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left is Voltaire's. It is an elegant piece of work, but likewise injured much. You extend your steps through long and solitary arches, which give a sepulchral echo to every movement, and reflect the light of your torch into lateral recesses, where are the monuments of the dead, until you terminate your gloomy walk in a dark apartment where stands a tall white statue of— Voltaire, like a spectre. His gaunt and meagre aspect, seen in the torchlight down among these dreary pillars, is not a very incorrect personification of the character of the man.
We have thus far only glanced at some of the interesting objects in the topography of Paris. There are hundreds of others equally interesting, if not equally known by transatlantic readers of “First Impressions,” &c. There is her Pere la chaise, with its flowered tombs, and sepulchre of Abelard and Heloise ; her rich libraries; the Royal Library, with its 720,000 books, 80,000 manuscripts, 100,000 medals in gold, silver, and bronze, and 1,200,000 engravings and maps; the Mazarine Library, with its 90,000 volumes and 3,437 manuscripts ; the Library of the Arsenal, with its 175,000 volumes and 6,000 manuscripts; the Library of St. Genevieve, containing 160,000 volumes and 3,500 manuscripts, with many others, all open to gratuitous admission, and occupying buildings which ornament the city. Besides these places of interest are her numerous museums, open at stated times each week for the public; and then come her splendid churches, each of which is more a temple of the arts than of religion; her colleges, with their eloquent and gratuitous lectures, and their libraries and cabinets; her fountains, (for pumps she has not, but supplies her citizens with water from monuments,) some of which are magnificent and costly; and her triumphal arches, scattered in various parts of the city. A life could be spent in the examination of its curiosities and splendors. The philosopher, the student, the antiquarian, the bibliomaniac, and the observer of human character, may all find in Paris, as in a boundless museum, exhaustless resources for their several tastes; and these resources accessible to all gratuitously.
From this bird's-eye view of the city, let us turn our contemplations to the more important consideration of the condition of its community.
The French are the most social, but the least domestic, of all people. The limits of a domestic circle are too confined for a Frenchman's exuberant feelings. No people live less at home. The dwelling house is understood to be little more than a domicil to sleep in. The private houses are cold and comfortless in their construction, very high, and consisting of numerous apartments, which are shared, most generally, among a number of families. External ornament is almost entirely neglected. There is little of that interior comfort and neatness which form the charm of even the cottage of the English or American peasant. These circumstances, no doubt, affect the domestic tastes of the people. The cafés and restaurants are not merely accommodations for the 50,000 English and American visiters in Paris, but have, to no small extent, become the resort of French citizens and their families, and thus supersede one of the best occasions of domestic intercourse and converse—the family table. There are 2,000 scattered through the metropolis. They are fitted up with the most tasteful decorations of gilt, painting, marble tables, and plate; and
the restaurants are furnished with a number and variety of luxuries truly astonishing. Those in the Palais Royale are equal to the banqueting halls of kings. In these splendid apartments the Pa. risian can eat his dinner as magnificently as his monarch, and pay about half as much for it as an American stage-coach passenger must pay for his hastily eaten meal on the highway. With such appeals, alike to his vanity and voluptuousness, to pause and consult domestic feelings would be the last act of his life. The hotels of Paris are furnished only with apartments for lodging; and it is universally expected that the traveller will take his meals at the cafés and restaurants. There are two or three English hotels, where meals are provided in the house; but a table d'hote is so rare a provision that it is thought proper to advertise it on the card of the establishment. Of the 47,000 students in Paris, but few do more than sleep and study at home; and there are numerous and cheap cafés and restaurants in their own region of the city, which may be found crowded every day, from 8 to 10 in the morning, and from 3 to 6 in the afternoon. The same anti-domestic habits prevail among the literary and professional men and clerks, and nearly all single men.
