Project Gutenberg's Old and New Paris, v. 2, by Henry Sutherland Edwards

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at

Title: Old and New Paris, v. 2
       Its History, its People, and its Places

Author: Henry Sutherland Edwards

Release Date: May 5, 2013 [EBook #42647]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Produced by Chuck Greif and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at (This file was
produced from images available at The Internet Archive)

Every attempt has been made to replicate the original book as printed. Some typographical errors have been corrected. (see list following the text.) No attempt has been made to correct or normalize the printed accentuation of names or words in French.
(etext transcriber’s note)






Its History, its People, and its Places







The “Cocher”—The Bus-driver—The Private Coachman—The Hackney Coachman—The Public Writer—The Flower-girl—The Oyster-woman1
The Englishman Abroad—M. Lemoinne’s Analysis—The Englishwoman—Sunday in London and in Paris—Americans in Paris—The American Girl9
The Spy—Under Sartines and Berryer—Fouché—Delavau—The Present System—The Écuyère—The Circus in Paris17
The French Servant, as described by Léon Gozlan and by Mercier—The Cook and the Cordon Bleu—The Valet20
Parisian Characteristics—Gaiety, Flippancy Wit—A String of Favourite Anecdotes24
The Arrangement of the Streets—System of Numbering the Houses—Street Nomenclature—Street Lamps—The Various Kinds of Vehicles in Use28
The Various Bridges over the Seine—Their Histories—The Morgue—Some Statistics33
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 Nantes36
The French Educational System—Lycées and Collèges—The University of Paris—The College of France44
Robert de Sorbonne—The Sorbonne, its Origin and History—Richelieu—The Revolution—The New Sorbonne—Mercier’s Views49
The Institute—Its Unique Character—The Objects of its Projectors—Its Constitution53
The Académie Française—Its Foundation by Richelieu—Its Constitution—The “Forty-first Chair”55
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
The “Central School of Public Works”—Bonaparte and the Polytechnic—The College of Navarre—Formal Inauguration in 1805—1816—183067
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 Treasures71
The Museum of Artillery—Its Origin and History—The Growth of its Collection of Armour and Weapons of all Kinds83
The Deaf and Dumb Institution—The Val de Grâce—Hearts as Relics—Royal Funerals—The Church of Saint-Denis89
Origin of the Catacombs—The Quarries of Mont Souris—The Observatory—Marshal Ney—The School of Medicine99
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 Praslin109
La Santé—La Roquette—The Conciergerie—The Mazas—Sainte-Pélagie—Saint-Lazare—Prison Regulations131
The Jardin des Plantes—Its Origin and History—Under Buffon—The Museum of Natural History—The Tobacco Factory147
Abailard and Héloise—Fulbert’s House in the Rue des Chantres—The Philip Augustus Towers—The Hôtel Barbette—The Hôtel de Sens156
“Uncle” and “Aunt”—Organisation of the Mont-de-Piété—Its Various Branches—Its Warehouses and Sale-rooms160
The Halles-Centrales—The Cattle Markets—Agriculture in France—The French Peasant166
Its Origin and History—Its Library—Its Organ—Saint-Sulpice170
Rue Visconti—Historical Buildings—The National School of Roads and Bridges—The Introduction of Printing into Paris—The First Printing Establishments—The Censorship174
A Glance at its History—Louis XIV. and Mme. de Maintenon—The Pensioners—Their Characteristics and Mode of Life185
The French Hospital System—The Laënnec Hospital—The Houses of Assistance—The Quinze-Vingts—Deaf and Dumb Institutions—The Abbé de l’Épée—La Charité193
The Treatment of Lunacy in the Past—La Salpêtrière—Bicêtre—The Story of Latude—The Four Sergeants of La Rochelle—Pinel’s Reforms—Charenton207
The Brothers Gobelin—Lebrun—The Gobelins under Louis XIV.—At the Time of the Revolution—The Manufactory of Sèvres225
The Palais Bourbon—Its History—The National Convention—Philippe Égalité231
The Palace of the Legion of Honour—The Ministry of War—The Rue de Grenelle—Talleyrand236
Diderot’s Early Life in Paris—His Love Affairs—Imprisonment in the Château de Vincennes—Diderot and Catherine II. of Russia—His Death242
The Courtyard of the Dragon—The National Workshops—The Insurrection of June—Monseigneur Affre Shot at the Barricade of the Faubourg St. Antoine247
The Boulevard Montparnasse—The Cemetery—Father Loriquet—Hégésippe Moreau—Sainte-Beuve250
Le “Sport”—Longchamps—Versailles Races—Fontainebleau—The Seine—Swimming Baths—The Art of Book-collecting254
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 New257
Petty Trades—Their Origins—The Day-Banker—The Guardian Angel—The Old-Clothesman—The Claque—Its First Beginning and Development259
The Old Wooden Stalls of Forty Years Ago—The “Lucky Fork”—The Cobbler’ Shops—The Old Cafés265
French Governments and the Press—The Press under Napoleon—Some Account of the Leading Paris Papers—The Figaro268
The Quai Voltaire—Its Changes of Name—Voltaire—His Life in Paris and Elsewhere—His Remains laid in the Panthéon—Mirabeau—Rousseau—Vincennes273
The Institute or Palais Mazarin—The Rue Mazarine—L’Illustre Théâtre—Molière—The Theatre Français—The Odéon—Heine—The Faubourg Saint-Germain—Historical Associations288
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 Supply307
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 Characteristics317
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 Poor324
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, 1789338
The Advance on Paris—Preparations for the Siege—General Trochu—The Francs-Tireurs—The Siege348
The Communists or Communards—The “Internationale”—Bismarck and the National Guard—The Municipal Elections—The Insurrection—Thiers—Paris during the Commune—Concluding Remarks355
INDEX: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, Y


