On the eve of the Revolution, one police record notes that 40,000 people in the city of Paris were under surveillance for ‘immorality’. This is an extraordinary figure (the population of Paris was then roughly 400,000). It demonstrates, if nothing else, that the greatest concern of government was not how it fulfilled its functions of governance but who it actually governed. – Andrew Hussey
Note that at its most crammed, Salpêtrière could hold close to 40,000. Add to that the various prisons, plus all the people living less-than-willingly in hospitals, convalescent homes, and convents, and you have a very large number indeed. Conceivably you could have a city where more than 25% of its population was either locked up or being watched.
All of which I’m off to see, in a few hours. Quiet morning now; anticipating the inner silence of a solitary journey. The cats are on edge, the sun is not yet up. Gathering myself for a long flight and a taste of winter on the other side.