Sivut kuvina


base and up the acclivity of a steep hill, on which stands the high town, inclosed by ramparts, planted with trees, and forming an agreeable promenade, whence extensive views may be obtained of the surrounding country. The population amounts to thirty thousand; many rentiers reside in the high town, whilst the inhabitants of the lower town are for the most part engaged in commercial and professional avocations, are lodginghouse keepers, or are connected with the port.

The environs are agreeable, and the air is light and bracing; but the winter is generally severe, on account of the northern aspect and unsheltered position of the town, and cold winds and storms are of frequent occurrence. Boulogne is, however, on the whole, a healthy place of residence, and generally agrees well with children, though it would not be an advisable place for delicate persons, or for those who 66 servile to skyey influences.” The resident English population usually averages, in peaceful times, between three and four thousand, many being induced to select it for an abode on account of its neighbourhood to England, its comparative cheapness, and the facilities for education. There are also several officers on half-pay, and some whose means of existence are more problematical. The superior class of Boulognese are generally courteous in their demeanour; the lower orders are for the most part sober, good-tempered, though at times emportés, fond of gaiety and dancing, and civil to strangers; the women are strong, and work hard. Boulogne possesses a tolerable museum and reading-room, where the English papers are daily received. The most usual lounge is on the port and jetty, to watch the arrival and


departure of the packets; and at the adjoining seabathing establishment, Versial.

Nothing is lost, as regards scenery, in journeying by railroad to Paris, the country being, for the most part, a continued succession of hill and dale; and, though generally productive in corn, is but scantily wooded, and offers but little to interest the traveller. The few chateaux seen on the roadside are most of them formal looking and cheerless, and the absence of detached cottages is characteristic of the more gregarious habits of the people. The pleasures of rural life, and the country-house society, so universal in England, are but little known or appreciated ; field sports being comparatively little followed in France, landed proprietors, consequently, seldom reside on their estates for more than a few weeks in the year, the great majority preferring the attractions of the capital, the larger provincial towns, or the watering-places. The French peasantry are generally robust, and more sober than the English, living principally upon bread, vegetables, milk, and bad wine, and eating meat only once or twice in the week; the villages and hamlets in which they congregate, though improved in appearance of late years, look any thing but attractive.

The dull town of Abbeville, encircled by walls, has an antiquated aspect, and contains nothing to interest the passing traveller but its fine cathedral. Amiens is a livelier town, and more tolerable as a place of residence its cathedral is one of the finest in France. Beauvais, which lies at some little distance from the line, in an agreeable part of the country, has a cheerful aspect. Its cathedral deserves a visit, as does also the tapestry manufactory. At St. Denis the fine old cathedral, with the royal tombs in its vaults, will be viewed with interest.

Few cities stood in greater need of improvement than Paris, some years ago, and there are perhaps none where so much has been effected in so comparatively short a period. The new quarters which have arisen in various directions; the widening of numerous streets, with the addition of foot-pavements; and the greater cleanliness both in and out of doors, as well as the improved accommodation generally throughout France, render the meaning of the word comfort (which the language has adopted) now better understood. The speedy completion of several new edifices and public works is in great measure owing to the ex-King, who, it is said, contributed largely to the embellishment of the capital.

Standing near the obelisk, in the Place de la Concorde, the stranger may enjoy a coup-dæil unique in its kind. The splendid appearance of the Place, and of its two fountains, the view of the bridge and Chamber of Deputies, of the beautiful newly-erected façade of La Madeleine, of the gardens and palace of the Tuileries, and of the magnificent arch of Neuilly, seen through the vista of the Champs Elysées, will leave an indelible impression upon the memory. Another view, scarcely to be equalled in Europe, may be obtained from either of the bridges opposite the Tuileries. The extent of this palace and the Louvre (near half a mile), the spacious quays teeming with life, the light cheerful aspect of the houses, the two branches of the river passing between the Pont Neuf, and having enclosed the Ile de la Cité, uniting into one broad stream, with the venerable towers of Notre Dame rising high above the surrounding buildings, form an ensemble which could hardly fail to attract the attention of the most indifferent spectator. The visiter will also be highly gratified by the panorama of the city displayed from the summit of Notre Dame, or of the arch of Neuilly, the clearness of the atmosphere on a fine day enabling him to see the whole at a glance.

If the city have undergone great changes within the last twenty years, still greater has taken place in the demeanour and character of its inhabitants. Paris, and indeed France in general, could not, even before the recent change from a monarchy to a republic, have been termed with propriety the

Gay, sprightly land of mirth and social ease,
Pleased with itself, whom all the world can please;"

for instead of the polite, light-hearted people of former days, one more frequently met with serious, anxious, business-like countenances; vivacity had given place to a sedate demeanour and to comparative taciturnity, and brusquerie was not unfrequently witnessed in public places.* The love of self appeared in a more object of the great majority of all classes; and there are few strangers but have had to complain of the greater disposition to take advantage on the part of the tradespeople, and others with whom they were brought into contact. The women were not free from this reproach, being often more exigeantes than the men. Titles of nobility being no longer hereditary, were but little estimated, wealth being the idol to which most bowed. Among the upper classes the talent of conversation is possessed in a high degree, and egotism is at least more veiled by the exterior forms of politeness; the essence, however, which consists not merely in a courteous demeanour, but in doing civil and kind acts without interested motives, even though it may be at some personal inconvenience, is much more rare at the present day. The great majority, especially of the upper class of Parisians, has been, in fact, educated more with reference to society than to domestic life, if the thronged réunions and liaisons de salon can be called society, where there is generally little else than a

a prominent light, the acquisition of money being the

* “My first impression of the French character,” says Mr. Matthews, "is, that it must be greatly changed from that gay and lively frivolity of which we used to hear so much, My fellow-passengers are serious and reserved; each man seems to suspect his neighbour; and at the tables d'hôte, where I have dined and supped during my route, the company could not have been more silent and sombre if the scene had been laid in England in the month of November.”Diary of an Invalid.

“ Commerce extérieur, union sans penchant,

Que fait naître l'usage et non le sentiment;" : Where

“L'esprit vole toujours sur la superficie,

Et le cæur ne se voit jamais de la partie.” This desire of shining, and appearing to advantage in the world, leads the French (and foreigners in general) to cultivate the art of pleasing more than the English, though the exercise of the said art is too frequently restricted to society, without being carried into the family circle. Thus, the Frenchman generally possesses a greater variety of information, and can con

[ocr errors]
« EdellinenJatka »