Images de page
PDF
ePub

or rather elongated ; so that if your position be contiguous to either end, the bass instruments throw the whole piece out of keeping. It may happen that a double bass, a trombone, or a kettle-drum, is raging just at the moment your soul is most intently wrapped in the softest breathings of the singer. - The box my party occupied, belonging to the Ministère de la Maison du Roi, was specially exposed to the inconvenience of this uncentral situation. By a happy policy these theatres are kept open for the public at the expense of Government; and are a never-ceasing, source of diversion to the restless minds of these people, which they can enjoy at a very easy rate

11th.—Luxembourg Gallery. It is considered such mauvais ton by artists on this side, and perhaps pretty generally every where, to express any degree of pleasure at viewing this French school of “glare and light,” that there is no alternative but to be silent, however well we may be pleased, or else lose all credit for pretensions to taste, which of course no man in his senses would do, if he could help it. I am ready to own, that the train of reflection suggested by a small picture of Galileo in prison, left a deeper impression on my mind than the merits of the most splendid paintings in the collection. He is represented in prison, contemplating a diagram of his solar system, which appears wholly to engross his thoughts, as if satisfying himself whether there really could exist the possibility of a doubt that he might be wrong. What a lesson his fate presents against intolerance, and the infinite absurdity of all persecution on account of opinion! The infallible wisdom of popery had pronounced that the sun should not stand still without

permission from the Vatican; and so poor Galileo must irredeemably have rotted in his dungeon, had he not, after nineteen years' confinement, at the age of seventy, asked pardon for telling the truth, as the price of his enlargement.

13th.--Jardin des Plantes. To my great disappointment, the Museum of Natural History was the only thing accessible to-day, and truly it is well worth a day to itself. could not see,

nor volumes describe it as

A year

most clamorously for food, although they get three very sufficient meals a-day; but it sometimes happens that one boy seizes on another's share. The air in some of the passages and cells was very impure, and the passages generally dark. This is one of those prisons denominated a Depôt de Prévention, where prisoners are detained only until their trial. There is a saloon appropriated to the care of the sick, which is daily visited by a physician and surgeon, without any charge to the patient. They are likewise all regularly visited by the clergy; and those who are able are made to attend chapel. Much care is bestowed on the education of the boys, who pass a certain portion of every day in the school-roon, under the direction of masters appointed to instruct them in the first principles of religion and elementary parts of education. These boys sleep alone in separate cells, which are locked up punctually every night, that there may be no personal communication.

The prison de la Petite Force is for women of the town exclusively, and generally numbers from four to five hundred ; — the admissions annually about 3,000. It is only the refractory who are confined here, or such as have been detected committing a breach of the peace. It often happens that the same individual is discharged and admitted a great number of times. One was pointed out to me by the matron, who had been dismissed and received again not less than on seventy different occasions ! Such as are able are put to hard labour, the proceeds of which go towards defraying the expenses of their keep. The hours of work and recreation are strictly regulated; and they are required every day to take exercise in the quadrangle of the prison,-a space, I should guess, not above forty or fifty feet square.

The interior of this prison is very close and noisome, owing to the fumes which escape from the stoves, as well as the exhalations incident to crowding. The services of a chaplain are unremittingly bestowed, to try and reclaim these unhappy women from the evil of their ways: but it is a sad consideration, that there are few, very few, in fact hardly any conversions; which may be as much or more owing to the difficulty of the penitent finding employment, as to any love of vice.

Every possible care is paid to their health, and when restored they are once more enlarged, with liberty to follow their wretched occupation : so that in fact this prison deserves rather to be considered an asylum, and must tend more to encourage than to prevent depravity. However this may be, these women are never allowed to mix with, or to offend the sight of the respectable part of their sex, — there being the strictest regulations of police to prohibit their appearance in the public street.

Before leaving the prison I offered some money to the door-keeper, who had very civilly conducted me over it; but he refused my boon, in a manner to make me feel as if the offer, instead of a favour, had been actually an insult. Ye door-keepers of St. Stephens and Westminster, what would ye have done?

Of all the parties I have been at since I came, by much the most splendid was that of Monsieur Lafitte's. The company were chiefly

« PrécédentContinuer »