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was over, I thought it much the most amusing part of the scene. Very
respectable persons, gentlemen certainly, and I believe in a few
instances ladies, came in this way, to catch a glimpse of the spectacle.
I saw several men that I knew, and the women with them could have been
no other than their friends. To these must be added, _cochers de
fiacres_ in their glazed hats, _bonnes_ in their high Norman caps,
peasants, soldiers in their shakos, _épiciers_ and _garçons_ without
number. The constant passage, for it lasted without intermission for an
hour and a half, of so many queer faces, reminded me strongly of one of
those mechanical panoramas, that bring towns, streets, and armies,
before the spectator. One of the droll effects of this scene was
produced by the faces, all of which turned, like sunflowers, towards the
light of royalty, as the bodies moved steadily on. Thus, on entering,
the eyes were a little inclined to the right; as they got nearer to the
meridian, they became gradually bent more aside; when opposite the
table, every face, was _full_; and, in retiring, all were bent backwards
over their owners' shoulders, constantly offering a dense crowd of
faces, looking towards a common centre, while the bodies were coming on,
or moving slowly off the stage. This, you will see, resembled in some
measure the revolutions of the moon around our orb, matter and a king
possessing the same beneficent attraction. I make no doubt, these good
people thought we presented a curious spectacle; but I am persuaded they
presented one that was infinitely more so.

I had seen in America, in divers places, an Englishman, a colonel in the
army. We had never been introduced, but had sat opposite to each other
at _tables d'hôtes_, jostled each other in the President's House, met in
steam-boats, in the streets, and in many other places, until it was
evident our faces were perfectly familiar to both parties; and yet we
never nodded, spoke, or gave any other sign of recognition, than by
certain knowing expressions of the eyes. In Europe, the colonel
reappeared. We met in London, in Paris, in the public walks, in the
sight-seeing places of resort, until we evidently began to think
ourselves a couple of Monsieur Tonsons. To-night, as I was standing near
the public platform, whose face should appear in the halo of
countenances but that of my colonel! The poor fellow had a wooden leg,
and he was obliged to stump on in his orbit as well as he could, while I
kept my eye on him, determined to catch a look of recognition if
possible. When he got so far forward as to bring me in his line of
sight, our eyes met, and he smiled involuntarily. Then he took a
deliberate survey of my comfortable position, and he disappeared in the
horizon, with some such expression on his features as must have belonged
to Commodore Trunnion, when he called out to Hatchway, while the hunter
was leaping over the lieutenant, "Oh! d - n you; you are well anchored!"

I do not think the dinner, in a culinary point of view, was anything
extraordinary. The king ate and drank but little, for, unlike his two
brothers and predecessors, he is said to be abstemious. The Daupin
played a better knife and fork; but on the whole, the execution was by
no means great for Frenchmen. The guests sat so far apart, and the music
made so much noise, that conversation was nearly out of the question;
though the King and the Dauphin exchanged a few words in the course of
the evening. Each of the gentlemen, also, spoke once or twice to his
female neighbour, and that was pretty much the amount of the discourse.
The whole party appeared greatly relieved by having something to do
during the desert, in admiring the service, which was of the beautiful
Sèvres china. They all took up the plates, and examined them
attentively; and really I was glad they had so rational an amusement to
relieve their _ennui_.

Once, early in the entertainment, M. de Talleyrand approached the king,
and showed him the bill of fare! It was an odd spectacle to see this old
_diplomate_ descending to the pantomime of royalty, and acting the part
of a _maître d'hôtel_. Had the duty fallen on Cambacères, one would
understand it, and fancy that it might be well done. The king smiled on
him graciously, and, I presume, gave him leave to retire; for soon after
this act of loyal servitude, the prince disappeared. As for M. Louis, he
treated Charles better than his brother treated Sancho; for I did not
observe the slightest interference, on his part, during the whole
entertainment; though one of those near me said he had tasted a dish or
two by way of ceremony, - an act of precaution that I did not myself
observe. I asked my neighbour, the _abbé_, what he thought of M. de
Talleyrand. After looking up in my face distrustfully, he
whispered: - "Mais, monsieur, c'est un chat qui tombe toujours sur ses
pieds;" a remark that was literally true tonight, for, the old man was
kept on his feet longer than could have been agreeable to the owner of
two such gouty legs.

