volume is written to show the life of the students in the
Paris of today. It has an additional interst in opening to inspection
certain phases of Bohemian life in Paris that are shared both by the
students and the public, but that are generally unfamiliar to visitors
to that wonderful city, and even to a very large part of the city's
population itself. It depects the underside of such life as the
students find, — the loose, unconventional life of the
humbler strugglers in literature and art, with no attempt to spare its
salient features, its poverty and picturesqueness, and its lack of
adherence to generally accepted standards of morals and conduct.
is told in the
article describing the incomparably brilliant spectacle, the ball of
the Four Arts, extreme care is taken to exclude the public and admit
only artists and students, all of whom must be properly accredited and
fully identified. It is well understood that such a spectacle would not
be suitable for any but artists and students. It is given solely for
their benefit, and with the high aim, fully justified by the experience
of the masters who direct the students, that the event, with its
marvellous brilliancy, is spldid artistic effects, and its freedom and
abondon, has a stimulating and broadening effect of the greatest value
to art. The artists and students see in these annual spectacles only
grace, beauty and majesty; their training in the studios, where they
learn to regard models merely as tools of their craft, fits them, and
them alone, for the wholesome enjoyment of the great ball.
is a student that presents the insight which this volume
gives into the life of the students and other Bohemians of Paris. It is
set forth with the frankness of a student. Coming from such a source,
and having such treatment, it will have a special charm and value for
may now and then offend their sense of right, their
ways of living, their escapades, their noisy and joyous
manifestations of healthy young animal life are good-naturedly
overlooked. Underneath such a life there lies, concealed from casual
view, another life they lead, — one of hard work, of hope,
of aspiration, and often of pinching poverty and cruel self-denial. The
stress upon them, of many kinds is great. The utter absence of an
effort to reorganize their lives upon conventional lines is from a
philisophical belief that if they fail to pass unscathed through it
all, they lack the fine, strong metal from which worthy artists are
stranger in Paris will here find opened to him places in which he may
study for himself the Bohemian way of life of the city in all its
careless disregard of conventions. The cafès,
cabarets, and dance-halls
herein described and illustrated have a charm that wholesome,
well-balanced minds will enjoy. The drawings for the illustrations were
all made from the actual scenes that they depict; they partake of the
engaging frankness of the text and its purpose to show Bohemian life in
the Paris of today without any effort at concealment.
in wonderful Paris at last—Bishop and
I—after a memorable passage full of interest from New York to Havre.
Years of hard work were ahead of us, for Bishop would be an artist and
I a sculptor. For two weeks we had been
lodging temporarily in the top of a comfortable little hotel, called
the Grand something (most of the Parisian hotels are
Grand), the window of which commanded a superb view of the great city,
the vaudeville playhouse of the world. Pour la première fois the
dazzle and glitter had burst upon us, confusing and incomprehensible at
first, but now assuming form and coherence. If we could have had each a
dozen eyes instead of two, or less greed to see and more patience to
Day by day we had put off the inevitable evil of finding a
studio. Every night found us in the cheapest seats of some
theatre, and often we lolled on the terraces of the Café de la
Paix, watching the pretty girls as they passed, their silken skirts
saucily pulled up, revealing dainty laces and ankles. From
the slippery floor of the Louvre galleries we had studied the
masterpieces of David, Rubens, Rembrandt, and the rest; had visited the
Panthéon, the Musée Cluny; had climbed the Eiffel Tower,
and traversed the Bois de Boulogne and the
Champs-Élysées. Then came the search for a studio and the
settling to work. It would be famous to have a little home of our very
own, where we could have little dinners of our very own cooking!
shudder that I recall those eleven days of ceaseless studio-hunting. We
dragged ourselves through miles of Quartier Latin streets, and up
hundreds of flights of polished waxed stairs, behind puffing concierges
in carpet slippers, the puffing changing to grumbling, as,
dissatisfied, the concierges followed us down the stairs. The Ouartier
abounds with placards reading, "Atelier d'Artiste à Louer!" The
rentals ranged from two hundred to two thousand francs a year, and the
sizes from cigar-boxes to barns. But there was always something
lacking. On the eleventh day we found a suitable place on the sixth
(top) floor of a quaint old house in a passage off the Rue
St.-André-des-Arts. There were
overhead and side lights, and from the window a noble view of Paris over the house-tops. A room
size joined the studio, and from its vine-laced window we
into the houses across the court, and
the bottom of the court as well. The studio
walls were delightfully dirty and low in tone,
and were covered
and low in tone, and
were covered with sketches and cartoons in
oil and charcoal. The price was eight hundred francs a year, and from
the concierge's eloquent
catalogue of its charms it seemed a great bargain. The walls settled
our fate,—we took the studio.
was one thing to agree on the price and another to settle the details.
