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• CHAP^ XV.] . / W,PRANCB. -.169
,this charming society.. The remembrance of the . .hours which I palled under this roof, will afford my , A>mind delight, as long as the faculty of memory re., mauw, or until high honor, and munisicent hospitalir ty have lost their Value, and genius and beauty, purity and elegance have no longer any attractions.,
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„" - . • CHAP. XV.
Civility of a Sentinel.—The Hallos the Legislative Af"". 'fimby.—^British House of Commons.—-Captain Bcrgeret.—The Temple.—Sir Sidney Smith'i Escape.— Colonel Phelipeaux..
, . ONE morning, as I was entering .the grand court of the hall of the Legiflative "Assembly, I was stopped by a centry. I told him I was an Englishman.. He politely begged my pardon, and requested me to pass, and called one of the housekeepers to show me
. the apartments.
: This magnisicent pile is in the Fauxbourg St. Germain and^ was formerly the palace of the Bourbons. Aster pasting through a suite of splendid apartments,
. I entered, through lofty folding doors, into the hall, where the legiflators assemble. It is a very spacious semicircular room, and much resembles, in its arrangements, the appearance of a splendid theatre before the stage. The ascent of the seat of the president is by a flight os light marble steps; the feeing of his bureau is composed of tlie moil costly marble, richly carved. On each side of the president's chair are feats for the secretaries; and immediately below them is the tribune, into which the orator ascends to address the House. On each side os the seat of the president are antique statues of eminent patriots and orators, which are placed in niches in the wall. Under the tribune, upon the centre of the floor, is the altar of the country, upon which, in marble, is represented the book of the laws, resting upon branches of olive. Behind it, upon semicircular seats, the legislators sit, at the back of whom are the boxes of the ambassadors and officers of state, and immediately above them, within a colonnade of Corinthian pillars the public arc admitted. Round the upper part of the cornice a beautiful festoon of lilac colored cloth, • looped up with rich tasiels, is suspended, for the purpose of correcting the vibration of the voice. The whole is very superb, and has cost the nation an immense sum of money. The principal housekeeper asked me " whether our speakers had such a place to x< declaim in," I told him, «that we had very great "orators in England, but that they were content to «* speak in very little places." He laughed, and observed, " that Frenchmen never talked to so much * advantage as when their eye was pleased." a !• Is
This man I found had been formerly one of the doorkeepers of the national assembly, and was present when, after having been impeached by Billaud, Panis, and their'colleagues, Tallien discharged his. pis-.
tol at Robespierre, whom he helped to support, until the monster was sinally di/patched by the gnillo* tine, on the memorable 9th Thermidor. * The French are amazingly fond of sinery and stage effect. The solicitude which always sirst manifested itself after any political change in the course of the revolution, was the external decoration of each new puppet, who, arrayed in the brief authority of the fleeting moment, was permitted to " play his fantaS** tic tricks before high Heaven."
The poor battered ark of government was leftoverturned, under the protection of an escort of assaffins, in the ensanguined mud, upon the reeking bodies, of its former, headless bearers, until its new supporters had adjusted the rival pretensions of silk and satin, and had consulted the pattern book of the laceman in the choice of their embroidery. On one side of the arch which leads into the antiroom of the legislative assembly, are suspended patterns and designs for tickets of admiffion to the sitting, elegantly framed; and near the fame place, in along gallery whichlea^s to the dressing-rooms of the legislators, are boxes which contain the senatorial robes of the members. The meetings of our house of commons would inspire more awe, and veneration, if more attention was paid' to decorum, and external decoration. A dignisied' and manly magnisicence would not be unsuitable to the proceedings of the sanctuary of British laws, and the feat of unrivalled eloquence. What would a perfumed French legislator fay, accustomed to rife in. the rustling os embroidered silks', and gracefully holding in his hand, a cap of soft and showy plumes, to acldress himself to alabaster statues, glittering lustres, Grecian chairs, festoons of drapery, and an audience of beings tricked out as sine as himsolf, were he to he suddenly transported into a poor' and paltry room, meanly lighted, badly ventilated, and inconveniently arranged, and to be told that, in that spot, the representative of the sirst nation in the world, legislated for her subjects ? What would he fay, were he to fee and hear in the mean attire of jockies and mechanics, such orators as Greece and Rome never saw or heard in the days of their most exalted glory i unfolding with the penetration of a subordinate Providence, the machinations of a dark and deep eonspira~. cy, erecting elaborate laws to shelter the good, against the enemies of repose, or hurling the thunder of their, eloquence against the common foes of their country^. The astonished Frenchman would very likely say, " I "always thought that the English were a straDge set "osbeings, but they now exceed the'powers of my tt comprehension, they can elicit wit in the midst of "gloom, and can fay such things in a plain unbrush"ed coat of blue cloth, as all the robes, plumes, - and « sinery of the republic, in her gaudy halls of deliberation, cannot inspire." , • . -r.'i *.." . ur: :l From the legislative assembly I went to pay my re,£. pacts to the gallant Capt. Bergeret, to whom I had letters of introduction. It will be immediately remembered, that this distinguished hero, in the Virginie, dis
CHAP. XV.J IN FRANCE. 178
played the most undaunted courage, wken she was engaged by Sir Edward Pellew, in the Indefatigable, to whose superior prowess and naval knowledge, he was obliged to strike the tricolor flag. His bravery and integrity have justly entitled him to the admira-, tion and -lasting. friendship of his noble conqueror, and to the esteem of the British nation. When Sir Sidney Smith was consined in the Temple, and captain Bergeret a prisoner in England, the latter was sent to France upon his parole, to endeavor to effect the exchange of Sir Sidney. The French government, which was then under the direction of some of the basest andrneanest of her tyrants, refused to listen' to the proposal; and at the same time, resisted-the return of their own countryman.
The gallant Bergeret was resolved to preserve his word of honor unsullied, or to perish in the attempt. Finding all his efforts to obtain the liberation of the illustrious captive unavailing, menaced with death if he departed,*,and invited by promised command and' promotion if he remained,. he contrived to quit his own country by stealth, and returned a voluntary exile to his generous and considing conquerors. .
From captain B- 's hotel I went to the Temple
so celebrated in the gloomy history of she revolution. . It stands in the Ruedu Temple, in the Fauxbourg of that name. The entrance is handsome, and does not much impress the idea of the approach to a place of. such consinement. Over the gates is a pole, support---
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