London to Paris—history of Paris.
London to Paris.
Few people now-a-days go direct to Paris from America. They land in Liverpool, get at least a birds-eye view of the country parts of England, stay in London a week or two, or longer, and then cross the channel for Paris.
The traveler who intends to wander over the continent, here takes his initiatory lesson in the system of passports. I first called upon the American minister, and my passport—made out in Washington—was vise for Paris. My next step was to hunt up the French consul, and pay him a dollar for affixing his signature to the precious document. At the first sea-port this passport was taken from me, and a provisional one put into my keeping. At Paris the original one was returned! And this is a history of my passport between London and Paris, a distance traversed in a few hours. If such are the practices between two of the greatest and most civilized towns on the face of the earth, how unendurable must they be on the more despotic continent?
The summer was in its first month, and Paris was in its glory, and it was at such a time that I visited it. We took a steamer at the London bridge wharf for Boulogne. The day promised well to be a boisterous one, but I had a very faint idea of the gale blowing in the channel. If I could have known, I should have waited, or gone by the express route, via Dover, the sea transit of which occupies only two hours. The fare by steamer from London to Boulogne was three dollars. The accommodations were meager, but the boat itself was a strong, lusty little fellow, and well fitted for the life it leads. I can easily dispense with the luxurious appointments which characterize the American steamboats, if safety is assured to me in severe weather.
The voyage down the Thames, was in many respects very delightful. Greenwich, Woolwich, Margate, and Ramsgate lie pleasantly upon this route. But the wind blew so fiercely in our teeth that we experienced little pleasure in looking at them. When we reached the channel we found it white with foam, and soon our little boat was tossed upon the waves like a gull. In my experience crossing the Atlantic, I had seen nothing so disagreeable as this. The motion was so quick and so continual, the boat so small, that I very soon found myself growing sick. The rain was disagreeable, and the sea was constantly breaking over the bulwarks. I could not stay below—the atmosphere was too stifling and hot. So I bribed a sailor to wrap about me his oil-cloth garments, and lay down near the engines with my face upturned to the black sky, and the sea-spray washing me from time to time. Such sea-sickness I never endured, though before I had sailed thousands of miles at sea, and have done the same since. From sundown till two o’clock the next morning I lay on the deck of the sloppy little boat, and when at last the Boulogne lights were to be seen, I was as heartily glad as ever in my life.