« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
grand: but the houses of the affluent class are very seldom to be seen pear the main road ; and “the embellished scene" forms no constituent of the picture.*
If the first stages of our journey to Fontainebleau were rendered irksome by. the excessively long drought bringing upon us suffocating clouds of dust, we were amply recompensed, when, entering the vast Forest as the sun declined, we bebeld the richest lustre of his evening rays penetrating the deep shade of vegetable vaults, and partially dispelling their majestic gloom. . .
Being desirous of seeing as much of the interior parts as the time would allow, we soon quitted the common path, and pursued our way amidst a succession of the noblest timbers. The thick and tall stems of the oaks, beeches, and poplars shew how well each of those kinds thrive even on poor land. Our postillion stopped opposite ap oak, and requested us to observe that it is called “ Le Bouquet du Roi;". the trunk has attained sixty feet in height, before a single bough springs from it.
Manifold are the features of this great sylvan domain. Its broad and branching alleys form a sheltered and delicious ride of several miles, whilst the light occasionally breaks in with enchantivg brightness. Sometimes, leaving the carriage, we “pierced into the midnight, depth,” of. groves of enormous growth . , ,'. ' ,
*. *The embellished scene (Mr. Gilpin has justly observed), is one of the peculiar features of English Landscape. Though not enough marked with the bold free characters of Nature, it is still, under proper regulations, a very beautiful species of landscape. It hath beauties peculiar to itself: and if it astonish us not with grandeur and sublimity, it pleases with symmetry and elegance."-See Observations on Picturesque Beauty.
" That forming high in air a woodland qaire, :
• At length emerging from these umbrageous scenes, we found ourselves in a spacious amphitheatre of rocks, some worn bare and smooth, others covered with moss and foliage, and the whole piled in huge and chaotic masses. The “ Hermitage" and the “ Rocher qui pleure,” to which some youthful guides conducted us, are situated amidst these wild and fantastic combinations. I cannot better describe them than by saying, that the spot on which they exhibit themselves appears as if it had been rent by an earthquake, then inundated by a deluge, and afterwards planted with gërmes of the largest trees as well as of the smallest shrubs, in promiscuous abundance, by the band of Nature. Effects of light and shade, such as artists love to study, can no where perhaps be viewed in presentations more beautiful, or in varieties more contrasted, than in the long-drawn avenues and intricate labyrinths of Fontainebleau forest still the resort of the stag, the wild boar, and even of the wolf; furmerly a barbour also for the lynx, and, worse than all, for lawless and ferocious man.* Thanks, however, to Messieurs les Gensd'armes, there is now nothing to be feared from banditti; and the Garde-chasses have been equally successful in thinning, though not in wholly extirpating, the breed of savage beasts. It were well if no longer in fear of (wbat Quentin Durward calls) “fayers on the highway,” the traveller now-a-days could promise himself the same security in La Belle France, from “ flayers in the hostelrie.”
* See Evelyn's Memoirs, vol. 1, p. 47.
Arrived at Fontainebleau, our evening promenade in face of the palisades of the castle court (for it was too late to obtain admission) proved congenial to the influence of those impressions, which a sight of this celebrated and once favourite residence of the French Monarchs is calculated to produce on any one who remembers its local and political history. The vastness of the quadrangle, and the defiance of uniformity which marks its architec. tural character, entitle it to the appellation which has quaintly been assigned to it, of the rendez-vous des Chateaua. The streets of Fontainebleau are well pierced, like the roads through the forest by which it is surrounded: but the town has a deserted and melancholy aspect: there was a stillóess in its streets well suited to check a stranger's disposition to hilarity. . . .
July 13th.–At an early hour this morning we visited the Palace, and were agreeably surprised to find the interior of that grand edifice not only bighly interesting from its antiquity, but also truly admirable for the rich decora. tions of tapestry, pictures, and furniture, displayed in its numerous suites of apartments. The Gallery of Francis the First; the very handsome rooms (and very agreeable too for any man to occupy, except as a prison), appropriated to Pope Pius the VIIth, whilst detained there by Buonaparte ; and that in which Napoleon signed his abdication in 1814; have each their source of interest in histo rical associations. As the scene of so important an event, the last mentioned room is designated by the following inscription, on a brass plate fixed to the under side of a small round table of oak, viz. :-“ Le cinq Avril dix-huit cent quatorze Napoleon Buonaparte signal son Abdication sur cette table, dans le cabinet du travail du Roi, près la chambre à coucher, à Fontainebleau.” lu this cabinet is a picture, by (I think) Le Brun, of Racine reading bis Tragedies to Louis XIV, and the Queen.
A few paces taken in the long and lofty Gallery of Francis the First will suffice to convince you of the strong claim to attention, wbich it derives from the circumstance of its having been constructed under the eye of a princely patron of the Fine Arts, in an age when reviving Genius called loudly for support and encouragement. The superb paintings and carvings that embellish this royal chamber are evidently the untouched relics of a stile, whose Italian originators in the fifteenth, and whose French adopters in the sixteenth century, seem alike to bave delighted in over-laying with the utmost exuberance of forid ornament, those simple and chaste forms, which the science and taste of ancient Rome had taught her to select as the proper models of architecture. 11 5. We breakfasted at the house of a Friend ; a gentleman of good family, of truly hospitable disposition, and of paternal suavity of manners. Mons. La G. had long beld an active and responsible office under Government, in the department of Engineers, and about two years ago, at the age of 77, having been brought nearly to death's door by the effects of an accident, submitted to the amputation of his leg with beroic fortitude. His resignation under painful affliction, and his courage at the most trying of mo ments, have been rewarded with a renovated state of health : and he was enabled on this occasion to receive us in the cheerfulness of that social spirit which seems to characterise bim, and with an astonishing degree of personal activity. A French Breakfast is upon no starving principle, in respectable society. In compliment to his English guests, green tea was added, by order of our worthy host, to the usual bill of fare, which consisted of the following articles : Soup (potage), ham, eggs, mutton chops, coffee, Burgundy wine (premiére qualité), apricots, currants, and cherries. His house, situated in the outskirts of the town, and consequently bordering on the forest, to which it bad immediate access, was wbat in England we should call a beary building. The custom of placing thick wooden shutters on the outside of the windows clashes materially with neatness and lightness of external appearance. But it was nécessary for us merely to feel the fervid power of the sun, in order to be brought to a candid acknowledgment that without such effectual means of excluding its beams during the greater part of tbe day, no habitation at this period of the year could be dwelt in with the slightest portion of comfort. The people prefer sitting cool, but almost in the dark, to gaining light by admitting the heat. And I am of opinion that of two evils they, in this case, choose the least. We walked into our friend's garden, which, fruitful though not extensive, called to our remembrance at every turn, that we moved beneath a ripening sky, upon the glowing soil that produces a celebrated grape to perfection.* · In the afternoon we left the Hotel de la Ville de Lyon't and quitting the town of Fontainebleau, again entered the forest, through which we had to travel the greater part of our way to Nemours. The prospects vary in ex
The Chasselas de Fontainebleau. . . . . ; † The Galére, nearly opposite the Chateau, is a larger and appears a better Iạn. But Mrs. Marianne Baillie complains of the Bugs there. Now that,' not even excepting a landlord who does not know his business, is the greatest naisance of the “ Ville de Lyon.".