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A PARISIAN IN AMERICA



A PARISIAN IN AMERICA



BY

S. C. DE SOISSONS

AUTHOR OK
"BOSTON ARTISTS"



BOSTON
ESTES AND LAURIAT

PUBLISHERS



Co/>y riff/it, /Sg6
BY ESTES AND LAURIAT



8To f^er fHajestg, tfje American



Mr. W. D. Howells said once that in America
a book's fate is in the hands of the women.

"If they do not know what is good," said he,
"they do know what pleases them, and it is use-
less to quarrel with their decisions, for there is
no appeal from them."

Besides being a great admirer of her sex as
without woman civilization would be impossible
I also have an exalted opinion of her good
taste and exquisite refinement, and, therefore, I
entrust the fortunes of this book to her gentle

hands - S. C. de SOISSONS.

Ncivport, July 15, 1895.



"And from his native land resolved to go,

And visit scorching climes beyond the sea :
With pleasure drugged he almost longed for wo,
And e^ en for change of scene would seek the shades below."



CONTENTS.

CHAPTER PAGE

INTRODUCTION ix

I. WOMAN i

II. MEN IN AMERICA 24

III. FRANCE IN AMERICA 52

IV. MILLIONAIRES 73

V. AMERICAN NEWSPAPERS 102

VI. THE IDEAL OF THE AMERICANS .... 126

VII. COLUMBIAN FAIR 131

VIII. ART 144

IX. ARCHITECTURE 159

X. LITERATURE 174

XL Music 186

XII. PROTESTANTISM 194

XIII. SECTS 203

XIV. IMMIGRATION 215

XV. ORIGINALITY 226

XVI. NEW ENGLAND 235

XVII. CONCLUSION 245



INTRODUCTION.

IT was in the afternoon of the tenth of Septem-
ber, 1889; I was sitting in the room which
looks out upon the Opera, in the Cafe de la Paix,
sipping with my friend, Baron de Pierpont, a glass
of old Madeira, when we perceived, coming in,
Viscount de Maupeou, conductor of the cotillion,
celebrated in the Faubourg St. Germain, who had
disappeared, we thought, from Parisian life.

" Well, where do you come from ? " said I.
" Have you been to the North Pole ? "

" Vous riy ctcs pas, mon cher, I have been to
the antipodes."

" What ! You have been in the country of
millionaires; oh! that's pscJiutt ! Voyons ! tell
us something about it."

"I can't," said he, "for the simple reason that
I went only to New York, and since I found
Gotham, as those Yankees call this Mecca of all
possible nations, very dirty, I did not think it
would be agreeable to continue my wanderings
farther. So I came back, and me voila sur les
boulevards."



x INTRODUCTION.

I was amazed by this bold statement of my
elegant friend, especially as I had heard from
Miss Merrill, a very cJiic American girl, with
whom I had often waltzed last season, about the
splendor of the American world ; I determined to
see with my own eyes who was right and that
is the reason why I am in this country.

Se non vcro ben trovato, and everybody will
accept more easily my motive for coming to
America, than they will the motive of a certain
Gascon, who, at a banquet of the French colony
in Boston, said :

"After the Franco -Prussian War there were
only two men in France : myself and Gambetta.
France was too small for both of us, just as the
Roman Empire was too small for two Caesars, so
I left my country and found myself in America."

Surely investigation is a better motive than
conceit.

Of course I was acquainted with the economic
forces of this immensely rich country, from the
letters written and published some ten years ago,
by my friend and distinguished economist, M. de
Molinari ; I found an excellent explanation of the
effects of democracy on manners and on the work-
ing of the governmental machinery by my study
of the great work of Alexis de Tocqueville ; I



INTRODUCTION. xi

knew the exact means and appliances by which
in America freedom is preserved from generation
to generation, against the encroachments of polit-
ical power and the storms of popular passions,
from the writings of M. Adolphe de Chambrun ;
finally, I knew from Paris en Amerique, by my
professor, M. Laboulaye, that America has the
best fire department in the world ; of its richness
of vegetation and marvels of landscape I learned
from the brilliant pages of Count de Chateaubri-
and ; the grandson of Madame de Stael, Count
d'Haussonville, in evening dress of faultless cut,
with immaculate linen, with a gardenia in his
buttonhole, and gloves of most fashionable hue,
guided by a detective toward the slums of the
Bowery, through the narrow aisles and dirty
courtyards of the Jewish quarter in New York,
had described these features to me most vividly ;
the most serious and dignified aspects of America
were set forth in the heavy work of James Bryce,
while the sparkling wit of Max O'Rell furnished
me all the anecdotes of Chauncey Depew, and
told me as well how many millionaires there are
in America.

