Travel Letters: Paris, France (1866)

DEAR WILLIAM, — I have been in Paris now a week, and a busy week in Paris will let you know a good deal about the city. I have loafed in it from one end to the other, and have seen the bigger part of what is worth seeing in the town itself. Under these circumstances, I feel justified in deliberately asserting, and you may repeat it if you wish, on my authority, that Paris is considerable of a place. It is a great change from most of my other traveling, after Syrian tents, and Greek inns, and Italians albergos, and steamboat berths, to settle quietly down in this luxurious hotel, dine at nice restaurants, and walk all day on these bitumen sidewalks, which are the luxury of pedestrianism. I am glad I came here last. It is a better place to end than to begin with.

Paris, you know, is almost a new city. There is very little really ancient or mediaeval left ; even the memorials of its revolutionary days are hard to find. Everything is splendid with the lavish outlays of Napoleon III. I saw him and Mrs. Eugénie driving in the Champs Elysées the other day, and the little prince, who is said to be really a very remarkable boy, I saw driving into the Tuileries on Sunday. Paris is full of all sorts of people. Every day somebody turns up that I have known or heard of. I like it very well for a little while.

I don’t know how long I shall stay here. I have some little thought of going over to London on Monday to see the very English sight of the Derby Day. I have also urgent letters from the Freedmen’s friends there, who are going to have a public meeting some time this month. If I go, I shall stay in England about six weeks, and get a week or two more here before I go into Switzerland.

Father’s and mother’s letters by the Asia, of April 25, turned up to-day. That seems like being very near home. Tell them not to worry about the cholera. I shall keep as clear as possible of any places where it may show itself. I am delighted to hear that you are all well at home. Nothing but the war is talked of now. Things certainly look very belligerent. I did Venice just in time. Nobody is allowed to go there now.

By the way, our friend Mr. Ward is in London, and one of the active Freedmen’s men.

What an exceedingly disagreeable creature our chief magistrate is ! I always take up a new paper now, sure that there will be another of those abominable vulgar speeches, and they are so weak and bad. If they had any strength in them, we could stand their vulgarity. Well, he can last only three years longer, and meanwhile everybody must work against him, as they did against our other enemies.

This is not much of a letter to write from Paris, but perhaps next week I will give you a stunner about the Derby Day. Paris you must come and see for yourself. It ‘s such an odd, splendid jumble that it can’t be written about satisfactorily. However, I am well and happy, and you must take that for the burden of this letter. Affectionately,

PHILL. Index Of Articles About Paris