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CHAMBER OF PEERS.
are very plainly and neatly finished, and like the chaste, severe style of the Grecian orders of the exterior front, they stand almost alone among the public rooms of Paris, as an instance wherein utility appears to have been studied in preference to show. On the elevated platform in front of the Speaker's chair is the tribune, or sort of pulpit or desk, to which the members ascend in succession to deliver their oratorical addresses to the assembly. To make his speech, the orator must leave his seat, cross the area of the floor, and mount the steps-a formidable task for a brief address, and one that might have some good effect in the Legislative Assembly of the United States, to check a desultory, long-protracted debate, by rendering the trouble of climbing in turn into the crow's nest of the tribune too great for the indolence of some of the members. Desks and implements for writing are provided for each member, arranged in a manner similar to those of the House of Representatives of the United States.
The session of the Chamber of Peers is held in one of the halls of the old palace of the Luxembourg, situated at a considerable distance from the hall of the Chamber of Deputies, and in a different part of the city. At the Chamber of Peers we also obtained a guide to accompany us. The old palace of the Luxembourg is a vast pile, constructed of hewn stone, having four fronts richly sculptured; each of which extends about three hundred feet. In the centre of the edifice is an open court, which admits light to the windows of the interior fronts.
Ascending a long flight of stone steps, we entered the hall of the Chamber of Peers. There is presented to your view, on entering, a semicircular room about eighty feet in diameter, adorned with pillars, and statues of men of the classic of Greece and Rome. The form of this room, as ages well as of that of the Chamber of Deputies, has some resemblance in plan to that of the senate chamber of the
United States; but its architectural decorations are far less magnificent. Every American who visits the halls of the Royal National Legislatures of Europe, cannot fail to observe, that the Republican Congress of America meets in comparatively more spacious and splendid rooms, and hold their debates beneath more stately domes; whilst the chairs of the presiding officers of the Senate and House of Representative surpass the thrones of royalty in elevation, and nearly eclipse them in ornaments.
We were conducted to view the picture gallery and various other apartments of the palace of the Luxembourg. One of the rooms was most fancifully fitted up by Mary de Medicis, wife of Louis XIV. It presents the appearance of a golden apartment, as the walls, and even the very pannels of the doors are gilded. The appearance of gold thus profusely used, is rather gaudy than beautiful. The gardens of the palace of the Luxembourg, like those of the other public palaces, seem to be the property of the citizens, so freely are they admitted to them at all times. The marble statues which are elevated upon pedestals in various parts of the garden have most sorry aspects, with broken noses and fractured heads, that may be considered as the scars they have sustained on their posts during the tumultuous scenes of the Revolution. The borders of the walks are adorned with pots of flowers and full grown orange trees, arranged in large heavy boxes. It was near the gate of this garden that Marshal Ney was shot.
Street-Musicians. Whilst seated at the breakfast table, a few performers on musical instruments sometimes strike up lively airs under the windows in the court yard. These performers get their living by going from house to house, and regaling the inmates with music, for which they receive a few sous in return. In some of these strolling bands are females whose voices are not devoid of melody,
and whose fingers are thrown over the strings of their harps with exciting effect.
On entering the gateway of the great Foundling Hospital of Paris, we were directed by the porter to address ourselves to some females in the attire of nurses, who occcupied a sort of lodge. One of these nurses preceded us as a guide to show us the establishment, and to explain its rules and regulations.
Some of the departments of this hospital are superintended by a sisterhood of nuns, as our guide stated to us; who bestow their personal attention on the babes, deposited here by wretched or unfeeling mothers, whose place and duties they engage to fulfil, being devoted by their vows to celibacy. They must be endowed with a truly Christian spirit to perform these ungrateful labors where the strongest ties of natural affection-those of the mother for her offspring, have failed. One of the nuns kindly gave us all the information we desired respecting the reception of the new-born infants, and the treatment of them within the walls of the institution. She stated that the infants of very poor parents, or more commonly of those unfortunate females, whose situation in life without this place of refuge for the fruit of their unlawful love, might tempt them to commit the crime of infanticide, are received at the gate of the hospital without question or inquiry. The date of the reception of each babe is recorded in a book kept for this purpose. After being properly washed and attired, the infant is placed in a cradle in one of the large halls or wards, where several hundred are arranged in regular rows. It is an interesting and indeed a very singular spectacle, to behold so many cradles, each containing a little helpless being nestling and crying, all of them
apparently of the same size and age. Near the head of each cradle is affixed upon the walls of the halls a small printed paper, in the form of a certificate, with the blank filled with the written name of the infant, if any were com municated when it was first deposited; otherwise, a name is assigned to it. The age and such other trifling particulars as may have been ascertained relative to the birth or parentage of the child, and the day it was received at the gate, are also registered. This little record is numbered, and to some part of the dress of each infant is attached a corresponding label or number. It is often from this brief sketch of their history that the foundlings derive the only knowledge they ever procure of their birth and early life. Offcasts, as it were, of society, the foundlings pass through the period of infancy and youth with no kindling recollections of a mother's smile, or a mother's love. The stranger, as his eye rests on these numerous lowly cradles, feels a shade of melancholy steal over him; and perhaps he may feel his eye to be moistened with a tear, at the sight of so many fellow-beings entering on the threshold of life, in all the helplessnees and innocence of infancy, abandoned by those who in some of the cases seem to be without the instinctive tenderness which brutes manifest for their young.*
I could not ascertain whether those who are reared by this charitable institution become in after life valuable members of society; or whether, imbued with feelings of misanthropy at the recollection of having been cast off and abandoned in their youth, and left to struggle, friendless and forsaken, they may not enter the field of human labor and competition, with bitter sentiments toward their fellow-men. Whilst within the walls of the
*It has been stated in a printed document, that of the children born in Paris in 1829, nearly 10,000 were illegitimate; and of this number 7850 were abandoned to public charity by their parents.
SUBTERRANEAN REPOSITORY OF BONES. 73
hospital, however, the infants appear to be well taken care of, the nurses being numerous, and the stores of clean linen abundant. Our conductress showed us quite a magazine of clothes, all ready made and packed up, which seemed sufficient for the supply of a little army. She stated that there are at present about 80 women who attend the children within the walls of the hospital; but that the infants are sent out and distributed among three or four thousand nurses in the country, as soon as possible after being received at the gate. The price of their board in the country varies from 6 to 10 francs for a month. She said there were above 4000 infants received every year, and that the whole number supported at one time by the institution has exceded 14,000. Thus a population equal in number to that of a considerable town, is sustained by a single public charitable establishment of Paris.
From this hospital, the first scene of the youthful exist ence of so many human beings, we proceeded to the cata combs, the last scene of the mouldering remains of millions of the human race. We were disappointed in gaining admittance, although we had passed in our route the "Rue d'enfer" and "barriere d'enfer," the "street and gate of Hell." After effecting a passage through these difficult straits, we deemed ourselves secure of beholding all the lower regions. By order of the government, the catacombs have been closed for the present against the admission of visiters, on account of the loss of several lives by the falling of fragments of rocks from the roof of the passages. We had therefore to content ourselves, after a fatiguing excursion, with reading the description of the wonders contained in these celebrated excavations formed be