CHAPTER VIII

THE LEFT BANK

ALL true lovers of Paris appreciate the quiet old-world charm which is attached to the quais on the left bank of the Seine, the parapets of which are, in certain parts, lined with boxes of old books, the stock-in-trade of a number of unobtrusive individuals who seem more or less indifferent in discovering the proprietor of any particular box, there are a good many of these book vendors, it having been calculated that more than three hundred men and women make a living in such a way.

Before the Great War their business was a fairly prosperous one, but within recent years many of the older booksellers have had a hard struggle to make both ends meet, a number of younger men having invaded the quais, while old books yielding a good return have become much harder to find, paper having risen to such a high price during the duration of the great struggle that hundreds of thousands of volumes were sold, many literary treasures probably having then been utilized to make pulp.

In fine weather the booksellers on the quais live pleasantly enough, but their gains are never large. In spite of this, most of them treat their clients with an unfailing courtesy which might well serve as an example to the ordinary Paris tradesman who, imbued with the spirit of this commercialized age, is too often apt to be more rapacious than polite.

Most of the booksellers on the quais find it hard enough to live, but the majority happily are philosophers, who in spite of old age and failing health, show endurance and courage of a most praiseworthy kind. Many literary men have been interested in this poor, inoffensive class of open air trader which in an unobtrusive way renders a real service to the cause of learning by placing valuable volumes at the disposal of students with a small purse. In the closing years of the last century, M. Xavier Marmier (a member of the Institut de France), having become interested in the riverside booksellers gave them a dinner at Véfour's in the Palais Royal. Of the hundred of the latter who were present one only, Monsieur Francisque, was surviving in 1926. Aged seventy-seven, he had then been selling books for fifty-one years. Another character of the quais is, or was, Monsieur Charles, who wrote a charming book called Le Long de Quais, and has been decorated by the French Government as an authority on Numismatics and a member of the Literary Society of France. He, as well as his two brothers, one of whom is married to an Englishwoman, are crippled in body though exceptionally active in mind. Another old bookseller, Monsieur Marcel St. Amant, is known for being possessed of an exceptionally brilliant intelligence. He reads Plato in the original, and has translated some of the work of the great Spanish novelist, Blanco Ibanez. All day long this poorly-dressed, short-sighted old man sits on a camp stool pouring over books in which he is so absorbed that it is said he would forget to take any nourishment at all did not a grey-haired woman bookseller, who plies her trade not far away, frequently make a basin of soup for him.

Not only books, but prints, medals and pictures are to be seen exposed for sale in the boxes which line the parapets of the quais on which, in former days, a member of itinerant performers used to eke out a livelihood by performing all sorts of tricks. A well-known figure at one time was a juggler who did simple and clever tricks, one of the most striking of which was catching balls in a small cup fixed to his forehead, which was sometimes replaced by a sharp spike attached in similar fashion, upon which he would catch and slit in two walnuts thrown up into the air. Another character was the old conjurer who had his place at the top of the sloping roadway leading down to the river side, halfway between the Pont des Arts and the Pont du Carrousel. He was a man of simple attainments, whose stock-in-trade consisted of a number of little paper packets, folded one within the other, the outer papers being composed of wallpaper of varied hues. In the inmost paper of all he would place playing cards and sundry coppers. The papers were then carefully refolded, to the accompaniment of a constant flow of patter. After shaking the packet to let his audience hear that the money was still inside, he reopened the papers one by one, when, to everyone's intense astonishment, they proved to be absolutely empty! The explanation was, of course, simple. The packets were made double, with two sets of papers fixed back to back. For the small sum of fifty centimes it was open to anybody to purchase one of his contrivances, with full instructions, and as a rule he used to do pretty well.


Booksellers' Boxes

The acrobats and jugglers have now pretty well disappeared, there being today little to disturb the quiet charm of the quais where here and there loungers lean over the parapets sympathetically watching anglers below — patient creatures who are apparently indifferent as to whether they catch anything or not.

A feature of certain spots on the quais is the is the magnificent view which is to be obtained of Notre Dame, that magnificent fane from which modern Paris, like ancient Lutetia, has spread in all directions. In connection with this it may be noted that sometime ago it was announced that there would be placed on the Place du Parvis Notre Dame as a paving stone a bronze slab with six panels, in future to be regarded as the official starting point of the main roads of France. Just as Charing Cross is taken as the starting pint for the reckoning of distances from London, the bronze slab will be the point from which distances from Paris are measured. From time immemorial the parvis has been regarded as the point of reckoning. A fountain formerly stood there, and near by was a statue "Le Jeuneur de Notre Dame." This statue was in a line with the axis of the cathedral, at a distance of about 100 feet, and in 1749 it was officially fixed as the starting point for the roads of France. Since then the point has been modified slightly from time to time. Now, on the proposal of M. Georges Lemarchand, a City Councillor, the point has been fixed in the middle of the street refuge in front of the parvis. M. Lemarchand at the same time called for the great national roads of France to be furnished with new milestones, or their equivalent, giving distances as reckoned from the bronze pavement tablet.

Many historical memories are attached to the quais: some of these, however, are not based upon the truth.

