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Title: Old and New Paris, v. 2 - Its History, its People, and its Places
Author: Edwards, Henry Sutherland, 1828-1906
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: ON THE CHAMPS ÉLYSÉES.]



                           OLD AND NEW PARIS

                Its History, its People, and its Places

                                   BY

                         H. SUTHERLAND EDWARDS

AUTHOR OF “IDOLS OF THE FRENCH STAGE” “THE GERMANS IN FRANCE” “THE RUSSIANS
                           AT HOME” ETC. ETC.

                                VOL. II

                     _WITH NUMEROUS ILLUSTRATIONS_


                      CASSELL AND COMPANY LIMITED

                       _LONDON PARIS & MELBOURNE_

                                  1894

                          ALL RIGHTS RESERVED



CONTENTS.


CHAPTER I.

STREET CHARACTERS. PAGE

The “Cocher”--The Bus-driver--The Private Coachman--The Hackney
Coachman--The Public Writer--The Flower-girl--The Oyster-woman.....1


CHAPTER II.

THE ENGLISH AND AMERICANS IN PARIS.

The Englishman Abroad--M. Lemoinne’s Analysis--The Englishwoman--Sunday
in London and in Paris--Americans in Paris--The American Girl.....9


CHAPTER III

MORE PARISIAN TYPES.

The Spy--Under Sartines and Berryer--Fouché--Delavau--The Present
System--The Écuyère--The Circus in Paris.....17


CHAPTER IV.

THE DOMESTIC.

The French Servant, as described by Léon Gozlan and by Mercier--The Cook
and the Cordon Bleu--The Valet.....20


CHAPTER V.

PARISIAN CHARACTERISTICS.

Parisian Characteristics--Gaiety, Flippancy Wit--A String of Favourite
Anecdotes.....24


CHAPTER VI.

THE STREETS.

The Arrangement of the Streets--System of Numbering the Houses--Street
Nomenclature--Street Lamps--The Various Kinds of Vehicles in Use.....28


CHAPTER VII.

THE SEINE AND ITS BRIDGES.--THE MORGUE. The Various Bridges over the
Seine--Their Histories--The Morgue--Some Statistics.....33


CHAPTER VIII.

THE REFORMATION IN PARIS.

D’Étaples, the Pioneer of the Reformation--Nicolas Cop and
Calvin--Progress of the Reformation--Persecutions--Catharine de
Médicis--St. Bartholomew’s--The Edict of Nantes.....36


CHAPTER IX.

THE UNIVERSITY OF PARIS AND THE COLLEGE OF FRANCE.

The French Educational System--Lycées and Collèges--The University of
Paris--The College of France.....44


CHAPTER X.

THE SORBONNE.

Robert de Sorbonne--The Sorbonne, its Origin and History--Richelieu--The
Revolution--The New Sorbonne--Mercier’s Views.....49


CHAPTER XI.

THE INSTITUTE.

The Institute--Its Unique Character--The Objects of its Projectors--Its
Constitution.....53


CHAPTER XII.

THE ACADÉMIE FRANÇAISE.

The Académie Française--Its Foundation by Richelieu--Its
Constitution--The “Forty-first Chair”.....55

CHAPTER XIII.

THE PANTHÉON.

The Church of Clovis--The Church of Sainte-Geneviève--France in the
Thirteenth Century--The Building of the New Church under Louis
XV.--Mirabeau and the Constituent Assembly--The Church of
Sainte-Geneviève becomes the Panthéon......59


CHAPTER XIV.

THE POLYTECHNIC SCHOOL.

The “Central School of Public Works”--Bonaparte and the Polytechnic--The
College of Navarre--Formal Inauguration in 1805--1816--1830.....67


CHAPTER XV.

THE HÔTEL CLUNY.

The Rue des Carmes--Comte de Mun and the Catholic Workmen’s Club--The
Place Maubert--The Palais des Thermes--The Hôtel Cluny--Its History--Its
Art Treasures.....71


CHAPTER XVI.

THE MUSÉE D’ARTILLERIE.

The Museum of Artillery--Its Origin and History--The Growth of its
Collection of Armour and Weapons of all Kinds.....83


CHAPTER XVII.

THE VAL DE GRÂCE--RELICS OF THE GREAT.

The Deaf and Dumb Institution--The Val de Grâce--Hearts as Relics--Royal
Funerals--The Church of Saint-Denis.....89


CHAPTER XVIII.

THE CATACOMBS: THE OBSERVATORY.

Origin of the Catacombs--The Quarries of Mont Souris--The
Observatory--Marshal Ney--The School of Medicine.....99


CHAPTER XIX.

THE ODÉON: THE LUXEMBURG PALACE.

The Odéon--Its History--Erection of the Present Building in 1799--Marie
de Médicis and the Luxemburg Palace--The Judicial Annals of the
Luxemburg--Trials of Fieschi and Louvel--Trial of Louis Napoleon--Trial
of the Duc de Praslin.....109


CHAPTER XX.

THE PRISONS OF PARIS.

La Santé--La Roquette--The Conciergerie--The
Mazas--Sainte-Pélagie--Saint-Lazare--Prison Regulations.....131


CHAPTER XXI.

THE PARIS ZOO.

The Jardin des Plantes--Its Origin and History--Under Buffon--The Museum
of Natural History--The Tobacco Factory.....147


CHAPTER XXII.

SOME HISTORICAL BUILDINGS.

Abailard and Héloise--Fulbert’s House in the Rue des Chantres--The
Philip Augustus Towers--The Hôtel Barbette--The Hôtel de Sens.....156


CHAPTER XXIII.

THE MONT-DE-PIÉTÉ.

“Uncle” and “Aunt”--Organisation of the Mont-de-Piété--Its Various
Branches--Its Warehouses and Sale-rooms.....160


CHAPTER XXIV.

PARIS MARKETS.

The Halles-Centrales--The Cattle Markets--Agriculture in France--The
French Peasant.....166

CHAPTER XXV.

SAINT-GERMAIN-DES-PRÉS.

Its Origin and History--Its Library--Its Organ--Saint-Sulpice.....170


CHAPTER XXVI.

PRINTING IN PARIS--THE CENSORSHIP.

Rue Visconti--Historical Buildings--The National School of Roads and
Bridges--The Introduction of Printing into Paris--The First Printing
Establishments--The Censorship.....174


CHAPTER XXVII.

THE HÔTEL DES INVALIDES.

A Glance at its History--Louis XIV. and Mme. de Maintenon--The
Pensioners--Their Characteristics and Mode of Life.....185


CHAPTER XXVIII.

SOME MORE PARIS HOSPITALS.

The French Hospital System--The Laënnec Hospital--The Houses of
Assistance--The Quinze-Vingts--Deaf and Dumb Institutions--The Abbé de
l’Épée--La Charité.....193


CHAPTER XXIX.

LUNATIC ASYLUMS AND MIXED INSTITUTIONS.

The Treatment of Lunacy in the Past--La Salpêtrière--Bicêtre--The Story
of Latude--The Four Sergeants of La Rochelle--Pinel’s
Reforms--Charenton.....207


CHAPTER XXX.

THE RIVER BIÈVRE AND THE MANUFACTORY OF THE GOBELINS.

The Brothers Gobelin--Lebrun--The Gobelins under Louis XIV.--At the Time
of the Revolution--The Manufactory of Sèvres.....225


CHAPTER XXXI.

THE PALAIS BOURBON.

The Palais Bourbon--Its History--The National Convention--Philippe
Égalité.....231


CHAPTER XXXII.

SOME HISTORICAL RESIDENCES.

The Palace of the Legion of Honour--The Ministry of War--The Rue de
Grenelle--Talleyrand.....236


CHAPTER XXXIII.

THE RUE TARANNE AND DIDEROT.

Diderot’s Early Life in Paris--His Love Affairs--Imprisonment in the
Château de Vincennes--Diderot and Catherine II. of Russia--His
Death.....242


CHAPTER XXXIV.

MONSEIGNEUR AFFRE AND THE INSURRECTION OF JUNE.

The Courtyard of the Dragon--The National Workshops--The Insurrection of
June--Monseigneur Affre Shot at the Barricade of the Faubourg St.
Antoine.....247


CHAPTER XXXV.

SOME OCCUPANTS OF MONTPARNASSE.

The Boulevard Montparnasse--The Cemetery--Father Loriquet--Hégésippe
Moreau--Sainte-Beuve.....250


CHAPTER XXXVI.

SPORTS AND DIVERSIONS.

Le “Sport”--Longchamps--Versailles Races--Fontainebleau--The
Seine--Swimming Baths--The Art of Book-collecting.....254

CHAPTER XXXVII.

FENCING SCHOOLS.

Fencing in France--A National Art--Some Extracts from the Writings of M.
Legouvé, One of its Chief Exponents--The Old Style of Fencing and the
New.....257


CHAPTER XXXVIII.

PETTY TRADES.

Petty Trades--Their Origins--The Day-Banker--The Guardian Angel--The
Old-Clothesman--The Claque--Its First Beginning and Development.....259


CHAPTER XXXIX.

OBSOLETE PARIS SHOPS.

The Old Wooden Stalls of Forty Years Ago--The “Lucky Fork”--The Cobbler’
Shops--The Old Cafés.....265


CHAPTER XL.

THE PARIS PRESS.

French Governments and the Press--The Press under Napoleon--Some Account
of the Leading Paris Papers--The _Figaro_.....268


CHAPTER XLI.

FROM THE QUAI VOLTAIRE TO THE PANTHÉON.

The Quai Voltaire--Its Changes of Name--Voltaire--His Life in Paris
and Elsewhere--His Remains laid in the
Panthéon--Mirabeau--Rousseau--Vincennes.....273


CHAPTER XLII.

THE PALAIS MAZARIN AND THE RUE MAZARINE.

The Institute or Palais Mazarin--The Rue Mazarine--L’Illustre
Théâtre--Molière--The Theatre Français--The Odéon--Heine--The Faubourg
Saint-Germain--Historical Associations.....288


CHAPTER XLIII.

THE PARIS RIVER AND PARIS COMMERCE.

The Society of the Water-Merchants of Paris--The Navigation of the
Seine--The Paris Slaughter-Houses--Records of Famine in France--The Lot
of the French Peasant in the Last Century--The Paris Food Supply.....307


CHAPTER XLIV.

THE BARRIERS--PARISIAN CRIME.

The Approaches to Paris--The French Railway System--The St. Germain
Railway--The Erection of the Barriers--Some of the most famous
Barriers--Parisian Crime--Its Special Characteristics.....317


CHAPTER XLV.

PARISIAN MENDICANCY--THE PARIS POOR.

Parisian Mendicancy in the Sixteenth Century--The General
Hospital--Louis XV. and the Beggars--The Revolution--Mendicancy as a
Regular Profession--The Organ-grinders and the Trade in Italian
Children--The French Treatment of the Poor--Asylums, Almshouses, and
Retreats--The _Droit des Pauvres_--The Cost of the Poor.....324


CHAPTER XLVI.

VERSAILLES.

Derivation of the Name--Saint-Simon’s Description--Louis XIV.--The Grand
Fête of July, 1668--Peter the Great and the Regent--Louis XV.--Marie
Antoinette and the “Affair of the Necklace”--The Events of October,
1789.....338


CHAPTER XLVII.

VERSAILLES AND THE SIEGE OF PARIS.

The Advance on Paris--Preparations for the Siege--General Trochu--The
Francs-Tireurs--The Siege.....348


CHAPTER XLVIII.

VERSAILLES AND THE COMMUNE.

The Communists or Communards--The “Internationale”--Bismarck and the
National Guard--The Municipal Elections--The Insurrection--Thiers--Paris
during the Commune--Concluding Remarks.....355



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.


                                                                    PAGE

On the Champs Élysées                                      _Frontispiece_

Outside a Railway Station in Paris                                     1

Waiting for a Fare                                                     3

Omnibus Coachman                                                       4

Private Coachman                                                       4

Hackney Coachman                                                       5

Hearse Coachman                                                        5

An Invitation to a “Petit Verre”                                       6

Street Scene                                                           8

In the Avenue du Bois de Boulogne at Night                             9

In the Flower Market                                                  13

After the Theatre                                                     16

At the Salon                                                          17

A Fair                                                                21

A Café Chantant                                                       24

Parisian Types--In the Barracks                                       25

Parisian Types--In Search of Cigar-ends                               29

A Paris Omnibus                                                       31

Street Scene                                                          32

Eastern End of Île de la Cité                                _facing_ 33

Austerlitz Bridge                                                     35

On the Saint-Martin Canal                                             36

The Solferino Bridge, from the Quai d’Orsay                           37

The National Bridge                                                   40

The Right Arm of the Seine from Boulevard
Henri IV                                                              41

The College of France                                                 44

The Lycée Voltaire                                                    45

The Lycée Charlemagne                                                 47

The Lycée Condorcet                                                   48

The Court of the Sorbonne                                             49

Façade of the New Sorbonne                                            51

The Church of the Sorbonne                                            52

The Dome of the Panthéon, Spire of St. Étienne du
Mont, and Tour de Clovis                                              57

The Panthéon, from the Luxemburg Gardens                              60

Place du Panthéon                                                     61

Well in the Courtyard, Cluny Museum                          _facing_ 65

Interior of the Panthéon                                              65

Library of Sainte-Geneviève                                           68

St. Stephen-of-the-Mount                                              69

Interior of Church of St. Stephen-of-the-Mount                        70

The Chapel of the Ancient College of the Lombards                     72

Place Maubert, with the Statue of Étienne Dolet                       73

Patrons of the Chateau Rouge                                          75

Rue de Bièvre                                                         75

Ruins of the Palais des Thermes                                       76

Entrance to the Cluny Museum, Rue du Sammerard                        77

Staircase, Cluny Museum                                               80

Dormer Windows at the Cluny Museum                                    81

Group of Shafted Weapons in the Artillery Museum                      84

Decorated Spanish Cannon in the Artillery Museum                      85

Decorated Muskets in the Artillery Museum                             85

The Deaf and Dumb Institution                                         89

Elm Tree in the Court of Honour at the Deaf and
Dumb Institution                                                      92

Statue of the Abbé de l’Épée at the Deaf and Dumb
Institution                                                           93

The Val de Grâce from the Rue de la Santé                             96

View from the Pont de la Concorde                            _facing_ 97

Entrance to the Observatory                                          100

The Gardens of the Observatory, Boulevard Arago                      101

Place de l’Observatoire                                              104

School of Drawing, Rue l’École de Médecine                           105

Statue of Marshal Ney                                                105

School of Medicine                                                   107

New Wing of the School of Medicine                                   107

Hôtel du Cheval Blanc                                                108

Rue de l’Odéon                                                       109

Rue de l’Ancienne Comédie                                            109

Odéon Theatre                                                        111

The Luxemburg Palace: the Garden Façade                              112

The Luxemburg Palace from the Terrace                                112

The Senate Chamber                                                   113

Entrance Court, Luxemburg Palace                                     115

Grand Avenue, Luxemburg Gardens                                      115

Sculpture Gallery, Luxemburg Palace                                  116

Salle des Fêtes, Luxemburg Palace                                    117

The Central Fountain, Luxemburg Gardens                              119

Façade of the Ancient Chapel of the Daughters of
Calvary, Luxemburg                                                   120

Listening to the Band in the Luxemburg Gardens                       121

The Marie de Médicis Grotto and Fountain                             124

Back of the Marie de Médicis Fountain                                125

Fremiel-Carpeaux Fountain, Luxemburg Gardens                         126

The Luxemburg Museum                                                 128

The Hôtel de Sens                                           _facing_ 129

The Mineralogical Museum                                             129

Prison of La Santé                                                   132

Inside the Walls of La Santé                                         132

The Common Quarter, La Santé--“The Parlour”                          133

Interior of La Santé                                                 135

Gaolers’ Mess-room, La Santé                                         136

Entrance to La Grande Roquette                                       137

Warders’ Room and adjoining Courtyard, La
Grande Roquette                                                      140

Chapel, La Grande Roquette                                           141

The Chapel-school, La Petite Roquette                                143

The Political Quarter, Sainte-Pélagie                                144

The Courtyard, Saint-Lazare                                          145

Buffon                                                               148

The Carnivora Section, Jardin des Plantes                            149

Entrance to Hothouses, Jardin des Plantes                            149

Marabout Storks in the Jardin des Plantes                            151

The Polar Bear in the Jardin des Plantes                             151

The Bear-pit, Jardin des Plantes                                     152

Dromedary in the Jardin des Plantes                                  153

Llama in the Jardin des Plantes                                      155

Rue des Chantres, looking towards Notre-Dame                         156

Site of the House of Abailard and Héloise, Rue des
Chantres                                                             157

Rue des Chantres, looking towards the Quai                           158

Portion of the Façade, Musée Carnavalet                              159

The Opera House                                             _facing_ 161

Entrance to the Mont-de-Piété, Chaussée d’Antin                      161

The Jewellery Stores, Rue des Blancs Manteaux                        163

In the Rue de Capron Branch of the Mont-de-Piété                     164

The Sale-room of the Mont-de-Piété, Rue des Blancs
Manteaux                                                             165

Rue de Tournon, with the Façade of the Senate
House                                                                168

The Saint-Germain Market                                             169

The Tower of Saint-Germain-des-Prés                                  171

Saint-Germain-des-Prés                                               172

The Side Entrance to Saint-Germain-des-Prés                          173

The Rue de l’Abbaye                                                  174

Saint-Sulpice and Apsis of Saint-Sulpice                             176

Fountain, Place Saint-Sulpice                                        177

The Garden, School of Fine Arts                                      180

The Arc de Gaillon, School of Fine Arts                              181

Courtyard, School of Fine Arts                                       181

A Façade on the Quai Malaquais                                       182

Street Scene                                                         184

Hôtel des Invalides                                                  185

Dome of the Hôtel des Invalides                                      186

Dormer Window on the Façade, Hôtel des Invalides                     187

The Court of Honour, Hôtel des Invalides                             187

Invalides                                                            188

Tomb of Napoleon                                                     189

Entrance to the Tomb of Napoleon                                     191

Street Scene                                                         192

Latude recognises D’Aligre                                  _facing_ 193

The Laennec Hospital, Rue de Sèvres                                  193

The Children’s Hospital, Rue de Sèvres                               195

The Blind School: in the Work-room                                   196

Attendants’ Room in a Paris Hospital                                 197

La Charité                                                           198

Hospital on the Boulevard du Pont Royal                              199

Entrance to the St. Louis Hospital                                   200

Courtyard of the St. Louis Hospital                                  200

A Ward in the St. Louis Hospital                                     201

The Repairing Room, St. Louis Hospital                               201

The Tenon Hospital                                                   203

Nurse Pupils at the Maternity Hospital                               204

The Maternity Hospital                                               205

Font at the Maternity Hospital                                       205

Hôspital de la Pitié                                                 206

Façade of the Main Buildings, Salpêtrière                            208

The Mazarin Ward, Salpêtrière                                        209

Place de Conseil, Salpêtrière                                        212

The Park, Salpêtrière                                                213

The Village, Salpêtrière                                             216

The Lunatics’ Quarter, Salpêtrière                                   217

The Chapel, Salpêtrière                                              220

The Bicêtre, 1710 (_After Gueroult_)                                 221

Dinner-Time at Bicêtre                                               224

Entrance to Bicêtre                                                  224

The Bièvre                                                  _facing_ 225

Avenue des Gobelins                                                  226

The Bièvre in the Gardens of the Gobelins                            227

The Old Buildings of the Gobelins                                    228

In the Gardens of the Gobelins                                       228

Interior of the Gobelins                                             229

A Street in the Neighbourhood of the Gobelins                        230

Façade of the Chamber of Deputies on Place du
Palais Bourbon                                                       232

Chamber of Deputies from the Quai d’Orsay                            233

Ruins of the Palace of the Council of State, Quai
d’Orsay                                                              237

Palace of the Legion of Honour                                       238

The Ministry of War                                                  240

Fountain in the Rue de Grenelle                                      241

Grimm and Diderot                                                    244

Statue of Diderot, Boulevard St.-Germain, facing
the Rue St.-Benoit                                                   245

Entrance to the Courtyard of the Dragon                              248

Courtyard of the Dragon                                              249

The Montparnasse Station                                             253

Second-hand Bookstalls                                               256

The Bureau de Bienfaisance Asylum at Vincennes:
(1) The Façade. (2) The Bowling Green                       _facing_ 257

Old-Clothes Dealer                                                   260

Le Débarcadère des Bateaux-Omnibus: Vendors of
Refreshments                                                         261

Snow Scene                                                           267

Bookstalls on the Quai Voltaire                                      268

Édmond About                                                         272

The late Albert Wolff, of the _Figaro_                               273

Statue of Voltaire,                                                  277

The Pont du Carrousel and the Louvre, from the
Quai Malaquais                                                       280

The Seine, between the City and the Quai des
Augustines                                                           281

Jean Jacques Rousseau                                                284

Madame D’Épinay                                                      285

A Night Refuge in the Vaugirard Quarter                     _facing_ 289

Cardinal Mazarin                                                     289

Entrance to the Hôtel de Chateaubriand, in the
Faubourg St. Germain                                                 293

The Bridge, Place, and Boulevard St. Michel                          296

The St. Michel Fountain                                              297

The Castle of Chambord                                               301

Porte aux Pommes: Fruit-boats on the Seine                           304

Porte aux Pommes                                                     305

The Villette _Abbatoirs_                                             309

A Seine Steamboat                                                    312

The Seine at Grenelle                                                313

The Chapelle Saint Denis Barrier                                     317

The _Octroi_ Barriers of Petit-Château and Grand-Bercy               320

Versailles: the Façade and the Great Fountain               _facing_ 321

Tram at the Barrier                                                  321

Street Scene                                                         324

Asylum for Women, Rue Fessart: The Refectory                         329

A “Bureau de Bienfaisance”                                           332

A Night Refuge                                                       333

Pensioners of “L’Assistance Publique”                           335, 336

Versailles (_from an old print_)                                     341

The Colonnade of Versailles                                          344

The Gallery of Battles, Versailles                                   345

General Trochu                                                       349

Map of the Fortifications at the Siege of Paris                      352

The Prussians Entering Paris                                _facing_ 353

Prince Bismarck                                                      355

M. Thiers                                                            357

Marshal MacMahon                                                     360

[Illustration: OUTSIDE A RAILWAY STATION IN PARIS.]



PARIS, OLD AND NEW.



CHAPTER I.

STREET CHARACTERS.

The Cocher--The Bus-driver--The Private Coachman--The Hackney
Coachman--The Public Writer--The Flower-girl--The Oyster-woman.


A Parisian who is not rich enough to keep a distinguished chef of his
own will occasionally order a dainty dinner to be forwarded to him from
some hotel or restaurant; and in these cases the repast, as soon as it
is ready, is sometimes put into a hackney cab and driven to the house of
the consignee by the cocher, who is not unaccustomed to find this “fare”
more remunerative than the fare he habitually conveys.

A glance at the cocher, as another of the Parisian types of character,
may here be not inopportune. As a matter of fact, however, the cocher is
not one type but several. The name applies to the driver of the omnibus,
of the fiacre, and of the private carriage. As to the omnibus driver, he
is more amiable, more easy-going, less sarcastic than his counterpart in
London. Nobody would ever hear an omnibus driver in Paris say, as one
has been heard to say in London, when a lady passenger requested to be
put down at 339½ ---- Street, “Certainly, madam, and would you like me
to drive upstairs?” Nor is the Paris cabman so extortionate as his
London brother; for the fare-regulations, by which there is one fixed
charge for the conveyance of a passenger any distance within a certain
radius, precludes the inevitable dispute which awaits the lady or
gentleman who in our metropolis dares to take a four-wheeler or a
hansom.

Already in the sixteenth century hackney carriages were driven in the
streets of Paris; and any differences arising between the cocher and his
passenger were at this period referred to the lieutenant of the police.
The private coachmen, attached to the service of the nobility, found
their position a somewhat perilous one in an age when quarrels were so
frequent on the question of social precedence. If two aristocratic
carriages met in some narrow street, barring each other’s way, the
footmen would get down and fight for a passage. Serious wounds were
sometimes inflicted, and even the master would now and then step out of
his vehicle and, with drawn sword, join in the affray. The coachman,
meanwhile, prouder in livery than his master in braided coat, remained
motionless on his box in spite of the blows which were being dealt
around. It is related that when on one occasion a party of highwaymen
attacked the carriage of Benserade, poet, wit, and dramatic author, his
coachman sat calmly at his post, and amused himself with whistling
whilst his master was being stripped of everything. From time to time he
turned towards the robbers and said, “Gentlemen, shall you soon have
finished, and can I continue my journey?”

The private coachman varied in those days, as he has always done,
according to the position of the master or mistress whom he served; and
Mercier, writing at a later period, indicates a sufficient variety of
cochers of this class. “You can clearly distinguish the coachman of a
courtesan,” he says, “from that of a president; the coachman of a duke
from that of a financier; but, at the exit from the theatre, would you
like to know where such and such a vehicle is going? Listen to the order
which the master gives to the lackey, or rather which the latter
transmits to the coachman. In the Marais they say ‘Au logis’; in the
Isle of St Louis ‘À la maison’; in the Faubourg Saint-Germain ‘À
l’hôtel’; and in the Faubourg Saint-Honoré ‘Allez!’ With the grandeur of
this last word no one can fail to be impressed. At the theatre door
stands a thundering personage with a voice like Stentor, who cries: ‘The
carriage of Monsieur le Marquis!’ ‘The carriage of Madame la Comtesse!’
‘The carriage of M. le Président!’ His terrible voice resounds to the
very interior of the taverns where the lackeys are drinking, and of the
billiard rooms where the coachmen are quarrelling and disputing. This
voice quite drowns the confused sounds of men and horses. Lackeys and
coachmen at this re-echoing signal abandon their pint-pots and their
cues, and rush out to resume the reins and open the doors.”

The profession of the hackney coachman has always been and still is
subjected to a special legislation. In Paris anyone exercising it must
be at least eighteen years of age; carry upon him the official documents
in virtue of which he wields his whip; present to his fare the card
which indicates the number and tariff of the vehicle, and which the
passenger must retain in view of possible disputes; show politeness to
the public; receive his fare in advance when he is driving to theatres,
halls, or fêtes where there is likely to be a crush of vehicles; never
carry more than his legal number of passengers, and not smoke on duty.
When travelling he must take the right side of the road, avoid
intercepting funeral processions and bodies of troops, go at walking
pace through the markets and in certain other specified places; and,
from nightfall, light up his vehicle with a couple of lamps. The lamps
used for the cabs of the Imperial Company are blue, yellow, red, or
green. These different colours are intended to induce passengers leaving
the theatre at night to take, by preference, those vehicles which belong
to the quarter in which they live; blue indicating the regions of
Popincourt and Belleville; yellow those of Poissonière-Montmartre; red
those of the Champs Élysées, Passy, and Batignolles; and green those of
the Invalides and the Observatory. Besides the penalties pronounced by
the penal code for causing death or personal injury through careless
driving, minor infractions of the regulations are punished, by the
prefect of police, with suspension of licence or, in certain cases,
final withdrawal. The proprietors and masters are responsible for any
offences committed by the coachmen, and for any loss or injury to
luggage or other goods confided to their vehicles for transport.

The law which prescribes to Paris cabmen one uniform fare for journeys
of no matter what length within a certain radius would at first appear
to be very much to the advantage of the public, who are thus protected
from extortion. It has a great drawback, all the same. In London a
cabman is always delighted to see a gentleman step into his vehicle,
even though the welcome he evinces be rather that of the spider to the
fly. He unhesitatingly drives him to his destination, and the gentleman,
even though he is fleeced at the end of the journey, at least gets where
he wished to go. But the Paris cabman is fastidious. If the destination
mentioned by the intending passenger does not exactly suit him, he is
prone to shake his head, ply his whip, and drive away with an empty
vehicle.

The alacrity and enthusiasm of the London cabman are due to the fact
that when he has his passenger safely inside the hansom or “growler” his
soul is animated by the hope of obtaining a fare indefinitely in excess
of the legal tariff. The uniformity of fares in Paris deprives the
cabman of any enthusiastic interest in his work, as it likewise strips
him of some of the curious and amusing characteristics which he might
otherwise exhibit.

In our own metropolis a famous millionaire, having ridden one day in a
cab for the distance of a mile and a half, tendered the driver a
shilling in payment of his fare. The driver stared at the coin in the
palm of his hand and then proceeded to remonstrate. “Both your sons,
sir,” he said, “whenever they ride in my hansom, pay me at least
half-a-crown.” “I dare say they do,” replied the millionaire, “for they
have an old fool of a father to back them up.” In Paris, where this
millionaire had a brother as rich as himself, such an incident would
have been impossible.

[Illustration: WAITING FOR A FARE.]

       *       *       *       *       *

Another figure of the Paris streets is, or rather until some twenty-five
years ago was, the Public Writer; not the contributor to an important
daily paper, but an unhappy scribe whose task it was to put into
epistolary form such matter as was entrusted to him for the purpose by
illiterate cabmen, workmen, and servant girls. The little booths with
desks in front where he exercised his strange profession have
disappeared as Paris has been demolished and rebuilt. The spread of
education among the lower classes was really his death-blow.

The public writer was usually an old man, sometimes one of erudition,
who had been reduced by severe reverses or persistent misery to a very
low position. He wrote a beautiful hand, and could on occasion compose a
poem. He could execute a piece of penmanship in so many different
handwritings (seventeen or eighteen), and his flourishes and
ornamentations were so magnificent, that he would never have prostituted
his pen to the service of shopgirls and domestics had not starvation
stared him in the face. Moreover, the cultivation of an acquaintanceship
with the Muses solaced him, and caused him to forget the day of his
greatness when, holding the diploma of a “master-writer,” he inscribed
the Ten Commandments or executed a dedication to the king on a bit of
vellum smaller than a crown piece. He could dash off verses at a
moment’s notice, and had always in reserve a varied assortment of
festive songs, wedding-lines, epitaphs, and simple and double acrostics,
to serve whatever occasion might arise.

[Illustration: OMNIBUS COACHMAN.]

Above the Public Writer’s door, which he threw open every morning to his
clients, this legend was inscribed:--“The Tomb of Secrets.” The
passer-by thus learned that there--in the words of a French
chronicler--“behind those four coarsely-whitened windows of the entrance
door, was an ear and a hand which held the key of human infirmities;
that there, smiling and serviceable, Discretion resided in flesh and
blood. Curious to see everything, you approached; a few specimens of
petitions to the Chief of the State, drawn up on official paper and
sealed with wafers, gave you a foretaste of the master’s dexterity.
Moreover you could read, in a position well exposed to view, some piece
of poetic inscription, deficient in neither rhyme nor even reason, and
cleverly calculated to allure you forthwith. The running hand, the round
hand, the English hand, and the Gothic hand alternated freely in the
ingenious composition, not to mention the flourishings with which the
lines ended, the page encased in ornamented spirals, the capitals
complicated with arabesques, and so forth. One day we read one of the
writings peculiar to this profession, and copied it with a haste which
we do not regret to-day when the booth where we saw it has been removed.
This booth, a mere plank box, three feet square, whence issued during
forty years an incalculable number of letters, petitions, and other
documents, was situated in the quarter of Saint-Victor, at the foot of
the Rue des Fossés, Saint-Bernard. Its occupant was a man named Étienne
Larroque, an old bailiff whom misfortune had reduced to this poor trade.
Nearly eighty years of age, this Nestor of public writers was known to
everybody.”

[Illustration: PRIVATE COACHMAN.]

To the pedestrian his signboard proclaimed the particulars of his
profession in a piece of poetry which might at all events have been
much worse, and of which the metre was marred only by one fault--a
certain line with a foot too much. Dressed in a frock coat maltreated by
years, the writer, continues the before-mentioned chronicler, sat in his
office, with his spectacles on his nose, and all his pens cut before
him. He placed himself eagerly at the service of anyone who crossed the
threshold. Sometimes the strangest revelations were confided to him.
Installed in his cane arm-chair, furnished with a cushion which he had
sat upon till it was crushed to a pancake, he lent a grave ear to the
pretty little rosy mouths that came to tell him everything, as though he
were a confessor or a physician, and took up his pen to write for them
their letters of love or complaint. More than one unhappy girl came to
him to sigh and weep and to accuse the monster who had sworn to wed her;
more than one fireman came to confess to him the flame which was burning
in his breast; more than one soldier to request him to pen a challenge.

[Illustration: HACKNEY COACHMAN.]

As the depository of secrets innumerable, the Public Writer was a most
important personage; or would have been had he been able to take full
literary advantage of the confidences entrusted to him. Richardson’s
knowledge of the female heart is said to have been due to the good faith
with which he inspired a number of young ladies, who thereupon gave him,
unconsciously, material for such characters as Pamela and Clarissa
Harlowe. They consulted him now and then about their love letters. But
the Public Writer had love letters, letters of reproach, letters of
explanation, letters of farewell, to write every day, and by the dozen.
It is not recorded, however, that any Public Writer was sufficiently
inspired, or sufficiently interested in his habitual work to turn the
dramatic materials which must often have come beneath him into novels or
plays.

[Illustration: HEARSE COACHMAN.]

[Illustration: AN INVITATION TO A “PETIT VERRE.”]

The personage known as the Public Writer was at least a more useful
institution than the book entitled “The Complete Letter-Writer,” the
function of which is to supply correspondence in regard to every
possible incident in life. The Public Writer was, if up to his work,
capable of suiting his language to peculiar cases, whereas the Complete
Letter-Writer was an oracle whose utterances came forth hard and fast,
in such a way that the ignorant devotees could not change them. Thus
the illiterate persons who could not read at all had a clear advantage
over those whose education enabled them to read the Complete
Letter-Writer, but not to apply it. In an excellent farce by M. Varin,
one of the best comic dramatists of the French stage, an amusing
_equivoque_--or _quiproquo_ as the French say--is caused by an ignorant
young man in some house of business addressing a love letter to the
dark-haired daughter of his employer, which expresses admiration for
locks of gold such as belong in profusion, not to the girl, but to her
buxom mother. When the husband’s jealousy is excited and a variety of
comic incidents have resulted therefrom, it appears that the unlettered
and moreover foolish young clerk has copied his epistle out of a
letter-book, and, thinking apparently that one love letter would do as
well as another, has addressed to a girl with dark hair a declaration
intended by the author of the Complete Letter-Writer for a woman who is
beautifully blonde. No such mistake as this could have occurred had the
amorous young clerk told his case to a Public Writer, and ordered an
appropriate letter for the occasion.

Another interesting type of street character in Paris is the
_bouquetière_ or flower-girl. She is more enterprising and engaging than
her counterpart in London. She will approach a gentleman who happens to
be walking past and stick a flower in his button-hole, leaving it to his
own sense of chivalry whether he pays her anything or not. Nor does the
device infrequently produce a piece of silver. There is generally one
flower-girl in Paris who poses as a celebrity--either on account of her
beauty or of other qualities of a more indefinable character.
Fashionable Parisians resort to her stall and pay fantastic prices for
whatever bloom she pins to their breast. The flower-girl of the Jockey
Club, who used to attend the races and ply her trade in the enclosure of
the grand stand, expected a louis as her ordinary fee.

The oyster-woman, too, is a highly important personage. Paris consumes
three hundred million oysters a year, and the dispensing of these
bivalves keeps the lady in question sufficiently active whilst the
season lasts. At breakfast-time or dinner-time, with a white napkin
thrust in her girdle, a knife in her hand, and a smile on her lips, she
is to be seen stationed at the entrance to restaurants in anticipation
of the waiter rushing out and shouting: “One dozen,” “Two dozen,” or
“Ten dozen--open!” A police ordinance of September 25th, 1771, forbade
oyster-women to exercise their trade between the last day of April and
the 10th of September, under penalty of a fine of 200 francs and the
confiscation of their stock. This ordinance was destined to fall into
disuse; but inasmuch as the prohibited months are those in which oysters
are at their worst, the _écaillères_ of Paris do in fact to-day suspend
their trade during May, June, July, and August--months which they devote
to the sale of sugared barley-water and other cooling beverages.

In Paris a sempstress is supposed to be “_gentille_,” a _lingère_, or
getter-up of linen, “_aimable_,” a flower-girl “pretty.” The
oyster-woman, although not characterised by any one particular quality,
is credited with a combination of qualities in a more or less modified
degree. Without being in her first youth, she is young; without being in
the bloom of beauty, she does not lack personal charm; and frequently
she invests even the opening of oysters with a grace which may well
excite admiration. _La belle écaillère_ is indeed the name traditionally
applied to her. With the origin of this name a tragic story is
associated.

There was once a charmingly pretty oyster-girl named Louise Leroux,
known as _La belle écaillère_. She had a lover named Montreuil, a
fireman, who, in a moment of frantic jealousy, plunged his sword into
her breast. This horrible crime at once rendered “the beautiful
oyster-girl” famous, not only in Paris, but throughout Europe; and in
due time the legend of her life and love took dramatic form, and found
its way to the stage. The interest excited in her unhappy end was all
the greater inasmuch as her murderer had eluded justice by flying to
England, where, in London, he set up as a fencing master. The Gaieté
Theatre achieved, in 1837, one of its greatest successes by putting on
the boards, under the title of _La Belle Écaillère_, the tragic history
of Louise Leroux.

Since then the name has been familiarly applied without discrimination
to the female oyster-sellers of Paris, many of whom have well deserved
it. But while bearing the name, they have abandoned the traditional
fireman, as rather too dangerous a commodity. In lieu of firemen they
have captivated notaries, financiers, and others in superior stations of
life; whilst one is known to have turned the head of a state minister,
who, even if he did not marry her, confessed the passion with which she
inspired him by devouring thirty-two dozen of her oysters every morning
before breakfast. The flame within him had first been excited by the
siren’s ready wit. As he was entering a restaurant one day, a friend who
accompanied him remarked: “To-day, my dear sir, more than ever, France
dances on a volcano.” “What nonsense!” cried the _écaillère_; “she
dances on a heap of oysters!” Next day the exclamation was reported in a
Paris journal, which easily turned it to political account.

There was another oyster-girl who solved a question of lexicographic
definition which had hopelessly baffled the Academicians. A new edition
of the _Dictionnaire de l’Académie_ was being prepared, and it became
necessary to establish the distinction of meaning between the two
expressions _de suite_ and _tout de suite_. The forty Academicians were
all at variance about it, and were about to tear their hair, when one of
them, Népomucène Lemercier, exclaimed: “Let us go and dine at
Ramponneau’s. That’s better than disputing. We can discuss the matter
during dessert.” “Agreed,” replied another member--Nodier. The
Academicians forthwith set out, and when they had arrived at their
destination one of them, Parseval-Grandmaison, who ordered the dinner,
said to the _écaillère_: “Open forty dozen oysters for us _de suite_,
and serve them _tout de suite_.” “But, sir,” replied the oyster-woman,
“if I open them _de suite_, I cannot serve them _tout de suite_.” The
Academicians looked at each other in astonishment. The problem had been
solved. They had now discovered that of the two expressions _tout de
suite_ indicated the greater celerity.

[Illustration: Street Scene]

[Illustration: IN THE AVENUE DU BOIS DE BOULOGNE, AT NIGHT.]



CHAPTER II.

THE ENGLISH AND AMERICANS IN PARIS.

The Englishman Abroad--M. Lemoinne’s Analysis--The Englishwoman--Sunday
in London and in Paris--Americans in Par--The American Girl.


Hitherto the types of character which we have noticed have been native.
Let us vary them by a glance at the typical foreigner or rather
foreigners residing or sojourning in Paris.

To begin with the Englishman. In Paris, although there are a great
number of Englishmen, it can hardly be said that an English Society
exists. Samuel Johnson once complained that Englishmen did not
fraternise with one another; that if two visitors called upon a lady
about the same time and were shown into her drawing-room, they would,
until the lady made her appearance--say for five minutes--simply glare
at one other in silence, whereas a couple of foreigners would, although
they had never met before, have entered into a conversation.

Without, perhaps, being aware of Johnson’s stricture on the social
frigidity of his own countrymen, an excellent French writer, John
Lemoinne, has noticed the same insular peculiarity in English visitors
to Paris. “The English,” he says, “do not seek one another’s
acquaintance; they do not come into other lands to find themselves. If
they easily form acquaintanceship with foreigners, they are more
fastidious in approaching each other. An Englishman will make friends
with a Frenchman without the ceremony of presentation, I mean of
introduction, but never with another Englishman. A couple of Englishmen
stare at each other very hard before saying, ‘How do you do?’”

_Punch_ many years ago noticed this national characteristic in a picture
which represented two English visitors to Paris breakfasting at the same
table in the Hôtel Meurice, and, although the only guests in the room,
solemnly ignoring each other’s existence.

But M. Lemoinne goes further than _Punch_. “If the English leave their
native land,” he says, “it is not to find their own compatriots; it is
to see new men and new things. Even when you understand their language,
they prefer to talk to you in their bad French. The thing is
intelligible enough: they wish to learn, and have no desire to teach.
You are regarded simply as a book and a grammar. The foreigner must be
turned to some account.”

So far excellent. But let us return to Samuel Johnson. When he visited
Paris did he air his “bad French”? No, he absolutely refused to speak a
word of anything but English. This by no means confirms M. Lemoinne’s
proposition. Yet in fairness, let it be said, Johnson’s chief objection
to talking French in Paris was a fear lest he should “put his foot in
it,” and, lexicographer as he was, excite by some grammatical blunder
the ridicule of irreverent Parisians.

Let us see, however, to what lengths M. Lemoinne is prepared to go. “If
there was ever a people who have the sentiment of nationality, it is,”
he says, “the English. They are impregnated, petrified with it; the
thing is fatiguing and offensive. But in order to affirm and manifest
this sentiment the English have no need to group themselves, to form
themselves into a society. An Englishman is to himself England alone; he
carries his nation in him, with him, on him; he does not require to be
several. Everywhere he is at home: the atmosphere is his kingdom and the
ambient air his property. Religion enters largely into this temperament.
The Englishman carries not only his nation, but his religion with him;
he scours the whole earth with his Bible for companion; the Frenchman,
habitually catholic, requires a bell and a priest--he does not know how
to converse directly with Heaven. From a social point of view, moreover,
the English find France freer, more liberal, more open than their own
country. English society, at home, is regulated like music-paper; it has
a severe hierarchy, in which the most idiotic little lord stands before
a man of genius without a title. Geographically, it is a very narrow
space which separates England from France; but this space is a gulf. The
two countries are in constant relationship; but they never arrive at any
resemblance to each other. We have not the political liberty of the
English, and they have not our social equality. An Englishman could not
live with laws like those which, in France, regulate the right of
speaking, the right of writing, the right of petitioning, the right of
assembling, the right of going and coming; but a Frenchman would be
stifled amidst those thousand conventional bonds which form English
society. The influence of convention in England is such that it equals
and even surpasses the tyranny of the political and administrative laws
of the Continent. That is why the Englishman, after a stay of some time,
and when the ice of his nature is a little melted, moves amongst
foreigners as freely as he moves at home. No possible comparison can be
made between the Frenchman in London and the Englishman in Paris; or at
all events the comparison can only be an antithesis. The Frenchman who
pays a visit to England will, so soon as presented, be welcomed with a
boundless hospitality, provided his visit is only a flying one; but if
he apparently wishes to take root, the soil refuses, and society shuts
itself up and retires as though a descent were being made upon its
territory. It must be confessed, moreover, that France is not usually
represented in England by the cream or flower of her population; and for
a simple reason, namely, that a Frenchman does not go to England for
pleasure or from choice, and that he has no idea but that of returning
as quickly as possible. But apart, even, from these particular
circumstances, the mere pressure of the English social atmosphere
suffices to asphyxiate a Frenchman. It is a world, an order of ideas, an
assemblage of laws and customs entirely different from all others.

“A Parisian may for years walk round English society as he would walk
round the wall of China, without being able to find either a door or a
window. He understands absolutely nothing about it.

“In France, on the contrary, Englishmen find a greater social liberty.
French society is an open society; French manners are cosmopolitan
manners. The most diverse peoples can in France find their place without
losing their national character. In our country everyone is at home, and
the Englishman gets on comfortably enough. In the Englishman, however,
it is necessary to distinguish between the citizen and the individual;
for he is both. When the national interests or passions are in question
he does not scruple to intrigue and conspire; when he is unconcerned
with the politics of the country where he happens to find himself, he
practises the greatest reserve and mixes in nothing. See the English at
Paris. They assist at all our revolutions as mere spectators; their sole
care is to get a good seat. They always come to their ambassador to
request a presentation at the Tuileries and tickets for the court ball.”

So far we have presented the observations of M. Lemoinne for what they
may be worth. That his skilful pen, however, penetrates sometimes into
the regions of truth is shown by the fact that his remarks not
infrequently recall those of foreign writers so famous as to be regarded
more or less as oracular. Heine, after visiting London, complained that
at an English dinner party the gentlemen, after the ladies had retired
from the dining-room, remained at table for an hour or two to saturate
themselves with port. Heine, it must be remembered, took a perverse
delight in satirising everything English. But that we, in England, do
leave the ladies to drink their after-dinner coffee in the desolation of
the drawing-room must be handsomely admitted. M. Lemoinne notices this
peculiarity.

“The time has passed,” he says--with burlesque drollery--“when the true
Englishman remained at table for several hours after dinner and ended by
slumbering beneath it. Now, when the ladies have quitted the
dining-room, the gentlemen content themselves with circulating the
Bordeaux for twenty minutes. In France we are beginning to divest
ourselves of certain prejudices concerning the English. For a long time
we regarded the English character as synonymous with ‘spleen.’ It was an
old French author who said of the English: ‘They amuse themselves sadly,
after the custom of their country.’

“The fact is the English are gay in their own fashion, and sometimes
even expansive and noisy; but they are not gay with everybody, nor on a
first acquaintance. They must unfreeze; they are like the wine of
Bordeaux, which, to give forth its fragrance, has to be warmed.”

       *       *       *       *       *

After this, however, a very dubious compliment is paid to our
compatriots. “It is certain that this race is robuster than others, the
women as well as the men. It spends more, consumes more, and absorbs
more. See how well these pretty white and red-complexioned Englishwomen
can take their sherry and their champagne! Observe them in the middle of
the day going to exercise their palate at the pastry-cook’s with coffee,
chocolate, ices, all kinds of cakes and sandwiches; you are staggered at
the quantity of these delicacies they can put out of sight. See them at
the buffets of all those official fêtes of which they form the finest
ornament. It is a pleasure to see them, especially when you know that
their appetite is not destructive of sentiment.” Now, however, for a
compliment which is absolutely sincere. “We venture to say that English
society in Paris has exercised a salutary influence on French society,
and that it has introduced cordiality into intimate relationships. The
handshake of the English lady, for instance, has long shocked, and still
shocks our purists. Their fault is that they believe an amiable woman
must be too accessible, and that a certain liberty of manners implies an
equal liberty of conduct. With such ideas as these they bring up
daughters who, having given the tips of their fingers, imagine that they
have given everything and have no longer anything to protect; whereas a
pretty little English girl who gives her hand gives nothing else, and
knows how to defend the rest.”

Another trait of the English character is, we are assured, an “interest
in religious questions.” English ladies are “all more or less
theologians--veritable doctors in petticoats. English girls will hold
forth to you on the subject of grace and free will. You will meet them
at church, listening to sermons and going through services, and even
taking notes. But what does that matter, since it does not prevent them
from serving out the tea admirably, from rearing their children later
on, and from being model housewives and model mothers? If our
Frenchwomen cry ‘Fie’ upon the blue-stocking, that is perhaps because it
is too green; a little theology would not hurt them. It is at church
that you get the most comprehensive view of English society in Paris. On
Sunday you have only to visit the Faubourg St.-Honoré towards two
o’clock; you will encounter quite a procession of English men and women
coming from the Rue d’Agnesseau, with their prayer-books and their
Sunday demeanour. I say the church, but I ought to say the churches; for
the English have nowadays in Paris almost as many chapels as religions.
There is the Embassy chapel for Anglicans of the established religion,
an English episcopal chapel in the Rue Bayard, another English chapel in
the Rue Royale, a Scotch Presbyterian chapel and two English Methodist
places of worship in the Rue Roquepine, independently of American
chapels. This is not to say that the English observe Sunday in Paris as
strictly as they are obliged to do in their own country. Respect for the
Sabbath is an observance which they know very well how to dispense with
amongst foreigners. On Sunday, from time to time, you see some
individual in black attire, and invariably adorned with an umbrella,
who, seated on one of the seats in a public garden, pretends to ignore a
little pamphlet which is intended to be picked up by the first
pedestrian who passes, and which turns out to be a dissertation on the
observance of the Sabbath. There are still, perhaps, a few hotels
specially designed for English people, where the Bible Society causes to
be placed in every bedroom a copy of the Scriptures bearing its own
stamp. This ardour of propagandism has begun, however, to abate, and the
English in general are by no means the last to take advantage of the
Paris Sunday. Anyone who has seen the Sabbath of London must feel the
difference. Every Frenchman who has just missed dying, not only of
ennui, but of hunger and thirst, during the hours of service in
England--hearing his footsteps resound in the desolate streets--will
understand the solace experienced by an Englishman on finding that the
coast is clear for him at Paris and Versailles. There are, it is true, a
certain number of English families who do not receive on Saturday
evening because the festivity or the dancing might encroach upon the
Sabbath; but what is a sin on English territory is not so on French
territory, and the English do not scruple to pass midnight in a Parisian
drawing-room.”

This drolly severe but, from a literary point of view, admirable writer
seems to think that an Englishman is a sort of fox-terrier, or mastiff,
which having been chained up for a length of time becomes, when you let
him loose, extremely rampant and ill-conducted. “There are so many
things the English would not do at home, that they do without scruple
amongst foreigners. Once abroad they indemnify themselves for their
national reserve; it is on the foreigner that they revenge themselves
for the shackles of their own etiquette and social laws. In crossing the
Channel they pitch their solemn vestments into the sea. In London they
will not go to the opera dressed in anything but black; here they go in
a tweed coat and a slouch hat.” After this Monsieur Lemoinne seems very
much upset by the moustaches which Englishmen display as they promenade
in the Boulevards. There was a time, he assures us, when a Frenchman
crossing the Channel and wishing to have a fashionable air was obliged
to sacrifice his moustache--a time when English caricaturists never
represented a Frenchman without a pair of long, ill-combed moustaches.
To-day the thing is reversed. It is the Englishman who wears this
grotesque appendage which proclaims his nationality from afar. Thus
moustached, the Englishman goes to Paris--so M. Lemoinne evidently
thinks--to have his full fling. “Amongst us,” he says, “a grave man may
occasionally dress up to go to a ball, wear fancy costume, or take part
in a quadrille, and next morning resume his function as state councillor
or referendary. So the Englishman precipitates himself into the French
world as into a great masked ball, puts on a false nose, dances at Paris
extravagant steps which he calls French dances, cuts capers, sups and
gets maudlin, and when he has finished his French tour, tranquilly
resumes his duties as member of parliament or no matter what.”

To English ladies M. Lemoinne is a good deal more gallant. He is obliged
to point out that they over-dress and stride along the Boulevards like
dismounted dragoons. “Yet, make no mistake,” he adds. “In that still
crude block there are all the elements of a superb work of art. What
fine construction, what solid layers, what grand architecture! Wait till
art has put her hand to these materials; wait till the Englishwoman has
learned how to walk, carry herself, and dress, and until, to her native
beauty, she has added acquired grace--then you will have the finest type
of creation and of civilisation. The native Englishwoman who has become
a naturalised Parisian is perfection.”

In spite of the modified tribute which this writer pays to Englishwomen,
it may be said that he has handled our nation very roughly. In the
present day England and France would no longer, in a European war, fight
side by side as they did in the Crimea; and a little unconscious
Anglophobia tinctures the writings even of such a skilful and impartial
essayist as M. Lemoinne. The Americans in Paris are regarded, by French
writers generally, from a much more favourable point of view. Let us, in
the first place, hear what M. André Léo has to say on this subject. “If
you walk through the Champs Élysées, from the Place de la Concorde to
the Arc de l’Étoile, or through the avenues which converge there, from
the direction of the Madeleine, in the Quartier St.-Honoré towards the
Parc Monceaux, you will frequently meet women richly adorned, men with
light-coloured beards, tranquil and placid; young women of lively and
decided mien, pretty children with curly hair, whose physiognomy is at
once full of candour and of assurance. All these individuals, isolated
or grouped, offer you pretty nearly the same type; a countenance which
is strong in comparison with the small, piercing grey eyes, and
flexible features, often agreeable, and sometimes beautiful.... All
nationalities, indeed, meet and knock against each other in this new
quarter with its fine avenues and its sylvan groves. But there is an
evident predominance of English and American language and customs, as
appears from the signs over the chemists’ shops, the stores, the
boarding-houses, and the special pastry-cooks, where cakes, pies, and
puddings are displayed in the window. Yet although in this region a
unity of language and conformity of habits unite the English and the
Americans, the two societies intermix very little. Anglophobia, as a
national and popular sentiment, is perhaps more ardent in the United
States than amongst us.”

[Illustration: IN THE FLOWER MARKET.]

In a general way the resident American population of Paris consists of
the Diplomatic body, bankers, families who have come for the education
of their children, and artists eager to study the masterpieces of the
Parisian galleries. The American nation is accused of being devoid of
artistic sentiment; but M. André Léo stoutly protests that “such a
criticism passed upon a new people, who have been obliged to occupy
themselves before everything with work and industry, is too hasty.
American artists already exist; and already their efforts and their
ambitions foretell the development of that noble and precious human
faculty the germ of which exists in every people and every man, but
which necessitates a certain leisure and a certain mental education.”

Apart from the American residing in Paris, and the American who, binding
himself to the nation by more than lengthened residence, has married
into some French family--an occurrence by no means rare--there is the
flying American visitor to Paris, whose headquarters are the Grand Hotel
on the Boulevard des Italiens. This establishment, by its central
position, its interior arrangements, its luxury and its comfort, enjoys
an enormous reputation on the other side of the Atlantic. The Yankee
leaves New York for the Grand Hotel. It is not till he passes its
threshold that he feels himself on terra firma again; it is here that he
finds out where he is and gets his information. If his means or his
projects permit it, he installs himself at this hotel for three or four
months; if not, he goes on to some other hotel or boarding-house, or
else rents an apartment to live by himself. If you enter the courtyard
of the Grand Hotel, ascend the portico steps, and, making your way into
the stately readingroom, look out of the window for five minutes, you
will see that the innumerable vehicles which every few seconds stop at
the hotel deposit ten Americans to one Englishman.

From this centre the tourist easily gets to all those points of the city
to which necessity or curiosity impels him. The first visit he pays is
probably to his banker--to Bowles and Devritt, perhaps, in the Rue de la
Paix, or to Norton’s in the Rue Auber. Once he banked with the firm of
Rothschild, but now no longer. During the American war M. de
Rothschild’s attitude in reference to the planters was by no means
neutral, and this political indiscretion has cost him his American
clients.

When the New York party has cashed its cheque at the American
bank--which is quite a rendezvous for trans-Atlantics and at which all
the American newspapers can be seen--the feminine element hastens to
visit all the most fashionable shops. The ladies are eager to purchase,
at comparatively low prices, those Parisian costumes which their own
native custom-house raises to prices so exorbitant. Dressed ere long in
the richest and newest fashions, they step with their male companions
into a carriage and drive to the Bois de Boulogne; then they go to the
opera, to spectacles of every kind, and to the Legation. If there
happens to be a sovereign on the throne, they put their names down for
presentation at the Tuileries and order a court costume. For it must be
confessed that the Americans are fond of the pomps of this world, and
that, Republicans as they profess to be, they have no prejudice against
kings and princes outside their own country. The monarchs of other
nations neither shock nor terrify them. And the American tourist, apart
from the question of political sentiment, likes to see everything and do
everything before he recrosses the Atlantic. If an American family
visits a land where it is the fashion to be presented at court, they
will feel humiliated and ashamed should they have to confess afterwards
to their compatriots that they missed the presentation.

Under the last Empire the American visitors to Paris showed an eagerness
for court-presentations which would have entitled them to a place in
Thackeray’s Book of Snobs--which, nevertheless, directly or indirectly,
embraces pretty nearly the whole human species. But there were a certain
number of Americans then in France who got acclimatised to the
splendours of the court and became habitual guests at imperial
residences. The drawing-room of the United States minister is naturally
the centre of meeting for American society in Paris. “The aspect and
tone of these assemblies,” says a French writer, “is at once less solemn
and colder than our French social gatherings. The necessity of being
previously presented exists in this democratic society just as it does
in England, though on the other hand American conversation and behaviour
bear a natural impress of indifference and freedom, not even to the
exclusion, perhaps, of a little coarseness.”

Curiously enough, the Americans, although they despise or affect to
despise social and genealogical distinctions in their own country, turn
to some extent into aristocrats during the voyage across the Atlantic to
Europe. Frenchmen have noticed that if you wish to be presented to their
minister or at one of their drawing-rooms in Paris, you must never
forget your ancestry. “A certain author of my acquaintance,” says André
Léo, “a man of genuine fame, was sufficiently astonished, on reading his
American letter of introduction, to find that it recommended him much
less on his own account than on that of his grandfather. This is not an
isolated case; it results from a law much more human than national,
which consists in particularly prizing what one does not possess. The
Americans, a people without ancestors, naturally hold race distinctions
in high esteem. They boast, one against the other, of belonging to the
first founders of the colonies, and even in their own country these
pretensions sometimes provoke laughter.... As to nobilary titles, if you
possess any, be particularly careful to let them be known, and rest
assured that when once they have been declared the Americans will not
fail to apply them to you. These titles will win for you sweet glances,
and should you be contemplating marriage will turn the scale in your
favour with those blonde beauties who, for the most part, have
Californian dowries; for these Republican young women think that a ducal
coronet sits marvellously well on blonde hair, and that the title of
Countess is the finishing ornament required by an elegant lady. Hence it
is that at Paris numerous alliances are contracted between the France
of other days and the America of to-day.”

In the United States, so soon as a merchant has done some great stroke
of business, or has pierced a big vein of ore in his mine, or has seen
the petroleum spouting up on his land too fast for an adequate supply of
barrels, his daughters are consumed with a desire to visit Europe. They
sail thither, accompanied by the father, who pretends to despise the
Continent, but who, inwardly, is scarcely less curious to explore it
than his fair-haired children. And as a matter of fact the Americans may
well be desirous to see that region of the world whence they derive
everything but their liberty and their wealth. For their religion, their
language, their literature, their arts and sciences, their memories, and
the very blood which courses in their veins, they are indebted to
Europe. In America, although an enormous number of books and newspapers
are published, the English and French classics, not to mention the best
English and French modern authors, form the foundation of every good
library, and even the native writers fashion themselves after European
models.

As regards the American families residing in Paris for the education of
their children, it is music and the French language which they have
chiefly in view. Some years ago M. André Léo observed that young
American girls in Paris received a much severer education than their
brothers. The instruction of the daughters “is, or appears, very
complex; that of the sons much less so, for as a rule, having their own
fortune to make, they early precipitate themselves into commercial life.
But the young girl, whether intended for an instructress or working
merely for the development and adornment of her person, devotes herself
to studies which amongst us would pass for pedantic. Some of them learn
Latin, algebra, geometry, and even attack without alarm more special
sciences. Yet look at them and be reassured. The care of their toilette
has not suffered from all this, and the accusations of ungracefulness
cast against learned women fall before the display of their luxurious
frivolity. See if the waves of silk, of muslin, of lace, which surround
them are less abundant on that account; if the details of their exterior
show a lesser degree of feminine art, if the whole has a lesser
freshness.” This writer proceeds to insist on the superiority of the
American woman over her male compatriot. The explanation is, according
to him, that at fourteen years of age the American boy shuts up his
books to enter the office of his father or some other merchant, and
consecrates his whole intelligence to commercial speculations; whereas
the young girl pursues her studies, strengthens them sometimes by
teaching, and, spinster or wife, has always abundant leisure for mental
exercise. The one point on which, in M. André’s view, the studious
American woman exposes herself to reproach, is that hitherto she has not
used her intellectual superiority for the furtherance of her own dignity
and independence.

That she is nevertheless a powerful social factor, M. André himself
admits, though he attributes this less to her activity than to her
fascinations as a beauty in repose. “The first duty and the first pride
of an American husband is” he says, “to ensure the idleness of his wife
and provide for the expenses of her toilette.” There are in the United
States many women-workers, whether as preceptresses or clerks in the
postal, telegraphic, or even ministerial offices. These are nearly all
spinsters--the single state being frequent in New England, which vies
with the Mother Country for the supremacy of the feminine
population--and they give in their resignation when they get married. “I
will not let my wife work,” such is the husband’s proud determination.
Here, however, one imperative reason why women must resign their
employment on marriage is overlooked. In London the numberless women
engaged in the post and telegraph offices are required by the
authorities to abdicate their posts on becoming wives, simply because
they would obviously be unable to work their nine hours a day at a desk
or counter if they had absorbing domestic duties to attend to and
children to rear.

To Englishmen, who are already acquainted with their Transatlantic
brethren, a French view of the American in Paris would be more
instructive than an English one. What particularly strikes Parisians is
the freedom of American girls as contrasted with the restraint of
unmarried young women in France, whose training is notoriously very much
that of a convent. “American manners,” the French observe, “grant to
girls entire liberty. They are the guardians of their own virtue and
their own interests, and they preserve these things right well.
Instructed in the dangers of life, they are capable of braving them;
though it must be owned that their task is easy on account of the
respect which, throughout their country, is shown to them by men. A girl
can travel the length and breadth of the territory of the Union without
having to fear dishonourable pursuits or the slightest unpleasantness.
Therefore the American girl utterly differs from ours by her aspect
alone.” Her costume is more unstudied, and the mouse-like timidity of
the young Frenchwoman is replaced in her by a graceful carelessness.

[Illustration: AFTER THE THEATRE.]

To Americans, as M. André justly says, Paris must seem “a world upside
down. American mothers complain greatly of the little security and
respect shown to women in this capital, of the gallantry of the French
and the indulgence of public opinion in flagrant cases. They are right;”
and he thinks that it is because French girls are too severely
disciplined, too much caged up, that there is less reverence between the
two sexes in France than in America. “True chastity,” he maintains, “has
liberty for her sister.”

American girls staying in Paris are astonished and indignant at the
close surveillance to which unmarried young Frenchwomen are subjected,
although they themselves frequently sacrifice to opinion in the matter
of not appearing out of doors unaccompanied by a maid. M. André regrets
this on account of the countenance it gives to a prudish system, which
he is the last to admire in his own countrywomen. “O young ladies,” he
exclaims, “born on a soil where monarchical influences have never
flourished, why do you submit to this shameful spy system? Would it not
be better if you openly showed your disdain for it, and taught our women
the manners of liberty? Paris, after all, is not a forest, and a mere
glance, a shrug of the shoulders, or silence itself, will suffice to
shame away a leering lounger or an impertinent snob. Is it true, then,
that in default of other forms of tyranny, respect for opinion, whatever
that opinion be, is a yoke in America?”

Let us hope, in conclusion, that the American girl does not “let herself
go,” on her return from straitlaced Paris to the freedom of New York, at
all events to such an extent as suggested by this writer, who assures us
that, having once set foot again on native soil, she flirts furiously.

[Illustration: AT THE SALON.]



CHAPTER III.

MORE PARISIAN TYPES.

The Spy--Under Sartines and Berryer--Fouché--Delavau--The Present
System--The Écuyère--The Circus in Paris.


To return, however, to native Parisian types. Mention has already been
made of the French spy, but he is such an important and historical
character that it is impossible to dismiss him in a few words.

The police, already strongly organised under Louis XIV., resorted
largely to espionage; but in Louis XV.’s reign the famous Lieutenant of
Police, de Sartines, fashioned the spy system into a civil institution,
and gave it a prodigious development. Spies were now employed to follow
the Court or to watch the doings of distinguished foreigners who had
recently arrived in the capital. Then there were domestic spies, the
most terrible of all, to judge by the following observations extracted
from a report attributed to Louis XV.’s lieutenant. “The ‘family,’
amongst us, lives under the protection of a reputation for virtue which
cannot impose on the magistracy; the family is a repertory of crimes, an
arsenal of infamies. The hypocrisy of the false caresses which are
lavished in it must be apparent to all but fools. In a family of twenty
persons the police ought to place forty spies.” After Sartines,
Lieutenant Berryer by no means allowed the spy service to deteriorate.
He employed convicts as spies, one of the conditions of their employment
being that on the slightest failure in the vile duties they had to
perform, they should be restored to prison. The services, too, of
coachmen, landladies, lodgers, were called into requisition. Even
domestic servants were sometimes Berryer’s agents, and many a mysterious
_lettre-de-cachet_ was issued on the strength of some word uttered
carelessly within the hearing of a lady’s-maid or valet-de-chambre.

Stories are even told of men so innocent that they acted as spies
without being aware of it. Such a one was Michel-Perrin, of Mme. de
Bawr’s tale, which, in its dramatic form, gave Bouffé one of his best
parts. The simple-minded man had in his youth, when he was a student of
theology, known Fouché, afterwards to become Napoleon’s Minister of
Police. In due time Michel-Perrin took orders, and was doing duty in a
little village when, under the Revolution, public worship was abolished.
Calling upon Fouché to ask his old friend for some suitable employment,
he can obtain nothing until, moved by the urgency of his solicitations,
the Police Minister suggests to him, with so much delicacy that his true
meaning remains unperceived, that he shall walk about the public places,
go into cafés and restaurants, and frequent all kinds of resorts where
people congregate, and that he shall then return to Fouché with an
account of anything remarkable he may have seen or heard. This seems to
the delighted Michel-Perrin mere child’s play, and he regards it as
little more than a pretext on the part of the generous minister for
handing him every evening a gold piece. When, however, the unconscious
spy finds one day that he has revealed a political conspiracy, and
jeopardised the lives of many, perhaps innocent men, he suddenly awakens
to a sense of what he has been doing, and in horror throws up his
employment. Fouché, it seems, was pained to have humiliated the
unoffending priest, and, public worship being just at that time
restored, he used his influence with Napoleon to obtain the ingenuous
man’s re-appointment as village curé.

Under the Revolution the spy was replaced by the official denunciator,
an agent no less formidable. At length came the Empire, and then Fouché
invested espionage with the importance of a science. In 1812 the
“brigade of safety” appeared, which was first composed of four agents,
but which, in 1823 and 1824, always under the direction of the famous
Vidocq, numbered close upon thirty. Delavau, the prefect of police, had
permitted him to establish, on the public road, a game known as
“troll-madam”; and this game, an excellent trap for boobies and
passers-by whose slightest words and actions were keenly watched by
Vidocq’s hounds, produced, from the 20th of July to the 4th of August,
1823, a net profit of 4,364 francs. This sum was added to the subvention
already granted to the spy department.

The Prefect Delavau returned to the method of Lieutenant Berryer in
employing as spies convicts, whom he threw back into prison for the
slightest fault. One of his predecessors, Baron Pasquier, had
endeavoured, like Berryer, to enlist domestic servants into the secret
police force; and, with this object, Delavau renewed an old ordinance,
calling upon them to get their names noted in the books of the
prefecture every time they entered a situation or left one. The
domestics, however, perceived the motive of Delavau’s measure, and were
so unanimous in withholding their names from the books in question, that
all idea of family espionage, on which much value had been set, was soon
to be abandoned. Delavau drew even more largely upon the criminal class
for his myrmidons than Pasquier had done, and in his day no public
gathering took place at which some felon, released for the purpose from
gaol, was not lurking about for an ill-sounding word or a suspicious
gesture. Such agents as these worked with the industry of bloodhounds.
“Between the populace and the subalterns of the police,” says the
historian Peuchet, “there is a continual war; the latter are ill-bred
dogs who seize every opportunity for applying their fangs. The police
will never inspire respect for order so long as part of its force
consists of released gaol-birds who owe a grudge to the whole of the
people. When these two elements are in contact there is inevitably a
fermentation.” The justice of these remarks was recognised by M.
Delavau’s successor, M. de Belleyme, whose first care was to dismiss and
even restore to their respective prisons this army of felon-spies.
To-day, although he has not risen much in public estimation, the spy of
the police-force is a citizen in every sense of the word, enjoying all
the rights of a Frenchman, and not obtaining his commission from the
prefecture until after his past life and his moral character have stood
the test of a keen investigation. Thus espionage has been purified as
far as that is possible; but whether the system is not in itself
essentially immoral, is a question which has exercised the minds even of
such writers as Montesquieu. “Espionage,” he says, “is never tolerable;
if it were so it would be practised by honest men; but the necessary
infamy of the person indicates the infamy of the thing.” This is in
effect another version of the famous utterance of Argenson, who,
reproached with employing as spies none but rogues and villains,
exclaimed: “Find me honest men who will do this work.” The present
prefecture of police believes it has found such men, and the discovery,
if it has really been made, is a fortunate one indeed.

Another variety of police spy to be met with in Paris is the officious
volunteer spy. He may belong to the lower or to the higher ranks of
society. He takes upon himself to observe and to denounce, without
instructions, and solely in the hope of a pecuniary recompense. This
variety is probably the most contemptible and the vilest. It should be
mentioned, too, that the French capital swarms with invisible and
unrecognisable spies, disguised, as they sometimes are, beneath an
appearance of luxury or magnificence. This or that personage passes for
a member of the diplomatic service. He is an admired figure in
fashionable drawing-rooms, and while affecting to converse on the
European situation, exercises the ear of a fox terrier and the eye of a
hawk. Then, of course, there is the military spy, who is superior to the
civil variety inasmuch as whilst the latter, in case of recognition,
only incurs a more or less disagreeable misadventure, the former is
liable to be shot. The military spy, therefore, may have all the heroism
of the professed soldier.

The civil spy system was naturally developed to an extraordinary degree
by the subtle Richelieu. His secret agent took as many shapes as
Proteus. Now it was a brave old seigneur, infirm and professedly deaf,
in whose presence people would not hesitate to speak out and say
everything, but who recovered his vigour and his legs in order to go and
report to the cardinal a conversation of which he had not missed one
detail. Now it was a woman, who, having insinuated herself into the
intimate friendship of some young and brilliant courtier, wrested from
him a dangerous and terrible secret. But it was not only throughout the
length and breadth of France that Richelieu had spies; numbers of them
were in his pay abroad, all over the Continent indeed, regularly
reporting political intrigues, and furnishing clandestine copies of
secret treaties.

Enough, however, of the spy; let it simply be added that he has been
introduced into two novels by Balzac, into one by Hugo, and into two by
Alexandre Dumas, who has likewise made him figure in a couple of plays.

       *       *       *       *       *

Let us pass from the most slinking and distasteful Paris character to
the most open and, as many consider, the most charming one--from the
“espion,” that is to say, to the “écuyère.”

At Paris the circus-woman is the object of a much higher admiration than
in London. Théophile Gautier, in his dramatic feuilletons, has
frequently shown that he preferred the equestrian fairy of the circus to
the sylph who dances at the opera. He goes into ecstasies over her
agility, vigour, and courage, and is displeased with nothing but the
drapery in which her lower limbs are enveloped, holding that, just as
the most virtuous fashionable woman or actress takes care to exhibit her
bare arms if they are beautiful, so the “écuyère” of the circus should
be allowed to display the full symmetry and grace of her legs. The
“écuyère” whom Balzac brings on the scene in his _Fausse Maîtresse_,
Malaga by name, is an excellent type of the French circus-woman, who is
nearly always without relatives, sometimes a foundling, sometimes a
stolen child, and who, coming one knows not whence, goes, the idol of a
day, one knows not where. “At the fair,” says the greatest of French
novelists--or rather, one of his characters--“this delicious Columbine
used to carry chairs on the tip of her nose--the prettiest little Greek
nose I ever saw. Malaga, madame, is skill personified. Of Herculean
strength, she only requires her tiny fist or diminutive foot to rid
herself of three or four men. She is, in fact, the goddess of
gymnastics. Careless as a gipsy, she says everything that enters her
head; she thinks as much of the future as you do of the halfpence you
throw to beggars, and sometimes sublime things escape from her. No one
could ever persuade her that an old diplomatist is a beautiful youth; a
million could not change her opinion. Her love is, for whoever inspires
it, a perpetual flattery. Endowed as she is with really insolent health,
her teeth are thirty-two exquisite pearls encased in coral.”

The performances of the Paris circus-woman too closely resemble those of
her sister in London to need description. The characters, however, of
the two equestrians are not identical, and that of the écuyère can
scarcely be represented better than in the words of a vivacious French
writer, who says: “You can easily imagine what must be, not the future
(alas! has she one?), but the present of this poor, intrepid, careless
creature. After being exposed twenty times a day to the risk of breaking
her jaw, she has hardly earned her food; and every morning she has to
wash, stretch, and otherwise renovate the costume in which she is to
dazzle her spectators at night.... Some of these circus-women marry a
Hercules or a professional fool; at the third or fourth child Mme.
Hercules or Mme. Fool takes her mare by the head, kisses her on the
nose, and bids a weeping adieu to the brave, affectionate beast, the
only friend who has never beaten her. It is done: the whole
family--husband, wife and children, go forth to try their luck as
strolling players. Their theatre is the fair in summer and the street in
winter. Hercules will lift, at arm’s length, enormous weights, and the
children will form the living column, or dance on the rope, while the
mother, as short-skirted as ever, but now plump enough to burst her
vestments, will contribute some kind of music or exhort the outside
public to enter the show.” She frequently fills up her intervals with
fortune-telling; informs young women whether they will be married the
same year, and whether the visionary swain is fair or dark; lets married
men know if their wives are faithful, and wives if their husbands are
engaged in amours. Nurse-maids learn from her that in the mounted
gendarmerie or the cuirassiers there is a hero of six-feet-six, only
awaiting an opportunity of declaring his passion.

This, however, is a sketch of the more fortunate of the strolling circus
artists. Occasionally the husband breaks a limb, or kills himself in
attempting some daring feat; in that case his family is often reduced to
beggary or something worse.



CHAPTER IV.

THE DOMESTIC.

The French Servant, as described by Léon Gozlan and by Mercier--The Cook
and the Cordon Bleu--The Valet.


It has already been seen that domestics have at different periods been
employed in Paris as spies.--According to Léon Gozlan, writing of his
own period, “the police of Paris is almost entirely occupied with the
misdeeds of domestics. Nearly all domestics are thieves or spies, and
they get more so as they grow older. The most honest amongst them steals
at least ten sous a day from his master.” It is to be hoped that if they
steal in this amusingly regular fashion, they at least observe the kind
of morality which has been noticed in some of the inferior state
officials of Russia. One of these complained that a colleague of his was
dishonest and helped himself to things which belonged to the State. “But
you do the same thing yourself,” suggested a friend. “True,” was the
reply; “but this fellow steals too much for his place.”

Let us, however, turning from drollery and from Léon Gozlan--who can
hardly have been quite serious--glance at the household servant of Paris
as a factor in the Parisian community. The French domestic, whether
valet, lackey, or lady’s-maid, is more important and influential than
the domestic of England. It is true that occasionally in an English
house some servant practically rules the family, and that the
relationship between employer and employed becomes so reversed that the
mistress is afraid to ring her drawing-room bell. As a rule, however, in
England the domestic is a nonentity. The man-servant or maid-servant who
waits at an English table is absolutely ignored, and is not even
supposed to understand the conversation which accompanies dinner, nor to
laugh at jokes indulged in by the host or his guests. An English servant
nowadays who shook with laughter at what he overheard in the
dining-room, like black Sambo at Mr. Sedley’s, would be cautioned if not
cashiered. The French domestic is a personage and a power. The “trade of
lackey,” according to Fabrice, in “Gil Blas,” requires a man of superior
intellect. The true lackey “does not go through his duties like a ninny;
he enters a house to command rather than to serve. He begins by studying
his master: he notes his defects, gains his confidence, and ultimately
leads him by the nose.... If a master has vices, the superior genius who
waits upon him flatters them, and often indeed turns them to his own
advantage.” Awaiting the day when he shall himself be great, the
liveried aspirant takes the name of his master when he is with other
lackeys, adopts his manners and apes his gestures; he carries a gold
watch and wears lace; he is impertinent and foppish. “Bon chien se forme
sur maître,” says the French proverb, and the Parisian domestic
religiously takes after his master, even though, as far as intrinsic
resemblance goes, he might simply be an ape in his master’s clothes.

[Illustration: A FAIR.]

That vanity characterises French servants is undeniable. Against the
charge of cupidity, however, which is brought against them, even by
French writers, must be set off one or two famous instances in which
valets have supported their ruined masters for ten or twenty years out
of their own savings. Mercier, all the same, represents the Paris
domestic as hardly less a rogue than does Léon Gozlan. “Out of ten
servants,” he assures us, “four are thieves.” Another native writer,
while not undertaking to combat this proposition, finds a defence for
the accused domestics. “If they are thus, who,” he asks, “has perverted
them? Who, either by example or complicity, has made them thieves and
spies? Every year is committed, to the prejudice of the country and of
agriculture, an abominable crime, namely, the stealing of individuals,
strong and useful, snatched at once from the sunlight and from
simplicity of manners, to be degraded, and sullied with a livery; to
have imposed upon them their master’s vices and follies, and to be
turned into idlers and good-for-nothings, flatterers and procurers.”

Paul Louis Courier looked forward to the time when domestic servitude
would be replaced by household service rendered freely, as if in virtue
of a contract between man and man; and in Paris, as in other capitals,
this state of things seems to be fast approaching, not as the result of
any benignant feeling on the part of the rich towards the poor, but
because, with the spread of education and of democratic ideas, a
disinclination to remain constantly at the orders of another person is
gradually extending. Already servants demand a greater number of
holidays than in ancient times; and there are many who, like the London
charwoman and the “laundress” of the Inns of Court, are ready to give
their services during the day-time, and even until a late hour in the
evening, while reserving to themselves the right of returning, after
their labours, to their own domicile.

There is much to be said, no doubt, on the other side. If there are
masters and mistresses without consideration for their servants, there
are servants who, having kind masters and mistresses, show themselves
without gratitude. But we are dealing specially with French servants,
who, apart from all question of good conduct or bad, enjoy certain
privileges not formally recognised as lawfully belonging to servants in
England. The bonne, for instance, or the cook, who goes to market to
purchase provisions considers herself entitled to “make the handle of
the basket dance”--“fair danser l’anse du panier”--to appropriate, that
is to say, a portion of the things she has bought, or of the money she
has nominally spent, to her own uses. In like manner the house-porter,
or “concierge,” takes for himself, as a matter of course, so many logs
out of every basket of wood ordered by the different tenants, of whom
there are often some half-dozen in the same house. In France, as in
other countries, a valet will sometimes wear his master’s clothes, and
the Parisian lady’s-maid asserts and enforces, more perhaps than in any
other capital, her claims to her mistress’s cast-off apparel.

The cook--both the “cuisinier” and the “cuisiniêre”--has already been
dealt with in a special chapter. It may here, however, be remarked, that
though the best cooks, and certainly the most expensive ones, are in
France, as in other countries, men, the female cook is far indeed from
being held in disesteem. The “cordon bleu,” or blue ribbon, was a
distinction conferred upon the female, not upon the male cook; and a
woman who cooks particularly well is called to this day a “cordon bleu.”
Such a woman was in the service for many years of the well-known
“bourgeois de Paris,” as Dr. Véron loved to describe himself.

If every French servant looks for some particular perquisite, they all
expect a gratuity at the New Year. One of the greatest curses and
greatest blessings which rest upon Paris is the custom of presenting New
Year’s gifts. The word “étrenne” is at once a terror and a joy to
Parisians, according as they belong to the class who give or the class
who receive. In London no gentleman would venture to omit at
Christmas-time to “tip” any one of the underlings who had ever cleaned
his boots, lifted his portmanteau, or twisted the ends of his moustache.
But in Paris, if a gentleman failed at the new year to present
“étrennes” to his boot-black, his messenger, or his valet, derision and
infamy would, according to a French writer, pursue him, not merely
throughout this life, but even beyond the tomb.

Cardinal Dubois, who had a reputation for niggardliness, used to give
his servants their “étrennes” in a manner which they could hardly have
relished. His major-domo came to him one New Year’s Day to demand the
annual gratuity. “Étrennes!” exclaimed the cardinal; “yes, I will give
you your étrennes. You may keep everything you have stolen from me
during the last twelvemonth.”

Let us, before quitting the subject of the Parisian domestic, relate an
anecdote or two. “When I come home,” said a master to his servant, “I
often find you asleep.” “That, sir,” replied the man, “is because I
don’t like to remain doing nothing.”

A nobleman paid a visit to Fontenelle one day, and found him in a very
bad humour. “What is the matter with you?” he asked. “The matter?”
replied Fontenelle; “I have a valet who serves me as badly as if I had
twenty.”

The Abbé de Voisenon preserved his gay humour to his very last gasp.
Just before his death he caused the leaden coffin which he had ordered
beforehand to be brought to his bedside. “There,” said he, “is my last
overcoat.” Then, turning towards one of his servants of whom he had had
reason to complain, he added, “I hope you will not wish to steal that
too.”

A certain high official of Paris lived in the country, and, thanks to
railway facilities, went home every evening to dine. On one occasion he
arrived earlier than usual, and going into his kitchen found the cook in
a decidedly unequivocal position, with a bottle in his hand,
three-fourths of whose contents had already found their way into his
stomach. “Ah, my fine fellow,” exclaimed the master, “I have caught you
drinking my wine.” “It is your own fault, sir,” was the reply. “You were
not due till four o’clock, and it is now hardly three.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Our gallery of Paris types would scarcely be complete without a sketch
of a very familiar personage who, though not peculiar to Paris, abounds
there more than in other capitals. This is the “rentier,” the man of
“small, independent means.” According to the etymology of the word,
anyone should be called a rentier who lives on his “rentes”--the income,
that is to say, derived from the letting of houses or farms; or the
interest of money invested in the Funds. In practice, however, the name
is given exclusively to the man who lives on the interest of money which
he has invested in government securities. He has been described as the
corresponding type, in English society, to the man retired from
business. He lives modestly in the quarter of the Marais or of the
Batignolles, as in England he might live at Clapham or Brixton, at
Holloway, or Camden Town; and he passes a considerable portion of his
time in some favourite café, reading a newspaper of moderate-liberal
politics, or playing at dominoes. Condemned to economy, sometimes of the
most parsimonious kind, he counts every lump of sugar brought to him by
the waiter, and shows a great predilection for halfpenny rolls. In
politics, without being an aristocrat, he is something of a
conservative; and, while stickling for his rights, hates revolutions as
sure to cause perturbations in the securities of the state.

It was doubtless a rentier from whose pocket the thief in Lord Lytton’s
“Pelham” extracted, in a Paris café, a tiny packet which he had seen the
owner put carefully away in his coat-tail pocket, and which, on being
adroitly stolen and curiously examined, was found to contain, not a
precious stone, but a lump of sugar. In the rentier’s defence it may be
mentioned that during the great Napoleonic war, when a universal
blockade had been declared against English exports, and when colonial
produce was everywhere excluded from the ports of France, the price of
sugar rose to such a height as to render this luxury difficult for
persons of straitened means to indulge in.

The existence of such a number of rentiers in Paris goes far to
demonstrate the prudence of the ordinary Frenchman. An Englishman with a
few thousand pounds in his possession would, as a rule, speculate with
it, instead of burying it in the Funds. The speculation would furnish
him with active employment, whereas the permanent investment preferred
by the average Frenchman involves an idle and somewhat ignoble life.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER V.

PARISIAN CHARACTERISTICS.

Parisian Characteristics--Gaiety, Flippancy, Wit--A String of Favourite
Anecdotes.


In our last few chapters we have been glancing about Paris for different
types of character. These are sufficiently varied even where they are
not absolutely dissimilar from each other. But there is one
characteristic which runs through the whole of them; the Parisian, be he
great or small, rich or poor, never loses his national gaiety. He laughs
through his tears and sometimes jests with his last breath.

This gaiety finds expression in manifold ways, and shows itself above
all in innumerable anecdotes. If, as Dr. Johnson maintained, the dullest
book is worth wading through if only it contains a couple of good
anecdotes, no apology need be made for presenting in this chapter a few
of those “bonnes histoires” in which Parisians delight, and which so
often illustrate their character.

Let us begin with one which is very French and particularly Parisian. A
poverty-stricken author, awaking suddenly at midnight, discerned in his
garret a burglar feeling in his empty cash-box. The author burst into a
laugh. The burglar, annoyed to find himself an object of ridicule,
inquired what the author could find so particularly amusing. “A thousand
pardons,” was the polite reply, “but I could not help smiling to see you
searching in the dark for what I shall be unable to find in the
daylight.”

A Parisian had been accustomed for twenty years to pass his evenings at
the house of a certain Mme. R----. He lost his wife, and everyone
expected he would marry the lady whom he had so assiduously visited.
When however, his friends urged him to do so, he refused, saying, “I
should no longer know where to pass my evenings.”

A general who had been beaten in Germany and in Italy perceived one day,
hanging over his door, a drum inscribed with this device: “I am beaten
on both sides.”

The Regent of Orleans wished to go to a masked ball without being
recognised. “I know how to manage it,” said the Abbé Dubois. During the
ball he set the Regent on his guard against disclosing his identity, by
dint of sundry admonitory kicks. The victim, finding the clerical foot
by no means a light one, whispered, “My dear Abbé, you disguise me too
much.”

A French soldier, not knowing how otherwise to pass his time, entered
the fashionable church of Saint-Roch. When the woman who receives money
for the use of chairs approached him and asked for five sous, “Five
sous?” he exclaimed. “If I had five sous I should not be here.”

A lady had a spoilt child, whose praises she was never tired of
sounding. “Your child is delightful,” said a visitor. “At what time does
he go to bed?”

Someone, in presence of the Abbé Trublet, was praising one day the soft
seductive manners of Mme. de Tencin, who was fascinating but without
principle. “Yes,” said the abbé, “if she wished to poison you she would
use the sweetest poison she could find.”

A Paris cabdriver, much vexed by the success of the omnibus, then just
introduced, determined to start an opposition. He proposed to take
passengers at four sous a head, and put this inscription outside his
vehicle: “Fiacribus at four sous.”

A Parisian boy was receiving a long lecture from his father on the
subject of his inattention, no matter what good advice might be given to
him. The boy lowered his head and seemed to be earnestly engaged in
listening to his parent’s observations. Suddenly, however, he exclaimed,
“Ninety-nine--one hundred! That is the hundredth ant, father, that has
gone into that little hole since you have been talking to me.”

[Illustration: PARISIAN TYPES--IN THE BARRACKS.]

A Parisian, who could not brook contradiction, fought fourteen duels by
way of maintaining his opinion that Dante was a greater poet than
Petrarch. When dying from the effects of a wound received in his last
encounter, he admitted to a friend that he had never read a line of
either poet.

A Parisian candidate for the degree of bachelor in letters was being
examined in history. He gave satisfactory answers to every question
until at last he was asked when Charlemagne lived. “Eight centuries
before Christ,” he replied. “You mean after Christ?” said the questioner
with a smile. “I am sorry to disagree with the board of examiners,”
answered the young man with some modesty, “but I maintain my opinion
that Charlemagne must have lived eight centuries before Christ.” This
determined student had, as a matter of course, to be plucked.

Two daughters of Paris, at the bedside of their dying father, who had
gained millions by usury, were shocked to hear the priest, who had just
received his confession, enjoin restitution as the only condition on
which he could possibly be saved. “For pity’s sake, father,” said the
girls, when the priest had left the room, “do nothing of the kind. You
will suffer for a short time, but after the first quarter of an hour you
will be like a fish in water.”

An impressionable Paris banker, the owner of immense riches, died of
grief on hearing that he had lost everything in the world except 100,000
francs. His pauper brother, on inheriting the sum, died of joy.

A Parisian husband, to whom his wife rendered but scant obedience, asked
her one day, when she was leaving the house, where she was going.
“Wherever I like,” she answered. “And when do you propose to come back?”
“Whenever I think fit,” she replied. “If you return one moment later,”
said the husband, with an air of menace, “I shall have a word with you.”

A Parisian schoolboy, meeting a little beggar in the street who declared
himself to be the most miserable boy alive, said to him, with an accent
of deep sympathy, “What! are you learning the Latin grammar?”

The Prince de Condé was one of the wittiest of Parisians. He had been
criticising severely a tedious tragedy called Zenobia, the work of the
Abbé d’Aubignac. “It is written strictly in accordance,” said one of the
Abbe’s defenders, “with the rules of Aristotle” “I don’t blame the
abbé,” replied Condé, “for having followed Aristotle, but I shall never
forgive Aristotle for having caused him to write so tedious a piece.”

A Parisian _grande dame_, before whom a gentleman had just taken out a
cigar, was asked whether she disliked the smell of tobacco. “I cannot
say,” she replied. “No one has ever smoked in my presence.”

The French are perhaps less celebrated than of old for their politeness.
It was a French preacher, however, who, in a sermon delivered before
Louis XIV., observed deferentially “we are nearly all mortal”; and it
was a French professor who, when Louis XVIII. had requested from him
some lessons in chemistry, began his explanations by saying, “These two
bodies, of opposite properties, will now have the honour of combining in
presence of your Majesty.”

A Parisian, in the midst of a dissipated life, was prevailed upon to
enter a monastery. Ere long he confessed to the Superior that in his
moments of solitude he was constantly assailed by a desire to return to
his former mode of existence. The Superior recommended him on these
occasions to ring the great bell of the monastery, which would at once
give him bodily exercise, distract him from evil thoughts, and be a
signal to the other monks to pray for him. He rang, however, so
frequently that the bell went on tolling all night, until at last
representations on the subject were made from the entire neighbourhood.

A cuirassier, who had seen and admired Horace Vernet’s military
pictures, called upon the great painter and asked how much he would
charge him for his portrait. “How much are you prepared to pay?” asked
Vernet. “I could go as high--as high as a franc and a half,” replied the
soldier. “Done,” said Vernet, and in a few minutes he had made a rapid
sketch of the warrior. As the cuirassier left the room he said to a
comrade who had been waiting for him at the door, “I got it done for a
franc and a half. But I am sorry, now, I did not bargain. He might have
taken a franc.”

Sophie Arnould’s dog having fallen ill, the celebrated actress sent him
for treatment to her friend Mesmer, inventor of the pretended science
which bears his name. In a few days the German physician returned the
dog with a letter certifying that it was quite well. The dog, however,
died on the way home. “What a comfort it is,” said Sophie, on seeing the
letter and the dead body, “to know that the poor animal died in good
health.”

On seeing the dancer, Madeleine Guimard, who was thin even to
scragginess, perform in a “pas de trois” with a robust male dancer
leaping about on each side of her, Sophie Arnould said that it was like
two dogs fighting for a bone.

A Parisian lady observed one day, in the presence of a man six feet high
who greatly admired her, that she did not like tall men. He redoubled
his attentions until, seeing her one day in rather a dreamy condition,
he asked her what she was thinking about. “I am wondering how it is,”
she replied, “that you seem to get smaller and smaller every day.”

The Abbé Fouquet was Mazarin’s spy, and he threw numberless Parisians
into the Bastille. One man, whom he sent there one day, saw a large dog
in the court-yard of the fortress-prison. “What has that dog done?” he
asked, “to get in a place like this?” “He has probably bitten the Abbé
Fouquet’s dog,” replied a veteran prisoner.

An amorous youth wished to send to the object of his affections a
passionate, but at the same time witty, epistle. After cudgelling his
brains for some hours to no purpose he went to a bookseller’s, bought a
“complete letter-writer,” and copied out what seemed to him the most
suitable missive, which he duly despatched. The young lady replied to
him next day as follows: “Turn to the next page and you will find my
answer.”

A Parisian publisher, extremely annoyed at having printed a big book of
which he could only sell four copies, bitterly reproached the author,
telling him that his works would not even give him bread. A vigorous
blow with the fist, which knocked out several of the publisher’s teeth,
was the only reply made by the haughty writer. Arrested by the police,
the latter, called upon to explain his conduct, extricated himself by
the following ingenious defence, at which the judge, the audience, and
even the plaintiff could not restrain their laughter. “Gentlemen,” he
said, “I confess that I acted with rather too much warmth. I knocked out
his teeth; but after all, what mischief is done? He told me my works
would not give him bread, and teeth are useless when there is nothing to
eat.”

The Marquis de Favières, a great borrower and notorious for never
returning his loans, went one day to the financier Samuel Bernard, and
said to him: “I am going to astonish you, sir. I am the Marquis de
Favières. I do not know you, and I have come to borrow five hundred
louis.” “Sir,” said Bernard, “I shall astonish you still more. I know
you, and I am going to lend you the money.”

The Parisian “badaud,” an intensification of the London Cockney, has a
reputation, moreover, for making blunders and bulls of the Irish kind.
One of them, hazarding some speculations on the subject of astronomy, is
said to have observed that the moon was a much more important orb than
the sun, because the sun “comes out only in the day-time, when everyone
can see perfectly well. The moon, on the other hand, shines in the
darkness, when a light to guide us is really wanted.”

Another Parisian of the dull species once wrote to a friend as follows:
“A man has just called me a villain, and threatened, if I ever speak to
him again, to kick me. What do you usually do in such a case?”

A Parisian who, without knowing much about horse-flesh, had just bought
a horse, was asked whether the animal was timid. “Not at all,” he
replied. “He has slept three nights running in the stable by himself.”
Another Parisian “sportsman” was reproached by a connoisseur with having
clipped his horse’s ears. He explained that the animal was in the habit,
whenever alarmed, of pricking up his ears, and that he had cut them in
order to cure him of his timidity.

A literary specimen of the Parisian Cockney is said to have written, in
an historical novel, the following remarkable sentence. “Before the year
1667 Paris at night was plunged in total darkness, which was made darker
than ever by the absence of gas-lights, not yet invented.”

In a Russian history of Poland, the Poles were seriously reminded that
it was not until after the partition of Poland that the streets of
Warsaw were lighted with gas.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER VI.

THE STREETS.

The Arrangement of the Streets--System of Numbering the Houses--Street
Nomenclature--Street Lamps--The Various Kinds of Vehicles in Use.


We have already searched the streets of Paris for types of character.
Let us proceed to look at one or two characteristic street objects,
after first taking a general view of the streets themselves.

The streets of Paris divide themselves into two categories: those
parallel to the Seine and those at right angles to it. In the first the
numbers follow the course of the stream, in the second they begin from
that end of the street which is nearest to the river. The traveller,
however, finding himself in any particular street, cannot in the present
day tell at once to which category it belongs, inasmuch as the old
distinction of colour is no longer preserved, by which the parallel
streets used to be numbered in red, and those at right angles in black.

All the Paris streets are lit up throughout the night. Early in the
morning, before daylight, companies of scavengers collect the city
refuse in heaps which, some hours afterwards, are carted away into the
neighbouring country to fertilise the soil. During the day other
scavengers clear the highways of whatever dust or mud they may have
accumulated.

Every day in summer water-carts sprinkle the principal thoroughfares.
These carts carry behind them an apparatus which flings the water over
the whole width of the street. In streets which are rather narrow, or
when the cart cannot keep exactly to the middle, the pedestrians come in
for a part of the municipal spray, as also do vehicles which are low or
open. It is prudent, therefore, to keep one’s eye on the water-cart,
unless a gratuitous shower-bath is absolutely desired.

Every public way bears a distinctive name. Extended thoroughfares are
not infrequently divided up into portions, each named separately; this
is due sometimes to local circumstances, sometimes to the fact that in
the olden days it was a caprice of the citizens frequently to change the
title of the street in which they resided. It was not until the
seventeenth century that the municipal administration officially
intervened in this matter. Then, however, the titles were less often
derived from local circumstances, adulation lavishing on the highways
and byways the names of princes and other personages of wealth or power.
Under Louis XIV. a certain proportion of street names were also drawn
from royal victories or from those officers who had achieved them. The
Revolution inscribed with the names of its heroes, its martyrs, its
triumphs, its principles, not only the new streets which it opened, but
even the old ones from which it wished to efface monarchical titles. The
Empire followed the same system. The Restoration returned to the
Royalist traditions; and the monarchy of July united those of the
Revolution and the Empire, mingling the ancient glories of France with
the modern, and illustrious foreigners with natives of renown.

To pass, however, from streets to street-illumination. Parisians of
to-day, accustomed to the brilliancy of gas, which turns night almost
into day, can scarcely believe that two centuries ago their town knew no
other light than that of the moon and stars. It was the case,
nevertheless; previously to 1667 not a public lamp existed. The
necessity of street illumination had already, however, been recognised
by a civic regulation which required householders, in those localities
where garrotting had become too frequent, to place beneath their
first-floor window, at 9 p.m., a lantern which might cast its beams into
the street. It was M. de la Reynie, lieutenant of police for Paris, who
first, in 1667, instituted public lamps. At the outset a lamp was placed
at the end of each street, with a third in the middle. Then, after a
time, the number of lamps was increased in streets of exceptional
length. Each containing a candle, these “lanternes” were suspended by a
rope from a crooked iron bar in the form of the gallows.

The lamps introduced by La Reynie marked a certain progress in
civilisation. They at least diminished in a remarkable manner the number
of night attacks. La Reynie’s lanterns lasted until 1776, when they were
replaced by so-called reverbères, or reflecting lamps. In a few months
more than half the streets in Paris were illuminated by the new lamps,
which, with some modifications, remained in use until the introduction
of gas.

[Illustration: PARISIAN TYPES--IN SEARCH OF CIGAR-ENDS.]

The most celebrated of all the lamps in Paris was the lamp or
“lanterne” of the Place de la Grève, which on the outbreak of the
Revolution was made the instrument of several summary executions, the
first victims being two retired soldiers and Major de Losme, accused of
firing on the people at the capture of the Bastille. The cry of “À la
lanterne!” was now constantly raised; and when the emigration began a
number of aristocrats were dragged to the fatal lamp, but saved at the
last moment by the intervention of Bailly and La Fayette. The notorious
Foulon, detested by everyone, was really hanged from the fatal lamp. His
son-in-law, Bertier, was also dragged beneath the lamp, but he defended
himself, snatched a musket from one of his guards, and fought until he
was shot down. On the 5th of October the brave Abbé Lefèvre d’Ormesson,
a member of the Commune, was half hanged by a number of wild women.
Fortunately for him, the rope was cut before it had done its work. About
the same time the mob, perishing from hunger, hung to the lamp a baker
named François, accused of hoarding up his bread. François is said to
have been the “last man tied up to the illuminated gallows” of the Place
de la Grève. Camille Desmoulins published, some eighty years before
Henri Rochefort made use of the title, a pamphlet called “La Lanterne,”
or, to quote the title in full, “Discours de la Lanterne aux Parisiens.”
It bore this epigraph: “Qui male agit odit lucem,” which he translated
thus: “Only rogues fear the light.”

If, however, the public lamps of Paris are the most conspicuous street
objects by night, those which first strike the eye by day are
unquestionably the vehicles.

In France, as in other countries, carriages are comparatively of modern
invention; and when they were first introduced they were generally
condemned as calculated to do away with a taste for equitation and to
produce habits of effeminacy. The condition of the streets and public
thoroughfares would, in ancient times, have rendered the employment of
vehicles impossible, and thus persons who did not go on foot went on
horseback until the sixteenth century, when the use of the so-called
“Sedan-chairs” became general. Wheeled carriages were not absolutely
unknown, but in Francis I.’s reign there were but two, one belonging to
the king, the other to the queen. The privilege of constructing and
letting out Sedan-chairs, or “chaises à bras,” was granted by Louis
XIII. at the beginning of the seventeenth century to one of the officers
of his body-guard; and towards the end of the reign, after many other
inventions in the way of vehicles had been tried, two-wheeled chaises,
called “brouettes,” or “wheelbarrows,” were introduced by a Monsieur
Dupin, who received the king’s support in the shape of a formal
authorisation. There was now a great dispute between the privileged
makers of Sedan-chairs and the privileged makers of “wheelbarrows,”
which ended in this compromise--that the new wheelbarrows were not to be
allowed unless drawn exclusively by men. In the reign of Henry IV. the
carriage, or “carrosse,” was introduced: a heavy, lumbering vehicle,
whose windows were hung with leather curtains. The use of glass in
carriage windows had not yet been adopted. Henry IV. was himself driving
in one of these carriages when Ravaillac thrust his hand through the
window and struck the fatal blow.

The first coach with glass windows--“glass-coach,” as the new vehicle
was called when, many years later, it was introduced into England--was
seen in Paris in 1630, brought there from Brussels by the Prince de
Condé. Up to the middle of the seventeenth century no wheeled vehicles
were seen in the streets of Paris except those belonging to private
persons. In 1650, however, it occurred to a man named Sauvage, living in
an hotel in the Rue Saint-Martin, which bore the sign of “Saint-Fiacre,”
to let out horses and carriages to anyone who wanted them; and in time
the name of fiacre was given to all hired carriages. Soon afterwards,
about the middle of the seventeenth century, so-called “diligences” were
established for conveying “with diligence” passengers in common from one
part of France to another; and from the idea of conveying a number of
passengers in the same vehicle from town to town was derived that of the
omnibus, doing a like service within the walls of the capital. The
invention of the omnibus is attributed to Pascal, the author of so many
“Pensées” of a finer type. The original Parisian omnibus was called the
“five sous carriage”--“carrosse au cinq sous”--five sous being required
from each passenger. It held six persons, and carried as a distinctive
sign a lantern at the end of an iron pole, which was fixed on the top,
to the left of the driver.

Until the time of the Revolution the right of letting out carriages was
always made the subject of a privilege or concession, accorded to some
court favourite, male or female. After the Revolution, however, when all
privileges were abolished, those connected with the letting out of
public vehicles came to an end. A few years afterwards, in 1800, a
tariff regulating the prices payable to the drivers of hackney carriages
was drawn up, when, as now, the cost of a drive, or “course,” inside
Paris, was fixed at something above a franc, two francs being chargeable
per hour if the vehicle were hired by time. Originally private carriages
had now become public, so that at last a demand arose for carriages
which might be taken by the month, the week, the day, or the half-day.

Hitherto all the hackney vehicles of Paris had been of one pattern and
furnished with four wheels. They seated either two or four passengers,
and were drawn by one or two horses. In the year 1800 the two-wheeled
“cabriolet” was introduced, containing seats for two, one of which was
occupied by the driver, to whose intimate society the unfortunate
passenger was thus condemned. From this period until 1830 the public
vehicles of Paris were, according to a French writer, “a disgrace to the
capital.” They were drawn by ruined beasts which looked unlikely to
reach any given destination, and they were many of them good for nothing
but firewood.

The Paris hackney vehicle largely excited at this time the ridicule of
wits and song-writers, although, irrespectively of its condition, it has
always figured almost exclusively in literature. In a great city like
Paris the cab is the witness, the auxiliary, or the accomplice in nearly
every event which takes place--it is a mute confidant in most of the
scenes of human life. The song-writer, Desaugiers, has left in verse a
curious history of a cab, supposed to be written by itself, and in which
it relates how one day it conveyed a widow to the altar, another day a
husband to Chantilly without his wife, and a third day the wife to
Gros-Bois without her husband.

Coming to modern times, we find the driver of the fiacre as interesting
a personage as he must frequently find his fare to be. The question
whether, as is asserted, ruined aristocrats are at present earning their
bread as cab-drivers has already been discussed. But it is
unquestionable that many members of what are called the “better” classes
turn to the cab as their last resource, even as Dr. Johnson’s
“scoundrel” was said to turn to politics. Priests, devoid in two senses
of a living, bachelors of arts and sciences, old professors and worn-out
notaries, may be seen plying the whip of the “cocher” in the Paris
streets.

[Illustration: A PARIS OMNIBUS.]

That the London cab--of which the name, as probably everyone knows, is
simply a contraction of “cabriolet”--surpasses the cab of Paris is
admitted even by patriotic Frenchmen. One able writer on the subject of
the French capital says that “the London cabs, which we have vainly
tried to acclimatise in Paris, are, if not comfortable, at least rapid
and well-managed. Our neighbours can boast two elements of incontestable
superiority. These are the drivers and the horses. Despite these causes,
it is probable that the English ‘cab’ would be found less attractive if,
instead of being paid by the mile, it were taken by the journey or by
the hour.” This writer, it should be explained, complains bitterly that
the Parisian cabman, engaged by the hour, proceeds at a crawl, knowing
that he will be paid just as much as if he drove with the celerity of
his London brother, who simply wants to get to his journey’s end and
receive his fare--or as much beyond it as he possibly can.