The Duchesse de Berri, who sat quite near the place where I stood, was
busy a good deal of the time _à lorgner_ the public through her
eye-glass. This she did with very little diffidence of manner, and quite
as coolly as an English duchess would have stared at a late intimate
whom she was disposed to cut. It certainly was neither a graceful, nor a
feminine, nor a princely occupation. The Dauphine played the Bourbon
better; though, when she turned her saddened, not to say _cruel_ eyes,
on the public, it was with an expression that almost amounted to
reproach. I did not see her smile once during the whole time she was at
table; and yet _I_ thought there were many things to smile at.

At length the finger-bowls appeared, and I was not sorry to see them.
Contrary to what is commonly practised in very great houses, the pages
placed them on the table, just as Henri puts them before us democrats
every day. I ought to have said, that the service was made altogether in
front, or at the unoccupied side of the table, nothing but the bill of
fare, in the hands of M. de Talleyrand, appearing in the rear. As soon as
this part of the dinner was over, the king arose, and the whole party
withdrew by the door on the further side of the galery. In passing the
_gradins_ of the ladies, he stopped to says a few kind words to an old
woman who was seated there, muffled in a cloak, and the light of royalty
vanished.

The catastrophe is to come. The instant the king's back was turned, the
gallery became a scene of confusion. The musicians ceased playing, and
began to chatter; the pages dashed about to remove the service, and
everybody was in motion. Observing that your - - was standing undecided
what to do, I walked into the railed area, brushed past the gorgeous
state table, and gave her my arm. She laughed, and said it had all been
very magnificent and amusing, but that some one had stolen her shawl! A
few years before, I had purchased for her a merino shawl, of singular
fineness, simplicity, and beauty. It was now old, and she had worn it on
this occasion, because she distrusted the dirt of a palace; and laying
it carelessly by her side, in the course of the evening she had found in
its place a very common thing of the same colour. The thief was deceived
by its appearance your - - being dressed for an evening party, and had
probably mistaken it for a cashmere. So much for the company one meets
at court! Too much importance, however, must not be attached to this
little _contretems_, as people of condition are apt to procure tickets
for such places, and to give them to their _femmes de chambre_.
Probably, half the women present, the "jeunes et jolies" excepted, were
of this class. But mentioning this affair to the old Princesse de - - ,
she edified me by an account of the manner in which Madame la Comtesse
de - - had actually appropriated to the service of her own pretty person
the _cachemire_ of Madame la Baronne de - - , in the royal presence; and
how there was a famous quarrel, _à l'outrance_, about it; so I suspend
my opinions as to the quality of the thief.




LETTER X.

Road to Versailles. - Origin of Versailles. - The present Chateau. - The
two Trianons. - La Petite Suisse. - Royal Pastime. - Gardens of Versailles.
- The State Apartments. - Marie Antoinette's Chamber. - Death of Louis XV.
- Oeil de Boeuf. - The Theatre and Chapel. - A
Quarry. - Caverns. - Compiègne. - Chateau de Pierre-font. - Influence of
Monarchy. - Orangery at Versailles.


To R. COOPER, ESQ., COOPERSTOWN, NEW YORK.

We have been to Versailles, and although I have no intention to give a
laboured description of a place about which men have written and talked
these two centuries, it is impossible to pass over a spot of so much
celebrity in total silence.

The road to Versailles lies between the park of St. Cloud and the
village and manufactories of Sèvres. A little above the latter is a
small palace, called Meudon, which, from its great elevation, commands a
fine view of Paris. The palace of St. Cloud, of course, stands in the
park; Versailles lies six or eight miles farther west; Compiègne is
about fifty miles from Paris in one direction; Fontainebleau some thirty
in another, and Rambouillet rather more remotely, in a third. All these
palaces, except Versailles, are kept up, and from time to time are
visited by the court. Versailles was stripped of its furniture in the
revolution; and even Napoleon, at a time when the French empire extended
from Hamburgh to Rome, shrunk from the enormous charge of putting it in
a habitable state. It is computed that the establishment at Versailles,
first and last, in matters of construction merely, cost the French
monarchy two hundred millions of dollars! This is almost an incredible
sum, when we remember the low price of wages in France; but, on the
other hand, when we consider the vastness of the place, how many natural
difficulties were overcome, and the multitude of works from the hands of
artists of the first order it contained, it scarcely seems sufficient.

