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Title: English Pharisees and French Crocodiles - and Other Anglo-French Typical Characters
Author: O'Rell, Max, 1848-1903
Language: English
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                          ENGLISH PHARISEES
                                 AND
                          FRENCH CROCODILES.



                          ENGLISH PHARISEES
                          FRENCH CROCODILES
                                 AND
               _OTHER ANGLO-FRENCH TYPICAL CHARACTERS_

                                  BY
                              MAX O'RELL

         AUTHOR OF "A FRENCHMAN IN AMERICA," "JONATHAN AND HIS
         CONTINENT," "JOHN BULL, JUNIOR," "JACQUES BONHOMME,"
                   "JOHN BULL AND HIS ISLAND," ETC.


                               NEW YORK
                      CASSELL PUBLISHING COMPANY
                       104 & 106 Fourth Avenue


                         COPYRIGHT, 1892, BY
                     CASSELL PUBLISHING COMPANY.

                        _All rights reserved._

                      THE MERSHON COMPANY PRESS,
                            RAHWAY, N. J.



TO JONATHAN.


You have been kind enough to receive favorably two volumes of
unpretentious impressions of your great and most hospitable country,
published in 1889 and 1891.

You are a dear friend and a delightful fellow. You are on the road that
will safely lead you to the discovery of everything that can insure the
prosperity of the land of which you are so justly proud.

Yet the Old World can teach you something; not how to work, but how to
live.

I have drawn a few sketches for you. Perhaps they will show you that
people can be happy without rolling in wealth, or living in a furnace.

Take up this little book and, lighting a cigar, lie down quietly on the
grass and read it under the shade of a tree.



CONTENTS.


  CHAPTER                                                         PAGE

      I. FOREIGNERS                                                  1

     II. JOHN BULL UP TO DATE                                        9

    III. JACQUES BONHOMME, THE LANDED PEASANT-PROPRIETOR OF FRANCE  17

     IV. JACQUELINE, THE FORTUNE OF FRANCE                          27

      V. JOSEPH PRUDHOMME, THE JOG-TROT MIDDLE-CLASS FRENCHMAN      33

     VI. ENTERTAINING NEIGHBORS                                     47

    VII. FRENCH IMPULSIVENESS AND BRITISH SANGFROID ILLUSTRATED BY
         TWO REMINISCENCES                                          53

   VIII. ENGLISH PHARISEES AND FRENCH CROCODILES                    57

     IX. FRENCH AND ENGLISH SOCIAL FAILURES                         69

      X. HIGH-LIFE ANGLO-FRENCH GIBBERISH AS USED IN FRANCE AND
         ENGLAND                                                    79

     XI. HUMOR, WIT, AND HIBERNIANISM                               87

    XII. THE MAL DE MER                                             95

   XIII. BRITISH PHILOSOPHY AND FRENCH SENSITIVENESS               107

    XIV. THE FRENCH SNOB                                           123

     XV. A SUCCESS AS AN ANGLOPHOBIST. (THE LATE MARQUIS DE
         BOISSY)                                                   127

    XVI. WOMAN WORSHIP                                             131

   XVII. FAITH AND REASON                                          139

  XVIII. THE WORSHIP OF THE GOLDEN CALF                            153

    XIX. WHY THE FRENCH WERE BEATEN IN 1870                        173

     XX. ENGLAND WORKS FOR HERSELF. THE WORLD OWES HER NOTHING     177

    XXI. THE SPIRIT OF DESTRUCTION AND THE SPIRIT OF CONSERVATISM  183

   XXII. ORDER AND LIBERTY                                         191

  XXIII. THE HUMORS OF POLITICS                                    209

   XXIV. LORDS AND SENATORS                                        225

    XXV. WHAT FRANCE HAS DONE TO MERIT THE RESPECT OF THE WORLD    231



ENGLISH PHARISEES AND FRENCH CROCODILES.



CHAPTER I.

FOREIGNERS.


People very often speak ill of their neighbors, not out of wickedness,
but merely out of laziness; it is so much easier to do so than to study
their qualities and all the circumstances that might oblige you to
change your opinion.

For instance, some fifty years ago, a great English wit, Sydney Smith,
said that it required a surgical operation to make a Scotchman
understand a joke.

Well, an English joke, he probably meant.

However, the satire was neatly expressed. When the English get hold of
a good joke, and see it, it lasts them a long time.

The Scotch are a hundred times more witty and humorous than the English;
but John Bull still goes on affirming that "it requires a surgical
operation to make a Scotchman understand a joke."

       *       *       *       *       *

If such misunderstanding can exist between the English and the Scotch,
just imagine what feelings the natives of a land can inspire in
foreigners.

Oh! that word _foreigner_!

In some ears it sounds like bastards. In some people's minds, it is the
synonym of bad. The English greengrocer, for instance, divides his
asparagus into large and small heads. The fine large ones he binds
together and sells at high prices under the name of English asparagus.
The bundles of threads at one shilling figure in his shop window as
_foreign_.

In England, the adjective _English_ is synonymous with _excellent_. In
France, we have an adjective that signifies _excellent_, too, and that
is the adjective _French_. Do but make an observation to a French
shopkeeper upon the price of his goods, and he will promptly answer: "I
keep a cheaper article, but it is naturally of greatly inferior quality.
Would _Monsieur_ like to see my English stock?" In French commerce,
_English_ is synonymous with _worthless_.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now, what is a foreigner?

No man was born a foreigner.

Once an American said to me, on board a steamer, sailing from Liverpool
to New York: "You are a foreigner, I guess."

"Well," I replied, "not yet. I shall be, when I get to your country."

       *       *       *       *       *

What is a foreigner?

As a rule, a foreigner is a good fellow, brought up by worthy parents,
and belonging to a country quite as good as yours.

       *       *       *       *       *

Nations may be well or badly governed. They may possess hot or cold
climates, indifferent or beautiful scenery. The manners and customs of
their inhabitants may be utterly different. But the most stupid
statement that can possibly be made is that some nations are better or
worse than others.

       *       *       *       *       *

We French people ought not to be a closed letter to the foreigner, for
Heaven knows we make no attempt to hide our defects, and I might even
add that if we did study to hide them, instead of boasting of them, we
might cut quite as good and moral a figure as the most proper inhabitant
of the British Isles or of the State of Maine.

We offer ourselves to criticism so unreservedly, owning our
shortcomings with such frankness, such _abandon_, that it ill becomes
our neighbors to find fault with us. Indeed, we are a nation that
confesses with a gay candor that should disarm unkind criticism.

Yes, the foreigner ought to be able to read, as in an open book, that
good, warm-hearted, France that he hardly looks at. For him, France is
Paris; Paris that supplies him with pleasures for a fortnight, and that
he despises when he is satiated. The real France, peaceful and
laborious, he knows nothing about beyond what he has seen of it from the
windows of a railroad car.

On arriving at home again, he writes to his friends:

"I have just returned from France. What a country it is! Ah! I have seen
pretty sights, I can assure you! I will tell you all about it in
private, when we meet. All I can say now is, that I thank God that I was
born an Englishman."

Here is a good fellow who has undoubtedly visited the wrong places.

The Frenchman is no better. He comes to London for a week on business.
(I say "on business," because nobody would think of coming to London on
pleasure), and profits by his visit to go and see Madame Tussaud's
Exhibition. Then he returns home, and exclaims, parodying Victor Hugo's
celebrated lines: "How proud a man is to call himself a Frenchman when
he has looked at England."

He has looked at England, it is true, but he has not seen it.

To _look_ is an action of the body. To _see_ is an action of the mind.

       *       *       *       *       *

When people travel in foreign lands, they often make two kinds of
mistakes.

Firstly, they are liable to visit the wrong places, like the Englishman
who returned home "thanking God he was born an Englishman."

Secondly, they draw conclusions too quickly.

Let us illustrate this.

When English people alight at a French hotel and find no soap on the
washstand, do you believe they conclude from this that the French carry
their own soap in their trunks when they travel? Not they. They conclude
that the French do not wash, or that, if they do, their ablutions are
performed by means of a corner of a handkerchief dipped in water.

Mark Twain, the prince of American humorists, exclaims upon entering the
bedroom of a French hotel: "What, waiter, no soap! Don't you know that
soap is indispensable to an Englishman or an American; and that only a
Frenchman can do without it?"

It is true that you find soap on the washstands in English or American
hotels; but the English and their American cousins may perhaps be
astonished to hear that a true-born Frenchman would have as much
repugnance to using hotel soap, as they would to using a toothbrush
that they might find on a lodging-house washstand. Some people like
second-hand soap; some do not. We will even make bold to inform them
that a great many French ladies are so particular as to carry about a
supply of bedroom towels with them when they travel.



CHAPTER II.

JOHN BULL UP TO DATE.


Would you know what an Englishman is--let him be a duke's son, officer
in Her Majesty's service, student, schoolboy, clerk, shopboy, gentleman,
or street rough?

Well, an Englishman is a lusty fellow, fearless, hardy, and strong-knit,
iron-muscled, and mule-headed, who, rather than let go a ball that he
holds firmly in his arms, will perform feats of valor; who, to pass this
ball between two goals, will grovel in the dust, reckless of lacerated
shoulders, a broken rib or jawbone, and will die on a bed of suffering
with a smile upon his lips if he can only hear, before closing his eyes,
that his side has won the game.

Multiply this Englishman by the number of the stars in the firmament,
and you will arrive at a pretty correct idea of England's martial, if
not military, force.

The Englishman does nothing by halves. His favorite adjective is
_thorough_. The more difficulties he has to surmount the more he is in
his element; he is a curious mixture of lion, mule, and octopus.
Outdoing Milo of Crotona, he would manage to withdraw his wrist from the
cleft of the oak.

Mr. Gladstone said one day (many years ago): "When I work, I work as
hard as I can; when I run, I run as fast as I can; when I jump, I jump
as far as I can." He might add now: "When I get into a mess, I plunge
into it over head and shoulders."

       *       *       *       *       *

To three qualities I ascribe the success of John Bull: his tenacity, the
coolness of his head, and the thickness of his skin.

Take an Englishman to visit the ruins of some old castle: he will not
rest until he has thrust his nose into every nook and cranny of the
place, and climbed the most crumbling walls, at the risk of breaking his
neck over and over again. He has seen nothing if he has not seen all.
You may think yourself lucky if he has not profited by your back being
turned for a moment, to go and hoist the Union Jack on the summit of the
highest tower. That is a little weakness of his that makes him a trifle
inconvenient occasionally, I must say; but, you see, one cannot get on
in this world without a certain aptitude for making one's self at home.

He conquers the world for the good of the world. When he goes after
pastures new, he takes the Bible with him. It will not be long before
the natives have the Bible, and he their land. On arriving upon his new
field of operation, the missionary places the Bible in the hands of the
natives, and thus addresses them: "My dear Brethren, lift your eyes to
Heaven, and pray. Lift your eyes--higher--higher--still higher--that's
it. Now close them, and do not open them until I tell you--that's
it--pray--there--now open your eyes, you are saved."

When the worthy natives open their eyes, their territory is gone.

Truly, a strange being, but an interesting subject of study, is this
same Englishman. Capable of combining a thousand different personages,
of playing a thousand different parts, of doing in Rome (to use his own
words) as the Romans do; extreme in each of his acts, presenting the
most striking contrasts, but always guided by his reason. Fiery patriot,
yet calmly bearing the greatest humiliations while awaiting the
propitious moment for taking his innings. In the temple, a publican,
crying aloud, "O Lord, I am but a miserable sinner!" Outside its door, a
Pharisee, setting up for a marvel of virtue. Worshiper of Mammon and
Jehovah, the man most concerned in the interests of the next world, and
most wrapped up in the concerns of this.

In the singular, a man upon whose word you can rely as you would upon a
trusty sword; in the plural, a people who have too often merited the
epithet "perfidious." At home, preaching temperance, even to the
forswearing of all drinks but water; abroad, not only encouraging, but
enforcing the opium trade. At home, prosecuting the individual that
ill-uses an animal, unless, indeed, the animal be a wife; abroad,
setting a price upon the head of a recalcitrant foe. At home, punishing
with imprisonment the people who obstruct the rowdy processions of the
Salvation Army mountebanks; in India, sending to prison the same
mountebanks, who, in their zeal, might create religious difficulties
among a nation that he has subdued.

Opportunist _par excellence_, he never asks all or nothing. He accepts a
little as being better than nothing; and thus it is that little by
little, without shock or violence, without revolutions, he perfects the
machinery of his constitution.

Everything John Bull does is perfect. When anything goes wrong, he knows
where to lay the blame: he keeps Scotchmen, Irishmen, and Welshmen
conveniently at hand for that purpose.

At prayer time, a man appearing somewhat uncomfortable. When he prays,
he makes a grimace, or hides his face in his hat, and reminds one of
Heinrich Heine's sayings, "that a blaspheming Frenchman must be a more
pleasing object in the sight of God than a praying Englishman."

Also watch John Bull as the collection is going on. Hear him sing at the
top of his voice

  Were the whole realm of nature mine,
    That were an offering far too small
  Love so amazing, so divine
    Demands my life, my soul, my all.

And all the time see how carefully he feels his pockets to be quite sure
that it is a three-penny bit that he has got hold of.

       *       *       *       *       *

And what a diplomatist he is! Ask him for a reform, and he will stare at
you astonished, assuring you that all is for the best in the best of
worlds. But shake your fist at him, and show him that you mean to have
that reform, and he will smile, and say: "Oh, that's all right, I beg
your pardon, I didn't know that you were in earnest."

       *       *       *       *       *

To sum up:

Worshiping his old monarchy, devoted to his old institutions, but
ravenous for justice and liberty, he would be ready again to-day to
demolish both monarchy and constitution, as he did in the seventeenth
century, if his liberty ran the least danger. In politics, possessing
the virtues that are indispensable to the prosperity of a
nation--respect of the law and respect of power clearly manifested--he
always bows to the decision of a majority. Refusing to submit to
despotism in any shape or form, he himself keeps in order and discipline
all his paid guides and governors: his queen, his princes, his
ministers, his generals, his judges, his priests.

Wise, industrious, and persevering, never doubting his strength, above
all minding his own business, and imposing upon one and all their
attributions and duties, from his sovereign down to the humblest
citizen, he has chosen for his motto:

  Fais bien ce que fais.



CHAPTER III.

JACQUES BONHOMME, THE LANDED PEASANT-PROPRIETOR OF FRANCE.


Jacques Bonhomme is a small landowner, fond of his country, his cottage,
his fields, his cow, and his _gros sous_. His great aim is to be
independent of the world, and to this end he takes great care of his
pence, and has no need of any French John Bright to tell him that if he
does so, the pounds will take care of themselves; it is a sentiment
inborn in him. If you wish to make him happy, when he brings you a load
of wood or a cask of cider, pay him in silver five-franc pieces--his
coin of predilection. He will take gold without repugnance, but will
look askance at a banknote. If you were to tender him a check, the odds
are ten to one that he would immediately go for a policeman.

He does not seek to imitate the dweller in cities, either in his habits,
speech, or dress. All he has on his back is not worth more than four or
five francs, but his blouse is new when he buys it, and it belongs to
him, as my black coat belongs to me. His food costs him about fourpence
or fivepence a day at the outside, but it is wholesome and abundant. He
keeps early hours and saves his candles, he lives a healthy life and
saves doctors' bills. When he lies down to die, it is in his own bed,
and his parish has not to pay for his funeral.

Every French village has its poor, but pauperism is unknown, for Jacques
Bonhomme is charitable, and he always finds means to send a basin of
soup to a neighbor whom he knows to be in want of one. It is only for
the loafer that he has no pity; when he has called a fellow-creature
_fainéant_, he has used the strongest invective in his vocabulary.

In politics, he takes very little interest, if any. All governments are
acceptable to him, except perhaps the one that happens to be in power
when he gets bad weather for the harvest. How else explain the fact
that changes of government have always been made in Paris without his
sanction, or even his opinion being asked for; and that the seven
million five hundred thousand men who vote for the Republic to-day, are
the seven million five hundred thousand who, when they were asked by the
Emperor, in the year of the Plebiscite, whether they would still have
him or not, answered almost to a man: "I will."

Jacques Bonhomme scarcely knew what a Plebiscite was; but he went to see
his parish priest, who said to him:

"Are you married, Jacques?"

"Yes, _monsieur le curé_."

"Well, and what did they make you say on your wedding day?"

"_Ma foi, monsieur le curé_, they made me say, _I will_."

"Well, my good fellow, that is all the Emperor asks you to say; that is
voting."

Whereupon Jacques went and threw his _oui_ in the electoral box.

There is one form of government, however, of which he would dread the
return: the government of the _curés_. He has not forgotten the tithe
and the _corvée_, nor the days when the monks used to come and pay
little visits to his wife and his cupboard, to bless his children, and
relieve him of his superfluous butter and eggs.

He is no great churchgoer; yet, when he meets his parish priest, he
touches his cap, but almost as he would touch it to an equal.

He is beginning to know how to hold a pen, but he rarely uses one except
for the purpose of adding up his little accounts. As to letter-writing,
he sees no fun in a frivolous pastime that would cost him three _sous_.

He has been placed by Nature on a fertile soil that yields him all he
needs, and if you were to talk to him of emigration, he would stare and
ask you what crime he had committed to deserve transportation. There is
no more home-abiding creature upon the face of the earth.

You may tell him you are going round the world. He will let you go. He
is not jealous.

On the wall of the village schoolroom he has seen a map of the world,
but although he is willing to believe that it fairly represents the
earth we live on, he would fain have seen the name of his dear village
on it. He doubts not that the earth is round, since his _curé_ and his
schoolmaster say so; but the only proof he has of it is the sight of the
line of horizon that greets his eyes, when he climbs the hill-top.

I know two or three of these honest French workers, who were induced to
go to Paris in 1878, to see the Universal Exhibition. Such was their
suspicion of the gay capital that, before setting out, they sewed their
golden louis in the lining of their coats, and had their wills made by
the notary.

       *       *       *       *       *

The French peasant is peaceful, sober, and laborious. He possesses in a
remarkable degree that invaluable quality than which there is no higher
intelligence for the solution of the great problem of existence, which
consists in patiently accepting one's fate, however hard it may be, and
making the best of it. His ideal of life is the independence which is
the fruit of labor, and he is satisfied with very little in the days of
his strength, because the prospect of eating his own bread when his
strength is gone makes him happy. He is thrifty and self-denying, but he
is not deficient in any of the generous sentiments. He befriends his
poorer relatives, he can be hospitable and charitable, and a patriot,
too, when occasion calls, as history has proved. But he is no
fire-eater, no yearner after social regeneration by baptism of blood, no
dreamer of new worlds to conquer, nor the revival of dying feuds in
ghastly wars. The surging passions of the capital, bred and fed by vice
and improvidence, are horrible to him. He wishes the world to be at
peace, so that he may be left alone, and be allowed to raise his flocks
and grow his corn and wine in peace.

It is when he is making a purchase, at the fair or at the market, that
Jacques is to be seen in his element.

Look at him as he takes a preliminary turn or two around the little
rickety stall. He hesitates a long while before making up his mind; he
knows that if he seems to have a fancy for any particular article, he
will probably be asked a good price for it. So it is only cautiously,
and with a look of indifference on his face, that he at length draws
near. Next, taking up the coveted object with the limpest of fingers, he
gives off sundry little grunts of disapprobation. He turns it over and
over, looks at it well on all sides, shakes his head, and invariably
finishes by dropping it back in its place again.

Then he turns, and makes as though he would go away, but after having
taken a few steps, he brings up, comes back, and indicating the object
of his maneuvers with a contemptuous finger, says to the vender:

"What do you want for _that_?"

And you should see the face he makes as he says "_that_."

He has scarcely heard the reply before he exclaims: "You mean that for a
joke, I suppose."

Watch him a little later, as he goes off, carrying his purchase in
triumph, and you will plainly see that he has made a bargain.

If Solomon had known Jacques Bonhomme, we might be inclined to think
that it was he whom the Hebrew king had in his mind's eye, as he wrote:
"It is naught, it is naught, saith the buyer; but when he has gone his
way, then he boasteth."

