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An American student in France online

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University of California.



By the Same Author


Illustrated with portraits and
views. Large 8vo. |2.oo net.

A. C. McCLURG & Co., Publishers

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Author of " In the Land of the Strenuous Life,"" '< The
Politico-Religious Crisis in France,''' etc.

Author's Translation


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A. C. McClurg & Co.


Published, April 18, 1908

Acknowledgment is made to " La Revue Hebdomadaire " (Paris),
which first published the chapters of this book in the French.

• > • • . • '

» C C • ,•• C.C.I . . •


In Harvard


In the University of Chicago



KING Midas's barber, wishing to keep
very carefully a secret that had been
confided to him, dug a hole in the
ground and buried it ; but, so the story goes,
reeds sprang up there which, when agitated
by the wind, repeated the words. I know
a better hiding-place than that for a secret,
— the preface of a book. Nobody sees what
is written there, because nobody ever reads it.
I can therefore safely disclose here a fact
concerning this book : it was not written by
a student of Chicago ; its author is neither a
schoolboy nor a citizen of Chicago. He is
too old to go to school, except to teach there ;
and the name of the city where he lives is
Paris, I alone am guilty, me^ me adsum qui

And since a fault confessed is half pardoned,
I venture to count upon your indulgence,
American reader. My French readers have
not been over severe, and if a show of modesty
were not essential to an author who would

[ vii ]


seduce his public, I might even go so far
as to say that the original French edition of
this book has been rather well received. I
have heard but a single criticism, which is
not much, I think.

But that criticism is a somewhat serious
one. They say here that my Chicago college
boy is not genuine. They insist that young
Americans who come to France find some-
thing else to occupy them than our political
and religious controversies. The music halls
attract them more than the lecture halls, and
the cabarets of Montmartre more than the
gatherings of men-of-letters. When they go
out of Paris to visit other parts of France, it is
rather to the seashore and to the great watering-
places — to Aix les Bains and to Trouville —
than to the old chateaux of the provinces.

There may possibly be something in that
view, since it has come to me from all sides ;
but I can safely affirm that I often meet
Americans in the most serious circles, both
in and out of Paris, where not only are they
very welcome, but also cut a very good
figure. Again, if it is true that your people
rarely frequent the sort of manor houses
I have described, that is not such a great

[ viii ]


disadvantage; the book is thereby made the
more interesting to foreign readers, since it
describes what they are apt to know the least
about, and since it will serve to show them that
under our apparent French frivolity — all too
much in evidence on a superficial view — there
is a serious and honest basis, and that behind
the France which amuses its guests there is
a France capable of addressing itself to their
most elevated emotions.

On the other hand you will see that I
have not concealed our faults ; if I fear any-
thing on this score, it is that I have too
much insisted upon them, having had in view
especially to assist my compatriots in an ex-
amination of their conscience. But, as so
often happens in such a case, in place of
examining their own conscience, they have
been inclined to examine another people's —
namely, yours ; so that they have declared
to me that there is not to be found in all
America a student so virtuous and clever as my
young hero. I am quite sure that they are
mistaken about that, as I found last Summer
during a very agreeable sojourn of four months
in the United States. From California to



Massachusetts I saw many universities, and had
the especial good fortune to meet intimately
some students of Chicago and of Harvard; it
is but true to say that I found in both places
young men with minds open to the considera-
tion of the highest problems of science, of art,
and of moral and religious life. I recall with
particular pleasure some college clubs and
fraternities where I met students quite equal
or even superior to Lionel J. Ferguson.

I know the defects of this book better than
anybody else, but I shall take very good care
not to expose them all in this preface, for fear
of getting myself into trouble with my pub-
lisher. I will state two of them : it speaks
only of .certain parts of France, and perhaps
it manifests too clearly the particular pre-
occupation of the moment at which I wrote.

But I could not speak of every part of
France. I chose therefore some places known
to everybody — Paris, Versailles, Rouen, —
and some other places visited by nobody —
hidden corners of Quercy, Tarn, and Auvergne,
where one can see, along with charming and
curious landscapes, the most striking examples
of our ancient manners.


