There is a great deal of art-worship in Paris, but it does not seem to really elevate the condition of the people. The pictures and the statues are generally of the most sensuous kind. Do these things improve the morals of a city or nation? If so, why is it that wherever naked pictures and sensual statuary abound, the people are licentious and depraved? In America such things are not tolerated by the mass of the people, and there prevails a higher style of virtue than in any other land. But in France and in Italy, the beauty of the human form upon canvas or in marble, in however offensive a manner, is adored—and in those countries the people have little morality.
The French home is not the home of England or America. The genuine Parisian lives on the street, or in the theater or ball-room. He never lives at home. Hence, the mothers and daughters of England and America are not there to be found. “Comparisons are odious” but I cannot express my meaning so plainly without making them, and I state but the simple truth. Young men and women are not taught to seek their pleasure at the family fireside, but beyond it, and a man marries not to make a home, but to make money or a position in society. Women, too, often marry simply to attain liberty of action.
Another characteristic of the French, and especially of Parisians, is that they educate their sons to no such independence as is everywhere common in America. The young Parisian is dependent upon his father—he cannot support himself; and men of thirty and forty, who are helpless, are to be seen in all classes throughout the great cities of France.
Whether there is just ground for expecting that France will very soon throw off the despotism which now weighs her down, I am incompetent, perhaps, to judge; but I fear not. There is a very noble class of men in Paris—I know this by experience—who hate all despotism and love freedom, but I fear they will for centuries be overcome by ignorance and the love of pleasure, on the part of the people, and knavery and brute force on the part of rulers.
The weather of Paris during the summer months is warm and usually delightful, but in winter it is very cold—much colder than it is in London. But Paris escapes the horrible fogs which envelop London in November and December. The weather, too, though cold, is wholesome and often conducive to health. The two months of fog in London are often termed the suicidal months, because of the number of persons who destroy their own lives in those months. The people of Paris with their mercurial temperaments would never endure it for a long time, at least.