Seventeen Years in Paris: A Chaplain's Story by Noyes, H. E. (Henry Edward)
Team at http://www.pgdp.net (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive)
Transcriber’s Note: During his time in Paris, the author didn’t achieve a perfect command of the French language; many French words and place names are incorrectly spelt and/or accented. These errors have been preserved.
[Illustration: H. E. Noyes, D.D.]
SEVENTEEN YEARS IN PARIS:
A CHAPLAIN’S STORY.
BY H. E. NOYES, D.D.
_(Late Hon. Chaplain to His Majesty’s Embassy, and Incumbent of the Embassy Church, Rue d’Aguesseau, Paris)._
BAINES AND SCARSBROOK, PRINTERS AND PUBLISHERS, 75 FAIRFAX ROAD, SWISS COTTAGE, LONDON, N.W. 1910.
DEDICATED TO THE BRITISH AND AMERICAN COLONIES IN PARIS, WITH WHOM I SPENT THESE HAPPY YEARS, 1891-1907.
In sending forth this brief account of my long chaplaincy in Paris, I desire to say that I do so at the request of many friends, who were kind enough to express their interest. It is not intended to be an account of life generally in Paris, or a description of the beauties and treasures of the City. There are many books which do this better than I could hope to do, for the life of a chaplain in Paris is a very strenuous one—every day bringing its work, and often much unexpected work, that it was difficult to give much time to sight-seeing. My predecessor, Rev. T. Howard Gill, said to me when I accepted the position, “Do not stay more than seven years—it is enough for any man.” I stayed nearly seventeen. I have not attempted either to give any full account here of the spiritual side of my work—I would only say that I have every reason to thank God that I went, both for the work He enabled me to do and the experience that I have gained. There is an erroneous impression in some minds about Continental work, viz., that it unfits a man for Parochial work at home. I heard this expressed upon my appointment to my present sphere. The fact, however, is very different. The work is so varied, so constant, and often so unexpected, that one gains as much experience in six months in a city like Paris as British Chaplain as one would gain in a much longer time at home.
It may be true that in small chaplaincies in lonely places, with but few English people in residence, men get out of touch with Church life and work in England, but it is not the same in the permanent chaplaincies in thickly populated places.
In Paris we had our organisations much as at home. Daily Services, Sunday Schools, Mothers’ Meetings, Visitors, etc., and although the numbers attending (owing to distance) were not so great as at home, the work was much the same.
I have given several hints which I trust may be useful to parents intending to send their children abroad for education, and also to those who may be purposing to reside in Paris.
As we are going to press the notice appears in the papers of the death of Sir Edmund Monson, formerly Ambassador in Paris. The country loses in him a distinguished and faithful servant, and all who knew him will regret a kind and generous friend.
H. E. NOYES, D.D.
St. Mary’s Vicarage, Kilburn, N.W.
ROYAL AND OTHER VISITS 1
THE BRITISH EMBASSY 25
MEMORABLE SERVICES 48
THE ENGLISHMAN ABROAD 66
EDUCATION IN FRANCE 74
DIFFICULTIES OF ENGLISH PEOPLE ABROAD 79
BRITISH CHARITIES IN PARIS 94
BRITISH JOURNALISTS IN PARIS 105
PRESENT CONDITIONS OF RELIGIOUS LIFE ON THE CONTINENT 122
THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND ON THE CONTINENT 135
AMERICANS IN PARIS 139
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
REV. H. E. NOYES, D.D. _Frontispiece_
RUE DE RIVOLI _To face page_ 2
HIS MAJESTY ENTERING THE CHURCH, FOLLOWED BY SIR E. MONSON ” 6
HIS MAJESTY LEAVING THE EMBASSY CHURCH ” 14
SIR WALTER VAUGHAN-MORGAN, LORD MAYOR OF LONDON, 1905-1906 ” 22
MR. WRIGHT ” 23
ENTRANCE TO BRITISH EMBASSY ” 24
THE EARL OF LYTTON ” 26
THE COUNTESS OF LYTTON ” 28
THE MARQUIS OF DUFFERIN AND AVA ” 30
THE MARCHIONESS OF DUFFERIN AND AVA ” 32
TRAINBEARERS AT THE LADY PLUNKET’S WEDDING ” 34
COURT YARD, BRITISH EMBASSY ” 42
SIR HENRY AUSTIN LEE ” 46
BRITISH EMBASSY CHURCH, FROM THE RUE D’AGUESSEAU ” 48
BRITISH EMBASSY CHURCH (INTERIOR) ” 54
PLACE DE LA CONCORDE ” 66
A. PERCY INGLIS (BRITISH CONSUL-GENERAL) ” 84
SIR JOHN PILTER ” 94
HERTFORD BRITISH HOSPITAL ” 98
THE ELYSÉE, FROM THE FAUBOURG ST. HONORÉ ” 112
PLACE DE LA CONCORDE ” 118
THE HISTORIC FOUNTAIN, PLACE DE LA CONCORDE ” 118
_Photos of City by Leblanc, Paris._
SEVENTEEN YEARS IN PARIS.
BY H. E. NOYES, D.D.
_Late Honorary Chaplain to His Majesty’s Embassy._
ROYAL AND OTHER VISITS.
The Daily Press has naturally recorded the visits of Royalty, Members of Parliament, the Lord Mayor of London, etc., to Paris during the period of which I write, but as in each case there were services in the Embassy Church, there are certain facts from the chaplain’s point of view which will, I hope, be of interest to my readers. A clerical friend once said to me, “Everybody who is anybody has been to your Church in Paris.” It certainly was a fact that during my chaplaincy many distinguished people attended the ordinary Divine Service besides the crowds at special times when Royalty was present. I may mention the late Duke of Devonshire, the Right Hon. W. E. and Mrs. Gladstone—who often came twice on the Sunday when visiting Paris—H.R.H. the late Duke of Cambridge, who was many times present. On one occasion the Duke arrived in Paris from a long journey early on Sunday morning, but he was in the Embassy gallery at the 11 o’clock service. Upon his late visits—and he was in Paris not long before the end—he was unable to face the stairs to the gallery, and sat below with the congregation. In the early days of my chaplaincy, the late Sir Condie Stephen was an attaché at the Embassy, and a most regular attendant at both morning and evening services. The late Archbishop of Canterbury was once at service in my time, and sent me a most kind message. Bishops, Home, Colonial, and American, were occasionally seen, and many clergy. I noticed on two or three occasions Mr. Pierpoint Morgan among the worshippers. On one occasion four English dukes were present at morning service. The late Sir G. Stokes, Sir W. Freemantle, Lord Rathmore, and the other members of the Suez Canal Board were regular in attendance month by month, the former a devout worshipper and a kind, genial friend.
Great interest was naturally excited in the English Colony when we had Royal visitors. Her late Majesty was not in Paris during my Chaplaincy, although she was several times in the South of France, being usually met at some convenient station by the President of the French Republic. Whatever may have been the feeling of the French people towards the English before the “Entente Cordiale,” they always had the highest respect and admiration for our beloved Queen, and I never heard that she met with the least annoyance from “the most polite nation in the world.”
[Illustration: RUE DE RIVOLI.]
Before coming to the special subject of this chapter, I should like to say a few words about the English Church in the Rue d’Aguesseau, which has always been known as, and is “ipso facto,” the Embassy Church. In former days the English services were held in the ballroom at the Embassy itself, and there was a resident chaplain. I have heard that there was sometimes rather a “rush” after a Saturday night’s ball to get the room ready for divine service on Sunday. This “Chapel” was also at that time somewhat of a Gretna Green, where at twenty-four hours’ notice young couples who had difficulties at home could be united according to English law by a resident chaplain. My friend, Dr. Morgan, of the American Church, kindly sent me a volume of sermons he had picked up on a bookstall, bearing the title “Sermons preached at the Chapel of the British Embassy, and at the Protestant Church of the Oratoire in Paris, by the late Rev. E. Forster, M.A., Chaplain to the British Embassy.” This was in the days when Lord Stuart de Rothesay was Ambassador to the court of France, and the volume bears the date 1828. I believe Lord Stuart de Rothesay was twice Ambassador in Paris—an unusual circumstance. Services are no longer held in the Embassy. The English Colony in Paris having largely increased, it became necessary to provide a suitable building as a church, and at the period when the late Lord Cowley was Ambassador, and largely through his instrumentality, the present Church was purchased, and has from that time to the present been the Embassy Church, where all services of a public and diplomatic character have since been held. Here is a French description of the building, which, while not exactly ecclesiastical, is yet loved and valued by the English Colony.
“L’Èglise Anglicane est située à moins de 100 mètres de la porte de l’Ambassade. C’est un petit monument de style Gothique, aux fenètres ogivales, aux frùes colonnes fleuronnées. A l’intérieur, la chapelle est meublée de deux rangées de bancs, placées face à l’autel. Devant celui-ci se trouve l’aigle de bois doré dont les ailes éployées portent les Livres Saints; à gauche les orgues: à droite, la chaire: une simple tribune de pierre, de forme hexagonale légèrement surélevée. Un balcon court sur les deux côtes de la chapelle, dont le fond est occupé par une tribune.”
The church is in a much better condition than formerly. The congregation during my chaplaincy put a new roof upon it, and decorated it throughout, and constructed a handsome Mortuary Chapel underneath—a sad necessity for the English and American colonies in Paris. I conducted some remarkable services during my time in Paris, which I describe in another chapter—scenes which will not soon be forgotten by those who witnessed them. I was glad to leave behind some £7,000 which had been subscribed towards a Church House, a much-needed establishment, as there is no room for Church purposes or residence for the chaplain. My successor, the Right Rev. Bishop Ormsby, will, I hope, reap the benefit of this effort.
His Gracious Majesty King Edward VII. was several times in Paris during the earlier years of my chaplaincy, as Prince of Wales, but his first visit to the French Republic as King and Emperor was in May, 1903. The visit was official and unique. Those of us who had lived in Paris during the Boer war—when, to say the least, the English were not popular, and had so frequently heard “Vivent les Boers” as we passed along the streets, and even had newspapers flaunted before us which recorded reverses to our arms—were very anxious that the visit should pass off quietly. The English colony was much concerned, and so were the French police. I was advised by the latter to admit to the Church only by ticket, and to take the names and addresses of each applicant for them who might be unknown to me. The following was the text of the ticket I issued: “English Church, Rue d’Aguesseau. Divine Service 11 a.m. It is requested that all seat-holders will be in their places at 10 o’clock. After 10.30 all unoccupied seats will be filled.” The tickets were all numbered and signed with a special stamp marked “Basileus.” The issuing of these tickets gave us considerable work, as we only had 1,000, and some 1,500 to 2,000 people applied for them—many by letter. Nearly the whole of two days was occupied in the distribution.
The “Entente Cordiale” is now happily a “fait accompli”; but at the time of His Majesty’s first official visit there was no thought of it in the public mind, though we know now it was the gracious intention of our peace-loving King that it should come about. I give an excerpt from the “Patrie,” signed by M. L. Millevoye, which at this time gave us some concern, for the “Patrie,” while not a high-class paper, is one that is largely read by the man in the street:
“Parisiens! Le Roi des Anglais n’est pas votre hôte: ce n’est pas vous qui l’avez invité. Cet étranger, cet ennemi vous impose sa visite.… Parisiens, ce roi vous saluera, vous ne le saluerez pas.
“Mais des cris bien français, esclusivement français, peuvent sortir, sans provocations, de vos poitrines. Crier ‘Vive Marchand!’ c’est condamner Fachoda, c’est marquer la flètrissure d’une des plus hyprocrites d’une des plus odieuses brutalités diplomatiques que la France aie subies, Crier Vivent les Boers.… Crier Vive la Russie.… Votre silence même, s’il est général, absolu, aura sa grandeur. Devant vos fronts couverts, devant vos regards implacables, ce roi comprendra qu’on l’atrompé en lui parlant de votre soumission, &c., &c., &c.”
It seemed, however, as if the very presence of His Majesty in Paris at once dissipated any cloud that might have appeared in the sky. The French are remarkable for their readiness to swing round to an opposite opinion when they find reason for so doing. This was very striking in the Dreyfus affair, and, more recently, in the case of M. E. Zola, who, after having been condemned to imprisonment and a heavy fine for his defence of Dreyfus, received the “post mortem” honour of being removed from the cemetery of Montmatre to the Panthéon, that resting place of the illustrious French dead.
[Illustration: HIS MAJESTY ENTERING THE CHURCH, FOLLOWED BY SIR E. MONSON.]
The visit of His Majesty to Paris extended from May 1st to 4th, and almost every hour was occupied with the usual official visits, lunches, dinners, and receptions. The English colony looked forward especially to the Sunday when they expected to see and worship with the King in their own Church. There was some anxiety as to whether His Majesty would sit in the Embassy gallery, or in the body of the Church, as in the former case he would hardly be seen by the congregation. I reported to our Ambassador, Sir E. Monson, the great desire that the King would sit with the congregation, and late on Saturday evening I received a message that he had kindly consented to do so. This gracious act gave much pleasure to the colony. There were many young people who had never seen their King before, and I fear his presence was rather distracting to their worship on this occasion.
The police were considerably scared when it was announced that His Majesty would not drive to the Church, but intended to walk. Although only a few yards it was felt to be more or less a danger; but every precaution being taken, all passed off safely. As the congregation was assembling, I was sent for to the door to interview a distinguished-looking man who desired to enter the Church, but had no ticket. I found, however, upon careful enquiry, that he was a detective from Scotland Yard, and required to examine the place where the King was to sit.
This quiet Sunday service, with the King-Emperor attending as an ordinary worshipper, very much impressed the French people. I will quote what was said by the “Figaro” and the “Daily Telegraph” at the time; the former giving the general French feeling much more accurately than the “Patrie,” although even the latter paper soon changed its tone.
The “Figaro” thus describes the service:—
“Les Parisiens sceptiques et volontiers gouailleurs, ont été fortement impressionnés par la très simple cérémonie d’hier matin, la plus grande peut-être de ces trois jours de fête. De la rue Royale à l’avenue de Marigny dix mille curieux descendent tout endimanchés des faubourgs, se massent aux abords de l’Ambassade d’Angleterre, pour voir comment le roi de la Grande-Bretagne et d’Irlande et des possessions britanniques d’outre-mer, défenseur de la foi, empereur des Indes va faire-visite à Dieu. C’est à pied que S. M. Edouard VII., en tenue de ville, se rend à l’Eglise. Et quand il le voit passer ainsi, tout ce peuple saisi d’émotion, chapeau bas, s’incline, dans un silence solennel. La petite Eglise gothique de la rue d’Aguesseau regorge de monde. On a lancé neuf cent trente invitations. La nef, les galeries, les bas-cotés, les tribunes, tout est bondé.
“Les deux premières travées de banquettes sont réservées; et devant elles, à gauche du chœur un fauteuil recouvert de velours rouge, avec un prie-dieu sans appui, et un pupitre sur lequel sont deposés une Bible, et un livre de psaumes, marque la place du Roi.… Le Pasteur et ses assistants ont la soutane et le surplis garni de bandes de satin noir et rouge. Les enfants de chœur assis près de la chaire, ont seulement la soutane noir et le surplis. Sur un signe du secrétaire qui guettait à la porte l’arrivée du Roi, tout le clergé, le Rev. Dr. Noyes en tête, se porte au-devant de sa Majesté et l’attend sur le seuil. Edouard VII. et le Pasteur se saluent en même temps. Le Clergé remonte vers le chœur, précédent le Souverain, que suivent les membres de l’Ambassade d’Angleterre et tous les attachés militaires. Et des que S. M. Edouard VII. a pris place devant son fauteuil—et ouvert son livre de psaumes, l’office divin commence. Les fidéles, dont un instant très court de curiosité n’a pu troubler le recueillement, entument en anglais le Te Deum. Puis les hymnes, les versets de la Bible, les psaumes se succèdent chantés par toute l’assistance. Les fidèles s’agenouillent, et le Roi s’agenouille comme eux; et sa voix se mêle avec leurs voix. Il n’y a plus un souverain et des sujets, ‘Il n’y a qu’une famille dont tous les membres s’addressent, ensemble au Père, ‘Notre Père qui êtes aux cieux.’ C’est la prière que nous ne savons plus. Enfin les chants ayant cessé le Rev. Dr. Noyes se lêve et prononce le sermon dominical. Pendant un quart d’heure environ, il développe la thèse de la Divinite du Christ, et l’office termine, selon l’usage, par un dernier cantique, sans qu’aucune allusion, ainsi qu’il en avait exprimé lùi-même le désir, aie été faite à la presence du Roi.”
I have given the above in full as it is an interesting French view of an English church service.
“The Daily Telegraph” recorded this event of the day as follows:
“At the morning service in the English Church, Rue d’Aguesseau, the King was attended by his suite, and accompanied by Sir E. Monson and the staff of the Embassy. This sacred edifice is a building of great interest to English residents in Paris. The Rev. H. E. Noyes, D.D., has been Chaplain to the Embassy since 1891, and during that incumbency has known three eminent representatives of the Empire, Lord Lytton, the Marquis of Dufferin, and Sir Edmund Monson. Our compatriots in the French capital do not forget their Church. It is surely a matter of pleasure to know that at the last Easter celebrations there were no fewer than 930 communicants. To-day the Church was all too small. Though admission was necessarily by ticket, a crowd besieged the doors more than an hour before the beginning of the service. Notre Dame or the Madeleine would have been insufficient for the congregation anxious to be present. Indeed, one feels regret for the hundreds who failed to obtain a coveted ticket of admission. Practically small room was left after seats had been found for the regular congregation, among whom I was pleased to note a large number of English young ladies attending Parisian schools. Many a year hence it will be a pleasant memory for those young persons who participated in this historic service. ‘What a noble national possession is England’s “sublime liturgy,”’ to quote George Borrow’s description of it.
“Who has not felt its impress in a foreign land? I have heard it west of the Rocky Mountains, under the Stars and Stripes, beneath the Southern Cross, in the capital of China, on the Indian, the Atlantic, and the Pacific Oceans, and in war time in South Africa, and the effect is everywhere the same—a finer patriotic glow than almost anything else can call up. It appeals to one as part of the heritage of the English people, like their old Parish Church, or their very language itself. In the Rue d’Aguesseau the prayers for the King and the Royal Family of Great Britain were followed, as they always are here, by petitions for the Presidents of the United States and of the French Republic. The ‘Te Deum’ was finely rendered, as were the hymns ‘Children of the Heavenly King’ and ‘The King of Love my shepherd is.’ Dr. Noyes founded a short, eloquent discourse upon Matthew xiii. 54, 55.”
As the King left the Church the congregation sang the National Anthem with a fervour and emotion, which was natural upon such an occasion.
After lunching at the Foreign Office with that eminent statesman, M. Delcasse, His Majesty returned to the Embassy. Here a most interesting ceremony was held. The King had promised to plant a red chestnut tree in the Embassy garden, and the children of the British schools, to the number of fifty, and the inmates of the Victoria Home (an institution for aged British women who have lived in France for thirty years) were invited to be present. It was a memorable occasion. The King handled the spade as one accustomed to it, and the tree thus planted has flourished remarkably well ever since. It bears a plate stating the date, etc., and will, no doubt, be an object of interest in the beautiful garden of the Embassy for many years to come. The King has a wonderful memory for old friends. I heard him on this occasion asking kindly after the Hon. Alan Herbert, M.D., whom he had known in Paris many years ago. Another interesting incident took place on this afternoon. Among those invited to the Embassy garden was an old soldier, George Colman, nearly ninety years of age, who had been dispatch writer to Lord Raglan in the Crimean War. He was presented to the King, who had a long chat with him, and asked him “Where are your medals?” Colman replied, “Your Majesty, they were stolen from me at the time of the Paris Commune.” “Well,” said the King, “we must see to that.” Colman was not forgotten, and not long after the medals were received at the Embassy. He brought them to shew to me in great delight.
In the evening a large official dinner was given at the British Embassy, which was attended by the President and Madame Loubet, members of the French Government, and many other distinguished guests. Three French artists had the honour of being invited, MM. Carolus-Duran, Detaille, and Bonnat. The City was brilliantly illuminated, and presented all the characteristics of a National fête.
His Majesty left Paris for Cherbourg the next morning, President Loubet accompanying him to the Gare des Invalids. There was a thankful sigh of relief from the many loyal hearts in Paris that all had passed off so well, and that our beloved Monarch was safe. It had been an anxious time, for the happy change to more friendly relations between the two countries had then only just commenced.
The next visit of His Majesty was in May, 1905, just two years after his first official visit. There had been a change at the Embassy. Much to the regret of all who knew him, Sir Edmund Monson had retired, having reached the age limit, and had been succeeded by Sir Francis Bertie, the present Ambassador. There was, moreover, a great change in the attitude of the people, and the “Entente Cordiale” was on the lips of all. The King’s previous visit, and the return visit of M. Loubet to London, resulted in the settling of several outstanding disputes which had long been an anxiety to diplomatists. There was much less ceremonial upon this visit, and the King, instead of going to the Embassy, took his old suite of rooms at the Hotel Bristol in the Place Vendome, where he had often stayed as Prince of Wales. His Majesty came to Paris via Marseilles, where he had a very hearty reception, and arriving at the Gare de Lyon was met by Sir Francis Bertie and the staff of the Embassy, and that all-important functionary, the Prefect of the Police. A good number of people gathered in the Place Vendome in the hope of seeing the King, but the weather was showery, and he drove in a closed carriage, and they were disappointed. The Hotel Bristol in the Place Vendome—formerly a monastery—is managed by an Englishman, Mr. Morlock, who is well known to many crowned heads. The Tsar of Russia stayed there before his accession to the throne; the late King and Queen of Portugal, and many others. Mr. Morlock is a most genial host, and although he has been so long in France is proud of his nationality, and always ready to join in any movement for the good of the British colony. I had been informed that His Majesty would attend Divine Service on the Sunday morning, and took the precaution to admit only by ticket, to prevent over-crowding. It was well I did so, for a great crowd assembled outside the Church, and would have prevented the regular worshippers from entering. Owing to this arrangement the Church was filled before the hour of service, and there was no confusion. It was Eastertide, and the hymns “Jesus lives! no longer now—Can thy terrors, death, appal us” and “Hosanna to the living Lord” were sung with great fervour. I had requested the congregation to remain in their seats during the singing of the National Anthem at the close of the service—the intention being that His Majesty and the staff of the Embassy would then leave and thus prevent crowding at the door. However, the King stayed until the end, and, I was told, joined heartily in the anthem. We always omitted the second verse having the words “Confound their politics,” as being guests in a foreign land.
Upon this occasion His Majesty sat in the Embassy gallery with Sir Francis Bertie and the staff. An amusing incident happened as the King left the Church. A loud crash was heard and caused some excitement. It came from a photographer who had perched himself upon a high ladder with a large camera, hoping for a snapshot. He fell owing to the breaking of the ladder just as the King came out of the porch. He was very disappointed at losing the photograph.
