1817 a Visit to Père la Chaise by W. D. Fellowes

[Part of an ongoing series reproducing articles that were written about Père-Lachaise during its early years, the following is from A Visit to the Monastery of La Trappe, in 1817, with Notes Taken during A tour through Le Perche, Normandy, Bretagne, Poitou, Anjou, Le Bocage, Touraine, Orleanois, and the Environs of Paris, by W. D. Fellowes, London: William Stockdale, 1817, pp. 153-64. Numbers preceded by the letter D refer to the division where you can find the tomb.]

PRIOR to the revolution, the French, like most other European nations, were in the practice of depositing their dead in churches and cemeteries within the most populous towns, in compliance with those precepts of evangelical doctrine which recommend us unceasingly to reflect on death; and hence originated a custom which cannot but be attended with most pernicious consequences to health, when we reflect that the decomposition of human bodies is productive of putrid exhalations, and consequently pregnant with the causes of contagious disorders. It is indeed surprising that some regulations have not hitherto been adopted in England regarding the interment of the dead, from the example of other countries.

In the year 1795, a decree was passed by the National Assembly, to prevent burying in churches, or in church-yards, within the city of Paris. Since which period, there have been three places selected in its immediate neighbourhood for that purpose - Montmartre, called" Le Champ du Repos" - Vaugirard, and Pere La Chaise.

Quitting the Boulevards, at the extremity of the Boulevards Neufs, eastward of the city, and passing through the Barrière d’Aulnay, I arrived at the Pere La Chaise. At the entrance, through large folding gates, is a spacious court-yard, having at one angle the dwelling of the Concierge, or Keeper. The enclosure contains one hundred and twenty acres, on a gently rising ground, in the centre of which stands the ancient mansion constructed by Louis XIV. for his confessor, Père la Chaise, the celebrated Jesuit, who, with Madame de Maintenon, governed France. Rising above the thousands of tombs which surround it, it displays itself a wrecked and mouldering monument of ancient splendour, and the mutability of human affairs! This spot became afterwards a place of public promenade and great resort, from the beauty of its position overlooking all Paris; and though so often the scene of festivity and pleasure, now presents to the eye of the beholder a mournfully interesting sight of tombs and sarcophagi, intermixed with various fruit trees, cypress groves, the choicest flowers, and rarest shrubs.

From the rising ground, above the building of Pere La Chaise, a most delightful view displays itself. The City of Paris appears to stand in the centre of a vast amphitheatre. The heights of Belleville, Montmartre, and Ménilmontant, in the west. To the east, the beautiful plain of Saint-Mande, Montreuil, and Vincennes, with the lofty towers of its fortress. - The fertile banks of the river Marne, are on the North, and in the South, the horizon encircles Bicetre and Meudon. 

The various tombs are placed without order or regularity: they are mostly enclosed with trellis work of wood, sometimes by iron railing; and consist of a small marble column, a pyramid, a sarcophagus, or a single slab, just as may have suited the fancy or the taste of the friends of the departed. Some surrounded with cypress, some with roses, myrtles, and the choicest exotics: others with evergreens, and not unfrequently a single weeping willow, with the addition of a rose tree! 

This intermixture of the sweetest scented flowers and fruit trees, in a burying ground, among the finest pieces of sculptured marble, with evergreens growing over them, in the form of arbours, and furnished with seats, cannot fail to produce in the mind of the person who views it for the first time, peculiar and uncommon feelings of domestic melancholy, mingled with pleasing tenderness.

Who could be otherwise than powerfully affected, as I was, by the first objects that presented themselves to me on entering the place? -- A mother and her two sons, kneeling in pious devotion at the foot of the husband's and the father's grave! At a short distance, a female of elegant form, watering and dressing the earth around some plants at her lover's tomb! - not a day, and seldom an hour, passes, but some one is seen either weeping over the remains of a departed relative, or watching with pious solicitude the flowers that spring up around it.

Among the many interesting objects that presented themselves at my first visit, was the tomb of Abelard and Helolse [D07], which had not long since been removed from the convent of the Augustins, where I had seen it in 1815.

At a little distance, to the left of the former, was the burial place of Labedoyere [D16]. The fate of this brave and unfortunate officer is well known; his youth, and misled zeal, have procured him a sympathy which his fellow sufferer Marshal Ney [D29] did not find, and did not merit.
In the centre of a square plot of ground enclosed with lattice work, is erected a wooden cross, painted black. Neither marble, nor stone, nor letters, indicate his name. Two pots of roses, and a tuft of violets, alone marked the spot, which is carefully weeded. There is something more affecting in all this simplicity, something, in my mind, that goes more directly home to the heart, than in the most splendid monument or the most studied eulogium. As we came suddenly up we saw two females clad in deep mourning, weeping over it; at each arm of the cross was suspended a garland of flowers; we were about to retire again immediately, from the fear of disturbing their melancholy devotions, when the concierge, with a brutality indescribable, rushed forward, and removing the garlands, threw them among the shrubs at a considerable distance. The friend who accompanied me, after searching, recovered one of the garlands, and with more gallantry perhaps than policy, immediately replaced it, and reproaching the keeper with his unmanly conduct, vowed vengeance if he dared to interrupt the ladies again, when bowing to them we retired.

As we were about to quit the place some time after, we were arrested by two gendarmes, and it was not till after a detention of some hours, and a long discussion between the police officers who had been summoned to attend, and being threatened to be sent to the Conciergerie prison, that we were allowed to depart.

The following words were engraved on a plain marble slab that covered the remains of Marshal Ney.

ci git
Le Marechal Ney
duc d’Echlingen
Prince de Moscowa
décédé le 7, Decembre, 18

The grave of the Marshal, as well as that of Labedoyere, when I again visited the spot, had been stripped of every thing, and the railing around them removed so as to prevent any one from discovering the place of their interment.

The monument of Madame Cottin [D39], the author of Elizabeth and of Mathilde, is, like her writings, simple and affecting! -- Surrounded by a trellis work in the form of an arbour, planted with rose trees, stands a pillar of the whitest marble, highly polished, inclining forwards, and engraven with

Marie-Sophie Risteau
Veuve de J. M. Cottin
Décédé le 25 Aout.

