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Having travelled so far with the author-direction of the mines had perforce to ess of “The Roof of France,” we must carry a revolver constantly; but the minleave her in her solitudes while we pro-ers had methods of expressing their views ceed to the neighboring department of against which such an arm was powerless, the Aveyron. The authors of the volume as, for example, when they dropped a which describe their pleasant home in dynamite cartridge down the chimney of that corner of France are, it appears, the aforeman's house, completely wrecking it. wife of an English engineer connected in the midst of all these troubles our with the mines of Décazeville, and her authors seem to have gone their own quiet brother, who is responsible for most of way, only noticing the pleasanter sides of the contents of the book. We do not un. life, the village fêtes, the religious procesderstand why they omit the article from sions, the weddings, and the dances. After the name of the department they inhabit, a great industrial uprising in England, entitling their book “ Our Home in Avey- and the consequent misery caused by it, ron,” especially as in its second title they a certain amount of emigration follows as correctly call the neighboring department a matter of course; but in France the “the Lot.”. Their own village, St. Mar- peasants love their land, and undergo any tin, is a little cluster of dwellings upon the hardship rather than leave it. In the banks of the Lot, so small that it is not Aveyron there seems to be such an attachmarked in the excellent map of Gascogne ment to the soil that our authors assure and Languedoc which accompanies the us that “the daughters of peasant pro. volume describing those provinces in the prietors prefer to work hard, nay almost to valuable series of the “Guides-Joaone.” starve at home, than to go away to serMaking allowance for certain insular prej- vice.". Before leaving the department we udices, we consider that the writers have should have liked to have described its drawn a truthful and interesting picture capital, Rodez, with its great cathedral, of a rarely visited district of provincial from the summit of whose tower the view France. We wish we could follow them is only bounded by the highest peaks of in the little tours which they made round the mountains of Auvergne, but we must about their secluded home. The climate turn to some general considerations on in the Aveyron all the year round is provincial France. lovely; but in the summer time thunder- “ En France c'est la profession et non storms of tropical violence sweep over la naissance qui met le plus de différence the hills, and during one of these tem- entre les hommes." These words are pests we read how the church bells of taken from the opening chapter of “La Bouillac were set ringing to drive off the France Provinciale," by M. René Millet, storm fiends; St. Martin's rang as loudly, an official of experience, who is now and in the appalling silence between the French minister at the court of Sweden thunder and echoes, the bells of Carnac and Norway, having formerly filled the away among the hills were faintly heard." office of prefect, thus being an example of These summer storms swell the river, the career open to a man who enters the down which pleasant cruises can be made administrative service in France. His through locks of primitive mechanism, book is a valuable contribution to the litbeneath overhanging cliffs, and past vil. erature which describes the life of France lages clinging to the crags, picturesque at away from the capital, and the sentence a distance, but somewhat unclean on close quoted is a key to the understanding of observation, till Cahors, the capital of the some of the paradoxes which strike a Lot, is reached, which_Thomas à Becket stranger who is trying to gain a knowledge governed during the English occupation of the national character of the French. eight centuries ago, and where Gambetta It is a matter of wonder to many who have, commenced his brief career forty-four as outsiders, paid some attention to the years before his premature death. composition of society in France, how it
Décazeville was only six miles from the happens in a country' which displays rehome in the Aveyron, but throughout the markable variety in its physical features, volume we only hear an occasional echo and in its racial peculiarities, that Paris of the great strike, the story of which is should absorb the different elements of graphically and terribly told in Zola's the population which migrates to the capto Germinal." The authors were there ital, and should produce the distinctive during all the disturbances, including the type known as Parisian. The Parisian is murder of one of the Belgian managers, a creature unknown in any other city of and his mutilation at the hands of the any other nation. He loves the continual women. Every one connected with the panorama of the streets; the monuments are his household gods; and, whatever who has made his residence in France, his origin, he experiences when removed aod the travelling Frenchman who has from his beloved boulevards a mal du produced a masterly monograph on the pays, which even is stronger than the provincial life of his native land, are not patriotism of patriotic France. A way. likely to arrive at entirely opposite confaring alien, who passes from province to clusions on a point of this importance, province, bearing the patois of the peas. and in more than one passage Mr. Hamants, and remarking the local architecture erton practically corroborates M. Millet's and the differences of landscape and of view. The author of “ French and Ensky, arrives at the conclusion, if he lives glish” in an interesting description of the not among the people and becomes not Morvan, on the border-land of which, as familiar with their way of thought, that the we have already mentioned, he resides, Breton has nothing in common with the says: Gascon, excepting allegiance to the central government; that the stolid Auvergnat still more striking when we observe the
