At Vincennes it was still better. The wood, uninvaded by blazoned carriages and English horses, was finer, the walk longer, and the surroundings more rural. There one could entirely forget Paris for a whole day. It was a blessing of Heaven. Alas! the charm of the two woods is gone. At a vast expense of labor, and of we know not how many millions of money, they have been transformed into English park’s. Lakes have been dug, rivers tortured into shape, and rocks heaped up, down which fall pretty but theatrical-looking cascades. Fine gravel walks, with a causeway for carriages, have been built, as well as sidewalks for pedestrians; and when one wants to cross from one sidewalk to another he must watch his chance, if he does not want to be run over by the "break" of the Viscount A., or the calèche of Mlle. Z. It is no more the custom for people to go au bois for a two or three hours’ walk in good company, to diversify the labors and toils of a busy life by a sight of the sky and trees. Men or women, who dress in the latest fashion, have horses, carriages, jewels, or beauty, go there to show their possessions. Those less favored come to see the carriages, the horses, the dress, and the beauty of others. The aristocracy, the demi-monde, the quart-de-monde, are seen there pell-mell. The ladies of the Faubourg Saint Germain and of the Chaussée-d’Antin rival in toilet those of the Place Breda. It is now again, for all that is said to the contrary, the general meeting-place for fashion and eccentricity, just as it was during the last years of the second empire. Boulogne and Vincennes have certainly been made splendid, magnificent; but what are they? We do not understand gardens without flowers, and woods without freedom; and here we meet, almost at every step, with formidable signs, which remind us of the several things which we are forbidden to do; point being given to the orders by the numerous very respectable-looking guardians encountered, — old soldiers, evidently ready to strictly enforce the rules. Public gardens in cities — delightful! But out of walls, the true, the only public garden, is the country.
The Bois de Vincennes is overlooked by the Donjon or Keep of the Castle, of which we give a view. The Chateau de Vincennes, founded in the twelfth century, was afterwards transformed into a royal residence, and was later enlarged into a state prison, more dreadful even than the Bastille. Out of a long list of illustrious personages who have been confined within its walls may be mentioned the King of Navarre (1574), Condé (1617), the Duc de Beaufort (1648), Mirabeau, (1777), the Duc d’Enghien (1804), and the ministers of Charles X. (1830). A melancholy interest attaches to the fortress from its having been the scene of the execution of the unfortunate Duc d’Enghien. At the bottom of the fossé can still be seen the place where the last Condé was murdered in the night, after a mock trial. Under Louis Philippe the château was strongly fortified, and furnished with extensive artillery dépôts. It was one of the last places occupied by the insurgents in 1871, but they were compelled to evacuate it on the approach of the Versailles troops, leaving one of their number concealed in a casemate, with instructions to set fire to the powder magazine when the troops had entered. The unfortunate wretch, whom almost certain death awaited in any case preferred suicide to the execution of his murderous commission.
The platform of the Donjon, a massive square, with four small towers at the corners, commands a fine prospect. The walls of the tower are seventeen feet thick, and its five lofty stories, each consisting of one spacious apartment, with four smaller rooms in the corner towers, were formerly occupied by the state prisoners. It was from the platform that the Duc de Beaufort, the famous frondeur and king of the markets, accomplished his wonderful escape, so wonderfully dramatized by Alexander Dumas the elder, in his "Trois Mousquetaires."
And now, with the reader’s permission, we will leave Vincennes, and as it will not be very pleasant to re-enter Paris by the populous, turbulent, and never finishing Faubourg Saint Antoine, we will suppose that, while speaking of Vincennes, we have still been walking in the Bois de Boulogne, and that we are now taking our way to Paris by the Porte Maillot, the splendid Avenue de la Grande Armée, and the Arc de Triomphe do l’Etoile — a way that has been pronounced, and is indeed, "the most majestic approach to any capital in the world." It may, perhaps, be thought that we are giving too free play to fancy in our Parsian rambles, but we are travelling in a country so well known that we deem it unnecessary to be guided by any very strict rules.
The more useless a monument appears, the more the Frenchman seems to be pleased with it. He loves glitter, noise, and glory; his greatest pleasure in the public fêtes is to see some magnificent firework bursting in the air, — irradiating the earth for but a moment, — of which the smallest spark would save a miserable family. But no! The poorest, who have not even a piece of bread for their evening meal, run to see this blazing gunpowder, without thinking of all the money that is wasted in ephemeral stars. On the contrary, the more beautiful the fireworks, and the more money they have cost, the better are the French satisfied.
The Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile, the most magnificent, the most majestic of all useless monuments in the world, was begun sixty-nine years ago; and since that time, O France! to what unexpected revolutions have those heights been witness! It was a great people, that nation of 1806, governed by that great man whom the world calls "Emperor." The French nineteenth century, scarcely begun, was already loaded with victories and triumphs. 1806! it is the year of Austerlitz, that victory which decided the Empire. When she saw herself thus, with one foot upon Russia and the other upon Austria, France chose to have the glorious bauble of a triumphal arch. Above all, she was determined that it should be the greatest in the world, as Austerlitz was the greatest of victories. The monument was only finished under Louis Philippe, and was a source of the most intense pride to every Parisian, until that never-to-be-forgotten day, when, notwithstanding the entreaties of Jules Favre, and the wisest advice of the king-emperor, its gigantic arch was crossed by the battalions of the victorious enemy. Since that day no Frenchman can contemplate that imperishable monument of a past glory without a tear in his eye. Is it matter for surprise that France, since that day, is exhausting her treasures in the renovation of her army?
A magnificent gravel walk, flanked by handsome buildings, pleasantly leads, by an easy descent, from the Arc de Triomphe de I’Etoile to the Champs Elysées, which properly begin at the Road Point, — a circular space, with a fountain in the centre, — and terminate at the Place de la Concorde. At this latter entrance are two figures of horse-tamers," executed by Couston, removed, in 1795, from the Palace of Marly to their present position, where they form a suitable counterpart to the Winged Steeds at the egress of the Garden of the Tuileries, on the other side of the Place de la Concorde. The Champs Elysées were originally laid out by Marie de Medicis, in 1616, as a pleasure-ground, termed the "Cours la Reine," and planted with elms and lime trees. They were completely transformed by Napoleon III., and now form an English garden, with verdant thickets and monumental fountains of the most smiling aspect. One of these pretty fountains is shown in the accompanying engraving. The main avenue, with its two lateral walks, is one of the most fashionable promenades in Paris, especially from noon to five o’clock, when numerous carriages, riders, and pedestrians are on their way to and from the Bois de Boulogne. Panoramas, circuses, theatres, concerts, the Jardin Mabile, with its eccentric dancers, restaurants, in which the most sensual gourmet has nothing left for desire, exhibitions of every kind, —all are found in or near the Champs Elysées: it is the very ideal of a pleasure-ground. The end adjoining the Place de la Concorde is a favorite resort of the lower classes, and abounds with attractions suited to their taste, such as cafés-chantants, jugglers, marionnettes, — termed "theatres de Guignol," — shows, cake stalls, &c. These entertainments are most popular towards evening, and by gas-light, and are in great request till nearly midnight. Here may be witnessed one of the characteristic phases of Parisian life.
On the south side, the Champs Elysées have been compelled to yield a considerable space to the Palais de l’Industrie, which was employed, in 1855, for the first great exhibition at Paris, and is now used for the exhibition of manufactures, agricultural products, and modern pictures. It is the largest, but not the most pleasing of the modern edifices of Paris. On the north side is the Garden of the Palais de l’Elysée, or "Elysée Bourbon," of which a view is given. During the reign of Louis XV., this mansion was the residence of Madame de Pompadour ; in 1815, during the "Hundred Days," it was occupied by Napoleon I., and afterwards by the Duke of Wellington and the Emperor Alexander. It then became the seat of the Duchess de Berri, and later, that of Napoleon III., before his elevation to the throne and removal to the Tuileries. It is now the Paris residence of the President of the Republic.