If much attention is given to the poHtico-
rehgious discussions of the moment, and notably
to the separation of Church and State, pray
remember that the questions involved are
among the most important which have arisen
in France in a century, and that it was of
especial interest to our imaginary visitor to
be present at one of the crises of our national
history. I shall be very happy if I have been
able in this way to contribute something
toward making the two countries that I love
the most — France and the United States —
know each other better and love each other
more, so that they may reciprocally augment
what is best in each and diminish whatever in
either is bad.

I hope now that, if anybody happens to
read this preface, he will acquire the convic-
tion that this is a very meritorious little book
— in the opinion of its author. It remains
to be seen how it will please its American
readers ; but that is another story.


Bellevue, near Paris,
February, igoH





First View of the Capital — Mismanagement of Tramways and
Omnibuses — Careers Open to French Gentlemen — Young
Frenchmen's Views on Republicanism and Monarchy — A
Lecture on Religion and Democracy — A Debate on the
Separation of Church and State 19



Chevreuse — Port-Royal — Relics of the Abbey — Fontainebleau
— Hotel de Pompadour — Down the Seine by Meudon, Belle-
vue, Sevres, Saint-Cloud, Suresnes to Bellevue Funiculaire —
Some Conversation on the Inspiration of the Bible .... 47



To Versailles with Duke Tolzi — The Palace now a Museum —
Relics of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette — Contrast between
Louis XIV and William of Prussia, Emperor of Germany —
A Portrait of La Fayette — The Trianon Gardens and Farm 75



Rouen — Joan of Arc — The Palais de Justice — The Cathedral —
The Abbey of St. Ouen — VV^hy the Normans had only a
Transient Hold of the Countries they conquered — Nations
of the " Particularist Formation" contrasted with those of
the "Communitarian Formation" 93

[ ^J'i ]




Inventories of the Possessions of Educational and Charitable
Institutions taken by the French Government — The State
regarded as the Supreme Master of the Citizens — Opposition
to Inventories and Confiscations of Church Property — Free-
dom of the Church enhanced by Separation from the State —
The Right formerly held by Government to appoint Eccle-
siastical Dignitaries — Liberty of Episcopal Assemblies due
to Separation 115



Travelling Third Class to Souillac — Ancient Villages and Castles
in Quercy — Cordiality between the Upper Classes and the
Peasantry — A Good Parish Priest — A Two Days' Excursion
in the Valley of the Dordogne 141



Tramways in the South of France — Charming Scenery and an
Ideal Hostess — Strongly Marked Divisions in Religion and
Politics — Praise for the Military Spirit — Need for Political
Independence i73



Sickness of Bernard de Pujol — The Abbe explains the Funda-
mental Ideas of Christianity — Bernard's Mental and Spiritual
Improvement — The Liberty that is in the Church of Rome . 192



Arrival among the Mountains of Auvergne — Primitive Methods
in the Industries — Distrust of the Peasants toward the Aristoc-
racy — Government Interference with the Ballot — In the
Castle of the Due de Roccamaure — A Lecture on Church
and State — Criticism of the French Separation Law . . .211

[xiv ]




In the Home of Montalembert's Daughter — The Romance of
"Astree" — The Host's Book, "Souvenirs Politiques " —
Occurrences following the Franco-Prussian War — Reunions
of Several Generations in French Families — Books concern-
ing French Explorers in Illinois — Greatness of the History of
France in the Past 257



The Burgher Aristocracy of Saint-Etienne — Workmen's Gardens
— Vienne Cathedral — Difference between French and American
Girls 2S4.



