Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, No. CCCXXXVI. October, 1843. Vol. LIV.
Author: Various
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[24] Edin. Rev. No. 159.

The notion of a "national reward" for the Calotype scarcely requires a remark. If, after a discovery is once made and published, every subsequent new process in the same art is to be nationally rewarded, the income-tax must be at least quadrupled. The complaint, however, against the Royal Society, is not altogether groundless. True it is that the first paper of Mr Talbot did not contain an account of the processes employed by him, and therefore should not have been even read to the Society; but the paper on the Calotype did contain such description, and we see no reason why a society for the advancement of knowledge should not give publicity to a valuable process, though made the subject of a patent—but it certainly should not bestow an honorary reward upon an inventor who has withheld from the Royal Society and the public the practice of the invention whose processes he communicates. Mr Talbot had a perfect right to patent his invention, but has on that account no claim in respect of the same invention to an honorary reward. The Royal Society did not publish his paper, but awarded him a medal. In our opinion, they should have published his paper and not awarded him a medal.

Regarded as to her national encouragement of science, there are some features in which England differs not from other countries; there are others in which she may be strikingly contrasted with them; and, with all our love for her, we fear she will suffer by the contrast. A learned writer of the present day, has the following passage in reference to the state of science in England as contrasted with other countries:—"When the proud science of England pines in obscurity, blighted by the absence of the royal favour and the nation's sympathy; when her chivalry fall unwept and unhonoured, how can it sustain the conflict against the honoured and marshalled genius of foreign lands?"[25]

[25] Brewster's Life of Newton, p. 35.

This, to be sure, is somewhat "tumultuous." We do not, however, cite it as a specimen of composition, but as an expression of a very prevalent feeling; the opinion involved in the concluding quaere is open to doubt—England does sustain the conflict, if any conflict there be to sustain; but we are bound to admit, that in no country are the soldiers of science militant less honoured or rewarded. It is no uncommon remark, that despotic governments are the most favourable to the cultivation of the arts and sciences. There is, perhaps, a general truth in this, and the causes are not difficult of recognition. In a republican or constitutional government, politics are the all-engrossing topics of a people's thought, the never-ending theme of conversation;—in purely despotic states, such discussions are prohibited, and the contemplation of such subjects confined to a few restless or patriotic spirits. It must also be ever the policy of absolute monarchs to open channels for the public mind, which may divert it from political considerations. Take America and Austria as existing instances of this contrast: in the former, the universality of political conversation is an object of remark to all travellers; in the latter, even books which touch at all on political matters are rigidly excluded. These are among the causes which strike us as most prominent, but whose effects obtain only when despotism is not so gross as to be an incubus upon the whole moral and intellectual energies of a people.

We should lose sight of the objects proposed in these pages, and also transgress our assigned limits, were we to enter into detail upon the present state of science in Europe, or trace the causes which have influenced her progress in each state. This would form a sufficient thesis for a separate essay; but we will not pass over this branch of our subject, without venturing to express an opinion on the delicate and embarrassing question as to what rank each nation holds as a promoter of physical science.

In experimental and theoretical Physics, we should be inclined to place the German nations in the first rank; in pure and applied mathematics, France. The former nations far excel all others in the independence and impartiality with which they view scientific results; researches of any value, from whatever part of the world they emanate, instantly find a place in their periodicals; and they generally estimate more justly the relative value of different discoveries than any other European nation; the aesthetical power which enables them to seize and appreciate what is beautiful in art, gives them perception and discrimination in science; but they are not great as originators. The French, notwithstanding the high pitch at which they have undoubtedly arrived in mathematical investigation, not withstanding the general accuracy of their experimental researches, have more of the pedantry of science; their papers are too professional—too much selon les regles; there are too many minutiae; the reader is tempted to exclaim with Jacques—"I think of as many matters as he; but I give Heaven thanks, and make no boast of them." Their accuracy frequently degenerates into affectation and parade. We have now before us a paper in the Annales de Chimie, containing some chemical researches, in which, though the difference of each experiment in a small number, put together for average, amounts to several units, the weights are given to the fifth place of decimals. England, which we should place next, is by no means exempt from these trappings of science. Many English scientific papers seem written as if with the resolute purpose of filling a certain number of pages, and many of their writers seem to think a paper per annum, good or bad, necessary to indicate their philosophical existence. They write, not because they have made a discovery, but because their period of hybernation has expired. Still, in England, there is a strong vein of original thought. Competition, if it lead to puffing and quackery, yet stimulates the perceptions; and, in England, competition has done its worst and its best; in original chemical discovery, England has latterly been unrivalled.

Next to England we should place Sweden and Denmark—for their population they have done much, and done it well; then Italy—in Italy science is well organized, and the rulers of her petty states seem to feel a proper emulation in promoting scientific merit—in which laudable rivalry the Archduke of Tuscany deserves honourable mention; America and Russia come next—the former state is zealous, ready at practical application, and promises much for the future, but as yet has not done enough in original research to entitle her to be placed in the van. Russia at present possesses few, if any, native philosophers—her discoverers and discoveries are all imported; but the emperor's zeal and patronage (a word which we scarcely like to apply to science) is doing much to organize her forces, and the mercenary troops may impart vigour, and induce discipline into the national body. In this short enumeration, we have considered each country, not according to the number of its very eminent men; for though far from denying the right which each undoubtedly possesses to shine by the reflected lustre of her stars, yet in looking, as it were, from an external point, it is more just to regard the general character of each people than to classify them according as they may happen to be the birthplace of those

"To whom all scenes of Europe homage owe."

A misunderstanding of the proper use of theory is among the prevalent scientific errors of the present day. Among one set of men of considerable intelligence, but who are not habitually conversant with physical science, there is a general tendency to despise theory. This contempt appears to rest on somewhat plausible grounds; as an instance of it, we may take the following passage from the fitful writings of Mr Carlyle:—"Hardened round us, encasing wholly every notion we form, is a wrappage of traditions, hearsays, mere words: we call that fire of the black thunder-cloud electricity, and lecture learnedly about it, and grind the like of it out of glass and silk, but what is it? Whence comes it? Where goes it?"[26]

[26] Carlyle on Hero Worship.

However the experienced philosopher may be convinced that in themselves theories are nothing—that they are but collations of phenomena under a generic formula, which is useful only inasmuch as it groups these phenomena; yet it is difficult to see how, without these imperfect generalizations, any mind can retain the endless variety of facts and relations which every branch of science presents; still less, how these can be taught, learned, reasoned upon, or used. How could the facts of geology be recollected, or how, indeed, could they constitute a science without reference to some real or supposed bond of union, some aqueous or igneous theory? How could two chemists converse on chemistry without the use of the term affinity, and the theoretical conception it involves? How could a name be applied, or a nomenclature adopted, without that imperfect, or more or less perfect grouping of facts, which involves theory? As far as we can recollect, all the alterations of nomenclature which have been introduced, or attempted, proceed upon some alteration of theory.

If not theory but hypothesis be objected to—not the imperfect generalization of phenomena, but a gratuitous assumption for the sake of collating them, this, although ground which should be trodden more cautiously, appears in certain cases unavoidable; in fact, is scarcely separable from theory. Had men not "lectured learnedly" about the two fluids of electricity, we should not now possess many of the discoveries with which this science is enriched, although we do not, and probably never shall, know what electricity is.

On the other hand, among professed physical philosophers, the great abuse of theories and hypotheses is, that their promulgators soon regard them, not as aids to science, to be changed if occasion should require, but as absolute natural truths; they look to that as an end, which is in fact but a means; their theories become part of their mental constitution, idiosyncrasies; and they themselves become partizans of a faction, and cease to be inductive philosophers.

Another injury to science, in a great measure peculiar to the present day, arises from the number of speculations which are ushered into the world to account for the same phenomena; every one, like Sir Andrew Aguecheek, when he wished to cudgel a Puritan, has for his opinion "no exquisite reasons, but reasons good enough." In the periods of science immediately subsequent to the time of Bacon, men commenced their career by successful experiment; and having convinced the world of their aptitude for perceiving the relations of natural phenomena, enounced theories which they believed the most efficient to give a comprehensive generality to the whole. Men now, however, commence with theories, though, alas! the converse does not hold good—they do not always end with experiment.

As, in the promulgation of theories, every aspirant is anxious to propound different news, so, in nomenclature, there is a strong tendency to promiscuous coining. The great commentator on the laws of England, Sir William Blackstone, observes, "As to the impression, the stamping of coin is the unquestionable prerogative of the crown, * * * the king may also, by his proclamation, legitimate foreign coin, and make it current here."[27]

[27] Commentaries, vol. i. p. 277.

As coinage of money is the undoubted prerogative of the crown; so generally coinage of words has been the undoubted prerogative of the kings of science—those to whom mankind have bent as to unquestionable authority. But even these royal dignitaries have generally been sparing in the exercise of this prerogative, and used it only on rare occasions and when absolutely necessary, either from the discovery of new things requiring new names, or upon entire revolutions of theory.