In the year 1763 it was resolved by his grateful countrymen, that a statue should be raised to Louis XV., and the square between the Garden of Tuileries and the Champs Elysées was chosen for the purpose. The design, supplied by Gabriel, consisted of an octagon, marked out by fossés, and with ornamental pavilions at every angle. The centre was adorned with a statue in bronze of Louis XV.; but here, for a reason, improvement and decoration were suspended. The changes which this now beautiful place has undergone correspond in number and in consistency with the political revolutions of France. Just twenty years after its erection the equestrian statue of Louis was pulled down by the people, and on the spot where the statue stood the guillotine was erected for Louis XVI., and for his queen and sister, besides three thousand other political victims, all persons of education and rank. Place de la Revolution was the name now appropriately given to this memorable spot; and the quality of liberty was openly abused by erecting her emblematic figure on the spot which had witnessed such atrocities. The name of Place de la Concorde was restored in 1800, the more ancient Place Louis XVI., in 1814, and both rejected, some ten years afterwards, for Place Louis XV. After, the accession of Louis Philippe, in 1830, the name of Place de la Concorde was revived. Under the auspices of that monarch the whole area was paved, the fossés planted, the pavilions surmounted by twelve allegorical statues representing the twelve chief cities of France, and surrounded by forty magnificent candelabra. As it is now, this place, of which we give a reduced view, is the most strikingly handsome "Place" in Paris. The central spot, decorated and desecrated alternately through revolving years, is now occupied by an Egyptian monolith of reddish granite, seventy-two feet in height, — the original Obelisk of Luxor, placed here at an expense exceeding four hundred thousand dollars. This obelisk, one of the most beautiful in the world, is inscribed with three vertical rows of well-defined hieroglyphics on each side. The inscriptions are laudatory of King Rameses II. of Egypt, who reigned about fifteen hundred years before the Christian era. The obelisk is, therefore, upwards of three thousand three hundred years old. We give here one of the two fountains which rise on each side of the obelisk. Each of them consists of a round basin fifty-three feet in diameter, above which rise two small basins, surmounted by a spout, from which a jet of water rises to a height of twenty-eight feet. The lower basin is surrounded by Tritons and Nereids, holding dolphins, which spout water into the second basin. It is scarcely possible to conceive a finer assemblage of architectural or national monuments than the Place de la Concorde presents. From the centre of the square a view is obtained of the Palais du Corps Législatif and the River Seine, the Madeleine, the Tulleries, and the Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile. When viewed by gas-light, the scene is scarcely less striking, the lamps, ascending the Champs Elysées as far as the Triumphal Arch, forming an apparently interminable avenue. Our illustration represents the two imposing edifices of nearly uniform exterior, on the north side of the square, separated from each other by the Rue Royale, leading to the Madeleine. They were used as "Garde-Meubles" of the crown down to the first revolution. The one on the east side is now the "Ministère de la Marine."
If not imposing in its appearance, the Church of the Madeleine is at least splendid.. This beautiful edifice is surrounded by an immense colonnade; a vast open space extends all round this half-Christian, half-profane monument. Is it a heathen temple? Is it a church? Is it a theatre? It is a church. The front, so beautifully sculptured, announces the efforts of Christian thought. The bronze doors, also sculptured from top to bottom, in the same way as the doors of the Baptistère at Florence, are far from being as beautiful as the doors of Lorenzo Ghiberti, called by Michael Angelo the "Gates of Paradise;" but still they are rich, magnificent, and varied. In the interior have been lavished all the treasures of art, — bronze, oak, stone, marble, mosaic, painting,— nothing is wanting to this Christian church, except that it is not precisely a church. Admire the two basins of Antoine Moine for holy water, — would you not say it was some patient, endless labor of the sixteenth century? Is it not in the style of the artists from Byzance? Ziegler, an artist of great merit, has represented the history of the holy Madeleine. In May, 1871, the insurgents had constructed one of their most formidable barricades across the Rue Royale, opposite, and within a short distance of, the Madeleine. The appalling scene enacted here baffles description. The houses in the Rue Royale which escaped destruction by fire were literally riddled with shells and bullets; but the church, owing to its massive construction, suffered comparatively little.
At the Church of the Madeleine begins that long line of streets, termed Boulevards, which are unsurpassed by those of any other city in the world, in the handsomeness of their architecture and the attractiveness of their shops. The original boulevards, having been planted with trees, the term has been extended to all the new and broad streets which are thus embellished. Many other boulevards have sprung up in consequence of the vast street-improvements inaugurated by Napoleon III.; but "The Boulevards," or, "Les Grands Boulevards," is a term applied especially to the line of broad streets, nearly three miles in length, which lead from the Madeleine to the Bastille.
