The grim verger recommended us to ascend to the dome, and, after paying fresh fees, we mounted an enormously long and steep-winding staircase, which led us to the base of the dome. Here was a circular gallery, surrounded with a railing. Scarcely had we entered this gallery, when the attendant purposely slammed the entrance door, and immediately a loud peal, as of thunder, reverberated through the vast building; then he requested us to listen whilst he whispered against the smooth wall directly opposite to us. The effect was startling; every word was as distinct as though the speaker's lips had been close to my ear. This is known as the Whispering Gallery, and is one of the great lions of the place.
We now prepared to ascend still higher, and, after a tedious journey, arrived at the gilded gallery, which surmounts the dome. From hence we enjoyed a magnificent view of London, for, fortunately, the atmosphere was comparatively clear, and the everlasting canopy of smoke which overhangs London was not so dense as usual. Spread out before us lay the great wilderness of brick and mortar, through which the shining Thames, like a huge snake, pursued its sinuous course, spanned at intervals by bridges, and bearing, on its broad bosom the gathered treasures of many a far-distant nation. The streets, diminished to mere lanes, looked alive with Lilliputians; miniature horses and carriages appeared like so many German automaton toys which had been wound up and set a-going. Far away to the westward patches of green, studded with trees, denoted the parks, in one of which glittered the glass roof and sides of the Crystal Palace; and still more remote were glimpses of the free, fresh, open country, along which, at intervals, would rush railway trains, bearing hundreds of passengers to various parts of England. Above my head glittered, in the brilliant sunshine, the ball and cross which, at a height of four hundred and four feet, stands proudly over London, and may be seen from various parts of the metropolis. Another fee secured our passage to the interior of this globe of gilded copper, and which is about six feet in diameter, and will hold several persons. To reach it, I had to ascend a ladder and creep through an aperture at the bottom of the sphere. This was not worth the labor, but then we could say we had attained the highest point of the cathedral. I hear that ladies sometimes venture into the ball; if so, their timidity is insufficient to baffle their curiosity. This accomplished, we retraced our steps, and visited the portion of St. Paul's in which divine service is performed. About a dozen boys, dressed in white surplices, were chanting sweetly; a dull-looking clergyman read the service indifferently; and a score of poor people, with one or two well-dressed persons, formed the congregation. We then departed for Westminster Abbey, which must form the subject of another letter.
What shall I tell you about Westminster Abbey? I hope I may be able to say enough to make you long to see it, and determine you to read all you can about it. By the way, I have satisfied myself that I can learn the best things about such places by carefully reading good histories and examining the best engravings. This abbey claims to have been built, in 616, by a Saxon king. It was enlarged by Edgar and Edward the Confessor, and was rebuilt as it now appears by Henry III. and Edward I. In this church all the sovereigns of England have been crowned, from Edward the Confessor down to Victoria; and not a few of them have been buried here. The architecture, excepting Henry VII.'s Chapel; is of the early English school. Henry's chapel is of the perpendicular Gothic. The western towers were built by Sir Christopher Wren.
We entered at the door leading to the Poet's Corner. We gazed with interest on the monuments of Chatham, Pitt, Fox, and Canning, Prince Rupert, Monk, Chaucer, Spenser, Beaumont, Fletcher, Ben Jonson, Cowley, Dryden, Dr. Watts, Addison, Gay, Sheridan, and Campbell. Here, too, are tablets to Barrow, South, Garrick, Handel, Clarendon, Bishop Atterbury, Sir Isaac Newton, and old Parr, who died at the age of one hundred and fifty-two.
The associations of this building are every thing to the stranger. I will just give you a list of names of the kings and queens buried here—Sebert, Edward the Confessor, Henry III., Edward I., Queen Eleanor, Edward III. and his queen, Philippa, Richard II. and his queen, Henry V., Henry VII. and his queen, Ann of Cleves, queen of Henry VIII., Edward VI., Bloody Mary, Mary, Queen of Scots, Queen Elizabeth, James I. and his queen, Queen of Bohemia, Charles II., William III. and Mary, Queen Anne, George II. and Queen Caroline.
We took the circuit of the chapels, beginning with St. Benedict. Here many eminent churchmen have been interred. The next is St. Edmond's, which contains twenty monuments; the monument of the Earl of Pembroke, brother of Henry III.; he died 1298. Here, too, are tombs of children of Edward II. and Edward III. I noticed a very fine brass monument, which represents a Duchess of Gloucester in her dress as a nun, dated 1399. There is, too, the effigy of the Duchess of Suffolk, mother of poor Lady Jane Grey. The third is St. Nicholas's Chapel, where is seen Lord Burleigh's monument. The fourth is the Virgin Mary's Chapel, called Henry VII.'s Chapel, and the ascent to which is by twelve or fourteen steps. This glorious room consists of a central aisle, with five small chapels and two side aisles. Here you see the stalls and banners of the Knights of the Bath, who were formerly installed in this chapel. The altar tomb of Henry VII. is truly beautiful; Lord Bacon said, "It is one of the costliest and daintiest tombs in Europe." Here are tombs of his mother, and the mother of Lord George Darnley, and Mary, Queen of Scots, and the Duke of Buckingham, Queen Elizabeth, and Queen Mary. Here, too, is a sarcophagus, which is supposed to contain the remains of Edward V. and the Duke of York, discovered in the Tower in the seventeenth century, in a box. Charles II., William and Mary, and Queen Anne are in a vault on the south aisle. George II. and his queen, Caroline, lie together, a side being taken out of each coffin. The fifth chapel is St. Paul's. The most striking object here is a colossal portrait statue of James Watt, the great steam-engine perfecter, if not inventor. This is by Chantrey, and cost six thousand pounds, and seems quite out of place. Archbishop Usher lies in this chapel. The sixth chapel, called Edward the Confessor's, pleased me greatly. In the centre is the shrine of the monarch saint; it is rich in mosaic adornments. The altar tomb of Henry III. is very grand, and there is a noble bronze statue of the king. Edward I. is here, and in 1774 his body was found almost entire. Edward III. and Philippa, his queen, have tombs. Here, too, was Henry V., the hero of Agincourt, Richard II. and queen. We were delighted with the two coronation chairs; in one is the old stone of Scone, on which the early Scotch kings used to be crowned. Edward I. carried it off, and it has ever since figured in English coronations. It is a large piece of red and gray sandstone, and claims to have been the veritable pillow on which Jacob slept. The seventh chapel is that of St. Erasmus, and leads to the eighth, which is John the Baptist's. Here rest the early abbots of the church. It contains a very fine monument to Lord Hunsdon, chamberlain to Queen Bess. Just outside, in the aisle, we found the noble monument to General Wolfe, and the celebrated work of Roubilliac in memory of Mrs. Nightingale, where death is seen throwing his dart at the wife, who falls into her husband's arms.
All over this noble abbey did we wander again and again in repeated visits, and admire the finest statuary we have ever seen. Roubilliac was a wonderful genius, and his monument to Sir Peter Warren is exquisite. The works of Bacon, Flaxman, Nollekins, Chantrey, and Westmacott have made me in love with statuary; and I long to see the great works which are to be seen on the continent.
Many of the tablets and statues are only honorary, as the persons commemorated were not buried here; as Shakspeare, Southey, Thomson, Goldsmith, Dr. Watts, &c. I could spend hours looking at Roubilliac's monument for the Duke of Argyle and his statue for Handel.
We attended divine service one Sunday afternoon, and heard a very fine sermon from Lord John Thynne. The abbey was crowded; the music the best I ever heard in a church; the preacher was quite eloquent; and Dr. C. observed that it was the most evangelical sermon he had heard in England. The subject was on justification by faith:
I may forget many things that I shall see on our travels, but I think that this abbey will never vanish from my recollection. I shall always remember the very position of these great works of art and genius; and I am more than repaid for all the labor of a voyage.
No one comes to London without being told by every one to go and see the parks; so we have been to see these fine breathing places. Hyde Park is about four hundred acres, and has as many as half a dozen great entrances. Its position is high, and it is the great drive of the people of fashion. If you want to see London, you must come here on a fine summer day in June, at about four o'clock, and you will gaze on the finest and gayest equipages of England. A very pretty piece of water is in this park, which is called "the Serpentine River." The best skating of London is to be seen here, we are told, in hard winters. The entrance from Piccadilly is by a fine threefold arch. Here is the great Achilles of bronze, in honor of Wellington, made out of the cannon which the duke captured in Spain. St. James's and the Green Park: this is the oldest in London, and was made by Henry VIII. A fine arch affords entrance from Piccadilly, having a bronze colossal equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington. You get grand views of the Abbey towers, Buckingham Palace, the York Column, and other objects of interest. The two parks are about one hundred and fifty acres. Regent's Park is one of the most attractive spots in this great city. Here are villas of the finest kind. Some of the prettiest terraces and rows of houses about London are here to be seen. This park contains nearly five hundred acres, and, among other attractions, the Botanical and Zooelogical Gardens, and the Coliseum. Victoria Park, near Bethnal Green, is a new one, of about three hundred acres; but we did not visit it.
Besides these, there are more than thirty squares, some of which are very beautiful, and are finely planted and adorned. Belgrave Square is exceedingly rich in its appearance; the houses are built in the Corinthian order.
