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Rue du Mont-Thabor, 16th. MY DEAR MARGERY, Don't afflict yourself so much as to attempt to decipher what I am about to write, but hand the letter over at once to Miss Lucy, and bid her preach it for the general good. Take notice, however, that you run a good chance of being bothered with tirades about the Louvre, and the Pantheon, and the Opera, and the weather, concerning all and singular of which, and things of a similar nature, you are, I am well aware, profoundly indifferent. Nevertheless I have not forgotten to cater for you in other respects; and if I succeed in adding to your recipe book the processes of making potage à la julienne, omelette soufflée, artichauts à la barigoule, and tourtes à la franchipane, then I shall think I have well deserved of you, and of whoever may be your guests hereafter; and upon the strength of that confidence, I shall take the liberty of prosing about any thing I like, in any manner I like. I should premise that I am in excellent health, except that the rough pavement and the hot sun cause my feet to swell so, that I have found it necessary to get into a pair of large soft French shoes; that the usually laxative waters of the Seine (forgive the domestic communication) have not had the common effects of a dose of Epsom salts ; that I am still a Protestant, still have a huge affection for old England, and hate wooden shoes as I do the devil. So, you see, notwithstanding a monstrous straw hat which I wear to shroud my eyes from the intense glare, I am substantially the same I was a fortnight ago: if a few prejudices had not vanished, and a few mistakes not been rectified, I might as well have been drawing a settlement in Lincoln's Inn New Square.
I have a thousand fine things to talk about, but none of them finer or more novel than the Fête of the Assumption of the Virgin on Thursday, and the Procession of the Vow of Louis XIÌI. I was in Notre Dame from half past ten until half past five, and during nearly the whole time I was rivetted as it were by magic. I was seated immediately over the altar, in a gallery which runs round the whole cathedral, something as it is at Exeter, and of course I commanded the whole vista to the western door, there being no screen or organ to obstruct the sight. The parts of the gallery intervening between the columns of the arches were filled throughout with pany, and the whole nave was animated with a countless multitude of men, women, and children, ceaselessly moving in a thousand directions, and arrayed in thousands of fantastic but harmonious colours. Within the choir, all the ceremonies
of the Romish religion were enacted in full splendor;-enormous gilded crucifixes were erected over the altar,-incense was dashed upwards from silver censers in all corners,—the Bible was kissed,--and the image of the Virgin adored with ten hundred bows, and with ten thousand crosses.
It was a peculiar service in honour of the Virgin Mary, and continued more than three hours; about two and a half of which were employed in performing some enchanting services by Mozart and Haydn. A regular operatic band of violins, harps, and horns, was placed in the centre of the choir, where the performers sat round upon chairs, as at a common concert, with their books before them. The choristers sang in the middle of the ring. The power of such music in such a place was indescribable; I felt myself perfectly overcome by the matchless scene below me; and upon an almost heavenly burst of the chorus in these words, “ Exaltata es in coelis, O Maria! Ave Maria, Regina coeli!” albeit unused to the melting mood, I fairly burst forth into a flood of tears. I mention this, as the shortest and most effectual way I have of conveying to you a notion of the impressions which the music, and the accompanying pomps and vanities, could make upon a contemptuous and phlegmatic Protestant. Conceive the case of a tender and devout girl, susceptible from nature, credulous from ignorance, and unsuspecting from unquestioned habits of practice and belief;—is it wonderful that such a creature should worship the immaculate mother of Him who is God; or neglect to inquire upon what authority it is that such adoration is enjoined in her honour? That such worship is in its nature idolatrous and unchristian I do not doubt ;--that many of the sweet little girls, who come into the churches at all hours, and go and kneel before a shrine, and read or hear what, in the latter case at least, they do not understand, are themselves idolaters, I cannot admit. Idolatry may be easily known ;— who are the idolaters, is and can only be known by a Power to whom the secrets of all hearts are open. Don't imagine that, from my mode of viewing this subject, I shrink from the boldest tenets of a Protestant upon thə nature of the Romish church; on the contrary, although I have lit up candles both to St. Roch and our Lady, and cross myself with holy water whenever I enter or leave a church, yet all my expectations of the mummeries, and the absurdities, and the profane pageantries of this mighty superstition are confirmed beyond measure. Nay, why should Lord Byron or Mr. Shelley have regretted the fanciful and elegant religion of the Greeks, when they may still bend before the altars of a religion more beautiful, more fanciful, and in many respects equally false? Why should they look for a statue of Venus to worship, when they may kiss the feet of that of the Virgin in Notre Dame? I have gazed upon that statue
till my eyes swam, and I have nearly exclaimed with Charles Lamb,
“ I would I were a Catholic, Madonna fair,
To worship thee!” But I forget myself. Before the end of the service, successive bands of soldiers, with drums playing, marched into the nave, and after lining all the side aisles, formed a broad avenue from the barrier of the choir down to the western door, and thence, as I was informed, the whole way to the Tuilleries. When the drums ceased, the officers gave the words of command with the same indifference as if they had been on parade. We now waited till two o'clock, but the scene was so curious, that I was not in the least tired with the delay. At two the bells began tolling again, and shortly afterwards the procession entered the western door, and moved upon a green foot-cloth
up the avenue of soldiers. It was headed by two hundred girls in white robes and veils, carrying in the centre of their troop a white banner, decorated with long pendants of white muslin, which were held by other of the girls at some distance on either side. When the leaders of the band had reached the choir, all the girls faced about, and placed themselves on one side by twos and threes alternately between the soldiers; then as many boys, carrying in the same manner a crimson banner, did the like on the other side. The magistrates of Paris followed; then all the judges, of whom there seemed thirty at least; the royal attendants; the ministers; and at length Monsieur and the Duke of Orleans ; then, with a space between, Madame by herself, with her train, eight or nine feet in length, held by two mareschals of France; the ladies of honour followed, and then the military closed the line. Service was performed by the Archbishop of Paris and some other bishops; after which the Royal Family retired by a side door, and the rest walked down the avenue again. I asked a discharged soldier of the Imperial Guard, who was next to me, if the King would come :
“ Pourquoi ?” Upon which, with a most curious grimace and sneer, he said, Hé, hé! il ne peut pas
marcher!” There was an old woman who sells baubles for the shrines at the door of the church of Ste. Etienne du Mont, which is connected with the great Ste. Genevieve, or Pantheon, who seemed so questionable, that I ventured upon an interesting topic. Am.“ Vous avez une trés grande veneration ici pour Ste. Geneviéve!” “Oui; elle est notre patronne, la patronne de Paris.” Am. “ Elle a deux églises, et Paris tout entier de plus ; qu'elle est bienheureuse !” « Oui; elle le merite ; elle est toujours bienfaisante. Quand j'ai mal à la tête, ou aux dents, ou quoique que ce soit, je prie à la Sainte, et j'en suis guerie.
