( Originally Published 1908 )
"River and bridge and street and square
PARIS, the Beautiful, has for every visitor and sojourner an indescribable fascination that eludes comparison with the special charm of every other city. Even when the pale gold of the winter sunshine is falling over the Jardin du Tuileries and the Champs Élysées ; when the long lines of statues, the groups of sculpture, and the marble urns for flowers are gleaming whitely from the clustering evergreens that define the paths, there is almost as distinctive a beauty as when, in all the glory of the early summer, the flowers are glowing in scarlet masses and the fountains are sending their showers of spray an hundred feet into the air. The many spaces enchant the eye, — great avenues, vast parks and wide streets; beautiful views allure the gaze, melting into arch or monument or the picturesque façade of some church, or gateway, or the noble Arc de Triomphe, which forms a vista from the twelve great avenues that radiate from the Etoile.
Paris is neither mediæval nor modern ; it refuses to be assigned to any definite chronology ; it is unique, and there is a suggestion of a vast realm of life that is aglow with wonderful possibilities. Infinite trains of thought are inspired : one realizes that he is in the centre of art, of scientific activity and discovery, and that he treads on the very threshold of surprises that may, any morning, quite transform the course of progress. There is a, curious sense of satisfaction with one's environment, as being that which contains and offers everything, and stimulates the purposes of life in myriad directions.
The French capital is a paradise of beauty ; it is also a paradise of opportunity. The spirit experiences a sense of liberation from barriers and obstacles inseparable from all other cities or localities; a sense of being set free to observe, to study, to enter into new and undreamed of realizations, and to enjoy. There is a wonderful exhilaration, as if, for the first time, one treads the Promised band. Old things have passed away, and all things have become new. Art, in all its varied forms of expression, — in painting, sculpture, music, the drama, lyric art, architecture, — pervades the entire atmosphere. Society, in the brilliancy of ceremonial life, of fashion, or that of the savant, the scholar, the thinker, is here. Invention and research find in Paris their scientific home.
The generous hospitality of the French govern-ment to the student is unprecedented and unrivalled in the entire world. The splendid galleries of the Musées du Louvre, open daily (Mondays excepted) throughout the year, are free to each and all; the galleries of the Musée du Luxembourg are also free ; the splendid courses of lectures given at the Sorbonne, the Institute, the Collège de France and many other institutions, there being often as many as thirty separate courses of lectures given at the same time, are open to all who wish to enjoy them. The Bibliothèque Nationale, with its three million volumes, is open daily, except on holidays, free to those who seek its magnificent resources and its rare treasures of medals and antiques, manuscripts, maps and engravings. The opera, the Théâtre Français, the great concerts and the dramatic productions at all the theatres are available to the public at moderate prices. To live in Paris is to find that the most ideal and inestimable privileges of life are offered freely to all, without money and without price.
The popular idea that Paris is the synonym of frivolity, not to say of things far worse than frivolity, is utterly remote from the truth. The French do not, indeed, take their pleasures sadly, but joyously ; sadness and seriousness, however, are by no means equivalent. That the joie de vivre is in the very air in Paris does not argue that Parisian life is lacking in significance. On the contrary, every phase of interest is represented, — the scholarly, the artistic, the mystic, as well as the most brilliant social life that the world has known. The complex, many-faceted French life is the wonder of contemporary civilization.
If one shall seek a key-note to Paris, he may find it in the inscription over the portals of the Panthéon, " Aux Grands Hommes la Patrie Reconnaissante," placed there in 1791, when the church of Sainte Geneviève was converted into a national memorial temple.
No city so honors its great men as does Paris. It perpetuates their memory in the names of streets and avenues, and one treads the Rue Bonaparte, the Avenue Victor Hugo, the Boulevard Haussmann, the Rue Gustave Courbet, the Avenue Bosquet, the Rues Richelieu, Dan-ton, Eugène Delacroix, Henri Martin, Lamar-tine, Greuze, Pascal or Racine ; the Avenue Prud'hon, the Rues Sévigné, Théophile Gautier ; the Passage Thierry ; the Quai Voltaire, and the Rue Rosa Bonheur. Who can traverse the narrow, gloomy little street of the Rue des Saints Pères without some passing speculation as to the " saintly fathers " whom it commemorates ? Paris still bears traces of the Benedictine, the Franciscan, and the Dominican fraternities, and symbolism, historic allusion, legend and story are to be read in her thoroughfares.