Upon the return to the hotel the King received Admiral Fournier, who had presided over the enquiry relating to the North Sea firing incident, and conferred upon him the insignia of a Knight Grand Cross of the Victorian Order.
The reception of His Majesty on the part of the people was in marked contrast to that of his former visit. There were very few cries in the streets on that occasion, but now one often heard “Vive le Roi” and “Vive l’Angleterre” shouted with a hearty good will. The “Entente Cordiale” was an established fact.
[Illustration: HIS MAJESTY LEAVING THE EMBASSY CHURCH.]
The third visit of the King during my chaplaincy took place in March, 1906, when he travelled as the Duke of Lancaster, arriving in Paris from Cherbourg on the Saturday evening. The Royal train was brought round to the Gare des Invalides, where the King was met by Sir Francis Bertie and the staff of the Embassy, M. Mollard representing the President of the Republic, and M. Lepine, Prefect of Police. As His Majesty ascended the stairs a flashlight photograph of the scene was taken by an unauthorised person—much to the annoyance of all present, as the explosion caused a temporary alarm. Next morning the King attended the Embassy Church, and sat in the Royal gallery with Sir Francis and Lady Feodorowna Bertie. Little change was made in the service, except that I preached a short sermon in order to keep within the limited time. My text was “But the Word of God is not bound,” and the collection was for the British and Foreign Bible Society. H.R.H. Princess Henry of Battenberg and the Princess Ena (now Queen of Spain) joined the King at the Embassy for lunch. His Majesty drove to and from the church in a closed carriage, and although there was a great crowd, his desire to be “incognito” was respected. It was upon this occasion that His Majesty handed to M. Fallières the missing leaves from the second volume of “The History of the antiquities of the Jews” for the Bibliothéque Nationale. M. Loubet, former President of the Republic, was one of the many who called upon the King, and it was characteristic of the kind feeling of His Majesty that he returned the call at the private apartment of M. Loubet—an act that was much appreciated by the people generally. I often heard French people speak of it. Upon this visit the Embassy in the Faubourg St. Honore was turned into a Royal Palace, the King and his suite staying there. I was told of the following incident which indicates the change of feeling on the part of the French. After dinner at a fashionable restaurant (while the King was in Paris) the band was called upon to play the English National Anthem by a party of Frenchmen. Then some Englishmen present called for the Marseillaise, which was received with the same honours and enthusiasm.
By a curious chance there was a party of Germans present, and these stood up and uncovered while both the National Anthems were being played. Beyond the various social functions there was no other special incident, and the short visit passed off very satisfactorily in every way.
I have told of the enthusiasm evoked by the first official visit of His Majesty to Paris, and the two subsequent visits, but when it was reported early in 1907 that the King was coming, accompanied by the Queen, enthusiasm knew little bounds. Many of the English Colony had never seen the Queen, and were on tiptoe of expectation. Their Majesties arrived in Paris from London on Saturday evening, February 2nd, at the Gare du Nord, where they received an enthusiastic—though non-official—welcome, for they were travelling as the Duke and Duchess of Lancaster. The photographic fiend was again in evidence, and Her Majesty gave a perceptible start as the magnesium light flashed, although she must be accustomed to this annoyance. I was told that the crowd outside the station was enormous, and the cries “Vive le Roi—Vive la Reine” were very hearty, both there and along the route to the British Embassy, which was to be the temporary home of their Majesties. Notwithstanding the fatigues of the journey the King and Queen paid a visit to the Nouveau Cirque in the evening, much to the delight of those present.
It appeared to me that the Parisians were the more pleased at the “incognito,” as it was as if their Majesties came as friends, and not merely as Royal visitors. The visit was thus less formal yet more cordial; everyone felt that it was not political, but just friendly, and Paris was delighted. The British sovereigns were going to spend a week of pleasure, visiting and entertaining their friends, shopping and motoring. The Rue de la Paix is always attractive, but it seemed to surpass itself on this occasion.
I was naturally very busy preparing for the Sunday service. Tickets were quite necessary, and the demand for them very great. We issued 1,000—our utmost limit—and then came the pain of refusing the hundreds who also desired to attend. I crave pardon for giving the report of the service, written by my friend Mr. Ozane, the well-known and valued correspondent of the “Daily Telegraph.”
He wrote: “I have never seen a larger crowd in and near the church in the Rue d’Aguesseau than that which assembled there this morning. Admission to the sacred edifice was by cards, of which a liberal distribution was made, but any number of persons who must have known that the chance of finding a place was hopeless, had put in an appearance nevertheless. The English colony had mustered in full force, and there was a big gathering of French friends as well. The footpaths close to the Embassy and along the street leading to the Church were crammed with well-dressed people—the fair sex being strongly represented; and there they stood in the brilliant sunshine, but bitterly cold wind, waiting for their Majesties to pass. The King and Queen drove to and from the Church in one of the Ambassador’s carriages, and with Sir Francis Bertie and members of their suite were conducted to the Embassy Gallery. By the time they entered the Church was thronged to repletion, all the arrangements made for the accommodation of the congregation being, however, excellent. The prayers were read by the curate, Rev. W. Harrison, the lessons being read and the sermon preached by the Rev. H. E. Noyes, D.D., who is chaplain to the Embassy. Doctor Noyes is well known as a very eloquent preacher, and taking for his text the 14th verse of the 8th chapter of St. Luke, part of the Gospel for the day, delivered an excellent discourse on the parable of the sower. The choir, under the direction of Mr. Percy Vincent, did itself full justice, and the congregation joined heartily in the service, as it invariably does at this Church, which has only one defect, viz., that it is not large enough to accommodate all the worshippers who would attend it, especially at a season when so many English visitors are passing through Paris. When the service was over it was scarcely possible to make one’s way along the street, so dense was the crowd.”
In the afternoon the King paid a visit to President Fallières at the Elysée, which was returned later, Madame Fallières accompanying the President to make the acquaintance of the Queen. In the evening their Majesties dined with their old friends Mr. and Mrs. Standish.
The following is an extract, giving the French impression of the Church service:
“L’Eglise était comble, bien qu’on n’y eût èté admís que sur la présentation de cartes imprimées, spécialement. L’Entrée des souverains y fut saluée par de nouveaux vivats. Ils prirent place dans la tribune de l’ambassade, a gauche de la nef. Puis le service commença. C’était l’office ordinaire du dimanche et la seule modification qu’on y apporta fut l’exécution du ‘God save the King’—joué par les orgues à la fin de la cérémonie, tandis que tous les assistants chantaient en chœur. Le Reverend H. E. Noyes officie. Edouard VII. suit avec une attention soutenue l’office, ainsi d’ailleurs que la reine Alexandra.”
All through the week the liveliest interest was taken in the movements of the King and Queen, and there were some amusing incidents. There was great curiosity to see the King’s automobile, the people apparently having forgotten that he had purchased it in Paris on a previous visit. What they expected to see I don’t know—perhaps some vehicle modelled after the old Royal stage coaches? But the reality was a fine Mercédés car, much the same in outward appearance as others in Paris, but with luxurious interior fittings. It was the rule in France at this time (as since) to have a conspicuous number painted on each car, and this mark the Royal Mercédés had not. It was consequently very soon stopped by a policeman in the Champs Elysées, and a crowd gathered. When, however, it was found to have a Royal owner, it was allowed to pass on. But this was not the end of the matter. Next day it was stopped by a more “exigeant” police officer, who, having failed to get satisfactory answers from the English chauffeur, obliged him to go to the police station. The crowd was highly amused as the news soon spread “C’est l’automobile du Roi,” although the stern police officer continued to ignore it. I believe there was another difficulty the following day. However, so soon as His Majesty heard of his chauffeur’s adventures, he ordered a number to be at once painted on the car, to conform with the French law.
Her Majesty the Queen received many begging and other letters during her short stay, and I was struck by the careful enquiries she caused to be made about each case. I was glad to be able to give, through one of the attachés, information as to several of the applicants who were well known to me.
The consideration of the Parisians for the “incognito” of their Majesties was very marked. It was reported that both the King and Queen expressed their satisfaction at this, and that the former said “Nothing could be nicer or more discreet. The Parisians are the most courteous people in the world.” The same attitude was maintained all through the visit, enabling their Majesties to go about in freedom and comfort, as they constantly did, to the great delight of both nationalities in the gay city.
After the “Entente Cordiale” became an accomplished fact, we had several visits of public bodies to Paris, and I always endeavoured to arrange a special service for them as part of the programme of the visit. In November, 1903, we had a British Parliamentary visit. I had corresponded with the secretary beforehand, and arranged for a special service at 4 p.m. on the Sunday afternoon (29th). We had no room for them at the ordinary morning service. I also consulted Sir E. and Lady Monson, who kindly arranged their reception for 5 o’clock, so that the Members of Parliament, their wives, and daughters could go across to the Embassy at the close of the service. About 300 attended, and, I had reason to know, fully appreciated the arrangement that had been made for them. I preached upon the Great Charter of our Religious Liberty from the text “Render unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” The National Anthem was very heartily sung at the close. Sir E. and Lady Monson received the guests with their usual kindness, and all the magnificent rooms at the Embassy were thrown open to them. All the members of the British party were present, together with French Senators and Deputies, and the leading members of the British Colony in Paris.
This same year we had a visit from the present Bishop of London. I believe his first visit as Bishop. I had written to him to say that I had a number of candidates for confirmation (about 50), but that our own Bishop Wilkinson, coadjutor for London, could not come, and could he ask some other Bishop who might be in London to take the office for us. He wrote: “My dear Noyes, I will come myself.” The British Colony will not soon forget his visit. After the Confirmation, at which he gave a most helpful address, although curiously enough founded upon a misquotation, we had a reception at my house, which was attended by the leading members of the Colony, and those confirmed, with their parents and friends. The Bishop (as always) won the hearts of all by his kindness and geniality. I acted as His Lordship’s chaplain while he was in Paris, and he kindly fell in with all the arrangements I had made, which were numerous.
In February, 1906, we had a visit from the London County Council, most of whom attended the ordinary service in the Embassy Church on February 4th. On Monday (5th), there was a grand reception at the Hotel de Ville. This magnificent structure, erected on the site of the old historic building, is well worth a visit. The decorations and pictures are among the most beautiful in Paris, and when it is lit up and specially decorated with flags, etc., as it was on this occasion, presents a striking scene. The same week the “Minister of the Interior,” an office corresponding to that of our Home Secretary, gave a grand reception in his superb mansion in the Place Beauveau. All the London County Council were invited, together with the leading members of the British Colony. The reception was followed by a concert, in which some of the best known artists in Paris took part. The programme was itself a thing of beauty, bearing in the front a striking picture drawn for the occasion by Lévy, of a sailor looking back over a tempestuous sea at a lighthouse on a pier.
[Illustration: SIR WALTER VAUGHAN-MORGAN, LORD MAYOR OF LONDON 1905-1906.]
[Illustration: MR. WRIGHT.]
This was a year of visits. In October, the Right Hon. Sir Walter Vaughan-Morgan, Lord Mayor of London, accompanied by many of the City Fathers, came officially to Paris. There was considerable excitement among the citizens of Paris about this visit, for among other things it was rumoured that the Lord Mayor would bring his state carriage, and also Mr. Wright, his well-known coachman, whose fame had preceded him. An enormous crowd gathered to welcome the party, many leaving off work early in order to see them pass, and the streets from Gare du Nord to the Rue Scribe were literally packed with people. The cheers were frequent and loud, and one often heard, “Vivent les Anglais,” and the less common “Vive le lor Maire.” Had this cry ever been heard before in Paris? Mr. Wright, the coachman, had reached Paris the day before, and was soon recognized on the box of the Lord Mayor’s carriage. The crowd shouted, “Vive Monsieur Wright,” and “Vive le cocher du lor Maire” with vehemence, evidently delighted with his jolly appearance. I had corresponded with Sir Joseph Savory with reference to a service in the Embassy Church on the Sunday, and it was decided that a gallery (holding about 100) should be placed at their disposal, although this caused the other parts of the building to be very crowded. In front of the Embassy, which faces the Rue d’Aguesseau, and down the street, police were stationed in force. Had the King himself been coming there would hardly have been a stronger detachment. The whole of the gallery in the Church was filled. The Lord Mayor was invited to a seat in the Embassy gallery. I preached a special sermon to a very attentive congregation upon the labour question. After Divine Service the Lord Mayor and members of the party lunched at the Embassy with Sir Francis and Lady Feodorowna Bertie. In the afternoon the Lord Mayor, accompanied by Sir George Faudel Phillips, Sherriffs Dunn and Crosby, Sir Joseph Savory, and Sir Vesey Strong, paid a visit to the Girls’ Friendly Society. There is usually a large attendance of girls on Sunday afternoon, but on this occasion the hall was crowded in every part. In introducing the Lord Mayor, I explained the objects of the Society, and told something of its good work in Paris. In reply Sir W. Vaughan-Morgan said “He had not expected to find the members of the Society so numerous in Paris. He did not know if he were breaking the rules in paying them a visit, but as Dr. Noyes had brought him in, he also hoped he would find some way of getting him out.” Sir George Faudel Phillips also said some kind words to the ladies and members present. The drives of the civic party in the City in the days that followed were a great delight to the people crowding the streets. I was on the Boulevards on one occasion when the carriages passed, and the remarks of the people at the unusual dresses, and especially the head gear of some of the party, were most amusing. I understand the principal carriage was not brought as it was too large for the railway vans! The Lord Mayor and Corporation very kindly gave me 100 guineas as a memento of their visit, towards the proposed Church House in connection with the Embassy Church—a much-needed institution—part of which will form a club for young British men, and the whole be a centre for church work.
[Illustration: ENTRANCE TO BRITISH EMBASSY.]
THE BRITISH EMBASSY.
I lived and worked in Paris during the “reign” of five Presidents of the Republic and four British Ambassadors. When I went abroad M. Sadi Carnot was President. He was assassinated at Lyons in June, 1894, by the Italian Anarchist Caserio Santo. When I left Paris President Fallières had lately come to the Elysée. The interest of the British Colony largely centres in the British Embassy, and the residence of the Ambassador in the Faubourg St. Honoré has been the scene of many notable gatherings. The house itself is a very attractive one, with beautiful gardens extending at the back to the Champs Elysées. It is said to have been built after the design of Mazin, in the eighteenth century, and was originally inhabited by the Princess Pauline Borghése. It may be interesting to some to know that pieces of the Borghése furniture still remain in the Embassy, notably the handsome bedstead. His Majesty the King occupied this when staying at the Embassy. Some beautiful Empire clocks are to be seen in the reception rooms, and are, I understand, unique and very valuable.
It was in the time of the Duke of Wellington that the property was purchased for the English Government. The price said to have been paid was 625,000 frs., a comparatively small sum. It has proved a profitable investment, as property in this part of Paris has greatly increased in value. It is estimated that the property is now worth six millions of francs (£240,000). The following is, I believe, a complete list of the Ambassadors who have resided there:—1816, Sir Charles Stuart; 1825, Viscount Granville; 1829, Lord Stuart de Rothesay. During the reign of Louis Phillipe, Henry, Lord Cowley, and then the Marquis of Normanby, were at the Embassy. 1852, Lord Cowley (son of the former Ambassador); 1868, Lord Lyons; 1887, The Earl of Lytton. Lord Lytton died in June, 1891, and was succeeded by the Marquis of Dufferin and Ava, who retired upon the age limit of seventy in 1896. He was succeeded by Sir Edmund Monson, who also retired from age, and the present occupant is the Right Hon. Sir Francis Bertie, whose wife is a daughter of Lord Cowley, the former Ambassador. I had intended, with the permission of the Ambassador, to put a board in the Embassy Gallery in the Church, recording the above facts and dates, which would be of great interest to many, but I put it off until too late. Perhaps my successor may wish to carry out this idea.
The success and comfort of the Chaplain in his varied work connected with the Embassy Church, naturally depends largely upon the support and sympathy of the Ambassador and his family. I desire to place it on record that during my sixteen years’ work in Paris, nothing could exceed the kindness and consideration which I received.
[Illustration: EARL OF LYTTON.]
My first introduction to the Embassy was when the offer of the chaplaincy came to me. There was then a considerable debt upon the Church, which I was required to undertake, and which caused me to hesitate. I was uncertain how far the Colony would support me. I was advised to go over to Paris and consult with Lady Lytton before I finally decided. I did so, and was most kindly received. We talked the matter over, and I related my difficulties, when Lady Lytton said: “Come, and we will help you to pay off this debt” (£600). Her Excellency promised that she would organise a bazaar, which would no doubt be sufficient. Soon after my arrival a meeting was called and the matter put in hand, but alas! before the sale could be held, the Earl of Lytton died.
It fell to Lady Dufferin—who kindly took the matter up—to make her first public appearance as Ambassadress, at the opening ceremony. The effort proved most successful, the debt was paid, and a balance remained which enabled me to put double doors to the Church, which in the winter time were most necessary. The Earl of Lytton was not a regular Church goer. He used jokingly to say to me: “You are so crowded I can’t get in”; but Lady Lytton and her daughters were most regular, and generally at both morning and afternoon services on Sundays. Her Excellency took a great interest in the British poor and in the various charities, especially in the Victoria Home—paying frequent visits to the old ladies—much to their delight.
It was a sad time in the English Colony when the family left. Personally, we missed them greatly, for we were frequently at the Embassy, our children often played there, and in every way the relationship had been most happy. It was a real pleasure to us to receive several visits from Lady Lytton subsequently in Paris, and to answer her kind enquiries about friends in the Colony.
A change at the Embassy is always, for many reasons, an anxious moment for the English colony. It was with real pleasure that we heard the news that the Earl of Lytton was to be succeeded by the Marquis of Dufferin and Ava, who had been as part of his memorable career both Governor of India and Canada, and whose name was well known to all English people. Lord and Lady Dufferin arrived in Paris in March, 1892.
A hearty welcome was accorded to the Marquis and his family, and it was soon felt that we had in him, not only an Ambassador accredited to the French Republic, but also one who realized his responsibilities to the large Colony of British people always to be found in Paris; and that in this attitude he would be in every way supported by his noble wife. As chaplain to the Embassy Church I was most grateful for the kind reception and encouragement I received from the day of their arrival until their much regretted departure. It was delightful to see the Embassy gallery in church crowded the Sunday after their arrival, and to find they took a lively interest in all religious and philanthropic questions. I was at times during my chaplaincy saddened by the too frequent neglect of the ordinary Church services by the Churchmen on the staff of the Embassy. Why is it that the Diplomatic seems the exception, with respect to a general rule in the public service of at least one attendance at their own Church on Sundays? I had, however, no reason to complain of the attendance during Lord and Lady Dufferin’s time in Paris—the gallery was invariably well filled. I suppose that after all it is in this service, as in others, a matter of example. As is known, the Marquis of Dufferin suffered from deafness in his later years. He used sometimes to bring a book of sermons, which he read while I preached.
[Illustration: COUNTESS OF LYTTON.]
The Embassy was practically an open house during this time, and the enthusiasm and devotion of the British Colony remarkable. In May this year a banquet was given in honour of the Queen’s birthday, and was most brilliant. The leading members of the Colony were invited. The banqueting hall was decorated with trophies gathered from many lands, and the table (as always) beautifully arranged with flowers, and some of the many curios the Marquis possessed from Canada, Burmah, India, etc. It was part of my duty to say the Grace on these occasions.
In November of the same year I received a visit from my lamented friend, Lord Plunket, late Archbishop of Dublin, and their Excellencies the Marquis and Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava honoured us by coming to meet him at dinner. The late Canon Meyrick, the Bishop of Clogher, and Père Hyacinthe Loyson were also with us. It was a gathering preliminary to a visit to Spain by Lord Plunket for the consecration of a Reformed Church in Madrid. I have said that the first public act of Lady Dufferin was to open the Bazaar on behalf of the debt on the Church, which she did in a telling little speech, which made a most favourable impression upon all present. But Her Excellency may be said to have been always before the public in Paris. She found time amid the onerous duties of the Embassy to visit the various charitable institutions, and to organize help and give advice wherever needed. I remember on one occasion she came to the meeting of the British Charitable Fund, and sat for a considerable time listening to the various tales of woe that came before us. The applications to Her Excellency from professional beggars were very numerous, but she never gave help without careful enquiry, and I was glad to be of frequent assistance to her in this matter. The Victoria Home for Aged British Women was regularly visited by Lady Dufferin and her daughters, indeed, almost every week, and Her Excellency knew all the inmates and the story of their long life in France. She had no more devoted admirers in the Colony. The Ladies Hermione and Victoria Blackwood were ever welcome, and spared neither time nor trouble to brighten and cheer their lives. Photographs of the Dufferin family hang in many of the rooms, and long after they left the old ladies would make anxious and loving enquiries about them. The Girls’ Friendly Society, as I have stated elsewhere, owes its present prosperous condition to the efforts of Lady Dufferin.
[Illustration: THE MARQUIS OF DUFFERIN AND AVA.]
My predecessor, Rev. Howard Gill, realizing the necessity of a central building where the various Church works could be concentrated, and where also much-needed rest and recreation rooms for young men might be established, had ventilated the idea of a Church House. There is no house or room of any kind connected with the Embassy Church. An influential meeting was held in the Mansion House in London in furtherance of the project, but owing to the debt on the church nothing had been done. As this debt had been paid I felt we might move forward, and consulted Lord and Lady Dufferin on the subject. The difficulty was to commence a fund when so large a sum (about £12,000) would be required. Their Excellencies, however, advised me to go forward, and promised me all the assistance they could. Lord Dufferin kindly wrote me a letter which I published with an appeal. A short time after I was told by Lady Dufferin that they had decided to allow a public sale in the Embassy on behalf of the scheme. This proved to be a great success. Lady Dufferin presided over a stall assisted by the ladies of the Embassy, and the Ladies Blackwood conducted a fish pond which was largely patronized. The “clew” of the sale was an exhibition in a private room of all the “curios” belonging to Lord Dufferin, including a gilt filagree stand and drinking cup, which had belonged originally to the King of Burma. His Excellency took the most lively interest in his own “show,” and never tired going round to explain the various objects to the visitors. The nett result of the sale was over 27,000 francs, and the fund was now fairly started; it amounted to between seven and eight thousand pounds when I left Paris. The house can now be purchased, as the balance required can easily be borrowed.
The thoughtful personal kindness I and my wife received from Lord and Lady Dufferin is beyond words to express. I may only give one or two examples. There is no residence attached to the Church, and as I was living some distance away it was very difficult to get back after the eight o’clock Communion Service on Sunday mornings for breakfast, and be down again for Sunday School (held in the Church) at 9.30. Lady Dufferin at once recognized this, and kindly offered me breakfast on Sunday mornings at the Embassy. The rest was most helpful, and I used to look forward to my meal in the pleasant gallery looking out upon the garden—and an occasional chat with Nowell, who waited upon me—as a most pleasant break in the constant work of Sunday. Nowell was the confidential servant of Lord Dufferin for many years, who went with him to Canada in 1872, and had been with him in all his different posts.
