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trains from Asnières, Bougival, Mont Parnasse, and other banqueting, dancing, convivial, and coquetting centres. These trains are mainly remarkable for the variety of costumes, masculine and feminine. There are costumes of canotiers de rigueur, such as can be seen nowhere else, and there are bonnets of astounding hues. Conversation is much mixed up with singing. As to the former, it is generally limited to critical remarks. "Did you see the Rimblots?" "I did, they had a choice repast.' They should have had a fowl at each cover. Their vanity would then have had a more ostentatious triumph." "And how Madame Rimblot
was dressed!" "C They say she had a million for a dowry." "Yes, it is generally the most stupid who are the most wealthy." 'Thirty sous for a fricandeau!" interrupts another, sighing. "Four francs for a dish of peas!" adds a fourth. "When I am in the country," ejaculates a fifth, "I content myself with a salad and hard boiled eggs."
"Anais était bien belle,
Je voudrais mourir près d'elle,"
sings a sixth. The only passengers who neither talk nor sing are the six musicians on their way home. They are fairly annihilated by their previous efforts.
There are the midnight trains, especially devoted to the theatricomaniacs. They start for Batignolles, Montmartre, La Villette, La Chapelle, Bercy, and Vaugirard, as well as to Saint Germain, Nanterre, and other remote and little-known places. They are filled with victims, downcast, ravaged, upset, by the terrific dramas at which they have "assisted." The said victims are borne along, entirely wrapt up, buried, in the thoughts of the supreme tableau-the death of the heroine and the thunder of Jupiterthe tinman. Sometimes they go to sleep, and dream that the locomotive is carrying off a young girl from her heartbroken parents, that the stoker and engineer are engaged in a death-struggle on the tender, à propos of the daughter of a duchess of the Faubourg Saint Germain; that both are killed, and that the train, left without control, passes Mantes, Rouen, Havre, and at length precipitates itself into the ocean. They awaken with loud manifestations of a frightful nightmare. The suburban population have a haughty disregard of sanitary precautions, and contribute more than any other class of people to the degeneration of the human
Then there is the express. This train is mainly devoted to English travellers-always in a hurry-to runaway lovers, to runaway debtors, and to runaway thieves and swindlers. The routes most preferred lead to the frontiers. There is little conversation in these trains. What there is, is limited to such exclamations as "We shall never get there!" "This is an abominable line-might as well be in an omnibus!" "Who is that at the door?" "Oh! the ticket-man!" There are also the slaughtertrains. To those who have done Helvetia, the Rhine, Belgium, and Biaritz, this affords a new and desirable excitement. There are impressions and sensations to be obtained in a good effective collision, which may be sought in vain elsewhere. A man must have a most inveterate spleen who cannot find distraction in such a novel course given to his ideas. There is nothing common-place in it. Everything is unforeseen, unanticipated, and it is impossible to say what will be the end of it. Even when all is over, that you are consoling yourself that you have only a
broken limb or two, while your neighbour is massacred, you have still an amusement in store. An employé arrives pale, breathless, anguished. He lifts up his arms in despair. "Mon Dieu!" he exclaims, "what a misfortune! what a catastrophe! all new waggons !"
It is an ill wind that blows nobody good. A grand catastrophe benefits many parties. The curious crowd to the spot, and the neighbouring houses of refreshment benefit by it. The profession hurry to the help, and discover new phases of torture and suffering. The authorities visit the place, and suggest reforms. The penny-a-liner earns a magnificent repast. The illustrated papers rival one another in their artistic reproductions of the most fearful details. The dead have to be buried, and undertakers are as thick as crows. Lastly, the survivors go to law, and benefit the gentlemen of the long robe. Your counsel, engaged by your solicitor, vindicates your character, extols your worldly position and importance, and leaves you, although maimed, dislocated, or memberless, really gratified with the picture drawn of your great social and pecuniary value. The counsel on the other side replies, and alas! the pretty edifice crumbles to pieces. Monsieur he declares was nothing, because he was everything. Monsieur was without profession, was poor, penniless, aged, diseased, and it was even believed that he was afflicted with monomania, for he had offered a bribe to go up in a balloon. Proofs could be brought of the fact! Avoid litigation with a railway company, as you would with a fire or life insurance company.
The Parisian traveller is limited in his ambition. The ne plus ultra of his aspirations is faithfully depicted in the following life-like sketchby one of themselves-by M. Pierre Véron:
"On the first opening of spring, Balthazar, the Platonic traveller, preludes by intimating to the lady of his thoughts, which lady proves that he is not Platonic without exception: Madame, I am ashamed of myself. Paris and its life passed in cafés devour me. The perpetual dominoes render me oblivious of my duties. I have not seen anything green for upwards of five years. I am not quite sure what colour moss is, and what shape has an oak. Madame, we will go and spend a day in the country the first fine day.'
