But when the French woman marries, the tables are turned. Then she possesses a freedom such as no American lady, thank heaven, wishes to enjoy. She may have half a dozen open lovers, and society holds its tongue. Her husband probably has as many mistresses. It is not considered improper in Paris either for a husband and father to love his mistress, or a wife and mother to love her acknowledged lover, and that man not her husband. The intrigues which are carried on by married people in Paris, would shock sober people in America, or at least, outside our largest and wickedest cities.
The social state of France is exceedingly bad, and when American religious writers profess to be shocked at the theories of the French Socialists, I am inclined to ask them what they think of the actual condition of the French people. Some of the Socialists have been driven to extremes, because Paris has no conception of the home and the family. The enemies of Socialism in France are, in practice, worse than their enemies in theory. Who is the man now ruling France? Does the world not know him to have long been an open and thoroughly debauched libertine? The same is true of other distinguished friends of “law and order.”
The outward condition of the streets of Paris often deceives the stranger as to the morality of the city. Said one gentleman to me, who had spent several weeks at a fashionable Paris hotel, “Paris is one of the quietest, pleasantest towns in the world, and as for its morals, I can see nothing which justifies its bad reputation abroad.” After a week’s stay in it, such was my own opinion. Things which are tolerated in London and New York streets, are not permitted in the streets of Paris. A street-walker ventured to accost an Englishman in Paris at night, and was taken in charge by the police. But this outward fairness only indicates that in Paris, even the vices are regulated by the state. Bad women cannot make a display and accost men in the street, but they abound, and what is far worse, in all the circles and gradations of society. It is society which is corrupt there. One need but to look at the morals of its great men, to see this at once. What is the moral character of the first men in the empire? Bad, as no Frenchman will deny. Some of the very men who have won in America golden opinions for their noble and eloquent advocacy of liberty, have been in their private lives devoid of all virtue. It only shows the social condition of the country. Some writers deny these allegations against Paris, but no man will who has lived in it, and is honest and candid. Paris abounds with illegitimate children. The statistics tell the story. Ten thousand illegitimate children are born every year in that city! What can be the morality of any town, while such facts exist in reference to its condition?
I hate all cant, but am satisfied that the chief reason why France does not succeed better in her revolutions is, because she lacks the steadiness which a sincere devotion to religion gives to a nation. The country needs less man-worship and more God-worship. It needs less adulation of beautiful women, and more real appreciation of true womanhood.