A rather amusing incident once happened. The late Archbishop of York was staying at the Embassy, and we were invited to meet him at dinner on the Saturday evening. While I was at breakfast on Sunday morning he sent his servant down to ask me the way to the other English church!
In 1893-4 my wife had a most serious illness, and was confined to the house for some months. I can truly say that scarcely a day passed without Lady Dufferin coming in to see her, and often to sit with her for a considerable time. Even when His Majesty the King (then Prince of Wales) was in Paris, and lunching at the Embassy, she did not omit this kind office, but apologized for being late. Such kindness can never be rewarded or forgotten.
Our relations with the French were not at this time of the most cordial character, and I often feared that His Excellency had a good deal of anxiety that we knew nothing of—as, of course, we never spoke of “politics” at the Embassy. I once, however, ventured to say that I feared he had been passing through a troublous time, and he took and held my hand in his kind way and said: “My dear Noyes, when one has been through the anxieties of Canada and India, it is not so difficult to support the trouble here.”
[Illustration: THE MARCHIONESS OF DUFFERIN AND AVA.]
But if the Embassy had its grave moments it had its gay ones too. One morning, quite early, I received a visit from apparently an old lady (really a very young one), who told me she was in great trouble. She seemed, however, very reluctant to explain, and said she would like to see my wife. As she was not down I proposed she could come later, or, if she preferred, see me in the Vestry, where I usually received such visits. After some demur she promised she would. I learned later in the day that it was one of the ladies from the Embassy—disguised.
She went from me to the Chancery, and equally deceived one of the Attachés. The “make up” was very clever, and I was quite deceived. We were dining at the Embassy the same evening, and His Excellency said, “I wish she had got a franc from you, I should have put it on my watch-chain.”
We had a very enjoyable Christmas party at the Embassy in (I think) 1894. Lady Dufferin had arranged for a sort of magnified charade, in which the family and most of the Attachés took part, and in which they “took off” one another. The scene representing the writing of a dispatch in the Chancery was most amusing, the peculiarities of the different secretaries were cleverly caricatured. I was brought into the play, with some other members of the Colony.
It was a happy coincidence that there were two weddings in the Dufferin family during their stay in Paris. These occasions were peculiarly interesting to me, as I had been in the habit of giving religious instruction to the younger members of the family every week at the Embassy; and also that I had known the Hon. W. Lee Plunket, who married Lady Victoria Blackwood, for some years. His father, the late Archbishop, was an intimate friend, with whom I had travelled much in England, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, and Portugal. The first marriage, that of Lord Terence Blackwood and Miss Flora Davis, took place on Oct. 16th, 1893. Miss Davis being an American, the wedding took place in the Church of the Holy Trinity, Avenue de l’Alma, Dr. Morgan and myself being the officiating clergy. The church was beautifully decorated, and well filled with guests, both the English and American Colonies being largely represented. In the seats reserved for distinguished guests were Lord and Lady Dufferin, the United States Ambassador (Mr. and Mrs. Eustis), the Baron and Baroness de Morenheim from the Russian Embassy, Mrs. J. H. Davis (stepmother of the bride), with some other relations. After the ceremony a reception was held at the British Embassy, very numerously attended by both French and English. The large number of handsome presents—under the charge of Nowell—had many admiring visitors. It was altogether a most interesting and brilliant gathering, and the first marriage from the Embassy for several years.
[Illustration: TRAINBEARERS AT THE LADY PLUNKET’S WEDDING.]
The wedding bells were, however, heard again when the Hon. W. Lee Plunket (now Lord Plunket, Governor of New Zealand) was married in the Embassy Church to Lady Victoria Blackwood, daughter of their Excellencies Lord and Lady Dufferin. The wedding took place on June 4th, 1894, and was a most interesting event. It had been given out that the marriage would be of a semi-private character. Notwithstanding, the church was full to the doors. It was an interesting gathering from both the family and public point of view. Mrs. Rowan Hamilton, Lady Helen Ferguson, Lady Terence Blackwood, Lady Hermione Blackwood, and the Hon. Elizabeth and Olive Plunket (sisters of the bridegroom), were present, and Miss Muriel Stephenson and the Hon. Cynthia Lyttelton were among the bridesmaids. In describing the bridal procession, the “New York Herald” said: “The noble Marquis, who wore the conventional frock coat, appeared deeply moved as he led his beloved daughter to the altar. In close order behind came the eight bridesmaids in their light dresses and broad hats, forming a very gay cortège, the rear of which was brought up by a weeny mite of six years or so in an ample Greenaway white skirt and mob cap, and her brother equally diminutive, a jolly little ‘shaver,’ alert as he could be, his big blue eyes taking in everything, dressed in white knickerbockers and three-cornered white cavalier hat. How sweet they were. Let me introduce them to you—Miss Dora Geraldine Noyes and Master Claude Noyes.” The latter, who had imbibed the idea that this ceremony involved the departure of Lady Victoria from the Embassy, for whom he had a great admiration, was very indignant with Mr. Plunket, and “went for him” later on in the Embassy garden. It was a great pleasure to me to stand on this occasion side by side with Lord Plunket (then Archbishop of Dublin) and to assist in the marriage of his son. The signatories of the marriage contract were the Earl of Dufferin and Ava, Lord Plunket (Archbishop of Dublin), Mr. F. Rowan Hamilton, the Hon. David Plunket, and myself. The reception after the ceremony in the Embassy gardens was a brilliant gathering of “Tout Paris.” M. Hanotaux (the newly appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs) was among those present, and the Diplomatic Corps were “au grand complet.” Many American friends of the family came to wish Godspeed and happiness to the young couple. It was a happy gathering, and the fine old garden—the scene of so many memorable gatherings—looked its best.
In the Diplomatic service Ambassadors retire at the age of seventy; there was real sorrow in the English Colony in Paris when it was known that the Marquis of Dufferin and Ava was nearing this period. It being, however, inevitable, it was decided to render their departure as little sorrowful as possible, so far as the British Colony was concerned. A Committee was formed to consider a presentation to Lord Dufferin, and also a Committee of ladies, who were anxious to mark their appreciation of Her Excellency’s kindness and untiring work in connection with the various charities. It was agreed to present to the Ambassador a portrait of his son, Lord Ava, who was also very popular, and M. Benjamin Constant was commissioned to paint it.
It was unfortunately not ready for the day when the presentation was made, but the subscribers were invited to view it later. It is now, of course, of very special value, owing to the unfortunate death of Lord Ava in South Africa. At the banquet, when the presentation was made, the Earl made a most interesting speech, part of which is well worth recording. He said: “That he felt he was not addressing an audience, but was speaking to a few dear and intimate friends, and therefore would not make a set speech. When one had something to say from one’s heart words came easily. Considering the almost minatory words in Scripture, addressed to those who, like himself, had reached their seventieth year, he hardly knew whether he might consider himself as possessed of a future, or whether he ought not to regard his life as over, and himself as an uninvited guest at a crowded banquet. He consoled himself, however, with the reflection that the words of Holy Scripture were addressed to a people whose life began rather earlier—who married, for instance, sometimes at the age of ten, and whose girls were occasionally mothers at that age. As he had not married till he was thirty-six, he concluded that he was only now beginning his life. Speaking as he did in the British Embassy, he remembered what he felt at his first appearance there. It was in that room that he had ventured upon his first waltz, having been ordered to dance. The lady was, he feared, thoroughly disgusted with her partner. In this room, too, he remembered a performance of the ‘School for Scandal,’ in which three of the characters had been taken by three descendants of Sheridan—the Duchess of Somerset, his mother, and Mr. R. Sheridan. Finally, the room would be after this associated with one of the most gratifying incidents of his life, the presentation of this gift by his friends in Paris. He would like to say a few words on his choice of the present. He had desired something which might descend to his heirs, and remain long afterwards as a memorial of the kind feelings with which he had been regarded in Paris. He had not chosen, therefore, a valuable picture or other object which squandering descendants—such persons were occasionally found in families—would at once sell, but he had asked for a portrait of his son which would grow more valuable with time, and be a long-lasting memorial of his Paris career. It would be among the most treasured of the objects which he had collected at Clandeboy from all parts of the world.”
The speech was delivered in the Earl’s happiest vein, and was listened to with rapt attention, though not without emotion, it being his last public address to the British Colony in Paris.
The Colony, however, were not satisfied with shewing their warm appreciation of the kindness of their Ambassador. Lady Dufferin had won all hearts during her stay by her consideration and goodness to rich and poor. Almost every charity in Paris had benefited from the indefatigable work of Her Excellency, who had gone thoroughly into the affairs of the various agencies and then set herself to strengthen any that were weak. Never did she fail to respond to any appeal, taking a personal interest in every case, often at a sacrifice to the demands upon her diplomatic duties. It was both a glad and a sad gathering in the “Galerie des Champs Elysées” in June, 1896, when the presentation committee and a large gathering of friends met to say farewell to their Ambassadress. The gift was a lovely Louis XVI. clock and candelabras, and was presented on behalf of the donors by the Hon. Mrs. Gye.
In reply Lady Dufferin said: “It is really impossible for me to say what I feel on this occasion, for I am quite overwhelmed by your kindness and by your expressions of friendship and goodwill. However undeserving of such kindness I may feel, it is a very great pleasure to me to receive this assurance of your sympathy. I thank you with all my heart for your generous words, your good wishes, and for this most lovely gift. I thank you also for the many occasions upon which during the last three years you have shewn your sympathy with other members of my family, and for the loyal support you have ever given me in all matters relating to British charities in Paris. It is the duty, and I am sure it is the pleasure, of every English Ambassadress here to interest herself in these institutions, but without the hearty co-operation of the British residents, her fellow subjects, her interest in them could have no practical result. If, therefore, I have been able to promote in the slightest degree the welfare of any British charity here, it is because of the unfailing help and support I have received from you.”
Shortly after, the departure of Lord and Lady Dufferin took place. It was a time and scene not easily forgotten. The whole Embassy staff were gathered in the hall, my wife and myself among them. The Ambassador and Lady Dufferin came down and went round to everyone, shaking hands and saying goodbye. There were few dry eyes. No ceremony marked their departure beyond this, and they drove away in an ordinary “growler”—it was just like them. Lord and Lady Dufferin returned to Paris subsequently—for the Emperor and Empress of Russia’s visit—but stayed at an hotel. I rarely met Lord Dufferin afterwards. The last time was at the cemetery at Mount Jerome, Dublin, when we stood beside the grave of the late Lord Plunket. He then laid his hand on my shoulder, saying: “Noyes, this is a great deal out of your life;” and so it was, for I had been intimate for many years with the Archbishop. It has been our delight to welcome Lady Dufferin on several occasions since.
The death of Lord Ava in South Africa, so deservedly loved, was a great blow to Lord Dufferin, and one of the sorrows which no doubt brought him to the grave.
On that occasion he wrote me the following letter:—
“My dear Noyes,—
“I knew you would feel for us, and my wife and I are deeply grateful to you and Mrs. Noyes for the sympathy you have shewn us. We know no details except that the telegram told us that our poor boy died without having ever recovered consciousness from the time he was struck. It is God’s will, and we must try to submit in patience.
“Yours very sincerely,
“DUFFERIN AND AVA.”
The successor to the Marquis of Dufferin in Paris was Sir Edmund Monson, Bart., who had held many and important posts in the public service. He came to the Faubourg St. Honoré in October, 1896, having been Ambassador Extraordinary, and Plenipotentiary to the Emperor of Austria since 1893. He was appointed a Royal Commissioner for the Paris Exhibition of 1900, and was made an honorary D.C.L. of Oxford in 1898. He also received the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour from the French Government.
Sir Edmund and Lady Monson received a hearty welcome from Parisians generally, and the Ambassador soon won his way with us all by his kindly manner and warm interest in whatever concerned the British Colony. There were many important events during the time Sir E. Monson was with us, among which was the celebration of the Jubilee of Queen Victoria, which took place in June, 1897. A garden party was given at the Embassy, which was very largely attended. The “Figaro” said there were about four thousand present. The entire Diplomatic Corps, artistic, political, and literary celebrities, distinguished visitors to Paris, and the leading members of the British Colony were included. Madame Felix Fauré and Mlle. Lucie Fauré, wife and daughter of the President, M. Hanotaux, and many others well known in French politics and society, were amongst the guests. General Horace Porter, the American Ambassador, was supported by a large number of the American Colony. The following day a Children’s Fête was held at St. Cloud. Special boats conveyed the young Britishers to the rendezvous, and a most enjoyable day was spent. Between eight and nine hundred sat down to tea, when patriotic speeches were made amid hearty demonstrations of loyalty to the Throne. It is not an unimportant part of the chaplain’s work to keep “green” in the hearts of the young living in Paris the home feeling, and to prevent their slipping away from attachment to their Sovereign.
The following year was marked by the “Fashoda” incident, which, it will be remembered, caused much excitement in both countries. Relations were somewhat strained, and all sorts of exaggerated rumours got abroad. I remember it being reported that Sir E. Monson had gone to the Elysée with an “Ultimatum” in his pocket; and again, that the Embassy had commenced to pack up with a view to removal! In December, 1898, the British Chamber of Commerce gave a banquet, at which Sir Edmund Monson made a speech which caused considerable excitement. On arrival, I found the journalists, who had seen a copy of the speech before it was delivered, in a considerable flutter, M. Blowitz of the “Times” being especially active. There was marked silence during the delivery of the speech by the Ambassador. The following is the most striking passage: “I would entreat the French Nation to resist the temptation to try to thwart British enterprise by petty manœuvres; such as I grieve to see suggested by the proposal to set up educational establishments as rivals to our own in the newly acquired provinces of the Soudan. Such ill-considered provocation, to which I confidently trust no official countenance will be given, might well have the effect of converting that policy of forbearance from taking the full advantage of our recent victories, and our present position, which has been enunciated by our highest authority into the adoption of measures, which, though they evidently find favour with no inconsiderable party in England, are not, I presume, the object at which French sentiment is aiming.”
[Illustration: COURT YARD, BRITISH EMBASSY.]
In February of the next year, President Felix Fauré died quite unexpectedly. There was a certain mystery about his death which has never been quite cleared up to the public satisfaction. The wildest rumours were spread in Paris. I visited the Elysée, and the salon where the dead President lay. He looked much as I had often seen him in life. He was dressed in evening clothes, the prevailing custom in France. The funeral was most imposing. But “Le Roi est mort, vive le Roi.” Very soon the question of a successor came on, and the grand Salon at Versailles (where the German Emperor was crowned in 1870) was filled with the deputies to elect their President. The choice fell upon M. Loubet—contrary to the expectation of many—and the event showed that he was the right man, for during his Presidency France had a comparatively quiet period.
Next year (1900) came the great Exhibition, when we were flooded with visitors from all parts of the world. Sir Edmund Monson kindly placed the ballroom at the Embassy at my disposal for an overflow service on the Sunday mornings, as the church proved too small.
Indeed, nothing could exceed the interest and kindness of the Ambassador in all Church matters. During this year the Annual Conference of Continental Chaplains was held in Paris, as it gave them the opportunity to visit the Exhibition. Halls suitable for such a gathering were very expensive, but again the Ambassador came to our aid, and we held the Conference in the ballroom at the Embassy. He also gave a banquet to the chaplains, which was much appreciated. I unfortunately caught typhoid fever at the end of the year, and so was debarred from many of the closing functions which were crowded into that time.
In 1901 came our great National loss in the death of England’s greatest Queen. I have described elsewhere the deep feeling manifested in the British Colony in Paris, and the services held in connection with that sad event.
I have spoken above of the kindness of Sir E. Monson in all Church matters. When the time of his departure drew near, I wrote to tell him how much the British Colony, and especially the congregation of the Embassy Church, appreciated what he had done. He wrote me the following letter:—
“My dear Dr. Noyes,—
“I am deeply touched by your kind letter of yesterday; and it is a real gratification to me to think that our association during the last eight years has been productive of such relations of friendship as have constantly existed between us, and that our steady co-operation in the interests of the English community here has never failed to be advantageous.
“In the many posts which I have occupied in Her Majesty’s service, it has always been one of my chief pleasures to come into contact with the English chaplains, and it has so happened that wherever I have been I have had opportunities of making a general acquaintance with all the accessible clergy. I have had special experience of their devotion to their work, and though differences of opinion are inevitable, I have never found that such differences have seriously interfered with social liking and harmony. It has consequently been always a real pleasure to my wife and myself to welcome the chaplains whenever a general meeting calls them together at the post we may be occupying. It is not so easy at Paris as it is elsewhere to be in touch with a large British community, but everyone with whom we have made acquaintance has given us evidence of interest for which we cannot but be very grateful. We hope to be from time to time in Paris, and whether we have a sort of home here or not, we shall at any rate look upon the Rue d’Aguesseau Church as a spot in which we have a vested interest, and where we shall never be regarded as strangers. With my wife’s very kind regards to yourself and Mrs. Noyes, I remain, dear Dr. Noyes,
“Most sincerely yours,
Sir Edmund Monson left us at the close of 1904, to the sincere regret of all his friends. He was succeeded by the present Ambassador, the Right Hon. Sir Francis Bertie, K.C.M.G., etc., who came into residence in January, 1905.
The staff at the Embassy is continually changing, so that during my long chaplaincy in Paris I made the acquaintance of many, and the friendship of some now serving King and country in different parts of the world. It would, I think, be difficult to find in the public service a finer body of men than those in Diplomacy.
The journalist has no doubt minimised to some extent the work formerly done by the Diplomatist—as Sir Edmund Monson pointed out in one of his speeches. But the adjustment of international difficulties, and the solving of delicate questions continually arising—the “keeping of the buttons tight”—leaves a vast amount of work with which Diplomacy only can deal, and for which the careful technical training for that service alone supplies the knowledge.
One of the best-known figures at the Embassy is Sir Henry Austin Lee, C.B., etc., who has been many years attached to the Embassy, and is universally loved and respected. He has had, as is well known, a very distinguished career.
Among the many important appointments he has held, it will be remembered that he was attached to the late Marquis of Salisbury’s special Embassy to Constantinople in 1876, and the special Embassy during the Congress in Berlin in 1878, being assistant private secretary to the late Earl of Beaconsfield. He is now Commercial Attaché in Paris, and Councillor of the Embassy, and also Director and member of the Managing Committee of the Suez Canal Company. Sir Henry Lee takes the warmest interest in the British charities in Paris, and is Chairman of the Schools and member of the Committee of the British Charitable Fund. His marriage was the last held in the Embassy. I officiated with his brother at the ceremony. Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales (then Princess May) was present on the occasion, and H.R.H. the Duke of Teck one of the witnesses.
Sir Charles Ottley, Admiral Sir William May, and Capt. Morgan were Naval Attachés during my sojourn, and Major-General the Hon. Sir Reginald Talbot, the late Lt.-Col. W. F. Bonham, and Lt.-Col. H. C. Lowther, Military Attachés.
[Illustration: SIR HENRY AUSTIN LEE, K.C.M.G., C.B.]
Sir E. Egerton (who has just left Rome), the late Sir Michael Herbert (who went from us to Washington), Sir Maurice de Bunsen (now Ambassador in Madrid), Sir Rennel Rodd (lately appointed to Rome), the Hon. Reginald Lister (who has lately left for Morocco), Sir Charles Harding, Mr. H. J. O. Beirne, Lord Berwick, the Earl of Sheffield, the present Lord Monson (whom I married), and many others, were at the Embassy during my time, and with some of whom I was privileged to work in the various philanthropic and other efforts in the British Colony.
One of my greatest regrets in leaving Paris was the necessary severance of my connection with the Embassy, and the parting from those who had shown me so much kindness.
During my chaplaincy there were several memorable services in the English Embassy Church. The first of these was the funeral of the late Earl of Lytton, Her Majesty’s Ambassador of France.
Lord Lytton died in November, 1891, at the Embassy. His death was unexpected and sudden. Upon hearing the sad news I called at the Embassy and saw Lady Lytton, who was naturally very much affected. I remember that she took me by the hand and led me into the chamber of death, and we both knelt down, and I prayed with her. The Earl was very little changed by death, and lay as if asleep. Each morning afterwards, until the funeral, I went to the Embassy and conducted family prayers. The relatives had gathered, and I had quite a large number. Several of the Balfour family were present, amongst whom was Lady Betty Balfour, the eldest daughter of Lady Lytton, who has since, as is well known, edited her father’s classic letters.
[Illustration: BRITISH EMBASSY CHURCH, FROM THE RUE D’AGUESSEAU.]
The funeral took place on Saturday, November 28th, and was most imposing. The late Earl was very popular with the French, so much so that it had been decided that the funeral must be public, and of the “class” usually accorded to a Marshal of France. The scene in the church was very remarkable. The Embassy had taken the body of the Church for the Diplomatic Corps and the high officials of state of the French Republic. One gallery was reserved for the special and intimate friends of Lady Lytton, and the other gallery was the only space available for members of the English Colony generally. The body of the Church presented a striking appearance. All the Foreign Ambassadors and their suites were present in full diplomatic dress, and the Military and Naval Attachés in their brilliant uniforms. I remember that Colonel the Hon. R. Talbot (as he was then) was especially remarked in his English scarlet dress. The French Government, the Political, Naval, Military, and Civil Administrations were all represented, and many of the most distinguished men in art, science, and literature had come to pay the last tribute to the deceased Ambassador.
The outer coffin was quite plain, in accordance with Lady Lytton’s desire, and bore the inscription “Edward Robert, First Earl of Lytton, born November 8th, 1831, died November 24th, 1891.”
The British Chamber of Commerce and the Hon. Whitelaw Reid had sent flowers (evidently not knowing of the order “No flowers”), but the only emblem in the Church was a simple wreath of laurel, which rested on the coffin. The Church was draped from ceiling to floor in black and silver, and the effect was very striking.
I have a record by me of some of those who were present, and it is an interesting list of names. There was the Prince of Monaco, M. Ribot (with the staff of the French Foreign Office), General Brugère, M. Fallières (then President of the Senate), MM. Jules Ferry, Léon Fay, Goblet, and Flourens. Then I saw Barons Alphonse Gustave and Edmund de Rothschild, Comte Armaud, Prince de Sagan, the Marquis de Breteuil, Alexandre Dumas, the Marquis de Jaucourt, and Comte de Portales. These are but a few of the well-known French names. In the gallery amongst many others were the Baroness Morenheim (wife of the Russian Ambassador at that time), the Countess Hoyos, Madame and Mlle. de Freycinet. I heard that amongst others a telegram of sympathy was received from Madame Sarah Bernhardt, who was in America. The pall bearers were the Count von Munster (the German Ambassador), Mr. Egerton, C.B. (Minister Plenipotentiary at the British Embassy), Sir E. Blount (representing the English Colony). M. Ribot (French Minister of Foreign Affairs), and MM. Jules Claretie and Camile Doucet, representing literature and science.
