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 Place de l’Opéra

Place de l’Opéra

Charles C. Fulton was one of the incomprehensibly rich American tourists who invaded Paris two years after the twin calamities of the Franco-Prussian War and the fall of the Second Empire. In 1871, the city was ruined by Prussian bombardment and the Commune of Paris revolution, both responsible for destroying and damaging many public buildings. It is therefore surprising that Fulton never mentions the wounds Paris had sustained. In the two years that followed, Paris seems to have risen from the ashes to dazzle the foreigners as it did under the reign of Napoleon III.

Excerpt from Europe Viewed Through American Spectacles by Charles C. Fulton.

Paris, August 18, 1873

It is not an easy matter at this late day to write letters from Paris that will interest and instruct. It is a city which everybody is familiar with, it having been so often described, and its attractions and beauties so vividly spread before the general reader that it would almost seem like undertaking to write something new about Baltimore. We have visited it so often, and ridden and walked through its multifarious thoroughfares until all its crooks and turns are as familiar to us as those of any of our leading American cities. Still there is something about Paris that makes it always appear bright, gay, and sparkling to the visitor.

The Parisian does not worship the “dust of ages” or take pride in smoked and begrimed walls as the Londoner does. If he has anything that is handsome he tries to make it handsomer. He is always rubbing, scrubbing, and polishing old things, or tearing them down to make room for something new and more beautiful. The four handsome clusters of gas-lamps in the centre of the Place de l’Opéra are not only kept as bright and elegant as the day they were put up, but the elaborate bronze lamp-posts are polished with as much regularity as the glasses of the lamps. If the slightest defect is observed in one stone in the street, it is relaid or replaced by a new one; and if a flaw in the asphaltum as large as a man’s hand is discovered, a repairing party is at work in a few hours, and the defect removed. Every tenant is held responsible for the cleanliness of the street before his door, and neither dirt nor rubbish of any kind is permitted. As in public matters, so also is those of private concern. They never allow their houses or store fronts to become dull or dingy. They are always arranging and rearranging the goods in their windows and striving to make them more attractive. All these scores of miles of boulevards are planted with sycamore trees. When they plant trees they take good care that they shall have a fair chance to grow, and they are all flourishing beautifully. Around each tree an iron grating, extending three feet each way, is inserted in the pavement, in order that its roots may have breathing-room and water. There are hundreds of thousands of these trees all thus planted, and all tended and watered by the city authorities. If one should happen to die, a tree of similar size is brought to take its place, that the uniformity may be unbroken. These trees are the pride of Paris, and are yearly becoming more serviceable as a shade to the broad sidewalks as well as a grand ornament to the boulevards.

Thus it is that the attractions of Paris are always increasing. No rust or decay is permitted , and old things are swept away as having served their day and generation. Antiquity has no worshipers, and is made to yield to the spirit of improvement. New squares, gardens, and fountains are following the march of improvement in the suburbs, and even in those quarters of the city where the poorer classes mostly reside, these pleasure-grounds are being fitted up as elegantly as in the wealthiest sections. Paris is not beautiful in spots, but every portion of it abounds in attractions.

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Le Bal du Moulin de la Galette by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1876

Le Bal du Moulin de la Galette by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1876

I would have a hard time finding the exact source of the following anonymous text, but the writing style points to the early Victorian times. No doubt, the author was one of the American tourists appreciating France’s unabashed joie-de-vivre and the lack of remorse for having good time – a remorse which was so ingrained in the Anglo-Saxon soul:

An American is made for indoors, but a Frenchman’s home is the outside half of his house. It is for the street he sacrifices domestic comfort. He eats and drinks in the street; he reads his newspaper and takes his dram in the street. To appear like ladies or gentlemen in public one day in the week, either sex will economize their personal wants the remaining six to a condition bordering almost on penury, to save sufficient money to hire, if they cannot purchase, the necessary garments. More can be made of a small capital in Paris than in any other city. There is no occasion to buy anything. Whatever is needed of clothing, domestic utensils, or any article whatever, even to a newspaper, can be hired at moderate rates for any period of time.

