« PreviousContinue »
subject of curiosity. I was overpowered with questions respecting this great man, which in their minute detail, extended to ascertain what was the color of his eye, the shape of his nose, and whether in a morning he wore hussar boots, or shoes. This little circumstance could not fail of proving pleasant to an Englishman. They informed me, that throughout the war, they regularly read in their own diurnal prints, our parliamentary debates, and the general outline of most of our political schemes, which were furnished by people in the pay of the French government, who resided in England notwithstanding the severity of the legislative, and the vigilance of the executive authorities. Whilst I am mentioning the subject of newspaper intercourse, I cannot help lamenting, that since the renewal of national friendship, the public prints o,f both countries are not more under the influence of cordiality and good humor.
The liberty of the press is the palladium of reason, the distributor of light and learning, the public and undismayed asserter of interdicted truth. It is the body and the J,onor guard of civil and political liberty. Where the laws halt with dread, the freedom of the press advances, and with the subtle activity of conscience, penetrates the fortissied recesses and writes its fearful sentence on the palace -wall of recoiling tyrants. As an Englishman, my expiring sigh should be breathed for its preservation i but as an admirer of social repose and national liberty, I regret to see CHAP. XII.J IN TRANCE. 1S5
its noble energies engaged in the degrading service of fretful spleen, and ungenerous animadversion. When the horizon is no longer blackened with the smoke of the battle, it is unworthy of two mighty empires to carry on an ignoble war of words. If peace is their wish, let them manifest the great and enlightened sentiment in all its purity, and disdain to in it ate each other by acts of petulent and provoking recrimination. .. ;.
A short time preceding my arrival in France, Bonaparte had rendered himself very popular amongst the constitutional clergy, by a well timed compliment to the metropolitan archbishop. The sirst consul gave a grand dinner to this dignisied prelate, and to several of his brethren. After the entertainment, Bonaparte addressed the archbishop by observing, that as he had given directions for the repairing of the archiepiscopal palace, he should very much like to take . a ride in the archbishop's carriage, to fee thepro
I gress which the workmen had made. The prelate bowed to the sirst consul, and informed him that he had no carriage, otherwise he should be much .flattered by conducting him thither. Bonaparte good humoredly said, " how can that be? your coach has been waiting at the gate this half hour," and immediately led the venerable archbishop down the steps of the Thuilleries, where he found a plain handsome carriage, with a valuable pair os horses, and a
. coachman, and footnaen dressed in livery which Bonaparte had just before informed him would be allotted to him, when his establishment was completed. The whole was a present from the private purse of the sirst consul. Upon their arrival at the palace, the archbishop was agreeably surprised by sinding that the most minute, and liberal attention had been paid to his comfort and accommodation.
The clergy seem to be in favor with Bonaparte. When he affisted in the last spring at the inauguration .os the archbishop of Paris, in the metropolitan church of Notra Dame, and ga\e to the restoration »f religion « all the circumstance of pomp" and military parade, he was defirous of having the colors of his regiment consecrated by the holy prelate, and submitted his withes to his soldiers. A few days afterwards, a deputation waited upon their general . in chief, with this reply, " Our banners have already '« been consecrated by the blood of our enemies at "Marengo; the benediction of a priest cannot ren« der them more sacred in our eyes, nor more animtt ating in the time of battle." Bonaparte prudently submitted himself to their prætorian resolution, and the consular colors remain to this hour in the fame uncbriftianlihe condition as when they sirst waved at the head of their victorious legions. This anecdote will in some degree prove a fact which, notwithstanding the counter reports of English newspapers) I found every where consirmed, that although religion is uc-w to the French, yet that the novelty has at pres
XKAP. XE.] ^... IN FRANCE. 1ST
ent but little charm for them. I had frequent opportunity of making this remark, as well in the capital as in the departments of the republic through which I pafledi In Paris, the Sabbath can only be considered as a day of diffipation to the lovers of gaiety, and a. day of unusual prosit to the man of •trade. Here, it is true, upon, particular festival days, considerable bodies of people are to be seen in the act of worship, but curiosity and the. love of shew assemble them together, if. it was otherwise their attendance would be-more numerous and regular. The sirst consul does not seem to possess much fashionable influence over the French in matters of religion, otherwise!-as he has the credit, of attending, mass, with very pious punctuality, in. his private chapel at Mai Maison, it might be rather expected, that devotion would become a little more,familiar to the people..
Upon another subject, the will os the chief magistrate has been equally unfortunate. To the few ladies who are admitted into his social circles, he has declared himself an enemy to that dress,, or undress (I am puzzled to know what to call it) which his friend David, has so successfully recommended. for the purpose of displaying, with the. least poffible restraint, the sine proportions of the female form. Madame Bonaparte, who is considered to be in as gooda state-of subordination, to,her ywig husband, as the consular regLnent k,. to their young general, contrives to exhibit her elegant person to the greatest. M-2fi
advantage; by adopting a Judicious arid graceful medium of dress by which she tastefully avoids-a load of decoration, which repels the eye by two dense a covering, and that questionable airiness of ornament which by its gracious and unrestrained display, deprives the imagination of more than half its pleasures. Bonaparte is said not to be indifferent to those affections which do honor to the breast which cherishes them, nor to the morals of the people whom he govr ems.
It is well known that in France, in the house of a new fashionable couple, separate chambers are always reserved for the faithful pair, which after the solemnities of marriage very seldom remain long unoccupied. The sirst consul considers such separation as unfriendly to morals. A few months since, by a well 'timed display of assumed ignorance, he endeavored to give fashion to a sentiment which may in time reduce the number of these family accommodations. The noble palace of St, Cloud was at this time preparing for him; the principal architect requested erf him to point out in what part of the palace he would wish to have his separate sleeping room. "I do not know what you mean," said the young imperial philosopher, "crimes only divide the husband and "his wife. Make as many bed rooms as you please, ,' ** but only one for me and Madame Bonaparte."
I must now quit the dazzling splendor of imperial virtues for the more tranquil, but not less fascinating appearance of retired and modest merit.