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by [?]

The father of Camille Corot was a peasant who drifted over to Paris to make his fortune. He was active, acute, intelligent and economical–and when a Frenchman is economical his economy is of a kind that makes the Connecticut brand look like extravagance.

This young man became a clerk in a drygoods-store that had a millinery attachment, as most French drygoods-stores have. He was precise, accurate, had a fair education, and always wore a white cravat. In the millinery department of this store was employed, among many others, a Swiss girl who had come up to Paris on her own account to get a knowledge of millinery and dressmaking. When this was gained she intended to go back to Switzerland, the land of liberty and Swiss cheese, and there live out her life in her native village making finery for the villagers for a consideration.

She did not go back to Switzerland, because she very shortly married the precise young drygoods-clerk who wore the white cravat.

The Swiss are the most competent people on this globe of ours, which is round like an orange and slightly flattened at the poles. There is less illiteracy, less pauperism, less drunkenness, more general intelligence, more freedom in Switzerland than in any other country on earth. This has been so for two hundred years: and the reason, some say, is that she has no standing army and no navy. She is surrounded by big nations that are so jealous of her that they will not allow each other to molest her. She is not big enough to fight them. Being too little to declare war, she makes a virtue of necessity and so just minds her own business. That is the only way an individual can succeed–mind your own business–and it is also the best policy with a nation.

The way the Swiss think things out with their heads and materialize them with their hands is very wonderful. In all the Swiss schools the pupils draw, sew, carve wood and make things. Pestalozzi was Swiss, and Froebel was more Swiss than German. Manual Training and the Kindergarten are Swiss ideas. All of our progress in the line of pedagogy that the years have brought has consisted in carrying Kindergarten Ideas into the Little Red Schoolhouse, and elsewhere. The world is debtor to the Swiss–the carmine of their ideas has tinted the whole thought-fabric of civilization.

The Swiss know how.

Skilled workmen from Switzerland are in demand everywhere.

That Swiss girl in the Paris shop was a skilled needlewoman, and the good taste and talent she showed in her work was a joy to her employers. There are hints that they tried to discourage her marriage with the clerk in the white cravat. What a loss to the art world if they had succeeded! But love is stronger than business ambition, and so the milliner married the young clerk, and they had a very modest little nest to which they flew when the day’s work was done.

In a year a domestic emergency made it advisable for the young woman to stay at home, but she kept right along with her sewing. Some of the customers hunted her up and wanted her to do work for them.

When the stress of the little exigency was safely passed, the young mother found she could make more by working at home for special customers. A girl was hired to help her, then two–three.

The rooms downstairs were secured, and a show-window put in. This was at the corner of the Rue du Bac and the Pont Royal, within sight of the Louvre. It is an easy place to find, and you had better take a look at the site the next time you are in Paris–it is sacred soil.

Corot has told us much about his mother–a Frenchman is apt to regard his father simply as a necessary though often inconvenient appendage, possibly absorbing the idea from the maternal side of the house–but his mother is his solace, comforter and friend. The mother of Corot was intelligent, industrious, tactful; sturdy in body and strong in mind.