Page images
PDF
EPUB

CONSULAR GUARD.

and the third for coffee. In the middle is a flying staircase, lined on each side with orange trees, which ascends into a suite of upper dinner rooms, all of which are admirably painted after the taste of the Herculaneum, and are almost lined with costly pier glasses.

My fair countrywomen would perhaps be a little surprised to be told, that elegant women, of the first respectability, superbly dressed for the promenade, dine here with their friends in the public room, a custom which renders the scene delightful, and removes from it the accustomed impressions of grossness. Upon entering, the guest is presented with a dinner chart, handsomely printed, enumerating the different dishes provided for that day, with their respective prices affixed. All the people who frequent this place are considered highly respectable. The visitor is furnished with ice for his water decanters, with the best attendance at dinner, and with all the english and foreign newspaper. I always dined here when 1

was not engaged. After parting from Madame H , who

intended returning to town the next day, I went to see the consular guard relieved at the Thuilleries. About five companies of this distinguished regiment assemble in the gardens, exactly at five minutes- before twelve o'clock, and, preceded by their fine band of music, march through the hall of the palace, and form the line in the grand court yard before it, where they are joined by a squadron of horse. Their uniform is blue, with broad white facings.

The consular guard were in a little disgrace, and were not permitted to do the entire duty of the palace at this time,

M nor

CONSULAR GUARD. MUSIC.

nor during several succeeding days, as a mark of the first consul's displeasure, which had been excited by some unguarded expression of the common men, respecting his conduct, and which, to the jealous ear of a new created and untried authority, sounded like the tone of disaffection. Only the cavalry were allowed to mount guard, the infantry were, provisionally, superseded by a detachment from a fine Regiment of hussars. On account of the shortness of this parade, w hich is always dismissed precisely at ten minutes past twelve o'clock, it is not much attended. The band is very fine, they had a turkish military instrument, which I never heard before, and was used instead of triangles. It was in the shape of four canopies, like the roofs of Chinese temples, one above another, lessening as they ascended, made of thin plates of brass, and fringed with very little brass bells, it was supported by a sliding rod which dropped into a handle, out of which, when it was intended to be sounded, it was suddenly jerked by the musician, and produced a good effect with the other instruments. The tambour major is remarked for his noble appearance, and for the proportions of his person, which is very handsome: his full dress uniform on the grand parade is the most splendid thing, I ever beheld. The corps of pioneers who precede the regiment, have a singular appearance. These men are rather above six feet high, and proportionably made, they wear fierce mustachios, and long black beards, lofty bear skin caps, broad white leathern aprons, which almost touch their chins, and over their shoulders carry enormous hatchets. Their strange costume seemed to unite the dissimilar MUSIC. VENETIAN HORSES. GATES OF THE PALACE. 83

milar characters of high priest, and warrior. They looked Chap. like military magi. The common men made a very martial IXi appearance. Their officers wore english riding boots, which had an unmilitary effect. Paris at present exhibits all the appearances of a city in a state of siege. The consular palace resembles a line of magnificent barracks, at the balconies, and upon the terraces of which, soldiers are every where to be seen lounging. This palace is partitioned between the first and second consuls, the third principal magistrate resides in a palace near the Louvre, opposite to tho Thuilleries. The four colossal brazen horses, called the venetian horses, which have been brought from Venice, arc mounted upon lofty pedestals, on each side of the gates of the grand court yard of the palace. When the roman emperor Constantine founded Constantinople, he attached these exquisite statues to the chariot of the Sun in the hippodromus, or circus, and when that capital was taken possession of by the venetian and french crusading armies, in 120(5, the venetians obtained possession of them, amongst many other inestimable curiosities, and placed these horses in four niches over the great door of the church of St. Marco. Respecting their previous history, authors very much differ; some assert that they were cast by the great statuary Lysippus, in Alexander's time, others that they were raised over the triumphal arch of Augustus, others of Nero, and thence removed to the triumphal arch of Constantine, from which he carried thein to his own capital.

They are said to be composed of bronze and gold, which much resembles the famous composition of the corinthian

M 2 brass.

84• GARDENS OF THE THUILLERIES. STATUES.

Chap. brass. Although these statues are of an enormous size, they

IX • • • •

'are too diminutive for the vast pile of building which they adorn. The same remark applies to the entrance gates, of massy iron, which have just been raised by the directions of the first consul. The tricolour flag, mounted upon the centre dome of the palace, is also too small. From the court yard I entered the gardens, which are very beautiful, and about seven o'clock in the evening, form one of the favourite and fashionable walks of the parisians. They are disposed in regular promenades, in which are many fine casts from the ancient statues, which adorn the hall of antiques, and on each side are noble orange trees, which grow in vast moveable cases; many of these exotics are twenty feet high. Until lately many of the antiques were placed here, but Bonaparte, with his accustomed judgment and veneration for the arts, has had them removed into the grand national collection, and has supplied their places by these beautiful copies, amongst which I particularly distinguished those of Hippomanes, and Atalanta, for the beauty of their proportions, and the exquisite elucidation of their story. Here are also some fine basins of water, in the middle of which are jets d'eau. The gravel walks of the gardens are watered every morning in hot weather, and centinels are stationed at every avenue, to preserve order: no person is admitted who is the carrier of a parcel, however small. Here are groups of people to be seen, every morning, reading the prints of the day, in the refreshing coolness of the shade. For the use of a chair in the gardens, of which there arc some hundreds, the proprietor is thankful for the smallest coin of the republic.

At

[ocr errors]

THE FAITHFUL VASE. — THE SABINE PICTURE. 85

At the bottom of the steps, leading to the terrace, in front of Chap. the palace, are some beautiful vases, of an immense size, which' are raised about twelve feet from the ground: in one of them, which was pointed out to me, an unpopular and persecuted Parisian saved nearly all his property, during the revolution. A short time before the massacre of the 10th of August, 1792, when the domiciliary visits became frequent and keen, this man, during a dark night, stole, unobserved by the guards, into the garden, with a bag under his arm, containing almost all his treasure; he made his way to the vase, which, from the palace, is on the right hand, next to the Feuillans, and, after some difficulty, committed the whole to the capacious bosom of the faithful depositary: this done, he retreated in safety; and when the time of terrour was passed, fearful that he should not be able to raise his bag from the deep bottom of the urn without a discovery, which might have rendered the circumstance suspicious, and perhaps hazardous to him, he presented himself before the minister of the police, verified the narrative of the facts, and was placed in the quiet possession of his property, which in this manner had remained undisturbed during all that frightful period. From the gardens I went to the exhibition of David's celebrated painting of the suspension of the battle between the Sabines and the Romans, produced by the wives of the latter rushing, with their children in their arms, between the approaching warriors. David is deservedly considered as the first living artist in France, and this splendid picture is worthy of his pencil. It is upon an immense scale. All the Figures (of which there are many) are as large as life. The principal

female

« PreviousContinue »