As regards the omnibuses of Paris, they resemble in many respects those
of London. For instance, they are painted different colours according to
their particular route. When the vehicle is quite full a board or card
announcing the fact is fixed up over the door; and each vehicle is
numbered so that in case of complaint it can be identified by the
passenger.

The private carriages let out on hire--those which can be taken by the
month or for the season--are not permitted to ply in the streets of
Paris like the fiacre. They take up their passenger at his own door, and
can be hired by the year, month, day, or half-day. The form of these
vehicles varies, according to the caprices or the fortune of the hirer,
from plain to magnificent. In France, as in England, rich families
accustomed to winter in the capital leave their own carriages in the
country and hire others by the month. Even wealthy Frenchmen, who reside
altogether in the capital, have of late years shown themselves more and
more disposed to escape in this way the trouble and annoyance connected
with the maintenance of personal equipages. Nor do those Englishmen who
have tried both methods feel a less marked preference for that of hire,
which relieves them from the numerous anxieties associated with the
stable. It will be remembered how Henry J. Byron’s coachman came to that
comedy-writer one day and said that the mare was ill. “What’s to be
done?” asked Byron. “I shall have to give her a ball, sir,” was the
reply. “Very well,” said Byron with a sigh of resignation, “but don’t
ask too many people.”

[Illustration]

[Illustration: NOTRE DAME. THE MORGUE. PONT ST. LOUIS AND HÔTEL DE VILLE.

EASTERN END OF ÎLE DE LA CITÉ]

[Illustration: THE PONT DE BERCY.]



CHAPTER VII.

THE SEINE AND ITS BRIDGES.--THE MORGUE.

The Various Bridges over the Seine--Their Histories--The Morgue--Some
Statistics.


Of all the Paris thoroughfares the most important, in a commercial
sense, is the Seine, which enters the city from the east to flow out in
the direction of the south-west. The Seine, however, does not play in
connection with Paris the part of the Thames in connection with London.
On the Seine no large ships are to be seen above or below bridge; and
until a few years ago the attempts periodically made to establish a
service of passenger steamers, such as we have on the Thames at London,
were usually discontinued after a brief experimental season. Wine, wood,
stone, and other merchandise is sent down the Seine towards Havre at the
mouth. But the Parisians, as a body, make little use of the Seine,
except for bathing purposes, and then only during the warm weather, when
the numerous swimming baths established on the river are largely
frequented.

The Seine enters Paris after receiving at Conflans the waters of the
Marne. The first bridge beneath which it passes, beyond Bercy, is
continued on either side as a viaduct, and is connected with the
external or girdle railway known as the Chemin de Fer de Ceinture.
Constructed in 1858, when the Second Empire was at the height of its
popularity it received the name of “Napoleon III.”

The next bridge, the Pont de Bercy, which dates from 1835, was
originally a suspension bridge. In 1863 it was replaced by the present
bridge, constructed in stone, with five elliptical and very graceful
arches. To the bridge of Bercy succeeds the bridge of Austerlitz, whose
name connects it with one of the greatest battles of the First Empire.
Begun in 1802, it was finished in 1807, and was called the bridge of
Austerlitz in memory of the important victory gained on the 2nd of
December, 1805, by Napoleon, over the arms of Austria and Russia. When
in 1814 the allied armies were in possession of Paris, some observation
was made to the Emperor Alexander of Russia by a time-serving French
official as to the name of the bridge, which, it was suggested, might be
changed. “I do not mind the name,” replied Alexander, “now that I have
crossed the bridge at the head of my troops.” More sensitive, or at
least more irritable than the Russian emperor, Blucher took umbrage at
another of the Paris bridges being called, in commemoration of the great
Prussian defeat, bridge of Jena, and really wished to blow it up. He was
dissuaded from this project by the Russian emperor, who, according to an
anecdote more or less veracious, said that if the Prussian marshal
thought seriously of carrying his project into execution, the emperor
would take up his position on the bridge and perish with it.

Under the Restoration the name of the bridge of Austerlitz was really
changed. It was hence officially designated Bridge of the King’s Garden,
but continued in general parlance to be called by its original name. A
little below the bridge of Austerlitz the Saint-Martin canal pours its
waters into the river; and not many yards lower down the Seine met
formerly the island of Louviers, on which there were no habitations, but
only warehouses for wood. The narrow channel which separated this island
from the right bank of the river was filled up in 1847, when, in a
geographical sense, the island ceased to exist.

At a short distance from what was formerly the Île Louviers, the Seine
throws out on the right an arm, which, before rejoining the main stream,
forms the island of Saint-Louis. In the seventeenth century this island
was augmented by being joined to two smaller ones; the island of Cows on
the east, and the island of Notre Dame (the property of the cathedral)
on the west; and the triple island received the name of Île Saint-Louis
in honour of the great king. The island of Saint-Louis communicates with
the left bank, from which the main stream separates it, by the foot
bridge of Constantine and the bridge of Latournelle. The bridge of
Constantine owes its name to the town taken by the French in 1836. It is
only available for pedestrians. The ancient bridge of Latournelle,
constructed in 1614 on the site of a still older one, was in wood. After
being several times destroyed in this form, it was in 1656 reconstructed
in stone. In 1831 a band of thieves who had robbed the royal library of
many valuable medals, threw their booty from the Pont de Latournelle
into the Seine, whence the greater part of it was recovered by divers.

Close to the Pont de Latournelle is the Pont Marie, of which the first
stone was laid in 1614 by Louis XIII. and Marie de Medicis. The bridge,
however, is said, according to a somewhat improbable statement,
generally accepted by the historians of Paris, to owe its name, not to
the queen, but to Marie, a well-known builder of the time. The next
bridge, as we continue to descend the stream, is the Pont Louis
Philippe, the date of which is indicated approximately by the reign
under which it was built. Begun in 1833, it was finished in 1834, but
since then has undergone many restorations and modifications. The bridge
of Saint-Louis, which joins the two islands, replaces the second section
of the original Louis Philippe bridge, at one time known from its colour
as the Red Bridge.

We now reach the celebrated Pont Neuf, which with its two arms connects
the island of the city, otherwise island of Notre Dame, with both banks
of the Seine. The island in question is the ancient Lutetia, the germ of
modern Paris. The number of habitations on this kernel, this core of the
French metropolis, becomes smaller every year. Before long it will be
occupied only by its ancient historical edifices, with a café-chantant
at one end of the island and the Morgue at the other. Some who begin
life at the former will finish it perhaps at the latter establishment.
As to the other bridges, it may be sufficient to mention some of their
names; which possess for the most part historical significance, and for
that reason have, in many cases, to suit historical circumstances, been
changed. The bridge of the Arts owes its name to the institute on the
left bank, which it connects with the Louvre on the right; and this
bridge has retained its original name since the date of its
construction. But the National Bridge, as it was called when it was
first built under the Republic of 1789, became, after the proclamation
of the First Empire, the bridge of the Tuileries; and at the time of the
Restoration, Pont Royal. The Solferino bridge, dating only from 1860,
the year after the great battle of the French against the Austrians, has
retained its name without intermission.

The Pont de la Cour has, like the Place of the same name, been called
successively Pont Louis XV., Pont de la Révolution, Pont Louis XVI., and
finally (since the Revolution which in 1830 placed Louis Philippe on the
throne) Pont de la Cour. The bridge of the Alma dates from 1855, the
second year of the Crimean war.

Having now disposed, somewhat summarily, of the Paris bridges, let us
say a few words about that mournful establishment, the Morgue, to which
a desperate leap from one of the bridges has so often led. The Paris
Morgue is situated at the back of Notre Dame, close to the bridge of
Saint-Louis. Reconstructed in 1864, it replaces the original one in the
form of a Greek tomb, which was built in virtue of a police edict under
the First Republic. Something of the kind, however, was known long
before, and in ancient chronicles a morgue, where dead bodies were
exposed, is spoken of as far back as the early days of the seventeenth
century. In its existing form the Morgue is a one-storied building, with
two wings, and with slabs of black marble in two lines, for the
reception of twelve bodies. The keeper of the Morgue is supposed, by
the writer of a novel choke-full of horrors, to have dwelling rooms in
this dismal abode; and the perverted imagination of the author
represents him as giving an evening party to his friends in close
proximity to the sepulchral chamber where the remains of so many unhappy
victims are waiting to be recognised by their relatives or friends. The
number of men who find their way to this place of ill omen is, according
to the statistical tables on the subject, far greater than that of the
women. Thus, up to the age of twenty-five, the number of male occupants
of the Morgue was found, during a period of years, to be 515 as against
115 female occupants. Between the ages of twenty-five and forty-five,
among 1,242 occupants, 1,050 were men, and 192 women. From forty-five to
fifty-five, there were 599 men, and fifty-eight women.

[Illustration: AUSTERLITZ BRIDGE.]

What are the kinds of death which feed the Morgue? From 1826 to 1846,
out of 1745 cases of apparent suicide represented at the Morgue, there
were 1,414 deaths by drowning, 114 by hanging, ninety-eight by
fire-arms, forty-six through the fumes of charcoal, fifty-six through
falls from heights, sixteen through sharp weapons, eleven by poison,
seven by crushing beneath vehicles, and 4 by alcohol. About two-thirds
of the bodies exposed at the Morgue are never recognised.

There is so much that is beautiful and elevating, so much that is
curious and interesting, to be seen in Paris, that a visit to the
Morgue--by many persons thought indispensable--should surely, by persons
of ordinary taste and feeling, be regarded as time ill-spent. It ought
to be sufficient to read of it in Jules Janin’s strange novel already
referred to.



CHAPTER VIII.

THE REFORMATION IN PARIS.

D’Étaples, the Pioneer of the Reformation--Nicolas Cop and
Calvin--Progress of the Reformation--Persecutions--Catharine de
Médicis--St. Bartholomew’s--The Edict of Nantes.


Permanent head-quarters of science and study, the left bank of the Seine
was also in the fifteenth century the home of a great religious
movement, by which, for some time, the right bank was scarcely touched.

[Illustration: ON THE SAINT-MARTIN CANAL.]

“Few persons,” says M. Athanase Coquerel _Fils_, “know that the
Reformation of the sixteenth century, before it flamed forth in Germany
and elsewhere, had already been kindled in the capital of France. It had
for its cradle that left bank of the Seine which was then separated from
the town and its suburbs, and divided into two quarters subjected to
special jurisdictions: the University and the vast territory of the
Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Was it not natural, despite the jealous
vigilance of the Sorbonne, that the Paris schools where Abailard had
boldly attacked school-divinity should be the first to awake to the new
spiritual life?”

A professor of the college of Cardinal Lemoine Lefèvre, d’Étaples by
name, produced in 1512, within the precincts of the Abbey, his
“Commentary on St. Paul,” in whose epistles he indicated, five years
before Luther, the essential doctrines of the Reformation. This book was
dedicated to the powerful abbot of Saint-Germain, Briçonnet, and, under
his auspices, assembled in Paris a first group of ardent propagators of
the new ideas. During forty-three years the Reformation spread gradually
to the University, to the town and to the court, though it maintained
its head-quarters in the suburb of Saint-Germain, which people became
accustomed to call “the little Geneva,” and which is to-day the most
Catholic quarter of Paris. The first Protestant put to death for his
religion was one of the pupils of Lefèvre, by name Pauvent, burned on
the Place de Grève in 1524. His martyrdom was followed ere long by that
of many a Huguenot.

Calvin at this period was studying at Paris, but he could not stay
there. The rector of the University, Nicolas Cop, a secret propagator of
the Reformation, had commissioned young Calvin to write a discourse
which, on a formal occasion, he had to deliver in the church of the
Mathurins. Several monks denounced in Parliament the heresies contained
in this discourse. The rector fled to Bâle, where he became a pastor.
Calvin, it is said, had to escape by a window of one of the colleges.

[Illustration: THE SOLFERINO BRIDGE, FROM THE QUAI D’ORSAY.]

It was in the Louvre that the Reformation was first publicly preached at
Paris. Queen Marguerite of Navarre, sister of Francis I. and the
friend of Briçonnet, caused her chaplain and other disciples of Lefèvre
to preach before her in that palace. Thereupon the Franciscan friar,
Lemaud, declared from his pulpit that she ought to be thrown into the
Seine in a sack. The priestly rage which had now been excited soon
spread to the people, and the streets began to resound with cries of
“Death to the Heretics.” “To be thrown into the river,” says Bèze,
writing of this period, “it was only necessary to be called a Huguenot
in public, no matter what one’s religion might be.” A series of
religious murders were now perpetrated; and Francis I., a bigot like his
people, headed one day in 1535 a procession in which he was followed by
his three sons, the court, the parliaments, the trade corporations, and
the brotherhoods, and of which the object was to burn at the stake six
Protestants at six different halting-places. Henri II. took after his
father. On one occasion he assisted, from a window of the Hôtel de la
Rochepot, Rue Saint-Antoine, at the execution of a Protestant tailor who
was burned alive. It is said, however, that the martyr’s eyes, fixed as
they were upon him, inspired him with terror, and that this was the last
heretic whose dying pangs he ever witnessed.

As yet the Protestants of Paris had neither temple nor pastor. But
already they had schools, “hedge schools,” as they were termed, because,
prohibited within the city walls, the teachers took refuge in the
country.

The secret meetings of the Protestants of Paris were often surprised. In
1557 services were held and the Communion was administered in one of the
houses of the Rue Saint-Jacques, beside the building where is now
established the Lyceum of Louis the Great. Excited by the seminarists of
the Collège Duplessis, the populace besieged the assembly for six hours,
stoning many persons as they came out. Several were killed, and 135
prisoners were taken to the Châtelet. Among those who were executed may
be mentioned the young and beautiful widow of a member of the
Consistory, “who,” says a chronicler of the times, “seated on the
tumbril, showed a face of rosy complexion and of excellent beauty.” The
poor woman’s tongue had been cut out, which was often done at that time
in order to prevent the martyrs from addressing the crowds. As a special
mark of favour, the beautiful widow was only scorched in the face and on
the feet; and she was then strangled before the body was finally
consigned to the flames.

The Protestant poet, Clement Marot, to whom Francis I. had given a
house, called the “House of the Bronze Horse,” translated at this epoch
some of the Psalms into French verse, and his work obtained
extraordinary vogue even at the court. The students, who used to amuse
themselves in the evening in the Pré aux Clercs, opposite the Louvre,
replaced their customary songs by the Psalms of Marot; and it became the
fashion for a time among the lords and ladies of the court to cross the
Seine in order to hear the chants of the students. Often they joined in;
and the Huguenot king of Navarre, Antoine de Bourbon, was seen walking
round the Louvre and singing a psalm at the head of a long procession of
courtiers and scholars.

The persecution, which for a time had slackened, was soon revived in all
its fury. Marot took flight. Paris had grown too hot for him; “Paris,”
he says, in an epigram dated 1537, “Paris, thou hast given me many a
fright, even to the point of chasing me to death”:--

    “Paris, tu m’as fait maints d’allarmes
    Jusqu’à me poursuyvre à la mort.”

In spite of everything the deputies of the reformed church continued to
meet at Paris in the Faubourg Saint-Germain, where they held secretly
their first national synod in 1559. This assembly, of which not one
member would have escaped the block had they been discovered, bound into
one corporation the reformed churches of France, until then without
cohesion.

Francis II., husband of Mary Queen of Scots, and through her nephew of
the Guises, allowed this persecuting family to carry on the cruel work
of his father. The illustrious chancellor, Du Bourg, was hanged and
burned in the Place de Grève, as to which Voltaire wrote: “This murder
was of more service to Protestantism than all the most eloquent works
written by its defenders.” Cardinal de Lorraine captured many other
victims by surrounding a Protestant hotel in the Rue des Marais
Saint-Germain. This street was the head-quarters of the reformed church,
and many of its houses communicated with one another by means of
mysterious apertures through which the inhabitants passed when
threatened with arrest. The street in question, one of the most historic
in all Paris, was lately rechristened by the name of Visconti in place
of the one which it had borne for more than three centuries, and by
which it was known, not only to the first Protestants of Paris, the
d’Aubignés and the Du Moulins, but later on to the Duke de la
Rochefoucauld and Mme. de Sévigné, to Racine and Voltaire, to Mlle.
Clairon and Adrienne Lecouvreur, who all for a considerable time
inhabited it, or were accustomed to visit its inhabitants. Meanwhile the
reform continued to spread. Coligny and his two brothers, one of whom
was a cardinal, joined it openly. These three Châtillons were now
violently attacked in the Paris churches, and Jean de Han, a monk, took
one day for his text, “Ite in Castellum quod contrà vos est,” which he
thus translated; “March upon Châtillon, who is against you.”

On assuming the regency, Catherine de Médicis, indifferent to both
religions, hesitated between the Châtillons and the Guises. She summoned
a conference at Poissy in the hope of bringing about a reconciliation.
Theodore de Bèze represented Calvin on the occasion, and for several
months he was allowed to fulfil all the duties of pastor at Paris. The
reformed religion was now celebrated openly, but in general beyond the
walls. Four pastors, without counting Bèze, preached regularly in the
different places of worship. One of them, Malot, had been vicar at
Saint-André-des-Arcs, and the chronicles of the times speak of
assemblies of from two to three thousand Protestants. Catherine de
Médicis placed herself one day at a window in the Rue Saint-Antoine to
see the Huguenots go by to their place of worship, and many of them,
knowing the intention of the queen, wore on that occasion the insignia
of their rank or profession. In 1562 the Consistory of Paris adopted,
for the relief of the indigent, a regulation which was read from all the
Protestant pulpits, with the names of those who were to distribute the
alms, notwithstanding the danger thus brought upon them. Soon
afterwards, indeed, a riot provoked by the clergy of Saint-Médard
disturbed the service that was being celebrated by Malot in the
adjoining temple of the Patriarch. Temple and church were invaded and
sacked, and the officer of the watch, Gabaston by name, was afterwards
hanged for having arrested indiscriminately the rioters of both
religions. The temple was now shut up, while Saint-Médard was restored
and inaugurated anew with great pomp, numbers of Protestants being
sacrificed on the occasion. The constable of Montmorency gained the
sobriquet of Captain Burn-bench (Brûle-banc) from having set fire to the
interior of the reformed church of Popincourt. Subsequently he burned
this same building from roof to basement and sacked another Protestant
temple in the Rue aux Fossés Saint-Jacques.

The edict of January having granted to the Protestants a certain
tolerance, Guise, who boasted that he would cut this edict in half with
his sword, proved his word by the massacre of Vassy. The Protestants of
Paris were terrified at this tragedy, but would not be discouraged. The
very day the duke returned to Paris, his sword reeking with innocent
blood, Bèze went to preach at the temple of Jerusalem, whither he was
escorted by the Prince de Condé, a faithful Huguenot, and by a large
company of mounted arquebusiers.

During the second civil war, in January, 1568, the citizens of Paris
were, by an official proclamation, called upon to warn the Protestants
of the capital to absent themselves from it, “until those who had taken
arms against His Majesty should have laid them low.” In December, after
the “lame” peace, as it was called, Parliament ordered the Protestants
to shut themselves up in their houses “to avoid the murders which might
follow.” It is asserted that ten thousand of them were assassinated
during the six months which succeeded the peace, though this figure is
doubtless exaggerated.

The extermination of the heretics had for a considerable time past been
recommended to Catherine de Médicis by Philippe II., by the Duke of
Alva, and by Pope Pius V. The queen, long irresolute, decided suddenly,
just when the Guises had aggravated the situation by causing Coligny to
be assassinated. Catherine, as we have seen in a previous chapter,
obtained, at the last moment, the consent of the king; but it was
Charles’s brother and successor, Henry III., who took the direction of
the massacre and posted himself in the middle of the bridge of Notre
Dame in order to have both banks beneath his eye. We know how the signal
for the tragedy was given by the bell of Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois, and
how Coligny was the first to feel the Catholic steel. The assassins who
now plunged into their ghastly work carried a white cross in their hat
and a kerchief tied in a knot on their arm.

At the court of the Louvre the officer of the guard, with a list in his
hand, called out the Huguenot gentlemen who were staying in the palace,
and the king, from one of the windows, saw the throats of his guests
cut, to the number of two hundred. It is an error, all the same, to
suppose that the massacre scarcely touched any but the aristocratic
classes; a large portion of the Parisian population, merchants,
workmen, belonged to the Reformation and perished.

[Illustration: THE NATIONAL BRIDGE.]

Towards seven in the morning Charles IX., armed with a blunderbuss,
fired upon some of the fugitives, whom he failed to hit because his
fowling-piece did not carry far enough. This incident has been denied;
but it has been gravely recorded by Brantôme, D’Aubigny, and Goulard. It
was attested moreover to Voltaire by Marshal de Jessé. The Marshal had
known the page, then almost a centenarian, who loaded and re-loaded the
royal blunderbuss.

After the massacre the king went to the Parliament and declared that he
assumed the whole responsibility for what had happened. The audience of
senators loudly applauded the murderer, and the chief president
overwhelmed him with the vilest eulogies. On the 27th August the chapter
of Notre Dame formed a special procession to thank the Almighty for the
“extirpation of the heretics now happily commenced”; and at the same
juncture Panigarole, bishop of Asti, preaching before the queen-mother,
Charles IX., and Henry, King of Poland, praised the king for having “in
one morning purged France of heresy.” Nor did the municipality of Paris
omit to have medals struck “in memory of Saint Bartholomew’s Day.”

More than one professor of the reformed faith now turned renegade. Condé
abjured at Saint-Germain-des-Prés and Henry of Navarre and his sister at
the Louvre. But the infant church was fondly nursed by such devotees as
Bérenger and Portal, who endowed it with a sum sufficient to maintain
its pastors in their functions and to educate candidates for the future
ministry.

The edict of July authorised the exercise of the reformed religion at
two leagues from Paris. Noisy-le-Sec was chosen as the place of worship.
But in September, 1576, the congregation found itself assailed by the
populace, and the faithful had to abandon all public service.

The League, prepared long beforehand by the Cardinal of Lorraine, was
organised in 1576 by two curés of Paris, a number of citizens, and
several fanatical magistrates. From this moment Protestantism was more
completely crushed in the capital than it had been even by the Saint
Bartholomew butchery. The Spanish ambassador reigned at Paris. Hatred of
the Reformation stifled in the breasts of the leaguers all love of their
country; and they went to the almost incredible length of offering, on
the 20th September, 1591, by a formal resolution passed in the municipal
council, the city of Paris and the crown of France to Philip II., King
of Spain.

After the accession of Henry IV., in the interval which elapsed before
the issuing of the Edict of Nantes, which permitted Protestant worship
except within five leagues of Paris, the sister of the new king,
Catherine de Bourbon, made use of the privilege which belonged to the
nobility of performing religious worship in their own houses, with the
doors open. The reformed church found an asylum within her walls; there
the faithful adored their Maker in peace. On all occasions Catherine
protected her co-religionists, and her brother, le Béarnais, when they
came to him with some petition, used to send them on to her,
saying:--“You must apply to my sister; your kingdom is now under
feminine rule.” By the marriage and departure of Catherine in 1599 the
Protestants lost a large part of their advantages; but, become Duchess
of Bar, she returned every year to Paris and gathered the faithful
around her. This continued, despite the frequent complaints of the
clergy, until the Duchess’s death in 1604.

[Illustration: THE RIGHT ARM OF THE SEINE FROM BOULEVARD HENRI IV.]

The Edict of Nantes formally countenanced the reformed religion even
whilst forbidding its adherents to assemble for worship within five
leagues of Paris. The meeting-place chosen in 1599 by the Protestants
was the Château de Grigny, residence of the seigneur Josias Mercier des
Bordes, a distinguished scholar as well as a councillor of state.
Several times, on returning from Grigny, the Protestants were assailed
by the populace, acting at the instigation of such fanatics as the
aristocratic capuchin, Ange de Joyeuse. It was found necessary to erect
extra gibbets for those who attacked worshippers returning from Grigny.

This place of assembly, however, was too remote, and at the end of six
months the king transferred it to Ablon-sur-Seine. Even Ablon proved
inconveniently distant, although it was nearer the capital than the
edict permitted. The difficulties and dangers of the journey to this
spot were great. The Protestants often went by water, and several were
accidentally drowned. A petition presented to the king set forth that
forty infants had died through having been carried in winter to baptism
at Ablon. At length the king found that his own Protestant ministers
could not render their duties to God and to himself on the same day; and
Henry IV., yielding to the influence of Sully and of Calignon, assigned
to the Protestants of the capital, as their place of meeting, Charenton,
two leagues distant.

From that time the street and the faubourg of Saint-Antoine were
traversed on Sunday by crowds of Huguenots, in carriages, on horseback,
or on foot; and for their protection two fresh gibbets had to be
erected, one in the name of the Lieutenant of the Town, the other in
that of the Chief of the Watch. Many of the Huguenots now went to
Charenton by water. On Sundays and holidays the river was covered with
boats of all kinds, conveying, in the words of a Catholic poet of the
time,

    “La flotte des brebis galeuses
     Qui vont au presche à Charenton.”

The lord of the manor, notwithstanding the increased value given to his
property by the arrival of the Huguenots, many of whom established
themselves in the neighbourhood of their one recognised place of
worship, protested constantly against the toleration accorded to them.

Often the Huguenots returning from Charenton, where on Sunday they would
pass the entire day, were attacked; on which an appeal was made to the
king, who took the part of his former co-religionists. The death of
Henry IV. was a terrible blow to the French Protestants, who were now at
the mercy of the Jesuits, of Catherine de Médicis, and of her Florentine
advisers, such as the Concinis. The principal Protestant pastors
deplored aloud from the Charenton pulpit the death of the king, who had
endeavoured to bring about an understanding, if not perfect harmony,
between his subjects of both religions, and whose wise tolerance had
been the cause of his death. Ravaillac was a fanatic who, in striking
his murderous blow, had been prompted only by his hatred of
Protestantism and of the king’s concessions to the Protestants. The
temple constructed at Charenton was pillaged and burnt in 1621. In 1624
it was rebuilt on a larger scale; and the Protestant historians note
that it was approached through an avenue of shops, where books of all
kinds were sold, without any objection on the part of the consistory,
which, although very strict in its rules for the conduct of the
Protestants, did not enforce the Judaic observance of the Sabbath, “as
practised,” says a writer of the time, by the Protestants of Scotland
and England.

Many illustrious persons still belonged to the reformed religion. But
gradually the aristocratic families were bought over to the other side;
and the Jesuit Garasse declared that the church of the Protestants would
soon be a church of beggars. The unhappy Protestants did not in any case
neglect their poor; and as it was found impossible to keep priests and
monks out of the hospitals, which were constantly invaded by them, the
chiefs of the reformed religion established hospitals in secret places,
which, however, were closed as soon as Catholic clergy or the public
discovered them. In 1600 the Parliament of Paris interdicted these
charitable establishments by a formal decree.

The first decisive step towards the revocation of the Edict of Nantes
was the suppression of all representation of the Protestants in the
Parliaments of Paris and of Normandy. In connection with this step Louis
XIV. received, though only as a matter of form, Ruvigny, deputy general
of the reformed church, and the eloquent pastor du Bosc, of whom, after
listening to the exposition of his claims, the king said to the queen:
“He is the best speaker in my kingdom.” He suppressed, all the same, the
only guarantee of justice remaining to the French Protestants.

The Protestant consistories were now required to admit into their
assemblies representatives of the Catholic clergy, whose mission it was
to read to them a so-called pastoral warning. Already the minister
Louvois had attempted to enforce conversion to the Roman Catholic
religion by quartering upon the unfortunate Protestants dragoons, whom,
if they remained faithful to their religion, they had for an indefinite
time to support. The so-called “dragonnades” were for the most part
confined to the provinces. Paris was exempted from them, lest the king
himself should be scandalised by the scenes they well might lead to.
Louvois had sworn to extirpate the “dangerous heresy,” and he assured
the king that he was doing so by peaceful means.

Four days after the signing of the edict, and on the very day of its
formal registration, the Protestant temples were demolished by the mob,
who could not wait for official measures to be taken against the
buildings already condemned. The cemetery adjoining the temple of
Charenton was profaned, and the tombs of the Protestants violated, as, a
century later, were to be violated the tombs of the Catholic kings.
Notices were served on the chiefs of the Protestant families, commanding
them, in the name of the king, to change their religion. Of the
recalcitrants large numbers were sent to the Bastille, while the members
of the consistory were exiled by “lettres de cachet.” Protestants who
had been domiciled in Paris for less than a year were ordered to quit
the capital, and the pastors in general had a fortnight given to them in
which to leave France; while Claude, the most renowned amongst them, was
ordered to quit French territory within twenty-four hours, being
meantime watched by one of the king’s servants. In the months of
October, November, and December, 1685, no less than 1,087 members of the
reformed church emigrated from Paris, 1,098 abjured their religion,
while 3,823, after refusing to abjure, still remained in the city. The
emigration had been arranged beforehand by Claude and his colleagues. A
constant service of guides was kept up between Paris and the frontiers,
though it was death for those who had once quitted Paris to return. The
exiles took flight at midnight on market days, when it was easier to
pass the barriers. Notwithstanding the menace of capital punishment,
some half-dozen Protestant ministers returned to Paris a year after the
revocation in order to do secret duty among their co-religionaries
remaining in the capital. Some were sentenced to imprisonment for life
in the isles of Sainte-Marguerite, others were shut up in the Bastille,
and one of them, the celebrated Claude (Claude Brousson, by his full
name), was hanged. Meanwhile some of the Protestants who still ventured
to stay at Paris continued services at the English Embassy, or at the
legation of the United Provinces. Instead of one chaplain the legation
of the Dutch Republic maintained two. But an edict was soon passed
forbidding French Protestants to attend worship in the chapels of any of
the foreign ministers.

Protestantism was not again to be tolerated in France until 1787, two
years before the Revolution, many of whose reforms (including the
abolition of torture) had been anticipated by the Monarchy, already
condemned.

It must be added that under the Reign of Terror Protestantism was
persecuted from a new point of view. Under the ancient régime, the
complaint against it had been that it rejected much which ought to be
believed. The Terrorists, when public worship had been abolished in
France, hated it for its persistent adherence to doctrines which the
enemies of religion had proscribed.

Paris at present possesses numerous Protestant churches representing
various Protestant sects. The Independents have six different places of
worship, and the Wesleyans two, at one of which the service is performed
in French, English, and German. There is a Baptist chapel, established
some thirty years ago by Americans resident in Paris, a Scotch
Presbyterian church, an American Episcopal church, an English Wesleyan
church, and three Anglican churches.

[Illustration: THE COLLEGE OF FRANCE.]



CHAPTER IX.

THE UNIVERSITY OF PARIS AND THE COLLEGE OF FRANCE.

The French Educational System--Lycées and Colleges--The University of
Paris--The College of France.


The three principal establishments in France connected with “superior
instruction” are the College of France, an independent institution where
lectures free to everyone are delivered by the first literary and
scientific men of the country; the University of France, whose chief
function is to confer degrees; and the Sorbonne, which, when it does not
mean the building of that name, is used to denote collectively the three
faculties of which the Sorbonne may be considered the headquarters. As
regards secondary instruction, the lyceums (_lycées_) are public schools
maintained by the state; the colleges (_collèges_), public schools
supported by the municipalities throughout France. In the innumerable
colleges, of which every provincial town of the least importance
possesses one, the studies are absolutely identical; a source of
infinite satisfaction to a certain Minister of Public Instruction, who
is reported one day to have exclaimed, “It is gratifying to reflect that
at this moment in every college of France the opening lines of the
second book of the Æneid are being construed.”

The future masters for the different lyceums and colleges are all
educated in a special school known as the École Normale, founded under
the First Republic, and where, according to the government order calling
it into existence, the students have not only to receive instruction,
but to be taught the art of imparting it.

It should be noted that all the lyceums or government schools are in
Paris, with the exception only of the Lyceum of Versailles. As regards
the localisation of schools and academies of all kinds, it will be
observed that the French system is entirely opposed to the English. Our
public schools, like our universities, are in provincial towns; those
of France are all concentrated in the capital. Up to the time of the
Revolution, France had universities, many of them celebrated, at
Toulouse, Montpelier, Orleans, Cahors, Angers, Orange, Perpignan, Aix,
Poitiers, Caen, Valence, Nantes, Basançon, Bourges, Bordeaux, Angoulême,
Reims, Douai, Pont-â-Mousson, Rennes, Pau, Strasbourg, and Nancy. In the
year 1794 a decree of the convention suppressed at one blow the whole of
the provincial universities. The idea of one university directing all
public instruction in France, and taking its orders from one central
authority, the Minister of Public Instruction, suited admirably the
views of the first Napoleon, who maintained, with improvements of his
own, the educational system introduced by the Revolution.

[Illustration: THE LYCÉE VOLTAIRE.]

There is now nothing in France corresponding to an English university,
with its different colleges. Until the year 1850 a candidate for the
degree of bachelor of arts, or bachelor of letters, was obliged to show
that he had studied for at least one year in each of the two upper
classes of a lyceum. The government lyceums thus correspond in a certain
measure to the colleges of an English university. But in the year just
mentioned all certificates of study were abolished, and candidates for a
degree had now simply to prove themselves capable of passing the
required examination. The effect of this reform, certainly favourable to
students of limited means, was at the same time to call into existence a
host of private establishments corresponding to those of our crammers.

The College of France, as already mentioned, is in no way connected with
the modern University of Paris. It was toward 1530 that Francis I., at
the solicitation of Guillaume Budé and Jean du Bellay, instituted, apart
from the ancient university, two free chairs, one for Greek, and the
other for Hebrew. According to a national tradition, the university
dates from Charlemagne, who in any case occupied himself with
educational improvements and created at Paris some important schools.
But the formal privileges granted to the university by the Crown can be
traced only to the reign of Philippe Augustus at the very beginning of
the thirteenth century. Up to that time the schools in France were
dependent on the churches and monasteries; in Paris on the metropolitan
cathedral. But towards the end of the twelfth century the cathedral
schools had become too small for the number of students. Thus the most
celebrated masters delivered free lectures on the hill of
Saint-Geneviève, where now stands the Panthéon. The students, in spite
of complaints raised by the Bishop of Paris, attended the open-air
lectures in crowds, and in order to regularise this relative liberation
of the schools from the authority of the Church, Philippe Augustus
founded, under the name of _Universitas parisiensis magistrorum et
scholarum_, a teaching institution which was independent alike of the
Church and of the ordinary civil and criminal jurisdiction.

The left bank of the Seine, formerly known, and with reason, as the
University bank, became more and more numerously inhabited, and was soon
covered with dwelling-houses, schools, and churches. The teaching of the
Paris University was in a measure international, as is sufficiently
indicated by its official division into four nations: nation of France,
nation of Picardy, nation of Normandy, and nation of England, which
became nation of Germany in 1437, when Paris was at length delivered
from the English domination by Charles VII.

The liberal spirit in which the schools of the University of Paris were
thrown open to foreigners could not fail to bear fruit. The students of
all countries, hastening in those distant days to Paris, made it the
intellectual capital, and at the same time the most popular city of
continental Europe. In the course of less than a century were seen on
the benches, or, to be literal, standing on the straw, of the schools of
Paris, Albertus Magnus from Germany, Duns Scotus from Scotland, Raymond
Lulli from Spain, Roger Bacon from England, Brunetto Latini and his
pupil, Dante Alighieri, from Italy. “Eldest daughter of our Kings,” was
the name given to the University of Paris throughout France.

The history of the Paris University, with its exclusive privileges and
its special government by its own authorities, abounds in stories of
dissensions and open combats between the students and the townspeople.
These town-and-gown fights were often attended by fatal results.
Occasionally too the universities had to struggle against the Church,
and especially against the Order of Jesuits, the object of the Jesuits
being to get everywhere into their hands the instruction of the rising
generation, so that they might eradicate, at least in the future, all
germs of Protestantism.

The order founded by Ignatius Loyola made every endeavour to subjugate
the university, which, however, refused to admit the Jesuits, even as
students. But they were allowed to establish a college of their own; and
in 1564 the rector of the university, Julien de Saint-Germain, who was
well-disposed towards the Jesuits, without consulting the different
nations, admitted them to “letters of scholarity,” the equivalent
apparently of degrees. The University of Paris protested, and brought
the question before the Parliament of Paris, which, however, came to no
decision; and thenceforward war between the university and the Jesuits
was carried on with scarcely any intermission.

Some idea of the life led by the professors and students of the
university may be gathered from the edicts of restriction from time to
time issued in connection with the institution. Under Henry III., when
the discipline of the university had somewhat declined, the use of any
language for teaching purposes except Latin was forbidden. The members
of colleges were no longer to have women in their service, and from all
colleges fencing-masters were to be excluded. The university, with some
hesitation, took part against the Reformation; but after the victory of
Henry IV., it sent a deputation to wait upon him, and while expressing
its regret for any annoyance it might have caused him, joined with him
in declaring war against the Jesuits, whom he hated, regarding them as
the promoters of more than one of the attempts made against his life.
The Jesuits were now banished from France, but at the same time new
statutes were given to the university, by one of which it was forbidden
to receive any student who did not belong to the Catholic religion.
Other statutes proscribed dancing, fencing, and acting.

In 1603 the king permitted the return of the Jesuits on certain
conditions which they were not likely to observe. Under the reign of
Louis XIV. the struggle between the university and the Jesuits was
particularly severe; and to an “apologia” issued by a friend of the
Order the theological faculty of the university replied in these
terms:--

“The whole Church looks upon you as usurpers of the power of its
pastors; all your actions are attempts against the sanctity of their
character. You disparage them in the pulpit, you defame them in your
books, you attack them in general, and slander them in particular. The
years of your society can be counted by your continual rebellions
against the successors of the apostles; you rise up against them in
conspiracy and with arrogance.” Nevertheless the Jesuits, when one of
them became confessor to the king, regained credit and favour, and gave
to their college the name of Louis the Great.

Under Louis XIV. an edict regulated the teaching of law in the
university, and ordered that Roman law and French law should be taught
concurrently. Already, however, the history of this institution was
drawing to a close; the “Eldest daughter of the Kings” was destined not
to survive the fall of the monarchy. A decree of the Convention dated
March 20, 1794, suppressed the University of Paris, together with the
numerous provincial universities which had existed up to this time.

[Illustration: THE LYCÉE CHARLEMAGNE.]

Of France’s three great teaching institutions, the Collège de France is
the youngest. To return for a moment to this establishment. Its
professors, to the number of twenty-eight, teach the language and
literature of mediæval France, the Greek language and literature, Latin
prose and Latin verse, the Hebrew, Chaldaic, Syriac, Arabic, Persian,
and Turkish literatures, the Sanscrit and Chinese languages and
literatures, the language and literature of the Slavonians, the modern
languages and literature of Western Europe; history, morality, and the
law of nations; comparative legislation and political economy,
archæology, mathematics, astronomy, general and experimental physics,
medicine, chemistry, the natural history of organic and inorganic
bodies, and comparative embryogeny. Among the celebrated lecturers of
the College of France may be mentioned, in modern times, Michelet,
Quinet, Mickiewicz, the Polish poet (who here delivered an admirable, if
at times somewhat mystical, series of lectures on the Slavonians), and
finally Renan.

Just opposite the College of France is the Collège du Plessis. “From my
window at the College of France,” says M. Renan, in the preface to his
“Abbesse de Jouarre,” “I witness daily the fall, stone by stone, of the
last walls of the Collège du Plessis, founded by Geoffroi du Plessis,
secretary to King Philippe the Long in 1517, enlarged in the seventeenth
century by Richelieu, and in the eighteenth one of the centres of the
best philosophical culture. There Turgot, the greatest man in our
history, received his education from the Abbé Sigorgne, the first in
France to grasp perfectly the ideas of Newton. The Collège du Plessis
was closed in 1790. In 1793 and 1794 it became the saddest of the Paris
prisons. There the “suspects” were confined, condemned in a sense
beforehand; whence they only issued in order to go to the revolutionary
tribunal or to death. I often try to imagine the language these walls,
now torn open by the builders engaged in reconstruction, must have
heard; those grassplots whose last trees have just been cut down. I
think of the conversations which must have been held in those large
halls of the ground floor during the hours immediately preceding the
summons; and I have conceived a series of dialogues which, if I wrote
them, I should call ‘Dialogues of the Last Night.’ The hour of death is
essentially philosophical; at that hour everybody speaks well, everyone
is in the presence of the Infinite, and is not tempted to make phrases.
The condition of good dialogue is the sincerity of the personages. Now,
the hour of death is the most sincere--when one approaches death in
happy circumstances, entirely oneself, that is to say; sound in mind and
body, without previous debilitation. The work I now offer the public is
probably the only one of this series that I shall execute.”

[Illustration: THE LYCÉE CONDORCET.]

[Illustration: THE COURT OF THE SORBONNE.]



CHAPTER X.

THE SORBONNE.

Robert de Sorbonne--The Sorbonne, its Origin and History--Richelieu--The
Revolution--The New Sorbonne--Mercier’s Views.


The Sorbonne owes its origin and its name to Robert de Sorbonne,
chaplain and confessor to Louis IX. Like so many other scholars of the
same period, this priest had been compelled to rely on alms to defray
the expenses of his education. Touched by miseries which he himself had
shared, he established a society of secular ecclesiastics, whose
function it was to give gratuitous instruction; and he petitioned the
king to endow the charitable enterprise with a dwelling for those pupils
who could not pay for their lodging. Nor was his request unheeded.
Thanks to royal patronage he was able, in 1253, to open his college.
Indigent scholars were taught for nothing; those not quite destitute of
means paid five sous and a half weekly. The institution was directed by
the associates, who had neither superiors nor principals. The Sorbonne,
as the new College was soon to be called, was attached, like all other
establishments of the kind, to the University of Paris, and the
connection, throughout its long and brilliant history, never ceased. But
the ties which bound it to this central institution became looser and
looser as the Sorbonne increased in importance. The provisor, who after
a time made the appointments in the Sorbonne, was himself elected by a
jury composed of the local archdeacon, the great chancellor, the masters
and the faculty of theology, the deans of law and medicine, the rector
of the university, and the procurators of the “four nations” into which
the university was divided. The election took place in this manner until
1524, after which the provisor was elected by the members of the
college, the former jury of election being now only called upon to
confirm the choice.

If the Sorbonne was the great school of theology in the middle ages, it
was not its cradle; theology was born with scholasticism in the ninth
century. It had already nourished with Longfranc, Saint-Anselme,
Abailard, and Pierre Lombard before bearing riper fruits with Albertus
Magnus and Saint Thomas Aquinas. Already the court of Rome submitted
questions of pure dogma to the theologians of the University of Paris,
while reserving to itself all questions of canonical law. But the
college founded in so humble a manner by Robert de Sorbonne was soon to
become the official organ of scholastic theology; and in its bosom were
discussed questions which embarrassed the Church of France and even the
court of Rome. From its walls went forth the sentences, decrees, and
censures which were to have force of law throughout the Catholic world.

The Sorbonne was not only a teaching establishment, it conferred
degrees. The theses of the Sorbonne acquired particular celebrity, the
“Sorbonic thesis” being regarded as the ideal of the theological essay.
During the middle ages and even to the end of the seventeenth century
the Sorbonne was the great theological authority; but it had politics of
its own which, viewed in the present day, do not seem to have been
always in accord with its religious teaching. It took part with Étienne
Marcel in the parliamentary and almost revolutionary movement which he
directed in opposition to the party of the dauphin and of the
aristocracy. It was a doctor of the Sorbonne, the Franciscan friar, Jean
Petit, who wrote the “apologia” for the assassination of Louis of
Orleans; and another doctor of the same institution, Jean Larcher, who,
with the deputies of the university, publicly accused the dauphin of the
murder on the bridge of Montereau, where, on the 10th of May, 1410, the
Duke of Burgundy, Jean Sans-Peur, was assassinated by men belonging to
the dauphin’s suite. To avenge this crime Philippe the Good, Jean’s son,
seconded by the King of England, took possession on the 20th of June,
1420, of Montereau, which remained in the power of the English until
1428.

The Sorbonne, representing the Church, condemned Joan of Arc as a
sorceress, communicated its judgment to the Duke of Bedford, and, in a
petition addressed to the King of England, demanded her extradition.
When the religious war was at its height this body fulminated decrees in
favour of the League, the Guises, and Spain against Henry III. and Henry
IV. It was to the Sorbonne that the Guises addressed themselves in order
to obtain theological support for their projected usurpation. The
learned assembly did not go so far as to recommend the assassination of
Henry III., but it pronounced in favour of revolt, and consigned the
partisans, first of Henry III. and afterwards of Henry IV., to eternal
damnation, finally offering the crown of France to Philip II. of Spain.
After the triumph of Henry IV. the Sorbonne continued for a time its
seditious manifestations; when Cardinal de Bourbon, its “apostolic
conservator,” was arrested on the denunciation of the
Procurator-general, it at the same time received a reprimand from the
Parliament of Paris.

Forced to submit to the new government, it retracted its doctrine as to
the lawfulness of “tyrannicide,” supported in this not very startling
retractation by the authority of the court of Rome. Finally, under Marie
de Médicis, Louis XIII., Richelieu, and Louis XIV., the Sorbonne was a
firm supporter of the Bourbon dynasty, together with the Church of
France and the University of Paris. Richelieu was its constant patron.
Under Louis XIV. it took part with the Gallican Church against the
pretensions of the court of Rome. As to the evil done or attempted to be
done by the Sorbonne, it will be sufficient to say that besides helping
to bring Joan of Arc to the block, it condemned Vanini, whom the
Parliament of Toulouse ordered to be burned alive. It pronounced also
against Ramus and Descartes, the adversaries of the Aristotelian
philosophy; Montesquieu for his “Esprit des Lois” and Buffon for his
“Natural History”; besides Rousseau, Marmontel, Helvetius, Diderot,
Mably, and the whole of the Encyclopædists. Defenders of the Sorbonne
point out with justice that it also condemned the absurdities of many
visionaries, charlatans, and impostors, and that if it was an obstacle
in the way of science, it also showed itself at times a barrier against
superstition. It opposed the Jesuits; but what, after all, can this
count for against its condemnation of Jeanne d’Arc, John Hus, and
Vanini, to say nothing of its encouragement and justification of the
Saint-Bartholomew massacre? It condemned no one to death, not having
power to do so; but, like the Inquisition, it handed over to the civil
power the alleged infidels, apostates, and sorcerers, whom it deemed
worthy of the severest punishment. The boldest decree it ever issued was
the one already referred to, which was circulated throughout France
during the wars between Protestants and Catholics. After exhorting the
Parisians to defend against King Henry III. the Catholic religion as
menaced by him, it declared that sovereign “degraded from his royal
power,” and, after his assassination, consigned to eternal death
everyone who dared to recognise Henry of Navarre as his successor. In
this denunciation were specially included all those who treated with him
or paid taxes to him. No true Catholic, declared the Sorbonne, could
recognise as king, “without offending God, a prince who had lapsed into
fatal heresies, even though he might afterwards have abjured them.” This
decree, as issued by the Sorbonne, was signed by the clergy of Paris and
put into circulation throughout France.

[Illustration: FAÇADE OF THE NEW SORBONNE.]

Of all the famous men connected with the Sorbonne, the most famous was
the one known throughout the world as Cardinal de Richelieu, who
represented politics without pity, as the Sorbonne represented theology
without mercy. The tomb of the great man found its place naturally in
the church of the Sorbonne, which he had himself erected. The head
stolen from the coffin during the Revolution was carried back there not
many years ago; his heart will follow, should it ever be discovered.

The ancient Sorbonne came to an end, as a matter of course, at the epoch
of the Revolution. It was suppressed as soon as the Revolutionists had
time to attend to it, in 1790. If the Sorbonne was greatly indebted to
the minister of Louis XIII., it had again to thank a Richelieu for new
life and new fame when, in 1821, the minister of Louis XVIII. made it
the head and centre of teaching throughout France. At the same time a
body of electors was appointed who represented, not the scholasticism
and theology of the middle ages, but modern literature and modern
science. Among those named in 1821, the year of the Sorbonne’s
resuscitation, may be mentioned Biot, Poisson, Gay-Lussac, Thénard,
Haüy, Brogniart, and Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, who were to be followed by
such men as Dumas (the celebrated chemist), Bulart, Dulong, Pouillet,
Milne-Edwards, and Leverrier. Nor must the names of Guizot, Victor
Cousin, Saint-Marc Girardin, Jules Simon, and Nisard be omitted from the
list of those writers and professors who have given even greater
reputation to the Sorbonne in the present day than it enjoyed of old.
The Sorbonne, however, of history, the Sorbonne associated with severe
theology and with still severer theological persecution, perished
beneath the first blows of the Revolution; thus verifying a prophecy put
forth when Richelieu, while reconstructing its walls, seemed disposed to
modernise its spirit--

    Instaurata ruet jamjam Sorbona. Caduca
    Dum fuit, inconcussa stetit, renovata peribit.

[Illustration: THE CHURCH OF THE SORBONNE.]

“If,” wrote Mercier at the end of the eighteenth century, “the Académie
Française is the seat of literary despotism, the Sorbonne may be called
the throne of ignorance, superstition, and folly. This foundation is the
work of an obscure priest, whose name it retained, though it was
afterwards enlarged, beautified, and amply endowed by Cardinal
Richelieu, who, as we have had occasion to mention in the foregoing
description, never formed an establishment which did not tend in some
measure to support his favourite plan of carrying arbitrary power beyond
all bounds. Whilst his politics made slaves of the subjects, he
supported this kind of spiritual inquisition in order to enthral their
very minds. The Sorbonne was consulted on all occasions, and the decree
of a few ignorant divines respected as the oracle of the Deity himself.”



CHAPTER XI.

THE INSTITUTE.

The Institute--Its Unique Character--The Objects of its Projectors--Its
Constitution.


The Institute--immediately facing the wayfarer who crosses by the Bridge
of Arts from the right bank to the left--is, says M. Renan, who was
himself a member of it, “one of the most glorious creations of the
Revolution, and a thing quite peculiar to France. Many countries have
academies which may rival our own by the distinction of the persons
composing them, and by the importance of their labours; France alone
possesses an Institute in which all the efforts of the human mind are
bound together as in a sheaf; where the philosopher, the historian, the
philologer, the critic, the mathematician, the physicist, the
astronomer, the analyst, the economist, the jurisconsult, the sculptor,
the painter, the musician, may call one another colleagues.” The simple
and great men who conceived the design of this absolutely new
establishment were preoccupied by two thoughts: the first, admirably
true, that all the productions of the human mind have something in
common and are interdependent; the second, more open to criticism, but
connected in any case with all that is deepest in the French mind, that
science, literature, and art are state affairs, recognisable in
corporate form, which the country is bound to protect, encourage, and
reward. On the last day but one of the Convention, October 25th, 1795,
appeared the law destined to realise this idea, so prolific of great
things. The object of the Institute was the progress of science; the
general utility and glory of the Republic. Every year it renders an
account to the legislative body of the progress accomplished. It has its
budget, its collections, its prizes. It sends out scientific missions at
its own expense. To form the nucleus of the institution forty-eight
persons were named, a third of the whole number of members, the
remaining two-thirds to be nominated by the original members. The three
men to whom, in particular, this project was due, were Lakanal, Dainon,
and Carnot. Unhappily France was at that time in the condition of a
patient who is just recovering from an attack of fever. Entire branches
of human culture seemed to have disappeared; the moral, political, and
philosophical sciences were at the lowest level. Literature scarcely
existed. The historical and philological sciences counted scarcely more
than one man of eminence, Silvestre de Sacy. On the other hand the
physical and mathematical sciences were at one of their highest states
of development. The division of the institute into classes and sections
was affected by this condition of things. There were originally three
classes; one answered precisely to the Academy of Sciences as it now
exists, and contained nearly the same sections; the second was called
the class of moral and political science; the third represented
Literature and the Fine Arts. It embraced what is now known as the
French Academy, the Academy of Fine Arts, and the greater part of the
Academy of Inscriptions. The principal error of this division was that
it took no count of historical science. To tell the truth, the mistake
was excusable, since the science in question had then scarcely come into
existence in France. Historical science presupposes long traditions,
together with a refined and, up to a certain point, aristocratic
society. Philosophy, on the other hand, cannot be made to order, and
defies classification. Something rather scholastic, savouring of the
pedagogue, presided over this primitive distribution. The second class
had a section called “Analysis of sensations and ideas.” Six persons
were constantly occupied with this difficult labour. The third class
comprised eight sections, which were entitled: “Grammar, Ancient
Languages, Poetry, Antiquities and Monuments, Painting and Sculpture,
Architecture, Music, and Declamation.”

This organisation lasted six years; to be subsequently modified by
various regulations. In 1816, immediately after the Restoration, a
serious blow was struck at the Institute, whose revolutionary origin was
not forgotten. The First Consul had suppressed the class of moral and
political sciences, without depriving of their titles those who had
belonged to these classes. The case was not the same in 1816, when
twenty-two persons, with the painter David, the Bishop Grégoire, Monge,
Carnot, Lakanel, and Sieyès, were deprived of a title on which they
themselves conferred honour. On the other hand seventeen persons
received, by royal edict, a title which has no value except when it is
conferred on a man of letters or of science by the free suffrage of his
peers.

Under Louis XVIII. and Charles X. science was held as of no account, and
the academy which represented historical studies was invaded by
gentlemen of the chamber, who had neither literary nor scientific
claims. The Duke of Berry, the Duke of Angoulême, everyone connected
with the royal family or with the court could be admitted to the honours
of the Institute. M. Renan declares that there were candidates so
degraded as to wish to become members of the Institute simply that they
might wear an embroidered uniform and carry a sword.

The Revolution of 1830 brought better days, though the Legitimist party,
defeated in the public street, had still the majority in all the
academies. Gradually the slightly-educated men of modern fashion and
ancient birth--“benè nati, benè vestiti, moderatè docti,” as used to be
said at All Saints, were eliminated, or rather were allowed to disappear
in the ordinary course of nature without being replaced.

Such as it now exists, “the Institute,” says M. Renan, “is one of the
essential elements of intellectual labour in France, controlled as it is
by three powers, neither of which can be allowed to reign
absolutely--the government, the academies, and the public. These three
great patrons are not always of one mind, and the divisions between them
afford the necessary guarantee of liberty for thinkers, writers, and
inventors. Constituted into irresponsible senates, the academies would
often show themselves narrow, egotistical, and self-willed. The
government, possessing means of action superior to any the academies can
possess, corrects at need their unjust exclusiveness; while the public,
with the crown of glory it holds in its hand, can always console those
who, in spite of everything, are kept out. Alone privileged to decide in
intellectual questions, the government would often be too much
influenced by personal considerations. But the academies bring it back
to a healthy appreciation of the men themselves, while the control
exercised by the public prevents it from yielding everything to court
favour or party interests. The public is often a bad judge; it is
incapable of appreciating certain scientific merits. The government and
the academics can enable scientific men to dispense with public
encouragement in order to pursue those special studies which fifty
persons in Europe follow and understand, while they at the same time do
justice on the intriguers and charlatans who contrive so often to enlist
the suffrages of the public and the favours of journalists. Nowhere is
the unity of power more dangerous than in intellectual matters.
Intellectual liberty results from contrary forces, unable to absorb one
another, and helping by their very rivalry the cause of progress.”

The Institute is composed of five academies. I. The French Academy,
founded in 1635 by Richelieu, with forty members, of which mention will
afterwards be made in a special article. II. The Academy of Inscriptions
and Belles-lettres, founded in 1663 by Colbert, with forty titular
members, ten free members, eight foreign associates, and fifty
correspondents. III. The Academy of Sciences, founded in 1666 by
Colbert, with sixty-five titular members, ten free members, eight
foreign associates, and ninety-two correspondents. IV. The Academy of
Fine Arts, formed between the years 1648 and 1671 by the union of the
three academies of sculpture and painting, of music, and of
architecture; with forty titular members, ten free members, ten foreign
associates, and forty correspondents. V. The Academy of Moral and
Political Sciences, with forty titular members, six free members, six
foreign associates, and from thirty to forty correspondents.

The Institute is administered by a commission composed of a president,
a secretary, and a treasurer, all of them members. Each of the academies
has a president and a perpetual secretary. The Academy of Sciences has
two perpetual secretaries. The French Academy has a director, a
chancellor, and a perpetual secretary. Members of the academies are
elected by the members of each of them. Under the Monarchy the election
had to be confirmed by the decree of the sovereign; and on two occasions
under the Restoration King Louis XVIII. refused to approve the elections
of the Academy of Sciences. The French Academy is the only one of the
five which enjoys liberty of election. The new member is presented to
the chief of the state by the perpetual secretary. In 1852, under the
Second Empire, M. Berryer, as a Legitimist, refused to be presented,
which was not allowed to invalidate his election.

Every two years the whole body of the Institute is summoned to decree a
prize of 20,000 francs, founded by the Emperor Napoleon, for “the work
or the discovery most fitted to honour or to serve the country.” On
these occasions each of the academies puts forward a candidate, in
support of whose claims all the members of the Institute give their
suffrages.

Every year, on the 14th of August, the Institute holds a public meeting
at which the members of all the academies are invited to attend. The
Palace of the Institute, also known as the Palais Mazarin, is the
ancient college founded in conformity with one of the clauses of
Cardinal Mazarin’s will, and constructed in 1663 on the site of various
mansions, including the Hôtel de Nesle, with its famous tower. The
Institute possesses a choice, and at the same time copious, library,
which is not absolutely free to the public, but to which admission can
be obtained by presenting the card of one of the members of the
Institute.



CHAPTER XII.

THE ACADÉMIE FRANÇAISE.

The Académie Française--Its Foundation by Richelieu--Its
Constitution--The “Forty-first Chair.”


The French Academy, the most celebrated of the five academies included
in the Institute, owes its origin to Cardinal de Richelieu, who had
conceived the idea of basing the glory of France not only on the power
of her arms, but also on the influence of her language and literature.
Men of letters had been accustomed in France, since the time of Ronsard,
to assemble periodically for the discussion of literary subjects; and
the great minister determined to give to this species of association a
regular and legal form. Accordingly, on the 2nd of January, 1635, the
newly founded French Academy received letters patent signed by Louis
XIII.; when the Parliament, jealous of this new power, refused for two
years to register what it looked upon as a parliament of writers. The
first task undertaken by the French Academy was to purify and fix the
language. This has occupied it more or less fully throughout its
existence, though at this moment the best dictionary of the French
language is not the one issued by the French Academy, but the dictionary
of M. Littré, whom, on the recommendation--one might almost say
denunciation--of Monseigneur Dupanloup, Bishop of Orleans, the Academy
rejected. Apart from its ordinary dictionary, of which six editions have
appeared, the first in 1694, the sixth and last in 1835, the Academy has
long been at work on a special etymological dictionary, with which,
however, it has made but little progress; nor can it be said to have
succeeded at any period of its existence in making itself the
representative of contemporary literature.

It consisted, from the beginning, of forty members, to each of whom was
assigned a particular seat, designated as a “fauteuil” or arm-chair,
though, as a matter of fact, the academicians have always sat on
benches. On the death of an academician his particular “chair” becomes
vacant, and his successor is named by the thirty-nine survivors. Among
the first French Academicians appointed in 1634 and 1635 only four names
are to be found with which the ordinary student of French literature
could be supposed to be well acquainted: those of Voiture (twelfth
chair), Vaugelas (fourteenth chair), Balzac (nineteenth chair), and
Chapelain (thirty-seventh chair). The modern Balzac, the greatest
novelist of France, if not the greatest novelist the world has seen, was
never, a member of the Academy; and M. Arsène Houssaye (who will
scarcely be invited to become one of the forty “Immortals”) has written
a book called “The Forty-first Chair,” in which he shows that throughout
the history of the Academy there has always been some writer of the
first eminence for whom, if no other could have been offered to him, a
forty-first chair should have been found. Voltaire (who in 1747 was
elected to the twelfth chair) may be said to have anticipated Arsène
Houssaye’s view when he observed that the Academy was an assembly to
which noblemen, prelates, eminent lawyers, men of the world, “and even
writers” were admitted. As a rule, men of learning have more chance of
being elected than men of talent. Birth, moreover, social position, and
conduct, count for much. Alexandre Dumas the elder was never asked to
join the Academy; and it was understood that if he proposed himself he
would not be accepted. For this reason Alexandre Dumas the younger
refused for many years, and until his father’s death, to join the
Immortals, though he could have been elected long before had he chosen
to put himself forward. Originally the French Academy would, on rare
occasions, invite a distinguished writer to join its body, but in
consequence of some refusals (one of which came from Béranger in the
form of a song) it now elects no one who has not first of all asked to
be received.

The style of man peculiarly acceptable as a member of the Academy was
well described by M. Guizot when one day the merits of a candidate were
being discussed in his presence. “I shall vote for him,” said Guizot;
“for whatever may be said on the subject, he has the qualities of a true
academician; he has a good demeanour, he is very polite, he is
decorated, and he has no opinions. I know that he has written a few
books, but what of that? A man cannot be perfect.”

To return to M. Arsène Houssaye and his forty-first chair, here are a
few of the names by which that absent article of furniture might have
been adorned.

I. Descartes, from whom dates, in France at least, true liberty of
thought. Great writer as well as profound thinker, the author of the
“Discours sur la Méthode,” possessed every qualification for election to
the Academy. “Qui benè latuit benè vixit,” however, was his motto, and
he was allowed to remain in the obscurity he loved.

II. Pascal, author of the “Lettres Provinciales,” and of the admirable
“thoughts” which he did not even think it worth while to put together,
troubled himself as little about the Academy as did the Academy about
him.

III. Molière, the great comedy-writer, was also an actor, and for that
reason, considering the prejudices of the time, could not be admitted to
the Academy.

After Molière’s death his bust was placed in the Hall of Meeting, and
Saurin wrote this verse in his honour:

    “Rien ne manque à sa gloire; il manquait à la nôtre.”[A]

[A] Nothing was wanting to his glory; he was wanting to ours.

IV. La Rochefoucauld, the famous author of the “Maxims,” would not think
of entering the Academy because, as he said, it was impossible for him
to make a speech of even a few lines; and an address on being elected,
containing a eulogium in honour of the member replaced, is expected from
each new academician.

V. The author of the Historical and Critical Dictionary was an academy
in himself. Everything, said someone who knew the work, is to be found
in Bayle; but you must know where to look for it. He worked fourteen
hours a day, and died without having time to think of the French
Academy, whence, in any case, his free unorthodox opinions would
certainly have excluded him.

VI. Regnard, the best French comedy writer after Molière, was too much
occupied with his own work and with amusing himself to dream of joining
the French Academy, where, moreover, by reason of his loose life, he had
but little chance of being elected.

VII. J. B. Rousseau, who in the days before André Chénier, Béranger,
Victor Hugo, and Alfred de Musset was justly regarded as the first lyric
poet of France, did not belong to the Academy. He left Paris, it is
true, for some scandalous verses attributed to him, but which he was
never proved to have written; and he died in exile.

VIII. Vauvenargues--always to be remembered by the finest of his many
fine thoughts, “les grandes pensées viennent du cœur”--died young,
so that the Academy may be said not to have had time to elect him.

IX. Lesage, author of “Gil Blas” and of several comedies, married the
daughter of a carpenter, which might well have told against his
election. But his exclusion from the Academy is generally attributed to
his having failed to write a tragedy.

X. The Abbé Prévost, author of “Manon Lescaut,” was not a member of the
Academy; and it is quite possible that the fact of his having written
“Manon Lescaut” may have kept him out.

XI. Piron, already mentioned as the author of a famous epigram against
the Academy, was really elected to it. But to be valid, the election had
to be confirmed by the sovereign, and Louis XV. would not ratify the
Academy’s choice. “What are the emoluments of the place?” asked the
king; and being told that an academician received, by way of honorarium,
one thousand francs annually, he assigned to Piron a pension for that
amount.

[Illustration: THE DOME OF THE PANTHÉON, SPIRE OF ST. ÉTIENNE DU MONT,
AND TOUR DE CLOVIS.]

XII. Jean Jacques Rousseau was never asked to join the Academy, nor did
he ever show any wish to belong to it.

XIII. Diderot was naturally not an academician.

XIV. Mably, the learned and vigorous publicist, who, before socialism
had been formulated into a creed, put forth socialistic views, replied
to many persons who urged him to become a candidate for academical
honours: “If I were a member of the Academy people would perhaps say,
‘Why does he belong to it?’ I would rather hear them say, ‘Why does he
not belong to it?’”

XV. The poet, André Chénier, one of the victims of the Revolution, was
never a member of the French Academy; nor was Mirabeau (XVI.), nor
Camille Desmoulins (XVII.).

XVIII. Beaumarchais not only wrote brilliant comedies, but took part in
all kinds of speculations, some of them hazardous; and it may be for
this reason, but possibly also because he was looked upon as only a
playwright, that he was never asked to join the Academy. Neither
Chamfort (XIX.) nor Rivarol (XX.) were Academicians. Lamennais, who,
from the infallibility of the Pope passed to the infallibility of the
people, was never a member of the Academy.

Women are not admitted to the Academy, or Mme. de Lefayette, Mme.
Dacier, Mme. Cotin, Mme. de Stael, perhaps even the most illustrious of
them all, George Sand, might have been academicians. Scarcely, however,
George Sand.

In ancient days a dramatist seems to have had no chance of being elected
to the Academy unless he had produced tragedies. Corneille, Racine,
Voltaire, were all academicians, whereas Molière, Regnard, and Lesage
were all excluded. The modern Academy has shown itself less prejudiced.
Scribe was a member of the Academy, and so is Labiche, who, in a smaller
way, may be regarded as the Molière of our time.

       *       *       *       *       *

Suppressed, as too aristocratic, under the Revolution, the Academy came
to life again as a literary branch of the Institute, and under the First
Empire resumed a more independent existence in something like its old
historic form. Since its revival it has traversed the Empire, the
Restoration, the reign of Louis Philippe, the Republic of 1848, and the
Second Empire. Finding itself sufficiently in accord with the three
first governments, and tolerating the Republic of 1848, the Academy
objected, it would seem, to the Second Empire; in proof of which it need
only be mentioned that not one of Napoleon III.’s political men was ever
admitted to the Academy. This literary society has now had time enough
to get accustomed to the Third Republic, which has lasted in France
longer than any governmental system since the downfall of the ancient
Monarchy.

The Academy has plenty of funds at its disposal, arising from donations
made to it at one time or another, and it receives annually from the
state a sum of 85,000 francs. It awards prizes for eloquence and prizes
for poetry; prizes for virtue (the celebrated “priz Monthyon”) and
prizes for the best work of fiction, regarded from a literary, artistic,
and moral point of view. This prize was adjudged to M. Alphonse Daudet
for his “Fromont jeune et Risler ainé,” of which the moral tendency
would not, perhaps, be obvious to everyone, though as a rule the works
crowned by the Academy are such as a careful girl might safely allow her
own mother to read. A prize of 20,000 francs was voted to M. Thiers for
his “History of the Consulate and of the Empire,” but the money was
returned by the grateful historian on the understanding that the
interest it produced should be given annually as a prize for the best
essay on some historical subject. A prize of 4,800 francs, founded by
Dr. Toirac, is given annually for the best comedy in verse or prose
played during the previous year at the Théâtre Français; and M. Louis
Langlois, a famous writer of Latin elegiacs, has founded an annual prize
of 1,500 francs for the best translation in verse or prose of a Greek,
Latin, or other foreign work.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER XIII.

THE PANTHÉON.

The Church of Clovis--The Church of Sainte-Geneviève--France in the
Thirteenth Century--The Building of the New Church under Louis
XV.--Mirabeau and the Constituent Assembly--The Church of
Sainte-Geneviève becomes the Panthéon.


The College of France and the Sorbonne stand close together at the
corner of the Rue Saint-Jacques and the Rue des Écoles; and between the
College of France and the new Sorbonne, on the right, stands the Lyceum
of Louis the Great (Lycée Louis le Grand), formerly a Jesuit college,
founded by the order in 1550 in the Hôtel de Clermont; the property of
Cardinal de Praat in virtue of letters patent which the Parliament of
Paris declined to register until some dozen years after they had been
issued. Expelled from Paris after the attempt made by Jean Châtel on the
person of Henry IV., the Jesuits did not again obtain permission to
teach until 1618. Amongst their celebrated pupils were some who might
well be suspected of having been educated elsewhere--Molière, for
instance, and Voltaire.

Originally known as the College of Clermont, this institution became, in
virtue of letters patent, a royal foundation in 1662, when it received
the name of Louis the Great. It was afterwards, in 1753, connected with
the university. Here, indeed, until the time of the Revolution, the
assemblies of the university were held, as well as those of the “four
nations” included in it. The Revolution brought the Lyceum, with its
monarchical name, to an end; but it was revived at the time of the
Revolution, when it was once more called “Collège Louis le Grand.”
Public institutions, however, like streets, ships, and theatres, change
their names in France with each new form of government. The Lycée Louis
le Grand was called, under the Republic, the Consulate, and the Empire,
the Collège de l’Égalité; and under the Republic of 1848, when M. Carnot
was Minister of Public Instruction, Collège Descartes.

A few more steps, and from the point where the Rue Saint-Jacques is
intersected by the Rue Soufflet, may be perceived the Panthéon, the name
given to the imposing edifice which under monarchical governments has
always been known as the Church of Sainte-Geneviève.

On the site of the Panthéon stood originally a church dedicated by
Clovis to the Holy Apostles. It was destroyed by the Normans in one of
their incursions, and replaced soon afterwards by the Abbey of
Sainte-Geneviève. The bell which tolled in this once-celebrated edifice
hangs to-day in the Lycée Corneille.

For a number of centuries the Church of Sainte-Geneviève seems to have
had an uneventful history. Dulaure, however, in that strange book, “Les
Singularités Historiques,” gives some remarkable details in regard to
the life led and the actions performed by the clergy attached to
Saint-Geneviève, and indeed by the French clergy generally.

Under the reign of Louis VII., styled the Young, Pope Eugène III., says
this writer, driven out of Rome, came in 1145 to Paris, and a few days
after his arrival wished to celebrate mass at the Church of
Sainte-Geneviève. The canons to do him honour brought before the altar a
large silk carpet, on which the Pope knelt to pray. After the mass the
sovereign pontiff retired to the vestry, when his servants, lay and
ecclesiastic, took possession of the carpet, claiming that it belonged
to them simply because the Pope had made use of it. The servants of the
canons being of a different opinion snatched the carpet from the hands
of the Pope’s servants. The carpet, dragged on one side and the other,
gave way and was soon in pieces; the accident caused insults on both
sides followed by blows. The king, who had witnessed the tumult, went
forward to stop it; his authority, however, was powerless against the
fury of the combatants, and in the confusion he himself was struck.
Victory remained with the holders of the place--the attendants in the
Church of Sainte-Geneviève. The Pope’s followers, with torn clothes and
bleeding faces, went before their master, who complained to the king and
begged him to punish the insult. Thereupon the Pope and the king
resolved to change the constitution of the Sainte-Geneviève Monastery.

It was first resolved to send away the canons and replace them by monks
from Cluny, but this idea was abandoned. A new abbé was named and twelve
new canons were introduced from the Abbey of Saint-Victor, who were
formally installed in the Abbey of Sainte-Geneviève, to the great
displeasure of the former canons, who did all in their power to get rid
of these strangers.

They employed against them calumnious threats and even violence. In the
excesses of their animosity they ordered their servants to go in the
night and break in the doors of the church, take possession of the
building, and prevent the new canons from singing the matins, uttering
shrieks which prevented them from being heard.

[Illustration: THE PANTHÉON, FROM THE LUXEMBOURG GARDENS.]

In spite of the precautions taken by the Abbé Suger, in charge of the
church, they took possession of a great portion of the treasure,
detaching from the shrine of Sainte-Geneviève gold ornaments which
weighed fourteen marks, their object being to get together a sum
sufficiently large to send to the Pope in order to prevail upon him to
change his resolution in regard to the monastery. The conduct of the
canons caused all kinds of reports to be circulated; among others one to
the effect that the head of Sainte-Geneviève had been cut off and
removed from her shrine, whereupon the shrine was solemnly opened and
the body of the saint displayed, with its head, while at the same time
the Te Deum was sung.

Those indeed were lawless times; nor had matters improved in Paris in
the next century, when Jacques de Vitry, Archbishop Cardinal and Legate
of the Pope in France, wrote such an account of life in Paris as Pope
Eugène III. would doubtless have approved.

“Although the Lord has said,” wrote Jacques de Vitry in his “Western
History,” “that it is more blessed to give than to receive, the men of
our time, above all those who are in a position to command others, do
not confine themselves to extorting money from their subjects by
requiring from them unlawful presents, or by filling their greedy hands
with the product of the taxes and exactions with which they so unjustly
oppress them; they do far worse. The thefts, the rapines, and the acts
of violence which they exercise, now openly, now in secret on the
wretches under their dependence, render their cruel tyranny
insupportable. These lords, notwithstanding the pompous titles of which
they are so proud, do not omit to go out robbing and to perform the
trade of mere thieves; also that of brigands, for they ravage whole
tracts of country with their incendiarism. They respect nothing, not
even the property of the monasteries, nor of the churches. They profane
even the sanctuary, from which they carry away the objects consecrated
to the celebration of the mass. Whenever, for the slightest causes,
disputes arise between the poor and their lords and masters, the latter
succeed through their satellites in selling the property of these
unhappy beings. On the highways you see them, covered with iron, attack
the passers-by without sparing either the pilgrims or the monks. If they
wish to exercise personal vengeance against simple, innocent men, they
attack them through their bandits, scoundrels who follow the streets of
the towns and boroughs, or who, concealed in secret places, lay traps
for these poor wretches in order to catch them and shed their blood. On
the sea they are pirates, and without fearing the anger of God, they
plunder passengers and merchants, in many cases burning the ships and
drowning in the waves those whom they have despoiled. Princes and nobles
without faith are the associates of these robbers. Far from protecting
their subjects and maintaining them in peace, they oppress them; far
from repressing the rascals and keeping them down through the fear of
punishment, they favour them, become their patrons, and for the money
they receive from them help them in their scandalous actions. The French
nobles are like unclean dogs, who, always famishing, dispute with greedy
crows the flesh of carcases. The nobles, by the agency of their
provosts and their satellites, persecute the poor, rob the widow and the
orphan, lay snares for them, pick quarrels with them, and attribute to
them imaginary crimes in order to extort money. It is a common practice
with them to put in prison and load with chains men who have committed
no offence, and to make these innocent persons support cruel tortures in
order to extract sums of money from them. This is all done in order to
obtain supplies for their prodigality, their luxuries, their
superfluities, their mad expenditure on the vanities of the century, to
pay their usurers, to support mimes, singers, actors, jugglers,
parasites, and flatterers, veritable dogs of their courtyards.”

“This sketch,” says Dulaure, “traced by a man of serious character,
proves how great was the evil, how excessive was the disorder, how
entirely all principles were subverted. Such were the knights of the
twelfth and thirteenth centuries, whose loyalty, so much exalted in
novels, in poetical compositions, and on our modern stage, is constantly
disproved by history. These men, to whom so many glorious exploits, so
many generous actions are attributed, were merciless brigands, wretches
who would now figure at the hulks or in the dungeons of Bicêtre.”

[Illustration: PLACE DU PANTHÉON.]

Some idea of the extreme corruption of the French clergy in the
thirteenth century may be formed from a letter written by Pope Innocent
III. in 1203 to the Abbé of Saint-Denis, close to Paris. “There are,” he
said, “in your town priests who, abusing the clerical privilege, go
through the streets at night and visit the most disreputable houses,
breaking in the doors and taking the same liberties with the daughters
of respectable citizens. The provost and the officers of justice, from
respect for the liberties of the clerical order, do not dare to lay
hands on them; and if you, my son, wish to stop these disorders, the
culprits at once appeal to us, invoke our authority, ignore your
jurisdiction, escape the canonical punishment, and continue with
audacity their lawless habits.” The Pope then authorises the Abbé of
Saint-Denis to exercise against these “priestly libertines” all
ecclesiastical powers, without attending to their appeals.

The period of religious and warlike fanaticism was also a period of
licentiousness and persecution.

The Jews, at the chivalrous time of the Crusades, were particularly
unhappy. Their faith, their wealth, their usurious practices, exposed
them at all times to persecution, and the Crusaders, before starting for
the Holy Land, habitually massacred them. Kings drove them from the
country, and then, on payment of large sums, allowed them to return.
Dulaure (“Singularités Historiques”) attributes simply to avarice the
accusations, always justified by the fanaticism of the people, which
rulers brought against them, and which were withdrawn on payment of
money.

In 1290 a woman living at Paris had pawned some clothes for thirty sous
to a Jew named Jonathan, and wishing to take them out for the Easter
holidays without repaying the money advanced, was told, according to her
sworn testimony, that she might do so if she would bring to the Jew a
piece of the Holy Sacrament, which she did. Then the Jew thrust his
penknife into the Host, from which blood flowed in abundance without in
any way terrifying him. Then he took a nail and hammered it into the
Host; threw it into the fire, when it hovered above the flames; plunged
it into a kettle of boiling water, which it reddened with its blood,
receiving meanwhile no injury. These miracles did not frighten Jonathan.
The son of this Jew, seeing Christians go to church, said to them, “It
is useless for you to pray to your God, my father has killed him.” Then
a woman who lived next door to Jonathan entered his house under pretext
of getting a light, and took away the Host in the skirt of her dress;
after which she placed it in a wooden vessel and carried it to the curé
of Saint-Jean-en-Grève, to whom she narrated what she had seen. The
Bishop of Paris had Jonathan arrested, tried to convert him, and as the
Jew refused, burnt him alive.

“Jonathan,” says Dulaure, in commenting on this strange story, the
authenticity of which he regards as undeniable, “possessed a large
fortune. Was he convicted in any legal manner? Why was not the woman
brought to justice who gave the Host to Jonathan? She was more criminal
than the Jew. Everything in this process makes one suspect that an
odious plot had been woven against the Israelite in order to get hold of
his fortune.”

It was not the Jews alone, however, who were maltreated in these cruel
times. How severely Marguerite de Bourgogne, wife of Louis X., and
Blanche and Jeanne de Bourgogne, her sisters-in-law, were punished for
their undeniably licentious lives. The Abbey of Maubuisson, near
Pontoise, was the theatre of their misdeeds. Their principal accomplices
were Philippe and Gauthier d’Aunay, and they were both of them
maltreated, skinned alive, and then decapitated and hung by the arms to
the gallows. A beadle who had been mixed up with the princesses’
intrigues was condemned to the gibbet, and a monk who had played a still
more active part in connection with them was tortured to death. Queen
Marguerite, after being imprisoned in the Château Gaillard with her
sister-in-law Blanche, was strangled there in 1315; Jeanne was detained
in captivity at the Château of Dourdan--that same Jeanne de Bourgogne
who, according to the tradition, threw from the Tour de Nesle into the
Seine the students of whose discretion she wished to make sure.

       *       *       *       *       *

But to return to the Church of Sainte-Geneviève, which, though by its
site one of the very oldest in Paris, dates, by its structure, only from
the eighteenth century. In 1754 Louis XV., finding himself seriously
ill, vowed “that if, through the intercession of Sainte-Geneviève, he
recovered, he would raise to her honour a new and sumptuous temple.”
Restored to health he showed himself ready to keep his word. The
architect employed to plan the structure was Soufflot, a man imbued with
memories of Rome, where he had passed several years of his life. On the
6th of September, 1764, the first stone of the new church was laid by
Louis XV. The construction had advanced far, and the dome had already
been commenced, when Soufflot perceived with horror that the massive
edifice threatened collapse, ugly cracks showing themselves here and
there in the masonry. In despair, full of self-distrust, and harassed by
the raillery of his critics, Soufflot died in 1720, without seeing the
completion of his work. Rondelet, who took his place, substituted for
the graceful but fragile pilasters and columns of his predecessor, heavy
masonry supports devoid of beauty, but at least capable of keeping the
roof aloft. For the pursuance of his undertaking, however, he required
money, and the want of it more than once suspended or retarded his
operations. Until 1789 the building went on with exasperating slowness.
Then, however, it received an unexpected impetus. Mirabeau had just
died. The Constituent Assembly wished to give the great orator a tomb
worthy of him, and at the same time to create a monument in which might
be brought together the tombs of all those great citizens who had
deserved well of their country: to create a Westminster Abbey. This
monument already existed; for it was precisely a sort of Panthéon that
Soufflot, never suspecting to what purpose his edifice would be turned,
had constructed. “In a civic transport,” says M. E. Quinet, “the
Constituent Assembly baptised with the name of Panthéon a monument which
now for the first time seemed to receive a soul. The church soon became
a temple of Renown--a place where the People gather to pronounce their
judgment on the dead. This is why that colonnade bears its splendours so
high aloft; why the cupola lifts itself up as though it were a crown on
the head of Paris. Here occurs the apotheosis, not of a
shepherdess--Sainte-Geneviève, that is to say--but of France, of the
country, in the form of illustrious men who have gone to breathe the air
of another shore. What had been blamed as superfluous luxury for the
prophetess of Nanterre was assuredly necessary for the glorification of
glorious men. How could the columns be high enough, the capitals proud
enough, the wreaths rich enough to celebrate those to whom their
terrestrial country owed terrestrial honours? The defects which had been
found in the church became so many beauties in the Panthéon.”

The assembly voted the following decree: “Art. I. The new edifice of
Sainte-Geneviève shall be used for the reception of the ashes of the
great men belonging to the period of French liberty. Art. II. The
legislative body shall alone decide to whom this honour is to be
awarded. Art. III. Honoré Riquetti Mirabeau is judged worthy to receive
such honour. Art. IV. The legislature shall not, in the future, have
power to decree this honour to any of its members who may die; that is a
question which shall be decided by the succeeding magistracy. Art. V.
Any exceptions which may be made in favour of great men who died before
the Revolution, shall be decided only by the legislative body. Art. VI.
The directory of the department of the Seine shall with promptitude put
the edifice of Sainte-Geneviève into a condition to fulfil its new
functions, and shall cause to be engraved over the pediment these words,
‘To the great men of a grateful country.’ Art. VII. Until the new church
of Sainte-Geneviève is finished the body of Riquetti Mirabeau shall
repose beside the ashes of Descartes, in the vault of the old church.”

The remains of Voltaire were transported to the Panthéon soon after
those of Mirabeau, and with a pomp no less magnificent. On the 30th of
May, 1791, Gossin, deputy for Bar-le-Duc, addressed the Tribune in an
enthusiastic outburst thus: “It was on the 30th of May that the honours
of sepulture were refused to Voltaire, and it is on the same day that
the national gratitude must acquit itself of its duty of reverence
towards one who has prepared men for toleration and liberty.” The
procession which accompanied the relics of Voltaire on their conveyance
to the Panthéon was imposing in the extreme. Representatives of numerous
corporations and professions attended to do homage to his memory, and at
one point in the cortège eight women dressed in white, and carrying a
statue of Liberty which appeared to be pointing to a complete edition of
Voltaire’s works, were borne along in a gilded car. Finally came the
sarcophagus, drawn by twelve white horses. After halts innumerable the
solemn procession drew up before the Panthéon to the flare of torches.

The name of Panthéon, sufficiently heathen in character, had not
hitherto been applied to the church of Sainte-Geneviève; but it appeared
a few days later in a petition demanding the same honours for Rousseau,
and signed by poets, artists, and scholars. The Assembly would willingly
have acceded, but such was the resistance of the inhabitants of
Montmorency, who eagerly requested that the ashes of this great writer
might be left in their midst, that it deferred its decision.

On the 21st of January, 1793, the Convention decreed that the body of
Lepelletier, deputy of Saint-Fargeau, who had been assassinated for
having voted the death of the king, should be translated to the
Panthéon. Then Marat, to whom, after the stab of Charlotte Corday, the
Convention had already erected a mausoleum on the Place du Carrousel,
was judged worthy of the Panthéon. On the 25th of November, 1793, Marie
Joseph Chénier, speaking before the Tribune, and armed with documents,
proved the transactions which Mirabeau had had with the Court,
contrasting therewith the disinterestedness of Marat, whose remains, as
he eloquently maintained, should displace at the Panthéon those of
Mirabeau, unworthy of such a resting-place. The Convention adopted his
propositions in a decree which was not executed until after the fall of
Robespierre, on the 22nd of September, 1794. The official programme of
the ceremonies, still extant, is interesting enough. After having fixed
the order and the route of the cortège the authors of the programme
added: “The procession will stop when it arrives on the Place of the
Panthéon; a tipstaff of the Convention will advance towards the door of
entrance, and there will be read the decree which excludes from the
Panthéon the relics of Mirabeau. Thereupon the body of Mirabeau shall be
conveyed out of the precincts of the Panthéon, and handed over to the
commissary of police for that section. Then the body of Marat shall be
placed in triumph on a platform elevated in the Panthéon.... All
citizens assisting at this ceremony shall be unarmed.” From the last
injunction it is evident that the authorities feared the possibility of
a riot. Everything, however, passed off quietly. The body of Mirabeau
was laid in a corner of the cemetery of Saint-Étienne-du-Mont.

At length, on the 19th of October, 1794, the turn of Rousseau came. His
body, borne by a deputation of the inhabitants of Ermonville, where he
had breathed his last, was received at the Tuileries, where the future
arch-chancellor pronounced over it an impressive speech. The remains of
the philosopher, enclosed in an urn, were then conveyed to the Panthéon,
escorted by the crowd and preceded by an orchestra playing various airs
from his own “Devin du Village.”

But the political tide was already on the turn. On the 1st of February,
1795, the bust of Marat, placed in several of the theatres and cafés,
was hooted and overthrown. His remains, according to the Abbé de
Montgaillard in his history of the Revolution, were snatched from the
Panthéon, dragged through the streets by young men, and cast amongst the
refuse of the Rue Montmartre--“a tabernacle,” says the abbé, “worthy of
such a god.” This account, however, is inaccurate; it was only Marat’s
effigy which was thrown into the sewer, his relics were transported to
Saint-Étienne-du-Mont.

In the meantime the Panthéon, as a structure, was in a state of neglect.
These installations of illustrious men within its walls had taken place
more or less hastily, and the works were far indeed from completion.
Mercier, in his “Picture of Paris,” thus describes a visit which he paid
to the Panthéon in 1795: “I ventured on the staircases of the edifice,
across ladders, heaps of cement, hammers, long saws and moving
scaffoldings. The least sound reverberated, the least movement seemed to
announce the approaching fall of the dome, and for the moment I imagined
myself interred in the Panthéon without any pleading or contest. When I
quitted the edifice I experienced the pleasure which is felt by sailors
and warriors at the end of tempests and combats: that of discovering
that I was alive.” By the time the Panthéon had been put into a
satisfactory condition the Empire had come into existence, and Napoleon,
who had just re-established public worship, wished to present the
Republican temple to the clergy, whilst maintaining the purpose for
which the Constituent Assembly had designed it. A decree, dated 20th of
February, 1806, dedicated the Panthéon to public worship under the name
of Church of Sainte-Geneviève, and consecrated it as a sepulchre for
citizens who, in the career of arms or in that of the administration or
of letters, had rendered eminent services to their country. The remains
of thirty-nine persons, not all of them truly illustrious, were
deposited in the Panthéon under the Empire; but the fall of the Empire
brought about another change. Louis XVIII. suppressed the necropolis,
and removed from the pediment the famous legend, “Aux grands hommes, la
patrie reconnaissante.”

The last illustrious men admitted to the honours of the temple supposed
to have been erected to them by a “grateful country” were Victor Hugo,
the great Carnot, the deputy Baudin, killed on a barricade during the
_coup d’état_ of 1851, General Marceau, and La Tour d’Auvergne, “the
first grenadier of France,” whose name, by order of Napoleon, used to be
pronounced at every roll-call of his regiment, when this answer was
solemnly given: “Mort sur le champ de bataille.”

[Illustration: WELL IN THE COURTYARD, CLUNY MUSEUM.]

The large open space to which the Panthéon gives its name--Place du
Panthéon--was the scene of terrible conflicts between the troops and the
insurgents during the Revolution of February, 1848, and again during the
unsuccessful insurrection of June in the same year, when troops and
national guards all took part against the workmen set free to starve or
fight by the closing of the national workshops which, for financial
reasons, could no longer be carried on, and against the social
democrats who placed themselves at their head. On the northern side of
the Place stands the Sainte-Geneviève Library, which, like all the Paris
libraries, is open to all comers.

[Illustration: INTERIOR OF THE PANTHÉON.]

A foreigner who happened to visit the Quartier Latin, and observed the
students strolling, lounging, or driving off to the theatre or a ball,
might fancy that they led an easy and idle life, but he would be
mistaken. These youths, ardent pleasure-seekers as they are, give
three-fourths of their time to severe study. Earlier in the day a
visitor to the Rue Saint-Jacques might have seen them waiting
impatiently for the classes to begin at the College of France; might
have seen them issue thence, full of enthusiasm for the great thinkers
of their time, and wend their way to this or that public institution
affording facilities for private study. A proportion of them would be
found to resort to the Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève, where a noble
collection of books ranged on shelves adorned with delicate sculptures
may well conduce to the tranquil exercise of the mind.

The first library of Sainte-Geneviève, which was founded as a private
institution in 1624, and became national property in 1790, occupied in
the buildings of the old abbey of the same name a habitation which had
to be abandoned some forty years ago, because the building began
everywhere to crumble and threaten collapse. The new library was
finished and inaugurated in 1850; and although the external architecture
is somewhat plain and heavy, the interior is highly artistic, with many
a mural painting by master hands. Formerly this library possessed a very
curious collection of crayon sketches, portraits of personages of the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, which were transferred by an
imperial decree to the library of the Rue de Richelieu. It can support
this loss, however, rich as it is in quaint and valuable specimens of
art. For its manuscripts, with certain exceptions, the Bibliothèque
Sainte-Geneviève is not remarkable; though it boasts a particularly fine
collection of old printed books, with bindings sumptuous and fantastic
enough to turn the head of a bibliophile.

Dependent on the church of Sainte-Geneviève, which it was destined to
survive, is the church of St. Stephen-of-the-Mount. Among the wonders of
Saint-Étienne-du-Mont is the tomb of Sainte Geneviève, whose relics,
patroness saint of Paris as she was, were burnt in 1793 by the Paris
Commune in the Place de Grève. During the fête of Sainte Geneviève, from
the 3rd to the 11th of January, the church is crowded with pilgrims from
the Paris suburbs to the number, it is calculated, of more than one
hundred thousand. In the chapel immediately facing the altar stands a
monument which contains the heart of Monseigneur Sibour, Archbishop of
Paris, assassinated on the 3rd of January, 1857, in this very church,
when he was opening the nine days’ service in honour of Sainte
Geneviève, by a priest whom he had interdicted. The predecessor of
Monseigneur Sibour, Monseigneur Affre, was shot dead by the insurgents
of June, 1848, when exhorting them from a barricade to cease fighting.
His successor, Monseigneur Darboy, was put to death with the other
hostages whom the Paris Commune in 1871 had taken with the view of
securing for the Communards made prisoners by the troops the character
of prisoners of war.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER XIV.

THE POLYTECHNIC SCHOOL.

The “Central School of Public Works”--Bonaparte and the Polytechnic--The
College of Navarre--Formal Inauguration in 1805--1816--1832.


Behind the church of St. Stephen-of-the-Mount, from which it is
separated by the Rue Descartes, stands the Polytechnic School, founded
by a decree of the National Convention on the 14th of March, 1794.

The Convention had made a clean sweep of all the schools established in
the days of the Monarchy. Ere long, however, it began to revive the
scholastic institutions on a new plan. The Committee of Public Safety
began by decreeing the formation of a “Central School of Public Works.”
Fourcroy was commissioned to present a detailed report on the new
scheme; and the propositions contained in it were unanimously adopted.
The Palais Bourbon was chosen as the domicile of erudition; and here a
three years’ course of study, involving nine hours’ work a day, was
offered to aspirants. The youth of Paris and of the provinces hastened
in crowds to a school where every subject was taught by an eminent
specialist. Enthusiasm characterised the labours both of students and
professors, and rapid successes were achieved, despite the constant
struggle which had to be maintained with the Committee of Public Safety,
whether on account of the privilege which the school enjoyed of filling
all vacancies in certain departments of the public service, or because
the committee, at times when war had drained the national exchequer,
could not furnish the funds indispensable to the educational scheme. The
school, however, fought bravely through its difficulties, and presently
received that denomination of École Polytechnique which became and has
remained so popular. In the legislative tribunals, in the political and
scientific journals, the Polytechnic School was never mentioned without
being coupled with some formula expressing the high opinion entertained
of its utility and of what it might achieve. “The first school in the
world,” “the institution which Europe envies us,” “the establishment
without a rival and without a model”--in such phrases was it described.
Already the Polytechnic had been appointed to furnish officers for the
artillery; and by a state decree it was enacted that no pupils should be
received into the military and naval schools who had not first gone
through their course in the Polytechnic. In 1803, when the peace of
Amiens was broken and war burst out afresh between France and England,
the pupils of the Polytechnic School evinced their patriotism by paying
into the state coffers a sum of 4,000 francs which they had collected
amongst themselves.

Bonaparte, on his return from Italy, endeavoured to conciliate the
affection of men of learning and of letters. At that period nothing but
the lustre of power or the superiority of the mind could command
admiration. Having had himself admitted to the Institute, the First
Consul loved to join his academic title to the indication of his rank in
the army. He often visited the Polytechnic School, and even assisted
occasionally at some of the lessons. He enriched its library with a
number of costly works, and furnished its laboratories with all that
they needed.

During the four years (1801 to 1804) which preceded the turning of this
school into a barrack the people of Paris had returned to a state of
tranquillity. At the theatre, however, disturbances frequently occurred
in which Polytechnic students played a part. The reiterated complaints
of the Minister of the Interior and the arrest of several of the
disorderly students caused great vexation to the school authorities, who
remonstrated with the delinquents and imposed severe disciplinary
punishments upon them, but to little purpose. The classes began to
suffer, for the agitation of the pit penetrated into the school, and the
time which should have been devoted to work was frequently taken up with
eager conversations on this or that exciting topic. Bonaparte, who had
just taken the title of emperor, was apprised of these unfortunate
occurrences, and immediately decreed, on the 16th of July, 1804, a new
organisation by which the pupils would be formed into a military body
and put in barracks. General Lacuée, councillor of state, was appointed
governor, and Gay de Vernon took second command. The new organisation
included the union of the barrack and the school on one spot, and an
obligation on the part of the pupils to pay fees. General Lacuée formed
from his body of councillors a commission which repaired to
Fontainebleau, where the École Militaire was then established, in order
to obtain all particulars as to the working of the Paris institution;
and an active search was made for a building in which the school might
be adequately installed. At length the College of Navarre was fixed upon
as the fittest habitation. Napoleon in determining the funds necessary
for his new organisation showed himself sufficiently lavish. He felt
grateful to the students of the Polytechnic School for the patriotic aid
they had offered him during the war with England; which had indeed
evoked from him at the time some flattering words to the effect that he
“expected nothing less from a youth thirsting for glory, to whom
national honour was a patrimony.”

[Illustration: LIBRARY OF SAINTE-GENEVIÈVE.]

The school was inaugurated on the 11th of November, 1805, at the College
of Navarre, which it has not quitted since. This college had been
founded in 1304 by Jeanne of Navarre and her husband Philippe le Bel.
The chapel, now used as a tracing-room, is all that remains of the
original structure. Suppressed in 1790, the College of Navarre had been
a seminary for princes and other pupils either distinguished already by
their birth or destined to conquer fame: both Richelieu and Bossuet had
sat on its benches.

The pupils of the Polytechnic School showed in 1814 the same patriotic
feeling which had delighted Napoleon on a previous occasion. They
offered for the artillery eight horses fully equipped; and immediately
afterwards they petitioned to be admitted as combatants into the ranks
of the French army. Napoleon made a reply which has become famous--that
he was not reduced to such straits as to find it necessary to “kill his
fowl with the golden eggs.” He formed, however, out of the Paris
National Guard twelve batteries of artillery, three of which consisted
of pupils of the Polytechnic School. On the 28th of March the pupils
were entrusted with the service of twenty-eight pieces of reserve
artillery, and on the 30th, during the battle of Paris, this reserve,
placed across the avenue of Vincennes, held in check the enemy’s
troops, who were endeavouring to enter Paris on this side in order to
turn the position of the diminutive French army, fighting at Belleville
and at Pantin.

[Illustration: ST. STEPHEN-OF-THE-MOUNT.]

On the return from Elba the Polytechnic School was again formed into a
body of artillery; and it then received the only visit Napoleon paid to
it throughout the Empire. With all his admiration for it, he regarded it
as infected with the spirit of republicanism. Monge defended the pupils
against the bad opinion entertained by the emperor, saying that, ardent
Republicans when the school was first formed, they had not yet had time
to become zealous Imperialists; at which Napoleon is said to have
smiled.

Broken up in 1816 in consequence of some act of insubordination, and
reorganised towards the end of 1817 under a civilian administration, the
Polytechnic School was now placed under the Ministry of the Interior.
Five years later, however, in 1822, it was once more organised on a
military system. Like all the students of those days, the pupils of the
Polytechnic School were enthusiastic Liberals, and when the Revolution
of July, 1830, broke out they joined the people and acted for the most
part as officers. One of them, Vanneau by name, was killed in the attack
made on the barracks of the Swiss guards in the Rue de Babylone; and
afterwards, by universal desire, the name of the young man was given to
a neighbouring street, which still bears it.

Since then the Polytechnic has been mixed up with every important
political movement that has taken place in France. On the 7th of June,
1832, many students, in spite of orders to the contrary, went out to
assist at the funeral of General Lamarque, and took part in the outbreak
to which it led. In 1848 the school was called out in a body to support
the provisional government, which invited it, together with the Normal
School and the School of Saint-Cyr, to take part in all the celebrations
of the new Republic.

[Illustration: INTERIOR OF CHURCH OF ST. STEPHEN-OF-THE-MOUNT.]

Amongst the distinguished men produced by the Polytechnic School since
its creation under the First Republic may be mentioned Arago,
Gay-Lussac, Biot, Poisson, and Carnot. Foreign governments have often
asked permission to send young men of promise to this school; at once an
effect and a cause of its European reputation.



CHAPTER XV.

THE HÔTEL CLUNY.

The Rue des Carmes--Comte de Mun and the Catholic Workmen’s Club--The
Place Maubert--The Palais des Thermes--The Hotel Cluny--Its History--Its
Art Treasures.


The street in which the Polytechnic School is situated bears its name,
and descending the northern slope of the so-called “mountain of
Sainte-Geneviève,” the “Street of the Seven Ways” takes, at the point
where the Rue de l’École Polytechnique crosses the Rue Saint-Hilaire,
the name of Rue des Carmes. In ancient times it contained, besides the
grand Couvent des Carmes founded in 1318, the College of Dace,
established for Danish students, the College of Soissons, where Peter
Ramus fell in the St. Bartholomew massacre, and finally the College of
the Lombards. At the end of a large courtyard, surrounded with gardens,
is seen the portico of a church with Ionic columns, whose pediment,
frightfully mutilated, has quite a tragic aspect. This is the chapel of
the ancient College of the Lombards, founded in 1334 by A. Chini of
Florence, bishop of Tournai. The college was then the “House of the poor
Italians” by the charity of the beneficent Marie. Three centuries later
it was falling into ruins when two Irish priests undertook to build it
up for the benefit of the priests and poor students of their country,
who for two centuries possessed this corner of the earth, when, on its
becoming too small, they abandoned it in 1776 and moved to the Rue
Cheval-Vert. The chapel was then for many years taken possession of by
industrial speculators, who turned it into shops and even into a stable.
It was restored to public worship through the activity of Comte de Mun.
In one part of the building is established the Catholic Workmen’s Club
of Sainte-Geneviève, which has existed since May, 1875, and which offers
to workmen and also clerks of all professions and trades a centre of
instruction and even of amusement. To this institution are due the
popular lectures (_Conférences Populaires_) delivered by M. Léon Gautier
of the Institute, Albert de Mun, Father Montsabre, M. d’Hulst, etc.
Without neglecting religious studies, the lecturers occupy themselves
with the most varied subjects, such as literature, political and social
economy, art and music. Here a certain number of workmen assemble every
evening and, above all, on Sunday, when, after hearing mass, they can
finish their day in an interesting and improving manner, reading books
and newspapers and taking part in various games.

The Workmen’s Club of Sainte-Geneviève is not the only one of the kind
in Paris; there are at least ten formed on the same plan and which reach
directly and surely, without any attempt at noisy propagandism, their
essential aim: that of depriving the dram shop and the tavern of their
prey.

The lower part of the Rue des Carmes leads to the market of the same
name and to the Place Maubert, which occupies the site of the ancient
convent. The cloister of the Couvent des Carmes was remarkable as a
masterpiece of architecture.

The Place Maubert was in the middle ages the true forum of the
University Quarter, the meeting place of the students, the boatmen of
the Seine, and market people from all parts of the country, as well as
the central academy of the language spoken by the populace. Thus it was
said of a man who was coarse in his talk that he had “learned his
compliments in the Place Maubert.” The “Compliments of the Place
Maubert” was indeed the title of a dictionary of plebeianisms. The name
of the place or square is corrupted from that of Jean Aubert, second
Abbé of Sainte-Geneviève. Receiving from all sides the outpourings of
six popular streets, the Place Maubert has witnessed many tumultuous
scenes. Here in 1418 assembled the partisans of Bourgogne who set out to
massacre the partisans of Armagnac in their prisons. Here were burnt as
heretics Alexandre d’Evreux and Jean Pointer in 1533; the mason Poille
in 1535, the goldsmith Claude Lepeintre in 1540, and finally, in 1546,
the printer Étienne Dolet, who, by his religious and political opinions
as well as by the bitterness of his polemical writings, had made for
himself implacable enemies. Across the Place Maubert was dragged the
body of Ramus, assassinated in 1572 at the College of Presles in the Rue
des Carmes. On one side of it were raised in 1588 the first barracks of
the partisans of the House of Guise against King Henri III., and sixty
years later the barricades of the Fronde.

[Illustration: THE CHAPEL OF THE ANCIENT COLLEGE OF THE LOMBARDS.]

At a few steps from the Place Maubert stood, at the beginning of the
eighteenth century, in the Rue de Bièvre and the Rue des Grands Degrés,
two attorneys’ offices, where were engaged two young clerks destined one
day to dazzle the world of letters and of the stage. One was Crébillon;
the other Voltaire.

All kinds of famous houses existed on or in the immediate neighbourhood
of the Place Maubert: that, for instance, of Grandjean, the celebrated
surgeon and oculist to Louis XVI., and that of Marie Antoinette. Local
tradition assigns one of the houses to Gabrielle d’Estrées--“la belle
Gabrielle” of Henri IV., and here she may really have lived, though the
hostile critics of the tradition point out that the architecture of the
house does not take us further back than the reign of Louis XV. Part of
the house in question is now let out in artisans’ lodgings. On the
ground floor, painted red, is the Château Rouge, called also--it must be
feared with more than external significance--the Guillotine. A special
chapter is devoted to the Château Rouge by M. Macé, in his volume on
the police of Paris. It is composed of two large rooms, which are filled
from morning till night with the disreputable and dangerous classes;
close by is a lodging-house, constructed in the garden of the ancient
mansion, and let out entirely to Swiss workmen, who live together in the
most economical manner, and pass the gaping mouth of the Château Rouge
ten times a day without ever going in. It was at the tavern of the
Château Rouge that, in 1887, three men proposed, accepted, and carried
out among themselves a bet to throw a woman into the Seine simply for
amusement. The victim was a drunken rag-picker, and the stake was two
sous: the price of a small glass of brandy.

[Illustration: PLACE MAUBERT, WITH THE STATUE OF ÉTIENNE DOLET.]

