Page images



some flight of stairs, we came into a suite of rooms above, which contained models of looms, pile engines, bridges, &c. &c. well worth the attention of the mechanist.

Monday 30th.-Engaged a fiacre to convey us to the CATACOMBS. On our way thither, the coach stopped in an open space, near the Palais de Justice, where we beheld six persons (all WOMEN) who were there tied, each to a stake, and exposed to public view for an hour, as a punishment for thefts! Three of them were also to be branded. A large paper was fixed above the head of each, stating, as I conjecture, the name and offence of the criminal. Two or three Gens d'Armes were present on horseback. One man

either had been or was to be branded that morning, and to be sent for life to the gallies. The mark was T. P., that is, Travail Perpetuel!

[blocks in formation]


By twelve o'clock we reached the place of our destination. The entrance to the spot announces nothing very remarkable. The country in that quarter appears rather flat. After passing through the Barriere d'Enfer and proceeding a little distance, we left the coach, and turned down a narrow muddy lane to our left, between two stone walls. An insignificant little gate, on the left hand, admitted us to a narrow inclosure, where stood a little stone building over the Well Staircase that leads down to the subterranean passages, denominated the Catacombs ! lighted our tapers, which had cost us half a franc each, we descended the steps to the depth of about eighty feet. On reaching the bottom, we entered upon long passages excavated out of the rock, which was of a yellowish white colour resembling gypsum or limestone. The breadth of these avenues was suffieient to admit of two or three persons walking abreast. The main branch was distinguished by a large black line painted on the roof, with arrows at certain distances, marking the direction towards the entrance, a useful precaution, in case a stranger should lose his companions! Many passages run off to the right and left of the main one. The height of the excavation is in general about six or seven feet, in some parts it was so low as to oblige us to stoop considerably. After traversing these winding paths for some distance, our farther progress was prevented by a small door, surmounted by a motto to this effect :



Ici est l'empire de la mort!


This door being unlocked admitted us to the abode of DEATH.


We now traversed passages where both sides were entirely covered with human thigh bones and skulls! The thigh bones were piled together so that the extremities only were visible, and the skulls were intermixed in long and ghastly rows! The passages occasionally widened into small chambers, adorned with altars and inscriptions, some indicative of Heathen, some of Deistical, and some of Christian sentiments. In one of these little recesses, if they may be so called, are deposited such bones as may be remarkable for appearances arising either from disease or accident. In another is a small pool of water, containing several FISH, which are the only living animals in these dreary vaults!



About the middle of our subterranean wanderings we came to a circular aperture, which penetrated upwards to the day-light. Half an hour brought us again to the well staircase, and we rejoiced in once more breathing the fresh air, as well as in emerging into day-light!

On our way home we crossed the Pont du Jardin du Roi, (ci-devant the Pont du Jardin des Plantes,) and at the further extremity of a large moat on the north side of the river, the site of the BASTILLE was pointed out to us. At present there is a large temporary wooden building on the spot, erected for the purpose of constructing the Colossal Elephant Fountain, projected by NAPOLEON. Not far from this spot was THE TEMPLE where the late amiable Louis the Sixteenth was incarcerated, now entirely demolished. The unfortunate Monarch, with his family, were treated after a manner disgraceful to humanity!

The next place we noticed was the Place Royale, - which has a fountain of six streams in the centre. We also entered the Church of St. Gervais, but found nothing remarkable within it. The front is handsome, and composed of three successive ranges of pillars, each exhibiting a different order of architecture; the lowest, Corinthian; the next, Ionic; and the highest, Doric. Next went to THE HOTEL DE VILLE, in the Place de Greve. It is an ancient building, and certainly cannot boast of much beauty. As this square is the place of public execution, we inquired at the hotel for the Guillotine, but were

[blocks in formation]

informed that it was not there. We were referred to a house not far distant, where it was kept, but on driving thither, we were told it was always taken to pieces and not to be seen!

We lastly drove to THE CONSERVATOIRE DES MACHINES, to view the Loom, invented by Vauconson, which may be set in motion by an ass. It had yesterday escaped our attention.

Dined at the Café de Chartres, and afterwards visited the Theatre des Variétés: the pieces were, M. Credule; M. Beldam, ou La femme sans le vouloir; La laitiere Suisse; and Les Anglaises pour rire; in which latter piece Potier and Brunet appear dressed in a style which, (according to the French) resembles the costume of English females. In this piece, as well as in Les deux Boxeurs, the ridicule is given with a certain degree of delicacy, since the characters are supposed not to represent actual English persons, but merely swindling adventurers, who imitate the garb and manners, in order to accomplish their peculiar objects.

Tuesday, Oct. 1st.-At the Tuilleries we engaged a vehicle, bearing the name of Pot de Chambre, an appellation which indicated no great attention either to decency or to the purposes of the machine. The driver agreed to convey us to VERSAILLES and back for eighteen francs. Our carriage was very similar to a cabriolet, was furnished with two seats, and could conveniently accommodate four persons. The driver sat in front. The whole was drawn by a single horse.

We passed through the village of Passy, the resi

« PreviousContinue »