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Tytler, Patrick Fraser / Travels in France during the years 1814-15 Comprising a residence at Paris, during the stay of the allied armies, and at Aix, at the period of the landing of Bonaparte, in two volumes
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TRAVELS IN FRANCE,

DURING THE YEARS

1814-15.

COMPRISING A

RESIDENCE AT PARIS DURING THE STAY OF THE ALLIED ARMIES,

AND

AT AIX,

_AT THE PERIOD OF THE LANDING OF_

BONAPARTE.

IN TWO VOLUMES.

SECOND EDITION, CORRECTED AND ENLARGED.

EDINBURGH:

PRINTED FOR MACREDIE, SKELLY, AND MUCKERSY, 52. PRINCE'S STREET;

LONGMAN, HURST. REES, ORME, AND BROWN; BLACK,

PARRY, AND CO. T. UNDERWOOD, LONDON;

AND J. CUMMING, DUBLIN.

1816.

[Transcriber's note: The original spellings have been maintained; the
French spelling and accentuation have not been corrected, but left as
they appear in the original.]




ADVERTISEMENT.


A Second Edition of the following Work having been demanded by the
Booksellers, the Author has availed himself of the opportunity to
correct many verbal inaccuracies, to add some general reflections, and
to alter materially those parts of it which were most hastily prepared
for the press, particularly the Journal in the Second Volume, by
retrenching a number of particulars of partial interest, and
substituting more general observations on the state of the country,
supplied by his own recollection and that of his fellow-travellers.

He has only farther to repeat here, what he stated in the Advertisement
to the first Edition, that the whole materials of the Publication were
collected in France, partly by himself, during a residence which the
state of his health had made adviseable in Provence, and partly by some
friends who had preceded him in their visit to France, and were at Paris
during the time when it was first occupied by the Allied Armies;--and
that he has submitted it to the world, merely in the hope of adding
somewhat to the general stock of information regarding the situation,
character, and prospects of the French people, which it is so desirable
that the English Public should possess.




CONTENTS.


VOL. I.

CHAPTER I. Journey to Paris

II. Paris--The Allied Armies

III. Paris--Its Public Buildings

IV. Environs of Paris

V. Paris--The Louvre

VI. Paris--The French Character and Manners

VII. Paris--The Theatres

VIII. Paris--The French Army and Imperial Government

IX. Journey to Flanders


VOLUME II.


CHAPTER I. Journey to Aix

II. Residence at Aix, and Journey to Bourdeaux

III. State of France under Napoleon--Anecdotes of him

IV. State of France under Napoleon--continued

V. State of Society and Manners in France

Register of the Weather




VOLUME FIRST.




CHAPTER I.

JOURNEY TO PARIS.


We passed through Kent in our way to France, on Sunday the first of May
1814. This day's journey was very delightful. The whole scenery around
us,--the richness of the fields and woods, then beginning to assume the
first colours of spring; the extent and excellence of the cultivation;
the thriving condition of the towns, and the smiling aspect of the neat
and clean villages through which we passed; the luxuriant bloom of the
fruit-trees surrounding them; the number of beautiful villas adapted to
the accommodation of the middle ranks of society, the crowds of
well-dressed peasantry going to and returning from church; the frank
and cheerful countenances of the men, and beauty of the women--all
presented a most pleasing spectacle. If we had not proposed to cross the
channel, we should have compared all that we now saw with our
recollections of Scotland; and the feeling of the difference, although
it might have increased our admiration, would perhaps have made us less
willing to acknowledge it. But when we were surveying England with a
view to a comparison with France, the difference of its individual
provinces was overlooked;--we took a pride in the apparent happiness and
comfort of a people, of whom we knew nothing more, than that they were
our countrymen; and we rejoiced, that the last impression left on our
minds by the sight of our own country, was one which we already
anticipated that no other could efface.

Our passage to Calais was rendered very interesting, by the number of
Frenchmen who accompanied us. Some of these were emigrants, who had
spent the best part of their lives in exile; the greater part were
prisoners of various ranks, who had been taken at different periods of
the war. There was evidently the greatest diversity of character, of
prospects, of previous habits, and of political and moral sentiments
among these men; the only bond that connected them was, the love of
their common country; and at a moment for which they had been so long
and anxiously looking, this was sufficient to repress all jealousy and
discord, and to unite them cordially and sincerely in the sentiment
which was expressed, with true French enthusiasm, by one of the party,
as we left the harbour of Dover,--"Voila notre chere France,--A present
nous sommes tous amis!"