Our French was ailing. and the concierge's French was—concierges'
French. Bishop found that his pet theory that French should be spoken
with the hands, head, and shoulders carried weak spots which a
concierge could discover; and then, being somewhat mercurial, he began
floundering in a mixture of French and English words and French and
American gestures, ending in despair with the observation that the
concierge was a d____ fool. At the end
of an hour we had learned that we must sign
an iron-bound, government-stamped contract, agreeing to occupy the
studio for not less than one year, to give six months' notice of our
leaving, and to pay three months' rental in advance, besides the taxes
for one year on all the doors and windows, and ten francs or more to
the concierge. This was all finally settled.
there was no running water in the rooms (such a luxury being unknown
here), we had to supply our needs from a clumsy old iron pump in the
court, and employ six flights of stairs in the process.
Then the studio had
to be furnished, and there came endless battles with the furniture
dealers in the neighborhood, who kept their stock replenished from the
goods of bankrupt artists and suspended ménages. These marchands
meubles are a wily race, but Bishop pursued a plan in dealing with them
that worked admirably. He would enter a shop and price an article
that we wanted, and then throw up his hands in horror and
and leave the place as
though it were haunted with a plague. The dealer would always come
tumbling after him and offer him the article for a half or a third of
the former price. In this way Bishop bought chairs, tables, a large
easel, beds, a studio stove, book-shelves, linen, drapings, water
pitchers and buckets, dishes, cooking utensils, and many other things,
the cost of the whole being less than one hundred and fifty francs,—
and thus we were established. The studio became quite a snug and
hospitable retreat, in spite of the alarming arrangement that Bishop
adopted, "to help the composition of the room." His favorite cast, the
Unknown Woman, occupied the place of honor over his couch, where he
could see it the first thing in the morning, when the dawn, stealing
through the skylight, brought out those strange and subtle features
which he swore inspired him from day to day. My
a pretty picture,— the dizzy posters, the solemn
trunks, the books, the bed with its gaudy print coverings, and the
little crooked-pane window hung with bright green vines that ran
thither from a box in the window of an adjoining apartment. And it was
all completed by the bright faces of three pretty seamstresses, who sat
sewing every day at their window across the passage.
housekeeping agreement Bishop was
made cook, and I chambermaid and water-carrier. It was Bishop's duty to
obey the alarm clock at six every morning and light the fire, while I
went down for water at the pump, and for milk at the stand beside the
court entrance, where fat Madame Gioté sold café-au-lait
and froid ou chaud, from a sou's worth up. Then, after breakfast, I did
the chamber work while Bishop washed the dishes. Bishop could make for
breakfast the most delicious coffee and flapjacks and omelette in the
whole of Paris. By eight o'clock all
was in order; Bishop was smoking his pipe and singing "Down on the
Farm" while working on his life study, and I was off to my modelling in
soon had the hearts of all the shop-keepers in the neighborhood. The
baker's dimple-cheeked daughter never worried if the scales hung a
little in his favor, at the boucherie he was served with the choicest
cuts of meat, and the fried-potato women called him "mon fils" and
fried a fresh lot of potatoes for him. Even Madame Tonneau, the
marchande de tabac, saw that he had the freshest packages in the shop.
Often, when I was returning home at night, I encountered him making
cheerily for the studio, bearing bread by the yard, his pockets bulging
with other material for dinner. Ah, he was a wonderful cook, and we had
marvellous appetites! So famous did he soon become that the models (the
lady ones, of course) were eager to dine avec nous; and when they did
they helped to set the table, they sewed buttons on our clothes, and
they made themselves agreeable and
perfectly at home with that charming
grace which is so peculiarly French. Ah, those were jolly times!
but was a busy way withal. It had iron-workers' shops, where
hot iron was beaten into artistic lamps, grills, and bed-frames; a
tinsmith's shop; a blanchisserie, where our shirts were made white and
smooth by the pretty blanchisseuses singing all day over their work; a
wine-cellar, whose barrels were eternally blocking one end of the
passage; an embossed picture-card factory, where twoscore women, with
little hammers and steel dies, beat pictures into cards; a furniture
shop, where everything old and artistic was sold, the Hôtel du
Passage, and a bookbinder's shop.
Each of the eight buildings facing the
passage was ruled by a formidable concierge, who had her dark little
living apartments near the entrances. These are the despots of the
court, and their function is to make life miserable for their lodgers.