"Si forte necesse est Indiciis monstrare recentibus abdita rerum, Fingere cinctutis non exaudita cethegis Continget, labiturque licentia sumpta pudenter."

But now there is no "pudor" in the matter. Every man has his own mint; and although their several coins do not pass current very generally, yet they are taken here and there by a few disciples, and throw some standard money out of the market. The want of consideration evinced in these novel vocabularies is remarkable. Whewell, whose scientific position and dialectic turn of mind may fairly qualify him to be a word-maker, seems peculiarly deficient in ear. Take, as an instance, "idiopts," an uncomfortable word, barely necessary, as the persons to whom it applies are comparatively rare, and will scarcely thank the Master of Trinity College for approximating them in name to a more numerous and more unfortunate class—the word physicists, where four sibilant consonants fizz like a squib. In these, and we might add many from other sources, euphony is wantonly disregarded; by other authors of smaller calibre, classical associations are curiously violated. We may take, as an instance, platinode, Spanish-American joined to ancient Greek. In chemistry there is a profusion of new coin. Sulphate of ammonia—oxi-sulphion of ammonium—sulphat-oxide of ammonium—three names for one substance. This mania is by no means common to England. In Liebig's Chemistry, Vol. ii. p. 313, we have the following passage:—"It should be remarked that some chemists designate artificial camphor by the name of hydrochlorate of camphor. Deville calls it bihydrochlorate of terebene, and Souberaine and Capelaine call it hydrochlorate of pencylene."

So generally does this prevail, that in chemical treatises the names of substances are frequently given with a tail of synonymes. Numerous words might be cited which are names for non-existences—mere hypothetic groupings; and yet so rapidly are these increasing, that it seems not impossible, in process of time, there will be more names for things that are not than for things that are. If this work go on, the scientific public must elect a censor whose fiat shall be final; otherwise, as every small philosopher is encouraged or tolerated in framing ad libitum a nomenclature of his own, the inevitable effect will be, that no man will be able to understand his brother, and a confusion of tongues will ensue, to be likened only to that which occasioned the memorable dispersion at Babel.

Many of the defects to which we have alluded in the course of this paper, time alone can remedy. In spite of all drawbacks, the progress of science has been vast and rapidly increasing; the very rapidity of its progress brings with it difficulties. So many points, once considered impossible, have been proved possible, that to some minds the suggestion of impossibility seems an argument in favour of possibility. Because steam-travelling was once laughed at as visionary, aerial navigation is to be regarded as practicable—perhaps, indeed, it will be so, give but the time proportionably requisite to master its difficulties, as there was given to steam. What proportion this should be we will not venture to predict. There can be little doubt that the most effectual way to induce a more accurate public discrimination of scientific efforts is to turn somewhat more in that direction the current of national education. Prizes at the universities for efficiency in the physics of light, heat, electricity, magnetism, or chemistry, could, we conceive, do no harm. Why should not similar honours be conferred on those students who advance the progress of an infant science, as on those who work out with facility the formulae of an exact one; and why should not acquirements in either, rank equally high with the critical knowledge of the digamma or the a priori philosophy of Aristotle? Is not Bacon's Novum Organon as much entitled to be made a standard book for the schools as Aldrich's logic? Venerating English universities, we approve not the inconsiderate outcries against systematic and time-honoured educational discipline; but it would increase our love for these seminaries of sound learning, could we more frequently see such men as Davy emanate from Oxford, instead of from the pneumatic institution of Bristol.

Provided science be kept separate from political excitement, we should like to see an English Academy, constituted of men having fair claims to scientific distinction, and not "deserving of that honour because they are attached to science."

It is unnecessary here to touch upon the details of such an Academy. The proposition is by no means new. On the contrary, we believe a wish for some such change pretty generally exists. Iteration is sometimes more useful than originality. The more frequently the point is brought before the public, the more probable is it that steps will be taken by those who are qualified to move in such a matter. The more the present defective state of our scientific organization is commented on, the more likely is it to be remedied; for the patency of error is ever a sure prelude to its extirpation.



One of the longest, the narrowest, the highest, the darkest, and the dirtiest streets of Paris, was, and is, and probably will long be, the Rue St Denis. Beginning at the bank of the Seine, and running due north, it spins out its length like a tape-worm, with every now and then a gentle wriggle, right across the capital, till it reaches the furthest barrier, and thence has a kind of suburban tail prolonged into the wide, straight road, a league in length, that stretches to the town of Sainct-Denys-en-France. This was, from time immemorial, the state-road for the monarchs of France to make their formal entries into, and exits from, their capital—whether they came from their coronation at Rheims, or went to their last resting-place beneath the tall spire of St Denis. This has always been the line by which travellers from the northern provinces have entered the good city of Paris; and for many a long year its echoes have never had rest from the cracking of the postilion's whip, the roll of the heavy diligence, and the perpetual jumbling of carts and waggons. It is, as it has ever been, one of the main arteries of the capital; and nowhere does the restless tide of Parisian life run more rapidly or more constantly than over its well-worn stones. In the pages of the venerable historians of the French capital, and in ancient maps, it is always called "La Grande Rue de Sainct Denys," being, no doubt, at one time the ne plus ultra of all that was considered wide and commodious. Now its appellation is curtailed into the Rue St D'nis, and it is avoided by the polite inhabitants of Paris as containing nothing but the bourgeoisie and the canaille. Once it was the Regent Street of Paris—a sort of Rue de la Paix—lounged along by the gallants of the days of Henri IV., and not unvisited by the red-heeled marquises of the Regent d'Orleans's time; now it sees nothing more recherche than the cap of the grisette or the poissarde, as the case may be, nor any thing more august than the casquette of the commis-voyageur, or the indescribable shako and equipments of the National Guard. As its frequenters have been changed in character, so have its houses and public buildings; they have lost much of the picturesque appearance they possessed a hundred years ago—they are forced every year more and more into line, like a regiment of stone and mortar. Instead of showing their projecting, high-peaked gables to the street, they have now turned their fronts, as more polite; the roofs are accommodated with the luxury of pipes, and the midnight sound of "Gare l'eau!" which used to make the late-returning passenger start with all agility from beneath the opened window to avoid the odoriferous shower, is now but seldom heard. A Liliputian footway, some two feet wide, is laid down in flags at either side; the oscillating lamp, that used to hang on a rotten cord thrown across the roadway from house to house, and made darkness visible, has given place to the genius of gas—enfin, la Revolution a passe par la; and the Rue de St Denis is now a ghost only of what it was. Still it retains sufficient peculiarities of dimensions and outline to show that it is a child of the middle ages; and, like so many other children of the same kind, it contributes to make its mother Paris, as compared with the modern-built capitals of Europe, a town of former days. Long may it retain these oddities of appearance—long may it remain narrow, dark, and dirty; we rejoice that such streets still exist—they do one's eye good, if not one's nose. There is more of colour, of light and shade, of picturesque, fantastic outline, in a hundred yards of the Rue St Denis, than in all the line from Piccadilly to Whitechapel; a painter can pick up more food for his easel in this queer, old street—an antiquarian can find there more tales and crusts for his noddle, than in all Regent Street and Portland Place. We love a ramshackle place like this; it does one good to get out of the associations of the present century, and to retrograde a bit; it is pleasant to see how people used to pig together in ancient days, without any of the mathematical formalities of the present day; it keeps one's eye in tone to look back at works of the middle ages; and we may learn the more justly to criticize what we see arising about us, by refreshing our recollections of the mouldering past. Paris is a glorious place for things of this kind. Thank the stars, it never got burned out of its old clothes, as London did. Newfangled streets and quarters of every age have been added to it, but there still remains a mediaeval nucleus—there is still an "old Paris"—a gloomy, filthy, old town, irregular and inconvenient as any town ever was yet; and a walk of twenty minutes will take you from the elegant uniformity of the Rue de Rivoli into the original chaos of buildings—into the Quartier des Halles and into the Rue St Denis. How often have we hurried down them on a cold winter's day—say the 31st of December—to buy bons-bons in the Rue des Lombards, once the abode of bankers, now the paradise of confiseurs, against the coming morrow—the grand day of visits and cadeaux—braving the snow some three feet deep in the midst of the street—or, if there happened to be no snow, the mud a foot and a half, splashing through it with our last new pair of boots from Legrand's, and the last pantalon from Blondel's—for cabriolet or omnibus, none might pass that way; and there, amid onion-smelling crowds, in a long, low shop, with lamps lighted at two o'clock, have consummated our purchase, and floundered back triumphant! Away, ye gay, seducing vanities of the Palais Royal or the Boulevards; your light is too garish for our sober eyes—the sugar of your comfitures is too chalky for our discriminating tooth! Our appropriate latitude is that of the Quartier St Denis! One thing, however, we must confess, we never did in the Rue St Denis—we never dined there! Oh non! il ne faut pas faire ca! 'Tis the headquarters of all the sausage-dealers, the charcutiers, and the rotisseurs of Paris. Genuine meat and drink there is none; cats hold the murderous neighbourhood in traditional abhorrence, and the ruddiest wine of Burgundy would turn pale were the aqueous reputation of the street whispered near its cellar-door. Thank Heaven, we have a gastronomic instinct that saved us from acts of suicidal rashness! When in Paris, gentle reader, we always dine at the Trois Freres Provencaux; the little room in blue, remember—time, six P.M.; potage a la Julienne—bifteck au vin de Champagne—poulet a la Marengo—Chambertin, and St Peray rose. The next time you visit the Palais-Royal, turn in there, and dine with us—we shall be delighted to see you!