Versailles originated as a hunting-seat, in the time of Louis XIII. In
that age, most of the upland near Paris, in this direction, lay in
forest, royal chases; and, as hunting was truly a princely sport,
numberless temporary residences of this nature existed in the
neighbourhood of the capital. There are still many remains of this
barbarous magnificence, as in the wood of Vincennes, the forest of St.
Germain, Compiègne, Fontainebleau, and divers others; but great inroads
have been made in their limits by the progress of civilization and the
wants of society. So lately as the reign of Louis XV. they hunted quite
near the town; and we are actually, at this moment, dwelling in a
country house, at St. Ouen, in which, tradition hatch it, he was wont to
take his refreshments.

The original building at Versailles was a small chateau, of a very ugly
formation, and it was built of bricks. I believe it was enlarged, but
not entirely constructed, by Louis XIII. A portion of this building is
still visible, having been embraced in the subsequent structures; and,
judging from its architecture, I should think it must be nearly as
ancient as the time of Francis I. Around this modest nucleus was
constructed, by a succession of monarchs, but chiefly by Louis XIV. the
most regal residence of Europe, in magnificence and extent, if not in
taste.

The present chateau, besides containing numberless wings and courts, has
vast _casernes_ for the quarters of the household troops, stables for
many hundred horses, and is surrounded by a great many separate hotels,
for the accommodation of the courtiers. It offers a front on the garden,
in a single continuous line, that is broken only by a projection in the
centre of more than a third of a mile in length. This is the only
complete part of the edifice that possesses uniformity; the rest of it
being huge piles grouped around irregular courts, or thrown forward in
wings, that correspond to the huge body like those of the ostrich. There
is on the front next the town, however, some attempt at simplicity and
intelligibility of plan; for there is a vast open court lined by
buildings, which have been commenced in the Grecian style. Napoleon, I
believe, did something here, from which there is reason to suppose that
he sometimes thought of inhabiting the palace. Indeed, so long as France
has a king, it is impossible that such a truly royal abode can ever be
wholly deserted. At present, it is the fashion to grant lodgings in it
to dependants and favourites. Nothing that I have seen gives me so just
and so imposing an idea of the old French monarchy as a visit to
Versailles. Apart from the vastness and splendour of the palace, here is
a town that actually contained, in former times, a hundred thousand
souls, that entirely owed its existence to the presence of the court.
Other monarchs lived in large towns; but here was a monarch whose
presence created one. Figure to yourself the style of the prince, when a
place more populous than Baltimore, and infinitely richer in externals,
existed merely as an appendage to his abode!

The celebrated garden contains two or three hundred acres of land,
besides the ground that is included in the gardens of the two Trianons.
These Trianons are small palaces erected in the gardens, as if the
occupants of the chateau, having reached the acmé of magnificence and
splendour in the principal residence, were seeking refuge against the
effect of satiety in these humbler abodes. They appear small and
insignificant after the palace; but the Great Trianon is a considerable
house, and contains a fine suite of apartments, among which are some
very good rooms. There are few English abodes of royalty that equal even
this of Le Grand Trianon. The Petit Trianon was the residence of Madame
de Maintenon; it afterwards was presented to the unfortunate Marie
Antoinette, who, in part converted its grounds into an English garden,
in addition to setting aside a portion into what is called La Petite
Suisse.

We went through this exceedingly pretty house and its gardens with
melancholy interest. The first is merely a pavilion in the Italian
taste, though it is about half as large as the President's House, at
Washington. I should think the Great Trianon has quite twice the room of
our own Executive residence; and, as you can well imagine, from what has
already been said, the Capitol itself would be but a speck among the
endless edifices of the chateau. The projection in the centre of the
latter is considerably larger than the capitol, and it materially
exceeds that building in cubic contents. Now this projection is but a
small part indeed of the long line of façade, it actually appearing too
short for the ranges of wings.