The variety that exists in great nations is shares none of the sentiments of the expansive Provençal. As a matter of fact, lations which geographically are near neigh
trenchant differences that often divide poputhe farmer of the corn lands of the Beauce,
bors. Now, if you compare the people the great plain which stretches around the of the Morvan with those of the plain of city of Chartres, has more points of sym- Burgundy and the Saône, which is quite near, pathy with the agriculturist of Normandy you find the most striking differences. First ihan has the latter with the working man there is a difference of race and of physical of Rouen. The fisherman of Brest could constitution. Besides this, there is a not make himself understood by the half. great disparity in material civilization. The savage shepherd of the Causses, if, for French are reputed to be a cooking race, but example, they were drafted to the same
the Morvan people scarcely understand cookregiment; and the peasant who speaks Near the Saône the people are a gardening as
ing better than the Scottish Highlanders. the correct French language of the valleys well as a cooking race; the Morvan people of Touraine could comprehend the speech are not gardeners; a rich man may have a of neither of them; but all three bave at garden as a matter of luxury, but the peasants heart a sentiment of love of country and do not cultivate vegetables or fruit-trees. devotion to France, which cannot be un- Lastly in the Morvan there are no fine arts. derstood in the British Isles. Our patri. There may be occasional artistic genius, but otism is of a different type. It has a such gifts find no natural development in supreme belief in the power and desting the other hand, has always been favorable to
the district. The Burgundy wine country, on of that combination of Anglo-Saxon and art of all kinds, and to learning. ArchitecCeltic races which forms our nation and ture, sculpture, painting, and music, have which is making the English tongue the flourished at Dijon in an association, perhaps universal language of the world; but it not altogether accidental, with good cookery, contains only a minute element of love of and the richest of all French vintages. national soil, which is the most remark. able feature of the French people, from Here then we have an example of poputhe Ardennes to the Pyrenees, and from lations born within a comparatively small the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. local radius differing from one another in
Mr. Hamerton, in his admirable chapter important respects, while it would be found entitled “Variety in France ”in French that some of them present considerable and English,” might to a superficial reader resemblance in their way of life to the inseem to controvert the proposition laid habitants of distant districts who pursue down by M. Millet, as, for example, when similar avocations. For instance, the he writes that "it would be difficult to im- dwellers among the vineyards of the Côte agine two modern nations more different d'Or, though they have no points of symfrom each other, both in country and peo- pathy with their wood-cutting neighbors ple, than are Brittany and Provence ... of the Morvan, have in their manners and it is like comparing Wales with Italy, and way of life a certain likeness to the inhab. the Welsh with the Italians.” It should, itants of the wine country of the Gironde. however, be noticed that the author of Zola in the conception of the novel “ Ger“ La France Provinciale” merely says minal," which we have already referred to, that in France greater differences in a exemplifies the truth of this proposition man's characteristics are produced by the perhaps unintentionally. The story, as we gature of his calling than even by the have mentioned, is, with all its exaggera. locality of his birth. Two acute observ. tions, founded on the incidents of the ers, like the accomplished Englishman, miners' strike at Décazeville, but the au.
thor transfers the scene to the coal-fields scorn the civilizing influences of the capnear the Belgian frontier. In outward ital. A stranger, who has the privilege of characteristics there is the most marked being admitted into the intimacy of coun. difference between the expansive Gascon try houses such as these, cannot fail to be of the Aveyron and the sluggish Fleming impressed with the refined simplicity and of the Nord, neither of whom could com- simple ease of French home life. In the prehend the speech of the other, yet the remoter departments of France, where author is able to give a detailed picture of English fashions are not obsequiously the life of the collier of southern France copied, entertaining has happily not yet though transporting him to the remote and become the business which it now is in dissimilar region of Flanders.
