The Project Gutenberg EBook of About Paris, by Richard Harding Davis

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Title: About Paris

Author: Richard Harding Davis

Illustrator: Charles Dana Gibson

Release Date: August 2, 2016 [EBook #52706]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


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Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
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OUR ENGLISH COUSINS. Illustrated. Post 8vo,
Cloth, Ornamental, $1 25.

Illustrated. Post 8vo, Cloth, Ornamental, $1 25.

Post 8vo, Cloth, Ornamental, $1 25.

Post 8vo, Cloth, Ornamental, $1 50.

VAN BIBBER, AND OTHERS. Illustrated. Post
8vo, Cloth, Ornamental, $1 00; Paper, 60 cents.

Published by HARPER & BROTHERS, New York.

Copyright, 1895, by Harper & Brothers.

All rights reserved.

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The street that I knew best in Paris was an unimportant street, and one into which important people seldom came, and then only to pass on through it to the Rue de Rivoli, which ran parallel with it, or to the Rue Castiglione, which cut it evenly in two. It was to them only the shortest distance between two points, for the sidewalks of this street were not sprinkled with damp sawdust and set out with marble-topped tables under red awnings, nor were there the mirrors and windows of jewellers and milliners along its course to make one turn and look. It was interesting only to those people who lived upon it, and to us perhaps only for that reason. [Pg 2] If you judged it by the circumstance that we all spent our time in hanging out of the windows, and that the concierge of each house stood continually at the front door, you would suppose it to be a most interesting thoroughfare, in which things were always happening. What did happen was not interesting to the outsider, and you had to live in it some time before you could appreciate the true value of the street. With one exception. This was the great distinction of our street, and one of which we were very proud. A poet had lived in his way, and loved in his way, in one of the houses, and had died there. You could read the simple, unromantic record of this in big black letters on a tablet placed evenly between the two windows of the entresol. It gave a distinguished air to that house, and rendered it different from all of the others, as a Legion of Honor on the breast of a French soldier makes him conspicuous amongst his fellows.

né à Paris
Le 11 Décembre 1810
est mort
dans cette maison
Le 2 Mai 1857

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We were all pleased when people stopped and read this inscription. We took it as a tribute to the importance of our street, and we felt a proprietary interest in that tablet and in that house, as though this neighborly association with genius was something to our individual credit.

We had other distinguished people in our street, but they were very much alive, and their tablets were colored ones drawn by Chéret, and pasted up all over Paris in endless repetition; and though their celebrity may not live as long as has the poet's, while they are living they seem to enjoy life as fully as he did, and to get out of the present all that the present has to give.

The one in which we all took the most interest lived just across the street from me, and by looking up a little you could see her looking out of her window, with her thick, heavy black hair bound in bandeaux across her forehead, and a great diamond horseshoe pinned at her throat, and with just a touch of white powder showing on her nose and cheeks. She looked as though she should have lived by rights in the Faubourg St.-Germain, and she used to smile down rather kindly upon the street with a haughty, tolerant look, as if it amused her by its simplicity and idleness, and by the quietness, which only the [Pg 6] cries of the children or of the hucksters, or the cracking at times of a coachman's whip, ever broke. She looked very well then, but it was in the morning that the street saw her at her best. For it was then that she went out to ride in the Bois in her Whitechapel cart, and as she never awoke in time, apparently, we had the satisfaction of watching the pony and the tiger and cart for an hour or two until she came. It was a brown basket-cart, and the tiger used to walk around it many times to see that it had not changed in any particular since he had examined it three minutes before, and the air with which he did this gave us an excellent idea of the responsibility of his position. So that people passing stopped and looked too—bakers' boys in white linen caps and with baskets on their arms, and commissionnaires in cocked hats and portfolios chained to their persons, and gentlemen freshly made up for the morning, with waxed mustaches and flat-brimmed high hats, and little girls with plaits, and little boys with bare legs; and all of us in-doors, as soon as we heard the pony stamp his sharp hoofs on the asphalt, would drop books or razors or brooms or mops and wait patiently at the window until she came.

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When she came she wore a black habit with fresh white gloves, holding her skirt and crop in one hand, and the crowd would separate on either side of her. She did not see the crowd. She was used to crowds, and she would pat the pony's head or rub his ears with the fresh kid gloves, and tighten the buckle or shift a strap with an air quite as knowing as the tiger's, but not quite so serious. Then she would wrap the lap-robe about her, and her maid would take her place at her side with the spaniel in her arms, and she would give the pony the full length of the lash, and he would go off like a hound out of the leash. They always reached the corner before the tiger was able to overtake them, and I believe it was the hope of seeing him some morning left behind forever which led to the general interest in their departure. And when they had gone, the crowd would look at the empty place in the street, and at each other, and up at us in the windows, and then separate, and the street would grow quiet again. One could see her again later, if one wished, in the evening, riding a great horse around the ring, in another habit, but with the same haughty smile; and as the horse reared on his hind-legs, and kicked and plunged as though he would fall back on her, she would smile at him as she did on the children in [Pg 8] our street, with the same unconcerned, amused look that she would have given to a kitten playing with its tail.

The houses on our street had tall yellow fronts with gray slate roofs, and roof-gardens of flowers and palms in pots. Some of the houses had iron balconies, from which the women leaned and talked across the street to one another in purring nasal voices, with a great rolling of the r's and an occasional disdainful movement of the shoulders. When any other than a French woman shrugs her shoulders she moves the whole upper part of her body, from the hips up; but the French woman's shoulders and arms are all that change when she makes that ineffable gesture that we have settled upon as the characteristic one of her nation.

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In a street of like respectability to ours in London or New York those who lived on it would know as little of their next-door neighbor as of a citizen at another end of the town. The house fronts would tell nothing to the outside world; they would frown upon each other like family tombs in a cemetery; but in this street of Paris the people lived in it, or on the balconies, or at the windows. We knew what they were going to have for dinner, because we could see them carrying the uncooked portions of it from the restaurant at the corner, with a long loaf of bread under one arm and a single egg in the other hand; and when some one gave a fête we knew of it by the rows of bottles on the ledge of the window and the jellies set out to cool on the balcony. We were all interested in the efforts of the stout gentleman in the short blue smoking-jacket who taught his parrot to call to the coachman of each passing fiacre; he did this every night after dinner, with his cigarette in his mouth, and with great patience and good-nature. We took a common pride also in the flower-garden of the young people on the seventh floor, and in their arrangement of strings upon which the vines were to grow, and in the lines of roses, which dropped their petals whenever the wind blew, upon the head of the concierge, so that she would look up and shake her head at them, and then go inside and get a broom and sweep the leaves carefully away. When any one in our street went off in his best clothes in a fiacre we looked after him with envy, and yet with a certain pride that we lived with such fortunate people, who were evidently much sought after in the fashionable world; and when a musician or [Pg 12-14] a blind man broke the silence of our street with his music or his calls, we vied with one another in throwing him coppers—not on his account at all, but because we wished to stand well in the opinion of our neighbors. It was like camping out on two sides of a valley where every one could look over into the other's tent.

There was a young couple near the corner, who, I think, had but lately married, and every evening she used to watch for him in a fresh gown for a half-hour or so before he came. During the day she wore a very plain gown, and her eyes wandered everywhere; but during that half-hour before he came she never changed her position nor relaxed her vigil. And it made us all quite uncomfortable, and we could not give our attention to anything else until he had turned the corner and waved his hand, and she had answered him with a start and a little shrug of content. After dinner they appeared together, and he would put his arm around her waist, with that refreshing disregard for the world that French lovers have, and they would smile down upon us in a very happy and superior manner, or up at the sun as it sank a brilliant red at the end of our street, with the hundreds of chimney-pots looking like black musical notes against it. [Pg 15] There was also a very interesting old lady in the house that blocked the end of our street, a very fat and masculine old lady in a loose white wrapper, who spent all of her time rearranging her plants and flowers, and kept up an amiable rivalry with the people in the balconies above and below her in the abundance and verdure of her garden. It was a very pleasant competition for the rest of us, as it hung that end of the street with a curtain of living green.


For a little time there was a young girl who used to sit upon the balcony whenever the sun was brightest and the air not too chill; but she took no interest in the street, for she knew nothing of it except its noises. She lay always in an invalid's chair, looking up at the sky and the roof-line above, and with her profile against the gray wall. During the day a nurse in a white cap sat with her; but after dinner a stout, jaunty man of middle age came back from his club or his bureau, and took the place beside her until it grew dark, when he and the nurse would lift her in-doors again, and he would take his hat and go off to the boulevards, I suppose, to cheer himself a bit. It did not last long, for one day I came home to find them taking down a black-and-silver curtain from the front of the house, and the [Pg 16] concierge said that the girl had been buried, and that her father was now quite alone. For the first week after that he did not go to the boulevards, but used to sit out on the balcony until late into the evening, with the night about him, so that we would not have known he was there save for the light of his cigar burning in the darkness.

The step from our street to the boulevards is a much longer one in the imagination than in actual distance. Our street, after all, was only typical of thousands of other Parisian streets, and when you have explained it you have described miles after miles of other streets like it. But there is nothing just like the boulevards. If you should wish to sit at the exact centre of the world and to watch it revolve around you, you have only to take your place at that corner table of the Café de la Paix which juts the farthest out into the Avenue de l'Opéra and the Boulevard Capucines. This table is the apex of all the other tables. It turns the tides of pedestrians on the broad sidewalks of both the great thoroughfares, and it is geographically situated exactly under the "de la" of the "Café de la Paix," painted in red letters on the awning over your head. From this admirable position you can [Pg 17] sweep the square in front of the Opera-house, the boulevard itself, and the three great streets running into it from the river. People move obligingly around and up and down and across these, and if you sit there long enough you will see every one worth seeing in the known world.

There is a large class of Parisians whose knowledge of that city is limited to the boulevards. They neither know nor care to know of any other part; we read about them a great deal, of them and their witticisms and café politics; and what "the boulevards" think of this or that is as seriously quoted as what "a gentleman very near the President," or "a diplomat whose name I am requested not to give, but who is in a position to know whereof he speaks," cares to say of public matters at home. For my part, I should think an existence limited to two sidewalks would be somewhat sad, especially if it were continued into the middle age, which all boulevardiers seem to have already attained. It does not strike one as a difficult school to enter, or as one for which there is any long apprenticeship. You have only to sit for an hour every evening under the "de la," and you will find that you know by sight half the faces of the men who pass you, who [Pg 18] come up suddenly out of the night and disappear again, like slides in a stereopticon, or whom you find next you when you take your place, and whom you leave behind, still sipping from the half-empty glasses ordered three hours before you came.

The man who goes to Paris for a summer must be a very misanthropic and churlish individual if he tires of the boulevards in that short period. There is no place so amusing for the stranger between the hours of six and seven and eleven and one as these same boulevards; but to the Parisian what a bore it must become! That is, what a bore it would become to any one save a Parisian! To have the same fat man with the sombrero and the waxed mustache snap patent match-boxes in your face day after day and night after night, and to have "Carnot at Longchamps" taking off his hat and putting it on again held out for your inspection for weeks, and to seek the same insipid silly faces of boys with broad velvet collars and stocks, which they believe are worn by Englishmen, and the same pompous gentlemen who cut their white goatees as do military men of the Second Empire, and who hope that the ruddiness of their cheeks, which is due to the wines of Burgundy, will be attributed to the suns of Tunis and Algiers. And the same women, the one with the mustache and the younger one with the black curl, and the hundreds of others, silent and panther-like, and growing obviously more ugly as the night grows later and the streets more deserted. If any one aspires to be known among such as these, his aspirations are easily gratified. He can have his heart's desire; he need only walk the boulevards for a week, and he will be recognized as a boulevardier. It is a cheap notoriety, purchased at the expense of the easy exercise of walking, and the cost of some few glasses of "bock," with a few cents to the waiter. There is much excuse for the visitor; he is really to be envied; it is all new and strange and absurd to him; but what an old, old story it must be to the boulevardier!

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The visitor, perhaps, has never sat out-of-doors before and taken his ease on the sidewalk. Yet it seems a perfectly natural thing to do, until he imagines himself doing the same thing at home. There was a party of men and women from New York sitting in front of the Café de la Paix one night after the opera, and enjoying themselves very much, until one of them suggested their doing the same thing the next month at home.[Pg 22] "We will all take chairs," he said, "and sit at the corner of Twenty-sixth Street and Broadway at twelve o'clock at night and drink bock-bier," and the idea was so impossible that the party promptly broke up and went to their hotels.

Of course the visitor in Paris misses a great deal that the true boulevardier enjoys through not knowing or understanding all that he sees. But, on the other hand, he has an advantage in being able to imagine that he is surrounded by all the famous journalists and poets and noted duellists; and every clerk with a portfolio becomes a Deputy, and every powdered and auburn-haired woman who passes in an open fiacre is a celebrated actress of the Comédie Française. He can distribute titles as freely as the Papal court, and transform long-haired students into members of the Institute, and promote the boys of the Polytechnic School, in their holiday cocked hats and play-swords, into lieutenants and captains of the regular army. He believes that the ill-looking individual in rags who shows such apparent fear of the policeman on the corner really has forbidden prints and books to sell, and that the guides who hover about like vultures looking for a fresh victim have it in their power to show him things to which they only hold the key—things which any Frenchman could tell him he could see at his own [Pg 23] home if he has the taste for such sights.

The best of the boulevards is that the people sitting on their sidewalks, and the heavy green trees, and the bare heads of so many of the women, make one feel how much out-of-doors he is, as no other street or city does, and what a folly it is to waste time within walls. I do not think we appreciate how much we owe to the women in Paris who go without bonnets. They give the city so homelike and friendly an air, as though every woman knew every other woman so well that she did not mind running across the street to gossip with her neighbor without the formality of a head-covering. And it really seems strange that the prettiest bonnets should come from the city where the women of the poorer classes have shown how very pretty a woman of any class can look without any bonnet at all.

The enduring nature of the boulevards impresses one who sees them at different hours as much as does their life and gayety at every hour. You sometimes think surely to-morrow they will rest, and the cafés will be closed, and the long passing stream of cabs and omnibuses [Pg 24] will stop, and the asphalt street will be permitted to rest from its burden. You may think this at night, but when you turn up again at nine the next morning you will find it all just as you left it at one the same morning. The same waiters, the same rush of carriages, the same ponderous omnibuses with fine straining white horses, the flowers in the booths, and the newspapers neatly piled round the colored kiosks.

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The Champs Élysées is hardly a street, but as a thoroughfare it is the most remarkable in the world. It is a much better show than are the boulevards. The place for which you pay to enter is generally more interesting than the place to which admittance is free, and any one can walk along the boulevards, but to ride in the Champs Élysées you must pay something, even if you take your fiacre by the hour. Some Parisians regret that the Avenue des Champs Élysées should be so cheapened that it is not reserved for carriages hired by the month, and not by the course, and that omnibuses and hired cabs are not kept out of it, as they are kept out of Hyde Park. But should this rule obtain the Avenue des Champs Élysées would lose the most amusing of its features. It would shut out the young married couples and their families and friends in their gala clothes, which look strangely unfamiliar in the sunlight, and make you think that the wearers have been up all night; and the hundreds of girls in pairs from the Jardin de Paris, who have halved the expense of a fiacre, but who cannot yet afford a brougham; and the English tourists dressed in flannel shirts and hunting-caps and knickerbockers, exactly as though they were penetrating the mountains of Afghanistan or the deserts of Syria, and as unashamed of their provincialism as the young marquis who passes on his dog-cart is unashamed of having placed the girl with him on his right hand instead of his left, though by so doing he tells every one who passes who and what she is. It would shut out the omnibuses, with the rows of spectators on their tops, who lean on their knees and look down into the carriages below, and point out the prettiest gowns and faces; and it would exclude the market-wagons laden with huge piles of yellow carrots and purple radishes, with a woman driving on the box-seat, and a dog chained beside her. There is no other place in the world, unless it be Piccadilly at five o'clock in the afternoon, where so many breeds of horses trot side by side, where the chains of the baron banker and the cracking whip of a drunken cabman and the horn of some [Pg 28] American millionaire's four-in-hand all sound at the same time. To be known is easy in the boulevards, but it is a distinction in the Avenue des Champs Élysées—a distinction which costs much money and which lasts an hour. Sometimes it is gained by liveries and trappings and a large red rosette in the button-hole, or by driving the same coach at the same hour at the same rate of speed throughout the season, or by wearing a fez, or by sending two sais ahead of your cart to make a way for it, or by a beautiful face and a thoroughbred pug on a cushion at your side, although this last mode is not so easy, as there are many pretty faces and many softly cushioned victorias and innumerable pug-dogs, and when the prevailing color for the hair happens to be red—as it was last summer—the chance of gaining any individuality becomes exceedingly difficult. When all of these people meet in the afternoon on their way to and from the Bois, there is no better entertainment of the sort in the world, and the avenue grows much too short, and the hours before dinner even shorter. There are women in light billowy toilets, with elbows squared and whip in hand, fearlessly driving great English horses from the top of a mail-phaeton, while a [Pg 29] frightened little English groom clutches at the rail and peers over their shoulder to grasp the reins if need be, or to jump if he must. And there are narrow-chested corseted and padded young Frenchmen in white kid gloves, who hold one rein in each hand as little girls hold a skipping-rope, and who imagine they are so like Englishmen that no one can distinguish them even by their accent. There are fat Hebrew bankers and their equally fat sons in open victorias, who, lacking the spirit of the Frenchmen, who at least attempt to drive themselves, recline consciously on cushions, like the poodles in the victorias of the ladies with the red hair. There are also visiting princes from India or pashas from Egypt; or diplomats of the last Spanish-American republic, as dark as the negroes of Sixth Avenue, but with magnificent liveries and clanking chains; the nabobs of Haiti, of Algiers and Tunis, and with these the beautiful Spanish-looking woman from South America, the wives of the rastaqouères; and mixed with these is the long string of bookmakers and sporting men coming back from the races at Longchamps or Auteuil, red-faced and hot and dusty, with glasses strapped around them, and the badges still flying from their button-holes. There are [Pg 30] three rows of carriages down and three of carriages up, and if you look from the Arc de Triomphe to the Tuileries you see a broken mass of glittering carriage-tops and lace parasols, and what looks like the flashing of thousands of mirrors as the setting sun strikes on the glass of the lamps and windows and on the lacquered harness and polished mountings. Whether you view this procession from the rows of green iron seats on either side or as a part of it, you must feel lifted up by its movement and color and the infinite variety of its changes. A man might live in the Champs Élysées for a week or a month, seeing no more of Paris than he finds under its beautiful trees or on its broad thoroughfare, and be so well content with that much of the city as to prefer it to all other cities.