I shall never forget the scene in the streets. It had been arranged that the body of the late Earl should be taken from the Church in Rue d’Aguesseau to the Gare St. Lazare, to be conveyed to England. All the traffic was stopped between the Church and the railway station, and the streets were lined with military and police, and many thousands of spectators. It was said that 3,000 soldiers were employed, and that the procession took thirty minutes to pass any given spot. The demeanour of the immense crowd in the streets was most respectful and sympathetic, and all heads were bared as the coffin passed.
When we arrived at the railway, the hearse drew up at the entrance gate, and then followed a most impressive demonstration. I, with the other clergy and the sons of the deceased Ambassador, stood in front of the hearse; grouped round were the Ambassadors and State Officials, and now the entire body of the French troops filed past in review order and saluted the bier. I noticed that as the regimental flags were borne past, the Military Attachés saluted them and the civilians uncovered. The interment took place at Knebworth. We had a memorial service in Paris, and I made reference in the sermon to the distinguished services of the late Ambassador, and by request of Lady Lytton the sermon was published.
It was said at the time that the Earl of Lytton was the first Ambassador who had died at his post in Paris, but this is, I believe, not quite correct, as James Beaton, Archbishop of Glasgow, was Ambassador for Queen Mary and King James I. at the French Court, and he died in Paris in 1603. Curiously he was known as Jacques de Bethune de Balfour—the name Balfour being thus common to both families.
But a few weeks afterwards, and a second impressive and public service for the burial of the dead was held in the Embassy Chapel, this time as a memorial to the Duke of Clarence and Avondale. His early death had evoked a world-wide sympathy, and Her Majesty’s Chargé d’Affaires in Paris, Mr., now Sir E. H. Egerton, requested a public service. Upon this occasion the gorgeous diplomatic and military uniforms were not worn, as etiquette only prescribes the wearing of uniform at a funeral service in the case of a reigning sovereign, or of an Envoy Plenipotentiary. This fact, however, did but add to the solemnity of the scene. As was the case at the funeral service for the Earl of Lytton, the body of the Church was reserved for the French officials and the Corps Diplomatique, while the unreserved part was filled with members of the British Colony, all the ladies being dressed in mourning. The Church chancel and pulpit was draped with black and silver hangings, the porch outside being similarly decorated, the Royal arms being emblazoned in the centre. There was a large gathering of distinguished Frenchmen on this occasion: President Carnot was represented by Colonel Dalstein; the Prime Minister, M. de Freycinet, by Colonel Pamard; the Minister of Marine by Captain Thomas, of the Navy; and General Saussier, Governor of Paris, by Colonel Courbebaisse. M. Ribot, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, was present, and among other Frenchmen of prominence were M. d’Ormesson, Master of the Ceremonies; M. de Mahy, Vice-President of the Chamber of Deputies; M. Poubelle, Prefect of the Seine; the Duc de Luynes, and the Duc de Mouchy. Among the Diplomatic Corps I noticed Count Hoyos, the Austrian Ambassador; Colonel de Fréedéricksz, Military Attaché of the Russian Embassy; M. de Schön, of the German Embassy; M. Delyanni, the Greek Minister; Missak-Effendi, who replaced his chief, Essad Pasha, kept at home by influenza; the Baron de Almeda; M. Jusserand; Mr. Vignaud, of the United States Legation; General Meredith Read, and others. The members of the British Embassy were present “au grand complet,” headed by Mr. E. Egerton, Chargé d’Affaires, and Mr. Austin Lee.
I conducted the service, assisted by my valued colleague Rev. J. C. Pyper and two other clergymen, and preached from the text “Weep with them that weep.” Before closing I took occasion to thank those of other Nations for their kind expression of sympathy on the sad event. The guests were received at the Church door by Sir E. H. Egerton and Lt.-Col. the Hon. Reginald Talbot, the British Military Attaché, as we had no Ambassador yet appointed to succeed the Earl of Lytton. Real sympathy was very manifest through the whole service.
The following year (1893) there died in Paris a remarkable man, Rev. Whitaker McCall, the founder of the McCall Mission among the French people, whom it was my privilege to know during the last four years of his life. For twenty-three years this devoted man had worked in the lowest parts of Paris with remarkable success; so much so that in 1892 he was accorded the Cross of the Legion d’Honneur by the President of the French Republic as a mark of appreciation of the work he had done. He was also given the medal of the “Société libre d’Instruction et d’Education populaires,” and that of the “Société Nationale d’encouragement au Bien.” I believe he was the only Englishman who has thus been honoured, and this is the more remarkable as his work was purely and altogether religious. The Salles des Conferences scattered through Paris and the Provinces are a lasting tribute to his memory, and remain centres in which the work is still carried on. The funeral was held in the Church of the Oratoire in the Rue de Rivoli. A vast crowd filled the large building in every part. This church is remarkable from the fact that it was given to the French Protestants by Napoleon the Great, and at one time—before the Church in the Rue d’Aguesseau was bought—was used for English Church services on Sunday evenings. My friend Dr. Pigou, the Dean of Bristol, tells me that he frequently took services there when he was connected with the old Rue Marbœuf Church.
I was asked to take part in the funeral service of Mr. McCall, as representing the English Colony. It was a scene not easily forgotten. The immense crowd, the hymns sung in French, and the addresses—of which I gave one, in both French and English—were listened to with wrapt attention. It was the last and a loving tribute to one who has probably done more than any other to place the Word of God in the hands of the French people.
[Illustration: BRITISH EMBASSY CHURCH (INTERIOR).]
The following year was marked by public services of a different kind. It was the Diamond Jubilee of our late Queen, of glorious memory, and the British Colony in Paris—and there is none more loyal to the throne—determined to mark it in a special manner. Public meetings were held in the Hotel Continental, kindly lent for the purpose, and it was decided to raise a fund which, after deducting the expenses connected with the fête, should be devoted to the various British charities of Paris without distinction of creed. It was also decided to give a fête to the children of the Colony and a dinner to the working classes. I consulted with Sir E. Monson, our Ambassador, who arranged with me that there should be services held in the Embassy Church corresponding with the services in London on Sunday, June 20th. An official service was also arranged for the afternoon of the same day to which the Diplomatic Corps were to be invited. The following is a description of the services:—
“At the Embassy Church, in the Rue d’Aguesseau, there were two thanksgiving services, one at eleven a.m., at the close of which the Rev. Dr. Noyes, who wore the scarlet cassock of a Doctor of Divinity, delivered a touching and eloquent address. He stirred a deep chord in the heart of those who heard him by reminding them that, though in a foreign land for the time being, they were in communion of thought with millions of their countrymen at home, and many more millions of their fellow subjects in distant regions, even in the most remote corners of the earth, in offering their thanksgivings for the blessings the Queen’s reign had conferred on England and the British people.
“The official thanksgiving service also took place at the Rue d’Aguesseau, at three o’clock in the afternoon. The admission to the church was by tickets, as a large portion of the nave had to be reserved for the French officials and the members of the Corps Diplomatique; but the English community was also present in large numbers, and the church was densely crowded. The Corps Diplomatique, with the exception of the United States Ambassador, whom etiquette compels to wear evening dress on State occasions, were all in full dress. Our Embassy received the various officials and Diplomatists, and showed them to their places. There were present, representing England, Sir Edmund and Lady Monson (the late), Mr. Gosselin, Colonel Dawson, Mr. Clarke Thornhill, Sir Brook Boothby, Mr. Marling, Mr. Barclay, Sir Berkeley Sheffield, the British Consul General and Vice Consul, Messrs. Percy Inglis, and Mr. Falconer Atlee. President Faure was represented by the captain of the frigate Serpette, and the French Government by M. Hanotaux and M. Mollard. The German Ambassador and Countess Marie de Münster, the Russian Ambassador and some of his Attachés two of whom wore the splendid uniform of the Chevaliers Gardes; the Austrian Ambassador, in whose suite was a Hungarian magnate in a splendid national dress, the Italian Ambassador, one of whose Attachés was attired in the picturesque garb of a Colonel of Bersaglieri; the Persian Ambassador, Munir Bey, and his Staff, decked in gorgeous uniforms, contrasting strangely with the unpretending fez, which, of course, they did not remove; the Chinese Ambassador and a couple of quaintly dressed Mandarins, filled the nave of the unpretending little church with a glittering array of gold lace such as I think was never before congregated within its walls. The rest of the nave and the galleries were filled by the ticket-holders, and they were all obviously English, ladies largely predominating. The service was shorter than that in the morning, but there was no sermon, and at the close the choir sang the first and last verses of the National Anthem, in which the English part of the congregation joined. The Ambassador and his Staff then took up places at the entrance of the nave, and shook hands with the diplomatists and officials as they passed out.”
There were some very striking testimonies in the French papers to the Greatness of the Queen, e.g., in the “Gaulois,” M. Imbert de St. Amand wrote:—
“Queen Victoria has not only been a model Sovereign, she has also been the model of all wives, of all widows, of all mothers. She might be described in a very few words—virtue on the Throne. As a rule, long reigns generally end in sadness. Charlemagne wept at the sight of the Northmen’s galleys scouring the coasts. Charles V., weary and disheartened, sought the living death of the cloister, and was present at his own funeral service. Louis XIV. remarked to Marshal Villars after his last defeat, ‘We cannot at our time of life hope for good luck.’ None of these precedents holds good in the case of her Britannic Majesty. Her reign, after sixty years, seems to defy the efforts of time. There are no signs of decay, but of a permanent renewal of life. The popularity of the Queen grows with every year added to her reign, and the joy and enthusiasm with which her three hundred and fifty millions of subjects acclaim it are the crowning and most touching feature of her Diamond Jubilee. The Queen fully merits this apotheosis, since she is the noblest incarnation of all the leading qualities of the Anglo-Saxon race—love of her home, firmness of purpose, energy in effort, unswerving devotion to duty. England sees herself mirrored in her Sovereign, and takes just pride in the presentment. She and her people are one.… Every class of French society, without any distinction of party and origin, unites in respectful greeting of the Sovereign who stands out as the grandest womanly figure of her century—the heroine of duty, whom not only her children, but her whole people venerate as the most intelligent, the most devoted, the best of mothers. Like our neighbours, we shall all say, ‘God Save the Queen,’ and with all our hearts take part in the Jubilee, which is at once the triumph of the woman and the triumph of the Queen.”
And again M. Comely in the “Matin”:—
“It is impossible for a civilized being to refrain from a feeling of deep admiration at this splendid result of the past sixty years. But it is difficult for a Frenchman not to feel some bitterness when he compares the situation of England with that of his own country. Queen Victoria has known one King of the French, one Emperor of the French, and six Presidents of the French Republic. From her steady, unchanging, Royal observatory, she has beheld the rise and fall of eight Sovereigns! This stability of England, compared with the instability of France, is sufficient in itself to account for the reason why France has been growing less while England has been growing greater; the one has been shrinking, the other has been expanding.”
The fêtes were a great success, and a grand testimony—if it were needed—to the loyalty of Britishers living in France. About fourteen hundred applied for tickets. St. Cloud, a favourite suburb of Paris on the Seine, and the Restaurant du Parc—the scene of many British fêtes—were decided upon. Four of the “Hirondelles” boats were chartered to convey the party down the river. As each boat reached the jetty, the band of the Pavilion Bleu, a well-known restaurant, struck up the National Anthem. After dessert the following telegram was read, which had been sent by Sir E. Blount, then the “doyen” of the Colony, to Her Majesty Queen Victoria: “We your Majesty’s most loyal and loving subjects, venture to offer our heartfelt congratulations on this auspicious day, and pray for the continuance to your Majesty of those blessings which have shed such a lustre on your Majesty’s glorious reign.” The following reply was received: “The Queen desires me to thank you and Her British subjects in Paris for your kind message and congratulations. Bigge.”
Mr. A. Percy Inglis, the highly-respected Consul-General in Paris, made a patriotic speech. His proposal of a toast to the Queen was received with the utmost enthusiasm. I also made a speech on the occasion, and took the opportunity of explaining the history of the “Union Jack,” at which the audience seemed greatly pleased. Paris joined heartily in the celebrations, and the Rue de la Paix was a mass of flags, and parts of the City were illuminated. The English business houses all displayed flags in profusion.
In January, 1900, there was a remarkable gathering in the Embassy Church at the funeral of an English governess. It was the time of the Boer War, and it was said that the well-known firm of “Creusot” had supplied the guns which had done such execution against us in South Africa. This lady had been a governess in the family at the head of the firm, and was greatly respected. The firm paid all the expenses of the funeral, and attended in such large numbers that the body of the church was filled with men. It was a remarkable coincidence that at such a time the English Church in Paris should be filled with those who had, it was understood, supplied the munitions of war used against us, to pay a tribute of respect to a British subject, the service being conducted by an English clergyman.
In 1901 came that sad event which plunged the Nation into mourning—the death of Her Majesty Queen Victoria. The sympathy of the French people with us in our sorrow was very marked. I consulted with Sir Edmund Monson, our Ambassador, who desired that special and official services should be held in the Embassy Church at the time of the funeral in England. The following account of what was done in Paris appeared in the “Galignani Messenger” of that date:—
“Rarely, if ever before, has the little church in the Rue d’Aguesseau held a more august assembly than it did yesterday morning, and the service, in its grandeur and simplicity, was in every way suited to the solemn occasion. It consisted of a few prayers; Psalms xc. and cxxx.; the favourite hymns of the late Queen: ‘Hark, hark my soul!’ ‘Lead, kindly light,’ and an anthem, ‘All ye who weep,’ with Gounod’s music. No address was given, but the two final prayers—one in memory of the late Queen, the other invoking the Almighty’s blessing on the new King—were specially written for the occasion, and went home to the hearts of all present. The Rev. Dr. Noyes conducted the service, assisted by several other clergymen resident in Paris, and the choir, consisting of about fifty voices, was heard to great advantage.
“The church was sumptuously decorated in black drapery and silver, but, possibly, the effect would have been more impressive if the large monograms V.I.R., in bright yellow, and the Royal Arms in colours, had not figured so prominently.
“Lady Monson was early in attendance, and Sir Michael Herbert, assisted by Mr. Austin Lee, Commercial Attaché, and Mr. Colville Barclay received the numerous and influential congregation.
“Mme. Loubet, accompanied by Mmes. Dubois and Combarieu, was amongst the early arrivals, Colonel Nicholas in attendance. The President was represented by M. Combarieu.
“Mme. Loubet, upon her arrival, was conducted to a seat near the choir, by the side of Lady Monson.
“One side of the church was reserved to the Diplomatic corps, every member of which was present, save, of course, the Papal Nuncio, and the Russian Ambassador, who was unwell, and was represented by his First Secretary. On the other, all the members of the present Cabinet, who without exception were present in person, including M. Waldeck-Rousseau, President of the Council, MM. Dupuy, Delcassé, Pierre Baudin, General André, etc., also M. Paul Deschanel, President of the Chamber of Deputies; M. Fallières, President of the Senate; the Military Governor of Paris, the Prefect of the Seine, and a great number of Deputies, MM. Hanotaux, Le Myre de Viliers, R. Bompard, etc.
“The lower gallery at the back of the church was reserved for representatives of Royalty: Prince Roland Bonaparte, Princesse Mathilde, Princesse Marie of Mecklenburg, and the Baron Machiba, representing the Countess d’Eu.
“Amongst other notabilities present were: Baronne Faverot de Kebrech (Née Seymour), Marquis de Lau, Marquise de Peralt, Comte de Vettre, Comte de Ganay, Baron Edouard de Rothschild, Baronne Decases Stackelberg, Comte and Comtesse Jean de Castellane, Vicomte Léon de Janze, Mr. John K. Gowdy (American Consul), MM. Crozier (Chef du Protocol) and Mollard, Marquis d’Harcourt, MM. Picard and F. Arago, Comte Greffulhe, Comte de Clermont-Tonnerre, and M. and Mme. Benjamin Constant.
“The English Colony was represented by: Sir Edward and Lady Sassoon, Colonel Mapleson, Mr. Henry Blount, Mr. (now Sir) T. Barclay (President of the Chamber of Commerce), Mr. T. Hounsfield (Vice-President), Messrs. Inglis (Consul,) J. (now Sir John) Pilter, W. C. Robertson, P. Lammin and Mrs. Lammin, Messrs. Spearman, Ablett, and C. E. Lord, Captain Churchward, and Messrs. Brigstocke and A. Coleman.
“At the close the organ pealed forth the well-known Dead March in ‘Saul,’ the effect of which was marred by the departing congregation, who, after the French fashion, shook hands with Sir Michael Herbert and the other attachés to the Embassy, who stood in a row near the porch.
“The afternoon service was of an equally simple character, in fact it was like the one held in the morning. But instead of officials clad in their showy uniforms, it was composed of the English and American Colonies—those who felt that they had lost one who was very dear to them. The service seemed far more solemn than that of the morning, and handkerchiefs and tears were by no means scarce. The Rev. Dr. Noyes again conducted the service, and as the deep-toned sounds of the organ rolled out the Dead March, the faces of many of those present showed that, as the laureate has so beautifully expressed it, ‘She is dead; and the World is widowed.’”
The same evening I received the following letter from the Hon. Michael Herbert (now, alas, no more):—
“British Embassy, “Saturday Evening.
“Dear Dr. Noyes,—
“Before the end of this memorable day I must write you a line to express my appreciation and that of the Embassy of the manner in which the two services in the Rue d’Aguesseau Church were conducted to-day. The music was excellent, and both services seemed to me worthy of this sad and solemn occasion.
“I fear many people were unable to find places at the afternoon services, but I trust they will be able to secure room to-morrow.
“Yours very sincerely,
“M. H. HERBERT.”
The late Hon. M. Herbert was first Secretary of the Embassy, highly respected, and one who took a keen interest in all that concerned the British Colony. The services were continued on the following day. Sir Edmund Monson, our Ambassador in Paris, was not present at the services, owing to the fact that he had been summoned to London to attend the funeral service. Services were also held in the Roman Catholic Church for English members of that Communion, in the Russian Church, and in several other places of worship. Indeed, an atmosphere of sadness seemed to rest over the whole city. All the English houses of business were closed, many exhibiting draped flags. Groups of people would stand under these flags conversing in an undertone, and many were the kind remarks by the passing crowds. I heard one say, “She was a good mother to all her people.” I may mention that I asked the Rev. P. Beaton and Rev. J. Milne, Presbyterian clergy in Paris, to take part in the official service, and each read a lesson.
In 1902, the English Colony in Paris were looking forward with the greatest interest to the all-important event fixed for the 26th of June, the Coronation of His Majesty King Edward VII. It had been decided that a service should be held and a fête given to all the British working classes and poor resident in Paris, and extensive preparations were made. Then on June 24th came the startling news that the King was ill, and the Coronation ceremony had been postponed. The first intimation we had was a telegram which was posted at the Bourse. The excitement was intense, and the sorrow and anxiety in the British Colony seemed intensified from the fact that we were residents abroad and far from the centre of interest—the Palace where the King lay. As soon as I heard of the telegram I called at the Embassy, and found that the news was only too true, and that all had been postponed. As is well known, instead of the Coronation Service in Westminster Abbey, an Intercession Service was held in St. Paul’s Cathedral. We decided that a corresponding service should be held in Paris, and I shall not soon forget the solemnity of that hour. The church was well filled, all the staff of the British Embassy being present. We all sang the National Anthem kneeling, and never, I believe, was prayer more earnest that God would spare our beloved King. During those anxious days every item of news was eagerly sought, and great was the relief when we heard that the operation by Sir Frederick Treves had been successful, and that our prayers had been answered in the safety and then recovery of His Majesty. There was at that time no “Entente Cordiale,” but the sympathy and anxiety of the French people was very manifest. News was published hour by hour, and in the evenings, on the Boulevards, the latest bulletins were given in immense letters, shown by electric light from the office of the “Echo de Paris.” The month of August—when happily the Coronation could take place—is the holiday month in Paris, and the city is supposed to be empty. As a matter of fact almost the whole of the British Colony is then away. In view of this it was decided to postpone the fêtes until the close of this memorable year. We held, however, special services in the church, when I took occasion to comment upon the Coronation Service, and to explain parts of this solemn religious ceremony. The fêtes came off in December, and were a great success.
In 1903 we had a visit of Members of the British Parliament to Paris. As they were staying over a Sunday, and many ladies—wives and daughters of Members—were in the party, I wrote to the Secretary proposing that a special service should be held. Sir E. Monson very kindly fell in with the suggestion, and arranged for the service at three p.m., with a reception at the Embassy, a few yards away, to follow the service. About three hundred persons were present. I preached from the text: “Render therefore unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar’s, and unto God the things which are God’s.” I never had a more attentive congregation. Many of the Members at the subsequent reception were kind enough to express to me their appreciation of the service.
Later we had an official visit from the London County Council, which left very pleasant memories; and in 1906 the City Fathers came over, headed by Sir Walter Vaughan-Morgan, for whom also I held a special service. I have given some details of this visit in another chapter.
THE ENGLISHMAN ABROAD. PECULIAR CALLS UPON A CONTINENTAL CHAPLAIN.
More frequently than at home, the calls upon a chaplain abroad are various and sometimes peculiar. This applies especially to Paris, which, being comparatively near home and easy of access, is largely patronized by holiday makers, and has besides a considerable resident British Colony. There are about 12,000 English (according to the last census) resident or travelling. I was sixteen-and-a-half years in Paris, during which period my experiences have been somewhat varied. It is proposed in this article to give some extracts from letters received at different times and requests made, which illustrate the fact that a chaplain abroad is often expected to know some things besides those connected with his calling.
[Illustration: PLACE DE LA CONCORDE.]
A lady writes:
“I am an invalid now in F⸺, and desire to come to Paris, and would be obliged if you would take rooms for me. Would you please see that the mattress in my bedroom is made of hair, and not wool, as I cannot sleep on the latter.”
My wife kindly arranged for this good lady.
Another lady writes:
“Some time since I purchased some Panama Bonds, and am receiving no dividend. Would you please make enquiries about them and let me know if they are of any value, and if I can sell them.”
I obtained and sent her the information she required.
A gentleman writes:
“A relative of mine (giving the name) died in Paris about the year 18—, and was I think buried in Père-la-Chaise. Could you find out if this were so, and whereabouts the grave is.”
Those who know Père-la-Chaise and other cemeteries of Paris will realize what a difficult task was here given to the chaplain. The grave, however, was found.
A lady came to the Vestry one morning and asked to see me. She told me she was leaving Paris, and had a pet monkey which she did not wish to take with her, and would I find it a home. I was glad to be able to arrange this for her.
A clergyman writes:
“I hope to bring a party of twelve to fifteen artisans over to Paris.… We leave England on the evening of ⸺, and arrive in Paris on Saturday. I do not know Paris, and venture to write to you to ask if you will be so good as to secure rooms for us, as cheaply as you can, and if you will just tell us where to go.” This request was granted.
