LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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The Autobiography of William Jerdan
Ch. 22: Paris in 1814

Vol. I. Front Matter
Ch. 1: Introductory
Ch. 2: Childhood
Ch. 3: Boyhood
Ch. 4: London
Ch. 5: Companions
Ch. 6: The Cypher
Ch. 7: Edinburgh
Ch. 8: Edinburgh
Ch. 9: Excursion
Ch. 10: Naval Services
Ch. 11: Periodical Press
Ch. 12: Periodical Press
Ch. 13: Past Times
Ch. 14: Past Times
Ch. 15: Literary
Ch. 16: War & Jubilees
Ch. 17: The Criminal
Ch. 18: Mr. Perceval
Ch. 19: Poets
Ch. 20: The Sun
Ch. 21: Sun Anecdotes
‣ Ch. 22: Paris in 1814
Ch. 23: Paris in 1814
Ch. 24: Byron
Vol. I. Appendices
Scott Anecdote
Burns Anecdote
Life of Thomson
John Stuart Jerdan
Scottish Lawyers
Sleepless Woman
Canning Anecdote
Southey in The Sun
Hood’s Lamia
Murder of Perceval
Vol. II. Front Matter
Ch. 1: Literary
Ch. 2: Mr. Canning
Ch. 3: The Sun
Ch. 4: Amusements
Ch. 5: Misfortune
Ch. 6: Shreds & Patches
Ch. 7: A Character
Ch. 8: Varieties
Ch. 9: Ingratitude
Ch. 10: Robert Burns
Ch. 11: Canning
Ch. 12: Litigation
Ch. 13: The Sun
Ch. 14: Literary Gazette
Ch. 15: Literary Gazette
Ch. 16: John Trotter
Ch. 17: Contributors
Ch. 18: Poets
Ch 19: Peter Pindar
Ch 20: Lord Munster
Ch 21: My Writings
Vol. II. Appendices
The Satirist.
Authors and Artists.
The Treasury
Morning Chronicle
Chevalier Taylor
Foreign Journals
Vol. III. Front Matter
Ch. 1: Literary Pursuits
Ch. 2: Literary Labour
Ch. 3: Poetry
Ch. 4: Coleridge
Ch 5: Criticisms
Ch. 6: Wm Gifford
Ch. 7: W. H. Pyne
Ch. 8: Bernard Barton
Ch. 9: Insanity
Ch. 10: The R.S.L.
Ch. 11: The R.S.L.
Ch. 12: L.E.L.
Ch. 13: L.E.L.
Ch. 14: The Past
Ch. 15: Literati
Ch. 16: A. Conway
Ch. 17: Wellesleys
Ch. 18: Literary Gazette
Ch. 19: James Perry
Ch. 20: Personal Affairs
Vol. III. Appendices
Literary Poverty
Ismael Fitzadam
Mr. Tompkisson
Mrs. Hemans
A New Review
Debrett’s Peerage
Procter’s Poems
Poems by Others
Poems by Jerdan
Vol. IV. Front Matter
Ch. 1: Critical Glances
Ch. 2: Personal Notes
Ch. 3: Fresh Start
Ch. 4: Thomas Hunt
Ch. 5: On Life
Ch. 6: Periodical Press
Ch. 7: Quarterly Review
Ch. 8: My Own Life
Ch. 9: Mr. Canning
Ch. 10: Anecdotes
Ch. 11: Bulwer-Lytton
Ch. 12: G. P. R. James
Ch. 13: Finance
Ch. 14: Private Life
Ch. 15: Learned Societies
Ch. 16: British Association
Ch. 17: Literary Characters
Ch. 18: Literary List
Ch. 19: Club Law
Ch. 20: Conclusion
Vol. IV. Appendix
Gerald Griffin
W. H. Ainsworth
James Weddell
The Last Bottle
N. T. Carrington
The Literary Fund
Letter from L.E.L.
Geographical Society
Baby, a Memoir
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PARIS IN 1814. 175

PARIS IN 1814.
’Tis light and air again; and lo! the Seine,
Yon boasted, lazy, lurid, fetid drain!
With paper booths and painted trees o’erlaid,
Baths, blankets, wash-tubs, every thing but trade.
Around our way-laid wheels the paupers crowd,
Naked, contagious, cringing, and yet proud.
The whole a mass of folly, filth, and strife,
Of heated, rank, corrupting reptile life.