Jacques' manner is no less remarkable when he has to part with the value
in cash.

He seldom carries his money in his trousers' or waistcoat pocket. He
confides it to the depths of a long purse, from which it is only to be
extracted with difficulty, and this purse is hidden inside his blouse,
and carefully attached to it by a strong leather string.

When the operation of paying has to be performed, Jacques gently lifts
his blouse, and, making a rather wry face, draws forth his purse from
its hiding-place. In the act of untying the leather string, he is as
unhappy-looking a creature as you may well behold. He rarely faces the
enemy on these occasions. He turns his back to you, and pretends to have
great difficulty in getting his money out of his recalcitrant purse.
Perhaps he hopes you will get tired of waiting, and say to him: "Never
mind, Jacques, you can pay me another day."

When at last he has the money in his hand, he turns toward you, holds it
out, draws it back, but eventually makes up his mind to the loss of this
little portion of his patrimony.

Then he begins to wonder whether you have not taken him in; but, as it
is too late to draw back, he resolves that he will be a match for you
next time.



CHAPTER IV.

JACQUELINE, THE FORTUNE OF FRANCE.


Jacques Bonhomme's wife is the fortune of France. Hard-working, thrifty,
sober, you will always see her busy, either working in the field,
selling her wares in the market-place of the nearest town, or engaged
about her little household. She is the personification of industry, and
when the winter of life comes on, you will find her by the chimney
corner, or near the cottage door, keeping watch over the little ones,
while she knits or spins; it is with her needles or her distaff in her
hand that she peacefully passes away from earth. Not an hour in the life
of the good Jacqueline has been spent in indolence.

It is she who hides the five-franc pieces in the corner of her linen
cupboard, only to be taken out when there is an opportunity of rounding
off the little family domain. Shares, bonds, and all such lottery
tickets, she leaves for the small _bourgeois_ of the town, who love to
wait their turn at the door of the Treasury Office on the day of a
national loan. No papers for her; what she likes is a field or a cow,
something she is quite sure to find in its place in the morning, when
she wakes up.

It is on market-day that you should see her! She makes light of a ten or
twelve-mile walk to the chief town of her district, carrying a basket
loaded with fruit or vegetables on each arm. In the evening, you may
meet her with baskets empty, but pockets full, trudging back to her
peaceful cottage--the center of all her affections. Follow her along the
road a little, and you will see that, as she goes, she manages to busy
her fingers on a pair of stockings for the little ones.

Her daughter does not wear fringes on her forehead, feathers on her hat,
fifty-cent diamonds in her ears, or flounces on a second-hand skirt;
but, though she is dressed in a plain coarse serge gown, and a simple
snowy cap, her round rosy cheeks tell you that she is healthy, and a
pair of eyes, that stare at you like the daisies in her father's field,
tell you that she is pure.

When she goes into service--which is often the case--every month, as she
receives her wages, she quietly pays a little visit to the savings bank
of the town.

When the English servant receives her monthly wages, she straightway
goes to buy a new hat and get photographed in it.

I will refrain from speaking of the duchesses who condescend to act as
"helps" to the American public.

       *       *       *       *       *

And the patriotism of her! Ah, let me here pay my humble tribute of
admiration and gratitude that she has so great a claim to! Who among us
French has not kept, engraven on his memory, the _souvenir_ of the
devoted peasant women of Normandy, Picardy, of Alsace and Lorraine, and
all they did for us in that terrible year that would have seen the death
of France, if France could die? Who among us has not admired and blessed
them? With a sad smile on her face, how kindly the poor Jacqueline
welcomed the weary soldier, worn out with fatigue and hunger! And, while
the rich _bourgeois_ too often received us with a frown, as he muttered,
"More soldiers!" her greeting was always kindly. "Come in, my poor
lads," she would cry; "you are tired and hungry. We have not much to
offer here, but you shall have a bed to-night, if it is but a bed of
straw, a good soup, and a rasher of bacon, or whatever there is in the
cupboard. That will do you good. My own poor lad is fighting somewhere;
it is many weeks ago now that I heard from him, but I hope some kind
soul is doing for him to-night what I am doing for you." And the good
creature would prepare her vegetables, put the soup on the fire, make up
beds for us around the hearth, and give us old soft shoes for our poor
blistered feet. And when, in the morning, we left her hospitable roof,
we would say, "_Allons, maman, adieu et merci_. God bless you for all
you have done for us." And as we went our way, she, standing on the
threshold of her door, would wave her handkerchief, and watch the
regiment out of sight. Then she would turn away, and the evening found
her ready to do the same for the next weary band of men that halted at
her door.


Oh! my good peasant folk of France, you are the fortune of your country,
and you also, with your rustic simplicity, are its generous heart. It is
among you that tired human nature drinks deep draughts of pure
life-giving air, and forgets the struggles of the city, its noisy
pleasures, its ephemeral joys, its jealousies and burning hatreds; it is
in your midst that the soul is tuned into harmony with mankind, and man
feels at peace with all the world, as he looks at the bright spring
blossoms, breathes the intoxicating perfume of the humid forest, and
gazes at Nature, as she emerges from her bath of dew to robe herself in
a raiment of light.



CHAPTER V.

JOSEPH PRUDHOMME, THE JOG-TROT MIDDLE-CLASS FRENCHMAN.


Joseph Prudhomme, whom the Anglo-Saxon people are fond of representing
as a fighting cock, sighing constantly after glory and conquest, is a
modest proprietor, peaceful, home-loving, steady-going, whom his mother
calls "_petit_," and his wife leads by the nose.

Glory and conquests! he has had enough of all that: it is peace that he
asks for at the top of his voice. Like his social inferior, Jacques
Bonhomme, the only conquest that he hankers after, is the conquest of
that independence which is assured by a safe investment at three or
three and a half per cent.

Joseph is not wealthy, but he is rich, rich like most of us, not in that
which he possesses, but in that which he knows how to do without. He is
rich, because the little he has got is always safe and stable.

It is stability in fortunes and the proper distribution of wealth over a
nation which constitute real riches, and that is why France, who has now
more than six millions of contented landed proprietors, is probably, in
the proper sense of the word, the richest nation in the world.

Joseph is by no means a great speculator. Economical and industrious, he
quickly goes on his sober way, until he has amassed the snug little sum
that will allow him to live at his ease.

To have from one to two thousand dollars a year, such is his aim. As
soon as he has attained it, he knocks off work and takes life easily,
devoting his time to his wife and family.

Economy is the very genius of France. The peasant buys a bit of land;
the working classes put something in the savings bank, which, at the
present moment, has more than $450,000,000 in its coffers. The middle
classes buy government securities. Very few people speculate.

In France, everybody runs after comfort, but few run after wealth. When
an American has a million, he must have two, and then ten. He forgets
that he can possess one million, but cannot possess ten, without losing
his peace of mind and happiness. The Frenchman wants comfort; he wants
enough to establish his children, educate his boys, portion his
daughters, and spend his old days in quietness. He wants no more. In
France, we have no Jay Goulds. If a Suez Canal was made, it did not owe
its existence to a few capitalists, but to hundreds and thousands of
workers who brought their savings.

       *       *       *       *       *

When Joseph has retired from business, he begins to dream of honors. The
words Town Counselor, District Counselor, and Mayor, are pleasing to his
ear, inasmuch as these honorable posts enable their holders to wear
uniforms. And Joseph has a decided weakness for uniforms and gold
braid. A sword specially; a sword adds an inch or two to his stature.

He is fond of making sounding phrases, and his signature is a
masterpiece of inimitable calligraphy.

His game of predilection is dominoes. When he plays at loto, he never
fails to add, after announcing the number seven, _la pipe à Thomas_.

When he sends twenty francs to his boy, he scrupulously seals the
envelope in five places, and stares incredulously, if you tell him that
the English often stuff a bundle of banknotes into their letters, and do
not take the trouble to register them.

He has the name of being a Republican. I am willing to believe him one,
since he now votes for the Republic; but it is less from profound
conviction than from the dread of hearing that barricades are being
erected in Paris, that he votes for the government of the day. "_Beati
possidentes!_" he cries, there is nothing like tranquillity.

He is administered to his heart's content.

He belongs to a little town, administered by a mayor, two deputy-mayors,
and a municipal council; his little town forms part of an
_arrondissement_, administered by a sub-prefect and a council of
_arrondissement_; his _arrondissement_ forms part of a department,
administered by a prefect, a council of prefecture, and a general
council; his department forms part of France, administered by a
President of the Republic, a ministerial council, a council of state, a
Senate, and a Chamber of Deputies. Add to this, the general council of
agriculture, the general council of commerce, the council of
manufactures, the council of mines, the council of roads and bridges,
the council general of prisons, the council of war, the council of
finance, the council of the navy, the council of _prud'hommes_, the
board of health, and a hundred others, and you will see that, if Joseph
pays taxes, he has the satisfaction of knowing that he is counseled
abundantly.

       *       *       *       *       *

His accounts are kept by an administration that "all Europe envies," and
carried to the fourth decimal, a luxury which costs him a good fourth of
his revenue in _personnel_ and red tape, but which on the other hand
saves the Treasury at least one dollar per annum. The centimes column is
guaranteed exact by every French clerk; this ought to console Joseph for
the little errors which may exist in the column of the millions. In a
ministerial office, a mistake of a centime puts the whole staff in
commotion, from the ground floor to the roof, and if a clerk were to
propose to replace the centime out of his own pocket, and thus set
matters right, he would be looked upon as a dangerous man, and his
career would be blasted, unless, indeed, the affair should make some
noise, in which case he might see himself provided with a seat in the
Chamber of Deputies.

       *       *       *       *       *

In business, Joseph's probity is almost proverbial, and his punctuality
carried to a ridiculous point. On quarter day, he pays his rent at the
stroke of noon. In England, the landlord can only demand his rent
twenty-one days after it is due, and bills are only presented after
three days' grace. His commerce is hindered by his exaggerated attention
to trifles, but when he sells you a pair of boots, you can put them on,
and walk in them.

He is jealous of his reputation, and a compliment paid to the quality of
his merchandise gives him as much pleasure as the profit he gets out of
it.

I do not hesitate to affirm that not only does the small French
_bourgeois_ not covet wealth, but that he is almost afraid of it. I
might name many old provincial parents, who have written long letters to
their sons, commencing with congratulations upon the literary,
artistic, or other successes they had met with in Paris, and ending with
lamentations over the financial ones which had resulted therefrom. These
good people were full of fear lest money should raise a barrier between
them and their dear son, and thus cloud the happiness of the family.

       *       *       *       *       *

Joseph rarely renounces his bachelor's life before the age of thirty.

When he marries, woman is not exactly an enigma to him; but do you think
he is any the worse husband for that? Not he. The purity of his wife
becomes an object of worship for him; he recognizes in her a moral being
so superior to himself that he soon abdicates all his prerogatives in
her favor; and he consoles himself for the authority that he rarely
knows how to maintain in his home, with the thought that the
administration of his affairs is in safe hands. Taking life placidly, he
grows round and rubicund; he is well cared for, petted, coddled; he
lives in clover. His wife is his friend, his confidante. If from one
cause or another the family revenue diminishes, she knows it as soon as
her husband; with her economy and good management, she faces the danger;
with her energy, she wards off ruin from her threshold. In important
matters, as well as in the smallest, she has both a consultative and
deliberative voice. Content with her supremacy in the home circle, she
asks for no other rights; politics are not in her line. And yet a French
woman is far from lacking patriotism. Those same timid girls and tender
mothers who could not bear us out of their sight, are the women who said
to us, not long since: "Do not think about us; your country claims you,
do your duty."

       *       *       *       *       *

Provincial life in France is narrow, limited in the highest degree, I
must admit; but what wealth of love and happiness those little
coquettish-looking white houses hold! They are so many nests!

The greatest charm about our provincials, who are constantly made the
butt for Parisian witticisms, is that they do not change.

When you live that feverish Parisian life, that consumes you by
overtaxing your intellectual powers, what a treat it is to go and see
the old folks, in the old house that is standing there just as you
remember it in your childhood! Every room, every piece of furniture, is
linked in your memory with some event of bygone days. How you revive in
that old place!

In the thickest darkness you could find everything. Your dear old mother
is there in her chair by the window, in her favorite place, which has
not altered so much as an inch. The old servant, who danced you on her
knee, watches at the door for the first glimpse of the carriage that
brings you. And the cries of joy, and the clapping of hands! What
welcome awaits you! Everyone speaks at the same time, you are taken by
storm, nobody thinks of checking his delight (in France, joy is allowed
free outlet). You go up to the room that used to be yours to shake off
the dust of your journey. Nothing is altered, everything is there, just
where it always was in the old days; you feel as if you had grown twenty
years younger. You go down, and in the dining room you see the large
fireplace that has undergone no stupid modernizing. Will you ever forget
the bloodcurdling ghost stories that you listened to so breathlessly in
the twilight, as you roasted chestnuts in the embers? What shivers of
horror would run through you as you nestled close up in that chimney
corner! And so all the past revives again: the April walks in quest of
dewy primroses, the scamper over the daisy-strewn fields in the glorious
summer sunshine; the clandestine raids on the pear trees, and the
scoldings from mother, who was sure to read the history of the afternoon
in the meek faces and torn raiment.

The Frenchman of the provinces wraps himself up in his family, almost to
the exclusion of the outer world. In the streets he salutes his
acquaintances with a profound bow; on New Year's Day he pays them a
visit of ceremony, offers the ladies a packet of _marrons glacés_, or a
couple of oranges; but his hospitable table is only open to his
children, who, as long as he lives, are at home in the house. One or two
intimate friends at most are allowed to penetrate freely into the little
circle; the time is killed, even killed by inches, A garden, chickens,
ducks, the Saturday _pot-au-feu_, such is the extent of his ambition.
All this luxury can be obtained for about a hundred dollars a month.
When his three per cent. _rentes_ secure him this sum, he retires from
business, and gives his younger fellow-creatures a chance.

His family being generally small, he has all his dear ones around him,
under his roof.

He idolizes children, and makes the most charming father in the world.

To give a good education to his sons, and a good _dot_ to his daughters,
to see them happily married, and keep them near him after their
marriage, to bring up his grandchildren, guide their first tottering
steps, make companions of them, launch them in life, and see them all
assembled around his death-bed, such is the life of the good Joseph
Prudhomme.



CHAPTER VI.

ENTERTAINING NEIGHBORS.


To an impartial observer, who goes on his way philosophizing, and
keeping his eyes open to what passes on either side of the English
Channel, it is really a very amusing sight to see how the two countries
seem to make it their aim, each to do the contrary of what the other
does.

Will you have a few rather diverting illustrations, taken right and
left?

When we are in difficulties, we take our watch to our _aunt_; the
English take theirs to their _uncle_.

In France, the _curé_ has a certain number of _vicaires_ under his
orders; in England, it is the _curate_ who is the _vicar's_ subaltern.
On this point, there is no doubt about our being in the right, since a
curate is a priest, ordained to take charge of a _cure_ (the
responsible care of souls), whereas a vicar (_vicarius_) is a priest who
takes the place of another.

So, you see, that is one to us!

In France, coachmen keep to the right; in England, they keep to the
left. The drivers of hansom cabs are seated far from their horses, and
are obliged to use very long whips; but, as they keep to the left, the
action of the whip takes place in the middle of the road, and thus
peaceful promenaders of the pavement are spared many a disagreeable cut.

Well done, John, one to you this time!

The French language possesses the two words _éditer_ and _publier_; the
English language has to _edit_ and to _publish_. But it must be well
understood that it is to _publish_ which means _éditer_, and to _edit_
which means _publier_. These Chinese puzzles, so constantly met with,
are not useless, however; they are the delight of French examiners in
England, and, of course, the despair of candidates, which is easy to
understand, if one considers how much easier it is to be examiner than
examined.

In England, you "get wet to the skin," in France, we "get wet to the
bones," and you know that, when the English go as far as the backbone,
the French, not to be outdone, go as far as the marrow of the bone.

In England, people are witty "to their fingers' end"; in France, "to the
end of their finger-nails."

The index is placed at the beginning of English books, but at the end of
French ones.

Both the French and English languages have aspirate _h_'s, but, whereas
in English it is vulgar to drop them, in French it is vulgar to sound
them.

In France, it is considered very bad form to call people by their names
directly after being introduced to them. We simply address them as
Monsieur, Madame, Mademoiselle. In England, only shopmen address ladies
as Madam, or Miss. When you have been introduced, you must add a
person's surname to the title, to Mr., Mrs., or Miss, in speaking to
them.

In England, they "take French leave"; but in France we "take English
leave," and we are quits.

The pound sterling contains twenty shillings, the shilling twelve pence,
the penny four farthings; and if you want to find out, for instance, how
much the sum of 356 pounds, 18 shillings, and 9 pence 3 farthings, has
brought in, at compound interest, in four years, five months, and eight
days, at the rate of 3-7/19 per cent., I would advise you to procure a
ream of foolscap paper and set to work. When you have waded through the
sum, you will wonder how it is that the English, practical as they are,
have not adopted the decimal system. But then, you see, they have
adopted it in France.

Even down to the manner of holding a fork or an umbrella, the two
nations seem to be saying to each other: "You do it that way? very well,
then, I shall do it this way."

In making an inventory of the contrasts in the two nations, it would be
difficult to say which is oftener in the right. The balance is probably
pretty even.

The last I will mention is the difference in the manner of keeping Good
Friday, and in this, I think, the good mark ought to be for us.

Good Friday, being the anniversary of the death of our Savior, the
French keep it in fasting and prayer. On the following Sunday, the day
of His Resurrection, they rejoice. Easter day, being Sunday, finds the
English people plunged in solemn silence; but, on Good Friday, they take
their holiday, and the lower orders celebrate their Redeemer's death by
knocking down cocoanuts.



CHAPTER VII.

FRENCH IMPULSIVENESS AND BRITISH SANGFROID ILLUSTRATED BY TWO
REMINISCENCES.


Two incidents that took place lately, in Paris and London respectively,
may serve to illustrate French impulsiveness and English _sangfroid_.

The other evening the opera "Les Huguenots" was played at the Grand
Opera. The singer who took the part of _Marcel_ was out of sorts, and
sang flat. An old gentleman, seated in an orchestra stall, was observed
to be restless and uncomfortable during the performance. At the end of
the last act, _Marcel_ passes before the church, just at the moment when
the _Duke of Nevers_ and his partisans come out of it.

"_Qui vive?_" cries the _Duke_.

"Huguenot," answers _Marcel_, and he falls, shot dead by the followers
of the _Duke_.

This part of the opera had no sooner been acted, than the old gentleman,
who now looked radiant, rose from his seat, put on his hat, and, shaking
his fist at the dead hero, to the great amusement of the public, cried
at the top of his voice:

"You donkey, it serves you right, you have been singing out of tune the
whole evening."

And indignantly he left the theater.

       *       *       *       *       *

In a beautifully appointed English house, afternoon tea, served in
costly china, had just been brought to the drawing-room, when the
mistress of the house inadvertently overturned the tea-table. Without
the slightest show of vexation, without _oh!_ or _ah!_ Lady R----calmly
touched the bell, and, on the appearance of the domestic, merely said:

"Take this away, and bring more tea."

"My dear," whispered Lady P---- to a friend, "she won't match that china
for $500."

       *       *       *       *       *

Another illustration of the latter:

A fearful railway accident has taken place. The first car, with its
human contents, is reduced to atoms.

An Englishman, who was in one of the first-class cars at the rear,
examines the _débris_.

"Oh!" he says to an official, pointing to a piece of flesh wrapped up in
a piece of tweed cloth. "Pick that up, that's the piece of my butler
that has got the keys of my trunks."



CHAPTER VIII.

ENGLISH PHARISEES AND FRENCH CROCODILES.


The French and the English have this very characteristic feature in
common: they can stand any amount of incense; you may burn all the
perfumes of Arabia under their noses, without incommoding them in the
slightest degree.

With this difference, however, in the extremes.