On the Quai des Orfèvres, constructed between 1580 and 1643 and at one time full of goldsmiths, for instance, Boehmer and Bosange, jewelers to Marie Antoinette and the vendors of the diamond necklace, are supposed to have had their shop. This, however, was not the case, their place of business having been in what is now the Rue Béranger — up till 1864 called the Rue Vendôme.

A house on the quais was also erroneously said to have been inhabited by Napoleon I, when a young officer, a plaque to that effect having been set up during the Second Empire which has since been removed. He appears, however, to have lived in a garret at No. 13 Quai Conti, just after he had left Briènne.

At No. 27 Quai Voltaire is the H
ôtel de Bragelongue, an old house in which Voltaire lived for some time previous to his death, and where he died on May 30th 1778. Out of respect, M. de Villette, kept his apartment closed for some time afterwards, and Mme. de Montmorency, the next proprietor of the house, did the same till her death; so that it remained closed for forty-seven years. The story of certain MSS. having been found, and burnt by order of the Government, is altogether a fable, though it may be true that Voltaire's cane was sold for 3,000 francs. There is a pretty boudoir in the Louis XVI style on the third story. The house was the residence of the Marquis de Villette to which Voltaire came from Ferney after twenty years' absence, on February 6th 1778. On the following morning he received a deputation of three members of the Academy; these were succeeded by the actors of the Théâtre français, all in deep mourning, on account of the recent death of Kekain, whose funeral had taken place the previous day. Voltaire, who had been purposely kept in ignorance of the event, looked anxiously round in search of his old pupil, upon which Bellecourt, pointing gravely to his colleagues, murmured in a voice broken by emotion, "This is all that remains of the Comédie Francaise!" The old man stood for a moment speechless; then, overcome by the sudden shock, fainted away.

Crowds assembled daily round the house, in the hope of catching a glimpse of its distinguished visitor and a constant stream of callers, including every celebrity in literature and art, vied with each other in presenting their homage to the patriarch of letters. All were received by M. de Villette and Count d'Argental, by whom their respective names and qualities were announced to Voltaire, who, attired in his habitual dressing gown and night cap, said a few words to each newcomer. He was, on one occasion, speaking in terms of high commendation of a literary colleague, when a bystander remarked that such sentiments were the more credible to him, as the person in question had attacked him violently in a recent work. "Ah, well," coolly answered Voltaire, who had hitherto been unaware of the fact, "it is quite possible that neither he nor I meant precisely what we said."

Madame du Deffand visited him here, being received by his niece, Madame Denis, "a great slattern, but the best creature in the world," by the Marquis de Villette, "an insignificant stage caricature," and his young wife, called "handsome and good" by Voltaire and the rest. In the interval between his arrival here and his death — a period of seven weeks Iréne was produced, and the fatigue of rehearsals, and the excitement consequent on his reception by the Academicians and the comedians, combined, it is said, with the excessive use of black coffee as a stimulant — (according to some accounts) of laudanum also — accelerated his end. He was eighty-four years of age.

The neighborhood of the Quais has many interesting memories. In a hostelry of the Rue de la Huchette, the Abbé Pr
évost wrote his famous novel Manon Lescaut. The hostelry in question was renowned for the succulence of the viands to be obtained there, a reputation which was not maintained by the wretched restaurant de la Huchette which the poet Verlaine used to frequent. Here a portion of meat cost four sous and a portion of vegetables two, while clients had to bring their own bread. Nevertheless literary people were occasionally seen in this place about 1892, rubbing shoulders with all sorts of riff-raff amidst most squalid surroundings.

A first-class restaurant on the Quai des Grands Augustins is Lapérouse which occupies a house formerly the Hotel Bruillevert.

Several curious old streets run down to the quais: a curiously named one is the Rue du Chat qui pêche, so called on account of a sign which once hung there. La Rue de Nesle, recalls the memory of the famous tower, remains of which were discovered in 1851, near the Pont des Arts. At Petit Nesle close by once lodged Benvenuto Cellini.


Quai St. Michel

The bridges of Paris were originally very picturesque though apparently not too safe.

M. Jourdain tells us, in "Paris a travers les Ages," that the Petit Pont fell in 1206, 1280, 1296, 1325, 1376 and 1393; but the most remarkable of all its misfortunes occurred much later in 1718. At that date it consisted of a good stone bridge of three arches covered with tall stone houses, but it seems as if the contemporary engineers had not much confidence in their strength, for beneath the arches, and also at the ends of the piers, there were strong wooden scaffoldings, like those supporting the pump which appears in one of Meryon's etchings. Now it so happened that in April of that year (1718) a woman had lost her son by drowning, her grief having been greatly increased because she could not find his body. Some worthy folks, her neighbors, however, told her of a sure method by which drowned bodies might be found, and she believed and obeyed them. Taking a sébile, which was a thick, round wooden tray or dish, she
stuck a taper upright in it, which she lighted, and with the taper she put a piece of blessed bread, all this in honor of St. Nicholas. She then launched the whole affair in the Seine and watched what would happen. Floating straight to a barge laded with hay, the taper set fire to the hay, upon which the men on the barge near by severed the rope that fastened it in order to save their own boats; in consequence of which, instead of the little votive taper in its wooden dish a great blazing haystack floated quickly down to the Petit Pont, where it was stopped by the wooden piles under the arch. These soon caught fire, and so did all the houses which were never rebuilt, but the Petit Châtelet remained uninjured.