But these are more a scenic setting to the life of to-day; an incidental background lending a mild, picturesque interest to the hour, rather than the special object of pursuit, as in the Italian cities. The great historic structures, such as Notre Dame, the Panthéon, the Sorbonne, the Musée Cluny, Sainte-Chapelle, the Madeleine, and also the churches of Saint Germain-des-Près, Saint Sulpice, Saint Germainl'Auxerrois, Saint Etienne-du-Mont and Saint Roch attract a visit, perhaps repeated pilgrim-ages, from the occasional sojourner in Paris. But after these and a few other important buildings, such as the Hôtel de Ville, the Bibliothèque Nationale and the Musée Carnavalet are seen once or twice, they are then taken for granted, and merge into a part of the general interest of Paris. The tourist, of course, goes to Ver-sailles and to Fontainebleau, to Barbizon and to the Château de Rosa Bonheur near Thomèry, where Mlle. Anna Klumpke, the artist-friend of the great woman painter of France, and the one to whom Mlle. Bonheur devised her entire estate, so hospitably opens the doors of the château to all who desire to inspect the home and work of Rosa Bonheur. He drives through the wonderful forests of Fontainebleau; he loiters away a summer afternoon in the wooded grounds of the Grand or the Petit Trianon ; he makes a pilgrimage to Giverny for Monet, and to Meudon for Rodin he drives to Sacré-Coeur for the wonderful view over Paris from the heights of Montmartre, and he passes a morning with the ghosts of the past in the dim arcades of the Palais Royal. Some fine day he betakes himself to the Ile de la Cité for a prowl among historic associations and spends a lingering hour in the Cathedral of Notre Dame, with perhaps a latent wonder if he will meet " the monk, the white horse, and the two women " of legend. He discovers the Passage du Pont Neuf, and gazes at the very scene in which Zola's tragic tale, called " Thérèse Raquin," is laid.
This corner, surrounded by dingy buildings, is one of the forsaken nooks of Paris to-day. The Rue Mazarine is defined by a grim, black wall, and M. Georges Cain, the eminent curator of the Musée Carnavalet, and of the historic collections of Paris, says that this nook always recalls to him a paragraph in the " Fils Naturel " by the younger Dumas, who, in some reminiscence of his childhood, recalls the return from the première of the play " Charles VI chez ses grands vassaux," given at the Odéon in 1831, with doubtful success, which presaged no relief from the dreary poverty of the household. Alexandre Dumas had heavy burdens to sup-port, — his mother, in addition to his own household — and he had but the meagre salary of his position under the Duc d'Orléans. It was not his talents, but his star that he doubted ; and the younger Dumas always remembered his father's broad shadow cast by the moon on the dark, gloomy wall of the Institute, and himself, timidly guessing at his father's anxieties, and endeavoring to keep up with the strides of the good-natured giant.
Near the Place de la Bastille, in the centre of which the Colonne de Juillet (erected in 1831-40, to the memory of the heroes of the Revolution of 1830) towers into the air, is the Passage Charlemagne in the Rue Saint Antoine, the very epitome of picturesque decay, and now swarming with a population that suggests the characters in the novels of Gaboriau. They are peaceful enough, however, although the nondescript throng offer for barter and sale the very flotsam and jetsam of civilization, which suggest all varieties of stratagem and spoil, if not treason. The once magnificent mansion of Hugues Aubriot which, under Charles V was a notable social centre, is here occupied by venders of milk and provisions, old chairs, broken kitchen furnishings which have apparently seen their best days, and the rags of utter squalor. Yet the façade of this mansion retains its architectural beauty, and there are still remaining the turrets of five centuries ago, which enclosed the grand staircase. From the broken, neglected casements, one reconstructs, in fancy, the windows from which the Duc de Berri, the Duc d'Orléans, and Jean de Montaigne have gazed, as guests in this once noble mansion.
Hugues Aubriot was made Provost of Paris under Charles V, and this building, then known as the provost's palace, was noted for the tower and spiral staircase, which is the only part now remaining intact.
In this vicinity, also, assembled the Précieuses, with Mlle. de Scudéry as their leader under the name of Sapho. As the reader will recall, this society of Nouvelles Précieuses is satirized by Molière in his " Précieuses Ridicules." In the spring of 1612, Marie de Médicis, Queen Regent, gave a tournament to celebrate the conclusion of peace with Spain, to which all the Précieuses proceeded in high state. They journeyed, at times, in the enormous, clumsy coaches of the day, specimens of which are preserved in the Musée de Cluny, to Mme. de Sévigné's, and to the stately hôtel of Marion de Lorme.