There are few gaping Englishmen who have been on the other side of the Channel but have found their way along the Boulevards to the Porte St Denis, and have stared first of all at that dingy monument of Ludovican pride, and then have stared down the Rue St Denis, and then have stared up the Rue du Faubourg St Denis; but very few are ever tempted to turn either to the right hand or to the left, and so they generally poke on to the Porte St Martin, or stroll back to the Madeleine, and rarely make acquaintance with the Dionysian mysteries of Paris. For the benefit, therefore, of such travellers as go to the French capital with their eyes in their pockets, and of such as stay at home and travel by their fireside, but still can relish the recollections and associations of olden times, we are going to rake together some of the many odd notes that pertain to the history of this street and its immediate vicinity.

The readiest way into the Rue St Denis from the Isle de la Cite, the centre of Paris, has always been over the Pont-au-Change. This bridge, now the widest over the Seine, was once a narrow, ill-contrived structure of wood, covered with a row of houses on either side, that formed a dark and dirty street, so that you might pass through it a hundred times without once suspecting that you were crossing a river. These houses, built of stone and wood, overhung the edges of the bridge, and afforded their inhabitants an unsafe abode between the sky and the water. At times the river would rise in one of its periodical furies, and sweep away a pier or two with the superincumbent houses; at others the wooden supporters of the structure would catch fire by some untoward event, and the inhabitants had the choice of being fried or drowned, along with their penates and their supellectile property. Such a catastrophe happened in the reign of Louis XIII., when this and another wooden bridge, situated, oddly enough, close by its side, were set on fire by a squib, which some gamins de Paris were letting off on his Majesty's highway; and in less than three hours 140 houses had disappeared. It was Louis VII., in the twelfth century, who gave it the name it has since borne; for he ordered all the money-changers of Paris to come and live on this bridge—no very secure place for keeping the precious metals; and about two hundred years ago the money-changers, fifty-four in number, occupied the houses on one side, while fifty goldsmiths lived in those on the other. In the open roadway between, was held a kind of market or fair for bird-sellers, who were allowed to keep their standings on the curious tenure of letting off two hundred dozens of small birds whenever a new king should pass over this bridge, on his solemn entry into the capital. The birds fluttered and whistled on these occasions, the gamins clapped their hands and shouted, the good citizens cried "Noel!" and "Vive le Roy!" and the courtiers were delighted at the joyous spectacle. Whether the birds flew away ready roasted to the royal table, history is silent; but it would have been a sensible improvement of this part of the triumphal ceremony, and we recommend it to the serious notice of all occupiers of the French throne.

On arriving at the northern end of the bridge, the passenger had on his right a covered gallery of shops, stretching up the river side to the Pont Notre Dame, and called the Quai de Gesvres; here was a fashionable promenade for the beaux of Paris, for it was filled with the stalls of pretty milliners, like one of our bazars, and boasted of an occasional bookseller's shop or two, where the tender ballads of Ronsard, or the broad jokes of Rabelais, might be purchased and read for a few livres. To the left was a narrow street, known by the curious appellation of Trop-va-qui-dure, the etymology of which has puzzled the brains of all Parisian antiquaries; while just beyond it, and still by the river side, was the Vieille Vallee de Misere—words indicative of the opinion entertained of so ineligible a residence. In front frowned, in all the grim stiffness of a feudal fortress, the Grand Chastelet, once the northern defence of Paris against the Normans and the English, but at last changed into the headquarters of the police—the Bow Street of the French capital. Two large towers, with conical tops over a portcullised gateway, admitted the prisoners into a small square court, round which were ranged the offices of the lieutenant of police, and the chambers of the law-officers of the crown. Part of the building served as a prison for the vulgar crew of offenders—a kind of Newgate, or Tolbooth; another was used as, and was called, the Morgue, where the dead bodies found in the Seine were often carried; there was a room in it called Caesar's chamber, where the good citizens of Paris firmly believed that the great Julius once sat as provost of Paris, in a red robe and flowing wig; and there was many an out-of-the-way nook and corner full of dust and parchments, and rats and spiders. The lawyers of the Chastelet thought no small beer of themselves, it seems; for they claimed the right of walking in processions before the members of the Parliament, and immediately after the corporation of the capital. The unlucky wight who might chance to be put in durance vile within these walls, was commonly well trounced and fined ere he was allowed to depart; and next to the dreaded Bastile, the Grand Chastelet used to be looked on with peculiar horror. At the Revolution it was one of the first feudal buildings demolished—not a stone of the old pile remains; the Pont-au-Change had long before had its wooden piers changed for noble stone ones, and on the site where this fortress stood is now the Place de Chatelet, with a Napoleonic monument in the midst—a column inscribed with names of bloody battle-fields, on its summit a golden wing-expanding Victory, and at its base four little impudent dolphins, snorting out water into the buckets of the Porteurs d'Eau.

Behind the Chastelet stood the Grande Boucherie—the Leadenhall market of Paris an hundred years ago; and near it, up a dirty street or two, was one of the finest churches of the capital, dedicated to St Jacques. The lofty tower of this latter edifice (its body perished when the Boucherie and the Chastelet disappeared) still rises in gloomy majesty above all the surrounding buildings. It is as high as those of Notre Dame; and from its upper corners, enormous gargouilles—those fantastic water-spouts of the middle ages—gape with wide-stretched jaws, but no longer send down the washings of the roof on the innocent passengers. Hereabouts lived Nicholas Flamel, the old usurer, who made money so fast that it was said he used to sup nightly with his Satanic majesty, and who thereupon built part of the church to save his bacon. He was of opinion that it was well to have the "mens sana in corpore sano"—that it was no joke to be burnt; and so he stuck close to the church, taking care that himself and his wife, Pernelle, should have a comfortable resting-place for their bones within the walls of St Jacques. When this was a fashionable quarter of Paris, the court doctor and accoucheur did not disdain to reside in it; for Jean Fernel, the medical attendant of Catharine de Medicis, lived and died within the shade of this old tower. He was a fortunate fellow, a sort of Astley Cooper or Clarke in his way, and Catharine used to give him 10,000 crowns, or something like L.6000, every time she favoured France with an addition to the royal family. He and numerous other worthies mouldered into dust within the precincts of St Jacques; but their remains have long since been scattered to the winds; and where the church once stood is now an ignoble market for old clothes; the abode of Jews and thieves.

After passing round the Grand Chastelet, and crossing the market-place, you might enter the Rue St Denis, the great street of Paris in the time of the good King Henry, and you might walk along under shelter of its houses, projecting story above story, till they nearly met at top, for more than a mile. Before it was paved, the roadway was an intolerable quagmire, winter and summer; and, after stones had been put down, there murmured along the middle a black gurgling stream, charged with all the outpourings and filth of unnumbered houses. Over, or through this, according as the fluid was low or high, you had to make your way, if you wanted to cross the street and greet a friend; if you lived in the street and wished to converse with your opposite neighbour, you had only to mount to the garret story, open the lattice window, and literally shake hands with him, so near did the gables approach. The fronts of the houses were ornamented with every device which the skilful carpenters of former times could invent: the beam-ends were sculptured into queer little crouching figures of monkeys or angels, and all sorts of diableries decorated the cornices that ran beneath the windows; there were no panes of glass, such as we boast of in these degenerate times, but narrow latticed lights to let in the day, and the wind, and the cold; while the roofs were covered commonly with shingles, or, in the houses of the wealthy, with sheets of lead. Between each gable came forth a long water-spout, and poured down a deluge into the gutter beneath; each gable-top was peaked into a fantastic spiry point or flower, and the chimneys congregated into goodly companies amidst the roofs, removed from the vulgar gaze or fastidious jests of the people below. So large were the fireplaces in those rooms that could own them, and so ample were the chimney flues, that smoky houses were unheard of: the staircases, it is true, enjoyed only a dubious ray, that served to prevent you from breaking your neck in a rapid descent; but the apartments were generally of commodious dimensions, and the tenements possessed many substantial comforts.

