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From Bentley's Miscellany.
When future historians sit down calmly the gaping mouths of the stone spouts, to discuss the merits and demerits of the and gave the passer-by a shower-bath. In Second Empire, it is quite certain that a few minutes the gutters were converted they must be unanimous in their praise of into rivulets, for the present system of the improvements to which Napoleon III. sewerage was a thing unknown; streets has subjected the capital of his empire. became lakes, and the tradesmen hurriedly It was the boast of Augustus that he closed their shops to keep the water out. found Rome of brick and left it of marble. When the rain had ceased, the doors The flatterers of our George the Fourth were again opened, and the apprentices said the same thing about the conversion began removing the water by means of of Swallow street into the Quadrant; but large sponges. The wayfarers emerged all such improvements pale into insignifi- from the gateways in which they had cance when compared with the alterations taken shelter, and crept cautiously along which the Emperor has produced in Paris, the slippery trottoir. Then came some Not alone that Paris has been adorned clever speculator to earn a few sous by with magnificent buildings, but the streets laying a plank across the road, on which have undergone a thorough renovation, only a tight-rope dancer could keep his and it is possible now to walk in comfort balance—but we seem to be only repeatthrough the penetralia of the Cité. To ing in halting prose what Boileau wrote the Emperor the great credit is due that in mellifluous verse about the discomforts he has not sought merely to aggrandize of Paris, and yet we are describing mathis reign by the erection of stately build ters from nature. It is not our fault if ings, which will form an epoch in French Paris in 1834 too often resembled the history, but at the same time he has ever Paris of 1693. kept in view the wants and wishes of the These things struck us at once while inbabitants.
pursuing our researches in new Paris — On first acquaintance with Lutetia Par- the absence of the gutter running through isiorum dates from the revolution of July, the center of the causeway, the disappearand on our last visit it seemed to us as if ance of the trottoirs, and the abolition of the city we remembered had disappeared reverbères, of revolutionary notoriety. In from the face of the earth to make room the time we first saw Paris, the pavingfor some gorgeous creation of John Mar- stones formed a hollow along the center tin. In those days Paris was essentially of the street, which, though not an actual black, crooked, and uncomfortable, and gutter, retained the moisture even through the painters of the Romantic school had the summer, for the sun found it impossiopportunities in abundance to represent ble to force its way between the bulging mediæval Paris. At that time the city houses and lick up the water. Even the possessed its bills and its valleys; the broader and more convenient streets in bridges were admirable counterparts of the middle of the city were always either the Montagnes Russes; and on the slight- wet or covered with a black layer of mud, est suspicion of frost, the horses found it less offensive when it rained than when impossible to ascend the acclivities of the the sun had imparted to it a degree of Pont Neuf and the Pont de la Tournelle, consistency. However active you might while the Boulevards and quays were in a be, you could not for any length of time deplorable condition, fully justifying the continue your peregrinations through the remark that Paris was the inferno of streets of Paris ; for while you were soon horses. A smart shower rendered Paris fatigued by incessantly slipping off the inaccessible for the pedestrian; water-greasy trottoirs, the stench emanating pipes had not then been invented, and the from the filth which was being continually rain poured down from the roofs through stirred up by passing carriages made one
sick at the stomach. In winter, again, seventeenth century there were in Paris the pedestrian ran considerable danger of twelve publicly privileged robbers' dens, being injured by the carriages, for, owing known by the name of “ Cours de Mirato the greasiness and high pitch of the cles,” of which Victor Hugo gives us such streets, the wheels persisted in making an admirable description. Unfortunately, eccentric revolutions, which inevitably our prosaic age can not tolerate the robrought them on to the trottoir.
