Clemenceau, the Man and His Time

By H. M. Hyndman | Go to book overview

CLEMENCEAU


CHAPTER I
EARLY LIFE

WE are all accustomed to think of La Vendée as that Province of France which is most deeply imbued with tradition, legend and religion. Even in this period of almost universal skepticism and free thought, the peasants of La Vendée keep tight hold of their ancient ideas, in which the pagan superstitions of long ago are curiously interwoven with the fading Catholicism of today. Nowhere in France are the ceremonies of the Church more devoutly observed; nowhere, in spite of the spread of modern education, are the people as a whole more attached to the creed of their forefathers. Here whole crowds of genuine believers can still display that fervor of religious enthusiasm which moved masses of their countrymen to such heroic self-sacrifice for a losing and hopeless cause more than four generations since. Even men who have little sympathy with either theological or social conventions of the past are stirred by the simple piety of these people, uplifted for the moment out of the sordid and monotonous surroundings of their daily toil by the collective inspiration of a common faith.

Here, too, in the Bocage of La Vendée, amid the heather and the forest, interspersed with acres of care-

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