Northumberland House, at Charing Cross, is the city residence of the Duke of Northumberland. This, externally, has no great beauty, but is surmounted by the lion of the Percy family. It was built in 1605. This noble mansion has been politely opened by its proprietor to the visits of the foreigners who are here at the exhibition. It is a princely mansion; and, although we had recently been to Windsor, and seen the royal residence, yet we thought this palace home almost regal in its splendor. The staircase is splendid, and the apartments are very magnificent. The hall and drawing-rooms are quite equal, in decorations and paintings, to the rooms at Windsor. We were much pleased with two large pictures—a fox and deer hunt, by Snyders; but there were so many, that it is difficult to single out those we admired. There are some beautiful paintings of Napoleon, and exquisite carvings in ivory. In one of the saloons we were all struck with a large Sevres china vase, presented to the Duke of Northumberland by Charles X., at his coronation, at which occasion the duke was present as ambassador extraordinary, and made a most astonishing display of English wealth and liberality.
Sion House, near Brentford, is another palace belonging to the duke. This noble mansion is on the banks of the Thames, and is composed of freestone. It is very gorgeously furnished, and the hothouses and conservatories are not much, if any, inferior to Chatsworth. This mansion has also, been opened to visitors from abroad, and we received orders from the minister.
One of the sweetest features about the metropolis, to my taste, is the vast number of charming villages that surround it. Go where you may, you fall in with cottages, villas, and mansions, that convey to the mind the ideas of comfort, elegance, and wealth.
I find from Weld that he forgot to tell you that we went to St. Margaret's Church, which stands only a few yards off from Westminster Abbey. This is a very old building, and said to be of the days of Edward I. In this very building the celebrated fast-day sermons of the Long Parliament were preached, and I felt much interest in thinking how often Cromwell, Pym, Peters, and Harrison had worshipped God in that house. In this church, too, the Assembly of Divines worshipped, and also the Scotch commissioners, and took the covenant. This church boasts a painted window of exquisite beauty, which came as a present, from Holland, to Henry VII.; and the historical associations of this window are very curious, and well worth your reading about. The monuments of this sanctuary are far from being devoid of interest. I may name, among others, those to Caxton, Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir James Harrington, author of the great book, "Oceana," the wife of Milton, the mother of Cromwell, all of whom are here interred.
While I am speaking of churches, let me tell you that, close by our hotel, is a very fine one, that pleases me exceedingly. It is called St. Martin's-in-the-Fields, but is at present quite central as it regards the metropolis. I think the portico is to my eye equal to any piece of architecture in London. It was built in 1726. A church stood here for many centuries; and in 1680, Baxter said that forty thousand people of the parish could not get into the church; and he adds that they "lived like Americans, without hearing a sermon for many years." This church has an exquisite chime of bells, and they very much amused me every morning.
I have not written you for some time. But today I have seen a number of things which I am sure you would be pleased with, and so I will tell you about them. Early in the morning we went to see the Mansion House. This is the dwelling-house of the lord mayor of London. It is a fine-looking building, but has a queer upper story, with small windows, which look badly, over the noble pillars and portico. The great room used for public occasions is the Egyptian Hall, for what reason does not appear from any thing about it. Here the lord mayor has his great feasts. I should like to be in London on the 9th of November, which is his day of inauguration; and this is the great day for Londoners. He rides in a large carved gilt carriage. I believe he goes to Westminster by water, in a splendid barge, and comes back in his coach. The salary is eight thousand pounds; but the expenses are beyond this amount, and some persons refuse to serve, and pay a fine of five hundred pounds; but this is a rare case, and enough are ready to pay for the honor. In the city the mayor ranks before the royal family. The title of "your lordship" ceases at the expiration of his office.
Our next visit was to the Royal Exchange, a very noble quadrangle, which was finished in 1844. It stands finely between the Bank of England and the Mansion House, and in front there is a sort of open space, or widening of the streets. This is the third building which has occupied the same spot—the two earlier ones were both burnt down. The original Exchange was built by Sir Thomas Gresham, and opened by Queen Elizabeth in 1570. It was copied from the famous Burse at Antwerp, which still stands. It is singular that, in the great fires of 1666 and 1838, the statue of Sir Thomas Gresham escaped uninjured. The Exchange is built of Portland stone, and already has acquired, from the smoke of London, a venerable tinge. The portico, I am told, is the largest in the kingdom; but the one at St. Martin's Church I like better. Crossing over the road, we were at the Bank of England. This is a truly immense affair. The walls measure fourteen hundred and sixty feet. It wad built in 1734, but has had many alterations and additions, and now covers four acres. We did not go into it.
The docks of London are among the attractions of the place. They are called St. Catharine's, London, East India, West India, Commercial, &c. These are tar too great an affair for me to describe; and to look at them, and then think of writing an account, is very much like a small boy opening a book of mathematics and trying to understand it. What do you think of the tobacco warehouse, at the docks covering five acres? Then the tea in bonded warehouses was worth twenty-five millions of dollars; and there are ten millions of pounds of pepper, six millions of gallons of wine, and other things in proportion. I inquired about the shipping, and was told that there were about four thousand seven hundred and fifty vessels, and eighty thousand seamen, employed in the foreign commerce of the city; and beyond all this, twenty-one thousand coasting vessels, averaging five or six men to each craft. Nothing in London amazes us like these docks. Here you see Malays, Turks, Lascars, Chinese, Russians, Portuguese, Dutch, French, Negroes, and men of all nations.
We went several times to walk through Covent Garden Market, and to see it to advantage you must go very early in the morning. The supply of fruits and flowers is perfectly astonishing, and the perfume is very fine. You little imagine, Charley, the prices that early vegetables and fruits fetch. A cucumber and onion, wrapped up in grape leaves, will, in February, March, and early part of April, find purchasers at two, three, and four dollars. Strawberries, peaches, and pines are sold in early season at what we should think "awful" prices. The hothouse grapes are very beautiful, and the vegetable productions are more carefully raised, and in greater variety, than with us. If you want to know all about Covent Garden Market, you must read Mayhew on London Labor—a nice book.
We boys had a treat the other day at an autograph collector's. His collection was large and rare, but his prices very high. I have saved a catalogue for you.
To-morrow we are off for the continent, and we are very busy in making our arrangements; so I must close. Our next will be from La Belle France.
On a fine morning we left London, by rail, for Dover, in company with the Rev. Dr. Murray, of New Jersey, and Dr. Chetwood, who made quite a pleasant addition to our party. On reaching Dover, we were gratified with the commanding position of the castle, which stands upon the white chalky cliffs so celebrated by Shakspeare. The town lies in a charming valley. Dover boasts of high antiquity. The Saxons and Romans both left enduring memorials of their residence. Its importance was felt at a very early day, on account of its being the best and authorized port to carry on intercourse with France. Dover Castle was a strong fortification when William the Conqueror landed. We found a steamer ready to start, and in a few minutes were all on board. The Straits of Dover are but twenty-one miles wide; and yet, in this short passage of barely two hours, we all suffered sadly from sea sickness. The boat was small, the passengers were numerous, and all were thankful to plant their feet upon the soil of the republic. The examination of our passports, and refreshment at the station-house, occupied about half an hour, and we again entered on our journey by the rail. I shall say nothing of the place, at present, as we fully intend to pass a day here, on our return, to examine this interesting old city. We found the cars good, the railroad excellent but every thing looked strange. No farms laid out in fine fields, and divided off by hedges, as in England; or fences and stone walls, as with us. We every where noticed women working in the field. We passed through St. Omer, a fortified town, of twenty thousand inhabitants. This is a town where many English Catholics have been sent for education. We then came to Lille, which looked like a large city. It has about seventy thousand inhabitants. The fortifications look very strong, and were constructed by the great Vauban. This place has been besieged several times—once by the Duke of Marlborough, for three months, when it surrendered under Marshal Boufflers. We were amazed at the vast number of windmills—amounting to hundreds—every where to be seen around the town; and the tall chimneys in the town tell plainly that this is a great manufacturing place. The windmills are employed in preparing flax for linen.
Douai was our next town. It has about eighteen thousand inhabitants, and has a foundery for ordnance. The Theological Seminary here has been famous, and most of the Catholic clergy of England and Ireland were formerly educated here. Arras is a town of about twenty-five thousand population, and is celebrated as the birthplace of Robespierre. It is said to be a very beautiful place, but we saw little of it. The cars next passed through Amiens, a city of about fifty thousand inhabitants. It was at this city that a treaty of peace was made between France and England, in 1802. Clermont is a very neat little town, of about five thousand inhabitants. It has a fine old castle, and every thing looked lively and prosperous. Pontoise, on the River Oise, is a small town; and I should think that, from the upper part of the town, the prospect is very beautiful.