On passing to the pulpit one Sunday a paper was handed to me by one of the congregation. It was to ask me to say from the pulpit that the applicant desired a wife about 25 to 30 years of age—domesticated, etc. He added that he was prepared to take the one I recommended, and that he had means to support her. I need hardly say the notice was not given.
A lady writes:
“Kindly excuse my asking your help in a little matter. Can you kindly give me the names and addresses of anyone who would act as my agent and try to sell a little ‘scissors sharpener,’ which I have lately brought out. I have patented it in France, etc., etc.” I was sorry not to be able to find anyone who would undertake the commission.
A Colonial clergyman wrote:
“I make a great hobby of optics and lenses. I have a large collection of optical instruments, etc., of French make. Now I find there is a most unreasonable prejudice against French glasses. I believe this prejudice could be removed if I could get a few catalogues of reliable French firms. Could you get me some and send them out, etc.” I was glad to comply with this request.
There were various “scares” of a revolution during my sojourn in Paris, and one was frequently called upon to calm the fears of the timid. The following extract is an illustration.
A well-known gentleman wrote:
“A lady with whom we were dining last night is much alarmed, and has frightened my wife about an impending revolution arranged for May 1st in Paris. She said she had heard that a Royalist Prince was hidden in Paris prepared to seize the reins of Government backed by the aristocracy, and that arms, bombs, and munitions are available. She also said that she had it on good authority that at our Embassy the prospects of a row were considered serious. She asked me to take her and my wife out of Paris till the date should be passed.… I should like to know what is your opinion, and also whether you propose doing anything for your own family.” I gave him my opinion, and nothing happened, except that Paris was quieter than usual.
The following request was more difficult. A lady writes:
“Having seen in the London papers that Paris has a working scheme for the improved feeding of babies, I am anxious to learn more about it. As you so kindly offer to help visitors in various ways, I thought perhaps I might venture to ask you for the necessary information, etc., etc.”
The request evidently referred to the system of “couveuses” by which prematurely born children were saved, a system which has proved generally successful.
I referred her to the public exhibitions of these “incubators,” which were being held in the Boulevards at that time.
Another request was as follows:
“I am in a difficulty. Can you tell me where there are any Poultry Farms in France. Also could you find out for me if the Editor of ⸺ got six francs 25 c. which I sent him through the postman.… Can you tell me would it be possible for me to get a post in connection with poultry farming in France, or in a gentleman’s family.… I am domesticated, and can make good jams, marmalade, and cakes. What papers (French) do you advise me to advertise in. I know nothing of French customs and hardly anything of the language.”
These are extracts from a long and rather rambling letter, which I was unable to answer to the writer’s satisfaction.
The following letter relates to the subject of marriage, and is one of many I received on the same question:
“Dear Sir,—I have been asked by a French lady … whether an Earl or Duke, or any titled man may legally marry under the simple family name. For instance, if a Duke of Z⸺, wishing to conceal his identity, could marry as Mr. X⸺, or whatever his family name might be. Also could he elope with a young lady and marry her in some out of the way village at once, or must they both reside there for a certain length of time, and have the Banns called three times. This is a lot of rubbish to bother you with, but if you will be good enough to give me this information it would certainly oblige my friend.”
To this I replied giving both the French and English regulations as to marriage, and I heard no more of the case. I am sorry to say that during my chaplaincy there were several sad cases of desertion after mixed marriages (French and English); but these will be more easily dealt with under “The difficulties of English people abroad.”
The calls of anxious parents to meet girls coming abroad to situations, and to look after them, and requests to find French families where young men and maidens could be placed for education in the language, and enquiries as to schools, pensions, and hotels, were a pleasant though constant part of every day’s work. A list of reliable abodes was kept, and one had the satisfaction of being able to be of real service in this way to hundreds of one’s fellow countrymen, who without good advice too often get into difficulties.
One rather frequent call upon the services of the chaplain, in the earlier part of my work in Paris, is happily no longer necessary. We frequently got urgent letters and telegrams from India to look after people who had been bitten by snakes, dogs, a jackal, etc., and were hastening to France to put themselves under the Pasteur treatment; and with some the experiences were very painful, as they arrived too late for the cure to be successful.
Now happily our Government has provided a similar institution in India, so that those who need it can be immediately attended to. This splendid institution in Paris is, however, well worth the attention of visitors.
There were occasionally English people in Paris suffering from mental disease—not sufficiently insane to be placed under control, but yet ill enough to cause considerable trouble.
Upon one occasion a man came to me and gave me a sealed packet, telling me it contained a most important document, and it was not to be opened unless I heard of his death.
His manner made me think it might be of real importance, and he did not strike me as insane. Some years after I heard of his death, and opened the packet, and found it contained only torn pieces of paper with no writing upon them.
One poor lady who lived in Paris during the whole of my stay there, frequently wrote me letters—literally yards long—some of them must have taken her many hours to write. Yet on many points she was sane enough, and was engaged for years in teaching English to the French, both privately and in classes.
I had not been long in Paris before I was asked through the secretary of the “Société de Steeplechase” to join a syndicate for the purpose of adjudicating upon any question that might arise connected with the riders. I was supposed to represent the English jockeys, being the only Englishman on the board. I accepted the position, as it was represented that I might often be of some service to my fellow countrymen, although I knew nothing of the race-course. I regularly received, up to the date of my departure from Paris, tickets for the reserved enclosure. Sometimes friends visiting me appeared shocked at seeing these in my study, until I explained the reason. A copy of the card, which may be interesting, appears on the next page.
The syndicate met very rarely, and I never had any serious case upon which to pass judgment.
A peculiar call was made upon me one day. I was passing the Arc de Triomphe when a gusty wind removed several hats. In front of me was a nursemaid wheeling a perambulator. The wind took her hat, and all her hair, which fell at my feet. It was an embarrassing moment, but I fulfilled my duty, and handed it all to the blushing maiden.
[Illustration: THE OBVERSE AND REVERSE SIDES OF THE TICKET REFERRED TO ON THE PREVIOUS PAGE.]
EDUCATION IN FRANCE.
I was often asked by anxious parents as to the facilities for education in France, indeed it was part of one’s daily work answering enquiries on the subject. It may not be out of place to give here the result of my experience. For English boys there are very few schools carried on as our public schools are in England. For parents living abroad, the best plan is to send their young boys to French “cours” or classes, of which there are many, where they will readily pick up the language, and then to send them over to England for further education. The instruction given in French schools is not of the character or sufficient for those who intend to enter professional life in England. When it is not convenient to send boys to England, I would strongly advise parents to see the school carried on by my friend, Mr. E. P. Denny, M.A. (Oxon.), at 55 Boulevard Suchet. He has been very successful, and parents may safely entrust their sons to his care. For older boys and young men entering the army or navy it is better to select one of the many French families where young men are received to learn the language. The resident chaplain can always supply a list of thoroughly reliable homes. For mercantile life some of the Lycées are very good. I may especially mention the Lycée Lakanal, at Bourg la Reine, a short distance by rail or tram from Paris, where many English boys have been received, and where every care is taken as to moral training. I was appointed by the French Government as Religious Instructor for the English boys there, and occupied the position for some years, so that I had every opportunity of knowing the merits of the school.
The advantages for English girls in Paris are very great. There are a number of excellent schools, as well managed as any of our schools at home. It is not usual to receive very young girls or day boarders in the best schools. For the most part they are finishing schools, and the girls do not usually stay more than one year. I need hardly say anything to commend the old-established school founded by Madame Yeatman in the Boulevard Victor Hugo, Neuilly. Her name is well known in England and America, and other parts of the world. Some eight to nine hundred young ladies passed through this school during my sojourn in Paris, and the classes I held there will always be a pleasant memory. Madame Yeatman is now enjoying a well-earned rest, although she continues to take the kindliest interest in the school, and her charming house with access to it enables her to pay frequent visits. Madame Yeatman displayed her knowledge of character in the choice of Miss Easton to carry on the work, a lady eminently suited to the position, who has already attained to a well-merited success. An interesting gathering of old pupils is held every year at the Grand Hotel in London, known as the “Yeatmanite tea.”
Another school which I can speak of in equally commendatory words is that carried on at “The Maronneries,” Auteuil, by Mlles. Hogg and Guyomard. This is quite an up-to-date establishment, and has largely increased of late years. Two houses standing in extensive gardens, and a large field for recreation, make one feel quite in the country. Nothing can exceed the kindness and care of the principals—the teaching is excellent, and many of the pupils have gained high distinction in French examinations. These two schools occupy the galleries in the Embassy Church every Sunday morning, forming an important part of the congregation. I always felt the responsibility of speaking to so many young people, who would so soon occupy important positions in English life.
Besides these two large schools there are several excellent smaller ones where equal advantages may be obtained. Some of them take a certain number of French girls, who take their lessons with the English—an arrangement for and against which something may be said. The more important of these, and all of which I knew well, and can speak of in the highest terms, are Mlle. Lacarrère, Rue St. James, Neuilly; Mlle. Bourré, Auteuil; Madame d’Almaine, Passy; Madame Morel de Fos, Bolougne-sur-Seine; Mlles. Expulson and Metherell, Auteuil. The Marquise de San Carlos has a successful school at Bornel, about two hours from Paris, which is a delightful country home for girls, for whom it may be well to add a country life to the advantages of education. There are other schools, French and partly French and English, which I do not mention, not because of any reason against them, but only that I was not brought into contact with them in the way that I was with the above.
Sometimes parents have written to me asking if it was safe to send English girls to France at all, and many have sent their daughters in fear and trembling. My answer was that if parents would only be careful in the choice of a school, and consult those on the spot, who had no object to serve but to give the best advice they could to enquirers, no harm would result. Schools in Paris cannot be carried on cheaply—the necessaries of life are all taxed, and consequently living is dearer than in the country in England. Many mistakes have been made from choosing a school where the fees were a few pounds less than others. Those who cannot afford a good school had better keep their daughters at home. Convents have been a temptation to some owing to cheapness, and I would warn parents who are anxious (as all should be) about the religious education of their children that they should avoid these establishments for their daughters. The food is often insufficient for English girls, who find it hard to work on the “petit déjeûner” up to midday, and I have known many become anæmic from this cause. But this is not the only difficulty. While the promise is frequently made that there shall be no interference with the religious belief of the pupil, it is rarely kept. Parents should remember that it is after all the business of a convent to propagate the religion of the Church of Rome, and if parents, for the sake of cheapness, allow their children to go, they must not be surprised at the consequences. I had several most painful cases while in Paris where the parent was inclined to blame the chaplain for what had happened—whereas his advice had not been asked in the first instance. I do not as a rule recommend French families for girls. There are some most excellent homes (French pastors and others) where every care is taken. But I have known others where there was culpable laxity. English girls cannot go out alone in Paris as they do in England, it would not be safe, and in some families it is not easy to find a chaperon, and mischief follows. In seeking a family for an English girl, it is well to ask if there are any daughters about the age of the pupil, as if so the above difficulty is lessened.
One further point about learning French. It is important for both sexes that they should (if beginners) learn colloquial French from one who speaks some English—at least sufficient to explain the meaning of words. I have known some ludicrous mistakes arise from this cause.
On the whole I recommend Paris rather than the country parts of France for the education of young people; it is the centre for music and art in all its branches, and the best professors congregate there. Moreover, in case of illness or difficulty of any kind, it is better not to be too far from home, or an English doctor, and may I say, an English clergyman.
The children of the working classes in Paris are well provided for in the British schools, where they receive a good sound elementary education, both in French and English. The children trained in these schools do remarkably well, as they are taught shorthand and typewriting in both languages, and are thus able to take positions in French commercial houses, and earn good salaries. There are often more applications for boys than can be met. The schools are managed by a committee of which Sir Henry Austin Lee, C.B., is the chairman, who takes the warmest interest in their welfare. A small fee is collected from those able to pay, and the very poor are paid for by the British Charitable Fund.
DIFFICULTIES OF ENGLISH PEOPLE ABROAD.
It was part of my duty during a chaplaincy of sixteen years in Paris to help our fellow country people, who from one cause or another got into difficulty.
Sometimes it was their own fault, and similar conduct would have brought a like result at home. But often these difficulties arose from ignorance of the language, and from an extraordinary disregard of French law. Too often the Englishman not only expects his own language to be spoken, but also the laws of his own country to prevail in a foreign land.
Not long after I commenced work in Paris I received the following telegram, addressed to
“Le Pasteur Eglise Protestante.—Please come as soon as possible to the Depot—Préfecture de Police—to a member of your congregation who seeks your help at once.”
I lost no time in going down, and found that the writer—an English governess—had, in a moment of temptation, stolen a pair of gloves at the Magasin du Louvre. I believe it was a first offence. I did all I could to console her, but was unable to get her off, and she had to undergo a term of six days’ imprisonment. I regret to say that this instance of “Kleptomania” was by no means singular. The system at the larger shops in Paris lends itself to pilfering by the dishonest, as the goods are displayed in such a way that it seems easy to steal. The manager of the Louvre shop told me that they had on an average twelve arrests a day. It is not generally known that a large number of detectives are always employed, who are continually on the watch. There was one sad case of a lady who had come to Paris to place her daughter in a school, and who had ample means, and yet took some gloves from the same establishment. With considerable difficulty she was released upon the payment of 600 francs (£24), a good price for a pair of gloves. One other case in which I was successful in obtaining the release of a woman who was, I believe, innocent, but in a moment of thoughtlessness, put over her arm a covering for a child’s bed. I had known her for a long time; she was the mother of a large family, all well brought up. She assured me she had intended to pay for it, but no attendant being near she went to another part of the shop with the article in question, when she was arrested, and invited to appear in court to answer to the charge. I wrote to the Judge and told him what I knew about her, and he kindly gave her the benefit of the doubt. Her husband (a waiter) was away in Germany, and had she been imprisoned it would have been the ruin of her family.
By the kindness of the late Earl of Lytton, I obtained a pass enabling me to visit any of the prisons in Paris, where English people might be confined. Many of the cases were very sad, and especially where the prisoners could not speak French, as this added to the misery of their lot. I recall one case, which interested me much. It was that of a young man who had come to visit Paris, and like so many others, had been led where he soon got into difficulty.
He came with a considerable sum of money and went one evening to the “Moulin Rouge”—which at that time was of questionable repute. (It is said to be under better management now.)
He was relieved of his purse, which contained a 1,000 franc note, beside some coins. He had left only a 100 franc note in his hotel, and went the next morning to the bank to get it changed—very much irritated, as he said, with the French for having stolen his money! At the bank he saw a French gentleman counting some notes, and he snatched a number of them and ran away. He was soon arrested and was sent to prison for some years. He assured me it was his first offence, and that he had no intention of stealing when he went to the bank.
On another occasion I unwittingly broke the prison rules. An aged Englishman had been imprisoned for picking pockets on the race course. He said his wife did not know what had happened, and begged me to give him something to buy paper and stamps. I gave him a franc, but as I was leaving the prison an official came up and handed me the franc, telling me I had broken the rule. They had been watching me while I was locked in the cell, and made the poor man give up the money.
Ignorance of the language was frequently the cause of difficulty. One morning a nurse came to the vestry in the Rue d’Aguesseau, and when I enquired her business, said, “Why, I am lost, and have been walking the streets all night.” She then told me she arrived at the Gare St. Lazare the previous evening, and was driven by the cabman to an address near, which she had now forgotten. She went out to post a letter, and must have taken a wrong turning, and so was soon lost. She walked about all night, and had only just found an English-speaking person, who had directed her to the Church. I gathered from her description where the Home was, and sent her up with my Vestry Clerk.
On another occasion a girl was brought to me in great distress. She told me she had started from England on the previous day to visit a French friend of her mother’s. She had the address written on a piece of paper, which she was instructed to give to the cabman, as she did not speak French.
She travelled by the night boat to Calais. When she arrived at the Gare du Nord, she could not find the paper, and, staying to look among her parcels, the English travellers all left. She got out of the train and did not know what to do; she spoke to a porter who did not understand her, and eventually left the station. This was about 7 a.m. She walked about the streets until late in the afternoon, when she was heard near the Madeleine trying to explain to a policeman. The Englishman who heard her brought her to me, and I sent her back the next day to England, as I failed to discover her friend’s name in any directory.
On another occasion I received a telegram from a lady in Ireland asking me to meet her daughter that evening at the Gare St. Lazare, who was going to a situation as governess, which she had obtained through an advertisement. I met the girl, and took her to the address she gave. It was a small wine shop, and altogether unsuited to her, and would, I fear, have been a very dangerous position.
I persuaded her to go to the excellent G.F.S. Lodge, where she was most kindly received, and eventually a good position was found for her.
The above are illustrations of many like cases which were brought before me.
More serious cases are illustrated by the following telegram:
“Please remove Miss X⸺ from 14 rue ⸺ at once; very urgent, letter follows.”⸺
These requests often involved considerable time and trouble, and the laying aside for the time of all other work.
One morning I received a request from the manager of one of the leading hotels to call as soon as possible. I went down and was told that an English girl had been left there by a “gentleman,” and was in great distress.
I found that she had left her home two or three days previously on the promise of marriage, and was now left without means, and was afraid to communicate with her parents.
I placed her in a room in a smaller hotel, and in the meantime wrote to the father. However, before he received my letter he had started for Paris, having heard his daughter was there, and came to see me in great anxiety about his child. His relief and astonishment were remarkable when I told him I knew the whereabouts of his daughter. A reconciliation was effected, and the girl was taken home.
One of the most remarkable illustrations of the difficulties English people sometimes get into abroad is the following:
Early one morning (6 a.m.) I was sent for to visit two young ladies in a small hotel, who were said to have become insane.
I went down and found one of the sisters on the ground floor holding the door leading to the staircase, and not allowing anyone to pass. She would answer no question, nor permit me to pass to see her sister. With some difficulty I obtained access to the room where the sister was, by another way, but found her in a like state, and unwilling to answer any question, or to give the address of any relative. The difficulty was that the proprietor of the hotel wished to have them removed at once to an asylum, which I felt would only aggravate the malady from which they suffered. I called in an English doctor (since passed away) who most kindly helped, and forbade the proprietor to have them removed. By searching amongst the papers in their room I discovered an address in London, and telegraphed for their relatives to come at once. My wife and I had a trying experience all that night—we sat up with the girls, one of whom had to be fastened to the bed, having become violent. She was shouting all night, and gave a great deal of trouble.
The relatives arrived the next morning, and the necessary steps were taken for their removal. It turned out that these young ladies had been dabbling in hypnotism, and had spent the greater part of the day previous to their illness with some “professor.” One died and the other only recovered after a long illness.
[Illustration: BRITISH CONSUL-GENERAL.]
We frequently had to help English artists connected with circuses, shows, etc., who got stranded in France. One morning a smart-looking person called at the house and told me she had a number of performing dogs held at the Gare de Lyon because of some payment demanded, which she could not meet. If she could not get the dogs she would be ruined. By the kind help of the British Charitable Fund I was able to get the dogs set free. On another occasion, when I went down to service, I found in the Church some fifty ballet girls waiting to see me. They had been brought over to play in an exhibition in Paris, but the proprietor having failed, the light was cut off and the place closed. They had no means to get back to England. By the kindness of the British Consul, and again by the help of the British Charitable Fund, these girls were all sent back, and very grateful they were. Not knowing the language they were indeed “strangers in a strange land.” Whenever companies of English girls came over to perform in theatre or music hall, I tried to get opportunities to address them; but it was not an easy part of one’s duty.
Difficulties owing to mixed marriages frequently arose. It cannot be too often explained that there is no difficulty in two English people being married abroad, providing there is no impediment such as would prevent the marriage at home. Civil marriage at the British Consulate should first take place, and the religious ceremony can follow. But in the case of mixed marriages it is absolutely necessary that the contracting parties should satisfy French law, and first be civilly married at the Mairie. A marriage (French and English) in England is not valid in France unless the French Consul in England has first performed the civil rite. Much distress has been caused by not obeying the law. I will give but one instance, though I might give many. It is an important one, as questions were asked in the House of Commons about it, and a statement as to the law sent broadcast to the Clergy of England. The case is this:
Madame X⸺, an English woman, came to live in Paris. She was a widow with children. She obtained, through my instrumentality, a position as secretary. After a time her employer proposed marriage. He told her, however, that his parents would not give their consent (which in France is a bar to marriage), and proposed that they should go to England, and be married in Church. They went, and after complying with the law as to residence, were married in London. When they returned to Paris the husband refused to let his wife live in his house, but told her to remain in her own flat. When she pressed him on the subject his only reply was, “I suppose you know that the English marriage is not valid in France.”
She came to see me broken-hearted. I did all I could for her, but it was useless. The husband only laughed at me. The case was put into the hand of a solicitor, and brought before the French courts, but the judgment was given against the wife. The Judge told her she ought to have been more careful to ascertain the law. Thus she is legally married in England, but not in France, while her husband is free to marry whom he may choose without hindrance.
If, however, he came to England, he would be legally married to the woman he now repudiates. I have stated this case in full as it may be a warning to others, though much more care is now taken than was formerly the case. I laid the whole case before the late Bishop of London (Dr. Creighton) who wrote:
“The case you bring before me is a very sad one, but I do not see what can be done either to obtain redress or to prevent such cases occurring in the future. Marriage is a contract regulated by law; if anyone marries a foreigner they ought to take legal advice about the necessary steps to legalize their marriage. I do not see who is to protect them except themselves. Our Government cannot ask the French Government to recognize as binding in France all marriages solemnized in England. This would open a door to evasion of the French law. The difficulty in these cases arises from the belief that marriage is a purely ecclesiastical matter, and that ecclesiastical procedure is universally recognized. Really marriage is a civil contract which in England the clergy are authorised to perform by the State. To this in their ecclesiastical capacity they add a religious service. People have mixed these two together in their own minds with disastrous results.”
The extraordinary tangles into which English people sometimes get from ignorance—wilful or otherwise—of the marriage law, is illustrated by the following remarkable case which came under my notice. A French working man living in London married an English woman in his Parish Church. He could not legalise the marriage at the French Consulate because he had not the consent of his parents. This consent is generally necessary for any legal marriage of French people, whatever their age may be. One can easily see the reason for this requirement when the law of inheritance is taken into consideration.
No French father can “cut his son off with a shilling,” as in England. They must leave their money to their children, and the younger benefit equally with the elder. This is the reason the realization of property must take place on the death of anyone. It is, however, generally arranged in the family, and does not necessarily come before the public. The couple of our story did not possess any property, being working people. The husband had lived in England from childhood, and consequently had not done his military service. When the question arose as to the legality of his marriage, he promised he would not return to France. While living in England the marriage was, of course, perfectly in order, but the day came when the husband wished to go back to his own country, and he went to Paris with his wife and two children. Needless to say, the man was at once arrested for his military service. It is extraordinary to English minds to see how quickly the arrival of any man in France who is liable for military service is noted by the Government officials, and he receives a summons to join his regiment at once.
