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in public opinion, as far as I have had opportunities of observing; and if he succeed in getting himself illegally re-elected, it can only be through the absence of any more acceptable candidate; since the ignorant or blind Napoleonist votes of the masses, which would remain after deducting the voters for the (inevitable) Red candidate, could hardly outweigh the votes of those who would support an eligible Republican name (if proposed) rather than elect a non-eligible candidate. Still, there is always the prodigious advantage on his side of being a prince, strange though it sounds; for each eminent public man feels jealous of an equal in rank, and grudges his vote to assist in his elevation, whilst a prince is already placed far above him, and his farther exaltation excites no sense of humiliation in the unsuccessful party.
“The Parisian citizens take scarcely any interest in the squabbles of their governors. The shopkeeper hopes to see his candidate, if possible, succeed; but if not, I really believe the French mind is become so much more reasonable than it was, that he will accept a legitimate defeat without being roused to anger. The longing for quiet, and to be allowed to drive their trades their own way, is become a dominant feeling, as I am told, with all ranks of Frenchmen.”
A RURAL ExCURSION IN FRANCE,
Versailles, Sept. 1, 1852,
THE weather has been so fine during the last fort. night, that to pass one's day out of doors, like “the natives,” has become well nigh a habit with strangers. By way of turning one of these beautiful days to account, we set out yesterday on a little excursion; of which I proceed to give you a brief sketch.
Quitting Versailles by the Porte de Satory, you ascend a hill, from which the traveller obtains a noble prospect over the town and surrounding country. The railroad to Chartres passes under this road; on the top of the hill stretches a wide and extensive tract of level ground, called the Plaine de Satory, well known to fame, and which certainly offers unusual advantages as a field for military displays. The road leads from this height down a pretty dell into La Minière, a narrow gorge richly wooded, forming the limit of the old Parc de Versailles of Louis Quatorze's creation. We next traversed the dull but productive Plaine de Saclé, reaching about four miles to the south-west; the whole surface being under the careful culture of large occupiers, and evidently of a fertile quality. Fruit-trees, in abundant bearing, border the road the whole way, and in some measure compensate the eye for the absence of hedges. When we had passed over this region, we found ourselves on the verge of a small but richlywooded valley, divided by a streamlet and green
meadows, with a few farm-buildings, old garden walls, and a large round structure, denoting a “colombier,” on its Northern slope. A more charming site could not have been chosen for the retreat of those who once illustrated this obscure spot. We left the carriage, and, walking a short distance, entered, not without pilgrim emotions, within the precincts of Port Royal des Champs! The destroying spirit of Persecution” has done its work most effectually, by removing all traces of the once important Abbaye, as well as those of the abodes of the “solitaires,” who sought the society of the “sisters,” and the means of mutual instruction, in these calm pleasing solitudes. Nothing remains but masses of loose masonry, and here and there a sort of crypt, with the garden-walls, of great thickness, buttressed by projecting spurs, out of which grow huge trunks of ivy, doubtless coeval with the period of Port Royal's prosperity. The colombier probably also dates from the same. The names of Arnauld, Pascal, Nicole, and, in its way, that of the Duchesse de Longueville, who filled so distinguished a place in her country's domestic history, rise to the memory as one wanders over the ground so often trodden by these contemplative recluses. No one who has learnt to value the efforts made by conscientious thinkers to advance the dignity of the human intellect, can visit this hallowed spot without reverence. The poor nuns, too, suffered their share of persecution for the sake of their mental independence, and must be numbered with the noble women who have deserved the crown of martyrdom in behalf of something more precious than a visionary belief. Reluctantly bending our steps outwards, we now once more rolled pleasantly along a macadamized road of the finest sort, through more corn country, and more beladen apple-trees, for about three-quarters of an hour; at the end of which a remarkably fine pros. pect opened out before us. From the summit of a high plateau we commanded a view of the whole magnificent valley of Dampierre, one of the most beautiful in France, of considerable extent, and presenting, what in this country has become a some. what rare feature in its landscapes—I allude to the richly-timbered park and princely seat of a real “grand seigneur.” The high ground on the farther side of this valley is entirely clothed with fine timber trees, for a long distance; whilst the other slopes offer also a goodly spectacle of mixed forest scenery, with broken heath. covered banks. The eye rests delighted on such a landscape, the like of which in England it would be difficult to quote, unless perhaps it were some such spot as Helmsley Dale, (Lord Feversham's noble demesne in Yorkshire,) or Knowle Park and its neighbourhood, in Kent. The timber of the park at Dampierre is of a still finer growth; the climate favouring the formation of forests in France in a way to excite the envy of English visitors. Ash-trees, with a clean run of bole seventy feet in length and two or more in diameter—chestnut, oak, and abele of imposing size, with vigorous large foliage and undying crowns—here furnish out a sylvan picture of surpass. ing interest to the admirer of the vegetable kingdom,
* Louis XIV. hunted the Jansenists out, and razed Port Royal to the ground, to please, it was said, Madame de Maintenon.
Winding down by a skilfully made road, we gained the lower ground, watered by the little river Yvette, and entirely devoted to pasture, the herbage of which was obviously rich and nutritive. The village of Dampierre, seated on a rise, a little above the bed of the stream, intersects, as it were, the grounds of the Château de Dampierre: before the gates of which we soon drew up, and were not a little astonished to behold a mansion of imposing size, surrounded by gardens and dressed grounds, and exhibiting every mark of the most refined récherché taste and expensive keeping-up. The house was partially destroyed during the Revolution, as were most of the residences of the noblesse; but the proprietor of this, the Duc de Chevreuse, not having emigrated, his estates were restored to him in 1815, and his son, who now bears the title of Duc de Luynes, (they alternate these titles, it seems,) caused the building to be completely repaired, so that no signs of damage are discernible. The house is of the latter period of Louis Quatorze, and was constructed after the designs of Mansard. It stands in water, on three sides, and is seated in the lowest part of the basin of the valley—looking up wide alleys cut in the park, and surrounded by trim gardens, decked with numerous orange-trees and other choice plants, ranged in their boxes along the borders. Green grass plats are carefully cherished here, being almost the only place in which I have found them: water, always at hand, enables the gardener to counteract the effects of the sun, everywhere else fatal to green-sward. South of the château, and amid wavy woods, is a lake several acres in extent, with sailing and row boats moored on its surface, The water is