We reached Paris in about eleven hours and a half from London. Really, this seems very strange, that I should breakfast in London and dine at Paris. After having our luggage examined at the station, by the police, we repaired at once to the Hotel Windsor, on the Rue Rivoli. This was the hotel where Dr. C. had his quarters, fifteen years ago; and is it not strange that we have the same suite of rooms that he then occupied? We have a fine drawing-room, a dining-room, and three good chambers. Our hotel is exactly opposite the gardens of the Tuileries, and is in the pleasantest part of the city. James, you know, was once here for three months; and he has quite a knowledge of the city, and seems perfectly at home. We take our breakfast in our apartments or the coffee-room, as suits us best, at about nine o'clock; our dinners in some good cafe, in various parts of the city, or at the table d'hote, at Meurice's Hotel, which is just next door to us. In calling on one or two persons, we found them in old apartments, but quite noble rooms, as high up as four and five stories; and we hear that many families live in the same building, and that many very respectable people live in the sixth, and even seventh story. This I should never like. Whenever we go out, we leave our key with the concierge or his wife, who live in a snug little apartment just inside the great gate, which opens into a well-paved court. We have determined not to engage a guide in Paris, because it is often annoying to have a coarse, vulgar mind disturbing you, when all you ask is silence and your own reflections. It is quite a mistake to suppose that you cannot get along without a valet de place—for in every hotel, and almost every large establishment, there are persons to be found who speak English. We paid our respects to our good friend the consul, and found him very comfortably settled down in his office, and residing in excellent style. A pleasant evening with his family made us all think of our old times on board the Arctic. The day after we arrived was James's birthday, and he was to give us a dinner, and had invited the consul and his son to dine with us. Well, at five we met at the consulate, and we boys walked ahead with Mr. G., Jr., leaving the doctor and the consul to bring up the rear. He supposed that his father understood where he proposed to take us, and so we went on speedily. In the Rue Vivienne they lost sight of us; we arrived at the Cafe Vachette, on the boulevards, and ordered dinner for the party. The gentlemen, however, kept walking the street for two hours. At last they gave up the matter as a bad case, and took refuge for a late dinner by themselves in a neighboring cafe. At nine we all met, sadly disappointed. The pleasant occasion had been quite disarranged, and some hard jokes passed upon our want of tact in not sending out scouts to search the Rue Vivienne, with the geography of which the doctor declares he is now perfectly acquainted—having tramped it for two hours with the consul. Of course, we all have to take their jokes upon our defrauding them of a fine dinner. We have dined since at the Trois Freres Provencaux, which has the reputation of being one of the best cafes in Paris. Our room commanded a perfect view of the quadrangle of the Palais Royal, and the spectacle was highly interesting. The accommodations of the room we occupied were very fine; and nothing could surpass the beauty of the table linen, plate, &c. We are about to commence the sights of the city in earnest, and are this evening to arrange our plans.
I like this city very much—every one seems so happy out of doors. Not only the poor, but the wealthy, are fond of the open air; and a great deal of time is spent in the gardens and on the boulevards. Every place seems to have provision made for the enjoyment of the people. Ices and lemonade are to be found wherever you go. The appearance of the streets in Paris is much gayer than those of London. You see a much greater number of women walking out, and they are generally very neatly dressed. But the streets do not look as substantial as they do in London. If there is more that is imposing, there is less that keeps up your wonder. I do not feel able to think that the people here have much business to do, for every one seems to be engaged in pleasure; and yet there are great concerns going on, and the fine manufactures of this city are only to be done by labor and attention. Nothing, at our first glances at the city, have pleased us more than the profusion of flowers every where to be seen. It is quite common to see men with a rose in the button hole, or a beautiful carnation. The roses are my admiration. I never saw such beauties before; and whether it is owing to the climate, or to scientific cultivation, I know not, but certainly I never have beheld such variety or perfection. In the flower shops you will find very large bunches of rosebuds, each bunch made up exclusively of buds of one size, from the dimensions of a pea in all gradations up to the diameter of a half dollar—not a leaf opened, simply a bouquet of rosebuds, and the whole embowered in a delicate sheet of white paper. I reckoned the contents of one, and found two hundred and sixty-seven buds not larger than a common pea, and the price was only a franc. The moss roses are beyond all my conceptions of floral beauty; and, go where I may, I find every niche of ground adorned with standard roses of various hues, and the walls and windows are beautified with brilliant geraniums, which are evidently great favorites.
We had a funny affair yesterday. We all went to make a call upon Mr. D——, and found his residence in a splendid part of the city; but, instead of being ushered into his drawing-room, we were brought into the saloon of no less a personage than the Lord Bishop of Jamaica! He politely directed us to the next apartment, where we spent an agreeable hour with the family, and found that similar mistakes occur almost daily.
Our first tramp for a sight was to Notre Dame; and I shall never forget, Charley, my first view of this cathedral. The exterior is more striking than any church edifice that I have yet seen. No engraving can afford a fair idea of its grandeur to one who has not seen it, though it will help my mind, to recall its beauties whenever I see the picture. You are so well read about Paris, that I hardly need tell you that eight centuries have rolled away since Notre Dame was built. It is regarded as the noblest Gothic pile in France, and is the pride of Paris. The front is one hundred and twenty feet wide, and the richness of the carvings upon the exterior is wonderful. I am really glad to see that great pains are taking to restore and adorn this church. The decayed stones are taken out, and new ones replaced, and the carvings also are renewed where necessary, so that future ages may see what so delights us. The two towers are forty feet square and two hundred high, and you ascend by a staircase of four hundred steps. The form of the church is that of the Latin cross. Its dimensions inside are four hundred feet by one hundred and forty, and the height is one hundred feet. All through the cathedral is a line of Gothic arches supported by columns, and, as you enter the great door, you see the entire edifice. The walls look bare to my eye, in spite of the paintings. We were much pleased at seeing the spot where Napoleon was crowned; and George was in ecstasies, for you know how thoroughly he goes in for his beau ideal of the hero. Here are, the splendid candelabra which the emperor gave on the occasion. We heard mass, but the service was very formal, and the priest might have been a real downeaster, for he had a horrid nasal twang, and his "sanctissime" was "shanktissime." The history of these churches is strange, and I think a pretty good book might be written on the romance of church architecture. The portal of the north aisle of the choir was erected by a vile assassin, the Duke of Burgundy, who murdered his cousin, the Duke of Orleans, in 1407. This, of course, was his penance, and fully expiated his crime. The great bell weighs thirty-two thousand pounds, and was baptized in presence of Louis XIV., and is called Emanuel Louise Therese, after his queen. I cannot attempt to describe the beauties of this building, inside or out. The exterior is all flying buttresses, crocketed pinnacles, and sculpture. Inside you see chapel after chapel; and as to windows of painted glass, they are studies for hours. The rose windows are exquisite.
We repaired to a small chapel used as a sacristy, or treasure-house of the church. Here we saw the coronation robes of Napoleon, and splendid capes and embroideries, in gold and silver, given by Charles X. and Louis Philippe; and here, too, is the vertebrae of the late Archbishop of Paris, who was killed in the revolution of 1848. The bone has a silver arrow tracing the course of the bullet, which lies beside it. This is in time to be a saintly relic, but it seems to me a filthy sight, and in wretched taste. But Popery knows well what to do with dead men's bones. For a minute description of this church, I would refer you to three volumes, called the "History of Paris," published by Galignani. On our return we went to the Hotel de Ville, and had the company of M. O——n, whose kindness did much for us on several occasions. The Hotel de Ville stands in the Place de Greve, where so much blood has been shed in other days. Here the martyrs of the Protestant faith have been put to death. Here it was that Dubourg was strangled and burnt by order of Francis II. Dubourg was a noble character. His last words were, "Father, abandon me not; neither will I abandon thee."
This noble pile was begun in 1533, and only completed in 1841, and in the modern improvements fifteen millions have been expended. The whole now forms an immense quadrangle. The front is Corinthian, with pillars and niches between the windows. A vast number of statues adorn the front, and others are in preparation.
It was at the doorway in the centre that Lamartine, "the noblest Roman of them all," so gloriously withstood the mob in February, 1848, declaring that the red flag should not be the flag of France. I wish you could see this palace, for such it is, though occupied by the city authorities. London has nothing to approach it in splendor. The staircases are gorgeous, and are so rich in sculpture that only a sculptor could properly speak of them. We saw the room where Robespierre held his council and attempted suicide, and also the window where our Lafayette embraced Louis Philippe, and presented him to the mob in 1830. It is the same window where poor Louis XVI. addressed the savages, when he wore the cap of liberty. By the way, I hate the sight of that cap, which always reminds me of the lamp-post executions of the French capital in 1792-3. Its prevalence in our happy country is owing to the French mania which once possessed the people, and has very much died out. The apartments are regal, and some of them, I think, quite superior to those of Windsor Castle. In this building is a fine library, and here are deposited the vast collection of American books obtained by Vattemare, whom, you recollect, we saw at Washington.
I cannot tell you how sorely vexed we are to find the Louvre shut up for repairs and decoration; every week they say it is to be reopened, but I fear we shall leave Paris ere it happens.
How much we would all give to have you here; for, though we are glad to tell you what we see, we feel there are scores of objects which interest us that we have to pass over, but which would make your eyes glisten, if you could gaze upon. Well, my dear fellow, stick to your business, make your fortune, and then come and look at the beautiful and fair in the old world; and who knows but perhaps we may yet chat cosily together in Paris? O, I do love to wander through this city by moonlight, and gaze upon the bright, lofty buildings as they loom up so gloriously in the mild lustre of a silvery night. God bless you.
