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FRESCATI.

the scaffold. The nation became their next proprietor, who sold them for a large sum of money to their present owners.

From this place we went to Frcscati, which is the promenade of the first beauty, and fashion of Paris, who generally assemble about half past ten o'clock, after the opera is concluded. No admission money is required, but singular as it may seem, no improper intruder has yet appeared, a circumstance which may be accounted for by the awe which well bred society ever maintains over vulgarity. Frescati is. situated in the Italian Boulevard; was formerly the residence of a nobleman of large fortune, and has also undergone the usual transition of revolutionary confiscation. The streets leading to it were filled with carriages. After ascending a flight of steps, from a handsome court yard, we entered a beautiful hall, which was lined with pier glasses, and decorated with festoons of artificial flowers, at the end of it was a fine statue of Venus de Medicis. On one side of this image was an arch, which led into a suite of six magnificent apartments, which were superbly gilt, painted, and also covered with pier glasses, and lustres of fine diamond cut glass, which latter, looked like so many little glittering cascades. Each room was in a blaze of light, and filled with parties, who were taking ices, or drinking coffee. Each room communicated with the others, by arches, or folding doors of mirrors. The garden is small, but very tastefully disposed. It is composed of three walks, which are lined with orange and acacia trees, and vases of roses. At the

end FRESCATI. 139

end is a tower mounted on a rock, temples, and rustic Chap. bridges; and on each side of the walks, are little laby- XHI' rinth bowers. On the side next to the Boulevard, is a terrace which commands the whole scene, is lined on each side with beautiful vases of Mowers, and is terminated at each end by alcoves, which are lined with mirrors. Here in the course of an hour, the astonished, and admiring stranger may see near three thousand females of the first beauty and distinction in Paris, whose checks are no longer disfigured by the corrosion of rouge, and who, by their symmetry and grace, would induce him to believe, that the loveliest figures of Greece, in her proudest era, were revived, and moving before him.

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CHAPTER XIV.

Convent of blue Nuns. Duchesse de Biron. The bloody Key. Courts of Justice. Public Library. Gobelincs. Miss Linicood. Garden of Plants. French Accommodation. Boot

Cleaners. Cat and Dog Shearers. Monsieur S and

Family.

Chap. THE cnglish convent, or as it is called, the convent of

XIV.

blue nuns, in the Rue de St. Victoire, is the only establishment of the kind, which throughout the republic, has survived the revolution. To what cause its exclusive protection is attributable, is not, I believe correctly known. But though this spot of sacred seclusion, has escaped the final stroke of extermination, it has sustained an ample share of the general desolation. During the time of tcrrour, it was converted into the crowded prison of the female nobility, who were here confined, and afterwards dragged from its cloisters, and butchered by the guillotine, or the daggers

of assassins. I had a letter of introduction to Mrs. S ,

one of the sisterhood, a lady of distinguished family in England. I found her in the refectory. A dignified dejection overspread her countenance, and her figure seemed much emac iated by the scenes of horrour through which she had passed. She informed me, that when the nuns were in a state of arrestation by the order of Robespierre, the convent DUCHESSE DE BIRON. 141

vent was so crowded with prisoners, that they were obliged Chap. to cat their wretched meals m three different divisions. The xlVi places of the unhappy beings who were led off to execution, were immediately filled by fresh victims.

Amongst those who suffered, was the beautiful young duchesse de Biron, said to be one of the loveliest women of the french court- Her fate was singular, and horrible. One morning, two of the assistant executioners came into one of the rooms, and called upon the female citizen Biron to come forward, meaning the old duchesse de Biron, the mother, who was here immured with her daughter; some one said, which of them do you require? The hell-hounds replied, "Our order was for one only, but as there are two, "we will have both, that there may be no errour." The mother and daughter were taken away, locked senseless in each others arms. When the cart which carried them arrived at the foot of the scaffold, the chief executioner looked at his paper, which contained a list of his victims, and saw the name of only one Biron; the assistants informed him that they found two of that name in the convent, and to prevent mistake, they had brought both. The principal, with perfect sang froid, said it was all well,, wrote with a pencil the article "les" before the name Biron, to which he added an s, and immediately beheaded both!!!

Mrs. S led me to the chapel, to show me the havoc

which the unspairing impious hands of the revolution had there produced. She put into my hand an immense massy

key

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142. BLOODY KEY.

Chap• key to open the door of the choir. "That key," said she, v!'" "was made for the master-key of the convent, by the order "of Robespierre. In the time of terrour, our gaoler wore "it at his belt. A thousand times has my soul sunk "within me, when it loudly pushed the bolt of the lock "aside. When the door opened, it was cither a signal "to prepare for instant death to some of those who were "within, or for the gloomy purpose of admitting new "victims." When we entered the chapel, my surprise and abhorrence were equally excited. The windows were beaten through, the hangings were flapping in the wind, the altar was shattered in pieces and prostrate, the pavement was every where torn up, and the caves of the dead were still yawning upon us. From their solemn and hallowed depths, the mouldering relics of the departed had been raised, by torch light, and heaped in frightful piles of unfinished decay against the walls, for the purpose of converting the lead, which contained these wretched fragments of mortality, into balls for the musketry of the revolution. The gardens behind the chapel must have been once very pleasant, but they then had the appearance of a wilderness. The painful uncertainty of many years, had occasioned the neglect and ruin in which I saw them. Some of the nuns were reading upon shattered seats, under overgrown bowers, and others were walking in the melancholy shade of neglected avenues. The effect of the whole was gloomy and sorrowful, and fully confirmed the melancholy recital which I received from Mrs. S . Bonaparte, it is said, intends to

confirm

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