Near this, is the tomb of the esteemed and celebrated poet Delille [D11], the " Songster of the Gardens," as the French term him. The monument is enclosed in a small garden, planted with the choicest flowers and shrubs: it is of white marble, of large dimensions, and approached by an allée verte. The door leading to the vault is of brass, with emblematical figures in relief: above the entrance is inscribed in letters of gold,


The linden tree, intermixed with various evergreens, form an interesting and beautiful bouquet around it.

Beyond this, to the right, are the tombs of Gretry the composer [D13], Fourcroy the great chemist [D11], Fontenelle [D27?], Boileau, Racine, and of Mademoiselle Raucourt [D20], the celebrated actress, to whom the bigotry of the clergy refused burial in consecrated ground in 1815! a circumstance which gave rise to much clamour and dissatisfaction. It is surprising, that after such events as have been experienced in France, the folly of denying the right of consecrated ground to a comedian should have been persevered in, after the restoration of Louis XVllI!

Close to the tomb of Mad. Rancourt [Raucourt D20], is one, which for its affecting simplicity and modesty, struck me very forcibly: in a little garden of roses and lilies, and amidst some tufts of mignonette which appeared to have been newly watered, stood a plain marble column, with the following words, as represented in the annexed sketch - an acacia shaded it from the sun's rays. [The grave of the painter Isabei, with the inscription: “Ici repose Mon meilleur ami. C’etait mon frère. Octobre 1813. Isabei.” In D20.]

In 1814, when the Allies approached Paris, this height, like the others commanding the capital, was fortified, and occupied by the students of the Polytechnical School, who defended it with great gallantry. The walls were perforated with holes for the musketry: the marks are still visible where they have been since filled up. On the 30th of March, 1814, this position was vigorously attacked, with great slaughter on both sides: the assailants and the assailed fell in heaps, and it was not until the chief part of a Prussian corps, (that afterwards carried it by assault) had been annihilated, that the brave youths gave way.

The tomb of my early friend and brother officer, the brave and unfortunate Captain Wright, who was murdered in the Temple, is in the cemetery of Vaugirard. I had searched for it in vain at Pere la Chaise, where it was reported he had been buried. It has on it the following inscription written to his memory by his companion in arms, and in imprisonment, the gallant Sir Sidney Smith:-

Here Lies Inhumed
BY BIRTH AN Englishman,
Distinguished both among his own Countrymen and Foreigners
For skill and courage
To whom,
Of those things which lead to the summit of glory,
Nothing was wanting but opportunity.
His ancestors, whose virtues he inherited,
He honoured by his deeds.
Quick in apprehending his orders,
Active and bold in the execution of them.
In success modest,
In adverse circumstances firm,
In doubtful enterprises, wise and prudent.
Awhile successful in his career,
At length assailed by adverse winds, and on an hostile shore,
He was captured;
And being soon after brought to Paris,
Was confined in the prison called the Temple,
Infamous for midnight murders,
And placed in the most rigid custody:
But in bonds,
And suffering severities still more oppressive,
His fortitude of mind and fidelity to his country
Remained unshaken.
A short time after,
He was found in the morning with his throat cut,
And dead in his bed.
He died the 28th October, 1805, aged 36.
To be lamented by his Country,
Avenged by his God!

[Wright's grave has long been lost to time.]

1825 A visit to Père la Chaise by N. H. Carter

[Part of an ongoing series reproducing articles that were written about Père-Lachaise during its early years, the following is from Letters from Europe, vol. 1, by American traveler N. H. Carter, New York: Carvill, 1827, pp. 391-98. In the early part of the article Carter discusses the funeral procession and burial at Pére Lachaise of General Maximillien Foy. I have included several prints of the Foy funeral procession, his first monument and subsequent larger mausoleum as well as a contemporary photo. Numbers preceded by the letter D refer to the division where you can find the tomb.]

We found the city of fashion, gaiety, and dissipation, dissolved in tears and clad in the habiliments of woe - a spectacle, which probably is not witnessed once in half a century. The death of General Foy, distinguished as a soldier and a statesman, esteemed for his talents, but still more for his integrity, his public and private virtues, created a sensation in the French metropolis, which I had supposed nothing short of a recurrence of the scenes of the Revolution, or another visit from the allied armies could produce. His funeral obsequies were attended on the day after our arrival. All classes of an enthusiastic people, from the nobility down to the humbler walks of life, appeared to participate in the tribute of respect to the remains of a man, who was universally known and as universally beloved. Every street through which the procession was to pass, in its progress from the church of Notre Dame, in which the funeral rites were solemnized, to the cemetery of Pere La Chaise, where the General was buried, a distance of two or three miles, was thronged with spectators, of both sexes, in carriages and on foot, who remained all day in the rain, to witness the military parade and pompous ceremony.

Our little party took a fiacre, (answering very nearly to a hackney coach in London or New York,) and joined the multitude, whose different equipages, costumes, customs, and manners, afforded much more interest, than the mere interment of a great man, who was comparatively unknown to us, and whose death could therefore occasion nothing more than a general sympathy for another instance of the common lot. A remarkable degree of order and decorum prevailed throughout the immense crowd, whose feelings seemed hallowed by the solemn occasion. There were no riots - no quarrels for places - none of that noisy and boisterous confusion, observable among the populace of England, and sometimes amidst large collections of people in our own country. While the procession was passing, not a voice was heard above a whisper, in the innumerable concourse, and if there chanced to be the least movement or bustle, a hiss soon checked the breach of decorum. The only confusion arose from the struggles of a company of young men, belonging to one of the public institutions, who were ambitious of carrying the corpse of General Foy, and were so enthusiastic, as to resist the arrangements for the ceremony, and to press their claims to the honour, till the hearse had arrived at the very gates of the cemetery. Every few minutes, they would rush up to the coffin, whence they were driven back by the military escort, but without any act of violence.


