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The porcelain manufactory of Sevres is an interesting place: like the revised statutes of the Medes and Persians, it never changes. It is a government institution, and every French government supports it. No matter what may happen in the revolutionary way, they go on with their pottery at Sevres. A change of government only produces a change in the initials on the teacups and saucers. By looking at these, you can always tell who was uppermost when the particular teacup in hand was manufactured. In this manufactory may be seen some of the works of Palissy, king of potters, whose brief biography by Lamartine is one of the noblest tributes to a good and faithful man ever written.
I have alluded to the Louvre, and with it may be mentioned the Luxembourg. It would be idle to attempt any description of these immense collections. In the Luxembourg may be seen a very large number of pictures familiar to Americans through copies, engravings, and even wood-cuts. Among these are several of Rosa Bonheur's pictures, and Regnault's great equestrian portrait of the famous Spanish general, Juan Prim.
One day was devoted to a visit to Champigny, the scene of the terrific fighting of the 30th of November and the 2d of December, 1870. General Ducrot, with a force consisting of National Guards and “Mobiles” — that is to say, comparatively raw troops - attempted to force the investing lines of the Prussians, expecting a similar attack on the other side by Gen. Bourbaki. We drove out along the turnpike road by which Ducrot advanced, and where he lost 1,200 men in going less than a mile. The village of Champigny is on the lower slopes of a hill, the crest of which was finally reached by the French. The hill is covered
with orchards, high stone garden-walls, and scattered houses. The narrow, steep streets of the little village were the scene of a dreadful fight, and the plastered fronts of the houses to this day are spattered all over with the traces of musket-shots. Most of the houses were riddled with shell. The new tiles showed where repairs had been effected in the shattered roofs, but many houses are still in ruins. We see in Champigny, if not in Paris, what
Much of the property is for sale. The ruined owners cannot rebuild it. It was from this scene of desolation that we went back to the little village and saw the wedding I have described in a previous letter, where everybody seemed as happy as if Bourbaki had helped Ducrot out, and as if Ducrot had not been obliged to fall back with his half-frozen army to starve in Paris. One of my companions in Champigny was a Scotchman, many years a resident of South Carolina, who had served in the Confederate army. He and myself, for the first time, had the pleasure of inspecting a battle-field in which we had no personal interest.
Of course I visited various places of amusement. ashamed to tell how much I was affected — for that is the word — by the beauty of the grand new opera house and the opera I heard therein. Tastes differ, however, and an Englishman who was present, and who I thought was a clergyman in thin disguise, objected to the opera because there was “too much singing"- an objection which struck me as having a flavor of freshness and originality about it. I afterwards heard a countryman of his growling because there was no striking mountain scenery in Holland - where, I presume, he had expected to find
it. The most “Frenchy" play I saw was the "Juif Errant” at the Porte St. Martin theater-a dramatization of Eugene Sue's romance, the “Wandering Jew.” I occupied a seat in the parquet, which, in consideration of two sous in hand paid to a bustling French woman, had a cushion on it. The gentlemen around me wore blue. blouses and had a weakness for garlic, a vegetable I do not “hanker” after as a rule. They also had a habit of climbing over me and going out between acts, thought I must acknowledge, in justice to them, that they always said, "Pardon," or "S'il vous plait," as they did it. Notwithstanding these drawbacks, the play was very enjoyable on account of the excellence of the acting. The part of Rodin, the Jesuit, was played by M. Paulin-Menier, and was a wonderful piece of work. It was easy to know the political sentiments of those about me, for where Blanche inquires of the old soldier, “Count of the empire: what is that, Dagobert ?” and he responds, “Une betise," i. e., "An absurdity,” there was a general cheer and laugh. Besides this, I went to the circus in the Champs Elysées. I believe some of the gentlemen in the ring were my countrymen; they spoke English, at any rate. But one of the most astonishing incidents at this circus was that I laughed at the clown. He did not say anything, which, perhaps, was what made him so funny; but, be that as it may, I laughed till the tears ran from these aged eyes — for the first time—at a circus -- in these last fifty or sixty years.
There are a thousand other things which interested me, but which I will not stay to describe, or attempt it. If any of my readers ever go anywhere, they will go to Paris. That is one of the things certain; and when they get there, they will be charmed, and, if they will, instructed. I trust all will be able to go, and with a somewhat higher motive than that avowed by one of my fellow-citizens, who, in the midst of the Atlantic, expressed his anxiety to be in Paris, “for,” said he, “there are five or six places where they have American mixed drinks, and they're waiting for me there."
T was “on a summer evening” that the Doctor and I bade
adieu to Monsieur and Madame and the concierge and the chambermaids and the waiters and the bootblacks at the door of the Hotel Coquilliere, and set out on a tour to and through Switzerland. A man-of-all-work attached to the house of Puisgasu accompanied us to the station with the ostensible purpose of attending to our baggage, or rather the Doctor's- a task for which we feared our French inadequate. The waiter-in connection with everybody attached to the station - contrived to go raving mad for some minutes, during which interval the baggage must have checked itself and got into the baggage-car of its own accord, but at any rate it got there.
It was with a faint twinge of homesickness that we saw the lights of Paris disappear. We had resided in that city for a whole week, and felt like old residents. For my part, I had wandered :80 much over the same ground, that it seemed as if the Street of the Good Children, and the Street of the Dry Tree, to say nothing of the Street of John James Rousseau, had been my play-ground from infancy; I had grown attached to the young fellow who hung about the great market near the Hotel Coquilliere with “Pauvre Diable” in conspicuous letters upon his cap, and grieved that I should look upon his face no more. However, the best friends must part, and so we rolled away in the purple evening