While serving three years (or two as it is now) in the army, a soldier is not allowed to marry, and so X’s wife was without a legal husband, and any means of subsistence. She took her two children and went to live with her father and mother-in-law, who became very fond of her and the grandchildren. We helped her for a time with money and work, and I expect she provided her English made husband with the pocket money for tobacco, etc., so much needed by the French soldier. Towards the end of the three years, preparations were made to legalize the marriage in France, the parents giving their consent willingly. When, however, the time came, and it only remained to give notice at the Mairie of the intended marriage, X refused to re-marry his wife, and so legalize her claim to the title in France. It was found that he had taken up with another woman better looking than his wife, who had no claim to beauty, and whose hard work to support the children during this time had rendered less attractive. X’s father and mother were furious with him and offered to adopt the children. Matters were in this condition, when another misfortune fell upon this poor woman. She took smallpox. The hospital for this terrible disease is one of the worst managed in Paris, and the hardships of the unfortunate patients are often very great. When the poor soul came out she returned to the only home she had—the tiny flat of her father-in-law—and was equal to very little work. The grandparents had cared for the children, but they were also poor, and found it difficult to make ends meet. We were almost in despair as to how to help her, as it was a large order to undertake the whole family. The solution of the whole matter would hardly be imagined by one brought up in England. Mrs. X. one day came to me at the vestry in the Rue d’Aguesseau, and said she was going to marry a Frenchman, who was not only willing to support her and the children, but would adopt and legalize them as his own. This can be done in France, and the real father has then no claim to them whatever. I spoke to her very seriously, and told her that her lawful husband being alive, she would be committing bigamy, and that I could have nothing whatever to do with such an arrangement. I pointed out to her that she would be the legal wife of one man in England and another in France; that in England she would be the lawful wife of the first man, while English law would not only refuse to recognise this second so-called marriage, but could prosecute her for bigamy.
Nothing I could say had any effect upon her, the only thing she would say was “I will never go back to England.”
She has now gone through the French “marriage” at the Mairie, and is happy. It solved our difficulty as to the support of herself and children, but the complication in which she has involved herself and the two children is one of the most extraordinary I met with.
Occasionally there were very sad circumstances attending the death of lonely English people in Paris. At the close of the Boer war, an English soldier who had fought in South Africa died in the Beaujon Hospital. We could not discover how he had wandered to Paris, or get from him any information as to relatives.
The only persons present at the grave were myself and the vestry clerk. Just as the body was being lowered into the grave the clerk placed upon the coffin a small British flag.
And here I should like to bear testimony to the devoted work of Mr. Wicker. His father was Vestry Clerk before him for many years—through nearly the whole of the long ministry of Dr. Forbes. When he died I appointed his son. Brought up in Paris and speaking both languages, and thoroughly in earnest in his work, his services are invaluable to the Chaplain.
Another sad case was that of a girl named X⸺, who had run away from home four years before her death with the son of a ship builder, who deserted her two days before her end. The parents had lost sight of her, and were too late to see her alive. The funeral was most distressing. The number of English people “under a cloud” who bury themselves in Paris is not small, and the chaplain has frequently very sad cases with which to deal.
Of late years, since the French have taken so kindly to “afternoon teas,” English people have been tempted to open tea shops, without having carefully considered the difficulty and expense of carrying on a business in a foreign land. Several came to grief during my sojourn in Paris.
One of the saddest cases, which may prove a warning to others who have had similar ideas, is the following:
In the year ⸺ two ladies, daughters of an English clergyman, came to Paris and opened a tea shop. For a time they did fairly well, and their business fell off chiefly owing to a French shop being opened in the neighbourhood. Things got so bad that they suddenly closed the shop and left for England.
On the way, under mental excitement, one of the sisters jumped from the train and was seriously injured. As a report was spread that only one of the sisters had left, I went down with the officials and forced the establishment, expecting to find the other sister dead. The report, however, proved to be false, for both had left. It was a sad ending to a foolish venture.
One Sunday evening as I was returning from Church, I was overheard speaking English, and two young men stopped me. They said that being out of work in England, they had realized their savings and come to Paris, with the idea of selling fruit in the streets. I asked them if they spoke the language, and they said “not a word,” and they were in great difficulty to know what to do, when they heard me speaking English and stopped me. We got them back to England the next day.
It was extraordinary the number of English working people that turned up time after time, with no knowledge of French, expecting to get work, and had to go—or be sent—back, wiser men.
Owing to the great increase in motor cars, the streets of Paris are particularly dangerous for pedestrians, and accidents are of almost daily occurrence. A peculiarly sad case was the following:
Two sisters, working girls (English), lived together in the Rue ⸺. They worked in different establishments, but generally met near the Madeleine after working hours and went home together. On this occasion one sister waited near the trysting place, but her sister did not meet her. She noticed a crowd round a neighbouring chemist’s, but did not enquire what had happened, and went home.
It turned out that it was her sister who had been carried into the pharmacy to die. Standing on the “island of safety” opposite the Madeleine, her dress had been caught by a passing motor, and she had been dragged under it and killed. These two girls were supporting an aged mother in England.
Another fatal accident which gave me a curious experience was that of Madame J⸺, who was run over by a cab and killed. In her pocket was found a paper with my name and address written upon it. She was an Englishwoman, widow of a Frenchman, and used to earn her living by selling lace on commission. After the accident she was taken to the Morgue. At that time this gruesome institution was partly open to the public, and some of the bodies—not identified—were exposed upon slabs behind glass, others were kept in boxes in another part until buried. The authorities sent for me, to see if I could identify the body of this poor woman, which I was able to do—but I shall never forget the horror of the scene. The poor body was in a box without covering, and so disfigured that I had some difficulty in convincing myself that it was the person I expected. I was glad to arrange for her decent burial.
One of the most melancholy of English suicides, of which, alas, there are many, was that of Colonel Hector Macdonald, in March, 1903.
He was staying at the Hotel Regina in the Rue de Rivoli, and apparently after reading the “New York Herald,” in which there was a paragraph stating that grave charges had been made public against him, he shot himself. After the necessary formalities the body was removed to the Embassy Church in the Rue d’Aguesseau before removal to Scotland. Colonel Macdonald was a large man, and there being a double coffin, we were unable to lower the body into the mortuary, and this gave rise to a report that sufficient reverence was not shown—a report which was without any foundation.
Many members of the Scotch colony in Paris visited the Church and placed flowers on the coffin, and someone unknown sent a bunch of heather from Scotland for a like purpose. It was a sad ending to the life of a brave soldier.
BRITISH CHARITIES IN PARIS.
The British poor in Paris form no inconsiderable part of the Colony. This arises largely from the fact that it has been the custom in France to employ Englishmen as coachmen and stablemen, many of whom from one cause or another have fallen into poverty. Others have taken advantage of the small expense and gone to Paris in the hope of obtaining work, which is by no means easy to find. Some years ago many English were employed in various works, but lately it is not so. When first I went to Paris I held in the Montmartre district a weekly service for the families of those employed in the gas works in that neighbourhood, and had an attendance of thirty to forty persons. But this gradually dwindled, until at last there were none left—one after another had been discharged and had taken their families back to England.
In order to meet the need of the impecunious British, several excellent charities have been established in Paris. One of the most important of these is the “British Charitable Fund.” This is a fund which has existed many years in Paris, and it is interesting to know that during the Franco-German war and the Siege of Paris, it still carried on its work, giving out food to those poor English people who had been unable to leave the beleaguered city.
[Illustration: SIR JOHN PILTER.]
In former years it was a most difficult matter to raise sufficient funds to meet the various calls, and there were all sorts of expedients for raising money. Now, happily, the fund is in a healthy condition, owing to a generous legacy by the late Captain Briscoe, and very good work is being done. The fund is managed by a committee, of which His Majesty’s Ambassador is President, and the British Consul-General the Chairman. The executive is an undenominational body, and the members usually attending during my time were: the English Church clergyman, the Roman Catholic priest, and the Scotch clergyman, and one or two laymen—Sir John Pilter being a most regular and valued member. Sir John Pilter is one of the best known members of the English Colony, and is always forward in every good work both with means and personal effort. The secretary, Mr. Reginald Gesling, is a well-known figure in the English colony, and an invaluable presence at the weekly board. Being gifted with a remarkable memory for faces, it is hard indeed for the would-be impostor to pass his scrutiny. I have known him recognise a man who had not been before the committee for thirty years.
The weekly meetings of the board, which I attended (with rare exceptions) during my sixteen years in Paris, were full of interest and a curious study of human nature. All sorts and conditions of men came there, with all sorts of stories. We had clergymen and Roman Catholic priests, lawyers, soldiers and sailors, black and white, Boer and Briton, from all parts of the world. Sometimes it was a man sent as far as Paris by the Consul at Marseilles, whom we had to send on. At another, members of an English circus which had failed asked to be sent home. Clowns and ballet girls, in fact “artists” (as they call themselves) of all kinds were frequently before the committee. The Home Government give some assistance towards the repatriation of British people, or this would be a serious drain upon the fund, and, moreover, the Western Railway of France conveys these unfortunate people at a reduced rate. There are often curious scenes at the Gare St. Lazare on Wednesday evenings, when these people are being sent off. There is frequently a reluctance to go at the last minute on the part of those who have long resided in Paris, and all sorts of dodges have been resorted to to avoid the train. I knew of one case where a woman having a ticket to London left the train at Rouen, and in a short time came up smiling before the committee again.
The distribution of charity is ever a difficult matter, and while every care was taken, we were no doubt often imposed upon. We have an excellent lady visitor, Miss Beaton, who spares no time or energy in finding out the merits of each case. Here is a curious instance:
On one occasion a woman came to the committee in widow’s weeds, leading a string of children, and in tears. She said her husband (a printer) was dead and buried. She would not return to England, and asked for help for herself and children. The committee were touched, and made a generous allowance, which went on for some weeks.
One day the Secretary (Mr. Gesling) met the husband (supposed to be dead) in the street. He went up to him and questioned him, and discovered that he knew nothing of his wife’s deception. I believe she is really a widow now, and receives help from the committee.
It was astonishing how many English people lost their purses, either on the journey over or soon after arriving in Paris. Almost every week we had the same story, which, in many if not most cases, was only an excuse either for having given way to drink, or having been in bad company.
The committee is always desirous to get British people who are not doing well to return to their own country, especially the younger people. Old people who have lived most of their life in France and have lost all their relatives cannot well be sent home. The fascination of Paris is, however, so great, that it is often very difficult to persuade even the poorest to leave, and all sorts of excuses are given against leaving. Upon one occasion an old man came to the committee asking for relief. He was asked “How long have you been in France?” He replied “Over twenty years.” “Do you speak French?” “Only a few words, sir.” (This is quite possible. Englishmen working together in a stable will have little need to speak the language.) “Are you in work?” “No, sir.” “Have you any prospect of work?” “I think not.” “Will you return home?” A decided “No, sir.” He was then asked a number of questions in the endeavour to discover his reasons for wishing to stay, as he was getting old, was unmarried, and had no relatives in France. At length, with some reluctance, he said, “Well, sir, its the wine. We can’t get the claret in England.” And nothing would persuade him to return. He is probably still there, ekeing out a miserable existence. I am glad to hear that the committee are about to purchase or build more suitable premises in which to carry on this important work. This is a real necessity, as the present rooms are too small and badly ventilated. Visitors are always welcome on Wednesday afternoons when the committee meets, and the study of human nature at these gatherings is most interesting. There are usually between 90 and 120 applications for relief each week.
Next in importance to the British Charitable Fund is the “Hertford British Hospital.” This was the noble gift to the Colony of the late Sir Richard Wallace, Bart., and was partly the outcome of the Franco-German war, and the Commune in 1870-1871. This philanthropic nobleman opened a hospital in the Rue d’Aguesseau for the reception of wounded, and in January, 1871, added two wards for the “Sick British Poor,” and also a dispensary. At the end of the year only one soldier remained under treatment, and upon his discharge it was closed. A few weeks subsequently Sir Richard Wallace communicated to his friends his intention to found and endow a hospital in Paris for poor British subjects, to be called the “Hertford British Hospital,” in memory of the late Marquis of Hertford. The foundation stone of the present building was laid by Sir Richard and Lady Wallace in August, 1877, and opened at a visit of the late Lord Lyons in 1879. The hospital was visited in June, 1879, by their Majesties King Edward VII. and Queen Alexandra (then Prince and Princess of Wales), who named the principal wards “Albert Edward” and “Alexandra.” In 1900 Lady Wallace made over the hospital by deed to the British Government, who appointed the present management. This hospital is especially fortunate in having an endowment sufficient for its requirements, so that the management have no need to apply for subscriptions. The hospital contains 40 beds and cots, and has an average number of 350 in-patients, and some 2,000 out-patients.
[Illustration: HERTFORD BRITISH HOSPITAL.]
It can hardly be realized, except by those resident abroad, what a boon an English hospital, with English doctors and nurses, is to the British poor.
One cannot speak too highly of the kindness of the French hospitals in receiving English people for treatment, and I received many testimonies from grateful patients of the benefits obtained. I frequently, however, heard the poor say: “When one is ill, it is such a blessing to be able to talk your own language to those about you,” or “I am afraid they did not treat me properly because I could not explain to them the symptoms,” and such sayings illustrate what I am sure all feel, viz.: that it is very difficult in illness to explain as one would wish to one who is a stranger to our language. So that the English hospital for this reason (and it is only one of many) is a real boon to the British poor in Paris. You no sooner pass the iron gate than you feel as if you were in England. The porter speaks to you in your native tongue; the secretary (though a first-rate French scholar) greets you in the same language. The wards are bright, cheerful, and (especially) airy, and all the surroundings are such as we are accustomed to in our own land. The nurses are all English, and most of them have had experience in hospitals at home. All are under the guidance of an experienced matron, chosen from among many applicants for the post. I have known hundreds of the British poor who have been treated there, and they often are in difficulty to find words to express their gratitude. Certainly the works of Sir Richard Wallace do follow him.
If there is any drawback in this splendid institution, it is the lack of a separate building for the treatment of infectious cases; and also of a pay ward. This want necessitates a poor Britisher with consumption, small pox, etc., being taken to a French hospital, which often is not desirable, and sometimes a great hardship. The need of a pay ward is also a real one. It often happens that an English person is taken ill in an hotel where it is difficult to get proper treatment, and where expenses are apt to increase very materially under the circumstances. To some hotels doctors are “attached,” who charge exorbitant fees, and, it is said, divide the proceeds with the proprietor. In such cases it would be the greatest boon if the patients could avail themselves of a British hospital, and they would no doubt willingly pay for the necessary treatment. But notwithstanding these omissions, the Hertford Hospital is doing a splendid work, and is an enduring monument to its generous founder.
Another British charity in Paris is the “Victoria Home for Aged Women,” founded by my predecessor, the Rev. Howard Gill, in the year 1888. He found, as I did subsequently, that there were English women who had been governesses, ladies’ maids, and domestic servants, living in loneliness and poverty, generally at the top of the great houses in Paris, where the rents—and the ceilings—are low. For the most part they had led honourable lives, and were respected and helped by the families where they had worked. But they were old, they had lived most of their lives in France, any friends they had in England were dead and gone, and they had no wish to return to their native land, indeed it would be cruel to compel them to do so. The idea of a home where such could be lodged, free of rent, took shape in the year of the late Queen’s Jubilee in 1887. It was then decided that after the expenses of the Celebration, the fund collected should be applied to the establishment of a Victoria Home for the Aged British Poor. However, the fund collected was not sufficient, so it was eventually decided to apply the interest of it in Victoria pensions, until the necessary amount should be collected. However, Mr. Gill would not allow his scheme to rest, and receiving generous help from a few friends, he started a Home on a small scale. This was inaugurated by the Dowager Lady Lytton in December, 1888, and has proved a real success. The conditions of entry may seem rather “stiff,” but the fact that there has never been a vacant room shows that they need not at present be relaxed. The applicant must be a British subject, over 65 years of age, of good character, and have resided at least 30 years in France. It was one of my most pleasing duties during sixteen years to visit this “Home,” and to act as chairman of the committee. Most of the old ladies had an interesting story to tell, and they never wearied relating their experiences. Those who had been governesses in French families delighted to tell of the young ladies to whom they had taught English, and watched over until they had married. The kindness of some of these ladies to their old teachers and nurses was most touching. The late Sir Condie Stephen, an attaché at the Embassy, took a kind interest in one of these inmates, and regularly sent her a present until the time of her death. All these old ladies had passed through the siege of Paris and the Commune, and had interesting stories to tell of that tragic time. I remember one of them shewed me some of the meal which was served out during the siege—very coarse and dirty, and mixed with particles of wood. The Dowager Lady Lytton and her daughters, and afterwards the Dowager Lady Dufferin and her daughters, the Ladies Blackwood, took the warmest interest in the Home, and were constant visitors. Members of the English and American Colonies constantly go out to see the inmates, foremost amongst whom I must mention Miss Thorndike, one of the oldest American residents in Paris, who frequently gives a tea and presents of warm clothing, which are much appreciated. Formerly we rented a house in the Rue Borghèse, Neuilly, but lately a house has been purchased in the Boulevard de la Saussais, and is now being enlarged and made more suitable as a permanent home for this deserving class. Visitors to Paris will always be welcomed by the excellent matron and her daughter, Mrs. and Miss Ffarmer.
Another institution in Paris which is doing an admirable work is the British Schools. These schools were established in 1832, in order to afford a sound education to English-speaking children of the working classes resident in the city, and to enable them to retain their knowledge of the English language. A small fee is charged to those parents who are in a position to pay, and the fees of the poorer children are paid by the British Charitable Fund. I cannot speak too highly of the good work done in these schools, under the mastership of Mr. R. Smith. The children receive an education in both French and English—a French mistress is always employed. They learn shorthand and typewriting in both languages, and thus are able to obtain good positions in French business houses. Indeed it is often difficult to supply the demand for both boys and girls competent to take such posts. The children are taught patriotic songs, and every endeavour is made to instil into their minds love and loyalty for their own country. This is very necessary, for I found that children of English parents who did not avail themselves of the advantages of the schools, had the tendency to forget their own tongue, and to gradually become French. The chairman of the schools is Sir H. Austin Lee, who takes the warmest interest in its welfare, while Mr. H. Webster is untiring in his work as secretary and treasurer.
The Girls’ Friendly Society is a splendid institution in Paris, hardly perhaps to be designated as a charity. When I first commenced work in the City it was doing but little, but of late years it has become a society of the first importance for looking after English girls abroad. It is, of course, a branch of the London G.F.S., which has its ramifications all over Europe. English girls come in very large numbers to Paris as typists, governesses, nurses, etc., and it is very important that they should be looked after in a city so full of temptations. The society took a new lease of life during the time when the Dowager Lady Dufferin was at the Embassy. It was in debt and other difficulties, and the work was comparatively small. Lady Dufferin seeing the possibilities took up the matter with her usual energy. The debt was soon paid, the difficulties removed, and the work placed on a firm basis. From that time to the present the society has prospered, and when I left Paris had some 300 English girls under its care. The system of the G.F.S. is just what is needed on the Continent. Each girl has a lady associate, who is her friend to whom she can always apply. If she moves to another city she is recommended to a Lady Associate there, and is met at the railway, and looked after. I used frequently to visit the charming lodge in the Avenue d’Jéna, and often on Sunday afternoons (the great gathering time for a free tea) gave an address to the girls. The work of the chaplains in Paris is much lightened by the kind help of the excellent ladies at the head of the lodge. Indeed, one may say that the need of English girls in Paris is fully met by this society, and the Y.W.C.A., under the fostering care of Mrs. Hoff. This excellent lady devotes a large portion of her time and wealth to work among American and English girls, and meets their need, and especially that of American artists, in the beautiful homes she has established.
The “Ada Leigh” homes have done a good work in the past. The Y.M.C.A. has for years had a branch in Paris, and done a good work, under the devoted presidency of the late H. Skepper.
These are the principal British charities in Paris. There are other smaller and more private charities which were less under my notice, but of which I would write, but for want of space.
BRITISH JOURNALISTS IN PARIS.
It was my privilege to know most of the journalists representing the leading English papers, frequently meeting them at the various public functions and on other occasions. They are truly a body of men of whom the Nation may be proud. Most agreeable to meet and keen in their work, so much so that very little escapes their notice.
The “Times” was represented during most of my chaplaincy by that truly remarkable man M. O. de Blowitz. It was said of him that on one occasion at least (in 1875) he saved France from war. His achievements during the Franco-German war in 1870 are well known. He was not striking in appearance: small, nearly bald, rather insignificant looking, so that it was hard on first acquaintance to realize that he was the man whose deeds had startled Europe on more than one occasion. He was, I believe, Austrian by birth, but French by naturalization. His communications to the “Times” were, I understand, always in French; indeed, he was latterly more French than anything else.
I once heard him try to make a speech in English, and it was evidently with considerable difficulty. He was naturally a constant visitor at the Embassy, and was an especial favourite with the late Earl of Lytton and his family. I used often to see him driving in the Champs Elysées, and to meet him at banquets and other occasions. In December, 1902, the colleagues of M. de Blowitz joined in making him a presentation in token of their admiration and esteem. About a month after this, in January, 1903, he passed away. His funeral was a very representative one, a large number of his friends joining in the last tribute. With the modern restrictions upon war correspondents, can there ever be another Blowitz?
M. de Blowitz was succeeded by M. Lavino, who had formerly been upon the staff of the “Daily Telegraph” in their Paris office, and was afterwards in Vienna. I met M. Lavino soon after he came to Paris, and he made what struck me then as a peculiar remark. After some moments conversation, he said, “You know, Dr. Noyes, you will have to bury me.” Of course I said I hoped not, but he seemed to have a presentiment then that his days were numbered.
M. Lavino, though not so well known as M. de Blowitz, had had a distinguished career. He was in Paris when the Franco-German War broke out as secretary to General Salazar, Minister of Ecuador in Chicago. When the ill-fated Marshal Bazaine was being condemned by the French for supposed treachery, M. Lavino contrived to obtain a letter from him in his own defence. From this time his success was assured. Later he assisted Sir Campbell Clarke on the Paris staff of the “Daily Telegraph,” and subsequently went to Vienna to represent the same paper. In 1892 he was appointed to represent the “Times,” and upon the death of M. de Blowitz was called to Paris. It was commonly said that M. Lavino did much to help on the “Entente Cordiale,” not so much by what he wrote as by bringing together leading men of both nations, and so encouraging a better understanding between them. M. Lavino frequently expressed himself as favouring the action of the French Government in its late struggle with the Roman Catholic Church. M. Lavino struck me as a kindly gentleman, observant, not fond of society—a man one could safely trust.
He died suddenly on the evening of August 4th of strangulated hernia and diabetes, the latter being a disease from which he had long suffered.
The “Daily Telegraph” was represented almost all my time by Sir Campbell Clarke. He was a man of large means, having married a daughter of a proprietor, and occupied a fine apartment in the Champs Elysées. He was a most genial, kind man. The late Lady Campbell Clarke was always ready to help the needy, and frequently assisted me in our charities by monetary help.
