List Of Contents | Contents of Saunterings, by Charles Dudley Warner
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The review, which had been a good deal talked about, came off in the
afternoon; and all the world went to it.  The avenues of the Bois
were crowded with carriages, and the walks with footpads.  Such a
constellation of royal personages met on one field must be seen; for,
besides the imperial family and Albert Edward and his Danish beauty,
there was to be the Archduke of Austria) and no end of titled
personages besides.  At three o'clock the royal company, in the
Emperor's carriages, drove upon the training-ground of the Bois,
where the troops awaited them.  All the party, except the Princess of
Wales, then mounted horses, and rode along the lines, and afterwards
retired to a wood-covered knoll at one end to witness the evolutions.
The training-ground is a noble, slightly undulating piece of
greensward, perhaps three quarters of a mile long and half that in
breadth, hedged about with graceful trees, and bounded on one side by
the Seine.  Its borders were rimmed that day with thousands of people
on foot and in carriages,--a gay sight, in itself, of color and
fashion.  A more brilliant spectacle than the field presented cannot
well be imagined.  Attention was divided between the gentle eminence
where the imperial party stood,--a throng of noble persons backed by
the gay and glittering Guard of the Emperor, as brave a show as
chivalry ever made,--and the field of green, with its long lines in
martial array; every variety of splendid uniforms, the colors and
combinations that most dazzle and attract, with shining brass and
gleaming steel, and magnificent horses of war, regiments of black,
gray, and bay.

The evolutions were such as to stir the blood of the most sluggish.
A regiment, full front, would charge down upon a dead run from the
far field, men shouting, sabers flashing, horses thundering along, so
that the ground shook, towards the imperial party, and, when near,
stop suddenly, wheel to right and left, and gallop back.  Others
would succeed them rapidly, coming up the center while their
predecessors filed down the sides; so that the whole field was a
moving mass of splendid color and glancing steel.  Now and then a
rider was unhorsed in the furious rush, and went scrambling out of
harm, while the steed galloped off with free rein.  This display was
followed by that of the flying artillery, battalion after battalion,
which came clattering and roaring along, in double lines stretching
half across the field, stopped and rapidly discharged its pieces,
waking up all the region with echoes, filling the plain with the
smoke of gunpowder, and starting into rearing activity all the
carriage-horses in the Bois.  How long this continued I do not know,
nor how many men participated in the review, but they seemed to pour
up from the far end in unending columns.  I think the regiments must
have charged over and over again.  It gave some people the impression
that there were a hundred thousand troops on the ground.  I set it at
fifteen to twenty thousand.  Gallignani next morning said there were
only six thousand!  After the charging was over, the reviewing party
rode to the center of the field, and the troops galloped round them;
and the Emperor distributed decorations.  We could recognize the
Emperor and Empress; Prince Albert in huzzar uniform, with a green
plume in his cap; and the Prince Imperial, in cap and the uniform of
a lieutenant, on horseback in front; while the Princess occupied a
carriage behind them.

There was a crush of people at the entrance to see the royals make
their exit.  Gendarmes were busy, and mounted guards went smashing
through the crowd to clear a space.  Everybody was on the tiptoe of
expectation.  There is a portion of the Emperor's guard; there is an
officer of the household; there is an emblazoned carriage; and,
quick, there!  with a rush they come, driving as if there was no
crowd, with imperial haste, postilions and outriders and the imperial
carriage.  There is a sensation, a cordial and not loud greeting, but
no Yankee-like cheers.  That heavy gentleman in citizen's dress, who
looks neither to right nor left, is Napoleon III.; that handsome
woman, grown full in the face of late, but yet with the bloom of
beauty and the sweet grace of command, in hat and dark riding-habit,
bowing constantly to right and left, and smiling, is the Empress
Eugenie.  And they are gone.  As we look for something more, there is
a rout in the side avenue; something is coming, unexpected, from
another quarter: dragoons dash through the dense mass, shouting and
gesticulating, and a dozen horses go by, turning the corner like a
small whirlwind, urged on by whip and spur, a handsome boy riding in
the midst,--a boy in cap and simple uniform, riding gracefully and
easily and jauntily, and out of sight in a minute.  It is the boy
Prince Imperial and his guard.  It was like him to dash in
unexpectedly, as he has broken into the line of European princes.  He
rides gallantly, and Fortune smiles on him to-day; but he rides into
a troubled future.  There was one more show,--a carriage of the
Emperor, with officers, in English colors and side-whiskers, riding
in advance and behind: in it the future King of England, the heavy,
selfish-faced young man, and beside him his princess, popular
wherever she shows her winning face,--a fair, sweet woman, in light
and flowing silken stuffs of spring, a vision of lovely youth and
rank, also gone in a minute.