There was a little fat man in his shirt sleeves one morning in front of the Theatre of the Republic, which, as everybody knows, stands under the trees in the Champs Élysées, on the Rue Matignon, hanging a new curtain, and the fat man, as the proprietor and manager, was naturally anxious. Two small boys with their bare legs, and leather belts about their smocks, and a nurse with broad blue ribbons down her back, and myself looked our admiration from the outside of the roped enclosure. The orchestra had laid down its fiddle, and was helping the man who takes the twenty centimes to adjust the square yard of canvas. The proprietor placed his fat fingers on the small of his back and threw his head to one side and shut one eye. We waited breathlessly for his opinion. He took two steps backward from the ten-centime seats, and studied the effect of the curtain from that distance, with his chin thrown up and his arms folded severely. We suggested that it was an improvement on the old curtain, and one that would be sure to catch the passer's eye.

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"Possibly," the proprietor said, indulgently, and then wiped his brow and shook his head. He told us we had little idea how great were the trials of an impresario of an open-air theatre in the Champs Élysées. What with the rent and the cost of the costumes and the employment of three assistants—one to work the marionettes, and one to take up the money, and one to play in the orchestra—expenses did run up. Of course there was madame, his wife, who made costumes herself better than those that could be bought at the regular costumers', and that was a saving; and then she also helped in working the figures when there were more than two on the scene at once, but this was hard upon her, [Pg 34] as she was stout, and the heat at the top of the tin-roofed theatre up among the dusty flies was trying. And then, I suggested, there was much competition. The proprietor waved a contemptuous dismissal of the claims of the four little theatres about him. It was not their rivalry that he cared for. It is true the seats were filled, but with whom? Ah, yes, with whom? He placed his finger at the side of his nose, and winked and nodded his head mysteriously. With the friends of the proprietor, of course. Poor non-paying acquaintances to make a show, and attract others less knowing to a very inferior performance. Now here with him everybody paid, and received the worth of his money many times. Perhaps I had not seen the performance; in that case I should surely do so. The clown and the donkey-cart were very amusing, and the dancing skeleton, which came to pieces before the audience and frightened the gendarme, was worthy of my approval. So the two small boys and the nurse and the baby and I dodged under the rope and waited for the performance.

The idle man, who knows that "they also serve who only stand and wait," must find the Champs Élysées the most acceptable of all places [Pg 35] for such easy service. There are at one corner the stamp-collectors to entertain him, with their scrap-books and market-baskets full of their precious bits of colored paper, gathered from all over the known world, comparing and examining their treasures, bargaining with easy good-nature and with the zeal of enthusiasts. Three times a week he will find this open market or exchange under the trees, where old men and little boys and pretty young girls meet together and chatter over their common hobby, and swap Columbian stamps for those of some French protectorate, and of many other places of which they know nothing save that it has a post-office of its own. At another corner there are smoothly-shaven men and plump, well-fed-looking women waiting to take service on some gentleman's box-seat or in front of some lady's cooking-stove—an intelligence office where there is no middleman to whom they must pay a fee, and where, while they wait for a possible employer, they hold an impromptu picnic, and pay such gallant compliments that one can see they have lived much in the fashionable world.

Or the idler can drop into a chair in one of the cafés chantants on an off day, when there is no regular performance, but a rehearsal, [Pg 36] to which the public is neither invited nor forbidden. It is an entertaining place in which to spend an hour or two, with something to drink in front of you, and a cigar, and the sun shining through the trees upon the mirrors and artificial flowers and the gaudy hangings of the stage. Here you will see Mlle. Nicolle as she is in her moments of leisure. The night before she wore a greasy gingham gown, with her hair plastered over her forehead in oily flat curls, as a laundress or charwoman of Montmartre might wear them. Now she is fashionably dressed in black, with white lace over it, and with a lace parasol, which she swings from her finger in time to the music, while the other artists of the Ambassadeurs' stand farther up the stage waiting their turn, or politely watch her from the front. The girl who chalked her face as Pierrot the evening before follows her in a blue boating-dress and a kick at the end of it, which she means to introduce later in the same day; and the others comment audibly on it from their seats, calling her by her first name, and disagreeing with the leader of the orchestra as to the particular note upon which the kick should come, while he turns in his seat with his violin on his knee and argues it out with them, shrugging his shoulders, and making passes in the air with his lighted cigarette as though it were a baton.

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Two gendarmes, with their capes folded and thrown over their shoulders, come in and stand with the waiters, surveying the rehearsal with critical disapproval, and the woman who collects the pennies for the iron seats in the avenue takes a few moments' recess, and brings with her two nurse-maids, with their neglected charges swinging by the silken straps around their silken bodies. And so they all stand at one side and gaze with large eyes at the breathless, laughing young woman on the stage above them, who runs and kicks and runs back and kicks again, reflected many times in the background of mirrors around her; and then the two American song-and-dance men, and the English acrobats, and the Italian who owns the performing dogs, and the smooth-faced French comédiennes, and all the idle gentlemen with glasses of bock before them, sit up as though some one had touched their shoulders with a whip, and all the actresses smile politely, and look with pressed lips and half-closed eyes at a very tall woman with red hair, who walks erectly down the stage with a roll of music in her gloved hands. This is Yvette Guilbert, the most artistic and the most improper of all the women of the cafés chantants. She is also the most [Pg 40] graceful. You can see that even now when she is off her guard. She could not make an ungraceful gesture even after long practice, and when she shudders and jumps at a false note from the orchestra she is still graceful.

When the rehearsal is finished you can cross the Place de la Concorde and hang over the stone parapet, and watch the Deputies coming over the bridge, or the men washing the dogs in the Seine, and shaving and trimming their tufts of curly hair, and twisting their mustaches into military jauntiness; or you can turn your back to this and watch the thousands of carriages and cabs and omnibuses crossing the great square before you from the eight streets opening into it, with the water of the fountains in the middle blown into spray by the wind, and turned into the colors of the rainbow by the sun. This great, beautiful open place, even to one accustomed to city streets and their monuments, seems to change more rapidly and to form with greater life than any other spot in the world, and its great stupid obelisk in the centre appears to rise like a monster exclamation-point of wonder at what it sees about it, and with the surprise over all of finding itself in the centre of it.

[Pg 41-42]


[Pg 43]

You cannot say you have seen the streets of Paris until you have walked them at sunrise; every one has seen them at night, but he must watch them change from night to day before he can claim to have seen them at their best. I walked under the arches of the Rue de Rivoli one morning when it was so dark that they looked like the cloisters of some great monastery, and it was impossible to believe that the empty length of the Rue Cambon had but an hour before been blocked by the blazing front of the Olympia, and before that with rows of carriages in front of the two Columbins. There were a few belated cabs hugging the sidewalk, with their drivers asleep on the boxes, and a couple of gendarmes slouching together across the Place de la Concorde made the only sound of life in the whole city. The Seine lay as motionless as water in a bath-tub, and the towers of Notre Dame rising out of the mist at one end, and the round bulk of the Trocadéro bounding it at the other, seemed to limit the river to what one could see of its silent surface from the Bridge of the Deputies. The Eiffel Tower, the great skeleton of the departed exposition, disappeared and reformed itself again as drifting clouds of mist swept through it and cut its great ugly length into fragments hung in mid-air. As the light grew [Pg 44] in strength the façades of the government buildings grew in outline, as though one were focussing them through an opera-glass, and the pillars of the Madeleine took form and substance; then the whole great square showed itself, empty and deserted. The darkness had hidden nothing more terrible than the clean asphalt and the motionless statues of the cities of France.

A solitary fiacre passed me slowly with no one on the box, but with the coachman sitting back in his cab. He was returning to the stables, evidently, and had on his way given a seat to a girl from the street, whom he was now entertaining with genial courtesy. He had one leg thrown over the other, and one arm passed back along the top of the seat, and with the other he waved to the great buildings as they sprang up into life as the day grew. The girl beside him was smiling at his pleasantries, while the rising sun showed how tired and pale she was, and mocked at the paint around her sleepy eyes. The horse stumbled at every sixth step, and then woke again, while the whip rocked and rolled fantastically in its socket like a drunken man. From up the avenue of the Champs Élysées came the first of the heavy market-wagons, with the driver asleep on the bench, and his lantern burning dully in the early [Pg 45] light. Back of him lay the deserted stretch of the avenue, strange and unfamiliar in its emptiness—save for the great arch that rose against the dawn, and seemed, from its elevation on the very top of the horizon, to serve as a gateway into the skies beyond. The air in the Champs Élysées was heavy with a perfume of flowers and of green plants, and the leaves dripped damp and cool with the dew. Hundreds of birds sang and chattered as though they knew the solitude was theirs but for only one more brief hour, and that they then must give way to the little children, and later to crowds of idle men and women. It seemed impossible that but a few hours before Duclerc had filled these silent, cool woods with her voice—Duclerc, with her shoulder-straps slipping to her elbows and her white powdered arms tossing in the colored lights of the serpentine dance. The long, gaudy lithographs on the bill-boards and the arches of colored lamps stood out of the silence and fresh beauty of the hour like the relics of some feast which should have been cleared away before the dawn, and the theatres themselves looked like temples to a heathen idol in some primeval wood. And as I passed out from under the cool trees to the silent avenues I felt as though I had [Pg 46] caught Paris napping, and when she was off her guard, and good and fresh and sweet, and had discovered a hidden trait in her many-sided character, a moment of which she would be ashamed an hour or two later, as cynics are ashamed of their secret acts of charity.

[Pg 47]


PARIS is the only city in the world which the visitor from the outside positively refuses to take seriously. He may have come to Paris with an earnest purpose to study art, or to investigate the intricacies of French law, or the historical changes of the city; or, if it be a woman, she may have come to choose a trousseau; but no matter how serious his purpose may be, there is always some one part of each day when the visitor rests from his labors and smiles indulgently and does as the Parisians do. Whether the city or the visitor is responsible for this, whether Paris adopts the visitor, or the visitor adapts himself to his surroundings, it is impossible to say. But there is certainly no other capital of the world in which the stranger so soon takes on the local color, in which he becomes so soon acclimated, and which brings [Pg 48] to light in him so many new and unsuspected capacities for enjoyment and adventure.

Americans go to London for social triumph or to float railroad shares, to Rome for art's sake, and to Berlin to study music and to economize; but they go to Paris to enjoy themselves. And there are no young men of any nation who enter into the accomplishment of this so heartily and so completely as does the young American. It is hardly possible for the English youth to appreciate Paris perfectly, because he has been brought up to believe that "one Englishman can thrash three Frenchmen," and because he holds a nation that talks such an absurd language in some contempt; hence he is frequently while there irritable and rude, and jostles men at the public dances, and in other ways asserts his dignity.

But the American goes to Paris as though returning to his inheritance and to his own people. He approaches it with the friendly confidence of a child. Its language holds no terrors for him; and he feels himself fully equipped if he can ask for his "edition," and say, "Cocher, allez Henry's tout sweet." There is nothing so joyous and confiding as the American during his first visit to the French metropolis. He has been [Pg 49] told by older men of the gay, glad days of the Second Empire, and by his college chum of the summer of the last exposition, and he enters Paris determined to see all that any one else has ever seen, and to outdo all that any one else has ever done, and to stir that city to its suburbs. He saves his time, his money, and his superfluous energy for this visit, and the most amusing part of it is that he always leaves Paris fully assured that he has enjoyed himself while there more thoroughly than any one else has ever done, and that the city will require two or three months' rest before it can readjust itself after the shock and wonder due to his meteoric flight through its limits. London he dismisses in a week as a place in which you can get good clothes at moderate prices, and which supports some very entertaining music-halls; but Paris, he tells you, ecstatically, when he meets you on the boulevards or at the banker's, where he is drawing grandly on his letter of credit, is "the greatest place on earth," and he adds, as evidence of the truth of this, that he has not slept in three weeks. He is unsurpassed in his omnivorous capacity for sight-seeing, and in his ability to make himself immediately and contentedly at home. There is a [Pg 50] story which illustrates this that is told by a young American banker who has been living in Paris for the last six years. He met one day on the boulevards an old college friend of his, and welcomed him with pleasure.

"You must let me be your guide," the banker said. "I have been here so long now that I know just what you ought to see, and I shall enjoy seeing it with you as much as though it were for the first time. When did you come?" The new arrival had reached Paris only three days before, and said that he was ready to see all that it had to show. "You have nothing to do to-night, then?" asked the banker. "Well, we will drop in at the gardens and the cafés chantants. There is nothing like them anywhere." His friend said he had made the tour of the gardens on the night of his arrival, but that he would be glad to revisit them. But that being the case, the banker would rather take him to the cafés—"The Black Cat," and Bruant's, and "The Dead Rat." These his friend had visited on his second evening.

"Oh, well, we can cross the river, then, and I will show you some slumming," said the banker. "You should see the places where the thieves go—the Château Rouge and Père Lunette."

"I went there last night," said the new-comer.

[Pg 51]

The man who had lived six years in Paris took the stranger by the arm and asked him if he was sure he was not engaged for that evening. "For if you are not," he said, "you might take me with you and show me some of the sights!"

The American visitor is not only undaunted by the strange language, but unimpressed by the signs of years of vivid history about him. He sandwiches a glimpse at the tomb of Napoleon, and a trip on a penny steamer up the Seine, and back again to the Morgue, with a rush through the Cathedral of Notre Dame, between the hours of his breakfast and the race-meeting at Longchamps the same afternoon. Nothing of present interest escapes him, and nothing bores him. He assimilates and grasps the method of Parisian existence with a rapidity that leaves you wondering in the rear, and at the end of a week can tell you that you should go to one side of the Grand Hôtel for cigars, and to the other to have your hat blocked. He knows at what hour Yvette Guilbert comes on at the Ambassadeurs', and on which mornings of the week the flower-market is held around the Madeleine. While you are still hunting for apartments he has visited the sewers under the earth, and [Pg 52] the Eiffel Tower over the earth, and eaten his dinner in a tree at Robinson's, and driven a coach to Versailles over the same road upon which the mob tramped to bring Marie Antoinette back to Paris, without being the least impressed by the contrast which this offers to his own progress. He develops also a daring and reckless spirit of adventure, which would never have found vent in his native city or town, or in any other foreign city or town. It is in the air, and he enters into the childish good-nature of the place and of the people after the same manner that the head of a family grows young again at his class reunion.

One Harvard graduate arrived in Paris summer before last during those riots which originated with the students, and were carried on by the working-people, and which were cynically spoken of on the boulevards as the Revolution of Sarah Brown. In any other city he would have watched these ebullitions from the outskirts of the mob, or remained a passive spectator of what did not concern him, but being in Paris, and for the first time, he mounted a barricade, and made a stirring address to the students behind it in his best Harvard French, and was promptly cut over the head by a gendarme and conveyed to a hospital, where he remained during his stay in the gay metropolis. But he still holds that Paris is the finest place that he has ever seen. There was [Pg 53] another American youth who stood up suddenly in the first row of seats at the Nouveau Cirque and wagered the men with him that he would jump into the water with which the circus ring is flooded nightly, and swim, "accoutred as he was," to the other side. They promptly took him at his word, and the audience of French bourgeois were charmed by the spectacle of a young gentleman in evening dress swimming calmly across the tank, and clambering leisurely out on the other side. He was loudly applauded for this, and the management sent the "American original" home in a fiacre. In any other city he would have been hustled by the ushers and handed over to the police.

Those show-places of Paris which are seen only at night, and of which one hears the most frequently, are curiously few in number. It is their quality and not their quantity which has made them talked about. It is quite as possible to tell off on the fingers of two hands the names and the places to which the visitor to Paris will be taken as it is quite impossible to count the number of times he will revisit them.

In London there are so many licensed places of amusement that a man might visit one every night for a year and never enter the same place [Pg 54] twice, and those of unofficial entertainment are so numerous that men spend years in London and never hear of nooks and corners in it as odd and strange as Stevenson's Suicide Club or Fagan's School for Thieves—public-houses where blind beggars regain their sight and the halt and lame walk and dance, music-halls where the line is strictly drawn between the gentleman who smokes a clay pipe and the one who smokes a brier, and arenas like the Lambeth School of Arms, from which boy pugilists and coal-heavers graduate to the prize-ring, and such thoroughfares as Ship's Alley, where in the space of fifty yards twenty murders have occurred in three years.

In Paris there are virtually no slums at all. The dangerous classes are there, and there is an army of beggars and wretches as poor and brutal as are to be found at large in any part of the world, but the Parisian criminal has no environment, no setting. He plays the part quite as effectively as does the London or New York criminal, but he has no appropriate scenery or mechanical effects.

If he wishes to commit murder, he is forced to make the best of the well-paved, well-lighted, and cleanly swept avenue. He cannot choose a [Pg 55] labyrinth of alleyways and covered passages, as he could were he in Whitechapel, or a net-work of tenements and narrow side streets, as he could were he in the city of New York.

Young men who have spent a couple of weeks in Paris, and who have been taken slumming by paid guides, may possibly question the accuracy of this. They saw some very awful places indeed—one place they remember in particular, called the Château Rouge, and another called Père Lunette. The reason they so particularly remember these two places is that these are the only two places any one ever sees, and they do not recall the fact that the neighboring houses were of hopeless respectability, and that they were able to pick up a cab within a hundred yards of these houses. Young Frenchmen who know all the worlds of Paris tell you mysteriously of these places, and of how they visited them disguised in blue smocks and guarded by detectives; detectives themselves speak to you of them as a fisherman speaks to you of a favorite rock or a deep hole where you can always count on finding fish, and every newspaper correspondent who visits Paris for the first time writes home of them as typical of Parisian low life. They are as typical of Parisian low life as the animals in the Zoo in Central Park [Pg 56] are typical of the other animals we see drawing stages and horse-cars and broughams on the city streets, and you require the guardianship of a detective when you visit them as much as you would need a policeman in Mulberry Bend or at an organ recital in Carnegie Hall. They are show-places, or at least they have become so, and though they would no doubt exist without the aid of the tourist or the man about town of intrepid spirit, they count upon him, and are prepared for him with set speeches, and are as ready to show him all that there is to see as are the guides around the Capitol at Washington.

I should not wish to be misunderstood as saying that these are the only abodes of poverty and the only meeting-places for criminals in Paris, which would of course be absurd, but they are the only places of such interest that the visitor sees. There are other places, chiefly wine-shops in cellars in the districts of la Glacière, Montrouge, or la Villette, but unless an inspector of police leads you to them, and points out such and such men as thieves, you would not be able to distinguish any difference between them and the wine-shops and their habitués north of the bridges and within sound of the boulevards. The paternal municipality of Paris, and the thought it has spent in laying [Pg 57] out the streets, and the generous manner in which it has lighted them, are responsible for the lack of slums. Houses of white stucco, and broad, cleanly swept boulevards with double lines of gas lamps and shade trees, extend, without consideration for the criminal, to the fortifications and beyond, and the thief and bully whose interests are so little regarded is forced in consequence to hide himself underground in cellars or in the dark shadows of the Bois de Boulogne at night. This used to appeal to me as one of the most peculiar characteristics of Paris—that the most desperate poverty and the most heartless of crimes continued in neighborhoods notorious chiefly for their wickedness, and yet which were in appearance as well-ordered and commonplace-looking as the new model tenements in Harlem or the trim working-men's homes in the factory districts of Philadelphia.