The French boaster is noisy and talkative. With his mustache twirled
defiantly upward, his hat on one side, he will shout at you, at the
top of his voice that,[1] "_La France, Monsieur, sera toujours la
Fr-r-rance, les Français seront toujours les Fr-r-rançais._" As you
listen to him, you are almost tempted to believe, with Thackeray, "that
the poor fellow has a lurking doubt in his own mind that he is not the
wonder he professes to be."

But allow me to say that the British specimen is far more provoking. He
is so sure that all his geese are swans; so thoroughly persuaded of his
superiority over the rest of the human race; it is, in his eyes, such an
incontested and incontestable fact, that he does not think it worth his
while to raise his voice in asserting it, and that is what makes him so
awfully irritating, "don't you know?" He has not a doubt that the whole
world was made for him; not only this one, but the next. In the
meantime--for he is in no hurry to put on the angel plumage that awaits
him--he congratulates himself on his position here below. Everything is
done to add to his comfort and happiness: the Italians give him
concerts, the French dig the Suez Canal for him, the Germans sweep out
his offices and do his errands in the City of London for $200 a year,
the Greeks grow the principal ingredient in his plum pudding. The
Americans supply his aristocracy with rich heiresses, so that they may
get their coats of arms out of pawn. His face beams with gratitude and
complacency, as he quietly rubs his hands together, and calmly thanks
Heaven that he is not as other men are. And it is true enough; he is
not.

"Dear brother reader," says Thackeray, "answer as a man of honor. Do
you think a Frenchman your equal? You don't, you gallant British snob,
you know you don't.... Oh, my country! if I were a Frenchman, how I
would hate you!"

       *       *       *       *       *

There is one great difference between our two boasters: the Englishman
will seek, on all occasions, to appear a trifle better than he really
is--he never runs himself down; if he has a defect or two, he will let
you find them out; but the Frenchman, on the contrary, is a braggart of
vice. To hear him joke about matrimony, for instance, you would take him
for a libertine. To listen to some of the plays that he will applaud, to
see the caricatures that amuse him, you might come to the conclusion
that, in his eyes, marriage was not a sacred tie. But do not form your
conclusions too hastily. Those jokes, that delight him, are often in
very doubtful taste, I admit; but they are jokes and nothing more, and
if you were to take the plays and caricatures for real pictures of
French life, you would be making as great a mistake as you could well
make.

Now, a Frenchman, who had given an appointment to his wife, would be apt
to take on a little look of mystery as he hurried away from a friend in
the street, with the words: "Excuse my haste, I must leave you; I have
an appointment." And if you heard the response, "Ah! you rascal, I'll
tell your wife," accompanied by a knowing shake of the head, you might
rashly take the pair for a couple of reprobates. But once more you would
be wrong. Such harmless trivialities--for trivialities they must be
called--are indulged in by men who are the honor and joy of their homes.

Let me tell you this: Whenever you hear a Frenchman speak ill of
himself, do not believe him, he is merely boasting. Be sure that nothing
is more true. I shall never say anything more true so long as I live.

We French hide our virtues and do not like to be reproached with them.
On this subject I might tell an anecdote which, if venerable, is none
the less amusing.

The _Athenæum_, a paper written by the _élite_ of the literary,
scientific, and artistic worlds, was at a loss to know, not long since,
why almost all the heroes of French novels were engineers. The reason is
that French engineers are all ex-pupils of the Polytechnic School. I
mean the engineers of mines, roads, and bridges. These young men, having
passed their youth in study, in order to prepare for the most difficult
examination we have, naturally have the reputation of being steady. The
anecdote is this: Edmond About one day wrote: "Virtuous as a
Polytechnician." The sentence displeased the young mathematicians, and
they promptly took the author of it to task.

I forget the exact words of their reply, but it ran, as nearly as I can
recollect:

     "_Dear Sir_: Please to speak of what you know something about.
     We are no more virtuous than you."

And I can vouch for the truth of this little anecdote: I was one of
those who signed the letter.

Call a Frenchman a "good father" or "good citizen," he will smile and
probably answer back, "You humbug!" Yet he _is_ a good father and a good
citizen, and he used to be a good _garde-national_, notwithstanding his
objection to be told so. He proved it during the siege of Paris,
although his wife had never been able to look at him in his uniform
without laughing.

Now, if the Englishman, who ornaments his buttonhole with a piece of
blue ribbon, does not put on two pieces more to proclaim _urbi et orbi_
that he is a good father and a good citizen, it is because the idea
never occurred to him--for nobody doubts that, like his neighbor, he,
too, is a good father and a good citizen.

Ah! I say once more, if we only knew how to hide our faults as we can
hide our virtues, what a respectable figure we could cut by the side of
our neighbors!

The English hypocrite is the hypocrite of virtue and religion. English
novelists have exposed him, but have not succeeded in extinguishing him;
the Chadbands, the Stigginses, the Podsnaps, the Pecksniffs, all the
saintly British _Tartuffes_, are as flourishing as ever.

Molière could, in his times, put on the stage such a man as _Tartuffe_;
at the present day the type is extinct; the religious hypocrite would
not go down in France; the character is exploded.

Pecksniff, one of the most powerful creations of Dickens, a photograph
from the life, had named his two daughters, Mercy and Charity. In
France, this worthy father and the Misses Mercy and Charity would find
every door shut in their faces. This kind of vocation would lead
straight to the workhouse.

It is not that we have no hypocrites, however. We keep the article, but
it is of a different pattern.

The French hypocrite is the hypocrite of sentiment--the crocodile.

It is natural enough that it should be so.

The hypocrite does but force the characteristic note of his race. The
English are religious (I mean church-going), the French sentimental;
therefore, the English hypocrite is the hypocrite of religion, and the
French hypocrite is the hypocrite of sentiment.

The former will enter into conversation with you by expressing a hope
that you do not concern yourself too much with the things of this world.
Chadband presents himself at the house of a friend with the salutation:
"Peace be upon this house." Then, seeing the table garnished with good
things, he cries: "My friends, why must we eat? To live. And why must we
live? To do good. It is then right that we should eat. Therefore, let us
partake of the good things which are set before us." Thereupon he gorges
himself, that he may be able the better to support life, and do the more
good. No French novelist would dare portray such a personage in his
books.

The French hypocrite proceeds differently. He makes professions of
friendship for you, embraces you, enters into your woes with touching
displays of feeling; when occasion seems to require, he can shed a few
tears, his lachrymal gland is inexhaustible. As he takes his departure,
he "hopes things will soon look brighter," and offers you a cigar.

It is at the funeral of a good bequeathing uncle that he is especially
edifying. He follows, with staggering steps, the remains of the beloved
defunct; he is literally supported to the grave by the two friends on
whose arms he leans. Tears trickle down his cheeks, he is pale and
exhausted. His handkerchief has a wide black border, but smells of musk.
He tells you, with sobs, that his uncle was a father to him, and begs
you to excuse him, if he finds it impossible to master his grief.

On arriving home, he writes to his upholsterer to order new furniture.

The two kinds of hypocrisy, one as loathsome as the other, are clearly
manifested even in the criminals of the two countries.

The English prisoner at the bar is not submitted to examination, and
thus the public is spared his professions of faith; but the letters he
writes to his friends, and to which the newspapers generally give
publicity, show him in his true light. "He believes in God; he knows
that Heaven will not fail to confound the infernal machinations of the
wretches who accuse him."

The French criminal makes professions of sentiment in the dock.

I extract the following lines from the trial of the vile assassins of
Mme. Ballerich:

     "_Q._ You loitered about the house and asked Mme. Ballerich for
     a fictitious person, in order to take stock of the premises,
     did you not?

     "_A._ I do not deny that I meant to commit a theft, but a
     crime was far from my thoughts. A crime is going too far; I
     would not dishonor my family; I swear it by my mother.

     "_Q._ You struck the fatal blow that killed the victim. When
     you left she was still alive?

     "_A._ I did not look to see whether Mme. Ballerich was dead. It
     is bad enough to be mixed up at all in affairs of that kind! It
     made me feel sick to see the blood. I suffered internally; I
     was struck with remorse and repentance and I thought of my
     mother. (Here the prisoner burst into tears.)"

The English assassin, on mounting the scaffold, generally gives his
friends _rendezvous_ in the better land, and implores his Maker's
pardon. The French murderer implores the pardon of his mother.

At this solemn moment both of them probably cease to be hypocrites.



CHAPTER IX.

FRENCH AND ENGLISH SOCIAL FAILURES.


The French social failure is generally a radical. If he had cared to do
as plenty of others do (and seeing you prosperous, he accompanies this
with an expressive glance), if he had cared to intrigue and curry favor,
he too could have cut a figure in the world. But unhappily for himself,
he does not know how to disguise his opinions; he is, according to the
formula, poor but honest.

It is his pride that leads him to avoid the lucky ones of the earth; he
has no desire to be taken for a schemer. If he has lost all else, honor
still is left, and this, his only remaining treasure, he intends to
preserve intact.

He despises money, and if he does not return that little loan he
borrowed of you, it is because he presumes that your contempt for
filthy lucre is equal to his own.

Yet the sight of gold melts him, and there flits across his face a smile
of satisfaction, mingled, however, with a tinge of sadness at the
thought of being caught capitulating with the enemy. But to convince
himself that he has lost none of his independence of character, he goes
straightway and says evil of you, so that no man shall say of him that
he was corrupted by the loan of a paltry coin.

You will generally find that he has been bankrupt once or twice; but as
that has not made a rich man of him, you conclude that, if he has not a
great love of money, neither has he a great talent for business.

He lays his poverty at everyone's door but his own. Society does not
understand him. He shall go to his grave without having had a chance of
revealing himself to the world. Meanwhile he opens a general agency. Not
having been successful with his own affairs, he hopes to have better
luck with other people's.

As a rule, you find that he has married a servant or a laundress, "to
pay a debt he owed to Society," as he puts it. But Society, who is but a
thankless jade, turns her back upon him and his wife. Never mind, he has
done his duty. Upon this point he finds nothing to reproach himself
with. Some men marry for money; thank Heaven, he is not one of that
sort.

Let anything you undertake prove a success, and you will hear him say
that he had thought of doing it long ago; it was only his idea stolen
from him. But there's the rub; what is the use of ideas, when one has no
capital?

And, instead of setting to work to get a capital, he writes anonymous
letters.

He occasionally talks of committing suicide, of throwing himself into
the sea; but this idea of his has been stolen so many times over that he
gives it up in disgust.

When he does die, it will be of spite.

You will survive the loss of him without difficulty.

His presence is a hair in your soup, a crumb in your bed.

The French social failure is not uncommonly a philosopher, and even
keeps a spark of facetiousness through all his misfortunes.

About ten years ago, I was talking one day with a Frenchman, who had
been established in England some time. _Established!_ I am getting
facetious, too, you see.

I was erroneously maintaining to him that imprisonment was still
inflicted in England for debt.

"You are mistaken, I can assure you," said he.

"I do not think so," I replied.

"Imprisonment for debt was abolished two years ago."

"Are you quite sure?" said I, seeing him so positive.

"_Parbleu!_ I ought to know better than you," he said. "I was the last
to come out."

The English social failure is much more humble than his like in France,
for the simple reason that, in France, poverty is no crime, while in
England, as in America, it is. Apart from this the two types do not
differ much.

In the commercial world, the English social failure is an agent of some
sort; generally wine or coal. In the exercise of his calling, he
requires no capital, nor even a cellar. He not unfrequently entitles
himself _General Agent_: this, when the wreck is at hand. Such are the
straws he clutches at; if they should break, he sinks, and is heard of
no more, unless his wife comes to the rescue, by setting up a lodging
house or a boarding school for young ladies. There, once more in smooth
water, he wields the blacking brush, makes acquaintance with the knife
board, or gets in the provisions. In allowing himself to be kept by his
wife, he feels he loses some dignity, but if she should adopt any airs
of superiority over him, he can always bring her to a sense of duty by
beating her.

In the republics of art and letters, you generally find him playing the
part of critic, consoling himself for his failures by abusing the
artists who sell their pictures, or the authors who sell their books.
For these he knows no pity. He can all the more easily abuse his dear
brethren of the quill or brush that he has not to sign his invectives;
his prose is anonymous. Once a week, in the columns of some penny paper,
he can, with perfect impunity, relieve his heart of the venom it
contains.

The mud he scatters has one good quality--it does not stain; one
fillip ... and it is gone.

Here is a sample of this kind of production. I extract it from a paper
as pretentious as it is little read:

     "The fortunate writer woke up one morning to find himself
     famous, and his book on a tide of popularity which carried it,
     in one year, through some fifty editions. A grand stroke of
     this kind insures the ambition to repeat it.... His new book
     bears throughout manifest evidences of having been scrambled
     through, and put together anyhow, in order to recapture the
     notice _and the money of the public_."

Now Carlyle, who was very sensitive to adverse criticism, used to call
these revengeful failures in literature "dirty puppies," and it was kind
of him to so far notice them.

But if I were the author in question, an answer somewhat in the
following style would rise to my pen:

     "_My Dear Sir_: I admire your independence and your contempt
     for the money and the favors of the public. But one question I
     would ask of you: Why do you send your invectives to the wrong
     address? If I am famous, as you are pleased to say, without
     believing it any more than myself, do not lay the blame upon
     me, my dear sir; lay it rather upon that 'fool of a public'
     who is silly enough to prefer my scribblings to your
     _chefs-d'oeuvre_. Not for the world would I say anything that
     might be disagreeable to you, but I would fain remind you that,
     ever since the days of Horace, the authors of books that sell
     have never been appreciated by the authors of the books that do
     not."

The bitterness of Mr. Tommy Hawk's criticisms forms a curious contrast
with the fairness and good-nature of the serious English critic.

The latter possesses a large stock of good sense, good taste, learning,
and independence. He can blend counsel and encouragement, and he has a
conscience; that is to say, as much aversion to disparaging as to
flattering. The same author whom he praised yesterday because his work
was worthy of praise, he blames to-day because his work is deserving of
blame; he is no respecter of persons.

Criticism should be taken with thanks and deference, if fair and kind;
with deference and no thanks, if fair but unkind; with silence and
contempt, if insulting and unfair.

So says D'Alembert.

       *       *       *       *       *

May I now permit myself to indulge in a little personality?

Mr. George Augustus Sala, the wittiest and best-humored of English
journalists, in one of his interesting _Echoes of the Week_, not long
ago accused a book of my own, after paying it one or two compliments, of
being as full of blunders as an egg is full of meat.

Now, could Mr. George Augustus Sala, with his knowledge of London dairy
produce, pay my book a more witty and graceful compliment?



CHAPTER X.

HIGH-LIFE ANGLO-FRENCH GIBBERISH AS USED IN FRANCE AND IN ENGLAND.


Languages have this in common with many mortals; when they borrow they
do not return. This is perhaps a happy thing, for when borrowed words do
get returned, good Heavens! what a state they come home in!

We thought we were doing a fine thing in taking the words _ticket_,
_jockey_, _budget_, _tunnel_, _fashion_ from the English. They are,
however, but French words mutilated, and there is not much to be proud
of in reacquiring them. The English had borrowed of us _étiqueter,
jacquet_ (_petit Jacques_), _bougette_ (_the king's privy purse_),
_façon_. Better they had kept them. Up to the nineteenth century, it was
by reason of war and conquest that both conquerors and conquered saw
their vocabularies invaded by foreign words; but is it not strange that
in the nineteenth century, the century of civilization, so-called, peace
between England and France should bring about such a disastrous result?

Formerly we used to _déjeuner_.

_Nous avons changé tout cela_; nowadays _nous lunchons_. _Nous
lunchons!_ What a barbarous mouthful, is it not?

The word _déjeuner_ signifying "to cease fasting," or, as the English
say, "to breakfast," it is wrongly used in speaking of a second repast.
_Déjeuner_ is, therefore, irrational; but is this any excuse for making
ourselves grotesque?

But, my dear compatriots, we are avenged. I read in the London
_Standard_:

     "Prince Albert Victor was yesterday admitted to the freedom of
     the City of London.... The royal party and a large company of
     invited guests were afterward entertained at a _déjeuner_ in
     the Guildhall, the Lord Mayor presiding."

Now that the French _lunch_, the English will _déjeuner_ more than ever,
of course.

       *       *       *       *       *

Parisian good society no longer takes tea, it "five o'clocks"; and the
_bourgeois_ is beginning to put at the foot of his cards of invitation:

"_On five o'clockera à neuf heures._"

       *       *       *       *       *

When the English wish to have a song or a piece of music repeated by an
artist, they shout: _Encore!_ And, the following day, the papers, in
their accounts of the performance, announce that Mademoiselle So-and-So
was _encored_.

While I am upon this subject, allow me to give you a little sample of
modern English; it will prove to you that Alexander Dumas was right,
when he pronounced English to be only French badly pronounced, and I
would add, badly spelt:

"The _concert_ was _brilliant_, and the _ensemble excellent_. Miss N----
was _encored_, but Mr. D----, who made his _début_, only obtained a
_succès d'estime_."

Go to Trafalgar Square. Place yourself at the foot of that long Roman
candle, on the summit of which the statue of Nelson may be perceived ...
on a clear day. Turn toward the Palace of Westminster, and you will see
on your left the _Grand Hôtel_ and the _Avenue Theatre_, on your right
the _Hôtel Métropole_. In your rear you will find the _National
Gallery_. As all these buildings are within a hundred yards of Charing
Cross station, the terminus at which you alight on coming from France,
your first impression will be that it will not take you long to learn to
speak English. Ah! dear compatriots, be not deceived; you little guess
the terrible perfidiousness of that language. Those provoking Britons
seem to have taken a wicked pleasure in inventing a collection of
unheard-of sounds, a pronunciation that will fill your hearts with
despair, and that puts them quite out of the reach of imitation.

Thou mayest dress like an Englishman, dear compatriot, eat roast beef
like an Englishman, but, never, never wilt thou speak English like an
Englishman. Thou wilt always massacre his language; let this console
thee for hearing him massacre thine.

In the _Spectator_ of the 8th of September, 1711, Addison wrote:

     "I have often wished, that as in our Constitution there are
     several persons whose business it is to watch over our laws,
     our liberties, and commerce, certain men might be set apart as
     superintendents of our language, to hinder any words of a
     foreign coin from passing among us; and, in particular, to
     prohibit any French phrases from becoming current in this
     kingdom, when those of our stamp are altogether as valuable.
     The present war has so adulterated our tongue with strange
     words, that it would be impossible for one of our grandfathers
     to know what his posterity have been doing, were he to read
     their exploits in a modern newspaper."

Oh, Addison, stop thy ears, and veil thy face!

M. Hippolyte Cocheris, the learned French philologist, quotes, in one of
his writings, a piece of prose from an aristocratic pen, which appeared
in No. 116 of the _New Monthly_. It runs as follows:

     "I was _chez moi_, inhaling the _odeur musquée_ of my scented
     _boudoir_, when the Prince of Z---- entered. He found me in my
     _demi-toilette, blasée sur tout_, and pensively engaged in
     solitary conjugation of the verb _s'ennuyer_, and though he had
     never been one of my _habitués_, or by any means _des nôtres_,
     I was not inclined at this moment of _délassement_ to glide
     with him into the _crocchio restretto_ of familiar chat."

To edify his readers, and make them appreciate this little masterpiece
of hybrid style at its due value, M. Cocheris proceeds to translate the
piece into French, carefully replacing all the words in italics by
English ones, thus:

     J'étais _at home_, aspirant la _musky smell_ de mon _private
     room_, lorsque le Prince de Z----entra. Il me trouva en simple
     _dress_, _fatigued with everything_, tristement occupé à
     conjuguer le verbe _to be weary_, et quoique je ne l'eusse
     jamais compté au nombre de mes _intimates_, et qu'il ne fût, en
     aucune façon _of our set_, j'étais assez disposée à entrer avec
     lui dans le _crocchio restretto_ d'une causerie familière.

