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So much for what we may call the prime
show of Paris in these queer days. But, for
those other unroyal shows with which the
city commonalty were to be recreatedthe
open air, al fresco, pantomimic, and theatrical
doings on boulevard and elsewherethere
surely never was such racketing and pleasure
hunting, and utter foregoing of all serious
business since the days of Roman decadence.
Surely it is the strangest problem in the world
how a light people, so greedy of sport, so
utterly given to recreation, should have flown
off suddenly, at a tangent as it were, straight
to rough cruel business, and serious bloody
work! One would have fancied that with
enough of sweet food and shows, the whole
thing, sun-god, l'état c'est moi, and the rest
of it, would have worked on somehow till
Doomsday.

To overtake their own provincial Johnny
Raw, who has been staring, oaf-like, at all
things about him,—to take him good-
naturedly in hand, as one might do a country
cousin,—show him all sights and raree-shows,
he should be brought straight to the boulevards
of an evening, to make a beginning,
that is. Not to the fields called Elysian
(sobriquet due to that whimsical craze for the
classical with which the Paris folk were so
bitten), but to the boulevards; then the
grand focus of all stirring things. Such a
busy pleasant scene of a cool evening could
scarcely be concieved. The place is kept
freshly sanded, and carefully watered, for
behoof of the pleasure world. All Paris is
out,—now free from such light harness as it
bore during the day,—strolling, chattering,
laughing, love-making, and coffee-sipping.
It is the market-chorus of the Neapolitan
opera. Colours passing and repassing with
bright chequered effect. Every grand old
tree,—and at that day there were lines and
lines interminable of themwould have been
the shady centre of a pleasant party. The
cruel revolutionary axe had not as yet been
laid to their roots.

Undoubtably that crowdprincipally of
workmen coming from workround a sort
of booth, with stage in front whence some
slight foretaste of the entertainment within
is given to the gaping throng. This was the
Sieur Nicolet's temple of magic,—temple,
besides, of tumbling, dancing, and surpassing
feats of prestidigitation, varied by comic
interludes on the tight rope. No doubt his
company of voltigeurs, sauteurs, and india-
rubber brethren, has then all the charm of
novelty. The mere elementary feat of passing
a gold louis, obligingly lent by a gentleman
in the crowd, through one of the Guy
Fawkes' hatsalso obligingly lent by a
gentleman in the audiencewould be enough
in that day to take away a plain man's
breath. The mind of man, inquisitive
concerning all things past, puts to itself this
questionand pardonably too: were the
Sieur Nicolet's acrobats men of melancholy
countenances, and of yellow skin? did they
wear their hair in long ringlets, and confined
by a fillet? Did they put themselves in sad
postures, and recover themselves after each
feat, with a desponding salutation of the
audience?

A little way further on was the temple of
the Sieur Comus, a man of extraordinary
reputation in his walk of businesswith a
balcony outside, from whence strange men
called to all passers-by to halt and enter.
Charlatan would be the name that would fit
him best, being plainly one of that species
introduced by Mesmer and Cagliostromen
with beards and flowing dresses, who affected
to know concerning the past and the future.
That is to say, men who had studied physics
and chemistry more carefully than their
neighbours, and turned those sciences to
gristing purposes. The Sieur Comus had it
in his handbill, that he "respectfully
submitted to public notice the truly marvellous
and astounding effects of the magnetic and
sympathetic essence."

John Raw Provincial hearkens to the great
mystery-man, and trembles. Persons of high
quality went to Monsieur Mesmer. Here
was a cheap open-air Mesmer for our
commonalty. Then, there was the wax-work of
the Sieur Curtiusone of the most surprising
exhibitions of the day. For, there were to be
seen inside, the figures of kings, great writers,
all the pretty women of capital, and even
the great highwaymen. Above all, there
was a mock show of the great show of all.
Nothing short of the king and his royal
family, with the emperor on his right hand,
seated at a sham banquet. The excitement
to see this piece of modelling was tremendous.
And here the inquisitive mind puts to
itself another question. Were these parties
of singularly hoarse utterance, stationed
outside, inviting the public in, after the
traditional for: "All in to begin! Walk in
'adies and g'nt'm'n! All alive O!"

Not in those exact terms; but strange to
say, the precise shape of invitation in favour
with the Sieur Curtius's following has come
down to us. They said out loudperhaps
hoarsely, perhaps shrilly—"Walk in, walk
in, messieurs! step in, and see the Grand
Table! Walk in! Just the same as at the
noble palace. Walk in!" The public walked
in with such eagerness, laying down each
his twopence with an honest ardour, that
the wax-modelling Curtius often pouched
over one hundred écus a day. Nicolet and
his tumblers usually turned close upon two
thousand pounds yearly.

There was a Dutch young lady, too, known
popularly as "La Jeune Hollandaise," who
had a show of her own, cut and coloured
papers, making the mild entertainment called
artificial fireworks. Then, there was the
Sieur Pelletier, with a show embracing, as
his advertisement puts it, "everything that
can flatter, amuse, or instruct;" but with

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