Beginning our walk along the Boulevards, we soon find ourselves — opposite the New Opera House, already described — in presence of the Rue de la Paix, one of the handsomest streets in Paris. The street terminates in the octagonal Place Vendôme. In the centre of that place, to commemorate his victories over the Russians and Austrians, in 1805, Napoleon I. erected the well-known Colonne Vendôme, a monument in imitation of Trajan’s Column at Rome. This was overthrown by the communists in 1871, but is now in process of re-erection. A few paces farther, on the side of the Opera House, is the handsome new Theatre of the Vaudeville: and then we reach the Rue de la Chaussée d’Antin, at the end of which the Church of La Trinité (given on page 53) is visible. Here begins the Boulevard des Italiens, the most frequented and most fashionable street in Paris, lined, almost from end to end, with hotels, cafés, and brilliant shops, filled with the choicest and costliest wares and fabrics.
Before reaching the Boulevard Montmartre, we may, by way of contrast, visit the Bibliothéque Nationale, the most extensive library in the world. The building in which it is preserved — an old and gloomy edifice, once the palace of Cardinal Mazarin, the all-powerful minister of Louis XIII. and of Louis XIV. — has been found totally inadequate for so vast a collection, and is now undergoing extensive alterations. To the new works belongs the handsome façade (represented in the accompanying engraving) separated by a railing and a court from the Rue Vivienne. A magnificent reading-room, entered from the Rue de Richelieu, has also lately been completed. The number of volumes comprised in this invaluable repository of learning is so enormous, that the cases containing them would, if placed in a continuous line, extend for a distance of sixteen miles. Most of the books are copies of the rarest and choicest editions, and are carefully bound. The collection of manuscripts is richer than that of the British Museum.
A little farther along, at the end of the Rue de Richelieu, and adjoining the Palais Royal, stands the Théâtre Français, — the first theatre of Paris in the order of merit. The acting there is always admirable, and the plays produced are generally of a high class. The Théâtre Français was founded in 1600, and was under the superintendence of Molière from 1658 down to his death, in 1673. Voltaires last drama was performed there in 1768, and was received with thunders of applause; the author, then in his eighty-fourth year, being himself present. Of late years the building has been considerably improved, and a fair comprehension of its present proportions is given by our illustration representing the side towards the Rue de Richelieu. The handsome vestibule, of the Doric order, contains a statue of Voltaire, by Houdon; statues representing Tragedy and Comedy, by Lequesne, bearing respectively the features of the celebrated actresses, Mlle. Rachel and Mlle. Mars; and a chimney-piece, also by Lequesne, with a relief representing comedians crowning the figure of Molière. The lobby is adorned with busts of the most celebrated French dramatists, and with paintings illustrative of their writings, while in the green-room are portraits of the several distinguished actors and actresses whose genius has added to the lustre of this notable home of the drama.
Returning to the Boulevards, we very soon reach the Variétés, an excellent theatre for vaudevilles, farces, and operettas, such as La Belle Hélène and La Grande Duchesse; the popular Rue Montmartre, and. then the Theatre of the Gymnase Dramatique. For this last-named delightful little theatre, Scribe wrote the most of his plays; at it Victorien Soudon and Alexandre Dumas the Younger have achieved great successes, and it is doubtless destined to introduce other and equally excellent dramatists to the public, for its popularity remains undiminished.
At the end of the Boulevard Poissonnière rises the Porte St. Denis, a Triumphal Arch, erected by the city, in 1672, to commemorate the victories of Louis XIV. in Holland and the district of the Lower Rhine. A little farther, we pass the Porte St. Martin, another Triumphal Arch, also erected in honor of the same monarch, in 1672. It is seen in the background of the accompanying illustration. Farther down we see the new and handsome Théâtre de la Porte St. Martin, the Théâtre de l’Ambigue Comique, the Théâtre des Folies Dramatiques, — a small but very popular theatre, on which was first given the well-known operetta, "La Fille de Madame Angot," — and the Place du Château d’Eau, where they are erecting a large and monumental fountain, still unfinished. From that point the Boulevards become less thronged, and the shops less and less handsomely constructed and richly stocked, till, at last, we reach the Place de la Bastille. Of this famous Bastille, the terror of the guilty, and, above all, the terror of the democracy, nothing has remained except the remembrance. All its criminal stones have been dispersed here and there, and at the present moment not the smallest chip can be found. Upon all this annihilation of strength and power, they have erected a column in brass, to the memory of the "heroes" of July, 1830.