As we proceeded, the expression of their emotions, in words, looks, and
gestures, was sometimes extremely pleasing, at other times irresistibly
ludicrous, but always characteristic of a people whose natural feelings
are quick and lively, and who have no idea of there being any dignity or
manliness in repressing, or concealing them. When the boat approached
the French shore, a fine young officer, who had been one of the most
amusing of our companions, leapt from the prow, and taking up a handful
of sand, kissed it with an expression of ardent feeling and enthusiastic
joy, which it was delightful to observe.

It is only on occasions of this kind, that the whole strength of the
feeling of patriotism is made known. In the ordinary routine of civil
life, this feeling is seldom awakened. In the moments of national
enthusiasm and exultation, it is often mingled with others. But in
witnessing the emotions of the French exiles and captives, on returning
to their wasted and dishonoured country, we discerned the full force of
those moral ties, by which, even in the most afflicting circumstances of
national humiliation and disaster, the hearts of men are bound to the
land of their fathers.

We landed, on the evening of the 2d, about three miles from Calais, and
walked into the town. The appearance of the country about Calais does
not differ materially from that in the immediate neighbourhood of Dover,
which is much less fertile than the greater part of Kent; but the
cottages are decidedly inferior to the English. The first peculiarity
that struck us was the grotesque appearance of the _Douaniers_, who came
to examine us on the coast; and when we had passed through the numerous
guards, and been examined at the guard-houses, previously to our
admission into the town, the gates of which had been shut, we had
already observed, what subsequent observation confirmed, that the air
and manner which we call military are in very little estimation among
the French soldiers. The general appearance of the French soldiery
cannot be better described than it has been by Mr Scott: "They seemed
rather the fragments of broken-up gangs, than the remains of a force
that had been steady, controlled, and lawful." They have almost
uniformly, officers and men, much expression of intelligence, and often
of ferocity, in their countenances, and much activity in their
movements; but there are few of them whom an Englishman, judging from
his recollection of English soldiers, would recognise to belong to a
regular army.

The lower orders of inhabitants in Calais hailed the arrival of the
English strangers with much pleasure, loudly proclaiming, however, the
interested motives of their joy. A number of blackguard-looking men
gathered round us, recommending their own services, and different
hotels, with much vehemence, and violent altercations among themselves;
and troops of children followed, crying, "Vivent les Anglois--Give me
one sous." In our subsequent travels, we were often much amused by the
importunities of the children, who seem to beg, in many places, without
being in want, and are very ingenious in recommending themselves to
travellers; crying first, Vive le Roi; if that does not succeed, Vive
l'Empereur; that failing, Vive le Roi d'Angleterre; and professing
loyalty to all the sovereigns of Europe, rather than give up the hopes
of a _sous_.

Having reached the principal inn, we found that all the places in the
diligence for Paris were taken for the ten following days. By this time,
in consequence of the communication with France being opened, several
new coaches had been established between London and Dover, but no such
measure had been thought of on the road between Calais and Paris. There
was no want of horses, as we afterwards found, belonging to the inns on
the roads, but this seemed to indicate strongly want of ready money
among the innkeepers. However, there were at Calais a number of
"voitures" of different kinds, which had been little used for several
years; one of which we hired from a "magasin des chaises," which
reminded us of the Sentimental Journey, and set out at noon on the 3d,
for Paris, accompanied by a French officer who had been a prisoner in
Scotland, and to whose kindness and attentions we were much indebted.