The whole day, from 10 or 11 o'clock in the morning, was occupied in the solemnity. We rode to Pere La Chaise at an early hour, and there waited till dark, expecting every moment the approach of the procession. Just in the dusk of evening, the flambeaux were seen to glare along the avenues, and upon the multitude of faces thronging the sides of the way. A long array of the military, carriages, and citizens on foot followed the nodding plumes of the hearse, occupying nearly half an hour in passing the gates of the burying-ground. It was impossible for us to make our way through the crowd, and approach near enough to witness the ceremony at the grave. Gleams of the funeral torches were alone distinguishable. The interment was not completed till 7 or 8 o'clock.

c. 1828

c. 1828

A temporary monument was erected over the grave, and hung with garlands of flowers in a few days after the burial; and the sum of eight or nine hundred thousand francs has since been raised by subscription, to defray the expense of a public mausoleum to the memory of the General, and to provide for his family. La Fitte, a rich banker, set the example of liberality by subscribing 50,000 francs, or 10,0OO dollars. The day after the funeral, portraits, prints, and biographical sketches of General Foy, as well as the elegiac effusions of the Gallic Muse, were for sale at all the shops in Paris. The papers were filled with eulogiums; pocket-handkerchiefs were struck off, bearing likenesses of the deceased; and in short, his name met you at every turn in the streets. He was of the liberal, or rather moderate party in politics, agreeing in sentiment with General La Fayette, of whom he was a personal friend. His death has produced a strong sensation in the public mind, not only at Paris, but throughout France, giving strength to the republican cause, in the guise of honours to his memory.

c. 1841

c. 1841

photo from Wikimedia 

photo from Wikimedia 

Our casual attendance at the interment of General Foy, and a subsequent visit on a day more favourable for observation, afforded us a full opportunity of examining the cemetery of Pere La Chaise, which is the great repository of the dead at Paris, and reflects infinite credit upon the city, as well as upon the character of the French people. In all respects it very far surpasses any thing of the kind I have ever seen, and the design strongly recommends itself to the imitation of all great cities. Were it possible for the inhabitants of New-York, en masse, to pay a single visit to this cemetery, I am persuaded they would at once surrender every lingering prejudice, and be unanimously in favour of adopting, a similar plan; for besides possessing all the conveniences of sepulture, on very moderate terms, a burying-ground, which in narrow enclosures and amidst a crowded population is generally a repulsive object, has here become a great monument of national taste and national feeling, inviting the stranger, as well as the citizen who is attracted by more sacred ties, to resort frequently to its rural; retired, and consecrated walks, where the body is refreshed by a pure air, the mind meets with themes for serious meditation, and the heart cannot fail to be improved.

Pere La Chaise is in the eastern suburbs of Paris, situated upon the declivity of Mont Louis, about three miles from the centre of the city. Its appellation is derived from a Jesuit of the same name, who was confessor lo Louis XIV. and at one time presided over the ecclesiastical affairs of France. As a recompense for his arduous services, his sovereign gave him this beautiful eminence, and built him a chateau near its summit, which was once the seat of the intrigues of his powerful order. Its site is at present occupied by a large and handsome chapel, approached by a lofty flight of steps, lighted at top by a dome, and surmounted by a cross, forming a conspicuous object at a distance. The edifice has recently been erected, and is destitute of any ornaments, or interesting associations, other than those that have been named.

The cemetery itself was commenced in 1804, under the auspice of Napoleon, and the superintendence of M. Brongniart. Its location is charming, commanding a full view of Paris and its romantic environs. The enclosure comprises an area of about seventy acres, on a surface so broken and diversified, as to embrace a great variety of natural scenery-rocks, hills, and deep vales. In many places the acclivity is so steep, as to render terraces and flights of steps necessary. The whole is encircled by a substantial and handsome fence. In front, there is a semi-circular recess, with lofty portals conducting to the principal avenues, which are wide gravel walks, and extend by the chapel to the extremity of the grounds. The gate is finished in a style of architecture, and with ornaments suited to the place, bearing over the top a Latin inscription of the following passage from the book of Job: -- “For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that I shall rise from the earth in the latter day.” On the right, are inscribed the words of the Evangelist -- "For he that believeth in me, though he were dead, shall live” -- and on the left of the gate is another inscription equally appropriate - “Their hope is full of immortality."

Such is the entrance to this great receptacle of the dead: and surely nothing can be more chaste in design, or more consonant with the spirit of the christian religion. Here are no altars erected “to the unknown God" - no evidences of those atheistical or deistical notions, which French philosophers have been accused of entertaining. The area of the cemetery is beautifully shaded with cypress and other evergreens, amidst the lively verdure of which the white marble monuments and tomb-stones, in every possible form, and wrought with much elegance, produce the finest and most picturesque effect. In some cases a solitary shrub hangs its sombre tresses over a grave; while in others, the monumental marble is completely embowered by the green branches. Every stone, every plant, every turf is adjusted with perfect taste. But the most striking and interesting features in the cemetery are the little marks of remembrance, feeling, and affection which the French manifest for their departed friends. Every variety of ornament has been devised to decorate the tombs. Most of them are enclosed by a neat railing. Some times miniature temples have been erected at the heads of the graves, and at others, bouquets of flowers are placed under glass covers, like those used for the ornaments of mantel-pieces. A profusion of garlands strew the consecrated sod, and are entwined among the cypress.

So vivid is the image produced by a multiplicity of these little decoration, composed perhaps of the pledges of mutual affection in life, as to seem almost to form a medium of communication between the living and the dead. Not a single grave, however humble it may be, bears the marks of dilapidation or neglect; and what will appear still more remarkable both in the United States and Great-Britain, all these fragile ornaments are daily exposed to crowd11 of people, high and low, old and young, without being in the slightest degree molested. In a word, this cemetery furnishes throughout, the most striking monument of a refined and delicate nation, that has ever fallen within the sphere of my observation. Something no doubt is to be ascribed to the influence of a popular and splendid faith, which enjoins it upon the living to visit the tombs of the dead at stated periods, and which sanctifies the humblest offerings, in the estimation of the multitude. On All-Souls day, immense crowds perform a solemn pilgrimage to Mont Louis, bearing garlands and decorations of every description, to be strewed upon the graves of their departed relatives, recollections of whom are annually revived, and sacred oblations poured forth to their manes.

 [In a footnote, Carter adds: In November, 1826, I again visited Pere La Chaise, to witness the rites of the Fete des Morts, in company with the author of the Pioneers and his family. [James Fenimore Cooper.] We saw along the road many pilgrims, bound to Mount Louis, and bearing garlands for the graves of their departed friends. The cemetery was filled with a crowd of both sexes, who had come to make their annual offerings. And renew their pledges of affection. Nearly all the inhabitants of the faubourgs adjacent to Pere La Chaise are employed in the manufacture of sepulchral monuments, and of little ornaments for the tombs. Since my last visit, Talma [D12], who I left treading the stage in the fullness of his dramatic fame, had made his final exit, in a style strictly tragic, amidst the years and the plaudits of his enthusiastic countrymen, adding another distinguished shade to the great congregation of the dead. A gust of wind and rain drove us from the cemetery, before we had time to pay a tribute to his grave.]