One of the most striking contrasts between the French and Americans is in their physical appearance. Both sexes of the former look healthy and robust. Their countenances are full and florid, and have an expression of sensual ease and contentment, as if they were on good terms with themselves and the world. They have none of the care-worn, haggard American physiognomy, which gives youth the air of age, and betokens a race in which labor and thought are paramount to all other considerations. On the contrary, the French when old, look young. The pleasures of this life oil the joints of age, so that time slips smoothly by. If any class belie their years it is the children, to whom overdress and physical restraint give an expression of premature gravity or unnatural heaviness. No doubt the outdoor, and “care not for to-morrow,” life of the French, combined with their passion for amusements, has much to do in their fine state of preservation. Something must be put down to their superior toilets. For the English, with perhaps a higher condition of health, look beside them, to use a comprehensive term in the female vocabulary, like frights, or in other words, there is about as much difference of exterior between the two races as between a buffalo and a blood horse. This applies more particularly to the women. I verily believe an English lady to be incorrigible in matters of taste; or else it has become a point of honor with her to make herself as unattractive as possible. If both nations would divide equally their respective pride and vanity, the result would be a decided improvement in each. Add to this composition the go-ahead principle of brother Jonathan, and the world would have a specimen of a race that would soon distance all national competition in the essential points of order, beauty, and energy. For a man whose passions are his slaves, whose sentiments are obedient to his will, whose emotions are made so many sources of epicurean pleasure, who lives only to extract the greatest amount of happiness from the sensual world, regardless of a spiritual life, Paris affords resources which are not to be found elsewhere. It is emphatically the home of the man of the world. All that the head can covet is at his option ; but if he has the faintest suspicion of possessing a heart in which dwells the love of the true and natural, he had better withdraw it from the vortex of Parisian life, before it is sucked in too deep to escape.

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big stomachsThe following text was written by James Jackson Jarves (1818–1888). This American newspaper editor and art critic visited Paris in the early 1850’s and published his impressions in Parisian Sights and French Principles, seen through American spectacles (1852). His humor and the clarity of his writing vividly portray the living conditions in mid-century Paris.

To see the French eat one should visit the restaurants of lesser magnitude and fame, particularly of a Sunday, where the rush to dinner, as no one dines that day under his own roof, is absolutely fearful to a lover of a quiet meal. Infants, dogs, and nurses, all have a seat that day, and the amount consumed would indicate considerable preparatory fasting. Eating and drinking, for the moment, becomes the only business of life. The preparations bespeak the seriousness of the operation. A family enters, consisting of father, mother, maiden sister, two children under five years of age, and a dog. All the tables are filled. They turn to go out. The restaurateur rushes forward, intercepts their retreat, and promises a table “toutsuite.” He sees one party have called for their bills, hands them their change, and plumps the new comers into their warm seats, with an array of broken bread, dirty glasses and all the debris of the previous meal before them. Once seated, with bonnets and hats hung up, they are considered as secure as fish fairly hooked. The “garçon,” with a dexterity and rapidity peculiarly his own, whisks away the soiled table-cloth and dishes, and in an instant has replaced them with snow-white linen and porcelain. Now commences the “tug of” eating. Each member of the party, except the dog who gravely occupies his chair, too well-bread to manifest impatience, plants a napkin under his or her chin, of the dimensions of a moderate sized table-cloth. The females pin the extremities to each shoulder, so that in front they have much the appearance of being in their shrouds. The menu card is studied, orders given, and content and pleasure reign. At these family feasts children are literally crammed, indulged with wines and all the delicacies called for by adult taste, their parents delighted in proportion to the quantity they consume. Eating, under almost any circumstances is to a looker-on a vulgar operation. In one of these restaurants it is certainly an amusing one to a veteran traveler, whose sensibilities have long since had their edges blunted. The French from early habit frequently make themselves very much at home at restaurants and cafes, spending their evenings at the latter, reading the journals, and playing chess or dominoes, paying for the same by calling for a bottle of beer or glass of brandy. I have myself seen a woman who had come in by herself, after finishing her repast coolly throw herself back in her chair and proceed to take a comfortable digestive nap, apparently wholly oblivious to the existence and manifold trials of the race denominated “unprotected females.’

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last floorThe following text was written by James Jackson Jarves (1818–1888). This American newspaper editor and art critic visited Paris in the early 1850’s and published his impressions in Parisian Sights and French Principles, seen through American spectacles (1852). His humor and the clarity of his writing vividly portray the living conditions in mid-century Paris.