While the habits of life among the French tend thus to alienate them from their homes, their recreations have still more fatally the same tendency. Relaxation and pleasure are the chief elements of a Frenchman's existence. Every day must afford its proportion of enjoyment; he leaves his bed usually between the hours of 8 and 10, A. M. ; goes immediately to the cafés, where he spends half an hour in sipping a cup of coffee, eating a roll of bread, and scanning a newspaper. His business occupies him until 3 or 4, P. M., when he visits the restaurant, eats a sumptuous dinner, and drinks his wine; after which he is found perambulating on the Boulevards, or through the arcades of the Palais Royale, or in the arbored walks of the Jardin des Tuileries. In the evening he never fails, unless sick, to visit the theatre or ball, where he tarries until after midnight, and then, but seldom till then, goes to his home. But we have said that the French, while they are the least domestic, are the most social people in the world. The description which we have just given of a Frenchman's life illustrates the latter as well as the former of these assertions. He must eat his meals with the eclat of a public resort, rather than in the tranquil circle of his family. His hours of relaxation can find no sweetness in the quiet repose of home, but must be spent in the gay excitement of the public gardens, the Boulevards, the ball room, or the theatre. From 3 o'clock, P. M., until midnight, the Boulevards, the Palais Royale, and the gardens of the Tuileries are thronged. At the theatres are congregated every night 20,000 spectators, while the suburbs of the city are accommodated, in every direction, with extensive gardens, adorned with shrubbery and walks, and furnished with a café, an orchestra box, with an enclosure on the sward for dancing, and an adjacent building for unhallowed purposes; and here the young men of the city and their grisettes spend the chief of the night. The metropolis is a vortex of such excitements, and its population is kept for ever in the whirl of pleasures. It is a city of palaces and gardens, of promenades, theatres, bagnios, and eating houses. Its thousands of population reel, generation after
generation, through a giddy round of dissipated existence to the grave—too intoxicated with the gayety of the moment to admit a solemn thought of the past or the future, of death, or of God. The tomb swallows them up, but no one lays it to heart; and onward moves the succeeding throng through the same decorated paths which “take hold on hell.” The city contains about 200 places of public amusement, and pays about a third more annually for its fêtes than for its religion.
This thirst for excitement and amusement, this anti-domestic gregariousness, is, as might be supposed, the bane of private and domestic virtue. The sober restraints of religious principle are considered fanaticism; things are ludicrous in proportion as they are grave. The habits of well-regulated domestic intercourse are too mechanical for a Frenchman's enthusiastic temperament. Solitude and tranquillity, in which the mind can turn in upon itself, he would call ennui; it would disclose the vacancy of a soul which, whatever may be its intellectual endowments, has no definite moral sentiments by which to stay itself; no hopes or opinions on which; in abstraction from the whirl of sensible life, it can repose; no spiritual elevation from which it can catch a refreshing foresight of its futurity. And yet, with all this exuberant enthusiasm for amusement, there appears to be little actual enjoyment. Indeed it might be, perhaps, better construed as an indication of misery than happiness—an attempt, by exciting recreations, to dissipate the gloom which the absence of all moral support to the mind has producedi What do the suicides and the mania of the city certify on this point? The levity of the French spirit is proverbial; but, perhaps, the world has got its impressions respecting it more from the public amusements of the people—the reliefs of a restless and gloomy temperament—than from a knowledge of the French mind. These frequent recreations may be the expedients of discontent, more than of a happy temperament—the indication of a want of enjoyment, rather than of enjoyment itself. An able author,* nearly 20 years ago, said, “The more I see of France and Frenchmen, the more I am struck with the serious and sombre complexion of their manners, so different from the pictures of other times.” No traveller who has brought the usual impressions of foreigners with him, can escape disappointment in this respect. The gay frivolity and gallantry of the days of Louis XIV. have passed away, at least from the minds of the people, if not from their public amusements. A more considerate and practical taste is developing itself in their literature; the public pulse begins to throb less violently, but more regularly and healthfully. A certain French writer remarks, that “the tastes of the French have lost much of their frivolity. Grave studies have gained-philosophical literature-the study of jurisprudence and laws—the meditation of history—the observation and comparison of manners and customs—the productions of art and of nature which characterize contemporary nations and the countries which they inhabit. These are the studies which engage the attention of the French nation.” This same writer proves, by statistics, that the kingdom of France, reduced to its ancient limits, published double the number of books that the empire did at the
Diary of an Invalid. Vol. IX.-April, 1838.
period of its greatest extent; and that, while in every department of literature there has been some increase, the increase is much greater in those works, the design of which is to improve the mind, than in those which design only to amuse it. History, voyages, biographies, natural sciences, have assumed the first rank; and imaginative literature has been reduced to the second. This change of the public taste may be ascribed to the change of political institutions, which, from their more popular character, interest the popular attention, and have attracted it away from the carelessness of amusements to graver considerations.
