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PALACE OF THE CONSERVATIVE SENATE. 193
race, were some prodigious astronomical apparatus. A very Chap. ingenious frame was then constructing, for elevating, or de- xvni' pressing the astronomer, and the telescope at the same time, by an easy, and simple process of machinery. The Observatory is a noble building, and contains libraries, students rooms, and apartments for the various artificers, and machinists who are occupied in fabricating the apparatus, and instruments necessary to the science of astronomy. From the exterior of the dome, there is a fine view of the city, suburbs, and country.
From the Observatory, I visited the Conservative Senate, formerly the Palace of the Luxembourg. The back of this beautiful building is in the Rue de Vaugirand, in the Fauxbourg of St. Germains. The gardens of this noble pile, are receiving great improvement, and alteration, from designs which have been approved of by the first consul, who in his wise policy, intends that they shall, in time, rival those of the Thuilleries, for the purpose of affording an elegant, and fashionable promenade to the people who reside in this part of the capital, who are considerably removed from the beautiful walks which adorn the consular palace. Here I saw the Hall of Deliberation, in which the Conservative Senate assembles. It is nothing more than a large, handsome drawing-room, in which are placed, upon rising platforms, eixty armed chairs, for so many members, the chair of the president, and the tribune. This magnificent palace is repairing, and fitting up for the residence, and accommodation of its members. I was introduced to the artist who has the
c c care
194• TRANSFERRING OIL PAINTINGS FROM WOOD TO CANVAS.
Chap• care of the gallery here, and who, with his assistants, was xvm• very busily occupied in a process for removing the oil colours of a painting from wood, and transferring them to canvas. He received me with great politeness, and explained to me the mode of doing it, in which there appeared to be more toil, nicety, and steadiness required, than ingenuity.
The painting is laid upon a cloth stretched upon a marble slab, and the wood behind is shaved off until nothing but the picture, like a flat cake, or rather a sheet of goldbeater's skin, remains, a piece of canvas coated with a cement is then placed upon it, to which it adheres, and presents all the appearance of having been originally painted upon it. The pictures from the subject of St. Bruno, were then undergoing this operation.
The apartments in which these people were at work, presented very convincing indications of the mutability of human ambition.
This palace was allotted to the celebrated Council of Five Hundred. During their ephemeral reign, these very rooms were designed for their halls of audience, and levees, the rich mouldings, and cornices of which were half gilt, and covered with silver paper to preserve them: the poor council were never indulged in a house warming.
The pictures, which were collected by Henry IV, and deposited in the gallery there, which bears bis name, are said to be valuable. I did not see them, on account of their having been removed into store rooms during the repairs of the palace.
It THE DINNER KNIFE.
It was late when I left the Luxembourg, and somewhat exhausted for want of refreshment, I determined upon dining at the first restaurateur's which I could meet with, instead of going to the Gardens of the Thuilleries. To find such an accommodation in Paris, is no difficult thing. A stranger would naturally suppose, from the frequency with which the words caffe, limonade, and restaurateur present themselves to the eye, that three parts of the inhabitants had turned their talents to the valuable study of relieving the cravings of an empty stomach.
I had not moved three yards down the Rue de Tournon, before, on my left, I saw the welcome board which, in large golden characters, announced the very best entertainment within. At this moment, the celebrated picture of the banquet in the Louvre, could scarely have afforded me more delight. I hac( an excellent dinner, wine, and fruit for four livres. In the course of my repast, I begged that a knife, might be permitted to aid the services of a three pronged silver fork, which graced my plate on the left. After rather a laborious search, my wishes were gratified by an instrument, which certainly was entitled to the name of one, but was assuredly not. the handsomest of its species. Whether there had been any dispute between the handle, and the blade, I know not, but there were very evident appearances of an approaching separation. Not wishing to augment the rupture, between two personages so necessary to each others service, and to those who were to be benefitted by it, I begged of my fair hostess, who, with two pretty girls (her
c c 2 daughters). 190 THE SINNER KNIFE.
Chap. daughters), were picking the stalks from some strawberries, xv In" which were intended for my desert, at the other end of the room, that she would favour me with another knife. The maitresse d'hotel, who had a pair of fine dark expressive eyes, very archly said, "Why would you wish to change it, Sir? "it is an english one." It certainly looked like one; no compliment could be neater. Whether I gave it too great a latitude of interpretation, I will not pretend to say, but it led me into such a train of happy comparative thinking, that I ate my dinner with it very comfortably, without saying another word. I have since thought, that the maitresse d'hotel had not another knife in her house, but what was in use.
In France, I have before had occasion to remark, that fanciful notions of excessive delicacy, are not permitted to interfere with comfort, and convenience. Amongst these people, every thing turns upon the principle of accommodation. To this motive I attribute the frequent exhibition, over the doors of respectable looking houses, in the fashionable walks, and in different parts of Paris, of the following characters, "Commodites pour Hommes, et Femmes." An english prude would start to read these words. I mention this circumstance, for the purpose of communicating some idea of the people, convinced, as I well am, that it is only by detail, that we can become acquainted with the peculiar characteristics of any community.
I very often passed by the ci-devant Hall of the National Convention; in which the,hapless king and queen were
HALL OF THE NATIONAL CONVENTION. 197
doomed to the scaffold, where murder was legitimated, reli- Chap. gion denounced, and the grave declared to be the bed of XVI11' eternal repose.
In vindication of the ways of eternal justice, even upon earth, this polluted pile is participating the fate of its devoted members.
Those walls which once resounded with the florid, heightened declamation of republican visionaries, the most worthless, imposing, and desperate of mankind, are prevented, for a short time, by a few crazy props, from covering the earth below with their dust and ruins. The famed temple of the Goddess of Liberty, is not tenantable enough to cover the Babel Deity from the peltings of the midnight storm.
Where is now the enthusiastic Gironde, where the volcanic mountain, the fiery, and eloquent Mirabeau, the wily Brissot, the atheistic Lequinios, the remorseless Marat, the bloody St. Just, and the chief of the deplumed and fallen legions of equality? All is desolate and silent. The gaping planks of the guillotine are imbued with their last traces. The haunt of the banditti is uncovered. The revolution has preyed upon her own children, and metaphysical murdeters have perished by the daggers of speculative republicans.
About two years since this place was converted into a menagerie. The cave, and the wilderness, the desert, and the jungle, presented to the eye of the beholder, representative successors of those savages who, with more powers and more ferocity, were once enclosed within the same den. From the remembrance of such miscreants, I turn, with increased satisfaction,