Paris: With Pen and Pencil eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 286 pages of information about Paris.
It was a long, low interior, and one end of the room was fenced off from the rest, and in it a row of dead bodies was arranged against the wall.  Jets of water were playing constantly upon them, and upon hooks the garments of the deceased were hung.  The use of La Morgue is to exhibit, for twenty-four hours, the dead bodies which are found in the streets and the river.  If no friend in this time recognizes and claims the body, it is buried.  There were five bodies when I was there—­four men and one woman.  The men were evidently suicides and the woman was probably murdered, as there were marks of violence upon her body, which could not have been self-inflicted.  There are several hundred persons exhibited in La Morgue in the course of a year, and they tell strange stories of the misery and crime which abound in the finest city in the world.  The majority of the bodies which are found, are suicides, but many are those of persons who have been murdered.  The French commit suicide for reasons which appear frivolous to the American or Englishman.  The loss of a favorite mistress, an unsuccessful love-intrigue, the bursting of a bubble of speculation, and sometimes a mere trifle is enough to induce self-destruction.  Sometimes a man and his mistress, or a whole family shut themselves up in a room with burning charcoal, which is a favorite method of committing suicide.  A great many bodies are fished out of the Seine, for it is very easy for a poor and wretched man or woman to leap into it in the darkness of night.  The next day the body lies for recognition in La Morgue, and if no good friend claims it it is borne by careless hands to a pauper burial.

[Illustration:  LE PONT-NEUF]

I crossed the Seine by the Pont Neuf—­a fine bridge, completed in 1604 by Henry IV.  Near the center of it, standing upon a platform and pedestal of white marble, is a splendid bronze statue of Henry IV. upon horseback.  The height of the statue is fourteen feet, and its cost, somewhat above sixty thousand dollars, was defrayed by public subscription in 1818.

The Place Vendome, too, lay in my path, so called from having been the site of a hotel belonging to the Duke de Vendome, illegitimate son of Henry IV. and Gabrielle d’Estrees.  The Place is now ornamented by a magnificent pillar, erected by Napoleon in honor of his German campaign.

I passed also the beautiful Fountain des Innocents, whose sculptor, the celebrated Jean Goujon was shot during the massacre of St. Bartholomew, while working at one of the figures.

[Illustration:  Fontaine des Innocents.]

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On my second visit to Paris, I found that many changes had taken place, and some of them striking ones.  It was especially true of the architectural condition of Paris.  In the years which elapsed between my visits, the Louvre had assumed a new appearance, and was now connected with the Tuilleries Palace.  Other changes of a similar character had occurred.

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