The authors of " The Stones of Paris " say of the Précieuses : " For this spot was not only the centre of the supreme social movement of the capital during this long period, but it was the cradle of that bourgeois existence which grew absurd in its swelling resolve to grow as big as that above it. The Hôtel Rambouillet, for all its affectations, did some slight service to good literature and good morals ; it rated brains and manners above rank and money ; it paid a formal and skin-deep homage to decency. Molière himself, rebelling, had to yield, and his early license became restraint, at least. In the wild days of the Fronde, men and women were in earnest, and then came the days when they were in earnest only about trifles; when the ` infinitely little ' was of supremest importance, when shallow refinements concealed coarseness, stilted politeness covered mutual contempt, and the finest sentiments of a Joseph Surface in the salon went along with unrestricted looseness outside. To seem clean was the epidemic of the time, and its chronic malady was cant, pretence, and pollution."
Here, also, the nieces of Mazarin took their outings in sedan-chairs.
In the Rue des Vosges, adjacent, stood the Hôtel Rambouillet, which initiated the delightful Paris fashion of tall windows opening from floor to ceiling. " Behind them, the spacious blue and yellow salons were hung with Italian velvets, or with Flemish and French tapestries, interspaced with Venetian mirrors. Lebrun and his like decorated the ceilings later, and the cornices were heavily carved, and the furniture was in keeping with its surroundings. The arcades of brick, picked out with stone ribs a trifle too low and heavy, it may be, for their symmetry with the otherwise perfect proportions of these façades — were imitated from those of Italy, to serve for shelter from sun, and for refuge from rain, to the strollers who thronged them for over a century. To tell over their names, one has merely to look down the list of men who made themselves talked about, through the whole of Louis XIII's and almost to the close of Louis XIV's reign. Then there were the women, lovely or witty or wicked, and those others, (entre deux ages,) for whom the Marais was noted. The creations of comedy are here, too, and Molière's Mascarille and le Menteur of Corneille are as alive as their creators, under these arcades."
All this region is peopled with ghosts and spectres and phantoms of the past. Lingering here on some spring day, when white clouds are flitting over the blue sky, one finds the air vocal with voices long since silent. This squalid and grim region was the very heart of the most important and dominating social movement of the day. The domicile of Mlle. de Scudéry, where she wrote her "Artamène," is in a narrow passage near ; and here she lived to the age of more than ninety years. In this house she wrote the poem that won her the appellation of the Tenth Muse, and here she received the homage and adulation of her bevy of admirers.
The entire locality of the Rue Saint Antoine and Place des Vosges is filled with landmarks of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries that left their impress on the nineteenth. In the Place Royale was the Hôtel de Richelieu, with ceilings painted by Lebrun ; and in near proximity lived Molière, the Marquis de Breteuil, the Comte de Tresmes, and the Marquis du Camilloc. Mlle. Rachel had her home at one time in the Place Royale, and in his early days, Victor Hugo lived near by. In the centre of the square is a statue of Louis XIII. Here Mme. de Sévigné was born, in the street that now bears her name, and which was then known as the Rue Culture-Sainte-Catherine. The names of Mlle. du Châtelet and of Théophile Gautier are also associated with this locality, and the invocation of the ghosts of those centuries forever gone from all save memory would call up a host of the most varied spirits from the vasty deep. After all,
" Men and women make the world
and the interest of Paris is largely that of the successive dramas that have been enacted in her streets by the mercurial populace who have fashioned the city.
The entire history of Paris is one involving psycho-pathological problems of intense interest. The frenzies that have engulfed the people, at times, simply offer a study into the phenomena of hysteria, into what Frederick Myers has well called the epochs of " disturbances of personality." In one of the illuminative paragraphs of Mr. Myers, he compares this state of hysteria that sometimes seizes and dominates thousands of men, with those of normal personality :
" Might not all the historic tale be told, mutato nomine, of the whole race of mortal men ? What assurance have we that from some point of higher vision we men are not as these shrunken and shadowed souls ? Suppose that we had all been a community of hysterics, all of us together subject to these shifting losses of sensation, these inexplicable gaps of memory, these sudden defects and paralyses of movement and of will. Assuredly we should soon have argued that our actual powers were all with which the human organism was or could be endowed. . . . Nay, if we had been a populace of hysterics we should have acquiesced in our hysteria. We should have pushed aside as a fantastic enthusiast the fellow-sufferer who strove to tell us that this was not all that we were meant to be. As we now stand, — each one of us totus, teres, atque rotundas in his own esteem, — we see at least how cowardly would have been that contentment, how vast the ignored possibilities, the forgotten hope. Yet who assures us that even here and now we have developed into the full height and scope of our being ? A moment comes when the most beclouded of these hysterics has a glimpse of . the truth. A moment comes when, after a profound slumber, she wakes into an instant clair — a flash of full perception, which shows her as solid, vivid realities all that she has in her bewilderment been apprehending phantasmally as a dream. . . . Is there for us also any possibility of a like resurrection into reality and day ? Is there for us any sleep so deep that waking from it after the likeness of perfect man we shall be satisfied ; and shall see face to face; and shall know even as also we are known."
