Imatges de pàgina

object can be accomplished in a way to flatter the national vanity of the unreflecting portion of those who have to pay for it, the method will be the more popular. What amount of debt France has incurred within the last ten years, we have no means of ascertaining; but it must be enormous ;-for with a view of employing the people, the public purse is lavishly used in restoring and beautifying the fine ancient monuments with which the country abounds—not to mention the outlay at the unoccupied palaces of Versailles and Fontainbleau ; and public works of every description are proceeding all over France. From what we could learn, the Garde Municipale is all powerful in Paris ; and if the inhabitants attempt a rising without their approval, the fortifications now erecting will, at all events, prevent the people getting reinforcements from the provinces—in which case they will be easily controlled. As, however, the Garde Municipale is composed of individuals who have an interest more or less in the preservation of order, howsoever such a state of matters is to be deplored, it is perhaps, under existing circumstances, the best for all classes of the people. We sincerely hope, however, that these fortifications will never proye more than a temporary employment to those who require it, and an ornament to the city.

Through revolutions and monarchical changes la Mode has kept her supreme sway in the Salons of Paris. The variableness of her laws may perchance, in “ La belle France," have conduced to the continuance of her power; but, at all events, there is no disputing the fact, that, while Louis Philippe on the throne is thwarted by contending parties, and opposed in his wishes by intrigue and ambition, Fashion holds on her course, which she varies at her sovereign, though somewhat capricious will.

Louis Philippe was himself “the lion” for a few months after the " three glorious days," when he used to walk the Boulevards alone, with his hands in his breeches' pockets, endeavouring to look as if he hadn't a steel fence under his waistcoat, while Mademoiselle Rachel engrossed the coteries for at least thirty days! But these, as well as the succession of persons and events, which in Paris singly and for the time possessed the public eye, have had their passing hour; and at the present day he who attracts the fashionable world is M. L'Abbé de Revignon, the popular preacher at the church of St. Roche.

This eloquentand talented man has more the appearance of a Spaniard than a Frenchman. His complexion is dark, his nose strait and slightly drooping, his mouth compressed and of classical form, while his eye is full of intelligence and animation; and as for his ample forehead, we would defy the phrenologists to discover an objection to it. His short, black hair is kept quite off his face. His voice is not powerful, but it possesses great harmony. His gestures are appropriate and effective, while his figures and illustrations are graphic and poetical, without the slightest appearance of any ad captandum attempt to startle by their peculiarity.

The centre of the church is filled with the élite of Paris, on any special occasion; and when the preacher commences, in a low, but distinct tone, a dead silence prevails. If, however, he dwells long in explaining a point which to him appears all important, in connection

with what is to follow, the ladies' fans are one by one unfurled, their chevaliers attendantes embrace the opportunity to “ do the gracious," while here and there a tête-à-tête assumes the appearance of a quiet flirtation. Presently, however, the voice of the Abbé is raised, and carrying his audience along by his powerful and varying eloquence, at one time rousing their fears, at another touching the most sensitive of their heart-strings,—the fans are lowered, men and women stand arrested and motionless, and handkerchiefs, well laced and redolent of Patchuli are raised to wipe the tear from some of the handsomest faces in the gay capital. It would be out of our way to speculate upon the amount of good effected by the Abbé de Revignon's eloquence; and we think it will be sufficiently liberal to assume that the moral and religious benefit arising from it to his audience keeps pace with their contributions at his charity sermons in the magnificent church of St. Roche,-for they are said to be of large amount.

The scene which takes place after the service, at the door, baffles description. Gentlemen in search of their servants, footmen and gay chasseurs bawling to their coachmen, pedestrians screaming, and occasionally upset, in their determination to cross the Rue St. Honoré, while any attempt by the church officers, in their showy uniforms, to restore quietness, is as ineffectual as that of the police at the doors of our Italian Opera on the occasion of a benefit night.

The bequeathment of the Standish Gallery to the French King by its late English proprietor, was recently the subject of animadversion by the press. Assuredly Mr. Standish could scarcely have given Louis Philippe a stronger proof of his gratitude, or the French nation of his respect, than the bequeathment of his collection of pictures, embracing as it does fine specimens of the different Old Schools, and a rare assemblage of that of Spain. There are in all about one hundred and fifty; but these, with the drawings and etchings, number nearly six hundred, and occupy three apartments at the Louvre.