As Pere La Chaise is decidedly one of the most interesting objects we have met in our travels, I trust my readers will pardon me for subjoining a few additional particulars, especially as New-York and other places may hereafter think proper to adopt something of the same kind. Albany has already a burying-ground similar in design, though far inferior in artificial embellishments. In our country, where beautiful forest trees and shrubbery of all descriptions are so abundant, it is the easiest thing in nature to convert the church-yard of the humblest village into an attractive object, without any expense. Every person of taste and of feeling would prefer, that his grave should be shaded by a cypress or a willow, planted by the hand of affection, rather than decorated with the proudest marble that wealth and art could erect. But the two ornaments may be united, as they have been at Mont Louis; and although the ashes of the dead may regard none of these things, which arc of little moment in comparison with the other concerns of the grave, yet reason does not restrain us from extending our cares to the unconscious dust:

"E'en from the tomb the voice of nature cries,
E'en in our ashes live their wonted fires."

The income arising from the settled price of interments in Pere La Chaise has been amply sufficient to defray the whole expenses of the cemetery, without imposing any public tax upon the city. There are three kinds of graves: First, those denominated fosses commune, in which the poor are gratuitously buried in coffins placed near each other. The trenches are four and a half feet deep, and are opened once in five years, which is a sufficient time for the body to be decomposed. Secondly, temporary graves, which are held for the term of ten years, on the payment of 50 francs. By paying 200 franks more, before the expiration of the time, the tenure may be rendered perpetual; otherwise, they must be given up, though monuments may have been erected. Thirdly, permanent graves, which are purchased at 250 francs the metre, and are secure from disturbance. About 100,000 persons have been buried here since the 21st of May, 1804, on which day the first funeral took place. There are two or three other cemeteries upon the same plan, in the suburbs of Paris; but they are small in comparison with this. The catacombs or subterranean repositories of the dead, extending for miles under the city, and running even beneath the bed of the Seine, are now undergoing repairs to prevent the roof from falling, and cannot on that account be visited.

This sketch of the abodes of the dead, which to some of my readers may be less interesting than the dwellings of the living, has already been protracted to such length, as to leave me little space to speak of some of the more remarkable monuments. The most conspicuous, as well as the most attractive of these, is the lofty tomb in memory of Abelard and Heloise [D07], the two unfortunate lovers who have been immortalized by the beautiful poem of Pope. It is in the form of a Gothic Chapel, formed out of the ruins of the Abbey of Paraclete, over which Heloise presided, and where she died in the 12th century. The mausoleum is 14 feet in length, 11 in breadth, and 24 in height, surmounted by four pinnacles at the corners, and one in the centre, rising 12 feet above the roof. Ten arches rest upon fourteen beautiful columns, six feet in height. This chapel contains the tomb built for Abelard at the Priory of St. Marcel, near Chalons, where he died. He is represented in a recumbent posture, with the statue of Heloise by his side. There is no doubt, that the real dust of the two lovers, after being removed from place to place, alternately united and divided, is at last here commingled. The monument is very complex, and loaded with a profusion of ornaments, with. a number of historical inscriptions, and an epitaph in Latin from the pen of Marmontel. One of our native artists, now prosecuting his professional pursuits at Paris, has made a very accurate sketch of the tomb, a print of which may perhaps hereafter be seen in the shops of Broadway.

Among the numerous other tombs of distinguished persons, chiefly grouped together in what has heen denominated the classical department of the cemetery, are those of the poets Moliere [D25], La Fontaine [D25], Delille [D11], and Chenier [D08]; St. Pierre [D11], author of the Studies of Nature, and of Paul and Virginia; Hauy [D60], the mineralogist; Fourcroy [D11], the chemist; Delambre [D11], an eminent astronomer ; Sonini [D04], the naturalist and friend of Buffon; Madame Blanchard [D13], the celebrated aeronaut and a hundred others too numerous to be mentioned. Delille's grave is surrounded by a beautiful little garden, and the marble in memory of La Fontaine is ornamented with the images of some of theanimals, that formed the dramatis personae of his Fables. One of the most interesting monuments is a stately mausoleum of black marble, erected in 1823, to commemorate the fame and philanthropy of the Abbe Sicard [D39], who signalized himself by his successful efforts for the instruction of the deaf and dumb. Near the top of the column six hands are portrayed in different positions, so as to spell his name, according to the signs manual adopted in his system of education.

In another part of the cemetery, along the brow of the eminence, are the tombs of many of the celebrated Marshals of France; Massena [D28], Davoust [D28], Lefebvre [D28], Decres [D39], Perignon [D24], Beauharnais, Ney [D29], and others. Many of them have lofty columns of marble, sculptured with emblematic representations of their achievements. Marshal Ney, who was shot by a file of his own soldiers in the garden of the Luxembourg, giving to them himself directions to fire, once had a splendid monument, which has been barbarously demolished since the restoration, and he now sleeps without even the record of his name. His grave is enclosed by an iron railing, and four beautiful cypresses raise their little pyramids of verdure at the corners.

On the declivity below the Chapel, and amidst the thickest copses of evergreen, stands a charming little cottage or bower, woven of reeds and thatched with turf. It is just large enough for a chair and small table, which still remain, though the door is locked, and the tenant has gone, I believe' to another world. Its history, as derived from the old man who conducted us through Pere La Chaise, is so romantic that I was not very anxious to inquire into its authenticity. As the story runs, another Abelard in enthusiastic, though not criminal love, was strongly attached to an accomplished lady, who suddenly died, and was here buried. Crossed and crazed by a hopeless passion, he erected this little rustic shrine over her grave, where be used to pass whole days in writing letters to the departed spirit of his Heloise, leaving them upon the table, and fancying that she came each night to peruse the messages of his unchanging affection.