M. H. Cocheris maintains that a French author would never dare to have
recourse to such a literary proceeding. Nonsense! Read our novels, read
our newspapers. At every page, you find mention made of _fashionables_
in _knickerbockers_, who, dressed in _ulsters_, repair to the _turf_ in
a _dogcart_ with a _groom_ and a _bulldog_. They bring up at a _bar_ and
eat a slice of _pudding_ or a _sandwich_, washed down with a bowl of
_punch_ or a _cocktail_. These gentlemen have the _spleen_, in spite of
the _comfortable_ life they lead. In the evening, they go and applaud
the _humor_ of a _clown_, and call _snobs_ those who prefer the
_Comédie Française_.

If this picture of the state of things be really a true one, the French
Academy, which was founded to look after the mother tongue of Molière,
had better lower its blinds and burn tapers.



CHAPTER XI.

HUMOR, WIT, AND HIBERNIANISM.


Humor is a subtle, witty, philosophical, and greatly satirical form of
gayety, the outcome of simplicity in the character, that is met chiefly
among English-speaking people.

Humor has not the brilliancy, the vivacity of French wit, but it is more
graceful, lighter, and above all more philosophic. A sarcastic element
is nearly always present in it, and not unfrequently a vein of sadness.
There is something deliciously quiet and deliberate about humor, that is
in perfect harmony with the English character; and we have been right in
adopting the English name for the thing, seeing that the thing is
essentially English.

Germany has produced humorists, among whom Hoffman and Henry Heine shine
conspicuously; but this kind of playful raillery is not to be met with
in French literature, except perhaps in the _Lettres provinciales_ of
Pascal.

In France, irony is presented in a more lively form. Swift and Sterne
are the acknowledged masters of British humor, as Rabelais and Voltaire
are the personification of French wit.

British humor does not evaporate so quickly as French wit; you feel its
influence longer. The latter takes you by storm, but humor lightly
tickles you under the ribs, and quietly takes possession of you by
degrees; the bright idea, instead of being laid bare, is subtly hidden;
it is only after you have peeled off the coating of sarcasm lying on the
surface, that you get at the fun underneath.

       *       *       *       *       *

I believe Parisian wit might be correctly described as a sudden
perception and expression of a likeness in the unlike. Here is an
example of it; an English one:

Sydney Smith, the most Parisian wit England has produced, one day asked
the Corporation of the City of London to pave St. Paul's Churchyard with
wood. The Corporation replied that such a thing was perfectly
impracticable.

"Not at all, gentlemen, I assure you," cried Sydney Smith; "you have
only to lay all your heads together, and the thing is done."

This is a specimen of French wit in English.

Sarcasm is one of the most important and frequent ingredients in French
wit.

Voltaire is the personification of that kind of wit; but other countries
have produced men whose wit he should have had the modesty of calling
"as good as French." England is foremost among those countries. Douglas
Jerrold, Sydney Smith, Sheridan, Lord Eldon, had they been born in
France, would have been called French wits.

Two anecdotes of these men, to illustrate the point.

Sheridan's son one day came to his father and announced that he would
be a candidate for Parliament.

"Indeed," said Sheridan, "and what are your colors?"

"I have none," said the son, "I am independent, and belong to no party.
I will stick on my forehead: '_To be let_.'"

"Good," said Sheridan, "and under that, put '_Unfurnished_.'"

Lord Eldon was a great sufferer from gout. A sympathizing lady friend
had made him a beautiful pair of very large slippers to wear when his
enemy troubled him.

One day his servant came to him, and announced that the lovely slippers
were gone, and had been stolen.

"Well," said Lord Eldon, "I hope they will fit the rascal."

       *       *       *       *       *

That kind of wit, peculiar to the Irish, and commonly called
Hibernianism, is an apparent congruity in things essentially
incongruous. In fact, it expresses what is apparently rational, but in
reality utterly irrational.

Thus, when an Irishman was told that one of Dr. Arnott's patent stoves
would save half the usual fuel, he exclaimed to his wife: "Arrah! thin
I'll buy two and save it all, my jewel."

We have nothing in French wit that can properly be compared to
Hibernianism, except perhaps the _gasconnade_ at times, but in the
_gasconnade_ there is no humor, the essence of it is exaggeration.

"You often forget to close the shutters of the ground-floor rooms at
night," an Irishman would say to his servant; "one of these fine
mornings I shall wake up murdered in my bed." I do not know that friend
Paddy has ever perpetrated this one, but he is quite capable of it.

       *       *       *       *       *

During the famous Michelstown Inquiry, Pat Casey was examined. He had
seen the affray, hidden behind a wall.

"Was that brave, to hide behind a wall?" said the lawyer.

"Well, sor," said Pat, "better be a coward for foive minutes than to be
dead for the rest of your loife."

       *       *       *       *       *

The Hibernianism is one of the forms of laziness of the mind, but it is
not at all a proof of stupidity. On the contrary, all those jokes that
the English are fond of putting to the credit of the Irish, are only the
proof of a certain overflow of intelligence, two ideas issuing
simultaneously from the brain, and getting confused into one. Dissect a
Hibernianism, and you will generally find two ideas, perfectly sensible,
but not agreeing together.

I have met with just as many noodles in England as elsewhere. But among
all the Irish that I have come across, though some have been lazy, and
many have been bunglers, I have not yet met one who was not intelligent,
amiable, and witty.

While on this subject, I might remind the English of the remark made
once by their celebrated critic, John Ruskin, at Oxford: "English jokes
are often tame, but there is always wit at the bottom of an Irish bull."

And we might add:

Burke, the greatest English orator that ever lived, was an Irishman.
Excuse, I beg, this Hibernianism of mine.

Lord Dufferin, that ambassador, and Lord Wolseley, that _only_ general,
whom England has been serving for the past few years, roast, baked, and
boiled, to her friends and foes alike, the two saviors to whom she
invariably turns when anything is going wrong ... or is wanted to go
wrong, are sons of Erin.

Goldsmith, the immortal author of the "Vicar of Wakefield," was Irish.

Sheridan, the author of the "School for Scandal," that the English might
almost call their _only_ comedy, was Irish.

Jonathan Swift and Richard Steele were Irish.

The names of Ireland's great men would fill a long list.

One might almost say that all that is most delicate and most witty in
English literature is of Irish origin.

When we have added that the Duke of Wellington was an Irishman, perhaps
we shall have succeeded in showing that England is very far yet from
having paid her little debt of gratitude to Ireland.



CHAPTER XII.

THE MAL DE MER.


To think that those worthy French and English people, who only live
twenty-one miles from each other, should not be able to exchange visits
without first making acquaintance with the _mal de mer_! To think that
this must be the last impression that each one takes home with him!

The _mal de mer_! That uninteresting complaint which awakes no pity in
the breast of man!

       *       *       *       *       *

The sky is serene, a light breeze gently fans your cheek, the water in
the harbor is as smooth as a sheet of glass. You timidly ask the first
sailor you come across a question or two as to the weather and the
outlook for the passage--not for your own reassurance, for _you_ are a
pretty good sailor, but ... for a friend, or ... for a lady who is
traveling with you, and who suffers dreadfully from seasickness. The sly
fellow sees through your little ruse, and answers, with a serio-comic
look: "The sea, sir! like a lake, sir; like a lake."

You feel reassured. You say to yourself: "Well, this time, at all
events, we shall have a good passage;" and you cheerily pace the deck,
light of heart and firm of foot, convinced that if anyone is ill, it
will not be you.

The illusion is a sweet, but short-lived one.

The whistle sounds, the boat is set in motion, and gently and smoothly
glides to the mouth of the harbor.

Everyone seems in the best of spirits, people chatter in groups, and
handkerchiefs are waved to the friends who have come down to the quay to
see you off.

The end of the pier is passed. There you are--now for it. You have
hardly rounded the projection which would be for you a little Cape of
Good Hope, if you were only arriving instead of departing, when the
horrible construction heaves heavily forward, and then seems to sink
away from under your feet, making you feel as if it were about to leave
you in mid-air, and trust to your intelligence to catch it again. You
would fain make your escape without delay; but everybody is there, so
you hold on and look around. Little by little the faces grow serious;
they begin to pale and lengthen visibly; the groups melt and gradually
disperse. Everyone finds a pretext for going below and hiding his shame.

"I am not generally ill on the water," you remark to your neighbor; "but
to-day, I don't know why, I am not feeling quite up to the mark; I must
have eaten something at luncheon that does not agree with me.... Oh! of
course, it's that wretched lobster salad! I was cautioned not to touch
it, too. Oh! _la gourmandise!_" Confident of having persuaded your
traveling companion that you are a tolerably good sailor, you too
disappear below ... and he, not sorry to see you go, is not long in
following your example.

You go down to the cabin. Alas! that is the finishing touch. The stuffy,
heavy, unwholesome atmosphere, charged with a mixed odor of tar,
mysterious cookery, and troubled stomachs, brings your digestive
apparatus up to your throat. You feel stifled. All the vital forces
crowd to your head, and your legs are powerless to support you. You
throw yourself on your berth like a log, and instinctively close your
eyes, so as not to see that man over there, who is just about to open
the ball, or that other who is looking at you with a mixture of
amusement and pity, as he calmly eats his chop. This creature is the
most annoying of all your fellow-passengers. His compassion for you is
insulting. You hate his healthy-looking face, his calm, his good
appetite even; and your indignation reaches its climax when you see him
coolly filling his pipe and preparing to go on deck and smoke. Unable
to endure the atmosphere of the saloon any longer, you make a grand
effort and return to the upper regions. The first sight that meets your
eyes is that man again, now lavishing the most careful attentions upon
your wife; he has been to fetch her some brandy and water, or a cup of
tea. You would thank him, but you do not care for your wife to see you
in your pitiful condition. That fellow is unbearable, overpowering. This
is the only reflection suggested by his kindness to your wife; and away
you steer, making a semicircle, or rather two or three, on your way to
an empty bench, where you once more assume the horizontal.

A friend comes to tell you that your wife is giving up the ghost
somewhere in the stern of the ship, but you make believe not to hear,
and only murmur through your teeth: "So am I; what can I do for her?"

You ask the steward to send you some tea, and it comes up in an
earthenware basin an inch thick. You put it to your lips. Horrible!
What can it possibly be made of, this nauseating decoction? The smell of
the flat, unpalatable stuff makes you feel more qualmish than ever; the
remedy is worse than the evil.

       *       *       *       *       *

Just as, at Monaco, you never fail to come across a gambler who has his
system, you rarely take a sea journey without meeting with the good soul
who has an infallible preventive for seasickness. "This succeeds with
nine persons out of ten," she tells you. Next time you cross, you try
it, but only to find that you are evidently _the tenth_. However, it is
not a failure or two that can shake the blind confidence she has in her
remedy, I must say it to her credit.

       *       *       *       *       *

Though there exists no cure for this strange evil, I think,
notwithstanding, that by the exercise of a little self-control, one can
retard the catastrophe. At least such is my experience.

We were one day between Guernsey and Southampton, just near the
Casquettes, where the Channel makes things very uncomfortable for you,
if there is the least wind blowing. I had curled myself up in a corner
in the stern of the boat and was preparing to feel very sadly. Up came
two French ladies, appearing, like myself, to have strayed that way in
search of solitude.

"_Saperlotte_," thought I, "here are women looking at you, my boy; be a
man."

I fixed my eyes on a point of the horizon, and no doubt appeared to my
neighbors to be plunged in profound contemplation.

The ladies took up their position not very far from me, and began to
heave very heavy sighs. I looked at them. They were green.

"Ah, Monsieur!" said one of them to me, "how fortunate you are, not to
be ill!"

I was saved, for the moment at all events. It put fresh strength into
me. Forcing a smile, and gathering up my courage, I had the impudence
to affirm that I felt pretty well. The effort of the will had the power
to keep the evil in check.

At that moment I understood how you can make a hero of a frightened
soldier by telling him that bravery is written in his eyes.

       *       *       *       *       *

A man who crosses the Channel several times a year is pretty sure to
have one or two little anecdotes of the _mal de mer_, and its
consequences, in a corner of his memory.

Here is one chosen at random:

It was between Boulogne and Folkestone, on a _mare contrarium_.

Seated quietly on deck, I was just dozing over a book, the author of
which I will not name, since his volume had less power over my senses
than the rolling of the boat. I was presently brought back to
consciousness by the weight of a head, laid on my shoulder. I opened my
eyes, looked out of the corners of them; the head was a very pretty
one, upon my word.

What was I to do?

To stay would be compromising; to get away suddenly would be ungallant
and perhaps not without danger, for the poor little head might fall
against the bulwarks of the boat. I reclosed my eyes, and made believe
not to have noticed anything. All at once I heard a sweet voice in my
ear:

"O Arthur! What shall I do? If you only knew how sick I feel. Oh! I must
lean my head on your shoulder; you don't mind, do you?"

The situation was getting alarming. I kept my eyes closed, so as not to
scare away the poor creature, who was evidently at sea, in more senses
than one. I kept quiet, buried in my wraps and traveling cap, and,
without moving my head, just murmured, "I am really awfully sorry,
madam, but I am not Arthur."

This was startling enough in all conscience. I quite expected a small
explosion; apologies, little screams, a fainting fit, perhaps. Happily,
however, on board ship, dignity is laid aside. Certainly, on dry land,
this lady could not have done less than faint, if it were only for the
sake of appearances. But _à la mer, comme à la mer_.

So there was no fuss or fainting; for that matter my poor
fellow-traveler had not the strength to move. I rose, helped her to
assume a more comfortable position, placed a cushion under her head, and
covered her with my rug. Then, having called the steward and recommended
Mme. Arthur to his care, there remained nothing but to decamp, and quit
the thankless _rôle_ of caretaker of somebody else's wife.

When we got into harbor at Folkestone, Arthur suddenly made his
appearance from somewhere in the lower regions. He was my very
double--the same size, the same dress.... I saw through the
misadventure.

On joining the London train, I found myself in the same compartment as
the young couple. Arthur _knew all_, as they say in sensational novels,
and we had a hearty laugh together over the affair. Arthur was as gay as
a lark. I attributed his mirth to the fact of his having left the sea
behind, and to his finding himself once more on _terra firma_ with his
beloved one. I found in the course of conversation that he had only been
married the day before, and the happy pair had come over to hide their
bliss in the fogs. They intended passing their honeymoon in London. It
would have been sacrilege. I dissuaded them from their project, and
induced them to go to Scotland, to see its lakes and mountains, and the
bracken lit up with autumnal gold.



CHAPTER XIII.

BRITISH PHILOSOPHY AND FRENCH SENSITIVENESS.


British philosophy!

Why not _English Philosophy_?

The difference is enormous. If I were to publish a treatise on the
English philosophers, Bacon, Locke, Stuart Mill, Herbert Spencer,
Frederic Harrison, etc., I should call my work: "A Study of English
Philosophy." But if I said to you that the English, not having succeeded
in regaining Khartoum, contented themselves with regaining the road to
England, I should add, that is British philosophy.

You would not say, "History of British Literature," you say, "History of
English Literature."

There is something serio-comic about the word "British," or something
chauvinistic. You would be right in saying "British army, British
soldiers." The lady who fills the newspapers with her outcries against
the few nudities exhibited in the Academy every season, is known only by
the name of "British Matron."

An Englishman only calls his fellow-countrymen "Britons" when he is half
laughing at them. When he says, "We Britons," he is not quite serious;
on the contrary, when he says, "We Englishmen," his face reflects the
feeling of respect with which the sound of his name inspires him.

The "English public," is good society; the "British" public means the
common run of mortals in the United Kingdom.

British philosophy! that philosophy that makes us like what we have when
we cannot have what we like; that philosophy taught by that good mother,
and incomparable teacher, whose name is Necessity.

Alas, we French people do not possess this kind of philosophy. I wish we
did. As a matter of fact, we are the most absurdly sensitive,
thin-skinned people on the face of the earth. We do not know how to take
a kick, much less, make use of it. I mean a kick in the figurative
sense; the one that leaves no trace, and does not prevent us from
sitting at our ease.

But, if the Englishman knows how to take it, do you believe he feels it
the less for that? Be not deceived on the point. He exercises control
over himself. He does not give it back on the spot, but stores it up,
rubs the injured part, applies a little cold cream, if necessary, and
awaits the moment when he will be able to return it with interest. Such
is the difference between the two men. To my mind, the Englishman is the
more intelligent of the two.

Success turns our heads in France, reverses discourage and demoralize
us; we know neither how to profit by victory, nor put up with defeat. In
victory, we see only glory; in defeat, only disgrace.

Thus we are led to make war to serve dynastic interests; we go to the
Crimea for the English, who do not go to Germany for us; we set the
Italian nation on its feet, and to-day, see it, in its profound
gratitude, preferring Germany to ourselves.

       *       *       *       *       *

Criticism exasperates instead of benefiting us, and even occasionally
amusing us. We hate our enemies, instead of being grateful to them for
the good they do us; for if we owe part of our success to our friends,
we owe a still greater part to our enemies.

There are two ways of causing an animal to advance--whether that animal
be an artist, a writer, or a prime minister--first, by kind
encouragements ... in front; secondly, by something less pleasant ... on
the other side.

I firmly believe the second process to be the more efficient of the two.

It is only indifference that kills; in religion, in love, in politics,
in literature, in everything.

Christianity came out of the Roman arenas, English Protestantism out of
the Smithfield fires; and many a demagogue owed his success, under the
Second Empire, to the few months' imprisonment at Ste. Pélagie that the
Imperialist judges were silly enough to condemn him to.

Enemies? Why, they are our fortune. When I hear a man spoken of after
his death as never having had any enemies, as a Christian I admire him,
but I also come to the conclusion that the dear fellow must have been a
very insignificant member of the community.

If you do something new, you make enemies of all the red tapeists; if
you do something intelligent, you make enemies of all the fools; if you
are successful, you make enemies of all the army of failures, the
misunderstood, the crabbed, and the jealous; but these little outbursts
of hatred, one as diverting as the other, are really so many
testimonials in your favor.

If you send in your application for some vacant post, and you succeed in
obtaining it, you may be sure that there will be but one candidate who
will consider that the election was made according to merit; yourself.
The rest will cry out in chorus that your luck is something wonderful.
Luck! What a drudge this poor word is made of! The privations you have
imposed upon yourself, and the long nights that you have devoted to
work, are _luck_. _Luck_, as a great English moralist puts it, means
rising at six in the morning; _luck_ means spending tenpence when you
earn a shilling; _luck_ means minding your own business and not meddling
with other people's.

The Englishman knows that it falls to everyone's lot to be criticised,
and he makes up his mind to endure it. He even has a certain admiration
for those who criticise and rally him, if the operation is performed
with a little dexterity. Violent criticism is the only kind he has a
contempt for. "The fellow loses his temper," says he; "he is a fool, who
proves that his cause is a bad one;" and he goes on his way unconcerned.
So, while, in Paris, a Republican and a Bonapartist, who meet on the
Boulevards, will look daggers at each other; a Liberal and a
Conservative, who meet in Pall Mall, will shake hands and go and dine
together amicably. They both know that it is all humbug. After dinner,
they repair to the House of Commons; one takes his seat on the left, the
other on the right of the Speaker, who ought rather to be called the
_Spoken to_, since everyone addresses his remarks to him, but he very
rarely opens his lips.

Never any insults in this Parliament. You will never hear any such
phrase as "the honorable member has lied," but rather, "the honorable
member has just made a remark which is scarcely in accordance with
strict truth." These euphemisms are the soul of the English language,
the outcome of the cool British temperament. Violent language has not
the least power to move an Englishman to wrath--it rather excites his
pity. In an English club, two members who had called each other "liars,"
would find their names promptly struck off the roll, and there would be
an end of the matter. In France they would fight a duel.

The following anecdote shows how ready the English are to acknowledge
their little _failings_.

I was speaking of the English spirit of colonization one day at a
lecture, and in the course of my remarks on the subject, I took the
liberty of saying, not without a slight touch of satire:

"When John Bull makes colonies, it is for the good of the natives."

"For their goods!" cried a jolly Briton from the gallery.