The year 1813 departed amid such an extraordinary dense atmosphere, that its vale was truly written—
Eighteen hundred and thirteen, I bid you adieu,
In the dark to eternity jog;
Before you took leave you had got out of view,
And now you are lost in a fog.
A bright beam, however, shot through the mist of the theatrical sphere in its successor; for on the 27th of January,
Kean made his debut at Drury Lane in “Shylock,” and produced an immense sensation, which was kept up by various means, as well as by his extraordinary talent, for a number of succeeding years, I witnessed his first appearance, and was much struck by those qualities which were afterwards more fully developed in “Richard the Third,” “Othello,” and other characters suited to his physique and
genius, and partially distinguished in his less triumphant parts of “Romeo,” “Hamlet,” “Lear,” and others.

The famous Frost Fair on the Thames, when sheep were roasted, or rather scorched, whole on the ice; and printing-presses did their best for the ready, useless, and popular authorship of the day—as if there were not always ice and coldness enough in the world for authors of every sort—also took place this season; and the public was fleeced by the productions on both sides, which were rather dear, though sold cheap. The ice, fortunately, did not last long enough to create a new literature, like the railroads in our time.

The British Institution for the exhibition, sale, and reward of works of Art asserted its important mission in a way to fix and raise it in universal estimation, and it was my pleasing task (on which I look back with unmitigated satisfaction) to commence that course of especial attention to the subject of the Fine Arts, and the merits of our native school, in which I never ceased to exert my utmost power during the six-and-thirty years that have since elapsed, and whilst I held the pen of a periodical writer in publications of sufficient authority to guide the judgment and influence the taste of the country. In this respect I fear not the accusation of egotism; but as I shall have to speak more at large on the matter, at a later period, I will now only invite my readers to look at the relation of the press to our national arts, and the condition of the latter before I began and set the example of this practice, and their positions in the present day: forty years ago they hardly obtained an occasional and scanty notice, and in 1852 there is no species of publicity that is not accorded to them. There is, no doubt, much of ignorance and folly mixed up with the innovation, but altogether it has a very material tendency to foster the arts and benefit artists.

PARIS IN 1814. 177

The famous stock-jobbing hoax helped to enliven the home circles; but Buonaparte was not dead though its contrivers said he was, yet driven to his last resources, and finally compelled to resign his imperial crown, and assume the less prominent regalia of Elba; an account of which island, by the by, I afterwards published in an octavo volume, now, I dare say, “scarce,” at least, I have not a copy, nor do I know where to get one.* I shall have to beg the favour of my friends in “Notes and Queries” to help me to repair some of my vacuities, should the appearance of this volume fail to stir up the kindness of other friends to the “Articles Wanted.”

Yet though Napoleon was alive his dominion was over, and France was opened to the incursions of every description of travellers, and a rush was made to see the country which had been all but hermetically sealed against English footsteps and English eyes since the rupture of the truce (peace?) of Amiens. It may readily be imagined that the conductor of a ministerial newspaper must have had an irresistible vocation to visit Paris; and, by the favour of my friend, Mr. Freeling, I secured the earliest passage, by the first regular packet, the “Lady Francis,” in which I sailed from Dover on the 19th of April, leaving Mr. Robert Clarke my able locum tenens in the glorifying “Sun!” Two days later Buonaparte quitted Fontainebleau for his destination, and I was disappointed in my object to see the conquered Conqueror about whom I had written and printed so much, ever opposing his hostility, and ever hoping (and ultimately predicting) his fall. Strange was it, and is it, to me that the adherence to him among Englishmen should