In the immediate neighbourhood of the University and the Sorbonne, in
the very heart of the district of the schools, are two of the most
ancient and interesting buildings in Paris: the Palais des Thermes,
which carries us back to the Lutetia of the Romans, and the Hôtel Cluny,
which recalls mediæval Paris. The Palace of the Hot Baths is in ruins,
but these ruins of a building which dates from the third century contain
monuments more ancient than themselves.

The Bath-house of the Romans was at the same time a citadel; it is said
to have been built in the reign of the Emperor Constantine Chlorus, who
inhabited Lutetia from 287 to 292. In the year 360 Julian the Apostate
was proclaimed emperor in this palace by the army and the people, and
the palace is still generally known as the Thermæ of Julian. This honour
was due to him by reason of his special predilection for his “dear
Lutetia.” After him, the Emperors Valentinian and Gratian passed at this
palace the winter of 365.

Independently of the interest presented by the Palais des Thermes as a
survival of Roman Paris, and of the Hôtel Cluny, as a type of French
architecture, these two monuments shelter a museum in which have been
brought together numerous specimens of curiosities and wonders of all
kinds--some only of antiquarian, others both of antiquarian and of
artistic interest. In the time when Paris was a Gallo-Roman city there
existed on the left bank of the Seine, opposite the island which was to
be known as that of the City, a palace surrounded with immense gardens,
whose green lawns sloped down even to the edge the river. The Norman
invaders laid a portion of it in ruins, and the edifice was by no means
in good condition as a whole when, in 1218, Philip Augustus gave it to
his chamberlain, Henri. Soon afterwards the old buildings and the
gardens connected with them were broken up and apportioned, and towards
the end of the eighteenth century the Bishop of Bayeux sold the remains
of the Palace des Thermes to Pierre de Chalus, the Abbé of Cluny. The
monks of this abbey had plenty of means; and as they did not buy to sell
again, they remained proprietors of the Palace of Julian up to the time
of the Revolution. The ruins were then made over to private persons,
who, without regard to the majesty of history, introduced houses and
shops in the midst of the Roman remains. Louis, as a lettered monarch,
endeavoured to save the ruins from these profanations of the infidels,
and he seems even to have entertained the thought of turning the remains
of the ancient edifice into a sort of museum, but he did not carry out
his idea; it was not until the reign of Louis Philippe that the town of
Paris regained possession of the Palais des Thermes. It ceded the relic
to the State in 1843.

After the lapse of so many centuries the astonishing thing is that one
stone of the ancient Roman edifice should now remain. The part of the
original edifice which Time has spared is that which enclosed the Hot
Baths. The large hall, with its highly-imposing vaulted roof, was the
Hall of the Cold Baths: the so-called Frigidarium. The place occupied by
the fish-tank can still be recognised, and the remains may be seen of
the canals which brought the water into the baths. Bricks and stones
have been alternately employed in the walls, whose surface has been
blackened by “sluttish Time,” and impaired in all sorts of ways. This
hall has had the most varied fortunes, and for a long time it served as
depôt to a cooper, who here stowed away his casks and barrels.

The other portions of the edifice present a purely archæological
interest. Going out of the large hall just mentioned and crossing the
narrow vestibule, one enters the Tepidarium; but here the vaulted roof
has disappeared, and the spectator has nothing around him but crumbling
walls. A few steps further on he will come to sub-structures which are
evidently the remains of the reservoirs.

The ancient ruin has become a dependence of the more modern Hôtel Cluny.
It is a marvellous relic of the fourteenth century; fragments of
statues, bas-reliefs, mutilated inscriptions, art relics dug up from
under the earth have been collected in the great hall of the
“Frigidarium.” These remains of Gallo-Roman art show the very
foundations of French history. Here is the famous inscription which sets
forth that the “Parisian boatmen” raised under the reign of Tiberius a
statue in honour of Jupiter. Close by are enormous blocks of stone,
borrowed from the pavement of primitive Lutetia. In the midst of these
fragments of columns, of these empty tombs, one figure remains
untouched: it is the statue of Julian the Apostate. This sculpture
recalls to those who might have forgotten it the carriage and character,
the origin and type, of this strange emperor. Is not his hierarchic
attitude that of an Asiatic satrap? Is not the calm countenance that of
an Oriental prince?

By the side of the ancient palace of the Roman emperors the Hôtel Cluny
seems quite young, and we shall doubtless be more at our ease in an
edifice which is not yet four hundred years old. When, in the fourteenth
century, Pierre de Chalus bought the Palais des Thermes and the land
surrounding it, he intended to construct, near the college of his order,
a residence which might afford lodging to abbés of Cluny when they were
making their frequent visits to Paris. This project does not seem to
have been carried into execution; and it was under Charles VIII. that
one of the successors of Pierre de Chalus, Jean de Bourbon, founded the
building so much admired in the present day. He was not, however,
destined to complete it; the Hôtel Cluny, after many delays, was
terminated towards the end of the reign of Charles VIII. by Jacques
d’Amboise, Abbé of Jumièges, and Bishop of Clermont, one of whose
brothers was the famous minister of Louis XII., while the other was
grand-master of the order of Saint John of Jerusalem. All the members of
this family seem to get animated by the spirit of the time. Jacques
d’Amboise--man of letters, collector, and, in his way, an artist--was
one of the moving spirits of the French Renascence. The Hôtel Cluny
belongs, indeed, to that ancient time when art becomes softer and more
graceful without losing altogether the severity of the past.

[Illustration: PATRONS OF THE CHÂTEAU ROUGE.]

[Illustration: RUE DE BIÈVRE.]

The former residence of Jacques d’Amboise is enclosed on the side of the
Rue des Mathurins by a high crenelated wall. In the interior the
different apartments have lost very little of their original character,
but modifications have of necessity been made; and as the museum needs
light the number of the windows has been increased. The chapel retains
in all respects its primitive style. The picture of the two Marys
weeping over the dead Christ dates from the end of the reign of Louis
XII. Of the glass windows which at the time of Jacques d’Amboise adorned
the chapel, one alone has remained intact--that in which the Bearing of
the Cross is represented. Little enough, then, survives of the past in
this building, which has sheltered, one after the other, so many
different inmates, some of them sufficiently careless about matters of
art. The Hôtel Cluny has been inhabited by Marie of England, widow of
Louis XII., by James V., King of Scotland, by Cardinal de Lorraine, and
the Duke of Guise; here, under Henry III., the Italian actors
represented their pastoral love scenes. Towards the end of the
eighteenth century Moutard the printer occupied the principal
apartments; and a member of the Academy of Sciences, Messier, had
installed above the chapel a sort of observatory. After the Revolution
the hôtel passed from hand to hand, and it would perhaps have
disappeared, to give place to a modern house, when a member of the Court
of Accounts, M. Alexandre du Sammerard, bought, in 1833, the former
residence of the Abbés de Cluny, in order to place within its walls
archæological curiosities, precious furniture, and mediæval objects of
art which he had made it his pleasure to collect. At his death, nine
years later, the Chamber of Deputies passed, on the report of François
Arrago, a resolution authorising the Government to buy in the name of
the State M. de Sammerard’s collections and the edifice which held them.
A credit of five hundred thousand francs having been voted for this
double acquisition, the Musée des Thermes et de l’Hôtel Cluny was
founded in virtue of the law of 24th July, 1843.

[Illustration: RUINS OF THE PALAIS DES THERMES.]

Since then the collection has been considerably increased, partly
through liberal donations from private persons, partly through
excavations undertaken by the State. The catalogue of the museum
registers nearly four thousand objects of art. One of the most
interesting of these is the altar-piece of the Chapel of
Saint-Germer--unhappily much mutilated--in which the chisel of a master
of the thirteenth century has represented the Passion of Christ and the
legendary adventures of the holy patron of the Church. The heads of all
the personages have been broken; the colour and the gilding which
covered their vestments have partly disappeared; but in what remains of
the altar-piece one sees attitudes which are full of character, and is
impressed by a certain simplicity which approaches grandeur. There is
more emotion in the statuettes detached from the tomb of the Duke of
Burgundy at the Chartreuse of Dijon. These figures of marble date from
the last days of the fourteenth century, and represent the servants of
the duke, with writers and chaplains attached to his household. Monks
are seen weeping beneath the hood which covers their face. The uncovered
faces, full of life and expression, are evidently portraits. Close by,
the spirit and grace of the Renascence may be seen in several admirable
specimens: such as the Venus, partly broken, which is attributed, with
more or less reason, to Jean Cousin, and the sleeping statuette of a
naked woman whose head seems lost in a dream. The delicate style of the
sculpture seems to reveal an Italian hand. Less perfect in execution,
but equally interesting, is that Ariadne which, by a strange
coincidence, was found in the Loire opposite that Château of Chaumont
where another woman in despair, Diana of Poitiers, had been shut up by
Catherine de Médicis after the death of Henry II. It is the same Diana,
this time accompanied by her two daughters, which tradition recognises
in the statue attributed to Germain Pilon.

[Illustration: ENTRANCE TO THE CLUNY MUSEUM, RUE DU SAMMERARD.]

The ivories of the Hôtel Cluny are among its greatest treasures. In this
collection ivory work of every period and in every style may be found.
The mysterious statuette of a woman crowned by two genii dates from the
fourth century. It was discovered in a tomb on the borders of the Rhine.
This statuette is surrounded by a number of marbles representing
divinities of various kinds, and is classed, therefore, with the works
styled Pantheistic. In one hand this strange figure holds a sceptre
bursting into blossom; in the other an oval vase. The style recalls at
once classical art and the art of Byzantium. By the side of the ancient
statuette is a less ancient bas-relief, representing the marriage of the
Princess Theophania with Otho II., who was Emperor of the West from 973
to 983. Here we see the art of the lower Empire: an art of stiff
symmetrical forms, but full of barbaric richness. Of the same period, or
nearly so, is “The Virgin holding the Infant Jesus on her knees”: a
solemn hieratic group. To the eleventh century belongs the cross of
Saint Anthony, found in the tomb of Morard, Abbé of Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
Another work of the highest value is the shrine of Saint Yved (twelfth
century), from the Abbey of Braisne. This reliquary, in the form of a
rectangular casket, is decorated on all sides with figures in relief
of elaborate workmanship. Of the same epoch, or still earlier, are
the sheets of ivory used for the binding of the Gospels, on which
are painted admirable pictures in illustration of the Divine books.
The ivory looking-glass frame, representing two figures, which are
supposed to be those of Saint Louis and of Blanche de Castille, comes
from the treasure of Saint Denis. The pastoral staff which, twice
ennobled, belonged, first to the famous Debruges-Dumesnil collection,
and afterwards to the collection of Prince Soltykoff, dates from the
thirteenth century. The rod of ivory is crowned with a lion in boxwood,
enriched with precious stones.

The little monument known as the “oratory of the Duchess of Burgundy” is
an ivory on which are related, by means of numerous figures, here the
history of Jesus Christ, there that of John the Baptist. It comes from
the Chartreuse of Dijon; and by the memoirs of Philippe le Hardi, it
would seem that the author was a certain Berthelot.

Eight crowns of massive gold, enriched with pearls and precious stones,
were one day dug from the earth at Guarazzar in the neighbourhood of
Toledo. They were followed soon afterwards by another crown, belonging
evidently to the same hidden treasure. Until then it was scarcely
suspected that the Visigoth kings knew what gold-work meant. One of the
crowns, however, purchased for the Cluny Museum, bears the words:
“Reccesvinthus rex offeret.” Reccesvinthus reigned in Spain from 653 to
672. On a second crown may be read, in characters struck with the
hammer, the name, not yet explained, of Sonnica. The other crowns bear
no inscription. Archaeologists are unable to decide whether the largest
of these crowns was ever worn. But the one inscribed with the name of
Reccesvinthus was used, it is held, at the coronation of that king by
the Bishop of Toledo. They were, however, offered to the Virgin, and
suspended in one of the chapels consecrated to her. The supposition is
entertained that at the time of the Arab invasion these precious
offerings of the Visigoth king were buried by the Christians. They came
to light centuries afterwards, to tell of the magnificence of these
almost legendary sovereigns, and of the skill possessed by their
artificers for moulding and cutting gold in every style, besides
enriching it with incrustations of sapphires and pearls. The gold altar
given by the Emperor Henry III. to the Cathedral of Bâle at the
beginning of the eleventh century is another rare and remarkable work.
The character of the design, and what is known as to the origin of the
monument, have caused it to be attributed to Lombard artists. From the
treasury of the same church comes the Golden Rose, given to the Bishop
of Bâle by Pope Clement V. at the beginning of the fourteenth century.

But in this part of the museum the glass cases contain innumerable
specimens of the religious work of the Middle Ages. Among the curios of
the thirteenth century may be cited a large cross adorned with filigree
work and precious stones in relief. This was one of the treasures of the
Soltykoff collection. Nuremberg is represented by the shrine of Saint
Anne, executed in 1472 by Hans Grieff. The flesh of the figure is
painted. From the same epoch may be dated the “Crossbow Prize,” an
admirable piece of smith’s work in wrought silver, chased and gilt. As
the works of the sixteenth century, we find a large mechanical piece,
more singular than beautiful, in the form of a vessel on which, among
the personages in enamelled gold, grouped around the steering apparatus,
may be recognised Charles V. in the midst of a crowd of high dignitaries
of the Imperial Court. A mechanism concealed within the ship makes the
figure move, musical instruments play, and cannons roar. The museum
possesses also, in a mixed style, belonging at once to art and science,
clocks and watches of the Renascence and of the seventeenth century. Nor
must the visitor pass by the famous basin of François Briot, made in
pewter with an artistic taste which would not be thrown away on the
finest gold. The iron-work consists chiefly of Gothic locks and bolts,
once attached to the doors and gates of feudal mansions. Here, too, are
the keys, finely worked, of the Château Anest, which Diana of Poitiers
may well have touched with her delicate hand. The Hôtel Cluny is famous,
moreover, for its collection of ancient arms: Toledo blades of tragic
aspect, bearing the names of the great burnishers of the time; armour of
war or of parade, carved and damasked by the artificers of Milan;
helmets, pikes, muskets, shields; all the formidable instruments of
attack with all the ingenious instruments of defence. In the armoury of
the Hôtel Cluny may likewise be seen some fine specimens of Oriental
work; though the finest creations of this special art are preserved, not
at the Hôtel Cluny, but at the Museum of Artillery.

The masterpieces in wax-work will next demand our attention; and here
Italy, which in almost every other art has the right to pass first, may
perhaps be asked to give precedence to Spain. The Spanish-Moorish
specimens are above all admirable. As for the Italian works, they are
very numerous, and for the most part well chosen. Apart from the
medallions of Lucca della Robbia, which belong to sculpture as much as
to waxwork, the plates suspended on the walls, the cups enclosed beneath
the glass, are all interesting, and are nearly all of Italian make. A
product from the workshops of Faenza, which, in France, gives its name
to crockery in general (_faience_), adorned with the monogram of Christ
in Gothic characters, bears the date of 1475. The work is quite archaic;
but Faenza can also show plates and cups which tell of the progress and
also of the decadence of this centre of a special art, so active in the
sixteenth century. Urbino, the birthplace of Raphael, and Pesaro, the
birthplace of Rossini, are also represented, together with Rimini,
Caffagiolo, Castel-Durante, and, above all, Gubbio, with the
masterpieces of its illustrious potter, Giorgio Andreoli. The word seems
appropriate when one contemplates the fine plate representing Dædalus,
dated 1533, and the two cups relieved with gold, on which smile, from a
rainbow-tinted background, two charming women: “Angela Bella,” “Dianara
Bella.” These cups, which now form the admiration of artists, served
formerly to receive the presents made by the lover to his mistress.
Superb types of the Gubbio work in the sixteenth century are as bright
and pure as if they had come yesterday from the hands of the potter.
French pottery is also conspicuous at the Hôtel Cluny, both in its
ancient and in its modern glory. Specimens of enamelled terracotta,
dating from the thirteenth century, are first to be seen. Then one
remarks a cup decorated with arabesques encrusted in brown on a whitish
ground. These famous styles of pottery used to be vaguely connected with
the name and period of Henry II.; but they are at present known to have
been made at Oiron, in Poitou, by François Cherpentier, the humble
workman of Madame de Boisy.

The Hôtel Cluny contains many of the best works of Bernard Palissy, the
famous artist whose life was a long martyrdom and, for his wife, it must
be feared, a long torture; for if it was noble on the part of the
husband to sacrifice the household furniture to the perfection of an art
to which he was devoted, it must have been painful for the perhaps less
enthusiastic wife to hear it crackling within his furnaces. In seeking
to determine which of the numerous alleged specimens of this artist’s
work really belong to him, connoisseurs have been aided by Time, which,
destroying the imitations, seems to have preserved the genuine ones
alone. Even the charming little figure of the Nurse, for a long time
attributed to Palissy, is now said to be from another and later hand.
Nevers, Rouen, Moustiers, and the various centres of French pottery, are
worthily represented at the Hôtel Cluny, either by isolated pieces or by
groups, and even entire collections.

The stained glass at the Hôtel Cluny is for the most part of Swiss or of
German origin. The enamels are of every country and every age. Nine
enamelled plates of exceptionally large dimensions were painted by
Pierre Courtoys in 1559 for the Château de Madrid, in the Bois de
Boulogne. The figures--the largest, perhaps, that were ever executed in
enamel--represent Justice, Charity, Prudence, and six other mythological
divinities, more astonishing than attractive. A remarkable triptych, or
picture with shutters, whose painter is unknown, but which belonged to
Catherine de Médicis, represents on the central panel the queen on her
knees, in widow’s dress, before a crucifix. Her initials, with those of
Henry II., adorn this curious relic. Close by are enamelled cups and
plates by Pierre Rémond, Nardon Penicaud, and Jean Courtoys, with many
works, justly esteemed, by the great enameller Leonard Limousin,
remarkable among these being a fine portrait of Eleonora of Austria,
sister of Charles V. and Francis I.

The piece of Florentine mosaic in the first hall of the museum ought not
to pass unnoticed. It has been described by Vasari; and the Virgin and
Child which it represents are the genuine work of Ghirlandaio. Executed
at Florence in 1496, it was brought to France by Jean de Ganay,
President of the Parliament of Paris. The works of this famous mosaist
are now very rare. The one preserved at the Hôtel Cluny is relatively in
sound condition, and gives a good idea of the great mosaics which
adorned the churches of Tuscany.

The Cluny Museum has no claim to be considered a picture-gallery. It
contains, however, a certain number of canvases, illustrating the
manners, the costumes, or the furniture of particular periods. The best
critics deny that the Jesus in the Garden of Olives is the work of
Gentile di Fabriano, to whom the catalogue attributes it. Nor, according
to competent judges, is the hand of Primaticcio to be recognised in
that Venus who, standing by the side of Love, faces the spectator
smiling, and with an arrow in her hand. The painting is marked by
delicacy and refinement; but the style is not that of Primaticcio, nor
does the face of Venus reproduce the features of Diana of Poitiers, who,
according to some keen-sighted observers, is everywhere to be seen. A
more genuine interest is inspired by a few pictures of the fifteenth
century, some of Flemish, others of French origin. Very curious is the
Mary Magdalen attributed to King René. The repentant sinner is grieving
in the midst of a landscape whose background represents the city of
Marseilles. Another picture well worthy of notice is one which
represents two pictures in the same frame; on the one is represented the
coronation of David, on the other the coronation of Louis XII. The
author of this work is unknown, but the period is marked by the date of
Louis XII.’s coronation (1498); and it is presumable that the painter
was some artist of distinction attached to the Court. He was in any case
a man of ability, with a certain feeling for colour.

[Illustration: STAIRCASE, CLUNY MUSEUM.]

French painting of the sixteenth century is represented by the school of
Janet and his successors, but the true house decoration in those
luxurious days, when art was mixed up with every detail of life, was
tapestry. It was scarcely possible to feel dull in those vast halls,
whose walls were covered, and, so to say, animated by a number of
life-sized figures, now chasing the stag in picturesque woods, now
sitting down to sumptuous feasts, now breaking lances in tournaments and
jousts.

[Illustration: DORMER WINDOWS AT THE CLUNY MUSEUM.]

Many of these ancient tapestries have become worn out, less through the
action of Time--for they were admirably woven--than through the
carelessness of their possessors. The Hôtel Cluny preserves some of the
best that were ever produced. Take, for example, the Deliverance of St.
Peter, executed at Beauvais in the fifteenth century, or the ten
embroidered pictures which tell the history of David and Bathsheba, done
in Flanders under Louis XII. The biblical personages who figure in this
illustrated story are dressed, of course, in the latest fashion of the
year 1500; and the costumes are more interesting inasmuch as the
artist who furnished the cartoons for these pictures was undeniably,
with all his _naïveté_, an excellent draughtsman. Of another epoch, when
art was already on the decline, are the tapestries taken from the
arsenal, in which Henry IV. is represented as Apollo, Jeanne d’Albert as
Venus, and Marie de Médicis as Juno. The painter, in his passion for
allegory, has transformed into Saturn the king’s father, Antoine de
Bourbon. Many other tapestries, in various states of preservation, and
of which the colours have, in many cases, faded beneath the effect of
sunlight, possess both artistic and historic interest. The vestments
once worn by the Bishop of Bayonne were found in a tomb, and belong to
the twelfth century. All kinds of strange contrivances worn by women in
past ages (often, it must be supposed, against their will) are to be
seen in the Hôtel Cluny: collars, collarettes, baskets, farthingales,
girdles, and even high-heeled pattens, all made of iron.

The furniture preserved in the Hôtel Cluny is particularly fine, and is
as historical as it is artistically beautiful. Remarkable among the
examples of church furniture is the great sideboard of the Cathedral of
St. Paul, carved by a Cellini of the fifteenth century. He must have
spent his whole life at the work. Nor is the house furniture less
magnificent. Witness the delicate sculpture of the benches, the high
chairs with emblazoned backs, the chests for marriage gifts, the bed
which is said to have belonged to Francis I., the cabinets of all times
and of every shape, the harpsichords, the spinets, the gala carriages,
covered with gildings, the sledges, the sedan chairs, and a hundred
other objects of luxury: reminiscences of a time when between the
workman and the artist there was scarcely any distinction, and when
objects destined for the most common use were fashioned and adorned with
an elegance and grace which told of true artistic feeling.

In the ancient mansion of Jacques d’Amboise, innumerable other objects
might be pointed out either marvellous as works of art or deeply
interesting, as illustrating the daily life of past ages, which they
reproduce more vividly, perhaps, than any books could do.

Strange as it will appear to Englishmen, the Hôtel Cluny is not only
open to the public on Sundays, but is open to the public on Sundays
only. On other days permission to visit the museum must be obtained from
the Minister of Fine Arts. Exceptions are made in favour of foreigners
exhibiting their passports.



CHAPTER XVI.

THE MUSÉE D’ARTILLERIE.

The Museum of Artillery--Its Origin and History--The Growth of its
Collection of Armour and Weapons of all Kinds.


The Museum of Artillery, with its varied and admirably classified
collection of arms, takes us back to prehistoric times, and after
exhibiting rude martial implements of dim antiquity, brings us forward
through successive ages of arms until it at length produces the very
piece which is to-day in the hands of the French soldier.

The origin of the Musée d’Artillerie may be traced to the reign of Louis
XIV. The Duc d’Humières, Grand Master of Artillery, obtained of the
great monarch permission to place, in one of the halls of the royal
magazine at the Bastille, a collection of small models of artillery then
in use. This collection, intended to serve for the instruction of young
artillery officers, was exhibited in glass cases.

The Duc de Maine and the Comte d’Eu, who succeeded d’Humières, did
nothing towards the development of this happy idea, which was only
resumed on the abolition of the post of Grand Master in 1755 by
Lieutenant-General de Vallières, who succeeded the count as First
Inspector-General. A certain number of ancient arms and of new models
were transported to the Academy, and an inventory of the collections,
which is still extant, was prepared. In 1788 the celebrated General de
Gribeauval, regarded by French writers as the creator of modern
artillery, succeeded de Vallières as Inspector-General. It was by means
of little models constructed beneath his eyes that Gribeauval had
prosecuted his studies, and it was his familiarity with models which
enabled him to determine the precise form of the arms to be employed in
his new system.

The idea of these little models extended itself to all the machines used
in the artillery, as likewise to those ancient arms of which specimens
had been preserved. Generalising his idea, Gribeauval determined to
apply it to the creation of a complete establishment, and his project
was in due time realised. The Minister of War, Comte de Brienne, at the
reiterated recommendation of the general, granted to Rolland, Commissary
of War and chief in the office of General Inspection of Artillery, a
commission which named him director of the new museum. The programme
proposed by Gribeauval embraced every description of war implements,
whether past or present; nor did it exclude a collection of all the
projects which had hitherto been proposed to the State by inventors.

This comprehensive scheme, executed with intelligence and activity,
almost immediately gave the happy results which had been anticipated.
Objects of all kinds, manufactured with great care in provincial
establishments of artillery, arrived in shoals at Paris, and were united
with the assemblage of ancient arms and armour which already existed in
the royal magazine. This was a moment of growth and prosperity for the
new institution. Very soon, however, its progress was to be checked, and
its existence threatened by the grave events of 1789. On the 14th of
July the arsenal of the artillery was devastated, and its collections
almost entirely destroyed. Gribeauval was spared the pain of witnessing
the destruction of the work to which he had wished to attach his name.
He died on the 7th of May, 1789, two months before the taking of the
Bastille.

Curiously enough, however, that same revolution which seemed to have
finally wrecked the new museum gave it suddenly a second life, and
afforded it an opportunity of wide and rapid development.

From 1791 to 1794 the national factories were inadequate to supply the
wants of the army. The system of requisitions which was vigorously
enforced brought into the arsenals considerable quantities of arms of
all kinds, as well as armour. A commission named by the Ministry had to
select therefrom what was serviceable, and to reject what was useless.
Regnier, attached to the commission as “Controller of Arms,” conceived
the happy notion of putting aside every object which seemed to him to
possess particular interest, and which at the same time was of no
practical use. The assortment he thus made was placed temporarily in the
Convent of the Feuillants. Here it was inspected by Pétier, Minister of
War, who, perceiving the future utility of such a collection, caused it
to be transferred to the Convent of the Dominicans of Saint Thomas
Aquinas. Here it was enhanced by the addition of those models which the
before-mentioned Rolland had managed to save from the destruction of
the Bastille. The whole was placed under the charge of the newly-formed
“Committee of Artillery”; and thus in 1796 the museum obtained its
re-organisation.

[Illustration: GROUP OF SHAFTED WEAPONS IN THE ARTILLERY MUSEUM.]

The Committee at once applied its energies to the development of the
enterprise. They obtained from the Ministry permission to inspect those
collections of arms which were contained in ancient royal residences, or
in the mansions of great families who had become dispersed or had taken
to flight. From these collections they were empowered to select whatever
objects seemed eligible for exhibition in their museum. Such, however,
was the resistance offered in many instances to this system of
scientific plunder, that the booty carried off was not so extensive as
had been anticipated.

In a more direct manner, however, the Ministry enlarged the treasures of
the museum. For this purpose the First Consul, passing through Sedan in
1804, ordered that the arms he saw at the Town Hall should be
transported to Paris; and this time it was necessary to obey, though the
carriage of the trophies was entrusted, unfortunately, to rascals, who
filched and sold part of them.

The peace of 1814 brought back to Paris the generals of artillery. The
Central Committee resumed its sittings, and one of the first of these
was devoted to the reorganisation of the museum, the importance of whose
contents had just been revealed by a hastily-prepared inventory. The
Committee appointed a commission, composed of three colonels, three
chiefs of squadrons, and three captains, presided over by a general.
This body had to draw up an inventory descriptive of each object,
classifying the whole collection and reducing it to chronological order.
The peace of 1814, however, was broken by Napoleon’s return from Elba,
and the members of the commission were called away to active duty.

In 1815 the Museum of Artillery suffered nothing from the invasion: in
consequence, it may be, of special measures taken beforehand for its
protection. Between 1815 and 1830 the building was enlarged and a new
classification was introduced. All was going well when the Artillery
Museum was threatened with complete ruin. On the 28th of July, 1830, the
insurgents came to the museum in search of arms; after a short but
violent struggle, the doors were broken in and the place sacked. For one
entire day, July 29th, the museum was almost empty, but on the morrow
many of the arms seized the day before were given back, and little by
little the contents of the museum, to the honour of the Parisian
population, were restored. A certain number of the arms, about a hundred
in all, had disappeared for ever; the loss was soon afterwards made good
through the purchase of the Duke of Reggio’s collection. During the
Revolution of February 7, 1848, the museum suffered no injury; a few
insurgents approached the place, but were easily induced to retire.

The museum, as now constituted, fulfils the condition of its original
programme, as laid down by General de Gribeauval. It contains specimens
of every arm known, from the primitive flint hatchet to the weapons
actually in use. It offers many gaps, entire centuries are
unrepresented; but these gaps are unavoidable: they exist everywhere;
and the historical character of the collection is as complete as the
present condition of archaeological research permits.

[Illustration: DECORATED SPANISH CANNON IN THE ARTILLERY MUSEUM.]

[Illustration: DECORATED MUSKETS IN THE ARTILLERY MUSEUM.]

The most distant period to which the history of arms can be traced is
the one described by modern archæology as the Age of Stone. The use of
metals was at that time unknown to man, who constructed his arms and
implements out of the hardest stones he could find, the bones of animals
in this primitive industry being also employed.

The researches made in different parts of France have yielded a good
supply of hatchets, arrow and javelin points, made generally of flint.
In the earliest period of the Stone Age the flints of the weapons were
rough splints, in the second period they were polished. Among the
earliest specimens of metal-work, the helmets of the ancient Etruscans
may be cited, and afterwards those of the Greeks for infantry and for
cavalry. In the satirical comedies of Aristophanes the price is
mentioned (in the one entitled “Peace”) of the cuirasses and helmets of
his time. Thus a cuirass cost ten minæ (about £35), a helmet one mina
(£3 10s.). This series is continued by two Roman helmets in bronze,
found at Lyons on the site of the ancient city. Among the Roman swords,
some bear the mark of the place of manufacture--“Sabini.” In one of the
principal cases may be seen the bronze portion of an ancient Roman
standard found in Asia Minor, and given to the museum by the Emperor
Napoleon III. The object is probably unique, and possesses in any case
much archæological value; it is adorned with the medallions of the two
emperors reigning at the time to which it belongs, and the effigies of
the greater gods.

After Cæsar’s conquest, the Gauls adopted rapidly enough the manners and
the arms of the Romans. At length, however, towards the end of the fifth
century, the Franks appeared, and the Frankish invader brought with him
his own sword and his own shield. The soldier among the Franks was
buried sometimes in a sitting posture, more often stretched on his back.
On the right of the sleeping warrior was his lance, with the point
turned towards his head, and measuring about his own height; turned
towards his feet was his battle-axe; on the left his sword--but this by
exception, and only in the case of a chief. The Franks also carried
small daggers with a single edge, knives, and scissors in their
waist-bands. The smaller objects of equipment have been found in the
graves of Frankish warriors. The Frank was armed chiefly for attack; his
weapons of offence were numerous and formidable, while for the defensive
he had nothing but his little shield, so small in comparison with the
huge target-like arm of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The
chiefs alone among the Franks wore helmets.

The period of Charlemagne has been much studied, but it is difficult
even now to form any idea as to the arms the emperor and his soldiers
carried. The sword of Charlemagne in the Museum of Sovereigns and his
spear are all, in the way of armoury, that has been preserved. If,
however, we compare the sword with that of Childeric, we see many points
of difference; the sword of Childeric, almost without a guard, and with
a pommel of small dimensions, is very like a Roman sword. The large
hemispheric pommel and the broad blade of the Emperor take us back to
the mediæval types of the eleventh and twelfth centuries. As regards the
successors of Charlemagne, the guards of Charles the Bald wore a uniform
which closely resembled that of the Romans, with helmets of barbaric
form, of which the base was very nearly square.

Now for a century and a half there is a break in the history of French
weapons until we come to the Bayeux Tapestry, some time after the
conquest of England by William the Norman. This celebrated piece of
embroidery enlightens us as to the arms, the costume, and the equipment
of armies towards the end of the eleventh century: so different from
everything of the kind under Charles the Bald. In the space of about two
hundred years the arms and the equipment of the soldier had undergone a
complete change. A single sword is the only weapon of this epoch that
the museum can offer; it is exactly like those of the Bayeux Tapestry,
the point being formed not by the gradual tapering of the blade, but
suddenly, by a sharpened end.

The twelfth century is represented by two helmets placed beneath glass
at the end of one of the galleries; they were both found in the Somme.
In the thirteenth century the man of war was usually armed with a coat
of mail, but he wore a sort of hood in mail which he could throw back on
his shoulders, of which an interesting specimen is to be seen at the
museum.

The fourteenth century saw a transformation of the coat of mail into a
suit of armour of polished steel, which, with some variations, caused by
the introduction of portable fire-arms, remained the ordinary armour of
the man of war until the time of its final disappearance. Towards 1325
the transformation was complete, as is proved by a great number of
monuments of the time, including sculptured figures on tombs, paintings,
manuscripts, sepulchral figures engraved on plates of copper, &c. These
monuments and documents show that the military costume and equipment of
the fourteenth century varied more than is generally imagined. Every man
of war armed himself as he thought fit; but there are enough records to
give an idea of the type that prevailed and even to guide the
archæologist as to the dates of particular changes. What caused the
ancient coat of mail to be given up was its weight, and at the same time
its incompleteness for defensive purposes. It could stop the thrust of a
sword and even of a lance, but in collision the effect of the shock was
felt; and in adopting leather jerkins, and afterwards steel plates, the
object was to spread the effect of the shock over a greater surface.

The coat of mail was not abandoned, but it was worn shorter and of
lighter make, without its former accessories, and thus greater lightness
and greater facilities of movement were gained.

The warrior towards the end of the thirteenth century was oppressed by
his equipment, and did not get off his horse. After the transformation
he was able to fight on foot, as he did in all the celebrated battles of
the fourteenth century, beginning from Crécy (1346).

After the adoption of steel armour the coat of mail was still for a time
worn underneath; but as the steel armour became more solid the coat of
mail was gradually abandoned. The museum contains the complete armour of
a man and horse, which dates from the middle of the fifteenth century.

Towards the end of that century the armour of the man of war had
reached perfection. Every kind of shield had now been given up as
useless; plate armour furnished every necessary defence, for it was only
when the armour was weak that any additional protection was necessary.
Thus the Norman coat of mail, as worn by William’s invading army,
presented in its species of trellis-work enormous gaps, and for his
complete defence the horseman protected himself with a long shield in
the form of a heart, which in action covered the whole of his left
side--the side he presented to the foe. As the armour becomes more
effective the necessity for a shield diminishes, and, after getting
smaller and smaller, it at last disappears. The Artillery Museum
contains a suit of armour by Turenne, which shows what plate armour had
become at the end of the seventeenth century. It was abandoned
altogether at the beginning of Louis XIV.’s reign; the last helmets worn
in France and England belonging to the time when this head-gear formed
part of the armour of Cromwell’s Ironsides.

Among the innumerable specimens of arms preserved in the Museum of
Artillery, portable arms are classed apart from those which strike at a
distance, the latter including spears, javelins, bows and arrows,
cannon, and every kind of fire-arm. The bow was the arm of the English,
the crossbow that of the French. With the former the archer could fire
more quickly, and it was easier to preserve the string from getting wet;
of which the advantage was experienced on the English side during the
battle of Crécy.

The English retained the use of the bow long after the French had
abandoned that of the crossbow; and, according to the director of the
Musée d’Artillerie, English bowmen were seen in action as late as 1627,
at the siege of Rochelle. Companies of archers disappeared from the
French army under Louis XII., about the year 1514. The last time,
however, that bows and arrows were seen in European warfare was at the
battles of Eylau and Friedland, in 1806, when, according to M. Thiers
(“History of the Consulate and Empire”), some of the Tartar troops in
the Russian army appeared armed with these antique, and for the most
part obsolete, engines of war.

Musketry of every kind is represented in the Museum of Artillery, from
the earliest to the latest patterns, including, in particular, the flint
locks used in the wars of the Empire, percussion locks, by which they
were replaced, the rifles adopted just before the Crimean war, and the
quick-firing muskets of the most recent models, including the chassepot,
associated with the war of 1870 and 1871, and the “fusil Gras,” which
replaced it. The word artillery was formerly applied to every implement
of war, though since the introduction of musketry it has been used only
to designate guns of large calibre drawn by horses, as distinguished
from portable fire-arms. Nevertheless, the first specimens of artillery,
in something like the modern sense of the word, were of small bore, and
the projectiles were the balls used in connection with the crossbow. The
French employed artillery of this kind as far back as the battle of
Crécy (1346). Gradually the bolts of the crossbow were replaced, for
artillery fire, by leaden balls, called plummets (“plommées”), of about
three pounds’ weight; these were used in cannons of modern shape, and by
degrees the size of the balls was increased until soon the artillery of
an army was divided into light and heavy.

The discoveries of the monk Berthold Schwartz belong to the middle of
the fourteenth century; and though this learned, but not perhaps
beneficent, inventor revolutionised the art of war, he cannot be
accused, in pursuing his studies, of having had any deadly purpose in
view.

The earliest fire-arms were loaded at the breech by means of a box which
was received in a strong stirrup and fastened with a key; and with the
use of breech-loading pieces the history of artillery begins, and up to
the present time ends. Soon after the introduction of artillery a rapid
augmentation took place in the size of the guns employed, and
cannon-balls of stone were used. These were replaced by smaller balls
made of cast iron, but even to the present day the weight-carrying power
of a gun is estimated on the supposition that the ball is of stone.
Stone cannon-balls were used by the Turks long after they had been
abandoned in European armies; so also were pieces of immense calibre. In
Western Europe cast-iron balls were found to be more effective than the
larger balls of stone.

The Artillery Museum contains specimens of every kind of cannon used,
from the original breech-loader to the breech-loader of the present day.
No. 1 of the catalogue is a small cannon of the earliest period, made of
forged iron and furnished with a breech-loading apparatus; 14 and the
numbers following are siege-pieces of various kinds abandoned by the
English at Meaux, after the bombardment of 1422. The projectiles for
these pieces were of stone. No. 7 comes from the ancient residence, near
Verdun, of the Knights of Malta; and next to it is a fine cannon in
bronze given to the Knights of Rhodes by the Emperor Sigismund in 1434.
No. 19, also in bronze, belongs to the reign of Louis XI.; and, like No.
18, comes from Rhodes. It bears this inscription:--“At the command of
Loys [Louis], by the grace of God King of France, eleventh of this name,
I was cast at Chartres by Jean Chollet, knight, artillery master to this
sovereign.” Next but one in the series is a large mortar of bronze, cast
at the command of the Grand Master of the Order of the Hospitallers of
Jerusalem, Pierre d’Aubusson, 1480.

The construction of the various pieces, as we follow them in
chronological order, becomes simplified, then complicated, then
simplified again. Gun-carriages and ammunition-chests vary in form,
until we find at last the field artillery, under Napoleon III., of one
pattern; though two kinds of guns, light and heavy, are still used in
the reserve artillery. The rifled cannon introduced by the Emperor
Napoleon, which did such effective service during the Italian war of
1859, was looked upon by the French as the best possible field-gun; and,
possibly from exaggerated loyalty taking the form of servility, the
commission of officers to whom the breech loading rifled guns of Krupp
were submitted a few years before the war of 1870 rejected them as in no
way superior to the gun of Napoleonic invention actually in use. Since
the last war the French have adopted breech-loading rifled pieces more
or less on the model of the Krupp guns, treated with such disdain by the
military advisers of Napoleon III.

Next to the pieces arranged in chronological order have been placed a
number of foreign guns taken at various epochs from the enemy,
including, among the latest acquisitions of this kind, a number of
curious highly ornamented Chinese guns. Apart from the interesting
exhibition of musketry and artillery in the military museum, a few words
may here be said on the history of fire-arms generally. The use of
fire-arms preceded by some centuries the famous invention of the German
monk, Berthold Schwartz; which, in Europe, is known to have been
anticipated a century earlier by the English monk, Roger Bacon. The art
of making gunpowder was known in the second half of the thirteenth
century to the Arabs of the north of Africa and the Moors of Spain.

The Italians, too, are said to have employed artillery in the thirteenth
century, but there is no positive proof of its having been used until
the middle of the fourteenth, when, so far as Europe is concerned, Roger
Bacon’s invention, and all previous inventions of the same kind, had
borne no fruit, whereas the discovery made by Berthold Schwartz received
instant application.



CHAPTER XVII.

THE VAL DE GRÂCE--RELICS OF THE GREAT.

The Deaf and Dumb Institution--The Val de Grâce--Hearts as Relics--Royal
Funerals--The Church of Saint-Denis.


Returning from the Museum of Artillery to the Museum of the Hôtel Cluny,
we see, from the Cluny garden, the portico of the ancient church of
Saint-Benoit, first transformed into the Théâtre du Panthéon, and then
demolished. Enclosed by the church and cloister of Saint-Benoit was an
open space, in which, on the 5th of June, the day of the Fête-Dieu,
1455, François Villon, the wild vagabond poet, assassinated the priest
Philippe Chermoye, his rival in love. Closed at the time of the
Revolution, and then sold as national property, it was afterwards, in
1813, converted into a flour depôt. In 1832, on the site of the ruined
church, was built the Théâtre du Panthéon, where Alexandre Dumas brought
out his drama of _Paul Jones_. The Théâtre du Panthéon, after remaining
closed for some years, was pulled down in 1854. Near it, however, on the
other side of the Hôtel Cluny, looking towards the Boulevard
Saint-Germain, was built the Théâtre des Folies Saint-Germain, where
were produced _Les Inutiles_ of Edouard Cadol, _Les Sceptiques_ of
Felicien Mallefille, and a number of other amusing pieces.

[Illustration: THE DEAF AND DUMB INSTITUTION.]

       *       *       *       *       *

In the neighbourhood of the Hôtel Cluny and of the Théâtre Cluny is a
very interesting establishment: the Deaf and Dumb Institution of the
benevolent Abbé de l’Epée, to whom the deaf and dumb are indebted not
only for the language of signs, which for them replaces speech, but also
for the establishment in which the deaf and dumb children receive the
education and instruction necessary for them to make their way in the
world. But those inmates intended by their parents for a liberal
profession are charged one thousand francs (£40) a year. The
departments, communes, and charitable institutions of the country
maintain purses of about 6,000 francs. The State has the disposal of 140
purses, from which it makes to the institution an annual allowance of
70,000 francs. There are higher classes for children who desire to
follow them, with workshops for children who will have to subsist by
manual labour. In 1785 the Deaf and Dumb School, carried on until that
time in the Rue des Moulins at the Butte Saint-Roch, received an annual
subvention of 34,000 francs. The Abbé de l’Epée died on the 23rd of
December, 1789, at the age of seventy-seven. His funeral oration was
pronounced on the 23rd of January, 1790, by the Abbé Fauchet,
preacher-in-ordinary to the king. On the 21st of July in the following
year the National Assembly voted an annual sum of 12,700 livres (_i.e._,
francs) for the Deaf and Dumb School, which now, from the Convent of the
Celestins, where Queen Marie Antoinette had established it, was
transferred to the ancient seminary of Saint-Magloire, Rue du Faubourg
Saint-Jacques.

The Deaf and Dumb School was reconstructed in 1823 by the architect, M.
Peyre, who left it as it now stands. It is looked upon as the perfect
model of institutions of the kind. It contains, besides the class-rooms,
refectories, dormitories, and workshops, not to mention the rooms in
which the sittings of the “Central Society of Education and Assistance
for the Deaf and Dumb” are held.

Almost opposite the entrance to the Deaf and Dumb Institute is the Rue
des Ursulines, and just beyond, the Rue des Feuillantines, where Victor
Hugo passed the happiest years of his childhood, to which reference is
made in some of the finest verses of the _Orientales_. The Rue
Saint-Jacques now joins the Rue d’Enfer, which separates it from the
Boulevard Saint-Michel. The Rue d’Enfer owes its ominous name to a
belief entertained in the eighteenth century that it was haunted by the
fiend. Various plans for driving away the common enemy of man were
suggested, until at last the bright idea occurred to someone of making
over the entire street to an order of monks, who, it was thought, would
be able, if anyone could, to deal with the invader from below. Either by
some exorcising process, or by the natural dread which Satan or his
emissary could not fail to experience at being brought beneath the
observation of so many pious brethren, the Rue d’Enfer, from the time of
its passing into the hands of the religious order, became one of the
quietest thoroughfares in Paris. It still, however, in memory of the old
legend, preserves its ancient name. No. 269 in the Rue d’Enfer, which
runs out of Paris by the side of the Luxembourg Gardens, and takes us
almost to suburban parts, is the house, formerly a Benedictine
monastery, where, until the Revolution, was preserved the body of James
II. of England, who had died at Saint-Germain-en-Laye on the 16th
September, 1701, and of Louise Marie Stewart, his daughter, who died at
the same place in 1727.

We now approach the Val de Grâce, that superb monument which Anne of
Austria founded in 1641 as a thank-offering for the birth of the
dauphin, afterwards Louis XIV., who came into the world when his mother
had been twenty-two years without giving birth to a child. The young
king, now in his eighth year, laid the first stone of the Val de Grâce
on the 1st of April, 1645. Mansard, the royal architect, had drawn up
the plan and begun the work, when serious difficulties presented
themselves; for the site of the church was just above the catacombs. To
reach a foundation, it was necessary to make a number of deep piercings,
besides supporting the new edifice with blocks of solid masonry. One of
Molière’s few serious poems is in honour of the Val de Grâce and of its
architect, who was numbered amongst his most intimate and most cherished
friends. After a very short time, however, the direction of the works
was taken from Mansard, and given to Jacques le Mercier. Finally, Pierre
de Muet was entrusted with the difficult but honourable task; nor did he
finish the work without the assistance of two other architects, Gabriel
le Duc and Duval.

The façade of the Val de Grâce, like that of the Sorbonne, is composed
of two Corinthian orders, placed one above the other. Around the cupola
Pierre Mignard has painted a large fresco representing the abode of the
blest, divided into many mansions. This admirable work is certainly (as
Molière pointed out in the poem previously referred to) Mignard’s
masterpiece; and it may well be regarded as the most important
wall-painting in Paris. The mosaic of the marble pavement, in spite of
its dilapidated condition, is another attraction connected with this
fine building. The principal altar, reproduced from that of St. Peter’s
at Rome, had been destroyed in the revolutionary days of 1793. But the
architect, Ruprich Robert, reconstructed it by order of the Emperor
Napoleon III.; and it was consecrated after the fall of the Second
Empire, on the 28th of July, 1870. The paintings which adorn the chapel
are by Philippe of Champagne and his nephew, Jean Baptiste. The dome,
which seemed to be in an insecure condition, was reconstructed and
strengthened by means of iron supports in 1864 and 1865.

Closed in 1790, the Church of Val de Grâce was used as a magazine for
stores during the Republic and the Empire; and it was not restored to
public worship until 1826. The hearts of the princes and princesses of
the royal family were successively deposited in the different chapels of
the church, the first being that of Ann Elizabeth, daughter of Louis
XIV., who died in tender years; the last that of Louis, Duke of
Burgundy, who died March 27, 1761. These hearts were thrown to the winds
in 1793, but not the reliquaries of gilded enamel in which they were
enclosed. One alone was saved: the heart of the dauphin, son of Louis
XVI. and of Marie Antoinette, which was restored to the royal family and
afterwards deposited at Saint-Denis in 1817. Two hearts are still
deposited in the ancient vaults: that of an English woman named Mary
Danby, of whom no record has been preserved, and that of Larrey, the
illustrious surgeon-in-chief to the Grand Army, whose statue in bronze,
by David of Angers, adorns the courtyard of the Val de Grâce.

The last king of France and of Navarre died on the 6th of July, 1836,
and it was not until nine days afterwards, on the 15th of July, that the
fact was made known to the French public through the columns of the
_Gazette de France_. The heart, too, of Charles X. was, according to
royal custom, separated from the body; though instead of being preserved
apart, as in the case of former French kings, it was, after being
enclosed in a heart-shaped box of lead, again enclosed in a box of
enamel fastened with screws to the top of the coffin. The Comte de
Chambord, on the other hand, was buried in the ordinary manner, and not,
like Charles X., with his heart on the coffin lid; nor like Louis
XVIII., with his heart in one place and his body in another. The dead,
according to the German ballad, “ride fast.” But the living move still
faster; and in France, almost as much as in England, the separation of a
heart from the body to be kept permanently as a relic is in the present
day a process which seems to savour of ancient times; though, as a
matter of fact, it was common enough, at least among the French, at the
end of the last century. In our own country the discontinuance of what
was at one time as much a custom in England as in France, or any other
Continental land, is probably due to the influence of the Reformation,
which, condemning absolutely the adoration of the relics of saints, did
not favour the respectful preservation of relics of any kind. Great was
the astonishment caused in England when, in the last generation, it was
found that Daniel O’Connell had by will ordered his heart to be sent to
Rome. The injunction was made at the time the subject of an epigram
which was intended to be offensive, but which would probably have been
regarded by O’Connell himself as the reverse, setting forth, as it did,
that the heart which was to be forwarded to Rome had never, in fact,
been anywhere else. The reasons for which, in the Middle Ages, hearts
were enclosed in precious urns may have been very practical ones.
Sometimes the owner of the heart had died far from home; and, in
accordance with his last wishes, the organ associated with all his
noblest emotions was sent across the seas to his living friends. Such
may well have been the case when, after the death of St. Louis at Tunis,
the heart of the pious king was transmitted to France, where it was
preserved for centuries, perhaps even until our own time, in the
Sainte-Chapelle. In the year 1798, while some masons were engaged in
repairing the building, which had been converted into a _depôt_ for
state archives, they came across a heart-shaped casket in lead,
containing what was described as “the remains of a human heart.” The
custodians of the archives drew up a formal report on the discovery,
and, enclosing it in the casket with the remains, replaced the whole
beneath the flagstones under which they had been found. In 1843, when
the chapel was restored, the leaden heart-shaped casket was found anew,
and a commission was appointed to decide as to the genuineness of the
remains believed to be those of St. Louis. An adverse decision was
pronounced, the reasons for discrediting the legend on the subject being
fully set forth by M. Letrenne, the secretary of the commission.

More authentic are the remains cherished at Rouen as representing the
heart of Richard the Lion-hearted; though in this case again all
similitude to a heart, whether in shape or in substance, has entirely
disappeared. The descendants of St. Louis have in most cases had their
hearts preserved, though for different reasons from those which seemed
to have actuated the pious Crusader in his distant exile. Louis XIV.,
whose body, like that of his predecessors and successors even to the
eighteenth of the same name, was to be buried at Saint-Denis, gave his
heart to the Jesuits: “that heart,” says the Duc de Saint-Simon, “which
loved none and which few loved.” The heart of Louis XVIII. was in like
manner entrusted to the keeping of a religious house; and the same
custom would doubtless have been followed when Louis XV. died of
small-pox, had the dangerous condition of the body allowed of its being
done.

[Illustration: ELM TREE IN THE COURT OF HONOUR AT THE DEAF AND DUMB
INSTITUTION.]

From Louis XV. to Louis XVIII. no king of France died on the throne. But
when the postmortem examination was made of the child who perished in
the Temple, Dr. Pelletan, one of the surgeons who took part in the
operation, placed aside the heart of the so-called Louis XVII., and,
some twenty years afterwards, offered it to Louis XVIII., who, however,
declined the gift. Whether the king disbelieved Dr. Pelletan’s story, or
whether, as a certain set of writers maintain, he regarded as two
different beings the child who died in the Temple and Louis XVII.
(believed by many to have been smuggled out of prison and replaced by a
substitute) has never been made known. The reputed heart of Louis XVII.
did not in any case possess for Louis XVII.’s successor the value that
Dr. Pelletan had hoped. Such relics cannot indeed be prized if any
uncertainty exists as to their identity. About the same time that Dr.
Pelletan, by his own account, was appropriating to himself the heart of
Louis XVII., the heart of the great Buffon somehow became lost. Buffon
had bequeathed his heart to a friend for whom he entertained the deepest
affection. But the son, who had a great affection for his father,
refused to part with it, and offered in its place his father’s brain.
The heart was somehow lost in the midst of the revolutionary troubles,
but the brain has been preserved even until now. The illustrious Cuvier
wished at one time to purchase it, in order to place it at the foot of
Buffon’s statue. At another time the Russian Government wished to buy
it; and a high bid was once made for it by the proprietor of a museum of
curiosities; until at last it became the property of the State.

[Illustration: STATUE OF THE ABBÉ DE L’EPÉE AT THE DEAF AND DUMB
INSTITUTION.]

The heart of Buffon may probably, like many others, have been stolen for
the sake of its casket. Hearts intended to be preserved were usually
enclosed in cases not of lead--as by exception the heart of St. Louis
seems to have been--but of silver, and even gold. The precious metal was
often, moreover, adorned with jewels of great value. Every precaution,
in fact, was taken to render as difficult as possible the permanent
preservation of the object which it was desired to keep for ever; and,
as a natural result, the number of hearts which have come down to the
present day is exceedingly small. Nearly all the hearts in cases now to
be met with are those of modern celebrities. That of Voltaire--which
after being reverently kept until his death by his friend and admirer,
the Marquis de Villette, was at the Marquis’s death given by his heirs
to the state--can be seen at the National Library of Paris. But the
Hôtel des Invalides is, more than any other French establishment, rich
in hearts of the great. There the hearts are religiously preserved of
Turenne, of La Tour d’Auvergne, of Kléber, and of Napoleon. In England
the encased heart best known to us is probably that “Heart of Bruce”
celebrated in Aytoun’s “Lay” on the subject. Boece, in the story on
which Aytoun’s poem is partly founded, relates that when Sir James
Douglas was chosen as most worthy of all Scotland to pass with King
Robert’s heart to the Holy Land, he put it in a case of gold, with
aromatic and precious ointments, and took with him Sir William Sinclair
and Sir Robert Logan, with many other noblemen, to the holy grave,
“where he buried the said heart with the most reverence and solemnity
that could be devised.” According to Froissart, however, and other
authorities, Bruce’s heart was brought back to Scotland. Douglas, the
keeper of the heart, encountering the infidels, endeavoured to cut his
way through, and might have done so had he not turned to rescue a
companion whom he saw in jeopardy. In attempting this he became
inextricably mixed up with the enemy. Then taking from his neck the
casket which contained the heart of Bruce, he cast it before him, and
exclaimed with a loud voice, “Now pass onward as thou wert wont, and I
will follow thee.” These were the last words and deeds of an heroic
life. Douglas, quite overpowered, was slain; and it was not until the
following day that the heart of Bruce and the body of Douglas were both
recovered. Brought back to Scotland, the heart was deposited at Melrose,
and the Douglas family have ever since carried on their armorial
bearings a bloody heart. This is one of the few hearts which have been
preserved to a good purpose, and its preservation in the present day is
largely due to its having been embalmed in verse.

The obsequies of the French kings have from the earliest times been
attended with as much pomp and show as their coronations. It was not
enough to embalm the body, place it in several coffins and finally carry
it to the tomb; it was necessary, before transporting it to the royal
burial-place of Saint-Denis, to observe a ceremonial which the court
functionaries and the officials of state made a point of following in
the most literal manner. In the first place, the effigy of the dead king
was exposed for forty days in the palace, stretched out on a state bed,
clothed in royal garments--the crown on the head, the sceptre in the
right hand, and the brand of Justice in the left, with a crucifix, a
vessel of holy water, and two golden censers at the foot of the bed. The
officers of the palace continued their duties as usual, and even went so
far as to serve the king’s meals as though he were still living. The
body was afterwards transported to the abbey of Saint-Denis, with the
innumerable formalities laid down beforehand; while, at the moment of
interment, so many honours were paid to it, that to enumerate them would
be to fill a small volume. So precisely was the ceremony regulated that
battles of etiquette constantly took place among the exalted persons
figuring in the ceremony. At the burial of Philip Augustus the Papal
Legate and the Archbishop of Rheims disputed for precedence, and, as
neither would give way, they performed service at the same time, in the
same church, but at different altars. A like scandal occurred at the
funeral of St. Louis. When his successor, Philip III., wished to enter
the abbey of Saint-Denis at the head of the procession, the doors were
closed in his face. The abbot objected to the presence, not of the king,
his master, but of the Bishop of Paris and the Archbishop of Sens, whom
he had observed among the officiating clergy, and who, according to his
view, had no right to perform service in the abbey of Saint-Denis, where
he alone was chief. The difference was arranged by the archbishop and
bishop taking off their pontifical garments and acknowledging the
supremacy of the abbot in his own abbey.

At the death of Charles VI. it was found necessary to consult the Duke
of Bedford as to the conduct of the funeral ceremony, and, under the
direction of the foreigner, it was performed with great magnificence.
The duke observed as nearly as possible the ancient ceremonial, the only
important variation being that (possibly in his character of Englishman)
he ordered the interment to be followed by a grand dinner. Several
disputes on the favourite subject of etiquette had already taken place,
when at the dinner-table the presence of the Registrars of the
Parliament was objected to by the king’s sergeants-at-arms. The point,
when referred to the Master of the House, was decided in favour of the
registrars.

These royal funerals cost naturally enormous sums of money, which were
charged partly to the crown, partly to the city of Paris. The obsequies
of Francis I. cost his successor five hundred thousand livres, without
counting the contribution--which was probably of equal amount--from the
town. The effigies of his two sons who had died before him were carried
with him to Saint-Denis. Thus there were three coffins in the
procession. By the observance of a similar custom, there were in the
funeral procession of St. Louis no fewer than five.

At the funerals of the old kings genuine grief was often exhibited by
the people. Such, however, was not the case at the obsequies of Louis
XIV. The Duc de Saint-Simon, in his “Memoirs,” speaks of this funeral as
a very poor affair, remarkable only for the confused style in which it
was conducted. The king had left no directions in regard to his burial;
and, partly for the sake of economy, partly to save trouble, it was
decided to regulate the ceremonies by those observed at the interment of
Louis XIII., who, in his will, had ordered that they should be as simple
as possible. “His modesty and humility, as well as other Christian and
heroic qualities, had not,” says Saint-Simon, “descended to his son. But
the funeral of Louis XIII. was accepted as a precedent, and no one saw
any harm in that, or in any other way objected to it, attachment and
gratitude being virtues no longer to be found.” This was again shown by
the absence of the Duke of Orleans, just appointed regent, on the
occasion of the heart being carried to the Grand Jesuits. When, a month
later, the solemn obsequies of the king were celebrated at Saint-Denis,
everything took place with such confusion, “and so differently from what
was observed at the funerals of Henry IV. and Louis XIII.,” that
Saint-Simon declines to narrate the scene. He cannot, however, help
recording a quarrel on a point of etiquette, which took place between
three dukes of the realm and Dreux, the Master of the Ceremonies.
Possibly the question raised affected his own personal dignity as a
duke. “The Dukes of Uzès, of Luynes, and of Brissac,” writes
Saint-Simon, “were appointed to carry the crown, the sceptre, and the
brand of Justice, being the seniors of those competent for the
duties.... When the ceremony had just begun Dreux approached the stall
occupied by the Duke of Orleans to receive some order. Then M. d’Uzès
went forward before the other princes and chief mourners, and said to
Dreux that he begged him to remember that the three dukes must be
saluted before the Parliament. Dreux replied that he should do nothing
of the kind. He was son of the Councillor of the Great Chamber, who had
sent the king’s testamentary disposition as regards the regency to the
assembled Parliament. His son, then, was careful not to take part
against the Parliament when the office held by his father was, prior to
his own, the first cleanser of his low origin. M. d’Uzès was content to
ask him his reasons. ‘Because it would be against rule,’” said Dreux.
“This liar replied insolently and falsely,” adds Saint-Simon, “for his
own registers, which are in my possession, show that the dukes were
without difficulty saluted before the Parliament at the obsequies of
Louis XIII., Henry IV,, etc. Their dignity requires it; the symbols of
royalty carried by them require it; their seats, raised higher than
those of the Parliament, prove it in the most evident manner. M. d’Uzès
insisted, but Dreux continued to be offensive, and insisted on his side,
appealing to his registers. As they could not then be referred to he was
believed, on his more than frivolous word, by the Duke of Orleans, who
had intervened, but who took a very feeble part in the laconic
conversation. He cared neither for riches nor dignities. He wished to
humour the Parliament, above all, at the beginning, but he was not sorry
to see a new quarrel arise.”

In addition to the usual distribution of alms, the Regent of Orleans
associated the funeral of Louis XIV. with an exceptional act of mercy. A
number of persons had been arbitrarily imprisoned on _lettres de cachet_
and otherwise, some for Jansenism and various religious and political
offences; others for reasons known only to the king; others, again, for
reasons known to former ministers of the king, but to no one else. The
regent ordered all the captives to be set at liberty, with the exception
of a few whom he knew to be guilty of serious political or criminal
misdeeds. Among the prisoners liberated from the Bastille was an
Italian, who had been confined for thirty-five years, and who had been
arrested the day of his arrival at Paris, which he had come to see
simply as a traveller. “No one ever knew why,” says Saint-Simon, “nor,
like most of the others, had he ever been interrogated. It was thought
to be a mistake. When his liberty was announced to him, he asked sadly
of what use it was to him. He said that he had not a sou, that he knew
no one at Paris, not even the name of a street nor a single person in
any part of France, that his relations in Italy were probably dead, and
that his property must have been divided among his heirs, considering
how long he had been away from the country and that no one knew what had
become of him. He asked to be allowed to remain at the Bastille for the
rest of his life with board and lodging. This was granted to him, with
liberty to go out when he pleased. As for the prisoners taken out of the
dungeons, into which the hatred of the ministers and that of the Jesuits
had thrown them, the horrible condition in which they appeared inspired
dread, and rendered credible all the cruelties they related when they
were in full liberty.” The story of the prisoner who declined to leave
the Bastille is additionally interesting from its having been reported
of another prisoner--possibly real, probably imaginary--on the occasion
of the Bastille being taken by the Revolutionists in 1789.

The funeral of Louis XV. was a very hurried affair. The king died on the
10th of May at twenty minutes past three. The whole court instantly took
flight, and there only remained with the body the persons necessary to
take care of it. The utmost precipitation was used in removing it from
Versailles. None of the usual formalities were observed. Everyone was
afraid to go near the body. Undertakers, like the rest, feared the
small-pox of which the king had died, and the corpse was carried to
Saint-Denis in an ordinary travelling-carriage, under the care of forty
members of the body-guard and a few pages. The escort hurried on the
dead man in the most indecent manner; and all along the road the
greatest levity was shown by the spectators. The taverns were filled
with uproarious guests, and it is said that when the landlord of one of
them tried to silence a troublesome customer by reminding him that the
king was about to pass, the man replied, “The rogue starved us in his
lifetime; does he want us to perish of thirst now that he is dead?” A
jest different in style, but showing equally in what esteem Louis XV.
was held by his subjects, is attributed to the Abbé of Saint-Geneviève.
Being taunted with the powerlessness of his saint, and the little effect
which the opening of his shrine, formerly so efficacious, had produced,
he replied: “What, gentlemen, have you to complain of? Is he not dead?”

[Illustration: THE VAL DE GRÂCE FROM THE RUE DE LA SANTÉ.]

[Illustration: VIEW FROM THE PONT DE LA CONCORDE.]

The last of the Bourbons buried at Saint-Denis was Louis XVIII., whose
obsequies were conducted as nearly as possible on the ancient regal
pattern. The exhibition of the king’s effigy in wax had in Louis
XVIII.’s time been out of fashion for more than a century. But the
customs observed in connection with the lying-in-state of Louis XIV.
were for the most part revived. The king, who died on the 16th of
September, 1824, was embalmed, and on the 18th was exposed on a state
bed in the Hall of the Throne. His bowels and heart had been enclosed in
caskets of enamel. The exhibition of the body lasted six days, during
which it was constantly surrounded by the officers of the crown and the
superior clergy. The translation of the remains to Saint-Denis took
place on the 23rd, in the midst of an imposing civil and military
procession. The princes of the blood and grand officers of state
occupied fourteen mourning coaches, each with eight horses, and the tail
of the procession was formed by four hundred poor men and women bearing
torches. Received at the entrance to the church by the Dean of the Royal
Chapter and the Grand Almoner of France, the body was placed on trestles
in the chancel while prayers were recited by the clergy. It was
afterwards removed to an illuminated chapel, where it remained exposed
for a whole month, the chapter performing services night and day. The
interment took place on the 25th of October. The Grand Almoner said a
solemn mass; and after the Gospel a funeral oration was pronounced by
the Bishop of Hermopolis. Then four bishops blessed the body, and
absolution having been pronounced, twelve of the body-guard carried down
the coffin to the royal vault, and the Grand Almoner cast a shovelful of
earth on the coffin, blessing it, and saying, “_Requiescat in pace_.”
The king-at-arms approached the open vault, and threw into it his wand,
his helmet, and his coat of arms, ordered the other heralds to imitate
him, and calling up the grand officers of the crown, told them to bring
the insignia of authority held from the defunct king. Each came in
succession with the object entrusted to his care--such as the banner of
the royal guard, the flags of the companies of the body-guard, the
spurs, the gauntlets, the shield, the coat of arms, the helm, the
pennon, the brand of justice, the sceptre, and the crown. The royal
sword and banner were only presented at the mouth of the vault. The
Grand Master of France inclined at the same time towards the coffin the
end of his staff, and cried in a loud voice: “The king is dead!” The
king-at-arms, taking three steps backwards, repeated in the same tone
“The king is dead! The king is dead! The king is dead!” Then turning
towards the persons assembled, he added: “Let us all pray to God for the
repose of his soul.” The clergy and all present fell on their knees,
prayed, and then stood up. The Grand Master then drew back his staff
from above the vault, raised it in the air, and cried: “Long live the
king!” The king-at-arms repeated: “Long live the king! Long live the
king! Long live King Charles, the tenth of the name, by the grace of God
King of France and of Navarre; very Christian, very august, very
powerful; our honoured lord and master, to whom may God give a very long
and very happy life. Cry all: ‘Long live the king!’” Music then sounded,
and all present responded with cries of “Long live the king! Long live
Charles X.!” The tomb was closed, and the ceremony was at an end.

At the funeral of the Comte de Chambord the hearse was surmounted by a
dome, on which rested four crowns. It was not explained what kingdoms
these crowns were intended to represent. As the head of the house of
France, the right of the Count--heraldically speaking--to wear the
French crown would scarcely be disputed. The four symbolical crowns on
the Comte de Chambord’s hearse were possibly, then, meant to be simple
reminders that the Bourbons claimed sovereign rights over four different
countries; and, in the days of Louis Philippe, they in fact reigned in
France, Spain, Naples, and Parma. But the revolution of 1848 in France,
and the war of 1859 in Italy, cleared three thrones of their Bourbon
occupants, and the last of the reigning Bourbons disappeared when, in
1868, Isabella of Spain fled from Madrid. Thus in the course of twenty
years the four Bourbon crowns lost all real significance, and the
Bourbon sovereigns increased the number of those “kings in exile,” so
much more plentiful during the period of M. Alphonse Daudet than in that
of Voltaire, who first observed them (in “Candide”) as a separate
species.

Now that the Comte de Chambord reposes by the side of his grandfather,
Charles X., there are as many of the Bourbons buried at Göritz as at St.
Denis, where, in the burial-place of the French kings, the only really
authentic bodies are those of the Duc de Berry, the Comte de Chambord’s
father, and of Louis XVIII., his great-uncle. In regard to the latter
occupants of the French throne, one knows at least where they are
interred--Napoleon I. at the Invalides, Louis Philippe at Claremont,
Napoleon III. at Chiselhurst, and the last two representatives of the
Bourbons at Göritz. The first of the Bourbons Henry IV., together with
his successors, Louis XIII., Louis XIV., and Louis XV., were all buried
at St. Denis, in the vault known as that of the Bourbons; and to the
coffins still supposed to contain their remains were added after the
Restoration two more, which are reputed, without adequate foundation for
the belief, to hold the bodies of Louis XVI. and of the child who died
in the Temple--the so-called Louis XVII. The body of the Duc de Berry
was laid in the vault of the Bourbons a few days after his
assassination in 1820; and that of Louis XVIII. was consigned to the
same resting-place in 1824. But in 1793 the tombs of the French kings
had been dismantled and their contents reinterred promiscuously in two
large graves hastily dug for their reception; and the identity of the
bones asserted to be those of Louis XVI. and Louis XVII., which were not
placed in the Bourbon vault of the St. Denis church until 1815, could
scarcely be demonstrated. “To celebrate the 10th of August, which marks
the downfall of the French throne, we must on its anniversary,” said
Barère in his report on the subject, addressed to the French Convention,
“destroy the splendid mausoleums at St. Denis. Under the Monarchy the
very tombs had learned to flatter the kings. Their haughtiness, their
love of display, could not become softened even on the theatre of death;
and the sceptre-bearers who have done so much harm to France and to
humanity, seem even in the grave to be proud of their vanished
greatness. The powerful hand of the Republic must efface without pity
these arrogant epitaphs, and demolish these mausoleums which would bring
back the frightful recollections of the kings.”

The proposition of Barère was adopted, and the National Assembly decreed
“that the tombs and mausoleums of the former kings in the church of St.
Denis should be destroyed.” The execution of the decree was undertaken
on the 6th of August, and three days afterwards fifty-one tombs had been
demolished. One of the most remarkable of these tombs was the
earliest--the tomb erected by St. Louis in memory of “Le Roi Dagobert,”
of facetious memory, famed in song for having put on his breeches “à
l’envers.” It is one of the most curious monuments of the thirteenth
century, and at least as interesting by its subject as by its
architecture. In three zones superposed, the first above the second, the
second above the third, is represented the legend of Dagobert’s death.
In the lowest of the three zones we see St. Denis revealing to a
sleeping anchorite named Jean that King Dagobert is suffering torments;
and close by the soul of Dagobert, represented by a naked child bearing
a crown, is being maltreated by demons frightfully ugly, who are holding
their prey in a boat. In the middle zone the same demons are running
precipitately from the boat in the most grotesque attitudes at the
approach of the three saints--Denis, Martin, and Maurice--who have come
to rescue the soul of King Dagobert. In the highest of the bas-reliefs
the soul of King Dagobert is free. The naked child is now standing in a
winding-sheet, of which the two ends are held by St. Denis and St.
Martin, and angels are awaiting him in Heaven, whither he is about to
ascend. The commission appointed by the Convention did not destroy this
tomb. They had it transported, with many other objects of artistic or of
intrinsic value, to Paris; and on presenting to the National Assembly
what had been saved from the general wreck, the representative of the
commission spoke as follows:--“Citoyens représentatives--” Les prêtres
ne sont pas ce qu’un vain peuple pense; Notre crédulité fait toute leur
science.[B] Such was the language formerly held by an author whose
writings prepared our revolution; the inhabitants of Franciade (the new
Republican name given to the religious and royal St. Denis) have just
proved to you that it is not foreign either to their mind or their
heart. It is said that a miracle caused the head of the saint which we
now offer you to travel from Montmartre to St. Denis. Another miracle,
greater and more authentic, the miracle of the regeneration of opinions,
brings this head to Paris. The new translation is marked, however, by
this difference. The saint, according to the legend, kissed his hand
respectfully at each step; and we have not once been tempted to kiss the
offensive relic. His journey will not this time be chronicled in the
martyrologies, but in the annals of reason; and it will be doubly useful
to the human species. This skull and the holy rags which accompany it
will cease at last to be the ridiculous object of popular veneration and
the aliment of superstition, fanaticism, and lies. The gold and silver
which surround them will help to strengthen the empire of liberty and
reason. The treasures amassed in the course of centuries by the pride of
kings, the stupid credulity of the devout, and the charlatanism of
deceitful priests, seem to have been reserved by Providence for this
glorious epoch. It will soon be said of kings, of priests, and of
saints, They have been. Reason is now the order of the day; or, to speak
the language of mysticism, the last judgment has arrived with the
separation of the bad from the good. You, formerly the instruments of
despotism, saints of both sexes, blessed of all kinds, be at least
patriots: rise in a body, march to the help of our native land, be off
to the mint--and may be by your help obtain in this life the happiness
you promised us in another. We bring to you, citizen legislators, all
the rottenness that existed at Franciade. But as in the midst of it
there are objects designated by the Commission of Monuments as precious
for the arts, we have filled with them six chariots; you will say where
they can provisionally be placed, that the Commission may make a
selection.”

[B] The priests are not what a shallow people thinks them; our credulity
is all their learning.

When Louis XVIII. returned to the throne of his ancestors, he made it
almost his first care to re-establish their tombs, and he entrusted the
work to the well-known architect, M. Viollet-Le-Duc. The task of
disinterring and sorting the bones of the ancient kings would have been
too difficult; but coffins presumed to be those of Louis XVI. and Marie
Antoinette were discovered in the cemetery of the Madeleine, and another
coffin, which might have been that of Louis XVII., was also found. These
three coffins were in 1815 placed with great solemnity in the vault of
the Bourbons; to which, as before mentioned, were added in 1820 and 1824
the coffins (with bodies enclosed) of the Duc de Berry and of Louis
XVIII. The one king whose remains can be said beyond doubt to be in the
ancient burial-places of the French kings is Louis XVIII.



CHAPTER XVIII.

THE CATACOMBS: THE OBSERVATORY.

Origin of the Catacombs--The Quarries of Mont Souris--The
Observatory--Marshal Ney--The School of Medicine.


Between the church where the hearts of royal princes were once
deposited, and the catacombs where nameless human remains are still
preserved, there is but little connection. It has already, however, been
mentioned that a portion of the catacombs separates the Val de Grâce
from its foundations; and a word may here not inappropriately be said of
underground Paris. The catacombs are certainly miscalled. The name
carries us back to antiquity; and those who have no positive information
on the subject may be excused for thinking that here were buried the
inhabitants of Lutetia in the time of Cæsar and of Julian the Apostate.
As a matter of fact, however, the so-called catacombs are simply
quarries to which have been removed from time to time since the closing
years of the last century the skeletons and bones of those interred in
the Paris cemeteries and graveyards, which, as they became too full, had
to be relieved of their mouldering contents. In 1780 the inhabitants of
some houses in the Rue de la Lingerie, alarmed by certain deplorable
accidents which happened through the propinquity of their cellars to a
large common graveyard formed to hold 2,000 bodies, addressed a petition
to the lieutenant-general of police, pointing out the dangers by which
the health of Paris was threatened. The lieutenant recommended the
suppression of the Church of the Innocents, and the exhumation of the
bodies deposited in the ancient cemetery attached to it, which it was
proposed should be turned into a public thoroughfare. The suggestions of
the lieutenant, M. Lenoir, having been accepted, his successor, M.
Crosne, appointed a commission through the members of the Royal Society
of Medicine, which was entrusted with the duty of emptying the cemetery
of the Innocents of its dangerous contents. The decision arrived at was
that the human remains should be removed from the cemetery and placed in
the quarries of Mont-Souris. During the year 1786 the quarries were
prepared for receiving the bones of whole generations of the Paris
population. In some places pillars were built up in order to support the
quarries where there seemed to be a probability of their giving way from
above; in others, where the quarries were open, they were covered over,
so that the new catacombs might be everywhere underground. Excavations,
too, had to be made; and, finally, an upper storey was constructed, so
that the bones now repose in two different layers, one above the other.
On the 7th of April, 1787, the catacombs intended to serve as general
ossuary to all the cemeteries of Paris were solemnly blessed and
consecrated; and the same day began the translation of the contents of
the cemetery of the Innocents to the catacombs. Dr. Theuriet, who
superintended the removal, came to the conclusion, together with other
medical men, his assistants, that, from the position of the limbs, a
number of persons must have been buried in a state of lethargy, so
hastily and carelessly were people interred in those days. After the
cemetery of the Innocents had been cleared of its remains other
burial-places were proceeded with; and though the work of transfer had
not been finished when the Revolution broke out, which had the natural
effect of interrupting it, some of the first victims of the great
struggle were carried to the catacombs. The bones deposited in these
subterranean vaults are arranged in an orderly and methodical style.
There are no tombs in the catacombs, where the dead are absolutely on an
equality. Here and there, however, the name of tomb has been fancifully
given to some pillar or portion of a pillar which presented a monumental
aspect. Thus the tomb of Gilbert, the unhappy poet, is pointed out,
because, on the wall of the supposed sepulchre, someone has inscribed
the well-known opening lines of his most celebrated poem,

    Au banquet de la vie, infortuné convive,
      J’apparus un jour et je meurs.
    Je meurs, et sur la tombe où lentement j’arrive
      Nul ne viendra verser des pleurs![C]

[C] A literal prose translation reads somewhat baldly:--An unfortunate
guest at life’s banquet I appeared for a day and now die; I die, and on
the tomb to which I am slowly travelling none will come to shed a tear.

At other points the walls of the catacombs have, by some peculiarity of
construction or of natural form, suggested legendary ideas. One pillar
is called that of the “Imitation”; and elsewhere the pedestal of
Saint-Laurent may be seen.

[Illustration: ENTRANCE TO THE OBSERVATORY.]

Some forty or fifty years ago the catacombs were the object of daily
visits, and the sight was one which every visitor to Paris felt called
upon to see. Accidents, however, frequently took place; and at present
no one enters the catacombs except at certain periods of the year, when
the engineers have to make a formal report as to their condition. The
ventilation is effected by means of numerous holes communicating with
the upper air. The catacombs may be entered from various points. At the
period of the daily visits, which were too often accompanied by
accidents, the descent was made from the south, near the Luxemburg
Gardens. The names of visitors are called over before they go down and
again when they come up. The general aspect of the place is not so
solemn as might be imagined. It suggests rather a vast wine-cellar in
which the cases enclose bones instead of bottles. The relics of four
million persons now repose there. This subterranean city contains
streets and passages like the city above, and each thoroughfare,
numbered as though it consisted of houses, corresponds closely enough to
the street, with its numbers, of the metropolis overhead. The object of
this carefully-planned correspondence is to be able, in case of
accident, to furnish assistance as soon as possible at the spot
indicated.

[Illustration: THE GARDENS OF THE OBSERVATORY, BOULEVARD ARAGO.]

The favourite point of descent for visitors to the catacombs is in the
ominously-named Rue d’Enfer (the origin of the name has been already
given); and here the visitor finds himself with the Children’s Asylum
and the Convent of the Visitation on the one hand, and on the other the
Convent of the Good Shepherd; behind which may be seen, at the end of
the Luxemburg Gardens, the tower and cupola of the Observatory.

The Children’s Asylum is really a foundling hospital, established in an
ancient building given by Gaston, Duke of Orleans, to the priests of the
Oratory in 1655. For a long time the duty of gathering up and educating
deserted children, and in particular new-born babes exposed,
defenceless, to the inclemency of the weather, belonged, as a special
Christian prerogative, to the bishop of Paris; and in the cathedral
stood a bedstead, fastened into the pavement, on which, on fête days,
children were exposed in order to awaken the charity of the public.
Close to the bed were two or three nurses and a basin for the receipt of
alms. This charity, of somewhat primitive type, gave rise to abuses. The
nurses of the unknown children would now and then become tired of them,
and got rid of them by simply selling them. It is said that at the Port
Saint-Landry children fetched twenty sous apiece. Those of the
foundlings who did not die helped to swell the number of the vagabonds,
beggars, and thieves.

Such was the scandalous state of things which St. Vincent de Paul
undertook to reform when he founded in 1638, near the gate of
Saint-Victor, an asylum for foundlings directed by ladies of charity. In
1641 Louis XIII. ensured to it an annuity of four thousand livres
(francs), which in 1644 was raised to twelve thousand. After being moved
from place to place, the institution was located at a house in the
Faubourg Saint-Antoine, of which the first stone was laid in 1676 by
Queen Marie-Thérèse, with a subsidiary establishment in connection with
Notre Dame.

At present foundlings and poor orphans are received at the asylum of Les
Enfants Assistés from the first day of their birth until their twelfth
year. Immediately after their admission the children are sent into the
country, where the newly-born are entrusted to nurses, while the elder
ones are placed with artisans or farmers. The asylum receives, moreover,
for a time, the children of hospital patients and of persons arrested or
condemned for criminal offences. The number of children belonging to the
latter category averages some four thousand a year, for whom 542 beds
have been provided. The general expenses of the asylum exceed annually
two millions and a half of francs (£100,000). Opposite the Children’s
Asylum are the lofty walls of the convent of the Good Shepherd,
administered by the lady hospitallers of Saint-Thomas de Villeneuve, for
the benefit of penitent women.

Enclosed by the Rue d’Enfer, the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Jacques, and the
Boulevard Arago stands the Observatory, one of the most celebrated
scientific establishments of Paris and of the world. It was founded by
order of Louis XIV. Colbert took the work in hand, Claude Perrault
designed it, and Cassini inaugurated it in the name of Science. The
building, begun in 1667 and finished in 1672, still preserves its
original design. With its square tower in front, on the side of the
avenue, and its side wings in the form of octagonal pavilions, the
Observatory would resemble some country house if its cupolas and the
other appendages which surmount the terraces on its Italian roof did not
indicate its scientific object. The four sides of this rectangular
construction correspond exactly to the four cardinal points. The
principal façade, to which, from the Luxemburg Gardens, leads the broad
avenue, looks directly to the north. The posterior façade, on the
Boulevard side, has a southern aspect. The left side, dominating the
Faubourg Saint-Jacques, receives the rising sun, while the setting sun
casts its rays on the right side, which runs in a line with the Rue
d’Enfer. The latitude of the southern façade is taken, in the official
geography and cosmography of France, for the latitude of Paris, so that
the Paris meridian cuts the building into two equal parts. Neither wood
nor iron has been employed in the construction, which is entirely of
stone.

The Observatory, a state establishment under the control of the Ministry
of Public Instruction, is governed by a director, who has attached to
him titular astronomers, eight adjunct astronomers, and five assistant
astronomers. The administration is in the hands of the director, aided
by a council, who, moreover, superintends the scientific surveys, and is
charged with the correspondence and the publication of reports.

The meridian of Paris, traced in a great hall on the second storey,
divides the edifice into two parts by a line which, prolonged north and
south, would reach, in one direction, Dunkirk on the North Sea, in the
other Callioure on the Mediterranean. These two lines, which intersect
one another at the central point of the façade, served as basis for the
numerous triangles upon which were drawn up, in the last century, the
map of France, known as the map of Cassini, and in the middle of the
present century the map known as the “staff map,” begun under the
direction of General Pelet. The east wing contains the chambers of
observation and the instruments belonging to them; the west wing an
amphitheatre capable of holding 8,000 persons. It was here that the
illustrious Arago delivered his lectures.

In 1815 was constructed, on the octagonal tower of the east, the great
copper cupola furnished with apertures for telescopes, the floor of
which moves round, so that the astronomer in observation can follow the
revolutions of the stars throughout the night. This revolving dome, the
largest known in the scientific world, has a diameter of about thirteen
metres. In its centre is the immense parallactic telescope of Bruner. It
is nine metres long and thirty-eight centimetres in diameter. Mention
must be made, in other parts of the edifice, beneath smaller cupolas, of
hydrometers for measuring the rain, the equatorial telescope of
Secrétan and Eychens, together with thermometers, regulators,
telegraphic and registering apparatus, Gamby’s mural circle,
micrometers, the great meridian circle, and the immense telescope, one
of the four largest telescopes in the world, furnished with a mirror
silvered by the Foucourt process and having a diameter of 120
centimetres.

The Observatory avenue was the scene of a tragic event on the 7th of
December, 1815, when, at daybreak, in front of the wall of a public
dancing-place, known as the Closerie des Lilas, Marshal Ney, condemned
to death by sentence of the Court of Peers, was shot. Marshal Ney, Duke
of Elchingen and Prince of Moscow (or of “Moskowa,” the Moscow river),
after gaining distinction in all Napoleon’s campaigns, found himself,
under the Restoration, in 1814, charged with the duty of seizing his
former chief, who had just disembarked from Elba, and bringing him as a
prisoner to Paris. Though far from being an enthusiastic supporter of
the Bourbons, Ney considered that after the arrangements of Vienna and
the pacification of Europe, Napoleon had committed a serious offence in
coming back to France. Marshal Soult, then Minister of War, sent him to
the south of France, where he was to take measures against Napoleon from
headquarters at Besançon. Before proceeding on his mission Ney had an
audience of Louis XVIII., in the course of which, speaking of Napoleon,
he promised to bring him back “in an iron cage.” Arriving at Besançon,
Ney learned that the Count of Artois, brother of the king, had gone to
Lyons, where he at once wrote to the count saying that as the small
number of troops at Besançon did not require his presence in that town,
he begged his royal highness to employ him near his person, and, if
possible, as commander of the vanguard; desiring, as in all other
circumstances, to give proofs of his zeal and fidelity. On the day
following, M de Maillé, the count’s first gentleman of the chamber, went
to inform the marshal of the prince’s departure from Lyons and of
Bonaparte’s arrival at Grenoble. Ney thereupon decided to move his
headquarters to Lons-le-Saunier, “resolved,” as he wrote to the Minister
of War, “to attack the enemy on the first favourable occasion.” On
reaching Lons-le-Saunier, he heard that Napoleon had entered Lyons, on
which he concentrated his forces without delay, and gave instructions to
his generals. His orderly officer having told him that the soldiers in
their excitement were on the point of breaking out into mutiny, and were
shouting “Vive l’Empereur,” he replied, “They must fight. I will myself
take a gun from the hands of a grenadier. I will begin the action, and
will shoot the first man who refuses to follow me.” The next day, on the
13th of March, Ney was informed that Bonaparte was being everywhere
received with acclamation, and that everywhere the troops sent against
him were joining his standard. At Bourg, Maçon, and Dijon the
re-establishment of the Empire had been proclaimed; and the artillery,
which had been ordered to join the Royalist army, had gone over to
Napoleon’s forces. In presence of this irresistible movement, the
marshal fell into a state of the utmost perplexity. On the night of the
13th emissaries from Bonaparte came to see him. They declared that the
return of Napoleon met with the approval of England and Austria; told
him that his soldiers would certainly abandon him, and explained to him,
by narrating the triumphal progress of his former chief, how impossible
he would find it to act against the current of public opinion. All this
had a great effect upon Ney. Uncertain, shaken in his resolution, he
consulted the two principal generals, Lecourbe and Bourmont, serving
under his orders, and, on the ground that the public current was
irresistible, determined to abandon the Royalist cause. Forgetting all
his promises, all his emphatic protestations of loyalty, he joined the
side that was now triumphant. He assembled his troops in the public
square of Lons-le-Saunier on the morning of the 14th, and appeared in
the midst of them surrounded by his staff. Drawing his sword, and in a
loud impressive voice, he read the following proclamation, which had
been handed to him by Napoleon’s envoys:--“Officers, under-officers, and
soldiers. The cause of the Bourbons is lost for ever. The dynasty
adopted by the French nation is about to reascend the throne. To the
Emperor Napoleon, our sovereign, alone belongs the right of reigning for
our dear country. Let the Bourbon nobility make up its mind to leave the
country once more, or consent to live in the midst of us. What, in
either case, does it matter? The sacred cause of liberty and
independence will suffer no more from their fatal hands. They wished to
tarnish our military glory; but they made a mistake. This glory is the
fruit of actions too noble ever to be forgotten. Soldiers, these are no
longer the times in which nations can be governed by stifling their
rights. Liberty triumphs at last, and Napoleon, our august emperor, will
establish it on durable foundations. Henceforth this cause shall be ours
and that of France. Let the brave men I have the honour to command take
this truth to their hearts.

[Illustration: PLACE DE L’OBSERVATOIRE.]

“Soldiers, I have often led you to victory. I will now conduct you to
that immortal phalanx which the Emperor Napoleon is leading towards
Paris, and which will arrive there within a few days, when our hopes and
our happiness will be for ever realised. Long live the Emperor!
Lons-le-Saunier, March 13, 1815, Marshal of the Empire, Prince de la
Moskowa.”

From the very first words of this proclamation the soldiers, who hated
the Bourbons, raised frantic acclamations. A furious joy, says M.
Thiers, broke out like thunder in the ranks. Placing their shakos at the
end of their muskets, they raised them in the air and cried out with
significant violence, “Vive l’Empereur! Vive le Maréchal Ney!” Then they
broke the ranks, rushed headlong towards the marshal, and kissing, some
his hands, others the skirts of his coat, thanked him after their manner
for having accomplished the desire of their hearts. Those who could not
get near him surrounded his aides-de-camp; rather embarrassed at
receiving homages which they certainly did not deserve, for they were
strangers to the sudden change that had been brought about. “We knew,”
cried the soldiers, “that you and the marshal would not leave us in the
hands of the émigrés.” The inhabitants showed themselves not less
enthusiastic than the troops; and Ney returned to his quarters under the
escort of an excited crowd, frantic with joy. When, however, he found
himself at home, he read in the countenances of his aides-de-camp
uneasiness and even disapproval. One of them, a former émigré, broke his
sword, saying at the same time: “You should have told us beforehand, M.
le Maréchal. You should not have made us witnesses of such a sight.”

“And what would you have had me do?” replied Ney. “Could I stop the
advancing sea with my hands?”

Others, while admitting that it was impossible to make the soldiers
fight against Napoleon, expressed their regret at his having undertaken,
at such a short interval, two such contrary parts.

“You are children,” replied the marshal. “It is necessary to do one
thing or another. Can I go and hide myself like a coward to avoid the
responsibility of events beyond me. Marshal Ney cannot take refuge in
the dark. Besides, there is only one way to diminish the evil: by taking
a decided part at once so as to avert civil war; to get into our hands
the man who has returned and prevent him from committing follies. For,”
he added, “I am not giving myself over to a man but to my country; and
if this man wished to lead us back once more to the Vistula, I would not
follow him.” Having treated in this manner those who blamed him. Marshal
Ney received at dinner, besides the generals, all the regimental chiefs
with the exception of one who refused to come. After the defeat of
Waterloo, in which he is represented by French historians as everywhere
seeking death, Ney was brought before the Chamber of Peers, and for his
disloyalty condemned to death.

[Illustration: STATUE OF MARSHAL NEY.]

[Illustration: SCHOOL OF DRAWING, RUE DE L’ÉCOLE DE MÉDECINE.]

Out of 161 members present, 128 voted death, 17 transportation, while 5
members abstained from voting. Amongst the peers who pronounced for
capital punishment may be mentioned Châteaubriand, the Duc de Valmy, the
Duc de Bellune, Lauriston, General Monnier, and the Comtes Dupont, de
Beauharnais, de Tascher, de Sèze, Séguier, Lamoignon, and d’Aguesseau.

From the prison of the Luxemburg, his place of confinement, the marshal
was taken at an early hour of the morning to the avenue of the
Observatory, and was, as before mentioned, placed against the wall.
Protesting his innocence, and appealing to God and to posterity, he
died, pierced to the heart by half-a-dozen bullets. The Duke of
Wellington was accused at the time of not lifting a finger to save Ney
from the consequences of his treason. It has since been shown by the
evidence of the duke’s own words that he approached the king on the
subject. But he met with such a reception that it was impossible for him
to persist.

On the critical day, when Napoleon’s envoys appealed to him, and when
his troops were longing, to a man, to swell the numbers of Napoleon’s
forces, the marshal, it is argued, could scarcely have acted otherwise
than as he did. Of the 128 peers who voted for the marshal’s execution,
a considerable number were of Napoleonic creation.

After the Revolution of 1848 a tablet was affixed to the fatal wall in
memory of Ney, and a sum of money voted for the erection of a statue. It
was reserved, however, for Napoleon III. to commemorate, on the spot
where he had fallen by the bullets of his own countrymen, the heroism of
the marshal. The monument was inaugurated on the 7th of December, 1853,
the anniversary of the marshal’s death, the ceremony being presided over
by Comte de Persigny, Minister of the Interior, and Ney’s grandson by
marriage. The monument consists of a pedestal in white marble, resting
on a foundation of red granite, and supporting the statue of the
marshal, modelled by Rude. Sabre in hand, Ney appears to be leading his
troops to a charge or to an assault.

We have seen that the Rue d’Enfer, thanks to the power of the monks over
the fiend who once made night hideous by his unearthly screams, has long
had the reputation of being the quietest street in Paris. Here numbers
of artists have made their abode, sure, in the midst of monasteries and
asylums, of the tranquillity so necessary to their labours.

Among the remarkable institutions in this neighbourhood may be mentioned
the free school of drawing in the Rue de l’École de Médecine. A special
school for girls, founded in 1803 in the Petit Rue de Touraine (now Rue
Dupuytren), was afterwards transferred to No. 7 Rue de Seine.

The Church of the Cordeliers, pulled down at the beginning of the
century, stood on the site now occupied by the School of Medicine.
Behind the church a garden, laid out by the famous Le Notre, was the
scene of the funeral ceremony and interment of Marat, stabbed by
Charlotte Corday in the house just opposite, numbered 20 at the time.
After the body had been publicly exhibited and made the subject of a
picture by David, it was interred in the garden beneath an arbour which
bore this inscription, among others equally singular: “Sacred heart of
Marat, pray for us!” Exhumed some years later, the remains of Marat were
carried to the Panthéon, whence they were taken out, to be cast into the
gutter of the Rue Montmartre, their last resting-place.

Of the agglomeration of buildings which constituted the convent of the
Cordeliers, the only one that remains is that which formerly contained
the dormitories and the refectory. Within its walls is now established
the Dupuytren Museum, with its specimens of pathological anatomy, not
open to the public. The Practical School of Medicine, on the Place de
l’École de Médecine, stands on the site formerly occupied by the rest of
the cloister and its dependencies. The collective name of École Pratique
is given to the dissection-rooms of the Faculty of Medicine and to the
amphitheatres where free lectures are given, and where some six hundred
students practise dissection and experimental chemistry.

Immediately opposite the Practical School is the School of Medicine,
built in 1769 by the architect Gondouin. The edifice, as completed under
Louis XVI., is composed of four blocks of buildings, leaving between
them a large courtyard. The façade, looking on to the square, consists
of a gallery of Ionic columns. Above the colonnade is an attic storey
with twelve windows, broken, above the principal entrance, by a
bas-relief representing Minerva and Generosity granting privileges to
Surgery, followed by Vigilance and Prudence. The Genius of Art is seen
presenting to the king the plan of the building.

This handsome edifice is the seat of the Paris Faculty of Medicine,
whose mission it is to teach medicine and surgery in all their branches,
and to examine the students and assign to them those diplomas, without
which it is forbidden in France to practise medicine, surgery, or
pharmacy. The title of professor at the Faculty of Medicine is the
highest that a physician or surgeon can obtain. The number of titular
professors amounts to twenty-six.

The Faculty possesses a library, two museums, and thirty laboratories;
besides the botanical garden at No. 13 Rue Cuvier, close to the Garden
of Plants. The front rooms and left wing of the school are occupied by
the Orfila Museum, named after the famous chemist.

[Illustration: THE SCHOOL OF MEDICINE.]

[Illustration: NEW WING OF SCHOOL OF MEDICINE, BETWEEN THE BOULEVARD
SAINT-GERMAIN AND RUE DE L’ÉCOLE DE MÉDECINE.]

The Faculty of Medicine has, year by year, attracted so many additional
students that at last the building, which dated from 1769, was found far
too small; and it was decided some fifteen years ago to construct new
wings, which now occupy all the space comprised between the Rue de
l’École de Médecine, the Boulevard Saint-Germain, and the Rue
Hautefeuille. The first stone of the new building was laid in 1878. To
the right of the School of Medicine, the Rue Hautefeuille attracts the
attention of the archæologist. The turrets of the middle ages and of the
Renaissance have become rare in Paris; but the street in question
possesses no less than six. The Rue Hautefeuille runs into the Place
Saint-André des Arts, formed in 1809 on the site of the church of
Saint-André des Arts, which was built in the thirteenth century on the
foundations of an ancient chapel dedicated to Saint-Andéol and sold as
national property in 1797, soon afterwards to be demolished. It was in
the church of Saint-André des Arts that François Marie Arouet was
baptised on the 22nd of November, 1694. The late M. Auguste Vitu, in his
large illustrated work on Paris, claims, in recording this event, to
have discovered the true interpretation of the anagrammatic process by
which the bearer of the name of Arouet is supposed to have changed it
into Voltaire. “Fs Voltaire” is, as M. Vitu points out, the exact
anagram of “Arouet fils.” But why trouble about the matter? Who, after
all, can tell us by what process the name of Poquelin, said to he
derived from a Scotch village named Pawkelin (whence came the
grandfather of the great comic dramatist) got converted into Molière?

[Illustration: HÔTEL DU CHEVAL BLANC.]

The Rue Saint-André des Arts leads to the meeting-point of the Rue de
l’Ancienne Comédie, the Rue Dauphine, and the Rue Mazarine. In
connection with the Rue Dauphine must be mentioned a little street that
runs out of it, the Rue Contrescarpe, where still exists the Restaurant
Magny, famous for its literary frequenters, including George Sand and
Saint-Beuve, who, with some others, founded the celebrated “Friday
dinner,” at which no one abstained from meat. No. 5 in this street, is
occupied by the Hôtel du Cheval Blanc, the celebrated inn which figures
in the “Roman Comique” of Scarron and the “Trois Mousquetaires” of
Dumas. Under the reign of Louis XIII. it seems to have been nothing more
than the stables, coachhouse, and servants’ hostelry attached to the
mansion of the Archbishop of Lyons.

The Rue Saint-André des Arts communicates with the Rue de l’École de
Médecine by a short passage known as the Cour du Commerce, which is
associated, on more than one point, with the French Revolution. In one
of the old houses (now pulled down) on the side of the Rue de l’École de
Médecine lived Danton. At the present No. 8 still existed, until two
years ago, a reading-room which was established under the Reign of
Terror by the widow of the Girondist Brissot, who, having inherited a
large library from her husband, wished to turn it to profitable account.
In the same house was the printing office of the _Ami du Peuple_, edited
by Marat. The printing office was directed by Brune, who afterwards
became a marshal of France, and died, like the atrocious journalist, by
assassination.

Another souvenir, again of a sanguinary kind, belongs to the Cour du
Commerce. One of the appendages to the stunted houses in the middle of
the passage is a shed, where the first experiments were made with the
guillotine. “_Sic vos non vobis_” might, in Virgilian phrase, be said of
the first victims. These were sheep, which were subjected to an almost
painless death in the interest, not of themselves, while condemned to
perish by the butcher’s knife, but of men and women. Some day, let us
hope, animals also will be killed with the least possible accompaniment
of suffering.



CHAPTER XIX

THE ODÉON: THE LUXEMBURG PALACE.

The Odéon--Its History--Erection of the Present Building in 1799--Marie
de Médicis and the Luxemburg Palace--The Judicial Annals of the
Luxemburg--Trials of Fieschi and Louvel--Trial of Louis Napoleon--Trial
of the Duc de Praslin.


[Illustration: RUE DE L’ANCIENNE COMÉDIE.]

[Illustration: RUE DE L’ODÉON.]

From the so-called Mountain of Sainte-Geneviève, where stands the
Panthéon, all the streets lead down to the Seine; and before following
the left bank of the river in its course through Paris, we have still
many places and points of interest to deal with in the neighbourhood of
the Panthéon and of the Luxemburg, including, indeed, the Luxemburg
itself. This side of the river, though both the Louvre and the Tuileries
stand on the right bank, is particularly rich in historical
associations; and here, until a comparatively recent period--during
which successful writers have become millionaires and men of
fashion--was to be found the literary centre of Paris. This the names of
the streets and thoroughfares proclaim. On the river bank is the Quai
Voltaire, close to the Luxemburg the Rue Corneille, and between the two
the Rue Racine and the Rue de La Harpe. In the Rue Corneille, by the
way, stands the Hôtel Corneille, beloved of students, and in a street
parallel to it, on the other side of the Odéon Theatre, the Hôtel de
l’Empereur Joseph, named after Marie Antoinette’s father, Joseph II.,
who, when he visited a foreign capital, did not accept hospitality at
the palace, but put up at some convenient hotel, that he might see the
points of interest in the city at his leisure without having them
exhibited to him. Foreign sovereigns who visit London have sometimes, in
spite of themselves, had to follow, so far as residence is concerned,
the example of the Emperor Joseph.

The Odéon, now known as the Second French Theatre, was at one time the
First. The Théâtre Français, or Comédie Française, by its more historic
title, has moved freely from one bank of the river to another. At the
accession of Henry IV. Francis’ sole company of comedians (“comedians”
being at that time a general name for actors of all kinds) established
in the Hôtel Saint-Paul what was known as the Théâtre du Marais, where
the works of Garnier, Royer, and the very earliest of French dramatists
were produced. Some years later another company of “comedians”
established a new theatre, which Corneille and Rotrou rendered
illustrious, at the Hôtel de Bourgogne. Finally, in 1658, the company
formed by Molière was allowed to give representations at the Louvre, in
the hall of the Cariatides. The success of the new company was so great
that the Duke of Orleans, brother of Louis XIV., gave them hospitality
in the Palais Royal, where were represented all Molière’s masterpieces,
and the first piece written by Racine, “La Thébaide.” As long as Molière
lived his company struggled victoriously against the Théâtre du Marais
and the comedians of the Hôtel de Bourgogne, who, nevertheless, called
themselves “the great comedians.” But in 1673 the death of the great
comic poet proved fatal to his theatre. Four of his most celebrated
actors, Baron, La Thorillière, and Monsieur and Madame Beauval, passed
over to the enemy, while, to complete the discomfiture, the remainder of
the company was expelled from the theatre in the Palais Royal, which the
king now gave to Lulli the composer. The exiles took refuge in the Rue
Mazarin, on the other side of the water, where they vegetated obscurely,
though taking with them all Molière’s plays. Finally, in 1680, by order
of Louis XIV., the two principal companies were united under the name of
Comédie Française. The combined company established itself first in the
theatre of the Palais Royal, then in the Rue Mazarin, where the Molière
company had previously been playing; then, in 1689, in the Rue des
Fossé’s Saint-Germain des Prés, which took the name, first of Rue de la
Comédie and afterwards of Rue de l’Ancienne Comédie, which it still
preserves. Here, opposite the Café Procope--throughout the eighteenth
century the first literary café in Paris--were produced the works of
Regnard and Dancourt, of Dufresny and Destouches, of Crébillon, Lesage,
Voltaire, Marivaux, Gresset, Piron, Diderot, and Sedaine. Here, too,
Beaumarchais brought out his “Barber of Seville.”

In 1772 the comedians took possession of a new theatre, built on the
site of the Hôtel de Condé, and it was in this house, now known as the
Odéon, that they represented for the first time Beaumarchais’s “Marriage
of Figaro.” The Revolution arrived, and in 1793 the Comédie Française,
like so many other suspicious institutions, was suppressed as of royal
and aristocratic origin; but only to revive a few years afterwards, in
1799, under the First Consul, who established it in the Rue Richelieu,
where it still remains. Beginning its history with the production of a
masterpiece, which in one form or other has made the tour of Europe, to
remain permanently on the European stage in the shape of an opera, the
Odéon, when the company of the Comédie Française had established itself
in the Rue Richelieu, became a theatre of all work. Here were produced
pieces which at the Comédie Française and elsewhere had been refused.
The comedies of Picard, the first dramas of Casimir, Delavigne, Ponsard,
Émile Augier, were brought out at the Odéon, which also served for the
first performances of “François le Champi” and the “Marquis de
Villemer,” of George Sand. During the Revolution the Odéon was
successively called Théâtre de l’Égalité and Théâtre de la Nation. It
owes to the First Republic, with its passion for everything Greek,
Roman, and quasi-Republican, its name of Odéon. Twice it has been burnt
down--the fate of all theatres; and once under very tragic
circumstances. An unfortunate dramatist had been for years striving to
get a piece produced. At last his work was accepted by the management of
the Odéon. He had suffered, however, so much from disappointment that he
could scarcely believe in the good fortune which seemed now to have come
to him. In vain his wife endeavoured to raise his spirits. He had fallen
into a fit of depression, and this on the very day fixed for the
representation of his piece. Something, he remarked to his wife, always
occurred at the last moment to prevent his success. “But it is assured
now,” she replied. “Nothing can stand in your way at present--unless,
indeed, between now and this evening the theatre should be burnt down.”
At that moment a cry of “fire” was heard in the street--in the Rue
Corneille where the dramatist and his wife lived. They rushed to the
window and saw that the theatre was in flames.