In a city where revolutions have become as periodical and necessary as measles, chicken-pox, and the whooping-cough to childhood, this species of architectural communism is very far from being a social one. No one knows his neighbor. There is no door-plate on the several landings, to satisfy curiosity as to who is to be found within. Somehow or other, the occupants never seem to meet on the common stairway. Of the seven families beside my own that occupied No. — of Rue de Foix six months, I knew nothing except that one was English, and another Russian. I could not have distinguished a single member of them all from a casual visitor. It is said that two friends lived for a year in the same house without being aware of the fact, until they accidentally met in the street, and inquired each other’s address.

The apartments usually taken by strangers, for limited periods, are let furnished with every necessary for housekeeping, except linen and silver, which are hired separately. Inventories are taken on entering and leaving; the lodger being responsible for all damage, other than ordinary wear and tear. These inventories embrace a list of existing damages, including grease and other spots on carpets, table-cloths, cracks or fractures in the glass or porcelain, all minutely detailed, as well as injuries to the furniture, &c. If any are added, they are to be paid for according to the tariff of the landlord, which is not of the most liberal character.

French kitchens are more like a ship’s caboose in size, than the domains of an American cook. What room there is, is mainly occupied by numerous little grates, raised upon a brick platform, and adapted in size to the various copper, “casseroles,” or saucepans, so necessary for the preparation of the indispensable “entremets,” of French cookery. A Yankee cook would be as much at a loss in one of these kitchens, as she would over a locomotive. One half of the ingenuities of our American furnishing warehouses would be equally as inexplicable to a French housekeeper. A good broom is not to be found in Paris. Carpets have been introduced into the apartments rented to English and Americans, but the French make but comparatively little use of them, preferring the waxed oak floors, which are cooler and cleaner, but require no little care, at first, for a stranger to preserve his equilibrium. The French use much less fuel than we, warming themselves more by extra clothing and foot-muffs, than by fires.

The search for apartments, which to a novice is a matter of amusement, soon becomes a fatiguing and embarrassing employment. He is ushered without ceremony into any which are taken for a short time, without regard to the convenience of the occupiers; led through disordered bedrooms, unarranged cabinets, and ushered into all the privacy of family matters, lucky for his and their modesty, if among the scattered articles of toilet, he does not pounce upon some fair one in matitutinal dishabille. At first, I hesitated upon these domestic thresholds, but the unceremonious “Enter, Sir,” soon convinced me that the right of the landlord to exhibit his apartments was superior to any considerations of delicacy. It was amusing to contrast the coolness and indifference with which French tenants underwent this scrutiny, often saying a word in favor of the lodgings or landlord, and always frankly courteous; whereas, with English or Americans, one was evidently looked upon as an intruder into their temporary castles, from room to room of which the ladies — like quails seeking cover — dodged about, to avoid meeting a man more frightened than they were themselves. Investigations in the unoccupied apartments are of course pursued under more favorable auspices. But, to believe the assiduous porters, there was not one that had a single fault, or wanted a single comfort, or even luxury. All of any pretensions had just been vacated by Russian princesses, or English “milords.” One proprietor, after a pompous eulogium on the merits of a spacious apartment, whose faded gilt furniture and tawdry splendor, seemed to have descended untouched and almost undusted, from the days of Louis XV., said, as a climax, “The Princess has just been to look at them, and was perfectly charmed; she wished to take them at once.” “Pray why did you not secure so noble a tenant?” ” Because she could not deposit the-required security for rent,” was the reply. Having just seen in the paper the arrest by the police of a Greek prince, for forgery, I came to the conclusion that the title “prince” was no better security for contracts or morals in Europe, than “colonel,” in the United States.

After ascending and descending, in the course of a month, perhaps a thousand pair of slippery stairs, and repeating the same questions, the lodging hunter growing desperate, affixes his signature to a paper, promising to pay from 100 f. to 1200 f. per month, in advance. In consideration of this sum, he finds himself, in one case out of two, in the possession of an apartment, in the inventory of which no mention had been made of smoky chimneys, and various facilities for the circulation of cold air, or odors which savor not of Araby the Blest, but which have now become his heritage for the period stipulated in the contract.

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Parisian house, January 1st, 1843

Parisian house, January 1st, 1845 – Click Ctrl+ to enlarge

 

The following text was written by James Jackson Jarves (1818–1888). This American newspaper editor and art critic visited Paris in the early 1850’s and published his impressions in Parisian Sights and French Principles, seen through American spectacles (1852). His humor and the clarity of his writing vividly portray the living conditions in mid-century Paris.

