Contributed by Kathleen Haynes
Contact Myrtle Bridges June 05, 2008
Paris, August 26, 1912
My dear Mother,
Well, here I finally am. This is it, and it just as wonderful, just as fascinating, as beautiful as
you've heard it is. I think most of the good things of this life that are not lasting, and I say I
think, for the most of them there is probably more pleasure in the anticipation and the retrospect
than even that of the realization. For example, I think that will be true of my trip abroad in its
entirety when I look back on it with all the petty little discomforts sifted out of it. And so I was
afraid I should be disappointed with this leaving so much of it, but I'm not.
I'm at a nice hotel, something of a great moment to me after the rotten dumps I've been putting
up with, and the food I'm quite sure is the best I've ever dreamed of eating, perfectly delicious. I
don't find a thing to kick at and I've a nice room that looks out to the East over the roofs of Paris.
I like the prospect. All the French novels I've read talk of them, Hugo and all the others and I like
to think that it was some window like this through which Mimi was looking as she cried her little sad
As for the Parisian women they're disappointing in their dress. I daresay all the elite are out of
town, but those that are here wear stunning gowns and hats and the most terrible shoes - ugly laces, work
stockings. So the tout ensemble as it were isn't as good as our America. I went to the Opera and heard
Rigoletto sing better that I ever had before. Saw Cappelia dance, tho not better than in Boston, and then
we went to Maxims and des Ambas - sad Euros, and all the other notorious cafes of Paris. It's most interesting
to walk along the Boulevards. I had several boy friends here and we went around a good deal - only the 'life'
you hear so much of is so mercenary - so false and hollow all for the Americans you know, and so much fills
you with pity more than anything else. But I saw it all, and if anything was disappointing, it was the French.
The men and the women are far below the Germans.
I went to the beautiful Luxembourg and I don't think there were two pictures that I didn't like, tho I
couldn't say the same for the sculptures. There was the Mater Consolatrix and the lovely Whistler's Mother,
oh so beautiful in her simplicity - and many, many others; then to the Louvre which I can never tell you all
about and am going to try and finish tomorrow. And to Notre Dame and then to the church from whose tower the
signal for St. Bartholomew was given and to the Hotel de Ville and the Place de la Bastille, and the Pantheon
where are France's illustrious dead and Versailles with its palaces and fountains and parks and St. Cloud, and
then all the boulevards and the Champs Elysees and the Place de la Concorde where the stature of Strasburg is
draped in mourning for the loss of Alsace Lorraine, and where the House of Moliere was, and the house where
D'Artagnan lived, now covered by a dry goods store. Tell Frank I thought about him there. And so I could run on
and on naming streets and palaces and monuments and delightful vistas and then cross some of the beautiful bridges
and do the same on the other bank. To the Palace of Justice and the Conciergiere where Marie Antoinette was imprisoned,
and Robespierre, and so many others, and back again to the Louvre to see some more. And to Des Invalides, the museums
that contained so much relating to the first empire - relics of various marshals and even the Emperor - his hat and
pistols and sword and the famous gray coat and the bed he had at St Helena, and relics of the King of Rome - little
toys and some of his hair and a little sword, all so very interesting to me. And then I went to his tomb. I'm quite
sure I felt more emotion than ever before in all my life as I looked down - I mean more moved - it's most impressive
to anyone, tho I know you'll laugh at that. The magnificent Las Coragus is down below, and around all statues are
names of twelve of his victories and captured battle flags - English, Russian, French, Austrian, Spanish and Prussian.
I made out perhaps more and all the light is a faint blue and much better than that at Charlottenberg.
It's easilythe most impressive thing I ever saw. I went with a friend of mine named Stoddard who is here studying
from Harvard, and he hates the man and in talking he says, "Don you ought to have come here with my father, he worships
him", and his father you see is the great Cotswold and Travelleer and wrote a book which used to be one of my chiefest
delights. I thought all that was singular, but don't tell it for any coincidence. I've seen loads and loads of people
here that I know, chiefly from the North - and have met others. Saw Walter Houghson (the son of the former rector)
the other night. I never forget faces you know.
I'm leaving tomorrow for London, and if I can I shall certainly sail home earlier, tho getting passage will be
difficult. I'm well, but thoroughly tired. It's cold and disagreeable weather - rains every day, and has for over a
month and my little country trips thru England won't be any fun now. Am quite well.
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