mance of robber-life, and the Courts of It must be borne in mind that we are Miracles have been put down by the not writing of barbarous times, but of a strong arm of the law. Still, so long as recently passed lustre, of a blessed time of Paris exists, with its startling contrast bepeace, of elegant manners and civilization: tween unbounded riches and the extrembut the pedestrian was not taken into ac- est poverty, it must be a prey to the count. The small space left him by the dangerous classes that war against society. vehicles he could only attain in the sweat So late as 1836, these rogues regarded of his brow. Now, broad footpaths are the night as their exclusive property. his property, which no coupé or cabriolet With the twilight the veriest scum of dare invade. He can now walk firmly Paris congregated on the Place de la Conwith clean boots, even if it have been rain- corde. No honest man ventured among ing furiously for hours. So soon as the them, except under the most pressing nestorm ceases, the population of idlers and cessity, and he might esteem himself forflâneurs reäppear and lounge along the tunate if he escaped with only the loss of asphalt pavement; while, though their his watch and purse. After dusk no one noses may be unpleasantly affected by the ventured to walk along the Boulevard des gutters running along the pavement, at Filles du Calvaire, or the Boulevard of any rate their stomachs are no longer up- the Bastille. París ended with the exset. But the greatest change has taken treme verge of the Marais. On the other place in the night of Paris. Formerly, it side was the town wall, with a prospect is true, the streets were not quite unillu- across the Rue Basse of wood-yards, fields, minated, but the reverbères could hardly and nursery.gardens. Further along the be regarded as lighting, although they pro- Boulevards you came to the remains of duced a remarkable change, and length. Beaumarchais's splendid house and garened the daily traffic of the city by six dens, a half-finished basin in which stood hours. In the reign of Louis XIV. com- the column of July, and a plaster model mercial Paris closed its doors at nine in of an elephant, designed for a fountain, summer and five in winter; but the intro- but never completed, and which eventually duction of the reverbères effected an al- became a colony of rats. Round about teration, more especially as, with the rey- these a spacious open quadrangle indicated olution, they were lighted every even the spot where the Bastille had formerly ing. Under the monarchy, the light- stood. Not a trace was to be seen of the ing of Paris being farmed out, the good once terrible building; the moat, a pestcitizens had often to wade home through iferous swamp, with a green covering of a sea of mud in the dark, or hire a boy festering weeds and some blocks of stone at the corner of the street to light them to which peered out from the dank vegetatheir houses. Paris of to-day and Paris of tion, were the only visible proofs of the yesterday are as different as light from existence of the Bastille. The long walk darkness. The light destroys those places along the Boulevards ended as it beganand schemes which depend on darkness in desolation and uncompleted monufor success, and shun any illumination. ments. At one end the elephant founLight kills like the Delian Apollo des- tain, at the other the Madeleine church; troyed with his golden arrows the dragon on all sides there was something to comPython, the father of the Gorgon and the plete or remove. The Seine had to be Hydra. When Boileau writes that the freed from the old houses which obstructmost dangerous and desolate forest was a ed passage; the quays must be leveled to secure place as compared with Paris, it form a long, straight route from the Pont was no witty exaggeration. In any rich d'Jéna to the Pont d'Austerlitz, from the city, where the night is longer than the granaries to the garrison bakery; the river day, there is an endless succession of must be hemmed in between lofty insurcrimes, and murderers and robbers find mountable walls, the public buildings rescertain shelter. Even at the close of the tored from the unclean and tottering
condition in which they vegetated; the of Louis XIII., who had the Marais laid wretched shops and stalls removed from out after a regular plan, with a large place the immediate vicinity of the palace. But after the pattern of the Netherlands. The there was much more to be done besides Place Vendôme and the Invalides, the all this : the Louvre to be restored, Paris chief monuments of the lengthy reign of rebuilt in accordance with a regular plan, Louis XIV., are sufficient to show what the old_Cité reformated, as Medea reno- that monarch might have made of Paris, vated (Eson; gardens must be laid out, had he not devoted his attention almost trees planted, lungs for the city arranged, exclusively to Versailles. From that time the miracles of art and science introduced Paris was left to its fate, and although & to every-day notice; and hundreds of few streets were opened, and the most other equally important matters. Well, crying defects repaired, still the center of reader, every thing that seemed impossi- Paris has always proved the stumblingble has been proved not merely possible, block which prevented any material imbut carried into effect—and that, too, with provement. This was the narrowest, a rapidity that you can hardly believe it all darkest, and dirtiest part of the town, a has happened within your lifetime. New chaotic mass of filthy houses, and narrow, Paris in so far differs from old Rome, that winding streets, into which the sun never it has been built in a day.