The Character of the Lyonnese — The Hospitals of Lyons —
Organization of Philanthropic Work — Silk Manufacture and
Other Industries — Schools of Technical Instruction — The
Sanctuarj' on Fourviere — Superstitious Practices — An
Intolerant' Prelate 303



View of the Pont Alexandre III and the Esplanade des

Invalides, seen from the Grand Palais . . . Frontispiece

The Conciergerie, Paris 26

The Obelisk in the Place de la Concorde 32

Panoramic View of Paris 38

The Arc de Triomphe 44

The Cathedral of Notre Dame, Paris 50

The Palace at Fontainebleau 54

Panorama of the Seven Bridges 60

The Royal Avenue at Versailles 78

The Chamber of Louis XIV at Versailles 84

The Palace at Versailles 90

The Cathedral of Rouen . . » 94

The Nave of the Cathedral of Rouen 100

The Church at Bellevue 128

The Statue of Washington in Paris 146

A Scene in Roc-Amadour 162

A View of Carenac 166

The Cathedral of Albi 1 74

The Chateau and the Bridges, Brassac 186

Ancient Church at Meaux 196

The Chateau of Lanzac on the Dordogne 214

The Church of St. Pierre, Vienne z86

The Temple of Augustus and Livia, Vienne 294

The Cathedral of St. John, Lyons 304

The Basilica of Fourviere 316

» » », » » J «




First View of the Capital — Mismanagement of Tramways
and Omnibuses — Careers Open to French Gentlemen —
Toung Frenchmen's Views on Republicanism and Mon-
archy — J Lecture on Religion and Deinocracy — A
Debate on the Separation of Church and State.

PARIS ! What a name to conjure with !
How many books I have read about
it, and how delighted I was to ques-
tion those travellers who had been there !
To us it is both Athens and Rome ; and
until we have seen it our education remains
unfinished, our happiness incomplete. One
longs for it as for Paradise ; and hence the
saying that " good Americans, when they
die, go to Paris, and bad ones while they
live." How often during my walks by the
shores of Lake Michigan, in Jackson Park,
or on our boulevards, have I dreamt of the
enchanting city ! The avenues that we passed
going from the St. Lazare Station to our little
hotel near the Arc de Triomphe are very gay



and so different from anything that we have
at home.

My mother was so glad to see me. She
had insisted on accompanying my father to
Europe, having been over only twice and not
having made any long stay in Paris. They
have spent four delightful months here. My
father has already finished his inquiry into
social questions, the mission which had been
intrusted to him by the University. All doors
have been opened to him, and every facility
accorded for studying the many works of
both public and private enterprise. He tells
me that, on the whole, charitable institutions
are more numerous over here than with us,
but that they are less concerned than we are
in teaching the needy to help themselves.
Their methods are more charitable than edu-
cational. Still, there are signs of a marked
advance in this matter, for until now, as an
eminent thinker. Monsieur de Lapparent, has
happily expressed it, in the social army the
French have been chiefly occupied with the
ambulance department.

It is very annoying that my father will be
obliged to cross the water again in a few
weeks' time. He must be present at the
" commencement " of the University, when



he has to make a speech. I should have prof-
ited so much by his companionship. Apropos
of "commencement," I astonished the French
by telling them that this is the term we use
for the final ceremony of the scholastic year,
and I must own, with them, that it is rather
a strange one. But I differ from them in
thinking that we are wanting in family affec-
tion. I have spent such a charming afternoon
with my parents, and they were longing to
hear so many things about the two dear little
sisters who have remained behind with their
French governess ! To hear people talk over
here, one would think that we could not love
one another when at a distance.

After a long chat we had tea, and then took
a carriage from the hotel. My father soon
left us, as he had an appointment with the
Director of the Assistance Publique, and it was
my mother who had the pleasure of showing
me Paris. The weather had cleared, and the
blue sky was dotted over with fleecy clouds.

