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A Progress through the Cities again repeated that she was tout au fuit faché ; and upon our trying to joke upon the propriety of a divorce and a better husband-although there was something very like a tear in her eye-she reminded us, with that naïve expression which is so peculiarly French, that unbappily in France no such law existed. We explained to her that we manage these matters better in merry England, where a lady with a tolerable cause may get quit of her husband for £15 of expenses-not to mention the free roll for those who have not so much of the needful. She shrugged her shoulders and sighed. Poor thing! she seemed strongly under the impression that her having refused Adolphe when he first proposed to her, was the cause both of his ruin, and of her own misery. The assemblage consisted of persons of different ages—the majority of the middle, and three or four evidently of the upper class of society. One venerable-looking old gentleman, accompanied by a little boyprobably his grandson-particularly interested us. Him we accosted, but had not got beyond some general remarks on the weather, when the door opened, and the servant, motioning us to follow him, ushered us into the presence of the sorceress.
Madame Le Normande has the appearance of great age. She cannot have seen less than eighty-five years; and she is so corpulent as to unfit her, we should think, for walking exercise. Indeed, she is never seen from home except in her carriage. Her head being epveloped in a turban, her swelled countenance presented a most unmeaning ex. pression, and her large and solitary tooth protrudes so much over her lip as to render her appearance far from prepossessing. Acknow ledging our entrance by a slight inclination of the head, she motioned us to be seated; and as she proceeded with the business of our meeting, gradually awoke from her apparent lethargy, and exhibited an aspect of considerable intelligence. She wore a loose cloth robe, and certainly there was nothing observable in the style of the apartment which indicated the slightest attempt at effect. We were seated at some distance from our lady companion, so as not to overhear her questions and confessions; and having an excellent opportunity of studying Madame Le Normande's looks and movements, we could perceive that she ever and anon threw at us glances so searching that we began to feel uncomfortable, under the impression that she meditated telling us our future prospects whether we wished it or not. As to what she predicted for our companion-without presuming to inquire the subject of it we were informed that part of what Madame had told her was correct, and that the rest might turn out to be so; and her words had not been without effect upon the fair consulter. The language and accent of Madame Le Normande is that of the middle class of Parisians. She seemed gratified by our allusions to her widely spread fame-to her State imprisonment and to a book which she had published about two years before. A hundred francs is a very moderate fee for her to receive, and when she gets into the secrets of parties, she is said to make extensive depredations on their purses. She told us that the English, although not the most numerous, are, with the exception of the Russians, her best paying customers. She is supposed to have amassed a large fortune.
The extent of knowledge which this woman possesses of French
families and even private individuals, is said to be very extensive ; and she never forgets a face she has once seen professionally. She has the means, too, of getting information about foreigners and their connections, which cannot be accounted for ; and in two most important cases in the Scotch courts of law, connected with a dormant peerage, the public was recently made aware of her bringing law deeds to light which had been lost sight of for centuries. And although the genuineness of these documents has not always been admitted, the evidence in the instances, alluded to, proved the extensive and varied information possessed by this woman, while the widely spread, expensive, and intricate machinery employed by her for the purpose of procuring them, gave evidence of a mind of no ordinary calibre.
Upon our rising to depart, she demanded whether we were serious in not wishing to know anything of the future; and when assured that we had not that wish in the smallest degree, she said, “ Pardon me, but you English are a droll people! I have rarely known two Englishmen come together to consult me ; and I am certain that those who come alone would not for the world that it should be known they had done so silly a thing. And those English ladies who come in their private carriage, leave it in one of the adjoining streets, and slip in here with as much caution as if they were intent upon an act of moral impropriety. Ah !” she exclaimed, “ vous retournerez certainement;" but Madame was at fault in this prediction; and if we know ourselves, it is not likely to be fulfilled.
Madame Le Normande was not in some respects the person we expected to find her, but we nevertheless felt gratified by our interview, with a being so deeply read in the weaknesses of human nature. She is, besides a being by herself, for there is no counterpart to Madame Le Normande in Europe.