He evidently thought me too indulgent. By the manner in which my
interrupter was applauded, I judged that he had properly seized and
expressed the general feeling of the audience.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is in adversity that the Englishman is to be admired. If he is
defeated, he puts a good face upon it; he accepts his defeat, and makes
the best of it. "I have proved that I can fight," he says; "why should I
fight a hopeless battle?" If the door must give way to the burglars, he
does not wait for them to break it open, he opens it himself; if he
cannot save his furniture, he saves his door; it is so much gained.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is thanks to this practical philosophy that, on the day after an
election, you see all the newspapers express their satisfaction at the
result. The winning side has always gained a more brilliant, more
decisive, victory than ever, in spite of the enormous difficulties that
had to be overcome. The losing side invariably gains a moral victory,
and this is proved by _a + b_.

When, after the defeat at Majuba Hill, England abandoned the conquest of
the Transvaal, a feat which would have been mere child's play to her,
but which would probably have aroused some indignation in Europe, Mr.
Gladstone announced that, after all, the Boers were only fighting for
their independence, and it was not seemly for generous England to annex
by force a country that wished to be free, and had given such proof of
valor.

A little masterpiece in its way, this speech!

       *       *       *       *       *

What a strange, ungrateful animal is man! What respect he has for his
conquerors! What contempt for those he can conquer! When he speaks of
the lion that devours him, or the eagle that tears his flesh, he is
ready to take off his hat to them; when he speaks of the donkey that
renders him great service, or of the goose that furnishes him a good
dinner, a pen to write with, and a bed to lie on, he cannot sufficiently
express his contempt.

Do you remember, dear American friends, how, some four years ago, a
certain Lord Sackville, British minister in Washington, was given
twenty-four hours to leave the country? Never had John Bull been
administered a better kick before. Did he go to war with America? Oh,
no. The prime minister of England declared that you could not expect
"gentlemanly manners from American politicians," and John Bull was
satisfied, and he set about bullying little Portugal about some South
African bit of territory.

       *       *       *       *       *

When the Englishman meets with his superior, he is ready to admit it. If
he be jealous of him, he will not expose himself to ridicule by showing
it. He does not shun the prosperous man, he cultivates his acquaintance.
He is not necessarily a schemer for that; where there is no meanness
there is no scheming. He acknowledges all the aristocracies; the
aristocracy of birth, the aristocracy of money, and the aristocracy of
talent; and I only blame him for one thing, which is that he has much
less admiration for the third of these than for the other two. At a
public dinner, in England, you may see in the places of honor, on either
side of the chairman, one or two lordlings, then the wealthy guests ...
then, but much farther down, the literary men, artists, and other small
fry.

We French people have not the bump of veneration very much developed, it
is true; but we have an admiration, approaching veneration, for talent
and science, and the same Frenchman who takes no notice of a duke, will
turn to get a second look at a great literary man or a savant. The
commonplace Englishman, who humbles himself before a village squire, or
a big banker, takes his revenge when he meets the schoolmaster who, in
France, would be a _professeur_, but who, in England, were he a double
first of Oxford, an ex-scholar of Balliol College, goes through life by
the name of _schoolmaster_; rinse your mouth quickly.

In England, social disparity excites no jealousy. On the contrary, the
noble and the wealthy are popular.

In France, we have given up admitting superiority since our walls have
been ornamented with the announcement that _all_ Frenchmen are brethren,
free men, and equals. This rage for equality degenerates into jealousy
of all superiority. In fact, the French are all equal to their
superiors, and most of them superior to their equals. As soon as
superiority clearly manifests itself, in political life, in literature,
in the fine arts, anywhere, it is ostracized.

       *       *       *       *       *

I was talking one day with a Frenchman, who still massacres the English
language, although he has lived in this country more than twenty years.
In the course of conversation I named a compatriot of ours. "Now,
_there_ is a man," said I, "who speaks English admirably."

"Admirably?" cried he, "well, yes, he does ... like the rest of us."

This is a truly French retort.

       *       *       *       *       *

Jealousy is the commonest and most characteristic failing of the French.

With us, jealousy is not only the stamp of mediocrity, as it is
everywhere else; it is a malady that our greatest men have been tainted
with. The acrimonious and contemptible polemic that Bossuet and Fénelon
engaged in, the implacable hatred of Voltaire toward Rousseau, are but
two instances of it; the history of French literature abounds with
others. Our Parisian newspapers are daily filled with polemics and
personalities.

In England, everyone minds his own business, and does not trouble
himself about what his neighbor says or does.

       *       *       *       *       *

May I be allowed to make another comparison here?

If the Englishman is less jealous than the Frenchman of the success of
his fellow-creature, it is because he often does not attribute it to the
same causes.

The Englishman maintains, rightly or wrongly, that a man owes his
successes far more to his character than to his talent. If I am not
mistaken, it was Thomas Carlyle who laid down this rule of British
philosophy.

This philosophical proposition is very comforting to the misunderstood;
to hint to a man that he is less talented than another, is to vex him;
on the contrary, to tell him that he has less shrewdness, is almost to
pay him a compliment.



CHAPTER XIV.

THE FRENCH SNOB.


It would be imprudent, not to say impudent, to attack the subject of
English snobs. There are themes which seem marked "Dangerous ground." If
the French want to know all about English snobs, they must turn to
Thackeray, who has completely exhausted the subject.

       *       *       *       *       *

The snob is the man who is utterly destitute of nobility. I should like
to explain the word etymologically thus: _Snob_ from _S. Nob_. (_Sine
Nobilitate_).

       *       *       *       *       *

The snob is the man who is ashamed of his origin, and wishes to occupy a
better place in society than he is entitled to; who hires a couple of
flunkeys by the evening, to make folks believe he keeps a grand
establishment; or who lowers his blinds from the middle of July to the
middle of September, to make it appear that he is out of town, _en
villégiature_, at the seaside, or at his place in the country.

       *       *       *       *       *

The king of French snobs calls himself M. du Bois, M. du Val, M. du
Mont--or better still, M. de la Roche-Pichenette. His father, an honest
man, and useful member of society, amassed penny by penny a snug
fortune; his name was Dumont, Duval, Dubois, of the _bois_ of which
useful men are made. The son squanders the money of his lamented papa,
and calls himself Du Bois, of the _bois_ of which parasites and idlers
are made. If one of his estates happens to be called "la
Roche-Pichenette," he dubs himself M. de la Roche-Pichenette, which
looks grander still. He would be puzzled to show you the letters patent
which authorize him in assuming this grotesque name; but he will tell
you that, if he cannot do so, it is because those Republican scoundrels
of '93 destroyed them. He is a clerical and stanch Royalist, as a matter
of course; _noblesse oblige_. In this respect he outdoes the genuine
nobleman, who needs make no noise to attract attention to a name which
everyone knows, and which, in spite of what may be said on the subject,
often recalls the memory of some glorious event in the past. Noise he
must make, unfortunately for his cause. So a German jumps on the table
to make believe that he is merry.

He talks of his ancestors, and rails at the Revolution which made a man
of him. Ancestors he has, of course, as you and I have; they were,
doubtless, worthy fellows, good patriots, who may have been present at
Fontenoy, at Rocroy, or even at the siege of Jerusalem, for the very
simple reason that the principle of spontaneous generation has never
been applied to man. But if his ancestors lent a helping hand at the
taking of Jerusalem, and also, perhaps, by the irony of fate, at the
taking of the Bastille, he, for his part, has taken nothing particular
except a sham title.

This kind of snob is not met with in England. The names of the lords,
baronets, and knights are published every year; fraud is impossible. The
few contraband barons that are to be found in England are barons of the
Holy Empire.



CHAPTER XV.

A SUCCESS AS AN ANGLOPHOBIST. (THE LATE MARQUIS DE BOISSY.)


The Anglophobist of the purest water that France ever produced, was the
late Marquis de Boissy, senator of the second Empire. This witty,
eloquent, spirited old Gaul, was the soul of the august assembly, the
only member of it who was not either stuffed or embalmed, and his memory
alone will save it from oblivion. His philippics will long ring in the
ears of the French.

Whether he was in the tribune treating the subject of home or foreign
politics, or whether he was making a speech at the agricultural
committee meeting of his borough, he had but one peroration, his
cherished device, his hobby:

  _Delenda est Britannia._

He used to accuse England of smothering the human race with her breath,
and would compare her to the octopus, that hideous and sticky mass whose
tentacles have the property of creating a vacuum around them.

       *       *       *       *       *

"The world will never have any peace," said he, "until that brute has
ceased sucking the blood of other nations, and been sunk at the bottom
of the sea. Old as I am, I would go for a drummer, so that I might lend
a helping hand in subduing the nation that has violated the most sacred
laws of humanity."

All the scourges that visit the earth were put down by him to the credit
of that traitress of a neighbor; earthquakes, volcanic eruptions,
inundations, cholera, the plague; even down to his own colds in the
head, all were attributed by him to the baneful influence of the breeze
that had passed over England.

He did not hesitate to declare that the air of the Champs-Elysées in
Paris was polluted by the presence of the English colony in its midst.
Every time he passed through it, he fumigated himself as soon as he
reached home.

Poor Marquis de Boissy, what would you have said, if you had lived long
enough to receive invitations to _five o'clocquer_?

The old Anglophobist was sincere in his epic outbursts, and at the same
time very amusing, for he was as full of wit as he was of Anglophobia.

He is dead, leaving no successor; France is at present without a
declared Anglophobist.



CHAPTER XVI.

WOMAN WORSHIP.


A worshiper of grace and beauty, the Frenchman has given to woman a
place which she occupies in no other nation.

Since the days when Aspasia inspired Socrates and advised Pericles, in
no other country has woman's sovereignty been so supreme as it has
always been, and still is, in France.

The Frenchman is keenly alive to woman's influence, and woman is an
ever-present, a fixed, idea with him. Whether he study her from the
artistic, physiological, or psychological point of view, his interest in
her is never exhausted.

It is a case of woman worship. Parodying Terence's lines, he says:

"I am a man, and all that concerns woman interests me."

Nothing is more absurd in the eyes of the English than this ever-present
idea of woman in the mind of the Frenchman, and as our dear neighbors do
not know us any better than if an ocean, instead of a silver streak,
separated us and them, they indulge in a thousand and one commentaries
upon the puerility of our character.

However, it is to our education, and to that alone, that this weak but
charming side of our national character must be attributed.

If, from the tenderest age, we were used to liberty and the
companionship of children of the other sex, we should grow up thinking
very little about liberty and women, and we should succeed in acquiring
that _sangfroid_ which is the foundation-stone of the prosperity and the
greatness of the Anglo-Saxon race.

When we were schoolboys, and a rumor spread through the class rooms that
the sister of So-and-So was in the parlor, do you remember, my dear
compatriots, what a commotion it created throughout the whole
establishment? Do you remember how we climbed on tables and chairs, and
how happy we were if we could but catch sight of the corner of a
petticoat at the other end of the courtyard? No wonder, for, to us, a
girl was quite an extraordinary being, something almost supernatural.
The scream of the young ladies of Miss Tomkins' Seminary, on hearing
that "a man is behind the door!" is nothing, compared to the magic cry,
"_Une fille!_" in a French school.

Is not the object of man's worship always something unknown,
extraordinary, ideal? Is it not always clothed in mystery? Have we ever
bestowed unlimited admiration upon those whose society we frequent every
day? Habit kills admiration,[2] as it kills all sentiments that live
upon illusions. If, from our childhood, woman were the companion of our
daily games and walks, should we not look upon her with different eyes?

To us Frenchmen, woman is a being whom we consider greatly superior to
ourselves, because we have made an ideal of her.

To the Englishman, woman is a creature whom he looks down upon as a
frail and frivolous being, greatly inferior to himself. With what an air
of sovereign condescension the English schoolboy tells his young girl
friends all about the game of football or cricket, in which he has taken
part! His manner seems to say: "Is it not awfully kind of me to take the
trouble to enter into these details with poor, puny creatures like you,
who cannot appreciate them?"

       *       *       *       *       *

In France, whatever a woman does is right; even her errors almost turn
to her advantage. If she breaks her marriage vows, it is not she who is
covered with shame, it is her husband who is covered with ridicule; and
people immediately look for defects in him, and excuses for her.

A society thus governed by women may lack firmness, but its salient
points are sure to be good taste, delicacy, tact, wit, and amiability.

It is impossible not to mention here the ascendancy which women took
over French literature in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and
during the early part of the present one, through the influence of the
_salons littéraires_. Does it not seem, in fact, as if the history of
French literature might be summed up by naming the Hôtel de Rambouillet,
and the _salons_ of Mme. des Loges, Mlle. de Scudéry, Mme. de Sablé,
Ninon de Lenclos, Mme. Scarron, the Duchesse du Maine, the Marquise de
Lambert, Mme. du Deffand, Mme. d'Epinay, Mme. de Caylus, Mme. de
Vintimille, Mme. Récamier, Mme. de Staël, and Mme. Girardin? Do we not
know the courts of Louis XIV., Louis XV., Louis XVI., and Napoleon I. by
the letters and memoirs of this splendid legion of women belonging to
"_la société polie_" who have taught us the art of _causer_, that art of
which we French have the monopoly?

This woman worship, from which chivalry sprang, is the source of another
trait characteristic of the French nation, a trait which we have a right
to be proud of. I speak of our respect for the weak. I engage that the
lowest quarter of any French town would be roused into revolution at the
sound of a man having ill-treated a woman or child. It is a sentiment
innate in the Celt, and which would be found in the Englishman, if the
Germanic element had not gained the ascendancy in England.[3]

Is there any prettier sight than that of our public gardens filled with
well-dressed, bright-faced young mothers, whose husbands come, when
business is over, to listen to the band at their side, and to take them
to their homes, from which care is banished as far as possible, and
where they are made sharers in each joy of their husbands?

Can we imagine a pleasure party of any kind without the presence of
women? And when I say _we_, I mean all classes of society. When our
workman sets out, on Sunday mornings, for the Jardin de la Muette or the
Bois de Meudon, with provisions for the day, he takes his wife and
children with him; and even his old mother, if he have one, must go too,
or the party is not complete.

I confess that those world-famed English dinners which are not
brightened by the presence of ladies have but little charm for me.

"Those English people enjoy themselves as we bore ourselves to death,"
once said Mme. Vigée-Lebrun.

When I say that women are rarely seen at the great public dinners, which
are the distinguishing feature of English society, I exaggerate. They
are sometimes admitted ... to the galleries, from thence to contemplate
the lords of creation consuming their prodigious repast.

Gallantry could surely go no further.

Looking from the gallant knights of the trencher to the pretty faces in
the gallery, I have more than once exclaimed to myself: "Nobody can say
that an Englishman's eyes are bigger than his stomach."



CHAPTER XVII.

FAITH AND REASON.


The various religions in existence were founded by men of different
nations to suit their own character.

The French, impressionable and fond of pompous pageants, adopted a
mystical religion, which addresses itself to their senses; the English,
cool and argumentative, preferred a religion which addresses itself to
their reason. This is why churches in France savor of the theater, and
churches in England savor of the lecture-room.

       *       *       *       *       *

Calvinism did not take root in France, and never will, because it is not
amiable. Romanism will never flourish in England again, because it says:
"Believe, without seeking to understand."

The Roman Catholic religion aims at gaining a hold over the heart, the
Protestant religion aims at gaining a hold over the mind. The first
attracts women by its poetry and mysticism and governs through them; the
second attracts men by sometimes offering them food for their
intellectual appetites.

Finally, the first is under the control of a foreign power, the second
is national.

       *       *       *       *       *

We French people worship a tender, merciful, almost familiar, God, whom
we are wont to call _sweet_ Savior.

The English worship the God of the Jews, that God Who commanded His
chosen people to exterminate their enemies, and spare neither man,
woman, or child, and Whom they call _awful_ God.

The manner in which we speak of the Divinity shocks the English; the
manner in which the English worship Him leaves us cold and indifferent.

To the Frenchmen who say that religion is incompatible with liberty, I
would simply reply: England and America are the freest nations in the
world, and at the same time the most religious--I mean the most
church-going.

To the English who say that there is no religion in France, I would
reply: Our churches are not, like yours, full only from eleven to
half-past twelve; they are thronged from six o'clock in the morning to
one in the afternoon by a crowd whose fervor is second to that of no
other church-goers, and this French piety is all the more admirable
because, in our country, religion is not an indispensable garment, as it
is in England.

       *       *       *       *       *

It would be as imprudent to judge the religion of the English from the
French point of view, as it would be to judge the religion of the French
from the English point of view. This being granted, something more is
requisite, if we would judge fairly, and that is to start with the
principle that all convictions that are dictated by conscience are
worthy of respect.

But such is not the usual manner of setting about it. To call one's
neighbors "idolaters," and hear one's self called "marchand de Bible"
in return, is certainly much more lively.

       *       *       *       *       *

The English have given the name of Mariolatry to the homage paid to the
Mother of Christ, and it is a deep-rooted belief in England that the
French pay to Mary a worship equal to that which they pay to God.

Like ourselves, they too often judge by appearances.

The divine honors paid to the Virgin Mary have nothing to do with
adoration; the prayers addressed to her are for intercession. It is a
poetical homage rendered chiefly by women, who would fain have the
holiest of women plead with a beloved son on their behalf. It is to her
that the young girl turns who has just engaged her heart; it is to her
that the young mother prays as she bends over the cradle of her child.

"Horrible!" cry the Protestants, "as if God were not just, as if He
wanted to be told what He should do!"

But since you pray to Him yourselves, it is clear that you think it
advisable to remind Him sometimes of your needs.

Then the Frenchman (excuse a comparison which, to my mind, appears to be
strikingly true), the Frenchman, I say, who has the love and respect for
his mother inborn in him, cannot help believing that God could not find
it in His heart to refuse him anything, if Mary, His mother, would only
undertake to intercede on his behalf.

The homage paid to the Virgin is nothing short of a worship to Purity,
and the most ignorant Irish peasant girl has the conscience of her value
when she feels she can kneel down before the white-robed statue. The
influence of this worship on morality is enormous.

Take figures.

In Scotland, the proportion of illegitimate children is 16 per cent. In
Protestant Ireland (County of Antrim, etc.) it is 7 per cent. In the
poorest parts of Roman Catholic Ireland, the proportion is only 1/2 per
cent.

       *       *       *       *       *

A religion is materialized that is practiced in temples adorned with
statues and pictures, images of the dwellers in the realms of the blest.
The uncultured mortal does not know what abstraction is. He believes in
what he sees. When our peasant folk think of God, they picture Him to
themselves as an august personage in a blue robe with flowing sleeves,
who keeps the accounts of our good and bad actions and receives in
private audience every morning certain saints, dressed in various colors
(St. Peter invariably in bottle-green), who come to talk of their
_protégés_, and recommend them to His mercy.

This materialism of the other world helps the ignorant to understand,
and explains why the poor crowd our churches, in the provinces at all
events. I say _in the provinces_ especially, for it would be as wrong to
judge France by Paris, as it would be to judge England by Regent Street
and the Haymarket. This is a remark that I should like to repeat at
every page.

"What is it that these English people worship?" is the question
invariably asked by the French who visit English churches and chapels.
The fact is, there is nothing to be seen there but whitewashed walls,
benches, an organ, and an enormous Bible. Tell them that, in the eyes of
the English, a crucifix is a profane object, that would be looked upon
with as much horror as a statue of Vishnu, and they will have their
doubts whether the name of Christian really ought to be applied to an
English person.

In religion, everything is spiritualized in England and America. A
crucifix recalls the fact that Christ became man.

The English will have neither crucifix, statue, nor picture in their
churches, because they adhere to the Bible, and there they find, among
the commandments of God, given on Mount Sinai:

"Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image, or any likeness of
anything that is in the heaven. Thou shalt not bow down to them, nor
worship them."

The Roman Catholic Church has suppressed this commandment. It is not for
me to criticise her; but as she has adopted a certain number of
commandments, which she has even translated into verse in order to fix
them more easily in the minds of the faithful, she would have perhaps
done better to adopt them all. At any rate she has done wisely in
interdicting discussion among her followers, and in telling them:

  _Ce que je dis tu croiras
  Sans raisonner auparavant._

       *       *       *       *       *

The Protestant religion is more practical and better adapted to modern
life than the Catholic one; but if the Protestant faith may help you to
live, I believe the Catholic faith may better help you to die.