"The promised day, the solemn day, after as many put-offs as a melodrama at the Porte Saint Martin, arrives at last. I have told you that Balthazar is Parisian. You will not be surprised, then, that he selects a Sunday for the perpetration of his campaign excess.
"By six in the morning, Balthazar has torn Trinquette-his partner's name is Trinquette-from her sweet slumbers. You must forget, dear wife,' he ventures to state, that to-day we are going to knock at the door of rural idylls?' The lady is not over-pleased, but she awakes. is half-past seven. We must make haste, or we shall lose the first train. That would be a crime. The country is so beautiful at the aurora. I should never forgive myself for sacrificing such a pleasure to the attractions of the pillow. Let us go!'
"Do you know, my love,' remarks Balthazar, after he has taken a few steps in the street, that the morning is singularly cool. The caresses of the zephyrs rob me of all my caloric. And thou! Heavens !— thou who hast generally the tints of the rose, why thy complexion resembles more to the leaves of the said flower.'
"Well, I am not surprised, considering that I have not yet broken my
"I wonder if there is not a café open yet. Oh yes, here is onesaved!'
Garçon, two grogs hot. And quick, we are in a hurry. Be easy, queen of my destinies, the time to swallow them, and we rush to the station.'
"The grogs are too hot, it is necessary to let them cool a little. Now,' says Balthazar, after having got over this first stage, what we can do best is to reach the nearest cab-stand. The station is too far off to get there on foot. Stop a minute; let me think where the nearest stand is.'
"There is one in the Rue Taranne,' insinuates Madame Trinquette. Yes, you are right-you are right. Forward-march! Well, the Rue Taranne is deserted! no more cabs than on the steeple of Saint Denis. Unfortunate occurrence! Well, we cannot remain here on our legs. Cabs will certainly come soon, let us resign ourselves to waiting for one. In the mean time we will take a chair at this limonnadier's. Do not be afraid, the country claims me, we claim one another mutually. I will not let a cab go by, but out of respect for what is right, we must have something. Garçon, two Curaçoas.'
"The Curaçoa being declared remarkable, they return to the charge three times. The cabs continue to signalise themselves by that absence which becomes chronic the day when they are wanted.
"Let us be heroic!' exclaims Balthazar. 'Let us make use of our own feet. One, two!-one, two! I will beat time the whole of the way; you will see that it is an infallible means of preventing fatigue.' "I cannot run, though.'
'My dove, you exaggerate, but the trains are more rigorous than anything else. Oh dear me, it is ten minutes to eleven, and the train starts at eleven.'
"We shall not get there in time. It is needless to trouble ourselves. We must wait now till the twelve o'clock train. We shall be in the fields by one. But it is impossible to go on to the afternoon without breakfast. The best thing that we can do is to utilise the hour that remains. Let us penetrate into that neighbouring restaurant's in search of a breakfast.'
By the time they get out again it is half-past twelve. Balthazar is decidedly in high spirits:
"I tell you, that the country is most beautiful under a mid-day sun, which gilds it with warm Venetian colours. We shall have a delightful day. A good breakfast is a happy beginning. We are close to the station. Cataclysm and horror. The profile of my last maître d'hôtel, to whom I owe sixty-seven francs for wax candles. Trinquette, let us take refuge in this liquorist's.'
"After the forced halt they start again. They traverse, on the strength of the fruits and liquors imbibed, a distance of a hundred yards without accidents. Balthazar indulges in conversation regarding trees and meadows. Trinquette is in high spirits. Suddenly, a hand falls on the shoulder of the Platonic traveller:
"Where are you going thus, my doves, without informing your friends? I catch you.'
"What, you, Ernest! Good morning. Why, my best of friends, we are going to visit the rural populations-not to call them suburban.' "Oh, you are going to the country?' "Precisely so. Good-by.'
"How so, good-by? Are you in such a hurry?' "We are, indeed, in a prodigious hurry.'
Well, you won't refuse a "bock ?" It is so hot."'
"It is true that the temperature is rather Senegalian.'
"You may say so. The glass of Chevalier's thermometer has melted.' "What a disaster! Then I must tolerate your "bock;" but I must tell you that I shall swallow it in one drink, like an atmospheric tube, and away we go. I hold by my rural promenade.'
