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to do honor to the memory of an individual for whom, after all, it can feel but a qualified enthusiasm : but it surely might have employed the large sum voted for the purpose more wisely and generously, and recorded its respect for Napoleon by some worthy and lasting memorial, rather than have erected yonder thousand vain heaps of tinsel, paint, and plaster, that are already cracking and crumbling in the frost, at three days old.
Scarcely one of the statues, indeed, deserves to last a month : some are odious distortions and caricatures, which never should have been allowed to stand for a moment. On the very day of the fête, the wind was shaking the canvas pedestals, and the flimsy wood-work had begun to gape and give way. At a little distance, to be sure, you could not see the cracks; the pedestals and statues looked like marble. At some distance, you could not tell but that the wreaths and eagles were gold embroidery, and not gilt paper - the great tricolor flags damask, and not striped calico. One would think that these sham splendors betokened sham respect, if one had not known that the name of Napoleon is held in real reverence, and observed somewhat of the character of the nation. Real feelings they have, but they distort them by exaggeration; real courage, which they render ludicrous by intolerable braggadocio; and I think the above official account of the Prince de Joinville's proceedings, of the manner in which the Emperor's remains have been treated in their voyage to the capital, and of the preparations made to receive him in it, will give my dear Miss Smith some means of understanding the social and moral condition of this worthy people of France.
ON THE FUNERAL CEREMONY.
SHALL I tell you, my dear, that when François woke me at a very early hour on this eventful morning, while the keen stars were still glittering overhead, a half-moon, as sharp as a razor, beaming in the frosty sky, and a wicked north wind blowing, that blew the blood out of one's fingers and froze your leg as you put it out of bed; - shall I tell you, my dear, that when François called me, and said, “V'là vot café, Monsieur Titemasse, buvez-le, tiens, il est tout chaud," I felt myself, after imbibing the hot breakfast, so comfortable under three blankets and a mackintosh, that for at least a quarter of an hour no man in Europe could say whether Titmarsh would or would not be present at the burial of the Emperor Napoleon.
Besides, my dear, the cold, there was another reason for doubting. Did the French nation, or did they not, intend to offer up some of us English over the imperial grave ? And were the games to be concluded by a massacre ? It was said in the newspapers that Lord Granville had despatched circulars to all the English resident in Paris, begging them to keep their homes. The French journals announced this news, and warned us charitably of the fate intended for us. Had Lord Granville written ? Certainly not to me. Or had he written to all except me ?
And was I the victim the doomed one ? — to be seized directly I showed my face in the Champs Élysées, and torn in pieces by French Patriotism to the frantic chorus of the “ Marseillaise ?” Depend on it, Madam, that high and low in this city on Tuesday were not altogether at their ease, and that the bravest felt no small tremor! And be sure of this, that as his Majesty Louis Philippe took his nightcap off his royal head that morning, he prayed heartily that he might, at night, put it on in safety.
Well, as my companion and I came out of doors, being bound for the Church of the Invalides, for which a Deputy had kindly furnished us with tickets, we saw the very prettiest sight of the whole day, and I can't refrain from mentioning it to my dear, tenderhearted Miss Smith.
In the same house where I live (but about five stories nearer the ground) lodges an English family, consisting of — 1. A great-grandmother, a hale, handsome old lady of seventy, the very best-dressed and neatest old lady in Paris. 2. A grandfather and grandmother, tolerably young to bear that title. 3. A daughter. And 4. Two little great-grand, or grandchildren, that may be of the age of three and one, and belong to a son and daughter who are in India. The grandfather, who is as proud of his wife as he was thirty years ago when he married, and pays her compliments still twice or thrice in a day, and when he leads her into a room looks round at the persons assembled, and says in his heart, “Here, gentlemen, here is my wife — show me such another woman in England,” - this gentleman had hired a room on the Champs Elysées, for he would not have his wife catch cold by exposing her to the balconies in the open air.
When I came to the street, I found the family assembled in the following order of march:
No. 1, the great-grandmother walking daintily along,
supported by No. 3, her granddaughter. A nurse carrying No. 4 junior, who was sound asleep :
and a huge basket containing saucepans, bottles of milk, parcels of infants' food, certain dimity napkins, a child's coral, and a little horse belonging to No. 4
senior. A servant bearing a basket of condiments. No. 2, grandfather, spick and span, clean shaved, hat
brushed, white buckskin gloves, bamboo cane, brown greatcoat, walking as upright and solemn as may be,
having his lady on his arm. No. 4, senior, with mottled legs and a tartan costume,
who was frisking about between his grand papa's legs, who heartily wished him at home.
“My dear," his face seemed to say to his lady, “I think you might have left the little things in the nursery, for we shall have to squeeze through a terrible crowd in the Champs Élysées.”
The lady was going out for a day's pleasure, and her face was full of care: she had to look first after her old mother who was walking ahead, then after No. 4 junior with the nurse - he might fall into all sorts of danger, wake up, cry, catch cold; nurse might slip down, or heaven knows what. Then she had to look her husband in the face, who had gone to such expense and been so kind for her sake, and make that gentleman believe she was thoroughly happy; and, finally, she had to keep an eye upon No. 4 senior, who, as she was perfectly certain, was about in two minutes to be lost forever, or trampled to pieces in the crowd.
These events took place in a quiet little street leading into the Champs Élysées, the entry of which we had almost reached by this time. The four detachments above described, which had been straggling a little in their passage down the street, closed up at the end of it, and stood for a moment huddled together. No. 3, Miss X-began speaking to her companion the great-grandmother.
“Hush, my dear,” said that old lady, looking round alarmed at her daughter. “Speak French.” And she straightway began nervously to make a speech which she supposed to be in that language, but which was as much like French as Iroquois. The whole secret was out: you could read it in the grandmother's face, who was doing all she could to keep from crying, and looked as frightened as she dared to look. The two elder ladies had settled between them that there was going to be a general English slaughter that day, and had brought the children with them, so that they might all be murdered in company.
God bless you, O women, moist-eyed and tenderhearted! In those gentle silly tears of yours there is something touches one, be they never so foolish. I don't think there were many such natural drops shed that day as those which just made their appearance in the grandmother's eyes, and then went back again as if they had been ashamed of themselves, while the good lady and her little troop walked across the road. Think how happy she will be when night comes, and there has been no murder of English, and the brood is all nestled under her wings sound asleep, and she is lying awake thanking God that the day and its pleasures and pains are over. Whilst we were considering these things, the grandfather had suddenly elevated No. 4 senior upon his left shoulder, and I saw the tartan hat of that young gentleman, and the bamboo cane which had been transferred to him, high over the heads of the crowd on the opposite side through which the party moved.