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The Paris Of Our Grandparents
by [?]

Returning to an examination of the panorama, my companion pointed out to me that there was no break in the boulevards, where the opera-house, with its seven radiating avenues, now stands, but a long line of Hôtels, dozing behind high walls, and quaint two-storied buildings that undoubtedly dated from the razing of the city wall and the opening of the new thoroughfare under Louis XV.

A little farther on was the world-famous Maison Dorée, where one almost expected to see Alfred de Musset and le docteur Véron dining with Dumas and Eugene Sue.

“What in the name of goodness is that?” I exclaimed, pointing to a couple of black and yellow monstrosities on wheels, which looked like three carriages joined together with a “buggy” added on in front.

“That’s the diligence just arrived from Calais; it has been two days en route, the passengers sleeping as best they could, side by side, and escaping from their confinement only when horses were changed or while stopping for meals. That high two-wheeled trap with the little ‘tiger’ standing up behind is a tilbury. We used to see the Count d’Orsay driving one like that almost every day. He wore butter-colored gloves, and the skirts of his coat were pleated full all around, and stood out like a ballet girl’s. It is a pity they have not included Louis Philippe and his family jogging off to Neuilly in the court ‘carryall,’-the ‘Citizen King,’ with his blue umbrella between his knees, trying to look like an honest bourgeois, and failing even in that attempt to please the Parisians.

“We were in Paris in ’48; from my window at Meurice’s I saw poor old Juste Milieu read his abdication from the historic middle balcony of the Tuileries, and half an hour later we perceived the Duchesse d’Orléans leave the Tuileries on foot, leading her two sons by the hand, and walk through the gardens and across the Place de la Concorde to the Corps Législatif, in a last attempt to save the crown for her son. Futile effort! That evening the ‘Citizen King’ was hurried through those same gardens and into a passing cab, en route for a life exile.

“Our balcony at Meurice’s was a fine point of observation from which to watch a revolution. With an opera-glass we could see the mob surging to the sack of the palace, the priceless furniture and bric-à-brac flung into the street, court dresses waved on pikes from the tall windows, and finally the throne brought out, and carried off to be burned. There was no keeping the men of our party in after that. They rushed off to have a nearer glimpse of the fighting, and we saw no more of them until daybreak the following morning when, just as we were preparing to send for the police, two dilapidated, ragged, black-faced mortals appeared, in whom we barely recognized our husbands. They had been impressed into service and passed their night building barricades. My better half, however, had succeeded in snatching a handful of the gold fringe from the throne as it was carried by, an act of prowess that repaid him for all his troubles and fatigue.

“I passed the greater part of forty-eight hours on our balcony, watching the mob marching by, singing La Marseillaise, and camping at night in the streets. It was all I could do to tear myself away from the window long enough to eat and write in my journal.

“There was no Avenue de l’Opéra then. The trip from the boulevards to the Palais-Royal had to be made by a long detour across the Place Vendôme (where, by the bye, a cattle market was held) or through a labyrinth of narrow, bad-smelling little streets, where strangers easily lost their way. Next to the boulevards, the Palais-Royal was the centre of the elegant and dissipated life in the capital. It was there we met of an afternoon to drink chocolate at the ‘Rotonde,’ or to dine at ‘Les Trois Frères Proven�aux,’ and let our husbands have a try at the gambling tables in the Passage d’Orléans.