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Divided in 1702; in 1789, by the Convention. More divided by manners than
laws.-Description of the Chaussée d’Antin.—The Faubourg St. Germain.-The Quartier of the Students.—The Marais.-Faubourg St. Antoine.—The old city.
This city has undergone a variety of divisions. In 1702 it was divided by Louis XIV. into twenty quartiers or districts ; a division which did not suffice in 89, when it was necessary to make a new distribution in order to elect the Deputies of the States-General. Finally, by a decree of the Convention, Paris was formed into twelve municipalities, each of which contained four quartiers ; and this arrangement is still maintained. But it is not so much by its laws, as by its manners, that Paris is divided. There are districts differing as widely, one from the other, in the ideas, the habits, and the appearance of their inhabitants, as in the height and size of their buildings, or the width and cleanliness of their streets. The Chaussée d'Antin breathes the atmosphere of the Bourse, the Palais Royal, and the Boulevards; it is the district of bankers, stock-brokers, generals of the empire, rich tradespeople-and represents May-fair and Russel-square intermingled. The Chaussée d'Antin is the district fullest of life, most animated, most rife with the spirit of progress, of change, of luxury, of elegance. Here you will find all new buildings, all new arcades, all new passages; here first appear all new inventions; here are first opened all new shops; here are given the richest and inost splendid balls ; here you meet a race who go to bed late, frequent the theatres, fill the opera, whitewash their houses every year, and new paint their carriages; here you see the insolence of parvenu power—the contempt of the thick lip and the turned-up nose-contempt which is adequately returned by the possessor of yon dim and vast hotel in the Faubourg St. Germain- for we are come to another district-to the district of
the long and silent street; of the meagre repast and the large and well-trimmed garden ; of the great court-yard-of the broad and dark staircase. This is the quartier inhabited by the Administrations—by the old nobility; this is the quartier which manifests no signs of change, no widening and straitening of streets, no piercing of passages : it hardly possesses a restaurant of note, and has but one unfrequented theatre. And now, not far from where we are, is the quartier of the students; quartier at once poor and popular; amidst which -monument legitimate to the district, inhabited by that brave and exalted youth, who knew how to vanquish for an opinion in July, to suffer for an opinion in June-monument legitimate to the district, inhabited by those eloquent and illustrious professors who give to France a glory superior to that of arms—rises the Pantheon! And yonder is the Observatory, and the Jardin des Plantes, and the memory of Cuvier.
Then there is the Marais-the retreat of the old-fashioned judge and the old-fashioned merchant, where the manners have been changed, almost as little as the houses, by the philosophy of the eighteenth century-no carriages, no equipages, not a solitary cabriolet in the streets! All is still, silent; you are amongst the customs of the provincial village and the grand hotels of the time of Louis XIII. Then there is the Faubourg St. Antoine---residence of those immense masses which an event so mysteriously produces—of those masses who reigned under Robespierre, and whom Bonaparte, after Waterloo, refused to summon to his assistance. And behold! the ancient city of Paris, " the dear Lutetia” of Julien surrounded by the Seine, and filled by a vast and wretched population! There, proud amidst the sordid roofs around them, rise the graceful and splendid towers of Notre-Dame, that temple of the twelfth* century, which in spite of the Madelaine has not been surpassed in the nineteenth!--and there is the Hôtel Dieu, the antique hospital to which Philippe Auguste gave the straw that had covered the royal chambers of the palace !—and there is the Palais de Justice, where sat the parliament of Broussel, remarkable in the Chronicle of De Retz!
* Built by Maurice de Sully in 1163.
&c. &c. &c., &c., &c.
Though a nation perpetually changes, the features remain the same.-Letter
of a Sicilian gentleman in the time of Louis XIV.-The likeness between Paris then and Paris now. We see what new ideas and laws have changed. -What they have left unaltered. The character of the French displayed in different circumstances.-Aspect of Paris in many respects the same.—Manners of people illustrated by facts. What the Revolution did. The manners of the old aristocracy have had greater effect upon the manners of the middling classes, than the manners of the middling classes upon those of the old aristocracy.—The personages who have disappeared-What you now see in their places-Many places where people may live upon as little, no place where they live so magnificently upon a little as Paris.-Mons. Bontin.-Few rich in Paris, few poor.-The climate.The hero of a fine day --The lion. The student.-Future of Paris.The past.
