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The French Capital.
"France, the staple of new modes,
Where garbs and miens are current goods,
No out-of-fashion wine or meat,
And to demonstrate with sufficient reason,
What ribands, all the year, are in or out of season."
VO months ago we left this city, to go, we knew not certainly whither, to return, Providence permitting, hither. We have completed the round, from Brussels we ran over by cars to this centre of civilization and gayety, poodle dogs and grind organs, Boulevards and promenades, cafés and operas, military displays and Sunday fêtes,-every thing to divest the mind of gravity and invest it with the illusory, the transient and the mobile.
After having arrived here with such expeditious good luck, we felt like laying upon our oars and floating down the stream of Parisian life, without effort, amidst its ever-following margin of gayeties. Youth at the prow and pleasure at the helm, we have floated between promenades and gardens, flowers and temples, colors and melodies,-every object that excites the eye, ravishes the ear, and enfolds the senses in delight. surface work. It looks pretty and its novelty pleases.
This is Beneath
the surface of this gay world there lies moral filth debasement. Content to fret the surface, we have not stirred the depths of the mysteries of Paris.
The Lord Mayor of London and his train have been here
the past week, feasted guests at the Hotel de Ville, invited visitors to Versailles upon Sunday, attendants upon splendid operatic performances, and wondering gazers at the sham battle in the Champ de Mars, on the 6th of August. The Circuses have brushed up their horses and added new features to their bills; the promenades have been newly trimmed and the palaces neatly swept; the manufactories of Gobelins tapestry, and Sevres porcelain, have been freely opened, and a general entente cordiale has been celebrated between the " 'perfidious Albionites," and the testy Gauls, in which the Juries of the World's Exhibition have taken part. In fine, Paris, always a fête to the stranger, especially to a Buckeye, has been in a perfect tip-top gala ever since the Lord Mayor arrived.
1. THE GREAT SHAM BATTLE.
We have followed in the wake of the fête, seeing the ebullition and hearing the bubbling. A loud noise it made at the sham fight in the Field of Mars. Fortunately when we drove up to the field, we met the Commissary of the Police, who readily granted us, as strangers and Americans, a pass through the guards at the streets leading to the barriers. He even extended to us the courtesy of giving us a whiskered dragoon with a big hat, the specific gravity of which was very disproportionate to its bulk, by whom we were led through the crowd, and obtained a place high and aloof, commanding a view of the field.
The fight commenced with a thunder of artillery; then volleys of musketry; then parties dashed across the bridge and the fighting became close and severe,-very, about our point. Soon the whole army, except the reserves, were in action. The artillery roared, the flame flashed amid rolling volumes of smoke, the bayonets glittered through it splendidly, the cavalry in long columns, with ensigns flying, charged hollow squares, after the party on one side had driven back the assailants, and had in their turn become the assailants. It was a magnificent
sight to see the long winding trains of horsemen, forming into line and dashing off in glittering style through the cloud of dust they had raised; then, meeting a volley of cannon and guns, wheel about and take their old position. During the cavalry evolutions, the excitement of the crowd became intense. People below us in the street, were hiring fellows to let them have the use of their shoulders. Lemonade-men ceased their cries. Water-women held their breath; some of the Parisian "b'hoys," or blouses, had obtained boards and were scaling the terraces upon which the crowd, who had paid most liberally for them, were intently enjoying the spectacle. A real fight ensued; illustrating, in a twinkling, by the interest it created, how much more exciting is an atom of earnestness than an army of sham.