Once out of doors, you might proceed in all weather fearless of rain; the projecting upper stories sheltered completely the sides of the street, and a stout cloth cloak was all that was needed to save either sex from the inclemency of the seasons. At frequent intervals there opened into the main street, side streets, and ruelles or alleys, which showed in comparison like Gulliver in Brobdignag: up some of these ways a single horseman might be able to go; but along others—and some of them remain to the present day—two stout citizens could never have walked arm-in-arm. They looked like enormous cracks between a couple of buildings, rather than as ways made for the convenience of locomotion: they were pervious, perhaps, to donkeys, but not to the loaded packhorse—the great street was intended for that animal—coaches did not exist, and the long narrow carts of the French peasantry, whenever they came into the city, did not occupy much more space than the bags or packs of the universal carrier. To many of these streets the most eccentric appellations were given; there was the Rue des Mauvaises Paroles—people of ears polite had no business to go near it; the Rue Tire Chappe—a spot where those who objected to be plucked by the vests, or to have their clothes pulled off their backs by importunate accosters, need not present themselves; another in this quarter was called the Rue Tire-boudin. Marie Stuart, when Queen of France, was riding, it is said, through it one day, and struck, perhaps, by the looks of its inhabitants, asked what the street was called. The original appellation was so indecent that an officer of her guards, with courtly presence of mind, veiled it under its present title. One was known as the Rue Brise-miche, and the cleanliness of its inhabitants might instantly be judged of: a fifth was the Rue Trousse-vache, and one of the shops in it was adorned with an enormous sign of a red cow, with her tail sticking up in the air and her head reared in rampant sauciness. A notorious gambler, Thibault-au-de, well known for his skill in loading dice, gave his name to one of these narrow veins of the town: Aubry, a wealthy butcher, is still immortalized in another: and the Rue du Petit Hurleur probably commemorated some wicked youngster, whose shouts were a greater nuisance to the neighbours than those of any of his companions.

A wider kind of street was the Rue de la Ferronerie, opening into the Rue St Denis, below the Church of the Innocents: it was the abode of all the tinkers and smiths of Paris, and had not Henri IV. been in a particular hurry that day, when he was posting off to old Sully in the Rue St Antoine, he had never gone this way, and Ravaillac, probably, had never been able to lean into the carriage and stab the king. Just over the spot where the murder was committed, the placid bust of the king still gazes on the busy scene beneath. The Rue de la Grande Truanderie, which was above the Innocents, must have been the rendez-vous of all the thieves and beggars of Paris, if there be any thing in a name: the old chronicles of the city relate, indeed, that it took a long time to respectabilize its neighbourhood; and they add that the herds of rogues and impostors who once lived in it took refuge, after their ejection, in the famous Cour des Miracles, a little higher up the Rue St Denis. We must not venture into this, the choicest preserve of Victor Hugo, whose graphic description of its wonders in his Notre Dame needs hardly to be alluded to; but we may add, that there were several abodes of the same kind, all communicating with the Rue St Denis, and all equally infamous in their day, though now tenanted only by quiet button-makers and furniture-dealers. The real Puits d'Amour stood at the corner of the Rue de la Grande Truanderie, and took its name in sad truth from a crossing of true love. In the days of Philip Augustus, more than six hundred years ago, a beautiful young lady of the court, Agnes Hellebik, whose father held an important post under the king, was inveigled into the toils of love. The object of her affections, whether of noble birth or not, made her but a sorry return for her confidence: he loved her a while, and her dreams of happiness were realized; but by degrees his passion cooled, and at length he abandoned her. Stung with indignation, and broken-hearted at this thwarting of her soul's desire, the unfortunate young creature fled from her father's house, and betaking herself on a dark and stormy night to the brink of the well, commended her spirit to her Maker, and ended her troubles beneath its waters. The name of the Puits d'Amour was then given to the well; and no young maiden ever dared to draw water from it after sunset, for fear of the spirit that dwelt unquietly within. The tradition was always current in people's mouths; and three centuries after, a young man of the neighbourhood, who had been jilted and mocked by an inconstant mistress, determined to bear his ills no longer, so he rushed to the Puits, and took the fatal leap. The result was not what he anticipated: he did not, it is true, jump into a courtly assembly of knights and gallants, but he could not find water enough in it to drown him; while his mistress, on hearing of the mishap, hastened to the well with a cord, and promising to compensate him for his former woes, drew him with her fair hands safely into the upper regions. An inscription, in Gothic letters, was then placed over the well:—

"L'amour m'a refaict En 1525 tout-a-faict."

The fate of Agnes Hellebik was far preferable to that of another young girl who lived in this quarter, indeed in the Rue Thibault-au-de. Agnes du Rochier was the only daughter of one of the wealthiest merchants of Paris, and was admired by all the neighbourhood for her beauty and virtue. In 1403 her father died, leaving her the sole possessor of his wealth, and rumour immediately disposed of her hand to all the young gallants of the quarter; but whether it was that grief for the loss of her parent had turned her head, or that the gloomy fanaticism of that time had worked with too fatal effect on her pure and inexperienced imagination, she took not only marriage and the male sex into utter abomination, but resolved to quit the world for ever, and to make herself a perpetual prisoner for religion's sake. She determined, in short, to become what was then called a recluse, and as such to pass the remainder of her days in a narrow cell built within the wall of a church. On the 5th of October, accordingly, when the cell, only a few feet square, was finished in the wall of the church of St Opportune, Agnes entered her final abode, and the ceremony of her reclusion began. The walls and pillars of the sacred edifice had been hung with tapestry and costly cloths, tapers burned on every altar, the clergy of the capital and the several religious communities thronged the church. The Bishop of Paris, attended by his chaplains and the canons of Notre Dame, entered the choir, and celebrated a pontifical mass: he then approached the opening of the cell, sprinkled it with holy water, and after the poor young thing had bidden adieu to her friends and relations, ordered the masons to fill up the aperture. This was done as strongly as stone and mortar could make it; nor was any opening left, save only a small loophole through which Agnes might hear the offices of the church, and receive the aliments given her by the charitable. She was eighteen years old when she entered this living tomb, and she continued within it eighty years, till death terminated her sufferings! Alas, for mistaken piety! Her wealth, which she gave to the church, and her own personal exertions during so long a life, might have made her a blessing to all that quarter of the city, instead of remaining an useless object of compassion to the few, and of idle wonder to the many.

Another entombment, almost as bad, occurred in the Rue St Denis, only five or six years ago. The cess-pools of modern Parisian houses are generally deep chambers, and sometimes wells, cut in the limestone rock on which the city stands: and in the absence of a good method of drainage, are cleaned out only once in every two or three years, according to their size. Meanwhile, they continue to receive all the filth of the building. One night, a large cess-pool had been emptied, and the aperture, which was in the common passage of the house on the ground floor, had been left open till the inspector appointed by the police should come round and see that the work had been properly executed. He came early in the morning, enquired carelessly of the porter if all was right, and ordered the stone covering to be fastened down. This was done amid the usual noise and talking of the workmen; and they went their way. That same afternoon, one of the lodgers in the house, a young man, was missed: days after days elapsed, and nothing was heard of him: his friends conjectured that he had drowned himself, but the tables of the Morgue never bore his body: and their despair was only equalled by their astonishment at the absence of every clue to his fate. On a particular evening, however, about three weeks after his disappearance, the porter was sitting at the door of his lodge, and the house as well as the street was unusually quiet, when he heard a faint groan somewhere beneath his feet. After a short interval he heard another; and being superstitious, got up, put his chair within the lodge, shut the door, and set about his work. At night he mentioned the circumstance to his wife, and going out with her into the passage, they had not stood there long before again a groan was heard. The good woman crossed herself and fell on her knees; but her husband, suspecting now that all was not right, and thinking that an attempt at infanticide had been made, by throwing a child's body down one of the passages leading to the cess-pool, (no uncommon occurrence in Paris,) resolved to call in the police. He did so without loss of time, the heavy stone covering was removed, and one of the attendants stooping down and lowering a lantern, as long as the stench would permit him, saw at the bottom, and at a considerable depth, something like a human form leaning against the side of the receptacle. Ropes and ladders were now immediately procured; two men went down, and in a few minutes brought up a body—it was that of the unfortunate young man who had been so long missing! Life was not quite extinct, for some motion of the limbs was perceptible, there was even one last low groan, but then all animation ceased for ever. The appearance of the body was most dreadful; the face was a livid green colour, the trunk looked like that of a man drowned, and kept long beneath the water, all brown and green—one of the feet had completely disappeared—the other was nearly half decomposed and gone; the hands were dreadfully lacerated, and told of a desperate struggle to escape: worms were crawling about; all was putrid and loathsome. How did this unfortunate young man come into so dreadful a position? was the question that immediately occurred; and the only answer that could be given was, that on the night of the cess-pool being emptied, the porter remembered this young man coming home very late, or rather early in the morning. He himself had forgotten to warn him of the aperture being uncovered, indeed he supposed that it would have been sufficiently seen by the lights left burning at its edge;—these had probably been blown out by the wind, and the young man had thus fallen in. That life should have been supported so long under such circumstances, seems almost incredible: but it is no less curious than true; for the porter was tried before the Correctional Tribunal for inadvertent homicide, the facts were adduced in evidence, and carelessness having been proved, he was sentenced to imprisonment for several weeks, and to a heavy fine.

