PURE LA CHAISE—PRISONS—FOUNDLINGS—CHARITABLE INSTITUTIONS—LA MORGUE—NAPOLEON AND EUGENIA—THE BAPTISM.
PERE LA CHAISE.
Pere la Chaise is not a cemetery which suits my taste, but it is unquestionably the grandest in all France, and I ought not to pass it by without a few remarks upon it. I visited it but once, and then came away displeased with its magnificence. It seems to me that a cemetery should not be so much a repository of art, as a place of great natural beauty and quiet, where one would long to rest after “life’s fitful fever.”
The cemetery is beyond the eastern limits of the city, upon the side of a hill which commands a very fine view of the country, and is surrounded by beautiful hills and valleys. It was much celebrated in the fourteenth century, and during the reign of Louis XIV. Pere la Chaise resided upon the spot, and for a century and a half it was the country-seat of the Jesuits. Hence its name. It was purchased by the prefect of the Seine for one hundred and sixty thousand francs, for a cemetery, it then containing forty-two acres of ground. It was put into competent hands, and was very much improved by the planting of trees, laying out of roads, etc. etc. In 1804 it was consecrated, and in May of that year the first grave was made in it. It is now filled with the graves of some of the most distinguished men of Paris and France, and is by far the most fashionable cemetery in France. It is distinguished for the size, costliness, and grandeur of its monuments. There are temples, sepulchral chapels, mausoleums, pyramids, altars, and urns. Within the railings which surround many of the graves, are the choicest of flowers, which are kept flourishing in dry seasons by artificial supplies of water. A canal conducts water from a distance to the cemetery.
The day was fine, the sky cloudless when I visited the spot, and though I could not but contrast it with Mount Auburn near Boston, or Greenwood near New York, yet I was much impressed with the natural beauty of the situation. Art is, however, too profusely displayed upon the spot, and the original beauty is covered up to a certain extent. The gateway struck me as being rather pretentious. Passing through it and by the guardian’s lodge, which is at its side, one of the first spots I sought was the