Yet, notwithstanding all these sources of knowl-
edge, I wanted to see for myself this Puritanic
country where, according to Charles Dickens, the



xii INTRODUCTION.

legs of pianos are modestly covered, and where
one can be married and divorced in twenty-four
hours.

And what I wanted to see, before all else, was
the American woman "The Queen of the United
States," the despotic ruler of these free people,
who do not suffer any supremacy, but tolerate,
nevertheless, with sweet smiles, the tyranny of
several millions of the fair sex.

To my great satisfaction I found the American
woman not only fin-de-sttcle, but even more than
that fin-de-globe !



A PARISIAN IN AMERICA,



CHAPTER I.

WOMAN.

A STRANGE phenomenon which I have ob-
served is, that notwithstanding her promi-
nent position in the social life of this country,
woman does not occupy, as it seems, the same
great place in the hearts, minds, imagination, and
passion of the American artists and poets.

In the first place, among the many American
painters, there are only a few who paint women.
Kenyon Cox represents her

"In the pride of her beauty,"

as Byron says ; he admires in her those graceful
and exquisite lines of beauty, which appeal more
strongly to the artist than to her " proud lord."

Thomas W. Dewing has succeeded in giving us
pictures of woman that might stand for the ideal



2 A PARISIAN IN AMERICA

American type. He represents beautiful ladies,
mostly mature women of thirty.

He has lived for a time in New England, and
those tall, languid girls of Puritan descent, en-
tirely out of place in the prosaic, tight-buttoned,
keep-up-your-appearance society, have undoubtedly
left a lasting impression upon him. Their long,
erect necks, blonde hair, pale, wistful faces, with
prominent noses, and their well-modelled lips, must
have a strange fascination for the painter. Also
as models they must possess a peculiar charm.
Their build is firm and round, mature around the
hips, with undeveloped busts, natural waist, and
an increased length from hip to knee, as a strik-
ing peculiarity.

Still a few years ago they lived in Boston, in
the old haunts of the New England bourgeoisie,
around Chester Park, but now, like the Dryads,
they have fled before the invasion of boarding-
house civilization.

Pictures representing nude women, by Mr.
Davies, are not known on account of hypocritical
ideas, but they are keen studies of womanhood.

Of course other painters, as Tarbell, Sargent,
and Chase, sometimes represent woman, but they
display the beauty of her toilet, rather than of her
body.



WOMAN. 3

The same strange phenomenon is observed
among American statuaries : St. Gaudens, H. H.
Kitson, Proctor, Dallin, are famous chiefly for the
boldness of their works representing man and not
woman.

I have before me a book, entitled " Songs of
Three Centuries," edited by John G. Whittier, for
the use of the American public.

This volume contains several hundred poetical
compositions of the world -renowned American
poets, but only a few, and those very tame and
insignificant poems, are inspired by woman.

Take the complete edition of your greatest
poets : the same fact, the very small place given to
woman, strikes you immediately. Certainly Long-
fellow's " Evangeline " pays high homage to
woman for her constant faith in love, but he
sings of sentiment rather than of her physical
beauty.

" Ah ! She was fair, exceedingly fair to behold, as she

stood with
Naked snow-white feet on the gleaming floor of her

chamber ! "

This is all that he said about her physical
beauty.



4 A PARISIAN IN AMERICA.

To his idyl of old colonial times he gives the
name, " The Courtship of Miles Standish," still
keeping the woman well out of sight. Pretty
Priscilla occupies a very small place in it.

My assertion as to the inferior place which
your writers have accorded to woman might
require a volume of proof; but I prefer to turn
the attention of my readers to Europe, and espe-
cially to France, to Paris, where woman is at
her apotheosis, in thousands of pictures, statues
and poems, written, sculptured, and painted in
her worship.

Some, who prefer to admire the costumes of
Redfern and Worth, and the hats of Heitz-Boyer,
instead of God's masterpiece, cry out against this
profusion of the nude ; but these Philistines seem
to forget that the masterpiece of Titian is a nude
figure. So is the masterpiece of Correggio, and,
in our own times, the masterpiece of Ingres. The
nude is a definite standard by which are measured
the knowledge and genius of the painter.