I CONFESS, for
my own part, that I have often been struck by the resemblance which Time (that touches and alters, piece by piece, almost all that relates to the existence of a people) still leaves between century and century. During the life of a nation, as during the life of an individual, the body changes more than once every particle of its materials; but the features, the proportions, the likeness remain, and, as on looking to the dial, we discover from the hour which is marked the course which the hand has had to run, so in regarding a country with intelligence, we may divine its history from the newspapers on our table. The letter of a Sicilian gentleman gives the following description of Paris in the time of Louis XIV. “ It is no exaggeration,“ says he, "to remark that Paris is one vast hotel. You see every where cafés, estaminets, taverns, and the frequenters of taverns. The kitchens smoke at all times, and at all times eating is going on. The luxury of Paris is something extraordinary and enormous its wealth would enrich three cities. On all sides you are surrounded by rich and splendid shops, where every thing is sold that you don't want, as well as every thing which you require. ' All would wish to live splendidly, and the
poorest gentleman, jealous of his richer neighbour, would live as well as he does. Ribbons, looking-glasses, are things, without which the French could not live. Fashion is the veritable demon of the nation; one sex is as vain and as desirous of pleasures as the other; and if the women never stir without a mirror, the men also may be seen arranging and combing their wigs publicly in the streets. There is not a people so imperious and so audacious as these Parisians; they are proud of their very fickleness, and say that they are the only persons in the world who can break their promises with honour. In vain you look for modesty, wisdom, persons
who have nothing to do (a Sicilian is speaking), or men who have grown old. But if you don't find modesty, wisdom, or old age, you find obsequiousness, gallantry, and politeness. Go into a shop, and you are cajoled into buying a thousand things you never dreamt of, before you obtain the article you want. The manner of the higher classes is something charming—there are masters who teach civility, and a pretty girl the other day offered to sell me compliments.
The women dote upon little dogs. They command their husbands and obey nobody. They dress with grace. We see them at all hours, and they dote on conversation. As to love, they love, and listen to their lovers, without much difficulty—but they never love long, and they never love enough. I have not seen a jealous husband, or a man who thinks himself unhappy and dishonoured because his wife is unfaithful.
“During the Carême, the people go in the morning to a sermon, and in the evening to a comedy, with equal zeal and devo*tion. The Abbés are in great number, and the usual resource of ladies in affliction. The young men are perpetually in the racket-court--the old men pass their time at cards, at dice, and in talking over the news of the day. The Tuileries are the resort of the idle and those who wish, without taking any trouble about it, to be amused. It is there that you laugh, joke, make love, talk of what is doing in the city, of what is doing in the army; decide, criticize, dispute, deceive. Chocolate, tea, and coffee are very much in vogue; but coffee is preferred to either tea or chocolate; it is thought a remedy for low spirits. A lady learnt the other day that her husband had been killed in battle: " Ah, unhappy that I aml said she, quick, bring
any one reflect
me a cup of coffee! The inhabitants of Paris are lodged upon the sides of the bridges, and even upon the tops and tiles of the houses. Although it does not rain often, you can't help walking in the mud, for all the filth of the town is thrown out into the streets, which it is impossible for the magistrates, however strict, to keep clean. The ladies never go out but on mulesthe gentlemen walk in large high boots. The hackney-coaches are old, battered, and covered with mud. The horses which draw them have no flesh on their bones. The coachmen are brutal; they have a voice so hoarse, and so terrible, and the smacking of their whips so horribly increases the noise, that no sooner is the rattling machine in movement, than you imagine all the furies at work in giving to Paris the sounds of the infernal regions." Such was Paris above a century ago;
let upon the immense changes that have taken place since that time. Let any one reflect that we have had since then, Law, Voltaire, Rousseau—the orgies and bankruptcy of the Regent, the reign of Louis XV., the decapitation of Louis XVI., the wars and terrors of the republic, the tyranny of the empire, the long struggle of the restoration,- let any one reflect, that since then have been born the doctrines of equality and liberty, which will probably change the destinies of the world. Let any one, I say, reflect on all this, and tell me, as he reads the passage I have cited, whether the resemblance is not strong between the past and the present ?—whether, in looking at Paris under Louis Philippe, he cannot trace all the main features of its picture taken during the time of Louis XIV.?
Paris is certainly altered; the ladies no longer ride on.' mules, and the gentlemen do not arrange their head-dress in the public streets. The shopkeepers have lost their extraordinary civility, the noblesse have lost the exquisite polish of their ancient manners; there are no longer masters to teach you civility, nor young ladies who sell you compliments. The Parisians under a serious government are not so frivolous as of yore: the vanity then confined to the toilette and the drawing-room has taken a prouder flight, and prances on the Champs de Mars, or perforates in the chamber. The passions are the same, but a new machine works them into a different shape, and produces another manufacture from the same