We have been to dine at the Palais Royal, at the Trois Freres Provencaux, of which I suppose the boys have told you; and I shall only speak about the fine building, so renowned all over the world. The Palais Royal is to Paris what Paris is to France. Its history is briefly this: Cardinal Richelieu built it for himself; but the king, Louis XIII., was jealous, and the wily old priest gave it to the monarch, and, after Richelieu's death, he moved into it. In 1692, it fell into the hands of Philippe, Duke of Orleans, as a gift, or marriage portion, from Louis XIV., and here the great Orleans collection of paintings was gathered, and which was sold in 1789, at the breaking out of the great troubles. In 1814, Louis Philippe obtained it as his inheritance, and lived there till 1831. The garden is very fine, and is about seven hundred and fifty feet by three hundred, and has beautiful rows of lime-trees, trimmed into shape, as are most of these trees in Paris. In the centre are flower gardens and a basin of water, with a fine fountain. In this open space are beautiful bronze and marble statues. One I admired exceedingly; it is Eurydice, stung by a snake. In this garden are hundreds of persons under the trees, on chairs, which are hired, where they read and take refreshments. Under the arcades which surround the area are the most tasty shops of Paris, and where you may get any thing you please. A gayer sight than this same Palais Royal, or, as they now call it, Palais National, cannot be seen in this world. I shall not attempt to tell you about the apartments of the palace, and which you can read of at your leisure. What a loss it was to the world when, in February, 1848, six hundred thousand engravings, all classified by Louis Philippe, and making one hundred and twenty-two enormous folios, were destroyed by the mob, and the queen's own library also!
We lounged about from one shop to another, and made purchases of some pretty things, which we hope may serve to show friends at home that we did not quite forget them.
The Passage d'Orleans will never die out from my memory, nor shall I ever forget the Cafe d'Orleans, with its mirrors, walls, and ceilings, all radiant with a thousand lights. We find at every few steps the magazine for the Indian weed, and all varieties of pipe, from the commonest en bois to the elegantly carved ecume de mer, which would cost two or three hundred francs. Here, too, are the Theatres Francais and Palais Royal, and other places of amusement.
In our walks about the city we are sure to have all the notable places pointed out; and one morning, just after I had obtained a Henry IV. silver coin, in fine preservation, we were taken home by a long walk through the Rue St. Honore. The house No. 3, in this street, is the one in front of which Henry IV. was assassinated by Ravaillac. A bust of the king stands against the second story, with an inscription. In the Rue Vivienne, No. 34, we saw the house where Moliere died, on which is a marble tablet, with this inscription: "Moliere est mort dans cette maison, le 17 Fevrier, 1673, a l'age de 51 ans." At the corner of the same street, where a small passage way branches off, is a fine monument to the memory of the great poet and the noblest comic writer of France. The statue is of bronze, in a sitting posture; on each side are figures,—one humorous, the other serious,—both looking at the statue. At the foot of the monument is a basin to receive water, which flows from three lions' heads. This work was put up in 1844, with public services, on which occasion the first men of France took a part. Another morning's walk led us to the Rue de l'Ecole de Medecine, and in this street Marat lived, at No. 20, and here it was, in a small room, that he was stabbed, while bathing, by Charlotte Corday, in 1793. And in this same street was held the old club of the Cordeliers.
When I see the places of which I have heard so often it seems very interesting, and will forever identify the scenes with my future reading.
We all enjoyed a visit to the palace of the Luxembourg. This edifice was begun in the sixteenth century, and the present palace was chiefly built early in the next one, by Marie de Medicis, in imitation of one at Florence. Bonaparte used it when chief consul. The old senate held its sessions there till its dissolution, in 1814. I never saw a building whose proportions appeared to me so elegant. The court is a parallelogram of three hundred and sixty by three hundred feet. The front consists of two pavilions, joined by terraces, and in the centre rises a cupola, around which are statues. In such a palace fine rooms are to be expected, and here they are in great number. The Senate Chamber or Chamber of Peers, is very suitable for its purpose. The library is good, and contains about fifteen thousand volumes. The picture gallery is large, and at present principally filled with pictures of living artists, and at his death the picture of each one is removed to the Louvre. All the great paintings of Napoleon's battles are gone to Versailles; so we shall see them in the series. The chapel is an exquisite gem: it has, beyond all comparison, the most devotional air of any thing I have seen of the sort.
The gardens are fine, and have some noble terraces, adorned with plenty of statues, some of which are quite old; but a great many new ones, by living artists, are rapidly taking their places. The balustrades of the terraces are beautified with groups of children, athletae, &c. Here are some fine old orange-trees, which were throwing out their blossoms most fragrantly; and I must not forget the noble clusters of chestnut-trees which are on the sides of the walks. The garden is a lovely spot, and I saw hundreds of old and young, who seemed to enjoy themselves highly. I am half surprised to find myself more delighted in Europe with the completeness and splendor of the gardens and public grounds than with the palaces and their internal gorgeousness. If I could carry back to my own beloved country any thing from England or France, it should be their gardens, their walks, their libraries and museums. As to the comforts and elegances of life, we have enough of them for our good. The Musee d'Artillerie is quite a place of interest, and here are seen some fine suits of ancient armor. The arrangement is good, and an hour's attention is well repaid.
This has been a great day for enjoyment, and has made us all in love with Paris. We have seen, this morning, that which has pleased me more than all else I have looked at in Europe. We spent several hours at the Hotel de Cluny, in the Rue des Mathurins. I am surprised that so many Americans come to Paris and never see this castle of curiosities. To understand our gratification, I must bore you a little with its history, and then you will see what a treat we enjoyed. This venerable pile was erected on the site of the Palais des Thermes, formerly the dwelling-place of the Roman governors of Gaul. Here Julian lived when he was made emperor of Rome, in 360. Of the extraordinary remains of this palace I shall tell you by and by. On this spot, then, in 1480, an abbot of Cluny commenced this building, and it was completed in 1505. This magnificent monastery—the city residence of the monks of Cluny—was often made the residence of royal and distinguished visitors. Here for two years lived Mary, the daughter of Henry VII. of England, and widow of Louis XII. of France, who, while here, married the Duke of Suffolk. Her chamber still exists, and we saw it in high preservation. This marriage, you will remember, laid the foundation for the claim of Lady Jane Grey to the crown. Here, too, for a season, the excellent abbess and the nuns of Port Royal found a refuge. Some forty years ago, it came into the hands of M. Sommerard, a man devoted to antiquarian pursuits, and here he expended a large property in forming a vast collection of all sorts of relics he could gather belonging to the medieval ages. A few years ago, he died, and then the government wisely purchased the hotel and its unrivalled museum for half a million of francs; and additions are constantly made to it of every curiosity that can illustrate the habits and manners of the early history of France and Europe. The building is very striking in its first aspect. It has several Gothic turrets, and very rich windows, and the court yards and garden are all in keeping. What good times those old abbots, and monks must have had in their visits to Paris, in such a palace as this was! You pass from room, to room, all filled with the antique, till you get leg-weary. The floors are exquisitely beautiful—some in fine old black oak, let in, in patterns; others are bricks and tiles, in mosaic. Then the old mantel-pieces are wonderfully fine. We saw plenty of tapestry, old as the hills; and one set of hangings was the history of David and Bathsheba. Some of the bedsteads are very curious. One belonged to Francis I. Perhaps the largest and most valuable collection of carved Wood furniture in the world is here to be seen. Such cabinets, chairs, tables, chests, I never imagined. The work is of the most delicate and complicated character. Then you find a wonderful collection of glass and earthen ware—cups and goblets belonging to men of note of every age in French history. One room is full of ancient armor, another of gems, enamels, &c, another of pictures of the most curious kind; and as to mirrors and looking-glasses, they are in great plenty; and china enough to make some ladies in America whom I know break the commandment.
You can fancy, Charley, what sort of a place this must be, when I tell you that the catalogue of this collection is a volume of two hundred and forty octavo pages, and embraces eighteen hundred and ninety-five particulars. I have the catalogue, and can assure you that it includes some queer antiquities, of which we cannot speak particularly at present.
A word or two about the ruins of Julian's Palace of the Baths. Here is still a vast hall, which was doubtless the place for cold baths. The dimensions are sixty feet by thirty-five. In the cellars are the evident remains of the warm baths. The walls are of immense thickness, and will probably last as long as the earth on which they rest. This hall is the place of deposit for any Roman sculpture that may be found in the excavations of the city.
I am sure that, next to the Crystal Palace, this has been our greatest treat. We enjoyed this morning the more, because we had the company of Mr. George Sumner, who has lived in Paris so long that he is perfectly familiar with every object of interest. I never met with any one who appeared to have so much local knowledge as he possesses. He knows the history of every thing, and he seems at home on all names, dates, and facts of other ages. Whenever we read up, after a walk with him, we find that he knows all that is known; and in truth he talks like a book, but better than most books. The attention of this gentleman has been very great to us boys, and he seems never tired when doing us kindness. But if Mr. S. knows places well, he is no less intimate with men; and probably no American has ever enjoyed his opportunities to cultivate the acquaintance of the best and greatest men in Paris.
