Permanent link to this item
THE PARIS EXHIBITION., Issue 8009, 11 September 1889
THE PARIS EXHIBITION.
No, V. [From Odr Special Reporter. I Paris, July 17. With the exception of the 14th inst., which was a pouring wet day, the daily number of visitors to the Exhibition on Sundays and week days during the current month has considerably exceeded the averages of June. Up to to-day, however, only about eight millions and a-half out of the thirty millions of tickets of entrance issued (as coupons to the bonds) have been used. Tickets are now selling at 40c, and if it is determined to carry out the original intention and close in October, the price will be down to 10c, or perhaps 50, since the coupons will be so much waste paper afterwards. There is a rumor afloat that instead of closing finally in October the Exhibition will be extended over next spring and summer. Many practical difficulties to such a course suggest themselves, and it would hardly be possible, except as regards the main buildings in the Champ de Mars, which there is every prospect of being permanently maintained. In a former letter I referred to the more important classes of exhibits in the Palais des Arts Liberaux, but there is another which, from its, I may say, unique peculiarity, may be specially noticed namely, that of ‘‘prisons _et prisonniers.” The Minister of the Interior has conceived and carried out with completeness of detail the ingenious idea of showing by models, and photographs everything connected with or appertaining to the past and present penal systems of France. In addition the collection includes specimens of work executed by the convicts in the various penal estabIhhments. It may be observed c n passant that the whole of the equipments, ornamentation, and fittings of this court have been completed by prisoners the facade of beautifully polished oak, the hangings, mouldings, panels, furniture in iron and wood, designs, models, plans, tracings, all have been made and executed by them. The first section—exhibiting the penal system of the past—is calculated to make one shudder. Here can be seen all the implements used in the gaols and dungeons of former years—the rack, the iron manacles, chains, fetters (with the hammers i to rivet them), padlocks, bolts, keys, locks, and doors of enormous dimensions, make a dismal display. Here are also prints and designs, one of them representing the famous cage invented by the Cardinal De la Balae, one of the ministers of Louis XL, in which the inventor himself was imprisoned in 1469 at Loches, and a most hideous series of engravings illustrating the modes of capital and minor punishments in the several eras from the very earliest times of the French monarchy. This is a very ghastly spectacle, indeed; but is a great attraction, particularly to the women-kjnd, who seem to revel in horrors which might well make the strongest man turn away in disgust. There is always an eager crowd before models of the condemned cells at the Grand Roquette—one, exactly reproduced, has been at different times occupied by Verger, Orsini, La Pommerais, Troppman, Moreau, Lebiez, Prevost, M(snescloud, Campi, Gamahut, Marchandon, Pranzini, and Prado. Much is heard here among the inspecting crowd about Moreau, the herbalist poisoner, in whose innocence many persons persist in believing. Among the smaller objects made by the prisoners in their leisure hours is a complete set of plans of the places where they are confined—the Grand Roquette, Mazas, Poissy, Gaillon, Bourges, Clairvaux, Melun, Riom, Saval, Beaulieu, and twenty more prisons or penal settlements. These are most ingeniously constructed of cardboard. The implements at the disposal of the prisoners for their work were, it is shown, of the rudest description, so that they must be credited with considerable dexterity in making up for the inefficiency of their plant. They further succeed in making marvellous without the aid of tools at all. There is, for instance, a cathedral constructed from crumbled bread, baskets of flowers, groups of Indians, of the same material; and a timepiece, all the parts complete, made from bits of bone in the prisoners’ kitchen at Ladnerneau, The exhibits illustrate what constitutes the principal work at each prison i Picture frames at the Grand Roquette ; chairs at Embruu ; rings and pearl ornaments at Mazas; knitting done by the women prisoners at Tours ; hanging lamps of galvanised iron from Beaulieu ; Venetian lamps from Valence ; corsets made at Clermont; thread, embroideries, and frames from Belfort; waistcoats and worked slippers from the prisons of Finisterre; buttons from Fontevrault; bracelets and other ornaments from Poissy; ironmongery from Melun; boxes of collars and cuffs from Rennes ; underclothing and baby linen from Montpellier, etc. The prisoners devote themselves, as Is demonstrated, to manufactures of various kinds, and lately the prisoners at Melun have even begun to make the uniforms of the prison authorities, of which good specimens are exhibited. Here and there we find models of prison vans, and in one place is a picture painted by a prisoner, and entitled ‘ In the Parlor’(Mazas).’ _ This is almost the only artistic exhibit in this section, where at each step we cannot fail to perceive the salutary influence which healthful occupation exercises over the most depraved nature and perverted intelligence. It is evident that the French Government believe in utilising convict labor and making the penal establishment to some extent selfsupporting. The whole working of the existing system in its several branches is admirably illustrated, not only by the models referred to, but by a large number of stereoscopic views conveniently mounted, in which one can see the whole daily life of every class of prisoner. These views are evidently all taken on the spot, and represent accurately what they affect to do. By description and through engravings ip the pictorial papers the Eiffel Tower is no doubt familiarly known in New Zealand; but I venture to think that there are some matters in connection with the structure which may be new and not without interest. The idea of raising a colossal tower was by no means a novel one from the time of the Tower of Babel