It is a far cry from the Paris of Richelieu and Molière, the Paris of the Place Royale and the Rue Saint-Antoine, to that of the Champs Elysées, the Bois de Boulogne, and the Avenue de Bois, — the Paris of wit, elegance, luxury, power and beauty, — the magic Paris of to-day, with its atmosphere of the triumphal achievement of that which is worth having in life. The contrast of the streets of Paris and London would furnish reflections on the contrast of nature between the French and the English. It is perhaps true that one never finds himself near the English side of the Channel that he is not overcome by the call of Paris and Italy, and will not take leisure to see his London adequately. He thinks of it as a reckless waste to pass any time in England that he might pass in Paris. Yet all the while he realizes that London is, without doubt, the intellectual capital of the world ; the absolute centre -- the wonderful focus of every conceivable interest. Lon-don cannot but impress one, in many ways, as the most marvellous human spectacle on the face of the earth ! It is like the most gigantic and colossal machine in which both people and mechanism meet, and fit into each other like cogs in a groove. It is like an infinitely vast human dynamo. The rush of the machine never stops, but nothing veers amiss. Every cog and pin keeps perfectly in its place. The streets are a swiftly moving river of traffic and travel, but no one is hurt, no accident happens. There is not the danger in this unspeakable turmoil that there is in the quiet and supremely decorous Back Bay region of Boston. Take, for one feature, the motor 'bus. It is as large as a house, as an hotel, as a warehouse, as a ship, — almost. It looms up like the very car of Juggernaut. It comes down upon one like the wolf on the fold. It could crush fifty people at once and no one would ever even notice the catastrophe. But as a matter of fact, it seems as harmless as a flying bird. Then the 'bus, — with its two swift horses ; the hansom cab, darting everywhere ; the private motor car ; the carriages, and always and everywhere the pedestrians ; and yet, all this complex, countless and indescribable throng and mass some way go and come, and cross the streets, and thread the labyrinths safe and untouched. How it is done is a miracle. It is the most impressive illustration of absolutely perfect adjustment of people and environment. The great " motor 'bus " lines are all gloriously named. One line bears proudly its title of the " Union Jack." Another is the " Vanguard," while a third is the " General." They run from the city to Kensington, to Bayswater, to Hampstead, — to the moon, for aught one knows. They are everywhere and they go everywhere. They carry a roof-deck full of passengers at half the price of the seats within. Then there is the new " tube," which seems to be perfection itself. It is as perfect as New York's subway is defective. In the latter, any journey is like taking a steam bath. The air is bad, the service itself not over-good, and the temperature more or less intolerable. But the air in the London " tube " is as pure as the famous " strained " air of a certain modern New York hotel, which thus improves upon the natural air to prepare it for their guests to breathe. The electric trains in the " tube " are so swift-gliding that the passenger almost arrives before he starts. But the getting to these " tube " trains is a process. One goes down a long flight of steps and at the foot finds an elevator; but this is not a device to carry him to the surface again, but, instead, he is elevated down — if the reader will pardon the contradiction. He descends to the centre of the earth, or somewhere along there and then enters his train. The whole process is a swift one and is carried out more quickly than could be imagined. It is all like clockwork.