At each of its extremities this immense Boulevard boasts, — there of the Column Vendôme — here of the Column of July. But what a difference between the two monuments! The noblest bronze rose in the Place Vendôme; the whole monument was loaded, from top to bottom, with an infinite succession of ornaments, — emblems and battles, bass-reliefs in honor of the many armies who died in aspiring after universal dominion; and at the summit of this gigantic bronze stood erect the popular Statue of Napoleon I. At the Place de la Bastille, on the contrary, the column, instead of being bronze, is brass, and is composed of a succession of ornaments, cast anyhow, and piled one upon the other. The sculptor had nothing to do with this erection by contract; but such is the power of anything large in architecture, that this column, if looked at as a whole, produces a powerful effect.
From the Place de la Bastille, crossing the Pont d’Austerlitz, we soon find, not without joy, the Jardin des Plantes, which is, properly speaking, the Parisian’s country house. Owing to its situation, in the middle of the quarter inhabited by the lowest class, the Jardin des Plantes is not so fashionable a promenade as is the Jardin d’Acclimation, but it is certainly the most interesting place in Paris; and so beautiful! so lovely! There you see flowers, turf, trees, from every country; tigers, lions, panthers, bears, of every color. At the first ray of the sun the giraffe walks forth; the elephants come to perform their ablutions in the neighboring pools; the family of the monkeys throw themselves, with a thousand gambols, into their palace, which is open to the day; beautiful birds, and those of the rarest kind, here sweetly warble their most charming songs. Never to please the eyes were more enchantments united in a more happy spot. Here all the natural sciences are equally represented. Here the three kingdoms of nature are blended in an arrangement full of art, taste, and science. The Jardin des Plantes, like the greatest kings in the world, is represented at a distance by its ambassadors ; it sends throughout the universe its conquerors and its gentlemen; it also receives envoys from distant countries, who humbly bring it the products of their mines, trees from their forests, fruits from their orchards, flowers from their gardens, fish from their rivers and their seas. Thus, between the Jardin des Plantes and the whole world there is established a perpetual exchange of all that the earth and sky produce most curious and rare, most charming and terrible. One day, when J. J. Rousseau returned with his hands full of plants, which he had gathered in the country, he was met by the ladies of a neighboring house, who began to laugh at the philosopher. "Ladies," said he to them, "do not laugh; my hands are full of proofs of the existence of God." What J. J. Rousseau said of a handful of herbs, might with still greater reason be said of the Jardin des Plantes, that magnificent collection of the most magnificent proofs of the existence of God.
To a well-formed mind, nothing is sweeter to contemplate than this beautiful garden, placed there by a beneficent hand; it was one of the good ideas of Louis XIII., who was not always the restless, melancholy, undecided man of whom the historians speak. This king bought, in the worst faubourg of Paris, a house and a few acres of ground; this house and these few acres of ground have become a whole world, — a varied, picturesque, melodious universe, through which have passed, not without leaving there some trace of benefit or glory, Buffon, the three Jussieux, Bernardin de St. Pierre, — that excellent painter of the most beautiful flowers, whose Vandyke and Rubens he was, — Geoffroy St. Hilaire, Cuvier, Lacépède, Daubenton, Vauquelin, Gay-Lussac, and Chevreuil.
Among the most interesting curiosities in the Jardin des Plantes are the Hothouses, — splendid crystal palaces, — in which are kept and grow almost to their full size, the rarest exotic plants. Among thousands we have remarked, in the East Pavilion, — the one here represented, — the beautiful Jubcea spectabilis of Chili; and, in the Aquarium, the Victoria regia — the gigantic Water-lily of equatorial America. The flowers of the latter, when fully expanded, are more than a foot in diameter; and the leaves, which are curiously turned up at their edges, vary from four to eight feet in diameter. We give these two beautiful plants as fair specimens of the flora of the southern hemisphere — as represented in the Jardin des Plantes.
In the same latitude, in the place at the beginning of the Boulevard St. Michel, against the wall of a corner house, rises the Fountain St. Michel, erected in 1860. This handsome monument, eighty-three feet in height, is in the form of a triumphal arch, in the Renaissance style, with a niche in the centre, containing a group, in bronze, of St. Michel subduing the Dragon, by Duret. Under the group is an artificial rock, from which the water falls into three basins, flanked with Griffins. On each side of the niche are columns in red marble, bearing statues of Truth, Prudence, Power, and Justice, in bronze. The monument terminates in an attic, surmounted with a pair of eagles with outstretched wings. The lowness of the monument is one of its chief defects.