Stationed upon a fine terrace, overlooking the spot, we were in the midst of the roar, the smoke, the din, and the-innocency of the battle. Eighty thousand elegantly-dressed soldiers, glittering in the sun, marching in infantry, wheeling and curveting in cavalry, manoeuvring with artillery, retreating, advancing, detouring, running, throwing bridges over the Seine, carrying forts, defending walls, in solid columns, in open order, in hollow squares, in videttes, in every imaginable figure and form known to the Art of Death, by powder and steel, with trumpets sounding, cannons flashing and thundering, musketry rolling, and pennons waving; all working out upon uneven ground, and finally upon the beautiful field of Mars, the problem of the day, and that, too, without any other catastrophe than a dragoon hors de combat, is a sight that stirs the spirit, while it does not disturb the ordinary flow of human sympathy. The idea of the battle was this: a hostile force from Passy and the Bois de Bologne, which was behind us, move on to take the Ecole Militaire, a strong fortress, having the Seine in front. The heights of Chaillôt was the spot where the contest waged hottest, where the most -powder was spilt. As the smoke rolled away toward the right, the assailants were seen to have encompassed by their cavalry the infantry, to have silenced by their cannon the opposing ar
tillery; and to have occupied in beautiful array the field of Mars! Such enthusiasm, such a turn out, never could be found in any place but Paris. At least five hundred thousand people were on the grounds and heights, on the houses, columns, arches, woodpiles, and chimneys. The trees which lined the field of battle were full above, and under them was a long mass of people, stretching out at least a mile on either side. As the battle progressed, the barriers were removed, and the people rushed through in living floods to the scene. The fortress was at last taken; the troops filed off before Louis Napoleon and the Lord Mayor, the crowd broke through the barriers and inundated the Champs Elysées, where in great packed acres they stood awaiting the appearance of the President. He appeared under escort of the National Guard, when vivas long and loud went up to Napoleon! The blouses, as well as the better-dressed citizens, joined in the universal hurrah! Universal? Ah! there were a few brave fellows, who shouted "Viva la Republiqué !" I tell you that this great nation is not republican yet, save in name. There is no principle pervading the masses. Their enthusiasm is purely personal. There is no simplicity, nor love of independence in their movements. Parade, glitter, pomp, and heroworship, is the idea of Parisian society. The government which can furnish the greatest quantity of gayety and glitter, in a given time, will be, at least for a time, the pet of the people. The revolution in manners must precede all other salutary revolutions.
2. SABBATH AT VERSAILLES.
Yesterday was Sunday here. I will avouch to its being the Sunday of the Calendar; but not our good old quiet Sunday. It was a Paris Sunday, with a few extras. Of course, you would not expect us to be so Puritanic as not to see a Parisian Sunday. You might as well attempt to go to Naples without seeing Vesuvius, Aix-la-Chapelle without seeing a gambling-hell, or
Venice without seeing the prisons of the Council of Ten. We heard there was service at Versailles-Parisian service—so we There were some sixty or seventy thouAs it was the first Sunday in
struck for that point. sand bent in the same direction. the month, all the fountains were to play, and, as the fête was in progress, the Lord Mayor of London and the Exhibition Commissioners were to be there. A railroad dashed us past the far-famed palace and park of St. Cloud, into the town of Versailles. The town is of little account, though in the time of Louis XIV., when Royalty revelled so splendidly, it contained 100,000 people-one third of which number, only, are there at present. The grounds, with their green galleries and beautiful fountains, their innumerable statues, elegant orangery, intermi nable walks and flower-gardens, and the palaces, these make Versailles the great resort of the pleasure-loving and the curious. Of course, you would not expect, nor could I ever give, such a detailed description of Versailles as would reproduce it to the mind's eye. After seeing it, one should make his will. It caps the Seraglio, beats Hyde Park; the Luxembourg in Paris is tame beside it; the Brussels promenade is fine, and so is that of Naples; but where, in all our views, have we seen any thing comparable to Versailles? Whether it is the magnificent Place d'Armes, rivalling St. Peter's Piazza, guarded by the martial valor of France in the colossal statues of Condé, Turenne, and others, and all commanded by the majestic equestrian statue of Louis XIV., which is much more striking than that of Marcus Aurelius in the Capitol at Rome; whether it is the great and little Trianon, palaces famed in the history of the Queens of France, with their magnificent prospects of lawn and wood, water-sheets and water-jets, ranges of statuary, gardens of flowers and marble basins; whether it is the galleries of paintings. shaming the Vatican in the richness and taste of their decoration (indeed Napoleon as King of Italy was as free in his appropriation of Italian art, as railroads are of real estate in Ohio), and illustrating in marble the scientific, literary and martial