Now while all this adjustment of persons and places, of people and traffic is carried on in London with the calm power of some colossal Juggernaut proceeding on its way, in Paris it is very different. Nothing can be more quiet and commonplace than the taking of a 'bus, or " tube," or motor in England. In the streets of Paris it is a spectacle. It is an event. It is a drama. Each passenger obtains his " numéro " from the wayside office and the conductor calls out the number. He who has the card bearing " 61 " must wait patiently until " 60 " is seated, and if then the seats are filled, if the great vehicle is " tout complet," he must await the next one. An American could board a train to cross the continent with less display of energy. Everything in Paris, from the most important to the most insignificant movement, is done with a certain réclame. It is the French temperament, and the psychologist may ask whether this national excitability of temperament is not the outcome of that tragic hysteria which culminated in the French Revolution. To a great extent, also, it is the artistic temperament. Every action, every gesture is pictorial. Paris is the city, not so much of progressive growth, as of successive transformations. The city of Louis XIII was no more the city of Napoleon III, than is that of Louis-Philippe the city of President Fallières. Paris is always being transformed, something after the fashion recommended by Saint Paul, — by the renewing of its mind. Its mercurial temperament is creative. It originates new designs in art, in letters, in general progress, as it does in fashions. The French capital evidently holds the mental conviction regarding any change that :
" If it were done, when 'tis done, then 'twere well It were done quickly."
Nowhere can the national genius of a people be more justly studied in its streets than in Paris.
The Christmas season, for instance, is some-thing to be reckoned with, in the French capital. From the week before Christmas up to Twelfth Night, the holiday festivities take precedence of every other conceivable event or interest. The genius of the French people is for festivals. Whatever the holidays are else-where, they have hardly the absolute abandon to gaiety seen in Paris. They all seem to believe with the Spanish as expressed in the proverb : " God first ; amusement second, and work is for the donkeys." For the time all business, save that of shopping, goes to the winds. Neither modiste nor milliner, nor laundress nor any one else will undertake any work, for love, or money, or any other consideration. All along the boulevards rows of temporary booths are erected with all sort of bijouterie for sale. Trinkets and tinsel, and toys make gay the spectacle. Every one is buying who is not selling. Fakirs whirl impossible showers of electric lights ; biographs shown from the second story of buildings hold crowds and throngs gazing at these curious moving pictures from the opposite side ,of the street; the cafés are crowded with people who take their coffee and ices — and heaven knows what less innocent dainties — while listening to an orchestra throned above on the flower screened balcony. Every-thing is movement and gaiety. All Paris is abroad, and pleasure is the business of life. Everything else is incidental. Work is simply a means to an end, and that end is pleasure. The Café de Paris, in the Avenue de l'Opéra, is a typical French interior. It is the centre where most do congregate the aristocracy and also the gorgeous beings of that half-world which is such a feature of the French capital. American visitors are apt to make up little parties for the café on festive occasions, as they would go to the theatre or opera, as a spectacle of the city. New Year's Eve this interior is apt to be resplendent with flowers and colored lights, and displays elaborate costumes and marvellous jewels. Almost every modern language is heard. The dinner and music are prolonged well into the morning hours, and the streets are filled with revellers more vociferous than our own Fourth of July throngs; that keep up their merriment till dawn. New Years is the great Parisian festival — far more than is Christmas, while across the Channel the English reverse this valuation.
But for those of us to whom the world has other interests than spectacles and festivities, there is a feeling of relief when all this incessant merrymaking is at last ended, and one may begin to fall upon rational days again.
At all times and seasons, Paris offers in her streets a series of pictorial effects that captivate the eye. Entering the Avenue des Champs Élysées from the Place de la Concorde, the site of the guillotine by which Marie Antoinette was beheaded is marked by a colossal group of sculpture. Entering the avenue, one soon comes to the two great buildings of white marble — the Grand Palais des Beaux Arts and the Petit Palais — standing opposite each other on either side the street that runs over the Pont Alexandre III the most decorative and elaborate bridge over the Seine, which was constructed to celebrate the grand exposition of 1900. The two palaces of art were also built for that year. In the Grand Palais are held the annual Salons — both societies, each spring — but the Petit Palais holds a permanent exposition of furniture, bronzes, ivory carvings, tapestries and wonderful clocks, old musical instruments, and other curious and interesting things. In this Palais are also displayed the furniture and sculpture which France has purchased from the Spring Salons since 1875. On one side of the Avenue des Champs Élysées, entering from the Place de la Concorde, are a series of cafés `chantants — the Grand Palais de Glace and numerous pavilions, with arches and circles and clusters of electric lamps, which, when lighted at night, gleaming in all colors, rose and amber, and violet and emerald and scarlet, amid the foliage in the summer, offer an enchanted scene. Looking up the avenue, whether in the golden glow of the summer days or in the pale shadows of winter, the magnificent Arc de Triomphe meets the eye, with its stately and impressive vista. The Etoile is the centre of all social Paris, its great avenues branching in all directions.