We were much struck with the appearance of poverty and antiquity about
Calais, which afforded a perfect contrast to the Kentish towns; and all
the country towns, through which we afterwards passed in France,
presented the same general character. The houses were larger than those
of most English country towns, but they were all old; in few places out
of repair, but nowhere newly built, or even newly embellished. There
were no newly painted houses, windows, carriages, carts, or even
sign-posts; the furniture, and all the interior arrangements of the
inns, were much inferior to those we had left; their external appearance
stately and old-fashioned; the horses in the carriages were caparisoned
with white leather, and harnessed with ropes; the men who harnessed them
were of mean appearance, and went about their work as if they had many
other kinds of work to do. There were few carts, and hardly any
four-wheeled carriages to be seen in the streets; and it was obvious
that the internal communications of this part of the country were very
limited. There appeared to be few houses fitted for the residence of
persons of moderate incomes, and hardly any villas about the town to
which they might retire after giving up business. All the lower ranks of
people, besides being much worse looking than the English, were much
more coarsely clothed, and they seemed utterly indifferent about the
appearance of their dress. Very few of the men wore beaver hats, and
hardly two had exactly the same kind of covering for their heads.

The dress of the women of better condition, particularly their
high-crowned bonnets, and the ruffs about their necks, put us in mind of
the pictures of old English fashions. The lower people appeared to bear
a much stronger resemblance to some of the Highland clans, and to the
Welch, than to any other inhabitants of Britain.

On the road between Calais and Boulogne, we began to perceive the
peculiarities of the husbandry of this part of France. These are just
what were described by Arthur Young; and although it is possible, as the
natives uniformly affirm, that the agriculture has improved since the
revolution, this improvement must be in the details of the operations,
and in the extent of land under tillage, not in the principles of the
art. The most striking to the eye of a stranger are the want of
enclosures, the want of pasture lands and of green crops, and the
consequent number of bare fallows, on many of which a few sheep and
long-legged lean hogs are turned out to pick up a miserable subsistence.
The common rotation appears to be a three year's one; fallow, wheat, and
oats or barley. On this part of the road, the ground is almost all under
tillage, but the soil is poor; there is very little wood, and the
general appearance of the country is therefore very bleak. In the
immediate neighbourhood of Boulogne, it is better clothed, and varied
by some pasture fields and gardens. The ploughs go with wheels. They are
drawn by only two horses, but are clumsily made, and evidently inferior
to the Scotch ploughs. They, as well as the carts, are made generally of
green unpeeled wood, like those in the Scotch Highlands, and are never
painted. This absence of all attempt to give an air of neatness or
smartness to any part of their property--this indifference as to its
appearance, is a striking characteristic of the French people over a
great part of the country.

It is likewise seen, as before observed, in the dress of the lower
orders; but here it is often combined with a fantastic and ludicrous
display of finery. An English dairy-maid or chamber-maid, ploughman or
groom, shopkeeper or mechanic, has each a dress consistent in its parts,
and adapted to the situation and employment of the wearer. But a country
girl in France, whose bed-gown and petticoat are of the coarsest
materials, and scantiest dimensions, has a pair of long dangling
ear-rings, worth from 30 to 40 francs. A carter wears an opera hat, and
a ballad-singer struts about in long military boots; and a blacksmith,
whose features are obscured by the smoke and dirt which have been
gathering on them for weeks, and whose clothes hang about him in
tatters, has his hair newly frizzled and powdered, and his long queue
plaited on each side, all down his back, with the most scrupulous
nicety.

Akin to this shew of finery in some parts of their dress, utterly
inconsistent with the other parts of it, and with their general
condition, is the disposition of the lower orders in France, even in
their intercourse with one another, to ape the manners of their
superiors. "An English peasant," as Mr Scott has well remarked, "appears
to spurn courtesy from him, in a bitter sense of its inapplicability to
his condition." This feeling is unknown in France. A French soldier
hands his "bien aimée" into a restaurateur's of the lowest order and
supplies her with fruits and wine, with the grace and foppery of a
Parisian "petit maitre," and with the gravity of a
"philosophe."--"Madame," says a scavenger in the streets of Paris,
laying his hand on his heart, and making a low bow to an old woman
cleaning shoes at the door of an inn, "J'espere que vous vous portez
bien."--"Monsieur," she replies, dropping a curtsey with an air of
gratitude and profound respect, "Vous me faites d'honneur; je me porte a
merveille."

