Paris in old and present times; Free PDF book (With Illustrations) by Philip Gilbert Hamerton

Paris in old and present times; (With Illustrations) by Philip Gilbert Hamerton

Paris in old and present times


First, as to nationality. Englishmen admire Paris; they speak of it as a beautiful city, even a delightful city; but there is one point on which a Frenchman's estimate of Paris usually differs from that of an English- man. I am not alluding to the Frenchman's patriotic affection for the place; that, of course, an Englishman cannot have, and can only realize by the help of powerful sympathies and a lively imagination. I am alluding to a difference in the impression made by the place itself on the mind of a French and an English visitor. 


The Englishman thinks that Paris is pretty; the French- man thinks that it is sublime. The Englishman admits that it is an important city, though only of moderate dimensions; the Frenchman believes it to be an immensity, and uses such words as "huge" and "gigantic" with reference to it, as we do with reference to London. Victor Hugo compares Paris with the ocean and affirms that the transition from one to the other does not in any way exalt one's ideas of the infinite. " Attain milieu ritst plus vaste" he says, very willingly leaving the much larger British capital out of consideration.


 For him, Paris is everywhere, like the air, because it is ever-present in his thoughts. " On Regarde la mer, et on voit Paris" We Englishmen, always remembering London, and more or less consciously referring every city to that, are very liable to a certain form of positive error with regard to Paris, against which, if we care for truth, it is well to put ourselves on our guard. Most things in Paris seem to us on rather a small scale. The river seems but a little river, as we so easily forget its length and the distance of Paris from the sea; and most of the buildings that Englishmen care to visit are near enough to their usual haunts to produce the impression that the town itself is small.

Paris in old and present times



The Louvre, the Luxembourg, Notre Dame, the Madeleine, the Opera, and the Palais de T Industrie, are included within that conveniently central space which to the Englishman in Paris. Even the very elegance of the place is against it, insomuch as it produces an impression of lightness. A great deal of very substantial building has been done in Paris at all times, and especially since the accession of Napoleon III. ; yet how little this substantial quality of the Parisian building is appreciated by the ordinary English visitor! I remember making some remark to an Englishman on the good fortune of the Parisians in possessing such excellent stone, and on their liberal use of it, and on its happy adaptability to the purpose of the carver. The only answer I got was a laugh at my own simplicity.


"That white stuff is not stone at all; it's the only stucco! '" This observer had seen hundreds of carvers chiseling that stone, yet he went back to London complacently believing that all its ornaments were cast. Here you have a striking example of patriotic error, the stone of a foreign city believed to be stucco because stucco is a flimsy material, and because it was not agreeable to recognize in foreign work the qualities of soundness and truth. Even in this mistake may be traced to the pre-disposing influence of London. Stucco has been used in very large quantities in London; and the stone employed there in public buildings, though of various kinds, is never of the kind most extensively employed in Paris.

It is unnecessary to dwell any longer upon what Mr. Herbert Spencer would call the " patriotic bias." French people bring the same bias with them into England and write accounts of London with astounding inaccuracy. In one of the most recent of these there occurred a description of the House of Lords, giving no idea whatever of its architecture, and stating that it was not bigger than an ordinary council-room in a provincial Mairie)- Many things in London areas heartily despised by intelligent Englishmen as they can possibly be by foreigners, but the foreigner shows his own patriotic bias by dwelling upon them, and by slighting allu- 1 I am inclined to think that the Frenchman's notions of size had been upset by passing through Westminster Hall, but the patriotic bias in his account of the Houses of Parliament was shown by his omission of architectural appreciation, and by his extreme readiness to describe what he supposed to be eccentricities or defects.

Contents of the book

Contents. I. Introduction I ii. Lutetia 1 6 iii. A voyage round the island 34 iv. Notre dame and the Sainte Chapelle ... 59 v. The Tuileries and the Luxembourg .... 82 vi. The louver 104 vii. The h6tel de Ville 125 viii. The pantheon, the Invalides, and the madeleine 139 ix. St. Eustache, st. Etienne du mont, and st. Sulpice ....159 x. Parks and gardens 174 xi. Modern Parisian architecture 197 xii. The streets 219 lists of illustrations. The hotel de Cluny frontispiece transept of Notre dame 4 old house with tourelle 9 the old Maison Dieu, and north transept of Notre dame 14 the frigidarium of the roman baths, called Les Thermes 20 the grand Chatelet

28 the tour de nesle. From the etching by callot 30 the louver of Philippe-auguste 32 garden east of Notre dame 40 pont Notre dame, i8th century 44 the pump near the pont notre dame, 1861 . . 46 the pont neuf in 1845. 50 the morgue in 1840 52 the little chatelet, taken from the petit pont in 1780 54 the archbishop's palace in 1650. From an etching by israel sylvestre 56 anglers on the quays 58 the apse of notre dame co tympanum of the porte ste. Anne 64 pler and one of the doors of the porte ste. Anne 66 les tribunes .... 68 the "Pourtour" 70 x list of illustrations.

 Page royal thanksgiving in notre dame, 1782 ... 74 the old court of accounts and the Sainte Chapelle 78 saint Louis in the Sainte Chapelle 80 the Tuileries in 1837 96 the Luxembourg as it was built 100 the louver in its transition state from gothic to renaissance 104 the louver, from the seine. From a drawing by h. Toussaint 106 details by pierre lescot in the quadrangle. 107 the louvre 109 the classical pavilion and the old eastern tower no the interior of the quadrangle. From a drawing by h. Toussaint 114 quadrangle of the louver, with the statue of Francis I.,

placed there in 1855, and since removed 118 the colonnade. From a drawing by h. Tous- saint 120 an old room in the louver 124 front of the hotel de Ville in the time of Louis xiii 128 the hotel de Ville in 1583. From a drawing by Jacques cellier 130 the hotel de ville 132 the great ball-room . . 136 the pantheon 142 the pantheon from the gardens of the luxem- bourg 146 the invalides 152 the madeleine 155 the church of st. Eustache. 160 list of illustrations. Xi page church of st. Etienne du mont. From a sketch by a; brunet-debaines 162 interior of


st. Etienne du mont 164 west front of st. Etienne du mont 168 the church of st. Sulpice 170 grande allee des tuileries 181 lac des Buttes Chaumont 183 avenue des champs Elysees 186 au Jardin du Luxembourg 188 lac du bois de Boulogne 190 la naumachia, parc de monceau 192 doorway of a modern house 204 the opera. Side view 206 the opera. The principal front 208 interiors of the church of st. Augustine . . . 210 the church of st. Augustine 212 interior of the church of la trinite . . . . 214 the church of la trinite 216 boulevard st. Germain 222 rue st. Andre 226 avenue friedland 228 hotel de sens 230 the mairie and st. Germain l'auxerrois . . . 23

Author:  Philip Gilbert Hamerton 
Publication Date: 1900

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