These English visitors are enjoying the pleasures of the French
capital.  On Sunday, as I passed the Hotel Bristol, a crowd,
principally English, was waiting in front of it to see the Prince and
Princess come out, and enter one of the Emperor's carriages in
waiting.  I heard an Englishwoman, who was looking on with admiration
"sticking out" all over, remark to a friend in a very loud whisper,
"I tell you, the Prince lives every day of his life."  The princely
pair came out at length, and drove away, going to visit Versailles.
I don't know what the Queen would think of this way of spending
Sunday; but if Albert Edward never does anything worse, he does n't
need half the praying for that he gets every Sunday in all the
English churches and chapels.



They have not yet found out the secret in France of banishing dust
from railway-carriages.  Paris, late in June, was hot, but not dusty:
the country was both.  There is an uninteresting glare and hardness
in a French landscape on a sunny day.  The soil is thin, the trees
are slender, and one sees not much luxury or comfort.  Still, one
does not usually see much of either on a flying train.  We spent a
night at Amiens, and had several hours for the old cathedral, the
sunset light on its noble front and towers and spire and flying
buttresses, and the morning rays bathing its rich stone.  As one
stands near it in front, it seems to tower away into heaven, a mass
of carving and sculpture,--figures of saints and martyrs who have
stood in the sun and storm for ages, as they stood in their lifetime,
with a patient waiting.  It was like a great company, a Christian
host, in attitudes of praise and worship.  There they were, ranks on
ranks, silent in stone, when the last of the long twilight illumined
them; and there in the same impressive patience they waited the
golden day.  It required little fancy to feel that they had lived,
and now in long procession came down the ages.  The central portal is
lofty, wide, and crowded with figures.  The side is only less rich
than the front.  Here the old Gothic builders let their fancy riot in
grotesque gargoyles,--figures of animals, and imps of sin, which
stretch out their long necks for waterspouts above.  From the ground
to the top of the unfinished towers is one mass of rich stone-work,
the creation of genius that hundreds of years ago knew no other way
to write its poems than with the chisel.  The interior is very
magnificent also, and has some splendid stained glass.  At eight
o'clock, the priests were chanting vespers to a larger congregation
than many churches have on Sunday: their voices were rich and
musical, and, joined with the organ notes, floated sweetly and
impressively through the dim and vast interior.  We sat near the
great portal, and, looking down the long, arched nave and choir to
the cluster of candles burning on the high altar, before which the
priests chanted, one could not but remember how many centuries the
same act of worship had been almost uninterrupted within, while the
apostles and martyrs stood without, keeping watch of the unchanging

When I stepped in, early in the morning, the first mass was in
progress.  The church was nearly empty.  Looking within the choir, I
saw two stout young priests lustily singing the prayers in deep, rich
voices.  One of them leaned back in his seat, and sang away, as if he
had taken a contract to do it, using, from time to time, an enormous
red handkerchief, with which and his nose he produced a trumpet
obligato.  As I stood there, a poor dwarf bobbled in and knelt on the
bare stones, and was the only worshiper, until, at length, a
half-dozen priests swept in from the sacristy, and two processions of
young school-girls entered from either side.  They have the skull of
John the Baptist in this cathedral.  I did not see it, although I
suppose I could have done so for a franc to the beadle: but I saw a
very good stone imitation of it; and his image and story fill the
church.  It is something to have seen the place that contains his

The country becomes more interesting as one gets into Belgium.
Windmills are frequent: in and near Lille are some six hundred of
them; and they are a great help to a landscape that wants fine trees.
At Courtrai, we looked into Notre Dame, a thirteenth century
cathedral, which has a Vandyke ("The Raising of the Cross"), and the
chapel of the Counts of Flanders, where workmen were uncovering some
frescoes that were whitewashed over in the war-times.  The town hall
has two fine old chimney-pieces carved in wood, with quaint figures,-

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