One of the best monuments in Pere la Chaise, is that erected in memory of Casimir Perier, prime minister in 1832. It consists of an excellent statue of the statesman, placed upon a high and noble pedestal. There is a path which winds round the foot of the slope, which is by far the most beautiful in the cemetery. It is full of exquisite views, and is lined with fine monuments. Ascending the hill west of the avenue, I soon was among the tombs of the great. One of the first which struck my eye was the column erected to the memory of viscount de Martignac, who is celebrated for the defense of his old enemy, the Prince Polignac, at the bar of the chamber of peers, after the 1830 revolution. Next to it, or but a short distance from it, I saw the tomb of Volney, the duke Decres, and the abbe Sicard, the celebrated director of the deaf and dumb school of Paris, and whose fame is wide as the world. Many others follow, each commemorating some great personage, but the majority of the names were unfamiliar to me. Among those which were known, were those of the Russian countess Demidoff. It is a beautiful temple of white marble, the entablature supported by ten columns, under which is a sarcophagus with the arms of the princes engraved upon it. Manuel, a distinguished orator in the chamber of deputies, and General Foy, have splendid monuments. Benjamin Constant has a plain, small tomb, as well as Marshal Ney.
West of these tombs lie the remains of marchioness de Beauharnais, sister-in-law of the Empress Josephine. Moliere has also near to it a fine monument; La Fontaine a cenotaph with two bas-reliefs in bronze, illustrating two of his fables. Madame de Genlis has a tomb in this quarter. Her remains were transported here by Louis Phillippe. Laplace, the great astronomer, has a beautiful tomb of white marble. An obelisk is surmounted by an urn, which is ornamented with a star encircled by palm-branches. The marquis de Clermont has a fine monument—he who gallantly threw himself between Louis XVI. and the mob, to save his sovereign.
In one part of the cemetery I noticed many English tombs, of persons, I suppose, who were residents of Paris, or who visiting it were stricken by death.
One of the most superb monuments in the cemetery is that of M. Aguado, a great financier, but it smacks too strongly of money to suit my taste. He was a man of enormous wealth, therefore he has a magnificent monument. According to this method, the rich men of the world shall have monuments which pierce the skies, while the men of genius and of great and noble character, shall go without a slab to indicate their final resting-place.
This plan of turning a cemetery into a field for the display of splendid marbles, is certainly not consonant with good taste. It is calculated that in forty years not less than one hundred millions of francs have been spent in the erection of monuments in Pere la Chaise, the number of tombs already amounting to over fifteen thousand.