Towards the northern side of the cemetery, and on the most elevated point of Mont Louis, is a section of the enclosure devoted chiefly to the interment of foreigners. In this silent assemblage of the dead, may be found representatives from every nation on the globe, who died in Paris and here rest side by side. The graves of the English, Scotch, and Irish, are the most numerous; and next to these, Spaniards, Germans, and Italians. Too large a group of our own countrymen add to the number and variety of the mixed congregation. A beautiful marble pyramid attracted us to the spot, where sleep the remains of Adam Seybert [D43], formerly of Philadelphia, a member of Congress, and author of a valuable work on the statistics of the United States. He died at Paris in May, 1825. The monument was erected by the piety of his son, and does credit to his taste as well as to his filial affection. Near by is the grave of Mr. Miller [D43], of New-Jersey, an eloquent and eminent young lawyer, who fell a victim to the ardour of his professional pursuits. He came out to France for the benefit of his health the last summer, and died soon after His arrival. In the same vicinity, are the graves of Richards [D43] of New-York, a promising young gentleman, educated at West Point; and of Tucker [D43], from Boston, who died, and were buried on the same day. Their premature deaths in a foreign land, far from their friends and country, produced a lively sympathy even among strangers. A monument was observed in memory of Mr. Smith of New-York [D43]; as also a remarkably neat column, erected by paternal affection, to commemorate the death of Louisa Butler [D43], a young lady from the United States, who died at the age of seventeen. With a tribute of sympathy for the fate of so many of our countrymen, we concluded our survey of Pere La Chaise, as I now conclude the prolix sketch of my observations.

I will be in Paris in late April

I'm returning to Paris in late April and plan to spend several days in Pére-Lachaise, Montparnasse, Montmartre and Passy cemeteries tracking down sculptures and old burials. If you need a photo of a gravesite please send me the name and grave location and I'll shoot the image for you. Just be aware that I won't have time to search cemetery records, however.  You must already know the grave division and hopefully line number. Sorry, but I have a very long shot list. . . . 

photo of the temporary memorial column to the dead from World War 1, in front of the chapel in division 55.

photo of the temporary memorial column to the dead from World War 1, in front of the chapel in division 55.

Postcard from Paris: Mur des Fédérés

On 28 May 1871, 147 Communard prisoners were lined up against the wall presently marking the boundary of the cemetery and summarily shot. Their bodies were thrown into a mass grave in front of the wall that marks the edge of this part of the cemetery (the original wall was replaced long ago). Located in D76 just off of Avenue Circulaire.

Taken in late May, year unknown but before 1907. The grave barely noticeabl to the lower left is probably that of Reties


. . . and in 2009:


Postcard from Paris: Garet-Mathon

Edmé-Adolphe Garet (1826–1898), chief engineer of Paris-Lyon railway; and E. Mathon (d. 1922). Description: Statue of la Douleur above two medallions, Edmé Garet and E. Mathon.
Sculptor: Félix Charpentier (statue); name illegible (medallions).
Street: Avenue Transversale No. 3 near the entrance to the crosspath, D96.
Postcard photo c. 1900.


and in 2006:


Postcard from Paris: Émile-Justin Ménier

Émile-Justin Ménier (1826–1881) was  French chocolatier.
Description: A bust of Émile above the entrance to the mausoleum. On either side of the door is a caryatid: on the left is a statue representing La Commerce reading a book entitled Work; to the right is L’Industrie holding a palm and crown in one hand and in the other a manuscript that reads Charity. According to Moiroux, there are two additional statues: La Travail (Work) and La Bienfaisance (Charity)
Sculptor: François-Ambroise-Germain Gilbert.
Street: Chemin Bourget and Chemin Hautoy. D67.
Postcard photo c. 1900.


and in 2006:


Lost and found in Paris: the bodies of Louix XVI and Marie Antoinette


[The following is excerpted from The History of Paris from the Earliest Period to the Present Day, vol. III, by A. & W. Galignani, 1825.]

Cimetière de la Madeleine.--This cemetery, no longer used as a burial-ground, was a dependence upon the ancient church dedicated to Mary Magdalen, situated in the Ville l'Eveque, and is principally remarkable for having been the place of interment of the unfortunate Louis XVI. and his royal consort. Upon the execution of that monarch, on the 21st of January, 1793, the body and head were deposited in a deep grave in the cemetery de la Madeleine. The queen, Marie Antoinette, was guillotined on the 16th of October in the same year, and, at her own desire, her remains were interred near those of her unfortunate spouse. For a considerable time the cemetery was guarded, lest any attempt should he made to remove the bodies of the royal victims. The church having been [371] long demolished, it was determined, in 1797, to sell the cemetery by auction. M. Descloseaux, [buried in D45 Pere-Lachaise] an ancient advocate of the Parlement, who was proprietor of a house contiguous, became the purchaser. He caused the ground, to be covered with a layer of new mould, and planted as an orchard; the alleys of the old burial-ground were marked out by rows of trees, and the surface covered with turf. The spot where the royal remains were deposited was separated from the rest of the ground by a hedge, above which arose willows and cypresses; and over the grave of the king a small hillock was thrown up, and surmounted by a cross.

By a remarkable coincidence, the royal victims were surrounded by many of their most devoted friends, and some of their bitterest enemies. At their feet lay five hundred of the Swiss guards, who perished on the 10th of August; at a short distance, along the wall, were deposited the most distinguished members of the Parlemens of Paris and Toulouse, the courageous Lamoignon de Malesherbes and mesdames de Rosambo and de Chateaubriand, his daughters; the duchess de Choiseul, the duke de Villeroy, the duchess de Grammont, the count de la Tour-du-Pin, the marquis de la Tour-du-Pin-Gouvernet, the count d'Estaing, the civil lieutenant Angrand d' Alleray; the lieutenant of police Thiroux de Crosne, and the grenadiers of the battalion des Filles-Saint-Thomas, who valiantly defended the king on the memorable 20th of June. A little behind were deposited the bodies of five hundred more of the Swiss guards, who also fell victims to their fidelity on the 10th of August. In the middle of the ground lay Charlotte Corday, who assassinated Marat; and near her, the intendant of the civil list Laporte; Cazotte, du Rozoi, d'Aigremot, the first who perished on the Place Royale for the king's cause; [372] and the eloquent Barnave, who was sacrificed by the populace whom he caressed. On the south were buried Camille Desmoulins, who, with a pistol in his hand, gave the signal in the Palais Royal for revolution and massacre; Danton, Westermann, Hebert, Chaumette, Brissot, Vergniaud, Gensonne, Gorsas, and Bailly. In the same sepulchre with these party-leaders, were buried many victims of their attachment to the government and the religion of their ancestors. Near them were the ashes of the unfortunate persons who perished on the place Louis XV. and in the rue Royale, in 1770, when a fete was given by the city of Paris upon the marriage of the dauphin, afterwards Louis XVI.

