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THE citizens of London and the citizens of
Paris can be compared and contrasted in
almost the same terms as the cities
themselves: the one sombre, heavy, large,
continually expanding, seldom changing; the
other bright, compact, open, lively, and ever
improving. The pace of London improvement
is that of the overgrown alderman, or of his
own beloved turtle. It takes a lustre to pull
down and rebuild a house or two in Chancery
Lane, a decade to reconstruct Cannon Street,
and a lifetime to open out an entirely new
thoroughfare. In our youth, a nest of
rookeries was demolished on the Clerkenwell
side of Holborn Bridge, under pretence of
continuing Farringdon Street to be an open
route for the Northern and Western
Railways: we are now more than middle-aged,
our second son has attained his majority, and
Farringdon Street still stands where it did.
It is neither longer nor broader than it was
when Fleet Ditch ceased to be navigable for
merchant ships, and when Fleet Market afterwards
flourished above that covered estuary.
It is not a foot nearer to Bath, nor Liverpool,
nor Berwick-upon-Tweed. The loose bricks;
the unconsidered tiles; the rusty, dinted
fragments of pots and kettles; the rugged mounds
of filth; the slimy holes and puddles; the
jagged profiles of tenements half torn down,
half standing; the arches of empty coal-cellars;
the carcases of dead domestic animals; the
bones of others whose death and skeletonhood
dates three reigns back; the " temporary"
posts and barriers now decayed with
age; and the stenches from Cow Cross ; all
continue to seethe and breed pestilence in
the hideous gap dug out of the centre of this
metropolis nearly a quarter of a century
ago. Yet, during that time, there has been
activity of another kind close by. Hundreds
of dinners have been eaten; thousands of
turtle have been slain and washed down
with oceans of cold punch; millions of money
in coal-dues and corn-dues have been squandered,
and diverted from their legal purposes,
into ever-running channels of gormandising
and jobbery. Further off in the world a vast
amount of work has been done, of precisely
the same sort as that which our citizens have
wretchedly shirked. Within the territories of
the United States, whole cities have been
built, peopled, and organised, of not much
smaller extent than the city of London
proper. Miles and miles of ground have
been covered with habitations in other
parts of the globe, and called St. Francisco,
Melbourne, Port Philip, what you
will. Even while the wise men of the East
have been haggling about one little piece of
open ground at the base of St. Paul's
Cathedral, a considerable portion of the capital
of the great French empire has been not only
razed, but rebuilt; rebuilt with a degree
of solidity not easily conceivable in this
our city of bricks and stucco; and in a style
of splendour which would have startled the
late Mr. John Martin, notably the most
extreme idealist of gorgeous architecture ever

Indeed, since the tradition of Cadmus and
the magical realities of the gold districts, we
know of no instance of rapid building to
equal the recent transformations in Paris.
In the three years during which this short
work has been mainly in action, there have
been swept away a great many narrow crooked
streets, which reeked with open streams of
foetid refuse; which were without side-
pavementsfoot passengers, horses, vehicles and
filth, all mixing there in continual confusion;
which were seldom lighted by the
sun by day, in consequence of the height and
close proximity of the opposite houses, and
which were but dimly lighted by night, with
miserable lamps slung across the road; which
were densely thronged from the cellars to the
roofs, by a variety of inmates whose salient
characteristic was wicked squalor; into which
prudent people never ventured after sunset,
and where imprudent people were frequently
robbed and sometimes qualified by the coup
de clef, or some other sudden passport, for the
Morgue; nests, in short, of disquiet, disease,
and iniquity. Not only have entire
neighbourhoods such as these, been swept away
wholesale, but every part of the city has
been more or less improved in detail. Streets
of moderate width have had their narrow
entrances enlarged; sharp turns have been
squared, and corner houses made to form
double, instead of single anglesso that these
widened cross-roads are never crowded, and
seldom obstructed; projecting houses have