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List Of Contents | Contents of Saunterings, by Charles Dudley Warner
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not wonder that Walter Scott dwells so much on eating, or lets his
heroes pull at the pewter mugs so often.  Perhaps one might find a
better lunch in Paris, but he surely couldn't find this one.




PARIS IN MAY--FRENCH GIRLS--THE EMPEROR AT LONGCHAMPS

It was the first of May when we came up from Italy.  The spring grew
on us as we advanced north; vegetation seemed further along than it
was south of the Alps.  Paris was bathed in sunshine, wrapped in
delicious weather, adorned with all the delicate colors of blushing
spring.  Now the horse-chestnuts are all in bloom) and so is the
hawthorn; and in parks and gardens there are rows and alleys of
trees, with blossoms of pink and of white; patches of flowers set in
the light green grass; solid masses of gorgeous color, which fill all
the air with perfume; fountains that dance in the sunlight as if just
released from prison; and everywhere the soft suffusion of May.
Young maidens who make their first communion go into the churches in
processions of hundreds, all in white, from the flowing veil to the
satin slipper; and I see them everywhere for a week after the
ceremony, in their robes of innocence, often with bouquets of
flowers, and attended by their friends; all concerned making it a
joyful holiday, as it ought to be.  I hear, of course, with what
false ideas of life these girls are educated; how they are watched
before marriage; how the marriage is only one of arrangement, and
what liberty they eagerly seek afterwards.  I met a charming Paris
lady last winter in Italy, recently married, who said she had never
been in the Louvre in her life; never had seen any of the magnificent
pictures or world-famous statuary there, because girls were not
allowed to go there, lest they should see something that they ought
not to see.  I suppose they look with wonder at the young American
girls who march up to anything that ever was created, with undismayed
front.

Another Frenchwoman, a lady of talent and the best breeding, recently
said to a friend, in entire unconsciousness that she was saying
anything remarkable, that, when she was seventeen, her great desire
was to marry one of her uncles (a thing not very unusual with the
papal dispensation), in order to keep all the money in the family!
That was the ambition of a girl of seventeen.

I like, on these sunny days, to look into the Luxembourg Garden:
nowhere else is the eye more delighted with life and color.  In the
afternoon, especially, it is a baby-show worth going far to see.  The
avenues are full of children, whose animated play, light laughter,
and happy chatter, and pretty, picturesque dress, make a sort of
fairy grove of the garden; and all the nurses of that quarter bring
their charges there, and sit in the shade, sewing, gossiping, and
comparing the merits of the little dears.  One baby differs from
another in glory, I suppose; but I think on such days that they are
all lovely, taken in the mass, and all in sweet harmony with the
delicious atmosphere, the tender green, and the other flowers of
spring.  A baby can't do better than to spend its spring days in the
Luxembourg Garden.

There are several ways of seeing Paris besides roaming up and down
before the blazing shop-windows, and lounging by daylight or gaslight
along the crowded and gay boulevards; and one of the best is to go to
the Bois de Boulogne on a fete-day, or when the races are in
progress.  This famous wood is very disappointing at first to one who
has seen the English parks, or who remembers the noble trees and
glades and avenues of that at Munich.  To be sure, there is a lovely
little lake and a pretty artificial cascade, and the roads and walks
are good; but the trees are all saplings, and nearly all the "wood"
is a thicket of small stuff.  Yet there is green grass that one can
roll on, and there is a grove of small pines that one can sit under.
It is a pleasant place to drive toward evening; but its great
attraction is the crowd there.  All the principal avenues are lined
with chairs, and there people sit to watch the streams of carriages.

I went out to the Bois the other day, when there were races going on;
not that I went to the races, for I know nothing about them, per se,
and care less.  All running races are pretty much alike.  You see a
lean horse, neck and tail, flash by you, with a jockey in colors on
his back; and that is the whole of it.  Unless you have some money on
it, in the pool or otherwise, it is impossible to raise any
excitement.  The day I went out, the Champs Elysees, on both sides,
its whole length, was crowded with people, rows and ranks of them
sitting in chairs and on benches.  The Avenue de l'Imperatrice, from
the Arc de l'Etoile to the entrance of the Bois, was full of
promenaders; and the main avenues of the Bois, from the chief
entrance to the race-course, were lined with people, who stood or
sat, simply to see the passing show.  There could not have been less
than ten miles of spectators, in double or triple rows, who had taken
places that afternoon to watch the turnouts of fashion and rank.
These great avenues were at all times, from three till seven, filled
with vehicles; and at certain points, and late in the day, there was,
or would have been anywhere else except in Paris, a jam.  I saw a
great many splendid horses, but not so many fine liveries as one will
see on a swell-day in London.  There was one that I liked.  A
handsome carriage, with one seat, was drawn by four large and elegant
black horses, the two near horses ridden by postilions in blue and
silver,--blue roundabouts, white breeches and topboots, a round-
topped silver cap, and the hair, or wig, powdered, and showing just a
little behind.  A footman mounted behind, seated, wore the same
colors; and the whole establishment was exceedingly tonnish.