The Pont Notre Dame is that which joins the present Rue de la Cité, which is on the island, to the Quai de Gevres on the right bank of the Seine. It is one of the most interesting bridges in Paris. A terrible catastrophe occured on the 25th October, 1499, when the bridge fell into the Seine with all the houses upon it. The year previously some carpenters had noticed the rotten condition of the piles, and gave ample warning; but this was disregarded till at length a master carpenter went to one of the authorities, the "lieutenant-criminel" Papillon, and told him that a catastrophe was imminent. By order of a court then sitting (at seven o'clock in the morning) Papillon went and gave notice to the inhabitants and closed the bridge to the public. The dwellers on the bridge tried to remove all their goods (a great piece of labor as they were all shopkeepers), but could not effect this before the entire structure fell into the river with a fearful noise, and amidst such a cloud of dust that nothing could be seen. The collapse resembled an earthquake, but in the midst of all the confusion some lives were strangely preserved. A porter with a load of arrows on his back was thrown into the river and calmly swam to the side. A man in one of the houses seeing a fissure yawn beneath him jumped out of a widow and also saved himself by swimming. But the most remarkable case was that of a little child, tied up closely in its swaddling clothes and lying in its cradle. The cradle was flung into the water, where it was afterwards found floating like a boat with the child alive and well inside it: so, at least, a contemporary chronicler said.

The custom of houses being built upon bridges was too deeply rooted for the new bridge to be without them, so it was covered with tall structures, with their gable-ends to the stream, there having been more than thirty gables, ranged like the teeth of a saw, according to an apparently reliable old engraving. This new bridge erected at the beginning of the sixteenth century remained essentially the same till the eighteenth, except that the fronts of the houses ere modernized according to the taste of the day. A curious point to be noted is that these houses were the first in Paris to be numbered, according to the still prevailing fashion, with odd numbers on one side and even numbers on the other. It was a place for fashionable shops, kept by jewelers, goldsmiths, pricture-dealers, a sort of Palais Royal or Boulevard des Italiens of a past age.

This street on the bridge existed till towards the close of the eighteenth century, then Louis XVI decreed the demolition of the bridge-houses throughout the capital. The innovation was very nearly contemporary with the political revolution, and was first carried into effect on the Pont Notre Dame.

Up to the middle of the last century the aspect of this part of Paris was very picturesque as may be realized from an etching by Meryon which shows the Pont au Change and the round towers of the Palace of Justice, seen though an arch of the Pont Notre Dame, with the wooden substructure of the old pump to the spectator's left. This etching gives, as well as any existing illustration, the character of the old Pont au Change with its round arches, its plain parapet, its rising roadway, and its angular cutwaters.

Since those days the Palais de Justice has undergone a good deal of alteration, but the towers still remain, a good deal of alteration, but the towers still remain, while the elaborately ornamented clock has been restored (it is said) on the original plan.

A fine survival of the past is the Pont Neuf, which, though several times repaired, dates from the year 1578. The bridge was originally built by driving piles on the south side, which was completed long before the other. The building operations were not speedy till Henry IV took up the work vigorously in 1598 and brought it to a satisfactory conclusion in 1604.

Old fashions linger long, and although no houses were erected on the Pont Beuf, small wooded booths were tolerated upon it for a long time. After these had been removed they were revived in the nineteenth century in the shape of curious, little, semi-circular shops erected on the projections between the arches. These are still visible in Meryon's beautiful dry point of the Pont Neuf, but have since been removed, and the present appearance of the bridge very closely resembles its aspect in the seventeenth century. The little turrets now swept away were not unsightly: Turner indeed liked them, as they are made quite prominent in his impressive drawing of the entire bridge, whilst he would certainly have removed them if they had displeased him. On the contrary, he was so delighted with them that he made them three times as big as they were in reality, relatively to the width of the arches.

A picturesque feature of the Pont Neuf is the statue of the only French sovereign who was ever popular with his people. Henri IV, though he still sits on his horse in the center of his good city of Paris, is now pretty well forgotten, no one paying much attention to his effigy except an occasional work girl who happens to have been told that he was a good King and one who in his day had been very fond of the ladies.

A feature of the Pont Neuf used to be certain individuals whose especial trade it was to shave French poodles. The last of these canine barbers disappeared a good many years ago, the modern world having no use for small traders of this kind, or for the matter of that for French poodles shaved or unshaved, which are now scarcely ever seen in Paris.

In the eighteenth century and later the Pont Neuf was frequented by a number of small traders, while as late as thirty years ago men with performing dogs and monkeys were to be seen there. In the days of Louis XVI the locality was very popular with recruiting sergeants, who in gay military attire sought out likely young men to join the King's army.