Sir Campbell Clarke was most ably assisted for many years by Mr. W. F. Lonergan and Mr. Ozane. The former has left Paris, while Mr. Ozane still plies his busy pen in La Ville Lumière. I feel sure that readers of the “Daily Telegraph” always enjoy “Paris day by day,” written in such a “newsy” style, and giving all the salient (though sometimes unsavory) points in passing events. I owe a large debt of gratitude to the Paris staff of the “Daily Telegraph” on account of many kindnesses received.
Mr. Hely Bowes and Mr. Farman represented the “Standard,” succeeded by Messrs. Adkin Raphael and Pountney. Mr. Farman’s son is very much before the public at the present time, having invented one of the most successful of the Flying Machines. I knew Mr. Hely Bowes and his family very well. They were regular members of my congregation in the Rue d’Aguesseau. Mr. Bowes was a singularly good French scholar and very witty. He was born and brought up in France. His father was, I believe, at one time upon the staff of the “Galagnani Messenger.” I remember upon one occasion sitting near him at a banquet. He was pouring out stories and witticisms to his neighbour, a French Deputy. The Minister was heard to ask afterwards “Who is that remarkable Englishman? He speaks and tell stories like a Frenchman.”
Mr. Hely Bowes died during my chaplaincy. I visited him at the last, and was the first to convey the sad news to Sir H. Austin Lee at the Embassy, where he was so well known.
As I passed the Lodge I told the Concierge what had happened, and raising his hands he exclaimed “par exemple”—it seemed to me a curious expression on such an occasion.
The “Daily News” and the “Morning Post” were represented by Mr. J. Macdonald and Mr. Raper, the latter of whom I knew very well.
Mr. Raper succeeded Mr. Arthur Gill (son of my predecessor, the Rev. Howard Gill), who for a short time represented the “Morning Post.”
The “Daily Mail” now occupies a unique and very important position among the English papers obtainable abroad. Having, in addition to a special wire, a printing establishment in Paris, they can produce a fac-simile edition of the London issue every morning.
In times of National anxiety especially, it would be hard to over-estimate the boon of such a paper. We had no such advantage, e.g., in the Boer War, and the anxious longing for the evening post was very trying, especially when one had relatives or friends in the Army. The French papers gave short telegrams, but these were often misleading and sometimes untrue, and only added to the anxiety. But now this is changed, and one can get a fairly full account of English doings at the breakfast table in Paris.
As the paper can be dispatched by the early morning trains, those in the South of France and other parts get their British news at least twelve hours earlier than heretofore.
During most of the time Mr. McAlpin represented this paper, whom I well knew. Mr. Lane was also upon the staff, and some others. Mr. McAlpin is now no longer on the Paris staff of the “Daily Mail,” and was succeeded by Mr. J. B. Brandreth, who is well known in the journalistic world. The “Daily Mail” has been the death of the “Galagnani Messenger” which used to be so well known upon the Continent.
For the American Colony in Paris there is no paper like the “New York Herald.” This paper, owned by Mr. J. Gordon Bennett, is a remarkable publication, produced it is said at a loss, very chatty, and containing daily current news from America. Before the “Daily Mail” came to the front, most English people took the “New York Herald,” as it gave a certain amount of English news from the papers of the day, and whetted the appetite for the London paper which arrives in the evening.
Mr. J. Gordon Bennett is a well-known figure in Paris. He is said to be several times over a millionaire—spends freely, and is a great traveller and sportsman. He has the knack of getting the men he wants upon the staff of his paper, and of getting the best out of them. But I am told the tenure of office there is rather precarious. Many of the journalists of Paris have been at one time or another on the staff of his paper. I have also heard it said that the name of no person disliked by the proprietor is allowed to appear in the paper. The Editor publishes at times all letters, etc., even though they revile the paper and things American. A letter from an “old Philadelphian lady” has been repeated daily for some years!
I received much kindness from the “Herald” during my chaplaincy. I was never charged for any advertisement, and any communications I sent were always inserted.
Another journalist whom I often met was Mr. Clifford Millage, who was the Paris correspondent of the “Daily Chronicle,” and an ardent Roman Catholic. He was fond of discussing theological subjects—an able man, and well thought of among his confrères. He passed away in 1903. I may also mention Mr. Strong, Mr. Longhurst, and Mr. Fullerton, among those from whom I received kindness from time to time. I was brought a good deal into contact with the late Mr. Cuntz, who managed the “American Register”—owing to serious illness in his family.
Besides the journalists of the sterner sex, there are also ladies who are well known as brilliant writers for various society and other papers. I may mention among those whom I was privileged to know, Mrs. Emily Crawford. This lady was in Paris during the war of 1870, and the almost more terrible Commune that followed. She writes for the “Daily News” and “Truth,” and has published a memoir of our late beloved Queen, under the title “Victoria, Queen and Ruler.” Mrs. Crawford is well known in all literary circles in Paris.
Mrs. Alison Robson I knew for almost the whole of my chaplaincy. She is a clever writer for the “Queen,” under the nom de plume of E. de Campo Bello. Mrs. Robson went as special correspondent to the Hague at the time of the wedding festivities of the Queen of Holland; and also Madrid, when the King of Spain came of age. She gave us a most interesting account of these visits.
Many of my readers who can recall the great “Times” trial will remember the names of Pigott, and Tynan (the famous No. 1, who it was said gave the signal for the murder of Lord F. Cavendish). It was a curious coincidence that both these men were living at one time in my Parish of Christ Church, Kingstown. I often made purchases at the little bookshop kept by Tynan, and sometimes spoke with him. During my stay in Paris I had a visit from the famous le Carron, who for a long time was a member of the Clan-na-Gael in New York, and informed the Home Government of their proceedings. He told me that he was formerly a choir boy in the Embassy Church, and he related to me some of his thrilling adventures. He died of consumption soon after his visit to Paris.
[Illustration: THE ELYSÉE, FROM THE FAUBOURG ST. HONORÉ.]
Some of the yearly customs on fête days in Paris are peculiar, and those occurring in the winter season are less familiar than others—to English visitors. New Year’s Day, the “Jour de l’an,” is kept as a National Holiday, and presents of flowers and “objets d’art” are sent amongst friends. Christmas Day is not kept with the like solemnity and joyousness as with us—though becoming more a fête than it formerly was. Upon New Year’s Day beggars are allowed in the streets, and it is often a ghastly spectacle to see the poor creatures in all conditions of deformity asking alms. A good deal is distributed amongst them, as the French are very charitable to the Poor. At this season “booths” are allowed on the Boulevards, when all sorts of toys, etc., are exposed for sale, some of them mechanical and very ingenious. They are supposed for the most part to have been made in the homes of the poor.
Shrove Tuesday (Mardi-gras) and Mid-Lent (Mi-carême) are also general holidays. On the former there is a procession of fat cattle, and a throwing of confetti in the main streets and Boulevards, where vehicular traffic is suspended. I have seen the Grand Boulevards literally six inches deep in confetti on a fine day. Mi-carême is marked by a procession of the washerwomen, and in many particulars resembles our Lord Mayor’s Show on November 9th, only it is more fantastic. The Grand Car on these occasions is reserved for the Queen of the Laundries, who has been solemnly chosen for her beauty. She rides triumphant, surrounded by her “Court”—sometimes rather scantily dressed for the cold weather, and stops at the Elysée, where she generally receives a present of a bracelet at the hands of the President of the Republic. These functions are well worth seeing—once.
The National Fête, to celebrate the declaration of the Republic, being in warmer weather (July), is usually more of a festival in the open-air, and is kept up late and early. Many families leave Paris for the country before it comes off. It is emphatically the people’s fête, and one feature of it is that dancing is allowed in the streets. Bandstands are erected, usually opposite a restaurant, and in the evenings people gather in large numbers. Inmates of flats near these bandstands suffer much (I write from experience), for being the hot weather windows must be open, and the noise is deafening.
“All Souls’” and “All Saints’” Days are religiously kept by most Parisians, and thousands go to the cemeteries to place flowers on the graves of their relations. It is a very interesting sight, and visitors to Paris should not omit on these days to go to Père-la-Chaise, Passy, Bolougne-sur-Seine, or one of the other cemeteries.
The French pay great respect to the dead. No funeral cortège is allowed to trot in Paris whatever the distance to the cemetery, and most men raise their hats and women cross themselves as the body passes in the streets. Soldiers and officials always salute.
Burials are a monopoly in Paris. The Pompes funèbres is a great company, who have decorations arranged and always ready for every church in Paris, and everyone is buried by them, and in the “class” they choose to pay for. There are seven or eight “classes,” and it is so arranged that the rich pay for the poor. A first-class funeral is very rare, as it costs a very large sum. Officials attend the poor man’s funeral—only less gorgeously dressed—equally with the rich, and all things are done decently and in order. As a sign of the times, not long before I left Paris, I was called upon to take a funeral of an American at St. Germain, some miles outside the fortifications. The family and friends went down by train, and I went with the body, but in a motor-fourgon (hearse). When we left the gates of the city we travelled very rapidly.
I noticed a marked change during my life in Paris in the keeping of Sunday. Twenty years ago many shops were open, and there was little to distinguish it from any other day. Now most places of business are closed. Leagues were formed some years ago, advocating one day’s rest in seven, and quite lately (1907) a law was passed requiring that all employés should cease work on Sunday. Those compelled to work on that day (in restaurants, etc.) must have another day. Alas! the change is not due to a religious but a secular movement, and is solely to oblige one day’s rest in the seven as a holiday. As far as it goes it is a good thing for the people, and it is pleasant to see the orderly crowds enjoying the open air in the Bois, the Parc Monceau, and other places, while one regrets the irreligion which is so characteristic of the nation at this time.
The well-known Mark Twain (Mr. Clements) came to Paris to complete (so I understood) one of his books. No one knew of his presence amongst us for some time. When I heard of it I went to see him in his hotel in the Rue de Rivoli to ask him to give a public reading from his works for the benefit of the proposed Church House. He put me off in his characteristic way. I then went to see the Marquis of Dufferin and Ava—our Ambassador at that time—and asked him if he would give a room at the Embassy if I could persuade Mark Twain to read. He kindly agreed, and so did Mr. Clements. We had a splendid success, the rooms were crowded. We obtained twenty francs a ticket, and cleared some £200. American humour is sometimes difficult for English people to appreciate, but no one could resist Mark Twain. I shall always feel grateful to him for his kind help on that occasion.
Among the many artists it was our privilege to know in Paris was the eminent sculptor, Mr. Bruce Joy. He had then a studio in the city. We still possess a replica of his well-known bust of the late Archbishop Benson.
Paris is a city which might well be compared to the Adulamites Cave, where all in distress and difficulty congregate. Among the unfortunates was the late Oscar Wilde. I had known him a little in Dublin as a student, and had also met him at Lady Wilde’s receptions. He came to Paris to die. When I heard of his serious illness I went down at once to enquire, but found he had passed away. The “concierge” told me that he had been visited by a Priest, and baptized into the Roman Church. As is often the case, the Baptism was administered when the patient was “in extremis,” and knew nothing about it. The Roman Church, however, claimed to take the funeral, and I could not object.
Curious mistakes were sometimes made by the French Postal authorities, owing to the difficulty of language. Each Easter it was my custom to send out a card to the members of the congregation giving notice of the services, and at the foot a suitable quotation from the Scriptures. In 1895, I sent out the card as usual, and the passage was “The Lord is Risen.” One came back to me through the dead-letter office addressed to “The Lord is Risen, 5 Rue d’Aguesseau.”
All sorts of ideas and rumours were circulated when the French Church was separated from the State. One morning a French gentleman called at the Vestry and asked me if it was true that Sir Francis Bertie, our present Ambassador in Paris, had purchased the Madeleine Church, our own being too small! This is somewhat parallel to the story of an Irish clergyman, who told me that the day after the bill passed to disestablish the Church in Ireland he heard in the early morning a scythe going in his field. A stranger was cutting his hay. Upon enquiry, the man said: “Sure, sir, the Church is disestablished now, and I thought I would come early for my share!”
The French often make curious mistakes in their translations into English, but the same may be said, and perhaps more so, with respect to our renderings into French, e.g., A young English girl was heard to exclaim “Je suis cheval,” desiring to say she was hoarse. And another, who had a touch of the same complaint, “Je ne peux pas hirondèle,” meaning she could not swallow. Upon another occasion, when called to play in public, a girl said “Je suis sûre de casser-en-bas,” in her fear of coming to grief. It was rather a peculiar way to express hurry, when one said “Je suis dans une dépèche.” I suppose most have heard the story told by Dean Pigou, of Bristol, of the lady (I believe an American) who, desiring a cab, called out “Cochon êtes-vous fiancé.” Another story, which was current in my time, is worth repeating. A girl who had been but a few months in Paris learning French was taken out by her parents to a restaurant. Looking over the menu, she was asked to translate the sentence “Ris de Veau à la financière,” which she told her delighted parents was “the calf laughs at the Banker’s wife.” Many of such mistakes arise when young people are placed in French families where no English is spoken at all, and so their errors pass uncorrected.
Among the remarkable men who lived and died in Paris during my chaplaincy was Mr. H. A. M. Butler-Johnstone. He had been for sixteen years Member of Parliament for Canterbury, and as a youth was at Eton, at the same time as His Majesty King Edward. He was closely identified with the young Turkey party in Paris. He was on his way to the Post Office in October, 1902, when he died suddenly in the street near the Place Vendome. He was staying with his wife at the Hotel Continental, but there being no funds, his funeral was undertaken by the British Charitable Fund. I conducted his funeral, which was attended by quite a number of the Turkish Colony in Paris. It was said that his financial ruin was caused by his having lent £200,000 to the Turkish Government in 1877 to resist the encroachments of Russia. To raise this sum he sold his pictures to the National Gallery, as well as his estates in England. It was said that he gave great offence to the late Marquis of Salisbury by the attitude he took up on the Russo-Turkish War.
In January, 1907, there was a remarkable gathering of eighty-six Prelates of the Roman Church in Paris to discuss the attitude of the Church towards the recently passed “Law of Separation.” What seemed the more remarkable was that the gathering was held at the Château de la Muette Passy, the residence of the Count and Countess de Francqueville, and that the Countess presided at the lunch, she being a member of the Anglican Communion. The Countess, as is well known, is the daughter of the Earl of Selbourne, and niece of the late Bishop of Southwell.
[Illustration: PLACE DE LA CONCORDE.]
[Illustration: THE HISTORIC FOUNTAIN, PLACE DE LA CONCORDE.]
The concierge or hall porter occupies a responsible position in the Paris house. A common answer to the question “Is life worth living?” is—it depends upon the concierge. There is no doubt that a disagreeable concierge can make things very uncomfortable, and it is necessary when taking an “appartement” to gain his goodwill by a good tip. Otherwise letters which are delivered at the lodge may not be brought up as soon as they should be, and other little annoyances will frequently occur. It is customary to give 50 to 100 francs to the concierge on New Year’s day, according to the rent paid, to secure civility and good service through the year. The concierge is the servant of the proprietor and not of the tenant. Every quarter the rent is paid to the concierge, and must be paid in cash. The cheque system as we have it in England is but little used in France.
When I handed a cheque for my first quarter’s rent to the concierge he looked at it, and said “What is this?” I was compelled to go down to the Bank and get the money for him!
In taking an appartement (or flat) in Paris, the greatest care is necessary. The “etat de lieu” or state of the flat must be taken both by the architect of the landlord and your own. A document is drawn up, and signed by both parties. Unless this is done all sorts of charges may be made when the tenant leaves the flat, as, e.g., for every nail in the walls or floors, every scratch on the paint, etc. I bought my experience rather expensively in one of the flats I occupied.
Owing, it is said, to the lack of population, the law as to nationality presses hard upon some foreigners in France. The law at present is that “all children of parents born in France are French,” and male children thus born are liable for military service. I knew several young men who were thoroughly English, and who had always kept up their connection with England and the English Colony in France, who, nevertheless, owing to the fact that their parents were born in the country, were accounted French, and had to go through their military service, and were liable to be called up in time of war. It has naturally followed that when an interesting event is expected in a British family, and where it can be managed, a temporary change to the English climate has become desirable. But this law presses very hardly upon the poor.
I am often asked as to whether it is more expensive to live in Paris than in London. My experience is that London is the dearer city. In Paris almost everyone lives in a flat, where it is not necessary to keep so many servants as a house requires. Wages are about the same; but servants in France are much more economical than in England. Food is dearer as it is mostly taxed—the exception being fruit and vegetables, which come into Paris free of duty. Wine of home culture is now exempt. Coal is very expensive, being generally over £2 a ton; but then less is used, as the houses in the best parts of the city are generally warmed. There is, however, no income tax in France, and the municipal taxes are much less—about one-half what they are in London. But the days when people would go to Paris to largely economise are past; both capitals are expensive for the upper and middle classes.
The carte telegram or “Petit bleu” is an advantage in Paris which one misses much in London. This is a system by which a letter written on a special form, which can be sealed and posted in a special box, with a threepenny stamp, will be delivered in the city, by means of pneumatic tubes, within an hour. It is a great convenience, and largely used by Parisians.
The post offices, however, often afford a trying experience. The officials seem in no hurry to attend to the customers, and there is no appeal. They do not seem to consider themselves the servants of the public in any way, and so the public suffer. The “Bureaux de Post” are frequently badly ventilated, so that a long delay is not always agreeable.
THE PRESENT CONDITIONS OF RELIGIOUS LIFE ON THE CONTINENT OF EUROPE, AND THEIR LESSONS FOR THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND TO-DAY.
A Paper read at the Yarmouth Church Congress, October 2nd, 1907.
I ventured to accept the proposal that I should speak to you to-day upon the ground that I had been for the past sixteen years chaplain in Paris, with certain opportunities for gathering some information upon the subject before us.
What I have to say will naturally refer chiefly to France, which during the past few years has been passing—with somewhat grim silence—through a bloodless Revolution.
The long story, of which the present condition of religious life in that country is the sequel, has been as to its earlier stages so ably dealt with by the previous speaker that I will not occupy your time by a further reference to it.
To come to recent events. During the years 1897-1900 France was stirred to its depths over the Dreyfus “affaire.” It was in the air—everyone talked about it, and the controversy was full of bitterness. The policy of the Ultramontane party with respect to this question can only be described as deplorable. At any cost this unfortunate Jew must be proved guilty, apparently with the hope that thus feeling would be stirred up in the country against all Jews, and non-Roman Catholics, and the Church come again into the favour she was fast losing. The reaction that came when it was seen that a great blunder had been made was remarkable; and there was considerable irritation against those who had, it was felt, deceived the people. Yet there are some in France who still would have us believe that Dreyfus is guilty! The country had been steadily becoming indifferent to religion, but that indifference was largely changed into open hostility in the reaction after the exposures which were made in this “affaire,” which had indeed brought the country perilously near civil war.
It was in the year 1900 that the French Government took action against the Augustinians, or Assumptionists. Hitherto the “Orders” had been treated with more or less of indifference, but at this time the country woke up to the fact that this body was publishing a newspaper (“The Croix”), which was acquiring a leading position so far as circulation was concerned. In every café, in every village, it had its agents; and while acting under the cloak of religion—the crucifix being printed on the front page, with a representation of the “flag of the Sacred Heart”—it was really a political organ—its object was revolutionary—and aimed at the existing Government. It is only fair, however, to say that this organ, while largely used, was never officially sanctioned by the Church. The Government becoming aware of the danger promptly seized the press, suppressed the Order of the Assumptionists, and proceeded to further measures. M. Clemenceau showed, in an able speech, that in very many cases these so-called religious orders were nothing else than huge trading establishments, some of which had made great fortunes by the manufacture of wines and liqueurs, and that a considerable amount of “sweating” was practised by those in authority over them.
In 1901, M. Waldeck Rousseau being Prime Minister, the “Associations Bill” was brought into the Chamber of Deputies. This Bill required all congregations to be authorized. Existing congregations were to obtain authorization, and no new ones could be formed without this authority. The Bill was no doubt aimed chiefly at the various “orders,” several of which were not authorized, as, e.g., the Jesuits and the Dominicans. Desperate efforts were made in the Chamber to defeat the Government, but the Bill was carried by 303 votes to 224. Soon after this, M. Waldeck Rousseau retired, nominating M. Combes as his successor.
In 1902 the elections were held, and the Government “went to the country” upon the Associations Bill. Contrary to the expectations of the Ultramontane party, and showing how rapidly it was losing its hold upon the people, the elections were decidedly in favour of the Government. M. Combes, in the same year, suppressed 127 establishments (monasteries and convents) which were not authorized. Many thought he acted with undue severity, and disturbances took place in various parts. It has, however, to be remembered that with the Government it was a struggle for life, and as a leading statesman expressed it, “The religious orders are a State within a State, and capable of undermining the most solid edifice raised by a most united people.” M. Combes has frequently said that he had no intention at this time of going so far as to propose the breaking of the Concordat—not that he objected to it, but he did not believe that the country was ripe for it. The somewhat extraordinary action of the Vatican, and the support of the Government by the people, carried him on.
An event took place soon after which accentuated the friction between the Government and the Vatican. M. Loubet (President of the Republic) had decided to pay an official visit to the King of Italy. This was considered an insult to the Vatican, which had for a long time endeavoured to keep France and Italy apart. Protest was made to the French Government, and every engine of diplomacy used to arrange a visit to the Pope before the audience with the King of Italy. M. Loubet and the Government refused to be dictated to, and as M. Combes put it in a speech subsequently made, “We will not allow the Papacy to intermeddle in our international relationships, and we intend to have done once for all with the fiction of the Temporal Power.” This sounds very much like the sentence in our own Constitution: “The Pope of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this realm of England.”
The mass of the people—with whom M. Loubet was popular—sided with the Government, and the gulf was made a little wider.
Following this incident came the case of the two Bishops, Mgr. le Nordez, Bishop of Dijon, and Mgr. Geay, Bishop of Laval. These two ecclesiastics were accused of certain crimes against morality, and of Freemasonry. The excitement was widespread, and eventually the bishops were summoned to Rome. In conformity with the terms of the Concordat, they informed the French Government of this order, who forbid them to leave the country, as the summons was irregular. From this time a battle began between the Vatican and the French Government, until at length the two bishops yielded, and went to Rome to be tried, and eventually resigned their bishoprics. This was regarded as a great triumph for the Ultramontane party.
But what followed caused considerable consternation, for on July 29th of that year the Papal Nuncio was informed by M. Delcasse that there was no need for him to remain longer in France. I shall not soon forget the excitement in Paris at this decided step. Parliament, however, approved of what had been done, and thus the way was prepared for the breaking of the “golden chain” of the Concordat, and the final rupture with the Vatican. Great events followed with striking rapidity.
On December 9th, 1905, the law was passed severing the connection between Church and State, which was completed on March 16th, 1906, by the “Reglement d’Administration publique.” It was legislation for which the country had proved to be ripe.
