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Paris. It stands to the right, on the opposite side of the Seine; not far from it is to be seen the Ecole militaire, a palace converted into a military school, and possessing an extensive park for the exercise of its students-the Champs de Mars. On arriving at the Place de la Concord, the most memorable recollections of modern French history give an interest to the magnificence around him. It was the site of the guillotine in the first revolution, the place where stood the altar of Atheism, drenched with the best and worst blood of France during the reign of terror. It has been called the Place de la Revolution, and de la Louis XV., and its present name was given it to erase, if possible, the dark remembrances of the spot.
Let the visiter forget the history of the past, and giving himself up to the impressions of the present, place himself in the centre of this memorable area. He stands beneath the shade of a monument of the olden times—an obelisk from Egypt, placed here with ceremonies of royal pomp, and bursts of popular enthusiasm; for the lowest minds among this singular people have a taste—an enthusiasm for the products of art, and, strange as it may seem, with a state of society bordering on utter demoralization, the finest susceptibilities of intellectual taste are common to the very mob. If the phrensy of the revolution led to the destruction of the monuments of art, the tranquillity of a day restored a reverence for them. The Apollo de Belvidere, sent to Paris by the conquests of Napoleon, was brought into the metropolis as if the god himself were entering it in triumph; and when sent back to Italy by the allied powers, Paris was in mourning and tears. The populace of Paris, when they saw this obelisk rising on its pedestal, hailed it with shouts, because they saw in it something more than a mere mass of red time-worn stone, wrought with rude outlines of owls, vipers, and monkeys. It was to them a representative of history: it was a memorial of the land and the time which gave birth to knowledge, and it gave a poetical association of antiquity to the finest section of their own great city, a circumstance which the most vulgar taste among the Parisians could appreciate.
The visiter looks, and looks again at this venerable monument, and the days of the Pharaohs pass before his imagination. Standing at its base, if he directs his eye toward the north, up the Rue Royale, he sees the celebrated Church of the Madeleine. It was designed by Napoleon for a temple of victory, and is built on a scale of magnificence which renders it, perhaps, for its architecture, one of the most interesting public edifices of the city. It is a vast pile of white marble, with colonnades of stately pillars entirely around it. The style is Corinthian, the plan a parallelogram-a plan to which a quadrangular colonnade, with fine Corinthian capitals and cornices, gives a striking expression of symmetry and solemn grandeur. Withdrawing his eye from the Madeleine, immediately before him is the street Rivoli, lined on one side by the terraces of the gardens of the Tuileries, on the other by large palace-like edifices of Corinthian workmanship, designed for the residences of government officers. If he turns himself to the east, the perspective, which we have described of gardens and palaces extends before him, while at his right flows the Seine, and on its opposite shore, besides the Champs de Mars and the dome of the Invalides, is the Palais de Bourbon, (now the chamber of deputies;) then
comes the mint, and then the palace which is now appropriated to the meetings of the celebrated “Institut.”
Let the spectator now pass up the avenue into the gardens of the Tuileries. Currents of the studious, the gay, and the indolent, are for ever passing in and out at the gates: the student with his book under his arm, who has been studying in its sequestered shade; the politician, with his newspaper in his hand; the idle and listless, who go to lounge in quiet; the uniform of the militaire, mixing up with every group, here as elsewhere, within almost any given twenty rods in the streets of the metropolis; and (not the least common nor the least beautiful scene of the place) the bonne, (a young girl with the care of children,) surrounded with her group of little ones as blooming as the flowers around them, and with countenances as sunny as the radiant sky above their heads. On entering the gates a circular pool, with a jet in the centre, lies before him. Two perfectly white swans are laving themselves in it. On his right and left are two groups of marble statuary on elevated pedestals, while on the opposite side of the pool is a semicircular range of figures from the Greek mythology, all masterpieces of the art. As he passes along, winding walks extend from his right and his left to seats arranged in shades fitted for the profoundest meditation. Every here and there his eye catches glimpses of statues and groups of marble figures, representing the finest scenes of classical history and poetry. He approaches the palace with its orange and lilac shrubs, interspersed with marble vases and statues. The front of this edifice, which is adorned in different parts with various styles of architecture, bounds the gardens on the east. In the centre are the royal apartments, beneath the windows of which the best bands of Paris play every evening in the cool of the sunset and twilight, when all the gayety of the voluptuous city crowds the walks of these gardens. Passing through an arched entrance he finds himself in a quadrangular court, surrounded by the four sides of the palace; and going out by a similar passage on the opposite side, he enters the Place du Carrousel, an immense area, beyond which stands the ancient palace of the Louvre. Napoleon formed the design of connecting the Louvre and the Tuileries, by extending the north and south sides until they should meet, and thus form the Place du Carrousel into an interior court, and convert that and the two palaces into one stupendous structure. One of the sides is completed, the other was commenced, and the dilapidation of the neighboring buildings shows the traces of the work; but the genius of Napoleon is no longer there to prosecute such a design. The Louvre is a venerable mass of building, surrounding, like the Tuileries, a large quadrangular court; its long lines of apartments are occupied by the celebrated Musée Royale. All this range of palaces, gardens, and forests, with their museums, walks, fountains, and monuments of taste, amassed together in the midst of the business part of the city, is open for the visits and recreations of the lowliest citizen; and here, as in a splendid theatre, all the lights and shades of French character may be seen in the processions of the thousands and tens of thousands which, like restless torrents, are for ever passing and repassing.