The Arc de Triomphe is one of the architectural glories of the world, being the largest of all the triumphal arches, — one hundred and sixty-four feet in height and about the same in width, with a thickness of seventy-five feet. It was begun in 1805 by order of Napoleon I, as a memorial of the triumphs achieved by the French troops in the Austerlitz campaign, and it was completed in 1836 by Louis Philippe. It is adorned with groups of sculpture representing scenes in the history of France from the breaking out of the revolutionary war in 1792 until the peace of 1815, such as the departure of troops in 1792, the battle of Aboukir, the defence against the invaders in 1814, and other scenes. On the arch are inscribed more than six hundred and fifty names of officers in the armies of the Napoleonic period, those of generals who died in battle being underlined.
The tomb of Napoleon is another of the impressive monuments of Paris, and is in the Dame des Invalides, which was erected by the famous architect Mansard in 1706. The exterior elevation is adorned with Doric and Corinthian columns, and is approached by a broad flight of steps.
There are statues representing Justice, Temperance, Prudence, and Strength, and effigies of Charlemagne and St. Louis surrounding the aisles. The height to the summit of the cross is three hundred and forty feet, the diameter of the dome is nearly ninety feet. Like St. Paul's, London, this dome is not of stone, but of wood covered with lead. The pavement displays a handsome mosaic design of the time of Louis XIV. In the chapels around the dome are the tombs of two members of the Bonaparte family,— Joseph, King of Spain during the Peninsular War, and Jerome, the Emperor's youngest brother, King of Westphalia.
But it is as one bends over the balustrade and looks down into the tomb, an open crypt some twenty feet deep by forty feet in diameter, that he gains the most complete idea of the impressive nature of the vast monumental structure; for here, directly under the lofty dome, in a great sarcophagus of red Finland granite, the gift of the Emperor Nicholas of Russia, is deposited the body of the great Napoleon. It was in 1840, nineteen years after his death, that the Emperor's remains were brought to France by the Prince de Joinville, a son of King Louis-Philippe, in the warship La Belle Poule, in fulfilment of the dead Emperor's wish, expressed in his will, now inscribed over the bronze entrance to the crypt.
As a work of art, the Emperor's tomb is characterized by a grandeur and solemnity thoroughly in keeping with the feeling of France. Twelve colossal figures, representing the chief victories of Napoleon, surround the gallery and contemplate the sarcophagus. They are the best works of Pradier. Between the statues are aptly placed fifty-four flags, arranged in six trophies. They were taken at the battle of Austerlitz. The mosaic pavement of the crypt represents a laurel wreath.
The inscription from the Emperor's will is as follows : — " Je désire que mes cendres reposent sur les bords de la Seine, au milieu de ce peuple français que j'ai tant aimé." One feature of beauty is a large window of yellow glass, making a perpetual golden light that falls over the crypt and seems to enshrine the sarcophagus in a halo of glory.
The most beautiful view of Notre Dame is attained from a boat on the river. At the eastern end of the Ile de la Cité, the twin towers rise against the sky and make one of the beautiful pictures of Paris. The present edifice has had several predecessors, for as early as A. D. 365 there was a cathedral church on the site. Childebert, the successor of Clovis, the real founder of the Frankish kingdom in Gaul, built a second cathedral on the northern side of the Ile de la Cité, and dedicated it to Saint Étienne. It is now one of the finest specimens in Europe of decorated Gothic architecture. Above the central entrance is depicted the Last Judgment ; the central door is adorned by a colossal statue of Christ, the right-hand door with a statue of St. Marcel, and the left-hand door with one of the Virgin Mary. In the niches above the doors are twenty-eight modern statues of kings. The statues of Adam and Eve and the central figure of the Virgin, above the niches, are by Geoffrey Dechaume ; the two kneeling angels by Toussaint and Chenillon, respectively. The towers were originally meant to support spires. Admission is given at a door in the left tower to those who wish to ascend the towers, which may be done by paying a fee of fifty centimes. Viollet-le-Duc's steeple, rising to a height of two hundred and eighty-five feet from the ground, is worthy of special remark for its beauty and lightness. It is of timber covered with lead. The interior consists of a principal nave and a double series of aisles. Around the walls of the church are thirty-seven chapels. The pulpit is from a design of Viollet-le-Duc; the fine organ by Cliquot, restored by Cavaillé-Coll, is a marked feature of the church ; but there are few paintings of much value, and the interest is historic rather than artistic.
The French Institute, where " Immortals " are created, is a conspicuous object from the Garden of the Tuileries. The Palais de 1' Institut, a large building surmounted by a dome, is on the left bank of the Seine, near where once stood the Tour de Nesle, where Margaret of Burgundy, the wife of Louis X, is said to have entertained young strangers whom, as a final office of hospitality, she afterwards caused to be thrown into the Seine.
