LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The Autobiography of William Jerdan
Ch. 23: 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 (continued).
Star of the brave! thy ray is pale,
And darkness must again prevail.
But oh, thou rainbow of the free!
Our tears and blood must flow for thee:
When thy bright promise fades away,
Our life is but a load of clay.
The Star of the Legion of Honour.
Byron (from the French).

When I entered Paris, I found no civilian before me but Dr. Wollaston, who had been admitted by the special permission of the French Government before its overthrow; and it would take a volume, even briefly, to describe the unparalleled condition of the place, and the multitude who thronged it in every part. But in a work like this I must, as it were, gallop over the interesting ground with a few miscellaneous reminiscences. Nor will the galloping be confined to me, for there was little else than galloping all over Paris. With imposition on every hand, and in every charge, things would not have been so dear but for the cruel exchange of nearly thirty per cent, against the English stranger; and yet, with so much to see and enjoy, there was no time for complaint. From my tolerably snug domicile (after a few absolutely necessary reforms had been effected), the Hôtel de Rome, near our ambassador’s and his Russian sentinels,
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a stroll to Tortoni’s to breakfast, was an easy and pleasant transition. Cotelettes or fricandeaus and wine were an agreeable change for everlasting tea and toast; but if not, they must be endured, for the continental system had blocked colonial produce out of the country. There was coffee, and occasionally a suspicion of tea, made of the dried leaves of birch-brooms (intelligent middle-class females in the provinces did not know what tea was), and sugar, in small portions, probably from beet-root, so prized that never a lump was left in the glass or basin, after the eau sucrée was drunk, but wrapped in a bit of paper, and carefully conveyed to the pocket of the customer, who felt that he had paid for it, and had a right to do what he liked with his own. Then, if Tortoni’s was good, Beauvillier’s, in the Rue de Richelieu, for dinner, was still better. You cannot match it in Paris now. The cuisine was perfect, the cellar superb: from five to seven hundred people dined there every day, and there never was cause to find fault. The finest wines of France, with one exception (Clos Vougeot, of 1788,) ranged under the price of eight francs a bottle to two or three, and when admirable red and white hermitage, sillery first quality, the best Laffitte, &c., are placed at the top of the list, and excellent champagne, burgundy, and claret, &c., in the descending scale, it may well be asked in 1852, why the British consumer pays so much higher a sum for very inferior vintages with very high-sounding names.

But it was not the viands at this celebrated restaurant which daily attracted me to my dinner there. The company were of a description to surpass the utmost curiosity of an English tourist, and especially of one who, for many months, had been anxiously following events, and publishing, to the best of his knowledge and belief, for the information of his country, the most authentic accounts of the feats of
the leading allied commanders. Conceive, then, my astonishment and delight at finding myself in the midst of them, gazing at the illustrious men in the next boxes to me, whose heroic exploits I had so long been celebrating with my utmost powers—and you may imagine that it needed no Romanée nor Chambertin (nor porter Anglais at two francs a bottle!) to make me almost drunk and delirious with excitement. But I had better illustrate this matter by a general description than by sequent details. It was on the first or the second day I dined at Beauvillier’s that a fair, Saxon-looking gentleman came and seated himself at my table. I think he chose the seat advertently, from having observed, or gathered, that I was fresh from London. We speedily entered into conversation, and he pointed out to me some of the famous individuals who were doing justice to the Parisian cookery at the various tables around—probably about twenty in all. As he mentioned their names I could not repress my enthusiasm—a spirit burning over England when I left it only a few days before—and my new acquaintance seemed to be much gratified by my ebullitions. “Well,” said he, to a question from me, “that is Davidoff, the colonel of the Black Cossacks.” I shall not repeat my exclamations of surprise and pleasure at the sight of this terrific leader, who had hovered over the enemy everywhere, cut off so many resources, and performed such incredible marches and actions as to render him and his Cossacks the dread of their foes. “Is this,” inquired my companion, “the opinion of England?” I assured him it was, and let out the secret of my editorial consequence, in proof that I was a competent witness. On this a change of scene ensued. My incognito walked across to Davidoff, who forthwith filled and sent me a glass of his wine (the glass he was using), and drank
PARIS IN 1814.189
my health. I followed the example, and sent mine in return, and the compliment was completed. But it did not stop with this single instance. My new fair-complexioned friend went to another table, and spoke with a bronzed and hardy-looking warrior, from whom he came with another similar bumper to me, and the request that I would drink wine with General Czernicheff. I was again in flames; but it is unnecessary to repeat the manner in which I, on that, to me, memorable day, took wine with half-a-dozen of the most distinguished generals in the allied service.