Whereas the materialization practiced by the Roman Church attracts the
lower classes, the spiritualization of the Anglican Church tends to
estrange them. The great unwashed of England would not understand the
service of the Anglican Church. This is partly why cornets and drums are
being resorted to, to draw them out of their slums.

Everyone takes his religion where he finds it.

       *       *       *       *       *

Does not the frequentation of French cemeteries show how attached we are
to the body? Does not the solitude of English cemeteries show how little
our neighbors share this feeling?

       *       *       *       *       *

The Catholic is no theologian. He does not discuss the sermons that are
preached to him; he may criticise the language of the preacher, but
dogma is not in his line. All that is spoken from the pulpit is gospel
to him.

The Protestant is essentially a theologian. He sifts most carefully all
that he hears in church. He is not of opinion that man was made for
religion, but that religion was made for man. I have seen more than one
storm in a teacup aroused, in little country towns, by a certain sermon
that had appeared to the congregation to be unorthodox. The local
newspapers would be full of letters containing the bitterest and most
violent recriminations. The clergyman, attacked like a mere politician
who had changed his colors, would defend himself by writing letter after
letter to the paper. Bible in hand, he refuted the arguments of his
adversaries, who were his own flock, be it understood.

No demi-gods in England; everyone has to pass through the Caudine Forks
of criticism.

A young country curate, finding that his tradesmen's bills were taking
larger proportions than his modest income could stand, resolved one day
to thunder from the pulpit against the thirst for riches.

He prepared his thunderbolts.

Never did Horace or Bourdaloue utter such anathemas against the vices of
the day.

"My dear brethren," he cried, "is it possible that you can thus place
the love of filthy lucre above the love of virtue?"

And, after a few generalities, he came straight to the point; he accused
the tradesmen of making too large profits, and of caring more for the
things of this world than for the things of the next.

A few days later, it being the 5th of November, the curate was burnt in
effigy.

His parishioners having rendered his life not worth living in the pretty
little town of X----, the young reverend gentleman lost no time in
packing up his traps and quitting the neighborhood, with the firm
resolution never to preach any more sermons _ad hominem_.

The Anglican, or State Church of England is a Tory institution, that is
to say, an eminently Conservative one. It is also a great school of
discipline for the people. As an Englishman of much good sense said to
me one day, the clergyman of a small town advantageously replaces half a
dozen policemen.

The Anglican Church is the Church of English good society.

In my quality of Frenchman, I confess to having a partiality for this
church, and of dreading the time when she will be separated from the
state.

This is why.

If we have many sympathizers in England, they must not be looked for, as
a rule, among the bigots of all the little conventicles, who vie with
one another in presenting the most striking appearance of virtue and
piety.

By these pretentious, narrow-minded folk, the French are more or less
looked upon as children of the Evil One. The intelligent Englishmen of
good society, who know and often admire us, generally belong to the
Anglican Church, which takes care of their future "by special
appointment," and allows them to relax a little from their natural
austerity.

Nature has made the Englishman a Puritan. Churchman or not, stir him up,
and it is the Puritan which rises to the surface. The day on which the
Church of England is disestablished, England will be all Puritan.



CHAPTER XVIII.

THE WORSHIP OF THE GOLDEN CALF.


Nothing is done for mere glory in England, every undertaking has a
practical aim.

In France, every intelligent boy of the middle class goes through his
classical studies; even though he may only be intended for a commercial
career, his father makes him try to pass his B. A. or B. Sc. In England,
boys learn Latin and Greek in order to pass examinations, which lead to
certain positions. With us, education is an indispensable ornament;
here, it is a means to an end. Thus, though primary education may be
much more widely spread in England, higher education is much more widely
spread in France.

It is at school that young England begins to learn to make genuflections
before the Golden Calf. The best prizes awarded in the large public
schools are prizes of money. These establishments grant exhibitions of
from £40 to £100 a year, during four or five years, to the best of the
pupils who leave them to go to the Universities of Oxford or Cambridge.

This scholarship system would be admirable if its object was to help the
sons of poor[4] parents to continue their studies at the Universities;
but such is not the case; these scholarships are constantly awarded,
either through competitive examination, or through the personal interest
of a governor, to sons of rich parents. And yet, these scholarships were
founded by charitable persons, who bequeathed money to be applied to the
education of the intelligent sons of poor parents. At present, the
scholarships of the great schools of the City are at the disposal of the
City Companies, who have monopolized them for their families and
friends, for charity is organized on an immense scale in England,
especially that well-ordered kind which begins at home.

The consequence of this state of things is that John Bull, that
unsurpassed payer of taxes, is obliged to keep up Board schools in
London at an enormous expense. If the great City schools fulfilled the
purpose for which they were established by their "pious founders,"
school rates would be reduced by one-half.

"No money, no Englishman."

The Royal Academy is closed on Sundays; no free day.

The now annual exhibitions at South Kensington are closed on Sundays.
No free entry during the week.

The Zoölogical Gardens are, as a matter of fact, open free on
Sundays ... but only for the well-to-do classes, who may obtain
special orders from the Fellows of the Zoölogical Society.

All the museums are closed on Sundays.

There is no place for the poor at the banquet of life in England. For
them, beer and Bible, only.

They take beer.

Not even at church is there room for them; for I maintain that the man
or woman whose clothes were not what is called here _decent_, would be
turned away from the door; what the pastors want are sheep who will take
a pew by the year, and put silver pieces on the plate.

And people marvel, or rather lament, that the workman, who has worked
all the week, and has no home fit to spend his Sunday in, spends it at
the public house.

But where is he to go? The English, who are generally so sensible, are
curiously inconsistent in this matter.

       *       *       *       *       *

I have seen, in English illustrated papers, pictures of Sunday in London
and Sunday in Paris. The first represented a dirty mob of men and
women, drinking, quarreling, and fighting; the second, groups of
workmen, accompanied by their wives, their children, and their old
parents, in contemplation before the pictures in the Louvre Museum.

This was doing us justice for once.

Intelligent and liberal England is moving heaven and earth to get the
museums thrown open to the people on Sundays. The Prince of Wales, and
the leaders of all the aristocracies of the country, are at the head of
the movement; but all the little narrow-minded and bigoted world is
leagued against them, and it is not probable that they will succeed.
Meanwhile, the London taverns remain open, which proves that the English
bigots consider gin and beer more powerful moral stimulants than the
masterpieces of great artists; such appears also to be the decided
opinion of the bishops, who never fail to attend at the House of Lords
in full force when the subject is coming on for discussion.

England erects her statues to the nobility and to finance. You see,
England's great literary men were so numerous, that they had to be
relegated to a corner of Westminster Abbey, for fear they should hinder
circulation in the streets. With the aid of a guidebook, you may succeed
in discovering the tablets erected to their memory by a not too grateful
country.

Thackeray, the immortal author of "Vanity Fair," is rewarded with a
tablet about a foot square. But, then, if you will take a walk around
the Stock Exchange, you will see the third statue of the Duke of
Wellington, and one of Peabody, the millionaire. In a little narrow City
street, a bust of Milton, in an obscure niche, reminds the passer-by
that the author of "Paradise Lost" was born in that place. It is
comparatively unnoticed. In the wild, headlong, guinea chase, there is
no time for trifling! Paris has a _Rue Milton_ to make up for it.

Yet this thirst for gold has been the greatest civilizing power of
modern times. It is this which has opened up new markets for commerce in
the remotest corners of the world. This British Empire, which has been
called a brazen colossus with feet of clay, is the greatest empire it
was ever given to man to found.

In a hundred years' time, Australia will probably be a strong and
independent Republic, a second America; but the separation will mean no
loss of prestige or of profit to England; her commerce will not suffer;
her steamboats will continue to ply between London and Sydney, as they
do between Liverpool and New York.

       *       *       *       *       *

Who would dare to compare the greater number of England's conquests to
those sterile ones that only survive in man's memory by the tears and
blood that they have caused to flow?

"We are a wonderful people," cries General Gordon, in his _Diary at
Khartoum_; "it was never our Government which made us a great nation;
our Government has ever been the drag on our wheels. England was made by
adventurers, not by her Government; and I believe she will only hold her
place by adventurers."

This is true enough.

They were adventurers, who were the first to set foot on the soil of
those remote regions which have been added one by one to the lists of
England's colonies; but if England is a great nation, it is thanks to
heroic deeds, such as thine, great advanced sentinel of modern
civilization, who for months couldst unaided keep hordes of barbarians
in check; it is thanks to heroes of thy stamp, poor Gordon!

       *       *       *       *       *

England conquers by the railway. She imposes her civilization and her
commerce in the countries she subdues, puts the natives in the way of
earning money, and sensibly takes care to make her yoke felt as little
as possible. Her commercial power makes her indispensable to the rest of
the world, including the shareholders of the Suez Canal Company, to whom
she pays more than three times as much as all the other powers put
together.

That which makes the strength of this colonial empire, is that each
colony, like each child in the mother-country, serves the apprenticeship
of life in the enjoyment of liberty.

As each colony becomes rich enough to suffice unto itself, and strong
enough to defend itself, England says to the colonists: "You are now big
enough to manage for yourselves, it is time you learnt to do without my
help." This is what the Englishman says to his sons, as they come to
man's estate. The colony forms its government, chooses its ministers,
and its parliament; sends representatives to England to watch over its
interests there, and becomes, as it were, a branch house of that
immense firm, known in every latitude, under the name of "John Bull and
Company."[5]

All forms of worship will lend themselves to exaggeration and develop
eccentricities, and most certainly it is not the worship of the Golden
Calf that is an exception to the rule. Let us look at the question from
this side as well as the other.

You never run the risk of offending an Englishman by offering him money.

Everyone must remember the lamentations of the Madagascar missionary,
Mr. Shaw. The reverend gentleman had been parted from his flock, and
obliged to take pot-luck on board the late Admiral Pierre's vessel. What
meant those jeremiads? Was it apologies he wanted? Not a bit of it! This
apostle wanted cash. From the day that he received $5000 from the French
Government not a word more was heard from him. He was quiet and happy.

$5000 for having eaten a few bad dinners! It does not fall to everyone's
share to dine so satisfactorily as that.

Although the labor of preparing the posthumous works of Victor Hugo for
publication will be enormous, his literary executors have refused to
accept the profits, sure to be immense, which the poet meant should be
the reward of their arduous task. But the thought of receiving money for
such a labor of love is odious to them. English people may look upon
this as sentimentality, but it compares very favorably with the highly
practical proceedings of Thomas Carlyle's literary executor.

M. H----, the French _député_, who obtained 10,000 francs damages the
other day, in Paris, from an individual who had insulted his wife, gave
the money to the poor the very same day. It is a fact that, in France,
no man, jealous of his honor, would pocket such gains.

"But," you will say, "surely the Reverend Mr. Shaw gave his $5000 to the
poor, or to some good cause----?"

You little know the type.

In England, it is only too much the fashion to carry everything to the
bank--an insult, a kick, the loss of a lover, the faithlessness of a
wife, all possible inconveniences; the almighty guinea consoles for
every wrong, and may be offered to anyone.

On his wedding day (January 28, 1885), the Rev. Stephen Gladstone, Vicar
of Hawarden, and son of the Prime Minister of England, received, among
his numerous wedding presents, a check for a hundred pounds from Dr. Sir
Andrew Clark, and another for the same sum from the Duke of Westminster.
The thing was so natural that not a single English paper commented on
the fact.

In France, such a wedding present could only be offered to a domestic
who had served us faithfully for some time.

I was in France, spending a few days with a farmer in the heart of the
country.

Dressed in a blouse and a large straw hat, I was one day taking a walk
on the main road, when an Englishman, accompanied by a young lad of
fifteen, accosted me, and asked which was the shortest way to the
village of M----.

Delighted to see an Englishman, I volunteered all the information that
was at my command. I even offered to accompany him as far as the lane
which led to M----, and he willingly accepted.

After racking my brains to give my Englishman every detail I could think
of, concerning the interesting village he was about to visit, I proposed
to turn back.

He, after having uttered a formidable "Aoh" for all thanks, went on his
way.

I had spoken in French. I always like to make Englishmen speak French
when I meet them in France. It is my little revenge.

I will admit that, in my rustic attire, I could not have looked much of
a dandy; but, in France, we have still preserved that good old habit of
saying "Thank you," even to our inferiors.

The Briton had simply treated me as he would have a City policeman who
had told him his way.

I called him back.

"_Excusez-moi_," I said.

"_Aoh! mon ami, oui ... je savé ce que vo--volé ... je demandé
pardonne._"

And, without another word, he drew from his pocket a fifty-centime
piece, which he slipped into my hand.

As you must always keep what an Englishman gives you a chance of
pocketing, I did not hesitate to put the fifty-centimes in a safe place.

This done, I said to him in decent English:

"My dear sir, let me give you a piece of advice. When you have got a
Frenchman to talk himself hoarse to explain to you your way, just thank
him."

"Why, sir, you speak English----"

He was immediately all apologies.

"Above all," I continued, "never offer money in this country before you
are quite sure it will be acceptable. You might have it thrown in your
face," I added laughing.

My Englishman held out his hand, as if to receive back his fifty
centimes.

"Oh! with me," I said to him, "there is no danger. I have lived a long
while in England, and I am pretty businesslike by this time. I never
throw money out of windows or in people's faces ... I put it in my
pocket."

My practical ideas won me his esteem. We laughed heartily over the
adventure, and parted the best of friends.

       *       *       *       *       *

After having beaten the Ashantees, in 1874, brought home the umbrella of
their king, and burnt their capital, a feat not requiring much talent,
the dwellings being built of wood and straw, General Wolseley, on his
return to England, had a grant of £25,000 made to him. Eight years
later, on his return from Egypt, this same general received a peerage
and £28,000. Lord Alcester, his companion in arms, who had operated on
the walls of Alexandria, while he was operating on the backs of the
Egyptians, also obtained a peerage and £30,000. When I consider that,
during the siege of Alexandria, the English had only three men put _hors
de combat_, it occurs to me that doubtless these rewards were granted to
Lord Alcester at the suggestion of the British Royal Humane Society.

And yet General Roberts, the history of whose celebrated march to
Candahar will remain written in letters of gold among the records of the
great military feats of the present century, had to content himself with
the Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath.

General Wolseley, now Baron of Cairo, a name so grotesque that he has
never yet cared to assume it in public, was one day sent back to the
Soudan to deliver Gordon, that modern _chevalier sans peur et sans
reproche_. The perspective was tempting; there was every prospect of an
ample harvest of honors and banknotes. Unfortunately, the Mahdi cut the
grass under the general's feet, and he arrived too late. Poor Gordon had
to die, not to save his country, but to become, and forever remain, a
specter at England's feast, the victim of her vacillations, a standing
reproach to her indifference.

Gordon and Wolseley! to think that, by the irony of fate, these two
names should have been associated in the same campaign! The soldier
saint, and the noble millionaire, whose victories are sounded with the
clink of guineas.

"Look, here, upon this picture, and on this."

And you, O heroes of antiquity, arise from your long sleep, and see the
progress that military art has made! Veil your faces, O Fabricius,
Cincinnatus, and all you Romans, who, after you had subdued your
country's foes, and drawn fettered kings behind your triumphal chariots,
returned to cultivate your fields, and died so poor that you had to be
buried at the public expense.


It has long been England's practice to reward with money those who had
rendered services to the country.

After the battle of Waterloo, the Duke of Wellington received, as a
present from the nation, £400,000 and a palace at the entrance of Hyde
Park.

With reference to the grants to the famous Duke of Marlborough, that
great general, who filled the hearts of his enemies with terror, and the
pockets of his family with the money of his countrymen, and whose
descendants still receive from the state the sum of £4000 a year, Swift
compares, in the _Examiner_, the generosity of the Romans with the
generosity of the English:

_A Bill of Roman Gratitude._

  For frankincense, and earthen pots to burn it in,    $22.50
  A bull for sacrifice,                                 40.00
  An embroidered garment,                              250.00
  A crown of laurel,                                      .05
  A statue,                                            500.00
  A trophy,                                            400.00
  A thousand copper medals, value half-penny apiece,    10.20
  A triumphal arch,                                   2500.00
  A triumphal car,                                     500.00
  Casual charges at the triumph,                       750.00
                                                     --------
      Total,                                         $4972.75

_A Bill of British Gratitude._

  Woodstock,                                          $200,000.00
  Blenheim,                                          1,000,000.00
  Post-office grant,                                   500,000.00
  Mildenheim,                                          150,000.00
  Pictures, jewels, etc.,                              300,000.00
  Pall Mall grant,                                      50,000.00
  Employments,                                         500,000.00
                                                     -------------
      Total,                                         $2,700,000.00

John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, was pocketing these $2,700,000
about the time when Fléchier, comparing Turenne to Maccabæus, was able
to say of him, "that he would never accept any other reward, for the
services he rendered to his country, than the honor of having served
her."

It is not at the Abbey of Westminster, it is on the façade of the Bank
of England that there ought to be written:

     HERE ENGLAND SHOWS HER GRATITUDE TO HER GREAT MEN.



CHAPTER XIX.

WHY THE FRENCH WERE BEATEN IN 1870.


Everyone accounted for our disasters of 1870 after his own fashion. The
most ingenious theories were brought forward, and we very well know why
we believe it to be indispensable and patriotic to learn German.

"Ah!" cried some, "if we had only known German, we should not have been
defeated." And forthwith instruction in German was decreed obligatory.

"That is not it," said others, "it is our geography, of which we did not
know even the rudiments, that has been the cause of all the evil. On
leaving Paris, our officers, ignorant of the meanders of the Seine,
thought that they were beating a retreat each time they came to a fresh
bend of that river." And the study of geography received a fillip.

Others again would have it to be that if the visors of our soldier's
_képis_ had not been lifted upward in front, the Prussians would have
had a warm time of it. Down came the visors without delay.

I pass over the pious people, who saw in our disasters only the just
chastisement of our faults, and will only give the opinion of Thomas
Carlyle. This philosopher, whom the hazard of birth had made English,
but who was a perfect German, cried out that "Germanic virtues had
triumphed over Gallic vices."

Some few worthy folks, perfectly destitute of genius, but possessing an
ounce or two of common sense, attributed our defeats to the fact that
the Germans had an army of 1,200,000 men, whereas our own forces
scarcely numbered 350,000. I fancy it is these latter that history will
show to have been in the right.

The virtuous Germans that vanquished us, were they, after all, so clever
at geography and French? This is how they learnt the geography they
required, and how they made themselves understood in French:

A few Uhlans would approach to within a respectful distance of a
village. There they would seize upon the first peasant, old man, or
child, that passed, place a pistol to his throat, and after asking, "Are
there any French soldiers in your village?" would say: "Show us the way
to such and such place, and tell us the names of all the people around
here, who have wine in their cellars, or hay in their barns. And you had
better take care to tell the truth, or we will blow your brains out, and
set fire to the four corners of your village."

Loaded pistols and lighted torches are magical quickeners of slow
intellects; a deaf man would understand such arguments as these. If I
took by the collar the first lad I came across in Germany, and, lifting
my stick to his head, shouted into his ear: "You young rascal, I will
knock your head off," I will warrant he would understand me as quickly
as if I spoke the purest German.

If we have any spare time, let us learn German that we may be able to
read Goethe and Schiller; from the practical point of view, the utility
of German is but secondary. If we should ever demand of Germany the
provinces that she wrenched from us, we shall find we have enough
German-speaking mouths, if we can only put into the field as many mouths
of cannon as Wilhem II.



CHAPTER XX.

ENGLAND WORKS FOR HERSELF. THE WORLD OWES HER NOTHING.