Of churches and religious establishments, there were plenty in and about the Rue St Denis. Besides the great church of St Jacques, mentioned before, there were in the street itself the churches of the Holy Sepulchre, of St Leu, and St Gilles; of the Innocents; of the Saviour; and of St Jacques de l'Hopital: while of conventual institutions, there were the Hospitals of St Catharine; of the Holy Trinity; of the Filles de St Magloire; of the Filles Dieu; of the Community of St Chaumont; of the S[oe]urs de Charite; and of the great monastery of St Lazare. The fronts, or other considerable portions of those buildings, were all visible in the street, and added greatly to its antiquated appearance. The long irregular lines of gable roofs on either side, converging from points high above the spectator's head, until they met or crossed in a dim perspective, near the horizon, were broken here and there by the pointed front, or the tapering spire of a church or convent. A solemn gateway protruded itself at intervals into the street, and, with its flanking turrets and buttresses, gave broad masses of shade in perpendicular lines, strongly contrasted with the horizontal or diagonal patches of dark colour caused by the houses. At early morn and eve, a shrill tinkling of bells warned the neighbours of the sacred duties of many a secluded penitent, or admonished them that it was time to send up their own orisons to God. Before mid-day had arrived, and soon after it had passed, the deeper tones of a bourdon, from some of the parochial churches, invited the citizens to the sacrifice of the mass or the canticles of vespers. Not seldom the throngs of busy wordlings were forced to separate and give room to some holy procession, which, with glittering cross at the head, with often tossed and sweetly smelling censers at the side, with white-robed chanting acolyths, and reverend priests, in long line behind, came forth to take its way to some holy edifice. The zealous citizens would suspend their avocations for a while, would repeat a reverential prayer as the holy men went by, and then return to the absorbing calls of business, not unbenefited by the recollections just awakened in their minds. On the eves and on the mornings of holy festivals, business was totally suspended; the bells, great and small, rang forth their silvery sounds; the churches were crowded, the chapels glittered with blazing lights; the prayers of the priests and people rose with the incense before the high altar; the solemn organ swelled its full tones responsive to the loud-voiced choir; the curates thundered from the pulpits, to the edification of charitable congregations; and after all had been prostrated in solemn adoration of the Divine presence, the citizens would pour out into the street, and repair, some to their homes, some to the Palace of the Tournelles, with its towers and gardens guarded by the Bastille; others to the Louvre or to the Pre-aux-clercs, and the fields by the river side; others would stroll up the hill of Montmartre; and some in boats would brave the dangers of the Seine! On other and sadder occasions, the inhabitants of the Rue St Denis would quit their houses in earnestly talking groups, and would adjourn to the open space in front of the Halles. Here, on the top of an octagonal tower, some twenty feet high, and covered with a conical spire, between the openings of pointed arches, might be seen criminals with their heads and hands protruding through the wooden collar of the pillory. The guard of the provost, or the lieutenant of police, would keep off the noisy throng below, and the goodwives would discuss among themselves the enormities of the coin-clipper, the cut-purse, the incendiary, or the unjust dealer, who were exposed on those occasions for their delinquencies; while the offenders themselves, would—a few of them—hang down their heads, and close their eyes in the unsufferable agony of shame; but by far the greater number would shout forth words of bold defiance or indecent ribaldry, would protrude the mocking tongue, or spit forth curses with dire volubility. Then would rise the shouts of gamins, then would come the thick volley of eggs, fish-heads, butcher's-offal, and all the garbage of the market, aimed unerringly by many a strenuous arm at the heads of the culprits; and then the soldiers with their pertuisanes would make quick work among the legs of the retreating crowd, and the jailers would apply the ready lash to the backs of the hardened criminals aloft; and thus, the hour's exhibition ended, and the "king's justice" satisfied, away would the criminals be led, some on a hurdle to Montfaucon, and there hung on its ample gibbet, amid the rattling bones of other wretches; some would be hurried back to the Chastelet, or other prisons; and others would be sent off to work, chained to the oars of the royal galleys.

This was a common amusement of the idlers of this quarter: but the passions of the mob, if they needed stronger excitement, had to find a scene of horrid gratification on the Place de Greve, opposite the Hotel de Ville, where at rare intervals a heretic would be burnt, a murderer hung, or a traitor quartered; but this spot of bloody memory lies far from the Rue St Denis, and we are not now called upon to reveal its terrible recollections: let us turn back to our good old street.

One of the most curious objects in it was the Church of the Innocents, with its adjoining cemetery, once the main place of interment for all the capital. The church lay at the north-eastern end of what is now the Marche des Innocents, and against it was erected the fountain which now adorns the middle of the market, and which was the work of the celebrated sculptor, Jean Goujon, and his colleague, the architect, Pierre Lescot. The former is said to have been seated at it, giving some last touches to one of the tall and graceful nymphs that adorn its high arched sides, on the day of the Massacre of St Bartholomew, when he was killed by a random shot from a Catholic zealot. The simple inscription which it still bears, FONTIUM NYMPHIS, is in better taste than that of any other among the numerous fountains of the French capital. The church itself (of which not the slightest vestige now remains) was not a good specimen of mediaeval architecture, although it was large and richly endowed. It was founded by Philip Augustus, when he ordered the Jews to be expelled from his dominions, and seized on their estates—one of the most nefarious actions committed by a monarch of France. The absurd accusation, that the Jews used periodically to crucify and torture Christian children, was one of the most plausible pretexts employed by the rapacious king on this occasion; and, as a kind of testimonial that such had been his excuse, he founded this church; dedicated it to the Holy Innocents; and transferred hither the remains of a boy, named Richard, said to have been sacrificed at Pontoise by some unfortunate Jews, who expiated the pretended crime by the most horrible torments. St Richard's remains, (for he was canonized,) worked numerous miracles in the Church of the Innocents, or rather in the churchyard, where a tomb was erected over them; and so great was their reputation, that tradition says, the English, on evacuating Paris in the 15th century, carried off with them all but the little saint's head. Certain it is, that nothing but the head remained amongst the relics of this parish; and equally certain is it, that no Christian innocents have been sacrificed by those "circumcised dogs" either before or since, whether in France or England, or any other part of the world. It remained for the dishonest credulity of the present century, to witness the disgraceful spectacle of a French consul at Damascus, assisting at the torturing of some Jewish merchants under a similar accusation, and assuring his government of his belief in the confessions extorted by these inhuman means; and of many a party journal in Paris accrediting and re-echoing the tale. Had not British humanity intervened in aid of British policy, France had made this visionary accusation the ground of an armed intervention in Syria. The false accusers of the Jews of Damascus have indeed been punished; but the French consul, the Count de Ratti-Menton, has since been rewarded by his government with a high promotion in the diplomatic department!

Once more, "a truce to digression," let us see what the ancient cemetery of the Innocents was like. Round an irregular four-sided space, about five hundred feet by two, ran a low cloister-like building, called Les Charniers, or the Charnel Houses. It had originally been a cloister surrounding the churchyard; but, so convenient had this place of sepulture been found, from its situation in the heart of Paris, that the remains of mortality increased in most rapid proportion within its precincts, and it was continually found necessary to transfer the bones of long-interred, and long-forgotten bodies, to the shelter of the cloisters. Here, then, they were piled up in close order—the bones below and the skulls above; they reached in later times to the very rafters of these spacious cloisters all round, and heaps of skulls and bones lay in unseemly groups on the grass in the midst of the graveyard. At one corner of the church was a small grated window, where a recluse, like her of St Opportune, had worn away forty-six years of her life, after one year's confinement as a preparatory experiment; and within the church was a splendid brass tomb, commemorating this refinement of the monastic virtues. At various spots about the cemetery, were erected obelisks and crosses of different dates, while against the walls of the church and cloister were affixed, in motley and untidy confusion, unnumbered tablets and other memorials of the dead. The suppression of this cemetery, just at the commencement of the Revolution, was a real benefit to the capital; and when the contents of the yard and its charnel-houses were removed to the catacombs south of the city, it was calculated that the remains of two millions of human beings rattled down the deep shafts of the stone pits to their second interment. In place of the cemetery, we now find the wooden stalls of the Covent Garden of Paris; low, dirty, unpainted, ill-built, badly-drained, stinking, and noisy; and their tenants are not better than themselves. Like their neighbours, the famous Poissardes, the Dames de la Halle as they are styled, are the quintessence of all that is disgusting in Paris. Covent Garden is worth a thousand of such markets, and Pere la Chaise is an admirable substitute for the Cemetery of the Innocents.