Ascending the Boulevard St. Michel, we soon reach the Hotel de Cluny, of which we give a view taken from the principal court. At the close of the fifteenth century the abbots of the wealthy Benedictine Abbey of Cluny, in Burgundy, who possessed extensive landed property in Paris, but no suitable residence, caused a small mansion, the Hôtel de Cluny of the present day, to be erected on the site of an ancient Roman palace, founded by the Emperor Constantius Chlorus, who resided in Gaul from 292 to 306, and of which the Thermes, or Baths, still existing there, formed a part. This edifice still retains its mediæval exterior, and is a fine specimen of the transitorial style from Gothic to Renaissance. The abbots, who seldom resided in Paris, placed their mansion at the disposal of the kings of France, and it was accordingly occupied in 1515, soon after its completion, by Mary, sister of Henry VIII. of England, and widow of Louis XII. Her apartment is still termed " La Chambre de la Reine Blanche," it having been the custom of the queens of France to wear white mourning. The first Revolution converted this estate into national property, and in 1833 the Hôtel de Cluny came into the possession of M. du Sommerard, an enthusiastic archæologist, who fitted it up as a museum. On his death, in 1842, the edifice, with its valuable collection, was purchased by the government, and, united with the Roman Baths, which had hitherto belonged to the municipality of Paris, it now forms a very interesting Museum of Roman and Mediæval Antiquities. The court of the building is entered by a large gate, or by a postern under a low archway, pierced in a pinnacled wall, and framed with handsome sculptures. The principal building and the two wings have picturesque windows with mullions, an open balustrade, and dormers with admirably carved pediments. The façade is embellished with a tower, and the left wing with four large arches. The court at the back of the building communicates with the lofty vaulted chamber of the Thermes. The fact that this one hall, which was the Frigidarium, or apartment for cold baths, is sixty-five feet in length, thirty-seven feet in breadth, and fifty-six feet in height, will serve to convey some idea of the vast extent of the ancient Roman palace. The columns are adorned in many places with the figure of the prow of a vessel, which doubtless belonged to the arms of the Roman city of Lutetia, and probably gave rise to the ships in the armorial bearings of modern Paris.
The Garden of the Hôtel de Cluny, here represented, contains well-kept flowerbeds and pleasant shady walks. It is adorned with architectural fragments, some of which have been rescued from edifices demolished in the course of the metropolitan improvements.
On this left bank of the Seine, we have entered grave, serious Paris: no more elegance, no more beautiful horses, no more rich dresses, none of the never-ending fêtes. Even the young men that we meet on our road have no resemblance to the young men of the Bois de Boulogne and the Boulevards; indeed, at the present moment we have, without knowing it, ascended the learned hill; we have passed the studious heights of the Rue St. Jacques, we have brushed by the Sorbonne, the College of France, the Théâtre de l’Odéon — an edifice of a grave and unattractive character, chiefly devoted to the performance of classical drama. Thus we are passing through the midst of ancient Paris. Here is the Ecole de Médecine; higher up the Ecole de Droit, and higher yet the Ecole Polytechnique — three schools, which, between them, form almost the whole occupation of the French youth.
The pupil of the Polytechnic School you may recognize by his handsome uniform, the sword which he carries proudly by his side, and the profound glance which he throws upon every thing around him. He is the child of his works; before attaining the honor of wearing this dress, he has had to pass through much anxiety, much obstinate labor, and many sleepless nights. He is at once a military man and a civilian. He has only two years before him to complete his fortune; and if, unhappily, he is not considered capable of taking a part in either of the employments which the state destines for this school, he is ruined; his long studies become useless to him; his difficult labors have produced no results; he knows too much to obey, too little to command. Hence arises much anxiety for the pupil at the Polytechnic School; properly speaking he has no youth; he will be young by and by, if he has time.
