This tennis-court of Versailles was, therefore, the cradle of French liberty. Yet within twenty-four hours these chosen representatives of twenty-five million people were driven from even this unsheltered place, the keeper of the court merely saying that the King's brother wished that day to use the tennis-ground for a game of ball! Does one ask why they did not force an entrance? Because the alleged excuse was only a pretense. Bayonets glittered all about the court and fifty thousand troops were close at hand.
Here, too, is the famous Hall of the Bull's Eye (so called from a large, oval window in the wall), which was the royal antechamber, where all who sought an audience with the King humbly awaited permission to approach him. Adjoining this also is the death - chamber of Louis XIV, into which, on the 1st of September, 1765, another King, who disregards rank and etiquette when he calls on his victim, made his way unannounced by lackey or by chamberlain, and claimed the "Grand Monarch" for his own. Here Louis' haughty face still greets us from the wall; and near it, with a silken covering embroidered by Madame de Maintenon, is the bed on which he breathed his last. The most imposing hall in this old palace is its Gallery of Mirrors. It derives its name from the fact that one side of it, through its entire length of two hundred and forty feet, is lined with mirrors forty feet in height and set in gilded frames. Opposite to these are as many lofty windows, commanding a fine view of the gardens and fountains of Versailles. What scenes of splendor and renown would start forth from the walls if the grand mirrors could give back the forms that have so often been reflected from their surfaces! What would have been the feelings of the former sovereigns of France - who never dreamed that this imperial abode would shelter any dynasty but theirs -could they have known that in this Gallery of Mirrors, during the siege of Paris, the King of Prussia would be proclaimed Emperor of united Germany; and that, as such, he would receive here the homage of his subjects, the Crown Prince being the first to bend the knee!
The Oath In The Tennis-Court.
The Gallery Of Mirrors.
Hall. Of The Bull's Eye, Versailles.
Napoleon At Jena, Gallery Of Battles.
It is said that one travels seven miles in walking through the rooms and corridors of Versailles. The longest of its apartments is the Gallery of Battles. As one looks down its glittering perspective the effect is dazzling; for the floor, inlaid with variously colored woods, is beautifully polished; the roof is of glass, adorned with elaborate gilding; and the resplendent arches rest on marble columns, before which, on handsome pedestals, are busts of famous generals. But the especial glory of this hall is its remarkable series of historical paintings - all of them admirable works of art - representing the victories of France, and, especially, the many battle-fields over which the genius of Napoleon has spread unfading glory. To the credit of the Germans be it said, that though Versailles was occupied many months by Prussian troops, these paintings, portraying as they do some terrible defeats inflicted on the Germans by Napoleon, were neither removed nor injured in the least. Nay, more than this, these masterpieces of art were carefully covered and protected, and were found by the returning French as perfect as before.
Among the many objects in this national museum which suggest the past, none is more striking and impressive than Vela's admirable statue, entitled "The Last Days of Napoleon at St. Helena." This is indeed a masterpiece. It is not merely the dying Napoleon whom one here beholds. It is the exile, the dethroned Emperor, the heart-broken captive, forgotten by those whom he had raised from the dust and made illustrious, abandoned by his Austrian wife, deprived of the means of communicating with his idolized child, and stung by daily provocations from his English jailer. Upon his lap the outspread map of Europe lies beneath his nerveless hand. That hand once carved out empires there: it is now powerless to trace his name. To have been practically the sovereign of half of Europe; to have made and unmade kings at will; to have outrivaled Caesar in his victories; to have created an imperial dynasty, and then, - to lose it all, yet linger on, chained like Prometheus to a barren rock, his heart continually gnawed by the insatiable vulture of regret: what tragedy has the world beheld to equal it? Better to fall, like the first Caesar, beneath the daggers of conspirators, than to die by inches in captivity, as did the Caesar of the nineteenth century!