Page images


Chap. Mademoiselle Delphine, in drawing and singing. I shall, X1V' perhaps, be pardoned for introducing a little impromptu compliment, which the pure, and unassuming merits of the youngest of the family, drew from my pen, in consequence of the conversation one evening, turning upon the indecorum of the tunic dress, amongst the elegantes of Paris.


Whilst art array'd in tunic robe,
Tries over fashion's gaudy globe,
To hold resistless force,
Thy merits shall impede her course,
For grace and nature gain in thee,
A chaste, decisive victory.

From the general wreck of property Monsieur S has

been fortunate enough to save a considerable portion of his former fortune. A similar favourable circumstance has, in general, rewarded the fortitude and constancy of those who, in the political storm, refused to seek a dastard safety by flight. Influenced by the reputation of the integrity, talents, and experience of Monsieur S , the first consul

has deservedly placed him at the head of the national accounts, which he manages with great advantage, and honour to the government. I was pressed to make this charming house my home. Upon a noble terrace, which communicated with the drawing room, and commanded a view of all the gayety, and fashion of the Italien Boulevard, which

moved MONS. S , AND FAMILY. 149

moved below us, in the circle of some of the most charm- Chap.

ing people of Paris, we used to enjoy the refreshing coolness'

of the evening, the graceful unpremeditated dance, or the sounds of enchanting music. In this happy spot all parties assembled. Those who had been divided by the ferocity of politics, here met in amiable intercourse. I have in the same room observed, the once pursuing republican conqueror, in social converse with the captive vendeean general, who had submitted to his prowess, and to the government. The sword was not merely sheathed—it was concealed in flowers. To please, and to be pleased; to charm, and to enlighten, by interchanges of pleasantry, and politeness, and talents, and acquirements, seemed alone to occupy the generous minds of this charming society. The remembrance of the hours which I passed under this roof, will afford my mind delight, as long as the faculty of memory remains, or until high honour, and munificent hospitality have lost their value, and genius and beauty, purity and elegance have no loDger any attractions.



Civility of a Sentinel. The Hall of the Legislative Assembly. British
House of Commons. Captain Bergetet. The Temple.Sir Sydney
Smith's Escape. Colonel Phillipeaux.

Chap. ONE morning, as I was entering the grand court of the hall xv' of the Legislative Assembly, I was stopped by a sentry. I told him I was an Englishman. He politely begged my pardon, and requested me to pass, and called one of the housekeepers to show me the apartments.

This magnificent pile is in the Fauxbourg St. Germain, and was formerly the palace of the Bourbons. After passing through a suite of splendid apartments, I entered, through lofty folding doors, into the hall, where the legislators assemble. It is a very spacious semicircular room, and much resembles, in its arrangements, the appearance of a splendid theatre before the stage. The ascent to the seat of the president is by a flight of light marble steps; the facing of his bureau is composed of the most costly marble, richly carved. On each side of the president's chair are seats for the secretaries; - and immediately below them is the tribune, into which the orator ascends to address the House. On each side of the seat of the president are antique statues of eminent patriots and orators, which are placed in niches in the wall. Under the tribune, upon the centre of the floor, is the altar of the country, upon which, in marble, is represented the book of the laws, resting upon


branches of olive. Behind it, upon semicircular seats, the Chap. legislators sit, at the back of whom are the boxes of the em- xv" bassadors, and officers of state, and immediately above them, within a colonnade of corinthian pillars, the public are admitted. Round the upper part of the cornice, a beautiful festoon of lilac coloured cloth, looped up with rich tassels, is suspended, for the purpose of correcting the vibration of the voice. The whole is very superb, and has cost the nation an immense sum of money. The principal housekeeper asked me "whether our speakers had such a place to declaim in," I told him, "that we had very great orators in England, but that "they were content to speak in very little places." He laughed, and observed, " that frenchmen never talked to so much ad"vantage as when their eye was pleased."

This man I found had been formerly one of the door keepers of the national assembly, and was present when, after having been impeached by Billaud, Panis, and their colleagues, Tallien discharged the pistol at Robespierre, whom he helped to support, until the monster was finally dispatched by the guillotine, on the memorable 9th of Thermidor.

The trench are amazingly fond of finery and stage effect. The solicitude which always first manifested itself after any political change in the course of the revolution, was the external decoration of each new puppet who, arrayed in the brief authority of the fleeting moment, was permitted to " play his fantastic "tricks before high Heaven."

The poor battered ark of government was left overturned, wider the protection of an escort of assassins, in the ensanguined 152 BRITISH HOUSE OF COMMONS.

Chap. guined mud, upon the reeking bodies of its former, headless,


'bearers, until its new supporters had adjusted the rival pretensions of silk and satin, and had consulted the pattern book of the lacem an in thechoice of their embroidery. On one side of the arch which leads into the antiroom of the legislative assembly, are suspended patterns and designs for tickets of admission to the sitting, elegantly framed, and near the same place, in a long gallery which leads to the dressing-rooms of the legislators, are boxes which contain the senatorial robes of the members. The meetings of our house of commons would inspire more awe, and veneration, if more attention was paid to decorum, and external decoration. A dignified and manly magnificence would not be unsuitable to the proceedings of the sanctuary of british laws, and the seat of unrivalled eloquence. What would a perfumed french legislator say, accustomed to rise in the rustling of embroidered silks, and gracefully holding in his hand, a cap of soft and showy plumes, to address himself to alabaster statues, glittering lustres, grecian chairs, festoons of drapery, and an audience of beings tricked out as fine as himself, were he to be suddenly transported into a poor and paltry room, meanly lighted, badly ventilated, and inconveniently arranged, and to be told that, in that spot, the representatives of the first nation in the world, legislated for her subjects? What would he say, wrere he to see and hear in the mean attire of jockeys and mechanics, such orators as Greece and Rome never saw or heard in the days of their most exalted glory; unfolding with the penetration of a subordinate Providence, the machinations of a dark


« PreviousContinue »