This peculiarity of manner in the lower orders, will generally, it is
believed, be found connected with their real degradation and
insignificance in the eyes of their superiors. It is precisely because
they are not accustomed to look with respect to those of their own
condition, and because their condition is not respected by others, that
they imitate the higher ranks. An English coachman or stable-boy is
taught to believe, that a certain demeanour befits his situation; and he
will certainly expose himself to more sneers and animadversions, by
assuming the manners of the rank next above him in society, than the
highest peer of the realm will by assuming his. But Frenchmen of the
same rank are fain to seek that respectability from manner, which is
denied to the lowness of their condition, and the vulgarity of their
occupation; and they therefore assume the manner which is associated in
their minds, and in the minds of their observers, with situations
acknowledged to be respectable.

It is also to be observed, that the power of ridicule, which has so much
influence in the formation of manner, is much less in France than in
England. The French have probably more relish for true wit than any
other people; but their perception of humour is certainly not nearly so
strong as that of our countrymen. Their ridicule is seldom excited by
the awkward attempts of a stranger to speak their language, and as
seldom by the inconsistencies which appear to us ludicrous in the dress
and behaviour of their countrymen.

These causes, operating gradually for a length of time, have probably
produced that remarkable politeness of manners which is so pleasing to a
stranger, in a number of the lower orders in France, and which appears
so singular at the present time, as revolutionary ideas, military
habits, and the example of a military court, have given a degree of
roughness, and even ferocity, to the manners of many of the higher
orders of Frenchmen, with which it forms a curious contrast. It is,
however, in its relation to Englishmen at least, a fawning, cringing,
interested politeness; less truly respectable than the obliging civility
of the common people in England, and in substance, if not in appearance,
still farther removed from the frank, independent, disinterested
courtesy of the Scottish Highlanders.

* * *

Our entry into Boulogne was connected with several striking
circumstances. To an Englishman, who, for many years, had heard of the
mighty preparations which were made by the French in the port of
Boulogne for the invasion of this country, the first view of this town
could not but be peculiarly interesting. We accordingly got out of our
_voiture_ as quickly as possible, and walked straight to the harbour.
Here the first objects that presented themselves were, on one side, the
last remains of the grand flotilla, consisting of a few hulks,
dismantled and rotting in the harbour; on the other side, the Prussian
soldiers drawn up in regiments on the beach. Nothing could have recalled
to our minds more strongly the strength of that power which our country
had so long opposed, nor the magnificent result which had at length
attended her exertions. The forces destined for the invasion, and which
were denominated by anticipation the army of England, had been encamped
around the town. The characteristic arrogance--the undoubting
anticipation of victory--the utter thoughtlessness--the unsinking
vivacity of the French soldiery, were then at the highest pitch. Some
little idea of the gay and light-hearted sentiments with which they
contemplated the invasion of England, may be formed from the following
song, which was sung to us with unrivalled spirit and gesticulation, as
we came in sight of Boulogne, by our fellow-traveller, who had himself
served in the army of England, and who informed us it was then commonly
sung in the ranks.

SONG.

Français! le bal va se r'ouvrir,
Et vous aimez la danse,
L'Allemande vient de finir,
Mais l'Anglaise commence.

D'y figurer tous nous Français
Seront parbleu bien aises,
Car s'ils n'aiment pas les Anglais,
Ils aiment les Anglaises.

D'abord par le pas de Calais
Il faut entrer en danse,
Le son des instrumens Français
Marquera la cadence;

Et comme les Anglais ne scanroient
Que danser les Anglaises,
Bonaparte leur montrera
Les figures Françaises.

Allons mes amis de grand rond,
En avant, face a face,
Français le bas, restez d'a plomb,
Anglais changez les places.

Vous Monsieur Pitt vous balancez,
Formez la chaine Anglaise,
Pas de cotè--croisez--chassez--
C'est la danse Française!

The humour of this song depends on the happy application of the names of
the French dances, and the terms employed in them, to the subjects on
which it is written, the conclusion of the German campaigns, and the
meditated invasion of England.

The Prussians who were quartered at Boulogne, and all the adjoining
towns and villages, belonged to the corps of General Von York. Most of
the infantry regiments were composed in part of young recruits, but the
old soldiers, and all the cavalry, had a truly military appearance; and
their swarthy weather-beaten countenances, their coarse and patched, but
strong and serviceable dresses and accoutrements, the faded embroidery
of their uniforms, and the insignia of orders of merit with which almost
all the officers, and many of the men, were decorated, bore ample
testimony to their participation in the labours and the honours of the
celebrated army of Silesia.