"Parbleu! Garçon, a "moss" and a game of "bezigue."'
"You are afraid of losing them?"
This apostrophe overcomes
Balthazar. By two o'clock they have played five games of bezigue.' "Are you coming?' asks Trinquette. Immediately; I am losing nine francs,' was the reply. By five o'clock they have played at piquet, at billiards, at 'jacquet,' at backgammon. Are you coming?' repeats Trinquette. 'One minute more! I am winning fifteen francs, and it would be acting with a want of consideration. Besides, the country is especially beautiful in the evening.'
Everything has an end, even games of piquet, billiards, jacquet, and backgammon. It is striking six when Balthazar, lightened of a louis, leaves the café. His friend, like a considerate fellow on his side, offers to stand dinner.
And our excursion in the country?' ventures Trinquette. You are right. Oh! the country, I adore it; do not tempt me,' exclaims Balthazar. I will give you your revenge after dinner.' 'Useless. Come, Trinquette, we shall enjoy a superb moonlight. But what is that? As I live, a drop of water! It is going to rain,' observes the friend; you see you cannot go just now. Come and dine.' 'On condition that, the dessert over, you let us take the train.' 'I promise it.' The dessert is not concluded till half-past eleven in the evening. 'It is abominable!' exclaims Trinquette, whose equanimity is disturbed by an indigestible lobster salad. You promised to take me to the country. And it is now near midnight. It was worth while waking me at dawn.' My sultana, the country is especially beautiful by night. I owe you an indemnification. Let us take a carriage and have a drive in the "Bois." It is always green there.' 'Let us go, then.'
"But as they enter the Champs Elysées they perceive a café still open. "Coachman, stop!' shouts Balthazar. 'I am dying with thirst. will swallow a "bischoff" in five seconds.'
"At one o'clock in the morning the garçon claims the intervention of certain sergents de ville to get rid of a couple of obstinate customers. It is Balthazar, who is concluding his trip to the country in company with his beloved Trinquette."
LIFE, ITS NATURE AND PHENOMENA.*
THIS work contains no inconsiderable stock of materials for thinking, and, upon that account, not reckoning its connexion with natural history, and certain ideas which, if ingenious, will by some be thought too confidently assumed, cannot fail to attract the attention of those curious and right-minded readers who have a true sense of the value of similar productions, however speculative in their nature. Of such there is, perhaps, but a limited number compared to that of readers for mere amusement. Accordingly we find works of an inferior class multiplied without end, though guiltless of administering wholesome food to the mind. Destitute of nature, simplicity, and coherence, and often with an utter defiance of consistency, the improbable in action is served up, and sometimes even the impossible, for the purpose of what in vulgar phraseology is called "sensation," or that defiance of fact, and violation of the plainest truth, which startle from their monstrosity and gratify from improbability. In addition, the law of morality is often set at nought to create a false pathos for vicious character. Even pantaloon and ghost are blended in the same character, or something analogous in contradiction, if the medley can be worked up to startle, not the sense, but the vulgar passion and low taste of the reader. The slang of wretches of the vilest class, and the most vicious and exaggerated descriptions of their villanies, are now commanding attractions of the multitudinous readers.
It is therefore without reluctance that we turn from works little complimentary to the advance of the age in other matters, and refer to a volume in which speculative points furnish matter of lawful expatiation for those "thoughts which wander through eternity." There may be some points here to which we cannot give assent, and the question may sometimes be begged, but we should be unjust in the highest degree if we did not admit that we have before us much matter for serious reflection, considerable information, and numerous ideas, which, if novel, will the better exercise the faculties in the examination. Many of the imaginative hints will lead the mind towards a scrutiny of topics, which, if not direct subjects of discussion nor of imperious moment, will be found agreeable to that minority which is accustomed to think.
This work has a twofold tendency relative to vitality, and to those emotional and intellectual states which constitute the essence of our existence. Too much stress, perhaps, is laid upon the principle advocated compared to the evidence afforded in its support. The term "spiritual," used here with propriety, must not be confounded with reference to those efforts which are sedulously making, we regret to say, to degrade even the deplorable superstitions of our forefathers about haunted houses, spectres, lemures, and ghosts. We find such fancies attempted to be restored in the teeth of the enlightened advance of the human mind. Even the poetry of such fancies in former days is discarded, and the illusion is lowered by a transference to tables and three-legged stools, now on a sudden become vocal and prophetical, not in "unknown tongues," like
Life, its Nature, Variations, and Phenomena. By L. H. Grindon. Third Edition. Pitman.
Jan.-VOL. CXXX. NO. DXVII.