The Tuileries gardens are perhaps as aristocratic as any in Paris, if that term can be appropriately applied to a free garden, and they are certainly among the finest in the world. They are filled with statues and fountains, trees and flowers. The western part is entirely devoted to trees, almost as thickly planted as our American forests. The care which is taken of this grove of trees surprised me, and I think would any new-world visitor. The trees grow closely to the southern wall of the gardens, yet do not protrude their branches over the line of the wall. The sight is a singular one from the banks of the Seine, outside the walls of the garden, for the whole grove looks exactly as if it had been sheared like a hedge. The branches have been so cared for and trimmed, that the side presented is perfectly even and a mass of green. Still this, though curious, is not beautiful. Trees need to grow naturally for that. Art cannot surpass nature in this way. The grove is full of beauty. Walks run every way over it, and the trees are so trimmed and cultivated that beautiful arches are formed over nearly all the paths. This constitutes the forest, one of the most singular in Paris, and it is a novel sight to the stranger. On the north side of the groves there is a collection of orange trees, and in among them are set a large quantity of chairs, which are rented by a person in attendance for two sous an hour. So for two cents, a man can sit and rest himself in one of the most delicious spots in Paris. This is a peculiar feature of all the gardens of Paris. No free seats are furnished, but an old woman is sure to select some shady and enchanting spot whereon to arrange her chairs, which are for rent. Indeed, there are many places on the Boulevard where this practice obtains, to the great joy of numberless tired pedestrians.
In front of the Tuileries palace there is a choice garden of flowers and plants enclosed by an iron railing. The flowers were in bloom when last I saw it, and were exceedingly beautiful. Directly in front of this garden a fine fountain is always playing, and scattered in every direction is a profusion of statuary. There are some magnificent groups, but again others are disgusting in their sensuality. There are several pieces of statuary scattered among the trees of the grove. One of them, a statue of Venus, is an exquisite conception, and so very pure that I wondered it should have found a place in a French garden. But not far from it there were two nude figures which were so shockingly sensual, and so clearly were intended by the sculptor to be so, that I turned away half indignant. Yet while I walked in the grove more than one French lady stopped leisurely to look at them through her glass.
When the weather is warm, the fashionable pedestrians flock to the trees of the Tuileries gardens, and among its cool recesses sit and talk the hours away. When the weather is colder and sunshine is desirable, the grounds immediately in front of the palace are more pleasant, as there the cold winds come not.