The same is true of the sculptor. Falguiere
became famous only by his sculptures of women.

Then why, why do American poets, painters,
and sculptors refuse to worship the American
woman, before whom the whole country is on its
knees ?



WOMAN. 5

An explanation of this fact would be to consider
it one of those strange things which can be ac-
counted for only by referring it to some pecu-
liarity of the land in which one lives, just as the
Greeks were compelled to admire the nude in all
its splendor, as the most finished masterpiece of
nature.

The names of Homer and Victor Hugo, who
chanted the praises of feminine beauty, will re-
main forever written in letters of light, will dom-
inate the ages and render Greece and France
immortal when other countries shall have been
lost to the memory of mankind !

Yes ! Let us all sing as a religious hymn, pure
as the incense before the altar, the praises of
feminine beauty, which comes to us as a fleeting
and charming dream, and brings only loveliness
and purity.

O woman ! Most beautiful creation in all of
Nature's realms, 'tis thus you come forth from the
distant dreams of my youth !

" The might the majesty of loveliness ! "

In America, they are far from being the senti-
mental and tender heroines of some European
countries, timid and submissive young girls,
pretty society women, lazy, languid, living on the



A PARISIAN IN AMERICA.

tea of sentiment, and dreaming until they die of
it of aristocratic and forbidden love.

This gracious hive of women, so fair, so deli-
cate, too ideal perhaps, like Shakespeare's Ophelia,
but worthy of adoration, however, is replaced by
a solid little battalion of modern women. The
American woman is neither languishing, nor ro-
mantic ; she lives on rare meat and live doings,
and does n't have much time for dreaming ; she
is vigorous and practical, sometimes complicated,
provided, however, that complication does not turn
her from her aim. She has much head, but little
heart. She cares less to be beautiful than do
the women in certain European countries, but she
wishes much more to have brains. She is also
more susceptible to goodness, honesty, and friend-
ship.

She does admit that the men like to live in her
intimacy and like her society, without throwing
themselves at her feet, through love. Her co-
quetry is very stylish, without any insignificant
grimaces or childish language.

And then, love plays a very little part in the
life of the American woman. In older time it
was the only occupation of woman ; to-day, her
occupations are diversified.

The times when the feeble and fair creatures,



WOMAN. 7

stretched out in hammocks and couches, dreamed
of the "spoony" pressings of hands, which oc-
curred to them days before, have passed away.
Modern woman, especially the American type, has
no time to dream. Horses, tennis, hunting, gar-
den parties, skating, etc., etc., absorb all of her
time without leaving a moment of day-dreaming.

Little by little, then, man was obliged to re-
nounce the role of protector, so dear to his
vanity in Europe ; since the American woman,
fencing, boxing, swimming, rowing, marching,
feeling herself full of suppleness and elasticity,
does not care for protection.

The American woman does not allow herself to
be carried over the brook, she jumps over it, and
often more cleverly than those to whom she would
be obliged to trust herself otherwise. She is also,
if not more intelligent, at least more "personal."
Her house, her conversation, her dresses, are not
copied exactly after the dress, conversation and
house of her neighbor on the left, and in turn
would not be copied by her neighbor on the right.
Only parvenues and stupids follow slavishly the
fashion without a care to know whether the fash-
ion is pretty.

She does not consider love as her sole affair,
and she does not repeat with Schiller :



8 A PARISIAN IN AMERICA.

" O das sie ewig griinen bliebe
Die schbne Zeit der ersten Liebe."

Why ? Because she loves more often and
quickly, and she prefers to repeat with her own
poet :

" I knew, I knew it could not last ;
'Twas bright, 'twas heavenly but 'tis past."

The American woman is generally gracious,
elegant, renssic. She likes to remain fresh and
young, and to please a long time after the " limit
of age."

She is artistic, refined, and cultivated also ; she
is willing to look and listen, and oftentimes she
really understands the artistic. There is no lack
of " woman painters," but there is a lacking of
"paintings by woman."

If one leave in the shadow certain exceptions,
one will see that a modern American woman is
charming and almost superior to the majority of
European women. She is more amusing, more
frank, more funny, and has infinite variety ;
she is more serious also. She likes noise and
pleasure ; cliiffons and even love ; she likes chil-
dren, too, but not too many of them. One
may even say that she prefers other people's



WOMAN. 9

children ; but she makes a good, intelligent, and
affectionate mother.