All that I had been told about Paris fell far
short of the reality. The vistas seen from the
Place de I'Etoile are wonderfully grand; all
the avenues leading out from it lose them-
selves in infinite distance ; and I can under-
stand why royal visitors make their entry from



this side of the city. Within the last few-
years the King of Spain, the King of Italy,
the King of England, and the Czar of Rus-
sia have passed this way. The French ap-
parently admire monarchy in their neighbors.
The enthusiasm they displayed during the
visits of these sovereigns appears to me to
be rather unworthy of a democracy. Still,
I ought not to forget that we, in our turn,
were quite as snobbish as regards Prince Henry
of Prussia, who was merely the brother of an

In the middle of the Place de I'Etoile there
rises a triumphal arch under which the body
of Victor Hugo rested on the eve of his pub-
lic funeral. Napoleon passed under it when
returning from his victorious campaigns, and
one of the avenues bears the name of the
Grande Armee. It was by this road, too, that
his enemies followed him in 1814, and under
which the Prussians passed in 1871. The
triumphal route continues as far as the Place
de la Concorde, where Louis XVI was guillo-
tined. In the middle of it stands an obelisk
brought from Egypt. A little farther on is
the Louvre, the residence of the former kings
of France. In front of it stretches a large gar-
den on the site of the Palace of the Tuileries,



which was burnt down by the Communists.
The memory of these souvenirs would be op-
pressive, were it not that the beauty of the
prospect, the spring-like grace of the trees and
flowers, and the harmonious expanse of the
horizon shed a sense of sweet tranquillity over
all this history. It is well that Nature and Art
have veiled these bygone deeds of men, just
as the moss, so beloved by Ruskin, renders
a ruin poetic and strengthens the crumbling
stones. On this my first day in Europe, it
is only natural that I should feel a thrill of

The drive down the Champs-Elysees does
not damp my ardor ; it is so lovely that I do
not find the name an exaggeration. Just
before arriving at the Concorde, we turn to
the right, cross the Avenue Nicolas II and the
Pont Alexandre III. These souvenirs of the
Czars displease me, but I do not stop to speak
of them. The two palaces at the sides of the
avenue are miracles of ancient art and modern
convenience. They date from the last exhibi-
tion ; our world's fairs have left no such traces.
Nothing seems impossible to French taste.
In order to show off their motor cars they
construct Athenian temples, and in the even-
ing the colossal vaulted roofs are draped and



illuminated with such fine garlands that they
recall the boudoirs of the eighteenth century ;
and all is in perfect harmony.

On the other side of the bridge a wide es-
planade leads to the Hotel des Invalides, which
is three hundred years old, but still looks quite
fresh. It is surmounted by a dome similar to
that of our Capitol, but with purer and more
harmonious lines. This dome is covered with
gold, but no one could tell me its cost. In
the very centre, under the cupola, is the tomb
of Napoleon, and his body really rests there.
What genius, what power! and yet, compar-
ing the result and development of their action,
George Washington's memory seems to me
far grander.

We arrive at the Pont de la Concorde.
Behind us is the Palais Bourbon, where the
deputies hold their sittings. Before us is a
large place bordered by other palaces ; then a
street, still called Royale, and at the end of it
the Church of St. Madeleine, which Napoleon
built as a temple to his goddess Victory. We
leave our carriage and ascend the terrace of the
Tuileries. In the distance we see the Arc de
Triomphe, which resembles a giant mirror in
a drapery of cloud, tinted red and violet by
the rays of the setting sun. All is bathed in



a crimson glory, and the Seine on our left is
like a golden stream, while the hills, wrapped
in mist, serve as a background to the blaz-
ing sky.

My mother, less naive, or perhaps more
accustomed to the sight, rouses me from my
reverie and reminds me that it is time to
return. We go down to the subway or Met-
ropolitan, and in a few minutes reach the
Place de I'Etoile. This railway is admirable.
You have only to show your ticket on enter-
ing, and as many travellers as the train will
hold can take their places. The trains are
frequent, and the stoppages short. In fact, it
is quite American.