The Odéon faces a large open square or “place” of the same name, and its
back is just opposite the principal gate of the Luxemburg Gardens. To
the right of the entrance to the gardens stands the palace; one of the
two, both magnificent, for which Paris is indebted to two women, both
members of the same family; Catherine de Médicis, who built the
Tuileries, and Marie de Médicis, who built the Luxemburg. Catherine,
however, only began the Tuileries, whereas Marie de Médicis completed
the Luxemburg within a few years from its commencement.

[Illustration: ODÉON THEATRE.]

She in the first place acquired the mansion or “hôtel” of
Piney-Luxemburg, whose last name was to remain attached to the new
edifice. She then purchased a quantity of land, which was converted into
gardens--the Luxemburg Gardens, as they were naturally to be called. The
architect of the Queen’s palace was Jacques de Brosse, otherwise
“Salomon” de Brosse, who worked with so much diligence at the task
confided to him that, beginning the building in 1615, he had finished it
by 1620, when it was at once inhabited. To the rapidity with which it
was constructed the palace owes, no doubt, its rare homogeneity of
style, so sadly wanting in most public buildings, the construction of
which has sometimes occupied centuries. Its architectural pre-eminence
might have been disputed upwards of twenty years ago; but since the
burning of the Tuileries by the Communards the Luxemburg must beyond
question be considered the finest palace in the French capital. Jacques
de Brosse has been suspected of reproducing in the Luxemburg Palace the
characteristic features of some of the Florentine palaces, and
particularly that of the Pitti Palace, to flatter Marie de Médicis. It
is only necessary to have visited Florence to be convinced that de
Brosse did nothing of the kind. Although this architect, like others,
had doubtless studied classic and mediæval architecture, it should be
admitted that to his greatest work he has given a particularly French
stamp. Marie de Médicis left to her second son, Gaston, Duke of Orleans,
her magnificent palace with the grounds belonging to it. The famous
Mlle. Montpensier next inherited it, from whom it passed to her sister,
Elizabeth of Orleans. Then the whole property went back to the crown,
but only for a short time. At the death of Louis XIV. the Orleans family
became once more possessors of the Luxemburg. But as though this palace
was destined to remain in the hands of women, the regent made it over to
his too notorious daughter, the Duchess of Berry. At the time of the
Revolution the Luxemburg was seized by the Republican Government, and
under the Reign of Terror was turned into a state prison. Here
Beauharnais and his wife (the future Empress Josephine), Camille
Desmoulins, Danton, and thousands of others less celebrated, were
confined while waiting to be brought before the terrible tribunal. The
storm had scarcely passed when the first regular Government which had
been established since the taking of the Bastille, the Directory, took
possession of it.

The Luxemburg was now once more a palace, and seemed about to regain its
former splendour. To this period of its history belongs a memorable
event--the triumphal reception of the young conqueror of Italy. The
ceremony took place in the courtyard of the palace, and is said to have
been of a most imposing character. But the _coup d’état_ of the 18th
Brumaire was approaching, and that same Bonaparte was about to upset
the Government which had received him with such enthusiastic
acclamations. Now, in place of the Directory, the Consulate installed
itself in the palace of Marie de Médicis. Finally, in 1861, the
Luxemburg was made over to the new Napoleonic Senate; and under the
name, now of Senate, now of Chamber of Peers, it was destined to be
occupied permanently by the members of the upper house.

[Illustration: THE LUXEMBURG PALACE FROM THE TERRACE.]

[Illustration: THE LUXEMBURG PALACE: THE GARDEN FAÇADE.]

The judicial annals of the Luxemburg, in connection with the numerous
occasions on which the Chamber of Peers performed the functions of a
court of justice, are full of interest. Of the trial of Marshal Ney we
have already spoken. It was followed some years afterwards by that of
Louvel, the assassin of the Duke of Berry. Then, immediately after the
revolution of 1830, came the impeachment of Charles X.’s ministers, and,
in the middle of Louis Philippe’s reign, the trial of Prince Louis
Napoleon, after his landing at Boulogne and before his imprisonment at
Ham. Among other prosecutions under the reign of Louis Philippe of which
the Luxemburg was the scene may be mentioned those of the Duc de
Praslin, and of Fieschi and the seven or eight other regicides who
attempted the life of the fearless “citizen king.” It was certainly no
want of personal courage that made Louis Philippe disappear in a
hackney-cab, when, by facing the insurrection of 1848, he might
according to the best military authorities, so easily have crushed it.

Giuseppe Fieschi, who heard his doom pronounced at the Luxemburg, was
one of the most remarkable regicides of whom history has preserved a
record. His crime is distinguished from that of other attempts on the
lives of kings by the fact that he was actuated neither by personal
revenge nor conscientious motive. Most regicides obey some deep
political conviction or some suggestion of religious fanaticism. Viewed
in this light, they are the mere instruments of an idea. Fieschi,
however, was a unique exception to the rule. Political conviction he had
none. He was neither a Legitimist nor a Republican. He had been a spy,
and would have become once more a police-agent had the police required
his aid. To the philosophical and legal student Fieschi must indeed
remain a problem. A rapid glance thrown over his life and over the
debates which took place in the Chamber of Peers will show this man
always to have been greedy for notoriety; and in this insane longing to
draw public attention to himself may perhaps, if anywhere, be found the
motive of his crime.

[Illustration: THE SENATE CHAMBER.]

Nevertheless, he had several accomplices, who cannot be supposed to have
been actuated by a love of notoriety. In the midst of the general horror
caused by Fieschi’s murderous, and in the case of many members of the
king’s suite fatal attempt, the Legitimist journals taunted the
Republicans with the crime, who, in their turn, cast the responsibility
upon the Legitimists. Louis Philippe had been duly warned by the police
that some conspiracy was being prepared against him. He was to proceed
on the 28th of July, 1835, to a review, accompanied by a numerous staff.
Endeavours had been made, if he insisted on going to the review, to
induce him to take another route. He refused, however, to make any
change in his arrangements, and as he was passing along the lower
boulevard, close to the Jardin Turc, a battery, formed of twenty-four
musket-barrels--afterwards to be known as the “infernal
machine”--discharged upon the king and his staff a hail of bullets. The
Duc de Trévise (Marshal Mortier), General de Vérigny, and several other
officers fell mortally wounded; and inside a house from whose window the
bullets had been fired was arrested Fieschi, the chief of the assassins.
It was found impossible to connect the crime with the action of any
political party, though at the trial suspicion was indirectly cast upon
the Revolutionists, whose hopes had been so bitterly disappointed by the
proclamation of a constitutional king instead of the establishment of a
republic. That many of the attempts made upon the life of Louis Philippe
were due to this party--who could not forget that they had driven away
Charles X. only to replace him by Louis Philippe--is indisputable. But
the trial of Fieschi (the details of whose crime have been already
related) brought to light in connection with the case no political
circumstances of any kind. Against the theory generally accepted by
French historians, that Fieschi, in preparing his diabolical outrage,
was moved only by love of notoriety, must be placed the fact that he did
not possess enough money to construct the “infernal machine” without
assistance, and that he was supplied with funds by several workmen, who
cannot themselves be supposed to have been burdened by any superfluity
of cash, and who, in their turn, must have been supplied from some
quarter destined to remain unknown. It was not until a month afterwards
that, through his avowals, some of Fieschi’s accomplices were
discovered; and it was not till the February of the following year that
the trial before the Chamber of Peers was brought to an end. After
eleven appearances before the court on eleven different occasions,
Fieschi and two of the direct participators in his crime were condemned
to death.

In the course of the evidence abundant particulars were furnished as to
the life led by Fieschi since his earliest days. He had served in the
Neapolitan army under Murat, whom, after the general collapse of the
Napoleonic system, he seems to have betrayed to the Austrians. He had
been imprisoned for various offences, and when at liberty had acted, in
Italy and in France, as informer and spy. He had at last succeeded in
obtaining a very small post under the Administration as keeper of some
kind of mill; and as he was dismissed from this appointment only a few
months before his attempt on the life of the king (a warrant being at
the same time issued for his arrest), it is barely possible that in
preparing his crime he was moved by some idea of personal vengeance
acting upon a disordered brain.

Endeavours were made to obtain a commutation of the capital sentence on
behalf of Fieschi’s accomplices; to which the Duke of Orleans, Louis
Philippe’s eldest son, replied: “If I myself, or any member of the
king’s family, had been struck, it might have been possible to grant the
commutation demanded; but no relation of any of the victims has
suggested it.” Fieschi and two of his accomplices were accordingly
executed, without either of them saying the least word as to the origin
of the foul conspiracy. Nineteen persons had been killed or mortally
wounded by the explosion of the infernal machine, and twenty-three
wounded seriously.

The prosecution of Louvel, another of the political prisoners arraigned
at the Luxemburg, (to go back some years) began before his victim, the
Duke of Berry, was dead; and in the very opera-house at whose doors,
just as he was stepping into his carriage, the unfortunate man had been
stabbed. In the manager’s private apartments the unhappy prince lay
stretched on a bed, hastily arranged and already soaked with blood,
surrounded by his nearest relatives. The poignant anguish of his wife
was from time to time relieved by some faint ray of hope, destined soon
to be dispelled. In a neighbouring room the assassin was being
interrogated by the ministers Decazes and Pasquier, with the bloody
dagger on the table before them; while on the stage the ballet of “Don
Quixote” was being performed in presence of an enthusiastic public. In
the course of the night King Louis XVIII. arrived; and his nephew
expired in his arms at half-past six the next morning, begging that his
murderer might be forgiven. The same day (Feb. 14th, 1820) the Chamber
of Peers was, by special order of the king, constituted as a court of
justice to try Louvel.

Meanwhile the assassin had, according to custom, been confronted with
the body of his victim, and in the presence of the corpse was subjected
to a full interrogatory.

In the body you see before you, do you recognise, he was asked, the
wound made by your hand?

_A._ Yes.

_Q._ In the name of a prince who, until the last moment, supplicated the
king in favour of his assassin, I call upon you to name your
accomplices, and those who suggested to you the horrible project of
assassination.

_A._ There are none to name.

_Q._ Who induced you to commit this crime?

_A._ I wished to give an example to the great personages of my country.

_Q._ Was the arm you employed poisoned?

_A._ No; I neither poisoned it nor caused it to be poisoned.

The next ceremony was the opening of the body, which was performed by
MM. Dupuytren, Bourgon, and Roux. The doctors in a formal report
described the wound, and certified that the lesions caused by it had
“without doubt” produced the prince’s death. To leave nothing in a state
of uncertainty--not even what was strikingly obvious--they examined the
dagger which had been “represented as having served for the commission
of the crime,” and introduced it into the wound; after which they
certified that the latter corresponded in dimensions and form with the
former.

[Illustration: ENTRANCE COURT, LUXEMBURG PALACE.]

The post-mortem examination and the report on the condition of the body
having been finished, the clothes of the murdered prince were at the
request of his wife given to her. They consisted of a green tail-coat, a
yellow waistcoat, a pair of grey trousers, a shirt, and a flannel vest;
the coat, waistcoat and trousers composing a costume which was doubtless
fashionable at the time, but which in the present day would look
somewhat grotesque.

Louvel was kept 114 days in prison, while minute inquiries were being
made in every direction with the view of discovering his supposed
accomplices. But, like Damiens and Ravaillac, he had acted alone, and in
pursuance of a fixed idea which tormented him until he struck the fatal
blow. He was kept in solitary confinement, and during the greater part
of the time in a strait-waistcoat. During his imprisonment he spoke much
and with all the agents who were put to guard him; and he was guarded
day and night. He displayed remarkable vanity, being quite proud of
sleeping at the Luxemburg while the trial lasted, and of being able to
date his letters from the Luxemburg Palace. He was much preoccupied with
the effect that this would produce. He continued to attribute his crime
to a fixed idea which had never quitted him for six years, and which at
last destroyed him. “I know I have committed a crime,” he said; “but in
fifty years it will, perhaps, be regarded as a virtuous action.”

The trial of the prisoner was begun on the 5th of June and concluded on
the following day, Towards the end of the proceedings the president of
the court, in the name of God and of Heaven, adjured Louvel, since he
was to succumb to human justice, not to draw upon himself “the eternal
punishment to which execrable men are condemned by refusing to declare
the instigators and accomplices of the crimes they have committed.”
Louvel, rising hurriedly from his seat, exclaimed in a strong, steady
voice: “No; I am alone.”

[Illustration: GRAND AVENUE, LUXEMBURG GARDENS.]

Asked if he had anything to say why sentence should not be passed, he
spoke as follows:--

“If I have this day to blush for a national crime which I alone have
committed, I have the consolation of believing in my last moments that I
have not dishonoured the nation. I have not dishonoured my family. You
must see in me nothing but a Frenchman resolved to sacrifice himself in
order to destroy, according to his mind, the greatest enemies of his
country. You accuse me of being guilty of having attacked the life of a
prince. Yes, I am guilty of that crime; but some of the men who compose
the Government are in their present position because they also have
mistaken crimes for virtues.”

[Illustration: SCULPTURE GALLERY, LUXEMBURG PALACE.]

There was not and could not be any substantial defence to the charge of
assassination; and after a long trial, in which every conceivable
question, connected or unconnected with the case, was put to the
prisoner, and after an imprisonment of some four months, he was at last
condemned to death. He bore the announcement of the sentence with
equanimity, and on the morning of the execution seemed only anxious to
know whether the crowd assembled to witness his death would be enough to
give national importance to the incident.

       *       *       *       *       *

Twenty years later the Chamber of Peers was again to be convoked--this
time under Louis Philippe--in order to judge Prince Louis Napoleon, who
had invaded France to assert Napoleonic principles and his own personal
right to the French throne. Only a few years previously Prince Louis
Napoleon had made a like attempt at Strasburg, when, though a certain
measure of support had been secured beforehand from the officers in the
Strasburg garrison, he was arrested, and dismissed with no further
punishment than an engagement on his part never again to set foot in
France.

After the failure at Strasburg Prince Louis Napoleon went for a time to
Switzerland, whence he made his way to England, where, as princes
usually are, he was well received. A friend of Count d’Orsay, he was a
frequent visitor at Lady Blessington’s. What was more important, he
maintained friendly relations with Lord Palmerston, who, according to
some good authorities, looked from the first with favour upon Prince
Napoleon’s project of gaining supreme power in France. Louis Blanc, in
his “History of Ten Years” (from 1830 to 1840), declares that before
starting on his expedition to Boulogne, the prince received a secret
visit from Lord Palmerston; and in the Russian “Diplomatic Study on the
Crimean War” it is set forth that during Prince Louis Napoleon’s stay in
London, Lord Palmerston laid with him the basis of the understanding by
which some dozen years afterwards France and England formed a compact
against Russia. The tardy speculations of these prophets of the past
must be taken for what they are worth. Prince Louis Napoleon formed, in
any case, a plan for invading France, and, followed by the troops who at
every step were to join him, marching towards Paris, there to be
received with acclamations by an enthusiastic population, eager for the
restoration of the Napoleonic dynasty and the Napoleonic mode of
government. For Prince Napoleon appealed to democrats as well as
imperialists. He was to give with the one hand universal suffrage and
with the other military government.

[Illustration: SALLE DES FÊTES, LUXEMBURG PALACE.]

No one makes an invasion without reconnoitring beforehand the country to
be invaded; and Prince Louis Napoleon’s emissaries had already
ascertained that at Boulogne, at Calais, at Saint-Omer, and at the great
military centre of Lille, there were officers ready to cast in their lot
with his. According to Louis Blanc, Prince Louis Napoleon’s intention
was, after securing the adhesion of the Boulogne garrison, to march upon
Calais, whence he was to make his way to Saint-Omer. But the
better-informed Count Orsi, who took part in the expedition, and was one
of the prince’s most trusted friends, tells us, in a valuable little
volume devoted to the subject, that the plan of campaign was to march
from Boulogne straight to Saint-Omer. The point to be reached after
Saint-Omer was in any case Lille; and if the garrison of Lille had once
been secured, the prince’s enterprise would have been far, indeed, from
hopeless.

To return once more to Louis Blanc--that brilliant, sensational, but by
no means accurate historian. Prince Louis Napoleon was, according to
his account, encouraged in his hazardous project by Lord Palmerston; not
because that statesman believed in its success, but because he knew that
it must inconvenience and possibly injure Louis Philippe, whose policy
he detested. Louis Blanc also holds, in connection with the Boulogne
expedition, that the French embassy in London was kept well informed as
to the progress of the enterprise, but did not interfere because,
anticipating with confidence a complete failure, it looked upon this
fiasco as destined to have a strengthening effect on the existing
Government, certain at once to suppress it. However all this may have
been, Louis Napoleon’s friends engaged for him, in the month of July,
1840, a steamer named the _Edinburgh Castle_. On the 4th of August the
arms, ammunition, and baggage were taken on board at Gravesend, where
the vessel remained for some little time. Here it was that the famous
eagle, which has become the subject of a ridiculous legend, was brought
on board. An officer of the party who had gone on shore happened to meet
with a youth who was offering an eagle for sale. Struck by the
appropriateness of the bird, he determined, more in a jocular than in a
superstitious spirit, to purchase it and place the expedition under its
auspices. It was afterwards pretended that the eagle had been trained in
London to fly round the head of Prince Louis Napoleon; this gyration,
according to Louis Blanc, being caused by the bird’s knowledge that a
piece of bacon was secreted beneath the rim of his master’s hat.

Louis Blanc, in his “Histoire de Dix Ans,” gives a long account of the
Boulogne expedition, which is in the main correct. Several inaccuracies,
however, have crept into his narrative, so often one-sided; and the only
authentic account of this invasion on a small scale that has been
written by a participator in the events is the one published for the
first time some dozen years ago by Count Orsi. In asking the count to
join him in the expedition, Prince Napoleon declared that if he ever
succeeded in placing himself on the throne of France, which, sooner or
later, he was convinced he should do, one of his first cares would be to
free Italy from the domination of Austria, and unite the different
Italian states into one independent kingdom. Apart, however, from this
assurance. Count Orsi was quite prepared to throw in his lot with that
of the Prince. He it was who secured the _Edinburgh Castle_ for the
expedition, and who, before the day of starting, obtained for the prince
a loan of twenty thousand pounds. The steamer left London with about
sixty of Napoleon’s adherents on board, and anxious inquiries were made
as to its destination before it had got farther than Gravesend.

“I want to know,” said the custom-house officer who came alongside in a
boat, “what you are doing here in the middle of the river.”

“We are waiting for a party of friends, who should have arrived by this
time.”

“Where are you going?”

“To Hamburg.”

“Have you goods on board?”

“None; the steamer is chartered for a pleasure-trip.”

“How many people have you on board?”

“I have several private gentlemen, and I expect two more from London. I
have three more to take up at Ramsgate.”

Here it is that the incident of the tame eagle comes in. Colonel Parquin
had gone on shore to buy some cigars, when, on his way back from the
tobacconist’s, he saw a boy seated on a log of wood feeding an eagle
with shreds of meat. The eagle had a chain fastened to one of its claws,
with which it was secured. The colonel asked whether the bird was for
sale, and it was ultimately purchased for a pound. Conveyed on board,
the eagle was fastened to the mainmast, and from that moment was never
taken notice of until it was discovered and seized by the authorities at
Boulogne. The eagle was for many years afterwards on view at the
Boulogne slaughter-house, where there were abundant opportunities of
supplying it with raw meat. The unhappy bird was destined, however, from
first to last, to be made the subject of fables. Even Count Orsi’s
account of its adventures at Boulogne is in some particulars incorrect.
He had been informed that after the capture of Prince Napoleon and his
followers the eagle was taken to the museum, whence, he says, it fled
away next morning, owing to some carelessness on the part of the men who
had it in charge. It was, as a matter of fact, however, taken to the
_abattoir_, where the present writer remembers seeing it some half-dozen
years after Prince Napoleon’s landing.

After vainly waiting at Gravesend for some hours after the time at which
the prince was due, Count Orsi took a post-chaise and hastened to
Ramsgate, where General Montholon, Colonel Voisin, and Colonel Laborde
had been sent on by the prince in anticipation of his arrival. Colonel
Voisin was the only one of the three who understood the real purport of
the expedition. The count reached Ramsgate late on the night of the 4th
of August, and put up at the hotel where the prince’s friends were
staying. With Colonel Voisin, after General Montholon and Colonel
Laborde had gone to bed, Orsi had a secret conference. Voisin was in the
greatest state of concern at the delay in the prince’s arrival, because
the whole success of the expedition depended on his reaching Boulogne
early next morning. “Colonel Voisin,” we are assured, “was in utter
despair at the non-appearance of the steamer, and almost out of his
mind.” He declared to Orsi that the expedition would be a disastrous
failure unless the _Edinburgh Castle_ were at Boulogne by four o’clock
the next morning. The only man, he said, whom the prince had to dread
was Lieutenant-Colonel Puygellier, commanding the battalion at
Boulogne--a man unflinching in the discharge of his duty and a staunch
Republican, whom nothing could tempt to join an Imperial pretender. Orsi
replied to the distracted Voisin that the hour of the ship’s arrival at
Boulogne could not make much difference, since the hostility of
Puygellier must at one time or another be faced. “You are mistaken,”
said the colonel. “Puygellier will not be at Boulogne all day to-morrow.
The prince has purposely fixed the 5th for presenting himself before the
battalion, because he knows that Puygellier has been invited to a
shooting-party at some distance from Boulogne, and in all probability
not be back until late at night. If we miss being there to-morrow we are
doomed to perish.”

[Illustration: THE CENTRAL FOUNTAIN, LUXEMBURG GARDENS.]

It was one o’clock in the morning. Colonel Voisin, in a state of
feverish agitation, threw the window open to get a breath of the
sea-breeze, and walked up and down the room. The night was bright and
calm. Leaning against the window-sill, Orsi perceived to the left, at
some distance, a black column of smoke slowly elongating itself along
the surface of the water, and fancied he heard the regular beat of
paddle-wheels. For some little time he did not mention the circumstance
to the colonel, lest he should be disappointed and the steamer should
prove to be merely one of the many boats trading with Calais, Hamburg,
and various Continental seaports. Ere long, however, the steamer reached
the shore, and presently there was a hurried ring at the bell of the
hotel. Thélin, one of the prince’s party, announced that Napoleon had
arrived. Orsi was ordered to go on board at once with Voisin, Montholon,
and Laborde. Thélin, hurrying to the room of the two last-named, made
them get out of bed, dress, and follow him downstairs. As they were
going out General Montholon drew Orsi aside and whispered: “I now
understand; the prince has planned a _coup-de-tête_.” In a few minutes
the party were on board the _Edinburgh Castle_. Not a soul was on deck.
The prince had assembled his followers in the cabin, and was on the
point of addressing them when Orsi and his friends joined the company.
The address of the prince roused everyone to the highest pitch of
enthusiasm--though the expression of this enthusiasm was restrained by
Napoleon himself, who feared that the attention of the captain and crew
might be attracted by the noise.

On the conclusion of the address the cabin was, at the prince’s request,
cleared of everyone but General Montholon, the colonels Voisin,
Montauban, Laborde, Count Persigny, Forestier, Ornano, Viscount de
Querelles, Galvani, D’Hunin, Faure, and Orsi himself, who were summoned
by their leader to deliberate in council as to the programme now to be
followed.

[Illustration: FAÇADE OF THE ANCIENT CHAPEL OF THE DAUGHTERS OF CALVARY,
LUXEMBURG.]

The four hundred men of the 42nd line regiment, forming the garrison of
Boulogne, were ready to proclaim the prince, and all preparations had
been made in the town for a popular rising to succeed the military
demonstration. But, inasmuch as it was now too late to reach Boulogne
on the appointed day, the expedition was one of grave hazard and
difficulty. There was no use in landing at or near Boulogne until the
6th, as nothing could be attempted in broad daylight.

The prince requested each member of his improvised council to give his
opinion as to what course should be pursued in the emergency. Out of
twelve three of his advisers begged him to go back to London. The rest
were for landing at Boulogne, and making a dash towards the barracks in
order to secure the adhesion of the garrison at all hazards.

[Illustration: LISTENING TO THE BAND IN THE LUXEMBURG GARDENS.]

The prince asked Count Orsi what would occur if they went back to
London. “It is difficult to say,” was the reply; “though if the British
Government took a bad view of the matter we should most likely be
arrested and tried for misdemeanour.” What, moreover, was to be done
with the arms, the uniforms, the printed proclamations and other
revolutionary documents, which the Custom-house officers would find when
the steamer got back to London Bridge? “We steer between two great
dangers,” said Orsi to the prince. “By returning to London we become the
laughing-stock of everybody; and ridicule kills. If we cross the Channel
we run the risk of being shot or imprisoned for a longer or shorter
period. Of the two I prefer the latter. As regards yourself, nothing
would be more disastrous to your future prospects than being shown up to
the public as a man who, at the eleventh hour, had been acted upon by
considerations of a purely personal character. Let us save, at least,
our honour, if we are doomed to lose everything else.”

Napoleon, who had been showing his approval of these words by constantly
nodding at the count as he spoke, now rose and said: “Gentlemen, a show
of hands from those who wish to be left behind and to return to London.”
There was a dead silence, and then the prince, eyeing each of his
auditors in succession as though he would read their inmost souls,
exclaimed: “Gentlemen, a show of hands from those who are ready to
follow me and share my fate.”

These words produced an indescribable outburst of enthusiasm, mingled
with expressions of the most touching devotion. All sprang from their
seats. For a few moments the prince was too much overpowered with
emotion to vent his gratitude in words. Then he said: “Friends, I thank
you for the alacrity and high spirit with which you have responded to my
call. I never doubted your willingness to aid me in my projects, but the
devotion you have just displayed has lent a new vigour to my mind and
has bound my heart to you with a sense of deep, of eternal gratitude.
Let us bear together the consequences of this enterprise, whatever they
may be, with the calmness befitting men who act on conviction. Our cause
is that of the country at large. Sooner or later success will be ours. I
feel it. I have faith in my destiny. I look forward to the future as
confidently as I expect the sun to rise this morning to dispel the
darkness. We shall have obstacles to grapple with and obloquy to face;
but the hour will come, and we shall not have long to wait for it.”

It was now nearly three o’clock on the morning of the 5th. The moment
had arrived for a prompt decision as to the wisest method of proceeding.
It was arranged that Forestier, the cousin of Count Persigny, should go
at once to Boulogne, for the purpose of informing Lieutenant Aladenize
of what had happened, and to prepare everything, as far as possible, for
the following day. A boat, manned by two men, was with difficulty hired:
Forestier stepped into it, and, crossing the Channel, reached Boulogne
at eleven that same morning.

The next question was whether the prince’s party should remain at
Ramsgate till night or tack about at sea until the hour arrived for the
descent on Boulogne. The latter course was decided on, as the French
police had already been dogging the prince’s steps very closely in
London, and there was every chance of the vessel anchored off Ramsgate
being inconveniently watched.

At 5.0 a.m. Count Orsi ordered the captain to put to sea, and the
_Edinburgh Castle_ was thenceforward kept well away from the land and
from observation. Throughout the 5th of August she was steered hither
and thither, simply to pass the time unperceived. Towards three o’clock
on the morning of the 6th arms and uniforms were distributed to the
prince’s adherents. Then the lights were extinguished. No light, even at
the mast, was allowed, and absolute silence was maintained. It was three
o’clock when the vessel stood off Wimereux, a little village near
Boulogne. The landing began at once, but as there was only one boat on
board the process was slow. The first boatful consisted of Viscount de
Querelles and eight men. As they approached the shore a couple of
coast-guardsmen shouted to them, “Qui vive?” Querelles replied: “A
detachment of the 42nd from Dunkirk to join the battalion at Boulogne.
Through an accident to the engine the steamer cannot get further.” As
the invaders were clothed and armed exactly like the French garrison,
the coast-guardsmen at once believed them. Next time the boat brought
Colonel Voisin and nine men on shore. Then the Prince, General
Montholon, Count Persigny, and a few others landed. At five o’clock the
whole party were within fifty yards of the barracks. At the sight of
this armed force the sentinel shouted, “Who goes there?” and “To arms!”
One of the prince’s men, who had been in the army, was sent ahead with
the watchword--which he well knew. On his pronouncing it, the gate of
the barracks was thrown open, and the prince, followed by his
supporters, entered the yard.

The soldiers composing the garrison were just getting out of bed. Those
few who were already downstairs soon learnt who the visitors were, and
rushed up to tell their comrades that the prince, whose name was so
familiar to them, waited at their threshold. The soldiers were seized
with enthusiasm. Some of them, looking out of the windows, cried “Vive
le Prince!” Others hurried downstairs in their shirt-sleeves. Within
half an hour every soldier was under arms and formed in battalion. The
prince’s men stood facing it. Between the companies Napoleon and his
friends took up their position.

The address which the prince now delivered to the garrison had an
electrical effect, and the men were wild with enthusiasm; but just as
the whole battalion, under the Pretender’s orders, were about to quit
the barracks in order to excite the inhabitants to rally round the
Imperial standard, a first check was experienced. A garrison officer,
not in the secret of the conspiracy, had rushed to Lieutenant-Colonel
Puygellier’s house to inform him of what was happening at the barracks.
Instantly the officer put on his uniform, and, rushing to the spot,
forced his way past one of the prince’s sentinels, and dashing through
the crowd at the barrack-gates, got within sight of his battalion, and
waved his sword to them. Seeing the danger their chief was in--one of
the Imperial party had injudiciously pointed a revolver at his head--the
soldiers who, a few minutes before, had shouted “Vive le Prince!” now
cried, “Vive notre Colonel!”

The tide of feeling, however, quickly turned again in favour of the
prince, and Colonel Puygellier, now absolutely powerless, would have
been shot had not one of his officers rushed forward and shielded him
with his own body.

Quitting the barrack-yard, the prince, at the head of his friends and
adherents, now endeavoured to enter the old town. They found the gate
closed, nor did their united efforts suffice to unhinge it.

The enterprise had failed. The chiefs of the popular movement, who were
to second the military rising, having inferred from the non-arrival of
the prince on the morning of the 5th that something had occurred, either
in London or at sea, to put the French authorities on the scent, had
decamped from the town. Forestier, who reached Boulogne towards noon on
the 5th, with the news that the prince would land next morning, had
arrived too late.

Nothing now remained but to endeavour to save the prince. He himself
wished to die--to be shot or cut down by his enemies; but the friends
who were with him fairly dragged him down to the sea-shore in the hope
of getting him safely on board the _Edinburgh Castle_. This vessel lay
some distance out at sea, and the signals made to her to approach the
land were unanswered, as though she had already been seized by the
authorities.

On the sand, however, a small boat was found. “The prince,” says Orsi,
“was still offering the greatest resistance. Time was precious. The
ridges of the cliffs were already covered with gendarmes, followed by
the National Guard. The soldiers of the 42nd regiment had been shut up
in barracks. The work of pursuing us was left to the National Guard and
to the gendarmes. The former behaved like savages. Firing soon began
from the height of the hill, and gradually increased. We could hear the
whistling of the bullets, but not one of us had yet been hit.”

The prince at last got into the boat with Colonel Voisin, Count
Persigny, and Galvani, whilst Orsi and another rushed into the waves to
push the little craft into deep water. Then the National Guard opened a
brisker fire. Galvani and Voisin were wounded, the former in the right
hip, while the latter had the elbow of his left arm entirely shattered.
The boat had now in the confusion got capsized, and the prince and his
friends disappeared under her. As she lay keel upwards there was a
terrible discharge of musketry, which cut open the bottom of the boat
and fractured the keel into matchwood. Had not the prince and his
friends been at that instant immersed, they must have perished.

For some time the prince and Count Persigny remained under water, and
Count Orsi began to apprehend that they might be drowning, when both
appeared at a good distance from the shore swimming towards the
_Edinburgh Castle_. The National Guard now pointed all their muskets at
the prince, but by some miraculous accident failed to hit him. At last,
just as he was reaching the steamer--which was already in the hands of
the Boulogne authorities--a boat, with several officials on board coming
out of the harbour, cut off his retreat, and both he and his
fellow-swimmer Persigny found themselves prisoners. They were taken to
the Vieux-Château, where all the Imperialists were confined who could
anywhere be discovered.

The few days which followed the seizure of the _Edinburgh Castle_ and
the arrest of the prince’s party were employed by the Boulogne judicial
authorities in examining the English captain--by name Crow--and his crew
as to what they had seen, known, or imagined to be the object of the
expedition, and as to the particular part played by each person on
board.

One morning the prisoners were all, with the exception of the prince,
brought together in a room, where Captain Crow and his first mate were
requested to look at every one of them, and see if they could
distinguish the man who had given orders for the steamer to anchor off
Wimereux. Both pointed to Count Orsi.

As soon as the preliminary judicial formalities had been gone through at
Boulogne the prince was conveyed to Paris, to be arraigned with his
associates before the Court of Peers on a charge of having engaged in an
expedition whose object was to overthrow the existing Government. At
length, two months later, the day of the trial arrived.

The prince was defended by the eloquent advocate M. Berryer, assisted
by M. Marie. On being called upon himself to speak he claimed the whole
responsibility of the enterprise, and concluded with these magnanimous
words:--

“I repeat that I had no accomplices. Alone I formed my plan. Not a soul
knew beforehand what were my projects, my resources, or my hopes. If I
am guilty towards anyone it is towards my friends alone. Yet let them
not accuse me of lightly abusing such courage and devotion as theirs.
They will understand the motives of honour and of prudence which forbade
my revealing to them how wide and powerful were the reasons on which my
hope of success was founded.

[Illustration: THE MARIE DE MÉDICIS GROTTO AND FOUNTAIN.]

“One last word, gentlemen. I represent before you a principle, a cause,
and a defeat. The principle is the sovereignty of the people; the cause
is the empire; the defeat is Waterloo. The principle you have
recognised; the cause you have served; the defeat you wish to avenge.
Yes, you and myself are of one mind, and my sole aspiration now is to
bear the full penalty of the defection of others.

“Representative as I am of a political cause, I cannot accept as judge
of my desires and my actions a political tribunal. Your forms impose on
no one. You are the victorious party. I have no justice to expect from
you, and I wish nothing from your generosity.”

The sentence on Prince Louis Napoleon was imprisonment for life, that on
Count Orsi imprisonment for five years; while the other conspirators
were condemned to punishments which varied according to the nature of
the part they had played in the disastrous expedition.

[Illustration: BACK OF THE MARIE DE MÉDICIS FOUNTAIN.]

The case of the Duc de Praslin--tried, like that of Louis Napoleon, at
the Luxemburg--was very painful and very dramatic. The duke was a
member of the Choiseul family, whose name he bore in addition to his
own. Under Louis Philippe he was attached to the household of the
Duchess of Orleans, and in 1845, having previously been a deputy, was
raised to the peerage. In 1824 he had married the daughter of Marshal
Sebastiani, and that marriage, for seventeen years, seemed a happy one.
Many children were born of the union; and it was not until 1841 that any
sign of disagreement manifested itself between the husband and the wife.
The jealousy of the latter was then roused; not, it was afterwards said,
for the first time. A young lady named Henriette Deluzy-Desportes had
just been engaged as governess. She was lively, graceful, and
moderately pretty, and soon gained such an ascendency over her pupils as
well as over the duke as to cause the duchess the greatest uneasiness.
To make matters worse, the duchess was advised by her husband not to
trouble herself any more about the education of her children, which was
now, he said, in excellent hands. At last, after suffering the deepest
vexation (of which she gave a touching account in her private diary,
found after her death), she resolved to apply for a separation. Then, to
avoid all scandal, the old marshal made representations to his
son-in-law, while two other persons addressed remonstrances to Mlle.
Deluzy. An arrangement was entered into by which the duchess agreed to
abandon the lawsuit while Mlle. Deluzy was to leave the house. The
marshal agreed to pay her an annuity of 1,500 francs, which was
guaranteed by the duchess. The arrangement was made in the month of
June, 1847; and on the 18th of July following Mlle. Deluzy left the
Hôtel Sebastiani in the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, where the Praslin
family had taken up their residence. The duchess had gained the victory.
But she was by no means satisfied with the position of things, and felt
that she was still menaced by an approaching danger. Her husband, it
appeared, had uttered some dark threats. “He will never forgive me,” she
wrote in her diary. “The future terrifies me. I cannot think of it
without trembling.” The day the governess left the Paris house the whole
Praslin family started for the duke’s country place at Vaux-Praslin.
They were not to return to Paris until the 17th of August. Meanwhile the
duke made three journeys to Paris, remaining there each time for two or
three days; and he never failed to pay a visit to Mlle. Deluzy, who had
gone to live with a schoolmistress in the Rue Harlay. The valet who
accompanied the duke on all these journeys remarked on one occasion that
the governess saw the duke back to the railway station, and on wishing
him good-bye burst into tears.

[Illustration: THE FREMIEL-CARPEAUX FOUNTAIN, LUXEMBURG GARDENS.]

On the 17th of August the Praslin family returned to Paris, intending to
go on to Dieppe for the sea-bathing. The duke at once drove to the
school where Mlle. Deluzy was staying. She wished, it seemed, to be
engaged in this school as teacher; but before signing the engagement the
schoolmistress thought it necessary to have from the Duchess de Praslin
a letter recommending Mlle. Deluzy, and at the same time denying the
truth of certain reports which had got abroad respecting her conduct
while governess in the ducal family.

The duke promised to get the required letter from his wife, and it was
arranged that Mlle. Deluzy should call on the afternoon of the following
day at the Hôtel Sebastiani, in order, in the first place, to express
her regret to the duchess, and afterwards to ask for the letter, which,
according to the duke, Mme. de Praslin would be sure, under the
circumstances, to give. It was already late in the evening, and when, at
eleven o’clock, the duke got home, the duchess was in bed. After wishing
his daughter good-night the duke went to his room, which, like his
wife’s, was on the ground floor, the two communicating with one another
by a corridor. The house was dark, except in the duchess’s room, where
she was accustomed to keep a lamp burning all night.

At half-past four in the morning shrieks were heard; and at the same
time the duchess’s bell rang violently. The duke’s valet and the
duchess’s maid were awakened by the noise. They got up, dressed
hurriedly, and were soon outside their mistress’s room, which, contrary
to custom, they found bolted. Shrieks, groans, and other sounds, as of
blows, were still heard. Then someone seemed to be rushing across the
bedroom, interrupted here and there, as if by an obstacle. The two
servants tried to get through another door communicating with the
drawing-room, but this also was fastened.

They cried out “Madam!” “Madam!” but received no answer. Nothing was to
be heard but gasps and groans. They hurried into the garden; but the
windows, both of the duchess’s bedroom and of her boudoir, were closed,
as they generally were. At one point, however, they found open the door
of a staircase leading to the antechamber which separated the duke’s
apartment from that of the duchess. The servants entered. It was quite
dark; but on lighting a lamp they found the duchess lying on the ground,
her head resting on a settee, with nothing on but a chemise, and bathed
in blood. In a few moments the alarm was given throughout the house. The
duke came out of his room. He wore a grey dressing-gown. There was a
wild expression in his eyes, and, striking his hands against the wall
and against his own head, he kept repeating, “What is it?” “What is it?”
Then, casting his eyes upon his wife, he uttered cries of despair. The
duchess was still living; but soon breathed her last without being able
to utter one word. In a short time two commissaries of police arrived,
who proceeded to a preliminary examination. The body was examined by
three doctors, when five wounds were discovered at the back of the head
and neck, and eight on the forehead and breast. The jugular vein and the
carotid artery had both been cut, and blood was still flowing from these
wounds. There were wounds, too, on both hands, evidently caused by the
edge of a sharp instrument at which the unhappy victim had clutched. The
face was marked with scratches round the mouth, indicating a struggle in
which the duke had attempted to stifle his wife’s cries. This struggle
had evidently been of the most violent kind. All the furniture had been
upset. Both the bed and the carpet were covered with blood; and the door
leading to the drawing-room was, all round the lock and the bolts,
marked by bloodstained fingers.

Who were the assassins? Traces of blood were found in the corridor
leading from the apartment of the duchess to that of the duke. A loaded
pistol, too, was picked up in the duchess’s room, with spots of blood on
the barrel, and with hairs, evidently those of the victim, sticking to
it. The duke, when questioned on the subject, said that he had himself
brought the pistol into the bedroom on hearing the duchess’s first
cries, and that the traces of blood might have been produced by him
after he had raised the body of his wife and was going back to his own
room.

Towards eight o’clock the prefect of police, the procureur-general, the
procureur of the king, and the examining judge of the district appeared.
General Sebastiani, brother of the marshal and uncle of the murdered
woman, also arrived, and turned faint at the sight before him. The
duke’s valet hurried to his master’s bedroom for a glass of water, and
found the place in strange disorder. The mantelpiece was covered with
fragments of papers just burned, and on a table in the middle of the
room was a bottle containing water. The valet was about to pour out a
glass when the duke stopped him, and going to the window, poured the
contents of the bottle into the garden, saying that the water was dirty.
All the servants were called in, when the valet observed that it would
be well to make a search in the duke’s own room. In the pockets of his
dressing-gown were found various objects stained with blood, the remains
of papers, burnt, and of a handkerchief, partly consumed. The
dressing-gown had in various places been recently washed. It was only
now that the law officers seemed to suspect the duke. After
interrogating M. de Praslin, whose explanations were clumsy and
incomplete, they again visited his room, where they found a knife with
blood-stains on the handle, a dagger, a yataghan, and a hunting-knife.
His hands were examined, and several scratches found upon them. On his
right arm was a recent bruise, such as might be produced by the violent
impress of a finger; on his right hand a wound, which apparently had
been produced by a bite; on the first finger of this hand another wound
of the same kind; on the left hand several scratches, apparently made by
human nails; on the left leg a deep contusion. At the same time no sign
of robbery or of housebreaking could anywhere be seen.

[Illustration: THE LUXEMBURG MUSEUM.]

Doubt was no longer possible. The Duc de Praslin was the assassin of his
wife. As regards the moral evidence, it appeared that for a long time
past there had been a grave misunderstanding between the duke and the
duchess, and that there had been intimate relations between the duke and
Mlle. Deluzy. The governess was arrested and interrogated, when she
denied absolutely that there had been any relations of an improper
character between herself and the duke. Her answers, however, threw
light on the terrible drama that had been enacted in the Praslin family.
M. de Praslin, she said, had entrusted her exclusively with the
education of his children, and this confidence on his part wounded the
duchess both as a wife and as a mother. She threatened to apply to the
court for a separation, and, according to Mlle. Deluzy, the perpetual
menaces of the wife exasperated the husband to such a point that he at
length lost all self-control. In spite of her explanations, Mlle. Deluzy
was placed in solitary confinement under the accusation of being the
duke’s accomplice. It was proved that she had kept up a correspondence
with him since leaving the house, and that he had been to see her on the
evening before the night on which the crime was committed.

As regarded the duke, the law officers held that his privilege as a peer
exempted him from arrest, though he had been taken as nearly as possible
_in flagrante delicto_. It was thought sufficient to have him watched in
his own house, under the surveillance of police agents; and as King
Louis Philippe was at Eu, a special messenger was sent to him, begging
him to convoke the Chamber of Peers as a high court of justice.

[Illustration: THE HÔTEL DE SENS.]

But already a change had taken place in the condition of the Duc de
Praslin, who was suddenly attacked with fits of vomiting, followed by an
ardent thirst and complete prostration. The doctors thought at first
that he was suffering from cholera, but they afterwards believed that he
had taken poison. Meanwhile the order convoking the Court of Peers
reached Paris on the 20th of August. The President, Duke Pasquier, at
once issued a warrant against M. de Praslin; but it was not thought
advisable to execute it forthwith. The Duc de Praslin’s house was now
surrounded by angry crowds; and of so deadly a character was the rage
manifested against him that it was not until three days afterwards, at
five in the morning, that the authorities considered it safe to remove
him to the prison attached to the Luxemburg Palace.

Just as he was leaving his house the police found upon him a little
flask containing a mixture of laudanum and arsenical acid, of which he
had drunk half. Notwithstanding his enfeebled condition, President
Pasquier, assisted by a commission of six members of the Court of Peers,
subjected him to an interrogatory. Neither a positive confession nor a
formal denial could be obtained from him. His physical condition,
meanwhile, became worse and worse. On the second day he was delirious,
and on the third he expired. The analysis made by Orfila and Ambroise
Tardieu showed the presence in the stomach of a great quantity of
arsenic.

[Illustration: THE MINERALOGICAL MUSEUM.]

A few days afterwards the Court of Peers met in secret conclave, when it
received from the chancellor and president a report of the examination
through which the accused had passed. The whole tendency of the report
was to establish the guilt of the accused. “This presumption,” concluded
Duke Pasquier, “was, unhappily, only too well founded. The prisoner has
pronounced judgment and condemnation on himself. He succumbed seven days
and a half after the moment when, with atrocious barbarity, he immolated
the most innocent, the most pure, the most interesting of victims. This
interval, however, was sufficient to enable the ordinary judges,
pursuing their inquiry on the part of the Chamber of Peers, to bring
completely to light the guilt of the accused, and the horrible
circumstances which, from day to day, have made it still more clear.”

The death of the criminal brought the labours of the court to an end.
“But yet,” said the president, as he concluded his communication of the
report, “it was to be desired that the reparation should have been as
complete as was the crime itself. In such an affair as this the
principle of equality before the law should have been proclaimed more
forcibly than ever.”

The body of the Duc de Praslin was buried secretly at night on the 26th
of August, in the southern cemetery, his grave not being marked even by
a cross.

Mlle. Deluzy was taken before a police magistrate, when, on a proof of
alibi, the case was dismissed, and she was set at liberty.

This terrible affair had beyond doubt a political effect, from the
conviction with which it inspired the French people generally that there
existed in France one law for the poor and another for the rich. The
Court of Peers did its duty, and, in its desire to show how fully it
recognised the principle of equality before the law, it communicated
every document connected with the trial to the public press. But the
duke, in spite of the crushing evidence against him, had been allowed to
remain in his own house, when an ordinary criminal would have been at
once taken to prison. No ordinary criminal, again, would have been in a
position to obtain poison. The circumstances, moreover, under which the
duke had been buried were suspicious; and many believed that he did not
die at all of the poison--so slow in its action--but that he was enabled
to cross the Channel and reach England, where, at the moment of his
death being publicly announced in the Chamber of Peers, he was quietly
living.

So much for the remarkable trials of which the Luxemburg has been the
scene.

When, in 1848, the Republic was for the second time established in
France, the Chamber of Peers was abolished; and in the spring of the
great revolutionary year the members of the commission for the
organisation of labour, wearing their blouses, seated themselves on the
softly-cushioned benches of what had been formerly known as _la chambre
haute_. It was on the recommendation of this commission that “national
workshops” were opened, in order to satisfy the claims of the
unemployed, who loudly asserted their “right to labour”; and it was on
the closing of the national workshops, whose cost the Government was at
last unable to meet, that the formidable insurrection of June, 1848,
broke out. With the re-establishment of the Senate, under the Second
Empire, the Luxemburg Palace became once more its place of meeting.

Let us now take a glance at the gardens in which the palace stands. With
the parks and gardens of London they will scarcely bear comparison;
though a French descriptive writer declares that they combine, with the
ordinary attractions of the garden, the beauty of the park and even, in
certain solitary corners, the wildness of the forest.

The Luxemburg Gardens are, in any case, adorned by two beautiful
fountains. They are enlivened, too, every afternoon by the music of a
military band; and they enclose at one end a most interesting museum,
the Musée de Minéralogie, forming part of the National School of Mines.

The admirable picture gallery in the Luxemburg Palace is occupied by the
works of living masters alone. It is not until an artist is dead that
his paintings are held worthy of being transported to that national
Walhalla of pictorial heroes, the Louvre.



CHAPTER XX.

THE PRISONS OF PARIS.

La Santé--La Roquette--The Conciergerie--The
Mazas--Sainte-Pélagie--Saint-Lazare--Prison Regulations.


The Luxemburg, though only from time to time (and usually at intervals
of several years) transformed into a High Court of Justice, has a prison
permanently attached to it. The apartments reserved for prisoners of
state have, however, nothing in common with the ordinary prisons of
Paris. These abound on both sides of the Seine. Not far from the end of
the Luxemburg Gardens, and close to the Boulevard Saint-Jacques, is the
prison of La Santé--built in 1865 at a cost of six millions of francs,
for the reception of twelve thousand prisoners: about a ninth part of
the total population of the Paris prisons. But before leaving the
Boulevard Saint-Jacques and the Place Saint-Jacques, to which the Rue du
Faubourg Saint-Jacques directly leads, a word must be said about the
open space formerly closed by the ancient Barrière Saint-Jacques. During
twenty years, from 1832 to 1851, the Place Saint-Jacques was the scene
of public executions. Here, while the scaffold was being erected, the
innumerable taverns of the barrier were crowded with revellers, who,
after supping all night, remained at the windows of the rooms they had
hired at great cost, in order early the next morning to see the
guillotine at work. Similar scenes took place in our own capital when
murderers were publicly hanged outside Newgate; scenes which have been
described in admirable prose and in perfect verse by Thackeray and by
Ingoldsby.

The prisons of Paris have played an important part in history, though
the most historical of them no longer exist. With the exception of
Saint-Lazare and the Conciergerie, which still preserve some vestiges of
the past, the prisons that figure so largely in the annals of France
have vanished.

Paris has been described by a well-known French writer as a “city of
destruction.” Edifices fraught with the memories of ages fall, he
complains, under the hand of the municipal destroyer like castles built
of cards. If there is a house which dates back even to the seventeenth
century it has to be looked for at the end of some court or alley, which
has escaped the pickaxe and hammer by sheer insignificance. Even as
regards churches, there are few which are more than three or four
generations old. When we have counted Notre Dame, the two churches of
Saint-Germain, the Sainte-Chapelle, and one or two temples of lesser
importance, we have to leap to Saint-Eustache and Saint-Sulpice, and
thence take a big bound to the Madeleine. This eternal demolition by
architects who wish to outdo their predecessors is a matter of keen
lament to archæologists and to writers like M. Jules Simon, who declares
that the only pickaxe he can forgive is the one that overthrew the
Bastille, and that he forgives it because it, at the same time,
“overthrew everything else.”

Of all the historical prisons of Paris one only can be said to exist
to-day--the Conciergerie. It preserves an air of the past by virtue of a
few antiquities which still belong to it: such as the two big towers on
the quay, the large walls inside, the large table in the courtyard, at
which Saint Louis is reported to have fed the poor, the room in which
Damiens was confined, and the dungeon of Marie Antoinette.

In 1830 Paris could boast--or perhaps one should say blush for--twenty
civil prisons. Not a few of these consisted of old convents or other
buildings converted into state gaols; and it may well be imagined that
such places were neither salubrious nor secure. The prisoners were not
even divided into categories. In the present day eight or nine prisons
suffice for a much larger number of convicts, and admit of a regular
classification.

First, there is a lock-up, or _maison de dépôt_, at the prefecture of
police. Then there are three “preventive” prisons--Mazas and La Santé
for men and the Conciergerie for both sexes. One portion of Saint-Lazare
is also set apart for the accommodation of the fair sex. Sainte-Pélagie
and Saint-Lazare--the first for men and the second for women--are houses
of correction for prisoners sentenced to one year or less. It is at
Sainte-Pélagie that political prisoners are for the most part confined.
In La Roquette are lodged prisoners under sentence of death and
offenders condemned to more than one year. Clichy, once the debtors’
prison, has already in these pages been amply described.

Nor should we omit to mention the military prison of the Rue du
Cherche-Midi; the prison of the National Guard; the dépôt of Saint-Denis
where mendicants are locked up; and La Petite Roquette, where, until
1865, were imprisoned, and subjected to the rigorous régime of cell
confinement, children and youths guilty for the most part, as M. Jules
Simon well expresses it, of having had unnatural parents.

[Illustration: PRISON OF LA SANTÉ.]

[Illustration: INSIDE THE WALLS, LA SANTÉ.]

In taking a leisurely survey of the principal Paris prisons, we may
begin with La Roquette as the most formidable in character. Situated in
the street and place of the same name, it was built towards 1837, and on
such a perfect plan that there has hitherto been no example of any
prisoner’s escape or even attempted escape from it. This gaol,
therefore, is to criminals one of the most redoubtable. The gloomy
impressions, however, which it may well produce on a stranger are
somewhat relieved by the fact that the courtyard by which it is
approached is adorned with a fountain, and that the prison boasts a well
composed library of some two thousand volumes; nor, since crime is so
often the outcome of ignorance, could a wiser means of recreation for
the convicts be devised. The librarian is usually a convict who has
received a certain education, and who has earned this post of confidence
by repentance and good behaviour. It has been found, indeed, that the
inmates prefer reading to any other diversion, and statistics of the
books lent out show that each prisoner gets through nearly one volume a
week. The library is divided into various sections; and the books most
eagerly read are said to be works of science.

[Illustration: THE COMMON QUARTER, LA SANTÉ--“THE PARLOUR.”]

The régime imposed at La Roquette is uniform, and applies without
distinction to all classes of offenders. Everyone within the walls rises
at 5.0 a.m., does ten hours’ work relieved by intervals for food and
recreation, and goes to bed at half-past seven, passing the night in a
strongly bolted cell, of which the sole furniture is an iron bedstead.
An exception, however, as regards sleeping, is made in the case of
prisoners liable to epileptic fits, or who have attempted to commit
suicide. These sleep in special dormitories under the careful inspection
of warders. One room, moreover, is set apart for fever patients. Another
is reserved for those prisoners who have softened the rigour of their
confinement by particularly good behaviour or--what some will think less
admirable--by informing against their accomplices. It frequently happens
that the accomplices so betrayed find their way to the same gaol, and if
the informers were not isolated deeds of vengeance might sometimes be
committed. The administration of La Roquette consists of a governor, a
chaplain, a physician, two clerks (senior and junior), a brigadier, an
under-brigadier, fourteen warders, a dispenser, a laundress, and a
sutler. Nearly two dozen prisoners, moreover, are employed about the
establishment as auxiliaries.

At certain periods gangs of convicts are transferred from La Roquette to
provincial state prisons or houses of correction. Before their
departure, however, they are most rigorously searched lest they should
have upon them any sort of instrument which might assist them to escape
from their future residence. One tool in particular, the invention of
inveterate criminals, is always an object of apprehension with the
authorities on such occasions. This consists of a kind of diminutive
fret-saw, which by a miracle of patience can be made out of scraps of
metal, and with which thick iron bars can sometimes be cut through. It
was a saw of this family that Ainsworth’s prison-hero employed to sever
the bar of his Newgate cell.

Since 1851 the Paris executioner has been accustomed to perform his grim
functions in front of La Roquette. A number of massive stones which,
forming a square, are let into the pavement outside, serve as basis for
the temporary erection of the guillotine whenever a head is to fall. The
surface of these stones is level with that of the pavement, and many a
pedestrian walks over them without dreaming of their sinister utility.
The guillotine is usually put up during the night; but despite the early
hour at which, thanks to this precaution, executions take place, the
spectacle of decapitation always draws a crowd of curious persons,
consisting, it is sad to say, largely of women and youths, who will
brave all the rigours of a winter’s night in order to witness from the
front rank the death of some wretch, notorious or obscure. It was on the
Place de la Roquette that Verger (assassin of the Archbishop of Paris),
Orsini (the would-be destroyer of Napoleon III.), La Pommerais (the
poisoning doctor), and many other criminal celebrities, were executed.
“Perhaps,” says a fanciful French writer, “during the fatal night which
preceded their last hour they heard the nailing-down of the guillotine
planks; for La Roquette is the gaol where those under death-sentence are
lodged in a special cell.” This cell is cold and gloomy: a bed and a
table constitute its furniture. It is here that the condemned man gets
his last snatch of sleep, if indeed he can sleep at all; it is hence
that, after a last “toilette,” he steps forth to make his exit by that
prison doorway which to him is the threshold of eternity.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Conciergerie is the gaol of the department of the Seine. It gained a
sinister celebrity during some of the most sanguinary periods of French
history. This sombre prison abounds in recollections of those strifes
and miseries by which royal epochs were too often characterised, and of
that vengeance and blind fury which distinguished the Revolution. Every
political movement, every religious passion, has contributed to the
horrors which mark the annals of this institution.

The Conciergerie is an appendage to the Palais de Justice; and when this
palace, which was originally a fortress, became the residence of the
French kings, it served as prison. It would appear to have been built
about the same time as the palace, though it has undergone sundry
alterations and enlargements during successive ages.

Reconstructed by Saint Louis, the Conciergerie, as its name indicates,
included the residence of the prison-governor. The “concierge” of the
palace was no unimportant personage. He was in a certain way the
governor of the royal mansion, and all royal prisoners were under his
charge. He could administer petty justice in the palace and its
surroundings, and he appointed a bailiff to carry out the law in his
name. His privileges were extensive enough. It was he whom merchants had
to pay for the right of exposing their wares for sale at the Palais
Royal. In 1348 the concierge took the official title of bailiff. More
than one person of high distinction has held this office: Philippe de
Savoisi, friend of Charles VI., for instance, and Juvenal des Ursins,
the historiographer of that monarch’s reign. Louis XI.’s famous
physician, Jacques Coictier, was the first who united the functions of
bailiff with those of concierge.

The concierge-bailiff of the Palais had on many points a discretionary
power over the prisoners of the Conciergerie. He himself taxed the food
he supplied to them, and fixed the rate of hire for the furniture they
used; and more than one prisoner, released by order of justice, found
himself retained at the Conciergerie until he could pay his bill for
board and lodging. The post of concierge-bailiff lasted until the
Revolution. The cases which came beneath the jurisdiction of this
functionary were tried in a large hall of the palace. These were cases
of misdoing which had occurred within the palace walls.

One of the most ghastly scenes ever enacted within the walls of the
Conciergerie was that in which, during the quarrels between the
Armagnacs and the Bourguignons, those ruffian supporters of the latter
party, known as the “cabochiens,” invaded the gaol and killed the crowd
of prisoners within it, irrespective of age or sex. The court of the
palace was inundated with blood and strewn with corpses. The Count
d’Armagnac, Constable of France, six bishops, and numerous members of
the Paris Parliament expired under the blades of the assassins.

The dungeons of the Conciergerie, built at the level of the Seine, were
dark and unhealthy: the light of day could never penetrate to them.
During the Middle Ages several pestilences, caused by the filthy
condition of the prisoners combined with insufficiency of food, broke
out at the Conciergerie and awakened the attention of the authorities.
On the 31st June, 1543, beds were for the first time placed in the
apartment known as the infirmary; and it was about this period that the
gaolers were instructed not to ill-treat the wretches beneath their
charge. They were to treat them “gently and humanely, to provide them
with water and straw, to procure them the services of priests, etc.” In
spite of these reforms, the Conciergerie long remained the most
unhealthy prison in Paris.

In 1776, during the fire at the Palais de Justice, a great part of the
Conciergerie fell a prey to the flames; nor was the mischief repaired
until some years afterwards. The fire had already reached one of the
towers occupied by the prisoners, when the officials were for the first
time warned of their danger by their cries for help.

During the revolutionary period the number of prisoners shut up in the
Conciergerie sometimes rose to 1,200. At the time of the September
massacre this prison was the scene of a horrible slaughter. According to
documents of indisputable exactness, close on three hundred persons
fell, at the Conciergerie, beneath the weapons of the agents of popular
vengeance. The “Septembrisseurs,” however, spared all the women, with
one exception. A poor wretch, known as the “pretty flower-girl” of the
Palais Royal, had, in a moment of furious jealousy, mutilated a French
guard, her lover; and she was now put to death with unheard-of cruelty.
According to Pelletier’s account she was attached to a stake, naked, her
feet nailed to the ground, her breasts were cut off with blows from a
sabre, and various other atrocious tortures inflicted upon her before
she expired.

[Illustration: INTERIOR OF LA SANTÉ.]

Whilst the Revolutionary tribunal was accomplishing its bloody work, the
Conciergerie served, so to say, as the antechamber to the scaffold. Most
of the proscribed were shut up in this prison, whence they issued only
to mount the fatal cart which was to convey them to their slaughter. At
this period, the chambers being too small, prisoners were huddled
together, to the number of fifty, in a space of twenty feet square,
without distinction of social position, age, or sex. Big dogs, let loose
at night in the courtyards, completed the system of surveillance; these
were the most dreaded gaolers of all. At a time when famine threatened
the capital, the prisoners’ rations were reduced. Soon a regulation was
made that all meals should be taken in common, at a cost of two francs a
head, and that the rich and aristocratic prisoners should pay for the
rest. “Drolly enough,” says Mercier, “the estimation in which these
gentlemen were held depended on the number of ragged wretches they fed,
just as it formerly did in the world on the number of their horses,
their mistresses, their dogs, and their lackeys.” Despite the horror of
their situation, the prisoners of the Conciergerie preserved the
frivolous and licentious habits of the epicurean society of the
eighteenth century. They threw away the last hours of their lives on
games of all kinds, or on amorous intrigues; they laughed at
everything--even the guillotine. Royalists, aristocrats, and popular
leaders were carried to the Conciergerie by the flux or reflux of the
Revolution, and they lived together in a fatal state of indifference,
disdaining to dispute their head with the executioner. Few took the
trouble even to curse their judges; many died singing a song. It was in
the midst of this general intrepidity that Beauharnais, Danton, Camille
Desmoulins, Queen Marie Antoinette, Madame Elizabeth, her sister, and a
host of other less distinguished victims, passed from the Conciergerie
to the scaffold. In this same prison, at a later date, Robespierre and
his partisans awaited the hour of their execution. Under the Restoration
the chamber in which Marie Antoinette was confined was turned into a
chapel; the pavement alone remaining as it was in 1794. Since the Reign
of Terror the Conciergerie has received many prisoners who have become
historical, with Louvel among them, the assassin of the Duke of Berri.

[Illustration: THE GAOLERS’ MESS-ROOM, LA SANTÉ.]

The torture which many of the wretched prisoners underwent was inflicted
for the most part in the famous Bombec Tower, beneath which existed what
were called _oubliettes_, or dungeons in which prisoners were subjected
to diabolical cruelty. These dungeons bristled everywhere with sharp
sword-blades; they were inhabited by rats and loathsome reptiles; and
the wretch who was thrown into them found, amidst other horrors, that
the waters of the Seine crept in upon him as the tide rose. One of the
cells of this tower, into which no light could penetrate, had been
occupied by Ravaillac.

In modern times the Conciergerie has been rendered habitable. The dark
and humid cells constructed at the foot of the towers have been either
filled up or suppressed. Already some years ago it was boasted that,
with one exception, the Conciergerie contained no dungeon into which the
light of day could not steal.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Mazas prison, situated on the boulevard of the same name, dates from
1850. The official name is “The house of cellular arrest.” The
administration abandoned in 1858 the original designation of Mazas
prison, on the petition of the family of Colonel Mazas, who was killed
at Austerlitz. But custom is more powerful than any administration; and
to the public this gaol is to-day still known solely by the name of
Mazas.

Its construction, commenced in 1845, was not terminated till five years
later. The cost of so vast a prison was naturally enormous. It was
intended in the first instance to replace the prison of La Force, then
situated in the Rue Pavée-aux-Marais and the Rue du Roi-de-Sicile. The
ground on which the first constructions were raised had previously been
occupied by market-gardeners and by a mill, which was demolished. The
works progressed rapidly under the direction of the architects, Gilbert
and Lecointe. Interrupted by the Revolution of 1848, they were resumed
shortly afterwards, and on the 19th of May, 1850, took place the
inauguration--if this word can be employed in so sinister a sense--of
the new prison; the installation, that is to say, of the prisoners. Less
than twelve hours sufficed to transfer eight hundred and forty-one
convicts in cellular vans, to establish them in their new abode, and
inscribe their names, and other particulars concerning them, in the
books of the gaol.

[Illustration: ENTRANCE TO LA GRANDE ROQUETTE.]

At this period the grave inconveniences which have by degrees asserted
themselves in France as the result of the cellular system were not yet
clearly recognised. Thus it was that the first poor wretches who, after
their transfer from La Force, found themselves suddenly immured in the
cells of Mazas, were seized with fits of fury and despair which soon
took the proportions of a panic and a riot. The whole building resounded
with incessant cries and shouts: the condemned, isolated from one
another, and exasperated by their solitude, trying to converse by shouts
with their old acquaintances lodged in distant cells. Some requested as
a favour to be taken back to La Force. At length the administration felt
it discreet to order an inquiry into the state of things, and the
Academy of Medicine was consulted. M. de Pietra-Santa, an eminent member
of that body, wrote, in a report which he laid before his colleagues:
“The cellular system employed in prisons plays deadly havoc with the
intellectual faculties. It develops scrofulous diseases, and urges its
victims to suicide.” Statistics were quoted to show what a formidable
proportion of cell-confined prisoners either took or attempted their own
lives. In the end the Academy of Medicine denounced the prison-cell in
uncompromised terms; and, in consequence, the system of isolation ceased
at the Mazas prison to be rigorously enforced. As, however, the edifice
had been constructed on a particular plan which did not permit of its
conversion into an ordinary prison, its original purposes were modified
by the confinement within its walls only of prisoners under short
sentences. “In these circumstances,” says a contemporary French writer,
“solitary confinement, far from being an inconvenience, presents in
general the advantage of not mixing prisoners arrested from very diverse
causes, and the moral character of whose offences widely differs.
Moreover, the individual who may perhaps be acquitted to-morrow has not
to endure a regrettable contact, which is often dangerous.”

The Mazas prison is surrounded by a girdle wall which conceals it from
the public gaze; though the curious can easily defeat this difficulty by
mounting the viaduct of the railway of Vincennes, which traverses the
Faubourg Saint-Antoine. From this elevation a bird’s-eye glance of the
whole of the buildings may be obtained.

The sanitation of this prison leaves little to be desired. The cells are
spacious, wholesome, and well ventilated. Their furniture consists of a
hammock suspended from cramp-irons; of a wooden stool, a water-can, and
one or two other articles the reverse of luxurious. The ventilation is
managed on scientific principles by means of orifices at different
altitudes; and so effectual is it that in an experiment which was once
made, with three men smoking tobacco in them incessantly for three
hours, it was found that the fumes disappeared as fast as they were
produced, and that the atmosphere never once lost its transparency. This
circumstance is a great consolation for the Mazas prisoners, who can
beguile the time with their pipes.

As to the interior régime of the prison, the spacious courts which
separate each gallery of cells are divided into promenades, in which the
prisoners are free to exercise themselves for at least one hour a day. A
part of these promenades is provided with a shelter in view of wet
weather. The prisoners take exercise by turns, and always alone, the
warders being able from certain points of observation to follow their
movements incessantly. An infirmary is attached to the prison, as well
as bath rooms, which are no less commodious than cleanly. Each prisoner
is known at Mazas by the number of his cell, inscribed on a plate hung
above the door, and which is turned over to indicate that the prisoner
is away from his cell taking exercise or receiving instruction. Among
the special punishments inflicted on the more serious offenders are:
exclusion from outdoor exercise, a diet of bread and water, a bare plank
bed, and a dark cell.

The administrative and subordinate staff of the Mazas consists of a
director, four registration clerks, a brigadier, four sub-brigadiers,
sixty-four warders, a laundress, three chaplains, a doctor, a chemist, a
female searcher, two barbers, and four commissioners, not to mention
some three dozen prisoners employed as assistants.

What chiefly strikes a visitor to the place is the regular and
geometrical plan on which the whole prison is constructed. The
arrangements are of the most perfect description, though it was
complained some years since that the method of arranging divine
service--the door of each cell being kept ajar, so that the prisoner can
see the altar and the officiating priest--provided to a large part of
the prisoners little more than a curious spectacle.

       *       *       *       *       *

The prison of Sainte-Pélagie, founded in 1665, owes its name to a holy
penitent of the fifth century, who was a famous actress at Antioch,
when, after hearing a sermon from the bishop of Heliopolis, she became a
convert to Christianity, received baptism, liberated her slaves, and
made over her property to the bishop that it might be given to the poor.
Then, clothing herself in a rough garment, she made her way secretly to
Jerusalem, and there built herself a cell on the Mount of Olives, where
she led the most austere life. In memory of Sainte Pélagie, Madame
Beauharnais de Miramion, who, according to the memoirs of the eighteenth
century, had for years led a life of pleasure, built an immense house of
refuge for young girls. As the rule of life laid down by the pious
founder (though she herself submitted to it) seemed too strict to the
young women of the establishment, as well as to their families, they
were one by one withdrawn, until at last the mistress of the house found
herself alone. Then Madame de Miramion--determined that someone should
do penance--addressed herself to women and girls of loose life, when
those who were really tired of their wild existence, with others who had
lost all personal charms, accepted the hospitality offered to them at
Sainte-Pélagie. Gradually the number of repentant Magdalens--thanks not
only to goodwill on their part but to the intervention of the
police--became so great that many of them had to be moved to the convent
of Les Filles de la Mère-Dieu.

When in 1789 the Revolution broke out, the gates of Sainte-Pélagie were
thrown open like those of the convents; and the repentant girls, equally
with the nuns, were at liberty to leave their cells. Two years later the
Commune of Paris converted the building into a prison, where men and
women were confined for all sorts of offences, political as well as
criminal. From 1797 until 1834 Sainte-Pélagie was a debtors’ prison, and
it was then changed into a house of correction for juvenile offenders,
vagabonds below the age of sixteen, and children found hopeless by their
parents.

Under the Second Empire, as for a time under the First and during a
portion of the Restoration, Sainte-Pélagie was exclusively a state
prison. Here it was that the first Napoleon--in the words of an
anti-Bonapartist writer--“shut up those citizens who displeased him and
failed to manifest for his policy all the enthusiasm he desired.” To
this despot is due the introduction at Sainte-Pélagie of special
registers, called “registers of persons brought beneath the notice of
the administration”--in other words, beneath the notice of the police.
The Restoration continued this work--the imprisonment, that is to say,
of suspected persons--as practised alike under the Empire, the Republic,
and the ancient Monarchy. At the beginning of Louis XVIII.’s reign no
less than 135 persons were arrested by the king’s private police, simply
as having served under Napoleon in the Imperial Guard.

In the courtyard of Sainte-Pélagie stands a chapel, built under the
Restoration by the Duchess of Berri, which among other curiosities
contains an altar-cloth worked by the Duchess de Praslin, whose tragic
death at the hands of her husband has already been related, and a _Via
Dolorosa_, painted by a prisoner who had been condemned for immoral
pictures. All the Catholic prisoners, with the exception of those
sentenced for political and press offences, are obliged to be present on
Sundays and holidays at mass and at vespers. A platoon of infantry also
assists at these ceremonies.

The prisoners are divided into three categories. The first includes
those who are exempted from work without being obliged to pay for the
privilege; these are the political offenders and persons who have
contravened the laws relating to the press. The second comprises those
who, for a payment averaging from six or seven francs a fortnight,
purchase the right not to labour. To the third belong all the prisoners
who are obliged to work in the shops directed by the speculator who
farms the prison. These last receive but a third part of the wages paid
by the speculator. Of the two other thirds, one goes to the
administration, the other to the prisoner the day he is set at liberty.
A prison-workman gains on the average two francs twenty-five centimes a
month, of which he receives, as his own particular share, five centimes
or one sou per day, which he is allowed to spend in the prison canteen.

In France, as in England, different views are entertained on the subject
of prison-labour. The prisoners must work; and it is both wasteful and
cruel to employ them without advantage to themselves or anyone else--as,
for instance, in drawing water and then throwing it away. If, however,
they are employed, like the occupants of Sainte-Pélagie and other French
prisons, with useful work they are brought into competition with the
honest workman outside. The political prisoners, and the prisoners who
are allowed to liberate themselves from work by small payments, are
permitted to order from the outside, by the intermediary of
commissionaires attached to the prison for that purpose, whatever food
and drink they may require. “Luxuries,” it is true, are not permitted by
the prison regulations, but it rests with the officials to determine
what a “luxury” really means.

Prisoners at this, as at some of the other Paris prisons, are allowed to
send out letters, but copies of them are made and kept in the governor’s
office. By this system not only the prisoner but France and the whole
world has, in some cases, profited. It was through copies being made of
the eloquent and passionate, if not too edifying, epistles addressed by
Mirabeau, during his confinement in the Bastille, to the young woman he
was so desperately in love with that the now famous “Lettres à Sophie”
were preserved.

The ordinary inhabitants of Sainte-Pélagie are, in addition to the
political and newspaper offenders, juvenile thieves, tradesmen whose
scales have not been found sufficiently impartial, with fraudulent
bankrupts and debtors to the state--the only ones who, since the
abolition of imprisonment for debt in civil and commercial matters, are
still liable to confinement.

The official staff of Sainte-Pélagie consists of a governor, a
physician in chief with two assistants, a dispenser, a Roman Catholic
priest, a registrar, a clerk, a brigadier, twelve warders, three
commissionaires, a female searcher, a barber (who recruits his
auxiliaries from among the prisoners), a sutler, and a sempstress. The
prison is guarded by a company of infantry stationed at different posts.

[Illustration: WARDERS’ ROOM AND ADJOINING COURTYARD, LA GRANDE
ROQUETTE.]

A list of the celebrated prisoners who have been confined at
Sainte-Pélagie would be a formidable one. Sainte-Pélagie ceased to be a
convent in 1790, and was transformed to a prison by order of the
Convention. During this period many persons suspected of political
intrigue were lodged in this prison previously to appearing before the
Revolutionary Tribunal. Some distinguished offenders quitted
Sainte-Pélagie for the scaffold: Madame Roland, for instance, the Comte
de Laval Montmorency, and the Marquis de Pons. On the 3rd of August,
1793, in virtue of an edict for the arrest of the actors of the Théâtre
de la Nation (afterwards Théâtre Français), Fleury, Lange, Petit, Suin,
Joly, Devienne, Lachassaigne, Rancourt, and Mézerai were all
incarcerated at Sainte-Pélagie. After the 9th Thermidor it received the
victims of the counter-revolution, but ere long the prison was quite
empty, and no further political prisoners found their way into it until
the Empire, when, although they were by no means few, their numbers
cannot be certainly ascertained, as the prison books were not faithfully
kept. In 1811, at a time when the Emperor of Russia was in Paris,
sixty-eight prisoners were liberated at his request. The Restoration,
from the 15th of April, 1814, to the 29th of January, 1815, incarcerated
135 prisoners, nearly all of them old officers of the Imperial Guard.
When the allies entered Paris for the second time the Russian Emperor,
who the year before had procured the liberation of political prisoners
detained by Bonaparte, made use of Sainte-Pélagie for the imprisonment
of Russian deserters to the number of 192. Among the latter were several
Poles guilty of having fought for their country in the French armies.
These so-called deserters found themselves in the same gaol with the
victims of the royalist reaction. Under Charles X. Sainte-Pélagie
continued to be a state prison, and began to afford accommodation to
journalists or authors who had been indiscreet with their pen. Between
1820 and 1830 many a celebrity lodged there, such as Béranger, Paul
Louis Courier, Eugène de Pradel, Dubois and Barthélemy--to name no
others.

From 1830 to 1838 the constitutional monarchy made a sufficiently free
use of Sainte-Pélagie. Then the Republic came and set the prisoners
loose; though the insurrection of June repeopled Sainte-Pélagie, into
which no less than a hundred offenders were summarily thrown.

On the 17th of December, 1851, the man who nineteen years afterwards was
to finish his career at Sedan imprisoned thirty-four representatives of
the people at Sainte-Pélagie. Nor did Napoleon III. stop here. In the
space of a few days he lodged within the gaol some five hundred citizens
whom he considered dangerous and capable of interfering with his
projects.

It would be impossible within a limited space to adequately trace the
subsequent history of Sainte-Pélagie. Before quitting this gaol,
however, mention may be made of one or two of the most famous escapes
which have been effected from it.

In July, 1835, a certain number of notorious prisoners conspired to dig,
at the north-east angle of the building, a subterranean passage, which
was at length carried into the garden of a house in the Rue Coupeau.
This passage was eighteen metres long. Twenty-eight men thereby regained
their liberty, this being the most daring escape which was ever planned
and executed at Sainte-Pélagie. Two months afterwards the Comte de
Richmond, calling himself the son of Louis XVI., contrived to get away
with two of his fellow-prisoners, Duclerc and Rossignol. The count had
somehow procured the key of the gridiron gate separating the ground
floor of the east pavilion from a courtyard. Then with his hat on, with
papers under his arm, and followed by his two companions, he was
proceeding to one of the principal exits when a sentinel challenged him.
Richmond declared himself the governor, and presented his two friends,
one as the registrar, the other as his architect. The sentinel let them
pass, and the three prisoners quietly proceeded on their way, ultimately
escaping by a final gate, the key of which was in the count’s
possession.

[Illustration: THE CHAPEL, LA GRANDE ROQUETTE.]

Of yet another ingenious escape an Englishman named Thomas Jackson,
under a sentence of five years, was the hero. He hoisted himself up from
the central pavilion by a false window and, by means of a cord provided
with a stout hook at the end, gained the roofs, along which he stole to
the exterior wall, where, still with the aid of his rope, he managed to
let himself down to the ground uninjured and without exciting suspicion,
favoured, as he had been, by a dark night and a deluge of rain.

       *       *       *       *       *

Saint-Lazare, a house of detention and correction for women, is situated
in the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis. Before arriving at its ultimate
destination, this prison had to pass through sundry historical phases,
some of them sufficiently curious. It was at first, as its name
indicates, a leper hospital; and already at the beginning of the twelfth
century it existed on the road from Paris to Saint-Denis, built, as it
had been, upon the ruins of an old basilica dedicated to Saint-Lawrence.
Louis le Gros established for its benefit the fair of Saint-Ladre, which
was held annually in front of the hospital and lasted eight days. This
fair was, under Philip Augustus, replaced by the fair of Saint-Lawrence.

Like most lazarettos, the hospital of Saint-Lazare was composed of an
assemblage of little compartments, in which each leper lived isolated.
It is recorded by a monk of Saint-Denis, Odéon de Deuil by name, that in
1147 Louis VII., carrying the royal standard to Saint-Denis previously
to his departure for the Crusades, visited the lepers in their cells.
The bakers of France, who, it appears, were more exposed to leprosy than
any other body of men, owing to the action of the fire upon their skin,
made it their particular concern to contribute towards the maintenance
of Saint-Lazare, and sent large gifts of bread to it. In return, its
doors were always open to any baker attacked with the malady.

From 1515 until the seventeenth century Saint-Lazare was managed, or
mismanaged, by the canons of Saint-Victor, who established themselves
there as in a great abbey, and consumed the rich revenues of the
institution. The leprosy was turned out of doors, or at least the canons
would only receive certain ecclesiastics afflicted with leprosy. In 1630
the reform of this degenerate establishment was confided to
Saint-Vincent de Paul, who installed there, under the name of
“congregation of Saint-Lazare,” a regular staff of priests to tend the
sick. It was in the convent of Saint-Lazare that Vincent de Paul died.
He was interred in the choir at the foot of the high altar. His tomb,
bearing a commemorative inscription, was still visible in 1789.

Ten years after the Revolution a portion of Saint-Lazare was employed as
a house of correction for men, as well as a depository for persons
suddenly and arbitrarily arrested. It was there that, shortly after the
famous first representation of the _Marriage of Figaro_, Beaumarchais
was shut up, after having been brutally dragged from his home. This
iniquitous arrest, which nothing could excuse or extenuate, caused such
a stir in Paris that the brilliant dramatist was set free within three
days.

On the 13th of July, 1789, the eve of the taking of the Bastille, the
convent of Saint-Lazare was pillaged. Paris was suffering from famine,
and the report got abroad that in the immense buildings of the cloister
large quantities of wheat and flour were concealed. The popular
suspicions proved to be well founded. Enormous supplies of cereals,
wines, and victuals of every description were discovered, and the
inmates, who had represented themselves as entirely destitute, were
ignominiously chased out of doors. Unhappily the famished invaders, once
in possession of the booty, abandoned themselves to all kinds of
excesses. The barns were set on fire, and the flames for some time
threatened the whole quarter with destruction.

Converted into a prison, Saint-Lazare received a great number of
suspects. Some of its guests were now sufficiently illustrious: the
great poet, André Chenier, for instance. Within its walls Chenier wrote,
for a female prisoner, one of his most beautiful elegies, as well as
some of his famous iambics. After, the Consulate Saint-Lazare became at
once a civil prison, an administrative prison, and a house of
correction. Amongst other classes of offenders detained there were women
sentenced to less than a year’s imprisonment, or in debt to the State,
or convicted of adultery, as well as girls under age whose parents had
shut them up for correction.

This vast and sombre prison, with its decrepit walls and its sinister
aspect, consists of five great blocks of buildings surrounding three
courtyards planted with trees. A road encircles and isolates the whole.
The buildings are four-storeyed, sufficiently well ventilated, and
capable of accommodating twelve hundred offenders. The women immured at
Saint-Lazare are divided into three categories. The first consists of
women convicted of crimes or misdemeanours; the second of girls under
age condemned for indiscreet conduct to remain till their majority in a
house of correction, as also of girls whose parents have incarcerated
them on a judge’s order, and girls below sixteen, detained for
vagabondage or prostitution. The third category is composed of abandoned
women administratively detained.

[Illustration: THE CHAPEL-SCHOOL, LA PETITE ROQUETTE.]

This last category, entirely isolated from the two others, is itself
divided into three classes: the old, the mutinous, and the young. The
old culprits are naturally the most resigned to their fate; some even
prefer it to liberty. In 1830 a great many of them, forcibly ejected
into a state of freedom, returned the same evening to Saint-Lazare. The
mutinous ward is occupied by loose women who are refractory to all
discipline. It is here that conspiracies are hatched against the prison
regulations, and that language is used which no slang dictionary would
dare to reproduce. The ward of the young contains those fallen women who
are not yet hardened by a long course of vice. It is towards these that
moralising influences are chiefly directed; though the attempts to
reform them have not, on the whole, been highly successful. Against
women of recognised immorality the state laws are notoriously severe.
Slighter offences, such as appearing in the street at prohibited hours,
venturing out of doors bareheaded, or with an air of solicitation, and
drinking to excess, are punished with fifteen days’ to three months’
imprisonment. For graver offences, such as insulting the doctors
attached to the administration, or making determined overtures to
pedestrians, the minimum term of imprisonment is three months, the
maximum close upon a year.

The female warders of the different sections are sisters of the order of
Saint-Joseph. All the prisoners are employed at needlework, and receive
weekly a slender remuneration for so much as they have done. They labour
together in vast workshops. The women under correction sleep isolated,
in cells; the others sleep, four by four, in rooms or in large
dormitories, where, a few years since, it was complained that they were
strewn about pell-mell, and so crowded together that their beds
frequently touched.

[Illustration: THE POLITICAL QUARTER, SAINTE-PÉLAGIE.]

A very able writer, who has made a special study of the régime of
different prisons, M. Maxime Ducamp, furnishes statistics showing that
in one average year Saint-Lazare gave accommodation to 2,859 ordinary
criminals; 232 young girls, of less than sixteen, under correction; and
4,831 unfortunates “administratively” detained, not to mention some 200
women who were infirm.

It is complained that notwithstanding all the divisions and subdivisions
which have been made to prevent communication between the different
sections of prisoners, the greatest promiscuity reigns at Saint-Lazare.
Philanthropists and journalists have constantly raised their voice in
the matter, and demanded that a special house should be instituted for
young girls in which they would not get corrupted. “Every young girl who
enters under correction at Saint-Lazare,” says M. Maxime Ducamp, “issues
thence vicious and polluted to the depths of her heart. I have been
turning over the leaves of two prayer-books found on a child of hardly
sixteen, detained for three months, on the application of her father, in
this accursed house, where the walls reek with vice. On the margins the
little prisoner has written her thoughts; frequently the dates are
indicated, and one can thus follow the progress of her ideas. The study
is appalling.” The moral atmosphere of the place, that is to say, was
one which the girl could scarcely breathe; though by degrees she became
acclimatised, until her last reflections were an outrage against not
only virtue, but nature itself.

       *       *       *       *       *

We will conclude this chapter on the prisons of Paris with a few general
observations.

On the question of hygiene most of the governors of Paris prisons state,
in their reports, that little on this head remains to be desired.
Certain exceptions, however, must be made, as in the case of ancient
convents whose age renders a perfect adaptation impossible. Now it is
the dormitories which are defective, because the cubic quantity of air
required by the regulations cannot be obtained; now it is the courts,
which, as the sun can never penetrate to them, become damp and
unwholesome; now it is the workshops, which are ill-suited to the
industries exercised within them. On the whole, however, the central
prisons are healthy enough.

On the subject of food--one of the most important of hygienic
considerations--the authorities have had this problem to solve: to avoid
imposing such rigorous deprivations as would border upon inhumanity,
whilst equally avoiding such a dietary system as would lend an
attraction to the prisons, and cause destitute wretches to prefer
confinement to their ordinary life of liberty. The regulation diet is at
present as follows:--a daily ration of bread weighing 750 grammes for
men and 650 for women; in the morning, on ordinary days, a bowl of
vegetable soup with bread in it, and on Sundays, Thursdays, and fête
days, a bowl of meat soup; in the evening similar soup, accompanied, on
ordinary days, by a small quantity of dry vegetables, such as potatoes,
peas, and lentils, and on Sundays and fête days by a portion of meat,
without bone, weighing at least 75 grammes, as well as at least 3
decilitres of potatoes.

The ordinary beverage is pure water. During the months of June, July,
and August, however, the administration requires that a refreshing drink
be supplied to the prisoners. This is made from gentian, hops, leaves of
the walnut-tree, molasses, and lemon.

The régime of prisoners in the infirmaries is chiefly determined by the
medical officers, though there are state regulations even on this
subject. The régime of the infirmary is very indulgent, and invalids
confined there are practically, for the time being, not treated as
prisoners at all.

As to the sleeping arrangements, the bedstead now generally employed is
of iron, with a base of trellis work or wire gauze. It is furnished with
a mattress, a pair of sheets, one blanket in summer and two in winter.

Of cleanliness a great point, of course, is made. The prisoner, on his
first introduction into prison, is stripped and bathed, and has his hair
and beard cut off. The tresses of the women, however, remain unshorn;
though formerly female prisoners, to their own furious indignation, were
deprived of this their chief adornment. According to one article of the
prison regulations, a footbath must be furnished to each prisoner at
least once in two months, and a large bath at least twice a year. It is
to be hoped that the officials of the different prisons do not really
limit those under their charge to such an atrociously infrequent
application of necessary water.

[Illustration: THE COURTYARD, SAINT-LAZARE.]

The infirmaries are very competently organised. To each metropolitan
prison at least one doctor is attached. The prisoners may have a medical
consultation whenever they apply for it; though they are not admitted to
the infirmary without a doctor’s certificate, except in urgent cases.
The temperature of the infirmary is regulated according to the season
or, more precisely, the weather. The rest of the prison is only heated
when the weather is very rigorous. The total number of patients admitted
to the infirmary in 1869 was 12,982 men and 2,489 women. These figures
may at first appear somewhat formidable; but two facts must be borne in
mind: first, that a stay in the infirmary is much coveted by prisoners,
who get themselves entered on the sick list under the slightest pretext;
secondly, that the population of the Paris prisons is generally an
unhealthy one, already degenerated through excesses or anterior
maladies. On the other hand, it cannot be denied that long isolation,
insufficient exercise, and perhaps also inadequate food, produce a
grievous effect on the health of the inmates. It is found, indeed, that
prisoners who have been long confined are peculiarly liable to become
invalided; and this is in particular the case with women. In 1869, out
of a given number of convicts, nearly three times as many were in the
infirmary during the fourth year of confinement as during the first.
That most patients, however, enter the infirmary in consequence of
anterior conditions, is shown by the statistics for 1869, considerably
more than half having been afflicted with previous maladies or bad
constitutions.

The hours of compulsory prison labour are regulated by the State. The
organisation of the labour system leaves, on one point at least,
something to be desired. A double object ought to be held in view by the
authorities, namely, to ensure for the prisoner sufficient resources to
exempt him, on his liberation, from temptation to mendicancy or theft,
and to develop in him such habits of industry as will procure him an
honest livelihood out in the world. The institution of the “peculium,”
or private fund, is of the first necessity for this purpose. At present
each prisoner has a peculium, or at all events it is within his power to
create one. The slender proceeds of his labour form an accumulation for
this fund. The longer his imprisonment and the greater the difficulty
experienced in obtaining work on his discharge, the larger should be the
stock of money intended to keep his hands out of other people’s pockets.
As a matter of fact, however, in the case of ill-regulated prisoners,
nine-tenths of the fund is sometimes deducted before they are liberated.
Involuntary thieves are thus let loose upon society.

The central prisons of Paris inspire the criminal classes with a
wholesome dread, due, in a very large measure, to the exasperating
monotony of the life led within their walls. Many medical authorities
hold that more diversion and variety should be afforded. Continued year
after year upon long-sentence prisoners, the monotony is sure to prey,
more or less, upon the mind; and the cases of atony and other mental
diseases attributable to this cause are unfortunately by no means few.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER XXI.

THE PARIS ZOO.

The Jardin des Plantes--Its Origin and History--Under Buffon--The Museum
of Natural History--The Tobacco Factory.


From caged men to caged beasts the transition is easy and natural. The
Jardin des Plantes is probably the most popular institution in Paris,
and, according to certain French writers whose eye by no means
diminishes the magnitude of native objects, the most popular in the
world. At all events, the names associated with this Parisian equivalent
of our Zoological Gardens are glorious enough, including as they do
those of Buffon, Cuvier, and other writers whose lustre is dimmed only
by juxtaposition with those of the two greatest naturalists who ever
lived. It is more to the names in question, whose reputation cannot
decline, than to the collections which the establishment contains, that
the Jardin des Plantes owes its fame.

The creation of this garden dates back to Louis XIII. It was two of this
monarch’s physicians, Hérouard and Guy de la Brosse, who conceived the
first idea of it. Having submitted their plans to the king, the two
naturalists soon obtained letters patent for the acquisition, in the
Faubourg Saint-Victor, of a suitable piece of ground. At its origin,
however, the institution which was one day to earn a European fame was
of very limited extent, and its collections were entirely botanical.
Royal Garden of Medicinal Herbs it was called; and the first design of
its founders had in fact been nothing more than the cultivation of
plants possessing curative properties. In this character the garden was
a mere supplement to the Faculty of Medicine. It served as a theatre of
study for students in pharmacy; and the royal letters patent, signed
“Louis,” provided that “no instruction in pharmacy shall be given at the
School of Medicine.” “In the said garden,” runs another clause, “a
specimen shall be preserved of every drug, whether simple or compound.”

Of the two founders of the Jardin des Plantes, one can only be said to
have taken part in the work; for Hérouard died prematurely. It was Guy
de la Brosse who did the planning and the classifying; and to him the
credit of establishing the garden almost exclusively belongs.

One of the first botanists of his time, Guy de la Brosse himself
furnished the garden with nearly every species of plant which was to be
cultivated there. At the same time it must be owned that Louis XIII.
showed himself, for the period, very munificent towards de la Brosse,
who received an annual allowance of 6,000 francs for his professional
services in connection with the institution.

During the first years of its existence the garden met with much
opposition, and sometimes fell into a state of neglect. The Faculty of
Medicine was jealous of this rival, and rebelled against the royal edict
because de la Brosse did not seek to enlist the sympathies of its
professors. For this exhibition of disrespect the Faculty suffered no
punishment but that of having its remonstrances quite ignored; and Guy
de la Brosse devoted all his energies to the enrichment of the botanical
collection. His death, however, occurred three years after the
inauguration, and his successors, as indolent as he had been
indefatigable, let the garden run almost to weed. At length one of the
professors of the Faculty imparted to it a new life. This was Fagon, one
of Louis XIV.’s physicians, who seemed fitted for the task no less by
his birth than by his studies; for he was a grandnephew of Guy de la
Brosse, and had first seen the light within the precincts of the Jardin
des Plantes.

Devoted to study, which he preferred to the distractions of a court
where he was nevertheless an oracle, Fagon, already celebrated by the
ability with which he had supported the theory of the circulation of the
blood--at that time rejected by the Faculty--proved himself, with his
natural passion for botany, an admirable director for the Jardin. In
1693 Louis XIV. conferred upon him the title of Superintendent.

Fagon’s period of service was indeed a prosperous one for the royal
garden. With a generous nature, and gifted with that _savoir-faire_
which is only acquired by contact with men, he was happy in the choice
of his professors, and contrived, by his influence and liberality, to
give a great impulse to the whole establishment. Besides grouping around
him an illustrious body of specialists, he despatched agents to various
foreign countries to discover specimens for his collection.

After the reign of Louis XIII. the superintendence of the Jardin des
Plantes had been considered as essentially the business of one or other
of the royal physicians. In consequence a succession of men filled the
post who were total strangers to natural science, and quite unfitted to
manage such an institution. Afterwards, incompetent directors removed
from the staff of specialists all those who were worth retaining, and
showed so little respect for the purposes of the garden that they
cultivated part of it as a vineyard for their own private use. Colbert,
when he visited the garden, was so indignant at this outrageous abuse,
that he called for a pickaxe and himself commenced a work of destruction
which he took care to have carried out forthwith.

[Illustration: BUFFON.]

Successive failures at length proved to the authorities that the
superintendence of the Jardin was no suitable perquisite for a royal
physician; and it was now that the illustrious Buffon was appointed
“intendant.” From this moment the aspect of everything changed; and the
institution rapidly earned a world-wide renown. Under Buffon it was
completely transformed. From a simple apothecary’s plantation it became
a depôt for all the riches of creation. He erased the inscription,
“Jardin royal des herbes médicinales,” from over the door of entrance,
and substituted for it the plain title of “Jardin du Roi.” Endowed with
immense energy, the great naturalist employed all his influence towards
enriching the establishment over which he reigned with the superiority
of genius. When he first set foot in it the chief treasures of the
museum were displayed in two little rooms of the edifice erected on the
grounds, whilst in a third room, carefully removed from the gaze of the
curious, were collected a number of inferior skeletons of men and
animals. It was during Buffon’s administration that the great
amphitheatre was constructed, which remains one of the most admired in
Paris, as well as the chemical laboratories which surround it. The
natural history galleries were, as might have been expected, by no means
overlooked. He even extended them at the expense of his own allowance
for lodging, which he reduced time after time, and ended by abandoning
altogether. Although his main passion was for animals, Buffon gave
earnest attention to the cultivation of plants. It was he who traced the
plan of the garden very nearly as it exists in the present day.

[Illustration: THE CARNIVORA SECTION, JARDIN DES PLANTES.]

[Illustration: ENTRANCE TO THE HOTHOUSES, JARDIN DES PLANTES.]

The intendant of the Jardin des Plantes, who rendered such incalculable
services to natural science, has been reproached with having written his
immortal pages in foppish attire, with a sword at his side and his hand
adorned with ruffles. This reproach, which has been so widely
reiterated, deserves refutation. When Comte de Buffon appeared in
society it was with the exterior of a gay cavalier; but in his study,
when he was at work, his costume was so plain that it shocked a
Franciscan friar of his acquaintance who saw a great deal of him at his
château. If he was extravagant at all, it was in the exercise of his
natural benevolence, which assumed quite a princely character.

The name of Buffon attracted from all parts magnificent presents to the
museum. The King of Poland sent him a splendid collection of minerals,
and the Empress of Russia, who had failed to entice him to her court,
nevertheless presented him with some of the richest products of her
country. Nor was this all. Pirates, who seized every cargo which came
within their reach, are said to have spared the cases which they found
addressed to so great a naturalist.

More fortunate than the human beings outside, the animals in the royal
garden were in no way affected by the Revolution. The hateful title of
their abode, however, was naturally changed; and the former Garden of
the King became the Museum of Natural History. In 1792 Bernardin de
Saint-Pierre, the author of _Paul and Virginia_, was made director of
the establishment; and the Convention, which with all its
destructiveness showed constructive tendencies in regard to all matters
of science, literature, and art, founded at the museum twelve chairs,
which were filled by professors of human anatomy, zoology, animal
anatomy, botany, mineralogy, geology, general chemistry, chemistry in
its application to the arts, agriculture, and iconography.

The number of some of the chairs has since been increased, and a few new
ones have been established; but, fundamentally, the organisation of the
establishment remains what it was at the time of the radical
transformation under the Convention. The professors appointed by the
Convention went to work with the greatest enthusiasm, and all the
invaders and explorers of the time were begged to supply the museum with
whatever specimens of natural history they could offer. The collection,
moreover, was increased by the activity and success of the French
troops, with a view to the greater glory of France, and especially of
Paris. The commanders of the French armies brought back with them, in
the form of booty, the most interesting objects from the museums of the
conquered cities. Holland having been overrun in 1798, a number of the
curiosities belonging to the Stadtholder’s Museum were forwarded to
Paris; and the celebrated naturalist, Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, was sent
to Lisbon, occupied at the time by a French army, to choose from the
local collections whatever he might find suitable for the natural
history museum at Paris. After a time the collection became too rich for
the professors and officials who had to arrange it. Money and space were
alike wanting; and at last the established authorities formally
complained that the treasures forwarded to them by the victorious troops
were too abundant.

Among the most celebrated professors attached to the museum of natural
history may be mentioned Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, already named, Lamarck,
Lacépède, and Cuvier.

The garden of the museum forms a spacious quadrilateral, bounded on the
east by the Quai Saint-Bernard, on the north by the Rue Cuvier, on the
south by the Rue Buffon, and on the west by the Rue Geoffroy
Saint-Hilaire.

Entering by the principal gate, the visitor finds himself opposite an
immense flower-bed enclosed between two long avenues which were planted
by Buffon himself. The avenue on the left leads to the school of
stone-fruit trees, the collections of botany, mineralogy, and geology,
the library, and the house inhabited by Buffon when he was
superintendent of the place. The avenue on the right is bounded by the
school of botany and the hothouses. Behind the botanical school a long
avenue of chestnut trees leads by the side of the bears’ den from the
hothouses to the quay. Between this avenue and the Rue Cuvier are the
menagerie, the school of fruit trees, the galleries of anatomy and
anthropology, the amphitheatre, the Administration, and, at the top of
the garden, behind the hothouses, the labyrinth and the Belvedere. A
number of exotic trees have been planted and cultivated in the Jardin
des Plantes, thence to be transplanted and naturalised in France. One of
the popular celebrities of the garden is the Cedar of Lebanon, which
Bernard de Jussieu was bringing from the East with other specimens,
when, made prisoner by the English, he was deprived of the whole of his
collection, with the exception only of the young cedar tree, which he
had sworn at all hazards to preserve. Keeping it in a hat, planted in
suitable mould, he succeeded, after many vicissitudes, in bringing it to
the haven where it has since so wonderfully thrived. The tree,
cultivated with only too much care, wears an aspect which is not
precisely that of its natural freedom, but which is not wanting in
grandeur. “The old Titan,” writes a French naturalist, “several times
decapitated by our icy climate, spreads more and more every year.”

Higher up, in an almost forgotten corner, in the midst of foliage,
stands a column supported by a pedestal of minerals. This simple
monument is in memory of a simple man. Beneath it rests the body of
Daubenton, the friend and collaborator of Buffon, the “learned shepherd”
to whom France owes its fine breeds of merino sheep, and the author of
the new plan of organisation adopted by the Convention in 1793. Narrow,
winding paths, overshadowed by yew trees, lead to the Belvedere,
constructed during the reign of Louis XV. The bronze cupola of doubtful
style, surmounted by a celestial globe, with a sundial and a motto,
tells plainly the period to which this fantastic conceit belongs. The
motto, however, is ingenious and charming: “Horas non numero nisi
serenas”; in English, “I note only the hours of sunshine.” Buffon had
here placed an apparatus which has disappeared. At twelve o’clock
exactly the lens of the dial burned a thread, causing a ball of metal to
fall with a sonorous clang.

Arrived at this point the visitor sees the garden stretching out at his
feet. It is in the spring that the full beauty of flower and foliage
reveals itself. On Sundays and fête days, when the weather is fine, the
garden teems with people. Masses of promenaders come to find, beneath
the shade of the avenues, verdure and fresh air; for not only is the
Jardin des Plantes a great scientific school, it is the joy and the life
of a populous quarter of the metropolis. It affords repose to fatigued
workmen, the families of local residences resort to it, and generations
of lighthearted children grow up in the midst of its charms.

[Illustration: MARABOUT STORKS IN THE JARDIN DES PLANTES.]

Descending the labyrinth, behind the hot-houses, the visitor finds in
front of him the door of the orangery, and to the left the entrance to
the grand amphitheatre, where so many illustrious voices have instructed
the world. Then, following the avenue which passes before the
amphitheatre, he descends the length of the Rue Cuvier, and making on
this side the tour of the menagerie, an enormous grampus, together with
its skeleton, comes into view, guarding the entrance to the galleries of
anatomy and anthropology. Farther on is the reptile menagerie, as well
as a school of fruit trees, which French writers on the subject
characteristically declare to be “without a rival in the world.”

At the angle formed by the Rue Cuvier and the quay, and following the
latter, one comes to the aquarium of fresh-water plants. Willows hang
their branches over the water, full of plants and sleepy fishes. All is
shade, freshness, and tranquillity in this nook, which is the most
picturesque and charming in the whole garden.

We have now returned to the principal entrance, facing the bridge of
Austerlitz. In the immense flower-beds which ascend to the galleries,
what chiefly strikes the eye is a square devoted to the cultivation of
gaily ornamental flowers, where they seem to have more than their
accustomed splendour. This particular effect is produced simply by means
of skilful arrangement, based on those laws relating to the simultaneous
contrast of colours which it was reserved for M. Chevreuil to discover.
Each flower owes more to its neighbour than to itself. Isolated, it
would lose that brilliant beauty which is lent to it by a clever
juxtaposition.

[Illustration: THE POLAR BEAR IN THE JARDIN DES PLANTES.]

Close at hand, in the great avenue to the left, is a modest café. The
tables are ranged around the peeled trunk of an old tree, the first
acacia planted in France, some hundred years ago, by Vespasian Robin,
after whom it is named--even as a certain beetle was named after another
famous naturalist, on whom his admirers thought thus to confer the
highest conceivable degree of honour. A little farther on, in front of
the building containing the collections of geology, stand other
venerable trees. Finally one reaches, at the top of the garden and
opposite the entrance in the Rue Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, a large square
house built as the residence of Buffon, who, lodged at first in the
buildings of the galleries, had given up his apartments to the growing
collections. The name of Intendancy is still borne by this edifice. It
was here that Buffon died.

[Illustration: THE BEAR-PIT, JARDIN DES PLANTES.]

Along the street which bears his name the garden is to-day still
enclosed by the spiked iron railings which he himself caused to be
erected. They protected the garden on the side of the country; but the
country since then has retreated far away.

To come, however, to the menagerie, a noisy concert of parrots and
cockatoos forms a prelude to the show, as one advances from the side of
the amphitheatre. The birds of prey are enclosed in large cages with
iron bars. The monkeys have a “palace,” where they disport themselves in
the sunshine, to the great delight of sight-seeing crowds. The Rotunda
is devoted to animals from hot latitudes--the elephant, for instance;
the rhinoceros, and the hippopotamus. A striking peculiarity of the
female hippopotamus in the Jardin des Plantes is that she has given
birth several times to a tough-skinned baby, and always or nearly always
killed it immediately with her terrible teeth.

The carnivorous animals are confined in a series of dens. The bear is
the most beloved of all these formidable creatures. His pit is resorted
to by masses of people who regard him quite as an old acquaintance, and
call him by the name of one of his celebrated ancestors--“Martin.”

The reptile menagerie is contained in a low chamber, damp and narrow,
where these cold, creeping animals pass their lives in comparative
darkness. What to many forms the most curious spectacle in this
menagerie is the remains of a strange repast in which, some years ago,
one of the pythons indulged. This enterprising creature one fine night
swallowed the blanket which had been placed over him to keep him warm;
his digestion was excellent, but was not equal to blankets, and after a
fortnight’s indisposition he threw it up in the condition in which it is
now preserved.