It is related that Demosthenes, subdued by a
woman, said : " That which he thought in a
year, a woman overturned in a night." The
history of Greek woman would be almost the
history of Greece ; and in America, as in France,
the history which does not follow woman loses
its way.

There is a descending ladder : on the top in the
White House we see the influence of a woman ;
not far from the heights we find a woman forcing
men to vote on the no-license question. Wher-
ever she appears she dictates the laws, she im-
poses her fancies, she urges her despotism.

An American writer, Mr. O. F. Adams, says
that American democracy, the pretended apostles
of equality, the levellers of privileges, have fin-
ished by establishing inequality for the benefit of
woman, by making her a privileged person par
excellence, and, reversing the Asiatic conception,
have made her a despot, and men her subjects.

The American woman is always in the fashion,

no matter what she may do, no matter what

the barbarism of her dress may be. It is seldom

that she adorns her dress, it is the dress that

adorns her.



10 A PARISIAN IN AMERICA.

The Queen promised to the bride of Prince
Geraint that she

" Will clothe her for her bridals like the sun."

For the American woman every day is her
"bridals." Every day she shines like the sun;
more, the sun does not shine in the night, while
the American is still prettier in her light evening
dress.

"When I was about twelve years old," said a
young girl to me, " I dreamed of receiving from
my pa a diamond ring, sealskin jacket, and money
for a trip to Europe. I have the ring and jacket
already, and I expect to go to Europe soon."

In fact, all American girls dream of these three
things.

. The beauty of the American woman is fascinat-
ing ; but this beauty, which lasts only three sea-
sons with a German woman, lasts a quarter of a
century with an American woman.

The American woman is not beautiful from a
sculptural point of view. If a painter had a mag-
ical palette he might make her beautiful ; he
would find in her the beginnings of all beauties ;
she is neither from the North, nor from the South ;
she blends the paleness of the snow with the



WOMAN. I I

olive of the sun. She has the composite grace of
the American eye, the German romanticism, the
English gluttony, Sevillian petulance, Italian brio ;
she is all ; that is to say, enchantment, surprise,
malice, coquetry, abandon ; she has all the virtues
of woman ; but, perhaps, she is also a cleverly-set
snare.

It is from the sources of universal and physical
beauty that the American woman has drawn her
charms. Her father and mother, united when
young in marriage for love, have transmitted the
gifts which nature lavishes upon the children of
youth and of love. Then, too, immigration has
introduced a new factor, a factor which has modi-
fied and not deformed the primitive type.

"The Hibernian, French, Italian, German strains,
mingled in her veins with the blood of the Anglo-
Saxon, have tempered with vivacity or with
morbidczza, with grace or with languor, the set-
tled characteristics which she has inherited from
her ancestors. So one can find in this country
nearly every kind of plastic beauty, the voluptu-
ous nonchalance of the Creole, the aristocratic
purity of lines of the Englishwoman, the expres-
sive and changeable physiognomy of the French-
woman, the dazzling complexion of the Irish girl.
(This is the country of delicate complexions.



I 2 A PARISIAN IN AMERICA.

There are very good ones in England, in Holland ;
but they are very apt to be coarse. There is too
much red.)"

From those different nationalities she has bor-
rowed the characteristic excellence of each ; youth
and love have done their work of elimination,
since, as we must remember, marriage in the
United States is the result of an instinctive affin-
ity, much more than in other countries.

Her penchant pushes her to cleanliness, but
still she does not die when she sees her white
tunic soiled, as does the ermine ; she prefers
to change it, if possible, for a gold dress.

She likes to dress her hair, to perfume it with in-
toxicating fragrance, to brush her pink nails, to cut
them in the form of almonds, and to bathe often.

She does not like marriage, because it tends to
spoil her figure, but she delivers herself up to it
because it promises happiness. If children come
it is by chance only.

When I told Miss X - that I intended to
write of American women, she said to me :

"You must not forget one thing."

"What one?" I asked, anxiously.

" You must not forget our grandmothers."

" Your grandmothers ?



WOMAN. 1 3

"Well, I will explain to you what I mean : the
other day my mother was telling a mutual friend
that their dear Mrs. F - had a baby.

"'Ah!' exclaimed the friend, 'how happy the
baby's grandmother will be ! ' '

Are you " in it," my charming readers ?
Would you agree with your enthusiastic admirer,
that your mothers, and, perhaps, even more, your
grandmothers, like children better than you do ?