Whilst this toasting-bout was going on, a seedy-looking old gentleman came in, and I noticed that some younger officers rose and offered him a place, which he rejected, till a vacancy occurred, and then he quietly sat down, swallowed his two dozen of green oysters as a whet, and proceeded to dine with an appetite. By this time my vis-à-vis had resumed his seat, and, after what had passed, I felt myself at liberty to ask him the favour of informing me who he himself was! I was soon answered. He was a Mr. Parris, of Hamburgh, whose prodigious commissariat engagements with the grand army had been fulfilled in a manner to prosper the war; and I was now at no loss to account for his intimacy with its heroes. It so happened that I knew, and was on friendly terms with some of his near relations; and so the two hours I have described took the value of two years. But the climax had to come. Who was the rather seedy-looking personage whom the aides-de-camp appeared so ready to accommodate? Oh that was Blucher! If I was outrageous before, I was mad now. I explained to Mr. Parris the feeling of England with regard to this hero; and that amid the whole host of great and illustrious names, his had become the most glorious of all, and was really the one which filled most unanimously and loudly the trump of
fame. He told me that an assurance of this would be most gratifying to the marshal, who thought much of the approbation of England, and asked my leave, to communicate to him what I had said. I could have no objection; but after a short colloquy, Blucher did not send his glass to me—he came himself; and I hob-nobbed with the immortal soldier. I addressed him in French, to which he would not listen; and I then told him in English of the glorious estimation in which he was held in my country, which Mr. Parris translated into German; and if ever high gratification was evinced by man, it was by Blucher on this occasion. I had the honour of breakfasting with him at his hotel next morning, when the welcome matter was discussed more circumstantially, and he evinced the greatest delight. When he was in London, I, among the crowds that wearied his levees, endeavoured to remind him of our Paris meetings, but he had forgotten them; the seven years of plenty had obliterated the recollection of their advent.

This was an interregnum time. Napoleon had been sent off on the 21st of April, and was getting away from the south of France when Louis le Désiré was about getting into it on the north. A strange disorderly order pervaded France, and especially Paris. Everybody seemed to do what they liked, and though there was a certain “Occupation” restraint, liberty and license were carried to as enormous an extent as vice ever triumphed in or virtue mourned. It was impossible to distinguish the true from the false: the world appeared to be made of expedients, and if they were not exceedingly criminal, there was no harm done, nor censure incurred.

The entry of Louis XVIII. into Paris, on the 4th of May, was a splendid spectacle, and the parade on the banks of the Seine of the élite of the Allied Forces, the
PARIS IN 1814.191
huge green Russian (especially the gigantic Grenadiers), blue Prussian, and tight white Austrian Guards,* no slight addition to the heterogeneous scene. The rejoicings must have been contagious, for more universal and enthusiastic manifestations of happiness and exultation were never seen than were here exhibited by French, English, German, Italian, Russian, Spaniard, Dane, Swede, Dutchman, Austrian, Prussian, Hungarian, Cossack, Swiss, Pole, and every other diversity of country and people. Every one realised the Quaker’s song—.
And I say unto thee that verily, ah
Verily, ah verily, ah;
And I say unto thee that verily, ah,
Thou and I shall be first in the throng!

Buonaparte’s exit from Fontainebleau not a fortnight before was already a forgotten event in history; and the fêtes given by the city of Toulouse to Lord Wellington had only preceded these illuminations, fireworks, loyal shoutings, and revelries which filled the capital with a mad joy. The Paris workmen had a troublesome and difficult job to prepare the way for the restoration by effacing and removing the thousands of imperial crowns, N’s, and Bees with which every possible place and thing were covered, and the puns and jokes upon them, as they cut and chiselled away at their labours, were almost as numerous as the objects they were removing. Il a des N. mit (ennemis) partout was a truism in every mouth, and the busy bees had their hum, and their honey, and their stings hived in a hundred

* These looked very different from a body of three or four thousand I met on the road. They had been taken prisoners in one of the battles fought near Paris, and had just been released, and were on their way to rejoin their companions in arms. But no arms had they, and I could compare them to nothing else than a flock of sheep; for they appeared as harmless and passive. J.