The different manner, in which the Anglo-American and the Gaul build their family nests, is pointedly brought home to the former the night of his arrival at Paris. We live in perpendicular strata; they in horizontal. Our houses stand side by side, each like a tub on its own bottom. Theirs, so far as they relate to families, are spread one upon the other, like a pile of gingerbread. With the exception of the principal hotels, and a few recently constructed in the English mode, Parisian houses are arranged after the following fashion. In general, they form a hollow square, allowing a court-yard of sufficient size for a carriage to turn. This shape admits of two ranges of apartments, equivalent in accommodations to houses with us; the one facing the street, the other the court-yard, the kitchen and other conveniences being the two connecting arms. Houses thus constructed accommodate two families on each floor, and are from five to nine stories high. The ground floor is devoted to shops, stables, and he porter’s quarters. It is entered by a huge “porte cochère,” which is always guarded by the family of the concierge, who acts as agent for the proprietors in letting their apartments, and watches all the outgoings and incomings of the mansion. Each range has its wide circular staircase for the gentry, leading as high up as what was once considered the only abode of genius, and another — small, dark, and narrow, like the worm of a ram rod — for the use of domestics. The porter must be on the ” qui vive” at all hours of the twenty-four, to slip back the bolt of the outer door, by means of a string connecting with his office, upon the warning ring or cry, ” Le cordon, s’il vous plait.” Those who enter after midnight, bestow a trifling gratuity upon this Argus, to compensate him for his disturbed slumbers. He replies to all questions relating to his charge, pays postages, receives and distributes all letters and parcels that have owners within his domain, uses your fuel as if it were his own, and is always ready to do the amiable — for a consideration. The floor above the entrance is called the “entresol,” being, as its name indicates, between sun and earth, and it is generally inaccessible to the former, at any season of the year, except in the widest streets or avenues. Being low, it rents low, compared with the floor above, which forms the apartment Number 1, in height, finish, and decoration, and is, consequently, much the dearest. They then progressively decline in price each story, and also in quality, until they terminate under the roof in a series of little chambers, for the servants of the mansion, two or more of these rooms belonging to each apartment. The apartments themselves are of every variety and size, to meet the wants of the diversified positions of the inhabitants of this metropolis. Some are of sufficient grandeur and sumptuousness to rival the interior of the more pretending hotels, while others dwindle to the means of the most economical bachelor or money-saving grisette.

This mode of building has some prominent advantages over ours. Externally the houses are more uniform, of greater size, and being built of a soft gray sandstone, admit of more architectural ornament. They economize also in ground-room and material, consequently in rent. All the rooms of a family being only one floor, much of that stair work of which our ladies complain, is saved. In enumerating these advantages, I have enumerated all, unless it may be considered one to be able to bring together the different branches of a family under one roof. Their disadvantages are more palpable. Each floor having its separate kitchen and drains, contributes its quota to an assemblage of odors, based upon the fragrance of shops or stables beneath, which, in spite of locks and bolts, penetrate with an impartial distribution into every room. This nuisance is not always perceptible, but it is a daily liability; and the plain truth is, that there are few of these gregarious habitations that do not give offense to sensitive nostrils more than once during every twenty-four hours. This fact has doubtless some relation to the enormous consumption of perfumery, which, not infrequently in the street, overpowers all other smells, as the scented individual goes by. Again, no amount of cleanliness in one story can always be proof against a want of neatness in the next. If one family cooks onions, the neighbors above and below are brought into unmistakable cognizance of the fact. If there be a frolic overhead, the family beneath participate in the noise, without the fun.

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The-Greater-Journey“When good Americans die, they go to Paris,” Oscar Wilde said. The old love affair between Americans and the City of Lights seems to go on and on.  Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin were among the early birds, but the popularity of Paris as a destination peaked in the second half of the 19th century when sea travel became faster and more comfortable. By 1870, twenty thousand Americans settled in Paris for a prolonged sojourn or made the city a permanent home. Thousands more passed through each year as tourists and gathered knowledge of how things were done the French way – for better or worse.