Leaving the river there is much which is of interest to be seen on this side of the Seine, and anyone who cares to penetrate into the old streets and narrow impasses can find many curious architectural survivals of past times. This part of Paris has never been modernized to the same extent as the right bank, where Baron Haussmann completely changed the character of certain districts, being thereby assailed with a good deal of hostile criticism for the wholesale way in which he tore down houses and streets. Though all he did was done under the pretext of beautifying the French capital and making it more healthy, a great part of his schemes were really planned in order to make the position of Napoleon the Third safer from a military point of view. The narrow and tortuous streets of old Paris were very favorable for barricades, whereas a broad, straight Boulevard could easily be cleared by cannon fire or rushed by troops. Nevertheless, all the plans of the famous Prefect of the Seine failed to prevent much street fighting during the Commune of 1871. At the same time his long straight thoroughfares did facilitate the triumph of the Versaillais, who were never kept long at bay in parts of the city where the insurgents made a stand.

A street on the left bank of the Seine which has many interesting associations is the Rue Mazet, once known as the Rue Contrescarpe Dauphine and the Ruse de la Basoche. Here have been discovered remains of the old wall of Philip Augustus. In this street used to be the Restaurant Magny, where took place the famous Friday dinners started by Sainte Beuve, George Sand and other literary celebrities. Here also once stood the Auberge du Cheval Blanc, from which a "diligence" or coach used to set out for Bordeaux in 1652. Another hostelry in this street, mentioned by Alexandre Dumas in the Three Musketeers, was situated at No. 5.

A quaint old street is the Rue Gracieuse, which is really the Rue "Gratieuse," the latter having been the name of a family which lived there. Though it contains a number of ancient houses this street has sunk into a very squalid condition for which reason it will probably soon disappear.

The left bank, of course, is full of memories of the great Revolution.

No. 70 Rue Vaugirard, was the site of Carmelite Monastery, where the massacres began in Paris on the 2nd and 3rd of September 1792, when hundreds of priests who had been imprisoned were murdered. This convent was long famous for the well-known Eau de Méllise and the Blanc des Carmes which were sold there. The site of the sanguinary massacre of these poor priests remains more or less intact, while their remains, found at the garden, repose in the church.

Interesting to the British on account of certain of its associations is No. 65 (formerly No. 25) Rue des Fossés St. Victor, which is the site of the Collège des Ecossais or Scotch College which was originally situated in the Rue des Amandiers, but afterwards established in a new building, finished in 1655, in the Rue des Fossés St. Victor. It was originally founded by David, bishop of Moray, in Scotland, in 1326; and again, by James Beatoun, or de Bethune, Archbishop of Glasgow, in 1603. A black marble slab, on the east side of the chapel door, records these facts, in a Latin inscription surmounted by the armorial bearings of the two founders. The college was rebuilt by Robert Barclay in 1665; and the chapel, which was erected in 1672, is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. This, now put to a secular use, contains the monument of the unfortunate James II, erected to his memory by his faithful friend and constant companion of his exile, James, Duke of Perth, Governor of his son, called James III and the Old Pretender. On the top of the monument was formerly an urn of bronze gilt, containing the brain of the king, who died at St. Germain en Laye, the 16th of September 1701. This monument, in black and white marble, was executed by Louis Garnier, in 1703, and bears a long Latin inscription. When the Irish college was made the chef-lieu of the British colleges, this monument was transported there, where it remained some years; but it is now restored to its original place. Portions of this rather unfortunate King's body were during the early part of the nineteenth century found at St. Germain where he died, at which time a handsome tomb was erected over them in the church of that place, by the munificence of George IV. It may be added that in old days it was the fashion to have different places of interment for different parts of the body of distinguished people.

In front of the monument of James II, in the Chapel of the Scotch College, is a slab beneath which is the heart of the Queen; another covers the entrails of Louisa Maria, second daughter of the King; and yet another lies over the heart of Mary Gordon, of Huntly, Duchess of Perth. Monumental tablets and inscriptions existed here in memory of James Drummond, Duke of Perth, who died in 1720, and of the next Duke of the same name who died in 1726; of John Caryl, Baron Dunford; Frances Jennings, Duchess of Tyrconnel; Sir Patrick Monteith, of Salmoner, Sir Marian O'Conoly, Dr. Andrew Hay, Dr. Lewis Innes, confessor to James II; and Dr. Robert Barclay. This college and two other British ones were suppressed at the Revolution, and the property belonging to the three sequestrated. The Government of Napoleon embodied all the colleges of Paris into one establishment, under the authority of the Minister of the Interior, and gave them to the Irish college, Rue des Irlandais. Over the door was inscribed, "Chef-lieu des Collèges Britanniques." Upon the restoration, the former president of the colleges, and the other English Catholic clergy, claimed their property, which was restored to the Irish College, while that of the Scotch and English colleges were left in the hands of an administrator appointed by the government. Today the Scotch College, which has a fine door and staircase, is considered as standing on English soil.

In 1926 was pulled down a bit of old Paris well known to lovers of architecture. This was the Cour du Dragon, behind the graceful and fanciful archway of which was a curious courtyard with buildings long declared to be insanitary. Although many foreign visitors made a pilgrimage to see this relic of this past, few ventured to walk through the Dragon gate and down the dirty paved yard to the farther end, closed by two turrets, one containing a stairway and the other a kitchen, It is satisfactory to know that when the house has been rebuilt on modern lines, the famous Dragon gate, which stands at an angle to the present alignment of the Rue de Rennes, will be moved forward, stone by stone, and incorporated in the new façade. The gate was built by the architect Carnaud in 1735, and has, therefore, stood 200 years, during which period the neighborhood has developed from a college, convent and abbey quarter into the busy, crowded district that is now the sixth arrondissement of Paris.