In the long building which runs parallel to the Rue Cuvier are the
galleries of anatomy and of anthropology. They occupy two large rooms on
the ground floor, and the whole of the first storey round the courtyard,
known as the Courtyard of the Whale. In its centre is a fine skeleton of
an ordinary whale, and in one of the corners the skeleton of a
spermaceti whale--in French “cachalot,” which, according to a fantastic
etymologist, is derived from “cache à l’eau,” the animal being
accustomed when threatened with attack to hide in the water.

The first room in the gallery of anatomy is filled with skeletons of the
largest sea-animals. The adjoining room contains human skeletons, among
which will be remarked that of Soliman-el-Halir, the assassin of General
Kleber, put to death with frightful torture by the avenging French, who
barbarously adopted the mode of punishment of the barbarous country they
had invaded. Strange that the French, nearly a century after this
offence against humanity, should still preserve a monument to revive its
memory. To notice but one point, the finger-bones of the right hand are
wanting. The hand was burnt off before the final punishment was
applied--that of impalement, which the assassin endured for six hours
without uttering a groan.

A narrow staircase leads to the first floor, in which the ante-chamber
is full of animals’ heads. In the second room we are in the midst of
monsters, most of which formed subjects of study to the two Geoffroy
Saint-Hilaires, intent on finding immutable laws where science had
previously seen nothing but the sport and caprices of chance. “Ritta
Christina Parodi” was the name given to two heads on a single body born
at Sassari in Sardinia, March 12, 1827. The two heads lived about eight
months, one of them dying on the 20th of November, the other shortly
afterwards, but not until there had been time to make, in regard to this
strange being, some curious observations. Further on may be seen
Philomèle and Hélène, two bodies on one pair of legs. They also lived.
Finally, in the same order, are Olympe and Thérèse, joined together by
the top of the head.

In the third room are the great anthropomorphous or man-shaped apes,
arranged in an attitude not natural to them, since in nature they walk
on hands and feet, but which brings out more vividly their resemblance
to humanity. The broken teeth, the fractured limbs of these rangers of
the forests--orang-outangs, chimpanzees, and gorillas--are evidence of
their fights, their struggles, their adventurous life. The orang-outang
is a war trophy. It belonged formerly to the collection of the
Stadtholder of Holland, whence it was sent to Paris by the victorious
French army, without being claimed and sent back by the allies in 1815,
as undoubtedly would have been its fate had its history and its actual
position been known.

[Illustration: DROMEDARY IN THE JARDIN DES PLANTES.]

In the waxwork collection (eighth room) many of the anatomical
reproductions come from the château of the Duke of Orleans--known during
the Revolution as Philippe Égalité--at Chantilly. Others, executed with
rare perfection, are from Florence, always celebrated for this kind of
work. At the entrance to the ninth room are two figures, considered
marvels of ingenuity and of science in the last century, but now looked
upon as, for purposes of study, next to useless: an “arterial” man and a
“venous” man. Very curious, too, are the children’s heads, in which
skilful injections, even into the most delicate veins, have given to the
complexion the appearance of life. They have been furnished, according
to the taste of the period, with enamel eyes, and to render them
presentable to the public, each little head is enveloped in a lace cap.
In the eleventh room will be found the collection of Dr. Gall, including
the very heads on whose developments he formed his theory of localised
faculties and cerebral bumps. It may here be observed that the followers
of Gall have rendered his system questionable by giving to it in detail
a value which he attached to it only in a general way. The collection
contains, moreover, the bust of Dr. Gall himself, a cast of his head
taken after death, and his very cranium, on which may be sought the
special bump of phrenologism. Here, too, may be seen the masks of
Voltaire, Casimir Périer, François Arago, and Jean Jacques Rousseau.
This last was taken by the sculptor Houdon, at Les Charmettes, July 4,
1778--the day after Rousseau’s death. A bust of Cuvier is to be seen on
the ground floor, to which a staircase leads directly from the Gall
collection. It is the work of David d’Angers, and stands in front of
five skeletons of elephants, which seem to form for the great
comparative anatomist a guard of honour.

In the anthropological gallery, on the first floor, the visitor finds
himself on entering in front of a pleasing collection of human heads,
all severed during lifetime from the bodies to which they belonged:
those of Arabs and Kabyles, decapitated by the yataghan, and dried
beneath the African sun. This at least marks a progress since the days
when native malefactors were burnt and impaled. “Their narrow puckered
lips,” says a French writer, “exhibit their white teeth in a grin which
has been left significantly by a violent death.” Near these heads are
the skulls of the ancestors of the modern French, the Franks and the
Gauls, from whose tombs they have been taken. In this room is to be seen
a curious and picturesque ethnographical collection: a number of Russian
dolls, attired in the European, Asiatic, and American costumes of the
various nationalities included in the vast empire of the Tsar. In the
eighth room the ancient Peruvian mummies are well worth a glance. So,
too, are the strange little human heads prepared by this now extinct
race. From the head that was to be preserved the bones were first
removed. Then the skin was dried, which in contracting kept its original
shape. This, however much diminished, was still preserved. The head,
indeed, may have shrunk to the size of one’s fist: the proportions are
still the same, except that the hair is, by comparison, denser and in a
greater mass. In the next room is a cast of a once well-known Hottentot
woman who died in Paris, where she went under the name of the “Hottentot
Venus.”

On the first floor to the left are two large rooms full of reptiles and
fish. In these historic rooms Louis XV. placed the fine statue of Buffon
which is still there, and beneath which may be read the famous
inscription, which time has not falsified: “_Majestati naturæ par
ingenium_.” The majesty of Buffon’s genius shows itself, it has been
said, in his very style: an idea which may have been suggested by his
famous saying: “_Le style est l’homme même_”--and not “_Le style c’est
l’homme_,” as the phrase is generally quoted. All that Buffon meant, and
all that Buffon said, was that a writer’s facts, and even his arguments
and thoughts, are or may be made common property, whereas his manner of
expressing himself is exclusively his own. The idea that an author’s
personality necessarily reveals itself in his writings is contrary to
experience, few authors, indeed, exhibiting the same character on paper
as in ordinary life.

To return for one moment to the garden, and to those exotics which are
cultivated with so much success in the Parisian climate. The most
important of these--at least, in a commercial sense--is the
tobacco-plant, now naturalised over nearly the whole of France.

The tobacco-factory of Paris, where so much of the native as well as
foreign tobacco-leaf is prepared, consists of large buildings, five
storeys high, situated between the Quai d’Orsay, the Rue de
l’Université, the Rue Saint-Jean, and the Rue de la Boucherie des
Invalides. The large gate in the Rue Saint-Jean affords entrance to
tobaccos coming from all parts of the globe, of which the qualities have
been ascertained beforehand by experts buying on samples which are
preserved for comparison with each consignment as it arrives. The great
national factory receives from the United States--Virginia, for
instance, Kentucky, and Maryland--large shipments of tobacco packed in
casks; from South America vast quantities in bales composed of skins.
Java, too, and Manilla in the Pacific Ocean, Macedonia, Egypt, Greece,
Algeria, Hungary, Holland, and finally France itself, contribute their
share.

The anti-smokers of France naturally look with horror on the huge
tobacco factory of their metropolis; and more than a century ago Valmont
Bomare wrote the following lament: “I wish I had never known that in
1750 they estimated that Maryland and Virginia consigned each year more
than a hundred million casks of tobacco to the English, who only
consumed about half of it, exporting the rest to France, and thereby
enriching themselves annually to the amount of nine million two hundred
thousand francs.”

At present nineteen departments of France produce some fifty million
pounds of tobacco, worth twenty million francs. The native tobacco
growths are restricted by the often beneficial interference of the
administration, which has to be consulted by growers in choosing the
land for cultivation, and which even prescribes the varieties of tobacco
to be grown.

[Illustration: LLAMA IN THE JARDIN DES PLANTES.]

The sale of tobacco is a monopoly in France, the shop-keeping
tobacconists being really nothing more than Government agents for the
distribution of cigars, cigarettes, tobacco, and snuff. The tenancy of a
tobacconist’s shop is a privilege conferred by the Government sometimes
on widows and orphans whose husbands or fathers have deserved well of
the state, sometimes on less meritorious persons who have rendered
services at elections, or have in some other way earned the goodwill of
the Government or of Government agents.

All tobacco manufactories are Government property; and it was as such
that the tobacco manufactory of Dieppe was seized in 1870 by the
Prussians when they occupied that town. They declared their intention of
burning it--but only as a menace; and they obligingly allowed it to be
ransomed on payment of 75,000 francs.



CHAPTER XXII.

SOME HISTORICAL BUILDINGS.

Abailard and Héloise--Fulbert’s House in the Rue des Chantres--The
Philip Augustus Towers--The Hôtel Barbette--The Hôtel de Sens.


[Illustration: RUE DES CHANTRES, LOOKING TOWARDS NOTRE DAME.]

“To look for history in the streets of Paris,” said M. Edouard Fournier,
some twenty-five years ago, “when so much of the city has been
destroyed, especially during the last ten years, is to arrive rather
late in the field; it is like harvesting after the gleaners, picking up
blades of grass instead of ears of corn.” And this, from the author of
“L’Esprit dans l’Histoire” and of “Le Vieux-Neuf,” concerning whom Jules
Janin once wrote: “_Cet homme sait tout; il ne sait que cela; mais il le
sait bien_.” Where Edouard Fournier despaired of finding anything it
would be vain to seek for much. Something, however, may, even by
following in his footsteps, yet be gleaned in the very field which he
regards as bare. In the socalled “city”--the germ of that capital to
which the name of Paris is now given--may still be seen the house in the
Rue des Chantres which passes for that of the odious Fulbert, villain of
the love story of Abailard and Héloise. That of Abailard, which was on
the other side of the street, was pulled down early in 1849. Its final
association was with a law-suit, brought by lodgers in the house against
the proprietor, who, as they alleged, had dispossessed them without due
notice. The former abode of Fulbert, the terrible uncle of Héloise, must
itself be on the point of disappearing, even if it has not been already
demolished. The house of Abailard was at one time connected by a narrow
bridge with the house where the unnatural Fulbert dwelt with his
charming niece. But after the separation of the lovers their respective
houses were no longer to remain united, and the stone bridge which
joined them together--like the Bridge of Sighs of the Venetian Palace
and Prison--soon fell into ruins. Two medallions, in which their
features were said to be reproduced, formed the last record of their
loves. These have been reproduced above the ground-floor of the new
house on the Quai Napoleon, with the famous distich: “_Abailard,
Héloise, habitèrent ces lieux_,” etc. Those who love history for its
romance, those who have been touched by the tale of the lovers, will
gaze with interest on these two faces; and if they are not satisfied
they may go to Père Lachaise to continue their devotions in presence of
the monument to their memory. If, however, they should have consulted M.
Edouard Fournier beforehand, they will have been warned that the
medallions of the Quai Napoleon and the statues of the tomb are anything
but authentic. “The medallions,” says this unerring critic, “in costumes
of the time of Henry IV. represent lovers of the twelfth century. As to
the statues, M. de Guilhermy has already shown that the one of Héloise
was seen until the time of the Revolution on the tomb of the Dorman
family in the chapel of the Beauvais College, Rue Jean de Beauvais. The
statue of Abailard is probably of equal authenticity.”

If, to pursue the subject historically, we were to look for remains of
the great wall with innumerable towers which Philip Augustus built
before his departure for the Crusades, in order not to leave his dear
city of Paris without defence, we should find it difficult to discover
even traces; though the most imposing of the towers were destroyed not
more than twenty or thirty years ago. They were brought to light by
preceding demolitions, themselves in turn to be laid in ruins. At the
foot of one of these towers a treasure, dating from Gallo-Roman times,
was dug up. It was valued, according to the weight of the gold, at
30,000 francs, though its artistic and historical worth was a hundred
times greater. Most of the medals found their way to England. In the
Cour de Rouen, close to the Passage du Commerce, is, or was until
lately, to be seen a well-preserved fragment of a Philip Augustus tower,
standing, half-smothered with ivy, on a piece of wall, broad enough to
serve as terrace to the adjoining house, where a girls’ school had been
established. “It is a joyful sight,” says M. Edouard Fournier, “to see
children of the present day leaping and bounding on this remnant of
antiquity.” Further on, in the Rue Clovis--which the reader may remember
as figuring in Eugène Sue’s “Wandering Jew”--is another relic of this
same wall. In the Rue Dauphine, at the back of the house numbered 34, is
a tower almost in its original form; and close by, in the Rue Guénégaud,
the body of another, which stood on the edge of the wall that from this
point went on in a straight line to the celebrated Tour de Nesle. The
ruined tower of the Rue Guénégaud served some years ago as background to
a blacksmith’s forge, whose flames cast a lurid light on this obscure
reminder of a past age.

[Illustration: SITE OF THE HOUSE OF ABAILARD AND HÉLOISE, RUE DES
CHANTRES.]

Passing to the other side of the water (where our subject inevitably
leads us, though it is on the left bank that Paris antiquities are
chiefly to be sought), we find several houses ancient themselves, or at
least closely connected with ancient associations. In the former Rue des
Jardins Saint-Paul--now Rue Charlemagne--where Rabelais died, and where
Molière passed the first years of his dramatic apprenticeship, may be
seen, in the courtyard of the neighbouring barracks, remains of one of
the two towers which Charles X. gave in 1485 to the nuns of the Ave
Maria convent, whose cloister the barracks have now replaced. At No. 20
of the Rue Rambuteau some twenty metres of the old wall, here in the
form of a terrace, are to be found; and finally, in the very heart of
Paris, in the Rue Jean Jacques Rousseau, where the General Post Office
is established, is preserved at the back of No. 12 a tower which has
still two-thirds of its original height. It stands twenty-four feet
above the soil. In its entirety it was, like all the other towers,
thirty-nine feet high.

These remains of the old girdle-wall, whose existence by many persons is
scarcely suspected, are all that survives of the constructions of the
sixteenth century. The thirteenth is still more imperfectly represented;
though some forty years ago might be seen in the quarter of
Saint-Marcel, at some paces from the river Bièvre, substantial remains
of one of the lodges of St. Louis.

In the Rue des Gobelins and the Rue des Marmousets are still extant
relics, in the shape of a façade and the fragment of a wall, of the
royal lodge where Queen Blanche listened beneath the willows of the
Bièvre to the verses of Thibault de Champagne; where Charles VI. went
mad one terrible night, which, beginning with a masquerade, ended with
a conflagration; where Francis I. had secret rendezvous, to which
playful reference is sometimes made in the pages of Rabelais.

In the Rue Vieille du Temple, at the corner of the Rue des Francs
Bourgeois, stands a graceful turret--bright relic of that sombre Hôtel
Barbette which the Duke of Orleans, brother of Charles VI., was just
leaving when he was killed at the very door by the followers of John the
Fearless. A lamp, whose light was never to be extinguished, was placed
there by one of the assassins, in expiation of the crime. Tradition says
that “la belle Ferronnière” lived close by, and that it was by the light
of the lamp, fixed beneath the turret, that the husband saw Francis I.
escape one night from his wife’s house.

After adorning a feudal mansion, subsequently to be transformed into the
rich abode of a financier of the time of Louis XIV., what has this
turret now become? Without losing anything of its graceful exterior, not
even the grating, so finely worked, of its little window, it marks the
corner of the bedroom occupied by the grocer who has his shop below!

[Illustration: RUE DES CHANTRES, LOOKING TOWARDS THE QUAI.]

John the Fearless was not troubled by the remorse experienced by his
accomplice, whose repentance was for ever to be proclaimed by his votive
lamp. The blow having been struck, his only thought was to guard against
the consequences. Withdrawing to the Hôtel d’Artois, which afterwards
took from him the name of the Hôtel de Bourgogne, he there constructed a
stone room, or what was then called a donjon--not to be confounded with
the English word obviously derived from it. The little fortress of John
the Fearless was solidly built, for it exists even to this day. The
square tower, at least eighty feet high, is indeed in perfect condition.
Its walls are still crenellated, and it has lost nothing of its original
physiognomy, except as regards the roof with which it has been covered
in.

An old building of very different character is the house of Nicholas
Flamel, at No. 50, Rue Montmorency, near the Rue Saint-Martin. Just
above the ground floor a touching inscription in Gothic characters may
still be read, from which it appears that “poor labouring men and women
dwelling beneath the porch of this house,” said the Paternoster and the
Ave Maria for the dead. This was the sole condition of the hospitality
extended to them by Flamel. He had ideas on the subject of property
which can never have been widely spread in any age, and which are
certainly not entertained in the present day. He let out his numerous
houses in such a way, that with the money gained from lodgers on the
lower floors he supported lodgers without means on the upper ones. “Gens
de mestier,” says Guillebert de Metz, “demouroient en bas, et du loyer
qu’ils payoient estoient soutenus povres laboureurs en hault.”

Another historic house, in the very centre of what may still be looked
upon as mediæval Paris, the Hôtel de Sens, stands in an open space
enclosed by the Rues Figuier, de la Mortellerie, du Fauconnier, and des
Barrés; in an admirable position, that is to say, and at two paces from
the ancient Hôtel Saint-Paul. John the Good, after his imprisonment in
London, lived there for some time as the guest of the Archbishop of
Sens. Charles V. attached more value to it, for in 1369 he purchased
it, and for some time it was only an adjunct to the Hôtel Saint-Paul.
Towards the middle of the fifteenth century it reverted to the
Archbishop of Sens, Tristan de Salazar, who had it rebuilt in the form
it still preserves, with the exception of the embellishments added by
the famous Duprat, one of his successors.

[Illustration: PORTION OF THE FAÇADE, MUSÉE CARNAVALET.]

Under Henri IV. it was the abode of La Reine Margot, as Marguerite de
Valois, the king’s divorced wife, was popularly called. “Queen Venus,”
as will afterwards be seen, was another of her familiar names. This
legendary heroine of the Tour de Nesle had scarcely taken possession of
her new mansion, in August, 1605, when a placard was affixed to her
door, inscribed with a quatrain in which her licentious life was
satirised. The evil reputation brought to the house by Queen Margot
remained attached to it as long as she lived there. In a previous sketch
of the locality the story has already been told of the tragic event
which caused Queen Margot to abandon the Hôtel de Sens for ever. She had
been there scarcely a year when one of her pages, whose professions of
love she had accepted, finding another page preferred to him, shot his
rival almost beneath the queen’s eyes. Marguerite’s cry for vengeance,
her offer of her own garter to anyone who would use it to strangle the
assassin, his arrest, and her vow neither to eat nor drink until he had
been executed, have already been told. Two days after (or, as some
authorities have it, only one) the page Vermond, who had fled but was
duly captured, lost his head beneath the axe of the executioner, when
Queen Margot fainted away, and, on recovering herself, left the place
for ever.

She had scarcely quitted Paris when this murder of her lover before her
door and the speedy gratification of her desire for vengeance on the
assassin were thus set forth in verses sung freely in the public
streets:--

    _La Royne Vénus demi-morte_
    _De voir mourir devant sa porte_
    _Son Adonis, son cher Amour,_
    _Pour vengeance a devants a face_
    _Fait défaire en la mesme place_
    _L’assassin presque au mesme jour_.

The Hôtel de Torpane, in the Rue de Bernardins, was the mansion of the
Bignon family, which has produced so many illustrious men in literature
and in law. It was demolished in 1830, but remains of it still subsist.
Some years ago a stone, bearing the motto of the Bignon family--“_Multa
renascentur_”--was found (what irony!) in the midst of the ruins.
Nothing of a fallen house lives again except, perhaps, certain ornaments
which, like the sculpture of the Hôtel de Tortonne, are carried
elsewhere--in this particular case, to a back room in the École des
Beaux-Arts. The statues which once adorned the Hôtel de Torpane are
said--but probably without foundation--to be from the hand of Jean
Goujon.

Mention has already been made of the Hôtel Carnavalet, where the genius
of Jean Goujon may really be studied. It owes its name to the widow of
M. Kernevenoy, whose Breton name had become softened into that of
Carnavalet, and who in his lifetime had been the worthy friend of
Ronsard and of Brantôme. Madame “Carnavalet” bought the house for
herself and her son. She maintained it in its original beauty, which it
was impossible to increase. She did, however, add some ornaments,
especially the sculptured masks which figure here and there on the
façade, and which, according to the ingenious idea of M. Fournier, may
have been intended to suggest, through the “Carnival,” her husband’s
family name.



CHAPTER XXIII.

THE MONT-DE-PIÉTÉ.

“Uncle” and “Aunt”--Organisation of the Mont-de-Piété--Its Various
Branches--Its Warehouses and Sale-rooms.


French idioms, and particularly slang ones, are seldom translatable into
English. The cant Parisian word, however, for a pawnbroker bears quite a
comic resemblance to the word employed in London. The medical student of
our metropolis, when he is at low water, takes his watch to his “uncle.”
The medical student of Paris resorts, under like circumstances, to his
“aunt.” Neither would think of employing the dignified historical word
used by the student of Brussels, who, as if mindful of the pawnbroker’s
origin, calls him “the Lombard.”

The English student speaks of the unfortunate watch in question as being
“up the spout”; the Parisian declares that his is “on the nail”--the
idea apparently being that the chronometer is “hung up” until more
prosperous days.

The great pawnbroking establishment, or Mont-de-Piété, of Paris, is
situated in the Rue des Blancs Manteaux, with a principal branch office
in the Rue Bonaparte; but it may be interesting meanwhile to glance at
those minor establishments which are scattered over the whole of the
French capital. Like their counterparts in London, they excite in the
philosophic beholder a melancholy curiosity, above all in the poorer
quarters, where dire necessity compels the levying of those loans which,
in more fashionable parts, are the result of an extravagant life.

The Paris pawnshop has the aspect of quite an ordinary house, and
nothing would particularly attract to it the attention of an
observer--not even the incessant stream of its visitors in and out--were
it not that these wear a suspiciously stealthy air as they enter or quit
the place; a sort of shame on their arrival and an uneasy haste at their
departure.

It is not, as a rule, necessary for the student of human life, who
wishes to see what occurs within a Paris pawnshop, to pledge or redeem
anything himself; the crowd is so large that the absence of his parcel
will be unperceived, and everyone is so intent on his or her own errand
that not a glance, probably, will be bestowed upon him. “How much will
you lend me on this?”--such is the absorbing thought, the sole
preoccupation, which deprives the visitors of all curiosity concerning
what is around them.

[Illustration: THE OPERA HOUSE.]

Entering one of these loan offices, a peculiar odour--which a French
writer with a delicate nose has described as something between the smell
of a barrack and that of a hospital--gives the visitor his first
impression of the place. Scrupulously clean as the depôt is kept, the
air is to some extent affected by the malodorous parcels brought in by
the customers. Even the frequent opening of the doors scarcely relieves
the atmosphere, which is characterised by that most unbearable of all
atmospheric qualities--stuffiness. But the heroic student of life,
bent on observation, fortifies his nose by the aid of philosophy; and
instead of betaking himself to flight, sits down on one of the benches
ranged round the room and affects to await his turn. This room is
divided into two by a partition fitted with doors, one part
accommodating the public, the other being reserved for the employés. The
public compartment is generally very sombre, with no other light than
that which steals through chance apertures: the shopmen’s compartment is
thoroughly illuminated. The sun has been accused by a French writer of
flinging his beams into these pawnshops in order to reveal some of the
most lamentable scenes and acts of human life. But, on the other hand,
the assistants require a good light to examine the miscellaneous
articles submitted to their appraisement.

One curious feature is the silence which reigns in these establishments.
The customers seem to have no tongues, and the money-lenders, by no
means prodigal of words, communicate with their clients chiefly by looks
and gestures. After all, there is little need for conversation, the
business of every visitor being ostensible, and the employés having
simply to say that they will lend such and such a sum on the article
proposed, or--what sickens the heart of some poor wretches who wish to
raise the price of a loaf of bread or a bundle of firewood--that they
will lend nothing on a worthless rag.

[Illustration: ENTRANCE TO THE MONT-DE-PIÉTÉ, CHAUSSÉE D’ANTIN.]

To some extent the pawnbroking assistant may be said to control the
destinies of the impecunious public. If he refuses to lend on this
article or that, some merchant will be unable to redeem his honour and
his promissory note, some lover will be unable to keep his appointment
with the girl of his heart, some comedian will not make his début, some
lady of fashion will not give her soirée, and some needy mother will
have to send her family supperless to bed. Here behind this partition
there is no distinction of class. The highest and the lowest ranks of
Parisian society are brought together--a duchess by the side of a
flower-girl, an artist by the side of an artisan. Pride and humility are
here united. Aristocrats, whose souls revolt at the thought of
borrowing, are dragged to the place by necessity, and have to wait, like
the rest, till the assistant is at leisure to inspect their rings and
their diamonds, their silks and their satins.

“For anyone who knows how to observe and divine,” says M. Alfred Delvau,
“the public of a loan office is very interesting. You enter mentally
into the existences of all those widely different characters, dragged
here by such opposite causes, and you leave the place smiling sometimes,
but sad nearly always. Misery--even smiling misery--has nothing of
gaiety; and it is Misery, or her shame-faced sister Want, who drives
hither that crowd of people differing so greatly from one another by
their costume, age, sex, and position.

“First of all, with his elbows resting on the counter, facing the
commissionaire--sworn appraiser of all those rubbish heaps which the
owners wish to turn into gold--lounges a fellow who turns his back on us
and lets us see, beneath his frayed trouser-ends, a pair of naked feet
enclosed in down-at-heel shoes. He comes to pledge his mattress--the
last, the supreme resource!--that mattress which seems to have lost half
its stuffing; or some workman’s tools, which do not look sorry to rest a
little. By his side, and by way of contrast, stands, with brazen air, a
big red-faced woman, red-haired, red-shawled, with a mauve silk dress
and ruffles of white lace, whom I sometimes meet on the footway of the
Rue des Martyrs, and who personifies a certain category of women--the
last category. What does she come to pledge?--her heart? That has long
since wandered away. Her virtue? That has followed her heart. Her wit?
She never had any. What then? Some jewel, without doubt--the last
witness of a last _liaison_. Her ear is at this moment bereft of the
twenty-five francs’ worth of gold which hung in it just now.

“On the wooden bench let into the wall are other persons: two women of
the lower orders, who are estimating beforehand the borrowing value of
the linen they are going to pledge, while the little daughter of one of
them is heedlessly gnawing an apple; a young girl in black, her head
bare, like that of the red woman who has just gone, but more decently
and poorly clad; an Arthur of the Reine Blanche--his hat tilted over his
ear, his hands in his pockets, and looking at the small dog playing at
his feet, rather than look at nothing; then men and women of the
inferior classes with their children, talking about the hard times and
the high rents; then placid citizens; then careworn flower-girls; then
other people more or less interesting--but always interested. The man
who pledges his mattress, the woman who pledges her linen, the
sempstress who pledges her dress, feel no doubt a sharp pang in taking
leave of objects so indispensable; but that is as nothing compared with
the poignant anguish of the man who, for food, or the woman who, to feed
her child, is obliged to part with love tokens or family jewels, as
sacred as the vases of a church: the ancestral watch which has marked so
many hours of joy and pain; the locket enclosing that lock of hair; the
bracelet of that dead mistress who will never die in the heart of him
she has left for ever; the ring given by that lover who still lives but
who is for ever dead to the woman he has deserted.

“It is the physiognomy of the borrowers that I have just been sketching,
of those wretches of all ranks, who are forced by some dire necessity,
whether accidental or normal, to come and pledge their clothes or their
jewels; to exhaust--in order not to die of hunger or to meet an overdue
debt--the resources which are still at their disposal. Yet, by the side
of these careworn, despairing faces, inscribed with poignant melancholy,
or, in some cases, resignation, are the radiant faces of those who have
come to redeem their jewels and their clothes. These are not silent like
the rest. They do not glide in, like furtive shadows amongst other
shadows. You hear them coming before you see them: they ascend the steps
with tremendous haste. It is a question of arriving before the shop is
closed, for it is Saturday, the morrow is Sunday, and they have come up
panting like a pair of forge-bellows.

“There is a run of business on Saturday night, and the assistants behind
the counter, although they, too, love Sunday with the repose it brings,
almost dread it as being preceded by such a rush of work. And these
people who come to redeem are not so easy to manage as the poor wretches
who pledge, the latter being mild and patient, full of anguish though
they are; the former noisy, exacting, and sometimes insolent. The
relationship is changed, in fact. One set come to demand something,
almost an act of charity--for that is the nature of the request,
although the pledge is worth more than the loan granted. The other set
come to make what is almost a gift; for the pledge they withdraw is not
always worth the price that has been estimated, and if they did not
withdraw it the commissionaire would perhaps lose something on it,
instead of gaining. You see the difference. And then, again, it is
usually men who pledge and women who redeem. In pledging, a signature is
required; a certificate alone suffices for the redemption. I leave you
to imagine the behaviour of those gossips, proud of “unhooking” from the
accursed “nail” the dress or the jacket which has hung there six months,
and which is now as indispensable for going to the dance or the
promenade as it was useless six months since, when it was a question of
procuring a dinner or paying for a bed.”

[Illustration: THE JEWELLERY STORES, RUE DES BLANCS MANTEAUX.]

The Parisian pawnbroker, being simply a Government official, differs
necessarily from the pawnbroker of London. The latter is the most
independent and insolent of all shopkeepers. He makes very little
distinction between those who come to pledge and those who come to
redeem. If his Saturday-night customers who come to take their things
out of pawn were to give themselves such airs as the Parisian
pledge-redeemers already described, he would insult them to their face,
and keep them waiting till they had learnt better manners. He feels
indebted to no one. He does not seek regular customers, for he knows
that the stream of the impecunious will never cease to flow into his
shop, that if one does not come another will, and that the people who
come to redeem are seriously in want of their property, and must pay him
the amount of the loan and interest no matter whether he is bearish or
polite.

The branch establishments, with their commissionaires, having been
spoken of, let us now glance at the great Mont-de-Piété of Paris,
situated in the Rue des Blancs Manteaux. This central establishment
dates from the reign of Louis XVI., who founded it by letters patent in
1777. The work of money-lending was at once commenced, but not in the
buildings specially constructed in the Rue des Blancs Manteaux, beside
the convent of the Benedictines of Saint-Maur, since these buildings
were not completed until 1786. It is interesting to follow the different
phases through which this vast establishment of public utility, designed
to “put an end to the abuses of usury,” has passed, until now it
receives upwards of twenty-five million pledges annually. That these
pledges present an inconceivably great variety of objects may well be
supposed. On this subject M. Blaize, author of the “Traité des
Monts-de-Piété,” has written descriptively enough as follows:--“Let us
stop at the first floor. This is the quarter of the aristocracy; the
Faubourg Saint-Germain, the Chaussée d’Antin of our borrowers. Here are
the first and second divisions--those of the “jewels”--where the most
precious objects are deposited. I open the ‘four-figure cupboards’--such
is the name we give to those cupboards of iron which contain pledges on
which a thousand francs or more have been advanced. Great Heaven! what
riches! Sparkling sprays, strings of diamonds, trinkets calculated to
turn the heads of duchesses! Silver services fit to adorn the table of a
king! In these regions of want--opulent want and necessitous want--one’s
eyes must not see everything nor one’s ears listen to everything: let us
pass on. We take our way through the passages which are bordered on each
side with wealth-laden shelves. Look at those thousands of watches,
chains, bracelets, jewels of every kind; that countless mass of objects
of art, of luxury, of utility, of vanity, or of coquetry.

[Illustration: IN THE RUE CAPRON BRANCH OF THE MONT-DE-PIÉTÉ.]

“We are now on the second floor. Here commences the ordinary goods
department. The floor bends beneath the weight of the million pledges
which are taken in every year. Here are ranged, in admirable order,
dresses, coats, shirts, table-cloths, blankets, and indeed every object
of household use or of the toilet; vestments of silks or of rags; books;
tools. Let us explore the next two storeys. The same arrangements, the
same symmetry: cases filled with boxes, bandboxes, and parcels. The
walls of the staircases are covered with pictures, mirrors, metronomes,
which have not found a place in the interior of the divisions. Let us go
higher still. We are now in the doleful city, in the region of sorrow
and want. Look at those piles of mattresses so highly packed. They are
the very last tribute of misery, which, after being despoiled of its
vestments, has given us its last pledge, and which sleeps on a heap of
straw, where shiver, in a fetid attic, around an emaciated mother,
children blue with cold, with wasted cheeks, hollow eyes, and a smile
sad and sweet. Poor dear little creatures! In order to live, they ask
for nothing but a little air and bread! Let us descend to the ground
floor.

[Illustration: THE SALE-ROOM OF THE MONT-DE-PIÉTÉ, RUE DES BLANCS
MANTEAUX.]

“The warehouses are used for new merchandise, such as linen, cloth,
muslins, mirrors of large dimensions, bronze and copper articles, etc.
Things which are too heavy to be carried above, such as vices, anvils,
and cauldrons, occupy a considerable space below. Do not let us forget
the fountain warehouse. At the end of the autumn the cocoa-hawkers bring
us their fountains and exchange them for a sum which, small as it is,
enables them to follow the little industries by which they are able to
live on through the winter.... At the first sunshine of the spring they
come to redeem the pledge they have left with us, and, with their little
bell in their hand, gaily betake themselves once more to the Champs
Élysées and the boulevards.

“Each article bears a ticket, each ticket an even number if it is a
pledge, an uneven number if it is a renewal. As often as an article is
renewed, a fresh ticket is sewn over that of the preceding year (you can
count ten on this particular pledge--nine renewals, that is to say). The
loan is only six francs--six francs! But it is a fortune to those whose
work does not even suffice for the wants of the day. Listen to a simple
and touching story. Some years ago one of our predecessors noticed a
little packet which had upon it a whole series of renewal-tickets, and
on which but three francs had been lent. He wrote to the borrower: a
woman presented herself in reply. ‘Why,’ said he, ‘do you not redeem
this pledge?’ ‘I am too poor,’ was the answer. ‘You attach a great
value, then, to this article?’ ‘Ah, sir, it is all that remains to me of
my mother.’ The director gave her back the packet, which contained an
old-fashioned petticoat. The poor woman bore away this treasure of
filial piety with tears of joy. Instances of this kind are by no means
rare, and they prove that if indiscretion and misconduct bring some
borrowers to the Mont-de-Piété, the greater number are impelled thither
by causes which are highly honourable. The history of many a pledge is a
lamentable page in the drama of human life, so full of nameless miseries
and unknown misfortunes. The whole of the property does not return to
its owners; at least six per cent. does not. What efforts are made to
prevent this or that article from falling into the hands of the brokers,
who will sell it for a mere trifle at the sale-rooms! On the 26th of
June, 1849, a gold watch was sold which had been pledged on the 8th of
January, 1817, for eighty francs. It had been renewed for the last time
on the 8th of December, 1847. The borrower, who had not been able to
redeem it, had successively paid 20 francs 50 centimes for the right of
renewal. We made inquiries for him. He was dead. What a mystery of
tenderness was implied in so long a constancy!”



CHAPTER XXIV.

PARIS MARKETS.

The Halles-Centrales--The Cattle Markets--Agriculture in France--The
French Peasant.


The Panthéon, standing on the summit of the mountain of
Sainte-Geneviève, and the Luxemburg Palace, surrounded by the galleries
and the garden of the same name, dominate the rest of the left bank,
which has still, however, one salient point in the Hôtel des Invalides.
To the left of the Luxemburg Garden, on the Boulevard Saint-Michel,
stands the National School of Mines, established in the house which
formerly belonged to a religious order. Here, as in so many other of the
public establishments of France, the instruction is gratuitous, under
the direction of an inspector-general and thirteen professors. The
museum contains all kinds of interesting geological and mineralogical
specimens, together with a library of 30,000 volumes, which, like the
museum, is open to the public.

The Rue de Tournon--to pass from the garden to the front of the
palace--has already been mentioned in connection with that Hôtel de
l’Empereur Joseph at which Joseph II., visiting his sister Marie
Antoinette, elected to stay in preference to putting up at one of the
royal palaces. The street owes its name to François de Tournon,
cardinal-ambassador under Francis I. At that time the land through which
the street was afterwards to run was the site of a large horse market, a
sort of annex to the Marché Saint-Germain, and familiarly known as the
Muddy Meadow--“le Pré crotté.” Very different were the Paris markets of
those days from the system of markets now so perfectly organised. At
present, when Paris has expanded so far beyond its ancient “barriers”
that it has become one of the greatest cities in the world, the
provisioning of its population is a question of the first importance.
For breakfast, as for subsequent meals, the French metropolis requires a
stupendous quantity of food, which must arrive regularly at a fixed
hour, and be delivered promptly at the doors of the numberless beings
whose mouths are to be filled.

At some hours before dawn a large number of market-gardeners and other
cultivators from the vicinity of Paris enter the city and converge
towards the same point. Enormous and noisy drays at the same time bring
in to this common centre the consignments of edible produce which arrive
by rail daily from the provinces or abroad.

The great market which receives all these goods, known as the
Halles-Centrales, is situated opposite the beautiful church of
Saint-Eustache, at the end of the Rues Coquillière, Montmartre,
Montorgeuil, and Rambuteau. This immense and elegant building,
constructed entirely of bricks and iron, consists of twelve pavilions,
which shelter the sale of the various descriptions of goods. Each
pavilion has its speciality. One is a wholesale, another a retail
meat-market, a third is devoted to fish, a fourth to eggs and butter,
and so on.

Markets are held in various parts of the city; but most of them are fed
by the Central Market. Many of them recall the Central Market by the
light character of the architecture in brick and iron. Two great
cattle-markets are established at Sceaux and at Poissy, and a smaller
one at La Chapelle Saint-Denis, connected with the Marché de la
Villette, built with the view of absorbing all the smaller meat-markets.

Unlike England, France, in the matter of agricultural products, is
self-sufficing. Two-thirds of the population are occupied, as
proprietors, farmers, or labourers, with the cultivation of the soil. In
England the agricultural classes represent only one-third of the
population. In France there are nine millions of small landowners with a
slight proportion of large ones; in England the land is in the
possession of comparatively few persons. Up to the time of the
Revolution the number of proprietors in France did not go beyond 30,000,
and the peasantry at that period were in a state of utter poverty, the
actual cultivators receiving, according to Alison, only a twelfth part
of the produce for their share. “The people’s habitations,” wrote Arthur
Young, “are miserable heaps of dirt--no glass, no air; the women and
children are in rags--no shoes, no stockings. The proprietors of these
badly cultivated lands, all absentees, were worshipping the king at
Versailles in the most abject and servile manner, spending their scanty
income and getting into scandalous debt.” “The agricultural population,”
he says elsewhere, “are 76 per cent. worse fed and worse clad than in
England. Impossible to have an idea of the animals who served us at
table, called women by courtesy. In reality they are walking dunghills,
without stockings, shoes, or sabots.”

All this was changed by the Revolution, when immense numbers of tenants
became proprietors of the land they had previously cultivated, as serfs,
for their masters. The progress from destitution to comfort was effected
in less than twenty years, and since then the condition of the peasantry
has been constantly improving. Under the system of small ownerships
agriculture, as an art, may not be brought to the highest possible pitch
of perfection, but the agriculturists thrive and are happy. France is
not a corn-exporting country; and it is quite possible that under a
system of large estates the sum of her agricultural produce might be
greater than it really is. The peasants, however, under the system of
“la petite culture” produce more butter and their fowls more eggs than
they need for their own consumption or for sale in France. Accordingly
great quantities of eggs and butter are sent to England, France’s best
customer for produce of this kind.

The small proprietors, too, keep rabbits and pigeons, many of which find
their way not only to the Paris markets but to England. A century ago,
until the time of the Revolution, the landholding aristocracy had alone
the right of shooting rabbits and keeping pigeons. “The birds,” says M.
Nottelle, writing on this subject, “ate the seed of the poor peasants in
the neighbourhood and the rabbits ate the corn when it was green. These
exclusive privileges were abolished on the celebrated night of the 4th
of August, 1789.” Yet it should always be remembered that the noble
proprietors gave up their exclusive privileges--doubtless under the
influence of the Revolution, but, nevertheless, as a matter of fact--of
their own accord. Now everyone can keep pigeons; but the owners are
ordered by the mayor to keep them in the pigeon-house during seed-time.
If they are allowed to fly at this period they are considered as game,
and may be shot. The owner, moreover, is fined. Occasionally in the
French market frogs are to be seen, and it is quite possible that in the
days before the Revolution the epithet “frog-eating” could be more fitly
applied to the generality of Frenchmen than it can now, when the thighs
of frogs are only to be met with at certain restaurants, where they are
served, equally with snails, as a rare delicacy.

It has been seen that before 1789 the French peasants were poor and
miserable. Arthur Young’s descriptions of them have been quoted often
enough. A century earlier than Arthur Young, La Bruyère, author of “Les
Caractères,” spoke of them as looking like ferocious animals. “The men
and women,” he continued, “are meagre, dark-looking objects, their dirty
rags scarcely covering them, and retiring at night into filthy dens or
hovels.” It is possible, then, as M. Nottelle, in his unpretentious but
interesting and instructive little book on the French peasantry since
the Revolution, declares, that several millions of peasants were obliged
to live on roots. “No doubt,” he adds, “they ate frogs, though it took
much time to get a decent dish of them. But time was not a great object
to these poor famished slaves. From this, most likely, Shakespeare
called the French ‘frog-eaters,’ and foreigners have come to the
conclusion that many of the French feed mostly on frogs. It is not easy,
however, to exist on frogs, which are too dear to be eaten by the
generality of people.”

[Illustration: RUE DE TOURNON, WITH THE FAÇADE OF THE SENATE HOUSE.]

It is said, too, that frogs are in favour with the devout, for they may
be eaten as fish on fast days. Not only frogs but also snails are to be
seen exhibited for sale in some of the Paris markets. It may be that in
the days when the unhappy French peasantry were on the verge of
starvation they found themselves reduced to a disgusting diet of snails
and even slugs. However that may have been, the only snail eaten by the
French at the present day, and the only kind of snail to be seen in the
Paris markets, is the “escargot,” in its streaked whity-brown shell. The
escargot is found chiefly in the wine countries, especially Burgundy,
where it feeds on the leaves of the vine. One of the few places in Paris
where snails and frogs used to be sold, cooked, no doubt in perfection,
is or was the famous restaurant in the “New Street of the Little
Fields”--otherwise Rue Neuve des Petits Champs--which Thackeray
celebrated in his ballad on the subject of Bouillabaisse.

Many interesting anecdotes of the French peasants are told by a writer
from whom I have recently quoted. Living in the midst of their property,
with their domestic animals around them, they become very much attached
to their cattle, not sentimentally but by reason of the beasts’ market
value. A story is told of a farmer who sent to the cattle-show a fat
pig, that obtained a medal which he afterwards wore with great pride as
though he himself had carried it off. The peasant’s love of his cow
surpasses even his affection for his pig. A peasant proprietor lamented
the loss of one of his cows to such an extent that a friend at last said
to him: “If you had lost your wife your grief could scarcely be
greater.” “Maybe,” he replied; “for many of the farmers about here would
gladly give me their daughter in marriage, while none of them would give
me a cow.” In one of Pierre Dupont’s songs this preference on the part
of the peasant of the cow to the wife finds full expression. The cow, it
is true, becomes in the poet’s lines an ox; but cows, like oxen, are
used in France for the plough. “I love Jeanne, my wife,” exclaims the
peasant of Pierre Dupont’s song; “well, I would rather see her die than
see the death of my oxen”; or, in the French--

    _Eh bien, j’aimerais mieux_
    _La voir mourir que voir mourir mes bœufs_.

So great is the cow-passion by which the French peasantry are animated,
that when one of them had stolen the cow of his neighbour, the
exhortations of the priest were powerless to enforce restitution.

“You must return it to the owner,” said the priest.

“But, father, I have confessed my fault.”

“Yes, yes; but you must do as I tell you. Send back the cow to its
owner.”

The man hesitated; he did not wish to restore the cow.

“Then no absolution; no sacrament.”

The peasant still demurred.

“Think,” the priest then said, “of the day of judgment, when all the
village will be assembled on the green, and you will be there holding
the cow by the tail, and everybody will know you stole it. How ashamed
you will be!”

“Really! but will the owner of the cow be there too?”

“Of course he will.”

“Well, if I see him, I will then give him back his cow.”

One more anecdote may be permitted in reference not indeed to the Paris
markets, but to those by whom the Paris markets are supplied. Not only
is the French peasant prudent and economical: he is also, as is shown by
the story just told, very cunning. Equally so is the peasant woman. One
day at a market in Normandy people were much surprised at seeing a woman
offer an excellent horse for sale at the price of five francs, and still
more astonished at her asking 500 francs for a dog she wished to dispose
of. The two animals were to be sold together. They were ultimately got
rid of on the terms demanded. The explanation of the mystery was this.
The peasant woman was the widow of a man who in his will had directed
that the horse was to be sold for the benefit of his own family and the
dog for the benefit of his wife. She had so arranged matters that out of
the joint sale 500 francs, the price of the dog, came to her, while five
francs went to her husband’s relations.

[Illustration: THE SAINT-GERMAIN MARKET.]

It seems strange and somewhat absurd to English Conservatives that so
many peasants in France should have a vote; but inasmuch as of these
peasants nine millions are proprietors, the establishment of universal
suffrage in France was not a revolutionary but a Conservative measure.
The peasantry, moreover, are in some degree trained to public affairs by
the part they play in the communal councils. There are about 40,000
communes in France, and each commune has its mayor and its municipal
councillors elected by universal suffrage for the management of local
affairs. Every peasant may become a municipal councillor and, if duly
elected by the municipal council, a mayor. The municipal council meets
periodically for the discussion of local affairs; so that its members
accustom themselves to public speaking and the interchange of ideas.
France has now about 10,000,000 electors, of whom two-thirds are
peasants, but, as before explained, peasants in the possession of landed
property.



CHAPTER XXV.

SAINT-GERMAIN-DES-PRÉS.

Its Origin and History--Its Library--Its Organ--Saint-Sulpice.


If the Pantheon and the Luxemburg are by their size, their
appurtenances, and their dominant position, the most important buildings
on the left bank of the Seine, the most interesting, by its antiquity,
is the church, with the monastery attached to it, of Saint-Germain-des-Prés;
which, like the cathedral-church of Notre Dame in the city, and the
church of Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois on the right bank, belong to the
most ancient period of the Merovingian monarchy, to that, in other
words, of Childebert I. and Ultrogothe his wife, who reigned at Paris
from 511 to 538. Childebert, returning from an expedition against the
Visgoths, brought back from Spain as trophies of his victory the tunic
of Saint Vincent, a gold cross and precious stones, together with some
vases which were said to have belonged to King Solomon. By the advice of
Saint Germain, Bishop of Paris, he constructed for the reception of the
holy relics a church and a monastery at the western end of the gardens
belonging to the Palace of the Hot Baths, or Palais des Thermes. On the
very day of Childebert’s death, in 558, Saint Germain consecrated the
new church as “Church of the Holy Cross and of St. Vincent”; and he was
himself buried in it when he died in 596. After the death of the good
bishop the church which he had dedicated to the Holy Cross and to St.
Vincent got to be known under no other name than that of Saint-Germain;
and it now became the burial-place of the kings, queens, and princes of
the Merovingian dynasty.

The abbey remained for a long time an isolated building, which the high
walls, erected around the church and convent in 1239 by Simon, abbé of
Saint-Germain, made into a veritable fortress, which was strengthened in
1368 by Charles V., who, at war with the English, feared a sudden attack
on their part against the suburbs of Paris. A narrow canal was at the
same time dug, which placed the ditches of the fortified abbey in
communication with the Seine. This canal, called at the time “the little
Seine,” was filled up towards the middle of the sixteenth century, when
the line of land thus formed became the Rue des Petits Augustins, now
Rue Bonaparte.

Of this ancient church, three times burned by the Normans and three
times rebuilt, but little now remains. Thirty years ago fragments of the
walls and two of the gates were still to be seen. But the last traces of
the old abbey disappeared when through the Place Saint Germain-des-Prés
the Rue de Rennes was made to run. The church, however, was destined to
survive, in a sadly mutilated condition, the convent and the walls. It
suffered greatly, like so many other sacred buildings, at the time of
the Revolution, when the tombs of the Merovingian kings were broken into
and their contents dispersed. These or portions of them are now to be
found in the abbey of Saint-Denis.

Again and again the church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés has been restored:
as in 1644, in 1820, at the time of the Restoration, and finally under
Napoleon III. The choir preserves intact the style of the twelfth
century. Among the tombs may be seen the tomb of King Casimir of Poland,
who, after becoming a monk, was made abbé of Saint-Germain, and died
holding that office in 1672. In a chapel on the opposite side of the
church is the tomb of Olivier and Louis de Castellan, who fell in the
service of Louis XIV., and a little further on the chapel of the
Douglases, many of whom served in the Scottish Guard. Here too are the
remains of Boileau and Descartes. The sacred pictures around the choir
and the nave are the work of Hippolyte Flandrin, the most celebrated
among the pupils of Ingrès, who died before completing his work, and to
whom, in the church he loved to decorate, a monument in white marble has
been erected, surmounted by his bust.

[Illustration: THE TOWER OF SAINT-GERMAIN-DES-PRÉS.]

It must not be forgotten that during the greater part of its history the
ancient church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés was outside Paris, which
gradually grew towards it and at last surrounded it. On the 2nd of
November, 1589, Henry IV., besieging Paris, went up the convent tower,
accompanied by a single monk, to examine the situation of the town. He
is said to have afterwards gone round the walls of the cloister. But he
did not enter the church, and he withdrew without uttering one single
word.

Saint-Germain-des-Prés was at one time known as the Church of the Three
Steeples. These were destroyed in 1822 under Louis XVIII. as a measure
of economy, since it would otherwise have been necessary to restore
them.

The monastery of Saint-Germain-des-Prés used to contain a library, which
was at that time the largest in Paris, and the only one that was open to
the public. Begun by Father du Breul, author of the “Antiquities of
Paris,” it was augmented through legacies from the physician Noel
Vaillant, the Abbé Baudran, the Abbé Jean d’Estrées, the Abbé Renaudot,
the Chancellor Séguier, the Cardinal Gesvres, the Councillor of State De
Harlay, and others, who, dying, left their libraries to
Saint-Germain-des-Prés. The collection included 100,000 printed volumes,
and 20,000 manuscripts, all of which found their way to the National
Library, where they are now preserved. Close to Saint-Germain-des-Prés,
and between this church and that of Saint-Sulpice, was held the famous
market or fair of Saint-Germain. In the fifteenth century the
Saint-Germain fair used indeed to be held in the garden of the
presbytery of Saint-Sulpice. Antiquaries are not quite agreed as to the
antiquity of Saint-Sulpice; not, that is to say, as to the precise date,
undoubtedly a remote one, of its origin. A tombstone of the tenth
century, found in 1724, when, during the restoration of the church, the
foundations had to be examined, showed that the cemetery, attached to
which there would naturally be a chapel, had existed from the earliest
period. A new chapel or church is supposed to have been built in place
of the more ancient one during the thirteenth or fourteenth centuries. A
nave was added to it under Francis I., and three chapels in 1614. In
1643 a council was held under the presidency of the Prince de Condé, at
which it was determined to rebuild the church, which was too small for
the requirements of the neighbourhood and, above all, was falling into
ruins. The first stone of the new church was laid by Anne of Austria in
1646. The building operations were, however, discontinued in 1678; and
it was not until 1721 that--thanks to a lottery for which permission was
given by Louis XV.--enough money was found to enable the architect,
Servandoni, to complete the work. The architecture of Saint-Sulpice has
been severely criticised, especially by Victor Hugo, who compared the
lofty towers (one, by the way, much loftier than the other) to
clarinets. The church of Saint-Sulpice is remarkable, among its various
treasures, for a magnificent balustrade enclosing the choir, and the
statues of the twelve apostles by Bouchardon which surround it. The
pulpit given in 1788 by the Duc de Richelieu is surmounted by an
admirable group sculptured in wood: “Charity surrounded by her
children.” Very curious is the obelisk in white marble, more than eight
metres high, constructed in the most scientific manner by Sully and
Lemonnier, in 1773, to determine the occurrence of the spring equinox
and of Easter Day. The two enormous shells which hold at the entrance to
the church the holy water were gifts from the Republic of Venice to
Francis I.

[Illustration: SAINT-GERMAIN-DES-PRÉS.]

The chapels of the nave and of the choir, decorated by the most
celebrated artists of this century, present admirable specimens of
religious painting. Eugène Delacroix is represented in the chapel of the
Holy Angels by two mural pictures and a painted ceiling, all instinct
with his fiery genius. The Triumph of Saint Michael, Heliodorus Beaten
with Rods, and Jacob Wrestling with the Angel, are the subjects. The
artists who have painted the various chapels are too numerous to
mention. The organ-loft rests on composite columns of a grandiose
character, the work of Servandoni, and the organ is worthy of the loft
built for its reception. Reconstructed in 1861 by Cavaillé-Coll, this
majestic instrument with its ten octaves possesses 5 complete
key-boards, 118 registers, 20 pedals, and about 7,000 pipes. The organ
of Saint-Sulpice is said to be the largest in Europe, and on Sundays and
holidays the congregation is never without a certain number of
_dilettanti_ who have come to hear the gigantic instrument speak
beneath the eloquent fingers of M. Widor, whose duties as organist have
not prevented him from writing the music of a ballet, “La Korrigane,”
for the Opéra, and of a lyric work, “Maître Ambros,” for the Opéra
Comique. Widor, the organist of Saint-Sulpice, composing ballet-music
reminds one of the still more violent relief sought by Hervé, who passed
from the organ-loft to the stage of the Folies Dramatiques with his
burlesque operettas of “L’Œil Crevé” and “Le Petit Faust.” The hero
of M. Hervé’s operatic vaudeville “Nitouche” is perhaps a typical
personage in the musical world of Paris. He also is an organist by
profession, a composer of light opera by aspiration; and he gets into
sad trouble by teaching frivolous airs to the pupils of the convent
school where he is employed to play psalms and hymns.

Strangely enough, by what hazard can scarcely be said, in the organ-loft
of Saint-Sulpice is to be found the harpsichord of Marie Antoinette.
What a contrast between the delicate sounds of this feeble instrument
and the thunder of its colossal neighbour!

[Illustration: THE SIDE ENTRANCE TO SAINT-GERMAIN-DES-PRÉS.]

The church of Saint-Sulpice, renamed in 1793, at the height of the
Revolution, Temple of Victory, was the scene on the 9th of November,
1799, of a banquet, at which General Bonaparte presided. In 1802 it was
restored to public worship. The existing church rests on an immense
crypt, in which the architects have respected the pillars of the
original church. In this subterranean church, which is adorned with
statues of Saint Paul and Saint John the Evangelist by Pradier, the
catechism is taught and conferences are held. The plan of Servandoni
comprised a space in front of the church, enclosed by symmetrical
façades, the model of which may be seen in the south-east corner of the
square, between the Rue des Canettes and the Rue Saint-Sulpice. This
part of the architect’s project was, however, abandoned.

Completed in virtue of a decree of the year 1811, and planted with trees
in 1838, the Place Saint-Sulpice has been adorned since 1847 with a
monumental fountain constructed by Visconti in place of an older one
removed to the Marché Saint-Germain. The four statues which form part of
the design, in the midst of three concentric basins, represent Bossuet,
Fénélon, Massillon, and Fléchier. Beneath the eyes of the four preachers
in bronze a flower-market is held twice a week.

Quitting the Place Saint-Sulpice by the Rue Bonaparte, passing before
Saint-Germain-des-Prés, and crossing the Rue Jacob, we reach the section
of the Rue Bonaparte which was originally called Rue des Petits
Augustins, and which stands on what, until it was filled up, was the bed
of the Little Seine.



CHAPTER XXVI.

PRINTING IN PARIS--THE CENSORSHIP.

Rue Visconti--Historical Buildings--The National School of Roads and
Bridges--The Introduction of Printing into Paris--The First Printing
Establishments--The Censorship.


[Illustration: THE RUE DE L’ABBAYE.]

Starting once more from the Place Saint-Sulpice, and proceeding by the
Rue Bonaparte across the Rue Jacob to the Rue des Petits Augustins, we
come to the ancient Rue des Marais, a narrow street opened in 1540
between the Rue des Petits Augustins and the Rue de Seine. It is now
called the Rue Visconti, and contains at least one house which is worth
a moment’s attention--the Hôtel de Ranes, No. 21. Here Nicholas
d’Argouges, Marquis de Ranes, who built the house, was killed in 1678.
Jean Racine came to live in the building as lodger in 1692; and here was
born in that same year the last of his children, Louis Racine, author
of that much-esteemed poem, “La Réligion.” It was here, too, that the
immortal author of “Phèdre” expired on the 21st of April, 1699. Other
theatrical associations are connected with this house.

Here, moreover, Adrienne Lecouvreur, the celebrated actress, died on the
20th of March, 1730, and, the last rites of the Church being refused,
was carried away the same night in a hackney-coach by Voltaire and a
friend of Marshal Saxe who had always been devoted to her. She was
buried on the banks of the Seine at a point beyond the Palais Bourbon,
which it is no longer possible to discover. The place was marked at the
time by a simple memorial, which from malice or through neglect and the
natural ravages of time, was destined soon to disappear.

Later on this same house was inhabited by Mdlle. Clairon, who only
quitted it when she resigned her engagement at the Comédie Française.

At No. 17 in this interesting Rue Visconti existed in 1825 the
printing-office founded by Honoré de Balzac. But the greatest novelist
of France met with no greater success as a printer than the greatest
novelist of England obtained as a publisher. Balzac, like Scott,
contracted debts in his business enterprise which weighed heavily upon
him and, compelling him to the severest literary labour, shortened his
existence. It was to pay his debts that Balzac condemned himself to that
perpetual work, those prolonged night-watches, which developed in him,
robust as he was in his early days, the germs of that hypertrophy of the
heart from which he died. In the street of Les Petits Augustins stood a
convent, founded in the midst of a garden to fulfil a vow made by Queen
Margaret at the Château d’Usson.

The convent was turned by the Constituent Assembly in 1790 into a depòt
for monuments and ruins of monuments whose preservation was desirable in
the interest of history or of art. Alexandre Lenoir, who had proposed
the formation of this museum, was appointed its superintendent. In
carrying out his seemingly peaceful work he found himself on one
occasion in danger of his life, for some madman wounded him with a
bayonet as he was protecting by main force the monument of Cardinal de
Richelieu which a number of fanatics wished to destroy. The precious
collection brought together by Lenoir was inaugurated in 1795 under the
title of the National Museum of French Monuments.

An imperial decree of the 24th of February, 1811, ordered the creation
of a School of Fine Arts, which was to contain common rooms for the
lectures and separate studios for the different professors with their
pupils. By order of the restored Louis XVIII., in April, 1816, the
School of Fine Arts, with which no progress had been made under
Napoleon, was to be completed. Then, however, it occurred to the king
that it would be unbecoming to turn out from what had been considered
their last resting-place so many statues, busts, tombs, and other
monuments. Churches were now requested to claim the ornaments of which,
under the Revolution, they had been despoiled, the different communes to
take back the arms and other insignia which had been torn by fanatical
revolutionists from their walls, while the great historic families were
assured that they were now at liberty to resume possession of their
ancestral sepulchres. But these permissions and appeals were for the
most part in vain. Meanwhile the mausoleums of the kings and princes of
France were removed to Saint-Denis, while many other monuments were
placed in the museums of Paris and Versailles.

It was now possible to proceed with the School of Fine Arts, and the
first stone of the building was laid on the 3rd of May, 1820. The
original plan, drawn up by the architect Debret, was much amplified,
under the reign of Louis Philippe, by M. Dauban, who finished it in
1838--at least in its essential parts. New buildings were added under
the Second Empire between the years 1860 and 1862. The National Special
School of Fine Arts (such is its official title) furnishes instruction
in drawing, painting, sculpture, architecture, and every kind of
engraving to French students aged not less than fifteen nor more than
thirty, and even to foreigners who have obtained due authorisation from
the Ministry of Fine Arts.

[Illustration: SAINT-SULPICE.]

[Illustration: APSIS OF SAINT-SULPICE.]

The School of Fine Arts occupies a palace worthy of the institution. Its
general plan is simple in the extreme. Through the gate of its entrance,
adorned with two colossal busts of Puget and of Poussin, may be seen a
square courtyard whose walls are covered with admirable monuments, for
the most part from the above-mentioned Musée des Monuments Français.
This courtyard is separated from the principal one into which it leads
by a sort of triumphal arch, dating from the year 1500. It was brought
from the Château de Gaillon and reconstructed stone by stone. At the end
of the principal courtyard is the grand façade due to M. Dauban,
composed of two storeys of arcades separated by Corinthian pilasters.
The vestibule of the ground floor contains fragments of ancient marbles,
casts from the temple of Egina and of the Parthenon, clever, curious
copies of paintings discovered at Pompeii, etc. The vestibule leads to a
magnificent collection of plaster casts from the most celebrated ancient
works of antiquity, including two columns from the temple of Jupiter
Stator, and one of the corner-pieces of the Parthenon. In the floor
above are to be seen the fifty-two copies of the Loggie of Raphael,
executed in 1836 by the brothers Balze, under the direction of the
illustrious Ingrès, who had made Raphael the study of his life. The same
storey contains, among other celebrated works, the hemicycle, painted by
Paul Delaroche, representing the principal masters of every age and of
every school, grouped around Ictinus and Phidias, the painter and
sculptor of the Parthenon. This masterpiece has been popularised, in
engraving, by Henriquel Dupont, one of the most regretted professors of
the School of Fine Arts. It is impossible to leave the School of Fine
Arts without casting a glance on the mansions which either surround or
adjoin it, from the beginning of the Quai Malaquais, at the corner of
the Rue de Seine, to the Rue des Saint-Pères, all of which enjoy
magnificent views of the Seine, the Louvre, and the Tuileries. They have
all the same origin, having been built during the first years of the
seventeenth century on the property of Queen Margaret. No. 1 on the Quai
Malaquais, with its two meagre wings on each side of a feeble body, was
the mansion of Aubespine; and it was there that the celebrated
archæologist, Visconti, died in 1818. No. 5 was at one time occupied by
Marshal Saxe.

The noble house, with its façade of red bricks and white stone--No. 9,
at the other corner of the Rue Bonaparte--was the Hôtel Loménie de
Brienne et Loutrec. Nos. 11 and 13, now replaced by the exhibition-rooms
of the School of Fine Arts, were built by Cardinal Mazarin for his niece
Marianne Martinozzi, left a widow in 1666 by the death of Prince de
Conti, younger brother of the great Condé. Originally Hôtel Conti, it
passed from Conti’s widow, who received the Hôtel Guénégaud in exchange,
into the hands successively of the Créquis, the Tremvilles, the Lauzuns,
and three or four other aristocratic families, to become subsequently
the office of the general police.

The right corner of the Rue des Saints-Pères and of the Rue de Lille is
occupied by a new building with windows few and far between, and gates
which might be those of a fortress. This is the special school of living
Oriental languages founded by Louis XIV., reorganised in 1795 and again
in 1869 and 1871. For many years it was an annex of the National
Library, where it occupied an old building in the New Street of the
Little Fields. For some few years past it has been established at No. 2
in the Rue de Lille. The languages taught in this institution comprise
literary Arabic, the Arabic of ordinary conversation, Armenian, Persian,
Turkish, Annamite, Chinese, modern Greek, Japanese, Malay, Russian,
Roumanian, Hindostanee, and the Tamul languages. Attached to the
professors are teachers born in the different and distant lands whose
languages are studied in this school.

At the opposite corner (Rue de Lille, No. 1) is a magnificent mansion
which now belongs to the publishing house of Garnier Brothers. During
the period immediately before the French Revolution the stables of the
Countess of Artois were here established. Throughout the First Empire it
was occupied by Count Réal, entrusted with the first department of the
Ministry of General Police, in which there were altogether fifty-one
departments. From 1821 to 1849 it was the office of the first military
division.

[Illustration: FOUNTAIN, PLACE SAINT-SULPICE.]

On the right side of the Rue des Saints-Pères, opposite the former
entrance to the hospital of La Charité, is the National School of Roads
and Bridges--until 1788 the Hôtel Fleury; from 1824 to 1830 the Ministry
of Worship; and throughout the reign of Louis Philippe the Ministry of
Public Works.

The National School of Roads and Bridges, created by Louis XV. in 1741,
and developed by different decrees of the two empires, has for its
special object the education of young men quitting the Polytechnic
School after good examinations as civil engineers. It is placed beneath
the authority of the Minister of Public Works, and directed by an
Inspector-General of Roads and Bridges. It comprises twenty chairs
devoted to different branches of the engineer’s art, without counting
drawing--scientific and artistic--and the English and German languages.
It contains a laboratory, a library, and a gallery of models to which
the public is not admitted.

Returning towards the east as far as the Rue Saint-Benoît, we find, on
the eastern side of the street, the printing department of the firm of
Quantin, in a line with the publishing and administrative departments.
At this printing and publishing office, which has given to the world so
many fine editions, especially of illustrated books, _Revue des Deux
Mondes_ has been printed ever since it first appeared.

The art of printing has had a chequered history in Paris, being
sometimes protected, sometimes oppressed by the crown, and too
frequently crippled by two bodies who, in particular, should have nursed
it--the University and the Parliament. It was introduced into the French
capital by Allemand La Pierre, prior of the Sorbonne, one of the
greatest scholars of his time, and Guillaume Fichet, doctor in theology,
who, in 1470, invited Ulrich Gering of Constance, Michel Friburger of
Colmar, and Martin Krantz, to come and establish a printing-office
within the Sorbonne walls.

The three associates acceded to the request, and with the machines they
fitted up printed a succession of interesting volumes during their stay
at the Sorbonne, which lasted till 1473. Then their establishment was
transferred to the Rue Saint-Jacques, under the sign of the “Golden
Sun,” beside the church of Saint-Benoît. Here a number of elegant works
were produced. In 1484 Friburger and Krantz retired from the concern, in
order probably to return to Germany, the name of Gering alone being
appended to publications posterior to the month of October in that year.
Ultimately the printing-offices were again moved to a house belonging to
the Sorbonne, though the sign of the “Golden Sun” was still preserved.

Printers now began to multiply rapidly in Paris. One of the most
celebrated was Antoine Vérard, who from 1485 published a large number of
works, chiefly in French, and remarkable for the beauty of their Gothic
characters. Towards the end of 1499, at the period when the Bridge of
Notre Dame, on which his house stood, gave way, he removed to a spot
near the crossway of Saint-Séverin, afterwards shifting twice
more--first to the Rue Saint-Jacques, and then to the Rue
Neuve-Notre-Dame, where he remained till his death.

In 1513 Louis XII. testified his sympathy for the art of printing by
liberating it from a heavy tax and from certain tolls to which it had
previously been subject. Two years later his successor, Francis I.,
exempted the printers of Paris from all military service except in case
of imminent peril.

In 1521--when already Claude Garamond had replaced the old Gothic and
semi-Gothic characters by Roman letters and italics--Francis I.,
hitherto favourable to printing, issued an edict to the effect that no
book should be printed or sold unless it had previously been examined
and approved by the University and the Theological Faculty. Every book,
moreover, had now to pass beneath the inspection of the Provost of
Paris. This edict sorely fettered the two dozen printers who were then
at work in the capital.

In 1522 the famous Robert Étienne, whom we call Stephens, published a
beautiful edition of the New Testament in Latin; but the Sorbonne,
displeased at the production of an edition which tended to popularise
the Scriptures, attacked the text of Étienne, though without any
apparent desire to engage in direct controversy on the point. It does
not appear that the work was suppressed; but ten years later the
Sorbonne showed itself much more potent in dealing with a new edition of
the Latin Bible published by Robert Étienne, son and successor of the
before-mentioned, with annotations--borrowed from the most learned
authorities--on the original Hebrew. The younger Étienne had published
this edition by special privilege obtained from the king. To secure it
against criticism he had not printed it till after a careful comparison
of the ancient manuscripts of Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the abbey of
Saint-Denis; he had not even omitted to call in the most famous
theologians to assist him. Yet, despite all his precautions, he could
not avert the wrath of the Sorbonne; and he was obliged to humiliate
himself before that body and promise to print nothing henceforth “_nisi
cum bonâ eorum gratiâ_.” These submissions saved Étienne, but could not
obviate the danger which threatened the art of printing. The era of
persecution had begun. The Sorbonne, which had at first patronised the
art of Gutenberg, was so terrified now at the rapid propagation of
Luther’s doctrines that it addressed to Francis I. an urgent request on
the subject of heretical books, representing strongly to the king that
if he wished to save religion, attacked and shaken on all sides, he
must, by a stern edict, permanently abolish in France the art of
printing, which daily produced so many pernicious books. The project of
the Sorbonne was on the point of being realised, when it was cleverly
thwarted by Jean de Bellay, Bishop of Paris, who explained to the
zealous monarch that in preserving so precious an art he could
effectually remedy the abuses of which such violent complaints were
made.

Meanwhile the University exercised its right of supervision. In 1534
Christian Wechel was censured and threatened with a fine for having sold
one of the works of Erasmus. The same year, on the 13th of January,
Francis I. issued letters patent which prohibited all printing and
exposed printers to rigorous punishment. These letters were not
registered by the Parliament, which remonstrated to the king concerning
so arbitrary a proceeding. A month afterwards the king’s advocate,
Jacques Cappel, communicated to the Parliament new letters patent, by
which Francis I. annulled the previous ones, but ordered that the
Parliament should elect twenty-four persons, well qualified and
cautioned, from whom he might select twelve who alone should print at
Paris, and not elsewhere, “books which were approved and essential to
the public welfare.” The printing of any other books was to be visited
with formidable punishments.

The art of Gutenberg, however, resisted all these measures, and
apparently the king did not persevere in his hostile projects, for in
1543 he exempted the printers from service in the City Guard. Two years
later, nevertheless, Robert Étienne, having published an edition of the
Bible which excited the wrath of the Sorbonne, found himself so
persecuted that he had to retire to Lyons, whence he could not venture
to return to Paris till he had obtained the protection of Henri II. A
worse fate befell a Lyons printer, named Étienne Dolet, who had taken
refuge in Paris. He was arrested, imprisoned in the Conciergerie, and at
the end of eighteen months strangled and burned in the Place Maubert on
the 3rd of August, 1546.

In 1551 Robert Étienne, seriously menaced, was forced to seek refuge at
Geneva, leaving at Paris his wife and children, who might have starved
had not Henri II., on the prayer of Charles Étienne, Robert’s brother,
restored to them the goods of the proscribed printer. This same monarch
gave a further proof of his goodwill in exempting printers, by an edict
of the 23rd of September, 1553, from the taxes to which books were then
liable.

In 1556 Henri decreed that a copy, printed on vellum, of every book
whose publication was authorised, should be contributed to the Royal
Library; and that every such copy should be magnificently bound. It is
supposed to have been to Diana of Poitiers, a great bibliophile, that
this decree was due.

Charles IX. showed no little favour to printing. By letters patent,
dated March, 1560, he confirmed and continued to the printers all those
favours, rights, privileges, liberties, exemptions, and so forth, which
had been ceded by his royal predecessors. One printer, however, Martin
Lhomme by name, derived small benefit from these letters patent, for in
the same year, on a decree of the Parliament, he was hanged.

This printer, a native of Rouen, living at Paris in the Rue du Mûrier,
was accused of having sold a book entitled “The Royal Tiger,” which was
a satire directed against the Guises. He was condemned, according to the
Parliamentary decree, “to be hanged and strangled on a scaffold erected
in the Place Maubert, a suitable and convenient spot.” The goods of the
prisoner were to be confiscated to the king, and the objectionable book
was to be burned in the printer’s presence previously to his execution.

Not long afterwards, in September, 1563, an ordinance appeared which
proclaimed that all printers, binders, and sellers of libellous placards
and other publications should be punished, for the first offence with
the whip, for the second with death. A further ordinance, issued the
same month, forbade printers to put any unauthorised volume in type
“under pain of being hanged and strangled.”

In spite of all these fetters the art of printing lived on and even
prospered. Henri Étienne, having returned into possession of the
paternal establishment, published in 1572 the four first volumes, in
folio, of the _Thesaurus linguæ Græcæ_, a work which his father had
planned, and which it took Henri eleven years to execute. This monument
of literary learning was published under the auspices of several
sovereigns, with Charles IX. amongst them.

In July, 1575, the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine complained, in the
general assembly, that the books of Ambroise Paré, first surgeon to the
king, were being printed, although they contained a doctrine pernicious
to the public welfare and to good morals. The dean, therefore, prayed
the University to lay a petition before Parliament to the effect that
the writings of this author might be examined by medical professors.
Attempts were at the same time made to subject the printers of these
works to a fine.

The sixteenth century had been a time of conflict for the art of
printing, just as it had been for the Reformation. The subsidence of the
civil wars benefited both. Hardly established on the throne, Henri IV.,
by letters patent, dated 20th February, 1595, confirmed to the printers
their privileges, and liberated them from the taxes which, the year
before, had been newly imposed upon them. At the moment of his accession
he had exempted them from the duties payable for the confirmation of
their ancient rights.

[Illustration: THE GARDEN, SCHOOL OF FINE ARTS.]

In 1624 a regular censorship was started by Louis XIII., who by an edict
appointed four censors, chosen from the Faculty of Theology, to each of
whom was accorded a salary of 500 livres, with honours, immunities, etc.
The University protested against this edict, which encroached upon its
secular rights. The dispute lasted long, and the four theologians
resigned their office. But in 1626 the king entrusted the Guard of the
Seals with the choice of censors, and the University lost this part of
its privileges. Three years later Louis XIII. issued an ordinance which
forbade the printing or selling of any book not inscribed with the names
of the author and the printer.

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries there were lands of
refuge in which writers who feared the political laws and the despotism
of their own country could always find free presses: Holland, that is to
say, and Switzerland. It was in Holland that Bayle published his famous
Dictionary.

The Constitution of 1791 “guaranteed” to every man “the liberty of
writing, printing, and publishing his thoughts without his works being
liable to any censure or inspection before their publication.” The
Convention passed no law against the press. The pamphlets of the enemies
of the Revolution still exist, and testify to the plenitude of the
liberty enjoyed by writers at this period. Some of these, it is true,
were accused of connivance with the foes of their country, and punished
for that crime; but there was no question of process against the press.

The Consulate, with its strict _régime_, had less respect for the
liberty of the pen. By a decree of 17th February, 1800, the consuls
granted power to suppress those journals which published articles
contrary to the welfare of society, the sovereignty of the people, or
the glory of the national arms. Under the Empire new fetters were placed
upon the press. In 1810 the number of printers in Paris was limited to
sixty. In the following year another twenty were authorised; but, on the
other hand, the censorship which had been suspended was re-established.
The Restoration accorded to printers full liberty for producing works of
more than twenty sheets, but maintained the censorship for smaller
publications, and subjected the newspapers to royal authority.

The press had taken too great a part in the Revolution of July not to
derive from it, at first, in any case, some advantage. The new Charter,
in proclaiming the liberty of the press, within the limits of the law,
declared that the censorship could never be re-established. Some years
later, however, heavy fetters were once more placed upon the newspapers
of France, though book-publishers retained their former measure of
liberty.

At the period of 1835, under the monarchy of July, numerous prosecutions
were instituted against the press; and the jury who tried these cases,
though it often acquitted, sometimes condemned with rigour. The
Republican journal, the _Tribune_, succumbed beneath the weight of the
fines imposed on it.

The Republic of 1848 accorded to the press a liberty quite as unlimited
as it now enjoys, though the free use it made of this liberty produced a
reaction and new fetters in the following year.

       *       *       *       *       *

The invention of printing was made the subject of a play by the
unfortunate Gérard de Nerval, author of the _Voyage en Orient_, and of a
translation of _Faust_ which Goethe himself admired. In Gérard de
Nerval’s drama figure a good angel and a demon; and when the good angel,
always anxious to benefit humanity, invents printing, the demon comes
forward and says: “I invent the censorship.” Of the censorship in
connection with printed works some account has been given, and a few
words may be added in reference to the censorship as bearing upon works
written for the stage.

[Illustration: THE ARC DE GAILLON, SCHOOL OF FINE ARTS.]

[Illustration: COURTYARD, SCHOOL OF FINE ARTS.]

The dramatic censorship was established in France in the middle of the
fifteenth century--that is to say, in the earliest days, of the French
stage. The clerks and students classed together as “La Basoche” were
forbidden to act any play or “satire” until after it had received the
approval of the censor. It must be supposed that the corrections and
commands of the censor were set at naught; for, thirty-four years later,
an order was published forbidding the members of the Basoche to play at
all, or even to ask permission to play. This was under the reign of
Louis XI. Under Charles VIII. theatrical representations were again
authorised, but only under rigid supervision. Louis XII. gave absolute
liberty to the comedians. All kinds of personalities were permitted to
dramatic writers, who, with impunity, could even attack the throne. On
one point alone was Louis XII. fastidious, he objected to attacks on the
honour of the queen; and for her protection in the midst of the general
licence now exhibited on the stage, authors were required to “respect
ladies under penalty of being hanged.” The threat was a severe one; and
by reason, perhaps, of its very severity, it was never found necessary
to carry it out. Under Francis I. the censorship was re-established in
full force, and an order was published calling upon the players to be
careful in their representations not to speak the passages which had
been marked out. In 1548 the priests, who hated all theatrical
performances, and looked upon stage-players as beyond the pale or the
Church, procured the formal interdiction, by the Parliament, of the
mediæval mysteries, into which much profanity had been introduced.

According to M. Poirson, one of the latest and best historians of Henri
IV., the theatre, under his happy reign, enjoyed absolute liberty. Louis
XIII., or rather his powerful minister, again introduced the censorship;
and, later on, every reader of Molière knows what trouble the great
comic dramatist met with at the hands of the censorship in connection
with one of his masterpieces, _Tartufe_. Authorised by the king, the
piece was interdicted by the Parliament, after its first representation,
besides being condemned by a mandamus from the Archbishop of Paris; and
it was not until three years after its original production that Molière
obtained full permission to perform it. Louis XIV., despot as he was,
hesitated, in the midst of the disputes between the Gallican Church and
the Court of Rome, to interfere in a matter which his clergy had taken
so deeply to heart. Molière had fresh difficulties to contend with in
connection with _Don Juan_, which he was obliged to modify in many
passages before he could obtain permission to perform it. The cynicism
of the hero’s reflections was declared to be in opposition (as Molière
intended it to be) to religious feeling; and the Parliament thought it
impious that Sganarelle (afterwards the Leporello of Mozart) should, on
seeing his master carried down to eternal torments, think of nothing but
his wages and ask pathetically from whom he was to get them.

[Illustration: A FAÇADE ON THE QUAI MALAQUAIS.]

Under Louis XIV. the political side of the censorship first shows
itself. In a farce played at the Théâtre Italien under the title of _La
Fausse Prude_, Mme. de Maintenon was recognised; and when Racine, at
Mme. de Maintenon’s request, composed _Esther_ for the pupils of St.
Cyr, the piece seemed full of political allusions, and everyone at Court
was so convinced that Esther was Mme. de Maintenon, and Vashti Mme. de
Montespan, that the performance was at last forbidden. Haman, in the
proscribed piece, was thought to be the minister, Louvois, and in the
persecution of the Jews a reference was seen to the cruel edicts against
the Protestants. The _Athalie_ of the same dramatic poet shared the fate
of _Esther_, and for like reasons.

On the death of Louis XIV. _Esther_ and _Athalie_ were freed from the
interdict which had weighed upon them, and now the picture of Judæa
under its tyrannical rulers was looked upon as that of France, while in
the character of Joas was seen the young king Louis XV. The censorship
now became, above all, political. No allusion was to be made to a
minister or to any state official, these rules being applicable to all
state functionaries, whether belonging to France or not. A phrase in a
comedy of this time, “From his rotundity one might take him for a
president,” was condemned by the Parliament of Paris, whose president at
the time was somewhat stout.

Voltaire had to take infinite trouble in order to get permission to
produce his _Mahomet_. The official censor, Crébillon, having objected
to _Mahomet_--in a spirit of jealousy, as Voltaire maintained--its
author obtained from the Duke de Richelieu permission to entrust the
censorship of the work to his friend, d’Alembert; though Crébillon, from
one point of view, seems to have been not far wrong, since _Mahomet_, on
its production as authorised by d’Alembert, excited on the part of the
religious world general disapprobation, so that Voltaire, after a time,
had to withdraw the piece.

The ingenious and daring measures by which Beaumarchais at last
succeeded in getting removed from his _Marriage of Figaro_ the veto
pronounced upon it by King Louis XVI. have been told in another place.
This brings us to the time of the Revolution, when all restrictions on
personal liberty were, for a time at least, abolished. Theatrical
representations were now given inside Notre Dame. On the first
anniversary of the execution of Louis XVI., January 21st, 1794, was
performed at the National Opera, “on behalf of, and for the people,
gratis, in joyful commemoration of the death of the tyrant,” _Miltiades
at Marathon_, the _Siege of Thionville_, and the _Offering to Liberty_.
The censorship, abolished for a moment, was soon re-established under
the Republic; and now stage kings and stage queens were absolutely
suppressed. “Not only were they forbidden to appear on the stage,” says
a writer on this subject, “but even their names were not to be
pronounced behind the scenes, and the expressions ‘côté du roi,’ ‘côté
de la reine,’ were changed into ‘côté jardin,’ ‘côté cour,’ which, at
the theatre of the Tuileries, indicated respectively the left and right
of the stage from the stage point of view. At first all pieces in which
kings and queens appeared were prohibited, but the dramas of _sans
culottes_ origin were so stupid that the Republic was absolutely obliged
to return to the old monarchical repertory. Kings, however, were turned
into chiefs; princes and dukes became representatives of the people;
seigneurs subsided into mayors, and substitutes more or less synonymous
were found for such offensive words as crown, throne, sceptre, etc. The
scenes of most of the new operas were laid in Italy, Prussia,
Portugal--everywhere except France, where it would have been
indispensable from a political, and impossible from a poetical point of
view, to make the lovers address one another as ‘citoyen, and
‘citoyenne.’”

One of the reasons put forward for reintroducing the censorship under
the Republic was that for a long time past the aristocracy had “taken
refuge in the administration of various theatres”; whereupon it was
resolved that the opera “should be encouraged and defended against its
enemies.” At the same time the managers were arrested as suspicious
persons, and replaced by republicans whose republicanism was beyond
question.

Napoleon, determined not to tolerate opposition or even criticism in any
form, was very severe in regard to the theatrical censorship. In a
letter on this subject to the Minister of the Interior, he says: “You
must not depend on your officials to know what the theatrical pieces
submitted to you for your examination are really like. You must read
them yourself, and then decide whether it would be better to permit or
to forbid their representation.” Under the Restoration the censorship
was not less severe than under Napoleon. The performance of Arnault’s
_Germanicus_ in 1815 had results which almost seemed to justify the
censorship’s existence. So excited did the audience become, that many of
them rose from their seats and fought with walking-sticks. It is from
this moment that the order dates by which no walking-sticks or umbrellas
must be brought into the theatre.

Towards the end of the Restoration, when the romantic school had just
arisen in France, with Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas as its principal
champions on the stage, the censorship, without ceasing to be political
and moral, gave itself literary airs, and, inspired by the calmness and
moderation of the old classical school, forbade violent scenes and
scenes in which ideas of death and, above all, suicide were presented.
Thus, in a translation of _Hamlet_, the graveyard scene had to be
considerably abridged.

Out of consideration for Victor Hugo, who in these early days was a
royalist, and who, throughout his long life, was the foremost poet of
France, the Minister of Fine Arts, M. de Martignac, consented to read
all his pieces and decide upon them himself. He began with “Marion
Delorme,” and authorised the representation of that fine work, when
suddenly there was a change of Cabinet, and the new minister, M. de la
Bourdonnaye, forbade it. Through the intervention, however, of M.
Trouvé, Director of Fine Arts, permission was obtained to bring out
_Hernani_, to which all kinds of objections had previously been made.

After the overthrow of Charles X.’s Government, in July, 1830, the
censorship was absolutely abolished; but, as equally happened after the
previous revolution of 1789 and the subsequent one of 1848, it was very
soon re-established. In the month of August M. Guizot, Minister of the
Interior, named a commission for the examination of questions connected
with the liberty of the stage. “I proposed,” he says in his Memoirs, “to
re-establish a serious dramatic censorship, which would defend public
decency against the cynicism and greed of speculators in corruption.” It
was objected to M. Guizot’s proposition that the proper course to pursue
would be to allow managers full liberty of production, and to punish
them by ordinary police measures if they produced anything contrary to
public morals. This proposition was combated by the vain argument that
to stop the representation of a piece by reason of its alleged
immorality would involve managers in serious loss; as though the loss
inflicted ought not to be regarded as a just penalty. Ultimately, as has
already been said, the censorship was re-established, and there is no
reason to suppose that for some time to come it will not still be
maintained. It has been said that in France the censorship is done away
with only to be introduced anew. The Belgians have shown themselves on
this head more logical and more consistent. When at the time of the
revolution which separated Belgium from Holland, the Chamber of Deputies
of the new constitutional monarchy declared that the censorship was
abolished, it added that it could “never be re-established”; and this is
one of the fundamental laws of the Belgian Constitution. It cannot, that
is to say, be repealed or modified unless the constitution be revised.

As always happens in France, the withdrawal of restrictions is at once
followed by an abuse of the new liberty gained. All the arguments on
both sides are now thoroughly known. The simplest way, however, of
testing the necessity of a dramatic censorship is by examining the
condition of the stage in those countries where nothing of the kind
exists: Belgium, for instance, and the United States. Licentious pieces
are no more represented in Brussels than in Paris; nor is any liking for
them exhibited in America. Occasionally in Brussels a piece founded on
some recent sensational case has been produced. Some years ago, for
example, the incidents of what was known as the “Pecq murder” were
represented in dramatic form. Here there was no question of morality but
only of good taste; and the taste of the public being more delicate than
that of the manager the performance came to an end after the second
night.

[Illustration]

[Illustration: HÔTEL DES INVALIDES.]



CHAPTER XXVII.

THE HÔTEL DES INVALIDES.

A Glance at its History--Louis XIV. and Mme. de Maintenon--The
Pensioners--Their Characteristics and Mode of Life.


Another of the most notable buildings on the left bank of the Seine is
the Hôtel des Invalides. “There is no institution more worthy of
respect,” said Montesquieu, “than the Hôtel des Invalides. If I were a
prince I would rather have founded this establishment than have won
three battles.”

[Illustration: STATUE OF NAPOLEON. (_Formerly on the Vendôme Column, now
in the Invalides._)]

Before its institution Paris was full of old soldiers, mutilated,
miserable, and begging their bread. Nevertheless, they inspired a
natural and just interest as long ago as the time of Charlemagne, who
assigned them to the care of the priories and abbeys. “His successors,”
says M. de Chamberet in his “Histoire des Invalides,” “continued the
work of charity. When all the places in the religious houses were full,
assistance was given to the old soldiers, and in some cases fixed
pensions. But they were for the most part in deplorable circumstances.
Philip Augustus, the first of our kings who maintained a standing army,
conceived the idea of creating special establishments for his old
soldiers, and his grandson Saint Louis, on his return from the Crusades,
carried out to a certain degree the project formed by Philip Augustus.
The institution he founded was intended, however, for the reception only
of men of birth who had been blinded by the burning sands of Palestine.
The asylum, named Les Quinze-Vingts, was intended in fact for the blind,
and in connection with its original object the name has been preserved.”

Charles VI. did nothing; nor, during the English invasion and
occupation, would it have been possible to do much. Charles VII. did
very little, and Louis XI. followed the example of his predecessor.
Louis XII., the “father of his people,” Francis I., the “father of
letters,” and Henri II., the noble husband of Catherine de Médicis,
occupied themselves more or less with the fate of old and wounded
soldiers. Finally, on the 28th of October, 1568, Charles IX. published a
decree regulating the admission of wounded veterans to the priories and
abbeys. Under various pretexts old soldiers, it would seem, had been
admitted into religious houses without sufficient authority. The
ecclesiastical bodies complained of having these warriors quartered upon
them, and the warriors on their side complained that no provision was
made for their declining years. At length the matter received the
serious attention of Henri IV. Wishing to appease the ecclesiastics, but
at the same time not to neglect the old soldiers with whose aid he had
conquered his kingdom, he conceived the idea--which had already occurred
to more than one of his predecessors--of creating a special asylum for
both officers and men. In confirmation of his project, he issued an
edict in April, 1600, and letters patent in January, 1605, though his
death in 1610 prevented the founding of the establishment.

[Illustration: DOME OF THE HÔTEL DES INVALIDES.]

Far from prosecuting his idea, Marie de Médicis, now declared regent,
suppressed, by an order of the Council of State, the Military Houses of
Christian Charity and the House of Lourcine; and she afterwards
commanded that the mutilated officers and soldiers should go, as in the
past, to find shelter as recluses in the abbeys and priories liable for
their maintenance.

This unsatisfactory system led to all kinds of abuses, and the
complaints of the monastic brotherhoods at length assumed an absolutely
violent character. Louis XIII., to put an end to such a condition of
things, established, by an edict of November, 1633, under the title of
“Commanderie de St. Louis,” a community in which wounded military
veterans could be housed and fed for the rest of their lives. The want
of funds, however, and preoccupations of one kind and another, prevented
the prosecution of this scheme, which made no progress until Richelieu
took it in hand and on the 7th of August, 1834, continued the work at
his own expense. Unfortunately, however, just when the new institution
was on the point of being inaugurated (the public sheets had pompously
announced it, and a procession of the Commanderie of Saint Louis, with
flag and banner, had proclaimed it in the streets) the whole thing was
suddenly and unaccountably abandoned.

The old soldiers were still lamentably unprovided for when this ancient
grievance forced itself upon the notice of Louis XIV. Paris was just
then inundated with soldiers reduced to the last extremity, although an
ordinance of the 7th of January, 1644, required them to be sent out of
the town as quickly as possible, and despatched to the frontiers, where,
it was said, a subsistence was assured to them. Another decree strictly
forbade them to solicit alms. Both edicts, however, were in practice
ignored. Some of the invalids continued to stay in Paris; others went
into the provinces to carry with them disorder and scandal. In 1670 a
royal edict was issued ordering the immediate construction of the Hôtel
des Invalides; and, pending its completion, part of the funds set apart
for it were employed for renting in the Rue du Cherche-Midi an immense
house, which served as refuge for the future pensioners. It is true that
the religious chapters, who had to bear a share in the expense, showed a
great disinclination to pay; but Louvois, who had the matter in hand,
would by no means allow them to hang back, and in 1674 the veterans were
transferred to their new abode. One fine day in October the king drove
up to the institution in a magnificent carriage drawn by eight white
horses, and followed by numerous equipages. At two o’clock a parade of
the veterans began on the esplanade, where they marched three abreast.
Two soldiers, well-nigh centenarians, who had served at the battles of
Arques and of Ivry, headed the procession. On a subsequent occasion
Louis XIV. paid a second visit to the Invalides, accompanied by Madame
de Maintenon. As soon as his carriage entered the gate, several of the
veterans got in front of the body-guard forming the escort and kept them
back, saying that from the moment His Majesty entered the place he
should have no other guard than his old servants. Those who had defended
him on the battle-field could, they declared, look after him quite well
whenever he was pleased to come and visit them. A lively altercation
took place on this point, and attracted the attention of the king, who,
informed of what had occurred, ordered the captain of his guards to
withdraw outside the building, adding that in future whenever he visited
the place he would confide his person to his dear old disabled soldiers.

[Illustration: DORMER WINDOW ON THE FAÇADE, HÔTEL DES INVALIDES.]

[Illustration: DORMER WINDOW ON THE FAÇADE, HÔTEL DES INVALIDES.]

Just as the illustrious visitors were going away, one pensioner who was
minus a limb or two approached Madame de Maintenon and presented to her
a plate bearing a piece of the regulation bread surrounded with flowers.
“Permit me, madam,” he said, “to beg you to taste the bread we are fed
with.” The court ladies present took a bite at it and complained of it
to the king, who severely reprimanded the chief official of the
establishment, and ordered him to supply bread of better quality.

[Illustration: THE COURT OF HONOUR, HÔTEL DES INVALIDES.]

The building, meanwhile, was not large enough to accommodate all the
pensioners who had found refuge in the different religious retreats. The
least infirm, therefore, had to yield precedence to their comrades, and
Louvois ordered that forty companies should be despatched to
Montreuil-sur-Mer, others being sent to Havre, Abbeville, and other
fortified towns. Louvois died in 1691, much lamented by the pensioners.

[Illustration: INVALIDES.]

In 1714 the king made a last and lengthy visit to the Invalides. In his
will he commended the establishment to the particular care of his
successors. “The foundation of the Invalides,” says M. Monnier, “is
perhaps the one act of Louis XIV. which has remained popular.” In 1716
Peter the Great visited the Hôtel des Invalides, made a detailed
inspection of it, and tasted the water drunk within its walls. On his
return to Russia he founded an Hôtel des Invalides at St. Petersburg.

To skip over a somewhat uneventful period to the Revolution, the home of
the pensioners was on the 14th of July, 1789, seized, without
resistance, by the mob, who took possession of all the guns and carried
them off.

The Constituent Assembly, despite the opposition of its military
committee, maintained the Hôtel des Invalides. The Convention placed it
under the special surveillance of the Legislative Body and, in some
particulars, ameliorated the lot of the pensioners and their families.
As for Napoleon, whether as First Consul or as Emperor, he took a great
interest in the Invalides, whose population he did not allow to
diminish; and the same solicitude has been displayed by the more pacific
governments which have succeeded him.

Ever since the building was first inhabited, the pensioners--old,
indeed, but still gay of heart--have from time to time amused themselves
at the expense of their sometimes too curious visitors. Chief amongst
the jokes played upon such persons must be mentioned the
popularly-reported one of the “invalid with the wooden head.” This
traditional joke dates from almost the foundation of the institution,
and a manuscript in the library of the arsenal speaks of it in these
terms:--

[Illustration: TOMB OF NAPOLEON]

“As people of all kinds come to visit the house, certain playful
soldiers have invented a method of mystification for those whom it is
easy to take in, and to whom they give information as to whatever
sights of curiosity or interest the place contains. They recommend them
above all not to quit the place without having seen the invalid with the
wooden head. When the proposition is assented to, they indicate his
corridor and his room, and, as their comrades are in the conspiracy,
they make their victims perform sundry journeys through different parts
of the establishment in quest of a wooden head, which they might really
behold if they looked at themselves in the glass. They are sent from
floor to floor and from room to room by their tormentors, who invent all
kinds of explanations for his absence, such as:--‘He was here a moment
ago; he has gone no doubt to get shaved, and will be back directly. Pray
take a seat.’”

Unprovided, however, as the pensioners are with wooden heads, many of
them, by their various forms of mutilation, afford a sufficiently
curious spectacle to the crowd. Those veterans who have lost the use of
both hands are termed “Manicros.” They have to be specially waited upon
by their comrades, and as it is necessary to remunerate the latter for
their services, a fund for the purpose has been established. There is a
special table for those who, having been wounded in the jaw, cannot
masticate their food. Easily digestible hashes, soups, etc., are
prepared for them by the “sisters”; and their table is furnished with no
niggardly regard for expense.

The death of Louis XIV. was keenly regretted by the pensioners, who sent
representatives to his funeral clad in deepest mourning. The death of
Louis XV., who was more beloved by his people generally, caused little
sorrow at the Invalides, the pensioners viewing the funeral cortège, as
it passed along, with frigid eye.

Coming to Napoleon, we find him conferring honour upon the Invalides by
celebrating there the anniversary of the taking of the Bastille. He
wished, moreover, on this solemn occasion, to consolidate the growing
institution of the Legion of Honour. A salute of several cannons from
within the precincts announced the emperor’s arrival. He took his seat
upon a throne. Behind him were ranged the colonels-general of the guard,
the governor, and the great officers of the crown. Meanwhile the
empress, accompanied by the princesses, her sisters, and her maids of
honour, had been received by the grand master of the ceremonies, who had
led her to his tribune.

The cardinal legate, who was to officiate, took up his position beneath
a daïs to the right of the altar, the cardinal archbishop of Paris and
his clergy placing themselves on the left. Behind the high altar, on an
immense amphitheatre, seven hundred invalids and two hundred pupils of
the Polytechnic School were already stationed, while the nave contained
the great officers and the members of the Legion of Honour.

When the cardinal legate had celebrated divine service the grand
chancellor was conducted to the foot of the throne, proclaimed the
object of the institution of the Legion of Honour, and enumerated the
duties which were incumbent upon its members. This discourse at an end,
Napoleon received the oaths of each member. The decorations were borne
in basins of gold, and the first one was conferred upon the emperor
himself, by the hand of his brother, Prince Louis, future king of
Holland.

The most remarkable member of the Legion of Honour who ever dwelt in the
Hôtel des Invalides was a widow named Brulon, who, in times past,
disguised in male uniform, had seen no end of military service,
fighting, sometimes by her husband’s side, with distinguished valour.
She had been through seven campaigns, and bore the marks of three very
decided wounds. Entering the ranks in 1811, she became a corporal the
following year, a sub-lieutenant by royal mandate in 1822, and a member
of the Legion of Honour in 1847. She died in 1848, deeply lamented by
all who knew her, none of whom had ever seen her in feminine attire.

The Invalides pensioner, although, as we have seen, he will sometimes
have his joke, is, as a rule, a morose old grumbler. His tendencies are
those of a recluse. Although by the rules of the hotel he has to live,
eat, drink, and sleep in common with his fellow pensioners, he keeps
himself aloof, seldom seeks society, and is the reverse of
communicative, “garrulous old age” being a phrase hardly applicable to
one who, placed amongst men with the same experiences as himself, does
not find them such appreciative and inspiring auditors as persons from
the world outside. His friendships, in fact, are nearly always formed
with civilians, though the decree which forbade the excursion of
pensioners beyond the precincts of the hotel has reduced the number and
intimacy of these friendships very considerably. A second decree, issued
by the Minister of War, prohibited pensioners from performing any work
in public places. Previously they had been employed to guard civic
monuments, and to assist at constructions and demolitions; but it was
found that the money they so earned was too often spent in a manner
which neither morality nor good taste could sanction.

The grounds in front of the hotel contain a large flower-bed, beyond
which are a number of small gardens belonging to the pensioners, who
take a great pride in them, and adorn them with a beautiful display of
flowers. It is noticeable, however, that all the gardens are alike, a
grotto of shells, among other characteristic objects, belonging to each.
These little plots of ground, so gay with bloom in the summer, are the
delight of the children who come with their parents to visit some old
grandfather who has lost a limb or two in the defence of his country.

[Illustration: ENTRANCE TO THE TOMB OF NAPOLEON.]

The uncommunicativeness of the pensioner is attributed by M. Monnier to
his having nothing to communicate. “If you ask him for his
reminiscences,” says this admirable writer, “you will be astonished to
find that, much as he has seen, he has learned little and retained
little.” If, for instance, he is spoken to about Egypt, he declares that
he has found Egypt just like any other country. “What about the
inhabitants?” says the inquirer. “The same as any other inhabitants,” is
the reply. “But the costumes?” “What costumes?” “Their different
costumes. How are they dressed?” “Like us--they do not go naked.” “And
the pyramids--those monuments of another age--which rise heavenwards and
lose themselves in the clouds?” “Same thing as occurs here--at Boulogne
and Calais, by the sea shore.” The visitor gives this gentleman up and
passes to another, who has been to China, and who declares that the
habits of the Chinese are identical with those of the French. “But how
about their temples, their pagodas?” suggests the visitor. “Do you mean
their houses?” “Yes, the places where they live, and those where they
pray.” “Just like our own, with doors and windows--everything the same
as here.” It is fair to suppose that M. Monnier, who is nothing if not a
humourist, was so amused at the manner in which some few of the old
soldiers had gone through the world with their eyes shut that he found
the temptation to generalise this individual characteristic a trifle too
strong for him.

The first stone of the Hôtel des Invalides was laid on the 30th
November, 1670. Four years afterwards the place was ready for the
reception both of officers and men. The plans of the whole building,
with the exception of the dome, were drawn up by Libéral Bruant, who
directed the works until his death. His duties were then taken up by
Mansard, who made no change in his predecessor’s design, though he
proposed the addition of a dome for which he submitted plans, and which
was in due time constructed.

The Hôtel des Invalides stands in view of the Seine, at the extremity of
a large esplanade planted with trees. In the middle of this esplanade
there used to be a fountain which, under the First Empire, surmounted
the lion of St. Mark, transported from Venice. Retaken in 1814 by the
Austrians, the lion was replaced by an enormous fleur-de-lis, for which
the Revolution of July substituted a bust of La Fayette. Bust and
fountain have both disappeared.

On the Esplanade side of the Invalides are ranged a number of cannons,
forming what is called the “triumphal battery,” which sends forth a peal
of thunder on the occasion of some victory or state ceremony. The pieces
are served by the pensioned artillerymen. The “triumphal battery” is
particularly interesting from being largely composed of all kinds of
foreign guns--Austrian, Prussian, Russian, Dutch, Venetian, Algerian,
and Chinese, many of them taken in action.

Behind the “triumphal battery,” screened off by a sort of stone bastion,
are the little gardens cultivated by the pensioners. Farther back is the
principal façade of the hotel, three storeys high, and more than 200
metres wide, surmounted by a row of attics, and pierced with 133
windows. Projecting from the façade is a forepart enclosing a large
arcade, of which the tympan represents Louis XIV. on horseback,
accompanied by Justice and Prudence, two divinities to whom he did not
always lend an ear. This group, the work of Couston, was maltreated by
the Revolution, but restored by Cartellier. On the two sides of the
entrance are the statues of Mars and Minerva, likewise by Couston. At
the angles formed by the forepart and the façade are pedestals
supporting four figures, in bronze, of chained nations, humbling
themselves at the feet of the statue raised to Louis XIV. by Marshal de
la Feuillade on the Place des Victoires and overthrown in 1792. These
figures are executed by Desjardins.

An adequate description of the interior of the Invalides would fill a
small volume. Remarkable by its architecture, it is interesting by the
military relics and trophies preserved in it. A subterranean crypt,
beneath the celebrated “dome,” contains the tomb of Napoleon, whose
remains were conveyed thither from St. Helena.

[Illustration]

[Illustration: LATUDE RECOGNISES D’ALIGRE AT CHARENTON. (_See p.
216._)]

[Illustration: THE LAËNNEC HOSPITAL, RUE DE SÈVRES.]



CHAPTER XXVIII.

SOME MORE PARIS HOSPITALS.

The French Hospital System--The Laënnec Hospital--The Houses of
Assistance--The Quinze-Vingts--Deaf and Dumb Institutions--The Abbé de
l’Épée--La Charité.


The Hôtel des Invalides suggests the hospitals of Paris in general; and
to the briefest possible glance at these--inasmuch as we have already
given much space to the famous Hôtel Dieu--the present chapter may be
devoted.

“England” says Dr. Le Fort, “opens to the poor wretch without an asylum
and without bread the doors of a workhouse; France those of a prison. To
be without shelter is a misfortune in England; in France it is a crime.
Unable to suppress poverty, our law will tolerate no manifestation of
it. ‘Mendicity,’ as many a printed notice proclaims, is forbidden in the
department of the Seine.”

Dr. Le Fort maintains that the Paris poor are treated with too little
sympathy by the Legislature, and seems to think that if their wants were
more readily relieved, many an indigent invalid, whose health has
gradually given way beneath hunger and destitution, would not have found
his way into hospital.

The Paris hospitals differ from those of London on one important point.
In our metropolis all such institutions are supported by private
charity, enjoying nothing, or next to nothing, in the way of state
subventions. They are open either to the subscribers themselves or to
those whom they choose to recommend. The hospitals of Paris, on the
other hand, are practically state property, entirely independent of the
control of the public. They are beneath the domination of the Prefect of
the Seine and the Minister of the Interior; both represented by a
director fully invested with their power. Side by side with the director
exists a council of superintendence, which investigates and approves, or
disapproves, the acts of that director, without being legally able to
prevent them; for the whole of the executive is in the hands of the
chief official, who is alone responsible. The director, it should be
added, is seldom or never a physician, but a member of the
administrative body.