" Oh que
Qu'en pensez vous ?” Am. “Je pense que c'est Dieu à qui appartiennent vos priéres.” “Oui, certainement ; c'est à lui, c'est à lui; mais je rends graces pour l'intercession de Ste. Genevieve.” Am.“ Et pour l'intercession de Notre Dame?” “Oh, oui !” Am. “ Et de St. Pierre?” « Oui !” Am. “ Et de tous les autres saintes?”. “ Oh, oui, oui, certainement ! And if I bad added, for the intercession of the verger, or the churchclock, she would have answered, “ Oui, oui." Why, it was only this very day that I was walking in the aisles of St. Maury, and I saw a girl on a chair, with a young man by her side, reading some novel or play to her, which I could not make out; when the priest appeared at the end of the aisle, she pulled out her mass-book, and the swain hid his play-book ; and thereupon she went incontinently, and confessed her sins to that very priest, with a titter on her face and a wink in her eye.
Did she mention the novel ? No.
But nothing can be more convenient for strangers than the Roman Catholic system of worship. The churches are open from morning till night, and there is no fear of disturbing the devout by walking or talking at their very elbows. When an old woman has read a prayer, she takes out her snuff-box, and offers it to her neighbour, and then proceeds till her time is up; you may even see a lady take out her watch, and then moan forth a few sentences more to complete the appointed penance. Every church is worth seeing; some of them are beyond measure beautiful. In St. Roch you look through three arcades of chapels, the last of which is a huge accumulation of real rock to represent Calvary, and the soldiers are reposing themselves, and contemplating the Saviour hanging on the cross. A dim light is let in from above upon this group, and the effect is matchless. There is to be a fête in St. Roch's honour in his church to-morrow night, which I shall attend. The music, when any, is excellent, and there is a large organ, too seldom used, in every church.
We went on the evening of the Assumption to Tivoli, and were much delighted. It is not so large a place as Vauxhall, nor so splendidly illuminated; but it is more prettily laid out, and there is such an unceasing round of amusements as is enough to astonish the heart of a plain Englishman. The fire-works surpassed in profusion and richness any thing I had ever seen; the simple sky-rocket, however, was not equal to our English ones. We ventured our necks down the Montagnes, which are most extraordinary things indeed: I have not room to describe them. Talma’s Sylla this evening makes me waver about Kean. I begin to believe the Frenchman is the greater actor. The weather is inexpressibly delicious. In the morning there is the same maturity of blue over head as there was the evening
beföre; and though it is very hot, the air is so exquisitely pure, that you feel exhilarated rather than depressed. There are excellent baths in the river, for a franc. The transcendent gallery of the Louvre is a peerless lounge. Love to all and singular.
SUPPOSE a high spirited but good-natured young man receives an insult. It is possible that his first or at least his second impulse may be to pass it over, and content himself with despising the brute who offered it. The brute, however, mistaking love of peace for fear of war, and glad of an opportunity of oppressing safely, repeats the aggression: the bye-standers, who, to a young man, are the representatives of all mankind past, present, and to come, begin to show by their looks that they had not expected so much philosophy. Our hero gives or sends a challenge; “ a meeting takes place,” the brute is shot dead, and nobody regrets him, not even his creditors, for they had lost all hopes.
But, in the meantime, what is the situation of the young man and the seconds. Divinity and law have long ago settled the question—they are murderers. A warrant is issued for their apprehension; they possess, however, good friends who have spare attics, and the warrant cannot reach them. But their mothers, sisters, mistresses, and maiden aunts, who read in the papers that the coroner's inquest has returned a verdict of “ wilful murder against John Smith, Charles Jones, and William Brown," are in despair. The horrible visions of black caps, chains, and gibbets, flit before their eyes; and, in short, whole families are thrown into unaffected and very severe affliction. In the midst of all this suffering the assizes approach, and the accused surrender themselves for trial. The “ unfortunate gentlemen” (to use the phraseology of the newspapers). appear at the bar, “ dressed in genteel mourning and deeply affected with their awful situation." The counsel for the crown details the case, lays down the law, "under the authority of his lordship," and then concludes by telling the jury, that " if the facts are as he has stated them, he cannot see how they will avoid pronouncing the verdict of guilty : but he fervently hopes that something may arise to relieve them from so painful a duty.” In the examination of the evidence every body is aware, that the judge, the counsel on both sides, and the witnesses, are straining all their ingenuity to prevent a verdict against the prisoners; and every body sympathizes with their