At No. 30 Rue de Dragan lived, in 1802, Jean Andrieux, five years after the appearance of his comedy Les Étourdis had placed him in the front rank of the authors of his time. For some years before his death, which took place in 1833, at the age of seventy-four, he was Professor of Literature in the Royal College of Paris.

A far more famous occupant of No. 30 was Victor Hugo. This was his first residence after the death of his mother, with whom he had previously lived. He was then nineteen. In his Life it is told that "he kept house with a young cousin of his, a son of Madame Hugo's brother, who had come from Nantes to study the law, with whom he shared a garret of small size. One portion they turned into a drawing-room, its beauty consisting in its marble chimney-piece, above which hung the golden lily of the floral games. The other compartment was an ill-lighted narrow alcove, which held the two beds with some difficulty. Hugo had £28 of his own, and on this he existed for a year. (He refused to be provided for by his father, the condition being imposed that he should resign literature). He never borrowed a farthing, and yet would often lend his friend five francs."

La Cour Du Dragon

On a house not far from the Cour du Dragon, which connects the Rue du Dragon with the Rue de Rennes, is (or was) a Madonna in a niche where a candle used to be burnt in accordance with the terms of a bequest dating several hundred years back, the family who benefited by it having never allowed the pretty custom to lapse.

A beautiful gothic survival is the Hotel Cluny now an art museum. This has an interesting history. Placed at the disposal of the kings of France by the abbots of the Benedictine Abbey of Cluny, in Burgundy, who built it for their own residence when visiting Paris, it was occupied soon after its completion, in 1515, by Mary, sister of Henry VIII of England and widow of Louis XII — the spirited princess, who after marrying an old monarch to please her brother, declared she would marry the second time to please herself, and espoused the handsome and gallant Charles Brandon. Her room is still designated Chambre de la Reine Blanche, from the widowed queen's white mourning garments.

Here also was celebrated, in 1537, the marriage of Madeleine, daughter of Francois I, with King James of Scotland.

A later resident was the orator, the Cardinal de Loraine (born 1504, died 1574), and here also lived his nephew, the youthful Henri, third Duc de Guise, who, at the massacre of St. Bartholomew, broke open the chamber of Admiral Coligny and trampled upon his body when he had been killed; the murderer, in his turn, was to fall a victim to the dagger of an assassin.

Two eminent astronomers are residentially associated with the Hotel de Cluny. Joseph Nicholas Delisle and Joseph Lalande, pupil of the former, and who succeeded him as Professor of Astronomy to the College of France, an office which Lalande filled four years.

As its name indicates, St. Germain des Prés, though now close to a noisy boulevard, was once an abbey church standing amidst meadows; Nortre Dame des Champs really our Lady of the Fields; and the Rue Beuve des Petits Champs, a new street built in the country. Primroses may once have been found in the Impasse des Primeveres and vines in the Impasse des Vignes. Meadows came close up to the moderate sized Paris of the Middle Ages, round which there were fortresses, monasteries and villages, flourishing in a sea of pasturage, vines and corn. Wall after wall was found to be too narrow a boundary for the city, till M. Thiers in the 'forties' of the last century built the eleven miles of ramparts which are now in course of demolition. This continual expansion of Paris beyond its boundaries, produces groups of ill-constructed little villas, which in time gave way to regular streets, The existence of the fortifications at least prevented Paris from spreading out in a straggling way over the surrounding country, the charm of which hastily built houses now seem likely to deface.

The Abbey of St. Germain de Prés, of which the church now only remains, was in 1369 fortified by Charles V against the English. As late as the time of Henri Quatre it remained outside the walls of Paris, surrounded with walls and turrets, like its rival St. Martin des Champs. At this latter period a moat went round the walls of the Abbey; and to west of it, where part of the Faubourg St. Germain now stands, was an open place, called the Pré aux Clercs, from its being a favorite place of exercise for the students or clercs of the university, and which was in those days the favorite rendezvous of duelists. Up to 1503 the abbots had been generally elected by the society, but after that period they were nominated by the Crown, and among other distinguished men who attained this honor was Casimir, King of Poland, who died in 1672.

