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LETTERS

FROM

FRANCE,

IN 1809.

LETTER XXV.

Ercursion to St. CloudPorcelain Manufactory

at Seve-A Duel.

THE late unfortunate Queen of France paid dearly for the sums expended on this chateau, and M. de Calonne had not less reason to regret her taste. A fourth part of the money lavished on St. Cloud would have sufficed to have bribed all the demagogues of France. Such is the mode of reasoning of the Parisian Constitutionalists.

This place derives its name from a very re- . mote antiquity. Clodoald, or St. Cloud, was son of Clodomier, King of Orleans, and grandson of Clovis and St. Clothilda. When his brothers were murdered by his uncles, he escaped through the affection of some noblemen, who conveyed him to a secret place, where he was educated.

When

VOL, II.

B

When he arrived at man's estate, he renounced the kingdom and the world. He was ordained priest, by bishop Eusebius, and founded a monastery in the neighbourhood of Paris, at the village of Nogent; which from him is now called St. Cloud, where his tomb was to be seen before the Revolution, inscribed with a very ancient epitaph. One would not suppose that the residence of a royal anchorite should ever become the seat of regal pleasures, and afterwards the recluse den of a ferocious usurper.

We proceeded along the high road to Versailles, which at a short distance from Paris we quitted, and took the route to the right, leading directly to St. Cloud. It is situated at about two leagues from Paris, and is at all times an agreeable ride. The chateau stands on a most delightful eminence, commanding from the esplanade, a full view of the capital and adjacent country, and the river Seine, which widens at this part, meanders slowly beside the groves of trees which are planted along its southern banks. During the life of the late Queen, the paintings in the gallery, the magnificence of the furniture in all the apartments, and the beauty of the walks, waters and cascades, made St. Cloud a point of attraction for all foreigners. But the paintings and the furniture have been since reinoved; and the place is now fitting up in a most costly style for the residence of the First Consul. It is his intention to hold his court here occasionally, and to enrich it with some choice pictures from the National Gallery at the Louvre. I have also been informed, that he means to make it the depôt for all the gold and silver utensils, and other valuable articles and jewels which he stole out of private houses during his campaign in Italy. A considerable quantity of plate which he pilfered from the churches, and from individuals, having particular marks upon them by which their respective owners might be recognized, he has with great prudence sent to a silversmith to be melted, and wrought into salvers, and other domestic vessels, with his initials, lest his thefts might be detected, which might afford occasion for awkward remarks upon so great a personage as the conqueror of Europe and of France. When the whole shall have thus undergone the requisite fusion and preparation, the Consular family will always be served with gold and silver. Froin the new arrangements and rcparations that are taking place at St. Cloud, it promises to be a very sumptuous mansion, in every respect suited to the accommodation of its most sublime and illustrious tenant.

here

The cascade, or rather the water-works, are in a perfect state of preservation; and they are to play once in three weeks for the amusement of the Parisian populace. According to an estimate which I have obtained of the expence of each exRibition, I find, that this agreeable passe-tems will amount only to the trifling sum of twelve thousand seven hundred and fifty pounds per annum, which is a mere bagatelle for a republic, so rich and opulent, and commercial as that of France. The water-works of Marli, which cost near 200,000l. sterling, are to be destroyed in order to increase the celebrity of those which ornament the imperial residence; so that the populace are greatly indebted to the First Consul, both for his strict attention to public economy, and to the gratification of their little innocent pleasures. A spectacle is the chief delight which absorbs the soul of a Parisian, and it must be confessed, no man understands better than Bonaparte, the art of humouring their taste. He is the greatest showman in Europe, and one is at a loss which most to admire, his omniscience, his disinterestedness, or his benevolence. Doubtless, he will occasionally pay nocturnal visits to the shrine of Henry III. who was assassinated at St. Cloud by the Jacobin Clement, and whose heart is deposited on a wreathed column under the collegiate church. There he will acquire a wholesome lesson for the midnight meditations of his waking thoughts, and in the true spirit of a philosopher, and a member of the National Institute, he may heave a sigh at the dizzy elevation of human greatness, and exclaim with that masterly

hibition

во

genius,

genius *, “O eloquent, just, and mighty death! whom none have dared; thou hast done; and whom all the world hath flattered, thou only hast cast out of the world, and despised. Thou hast drawn together all the far-stretched greatness, all the pride, cruelty, and ambition of man; and covered it all over with these too narrow words

Hic JACET!" I have more than once had occasion to animad. vert on the facilities opened to licentiousness and debauchery in almost every place of public resort, in or near the accursed metropolis of France. There is a circumference of wickedness traced within twelve miles of that hellish spot, seemingly on purpose to prevent the unwary youth from escaping the bounds of infection. If disgusted with the lewd courses of the Parisians, you withdraw a few miles into the country, under the hope of breathing a purer moral atmosphere, you are assailed by the flying squadrons of Satan, and at every step fresh inventions cast a pestilential air around

No repose, no intermission, no time for reflection is allowed to the voluptuous inhabitant of Paris; but all the sorcery and blan

you.

* Sir Walter Rawleigh, who possessed one of the greatest minds human nature ever produced, ends his history of the world on the victory of Paulus Æmilius over Perseus, king of Macedon, with the memorable passage I have cited above, and which I would advise the First Consul to have inscribed on every piece of plate in his palace, B 3

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