Marie Antoinette was much censured for the amusements in which she
indulged in the grounds of the Little Trianon, and vulgar rumour
exaggerating their nature, no small portion of her personal unpopularity
is attributable to this cause. The family of Louis XVI. appears to have
suffered for the misdeeds of its predecessors, for it not being very
easy to fancy anything much worse than the immoralities of Louis XV. the
public were greatly disposed "to visit the sins of the fathers on the
children."

La Petite Suisse is merely a romantic portion of the garden, in which
has been built what is called the Swiss Hamlet It contains the miniature
abodes of the Curé, the Farmer, the Dairywoman, the Garde-de-Chasse, and
the Seigneur, besides the mill. There is not much that is Swiss,
however, about the place, with the exception of some resemblance in the
exterior of the buildings. Here, it is said, the royal family used
occasionally to meet, and pass an afternoon in a silly representation of
rural life, that must have proved to be a prodigious caricature. The
King (at least, so the guide affirmed), performed the part of the
Seigneur, and occupied the proper abode; the Queen was the Dairy woman,
and we were shown the marble tables that held her porcelain milk-pans;
the present King, as became his notorious propensity to field-sports,
was the Garde-de-Chasse, the late King was the Miller, and, _mirabile
dictu_, the Archbishop of Paris did not disdain to play the part of the
Curé. There was, probably, a good deal of poetry in this account; though
it is pretty certain that the Queen did indulge in some of these
phantasies. There happened to be with me, the day I visited this spot,
an American from our own mountains, who had come fresh from home, with
all his provincial opinions and habits strong about him. As the guide
explained these matters, I translated them literally into English for
the benefit of my companion, adding, that the fact rendered the Queen
extremely unpopular with her subjects. "Unpopular!" exclaimed my country
neighbour; "why so, sir?" "I cannot say; perhaps they thought it was not
a fit amusement for a queen." My mountaineer stood a minute cogitating
the affair in his American mind; and then nodding his head, he said: - "I
understand it now. The people thought that a king and queen, coming from
yonder palace to amuse themselves in this toy hamlet, in the characters
of poor people, _were making game of them_!" I do not know whether this
inference will amuse you as much as it did me at the time.

Of the gardens and the _jets d'eau_, so renowned, I shall say little.
The former are in the old French style, formal and stiff, with long
straight _allées_, but magnificent by their proportions and ornaments.
The statuary and vases that are exposed to the open air, in this garden,
must have cost an enormous sum. They are chiefly copies from the
_antique_.

As you stand on the great terrace, before the centre of the palace, the
view is down the principal avenue, which terminates at the distance of
two or three miles with a low naked hill, beyond which appears the void
of the firmament. This conceit singularly helps the idea of vastness,
though in effect it is certainly inferior to the pastoral prettiness and
rural thoughts of modern landscape gardening. Probably too much is
attempted here; for if the mind cannot conceive of illimitable space,
still less can it be represented by means of material substances.

We examined the interior of the palace with melancholy pleasure. The
vast and gorgeous apartments were entirely without furniture, though
many of the pictures still remain. The painted ceilings, and the
gildings too, contribute to render the rooms less desolate than they
would otherwise have been. I shall not stop to describe the saloons of
Peace and War, and all the other celebrated apartments, that are so
named from the subjects of their paintings, but merely add that the
state apartments lie _en suite_, in the main body of the building, and
that the principal room, or the great gallery, as it is termed, is in
the centre, with the windows looking up the main avenue of the garden.
This gallery greatly surpasses in richness and size any other room,
intended for the ordinary purposes of a palace, that I have ever seen.
Its length exceeds two hundred and thirty feet, its width is about
thirty-five, and its height is rather more than forty. The walls are a
complete succession of marbles, mirrors, and gildings. I believe, the
windows and doors excepted, that literally no part of the sides or ends
of this room show any other material. Even some of the doors are loaded
with these decorations. The ceiling is vaulted, and gorgeous with
allegories and gildings; they are painted by the best artists of France.
Here Louis XIV. moved among his courtiers, more like a god than a man,
and here was exhibited that mixture of grace and moral fraud, of
elegance and meanness, of hope and disappointment, of pleasure and
mortification, that form the characters and compose the existence of
courtiers.