The church of the Madeleine is finished since we were in Paris two years previously ; and notwithstanding the glaring colours of the frescos, and the superabundance of gilding, it is unquestionably a fine specimen of what may be most appropriately termed the Roman style of architecture. The Artesian well, too, is now sending up, from a depth of 1790 feet, a constant flow of water nine inches in diametersomewhat heated, and standing not a little in need of one of Robins's patent filters to make it fit for use. A splendid fountain is about to be erected for this celebrated spring. The Chamber of Deputies has been renovated externally; magnificent fountains have been erected in the Place de Concorde, and in the Champs Elysées, where many new Cafés on a large scale have arisen. And certainly, as one stands on the Place de Concorde-surrounded by the Tuileries and its gardens the Champs Elysées—the public offices at the end of the Rue Rivolithe Chamber of Deputies—with the splendid statues in the Placeand the Obelisk-and the gorgeous fountains—the whole scene presented is, of its kind, one of unequalled grandeur and beauty. We failed not as formerly to take our accustomed walks and drives through and around the city, which, as a place of residence, has certainly many fascinations. A gay life in London is one of dissipation, but it is not necessarily.so in Paris, where a man may go to two or three soirées of an evening, and be in bed before the hour at which it would be correct to exhibit himself at a fashionable party in London. The public amusements, too, are various and interminable. As the French themselves say, there is in their gay city “beaucoup des destractions ; " and wherever the time-killer wends his way, he is certain to meet with something to amuse, if not to interest and instruct him.
We left Paris in the morning at half-past six, by the diligence, for Maison-Lafitte, where we joined the steamer on the Seine, and in this way we avoided the tedious turnings on the intervening part of the river, besides adding variety to the journey to Rouen. During the voyage the scenery, always fine, is, for the most part, of remarkable beauty. At Conflans the Oise joins the Seine, causing an apparent increase in its size. Poissey, with its fine bridge-Maples, with its splendid church of Nôtre Dame—the Castles of La RocheGuyon and Gaillard - the town of Pont de l'Arche and its picturesque old bridge—and Elbeuf, are the most important places which come successively in sight during the sail to Rouen. Larger and more powerful steam-boats than those formerly on this part of the river, have recently been substituted. Better accommodation and some additional speed the traveller certainly attains by the change ; but on the occasion we allude to, our boat was detained for nearly three hours by a lighter having run aground in the deepest part of the river, where the steamer could alone pass.—Fifteen or twenty horses were collected, and in the end a clear passage was made for us; but owing to this accident-not, we understand, of very rare occurrence—we did not get to the hotel at Rouen till near midnight. The weather was, however, remarkably fine; and as the river presented during the day many beautiful views and pretty islands, and its banks were covered with villages and villas, we could not but be charmed with our little voyage,
The city of Rouen has been often described, and is familiar to the Continental traveller, and generally to the English reader. Yet it is not a place to be visited without its historical importance and fine architectural antiquities presenting fresh interest and creating new ideas in regard to them. On the evening of our arrival the moon was bright and clear; and, notwithstanding the lateness of the hour and our own fatigue, we could not resist the inducement it afforded of viewing the Cathedral by its light; and assuredly we were well repaid for our exertion. There is an effect not easily described produced by the moonlight on a great Gothic church, for the shadows fall with striking distinctness, while the tone of colour which it produces, and the effect upon the general outline of the building, give the whole a very solemn aspect. We longed for a peep of the interior, but that was not to be accomplished at such an hour, and we therefore made our way to the Hotel Rouen, where, after eight hours of sound sleep, we returned to make another survey. To the Cathedral we went first, for it was in our way. Its principal elevation is of noble design and extent, and the interior is also fine. Standing immediately in front of the altar, having the transepts on either side, with their superb windows, and the nave beyond, the impression created is very appropriate. The interior of St. Ouan is of beautiful proportions, and in perfect preservation. It reminded us of the Cathedral at Tours, which in some respects it surpasses. But it is deficient in that religious sentiment which Gothic
