Page images

■ 'PANTHEON. *"'

a balloon. I easily attained my object, by tracing the churches, the temple, the abbey, the palaces, large buildings, and the course and islands of the river, after which I seldom had occasion to retrace my steps, when I was roving about, unaccompanied. On account of no coal being used in Paris, the prospect was perfectly clear, and the air i6 consequently salubrious. The Pantheon, or church of St. Genevieve, is a magnificent building from the designs of Mons. Soufflet, one of the first architects of France: it was intended to be the rival of the St. Paul's of London; but, though a very noble edifice, it must fail of exciting any emotions of jealousy amongst the admirers of that national building. It is a magnificent pile, and when completed, is destined to be the principal place of worship, and is at present the mausoleum of the deceased great men of France. Upon the entablature over the portico is written, in immense characters, ** Aux Grands HommesLa Patrie Reconnoisante." Parallel with the grand entrance, are colossal statues, representing the virtues imputed to a republic. Soon after the completion of the inner dome, about two years since, one of the main supporting pillars was crushed in several places by the pressure. The defective column has been removed, and until it can be replaced, its proportion of weight is sustained by a most ingenious and complicated wooden structure. Upon the spot where the altar is to be erected, I saw another goddess of liberty, with her usual appendages carvecl in wood, and painted, and raised by the order of Robespierre, for a grand revolutionary fete, which he intended to have given, in this church, upon the very day in which he


Chap. perished. The interior dome is covered with two larger ones, each of which is supported by separate pillars, and pilasters, and the whole is constructed of stone only. The interior of the lower dome is covered with the most beautiful carvings in stone. The peristyle, or circular colonnade round the lower part of the exterior of the dome, is very fine, but I must confess, I do not like an ancient fashion which the french have just revived in their construction of these pillars, of making the thickest part of the column a little below the centre, and lessening in size to the base. Under this immense fabric are spacious vaults, well lighted; supported by doric pillars, the depositaries of the illustrious dead of France. At present there are only two personages whose relics are honoured with this gloomy distinction. Rousseau and Voltaire very quietly repose by the side of each other. Their remains are contained in two separate tombs, which are constructed of wood, and are embellished with various inscriptions. Hamjet's remark over the grave of Ophelia, strongly occurred to me.

"Where be your gibes now? your gambols? your songs? "your flashes of merriment that were wont to set the table on "a roar? not one now to mock your own grinning? quite "chapfallen?"

At either end of the tomb of Jean Jacques, are two hands, darting out of the gates of death, supporting lighted torches, and below, (it is a little singular) are inscriptions illustrating the peaceful, and benevolent virtues of the enclosed defunct!

Peace to their manes! may they enjoy more repose, than ^



that troubled world which their extraordinary, yet different Chap.


talents seemed equally destined to embellish and to embroil,' though it would be difficult to name any two modern writers, who have expressed, with more eloquence, a cordial love of peace, and a zealous desire to promote the interests of humanity!!

The church of St. Genevieve is entirely composed of stone and iron, of the latter very little is used. It has already cost the nation very near two millions sterling. As I was returning from the Pantheon, I was addressed by one of our emigrant companions, to whom I have before alluded. He had just arrived in Paris, intended staying about a month, and then returning to Toulon. He warmly made me an offer of his services, and during my stay here, sent every morning to know if he should attend me as a friendly guide, to conduct me to any place which I might wish to see, or to prevent me from suffering any imposition from tradesmen. His attentions to me were always agreeable, and sometimes serviceable, and strongly impressed upon my mind, the policy, as well as the pleasure, of treating every being with civility, even where first appearances are not favourable, and where an expectation of meeting the party again is not probable. In the course of

the day I was introduced to Madame B , who resides, by

permission of the first consul, in a suite of elegant apartments in the Louvre, which have been granted to her on account of her merits and genius, and also in consideration of the losses which she has sustained by the revolution. In her study she

presented me to Mademoiselle T , the then celebrated



Chap. beauty of Paris; her portrait by David, had afforded much 'conversation, in the fashionable circles; she was then copying, with great taste, from the antique, which is generally themorning's occupation of the french ladies of fashion. She is certainly a very handsome young woman: but I think if the painter of France was to visit a certain western county of England, he would discover as many attractions for the display of his admirable pencil, as were at this time to be found in the

study of Madame B . When we left her, Madame B

asked me what I thought of her; I candidly made the above remark to her, " Ah!" said she, " you should have seen her "about a month since, she was then the prettiest creature in "all France;" how so, has she suffered from indisposition?

"oh no," replied Madame B , smilingly, " but a month,

"you know, makes a considerable difference upon the face "of beauty."

I was much obliged to Madame B for the remark,

which is greatly within an observation which I have frequently made, on the evanescent nature of youthful beauty. Madame

B 's calculations of the given progress of decay, were

eighteen times more swift than mine. The subject of our conversation, and the busts by which we were surrounded, naturally led us to talk of the french ladies, and they reminded

us, though slightly, of their present dress. Madame B

entered into a particular account of the decorations of a lady «f fashion in France. I have not patience enough to enumerate them here, except that the wife of a fournisseur will not hesitate paying from three to four hundred pounds for a Cachemire PLACE DE CAROUSEL. — INFERNAL MACHINE. 95

mire shawl, nor from four to five hundred pounds for a laced Chap. gown, nor a much larger sum for diamonds cut like pearls, x' and threaded. In this costly manner, does the ingenuity of art, and the prodigality of wealth do homage to the elegance of nature. The entrance to Madame B 's apartments seemed at

first, a little singular and unsuitable, but I soon found that it was no unusual circumstance, after groping through dirty passages, and up filthy staircases to enter a noble hall and splendid rooms.

Upon leaving Madame B I passed the Place de Carousel, and saw the ruins of the houses, which suffered by the explosion of the infernal machine, which afforded so much conversation in the world at the time, by which the first consul was intended to have been destroyed in his way to the National Institute of Music. This affair has been somewhat involved in mystery. It is now well known that Monsieur Fouchd, at the head of the police, was acquainted with this conspiracy from its first conception, and by his vigilant agents, was informed of the daily progress made in the construction of this destructive instrument, of the plan of which he had even a copy. The conspirators proceeded with perfect confidence, and as they thought with perfect security. Three days before it was quite completed, and ready for its fell purpose, from some surprise or dread of detection, they changed their place of meeting, and in one night removed the machine from the spot where it had been usually deposited. The penetrating eye of the police lost sight of them. Fouche, and his followers exercised their unrivalled talents for pursuit and discovery to no purpose. The baffled minister then waited upon Bonaparte, to whom he had


« PreviousContinue »