The memory of Charles V, mentioned above, is connected with the legendary combat between the Chevalier de Macaire and the dog of Montargis, which is said to have taken place on the site of the Rue St. Louis, near the Church of St. Louis. The story goes that Aubry de Montdidier, in passing alone through the forest of Bondy, had been murdered, and buried at the foot of a tree. His dog remained several days on the spot, and only quitted it from hunger, when he went to a house of a friend of Aubry, and set up a mournful howling, which, after he had had a good meal, he renewed, the while he pulled his master's friend by the cloak, as if to induce him to follow. The dog's behavior, and the circumstance of Aubry being missing, excited suspicion, and several persons followed the dog, who, on coming to a certain tree, redoubled his howling, and began to scratch the ground. On digging they found the body of the unfortunate man. Some time after the dog seized an individual, named the Chevalier de Macaire, who was with difficulty saved from being severely bitten. This occurring several times to the Chevalier
— once in the presence of the King, people began to think that Macaire was the murderer of Aubry, to whom he had been known to bear a fierce hatred. The King ordered that a trial by battle, or Jugement de Dieu, should take place between the Chevalier and the dog, for which purpose lists were set up in the Ile St. Louis, which was an uninhabited spot. Macaire was armed with a bludgeon, and the dog had a kennel to which he could retreat. As soon as he was loosened the animal ran at his antagonist, avoided his blows, and at length seized and brought him to the ground. Macaire then confessed his guilt, in the presence of the King and the whole court, and suffered punishment for his crime.

An interesting church on the left bank is St. Severin, where one of the earliest organs is said to have been set up. In the cemetery is said to have been performed the first operation for stone, the patient being a man condemned to death who by special authorization of Louis XI, was to be pardoned if he got out of the surgeon's hands alive, which he succeeded in doing. He is, indeed, said to have recovered in a fortnight, after which he was given some money and lived happily ever after.

The church of St. Severin was built in 1210, enlarged in 1347 and 1489, and repaired in 1684. It consists of a nave and a choir, with double aisles. The three compartments of the nave next to the west end are of the date 1210: the rest of the nave and side aisles, with the choir, but not the apse, are said to be of the date 1347; the apse and apsidal chapels are of 1489. The workmanship of the church is good throughout; and a beautiful spiral column at the crown of the apse is well worthy of notice. The mouldings of the date 1347, as well as the keystones of the vaults, are elaborately worked. Some fine painted glass remains in the choir, which was altered under the auspices of the celebrated Mlle. de Montpensier. A curious inscription on the left-hand side in the interior of this church relates to the filibusters who founded St. Domingo. It may be added that the present porch originally belonged to the church of St. Pierre-aux-Bœufs which was demolished in 1837.

A church remarkable for its jubé or screen, is St. Etienne du Mont, which has some fine sixteenth and seventeenth century glass. Restored between 1861 and 1868, the original date of the erection of the church is said to have been 1121; no vestiges of this early edifice, however, are to be found; it was enlarged at the time of its being made parochial in 1222; and a curious square tower and circular turret, detached from and standing behind the church, are probably of that date. It was much enlarged in 1491 and the choir was increased in length in 1517. In 1537 the choir and nave were nearly rebuilt, and, in 1605, some adjoining charniers, now used as school-rooms. The first stone of the portal was laid in 1610 by Queen Marguerite de Valois, and a tablet over the church-door remained till the Revolution bearing an inscription to that effect. In 1624 the upper story of the tower was built, and the church was finally dedicated, and a new high alter raised in 1626. The oldest portions of the existing edifice are the lower stories of the tower and the northern aisle of the choir, which are not later than 1491. The other parts are nearly all, except the west front, of the date 1537.

St. Etienne Du Mont
                        And Pantheon

It was in St. Etienne du Mont that Archbishop Sibour was assassinated by a fanatic in 1857.

Like this church that of St. Médard was originally dependent on the Abbey of Ste. Geneviève. The nave and aisles are of the end of the fifteenth century: the choir and aisles are of the dates 1561, 1586, when many repairs and additions were made.

Some curious historical events are connected with St. Médard. In 1561 a violent attack was made on it by some Calvinists, after hearing a sermon in a neighboring house. Several of the congregation in the church were killed, and much damage was done to the altars and
windows. In 1727 the Abbé Paris was buried in the cemetery of this church, and in 1730 the so-called "convulsions" at his tomb began, which gave rise to the sect of the Convulsionists, who indulged in displays of religious frenzy to such an extant that the scandal occasioned by their antics were only suppressed by closing the cemetery in 1732. The ground, which was sold in 1798, has since become a public square.

Of the Panthéon, formerly the church of St. Geneviève, it is unnecessary to speak, except to say that it was here in 1851 that Foncauld made his experiments with a pendulum to demonstrate the rotation of the earth. This building has reflected the attitude of the French Government towards religion ever since it was begun by Soufflot in 1757. Secularized in 1791, it reverted to the church in 1806. Again secularized in 1830 it again became a religious edifice in 1852. In 1885, it became the Panth
éon which it still remains.

Though their number was considerably decreased during the alterations carried out by Baron Haussmann there still survive some ornamental fountains in Paris well worth alteration. These, in former days, served a very necessary purpose, the modern system of reservoirs connected with various districts being a comparatively new development.

Especially on the left bank of the Seine houses had a very bad water supply, there being still comparatively recent times no streams or rivulets except "la Bievre," on which householders could rely. A certain number of wells existed, but not enough for a population which constantly grew. In order to rectify this uncomfortable state of affairs Marie de Medicis first of all repaired, and then enlarged the aqueduct, which, as far back as the year A.D. 360, had been constructed by the Romans, to convey water from various springs outside Paris, to the Palais des Thermes of the Emperor Julian. The first Parisian water company was not formed till 1789, and long after that the lack of water continued to inconvenience the Parisians, especially those living on the left bank of the Seine. Though now forgotten, one of the most conspicuous minor industries of the city was selling water to householders at two sous a bucketful. This was carried on by stalwart men, who went about with barrels painted in brilliant colors, the while they attracted the attention of housewives by crying out, "A l'eau! A leau!" This was one of the regular cries of Paris, all of which, like the cries of of London, have now disappeared.

