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178 BELLE VUE. — VERSAILLES.
Chap. S 's. We set off early in the morning, in one of the
XVI1* government carriages, and after a delightful ride, through a very rich, and luxuriant country, of about twelve miles, the vast, and magnificent palace of Versailles, opened upon our view, at the end of a street nearly two miles long, lined on each side with noble hotels, and gardens. It was on a Sunday, the day on which the palace is opened to the public. On the road, we passed several hundreds of persons in carriages, cabrioles, or walking; all with merry faces, in showy clothes, and adorned with bouquets, on their route to this spot of favourite delight.
About four miles from Paris we saw Belle Vue, formerly the residence of Mesdames; soon afterwards we passed the noble palace, and park of St. Cloud, which was preparing for the reception of the first consul.
At the entrance of the village of St. Cloud, on the left, after we had passed the bridge, we saw a very pretty house, and grounds, belonging to a tanner, who had amassed considerable wealth by a discovery of tanning leather in twenty-four hours, so as to render it fit for the currier. Whether he possesses this faculty or not, I cannot from my own experience say, but I can venture to affirm, that the leather of France is very bad. In the village is a very noble porcelain manufactory, which unfortunately we had not time to inspect.
Whilst our horses were refreshing themselves with a little water, we were beset by the agents of the different hotels, and restaurateurs of Versailles, who presented us with little
cards, announcing in a very pompous manner the superiority of their employers accommodations.
The stables of Versailles, to the right, and left, are from the designs of Mansart, in the form of a crescent, and have the appearance of princely residences. Here the late King kept in the greatest style six hundred of the finest horses. On the left of the grand gateway, is a military lodge for the accommodation of cavalry. It represents in shape, an immense turkish marquee. After we had passed the pallisades of the first court, we more distinctly saw this amazing pile of irregular buildings, which consists of the old castle, tlie new palaces, the houses of the ministers of state, and servants, two opera houses, the chapel, military schools, museums, and the manufactory of arms, the whole of which are now consolidated, and form one palace.
The beautiful pavement of black and white marble in the court yards, is much defaced, and their fountains are totally destroyed.
The first place we visited was the manufactory of small arms; the resident workmen in which exceed two thousand men. Here we saw all the ingenious process of constructing the musket, pistol, and sabre, of which there are an immense collection; and also several carbines, and swords of honour, intended as presents from the first consul to officers and soldiers of distinguished merit.
From the manufactory of small arms, we returned to the grand court, and entered a suite of rooms, which contain the relics of the former valuable cabinet of curiosities. Se
A A 2 veral
THE PALACE OF THE PETIT TRIANON.
removed to the musucm of the arts, in which the victories of Lewis the XlVth ate described, and asked him, whether the actions of king William were to be seen in his palace? No, sir, replied the loyal wit, " the monuments of my master's "glory are to be seen every where but in his own house."
Through the interest of Monsieur S we were admitted
into a private room below stairs, in which several portraits of the late royal family have been preserved from destruction, during the late revolution. That which represents the queen and her young family, is very fine, and displays all the bewitching beauty and vivacity of that lovely and unfortunate personage. Into this room no one was admitted with us. Here is a very curious piece of mechanism: it is a painting, containing two hundred little figures, in the act of enjoying the various pleasures of rural sport, which are separated from the back ground of the picture, and are set in motion by springs; and admirably imitate all the movements natural to their different occupations. A fisherman throws in his line, and draws up a little fish, a regular chase is displayed, and a nuptial procession appears, in which little figures, riding in tiny carriages, nod to the spectators. There are also many other curious figures. It is glazed and framed, and at a distance, when its motion has ceased, it has the appearance of a tolerably good painting. We next quitted the palace, and entered upon the grand terrace, from which it makes the finest appearance.
.This enormous pile of building is here united by a centre, . and corresponding wings, of great extent and magnificence.