High up in the Rue de Faubourg St Denis, which is only a continuation of the main street, just as Knightsbridge is of Piccadilly, stand the remains of the great convent and maladrerie of St Lazarus. In this religious house, all persons attacked with leprosy were received in former days, and either kept for life, if incurable, or else maintained until they were freed from that loathsome disease. From what cause we know not, (except that the House of St Lazarus was the nearest of any religious establishment to the walls of the capital,) the kings of France always made a stay of three days within its walls on their solemn inauguratory entrance into Paris, and their bodies always lay in state here before they were conveyed to the Abbey Church of St Denis. There was no lack of stiff ceremonial on these occasions; and, doubtless, the good fathers of the convent did not receive all the court within their walls without rubbing a little gold off the rich habits of the nobles. The king, on arriving at the Convent of St Lazare, proceeded to a part of the house allotted for this purpose, and called Le Logis du Roy, where, in a chamber of state, he took his seat beneath a canopy, surrounded by the princes of the blood-royal. The chancellor of France stood behind his majesty, to furnish him with replies to the different deputations that used to come with congratulatory addresses, and the receptions then commenced. They used to last from seven in the morning, without intermission, till four or five in the afternoon; there were the lawyers of the Chastelet, the Court of Aids, the Court of Accounts, and the Parliament, to say nothing of the city authorities and other constituted bodies. The addresses were no short unmeaning things, like those uttered in our poor cold times, but good long-winded harangues, some in French, some in Latin, and they went on, one after the other, for three days consecutively. On the third day, when the royal patience must have been wellnigh exhausted, and the chancellor's talents at reply worn tolerably threadbare, the king would rise, and mounting on horseback, would proceed to the cathedral church of Notre Dame, down the Rue St Denis. One of the best recorded of these royal entries is that of Louis XI. On this occasion, the king, setting out from a suburban residence in the Faubourg St Honore, got along the northern side of Paris to the Convent of St Lazare; and thence, after the delay and the harangues of the three days—the real original glorious three days of the French monarchy—proceeded to the Porte St Denis. Here a herald met the monarch, and after the keys of the city had been presented by the provost, with long speeches and replies, the former officer introduced to his majesty five young ladies, all richly clad, and mounted on horses richly caparisoned, their housings bearing the arms of the city of Paris. Each young damsel represented an allegorical personage, and the initials of the names of their characters made up the word Paris. They each harangued the king, and their speeches, says an old chronicle, seemed "very agreeable" to the royal ears. Around the king, as he rode through the gateway, were the princes and highest nobles of the land—the Dukes of Orleans, Burgundy, Bourbon, and Cleves: the Count of Charolois, eldest son of the Duke of Burgundy; the Counts of Angoulesme, St Paul, Dunois, and others; with, as a chronicle of the time relates, "autres comtes, barons, chevaliers, capitaines, et force noblesse, en tres bel ordre et posture." All of these were mounted on horses of price, richly caparisoned, and covered with the finest housings; some were of cloth of gold furred with sable, others were of velvet or damask furred with ermine; all were enriched with precious stones, and to many were attached bells of silver gilt, with other "enjolivements." Over the gateway was a large ship, the armorial bearing of the city, and within it were a number of allegorical personages, with one who represented Louis XI. himself; in the street immediately within the gate was a party of savages and satyrs, who executed a mock-fight in honour of the approach of royalty. A little lower down came forth a troop of young women representing syrens; an old chronicle calls them, "Plusieurs belles filles accoustrees en syrenes, nues, lesquelles, en faisant voir leur beau sein, chantoient de petits motets de bergeres fort doux et charmans." Near where these damsels stood was a fountain which had pipes running with milk, wine, and hypocras; at the side of the Church of the Holy Trinity was a tableau-vivant of the Passion of our Saviour, including a crucified Christ and two thieves, represented, as the chronicle states, "par personnages sans parler." A little further on was a hunting party, with dogs and a hind, making a tremendous noise with hautboys and cors-de-chasse. The butchers on the open place near the Chastelet, had raised some lofty scaffolds, and on them had erected a representation of the Bastille or Chateau of Dieppe. Just as the king passed by, a desperate combat was going on between the French besieging this chateau and the English holding garrison within; "the latter," adds the chronicle, "having been taken prisoners, had all their throats cut." Before the gate of the Chastelet, there were the personifications of several illustrious heroes; and on the Pont-au-Change, which was carpeted below, hung with arms at the sides, and canopied above for the occasion, stood the fowlers with their two hundred dozens of birds, ready to fly them as soon as the royal charger should stamp on the first stone. Such was a royal entry in those days of iron rule.

Before Louis XI.'s father, Charles VII., had any reasonable prospect of reigning in Paris as king, the English troops had to be driven out of the capital; and when the French forces had scaled the walls, and entered the city, A.D. 1436, the 1500 Englishmen who defended the place, had but little mercy shown them. Seeing that the game was lost, Sir H. Willoughby, captain of Paris, shut himself up with a part of the troops in the Bastille, accompanied by the Bishop of Therouenne, and Morhier, the provost of the city. The people rose to the cry of "Sainct Denys, Vive le noble Roy de France!" The constable of France, the Duke de Richemont, and the Bastard of Orleans, led them on; those troops that had been shut out of the Bastille, tried to make their way up the Rue St Denis, to the northern gateway, and so to escape on the road to Beauvais and England but the inhabitants stretched chains across the street, and men, women, and children, showered down upon them from the windows, chairs, tables, logs of wood, stones, and even boiling water; while others rushed in from behind and from the side streets, with arms in their hands, and the massacre of all the English fugitives ensued. A short time after, Sir H. Willoughby, and the garrison of the Bastille, not receiving succours from the commanders of the English forces, surrendered the fortress, and were allowed to retire to Rouen. As they marched out of Paris, the Bishop of Therouenne accompanied them, and the populace followed the troops, shouting out at the Bishop—"The fox! the fox!"—and at the English, "The tail! the tail!"

Another departure of a foreign garrison from Paris, took place in 1594, and this time in peaceable array, by the Rue St Denis. When Henry IV. had obtained possession of his capital, there remained in it a considerable body of Spanish troops, who had been sent into France to aid the chiefs of the League, and they were under the command of the Duke de Feria. The reaction in the minds of the Parisians, after the misery of their siege, had been too sudden and too complete, to give the Spaniards any hope of holding out against the king; a capitulation was therefore agreed upon, the foreign forces were allowed to march out with the honours of war, and they were escorted with their baggage as far as the frontier. The king and his principal officers took post within the rooms over the Porte St Denis—then a square turreted building, with a pointed and portcullised gate and drawbridge beneath—to see the troops march out, and he stationed himself at the window looking down the street. First came some companies of Neapolitan infantry, with drums beating, standards flying, arms on their shoulders, but without having their matches lighted. Then came the Spanish Guards, in the midst of whom were the Duke de Feria, Don Diego d'Ibara, and Don Juan Baptista Taxis, all mounted on spirited Spanish chargers; while behind them marched the battalions of the Lansquenets, and the Walloons. As each company came up to the gateway, the soldiers, marching by fours, raised their eyes to the king, took off their headpieces, and bowed; the officers did the same, and Henry returned the salutation with the greatest courtesy. He was particular in showing this politeness, in the most marked manner, to the Duke de Feria and his noble companions, and when they were within hearing, cried out aloud, "Recommend me to your master, but never show your faces here again!" Some of the more obnoxious members of the League were allowed to retire with the Spaniards; and in the evening, bonfires were lighted in all the streets, and the Te Deum was sung on all the public places. The mediaeval glory of the Porte St Denis vanished in the time of Louis XIV., where he unfortified the city, which one of his successors has taken such pains again to imprison within stone walls, and the present triumphal arch was erected upon its site. This modern edifice, it is well known, served for the entrance of Charles X. from Rheims, and, shortly after, for a post whence the trumpery patriots of 1830 contrived to annoy some of the cavalry who were fighting in the cause of the legitimacy and the true liberties of France. Many a barricade and many a skirmish has the Rue St Denis since witnessed!