We have visited the Church of St. Sulpice, which was begun in 1655, and only completed late in the last century. The portico is very grand, and is a double row of Doric pillars, forty feet high. It has two towers, which are over two hundred feet high, and on which are telegraphs. The church forms a cross, and is four hundred and thirty-two feet in length, one hundred and seventy-four in width, and ninety-nine in height. The organ is finely carved, and is more elaborate in its work than any I have seen yet. The statuary, both in bronze and marble, here, is beautiful, and the candelabra are greatly admired. As to pictures, I can only say they are many and fine. The marble monument and statue to Languet de Gergy, the former cure of this parish, and who mainly contributed to its erection or completion, is much admired, and on this tomb is the most elegant inscription of modern times. But I cannot insert it here. Directly in front of the church, in an open square, is a very fine fountain, which partakes of the ecclesiastical in its style—having in four niches the statues of Bossuet, Massillon, Flechier, and Fenelon.
In our walk we were all struck with an immense wooden pile, which we found was the Bibliotheque St. Genevieve. The front is very chaste, and has very many arched windows. The library is more than three hundred feet in length, and is covered on the exterior with the names of all the great authors of every age and nation. We saw the names of many of our countrymen—Washington, Franklin, Rumford, Clinton, Cooper, Prescott, Irving, &c. We were unable to enter, as repairs were in progress, but were told that the library has two hundred thousand volumes, and several thousand MSS.
We have all been much gratified with the Church of St. Etienne du Mont. It boasts an antiquity that dates back to 1131, and its tower and turret are known to be as early as 1222. The exterior is remarkable for a strange mixture of architecture, and some of the details are very beautiful. The interior cannot fail to interest a thoughtful person, I think. The pictures are very fine indeed, and some of the marbles are of the highest excellence. We went into the little Chapel of St. Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris, where is the tomb of the saint. The tomb was literally stuck over with small tallow candles, and looked like a piece of meat larded. The room was filled with worshippers, all on their knees; and two women had as much anguish in their faces as I ever saw. All the people kneeling at this tomb seemed far more intent and in earnest than the hundreds at grand mass in the church proper. Just as we stepped outside this chapel, we found on the wall the monuments of Racine and Pascal, who are both buried in this church. The church was full of people, and in one little chapel the priest was baptizing an infant. We went in and looked on. It was the first time I had ever witnessed this monstrous mummery in the Catholic church; and I called in the Dr. and Mr. S., who were looking at some statuary. The priest was hardly decent at his work. He did it all in a hurry,—put oil and something else on the child, fore and aft,—and how men and women could stand and let the stupidity take place on their children, I cannot understand. After seeing Pascal's grave, and thinking of his immortal works, it was poor preparation for the mountebank exhibition, and awkward work of making Christians, that we witnessed. You know, Charley, that I am not a lover of Romanism, but I never felt so thankful as on that day for being a Protestant.
The pictures of this church are very well worthy of careful notice—especially two, said to have been given by the city to the saint, who caused a famine to stay its ravages, and restored a sick king by intercession.
Now, pray, do not think me church mad if I carry you once more to another old one. I am sure, if you had seen it, that it would cause you to talk about it often. Well, it is the Church St. Germain des Pres. This is regarded as the oldest in Paris, and was originally an abbey. There was a church here as early as 560. This was probably built about the middle of the ninth century, and its completion was in the twelfth; for it was consecrated by Pope Alexander III. In this church was the tomb of Childebert, the founder of the first edifice. The abbey had a refectory, cloisters, &c, was surrounded by a moat, and had been fortified. A large open field, close by, was the resort of duellists, and many a bloody affray has there occurred. Casimir, King of Poland, was an abbot of this church. The revolution was sadly injurious to this fine sanctuary, and it was for a time converted into a saltpetre manufactory. Charles X. repaired it, and after him Louis Philippe carefully superintended its restoration. The inside of the church is a cross, with a circular choir; and the arches are semi-circular, and indicate great antiquity. The restoration of the nave and choir has been most carefully done, at immense expense. The roof of the choir is painted deep blue, with stars. The capitals of the columns are richly gilt, and the shafts are painted in red stripes—exact copies of the old devices. Nothing can be finer than the marble altar and the carved stalls of the choir. Nor does the church lack for historical names among its dead. Here are the tombs of Earl Douglass, Descartes, Mabillon, Montfaucon, and Casimir of Poland, who died, abbot, in 1672. Every thing here in ecclesiastical architecture is so different from all that we have in our country, that I examine these noble relics with great pleasure, and do not know but I shall soon become as antiquarian in my taste as-you know who.
On a fine morning we rode over to the Jardin des Plantes, accompanied by Mr. R——, whose long residence has made him very familiar with this lovely spot. I think we all looked forward to this excursion with great anticipation, because we knew that this was the most famous garden in Europe; and then, in connection with it, are the richest cabinets in the world of natural history, mineralogy, geology, and a noble collection of living animals from all countries. Ever since 1635, the world has been placed under contribution to enrich this spot. The greatest botanists and naturalists of Europe have labored here. Buffon himself was the great man of the place in his day. Even revolutionary fury spared this retreat and treasury of Nature. Bonaparte made it his pet, and when the troops of Europe were at the walls of Paris, they agreed to respect and preserve the spot so dear to science. This establishment is on the banks of the river, and there are many portals by which entrance may be obtained. The gardens are very large, but I cannot speak of their exact size. They are in the neatest order. Every shrub and flower, plant and tree, is labelled, so that reference is easy. I was delighted to see, on a lofty eminence, the cedar of Lebanon. It is a glorious tree, and was planted here in 1734, and is now about twelve feet round at its base. We also saw some palm-trees which were given by Louis XIV. They were, I should think, nearly thirty feet high.
The Menagerie has long been famous, and is most admirably laid out in walks and enclosures, so that the animals have plenty of room for exercise and pasture. Since the days of Noah's ark, I suppose there never was such a collection of animals, clean and unclean. The bears, elephants, lions, and tigers are all what are called first-rate specimens.
We were pointed out the house where the celebrated Cuvier lived, and which was his favorite residence. Here was his life's labor, the Zooelogical Cabinet, which he arranged according to his system. Only fancy a house about four hundred feet long, having three stories, and all filled up with nearly two hundred thousand specimens; and the preparations are almost as fine as the animal was in life.
The Museum of Comparative Anatomy, also, was the labor of Cuvier. The collections of mineralogy and geology are very extensive; but I did not have much time to examine them, nor are they as much in my line as some other things. The specimens of precious stones were curious, and I was pleased to see amber containing perfect insects, perhaps antediluvian insects. And so we employed three hours upon what I should have liked to pass three whole days. But it would take years of diligent study to understand what is here to be seen.
If a person walks about Paris and inquires much as to the history of the city and its improvements, as we Americans say, he will soon find that Paris has been chiefly indebted for her grandeur to Henry IV., Louis XIV., Napoleon, and Louis Philippe. Bridges, places, arches, and fountains show how much Paris owes to these rulers. Of fountains there are, I should think, nearly a hundred in the city, and some are exceedingly fine. The Seine is not much of an affair. With us, it would be only a muddy brook. Some of the bridges that span it are fine. I have seen nothing in Paris more picturesque than the prospect from the Pont Neuf. It is my favorite stand point. Off to the right are the towers of Notre Dame, and the long line of old houses which tell of centuries upon centuries since they were built; and on the left of the river are the Hotel de Ville, St. Germain L'Auxerrois; and some of the most venerable streets. From the bell tower of St. Germain the signal was rung for the infamous massacre of the Protestants, on St. Bartholomew's eve, 23d of August, 1572. In the Rue de l'Arbre sec, at No. 14, was Admiral Coligny murdered on that occasion. It was formerly known as the Hotel Ponthieu, but is to be demolished in a few weeks, to make way for improvements. We felt a desire to see the spot where the Bastile formerly stood, and which was destroyed by the mob in July, 1789, and the key of which is now at Mount Vernon, having been sent as a present to Washington. This was the theatre of the greatest resistance made by the insurgents in June, 1848; and here, too, it was that the Archbishop of Paris met with his death. On the site of the Bastile, Louis Philippe laid the foundation of a column which commemorates the revolution of 1830. This column is of bronze, and is one hundred and sixty-three feet high, in addition to the pedestal of white marble, supported by immense granite blocks. The diameter of the column is, I believe, twelve feet, and it cost about twelve hundred thousand francs. There is no masonry in the interior. The staircase is suspended, and the whole concern vibrates with the passing breeze. I did not ascend, you may be sure. The Corinthian capital, over which is a gallery with rails, is very beautiful, and is the largest casting in bronze that is known—or, rather, was, for I think that the Amazon at the London Exhibition will take the palm for size. On the globe which surmounts the pillar stands a colossal gilt figure, which represents Liberty. On the bands which encircle the pillar are the names of those who were killed in the three days of July, amounting to fire hundred and four. All around and beneath are interred the remains of these patriots.
We are going to take the Cemetery at Pere la Chaise for to-morrow's excursion; and the rest of the day I must devote to letters home, as the packet day is close at hand.