The council of superintendence consists, amongst its other members, of
the Prefect of the Seine, the Prefect of Police, a Councillor of State,
a member of the Court of Appeal, a Professor of the Faculty of Medicine,
a member of the Chamber of Commerce, and two members of the Municipal
Council, with a doctor and a surgeon attached to the hospital.

The medical service of the hospitals is effected by doctors and
surgeons, aided by resident and non-resident assistants, sisters of
charity, etc. The doctors and surgeons are appointed by competition, and
they can practise, in the case of the former, till sixty-five, in that
of the latter, till sixty years of age.

As regards the conditions under which patients are admitted to the
hospitals, the first of these is not, as one might suppose, that the
applicant be ill, but that he or she have been resident six months in
the department of the Seine. This condition, which excluded poor
patients coming to Paris from the provinces for special treatment,
caused some years ago a good deal of lively criticism. Complaints, too,
have frequently been made of the alleged extravagance of the
administration and of the architectural embellishment of Paris
hospitals, to the detriment of the patients upon whom in a direct manner
the funds should, it was held, have been spent. Another defect which has
been much commented upon is the inability of the surgeons to assign
beds, on their own authority, to sick applicants whom they have
pronounced to be in need of clinical treatment. Every morning, it should
be explained, gratuitous advice is given at each hospital. Those
applicants whose case is serious cannot, without further preliminaries,
have beds assigned to them. The physician has first to represent their
condition to the administrative director, and it is within the power of
this latter functionary to grant or to refuse the admission. In
practice, no doubt, the recommendation of the physician is acceded to;
but the formality might well become, in some instances, a mischievous
one.

During the day urgent cases can be received at the hospitals on the
advice of the deputy medical officers. There exists, moreover, on the
Parvis of Notre Dame, under the name of “central bureau of admission,”
an establishment in which, from ten a.m. to four p.m., advice may be had
from able physicians. Every morning the directors of the different
hospitals send to this bureau a list of their vacant beds; and the
consulting physician assigns them to applicants at his discretion.

Every invalid entering a hospital loses his or her individuality to take
a number. Monsieur 6 and Madame 8 are the kind of appellations by which
the patients are known. After having given in his or her name, age,
address, and occupation at the registration office, the patient is taken
up into the ward and undressed, receiving a grey cloak in exchange for
the vestments put off. It used to be complained that these cloaks were
passed from one patient to another without being in any way purified,
whatever diseases they might be infected with. It may be hoped that this
is no longer the case.

Soon after the new patient’s arrival he is visited by the
house-physician, who prescribes for him a treatment which the
physician-in-chief will confirm or rectify on his daily round next
morning. At five a.m. the ward-servants come on duty, and then a clatter
begins, the brush and the broom being freely plied. “So much the worse,”
says Dr. Le Fort, a severe critic of the Paris hospital system, “for the
patient who, having passed a sleepless night, is beginning to get a
little repose.” In English hospitals, however, the same turmoil reigns
at the same hour, and the sufferer from insomnia is as badly off as his
Parisian fellow.

From eight to nine a.m. the physician goes his round of visits,
accompanied by his assistants. He passes from bed to bed, feels pulses,
looks at tongues, prescribes medicines, and so forth. At ten o’clock the
breakfast-hour is sounded. Large cans, containing soup and vegetables,
are brought into the ward. The ward-servants, or _infirmiers_ present to
the sister a succession of tin basins, into which she serves out the
precise quantity of food ordered for the patients by the doctor. The
quality of the food leaves nothing to be desired. The meat supplied is
the best procurable, the fish is fresh, the vegetables irreproachable;
but the cooking is the reverse of satisfactory. A mutton cutlet, cooked
half an hour before dinner, and put in the oven to keep hot, comes
sometimes to the patient’s bedside rather like a cinder; the joints are
admirable, but as it is found convenient to carve them up some time
before the meal, and keep them likewise in the oven, a cut off the joint
occasionally means a slice of leather. Attempts have been made from
time to time by the administration to reform this style of cooking, but
the reformation has not yet, in practice, been effected.

After breakfast the patient reads or walks about. From one till three
o’clock on Sundays and Thursdays he may receive visits from his family.
At four o’clock the evening repast is served, and at eight the night
commences, all conversation, as in English hospitals, abruptly ceasing.
Thenceforth the repose of the vast wards is disturbed by nothing but the
snoring of sleepers, and the sighs or groans of those to whose eyelids
sleep will not come. The wards would now be in total darkness but for
the faint glimmer of a little lamp suspended from the ceiling.

[Illustration: THE CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL, RUE DE SÈVRES.]

At No. 42 in the Rue de Sèvres stood the hospital or asylum (hospice)
for incurable women, founded by the charity of Marguerite Roulié,
assisted by Cardinal de la Rochefoucauld, Grand Almoner of France. But
the institution has now been transferred to Ivry in a large building,
where incurable men are also received. The house in which the original
hospital for incurables was established is now occupied by the Laennec
Asylum, containing upwards of 300 beds, of which nearly fifty are for
surgical cases. Then there are charitable houses for sick and for
convalescent children. In the Rue de Sèvres (Nos. 93 to 95) is the
monastery of the priests of the mission of St. Lazare, which, since
1816, has occupied the mansion of the Duc de l’Orges.

The chapel dedicated to St. Vincent de Paul, founder of the Lazarists,
contains the relics of the saint, which were transferred to their
present abode on the 29th of April, 1830. Seventeen bishops, with all
the clergy of Paris and of the diocese, took part in the ceremony. The
brothers of the Christian schools, also the sisters of Charity and of
the Foundlings, assisted; in all upwards of 10,000 persons. This was for
the Parisians the great event of the spring of the year 1830, which,
however, in the month of July was to witness a manifestation of a very
different character: the Revolution that brought Louis Philippe to the
throne.

[Illustration: THE BLIND SCHOOL: IN THE WORK-ROOM.]

At the right corner of the Avenue of the Invalides stood, up to the time
of the Revolution of 1789, a country house belonging to the sculptor
Pigalle. The congregation of Notre Dame des Chanoinesses Régulières de
Ste. Augustine, founded there towards 1820 a house of education, which
has remained celebrated under the name of the Convent of the Birds.
Beyond the Boulevard Montparnasse, which branches off at this point
towards the Boulevard des Invalides, is the House of the Infant Jesus,
founded in 1751 by the zeal of the Abbé Languet, Curé of St. Sulpice, by
the liberality of the Marquise de Lassay, and under the patronage of
Queen Marie Lesczinska, in favour of thirty poor and noble young ladies;
to become in 1802 a hospital for sick children. Here the mortality is at
the rate of two out of eleven, which is almost twice the average
mortality in the hospitals for adults. “The idea of creating a special
hospital for children,” said Professor Bouchardat, “excellent at first
sight, is fatal for the unhappy ones who are admitted.” Contagious
diseases spread, as a matter of fact, with particular rapidity among
children. To counteract this evil the Hospice des Enfants Malades has
been provided with a garden, 31,000 square metres in extent, so as to
permit as much as possible the isolation of the little patients.

Besides the inmates of the Paris hospitals a great number of
out-patients receive treatment within their walls.

An important institution in Paris, to which we have practically no
counterpart in England, is one for the nursing of the indigent poor at
their homes. It is admirably organised, and has done a great deal of
inestimable work; and Dr. Le Fort is as proud of it as he seems ashamed
of the Paris hospitals.

On the 25th of May, 1791, the municipality of Paris was charged by the
administration with the distribution amongst the different parishes of
the funds raised for the poor. On the 5th of August a municipal
“Commission of Benevolence” was formed to consider the best method of
administering aid to the indigent; and it is to this commission that the
creation of the “offices of benevolence” is due. At the present time
these offices relieve some twenty Paris mayoralties, besides freeing the
hands of the hospital administration. Each office consists of the mayor
of the arrondissement, as president; two assistants, twelve
administrators, an unlimited number of commissionaires and sisters of
charity, and a secretarial treasurer. Attached to each office are
physicians and surgeons, midwives, etc. The scheme comprises, in each
arrondissement, two or three “houses of assistance” where the poor come
to seek aid for their sick friends, and where patients inscribed on the
list of the indigent may have gratuitous consultations, medicine, and so
forth. Fifty-three such houses are distributed over the capital.

[Illustration: ATTENDANTS’ ROOM IN A PARIS HOSPITAL.]

Any poor or necessitous person wishing to be nursed at home through this
organisation applies in person or by deputy to the office in his
particular arrondissement, and if his case proves to be one requiring
medical aid, the doctor attached to his section is instructed to visit
him.

Dr. Le Fort draws a very strong contrast indeed between the Paris
hospitals and the “houses of assistance.” The former institutions he
declares to be, as a whole, the “most defective and murderous in
Europe”; the latter, a “title to glory” for the city of Paris. He
attributes the difference to the fact that the medical element is
eliminated from the direct administration of the hospitals, but allowed
its proper sway in the “benevolence” system. Certainly, one advantage
of this system is that it strengthens those family ties which a long
residence in hospital relaxes and too often breaks.

In connection with the hospitals and relief institutions of Paris must
be mentioned the National Institution for Blind Children, founded just
after the Revolution by Louis XVI., before the Republican form of
government had been definitely adopted. Its initiator was Valentine
Hauy, the mineralogist, to whom a statue has been erected in the
principal courtyard. The Institution for Blind Children is one of the
ten general establishments of benevolence conducted under the immediate
authority of the Minister of the Interior by a responsible director,
assisted by a consultative commission. The instruction given is
(according to a writer on the subject who evidently does not set too
high a value on music) “technological, musical, and intellectual.”
Employment is found for the children on the completion of their studies.

[Illustration: LA CHARITÉ.]

The house of the strangely named Quinze Vingts is designed for the
reception of 300 blind persons of both sexes, each with his own private
apartments for himself, or himself and family, together with many other
advantages as well in money as in kind. Attached, moreover, to this
institution are 1,300 outside pensioners in all parts of the country,
receiving assistance in money according to the class to which they have
been assigned: 200 francs, 150 francs, and 100 francs.

The origin of the Quinze-Vingts, or Fifteen-Twenties, is lost in
obscurity. Hence all sorts of contradictory stories and conjectures
without foundation, substituted for positive documents. According to
some authors St. Louis, on his return from Palestine, founded the
establishment of the Fifteen-Twenties for 300 knights--the sad remains
of his army.

But the writers of the time make no mention of this alleged fact, and
the ordinances of St. Louis contain no sort of reference to it. The
legend of the 300 knights must therefore be regarded as a fable. It is
certain meanwhile that the blind asylum dates from an epoch anterior to
the reign of St. Louis, though it is quite true that this pious monarch,
by his patronage and his liberality, became the real founder of the
house.

[Illustration: HOSPITAL ON THE BOULEVARD DU PONT ROYAL.]

The Fifteen-Twenties forming a mendicant corporation, subsisting by
alms, and belonging body and soul to their own Order, were first
established in the Rue St. Honoré, not far from the Tuileries. They
remained there under the constant patronage of numerous and powerful
protectors until 1779, in which year Louis XVI. transferred the asylum
to the ancient residence of the Black Musketeers in the Rue de
Charenton. Its revenues already amounted to more than 370,000 livres
(_i.e._ francs). The constitution of the hospital was then modified,
collections in the churches were forbidden, and mendicancy in the
streets likewise. At the same time regular pensions were introduced.

       *       *       *       *       *

Towards the gate of a modest edifice situated in the Rue St. Jacques,
near the Luxemburg Garden, may daily be seen visitors attracted to this
point from all quarters of France and even of the globe. The building
they wish to enter was, until 1794, the seat of the minor seminary of
St. Magloire, belonging to the Archbishop of Paris. In this year he
ceded the house to the deaf and dumb institution, which, founded in 1760
by the Abbé de l’Épée in his own domicile, Rue des Moulins, was, just
after the Revolution, raised to the dignity of a national establishment
and transferred to the ancient monastery of the Célestins near the
Arsenal. The national institution of the Rue St. Jacques, which still
exists and which is under the direction of the Minister of the Interior,
contains some 210 pupils of from seven to fourteen years. The school
comprised, until lately, two divisions entirely separate and distinct,
one for boys, the other for girls, when suddenly the girls of the Paris
institution were sent to the institution of Bordeaux, and the boys of
the Bordeaux school to that of Paris, so that at present, wherever they
may have been born, the deaf and dumb boys are all at Paris, while the
deaf and dumb girls are all at Bordeaux. Professor Ferdinand Berthier,
of the Paris deaf and dumb school, himself deaf and dumb, maintained, in
an article published some five-and-twenty years ago, that this pretended
reform was no amelioration whatever; the deaf and dumb children studying
perfectly well when the boys and girls were educated together under the
same professors. At that time the Paris institution was administered by
a director with the use of speech, assisted by an examiner of studies,
similarly gifted, and a body of professors, some of whom spoke, while
others were deaf and dumb.

[Illustration: ENTRANCE TO THE ST. LOUIS HOSPITAL.]

[Illustration: COURTYARD OF THE ST. LOUIS HOSPITAL.]

One of the best private deaf and dumb institutions in France is at
Lyons. It contains a good number of pupils of both sexes, and its
director is, or was until recently, M. Claudius Forestier, a very
distinguished deaf-mute; his wife, a highly educated person--the
speech-endowed daughter of the deaf-mute founder of the school--acting
as directress.

The number of deaf-mutes in France has been approximately estimated at
25,000; and here, as in nearly all countries where statistics are
published, it is found that the male sufferers are decidedly more
numerous than the female.

To each establishment, public or private, workrooms are attached,
conducted by competent instructors, and in which all the pupils, poor or
rich, serve an apprenticeship to some profession, art, or trade which
will one day enable them to earn a subsistence. No longer, therefore,
is the community encumbered by deaf and dumb idlers; the men and women
thus afflicted leading active lives as shoemakers, dressmakers, tailors,
sempstresses, locksmiths, compositors and even painters and sculptors.

[Illustration: A WARD IN THE ST. LOUIS HOSPITAL.]

[Illustration: THE REPAIRING ROOM, ST. LOUIS HOSPITAL.]

It has been complained that the deaf and dumb institutions of
France--about fifty in number--are insufficient for the instruction of
25,000 deaf-mutes, many of whom must consequently be deprived of
instruction in those employments for which they are generally as apt as
their neighbours who can speak and hear.

The question of the hereditary nature of muteness has been a good deal
discussed by French experts. “Dumbness,” says Ferdinand Berthier, “far
from being a necessary result of deafness, simply follows the latter by
reason of a natural sequence. Whether deaf-muteness dates from birth or
from some accident, it has been proved in the present day that the vocal
apparatus of the deaf-mute and that of a speaking person are with rare
exceptions equally well organised. A prejudice still too widely spread
in the world, and worthy of every effort towards its destruction, is
that deaf-muteness is infallibly transmitted from father or mother to
child; when on all sides we see deaf-mutes, married between themselves
or to speaking spouses, constantly producing children who both hear and
speak, and in no way share the parental infirmity. Those arts which
have enabled the sublimest efforts of genius to dazzle the world do not,
in our opinion, merit greater attention from scholars and philosophers
than the method which shall open to the deaf-mutes a road leading to
intellectual labour and to the full enjoyment of civil and political
rights.”

Looking back to antiquity, this excellent writer points out that the
ancients regarded the education of deaf-mutes as an impossibility both
physical and moral.

It was the custom at Sparta to allow children suffering from this double
infirmity to die of hunger and thirst in the desert, where they were for
that purpose exposed; and the laws of Solon were on this point no less
severe. Aristotle, if he did not precisely justify the rigour of such
laws, at least endorsed the moral prescription. In the fourth book of
his History of Animals he unhesitatingly relegates deaf-mutes to the
rank of idiots, declaring them hopelessly beyond all tuition. The
Republic of Rome did not show itself more humane. It was in vain that
intelligence beamed in the face of these unhappy victims: if their
tongue could produce no sound they were condemned to be flung into the
Tiber.

One of the earliest agents in the removal of this weight of infamy from
the fraternity of deaf-mutes was, curiously enough, the stage. Lucian
eulogises the pantomime of the dumb-show actors of his epoch, and the
admirable influence they exercised in raising the deaf and speechless
above general contempt. The Egyptians and Persians, more civilised and
enlightened in this respect than Sparta, Athens, or Rome, showed for
their deaf-mutes a solicitude which approached devotion.

In centuries less remote many efforts have from time to time been made
by philosophers and philanthropists to invent an effectual method of
instructing deaf-mutes. The sign method of the Abbé de l’Épée was one of
the first great steps in this direction. The abbé held that the
old-fashioned dactylology was insufficient, and that signs were
essential to those who could neither hear nor speak. Starting from the
incontestable principle that the bond existing between ideas and sounds
which strike the ear is not more intimate, more natural, than the bond
between ideas and traced characters which strike the eye, he found it by
no means difficult to demonstrate the possibility of fully replacing
speech, in the case of a deaf-mute, by mimicry.

As regards this mimicry, M. Berthier cautions people against the common
mistake of confounding it with dactylology, or the language of the
fingers. Dactylology is confined to the servile reproduction of the
letters of the alphabet of any particular language, one by one, syllable
by syllable, word by word, or in no matter what other conventional
manner. Mimicry, a faithful picture of human thought, paints ideas and
sentiments in a living language--the innate language of all nations--the
language of humanity. By means of it thoughts are exchanged more quickly
than by speech or writing--not to mention dactylology, which lags so far
behind.

In the midst of his brilliant triumphs the Abbé de l’Épée had frequently
to engage in conflict with two classes of powerful adversaries: the
philosophers and the theologians; the former regarding words as the only
vehicle for imparting metaphysical ideas, the latter regarding them as
the sole means of inculcating supernatural religious truths.

Louis XVI. had granted the abbé out of his own privy purse an annual
pension of 6,000 francs, in addition to his official appointment at the
Célestins. Hitherto the school had, for twelve years, been maintained
entirely at the cost of the founder, aided by such occasional alms as he
received for the purpose. It was at the Célestins in 1789 that he
expired, amid the weeping of his pupils and with the delightful thought
that his work would not perish with him.

Amongst the disciples of the Abbé de l’Épée must be mentioned the Abbé
Sicard, canon of Bordeaux, whom the archbishop of that town sent to
Paris, where he had founded a deaf-mute institution, in order that he
might study under de l’Épée that method of which there was so much talk.
The high talents of this young priest soon enabled him to divine,
comprehend, and complete the thought of his master in exciting the warm
sympathies of the public towards those unfortunate persons whose tongue
was tied and whose ear was stopped.

On the death of de l’Épée, Sicard competed for and was unanimously
awarded the management of the abbé’s institution. Having already written
not a little on the subject of deaf-muteness, he now published other
works, “A Deaf-mute’s Course of Instruction,” among others, which only
served to increase his renown; though in this treatise there was indeed
one highly objectionable assertion concerning the condition of a
deaf-mute which the author found it necessary to retract in his “Theory
of Signs.”

During the Revolution of 1793 the Abbé Sicard did not escape
persecution. Flung into prison after the eventful 10th of August, he was
lucky enough to keep his head on his shoulders during the massacres of
September. He had scarcely been set at liberty when, as editor of the
_Catholic Annals_, he was condemned to transportation to Cayenne; and he
passed the next two years of his life in flight far from his beloved
institution, of which he did not resume the direction till after the
Revolution of the 18th “Brumaire.” He died in 1822.

Among the professors whom he formed must be mentioned a speech-endowed
one named Bébian, who in his turn trained several deaf-mute professors.
His works are still consulted with advantage both in France and abroad
by those who wish to devote themselves to this arduous method of
instruction. The object he kept before him in writing was, as he himself
expressed it at the commencement of one of his books, “to simplify the
method and render it so easy that the mother of a family can teach her
deaf-mute child to read just as she teaches the others to speak.”

Oblivion had already seemed too long to have overspread the remains of
the Abbé de l’Épée when, in 1837, on the initiative of M. Berthier, a
numerous and distinguished committee was formed for the purpose of
raising to the clerical philanthropist a monument worthy of him in that
chapel of the church of St. Roch which belonged to his family, and in
which he was accustomed to celebrate mass, assisted by deaf-mutes. It
was here indeed that his ashes lay. An admirable sculptor, M. August
Préault, was unanimously chosen to interpret the homage which so many
famous deaf-mutes and others wished to pay to the abbé’s memory, and he
worthily carried out the intentions both of committee and subscribers.
Eight years afterwards, in 1845, a crown of laurels in bronze was placed
beside the monument with this simple inscription: “To the Abbé de
l’Épée, from the Swedish deaf-mutes.” This crown, beautifully executed,
was likewise the work of Préault. The year previously the same sculptor
had testified his own admiration of the abbé by contributing to the
Hôtel de Ville a fine statue of him. The town of Versailles, which was
proud of being the birthplace of the great founder of the deaf-mute
institution, could not do less than follow the example set by Paris in
voting to his memory a statue, which was confided to the chisel of M.
Michant. The same artist was subsequently commissioned by the Count de
Montalivet, then intendant-general of the civil list, to execute a bust
of the abbé for the historic gallery of Versailles.

[Illustration: THE TENON HOSPITAL.]

The Paris hospitals are not, like ours, supported by voluntary
contributions. Many of them have from the beginning been richly endowed.
Others depend on grants from the State or from the Municipality; while a
few are maintained from mixed sources. None of them, however, depend, as
in England, on subscriptions and donations received periodically from
charitable persons. Consequently, applicants for relief or advice need
neither letters of recommendation nor introductions of any kind. Medical
succour is given at certain hours to all who choose to ask for it.
Patients seeking admission and regular attendance have sometimes to wait
for their turn. But there are, in proportion to the population, quite as
many beds at the service of the sick in Paris as in London.

[Illustration: NURSE PUPILS AT THE MATERNITY HOSPITAL.]

Of the most ancient and most famous of all the French hospitals--the
Hôtel Dieu--mention has already been made. Scarcely less celebrated, in
view of the important services they have rendered and of the many
physicians and surgeons of eminence who have lectured, operated, and
prescribed within their walls, are the two hospitals named after those
divine qualities Charity and Pity.

The Hospital of La Charité is the principal one on the left bank of the
Seine; nor is its position likely to be forgotten by those who have
heard of the famous professor of surgery--Lisfranc--and his attacks upon
the illustrious Dupuytren, head of the Hôtel Dieu, whom Lisfranc, in his
highly polemical lectures, used habitually to describe as “ce brigand de
l’autre côté de l’eau.” Lisfranc had doubtless differed with his eminent
rival on some slight theoretical point, for which reason he accused him,
with a vehemence which Molière’s own doctors might have envied, of
mental perturbations and moral offences in no way attributable to him.

No less than three benevolent institutions have been founded in Paris
under the name of Charity--the Hôpital de la Charité Chrétienne, endowed
and opened by Marguerite de Provence, widow of Louis IX., but destined
in the course of ages to disappear; the Maison de la Charité, founded
by the town of Paris at the beginning of the sixteenth century, with the
aid of Francis I., against epidemics, afterwards to become known as the
Maison de la Santé; and finally, the Hôpital de la Charité, already
referred to, which remains one of the first medical and surgical
institutions in Paris.

[Illustration: FONT AT THE MATERNITY HOSPITAL.]

[Illustration: THE MATERNITY HOSPITAL.]

The origin of La Charité and its history up to the time of the
Revolution are sufficiently curious. A hospital was founded at Grenada
in 1540 by St. John of God, who became the chief of a religious order
which occupied itself specially with the care of the sick. This
congregation of hospitallers spread rapidly throughout Europe, and a
certain number of its members being, in 1602, at Paris, Marguerite de
Valois, the divorced wife of Henry the Fourth, who in her old age, when
her passions had somewhat subsided, became religious, enabled them to
establish a hospital, to which the name of La Charité was given. The
brothers of the Order of St. John of God had already a place of their
own, which they gave up in order to take possession of the larger
premises placed at their disposal by Queen Marguerite. A capacious
house, surrounded by vast gardens, was the first home of La Charité.
Here patients were received and treated by the brethren, who, besides
religion, had studied medicine, surgery, and pharmacy. Their vows did
not allow them to admit women, and their utility seems to have been
further limited by insufficient knowledge of the art of healing; and
this notwithstanding the fact that several of the brethren made
themselves a great name as surgeons and physicians. In the early part of
the eighteenth century they joined to their staff medical men from the
ranks of the laity; compelled to this step by an edict from the
Parliament of Paris which ordered them to admit, without salary, a
surgeon-apprentice to help them in dressing wounds, and a master-surgeon
to share their labours generally. Throughout the eighteenth century they
found themselves constantly exposed to attacks from the members of the
various medical and surgical guilds, who claimed the sole right of
attending the sick and wounded.

[Illustration: HÔPITAL DE LA PITIÉ.]

In 1792, three years after the outbreak of the Revolution, the different
religious congregations were broken up, and the Hospital of La Charité
was placed under the direction of the Municipality of Paris. The very
title was abolished, and instead of Hôpital de la Charité--beautiful and
suggestive name!--it was now called, without the least significance,
Hôpital de l’Unité. Under the Restoration, however, its old name was
given back to it; and since then, under many changes of government, it
has retained its original appellation.

Among the other hospitals of Paris the most important are those of La
Pitié and of St. Louis, to which may be added L’Hôpital du Midi, and a
number of special hospitals, such as the one known as La Maternité,
founded in 1795, which is at once a school for the instruction of
wet-nurses, and a maison d’accouchement, or lying-in hospital.



CHAPTER XXIX.

LUNATIC ASYLUMS AND MIXED INSTITUTIONS.

The Treatment of Lunacy in the Past--La Salpêtrière--Bicêtre--The Story
of Latude--The Four Sergeants of La Rochelle--Pinel’s
Reforms--Charenton.


Our description of the hospitals and asylums of Paris would be scarcely
complete without some mention of the public madhouses. In
pre-revolutionary Paris no special establishment for the treatment of
the insane existed. Strange as it may seem, there were no lunatic
asylums in France until the beginning of this century; nor until 1838
was any such institution formally recognised by law. We have not far to
go back to find the demented treated as criminals, or exorcised as
demoniacs, or put to death as magicians and sorcerers. Mr. H. C.
Burdett, who has recently published a work on the hospitals and asylums
of the world, divides the history of lunatics and their treatment into
four periods.

I. An early period when, at the beginning of the Christian era, the
insane were brought together and placed under intelligent control.--In
this connection Mr. Burdett cites the rules given for the treatment of
lunatics by Aretæus (A.D. 80) and Soranus (A.D. 95). The latter, in
particular, gave directions of great minuteness as to the temperature
and furniture of the rooms, the arrangements of the bed, the physical
and mental exercises to which the patients afflicted with dementia were
to be subjected. The superintendents, according to the rules of this
period, were to have strict instructions to repress the errors of the
patients in such a way as not to exasperate them by too much sharpness,
and yet not permit them, by too much weakness, to increase their
unreasonable demands. Subsequent writers deal with insanity in a like
spirit of enlightenment down to Paulus Ægineta (A.D. 650).

II. The period of slaughter.--In the Middle Ages the treatment of
lunatics was worthy only of the ages characterised as dark. A madman was
worse treated than a mad dog. For twelve centuries lunatics were
commonly put to death, and in most cases by burning at the stake. In
France alone twenty thousand are said to have been burnt in a hundred
years; and the same thing went on in every other country. Those who were
not burnt wandered at large in a wretched condition, to die at last from
exposure; or they were confined in dungeons, starved and cruelly
maltreated. Ambrose Paré, the celebrated French surgeon, medical
attendant of Francis I., fully believed that lunatics were possessed by
the devil. “They may often be seen,” he says, “to change into goats,
asses, dogs, wolves, crows, and frogs; they cause thunder and lightning,
lift castles into the air, and fascinate the eye.” King Louis XIV. has
been much reproached since his death as he was adulated during his
lifetime. To him, in any case, is due the first movement against the
cruel--the absolutely insane treatment of the insane. In 1670 a trial
took place in Normandy which ended in the condemnation of seventeen
people to the stake, either as lunatics or as sorcerers. A rat, it was
sworn, had been seen talking to a child; and on the strength of this
evidence everyone who could be brought into connection with the strange
incident was sentenced to death. The king was indignant, and soon
afterwards a decree was published forbidding trials of the kind in
future.

III. The period of torture.--Though no longer subject to death
punishment by fire, lunatics were almost as badly off in the eighteenth
and at the beginning of the nineteenth century as at an earlier time.
Such asylums as existed in France and other countries up to the present
century were entirely of a monastic kind; and it was not, as before
mentioned, until the reign of Louis Philippe that any regular secular
institution for the treatment of the insane was founded. The unhappy
lunatics were probably happiest in those countries where least notice
was taken of them; for not a century ago they were liable, when “cared
for,” to copious bleeding, shower-baths, sudden frights, and rigid
coercion. In some places they were chained and flogged at the changes of
the moon, or they were placed under the charge of criminals, who set
dogs on them and tortured them to death. The doctors, instead of
checking these barbarities, encouraged them; and from time to time
invented new ones. They it was who introduced the “circular swing” and
“bath of surprise.” One torture, diabolically devised, was to lower the
patient into a well, chain him there, and allow the water to rise
gradually to his mouth in order to give a shock to his nerves. An
unhappy man named Norris was in England, at the so-called Hospital of
Bethlem, fixed to the wall by the neck and waist so that he could not
move a foot or raise his arms; and, thus attached, he remained for
twelve years.

“At an epoch not far distant from our own,” says Dr. Linas in a paper on
lunatic asylums in France, “demented persons were, with the exception of
those who found an asylum in the monasteries, treated as vagabonds and
even criminals.”

The first attempts to improve the condition of the unhappy lunatic were
made by Dr. Tenon, and by a member of the Constituent Assembly, M.
Rochefoucauld-Liancourt, in 1791. A year later Pinel, equally estimable
for his philanthropic and for his scientific spirit, introduced at
Bicêtre the reforms which, in common with the two excellent men before
named, he had long been meditating. For the First Revolution, then, with
all its mad excesses, must be claimed the honour of having introduced in
modern times the humane treatment of the insane. The Revolution, indeed,
opened not only a “career to talent,” but a path to very useful reform.
The mad patients were now taken from the Hôtel Dieu and other hospitals
to be placed at Charenton, Bicêtre, and La Salpêtrière (1802-1807). From
that time these asylums, placed under the direction of eminent medical
men, changed their character. The employment of force or coercion with
lunacy was at an end; and the new establishments, thanks to the
intelligence and zeal of Esquirol, Ferrus, and their disciples, gained
the highest reputation throughout Europe. The study of mental maladies
was now for the first time followed.

[Illustration: FAÇADE OF THE MAIN BUILDINGS, SALPÊTRIÈRE.]

It was not, however, until 1838 that Charenton became a lunatic asylum
and nothing else. Bicêtre and La Salpêtrière remained hybrid
institutions, half hospitals, half asylums; receptacles alike for
madness and old age. The inmates of Charenton are treated with the
greatest kindness. Cases of insubordination must of course be dealt
with; and they are treated by the withdrawal of some favour or (less
humanely, as it would seem to the lay reader) by the shower-bath. A
strait-jacket, with long sewn-up sleeves, is the only means of coercion
employed with violent and dangerous madmen, so as to preserve them
against the excesses of their own fury and to render it impossible for
them to injure their companions. The wards of the unruly patients--broad
and lofty, well lighted, well ventilated, with waxed floors--present no
resemblance whatever to the cages of former days.

All patients without exception, peaceful or unruly, are in the enjoyment
of fresh air, sunlight, space, and as much liberty as can be prudently
allowed them. They correspond with their relatives and receive visits
from their family and their friends. Once a month they are officially
visited by a magistrate, whose duty it is to question them and listen to
their complaints. For the men there are workshops of all kinds, for the
women workrooms. The dormitories are well kept, the dining rooms are
exquisitely clean, and for the recreation of the patients there are
billiard rooms, drawing rooms, and libraries. Music, too, and drawing
may be cultivated. During the summer there are excursions to the
country, during the winter evening parties, concerts, and dramatic
representations. Among the inmates persons of every age, every rank, and
every profession are to be found: some of them monomaniacs, harmless
dreamers after an impossible chimera or vain hope; or it may be
obstinately attached to some wild idea which they cannot refer to
without expressions of violence. The liberal professions are largely
represented at Charenton, and, due numerical proportion being observed,
furnish more lunatics than any other class. “Paris,” says Dr. Linas,
“the great rendezvous of every kind of ambition, every kind of vanity,
every presumption, every passion, every pleasure, and every form of
misery, furnishes a larger contingent than any other part of France.”
While the proportion of lunatics for the other departments is one to
from 1,500 to 2,000 inhabitants, it is in the ratio of one to 500 for
the department of the Seine. In 1801 this department had 946 lunatics to
support, in 1845 2,595, in 1851 3,060, and in 1865 4,388. Happily,
however, largely as the numbers will be seen to have swelled, a great
many cures are yearly effected. In the year last-named 389 patients (154
men and 224 women) were discharged sane from Bicêtre and the
Salpêtrière.

There are two modes of admission to these asylums. The Prefect of the
Seine authorises the admission of harmless patients on the demand of
those patients’ friends; but lunatics who are considered dangerous to
the community--and these form by far the greater proportion--are shut up
by order of the Prefect of Police.

Let us take a leisurely glance at the two great French lunatic asylums.
To begin with La Salpêtrière. It is situated on the 13th arrondissement,
almost at the entrance to the Boulevard de l’Hôpital, and not far from
the Jardin des Plantes and the Bridge of Austerlitz. On the pediment of
its portal is this inscription: “Hospital for old age--Women.” Such has
been the official title of the institution since 1823, but the more
ancient and popular name, that of La Salpêtrière, has prevailed in
common use.

[Illustration: THE MAZARIN WARD, SALPÊTRIÈRE.]

At the spot which is occupied by this madhouse there stood in the reign
of Louis XIII. a little arsenal called La Salpêtrière, on account of the
saltpetre which was made within its walls. In 1656 appeared an edict of
Louis XIV. ordering the establishment at this point of a general
hospital for the “poor mendicants of the town and suburbs of Paris.”
Thanks to the royal munificence, to the liberality and generous
co-operation of Cardinal Mazarin, of the Duchess d’Aiguillon, and
several notable citizens, to the pious zeal of Vincent de Paul, and to
the active direction of the architects Levau, Bruant, Duval, and Le
Muet, the various buildings of the arsenal were happily converted into a
retreat for the poor, two new blocks, those of Mazarin and St. Claire,
being added to the original structures. From the 7th to the 13th of May,
1657, the hospital opened its doors to 628 poor women, blind, mad, and
imbecile, infirm, invalid, deaf, or otherwise afflicted, as well as to
192 children of from two to seven years of age, who, born in many cases
out of wedlock, had been exposed and abandoned.

In 1669 the church was built by the king’s orders. Towards 1684 was
constructed in the centre of the hospital the prison of La Force, where
women of irregular life were incarcerated. In 1756 the Marchioness de
Lassay caused to be constructed at her own expense the superb building
which bears her name, and which forms a pendant to that of Mazarin.

At the period last mentioned La Salpêtrière still contained, as at its
origin, the most strangely mixed population that could be conceived. At
the end of the last century, and more particularly at the beginning of
the present, efforts were made to transform this “frightful sewer,” as
Camus called it. From 1801 to 1804 La Force was evacuated. Its feminine
inhabitants transferred to Lourcine, the children went to the Orphelins;
the insane were separated from the infirm and placed in a special
quarter. From 1815 to 1823, in virtue of a very strong report drawn up
by M. de Pastoret, the dungeons of La Salpêtrière were destroyed, the
sanitation improved, the dormitories enlarged and well ventilated, the
furniture renewed, and the diet improved. Finally, as if to efface all
memory of the past, the asylum received the name of Hospital for Old
Age. Other subsequent ameliorations, notably those effected in 1836,
1845, 1848, and 1851, have contributed to render La Salpêtrière what it
certainly is in the present day--the finest institution of the kind in
France.

The total population of the establishment is no less than 5,000,
comprising as it does some 800 employés, 1,500 lunatics, and nearly
3,600 patients, old or infirm. The annual expenses amount to nearly two
million francs. Within the precincts of La Salpêtrière the visitor might
fancy himself in a small town. There is a church, a letter box, a
tobacco shop, a butcher’s shop, warehouses, wash-houses, and a market,
or rather bazaar, where all sorts of goods are retailed, such as fruit,
vegetables, sweetmeats, and pastry; there are streets named after the
establishments to which they lead--Laundry Street, Kitchen Street,
Church Street, and so on; there are large promenades and pretty gardens,
together with courts, squares, and “places” bearing the illustrious name
of a founder, a benefactress, a physician, or a saint immortalised by
charity.

This vast community of indigence and madness is under the control of the
general administration of Public Assistance. The local management is in
the hands of a director, assisted by a steward and eleven clerks. The
medical officers are seven in number, five for the insane and two for
the infirm; not to mention a surgeon, a dispensing chemist, and other
medical assistants. The religious services are conducted according both
to the Catholic and the Protestant ritual. The staff of female
attendants is divided up into superintendents, under-superintendents,
household servants, etc. The superintendents and under-superintendents
wear a black uniform, severe but in good taste. They are women carefully
chosen, able, devoted, of tried zeal, benevolent character, and not
infrequently of mental culture.

Before the principal entrance to La Salpêtrière, looking towards the
Boulevard de l’Hôpital, is a more or less triangular open space, which,
almost deserted during five days of the week, is animated and noisy like
a fair every Thursday and Sunday between the hours of twelve and four;
for the public is then admitted to see the inmates, and the wandering
dealers have assembled in order to sell presents for the unfortunate
patients. The two porters of the establishment have on these days enough
to do, since the number of visitors averages from 1,200 to 3,000.

Before entering the hospital the church is worthy of observation. Louis
XIV. ordered it to be built in December, 1669, and it was constructed by
the celebrated architect, Levau. It is of octagonal form, and like the
ancient basilicas, of which the model is preserved by the Greek Church
in Russia and elsewhere, it is surmounted by five cupolas: a central
one, beneath which stands the high altar, and four lateral ones covering
an equal number of chapels.

Under the portico are two allegorical groups by the famous sculptor,
Etex. The interior of the church is adorned with ancient organs, statues
of Christ and of the twelve apostles, and a number of pictures belonging
to the eighteenth century, some of which should not hastily be passed
by. Every Sunday nearly three hundred demented women assist with the
greatest devotion at the celebration of mass. On the buildings and wings
to the right and left of the church are engraved the names of the most
illustrious and most generous benefactors of the Salpêtrière: Mazarin,
Bellièvre, Fouquet, and Lassay.

Administratively and medically the Salpêtrière is divided into five
compartments, which are subdivided into quarters or sections. The old
people, the incurables, the infirm, form three separate classes. The
principal wards bear the names of Mazarin, Lassay, St. Jacques, St.
Léon, and Ste. Claire. There are smaller wards which are dedicated to
the Virgin, to St. Vincent de Paul, the guardian angel, and St.
Magdalen.

The patients are allowed three meals a day: between seven and eight a
breakfast of bread and milk; between eleven and twelve, soup and boiled
beef; between four and five, a plate of vegetables and then dessert.
Those who are well enough, to the number of 850, take their meals in the
refectory; the others, upwards of 1,700, are served in the dormitories.
The annual mortality among the indigent inmates averages 23 per cent. At
the time Dr. Linas wrote his paper on La Salpêtrière there were several
examples of longevity in the institution, including a certain Madame
Mercier, who was well and lively at 104.

The department which occupies the southern extremity of La Salpêtrière
is the one specially devoted to lunatics. Placed at the head of the
establishment in 1795, Pinel introduced at this hospital the same
beneficent reforms with which he had already endowed Bicêtre. He at once
did away with the chains, fetters, and irons with which, until his time,
the patients were loaded, and he filled up the subterranean dungeons in
which unhappy women, half naked, had often had their feet gnawed by
rats, or frozen by the cold of winter. From 1818 to 1836 Esquirol,
pupil, disciple, and friend of Pinel, introduced new modifications to
soften the lot of the deranged.

Connected with La Salpêtrière are many interesting traditions. During
its earliest days St. Vincent de Paul ministered constantly to the
patients. Here Bossuet, on the 29th of June, 1657, pronounced his
panegyric on St. Paul, one of the masterpieces of Christian eloquence.
Here was confined in 1788 the mysterious personage calling herself
Madame de Donhault, whose identity has never been established, and who
is known in judicial annals as the “WOMAN WITHOUT A NAME,” or “THE SHAM
MARCHIONESS.” Here, too, was shut up the widow and accomplice of the
famous poisoner, Desrues, massacred with thirty-five other prisoners on
the 4th of September, 1792. Two other women who played in the world two
very different parts died at La Salpêtrière: Théroigne de Méricourt, at
the age of fifty-seven, after eighteen years of wild illusions, and
Mdlle. Quino.

The Salpêtrière has been the cradle of important physical and
psychological studies in connection with brain diseases. These have
sometimes taken a slightly fantastic form, as when Esquirol and his
nephew, Dr. Miture, endeavoured to cure madness by the most agreeable
remedies--the former prescribing music, the latter champagne. Rostan and
Georget in 1822 made at La Salpêtrière experiments in animal magnetism,
which attracted much attention in the scientific world, especially as
regards two subjects, now well known in the history of somnabulism: the
young Petronilla, and the widow Brouillard, nicknamed Braquette, whose
clairvoyance was some years later put to a delicate test by three
mischievous house surgeons, MM. Dechambre, Diday, and Debrou. A number
of interesting and very important experiments in the new science (or old
science under a new name) of hypnotism have been made by Charcot and his
pupils at this institution. Here, too, a close examination and analysis
of the cerebral manifestations of the insane led some subtle anatomist
to the conclusion that genius was but a form of insanity. There was one
physician of La Salpêtrière, M. Lélut, member of the Chamber of
Deputies, and of the Institute, who, in two remarkable works,
endeavoured to prove that in the minds of Socrates and of Pascal there
was, at least, a touch of madness. Another learned physician, attached
during the Louis Philippe period to the Salpêtrière, M.
Trélat--described by Dr. Linas as “an excellent man, ex-minister, and
_not_ a member of the Legion of Honour”--wrote a book, which may be
classed with the one just named, on “Lucid Madness.”

Bicêtre, an asylum of the same character as La Salpêtrière, derives its
name from the familiar Winchester. On the site of Bicêtre, in the year
of grace 1284, Jean de Pontoise, Bishop of Winchester, built near Paris
a manor house, which, after the name of his see, he called Winchester,
soon corrupted into Wicester, which, by a further process of corruption,
became successively Bicestre and Bicêtre. After going through various
hands, and at last passing into the king’s possession, Bicêtre was given
in 1656 by Louis XIV. to be turned into a hospital for old men above the
age of seventy, lame and incurable children, the blind, the paralytic,
the imbecile, and the epileptic, together with women of dissolute life,
who were to be received only on condition of being corrected, whipped,
and fed on bread and water.

At the period of the Revolution Bicêtre was at once a hospital, an
asylum, a prison, and a house of correction, until, in 1791, it became
at the same time a madhouse. The lunatics were at first mixed up with
the criminals, or confined in horrible dungeons, but at length the
intelligent and benevolent Pinel broke their chains. It was only in
1812, however, that the lunatics were placed in a special compartment,
separate at once from the criminals and from the patients. Bicêtre
continued to be a prison until 1836, when it became simply a hospital.
At present the dungeons of former days are used as store-rooms for
provisions and drugs.

[Illustration: PLACE DE CONSEIL, SALPÊTRIÈRE.]

Bicêtre is a little beyond the fortifications on the road to
Fontainebleau. An avenue, lined with eating houses and taverns, so
plentiful at all the Barriers, leads to the principal entrance, which is
surmounted by a royal escutcheon with this inscription, “Hospice de la
Vieillesse--Hommes.” It is inhabited by some 3,000 persons, comprising
more than four hundred officials and servants, upwards of 1,500 indigent
persons, between fifty and sixty convalescents, 1,830 adult lunatics,
and 120 epileptic and idiotic children. The annual cost of the
establishment amounts to one million and a half francs.

Bicêtre, like the Salpêtrière, is divided into departments: the Hospice
on the north, where the aged and infirm of the city of Paris are
gratuitously received; and the Asile, on the south, intended for the
lunatics of the Department of the Seine. Like the Salpêtrière, it has
more the character of a town than of a single building. Without any
pretension to architecture, Bicêtre is composed of wings, outgrowths,
and “annexes” of various kinds, added and super-added to the original
and central structure. The shops attached to the establishment are now
limited to a grocer’s and a tobacconist’s. There was formerly a shop for
the sale of alcoholic drinks; but the intemperance of the customers
caused the administration to banish for ever its estimable proprietor.
For similar reasons the strictest regulations have been affixed to the
door of the still-existing canteen.

The canteen occupies the superb cellar of the ancient manor house: an
immense crypt, admirably constructed and supported by a double rank of
robust pilasters. It was formerly the Eldorado of the inhabitants of
Bicêtre. Officials, servants, visitors, were in the canteen from morning
till night, giving themselves up to libations of Rabelaisian magnitude;
so much so that this, pauper-tavern brought in, one year with another, a
clear profit of 50,000 francs. To put a stop to these abuses, both in
the interest of morality and of health, the administration of La
Salpêtrière, instead of letting out the canteen to enterprising
speculators, assumed the entire direction of it, and introduced
stringent regulations, by which the canteen is only open for two hours
in the morning and two hours in the evening. No one, moreover, must
enter it more than once in twenty-four hours, when the order must be
limited to thirty centilitres (about 1/3 of a quart) of wine, or five
centilitres of brandy. Complaints, threats, and even partial revolt were
the consequences of this severe edict; but it had to be observed.

For the rest, the inhabitants of Bicêtre, if they are really thirsty,
have excellent water within reach. The great well, said to be the finest
in the world, is one of the curiosities of the place. The depth of the
well is equal to the height of the towers of Notre Dame. Its walls are
faced with masonry to a depth of some 150 feet, and the bottom is
reached by a staircase of 220 steps. The mouth is enclosed by an immense
cage, intended to preserve the beholder from the vertiginous attractions
of its depth. The three pumps connected with the well used formerly to
be worked day and night by prisoners, and, when they were tired out, by
lunatics. For the last thirty years, however, the pumping has been done
by a steam engine. The water is discharged into an immense reservoir,
which received the major part of its contents from the well, and the
remainder from the Seine.

[Illustration: THE PARK, SALPÊTRIÈRE.]

Close to the great well are the workshops, where, among other products,
some seven thousand pairs of boots and shoes are turned out every year.
All the able-bodied inmates must do work of some kind, for which they
are remunerated at the rate of from ten to seventy centimes a day.

The library, founded in 1860, contains 2,500 volumes, and is open twice
a day.

The inmates of Bicêtre come from all classes: workmen, soldiers,
servants, artists, writers, professors, inventors, shopkeepers,
government clerks--whom imprudence, misconduct, or misfortune has
reduced to poverty. This mixed population is said to be difficult to
rule, and in former days it frequently showed insubordination, and even
rose in insurrection against the officials of the place. The rising of
1837 was caused by the limitations in connection with drink, already
mentioned; that of 1841 by the suppression of the right to dine alone;
that of 1848 by the abolition of liberty to go out every day at any hour
without permission. To prevent the return of any such disturbances an
administrative order was issued in 1850, instituting the following
penalties against particular offences: stoppage of wine, withdrawal of
leave to go out, imprisonment and expulsion from the asylum. It may be
seen from the above that it is not alone in the mad division of the
hospital that lunatics are to be found.

The lunatic department at Bicêtre is divided into three sections; the
first and second being assigned to adult lunatics, the third to
epileptics and idiots. The study in which peaceable lunatics assemble to
read, write, or draw is interesting, if only for the objects of art
which adorn it: busts, statues, water-colours, engravings, sepias, and
pen-and-ink drawings, some by unknown artists, others by artists of
celebrity--many of them inmates, for a while, at least, of the asylum.
In the time of Dr. Linas (some twenty years ago) there was a painter in
the lunatic wards of Bicêtre, a former priest, known in the house as
“Monsieur L’Abbé,” who, if he had not gone mad, would, in the opinion of
Dr. Linas, have earned renown. “Nothing,” says the doctor, “is more
curious than his symbolical picture of ‘Life’: a vast composition, in
which are represented, with wonderful harmony of ensemble, and a
prodigious fecundity of detail, all the splendour and all the misery,
all the heights and all the depths, all the virtues and all the vices,
all the grandeurs and all the infamies, all the beauty and all the
turpitude, of human existence from the cradle to the grave.”

The ward for epileptic and idiotic children is the saddest of all, by
its arrangement and general exterior, as well as by the condition of the
patients. These are well cared for. Unhappy creatures, who were formerly
regarded as the dregs of humanity, are now made the object of the most
devoted solicitude. Two physicians, of heart as well as of talent, were
the first to show that idiocy has its degrees, and is not absolutely
refractory to intellectual culture. At their suggestion a school for
idiots was instituted at Bicêtre in 1842, and since then untiring
endeavour has been made to further their education. They are taught to
speak, to read, to sing. Their irregular attitudes and gestures are
corrected, and their muscular system is developed by marching, running,
dancing, fencing, digging, and gymnastics of every kind. Their senses
are directed, their bad instincts reformed, and in time, according to
their aptitude, they are made cobblers, carpenters, and so on. Many
children admitted as idiots leave the asylum every year to exercise
these trades, and live by their work.

Criminal lunatics, condemned by a verdict, or dangerous ones, certified
as such, are kept apart in a building called La Sureté. Within this
sinister rotunda the patients are kept in cells, and subjected night and
day to the strictest surveillance. The ordinary occupation of these
dangerous lunatics is the harmless one of cutting out artificial
flowers. Their occasional fits of violence are dealt with only by the
application of the strait-jacket.

Many of the officials at Bicêtre look upon the place not only as a home,
but as a native land. Born at Bicêtre of parents who were preceded at
the same institution by their own parents, the functionaries form a sort
of official dynasty. Bicêtre has had its celebrities, its dramas, its
memorable events. In legendary times the hill-side of Gentilly was
haunted by Wehr-wolves, and the wizards of the neighbourhood held
sabbath there. Interesting anecdotes have been told about the captivity
of Salomon de Caux in the dungeons of Bicêtre, and the visit of Marion
Delorme to the inventor, supposed by many of his countrymen to have
constructed the first steam engine. At the time, however, of Salomon de
Caux (1580-1630) Bicêtre was a magnificent country house, and neither a
prison nor an asylum. It is certain, on the other hand, that this
establishment has reckoned among its prisoners or its patients Latude,
the unhappy victim of the hatred of Mme. de Pompadour, who, after
escaping three times from Vincennes and the Bastille, was three times
re-arrested, and finally delivered, after thirty-five years of
captivity, by the courageous perseverance of Mme. Legros.

The pathetic story of Latude might be told in connection with more than
one of the Paris prisons, mixed establishments, and lunatic asylums; for
he was confined successively in the Bastille, the Castle of Vincennes,
at Charenton, and, finally, at Bicêtre. With a genius for escaping from
imprisonment, and an equal aptitude for getting recaptured, this able,
energetic, yet light-minded, and, in sum, most unhappy man, provoked his
first incarceration by a too ingenious device which he adopted with the
view of securing the favour of Mme. de Pompadour, the all-powerful
favourite of Louis XV. He was a lieutenant in the army when the idea
occurred to him of obtaining promotion by putting himself forward as
saviour of Mme. de Pompadour’s life. Sending her a collection of
explosive toys, combined so as to form a sham infernal machine, he at
the same time warned her not to open any parcel that might be addressed
to her, since it had come to his knowledge that a case was being
forwarded, which, on removal of the lid, would violently explode. “The
gentleman knows too much,” thought Mme. de Pompadour; and she
communicated her reflection to the Lieutenant of Police, who, sending
for Latude, questioned him, and after convicting him out of his own
mouth of the imposition he had practised, sent him to the Bastille.

Transferred a few months later to the Castle of Vincennes, he succeeded
on the 25th of June, 1750, in making his escape, and in this very
original manner. Watching until he found one of the prison gates open,
he ran out and, breathless as he was, asked every sentinel he passed
whether he had seen the Abbé de Saint Sauveur, whose ministrations were
needed for a dying prisoner. Taking him for one of the officials of the
establishment, the sentinels allowed him to hurry on--allowed him, that
is to say, to make his escape. Latude was unable to profit by his
liberty. Convinced that Mme. de Pompadour would pardon him his
thoughtless act, he wrote her a letter of regret and appeal, related to
her his escape, and confided to her his place of concealment. But the
selfish marchioness could not forget that he had caused her a moment’s
fright. She sent his letter to the Lieutenant of Police, and the poor
man was once more thrown into the Bastille, with orders that he was to
be strictly watched. One day, however, the governor took pity on him,
and to render his captivity less rigorous gave him a companion. This
companion was another young man who, strangely enough, had himself given
offence to the all-powerful marchioness by an epigram of which he had
been proved to be the author. His name was D’Aligre; and the two
prisoners, both indebted for their captivity to the same tyrannical
woman, made common cause and became fast friends. Their first thought
was naturally to escape from the Bastille; and the project having once
been formed, it was easier for two persons to carry it out than for only
one. The preparations for their escape occupied them not less than two
years. From time to time they cut off faggots from the blocks of wood
furnished to them as fuel, and at the same time tore strips from their
shirts and their bed-linen. The linen was tied and twisted into a
knotted rope, more than a hundred yards long. With the wood they made a
ladder to aid them, when they had descended into the moat, in getting up
the parapet on the other side. All the preparations having been
finished, the two prisoners chose for their escape a dark wintry night,
when there was but little chance of their movements being observed. They
began by climbing the chimney, one after the other. Then having fastened
the rope, they one after the other slid down, till, excited, exhausted,
and with bleeding hands, they reached the moat in safety. The wooden
ladder enabled them, as their next step, to get over the parapet, which
brought them into the governor’s garden. The wall which surrounded it
was too high to climb, and they had no second ladder with which to
escalade it. Fortunately, in view of some difficulty of this kind, they
had provided themselves with a strong wooden stick, and this they made
use of for picking out the mortar, loosening the bricks, and ultimately
making a hole sufficiently large for them to crawl through. During this
laborious and dangerous work, when the very noise they were making might
at any moment cause their discovery, day broke, and they had just time
to force themselves through the aperture they had made, when there were
already signs of movement within the fortress. Latude and his companion
had just taken refuge in one of the narrow streets surrounding the
Bastille when the alarm-bell sounded. Their flight had been discovered.
D’Aligre, disguised as a peasant, had no difficulty in passing the
frontier. He was arrested at Brussels. Latude, informed of the capture
of his friend, changed his route, but was equally unfortunate. Just when
he was on the point of taking ship for India the police seized him at
Amsterdam. He was brought back to the Bastille.

This time he was cast into a dungeon which looked out on to the moat,
whose fetid vapours had a very injurious effect upon his health. To
occupy his time and divert his thoughts, the unhappy prisoner undertook
the taming of rats, and having from the branch of a bulrush made a
primitive flute or flageolet, he played tunes upon it, an attention to
which the little animals are said to have been by no means insensible.
With marvellous patience and ingenuity, Latude now made tablets with the
crumb of his bread, and wrote upon them with his blood. He had conceived
certain plans of financial reform and of much-needed amelioration in
various departments of state, and these he noted down as best he could
by the difficult and painful means just mentioned. Finding how he was
occupied, the governor was seized with compassion, and in his sympathy
supplied the patient, intelligent prisoner with pen, ink, and paper.
Latude now wrote day and night on all kinds of political and financial
subjects. His suggestions were transmitted to the different ministers,
less in the hope that they would be adopted than that their exposure
would draw attention to the writer’s wretched state. One day Latude
succeeded in getting a letter into the hands of Madame de Pompadour. It
was in these words:--“On the 25th of this month of September, 1760, I
shall have had 100,000 hours of suffering.” He thought for a moment that
this pathetic utterance might restore him to liberty. But he had still
200,000 hours to count.

[Illustration: THE VILLAGE, SALPÊTRIÈRE.]

Permission was now given to him to walk on the terrace of the tower. He
succeeded in awakening the interest of two young laundresses whose
garret-windows looked out upon the walls of the Bastille; and one fine
day in April, 1764, these girls, by means of large letters traced on a
strip of paper, informed him that the woman who had persecuted him was
dead. In his usual impulsive way, Latude now wrote to the Lieutenant of
Police, telling him that he had heard of Mme. de Pompadour’s death, and
that he trusted there was now some chance, after such prolonged
tortures, of his being set at liberty. By way of reply, the lieutenant
wished to know how he (Latude), of all the prisoners, was the only one
that the news had reached. Determined not to compromise his kind-hearted
informants, Latude refused to explain, upon which the lieutenant ordered
that he should be watched more closely than ever. He was now put back in
the dungeon, but soon afterwards, without any reason being assigned, was
transferred to Vincennes. There a certain liberty was allowed him. Among
other privileges he was permitted to walk in the garden, by which he
soon profited to make his escape. The young laundress gave him asylum,
and he now, with his unvarying imprudence, wrote to the Lieutenant of
Police to request an audience. M. de Sartines took no notice of the
application, except to have his correspondent arrested and taken back to
Vincennes.

Latude now passed ten continuous years in prison. He had long been
utterly forgotten when the minister Malesherbes, making a scrupulous
inspection of the state prisons, saw him, heard the tale of his woes,
and promised to do him justice. Circumvented, however, by the Lieutenant
of Police, who represented Latude as a dangerous lunatic, he, with the
best intentions, ordered the poor wretch to be removed to Charenton.
This was still further to aggravate the captive’s condition, for
Charenton was by several degrees worse than Vincennes. Madmen were then
treated in the cruellest fashion, confined in narrow cells, and fed on a
disgusting diet. Allowed a little more freedom than the other inmates,
he was shocked to find, in a fetid little dungeon, loaded with chains
and mercilessly beaten by the warders, his old companion D’Aligre, whose
reason had not been able to survive his misfortunes, who scarcely
recognised his friend, and who died shortly afterwards.

The adventures of Latude, however, had now attracted the attention of
the outside world. He had been able so far to elude the vigilance of the
warders as to get a few letters delivered to influential personages. An
order for his liberation, almost immediately revoked, was signed in
1777. The victim had hardly started out for Montagnac, his native place,
when he was re-arrested--though here again he probably had his own folly
to thank, for he might have got clean away had he not obstinately
determined to make a stay at Paris, and delayed his departure with that
object. This time he was shut up at Bicêtre with malefactors of the
worst class.

The history of Latude is singularly touching when one reflects that it
was for a mere piece of boyish stupidity that he suffered a weight of
frightful misery, which grew not lighter but heavier as years dragged
on. “Each year,” says Michelet, “his sad position was aggravated. At
length the crevices of his windows were stopped up and additional bars
fitted to his cell. In Latude,” continues this historian, “the imbecile
old tyranny had incarcerated the very man who could best denounce it--an
ardent and terrible man whom nothing could tame, whose voice shook the
walls, and whose wit and audacity were invincible.... His body was made
of indestructible iron; for he could live in the Bastille, at Vincennes,
at Charenton, and even at the horrible Bicêtre, where anyone else would
have perished.

[Illustration: THE LUNATICS’ QUARTER, SALPÊTRIÈRE.]

“I am unfortunately obliged to say that in this effeminate and decayed
society there were not wanting philanthropists, ministers, magistrates,
and grand-seigneurs to weep over the affair; but none of them did
anything. Malesherbes wept, and Lamoignon and Rohan: everyone wept hot
tears.

“He was on his muck-heap at Bicêtre, literally eaten up with vermin,
lodged underground, and often howling with hunger. He had again
addressed a memoir to some philanthropist, entrusting it to a turnkey: a
woman picked it up.

“This woman was a little milliner, Mme. Legros, whose name is now
unalienably associated with that of Latude. A high official had come to
visit Bicêtre by royal order. He heard the victim’s complaints, which
moved his pity, and requested Latude to draw up a statement of his
grievances. The document was promptly prepared, but a drunken messenger
failed to deliver it, and it was picked up by the young woman in
question, who, having read it with deep compassion, saw what others
could not see, that Latude was no madman, but a victim of the frightful
necessities of a government obliged to put out of the way a man who
could expose its vices. That was the obstacle which had frustrated the
benevolent desires of Malesherbes, Lemoignon, and Rohan. Latude was to
remain in captivity simply because he had already been in captivity too
long.”

Mme. Legros, however, courageously undertook the work of justice, and
nobly persevered with it in spite of all. During three years she
solicited everybody, notwithstanding the misery in which she was herself
living--for the police tried to intimidate her, and threatened her with
transportation or imprisonment. She persisted all the same; and having
lost her little business, she sacrificed her last resources to the cause
which she had made her own. By dint of interviewing the valets of
ministers and the femmes-de-chambre of ladies of high rank, she at
length managed to interest Marie Antoinette herself in the fate of
Latude. Louis XVI. promised to look into the matter, and had the police
documents brought to him--papers, that is to say, prepared by those who
only desired that the prisoner might die on their hands. The decision,
therefore, of the monarch was that Latude, as a very dangerous man, must
never be released. Even this did not discourage Mme. Legros, who,
indeed, had public opinion on her side. The popular wave was already
mounting high; it submerged the inflexible Sartines, and, after him,
Lenoir. The Academy gave it a further impulse by awarding to Mme.
Legros, in 1783, the prize of virtue as recompense for her heroic
perseverance in the cause she had espoused. All that the minister
Breteuil could obtain from this independent body was that the grounds on
which the prize was awarded should not be proclaimed. The blow directed
against the police and the court was a heavy one, and early the next
year Latude was finally set free. He was then on the verge of his
sixtieth year; he had passed thirty-five years in prison. As sole
indemnity after so much suffering, he was granted a pension of 400
francs “in consideration of his lost patrimony,” as the official order
phrased it; and even this was conditional upon his quitting Paris to
live in his native province. Mme. Legros, by dint of tact and of
petitions, got this sentence of exile revoked, and Latude came to live
in her house at Paris. When the Revolution broke out he ardently
embraced its principles, and in 1793, attacking the heirs of Mme. de
Pompadour, he obtained against them from the Commune a condemnation to
pay him an indemnity of 60,000 francs, though he never touched more than
a sixth of this sum. A public subscription had, moreover, placed him
beyond the danger of want. He died in obscurity in 1805.

“Mme. Legros,” says Michelet, “did not see the destruction of the
Bastille. She died a little before. But it was she, none the less, who
had the glory of destroying it. It was she who filled the popular mind
with hatred and horror of this arbitrary prison which had received so
many martyrs of Faith and Thought. The weak hand of a poor woman pulled
down, in reality, that high fortress, threw to the ground its massive
stones, tore down its iron gratings, and razed its towers.”

So much, then, for the celebrated Latude and his heroic deliverer. Among
other notable inmates of Bicêtre may be mentioned the accomplice and
denouncer of Cartouche, who lived forty-three years in a dungeon; the
author of “Justine”--the Marquis de Sade--a perfect example of erotic
madness; and the four sergeants of La Rochelle, those heroic champions
of liberty whom the devotion of two of the house-surgeons would have
saved but for the treachery of the chaplain.

The story of the four sergeants of La Rochelle, so well known in France,
and so often referred to by contemporary French writers, is so little
known in England that it may here with propriety be told; for it was at
La Salpêtrière that the last act, or last but one, of this tragedy was
played.

In the year 1821, under the Restoration, John François Louis Leclerc
Bories, sergeant-major in the 45th regiment of the line, was in garrison
at Paris when he was initiated into the society of the Charbonniers,
corresponding to that of the Carbonari in Italy. The association was a
formidable conspiracy of Liberals and Bonapartists against the monarchy
of the Bourbons, and it was largely recruited from the ranks. Bories
undertook to gain adherents among his comrades, and he initiated
successively a number of non-commissioned officers and soldiers. In
January, 1822, the 45th regiment was moved from Paris to La Rochelle.
Before quitting the capital Bories was placed in relations with La
Fayette, and received from him the halves of several cards, the missing
portions to be presented to him on the line of march by members of the
secret society, who would at the same time communicate to him the orders
of the directing committee. Movements were being prepared at Nantes and
at Saumur, and the chiefs of the Charbonniers wished, if necessary, to
utilise the passage of the regiment through the departments which were
ready to rise. Bories had several interviews along the line of march,
and some imprudent words were spoken. But no order to take up arms was
transmitted, and the 45th arrived at La Rochelle on the 14th of February
without any incident of importance having taken place. By a strange
fatality Bories had been placed under escort at Orleans for having
replied to the provocations of the Swiss soldiers stationed in this
town; and on reaching La Rochelle he was confined in the guard-house,
and afterwards, in consequence of some suspicious circumstances,
transferred to the prison of Nantes. The post of Bories in connection
with the secret society was now filled by a less capable man,
Sergeant-Major Pomier; and at this very moment an unsuccessful attempt
was made against Saumur, under the direction of General Berton. Pursued
from all sides, Berton made his way stealthily to La Rochelle,
determined to try his fortune once more from what he considered a more
favourable point. He placed himself in communication with Pomier and
other chiefs. But nothing was decided, except that they must all hold
themselves in readiness for action. A few days afterwards all the
members of the society serving in the 45th regiment were, one after
another, arrested. The authorities had got wind of what was going on,
and Goubin, Pomier, Goupillon, and a few others, interrogated and
pressed by General Despinois, made complete revelations, Bories
meanwhile remaining firm and impenetrable.

Five months afterwards the accused were brought before the tribunal of
the Seine. There were twenty-five of them, some in the civil, some in
the military service; and they were charged either with belonging to the
conspiracy or with not revealing what they knew about it. No conspiracy,
in the strict legal sense of the word, existed; though the undetermined
aim of the association was sooner or later to take up arms. The only
offence of which the prisoners could be justly accused was that of
belonging to a secret society. The Government prosecutor demanded,
however, sentence of death against twelve of the accused. Among the
advocates for the defence were men, with Chaix-d’Est-Anges, Mocquart,
and others of the same mark, who afterwards reached the highest
positions, and who were all at this time Carbonari and sworn enemies of
the Bourbons. At the end of a trial which had lasted a fortnight the
president of the court asked each of the accused if he had anything to
add to his defence. Bories, whose self-possession had never for one
moment left him, rose and said with much dignity:

“Gentlemen of the jury, the Advocate-General, while declaring that the
most eloquent oratory in the world would be powerless to save me from
public vengeance, has pointed to me as the chief criminal. Well, I
accept this position, and shall deem myself happy if by bringing my head
to the scaffold I can obtain the acquittal of all my comrades.”

He was condemned to death, together with three other sergeants--Goubin,
Raoulx, and Pomier. Goupillon was let off as informer. Seven others were
condemned to imprisonment for different periods, while thirteen more
were acquitted. There were groans and sobs in court when the capital
sentence was pronounced, and public opinion pronounced itself in the
strongest manner in favour of the unfortunate young men, against neither
of whom any overt act was charged. But the Government of Louis XVIII.
was implacable; and on the 21st of September, 1822, the scaffold was
erected on the Place de Grève. The four sergeants submitted to their
fate with heroic calmness, and bent their heads beneath the knife of the
guillotine amid cries of “Vive la Liberté!”

The same evening, to the disgust of everyone, there was a grand party at
the Tuileries.

Serious attempts had been made by the Carbonari to save the unhappy
victims. Through the intermediary of two famous painters--Ary Scheffer
and Horace Vernet, assisted by Colonel Fauvier and other leaders of the
party, the director of Bicêtre had been gained over. He consented to aid
the escape of the four sergeants who were confined in his
establishment--at that time half prison, half asylum--on consideration
of receiving 70,000 francs, estimated as the capitalised value of his
appointment. Unfortunately, however, he confided the affair to the
chaplain of the prison, whom he wished, through friendship and
affection, to take with his own family to foreign parts. The priest
rightly or wrongly felt it to be his duty to give notice to the Prefect
of Police, and just as the projected escape was on the point of being
effected a number of police agents appeared. They began by arresting M.
Margue, one of the surgeons at Bicêtre, and they at the same time seized
10,000 francs in gold. But an energetic man, the house-surgeon,
Guillié-Latouche, managed to get away with the rest of the sum--60,000
francs--in bank notes, and entering Paris at daybreak, placed the money
in the hands of the members of the committee.

[Illustration: THE CHAPEL, SALPÊTRIERE.]

Other attempts were not more successful, and on the day fixed for the
execution a number of Carbonari, with arms concealed beneath their
clothes, stationed themselves at different points, ready to attack the
prisoner’s escort. Meanwhile the central committee, doubting the success
of the enterprise so boldly conceived, could not decide to order an
attack on the forces drawn up by the military authorities. Nothing could
be done. The execution was allowed to take place in the midst of general
indignation.

One of the members of the central committee, Dr. Ulysse Trélat,
afterwards minister and representative of the people, has traced the
following portrait of Bories in his “Esquisse de la Charbonnerie”:--

“Bories was a young man of twenty-six, who, beneath an exterior full of
softness and grace, concealed the noblest and firmest heart. He had
nothing of the soldier but his frankness and his courage, without any of
the faults generally produced by the idleness of barrack life. His
morals were pure, his tastes simple, and his life retired. He gave up
the greater part of his time to reading. Exempt from ambition, his most
ardent wish was to die at the moment of the victory of the people; and
one day he was quite annoyed at someone’s proposing to take him to
General La Fayette. It seemed to him that this offer implied some doubt
as to his sincerity, as well as an intention to stimulate his ardour by
the authority of a great name.”

At Villefranche, Bories’s birthplace, there was a general understanding
among the inhabitants to conceal his tragic end from his old parents. On
their expressing astonishment at not receiving news from their son, they
were informed that his regiment had gone to the colonies.

[Illustration: THE BICETRE, 1710. (_After Gueroult._)]

Another touching story, which has all the character of a legend, is told
in connection with the unfortunate Bories. Until the year 1864 a
broken-down old woman, supporting herself with a stick and carrying a
bunch of faded flowers, was a familiar figure on the left bank of the
Seine. For forty years she had been grieving for the loss of Bories, to
whom in his youth she was engaged to be married. From the cart in which,
with his three comrades, he was driven to the scaffold, he had sought to
console the young girl in her despair by throwing her a bouquet, which
she kept for ever afterwards. She was frequently seen at the tomb of the
four sergeants in the cemetery of Montparnasse; and she was at last
buried near the grave of her lover towards the end of 1864, when the
legendary bouquet was placed with her in the coffin.

It has been said that Bicêtre has, during the present century, been the
scene of several disturbances, In the last century it witnessed serious
insurrections. In 1756 the prisoners rose against the soldiers of the
guard, when two archers and fourteen insurgents were killed. In 1774 a
spy found among the prisoners was crucified. In September, 1792, Bicêtre
made a determined resistance to the bands of slaughterers who arrived to
massacre the inmates. Officials, prisoners, lunatics, all defended
themselves with wonderful courage. Each building was made the object of
a separate siege. Once masters of the place the assassins spared no one.
There was for three nights and three days a frightful carnage, which
even the intervention of Péthion could not stop.

The apologists--not merely of the Revolution, which, as a whole, brought
immeasurable benefit to the French people, but even of the crimes which
accompanied it--have tried to justify the massacres committed in the
prisons of Paris by bands of fanatical ruffians, who had somehow
persuaded themselves that the persons confined were all aristocrats or
priests, and that in slaughtering these enemies of society it mattered
but little if a few inoffensive persons were also put to death. The
allied German powers who were marching upon Paris, and whose outposts
were gradually approaching the capital, had already taken the fortress
of Verdun, and were prepared, if they continued their successful
campaign, to inflict terrible vengeance on the Revolutionists and on the
French nation generally. A counter-revolutionary movement had suddenly
set in among the Royalist proprietors and the loyal, if superstitious,
peasants of Brittany and La Vendée. With the exaggeration sure to
manifest itself at moments of great popular excitement, it was declared
that the enemy was at the gates of Paris; and it was proclaimed among
the fanatics of the Revolution that in a few hours the nobles and
ecclesiastics thrown into prison, in some cases with a view to trial, in
others only as a precautionary measure, would soon be at liberty and
ready to take part, in the slaughter of the Republicans. The people had
been summoned by Danton to the Champ de Mars in order to be enrolled for
service against the enemy. Alarm-bells were sounded, cannons were fired,
and a general war-cry resounded through Paris. “The tocsin,” says a
journal of the period, “was heard on all sides. Everyone ran to take up
arms. Everyone cried out, ‘To the enemy!’ But the enemy is not in the
field alone. The enemy is at Paris, as well as around Verdun. Our foes
are in the Paris prisons. Shall we leave our women, our children, our
aged persons, to the mercy of these wretches? Let us hurry to the
prisons. Let us exterminate these monsters, who will profit by our
absence with the army to murder our wives and our children, to liberate
Louis XVI. from his tower, and to rally the Royalist battalions.” This
terrible cry was at once taken up in a unanimous, universal manner
throughout the streets and public places, at all public meetings, and
finally in the National Assembly itself.

Apart from the purely spontaneous, impulsive movement, meetings were
held after formal deliberations, and it was decided by a resolution that
the aristocrats and priests confined in the prisons must be put to
death.

To return, however, to Bicêtre, which is associated in more than one way
with the Revolution and with the Reign of Terror. In a little courtyard
adjoining the amphitheatre of Bicêtre, on the 15th of April, 1792, was
tried for the first time on a corpse (previous experiments had been made
with live animals) the “decapitating machine,” whose invention, wrongly
attributed to Dr. Guillotin, belongs really to Dr. Louis, perpetual
secretary of the Royal Society of Surgery: whence the name of
“Louisette” given in the first instance to the guillotine.

Some time afterwards, towards the end of 1792, Bicêtre, which had just
been the theatre of such tragic scenes, had the glory of seeing
accomplished within its walls the reforms in the treatment of lunacy
introduced by Pinel. This excellent man, chief physician at Bicêtre, had
begged the Commune of Paris for authority to unchain the violent
lunatics. The next day the fanatical Couthon went to Bicêtre to make
sure that Pinel was “not concealing the enemies of the people among his
madmen.” Astounded and somewhat frightened by the confused shrieking and
howling of the maniacs, and by the rattling of their chains, the surly
Jacobin turned to Pinel and said to him “Why, you must be mad yourself,
citizen, to think of unchaining such animals.”

“I am convinced,” replied Pinel, “that these lunatics are only so
intractable because they are deprived of air and liberty.”

“Well, do what you like,” cried Couthon, as he went away; “do what you
like: I abandon them to you.”

Pinel at once entered the cage of the most terrible of his madmen: an
English captain who had been shut up for forty years, and who, a few
days previously, had killed one of the keepers with a blow from his
fetters. Full of faith, the physician unlocked his irons; and the madman
becoming at once gentle and calm, was, during the two years he had still
to live, Pinel’s most useful assistant. Pinel restored successively to
liberty an old officer who, in a moment of frenzy, had stabbed one of
his own children; a young poet mad from love, who, after leaving
Bicêtre, perished on the scaffold; a soldier formerly in the Royal
Guard; Chevingé, an athlete, the terror of his keepers, who soon
afterwards gave his liberator a striking proof of gratitude by snatching
him from a band of fanatics at the very moment when they were about to
hang him; and fifty others, of all conditions and all countries, who, as
soon as they were treated with humanity, gave up their habits of
violence.

Finally, it may be mentioned that in the old dungeons of Bicêtre Victor
Hugo lays the scene of his “Dernier Jour d’un Condamné.”

It has been seen that neither at Bicêtre nor at La Salpêtrière are
lunatics alone confined. The one recognised madhouse in or near Paris,
to which those whose ideas or actions excite the disapproval of their
friends are told familiarly to go--as, in England, they would be sent to
Hanwell--is Charenton. The Maison de Charenton, situated at about four
miles south-east of Paris, on the road to Lyons, close to the confluence
of the Seine and the Marne, dates from the year 1641, when Sebastien
Leblanc, counsellor of the king and minister of war, presented it ready
furnished to the brothers of La Charité, or of St. Jean de Dieu. A few
years after their installation in the house presented to them, the
brothers of La Charité arranged to receive madmen and epileptic
patients; when, like all the madhouses of the time, Charenton became a
house of detention, where were confined by _lettres de cachet_ prisoners
of state, prodigals, libertines, and others who were thought worthy of a
milder treatment than they would receive in the Bastille or at
Vincennes. In the eighteenth century, and up to the time of the
Revolution, Charenton had accommodation for nearly 100 lunatics, each of
whom had his separate room. The attendance was in the hands of ten
religious persons and fifty-two servants. A few years after the
Revolution, both monastery and hospital were suppressed, and the monks,
together with the lunatics under their charge, dispersed. Soon
afterwards, however, the Directory issued a decree, which forms the
legal basis of the hospital of Charenton as it now exists. “Refuge for
the Mad” was the title given to it; and it was now placed under the
immediate direction of the Minister of the Interior. Insane persons of
both sexes were to be admitted; the indigent ones gratuitously, and
others at a fixed rate of payment. The Abbé de Coulmier, a former member
of the Constituent Assembly, was named director of the establishment;
and, as if in compensation for the injury done to the establishment by
its sudden dispersion, it had additional land assigned to it. The
building could now be enlarged, and a special division was erected for
the women.

M. de Coulmier conducted the house in the most despotic manner; and on
the death of the principal surgeon, M. Gastaldi, in 1805, he assumed
such powers in the medical department that the School of Medicine was
obliged to intervene, when the medical direction was placed in the hands
of Dr. Royer-Collard, brother of the celebrated orator of the same name.
With all his tyranny, M. de Coulmier had many agreeable ways.
Remembering the fury of Saul, calmed by the harp of the youthful David,
and the quieting of savage animals by the lyre of Orpheus, the director,
carried away by his artistic feeling, determined to apply a similar
treatment to the demented ones of Charenton. To carry out his idea he
introduced dancing, dramatic performances, fireworks, and even ballets,
with the assistance of some of the choregraphic celebrities of the
epoch. The imprisoned Marquis de Sade, known by books that no decent
person can read, was the organiser of these entertainments, which were
attended by all Paris.

To the joyous reign of M. de Coulmier succeeded, in 1814, the severe
administration of Roulhac du Maupas. No more singing and dancing now!
Comedies and ballets gave place to useful reforms, and the substitution
of a new medical organisation for the former choregraphic system.
Royer-Collard had suppressed the iron girdles, the fetters, the
handcuffs, and the collars, by which the ungovernable madmen used to be
restrained, and the melancholy ones driven to suicide. Esquirol did away
with the human figures in wicker-work, in which violent maniacs used
sometimes to be enclosed. The new programme met with the full
approbation of the Government. A credit of 2,720,000 francs was voted by
the Chamber of Deputies in July, 1838; and soon afterwards M. de
Montalivet, then Minister of the Interior, laid with due solemnity the
first stone of the new edifice. The memory of this important ceremony is
consecrated by an inscription placed beneath the vestibule of the
principal building.

At the back of the building is the wood of Vincennes, from which it is
separated only by a wall, with a gate for the inmates of the asylum. In
front the landscape comprises the immense and fertile plain of Maisons
Alfort, Ivry, and Choisy-le-Roi. The panorama is one of the finest
offered by the environs of Paris. The capricious meanderings of the
Marne, with its green banks and its flower-clad islands, the picturesque
hill of Alfort, the interesting domain of Charentonneau; villages
sparkling beneath the sun in the midst of fields and meadows: on the
horizon the smiling slopes of Saint-Maur, Créteil, Champigny,
Chenevières, and Boissy-Saint-Lèger; the forest of Sénart,
Villeneuve-St.-Georges--which, deserted by its inhabitants, was
occupied, during the last war, in every house and every room by German
troops, who left behind them sad proofs of their destructiveness; and,
finally, the majestic course of the Seine, and its union with the Marne.
The new establishment has been so built that from nearly every room the
patients can gladden their eyes and refresh their minds by contemplating
the enchanting scenery.

The patients are grouped together, not with reference to their social
rank, but according to the medical peculiarities of each particular
case. In the first division are patients who have reached the
convalescent stage, and who are quiet. In the second are the lunatics
who know how to behave themselves, but are still subject to fits of
insanity. The third class consists of incurable lunatics, who are
nevertheless capable of obeying orders. The fourth is reserved for
incurable lunatics, difficult to govern; the fifth for paralytic
lunatics; the sixth for lunatics who have been attacked by some ordinary
malady; the seventh for epileptic patients; and the eighth for violent
uncontrolable maniacs.

[Illustration: DINNER TIME AT BICÊTRE.]

[Illustration: ENTRANCE TO BICÊTRE.]

During the last twenty or thirty years a hydropathic establishment has
been added to the asylum, together with workshops for the occupation and
amusement of the convalescent.

On the 2nd of February, 1866, the Empress paid a visit to Charenton, and
took the institution under her special patronage. She began by proposing
the construction of a department for women on the same system and the
same scale as the well-organised department for men; and, adopting the
Empress’s idea, the legislative body voted an important sum towards
carrying it out.

Charenton receives about 600 patients, 300 men and 300 women; but the
number would be much larger were there sufficient accommodation. The
terms for the paying patients are 1,500 francs for the first class,
1,200 for the second, and 900 for the third, while for those who have a
separate room 900 francs extra, as the wages of a servant, are charged.
Needless to add that the patients, paying or non-paying, are all on an
equality as regards medical treatment. The quality and variety of the
cooking vary with the different classes. The chief elements of the
population of Charenton are furnished by officials and clerks, artists
and men of letters, merchants, dealers in wine and spirits, officers and
soldiers. Every type of madness may there be studied, from dementia and
melancholia to mania. Many of the patients owe their malady to
hereditary predisposition, alcoholic excesses, and other abuses,
domestic calamities, reverses of fortune, and intellectual labour unduly
prolonged.

[Illustration: THE BIÈVRE.]

Nothing is spared to provide the patients with salutary occupations,
agreeable pastimes, and innocent amusements. They are encouraged to
study music, singing, and drawing, and for those who have no artistic
tastes, cards, draughts, dominoes, billiards, and bowls are provided.
Among the outdoor recreations walks in the most beautiful parts of the
wood of Vincennes, carriage excursions and picnics may be mentioned. The
Thursday and Sunday concerts form, however, the great delight of the
place. These are not given by the director simply as entertainments.
They are prescribed by the regulations, and have formed part of the
institutions of the House since 1811. In the spacious hall, which serves
at once as ball-room and concert-room, assemble upwards of a hundred
convalescents of both sexes. In the dress and demeanour of those present
there is nothing remarkable, except that they are more quietly attired,
and generally better behaved than in fashionable society. The
billiard-room is much frequented, and the general aspect of the
card-room reminds Dr. Linas of one of the aristocratic Paris clubs.

It should have been mentioned that at the periodical concerts the music
is contributed by the patients, some of whom are singers, others
violinists or pianists. The officials of the establishment join the
inmates either as performers or among the audience. In like manner the
patients and attendants act together in the comedies and dramas which
are sometimes represented.

Charenton, though placed under the direction of the Ministry of the
Interior, has its own particular administration, in which a clerk may in
due time, after successive promotions, rise to be a functionary of
almost the first rank. No one voluntarily quits the establishment; and
the servants, like the officials, remain there until they are compelled
by old age to resign. Charenton, like other madhouses, has had
celebrities among its inmates, including the Marquis de Sade, who, after
sending one of his infamous books to Napoleon, was at once ordered to be
arrested and placed in a lunatic asylum; the same punishment which, at a
later date, was inflicted by the Emperor Nicholas on a writer, blameless
in his morality, who had attacked the existing order of things in
Russia.



CHAPTER XXX.

THE RIVER BIÈVRE AND THE MANUFACTORY OF THE GOBELINS.

The Brothers Gobelin--Lebrun--The Gobelins under Louis XIV.--At the Time
of the Revolution--The Manufactory of Sèvres.


The Bièvre is a stream which, many years ago, behaved so badly in the
matter of inundations that it was put under ground. Canalised
subterraneously, it runs beneath or by the side of the Horse Market,
passes near the Salpêtrière, and enters the Seine close to the Orleans
Railway terminus. It is between the Bièvre and the Rue Mouffetard that
the buildings of the Gobelins manufactory, so famed for its tapestry and
dyes, are situated.

The superiority of the products of this factory is by some attributed to
peculiar saline properties in the stream. Of these Rabelais speaks in
thoroughly Rabelaisian style; and it was doubtless in consequence of the
tinctorial qualities of the river that the brothers Gobelin established
on its banks their famous manufactory.

It is to these brothers that the name of the establishment is due. They
were famous dyers in Normandy, or, as is also said, at Rheims, in
Champagne; and, whatever their origin, they came to Paris in the middle
of the fifteenth century, and took up their position on the banks of the
river above mentioned.

The water of the Bièvre, while helping the development of Gobelin dyes,
is injured by them. Like all the streams which flow past dye works, the
Bièvre is perpetually stained; and in the present day there are many
scientific men who venture to affirm that the brilliant colours of the
Gobelin tapestry are in no way due to water of any kind, but to artistic
secrets belonging to the Gobelin brothers, and handed down by them to
their descendants or successors.

Under the reign of Louis XIV. the Gobelins was a sort of school of
furniture, in which not only tapestry but cabinet work of every kind was
cultivated. “Here,” writes a chronicler of the time, “two hundred and
fifty master weavers produced the richest tapestries, after the works of
our best painters. The school was extended in order to include sculptors
in metal and goldsmiths.”

A passion for ornamentation now took possession at once of the Court and
of Paris society generally; and the candelabra and the lamps produced at
the Gobelins were worthy of any palace. Most of the works produced at
the Gobelins, to whatever category they belonged, were intended as
presents to members of royal families and other persons of the very
first distinction. Among the painters attached to the Gobelins
manufactory may, in the first place, be mentioned the celebrated Lebrun
in the reign of Louis XIV., and under the government of Colbert. “And as
a matter of fact,” says an historian, “Lebrun gave to the Gobelins a
splendour which was steadily maintained.”

[Illustration: L’AVENUE DES GOBELINS.]

He painted for the manufactory, simply that they might be reproduced in
wool, some of his greatest pictures, including “The Battles of
Alexander,” “The History of Louis XIV.,” “The Twelve Months of the
Year,” “The Story of Moses,” etc. etc. Van der Meulen, Yvart, Boëls, and
others may be mentioned among the painters attached permanently to the
establishment.

When, on the death of Lebrun, Mignard succeeded him as Director of the
Gobelins, an architect, La Chapelle-Bessé, was appointed architect and
builder. Under the joint direction of painter and architect a school of
drawing was created at the Gobelins with Toby, Coysevox, and Sebastien
Leclerc as professors.

Unfortunately the reverses sustained by Louis XIV. during the last year
of his reign led to the discharge of the best workmen at the Gobelins,
whom it was thought impossible any longer to pay; and from this time the
establishment has occupied itself only with the production of tapestry,
to the neglect of medals, cameos, cabinet work, and artistic furniture
generally.

Specimens of the Gobelin tapestry were often given away as presents
either to crowned heads or to celebrities of less eminence whom the king
wished to honour with some mark of distinction. Thus there may still be
seen at Windsor Castle the tapestries of “Esther” and of “Jason and
Medea,” given to the King of England by Louis XIV. The King of Siam, the
Emperor of Russia, the Duke of Lorraine, and the King of Prussia
received similar presents. Occasionally, too, the Gobelins executed
orders for men of wealth and of high position; and in every country in
Europe so rare a work of art as a Gobelin tapestry gave a character to
the furniture of a room, indeed of a whole house.

[Illustration: THE BIÈVRE IN THE GARDENS OF THE GOBELINS.]

The Revolution was but little favourable to the Gobelin manufactory.
Writing on the subject in 1790, Marat said: “No one has any idea abroad
of establishments maintained at the expense of the State in connection
with fine arts or rather manufactures: the honour of this invention was
reserved for France. Such are, among others, the manufactories of Sèvres
and of the Gobelins. The latter costs annually 100,000 francs; it is
difficult to say why, unless it be to enrich intriguers and rogues.”

In spite of Marat’s report the Gobelin manufactory was not interfered
with; not at least in theory. The Government subvention was not formally
withdrawn, but it ceased to be paid. The Consulate, seeing how entirely
the place was neglected, appointed a director at a fixed salary, and
took the place generally under its charge. The Empire regarded the
Gobelins as a state institution, and paid largely towards its support.
It enjoyed also the full patronage of the Bourbons after the
Restoration. The government of Louis Philippe ordered, at great cost, a
whole series of tapestries representing the royal palaces and residences
of France, which were intended for the decoration of these very
mansions. At the same time, continuing ancient traditions, the king
ordered a number of tapestries for presentation to foreign potentates.
“Peter the Great in the Tempest,” after Steuben’s picture, admirably
rendered in wool, was presented to the Tsar; the “Massacre of the
Mamelukes,” after Horace Vernet, to the Queen of England.

[Illustration: THE OLD BUILDINGS OF THE GOBELINS.]

The different revolutions which have taken place in France have never
for any length of time affected the position of the Gobelins, which
successive governments have learnt to regard as one of the glories of
France. For the beautiful, brilliant colours in use during the present
century the establishment has been indebted to the famous chemist and
centenarian, M. Chevreuil.

[Illustration: IN THE GARDENS OF THE GOBELINS.]

Among the masterpieces executed at the Gobelins may be mentioned the
portrait of Louis XIV., after Rigaud, of which the original may be seen
in the Louvre; “The Assumption” of Titian, an immense composition, some
thirty feet high; and the reproduction in wool of a number of delicate,
graceful pictures by Boucher, etc. etc. Since 1848 a school has been
established at the Gobelins, where the art of tapestry is systematically
studied by pupils and apprentices.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: INTERIOR OF THE GOBELINS.]

Although not connected in any direct manner with the Gobelins, the
manufactory of Sèvres is associated with it as an establishment for art
work. It enjoys a similar reputation for the excellence of its products,
and is supported, like the Gobelins, by grants from the State, and by
state patronage of every kind. At St. Cloud in 1695 a manufactory of
pottery was started by the brothers Chicanneau, who took for their
trade-mark a sun, doubtless by way of flattery to Louis XIV., the Sun
King--“Le Roi Soleil.” The factory was visited in 1700 by the Duchess of
Burgundy, on whose recommendation it obtained special privileges in
1702. Twenty years later Henri Trou, Chicanneau’s son-in-law, and his
brother Gabriel, took the direction of the establishment, which at this
time prided itself on its imitations of China porcelain. In 1735 the
brothers Dubois, one a painter, the other a sculptor, quitted the
establishment of St. Cloud, where they had hitherto been employed, and
founded a rival establishment at Chantilly, under the patronage of the
Prince de Condé. The Dubois brothers afterwards moved to Vincennes; and
it was not until 1756 that general headquarters for the porcelain work
of Paris were fixed at Sèvres. The establishment belonged to a body of
shareholders. But four years after the company was started the king
bought up all the shares, thus becoming not only the patron but the
proprietor of the Sèvres manufactory. At once managing director and
monarch, Louis XIV. was able to forbid competition of every kind, and
under the severest penalties. To attempt to make porcelain elsewhere
than at Sèvres was not only a criminal offence, but almost an offence
of State.

Admirable as were the results obtained, the pieces of porcelain turned
out at Sèvres were seldom, if ever, quite perfect; and it was only the
cups, vases, plates and dishes in which there was some perhaps almost
imperceptible flaw that were offered for sale to the general public.
When perfection had been attained the fortunate work was reserved for
the royal palaces or for presentation to some foreign potentate. In 1761
a native of Strasburg, which for about a century had belonged to France,
sold to the Sèvres manufactory the secret of a so-called “hard paste”
porcelain which he had obtained from a relative, director of some
porcelain works in the neighbouring Palatinate.

Like the Gobelins, the manufactory of Sèvres was not interfered with by
the Revolution. From 1800 to 1847 it remained continuously under the
direction of Brongniart, who introduced many improvements in the
manufacture of porcelain, though he is thought to have paid more
attention scientifically to the matter than artistically to the form of
his products. Perfectly-made paste, but bad designs.

[Illustration: A STREET IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD OF THE GOBELINS.]

The Sèvres porcelain of the period of the First Empire was remarkable
for the stiffness and sham-academical style of the figures. From this
epoch dates the custom of reproducing on cups and saucers, vases and
plates, copies of great historical pictures and other unsuitable works.
The landscapes, the pastoral pieces of Watteau and of Boucher, were far
more appropriate.

Under the Second Empire the Sèvres manufactory cost the State 480,000
francs a year, and sold porcelain to the general public to the amount of
80,000 francs. There was a clear loss, then, to the establishment of
400,000 francs, or £16,000 a year. After the fall of the Empire an
attempt was made by M. Charles Garnier, the architect of the new opera,
and M. Jules Simon, at that time Minister of Public Instruction, to
place the Sèvres manufactory on a more satisfactory footing. A
commission was appointed with well-known artists, art-critics, and
manufacturers among its members, to consider what was to be done; and in
the first place M. Duc, the celebrated architect, was requested to draw
up a report on the subject.

M. Duc set forth that the fabrication of the material left nothing to be
desired, and that the artists who furnished designs for the porcelain
were unequalled. But there were not enough of them, and M. Duc’s main
proposal was that a school should be established in connection with the
Sèvres manufactory, precisely what had been proposed and adopted under
Louis Philippe’s reign in connection with the Gobelins. The school of
Sèvres was established in conformity with M. Duc’s recommendation, and
at the same time a “Sèvres prize” of the value of 2,000 francs was
instituted as an annual recompense to the author of the most artistic
design for pottery work.



CHAPTER XXXI.

THE PALAIS BOURBON.

The Palais Bourbon--Its History--The National Convention--Philippe
Egalité.


The Palais Bourbon, situated between the Quai d’Orsay on the north and
the Place de Bourgogne on the south, bears a name which is singularly
inappropriate to the edifice in its modern character; for neither under
the ancient monarchy nor under the restored Bourbons has the great
monarchical family of France shown the least favour towards the
parliamentary discussions of which in modern times the Palais Bourbon
has been the scene. The building was constructed in 1772 by the Italian
architect, Gardini, at the orders of the Dowager-Duchess of Bourbon.
After passing through various hands, the Palais Bourbon was made
national property at the time of the Revolution, when “Maison de la
Revolution” was the name given to it. In 1795 its principal
reception-rooms were transformed into a hall for the Council of the Five
Hundred, and it was at the same time enlarged. The present façade was
added in 1804 under Napoleon I.

Among the other remarkable halls contained in the Palais Bourbon as it
at present exists, the most important is the one in which, under the
name now of Chamber of Deputies, now of Legislative Body, the French
Parliament has held its sittings.

The hall arranged in 1795 for the Council of the Five Hundred was
afterwards occupied by the Legislative Body of the Empire, and again,
under the Restoration, by the Chamber of Deputies. In 1814 the Palais
Bourbon was, as property, restored to the Prince de Condé, who left the
use of it to the State for the benefit of the Chamber. The Government
bought from the prince in 1827 a portion of the palace, and purchased
the rest from the Duke of Aumale in 1830, the full price paid amounting
to 10,500,000 francs. In 1829 the Hall of the Five Hundred was replaced
provisionally by a building of wood, in lieu of which the hall as it now
exists was soon afterwards constructed. After the Revolution of 1848 a
wooden hall was built in the courtyard of the palace to receive the nine
hundred deputies of the Constituent Assembly. This hall was invaded by
the mob on the 15th of May, 1848, and demolished after the _coup d’état_
of the 2nd of December, 1851.

The Legislative Body of the Empire was now installed in the former
Chamber of Deputies until the 4th of September, 1870, when the palace of
the Legislative Body was once more invaded by the mob.

The most famous parliamentary debates, however, of the French, and the
most important parliamentary trials, have taken place not in the Palais
Bourbon but at the Tuileries and at the Luxemburg. Under the reign of
Louis Philippe, in the best days of Guizot and Thiers, debates of the
greatest interest took place at the Palais Bourbon in the “Chamber of
Deputies,” as the French representative body was at that time called;
for with each new government the name of the assembly, as of almost
every other institution in France, is changed. All public establishments
are from time to time Royal, National, or Imperial; and the body which
corresponds in France to the House of Commons in England is called, turn
by turn, Chamber of Representatives, Chamber of Deputies, or Legislative
Body. No country, indeed, has had so many legislative and governing
assemblies as France, which until the Revolution was as nearly as
possible an absolute monarchy. The States-General, under the ancient
régime, were convoked from time to time by the king, but had no real
power. The most that can be said in their favour is that they at least
preserved among the people the idea of popular representation. In 1788,
the year before the Revolution, there was a general demand for a
convocation of the States-General, to which an unexpected reply was made
by the calling together of Constituent and Legislative Assemblies. These
bodies both admitted the royal veto as a bar upon their decisions. But
the Convention, the Revolution having now been accomplished, recognised
no counterbalancing power, no control of any kind. It governed the
country through its commissaries and its committees.

The constitution of the year 3 of the Republic (1792) divided the
legislative power into two assemblies, the Council of the Five Hundred
and the Council of the Elders. To the former belonged the initiative, to
the latter the final decision.

Dissatisfied with the working of these two bodies, Bonaparte introduced
a parliamentary reform of the most remarkable kind. According to his
constitution of the year 1797, the Legislative Body was to be divided
into two assemblies, one of which was to discuss the laws submitted to
it by the Government, the other to accept the decisions in the upper
chamber without debate and simply by way of registration. After the fall
of Napoleon the restored monarchy, obliged by the circumstances of the
time to tolerate the existence of a parliament, formed the Chamber of
Representatives, which, under the government of Louis Philippe, was
succeeded by the Chamber of Deputies, destined to play an important part
in the political history of the country. Under the Second Empire the
governmental forms of the First Empire were as much as possible
introduced. The Legislative Body and the Senate came now once more into
existence, the former being empowered to discuss the laws proposed by
the Government, the latter to prevent their promulgation should they,
under the influence of the debates, have taken a form which the
Government might consider objectionable. Under the Third Republic the
French chambers have resumed something of the importance they possessed
under Louis Philippe. Their powers, indeed, have been increased, though
they contain no such distinguished men as those which gave character and
brilliancy to the Chamber of Deputies between the years 1830 and 1848.

[Illustration: FAÇADE OF THE CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES ON PLACE DU PALAIS
BOURBON.]

The assembly of the States-General held at Versailles in May, 1789,
preceded by three months the taking of the Bastille; and it was in this
assembly that the task-work of the peasants--their serfdom, that is to
say--was abolished; that obnoxious feudal rights of various kinds were
suppressed; and that religious liberty, individual liberty, liberty of
the press, and general equality before the law were proclaimed.

The Bastille was taken while the assembly was in full deliberation, and
this event gave to its discussions and decisions a more liberal, more
revolutionary turn than ever.

The assembly of the States-General followed the king to Paris, and soon
afterwards installed itself in the riding-school of the Tuileries. After
the flight of Louis XVI. (June 21, 1791) it took possession of the
executive power, and held it with a firm hand until the acceptance of
the constitution by the king on the 14th of September. On the 30th of
the same month it dispersed, to be replaced by the Legislative Assembly,
to which, in virtue of a resolution proposed by Robespierre, no member
of the previous assembly could belong. The number of laws, acts, and
decrees passed by the assembly afterwards to be known as the Constituent
amounted to not less than 3,250.

[Illustration: CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES FROM THE QUAI D’ORSAY.]

The Legislative Assembly of 1791, in which, as just mentioned, no member
of the famous Constituent Assembly could sit, began by swearing
allegiance to the constitution just proclaimed. A number of _émigrés_
having assembled on the frontier, it confiscated their property, and
took proceedings against the king’s brothers, the chiefs of the fugitive
royalists now threatening return. It replied to the coalition against
France by a declaration of war, called the country to arms, and decreed
the formation of a camp of 20,000 men beneath the walls of Paris. The
king making objection to these vigorous measures, the Assembly declared
the monarchy at an end, and on the 10th of August it was abolished, or
rather “suspended,” by law.

On the 10th of August, 1792, the Legislative Assembly, in presence of
Louis XVI., decreed the “provisional suspension of the chief of the
executive power,” and the convocation of a national convention--that is
to say an extraordinary assembly invested by the people with full powers
for reconstituting the government of the country. The members of the new
legislative body were to be chosen by double election. Every Frenchman
who was of age, and possessed not a house but a “domicile,” had a right
to vote for an elector; and the electors thus chosen elected in their
turn the members of the new assembly. There was one elector to every
hundred citizens; and at the primary elections the merits of the
candidates for electoral honours were freely discussed.

The procedure of the Convention was almost identical with that of the
Constituent and Legislative Assembly. Many readers will be surprised to
hear that among the 749 deputies forming the National Convention there
were sixteen bishops, eight episcopal grand vicars, eighteen priests,
and seven Protestant ministers; besides one prince of the blood (the
Duke of Orleans, nicknamed Philippe Égalité), and a number of barristers
and lawyers, officers of the king’s army, now disbanded; former members
of the Paris Parliament, nobles, landed proprietors, doctors, men of
science, men of letters, several poets, painters, and actors; a few
merchants and manufacturers, and only one workman, a wool-carder named
Armonville. The Convention, though a Revolutionary assembly, can
scarcely be said to have been a democratic one. On the 20th of September
the new representatives of the people held a preparatory sitting in the
Hall of the Hundred Swiss at the Tuileries. On the 21st the Convention
reassembled at the Tuileries, and notified its official existence to the
Legislative Assembly, which at once deposited its powers in the hands of
the new representatives of the people, who thereupon established
themselves in the Riding School. The Convention did not take possession
of the Tuileries until eight months afterwards, May 10th, 1793, the
unfortunate king having meanwhile, been sentenced to death and (Jan. 21)
executed.

When the Convention began its sittings the enemy’s outposts were only
seventy-five miles from Paris, and the German powers, who had invaded
France, were preparing to take a terrible vengeance on the country
which, if it had not actually dethroned, had formally “suspended” the
power of its king.

“Kings” exclaimed the Bishop of Blois in an excited debate, “are in the
moral order what monsters are in the physical”; and in the midst of
general acclamation the Assembly adopted unanimously this declaration:

    “ROYALTY IS ABOLISHED IN FRANCE.”

The Girondists, who for some time had the upper hand in the Convention,
wished to spare the king, and some of them proposed to leave the
decision of his fate to the people at large; confident, no doubt, that
the verdict of the nation would be, if not altogether favourable, at
least not fatal to the unhappy monarch. The Girondists, however, could
not get their views adopted by the Assembly generally; and in the end
many of them voted for the king’s death.

The king having been tried and found guilty by the Assembly, each member
was called upon to declare in writing what sentence the convicted
monarch deserved. Some were for keeping him in prison until peace was
made with the invading powers, and then sending him into exile on
condition of his never attempting to return. The greater number,
however, of the deputies were in favour of death. One, more brutal than
the others, is said to have recorded his view as to the sentence that
should be passed in these cynical words: “La mort sans phrase.” M.
Edouard Fournier has, however, well explained, in his admirable little
volume, “Les Mots Historiques,” that whereas in most cases the deputy
signing the register explained, in one or more phrases, why he was in
favour of a particular sentence, the sentence in this particular case
was given without one word of explanation, “sans phrase” in short, as
the registrar put it.

The day of the king’s sentence, one of the deputies, Lepelletier
Saint-Fargeau, who had voted for death, was assassinated just after he
had left the Assembly, by a former member of the Body-guard named Pàris.
The Convention ordered that he should receive the honours of the
Pantheon, and assisted in a body at his funeral. This incident caused a
deep sensation, deeper, it is said, even than the execution of the king,
which took place on the 21st of January, 1793. The deepest indignation,
too, was excited by the news that among those who had voted for the
king’s death was his cousin, the Duke of Orleans, the so-called Philippe
Égalité, whose son, Louis Philippe, was thirty-seven years afterwards to
ascend the French throne. Writing in the _Revue des Deux Mondes_ a few
years after the latter event, Châteaubriand reproached the reigning king
in plain terms with being the son of a regicide. Arguing that since the
execution of Louis XVI., and as a punishment for that crime, it had
become impossible to establish monarchy in France, he added:--

“Napoleon saw the diadem fall from his brow in spite of his victories;
Charles X., in spite of his piety. To discredit the Crown finally in
the eyes of the nations, it has been permitted to the son of the
regicide to lie for one moment in the bloodstained bed of the murdered
man.” That Louis Philippe suffered this outburst to be published
unchallenged has been regarded as a proof of his extreme tolerance in
press matters. Probably, however, he thought it prudent not to invite
general attention to words which, by a large portion of his subjects,
would have been accepted as justifiable.

