The fine paved road to this town has many inconveniencies, and jars the nerves terribly with its perpetual rattle; the approach however always strikes one as very fine, I think, and the boulevards and guingettes look always pretty too: as wine, beer, and spirits are not permitted to be sold there, one sees what England does not even pretend to exhibit, which is gaiety without noise, and a crowd without a riot. I was pleased to go over the churches again too, and re-experience that particular sensation which the disposition of St. Rocque’s altars and ornaments alone can give. In the evening we looked at the new square called the Palais Royal, whence the Due de Chartres has removed a vast number of noble trees, which it was a sin and shame to profane with an axe, after they had adorned that spot for so many centuries.—The people were accordingly as angry, I believe, as Frenchmen can be, when the folly was first committed: the court, however, had wit enough to convert the place into a sort of Vauxhall, with tents, fountains, shops, full of frippery, brilliant at once and worthless, to attract them; with coffeehouses surrounding it on every side; and now they are all again merry and happy, synonymous terms at Paris, though often disunited in London; and Vive le Duc de Chartres!
The French are really a contented race of mortals;—precluded almost from possibility of adventure, the low Parisian leads a gentle humble life, nor envies that greatness he never can obtain; but either wonders delightedly, or diverts himself philosophically with the sight of splendours which seldom fail to excite serious envy in an Englishman, and sometimes occasion even suicide, from disappointed hopes, which never could take root in the heart of these unaspiring people. Reflections of this cast are suggested to one here in every shop, where the behaviour of the matter at first sight contradicts all that our satirists tell us of the supple Gaul, &c. A mercer in this town shews you a few silks, and those he scarcely opens; vous devez choisir[Footnote: Chuse what you like.], is all he thinks of saying, to invite your custom; then takes out his snuff-box, and yawns in your face, fatigued by your inquiries. For my own part, I find my natural disgust of such behaviour greatly repelled, by the recollection that the man I am speaking to is no inhabitant of
A happy land, where circulating
Flows thro’ each member of th’embodied state—