There was a great Exhibition at Paris in 1890.
I had read about its elaborate preparations, and I also had a keen desire to see Paris.
So I thought I had better combine two things in one and go there at this juncture. A particular attraction of the Exhibition was the Eiffel Tower, constructed entirely of iron, and nearly 1,000 feet high.
There were of course many other things of interest, but the Tower was the chief one, since it had been supposed till then that a structure of that height could not safely stand.
I had heard of a vegetarian restaurant in Paris. I engaged a room there and stayed seven days. I managed everything very economically, both the journey to Paris and the sight-seeing there.
This I did mostly on foot and with the help of a map of Paris, as also a map of the guide to the Exhibition. These were enough to direct one to the main streets and chief places of interest. I remember nothing of the Exhibition except its magnitude and variety.
I have a fair recollection of the Eiffel Tower as I ascended it twice or thrice. There was a restaurant on the first platform, and just for the satisfaction of being able to say that I had had my lunch at a great height, I threw away seven shillings on it.
The ancient churches of Paris are still in my memory. Their grandeur and their peacefulness are unforgettable. The wonderful construction of Notre Dame and the elaborate decoration of the interior with its beautiful sculptures cannot be forgotten.
I felt then that those who expended millions on such divine cathedrals could not but have the love of God in their hearts.
I had read a lot about the fashions and frivolity of Paris. These were in evidence in every street, but the churches stood noticeably apart from these scenes. A man would forget the outside noise and bustle as soon as he entered one of these churches.
His manner would change, he would behave with dignity and reverence as he passed someone kneeling before the image of the Virgin.
The feeling I had then has since been growing on me, that all this kneeling and prayer could not be mere superstition; the devout souls kneeling before the Virgin could not be worshipping mere marble.
They were fired with genuine devotion and they worshipped not stone, but the divinity of which it was symbolic.
I have an impression that I felt then that by this worship they were not detracting from, but increasing, the glory of God. ~ THE GREAT EXHIBITION –