All the churches have disappeared from the Rue St Denis except that of St Leu and St Gilles, a small building of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries: all the convents have been rased to the ground except that of St Lazare. To this a far different destination has been given from what it formerly enjoyed: it is now the great female prison of the capital; and within its walls all the bread required for the prisons of Paris is baked, all the linen is made and mended. The prison consists of three distinct portions: one allotted for carrying on the bread and linen departments: a second for the detention of female criminals before conviction, or for short terms of imprisonment; and in this various light manufactures, such as the making of baskets, straw-plait, and the red phosphorus-match boxes, are carried on: the third is an hospital and house of detention for the prostitutes of the capital. We were once taken all through this immense establishment by the governor, who had the kindness to accompany us, and to explain every thing in person—a favour not often granted to foreigners—and a strong impression did the scenes we then saw leave. In the first two departments every thing was gloomy, orderly, and quiet: the prisoners were much fewer than we had expected—not above two hundred—many of them, however, were mere children; but the matrons were good kind of women and the work of reformation was going on rapidly to counteract the effects of early crime. In the third, though equal strictness of conduct on the part of the superiors prevailed, the behaviour of the inmates subjected to control was far different. The great majority had been confined there as hospital patients, not as offenders against the law, and they were divided into wards, according to their sanatory condition. Here they were very numerous; and a melancholy thing it was to see hundreds of wretched creatures wandering about their spacious rooms, or sitting up in their beds, with haggard looks, dishevelled hair, hardly any clothing, and a sort of reckless gaiety in their manner that spoke volumes as to their real condition. The regime of this prison-hospital is found, however, to be on the whole most salutary: the seeds of good are sown with a few; the public health, as well as the public morals, has been notably improved; and from the time when a young painter employed in the prison was decoyed into this portion of it and killed within a few hours, the occurrence of deeds of violence within its walls has been very rare.

From the top of the Faubourg St Denis, all through the suburb of La Chapelle, the long line of modern habitations extends, without offering any points of historical interest. It is, indeed, a very commonplace, everyday kind of road, which hardly any Englishman that has jumbled along in the Messageries Royales can fail of recollecting. Nothing poetical, nothing romantic, was ever known to take place between the Barriere de St Denis and the town where the abbey stands. We know, however, of an odd occurrence upon this ground, towards the end of the thirteenth century, (we were not alive then, gentle reader,) strikingly illustrative of the superstition of the times. In 1274, the church of St Gervais, in Paris, was broken into one night by some sacrilegious dog, who ran off with the golden pix, containing the consecrated wafer or host. Not thinking himself safe within the city, away he went for St Denis—got without the city walls in safety, and made off as fast as he could for the abbatial town. Before arriving there, he thought he would have a look at the contents of the precious vessel, when, on his opening the lid, out jumped the holy wafer, up it flew into the air over his head, and there it kept dodging about, and bobbing up and down, behind the affrightened thief, and following him wherever he went. He rushed into the town of St Denis, but there was the wafer coming after him, and just above his head; whichever way he turned, there was the flying wafer. It was now broad daylight, and some of the inhabitants perceived the miracle. This was immediately reported by them to the abbot of the monastery. The holy father and his monks sallied forth; all saw the wafer as plain as they saw each others' shaven crowns. The man was immediately arrested; the pix was found on him, and the abbot, as a feudal seigneur, having the right of life and death within his own fief, had him hung up to the nearest tree within five minutes. The abbot then sent word to the Bishop of Paris of what had occurred; and the prelate, attended by the curates and clergy of the capital, went to St Denis to witness the miracle. But wonders were not to cease; there they found the abbot and monks looking up into the air; there was the wafer sticking up somewhere under the sun, and none of them could devise how they were to get it down again. The monks began singing canticles and litanies; the Parisian clergy did the same; still the wafer would not move a hair's breadth. At last they resolved to adjourn to the Abbey Church; and so they formed themselves into procession, and stepped forwards. The monks had reached the abbey door, the bishop and his clergy were following behind, and the clergy of St Gervais were just under the spot where the wafer was suspended, when, presto, down it popped into the hands of the little red-nosed curate. "Its mine!" cried the curate: "I'll have it!" shouted the bishop: "I wish you may get it," roared the abbot—and a regular scramble took place. But the little curate held his prize fast; his vicars stuck to him like good men and true; and they carried off their prize triumphant. The bishop and the abbot drew up a solemn memorial and covenant on the spot, whereby the wafer was legally consigned to its original consecrator and owner, the curate of St Gervais; and it was agreed that every 1st of September, the day of the miracle, a solemn office and procession of the Holy Sacrament should be celebrated within his church. The reverend father Du Breul, the grave historian of Paris, adds: "L'histoire du dit miracle est naifvement depeinte en une vitre de la chapelle Sainct Pierre d'icelle eglise, ou sont aussi quelques vers Francois, contenans partie d'icelle histoire."


In days of old it was the remark of more than one philosopher, that, if it were possible to exhibit virtue in a personal form, and clothed with attributes of sense, all men would unite in homage to her supremacy. The same thing is true of other abstractions, and especially of the powers which work by social change. Could these powers be revealed to us in any symbolic incarnation—were it possible that, but for one hour, the steadfast march of their tendencies, their promises, and their shadowy menaces, could be made apprehensible to the bodily eye—we should be startled, and oftentimes appalled, at the grandeur of the apparition. In particular, we may say that the advance of civilization, as it is carried forward for ever on the movement continually accelerated of England and France, were it less stealthy and inaudible than it is, would fix, in every stage, the attention of the inattentive and the anxieties of the careless. Like the fabulous music of the spheres, once allowed to break sonorously upon the human ear, it would render us deaf to all other sounds. Heard or not heard, however, marked or not marked, the rate of our advance is more and more portentous. Old things are passing away. Every year carries us round some obstructing angle, laying open suddenly before us vast reaches of fresh prospect, and bringing within our horizon new agencies by which civilization is henceforth to work, and new difficulties against which it is to work; other forces for co-operation, other resistances for trial. Meantime the velocity of these silent changes is incredibly aided by the revolutions, both moral and scientific, in the machinery of nations; revolutions by which knowledge is interchanged, power propagated, and the methods of communication multiplied. And the vast aerial arches by which these revolutions mount continually to the common zenith of Christendom, so as to force themselves equally upon the greatest of nations and the humblest, express the aspiring destiny by which, already and irresistibly, they are coming round upon all other tribes and families of men, however distant in position, or alien by system and organization. The nations of the planet, like ships of war man[oe]uvring prelusively to some great engagement, are silently taking up their positions, as it were, for future action and reaction, reciprocally for doing and suffering. And, in this ceaseless work of preparation or of noiseless combination, France and England are seen for ever in the van. Whether for evil or for good, they must be in advance. And if it were possible to see the relative positions of all Christendom, its several divisions, expressed as if on the monuments of Persepolis by endless evolutions of cities in procession or of armies advancing, we should be awakened to the full solemnity of our duties by seeing two symbols flying aloft for ever in the head of nations—two recognizances for hope or for fear—the roses of England and the lilies of France.

Reflections such as these furnish matter for triumphal gratulation, but also for great depression: and in the enormity of our joint responsibilities, we French and English have reason to forget the grandeur of our separate stations. It is fit that we should keep alive these feelings, and continually refresh them, by watching the everlasting motions of society, by sweeping the moral heavens for ever with our glasses in vigilant detection of new phenomena, and by calling to a solemn audit, from time to time, the national acts which are undertaken, or the counsels which in high places are avowed.

Amongst these acts and these counsels none justify a more anxious attention than such as come forward in the senate. It is true that great revolutions may brood over us for a long period without awakening any murmur or echo in Parliament; of which we have an instance in Puseyism, which is a power of more ominous capacities than the gentleness of its motions would lead men to suspect, and is well fitted (as hereafter we may show) to effect a volcanic explosion—such as may rend the Church of England by schisms more extensive and shattering than those which have recently afflicted the Church of Scotland. Generally, however, Parliament becomes, sooner or later, a mirror to the leading phenomena of the times. These phenomena, to be valued thoroughly, must be viewed, indeed, from different stations and angles. But one of these aspects is that which they assume under the legislative revision of the people. It is more than ever requisite that each session of Parliament should be searched and reviewed in the capital features of its legislation. Hereafter we may attempt this duty more elaborately. For the present we shall confine ourselves to a hasty survey of some few principal measures in the late session which seem important to our social progress.

