If of all that has been done, or you are going to make it the custom to look for the reasons, it would be at the close of the accounts that these reasons are limited to a few, and not all, as Rosmini wanted. I, for example, I came to Paris without a real reason, without a little bit of interest, or the excuse of a great curiosity, just to do like the whole world, in these times of universal exposure. And here I am, with half the world to the ribs. The other half has already been there, poor you, with a warm assaetti, while I’ve come and I’m there with a cool that falls in love. I belong to the great half of the satisfied, no doubt about it.
My journey can be everyone’s journey, so descriptions would be superfluous; nevertheless, let me throw down four lines of history. I spent one day in Turin, regretting that I could not stay longer. The old capital of the kingdom has been greatly embellished; it is flourishing, industrious and populated more than ever. Example and remarkable teaching of a city that seemed condemned to decadence, and which found in itself, in its courage, in its will, the reparing forces, not always easy to draw from the recipes of the official Esculapii.
I have little or nothing to say about the Cenisio gallery. I slept all of it, and it did not seem like much. I woke up in France, at the sound of a ” vos billets, messieurs ” at the help desk, by a gold-clad conductor. I saw the gendarme, in place of my beloved carabiniere; they made me get out of the carriage and cross the platform; they closed me in a ward, in whose narrowest place a gendarme was going along our visit cards and gathering them, as we slipped past him, or, more precisely, on his chest; they kept me an hour in the coop, with a multitude of other unhappy people, without even giving me permission to go out for a minute outdoors; and all this to the glory of administration, de la régularité, des exigences du service. In the name and glory of these things, here it is even worse. In Italy one would practice patience with a few dozen encounters, not recorded in the Via del Paradiso , or in another book of prayers in hand.
I remember, due to justice, that in Modane, as in any other railway station, or even the public office of France and Navarre, the rigidity of the delivery, the austerity of the regulation, are tempered by the kindness of the ways. Touch the spring of ” s’il vous plaît, monsieur ” and that of ” veuillez avoir la bonté ” and do whatever you want of the conductor, the guardian, the gendarme, the sergeant, the brigadier, and even (at least, there is he is the one who assures him) even of the marshal.
By means of the ” monsieur ” served throughout the meal and with every race of gallonati, I was able to get out first from the cage, find the least worst of places on the French train, and crush another nap through the Savoy. In Ambérieu station, where we reached a clear day, I drank a milk, which would deserve the journey alone. The country all around is beautiful, with its cliffs towering as impervious as the Ariosto fortresses, its villages half hidden among poplars, and the Rhone still born bubbling (I would almost say that stutters) on the whitish shore of the valley.
What can you say about Burgundy, crossed in the day, with a splendid sun? It is the best-combed countryside in the world. The meadows, the vineyards, the turkish wheat fields, the farmhouses, the noble castles, everything is smoothed, trimmed, brushed; but mind you, like an old school brush, and not with certain toothbrushes that I know, and that you certainly do not ignore.
These prodigies of agriculture do not need you in the most fertile land possible. The countryside, where it is bare, is stony and chalky, which is a desperation to see it. But every hill, every stratum, every floor, has its most elegant cultivation; nitrogen is abundant and under all the most putrid forms; the streams of water, numerous and well distributed, give you pastures so green, so rich, so appetizing, that you sometimes wish to be born truly ox, to contribute, in the calm of an honest rumination, to the increase , to the prosperity of this blessed soil. How many times and for how many spoils the world is full of, would not it be better if the natural selection had brought such a turn in the scale of beings?
The thought of the five billion and the demonstration of the way in which they could be paid to the Prussians without damage of the country, alternate in my mind with the beautiful views of Macon and Dijon, and with the spectacle of the peasants who handle the spade here and there, standing on the person in the Tuscan way, almost elegant in sight, with their white shirt, the strip of wool around the waist and the straw hat on the head. The way is long; but, as you see, it is not boring.
Paris announces itself as Rome, with a vast desert. But this of Paris is not as desolate as the Roman countryside. Countries are scarce; you can see at times a few houses scattered in the green: but the railway runs through vineyards, vegetable gardens, seedbeds and orchards. I noticed for fifty kilometers of this intensive cultivation.
I left Turin on the fifteenth and fifty in the evening when I passed the Seine, above Paris, after five o’clock the following day. At six o’clock or so, due to a delay made necessary by the trains, I dismounted at the Bercy station, or Lyon, if you liked it better. Unusual news; not a hotel omnibus waiting for the forastieri, a few carriages, and all with the inscription ” louée ” on a vane planted in a box, on the left of the coachman. But it was not in vain that we were born in the homeland of the great discoverers. I go down a ladder, which puts me on the boulevard de Mazas ; I come across a small Gavroche, who wants to take my travel bag for twenty cents; I resist and promise him a penny, if he gives him the courage to find me a fiacre. The biricchino detaches a running pace from disaggarne a bersagliere, and ten minutes later, while near me, on an isolated rise that makes a circle around a lamppost, fourteen or fifteen travelers on foot represent the scene of the survivors of the Medusa , I there I have my fiacre , with the triumphant Gavroche in the box. I do not invite anyone to keep me company; I do not go back to look for the baggage; run Paris to the race.
Paris is a city … But, slowly; I have to describe it? We dismount first to the hotel, which is quite far from the station; we begin the preliminary negotiations of each treaty with the innkeeper; we give a waiter the ticket and the key to the trunk, so that he can go and collect the forgotten baggage; we go down, we look for the first passage , or gallery, that puts us in communication with the great Parisian artery; and here we are finally on the boulevard , indeed on that famous des Italiens , which we have seen a little ‘all, at the age of fifteen, in the pages of a French novel, translated by an Enrico Tettoni, or by a Gaetano Barbieri.