The Château Rouge was originally the house of some stately family in the time of Louis XIV. They will tell you there that it was one of the mistresses of this monarch who occupied it, and will point to the frescos of one room to show how magnificent her abode then was. This tradition may or may not be true, but it adds an interest to the house, [Pg 58] and furnishes the dramatic contrast to its present wretchedness. It is a tall building painted red, and set back from the street in a court. There are four rooms filled with deal tables on the first floor, and a long counter with the usual leaden top. "Whoever buys a glass of wine here may sleep with his or her head on the table, or lie at length up-stairs on the floor of that room where one still sees the stucco cupids of the fine lady's boudoir. It is now a lodging-house for beggars and for those who collect the ends of castaway cigars and cigarettes on the boulevards, and possibly for those who thieve in a small way. By ten o'clock each night the place is filled with men and women sleeping heavily at the tables, with their heads on their arms, or gathered together for miserable company, whispering and gossiping, each sipping jealously of his glass of red wine."

[Pg 59-60]


[Pg 61]

There is a little room at the rear, the walls of which are painted with scenes of celebrated murders, and the portraits of the murderers, of anarchists, and of their foes the police. A sharp-faced boy points to these with his cap, and recites his lesson in a high singsong, and in an argot which makes all he says quite unintelligible. He is interesting chiefly because the men of whom he speaks are heroes to him, and he roars forth the name of "Antoine, who murdered the policeman Jervois," as though he were saying Gambetta, the founder of the republic, and with the innocent confidence that you will share with him in his enthusiasm. The pictures are ghastly things, in which the artist has chiefly done himself honor in the generous use of scarlet paint for blood, and in the way he has shown how by rapid gradations the criminal descends from well-dressed innocence to ragged viciousness, until he reaches the steps of the guillotine at Roquette. It is a miserable chamber of horrors, in which the heavy-eyed absinthe-drinkers raise their heads to stare mistily at the visitor, and to listen for the hundredth time to the boy's glib explanation of each daub in the gallery around them, from the picture of the vermilion-cheeked young woman who caused the trouble, to an imaginative picture of Montfaucon covered with skulls, where, many years in the past, criminals swung in chains.

The café of Père Lunette is just around several sharp corners from the Château Rouge. It was originally presided over by an old gentleman who wore spectacles, which gave his shop its name. It is a resort of the [Pg 62] lowest class of women and men, and its walls are painted throughout with faces and scenes a little better in execution than those in the Château Rouge, and a little worse in subject. It is a very small place to enjoy so wide-spread a reputation, and its front room is uninteresting, save for a row of casks resting on their sides, on the head of each of which is painted the portrait of some noted Parisian, like Zola, Eiffel, or Boulanger. The young proprietor fell upon us as his natural prey the night we visited the place, and drove us before him into a room in the rear of the wineshop. He was followed as a matter of course by a dozen men in blouses, and as many bareheaded women, who placed themselves expectantly at the deal tables, and signified what it was they wished to drink before going through the form of asking us if we meant to pay for it. They were as ready to do their part of the entertainment as the actors of the theatre are ready to go on when the curtain rises, and there was nothing about any of them to suggest that he or she was there for any other reason than the hope of a windfall in the person of a stranger who would supply him or her with money or liquor. A long-haired boy with a three days' growth of hair upon his chin, of whom the proprietor spoke proudly as a [Pg 63] poet, recited in verse a long descriptive story of what the pictures on the wall were intended to represent, and another youth, with a Vandyck beard and slouched hat, and curls hanging to his shoulder, sang Aristide Bruant's song of "Saint Lazare." All of the women of the place belonged to the class which spends many months of each year in that prison. The music of the song is in a minor key, and is strangely sad and eerie. It is the plaint of a young girl writing to her lover from within the walls of the prison, begging him to be faithful to her while she is gone, and Bruant cynically makes her designate three or four feminine friends as those whose society she particularly desires him to avoid. The women, all of whom sang with sodden seriousness, may not have appreciated how well the words of the song applied to themselves, but you could imagine that they did, and this gave to the moment and the scene a certain touch of interest. Apart from this the place was dreary, and the pictures indecent and stupid.

There is much more of interest in the Café of Aristide Bruant, on the Boulevard Rochechouart. Bruant is the modern François Villon. He is the poet of the people, and more especially of the criminal classes. He sings the virtues or the lack of virtue of the several districts [Pg 64] of Paris, with the life of which he claims an intimate familiarity. He is the bard of the bully, and of the thief, and of the men who live on the earnings of women. He is unquestionably one of the most picturesque figures in Paris, but his picturesqueness is spoiled in some degree by the evident fact that he is conscious of it. He is a poet, but he is very much more of a poseur.

[Pg 65-66]


Bruant began by singing his own songs in the café chantant in the Champs Élysées, and celebrating in them the life of Montmartre and the Place de la République, and of the Bastille. He has done for the Parisian bully what Albert Chevallier has done for the coster of Whitechapel, and Edward Harrigan for the East Side of New York, but with the important difference that the Frenchman claims to be one of the class of whom he writes, and the audacity with which he robs stray visitors to his café would seem to justify his claims. There is no question as to the strength in his poems, nor that he gives you the spirit of the places which he describes, and that he sees whatever is dramatic and characteristic in them. But the utter heartlessness with which he writes of the wickedness of his friends the souteneurs rings false, and sounds like an affectation. One of the best specimens of his verse is that in which he tells of the Bois de Boulogne at night, when the woods, he says, cloak all manner of evil things, and when, instead of the rustling of the leaves, you hear the groans of the homeless tossing in their sleep under the sky, and calls for help suddenly hushed, and the angry cries of thieves who have fallen out over their spoils and who fight among themselves; or the hurried footsteps of a belated old gentleman hastening home, and followed silently in the shadow of the trees by men who fall upon and rob him after the fashion invented and perfected by le Père François. Others of his poems are like the most realistic paragraphs of L'Assommoir and Nana put into verse.

[Pg 67]

Bruant himself is a young man, and an extremely handsome one. He wears his yellow hair separated in the middle and combed smoothly back over his ears, and dresses at all times in brown velvet, with trousers tucked in high boots, and a red shirt and broad sombrero. He has had the compliment paid him of the most sincere imitation, for a young man made up to look exactly like him now sings his songs in the cafés, even [Pg 68] the characteristically modest one in which Bruant slaps his chest and exclaims at the end of each verse: "And I? I am Bruant." The real Bruant sings every night in his own café, but as his under-study at the Ambassadeurs' is frequently mistaken for him, he may be said to have accomplished the rather difficult task of being in two places at once.

Bruant's café is a little shop barred and black without, and guarded by a commissionnaire dressed to represent a policeman. If you desire to enter, this man raps on the door, and Bruant, when he is quite ready, pushes back a little panel, and scrutinizes the visitor through the grated opening. If he approves of you he unbars the door, with much jangling of chains and rasping of locks, and you enter a tiny shop, filled with three long tables, and hung with all that is absurd and fantastic in decoration, from Chéret's bill-posters to unframed oil-paintings, and from beer-mugs to plaster death-masks. There is a different salutation for every one who enters this café, in which all those already in the place join in chorus. A woman is greeted by a certain burst of melody, and a man by another, and a soldier with easy satire, as representing the government, by an imitation of the fanfare [Pg 69] which is blown by the trumpeters whenever the President appears in public. There did not seem to be any greeting which exactly fitted our case, so Bruant waved us to a bench, and explained to his guests, with a shrug: "These are two gentlemen from the boulevards who have come to see the thieves of Montmartre. If they are quiet and well-behaved we will not rob them." After this somewhat discouraging reception we, in our innocence, sat perfectly still, and tried to think we were enjoying ourselves, while we allowed ourselves to be robbed by waiters and venders of songs and books without daring to murmur or protest.

Bruant is assisted in the entertainment of his guests by two or three young men who sing his songs, the others in the room joining with them. Every third number is sung by the great man himself, swaggering up and down the narrow limits of the place, with his hands sunk deep in the pockets of his coat, and his head rolling on his shoulders. At the end of each verse he withdraws his hands, and brushes his hair back over his ears, and shakes it out like a mane. One of his perquisites as host is the privilege of saluting all of the women as they leave, of which privilege he avails himself when they are pretty, or resigns it and bows gravely when they are not. It is amusing to notice how the [Pg 70] different women approach the door when it is time to go, and how the escort of each smiles proudly when the young man deigns to bend his head over the lips of the girl and kiss her good-night.

The café of the Black Cat is much finer and much more pretentious than Bruant's shop, and is of wider fame. It is, indeed, of an entirely different class, but it comes in here under the head of the show-places of Paris at night. It was originally a sort of club where journalists and artists and poets met round the tables of a restaurant-keeper who happened to be a patron of art as well, and fitted out his café with the canvases of his customers, and adopted their suggestions in the arrangement of its decoration. The outside world of Paris heard of these gatherings at the Black Cat, as the café and club were called, and of the wit and spirit of its habitués, and sought admittance to its meetings, which was at first granted as a great privilege. But at the present day the café has been turned over into other hands, and is a show-place pure and simple, and a most interesting one. The café proper is fitted throughout with heavy black oak, or something in imitation of it. There are heavy broad tables and high wainscoting and an immense fireplace and massive rafters.

[Pg 71-72]


[Pg 73]

To set off the sombreness of this, the walls are covered with panels in the richest of colors, by Steinlen, the most imaginative and original of the Parisian illustrators, in all of which the black cat appears as a subject, but in a different rôle and with separate treatment. Upon one panel hundreds of black cats race over the ocean, in another they are waltzing with naiads in the woods, and in another they are whirling through space over red-tiled roofs, followed by beautiful young women, gendarmes, and boulevardiers in hot pursuit. And in every other part of the café the black cat appears as frequently as did the head of Charles I. in the writings of Mr. Dick. It stalks stuffed in its natural skin, or carved in wood, with round glass eyes and long red tongue, or it perches upon the chimney-piece with back arched and tail erect, peering down from among the pewter pots and salvers. The gas-jets shoot from the mouths of wrought-iron cats, and the dismembered heads of others grin out into the night from the stained-glass windows. The room shows the struggle for what is odd and bizarre, but the drawings in black and white and the watercolors and oil-paintings on the walls are signed by some of the cleverest [Pg 74] artists in Paris. The inscriptions and rules and regulations are as odd as the decorations. As, for example, the one placed halfway up the narrow flight of stairs which leads to the tiny theatre, and which commemorates the fact that the café was on such a night visited by President Carnot, who—so the inscription adds, lest the visitor should suppose the Black Cat was at all impressed by the honor—"is the successor of Charlemagne and Napoleon I." Another fancy of the Black Cat was at one time to dress all the waiters in the green coat and gold olive leaves of the members of the Institute, to show how little the poets and artists of the café thought of the other artists and poets who belonged to that ancient institution across the bridges. But this has now been given up, either because the uniforms proved too expensive, or because some one of the Black Cat's habitués had left his friends "for a ribbon to wear in his coat," and so spoiled the satire.

Three times a week there is a performance in the theatre up-stairs, at which poets of the neighborhood recite their own verses, and some clever individual tells a story, with a stereopticon and a caste of pasteboard actors for accessories. These latter little plays are very [Pg 75] clever and well arranged, and as nearly proper as a Frenchman with such a temptation to be otherwise could be expected to make them. It is a most informal gathering, more like a performance in a private house than a theatre, and the most curious thing about it is the character of the audience, which, instead of being bohemian and artistic, is composed chiefly of worthy bourgeoisie, and young men and young women properly chaperoned by the parents of each. They sit on very stiff wooden chairs, while a young man stands on the floor in front of them with his arms comfortably folded and recites a poem or a monologue, or plays a composition of his own. And then the lights are all put out, and a tiny curtain is rung up, showing a square hole in the proscenium, covered with a curtain of white linen. On this are thrown the shadows of the pasteboard figures, who do the most remarkable things with a naturalness which might well shame some living actors.

It would be impossible to write of the entertainment Paris affords at night without cataloguing the open-air concerts and the public gardens and dance-halls. The best of the cafés chantants in Paris is the Ambassadeurs'. There are many others, but the Ambassadeurs' is the best known, is nearest to the boulevards, and has the best restaurant. [Pg 76] It is like all the rest in its general arrangement, or all the others copy it, so that what is true of the Ambassadeurs' may be considered as descriptive of them all.

The Ambassadeurs' is a roof-garden on the ground, except that there are comfortable benches instead of tables with chairs about them, and that there is gravel underfoot in place of wooden flooring. Lining the block of benches on either side are rows of boxes, and at the extreme rear is the restaurant, with a wide balcony, where people sit and dine, and listen to the music of the songs without running any risk of hearing the words. The stage is shut in with mirrors and set with artificial flowers, which make a bad background for the artists, and which at matinées, in the broad sunlight, look very ghastly indeed. But at night, when all the gas-jets are lit and the place is crowded, it is very gay, joyous, and pretty.

[Pg 77-78]


[Pg 79]

The Parisian may economize in household matters, in the question of another egg for his breakfast, and in the turning of an uneaten entrée into a soup, but in public he is most generous; and he is in nothing so generous as in his reckless use of gas. He raises ten lamp-posts to every one that is put up in London or New York, and he does not plant them only to light some thing or some person, but because they are pleasing to look at in themselves. It is difficult to feel gloomy in a city which is so genuinely illuminated that one can sit in the third-story window of a hotel and read a newspaper by the glare of the gas-lamps in the street below. This is a very wise generosity, for it helps to attract people to Paris, who spend money there, so that in the end the lighting of the city may be said to pay for itself. If we had as good government in New York as there is in Paris, Madison Square would not depend for its brilliancy at night on the illuminated advertising of two business firms.

Individuals follow the municipality of Paris in this extravagance, and the Ambassadeurs' is in consequence as brilliant as many rows of gas-jets can make it, and these globes of white light among the green branches of the trees are one of the prettiest effects on the Champs Élysées at night. They do not turn night into day, but they make the darkness itself more attractive by contrast. The performers at the Ambassadeurs' are the best in their line of work, and the audiences are composed of what in London would be called the middle class, mixed with cocottes and boulevardiers. You will also often see American men and [Pg 80] women who are well known at home dining there on the balcony, but they do not bring young girls with them.

It is interesting to note what pleases French people of the class who gather at these open-air concerts. What is artistic they seem to appreciate much more fully than would an American or an English audience—at least, they are more demonstrative in their applause; but the contradictory feature of their appreciation lies in their delight and boisterous enthusiasm, not only over what is very good, but also over what is most childish horse-play. They enjoy with equal zest the quiet, inimitable character studies of Nicolle and the efforts of two trained dogs to play upon a fiddle, while a hideous, gaunt creature, six foot tall, in a woman's ballet costume, throws them off their chairs in convulsions of delight. They are like children with a mature sense of the artistic, and still with an infantile delight in what is merely noisy and absurd.

It is also interesting to note how much these audiences will permit from the stage in the direction of suggestiveness, and what would be called elsewhere "outraged propriety." This is furnished them to the highest degree by Yvette Guilbert. It seems that as this artist became [Pg 81] less of a novelty, she recognized that it would be necessary for her to increase the audacity of her songs if she meant to hold her original place in the interest of her audiences, and she has now reached a point in daring which seems hardly possible for her or any one else to pass. No one can help delighting in her and in her line of work, in her subtlety, her grace, and the absolute knowledge she possesses of what she wants to do and how to do it. But her songs are beyond anything that one finds in the most impossible of French novels or among the legends of the Viennese illustrated papers. These latter may treat of certain subjects in a too realistic or in a scoffing but amusing manner, but Guilbert talks of things which are limited generally to the clinique of a hospital and the blague of medical students; things which are neither funny, witty, nor quaint, but simply nasty and offensive. The French audiences of the open-air concerts, however, enjoy these, and encore her six times nightly. At Pastor's Theatre last year a French girl sang a song which probably not one out of three hundred in the audience understood, but which she delivered with such appropriateness of gesture as to make her meaning plain. When she left the stage there was absolute silence in the house, and in the wings the [Pg 82] horrified manager seized her by the arms, and in spite of her protests refused to allow her to reappear. So her performance in this country was limited to that one song. It was a very long trip to take for such a disappointment, and the management were, of course, to blame for not knowing what they wanted and what their audiences did not want, but the incident is interesting as showing how widely an American and a French audience differs in matters of this sort.

There was another Frenchwoman who appeared in New York last winter, named Duclerc. She is a very beautiful woman, and very popular in Paris, and I used to think her amusing at the Ambassadeurs', where she appealed to a sympathetic audience; but in a New York theatre she gave you a sense of personal responsibility that sent cold shivers down your back, and you lacked the courage to applaud, when even the gallery looked on with sullen disapproval. And when the Irish comedian who followed her said that he did not understand her song, but that she was quite right to sing it under an umbrella, there was a roar of relief from the audience which showed it wanted some one to express its sentiments, which it had been too polite to do except in silence. This tolerance impressed me very much, especially because I had seen the same woman suffer at the hands of her own people, whom she had chanced to offend. The incident is interesting, perhaps, as showing that the French have at times not only the child's quick delight, but also the cruelty of a child, than which there is nothing more unreasoning and nothing more savage.

[Pg 83-84]


[Pg 85]

One night at the Ambassadeurs', when Duclerc had finished the first verse of her song, a man rose suddenly in the front row of seats and insulted her. Had he used the same words in any American or English theatre, he would have been hit over the head by the member of the orchestra nearest him, and then thrown out of the theatre into the street. It appeared from this man's remarks that the actress had formerly cared for him, but that she had ceased to do so, and that he had come there that night to show her how well he could stand such treatment. He did this by bringing another woman with him, and by placing a dozen bullies from Montmartre among the audience to hiss the actress when she appeared. This they did with a rare good-will, while the rejected suitor in the front row continued to insult her, assisted at the same time by his feminine companion. No one in the [Pg 86] audience seemed to heed this, or to look upon it as unfair to himself or to the actress, who was becoming visibly hysterical. There was a piece of wood lying on the stage that had been used in a previous act, and Duclerc, in a frenzy at a word which the man finally called to her, suddenly stooped, and, picking this up, hurled it at him. In an instant the entire audience was on its feet. This last was an insult to itself. As long as it was Duclerc who was being attacked, it did not feel nor show any responsibility, but when she dared to hurl sticks of wood at the face of a Parisian audience, it rose in its might and shouted its indignation. Under the cover of this confusion the hired bullies stooped, and, scooping up handfuls of the gravel with which the place is strewn, hurled them at Duclerc, until the stones rattled around her on the stage like a fall of hail. She showed herself a very plucky woman, and continued her song, even though you could see her face growing white beneath the rouge, and her legs twisting and sinking under her when she tried to dance. It was an awful scene, breaking so suddenly into the easy programme of the evening, and one of the most cowardly and unmanly exhibitions that I have ever witnessed. There did [Pg 87] not seem to be a man in the place who was not standing up and yelling "À bas Duclerc!" and the groans and hisses and abuse were like the worst efforts of a mob. Of course the stones did not hurt the woman, but the insult of being stoned did. They put an end to her misery at last by ringing down the curtain, and they said at the stage door afterwards that she had been taken home in a fit.