The Greater Journey by David McCullough paints in detail this great experience of Americans in Paris and its profound influence on the development of American art and sciences. The book is eminently readable and enjoyable. McCullough achieved a panoramic view on the different personalities moving in different circles yet connected through the same goal: to learn and absorb new ideas. The Greater Journey reads like Who is Who in American art, science, medicine and technology. No other book offers such a clear understanding of the dynamics in 19th century Paris.

paris i love youAre Americans still in love with Paris? They are, to be sure, until they actually go there to live. Like their ancestors, many publish books about their experience. Some maintain their enthusiasm, at least in their writing, but others question the benefits of living in today’s Paris. These past two hundred years, America has made a giant progress in art and sciences and now she can teach rather than to be taught. Under these circumstances, how does the beauty and excitement of Paris weigh in the balance with its various inconveniences? Is it worth it?

Rosecrans Baldwin answers this question in his book Paris, I Love You but You’re Bringing me Down. His one-year chronicle of functioning in an upscale advertising agency shows the bumpy road an American has to travel while working and living in Paris.  Just trying to figure out the kissing protocol in the office is a headache: who of your co-workers do you greet with kisses and who do you not?  (They won’t tell you.) This, and other tricky rules, as well  as the city services interruptions, and a lot of red tape in daily life, quietly nibble at your enthusiasm until there is little left. Paris I Love you but… contains many deep insights served with gentle humor.

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Albert Marquet: Paris under Snow

The idea for this post came naturally while I was standing at the window observing the ice crystals suspended in the air outside. It’s -30° Celsius (-22°F for the uninitiated) here in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies, but with the basement furnace humming and a sturdy glass of spiced wine steaming next to my laptop, life is pretty good – definitely better than it was for the majority of Parisians in the 19th century. What was winter like in Paris then? An American traveller left this account in 1854:

“The summer and autumn are the seasons one should spend in Paris, to see it in its full glory. The people of Paris live out-of-doors, and to see them in the winter, is not to know them thoroughly. The summer weather is unlike that of London. The air is pure, the sky serene, and the whole city is full of gardens and promenades. The little out-of-door theaters reap harvests of money–the tricksters, the conjurors, the street fiddlers, and all sorts of men who get their subsistence by furnishing the people with cheap amusements, are in high spirits, for in these seasons they can drive a fine business. Not so in the winter. Then they are obliged either to wander over the half-deserted places, gathering here and there a sou, or shut themselves up in their garret or cellar apartments, and live upon their summer gains.

To the stranger who must be economical, Paris in the winter is not to be desired, for fuel is enormously high in that city. A bit of wood is worth so much cash, and a log which in America would be thrown away, would there be worth a little fortune to a poor wood-dealer. Fuel is exceedingly dear in Paris, and the buildings are not made for in-door comfort. If they were as warmly made as the houses of New York, they would be comfortable in winter, but such not being the case, and fuel being costly, comfort in private apartments is rarely to be had by any but the rich. Coal is not used to any great extent, though charcoal is burned in small quantities, but wood is the fuel principally used. It is sold in small packages, and is principally brought up from the distant provinces by the canals. The amount of wood required to make what a Frenchman would call a glowing fire, would astonish an American. A half a dozen sticks, not much larger or longer than his fingers, laid crosswise in a little hearth, is sufficient for a man’s chamber. A log which one of our western farmers would think nothing of consuming in a winter’s evening, would bring quite a handsome sum in Paris on any winter day. The truth is, the economical traveler had better not spend his winter in Paris, for comfort at that time costs money. The houses admit such volumes of cold air, the windows are so loose and the doors such wretched contrivances, and that, too, in the best of French cities, that the stranger sighs for the comforts of home. Nowhere in the world is so much taste displayed as in Paris, in the furnishing of apartments. This is known as far as Paris is, but it is always the outside appearance which is attended to, and nothing more. It is like the Parisian dandy who wears a fine coat, hat, and false bosom, but has no shirt. The homes of Paris are got up, many of them at least, upon this principle. The rooms are elegantly furnished, and in pleasant weather are indeed very pleasant to abide in, but let a cold day come, and they are as uncomfortable as can be, and the ten thousand conveniences which a New York or London household would think it impossible to be without, are wanting.”

 Bartlett, David W., Paris: With Pen and Pencil, Its People and Literature, Its Life and Business, New York, 1854

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(From Paris Partout! A guide for the English and American Traveller in 1869 or How to see PARIS for 5 guineas)

The Grand Magazins du Louvre

Purchases

The visitor should note that Paris is the most expensive city in Europe. English sovereigns and half-sovereigns are generally accepted in lieu of native currency.