* Voyage to the Isle of Elba, by W. Jerdan, from the French of Arsenne de Berneaud, who had recently visited the. Island, dedicated to Mr. Charles Long. June, 1814. Longman & Co.

ever have existed, and stranger still that it should have lasted to his overthrow, survived that disaster, and revived with his return from the Island to which he was banished at this time. To such unaccountable and pertinacious partizanship—it was nothing less—a sort of key may be supplied by a whimsical anecdote, in which self-interest seemed to outweigh patriotism. On the day when Napoleon’s escape from Elba and landing in France was made known in London, I was leaving my office in the Strand, about 5 o’clock, having struck off some second and third editions, as used formerly to be the case, till the lack of interesting news caused the custom to drop. At the door I was accosted by a pale, meagre fellow, who looked as if he had blown away all his pith and strength through the horn he held in his hand, without a return in the shape of provision or gin to recruit them, but who was shouting at the top of all the voice he had left, and laughing as if he had drawn a prize in the lottery. I recognised one of our old customers, in the thriving and merry multiple-edition times, and he came up to me, offering his dirty digits to shake, and exclaiming, “hurra, sir, thank Heaven! our old friend Bonny’s got loose again: there’ll be rare fun: hurra! old Bonny for ever! hurra!” The only excuse I can offer for this patriot is, that he was evidently half seas over. But to revert to my Paris trip.

On the shore at Dover I witnessed an incident which would have inspired Sterne with an exquisite picture of sentiment, but which, as mine was not a sentimental journey, I shall merely notice. A beautiful young lady, apparently little more, if more, than twenty years of age, was landed from the opposite coast from a boat; and the moment she touched free British ground, she threw herself on her knees upon it, literally embraced it with her outstretched arms, and amid a flood of tears breathed blessings upon it
PARIS IN 1814.179
and the hour which had restored her, after eleven years absence and captivity in a foreign land. What the circumstances were, I could not know, but they must have been remarkable to excite such overwhelming emotions, and demonstrate at least that our fair countrywoman had no cause to be a Buonapartist admirer.

The landing at Calais was a novelty and a treat, and the journey to Paris in a hired cabriolet, from M. Quillaeq, of Dessein’s Hotel (hire 100 francs) as widely different from the present mode as if centuries had elapsed. The name of Buonaparte was, generally, most irreverently and even abusively mentioned by all classes, whose motives I do not seek to investigate, but simply state the fact; only venturing to hint that the expected influx of English money, the desire to please English visitors, the real feeling of a release from oppression, a wish for peace, a love of change, the presence of foreign troops in larger or smaller numbers throughout the provinces, and above all, the detestation of the conscription, which had drained the people to the last extremity, might contribute, altogether, to the rejoicing with which the great change in the national system was hailed. It is strictly true that on the entire road from Calais to Paris, I hardly met or saw, any men in the prime of life, except the postillions who drove us—all had been torn away by the ruthless requisitions of war: old men, women, and children, were performing every work of husbandry and business, and yet the hedgeless lands seemed to be teeming with plenty, the corn crops rich and promising, the trees fruitful, the farm produce of poultry, eggs, and vegetables abundant, but no show of cattle or sheep, and but for the absence of the male population and the severe labour imposed on women, who were literally doing the work of the horses consumed in warfare, everything wearing a smile of
prosperity. The human race alone was desolate; for all “the flowers of the forest were weeded away.” In other respects the country differed little from the description of a hundred years ago, though the beggars were much more numerous and miserable; and one could not surmise whence either these bands of mendicants,—the crippled, the blind, the wounded, and the worn-out—or the work-people, came from; for there was between the towns only a succession of fields as wide as Salisbury Plain, and no appearance of habitations for those who were cultivating them.