This morning, as we were taking a very comfortable breakfast at the coffee-room of our hotel, and as I was reading Galignani's daily paper, I found a person at the next table addressing me, in nasal twang, "Stranger, is this fellow Galignani a reliable chap?" I assured him that he passed for an authority. Laying down his paper on the table, he pathetically described the tramp which the programme for the sight-seeing of yesterday's paper had given him, and declared his inability to keep up with the instructions for that day. Finding that he was a character, I carried on the conversation; and he talked most edifyingly to all in the room, as he spoke loud enough to be heard at the very end. I inquired if he had been to London. His reply was, "I reckon I have; why, I come on purpose to see the Crystial Palace." "Well, sir," I said, "and how did you like it?" "O, that exhibition is some!" "And pray, sir, what did you think of the Greek Slave?" "There, now, stranger, I takes it that where she were raised cotton was dreadful scarce." This, was too much and too good; and I think it is by far the best thing I have heard about the exhibition. How the boys managed to keep quiet, I know not; but they did as well as could be expected. The room was thoroughly awake, and I resigned our countryman to other hands.
After breakfast, we rode to the Cemetery of Pere la Chaise. This spot has for centuries been celebrated for its beauty; and, for a period of more than one hundred years, the Jesuits had a country residence here. They had it early in the sixteenth century, or, perhaps, at the close of the fifteenth. Louis XIV. made his confessor, Pere la Chaise, the superior of the society; and in 1705 it was the head-quarters of Jesuitism in France.
The present cemetery was consecrated in 1804; and the entire grounds are walled in, and they are very nearly two hundred acres. You know how much I admire Greenwood and Mount Auburn. Well, I still prefer them to this Golgotha. The walks are some of them fine, but the tombs are too thick. There is no regularity. It looks as though there had been a rain storm of tombs and monuments, and they lie as they fell. This is the very metropolis of death. Some of the monuments are elegant indeed, but often their beauties are hidden. The most attractive spot to us was the resting-place of "the bravest of the brave." Ney yet has no monument. The tombs of Casimir Perrier, the Countess Demidoff, Abelard and Heloise, General Macdonald, Lavalette, Gobert, Foy, Moliere, Laplace, and Junot are some that pleased us most, and are exquisite specimens of art. Many of these tombs have small rooms, with altars and glass doors. Opposite the altar is a chair, and we saw several mourners in devout attitude at the shrine of affection. I have heard from a Parisian of great intelligence, and who has been connected with the city government, that very nearly, if not quite, thirty millions of dollars have been spent upon this cemetery. Of course, the expense of sculpture here has been enormous, as the best talent of Europe has contributed to adorn the spot, and perpetuate the memory of the departed.
On leaving this charnel-house of mortality, we drove to the Abattoir de Popincourt, which is the largest in the city, and occupies six hundred and forty-five feet by fire hundred and seventy. On entering, we found four slaughter-houses, each standing alone. Here, too, are sheds for four thousand sheep, and stables for four hundred oxen. There are also four melting-houses. We also noticed a large building called the Triperie, for preparing tripe and the feet of animals. The week we were there the statistics of slaughter were as follows: Eight hundred and seventy-two oxen, three hundred and fifty-six cows, seven hundred calves, and two thousand eight hundred and seventy-five sheep. Nothing of the sort can be kept cleaner than this establishment. The water ran down every channel, and very little blood could be seen, or effluvia noticed. When will New York have its abattoirs? No city in the world needs such an auxiliary to health and comfort more than she does. Perhaps the good people will call for one after a few more visitations of cholera. There are four other similar establishments in Paris.
We had a nice ride home round the boulevards, and, stopping at the consul's office, found a famous budget of letters and papers, and with great pleasure we addressed ourselves to their contents. I am amused to see how various are the demands made upon the time and services of a consul. He needs to have the patience of Job; and if he answers satisfactorily and authoritatively the questions which I have heard propounded, he ought to have in his library the acts of every state legislature in the Union. Marriage, death, removal of deceased relatives from their places of sepulture, rates of interest, value of stocks, condition of railroads, and statistics of all sorts have been topics which I have heard laid before him for advice and opinion. Very few men, however, possess more general knowledge of the United States than our consul—Mr. Goodrich—does; and his kindness will lead him to do all he can to satisfy the querist.
Yours, as ever,
Yesterday we went to the Cirque, in the Champs Elysees. It is a very large building, with sixteen sides, and behind is another spacious one for the horses. The intention of the builder was to represent a Moorish hall; and the pillars of iron are, with the panellings of the walls, gilt and frescoed. The roof is very elegant, and the largest chandelier in Paris is in the centre, blazing with I cannot tell you how many gas lights. The circus will accommodate about six or seven thousand people, and when we were there it was very nearly full. We paid two francs each, and had the best seats. The performances were very good, and some quite beyond any thing I had before seen. There was one feat that was really great. They placed planks upon supporters, from the centre of the circus up to the edge of the gallery, making an angle of about fifty feet. Well, Charley, a fellow walked in with a ball, about three quarters of a yard in diameter, and on this ball he trotted about on the ground for perhaps two minutes; then he marches it to the foot of this plank, still standing on it, and up he goes,—yes, he totes and coaxes the ball under his feet, up, up,—till at last he stands on it on the gallery; and then, did not the place ring again with applause? But then it is not over; for down he comes the selfsame way—and that is the tug of war; but he did it. This he did backwards, also, each way. I never saw any thing before that would equal this, and I want to see him do it again before we leave Paris. The horsemanship was very good. But there was one fellow who threw himself into the very oddest attitudes you can fancy. He looked, as he moved about on the earth, like any thing but a human. We were all much amused with the audience. Entire families were there. You could see parties coming in where there was no mistake about grandfather and grandmother, father, mother, and all the children. It seems that all classes here have a taste for amusement, and pursue it with much earnestness. The audience behaved very well—every thing was quiet. I noticed a great many well-dressed women who carried round crickets to the ladies, for their feet, and for this they got a few sous.
As we returned, we found, in the grounds through which we walked, scores of establishments for juvenile amusement—stalls where there are exhibitions of moving figures, and at which you may shoot with bow and arrow by paying a small price. Not far from the Cirque we met with an out-door concert, in a very tasty garden—the performers all occupying a fine orchestra. The audience were seated at tables in the garden, taking ice cream, lemonade, coffee, &c. Now and then one of the singers would pass round and take up a collection.
This day we went to the Hippodrome, which is a very large enclosure, nearly opposite the Triumphal Arch. This is no less than three hundred and eighty feet in diameter, and will seat all of ten thousand persons, who are under shelter, but the course-ground is open to the heavens. This place is open from three to five during the warm weather, and is under the same management as the Cirque. Our great object in coming was to see the ball feat again, and also the skirmishes of some twenty Arabs, who are here exhibiting their tactics. I never saw a more reckless, savage-looking set of fellows than they were. Only one looked like a venerable Arab—he did look patriarchal. They had several sham attacks, and rode about shooting helter skelter, looking as if they would enjoy the real thing much better. These fellows are said to be some of the Algerine captives brought over by the French. Our friend Mr. Hodgson, who lived so long in Turkey, and speaks Arabic, talked with them, much to their surprise.
We have determined to leave Paris this week, and commence our journey through Belgium, Holland, go up the Rhine, and take Switzerland on our return to Paris—and perhaps we may leave to-morrow. I ought not to omit saying that we have had a very pleasant Sunday in our own parlor here. We did not feel much like going to the French church that morning; and the doctor invited the Rev. Dr. Murray, Dr. Chetwood, Rev. Mr. Darling, Judge Darling, Rev. Mr. Hovey, Mr. King, and some other friends to join us, and have a religious meeting. It was a very interesting one, too. Dr. Murray spoke about the state of France, the need the French had of our Sunday, and how they could not be a free and happy people, and get along without soldiers, till they had it. All the ministers took part; and I shall not very soon forget that day; and then I think we all thought a good deal about home, as each minister talked and prayed for our families.
Our next letters will, I suppose, be from Brussels.
The fine weather, and the advantage of having pleasant company, has induced us to leave Paris and pursue our journey, leaving many things to see in the great metropolis when we return. I forgot to tell you that in Paris I had the pleasure to meet an English clergyman, a relative of mine, who was there passing the honey-moon. This gentleman and his lady joined our party; and we are now to go together as far as Antwerp, certainly. We took the rail from Paris direct to Brussels,—a distance of two hundred and thirty miles,—and passed through Amiens, Arras, Douai, Valenciennes, Quievrain, St. Jemappes,—here King Louis Philippe, with General Dumourier, in 1792, gained a battle over an Austrian army, and so gained Belgium to France, little thinking that his son-in-law would be its king,—Mons, Bruin le Compte, Halle, and so to Brussels. At Quievrain we found the custom-house of Belgium, and the little river, called Aunelle, is the boundary of the republic. Mons is a fine-looking place, fortified strongly. The region is one entire coal field, and there are many pits in operation. Ten miles from Mons Marlborough fought the battle of Malplaquet, in 1709. When we passed, the town was in great commotion with the trial of Count Bocarme and his wife for the murder of her brother. She was by some means acquitted, but he was convicted and executed by the guillotine.
As soon as we entered Belgium, we were struck with the improvement of the lands. The small towns look remarkably thrifty, and every place seems to speak of manufactures and industry.
At Brussels, we put up at the Hotel Bellevue, in the Place Royale. The situation is good. In a large square, and in front of our hotel, is the magnificent statue, in bronze, of Godfrey, Duke of Boulogne, the cast of which we so admired as the Crusader, in the exhibition. In this square Leopold was inaugurated King of Belgium.