Among the fountains which survive, one of the finest is the Fontaine de Grenelle, designed by Bouchardon, who executed the figures, bas-reliefs, and some of the ornaments. It was begun in 1739, and finished in 1745. The building is of a semi-circular form, 90 feet in length by 36 in elevation. In the center is a portico, consisting of four Doric columns supporting a pediment. In front of it is a group in white marble, representing the city of Paris sitting upon the prow of a ship, and regarding with complacency the Seine and the Marne at her feet. In the lateral niches are allegorical statues. Between the columns is an inscription by Cardinal Fleury.

Paris, up to quite recent times, had its own peculiar way of dealing with certain social questions, notably that of children whom their mothers were unwilling or unable to rear.

No. 54 Rue Denfert-Rochereau (formerly Rue d'Enfer) is the Hospice des Enfants-Assistes which, previous to 1883, was the Hospice des Entants-Trouvés, where, as late as the middle of the last century, curious methods used to prevail; a box, called a "tour" as in other French foundling hospitals, being let into the wall near the gateway. This worked on a pivot, and, on a bell being rung was turned round by the persons inside to receive any child that might be put within it. As soon as the infant was deposited in this box, it was again turned round, and the mother, or party depositing the child, was never again allowed to see it without formally recognizing it, and withdrawing it from the hospital. No questions of any kind used to be asked on the occasion of the deposit being made; no one was seen, and the whole was conducted as clandestinely as possible. Declarations of the child's name or quality, that used sometimes to be made on paper, and either attached to the infant, or delivered at the bureau of the hospital, were carefully kept, and it was always possible to arrange the recognition of a child after any lapse of time. These regulations prevented infanticide in a great many cases, but they by no means hindered the frequent recurrence of that crime, while, on the other hand, they acted as a direct encouragement to the production of illegitimate children. Parents, too, although married, used to make use of these institutions as a means of getting rid of their offspring, and these abuses became serious topics of complaint at almost all the councils-general of departments. Another abuse of this system existed. All children that were not affected by sickness were put out to nurse, either in the capital or the towns where the hospitals stood, but generally in the country, and mothers who had thus abandoned their offspring used to present themselves as nurses at the hospitals, where they ran the chance of receiving their own children back again as public nurselings, or else did so receive them by the indulgent connivance of the administrators; thus they used to receive pay from the State for the support of their children,  and kept them at home, after having done little more than go through the formality of depositing them in the tour. The capital, too, from its central position, used to receive a great number of foundlings from the country, with the support of which the municipality was, therefore, unjustly burdened; and the same circumstances operated very prejudicially in other parts of France. Notwithstanding, too, all the care taken of the infants, the mortality among those brought up by strange nurses was far greater than that prevalent among infants brought up at home, and thus an indirect species of infanticide was encouraged, under the appearance of charity.

The Catacombs which used formerly to be much visited by foreigners seem to have become rather deserted of late years. They may be seen on the first and third Saturdays of the month by authorizations to be obtained at the Hotel de Ville.

The Catacombs of Paris were begun in 1784, when the Council of State issued a decree for clearing the Cemetery of Innocents, and for removing its contents, as well as those of other cemeteries, into the quarries that had existed from a remote period beneath the southern part of Paris, and by which the Observatory, the Luxembourg, the Odéon, the Val de Grâce, the Panthéon, the Rues de la Harpe, de St. Jacques, de Tournon, de Vaugiard, and several other streets, were completely undermined. Several excavations having taken place, a special commission was appointed to direct such works as might be required. Engineers and workmen were immediately employed to examine the whole of the quarries, and prop the streets, roads, churches, palaces, and buildings of all kinds, which were in danger of being engulfed. The idea of converting the quarries into Catacombs originated with M. Lenoir, lieutenant-general of the police. That part of the quarries under the Plaine de Mont Souris was allotted for this purpose; a house, known by the name of La Tombe Issoire, or Isouard (from the famous robber who once infested that neighborhood), on the old road to Orléans, was purchased, with a piece of ground adjoining; and every preparation was made by sinking a shaft, propping up the cavities, and walling off various portions, for receiving their future contents. The ceremony of consecrating the Catacombs was performed with great solemnity on the 7th of April, 1786, and on the same day the removal from the cemetery began.