The series of events which I have briefly referred to had hastened the crisis. No greater mistake could be made than to imagine it was merely a political measure arising from irritation. It was inevitable—it was but the “registration of an existing fact.”
Moreover, the Bill itself was much more generous and favourable than it might have been, and is not rightly described as “persecution.” It is no doubt anti-clerical, but that does not mean that it is altogether anti-religious. In the Chamber of Deputies the other day the Abbé Lemire could say that “he believed in the sincerity of those who say they wished to make the law of separation a law of liberty and toleration, as well for the Church as for the State.”
The first article of the Bill reads thus: “The Republic assures liberty of conscience and guarantees the free practise of religion subject only to the restrictions hereinafter enacted, in the interest of public order.”
The second article says: “The Republic neither recognises nor salaries nor subsidises any religion”—in future budgets “all expenses connected with the practise of religions” would be omitted, and public religious establishments would be suppressed. Provision is, however, made for the continued services of chaplains in public institutions, a provision which shows an absence of an altogether anti-religious bias in the Bill.
The ceasing of grants for religious services means, of course, an enormous loss to the Roman Church, and a proportionate loss to the Protestant and Jewish Churches also. It is a credit to the Roman Church that this financial loss has not been represented as the chief grievance.
The articles 3 and 4 in the Bill have been those most bitterly opposed by the Ultramontane party. The former required an “inventory” to be made of all Church property, which was then to be transferred to the “Associations Cultuelles,” who were to hold it in the future as “representatives of the religion which has now the use of it.” The taking of this “inventory” was made the occasion of considerable disturbance. In Paris this was especially so at the Church of S. Clothilde, where there was a free fight. The names of the arrested, however, clearly showed that the demonstration was political rather than religious, and engineered mainly by the Royalist party. There is also another fact not generally known, and that is, that the opportunity was being taken by dealers from Paris and London to purchase valuable plate and pictures from the Churches throughout the country, substituting for them others of little value, and the Government was really protecting Church property by taking these inventories.
By article 4 the “Association Cultuelles” were to receive the property as being representatives of the “Religion that now has the use of it.” These associations were to be formed in every parish, the members forming it being proportionate to the population. The priests might be members, and would in most cases nominate the other members.
Thus it would seem a door was open by which a “modus vivendi” might have been arranged between the Vatican and the State. The French bishops realized this, and at their first meeting decided to accommodate themselves to the law. They were convinced by a majority of twenty-two that it would be possible to form associations which, “without violating the separation law, would maintain the essential rights of the Church, her Divine constitution, and her hierarchy.” But the Vatican would not consent.
Later, the Archbishop of Besancon proposed a scheme for the formation of “Associations Canonique,” which, according to the Abbé Houtin, was approved by the bishops by 56 votes against 18. This scheme was also rejected, the Pope declaring that he would not permit their trial “so long as he had no certain and legal guarantee that the Divine constitution of the Church, the immaculate rights of the Roman Pontiff and the Bishops, and their authority over the necessary property of the Church (particularly over the sacred edifices) would be irrevocably and fully assured by the said associations.” So came a deadlock—on all points the Vatican had refused compliance with the new law, and practically declared war against the Government. With apparently a real desire to meet the difficulty, the Government fell back temporarily upon the law of 1881, which required a simple declaration to be made of the intention to hold Divine service, this declaration being only necessary once a year. This proposal was under discussion at the famous meeting of the French Bishops at La Muette, Paris, in January of this year. We gather from reliable sources that there was a disposition on the part of the bishops to accept this solution of the difficulty, when a telegram was received from the Vatican forbidding it.
Thus we arrive at the present state of the religious question in France. The Church is separated from the State—the Papal Nuncio has been banished from France, the bulk of the people are only nominal adherents of the Church, and they love to have it so.
It must be evident to most who have followed this controversy that Rome has herself fledged the arrow which has brought her down. For a long time she has been losing her hold upon the people, so that to-day, out of thirty-nine millions in the country, it is calculated that only four to five millions are devout adherents of the Papacy. This fact it is that accounts for the absence of any serious uprising during this momentous change which has so recently taken place.
Mr. F. Harrison relates his impressions during a late visit to France in the “Nineteenth Century” for August, and says:—“Of the great religious struggle not a trace was to be seen.… I entered the churches and attended the services at all hours, and was almost always alone. In Notre Dame, in Paris, on Trinity Sunday last there were fifty-two women and twenty-five men.” He adds, “The State was only concerned with the overthrow of a great political conspiracy; there was no trace of a great religious struggle, because none took place.”
Visitors to Paris during the season may get a very erroneous impression as to the true state of religious life. A few of the leading churches may be filled, e.g., the Madeleine, S. Sulpice, S. Clothilde, and some others, but one has to take into account the fact that Paris is much under-churched for the population, and that many of those attending in the season are from the provinces, and, I am sorry to say, some English Churchpeople. So with regard to Sunday. A great change has taken place in France. Visitors of twenty years ago will remember that the shops in Paris were for the most part open, but now they are very generally closed. It would, however, be a mistake to suppose that this change arose from a religious feeling. It is rather that France had decided to keep one day in seven for pure pleasure, and Sunday has been chosen as the most convenient day. The theatres and other amusements are open, and thronged as before.
During the last sixteen years—with the exception of the monumental building upon the hill of Montmartre, I never saw any important new church in building, or heard of one being erected.
And what is the reason of this state of things, from which we as a Church may gather some lessons? They are many. Rome in France, as in other countries, is rather a political than a religious system. She was involved more than was generally known in the Dreyfus affair. The banished Orders were sowing the seeds of disloyalty to the Republic. S. Cyr (the military school) was largely under the influence of the Jesuits, who are not Republicans, and the struggle had to come. “France is democratic and progressive. In spite of eminent exceptions, the Roman Catholic body has offered a sullen and stubborn opposition to economic and social reform. It reaps what it has sown.” And this is an object-lesson to ourselves. Now the attitude of the nation towards Roman Catholicism is one of distrust and aversion. A Church—a clergy—these, though he may not personally use them—the average Frenchman will have. But what he will not have at any price is a Government influenced by priests—a Roman Catholic “party”—or the intervention of Rome, secret or avowed, in French politics. The fact is that Rome has asked the people to believe too much, and they have ended by believing very little. It is a sad spectacle. But what has the Church offered to combat the growing materialism of the country? Only the poor substitute of superstition, such as is manifested at Lourdes and other places. This and the Dreyfus affair, and the scandal connected with the name of Leo Taxil, have done much in late years to alienate thinking Frenchmen from religion.
Again, the selling of the offices and sacraments has in Paris at least been practised to an extraordinary extent. Before the separation, I have known of as much as £1,000 being paid for the services at a “rich” funeral. £80 to £100 was a common fee for marriages and funerals, and large offerings were expected at baptisms. Since the passing of the Bill the Archbishop of Paris has ordered that marriages and funerals should only be taken in a low “class,” where the fees are comparatively moderate. But I am credibly informed that it is expected that an “offering” will be given to the officiating priest equal to what was formerly charged. This relates, of course, only to the wealthier class, from whom the complaints have been deep if not loud.
And what is the outcome of all this? Here you have a dissatisfied priesthood, especially as to the younger men; it is calculated that some two hundred secede from the priesthood every year; a people who have thrown over their Church and practically banished religion from their schools. You have teachers who have a better chance of employment and promotion if they are free-thinkers. Consequently juvenile crime is increasing, and immorality more or less rampant. Here are two facts. According to the official journal, during the year 1905, 3,805 boys of sixteen years of age passed through the police courts, and 566 girls of the same age; and in the same year there were 468 cases of suicide of men and women under twenty-one years of age. Again, in Paris alone the illegitimate births are over 12,000 a year, while in London, with its much greater population, the number for 1906 was 4,868.
What is the remedy? Certainly a revival of religion will not come through politics—but will it come from the Church herself?
There is a Liberal school of Roman Catholic Theology in France from which some hope much. M. Paul Sabatier (who has written so much and so well upon this subject) has great hopes that the Church in France will be saved by this party. But it is a party which has no favour from Rome, and time alone will show whether anything can be accomplished by it. Some, indeed, there are who think that the somewhat mysterious action of the Pope in the late controversy with the Government arose from the existence and strength of this “Liberal” party, and the latest Papal pronouncement seems to favour this view. This school—historical, liturgical, and critical—has broken down the intellectual conceptions on which Romish doctrine rests; and if its views are accepted by Roman Catholics generally, then the Vatican sees clearly that it cannot sway the minds of the people and bring them to obey implicitly.
It would appear that the Curia sees that the doctrines of Liberalism, once adopted, will overthrow Romanism, and in its desire to save the Church allows the French Catholics to be persecuted, knowing that persecution will confirm Conservatism, and drive the really attached Ultramontanes closer to the Roman authority. The Pope’s action is, in fact, the inevitable result of Ultramontanism, for nowadays no Romanist can be anything but an Ultramontane if he is loyal to the Papacy. Thus the action of the Pope may not be a diplomatic mistake so much as the outcome of a steady policy to maintain unity on the basis of the Vatican decrees and the syllabus.
The lessons for the Church of England are obvious. It may be that France is in the van of a larger movement for good or for evil. Spain, Italy, Germany, are in the throes of the same struggle. Anti-clericalism is not unknown among ourselves. Surely we may learn the danger of a too close alliance with any political party. The Church, as her Divine Founder, should be non-political. And should not every nerve be strained to keep our people in close attachment to the Church, by active sympathy with the masses, putting before them a manly Christianity and avoiding mediævalism and superstition? And must we not fight for schools, that definite religious instruction be given to our children, which will equip them as none other can for the responsibilities of national life, and for the life to come? If we learn these lessons while the day lasteth, “quis separabit.”
THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND ON THE CONTINENT.
The position and work of the Church of England upon the Continent is not understood as it should be by British people in general. It is difficult to overcome old prejudices, and there is no doubt but that in former times (now happily gone by) there was a distinct prejudice against the Continental Chaplain. It was generally thought that he must either be on the Bishop’s “black list,” or have been guilty of some grievous fault to be found upon the Continent at all. And this prejudice was hardly to be wondered at. It is not very many years ago since no Bishop was found to be superintending the chaplains, and there were men ministering abroad who had left their country for their country’s good. The history of Episcopal supervision is briefly this. In the year 1663 “congregations of the Church of England in foreign countries” were placed under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of London. This was in the reign of Charles I., and by an order of the King in council. And this order held good for 200 years. During this period there are little or no traces of any effectual Episcopal supervision, neither is there any record of any Assistant Bishop aiding the Bishop of London in this work. We may, however, assume that the number of British people travelling and resident upon the Continent was nothing like what it is now. In the old days people often took their carriage over the Channel and travelled with servants and Courier, so that trips abroad were only a luxury of the rich. And now the London Polytechnic, e.g., take people over by thousands, and offer a trip to “lovely Lucerne” with all the best excursions, etc., for £5 5s.! When taking the chaplaincy at Lucerne three years ago I was much interested in the arrival of these weekly parties, and in order to see how the excursions were managed went with a party to the end of the Lake, and by Goschenen to Andermatt, a lovely excursion; and I was indeed surprised how well everything was done. The lunch was plain but substantial, and all included in the five guineas for a week’s trip.
But to return to Church matters. In 1825 Bishop Luscombe was appointed to the Embassy Chaplaincy in Paris, and to superintend British congregations on the Continent. This could have been no sinecure, when it is remembered that there was then no Bishopric of Gibraltar, and that his appointment included superintendence of the Church of England congregations on the whole Continent, in Asia, and the North of Africa.
I endeavoured to ascertain if there were any records of Episcopal work done in these lands, but could find no trace. The Embassy Chaplaincy was less important then than it has since become, but my experience has been that the work in Paris is both onerous and constant, and that with all the chaplain may be able to accomplish there is necessarily much left undone. Twelve thousand English people scattered over a large city must involve, as it does, heavy work.
In the year 1842, the Bishopric of Gibraltar was founded; in this case a territorial title was available owing to our possession of the impregnable rock. Forty-two years afterwards, in 1884, a most important step was taken, and a Suffragan Bishop to the See of London appointed to take jurisdiction over the congregations in Northern and Central Europe. The first was Bishop Titcomb, a man greatly beloved by all who knew him, and one who never tired of doing all he could to help and cheer his chaplains, many of whom were in isolated posts and often very lonely. Unfortunately he was only a few years at work, when he was taken ill and died. His successor was the Right Rev. Bishop Wilkinson, formerly of Zululand, under whom I was privileged to serve during the whole of my chaplaincy. I usually arranged for the Bishop’s hospitality at the Embassy when he visited us for Confirmations, and while I fear he does not like Paris and big receptions, we were always pleased to see him and fully appreciated his work amongst us. The travelling in this (so-called) diocese is very fatiguing, as it reaches from Calais to St. Petersburg, and embraces Belgium, the North of France, Germany, Norway, and Sweden, etc.
Thus the work of the Church of England upon the Continent is within these two Dioceses—I use the term as being the most convenient—and can, I believe, be favourably compared with that in any English or Colonial Diocese.
In both Dioceses there are permanent and temporary chaplaincies. Permanent chaplaincies are usually in towns, where there is a resident and commercial colony, and where similar work is carried on to that of an English parish. The temporary chaplaincies are opened only in the season, and in places where the English congregate for health, holiday, and pleasure.
The appointments to these chaplaincies are chiefly in the hands of the two well-known societies, the Colonial and Continental Church Society and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. All licenses are issued by the Bishops of London and Gibraltar. Since my removal from Paris I have been a member of the Committee of the former Society, and I can testify to the care which is taken to select men suitable to the vacant positions.
In the chaplains, and especially in the case of those permanent, English travellers abroad will generally find a sympathetic friend, and one ready to give advice or help whenever needed.
May I, in closing this short notice of a very important and increasing work, plead for greater liberality on the part of travellers. The chaplains are often but poorly paid, and are in a large measure dependent—in some cases entirely—upon the weekly offertory. The number of nickel coins in the plate week after week is a trying experience to the chaplain, and seems to show but small appreciation on the part of travellers of the advantage of a religious service when abroad, and of the very great difficulty there often is in keeping a chaplaincy open for want of funds.
In trouble and difficulty the chaplain is frequently the one applied to, and then gratitude is expressed, but it surely should not be left to such times; and the plea of home calls and the expense of a holiday abroad is not satisfactory or quite reasonable. But what noble exceptions there are to the grudging giver! I had for some years a member of my congregation in Paris who regularly put a gold piece in the plate on Sundays, and if away for three or four weeks would, on her return, give for each Sunday of her absence; and “God loveth a cheerful giver.”
AMERICANS IN PARIS.
The American Colony is not nearly so large as the English in Paris, but it is important and influential. According to the last census there were 5,000 Americans resident, or in hotels, while there were 12,000 English. The reason for this difference in numbers is not far to seek. America is too distant, and the voyage too expensive for the poor to readily cross the great Atlantic; while for a few shillings anyone can traverse the little “Manche” between England and France and try their luck in the gay City—generally looked upon in England as one vast pleasure ground. Alas! these poor people often find tears where they looked for laughter, and poverty where they looked for gold. An American in distress from poverty is a rarity. The few who are stranded in Paris find many liberal helpers among their own country people.
There is no doubt that Americans thoroughly appreciate the beauty and comfort of living in the “Ville lumière,” and there are many residents who have chosen it as a place of residence when free to live anywhere. Then there are others who are married to French, and thirdly, those who are studying painting, singing, or architecture, or whose children are being educated in that thorough way we in England know so little of.
The English Chaplain comes into close contact with many Americans, both socially and ministerially. Though the beautiful Church in the Avenue de l’Alma was built for, and by, Americans, the English Embassy Church counts among her faithful worshippers many an American cousin. Doctor Morgan, who has for many years ministered to the American Church, and is so much beloved by all, quite recognised that we must exchange many of our flock, and it would not be possible, nor desirable, to keep to the nationality of our congregation, especially as we are in communion one with the other.
Socially, the English Chaplain must necessarily meet many Americans. Naturally, those who speak the same language (or nearly so) must draw together in a strange country. But there is more than that, as everyone knows, in the relationship of English and Americans. Their outlook on life from childhood for education, both in the home and school, is the same. Until one has lived in a foreign country one hardly realizes how this affects one.
The difference in the way a Frenchman regards the question of morality and religion makes a barrier which is not often bridged. The truly sympathetic friendship between the Anglo-Saxon and the Frenchman is the exception, and not the rule. In this way the American and English in a foreign land draw closer together, and consider themselves very much as one family, with the same tastes and sympathies, while they regard in quite a different light those they call “foreigners,” though they may be living in that “foreigners’” land, and would be quite offended if the term were applied to them.
We made many friends among the Americans, and we can never think of our life in Paris as separate from those dear ones. Indeed, the house which my family and I have come to regard as a second home, and where the welcome is always that of a kind sister, belongs to an American who was, and is still, one of the most regular attendants at the English Church. I cannot too often testify to the liberality of the Americans in Paris in helping the British poor. They were ready at all times to give of their money and time for this purpose, and I cannot remember a single instance when I appealed in vain for their aid. At a large working party formed for making clothes for the British poor, we had not only the attendance of many Americans, but the beautiful and commodious rooms of the Hotel Powers were lent to us free of charge by their American owner.
When we had bazaars for the Church, several stalls were taken by Americans, and at concerts given for charitable purposes it was in many cases to the American Colony we owed both the talent which attracted the large attendance, and also the results we generally obtained.
Perhaps one of the most notable of the American millionaires when I first went to Paris was Mrs. Ayer. She was almost mobbed when she went out on account of her wonderful jewels, which represented a large fortune. I have seen people standing on chairs in a drawing-room to get a better sight of her—or of them! Indeed, royalty could hardly compete in notoriety with this little old lady.
Mrs. Astor in her beautiful flat in the Champs Elysées (which she called only a little “pied-à-terre”) gave most enjoyable soirées, and her beautiful manners added not a little to the pleasure of her guests. She had the great charm of making no difference in her welcome, whether the guest was a prince or a poor curate, and one went away with the delightful feeling that you were the person she had most wished to see, and you had given her much pleasure by your presence!
The late Mrs. Warden-Pell also entertained a good deal, and she often, at her afternoon receptions, when great artists delighted her audience, gave young students an opportunity of being heard—an opportunity which was worth a great deal to them, and which they were not slow to appreciate.
Mrs. Whitelaw-Reed, who has since become so well known as the wife of the Ambassador in London, did a great deal for the artists in the Latin quarter, and her work has borne much good fruit.
I must also speak of Mr. and Mrs. Mason, the American Consul and his wife, who have for many years won the love and admiration of all nationalities and classes in the most cosmopolitan town—Paris. Their house is always open to those who require aid or sympathy, and it is not only Americans who seek it there. Mrs. Mason may be seen at all gatherings in any way connected with charity, and we English often forgot that we had no real claim upon her and, I fear, trespassed on her kindness.
I have spoken elsewhere of Mrs. Hoff and the good work she helps so liberally. The annual banquets of the American Chamber of Commerce and the July celebrations were always important functions, and I have thus had the great pleasure of listening to some of the most eloquent speakers in America and France. It was the usual custom to have present a contingent of the “Garde Républicain,” and their bright uniforms added much to the brilliancy of the scene. At one of these functions quite an ovation was given to General Horace Porter. He was the means of restoring to America all that was left of “Paul Jones,” the founder of the American Navy. General Porter paid all the expenses of transport, etc., which were enormous, and the body was taken through the streets with great pomp and “éclat,”—both in Paris and New York.
I cannot mention the many Americans whose kindness to me was unfailing, and can only add that without the Americans in Paris the English Chaplain’s life would be less agreeable, and his financial responsibilities more difficult to maintain.
My departure from Paris came about in rather a curious way. In April and May, 1906, we had a visit from the late Dean Barlow (of Peterboro’). For the first of May (“Labour Day”) we had arranged a Drawing-room Meeting for the Dean on behalf of the Colonial and Continental Church Society, whose work in Canada was, and is, attracting so much attention in religious circles. It turned out, however, to be one of those “scares” with which Paris is sometimes afflicted, and the idea having got abroad that something dreadful was about to happen, only three people turned up! The Dean was very kind about it, and notwithstanding the small number present, gave us a most interesting account of his recent visit to Canada. The next morning when he was leaving, he turned to me and said, “Noyes, how long have you been here?” I told him nearly sixteen years, and added, “You must not leave me here too long.” The Dean had very considerable influence in Church patronage, and when he wrote to me in the spring of 1907, he said, “Do you remember what you said to me when I was leaving your house last year? Well, I have ventured to put your name forward for an important Church in London.” So slight often are the incidents which bring about changes in our lives. I had never heard of St. Mary’s, Kilburn, or been in this part of London before I came over to see the Church.
The saying “good-bye” is always trying, and especially after a long ministry among such a devoted congregation as I had in Paris. I preached a farewell sermon to a large congregation on Friday, June 9th, 1907, and although I struggled hard against it, completely broke down.
The next day I had to face a large gathering in the Washington Palace, to receive a most gratifying testimonial. The spacious room was crowded, and the kind expressions of regret almost overwhelming. It was here I was able to make the announcement that I had received a few days previously from a generous donor, who wished to remain anonymous, the magnificent gift of £4,000 towards the Paris Church House.
The following account appeared in the papers of the succeeding day:—
“At the Washington Palace this afternoon took place the presentation by Mr. Percy Inglis, British Consul-General, to the Rev. H. E. Noyes, D.D., of the testimonial from the congregation of the church in the Rue d’Aguesseau, consisting of an illuminated address, a cheque, and a flagon, in the presence of a large gathering, among whom were Sir Henry Austin Lee, Doctor Sewell, Mr. H. Millington Drake, the Very Rev. Father McMullan, Mr. Lammin, Mr. Le Cocq, and Mr. Coleman. Mr. Inglis read, amid great applause, the address, which is a tribute to the excellent work performed by Doctor Noyes during his sixteen years’ residence in Paris. In his reply Doctor Noyes related all that had been done for the charitable and other institutions of the colony during that period, and spoke very feelingly of the hearty support which he had received throughout from the Embassy and all its members. He noted this as especially interesting, that during that time he had seen four Ambassadors at the mansion in the Faubourg Saint Honoré, and no fewer than five Presidents of the Republic. Great enthusiasm was displayed when the reverend gentleman announced that he had received last week from a donor whose name could not be revealed the magnificent sum of 100,000 frs. for the contemplated clergy house. Afterwards Doctor and Mrs. Noyes took a hearty farewell of all their friends, with the expression of the hope that they would meet again in Paris and at their new home in London.”
My successor, as is well known, is the Right Rev. Bishop Ormsby (late of Honduras), and it is a curious circumstance that when I was curate of St. Matthias’s Church in Dublin, one of the congregation was Judge Ormsby, the father of the Bishop.
I left Paris with many regrets, and often have wondered since whether I had not been there too long to leave it. But the die is cast, and I can only now in quiet moments wander in thought over the familiar scenes, and think of the many kind friends, the memory of whom will never fade.