When I saw her a few months later at Pastor's, I was thankful that, as a people, our self-respect is not so easily hurt as to make us revenge a slight upon it by throwing stones at a woman. Of course a Frenchman might say that it is not fair to judge the Parisians by the audience of a music-hall, but there were several ladies of title and gentlemen of both worlds in the audience, who a few months later assailed Jane Harding when she appeared as Phryne in the Opéra Comique with exactly the same violence and for as little cause. These outbursts are only temporary aberrations, however; as one of the attendants of the Ambassadeurs' said, "To-morrow they will applaud her the more to make up for it," which they probably did. It is in the same spirit that they change the names of streets, and pull down columns only to rebuild them [Pg 88] again, until it would seem a wise plan for them, as one Englishman suggested, to put the Column of Vendôme on a hinge, so that it could be raised and lowered with less trouble.

Of the public gardens and dance-halls there are a great number, and the men who have visited Paris do not have to be told much concerning them, and the women obtain a sufficiently correct idea of what they are like from the photographs along the Rue de Rivoli to prevent their wishing to learn more. What these gardens were in the days of the Second Empire, when the Jardin Mabille and the Bal Bullier were celebrated through books and illustrations, and by word of mouth by every English and American traveller who had visited them, it is now difficult to say. It may be that they were the scenes of mad abandon and fascinating frenzy, of which the last generation wrote with mock horror and with suggestive smiles, and of which its members now speak with a sigh of regret. But we are always ready to doubt whether that which has passed away, and which in consequence we cannot see, was as remarkable as it is made to appear. We depreciate it in order to console ourselves. And if the Mabille and the Bullier were no more wickedly attractive in those days than is the Moulin Rouge which has taken their place under the Republic, we cannot but feel that the men of the last generation visited Paris when they were very young. Perhaps it is true that Paris was more careless and happy then. It can easily be argued so, for there was more money spent under the Empire, and more money given away in fêtes and in spectacles and in public pleasures, and the Parisian in those days had no responsibility. Now that he has a voice and a vote, and is the equal of his President, he devotes himself to those things which did not concern him at all in the earlier times. Then the Emperor and his ministers felt the responsibility, and asked of him only that he should enjoy himself.

[Pg 89-90]


[Pg 91]

But whatever may have been true of the spirit of Paris then, the man who visits it to-day expecting to see Leech's illustrations and Mark Twain's description of the Mabille reproduced in the Jardin de Paris and the Moulin Rouge will be disappointed. He will, on the contrary, find a great deal of light and some very good music, and a mixed crowd composed chiefly of young women and Frenchmen well advanced in years and English and American tourists. The young women have all the [Pg 92] charm that only a Frenchwoman possesses, and parade quietly below the boxes, and before the rows of seats that stretch around the hall or the garden, as it happens to be, and are much better behaved and infinitely more self-respecting and attractive in appearance than the women of their class in London or New York. But there are no students nor grisettes to kick off high hats and to dance in an ecstasy of abandon. There are in their places from four to a dozen ugly women and shamefaced-looking men, who are hired to dance, and who go sadly through the figures of the quadrille, while one of the women after another shows how high she can kick, and from what a height she can fall on the asphalt, and do what in the language of acrobats is called a "split;" there is no other name for it. It is not an edifying nor thrilling spectacle.

[Pg 93-94]


[Pg 95]

The most notorious of these dance-halls is the Moulin Rouge. You must have noticed when journeying through France the great windmills that stand against the sky-line on so many hilltops. They are a picturesque and typical feature of the landscape, and seem to signify the honest industry and primitiveness of the French people of the provinces. And as the great arms turn in the wind you can imagine you can hear the sound of the mill-wheel clacking while the wheels inside grind out the flour that is to give life and health. And so when you see the great Red Mill turn high up where four streets meet on the side of Montmartre, and know its purpose, you are impressed with the grim contrast of its past uses and its present notoriety. An imaginative person could not fail to be impressed by the sight of the Moulin Rouge at night. It glows like a furnace, and the glare from its lamps reddens the sky and lights up the surrounding streets and cafés and the faces of the people passing like a conflagration. The mill is red, the thatched roof is red, the arms are picked out in electric lights in red globes, and arches of red lamp-shades rise on every side against the blackness of the night. Young men and women are fed into the blazing doors of the mill nightly, and the great arms, as they turn unceasingly and noisily in a fiery circle through the air, seem to tell of the wheels within that are grinding out the life and the health and souls of these young people of Montmartre.

If you have visited many of the places touched upon in this article in the same night, you will find yourself caught in the act by the early sunlight, and as it will then be too late to go to bed, you can [Pg 96] do nothing better than turn your steps towards the Madeleine. There you may find the market-people taking the flowers out of the black canvas wagons and putting up the temporary booths, while the sidewalk is hidden with a mass of roses in their white paper cornucopiæ and the dark, damp green of palms and ferns.

It will be well worth your while to go on through the silent streets from this market of flowers to the market of food in the Halles Centrales, where there are strawberry patches stretching for a block, and bounded by acres of radishes or acres of mushrooms, and by queer fruits from as far south as Algiers and Tunis, just arrived from Marseilles on the train, and green pease and carrots from no greater a distance than just beyond the fortifications. It is the only spot in the city where many people are awake. Everybody is awake here, bustling and laughing and scolding—porters with brass badges on their sleeves carrying great piles of vegetables, and plump market-women in white sleeves and caps, and drivers in blue blouses smacking their lips over their hot coffee after their long ride through the night. It is like a great exposition building of food exhibits, with the difference that all of these exhibits are to be scattered and are to disappear on the [Pg 97] breakfast-tables of Paris that same morning. Loud-voiced gentlemen are auctioneering off whole crops of potatoes, a sidewalk at a time, or a small riverful of fish with a single clap of the hands; live lobsters and great turtles crawl and squirm on marble slabs, and vistas of red meat stretch on iron hooks from one street corner to the next.

You are, and feel that you are, a drone in this busy place, and salute with a sense of guilty companionship the groups of men and girls in dinner dress who have been up all night, and who come singing and chaffing in their open carriages in search of coffee and a box of strawberries, or a bunch of cold, crisp radishes with the dew still on them, which they buy from a virtuous matron of grim and disapproving countenance at a price which throws a lurid light on the profits of Bignon's and Laurent's.

And then you become conscious of your evening dress and generally dissolute and out-of-place air, and hurry home through the bright sunlight to put out your sputtering candle and to creep shamefacedly to bed.

[Pg 98]


THE news of the assassination of President Carnot at Lyons reached Paris and the Café de la Paix at ten o'clock on Sunday night. What is told at the Café de la Paix is not long in traversing the length of the boulevards, and in crossing the Place de la Concorde to the cafés chantants and the public gardens in the Champs Élysées, so that by eleven o'clock on the night of the 24th of June "all Paris" was acquainted with the fact that the President of the Republic had been cruelly murdered.

[Pg 99]

There are many people in America who remember the night when President Garfield died, and how, when his death was announced from the stage of the different theatres, the audience in each theatre rose silently as one man and walked quietly out. To them the President's death was not unexpected; it did not stun them, it came with no sudden shock, but it was not necessary to announce to them that the performance for that evening was at an end. They did not leave because the manager had rung down the curtain, but because at such a time they felt more at ease with themselves outside of a place of amusement than in one.

This was not the feeling of the Parisians when President Carnot died. On that night no lights were put out in the cafés; no leader's bâton rapped for a sudden silence in the Jardin de Paris, and the Parisians continued to drink their bock and to dance, or to watch others dance, even though they knew that at that same moment Madame Carnot in a special train was hurrying through the night to reach the death-bed of her husband. It is never possible to tell which way the French people will jump, or how they will act at a crisis. They have no precedents of conduct; they are as likely to do the characteristic thing, which [Pg 100] in itself is different from what people of any other nation would do under like circumstances, as the uncharacteristic thing, which is even more unexpected. They complicate history by behaving with perfect tranquillity when other people would become excited, and by losing their heads when there is no occasion for it. As the Yale captain said of the Princeton team, "They keep you guessing."

So when I was convinced by the morning papers, after the first shock of unbelief, that the President of France was dead, I walked out into the streets to see what sign there would be of it in Paris. I argued that in a city given to demonstrations the feelings of the people would take some actual and visible form; that there would be meetings in the street, rioting perhaps in the Italian quarter, and extraordinary expressions of grief in the shape of crêpe and mourning. But the people were as undisturbed and tranquil as the sun; the same men were sitting at the same round tables; the same women were shopping in the Rue de la Paix, and but for an increased energy on the part of the newsboys there was no sign that a good man had died, that one who had harmed no one had himself been cruelly harmed, and that the highest office of the state was vacant.

[Pg 101]

When I complained of this to Parisians, or to those who were Parisians by choice and not by birth, they explained it by saying that the people were stunned. "They are too shocked to act. It is a horror without a precedent," they said; but it struck me that they were an inordinately long time in recovering from the blow. At one o'clock on Monday morning a workman crawled out upon the roof of the Invalides, and, gathering the tricolored flag in his arms, tied a wisp of crêpe about it. The flags in the Chamber of Deputies and in the War Office were draped in the same manner, and with these three exceptions I saw no other visible sign of mourning in all Paris. On Monday night those theatres subsidized by the government, and some others, but not all, were closed for that evening. At three o'clock on Tuesday, two days after the death of the President, I counted but three flags draped with crêpe on the boulevards; but on the day following all the shops on the Rue de la Paix and the hotels on the Rue de Rivoli put out flags covered with mourning, and so advertised themselves and their grief. It is interesting to remember that the most generous display of crêpe in Paris was made by an English firm of ladies' tailors. During this time [Pg 102] the correspondents were cabling of the grief and rage of the Parisians to sympathetic peoples all over the world; and we, in our turn, were reading in Paris the telegrams of condolence and the resolutions of sympathy from as different sources as the Parliament of Cape Town and the Congress of the United States. What effect the reading of these sincere and honest words had upon the people of Paris I do not know, but I could not at the time conceive of their reading them without blushing. I looked up from the paper which gave Lord Rosebery's speech, and the brotherly words which came from little colonies in the Pacific, from barbarous monarchs, and from widows to Madame Carnot, and from corporations, Emperors, and Presidents to the city of Paris, and saw nothing in the countenances of the Parisians at the table next to mine but smiles of gratification at the importance that they had so suddenly attained in the eyes of the whole world.

[Pg 103-104]


[Pg 105]

It was also interesting to note by the Paris papers how the French valued the expressions of sympathy which poured in upon them. The fact that both Houses in the United States had adjourned to do honor to the memory of M. Carnot was not in their minds of as much importance as was the telegram from the Czar of Russia, which was given the most important place in every paper. It was followed almost invariably by the message from the German Emperor, whose telegram, it is also interesting to remember, was the second one to reach Paris after the death of the President was announced. When one reads a congratulatory telegram from the German Emperor on the result of the Cambridge-Oxford boat-race, and another of condolence to the King of Greece in reference to an earthquake, and then this one to the French people, it really seems as though the young ruler did not mean that any event of importance should take place anywhere without his having something to say concerning it. But this last telegram was well timed, and the line which said that M. Carnot had died like a soldier at his post was well chosen to please the French love of things military, and please them it did, as the Emperor knew that it would. But the condolence from the sister republic across the sea was printed at the end of the column, after those from Bulgaria and Switzerland. In the eyes of the Parisian news editor, the sympathy of the people of a great nation was not so important to his readers as the few words from an Emperor to whom they looked for help in time of war.

[Pg 106]

This was not probably true of the whole of France, but it was true of the Parisians. Two years from now Carnot's assassination will have become history, and will impress them much more than it did at the time of his death. The next Salon will be filled with the apotheosis of Carnot, with his portrait and with pictures of his murder, and of France in mourning laying a wreath upon his tomb. His son will find quick promotion in the army, and may possibly aspire to Presidential honors, or threaten the safety of the republic with a military dictatorship. It sounds absurd now, but it is quite possible in a country where General Dodds at once became a dangerous Presidential possibility because he had conquered the Dahomans in the swamps of Africa.

Where the French will place Carnot in their history, and how they will reverence his memory, the next few years will show; but it is a fact that at the time of his death they treated him with scant consideration, and were much more impressed with the effect which their loss made upon others than with what it meant to them. It is not a pleasant thing to write about, nor is it the point of view that was [Pg 107] taken at the time, but in writing of facts it is more interesting to report things as they happened than as they should have happened.

It is also true that those Parisians who could decently make a little money out of the nation's loss went about doing so with an avidity that showed a thrifty mind. Almost every one who had windows or balconies facing the line of the funeral procession offered them for rent, and advertised them vigorously by placards and through the papers; venders of knots of crêpe and emblems of mourning filled the streets with their cries. Portraits of Carnot in heavy black were hawked about by the same men who weeks before had sold ridiculous figures of him taking off his hat and bowing to an imaginary audience; the great shops removed their summer costumes from the windows and put stacks of flags bound with crêpe in their place; the flower-shops lined the sidewalks with specimens of their work in mourning-wreaths; and the papers, after their first expression of grief, proceeded to actively discuss Carnot's successor, quoting the popularity of different candidates by giving the betting odds for and against them, as they had done the week before, when the horses were entered for the Grand Prix. This was three days after Carnot's death, and while he was still lying unburied at the Élysée.

[Pg 108]

The French constitution provides that in such an event as that of 1893 the National Assembly shall be convened immediately to select a new President. According to this the President of the Senate, in his capacity as President of the National Assembly, decided that the two Chambers should convene for that purpose at Versailles on Wednesday, June 27th, at one o'clock. This certainly seemed to promise a scene of unusual activity, and perhaps historical importance. I knew what the election of a President meant to us at home, and I argued that if the less excitable Americans could work themselves up into such a state of frenzy that they blocked the traffic of every great city, and reddened the sky with bonfires from Boston to San Francisco, the Frenchman's ecstasy of excitement would be a spectacle of momentous interest. This seemed to be all the more probable because to the American an election means a new Executive but for the next four years, while to the Frenchman the new state of affairs that threatened him would extend for seven. Young Howlett had a vacant place on the top of his public coach, and was just turning the corner as I came out of the hotel; so I went out with him, and looked anxiously down on each side to see the hurrying crowds pushing forward to the palace in the suburbs; and when I found that all roads did not lead to Versailles that day, I decided that it must be because we were on the wrong one, which would eventually lead us somewhere else.

[Pg 109-110]


[Pg 111]

It did not seem possible that the Parisians would feel so little interest as to who their new President might be that they would remain quietly in Paris while he was being elected on its outskirts. I expected to see them trooping out along the seven-mile road to Versailles in as great numbers as when they went there once before to bring a Queen back to Paris. But when we drove into Versailles the coach rattled through empty streets. There were no processions of cheering men in white hats tramping to the music of "Marching through Georgia." No red, white, and blue umbrellas, no sky-rocket yells, no dangling badges with gold fringe, nothing that makes a Presidential convention in Chicago the sight of a lifetime. No one was shouting the name of his political club or his political favorite; no one had his handkerchief tucked inside his collar and a palm leaf in his hand; there were no brass-bands, no banners, and not even beer. Nor was [Pg 112] there any of the excitement which surrounds the election of even a Parliamentary candidate in England. I saw no long line of sandwich-men tramping in each gutter, no violent Radicals hustling equally elated Conservatives, and crying, "Good old Smith!" or "Good old Brown!" no women with primrose badges stuck to their persons making speeches or soliciting votes from the back of dog-carts. And nobody was engaged in throwing kippered herring or blacking the eyes of anybody else. Versailles was as unmoved as the statues in her public squares. Her broad, hospitable streets lay cool and quiet in the reflection of her yellow house-fronts, and under the heavy shadows of the double rows of elms the round, flat cobble-stones, unsoiled by hurrying footsteps, were as clean and regular as a pan of biscuit ready for the oven.

There were about six hundred Deputies in the town, who had not been there the day before, and who would leave it before the sun set that evening, but they bore themselves so modestly that their presence could not disturb the sleepy, sunny beauty of the grand old gardens and of the silent thoroughfares, and when we rattled up to the Hôtel [Pg 113] des Réservoirs at one o'clock we made more of a disturbance with the coach-horn than had the arrival of both Chambers of Deputies. These gentlemen were at déjeuner when we arrived, and eating and drinking as leisurely and good-naturedly as though they had nothing in hand of more importance than a few calls to make or a game of cards at the club. Indeed, it looked much more as though Versailles had been invaded by a huge wedding-party than by a convention of Presidential electors. Some of the Deputies had brought their wives with them, and few as they were, they leavened and enlivened the group of black coats as the same number of women of no other nation could have done, and the men came from different tables to speak to them, to drink their health, and to pay them pretty compliments; and the good fellows of the two Chambers hustled about like so many maîtres d'hôtel seeing that such a one had a place at the crowded tables, that the salad of this one was being properly dressed, and that another had a match for his cigarette.

Besides the Deputies, there were a half-dozen young and old Parisians—those who make it a point to see everything and to be seen everywhere. They would have attended quite as willingly a fête of flowers, or a prize-fight between two English jockeys at Longchamps, [Pg 114] and at either place they would have been as completely at home. They were typical Parisians of the highest world, to whom even the selection of a President for all France was not without its interest. With them were the diplomats, who were pretending to take the change of executive seriously, as representatives of the powers, but who were really whispering that it would probably bring back the leadership of the fashionable world to the Élysée, where it should be, and that it meant the reappearance of many royalist families in society, and the inauguration of magnificent functions, and the reopening of ballrooms long unused.

It was throughout a pretty, lazy, well-bred scene. Outside the entrance to the hotel, coachmen with the cockades of the different embassies in their hats were standing at ease in their shirtsleeves, and with their pipes between their teeth; and the gentlemen, having finished their breakfast, strolled out into the court-yard and watched the hostlers rubbing down the coach-horses, or walked up the hill to the palace, where the boy sentries were hugging their guns, and waving back the few surprised tourists who had come to look at the pictures in the historical gallery, and who did not know that the palace on that day was being used for the prologue of a new historical play.

[Pg 115-116]


[Pg 117]

At the gates leading to the great Court of Honor there were possibly two hundred people in all. They came from the neighboring streets, and not from Paris. None of these people spoke in tones louder than those of ordinary converse, and they speculated with indolent interest as to the outcome of the afternoon's voting. A young man in a brown straw hat found an objection to Casimir-Perier as a candidate because he was so rich, but he withdrew his objection when an older man in a blouse pointed out that Casimir-Perier would make an excellent appearance on horseback.