It has been said by the defenders of the “regicide” that Philippe
Égalité did his best not to be present at the sitting of the Convention
when sentence had to be passed on the unfortunate king; but that he was
threatened by his friends of the Left with assassination unless he voted
with them for the “death of the tyrant.” However that may be, he took
his seat among the judges by whom the fate of his royal kinsman was to
be decided, and, when it became his turn to deliver his opinion, did so
in the following words: “Occupied solely with my duty, convinced that
all those who have attacked, or might afterwards attack, the sovereignty
of the people deserve death, I pronounce the death of Louis.”

Philippe Égalité had looked for general approval, and had voted in fear
of death--which awaited him all the same, and came to him in the very
form in which a few months before it had been inflicted on the unhappy
Louis. When his vote was made known cries of indignation from all sides
warned him that he had transgressed one of the great moral laws which
are observed even by men who violate all others. Then it was that a
former soldier of the King’s Body-guard, hearing of Philippe Égalité’s
unnatural offence, resolved to kill him, but not being able to find him,
killed another less guilty “regicide” in his place.

Very different was the feeling excited by the conduct of Philippe
Égalité in the breast of the king himself. “I don’t know by what
chance,” says the Abbé Edgeworth in his “Relation sur les Derniers
Momens du Roi,” “the conversation fell upon Philippe. The king seemed to
be well acquainted with his intrigues and with the horrid part he had
taken at the Convention. But he spoke of him without any bitterness, and
with pity rather than with anger. ‘What have I done to my cousin,’ he
exclaimed, ‘that he should so persecute me? What object could he have?
Oh, he is more to be pitied than I am. My lot is melancholy, no doubt,
but his is much more so.’”

Meanwhile the faction of the Assembly which in the beginning of
September, 1792, had, by its excited declamation and denunciation,
brought about the massacre of the prisoners, was constantly attempting,
in combination with other factions, to arrest some of the most
influential members of the majority, accuse them of treason, and bring
them before the Revolutionary Tribunal. On the 2nd of June, 1793, they
struck their first blow; and on the 3rd of October in the same year they
denounced forty-four deputies, ordered the arrest of seventy-one, and
compelled many more to take to flight and seek safety in concealment.
The majority was thus diminished by 150 members: the minority in fact
became the majority.

Then one of the authors of these measures, Robespierre, hoping to
monopolise whatever fruits they might bear, and finding no further
obstacle to his ambition, became dictator in fact, bent everything
beneath his will, and reigned by terror. During fourteen months he
subjected the French to a ferocious tyranny. At Paris alone thirty,
forty, sixty heads fell daily. At length, on the 27th of July, 1794,
this monster, together with his chief accomplices, paid his reckoning,
and France was delivered from an intolerable yoke. To the general
desolation, grief, and alarm now succeeded the liveliest joy. The doors
of many prisons were thrown open; the instrument of death ceased to ply
its blade.

The Convention, free and tranquil, despite the difficulties it
experienced from foreign factions, was now to pursue its way and to give
France a constitution. On the 26th of October, 1795, it terminated its
session.

The Conventional Assembly, at war with all the States of Europe, at war
even with the French inhabitants of some of the western provinces,
surrounded by distractions and dangers to which some of its own members
fell victims, did not omit to encourage the arts and sciences,
particularly those of practical utility, nor to found public
institutions of the highest importance. The development it gave to the
national schools and hospitals, to mention these alone, has already been
touched upon in previous chapters. A report drawn up in the third year
of the Republic by the savant Foucroy, in the name of the Committee of
Public Safety, on the “Arts which had served for the defence of the
Republic,” contains some interesting details. Within nine months, it was
boasted, 12,000,000 pounds of saltpetre had been manufactured and
stored in the magazines of the Republic, whereas, previously, the merest
fraction of that quantity had been yearly produced.

A method had been introduced, moreover, for manufacturing gunpowder in a
few hours with machines of the greatest simplicity. Hitherto France had
been dependent on the neighbouring nations for the manufacture of steel.
England and Germany had been accustomed to furnish her with this metal
at a charge of about 4,000,000 francs a year. Now several factories rose
in places where the production of steel had been hitherto unknown.

During the same period many improvements were introduced in the
manufacture of muskets; the number of cannon foundries was greatly
increased, a species of balloon was used as a war vehicle; and, to pass
from war to peace, weights and measures were rendered uniform.

The system of national education with nominal charges (averaging ten
francs a month), at the gymnasiums, with free lectures by the best
professors at the Sorbonne and the College of France, is due to the
Convention. So, too, is the famous Conservatoire de Musique, with its
gratuitous teaching, which has had the effect of turning France from an
unmusical into an eminently musical nation. For an interesting and
valuable account of the constructive measures adopted by the French
Republic, which is usually credited with measures of destruction alone,
the reader is referred to Mr. Morse Stephens’s excellent “History of the
French Revolution.”

Having been endowed by the Republic with a legislative body, France was
never afterwards without one, though its importance varied according to
the form and character of the Government. From the Riding School of the
Tuileries the Assembly moved to the Tuileries itself, and governing the
country as the Convention really did, it had the right, perhaps, to
establish itself in the palace of the French kings. Napoleon, however,
wanted the Tuileries for himself; and his Legislative Body now held its
unimportant discussions in the Palais Bourbon; which remained the home
of the French Parliament, under various names, until in 1871 the seat of
government was changed from Paris to Versailles.



CHAPTER XXXII.

SOME HISTORICAL RESIDENCES.

The Palace of the Legion of Honour--The Ministry of War--The Rue de
Grenelle--Talleyrand.


An interesting walk on the left bank of the Seine is from the end of the
Rue du Bac along the quay to the Pont des Invalides. To many persons the
most remarkable house on the Quai d’Orsay is the café of the same name,
which, by reason, no doubt, of its proximity to the Ministry of War, is
largely frequented by superior officers. At No. 5 is a cavalry barrack
occupied under the Restoration by the King’s Body-guard. Here, up to the
time of the Revolution, was the office of the Court carriages which
conveyed the public of Paris to the different royal residences, but went
nowhere else. In 1788, the year before the Revolution, the prices were
three livres ten sols (three francs ten sous, that is to say) for
Versailles and St.-Germain, nine livres ten sols for Fontainebleau, and
thirteen livres ten sols for Compiègne.

Close to the Café d’Orsay stood the Palace of the Council of State, laid
in ruins by the Communists on the 24th of May, 1871.

The Palace of the Legion of Honour, one of the most beautiful buildings
on the quay, was erected in 1786 by the architect Rousseau for Prince
Frederic John Otho von Salm Kirburg, husband of Jeanne Françoise Fidèle
Antoinette de Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. The prince was well connected,
for, husband of a Hohenzollern, he was brother-in-law of the Duc de
Thouars and of the Prince de Croy. He sat as deputy for Lorraine in the
Constituent Assembly, commanded a battalion of the National Guard of
Paris, was condemned to death by the Revolutionary Tribunal, and
guillotined on the 23rd of July, 1794, four days before Robespierre, and
in the same batch with the Prince de Montbazon-Rohan, M. de
Beauharnais, and M. Gouy d’Arcy. He was brought to the scaffold under
the name, negligently given to him by the _Moniteur_, of “H.
Desalm-Kirbourg, Prince of Germany.”

The former palace of the princes of Salm has had almost as eventful a
history as its first owners. It was put into a lottery, and won by a
hairdresser’s assistant, who sold it to a man named Liertaud, who used
to call himself the Marquis de Boisregard, until he was arrested for
forgery, and passed from the Hôtel de Salm to the galleys of Toulon. The
house was inhabited for a time, under the Directory, by Mme. de Stael,
who made it the scene of those political assemblies which were destined
to get her into trouble, and which, under the Empire, made it necessary
for her to leave Paris and live abroad.

At last the Government bought the Hôtel de Salm, in 1803, and caused it
to be arranged as the Palace of the Legion of Honour. Burnt and pillaged
by the Commune, it was rebuilt on the original plan by a voluntary
subscription, to which, on the invitation of the Grand Chancellor,
General Vinoy, the members of the Legion of Honour contributed.

[Illustration: RUINS OF THE PALACE OF THE COUNCIL OF STATE, QUAI
D’ORSAY.]

At the corner of the Quai d’Orsay, just where the Boulevard St.-Germain
terminates, is the Cercle Agricole, or Agricultural Club, composed
almost exclusively of landed proprietors, and one of the best clubs in
every respect that Paris possesses. The “Potato Club” it is humorously
called by those who have no sympathy with agricultural pursuits, and who
hold with a cert writer that “cultivators of wit have generally no land,
and cultivators of land generally no wit.”

There are several Government offices in this neighbourhood: the
Ministries of Agriculture, of Public Works, and of War.

The Ministry of War occupies a sort of island comprised between the Rue
St.-Dominic, the Rue de Solferino, and the Rue de Bourgogne, with its
principal entrance on the Boulevard St.-Germain, No. 231. The Dowager
Princess of Conti inhabited the mansion until 1775, the year of her
death. The next occupant was the Duc de Richelieu, who was succeeded by
Loménic de Brienne, Archbishop of Toulouse, and at the same time
Minister of War in the year 1786, and by his brother, the Comte de
Brienne, in 1789. Without being designated “Ministry of War,” the house
seemed destined to be occupied by a succession of War Ministers. At
last, however, it became national property, and from 1802 to 1804 it
was inhabited by Lucien Bonaparte. After the proclamation of the Empire,
Napoleon gave it to Mme. Laetitia Bonaparte; and it was not until the
Restoration that the Hôtel de Brienne became finally the official
residence of the Minister of War.

[Illustration: PALACE OF THE LEGION OF HONOUR.]

Close by, on the Boulevard St.-Germain, formerly Rue St.-Dominic, is
installed the Central Depôt of Artillery. It occupies the whole of the
ancient cloister of the monastery of the Reformed Dominicans, whose
church is dedicated to St. Thomas Aquinas. To the right of the church
portal, the little Rue St.-Thomas Aquinas conducts the visitor to a
space surrounded by symmetrical buildings. He is now in the heart of the
ancient convent. The large door to the right is that of the historical
cloister, where the Museum of Artillery found a home until it was
transferred to the Hotel des Invalides. The religious establishment, of
which nothing but the church survives, was the convent of the general
noviciate of the reformed Dominicans or Jacobins, founded by Cardinal
Richelieu in 1631. The construction of the church did not commence till
1638. The architect was Pierre Bullet, and the foundation stone was laid
by the Duchess de Luynes. It was not until nearly the middle of the next
century--1740--that the edifice was completed. The interior is richly
adorned with paintings from the brush of Blondel, Picot, Guillemot,
Lemoyne, Lagrenée, Michel Vanloo, and Ary Scheffer. The church of
St.-Thomas Aquinas is the most aristocratic in Paris, and a wedding
within its walls possesses enormous fascination for the curious
sightseer.

The Rue de Grenelle, which runs parallel to the old Rue St.-Dominique,
is remarkable for a sculptural masterpiece--the fountain designed by
Edmé Bouchardon, who himself executed the whole of the figures and
bas-reliefs. The central figure, representing the town of Paris, and the
two figures to right and left of it, symbolising the Seine and the
Marne, are exquisite. Between the columns and beneath the pediment is a
long Latin inscription, addressed by the Provost of the merchants of
Paris to the glory of Louis XV., “the father and delight of his people,
who, without shedding blood, has extended the frontiers of France.”

On the left, from No. 73 to No. 85, there is a whole series of
remarkable houses, each associated with some person of distinction. At
No. 73 died, in 1856, Viscount d’Arlincourt, once a popular novelist,
now absolutely forgotten. His family was of ancient origin, and his
father, a Farmer General, was guillotined during the Reign of Terror.
Young D’Arlincourt became one of Napoleon’s chamberlains, and afterwards
held some post in connection with the Council of State. At the
Restoration he wished to attach himself to the service of the Court, but
he was not successful, and returning to his castle in Normandy, gave
himself up entirely to literature, in which, under the Empire, he gained
some reputation. In the year 1825 he gave an entertainment in honour of
the Duchess of Berry, which became celebrated, and was made the subject
of elaborate descriptions in the newspapers. Running through the
viscount’s estate was a winding stream, on which a bark had been
prepared for the reception of the duchess, which was attended by the
ladies of the neighbourhood costumed as shepherdesses. The young people
of the surrounding villages, in arcadian attire, towed the boat with
chains of flowers towards a Greek temple, where ballads of a chivalric
kind were sung in praise of the honoured guests. White flags embroidered
with fleurs de lys were waved in the air; and in the evening, after a
sumptuous banquet, there were illuminations and a grand ballet. More
than a thousand persons took part in these operatic scenes, which were
marked by the same theatrical taste that distinguishes the viscount’s
romances. He had begun, under the Empire, an epic poem, called “The
Caroleid,” on the subject of Charlemagne, in which, beneath the features
of Carolus Magnus, the physiognomy of Napoleon could be recognised.
These passages were, however, marked out when, under the Restoration,
the viscount published the complete work. The most successful of all M.
d’Arlincourt’s books was “Le Solitaire,” which when it first appeared
went through a number of editions, and was translated into many
languages. It may be added that Bellini’s last opera, _I Puritani_, was
based on a novel by M. d’Arlincourt, called “Cavaliers and Roundheads.”

At No. 75 Talleyrand resided as Minister of Foreign Affairs under the
Directory. Before entering political life, Charles Maurice de
Talleyrand-Perigord studied theology and took holy orders. His family
would have placed him in the army, but for an accident of rather a
frightful kind, which happened to him in his childhood. His nurse had
put him down in a field, while she walked away in conversation with her
lover, and during her absence the child under her care was attacked by a
pig, which bit away part of one of the calves and of one of the feet of
the future diplomatist. At the age of twenty-one young Talleyrand was
named Abbé of St.-Denis in the diocese of Rheims. He led the dissipated
life common among the young abbés of his day; but he cultivated the
society of intellectual men, and was on friendly terms with Mirabeau,
Buffon, and Voltaire. In 1780 he was appointed Agent-General of the
French clergy: a lucrative post which placed him in relations with the
Minister, M. de Calonne, from whom he acquired ideas on the subject of
finance which enabled him to repair his shattered fortune. Leading at
the same time a life of pleasure and of affairs, Talleyrand did not
remain insensible to the changes that were taking place around him; and
in a letter addressed to his friend, Choiseul Gouffier, ambassador at
Constantinople, he showed himself an intelligent advocate of political
reform. A separate administration for the provinces--provincial
self-government, in fact--was one of the remedies he proposed. He
declared war against all privileges, and ended his letter by observing
that “at last the people must count for something.” In 1788, the year
before the Revolution, Talleyrand was made Bishop of Autun, with an
income of 80,000 francs. A member of the Assembly of Notables in the
month of November in this year, he showed himself one of the warmest
advocates of the new ideas, and became at this time the friend of
Necker. The clergy of his diocese sent Talleyrand as deputy to the
States-General of 1789. Here he ranged himself on the popular side, and
voted for the union of the two privileged orders (nobility and clergy)
with the Tiers États. He voted, too, for the suppression of tithes, and
for the constitution of an executive with responsible ministers.

At the great Federation Festival in the Champs de Mars, it was
Talleyrand who celebrated mass on the altar of the country, and a few
months afterwards he gave up the bishopric of Autun. For supporting the
civil constitution of the clergy he drew upon himself a decree of
excommunication. In 1791 Talleyrand undertook his first diplomatic
mission, being sent to London in order, if possible, to obtain a
declaration of neutrality from England. In this he was unsuccessful. The
atmosphere of London, however, suited him better than that of Paris, and
Talleyrand kept away from France until after the Reign of Terror. From
England he had passed to the United States. But on the formation of the
Directory he thought the time had come for him to go back to France; and
though his name had been placed on the list of _émigrés_, he had no
trouble in obtaining permission to return. He now established friendly
relations with Barras, with Chénier, and with Mme. de Stael, and, in
spite of some opposition from the austere Carnot, who disliked
Talleyrand’s levity, he was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs, or
“director of external relations.” He at once recognised the genius of
the young chief who, as General Bonaparte, had already made himself a
great name; and Talleyrand’s appointment as Foreign Minister was renewed
when Napoleon became First Consul. He foresaw the establishment of the
Empire, and encouraged Napoleon in that direction. He had a serious
misunderstanding with the emperor in regard to the execution of the Duke
d’Enghien, which Talleyrand strongly condemned, though, according to
Napoleon, it was he who first suggested it.

[Illustration: THE MINISTRY OF WAR.]

Talleyrand had more than one difference of opinion with Napoleon, and on
a certain occasion the emperor, half familiarly, half contemptuously,
pulled him by the ear. “What a pity,” exclaimed Talleyrand, “that so
great a man should be so ill-bred!” More than once Talleyrand was
dismissed from Napoleon’s service; but in moments of difficulty it was
found necessary to recall him. Finally, however, on Napoleon’s fall, he
got the Emperor of Russia to declare that he would treat neither with
Napoleon nor with any member of his family. Talleyrand used all his
influence, moreover, with the Senate to procure its acceptance of the
Bourbons, sure by this means to secure the favour of Louis XVIII. “Il
n’y a rien de changé: il n’y a qu’un Français de plus”--was the phrase
which Talleyrand at this time put into the mouth of the king’s brother,
Count d’Artois, who, after a time, believed that he had really uttered
it. The restored monarchy, however, gave the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
to the Duc de Richelieu, Talleyrand receiving an office he had before
held under Napoleon, that of Grand Chamberlain, with a salary of 100,000
francs.

When the Revolution of 1830 broke out, the Duke of Orleans, afterwards
Louis Philippe, consulted Talleyrand as to whether, should he accept the
throne, the European powers would be likely to recognise him. Talleyrand
wrote to the Duke of Wellington, at that time Prime Minister, and,
finding that England would make no objection, took it for granted that
there would be no trouble with Russia, while it was comparatively
unimportant what views the other governments might take. A month
afterwards he started for London, where he had been appointed
ambassador, and where he laid the foundation of that _entente cordiale_
(the expression was Guizot’s) which has secured to both countries a long
period of peace.

In 1834 Talleyrand, now in his eighty-first year, resigned his embassy
and returned to Paris, where, no longer taking part in public affairs,
he died four years afterwards. “Talleyrand spoke little,” says
Capefigue, “but with exquisite delicacy said all that it was necessary
to say with precision and politeness. He defined a situation by a word;
terminated a discussion by a phrase. He had seen so many events, so many
men, and so many passions, that no small thing could excite him. He
could meet anger, bursts of temper, with the most impassible
countenance. To a reproach he would reply by some charming _mot_. Thus,
when Napoleon said to him abruptly one day: “They say you are very rich,
M. de Talleyrand; you have made lucky speculations on the stock
exchange.” “Yes,” was his answer, “I bought into the funds on the eve of
the 18th Brumaire”--the day on which Napoleon made his celebrated _coup
d’état_.

Many witticisms have of course been attributed to Talleyrand which he
never uttered, and many more, which he did utter, but which were not
absolutely original. According to M. Edouard Fournier he was a constant
student of a collection of jests entitled, with curious irony,
“L’Improvisateur Français.” All necessary deductions, however, having
been made, the fact remains that this statesman was very witty, and with
a wit characteristically his own. “Language was given to man in order to
conceal his thoughts” is, perhaps, the most famous of his sallies. When
someone said in his presence that M. Thiers was a “parvenu,” “not
_parvenu_, but _arrivé_,” he remarked.

[Illustration: FOUNTAIN IN THE RUE DE GRENELLE.]

Besides being witty himself, he was according to M. Louis Blanc, the
cause at least on one occasion of wit in another. When Talleyrand was
dying, says the author of “The History of Ten Years,” King Louis
Philippe went to see him. “_Je souffre les tourments d’enfer_,”
complained Talleyrand. “_Déjà?_” the king is reported to have muttered.
This story, however, was at the time of M. Louis Blanc’s writing at
least two or three centuries old, and there is no reason for supposing
that either Talleyrand or the king uttered the words attributed to them
by this always interesting but generally inaccurate historian.

As a rule Talleyrand’s witticisms were marked by politeness. But he
could say severe things; and once when a lady, who suffered from
defective vision, seemed by her mode of inquiry after his health to be
hinting at his lameness, he replied to her “_Comment allez vous?_”
“_Comme vous voyez, Madame_.” His “_Surtout pas de zèle_” is well known;
also his amusing if cynical caution on the subject of spontaneity:
“Beware of first impulses: they are nearly always generous.”



CHAPTER XXXIII.

THE RUE TARANNE AND DIDEROT.

Diderot’s Early Life in Paris--His Love Affairs--Imprisonment in the
Château de Vincennes--Diderot and Catherine II. of Russia--His Death.


An interesting book has been published, under the title of “Paris
Démoli,” on the churches, houses, and buildings of various kinds which
were pulled down during the work of reconstruction pursued so vigorously
during recent years, and especially under the Second Empire. To build
the Rue de Rennés, which joins the Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés to the
terminus of the Left-Bank Western Railway on the Boulevard Montparnasse,
it was necessary to pull down the two first houses in the Rue Taranne,
numbered 1 and 2. No. 2, whose side windows look out upon the Rue
Saint-Benoit, afforded for many years an abode, on the fifth floor, just
beneath the roof, to Diderot, who, however, died, not here, but in the
Rue Richelieu immediately after his return from a visit to the Empress
Catherine.

Fitted neither by birth nor breeding for the atmosphere of courts,
Diderot received, nevertheless, from the Russian empress the greatest
marks of favour. In Russia Catherine could scarcely govern otherwise
than despotically, though she once summoned a parliament whose members
were entrusted with legislative functions; and it was perhaps not
altogether her fault that nothing came of their labours. Personally,
however, she had not the despotic manners by which the intercourse of
Frederick the Great with his inferiors was so often marked. Of a more
accommodating disposition than Diderot, Voltaire was able for a
considerable time to live peacefully with the Prussian king, though when
at last the inevitable quarrel came, he did not scruple to criticise and
satirise the sovereign whom, through a long course of years, he had
persistently flattered.

Son of a blacksmith and cutler at Langres, Diderot entered at an early
age the college of Harcourt, directed by the Jesuits. But showing no
aptitude for the theological career, he was placed with a lawyer, at
whose office he occupied himself exclusively with the study of
literature, philosophy, and mathematics. After a time the chief of the
office remonstrated with him, and asked him how he expected to live. “I
am fond of study,” he replied, “I can exist on very little, I am
perfectly happy; why, then, should I trouble myself about a regular
profession?” On being informed of these views Diderot’s father began by
stopping his son’s allowance. Then Diderot gave lessons, but not, it
would seem, on very remunerative principles; for if the pupil pleased
him he was ready to go on teaching him all day, whereas, in the contrary
case, he did not give a second lesson. He accepted payment in the form
of books, clothes, or anything else which, in the absence of money, the
pupil could offer. After a time he was engaged in a private family,
where for three months he taught incessantly, walking out with his
pupils, taking all his meals with them, and not leaving them for a
moment. He disliked, however, living in another person’s house, and
retired after three months to his own garret. He was now in the direst
poverty. He was often without food, and one Shrove Tuesday, in 1741 (he
was then twenty-eight years of age), he returned home in a fainting
condition from having eaten nothing all day. His landlady, seeing his
enfeebled state, gave him some toast steeped in wine; “and I then
swore,” said Diderot afterwards to his daughter, “that, if ever I
possessed anything, I would not, so long as I lived, refuse help to a
fellow creature who might find himself in a similar position.” On the
whole, however, apart from occasional bad days, Diderot led a lively
existence. He could write in any style, and was ready to execute any
kind of literary work. He even composed sermons. He wrote six for a
missionary, who paid him 300 crowns (about £36) for the half-dozen. This
he afterwards declared to be one of the best strokes of business he had
ever done. From time to time he wrote to his father, who did not answer
him. His mother, however, sent him, from time to time, a portion of her
savings by a faithful servant who, without saying anything about it,
added to the amount some savings of her own. On these occasions the poor
woman had to make a journey on foot of some 300 miles, 150 each way. In
spite of this assistance Diderot was often in distress. It may be, as
Heine somewhere suggests, that writers and artists, like medlars, ripen
best on straw. It is certain, in any case, that the talent and courage
of Diderot developed in spite, if not in consequence, of his poverty.
His energy grew in proportion as he exercised his power of resistance.

Unable to be much poorer than he actually was, Diderot now resolved to
get married. He heard one morning that two ladies had come to live in
the same house as himself. One was Mme. Champion, widow of a man who had
ruined himself and his family by his mania for speculation; the other
her daughter, Mlle. Annette Champion, a tall, handsome, well-mannered
girl. They had their own furniture, had saved a little money, and were
trying to support themselves by needlework. Diderot wished to be
introduced to them. “They will decline to make your acquaintance,” was
his landlady’s reply. He determined to order some shirts; by one means
or another he had resolved to make their acquaintance. On seeing the
daughter he fell in love with her, and soon afterwards proposed to marry
her. “You wish to get married?” said Mme. Champion; “and upon what? You
have no profession, no property, nothing whatever except a tongue of
gold, with which you have managed to turn my daughter’s head.” The
girl’s mother, however, gave her consent, and Diderot had next to obtain
the consent of his own father. Old Diderot, however, treated his son as
a madman, and not only would not hear of the marriage, but threatened to
curse him if he persisted in his intentions. Troubled on all sides,
Diderot now fell ill, and the illness sealed his fate. He was waited
upon and nursed by his two kind-hearted neighbours. On his recovery he
was profuse in his expressions of gratitude towards the mother; nor did
this prevent him from marrying the daughter in secret.

The young woman whom he now made his wife was more remarkable for good
nature than for intelligence. The strangest stories are told about her
want of brains. Thus, on one occasion, when a publisher had in her
presence purchased a manuscript from Diderot for 100 crowns, she
expressed her astonishment at his taking so much money for a few scraps
of paper, and urged him to return the sum. About a year later Diderot,
finding that injurious stories had been told to his family concerning
his wife, sent her without invitation on a visit to his father, who
received her with kindness, and kept her in his house for three months.
Meanwhile Diderot made the acquaintance of a Mme. de Pinsieux, who,
unlike the wife, was more remarkable for intellectual than for moral
qualities. She was extravagant in her tastes, and to gratify them
Diderot plied his pen with ceaseless activity.

To furnish her with money, literary spendthrift that he was, he wrote
books of the most varied kinds, from “Pensées Philosophiques,” one of
his most admirable works, to “Les Bijoux Indiscrets,” one of the most
objectionable. No one complained of the licentious tale. But the
philosophical work, a pamphlet of some sixty pages, full of profound
truths, expressed with vivacity and originality, was first attributed to
Voltaire, and next burnt by the common hangman. In his “Letter on the
Blind,” Diderot gave further offence, and this time he was imprisoned in
the castle of Vincennes. Everyone thought that the materialism professed
by Diderot in his essay was the cause of his arrest; which, however, was
due to something quite different. His “Lettre sur les Aveugles” had been
written on the occasion of an operation for cataract performed by
Réaumur on a patient who had been blind from birth. Diderot had wished
to study the first sensations produced upon the blind man by the effect
of light; but the famous operator would admit no one except a lady of
fashion, Mme. Dupré de Saint-Maur; and at the beginning of his letter
Diderot complained of the man of science who had preferred to have his
experiment witnessed by two beautiful eyes rather than by men capable of
appreciating it. Mme. Dupré de Saint-Maur is said to have had
considerable influence with M. d’Argençon, the Minister of Police; and
without judgment or accusation Diderot was arrested on the 24th of July,
1749, and taken to the Château of Vincennes. Thus religion was avenged,
and Mme. Dupré de Saint-Maur also.

[Illustration: GRIMM AND DIDEROT.]

That Diderot’s arrest was due in a great measure to the general contents
of his book, and not merely to his by no means uncomplimentary mention
of Mme. Dupré de Saint-Maur, seems proved by the fact that after
imprisoning him the police visited Diderot’s house and made a search for
his manuscripts. The unhappy author remained for twenty-eight days in
secret confinement. At the end of that time he wrote to D’Argençon
begging the minister to liberate him from a captivity “in which he might
make him die but could not make him live.” He was now transferred from
the castle-dungeon to the castle itself, where his wife and several of
his friends were allowed to visit him, among others Jean Jacques
Rousseau, with whom for some time past he had been on intimate terms.

In the eighth book of his “Confessions” Rousseau relates how a visit he
made to the prisoner of Vincennes marked an epoch in his life. The
Academy of Dijon had just proposed the following subject for a prize
essay:--“Has the revival of Arts and Letters contributed to the
purification of manners?” It was during his visits to Diderot in the
Château that Rousseau claims not only to have conceived the idea of
treating the question proposed, but also to have written the greatest
part of the essay which was to cause such a sensation in the world.
Diderot, however, gave a very different account of the matter to his
friend Marmontel. “I was prisoner at Vincennes,” he said, “where
Rousseau came to see me. He had made me his Aristarchus, as he himself
declared. One day, when we were walking together, he told me that the
Academy of Dijon had just proposed an interesting question, and that he
wished to treat it. The question was ‘Has the revival of arts and
letters contributed to the perfection of morals?’ ‘Which side shall you
take?’ I said to him. ‘The affirmative,’ he replied. ‘That is the _pons
asinorum_,’ I said. ‘All the mediocre people will take that view, and
you can only support it by commonplace ideas; whereas the contrary side
offers to philosophy and eloquence a new and fertile field.’ ‘You are
right,’ he answered, after a moment’s reflection. ‘I will follow your
advice.’” Diderot himself wrote on this very subject: “When the
programme of the Academy of Dijon appeared he came to consult me as to
which side he should take. ‘Take the side,’ I said to him, ‘that no one
else will take.’”

It was, in any case, Rousseau who wrote the essay, author though Diderot
may have been of its paradoxical character. As an example of the laxity,
as well as the severity of the period, it may be mentioned that when
Diderot had once been set free from the dungeon, he was allowed, in his
more commodious place of residence, to receive not only his wife and
friends, but also Mme. de Pinsieux, to whom he was still attached. One
day, when she was visiting him, he was struck by the brilliancy of her
attire. She accounted for the elaborateness of her toilette by saying
that she was going to an entertainment at Champigny. “Was she going
alone?” he asked. “Quite alone.” “Your word of honour?” “I give it you.”
Diderot did not quite believe in the lady’s assurances, and soon after
her departure he climbed over the wall of the park, hurried to
Champigny, and there saw Mme. de Pinsieux with some admirer. He went
back, scaled the wall a second time, and became once more a captive, but
with a heart set free. “He broke for ever,” says an indignant moralist,
“with his unworthy mistress.”

[Illustration: STATUE OF DIDEROT, BOULEVARD ST.-GERMAIN, FACING THE RUE
ST.-BENOIT.]

Diderot remained three years at Vincennes. He quitted his prison in
1734, and now conceived the plan of the “Encyclopædia,” a magnificent
literary and scientific monument, which alone would justify the
reputation he enjoys. It occupied him, without absorbing the whole of
his time, for more than thirty years; and there was certainly no other
man who could have brought to the work such wide knowledge, such energy
of style, and such prodigious application. He had undertaken the
articles on historical, philosophical, and scientific subjects, while he
was, at the same time, in association with D’Alembert, to go over the
work of all the contributors. As regards many of the subjects Diderot
had to study them as he went on; which his marvellous intuition enabled
him to do with the best effect. “Diderot,” said Grimm, “has naturally
the most encyclopædic head that ever existed.” “His genius, in its
sphere of activity, includes everything,” said Voltaire. “He passes from
the heights of metaphysics to the frame of a weaver, and thence to the
drama.” “Centuries after the time of his existence,” wrote Rousseau, in
his “Confessions,” when he had quarrelled with him, “this universal head
will be looked upon as we now look upon the head of Plato or Aristotle.”

Apart from his legitimate work Diderot had to cope with opposition and
persecution of all kinds. The Jesuits had proposed their co-operation
for the theological articles of the “Encyclopædia,” and Diderot had
refused their offer equally with a similar one made by the Jansenists.
The work was forthwith denounced as irreligious; and with such
contributors as Diderot and Voltaire it could scarcely, indeed, have
been otherwise, though it was not the direct object of the writers to
make war upon Faith. Among the many celebrated authors who furnished
articles to the “Encyclopædia” Rousseau may in particular be mentioned.
But like most of the contributors he wrote only for a time, and chiefly
on musical subjects. D’Alembert, Voltaire, Rousseau, all fell off;
Rousseau because something had offended him, Voltaire to write his own
philosophical dictionary, D’Alembert because he had grown tired of the
work. “I am worn out with the vexations of all kinds brought upon us by
this work,” wrote D’Alembert to Voltaire in 1758. At one time its
publication was forbidden, when Catherine II. offered to continue it in
Russia. The volumes were, curiously enough, thrown into the Bastille;
which, since they could be taken out again, was at least better than
burning them at the hands of the common hangman.

Catherine II. granted Diderot a handsome pension, and she at the same
time purchased his library for a large sum. The empress went so far,
indeed, as to send him the sum of 50,000 francs, being the annual
pension paid in advance for fifty years. Touched by the bounty of
Catherine, Diderot wished to thank the empress in person, and in the
year 1773 he started for Russia. At the Hague he was met by the High
Chamberlain, Narischkin, who, accompanying him to St. Petersburg, put
him up at his own house. Diderot’s friend Grimm was already at St.
Petersburg. He presented Diderot to the Empress Catherine, who received
him in the most cordial manner. She would be glad to see him, she said,
in her own apartments every day from three to five or six, and she took
the greatest pleasure in his conversation. “I see him very often,” she
wrote to Voltaire. “Our conversations are incessant. What an
extraordinary head he has! As for his heart, would that all other men
had one like it. I do not know whether they (Grimm and Diderot) are
getting tired of St. Petersburg, but I know that I could talk to them
all my life without fatigue.”

Catherine did her best to keep Diderot at St. Petersburg; but he wished
to return to Paris, and though he had been invited to stay at Berlin by
Frederick the Great, he passed through Prussia without visiting the
capital. It has been before said that he had no sympathy for Frederick.

Soon after his return to Paris he was taken ill, and after a short
malady died. The curé of Saint-Roch had come to see him, and Diderot
received him in a very friendly manner. They talked on various moral and
religious subjects, and as they agreed on many theological points,
especially as to the efficacy of charity and good works, the curé
ventured to suggest that if he would authorise the publication of these
opinions, together with a retractation of his works, the effect would be
excellent. But Diderot would do nothing of the kind. Neither would he
confess. Nevertheless there was but little difficulty in connection with
his funeral, which took place at Saint-Roch, where he was buried (July,
1784) in the Chapel of the Virgin. There his remains still lie.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER XXXIV.

MONSEIGNEUR AFFRE AND THE INSURRECTION OF JUNE.

The Courtyard of the Dragon--The National Workshops--The Insurrection of
June--Monseigneur Affre Shot at the Barricade of the Faubourg
St.-Antoine.


Close to the Rue de Turenne is the Courtyard of the Dragon, inhabited
for the last two centuries, even until now, by dealers in every kind of
ironwork. It was here, in July, 1830, that the first insurgents of this
particular district armed themselves more or less effectively for the
fray. The Courtyard of the Dragon owes its name to the dragon in bronze
placed at the entrance, just opposite the Rue Sainte-Marguerite, in
allusion to the monster on which painters and sculptors make Sainte
Marguerite trample. Passing in front of the Courtyard of the Dragon the
Rue de Rennes runs from north to south. The Rue du Four, the Rue du
Vieux-Colombier, and the Rue d’Assas, are at the back of the Monastery
of the Carmes Déchaussés--or Shoeless Carmelites--which occupies the
interior of the angle formed by the Rue de Rennes and the Rue d’Assas.
The Shoeless Carmelites, as formed or reformed under the auspices of St.
Theresa, were authorised to establish themselves in France by letters
patent, dated June, 1610; and they soon enriched themselves by the sale
of two manufactured articles which they alone were able to make: a kind
of stucco, known as Blanc des Carmes, which took the polish of marble,
and treacle water; both of which became very popular in Paris. The
Carmelite Monastery is now the seat of the Catholic University of Paris,
founded by thirty French archbishops or bishops, and comprising three
faculties: Law, Letters, and Sciences. In 1791 the priests, who had
refused to swear fidelity to the Constitution, were imprisoned in the
Carmelite Monastery, and the massacring band of Maillard, and the
wretches under his orders, slaughtered them on the 2nd and 3rd of
September, 1792, together with all the prisoners, irrespectively of age
or sex, who were confined with them. Close to the altar of the left
transept is a monument enclosing the heart of Monseigneur Affre, who
fell during the terrible days of June, in 1848, at the formidable
barricade of the Faubourg St.-Antoine, as he was making a last effort to
stop the further effusion of blood. In the midst of his exhortations he
was struck in the loins by a stray bullet, and fell into the arms of the
insurgents, who were in despair at the terrible incident, which was not
the result of a crime, as the direction of the shot, the evidence of the
vicars in attendance upon him, and the grief of the revolutionists
sufficiently testified. The venerable prelate expired on the 27th, two
days after he had been struck. “May my blood be the last shed” were his
dying words.

The successful insurrection of June, which, after much slaughter, was
suppressed, was partly the consequence of the successful insurrection of
February, after which, Louis Philippe having taken flight, the Second
Republic was proclaimed. In February the provisional Government had
guaranteed in a formal manner the “right to labour.” Accordingly,
numbers of workmen being without employment, and capitalists being
unwilling to embark in new enterprises, or even in many cases to
continue those which were already on foot, national workshops were
opened, in which upwards of 100,000 workmen found occupation and bread.
Apart from the drain upon the exchequer caused by the employment of
these hundred thousand men, the inevitable moment at which it would be
necessary to close the workshops was regarded by everyone with alarm.
Each workman was employed one day out of four in useless labour; and the
more prudent hoped that the national workshops would be closed
gradually, and the men induced gradually to seek service with private
employers. Among other measures it was proposed to colonise Algeria with
the men out of work; and it was calculated that two hundred millions of
francs would be necessary for this purpose. According to the
calculations of many wise economists and politicians, an expenditure of
two hundred millions in order to get rid of a menacing army of 100,000
men was not excessive. Others, including, it may be, some secret enemies
of the Republic, who did not object to a violent collision, in which the
republican form of government might disappear, thought the workshops
ought to be closed, and the men left to shift for themselves. The
national workshops were at the same time declared to be nests of idlers,
thieves, and incendiaries.

On the 17th of June, after long and passionate debates in the Assembly,
the immediate dissolution of the national workshops was proposed. The
next day the workmen, by way of reply, exhibited on all the walls of
Paris placards in these terms: “There is no unwillingness on our part to
work; but useful and appropriate work according to our trades is just
what we cannot obtain. We call for it, we ask for it with all our force.
The immediate suppression of the national workshops is demanded; but
what is to become of the 100,000 workmen who find in their modest pay
the sole means of existence for themselves and their families? Are they
to be delivered over to the evil counsels of famine, to the suggestions
of despair? Are they to be placed at the mercy of factions?” A
proclamation was at the same time issued to the workmen, calling upon
them to be calm, and warning them against the emissaries of different
political parties. “Nothing is any longer possible in France,” concluded
the proclamation, “but the democratic and social republic. We will have
neither emperor nor king; nothing except liberty, equality, and
fraternity.”

[Illustration: ENTRANCE TO THE COURTYARD OF THE DRAGON.]

It was decided in the first place to expel from the national workshops,
and, with the consent of the expelled, enroll in the army all workmen of
from seventeen to twenty-five years of age. Other detachments were to be
sent to the marshes of Sologne in order to drain them, or to be employed
on earthworks in distant departments. Others, again, could be sent to
Algeria. The workmen, however, showed no disposition to adopt any of the
courses recommended; and, according to the expression of one of them,
they were called upon to choose between famine, expatriation, and
military servitude. They were threatened, indeed, by famine, but more
than one means of escape was offered to them. After a stormy day an
immense meeting was held in the Place St.-Sulpice, at which, after many
impassioned speeches, it was decided to meet the next morning at six
o’clock in the Place du Panthéon. The executive commission appointed by
the Government to watch over the peace of Paris, and prevent, if
possible, its being broken, ordered General Cavaignac, Minister of War,
to occupy the Place du Panthéon the next morning, June 23rd, at five.
But at six not a soldier was to be seen, and the square was taken
possession of by the people. The absence of troops at important points
was observed elsewhere. Two plans had been discussed. The executive
commissioners wished the troops to be disseminated in such a manner
that no barricade could be erected without being at once destroyed, so
that the hostile popular movement would be crushed from the beginning.
Cavaignac, however, wished to be allowed to mass the entire army beneath
his orders, and then to send columns of attack wherever necessary. It
was represented to him that by such a system Paris would be covered with
barricades, and the final victory of the troops cause torrents of blood.
The stern soldier cared nothing for that. “As for the National Guard,
let it take care of its own shops,” he haughtily added; “I do not wish
to run the risk of a single one of my companies being disarmed.”
Cavaignac was afterwards accused of having purposely allowed the
insurrection to grow, in order that he might play the part of a saviour.
But the question being purely a military one, the executive commission
found itself bound to give in.

The insurrection had neither chief nor settled plan. Enjoying full
liberty of extension during the first few hours, it had spread rapidly
over half the city, extending in a semicircle from the Clos St. Lazare
on the right bank to the Pantheon on the left. Its centre seemed to be
the Place de la Bastille, and its strategic object to converge upon the
Hôtel de Ville. In spite of Cavaignac’s sarcasm about the shopkeepers
and their shops, the National Guard played a very active part in the
suppression of the insurrection. Cavaignac entrusted the command on the
right bank and the boulevards to Lamoricière, on the left bank to
Daumesuil, and around the Hôtel de Ville to Bedeau. He himself took
charge of a few battalions in the Faubourg du Temple, not far from the
Place de la Bastille.

[Illustration: COURTYARD OF THE DRAGON.]

It was on the evening of the first day that Monseigneur Affre,
accompanied by his two Grand Vicars, went to the Place de la Bastille to
address some conciliatory words to the insurgents, in the hope of
prevailing upon them to abandon the contest; and it was here, as before
set forth, that, received with every mark of sympathy by the insurgents,
he fell while he was addressing them. It was not till nine on the day
following that the formidable insurrection of June was, after terrible
slaughter, brought to an end.



CHAPTER XXXV.

SOME OCCUPANTS OF MONTPARNASSE.

The Boulevard Montparnasse--The Cemetery--Father Loriquet--Hégésippe
Moreau--Sainte-Beuve.


To return to the Carmelite Monastery and the Rue de Rennes, which
continues its course until it reaches the Boulevard Montparnasse. This
boulevard is a section of the road round Paris, formed under Louis XV.,
together with all the southern boulevards, in virtue of letters patent.
Until recently the Boulevard Montparnasse was full of restaurants and
dancing-places, among the latter the most celebrated being La Grande
Chaumière, much patronised by students in the time of Louis Philippe and
of Gavarni. Since the construction of the great terminus of the Western
Railway the boulevard in question has become transformed. It has been
invaded by industry and commerce. The hovels, booths, and public gardens
of former days have been replaced by well-built houses, many of which,
with the studios attached to them, are occupied by painters and
sculptors.

The name of this boulevard has a genuine literary origin. The land was
given in the sixteenth century, with the high ground in the immediate
neighbourhood, to the scholars of the different Paris colleges, who
assembled on its slopes and summit to read poems, and to discuss matters
of literature and art. The height of the so-called “mount” is on a level
with that of the roof of the railway station; but the railway line is
itself considerably above the level of the boulevard. The region of
Mount Parnassus has its theatre and its cemetery. At the former many a
dramatic author, afterwards to become celebrated, has brought out his
first piece; in the latter numbers of writers and painters who, without
perhaps failing in their art, failed in life, have found repose, with
the poet Hégésippe Moreau among them. Here, too, lie Henri Regnault, the
young painter who was killed in the sortie towards Buzenval on the 19th
of January, 1871; the surgeon Lisfranc, self-declared rival of the
illustrious Dupuytren, whom, in his lectures, he used freely to describe
as “This brigand from over the water” (Lisfranc was attached to the
Charité on the left bank, Dupuytren to the Hôtel Dieu on the island);
Father Loriquet, author of the celebrated “History of France,” in which
Napoleon Bonaparte is represented as one of the generals of Louis
XVIII., in whose name he gains important victories; Sainte-Beuve, the
famous critic; Baron Gérard, the painter; Rude, the sculptor; Orfila,
the great chemist, who discovered arsenic in the body of M.
Lafarge--whereupon Raspail, the chemist retained for the defence,
declared that he would find as much arsenic in a pair of old window
curtains; the four sergeants of Rochelle, whose unhappy fate has been
told in connection with Bicêtre, where for a time they were confined;
the philosopher Jouffroy, and the famous writer on political and
religious subjects, Montalembert.

Hégésippe Moreau, just mentioned as one of the most interesting tenants
of the Montparnasse cemetery, was the author of a terrible poem, “To
Hunger,”--with which he was only too intimately acquainted. But his
reputation rests on a collection of poems gracefully entitled “Le
Myosotis.”

Father Loriquet was one of the most remarkable historians of ancient or
modern times. Holding individually, perhaps, the doctrine ascribed to
Jesuits collectively by their enemies, that the end justifies the means,
and resolved in his “History of France” to work according to the motto
of his Order, “_Ad majorem Dei gloriam_,” he rearranged the historical
facts so as to make them accord, not with what did happen, but with what
in his opinion ought to have happened--a mode of writing history not
indeed peculiar to himself. The work was published immediately after the
Restoration, and, according to the titlepage, was expressly designed
“for the instruction of youth.” It is said to be still used in certain
ultra-religious boarding schools, where no words are looked upon as so
odious as those of “Revolution” and “Republic.”

Speaking of the American War of Independence, this strange historian
writes: “Louis XVI. did not think it just or politic to take the part of
rebels, who claimed rights for subjects against kings. But sacrificing
inopportunely his own intelligence to that which he thought he
recognised among his councillors, he acknowledged the independence of
the United States of America” (vol. ii., p. 129).

Here are some more extracts from this curious work:--

“Louis XVI. committed the fault of tolerating an illegal meeting of
factious persons in the Tennis Court. He should have known that a few
drops of impure blood shed in time are the salvation of empires (page
130).

“In the midst of convulsive movements the assembly, after a splendid
repast, held the midnight meeting so well known under the name of the
sitting of the 4th of August. There, without discussion, without
deliberation, inspired solely by the vapours of wine, it decreed a
number of unjust things against landed proprietors and the owners of
feudal rights (page 144).

“It was the evening of the 5th of October. The most alarming news was
being circulated in Versailles. The days of the royal family, above all
those of the queen, were seriously menaced. The aim of the conspirators
was, by intimidating Louis XVI., to compel him to fly and quit the
throne, which the Duke of Orleans proposed to seize. But the king having
declared that he would not take flight, the duke and his accomplices
resolved to get rid of him by assassination. It was in a church
dedicated to St. Louis that the horrible plot was prepared. At daybreak
the signal was given. Thirty thousand assassins, intoxicated with wine
and debauchery, threw themselves into the palace, calling out, ‘Long
live our Orleans King!’ (page 146).

“Bonaparte, having by his crimes reached the summit of power, was
proclaimed emperor.” In his narrative of the retreat from Moscow Father
Loriquet compares the French to Pharaoh’s Egyptians lost in the snow
instead of being drowned in the Red Sea. At Fontainebleau, in 1814, when
the allies were approaching Paris, Napoleon, according to the historian
in question, was suddenly informed by his generals that he was no longer
emperor, and that France had a king. “This information made him shed
many tears, and he only seemed to be consoled when the allies ceded to
him the little island of Elba with an income of 6,000,000 francs.”

The poet Hégésippe Moreau had but little in common with the Jesuit
father whose last resting-place he shares. As a writer he is remembered
solely by the volume of poems previously referred to, called “Le
Myosotis.” As a man, little is known of him except that he was miserably
poor--obliged, during one period of his life, to sleep in the trees of
the Champs Élysées and of the Bois de Boulogne. In a touching letter of
his, preserved by one of his biographers, he tells his correspondent
how, being invited to a fashionable evening party, he found nothing
there to eat but a little fruit jelly, when he had hoped to have the
opportunity of dining. He was, in fact, in the position of that
unfortunate young man in M. Ponsard’s _Honneur et Argent_ who exclaims
pathetically: “Je porte des gants blancs, et je n’ai pas dîné!”--“I have
white gloves on and I’ve had no dinner!” One terrible incident is
related of Hégésippe Moreau. During the cholera year of 1832 he was
carried in a state of exhaustion, caused solely by hunger, to the
hospital of La Charité, where, in the hope of catching the epidemic and
dying of it, he rolled himself up in the sheets of a cholera patient who
had but lately expired. Contagion, however, spared him, and wanting
nothing but food and rest he was soon restored to health. On leaving the
hospital he walked on foot to his native town of Provins, where, such
was the unpractical character of his mind, he not only started a
journal, but a journal in verse. _Diogenes_ it was called, and his only
reason for starting it in the little town of Provins, where it could not
possibly find a sufficient number of readers, seems to have been that he
had influence and credit at a local printing-office, where he had at one
time been employed as proof-reader. _Diogenes_ had doubtless been
suggested by the _Nemesis_ of Barthélémy, which, however, was published
not in a little provincial town, but at Paris. Only a few numbers of
_Diogenes_ appeared; and in his rage at not being appreciated the
satirist filled his dying number with the bitterest attacks on leading
inhabitants of the town. This led to a duel, and obliged him once more
to quit Provins for Paris.

It is related of Hégésippe Moreau that in the revolutionary days of
1830, fighting at the barricades, he wounded a Swiss soldier, and then,
taking pity on the man, gave him his own coat, to enable him to get away
in disguise.

Let us pass, however, to a writer enjoying far more celebrity than
either the graceful poet Hégésippe Moreau or the grotesque
historiographer, Father Loriquet. It was probably from his English
mother that Sainte-Beuve derived that taste for certain English poets,
with Cowper, Wordsworth, and Shelley among them, whom he attempted to
imitate in his earliest flights. His mother, having been left a widow,
sent him for preliminary study to the College of Boulogne, his native
town; afterwards transferring him, for the completion of his general
education, to Paris. At length he commenced the study of medicine, urged
by his mother, who is said to have distrusted the literary aspirations
which her son had already manifested. But after waiting for a year as
assistant-physician at the hospital of Saint-Louis, he felt that he had
missed his true vocation, and, without completely abandoning medicine,
wrote a series of historical, philosophical, and critical articles for
the _Globe_, directed at that time by M. Dubois, formerly one of his
professors. Sainte-Beuve was then living in the Rue de Vaugirard, a few
doors from the house inhabited by Victor Hugo; and when the latter
changed his abode and installed himself in the Rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs,
accident once more threw Sainte-Beuve within easy distance of the poet.
Community of literary taste produced an intimate acquaintance between
the neighbours, and Sainte-Beuve took part in the new intellectual
movement of which Victor Hugo and Alexander Dumas were the originators
and chiefs. The New School, breaking from classical traditions, turned
back its attention to the sixteenth century, and to a group of writers
greatly obscured by the literary lustre of the two centuries which
followed. Sainte-Beuve set himself to study Ronsard and Du Bellay; and
in due time he had an opportunity of showing that he had not studied
them in vain. The Academy having, in 1827, proposed as the subject of
its Prize for Eloquence a “Picture of French Poetry in the Sixteenth
Century,” Daunou persuaded the critic of the _Globe_ to compete,
and placed at the young man’s disposition his own rich library.
Sainte-Beuve’s essay did not gain the prize. But it was published by
its author, who printed with it an edition of the “Selected Works”
of Ronsard; and the work, which the Academy had rejected, took rank
ultimately as the first authority on the period of French literature
with which it deals.

Whilst throwing himself into romanticism Sainte-Beuve was not blind to
the defects of the New School, though he could not himself, as poet,
avoid the very faults against which he had warned others. In reference
to Victor Hugo’s “Odes and Ballads” he wrote as follows: “M. Hugo’s
first inspiration is invariably true and profound; the whole mischief
arises from extravagant similes, frequent digressions, and
over-refinement of analysis.... There are forced metaphors, moreover,
improprieties of language, ellipses in the series of ideas, and prosaic
passages in the midst of the most dazzling poetry.” Victor Hugo was
naturally not delighted with this criticism. But he encouraged the
critic, and persuaded him to publish his “Poésiés de Joseph Delorme,” of
which Sainte-Beuve had read him some specimens. Having once taken up
with romanticism, Sainte-Beuve went at least as far as his master, and
committed precisely those faults which he had censured; for eccentric
lines, prosaic phrases, and outrageous metaphors abound in his
collection, although these eccentricities, far from injuring the volume,
seem to have caused its success. People who liked everything that was
odd or audacious read the book, and praised it for faults at which
scholars would knit their brows.

The Revolution of 1830 opened a new sphere of activity to Sainte-Beuve.
Hitherto he had occupied himself little with politics; but now he plied
his pen freely in the _Globe_ as a supporter of those principles of
humanitarianism so strongly championed by Pierre Leroux, who had become
director of the journal in question. Subsequently he undertook a
political campaign in the _National_ with Armand Carrel. In his various
writings, both in and out of the newspapers, he showed himself
inconstant to any fixed principles. His whole life, in fact, was
composed of intellectual changes and variations. These, however, were
simply the outcome of a mind curious to fathom all kinds of ideas, to
penetrate within them, in order to extract from them their sap or their
honey. Approaching the teachers in order to appreciate them as well as
their doctrines, he made himself their pupil, sat at their feet, and
quitted them as soon as he had completed his analysis. He himself was
quite conscious of this tendency, and confessed that even when he
entered Victor Hugo’s school of romanticism he only assumed as much of
that enthusiasm as might be expected to characterise a devotee. If,
however, he was on this, and on other similar occasions, consciously
insincere, his fault is largely redeemed by the genuine ardour with
which he played the neophyte at each fresh initiation; by the respect
which he always entertained for his masters, even after he had changed
them; and by the universality of the knowledge which he derived from
these studies, pursued, as they were, in a spirit of adventure or of
intellectual speculation. He sketches his own character admirably in
some advice which he gave to a young man in 1864; nor is it difficult to
see that he was consciously proposing himself as an example: “Seek the
most noble friendships,” he wrote, “and bring to them the benevolence
and sincerity of an open soul, desirous, above all things, of admiring;
pour into criticism--emulous sister of your poetry--your ardour,
sympathy, and all that is purest in your nature; eulogise, lay your
eloquence at the service of new talents, usually so much contested and
combated, and do not forsake them until the day when they withdraw
themselves from the right path and falsify their promises: after that
treat them with reserve. Incessantly vary your studies, cultivate your
mind in every direction; do not narrow yourself to one party, one
school, or one idea; let it see the dawn break on every horizon;
maintain your independence and your dignity; lend yourself for a time,
if necessary, but do not give yourself away. Remain judicious and
clear-sighted even in your weaker moments; and even if you do not say
the whole truth, never utter what is false. Never allow fatigue to lay a
hold upon you; never feel that you have attained your goal. At the age
when others are reposing or relaxing themselves, redouble your courage
and ardour; recommence like a novice, run your career a second time,
renew yourself.” Such was precisely the course which Sainte-Beuve
himself followed. When he wrote the above lines he was reviewing his own
life.

[Illustration: THE MONTPARNASSE STATION.]

Votary of romanticism as he had been, Sainte-Beuve adopted on one
occasion a course which many would have considered the reverse of
romantic. Challenged to a duel by M. Lecaze for words which he had
uttered in the Senate, he replied that he would fight his adversary with
no other weapon than that with which they were both familiar--the pen.

The death of Sainte-Beuve was preceded by cruel bodily tortures, and, as
he saw his end approaching, he took precautions to keep the priests away
from his bedside, and to divest his interment of all solemnity. By his
testamentary wishes none of the associations to which he belonged,
neither the Academy nor the Senate, was to be represented at his
funeral; and no oration was to be pronounced over his tomb. “Finally,”
he added, “I wish to be carried straight from my home to the cemetery of
Montparnasse, and to be placed in the vault where my mother lies,
without passing through the church, which I could not do without
violating my sentiments.” His dying directions were obeyed to the
letter.



CHAPTER XXXVI.

SPORTS AND DIVERSIONS.

_Le “Sport”_--Longchamps--Versailles Races--Fontainebleau--The
Seine--Swimming Baths--The Art of Book-collecting.


The Seine at Paris is the scene not of much boating, but of a good deal
of swimming. Baths on the Thames have never been successful: they abound
on the Seine, and the Parisians, whatever they may be as
boatmen--“canotiers,” to use their own word--excel as swimmers.

The French are not naturally a sporting nation. In the first place they
have found it necessary to borrow our English word for their pastimes;
and their spelling of sportsman as “sportman” is somewhat indicative of
their generally unsuccessful imitation of English sports.

The French are themselves conscious of the failure of this imitation.
“Sport,” says a French writer, “is an English word which signifies
literally relaxation, distraction, and which the English employ, by
extension, to designate the pleasures to which powerful aristocrats or
opulent citizens abandon themselves as a relaxation from the serious
labours of political life or the absorbing occupations of commerce. In
“sport” they include large hunts and shooting expeditions such as can be
practised on vast estates, together with betting, which involves
millions of pounds sterling, riding and driving, fencing, boxing,
swimming, skating; everything which calls into play the forces and
energy of the body, to the too frequent neglect of mental activity.

“We have adopted the word and attempted the thing. But independently of
the fact that our French society lacks some of the fundamental
conditions which, in this respect, English society possesses, we have
done what imitators generally do: we have diminished, sometimes even
travestied the model. Large aristocratic hunts have become impossible on
our democratic and parcelled-out soil. Well-bred horses cost a great
deal of money, and the instability of fortunes is an obstacle to fine
stables. The most reckless of our millionaires only hazard a few
thousand francs in the way of bets, and it is now generally understood
that when a “louis” is spoken of on the turf, the ambitious word must be
translated into the more modest expression, “twenty sous.” ... Even
fencing is abandoned to fiction and the stage. Duellists who are at all
serious must go beyond the frontier to find a ground which will place
combatants and seconds beyond the reach of the French law. The
police-court of the nineteenth century is perhaps more dreaded than was
the scaffold of Richelieu.”

Parisian summers, this same writer goes on to observe, are on the whole
too cold for bathing, and Parisian winters too hot for skating.

Unquestionably horse-racing has taken a certain hold on the French,
though it is true that the crowds who frequent the most popular races do
not confine their attention, or their conversation, to the horses or the
stakes, but regard the event principally as a fête.

It is at the hippodrome of the Bois de Boulogne (or Longchamps, as it is
also called) that the most largely attended races occur. A minimum
charge of a franc is made for admission, to stand or walk about outside
the ropes which mark off the course. For the reserved places higher
prices are charged: five francs to the pavilions, twenty francs to the
weighing enclosure, fifteen francs for a one-horse carriage, twenty
francs for a carriage with more than one horse, and so on. The races of
La Marche are in the form of steeple-chases. The Château de La Marche
stands in a park at a short distance from Ville d’Avray and Saint-Cloud;
and it is in the park that the races take place.

The races of the Bois de Vincennes are less fashionable than those of
Longchamps and of La Marche, perhaps because the approach to Vincennes
through crowded streets is less attractive than the drive through the
Champs Élysées and the Bois de Boulogne.

The races of Chantilly, founded in 1834 under the patronage of the Dukes
of Orleans and of Nemours, are run twice a year on the spacious meadows
which extend right and left of the magnificent stables of the château of
the Condés. The first races are fixed for the second fortnight of May.
The later series, those of the autumn meeting, are held in September and
October. The last race of the season is for the grand prize of the
Jockey Club. The racecourse of Chantilly describes an ellipsis
measuring some 2,000 metres. Several stands have been erected opposite
the stables: prices of admission to the various places as at Paris. At
Chantilly are the principal training establishments.

The Versailles races are run on the plain of Satory, where Napoleon III.
held some of his most brilliant reviews. They take place in May and
June.

At Fontainebleau the races are run on a course cut through the part of
the forest known as the Valley of the Solle. From various woody heights
the spectator, well protected from the sun, can obtain an excellent view
of the running. Shooting is practised at a club in the little town of
Argenteuil, close to Paris, where the society of Parisian Riflemen is
established. Candidates duly proposed and seconded are put up for
election, and, if admitted, pay ten francs entrance money and an annual
subscription of fifty francs. The organ of the society is the well-known
sporting paper, the _Journal des Chasseurs_.

The canotiers and canotières of the Seine are counted by thousands. They
all seem to row more for amusement than for exercise and pace. The
principal ports of the Parisian navy are Charenton above bridge, and
Asnières below. Charenton may be reached by the Lyons Railway: the
charming Asnières (famous for its balls) by the Saint-Germain and
Versailles line. The water-side restaurants are organised in view of the
canotiers, and appeal specially to this floating population.

If the Seine is remarkable for its swimming baths and, at some little
distance on each side of Paris, for its innumerable boats with rowers
and rowed in gay fantastic costumes, one bank of the Seine, the left, is
celebrated for its stalls of second-hand books. It was at a curiosity
shop on one of the quays of the left bank that Balzac’s “Peau de
Chagrin” or “Chagreen Skin” was offered for sale. It was at a
neighbouring bookstall that the poor student in the “Vie de Bohème” sold
his Greek books for little more than the price of waste paper in order
to buy medicine for the dying mistress of his friend. It is not at the
bookstalls of the Quai d’Orsay that one would look for the rarest
editions, though rare editions may here be found. There are connoisseurs
who seem to spend every day and all day long at the bookstalls of the
quay; resembling the celebrated English bibliophile, Lord Spencer, who
remained an entire year at Rome, visiting neither St. Peter’s, nor the
Coliseum, nor the Vatican, but only the old bookshops. When he had once
found the Martial of Sweynheym and Pannartz dated 1473 he went straight
back to London. Such a passion looks like insanity; but it is at least a
respectable, innocent kind of madness. To have a genuine passion for
books is to care neither for cards, nor for good living, nor for useless
luxury, nor for racehorses, nor for political intrigues, nor for ruinous
love affairs. The bibliophile is never troubled by the storms of
political life. Pixéricourt, the author of thirty amusing or terrible
novels, would be forgotten in France but for the rare editions that he
collected in his library, and which after his death did more for his
reputation, at the sale of his books, than all his works of fiction had
done. Few writers of the day grudged him his talent or his success; but
many envied him his “Imitation of Jesus Christ,” given to the monk
Laurence “by his very humble servant, Pierre Corneille.” His Elzevirs
and Baskervilles, for which Holland and China had furnished their rarest
paper, England and France their best engravers, Russia and Morocco their
incomparable leather, filled amateurs with enthusiasm. A great French
book-collector, Grolier, had adopted this motto, “For myself and my
friends.” Charles Nodier wrote for Pixéricourt an epigraph to be
inscribed inside his books which, if somewhat selfish, was at least
true:

    Tel est le triste sort de tout livre prêté,
    Souvent il est perdu, toujours il est gâté.[D]

[D] This is the sad lot of every book that is lent: often it is lost,
always spoilt.

The bookstall-keeper acquires gradually a knowledge of the finest or, if
not the finest, the most curious editions; and he would be but a poor
dealer were he unable to judge of their value. At one time the Pont-Neuf
was full of bookshops; and the second-hand dealers in books had their
stalls in the Cité, close to Notre Dame and to the Palace of Justice, as
well as on the Place de Grèves. But they are now nearly all to be found
on the parapets of the left bank.

The picture-dealers, at one time numerous on the quays of the left bank
of the Seine, have for years past been gradually disappearing. It was in
the curiosity shop already mentioned in connection with Balzac’s “Peau
de Chagrin” that a certain Christ, by Raphael, was supposed to be kept
hidden away like a treasure. That, however, was more than sixty years
ago; and no masterpieces by Raphael are now to be found in the curiosity
shops of the left bank. The one place for buying and selling pictures
is the Hôtel Drouot, on the other side of the river. Here pictures are
sold by auction at the hands of official auctioneers and authorised
brokers. In addition to the purchase-money five per cent. must be paid
in the way of fees and for the cost of the sale. This charge is thought
exorbitant, and it has not been forgotten that at the sale of Marshal
Soult’s pictures, when Murillo’s “Conception” was purchased by the
Government for the Square Room of the Louvre, nearly 30,000 francs
commission had to be paid independently of the 586,000 francs, which was
the adjudicated price. The sales about to take place are announced on
the walls of the Hôtel Drouot; also in the columns of certain journals,
such as the _Moniteur des Ventes_ or the _Chronique des Arts_.

[Illustration: SECOND-HAND BOOKSTALLS.]

[Illustration]

[Illustration: THE BUREAU DE BIENFAISANCE ASYLUM AT VINCENNES.

1. The Façade. 2. The Bowling Green.]



CHAPTER XXXVII.

FENCING SCHOOLS.

Fencing in France--A National Art--Some Extracts from the Writings of M.
Legouvé, One of its Chief Exponents--The Old Style of Fencing and the
New.


Fencing is in England the pastime of a few amateurs; in France it is a
national art. An ingenious reason has been adduced by M. Legouvé why
proficiency with the rapier should be acquired by everyone. “The sword,”
he writes, “possesses the finest of all advantages: it is the only
weapon with which you can avenge yourself without an effusion of blood.
What is nobler for a man of chivalry and skill when he finds himself
confronting the man who has offended him, and whom he is privileged to
kill, than at once to punish this adversary and to spare his life--to
disarm him, that is to say.”

It is in his character of dramatic author, however, that M. Legouvé
chiefly values duelling. “What would become of us wretched playwrights
without the sword-duel?” he asks. “The pistol is a brutal contrivance,
suitable only to dark melodramas and to dénouements.... What do you
think could be done in a comedy with a man who haply had received a
bullet wound? He is no longer good for anything. But if he has been
wounded with a sword, he returns two minutes afterwards with his hand
thrust in the folds of his waistcoat and an attempted smile on his face.
The young woman says to him, ‘How pale you are!’ ‘I, mademoiselle?’ Then
the end of a bandage is somehow perceived. ‘Gracious heavens! you have
been fighting a duel,’ she exclaims.” M. Legouvé must now be allowed to
continue in his own language: “Ah! l’admirable verbe que le verbe _se
battre_! Tous les temps en sont bons. _Vous vous battez? battez-vous!...
Ne vous battez pas!..._ Et comme il va bien avec les exclamations: ‘_Mon
ami! par grâce! Monsieur, vous êtes un lâche!... Arthur! Arthur!... Je
me jette à tes pieds!_’ Speak not to me of dramatic writing without
those two indispensable collaborators: love and the sword.

“Fencing interests me, moreover, simply as an observer. A fencing-school
is a theatre at which as many amusing characters may be seen as on any
stage. First of all there is a class of fencers who do not fence and
never will. Then there are the men who fence in order to reduce their
bulk; who have been told by their doctor or their wife that they are too
fat, and who, after sweating like oxen, blowing like seals, steaming
like boiled puddings, for a couple of hours, tell you in the calmest
manner that they have been fencing.

“Then there are the fencing-masters, or professors of fencing, as they
prefer to be called. They are generally gay, good-natured, well-meaning
fellows, devoted body and soul to their pupils, especially to those
pupils who have done them the honour to kill someone in mortal combat.
Their weak point is said to be veracity; not on all occasions, but
whenever they have the foil in hand. “I have never,” says M. Legouvé,
“met a single fencer who would not--say once every year--deny that he
had been touched when the hit was palpable. It is so easy to say ‘I did
not feel it,’ and a hit not recognised does not count. Ah, if we
dramatists could only annul hisses by saying: ‘I did not hear them!’

“My first professor,” continues M. Legouvé, “was an old master known as
Père Dularviez. He had a daughter of whom he was exceedingly proud. She
was employed in a milliner’s shop, which caused her father some
uneasiness as to her possible conduct. There was nothing to justify his
uneasiness, but he was uneasy. At last, unable to rest, he wrapped
himself up in a cloak and took up his position at the corner of the Rue
Traversière, close to the Rue Saint-Honoré, where his daughter worked.
‘You may imagine,’ he said to us, ‘how my heart beat when I saw her
appear. I approached her, and averting my face, whispered in her ear a
graceful little compliment which I had invented for the occasion. O joy!
she turned round and administered to me with all her might a box on the
ear. I guarded myself _en tierce_ and said: ‘My child, you are truly
virtuous.’

“Fencing has, moreover, its utilitarian value. It teaches you to judge
men. With the foil in hand no dissimulation is possible. After five
minutes of foil-play the false varnish of mundane hypocrisy falls and
trickles away with the perspiration: instead of the polished man of the
world, with yellow gloves and conventional phrases, you have before you
the actual man, a calculator or a blunderer, weak or firm, wily or
ingenuous, sincere or treacherous.... One day I derived a great
advantage. I was crossing foils with a large broker in brandies, rums,
and champagnes. Before the passage of arms he had offered me his
services in regard to a supply of liquors, and I had almost accepted....
The fencing at an end, I went to the proprietor and said: ‘I shall buy
no champagne of that man.’ ‘Why not?’ ‘His wine must be adulterated--he
denies every hit.’

“Apply my principle, and you will find it profitable. Some of you are
already married. One day you will have daughters to marry. Well, if a
suitor presents himself, do not waste time in collecting particulars
which are too often false. Say simply to your future son-in-law: ‘Will
you have a turn with the foils?’ At the end of a quarter of an hour you
will know more about his character than after six weeks of
investigations.

“Finally, I like fencing because you cannot learn it. It does, indeed,
demand practice, and long practice; but that is not sufficient, it must
be your vocation: you must be born a fencer, just as you must be born an
artist. And then, when the apprenticeship has been served, what pleasure
is enjoyed! I doubt whether there is in external life a single act in
which a man feels himself to live more fully than in a vigorous assault.

“Look at the fencer in action. Each member, each muscle is stretched,
and each for a different purpose. Whilst the hand glances rapidly and
lightly, always tending forwards, the body holds itself back, and the
legs, vigorously contracted like a spring, await, for their extension,
the signal to be given by the arm as it prepares to make its sudden
thrust. The whole of the members are like so many obedient soldiers to
whom the general says: ‘March’--‘Halt’--‘Double.’ The general is the
head, that head which, at once inspired and calculating as though on a
real field of battle, detects at a glance the faults of the enemy, lays
traps for him and compels him to fall into them, simulates a retreat in
order to give him confidence, and returns suddenly upon him with a
frightful assault....

“And to think that this art, complex as it is, in which the whole of the
body is engaged, should really be concentrated between the end of the
forefinger and the thumb. For there it all is: there resides the
delicate and masterly faculty which alone constitutes the superior
fencer--tact. Is it not wonderful to see how much sensibility and life
flows between these two digits? They tremble, they palpitate beneath the
pressure of the foil in contact with their own, as if an electric
current communicated to them all its movements. For them the aid of
sight is not necessary, for they do more than see the hostile sword;
they feel it, they could follow it with their eyes bandaged; and if you
add to these magnificent delights of the sense of touch the powerful
circulation of the blood which runs in great waves through the veins,
the beating heart, the boiling head, the throbbing arteries, the heaving
breast, the opening pores; if you join, moreover, to this the delight of
feeling your power and your suppleness increase tenfold; if you think,
above all, of the ardent joy and bitter grief of self-love, of the
pleasure of beating and the vexation of being beaten, and of the
thousand vicissitudes of a struggle which terminates and begins again at
each fresh thrust--you will understand that there is in the exercise of
this art a veritable intoxication, of which the passion for gambling can
alone give an idea. It is play without vice and with health superadded.”

M. Legouvé, who, besides being an admirable writer, possesses no
superficial knowledge of fencing, next proceeds to a few detailed
observations on the art of the foil and its professors. We can hardly do
better than preserve his own words. “Fencing,” he says, “has undergone
during the last half-century the same revolution as poetry, music, and
painting. It has had its romantic period and its contending schools.

“The distinguishing characteristics of the old school were rigidity,
grace, and a certain academic elegance. The words themselves express the
thing. To practise fencing was to ‘go to the Academy.’ A fencer of the
old school could not run to the attack, nor suddenly break off. He
neither bent down nor sprang forward, but under all circumstances
maintained, more or less, the same attitude. Fencing was in those days,
above all things, an art; which, like every art, had the beautiful for
aim.

“Very different was the system of the new school. To make hits was its
one object. The means were of no importance, provided the result could
be obtained. Fencing was now more a combat than an art; its programme
included everything, even the ugly. Fencers would now lie on the ground,
would avoid a thrust by ducking their head, aim below the belt, and
reduce all the qualities of the fencer to one only: rapidity.

“Gomard and Charlemagne were the two last representatives of the old
school: Roussel and Lozes the two first of the new one. I have had the
honour, in my youth, of fencing with all four; and I do not hesitate to
say that, in my opinion, while fully recognising the incomparable
quickness of Lozes, the superiority rested altogether with the
representatives of the old school. Fencing ran the risk not of being
renewed, like poetry, in another form, but of being lost altogether, at
least as an art. Then came forward a young man who combined in himself
the opposite qualities of the two schools. Every lover of fencing will
understand that I am referring to Bertrand. As rapid as Lozes and as
regular as Gomard, he borrowed from romanticism its audacity, its
inspiration, its occasional rashness, and preserved at the same time the
elegance of bearing, the severity of attitude, the caution and the
science of the classical school. He may fairly be said, in company with
Cordelois and Pons the elder, to have saved the art of fencing. He is an
exceptional fencer among exceptional fencers. If I may be allowed to use
the expression, there is genius in his art. The fencing-masters who came
next were the products, somewhat mixed, of the three schools; the four
professors who figure in the first rank being MM. Robert the elder,
Gâtechair, Mimiague, and Pons the younger. Robert has a quickness of
hand, an accuracy of attitude, and a rapidity of reply which recalls
Bertrand. Gâtechair is the most academic of the masters of the present
day. There is, however, something a little theatrical in his elegance
and in his imposing carriage.

“Mimiague is supple, insinuating, adroit, sure to profit by every
opportunity. There is a sort of cajolery in his play. If you ask who is
the best of these four professors, I shall recommend you to apply the
test of Themistocles. Bring together the principal fencing-masters of
Paris, and ask them to write on a slip of paper the names of the two
best fencers in Paris. Each of them will give the first vote to himself;
but Robert will have all the second votes: from which I conclude that he
deserves the first.”



CHAPTER XXXVIII.

PETTY TRADES.

Petty Trades--Their Origins--The Day-Banker--The Guardian Angel--The
Old-Clothesman--The Claque--Its First Beginning and Development.


The police of Paris are very strict in suppressing those trades
bordering upon mendicancy, which in London are somewhat freely allowed.
Many of the former hawkers of inexpensive trifles have been permanently
swept away from the streets of Paris.

The Galileo of the Place Vendôme, however, is still permitted to carry
on his business. As soon as the gas is alight, this personage, somewhat
fantastically dressed, levels his telescope, after having traced in
chalk on the pavement a picture of the moon, with its mountains,
ravines, and so forth. In consideration of a slight recognition, varying
from 25 to 50 centimes, he shows his clients all the astronomical
phenomena, including some which have escaped the notice of the
Observatory.

“Nearly all the petty industries not classed in the Dictionary of
Commerce are,” says a French writer, “the product of an imagination
over-excited by the gnawings of the stomach. The first person who picked
up, on the highway, a cigar-end, and then another and another, and who,
after chopping them all up, sold the results as smoking-tobacco, did not
deliberately adopt this profession in the same way that a person becomes
an administrator or a lawyer. It was the necessity of eating that
launched him into this career. Presently he held this argument, based
upon statistics:--Every day in Paris at least three hundred thousand
cigars are smoked. There must, therefore, be somewhere, and particularly
beneath the outdoor tables of the boulevard cafés, three hundred
thousand fag-ends. Thus the horizon opens to him. He perceives a
magnificent commercial enterprise and takes partners. A new kind of
manufacturer has now come into being: a manufacturer of unlicensed
tobacco.”

Apparently the commodity sells well; and in the retort of a pipe the
eclectic composition is as agreeable to the taste as the privileged
product of the imperial factories. Some of the contraband dealers in
cigar-ends have made a small fortune.

It was simply chance which created the “day-banker” or “banquier à la
journée.” Thirty or forty years ago an individual named Poildeloup,
living in the quarter of the markets, lent five francs one day to a
woman dealing in old clothes, on condition that she should return him
the same evening five francs ten centimes. She kept her word, and again
borrowed from him. Then other tradeswomen, also out of funds, applied to
Poildeloup, who at once saw what a profit he might derive from this
daily lending organised on a big scale. The two sous brought to him each
evening in excess of the five francs lent in the morning looked less
than nothing at first sight; but in fifty days the banker doubled his
capital, and in a few years had amassed wealth. Later on, rival banks
were established, which reduced the interest by half, charging only five
centimes a day on a hundred sous borrowed in the morning and returned at
night. These day-banks, content with half the interest charged by the
inventor of the business, still do an excellent trade.

One of the most interesting of the small professions is that of the
“guardian angel.” This ethereal personage conducts drunkards home to
their dwellings. Attached to every large Paris tavern is a guardian
angel, whose duty it is to escort any late-staying customer whose legs
decline their office, and who needs a guide. He must not quit the person
entrusted to his charge until the latter is out of the reach of thieves
and safely installed in his own house. The chief quality requisite in
this angel is sobriety.

We were speaking just now of the man who collects cigar-ends. Another
curious picker-up of unconsidered trifles is the man who is always on
the look-out for crusts of bread. A crust of bread is found in all sorts
of places: in the street, at the corners of lanes and alleys, on heaps
of rubbish. Do not imagine that this man, on the hunt for hard, dirty,
disgusting pieces of bread, has fallen so low as to be obliged to live
on the fruits of his discoveries. He is the sort of person who believes
firmly that nothing in this world is lost, and that one morsel of dry
bread, added to another, may be the beginning of a sack of fragments
which he will be able to sell for some twenty sous to breeders of
rabbits. The rabbit, beloved by the frequenters of barrier-taverns, does
not feed on grain and cabbage alone. It also eats a good quantity of
bread. It is in order to procure it this article of diet that the trade
of crust-collector was invented.

Of the ragpicker mention has been made elsewhere. He is essentially
eclectic in his tastes: rags, paper, gloves, glass, broken toys, the
necks of bottles, nothing comes amiss to him. He puts into the basket he
carries on his shoulder whatever he can find. It is the _trieur_ or
sorter whom the classification of the different objects concerns.

[Illustration: OLD-CLOTHES DEALER.]

Another petty trade which should not be forgotten is that of the
old-clothesman, who is seen everywhere early in the morning uttering his
piercing and well-known cry. He is above all to be met with in the
districts where young men abound: in the environs, that is to say, of
the School of Law and of the School of Medicine. The old-clothesman is
of all the gutter-merchants the most cunning and the most merciless. He
wanders around the abodes of the students, knowing well the time when
they will probably find it necessary to ease themselves of a portion of
their wardrobe. It is, above all, when the Carnival is going on that he
does good business. The allowance from home being insufficient for the
cost of the masked ball, with its concomitant expenses, he realises
money by the sale, now of a light overcoat, now of some other summer
garment which can be dispensed with in the depths of winter. If the
old-clothesman is waiting for the student, the student is on the
look-out for the old-clothesman. The latter enters and the bargaining is
at once begun. Whatever the dealer may offer, it is sure, after some
haggling as if for form’s sake, to be accepted. Having made his
purchase, the old-clothesman hastens with the clothes he has bought for
a mere nothing from an improvident student in order to sell them at a
moderate rate to a provident one. A story is told of two students, of
about the same height and figure, who after a time found that their
clothes passed from one to the other, the middleman in the shape of the
old-clothesman taking on each transaction his own particular profit. It
struck them that the middleman might as well be suppressed; and from
that time forward Jules, when he was hard up, sold his clothes to
Anatole, while Anatole, when he in his turn fell into an impecunious
position, sold them back again to Jules.

[Illustration: LE DÉBARCADÈRE DES BATEAUX-OMNIBUS: VENDORS OF
REFRESHMENTS.]

In the Temple, which gives its name to one of the lower boulevards,
there was formerly a market for all kinds of antiquities, including old
clothes; while buying and selling of a like character was carried on
until a later period in the Marché des Patriarches. Here, even now, the
lovers of the economical may provide themselves with shoes at a franc,
and boots at three francs and a half.

There are other petty trades at Paris, such as that of the bird-catcher
and the pigeon-fancier.

Nor must the sellers of violets at one sou the bunch be forgotten;
though they are not to be confounded with the bouquetière in a far more
fashionable walk of life. The dealers in groundsel, too, have a trade of
their own.

       *       *       *       *       *

There are many institutions, professions, and classes which, after being
originated on the left bank, have crossed the water to flourish on the
right. Among these must be included the _claque_; though, from whatever
quarter it may have sprung, there is now no theatrical district in Paris
where it does not thrive.

It originated at the Comédie Française, when that institution had its
abode at the theatre now known as the Odéon, where, among other
masterpieces, Beaumarchais’s _Marriage of Figaro_ was produced in 1784.
Mercier pointed out, about this time, that the masterpiece in question
had no need of organised applause. This preconcerted clapping of hands,
varied by the stamping of feet and by walking-sticks, had a very bad
effect on the taste and temper of the public, and even, at times, on the
fortune of a piece. “They clap when the actor appears on the stage; they
clap for the author at the end of the play; they clap for the composer,
and make more noise than all the instruments of Gluck’s orchestra, which
can no longer be heard. This perpetual noise, this artificial
excitement, degrades the public taste. An author who was constantly
hissed was once advised to construct a machine which would imitate the
sound of three or four hundred persons clapping their hands, and to
place it in a corner of the theatre under the guidance of some
intelligent and devoted friend.”

Another writer on the same subject, M. Prudhomme, tells us in his
“Historical and Critical Mirror of Old and New Paris” (1807) that he had
once been acquainted with a man who had no means of living but by
assisting at first representations. Placed in the middle of the pit, he
called attention to the beauties of the piece and led the applause. The
name of “Monsieur Claque” had been given to him, and he had hands as
hard as the piece of wood with which washerwomen beat their linen. His
terms were thirty-six francs if the piece succeeded, and twelve francs
if it failed.

The claque, however, did not acquire its greatest importance until the
time of the Restoration. At an earlier period Dorat, a popular
drawing-room poet, or writer of _vers de société_, was in the habit of
sending persons to the theatre with a free-admission on the
understanding that they were to applaud his piece. By this stratagem he
managed to secure a run of several nights for more than one of his
works; but at each success he might have applied to himself the
exclamation of Pyrrhus after the Battle of Asculum: “One more such
victory and I am ruined.”

Dorat did, indeed, ruin himself at the game he is said to have invented;
but his invention was not lost to posterity. The claque, however, did
not work, in these comparatively primitive days, as an organised body.
There was a certain Chevalier de la Morlière, a retired musketeer, who
undertook the criticism of all new pieces, and offered to dramatic
authors his support or his condemnation. His terms were moderate. A few
dinners, a few louis, lent without any fixed term of repayment, a little
commission on the pit tickets that passed through his hands: that was
all he asked. He had volunteers and paid agents equally at his disposal,
the former acting under his advice, the latter at his command. The
Chevalier de la Morlière placed himself, moreover, at the service of
débutants and débutantes, or rather he imposed his services upon them.
One day he took it into his head to become a dramatic author, arguing
with himself that after ensuring the success of so many works by others
he could do the same for a work of his own. But though he now surpassed
himself in the ingenuity of his manœuvres, the work he produced did
not succeed. Thereupon he lost all credit. The authors and actors
resolved to do without him. His sceptre fell, but only to be taken from
time to time by others. Up to this time the claque, as before said, was
the work of enterprising individuals who organised it on certain
occasions, but not continuously as a permanent institution. Figaro, in
Beaumarchais’s comedy, speaks of the play he had written, and goes on to
say: “I really cannot understand how it was that I did not obtain the
greatest success; for I had filled the pit with excellent workmen, whose
hands were like wood.”

The organisation of the claque, as a permanent institution, dates from
the time of Napoleon I., and seems to have had for its starting-point
the famous rivalry between Mlle. Duchénois and Mlle. Georges. When the
struggle between the two tragic actresses came to an end, the forces
organised in their service declined to be disbanded. They elected their
chiefs, and the leaders treated with managers and authors for regular
support. People were still found who would applaud a favourite actor or
actress from enthusiasm, duly stimulated by a gratuitous ticket. Thus at
one time the whole atelier of David served as claque to an actress much
admired by the painter and his pupils, who without support and
encouragement might have been crushed, it was thought, by the growing
talent and popularity of Mlle. Mars. The claque of David’s atelier was a
formidable one, for the great artist had from sixty to eighty students
attached to him. This was in 1810, a year or two after the publication
of the “Historical and Critical Mirror of Old and New Paris” previously
referred to.

Under the Restoration the claque was a regular institution. The quarrels
of the Romanticists and Classicists lent it a considerable importance.
Impartial in its tastes, it served, turn by turn, and with the same
zeal, the “Antony” of the modern drama and the Greek heroines of ancient
tragedy. Since 1830 its authority has been universally accepted. Several
directors, after trying to dispense with it, have been obliged to
conciliate it and accept its conditions--for when the directors have
driven it from their house, it has always been brought back by the
vanity of the comedians. One alone of the Paris theatres preserved
itself from the claque. This was the now defunct Théâtre Italien; though
people say of this house that if it had not a _claque_ it had a
_clique_.

With the exception of the last-named, all the theatres of Paris have for
years past had organised claques, that of the Opéra being the best
disciplined. The chiefs of the claques give themselves the title of
“undertakers of dramatic successes.” They do not receive a subvention
from the “directors,” but a certain number of places each night, which
they sell for their own benefit. It is not from the tickets, however,
that they derive the bulk of their gains. Some of them make twenty or
thirty thousand francs a year; but they derive this from the vanity of
the actors, who pay them proportionately to the degree of applause
required.

The claque consists of the chief and a number of assistants, generally
poor wretches with a passion for the theatre, some of whom are admitted
free on condition of contributing as much applause as necessary, while
others are admitted simply at a reduced price. The chief attends the
rehearsals, and notes the scenes, passages, or phrases which seem most
effective. Then he revises his notes by watching the effect of the first
performance on the public. After that he knows each precise point at
which to come in with his applause; and if the piece is played for a
year, the laughter and tears occur at the same given moments. He employs
great tact in choosing men, and even women, for his purpose, the fair
sex being the best counterfeiters of convulsive emotion. When,
therefore, a drama is produced at Paris, a number of lady weepers are
distributed amongst the audience, many of them being the devoted wives
of male members of the claque. So soon as the old man of the piece
recovers his unfortunate daughter, and exclaims, “My darling! Saved!”
the lady weepers plunge their faces into their handkerchiefs and sob
like children. The thing becomes contagious. The whole female portion of
the audience are now, perhaps, like Niobe, all tears, and the newspapers
next day declare that the performance was a _succès de larmes_.

Doubtless this charlatanism has its comic side. But it is repulsive at
the same time; for falsehood is the foundation of the system, and, as M.
Eugène Despois says: “It is sad to see men almost exclusively occupied
in lying reciprocally. People say that it is only life, that you must
conform to it, and that it imposes on no one. ‘Who is deceived? Everyone
agrees to the system,’ they argue. That is true. No one is duped; but of
what use is all this comedy? After all, of the two parts, that played by
the _claqueurs_, often with spirit, to dupe the public, and that played
by the public who submit to this impudent mystification and daily
pretend to be duped, the most shameful is that of the public.”

Of recent years the claque has been made the object of some very lively
attacks by writers who understand the dignity of their profession. A
certain number of dramatic authors, Émile Augier and Dumas the younger
amongst others, have frequently endeavoured to dispense with its
mercenary plaudits; but it must be owned that the vanity of a large
proportion of the actors, and in particular of the actresses, has
frustrated the reform. In the meantime, ere the theatre world has
awakened to the dishonourable character of the claque system, the
claqueurs grow fat, and in some cases possess their town and country
residences. It is true that not everyone can be a chief of the claque;
to conquer, or rather to purchase, that important post, a great deal of
money is required. Auguste, formerly chief of the claque at the Opéra,
paid 80,000 francs for his position, but in a few years he had made his
fortune. “More than one well-established dancer paid him a pension,”
says Dr. Véron. “The début of each artist brought him a gratuity
proportionate to the artist’s pretensions. Towards the end of an
engagement and the moment of its renewal more than one singer or actor,
in order to deceive at once the public and the director, goes to the
Auguste of his theatre and offers him a bag of gold to produce such a
paroxysm of applause as shall result in a large increase of salary. Such
are the traps laid for the director; and into these traps, shrewd as he
may be, he sometimes inevitably falls.”

Dr. Véron, an experienced impresario, is far from denouncing the claque,
which, according to him, has a mission. “All who expose themselves to
be judged by the public, need,” he says, “for the animation of their
courage, that fever of joy which applause produces in them.” That was
also the opinion of Talma, who found the public too slow to take the
initiative. “The claque,” says Elleviou, “is as necessary in the centre
of the pit as the chandelier in the centre of a drawing-room.”

The question has often been raised as to whether not only the claque but
even spontaneous applause should not be suppressed. The spectator,
abandoned to the power of the illusion, is displeased to find himself
disturbed by unexpected noise, which, tearing him from Athens or from
Rome, reminds him that he is on the benches of a Paris playhouse.

Several chiefs of claques have become celebrities, or at least
notorieties; with two gentlemen named Santon and Porcher among the
number. One of these “knights of the chandelier,” as they are familiarly
called, has published his reminiscences, entitled, “Memoirs of a
Claqueur, containing the theory and practice of the art of obtaining
success, by Robert (Castel), formerly chief of the Dramatic Insurance
Company, Paris, 1829.”

Different opinions are entertained in theatrical circles as to the
utility of the claque, some contending that it is indispensable, while
others take a higher view, and hold that the work represented and the
actors representing it may advantageously be allowed to stand upon their
own merits. Meanwhile, apart from the claque maintained at all the Paris
theatres by the management, there are often special claques which are
paid by leading members of the company, jealous of one another’s
reputation. This is looked upon by the company generally as unfair, and
the practice is never avowed. Even in London, especially (if not
exclusively) at the opera, a number of energetic men may sometimes be
seen--and, above all, heard--working together with a view to the success
of some particular “artist.” The claqueurs--at least, at the opera--are
usually Italians, from the shops of the Italian wine merchants and
dealers in macaroni, vermicelli, truffles, and olives in the
neighbourhood of Soho. Wagner is known to have been absolutely opposed
not only to the claque but to the most legitimate bursts of applause.
The frame of mind in which to enjoy beautiful music should not, indeed,
be broken in upon by disturbances from the outside. Not only in Germany,
but wherever Wagner is played, the claque is, for the occasion,
dispensed with. Even at the Grand Opéra of Paris there was no claque
when _Lohengrin_ was performed; and it may be that if a representation
is witnessed in absolute silence from the beginning to the end of each
act, the applause is more enthusiastic when at last the moment for
plaudits arrives.

In opposition to what takes place at Wagnerian performances wherever
given, it may be mentioned that at the dramatic theatres of Paris, as at
the lyrical theatres of Italy (when Wagner is not being played), the
leading performers are not only applauded, but walk forward and bow
their acknowledgment of the applause at the end of any effective scene
in which they may have pleased the public, or perhaps only the claque.
This destroys all verisimilitude. The singer is applauded as Violetta or
as Adrienne Lecouvreur, and acknowledges the applause in the character
of Mme. Adelina Patti or of Mme. Sarah Bernhardt.

But whatever may be said against it, the claque is great and, in France
at least, will prevail. Nor can it be denied that in some instances and
on some individuals it imposes opinions which but for its authority
would not be accepted. There is an old fable of a man who, standing in a
market-place, was approached by a man leading a pig. “Do you want to buy
this sheep?” asked the proprietor of the animal. “It is a pig,” was the
reply. “Nothing of the kind; I can assure you your eyes deceive you,”
returned the salesman. At that moment a third person came up, and,
looking at the quadruped, said to its owner, “How much do you want for
that sheep?” The man to whom it had first been offered stared with
surprise, and supposed that the third person was out of his mind; but
when a fourth, fifth, and sixth person had come up and likewise demanded
the price of that “sheep,” he came to the conclusion that his own eyes
must be at fault, and bought the animal as mutton.

The business of the claque is to pass off a theatrical pig as a
theatrical sheep--and it sometimes succeeds.



CHAPTER XXXIX.

OBSOLETE PARIS SHOPS.

The Old Wooden Stalls of Forty Years Ago--The “Lucky Fork”--The
Cobblers’ Shops--The Old Cafés.


The quays on the left bank of the Seine were at one time remarkable for
their shops; and the book-stalls of the Quai Voltaire are still
celebrated. It was on one of the quays of the left bank that the old
curiosity shop stood, so picturesquely described by Balzac, in which the
hero of the “Peau de Chagrin,” who had entered the shop merely to pass
the time until it should be dark enough for him to throw himself from
the Pont Neuf without attracting too much attention, purchased his fatal
talisman.

Thirty or forty years ago Paris contained thousands of antique little
shops or covered stalls, of which now very few specimens remain. They
were painted wooden structures, six feet high by three feet broad,
picturesquely situated at the corners of squares or public monuments, by
the side of churches or city houses, with plank roofs through which a
stove-chimney protruded, and with the street pavement for their floor.

The extermination of these quaint establishments necessarily accompanied
the general improvement of the city; they were an eyesore when the
thoroughfares had become elegant. By degrees the keepers of these huts,
who were once the gaiety and life of the streets, disappeared. They took
refuge for the most part in overcrowded houses which had escaped the
pickaxe of the architectural improver, though this removal was only a
prelude to their final departure. These petty shopkeepers were often
intellectually superior to the proprietors of the finest shops on the
boulevard, for many a scholar who found that the art or science to which
he had sacrificed his life proved ungrateful, would for the sake of his
daily bread set up in one of these street huts as a “public writer,”
there, as set forth in a previous chapter, writing love-letters for
domestic servants or grooms who could not express the sentiments of
their bosom with a pen. Schoolmasters without pupils, students who had
been plucked at their examinations, and professors without chairs,
formed a large proportion of this hut-inhabiting population.

Amongst these primitive establishments were a number of fried-potato
shops, which were besieged by street urchins in quest of the traditional
halfpennyworth of tritters. In the Rue de la Vieille-Estrapade
flourished a shop well known under the sign or title of the “Lucky
Fork.” Here might be beheld an enormous metal cauldron, in which
constantly simmered a dark-coloured broth of somewhat too odoriferous a
character. Floating in this gigantic vessel, tossed hither and thither
by the bubbling of the hot liquid, were pieces of tripe, pork, and other
even less inviting viands, which the customer had to make a stab at with
a sharp fork of huge dimensions. Yet although the aspect of these
establishments was not altogether appetising, cleanliness was by no
means a quality in which they were deficient. For a halfpenny the
consumers had the privilege of a stab with the fork. The patrons of
these shops were numerous and varied: porters, workmen, students,
tinkers, artists. The poet Berthauld, author of the “Fille du Peuple,”
was famed for his skill with the weapon in question; Chartelet the
painter and Fourier the philosopher frequently tried their hand with it,
not to mention other votaries of the arts and sciences who, unknown at
that time, were destined to become celebrated. It used to be a source of
great amusement to watch the customers, whatever their trade or
profession might be, as, with keen gaze, they awaited some unusually big
morsel which was floating towards them, and then suddenly made a thrust
at it like eel-spearers. The piece of meat, incessantly dancing and
revolving as it was, frequently eluded the prongs of the fork, whereupon
cries of irony would escape from the attentive crowd; but when, at the
first stab--for a halfpenny, that is to say--one of the combatants had
secured a bulky morsel, this victor paraded through the ranks of the
spectators, who, as they made way for him, applauded vociferously. Many,
however, of the vanquished went to bed on nothing but water and a crust
of bread.

There were fruit-stalls, where apples, pears, and even peaches, were
sold at prices which have quintupled since then; and huts kept by
knife-grinders, who, at a later period, resumed their daily pilgrimage
through those quarters of Paris where blunt instruments were most
likely to be requiring a cheap edge. There was a bird-shop on the island
of Saint Louis where the feathered stock was confided to the care of two
enormous white cats, besides other like establishments, unprovided with
cats, which were numerous enough in that space which is to-day occupied
by the square of the Louvre. Then there were cobblers who, within their
little pavement cabins, had no bills to deliver, no rent to pay, no
reproaches to bear, no masters whose caprices must be humoured, since
their toil from one hour to another produced immediate payment. The
spirit of independence which was a characteristic of these artists in
leather dated back, indeed, to ancient times. Simon of Athens, the
friend of Socrates and the author of the thirty-three dialogues, in
which a system of philosophy is set forth with great lucidity, received
from Pericles an invitation to quit his shop and go to live with that
magnate. “I would not sell my liberty for all the treasures in Greece,”
was the reply.

The street cobblers of Paris have frequently given heroic instances of
devotion and patriotism. During the massacre of St. Bartholomew they
saved many Protestants from the edge of the sword. Their little shops
were divided into two compartments, of which the upper one, approached
by a small ladder, served as lumber-room for a mass of leather scraps
and old shoes. It was here that more than one of the companions of
Admiral Coligny found safety.

Some time afterwards, defying the terrible edicts of Richelieu, a Paris
cobbler transmitted some vitally important correspondence to the
prisoners in the Bastille, by cleverly sewing the letters between the
soles of shoes. Later on his shop became a sort of literary rendezvous.
Politics were indeed talked there; but it was the latest prose and the
latest verse which chiefly occupied the frequenters. The cobbler was at
that period accustomed to combine with his leathern functions those of
“public-writer.”

French authors and poets have always had a kindness for the cobbler.
François Villon wrote what is considered the best of his odes in honour
of the “Povres Housseurs,” makers, that is to say, of a species of boots
worn in the fifteenth century. It is known that the great Corneille did
not think it beneath his dignity to make an intimate friend of the
cobbler of the Rue d’Argenteuil.

The free atmosphere which surrounded his wooden shop apparently inspired
the artist in leather with a passion for joyous rhymes and a love of
literary works, together with a certain fund of satire which attracted
men of letters towards him.

The most celebrated Paris cobbler of the eighteenth century was Henry
Sellier, whose shop stood in the Rue Quoquereau, to-day the Rue
Coq-Héron. This shop was a vile hut of rotten planks, the roof of which,
a piece of oil-cloth held up by a couple of broom-handles, was riddled
like a sieve. Nevertheless, the proprietor wrote spirited verse, and the
success of his poems was such that Louis XIV. received a copy of them,
together with their author, in his château at Fontainebleau. The
effusions of Sellier, moreover, gained the approbation of Fontenelle,
whose good opinion brought them greatly into fashion, and even excited
the jealousy of contemporary poetasters. One of Sellier’s critics
published a couplet charging him with being assisted by famous
collaborators; to which the cobbler, who, whether poet or not, was
always ready with a repartee, penned in reply another couplet to the
effect that the absence of wit and every other quality from the verses
of his accuser sufficiently proved that _he_, at least, wrote everything
himself.

In 1789 the cobbler’s shop promptly and proudly bore aloft the tricolour
cockade; it became a rendezvous for patriots, and a political cabinet in
which more than one great popular resolution was passed. When the
legislative assembly had declared that the country was “in danger,” all
the young shoemakers hastened to enlist; the paternal artists in leather
offered their children to France. In those battalions of volunteers
which were sometimes disdainfully described as an army of “vagabonds,
tailors and cobblers,” the last-named contingent, a numerous one, fought
heroically enough.

Under the Restoration the hut of the cobbler was a political and secret
rendezvous for the Bonapartists and the Republicans. Much whispering and
much writing went on there; many a song, penned by a literary cobbler,
issued thence in manuscript, to travel rapidly from workshop to workshop
and inflame the political sentiments of partisans. After 1830 the
cobbler openly showed his disapprobation of the citizen royalty. The
interior of his shop was completely papered with political caricatures;
one manuscript satire or cartoon, torn down by the police to-day, was
succeeded by another to-morrow. The police, however, were so vigilant
that the cobbler at length found it advantageous not to meddle too much
with politics, and developed a tendency for frequenting cheap taverns,
in which his songs and conversation procured him a satisfactory measure
of admiration. He did not become a drunkard, but he sought inspiration
in moderate potations. A celebrated advocate had lived for sixteen years
in the Rue Coq-Héron, and just beneath the walls of his mansion a
cobbler had long been accustomed to hammer at the soles of shoes. A
provincial visitor one day asked this cobbler whether he knew the
advocate in question. “No, sir,” was the imperturbable reply. The
advocate overhead was told of it, and, mystified at such an instance of
ignorance, came down to reproach his humble neighbour. “You do not know
me?” he said, “and yet we have lived sixteen years side by side!” “Just
so,” answered the cobbler, without the least embarrassment; “you have
been next door to me for sixteen years, and have not once asked me to
drink with you.”

Among the shops and other establishments that have disappeared from
Paris may be mentioned the ancient “café,” properly so-called, where
coffee was served but smoking forbidden, and the “café estaminet,” where
smoking was permitted. Every café is now a café estaminet; though it is
the latter term, not the former, which has gone out of use. The serving
of beer at cafés was of course an innovation; but the drinking of beer
has become so general in Paris that there are now numbers of so-called
“brasseries” (literally “breweries,” which these places are not), where
beer is the principal if not the only beverage served. In a history of
cafés the introduction of music and the development of the café
concert--the French music-hall--would have to be noted. Of late years,
too, music of a certain kind--especially the music of the Hungarian
gipsies--executed by members of the gipsy race more or less authentic,
has been introduced into restaurants.

[Illustration]

[Illustration: BOOKSTALLS ON THE QUAI VOLTAIRE.]



CHAPTER XL.

THE PARIS PRESS.

French Governments and the Press--The Press under Napoleon--Some Account
of the Leading Paris Papers--The _Figaro_.


Under the ancient Monarchy journalism could scarcely be said to exist in
France, and the censorship exercised over books was so severe that all
political works of a critical character written by Frenchmen had to be
published in Holland or in England. Arthur Young saw in the absence of
newspapers one of the causes of the panic which seized whole classes and
entire neighbourhoods on the outbreak of the Revolution. Absurd rumours
were put into circulation, and there were no journals by which to test
their accuracy; for if the press is sometimes a purveyor of gossip, it
is above all a corrector of false intelligence. A decree of the year
1728, to go back no further, punished by branding, the pillory and the
gallows, those who printed, composed, or distributed “works considered
criminal.” Some years afterwards the parliament of Paris, which at this
time was exposed to many attacks, adopted a declaration which condemned
to hanging anyone who penned or printed writings which tended to assail
religion, to disturb men’s minds, to undermine the authority of the
king, or to trouble the order and tranquillity of his dominions. No
great use was made of this law, for the Bastille sufficed to silence
those who spoke too loudly; but it was always agreeable to know that, if
necessary, objectionable writers could have their pens snatched from
them for ever.

The Revolution overthrew that majestic edifice in which France had so
long slumbered in peace. The Constitution of 1791 set forth that, “the
free communication of thoughts and opinions is one of the most precious
of men’s rights.” It provided that every citizen should be free to
“speak, write, print, without his writings being liable to inspection or
censorship before publication.”

This uncurbed liberty, however, was necessarily of short duration. In
the famous Constitution of 1793, which was never put in force, the
Convention guaranteed to every Frenchman “liberty of the press,” a maxim
which always looks well as a decoration on the frontispiece of the
Constitutional Temple; but the decree of the 29th of March, 1793,
modified this excessive licence by a little article couched in these
terms:--“Anyone who shall have composed or printed writings which aim at
the dissolution of the national representation, and the re-establishment
of royalty or any other power which arrogates the sovereignty of the
people, shall be arraigned before the tribunal extraordinary and
punished with death.” The Convention did not reconstruct the Bastille;
but it sent a number of journalists to the guillotine by way of warning
to their fellows. The warning, however, was lost on Frenchmen, who, with
their natural characteristics, preferred to forfeit their head rather
than their tongue, and died jesting at the executioner.

