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I am now at the corner of the Rue de la Paix. It is a beautiful autumnal evening. What a dazzling confusion of colours and images ! white houses, green trees, and glittering lights ! The rattling equipage rushes by me, the whispering saunterer lounges before me, and the group is seated round the café; and the music is far enough away to lose all harshness—and in the back-ground-behold! the piles of buildings, and the lines of lamps, rising one above the other, and broken at intervals by some dark mass of verdure! It is almost impossible to describe this scene, and as impossible to gaze upon itwithout inhaling some portion of the spirit it breathes, without feeling a character more soft and southern-a ray of light that had not penetrated there before, stealing into the severe and sombre recesses of one's northern imagination. Here it is more especially that the Bouvelards justify the old French proverb, which says, – 66 When le bon Dieu is out of humour, he opens one of the windows of heaven and reco. vers his spirits by a glimpse of this long line of trees.” There is certainly nothing that I know of, like the Boulevards, in any other city in the world.
The Boulevards contain a part of every district of
Paris, and exhibit every class of Paris— Description from the Rue Royale to the Rue de la Paix.-Terraces of the Rue Basse du Rempart-Stalls opposite, horses, equipages, &c. &c.-Description from the Rue de la Paix to the Rue de Ricehlieu-Voluptuaries — Gamblers Stockholders - The man of La Bruyère - Portraits — Description after the Rue Montmartre-Parisian Medici-Further on, commerce more modest Gaieties Dubureaux, waxworks, &c.—Boulevard Beaumarchais-Place Royale Elephant-Boulevards the best place to see the French people, and to study the French historyParis, 1814–Review by Louis Philippe.
Oxford STREET gives one aspect of London, Regent Street another, the Strand another; but the Boulevards, running directly through Paris, display the character of the town in all its districts, and the character of its inhabitants in all their classes.
Go from the Rue Royale to the site of the
old Bastille. You first pass by those zigzag and irregular houses that jut out upon the old rampart, and which have rather a picturesque appearance, from the gay little terraces and balconies, which, when there is a ray of sun, are sure to be lit up by it; and opposite, you have the stalls, gay also, (notwithstanding their poverty,) where you may get nailed shoes and cotton-net braces, and works 6 six sous the volume ?” stalls which carry, even into this scene of wealth and pleasure, the democracy of the epoch, and say that the people are everywhere buying, lounging, reading. And here you have a happy opportunity of admiring the vast variety of Parisian equipages—the poor and the rich are on horseback, on foot, in carriages, in tilburies, in “ citadines,' in ' demifortunes,' in omnibuses, hurrying to or from the Champs Elysées—but once passed the Rue de la Paix, in the neighbourhood of the Bains Chinois, the Café de Paris, and Tortoni's, you are in a different region. It is not only a throng perpetually changing, which you
- the cavalcade has in a great measure ceased ; and you perceive a new and
more lazy, and a more lounging crowd seated at the doors of the 6 cafés,' or strolling up and down before them. Those gentlemen
who, to use the French expression, “ eat their fortunes,” are here; and here are the gamblers of the stock exchange, of " the salon," and of Frascati's, the passionate race who crowd existence into a day, who live every minute of their lives, and who have come to enjoy the hour they have snatched from agitation. Here they saunter listlessly in the sun, or stand in clusters at the corners of the streets.
This is the spot, too, where you are sure to meet that smirking and happy gentlemen, who, as La Bruyère says, “encounters one everywhere” — that gentleman whom we just met in the Tuileries, whom we saw the night before at the opera, and whom we should be sure to stare in the face at the Variétés. Sit for half an hour on one of yonder chairs—there is hardly any class, the type of which will not pass before you ! The pretty nurse of the Chaussée d'Antin, the old bachelor of the Marais, the 'gros bourgeois' of the Rue St. Denis, the English family of two sons and seven daughters-all these you are sure to see in turn. But there are portraits sacred to the place! Yonder elderly gentleman is one! He is about fifty-five years of age; tall, with a slight bend forward; he moves with a certain stiffness; his hair, closely cut, is a dark-grey; his fea
tures, rather delicate and aristocratic than otherwise, are weather-beaten, and perhaps in some degree worn and sharpened by debauch; he wears a black neckcloth ; the part of his shirt that is seen is remarkably white; his coat, decorated with a red ribbon, is buttoned up to his chest, and only just shows a stripe of a pale yellow waistcoat ; he walks with a cane, and has that kind of half-haughty, half-careless air by which Bonaparte's soldier is still distinguished. A little behind him are two men, arm-in-arm ; the hat of one elaborately adjusted, is very much bent down before and behind, and turned up in an almost equal proportion at the sides; his waistcoat is peculiar and very long; his trowsers large about the hips, and tightening at the foot ; he wears long spurs, immense moustaches, brandishes a cane, spits, and swaggers. The other, as insignificant in appearance as his friend is offensive, wears a little round hat, a plain spotted summer waistcoat, light grey trowsers, and a thin stick, which he rather trails than flourishes. The inoffensive gentleman looks at nothing—the swaggering gentleman looks at everything: the inoffensive gentleman plays at whist, and creeps into society—the swaggering gentleman lives at the theatres, and drives about