LETTER I.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF AN AMERICAN IN FRANCE

 

Paris, August 9, 1834

Since we first landed in France, every step of our journey has reminded us that we were in an old country. Every thing we saw spoke of the past, of an antiquity without limit; everywhere our eyes rested on the handiwork of those who had been dead for ages, and we were in the midst of customs which they had bequested to their descendants.

Perpetual business, perpetual labor, is a thing of which [the French] have no idea. I wake in the middle of the night, and I hear the fiddle going, and the sound of feet keeping time, in some of the dependencies of the large building near the Tuilleries, in which I have my lodgings. When a generation of Frenchmen

"Have played, and laughed, and danced, and drank their fill" -

when they have seen their allotted number of vaudevilles and swallowed their destined allowance of weak wine and bottled small-beer, they are swept off to the cemetary of Montmartre, or of Pere la Chaise, or some other of the great burial places which lie just without the city....Parts of the cemetary seem like a city in miniature; the sepulchral chapels, through the windows of which you can see crucifixes and tapers, stand close to each other beside the path, intermigled with statues and busts.