Every traveller enters Brussels with expectation of pleasure. He has heard that it is Paris in miniature; and then Byron has thrown around it his witchery of song. I can see but a dull and dim resemblance to Paris. Brussels, with its suburbs, which are quite large, has only a population of one hundred and thirty thousand. The town is very clean, looks cosy, and has some very beautiful edifices. But you come here full of fancy about "Belgium's capital," "her beauty and her chivalry," and the "windowed niche of that high hall," and you see at first only a plain, good, comfortable town. However, there is quite enough of romance, after all, in this same place; and when you traverse it thoroughly, you find enough to call out deep interest; and before you leave it you are much gratified, and, in all probability, feel desirous to see it again. I like to be in places that have a history; and this Brussels has. Let me tell you about this place. It stands on the brow of a high bill, and the upper and lower towns are different affairs entirely. The summit is covered with palaces, public buildings, boulevards, parks, &c, and the lower part is in the valley of the River Senne. Brussels was a city in 709. In 976, the Emperor Otho held his court there; in 1044, it was fortified and had seven gates; in 1405, a fire destroyed fourteen hundred houses; and in 1549, it suffered from two earthquakes. But still it grew and flourished under the dukes of Burgundy, and became famous for tapestry, lace, and fire-arms. In the days of Charles V., the city of Brussels was at its zenith. Philip II., his son, and his infamous general, the Duke of Alva, ravaged this city and vicinage. The people were fanatical, and the rulers cruel. In 1695, the city was besieged, and four thousand houses destroyed by the bombardment. In 1794, Belgium was annexed to France. After the battle of Waterloo, the Prince of Orange was proclaimed sovereign of Belgium. In 1830, the revolution displaced the Orange dynasty, and Belgium broke off from Holland; and in 1831, the people chose Leopold for their king. The first thing I wanted to see was the Hotel de Villa, which, many years ago, pleased me exceedingly; and I think all our party have been delighted with it. This is the noblest civil building in Belgium; it stands in a fine square, and is a glorious specimen of the Lombardy Gothic school. The spire is of open fretwork, and the sun shines through it. It has long been esteemed as one of the most precious works of architecture in Europe. The extreme height is three hundred and sixty-four feet, and it was erected in 1444. On the spire is a gilt statue of St. Michael, seventeen feet high, which turns with the wind. In front of this town hall Counts Egmont and Horn were executed, under the eye of Alva; but they were nobly avenged by William of Orange. At the head of a very steep and narrow street stands a most imposing structure. It is the Cathedral Church of St. Gudule. The foundation was laid in 1010. The front view is very much like that of Notre Dame, at Paris. This church is occasionally called St. Michael's in old writers, as it had a double consecration to the archangel and Gudule. The interior of this cathedral is very impressive, although the architecture is simple. The pillars supporting the roof are massive, and must receive the admiration of all spectators. There are brackets attached to them, on which stand finely-executed figures of the Savior, the Virgin Mary, and the Apostles, executed by the following renowned sculptors: Vandelyn, Quellyn, Tobias, and Duquesnoy. The pulpit is regarded as the finest in Europe, and is the most elaborate composition of sculpture in wood that is extant. It is the work of the great Verbruggen, and was originally executed for a Jesuit society at Louvain, in 1699. The art is exquisite, and far superior to the taste which is exhibited. The pulpit represents the expulsion of Adam and Eve from paradise by the angel. Death is seen in pursuit of the guilty fugitives; and on the extreme summit is the Virgin Mary, bruising the serpent's head with a cross. On the steps and balusters are various beasts and birds; the owl, ape, and peacock are conspicuous. We found preparations for a great church holiday, to be observed the next day; and the Virgin Mary was gayly decked out in embroidery, lace, and jewelry.
A monument to Count Merode, in a chapel, is a most exquisite production, and was executed by Geefs. Here Charles V., in 1616, held a chapter of the Golden Fleece. The restoration of this beautiful church has been carefully attended to lately, and the new windows of painted glass are very fine; but some of the old windows, by Weyde, are grand indeed.
In this church the famous sacramental wafers are placed away as relics of inestimable value. Perhaps you recollect the story of the Jews who purloined them, and profanely stuck the consecrated bread with knives; when, lo, a miracle! blood came from the incision, and the unbelievers were smitten down. Of course, they were taken, and tormented, and burnt. This was at the close of the fourteenth century. The great celebration of this Popish imposition of a miracle is kept up in July every year.
All one side of this noble building is a set of mean, low, one and two-story shanties, which deface the appearance of the venerable pile.
While in the church, we saw vast numbers of boys and girls, who had come to make their confession and prepare for their first communion, to take place next day. We often saw in the streets of Paris and Brussels girls dressed in white, with wreaths of flowers, and boys, with dresses that looked as if they were bound to a wedding; these were young people going to communion. The poor children in this church looked as funny on the occasion, sitting and chatting, waiting for their turn to confess, as the priest looked tired and indifferent.
We spent much of our leisure time walking in the noble park and gardens. O, when shall we have in America such care taken of our few green spots, in our great cities, as is here displayed? No lady can be more chary of the order of her drawing-room than are the authorities at Brussels of these beautiful promenades. Then, too, here are avenues of trees that make you in love with the city as you enter it. I do wish all our towns would raise committees of public-spirited men, who should undertake, by voluntary contributions, or town action, to plant the roadsides that form the entrances to these places. I was delighted, some months ago, to hear that a few gentlemen at Haverhill, in Massachusetts, had banded together for this purpose. Charley, if you live to take an active share in the business of life, try and do something for the place you live in that shall appear after you have gone; make the spot of your residence better, because you have once lived in it. We are too selfish; we do not fulfil our duty to those who are to come after us; we do not, even in the matters of this present state, live up to the great law of our being—"No man liveth to himself."
Leopold's Palace is exceedingly plain and unpretending for a royal residence. It was originally composed of two wings, through which a street ran its course; but they are now united by a central building, with a handsome portico, having for its support six Corinthian pillars. The edifice is about three hundred and ninety feet in length; and, while the front is on the Park, the rear opens on an extensive garden. At the opposite side of the Park is the Chamber of Representatives. In the Park, and near to the Palace, is the prettiest glen and bit of miniature wood I know of.
We found our accomplished representative, the Hon. Mr. Bayard, kind and attentive. He lives in a charming part of the city; and his position must be a pleasant one, having good society in the place, and near to Paris.
I like this city very much—it is so clean. The buildings in the upper part of the town are new, and in pleasant contrast to the lower portion, which looks so very old. I think, from walking about a great deal, that there must be many English people here; for they carry their country in their dress and manner. We spent a morning at the various shops, and principally at the lace and print stores. We purchased some very beautiful engravings, lithographs, and illustrated works, which will remind us of our pleasant days in Brussels, and which I hope may amuse our friends. The lacework executed here is uncommonly rich, and, you know, is very famous; but, I am sorry to say, also very expensive. A person may soon get rid of large amounts of money here. We made some purchases for the ladies at home; but no doubt, if they had been with us, the bills would have been heavier than they were.
The way we manage for getting money while we are travelling is by a circular letter from Baring & Brothers. On this we are introduced to houses in the great cities through which our route lies, and the letter states our credit at London; then from these houses we obtain what we need, and have each house indorse the amount; so that, as we go from place to place, our financial position in London still appears. In Brussels we found the banker, or, at least, his agent,—for whether the banker or his clerk we did not know,—a perfect specimen of vulgarity and rudeness. He was the most uncivil fellow that we have yet seen in Europe. His most pleasant words were grunts, and his motions and attitudes were almost threats. He looked like a Jew, but he acted like a wild Arab; and his manoeuvres would have been a godsend to the comic Dr. Valentine, if he had witnessed their display. His gray hairs did not command respect; and what made his rudeness so hard to bear, was the fact that nothing occurred to call it out. We probably met him at an unhappy moment.
The Museum is in the old palace of the Spanish governors of the Low Countries, and long before their day it was the ducal residence of the Brabants. The building was begun in 1346, and completed in 1502.
The pictures of Europe are one of my great objects of interest, and here we begin to find them. We have left the London and Paris collections for examination as we return. From the catalogue, we found there were about six hundred pictures here, and some statuary. The chief attraction of this gallery is found in the few early Flemish paintings which it boasts. I think a Gerard Dow will long be remembered by me. It is an interior, and the effect of the light in the room is admirable. Many of the paintings are styled Gothic; that means they were painted previous to the time of Van Eyck. An interior of the Antwerp Cathedral, by Neefs, is very fine; and I was much pleased with some large pictures by Philippe Champagne, some' of whose portraits I have seen in New York. Here are four pictures by Paul Veronese. No. 285 is the Marriage of Cana. I think I never saw a picture in which I was so impressed with the magnificence of the coloring. The table is richly spread, and the light appears on it, coming down the columns; the rich colors of the fruits contrasting strongly with the white table and gay dress of one of the figures. The management of light, by introducing various colors in the dresses, is wonderful, and the blue sky produces the happiest effect. I never before understood how much a picture depended on the arrangement of color. The drapery of this composition struck me greatly; and although I know little of great paintings, yet I do know what I like, and this picture, as a whole, seems to me wonderfully fine.
