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CHIP- XVILJ , „- IN FUANCfi. , 190
i At the entrance of the village of St. Cloud, on th« left, after we had. passed the bridge, w-e saw a verypretty house, and grounds, belonging to a tanner, who had amassed considerable wealth by a discovery of tanning leather in twenty-four hours, so as to render it sit for the currier. Whether he possesses this faculty or not, I cannot from my own experience lay, but I can venture to affirm, that the leather of France is very bad. In the village is a very noble porcelain manufactory, which unfortunately we had not time to inspect..:, 7,
Whilst our horses were refreshing themselves with a little water, we were beset by the agents of the different hotels, and restaurateurs of Versailles, who presented us with little cards, announcing in a very pompous manner the superiority of their employers accommodations. .?, ,,- ,, , .
The stables of Versailles, to the right, and left, are from the designs of Mansart, in the form of a crescent, and have the appearance of princely residences. Here the late King kept in the greatest style six, hundred of the sinest horses. On the left of the grand gateway, ba military lodge for the accommodation of cavalry. It represents in shape, an immense Turkish marquee. After we had pasted the pallisades of the sirst court, we more distinctly law this amazing pile of irregular buildings, which consists of the old castle, the new palaces, the houses of the ministers o£ state, and ser^ vants, two opera houses, the chapel, military schools*. museums, and the manufactory of arms, the whole of which are now consolidated, and form one palace.
The beautiful, pavement of black and white marble in the court yards, is much defaced, and their fountains are totally destroyed.
The sirst place we visited was the manufactory of small arms ; the resident workmen in which exceed two thousand men. Here we saw all the ingenious process of constructing the musket, pistol, and sabre, of which there are an immense collection; and tlso several carbines, and swords of honor, intended as , [ presents from the sirst consul to officers and soldiersof distinguished merit.
From the manufactory of small arms, we returned to the grand court, and entered a suite of rooms, which contain the relics of the former valuable cabinet or curiosities. Several of those which we saw, were worthy of atteHtion. From these rooms, we passed to the late king's private opera house^vhich surpasses in magnisicence, and costly decoration, every thing of the kind I ever ,beheld. The facing of the whole of the inside is of carved wood, richly gilt. The dome is beautifully painted. Upon the scenery of the stage being removed, and temporary columns, and galleries raised ; all of which can be effected in twenty-four hours, that part of the theatre presents a counterpart of the other, and the whole forms a most splendid oblong ball room, very deservedly considered to be the sinest in Europe : it used to be Hluminated by ten thoa*CHAP. XVII.] , , IX, FRANCE. ,.?01
sand wax lights. The concert rooms, and retiring apartments are also very beautiful. From the opera, we visited the chapel, which is very sine, and costly, inwhich there are many large, and valuable paintings. After leaving this deserted place of royal worship, we passed through the Halls of Plenty, Venus, Mars, Mercury, Apollo, and the Hall of the Billiard Table, 'sinely painted by Houasse, le Brun, Cfiampagoe, and ether eminent artists, to the grand gallery, which is seventy-two yards long, and fourteen broad, and has seventeen lofty windows on one side, which look into the gardens, and* seventeen immense pier glasses on the opposite side to correspond. In this gallery, the kings of France were accustomed to receive ambassadors, and ministers of state.
We next entered the bedroom of the late queen and beheld the door, which, on the night of the 6th October, 1789, the frantic, and sanguinary mob, headed by the infamous Legendre, burst open, for the purpose of dispatching her with daggers, in her bed, on that frightful night, which preceded the return of the royal family to Paris, under the protection of the marquis de la Fayette, threugh an enraged multitude, which extended itself siom Versailles to Paris.
The miserable queen saved herself by escaping into an adjoining apartment. Her bed was pierced through and through with poignards. The door is nailed up, but the marks of that horrible outrage still remain. In this, and in the adjoining chambers, are some very beautiful and valuable paintings. I must not omit to mention* although the sentiment which it inspires is not very pleasant, the representation of the capture of an English frigate, by la Bayonne, a French corvette* aster a desperate engagement, in which victory for once decided in favor of the enemy, who opposed, on this occasion, an inferior force. This is a picture of insinite merit, and possesies a novelty of arrangement, and strength of coloring, which I never saw equalled in any other naval representation. The subject seldom admits of much variety. The French, of course, are very much pleased with it. There are here also, some curious old clocks.
It was in one of these apartments, that Prior, the celebrated poet, when secretary to the earl of Portland, who was appointed ambassador to the French Court, in the year 1698, made the following memo*, rable answer.
One of thai French king's household was showing the bard the rbyal apartments and curiosities of this palace, and particularly pointed out to his notice, the paintings of le Brun, now removed to the mufc .eum of the arts, in which the victories of Lewis the XIV. are described, and asked him whether the actions of king William were to he seen in his palace ? No, sir, replied the loyal wit, the monuments "of my master's glory are to be seen every where but "in his own house." u .:: ,•, . . '-t ;/.•:':
Through the interest of Monsieur S—-, we were CHAP. XVEUJ IH CHANCE.
admitted into a private room below stairs, in which several portraits of the late royal family have been preserved from ..destruction, during the late revolution. That which represents the queen and her young family, is very sine, and displays all the bewitching beauty and vivacity of that lovely and nnfortBnate personage. Into this room no one was admitted with us. Here is a very curious piece of mechanism : it is a painting, containing two hundred little sigures, in the 'act; of enjoying the various pleasures of rural sport, which are separated from the back ground of the picture, and are set in motion by springs; and admirably imitate all the movements natural to their different occupations. A sisherman throws m his line and draws up a little sish, a regular chafe is displayed and a nuptial procession appears, in which little sigures, riding in tiny carriages, nod to the spectators. There are also many other curious sigures. It is glazed and framed, and at a distance, when its motion has ceased, it has the appearance of a tolerably good painting. 'We next quitted the palace, and entered upon the grand terrace, from which it makes the sinest appearance.
This enormous pile of building is here united by a centre, and corresponding wings, of great extent and magnisicence.
From this elevated spot, the beholder contemplates tho disferent water works, walks and gardens, which cover several miles.