Much to be marveled at are the grands magasins or magasins de nouveautés, huge emporia divided into several floors and departments. These stores offer a wide range of dry goods, drapery, haberdashery, clothing, and furnishing. They are rigorously managed and quite respectable. Among smaller shops, American citizens may like to note the pharmacist Swann, rue Castiglione, by appointment to the American Embassy and the American Cracker Manufactory, Boulevard Malesherbes. Novel gifts ‘for the folk back home’ may be found at the establishment of M. Paul Morin, Boulevard Poissonière, whose jewellery is forged in that wonderful new metal, aluminium, which so impressed the Emperor at the recent International Exhibition that he commanded a dinner service made of the same. The Maison Violet, newly opened on the rue Scribe, occupies a vast insular salon, ornamented with frescoes and a superb chandelier of one hundred jets. The tone is essentially aristocratic. Inner boudoirs sell the paraphernalia of the toilette, notably the house’s own exclusive ‘Reine des Abeilles’, or Queen Bee, cosmetic preparations, by appointment to the Empress.

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Le Grand Hotel du Louvre

(From Paris Partout! A guide for the English and American Traveller in 1869 or How to see PARIS for 5 guineas)

Hotels and Accommodations

Paris contains some 4,000 hotels and lodging houses, many of them bearing in their names the evidence of the entente cordiale - hence the Hotels Chatnam, Bristol, Windsor, Manchester, Brighton, Liverpool, Westminster, Dover, Bedford, Canterbury, Richmond, Lancaster, Clarendon, Nelson, Byron, Walter Scott, Prince Regent and several Albions, Londres, Victorias, Iles Britanniques, and Angleterres. Those on an expansive budget should note:

Grand Hôtel, Boulevard des Capucines. A new hotel, financed by the Jewish bankers Pereire, of great show and size (not to be confused with its neighbouring rival, the Grand Hotel du Louvre against which it has been wrangling a costly and bitter legal suit). Seven hundred rooms, for which one can expect to pay 20 francs per diem. For all the splendour of its public quarters, designed by M. Charles Garnier, do not recon on quiet, prompt attendance. There are few private w.c.s and many damp, dark corridors. More commodious to traveling agents for commercial houses than families seeking cheer and respectability. A lifting machine, operated by hydraulic press, raises clients to their floor, thus circumventing the fatigue of staircases. Electric bells operate throughout.

Hôtel Meurice, rue de Rivoli. Much patronized by visiting royalty and aristocracy. Our intelligence has it, however, that standards in this establishment have fallen since it passed out of private hands and into those of a joint stock enterprise, the Paris Hotel Company.

Hôtel de Calais, rue Neuve des Capucines. Frequented by the elite of American society. American breakfasts served (buckwheat cakes, fishballs &c.). Close to the American banking house.

Visitors intending to stay for longer periods should not hesitate to take a furnished apartment: a reliable agent can be found in A. Webb, 220 rue de Rivoli, tea dealer and wine and brandy merchant. Many English, Americans and Russians of more than moderate means prefer the leafy residential stretch of the Champs Elysées.

Next: Restaurants and Cafés

 

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From Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain

Text written in 1867 on the occasion of the Exposition Universelle

 

***

Presently there was a sound of distant music; in another minute a pillar of dust came moving slowly toward us; a moment more and then, with colors flying and a grand crash of military music, a gallant array of cavalrymen emerged from the dust and came down the street on a gentle trot.  After them came a long line of artillery; then more cavalry, in splendid uniforms; and then their imperial majesties Napoleon III and Abdul Aziz.  The vast concourse of people swung their hats and shouted–the windows and housetops in the wide vicinity burst into a snowstorm of waving handkerchiefs, and the wavers of the same mingled their cheers with those of the masses below. It was a stirring spectacle.

But the two central figures claimed all my attention.  Was ever such a contrast set up before a multitude till then?  Napoleon in military uniform–a long-bodied, short-legged man, fiercely moustached, old, wrinkled, with eyes half closed, and such a deep, crafty, scheming expression about them!–Napoleon, bowing ever so gently to the loud plaudits, and watching everything and everybody with his cat eyes from under his depressed hat brim, as if to discover any sign that those cheers were not heartfelt and cordial. Abdul Aziz, absolute lord of the Ottoman empire–clad in dark green. European clothes, almost without ornament or insignia of rank; a red Turkish fez on his head; a short, stout, dark man, black-bearded, black-eyed, stupid, unprepossessing–a man whose whole appearance somehow suggested that if he only had a cleaver in his hand and a white apron on, one would not be at all surprised to hear him say: “A mutton roast today, or will you have a nice porterhouse steak?” Napoleon III, the representative of the highest modern civilization, progress, and refinement; Abdul-Aziz, the representative of a people by nature and training filthy, brutish, ignorant, unprogressive, superstitious–and a government whose Three Graces are Tyranny, Rapacity, Blood. 