epigrams. On the outside of public buildings, and on all articles in the inside, from walls and ceilings to chairs and covers, one week had sufficed to eradicate the innumerable symbols of the ex-Emperor, and pictures were covered with green baize lest they should offend the Bourbon eye and sentiment. White flags were flying everywhere, and I think none but white pigeons were permitted to fly in the same air—the parti-coloured birds, I suppose, were killed and cooked. The theatres were opened gratuitously, and rewarded with bumper houses. The cries and inscriptions of “Peace,” and “Concord” alone were heard and seen, and never can Europe again witness such a spectacle. The streets were lined with the National Guards of Paris, between whose ranks rode the Russian General and his attendant Cossacks, the Austrian Cuirassier, the Prussian Landwehr, the German Lancer, the wild Croat from the south, and the Scandinavian Swede from the north; whilst, to crown the wondrous sight, the Imperial Guards of Napoleon (now the Royal) and the old troops of the French army, with countenances as rigid and as dark as bronze, marched in front of the triumphal car of the restored Bourbon Monarch. The Tartar of the Don and the soldier of the Seine rode peacefully at least (it may be sulkily) side by side. Five days before Buonaparte sailed from Fréjus to take possession of his small kingdom; and his brothers,
Joseph, Louis, and Jerome had left France for various retreats in Switzerland.

I have still to describe another of the most remarkable features on this memorable day. It was the advent of the Duke of Wellington from Toulouse, and his appearance in plain clothes, so as to court no notice as he rode along with Lord Castlereagh, Lord Aberdeen (I think), and other distinguished Englishmen, in the cavalcade of the British
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Sir Charles Stewart, which swept up about noon to the grand review of the allied troops quartered in Paris. The hero was soon discovered, and the rumour spread rapidly among the crowds on every hand; and truly it did astonish me to behold his reception by the inhabitants of the prostrate city. They hurra’d and shouted as if they were demented, and a French conqueror of Great Britain had suddenly descended among them. “Vive Vellington! Vive le brave Vellington!” resounded from ten thousand throats; and from this day to the last during which he remained, be the applauses and testimonials of admiration to others whatever they might be, the plaudits and the vives for Vellington were always the most obstreperous and loudest of them all.

A grand ball given in the evening by Sir Charles Stewart, was a superb climax to this dies mirabilis. The rooms were crammed, and for the first time under a pacific roof, met the long pitted deadly foes to each other, the allied statesmen, and generals, and the statesmen and marshals of France. It was a strange vision—Schwartzenberg and Berthier, Blucher and Ney, Platoff and Marmont, Wittgenstein and Mortier, the Archduke Constantine and Talleyrand, Hardenberg and Augereau, Czernicheff and Moncey, Davidoff and Brune, D’Yorke and Serurier, Woronzoff and Jourdan, St. Priest and Macdonald, all strolling about and conversing in the most amiable manner—a perfect mob of princes, commanders, and famous politicians and warriors; and still among the foremost, Wellington and the representatives of England, to whom it was a proud triumph. The Emperor Alexander opened the ball by dancing with Madame Ney, the Princess of Moskwa. Coming events did not cast their shadows before—and war’s grim-visaged front entirely relaxed to dress in compliments and smiles for this merry
meeting. I was indebted to
Lord Burghersh (now Earl of Westmoreland) for the favour of my ticket to this extraordinary entertainment, and went in company with a young and accomplished countryman, Mr. Turner, whose fate soon after, was a very distressing one. When I left Paris, I accommodated him with the remaining gold I did not want, and took a letter for repayment to London, to save the heavy exchange. His purpose was to make a pedestrian excursion through the provinces, to see the country and become acquainted with the habits and customs of the population. Unfortunate was the undertaking; he started on his journey and never was heard of more. The last memorial of him was my letter; and it is to be feared that the tempting gold led to his murder, and the secret concealment of his corse. France was not exempt from numerous tragical incidents of a similar kind at that period.