penetrated : in this confined sphere lived During the last half-century the popu- some fifty thousand people, and the numlation of Paris has more than doubled, ber was indefinitely increased during and the measure of its prosperity increased business hours. As was natural, this was proportionately with even greater rapidi- always the unhealthiest part of Paris; the ty. It was necessary that new houses tables of mortality show that while the should be built and suitable sites selected. average deaths in the more open parts of The north-west side was preferred; and Paris were one in fifty, in the center one hence Paris has not grown equally in in thirty died. Here, too, epidemic disevery direction. As in other great cities, eases raged most severely. In 1832 and the population of Paris has collected in 1848, the cholera was fearful in the center districts, so that similar trades are assem- of the city, and in the confined region bled in the same part. Thus, the great round the Hôtel de Ville the mortality manufactories may be found in the Fau- was five times as great as in the open, bourg St. Antoine; the smaller factories, healthy neighborhood of the Chaussée such as the bronze foundries and smithies d'Antin. Every thing tended to prove in the Marais; the dealers in imported that, if broad streets were made through articles are found in the district between the center of the Cité, this quarter would the Hôtel de Ville and the Canal St. Mar- not only become more convenient and ortin; in the vicinity of the Rue Hauteville, namental, but at the same time the inthe commission and export agents have habitants would be healthier and have collected ; further on, near the Place increased facilities of trade communication des Victoires, we find the dépôts of wool with the faubourgs. In this sense the en goods; while across the water, in the present government has perfectly compreQuartier Latin, the tan-pits and dyers' es hended its mission, and immortalizes itself tablishments occupy the banks of the Biè- by commencing its improvements in that vre; and the printers, bookbinders, etc., portion of the Cité where the want was are congregated around the schools and most pressingly felt. university. Hence it is seen that each It would be unjust to assert that since part of the city possesses its elements of the First Empire no French government prosperity; but they are too unequally has made attempts to remodel or improve divided, and too much isolated. The Paris. During the Restoration but little great object, then, is to approximate them, was done, and private buildings as much and the greatest want hitherto felt in surpassed the public edifices as the reverse Paris has been of broad bridges and chaus- had been the case under Napoleon I., but sées, which would accelerate the commu- the dynasty of July did much to improve nication between the various suburbs. the city. The formation of the Rue RamThe towns of Flanders were at least three butcau, running parallel with the river, and centuries in advance of the capital of forming a better communication between France in this respect. The first trace of the Place Royale and the Halles, was the design in Paris will be found in the reign greatest and inost useful of the undertak
ings made by that government. The par- / were afraid of attracting attention by any tial removal of the buildings round the profuse outlay, and consequently the trade Hôtel de Ville, the formation of the Rue of Paris, being entirely dependent on Lobau, Rue du Pont Louis-Philippe, and them, was utterly stagnant. Every gov. of another street running from the rear of ernment, then, whatever name or form the Hôtel de Ville to the gate of the it might have, if it desired stability, church of St. Gervais, also in some mea- was forced to find employment for the sure ventilated the center of the city. poorer classes, and set money in circulaStill, the Citizen King, in this as in too tion; not merely because the workman many other matters, allowed himself to must eat, but because an idle man is a be directed by accidental circumstances dangerous man in any state, above all, in rather than a given plan. A wise and one that is insecure. After the coup d' powerful ruler, faithful in peaceful times état Louis Napoleon, consequently, sought to the principles of the founder of his dy- to consolidate his power and make a pow. nasty, was destined to reconstruct Paris. erful impression on public opinion, and he Napoleon III. was the restorer of public chose the improvements of Paris as the peace and security in France, and with best and most effectual means. According these trade and commerce emerged from to an old French proverb, “all goes well their torpor. So soon as the community when le bâtiment goes on " and by this is felt itself saved from the horrors of inter- understood a quantity of special trades, necine war, the confidence it displayed in which furnish employment for at least the new system was extraordinary. The 50,000 workmen, or about one fourth of numerous joint-stock enterprises, the enor- the industrial population of Paris. In mous state loans, suddenly produced an consequence of this new impetus the incredible mass of easily convertible capi- amount of money employed in private tal, and the spirit of speculation became building soon grew from twenty-eight to so powerful among the Parisians that even two hundred and fifty millions, and the the war could not damp it. Entire quar- quantity of work for the laborers increased ters disappeared and rose again by magic; in an equal ratio. and it would be incredible, if it could not If however, the primary cause of the be proved by documents, that during five Parisian improvements may be of a poyears of the present régime four times as litical character, there is a second cause much was effected for the improvement of much more important and beneficial of Paris than during the thirty-one years aspect. A portion of Paris was immod. of the Restoration and the July dynasty. erately populous and industrial, another The sums expended in the improvements almost lifeless and dull. of Paris from 1816 to 1830 amounted to thronged round the Palais Royal, the 10,250,000fr., and from 1831 to 1847 to Louvre, and the Halles. This was an ad. to 24,500,000 fr.; while between 1851 and mirable situation for the retail trade, from 1855 the enormous sum of 157,651,000 fr. its vicinity to the Boulevards. Houses was expended for the same purpose. were expensive here, but any one who Even more admirable than this is the depossessed one considered his fortune as sign accompanying these magnificent made. On the other hand, the once rich works, for every day the spirit becomes Quartier du Marais, the handsome Faumore visible which has actuated Napoleon bourg St. Germain, and the West-end had III. in all his undertakings. He has so sunk in public repute that they appear. proved to his people not only that he ever ed like a city of the dead. The farther studies their welfare, but that he possesses one went from the center the broader and the head with which to find the means. longer the streets became, but trade was