I do not know the precise number of magnificent ante-chambers and saloons
through which we passed to reach this gallery, but there could not have
been less than eight; one of which, as a specimen of the scale on which
the palace is built, is near eighty feet long, and sixty wide. Continuing
our course along the suite, we passed, among others, a council-room that
looked more like state than business, and then came to the apartments of
the Queen. There were several drawing-rooms, and ball-rooms, and
card-rooms, and ante-rooms, and the change from the gorgeousness of the
state apartments, to the neat, tasteful, chaste, feminine, white and gold
of this part of the palace was agreeable, for I had got to be tired of
splendour, and was beginning to feel a disposition to "make game of the
people," by descending to rusticity.

The bed-room of Marie Antoinette is in the suite. It is a large chamber,
in the same style of ornament as the rest of her rooms, and the
dressing-rooms, bath, and other similar conveniences, were in that
exquisite French taste, which can only be equalled by imitation. The
chamber of the King looked upon the court, and was connected with that
of the Queen, by a winding and intricate communication of some length.
The door that entered the apartments of the latter opened into a
dressing-room, and both this door and that which communicated with the
bed-room form a part of the regular wall, being tapestried as such, so
as not to be immediately seen, - a style of finish that is quite usual in
French houses. It was owing to this circumstance that Marie Antoinette
made her escape, undetected, to the King's chamber, the night the palace
was entered by the fish-women.

We saw the rooms in which Louis XIV. and Louis XV. died. The latter, you
may remember, fell a victim to the small-pox, and the disgusting body,
that had so lately been almost worshipped, was deserted, the moment he
was dead. It was left for hours, without even the usual decent
observances. It was on the same occasion, we have been told, that his
grandchildren, including the heir, were assembled in a private
drawing-room, waiting the result, when they were startled by a hurried
trampling of feet. It was the courtiers, rushing in a crowd, to pay
their homage to the new monarch! All these things forced themselves
painfully on our minds, as we walked through the state rooms. Indeed
there are few things that can be more usefully studied, or which awaken
a greater source of profitable recollections, than a palace that has
been occupied by a great and historical court. Still they are not
poetical.

The balcony, in which La Fayette appeared with the Queen and her
children, opens from one of these rooms. It overlooks the inner court;
or that in which the carriages of none but the privileged entered, for
all these things were regulated by arbitrary rules. No one, for
instance, was permitted to ride in the King's coach, unless his nobility
dated from a certain century (the fourteenth, I believe), and these were
your _gentilshommes_; for the word implies more than a noble, meaning an
ancient nobleman.

The writing cabinet, private dining-room, council-room in ordinary,
library, etc. of the King, came next; the circuit ending in the Salles
des Gardes, and the apartments usually occupied by the officers and
troops on service.

There was one room we got into, I scarce know how. It was a long, high
gallery, plainly finished for a palace, and it seemed to be lighted from
an interior court, or well; for one was completely caged when in it.
This was the celebrated Bull's Eye (_oeil de boeuf_), where the
courtiers danced attendance before they were received. It got its name
from an oval window over the principal door.

We looked at no more than the state apartments, and those of the King
and Queen, and yet we must have gone through some thirty or forty rooms,
of which, the baths and dressing-room of the Queen excepted, the very
smallest would be deemed a very large room in America. Perhaps no
private house contains any as large as the smallest of these rooms, with
the exception of here and there a hall in a country house; and, no room
at all, with ceilings nearly as high, and as noble, to say nothing of
the permanent decorations, of which we have no knowledge whatever, if we
omit the window-glass, and the mantels, in both of which, size apart, we
often beat even the French palaces.

We next proceeded to the Salle de Spectacle, which is a huge theatre. It
may not be as large as the French Opera-house at Paris, but its
dimensions did not appear to me to be much less. It is true, the stage
was open, and came into the view; but it is a very large house for
dramatic representations. Now, neither this building nor the chapel,



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