architecture has the power of producing, and which constitutes its superiority for ecclesiastical structures. In our judgment, the comparatively small church of St. Maclou approaches nearer to perfection than either the great Cathedral or the church of St. Quan. From whatever point you look at the exterior of this building, you have presented to you an elevation complete in itself; and the sentiment conveyed by the interior is mysterious and solemn. Mr. Russell, in his admirable German Tour, expresses the opinion that “ the Gothic in small is only fit for gingerbread ;” and this is, moreover, a generally received opinion. But we think the church of St. Maclou, at Rouen, goes far to prove that great extent is not indispensable to success in Gothic ecclesiastical structures. The Palais de Justice is a fine example of the fourteenth century, and is now undergoing a complete repair. Those who are curious in ancient edifices, will find within a court in the Place Jeanne d'Arc (who, if we were to credit the statues we have lately seen of her, must have been of hideous appearance,) the Hotel Baurgtheroude. The bas reliefs with which it is decorated are nowhere to be surpassed. They are five in number, and represent the interview between Francis the First and Henry the Eighth. There are other curious old houses at Rouen ; and the ancient city gate, near the centre of the town, as it at present stands, is one of the finest we have ever seen. The figures in bas relief, with which it is ornamented, are nearly as large as life, and of great merit. The Hotel de Ville, the Royal College, and the Bourse, are all fine buildings. Except on the quay, Rouen has still the appearance of an old French city; but there are few situations in the town which we could fix upon as desirable for a residence. Indeed, the principal inhabitants, who are for the most part merchants, occupy villas in the neighbourhood. An excellent view of the surrounding country is obtained from the top of the Cathedral. It forms quite a panorama, for the ground invariably rises at the same distance around the town. From the situation of Rouen, it must be important as a place of trade, although to the eye of an Englishman appearances do not convey that impression.
There is no lack of water in the Seine at Rouen; so that the steamboat which was to convey us to Havre was both large and powerful. There were many passengers; and while an awning kept off the scorching sun, there was on board a tolerably good brass band, to enliven the scene. We do think that full justice has never been rendered to the beauties of the river between Rouen and Havre. Until arriving at La Mailleraye, the river widens, as well as the country on either side of its banks, which is terminated by hills of considerable height. The scene at Aisier, too, is remarkably fine. The river forms quite a lake; the hills around rising to an equal height. Further on the river still widens and increases in beauty; and where Lillebonne and Quilleboeuf appear on the right and left, the prospect becomes one of surpassing splendour. At Tankerville there is a wide expanse of water, and in front the distance is too great to be definable. Honfleur, situated in a lovely valley, and Harfleur, in a pretty bay, opposite to each other, are also fine objects of view. Although we only notice a few of the more important towns, many of which possess historical interest, we passed, during the sail to Havre, several fine old châteaus, and a succession of picturesque little towns and villages, on the banks of the Seine; and having now sailed down that river three several times, we have at present an increased estimate of its attractions, which is, perhaps, the greatest compliment we can pay it.
When we arrived at the Quay at Havre, we were informed that the steamer for Southampton would sail in half an hour; and that those who wished to take a passage in her, had only sufficient time to get their passports viséed and put their luggage on board. We hesitated. But having formerly seen the little worth seeing at Havre, we did not hesitate long. Forthwith we found ourselves scudding across the Channel, and early next morning again put our foot on the shore of Old England; more than ever satisfied that for an Englishman in health it was the most suitable country in Europe.
Of the courteous reader who has given us his escort, we know not how appropriately to take leave. Possibly, however, we may meet again; and in the mean time we will bask in the hope that if on any future occasion he may encounter our lucubrations, he will not be less
of “A PROGRESS THROUGH THE CITIES OF THE LOIRE AND THE Seine."
“ Rouse man to a consciousness of what he is, and he will soon be what he ought."
- SCHELLING. Pale Man glances upwards
From Life's fitful sleep,
Save a star-lighted Deep.
O'er valleys and hills,
His yearning soul fills.
A new world reveals!
The Earth and the Sky
For he feels he is one
Here throbs not alone!
And Man can be wise
G. H. L.