"The President of France," he said, "must be a man who can look well on a horse;" and the crowd of old women in white caps, and boy soldiers with their hands on their baggy red breeches, from the barracks across the square, nodded their heads approvingly. It was a most interesting sight when compared with the anxious, howling mob that surrounds the building in which a Presidential convention is being held at home.

It is also interesting to remember that a special telephone wire was placed in the Chamber at Versailles in order that the news of the [Pg 118] election might be communicated to the newspaper offices in Paris, and that this piece of enterprise was considered so remarkable that it was commented upon by the entire newspaper press of that city. In Chicago, at the time of the last Presidential convention, when a nomination merely and not an election was taking place, the interest of the people justified the Western Union Telegraph Company in sending out fifteen million words from the building during the three days of the convention. Wires ran from it directly to the offices of all the principal newspapers from San Francisco to Boston, and in Chicago itself there were two hundred extra operators, and relays of horsemen galloping continually with "copy" from the convention to the main offices of the different telegraph companies.

This merely shows a difference of temperament: the American likes to know what has happened while it is hot, and to know all that has happened. The European and the Parisian, on this occasion at least, was content to wait at a café in ease and comfort until he was told the result. He did not feel that he could change that result in any way by going out to Versailles in the hot sun and cheering his candidate from the outside of an iron fence.

[Pg 119]

At the gate of the Place d'Armes there was a crowd of fifty people, watched by a few hundred more from under the shade of the trees and the awnings of the restaurants around the square. The dust rose in little eddies, and swept across the square in yellow clouds, and the people turned their backs to it and shrugged their shoulders and waited patiently. Inside of the Court of Honor a single line of lancers stood at their horses' heads, their brass helmets flashing like the signals of a dozen heliographs. Officers with cigarettes and heavily braided sleeves strolled up and down, and took themselves much more seriously than they did the matter in hand. A dozen white-waistcoated and high-hatted Deputies standing outside of the Chamber suggested nothing more momentous or national than a meeting of a Presbyterian General Assembly. Bicyclers of both sexes swung themselves from their machines and peered curiously through the iron fence, and, seeing nothing more interesting than the fluttering pennants of the lancers, mounted their wheels again and disappeared in the clouds of dust.

In the meanwhile Casimir-Perier has been elected on the first ballot, [Pg 120] which was taken without incident, save when one Deputy refused to announce his vote as the roll was called until he was addressed as "citizen," and not as "monsieur." This silly person was finally humored, and the result was declared, and Casimir-Perier left the hall to put on a dress-suit in order that he might receive the congratulations of his friends. As the first act of the new President, this must not be considered as significant of the particular man who did it, but as illustrating the point of view of his countrymen, who do not see that if the highest office in the country cannot lend sufficient dignity to the man who holds it, a dress-suit or his appearance on horseback is hardly able to do so. The congratulations last a long time, and are given so heartily and with such eloquence that the new President weeps while he grasps the hand of his late confrères, and says to each, "You must help me; I need you all." Neither is the fact that the President wept on this occasion significant of anything but that he was laboring under much excitement, and that the temperament of the French is one easily moved. People who cannot see why a strong man should weep merely because he has become a President must remember that Casimir-Perier wears the cross of the Legion of Honor for bravery in action on the field of battle.

[Pg 121]

The congratulations come to an end at last, and the new President leaves the palace, and takes his place in the open carriage that has been waiting his pleasure these last two hours. There is a great crowd around the gate now, all Versailles having turned out to cheer him, and he can hear them crying "Vive le Président!" from far across the length of the Court of Honor.

M. Dupuy, his late rival at the polls, seats himself beside him on his left, and two officers in uniform face him from the front. Before his carriage are two open lines of cavalry, proudly conscious in their steel breastplates and with their carbines on the hip that they are to convoy the new President to Paris; and behind him, in close order, are the lancers, with their flashing brass helmets, and their pennants fluttering in the wind. The horses start forward with a sharp clatter of hoofs on the broad stones of the square, the Deputies raise their high hats, and with a jangling of steel chains and swords, and with the pennants snapping in the breeze like tiny whips, the new President starts on his triumphal ride into Paris. The colossal statues of France's great men, from Charlemagne to Richelieu, look down upon him curiously as he whirls between them to the iron gateway and disappears [Pg 122] in the alley of mounted men and cheering civilians. He is out of it in a moment, and has galloped on in a whirling cloud of yellow dust towards the city lying seven miles away, where, six months later, by his unexpected resignation, he is to create a consternation as intense as that which preceded his election.

It would be interesting to know of what Casimir-Perier thought as he rode through the empty streets in the cool of the summer evening, startling the villagers at their dinners, and bringing them on a run to the doors by the ringing jangle of his mounted men and the echoing hoofs. Perhaps he thought of the anarchists who might attempt his life, or of those who succeeded with the man whose place he had taken, or, what is more likely, he gave himself up to the moment, and said to himself, as each new face was framed by a window or peered through a doorway: "Yes, it is the new President of France, Casimir-Perier; not only of France, but of all her colonies. By to-night they will know in Siam, in Tunis, in Algiers, and in the swamps of Dahomey that there is a new step on the floor, and governors of provinces, and native rulers of barbarous states, and sous-préfets, and pretenders to the throne of France, will consider anxiously what the change means to them, and [Pg 123] will be measuring their fortunes with mine."

The carriage and its escort enter the cool shadows of the Bois de Boulogne at Passy, and pass Longchamps, where the French President annually reviews the army of France, and where now the victorias and broughams and fiacres draw to one side; and he notes the look of amused interest on the faces of their occupants as his outriders draw rapidly nearer, and the smiles of intelligence as they comprehend that it is the new President, and he catches a glimpse out of the corner of his eye of nodding faces, and hats half raised in salute as he gallops past. It must have been a pleasant drive. Very few men have taken it. Very few men have swept round the circle of the Arc de Triomphe and seen the mass of glittering carriages stretching far down the avenue part and make way for them on either side.

Casimir-Perier's brief term included many imbitterments, but it is a question if they will ever destroy the sweetness of that moment when power first touched him as he was borne back to Paris the President of France; and in his retirement he will recall that ride in the summer [Pg 124] twilight, which the refractory Deputies who caused his downfall have never taken, and hear again the people cheering at Versailles, and the galloping horses, and see the crowd that waited for him in the Place de la Concorde and ran beside his carriage across the bridge.

Although the funeral procession was not to leave the Élysée until ten o'clock on Sunday morning, the thrifty citizens of Paris began to prepare for it as early as eleven o'clock on Saturday night. The Champs Élysées at that hour was lined with tables, boxes, and ladders, and any other portable object that could afford from its top a view of the pageant and standing-room, for which one might reasonably ask a franc. This barricade stretched in an unbroken front, which extended far back under the trees from the Avenue Marigny to the Place de la Concorde, where it spread out over the raised sidewalks and around the fountains and islands of safety, until the square was transformed into what looked like a great market-place. It was one of the most curious sights that Parisians have ever seen in time of peace. Over four thousand people were encamped around these temporary stands, some drinking and eating, others sleeping, and others busily and noisily engaged in [Pg 125] erecting still more stands, while the falling of the boards that were to form them rattled as they fell from the carts to the asphalt like the reports of musketry. Each stand was lit by a lantern and a smoking lamp; and the men and women, as they moved about in the half-darkness, or slept curled up beneath the carts and tables, suggested the bivouac of an army, or that part of a besieged city where the people had gathered with their household goods for safety.

The procession the next morning moved down the Champs Élysées and across the Place de la Concorde and along the Rue de Rivoli to Notre Dame, from whence, after the ceremony there, it proceeded on to the Panthéon. All of this line of march was guarded on either side by double lines of infantry, and one can obtain an idea of how great was the crowd behind them by the fact that on the morning of the procession five hundred people were taken in ambulances to the different hospitals of Paris. This included those who had fainted in the crush, or who had been overcome by the heat, or who had fallen from one of the many tottering scaffoldings. Each of the great vases along the iron fence of the Tuileries held one or two men, one of whom sat opposite us [Pg 126] across the Rue de Rivoli, who had been there six hours, like Stylites on his pillar, except that the Parisian had an opera-glass, a morning paper, and a bottle of red wine to keep him company. The trees in the Tuileries were blackened with men, and the sky-line of every house-top moved with them. The crowd was greatest perhaps in the Place de la Concorde, where it spread a black carpet over the great square, which parted and fell away before the repeated charges of the cavalry like a piece of cloth before a pair of shears. It was a most orderly crowd, and an extremely good-humored one, and it manifested no strong feeling at any time, except over two features of the procession, which had nothing to do with the death of Carnot. Except when there was music, which was much too seldom, the crowd chattered and laughed as it might have done at a purely military function, and only the stern hisses of a few kept the majority from applauding any one who passed for whom they held an especial interest.

The procession left the Élysée at ten o'clock, to the accompaniment of minute-guns from the battery on the pier near the Chamber of Deputies. It was led by a very fine body of cuirassiers, who presented a better [Pg 127] appearance than any of the soldiers in the procession. It was not the great military display that had been expected; there was no artillery in line, and the navy was not represented, save by a few guards around the wreath from the officers of that particular service. The regiments of infantry, who were followed by the cavalry, lacked form, and marched as though they had not convinced themselves that what they were doing was worth doing well. The infantry was followed by the mourning-wreaths sent by the Senate and by the different monarchs of Europe. These wreaths form an important and characteristic part of the funeral of a great man in France, and as the French have studied this form of expressing their grief for some time, they produce the most magnificent and beautiful tributes, of greater proportions and in better taste than any that can be seen in any other country in the world. The larger of these wreaths were hung from great scaffoldings, supported on floats, each drawn by four or six horses. Some of these were so large that a man standing upright within them could not touch the opposite inner edges with his finger-tips. They were composed entirely of orchids or violets, with bands of purple silk stretching from side to side, and [Pg 128] bearing the names of the senders in gold letters. The wreath sent by the Emperor of Russia was given a place by itself, and mounted magnificently on a car draped with black, and surrounded by a special guard of military and servants of the household. The wreaths of the royalties were followed by more soldiers, and then came the black and silver catafalque that bore the body of the late President. The wheels of this car were muffled with cloth, and the horses that drew it were completely hidden under trappings of black and silver; the reins were broad white ribbons, and there was a mute at each horse's head. As the car passed, there was the first absolute silence of the morning, and many people crossed themselves, and all of the men stood bareheaded.

Separated from the catafalque by but a few rods, and walking quite alone, was the new President, Casimir-Perier. There were soldiers and attendants between him and the line of soldiers which guarded the sidewalks, but he was alone in that there was no one near him. According to the protocol he should not have been there at all, as the etiquette of this function ruled that the new President should not intrude his person upon the occasion when the position held by his predecessor is being officially recognized for the last time. [Pg 129] Casimir-Perier, however, chose to disregard the etiquette of this protocol, arguing that the occasion was exceptional, and that no one had a better right to mourn for the late President than the man who had succeeded to the dangers and responsibilities of that office. He was also undoubtedly moved by the fact that it was generally believed that his life would be attempted if he did walk conspicuously in the procession. Had Carnot died a natural death, Casimir-Perier's presence at the funeral would have been in debatable taste, but Carnot's assassination, and the threats which hung thick in the air, made the President take the risk he did, in spite of the fact that Carnot had been murdered in a public place, and not on account of it.

It was distinctly a courageous thing for him to do, and it was done against the wishes of his best friends and the entreaties of his family, who spent the entire night before the procession in a chapel praying for his safety. He walked erect, with his eyes turned down, and with his hat at his side. He was in evening dress, with the crimson sash of the Legion of Honor across his breast, and he presented a fine and soldierly bearing, and made an impression, both by his appearance and by his action, that could not have been gained so soon in any other manner.

[Pg 130]

The embassies and legations followed Casimir-Perier in an irregular mass of glittering groups. All of these men were on foot. There was no exception permitted to this rule; and it was interesting to see Lord Dufferin in the uniform of a viceroy of India, which he wore instead of his diplomatic uniform, marching in the dust in the same line with the firemen and letter-carriers. The ambassadors and their attachés were undoubtedly the most brilliant and picturesque features of the occasion, and the United States ambassador and his secretaries were, on account of the contrast their black-and-white evening dress made to the colors and ribbons of the others, on this occasion, the most conspicuous and appropriately dressed men present.

[Pg 131-32]


[Pg 133]

But what best pleased the French people were two girls dressed in the native costumes of Alsace and Lorraine. They headed the deputation from those provinces. The girl who represented Alsace was particularly beautiful, with long black hair parted in the middle, and hanging down her back in long plaits. She wore the characteristic head-dress of the Alsacian women, and a short red skirt, black velvet bodice, and black stockings. She carried the French flag in front of her draped in crêpe, and as she stepped briskly forward the wind blew the black bow on her hair and the folds of the flag about her face, and gave her a living and spirited air that in no way suited the occasion, but which delighted the populace. They applauded her and her companion from one end of the march to the other, and the spectacle must have rendered the German ambassador somewhat uncomfortable, and made him wish for a billet among a people who could learn to forget. The only other feature of the procession which called forth applause, which no one tried to suppress, was the presence in it of an old general who was mistaken by the spectators for Marshal Canrobert. This last of the marshals of France was too ill to march in the funeral cortége; but the old soldier, who looked not unlike him, and whose limping gait and bent back and crutch-stick led him to be mistaken for the marshal, served the purpose quite as well. One wondered if it did not embarrass the veteran to find himself so suddenly elevated into the rôle of popular idol of the hour; but perhaps he persuaded himself that it was his white hair and crutch and many war-medals which called forth the ovation, and that he deserved it on his own account—as who can say he did not?

The unpleasant incident of the day was one which was unfortunately [Pg 134] acted in full view of the balconies of the hotels Meurice and Continental. These were occupied by most of the foreigners visiting Paris, and were virtually the grandstands of the spectacle.

In the Rue Castiglione, which separated the two hotels, and in full sight of these critical onlookers, a horse was taken with the blind staggers, and upset a stand, throwing those who sat upon it out into the street. In an instant the crash of the falling timbers and the cries of the half-dozen men and women who had been precipitated into the street struck panic into the crowd of sight-seers on the pavement and among the firemen who were at that moment marching past. The terror of another dynamite outrage was in the minds of all, and without waiting to learn what had happened, or to even look, the thousands of people broke into a confused mass of screaming, terrified creatures, running madly in every direction, and changing the quiet solemnity of the moment into a scene of horror and panic. The firemen dropped the wreath they were carrying and fled with the crowd; and then the French soldiers who were lining the pavements, to the astonishment [Pg 135] and disgust of the Americans and English on the balconies, who were looking down like spectators at a play, tucked their guns under their arms and joined in the mad rush for safety. It was a sight that made even the women on the balconies keep silence in shame for them. It was pathetic, ridiculous, and inexcusable, and the boy officers on duty would have gained the sympathy of the unwilling spectators had they cut their men down with their swords, and shown the others that he who runs away from a falling grandstand is not needed to live to fight a German army later. It is true that the men who ran away were only boys fresh from the provinces, with dull minds filled with the fear of what an anarchist might do; but it showed a lack of discipline that should have made the directors of the Salon turn the military pictures in that gallery to the wall, until the picture exhibited in the Rue Castiglione was effaced from the minds of the visiting strangers. Imagine a squad of New York policemen running away from a horse with the blind staggers, and not, on the contrary, seizing the chance to club every one within reach back to the sidewalk! Remember the London bobby who carried a dynamite bomb in his hand from the hall of the Houses of Parliament, and the Chicago police who walked into a real [Pg 136] anarchist mob over the bodies of their comrades, and who answered the terrifying bombs with the popping of their revolvers! It is surprising that Napoleon, looking down upon the scene in the Rue Castiglione from the top of his column, did not turn on his pedestal.

After such an exhibition as this it was only natural that the people should turn from the soldiers to find the greater interest in the miles of wreaths that came from every corner of France. These were the expressions of the truer sympathy with the dead President, and there seemed to be more sentiment and real regret in the little black bead wreaths from the villages in the south and west of France than there were in all the great wreaths of orchids and violets purchased on the boulevards.

The procession had been two hours in passing a given point. It had moved at ten o'clock, and it was four in the afternoon before it dispersed at the Panthéon, and Deputies in evening dress and attachés in uniform and judges in scarlet robes could be seen hurrying over Paris in fiacres, faint and hot and cross, for the first taste of food and drink that had touched their lips since early morning. A few hours later there was not a soldier out of his barracks, the scaffoldings had [Pg 137] been taken to pieces, the spectators had been distributed in trains to the environs, the bands played again in the gardens, and the theatres opened their doors. Paris had taken off her mourning, and fallen back into her interrupted routine of pleasure, and had left nothing in the streets to show that Carnot's body had passed over them save thousands of scraps of greasy newspapers in which the sympathetic spectators of the solemn function had wrapped their breakfasts.

[Pg 138]


I THINK the most satisfying thing about the race for the Grand Prix at Longchamps is the knowledge that every one in Paris is justifying your interest in the event by being just as much excited about it as you are. You have the satisfaction of feeling that you are with the crowd, or that the crowd is with you, as you choose to put it, and that you move in sympathy with hundreds of thousands of people, who, though they may not be at the race-track in person, wish they were, which is the next best thing, and which helps you in the form of moral support, at least. You feel that every one who passes by knows and approves of your idea of a holiday, and will quite understand when you ride out on the Champs Élysées at eleven o'clock in the morning with four other men packed in one fiacre, or when, for no apparent reason, you hurl your hat into the air.

[Pg 139]

There are two ways of reaching Longchamps, the right way and the wrong way. The wrong way is to go with the crowd the entire distance through the Bois, and so find yourself stopped half a mile from the race-track in a barricade of carriages and hired fiacres, with the wheels scraping, and the noses of the horses rubbing the backs of the carriages in front. This is entertaining for a quarter of an hour, as you will find that every American or English man and woman you have ever met is sitting within talking distance of you, and as you weave your way in and out like a shuttle in a great loom you have a chance to bow to a great many friends, and to gaze for several minutes at a time at all of the celebrities of Paris. But after an hour has passed, and you have discovered that your driver is not as clever as the others in stealing ground and pushing himself before his betters, you begin to grow hot, dusty, and cross, and when you do arrive at the track you are not in a proper frame of mind to lose money cheerfully and politely, like the true sportsman that you ought to be.

The right way to go is through the Bois by the Lakes, stopping within sound of the waterfall at the Café de la Cascade. The advantage of this [Pg 140] is that you escape the crowd, and that you have the pleasing certainty in your mind throughout the rest of the afternoon of knowing that you will be able to find your carriage again when the races are over. If you leave your fiacre at the main entrance, you will have to pick it out from three or four thousand others, all of which look exactly alike; and even if you do tie a red handkerchief around the driver's whip, you will find that six hundred other people have thought of doing the same thing, and you will be an hour in finding the right one, and you will be jostled at the same time by the boys in blouses who are hunting up lost carriages, and finding the owners to fit them.