On entering the rooms, the first which drew our attention was two fine specimens of D. Teniers, -Nos. 63 and 65 of the printed Catalogue—the former the Interior of a Guardhouse, the other, his favourite subject, a Party playing at Tric-trac. The latter is in the silvery manner of the master; and, as regards expression, execution, and transparency, may rank as one of his first-class pictures. The finest Landscape in the collection is, according to our judgment, that by P.P. Rubens, and numbered 53. It is in size about three feet by two feet four inches, on panel. The subject a broad country, finely kept in the perspective. In the middle distance, on the right, is part of a picturesque village, with a very noble group of trees; to the left a piece of water, with part of a bridge, and trees of surpassing beauty and great truth to nature. In the fore-ground a shepherd is piping to his flock. The composition is superb; the execution of the picture broad, but masterly; and in colour it is rich and verdant; while the scene is altogether so full of life as almost to appear in motion before the spectator. There is another example of this master-No, 54 of the Catalogue. It is “Hero crowned by Victory." The rich and transparent colouring, powerful drawing, and admirable impasto of this finished sketeh, exhibit the best qualities of the great painter.

There are some fine specimens of the Spanish School. One by Murillo, upright in form, and not more than twelve by fifteen inches in size, is not likely to be passed unnoticed by the connoisseur. The figure of the Virgin is beautiful and dignified, while the Cherubs around her really appear to float in air. The finishing is in the very careful manner which this master generally practised in his small pictures. The composition is pleasing and graceful, and the colouring is extremely harmonious. In short, it is one of Murillo's gems. There is another Spanish picture, No. 153, in the same room, by Velasques, which conveys a very elevated impression of his powers. The subject is “The Angels appearing to the Shepherds." The shepherds have been asleep under the covering of a rock, and some of their flocks are beside them. One man, seeing the Cherubs descending, looks up in an attitude of wonder, with his hand raised. Another, seemingly just awoke, tries to collect his thoughts; while the third, who is in a reclining posture, with his head pillowed by his hands on the rock, still sleeps profoundly. The figures are of noble design, and full of simplicity and grace. The subject is powerfully expressed, and the execution and colouring faultless. The lights and shadows are broad and effective, The latter, in some parts, have become somewhat too deep, which, however, is to be attributed to the matériel used by the Spanish School at its best period. But fortunately, in this instance, although too dark, the shadows continue clear and transparent. The finest of two pictures by Richard Wilson is No. 242. On the right is a fine group of trees, to the left a piece of water, with a bridge and some cottages backed by trees, while two fishermen are landing their nets from a boat. The scene forms one of those deep, flat landscapes, in which Wilson excelled. The composition is very skilful; the execution remarkable for its solidity; and the colouring is in the subdued manner of the master. This picture does credit to the English School of Painting, and might afford many a precious lesson to the French student. No. 159, by Villegas, is a fine specimen of this painter. It is on panel; the subject a Holy Family; and both in respect of propriety of design and the dignity of the individual characters, as well as its mechanical merits and true colouring, it is a work of great talent. The Watteau of the collection is the finest specimen of the master we have had the fortune to meet with, and which, we think, comes up to the reputation his name has acquired. The subject is a Masquerading Party, with a back-ground of trees, and what appears to be part of a fountain. The drawing is graceful and correct; the execution is free, but more careful than that of the much lauded specimen in the Musée; while the colouring, as is usual in pictures by Watteau, is deliciously rich and harmonious. Our inclination would lead us to notice other pictures; but we must not allow our admiration of the Standish Collection to carry us beyond our limits. It embraces many rare specimens of art, and, with few exceptions, they are in excellent preservation. The drawings and etchings would be considered fine any where except in Paris. In the Louvre there is a collection of original drawings, part of which England might have possessed for what would have been a trifling sum to the nation,

although no amount of money could now procure such an assemblage for our National Gallery.

We paid more than one visit to the Great Gallery of the Louvre. The pictures there never appeared to greater advantage; for during the recent Exhibition of the Works of Living Artists, those requiring it have had the surface varnish renewed; and the collection altogether, although including many copies, as well as valueless originals, yet rises in our estimation, especially the Dutch and Flemish portions of it. Its contents, however, have been long familiar to the English public. No one goes to Paris without paying repeated visits to the Gallery; for even without knowledge of, or a taste for, the art, there is always something there to amuse; and on a wet day it forms a most agreeable promenade.