our own country, but the admirable comIt is rarely given to an Englishman to fort of a well-ordered French château, the study at close quarters the inner life of excellent cuisine usually found there, and, provincial France. Existence in a luxu- above all, the great charm of manner with rious château, owned by a wealthy Pari- which the warmest welcome is accorded sian hospitable to foreigners, who lives to a guest, give to a stranger a most pleas. on terms of intimacy with ambassadors in ing impression of one of the happiest the capital, and who, in the country, sur- sides of the character of a nation as hosrounds himself with a colony of British pitable as it is highly civilized. grooms to administer his sumptuous sta- Life in the country towos presents conbles, gives no more idea of French life siderable variety, though to the stranger than does the interior of a millionaire's who descends at the Hure, or the Haute mansion on Fifth Avenue, with its costly Mère Dieu, its outward aspect may preimitations of the luxury of London and sent a picture of monotony. The life of of Paris, represent the domestic life of the the place revolves round the prefecture, if bulk of the American nation. A glimpse it be the chef-lieu of a department. There of the real life of the true aristocracy of is rarely found the indescribable air of an France is given to few strangers who are old provincial capital which is met with in not connected with French families by ties certain cities of England or of Holland, of marriage. It must not be supposed Nancy, once the sumptuous seat of gove that the French noble who lives aloof ernment of the duchy of Lorraine, being from the Anglicized forms of gaiety in the conspicuous exception. The reason Paris is always a person of slender re. for this is, that during the Grand Siècle, sources, whose exclusive pride comes the tendency of the noblesse was to repair from his poverty. On the contrary, there to the court; and the magoificent hotels, are rich agriculturists of unimpeachable which are still to be seen on the left bank lineage, whose châteaux have descended of the Seine, are a legacy to Paris of the from father to son in direct succession for desertion of the country by the great procenturies, having escaped the storm of the prietors in the generations preceding the Revolution, who lead an existence which, Revolution. There is, however, a provinaccording to British ideas of the life of a cial aristocracy which inhabits the country country gentleman, is not far removed towns, and which follows a much more froin that of the peasant. Around such a exclusive régime than do Parisians of the dwelling are to be seen po stretches of highest rank. It is indeed much more English greensward ; the stables, which easy for the daughters of the rich bourat certain luxurious establishments are geoisie, and even of foreigners, to assume fitted with appointments which would the tone of what is called the best society seem more appropriate to a boudoir, are in the capital, than for young girls of the here not to be distinguished from the provincial aristocracy. The reason for cattle-sheds. The entrance hall is gaunt this is, that in the first place the people of and cold; and not less chilling are the vast each provincial centre have their own disapartments which surround it. No carpet tinguishing characteristics and prejudices. covers the floor, and the easily cleaned Society in Poitiers or Nantes does not stone pavement is preferred to the polished hold the views which are entertained in parquet which glistens in most French Lille or in Montpellier. In the second homes.
place, in most provincial cities everybody The most favorable examples of French stands upon his dignity, declining all asso homes are perhaps the châteaux of that ciation with his neighbor of not precisely numerous section of the noblesse which his social standing or not exhibiting an declines to enter into competition with equal number of quarterings. The consethe ostentatious luxury of the Parisian quence is that provincials of good family plutocracy, but at the same time does not I never lay aside their self-consciousness,
and are never able to associate at ease personal interest, for example for the opwith any other section of society beyond portunities afforded them of developing the narrow circle in which they have been their business relations; these are all brought up:
wholesale merchants or farmers on a The prefect frequently is installed in large scale. Nine of them, who are gen. the old palace of the intendants under the tlemen and landed proprietors, have be. ancient régime; but the spacious edifice come mayors according to family tradition. has rarely an air of real comfort. The Fifteen have sought office because of round of promotion in the administrative their love of power and desire to have a career is constantly progressing, and the voice in directing public affairs; eleven occupant of the post is like a solitary of these are hotel-keepers or farmers, and guest in a vast hostelry, who is only wait- four of them gentlemen. Seven have ing for a summons to pack his chattels sought office for political purposes, of and be gone. The hôtel-de-ville, which is whom three are doctors, two great landed sometimes lodged in a deserted monastery, proprietors, and two lawyers; and only has more intimate relation with the life of two can be discovered who bave unwill. the town, and consequently has a less ingly taken the post from a sense of public dreary air, but there is often attached to duty, both of whom belong to the upper the municipal buildings an annexe of in class. All of these, forty-three in number, describable gloom. This is the museum, he sets down as intelligent, capable and with its vestibule adorned with moulder. active officials. Twenty-three he classes ing casts of examples of statuary in the as mediocrities. Eight of these bave Louvre, its galleries hung with indifferent sought election simply out of vanity, while copies of masterpieces and with local por- fourteen, who are nearly all farmers, are traits of forgotten local celebrities. The colorless individuals, who have accidenmayor of the capital of a department has tally drifted into office, and nine only he one drawback to the perfect enjoyment of sets down as bad mayors, who are for the his exalted position. He is not the first most part educated men, doctors of no citizen of his own kingdom. He has on reputation, schoolmasters who have been every official occasion to give way to the dismissed, and so on. In the volume we itinerant functionary for the moment in- have reviewed describing the Aveyron, habiting the prefecture, who is here to-day there is an entertaining account of a din. and gone to-morrow, when he will be suc- ner given in honor of English guests by a ceeded by another stranger, who will have rich peasant, at which the mayors of the right to the same arrogance of place. Bouillac and of Cuzac assisted, neither of Nothing so pathetic is ever recorded in whom could speak a word of French, the the annals of an English shire of the rare dialect of Languedoc being their only encounters between the high-sheriff and language. the lord-lieutenant.
