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The Paris Sewers

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A correspondent of the London Standard writcs to that jouinal : " Dou't, gentle reader, turn away in disgust, and imagine that I am about to lead you through an excursión íit only i'or scavengers and drainsraen. A little patience, and you will perceive that the trip I have just made, if not the most delightful in the world, is not the most disagreeable. Our party numbered about sixty, coinposed of French, English, and Spaniards, and comprised sevoral la(ies. We assembied on the Place du Chatelet. It was a glorioua afternoon; the sun shone brilliantly, the fountains werfc playing, and it really suemed a sin agafnst nature to leave the charming fresh scène above for the dark, stifling regions below. But the thought passed quickly away in presence of the opening before us. We had to wait a short timo for the commissioner who was to conduct us. During this in terval thn ladies prcpared their scent and salt bottlos ; some of the gentlemen, too, had provided themselves with bottles of disinfecting vinegar, preoautions which, as will ba seen, were hardly necessary. At length we descended one by one the narrow spiral staircase of iron that leads to the sewer world, and found ourselves in what may be called a series of vaults lit up by oil-lamps. Iron pipes of all dimensions, some hung to the ceiling, others supported by props, ran right and lelt in all directions. What they contained I did not ask, but perhaps the reader will agree with me that it was not necessary to do so. We proceeded to look for the sewers, and fouiid they were running quietly under the dark arch surrounding the central station where we were assembled. As soon as the eye got accustomed to the darkness, we discovered that under our ffeet was a series of railway lines, and looking further, we saw several carriages shuntcd in a side vault. It was in these that we were destined to make the first part of our journey. The carriages are noat and elegant. Perhaps it would be more correct to cali theni cars. They hold twelve persons, three in front, three behind, and three on either side in the middle. They are lit up by four lampa with white globes, one at each corner. A beautifully polished brass railing runs round the bottom to prevent the passengers falling out. The seats are canebottomod, and the whole trim of oui little train was as clean and inviting; as tbe most fastidious could desire. AVith customary French politeness the ladios were placed in tho front seats or coupe, but as I waitod till the last, and all the ladies being provided for, I managed to get a front seat too. The cars were now full, and we were forthwith shunted into the sewer which runs under the Eue de Itivoli. I happened to be in the front seat of the very first car; and there being no eugine before me, had consequently a clear look-out. At length the guard sounded his trumpot, and off we went. The train runs over a sewer about two yards wide, on rails fixed on the curbs of the sidewalks. Each car is propelled by two men drawing in front, and two men pushing behind, whose regular, steady trot fully shovved that they are accustomed to these voyages The sewer is not lit up, but the light from our lamps was quite sufücient to distiuguish everything. However, it must be confessed there was not much to be seen after all, save the black, dirty water bolow, over which wo ware riding, and the large iron pipes that ran on either side. The walls of the tunnel, the pipes and the sidewalk were all excesaively clean. The names of the streeta and the very number of the houses by which we were passing are posted upon the walls on enamel plates, exactly in the same way as in the world above. Every house has its little drain, which runs down under a sinall arch into the bigger one beneath us. The noise of the trame above was not so audible as might be expeoted. Of smoll there was little or none ; the air was more stifling than disagreeable ; of course I do not mean to say that it was pleasant. The darkness of the tunnel before me, as we traveled along, at almost a gallop sometimes, was rendered somewhat sinister by a red light placed at the very extremity, which had all the appearance of another train coming up on the line. Happily, I am not of a nervous nature, or I should have probably imagined that we were doomed to a terrible collision, and tbat I should not bo left alive to teil this story. Our borses, or rather our uien, now slackened pace, and in a few minutes we arrived under the Place de la Concorde. Here there is a regular station lit up by oil lainps, and provided with rails, and other precautions against f'alling into the drains. We all descended from the cars, and were led into a far larger sewer, some seven or eight yards wide, where we found several punt-like boats waiting for our service. One by one we walked along the narrow sidewalks nanking the sewer river, occasionally knocking our heads against the huge drain pipes suspended above, and one by one we were handed by our commissioners into the black góndolas. Each boat is lit up with a lamp and provided with a steersman. The boats being very wet, the administration had been kind enough to cover the seats with clean sacking. The embarkation occupied somo little time, during which the passengers naturally indulged in funny remarles suitable to the occasion, but which I refrain from translating. "When we were all seated the head commissioner again blew his truinpet, and off we sailed - that is to say, we were drawn by four men with ropes attached to each barge. The sewer we were now gliding through is lit up with reflecting lamps suspended at certain distances. On glancing at the wail, 1 percexved that we were under the Rue Eoyale. Here the noise of the traffio above rumbled ia and out of the smaller side-drains into ours, and oreated a succession of distant thunder, while the noise of falling waters made soma of our party think that a storm was bursting over tha capital. Oa we glided over the lake, which appeared to be nothing more than dirty water from the streets, and in which pieces of straw and paper shone out in bright contrast. On we glided, looking at the pipes above, tho big, top-booted men that wero drawing us, and wondering if the poople above dreamed that we were down bolow searching tho very soles of their boots. On we glided, rocking to and fro, and thinking what a horrid thing it would be to be drowned in Buch a river, until at last we reach the Church of the Madelene, where our voyage carne to an end. We then disembarked, and having given a pour-boire to onr captain and his motley crew, mounttd another spiral iron staircase and found cursolves once more in the land of tho living. It is true we had experienced no overpowering smell, we had scen no rats or anything elso to offend the sight, and we ware just as clean as whon we started from tho Place do Chatelet, but in spito of these favorable circumstances we were none the less glad to emerge again into sunlight and fressh air Josh Billings says : Tew enjoy a good reputashun, giv pnblickly and steal privately.


Old News
Michigan Argus