Some of them who spoke French, when we enquired where they had been,
told us, in a tone of exultation, rather than of arrogance, that they
had entered Paris--"le sabre a la main."

The appearance of the country is considerably better in Picardy than in
Artois, but the general features do not materially vary until you reach
the Oise. The peasantry seem to live chiefly in villages, through which
the road passes, and the cottages composing which resemble those of
Scotland more than of England. They are generally built in rows; many of
them are white-washed, but they are very dirty, and have generally no
gardens attached to them; and a great number of the inhabitants seem
oppressed with poverty to a degree unknown in any part of Britain. The
old and infirm men and women who assembled round our carriage, when it
stopped in any of these villages, to ask for alms, appeared in the most
abject condition; and so far from observing, as one English traveller
has done, that there are few beggars in France, it appeared to us that
there are few inhabitants of many of these country villages who are
ashamed to beg.

To this unfavourable account of the aspect of this part of France, there
are, however, exceptions: We were struck with the beauty of the village
of Nouvion, between Montreuil and Abbeville, which resembles strongly
the villages in the finest counties of England: The houses here have all
gardens surrounding them, which are the property of the villagers. In
the neighbourhood of Abbeville, and of Beauvais, there are also some
neat villages; and the country around these towns is rich, and well
cultivated, and beautifully diversified with woods and vineyards; and,
in general, in advancing southwards, the country, though still
uninclosed, appears more fertile and better clothed. Many of the
villages are surrounded with orchards, and long rows of fruit-trees
extend from some of them for miles together along the sides of the
roads; long regular rows of elms and Lombardy poplars are also very
common, particularly on the road sides; and, in some places, chateaux
are to be seen, the situation of which is generally delightful; but most
of them are uninhabited, or inhabited by poor people, who do not keep
them in repair; and their deserted appearance contributes even more than
the straight avenues of trees, and gardens laid out in the Dutch taste,
which surround them, to confirm the impression of _antiquity_ which is
made on the mind of an Englishman, by almost all that he sees in
travelling through France.

The roads in this, as in many other parts of the country, are paved in
the middle, straight, and very broad, and appear adapted to a much more
extensive intercourse than now exists between the different provinces.

The country on the banks of the Oise, (which we crossed at Beaumont),
and from thence to Paris, is one of the finest parts of France. The
road passes, almost the whole way, through a majestic avenue of elm
trees: Instead of the continual recurrence of corn fields and fallows,
the eye is here occasionally relieved by the intervention of fields of
lucerne and saintfoin, orchards and vineyards; the country is rich, well
clothed with wood, and varied with rising grounds, and studded with
chateaux; there are more carriages on the roads and bustle in the inns,
and your approach to the capital is very obvious. Yet there are strong
marks of poverty in the villages, which contain no houses adapted to the
accommodation of the middling ranks of society; the soil is richer, but
the implements of agriculture, and the system of husbandry, are very
little better than in Picardy: the cultivation, every where tolerable,
is nowhere excellent; there are no new farm-houses or farm-steadings; no
signs of recent agricultural improvements; and the chateaux, in general,
still bear the aspect of desertion and decay.

This last peculiarity of French scenery is chiefly owing to the great
subdivision of property which has taken place in consequence of the
confiscation of church lands, and properties of the noblesse and
emigrants, and of the subsequent sale of the national domains, at very
low or even nominal prices, to the lower orders of the peasantry. To
such a degree has this subdivision extended, that in many parts of
France there is no proprietor of land who does not labour with his own
hands in the cultivation of his property. The influence of this state of
property on the prosperity of France, and the gradual changes which it
will undergo in the course of time, will form an interesting study for
the political economist; but in the mean time, it will almost prevent
the possibility of collecting an adequate number of independent and
enlightened men to represent the landed interest of France in any system
of national representation.