"If," as M. Rénan says,[6] "those nations which have an exceptional fact
in their history expiate this fact by long sufferings and pay for it
with their national existence--if the nations that have created unique
things by which the world profits often die victims of their
achievements," England may hope to live a considerable time yet, for
everything that she undertakes is national, never universal. She works
for herself and herself alone. Whenever she is asked to co-operate in
the execution of a great project of universal interest, she refuses
pointblank, unless it appears quite clear to her that she alone will
reap the profits and honors of the undertaking. An Englishman's sphere
of action is always England and her colonies; his only aim, British
interests--two magic words to his ears.

If the Channel Tunnel could be made so that it could only be used by the
English, it would be commenced to-morrow.

Lord Beaconsfield pronounced patriotism to be the most rational form of
egotism. Would to Heaven it might be so interpreted in France!

When shall we, in France, cease to strive after the extraordinary and
the universal? When shall we cease to concern ourselves about the
happiness of the whole human race and, minding our own business,
undertake only the possible and the practical? When shall we cease to
become inventors and be men of business?

There is not much discovered in England nowadays, except new ways of
dodging the arch-enemy.

       *       *       *       *       *

Yet it was Newton who discovered the infinitesimal calculus and the laws
of universal gravitation. Yet it was England that produced Shakespeare,
the sublimest example of the Creator's handiwork. Yet it was Harvey who
discovered the circulation of the blood. But now England is entirely
given over to business; she has no time to throw away upon inventions.

For that matter, why should England go in for inventing? She has money
and a genius for commerce, and, possessing these, can do without
inventors, who, as a rule, die in the workhouse, with the satisfaction
of knowing that shrewd men of business have made fortunes out of their
discoveries.

This has always been so. Even the sublime and Divine Thinker expiated
with an ignominious death the invention of a theory which, but for the
meddling of speculators, would have insured the happiness of the world.
To-day He can contemplate from His celestial throne, the bishops coming
out of their palaces in luxurious carriages to go to the House of Lords
and vote against the opening of museums on Sundays, or on their way to
the Mansion House to feast with the Lord Mayor, who gives better dinners
than were to be had in Galilee, I assure you.

       *       *       *       *       *

The world is made up of fools and knaves, such was the judgment passed
upon mankind by Thomas Carlyle, the great English historian, a rough and
dyspeptic philosopher, who himself, however, was neither a knave nor a
fool.

This writer, who passed his life in insulting his countrymen one after
another, who could make love to his wife by correspondence when she was
far away, but who never found an amiable word to say to her when she was
near, this same Thomas Carlyle has calumniated the world. Where should
we be without the few disinterested heroes who have devoted themselves
to the amelioration of their fellow-creatures, and who, in return, have
received but poverty and prison, torture and death? The men who have
suffered for country, religion, science, liberty; are these Carlyle's
fools?



CHAPTER XXI.

THE SPIRIT OF DESTRUCTION AND THE SPIRIT OF CONSERVATISM.


How is it that the French are such vandals with regard to their country
and their institutions, seeing that the love for their family, respect
for their parents, and veneration for souvenirs, are such marked
features in their character? The fact is that France is towed
unresistingly by Paris, and that we often have to say "the French," when
in reality we only mean "the Parisians."

We are accused of no longer having much respect for anything. Alas! that
it should be impossible to deny such an accusation!

A country, just like a family, lives by its traditions, its souvenirs,
even by its prejudices. Destroy these souvenirs, some of which serve as
examples and others as warnings, destroy these traditions, and you
break the chain that binds the family together, and the past, though
never so glorious, has been lived in vain. Is a country less dear to her
sons because of her prejudices? Do we not love to find them in a dear
old mother?

Do not the very prejudices and weaknesses, the thousand little failings
of our friends, often endear them to us?

Then why are we not content with France as she is? Why be always wanting
to change her? Is it possible that we Frenchmen, the most home-abiding
men in the world, can be attacked by this ridiculous mania for change?

       *       *       *       *       *

The study of the French language furnishes of itself plain proof of our
spirit of destruction, and the _Dictionnaire des Significations_, which,
is shortly to be published, and is awaited with impatience by the
learned world, will show, by the history of the changes of meaning that
our words have undergone, that the character of the French people can
be recognized to this very day by the descriptions that were given of it
two thousand years ago.

The French word _benît_ formerly meant "blessed."

Thanks to the jokes of the old Gauls, our ancestors, it now means
"silly." Our forefathers heard in church: "Benedicti stulti quia
habebunt regnum coelorum."[7] Bénis seront les pauvres d'esprit, car
ils auront le royaume des cieux. Now, in French, _pauvre d'esprit_ means
"silly," and, on their way home, the old jokers would indulge in merry
remarks at one another's expense. When anyone gave proof of want of wit,
he was congratulated on having his entry into the kingdom of heaven
secured:

"You are _stultus_ enough to be _benedictus_"; and the first adjective
soon came to have the meaning of the second.

It will soon be impossible to pronounce the word _fille_ in good
society, except to express relationship.

Why are we obliged to make use of this word to designate a child of the
feminine sex? Simply because the feminine of _garçon_ began to be used
in a bad sense in the seventeenth century. Before the feminine of
_garçon_--which the French had to give up, as they will soon have to
give up the word _fille_--they had a word which is, in the present day,
a horribly coarse expression.

Such is the march of the spirit of destruction.

The Gauls have always been rich in wit, but wit often of a bantering and
sarcastic kind, which disparages and covers with ridicule, and of which
Voltaire was the personification.

People who eat sausages on a Friday,[8] in France, think they are doing
a smart thing, and rebelling against a form of tyranny, forgetting that
Lenten fasts had originally a sanitary reason. To give rest to the
stomach, such was the aim; and a French physician said to me one day:
"If there were no Lent in the spring, I should order my patients to fast
two or three times a week, through that season of the year."

The Talmud forbids the Jews to eat pork, because that meat is heavy and
indigestible; the Koran forbids the use of wine among the Mussulmans,
because of its intoxicating properties; in fact, have not all these
religious edicts a foundation of common sense, and do we not give proof
of common sense in conforming to them? Truly, he is but a pitiful
hero--not to use a stronger term--who boasts of not following a salutary
counsel, that he does not know how to appreciate, because he does not
understand.

       *       *       *       *       *

The English, unlike us, cling to their past, and because a custom is
old, that is a sufficient reason, in their eyes, for holding it sacred.
I feel sure that there is not an Englishman, who does not religiously
eat his slice of plum pudding on Christmas Day, let him be in the Bush,
at the Antipodes, on land or on water, and no matter in what latitude.

It is a veritable communion.

The English observance of the Sunday is tyrannical, I admit, but it is
an ancient institution, and, if kept in an intelligent way, should
command respect.

If the people of Great Britain do not build anything in a day, they
have, at any rate, the good habit of not demolishing anything in a day.

The Englishman has an innate love of old walls that recall to him a
historical fact, a departed grandeur, a memory of his childhood.

I have been present at many a touching scene, that has proved to me how
deeply the _religio loci_ is rooted in the heart of every true-born
Englishman.

Here is one.

An old City School, dating from the fifteenth century, had just been
transplanted into one of the suburbs of London.

The new building is a palace compared with the old.

Yet it was with profound sadness that old scholars learnt of the removal
of the school from its time-honored home. If they could have had a voice
in the matter, the change would not have taken place. The splendor of
the new school was nothing to them; the name was the same, but it was
their old school no more. On the day of the farewell ceremony in the
City, I saw gray-headed men, who had come from distant parts of the
country, on purpose to bid farewell to the venerable walls, to have one
more look at them.

       *       *       *       *       *

If England, who only dates from the eleventh century, lives on her
souvenirs and turns to them for inspiration, with what souvenirs might
we inspire ourselves--we who have been a nation for twenty-three
centuries?

There was no England when we were the terror of Rome. There was no
England when our brave and generous ancestors went to battle to deliver
or avenge an oppressed nation, or welcomed a poor stranger as a friend
sent by the gods. There was no England when Vercingetorix made Cæsar
tremble, nor was there yet an England when, eight hundred years later,
the exploits of Roland were inspiring the poets of the whole of old
Europe.

Ah! let us cling to our past, we who have such a glorious one! Where is
the nation that can boast such another?



CHAPTER XXII.

ORDER AND LIBERTY.


Obedience is the watchword of England.

The Englishman revolts only against injustice, and that but
figuratively. Brought up to respect the law, it is in the name of the
law that he demands redress for his grievances, and by the law that he
obtains it.

_Dieu et mon droit_, such is his device; notwithstanding that he has
rather monopolized the first, and that his definition of the second is a
trifle vague, it is certain that by them he is stimulated to do great
deeds.

       *       *       *       *       *

Take the schoolboy, for instance.

In most of the great public schools of England, the refractory schoolboy
is still chastised by means of the rod, but do not imagine that
punishment is administered in an arbitrary fashion. The young offender
is brought to judgment. The head master hears the evidence against him,
and listens to his defense. If he is found guilty of the offense with
which he is charged, the head master pronounces his condemnation and the
boy is corrected on the spot. He submits without a murmur. The system
may be bad, but what is good about it is that it generally proves a
thorough _correction_ for the child.

Under similar circumstances, a French schoolboy would probably seize an
inkstand, or the first thing he could lay hands on, and menace his judge
or his executioner with it.

Do not ask me which of the two I prefer, but let me tell you that the
only punishments I have any objection to are unjust or arbitrary ones,
and that severe ones, administered with discretion, are generally
salutary. At all events, I ask you not to believe that the young
Englishman is cowardly because he knows how to endure pain, and is
submissive, for a few minutes later you will see him rejoin his
comrades at their play, and perform veritable acts of heroism. It almost
seems to me that a child gives proof of courage in submitting to a
punishment which he knows he has deserved, and that a spirit of
submission to discipline is more to be commended in him than a spirit of
rebellion. In resigning himself to his fate, and enduring his
punishment, the English schoolboy learns to master a passion; the French
schoolboy, in rebelling, allows a passion to master him. If the English
system is bad, the French one must be worse.

Since I have pronounced the word _rebellion_, allow me to show you how
differently the thing is understood in French and English schools.

Let us suppose that some privilege, which the pupils have long enjoyed,
and looked upon as their right, has been withdrawn, rightly or wrongly,
no matter which. What will the French schoolboys do? They will probably
retire to a dormitory, there to sulk and protest _vi et armis_. They
will barricade themselves, victual the intrenchments for a few hours,
and prepare for a struggle. Rebellion has wonderful charms for them;
they are insurgents, therefore they are heroes. If the cause be a bad
one, that matters little, it will be sanctified by the revolution; the
main thing is to play at the _peuple souverain_. These hot-headed youths
will stand a siege as earnestly as if they had to defend their native
soil; dictionaries, inkstands, boots, bedroom furniture, such are the
missiles that are pressed into service in the glorious battle for
liberty.

But, alas for youthful valor! it all fades before the pleadings of an
empty stomach; the struggle is abandoned, the citadel forsaken, and arms
are laid down. The misguided ones are received back into the fold, to be
submitted to stricter discipline than ever, the heroic instigators of
the little _fête_ are, in the end, restored to the tender care of their
mammas, or, in other words, expelled from the school. And for a boy to
be expelled from a French _lycée_ is no light matter, for the doors of
all the others are closed to him, and the pleasure of playing at heroes
for a few hours is often bought at the price of ruined prospects.

They manage these things differently in England. Under the same
circumstances, this is what the schoolboys of old England would do. A
dozen of the most influential and respectable among them would promptly
form themselves into a committee, and organize an indignation meeting of
all the pupils of the school. This meeting would be presided over by the
captain of the school, or even by one of the masters, and the grievance
would be discussed, not with any display of temper, but with the calm
dignity of the free citizen. Propositions made by the boys, and duly
seconded in a parliamentary manner, would be put to the vote, and the
president would be charged to transmit such resolutions to the proper
authorities. The meeting would then break up in a perfectly orderly
manner and without a murmur, everyone going his way, like a good
Republican who had just performed a civic duty of the gravest
importance.

Such a meeting as this has never been interdicted by the authorities,
for the very simple reason that such a meeting never endangered the good
discipline of a school.

       *       *       *       *       *

Has it indeed fallen to our lot, to us who live under a Republic, to see
a people living under a Monarchy enjoying every form of liberty; liberty
of thought, liberty of speech, liberty of the press, liberty to meet
together, in fact the right of grumbling in every form imaginable; to
see them able to get redress for all their grievances, without having
recourse to violence?

Do you remember the great manifestations in favor of the abolition of
the House of Lords?

The Lords had refused to sanction the Franchise Bill--a bill which was
to give electoral rights to two millions of Englishmen, who had been
deprived of them up to that time. Two hundred thousand persons meet and
quietly-pass through the great arteries of London. Not a voice is
lifted. The immense crowd makes for Hyde Park and there divides itself
into twelve groups around twelve improvised platforms. Speeches are
made, resolutions passed, and the meeting breaks up in an orderly
manner.

But, you will say, the police were there, of course, to see that these
people did not break the law.

The police, indeed! Yes, most certainly they were there; but it was to
protect the people's right of meeting, and not to hinder them, or oppose
them, in the exercise of their privileges.

It was really a wonderful sight for a foreigner, to see this crowd, bent
upon overthrowing the Constitution, preceded, flanked, and followed, by
mounted police, whose duty it was to see that these subjects of Her
Majesty were allowed to protest unmolested! And that which afforded me
some amusement and more instruction still, was the sight of the Prince
of Wales and some friends of his, installed on a balcony at
Whitehall,[9] and evidently there to see the fun; to see at Pall Mall
windows the faces of lords, apparently much amused in watching these
people, who had taken a holiday, and who, if they did not gain their
point, had the satisfaction of feeling that they lived in a country
where they could air their grievances freely.

The House of Lords exists still, but its members passed the Franchise
Bill.

The Lords are wise persons.

       *       *       *       *       *

Ah! how quickly our anniversary-keepers would draw in their horns, if
the Minister of the Interior spoke to them somewhat in this manner:
"You wish to hold your demonstration, my friends ... I beg your pardon,
citizens; why, certainly! Demonstrate away, to your heart's content;
there is nothing to hinder you. You want to carry a red flag about the
streets? Carry it by all means--red, yellow, blue, any color of the
rainbow that you like best. I will put as many policemen at your
disposition as you may require to protect you in the free exercise of
your rights."

How small the revolutionary would look if he were talked to in this way!
How mortified he would be! But draw your sword, and he is happy. He goes
about crying:

"The people are being slaughtered!"

It is the very worst course that could be adopted. The proper cure for
the mania for demonstrations is not the sword, but a little cold water.

Try how many followers you will get for a standard of revolt raised with
the cry:

"The people are being syringed?"

Ah! where is the Government that will have first the strength, and then
the good sense, to leave the people alone, instead of doing its best to
irritate them into adopting the _rôle_ of martyr? Monarchy or Republic,
what matters the name of this Government, so that it gives us what we
are in search of--our liberty.

The English newspapers love to fill their columns with the sayings and
doings of French Anarchists, so as to try and prove to their readers
that France "is still navigating on a volcano," although they know very
well that our revolutionary mountains are incapable of bringing forth
even a mouse, as the ridiculous failure of the proposed Anarchist
demonstration at Victor Hugo's funeral proved. The English know
perfectly well that in the year 1867, thanks to the inopportune meddling
of the police, there was a riot, in Hyde Park, which was likely to have
proved very serious. The English know all this; but the pot always had a
trick of calling the kettle black.

Our lower orders are a thousand times more intelligent than the English
ones; and when the French police force cease to be the symbol, the
instrument, of an arbitrary power, in order to become, in some sort, the
protection of the people, our workmen will astonish the world with their
good behavior, as they did on the day of our immortal poet's apotheosis.

The Frenchman is impressionable, excitable; but he is gentle, and easy
to govern. The Parisians never raised any riots that could not be traced
to the want of tact, or the malice, of the Government; and we all know
that if M. Thiers had not been so bent upon putting down a small
revolution, he would not have stirred up a large one; the Commune would
have been nipped in the bud at the Buttes-Chaumont on the 18th of May,
1871. The harmless folk who were looking after the famous cannons would
have been only too pleased to go home.

A nation does not learn the proper use of freedom in a day. It does not
understand at first sight that obedience and respect for the law are two
virtues indispensable to everyone who wishes to get on tolerably under
a democracy; it is for the Government to teach it its lesson. To do this
properly, an authority is wanted which shall be vigilant, while making
itself felt as little as possible.

This liberty should be the monopoly of no one, but the privilege of each
and all. Every time our police officers pounce upon a red flag and tear
it up, every time they suppress a Catholic school, or force open the
doors of a convent, the fruits of many a month's lessons are lost. We go
back; but the cause of the white or red flag is advanced.

Why is Roman Catholicism perfectly powerless in England, politically
speaking?

Because Protestant England allows the Romanists to open as many
churches, schools, and convents as they please.

All that England demands from those who live on her hospitable soil is
respect for her laws. Monarchs exiled by their subjects, and Communists,
Nihilists, Socialists, exiled by their monarchs, may jostle one another
in her streets any day; the individual liberty of the revolutionary
subject being held as sacred as that of the ex-monarch.

       *       *       *       *       *

Our neighbor's eccentricities are but the natural fruit of liberty; and
these same eccentricities, which amuse us so much, in England pass
unnoticed. Everyone does as he pleases, and thinks it quite natural that
others should do the same. I have seen young girls on tricycles make
their way through a crowd, without an unpleasant remark or a joke being
indulged in at their expense. The men made way, and allowed them to pass
without remarking them more than if they had been on horseback.

Do not fear the abuse of liberty; among an intelligent race, good sense
will always take the upper hand.

Liberty is sure to lead to a few excesses; but it does not suffer
because of them.

Take England again.

English religious liberty is in no wise in danger because the law
tolerates, nay, protects, the rowdy proselytes of the Booth family. True
religion may suffer, but not religious liberty.

The right of association is not in danger because a _philanthropic_ club
has been formed at Ashpull, in Lancashire, by men who subscribe to
defray the costs when one of their number is fined for ill-treating his
wife.[10]

No, no, these eccentricities do but prove the vital force of England.

       *       *       *       *       *

There is no need to penetrate deeply into French and English life, to
study the tempers of the two nations. The streets of London and Paris
furnish the observer with ample materials every day.

In the month of April, 1891, I was one day on the top of the Odeon
omnibus. In the Boulevard des Italiens some repairs were going on, and
at the corner of the Rue de Richelieu there was such a crowd of
carriages as to cause a block. The question then arose, who was to pass
first, those who came from the Madeleine or those who came from the
Bastille. An altercation soon arose between the drivers, and that in a
vocabulary which I will spare my readers. Meanwhile, the string of
carriages lengthened, and the matter was becoming serious. At last up
comes a police officer who gets the situation explained to him,
forthwith enters into a discussion with the drivers, and tries to make
the Madeleine party understand that it is their place to give way. He
might as well have talked to the pavement. A hubbub uprose on all sides
enough to make one's hair stand on end. Everybody was in the right, it
seemed, and the poor police officer, tired of seeing his parliamentary
efforts so fruitless, withdrew, saying: "Very well, then, do as you
please; I'll have nothing more to do with it" (_sic_). About a quarter
of an hour later, we turned into the Rue de Richelieu.

And now here is a scene which you may witness every day in any part of
London.

In every spot where the traffic is great, you will see a policeman. He
is there to regulate the circulation of the vehicles, and protect the
foot passengers who may wish to cross the road. In the discharge of this
duty, all that he has to do is to lift his hand, and, at this gesture,
the drivers stop, like a company of soldiers at the word "halt!" Not a
murmur, not a sign of impatience, not a word. When the little
accumulation of foot passengers has safely crossed, the policeman lowers
his hand, and everything is in motion again.

How many times, as I have looked on at this sight, which to the English
appears so natural, have I said enviously to myself: "If these English
people are free, if they are masters of half the world, and of
themselves into the bargain, it is because they know how to obey!"

I know the favorite explanation of these striking contrasts: the
temperaments are different; the blood does not circulate in English
veins with so much impetuosity as it does in French ones. This is true,
though only to a certain extent. But be not deceived; it is the
difference which exists between the education of the two races that is
the real solution of the problem.



CHAPTER XXIII.

THE HUMORS OF POLITICS.