The edifice, built in the latter part of the seventeenth century, was used as a prison during the Revolution and in 1795 was ceded to the five Académies which form the Institute. While it has no particular architectural or artistic attractions — an indifferent statue of Voltaire being almost the only work of art that decorates it, the interest of association always draws visitors.
Originally founded for educational purposes by Cardinal Mazarin, the Institute is now the goal of ambition to every French savant, and the annual meetings, when a new member is received, are occasions of national interest. The audience is composed of the most notable people of the day, — statesmen, scientists, men of letters, artists, and women of society and fame, who are in the most fashionable costumes and represent the titled aristocracy, and the celebrities of genius, of beauty and of social prominence. Tickets of admission can only be obtained from members of the Institute, and they are greatly sought for, the demand always far exceeding the supply.
The French Institute comprises five Académies ; the Académie Française, which de-votes itself to the French language and the care and progress of the dictionary ; the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques, whose specialty is law, jurisprudence, moral philosophy and statistics ; the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, whose scope includes history, geography, antiquities, Oriental and mediæval languages ; the Académie des Sciences, devoting itself exclusively to scientific research ; and the Académie des Beaux Arts, whose field is that of painting, sculpture, music, engraving and architecture. Each of these Académies has forty members, save that of Science, which admits sixty-six to its member-ship. Each of these bodies holds a weekly meeting, all of them meeting once a year, for the general meeting (the Séance Annuelle), when new members are received. Women, however notable for genius or achievements, are not eligible to membership.
In 1795, the Academy founded by Cardinal Richelieu was united with the Institute, and the latter divided into three classes, each of which has since become, of itself, an academy. Each member of the Institute receives a salary of twelve hundred francs, and some five hundred and twenty-five thousand francs a year are devoted to prizes. The Prix Jean, Renaud (ten thousand francs) is awarded to poets ; the Prix Gobert to the best writer of the year on French history; and the Prix Carnot (eleven thousand francs) is devoted to some fifty families of work-men who are left in need. It was before the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques that Guizot delivered that course of brilliant and profound lectures that were afterwards embodied in his monumental work, the " History of Civilization."
Napoleon took a great personal interest in the Institute, and contributed to its organization. One of its most interesting features is the Bibliothèque Mazarin, the collection of books bequeathed to France by Cardinal Mazarin, — some three hundred thousand volumes, with more than sixty thousand rare and valuable manuscripts, representing the great authors of almost every age and nationality. There are also cases of historic souvenirs, as a large terrestrial globe of copper, which Louis XVI had made for the instruction of the Dauphin, and the inkstand that belonged to Condé. There is also a collection that interests the archæologist in a number of models of Pelasgic monuments from Asia Minor, Greece and Southern Italy.
The little Musée de Caën is quite worth seeing, though this can only be arranged by special permission. Some forty years ago the Countess de Caën made a bequest to the Institute of France for the benefit of art students in Rome, with the condition that each one who shared in the benefit should contribute one work of art in painting, sculpture, or in architectural design to the Museum. Near the entrance to the Musée de Caën is a statue of Condorcet.
The Conciergerie is defined by its mediæval towers, and is a part of that vast architectural pile, the Palais de Justice, which almost covers the Ile de la Cité, to which the Pont Neuf leads, adorned with a bronze equestrian statue of Henri IV, placed there in 1818, by public subscription, and which was unveiled by Louis XVIII, with great pomp and ceremony. The Conciergerie and the Tour de l'Horloge are the survival of the mediæval palace built by Hugues Capet, 'to which the more modern structures have been, from time to time, added. The splendid clock, the oldest timepiece in France, was placed by Charles V, and this gave the name to the Tour de l'Horloge.
The Conciergerie is still entered through a gloomy, arched door, at the further end of a narrow courtyard, as it was when Marie Antoinette was taken through it to the dungeon (Aug. 5, 1792), where only a single basement window admitted a gleam of light. Here she passed the last thirty-five days of her life before she was conveyed in the tumbril to the Place de la Concorde, where she was executed by the guillotine. The cells are shown that were occupied by Danton, Mme. Elizabeth, Camille Des-moulins, Charlotte Corday, Robespierre, André Chénier and others of those ill-starred days ; and the narrow spiral staircase, leading to the chamber of the Revolutionary Tribunal, still remains.