[xxxxIllustrations have been moved from within paragraphs for ease of reading.
(note of e-text transcriber.)]

On the Champs ÉlyséesFrontispiece
Outside a Railway Station in Paris1
Waiting for a Fare3
Omnibus Coachman4
Private Coachman4
Hackney Coachman5
Hearse Coachman5
An Invitation to a “Petit Verre”6
Street Scene8
In the Avenue du Bois de Boulogne at Night9
In the Flower Market13
After the Theatre16
At the Salon17
A Fair21
A Café Chantant24
Parisian Types—In the Barracks25
Parisian Types—In Search of Cigar-ends29
A Paris Omnibus31
Street Scene32
Eastern End of Île de la Citéfacing 33
Austerlitz Bridge35
On the Saint-Martin Canal36
The Solferino Bridge, from the Quai d’Orsay37
The National Bridge40
The Right Arm of the Seine from Boulevard Henri IV41
The College of France44
The Lycée Voltaire45
The Lycée Charlemagne47
The Lycée Condorcet48
The Court of the Sorbonne49
Façade of the New Sorbonne51
The Church of the Sorbonne52
The Dome of the Panthéon, Spire of St. Étienne du Mont, and Tour de Clovis57
The Panthéon, from the Luxemburg Gardens60
Place du Panthéon61
Well in the Courtyard, Cluny Museumfacing 65
Interior of the Panthéon65
Library of Sainte-Geneviève68
St. Stephen-of-the-Mount69
Interior of Church of St. Stephen-of-the-Mount70
The Chapel of the Ancient College of the Lombards72
Place Maubert, with the Statue of Étienne Dolet73
Patrons of the Chateau Rouge75
Rue de Bièvre75
Ruins of the Palais des Thermes76
Entrance to the Cluny Museum, Rue du Sammerard77
Staircase, Cluny Museum80
Dormer Windows at the Cluny Museum81
Group of Shafted Weapons in the Artillery Museum84
Decorated Spanish Cannon in the Artillery Museum85
Decorated Muskets in the Artillery Museum85
The Deaf and Dumb Institution89
Elm Tree in the Court of Honour at the Deaf and Dumb Institution92
Statue of the Abbé de l’Épée at the Deaf and Dumb Institution93
The Val de Grâce from the Rue de la Santé96
View from the Pont de la Concordefacing 97
Entrance to the Observatory100
The Gardens of the Observatory, Boulevard Arago101
Place de l’Observatoire104
School of Drawing, Rue l’École de Médecine105
Statue of Marshal Ney105
School of Medicine107
New Wing of the School of Medicine107
Hôtel du Cheval Blanc108
Rue de l’Odéon109
Rue de l’Ancienne Comédie109
Odéon Theatre111
The Luxemburg Palace: the Garden Façade112
The Luxemburg Palace from the Terrace112
The Senate Chamber113
Entrance Court, Luxemburg Palace115
Grand Avenue, Luxemburg Gardens115
Sculpture Gallery, Luxemburg Palace116
Salle des Fêtes, Luxemburg Palace117
The Central Fountain, Luxemburg Gardens119
Façade of the Ancient Chapel of the Daughters of Calvary, Luxemburg120
Listening to the Band in the Luxemburg Gardens121
The Marie de Médicis Grotto and Fountain124
Back of the Marie de Médicis Fountain125
Fremiel-Carpeaux Fountain, Luxemburg Gardens126
The Luxemburg Museum128
The Hôtel de Sensfacing 129
The Mineralogical Museum129
Prison of La Santé132
Inside the Walls of La Santé132
The Common Quarter, La Santé—“The Parlour”133
Interior of La Santé135
Gaolers’ Mess-room, La Santé136
Entrance to La Grande Roquette137
Warders’ Room and adjoining Courtyard, La Grande Roquette140
Chapel, La Grande Roquette141
The Chapel-school, La Petite Roquette143
The Political Quarter, Sainte-Pélagie144
The Courtyard, Saint-Lazare145
The Carnivora Section, Jardin des Plantes149
Entrance to Hothouses, Jardin des Plantes149
Marabout Storks in the Jardin des Plantes151
The Polar Bear in the Jardin des Plantes151
The Bear-pit, Jardin des Plantes152
Dromedary in the Jardin des Plantes153
Llama in the Jardin des Plantes155
Rue des Chantres, looking towards Notre-Dame156
Site of the House of Abailard and Héloise, Rue des Chantres157
Rue des Chantres, looking towards the Quai158
Portion of the Façade, Musée Carnavalet159
The Opera Housefacing 161
Entrance to the Mont-de-Piété, Chaussée d’Antin161
