Paris: With Pen and Pencil eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 239 pages of information about Paris.
grave of Abelard and Heloise.  The stranger always asks first for it, and visits it last when returning from the cemetery.  It is the most beautiful monument in the cemetery.  It consists of a chapel formed out of the ruins of the Abbey of Paraclete, which was founded by Abelard, and of which Heloise was the first abbess.  It is fourteen feet in length, by eleven in breadth, and is twenty-four feet in height.  A pinnacle rises out of the roof in a cruciform shape, and four smaller ones exquisitely sculptured stand between the gables.  Fourteen columns, six feet high, support beautiful arches, and the cornices are wrought in flowers.  The gables of the four fronts have trifoliate windows, and are exquisitely decorated with figures, roses, and medalions of Abelard and Heloise.  In the chapel is the tomb built for Abelard by Peter the Venerable, at the priory of St. Marcel.  He is represented as in a reclining posture, the head a little inclined and the hands joined.  Heloise is by his side.  On one side of the tomb, at the foot, are inscriptions, and in other unoccupied places.  I lingered long at this tomb, and thought of the singular lives of that couple whose history will descend to the latest generations.  It seemed strange that two lovers who lived in the middle of the twelfth century, should, simply by the astonishing force of their passions, have made themselves famous “for all time.”  It seemed wonderful that the story of their love and shame should have so burned itself into the forehead of Time, that he carries it still in plain letters upon his brow, that the world may read.  It shows how much the heart still controls the world.  Love is the master-passion, and so omnipotent is it, that yet in all hearts the story of a man or woman who simply loved each other hundreds of years ago, calls forth our tears to-day, as if it occurred but yesterday.  Bad as Abelard’s character must seem to be to the careful reader—­cruel as was his treatment of Heloise—­he must have had depths of love and goodness of which the world knew not.  Such a woman as Heloise could not have so adored any common man, nor a wonderful man who had a hard heart.  She saw and knew the recesses of his heart, and pardoned his occasional acts of cruelty.  Having known what there was of good and nobleness in his nature, she was willing to die, nay, to live in torture for his sake.

The tomb is constantly visited, and flowers and immortalities are heaped always over it.  Had it no history to render the spot sacred, the beauty of the monument alone would attract visitors, and I should have been repaid for my visit.  The French, who magnify the passion of love, or pretend to do so, at all times above all others keep the history of Abelard and Heloise fresh in their hearts.

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Paris: With Pen and Pencil from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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