Paris, for the first time, wants to be seen on the boulevards and in the evening. Imagine a street, not at all rectilinear, about forty meters wide, with two sidewalks, each of which occupies a quarter of this size, having on the margins of the big plane trees sick of insomnia, interspersed with iron stands, with walls of paper, and a light inside, which makes them transparent, allowing you to read a subtext of announcements. One of these kiosks does not announce theatrical performances, and it is all closed, like a Trajan column. Another shopper serves a newspaper vendor; another one, surrounded by an iron enclosure, maybe two meters high, hides four or five sectors in the sides, where a man can stand very well, giving his back to his neighbor. Ne m ‘. Next to some of these kiosks, it is a brass key with a bucket. The coachmen open the key and fill the bucket, to water the horses, when they stop at the side of the road. The exterminated houses, which run along the street, pierced with windows, full of signs, sparkling with flames of gasses, do not form on the ground floor only one café, only one trattoria. Half of the sidewalk is invaded by chairs and zinc desks. People sitting, eating and drinking, are at least in number equal to those who look and pass. The gasse, as I told you, is thrown to profusion; electric light in some places becomes wasteful; for example in the crossroads and in the adjacent square of the Opera, where you feel like you are in Margherita’s garden, when the third is about to end. Here, moreover , the Daisies stroll among the crowds, recognizable by the sun, because, as the booklet says, “they do not even have the arm of a Signor .”
I realize I have reduced the appearance of nocturnal Paris with the comparison of a garden. It was a sacrifice made in electric light and its theatrical character. Paris can not be worthily compared to that in Babylon, the Babylon of the banquet of Baldassarre, which we saw in the engravings of Martin, or Gustavo Doré. That great light makes the gigantic islands of the buildings whiten in the bottom. The trees suddenly break that great hand of white; but under the trees, the light of the kiosks, of the cafes, of the shops, overwhelms the frappa for a thousandfold. Poor trees, when do they sleep? And when does this people come and go, and this crowd of cars, omnibus and tramways ?
The multitude that presses on the sidewalks is largely of forastieri. The dominant note is Spanish; follows the Italian, with a certain overabundance of the Venetian element. Few English; very few Germans; so-so Americans; here and there some Algerian with a turban, and an air of Beni-Mouffetard consoling. Do you know what the Beni-Mouffetard are? Alessandro Dumas recounted in one of his thousand volumes the origin of this name, given to the apocryphal Arabs, born in the Mouffetard street, which is, or was, among the most central, among the most Parisian in Paris. Even authentic French people know each other easily. The most part have the red ribbon in the buttonhole. It is possible to believe that all the decorated members of the Legion of Honor have given themselves the mail in Paris, to make an exposition of the Order.
Many say that the tape is necessary here, to be treated with some regard. Many Italians accept the advice and put out the green ribbon, or white and vermilion, or both of the coast. I believe there is no need for it. I have indeed experienced that my shield and my marengo have a value equal to that of many visible knights, and that a ” pardon ” and a ” s’il vous plaît ” always get everything from this kind people, even when this people he realizes that you are Italian and remembers to see you like the smoke in the eyes.
Around this a parenthesis would be necessary; but I will do it again. Suffice it to say that the French is full of friendliness with everyone and that there is no need to put the ruban , unless it is done to get rid of the desire. In which case, no one laughs, as one would laugh in Italy. The rubanit is the most natural thing in the world, and here we consume it as much as parsley. Even the halberdiers of the main churches are knights of the Legion of Honor. Go to the Trinity, as I went there, to see everything, and you can admire a beautiful piece of man, still young, with the silver-clad mace, carry in his procession for the church his good decoration, while behind him , a sacristan priest goes around collecting the money of the devotees, during the elevation of the host.
Speaking of churches, I notice the detail rather curious, but on the contrary not quite beautiful, that, to show you a crypt, a sacristy, or even simply the choir, the priests subject you to a tax of fifty cents. Also in this case there is the old jubilant sergeant, glorious surplus of Magenta and of Solferino, who adapts himself to the temple guard office, to show you the ashes of Saint Genovieffa, or the tomb of Signor di Voltaire. These two saints are equal, before the fifty cents; as long as you pig them, the custodians of the sanctuary do not fall into fashion. We, in our churches, have the scourge of the cicerone; but this can be sent to the devil as and when it is desired, and the forastieri lords are not made to pray, to cling to this expedient. Here is the view fee, and there is no it’s a way to save yourself, you have to pay for it. TONôtre Dame happens even worse; the side door, the only one open, narrowly arranged, is occupied militarily by sellers of coronets, official beggars with brass plate, nuns asking for the charity pour leurs pauvres , from sacristans who ask for it to pour the obole de saint Pierre, and finally by an ambiguous character, who dips a brush in the pile of holy water and gently puts it under your nose, because with one hand you can give the sign of the cross the amount of wet that is necessary for this act, and with the other you have the chance to make him add a little money. All of this is harassing some, offending the religious sentiment of others. For me, I prefer the Roman beghinella, who approaches it shamefully at the turn of a column, and tells you in a low voice: “Lord, love; I am a poor unfortunate mother. “They no longer speak to me with so much arrogance of Italian begging; I saw them to the test, and I hold dear my rags.
After all, and after all, a curious and graceful people. Here is the good grace of those who live in the strait, and the tolerance of those who can turn the corner and find themselves immediately offshore. Pazzie and sensible acts, virtues and vices, qualities and defects, put everything in common here, giving each other of the elbow and saying ” pardon .” There is some good, I tell you, there is some good. Let’s learn.