Ah! what I envy the English is that security for the morrow, which they
owe to a form of government no one, so to speak, thinks seriously of
questioning.

The Englishman is the stanchest monarchist, and at the same time the
freest man in the world, which proves that freedom is compatible with a
monarchial government. There is no French Legitimist more royalist than
he, there is no French Republican more passionately fond of liberty;
nay, I will go so far as to say that, in France, people would be treated
as dangerous demagogues, who demanded certain liberties which the
English have long possessed under a monarchy, and to defend which the
most conservative of them would allow himself to be rent in pieces.

At first sight, the theory of government in England appears to be most
simple; two great political parties, each having its leader, whose
authority is uncontested, and who takes office amid the acclamations of
half the nation. Is the country threatened with danger, party spirit
vanishes, Liberals and Conservatives disappear; the _Englishman_ is
supreme.

All this appears as simple as admirable. I will show farther on,
however, that if there is fixity in the form of the government, there
cannot be any consistency in the politics of the country.

       *       *       *       *       *

Things are forgotten to such an extent in England that I have rarely
seen a Liberal paper revert to the fact that Lord Beaconsfield, the
illustrious leader of the Conservative party, began his political life
in the ranks of the Radicals, or Conservative papers remind people that
Mr. Gladstone, the leader of the Liberals, began his brilliant career in
the Conservative ranks. At all events, I never saw anyone reproach
these great statesmen with having turned their coats. Lord Derby, who
was Minister for Foreign Affairs under Lord Beaconsfield, was Colonial
Minister in Mr. Gladstone's Cabinet. _Punch_ had a caricature on the
subject, and there was an end of the matter.

Such proceedings would excite contempt or indignation in France; but to
judge them in England from a French point of view would be absurd.

In France, political convictions rest on the form of government. In
England, everyone, or almost everyone, is of one mind on that subject;
Conservatives and Liberals both will have a democracy, having for its
object the material, moral, and intellectual progress of the people,
with a monarchy to act as ballast.

The only difference that I see in the history of the two parties, during
the last fifty years, is that the Conservatives willingly sacrifice
their home policy to the prestige of a spirited foreign policy, while
the Liberals pay more attention to internal politics, to the detriment,
perhaps, of foreign ones.

Here it should be added that, when an Englishman accepts the task of
forming a ministry, it is, in the eyes of his partisans, out of pure
abnegation, to serve his country, and, in the eyes of his opponents, out
of pure ambition, to serve his own interests.

The difference which separates a Monarchist and a Republican in France
is an abyss that nothing can bridge over; the difference which separates
a Liberal and a Conservative in England is but a trifling step.

So the candidate for Parliament, who rehearses, _in petto_, the little
speech that he means to address to the electors, winds up with:
"Gentlemen, such are my political convictions, but, if they do not
please you, let it be well understood between us that I am ready to
change them." Or: "Gentlemen, I used to be a Conservative, and at bottom
I am a Conservative still, but Mr. Gladstone has appointed me a Civil
Commissioner at a salary of £2000 a year, and I consider that a
statesman who chooses his servants so well ought to be supported by all
sensible men. Besides, in my new capacity, it is not a party that I am
serving, it is my country."

To speak seriously, I really see very little either in the so-called
Liberal or Conservative principles that can cause an Englishman to be
anything more than the partisan of a certain group of men.

Under the circumstances, it is not surprising that English politics
should, above all things, consist in doing in Office what has been
valiantly fought in Opposition; it is a school of incisive, passionate
debate--nothing more. The following incident, which is as instructive as
it is amusing, is sufficient proof of this:

When Lord Beaconsfield deftly snatched Cyprus from the "unspeakable"
Turk, in 1878, and, presenting it to John Bull, asked him to admire the
fine catch, John's Liberal sons turned up their noses, declared that the
honesty of the proceeding was dubious, and vowed the place was not fit
to send British soldiers to. "It would hardly be humane to send our
convicts there," they said; "not even flies could stand the climate."
Two years later the Tories went out of office, and the Liberals came to
power. What happened? You think, perhaps, that the Liberals promptly
restored the island to the Turks with their compliments and apologies.
Catch them! Better than that. No sooner were the Tories out of office
than the yachts of three leading Liberals might have been seen sailing
toward Cyprus, which, it would seem, a simple change of ministry had
changed into a health resort. In the beginning of May of the current
year, the Liberal Government gave orders to the military authorities of
the army of occupation in Egypt, to send to Cyprus all the sick
soldiers, who were in a fit state to be transferred--not to finish them
up, but actually to hasten their convalescence.

Ever since every householder has enjoyed electoral rights, each general
election has placed the Opposition in power; and the enfranchisement of
Mr. Gladstone's new _couches sociales_ is not likely to change this
state of things, which is, indeed, very easy to account for.

The necessarily guarded speech of those in office does not catch the ear
of the ignorant multitude so readily as the irresponsible talk of the
Opposition. The man in power has to defend a policy, the other attacks
it right and left; it is he who has the popular _rôle_. "Ah!" say the
crowd, "smart fellow that! if we could only have him in Office, things
would be done in a proper manner! What has become of all the fine
promises of the ministry?"

So they make up their minds to vote for the man who comes to them with
fresh promises, and to throw overboard the one who has not been able to
keep his.

If the Government has engaged in war, the Opposition proves to the
people what a disastrous, or, at the best, what a useless war it was; if
the Government has been able to maintain peace, the Opposition proves to
the people that it was at the price of national honor. The Opposition is
always in the right.

To think that men of talent should lower themselves so far as to flatter
the populace with such platitudes to obtain their favor! How sad a sight
is this vulgarization of politics! And people often wonder how it is
that, in democracies, the great thinkers, the genius of the nation,
refrain from buying the favors of the people at the price of their
dignity! Unhappily, this is the fate of democracies; they can but seldom
be ruled by the genius of the nation, by men who would not be
appreciated by the masses. No system lends itself better to the reign of
unscrupulous mediocrity, for no other system obliges its chiefs to come
and humble themselves before the ignorant populace, by giving them
acrobatic performances in order to obtain their suffrages.

Under a democracy, everybody goes into politics, and everybody requires
to be pleased.

The literary man, the scholar, the artist, all are criticised by more or
less competent judges; but the statesman, who is there that does not
criticise him? Who does not take upon himself to judge him without
appeal? Who does not drag him in the mud? Who does not cry, "Stop
thief!" when he is bold enough to buy a dozen railway shares, like the
smallest shopkeeper in the land?

No one says to himself, "The Prime Minister is not a fool; he ought to
know what he is about; and even if he were a rogue, is it not to his
interest to serve his country to the best of his ability?"

Why, even the schoolboy goes into politics nowadays.

I warrant that there is not a single man, in France or England, who does
not believe himself perfectly capable of criticising the acts of his
Prime Minister, and very few, who do not feel equal to filling his
place, if, for _the good of their country_, they were called by their
fellow-citizens to fulfill these arduous duties.

       *       *       *       *       *

There is a great virtue, a virtue eminently English, which we French do
not possess; respect for the man who is down. Yet it is not that we lack
magnanimity; but we also have our contrasts. Generous, of a chivalric
character, with a repugnance for any kind of meanness, we yet insult the
fallen man and even bespatter the memory of one who has gone to the
grave. We consoled ourselves for Sedan by singing "_C'est le Sire de
Fiche-ton-Camp_." On the death of M. Thiers, a celebrated Bonapartist
journalist exclaimed that he could jump for joy over the tomb of him who
had just liberated his country. Open the newspapers of to-day, and you
will still see Gambetta's memory insulted.

In England, they would have forgotten that Gambetta was a party man, and
have remembered only his eloquence, which that of Mirabeau alone could
have eclipsed, and which made him one of the brightest ornaments of
contemporary France.

       *       *       *       *       *

When Mr. Bright left the political arena for a world from whence
jealousy is banished, and subscription lists were opened for erecting a
statue to him, the Conservatives sent their contributions as well as the
Liberals; they forgot the Radical, and remembered but the orator and the
philanthropist. At the death of Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield,
it was Mr. Gladstone, the political enemy of the Tory chief, who
pronounced the panegyric of that illustrious man in the House of
Commons.

This is a sentiment that is found, it is interesting to notice, in all
classes, even down to the English rough. When two men of the lower
classes fight, and one of them falls to the ground, the other waits
until his adversary is up again, before returning to the attack. Do not
imagine, however, that this sentiment is born of magnanimous bravery,
for this same man, who respects his fallen adversary, will, as soon as
he reaches his hovel, seize his wife by her hair, knock her down, and
literally kick her to death at the first provocation.

In the latter case, there is no combat; there is correction administered
by the master to his slave.

If the English have more respect than we for the man who is down, it is
because they forget much more quickly than ourselves. Does this prove
that they have less intelligence or more generosity? No. They are less
impressionable, that is all. The trace disappears more easily, because
the impression is less deep. I think this is one of the most remarkable
differences between the two peoples.

       *       *       *       *       *

In France, it is not an unwise act that ruins a political man--it is,
above all things, a phrase blurted out in a moment of exultation. An act
is forgotten sooner or later; but an unfortunate phrase sticks to a
man, and becomes part and parcel of him, his motto, written on his
forehead in indelible characters, and which he carries with him to the
grave.

Take the case of M. Emile Ollivier. Since the fall of Thiers, we have
had no minister, with the exception of Gambetta, whose political talent
could be compared to that of the Liberal minister of Napoleon III. And
yet, M. Emile Ollivier little knows his compatriots, if he thinks it is
possible for him ever again to enter the political arena. To this very
day, the masses ignore that it was he who proclaimed war with Prussia,
but there is scarcely a child who does not know that he said "he
contemplated the coming struggle with a light heart." M. Ollivier is,
and will remain to the day of his death, the _light-hearted man_.
Ridicule kills in France, and M. Ollivier is ridiculous. It is all over
with him.[11]

M. Jules Favre was a great orator, and for that reason one of the
ornaments of his century. This is forgotten. He signed the disastrous
conditions of peace dictated by Prince Bismarck. That might have been
overlooked. But he had said beforehand that "not one inch of territory,
not one stone of any French fortress, would he yield." This sentence was
his political knell.

General Ducrot was a brave soldier. On leaving Paris to go and attack
the Prussians, he was so ill-advised as to declare that he would return
"dead or victorious." However, he was still more ill-advised to come
back alive and vanquished. Here was another only fit to throw overboard.

Our history is full of similar incidents; actions pass away and are
forgotten, words remain. Ask any ordinary Frenchman, not well up in the
history of France, who Mirabeau was. He will tell you that Mirabeau was
a representative of the people, who one day exclaimed at the _Assemblée
Constituante_: "We are here by the power of the people; nothing but the
power of the bayonet shall remove us."

The history of France might be written between inverted commas.

Louis XIV. has gone down to posterity with the formula: "_L'Etat c'est
moi_"; and Napoleon III. with that device, suggested by the irony of
fate: "_L'Empire c'est la paix_." Lamartine is the man who, outside the
Hôtel de Ville, cried: "The tricolor flag has been round the world; the
red flag has only been round the Champ de Mars." Thiers said: "The
Republican form of government is the one that divides us the least."
Gambetta: "Clericalism; that is the enemy."

And to parody a celebrated proverb, I might say that French politics may
be summed up in the words:

_Acta volant, verba manent._



CHAPTER XXIV.

LORDS AND SENATORS.


The existence of a hereditary House of Lords is a standing insult to the
common sense of the English people.

England is governed by the eldest sons of the aristocracy.

Now, all who have had much to do with youth are perfectly agreed that,
as a rule, the eldest son is the least intelligent in each family.

The first born is a _ballon d'essai_.

Moreover, the eldest son of the aristocrat is the sole heir to his
father's title and estates. He knows that the fortune cannot escape him.
And so, at school, he does no work; he leaves that sort of thing to his
younger brothers, who will have to make their way in the world. When he
leaves school or college, his chief subjects of preoccupation are Jews
and jockeys.

It is needless to add that, in the House of Lords, the proportion of
Conservatives to Liberals is overwhelming.

Consequently, when the Liberals are in power, the House of Lords is a
dangerous institution, which may at every moment hinder the working of
the governmental machine; and when the Conservatives are in power, the
House of Lords is a useless institution, because its approbation can be
relied upon in advance by the Government.

Does it not seem as if any second chamber must necessarily be dangerous
or useless?

       *       *       *       *       *

There is an episode of French history which, to my mind, has been
forgotten much too soon.

It teaches a great lesson on the usefulness of Upper Houses.

It was under the Second Empire.

The French Senate was then, intellectually speaking, a body of men
superior to the House of Lords, since they were picked men--chosen by
the Emperor, it is true, but still chosen. With the exception of
Sainte-Beuve, these senators of the Empire were more or less
Bonapartists; cardinals, archbishops, marshals, generals, literary men,
all men of importance. The duty of the Senate was to watch over the
Constitution, and to stop any bill, passed by the Chamber of Deputies,
that might have endangered the existence of the actual form of
Government.

Well, in July, 1870, the Franco-Prussian war broke out, and, on the 4th
of September, in the same year, the Chamber of Deputies deposed the
Emperor, and proclaimed the Republic.

Here was a grand opportunity for the senators of showing their power,
and of earning the 30,000 francs that they each received from their
master.

Yet what happened?

Not one voice was raised by the Senate against the act of the deputies.

Better still: nobody thought of taking the trouble to dismiss them
officially. In presence of the strong will of the people, they packed up
their traps quietly, and, to the best of my recollection, even forgot to
go to the counting-house to receive their month's pay.

Poor senators! they seemed to have the measure of their power in stormy
times to an inch.

In presence of the will of the nation, strongly manifested, the House of
Lords would be as powerless as the French Senate was in 1870.

       *       *       *       *       *

A strange application of that great English principle, "the right man in
the right place," is the existence of this same Upper House in England!

       *       *       *       *       *

What! can it be that this, the most sensible nation of the world, who
has withdrawn all the privileges of its monarchs, who has imposed
restrictions upon them, and will not even allow them to make the
slightest political allusion in public, can it be this nation that has
given itself so many masters at once? If the English do not allow their
kings unlimited power, it is because, in their wisdom, they fear that
those kings may be born fools, or grow into despots; but out of five
hundred lords, three or four hundred may be born fools; where then is
the gain? Better be governed by one fool than by three or four hundred.

Among a free people, intellect alone ought to be admitted into the
councils of the nation.

No one could have a word to say against such men as the Duke of Argyll
and the Marquis of Salisbury having a vote to cast into the scales of
England's destinies; but would not these able members of the aristocracy
of birth gain in influence and prestige, if they sat in an elected
house, side by side with the aristocracy of talent?

Perhaps they may think so themselves.

The House of Lords owes its existence to the English taste for
antiquities or curiosities; this people, to its honor be it said, only
slowly rids itself of its trammels.

It may safely be predicted that the first great political gust of wind
will blow away to pieces this sort of hydropathic establishment.



CHAPTER XXV.

WHAT FRANCE HAS DONE TO MERIT THE RESPECT OF THE WORLD.


France, ruined by the wars and extravagances of Louis XIV., exasperated
by the turpitudes of Louis XV., encouraged by the weakness of Louis
XVI., revolts. Thrones tremble, and the whole world is awe-struck at the
terrible Revolution. Kings league themselves together against her; but
such is her might that, with soldiers half armed, half clothed, half
fed, she puts to flight the allied armies of the enemies, who had sworn
to crush her.

Up rises a man and wrests from her all the liberty she had just bought
at the price of so much bloodshed. To steady himself upon an unsteady
throne, Napoleon engages in dynastic wars for ten years, marching his
victorious army from capital to capital, while Europe wonders and
trembles. At length the eagle falls, and France, sick of military glory,
beaten, but not humiliated, takes breath and submits to the Restoration
imposed upon her by the allied invaders. To console herself for the loss
of the Republic, a form of government least calculated to foster
literature and the fine arts, she profits by the return of monarchical
rule to inaugurate the Golden Age of 1830. I say _the Age of 1830_, for
such is the name this epoch, one of the most glorious in the history of
France, will be known by in the next century. Now appear, in poetry,
Victor Hugo, Lamartine, Alfred de Musset, Béranger; in fiction, Balzac,
Chateaubriand, Alexandre Dumas, George Sand; in history, Thiers, Guizot;
in political oratory, Manuel, Foy, Berryer; in criticism, Sainte-Beuve,
Jules Janin; in painting, Horace Vernet, Ingres, Delacroix, Gudin; in
music, Boiëldieu, Herold, Halévy, Auber; in tragedy, Talma, Rachel; in
comedy, Mars, Duvernoy; in opera, Nourrit, Duprez, Lablache, Baroilhet,
Malibran.

I have mentioned but a few of the princes of talent.

To keep her hand in practice, she makes the conquest of Algeria, and,
later on, having nothing else particular in hand, she takes it into her
head to make the Suez Canal, a gigantic undertaking, which of itself
would be enough to save the nineteenth century from oblivion. Ever
enamored of great names, she re-establishes the Empire, because there is
a man in the world who bears the name of the victor of Austerlitz.
Smitten once more with that strange malady, the love of glory, she
fights Russia in 1855 to prevent her from going to Constantinople, and
Austria in 1859 to create Italian unity. Then comes that terrible year,
the year 1870. With an army of 350,000 men, she sanctions a war, like
the child that she is, with a nation, which for sixteen years had been
silently preparing to avenge her defeat at Jena, and which had
1,200,0000 men ready to take the field. She is conquered, and, alas!
humiliated. She pays her conquerors $1,000,000,000, but this she has
almost forgotten, and sees wrenched from her two provinces that she
loved and was beloved by; this she will never forget. The following
year, she holds up her head, the richest and most esteemed of European
nations. To-day, if she only had a leader, republican or monarch, she
would be the strongest.

Ah, dear Foreigners all over the world, respect her, that beautiful
France! I have often heard the sincerest and most intelligent of you say
that no country in the world would probably have been able to do as
much.


THE END.



FOOTNOTES:


   [1] If my memory serves me, it was one of our wittiest
       vaudevillists who once laid a wager that he would get an
       encore, at one of our popular theaters on the Boulevard,
       for the following patriotic quatrain:

            "La lâcheté ne vaut pas la vaillance,
            Mille revers ne font pas un succès;
            La France, amis, sera toujours la France,
            Les Français seront toujours les Français."

       He won the bet.

       The London _badauds_ are at present nightly applauding, at
       the Empire Theater, a patriotic song which begins by the
       following words:

            "What though the powers the world doth hold
            Were all against us met,
            We have the might they felt of old,
            And England's England yet."

       Is it not strange that music-hall jingoism and _chauvinisme_
       should not only be expressed in the same manner, but by the
       very same words?

   [2] I take the word "admiration" in the Latin sense of "wonder."

   [3] The Germanic hordes, which overran Gaul in the fifth century,
       did not succeed in changing our language or character. On the
       contrary, the barbarians were civilized by contact with us,
       and adopted our language, instead of imposing theirs upon
       us. In Great Britain, the case was different: the absorption
       was complete: from the fifth to the ninth century, the island
       was perfectly Germanic.

   [4] In our National Schools (_Écoles Communales_), the prizes
       often take the form of sums of money, which are deposited in
       the Savings Bank in the child's name.

   [5] England makes colonies for the exportation of her goods
       and for her surplus population; France makes colonies for
       the wholesale exportation of her officials. In Annam, there
       are 1000 French Colonists, 4500 French soldiers, and 2000
       French officials.

   [6] "La Reforme Intellectuelle et Morale."

   [7] Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of
       heaven.

   [8] Everybody knows that, at Guernsey, Victor Hugo had an Irish
       Catholic cook, and that the illustrious poet abstained from
       meat on Fridays, not to offend his faithful servant.

   [9] Some two hundred years ago, a king was taken to Whitehall
       to be beheaded for wishing to govern without his people; but
       here was a future king who had come there to see the people
       try to overthrow the House of Lords.--_Tempora mutantur._

  [10] The society in question is described in the English
       newspapers of the 19th of December, 1884.

  [11] A member of Mr. Gladstone's Cabinet said to me one day that,
       in England, a statesman of M. Ollivier's ability would be
       sure to return to power.



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