tops and tiles of the houses. Although it does
not rain often, you cannot 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 mules-the
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;


any one reflect 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

[ocr errors]

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, nor do the gentlemen arrange their headdress in the public streets. The shopkeepers have lost their extraordinary civility, the noblesse' have lost the exquisite polish of the ancient manners; there are no longer mas. ters 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 Champ de Mars,' or harangues in the Chambre des Députés.' The passions are the same, but a new machine works them into different shape, and produces another manufacture from the same materials. We see the change that other laws and other ideas produce, and the popular spirit which has elevated the character of the people* has civilized the hack

* “We see,” says Mercier, who wrote just previous to the revolution of eighty-nine, we see at every



ney coaches, widened the streets, and saved two hundred per annum of the lives of his majesty's subjects.* We see what new ideas and new laws have changed, but we see also how much new ideas and laws have left unaltered. The wish to outvie, the desire to please, the fondness for decoration, the easy transition from one passion or one pursuit to another, the amour propre, the fickleness of the Parisian, are still as visible as they are under the Grand Monarque :' while, alas! the morals of society (if I may venture to say so) even yet remind

you the saying of Montesquieu, “Que le Français ne parle jamais de sa femme, parcequ'il a peur d'en parler devant les gens qui la connaissent mieux que lui.”

I have said that the Parisian is almost as fickle as he was. During the old hierarchy of ranks and professions he could be fickle in ittle but his pleasures. The career which conducted him to the grave was

traced at his cradle, and if he were born a footman, all he could hope was—to die a butler. The life step we take in the mud, that the people who go on foot have no share in the government."

* Two hundred was the average calculation of persons run over in the streets of Paris : this species of amusement was much in fashion during the latter days of the old régime.


of the Parisian has changed ! you may see in it the aspect of Paris itself. A new spirit; a spirit of commerce, of gain, of business, has made the city and its citizens different from what they were: the Bourse is the monument of the epoch: even the firework and the dance have been driven from their old resort, and lo! Beaujon and Tivoli* are destroyed by a building speculation ! But the same character which presided over the amusements has entered into the affairs of this volatile and light-hearted people, and among the causes of that distress so severely felt in 1830, we had to remark the careless, unreflecting, and variable disposition which induced the capitalist now to enter into a business with which he was wholly unacquainted, now to transport his capital, suddenly and without reflection, from one branch of industry to another ;-impatient of delay, uncalculating of consequences, and incessantly tormented by the unproductive appetite for novelty and adventure.t Du reste; Paris might still pass for a vast hotel. There are eight hundred cafés,' and one thousand * restaurants,' and here you are served on silver, amidst gilding, and painting, and glass: while the garçon' who says, 'Que voulez-vous, Monsieur?'

* Public gardens.
7 M. Béres, “ Causes du Malaise, 1831.”

presents a 'carte' with upwards of two hundred articles, * and lo! there are still cafés' and 'estaminets, taverns and the frequenters of taverns; and it is at night, as you see these places brilliant with light, filled with guests, surrounded by loungers, that you catch the character of Paris, such as it is, such as it was a century ago, when tempted by Law with those prints of Louisiana,t in which a people, as the beau idéal of happiness, were represented as indulging themselves in the sun ; rich without labour, and deriving most of their pleasures from their senses. In this city there are one hundred and ninety

* In 1819 Paris received 801,524 hectolitres de vin, 70,819 oxen, 6,481 cows, 67,719 calves, 329,000 sheep, 64,822 pigs and wild boars, 1,267,364 kilogrammes of dry cheese, and above 479,000 pounds of bread per day, or 113,880,000 kilogrammes per year; add to this 323,610 hectolitres of potatoes. Besides which were sold chickens, ducks, game, &c. to the amount of 7,601,402 francs, butter to the amount of 7,105,531, eggs 3,676,302 francs. See note (in Appendix, under Paris,) for principal articles of consumption before the revolution of eighty-nine, and for a bill of fare at a restaurant's.

† One of the devices of Law to favour the success of his scheme was to publish those prints, addressed to the passions and dispositions of the populace he seduced.

« VorigeDoorgaan »