When Napoleon had decided that a stupendous fountain should occupy the centre of the area where the celebrated state prison of the Bastille stood, the several artists, employed by the government, were ordered to prepare designs for the undertaking, and numerous drawings were in consequence sent in for the emperor's inspection. On the day appointed, he proceeded to examine these specimens, not one of which, however, proved at all commensurate with the vast idea he had in contemplation; wherefore, after pacing the chamber a few minutes, Napoleon suddenly halted, exclaiming: "Plant me a colossal elephant there, and let the water spout from his extended trunk!" All the artists stood astonished at this bold idea, the propriety and grandeur of which immediately flashed conviction upon their minds, and the only wonder of each was, that no such thought should have presented itself to his own imagination: the simple fact is, there was but one Napoleon present!—Communicated to Ireland by David.

This fountain was modeled in Plaster of Paris on the spot. It is seventy-two feet in height; the jet d'eau is through the nostrils of his trunk; the reservoir in the tower on his back; and one of his legs contains the staircase for ascending to the large room in the inside of his belly. The elephant was to have been executed in bronze, with tusks of silver, surrounded by lions of bronze, which were to spout water from one cistern to another.