We cannot say so much for the medical students and the students at law; these latter, on the contrary, begin by being young; whoever takes care of his youth, they will lavish it; and usually this sweet treasure is squandered in all kinds of idleness; easily excited passion, games of domino and billiards, balls at the Closerie des Lilas, duels, disputes, politics, and smoke. But, strange to say, when our student has led this life for two years, at the very moment when the pupil of the Polytechnic School is about to take his place among the engineers of the sappers and miners, in the high roads, or in the army, then, behold, our student renounces his pipe, his billiards, debts, and folly, and sets to work in earnest! He knows the hour is approaching when he must live by the labor, the bread of every day; when society will ask of him an account of the sacrifices she has made for him; but once at work, our young idler of yesterday advances with a giant’s step in the path of science. His aroused attention is eagerly turned to all the mysteries of physiology or the civil code; he studies day and night, and gains his object. French intelligence is so quick, the power of early education is so strong; this society, in which each plays personally, is so exactly formed for throwing out in bold relief virtue and vice, talent and ignorance, that one must, whether he likes it or not, obey so many public and private exigencies. Thus, however the moralists may cry and groan over the pretended depravity of French youth, you need not despair of these lively, clever minds, always ready to do more, in less than a year of zeal and perseverance, than would be expected of them at the end of three or four years of assiduity, patience, and labor.
In this elevated quarter of the Latin country, on these heights which possess their own style of beauty, and whose history is so full of learned and ancient remembrances we still find three buildings, which excite much interest and curiosity — the Pantheon, the Palace of the Luxembourg, and the Observatory.
The Pantheon, here represented, is one of the most imposing buildings in Paris. It stands on a slight eminence commanding the whole city, on the site of an ancient church erected in honor of St. Geneviève, the patron saint of Paris, who was interred there in 512. The present church was designed by Soufflot, the foundation-stone laid by Louis XV., in 1764, and the building completed in 1790. The Convention converted it into a kind of temple, and gave it the name of Pantheon; but, since 1851, the edifice has been restored to its sacred use under its original name of "Eglise Ste. Geneviève." The building. including the dome, and the lantern with its ten columns at the summit, is two hundred and ten feet in height. It is cruciform in shape, but otherwise hardly resembles a church. It is a good example of the Græco-Roman style of architecture, although in some respects open to criticism. The pediment above the portico, one hundred and seventeen feet in length and twenty-three feet in height, contains a fine group by David d’Angers. The Dome, notwithstanding its imposing dimensions, is not so effective as it was intended to be. Soufflot, the architect, is said to have died of chagrin on finding that the weight of the superstructure was too great for the columns destined to support it. Rondelet, his successor, before proceeding with the work, was obliged to substitute pillars, connected by massive arches, for the original columns.
If it please you, we will go now through the Palace and Garden of the Luxembourg, where we will pause, though not quite so long as at the Tuileries. The Palace of the Luxembourg is of Florentine origin; those who have never seen the Pitti Palace at Florence, tell you that the Pitti Palace was the model of the Luxembourg Palace, which, in fact, resembles it as much as a stone fountain resembles the Cataract of Niagara. However this may be, the Palace of the Luxembourg has a grand and imposing appearance.
This Palace, designed by the architect Desbrosse, by order of Marie de Medicis, in 1615, derives its name from the Duke of Pinay-Luxembourg, whose mansion formerly occupied the same site; and although various other names have been proposed, none of them has ever yet been permanently adopted. The Luxembourg is now occupied by the officers of the Préfet de la Seine. It also contains a Gallery of Works of Living Artists, consisting of paintings, sculptures, drawings, engravings, and lithographs. The works of the most distinguished masters are generally transferred to the Louvre about ten years after their death. The façade towards the garden — the one we give — is similar to the principal front, which rises opposite the Rue de Tournon, but it is more effective, owing to its more open situation.
On the whole, the building is one of the handsomest and most symmetrical in Paris, although somewhat heavy; but it is the Garden which is so beautiful and popular! A double terrace overlooks the whole; this is large, airy, and splendid. The trees are as old as the Garden of the Tuileries, and nothing can equal in beauty the collection of carnations and roses. In the centre of the Garden, in front of the Palace, are extensive flower-beds, enclosed by slopes with balustrades, and embellished with a large basin in the middle, with a group of children and a fountain. Beside this basin rise two columns in speckled Italian marble. The one, surmounted by a David, the conqueror of Goliath, is seen in our illustration of the Palace; the other, surmounted by a Nymph, is represented in the accompanying view of the Garden (see page 87). The terraces surrounding the Parterre are embellished with twenty modern statues, in marble, representing celebrated women connected with the history of France.
