[ocr errors]

palace from which the new monarchy was to be taken; * at once an emblem of the man, who united the habits of the prince with the ambition of the priest, and of the time, which saw no dissimilarity in the titles “cardinal” and “courtier,” this palace was adorned with all the taste and the luxury of the seventeenth century; and combined, in a singular manner, the avocations of the church with the pleasures of the world. It had its boudoirs, its gallery, its theatre, and its chapel. +

The ancient garden of the Palais Royal, much larger than the present one, comprehended, besides the present garden, the streets de Valois, de Montpensier, and de Beaujolais, as

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

favoured race—that they should not participate in the habits of a corrupt circle—that they should not always have before their eyes the veil of a court education :—that they should not be bound by the tastes of childhood to those interested in deceiving them, and moreover frequently deceived. Such has been my object; and I am certain that I have to congratulate myself on the course I have pursued.'

“The Duke of Orleans was at first standing; he afterwards made me sit down by his side; we were exactly behind Charles Xth, who might have heard every word we were saying."

Let us do justice to the King of the French! Henri IV. never delivered a speech which contained so much goodness, sense, and truth, as there is to be found in these remarks: they offer a fair justification of Louis Philippe's conduct to the family be dethroned: they would offer the best security to the people whom he governs, if we had not unfortunately so many examples of the corrupting influence of power, of the heart being changed and the understanding blinded by a successful ambition.

* The Palais Royal, constructed after the plans of Lemercier, was one of the works of his magnificent reign, and was called, during his lifetime, Palais Cardinal.

Funeste bâtiment autant que magnifique,
Ouvrage qui n'est rien qu'un effet des malheurs,
Pavillons élevés sur les débris des meurs,
Qui causez aujourd'hui la misère publique,
Ordres bien observés dans tonte la fabrique
Lambris dorés et peints de divines couleurs,
Si trempés dans le sang et dans l'eau de nos pleurs,
Pour assouvir l'humeur d'un conseil tyrannique;
Pompe rouge du feu de mille embrasemens :
Balustres, promenoirs, superflus ornemens :
Grand portail, enrichi de piliers et de niches,
Tu portes en écrit un nom qui te sied mal;
On te devait nommer l'hôtel des mauvais riches

Avec plus de raison que-Palais Cardinal. + Louis XIV. gave the Palais Royal to the Duke of Orleans. lu this palace have successively dwelt Richelieu, Louis XIII., Anne of Austria, Henrietta of England, and six Princes (including the present King) of the House of Orleans,


well as that space now occupied by the sides of the palace, wbich bave been more recently built. Its great ornament was a large alley of mulberry-trees, old, and “thick of leaves ;” and beneath this alley's venerable sbade were usually collected the idle and inquisitive of one sex, the profligate and purchaseable of another: seventeen hundred and eighty-two, that revolutionary epoch, laid low even the mulberry-trees, in spite of the songs and epigrams with which the improvement was received.* Three sides of the present square were then completed; the fourth, constructed provisionally of wood, was that singular and shabby row of stalls which we still remember, originally called Camp des Tartares, and which has but lately given way to the superb gallery constructed by the present king.

There are spots to which a certain destiny seems attached. As early as Anne of Austria the troubles of the Fronde might be said to commence at the Palais Royal. Here it was that the parliament, assembled in the royal gallery, declared in favour of the wishes of the people! and here it was, about a hundred and fifty years afterwards, that a young man (Camille Desmoulins), jumping upon one of the straw chairs, harangued the populace on the night of the famous charge of the Prince de Lambesch, and sounded the first notes of that revolution which commenced by the assault of the Bastille and ended by—the expulsion of the senate! It was in the Palais Royal that the club of the Jacobins was formed; it was in the Palais Royal that its rival club of the Thermidorians was held; the centre of action, discussion, politics—every café in this historical spot is sacred for its recollections and its opinions. The casé de Foy was the theatre of the Dantonists—the café de Chartres of the Gironde. The Hundred Days bad its casé of patriots; * and the Restoration its café of enthusiastic youth and dissatisfied soldiers. I do not know a better description of the kind of gentlemen who frequent this resort than is contained in the simple fact mentioned by M. de Roch, viz.—that there is not an hôtel garni

* It was then that the Duc d'Orleans réplied to some one who asked whether he would not find the building very expensive,“ Point du tout, car tout le monde me jette la pierre."


in the place.”. The persons you meet—are a population of strollers-of wanderers from every part of Paris, and from every part of the world—of men who seek no rest but such as may be found in a chair—who desire no information not contained in a newspaper; no excitement beyond that which is offered by certain houses in the vicinity.

The police, by no means less punctilious since the revolution than during the pious regime that it destroyed, have completely driven away those improper ladies, who used to horrify all more decent and respectable matrons, by appearing as indecorously dressed, as if they had been going to a ball in good society. This no, doubt, has very much improved the evening

, company of the Palais Royal. But the most virtuous have a tide-mark in their morality, and neither the Jesuits nor the Doctrine have allowed theirs to overflow the point at which it might do injury to the revenue. No : the gamblinghouse is to be open night and day to all adventurers, and the Morgue and the Treasury are filled by the same miserable contrivance.