It is a relief to turn from all this gloom and horror to the Holy Chapel (Sainte-Chapelle) which was built by Louis IX to be a permanent sanctuary for the sacred relics that had been brought together by Saint Louis, purchased from Jean de Berinne, King of Jerusalem. They included a Greek cross, silver busts of St. Denis and St. Louis, a gold cross belonging to Thomas à Becket, and various reliquaries and chalices. These have, however, since been removed to the sacristy of Notre Dame, where they can usually be seen on application to the sacristan. The Sainte-Chapelle was consecrated in 1248. The lower chapel, consisting only of nave and aisles, was dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and it contains the tombs of the canons of the church. The upper chapel, dedicated to the Holy Crown of Thorns, is reached by a spiral staircase. Its magnificent rose window, of fifteenth century work, represents the visions of the Apocalypse. There are fifteen windows, each fifty feet in height, of the most exquisite glass, which 'make a blaze of color. This interior is alone worth a visit to Paris. The scheme of decoration is one of the richest in the world. It is as if one beheld the marvellous vision of Saint John at Patmos. It is entering into a Temple of Glory.
" Add to the beauty of the chapel all the associations which crowd upon the memory," writes Sophia Beale in " The Churches of Paris," a most convenient handbook, — " add to the beauty the faith and noble life of Saint Louis ; his enthusiasm for God's work and man's welfare ; add to it all the ceremonies and the processions that have here been celebrated, with their lights and flowers and incense, and imagination forms a picture which no hand could paint." An art writer in a critique on Parisian architecture asserts of the Sainte-Chapelle that " the noble simplicity of its design, the majesty of its tall windows, and the beauty of all its details render it one of the most perfect examples of the Gothic style." Statues of the twelve apostles are placed against the pillars which divide the windows and support the roof. Between the arches are mosaic paintings, depicting subjects from the Bible and the martyrdom of the saints. Typical scenes from the lives of Saint Denis, Saint Lawrence, Saint Sebastian, Saint Stephen and many others are presented with convincing realism. There is but one service a year held in the Sainte-Chapelle, the " Mass of the Holy Ghost," on November third, at which the Archbishop of Paris officiates. From the chamber of the Tribune of Commerce in the Palais de Justice the judges and counsel' in robes of black silk, enter in stately procession; the judges and advocates from the Court of Appeal follow, in robes of scarlet cashmere, bordered with ermine ; these are supported by long processions from the Civil Tribunal and the Order of Advocates. The altar is ablaze with the light of a thousand candles ; the attendant prelates are in their richest vestments ; the arch-bishop, with his jewelled cross, and with his mitre and rich robes, is seated on the archiepiscopal throne. Then the legal bodies are seated. They offer a study of color; and the marvellous brilliancy of the deep-toned light falling through the pictured windows may well seem the light of the new Jerusalem. The entire interior is resplendent as if it were some palace of the sun, formed entirely of the intense vibrations of scarlet and violet and gold with rose and pearl and amber. It is like an interior made from jewels and gems all aglow. The spectacle of this annual " Mass of the Holy Ghost " in the Sainte-Chapelle is hardly approached elsewhere in the world for its magnificence of color and grouping.
The interior of Sainte-Chapelle produces the effect of harmonious splendor that belonged to it in the days of Saint Louis," says Philip Gilbert Hamerton : " of all the Gothic edifices I have ever visited, this one seems to me pre-eminently that of a visible poem. It is hardly of this world ; it hardly belongs to the realities of life. . . . Every inch of wall is illuminated like a missal. When the eye becomes somewhat accustomed to the universal splendor, we begin to perceive that these windows are full of pictorial compositions, each window containing more than one thousand pictures."
Of these innumerable pictures, each detail is worked out in stained glass in the most delicate and exquisite gradations of color. The lover of art can only stand in this wonderful chapel entranced in ecstasy.
Looking up the river Seine from the Palais de Justice, the vast Gothic pile of Notre Dame stands out, — the cathedral church of Paris, with its twin towers, dark and impressive, — the scenic setting of Victor Hugo's immortal romance. In the late afternoon sunset, it appears as a violet-tinted mass, superb and imposing against the sky. From the Pont Neuf the splendid art palace of the Musées du Louvre, the medieval Tour de Saint Jacques, the aerial spire of Sainte-Chapelle and the campanile of Saint Germain-l'Auxerrois merge into a landscape picture of surpassing loveliness, bathed in the liquid gold of the air all shimmering with opalescent tints that fade into the azure and gray of the wonderful French twilights.