In 1695, when this town was bombarded by the French, fourteen churches were destroyed, some of which contained the best pictures of Rubens, Vandyke, and other great painters of that century. I observed here a good portrait of Henrietta, queen of Charles I., who seems to have been a favorite with painters. I have seen a score of her faces by Vandyke at Windsor, Paris, and elsewhere. This was by Mignard. All make her very beautiful.
The Adoration of the Magi, by Van Eyck, the inventor of oil painting, is curious; and a Descent from the Cross, by Hemling, who flourished about 1450, interested me. Amongst the pictures by unknown masters I saw some good ones. I thought the portraits in this class very spirited. One of Bloody Mary was quite a picture.
In this building, too, the doctor found a treat in the great Burgundy Library, where are nearly twenty thousand MSS., some of which are the most richly-illuminated vellums that are known. Some of the miniatures of the early fathers and saints are of exquisite beauty. This precious collection has twice, I learn, been stolen by the French, as were also the best pictures. The library consists of about two hundred thousand volumes. I saw some glorious specimens of Russian malachite.
You would, I am sure, Charley, hardly forgive me if I had had so little of your love of the curious as to go away from Brussels without a look at the world-renowned fountain—the Manekin. One day, when upon a tramp, we inquired it out. The dirty dog is a little bronze figure, made by the famous Duquesnoy in 1648. It stands at the corner of the Rue du Chene and the Rue de l'Etuve. He still maintains his ground; and there seems no danger of his losing his occupation.
The Botanical Garden lies on the side of the hill leading from the city towards Antwerp, and is apparently kept in fine order. It is about six hundred and fifty yards long, and I should think nearly two hundred wide.
To-morrow we are to spend at Waterloo; and George is well nigh distracted. We have heard very little from him, since we reached Brussels, but about Napoleon, Wellington, Ney, and Grouchy. The last-named marshal finds no favor at his hands, as he regards him as a traitor to the emperor at the critical moment. One thing is certain; he knows more about the battle than most persons, and will feel quite at home when he once makes out his stand-point. We all anticipate his transports with interest. We are to start early; so good-night.
I am thoroughly tired out with a day at Waterloo; and, though I should be glad to retire at an early hour, yet, as to-morrow's mail takes all letters for the next steamer, we are all hard at the duty and pleasure of correspondence with our friends. I shall give you but a hurried account of our visit to the great battle field of Europe. We were all up early in the morning, and, after an excellent breakfast, we engaged a carriage and pair of horses for the day. The distance is about twelve miles. After riding about two miles, we found the road touched the Forest of Soignies, so well known in consequence of Byron's description of the march of the army from Brussels to Waterloo. On the way we met several guides, who commended their services to our notice, backed up by testimonials of former travellers. We selected Pirson, and he took his place beside the driver, and we arrived in two hour at the village. Passing by what is called a museum, we addressed ourselves at once to a survey of the field. There are no signs of the past, excepting in monuments and houses that are famous for their being occupied by the hostile parties during the battle. We turned our attention first to the Chateau of Hougomont, because, from our knowledge of the transactions of the great day, we regarded it as the grand point of attraction, and the central one for our observations. This farm is an old-looking affair, with out-buildings—a small chapel, twelve or fifteen feet long, and the garden and orchard, having a strong stone wall around them. This was the strong point of the British army; and if Napoleon could have gained it, he would have turned the flank of the enemy. To this he directed all his power, and the marks of the conflict are yet very apparent. All day the attack was made, upon the farm by thousands, under the command of Jerome Bonaparte. The wall was pierced with loopholes, and through these the English Coldstream Guards kept up a most destructive fire upon the French troops. The exterior of the wall still shows what a terrific onset was made. We went into the house, obtained some refreshment, bought some relics, and, among other things, a neat brass crucifix, which hung against the wall. We then, went to look at the farms La Belle Alliance and La Haye Sainte—the famous mound where the dead were interred, and which is surmounted by the Belgic lion. This is an immense work, two hundred feet high; and from the summit we saw the entire field. Of course, we all had our feelings excited at standing on a spot where the two greatest soldiers of Europe measured swords, and had a continent for spectators of the conflict.
When the French army marched through Waterloo, on their way to Antwerp, in 1831, they looked savagely at the Belgian monument, and one man fired his musket at the lion, and the mark is still visible upon his chin.
We were much gratified at the farm-house of Hougomont; and the hour we spent in its orchard and gardens will long be remembered by us all. I have read an account of the attack upon the house, which says, "The Belgian yeoman's garden wall was the safeguard of Europe, whose destinies hung upon the possession of this house." The garden wall is covered on the inside with ivy; and here we secured several roots of the plant, and, having bought a basket at the farm-house, we planted them in earth taken from beside the grave of a British officer, who fell in the orchard; his tombstone bears the name of J.L. Blackman. These plants will give us trouble to carry; but Dr. Choules has determined upon carrying them home for Mr. Hall, whose stone house needs ivy on the walls, and he intends obtaining roots from various places of interest in Europe, to serve as mementoes of other lands.
The church is a small affair, but is full of the testimonies of love and affection from fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, wives, children, and friends, to those who fell in the bloody conflict.
We were annoyed by urchins, who beset our steps, eager to sell us genuine relics of the field, which are likely to increase in number as long as there is a demand for them. George, of course, was in his element, and he did little but plant the different sites in his memory, for the purpose of comparing notes, by and by, with Gleig, Headley, &c., &c.
I do not attempt to give you any thing like a description of the place, or an account of the battle, as you have books which are devoted to these points.
It is a circumstance worthy of notice that, in 1705, the Duke of Marlborough came very near fighting a battle with the French, on this ground, but was prevented by the Dutch commissioners who were with him.
We obtained some good engravings of the buildings that are famous for their connection with the battle, but they are nothing like as fine as the folio illustrated volume of colored engravings which we have so often looked over with interest. I tried to get a copy in London at any price, and would have given any thing in reason; but the work is out of print and the market, and can only be gotten at the sale of a collector.
On returning to Brussels, and enjoying our dinner at a late hour, we passed the evening in the Arcades, where we saw some beautiful goods exposed for sale, and again examined some lacework. You will smile at the idea of pocket handkerchiefs which cost from one hundred to one thousand dollars each. The embroidery of letters upon lacework is costly; and we saw single letters which had required a week's work.
We like this city, and, if time allowed us, should certainly pass a week here. I should not forget to say that we saw the king in the Park, near to his palace. He looks like a man of fifty-five, and, I thought, had a melancholy air.
In company still with our friends from Bristol on a wedding tour, we took the rail for Antwerp. The arrangements of the railroad in Belgium seem to me as perfect as they can be made. All is order, civility, and comfort. On starting for this place, we had the curiosity to inquire as to the number of passengers, and found thirteen first class, seventy-one second class, and one hundred and three third class. The road we took lay through a level country, but cultivated to a great degree; and the produce was chiefly clover, beans, potatoes, grain, and turnips. On leaving Brussels, we noticed the fine botanical gardens on our right, and the Allee Verte, a noble avenue of trees which reaches to Laeken, a pretty village, dating as far back as the seventh century, and containing a fine palace, where Leopold frequently resides. Napoleon once occupied this palace, and here it is said that he planned his Russian campaign. The park is spacious, and the village has a celebrated cemetery; and here Madame Malibran reposes. The first stopping-place is at about six miles from Brussels, at Vilvorde—a very ancient town, having a population of not quite three thousand. It is known in history as Filfurdum, and was a place of some consequence in 760. It was here that Tindal, who was the first translator of the New Testament into English, suffered martyrdom, in 1536, being burnt as a heretic. The Testament was a 12mo. edition. It was published in 1526, and probably was printed at Antwerp, where he then resided. Fifteen hundred copies were printed, and they were mostly bought up by Bishop Tonstall, and destroyed. The only copy known to exist is in the library of the Baptist College at Bristol. This copy belonged to Lord Oxford, and he valued the acquisition so highly that he settled twenty pounds a year upon the person who obtained it for him. Both Tindal's assistants in this great work—Fryth and Roye—suffered martyrdom before his death. I am sorry to find, by history, that Sir Thomas More employed one Phillips to go over to Antwerp and decoy Tindal into the hands of the emperor. The last words of the martyr were, "Lord! open the King of England's eyes." Sir Thomas More was a bitter persecutor, and he was "recompensed in his own ways." Not far from Vilvorde are the remains of the chateau of Rubens; and in the same vicinity is the house where Teniers is said to have lived. Mechlin, or Malines, is a fine-looking town, with twenty-five thousand inhabitants, and it is spelt by early writers ways without number. The railroad just touches on its skirts, and, of course, we could only look at it. Its cathedral church loomed up; and we longed to see its interior, where Vandyke's greatest picture—the Crucifixion—is found in the altar. The tower shows well at a distance. The other churches have some pictures of great merit, by Rubens. After passing Mechlin, we saw at our right a large town, lying, perhaps, two miles off, and then a still smaller one to the left, and a fine old castle, which looked in good preservation. The road led us through some fine country residences; and, just before entering Antwerp, we passed Berchem, a sweet little village. And I would not omit to say that the small place called Vieux Dieu, before we came to Berchem, is famous for being one of the last places where heathenism retained its hold in this port of Europe, and here was formerly an idol.