You can avoid all this if you go to the Cascade and take your coachman's little ticket, and send him back to wait for you in the stables of the café, not forgetting to give him something in advance for his breakfast. It is then only a three minutes' walk from the restaurant among the trees to the back door of the race-track, and in five minutes after you have left your carriage you will have passed the sentry at the ticket-box, received your ticket from the young woman inside of it, given it to the official with a high hat and a big badge, and will be within the enclosure, with your temper unruffled and your [Pg 141] boots immaculate. And then, when the races are over, you have only to return to the restaurant and hand your coachman's ticket to the tall chasseur, and let him do the rest, while you wait at a little round table and order cooling drinks.

All great race meetings look very much alike. There are always the long grandstand with human beings showing from the lowest steps to the sky-line; the green track, and the miles of carriages and coaches encamped on the other side; the crowd of well-dressed people in the enclosure, and the thin-legged horses cloaked mysteriously in blankets and stalking around the paddock; the massive crush around the betting-booths, that sweeps slowly in eddies and currents like a great body of water; and the rush which answers the starting-bell. The two most distinctive features of the Grand Prix are the numbers of beautifully dressed women who mix quietly with the men around the booths at which the mutuals are sold, and the fact that every one speaks English, either because that is his native tongue, or because, if he be a Frenchman, he finds so many English terms in his racing vocabulary that it is easier for him to talk entirely in that tongue than to change from French to English three or four times in each sentence.

[Pg 142]

But the most curious, and in a way the most interesting feature of the Grand Prix day, is the queer accompaniment to which the races are run. It never ceases or slackens, or lowers its sharp monotone. It comes from the machines which stamp the tickets bought in the mutual pools. If you can imagine a hundred ticket-collectors on an elevated railroad station all chopping tickets at the same time, and continuing at this uninterruptedly for five hours, you can obtain an idea of the sound of this accompaniment. It is not a question of cancelling a five-cent railroad ticket with these little instruments. It is the same to them whether they clip for the girl who wagers a louis on the favorite for a place, and who stands to win two francs, or for the English plunger who has shoved twenty thousand francs under the wire, and who has only the little yellow and red ticket which one of the machines has so nonchalantly punched to show for his money. People may neglect the horses for luncheon, or press over the rail to see them rush past, or gather to watch the President of the Republic enter to a solemn fanfare of trumpets between lines of soldiers, but there are always a few left to feed these little machines, and their clicking goes on through the whole of the hot, dusty day, like the clipping of the shears of Atropos.

[Pg 143-44]



The Grand Prix is the only race at which you are generally sure to win money. You can do this by simply betting against the English horse. The English horse is generally the favorite, and of late years the French horse-owners have been so loath to see the blue ribbon of the French turf go to perfidious Albion that their patriotism sometimes overpowers their love of fair play. If the English horse is not only the favorite, but also happens to belong to the stable of Baron Hirsch, you have a combination that apparently can never win on French soil, and you can make your bets accordingly. When Matchbox walked on to the track last year, he was escorted by eight gendarmes, seven detectives in plain clothes, his two trainers, and the jockey, and it was not until he was well out in the middle of the track that this body-guard deserted him. Possibly if they had been allowed to follow him round the course on bicycles he might have won, and no combination of French jockeys could have ridden him into the rail, or held Cannon back by a pressure of one knee in front of another, or driven him to making such excursions into [Pg 146] unknown territory to avoid these very things that the horse had little strength left for the finish.

But perhaps the French horse was the better one, after all, and it was certainly worth the loss of a few francs to see the Frenchmen rejoice over their victory. To their minds, such a defeat of the English on the field of Longchamps went far to wipe away the memory of that other victory on the field near Brussels.

Grand Prix night is a fête-night in Paris—that is, in the Paris of the Boulevards and the Champs Élysées—and if you wish to dine well before ten o'clock, you should engage your table for that night several days in advance.

You have seen people during Horse Show week in New York waiting in the hall at Delmonico's for a table for a half-hour at a time, but on Grand Prix night you will see hundreds of hungry men standing outside of the open-air restaurants in the Champs Élysées, or wandering disconsolately under the trees from the crowded tables of l'Horloge across the Avenue to those of the Ambassadeurs', and from them to the Alcazar d'Été, and so on to Laurent's and the Café d'Orient. Every one apparently is dining out-of-doors on that night, and the white tables, with their little lamps, and with bottles of red wine flickering in [Pg 147] their light, stretch under the trees from the Place de la Concorde up to the Avenue Matignon. There are splashing fountains between them and bands of music, and the voices of the singers in the cafés chantants sound shrilly above the chorus of rattling china and of hundreds of people talking and laughing, and the never-ceasing undertone of the cabs rolling by on the great Avenue, with their lamps approaching and disappearing in the night like thousands of giant fire-flies. You are sure to dine well in such surroundings, and especially so after the great race—for the reason that if your friends have won, they command a good dinner to celebrate the fact; or should they have lost, they design a better one in order to help them forget their ill-fortune.

The spirit of adventure and excitement that has been growing and feeding upon itself throughout the day of the Grand Prix reaches its climax after the dinner hour, and finds an outlet among the trees and Chinese lanterns of the Jardin de Paris. There you will see all Paris. It is the crest of the highest wave of pleasure that rears itself and breaks there.

You will see on that night, and only on that night, all of the most celebrated women of Paris racing with linked arms about the asphalt [Pg 148] pavement which circles around the band-stand. It is for them their one night of freedom in public, when they are permitted to conduct themselves as do their less prosperous sisters, when, instead of reclining in a victoria in the Bois, with eyes demurely fixed ahead of them, they can throw off restraint and mix with all the men of Paris, and show their diamonds, and romp and dance and chaff and laugh as they did when they were not so famous. The French swells who are their escorts have cut down Chinese lanterns with their sticks, and stuck the candles inside of them on the top of their high hats with the burning tallow, and made living torches of themselves. So on they go, racing by—first a youth in evening dress, dripping with candle-grease, and then a beautiful girl in a dinner gown, with her silk and velvet opera cloak slipping from her shoulders—all singing to the music of the band, sweeping the people before them, or closing in a circle around some stately dignitary, and waltzing furiously past him to prevent his escape. Sometimes one party will storm the band-stand and seize the musicians' instruments, while another invades the stage of the little theatre, or overpowers the women in charge of the shooting-gallery, or institutes a hurdle-race over the iron tables and the wicker chairs.

[Pg 149-50]


[Pg 151]

Or you will see ambassadors and men of title from the Jockey Club jostling cockney bookmakers and English lords to look at a little girl in a linen blouse and a flat straw hat, who is dancing in the same circle of shining shirt-fronts vis-à-vis to the most-talked-of young person in Paris, who wears diamonds in ropes, and who rode herself into notoriety by winning a steeplechase against a field of French officers. The first is a hired dancer, who will kick off some gentleman's hat when she wants it, and pass it round for money, and the other is the companion of princes, and has probably never been permitted to enter the Jardin de Paris before; but they are both of the same class, and when the music stops for a moment they approach each other smiling, each on her guard against possible condescension or familiarity; and the hired dancer, who is as famous in her way as the young girl with the ropes of diamonds is in hers, compliments madame on her dancing, and madame calls the other "mademoiselle," and says, "How very warm it is!" and the circle of men around them, who are leaning on each other's shoulders and standing on benches and tables to look, smile [Pg 152] delightedly at the spectacle. They consider it very chic, this combination. It is like a meeting between Madame Bernhardt and Yvette Guilbert.

But the climax of the night was reached last year when the band of a hundred pieces struck buoyantly into that most reckless and impudent of marches and comic songs, "The Man that Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo." The cymbals clashed, and the big drums emphasized the high notes, and the brass blared out boastfully with a confidence and swagger that showed how sure the musicians were of pleasing that particular audience with that particular tune. And they were not disappointed. The three thousand men and women hailed the first bars of the song with a yell of recognition, and then dancing and strutting to the rhythm of the tune, and singing and shouting it in French and English, they raised their voices in such a chorus that they could be heard defiantly proclaiming who they were and what they had done as far as the boulevards. And when they reached the high note in the chorus, the musicians, carried away by the fever of the crowd, jumped upon the chairs, and held their instruments as high above their heads as they could without losing control of that note, and every one stood on tiptoe, and many on one [Pg 153] foot, all holding on to that highest note as long as their breath lasted. It was a triumphant, reckless yell of defiance and delight; it was the war-cry of that class of Parisians of which one always reads and which one sees so seldom, which comes to the surface only at unusual intervals, and which, when it does appear, lives up to its reputation, and does not disappoint you.

It happened a short time ago, when I was in Paris, that the ranks of those members of the Institute of France who are known as the Forty Immortals were incomplete, one of the Forty having but lately died. I do not now recall the name of this Immortal, which is not, I trust, an evidence of ignorance on my part so much as it is an illustration of the circumstance that when men choose to make sure of immortality while they are alive, in preference to waiting for it after death, they are apt to be considered, when they cease to live, as having had their share, and the world closes its account with them, and opens up one with some less impatient individual. It is only a matter of choice, and suggests that one cannot have one's cake and eat it too. And so, while we can but envy François Coppée in his green coat and his laurel [Pg 154] wreath of the Immortals of France, we may remember the other sort of immortality that came to François Villon and François Millet, who were not members of the Institute, and whose coats were very ragged indeed. I do, however, remember the name of the gentleman who was elected to fill the vacancy in the ranks of the Forty, and in telling how he and other living men take on the robe of immortality I hope to report the proceedings of one of the most interesting functions of the French capital. He was the Vicomte de Bornier, and his name was especially impressed upon me by a paragraph which appeared in the Figaro on the day following his admittance to the Academy.

"M. Manel," the paragraph read, "the well-known journalist, has renounced his candidacy for the vacant chair among the Forty Immortals. M. Manel will be well remembered by Parisians as the author who has written so much and so charmingly under the nom de plume of 'Le Vicomte de Bornier.'" Whether this was or was not fair to the gentleman I had seen so highly honored I do not know, but it was calculated to make him a literary light of interest.

You are told in Paris that the title of Academician is the only one remaining under the republic which counts for anything; and, on the [Pg 155] other hand, you hear the Academy called a pleasant club for old gentlemen, to which new members are elected not for any great work which they are doing in the world, but because their point of view is congenial to those who are already members. All that can be said against the Academy by a Frenchman has been printed by Alphonse Daudet in The Immortals. In that novel he charges that the Academy numbs the style of whosoever wears its green livery; he says that he who enters its door leaves originality behind, that he grows conservative and self-conscious, and that whatever freshness of thought or literary method may have been his before his admittance to its venerable portals is chilled by the severe classicism of his thirty-nine brethren.

This may or may not be true of some of the members, but it certainly cannot be true of all, as many of them were never distinguished as authors, but were elected, as were De Lesseps and Pasteur, for discoveries and research in science, medicine, or engineering.

Nor is it true of M. Paul Bourget, who is the last distinguished Frenchman to be received into the ranks of the Immortals. The same [Pg 156] observations which he made to me while in this country, and when he was not an Academician, upon Americans and American institutions, he has repeated, since his accession to the rank of an Immortal, in Outre Mer. And the freedom with which he has spoken shows that the shadow of the palm-trees has not clouded his cosmopolitan point of view, nor the classicism of the Academy dulled his wonderful powers of analysis. In his election, representing as he does the most brilliant of the younger and progressive school of French writers, the Academy has not so much honored the man as the man has honored the Academy.

M. Daudet's opinion, however, is interesting as being that of one of the most distinguished of French writers, and it is a satire which costs something, for it shuts off M. Daudet forever from hope of election to the body at which he scoffs, and at the same time robs him of the possibility of ever enjoying the added money value which attaches to each book that bears the leaves of the Academy on its title-page. Since the days of Richelieu, Frenchmen have mocked at this institution, and Frenchmen have given up years of their lives in working, scheming, and praying to be admitted to its councils, and died disappointed, and bitterly cursing it in their hearts. We have on the one hand the familiar story of Alexis Piron, who had engraved on his tombstone,

"Ci-gît Piron, qui ne fut rien, Pas même Académicien."

[Pg 159]

And on the other there is the present picture of M. Zola knocking year after year at its portals, asking men in many ways his inferior to permit him a right to sit beside them. If you look over its lists from 1635 to the present day you will find as many great names among its members as those which are missing from its rolls; so that proves nothing.

[Pg 157-58]


No ridicule can disestablish the importance of the work done by the Academy in keeping the French language pure, or the value of its Dictionary, or the incentive which it gives to good work by examining and reporting from time to time on literary, scientific, and historical works.

A short time ago the anarchists of Paris determined to actively ridicule the Académie Française by putting forth a foolish person, Citizen Achille Le Roy, as a candidate for its honors. As a preliminary to election to the Academy a candidate must call upon all [Pg 160] of its members. It is a formality which may be considered somewhat humiliating, as it suggests begging from door to door, hat in hand; but Citizen Le Roy made his round of visits in triumphal state, dressed in the cast-off uniform of a Bolivian general, and accompanied by a band of music and a wagonette full of journalists. Wherever he was not received he deposited an imitation bomb at the door of the member who had refused to see him, either as a warning or as a joke, and much to the alarm of the servants who opened the door. He concluded his journey, which extended over several days, by being photographed outside of the door of the Institute, which was, of course, the only side of the door which he will ever see.

The Institute of France stands beyond the bridges, facing the Seine. It is a most impressive and ancient pile, built around a great court, and guarded by statues in bronze and stone of the men who have been admitted to its gates. The ceremony of receiving a new member takes place in one end of this quadrangle of stone, in a little round hall, not so large as the auditorium of a New York theatre, and built like a dissecting-room, with three rows of low-hanging stone balconies [Pg 161] circling the entire circumference of its walls. One part of the lowest balcony is divided into two large boxes, with a high desk between them, and a flight of steps leading down from it into the pit, which is packed close with benches. In one of these boxes sit some members of the Institute, and in the other the members of the Académie Française, which is only one, though the best known, of the five branches into which the Institute is divided. Behind the high desk sits the President, or, as he is called, the Secrétaire Perpétuel, of the Academy, with a member on either side. It is the duty of one of these to read the address of welcome to the incoming mortal.

It is a very pretty sight and a most important function in the social world, and as there are no reserved places, the invited ones come as early as eight o'clock in the morning to secure a good place, although the brief exercises do not begin until two o'clock in the afternoon. At that hour the street outside is lined with long rows of carriages, guarded by the smartest of English coachmen, and emblazoned with the oldest of French coats-of-arms. In the court-yard there is a fluttering group of pretty women in wonderful toilets, surrounding a few distinguished-looking men with ribbons in their coats, and encircled [Pg 162] by a ring of journalists making notes of the costumes and taking down the names of the social celebrities. A double row of soldiers—for the Institute is part of the state—lines the main hall leading to the chamber, and salutes all who pass, whether men or women.

I was so unfortunate as to arrive very late, but as I came in with the American ambassador I secured a very good place, although a most awkwardly conspicuous one. Three old gentlemen in silk knickerbockers and gold chains bowed the ambassador down the hall between the soldiers, and out on to the steps which lead from the desk between the boxes in which sat the Immortals. There they placed two little camp-stools about eight inches high, on which they begged us to be seated. There was not another square foot of space in the entire chamber which was not occupied, so we dropped down upon the camp-stools. We were as conspicuous as you would be if you seated yourself on top of the prompter's box on the stage of the Grand Opera-house, and I felt exactly, after the audience had examined us at their leisure, as though the Secretary was about to suddenly rap on his desk and auction me off for whatever he could get. Still, we sat [Pg 163] among the Immortals, if only for an hour, and that was something. The venerable Secretary peered over his desk, and the other Immortals gazed with polite curiosity, for the ambassador had only just arrived in Paris, and was not yet known.

The gentleman on the right of the Secretary was François Coppée, a very handsome man, with a strong, kind face, smoothly shaven, and suggesting a priest or a tragic actor. He wore the uniform of the Academy, which Napoleon spent much time in devising. It consists of a coat of dark green, bordered with palm leaves in a lighter green silk; there are, too, a high standing collar and a white waistcoat and a pearl-handled sword. The poet also wore a great many decorations, and smiled kindly upon Mr. Eustis and myself, with apparently great amusement. On the other side of the President, back of Mr. Eustis, was Comte d'Haussonville; he is a tall man with a Vandyck beard, and it was he who was to read the address of welcome to the Vicomte de Bornier.

Below in the pit, and all around in the balconies, were women beautifully dressed, among whom there were as few young girls as there were men. These were the most interesting women in Parisian [Pg 164] society—the ladies of the Faubourg St.-Germain, who at that time would have appeared at scarcely any other function, and the ladies who support the Revue des Deux Mondes, and the pretty young daughters of champagne and chocolate-making papas who had married ancient titles, and who try to emulate in their interests, if not in their toilets, their more noble sisters-in-law, and all the prettiest women of the high world, as well as the sisters of pretenders to the throne and the wife of President Carnot. The absence of men was very noticeable; the Immortals seemed to have it all to themselves, and it looked as though they had purposely refrained from asking any men, or that the men who had not been given the robe of immortality were jealous, and so stayed away of their own accord. Those who were there either looked bored, or else posed for the benefit of the ladies, with one hand in the opening of their waistcoats, nodding their heads approvingly at what the speaker said. In the pit I recognized M. Blowitz, the famous correspondent of the Times, entirely surrounded by women. He wore a gray suit and a flowing white tie, and he did not seem to be having a very good time. There were also among the Immortals Jules Simon, and [Pg 165] Alexandre Dumas fils, dark-skinned, with little, black, observant eyes, and white, curled hair, and crisp mustache. He seemed to be more interested in watching the women than in listening to the speeches, and moved restlessly and inattentively. When the exercises were over, and the Academicians came out of their box and were presented to Mr. Eustis, Dumas was gravely courteous, and spoke a few words of welcome to the ambassador in a formal, distant way, and then hurried off by himself without waiting to chat with the women, as the others did. He was the most interesting of them all to me, and the least interested in what was going on. There were many others there, and it was amusing to try and fasten to them the names of Pasteur and Henri Meilhac, Ludovic Halévy, and the Duc d'Aumale, the uncle of the Comte de Paris, who was then alive, and Benjamin Constant, who had the week before been admitted to the Institute. Some of them, heavy-eyed men, with great firm jaws and heavy foreheads, wearing their braided coats uneasily, as though they would have been more comfortable in a surgeon's apron or a painter's blouse, kept you wondering what they had done; and others, dapper and smiling and obsequious, made you ask what they could possibly do.

[Pg 166]

The Vicomte Bornier opened the proceedings by reading his address to the beautiful ladies, with his cocked hat under his arm and his mother-of-pearl sword at his side, and I am afraid it did not appeal to me as a very serious business. It was too suggestive of an afternoon tea. There was too much patting of kid-gloved hands, and too many women altogether. It was a little like Bunthorne and the twenty maidens. If the little theatre had been crowded with men eager to hear what this new light in literature had to say, it might have been impressive, but the sight of forty distinguished men sitting apart and calling themselves fine names, and surrounded by women who believed they were what they called themselves, had its humorous side. I could not make out what the speech was about, because the French was too good; but it was eminently characteristic and interesting to find that both Bornier and D'Haussonville made their most successful points when they paid compliments to the ladies present, or to womenkind in general, or when they called for revenge on Germany. I thought it curious that even in a eulogy on a dead man, and in an address of welcome to a live one, each Frenchman could manage to introduce at least three references of Alsace-Lorraine, and to bow and make pretty speeches to the ladies in the audience.

