Chateaubriand was therefore right when he exclaimed: "We may erect fountains here, but all the water in the world would not suffice to wash away the stains of the blood that has here been shed." Yet who can realize this now, as he walks or drives upon this square amid a tossing tide of riders and pedestrians? For fountains sparkle in the sun, and thousands laugh and jest where deeds were done which leave upon the history of the race a brand as ineffaceable as it was sanguinary.
Pont De La Concorde And The Chamber Of Deputies.
Few, for example, think to-day of the scene enacted here on the morning of the 24th of January, 1793. In the centre of this Place of the Revolution, as it was then called, stood a lofty platform, above which towered the blood-red posts of the guillotine. Around this on all sides surged a sea of upturned faces. At length the royal carriage entered the enclosure. When Louis XVI alighted from it, he was at once surrounded by the executioners. He himself quietly removed his coat and cravat, but when they advanced to bind his hands, he cried: "No! no! I will not have my hands bound!" A struggle would have ensued had not his confessor intervened. "Sire," he said, "submit to this last outrage. It is one more point of similarity between yourself and Him who will soon reward you." At this, Louis stretched out his hands, saying, "Do what you will: I will drink the cup even to the dregs!" Then with a firm step he ascended the platform and prepared to address the populace. The drums were beaten to drown his voice, but he was heard to exclaim: "I die innocent: I forgive the authors of my death: I pray that my blood may not fall on France, but may appease the wrath of God." These were his last words. One voice alone, that of the priest, replied: "Fi/s de St. Louis, montez au ciel." The spring was touched; the glittering knife slid down the grooves; the soul of Louis XVI passed into eternity.
Eight statues of colossal size are seated round this square, each symbolizing one of the prominent cities of France. The crape-enshrouded flags and wreaths which render one of them almost invisible, remind one that the city it represents is Strasburg, the gem of Alsace, the loss of which the French so bitterly deplore. A distinguished professional gentleman of Paris said to the writer recently: "Men talk of peace, but it is only the combination of three nations against us that keeps us from attempting to regain those provinces. If it were only Prussia against France, we should have tried it long ago. Depend upon it," he added, "if Napoleon I should rise from the grave and appear again in Paris, all Frenchmen -Republicans, Royalists, and Imperialists -would be at his feet."
The Obelisk And Eiffel Tower.
It is a short walk along the Rue Royale from the Place de la Concorde to the Church of La Madeleine. "Are we in Athens or in Paris?" we exclaim, as we behold it; for it may well be called the Parthenon of Western Europe. It is a beautiful reminder of those classic lines which had the Acropolis for a pedestal, Pentelic marble for material, and for a background the Athenian sky. Two thousand years have rolled away since Grecian architects and sculptors placed before the world those glorious models which have conquered time, but we have not improved upon them. Wherever they are reproduced, even with less attractive stone, less perfect statues, and less wonderful embellishment, they charm us still, as do no other buildings in the world. Truly, "A thing of beauty is a joy forever."
The Church Of La Madeleine.
I never pass before this structure, in a carriage or on foot, without bestowing an admiring glance upon its stately flight of steps, its long perspective of imposing columns, and the grand height of its majestic roof. So much does it recall the temples of antiquity, that it at first seems incongruous that this should be a Christian church. In fact, it has not always been a sanctuary. Before it was entirely completed, Napoleon I decreed that it should be a Temple of Glory, where, every year, on the anniversaries of the battles of Auster-litz and Jena, imposing ceremonies should take place and eulogies should be pronounced upon the heroes who had fallen on those memorable fields. But after the collapse of the First Empire at Waterloo, the original plan was again adopted, and La Madeleine is now a church where worship is regularly performed.