We have thus, reader, introduced you to one feature in the topography of the most brilliant metropolis in the world. Two minutes'
walk will bring you to the celebrated Palais Royale, a place which has been called the Camera Obscura of Europe, in which the manners and pursuits, and not unfrequently the costumes of all the nations of the continent are reflected. It is the focus of all the follies, the vices, and the absurdities of the French; "perhaps," says one, "the only building in the world in which a person may live without ever leaving it, and without missing any of the necessaries or even luxuries of life." It was built by the Cardinal Richelieu, but afterward passed into the hands of the Orleans family, and was the scene of the voluptuous orgies of the profligate duke of Orleans, while regent. The building itself is of vast dimensions; the large court within it is formed into gardens, beautified with a fountain, and statues, and walks. The long galleries and arcades are filled with shops, and cafés, and restaurants, and gambling rooms. All kinds of splendor dazzle the eye of the spectator, and all aspects of character present themselves for his contemplation. He has combined, in this extraordinary scene, the magnificence of a palace, the commodities of a mart, and the advantages of an immense theatre, in which the lights and shades of the most singular people on the earth are for ever passing before him. "It exhibits some of the most astonishing Proteus-like scenes that can be pictured to the imagination. Shops of millinery, jewellery, clothiers, booksellers, clock-sellers, print-sellers, china houses, coffee houses, bagnios, money-changers, and gamesters, all unite, in ceaseless rivalry, to ease the unwary traveller of his money." All the varieties of life, without exception; and all the inventions of refined luxury; every sensual, and almost every mental gratification; the means of becoming in a few hours a Croesus or a beggar; an exchange and a theatre; gaming houses and banks for lending money; reading rooms and brothels; blind virtuosi and sharp-sighted loungers; sumptuous tables for the gold of the wealthy; and cynical repasts for the copper sous of the indigent; the productions of all quarters of the globe, are here concentrated for the crowds that pass into and out of this place like the tides of the ocean. The concourse of people in the Palais Royale is never at an end; its public is the most numerous as well as the most brilliant of any in the world.
Leaving this vortex of excitement and vice, and passing a few rods down the street St. Honore, the visiter passes by the Rue Castiglione, into the Place Vendome. The Place is an octagonal area, surrounded with some of the finest stores and residences in Paris. In its centre stands the celebrated bronze figure of Napoleon, made of the cannon taken from the enemy in Germany, in 1805. Its height is 123 feet. The pedestal is from 17 to 20 feet in breadth, and the base of the shaft about 12 feet in diameter. It was built in imitation of the pillar of Trajan, and like that is covered from bottom to top with basso-relievos, representing the chief scenes in the campaign of 1805. On the summit stands a colossal figure of Napoleon. From this spot a few steps will bring you full into the celebrated Boulevards-the pride of the Parisians; the place of which a popular remark among them says, that when the gods become hypochondriacal, they put their heads out of the clouds, and cheer themselves by looking at the vista of trees which extends along it. In these arbored streets, circling the whole city, you have an exhibition of life and character similar, if not equal, to that of
the gardens of the Tuileries or the Palais Royale. The procession of the ever locomotive population passes before you, some laughing, others thoughtful, some disputing, with the characteristic gesticulations of a Frenchman, others conversing with that easy relaxation which none but a Frenchman can assume. These walks are always more or less thronged, when the weather will permit: but there is nothing of the business air which marks the throngs on Regent-street or Cheapside in London, or Broadway in New-York. A vivacity, a radiance seems shed on every thing. The buildings on the Boulevards are generally fine; the restaurants and cafés are the best in the city, and dazzle with their resplendence. The ample pavements before the doors, shaded with trees, are frequently seated with chairs and tables, where groups of the first citizens, the member of the chambers, or the professeur of the university, or the popular writer of the day, sit and sip their coffee, and converse or read during the greater part of the afternoon, and not unfrequently far into midnight. Here likewise are the theatres, the baths, the vauxhalls. Groups of musicians compete in their attempts to attract the crowd, with groups of buffoons, whose masked heads and puzzling tricks shake the multitude with laughter. Stalls of books, sellers of flowers, of toys, of cakes and candy, fans and canes, bead-stringers, beggars, quacks, tumblers and show-booths; all the trivialities of business, but none of its important transactions; all the follies and gayeties of life, but none of its sober aspects, may be found through the two miles' extent, from the Boulevard des Italien to that of St. Antoine. At the end