The Directory followed the example of the Convention. The Constitution
of the year III. declares, in article 353, that “no one can be prevented
from saying, writing, printing, or publishing his thoughts,” but a law
of the 27th Germinal, in year IV., added the following clause: “All
those shall be punished with death who by their speeches, or their
printed writings, whether circulated or placarded, provoke the
dissolution of the National Assembly or that of the Executive Directory
... or the re-establishment of royalty, that of the Constitution of
1793, that of the Constitution of 1791, or of any other government, save
the one established by the Constitution of 1791, accepted by the French
people, etc.” With this important exception the law is clement enough;
nor, indeed, were the authorities anxious to enforce the death clause
where a milder punishment would serve the turn. The Directory, after the
18th Fructidor, instead of shooting ill-behaved journalists, contented
itself with sending out forty-five of them to colonise Sinnamary, at the
same time placing the journals under the supervision of the police, who
could summarily suppress them. The Directory, moreover, acting perhaps
on the principle of equality before the law, imposed a stamp-duty on all
journals, so that Thought, like other commodities, began to contribute
its share to the State by which it was protected.

With the Consulate, France, as regarded press matters, went straight
back to the time of Louis XIV. The first article of a consular decree,
issued January 17th, 1800, disposed of journalism once and, if not for
ever, at least for a considerable time. It sets forth that the minister
of justice shall, so long as the war lasts, allow no more than thirteen
political journals, each of which is specified by name, to be published
at Paris. The fifth article of this decree provided for the instant
suppression of all newspapers inserting articles which might be wanting
in “the respect due to the social compact and the sovereignty of the
people, or to the glory of the French armies,” or which might print
“invectives against the governments and the nations allied to or in
friendly relations with the Republic, even though these articles were
extracted from foreign periodicals.” Nor did Napoleon’s vigilance cease
with this. He despised newspapers, but was afraid of books. Accordingly,
while the censorship was re-established for journals, printing and
publishing offices were made monopolies, and placed under surveillance
as in the best days of the old Monarchy. It was for the master to think,
to will, to act for all his subjects; he wished France and all Europe to
be occupied with him alone. The police took care that there should be
silence around him, and human thought was represented by the voice of
the cannon. On the fall of Napoleon a charter was given to France by the
restored Monarchy, in which the French were declared to possess the
right of publishing and printing their opinions conformably to the laws
intended to repress the abuse of this liberty. But the very first bill
introduced into the new assembly subjected pamphlets to the censorship,
and newspapers to the authorisation of the crown, while printers were
required to take out licences, which would only be continued on good
behaviour.

In 1815, during the Hundred Days, the emperor established the liberty of
the press, and the second Restoration maintained this concession. Only
for a time, however; on the assassination of the Duc de Berry, someone
discovered that “the real dagger which had stabbed the duke” was a
liberal idea; and a law was passed by which a Government authorisation
was required before starting a newspaper. The censorship was at the same
time re-established, while police courts were empowered to suspend and
suppress newspapers on the ground of evil tendencies. Finally, the
notorious “ordonnances” of 1830 suppressed liberty of the press
altogether. This led to the Revolution of July, and the charter accepted
by Louis Philippe on his accession to the throne declared that the
censorship was not only abolished but could never be re-established.
But the newspaper stamp was maintained, and no one could start a journal
without previously depositing a large sum as caution-money, with which
to pay damages in case of libel.

After the Revolution of 1848 liberty of the press was once more
proclaimed, and it seemed as though France might at last accustom itself
to free newspapers, even as Mithridates accustomed himself to poison.
Then, however, in 1851, came the _Coup d’état_, and once more the press
was fettered. A system of “warnings” and of “communiqués” was now
adopted. The communiqué was a notice addressed to the journal by the
Government, which the editor of the journal was obliged to insert. The
warnings were of two kinds--first and second; a first warning,
administered at will by the authorities, had no immediate effect; but
after a second warning, the journal receiving it could be at once
suppressed. “This ingenious system was so much admired that it was
forthwith adopted,” says M. Laboulaye in an article on the subject, “by
the four great states which march at the head of modern civilisation:
Spain, Turkey, Austria and Russia.” It was necessary, moreover, under
the Second Empire to obtain, before publishing a new journal, an
authorisation from the Government. The first newspaper established in
France was the _Gazette de France_, founded by the physician of Louis
XIII. in 1631; the most widely known and the most highly esteemed being
the _Journal des Débats_, founded by the Bertin brothers in 1789, the
great revolutionary year in which also the official organ under all
systems of government, _Le Moniteur Universel_, was started.

Among the contributors to the _Journal des Débats_ may be mentioned:
Michel Chevalier, Saint-Marc Girardin, John Lemoinne, Prévost Paradol,
Renan, and Taine; the dramatic criticisms of the journal were for many
years written by Jules Janin, and the musical criticisms by Berlioz.

The _Constitutionnel_ was founded at the time of the Restoration in
1815. The most celebrated of its editors was Dr. Véron, for some years
manager of the Opera, in which character he produced Meyerbeer’s _Robert
le Diable_. The most famous of the contributors to this journal was
Sainte-Beuve, who for a long succession of years published in it every
Monday one of those literary articles which, in their collected form,
are known throughout the civilised world as “Causeries du Lundi.” Before
contributing the “Causeries” to the _Constitutionnel_ (they were
continued and concluded in the _Moniteur_), Sainte-Beuve had published,
under the title of “Portraits,” a long series of biographical and
critical articles in the _Revue de Paris_, which, after the cessation of
that periodical, he went on with in the _Revue des deux Mondes_. M.
Nestor Roqueplan, who, like Dr. Véron, was for some time manager of the
Opera, contributed dramatic criticisms for many years to the
_Constitutionnel_, and no more brilliant articles of the kind were ever
penned. The musical critic was at this time the notorious P. A.
Fiorentino, who afterwards joined the staff of the _Moniteur_.

_La Presse_ was founded in 1836 by Émile de Girardin, and it must always
be remembered as the first cheap journal started in France, and indeed
in all Europe. Paris has now newspapers at two sous and even one sou;
but in 1836 a journal at three sous, the price at which _La Presse_ was
issued, seemed a marvel; and M. de Girardin’s enemies of the established
journals hinted in no doubtful terms that his journal at three sous
could only exist through the aid of a Government subvention. It has been
related elsewhere how an innuendo to this effect from Armand Carrel led
to a duel in which Carrel, while inflicting a serious wound on M. de
Girardin, was himself shot dead. Many years later than 1836, when _La
Presse_ was started, the invariable price of a London morning newspaper
was fivepence; there was a penny stamp on each number issued, and an
impost of eighteenpence on each advertisement. The cheap press has only
been rendered possible in England by the removal of the newspaper-stamp,
the advertisement-stamp, and finally the duty on paper.

From 1836 to 1856 _La Presse_ was edited by M. de Girardin; his
successor was M. Nefftzer, who afterwards founded that excellent paper
_Le Temps_. _La Presse_ then passed beneath the direction of M.
Guéroult, who left it to found _L’Opinion Nationale_; and afterwards of
M. Peyrat and others. The dramatic, and musical, and artistic feuilleton
of _La Presse_ was originally in the hands of the incomparable Théophile
Gautier, whose collected articles are as remarkable for searching and
subtle criticism as for brilliant description. He was succeeded by Paul
de Saint-Victor, whose contributions were scarcely inferior to those of
his distinguished predecessor. Paul de Saint-Victor is far less
generally known in England than Théophile Gautier. A good idea of his
remarkable talent may be formed from his volume on tragedy and comedy,
“Les deux Masques.”

When in 1852 it was determined to improve as much as possible the
official organ of the newly established Empire, as of previous
Governments in France, a number of the most popular writers were tempted
to the _Moniteur_ by offers of increased pay. Théophile Gautier quitted
the _Presse_ for the official journal, and P. A. Fiorentino, without
quitting the _Constitutionnel_, wrote musical criticisms for it under a
_nom de plume_ which concealed his identity from no one interested in
journalism. This last-named journalist, Italian by nationality, was by
no means an honour to the French press; he was more than suspected of
taking bribes, and when the Society of Men of Letters instituted an
inquiry into his conduct, he attacked the secretary of the society so
violently in the paper called _Le Corsaire_, that a challenge and a duel
ensued. Amédée Achard was run through the body, and Fiorentino passed
some weeks in prison. Achard did not die, nor did Fiorentino lose his
position on the press. The accusation made against him by the Society of
Men of Letters was that he acted at once as musical critic and musical
agent; and it might fairly be presumed that singers on whose salaries he
received a commission were more carefully looked after and more warmly
praised than those who did not employ his services. He is said to have
attempted to justify himself to some of his friends by representing
himself as the “Artists’ advocate”--“L’avocat des artistes;” though his
true function, the one which he was understood by the editor of his
newspaper and by his readers to have undertaken, was that of critic or
judge. To the accusations brought against him by the Society of Men of
Letters he replied, however, by a simple denial; and the object of the
duel he had sought with Amédée Achard was evidently to prevent such
accusations from being brought against him in the future.

Another journal, started under the Empire with imperial support, and
with M. Granier de Cassagnac, father of the well-known writer, deputy
and duellist of the same name, as editor, called _Le Pays_, was well and
daringly written, but found no favour with the public. Neither, as a
matter of fact, did the _Moniteur_, notwithstanding the brilliancy of
the writers attracted to its columns from other journals.

_L’Opinion Nationale_ first appeared in 1859, at the time of the war for
the liberation of Italy. The unity of Italy and the independence of
Poland were for many years its watchwords; and during the Polish
insurrection of 1863, as also during the long agitation that preceded
it, this journal was the recognised organ of oppressed nationalities. By
English readers interested in theatrical matters, _L’Opinion Nationale_
will be remembered as the journal in which M. Sarcey, the well-known
critic, made his literary _début_. M. Sarcey possesses, as a writer,
neither the ingenuity and charm of Jules Janin, nor the dazzling style
of Théophile Gautier, or of Paul de Saint-Victor, nor the delicate
observation of Nestor Roqueplan; but he is inspired, more perhaps than
any other critic, by taste, love, passion for the stage.

_Le Monde_ was started under that name in 1860 as a substitute for
_L’Univers_, which, placing the Pope before the Emperor and preferring
Rome to Paris, had got itself into trouble with the Government. It was
edited for many years by M. Louis Veuillot, most vigorous of
Ultramontane journalists, and author of several remarkable books,
including “Les Odeurs de Paris,” “Les Parfums de Rome,” and a curious
study of feudal rights and privileges, as, according to M. Veuillot,
they really existed in France before the Revolution.

_Le Temps_, one of the best of the Paris papers, after having been
discontinued for some years, was revived in 1861 by M. Nefftzer,
previously editor of _La Presse_. _Le Temps_ soon took rank as what the
French call a serious journal. For many years one of the most
interesting features of _Le Temps_ was the letter on English affairs
contributed from London by M. Louis Blanc. Among the other distinguished
contributors to _Le Temps_ may be mentioned M. Scherer, the literary
critic, and M. Louis Ulbach, chiefly known as a novelist, but who for
many years wrote for this journal its theatrical feuilleton. There are
plenty of papers published in Paris besides those we have mentioned,
some of them in the enjoyment of large circulations, but distinguished
by no marked features, or by none that possess special interest for
English readers. The best-known, however, of all the Paris journals is
the _Figaro_, published originally under the Restoration, and edited for
some time by Nestor Roqueplan. After numerous prosecutions, it ceased to
exist; suppressed practically if not formally by the Government.

[Illustration: EDMOND ABOUT.

(_From the Portrait by Paul Baudry._)]

But in 1854 the _Figaro_ (which, it need scarcely be said, derived its
name from the celebrated barber invented by Beaumarchais) was revived by
Mme. Villemessant, and it played an important part, though by no means a
consistent one, under the Second Empire. This it still continues to do;
and whatever its political views may be, it is the most amusing, the
most interesting, and one may almost say, the most literary journal in
Europe. Among the celebrated writers who have from time to time
contributed to its columns may be mentioned Edmond About, Théodore de
Banville, Henri Rochefort, B. Jouvin, Albert Wolff, and Henri de Pène,
who, for criticising the manners of French subalterns, found himself
exposed to the necessity of fighting all the lieutenants and
sub-lieutenants of the French army, a task from which he was saved by
being almost mortally wounded by the first of his antagonists. The cause
of M. de Pène’s encounter with the junior officers of the French army,
as represented by the clever swordsman who ran him through the lungs,
was an article, written by the contributor to the _Figaro_, on a ball
given at the École Militaire. The youthful officers were, he declared,
too constant and too eager in their attendance at the buffet; and he
added that when one of them had a plate of cakes offered to him by a
waiter, he said he was not sure that he could eat them all, but that he
would accept them nevertheless. The jest was an ancient one, but it
angered the young bloods of the Military School, and their indignation
demanded a victim, who at once offered himself in the person of the
author of the injurious statement.

The case of Henri de Pène and of so many other fighting journalists,
with the redoubtable Henri Rochefort and Paul de Cassagnac among them,
suggests that in France a newspaper-writer should be as much a master of
the sword as of the pen. This does not interfere with the fact that one
of the most gentle and amiable of modern French writers, M. Ernest
Legouvé, possessed the reputation of being the first fencer of his day.



CHAPTER XLI.

FROM THE QUAI VOLTAIRE TO THE PANTHEON.

The Quai Voltaire--Its Changes of Name--Voltaire--His Life in Paris and
Elsewhere--His Remains laid in the Pantheon--Mirabeau--Rousseau--Vincennes.


What a number of names had the Quai Voltaire borne before receiving the
illustrious one by which it has now been known for about a century!
First Quai Malaquais; then Quai du Pont Rouge, when the red bridge had
just been constructed to replace the old ferry opposite the Rue de
Beaune; in 1648 Quai des Théatins, after the religious order of that
name established by Mazarin; finally on the 4th of May, 1791, by
decision of the Commune of Paris, Quai Voltaire. During forty years
Voltaire had almost uninterruptedly been absent from France, when, on
the 10th of February, 1778, he returned, and the mansion he had
purchased in the Rue Richelieu for himself and his niece Denise not
being ready for his reception, accepted the hospitality of the Marquis
de Villette, in whose house, on the quay now known as that of Voltaire,
he died May 30th, 1778. The fact is recorded in an inscription placed on
the façade of the former Hôtel de Villette.

Before conferring upon the quay the name borne by one of the most witty
and most powerful writers that France ever produced, the Commune
received a report and pronounced through one of its members a eulogium
in his honour. Until the time of the Revolution it was the custom in
France, as in other countries at a much later period, to name streets
and other thoroughfares after some aristocratic family. Since the
Revolution, however, it has become usual to substitute, in connection
with the thoroughfares and public places of Paris, the names of national
celebrities and national benefactors. In this latter character Voltaire
will not be universally accepted, though his aim was certainly to do
good; and that he had “done some good,” was, he once declared, the only
epitaph he aspired to. According to an observation attributed to M. de
Tocqueville, Voltaire possessed in greater abundance than anyone else
the wit that everyone possesses; and D. F. Strauss, in the six lectures
on Voltaire which he wrote for and dedicated to the Princess Louise of
Hesse, says much the same thing when he admiringly declares that every
quality of the French mind belonged to Voltaire in a more marked degree
than to any other Frenchman. Goethe seems to have thought still more
highly of him. “Voltaire,” he said, “will always be looked upon as the
greatest man in the literature of modern times, and perhaps even of all
times; as the most astonishing creation of Nature, a creation in which
it has pleased her to collect for once in a single frail organisation
every variety of talent, all the glories of genius, all the powers of
thought.”

[Illustration: THE LATE ALBERT WOLFF, OF THE _FIGARO_.

(_From a Photograph by G. Camus, Paris._)]

Very different, indeed, was the opinion entertained by the great
supporter of absolute monarchy and of the Roman Catholic Church.
“Paris,” wrote Count Joseph de Maistre, “crowned him; Sodom would have
banished him.... How am I to picture to you what he makes me feel? When
I think of what he might have done and what he did, his inimitable
talents inspire me with a sort of holy rage for which there is no name.
Midway between admiration and horror, I sometimes wish to see a statue
erected to him--by the hand of the executioner.”

It must be remembered, however, that in Voltaire’s time there was no
such thing in France as either political or religious liberty, and that
he took the part of the persecuted whenever he had an opportunity of
doing so. “His life,” says M. Arsène Houssaye, “is a comedy in five
acts, in which, through French genius, shines human reason. The first
act takes place in Paris, among distinguished noblemen and popular
actresses; beginning with the entertainments of the Prince de Conti and
ending with the death of Adrienne Lecouvreur, whose hurried secret
burial by torch-light inspired Voltaire with so much indignation. This
was the period of the Bastille and of banishment. The second act takes
place at the castle of Cirey and at the court of King Stanislas; this
second act might be called the love of science and the science of love.
The third act takes place at the court of Frederick II., at Berlin,
Potsdam, and Sans-Souci. The fourth act is that of Ferney, where he
builds a church (with ‘Deo erexit Voltaire’ inscribed over the portal),
gives a dowry to Corneille’s niece, defends the family of the persecuted
Calas, pleads for Admiral Byng, for Montbailly, for La Barre, for all
who are in need of an advocate. The fifth act takes place at Paris, like
the first; but the man who at the beginning of the drama was a prisoner
and a proscript has come back as a conqueror. All Paris rises to salute
him. The Academy believes that Homer, Socrates, and Aristophanes are to
be found again in Voltaire; the Théâtre Français crowns him with
immortal laurels. But the poet has reached the last point of greatness;
Paris smothers in its embraces this ruler of opinions, who with his last
breath proclaims the rights of man.”

Born in 1694, this powerful writer was so weak as a child that it was
not thought safe to baptise him until he was nine months old. His father
was treasurer in the Exchequer Chamber, and he had for godfather the
Abbé de Château-Neuf, one of those sceptical abbés who help to give a
character of its own to the eighteenth century. As a youth he was in the
good graces of Ninon de L’Enclos, the celebrated beauty, who, living to
a prodigious age, is said to have preserved her charms to the last. She
recognised Voltaire’s precocious talents as he, on his side, was
delighted by her personal fascinations. She left him by will 2,000
francs for the purchase of books. The Abbé de Château-Neuf introduced
him meanwhile into the most brilliant society of Paris. This did not
suit the views of his father, who wished his son to enter the
magistracy. He accordingly separated him from the Abbé de Château-Neuf
to attach him as page to the Marquis of the same name, who took the
young Voltaire or Arouet, to call him by his proper name, in his suite
to Holland. Returning to Paris, the youthful Arouet began to write, when
he adopted, for literary purposes, the name of Voltaire, which will be
recognised as an anagram of Arouet l. j. (_le jeune_). According to most
historians the name of Voltaire was borrowed by the youthful Arouet from
an estate belonging to his mother; but there seems to be no authority
for this supposition, and the anagrammatic or quasi-anagrammatic
explanation is probably the true one.

Voltaire had not long exercised his pen when he was thrown into the
Bastille as the author of a satire which he had not written. Here he
sketched out the plan of his “Henriade” and of his “Siècle de Louis
XIV.,” both suggested to him, it is said, by the Marquis de
Château-Neuf. The true author of the satire having been discovered,
Voltaire was set at liberty, and, according to the custom of the time,
received a money indemnity from the Regent, whom he thanked for
providing him with food, while expressing a hope that he would not in
future furnish him with a lodging. Besides making notes for his
historical work and for his epic poem, Voltaire had written in the
Bastille a tragedy on the subject of Œdipus, which in 1718, when the
author had just attained his twenty-fourth year, was produced at the
Théâtre Français with a success which no other tragedy had obtained
since the days of Corneille and Racine.

Voltaire’s literary life in Paris was cut short by a painful incident.
In an animated discussion he had taken the liberty of contradicting the
Chevalier de Rohan, who was cowardly enough to lay a trap for his
antagonist; and getting him to leave the room, subjected him to violent
maltreatment at the hands of his servants. Voltaire challenged the
Chevalier, who, however, not only refused him satisfaction, but had him
shut up in the Bastille for six months and then banished from France.
Taking refuge in England, he studied the language, literature, and
especially the philosophy of the country. After a residence of three
years he was able to make known to his countrymen, through a volume
entitled “Lettres sur les Anglais,” the philosophy of Bolingbroke and of
Locke, the scientific theories of Newton, the poetry of Shakespeare, and
the prose of Addison. It was during his residence in England that he
wrote the tragedies of _Brutus_, _The Death of Cæsar_, _Zaïre_, &c.,
which, however un-Shakespearian, were evidently the outcome of a study
of Shakespeare’s plays. Voltaire’s position in regard to Shakespeare has
been somewhat misunderstood. He did not fully appreciate Shakespeare, he
even undervalued the great dramatist. But he saw that genius was in him;
which is more than can be said of some of our own writers of the
eighteenth century, not excluding Addison, who, in _The Spectator_,
points to “Shakespeare and Lee” for examples of the “false sublime.”

During his stay in England Voltaire mixed freely in literary society,
and made the acquaintance of some of our best writers. Johnson, it will
be remembered, thinking only of his irreligion, would not shake hands
with him; though afterwards, when he heard that Voltaire had praised his
“Rasselas,” he said that there was “some good in the dog, after all.”
When Voltaire was introduced to Congreve, the brilliant dramatist
explained that he wished to be looked upon, not as a writer of comedies,
but as an English gentleman; to which Voltaire replied that if the
latter had been his only character, he should never have taken the
trouble to seek his acquaintance. Voltaire for long enjoyed the credit
of having acquired sufficient knowledge of the English language to be
able to express himself gracefully and correctly in English verse, but
it has been conclusively proved that the productions were corrected and
revised by an English friend.

Returning to Paris, he lived there tranquilly for some time; but on the
death of Adrienne Lecouvreur, to whom he was much attached, and to whose
remains Christian burial had been refused, he wrote some indignant
verses, which, after they had been put in circulation, filled him with
alarm as to the notice that would probably be taken of them by the
authorities. He now escaped to Rouen, where he printed his “History of
Charles X.” and “Philosophical Letters.” The latter work was burned by
the hangman, a fate reserved for more than one of Voltaire’s subsequent
works. His ingenious remark has elsewhere been cited, to the effect that
the public executioner, were he presented with a copy of every book he
had to burn, would soon possess one of the finest libraries in France.
Another production of his, the “Epistle to Urania,” which expressed
theological views of a most unorthodox kind, was soon to get him into
fresh trouble, though by a well-known artifice of those tyrannical days
he disavowed the work. He thought it prudent, all the same, to keep out
of the way for a time, and he now accepted the hospitality offered to
him by Mme. du Châtelet at Cirey. He here gave himself up for a time, in
common with his hostess, to mathematical and scientific studies. He
published one after the other, with astonishing rapidity, “Newtonian
Elements,” “Mahomet,” _Mérope_, “The Discourse on Man,” and other works,
besides going on with his “Century of Louis XIV.” and his essay on
morals.

Voltaire’s reputation was now European; and the Prince Royal of Prussia,
afterwards Frederick the Great, one of his most fervent admirers, wrote
to him begging him to undertake the publication of his “Anti-Machiavel,”
though as Miçkievicz the Polish poet says in reference to this work, it
was Machiavellism itself that Frederick II. both practised and
professed. In the midst of his success, Voltaire, as irritable as he was
kind-hearted, suffered much from the attacks of pamphleteers, whose
favourite accusation was that, writing on many different subjects, he
was not master of one. To these attacks he replied in the most impetuous
style, though he would have done better to preserve the silence of
profound disdain. Voltaire, however, reminds one, in this respect, of
that horseman who, riding through a forest, was so exasperated by the
chirping of myriads of grasshoppers, that he leaped at last from his
saddle, and, drawing his sword, set about the vain task of exterminating
the offensive insects, although nightfall was at hand and they would
shortly have grown silent of their own accord. The pamphleteer and
poetaster, Jean Fréron, was a favourite object of Voltaire’s
detestation; he it was for whom Voltaire took the trouble to make an
adaptation of a quatrain originally belonging to the Greek Anthology.
Here are Voltaire’s lines--

    “Un jour loin du sacré vallon
     Un serpent mordit Jean Fréron:
       Songez ce qui en arriva:
       Ce fut le serpent qui creva.”

It was surety these lines which inspired Goldsmith with the idea of his
“Elegy on a mad dog.”

    “But soon a wonder came to light,
     Which showed the rogues they lied;
       The man recovered of the bite,
       The dog it was that died.”

In 1743, after the successful production of _Mérope_ Voltaire regained
some favour at the court, and obtained, through the patronage of Mme. de
Pompadour, the title of historiographer of France, together with the
post of gentleman of the king’s bed-chamber. At the same time the French
Academy, after having twice rejected him, elected him as a member. His
writings of this period bear the stamp of his somewhat frivolous life;
among them are the operas, _Temple of Glory_, _Samson_, and _Budkah_,
the ballet _Princess of Navarre_, &c. Soon, however, the part of court
poet fatigued him, the more so as the king treated him coldly and Mme.
de Pompadour thought him inferior to Crébillon. His friendship for Mme.
du Châtelet still continued. But after her death he yielded to the
pressing invitations of Frederick the Great (1750) and went to the court
of Berlin, where a brilliant position, the post of chamberlain, and a
considerable money allowance awaited him. The result of the celebrated
intimacy between the philosopher and the king is well known; it lasted
two or three years, but the monarch could not control his domineering
habits nor the great writer the manifestation of his intellectual
superiority. The jealousy of the literary men of France, a quarrel with
Maupertius, whose part was taken by the king, some sharp utterances, and
various other causes precipitated the inevitable rupture. Voltaire left
Prussia in 1753, after undergoing more than one humiliation. The most
important work he published during his stay at Berlin was that “Century
of Louis XIV.” which remains his masterpiece in the historic line.
Having ascertained that the French Government would not be pleased to
see him at Paris, he travelled for several years in Germany, Switzerland
and France, establishing himself finally at Ferney in 1758, where he
built himself a magnificent house, in which he passed the last twenty
years of his life. Here he received flattering letters from the
sovereigns of Europe, and no less flattering visits from some of the
first literary men of the time. Princes and philosophers made
pilgrimages to Ferney, and “Patriarch of Ferney” became Voltaire’s
recognised name. The fact of Switzerland’s being a republic did not, of
course, prevent the Swiss landed proprietors from having serfs, and
Voltaire did his best to procure their personal liberation. This is
doubtless what he would have been glad to do in his own country, had it
been possible in the days before the Revolution to propose an
amelioration that would at once have been looked upon as revolutionary.
“He pleaded,” says one of his biographers, “for the emancipation of the
serfs of the canton of Jura; he endeavoured to remedy a number of
abuses, to reform a number of unjust laws.”

To give an idea of the kind of life led by Voltaire at Ferney, we may
reproduce in abridged form the account published by Moore, who,
travelling in France at the time, extended his journey in order to pay a
visit to Voltaire.

“The most piercing eyes I have ever seen in my life,” says Moore, “are
those of Voltaire, now eighty years of age. One recognises instantly in
his physiognomy genius, penetration, nobility of character.

“In the morning he seems restless and discontented, but this gradually
passes away, and after dinner he is lively and agreeable. But there is
always in his expression a tinge of irony, whether he smiles or frowns.

“When the weather is favourable he goes out in a carriage with his niece
or with some of his guests. Sometimes he takes a walk in his garden, and
if the weather does not allow him to go out he employs his time in
playing chess with Father Adam, or in receiving strangers, or in
dictating or reading his letters. But he passes the greater part of the
day in his study, and whether he is reading or being read to he has
always a pen in his hand to take notes or make observations; an author
writing for his bread could not work more assiduously, nor could a young
poet greedy of renown. He lives in the most hospitable manner, and his
table is excellent; he has always with him two or three persons from
Paris, who stay at his house a month or six weeks; when they go away
they are replaced by others, and there is thus a considerable change of
inmates. The visitors, together with the members of Voltaire’s family
circle, make up a party of twelve or fifteen persons, who dine daily at
his table whether he is present or not; for when he is occupied with the
preparation of some new work he does not dine in company, and contents
himself with appearing for a few minutes before or after dinner.

“The morning is not a favourable time for visiting Voltaire, who cannot
bear any interference with his hours of study; such a thing puts him at
once in a rage. He was often ready, moreover, to pick a quarrel, whether
by reason of the infirmities inseparable from old age, or from some
other cause. He is in any case less genial in the early part of the day
than afterwards.

[Illustration: VOLTAIRE.

(_From the statue by Houdon in the Comédie Française._)]

“Those who are invited to supper see him at his best. He takes an
evident pleasure in conversing with his guests, and makes a point of
being witty and agreeable. When, however, a vivacious remark or a good
jest is made by another person, he is the first to applaud; he is amused
and his gaiety increases. When he is surrounded by his friends, and
animated by the presence of women, he seems to enjoy his life with the
sensibility of a young man. His genius, disengaged from the burdens of
age, shines in the brightest manner, and delicate observations, happy
remarks, fall from his lips.

“His aversion for the clergy makes him often speak about them, to the
scandal of people not sufficiently witty to make their raillery
acceptable.

“He compares the English nation to a barrel of beer, of which the top is
froth, the bottom scum, while the middle part is excellent.

“With his inferiors Voltaire appears in a most favourable light. He is
affable, kind, and generous; he likes to see his tenants and all his
dependents thoroughly prosperous, and he occupies himself with their
individual interests in the spirit of a patriarch. He does his best,
moreover, to maintain around him industrial works and all kinds of
manufactures; through his care and patronage the miserable village of
Ferney, whose inhabitants were previously grovelling in idleness, has
become a prosperous and flourishing town.

“Voltaire had formerly in his house a little theatre at which pieces
were represented by his friends and himself; some important part was
generally assigned to him, but to judge by the accounts given of him he
was not a great actor. The amateur performances at Ferney suggested to a
company of regular players the idea of visiting the place. I have often
attended this theatre, and seen the performances of this company, which
were not first rate. The famous Lekain, who is now at Ferney, comes
there at times for special performances. On these occasions I am chiefly
attracted by the desire of seeing Voltaire, who is always present when
one of his pieces is played, or when, in no matter what piece, Lekain
appears.

“He takes his seat on the stage behind the scenery, but so as to be seen
by the greater part of the audience; and he takes as much interest in
the performance of the piece as if his reputation depended on it. If one
of the actors makes a mistake, he seems grieved and shocked; if on the
other hand the actor plays well, he gives him, by gestures and by word
of mouth, the liveliest marks of approbation. He enters into the spirit
of both situations with all the signs of genuine emotion, and even sheds
tears with the effusiveness of a young girl assisting for the first time
at the performance of a tragedy.”

Voltaire reconstructed at his own expense the church of Ferney, which he
thereupon dedicated to the Supreme Being: “Deo erexit Voltaire.” He had
often, however, sharp disputes with the curé of the parish, who more
than once complained to the bishop. He is said on one occasion to have
gone through the Easter ceremonies at the church of Ferney without
having previously confessed; desiring, he said, to fulfil his duties as
a Christian, an officer of the king’s household, and a village squire.
Encroaching another time on the prerogative of the curé, he appeared in
the pulpit and preached a sermon. Some of these stories, it must be
added, rest on no more authentic basis than hearsay and the well-known
changeableness of Voltaire’s disposition.

In 1778 Voltaire quitted Ferney to visit Paris, where he had not been
seen for twenty years. He was received in triumph: the Academy and the
Théâtre Français sent deputations to meet him, the most illustrious men
by talent or birth, women of the highest rank, waited upon him to
present their homage, and the people generally offered him ovations
whenever he appeared in public. A performance of his tragedy of _Irène_
was given at the Théâtre Français. His bust was crowned with laurels,
and after the representation he was conducted home with acclamations
from an enthusiastic crowd. “You are smothering me in roses!” cried the
old poet, intoxicated with his glory. Such emotions, such fatigue had,
indeed, the worst effect upon his health; he was nearly eighty-four
years of age--the age at which Goethe died--and the excitement was too
much for him. On his death-bed he was surrounded by priests who wished
to obtain from him something in the way of concession if not
retractation, but his only reply to the curé of Saint-Sulpice was, “Let
me die in peace.” A written report from the hand of this ecclesiastic is
said to exist in the archives of his church. Meanwhile that Voltaire did
not die reconciled to the Church is sufficiently proved by the fact that
Christian burial was denied him. His nephew, the Abbé Mignot, had the
corpse hastily carried to his abbey at Cellières, where it remained
until the days of the Revolution--when it was brought back in triumph to
Paris and placed in the Pantheon, the former church of Saint-Geneviève.
On the 30th of May, 1791, the National Assembly decreed that Voltaire
was worthy of the honour which should be paid to great men, and that
his ashes were to be transferred to the Pantheon. This translation was
the occasion of a national celebration, which, under the direction of
David the painter, took place on the 12th of July in the same year.
Joseph Chénier wrote for the festival a poem which Gossec set to music.
The three last lines of the last stanza are worth quoting:--

      Chantez; de la raison célébrez le soutien;
    Ah! de tous les mortels qui ne sont point esclaves
      Voltaire est le concitoyen.[E]

[E] Literal Translation:--Sing; celebrate the upholder of Reason. Ah! of
all men who are not slaves Voltaire is the fellow-citizen.

Mirabeau, who next to Voltaire was declared worthy of the honours of the
Pantheon, was descended from an ancient and powerful family of
Florentine origin. Riquetti, originally Arrigheti, was the name of the
family, that of Mirabeau being derived from an estate which they
acquired when, after being banished from Florence in the thirteenth
century, they settled in Provence. The Mirabeaus were celebrated from
father to son for their energy, independence, and daring. One of their
boasts was that they were all of a piece, “without a joint.” Gabriel
Honoré Riquetti, Comte de Mirabeau, the greatest orator that the
Revolution produced, was the son of the Marquis of Mirabeau, who is
reputed to have introduced the study of political economy into France.
Disfigured at the age of three by the small-pox, he preserved that
remarkable ugliness which produced such a strong impression upon his
contemporaries, together with that leonine countenance in which
intelligence and expression triumphed over superficial hideousness. It
was in allusion to his ugliness as well as to his violent passions and
his indomitable character, that Mirabeau’s father, who never loved him,
said of his son that he was a monster, physically and morally. Placed
under different masters, he learnt with surprising facility ancient and
modern languages. Lagrange taught him mathematics, and he also studied
drawing and music, besides occupying himself with gymnastics. Having
revealed at an early age his impetuous disposition, he was placed by his
father at the École Militaire, as if with a view to his correction. Here
he devoured all the works on the art of war, and at the age of seventeen
came out of the school as officer. At this point begins the romance of
his life. His debts and a love intrigue caused his father to shut him up
in the island of Ré, in virtue of a _lettre de cachet_ obtained for that
purpose. Nor was this the only one that the severe parent procured in
view of his son’s better behaviour. Sent to Corsica with his regiment,
Mirabeau distinguished himself in various ways, among others by writing
a history which his father destroyed because it contained philosophical
ideas which, according to the parent’s view, were unorthodox. The
youthful Mirabeau made a better impression on one of his uncles, who
wrote about him: “Either he will be the cleverest satirist in the
universe, or the greatest European general on land or sea, or minister,
or chancellor, or Pope, or anything else that may please him.”

In 1772 he married at Aix, in Provence, a rich heiress, Émilie de
Mirignane by name, whose dowry he was rapidly spending when the
ever-watchful father came forward and procured against him a legal
interdict, which cut him off from all credit and obliged him to reside
within the limits of a particular town. Here, inspired, no doubt, by the
situation, he composed in hot haste his “Essay on Despotism,” which
deals, however, not merely with the arbitrary exercise of power, but
with such concomitants of political despotism as immoderate taxation and
standing armies. An insult having been offered to one of his sisters,
Mirabeau broke through the rules imposed upon him, and, always at the
suggestion of his father, was captured, this time to be imprisoned in
the castle of If: familiar to the readers of Dumas’s “Monte Cristo.”
Here he paid so much attention to the wife of the steward that it was
found necessary to transfer him to another fortress. His new abode was
close to Pontarlier; and he obtained permission to quit the fortress and
take up his residence in this town. At Pontarlier he made the
acquaintance of Sophie de Ruffey, the young wife of the Marquis de
Monnier, to whom, under the name of “Sophie,” he was a few years
afterwards, as a prisoner in the Bastille, to address the passionate
letters generally known as “Lettres à Sophie.” His relations with
Sophie, whom he induced to leave her husband in order to accompany him
to Holland, brought upon him a criminal action and a tragic sentence. He
was condemned to death, and not being present at the time and place
fixed for his execution, was decapitated in effigy. He had fled with
Sophie to Amsterdam, where, under the name of St. Matthew, he wrote
largely for the booksellers who were accustomed to produce pamphlets and
books which either had been or, as a matter of course, would have been
forbidden in France. Besides original works, Mirabeau supplied the Dutch
booksellers with translations from the English and the German. But the
French Government would not leave him in peace, and in 1777, his
extradition having been applied for, he was arrested at Amsterdam,
carried back to France, and imprisoned at Vincennes. He was allowed to
write freely to his adored Sophie; and freely enough he did write to
her.

[Illustration: THE PONT DU CARROUSEL AND THE LOUVRE, FROM THE QUAI
MALAQUAIS.]

The passionate letters were all copied in the Secretary’s Office; and it
is only from these copies, as printed and published in 1792 by Manuel,
procureur of the Commune of Paris, that the epistles are now known. They
were obviously not written for general reading. Jotted down from day to
day, without thought of anything but the woman he loved and the passion
by which he was inspired, they contain passages which even persons
without prudery (a fault charged by Mirabeau against Sophie’s mother)
might have desired to see omitted; but they are eloquent, impassioned,
and, though affected by the senses, written from the heart. During his
captivity at Vincennes, which lasted forty-two months, Mirabeau composed
a number of works, many of which, as mentioned in the letters to Sophie,
seem to have been lost. He made for Sophie’s own private reading some
edifying translations from the tales of Boccaccio and from the _Basia_
of Johannes Secundus; and he wrote a novel that every one would not care
to read, called “Ma Conversion.” Liberated from prison in December,
1780, he went straight to Pontarlier, where he constituted himself a
prisoner. He wished to obtain a divorce for Sophie from her husband and
for himself from his wife; and it is related that in the former case the
husband was only too happy to pay the expenses of the suit. He also
wrote an eloquent, indignant attack against _lettres de cachet_, which,
not daring to publish it in France, he brought out in Switzerland. From
Switzerland he went to London. After a time he returned to France, and
in 1786, anxious as ever to play an active part in life, got himself
sent by the Government on a secret mission to Prussia; where he was to
study the effect that would probably be produced in Germany by the death
of Frederick the Great, then imminent, the character of the Prussian
prince who was to succeed him, and the possibility, moreover, of raising
in Prussia a loan for France. Such missions, of which the precise object
was never clearly defined, belonged to the system of the ancient régime.
Mirabeau was present at the death of Frederick and at the inauguration
of his successor; when with marvellous confidence he gave the new
sovereign some advice as to the art and method of governing a great
country. Mirabeau, meanwhile, did his work conscientiously as agent of
the French court; addressing to the minister Calonne seventy letters,
which were published in 1789, the year of the Revolution, under the
title of “Secret History of the Court of Berlin, Letters a French
Traveller, from July, 1786, to January, 1787.” The book, full of
satirical portraits and still more satirical observations, caused
considerable scandal; and the parliament lost no time in ordering it to
be burnt by the public executioner.

[Illustration: THE SEINE, BETWEEN THE CITY AND THE QUAI DES AUGUSTINS.]

During his stay at Berlin Mirabeau collected materials for his “Prussian
Monarchy,” published in 1788 (four volumes in quarto or eight volumes in
octavo); a vast composition which at least bore witness to Mirabeau’s
capacity in matters of politics, legislation, administration, and
finance. In his address to the Batavians he set forth all the principles
which were afterwards to serve as basis to the declaration of the rights
of man. His “Observations on the Prison of Bicêtre,” and on the effects
of the severity of punishments, may be looked upon as the complement of
his “Lettres de Cachet.”

Writing in great haste, he astonished the reader by his energy and
intellectual fecundity, in the midst of the constant embarrasments of a
precarious and harassed life. “Mirabeau,” says M. Nisard, “learns as he
writes and writes as he learns. To conceive and to produce are with him
one and the same thing. The convocation of the States General opened to
him a theatre worthy of his genius and of his immense ambition. He
hurried to Provence and presented himself as a candidate before the
Assembly of the Nobility, which, in spite of his persistent demands, put
him aside as being neither owner nor occupier of land in Provence. He
then turned to the people and was promptly elected a representative of
the Tiers État.

His entry into political life was an event of the highest importance.
Two days before the opening of the Assembly he began the publication of
the Journal of the States General. At the first meeting of the Assembly
the master of the ceremonies made known the king’s wish that the three
orders should carry on their debates in three separate chambers. This
involved the departure of the representatives of the Tiers État from
their habitual rendezvous. “Tell your master,” exclaimed Mirabeau, in
words which were to become historical, “that we are hereby the will of
the people, and that nothing can move us but the force of bayonets.”
Meanwhile Mirabeau, who had begun his political life with so much
dignity, was actually ruining his position by his own personal
extravagance. He entered into relations with the court, and before
delivering his speeches submitted them to the king and queen. The king
asked for a list of his debts, which amounted to 200,000 francs, and
included a sum that had been owing seventeen years for his wedding suit.
Besides paying his debts, Louis XVI. promised to furnish his new
auxiliary with a pension of 6,000 francs per month. He placed, moreover,
in the hands of the Count de La Marck, who had acted as intermediary, a
sum of one million, which was to be given to Mirabeau at the end of the
session if, as he had promised to do, he served with fidelity the cause
of the king and queen.

After these facts, it has been gravely asked whether or not Mirabeau
sold himself to the court. Saint-Beuve has answered the question in his
own ingenious way, by saying that Mirabeau, without selling himself,
allowed himself to be paid. The distinction scarcely amounts to a
difference. Mirabeau now wrote frequently to the king and still more
frequently to the queen, till at last nothing would satisfy him but to
have an interview with Marie Antoinette, whose minister he would gladly
have become, the king leaving everything to the queen, the queen
everything to the would-be director of her policy. Before long the
double position held by Mirabeau produced its inevitable effects. To
maintain his influence with the Assembly and with his own constituents
he had to play the part of a tribune, while, to gain his subsidies from
the court, he was bound to show himself a firm supporter of the
monarchy.

Inordinately ambitious, dissipated in the extreme, an aristocrat by
taste and a democrat by conviction, he was perpetually in trouble of the
most exasperating kind. In February, 1791, he was elected to the
presidency of the Assembly, as candidate of the Moderate party, the
Right. His vigorous opposition to the law proposed against the _émigrés_
laid him open to grave suspicions. “Silence, those thirty voices!” he
called out when Barnave, Lameth, and their friends among the orators of
the Left tried to interrupt him. This debate was the last in which the
dramatic side of Mirabeau’s oratorical talent was fully shown. Labours,
excesses of every kind, had at last worn out his robust constitution. It
was said that poison had been administered to him; but he was the author
of his own destruction. The very day after his not-too-creditable
understanding with the court he rushed into expenditure of every sort,
so that one of his best friends could not help saying: “Mirabeau is
badly advised in making such a display of his opulence. He must be
afraid of passing for an honest man.” He knew that he was killing
himself, and though his doctor, Cabanis, begged him to lead a more
moderate life, the advice passed unheeded. He was taken ill on the 27th
of March at Argenteuil, near Paris; which did not prevent him from
participating next day in an important debate. He triumphed, but left
the Assembly exhausted, depressed, and with death written on his face.
On the morrow he was hopelessly ill, and at the end of April he expired.

The news of his death caused universal grief, and it was at once voted
that his remains should be deposited in the former church of St.
Geneviève, known since the Revolution as the Pantheon. Here the ashes of
the greatest writer the Revolution had produced were allowed to repose
until, in the Autumn of 1794, the Republicans of the Left having
meanwhile been enlightened as to the part Mirabeau had played in
connection with the court, they were removed to give place to the dust
of Marat, whom Charlotte Corday had just assassinated. What honest man,
asked someone at the time, could desire his remains to lie by the side
of Mirabeau? The great orator was now worse treated by the republic than
Molière, Voltaire, and Adrienne Lecouvreur had been by the clergy of the
ancient monarchy. His relics were disturbed from what should have been
their last resting-place, and conveyed at night without form or ceremony
to Clamart, the graveyard of those who died at the hands of the
executioner. There is nothing sadder in the modern history of France
than the story of the entries and exits of its reputed great men into
and out of the church or temple now once more known as the Pantheon.

       *       *       *       *       *

A longer period of hospitality than Mirabeau was allowed to enjoy fell
to the lot of Jean Jacques Rousseau, whose remains, disinterred from his
first place of burial in the middle of the Lake of Ermenonville, were
carried to the Pantheon that same autumn which saw the relics of
Mirabeau ejected from the grand national mausoleum. Rousseau was the
third of the great men to whom, in the language of the well-known
inscription, their native land was grateful. “Aux grands hommes: la
patrie reconnaissante.” Rousseau was, no more than Napoleon, a
Frenchman. His family, however, unlike that of Napoleon, is said to have
been of French origin. He was descended from a Protestant bookseller,
who was forced to quit France by the persecutions of the 16th century
and afterwards settled at Geneva.

Rousseau’s birth cost his mother her life. “My mother died when I was
born,” he says in the Confessions, “so that my birth was the first of my
misfortunes.” His father, a watchmaker by trade and a man of some
education, had the greatest affection for his son, but was unable to
forget at what cost he had been brought into the world. Thus Rousseau’s
first impressions were of the saddest kind.

The little boy was brought up by his father’s sister, and many were the
novels or rather romances that he read under her guidance. Soon,
however, he turned to more serious studies, his favourite authors being
now the Greek and Roman historians, and particularly Plutarch. When the
boy was old enough to adopt a trade he was apprenticed to an engraver.
But such was the severity of his master that his sole thought was how to
escape from the tyrant. One evening when he had gone out for a walk in
the neighbourhood of Geneva, he found on his return the city gates
closed. Fearing the anger of the engraver, he resolved not to go back to
him at all. Chance took him to the house of M. de Pontverre, curé of
Confignon, who, finding the boy was a Protestant, resolved to profit by
the opportunity of making a convert. M. de Pontverre, instead of sending
the little Rousseau back to his employer, conveyed him to a Madame de
Varennes, who had herself just been converted to the Catholic religion.
To Madame de Varennes young Rousseau became warmly attached, and he was
in despair when suddenly she went away. The strange idea now occurred to
him, possessing no musical knowledge or next to none, of passing as a
musician. He commenced, in fact, to give lessons in music. From
Lausanne, where he had begun his hazardous tuition, he took flight to
Neufchâteau, where once more he insisted on teaching music.

At last, by giving lessons in music he taught himself, and he had no
trouble in getting a certain number of pupils. After various adventures
he turned up in Paris, where he was engaged as tutor by a young officer,
who soon, however, discovered that the would-be preceptor had a great
deal to learn. Finding that Madame de Varennes was at Chambéry, he
determined to visit her, and, being well received, remained with her
some considerable time. He now gave himself up to studying sentiment,
until after the lapse of a few years Madame de Varennes became tired of
his society, and the young man left Chambéry for Montpellier, where he
proposed to get medical treatment for a fancied polypus of the heart. He
had read, during the latter part of his stay at Chambéry, so many
medical books that he ended by becoming an imaginary invalid. From
Montpellier, where the doctors professed their utter inability to
recognise the polypus complained of, he went to Lyons, where he got an
engagement as tutor in a family. A year afterwards, in 1841, he left
Lyons for Paris, now fired by literary ambition and excited by the news
that constantly reached him of the triumphs of Voltaire. He took with
him to the French capital a new system of musical notes, a five-act
comedy, and fifteen louis d’or. His musical innovations, submitted to
the Academy, were not understood; but perhaps for that reason they made
some noise and facilitated his introduction into many good houses. For
some little time he led a life of elegant leisure, during which he made
the acquaintance of several of the first literary men of the day. But it
was necessary for him to earn his living, and he was glad to accept an
engagement with Madame Dupin, daughter of the famous financier, Samuel,
who wanted a secretary; and soon afterwards Madame de Broglie got him
sent to Venice as secretary to the French Ambassador, Count de
Montaigne. Before long, however, Rousseau had a violent quarrel with his
chief, who seems to have been a man of unbearable disposition.

Returning to Paris, he resolved once more to adopt a literary career. He
wrote articles on musical subjects for the _Encyclopédie_, and made
sketches of operas, ballets, and divertissements, until one day, going
to see his friend Diderot, imprisoned at the time in the castle of
Vincennes, he happened to read as he walked along, in the _Mercure de
France_, an advertisement offering a prize to the author of the best
essay on this subject: “Has the progress of science and art tended to
corrupt or to purify manners?” According to Diderot and his friends, it
was he, the imprisoned philosopher critic, tale writer, and dramatist,
who suggested to Rousseau that, instead of taking the commonplace view
of the matter, he would do well to maintain, as paradoxically as he
pleased, that the development of art and science had exercised not a
healthy but a baneful effect. Rousseau, however, maintained that the
idea of treating the subject from the negative point of view originated
with himself alone. “If ever anything,” he wrote long afterwards,
“resembled a sudden inspiration, it was the movement that at once took
place in my mind on reading the advertisement. Suddenly my intelligence
was dazzled by a thousand lights. Crowds of ideas assailed me with a
force and a confusion which caused me inexpressible trouble; my head was
seized with a giddiness resembling intoxication.” Whoever suggested to
Rousseau the idea of his essay, it was to him that the Academy of Dijon
adjudged the prize. His paradoxes wounded many a writer, many a poet,
many a would-be philosopher. But meanwhile all the literary and
scientific society of Paris had been thrown by Rousseau’s arguments into
a state of commotion.

[Illustration: JEAN JACQUES ROUSSEAU.]

Rousseau, however, instead of profiting by the striking success he had
achieved, resolved in the first place to put in practice the principles
of simplicity and even asceticism which he had expounded in his
treatise. At the time of the essay’s being published he occupied the
lucrative post of cashier to M. de Franceuil, one of the Farmers
General. But he now refused to have anything to do with finance,
preferring to gain his bread by copying music. This resolution did but
increase his reputation and cause his writings to be in greater demand
than ever. Soon afterwards, in 1762, his opera, _The Village Seer_ (_Le
devin du village_), was represented at Fontainebleau with immense
success. The king wished the author of the graceful pastoral to be
presented to him, and a pension awaited him. But he turned his back on
the seductions of fortune and resumed his copying. There were not
wanting detractors, who saw in this fine spirit of independence simply
the pride of Antisthenes visible through the holes in his coat.

In 1753 Rousseau published his “Letters on French Music” and his
“Discourse on the Origin of Inequality.” Then he journeyed to Geneva,
where he returned to Protestantism in order to recover the title of
citizen, which in due time he lost once more, after the publication of
“Emile.” Tired of the world, he now accepted an asylum which was offered
to him by his friend, Madame d’Epinay, in the valley of Montmorency,
where he wrote nearly the whole of his famous “Nouvelle Héloïse.” The
work would doubtless have benefited by the omission of many a rhetorical
phrase; but the passion for nature, the exalted delirium of the heart
and the senses, the storms, the tears which it contained, were things so
new that the whole generation allowed itself to be carried away with the
transports of Rousseau. He had found inspiration for the book, it was
said, in his unfortunate love for Madame d’Houdelot--a love which almost
degenerated into a mental derangement and which commenced his series of
misfortunes. Madame d’Epinay, who was then in relationship with Grimm,
saw with no kindly eye the affection of Jean Jacques for another than
she. Rousseau soon found his position so disagreeable that, breaking
with Madame d’Epinay, he abruptly quitted her house although it was the
depth of winter. Hospitality was offered to him at Montlouis, near
Montmorency, and there he wrote his “Letter to d’Alembert on Stage
Plays,” a pamphlet which caused a considerable stir. Voltaire was then
the king of the theatre; and to attack one was to attack the other.
Voltaire was enraged, and could not keep within bounds. He insulted his
adversary, who, however, did not reply in the same tone. This quarrel,
which ended to the advantage of Rousseau, had the effect of diverting
his mind for a moment; but very soon he became once more a prey to that
morbid melancholy and suspicion which were to accompany him to his
grave, and which rendered the remainder of his life painful to
contemplate. He died in 1788 at Ermenonville, whither he had been
invited on a country visit by M. de Girardin, at a time when old age,
infirmities, and misery had already driven him to distraction.

[Illustration: MADAME D’EPINAY.]

The eccentricities and weakness of his character, however, vanish in
presence of his literary fame. Although his remains are not at
Ermenonville, the place is often visited by strangers interested in
Rousseau’s last days. M. Thiébaut de Berneaud, in his “Voyage à
Ermenonville,” 1826, declares that when, eleven years earlier, in 1815,
“the chief of one of the hostile armies arrived at Plessis-Belleville”
and, examining his topographical map, found himself close to
Ermenonville, he asked whether this was not the place where Jean Jacques
Rousseau had breathed his last, and receiving an affirmative reply,
declared that as long as there were Prussians in France Ermenonville
should be exempt from war contributions. The unnamed warrior marched,
says M. Thiébaut de Berneaud, towards the last abode of the sentimental
philosopher, and, uncovering himself as he drew near, ordered his troops
to treat Ermenonville, its inhabitants, and all that belonged to it,
with respect--a command which was religiously observed.

Rousseau was one of the few distinguished men of letters in France who
cared for country life, and he must be allowed to share with Bernardin
de St. Pierre the credit of having introduced not only sentiment but
landscape into the French novel. He could not have lived permanently in
Paris, though he was a resident in the capital when he declared that if
the officers of the crown insisted on his paying exorbitant taxes, he
would go on to the boulevards, sit under a tree, and die of hunger.
Even at that time he took constant rambles in the Bois de Vincennes,
through which he had to pass to visit his friend Diderot, confined in
the château.

Apart from the fine foliage and the exhilarating air which serve to
attract visitors to Vincennes, the place is celebrated for its fortress,
which neither centuries nor revolutions have swept away. The dungeon,
which is now the only remnant of the citadel commenced by Philippe de
Valois, and completed by Charles the Wise on the ruins of the castle to
which Philippe Augustus used to resort in view of the pleasures of the
chase, was formerly encircled by eight towers, grouped around its walls
like vassals around their lord. These, however, have been demolished by
revolutions and by time.

To-day the redoubtable citadel in which so many kings have sojourned is
a military establishment, which includes an artillery arsenal, barracks,
hospitals, a cannon foundry, a factory of arms, a château, a church, and
a great number of store-rooms. Its precincts are immense. Other
fortresses are hidden in the immediate vicinity, and guard the
approaches. Artillerymen incessantly go and come between the fortress
and the village and the village and the practice-ground.

Penetrating the sombre vault which leads from the door of entrance to
the interior court, the visitor finds before him the ancient royal
residence, whose façade preserves something of the majesty of antiquity.
To the left stands the chapel built by Charles V. in imitation of the
Sainte-Chapelle of Paris, and which he dedicated to the Trinity and the
Virgin, the fencing-room, and the tower of the reservoir; to the right
the formidable dungeon rears its head towards heaven.

In the space enclosed by these various constructions are stacked up, in
faultless order, parallelograms of cannons and pyramids of bullets. Long
rows of howitzers, their mouths directed skywards, are to be seen side
by side with masses of enormous bombs. In the large neighbouring
buildings are halls which contain, suspended from the walls, hooked up
round the pillars, and symmetrically arranged in corners, a prodigious
stock of guns, bayonets, and sabres. Everything shines and glitters:
there is not a particle of dust anywhere. An army could here find
sufficient weapons to invade a country. The church is close at hand. It
recalls a peaceful and merciful divinity in a place consecrated to war.
Prayers are uttered at a spot where men are incessantly trying to find
how to kill the greatest number of their fellows in the shortest
possible space of time.

The Gothic church, with its fine exterior masonry, is void of all
ornamentation within. It gives one the impression of having been sacked
at some stage in its history. In a lateral chapel there is a monument
raised to the memory of the Duc d’Enghien.

What the Parisians, however, come particularly to see, what they love,
what they visit with the greatest eagerness, is the dungeon. This old
monument in stone is to them an object of worship. They envelop it with
a fond curiosity, and, despite the horror they feel at the terrible
scenes it has witnessed during so many centuries, they will not see it
disappear without regret. In their imagination it is a legendary,
monument, and, in all probability, if the Bastille had not been torn up
from the soil by the Great Revolution, that prison-fortress would now
have been preserved with the utmost care for the gratification of public
curiosity.

No one finding himself at Vincennes after a country stroll fails to
ascend to the summit of the dungeon. The visitor pants a little,
perhaps, on reaching the platform which crowns it, but he is recompensed
for his fatigue by the immense panorama which opens around him. There
below, in that transparent vapour which the sun’s rays never more than
half penetrate, those myriads of roofs, those monstrous domes, those
belfries, that stubble of chimneys whence clouds of smoke are escaping,
that distant and ceaseless din which reminds one of the waves breaking
on some shore, proclaim the gayest city in the world. At the foot of the
edifice the forest stretches away, and behind the screen of trees lies a
limitless country, in which cultivated fields extend to the horizon.
Everywhere orchards, hamlets, villages meet the eye. The Seine is not
far off, and at no great distance, like a band of silver, the Marne
meanders capriciously through an immense plain studded with clumps of
trees.

On one side a view is obtained of Montreuil, famed for its peaches; on
the other, by the river bank, a congregation of villas and cottages in
picturesque disorder shows the site of Port-Creuil, where Frederic
Soulié sought literary repose. At a little distance lies Saint-Maur,
where verdure-loving Parisian business-men like to spend Sunday with
their families. Some of them, indeed, reside there permanently; and year
by year bricks and mortar may be seen to encroach further and further
upon the surrounding country. Hard by is Saint-Mandé, where Armand
Carrel died of the wound received in his duel with Emile de Girardin.
His tomb is in the cemetery, where stands a statue in his honour.

If the gaze is now turned sharply towards Paris, it encounters, beyond
Alfort and its schools, Charenton, celebrated for that mansion of which
Sébastien Leblanc conceived the first idea in 1741, and, at the
confluence of the Seine and the Marne, the château of Conflans, so long
the residence of the Archbishop of Paris. In that immense space which
lies beneath the eye there is scarcely a stone or a tree which does not
recall some memory. All those roads, all those footpaths, have been
trodden by men who were destined to leave a deep mark on the history of
France. There is not a corner in this sylvan expanse where some civil or
religious combat has not taken place. The Normans, the English, even the
Cossacks have made incursions here. There is, according to the
expression of one French writer, not a tuft of grass which has not been
stained with human blood. Through the villages in sight princes and
kings have passed. Torch-lit cortèges, conducting prisoners to the
dungeon and to death, have alternated with triumphal processions,
escorting sovereigns to their capital to the flourish of trumpets. On
that hill yonder Charles VII. raised a castle--the Castle of
Beauty--which preserves the memory of Agnes Sorel. In another part of
the wood, near Créteil, a little house was once the residence of Odette,
who consoled Charles VI. Saint-Mandé once possessed a little park in
which Louis XIV., before he was the Louis XIV. of Versailles and of
Madame de Maintenon, felt the beat of his own heart; for it was there
that he met the fascinating de la Vallière. Under the shade of those old
oaks many other beautiful phantoms may by the imaginative mind be seen
gracefully gliding: Gabrielle d’Estrées, for instance, Marguerite de
Valois, Madame de Longueville, and Madame de Pompadour.

The wood of Vincennes is to-day, of course, very different from what it
was at the period when Philip Augustus, enamoured of the chase, had it
surrounded by solid walls, in order to preserve the fallow deer and
roebucks which he had imported from England. But if it has lost a great
deal of its ancient character, together with some of its noblest old
trees, it has gained in lakes, lawns, and avenues, where the laborious
population of Paris love to lounge or stroll in a clear and recreative
air.

Once arrived in the Bois de Boulogne, the visitor has not to travel far
in order to see the Marne, that most capricious of French rivers. There
is scarcely a Parisian who has not taken an exploring stroll along the
banks of this stream, which conducts the oarsman to the very point
whence he started. Artists and dreamers in search of leafy shade, of
trees overhanging a limpid stream, of mills beating the clear water with
their black wheels, know the Marne well. On summer days many a peal of
laughter may be heard to proceed from behind some shrubbery. Tourists
come to the place in quest of breakfast: they are not in want of
appetite, and they have for companions youth and gaiety. Frocks which
the wearers are not afraid of rumpling alternate with woollen blouses:
the visitors row and sing, seeking, later on, some rustic restaurant
where, beneath a green arbour, they can enjoy a bottle of white wine and
a snack of fish, with an omelette, or some other light accessory.

On hot Sundays, beneath a cloudless sky, numberless picnics are held in
the Bois de Vincennes--a thing unfashionable in the Bois de Boulogne,
where visitors would consider it beneath their dignity to eat from a
cloth spread on the green turf. At Vincennes excursionists do not stand
on ceremony, and if the weather is sultry men may be seen lounging in
their shirt sleeves, and taking, in other respects, an ease which the
inhabitants of the Boulevards, who resort to the Bois de Boulogne, would
contemplate with horror. If the families, however, who divert themselves
at Vincennes do not rent a box at the opera, their unpretentious music
probably affords them a pleasure none the less. It is a distinctly
popular place to which they resort. You do not see there on Sunday new
toilettes which evoke cries of astonishment: unpublished dresses dare
not show themselves there, eccentric fashions do not bewilder the
spectator’s eye. People walk about there without pretension, usually on
foot, in family groups, arriving by omnibus or rail.

Sometimes, however, at the time of the races you see those coaches and
calèches which four high-spirited horses draw at a gallop. Beautiful
ladies and fine gentlemen are hastening to share in the pleasures of the
course. This is the hour of lace and silk.

The Bois de Boulogne is associated with steeple-chasing, instead of the
flat-racing of the Bois de Vincennes. The public, says the
before-mentioned writer, “who are not conversant with the science of
the turf, and scarcely wish to be so, better understand the courage and
skill which the jockeys must display when they find themselves in
presence of a stream or hurdle. Curiosity and emotion are both excited
in connection with these exhibitions. People go as near as they can to
the obstacle and measure its height or width with their eye. Some take
up their stand at a fixed barrier; others wait at a bridge which
precedes a ditch. The horses having started, a universal gaze follows
them. Will they get over or not? All the spectators hold their breath,
their hearts beating rapidly. Meanwhile the jockeys are dressed in
purple, gold, and silver: they arrive like so many flying sparks. Their
horses clear the obstacles. Hurrah! they are on the flat again. But if
by accident both horse and rider get rolled on the grass, it must be
confessed that the pleasure of the curious is, in this event, no less.”

Vincennes is celebrated for its charitable as well as its military
establishments. Its Benevolent Institution, or “Bureau de Bienfaisance,”
and its Orphan Home are both admirably organised. The fortress itself
may, moreover, be regarded as in some measure an asylum. Its garrison
includes a good number of aged, wounded and crippled soldiers; and it
was commanded in the time of the first Napoleon by a daring old
pensioner who had lost one of his legs on some former battle-field, and,
in virtue of his wooden stump, was familiarly known as “Jambe de Bois.”
Called upon to capitulate in 1814, he threatened to blow up the fortress
unless the allied forces at once retired. They did so, and he ultimately
capitulated on his own terms.



CHAPTER XLII.

THE PALAIS MAZARIN AND THE RUE MAZARINE.

The Institute or Palais Mazarin--The Rue Mazarine--L’Illustre
Théâtre--Molière--The Théâtre Français--The Odéon--Heine--The Faubourg
Saint-Germain--Historical Associations.


During the middle ages the Palace of the Institute was one of the
landmarks and limits of Paris. The rest of the left bank belonged to the
agglomeration formed around the abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, and
which was called, during the different periods of its successive
developments, the _bourg_, or borough, the town, and the faubourg of
Saint-Germain.

Of the Institute as a central body, with the five academies composing
it, sufficient mention has already, perhaps, been made. Some words,
however, may be added on the subject of the building--the “Palace” in
which the Institute is lodged. Close to the Institute, which owes its
chief renown to the most important of its component academies, the
Académie Française, representing literature, is the Mint, or Hôtel des
Monnaies, with whose products literature is too often but slightly
connected. Nor can we leave the immediate neighbourhood of the Institute
without speaking of the famous Tour de Nesle, which figures so
dramatically in a well-known play written by Alexandre Dumas and
Frédéric Gaillardet. One wing of the Institute occupies the very site of
the old tower, which was situated on a tongue of earth projecting into
the Seine. It stood seventy-five feet high, with a diameter of ten feet;
and the crenelated platform at the summit was reached by a winding
staircase. According to the legend, as turned to literary account by
Roger de Beauvoir in a novel, and by Alexandre Dumas and his
collaborator (who claimed to have done all, or nearly all the work in
the before-mentioned play), Marguerite de Bourgogne, wife of Louis X.,
and her two sisters, or sisters-in-law, were accused and convicted of
unbecoming conduct in the Tower of Nesle; when two of their accomplices,
Philippe and Gaultier d’Aunay, were skinned alive, while Marguerite
herself was strangled by order of her royal husband, the lives of the
two other princesses being spared. According to the ancient tradition,
the queen and her sisters used to receive their lovers in the apartments
of the tower, and then, to prevent any compromising revelations, throw
them from the window into the Seine.

[Illustration: A NIGHT REFUGE IN THE VAUGIRARD QUARTER.]

Resting upon the tower was the Petit Nesle, given as a place of abode,
in 1540, by Francis I. to Benvenuto Cellini. The king’s right to dispose
of the house was questioned, indirectly, it is true, but in a very
substantial manner, by the Provost of Paris, who, after giving the
Florentine artist notice to quit, tried to turn him out by force; when
Cellini, with his companions, apprentices, and servants, defended the
place against the besiegers. It was in the Petit Nesle that this
admirable sculptor executed, among masterpieces, his colossal statue
of Jupiter in silver. In his Memoirs Benvenuto tells a story which
paints, in glaring colours, the disorderly character of the time. He was
returning to the Petit Nesle--his Château of Nesle, as he calls
it--carrying beneath his cloak, in a basket, 1,000 crowns in ancient
gold, which the royal treasurer had just delivered to him by order of
Francis I., when he was attacked by thieves before the Augustins--a
“very dangerous place.” He then tells how he kept his assailants at a
respectful distance by sweeping blows from his sword, and then ran away
in all haste to his château, where he called to the garrison, which
rushed out fully armed, thus enabling him to re-enter safe and sound the
Petit Nesle, where he and his friends had a lively supper. This simple
anecdote shows what a cut-throat place Paris was under the reign of
Francis I., in the year 1540.

[Illustration: CARDINAL MAZARIN.

(_From a Portrait in the Gallery of Versailles._)]

Tour de Nesle and Petit Nesle have both disappeared, and on their site
stands (as already mentioned) the Palace of the Institute, originally
known as the Palais Mazarin. Cardinal Mazarin, having been unable to
carry out personally the project he had formed of establishing a college
for the benefit of sixty young noblemen, or young men of the citizen
class belonging to the lands newly conquered by the Crown of France,
ordered by his will, on the 6th of March, 1661, that, should the king be
so pleased, a college should be founded for sixty sons of gentlemen or
of citizens belonging to the various territories--German, Flemish, and
Provençal--lately annexed to France. Hence the name given to it of
“College of the Four Nations”; the fourth nation being, of course,
France. In like manner there were formerly “four nations” in the
University of Paris. Mazarin had already drawn up the statute for the
college, and he bequeathed to it the whole of his library, with an
income of 45,000 francs secured on town property, the revenue of the
Abbey of Saint-Michel, and two millions of livres (francs) in silver.
The cardinal’s executors began by purchasing the Petit Nesle, the
ditches and ramparts of the Rue des Fossés, which now became the Rue
Mazarine; and a piece of land comprised between the Rue Mazarine, the
Rue de Seine, and the Quay. The college was then erected and the library
duly placed; and until the time of the Revolution the Institute, as it
was in time to be called, formed an important centre for men devoted to
the study of literature, science, or art.

At the time of the Revolution the college, being of suspicious origin,
was confiscated, while, on the other hand, the library was enlarged by
50,000 volumes, themselves the result of confiscation.

In suppressing the Institute the Revolution did not spare any one of its
five academies--not even the French academy, which, though it
represented the literature of the country, had a taint of aristocracy
about it. As soon, however, as France was delivered from the atrocities
of the Revolution, the National Convention, in its last sitting but one,
on the 25th October, 1795, reconstituted the Institute under the form of
a society of 144 members, divided into three classes: (1) positive
sciences, (2) political sciences, and (3) literature and art. The First
Consul reorganised the society as four classes: (1) science, (2)
literature, (3) ancient literature, (4) fine arts. Under this form the
Restoration found nothing to change but the name; and the four classes
of the Imperial Institute became once more “academies.” The fifth, that
of moral and political sciences, created by the Convention, was
re-established in 1832 on the proposition of M. Guizot, Minister of
Public Instruction. Independently of their internal economy and their
proprietorial rights, the five academies are bound together through the
chief secretarial department, the library, and various collections
belonging to the five academies in common. The unity of the academies is
affirmed, moreover, every year through a formal sitting, of which the
presidency falls in turn to each of the five academical presidents. “It
is a commonplace,” says M. Auguste Vitu, in his work on Paris, “to run
down academies. The five ancient, like the five modern academies, have
rendered, all the same, the greatest services to science, and cast a
brilliant light on literature and art. This is generally admitted in
connection with the Academy of Sciences and the Academy of Inscriptions.
There is no foreign scientific man, however illustrious, who does not
welcome the honour of becoming its associate or correspondent. The
Academy of Sciences has taken part in every scientific advance; and to
the Academy of Inscriptions, with its adventurous explorers, is due the
immense development of Punic, Egyptian, Assyrian, and Persian studies.
It can be said to have created the science of epigraphy, that
resurrection of history from stones. But the utility of the Academy of
Fine Arts has been questioned often enough, and the French Academy is
the recognised object not only of everyone’s ambition, but also, and
above all, of everyone’s ridicule and satire; especially--if not
exclusively--on the part of men of letters.... Whoever be elected to the
French Academy, the election is sure to meet with much literary
disapproval. The scientific men are accused of ignoring literature, and
the dukes of being unable to spell. If, on the other hand, the Academy
chooses a dramatist, a novelist, a journalist, or a critic, journalism
is sure to ask why so-and-so was elected--my associate, my friend,
perhaps--and not myself. These condemnations have weakened neither the
authority nor the glory of the French Academy; they have, perhaps, even
preserved it, by diminishing in its secret councils the influence of
coteries. The idea of Cardinal Richelieu in creating it was to maintain
the unity of the French language, and consequently of France, while
giving to talent equal distinction with rank, birth, and official
service.”

To pass once more from the Institute to the Faubourg Saint-Germain, this
important social and historical district is bounded on the east by the
ancient ditch or moat of Paris, now represented by the Rue Mazarine
(formerly Rue de Nesle), the Rue de l’Ancienne Comédie, and the Rue
Monsieur le Prince.

The Rue Mazarine--one of the most interesting streets on the left hank
of the Seine, and, indeed, in all Paris--occupies an important place in
connection with the French stage. On the present site of Nos. 12 and 14,
Rue Mazarine corresponds at the back with No. 13, Rue de Seine. Here
Arnold Mestayer, citizen of Paris and captain of the hundred musketeers
of the town, under Henry IV., had built a house and tennis-court, and
here, on the 12th of September, 1643, a few days after the death of King
Louis XIII., a company of young men of honourable birth, brought
together by friendship and a passionate love of the dramatic art, rented
from the heirs of Arnold Mestayer the house and the court attached to
it.

There, too, was opened, in the last days of the year, a new theatre for
tragedy and comedy, in opposition to the royal players of the Hôtel de
Bourgogne, and under the title of L’illustre Théâtre. Among the members
of this remarkable company may be mentioned the two Béjards, Madeleine
and Geneviève, and Jean Baptiste Poquelin, who had not yet taken the
surname of Molière. The tennis-court still existed in 1818; and it was
not pulled down until about 1830, when space was wanted for the
enlargement of the street. The old house where Molière and; his
companions used to live is still in existence, numbered 10 in the Rue
Mazarine and 11 in the Rue de Seine, by the side of a haberdasher’s
shop, to the sign of The Tennis Court. A commemorative tablet marks the
spot where once stood the Illustre Théâtre--a name it was one day really
to deserve, from the fact that one of the least important members of its
company, considered as an actor, was soon afterwards to show himself the
greatest dramatist that France had produced. Another tablet in the same
street--No. 42--marks the ground once occupied by another tennis-court,
which, in 1669, was let to the Abbé Perrin and several associates, with
Cambert, the composer, among them, who had obtained from the king the
right or privilege of establishing at Paris an operatic theatre. The
opening performance took place on the 19th of May, 1671. A lyric drama,
called _Pomone_, written by Perrin, and set to music by Cambert, was
produced. Cardinal Mazarin had introduced Italian opera into Paris in
1645, and the first French opera, entitled, _Akbar, King of Mogul_,
words and music by the Abbé Mailly, was brought out the year following
in the episcopal palace of Carpentras, under the direction of Cardinal
Bichi, Urban VIII.’s legate in France. The second French opera was _La
Pastorale en Musique_, words by Perrin, music by Cambert, which was
privately represented at Issy; and the _Pomone_, given at Paris in 1671,
was only the third work of the kind. _Pomone_ was followed at the new
Lyric Theatre by a so-called “tragedy-ballet,” which is remarkable as
having been the joint product of Molière and Corneille, the two greatest
dramatists of France. It may here be mentioned that a privilege for an
academy of music had been ceded a hundred years before by Charles IX. to
Antoine de Baif, the word academy being used as an equivalent for
_accademia_, the Italian for concert. Perrin’s licence seems to have
been a renewal, as to form, of de Baif’s; and thus originated the
eminently absurd title which the chief operatic theatre of Paris has
since retained.

After a time Molière’s company was, by order of the king, combined with
two others--the company of the Hôtel de Bourgogne and that of the
Marais; and this reduction of the three companies into one constituted
the Comédie Française, which has now had a glorious existence of two
centuries. Before settling down finally into its present abode at the
Palais Royal end of the Rue Richelieu, the Comédie Française, or Théâtre
Français--for the two names equally belong to it--had a varied history,
and wandered about Paris from quarter to quarter and from street to
street. Its first abodes seem to have been far less solidly constructed
than our ancient national theatres of Drury Lane or Covent Garden; and
in 1770 the famous company, finding itself in a building so dilapidated
that its fall was daily imminent, the king granted it hospitality in one
of the wings of the Tuileries Palace. He at the same time took steps to
provide for it a permanent home; and with that view bought for 3,000,000
livres (francs) the ground occupied by the Hôtel de Condé, where a new
theatre was to be constructed. Here the Théâtre Français gave its
performances throughout the first phases of the Revolution, until, on
the 3rd of September, 1793, after the performance of a play founded on
Richardson’s _Pamela_, the Committee of Public Safety closed the house
and arrested alike the author of the piece and the actors who had
performed in it. The new playhouse was reopened under the successive
titles of Theatre of Equality and Theatre of the People, with a portion
of the company--which had been saved by the death of Robespierre.
Classical names were now in fashion, and the theatre, on being reopened
in 1797, was called, in memory of Athens, the Odéon. Its performances,
however, were not successful, and after a wretched existence of a few
months it closed in 1799. When it seemed to have taken a new lease of
life it was destroyed by fire, the origin of which was never explained.
Reconstructed in 1807, it was opened under the title of Théâtre de
l’Impératrice, and was looked upon as a supplementary house to the
Théâtre Français, with the right of playing comedy, but not tragedy. By
way of compensation, it was permitted to give representations of
opera-bouffe. The Odéon had once more been officially designated the
second Théâtre Français, when a new fire destroyed it on the 20th of
February, 1818. Louis XVIII. ordered the immediate reconstruction of the
house, and, on its completion, put the second Théâtre Français on the
same footing as the first, placing at its free disposal all the works of
the classical repertory.

Since this time the Odéon has, in a literary and dramatic sense,
undergone all kinds of metamorphoses. It became first a lyrical theatre,
with such pieces as _Robin des Bois_--corresponding, no doubt, to our
Robin of the Wood, or Robin Hood; this name having been given to a
strange adaptation by Castil-Blaze, with interpolations by the adapter,
of Weber’s _Der Freischütz_; and under Louis Philippe the Odéon was the
headquarters of Italian opera.

At present the Odéon is definitely classed as the second Théâtre
Français, in which character it pays no rent and enjoys an annual
subvention of 100,000 francs. No theatre during the last seventy years
has rendered greater services to dramatic art. Here have been
represented pieces by Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Alfred de Musset,
Alfred de Vigny, Balzac, George Sand, Émile Augier, Octave Feuillet,
Méry, Léon Gozlan, Theodore Barrière, Édmond Gondinet, Hippolyte Lucas,
Michel Carré, Frédéric Soulié, François Ponsard, François Coppée,
Alphonse Daudet, and a hundred others. The house, moreover, has formed a
great number of superior artists, who were, one after the other, claimed
by the Comédie Française. Of the many admirable pieces produced at the
Odéon, full and interesting accounts may be found in the collected
feuilletons of Jules Janin and of Théophile Gautier.

Nothing, however, more brilliant has been written on the artistic and
literary period represented by the dramatic triumphs of the Odéon than
the letters from Paris written from time to time between the years 1832
and 1848 by Heinrich Heine.

Heine is known to the English public chiefly through the French versions
of his works; which, as they have been produced by the author himself,
convey his thoughts quite as accurately, and his style almost as
accurately, as the German originals. His “Pictures of Travel”
(“Reisebilder”), a volume of poems, two volumes on Germany which have,
of course, taken the place of the now defunct work of Mme. de Stael,
some dramas or plans for dramas, which were published in the _Revue des
deux Mondes_, the “Livre de Lazare,” which appeared in the same
periodical, and “Lutèce,” are perhaps the most important of those of
Heine’s writings which have been reproduced in French. The “Buch der
Lieder,” too, has been done into French prose by Heine himself, with the
aid of his friend Gerard de Nerval, who in his youth, under the name of
Gerard, made a translation of “Faust” which satisfied, or at least
pleased, even Goethe himself. These Lieder, together with the
“Reisebilder,” were Heine’s favourite productions; and independently of
the life that is in them, many of them are further assured of continued
popularity by reason of Schubert’s having coupled them with some of his
most beautiful music.

Heine was a poet and satirist by nature. Endowed with great analytical
power, and educated in Germany, he of course took a pleasure in studying
the operations of the human mind; but he was not a philosopher by
temperament, which is sufficiently proved by the fact that he not only
refrained from attaching himself to any particular system of philosophy
in a country where he had so many to select from, but that he did not
even take the trouble to invent a system for himself. He comprehended
philosophy, liked painting, loved music, and spoke of all science and
art in the spirit of a poet. He explained Victor Cousin and Pierre
Leroux, grew pathetic over the fate of Léopold Robert, and became
enthusiastic in his admirable descriptions of the performances of Ernst
and Paganini, of Grisi and Mario.

Heine’s poetry is principally remarkable for its fantastic character and
for its warmth of colour; accordingly, there are certain points of
resemblance between the German poet and Théophile Gautier, only there is
soul in the verse of Heine, whereas in that of Gautier we find nothing
but a glorification of the senses and an absolute worship of form.
Goethe, in his later years, is imagined by the enraptured Gautier
sitting, passionless, on a marble throne, looking upon the whole of
creation as the development of a superior form of art. Indeed, according
to the Gautier school, life and death are nothing compared with the
interests of art. Art is great, and life is unimportant; paganism is to
be revered on account of its marble temples; poverty is to be admired
for its beggar-boys by Murillo; the Millennium is objectionable because
it will produce no subjects for dramatic literature. Heine, on the
contrary, who, in addition to the skill of the artist, possessed the
heart of a man, was willing to sacrifice all art and all poetry--his
own, to begin with--if, in any scheme for alleviating the sufferings of
the poorer classes, such a sacrifice should appear inevitable. This
feeling is shown generally throughout his writings. “Unless,” he says,
“I deny the premise, that all men have the right to eat, I am forced to
admit it in all its consequences.... Let justice be done.... Let the old
system be broken up, in which innocence has perished, in which egotism
has prospered, in which man has been trafficked in by man.... And
blessed be the grocer who will one day make my poetry into paper bags,
and fill them with coffee and snuff for the poor good old women who, in
our present world of injustice, have perhaps had to deprive themselves
of all such comforts.”

To know the Paris of half a century ago it is only, indeed, necessary to
study the “Lutèce” of Heinrich Heine, in which the Paris of the best
part of Louis Philippe’s reign is portrayed in the most life-like, the
most brilliant style. The sketches, the anecdotes, the criticism--all
full of the Heinean verve and irony--form the best portion of the book,
which is deficient, perhaps, in the description (if we except personal
description) on which Heine, without adequate reason, was inclined to
pride himself. His poems, his travels, and his miniature dramas are
crowded with fantastic thoughts, which are of course presented in
fantastic forms; but he will always be remembered by his ideas rather
than by his images; and when he states, in his “Reisebilder,” that,
owing to the prodigality of German writers in the matter of thoughts, he
finds it more profitable to cultivate the production of pictures, one
would think, were it not for the very title of the work, that he was
indulging in irony at the expense of his readers.

[Illustration: ENTRANCE TO THE HÔTEL DE CHATEAUBRIAND, IN THE FAUBOURG
ST. GERMAIN.]

As a satirist Heine is first of all remarkable for his irony, which is
always masterly and which sometimes reaches the diabolical. He admits
that even in his most amiable moments the “caresses of his Teutonic paws
sometimes inflicted a wound”; and if he scratches like a cat in play, it
is certain that he tears in earnest like a tiger. He seizes his victim
by the neck, and either skins him with his delicate observation or
scalps him with his unerring sarcasm. On great occasions he resorts to
deliberate analysis, or rather anatomy; when, after a very few pages,
the patient finds himself lying dissected at the end of a chapter, with
the merciless satirist grinning at his remains.

In the last chapter of the Reisebilder, speaking of the misfortunes of
the German emigrants, Heine gives an anecdote of an artist who, on being
requested to paint a golden angel on a signboard, replied that he would
rather paint a red lion; that he was accustomed to them, and that even
if he painted a golden angel it would look like a red lion all the same.
“The words of this painter,” said Heine, “reply beforehand to the
objections which may be made to my book.... It was not any vain caprice
which made me quit all that was dear to me, all that charmed me and
smiled upon me in my native land. There more than one being loved me--my
mother, for instance. And yet I left it without knowing why--I left it
because I was obliged to do so. It is only in the winter that we become
fully penetrated with the beauties of the spring; the love of liberty is
a flower which grows in prison; and in the same way the love of the
German fatherland commences at the German frontier--above all, at sight
of German misery on a foreign soil.... I have now before me the letter
of a friend who is dead, and in which the following passage occurs: ‘I
never was aware that I loved my country so much. I was in the position
of a man who had never been taught by physiology the value of his blood.
The blood is taken from him, and the man falls. That was indeed the
case. Germany is ours, and that is why I felt suddenly broken down and
ill at the sight of those emigrants, of those great rivers of blood
which flow from the wounds of our country and lose themselves in the
deserts of Africa.’ ... The golden colours of the angel have since that
time entirely dried up on my palette, and all that remains upon it in a
liquid state is a raw red colour, which looks like blood, and with which
nothing but red lions can be painted. Accordingly, my next book will be
purely and simply a red lion; for which I beg the kind public to pardon
me by reason of the confession now made.”

Heine, during his prolonged stay in Paris, where he was adopted and
became naturalised, saw all the new operas and most of the new pictures;
attended the meetings of the Institute; abused the polka, then just
invented; discussed the Eastern Question, and tried to decide whether it
was more probable that England and Russia would declare war against
France, or that France and Russia would declare war against England;
calculated Philippe’s chances of remaining on the throne, considered the
rival merits of Thiers and Guizot, and generally criticised everyone and
everything with which he was brought in contact. He was on friendly
terms with George Sand, Meyerbeer, Rothschild, Balzac, Victor Cousin,
Spontini, and Alfred de Musset; and he has given elaborate portraits of
some of these celebrities, while he has written something characteristic
of each. If he was at any time personally acquainted with Victor Hugo,
all intimacy between the two must certainly have ceased after Heine’s
murderous attack upon the great French poet:--“As all the French writers
possess taste, the total absence of this quality in Victor Hugo struck
his compatriots as a sign of originality and genius. He is essentially
cold, as is the devil, according to the assertions of witches--cold and
icy even in his most passionate effusions; his enthusiasm is only a
phantasmagoria, a piece of calculation devoid of love; for he loves
nothing but himself--he is an egoist, or, worse still, a Hugoist. In
spite of his imagination and his wit, he has the awkwardness of a
parvenu or a savage.” In another place we are told that Hugo’s studied
passion and artificial warmth suggest “fried ice”--an edible antithesis
prepared by the Chinese, which consists of little balls of ice dipped
into a particular kind of batter, and forthwith fried and swallowed.

Rothschild is said to be the best possible political thermometer; and he
is praised for the genial if slightly patronising manner in which he
_famillionairement_ addresses his friends. “Indeed, it might be
affirmed,” says Heine, still full of the thermometrical idea, “that he
possesses the talent of the frog for indicating fair and foul weather,
were it not that this comparison might be considered somewhat
disrespectful; and certainly he is a man who must be respected, if only
on account of the respect he inspires in the greater number of those who
approach him. I love to visit him at his bank, where I have the
opportunity of observing men of all classes and all religions. Gentiles
as well as Jews bow, incline, and prostrate themselves before him. They
turn, and stoop, and bend their backs nearly double, in a manner which
the most talented acrobat might envy. I have seen some persons tremble
on approaching him as if they had touched a voltaic battery. Even when
standing outside the door many of them are seized with a quivering
veneration, such as Moses felt on Mount Horeb.... His private room is,
indeed, a most remarkable place, and awakes sublime thoughts and
feelings--like the aspect of the ocean, of the starry heavens, of
mountains or of boundless forests. It teaches me the littleness of man
and the greatness of God. For money is the god of our age, and
Rothschild is his prophet.”

       *       *       *       *       *

As the Louvre is associated with the monarchy and Notre Dame with the
Episcopacy, so the Faubourg St. Germain is associated with the ancient
French nobility. It is interesting to know that St. Germain, the holy
man to whom the nobiliary quarter (there are “aristocratic” quarters
elsewhere in Paris) owes its name, was himself of noble birth. Little is
recorded of him except that he performed miracles, which the inhabitants
of the district bearing his name have failed to do, and that, like the
ancient nobility of France at the period of the Revolution, he visited
England and stayed there some time. The church of St. Germain des Prés
was one of the principal landmarks on the left bank of the Seine in the
latter part of the seventeenth century, when the Institute and the
church just named formed two important centres on the left bank of the
Seine. The Faubourg St. Germain, or simply “the Faubourg,” as its
exclusive inhabitants love to call it, was scarcely known, however, by
any such name until the time of the Revolution or even later, when it
emigrated in a mass to England, or in some cases to Russia. The German
courts, too, offered for a time a favourite place of retirement until
Germany was invaded by the Republican armies of France.

“The emigration” is usually attributed to the excesses of the
Revolutionists, especially during the Reign of Terror; but as a matter
of fact it began in 1789, the first examples being given by members of
the royal family. The emigration of the French nobility may indeed be
said not to have been caused by the Reign of Terror, but in a measure to
have produced it. This now seems to be supported in a certain measure by
dates. After the 14th of July the Count of Artois, the Condés, the
Contis, the Polignacs, the Broglies, the Vaudreuils, the Lambescs, and
others, hurried abroad in order to band together the enemies of France,
and to prepare the invasion of the country. While the Count of Artois
was intriguing on all sides, Condé, installed at Worms, surrounded
himself with a body of fatuous noblemen, the nucleus of his future army,
adopted a rebellious attitude, replied with contempt to the invitations
of the National Assembly, and organised plots in the eastern provinces.
In 1792 the king himself would have emigrated and thrown himself into
the arms of foreigners, in the hope that they would subdue France and
restore the ancient régime. He was, as everyone knows, arrested at
Varennes. But his brother, the Count of Provence, succeeded in quitting
France, and at Brussels prepared the celebrated declaration of Pilnitz.
At the same time a crowd of nobles left France to furnish recruits to
the Prince de Condé. Coblenz was full to overflowing with emigrants,
whose manœuvres were in no way affected by the fact that the king had
himself accepted the constitution. The army of the emigrating princes
was being openly organised. It was to be composed of three army corps:
one commanded by Condé, which was to operate in Alsace; another
commanded by the princes of the blood, who were to enter France through
Lorraine, in company with the Prussians, and march upon Paris; and a
third commanded by the Prince de Bourbon, which was to act in the
provinces of the north. Later on special regiments of émigrés were
formed, to which the names of Rohan, Damas, Salm, “Loyal Emigrants,”
etc., were given. The Viscount de Mirabeau, brother to the orator,
formed a legion of his own, whose soldiers wore a black uniform adorned
with death’s-heads, and whose disorderly conduct is said to have been
such that the corps was not allowed to form part of the Austrian army,
to which it had originally been attached.

Thus, long before the war, there were masses of emigrants who adopted
from their foreign posts of observation a menacing attitude towards
France. Many noble families left France simply from fear; but most of
the émigrés, when they had once reached foreign lands, did not scruple
to take part in hostile enterprises against France. Invitations to
return were addressed to the emigrants by various assemblies; without
the least probability, it must be admitted, of their being accepted.
Then laws were passed by which the property of the absentees was
confiscated, and they themselves threatened with death should they
reappear in France without due authorisation. As a matter of fact, the
émigrés fought against France, in concert with the invading troops, for
the most part as volunteers, though some are said to have received pay
from the foreign foe. They had boasted of their ability and readiness
to conquer revolutionary France with postillions’ whips, and they had
fixed beforehand the day and hour of their entry into Paris. Driven back
by the Republican armies, they were mad with humiliation and rage. The
King of Prussia abruptly dismissed those who had entered his service,
and gradually, as new victories were gained by the Republic, they found
themselves expelled from Brussels, Florence, Turin, Berlin, Switzerland,
and other asylums, retreating almost exclusively to England. When nearly
all their legions had been dissolved, a certain number of them remained
in the pay of foreign sovereigns. But many stayed without any resource.
A strange sight was then seen: the whole order of nobility, and the most
brilliant nobility in Europe, some thirty thousand persons, including
the members of the priesthood, fallen to the condition of beggars or
hangers-on. Sad expiation for the treason of those who had borne arms
against their native land.

[Illustration: THE BRIDGE, PLACE, AND BOULEVARD ST. MICHEL.]

In the first days of the emigration the French nobility continued to
lead a life of luxury and pleasure. When their last resources had been
exhausted, they had to hold out their hands for such alms as the
coalition would give them. The name of émigré became a synonym for “poor
devil” and parasite. A few of the most fortunate of the refugees had
preserved private resources, but the great majority were in a sad
condition of poverty. Beaumarchais has described the misery of those who
had sought asylum at Hamburg, where he helped them to the best of his
power, though he himself was suffering from straitened means. It was no
uncommon sight to see Knights of St. Louis, gentlemen who had ridden in
the king’s carriages, asking for alms at the corner of the streets.
Chateaubriand has drawn a striking picture of his own poverty and that
of his companions at this trying time. “I was devoured by hunger,” he
writes; “sucked pieces of linen which I had steeped in water; chewed
grass and paper. When I passed before a baker’s shop I felt the greatest
torture. On a cold winter’s evening I stood two hours in front of a shop
of dried fruits and smoked meats, devouring with my eyes whatever I saw.
I could have eaten not only the comestibles, but the boxes and baskets
which held them.”

In 1793 the English Government thought of offering the emigrants
settlements in Canada. The Empress Catherine of Russia, who had behaved
generously to the small number rich enough to find their way to her
distant dominions, proposed to establish six thousand of them on the
shores of the Sea of Azof, under the command of Condé. In London a
certain number of the émigrés received from the English Government one
shilling a day as subsidy. It was very little, but many received nothing
at all. Tired of having to choose between living on alms and dying of
hunger, numerous émigrés determined at last to seek some regular
occupation. Duchesses and marchionesses were now seen in charge of
haberdashers’ and perfumers’ shops; of cafés and other establishments of
the kind. The Count de Vieuville became a messenger, or “commissionaire”
as he would now be called; the Chevalier de Lanty a servant; Madame de
la Londe a shopwoman; Mlle. de St. Marceau a shop-girl; Madame de la
Martinière a dealer in second-hand clothes; a well-known marquis an
actor (not in those days considered a very gentlemanly profession); the
Chevalier d’Anselme a waiter; the Marquis de Montbazet a lamplighter;
while others turned themselves into hairdressers, barbers, and
dancing-masters. One émigré, mentioned by Brillat-Savarin, used to dress
salads, and, what was still more remarkable, obtained a guinea for every
salad he dressed.

[Illustration: THE ST. MICHEL FOUNTAIN.]

A few exercised more lucrative functions as secret political agents.
Among these may be mentioned Count d’Antraigues, the husband of Madame
de St. Huberty, the famous singer, who, with his wife, was assassinated
at Barnes by an irritated domestic. The Count had rendered important
services to the Coalition, and claimed to have revealed to the English
Government the secret articles of the Treaty of Tilsit.

On the outbreak of the Revolution most of the great families who,
collectively, may be said to compose the Faubourg St. Germain, had left
France, when a special law against “emigrants” was passed, striking
through their property those who, had they remained, would have suffered
in person. Some members, however, of the ancient nobility stayed in
Paris throughout the Reign of Terror, among whom may in particular be
mentioned that Baron Lézardière who saved, or did his best to save, the
heroic Abbé Edgeworth, when the last confessor of Louis XVI. was, or
believed himself to be, in imminent danger of his life. “The friend,”
wrote the abbé to his brother, “whose name must be for ever sacred to
you, since to him your brother owes his life, was the Baron de
Lézardière, a nobleman of high character, advanced in years, and then
living in opulence, who not only received me with open arms, but,
slighting all the dangers to which he exposed himself and family by
giving hospitality to such a guest, insisted on my regarding his house
as my own, seeking for no other place of refuge; so that I received
during those months every attention that the most delicate friendship
could invent, and though the family was large and the servants numerous,
my existence was hardly perceived out-of-doors, so well was the secret
kept. I had not been long in this charming solitude when I received
information from Paris that at two or three different clubs, and
especially at the Jacobins’, my head was mentioned as the only atonement
equal to my guilt of having openly professed my attachment for the
‘tyrant.’ This was alarming news indeed. But a journalist (friend or
foe) having announced some days afterwards that I had got safe over to
England, and had there had frequent conferences not only with the
principal emigrants, but with Mr. Pitt himself, this idle story was
credited by all, and I was completely forgotten.

“However, the fiction, though favourable to me in one sense, distressed
me much in other respects, as it obliged me to conceal myself more
cautiously than ever, for had I been discovered in France after such a
report, I must have been, in the eyes of Government, no less than an
emissary from the court of England, an agent to the emigrants, and an
emigrant myself--all titles that made my case the blacker by adding to
my former guilt. Hence I was obliged to keep within doors more than
ever; nor could I venture out to Paris but by night. Then I dared but to
remain a day or two at a time, and though my house should have been open
to all, since to all I owed myself, few people knew where it was or how
to get admittance into it. It is true that from my solitude in the
country I entertained a large correspondence with the town; but all
kinds of business could not be transacted by letters, and I soon
perceived that the diocese committed to my care, far from prospering in
my hands, suffered materially from my absence.

“In this distressing situation, and really not knowing what part to
take, I wrote a long letter to the archbishop, informing him of all and
demanding his advice; but, unfortunately for me, my letter, though
directed to one of the commanding officers upon the frontier (who
favoured, underhand, my correspondence), was seized, opened, and sent
back to the _Comité de Salut Public_. Soon after, the house of M. de
Lézardière, where I lay concealed, was assaulted in mid-day, and the
whole family, supposing the storm to be directed against me alone, fell
at my knees, requesting I would provide for my own safety by a timely
flight. I yielded, though indeed with some reluctance, to their
entreaties, and casting into the fire all my papers, I escaped by a back
road into the fields, where I remained until it was dark. But how bitter
was my grief when, coming back at night, I was informed that my valuable
friend had been carried off to prison with his youngest son and eldest
daughter, and that upon the road to Paris, three different times, the
bloodthirsty gang had held counsel whether it was not best to shorten
the business by murdering them upon the spot. My mind was relieved a few
days after (at least in some degree) by the positive assurances given me
that amongst the questions put to the three prisoners, upon their
arrival in Paris, not a word had been said about me, which clearly
proved that I had not been the innocent cause of their misfortune; but
my friend was not the less in danger (for prison and death now began to
be synonymous terms in France), and my papers were lost for ever.” This
accident did not prove fatal to M. de Lézardière, for after ten days’
confinement he was dismissed. “As to my papers, those I regret the most,
and shall in all probability ever lament, were the letters written to me
from the Temple by Madame Elizabeth. I have already hinted to you (but
this to you and no other mortal, as the time for revealing is not yet
come) that notwithstanding the unrelenting vigilance of her guardians,
this unfortunate princess found a means to correspond with me from time
to time, and to take my advice on many critical occurrences during her
imprisonment. These letters were conveyed to me in a ball of silk, and
all measures so prudently taken that the correspondence, though at last
suspected, was never found out entirely. I had already destroyed, in one
of my critical moments, all those she had written to me upon different
subjects before her confinement, nor was I sensible of the loss, as she
was still alive to repair it; but when I now reflect that she is no
more, and that her last pages, bathed with her tears, and painting in so
lively colours her resignation and her courage, are now lost for
posterity, I cannot but lament it as a public misfortune.

“But to return to my subject: the poor officer who had favoured my
correspondence with the Archbishop of Paris was soon called to an
account for the anonymous letter that had been put into the post under
his cover; and the affair being likely to take a very serious turn, not,
indeed, for him, as he could plead ignorance of the contents, but for
the author, whose existence in France could be no longer doubted, all my
friends joined in requesting I would retire without delay to some remote
province. I had only time to see my poor mother, whom I embraced for the
last time, and to provide, as well as the circumstances would permit,
for the government of the diocese. These two duties fulfilled, I got
into a carriage, and under the name of Essex I got off to Montigny,
where M. le Comte de Roche Chouart received me with the greatest
kindness in his castle.

“Here my first business was to write to the faithful agent of Madame
Elizabeth, giving her at full length my direction, in case she had any
silk balls to send me. This letter was directed to her house, and signed
‘Essex’; but no sooner was it put into the post office than I was
informed that the very person to whom I wrote had been arrested a few
days ago, after I had left Paris, _for favouring a clandestine
correspondence of one of the royal prisoners_; and also that a friend of
mine, being cited before the Comité de Salut Public, and questioned
about the letter I had written to the Archbishop, had inadvertently
discovered the name under which I was endeavouring to conceal my
existence. This was fatal indeed; for the letter I had just cast into
the post office, being directed to a prisoner, must, of course, go to
the Comité de Salut Public; and there the Comité found, without further
inquiry, not only my handwriting to compare it with that of the
anonymous letter written to the Archbishop, but my name full at length,
and every means of discovering me, given by myself. I leave you to
judge, my dear Ussher, into what perplexity I was cast by this accident.
But Providence looked down upon my distress; and after a whole week
spent in the most cruel anxiety, I at last had news from the person
herself, informing me that the affair had been hushed up, and that my
letter had got safe.

“I pass over in silence many incidents of less importance which I met
with during the four months I spent with M. de Roche Chouart. I must now
relate the circumstance which obliged me to fly, and to seek for safer
concealment. The Comité de Salut Public having got hold of the name
under which I concealed myself in France, caused an article, relative to
I know not what correspondence, supposed to have existed between Louis
XVI. and the King of Prussia, to be inserted in the public papers. The
article was insignificant in itself; but the author, in order to obtain
more credit for his story, took care to tell the public that he was
indebted for the anecdote to Mr. Essex, the last friend to Louis
XVI.--Mr. Essex, a person who must have been informed of all that had
passed. This paper came to Montigny, where I was publicly known, and was
there reputed to be an English gentleman of small fortune, travelling
for his private business, or for his health; but this resemblance of
names, and I know not what in my person, when nicely viewed, that
betrayed a clergyman, soon gave rise to other thoughts. During the first
days I paid but little attention to what was whispered about, hoping
that the author and the anecdote would soon be forgotten; but as I was
thus endeavouring to tranquillise myself, a man advanced in years, and
of most noble appearance, came up to the castle, and inquired for Mr.
Essex; he was introduced, and, all witnesses being removed, he said,
‘Sir, your existence in this house is no secret to the public, nor has
it hitherto occasioned the least suspicion, as you had not been supposed
to be a man of importance; but a paragraph inserted lately in the papers
is now the subject of all conversation, and all eyes in the
neighbourhood are fixed upon you. Be so good as to read the article, and
if in it you behold your own features, oh! my dear sir, give leave to a
man who was your friend before he had the honour of seeing you, to
request of you to provide for your own safety by a timely flight, for
here you will be infallibly arrested.’

“This unexpected visit gave me, as you may believe, much alarm. I
thanked the gentleman in the warmest terms, and, after holding counsel
with the few friends I had made in that part of France, it was
unanimously resolved that I must fly with all speed, and seek for
shelter in some other place. I pitched upon Fontainebleau as one of the
quietest spots in France; there I had neither friends nor acquaintances,
except a lady whom I had never seen but once. Apprised of my arrival,
she flew to my assistance; her credit, her purse, her servants--all were
at my disposal, and my own mother could not have done more for me than
she did during my stay in that place; but, unfortunately, it was not
long, for an order was issued to arrest all foreigners, and for me
arrestation was certain death. I therefore was obliged once more to seek
for safety in some other spot. The Baron Lézardière, who never lost
sight of me amidst my distresses, had an old servant--a man of uncommon
resolution and prudence. Him he despatched to protect me in my flight.
We both fell into the hands of an armed troop appointed to examine all
travellers, and to take up all those whom they might suspect; but the
fierce and bold countenance of my companion got me off, and, thanks to
his zeal, I arrived, without accident, at Bayeux, in Normandy, two
hundred miles from Paris.

“There I had it in my power to get off to England, as the coasts were
but ill-guarded. But Madame Elizabeth was still alive, and if she should
be exposed to danger, I was resolved to keep my word, and to be her
friend to the last, let the consequences be what they would for myself.
Hence I stopped at Bayeux, and took up my lodging in a poor hut, where I
lay unnoticed; nobody suspected that a man of any importance could be
lodged in so dismal a place. Soon after, the Baron de Lézardière, hunted
from town to town, came to join me in this hole, with his three
daughters and his younger son, and there we remained eighteen months,
almost forgotten. He was still in opulence when he arrived; but his
castle being burned to the ground, all his lands seized, and most of his
friends destroyed by the guillotine, he soon fell into poverty, so I
became his only resource. My friends, who were numerous, and some of
them still wealthy, seeing me in this situation, came on all sides to my
assistance, and with the supplies I received from them (without my ever
asking), and the little I received from you, I have had the happiness to
maintain, not, indeed, in opulence, but still above want, one of the
most respectable families in France.

“Our solitude, indeed, was daily bathed with our tears (though otherwise
comfortable enough); for there my poor Baron, after the loss of all he
possessed in this world, was apprised of the death of his two sons,
young men of the greatest merit (a third had been murdered in the
prisons of Paris, and the fourth is actually under trial for his life).
Soon afterwards he received the shocking news of his four sisters being
shot on the same day, as they were flying in the fields to avoid
something worse. On my side, it was in the same solitude that I received
the fatal news of my poor mother being arrested, and of her soon sinking
under her grief; that my sister was torn from her, and conducted from
prison to prison, partly on my account; and finally, that Madame
Elizabeth, the glory of religion and the idol of France, had fallen a
victim to the cruel policy of our tyrants, at a moment when I least
expected it. I must confess that this last blow went to my very heart,
almost as much as the loss of my dear mother, for she often called upon
me; but she was no more when I first heard of her being taken from the
Temple. Only sixteen hours elapsed between her being brought to judgment
and her death, and my only consolation ever since has been to think
that, had I been in Paris, I could have been of no service to her, as
nobody even suspected on that day that she was in the fatal cart.

“No sooner had I been informed of her death than I resolved to leave
France. It was now a duty to fly, as it had been one to remain as long
as she was in existence; for a few days before her imprisonment she had
entrusted me with her last will (by word of mouth), and requested I
would execute it in person whenever I should hear of her death