Great prudence was requisite on the part of M. Descloseaux to preserve the remains which he had voluntarily taken upon himself to protect. During the ·absence of the house of Bourbon from France, a few of their devoted servants were occasionally admitted to visit the spot, which the owner was frequently solicited to sell. In 1810, an unknown personage, whose appearance denoted opulence, offered to purchase the orchard at ·any price M. Descloseaux might fix. A magnificent hotel in Paris, or an estate in the country, was proposed, but he replied:--"Sir, none of your proposals can ever he acceded to. In purchasing this ground I knew the treasure it possessed, and no offers shall make me alienate it; whilst · there are laws, I will avail myself of them for its defence; and when there are none, I will seize my musket· to punish any one-who dares attempt to deprive me. of the sacred deposit of which I have constituted myself the guardian. I will restore it to none but the family for whom alone I preserve it; and no vile motive of interest shall ever induce me to yield." The family of M. Descloseaux [373] collected carefully the flowers which blossomed upon the royal graves, and sent them annually, with slips of the cypresses, to the duchess of Angouleme in a foreign land.

Upon the restoration of his majesty Louis XVIll., in 1814, the cemetery de la Madeleine was resorted to by natives and foreigners. The king of Prussia visited it a few days after his entry into Paris. When the duchess of Angouleme had returned to the palate of her ancestors, her first care was to visit the sacred spot, where, after giving vent to the anguish of her feelings, her royal highness said to M. Descloseaux, "I did not expect to find such faithful Frenchmen. Good old man, you have religiously preserved the ashes of my parents; your family will be blessed." The duchess afterwards frequently repaired to the cemetery; and on her last visit was accompanied by MONSIEUR. The prince, taking off his cordon of the order of Saint Michael, invested M. Descloseaux with it in the king's name. His majesty also granted him a pension, with reversion in part to his daughters. M. Descloseaux had already ceded the orchard to his sovereign without fixing a price.

His majesty having decreed that the remains of the late king and queen should be disinterred, and deposited in the abbey church of Saint Denis, the ancient burial-place of the kings and royal family of France, the measures requisite to that effect were forthwith adopted. Previous to searching for the remains, it was determined to examine such persons as could give testimony respecting the interments in order that the precise spot might be ascertained. The result of this examination is contained in the following report, presented to the king by the chancellor of France:--

" I, Charles Henry Dambray, chancellor of France, having been charged by your majesty to ascertain and report the circumstances [374] that preceded, accompanied, and followed the interment of their late majesties Louis XVI. and the queen Marie Antoinette, summoned before me, this 22d day of May, 1814, the witnesses whose names bad been handed to me, and received from them the following depositions:--

"François Silvani Renard, formerly rector of the church de la Madeleine, deposed as follows:--‘On the 20t of January, 1793; M. Picavez, curate of the parish de la Madeleine, received an injunction from the executive government to fulfil its commands relative to the obsequies of his majesty Louis XVI. M. Picavez, not possessing the firmness necessary to fulfil so painful and melancholy a duty, alleged indisposition, and appointed me, as his premier vicaire, to occupy his place, enjoining me to adhere strictly, upon my own responsibility, to the orders given by the executive government. No one being more strongly attached to the king than myself, I refused to perform the service; but upon M. Picavez justly observing that a second refusal might bring incalculable evils upon both of us, I consented. Accordingly, the next day, January 21, after ascertaining that the orders of the executive power relative to the quantity of lime, and the depth of the grave, which, to the best of my recollection, was ten or twelve feet deep, had been performed, I remained at the church door, accompanied by the late abbe Damoreau and a cross-bearer, till the body of his majesty should be given into our hands. Upon my demanding the surrender of the body, the members of the department and the commune answered that they were ordered not to lose sight of it for a moment. The abbe Damoreau and myself were therefore compelled to accompany them · to the cemetery situated in the rue d' Anjou. Upon reaching the spot, I ordered the most profound silence to be observed. The king's body was then presented to us. It was dressed in a white dimity waistcoat, and grey silk small clothes and stockings. We sung vespers, and recited all the prayers of the burial service; and it is but just to acknowledge, that the populace, who but a few moments before rent the air with their vociferations, listened attentively to the supplications offered up for the repose of his majesty'soul. The clothes were taken off before the corpse was placed in the coffin, which was then deposited in a grave about ten feet from the wall, into which a quantity of quick lime had been thrown by order of the executive government. The coffin was covered with a layer of lime, upon which the earth was thrown in, and beaten firmly down. We withdrew in silence after this painful ceremony; and, to the best of my recollection, minutes were made by the juge de paix, and signed by the members of the department and the [375] commune. On returning to the church I drew up a register, which was taken by the members of the revolutionary committee, who were waiting in the cloisters.’

"Antoine Lamaignere, juge de paix of the first arrondissement, deposed, that he was not present at the king's interment, but arrived at the spot the moment after the body had been covered with lime. He added, that the spot enclosed in the orchard of M. Descloseaux is really that in which the king was buried.

"Jean-Richard-Eve Vaudremont, registrar to the juge de paix of the first arrondissement, deposed, that in his official capacity he accompanied the juge de paix to the cemetery de la Madeleine, a short time after the king's burial, which took place in the spot marked out in the orchard of M. Descloseaux.

"M. Dominique-Emmanuel Daujon, son-in-law of M. Descloseaux, deposed, that he witneased the interment of both the king and the queen. He saw them both placed in their graves in coffins without lids, which were then filled up with quick lime and earth; the king's head, which had been separated from the body, was placed between his legs; he had never lost sight of the spot, which he regarded as sacred. Upon the purchase of the ground by his father-in-law, the walls were heightened, and the space in which the bodies of their majesties were interred was surrounded by a hedge of elms, near which several cypresses and willows were planted.

