Monaco And Monte Carlo.
Strictly speaking, this principality is not a part of France, but it is surrounded by it on three sides, and is so much a part of Nice, which is on French soil only ten miles distant, that it may be regarded as a kind of annex to the French Republic.
The town of Monaco itself must have been in olden times an ideal fortress, for it is perched upon a huge flat rock advancing boldly into the sea, with well-nigh perpendicular cliffs nearly two hundred feet above the waves.
The Prince of Monaco in many respects resembles a king in comic opera. His principality covers only about eight square miles of territory, and his palace is an odd-looking building, strongly suggestive of mediaeval times with its portcullises and drawbridges, yet hinting too of modern warfare with its pyramidal groups of cannon-balls.
Nevertheless, within this little territory this Prince is an absolute monarch, who makes his own laws, hires his own soldiers, issues his own postage-stamps and coinage, possesses an army of a hundred men and a navy of one vessel, - his private yacht. Moreover, he rejoices in the title of "Albert I, Prince and Sovereign by the grace of God," and boasts of an ancestry dating back nearly a thousand years, for the Princes of Monaco are descendants of a noble family of Genoa. He even has his ministers at the Courts of Vienna, Madrid, Rome, and Paris. Unlike the rest of the world, the inhabitants of Monaco pay no taxes; for the principality is really governed by a Syndicate which makes all local improvements, defrays all the expenses of government, and pays the Prince a handsome annual allowance in return for the privilege of carrying on the famous gambling establishment of Monte Carlo.
The Casino, where the gambling goes on, is situated on a bluff that overlooks the sea, and is surrounded by a series of enchanting terraces and gardens, where one can seat himself beneath the drooping fringes of the palms, or stand on marble staircases, and look between exotic plants and over walls adorned with a profusion of red roses, upon the loveliest ocean in the world. Yet even this unrivaled combination of man's art and Nature's prodigality will not suffice to keep you from entering the Casino here. There is no charge for admission, though you will probably contribute something to the Syndicate before you get out. Cross the threshold, and a servant in livery will greet you with a polite bow, as if you were an expected guest, and will usher you into a hall where several respectable looking gentlemen in dress suits scrutinize you carefully, and, if satisfied with your appearance, will present you with a card of admission available for one day. Your behavior will determine whether you may receive another card, or not. Leaving your hat and cane, for which you receive a check, you stroll perhaps for a few minutes through the building, if the hour for gambling has not arrived. You will admire its construction and embellishment, for it was designed by Charles Garnier, the architect of the Grand Opera House in Paris, and you will find here not only a well-furnished reading-room, but a gorgeously decorated theatre, where twice a day an orchestra of eighty well-trained musicians gives a delightful concert.
The Casino At Monte Carlo.
A Gambling-Hall At Monte Carlo.
On entering the spacious gambling-halls, you will perceive a number of long tables, in the centre of each of which is a sunken bowl, containing a revolving wheel. This wheel has thirty-seven divisions, marked from zero upward, and alternating red and black, and when this is whirled from right to left, a little ball is thrown into it in the opposite direction. Finally, as both wheel and ball acquire a slower motion, the latter drops into one of the divisions, determining thus the lucky number, and also the successful color, either red or black. At each table are seated four men called croupiers, while a fifth man is also in attendance to overlook the game and settle disputes. Upon the green baize cloth are numbers, corresponding to the divisions in the wheel, and so arranged that one can bet on red or black, and odd or even, as well as on any special figure. The smallest bet on these roulette tables is five and the largest six thousand francs. Before starting the game, the croupiers notify the players to place their stakes, and just before the ball falls into a division, they forbid any more play with the well-known words: "Le jeu est fait. Rien ne va plus." Then, at the conclusion of each play, they call out the winning number and color, and the men at the ends of the table with long rakes draw in the money which the bank has won, and also with wonderful celerity and skill pay out gold or silver or bank-notes to those who have been fortunate.