Paris is not a commercial and manufac- stagnant. The more distant Quartiers turing city, which, like London, can be had no intercommunication, and lay round independent. The enormous population Paris like villages. In Chaillot and the it contains lives almost entirely on the Roule, behind the Chaussée d'Antin, and luxury and expenditure of rich Frenchmen the Faubourgs Montmartre, Poissonnière, and foreigners, who spend their revenues St. Denis, St. Martin, etc., on the right there, and consequently furnish employ- bank, as well as in the district between ment for all hands. The rich foreigners, the Gobelins and the Invalides, resided however, were driven from France by the many thousands who belonged only topoRevolution, the rich people of France graphically and politically to Paris, but
seemed to have no connection with the the most respectable and cleanest in the city, which they only visited on business quarter, and which ran to the Château or on holidays, All these districts were d'Eau: gone, too, is that labyrinth of once villages, which gradually joined them- dirty, and scandalous streets that formed selves to the colossus, and were finally in a chain of villainy between the Louvre cluded by a common wall, during Ca- and the Palais Royal, in which no honest lonne's ministry in 1784. In these village citoyenne dare appear by day or night, like districts every thing was quiet and lest she might be subjected to insult. It rustic. Here you might see, within the is difficult now for us to comprehend how banlieue, fields of wheat, spacious orchards, such a swarm of scoundrels could find large nursery-gardens, dépôts of wood and shelter on a spot which is only just large stone, and those factories which required enough for the new Louvre buildings. large space, which could be obtained here all this and much else existed five years at a cheaper rate. In short, while one ago-a miserable sight for the philanthropart of the city was overcrowded, another pist ; now it is almost an obliterated rewas almost deserted. So soon, then, as miniscence, attaching itself to the archæ. the number of houses in the populous ologic memories of the Bastille and the quarter was diminished, the inhabitants Carillon on the Pont Neuf. The boarded were compelled to emigrate to the deso- stalls of the Carousel are as much a Parilate portions of Paris. Such has been the sian tradition as the old wooden gallery object for which the present government in the Palais Royal, once known as the of France has been striving, and it has “ Camp of the Tatars.” met with perfect success.
The Parisians bave certainly witnessed The new Louvre was designed as the eternal repairs and improvements on the nucleus of new Paris. The completion of Louvre and the Tuileries, but they prothis palace has so long been regarded as gressed so slowly that they might have impracticable, as the creation of the brain, gone on building forever, for before one that it is difficult to believe in the realiza- part was finished, another had fallen into tion, even when it is visible to us as a à dilapidated state. Now the Parisians gigantic fact. The Parisians had for so see with amazement that the two palaces long a period known the court of the are connected, and the new Louvre built Louvre as a cloaca, where at night four and decorated with magical rapidity, bewooden posts stretched out their arms to fore they had time to form an idea of its the passengers, diffusing a sickly light, extent, arrangement, and plan. The huge and the Carousel-square, as a fair-ground, block of buildings now covering the Place full of booths and stalls, that they had at de Carousel is of very recent date, the last persuaded themselves that the dirty foundation-stone having been laid in July, streets, gallows-like lamp-posts, and neck- 1852. Since that date the wing on the breaking holes, formed an indispensable north side of the Tuileries, begun by Naadjunct of the royal palace. And, in fact, poleon I. and extending from the Pavillon is it not a dream? Five years have de Rohan to the Rue de Marengo, has scarce elapsed, and the whole disgraceful been completed, thus forming the connecheap of pig-sties, stalls, pot-houses, and tion between the Louvre and the Tuiletapis francs has disappeared. The holes ries. At the same time two other wings are filled up, the ground leveled and have been added, running parallel from covered with magnificent buildings, and, the old Louvre to the Place du Carousel, strange to say, the eye accustoms itself so and forming a large square, which has reentirely and rapidly to the change, that ceived the name of the Place Napoléon the memory can hardly summon up the III. Round the new wings, along the old aspect of the place; we seem to forget Place du Carousel and the Place Napoutterly the but recent buildings that cov- léon III., run covered walks, with terraces, ered it. At length we vacantly look in which an army of statues of celebrated round for the Rue du Doyenné, a species men stand in rank and file, like soldiers of Invalid quarter; the Hôtel de Nantes, in the battlements of a fortress. Doubts a large house standing alone in the center may exist as to the æsthetic value of the of the Place, where it looked like a pyra- new edifices, and we are not disposed to mid, and served as a house of call for all agree with the French critics when they the omnibuses of the city and the ban- say that it is “le plus beau monument lieue; the Rue St. Thomas du Louvre, d'architecture moderne qu'il y ait dans