But to return for a short while to Paris and its daily shows. Among the most novel and amusing the Cossacks certainly played the prominent parts. It was common to see officers of high rank, and bedizened with crosses, stars, and ribands, galloping (everybody galloped) through the streets on magnificent horses, magnificently trapped, and attended by their Orderly Cossacks, probably mounted on ragged-looking, but swift and hardy, mares, with colts or fillies, of French birth, trotting at their heels. Their spears, instead of straight shafts, were occasionally crooked, in consequence of the original being splintered in fight, and the succedaneum cut as handily as might be out of the nearest wood. There was one bivouac on the shore of the river, just below the handsome Pont des Arts, where, as it were for the sake of contrast, these wild and old-fashioned looking beings, with their hair cut round, like the old Holbein portraits, their imposing beards, their cumbrous waggons, their gipsy tents,
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their leather coats, their rude horse-pickets, their uproarious meals, and their native songs, furnished me many an hour of wonder and gratification. Their appearance was savage and forbidding enough, but their music was peculiar, rather plaintive, and altogether pleasing. In the main they were exceedingly good-natured fellows, of which a proof was related to me by a gentleman on the frontier. He and his family were terrified by having several Cossacks billeted upon them as they marched that way; but “only think,” added my informant, “they not only conducted themselves peaceably and civilly throughout the afternoon and night, but when I rose in the morning, I perceived that they were up before, and kindly watering my garden from end to end.” I did not dispel his belief; though I was aware that this watering system was habitual with the courteous Cossacks, who knowing that money and valuables were often buried on their approach, adopted this means of ascertaining the fact, as the water immediately sank where the ground had been recently dug up, and remained longer stagnant upon the other parts of the soil. Where it sank they searched, and I was assured immense booty was realised by the simple process.

Another trait may be cited to illustrate my subject. I went with a friend or two to see Versailles, though the noble chateau was uninhabited, and its vast saloons painfully vacant. There was only a third-rate cabaret close by, where we ordered dinner, and having gone over the palace and seen thirty or forty Spaniards released from the adjacent prison, we went back for our refection. Before sitting down we were invited into the kitchen, where we found a good deal of dilapidation going on by the side of the fire-place. Our host and hostess were mysterious, till at length the apparent wall gave way and discovered a spacious oven of by-gone times, out of which, to our surprise, were brought
portraits of
Louis XVI., Marie Antoinette, the Dauphin, and the Duchess d’Angoulême, which had been consigned and hidden “à la cache” at the date of the revolution. Of course they were forthwith installed in the dining room; and toasts to the restored Bourbons, the illustrious English, and the loyal French were proposed, right and left, and drunk with enthusiasm.

As a small national drawback, I may just mention that next morning I purchased a pretty pencil-case, within the top of which was concealed, in miniature, one of the best whole-length likenesses of Buonaparte which I ever saw.

Why should I speak of the Opera, where the noble aristocratic presence of Lord and Lady Castlereagh eclipsed every other box, and were admired specimens of the Island race; showing, perhaps, in public places to greater advantage, in consequence of the tawdry uniforms, and petit and mean appearance of the majority of the French marshals, though some of them were very fine-looking men? Or why should I refer to the delight I experienced in Talma and Georges? I must bid Paris, with all its marvels, farewell, and with two brief reminiscences conclude this chapter.

I was informed, in conversation with the courteous and obliging Lord Burghersh, who, it will be remembered, was accredited, on the part of Great Britain, to the head quarters of the invading forces, that the dash upon Paris was the result of an opportunity afforded the allied generals to ascertain almost exactly the amount of the army of Napoleon, which he, by his amazing activity of movements and crafty stratagems of war, had succeeded in making appear much greater than it really was. When he resolved on the desperate measure to throw himself between the allies and the Rhine and south of France, combine with his numerous garrisons on the former, and still unsubdued divisions in the
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latter, and, with the united grand force, again try the fortune of war, his morning march along the heights betrayed his secret weakness, and enabled his enemies to calculate his numbers almost to a single file. On this depended the immediate destiny of his empire: the battled march to and surrender of the capital.

My other anecdote is of peace and the fine arts, though connected with war and pillage. At a soirée, where Talleyrand was of the party, the conversation of a few individuals, knotted in a corner of the room, turned on the pictures brought from Spain by Soult and Wellington; and it was discussed which of the two had the most valuable collection, on which the witty Prince de Perigord, with the usual twinkle of his eye and dry manner, remarked that important as these treasures were, the most extraordinary circumstance of the whole affair was, that the Duke of Wellington had paid money for his acquisitions!!!