Page images
PDF
EPUB

INFERNAL MACHINE. — FOUCHE. \ ■!

regularly imparted the result of every day's information respecting it, and told him that he could no longer trace the traiterous instrument of his assassination, and requested him, as. he knew it must he completed hy this time, not to go to any public places, until he had regained a knowledge of it. Bonaparte replied, that fear only made cowards, and conspirators brave, and that he had unalterably determined to go with his accustomed equipage to the National Concert that very evening. At the usual hour the first consul set off undismayed from the Thuilleries, a description of the machine, which was made to resemble a water cask, being first given to the coachman, servants, and guards. As they proceeded, the advance guard passed it unobserved, but the coachman discovered it just as the consular carriage was on a parallel with it; instantly the dexterous and faithful charioteer lashed his horses into full speed, and turned the corner of the Rue Marcem. In one moment after, the terrible machine exploded, and covered the street with ruins. The thunder of its discharge shook the houses of Paris, and was heard at a considerable distance in the country. The first consul arrived in safety at the Hall of Music, and with every appearance of perfect tranquillity, entered his box amidst the acclamations of the crowded multitude. The range of buildings which was shattered by the explosion, has long offended the eye of taste, and presented a gloomy, and very inconvenient obstruction to the grand entrance of the palace. Bonaparte, with his usual judgment, which converts every event into some good, immediately after this affair, purchased the houses which were damaged, and the whole of this scene of

ruins SEINE. WASHERWOMEN.

ruins and rubbish is removing with all possible expedition, to
the great improvement of this grand approach.
""Whilst I was strolling along the banks of the Seine, I could
not help remarking that it would suffer much by a comparison
with the Thames, so finely described by sir John Denham—

Though deep, yet clear, though gentle yet not dull:
Strong without rage, without o'erflowing full.

>

The Seine is narrow, and very dirty; its waters, which are finely filtrated when drawn from the fountains of Paris, produce an aperient effect upon strangers, who are generally cautioned not to drink much of them at a time.

The tide does not reach further than several miles below Paris; to this cause I can alone attribute, though perhaps the reason is insufficient, that the river is never rendered gay by the passing, 'and repassing of beautiful pleasure boats, to the delights of which the parisians seem total strangers. Its shores are sadly disfigured by a number of black, gloomy, and unwieldy sheds, which arc erected upon barges, for the accommodation of the washerwomen, who, by their mode of washing, which is, by rubbing the linen in the river watery and beating it with large flat pieces of wood, resembling battledores, until the dirt, and generally a portion of the linen retire together, make a noise very similar to that of ship* Wrights caulking a vessel. This is an abominable nuisance, and renders the view up the river, from the centre of the Pont dd la Concorde, the most complete melange of filth ami fincryy

o meanness 100 BATHS.

Chap. an agreeable walk upon the water, and is decorated with x' shrubs, orange trees, and flowers, on each side.

This place is very grateful in a climate which, in summer, is intensely warm. There are other public baths, but this is chiefly resorted to by people of respectability. The price is very moderate, thirty sols.

CHAP.

[ocr errors]

CHAPTER XL

David. Place de la Concorde. L'Eglise de Madeleine.Printshops. Notre Dame. Museum or Palace of Arts. Hall of Statues. Laocoon. Belvidere Apollo. Socrates.

DURING my stay in Paris I visited the gallery of David. Chap. This celebrated artist has amassed a fortune of upwards of two x1. hundred thousand pounds, and is permitted by his great patron, and friend Bonaparte, to occupy the corner wing of the old palace, from which every other man of genius and science, who was entitled to reside there, has been removed to other places, in order to make room for the reception of the grand National Library, which the first consul intends to have deposited there. His apartments are very magnificent, and furnished in that taste, which he has, by the influence of his fame, and his elegance of design, so widely, and successfully diffused. Whilst I was seated in his rooms, I could not help fancying myself a contemporary of the most tasteful times of Greece. Tunics and robes were carelessly but gracefully thrown over the antique chairs, which were surrounded by elegant statues, and ancient libraries, so disposed, as to perfect the classical illusion. I found David in his garden, putting in the back ground of a painting. He wore a dirty robe, and an old hat. His eyes are dark and penetrating, and beam with the lustre of genius. His collection of paintings and statues, and many of his own studies, afforded a perfect banquet.

He

102 DAVID.

Chap. He was then occupied in drawing a fine portrait of Bonaparte. 'The presence of David covered the gratification with gloom. Before me, in the bosom of that art, which is said, with her divine associates, to soften the souls of men, I beheld the remorseless judge of his sovereign, the destroyer of his brethren in art, and the enthusiast and confidential friend of Robespierre. David's political life is too well known. During the late scenes of horror, he was asked by an acquaintance, how many heads had fallen upon the scaffold that day, to which he is said coolly to have replied, "only one hundred and hventy!! u The heads of twenty thousand more must fall before the "great work of philosophy can be accomplished."

It is related of him, that during the reign of the Mountain, he carried his portfolio to the front of the scaffold, to catch the last emotions of expiring nature, from the victims of his revolutionary rage.

He directed and presided at the splendid funeral solemnities of Lepelletier, who was assassinated by Paris, in which his taste and intimate knowledge of the ceremonies of the ancients, on similar occasions, were eminently displayed.

Farewell, David! when years have rolled away, and time has mellowed the works of thy sublime pencil, mayst thou be remembered only as their creator; may thy fame repose herself upon the tableau of the dying Socrates, and the miraculous passage of the. Alpine hero, may the ensanguined records of thy political frenzy, .moulder away, and may science, who knew not blood till thou wert known, whose pure, and hallowed inspirations have made men happier, and better, till

thou

« PreviousContinue »