"Alexandre-Etienne-Hippolyte, baron de Baye, deposed, that he saw the carriage pass in which the king's body was conveyed to the cemetery de la Madeleine; he did not follow it, but heard it affirmed that the corpse was deposited at the spot since marked out by M. Descloseaux; and that the latter had been offered an hotel in Paris in exchange for the ground, but refused to comply.

"Done and signed at Paris, in the Hotel de la Chancellerie, this 2d day of May, 1814.

(Signed) "Dambray."

This preliminary measure having been executed, it was decreed that the remains of their late majesties should be conveyed to Saint Denis on the 21st of January-following, it being the anniversary of the king's death; and to that effect a commission. was appointed to superintend the exhumation of the bodies. The following is their report:--

"On the 18th of January, 1815, we, Charles-Henry Dambray, chancellor of France; the count de Blacas, minister of the king's household; M. le Bailli de Crussol, knight; M. de la Fare, bishop [376] of Nancy, and chief almonier to the duchess of Augouleme; and M. Phillippe Distel, his majesty's surgeon, commissioners appointed by the king to search for the sacred remains of their late majesties Louis XVI. and the queen Marie Antoinette, his august consort, repaired, at eight o'clock in the morning, to the ancient cemetery de la Madeleine, rue d'Anjou.

"Upon entering the house No. 48, adjoining the cemetery, which had been purchased by M. Descloseaux, and converted into an orchard, in order to preserve the remains deposited therein, we found the said M. Descloseaux, together with M. Daujon his son-in-law, and several other members of his family, who conducted us into the ancient cemetery, and pointed out the spot in which M. Daujon, in his deposition on the 22d of May, 18l4, had declared that he saw the bodies of the king and queen interred.


"Having thus ascertained the spot, we began by searching for the body of the queen, in order that the remains of his majesty might be discovered with the greater certainty, as we had reason to believe that they had been deposited nearer the wall, towards the rue d' Anjou. After the workmen, several of whom had witnessed the interment of the queen, had opened, to the depth of five feet, a space ten feet in length by five or six in breadth, we found a 'bed of lime ten or eleven inches deep, which we ordered to he removed with the greatest care; under this bed we distinctly perceived the outline of a coffin about five feet six inches in length. Following these traces, we discovered, in the depth of the lime, several pieces of board still fastened together. In this coffin we found a number of bones, but several were wanting, having undoubtedly been reduced to dust; the skull was entire, and its position indicated incontestably that it had been severed from· the body. We also found remains of clothing, and particularly two elastic garters, in good preservation. The whole were placed in a chest, and locked up. In another chest were deposited the earth and lime found mixed. with the bones. The opening in the cemetery was then covered with thick planks, and we proceeded to search for the body of the king. To that effect, we caused an opening twelve feet square to be dug between the former opening and, the wal towards the rue d'Anjou. Not finding any lime to indicate that the king's body had been interred there, we considered it necessary to dig a little lower in the same direction, but the approach of night compelled us to suspend the search until the following day. The two chests were removed into M. Descloseaux’s hall, where they were sealed with the arms of France, covered with a pall, and surrounded with lighted tapers. The priests of his majesty's chapel spent the night in the hall; repeating the prayers of the [377] church. The gates of the cemetery were then locked, and a guard stationed round the ground.

"We again repaired to the cemetery at half past eight o'clock on the morning of January 19, attended by the workmen. A deep trench, nearer the wall, being opened in our presence, we discovered some earth mingled with lime, and several small pieces of board, indicative of a coffin. The search was then carried on with the greatest care; but instead of a bed of pure lime, as round the queen's coffin, we found that the earth and lime bad been mixed, but that there was a greater proportion of the latter substance. In this mixture of earth and lime we discovered the bones of a man, several of which were on the point of crumbling to dust; the skull was covered with lime, and placed between the leg-bones. Fragments of clothes were carefully looked for, but none were discovered. We collected all the remains, and placed them, together with some pieces of lime, in a cloth brought for the purpose. Although the spot in which the body was found corresponded with that pointed out by several eye-witnesses of the interment, and the situation of the head left no doubt as to its identity, we nevertheless caused the ground to be dug twelve feet deep to the distance of twenty-five feet, in order to ascertain whether there was any where a bed of pure lime. No such bed being found was a corroboration of the proof, already satisfactory, that the remains we were in possession of were those of the king. These remains were enclosed in a chest, sealed with the arms of France, conveyed into the hall of M. Descloseaux, and placed by the side of those of the queen. The priests continued to repeat the prayers of the church over the two bodies.

"On the 20th of January we proceeded, in pursuance of the king's commands, to the house of M. Descloseaux, where we, the commissioners who had been present at the preceding operations, together with other personages whose right of office, or the king's commands, bad assembled, witnessed the removal of the remains of their majesties into leaden coffins made for that purpose.

"In the presence of these noble and other personages, we broke the seals and opened the chests in which the remains had been deposited. Those of his majesty were placed in a leaden coftin, together with the pieces of lime and wood, and were then soldered down. Upon the lid was fastened a gold plate, with the following inscription:--

Ici est le corps du tres-haut, tres-puissant et tres-excellence prince, Louis XVI. du nom, par la grace de Dieu roi de France et de Navarre.

"The remains of the queen were then deposited in a leaden [378] coffin, in the presence of the same personages, and soldered down. Upon the lid was the following inscription:--

Ici est le corps du tres-haut, tres-puissant et tres-excellente princesse,

Marie-Antoinette -Josephine-Jeanne de Lorraine, archduchesse d’Autriche, epouse du tres-haut, tres-puissant et tres-excellence Louis XVI. du nom, par la grace de Dieu roi de France et de Navarre.

"The coffins were then covered with palls, and the priests were ordered to continue repeating prayers near them till their removal to Saint Denis.

"In proof whereof, etc.

"Paris, January 20, 18i5.

(Signed) "Dambray, De Blacas, De la Fare," etc. etc.