It has become a matter of course for those who have seen the Musée, to enlarge upon the splendour of the Chief Gallery. For ourselves, however, we must take the liberty of dissenting from the generally received opinion of it. If great length, and ornament, and gilding, constitute grandeur, then does this apartment merit its usual description; but if proportion and appropriateness are required to produce perfection in architecture, its merits have been greatly overrated. We are not without the hope of seeing a Gallery for our national collection more worthy of England than that which now fills the finest site in the metropolis. And therefore it is that we wish to have the public mind disabused of what we humbly consider its false impression in regard to the Great Gallery of the Louvre. Deeply as we regret the erection of our present National Gallery, we affirm, without the fear of contradiction, that as far as regards showing works of art, it is very superior to the Louvre, where the greatest portion of the pictures have to contend against the deteriorating effect of cross lights.

Although the reputation of Madame Le Normande, the French sorceress, may almost be said to be of European extent, and her Dame must have reached the ear of many of our readers, it may nevertheless be proper, before detailing our visit to this singular person, to state that she is the self-same Frenchwoman whom the Emperor Napoleon is universally believed in France to have more than once consulted in regard to his destinies. At all events, it is past a doubt that Madame Le Normande was imprisoned by order of Napoleon for predicting the failure of the Russian expedition; and that she has, during the last half century, been receiving, professionally, the visits of large num. bers of the various grades of the French noblesse, as well as those of other nations, distinguished both for station and intelligence.

This singular woman became the subject of conversation one evening between ourselves and an English lady resident in Paris, which led to a confidential confession on the part of our fair friend, that she had, a year before, applied to Madame Le Normande to know what would be the result of certain hopes and fears. She admitted that it was her intention again to visit the temple of the fortune-teller, and obligingly granted permission that we should accompany her as an escort. We rejoiced at so convenient an opportunity of gratifying our wish to see and converse with a being who had so long availed herself of the

power to cajole--not the ignorant alone_but many of those considered wise amongst a people certainly far advanced both in intelligence and refinement. We accordingly, two days thereafter, put ourselves into a citadine, and proceeded forth with to the mystic temple.

The residence of Madame Le Normande is in the Rue de Cournon, Faubourg St. Germain, an unostentatious part of the most aristocratic Quartier in Paris. Like most other Parisian houses, Madame Le Normande's is approached by a porch leading to a quadrangular court-yard—the side fronting the entrance being her abode, which is simply notified by her name; and if you go not by special appointment of that lady, you are shown into a room amongst the other applicants for knowledge. On looking into this apartment we saw not less than fifteen ladies and gentlemen waiting their turn, with almost as much anxiety depicted on some of their faces as characterizes the appearance of the patients at the morning levee of an eminent London physician. Notwithstanding a very plain attempt to bribe a preference, we were informed that it was impossible for us to see Madame Le Normande for several hours ; and having stipulated that we were to have our interview the following morning at ten, we returned accordingly; but arriving only a few minutes after the hour appointed, we were put into the room already alluded to, with the assurance, however, that we would be the first received on the departure of a lady who was then with Madame. One woman who appeared to be a little on the sunniest side of thirty, evidently of humble station, but neatly dressed in the French spring costume of a white muslin gown and black shawl, happened to be seated next us, and partly pour passer le temps, or perhaps from her having an expression of sadness, we led her into conversation, and in ten minutes had her little history. Drawing the conversation to Madame Le Normande, we endeavoured to ascertain the extent of confidence our neighbour placed in her. She informed us that she had formerly consulted Madame, and that she returned to her with unqualified confidence. “ Had I,” she said, “ taken Madame's advice four years ago, it might have been well with me now.” Adolphe had then pressed her to marry; but, being considered thoughtless, her mother was prejudiced against him. She consulted Madame Le Normande, who advised her to receive the addresses of her admirer. She hesitated; and one night, after a lover's quarrel, he joined the army for three years, and returned from service“ an altered man,” to offer a withered heart at its first shrine. She again applied to Madame, who now strongly dissuaded her from the marriage, on account of the dissolute habits which the young man had fallen into : but it was her fate (destiné !) she said, so she went with him to church. Matters proceeded smoothly for a time, but soon he came to view in his altered character. From neglect he became insulting, and she was at last left to work for herself at lace-making or starve. Six weeks before the date of our interview, however, the mauvais garçon had taken the liberty to abscond altogether in consequence of some scrape he had got into; and she said she just wanted Madame's advice as to whether he would return-if she ought to take service-and generally what she should do--for she seemed to have no very definite object in her visit. She again ana

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