+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

June 1, 1853. Although many extraordinary
changes have occurred in Melbourne
since the above transpired, now six or seven
months back, the march of improvement
has gone on but slowly. The constant
influx of people retards almost everything,
themselves included. Passengers are still
landed at dusk; luggage banged and dashed
about in confusion; no pavement, or even
road, on the wharfs; no lamps; only one
crane; no common civility to new arrivals;
and certainly no respectable or even decent
lodgings for ladies, who want them
immediately, and have no resident friends.


Before railways were established, the
traveller from Paris to Boulogne, whilst
journeying down those vales of dust they called a
road, which was confined between great rows
of trees from which all shade was taken by
the lopping of the lower branches, the spire of
St. Denis was a well-known object. Towering
above the plain, it was visible for miles around,
and formed a beacon to the stranger who ap
proached the capital. That spire is now no
more, and the basilica of which King Dagobert
and St. Elvi laid the lowest stones is lopped of
its most precious relics. What outcries would
be heard from the architects, antiquaries, and
lovers of the picturesque in England, if
Westminster Abbey were treated thus! But
suppose a greater desecrationsuppose the
tombs were rifled; the bones of our kings
and queens removed; our generals, and
admirals, and poets taken from their resting
places, and thrown into the Thames; under
what pretence could the despoilers screen

The Abbey of St. Denis has been thus
despoiled. It is not alone deprived externally of
that which made its fame, but it has been
rifled also of all that age makes sacred. The
sepulchres and monuments are there; you
mark the spots where anxious tourists have
lopped off a finger or a nose to carry away
and place in their museums; but the bones
or ashes which these monuments were wont
to cover have been gone for many years.
Not a King of France, since Dagobert,
remains; for the grim assaults of the republic
no more spared the long departed than the
living. We know that the bones of Cromwell
were taken at the Restoration and hung upon
a gibbet; that the tombs of the Dukes of
Burgundy were opened at Dijon for purposes
of plunder. We know that for curiosity and
in search of food for history, the old Egyptian
sepulchres have been rifled, and that
their linen-covered and well-preserved con
tents adorn the museums of the world; and
we are told that grains of wheat were found
in one of them, which, being planted, grew,
and left a progeny whose yearly produce
feeds the English people. Of the tombs of
all the Caesars only one remains undesecrated,

for heaps of gold were thought to rest in
them; but the object of the French
republicans when they swept the tombs of their
ancient kings, was not gold. They required

In seventeen hundred and ninety-three,
when France was hemmed in by hungry
enemies who pressed upon her undefended
frontiers, the manufacture of warlike missiles
did not keep pace with their consumption.
Measures of extraordinary kinds were then
resorted to to fill this void. To get saltpetre,
the cellars of every house were dug and
sifted till not a particle of salt remained. The
roofs were stripped of everything that could
be melted into bullets; pots and pans and
leaden spouts were melted down. All was
insufficient; and, as a last resource, it was
determined to exhume the old sarcophagi of
St. Denis, to pass them through the bullet
mould, and to throw the venerable relics into
a common ditch.

An edict was therefore passed by which
that energetic body, the Constituent Assembly,
called upon the municipals of La Franciade
for so St. Denis had then been christened,
from patriotic hatred of a saintto enter the
basilica, and open in succession the tombs of
all those tyrants the kings of France, despoil
their coffins of the lead contained in them,
and mix the bones and ashes of the royal
houses in a common tomb. On the evening
of its reception the orders were proceeded
with. There was no faltering. A troop of
soldiers accompanied by diggers with picks
and shovels, and armed with torches, and with
frying-pans for burning vinegar and powder,
entered the abbey; andwhilst the lurid
glare lit up the aisles and colonets, which the
smoke blackened; amidst the crash of piling
muskets and the oaths of mustachioed veterans
the work began.

In searching for the relics of the Bourbons
the workmen were not at first successful; and
by a strange fatality it was not a king they
first dug up; but, on raising the earth from
the first tomb, they found the frame and
features of the great Turenne. They treated
him with great respect; that is to say, they
left him in his coffin, placed him in the
sacristy, where he was shown for months, at
a penny per head; and, afterwards, in the
Garden of Plants, where he was shown for
nothing. They then interred him beneath a
splendid monument erected on the spot where
he was disinterred.

The scrutiny proceeded, and at last they
found a Bourbon. He was perfect. The
lineaments were those of Henry of Navarre,
the father of that long line of Louises of
whom the last had recently met with so me
lancholy a death. His beard, moustache, and
hair were perfect; and, as the soldiers standing
round looked on in awe at the strange
spectacle, one of them drew his sword, and,
casting himself down before the body of the
victor of the League, lopped off one of his