On the 21st of January, 1.815, the remains of the unfortunate Louis XVI. and his royal consort were conveyed to the abbey-church of Saint Denis. At an early hour in the morning, all the regiments in garrison at Paris were under arms, and formed a double line from the rue d'Anjou to the barrier Saint Denis. At eight o'clock, MONSIEUR, accompanied by the duke of Angouleme and the duke of Berry, went from the palace of the Tuileries to the house of M. Descloseaux, and laid the first stone of a sepulchral chapel, upon the spot where the royal remains had been discovered. The coffins were then carried to the funeral car by twelve of the guards de la Manche, and the procession moved forward in the following order:--

A detachment of gendarmes.
The colonel of the king's regiment of huasars.
The trumpeters of the same regiment.
A squadron of the same regiment.
The colonel of the king and queen's regiment of light infantry.
Band and colours of the same regiment.
A detachment of the same regiment.
The governor of the first military division, attended by his stall:
A detachment of the national guards, on horseback.
A detachment of the national guards, 0n foot.
Lieutenant-general Dessolle, attended by the staff of the national guards.
A captain and officers of the king's guards. [379]
A detachment of grenadiers on horseback.
The great officers of the king's household, and those of the princes, in three carriages drawn by eight horses.
A detachment of fusiliers of the king's guards, headed by their officers and band.
A detachment of the light hone of the king's guards, headed by their officers, trumpets, and cymbals.
A number of high personages, appointed by his majesty to attend the procession, in eight carriages drawn by eight horses.
Monsieur, the duke of Angouleme, and the duke of Berry, in a carriage drawn by eight horses.
Four heralds, on horseback.
The king at arms on horseback.
The grand master of the ceremonies, attended by the master of the ceremonies and assistants, on horseback.
Four light horsemen.
Two gentlemen ushers, on horseback.
The funeral car.--At the wheels were the captains of the four compagnies rouge. 0n the sides were six guards de la Manche. It was escorted to the barrier Saint Denis by thirty of the Cent Suisses, headed by their captain.
The equerry of the king’s stables, on horseback.
The captain of the body guards.
The officers of the same corps.
A detachment of the same corps.
A detachment of gendarmes of the king's guards.
A detachment of Monsieur’s guards.
Monsieur’s carriage.
The duke of Angouleme’s carriage.
The duke of Berry's carriage.
A detachment of the national guards on horseback.
A squadron of the king's dragoons.

A detachment of artillery joined the procession at the barrier Saint Denis, and followed it, firing minute guns. A regiment of the king's chasseurs lined the road from Paris to Saint Denis. The drums and musical instruments were covered with black serge, and the arms and colours of the troops were ornamented with crape. A deep and solemn silence prevailed among the multitudes who thronged the streets and road by· which the ·procession passed. [380]


Upon reaching the church of Saint Denis, the bodies were taken from the car by the guards de la Manche, and carried into the church, where they were received by the clergy, and presented by the bishop of Carcassone to the bishop of Aire. They were then placed upon a lofty tomb of state in the midst of the choir. Monsieur, after retiring for a few minutes, entered the church, and was followed by the duke of Angouleme, the duke of Berry, the duke of Orleans, and the prince de Conde, who occupied the stalls on the right nearest the "altar. The duchess of Orleans, the duchess of Bourbon, and mademoiselle of Orleans, entered the opposite stalls. Next to the princes sat the duke 'of Dalmatia, the duke de Reggio, count Barthelemy, and M. Laine, whom the king had appointed to support the pall when the coffins were carried to the vault. The other stalls were occupied by deputations from the Court of Cassation, the Court of Accompts, the Council of the University, the Cour Royale, the Municipality, and the Tribunal de Premiere lnstance. The choir. was filled by the great officers of the king's household, the officers of the princes' households, his majesty's ministers, the high personages appointed to form part of the procession, the marshals and peers of France, the deputies of the departments, the grand crosses of the order of Saint Louis, the grand cordons of the Legion of Honour, the major-general and staff of the national guards, the governor of the first military division and his staff, and a great number of generals and other military officers. The governess of the royal children, the ladies in waiting upon her late majesty, and the ladies in waiting upon the duchess of Angouleme, sat upon benches near the coffins. Four hundred young ladies of the maison royale de Saint Denis were seated in front of the altar.

When all these attendants had taken their places, the [381] service commenced. The princes and princesses, followed by the grand master and master of the ceremonies, and their assistants, approached the altar to present their offerings, after which a funeral oration was delivered by the bishop of Troyes. The absolution having been pronounced, the bodies were lowered into the royal vault, into which Monsiuer and the two princes, his sons, descended, and prostrated themselves upon the coffins of their royal relatives. Salutes of artillery were fired at the moment when the procession set out from Paris, during the service at Saint Denis, and when the bodies were lowered into the vault.

To perpetuate the memory of these august victims, the king has ordained that solemn funeral services shall be performed annually, in all the churches of the kingdom, on the 21st of January, for the repose of the soul of Louis XVI.; and on the 16th of October, for that of his royal consort; and that on those days the court shall wear mourning, and the public offices, courts of justice, exchange, and theatres be closed.

To testify her sense of his unshaken fidelity, the duchess of Angouleme presented to M. Descloscaux portraits of her unfortunate parents; and upon the spot where he for so many years watched over their remains, a sepulchral chapel, after the designs of Fontaine, has been erected. Its form is a parallelogram one hundred and sixty-eight feet in length, by ninety-three and one-half in breadth; it is surmounted by a dome of stone, sculptured in scales, with a demi-cupola on each side, presenting the same ornaments. Two covered galleries, which, with the portico, form a projecting body, consist each of nine arcades, closed by iron gates. Under the arcades are tombs, surmounted by white marble medallions encircled by cypress and poppies; and tablets with [382] inscriptions. At the extremities of the galleries are two large cippi, bearing funereal ornaments, and the inscription—

Has ultra metas quiescunt.

The roof of the galleries is ornamented with garlands of cypress and other emblems. The principal entrance is in the form of a tomb, and leads, by sixteen steps to a vestibule situated at half the height of the galleries; a second flight of steps conducts to a platform, from which rises the portico, consisting of four Doric columns, supporting a pediment. Twelve steps lead into the chapel. The interior of the dome and cupolas is ornamented with roses; through the centre of the former, light is admitted by a window of coloured glass. The pavement is formed of various coloured marble, wrought in mosaic work to correspond with the roof. Around the chapel are fifteen niches, destined to receive statues of the most distinguished victims of the revolution. From this spot a double staircase- leads to a subterranean chapel, in which will be placed a monument to the memory of Louis XVI. and Marie Antoinette. The effect of the building, although of small dimensions, is highly imposing, and cannot fail to produce interesting associations in the mind of the beholder.