The following passage, taken from a popular French novel, presents a picture of one of these iniquitous resources of the exchequer :

“ Enter! how bare ! The walls are covered with coarse paper to the height of your head! The floor is dirty, and a number of straw chairs drawn round a cloth, threadbare from the rubbing of gold, manifest a strange indifference to luxury, amongst those who are sacrificing themselves for its sake! Four old men, with bald heads, and visages as impassive as plaster, sit round the table; and by them a young Italian, with long black hair, leans quietly on his elbows, and appears to seek those secret presentiments which whisper so fatally to the gambler-'Yes,'No.' Seven or eight spectators are standing silent, motionless, and attentive as the mobs at the Place de Grève, when the guillotine is about to fall on the neck of the victim. A tall, sour looking-man, in a threadbare coat, holding a card in one hand, a pin in another, pricks in rouge or noir, according to the turn of the card. This is your Tantalus of modern days-one of those who live upon the brink of all the pleasures of their time--this is a miser without a treasure, playing an imaginary stake ; a sort of reasonable madman, who consoles himself for the misery of his fate by carressing a terrible chimera.

“Opposite the bank, one or two players, skilled in all the chances of the game, and like those thieves who are no longer frightened at the galleys, are come to make their three coups, and to carry off immediately the probable winnings on which they live. An old waiter walks nonchalantly up and down the room, his arms folded, and stops now and then at the window, as if to show to the passengers beneath “ the sign of the house." The dealer, the banker, cast upon the players that sombre look which thrills the soul of the young gambler, and say with a hoarse voice, Faites le jeu !


As there are many things untranslateable, or which would seem ridiculous, in the translation, I subjoin the original forcible and fantastical description :

« Entrez :-Quelle nudité ! Les murs couverts de papier gris à hauteur d'homme, n'offrent pas une image qui puisse rafraîchir l'âme; pas même un clou pour faciliter le suicide. Le parquet est toujours malpropré. Uue table ronde occupe le centre de la salle, et la simplicité des chaises de paille, pressées autour de ce tapis usé par l'or, annonce une curieuse indifférence au luxe chez ces hommes qui viennent périr là pour la fortune et pour le luxe. ...i Trois vieillards à têtes chauves sont nonchalamment assis autour du tapis vert. Leurs visages de plâtre, impassibles comme ceux des diplomates, révèlent des ames blasées, des cœurs qui depuis long-temps avaient désappris de palpiter en envisageant même les biens paraphernaux d'une femme. Un jeune Italien aux cheveux noirs, au teint olivâtre, était accoudé tranquillement au bout de la table, et paraissait écouter ces pressentimens secrets qui crient fatalement à un joueur oui '—non-cette tête méridionale respirait l'or et le feu. Sept ou huit spectateurs debout, rangés de manière å former une galerie, attendaient les scènes que leur préparaient les coups du sort, les figures des acteurs, le mouvement de l'argent et des rateaux. Ces désæuvrés étaient là, silencieux, immobiles, attentifs, comme est le peuple à la Grève, quand le bourreau tranche une tête. Un grand homme sec en habit rapé tenait un registre d'une main, et de l'autre une épingle pour marquer les passes de la rouge ou de la noire. C'était un de ces Tantales modernes, qui vivent en marge de toutes les jouissances de leur siècle; un de ces avares sans trésor qui jouent en idée une mise imaginaire; espèce de fou raisonnable, se consolant de ses misères en caressant une épouvantable chimèremmagissant enfin avec le vice et le danger comme les jeunes prêtres avec Dieu, quand ils lui disent des messes blanches.

" Puis, en face du banque un ou deux de ces fins spéculateurs experts aux chances du jeu, et semblables à d'anciens forçats qui ne s'effraient plus des galères, étaient venus là pour hasarder trois coups et emporter immédiatement le gain probable dont ils vivaient. Deux vieux garçons de salle se promenaient nonchalamment, les bras croisés, regardant aux carreaux par intervalles, comme pour montrer aux passans leurs plates figures en guise d'enseigne. Le lailleur et le banquier venaient de jeter sur les positeurs ce regard blême

Such are the scenes of the Palais Royal-such are the scenes of that fatal place, in which the vice and the villany, the industry and the arts, the force and the weakness, the power and the pleasure, the idle and voluptuous habits, the morbid and active spirit of our race—all that advances and instructs, and degrades and disgraces the age in which we live—are found side by side together. Must civilization be accompanied by its curses ? The electricity which creates the thunder guides us to the pole, and the same terrible energy which disturbs the world, has carried knowledge and religion over its deep and mysterious ways.


Quais, irregularity.—Diversity.–Paris on a fine day a picture of modern Civi

lization.-Business, crowd.—Different from the Quais osthe Thames.—Powder-mill replaced by the Pantheon.-Tuileries.-Alterations. The arts should be as inviolable as the laws.-Tuileries, last resuge of the aristocracy.—The population of the Tuileries.-Remarkable as the birth of a new age.--Description of that age.— The Tuileries still represent it.

The four great features in the physiognomy of Paris are the Boulevards, the Palais Royal, the Tuiieries, and the Quais. The Quais, though animated differently, are, perhaps, more animated than the Boulevards. Here, again, too, you see the charm of variety and irregularity ; what so irregular as those islands jutting out into the Seine, and mingling their low and dirty hovels with the splendid palaces of the Tuileries and the Louvre ?- what so irregular as that variety of roofs which, standing on any eminence, you behold rising everywhere around you, one above the other, roofs of all shapes, mansions and domes of all sizes? what so diversified as that misture of boats and carriages,-of pavement and of water,-of masts

qui les tue, et disaient d'une voix grèle : " Faites LE JEU !” Balzac, Peau de Chagrin.--I have translated into the present tense).

« VorigeDoorgaan »