From Boulogne to the capital was one exhibition of white flags; and Russian and Prussian troops were scattered about the famous invasion tower, from which the English shores had been contemplated with many a wistful look! Travelling and changing horses through a very cold night, my companion a French gentleman, we breakfasted at Beauvais, and at 6 p.m., thirty-six hours from Calais, arrived at Paris. On the route near Noilles and its fine ancient chateau, and between that place and the capital, I met or passed Russian or Prussian regiments: in one instance, where a body of Prussian Lancers proceeding to the coast, and about an equal number of French Guards on their way to Paris, to take the duty of receiving Louis XVIII., happened to cross each other on the road, I observed that not a salute was exchanged, and they passed each other in utter silence. A little beyond Beauvais I encountered the first Cossack I saw in France. He was riding alone with his spear in the rest, patroling in fearless security a central province of ancient France. Hence, not only had every town and village its quota of military quartered on it, but almost every hut on the wayside lodged a quondam hostile and now victorious tenant; and bearded natives of the Steppes and mail-clad cuirassiers
PARIS IN 1814.181
of every clime were seen parading the fertile fields and luxuriant orchards of the Oise.

The road into Paris lay partly through the battle-scene of Montmartre, where the possession of the capital was conquered, and the allies achieved the reward of all their arduous struggles. The vestiges of the cannonade were still visible; and, here and there, lay a dead horse or two, which there had not been time to bury; but the so lately blood-stained soil, encumbered with the mutilated corses of the slain, seemed as green and fresh as if its pastoral quiet had never been broken by the loud artillery, or the cannon dragged over the slippery ground, the traces of which the plough and harrow were now effacing. The windmills on the heights were waving their industrious arms, and the chanson of the peasants below rang delightfully, where the strife of mortal combat had covered the maternal earth with carnage, and poisoned the heavenly air with dying groans.

The Faubourg of St. Denis exhibited more unmistakable marks of the recent conflict. Like Soult at Toulouse, Marmont protracted the defence of Paris almost beyond the limits of pardon, when it, at last, after the storming of Montmartre and Belleville, lay prostrate at the mercy of the allied conquerors. Happily for humanity and the inhabitants, the battery and palisades, which I saw still remaining in force by the gate of St. Denis, and commanding the road by which an enemy would approach, were never manned or defended by the troops, which had disputed the advance, at every favourable point, for thirty long miles, and caused no inconsiderable loss to the allies, whilst their own good positions saved them from commensurate retribution. Had this last position been disputed, Paris would have been stormed and sacked; as it was, nothing but the moderation of the victors, and
especially, as it was understood, of the
Emperor Alexander, saved it from being given up to pillage and massacre. By this gate Russian sentinels admitted our cabriolet into the city; in the very streets and houses of which individuals were killed by random and accidental shots, fired in the closing cannonade of the 30th of March. At Lafitte’s banking-house I was told of persons thus slain in the neighbourhood. The delusions of the vanquished had been kept up to the last hour; and it was only on the 31st of the month, when the dreaded Cossacks were seen trotting about everywhere, and looking out for the “harvest” they had anticipated from the distant view of the “City of Gold,” i.e., the gilded dome of the Hotel des Invalides, that the inhabitants were made completely sensible of the fact, that their armies had been beaten and dispersed, their ruler compelled to quit the country, and themselves and their property under other rule.