The dome-covered building, visible at the end of the avenue leading from the basin, and represented on the opposite page, is the Observatory, — a celebrated institution, founded in 1672. The dome, which is forty-two feet in diameter, is so constructed as to revolve round its vertical axis when required. About half way down the Avenue de l’Observatoire, at the point where the Garden of the Luxembourg — which has of late been considerably reduced in extent — formerly terminated, rises the Statue of Marshal Ney. This bronze Statue, designed by Rude, is not a successful work; the action is too violent, and the open mouth unpleasing. It stands on the spot where the Marshal was shot, in 1815, in execution of the sentence pronounced by the Chamber of Peers. Neither the courage of this hero, nor his gallant actions in so many and so difficult wars, nor the retreat of Moscow, saved by him, nor the interest and pity which filled all minds in view of his great misfortunes, — nothing could soften King Louis XVIII., who insisted upon his death, as though it were a point of honor. The Marshal, before his judges, found all his old courage. They wished to plead in his favor that he was not a Frenchman; but he cried out that he would not accept a life defended at such a price. He was condemned — he must die! They awoke him early, as though it had been the day of a battle. "Come," said he, "I’m ready!" The funeral procession silently crossed this same Garden of the Luxembourg, which is now trod by the light steps of so many joyous children under their mothers’ care. Arrived at the gate, the procession stopped. "Halt!" They obeyed. The Marshal himself took his place at the door, and there, erect, his eyes unbound, his hand upon his heart, he, for the last time, gave the word to fire. At the first discharge he fell dead. A few Sisters of Charity, who were passing, raised this brilliant soldier, this noble commander, this glorious remnant of the French army; a man whose name was worth a host, and whose death has only served to throw a sanguinary hue over the first years of the restoration.
Descending from the Luxembourg towards the Seine, we soon reach the Church St. Sulpice, the richest of the churches on the left bank of the Seine. This building, of great proportion, was begun in 1646, but not completed until a century later. The façade is open to criticism, being too wide for the church ; and the towers, which are two hundred and twenty-two feet in height, are unsymmetrical, in consequence, it is said, of a rule made by the former archbishops of Paris, that no church except Notre Dame should have a pair of towers of symmetrical design and equal height. The effect, however, is handsome. The place in front of the church is adorned by the Fountain St. Sulpice, designed by Visconti, and erected in 1847. It consists of three concentric basins, one above the other, and is embellished with statues of the four most celebrated preachers in France, — Bossuet, Fénélon, Massillon, and Fléchier.
Descending the Rue Bonaparte, from the Place St. Sulpice, we reach the River Seine, near the Palais de l’Institut, the celebrated building in which the members of the "Institut de France" hold their meetings. The front of this singular-looking edifice is in the form of a crescent, flanked with projecting wings with arcades, and surmounted by a dome in the centre. It was erected in the latter half of the seventeenth century, on the site of the "Tour de Nesle," where, according to tradition, Margaret of Burgundy, wife of Louis X., used to cause young strangers to be brought to minister to her pleasures, and afterwards to be assassinated and thrown into the Seine. The Institut de France, which consists of the most eminent literary and scientific men in France, embraces five departments, — the "Académie Française," the "Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres," the "Académis des Sciences," the "Académis des Beaux Arts," and the "Académis des Sciences Morales et Politiques." The title of "Membre de l’Institut" is the object of the highest ambition of every literary and scientific Frenchman.
Walking from this point along the quays, and giving only a glance, as we pass them, to the Palais des Beaux Arts, the Palais de la Legion d’Honneur, and the Palais du Corps Législatif, we at last reach, opposite the Champs E1ysées, a handsome place, bordered with several rows of trees, at the extremity of which rises the Hôtel des Invalides, — that splendid institution, founded by Louis XIV., to serve as a shelter for soldiers disabled by wounds, and those who have served for thirty years. Within the walls of this vast edifice, surrounded by cannon, — the cannon of féte-days and popular solemnities, — the old soldiers of France find an asylum worthy of their courage. There they live and die, under a law at once military and paternal. A marshal of France, an old warrior, maimed like the others, is the governor of this house, so that the chief and the soldiers, before reaching this house of repose, have met in the same battles, have run the same dangers. The lofty gilded Dome here represented, the summit of which is three hundred and thirty feet above the pavement, is one of the most conspicuous objects in Paris. It is almost entirely detached from the extensive Hôtel, which, however, appears from a distance to form its pedestal. It was gilded during the first empire, and again, by the electro-plating system, in 1861. Under its vaults the remains of Napoleon I., brought from St. Helena in 1840, have found their final resting-place.
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© 2001, by Lynn Waterman