But the other means of transport are the
most old-fashioned in the world. The tram-
way cars and the omnibuses have different
prices according to the classes, and often the
cheapest place is the best ; for instance, the
outside of the omnibus, or the hnperiale as it
is called, is the only bearable place in sum-
mer. But elegant people, especially ladies,
cannot go up without compromising them-
selves, for the simple reason that the imperiale
costs three cents, and the inside six. What
is more astonishing still is that, for precisely
similar carriages and places, there are very



different tariffs, and they appear to vary ac-
cording to the districts. But what strikes me
most in the Parisian omnibuses is their slow-
ness and the circuitousness of their routes.
Some of them have even inspired certain songs.
"Where," says an old ballad, "are the snows
of former years," and all other vanished things ?
<* Where," adds the witty Parisian, pitying
those who have embarked on so long a jour-
ney, "are the unfortunates who took the
Pantheon-Courcelles ?"

Another incredibly strange custom is the
fashion of distributing numbers to the travellers
and not allowing them to mount until they
have been called. The first day I imagined
this had something to do with passports. As
the whole series must be gone through, and as
many numbers are frequently missing, one can
imagine how much time is lost in that way.
Moreover, the same ceremony recommences
at each station, and one often sees fifteen or
twenty applicants awaiting their turn. Very
often, too, when the omnibus arrives it is either
full or perhaps has only one vacant place. In
fact, their number is often limited to a dozen
persons comfortably seated, when it would
easily hold double if, as with us, passengers
were allowed to stand. But I see my notes













are becoming as tedious as my subject, so I
will break off.

For it is tiresome to write about nothing.
As to the sights of Paris, all I could relate
would interest no one. Suffice it to say, then,
that I tired myself out in visiting as many
buildings as possible. Perhaps Europeans are
not far wrong in ridiculing our mania for
seeing everything.

On the other hand, if I simply record what
I think may please others, I shall soon be re-
duced to silence. What am I to do, then ?
After all, this is not a manual of geography
or of social science. As a rule you note
down what strikes you whenever you have a
leisure moment. Two years ago, when I
visited the Rocky Mountains, my notebook
was blank on those days when I was tired with
all the wonderful sights I had seen, while the
leisure days were filled with uninteresting
events. This was perhaps the reason why
" Smith's Magazine " refused to accept it. So
I must manage otherwise with my travels in
France. But how am I to proceed ? Well,
the end will show. Vive la liberie !

I dined out for the first time with Bernard
de Pujol. Allow me to introduce him. I



have nothing very good to say about him ;
but, as he is modest, he will not mind that.
Still it would be very unjust to say anything
harmful. He has excellent qualities, but he
makes no use of them. I love him very
much, however, because he is gentle, obliging,
refined, and he loves me also. At twenty-four
years of age — three years older than I — he
is maturer than I am, but at the same time
he is less of a man. I think that he has not
my energy. Although he reads a great deal,
he does not work at all — that appears to him
wearisome. He told me he had tried it for-
merly, but had not been able to do anything.
I have often reproached him with his inac-
tion ; he was not the least angry, nor has it
had any effect upon him. To us this seems
quite extraordinary. Still, Bernard is capable
of one kind of effort, and that is travelling.
By this means he has escaped being a complete

Having early come into possession of a large
fortune, he went to Oxford, where without
overworking himself he adopted English man-
ners and broader ideas. Later, he crossed the
ocean and visited nearly all the States, besides
Canada and a part of Mexico. I met him in

California, and we travelled over part of



Arizona and New Mexico. He has made short
cruises round Scotland, Norway, and the east-
ern part of the Mediterranean. He has also
been to India. The French are such stay-
at-home folks that these different travels have
given my friend a certain prestige.

But what extraordinary fellows his friends
are ! There were several of them at dinner,
and others came in later. We discussed many
subjects. I don't want to be severe on them,
as it appears they liked me. Bernard told me
how astonished they were to find that I was
cultured and well-bred. They admired my ideas
in general, my notions of art and my knowl-
edge of literature. The truth is, but of course
I do not boast of it, I knew much more than
they did. But what is there so extraordinary
in that ? Are we Indians ? One of the rare
things which displease one in France is to see
one's country so little known and so misjudged
in consequence. I do not know how it is
with other foreigners, but, for my part, I object
to this ignorance concerning the efforts we
make in the way of instruction of every kind

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Online LibraryFelix KleinAn American student in France → online text (page 1 of 18)