Biography and family record of Lorenzo Snow/Letter III
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Paris. Visit to Versailles. Bois de Boulogne. St. Cloud. Attend the National Assembly. French glory. Interview with the President of the French Republic. Paris Register speaks of the Party.
PARIS, FRANCE, DECEMBER 18xH, 1872. Editor Deseret News:
We are pleasantly situated at the "Hotel dePetersbourg," in the beau- tiful city of Paris, the capital of lovely, sunny France. Too much cannot be said of the beauty and magnificence of this wonderful city. I will not attempt, at present, to describe all that we have seen of its beauty and grandeur. I have just returned from promenading some of its principal streets, viewing it in its evening splendor, lit up with thirty-two thousand gas burners.
Yesterday we visited Versailles, some twelve miles from Paris. We passed through the forest of Boulogne, admiring the delightful picturesque scenery bordering on the river Seine, passing through a variegated country until we reached St. Cloud, where we alighted from our carriages and walked over the ground where the Prussians planted their artillery to bom- bard the city of Paris, and where many thousands were slain during the late bloody contest. Every building, except the Cathedral, had been demolished; this was preserved by a body of Prussians, who had been sta-
tioned there through the reverential feeling, perhaps, of the Prussian Emperor.
At Versailles we enjoyed magnificent views, comprising objects of almost infinite variety. To me, however, our visit to the National Assem- bly, then in session, was the most interesting, with the exception of our interview with Monsieur Thiers, the president of the French republic, which I will describe presently. The National Assembly comprises seven hundred and fifty-eight deputies, elected by their respective districts in 1871, constituting only a provisional government. How long they may feel disposed to hold office, or the vacillating minds of the people to sustain them, the future will reveal. The political prospects of France are shrouded in fearful mystery at any moment the most terrible scenes may burst upon the country. The National Assembly convenes in that portion of the palace formerly occupied as a theatre, when Versailles was reveling in regal pride and splendor. We owed the privilege of admission to the president of the Assembly, through the request of Monsieur Bartholemy St. Hilaire, private secretary to M. Thiers, to whom we had been intro- duced by Major Lorin. We were accorded seats appropriated to foreign diplomats and embassadors, an honor we appreciated and duly acknowl- edged. The grave, sedate, dignified, bald-headed appearance of this great body of French deputies was rather prepossessing. We spent about an hour in listening to their eloquent and animated speeches. I have alluded to Major Lorin this gentleman distinguished himself as a French officer in the battles fought against Austria and Italy, also in many bloody con- flicts between the French and Prussians. In the late war he commanded about three thousand men. On the establishment of peace, only forty- seven remained; the others were either killed or disabled. The Major was covered with French glory scars and bruises. We had formed an acquaintance with this gentleman, and while visiting Versailles he pro- posed to present our cards to President Thiers and procure us an audience* We accepted the proposition and drove up to the palace of M. Thiers. In a few minutes the Major returned, accompanied by the president's private secretary, who politely stated that M. Thiers would be happy to receive President Smith and party at half-past 9 p. m.
We repaired to the palace at the hour designated. M. Bartholemy St. Hilaire conducted us to the reception hall and introduced us to President Thiers. He was attended by a number of distinguished French gentle- men, principally his cabinet ministers, anxious and curious to witness the interview between the president of the French republic and the delegation from the Latter-day Saints in Utah en route to Palestine. Mr. Thiers' per- sonal appearance impressed us favorably his dignified bearing, plain and
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unassuming manners, with a countenance glowing with benevolence and patriotism. He possesses the reputation of being a good English scholar, but I presume the vast crowd of business of late years has allowed him no time to practise the English language, therefore the conversation was car- ried on in French, Major Lorin acting as interpreter.
After the introduction, President Smith acknowledged our appreciation of the honor accorded the party, in granting this interview that we were from Utah, en route to Palestine, to study the Bible in the land where its recorded events had chiefly transpired that we sympathized with the presi- dent of the French republic in the great cause he is laboring to establish a republic in France, and had sought this occasion of expressing our senti- ments personally.
Upon this being interpreted, President Thiers replied that he was grati- fied with such assurances from Americans, and pleased to meet this delega- tion from Utah, and that he was familiar with the history of our people. We replied that we had been twenty-five years laboring under every possi- ble disadvantage to colonize that portion of our American desert, in order to make a destitute people great and prosperous; that in connection with other objects relating to our tour, we wished to gather information and sta- tistics of the progress of older nations, that through their experience we might more successfully benefit and improve the people we represented.
President Thiers replied that while we remained in France, he should take pleasure in rendering any assistance we might require in the promo- tion of this object.
We acknowledged our appreciation of this courtesy, and thanked him for favors extended to American citizens since the establishment of the French republic.
President Thiers replied that he hoped the peaceful relations now existing between the two governments would never be interrupted.
The interview closed in the following words by President Smith: 4 'President Thiers, God bless you."
These words inspired M. Thiers with renewed interest; he requested the Major to give a literal translation of that expression. The honesty, simplicity and earnestness in which this sentiment was delivered by Presi- dent Smith, not only excited pleasurable emotions in M. Thiers, but also were visible in the features of his ministers who were now crowding around.
President Thiers cordially shook hands with each one of our party. We then repaired to our carriages and returned to Paris the same evening.
Shortly after this interview, the circumstance of our reception was published in several of the French papers. Please accept my regards for yourself and family. LORENZO SNOW.
FROM THE PARIS "AMERICAN REGISTER."
"On Tuesday last, the Mormon party, now passing through Europe on their way to Palestine, visited Versailles and were received in the evening by M. Thiers. The Hon. George A. Smith, leader of the party, gave the president a curious and interesting account of Mormonism in the United States, and stated that the sect which he represents is already composed of about ne hundred and twenty thousand members. Mr. Smith and his party started for Lyons on Thursday, and leave that city to-day for Mar- seilles, where, after remaining a couple of days, they will proceed to Nice.
"Although the Mormon party at present in France disclaim any other motive than that of pleasure and instruction for their proposed visit to Palestine, it is asserted by some who profess to be well informed, that they are going there to explore the ground for the foundation of a new Jeru- salem. We see nothing improbable in this assumption. The people who created a paradise in Salt Lake may well aim at founding an Eden in the land of Prophets.
"The long interview which the Mormon Elders had with the French president, the other day, has, we are informed, seriously disquieted Madame Thiers. Surely at the president's advanced time of life there is no fear of his conversion to Mormon doctrines. As Thiers was born April 16, 1797, and, consequently, will be seventy-six years of age in April next, we sin- cerely sympathize with Madame in her alarm."