In travelling from Calais to Paris, we did not observe so great a want
of men in the fields and villages as we had been led to expect. The men
whom we saw, however, were almost all above the age of the conscription.
In several places we saw women holding the plough; but in general, the
proportion of women to men employed in the fields, appeared hardly
greater than may be seen during most of the operations of husbandry in
the best cultivated districts of Scotland. On inquiry among the
peasants, we found the conscription, and the whole of Bonaparte's system
of government, held in much abhorrence, particularly among the women;
yet they did not appear to feel it so deeply as we had anticipated; and
of him, individually, they were more disposed to speak in terms of
ridicule than of indignation. "Il est parti pour l'ile d'Elbe (said
they)--bon voyage!" It was obvious that public affairs, even in those
critical moments, occupied much less of their attention than of persons
of the same rank in England: their spirits are much less easily
depressed; and it was easy to see that their domestic affections are
less powerful. The men shewed much jealousy of the allied troops: said
they were superior to the French only in numbers; and often repeated,
that one French soldier was equal to two Russians.

Although the old men and women whom we saw in the villages were
generally in the most abject condition, yet the labourers employed in
the fields appeared nearly as well dressed as the corresponding class in
England; their wages were stated to be, over most of the country, from
one franc to 25 sous a-day, and in the immediate neighbourhood of Paris,
to be as high as two, or even three francs. In some places, we saw them
dining on bread, pork, and cyder; but the scarcity of live stock was
such, that it was impossible to suppose that they usually enjoyed so
good a fare. The interior of the cottages appeared, generally, to be ill
furnished.

Every village and town through which we passed between Boulogne and
Paris contained a number of the allied troops. At Beauvais, a town
remarkable for its singular appearance, being almost entirely built of
wood, and likewise for the beauty of its cathedral, the choir of which
is reckoned the finest in France, we were first gratified with the sight
of some hundreds of Russians, horse and foot, under arms. These troops
were of the finest description, and belonged to the corps of the
celebrated Wigtenstein.

We enquired of many of the lower people, in the towns and villages
through which we passed, concerning the conduct of the allied troops in
their quarters, and the answers were almost uniformly--from the men,
"Ils se comportent bien;" (frequently with the addition, "mais ils
mangent comme des diables:")--and from the women, "Ils sont de bons
enfans." We had very frequent opportunities of remarking the truth of
the observation, that "women have less bitterness against the enemies of
their country than men." The Parisian ladies adopted fashions from the
uniforms of almost all the allied troops whom they saw in Paris; many of
them were exceedingly anxious for opportunities of seeing the Emperor of
Russia, and the most distinguished leaders of the armies that had
conquered France; and those who were acquainted with officers of rank
belonging to these armies appeared, on all occasions, to be highly
flattered with the attentions they received from them. The same was
observable in the conduct of the lower ranks. In the suburbs of Paris,
and in the neighbouring villages, where many of the allied troops were
quartered, they appeared always on the best terms with the female
inhabitants, and were often to be seen assisting them in their work,
playing at the battledore and shuttlecock with them in the streets, or
strolling in their company along the banks of the Seine, and through the
woods of Belleville or St Cloud, evidently to the satisfaction of both
parties. Much must be allowed for the national levity of the French; yet
it may be doubted, whether the officers and soldiers of a victorious
army are ever, in the first instance, very obnoxious to the females,
even of a vanquished country.




CHAPTER II.

PARIS--THE ALLIED ARMIES.


To those whose attention had been long fixed on the great political
revulsion which had brought the wandering tribes of the Wolga and the
Don into the heart of France, and whose minds had been incessantly
occupied for many months previous to the time of which we speak, (as the
minds of almost all Englishmen had been), with wishes for the success,
and admiration of the exploits, of the brave troops who then occupied
Paris, it may naturally be supposed, that even all the wonders of that
capital were, in the first instance, objects of secondary consideration.
It was not until our curiosity had been satisfied by the sight of the
Emperor Alexander, the Duke of Wellington, Marshal Blucher, Count
Platoff, and such numbers of the Russian and Prussian officers and
soldiers, as we considered a fair specimen of the whole armies, that we
could find time to appreciate the beauties even of the Apollo and the
Venus.