And why ? I pray you.

You who admire Napoleon the First, you who
know his history better than that of any other
European hero, who go by thousands to visit his
majestic tomb, forget what he said about woman,
when asked by Madame de Stael what woman he
admired the most :

" Madame," was the reply of this great general
and deep thinker, "the woman who has the most
children."

Of course, it is an old story, but it is a good
one. If I were a preacher, I would often deliver
sermons upon the text :

" Qui Jiabitarc stcrilem in domo facit, matrem
filiontm lest 'ante m."

The American woman does not know snobbism,



14 A PARISIAN IN AMERICA.

that moral sickness of all time ; her gracious affa-
bility puts everybody at ease, assuring the timid
ones and encouraging the silent.

She knows many things, not only by intuition,
as the women of other nations, but also by study,
appropriating to herself the literature and poetry
of all nations, and showing in all the intense life
which is in her.

She likes to travel continually it is for her
a necessity and happiness. It is a traditional in-
stinct of her people, with a taste for the nomadic,
which recalls the large plains, the great forests,
the melancholy rivers, and gray sands of their own
country, and causes them to feel crowded.

Her nature is impressionable for all kinds of
pleasure ; she is lively, often fantastic, and vehe-
ment as a girl.

She is well equipped for the combat in which
she must engage in this country.

"As a child, the school is open to her, and from
the earliest age her sex and her charms win for
her protection and admirers among her school-
mates. As a young girl she has complete control
of herself. As a wife, divorce permits her to
break the oppressing chains."

Public opinion follows her, and protects her in
all the successive halting-places of her life.



WOMAN. 1 5

Twice a queen, the power at her command in-
toxicates her ; the worship that men render to
her, the homage that they pay her, justify, in her
eyes, her caprices and her demands.

" Assured of respectful treatment by all men,
certain to find in every man, no matter who he is,
a protector and defender, feeling that she confers
a favor by asking a service, she carries herself
with ease in an atmosphere of gallantry, a gal-
lantry which is extended more to her sex than to
her individuality, and she does not hesitate to
claim all the privileges."

The insatiable dream of fortune occupies her
soul, and her ambition takes from her, from the
beginning of her life, the power to love.

Very often she is beautiful ; she is a great
charmer always, as she has the consciousness of
her strength ; her thoughts cannot be divined
from her expression, but, if she wishes, she has
the caressing sweetness of voice with which she
captivates you ; she is a precipice covered with
flowers !

She preserves her deceiving quietness even
when moved by hatred ; and, in deepest calcula-
tions, she follows her way with an air of candor,
sowing discords which are useful to her, and never
losing sight of her object.



1 6 A PARISIAN IN AMERICA.

She is very practical in her home life and works
more than the European woman ; nowhere do
you see so many girls working for their living, and
often only to have more money to spend, as you
see in America. This struggle for life, this con-
tinuous contact with men in business offices all
day long, the gymnastic exercises so much prac-
tised in this country by the women, even of the
best society, impart to the American woman a
certain masculine character, which is evident in
her movements, in her manners, and in her
energy.

Her movements are original, so different from
the movements of European women ! How lovely
is the undulation of her body ! How pretty is the
swinging of her arms !

You know, and if not, you will know, the whim
of M. Marivaux, who was one evening in bad
humour : " It is impossible to escape from the
daughters of Eve. And yet, if one would look at
them fixedly from a certain side, they would
appear too ridiculous to make any impression on
our hearts ; they would cease to be amiable and be
no more than necessary."

But it is just this necessity that makes the
gentle sex so much a reality, and it is not neces-



WOMAN. 1 7

sary to look from a " Certain side" as the author
of " Fansses Confidences" has said.

The American woman has understood the
secret of domination better than any woman from
any other country. She understands the charm
that dominates us, that makes us her slaves, the
tenderness that bewitches us, the exigency that
makes us extremely fond of her.

She is at every turn the stimulant and main-
spring ; for her we lose ourselves and we save
ourselves.

Do not protest, it is so.

A complete explanation of this state of things
would fill volumes, and it would be interesting, too.

Then, certainly, the American woman is very
" smart " in knowing how to exploit her suprem-
acy. But how would you explain to me her
almost unrestrained penchant for Germans ? Is
it possible that, fascinated by a juggled victory
over a nation which is most chivalrous towards


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