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learning of this college embraces the whole range of human science; Chemistry, Public Law, Ethics, Ancient and Oriental Languages, Poetry, and French Literature are publickly taught here to crowded auditories.
The Veterinary school at Alfort, near Charenton, contains a very fine collection of curious anatomical preparations of different domestic animals. It is under the superintendance of a Jury of Instruction, and M. Huzard, of the National Institute, is a distinguished member of it.
All these different establishments, which honour a nation, are supported entirely at the expence of the state; the professors are paid out of the public revenues, and students of all ages and countries are at liberty to consult their libraries, and attend their lectures, free of any expence. Institutions of the description of those I have enumerated, bespeak their own praise. They illustrate the magnificence and power of a nation, better than Consular Guards and Spies of Police; they invite the inquisitive traveller to prolong his residence in the capital, and they allure the foreign student to crown his labours by an attendance at those public lessons, which are delivered gratuitously, by the most eminent philosophers of Europe. As I before observed, these establishments are not in the least calculated for youth, or for those who have not overstepped the bounds of elementary knowledge. They may inspire them with a laudC 3
able spirit of emulation, but they are beyond the reach of juvenile or vulgar understandings. Upon the whole, I never took up my pen with greater pleasure than when I sat down to write this letter, and I never laid it aside with more regret than I do at concluding it.
LETTER LETTER XXVII.
The Military School-Champ de Mars—The Ma
nufactory of the Gobelins Municipal Hall Garde Meuble.
The Military school, erected in 1751, after the designs of Gabriel, has not suffered by the Revolution, the reason of which is obvious; it was used as a barrack for soldiers. It is seen to most advantage from the road leading to Versailles, on the opposite side of the Seine. The prospect thence is extremely pleasing, as you have, at one view, the Champ de Mars, fenced by a double row of trees, extending from the bank of the river to the Military school, by which it is traversed at its extremities, and a little to the left, the Hospital of Invalids and its gardens. But the effect is by no means so grand when you approach the place itself. It is now converted into a barrack for the regiment of Consular Horse Guards, commanded by Beauharnois, and there is very
little to be seen or said about it. We were permitted to walk round the piazzas that encircle the court, beneath which, the soldiers were sleeping in groupes.
Such a solemn stillness reigned throughout the whole building, that we с 4
might might have fancied ourselves in a convent of Benedictins.
The Champ de Mars *, which many people have mistaken for a Campus Martius, is now the dullest and most solitary spot near Paris. Formerly, the altar of Federation stood on its centre, but now every monument of the best time of the Revolution is levelled with the ground. Those who were witnesses of the ceremonial of the Federation, will find full scope for meditation, as they traverse this field; and when we reflect upon the many philosophical, conventional, and directorial anticks and commentaries on rapine and bloodshed which have been exhibited and practised here, it will be admitted, that it is worth the trouble of visiting. All the blasphemous pantomimes which were performed in commemoration of the sanguinary freaks of the Republic, were represented on the Champ de Mars. The pencil of David has been often employed on the scenery, and the pen of Chenier ran with blood as he composed the Pæans of Jacobinism. By way of an under plot, fancy you are present when Maximilian Robespierre descends from the mountain, and with a lighted torch sets fire to the altar of Atheism, while all the people exclaim, “There is a God!
* Or Field of March, so called, because the assemblies of the people were held there in early ages. The month of March, or the beginning of May, was generally the time of those meetings
Long Long live Robespierre ! Long live the National Convention !"-All this sounds like fiction; a sober man will think it too poetical to be true, yet every particular which I have mentioned, actually took place on this very field.
The manufactory of the Gobelins still exists, though its productions are in no request, and have even grown out of fashion. It is kept up at the expence of the nation, in the same manner as it was formerly maintained by the court. During the monarchy it was in a very thriving condition, and consequently the number of workmen far exceeded those at present employed. The different apartments contain many very beautiful tapestries, taken from original paintings of French artists, but they can find no purchasers. Nothing can be more exquisite thạn the colouring and accurate workmanship of the articles produced here; a single piece requires two or three years labour, and the price generally amounts to about three hundred pounds sterling. But the workmen are not paid more than three shillings a day each for their sedentary and tasteful occupation. This may be easily accounted for, as the manufactory belongs to the government, and there is no sale whatever of its works. It is, however, praiseworthy in the government, to maintain, at its own expense, this establishment, without which, the manufactory, and perhaps the art itself, would fall to decay. Fashions are changing constantly, and perhaps