But they are a gay and giddy people; and, to say the truth, in less than two days, seemed to care nothing about the change, but rather to enjoy the novel sights that filled up every hour, with an increased and increasing relish. One emperor appeared as good as another to them. The Russian autocrat was a general favourite; but I witnessed the horses taken from the Emperor Francis of Austria’s carriage by the populace, and his Majesty drawn by Parisians to the Odeon theatre! Between the Prussians and the French the fiercest animosity prevailed; and it was often difficult to keep parties of them from daggers drawing, when they encountered each other in public. Terms of contempt and hatred were bandied about, and the Pruss would spit disdainfully, so as almost to alight upon the passing Frenchman. Quarrels by day and assassinations by night were frequent; and one remarkable affair, of
PARIS IN 1814.183
which I was an eye-witness, deserves to be recorded as an anecdote of this extraordinary era, and of the wonderful congregation of human beings from every quarter of the globe, with whom Paris was crowded during its busy carnival. At one of the tables at Verrey’s three foreign officers had dined, and were sipping their wine, when three French gentlemen arrived, and seated themselves at the adjoining table. It was evident, from the expression of their countenances, that there must have been some preceding feud, and that they had come to the place with no complimentary or civil intentions. In short, they had hardly called for a bottle of wine, when one of them, addressing his companions, and holding up several decorations on his breast, observed, in the most sneering tone and malignant manner, “This I received for Jena; this I got for Austerlitz; and this for Borodino! Aha!” No notice was taken of this bravado aside, and the chagrined hero of so many distinctions, not caring to offend the military police under which Paris was governed, by a more direct insult, called for his bill and rose with his friends to depart. To my astonishment I observed one of the foreigners, who gnashed his teeth and flashed fury from his eyes, start up and rush to the bar, where having placed himself, he waited the egress of the other party, and as soon as the speaker came within arm’s length, struck him a violent blow on the cheek with his open hand, exclaiming, “that for Jena;” a second blow followed on the other cheek, and “that for Austerlitz” accompanied the stroke; a third, and “that for Borodino” finished the assault, which did not occupy ten seconds. Great confusion ensued, and the cafe was nearly cleared in a wild and hasty way, which I and my companions could not comprehend; but the mystery was soon explained. In less than half an hour the foreigners
returned to finish their wine; a duel had been fought behind the Palais Royal, and the unfortunate Frenchman had been run through the body, and killed on the spot!

About twenty or twenty-five letters containing my Journal of Parisian events, were printed in the “Sun,” during the ensuing months, under the signature of “Viator,” and something of this encounter was stated, the truth of which a Paris paper ventured to question; but there could not be a doubt of the fact; and there were other acts of violence and bloodshed covered by darkness, which would have added fearfully to the mass of evils which deformed society (kept smooth on the surface) had they been permitted to see the light. The Morgue, and its suicidal and murdered tenants, every morning told a terrible tale of the effects of the gaming-houses, and the “allied occupation” within the twenty-four hours preceding.

Having mentioned the gaming-tables, I may observe that the veteran Blucher was one of their most assiduous nightly attendants. Attired in a rusty black coat and old blue trousers, with no order but the common iron cross of the soldiery on his breast, and sometimes without that, he would sit down and lose rouleau after rouleau of gold, giving his moustache a twist and trying another venture. He appeared to be invariably a victim; and so far, France was revenged of his mortal hostility.

And again, having mentioned orders, I must relate the mot ascribed to the Duke of Wellington, and circulated at this time. Blucher’s hatred of the country and its people was so intense, that he would not use the language in conversation, and absolutely refused the illustrious honour of the Holy Ghost, with which the grateful King Louis was anxious to decorate him. The Duke endeavoured to persuade the Marshal to accept the distinction, but he obstinately refused,
PARIS IN 1814.185
and at last said, pettishly, “If I received it where the d—— could I hang it? I have so many stars and medals already in front, that I have no place to put it but on my back.” “Well,” replied his Grace, “put it there, and I’ll be bound it will be where no enemy will ever hit it!” But the Prussians were very inveterate, and never ceased recalling the shameful conduct of
Buonaparte to their Queen. Paris would have fared ill if they had had it all their own way; yet they yielded a little to the moderating counsels and wishes of their allies. The bridge of Jena was mined, and had a narrow escape from being blown into the air, as a punishment for its name; and when the Gallery of the Louvre was criticised preparatory to the restoration of its splendid spoils to their lawful owners (now the scale was turned), it was a marvel to find what a capital judge of paintings Blucher had become, and what a memory he had of the whereabouts he had seen many of the finest; for he claimed one after another, for Berlin, Potsdam, Sans Souci, &c. &c., and clapt a sentinel within the frames of the largest, to pace up and down on that short walk, till they could be taken away and sent to their proper homes. He was prevailed upon to relinquish some, but not one upon compulsion; and when the regrets of the inhabitants were at their height for the dispersion of this splendid collection, he was comforted by a Calembourg bulletin in the name of the German commandant;
The Parisians go about, snivelling and snuffling;
They may just as well let it alone.—Baron Muffling.