, to the
best of my recollection, are _Alys_, an opera called _Iphigenie en
Tauride_, and _Penelope_, have fallen. This was ascribed to the
mediocrity of the language; a part of an opera somewhat essential,
though no great attention seems to be bestowed on it. But if people
here are not very difficult as to the style of the language, they
require at least an action well conducted and interesting. When the
piece is of itself cold, it is not in the power of the finest music
to give it warmth. The _OEdipe a Colonne_ of SACCHINI is reckoned by
many persons the _chef-d'oeuvre_ of operas. That able musician has
there excelled in all that is graceful, noble, and pathetic; but it
exhibits not the tragic fire that is to be found in the works of
GLUCK. SACCHINI has left behind him another composition, called
_Arvire et Eveline_, which, though a cold subject, taken from the
history of England, is held in estimation.

At this theatre are also performed what the French term _operas de
genre_. These are a species of comic opera, in which is introduced a
great deal of show and bustle. _Panurge_, _La Caravanne_, _Anacreon_,
_Tarare_, _Les Pretendus_, _Les Mysteres d'Isis_, &c. are of this
description. The music of the first three is by GRETRY. It is
considered as replete with grace, charm, and truth of expression. The
poem of _Panurge_ is an _estravaganza_. Those of the _Caravanne_ and
of _Anacreon_ are but indifferent. It required no small share of
talent to put words into the mouth of the charming poet, whose name
is given to the last-mentioned piece; but M. GUY appears not to have
thought of this. _Tarare_ is a tissue of improbabilities and
absurdities. The poem is frequently nothing but an assemblage of
words which present no meaning. It is a production of the celebrated
BEAUMARCHAIS, who has contrived to introduce into it a sort of
impious metaphysics, much in fashion here before the revolution. The
music is by SALIERI; it is very agreeable. The decorations are
brilliant and diversified. The piece is preceded by a prologue (which
no other opera has) representing the confusion and separation of the
elements; and at the time of its first appearance, I remember it was
said that chaos was the image of the author's head.

_Les Pretendus_ is a piece in one act, the plot of which is weak,
though of a gay cast. The music is charming. It is by LE MOYNE, who
died a few years ago, at an early period of life. _Les Mysteres
d'Isis_, which is now the rage, is an incoherent parody from a German
opera, called _the Enchanted Flute_. To say that the music is by
MOZART, dispenses me from any eulogium. The decorations are extremely
beautiful and varied: a scene representing paradise is really

After speaking of lyric tragedies, I should have mentioned those
which are either in rehearsal, or intended to be brought forward at
this theatre. They consist of _Hecube_, _Andromaque_, _Semiramis_,
and _Tamerlan_. Although none of them are spoken of very highly, they
will, in all probability, succeed in a certain degree; for a piece
scarcely ever has a complete fall at the opera. This theatre has so
many resources in the decorations, music, and dancing, that a new
piece is seldom destitute of something worth seeing.

What, at the present day, proves the greatest attraction to the
opera, is the dancing. How bad soever may be a piece, when it is
interspersed with fine ballets, it is sure of having a certain run.
Of these I shall say no more till I come to speak of that department.

The weakest part of the performances at the opera is the singing. All
are agreed as to the mediocrity of the singers at this theatre,
called _lyric_. No one can say that, within the last ten or twelve
years, they are improved. To any person fond of the Italian style, it
would be a sort of punishment to attend while some of the singers
here go through a scene. On the stage of the French comic opera, it
has been adopted, and here also a similar change is required; but
with the will to accomplish it, say its partisans, the means,
perhaps, might still be wanting. The greater part of the old
performers have lost their voice, and those who have not, do not
appear to have sufficiently followed the progress of modern taste to
be able all at once to embrace a new manner.

The first singer at the opera, in point of talent, is LAIS. He even
leaves all the others far behind him, if we consider him only as a
singer. He is a _tenore_, according to the expression of the
Italians, and a _taille_, according to that of the French: in the
_cantabile_ or graceful style, he is perfect; but he ought to avoid
tragic pieces requiring exertion, in which his voice, though
flexible, is sometimes disagreeable, and even harsh. Besides, he is
absolutely deficient in nobleness of manner; and his stature and
countenance are better suited to low character. Indeed, he chiefly
performs in the operas termed here _operas de genre_, such as
_Panurge_, _La Caravanne_, _Anacreon_, and _Les Pretendus_. In these,
his acting is correct, and his delivery judicious.

LAIS is no less famous for the violence of his political opinions
than for his talents as a singer. At the period when the abettors of
the reign of terror were, in their turn, hunted down, for a long time
he durst not appear on the stage. He was accused by his brother
performers of having said that the opera would never go on well till
a guillotine should be placed on the stage. This stroke was levelled
against the greater part of the actors and the musicians belonging to
the orchestra. However, as LAIS could not be reproached with any
culpable _actions_, he found zealous defenders, and the public
sacrificed their resentment to their pleasure. This lenity appears
not to have had on him the effect which one would imagine. He still
possesses every requisite for singing well, but seems indifferent as
to the means of pleasing, and exerts himself but little.

If singers were esteemed by seniority, and perhaps by employment,
LAINEZ would be reckoned the first at this theatre. He is a
counter-tenor, and performs the parts of a lover. His voice is very

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest