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HOW TO ENJOY PARIS IN 1842,
INTENDED TO SERVE AS A COMPANION AND MONITOR
Indicating all that is useful and interesting IN THE FRENCH METROPOLIS,
Containing HISTORICAL, POLITICAL, COMMERCIAL, ARTISTICAL, THEATRICAL AND STATISTICAL INFORMATION.
AS ALSO A DESCRIPTION Of the manners and customs of the Parisians of the present day; WITH INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE STRANGER. In Respect to Economy, and Advice to his general proceedings with the French.
By F. Herve
Author of A Residence in Turkey and Greece, etc, etc.
ILLUSTRATED BY LITHOGRAPHIC ENGRAVINGS.
PARIS, PUBLISHED BY AMYOT, 6, RUE DE LA PAIX; AND BY G. BRIGGS, 421, STRAND, LONDON, SUCCESSOR TO LEIGH & CO. 1842.
In offering the following pages to the public, the author has been principally influenced by a desire of uniting useful information with that which he hopes may prove amusing to the reader, endeavouring as much as possible to keep in view the spirit of the title "How to enjoy Paris;" and having been accustomed to hear such constant and bitter murmurings from the English, in consequence of their having been so frequently imposed upon by the Paris shopkeepers, considerable pains and attention have been devoted to guard the reader against his being subjected to a similar evil; much development has therefore been afforded towards recommending those establishments where the author feels confident that the stranger will meet with fair dealing and due civility. It may, perhaps, be thought by many that he has been rather too prolix on the subject, but in order to know "How to enjoy Paris" to its full extent, the first object, is to be informed of the best means of dispensing one's modicum of lucre to the greatest advantage, which will enable the visitor to stay the longer and see the more, just in proportion as he avoids useless expenditure in suffering himself to be victimised by over charges.
As the present work includes the different subjects of History, Antiquities, Politics, Manners, Customs, Army, Navy, Literature, Painting, Music, Theatres, Performers, etc., etc., the author flatters himself that readers of every taste will find a chapter which treats upon some subject that may interest them, hoping that in the endeavour to play the role of the Miller and his Ass, his efforts to please may be more happy than those of that unfortunate individual.
Hints to the English visiting Paris as to their demeanour towards the Parisians, and advice as to the best mode of proceeding in various transactions with them. An appeal to candour and justice against national prejudice.
Happiness is the goal for which mankind is ever seeking, but of the many roads which the imagination traces as the surest and nearest to that desideratum, few, perhaps none, ever chance upon the right; too many pursue a shadow instead of a substance, influenced by a phantom of their own creation, engendered in most instances by pride, vanity, or ambition. Although I do not presume to hope that I can pilot my readers to the wished-for haven, yet I flatter myself I can afford them such counsel as will greatly contribute towards their happiness during their sojourn at Paris or in other parts of France.
Patriotism is certainly a most exalted virtue, but however praiseworthy it may be in Englishmen to cherish within their own breasts the recollection that their fleets and armies have ever prevailed, that their wealth and commerce surpass those of every other nation, etc. etc. it is not absolutely necessary that they should in their outward demeanour towards foreigners, bear the semblance of constantly arrogating to themselves a superiority, of which however conscious and assured they may be, they never can teach others to feel, and least of any a Frenchman, who possesses an equal degree of national predilection as the Englishman, and the moment that sentiment is attacked, or that our Gallic neighbours conceive that an attempt is made to insinuate that they are regarded in the light of inferiority, as compared with any other nation, hatred to the individual who seeks to humiliate them or their country is instantly engendered, and in all their transactions and communications with their soi-disant superior, they will either take some advantage, behave with sullenness, or avail themselves of some opportunity of displaying the ascerbid feeling which has been created: not that I would wish an Englishman to subdue that just and natural pride which he must ever feel when he reflects on the pinnacle of greatness which his country has attained, through the genius, industry, and valour of her sons; yet it is a suaviter in modo which I wish him to preserve in his outward bearing towards the French, without ever compromising the fortiter in re.
I shall now endeavour to illustrate the above theory by citing some instances wherein its axioms were brought into practice under my own observation, and which I trust will convince my readers that it is not from visionary ideas I have formed my conclusions, and that the conduct I recommend to the traveller in France must in a great degree tend to the promotion of his happiness, whilst traversing or residing in foreign climes; as although in other countries the same degree of sensitiveness will not be found as that which exists amongst the French, a mild and unassuming deportment is always appreciated on the Continent, where tradespeople and even servants are not accustomed to be treated in that haughty dictatorial manner, too often adopted by my countrymen towards those to whom they are in the habit of giving their orders.
It is now about twelve years since, whilst I was staying at the Hotel de Bourbon, at Calais, that I was much struck by the very opposite traits of countenance and difference of demeanour of two gentlemen at the table d'hote, who appeared nevertheless to be most intimate friends; it was evident they were both English and proved to be brothers. Ever accustomed to study the physiognomies of those around me, I contemplated theirs with peculiar attention, having discovered by their conversation that they were to be my companions on my journey to Paris; and it required no great powers of penetration to perceive that the elder was decided upon viewing all with a jaundiced eye, whilst the younger was disposed to be pleased and in good humour, with all around him. The conducteur announcing that the Diligence was ready and that we must speedily take our seats, abruptly interrupted all my physiognomical meditations, and we quickly repaired to the heavy lumbering vehicle in which we were destined to be dragged to the gay metropolis. Our names being called over in rotation, I found that the brothers had engaged places in the coupe as well as myself, but having priority of claim, had wisely chosen the two corners, the vacant seat in the middle falling to my lot; and I believe, as it proved, it was not a bad arrangement, as I acted as a sort of sand-bag between two jars, which prevented their jarring; in fact I formed a sort of juste milieu between two extremes, and no sooner were we installed in our respective places, than my mediating powers were called into operation, as the following dialogue will exemplify.
"They gave us a very nice dinner, sir," said the good humoured brother who sat on my left.
I replied that I was very well satisfied with it.
"But you don't know what their messes are made of. For my part I like to know what, I eat," observed the discontented brother on my right, "and you don't mean surely, sir, to say that such as they gave us was anything to compare to a good English dinner."
That, I remarked, was entirely an affair of taste; that I myself was most partial to the simpler mode of living of the English, but not so the high aristocracy of our country, with whom French cooks are in the greatest estimation.
"I was very much pleased with the vin ordinaire, as they call it, and found it a pleasant light wine, particularly agreeable when one is thirsty," said Good Humour.
"Light enough at any rate," returned Discontent, "and well named vin ordinaire, for ordinary it is in every sense of the word, pretty much like themselves for that; but if you like to have any when we are in England, I'll make you some; take a little port wine, put some vinegar and a good deal of water with it and there you have it at once; is not that your opinion, sir?"
I replied, that I considered it a beverage well adapted for a sort of draught wine, but that it certainly had not the body that foreign wines have that we are in the habit of drinking in England.
Good Humour not appearing to relish his brother's receipt for making vin ordinaire, changed the subject, by observing that a woman who was standing at the door of an auberge where we were stopping had a very fine expression of countenance, although rather thin and pale, but that there was a pensive cast which prevailed throughout her features and rendered the tout ensemble interesting.
"Oh very fine, indeed," said Discontent, with a sarcastic smile, "as complete a picture of skin and grief as one could wish to see. Pray, sir, is she one of your beauties?"
I admitted that her appearance was rather pleasing, but that beauty was out of the question, nor did I understand his brother to have made any remark conveying the idea that she possessed that charm so truly rare.
"What a delightful house and garden," exclaimed. Good Humour, as we passed by a residence, that had rather an inviting appearance; "now, is it not an agreeable spot to live in," he continued, as he turned to me with a look, so assured of confirmation on my part, that I could not find it in my heart to disappoint him. But as I was about to answer, Discontent grumbled out a few words, which I think were to the effect, that where the country was so hideously frightful, that any thing that was decent attracted notice, but that the same object in England would not have been regarded; asking me if I had ever travelled through a more ugly country in my life.
However I felt inclined to check his tendency to condemn all he beheld, yet I could not in truth otherwise than acknowledge that it was as uninteresting as it was possible to be, of which every one must be aware who has travelled from Calais to Boulogne.
Good Humour, however, was still undaunted, and a rather jolly, and very rosy, looking young female passing at the moment, elicited from him the exclamation of "Oh, what a pretty girl, and good natured!"
"The very type of fat contented ignorance," interrupted Discontent, without allowing his brother to finish his sentence.
Soon after we entered Boulogne, where the white houses, lively green shutters, and cleanly appearance of the Grande Rue attracted the admiration of Good Humour, who observed with his usual energetic manner, "What a cheerful pleasant looking town, and how very pretty the houses are!"
"For outside show, well enough, which may be said of most things in France," murmured Discontent; "but see the inside of those houses, and you will find there is not a single window or door that shuts or fits as it ought; and if they are inhabited by French people, you will find cobwebs and dirt in almost every corner. Am I not right, sir," said he, turning to me with a triumphant air. But before I could answer, Good Humour took up the cause, observing, "Really, brother, you cannot speak from what you have seen, as the Hotel Bourbon is the only house we have yet entered, and it was impossible to exceed the cleanliness observed within it; therefore your remarks can only proceed from reports you have had from others, whose vision, perhaps, was as clouded as your own appears to be, by a pre-determination to view everything in France in the most unfavourable light." Perceiving that Discontent, by the angry look which he assumed, was about to reply in a bitter tone to his brother, I thought the best means of averting the storm would be to interpose a sort of middle course between them, and remarked that the gentleman's observation, as to the windows and doors not fitting well, was very correct, but with regard to the dirtiness of the French it had been greatly exaggerated.
Discontent declared that he had received his account of France from persons who had lived long in the country, and on whose judgment he could rely; "whereas," added he, "you perhaps have seen but little either of the nation or of the people."
I replied that I had known France nearly fourteen years.
"Then," said he, "if you have known France so long as that, I suppose you have become Frenchified yourself."
I was about to make a sharp reply, but was prevented by the younger brother remarking, "After you have said so much against the French, your observation to the gentleman was anything but complimentary, and savoured much of rudeness."
"I merely said I was sure that his brother did not mean to be rude, and therefore I should not consider his observation in that light."
"Rough and rude I always was, but I did not mean to give offence," added Discontent in a somewhat softened tone.
A fine looking old man, with a profusion of white hair, who was standing at a cottage door, attracted the notice of Good Humour, who bid us observe how benevolent was his expression, and what a fine venerable head he presented.
"As hoary headed an old sinner as ever existed, I'll be bound," said Discontent, with a sarcastic smile, as he looked scornfully at his brother.
In this manner we continued to the end of our journey, Discontent viewing all he encountered with an air of disgust and contempt, appearing restless, miserable, unhappy and disagreeable, a burthen to himself and an annoyance to others, whilst Good Humour saw every thing en couleur de rose, was lively, amused, looking the picture of kindness, and although pleased with a trifle, 'tis true, yet how much wiser was his course, as it promoted his own happiness and was calculated to cheer his fellow travellers.
At length we arrived at Abbeville, and I soon perceived the effect that the knitted brow and curling lip of Discontent had upon the girls that waited at the table, who seemed but half disposed to attend, to his demands; whereas the good natured confiding expression of his brother, with his pleasing address, won all hearts, and he was served with alacrity and scarcely needed to express his wants; it really is astonishing how much influence suavity of manners has in France, in procuring civility and attention, and how opposite is the case with a repulsive mien.
Before I quit the subject, I must relate one more instance, most powerfully attesting the veracity of the assertion, which occurred to myself; after having engaged apartments at the house belonging to a female, named Fournier, at Boulogne, I was informed by several English families who had preceded me in the same lodgings, that I had taken up my abode with the most disagreeable people, who would impose upon us and annoy us in every possible manner. One exception, however, to this general report I met with in the account that was given me of our hostess and family by a Colonel Barry, who with his lady and children had resided some time with Madame Fournier, and they assured me that we should find we had chanced upon most worthy people, who would do all in their power to make us comfortable; but it so happened that the Colonel and his family were persons of most conciliating manners, devoid of hauteur in their demeanour, possessing in fact the very qualities calculated to propitiate a good feeling on the part of the French. After we had been in the house some time, we observed to those persons who assured us we should be so ill treated, that we found the case quite the reverse; and, the answer was, wait until the time comes when, you are about to depart, and then when you are called upon to produce the plates, crockery, glasses, knives, forks, etc., you will see who you have to deal with; if there be any thing in the slightest degree chipped, they will make you pay extravagantly for damages. But when at last the awful day of departure arrived, I had every thing collected of the description alluded to, and Madame Fournier would not even look at them, and observed if there were any thing injured she was sure it was to so trifling an amount that it was not worth noticing. But it was not so with an English lady who was our fellow lodger; towards her they certainly were neither obliging in their manner nor disposed to render her any kind of accommodation beyond the strict letter of their agreement; and the reason was, because she always addressed them as if she was speaking to her servants; in short, with an arrogance of manner that they could not brook. Thus whilst they were continually practising little civilities and attentions towards us, which greatly contributed to our comfort, they were following a totally opposite system towards her, which rendered her very uncomfortable; therefore, had that lady properly studied her happiness, she would have conducted herself towards her hostess and family in a very different manner, and I hope my readers who visit France will take advantage of the hint; yet I must admit that the lady in question was a very amiable personage in every other respect, but she detested the French, and liked, as she observed, to pull down their pride, to make them feel their inferiority, and let them know that the English were their masters. Madame Fournier, however, was of a class superior to the generality of persons who let lodgings in England; she was possessed of an independent property, her eldest daughter was married to a Colonel, and her son a lieutenant in the navy, but like many of the French, having a house considerably larger than she could occupy, she let a part of it. I should always however recommend the English when they are taking a house or apartment for any length of time, or in fact entering into any engagement of importance with the French, to have an agreement in writing, in case of misunderstanding, which may arise from the English not comprehending, or not expressing themselves in French so well as they imagine. It is always a document to refer to which settles all differences, and is a check upon all bad memories, either on the one side or the other; and as there are bad people in France as well as other countries, it prevents strangers becoming victims to those who are disposed to take advantage, when they are aware that there is no legal instrument to hold them to their contract. I have lodged in eighteen different houses in France, and never had any other than a verbal agreement, and certainly had not in any one instance cause to regret; but was fortunate enough, with one exception, always to have met with good people; but as I wish my readers during their sojourn in France to be secured from any unpleasant discussions or altercations, I recommend them to be on the safe side.
I must now appeal to my two most powerful allies, candour and justice, against that invincible demon national prejudice. I am perfectly aware that it is a hopeless attempt even to imagine that there is the slightest chance of ameliorating its force. I consider it more immoveable than a rock, because by dint of time you may cut that away, or you may blast it with gunpowder; but I know of no means which can soften the adamantine strength of national prejudice. One might naturally suppose that a long communication between the two countries, a mutual interchange of kindnesses, the number of intermarriages by which the two nations have become so connected with each other, would have contributed in some degree to diminish the asperity of that bitter feeling against the French which we acquire in our school-boy days, but which reason and commerce with the world, it might be expected, would correct. As there is no argument so powerful as exemplification, I will here cite two instances amongst the hundreds that have come within my knowledge, of the extreme incorrigibility of the baneful sentiment to which I allude. I once travelled with a Mr. Lewis from Paris to Dieppe, and found him a man of considerable information, very gentlemanly in his address and manners, and possessing such colloquial powers as contributed to render the journey particularly agreeable; he was an enthusiastic admirer of the arts, and was very fond of drawing, and certainly excelled in that accomplishment, from the very beautiful sketches he showed me which he had made in different parts of France, and in fact was an amateur artist of considerable merit. He gave me a very interesting account of his tour through France and of the kindness he had met with from the inhabitants; that in many instances when he had been sketching the chateaux of the nobility and gentry, how often it had occurred that the proprietors had come out and invited him to breakfast or dinner, according to the hour, or at any rate to take some refreshment; and several sent for his portemanteau from the inn where he had put up (sometimes without his knowledge), compelling him to pass the night at their chateau. On my making some remark as to the urbanity of the French, "Oh! don't think," he exclaimed, "that I am praising them as a nation, for I hate them; I only speak of facts as they happened." I then asked him how he was treated at the inns in the different provinces, and whether he was much imposed upon. "I cannot say I was," he replied, "or in any instance that I had reason to complain of my treatment."
From this gentleman's account of the reception he had met with in France, would not any rational being have imagined that he would speak well of the French? instead of which, I soon had the most powerful proofs to the contrary. When we arrived at Dieppe we found a party assembled at the table d'hote, at the hotel at which we alighted, consisting of a few French but, more of English; the former left the room as soon as the cloth was withdrawn, and the latter remaining, the conversation became general and very patriotic; and as the merits of England and the English rose in the discussion, so did the demerits of France and the French sink, and at last bumpers were drank to old England for ever, in which we all joyously joined. This was all very natural and proper, but this ebullition of national and praiseworthy feeling had hardly subsided, when Mr. Lewis, the very man who had admitted that he had been received with kindness and hospitality wherever he had been in France, arose, and said, "Now, gentlemen, I have another toast to propose to you, which I hope will be drank with the same enthusiasm as the last; so "Here's a curse for France and the French." All immediately drank it but myself and an elderly gentleman, who declared he would not invoke a curse upon any land or any people. A silent pause intervened; every one appeared to look at the other, as to how they ought to act on their toast being refused, none caring to assume the initiative. At last, one rising from his chair, who perhaps began to view the affair temperately, observed, "Well, I think we had better see about the packet-boat for Brighton before it is too late," and they all quitted the room, except the elderly gentlemen and myself, and he did certainly animadvert most severely against what he termed their unchristianlike toast. Although it was impossible for me, feeling as I did, otherwise than to agree with him on the principal points of his argument, yet I observed that we might hope that it was merely in words that the gentlemen would evince the violence of their prejudices, as I felt convinced, from the general amiability of character so apparent in the person who proposed the toast, that if he saw a Frenchman in danger of his life, and that an exertion could save him, that Mr. Lewis would use every effort to preserve a human being from destruction, whatever might be his country.
The other circumstance to which I am about to advert was less his surprising, though equally powerful, in illustrating the strong tendency towards prejudice against the French on the part of the English people, the hero of my tale being a regular country squire, extremely kind hearted, but whose fund of information did not extend much beyond his estate, his horses and his hounds; not any consideration would have induced him to quit England, but that of saving the life of an individual, for whom, however worthless and ungrateful, he still retained a sentiment of pity; a young man, whom he had brought up and educated, in return for his kindness forged his name, and the evidence of the squire was all that was requisite to hang him, therefore, as an effectual means of avoiding to be forced to appear against him, he quitted England; and, as France was the nearest, he there took up his abode. A friend of mine, a Capt. W., who had resided long in France, received a letter of introduction to the squire; although living at a considerable distance from his residence, he took an opportunity of presenting it. Having heard that the captain had been in France many years, the Squire was not disposed to receive him very cordially, considering that so doing was disgraceful on the part of an Englishman unless he was forced to do so by circumstances such as had compelled himself to quit his native country. The consequence was, that he eyed the Captain in a manner that was far from flattering to his feelings; but when he had read the highly recommendatory panegyric contained within the letter, the Squire softened, and soon greeted the stranger with a true hearty English welcome, and their respective families afterwards became most intimately acquainted: the Squire, delighted to find a countryman to whom he could communicate his execrations against France and the French, whilst the Captain did all in his power to defend them from all unjust attacks, having himself had favourable experience of their urbanity and kindness. Some time after the Squire's arrival the Captain removed to Boulogne, and as some grand ceremony was to be there celebrated with military and ecclesiastical pomp and parade, in the presence of the royal family, he invited the Squire and his family to pass a few days with him, that they might witness so grand a spectacle; adding, that there would be twenty thousand troops assembled for the purpose. The Squire immediately flew into a violent passion, and vowed he would accept the invitation on no other terms than that he could take with him thirty thousand Englishman to cut their rascally French throats. At length he gave his consent that his daughter should pass a few days with the family of Capt. W., and at the same time accompany them, to see the ceremony which was to take place. Partaking of her father's feelings, all the way on the road she launched out abusing every thing that was French and in fact all that she encountered until the moment that she witnessed the imposing spectacle. She was then standing within the church with the Captain amongst the crowd, but some officers perceiving an English lady of genteel appearance, invited her to join the circle composed of the Duchesses of Angouleme, of Berri, and the ladies of the court, which she gladly accepted; and several fine looking young men in their brilliant uniforms paying her the greatest attentions, and taking the utmost pains that she should have the best possible view of the sight, her heart was completely won, and when she was re-conducted to Capt. W., her first exclamation was, "Well, as long as I live, I never will speak against Frenchmen again; for I never was treated with so much politeness and attention in my own country as I have been here." But when she expressed the same feeling to her father, his rage knew no bounds, and at the first moment he swore he would take her off to England instanter, adding "I suppose I shall have my family disgraced by your running off with some French mustachioed scoundrel or another." The poor girl dared not say another word, and in a little time the father recovered his equanimity.
However furious the Squire was in expressions against the French, yet his actions towards them were of a contrary bearing, having a well stocked medicine chest, from which he liberally dispensed the contents amongst the neighbouring poor, according to their different maladies, until he received the cognomen of the English doctor who would never take a fee. The people at last became so grateful for his kindness, that when there was a report that war was likely to take place between the two countries, as he displayed some uneasiness as to his being able to return home, they assured him he should always be certain of cattle to convey him to Calais, as, if he could not procure post horses, they would find some in the neighbourhood for him, and if none could be found, they would draw him themselves to the spot he desired. After residing a few years in France, the Squire returned to his own country, little enlightened by his trip, cursing the French before he came amongst them, cursing them whilst he was living with them, and at the same time whilst he was doing them every possible good, and cursing them after his return to England; not that he could give any reason why, but because it had become a habit with him since his childhood, and he had been accustomed to hear his father and grandfather do so before him, and I suppose he liked to keep up that which no doubt he thought a good old custom.
Having now, I trust, given sufficient examples of how the deep roots of national prejudice defy every effort and circumstance to eradicate them, I shall hope that my readers will endeavour to banish from their minds any early impressions they may have received inimical to the French, and resolve only to judge them as they find them, as reason must suggest that all prepossessions cherished against any people must powerfully militate against the traveller's happiness during his sojourn amongst them. I fear that I may have been considered rather prolix upon the subject, but besides the motive to which I have already alluded, I always have cherished a most anxious desire to soften as much as possible all national animosities.
Different routes from London to Paris.—Aspect of the city as first presented to the English traveller, according to the road by which he may enter.—Its extent, population, etc.
The first measure to be adopted after any one has decided upon visiting Paris, is to provide himself with a passport, which he will procure at the French Ambassador's office in Poland street, for which there is no charge, but it is requisite to state by which port you mean to proceed; but in order to leave some latitude for caprice, you may mention two places, as Calais or Boulogne, or Dieppe or Havre, etc. There are now many different means of travelling to Paris; that which was once the most frequently adopted was by coach to Dover, then embarking for Calais, as those are the two ports which present the shortest distance between the two countries, being only about twenty-one miles apart; many however prefer embarking at Dover at once for Boulogne, thus avoiding about twenty-five miles by land from Calais to Boulogne, which certainly does not afford a single object of interest, and the distance by sea is only increased eight miles. Another route is by railway to Brighton, then crossing to Dieppe, and which is certainly the straightest line of any of the routes from London to Paris; but on account of there being more sea, the distance is not generally performed in so short a period as the other routes, from the uncertainty of the Ocean. It is not therefore so much frequented by travellers as those on which they can reckon with more accuracy; the same may be said of the route by Southampton, which is performed by railway to that town, and afterwards by steam-packet to Havre, which includes above a hundred miles by sea, consequently but little resorted to as compared with the former routes. There was another means of reaching Paris, and that was from London to St. Vallery by sea; which being near Abbeville and only 33 leagues from Paris, there was the least of land travelling, consequently it was the cheapest if all went smoothly, and this line was often adopted by strict economists, who however have frequently found themselves much disappointed, as sometimes it happened they could not make the port, and have either been obliged to put back and lie off Ramsgate, or lay to, for some hours, and perhaps after having landed, have been detained at St. Vallery, from not having been able to find places in the diligences for Paris. This means, however, of proceeding to Paris no longer exists, as the steamers have been sold, but it is thought that they will be replaced by others. The route which is by far the most frequented is that of embarking from London direct for Boulogne, and is on the long run the most economical, and maybe comfortably performed, living included, for three pounds, at the present prices, which are 1l. in the best Cabin from London to Boulogne, then about 1l. 4s., in the inside from Boulogne to Paris; and the other expenses will amount to about fifteen or sixteen shillings; with respect to the charges on the other routes, they are so often varying that it might only deceive the reader by stating them as they at present exist, when in a few weeks they may be higher or lower as circumstances may arise. Some persons choose, the route by Southampton and Havre as being the most picturesque, as from the latter town to Rouen such exquisite scenery is presented by the banks of the Seine, as you pass in the steamer between them, that the passenger is at a loss on which side to bestow his attention, whilst rapidly hurried through so delightful and fertile a country; in fact, he is tempted for once to regret the velocity of steam conveyance, in not permitting him to tarry awhile to contemplate the beautiful scenes by which he is environed. Rouen, where the traveller should at least remain some days, is an object of great attraction. As my work is especially devoted to Paris, I cannot afford much space to the description of towns on the road; but as the city of Rouen is the largest, the most interesting, and the most connected with history and English associations of any upon the routes to Paris, I cannot pass it over without some comment. Its boulevards first strike the English, as being not only most picturesque and beautiful, but as presenting a scene to them wholly novel, the noble vistas formed by towering trees, mingling their branches, shading beneath their foliage many a cheerful group, the merchant's stone villas, seen amongst their bowers, the high shelving grassy banks, and the lively bustle that is ever going forward, has so animated an effect that the beholder cannot but catch the infection and feel his spirits elevated by the enlivening spectacle. But what a contrast on entering the city; the streets narrow, dark, and with no foot pavement, have a mean and gloomy appearance, but many of them being built mostly of wood, carved into fantastic forms, offer a rich harvest to the artist, and those of our own country have amply profited by the innumerable picturesque objects which Rouen presents. The cathedral, built by William the Conqueror, is one of the most interesting monuments of France; the Church of St.-Ouen is at least as beautiful, and there are several others which well repay the visiter for the time he may expend in visiting them. The statue of the Maid of Orleans stands in the Marche aux Veaux, on the spot where she was burnt as a sorceress under the sanction of the Duke of Bedford in 1431. Above all, the traveller must not fail to visit Mount Catherine, which rises just above the city, and commands a view equally beautiful and extensive. The delightful environs of Rouen are displayed before him, comprising almost every scenic beauty that a country can afford; even the factories, which in most places rather deform the view than otherwise, are here so constructed as to contribute to its ornament, more resembling villas than buildings solely for utility. Hills, wood, water, bridges, chateaux, cottages, corn fields and meadows are so picturesquely intermingled, that every object which can give charm to a landscape is here united. There are several hills round Rouen which present prospects nearly equal to that which is witnessed from Mount Catherine, and in fact it is difficult to imagine any situation which affords so many pleasant walks and such enchanting scenery. Indeed, all the way to Paris by this route (that is by what is called the lower road) which for a considerable distance runs within sight of the Seine, the country is most highly interesting, passing through Louvier, Gaillon, Vernon, Mantes and St. Germains.
Calais, as being the nearest point to the English coast, and at which we so often obtain our first peep at France, merits some notice, and although it offers but few attractions, and is surrounded by a flat cheerless country, yet there are connected with it some associations which are replete with interest; as who that has ever read Sterne's Sentimental Journey can forget the simple but impressive description he gives of the poor friar and other objects which he there met, and which he has engraven on the minds of his readers, in his own peculiar style, in characters never to be erased; for my part, as I first approached Calais I thought but of Sterne and his plain, unvarnished tale, of the trifles he encountered, around which he contrived to weave an interest which is felt even by the inhabitants of Calais to this day; although they knew his works but through the spoiling medium of translation, still they never fail to exhibit to the Englishman the alcove in which he is said to have written his adventures in Calais. As I entered the town, instantly the works of Hogarth appeared before me, for who is there that does not remember his excellent representation of the Gates of Calais, with the meagre sentinel and still more skinny cook bending under the weight of a dish crowned with an enormous sirloin of beef, no doubt intended to regale some newly-arrived John Bull, whilst a fat monk scans it with a longing eye. Next the bust of Eustache de St. Pierre awakes the attention, and the surrender of Calais and his devoted patriotism rises in one's memory. Another souvenir also must not be forgotten, namely, the print of the foot of Louis the Eighteenth, which is cut in the stone, and a piece of brass let in where he first stepped on shore, and undoubtedly represents a very pretty little foot; but when a Frenchman who was no amateur of the Bourbon dynasty was asked to admire its symmetry, he observed it was very well, but that it would look much better if it was turned t'other way, that is to say, going out of the kingdom instead of coming into it. If the traveller have time, it is worth while to mount a tower, at the top of which is a sort of lantern capable of containing about a dozen persons, and commanding a most extensive view over the sea, and on the opposite side the country is visible for a considerable distance, bearing a most uninviting appearance. There are a great number of hotels at Calais, and I have been at many of them, but have found that kept by M. Derhorter, called the Hotel Bourbon, the most comfortable and economical, and the civility of the master cannot anywhere be surpassed. Dessin's, for the nobility and those who have equipages, is still the favourite and has been for time immemorial.
Nothing worthy of note presents itself between Calais and Boulogne, except the little village of Wimille, which made some impression upon my mind, as being so much prettier and so much more village-like than any other through which we had passed, and near here perished the unfortunate aeronauts Pilatre and Romain, falling from their balloon when at a prodigious height from the ground and in sight of many spectators. They were buried in the churchyard, in which a monument has been erected commemorative of the event. About two miles from this hamlet Boulogne appears in sight, cheering the spectator by its gay and animated aspect, the numerous groups of genteel-looking persons constantly promenading the streets, pier and port, give it a most lively appearance, which is enhanced by the extreme cleanliness which is observed in all the principal streets, and the cheerful air afforded by the white stone houses with their green balconies and shutters. But the numerously well-dressed portion of the population, which so greatly contribute towards enlivening the scene, consists almost wholly of English, as the few French families which still reside in Boulogne, above the rank of the tradespeople, keep themselves very close and retired as in all other provincial towns in France; and in Boulogne they are very suspicious of the English, having had such numbers of bad characters who at first preserved a very respectable appearance but ultimately proved to be swindlers. The higher French families, therefore, decline any association with the English, unless with persons who have come highly-recommended, or have resided many years in the town with an unimpeachable character. It so happened that circumstances brought me in contact with two or three of these exclusive personages, and their remarks about the English afforded me much amusement, and may be taken as types of the general observations of the provincial French upon our country-people.
The worthy matrons of families have often said to me, "How is it, Sir, that the wives and mothers of your country can manage their domestic concerns, when they are seen almost continually walking about the streets at hours when we find it indispensable to attend to our household affairs."
I replied, that after having given their orders they relied in a great degree upon their servants executing them with punctuality.
"Indeed!" was the exclamation; "how fortunate they must be to have such immaculate servants that they can so entirely depend upon them: we should be very happy if we could have such as did not require looking after, but unfortunately French servants partake too much of human nature for mistresses to be able to leave them wholly to themselves."
I observed that perhaps English servants generally being more humble, obedient, and subservient to their superiors, greater reliance might be placed upon them, and undoubtedly more certainty as to their obeying the instructions they received.
"Then it is surprising," said the ladies, "that your country people do not always bring servants with them, and very unlucky that in so many instances when they have done so, that their domestics should so often be brought before the Tribunals of Correction for different irregularities."
I replied, that many good and regular servants did not like to quit their native land, and of those who were brought over, certainly in many instances their employers had been disappointed; that in a foreign country all was new to them, and they forgot their former regular habits, and certainly in too many instances had misbehaved themselves.
"Consequently," returned my interlocutors, "requiring a more vigilant eye to superintend them. But there is another subject which affords us much surprise, and that is the manner in which English parents permit their daughters to go alone about the streets, or to walk with a gentleman who is neither their father nor brother."
I assigned as a reason for our allowing them so much liberty, that we had such perfect confidence in them that we felt assured we could trust to their own firmness and discretion to prevent any improper consequences arising from the freedom they were permitted to enjoy. "Unfortunately, that confidence is but too frequently abused," rejoined one of the ladies, "if we are to judge from several lamentable occurrences which have latterly taken place in this town amongst the English young ladies."
I felt the rebuke, as I knew to what circumstances they alluded, and observed that the English society inhabiting Boulogne were by no means what could, be termed the elite of the nation, although there were many families of the highest respectability.
The ladies, perceiving by my manner that I was somewhat nettled, endeavoured to soften what they had said, by observing that certainly it would not be just to estimate the English people by the samples which came to reside at Boulogne, as they had generally understood that they were persons of indifferent reputation, who fled from their own country because they could no longer live there in credit, but that amongst the number there undoubtedly were some very quiet people.
A stranger would not appreciate the degree of praise which is contained in the word quiet when used by the French, who appear to consider it as comprising all the cardinal virtues; when seeking a house or apartments, if you say any thing favourable or unfavourable of them, they never fail to remind you that they are so quiet. The same eulogy they will pronounce on their daughters with peculiar pride and energy, when they wish to extol them to the skies, and in good truth their demoiselles are quiet enough in all conscience, for it requires often a considerable degree of ingenuity to extract from them more than monosyllables. We have been accustomed to consider the French as a restless, capricious, volatile people, and so I suppose they might have been formerly, but now they are undoubtedly the reverse, being a quiet routine plodding sort of people, particularly as regards the provincials; and even amongst the Parisians there are thousands that reside in one quarter of the city, which they seldom quit, never approaching what they consider the gay portion of Paris, but live amongst each other, visiting only within their own circle, consisting almost entirely of their relations and family connexions. This feeling is certainly exemplified still farther at Boulogne, as I knew an old couple who lived in the upper town, which joins the lower town except by the separation of the wall of the fortifications, and had not been in the latter for five years, because they considered it was too bustling and too much a place of pleasure for such quiet, homely, and orderly folk as they professed to be and certainly were, in every sense of the word. At Bordeaux I knew three old ladies who were born in that city, and never had been in any other town during their whole lives, nor ever desired to pass the walls of their native place. Many persons who have been accustomed to spend their days in the provinces have a sort of horror of Paris; I remember an old gentleman at Rouen, who with his antiquated spouse lived a sort of Darby and Joan kind of life, their only daughter being married and living elsewhere; and on my once asking him if he had ever been to Paris, he replied that he was once so situated as to be compelled to go upon urgent business that rendered his presence indispensable, but that he saw very little of the place, because he had always heard that it was a city replete with vice and dissipation, and that during the few days his affairs compelled him to stay he kept close to his apartment, only quitting it to proceed to the house wherein he had to transact business, and then he went in a fiacre, as, if he had walked perhaps he might have been jostled, run over, robbed, or something unpleasant might have occurred. "Ah! that's very true, you did quite right, and acted very prudently, my dear," observed his wife, "and nobody knows the anxiety I felt till you came back again." Although the rising generation of the French is not quite so dormant in their ideas as that which is passing, yet there is not even with them the same spirit of travel and enterprise which exist in the English. That France has had, a reputation for restlessness, love of change, and tumult, can only be explained by stating that until the present time for the last two centuries, with the exception of Louis the Eighteenth, she has been most unfortunate in her rulers, who have been supporting a state of extravagant splendour which could alone be sustained by being wrung from the middle and the lower classes; hence the revolution in 1789, which might be considered as the ripened fruit which the preceding reigns had been nurturing. Of the affair of the three days in 1830, few I believe will deny the intensity of the provocation, but then it will be said how do you account for their having been so turbulent and discontented during the present reign? To which I should answer in the same manner as an officer, who, defending the character of his regiment, observed that it was composed of a thousand men, of which nine hundred and fifty were peaceable and quiet subjects, but the other fifty being very noisy they were constantly heard of, and his corps had obtained the appellation of the noisy regiment, as no one bestowed a thought upon the 'nine hundred and fifty men who were orderly' because no one ever heard of them: thus it may be said of France, the population may be estimated at about thirty-five millions, of which perhaps one million may be discontented, and amongst them are many persons connected with the press, who not only contrive by that means to extend their war-whoop to every corner of France, but as newspapers are conveyed to all the civilised parts of the world, and the only medium by which a country is judged by those who have not an opportunity of visiting it and making their own observations by a residence amongst the people, it naturally is inferred in England and in other nations that the French are a most dissatisfied and refractory people. But a case in point may be cited, which proves that the dissatisfaction is not general, nor has ever been during the present reign. From the time that Louis-Philippe accepted the throne in 1830, until June the 6th, 1832, a number of young men in the different colleges at Paris occupied themselves constantly with the affairs of the state, each forming a sort of political utopia, and however different were their various theories, they all united in one object, and that was to overthrow the existing government, and secretly took measures for arming themselves, and mustering what strength they could collect in point of numbers, which was but very insignificant compared to the importance of the blow they intended to strike; but they counted on the rising of the people, and the event proved they counted without their host. June the 6th, 1832, being the day appointed for the funeral of General Lamarque, they chose it for the development of their project, and although the misguided youths fought with skill, constancy and courage, even with a fanatic devotion to their cause, yet the populace took no part with them, and the National Guard were the first to fire upon them; and after two days hard fighting in the barricades they had raised, scarcely any remained who were not either killed or wounded. Since that, no attempt of the slightest importance has been made to overthrow the government, and in fact I have ever found that ninety-nine Parisians out of a hundred exclaim "Tranquillite a tout prix," that is quiet at all prices, and all classes are interested in cherishing this wish, the nobles and gentry that they may tranquilly enjoy what they possess, the tradesman that he may obtain a sale for his goods, and the workman that he may procure work. It is only a set of political enthusiasts, to be found amongst the students, whose wild republican schemes have dazzled others and induced the different outbreaks which have occurred since the event of the three days, and having been treated with lenity in the first instance, unprecedented in the annals of every other government, they were emboldened to repeat their daring attempts.
But let any one traverse the provinces of France, get acquainted with the people, make inquiries around him and penetrate into their habits and customs, and he will find that the predominant feeling is love of the spot on which they are born; the farmer will keep on the farm his ancestors tilled before him for ages, and if offered a better farm, if it be far removed from his home and that of his fathers he will reject it; with the same tenacity the labourer clings to his cottage and the little bit of land he has always delved. But it is with the landed proprietor that one finds the most powerful example of the durability of their adhesion to the cradle of their birth. There are many persons possessed of estates of no great extent, from eight to fifteen hundred a year, which have regularly descended to them from their ancestors, to whom they have been granted, at as remote a period as the time of Charlemagne, and have descended to the present possessors from generation to generation, whilst there does not appear to have been in all that period any great elevation or depression in their circumstances. The habit of living up to their incomes as in England is very rare in France; if they have daughters, from the day they are born the parents begin to save for their dowry; even the peasant will follow that practice if he can only put by a sou a day. I have known many landed proprietors of from fifteen hundred to two thousand a year that did not support any thing like the style that a person with a similar fortune would in England; if a Frenchman has more than two or three children, he seldom spends half his income if it be possible to live upon a quarter, his object is that he may leave all his children in an equal pecuniary position without dividing his land; as although the law of primogeniture does not exist, yet parents like that one son should keep up the estate intact, and the one fixed upon for that purpose is generally the eldest, the others receive their portions in money from the father's savings, and are usually brought up to one of the liberal professions, and in many instances are sufficiently fortunate as to realize by promotion or their talents, emoluments equal with what portion they inherit to place them in as favourable a position as the brother on whom devolves the estate. In other instances the son who holds the land is taxed to pay from it a certain amount to his brothers and sisters, in order to render their situation in life somewhat upon a par; but it so happens that very large families are not so frequent in France as in England. A system of frugality is prevalent amongst all classes of the French, and a habit of contenting themselves with but little as regards their daily expenses; nor have they that ambition to step out of their class so general throughout England. A farmer in France works much the same as his men, dresses in a plain decent manner, and considers himself very little superior to his men, whilst his wife goes to market with her butter and eggs upon one of the farm horses; and without any education herself she thinks she does wonders in having her daughters taught to read, write and cypher, but invariably economises to give them a marriage portion. This applies to most of the farmers throughout France, and will be found descriptive of those inhabiting the country from Calais to Paris; but in Normandy they are frequently what is in French estimation considered very rich, and their habits and expenses are in proportion; and about Melun and some few parts of France where the farms are very large, the occupiers would even in England be termed wealthy. The extreme of poverty or what may be designated misery is but little known; the traveller is deceived by the number of beggars which infest the high roads, and is induced to imagine that the lowest orders must be in a most wretched state, but the fact is otherwise, and begging is no other than a trade on the most frequented roads. Turn into the by-lanes, penetrate the interior of the country and in the villages distant from the highways and but few beggars are to be found, nor could I ever hear of an instance of any one in the country parts of France perishing from want; yet there are no forced poor rates, the landed proprietors however regularly give so much a month voluntarily to those who are past labour and have no relations to provide for them, and houseless and pennyless wanderers are received and sheltered for a night by the higher farmers and people of property, the mendicant having soup and bread given him at night and the same when he starts in the morning. Of these there are great numbers within the last few years, being refugees from Spain, Italy and even Poland, driven to seek shelter where they can find it by the political convulsions of their countries. In this manner, the French have recently been severely taxed, but they appear never to have the heart to deny shelter and food, although they carry economy to such a height as would be styled by many of my affluent countrymen absolute parsimony; which is perceptible in all their transactions, and is in a great degree the cause of the miserable state of their agriculture, which is also in some measure owing to the utter ignorance of the farmers, who in all that tends towards improvement display the stupidity of asses with the obstinacy of mules. There can be no doubt that, generally speaking, the soil of France is capable of producing half as much more than it at present yields; they still persevere in the same system as existed in England in the year 1770, when Arthur Young wrote his Agricultural Tour, describing the various practices in the different counties throughout the kingdom. Two white crops and a summer fallow is the usual course in France, sometimes varied by a crop of clover, and very often they fallow for two years together; they have no idea of leguminous crops as winter provision for their cattle, and of the advantage to be derived from stall feeding they are quite ignorant, except in a few provinces, as a part of Normandy and Brittany. The same with regard to the drill system; they mostly plough very shallow, and do not keep their land very clean, with a few exceptions; the consequence is their crops are generally very light. Thanks to the natural richness of their meadows in Normandy, they do certainly produce some beasts of an immense weight for the exhibition annually held on Shrove Tuesday. There are generally about a dozen brought to Paris, and the finest is the one selected to be led about the streets; the one chosen last year weighed 3,800 French pounds, and as there are two ounces more than in the English pound the immense size of the animal may be imagined. In the winter, they fatten their beasts with hay, clover and corn, but oilcake is not known except in a few instances, when beasts are fattened for prizes or exhibitions. Their agricultural implements are in keeping with the rest of their system; I have seen them ploughing even in the lightest land, with the great old heavy turnwrest ploughs and four bulky horses, which might have been effected just as well with a light Rotherham plough and one horse. Recently, however, I have seen some slight ameliorations, and those parts of France which are nearest England one might expect would improve the soonest. The farming servants are generally a hard-working, quiet, sober people, contented with very little, their living costing them a mere trifle; in harvest-time an Englishman will pour beer down his throat that will cost as much as would keep a whole French family; there is a natural economy in their habits that tends to making their wages more than equal to their demand. An Englishman must have the best wheaten bread, and when he gets a pound of meat he is ready to eat it all himself; the Frenchman is contented with a cheap brown bread, quite as wholesome as the finest, and to his portion of meat he adds some vegetables with which soup is made, and it gives comfort to the whole family; and it is quite a mistake to imagine that beer and animal food produce greater physical strength, as I have in several instances proved that the French porter will carry much more than the English. I remember when lodging in Salisbury Street, in the Strand, having packed up my things for my departure for Paris, when a porter came to carry them to the Golden Cross, he said it was impossible that any man could take them at once, and the people of the house joined in saying that it was far beyond one man's load, consisting of a moderate sized trunk, a large portmanteau, and a well-stuffed carpet bag; when I declared that the first porter I should meet with at Paris would take them all the same distance without raising an objection, a sort of smile of incredulity passed from one to the other, expressive of how absurd they thought such an assertion. On arriving at Paris, however, the very first porter I spoke to in the Diligence-yard took them all, without a question as to their weight. In several cases, when persons have been quitting London for Paris with me, I have proved to them how much heavier a burthen the French porters will carry than the English. I believe the cause arises in a great degree from the latter not being addicted to drinking ardent spirits, which is ruinous to the strength and constitutions of such numbers of the lower classes in London. But the Greek and Turkish porters will carry twice as much as the French, and their beverage is nothing but water and their food principally rice. In almost every description of labour the Englishman has the advantage when what may be styled knack or method be required; the consequence is, that they make the most of what physical strength they possess; hence he will plough, mow, or reap more in a day than a Frenchman. Not only is the machinery which the Englishman employs much better, but he is what may be termed more handy in making use of it; in every thing which relates to husbandry or mechanism the Frenchman is generally awkward; a more powerful instance cannot be cited than that of their always employing two men to shoe a horse, one man being occupied to hold up the horse's leg, whilst the farrier performs his part of the work; is it not astonishing that after an uninterrupted communication with England for twenty-seven years, that they should never have observed, that an English farrier, by taking the animal's leg between his own, is able to effect his purpose just as well as if two men were employed; but the French must have remarked that custom in England; only, the besotted prejudice that exists in that class against every species of innovation causes them to persevere in their old habits. The agricultural population in France are more wealthy and generally better clothed than ours, particularly as regards the women; they pride themselves much upon their stocks of linen and their bedding; instead of the men expending their money in drink, what little they can save beyond their daily wants they lay out in contributing to their solid comforts, and as spinning and knitting are the constant occupation of the women in their leisure hours, when their children marry they are enabled to furnish them with a portion of the fruits of their industry; even the peasant girl has a trousseau, as it is called, that is, some stock of linen at her marriage, and a trifle of money wherewith to begin the world. Thus take France throughout; it will be found, that, in consequence of temperance and a persevering industry, the peasantry are generally passively happy; there is a great difference in respect to their wages and comforts, according to the province to which they belong; but although the intention of this work is especially to treat upon Paris and its population, yet as my readers must pass through a considerable portion of France before they can arrive at Paris, I judged it right to give them some information of the manners and habits of the population, with which they must meet in the course of their journey; but without farther delay will now at once conduct them to the Grand Capital, and as I consider the first impressions are the most permanent, I will introduce them by that entrance which presents so grand an appearance, as to surpass that of any other country in Europe. In coming from England, they may enter Paris at this point by the Rouen road.
The first object that strikes the traveller, as he approaches Paris, is the Triumphal Arch, erected with the view of commemorating the victories of Napoleon, but as those victories were ultimately crowned by defeat, it is more consistent to consider the Triumphal Arch as a triumph of art than of arms; as certainly the magnificence and sublimity of the design is only to be equalled by the exquisite beauty of the execution. Having passed this noble monument and splendid specimen of architectural talent, the Champs Elysees extend in all their beauty to the view of the beholder, presenting a fine broad road with rows of lofty trees on either side, whilst handsome buildings and superb fountains are occasionally visible from behind the foliage; and one of the latter, which rises exactly in the centre, has a most happy effect; from this circle several roads diverge in different directions, displaying various objects of interest, but none of so high an order as that of the Hospital of Invalids, for aged and wounded soldiers, the whole expanse of which is seen in the distance at the end of a long wide avenue of trees. From the Triumphal Arch on either side extends a row of ornamental lamps for nearly a mile, which when lighted have the most brilliant effect; and when it is considered how very small the distances are between each lamp, I believe the assertion to be correct, that there is not another such display of gas anywhere to be found. Arrived at the Place Louis Quinze, or Place de la Concorde, as it is now called, such a coup d'oeil is presented as remains unrivalled in Europe, or indeed, in any part of the world. On one side, at the end of a handsome and regular street, called the Rue Royale, rises in majestic height the Madeleine, with its noble columns crowned by its sculptured entablature in mezzo relievo, and adorned by its numerous statues, yet preserving a chaste simplicity throughout the whole. On the opposite side facing it, in a direct line at the end of a bridge, is the Chamber of Deputies, resembling a Roman temple; its style is severe and its tout ensemble has an air of heavy grandeur, which is consistent with an edifice in which are to be discussed the affairs of so great a nation. In the centre of the Place is an Egyptian column, which was with much difficulty brought from Egypt, and raised with considerable ingenuity where it now stands, without any accident; gorgeous fountains of bronze and gold are constantly playing, whilst colossal statues, being allegorical representations of the principal towns of France, are placed at regular distances, and appear as it were in solemn contemplation of the splendid scene by which they are surrounded. Two noble buildings, the Garde Meuble and the Hotel de la Marine, which may be styled palaces, adorn each side of the Rue Royale, and form one side of the magnificent square, whilst another is occupied by the Elysian Fields, and that immediately opposite to the Tuileries gardens; but so beautiful, so wonderful is the whole combined, that accustomed as I have been to frequent it for upwards of twenty years, I cannot now traverse it without remaining some time to admire the extraordinary combination of so many beautiful objects centering in one vast area. Here no mean or unseemly building meets the eye, but all is made tributary to one grand effect; even the lamps with their supporters are of bronze and gold, whilst in the distance the gilded dome of the Invalides peers above all, and gives a brilliant termination to the sublimity of the scene.
Thus much for the only entrance of Paris which has aught to boast, but having, in fact, so many charms that it must be considered by the visiter as compensating for the deficiencies of every other. In entering from Boulogne or Calais, nothing can be conceived more discouraging than the first appearance of Paris as you are borne through the Faubourg St. Denis; the street, it is true, is wide and the houses large, but they have a dirty gloomy forlorn aspect, which gives them an uninhabited appearance, or as if the inmates did not belong to them; as no care appears to have been taken to give them some degree of neatness and comfort; in fact, to bestow upon them an air of home; the stranger continues rattling over the stones between these great lumbering-looking dwellings, until his eye is attracted by the Porte St. Denis, which is a triumphal arch built by Louis the Fourteenth, and certainly presents a most imposing mass of sculpture, which, although blackened by time, is an object well worthy the attention of the observing traveller; and here he crosses the Boulevards, by which he gets a little peep at the inspiring gaiety of Paris, but is soon hurried into noisy streets until his brain feels in a whirl; and on his arrival at the Diligence-yard, when he hopes to obtain a little repose, he is annoyed by being asked for the keys of his trunks, for the Custom House officers, to make believe to look into them to ascertain that you have not smuggled any liquors or other material within the walls of Paris. Those who are fortunate enough to travel in their own carriages, are exempted from such tiresome ceremony. Some of the other entries to Paris are somewhat better, but none of them sufficiently so, to be worthy notice; perhaps the best amongst the bad is by the Faubourg St. Antoine, the Barrieres du Trone, at the commencement and summit of the street, presenting a most noble appearance; indeed, as far as the barriers are concerned, there are many which are well worthy of notice, being mostly handsome stone buildings with columns that give them an imposing effect, particularly when we recollect the little turnpike gates at the principal entrances of London, with the exception of the recent erections at Knightsbridge, which sink into nothingness when compared to the Triumphal Arch at the entrance already described; and, except foreigners, particularly the English, enter by that quarter, the first aspect of Paris mostly excites disappointment; the generality of the streets wanting that straight line of regularity so prevalent throughout London, the French capital has an incongruous patchy sort of effect, and its beauties and objects of interest have to be sought, but to the eye of an artist it is much more gratifying than that dull sameness which reigns throughout London, which Canova very justly designated as consisting of walls with square holes in them; for what otherwise can be said of our houses in general, but that they are literally upright walls, with square holes for doors and windows. Regent Street and a few others, which have been recently erected, form an exception to the rule. But in almost every street in Paris a draftsman finds subject for his pencil; their richly carved gateways, their elaborately wrought iron balconies, their ornamented windows, and even their protruding signs, all help to break the formal straight line and afford ample food for sketching; and in many of their old and least fashionable streets, an ancient church with its gothic doorway, adorned by rich and crumbling sculpture, invites the artist to pause and exercise his imitative art. Paris at first strikes a stranger as still more bustling and noisy than London, as the streets being narrower and hack vehicles more used in proportion, the circulation gets sooner choked up, and the rattling over the stones of the carriages is still more deafening, being within so confined a space; hence also the confusion is greater; then there is always a sort of bewilderment when one first arrives in a large city, that makes it appear much more astounding than is found to be the case as soon as the visiter becomes accustomed to its apparent labyrinth.
According to comparative calculations, and taking the medium, Paris is about twenty-two miles round, and the population, foreigners included, one million; many estimate it at eleven hundred thousand, which I have no doubt it may be, if several villages be included which absolutely join Paris; such as Passy, Belleville, etc. The extreme height of the houses would induce a belief, that a more, dense mass of people inhabited the same space of ground than could be the case in London; but to counterbalance that circumstance, it must be taken into consideration that there are such an immense number of large gardens and court-yards in Paris, which occupy a great extent of ground. I have often been surprised to find, that in nasty dirty narrow streets, the back windows of the houses looked over extensive gardens, with lofty trees; these are oftener to be found in the old parts of Paris than in the modern quarters. A much greater proportion of the population consists of foreigners, than is the case in London, consequently it is more moving and changeable. It is the great post town for almost all Europeans who visit England, and hundreds of thousands come to Paris, who never think of going to London, deterred by an exaggerated idea of the expense; hence it will be found that very few persons from the Continent visit London who have not already been to Paris, although, now that steam conveyance affords such facilities of accommodation between London and many of the large cities in Europe, the case is somewhat altered. But Paris has been long regarded as the Museum of the Continent, and few men possessing good fortunes from civilised countries, if gifted with enquiring minds, consider their education complete if they have not sojourned some time at Paris, which has for time immemorial had the reputation of being the seat of the polite arts. Nearly a third of the houses in Paris are designated hotels, many of which do not provide meals but merely furnished lodgings, and most of their inmates are foreigners, others, persons from the provinces, consequently at least one quarter of the population of Paris is constantly changing. But perhaps no city is anywhere to be found where a stranger can sooner accommodate himself in every respect, as the customs are such that a person may live as he likes, go where he likes, and do as he likes, provided he do no harm. In London, if a lady and gentleman from the country arrive for the purpose of passing a day, and have no acquaintances, there are no houses as in Paris where one can take a wife, sister, or daughter to breakfast or dine, without being subject to remark, unless indeed you can draw up to the door of a hotel with an equipage; then certainly every attention and accommodation is to be found, but only such as will suit a very limited number of purses; whereas, at Paris a family may find in most of the restaurateurs small apartments where they can dine by themselves if they object to the public room, but even in the latter they might take their meal very undisturbed and without exciting the slightest observation, at various prices that will either suit the economist or the wealthy individual. This is amongst many of the conveniences of Paris; as also that of the libraries being open to the public, any one having the privilege to call for the book he wishes, where he may read as quietly as in his own house. This is extremely useful to studious and literary men, as there are so many works of reference too expensive to be within the compass of a small private library, which may be found in the liberal establishments in which Paris abounds. Museums, exhibitions, academies, gardens, public buildings, etc., are, with a very few exceptions, accessible to the foreigner merely on the exhibition of his passport.
TO AN HISTORIAN.
A very brief account of the foundation of Paris, its progress during the most remarkable epochs, and under the reigns of some of its most celebrated monarchs with its, gradual advance in civilisation to the present period. Some allusions also to the customs which existed in the earlier ages, and a statement of the different dates as regards the erection and foundation of the various monuments and institutions still extant.
France, under the ancient appellation of Gaul, is cited in history as early as 622 years before the Christian era, when Belloveaus, a celebrated leader from that country, defeated the Hetrurians and made himself master of Piedmont and Lombardy, by crossing the Rhone and the Alps with his army, which at that period had never before been attempted. Increasing in power, we find, 180 years after, the Gauls, headed by Brennus, sacking and burning Rome; and the same chief, after having been defeated and cut off by Camillus, the Roman general, with the loss of 40,000 men, again appears in the year 387 before Christ at the head of 150,000 foot and 60,000 horse, invading Macedonia, and after ravaging the country and being ultimately defeated in Greece, to have put an end to his existence. Some idea may be formed of the ferocious and obdurate spirit of the Gauls, from the circumstance of the women fighting as bravely as the men against Marius, who successfully defended Italy against them; and when these desperate amazons found that they were overpowered, they slew themselves and their children rather than surrender. This occurred 101 years anterior to the birth of our Saviour, and from that period scarcely a century has passed in which history does not record many instances of heroic devotion of Frenchwomen, often wrong in its object, but ever displaying a determined courage, reckless of all selfish consideration. The names of Joan of Arc, Jeanne Hachette, Charlotte Corday, and the Chevalier d'Eon are known to all, and hundreds of others must live in the memory of those who are familiar with the history of France. After numerous encounters between the Romans and the Gauls, the latter were at length wholly subdued about 50 years before Christ, and although the records of this ancient people date nearly as far back as the foundation of Rome, yet our first accounts of Paris are derived from Caesar and Strabo, who allude to it under the name of Lutetia, the principal city of the Parisii; and from the most probable statements which could be collected from aged persons at that period, it is presumed that its foundation must have occurred not more than half a century antecedent. It is supposed that the ground which Paris now occupies formerly consisted of a number of small hills, which in the process of time, building, paving, etc., have been somewhat reduced, by the summits having been in a degree levelled; and the houses upon them being generally not so high as those in the lower parts, the eminences are not now so apparent. These hillocks were called by the French buttes, and some of them are still very perceptible, such as in the rue des Saints-Peres, by the rue St-Guillaume, the rue Meslay, the rue de l'Observance, near the Ecole de Medecine, and several other places; indeed, on each side of the Seine Paris rises as you proceed to the Faubourgs. Some of these little hills still bear the name of butte, as les Buttes St-Chaumont, la rue des Buttes, etc., but the most ancient part of Paris is that which is now termed La Cite and is confined to an island formed by the Seine, and which is joined to the opposite banks by the Pont-Neuf (or New-Bridge), but certainly no longer meriting that title, having been built in the reign of Henry the Third about the year 1580. There are many histories of Paris which have been handed down by oral record to some of the earliest authors amongst the Gauls, but so ill authenticated that they do not merit repetition, having being reputed as fabulous by most writers to whom credit can be attached. There is, however, one account of the foundation of Paris which may be cited more for its comic ingenuity than for its veracity, beginning by tracing the Trojans to Samothes, the son of Japhet and grandson of Noah; then following in the same line, they endeavour to prove that at the destruction of Troy, Francus, the son of Hector, fled to Gaul, of which he became king and no doubt bestowed upon it the name of France, as the French have a most happy knack of cutting off the us at the end of names as, Titus Livius and Quintus Curtius they have metamorphosed into Tite-Live and Quinte-Curce, and in fact with one or two exceptions they have abbreviated the terminations of the ancient Greek and Roman appellations entirely according to their own fashion. This fortunate youth, Francus, at length fixed his abode in Champagne, and built the town of Troyes, calling it after his native place, which having accomplished, he repaired to the borders of the Seine and ever partial to Trojan associations, built a city which he called Paris after his uncle.
However agreeable it may prove to the feelings of the Parisians to trace their origin to the remotest antiquity, yet common sense suggests that the account of the foundation of their city which is the most rational, is that which is deduced from the Commentaries of Julius Caesar, he having been at some pains to ascertain from whence the Parisii sprung, and was informed by persons who remembered the epoch, that they were a people who had emigrated from their native country in consequence of the persecutions and massacres of their enemies, and that they were supposed to have belonged to some of the petty nations known under the common appellation of the Belgae, and arriving on the borders of the Seine requested permission of the Senones, a powerful people of the Gauls, to establish themselves on the frontiers of their territory, and place themselves under their protection, agreeing at the same time to conform to the laws of those whose hospitality they sought. That they were but a very inconsiderable people on the arrival of Caesar is proved by the small contingent of warriors they were required to supply by the Gauls, in their struggles against the Romans. The territory accorded to the Parisii could not have exceeded more than ten or twelve leagues, adjoining to the lands of a people termed Silvanectes on the one side, and to those of the Carnutes on the other. It is conjectured that the name of Parisii received its etymology from their being a people who inhabited the borders, as Par and Bar are synonymous from the P and the B having had the same signification, and which are often confused together at the present time by the Germans; and Barisii or Barrisenses, signifying a people inhabiting a space between other nations, hence it is inferred that the Parisii received that appellation from their occupying a spot on the frontiers of the Senones, separating them from the Silvanectes and the Carnutes. Amongst the many suppositions which have been formed as to the origin of the name of the Parisii, perhaps the above is the most rational. Paris, or Lutetia, soon after the conquest by Caesar became a place of importance, as he selected that city for a convocation of the different powers of Gaul when he required of them supplies for his cavalry; and a short time after, when the Gallic nation revolted from Caesar's dominion, one of the most decided battles which was fought was within sight of Paris, under Labienus, the Roman general, whilst the chief of the Gauls, Camulogene, perished in the combat with a considerable portion of his men, but the greater number saved themselves by taking shelter in Paris, which was not attacked, Labienus himself retreating to Agedineum. But although Caesar fixed upon Paris as the most convenient locality for the meeting of the Gallic chiefs, yet it was little more than a fort like all the other towns in Gaul, into which the natives retreated in the time of war with their females, children, cattle and moveables; as they were accustomed in time of peace to live in detached habitation in the midst of their flocks, their pastures and their cornfields, only retreating within their forts or cities for security when attacked. After the fall of Camulogene, Gaul soon returned to the Roman yoke and Paris subsequently became the residence of their prefects, governors and even emperors. In 1818, in digging deeply in the streets of Monceau and Martroi, near the church of Saint Gervais, an ancient cemetery was discovered. In one of the tombs was found a silver medal, in which a head was visible on one side, and a head crowned on the other, having this inscription, Antonius Pius Aug., who reigned from the years 138 to 161. It is inferred from this circumstance, that the burying-place was of coeval antiquity, but notwithstanding the many battles which occurred between the Gauls and the Romans, Paris is not cited in history until the fourth century, when Julian the Apostate appears to have there fixed his residence, and in his Misopogon, which he wrote during his residence at Antioch, often alludes to it under the name of his dear Lutetia, although complaining that the cold was such during one winter as to compel him to have a fire in his bed-room, expressing much dissatisfaction at the odour emitted by the burning charcoal, to the effects of which he was nearly falling a victim. His abode was what it is now and has been for many ages, the Palace of Thermes, of which there are still the remains, now converted into a museum for relics of the Ancient Gauls; the entrance is in the Rue de la Harpe. Between the numbers 61 and 65. Julian there resided with his wife Helen, sister of the emperor Constantius, and in his address to the senate and people of Athens speaks of the arrival of foreign auxiliary troops at Paris, and of their tumultuously rising and surrounding his palace; and that it was in a chamber adjoining that of his wife wherein he meditated on the means of appeasing them. According to various historians, this circumstance occurred in the year 360. Soon after this period, the same palace was inhabited by the Emperors Valentinian and Valens. It is supposed to have been built in the year 292, the evidence of which is tolerably well authenticated. Whatever errors might fall to the share of Julian, it is certain he rendered great service to Gaul, and particularly to Paris: he cleared the adjacent country entirely of a set of ferocious barbarians, who were eternally overrunning the different states of Gaul. But the Parisians were not long doomed to enjoy the quiet and prosperity which had been obtained for them by the equitable laws instituted by Julian. In 406, hordes of enemies suddenly appeared in all parts of Gaul, swarming in from different barbarous nations, in such numbers that they swept all before them for ten successive years, and about 465 the Franks succeeded in permanently establishing themselves in Gaul, and of course Paris shared the fate of the surrounding country; by them at length the Roman government was overthrown, and that which was substituted was far less equitable or calculated for the happiness of the people.
The Franks were a powerful maritime people, coming from the north-west of Germany, obtaining possession of the different towns which they met with in their course, until they arrived at Tournai, which was constituted their capital; and Childeric their king is reported to have laid siege to Paris, which resisted for several years; but dying in the year 481, he was succeeded by Clovis his son, who, at the head of a numerous army defeated the Roman governor Seyagrius, gained possession of his capital, and was styled the first King of Gaul. Many authors assert that Pharamond was the first monarch who reigned over the Gallic states, but Lidonius Appolinarus, who wrote only fifty years after the death of Pharamond persists that he and his three successors, who were all predecessors of Clovis, were only kings reigning over a portion of Gaul, and resigned their sovereignties at the retirement of the Romans. Clovis was celebrated as one of the greatest warriors of the period in which he lived; in the year 500 he slew Alaric King of the Visigoths in single combat in the plain of Vouille, near Poitou, and afterwards several other petty kings, thereby adding considerably to his dominions. In 508 he fixed his residence in Paris, and died there in 511, and was buried in a church called St. Peter and St. Paul, since styled St. Genevieve. He was called the Most Christian King. The Pope having no confidence in the professions of any other monarch at that time, Clovis is synonymous with the name of Louis, as the latter was formerly written Llouis, the double l signifying in the Celtic language cl, and pronounced in that manner at present in Welsh, as Llandovery, Llandilo, etc., have the sound of Clandovery, Clandilo, etc., whilst the v in Clovis has in more modern times been transformed into a u, as in all old writings the u and the v had the same signification; hence it will be found that Clovis and Llouis are the same word. His government being divided amongst his four sons, Childebert received the portion in which Paris was situated, and was styled King of Paris, which was only retained by a few of his successors, who assumed that of King of Gaul, or of France. The power of the monarch at that period was much restrained, by a class of men called Leudes, Anstrutions, or faithful, being companions in arms of the king, and sharing with him whatever lands or booty might be gained by conquest. As a proof of the tenacity of these gentry as to an equitable division of the spoil, when Clovis had taken Rheims, he demanded as an act of grace from his companions in arms, that they would grant him a precious vase for which he had conceived a peculiar predilection; his request was accorded by his associates, except one, who gave the vase a violent blow with his hatchet, saying, "No, thou shalt not have any thing beyond what thy lot awards thee." Even under the dominion of the Romans there were dukes who had a certain number of troops or armed men in the district where they governed, and their power was arbitrary and they had counts under them who also had a certain number of men subjected to their orders; sometimes these nobles carried rapine, pillage and slaughter into each other's territories, when the government had devolved upon the Franks; and the king took no notice of their misdeeds, as long as they observed a certain fealty towards him, and in some instances they put aside the monarch if he acted in such a manner as to trench upon what they considered their privileges. A third power soon began to assume a high authority, which consisted of the bishops, who had greatly aided the Francs in their invasion of Gaul by their influence and intrigues, and obtained as reward considerable grants of lands and temporal power; and in their dioceses they exercised a sovereign will, and on account of their possessing some instruction they maintained a certain influence over the ignorant nobility who had in some degree a sort of superstitious awe of them, as they were regarded as the emissaries of saints. Under the Romans the Gauls were considered a moral people, having become Christians in consequence of the persevering endeavours of the missionary prelates, whilst churches were founded and a purity of faith disseminated; taught by the Romans, a love of the arts and sciences was engendered amongst the Gauls, and much talent was elicited from them, philosophy, physic, mathematics, jurisprudence, poetry, and above all eloquence, had their respective professors of no mean abilities from amongst the natives; one named Julius Florens is styled by Quintilian the Prince of Eloquence. In fact a brilliant era appeared as if beginning to dawn throughout the greater portion of Gaul, academies were establishing, learning was revered, when suddenly every spark of refinement and civilisation was banished, by the successful aggression and permanent occupation of the country by hordes of barbarians; the natives being obliged to have recourse to arms for their defence against the common enemy, and the constant excitement of continued hostility with their ferocious oppressors, afforded no time for study nor cultivation of the arts. Clovis, however, during his reign improved Paris, and was converted to christianity by St. Vedast. Clotilda, his wife, and niece to Gondebaud, king of Burgundy, was principally instrumental to the conversion of her husband. Indeed, amidst their ferocity and barbarism some of the early Frank kings showed much respect for religion and morality, as is proved by an ordonnance of Childebert in the year 554; commanding his subjects to destroy wherever they might be found all idols dedicated to the devil; also forbidding all disorderly conduct committed in the nights of the eves of fetes, such as Christmas and Easter, when singing, drinking, and other excesses were committed; women were also ordered to discontinue going about the country dancing on a Sunday, as it was a practice offensive to God. It appears certainly very singular that a comparatively barbarous king in the sixth century should prohibit dancing of a Sunday as a desecration of the Sabbath, and that in the nineteenth century there should be more dancing on a Sunday than on any other day in the week, at a period which is arrived at the highest state of civilisation, and under the reign of a most enlightened monarch. But although Clovis and Childebert displayed much enthusiasm in the cause of christianity, their career was marked with every cruelty incidental to conquest, as wherever they bore their victorious arms, murder, rapine, and robbery stained their diabolical course; but they thought that they expiated their crimes by building churches. Hence Clovis in 508 founded the first erected in Paris dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul, afterwards called St. Genevieve, and on its site now stands the Pantheon. Childebert in 558 built the church of St. Germain des Pres, which is still standing and much frequented; it was at first called St. Vincent and St. Croix, and he endowed it so richly with the treasures he had stolen from other countries, that it was called the golden palace of St. Germain. Chilperic imitating his predecessors, hoping to absolve himself of his enormous crimes, in the year 606 founded the very interesting and curious church of St. Germain, opposite the Louvre, and still an object of admiration to the lover of antiquity. His wife Fredegonde, imagining no doubt by that act he had made his peace for the other world, thought that the sooner he went there the better, before he committed any farther sins, and had him assassinated that she might the more conveniently pursue her own course of iniquity; perhaps never was the page of history blackened by such a list of atrocities committed by woman as those perpetrated by her and her rival Queen Brunehault, who was ultimately tied to the tail of a wild horse and torn to pieces in 613. Paris, however, notwithstanding the wickedness, injustice, and cruelty of its rulers, continued to increase, and would no doubt have become a prosperous city, had it not been for the incursions of the Normands, who in the ninth century entered Paris, burnt some of the churches, and meeting with scarcely any resistance, made themselves masters of all they could find, whilst the Emperor Charles the Bald, at the head of an army, had the pusillanimity to treat with them, and finally to give them seven thousand pounds of silver to quit Paris, which was only an encouragement for them to return, which they did in a few years after, carrying devastation wherever they appeared, the poor citizens of Paris being obliged to save their lives by flight, leaving all their property to the mercy of the brigands. At length, the Parisians finding that there was no security either for themselves or their possessions, prevailed on Charles the Bald to give the requisite orders for fortifying the city, which was so far accomplished that it resisted the attacks of the Normans for thirteen months, who as constantly laid siege to the grand tower which was its principal defence, without being able to take it; when at last Charles the Fat in 887 proved as weak as his predecessors, and although he was encamped with his army at Montmartre, consented to give the barbarians fourteen thousand marks of silver to get rid of them, and they quitted Paris to go and pillage other parts of France, but as by the treaty they were not allowed to pass the bridges, in order to ascend the Seine they were obliged to carry their vessels over the land for about two thousand yards and again launch them for the purpose of committing farther depredations. From this period Paris was freed from the attacks of the the Normans, yet commerce made but slow progress having constant obstructions arising, to impede its prosperity. Paris having for a long time ceased to be the royal residence, was no longer considered as the capital, Charlemagne passed but a very short period of time there, residing mostly at Aix-la-Chapelle and Ratisbon, and although he founded many noble institutions in different parts of France, Paris derived but little benefit from his talents, and his immediate successors displayed such imbecility of purpose that they suffered their kingdom to become the prey to marauders. Learning advanced but slowly, although there were some schools at Paris which, elicited a few authors; amongst the rest one named Abbon, who wrote a poem in latin upon the siege of Paris by the Normans, which was not otherwise other-worthy of remark than for its rarity at the epoch when it was written. Whilst the kings of France continued to reside in other cities, Paris was confided to the governments Counts, who held not a very high rank amongst the nobility in the first instance, but gradually increased their power until Eudes, Count of Paris, in 922 ultimately became King of France, which also was the destiny of two other nobles who held the same title, Robert the brother of Eudes, and Hugh Capet.