We shall commence our review by the fewest possible words on the paramount nuisance of the day—viz. the corn-law agitation. This is that question which all men have ceased to think sufferable. This is that "mammoth" nuisance of our times by which "the gaiety of nations is eclipsed." We are thankful that its "damnable iterations" have now placed it beyond the limits of public toleration. No man hearkens to such debates any longer—no man reads the reports of such debates: it is become criminal to quote them; and recent examples of torpor beyond all torpor, on occasion of Cobden meetings amongst the inflammable sections of our population, have shown—that not the poorest of the poor are any longer to be duped, or to be roused out of apathy, by this intolerable fraud. Full of "gifts and lies" is the false fleeting Association of these Lancashire Cottoneers. But its gifts are too windy, and its lies are too ponderous. To the Association is "given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies;" and out of this mouth issues "fire," it is true, against all that is excellent in the land, but also "smoke"—as the consummation of its overtures. During many reigns of the Caesars, a race of swindlers infested the Roman court, technically known as "sellers of smoke," and often punished under that name. They sold, for weighty considerations of gold, castles in the air, imaginary benefices, ideal reversions; and, in short, contracted wholesale or retail for the punctual delivery of unadulterated moonshine. Such a dealer, such a contractor, is the Anti-Corn-Law Association; and for such it has always been known amongst intelligent men. But its character has now diffused itself among the illiterate: and we believe it to be the simple truth at this moment, that every working man, whose attention has at any time been drawn to the question, is now ready to take his stand upon the following answer:—"We, that is our order, Mr Cobden, are not very strong in faith. Our faith in the Association is limited. So much, however, by all that reaches us, we are disposed to believe—viz. that ultimately you might succeed in reducing the price of a loaf, by three parts in forty-eight, which is one sixteenth; with what loss to our own landed order, and with what risk to the national security in times of war or famine, is no separate concern of ours. On the other hand, Mr Cobden, in your order there are said to be knaves in ambush; and we take it, that the upshot of the change will be this: We shall save three farthings in a shilling's worth of flour; and the honest men of your order—whom candour forbid that we should reckon at only twenty-five per cent on the whole—will diminish our wages simply by that same three farthings in a shilling; but the knaves (we are given to understand) will take an excuse out of that trivial change to deduct four, five, or six farthings; they will improve the occasion in evangelical proportions—some sixty-fold, some seventy, and some a hundred."

This is the settled practical faith of those hard-working men, who care not to waste their little leisure upon the theory of the corn-laws. It is this practical result only which concerns us; for as to the speculative logic of the case, as a question for economists, we, who have so often discussed it in this journal, (which journal, we take it upon us to say, has, from time to time, put forward or reviewed every conceivable argument on the corn question,) must really decline to re-enter the arena, and actum agere, upon any occasion ministered by Mr Cobden. Very frankly, we disdain to do so; and now, upon quitting the subject, we will briefly state why.

Mr Cobden, as we hear and believe, is a decent man—that is to say, upon any ground not connected with politics; equal to six out of any ten manufacturers you will meet in the Queen's high road—whilst of the other four not more than three will be found conspicuously his superiors. He is certainly, in the senate, not what Lancashire rustics mean by a hammil sconce;[28] or, according to a saying often in the mouth of our French emigrant friends in former times, he "could not have invented the gun-powder, though perhaps he might have invented the hair-powder." Still, upon the whole, we repeat, that Mr Cobden is a decent man, wherever he is not very indecent. Is he therefore a decent man on this question of the corn-laws? So far from it, that we now challenge attention to one remarkable fact. All the world knows how much he has talked upon this particular topic; how he has itinerated on its behalf; how he has perspired under its business. Is there a fortunate county in England which has yet escaped his harangues? Does that happy province exist which has not reverberated his yells? Doubtless, not—and yet mark this: Not yet, not up to the present hour, (September 20, 1843,) has Mr Cobden delivered one argument properly and specially applicable to the corn question. He has uttered many things offensively upon the aristocracy; he has libelled the lawgivers; he has insulted the farmers; he has exhausted the artillery of political abuse: but where is the economic artillery which he promised us, and which, (strange to say!) from the very dulness of his theme making it a natural impossibility to read him, most people are willing to suppose that he has, after one fashion or other, actually discharged. The Corn-League benefits by its own stupidity. Not being read, every leaguer has credit for having uttered the objections which, as yet, he never did utter. Hence comes the popular impression, that from Mr Cobden have emanated arguments, of some quality or other, against the existing system. True, there are arguments in plenty on the other side, and pretty notorious arguments; but, pendente lite, and until these opposite pleas are brought forward, it is supposed that the Cobden pleas have a brief provisional existence—they are good for the moment. Not at all. We repeat that, as to economic pleas, none of any kind, good or bad, have been placed on the record by any orator of that faction; whilst all other pleas, keen and personal as they may appear, are wholly irrelevant to any real point at issue. In illustration of what we say, one (and very much the most searching) of Mr Cobden's questions to the farmers, was this—"Was not the object," he demanded, "was not the very purpose of all corn-laws alike—simply to keep up the price of grain? Well; had the English corn-laws accomplished that object? Had they succeeded in that purpose? Notoriously they had not; confessedly they had failed; and every farmer in the corn districts would avouch that often he had been brought to the brink of ruin by prices ruinously low." Now, we pause not to ask, why, if the law already makes the prices of corn ruinously low, any association can be needed to make it lower? What we wish to fix attention upon, is this assumption of Mr Cobden's, many times repeated, that the known object and office of our corn-law, under all its modifications, has been to elevate the price of our corn; to sustain it at a price to which naturally it could not have ascended. Many sound speculators on this question we know to have been seriously perplexed by this assertion of Mr Cobden's; and others, we have heard, not generally disposed to view that gentleman's doctrines with favour, who insist upon it, that, in mere candour, we must grant this particular postulate. "Really," say they, "that cannot be refused him; the law was for the purpose he assigns; its final cause was, as he tells us, to keep up artificially the price of our domestic corn-markets. So far he is right. But his error commences in treating this design as an unfair one, and, secondly, in denying that it has been successful. It has succeeded; and it ought to have succeeded. The protection sought for our agriculture was no more than it merited; and that protection has been faithfully realized."

[28] A hammil sconce, or light of the hamlet, is the picturesque expression in secluded parts of Lancashire for the local wise man, or village counsellor.

We, however, vehemently deny Mr Cobden's postulate in toto. He is wrong, not merely as others are wrong in the principle of refusing this protection, not merely on the question of fact as to the reality of this protection, (to enter upon which points would be to adopt that hateful discussion which we have abjured;) but, above all, he is wrong in assigning to corn-laws, as their end and purpose, an absolute design of sustaining prices. To raise prices is an occasional means of the corn-laws, and no end at all. In one word, what is the end of the corn-laws? It is, and ever has been, to equalize the prospects of the farmer from year to year, with the view, and generally with the effect, of drawing into the agricultural service of the nation, as nearly as possible, the same amount of land at one time as at another. This is the end; and this end is paramount. But the means to that end must lie, according to the accidents of the case, alternately through moderate increase of price, or moderate diminution of price. The besetting oversight, in this instance, is the neglect of the one great peculiarity affecting the manufacture of corn—viz. its inevitable oscillation as to quantity, consequently as to price, under the variations of the seasons. People talk, and encourage mobs to think, that Parliaments cause, and that Parliaments could heal if they pleased, the evil of fluctuation in grain. Alas! the evil is as ancient as the weather, and, like the disease of poverty, will cleave to society for ever. And the way in which a corn-law—that is, a restraint upon the free importation of corn—affects the case, is this:—Relieving the domestic farmer from that part of his anxiety which points to the competition of foreigners, it confines it to the one natural and indefeasible uncertainty lying in the contingencies of the weather. Releasing him from all jealousy of man, it throws him, in singleness of purpose, upon an effort which cannot be disappointed, except by a power to which, habitually, he bows and resigns himself. Secure, therefore, from all superfluous anxieties, the farmer enjoys, from year to year, a pretty equal encouragement in distributing the employments of his land. If, through the dispensations of Providence, the quantity of his return falls short, he knows that some rude indemnification will arise in the higher price. If, in the opposite direction, he fears a low price, it comforts him to know that this cannot arise for any length of time but through some commensurate excess in quantity. This, like other severities of a natural or general system, will not, and cannot, go beyond a bearable limit. The high price compensates grossly the defect of quantity; the overflowing quantity in turn compensates grossly the low price. And thus it happens that, upon any cycle of ten years, taken when you will, the manufacture of grain will turn out to have been moderately profitable. Now, on the other hand, under a system of free importation, whenever a redundant crop in England coincides (as often it does) with a similar redundancy in Poland, the discouragement cannot but become immoderate. An excess of one-seventh will cause a fall of price by three-sevenths. But the simultaneous excess on the Continent may raise the one-seventh to two-sevenths, and in a much greater proportion will these depress the price. The evil will then be enormous; the discouragement will be ruinous; much capital, much land, will be withdrawn from the culture of grain; and, supposing a two years' succession of such excessive crops, (which effect is more common than a single year's excess,) the result, for the third year, will be seen in a preternatural deficiency; for, by the supposition, the number of acres applied to corn is now very much less than usual, under the unusual discouragement; and according to the common oscillations of the season according to those irregularities that, in effect, are often found to be regular—this third year succeeding to redundant years may be expected to turn out a year of scarcity. Here, then, in the absence of a corn-law, comes a double deficiency—a deficiency of acres applied, from jealousy of foreign competition, and upon each separate acre a deficiency of crop, from the nature of the weather. What will be the consequence? A price ruinously high; higher beyond comparison than could ever have arisen under a temperate restriction of competition; that is, in other words, under a British corn-law.

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