« PreviousContinue »
spread its luxuriant beauties at the feet of its former captivating owner, upon the mirror of that lake now filled with reeds and rushes, in elegant little pleasure boats, the illustrious party was accustomed to enjoy the freshness of the evening, to fill the surrounding groves with the melody of the song, which was faintly answered by the tender flute, whose musician was concealed in that rustic tower, whose graceful base the honey suckle and eglantine no longer encircle, and whose winding access, once decorated with flowers of the richest beauty and perfume, is now overgrown with moss, decayed, and falling peace-meal to the ground.
Near the farm, in corresponding pleasure grounds, the miller's house particularly impressed us with delight. All its characteristics were elegantly observed. A rivulet still runs on one side of it, which formerly used to turn a little wheel to complete the illusion. The apartments, which must have been' once enchanting, now present nothing but gaping beams, broken ceilings, and shattered casements. The wainscots of its little cabinets, exhibit only a tablet, upon which are rudely penciled, the motley initials, love verses, and memorandums of its various visitors. :
The shade of the ivy, which, upon all occasions, seems destined to perform the last offices to the departing monuments of human ingenuity, has here exercised its gloomy function. Whilst we were roving about, we were obliged to take refuge from a thunder-storm in what appeared to us a
mere barn; upon our entering it, we found it to be an elegant little ball-room, much disfigured, and greened over by damp and neglect. In other parts of this petit Paradis, are caves of artificial rock, which have been formed at an immense expence, in which were formerly beds of moss, and through which clear streams of water glided, Belvidere temples, and scattered cottages, each differing from its neighbour in character, but all according in taste and beauty. The opera house, which stands alone, is a miniature of the splendid one in the palace of Versailles.
The sylvan ball-room, is an oblong square, lined with beautiful treillages, surmounted with vases of flowers. The top is open. When the queen gave her balls here, the ground was covered by a temporary flooring, and the whole was brilliantly lighted. As we passed by the palace, we saw, in the queen's little library, several persons walking.
Could the enchanting beauty of Austria, and the once incensed idol of the gay, and the gallant, arise from her untimely tomb, and behold her most sacred recesses of delight, thus rudely exposed, and converted into scenes of low, and holiday festivity; the temples which she designed, defaced, their statues overthrown, her walks overgrown and entangled; the clear mirror of the winding lake, upon the placid surface of which once shone the reflected form of the Belvidere, and the retreats of elegant taste covered with the reedy greenness of the standing pool, and all the
fairy fabric of her graceful fancy, thus dissolving in decay, the devoted hapless Marie would add another sigh to the many which her aching heart has already heaved!
St. Rocque.We went to the church of St. Rocque, in the Rue St. Honoré. As we entered, the effect of a fine painting of our Saviour crucified, upon which the sun was shining with great glory, placed at the extremity of the church, and seen through several lessening arches of faint, increasing shade, was very grand. This church had been more than once the scene of revolutionary carnage. Its elegant front is much disfigured, and the doors are perforated in a great number of places by the ball of canncn and the shot of musketry. Mass was performing in the church; but we saw only a few worshippers, and those were chiefly old women and little girls.
Hotel des Invalides.-From St. Rocque we proceeded to the Hotel des Invalides, the chapel and dome of which are so justly celebrated. The front is inferior to the military hospital at Chelsea, to which it bears some resemblance. The chapel is converted into the Hall of Victory, in which, with great taste, are suspended, under descriptive medallions, the banners of the enemies of the Republic which have been taken during the late war, the numbers of which are immense. The same decoration adorns the pilasters and gallery at the vast magnificent dome at the end of the hall.
My eye was naturally occupied immediately after we had entered, in searching amongst the most battered of the banners for the British colours: at last I discovered the jack and ensign of an English man of war, pierced with shot-holes, and blackened with smoke, looking very sulky and indignantly amongst the finery and tawdry tatters of Italian and Turkish standards.
In the course of this pursuit, I caught the intelligent eye of Madame S - She immediately assigned to my search the proper motive. -“ Ah !” said she laughingly, and patting me on the arm with her fan, “ we are, as you see, my dear Englishman, very vain; and you are very proud.”
A stranger to the late calamitous war, unable to marshal in his mind the enemies of the Republic, might here, with a glance, whilst contemplating this poor result of devastation, enumerate the foes of France, and appreciate the facilities or difficulties of the victory.
In observing amidst this gaudy show of captive colours, only two hard-won banners of their rival enemy, he would draw a conclusion too flattering and familiar to an English ear, to render it necessary to be recorded here.
Upon the shattered standards of Austria he would confer the meed of merited applause for heroic, although unprevailing bravery. .
To the banners of Prussia he would say, “ I know not whether principle or policy, or treachery
or corruption, deterred you from the field; your looks exhibit no proofs of sincere resistance; however, you never belonged to cowards.”
The Neapolitan ensign might excite such sentiments as these : “ You appear for a short time to have faced the battle; you were unfortunate, and soon retired.”
To the gaudy drapeaus of the Italian and Turkish legions, which every where present the appearance of belonging to the wardrobe of a pantomimic hero, he would observe, “ The scent of the battle has not perfumed you ; its smoke has not sullied your shining, silky sides. Ye appear in numbers, but display no, marks of having waved before a brave, united, and energetic band.”
In this manner might he trace the various fate of the war. Upon several of the staffs only two or three shreds of colours are to be seen adhering. These are chiefly Austrian. On each side of the chapel are large, and some of them valuable paintings, by the French masters, representing the conquests of the French armies at different eras.
It is a matter not unworthy of observation, that although the revolution, with a keen and savage eye, explored tod successfully almost every vestige of a royal tendency, the beautiful pavement under the dome of the Invalides has escaped destruction. The fleur de lis, surmounted by the crown of France, still retains its original place in this elegant and costly marble flooring. The sta