The Jewellery Stores, Rue des Blancs Manteaux163
In the Rue de Capron Branch of the Mont-de-Piété164
The Sale-room of the Mont-de-Piété, Rue des Blancs Manteaux165
Rue de Tournon, with the Façade of the Senate House168
The Saint-Germain Market169
The Tower of Saint-Germain-des-Prés171
The Side Entrance to Saint-Germain-des-Prés173
The Rue de l’Abbaye174
Saint-Sulpice and Apsis of Saint-Sulpice176
Fountain, Place Saint-Sulpice177
The Garden, School of Fine Arts180
The Arc de Gaillon, School of Fine Arts181
Courtyard, School of Fine Arts181
A Façade on the Quai Malaquais182
Street Scene184
Hôtel des Invalides185
Dome of the Hôtel des Invalides186
Dormer Window on the Façade, Hôtel des Invalides187
The Court of Honour, Hôtel des Invalides187
Tomb of Napoleon189
Entrance to the Tomb of Napoleon191
Street Scene192
Latude recognises D’Aligrefacing 193
The Laennec Hospital, Rue de Sèvres193
The Children’s Hospital, Rue de Sèvres195
The Blind School: in the Work-room196
Attendants’ Room in a Paris Hospital197
La Charité198
Hospital on the Boulevard du Pont Royal199
Entrance to the St. Louis Hospital200
Courtyard of the St. Louis Hospital200
A Ward in the St. Louis Hospital201
The Repairing Room, St. Louis Hospital201
The Tenon Hospital203
Nurse Pupils at the Maternity Hospital204
The Maternity Hospital205
Font at the Maternity Hospital205
Hôspital de la Pitié206
Façade of the Main Buildings, Salpêtrière208
The Mazarin Ward, Salpêtrière209
Place de Conseil, Salpêtrière212
The Park, Salpêtrière213
The Village, Salpêtrière216
The Lunatics’ Quarter, Salpêtrière217
The Chapel, Salpêtrière220
The Bicêtre, 1710 (After Gueroult)221
Dinner-Time at Bicêtre224
Entrance to Bicêtre224
The Bièvrefacing 225
Avenue des Gobelins226
The Bièvre in the Gardens of the Gobelins227
The Old Buildings of the Gobelins228
In the Gardens of the Gobelins228
Interior of the Gobelins229
A Street in the Neighbourhood of the Gobelins230
Façade of the Chamber of Deputies on Place du Palais Bourbon232
Chamber of Deputies from the Quai d’Orsay233
Ruins of the Palace of the Council of State, Quai d’Orsay237
Palace of the Legion of Honour238
The Ministry of War240
Fountain in the Rue de Grenelle241
Grimm and Diderot244
Statue of Diderot, Boulevard St.-Germain, facing the Rue St.-Benoit245
Entrance to the Courtyard of the Dragon248
Courtyard of the Dragon249
The Montparnasse Station253
Second-hand Bookstalls256
The Bureau de Bienfaisance Asylum at Vincennes: (1) The Façade. (2) The Bowling Greenfacing 257
Old-Clothes Dealer260
Le Débarcadère des Bateaux-Omnibus: Vendors of Refreshments261
Snow Scene267
Bookstalls on the Quai Voltaire268
Édmond About272
The late Albert Wolff, of the Figaro273
Statue of Voltaire,277
The Pont du Carrousel and the Louvre, from the Quai Malaquais280
The Seine, between the City and the Quai des Augustines281
Jean Jacques Rousseau284
Madame D’Épinay285
A Night Refuge in the Vaugirard Quarterfacing 289
Cardinal Mazarin289
Entrance to the Hôtel de Chateaubriand, in the Faubourg St. Germain293
The Bridge, Place, and Boulevard St. Michel296
The St. Michel Fountain297
The Castle of Chambord301
Porte aux Pommes: Fruit-boats on the Seine304
Porte aux Pommes305
The Villette Abbatoirs309
A Seine Steamboat312
The Seine at Grenelle313
The Chapelle Saint Denis Barrier317
The Octroi Barriers of Petit-Château and Grand-Bercy320
Versailles: the Façade and the Great Fountainfacing 321
Tram at the Barrier321
Street Scene324
Asylum for Women, Rue Fessart: The Refectory329
A “Bureau de Bienfaisance”332
A Night Refuge333
Pensioners of “L’Assistance Publique”335, 336
Versailles (from an old print)341
The Colonnade of Versailles344
The Gallery of Battles, Versailles345
General Trochu349
Map of the Fortifications at the Siege of Paris352
The Prussians Entering Parisfacing 353
Prince Bismarck355
M. Thiers357
Marshal MacMahon360