The race-track (Longchamps, as it is called), broad and beautiful
springy turf, is not different from some others, except that the
inclosed oblong space is not flat, but undulating just enough for
beauty, and so framed in by graceful woods, and looked on by chateaux
and upland forests, that I thought I had never seen a sweeter bit of
greensward.  St. Cloud overlooks it, and villas also regard it from
other heights.  The day I saw it, the horse-chestnuts were in bloom;
and there was, on the edges, a cloud of pink and white blossoms, that
gave a soft and charming appearance to the entire landscape.  The
crowd in the grounds, in front of the stands for judges, royalty, and
people who are privileged or will pay for places, was, I suppose,
much as usual,--an excited throng of young and jockey-looking men,
with a few women-gamblers in their midst, making up the pool; a pack
of carriages along the circuit of the track, with all sorts of
people, except the very good; and conspicuous the elegantly habited
daughters of sin and satin, with servants in livery, as if they had
been born to it; gentlemen and ladies strolling about, or reclining
on the sward, and a refreshment-stand in lively operation.

When the bell rang, we all cleared out from the track, and I happened
to get a position by the railing.  I was looking over to the
Pavilion, where I supposed the Emperor to be, when the man next to me
cried, "Voila!" and, looking up, two horses brushed right by my face,
of which I saw about two tails and one neck, and they were gone.
Pretty soon they came round again, and one was ahead, as is apt to be
the case; and somebody cried, "Bully for Therise!" or French to that
effect, and it was all over.  Then we rushed across to the Emperor's
Pavilion, except that I walked with all the dignitV consistent with
rapidity, and there, in the midst of his suite, sat the Man of
December, a stout, broad, and heavy-faced man as you know, but a man
who impresses one with a sense of force and purpose,--sat, as I say,
and looked at us through his narrow, half-shut eyes, till he was
satisfied that I had got his features through my glass, when he
deliberately arose and went in.

All Paris was out that day,--it is always out, by the way, when the
sun shines, and in whatever part of the city you happen to be; and it
seemed to me there was a special throng clear down to the gate of the
Tuileries, to see the Emperor and the rest of us come home.  He went
round by the Rue Rivoli, but I walked through the gardens.  The
soldiers from Africa sat by the gilded portals, as usual,--aliens,
and yet always with the port of conquerors here in Paris.  Their
nonchalant indifference and soldierly bearing always remind me of the
sort of force the Emperor has at hand to secure his throne.  I think
the blouses must look askance at these satraps of the desert.  The
single jet fountain in the basin was springing its highest,--a
quivering pillar of water to match the stone shaft of Egypt which
stands close by.  The sun illuminated it, and threw a rainbow from it
a hundred feet long, upon the white and green dome of chestnut-trees
near.  When I was farther down the avenue, I had the dancing column
of water, the obelisk, and the Arch of Triumph all in line, and the
rosy sunset beyond.




AN IMPERIAL REVIEW

The Prince and Princess of Wales came up to Paris in the beginning of
May, from Italy, Egypt, and alongshore, stayed at a hotel on the
Place Vendome, where they can get beef that is not horse, and is
rare, and beer brewed in the royal dominions, and have been
entertained with cordiality by the Emperor.  Among the spectacles
which he has shown them is one calculated to give them an idea of his
peaceful intentions,-a grand review of cavalry and artillery at the
Bois de Boulogne.  It always seems to me a curious comment upon the
state of our modern civilization,

when one prince visits another here in Europe, the first thing that
the visited does, by way of hospitality is to get out his troops, and
show his rival how easily he could "lick" him, if it came to that.
It is a little puerile.  At any rate, it is an advance upon the old
fashion of getting up a joust at arms, and inviting the guest to come
out and have his head cracked in a friendly way.

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