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Saturday, February 28, 2015

"A Woman's First Impressions of Europe," by Mrs. E. A. Forbes, 1863

["A Woman's First Impressions of Europe," by Mrs. E. A. Forbes, 1863]
 
Oct. 31. Visited Pere la Chaise, which, apart from the fact of its having been the first city cemetery beyond the churchyard burial places in the midst of the population, and its affording a noble view of Paris, possesses less interest than most cemeteries. The largest and most elaborate of the monuments is that of the Russian princess Demidoff; the one most worthy of a pilgrimage is the small temple, where lie side by side, unworthy conjunction, the effigies of Abelard and the unhappy Heloise.

Most of the monuments consist of small chapels, like boxes, in close contiguity, within which are hung garlands of immortelles, and sometimes of beads. Sometimes beautiful natural flowers stand in pots upon the little altar, and more frequently bouquets of artificial flowers supply their place. The French taste is, for many reasons, more successful in behalf of the living than of the dead, and the cemetery is a stiff one.

The most touching of all the resting places, to me, was a small plot, enclosed by an iron railing, with a hedge - without monument or inscription. By careful inspection one finds, rudely scratched upon the gate, as if by the point of a nail-Ney. It is a text for a volume of sermons.

We looked into the Jews' burial ground, which seems beautifully kept, with a quiet, un-Frenchy seclusion-the monument of Rachel is near its entrance. We saw the tombs of various French authors, and the statue of Casimir Perier, but found an hour or two in the streets of the necropolis a sufficient type of the whole.

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