{Page 1}






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{2} 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{3} 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.




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{4} 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.



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.”

To the pedestrian his signboard proclaimed the particulars of his profession in a piece of poetry which might at all events have been{5} 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.



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.



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{6} 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{7} 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{8} 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.

Street Scene
Street Scene







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{10} 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{11} 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,{12} 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,{13} 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.”



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{14} 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{15} 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{16} 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.



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.{17}






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{18} 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{19} 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{20} 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.



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{21} goes, he might simply be an ape in his master’s clothes.




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.{23}

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.{24}



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,{25} 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.”



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,{26} 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{27} 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.




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.



The most celebrated of all the lamps in Paris{29} 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{30} 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{31} 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.




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{32} 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.”








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{34} 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{35} 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.



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.{36}



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.



“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.



It was in the Louvre that the Reformation was first publicly preached at Paris. Queen{37} 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{39} 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{40} the Parisian population, merchants, workmen, belonged to the Reformation and perished.



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{41} 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.



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{42} 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.{43} 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.{44}





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{45} 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.



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{46} 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{47} 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.



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{48} 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.”








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{50} 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{51} 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.



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{52} 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.


“If,” wrote Mercier at the end of the eighteenth century, “the Académie Française is the seat of literary despotism, the Sorbonne{53} 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.”



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{54} 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{55} 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.



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{56} 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,{57} 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.



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{58} 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.




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{60} 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.



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{61} 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.”



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{62} 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{63} 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{64} 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.”



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{65} 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.



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.{66}

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.




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{68} 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.”



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{69} 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.



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,{70} 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.



Amongst the distinguished men produced by{71} 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.



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{72} 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.



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{73} 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.



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{74} 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{75} becomes softer and more graceful without losing altogether the severity of the past.




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{76} 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.



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{77} 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.



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{78} 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{79} 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{80} 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.



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.



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{81} 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.{83}



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{84} 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.



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{85} 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.