downwards, (which, by the way, only reached the height of fifiOft), mankind has ever and anon aspired to soar above the clouds with the erections of their hands. In the present century, somewhere about 1830, Trevittuc, an English engineer, projected a column of I,oooft, and our American cousins, with the characteristic determination to whip creation, designed the pyramidal monument to Washington at Philadelphia, to rise 600 ft in the air. It was a very long time in construction, and eventually 100 ft had to be knocked off the height, in order to avoid the crushing of the material the base by the enormous superincumbent Weight, At however, it stood the loftiest erection in the world before the Eiffel knocked it out of time, being at least one-third nearer to the aky. How is it to be explained tAbe eminent French engineer succeeded so effectively’ The secret lies in the material selected, and the mathematical precision with wffich the exterior curve of the tower is adapted Jo counteract the action of the wind at every point in the altitude within the limits of twice tne ever yet known to have been exerted in this part of the world. The tower is entirely coiietrßoted of iron trellis work, so light, so elegant in design, that it has the appearance, viewed even from a short distance, of a gossamer lace. The experience of all ages, as we may gather from the architectural chef d’muvres of antiquity, the middle ages, the Renaissance, and more modern times, is fairly conclusive as to the practical impossibility o£ ere&ting a building o£ suck colossal height, either of stone or any description of masonry however strengthened it might be with metallic fastenings, guch materials in themselves offer much less resistance to the wind than iron or steel. Nor is it possible to .calculate the conditions of stability beyond a certain point with sufficient precision. Iron, on the other hand, has in itself great resistant powqr, whilst, in proportion to it* strength, a minimum of surface is exposed to the wind, and again there is the quality of elasticity. All the parts of the elaborate frame-work, of which the tower consists, are susceptible of contraction and expansion in degrees absolutely calculable, and thus complete security is afforded. JJnfortunatoly under exposure to the element? aeff change of temperature
weakness in an iron structure must necessarily after a time ensue, the contraction and expansion—a continuity, if I may so express it, of movement—in time will loosen rivets, and further deterioration may fce expected to result. Some people, who profess to understand these things, give the lower only about twenty years lease of life, and it is understood that M. Eiffel himself has expressed the opinion that, at the end of the period, when the term of occupation of the Champ de Mars will have expired, it will coat less to erect an entirely new one at Montmartre or elsewhere than to make use of the present materials for re-erection. In regard to stability, I may mention that so accurate have been and there have been several very fierce gales M. Eiffel’s calculations that the maximum oscillation of the tower yet experienced—since it was completed—has not exceeded a displacement of Sin, and has been altogether inappreciable even at the very summit. The whole weight amounts to about 8,600 tons, but in consequence of the immense surface of the base the pressure on the sub-soil does not exceed 4Jlbs on each unit of surface. The number of pieces of iron, which interlacing form the trellis or lattice work, is 12.000, and the number of rivets 2,500,000. There are three platforms or stories, the first 185 ft from the ground, with a superficial area of about 4,500 square yards, available for the restaurants, promenade galleries, etc. This platform is reached by four lifts, which run up and down the centre of the pillars, not perpendicularly, but on planes at a very acute angle; the motive power is water. The lifts are in two stories, having accommodation in each for some thirty people. The second platform, .360 odd feet from the ground, is 98ft square—the available area is about 1,500 square yards, and the promenade gallery round about 500 ft in length ; it is reached from the first platform by two lifts. There is but one lift from the second to the third platform, and this works in two stages, and 170 people can be taken up at one time. The area of this third platform is about 50 square feet, and it is closed over head and onall sides with movable glass sides, so that protection is afforded if required against wind and weather. There is rcom, it is said, for 800 people; but I should conceive this would be rather too much of a ciush than would be agreeable. The view, it need bo hardly said, is very extensive, the radius being not less than sixty miles, and resembles that from a balloon, the elevation being so great that Paris with its suburbs and environs presents to the eye a picturc|of still life ; not the faintest sound from the great city reaches the ear, nor without a glass can the movements of the ever-surging crowds which throng the streets and the quays bo discerned, The total cost of the tower, including the lifts, has been G,500,000fr. Of this amount the Government gave M. Eiffel the sum of 1,500,000fr, and the city of Paris the site, subject to resumption at the end oi twenty years. In order to raise the balance a company was formed—the Eiffel Tower Company—by M. Eiffel and two or three of the Paris banks, with acapital of 5,100,000fr, 180,000fr being for working expenses. There was no public issue of bonds, of which M. Eiffel himself holds the moiety. It is expected that the receipts during the Exhibition will reimburse the wholecapital,and that the revenue from visitors during the ensuing twenty years will constitute a handsome annual profit over and above the expenses. I note that some ingenious person has calculated that the coat of the tower itself, without the lifts and appurtenances, having been 5.000. this amount in 20fr gold pieces piled one on another would reach exactly the same height.
THE PARIS EXHIBITION., Issue 8009, 11 September 1889
Use these buttons to limit your searches to particular dates, titles, and more.
Print, save, zoom in and more.