This work was always performed at night; the bones were brought in funeral cars, covered with a pall, and followed by priests, chanting the service of the dead, and when they reached the Catacombs the bones were shot down the shaft. The tombstones, monument, etc. not claimed by the families of the deceased, were removed and arranged in a field belonging to the Tombe Issoire; some of them were very curious; and among them was the leaden coffin of Mme. de Pompadour. They were all destroyed, however, during the Revolution; and a guinguette was erected on the spot.  The cemeteries of St. Eustache and St. Etienne des Grés having been suppressed in 1787, the bones from them were removed to this general deposit, by order of the government. The Catacombs served also as convenient receptacles for those who perished in popular commotions or massacres. The bones, when first brought to the Catacombs, were heaped up without any kind of order, except that those from each cemetery were kept separate. In 1810, a regular system of piling up the bones was commenced under the direction of M. Héricart de Thury. Openings were made to obtain air, channels were formed to carry off the water, steps were constructed from the lower to the upper excavations, pillars erected to support the dangerous parts of the roof, and the skulls and bones built up along the walls. The calculations differ as to the number of bones collected in this vast charnel-house. It is, however, certain that it contains the remains of at least 3,000,000 of human beings.

Sight-seeing is tiring work and when the visitor has had his fill of exploring the Left Bank he cannot do better than go and have a good lunch at the Café Foyot, where the cooking is fully equal to any which can be obtained on the other side of the Seine.

After this quiet stroll round the garden of the Luxembourg is likely to have a very soothing effect. This is still of fine extent in spite of its mutilation. It is pleasant to see the children sailing their boats in the big basin while the Fontaine de Medicis at the end of a long rectangular piece of water is a perpetual delight. These gardens contain a large number of statues
— too many perhaps? There is indeed a positive mania for statuary in the Paris of the present day which has scarcely improved it from an artistic point of view.

Amid suitable surroundings fine pieces of sculpture look very well, but when it comes to disfiguring a beautiful spot, such as the Parc Monceau used to be, with statuary, much of which is out of place, one cannot help regretting that this sort of thing has not been checked. Practically every prominent politician or public man now seems entitled to have his effigy or monument set up in Paris, a profuse form of cheap posthumous notoriety. Would that the majority of these statues might disappear into the oblivious which must be their ultimate fate, the honor of immortality in marble being reserved only for a few really great individuals whose names posterity is likely to honor.

The garden of the Luxembourg is one of the most frequented places of recreation in Paris, and it is much to be regretted that in the latter days of the Empire it was diminished by cutting off a large acute-angled triangle at the upper end of the pépinière, to make room for the Rue de l'Abbé de l'Epée and other streets. Some important buildings, including the École des Mines, the Pharmacie Centrale des Hopitaux, and a large new Lycée, have been erected on ground that formerly belonged to the nursery or the garden of the Luxembourg, and this at a time when the rapid increase of Paris in every direction made it more than ever desirable to preserve all open spaces with the most jealous care. It was a piece of economy, and of very unpopular economy, the only practical reason in its favor being that the new Rue de
l'Abbé de l'Epée rendered communication a little easier. In the remaining ground there are five pretty gardens with lawns and a considerable number of parallelograms planted with trees, and these, with the more or less open spaces between them, serve as playgrounds for the children. The eastern side of the garden is the favorite resting place for grown-up people, who sit there on many hundreds of chairs. Closely adjacent to the gardens are spaces laid out as lawns, with winding walks, a sufficiency of trees for shade, and plenty of garden seats.

The original plan of the Luxembourg comprised a quadrangle with one pavilion at each corner towards the street, and two pavilions at each corner towards the garden. The enlargement carried out by M. de Gisors, Louis-Philippe's architect, consisted in constructing two new pavilions in the garden close to the four already existing, so that at the south end of the palace there are now six heavy pavilions, three on each side. The new ones were connected by a new front which gave great additional space inside for a library and Senate-house, though the result externally was to make the heavy end of the palace look heavier still. Nevertheless, as the building had to be enlarged to receive the Senate, it is very difficult to see how any equivalent increase of size could have been conveniently obtained with so little deviation from the original design. The garden front is practically the same, the interior of the quadrangle is untouched, at least so far as this alteration is concerned, so is the street front, and it is only the east and west sides which are lengthened without any alteration in their style. On the whole, indeed, it would be difficult to find a more appropriate building for a Senate-house. The situation is pleasant and easily accessible, whilst the great space of beautiful garden gives the palace a quiet atmosphere not always attainable in a great city, and one which must be eminently suitable to legislative deliberations. It is thought more prudent, in France, not to have the two Chambers in one building; and it was principally for this reason that a proposal made some time ago to rebuild the Tuileries, as a great parliament house for both Chambers, met with very little support.

Close to the Luxembourg is the Théâtre de l'Odéon, which was once known as the Second
Théâtre Français, attempts having several times been made to establish a permanent company in it for regular tragedy and comedy, but they were never successful. This theater was built in 1779, was burnt down twenty years afterwards, and was rebuilt, in 1807, by Chalgrin. The interior was a second time destroyed by fire in 1818, but was restored in 1820. The principal front is ornamented with a portico of eight Doric columns, ascended by steps. The entablature is continued at the same height round the whole building, which presents on the ground-floor a series of covered arcades, and at the first story an equal number of windows.

A good deal of fine old architecture survives on the left bank of the Seine notable in the Rue des Varennes where one or two houses still retain spacious grounds. In old days the Faubourg St. Germain was the scene of many brilliant social functions though since the triumph of the Third Republic its social glories have rather waned.


 
Proceed To Next Chapter

Go To Table Of Contents

Return To BohemianLit.com Home Page