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.{86}

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{87} 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,{88} 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.{89}



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.




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{90} 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{91} 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{92} 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.



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{93} 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.



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{94} 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.{95}” 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{96} 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?”




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{97} 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{98} 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,{99} 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.



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,{100} 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.



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{101} 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.



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{102} 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{103} 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{104} France. Let the brave men I have the honour to command take this truth to their hearts.



“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{105} 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.




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{106} 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,{107} 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.




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{108} Poquelin, said to he derived from a Scotch village named Pawkelin (whence came the grandfather of the great comic dramatist) got converted into Molière?



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.{109}



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.




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{110} 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.{111}

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.



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{112} 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.




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{113} 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.



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.{114} 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{115} it into the wound; after which they certified that the latter corresponded in dimensions and form with the former.



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.”




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.”



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{117} 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.



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{118} 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{119} 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.”



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,{120} 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.



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.{121} 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.



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,{122} 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{123} 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{124} 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.



“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.



The case of the Duc de Praslin—tried, like that of Louis Napoleon, at the Luxemburg—was{125} 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,{126} 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.



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,{127} 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{128} 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.



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.



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{129} 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.



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.{130}

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.{131}



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{132} 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.




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.{133}



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{134} 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{135} 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.



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{136} 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.



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{137} 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.



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{138} 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{139} 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{140} 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.



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{141} 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.



Of yet another ingenious escape an Englishman{142} 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{143} 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.



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{144} 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.



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{145} 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.



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{146} 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.




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.{148}

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.



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{149} 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.




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{150} 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.{151} 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.




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.

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{152} 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.



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{153} 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.



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,{154} 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{155} 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.



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.{156}



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



“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{157} 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.



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{158} 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!



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{159} 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.



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.



“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.



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—{161}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.



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{162} 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{163} 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.”



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{164} 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.



“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{165} 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.



“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,{166}’ 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!”



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{167} 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{168} 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.”



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{169} 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.



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{170} 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.



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{171} 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.



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{172} 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.



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{173} 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!



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.{174}



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



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,{175} 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.




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,{176} 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{177} 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.



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{178} 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{179} 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{180} 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.



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,{181} 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.




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.{182}

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.



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{183} 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{184} 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.






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.”

(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{186} 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.



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{187} 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.




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.



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{188} 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.



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:—



“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{189} 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{191} 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.



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{192} 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.







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{194} 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{195} 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.



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{196} 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.



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.{197}

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.



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{198} 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.



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.{199} 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.



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{200} 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.




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{201} 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.




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{202} 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.{203}

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.



The Paris hospitals are not, like ours, supported{204} 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.



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{205} 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.




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{206} 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.



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.{207}



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{208} 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.



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,{209} 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.



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.{210}

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,{211} 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{212} 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.



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{213} one, moreover, must enter it more than once in twenty-four hours, when the order must be limited to thirty centilitres (about ⅓ 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.



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{214} 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{215} 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{216} 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.



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.{217}

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.



“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{218} 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{219} 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{220} 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.



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{221} 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.

THE BICETRE, 1710. (After Gueroult.)
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{222} 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.{223}

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 {224}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.




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{225} predisposition, alcoholic excesses, and other abuses, domestic calamities, reverses of fortune, and intellectual labour unduly prolonged.



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.



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.{226}

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.”



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{227} 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.



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{228} 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.



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.



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.




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{229} 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{230} 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.



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.{231}



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.{232}

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.



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{233} 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.



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{234} 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{235} 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{236} 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.



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,{237} 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.



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{238} 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.



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{239} 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{240} 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.



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{241} 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.



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{242} 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.”



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{243} 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{244} 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.



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{245} 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.”



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{246} 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.




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{248} 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.”


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{249} 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.


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.{250}



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:—{251}

“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{252} 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{253} 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.


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.{254}



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{255} 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{256} 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.



1. The Façade.      2. The Bowling Green.
1. The Façade. 2. The Bowling Green.




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{258} 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{259} 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.”



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{260} 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.


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{261} 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.


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{262} 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.{263}

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,{264} 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.{265}



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{266} 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{267} 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.





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{269} 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{270} 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.{271}

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.

(From the Portrait by Paul Baudry.)
(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{272} 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{273} 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.



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. Unti