The streets of Paris are always amusing and interesting, from the
numbers and varieties of costumes and characters which they present; but
at the time of which we speak, they might be considered as exhibiting an
epitome of the greater part of Europe. Parties of Russian cuirassiers,
Prussian lancers, and Hungarian hussars; Cossacks, old and young, from
those whose beards were grey with age, to those who were yet beardless,
cantering along after their singular fashion--their long lances poised
on their stirrups, and loosely fastened to their right arms, vibrating
over their heads; long files of Russian and Prussian foragers, and long
trains of Austrian baggage waggons, winding slowly through the crowd;
idle soldiers of all services, French as well as allied, lounging about
in their loose great coats and trowsers, with long crooked pipes hanging
from their mouths; patroles of infantry parading about under arms,
composed half of Russian grenadiers, and half of Parisian national
guards; Russian coaches and four, answering to the description of Dr
Clarke, the postillions riding on the off-horses, and dressed almost
like beggars; Russian carts drawn by four horses a-breast, and driven by
peasants in the national costume; Polish Jews, with long black beards,
dressed in black robes like the cassocks of English clergymen, with
broad leathern belts--all mingled with the Parisian multitude upon the
Boulevards: and in the midst of this indiscriminate assemblage, all the
business, and all the amusements of Paris, went on with increased
alacrity and fearless confidence. The Palais Royal was crowded, morning,
noon, and night, with Russian and Prussian officers in full uniform,
decorated with orders, whose noisy merriment, cordial manners, and
careless profusion, were strikingly contrasted with the silence and
sullenness of the French officers.

It is fortunately superfluous for us to enlarge on the appearance, or on
the character of the Emperor Alexander. We were struck with the
simplicity of the style in which he lived. He inhabited only one or two
apartments in a wing of the splendid Elysee Bourbon--slept on a leather
mattress, which he had used in the campaign--rose at four in the
morning, to transact business--wore the uniform of a Russian General,
with only the medal of 1812, (the same which is worn by every soldier
who served in that campaign, with the inscription, in Russ, _Non nobis
sed tibi Domine_); had a French guard at his door--went out in a chaise
and pair, with a single servant and no guards, and was very regular in
his attendance at a small chapel, where the service of the Greek church
was performed. We had access to very good information concerning him,
and the account which we received of his character even exceeded our
anticipation. His well-known humanity was described to us as having
undergone no change from the scenes of misery inseparable from extended
warfare, to which his duties, rather than his inclinations, had so long
habituated him. He repeatedly left behind him, in marching with the
army, some of the medical men of his own staff, to dress the wounds of
French soldiers whom he passed on the way; and it was a standing order
of his to his hospital staff, to treat wounded Russians and French
exactly alike.

His conduct at the battle of Fere Champenoise, a few days before the
capture of Paris, of which we had an account from eye-witnesses, may
give an idea of his conduct while with the armies. The French column,
consisting of about 5000 infantry, with some artillery, was attacked by
the advanced guard of the allies, consisting of cavalry, with some
horse-artillery, under his immediate orders. It made a desperate
resistance, and its capture being an object of great importance, he sent
away all his guards, even the Cossacks, and exposed himself to the fire
of musketry for a long time, directing the movements of the troops. When
the French squares were at length broken by the repeated charges of
cavalry and Cossacks, he threw himself into the middle of them, at a
great personal risk, that he might restrain the fury of the soldiers,
exasperated by the obstinacy of the resistance; and although he could
not prevent the whole French officers and men from being completely
pillaged, many of them owed their lives to his interference. The French
commander was brought to him, and offered him his sword, which he
refused to accept, saying, he had defended himself too well.

The wife and children of a General who had been with the French army,
were brought to him, and he placed a guard over them, which was
overpowered in the confusion. The unfortunate woman was never more heard
of, but he succeeded in recovering the children, had a bed made for them
in his own tent, and kept them with him, until he reached Paris, when he
ordered enquiry to be made for some of her relations, to whose care he
committed them.

He was uniformly represented to us as a man not merely of the most
amiable dispositions, but of superior understanding, of uncommon
activity, and of a firm decided turn of mind. Of the share which he
individually had in directing the operations of the allied armies, we do
not pretend to speak with absolute certainty; but we had reason to know,
that the general opinion in the Russian army was, that the principal
movements were not merely subjected to his control, but guided by his
advice; and he was certainly looked upon, by officers who had long
served under him, as one of the ablest commanders in the allied armies.

