Old and New Paris: Its History, Its People, and Its Places, Volumes 1 à 2

Cassell and Company, 1893

A PARISIAN who is not rich enough to keep a distinguished chef of his own will occasionally order a dainty dinner to be forwarded to him from some hotel or restaurant; and in these cases the repast, as soon as it is ready, is sometimes put into a hackney cab and driven to the house of the consignee by the cocher, who is not unaccustomed to find this “fare” more remunerative than the fare he habitually conveys. A glance at the cocher, as another of the Parisian types of character, may here be not inopportune. As a matter of fact, however, the cocher is not one type but several. The name applies to the driver of the omnibus, of the fiacre, and of the private carriage. As to the omnibus driver, he is more amiable, more easy-going, less sarcastic than his counterpart in London. Nobody would ever hear an omnibus driver in Paris say, as one has been heard to say in London, when a lady passenger requested to be put down at 339½ —— Street, “Certainly, madam, and would you like me to drive upstairs?” Nor is the Paris cabman so extortionate as his London brother; for the fare-regulations, by which there is one fixed charge for the conveyance of a passenger any distance within a certain radius, precludes the inevitable dispute which awaits the lady or gentleman who in our metropolis dares to take a four-wheeler or a hansom. Already in the sixteenth century hackney carriages were driven in the streets of Paris; and any differences arising between the cocher and his passenger were at this period referred to the lieutenant of the police. The private coachmen, attached to the service of the nobility, found their position a somewhat perilous one in an age when quarrels were so frequent on the question of social precedence. If two aristocratic carriages met in some narrow street, barring each other’s way, the footmen would get down and fight for a passage. Serious wounds were sometimes inflicted, and even the master would now and then step out of his vehicle and, with drawn sword, join in the affray. The coachman, meanwhile, prouder in livery than his master in braided coat, remained motionless on his box in spite of the blows which were being dealt around. It is related that when on one occasion a party of highwaymen attacked the carriage of Benserade, poet, wit, and dramatic author, his coachman sat calmly at his post, and amused himself with whistling whilst his master was being stripped of everything. From time to time he turned towards the robbers and said, “Gentlemen, shall you soon have finished, and can I continue my journey?” 


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Page 115 - Qu'on parle mal ou bien du fameux Cardinal, Ma prose ni mes vers n'en diront jamais rien : II m'a fait trop de bien pour en dire du mal, II m'a fait trop de mal pour en dire du bien.
Page 183 - Je sais mes perfidies, Œnone, et ne suis point de ces femmes hardies Qui, goûtant dans le crime une tranquille paix, Ont su se faire un front qui ne rougit jamais.
Page 259 - The wondering neighbours ran, And swore the dog had lost his wits, To bite so good a man. The wound it seemed both sore and sad, To every Christian eye : And while they- swore the dog was mad, They swore the man would die. But soon a wonder came to light, That showed the rogues they lied ; The man recovered of the bite, The dog it was that died.
Page 150 - I die innocent of all the crimes laid to my charge: I pardon those who have occasioned my death; and I pray to God that the blood you are going to shed may never be visited on France.
Page 282 - ... nor is it possible to speak of it with too much severity. If young noblemen at London were to drive their chaises in streets without foot-ways, as their brethren do at Paris, they would speedily and justly get very well thrashed, or rolled in the kennel.
Page 150 - They seemed reanimated themselves, in seizing with violence the most virtuous of kings, they dragged him under the axe of the guillotine, which with one stroke severed his head from his body. All this passed in a moment.
Page 54 - ... or attempt, from theory, to frame something absolutely speculative: in the former case, they will prove a blessing to their country; in the latter they will probably involve it in inextricable confusions and civil wars, perhaps not in the present period, but certainly at some future one. I hear nothing of their removing from Versailles; if they stay there under the...
Page 166 - Et l'univers entier ne peut rien voir d'égal Aux superbes dehors du Palais-Cardinal M. 560 Toute une ville entière, avec pompe bâtie, Semble d'un vieux fossé par miracle sortie, Et nous fait présumer, à ses superbes toits, Que tous ses habitants sont des dieux ou des rois.
Page 282 - This great city appears to be in many respects the most ineligible and inconvenient for the residence of a person of small fortune of any that I have seen ; and vastly inferior to London. The streets are very narrow, and many of them crouded, nine tenths dirty, and all without foot-pavements.
Page 150 - King was obliged to lean on my arm, and, from the slowness with which he proceeded, I feared for a moment that his courage might fail ; but what was my astonishment, when arrived at the last step, I felt that he suddenly let go my arm, and I saw him cross with a firm foot the breadth of the whole scaffold...

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