of the latter is the site of the old Bastile, whose dark dungeons were thrown open by the mob in the first revolution. The spot is a large area: in the centre stands yet the model, in plaster of Paris, of the colossal elephant which Napoleon designed for a fountain, to commemorate the place. The elephant was to have been of bronze, and the water to spout from its trunk. The staircase, to an observatory on his back, was to ascend through one of his legs. The model is more than 70 feet high. Continuing on through the Boulevard Bourbon, you come to the Seine, crossed, a little to your left, by the Pont d'Austerlitz; pass over the bridge, and you stand under the walls of the Jardin des Plants, the noblest provision for the natural sciences on the face of the earth. It is in the scientific world what the Palais Royale is in the world of business and fashion. Its enclosure consists of an immense tract of land, a large portion of which is devoted to the cultivation of rare specimens in botany; another part, called the Swiss Valley, is shaded and beautified with trees and shrubbery, and divided into small enclosures of a triangular shape, with a pen at one of the angles. In each of these divisions is a specimen or two of rare kinds of animals, which gambol about their small parks as frisky as in their native forests. In another part of the garden may be seen specimens of wild animals in ranges of grated cages; in another are elegant hot-houses, from 20 to 30 feet high, made entirely of glass and iron sashes, and filled with invaluable exotics, many of them in full bloom; and yonder is the labyrinth, with its hill covered with rare forest-trees, some brought from the far east; and still beyond is the range of fine large buildings containing the Mineralogical Cabinet and the Galerie d'Histoire Naturel, with their unrivalled collections, and
throngs of pale-faced students. Take a turn to the opposite side of the labyrinth, and you reach the building containing the Galerie de Botanique, presenting every specimen of the science, and including an immense herbarium; a few steps beyond, you meet the Galerie d'Anatomie, with its museum of comparative anatomy; the monument of Cuvier's fame, the new foundation upon which he based the science of geology, and gave demonstration to its hypotheses. The analogies of all organic shapes, from the extinct monsters of geology to the human fetus of two months; from the smallest skeleton of the insect tribes to the elephant or hippopotamus, are disclosed, side by side, in some apartments; while, in others, may be seen specimens, either real or in plaster of Paris, of all malformations of the human form; and, in another, the collections of crania and busts made by Gall, to illustrate his new science. Apply at the office of the administrateur, and tickets will be given gratuitously for all these cabinets-a liberality worthy of a nation whose glory it is to stand first among the patrons of science.
The visiter has now reached the literary section of Paris—the location of its hospitals, its colleges, and nursery gardens; the residences, and cafés, and restaurants, of its 47,000 students, and nearly 1200 members of the University and Institute. In one place he finds the Hopital de la Salpetriere; in another, the celebrated manufacture des Gobelins, where the finest colorings of Reubens are copied into the woven texture; in another, the Hopitals des Veneciens, du val de Grace, des Enfans Trouvés, (for foundlings,) des Enfans Malades, des Incurables Femmes, &c., &c. Yonder is the Observatory, with which are associated the best names of modern astronomy; a few rods from its front bring you into the magnificent gardens of the Louxembourg Palace, crowded with students and literary men, with their books under their arms, and ornamented with fountains, statues, and vases. In the Palace is the Chamber of Peers, and the Gallery of Modern Artists. Thread your way through a few streets to the right, and you stand in the shade of the venerable Sorbonne, of theological renown, now used by the University of France. More than two centuries have left their timeworn effects on its walls. In the chapel is the tomb of its founder, Cardinal Richelieu. A few rods to the south-east, and you gaze on the sublime front and lofty dome of what was once the Church of St. Genevieve, but is now the Pantheon, the mausoleum of illustrious Frenchmen. It stands on the highest ground in the city, and forms a conspicuous feature in its outline when viewed from an elevated place. On its front is inscribed Aux Grands Hommes, la Patrie recognnoissante. The dome itself is like a temple resting on the edifice; it is surrounded with fifty-two pillars, each fiftyfour feet high. The interior of the Pantheon consists of four naves, in the centre of which is the dome; they are decorated with 130 fluted Corinthian columns. The effect of the interior view is that of mixed sublimity and beauty. You descend behind it to the subterranean apartment, extending under the whole building, and containing the ashes of distinguished writers, and statesmen, and soldiers. You enter with torches, for the light of day can find but little access. The first tomb on the right is Rousseau's; it is the one in which he was originally buried, and is much marred, so that the decayed coffin can be seen through the top. The first on the