 Here in brilliant Paris, under this majestic Arch of Triumph, the First Century greets the Nineteenth! NAPOLEON III., Emperor of France!  Surrounded by shouting thousands, by military pomp, by the splendors of his capital city, and companioned by kings and princes–this is the man who was sneered at and reviled and called Bastard–yet who was dreaming of a crown and an empire all the while; who was driven into exile–but carried his dreams with him; who associated with the common herd in America and ran foot races for a wager–but still sat upon a throne in fancy; who braved every danger to go to his dying mother–and grieved that she could not be spared to see him cast aside his plebeian vestments for the purple of royalty; who kept his faithful watch and walked his weary beat a common policeman of  London–but dreamed the while of a coming night when he should tread the long-drawn corridors of the Tuileries; who made the miserable fiasco of Strasbourg; saw his poor, shabby eagle, forgetful of its lesson, refuse to perch upon his shoulder; delivered his carefully prepared, sententious burst of eloquence upon unsympathetic ears; found himself a prisoner, the butt of small wits, a mark for the pitiless ridicule of all the world–yet went on dreaming of coronations and splendid pageants as before; who lay a forgotten captive in the dungeons of Ham–and still schemed and planned and pondered over future glory and future power; President of France at last! a coup d’etat, and surrounded by applauding armies, welcomed by the thunders of cannon, he mounts a throne and waves before an astounded world the sceptre of a mighty empire!  Who talks of the marvels of fiction?  Who speaks of the wonders of romance?  Who prates of the tame achievements of Aladdin and the Magii of Arabia?

ABDUL-AZIZ, Sultan of Turkey, Lord of the Ottoman Empire!  Born to a throne; weak, stupid, ignorant, almost, as his meanest slave; chief of a vast royalty, yet the puppet of his Premier and the obedient child of a tyrannical mother; a man who sits upon a throne–the beck of whose finger moves navies and armies–who holds in his hands the power of life and death over millions–yet who sleeps, sleeps, eats, eats, idles with his  eight hundred concubines, and when he is surfeited with eating and sleeping and idling, and would rouse up and take the reins of government and threaten to be a sultan, is charmed from his purpose by wary Fuad Pacha with a pretty plan for a new palace or a new ship–charmed away with a new toy, like any other restless child; a man who sees his people robbed and oppressed by soulless tax-gatherers, but speaks no word to save them; who believes in gnomes and genii and the wild fables of The Arabian Nights, but has small regard for the mighty magicians of to-day, and is nervous in the presence of their mysterious railroads and steamboats and telegraphs; who would see undone in Egypt all that great Mehemet Ali achieved, and would prefer rather to forget than emulate him; a man who found his great empire a blot upon the earth–a degraded, poverty-stricken, miserable, infamous agglomeration of ignorance, crime, and brutality–and will idle away the allotted days of his trivial life and then pass to the dust and the worms and leave it so!

 Napoleon has augmented the commercial prosperity of France in ten years to such a degree that figures can hardly compute it.  He has rebuilt Paris and has partly rebuilt every city in the state.  He condemns a whole street at a time, assesses the damages, pays them, and rebuilds superbly.  Then speculators buy up the ground and sell, but the original owner is given the first choice by the government at a stated price before the speculator is permitted to purchase.  But above all things, he has taken the sole control of the empire of France into his hands and made it a tolerably free land–for people who will not attempt to go too far in meddling with government affairs.  No country offers greater security to life and property than France, and one has all the freedom he wants, but no license–no license to interfere with anybody or make anyone uncomfortable. As for the Sultan, one could set a trap anywhere and catch a dozen abler men in a night.

The bands struck up, and the brilliant adventurer, Napoleon III., the genius of Energy, Persistence, Enterprise; and the feeble Abdul-Aziz, the genius of Ignorance, Bigotry, and Indolence, prepared for the Forward–March! We saw the splendid review, we saw the white-moustached old Crimean soldier, Canrobert, Marshal of France, we saw–well, we saw everything, and then we went home satisfied.

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