The domestic habits which we have described, exert, as might be predicted, an appalling influence on all the virtues and duties of relative life. Licentiousness is the predominant vice among the French; and its criminal tendencies are the most numerous in their legal calendar. Marriages are generally much later in life than among us, and are superseded, for the earlier years, and not unfrequently during life, by temporary and unsanctioned relations, which continue during mutual good will, and are sometimes accompanied with a tolerable degree of fidelity. The immense female population, scattered in every street of Paris, who live in these liaisons, are not considered among the prostitutes of the town, but class as respectable women, and no thought of indecorum, much less of immorality, attaches to their character. Nearly all the young men of the city—“the young bankers, the young lawyers, the young stock-brokers, live, until they are rich enough to marry, in some such connection as this."* Indeed this demoralizing intercourse, sapping as it does the very foundations of social life, extends through all ranks of society. It is the custom of the community. It is a new grade of life, intermediate between the single and married states, and is as respectable, if not as dignified, as either. The thousands of students, speaking in general, have their "grisettes." They frequently reside in the same lodgings. Many of the little attentions of domestic life exist between them during the continuance of the relation, and an apparently faithful affection is maintained; but a momentary disagreement or caprice may dissolve it. In the gardens of the Louxembourg, the quarter of the students, they are seen every evening thronging the avenues, and no expression of conscious impropriety flits for a moment across the brow of either. The lower classes have their « mariages de St. Jacques," corresponding with the above. Thousands reside thus together, parting when they feel disposed, but most generally continuing together at least until the expiration of their leases. The opinions of their neighbors and friends respect them none the less, and the anxieties of a family are relieved by the hospitals “des enfans trovés"—institutions which take away the last restraint from licentiousness in a country like France, where every other motive which could impose a check upon it, save that of interest, is extinct. The annual number of illegitimate children in France is nearly 70,000. The department which includes the metropolis, affords one thirty-second of the whole population, and yet produces the amazing disproportion of one-sixth of the illegitimate children. The proportion of illegitimate to legitimate births in the depart
* Bulwer's France.
ment of the Seine, is as one to two, “and add to this,” says an able writer, “ the number born in marriage and illegitimately begotten !" One-third of the whole population of Paris would actually be ille. gitimate, according to official statistics, if it were not for the fact that one out of three of the unfortunate foundlings, in the hopitals des enfans trovés, die before they reach their third year.
The indications of licentiousness stare the traveller in the face wherever he goes, until his spirit sickens within him with disgust. Go to the Palace Gardens, and genius has impressed it in alluring delicacy on the marble statue ; enter the Museums, the pencil and the chisel have wrought it into a thousand objects of beauty and taste; stop at a picture shop, or dress-maker's window, and it meets your eye in sights the most vulgar; step into the café, or restaurant, and it is pictured on all the walls; it is the attraction on the stage at the theatre, and in all the public gardens of the suburbs. The gardens of the Tuileries, the Louxembourg, the Palais Royale, and of Versailles, are so many exhibitions of licentious statuary. The Gallery of Modern Artists, at the Louxembourg, is absolutely unfit for the presence of a lady. The Venus is the beau ideal form of the modern artists of the capital. She is found everywhere, even among the embalmed reptiles and wired bones of the Museums at the Jardin des Plants. Her statue stands on its pedestal, a personification of the public taste. But these are only the public indications of the vice perpetrated behind the veil of private life. Look at the evil in its practical details, and you will wonder that the last ties of life do not dissolve, and the laws of society give way before the prevalence of unrestrained instinct.
We have kept somewhat to statistics thus far; let us look at them farther, if we may venture more into these painful facts. Adultery is one of the most prolific sources of crime in the country. Of a hundred crimes against the person, (such as assault, murder, &c.,) it occasions 35! Seduction and concubinage produce almost as many cases of criminal examination in the courts as adultery. There is one fact connected with this subject strikingly illustrative of our present view of French morals. It is this, that the crimes resulting from adultery are not committed against the woman, but the man; not against the offender, but the offended. They are committed by the wife against the insulted husband; they are crimes consequent on her first crime. It is remarkable that, in the statistical tables of crime, out of a thousand by poisoning, murder, assignation, and incendiarism, jealousy occasions the least. Rape, according to these tables, is the most frequent of crimes, but jealousy the least incentive to crime. Take another fact, equally demonstrative of our views. It is this, that while, as above asserted, seduction and concubinage produce almost as many crimes as adultery, these crimes are chiefly against the woman; whereas, in the case of adultery, they are committed against the man. Among wives, the infidelity of the woman causes one in thirty-three of the assaults against the person; while, among mistresses, it causes one in every six. What an appalling illustration does the last fact furnish of the importance attached to the most solemn of all obliga. tions! The fidelity of a mistress is more tenaciously demanded than that of a wife! An unfaithful mistress runs the risk of six times more danger than the offending wife. But, startling as these