[Pg 167-68]


[Pg 169]

There is a peculiarity about this second address which is worth noting. It concerns itself with the virtues of the incoming member, and as he is generally puffed up with honor, the address is always put into the hands of one whose duty it is to severely criticise and undervalue him and his words. It is a curious idea to belittle the man whom you have just honored, but it is the custom, and as both speeches are submitted to a committee before they are read, there is no very hard feeling. It is only in the address read after a member's death that he is eulogized, and then it does not do him very much good. On the occasion of Pierre Loti's admission to the Academy he, instead of eulogizing the man whose place he had taken, lauded his own methods and style of composition so greatly that when the second member arose he prefaced his remarks by suggesting that "M. Loti has said so much for himself that he has left me nothing to add."

It is very much of a step from the Académie Française to the Fête of Flowers in the Bois de Boulogne, but the latter comes under the head [Pg 170] of one of the shows of Paris, and is to me one of the prettiest and the most remarkable. I do not believe that it could be successfully carried out in any other city in the world. There would certainly be horse-play and roughness to spoil it, and it is only the Frenchman's idea of gallantry and the good-nature of both the French man and woman which render it possible. It would be an easy matter to hold a fête of flowers at Los Angeles or at Nice, or in any small city or watering-place where all the participants would know one another and the masses would be content to act as spectators; but to venture on such a spectacle, and to throw it open to any one who pays a few francs, in as great a city as Paris, requires, first of all, the highest executive ability before the artistic and pictorial side of the affair is considered at all, and the most hearty co-operation of the state or local government with the citizens who have it in hand.

On the day of the fête the Allée du Jardin d'Acclimatation in the Bois is reserved absolutely for the combatants in this annual battle of flowers, which begins at four o'clock in the afternoon and lasts uninterruptedly until dinner-time. Each of the cross-roads leading up [Pg 171] to the Allée is barricaded, and carriages are allowed to enter or to depart only at either end. This leaves an open stretch of road several miles in extent, and wide enough for four rows of carriages to pass one another at the same moment. Thick woods line the Allée on either side, and the branches of the trees almost touch above it. Beneath them, and close to the roadway, sit thousands of men, women, and children in close rows, and back of them hundreds more move up and down the pathways. The carriages proceed in four unbroken lines, two going up and two going down; and as they pass, the occupants pelt each other and the spectators along the road-side with handfuls of flowers. For three miles this battle rages between the six rows of people, and the air is filled with the flying missiles and shrieks of laughter and the most graceful of compliments and good-natured blague. At every fifty yards stands a high arch, twined with festoons trailing from one arch to the next, and temporary flagpoles flying long banners of the tricolor, and holding shields which bear the monogram of the republic. The long festoons of flowers and the flags swinging and flying against the dark green of the trees form the Allée into one long tunnel of color and light; and at every thirty paces there is the gleaming cuirass of a [Pg 172] trooper, with the sun shining on his helmet and breastplate, and on other steel breastplates, which extend, like the mirrors in "Richard III.," as far as the eye can reach, flashing and burning in the sun. Between these beacons of steel, and under the flags and flowers and green branches, move nearly eight miles of carriages, with varnished sides and polished leather flickering in the light, each smothered with broad colored ribbons and flowers, and gay with lace parasols.

It is a most cosmopolitan crowd, and it is interesting to see how seriously some of the occupants of the carriages take the matter in hand, and how others turn it into an ovation for themselves, and still others treat it as an excuse to give some one else pleasure. You will see two Parisian dandies in a fiacre, with their ammunition piled as high as their knees, saluting and chaffing and calling by name each pretty woman who passes, and following them in the line you will see a respectable family carriage containing papa, mamma, and the babies, and with the coachman on the box hidden by great breastworks of bouquets. To the proud parents on the back seat the affair is one which is to be met with dignified approval, and they bow politely to whoever hurls a [Pg 173] rose or a bunch of wild flowers at one of their children. They, in their turn, will be followed by a magnificent victoria, glittering with varnish and emblazoned by strange coats-of-arms, and holding two coal-black negroes, with faces as shiny as their high silk hats. They have with them on the front seat a hired guide from one of the hotels, who is showing Paris to them, and who is probably telling them that every woman who laughs and hits them with a flower is a duchess at least, at which their broad faces beam with good-natured embarrassment and their teeth show, and they scramble up and empty a handful of rare roses over the lady's departing shoulders. There are frequent halts in the procession, which moves at a walk, and carriages are often left standing side by side facing opposite ways for the space of a minute, in which time there is ample opportunity to exhaust most of the ammunition at hand, or to express thanks for the flowers received. The good order of the day is very marked, and the good manners as well. The flowers are not accepted as missiles, but as tributes, and the women smile and nod demurely, and the men bow, and put aside a pretty nosegay for the next meeting; and when they draw near the same carriage again, [Pg 174] they will smile their recognition, and wait until the wheels are just drawing away from one another, and then heap their offerings at the ladies' feet.

There are a great number of Americans who are only in Paris for the month, and whom you have seen on the steamer, or passing up the Rue de la Paix, or at the banker's on mail day, and they seize this chance to recognize their countrymen, and grow tremendously excited in hitting each other in the eyes and on the nose, and then pass each other the next day in the Champs Élysées without the movement of an eyelash. The hour excuses all. It has the freedom of carnival-time without its license, and it is pretty to see certain women posing as great ladies, in hired fiacres, and being treated with as much empressement and courtesy by every man as though he believed the fiacre was not hired, and the pearl necklace was real and not from the Palais Royal, and that he had not seen the woman the night before circling around the endless treadmill of the Jardin de Paris. Sometimes there will be a coach all red and green and brass, and sometimes a little wicker basket on low wheels, with a donkey in the shafts, and filled with children in the care of a groom, who holds them by their skirts to keep them from hurling themselves out after the flowers, and who looks [Pg 175] immensely pleased whenever any one pelts them back and points them out as pretty children. But the greater number of the children stand along the road-side with their sisters and mothers. They are of the good bourgeois class and of the decently poor, who beg prettily for a flower instead of giving one, and who dash out under the wheels for those that fall by the wayside, and return with them to the safety of their mother's knee in a state of excited triumph.

When you see how much one of the broken flowers means to them, you wonder what they think of the cars that pass toppling over with flowers, with the harness and the spokes of the wheels picked out in carnations, and banked with shields of nodding roses at the sides and backs.

These are the carriages entered for prizes, and some of them are very wonderful and very beautiful. One holds a group of Rastaqouères, who have spent a clerk's yearly income in decorating their victoria, that they may send word back to South America that they have won a prize from a board of Parisian judges.

And another is a big billowy phaeton blooming within and without with white roses and carnations, and holding a beautiful lady with auburn [Pg 176] hair and powdered face, and with the lace of her Empire bonnet just falling to the line of her black eyebrows. She is all in white too, with white gloves, and a parasol of nothing but white lace, and she reclines rather than sits in this triumphal car of pure white flowers, like a Cleopatra in her barge, or Venus lying on the white crest of the waves. All the men recognize her, and throw their choicest offerings into her lap; but whenever I saw her she seemed more interested in the crowds along the road-side, who announced her approach with an excited murmur of admiration, and the little children in blouses threw their nosegays at her, and then stood back, abashed at her loveliness, with their hands behind them. She was quite used to being pelted with flowers at one of the theatres, but she seemed to enjoy this tribute very much, and she tossed roses back at the children, and watched them as they carried her flowers to the nurse or the elder sister who was taking care of them, and who looked after the woman with frightened, admiring eyes.

[Pg 177]


AMERICANS who go to Paris might be divided, for the purposes of this article at least, into two classes—those who use Paris for their own improvement or pleasure, and those who find her too strong for them, and who go down before her and worship her, and whom she either fashions after her own liking, or rides under foot and neglects until they lose heart and disappear forever.

Balzac, in the last paragraph of one of his novels, leaves his hero standing on the top of a hill above Paris, shaking his fist at the city below him, and cursing her for a wanton.

One might argue that this was a somewhat childish and theatrical point of view for the young man to have taken. He probably found in Paris exactly what he brought there, and it seems hardly fair, because the [Pg 178] city was stronger than he, that he should blame her and call her a hard name. Paris is something much better than that, only the young man was probably not looking for anything better. He had taken her frivolous side too seriously, and had not sought for her better side at all. Some one should have told him that Paris makes a most agreeable mistress, but a very hard master.

There are a few Americans who do not know this until it is too late, until they lose their heads with all the turmoil and beauty and unending pleasures of the place, and grow to believe that the voice of Paris is the voice of the whole world. Perhaps they have heard the voice speak once; it has praised a picture which they have painted, or a book of verses that they have written, or a garden fête that they have given, at which there were present as many as three ambassadors. And they sit breathless ever after, waiting for the voice to speak to them again, and while they are waiting Paris is exclaiming over some new picture, or another fête, at which there were four ambassadors; and the poor little artist or the poor little social struggler wonders why he is forgotten, and keeps on struggling and fluttering and biting his nails and eating his heart out in private, listening for the voice to speak his name once more.

[Pg 179-80]


[Pg 181]

He will not believe that his time has come and gone, and that Paris has no memory, and no desire but to see and to hear some new thing. She has taken his money and eaten his dinners and hung his pictures once or twice in a good place; but, now that his money is gone, Paris has other dinners to eat, and other statues to admire, and no leisure time to spend at his dull receptions, which have taken the place of his rare dinners, or to climb to his garret when there is a more amusing and more modern painter on the first floor.

Paris is full of these poor hangers-on, who have allowed her to use them and pat them on the back, and who cannot see that her approbation is not the only reward worth the striving for, but who go on year after year tagging in her train, beseeching her to take some notice of them. They are like the little boys who run beside the coaches and turn somersaults to draw a copper from the passengers on top, and who are finally left far behind, unobserved and forgotten beside the dusty road. The wise man and the sensible man takes the button or the medal or the place on a jury that Paris gives him, and is glad to get it, and proud of the recognition and of the source from which it comes, and [Pg 182] then continues on his way unobserved, working for the work's sake. He knows that Paris has taught him much, but that she has given him all she can, and that he must now work out his own salvation for himself.

Or, if he be merely an idler visiting Paris for the summer, he takes Paris as an idler should, and she receives him with open arms. He does not go there to spend four hours a day, or even four hours a week, in the serious occupation of leaving visiting-cards. He does not invite the same people with whom he dined two weeks before in New York to dine and breakfast with him again in Paris, nor does he spend every afternoon in a frock-coat watching polo, or in flannels playing lawn-tennis on the Île de Puteaux. He has tennis and polo at home. Nor did he go all the way to Paris to dance in little hot apartments, or to spend the greater part of each day at the race-tracks of Longchamps or Auteuil. The Americans who do these things in Paris are a strange and incomprehensible class. Fortunately they do not form a large class, but they do form a conspicuous one, and while it really does not concern any one but themselves as to how they spend their time, it is a little [Pg 183] aggravating to have them spoiling the local color of a city for which they have no real appreciation, and from which they get no more benefit than they would have received had they remained at home in Newport.

They treat Paris as they would treat Narragansett Pier, only they act with a little less restraint, and are very much more in evidence. They are in their own environment and in the picture at the Pier or at the Horse Show, and if you do not like it you are at perfect liberty to keep out of it, and you will not be missed; but you do object to have your view of the Arc de Triomphe cut in two by a coach-load of them, or to have them swoop down upon D'Armenonville or Maxim's on the boulevards, calling each other by their first names, and running from table to table, and ordering the Hungarians to play "Daisy Bell," until you begin to think you are in the hall of the Hotel Waldorf, and go out into the night to hear French spoken, if only by a cabman.

I was on the back seat of a coach one morning in the Bois de Boulogne, watching Howlett give a man a lesson in driving four horses at once.

It was very early, and the dew was still on the trees, and the great, [Pg 184] broad avenues were empty and sweet-smelling and green, and I exclaimed on the beauty of Paris. "Beautiful?" echoed Howlett. "I should say it was, sir. Now in London, sir, all the roads lie so straight there's no practice driving there. But in Paris it's all turns and short corners. It's the most beautiful city in the world." I thought it was interesting to find a man so wrapped up in his chosen work that he could see nothing in the French capital but the angles which made the driving of four horses a matter of some skill. But what interest can you take in those Americans who have been taught something else besides driving, and who yet see only those things in Paris that are of quite as little worth as the sharp turns of the street corners?

You wonder if it never occurs to them to walk along the banks of the Seine and look over the side at the people unloading canal-boats, or clipping poodles, or watering cavalry horses, or patiently fishing; if they never pull over the books in the stalls that line the quays, or just loiter in abject laziness, with their arms on the parapet of a bridge, with the sun on their backs, and the steamboats darting to and fro beneath them, and with the towers of Notre Dame before and the [Pg 185] grim prison of the Conciergerie on one side. Surely this is a better employment than taking tea to the music of a Hungarian band while your young friends from Beverly Farms and Rockaway knock a polo-ball around a ten-acre lot. I met two American women hurrying along the Rue de Rivoli one morning last summer who told me that they had just arrived in Paris that moment, and were about to leave two hours later for Havre to take the steamer home.

"So," explained the elder, "as we have so much time, we are just running down to the Louvre to take a farewell look at 'Mona Lisa' and the 'Winged Victory;' we won't see them again for a year, perhaps." Their conduct struck me as interesting when compared with that of about four hundred other American girls, who never see anything of Paris during their four weeks' stay there each summer, because so much of their time is taken up at the dress-makers'. It is pathetic to see them come back to the hotel at five, tired out and cross, with having had to stand on their feet four hours at a time while some mysterious ceremony was going forward. It is hard on them when the sun is shining out-of-doors and there are beautiful drives and great art galleries and quaint old chapels and curious museums and ancient gardens lying free [Pg 186] and open all around them, that they should be compelled to spend four weeks in this fashion.

There was a young woman of this class of American visitors to Paris who had just arrived there on her way from Rome, and who was telling us how much she had delighted in the galleries there. She was complaining that she had no more pictures to enjoy. Some one asked her what objection she had to the Louvre or the Luxembourg.

"Oh, none at all," she said; "but I saw those pictures last year."

These are the Americans who go to Paris for the spring and summer only, who live in hotels, and see little of the city beyond the Rue de la Paix and the Avenue of the Champs Élysées and their bankers'. They get a great deal of pleasure out of their visit, however, and they learn how important a thing it is to speak French correctly. If they derive no other benefit from their visit they are sufficiently justified, and when we contrast them with other Americans who have made Paris their chosen home, they almost shine as public benefactors in comparison.

For they, at least, bring something back to their own country: themselves, and pretty frocks and bonnets, and a certain wider knowledge of the world. That is not much, but it is more than the American Colony does.

[Pg 187-88]


[Pg 189]

There is something fine in the idea of a colony, of a body of men and women who strike out for themselves in a new country, who cut out their homes in primeval forests, and who make their peace with the native barbarians. The Pilgrim Fathers and the early settlers in Australia and South Africa and amidst the snows of Canada were colonists of whom any mother-nation might be proud; but the emigrants who shrink at the crudeness of our present American civilization, who shirk the responsibilities of our government, who must have a leisure class with which to play, and who are shocked by the familiarity of our press, are colonists who leave their country for their country's good. The American Colony in Paris is in a strange position. Its members are neither the one thing nor the other. They cannot stand in the shadow of the Arc de Triomphe and feel that any part of its glory falls on them, nor can they pretend an interest in the defeat of Tammany Hall, nor claim any portion in the magnificent triumph of the Chicago Fair. Their attitude must always be one of explanation; they are continually on the [Pg 190] defensive; they apologize to the American visitor and to the native Frenchman; they have declined their birthright and are voluntary exiles from their home. The only way by which they can justify their action is either to belittle what they have given up, or to emphasize the benefits which they have received in exchange, and these benefits are hardly perceptible. They remain what they are, and no matter how long it may have been since they ceased to be Americans, they do not become Frenchmen. They are a race all to themselves; they are the American Colony.

On regular occasions this Colony asserts itself, but only on those occasions when there is a chance of its advertising itself at the expense of the country it has renounced. When this chance comes the Colonists suddenly remember their former home; they rush into print, or they make speeches in public places, or buy wreaths for some dead celebrity. Or when it so happens that no one of prominence has died for some time, and there seems to be no other way of getting themselves noticed, the American Colony rises in its strength and remembers Lafayette, and decorates his grave. Once every month or so they march out into the country and lay a wreath on his tomb, and so for the moment gain a certain vogue with the Parisians, which is all that [Pg 191] they ask. They do not perform this ceremony because Lafayette fought in America, but because he was a Frenchman fighting in America, and they are playing now to the French galleries and not to the American bleaching-boards. There are a few descendants of Lafayette who are deserving of our sincere sympathy. For these gentlemen are brought into the suburbs many times a year in the rain and storm to watch different American Colonists place a wreath on the tomb of their distinguished ancestor, and make speeches about a man who left his country only to fight for the independence of another country, and not to live in it after it was free. Some day the descendants of Lafayette and the secretaries of the American embassy will rise up and rebel, and refuse to lend themselves longer to the uses of these gentlemen.

They will suggest that there are other graves in Paris. There is, for instance, the grave of Paul Jones, who possibly did as much for America on the sea as Lafayette did on shore. If he had only been a Frenchman, with a few descendants of title still living who would consent to act as chief mourners on occasion, his spirit might hope to be occasionally remembered with a wreath or two; but as it is, he is not to be [Pg 192] considered with the French marquis, who must, we can well imagine, turn uneasily beneath the wreaths these self-advertising patriots lay upon his grave.

The American Colony is not wicked, but it would like to be thought so, which is much worse. Among some of the men it is a pose to be considered the friend of this or that particular married woman, and each of them, instead of paying the woman the slight tribute of treating her in public as though they were the merest acquaintances, which is the least the man can do, rather forces himself upon her horizon, and is always in evidence, not obnoxiously, but unobtrusively, like a pet cat or a butler, but still with sufficient pertinacity to let you know that he is there.

As a matter of fact the women have not the courage to carry out to the end these affairs of which they hint, as have the French men and women around them whose example they are trying to emulate. And, moreover, the twenty-five years of virtue which they have spent in America, as Balzac has pointed out, is not to be overcome in a day or in many days, and so they only pretend to have overcome it, and tell risqués [Pg 193] stories and talk scandalously of each other and even of young girls. But it all begins and ends in talk, and the risqués stories, if they knew it, sound rather silly from their lips, especially to men who put them away when they were boys at boarding-school, and when they were so young that they thought it was grand to be vulgar and manly to be nasty.