He was much disconcerted, it was said, by the loss of the battle of
Austerlitz; but his subsequent experience in war had given him the true
military obstinacy, and he bore the loss of the battles of Lutzen and
Bautzen with perfect equanimity; often saying, the French can still beat
us, but they will teach us how to beat them; and we will conquer them by
our _pertinacity_. The attachment of the Russian army, and especially of
the guards, to him, almost approaches to idolatry; and the effect of his
presence on the exertions and conduct of his troops, was not more
beneficial to Europe while the struggle was yet doubtful, than to France
herself after her armies were overthrown, and her "sacred territory"
invaded.

As a specimen of the general feeling in the Russian army at the time
they invaded France, we may mention the substance of a conversation
which an officer of the Russian staff told us he had held with a private
of the Russian guard on the march, soon after the invasion. The soldier
complained of the Emperor's proclamation, desiring them to consider as
enemies only those whom they met in the field. "The French," said he,
"came into our country, bringing hosts of Germans and Poles along with
them;--they plundered our properties, burnt our houses, and murdered our
families;--every Russian was their enemy. We have driven them out of
Russia, we have followed them into Poland, into Germany, and into
France; but wherever we go, we are allowed to find none but friends.
This," he added, "is very well for us guards, who know that pillage is
unworthy of us; but the common soldiers and Cossacks do not understand
it; they remember how their friends and relations have been treated by
the French, and that remembrance _lies at their hearts_."

* * *

We visited with deep interest the projecting part of the heights of
Belleville, immediately overlooking the Fauxbourg St Martin, which the
Emperor Alexander reached, with the king of Prussia, the Prince
Schwartzenburg, and the whole general staff, on the evening of the 30th
of March. It was here that he received the deputation from Marshals
Marmont and Mortier, who had fought all day against a vast superiority
of force, and been fairly overpowered, recommending Paris to the
generosity of the allies. Thirty howitzers were placed on this height,
and a few shells were thrown into the town, one or two of which, we were
assured, reached as far as the Eglise de St Eustace; it is allowed on
all hands that they fell within the Boulevards. The heights of
Montmartre were at the same time stormed by the Silesian army, and
cannon were placed on it likewise,--Paris was then at his mercy. After a
year and a half of arduous contest, it was at length in his power to
take a bloody revenge for the miseries which his subjects had suffered
during the unprovoked invasion of Russia.--He ordered the firing to
cease; assured the French deputation of his intention to protect the
city; and issued orders to his army to prepare to march in, the next
morning, in parade order. He put himself at their head, in company with
the King of Prussia, and all the generals of high rank. After passing
along the Boulevards to the Champs Elysees, the sovereigns placed
themselves under a tree, in front of the palace of the Thuilleries,
within a few yards of the spot where Louis XVI. and many other victims
of the revolution had perished; and they saw the last man of their
armies defile past the town, and proceed to take a position beyond it,
before they entered it themselves.

At this time, the recollection of the fate of Moscow was so strong in
the Russian army, and the desire of revenge was so generally diffused,
not merely among the soldiers, but even among the superior, officers,
that they themselves said, nothing could have restrained them but the
presence and positive commands of their Czar; nor could any other
influence have maintained that admirable discipline in the Russian army,
during its stay in France, which we have so often heard the theme of
panegyric even among their most inveterate enemies.

It is not in the columns of newspapers, nor in the perishable pages of
such a Journal as this, that the invincible determination, the splendid
achievements, and the generous forbearance of the Emperor of Russia and
his brave army, during the last war, can be duly recorded; but when they
shall have passed into history, we think we shall but anticipate the
sober judgment of posterity by saying, that the foreign annals of no
other nation, ancient or modern, will present, in an equal period of
time, a spectacle of equal moral grandeur.

* * *

The King of Prussia was often to be seen at the Parisian theatres,
dressed in plain clothes, and accompanied only by his son and nephew.
The first time we saw him there, he was making some enquiries of a
manager of the Theatre de l'Odeon, whom he met in the lobby; and the
modesty and embarrassment of his manner were finely contrasted with the
confident loquacity and officious courtesy of the Frenchman.



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Main -> Tytler, Patrick Fraser -> Travels in France during the years 1814-15 Comprising a residence at Paris, during the stay of the allied armies, and at Aix, at the period of the landing of Bonaparte, in two volumes