We have already referred to the admi. To examine the life of provincial rable work entitled “ French and EnFrance, it is necessary to explore the glish,” which Mr. Hamerton has recently smaller centres of population, where the added to his previous studies of life in the communal system is the centre of public country of his adoption. To say that the existence. The mayor of the commune is author knows provincial France better frequently a type worthy of study. He is than any living English writer, would not often pompous and full of the dignity of be a high testimony to his power of obserhis office, unwilling to yield to the curé in vation, which he has cultivated during matters of precedence, with a weakness many years of residence in the country; for ceremonial, when he can march at the but in the opinion of competent French head of a procession girt with his tri-col. authorities he has a more thorough acored scarf; but for all his little vanity he quaintance with the land than the great is frequently a good, simple creature, who majority of its natives. His book affords in the narrow horizon of the commune such pleasantly easy reading that it might acts the part of arbiter in local discussions give the impression that it is a slight and conciliator in domestic broils. The work, constructed with trifling facility; mayors are drawn from all classes of the but those who rise from its perusal with people. M. Millet gives an interesting this impression we would recommend to analysis of the origin and characteristics, examine carefully the portions of the of the seventy-five mayors of an arron. chapters which refer to English institudissement in a department with which he tions. The work appeared originally in is well acquainted. Ten of them have an American periodical, and it contains, accepted office, he says, for motives of therefore, descriptions of English life and
customs in greater detail than would be voyage down the rapids of the Tarn- at pecessary if it had been
prepared solely one stage a miller and municipal councillor for his countrymen.
This fulness of with the manners of a man of the world, description, however, furnishes greater and at another stage a couple of young opportunity for error; but it will, we countrymen, whose frank dignity and inthink, be found that his review of the telligence were equally striking. In corleading features of life in England are ners of the provinces of France, isolated singularly free from misapprehension; from great social centres and influences and, for the benefit of those who have no of the outer world, the grand but simple acquaintance with France, we can vouch manners of past generations are likelier to that, within the limits of our French expe- survive ; but there is no similar survival rience, his analysis of the customs, na in provincial England; and, whether in a tional qualities, and way of life in France remote Dorsetshire village, or in a Lancais as accurate as his observations on the shire factory town, there is no trace to be corresponding English characteristics. found of an ancient civilization. Of course
The pleasantness of life in France, and there is another side to the picture. Zola's the low depth to which a high civilization dark sketches of peasant life in La Terre has permeated in French society, is well are, doubtless, portraits, but portraits set forth in these pages. The greater drawn by a hand which had decided on expansion of comfort among all classes is the unequal proportions of light and shade a feature which strikes an Englishman in his picture before it commenced to exwho mingles at all with the people of ecute the work. Our impression is that France. As Mr. Hamerton happily puts the average French peasant is a much it, “the Frenchman's object is to make higher type of the human animal than the life a succession of little pleasures.” Our English laborer; on the one hand, in own impression is, that in the highest, or France we meet with actual savage vari. at all events in the wealthiest ranks of eties in some of the provinces, as, for French society, civilization is at a lower example, the wild shepherds clad in level than in England. France no longer sheepskips, whom we noticed among the sets the fashion to the rest of the world. Causses, or the half. Iberian mountaineers On the contrary, the richer classes – “le of the Pyrenees, which have no countermonde où l'on s'amuse" - looks to En- part in England; but, on the other hand, gland to set them the mode in everything there is rarely seen in France the sodden, pertaining to their daily life. All forms unintelligent examples of humanity which of English sport are practised in France are sometimes found in our agricultural with more or less success, and English villages. sporting terminology has become a rec- The vigor of the peasant class is making ognized portion of the French language. itself felt in the national life of France, The costumes of men, not only of the and is already beginning to push aside the fashionable type, but of members of the less aggressive bourgeois in careers which professions and of the bourgeoisie, are the middle class has considered its own copied from England; and these are not since the period when the aristocracy and the only instances of the imitative stage its wealthy imitators committed the folly into which the upper ranks of French so- of withdrawing from all the professions ciety have fallen. A society, which imi- except that of the army: A young farm tates cannot be considered as being at the laborer, for example, makes his mark at a loftiest level of civilization. Now, when primary school. He obtains a bourse at we turn to the humbler walks of life, we a lycée where his assiduity and lack of find in the lower middle class, and among urban veneer excite the scorn of his bourthe peasantry, a much higher civilization geois classmates. To this he is indifferexisting than in the corresponding ranks ent; his want of knowledge of the joys of in England. The authors of “Our Home towas gives him more uninterrupted time in Aveyron observe with amazement, for application to his studies. He loses not unaccompanied by admiration, that not a moment, and passes from the lycée a collier dines in the evening after his into a government school, whence he day's work as if he were a banker or pro comes forth invested with a sword or a fessional man, and concludes his meal diploma. Here, with his career with a cup of coffee and a cigarette as if menced, he is a formidable competitor for he were an epicure dining at his club. his colleagues of more favored birth. He The authoress of “The Roof of France,” applies to his labors, for which he has an gives an excellent description of the insatiable appetite, all the vigorous freshpeasants who accompanied her on her ness of a temperament untouched by the