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The rapidity of the London omnibus exceeds
that of the Parisian, the former travelling at
the rate of from five to six English miles an
hour (seldom six), that is to say, of from eight
to nine and a half kilomètres, whereas seven and
a half kilomètres is the extent of the French
rate. To reduce this fact to its proper value,
we should recollect that the English is, as we
have said, lighter than the French vehicle, and
take other circumstances into consideration.
The slopes in London are less formidable, the
streets are wider, and the passages are less
numerous than in Paris. Stoppages are also
less frequent. The system of " correspondances "
forces the French omnibus to stop at
various stations, thus causing a slight
inconvenience, which is to be taken into account
when the two systems are balanced with each

When M. Lavollée compares the number of
omnibus travellers in Paris with those in London
during 1866, the advantage is unquestionably
on the side of the former. Confining his
observations to the London General Omnibus
Company, he tells us, that whereas the
company with six hundred and two vehicles
carried during the year forty-four millions
three hundred and fifty thousand passengers,
the Paris company, with six hundred and
twenty-five vehicles carried one hundred and
seven millions two hundred and two thousand,
that is to say, considerably more than double
the number. The searcher after truth will,
like M. Lavollée, balance this fact with the
circumstance, that in Paris there is nothing
analogous to the penny-steamboat, or to the
Metropolitan and North London Railways.
The steamers which connect all the important
points on the left bank of the Thames from
London Bridge to Chelsea may easily be
overlooked by many of the sojourners in London,
but their importance, derived from rapidity
and extreme cheapness, is immense.

The accidents that occur in Paris, through
the employment of the omnibus, are, according
to M. Lavollée, more numerous than those that
take place in London. To account for this
difference he finds several reasons. In the first
place, the streets of our capital are broader and
straighter than those of Paris, and the advantage
on the side of London is not counterbalanced
by the crowd of vehicles which are seen daily in
the city, but which diminishes at a very early
hour in the evening. In the second place,
M. Lavollée admits that both in skill and temper,
the English drivers are far superior to the
French, and have to deal with more docile
horses. A third cause of accident is the number
of trucks and light carts frequently driven by
women, which in Paris is greater than in London,
and leads to collisions by which the weaker
side suffers. Fourthlyand this is an
advantage on the side of London, which at once
strikes every Englishman at the very first walk
which he takes in Paris, unless he confines
himself to the Boulevards and such novelties
as the Rue de Rivoliour streets are, with
exceptions scarcely worth noting, uniformly
provided with foot-pavements on each side of the
road, whereas, in many of the streets of the
French capital, there is no such thing as a
distinct path for pedestrians, but horse and
foot move in the same track, the latter taking
care of themselves as best they may. In the
opinion of M. Lavollée, this Parisian order, or
rather disorder of things, leads to a general
habit of carelessness, which does not exist in
London. The Briton, accustomed to find his
foot-pavement everywhere, never thinks of
leaving it ; the Gaul, forced in many cases to
dispense with this luxury, does not always take
advantage of it when it is offered, and hence
the carriage-roads of Paris are often thronged
with pedestrians, even where especial
accommodation has been provided for them.

Conning over the facts thus briefly enumerated,
and perhaps consulting also his own
personal experience, the reader will perceive
at a glance, that if the French streets were
widened and uniformly provided with foot-
pavements, the French drivers were better
trained, and the traffic in light carts were
diminished, the comparison between London and
Paris would show an unqualified advantage on
the side of the latter, and, moreover, that the
allowances made in favour of England were
but trifling after all.

Why, then, should we not adopt the Parisian
mode without hesitation?

This question is not to be answered without
grave deliberation. The great efficiency of the
Parisian scheme, and the perfection of its system
of correspondances, are the results of a monopoly;
all the omnibuses in the French capital
belonging to one company, with whom it is
unlawful to compete. Now, to every thinking
Englishman the very word monopoly is
suggestive of fallacy, and whenever a particular
case arises where protection in any form seems
to have an advantage over free competition, he
will doubt whether a partial benefit is to be
sought by the sacrifice of a grand principle.
Who can say that, properly developed, the
London system of free competition may not
ultimately attain in the small matter of the
omnibus, the same degree of perfection that in
Paris is enforced by monopoly?


VERY early in this present century, that is
to say, in the month of October, 1801, it
occurred to MR. NOBODY to visit the famous
city of Paris. According to the Republican
calendar, which then obtained among our
neighbours, the month was not October, and
the year was not 1801. The month was
Brumaire, and the year was Ten of the Republic
one and indivisible. But Mr. Nobody being an
Englishman, the non-republican computation
of time and season may be adopted. I call my
traveller Mr. Nobody because I have not the
slightest idea who he was, whence he came, or
whitherwhen he returned from his Parisian
tourhe went. He was certainly not Tom