It is a question whether or not one should be pleased that the would-be wicked American woman in Paris cannot adopt the point of view of the Parisian women as easily as she adopts their bonnets. She tries to do so, it is true; she tries to look on life from the same side, but she does not succeed very well, and you may be sure she is afraid and a fraud at heart, and in private a most excellent wife and mother. If it be reprehensible to be a hypocrite and to pretend to be better than one is, it should also be wrong to pretend to be worse than one dares to be, and so lend countenance to others. It is like a man who shouts with the mob, but whose sympathies are against it. The mob only hears him shout and takes courage at his doing so, and continues in consequence to destroy things. And these foolish, pretty women lend countenance by their talk and by their stories to many things of which they know [Pg 194] nothing from experience, and so do themselves injustice and others much harm. Sometimes it happens that an outsider brings them up with a sharp turn, and shows them how far they have strayed from the standard which they recognized at home. I remember, as an instance of this, how an American art student told me with much satisfaction last summer of how he had made himself intensely disagreeable at a dinner given by one of these expatriated Americans. "I didn't mind their taking away the character of every married woman they knew," he said; "they were their own friends, not mine; but I did object when they began on the young girls, for that is something we haven't learned at home yet. And finally they got to Miss ——, and one of the women said, 'Oh, she has so compromised herself now that no one will marry her.'"

At which, it seems, my young man banged the table with his fist, and said: "I'll marry her, if she'll have me, and I know twenty more men at home who would be glad of the chance. We've all asked her once, and we're willing to ask her again."

[Pg 195-96]


[Pg 197]

There was an uncomfortable pause, and the young woman who had spoken protested she had not meant it so seriously. She had only meant the girl was a trifle passée and travel-worn. But when the women had left the table, one of the men laughed, and said:

"You are quite like a breeze from the piny woods at home. I suppose we do talk rather thoughtlessly over here, but then none of us take what we say of each other as absolute truth."

The other men all agreed to this, and protested that no one took them or what they said seriously. They were quite right, and, as a matter of fact, it would be unjust to them to do so, except to pity them. The Man without a Country was no more unfortunate than they. It is true they have Henry's bar, where they can get real American cocktails, and the Travellers', where they can play real American poker; but that is as near as they ever get to anything that savors of our country, and they do not get as near as that towards anything that savors of the Frenchman's country. They have their own social successes, and their own salons and dinner-parties, but the Faubourg St.-Germain is as strange a territory to many of them as though it were situated in the heart of the Congo Basin.

Of course there are many fine, charming, whole-souled, and clean-minded [Pg 198] American women in Paris. They are the wives of bankers or merchants or the representatives of the firms which have their branches in Paris and London as well as New York. And there are hundreds more of Americans who are in Paris because of its art, the cheapness of its living, and its beauty. I am not speaking of them, and should they read this they will understand.

The American in Paris of whom one longest hesitates to speak is the girl or woman who has married a title. She has been so much misrepresented in the press, and so misunderstood, and she suffers in some cases so acutely without letting it be known how much she suffers, that the kindest word that could be said of her is not half so kind as silence. No one can tell her more distinctly than she herself knows what her lot is, or how few of her illusions have been realized. It is not a case where one can point out grandiloquently that uneasy lies the head that wears a coronet; it is not magnificent sorrow; it is just pathetic, sordid, and occasionally ridiculous. To treat it too seriously would be as absurd as to weep over a man who had allowed himself to be fooled by a thimblerigger; only in this case it is a woman who has been imposed upon, and who asks for your sympathy.

[Pg 199]

There is a very excellent comic song which points out how certain things are only English when you see them on Broadway; and a title, or the satisfaction of being a countess or princess, when viewed from a Broadway or Fifth Avenue point of view, is a very pretty and desirable object. But as the title has to be worn in Paris and not in New York, its importance lies in the way in which it is considered there, not here. As far as appears on the surface, the American woman of title in Paris fails to win what she sought, from either her own people or those among whom she has married. To her friends from New York or San Francisco she is still Sallie This or Eleanor That. Her friends are not deceived or impressed or overcome—at least, not in Paris. When they return to New York they speak casually of how they have been spending the summer with the Princess So-and-So, and they do not add that she used to be Sallie Sprigs of San Francisco. But in Paris, when they are with her, they call her Sallie, just as of yore, and they let her understand that they do not consider her in any way changed since she has become ennobled, or that the glamour of her rank in any way dazzles them. And she in her turn is so anxious that they shall have nothing to [Pg 200] say of her to her disadvantage when they return that she shows them little of her altered state, and is careful not to refer to any of the interesting names on her new visiting-list.

Her husband's relations in France are more disappointing: they certainly cannot be expected to see her in any different light from that of an outsider and a nobody; they will not even admit that she is pretty; and they say among themselves that, so long as Cousin Charles had to marry a great fortune, it is a pity he did not marry a French woman, and that they always had preferred the daughter of the chocolate-maker, or the champagne-grower, or the Hebrew banker—all of whom were offered to him. The American princess cannot expect people who have had title and ancestors so long as to have forgotten them to look upon Sallie Sprigs of California as anything better than an Indian squaw. And the result is, that all which the American woman makes by her marriage is the privilege of putting her coronet on her handkerchief and the humble deference of the women at Paquin's or Virot's, who say "Madame the Baroness" and "Madame the Princess" at every second word. It really seems a very heavy price to pay for very little.

[Pg 201]

We are attributing very trivial and vulgar motives to the woman, and it may be, after all, that she married for love in spite of the title, and not on account of it. But if these are love-matches, it would surely sometimes happen that the American men, in their turn, would fall in love with foreign women of title, and that we would hear of impecunious princesses and countesses hunting through the States for rich brokers and wheat-dealers. Of course the obvious answer to this is that the American women are so much more attractive than the men that they appeal to people of all nations and of every rank, and that American men are content to take them without the title.

The rich fathers of the young girls who are sacrificed should go into the business with a more accurate knowledge of what they are buying. Even the shrewdest of them—men who could not be misled into buying a worthless railroad or an empty mine—are frequently imposed upon in these speculations. The reason is that while they have made a study of the relative values and the soundness of railroads and mines, they have not taken the pains to study this question of titles, and as long as a man is a count or a prince, they inquire no further, and one of them [Pg 202] buys him for his daughter on his face value. There should be a sort of Bradstreet for these rich parents, which they could consult before investing so much money plus a young girl's happiness. There are, as a matter of fact, only a very few titles worth buying, and in selecting the choice should always lie between one of England and one of Germany. An English earl is the best the American heiress can reasonably hope for, and after him a husband with a German title is very desirable. These might be rated as "sure" and "safe" investments.

But these French titles created by Napoleon, or the Italians, with titles created by the Papal Court, and the small fry of other countries, are really not worth while. Theirs are not titles; as some one has said, they are epitaphs; and the best thing to do with the young American girl who thinks she would like to be a princess is to take her abroad early in her life, and let her meet a few other American girls who have become princesses. After that, if she still wants to buy a prince and pay his debts and supply him with the credit to run into more debt, she has only herself to blame, and goes into it with her pretty eyes wide open. It will be then only too evident that she is fitted for nothing higher.

[Pg 203-04]


[Pg 205]

On no one class of visitor does Paris lay her spell more heavily than on the American art student. For, no matter where he has studied at home, or under what master, he finds when he reaches Paris so much that is new and beautiful and full of inspiration that he becomes as intolerant as are all recent converts, and so happy in his chosen profession that he looks upon everything else than art with impatience and contempt. As art is something about which there are many opinions, he too often passes rapidly on to the stage when he can see nothing to admire in any work save that which the master that he worships declares to be true, and he scorns every other form of expression and every other school and every other artist.

You almost envy the young man his certainty of mind and the unquestionableness of his opinion. He will take you through the Salon at a quick step, demolishing whole walls of pictures as he goes with a sweeping gesture of the hand, and will finally bring you breathless before a little picture, or a group of them, which, so he informs you, are the only ones in the exhibition worthy of consideration. And on the day following a young disciple of another school will escort you [Pg 206] through the same rooms, and regard with pitying contempt the pictures which your friend of the day before has left standing, and will pick out somewhere near the roof a strange monstrosity, beneath which he will stand with bowed head, and upon which he will comment in a whisper.

It is an amusing pose, and most bewildering to a philistine like myself when he finds all the artists whom he had venerated denounced as photographers and decorators, or story-tellers and illustrators. I used to be quite ashamed of the ignorance which had left me so long unenlightened as to what was true and beautiful.

These boys have, perhaps, an aunt in Kansas City, or a mother in Lynn, Massachusetts, who is saving and pinching to send them fifteen or twenty dollars a week so that they can learn to be great painters, and they have not been in Paris a week before they have changed their entire view of art, and adopted a new method and a new master and a new religion. It is nowise derogatory to a boy to be supported by a fond aunt in Kansas City, who sends him fifteen dollars a week and the news of the social life of that place, but it is amusing to think how she and his cousins in the West would be awed if they heard him damn a [Pg 207] picture by waving his thumb in the air at it, and saying, "It has a little too much of that," with a downward sweep of the thumb, "and not enough of this," with an upward sweep. For one hardly expects a youth who is still at Julien's, and who has not yet paid the first quarter's rent for his studio, to proclaim all the first painters of France as only fit to color photographs. It is as if some one were to say, "You can take away all of the books of the Boston Library and nothing will be lost, but spare three volumes of sonnets written by the only great writer of the present time, who is a friend of mine, and of whom no one knows but myself."

Of course one must admire loyalty of that sort, for when it is loyalty to an idea it cannot help but be fine and sometimes noble, though it is a trifle amusing as well. It is just this tenacity of belief in one's own work, and just this intolerance of the work of others, that make Paris inspiring. A man cannot help but be in earnest, if he amounts to anything at all, when on every side he hears his work attacked or vaunted to the skies. As long as the question asked is "Is it art?" and not "Will it sell?" and "Is it popular?" the influence must be for good.

[Pg 208]

These students, in their loyalty to the particular school they admire, of course proclaim their belief in every public and private place, and are ever on their guard, but it is in their studios that they have set up their gods and established their doctrines most firmly.

One of these young men, whom I had known at college, took me to his studio last summer, and asked me to tell him how I liked it. It was a most embarrassing question to me, for to my untrained eye the rooms seemed to be stricken with poverty, and so bare as to appear untenanted. I said, at last, that he had a very fine view from his windows.

"Yes, but you say nothing of the room itself," he protested; "and I have spent so much time and thought on it. I have been a year and a half in arranging this room."

"But there is nothing in it," I objected; "you couldn't have taken a year and a half to arrange these things. There is not enough of them. It shouldn't have taken more than half an hour."

He smiled with a sweet, superior smile, and shook his head at me. "I am afraid," he said, "that you are one of those people who like studios filled with tapestries and armor and palms and huge, hideous chests of carved wood. You are probably the sort of person who would hang [Pg 209] a tennis-racket on his wall and consider it decorative. We believe in lines and subdued colors and broad, bare surfaces. There is nothing in this room that has not a meaning of its own. You are quite right; there is very little in it; but what is here could not be altered or changed without spoiling the harmony of the whole, and nothing in it could be replaced or improved upon."

I regarded the studio with renewed interest at this, and took a mental inventory of its contents for my own improvement. I was guiltily conscious that once at college I had placed two lacrosse-sticks over my doorway, and what made it worse was that I did not play lacrosse, and that they had been borrowed from the man up-stairs for decorative purposes solely. I hoped my artist friend would not question me too closely. His room had a bare floor and gray walls and a green door. There was a long, low bookcase, and a straight-legged table, on which stood, ranged against the wall, a blue and white jar, a gold Buddha, and a jade bottle. On one wall hung a gray silk poke-bonnet, of the fashion of the year 1830, and on another an empty gold frame. With the exception of three chairs there was nothing else in the room. I moved [Pg 210] slightly, and with the nervous fear that if I disturbed or disarranged anything the bare gray walls might fall in on me. And then I asked him why he did not put a picture in his frame.

"Ah, exactly!" he exclaimed, triumphantly; "that shows exactly what you are; you are an American philistine. You cannot see that a picture is a beautiful thing in itself, and that a dead-gold frame with its four straight lines is beautiful also; but together they might not be beautiful. That gray wall needs a spot on it, and so I hung that gold frame there, not because it was a frame, but because it was beautiful; for the same reason I hung that eighteen-thirty bonnet on the other wall. The two grays harmonize. People do not generally hang bonnets on walls, but that is because they regard them as things of use, and not as things of beauty."

I pointed with my stick at the three lonely ornaments on the solitary table. "Then if you were to put the blue and white jar on the right of the Buddha, instead of on the left," I asked, "the whole room would feel the shock?"

"Of course," answered my friend. "Can't even you see that?"

I tried to see it, but I could not. I had only just arrived in Paris.

[Pg 211]

There was another artist with a studio across the bridges, and his love of art cost him much money and some severe trials. His suite of rooms was all in blue, gray, white, and black. He said that if you looked at things in the world properly, you would see that they were all gray, blue, or black. He had painted a gray lady in a gray dress, with a blue parrot on her shoulder. She had brown lips and grayish teeth. He was very much disappointed in me when I told him that lips always looked to me either pink or red. He explained by saying that my eyes were not trained properly. I resented this, and told him that my eyes were as good as his own, and that a recruiting officer had once tested them with colored yarns and letters of the alphabet held up in inaccessible corners, and had given me a higher mark for eyesight than for anything else. He said it was not a question of colored yarns; and that while I might satisfy a recruiting sergeant that I could distinguish an ammunition train from a travelling circus, it did not render me a critic on art matters. He pointed out that the eyes of the women in the Caucasus who make rugs are trained to distinguish a hundred and eighty different shades of colors that other eyes cannot see; and in time, he [Pg 212] added, I would see that everything in real life looked flat and gray. I took a red carnation out of my coat, and put it over the gray lady's lips, and asked him whether he would call it gray or red, and he said that was no argument.

He suffered a great deal in his efforts to live up to his ideas, but assured me that he was much happier than I in my ignorance of what was beautiful. He explained, for instance, that he would like to put up some of the photographs of his family that he had brought with him around his room, but that he could not do it, because photographs were so undecorative. So he kept them in his trunk. He also kept a green cage full of doves because they were gray and white and decorative, and in spite of the fact that they were a nuisance, and always flying away, and being caught again by small boys, who brought them back, and wanted a franc for so doing. He suffered, too, in his inability to find the shade of blue for his chair covers that would harmonize with the rest of his room. He covered the furniture five times, and never successfully, and hence the cushions of his lounge and stiff chairs were still as white as when they had last gone to the upholsterer's.

[Pg 213]

These young men are friends of mine, and I am sure they will not object to my describing their ateliers, of which they were very proud. They believed in their own schools, and in their own ways of looking at art, and no one could laugh or argue them out of it; consequently they deserved credit for the faith that was in them. They are chiefly interesting here as showing how a young man will develop in the artistic atmosphere of Paris. It is only when he ceases to develop, and sinks into the easy lethargy of a life of pleasure there, that he becomes uninteresting.

There was still another young man whom I knew there who can serve here now as an example of the American who stops in Paris too long.

I first met this artist at a garden-party, and he asked me if I did not think it dull, and took me for a walk up to Montmartre, talking all the way of what a great and beautiful mother Paris was to those who worked there. His home was in Maine, and he let me know, without reflecting on his native town, that he had been choked and cramped there, and that his life had been the life of a Siberian exile. Here he found people who could understand; here, the very statues and buildings gave him [Pg 214] advice and encouragement; here were people who took him and his work seriously, and who helped him on to fresh endeavors, and who made work a delight.

"I have one picture in the Salon," he said, flushing with proper pride and pleasure, "and one has just gone to the World's Fair, and another has received an honorable mention at Munich. That's pretty good for my first year, is it not? And I'm only twenty-five years old now," he added, with his eyes smiling into the future at the great things he was to do. Nobody could resist the contagion of his enthusiasm and earnestness of purpose.

He was painting the portrait of some rich man's daughter at the time, and her family took a patronizing interest in him, and said it was a pity that he did not go out more into society and get commissions. They asked me to tell him to be more careful about his dress, and to suggest to him not to wear a high hat with a sack-coat. I told them to leave him alone, and not to worry about his clothes, or to suggest his running after people who had pretty daughters and money enough to have them painted. These people would run after him soon enough, if he went on as he had begun.

[Pg 215-16]


[Pg 217]

When I saw him on the boulevards the next summer he had to reintroduce himself; he was very smartly dressed, in a cheap way, and he was sipping silly little sweet juices in front of a café. He was flushed and nervous and tired looking, and rattled off a list of the fashionable people who were then in Paris as correctly as a Galignani reporter could have done it.

"How's art?" I asked.

"Oh, very well," he replied. "I had a picture in the Salon last year, and another was commended at Munich, and I had another one at the Fair. That's pretty good for my first two years abroad, isn't it?"

The next year I saw him several times with various young women in the court-yard of the Grand Hôtel, than which there is probably no place in all Paris less Parisian. They seemed to be models in street dress, and were as easy to distinguish as a naval officer in citizen's clothes. He stopped me once again before I left Paris, and invited me to his studio to breakfast. I asked him what he had to show me there.

"I have three pictures," he said, "that I did the first six months I was here; they—"

"Yes, I know," I interrupted. "One was at last year's Salon, and one at the World's Fair, and the other took a prize at Munich. Is that all?"

[Pg 218]

He flushed a little, and laughed, and said, "Yes, that is all."

"Do you get much inspiration here?" I asked, pointing to the colored fountain and the piles of luggage and the ugly glass roof.

"I don't understand you," he said.

He put the card he had held out to me back in his case, and bowed grandly, and walked back to the girl he had left at one of the tables, and on my way out from the offices I saw him frowning into a glass before him. The girl was pulling him by the sleeve, but he apparently was not listening.

The American artist who has taken Paris properly has only kind words to speak of her. He is grateful for what she gave him, but he is not unmindful of his mother-country at home. He may complain when he returns of the mud in our streets, and the height of our seventeen-story buildings, and the ugliness of our elevated roads—and who does not? But if his own art is lasting and there is in his heart much constancy, his work will grow and continue in spite of these things, and will not droop from the lack of atmosphere about him. New York and every great city owns a number of these men who have studied [Pg 219] in the French capital, and who speak of it as fondly as a man speaks of his college and of the years he spent there. They help to leaven the lump and to instruct others who have not had the chance that was given them to see and to learn of all these beautiful things. These are the men who made the Columbian Fair what it was, who taught their teacher and the whole world a lesson in what was possible in architecture and in statuary, in decoration and design. That was a much better and a much finer thing for them to have done than to have dragged on in Paris waiting for a ribbon or a medal. They are the best examples we have of the Americans who made use of Paris, instead of permitting Paris to make use of them. And because they did the one thing and avoided the other, they are now helping and enlightening their own people and a whole nation, and not selfishly waiting in a foreign capital for a place on a jury for themselves.


Transcriber's Note:

1. Obvious punctuation and typographical errors repaired.

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