When they are not doing that they are eternally scrubbing and
polishing. They are all married. M. Mayé, le mari de notre
concierge, is a tailor. He sits at the window and mends and sews all
day long, or acts as concierge when his wife is away. The husband of
the concierge next door is a sergeant de ville at night, but in the
early mornings as, in a soiled blouse, he empties ash-cans, he looks
very unlike the personage dressed at night in a neat blue uniform and
wearing a short sword. Another concierge's husband fait des
courses—runs errands—for sufficient pay.
the Cæsars. Rugs and carpets
must not be shaken out of the windows after nine o'clock. Ashes and
other refuse must be thrown into the big bin of the house not later
than seven. Sharp at eleven in the evening the lights are extinguished
and the doors locked for the night; and then all revelry must
immediately cease. Should you arrive en retard,— that is, after
eleven,— you must ring the bell violently until the despot, generally
after listening for an hour to the bell, unlocks the catch from her
couch. Then when you close the door, and pass her lodge you
must call out your name. If you are out often or till very late, be
prepared for a lecture on the crime of breaking the rest of
hard-working concierges. After the day's work, the concierges draw
their chairs out into the court and gossip about their tenants. The
nearer the lodger is to the roof the less respect he commands.
Would he not live on a lower floor if he were able? And then, the top
floor gives small tips!
It is noticeable that the
entresol and premiers étages are clean and highly polished, and
that the cleanliness and polish diminish steadily toward the top, where
they almost disappear. Ah, les concierges! But what would Paris be without them?
Directly beneath us
an elderly couple have apartments. Every morning at
five the old gentleman starts French oaths
rattling through the court by beating his rugs out of
his window. At six he rouses the ire of a widow below him by watering
his plants and incidentally drenching her bird-cages. Not long ago she
rose in violent rebellion, and he hurled a flower pot at her protruding
head. It smashed on her window-sill; she screamed "Murder!" and the
whole court was in an uproar. The concierges and the old gentleman's
pacific wife finally restored order —till the next morning.
Next to my room are an elderly lady and her sweet,
sad-faced daughter. They are very quiet and dignified, and rarely
fraternize with their neighbors. It is their vine that creeps over to
my window, and it is carefully tended by .the daughter. And all the
doves and sparrows of the court come regularly to eat out of her hand,
and a lively chatter they have over it. The ladies are the widow and
daughter of a once prosperous stock broker on the Bourse, whom an
unlucky turn of the wheel drove to poverty and suicide.
The three seamstresses over the way are the sunshine of the court. They
are not so busy sewing and singing that they don't find time to send
arch glances toward our window. Their blushes and smiles when Bishop
sends them sketches of them that he has made from memory are more than
A young Scotch student from
Glasgow, named Cameron, has a studio adjoining ours. He is a fine,
jovial fellow, and we usually assist him to dispose of his excellent
brew of tea at five o'clock. Every Thursday evening there was given a
musical chez lui, in which Bishop and I assisted with mandolin and
guitar, while Cameron played the flute. For these occasions Cameron
donned his breeks and kilt, and danced the sword-dance round two
table-knives crossed. The American songs strike him as being strange
and incomprehensible. He cannot understand the Negro dialect, and
wonders if America is filled with Negroes and cotton plantations; but
he is always delighted with Bishop's "Down on the Farm."
Life begins at five o'clock in
our court. The old gentleman beats his rugs,
the milk-bottles rattle, the bread-carts rumble,
Madame Giote opens her
and the concierges drag the ash-cans out into the court, where a drove
of rag pickers fall upon them. These gleaners are a queer lot.
Individuals and families pursue the quest, each with a distinct
purpose. One will seek nothing but bones, glass, and crockery; another
sifts the ashes for coal; another takes only paper and rags; another
old shoes and hats; and so on, from can to can, none interfering with
any of the others. The dogs are the first at the bins. They are
regularly organized in working squads, travelling in fours and fives.
They are quite adept at digging through the refuse for food, and they
rarely quarrel; and they never leave one bin for another until they
have searched it thoroughly.
The swish of water and
a coarse brush broom announces the big, strong woman who sweeps the
gutters of the Rue St.-André-des-Arts.. With broad sweeps of the
she spreads the water over half the street and back into the gutter,
making the worn yellow stones shine. She is coarsely clad and wears
black sabots; and God knows how she can swear when the gleaners scatter
the refuse into the gutter!
The long wail of the fish-and-mussel woman, "J'ai des beaux maquereaux,
des moules, poissons a frire, à frire!" as she pushes her cart,
means seven o'clock.
The day now really begins. Water-pails are clanging and sabots are
clicking on the stones. The wine people set up a rumble by cleaning
their casks with chains and water. The anvils of the iron-workers are
ringing, and there comes the tink-tink-tink of the little hammers in
the embossed-picture factory. The lumbering garbage-cart arrives to
bear away the ash-bins, the lead-horse shaking his head to ring the
bell on his neck in announcement of the approach. Street-venders and
hawkers of various comestibles, each with his or her quaint musical
cry, come in numbers. "J'ai des beaux choux-fleurs! O, comme ils sont
beaux!" The fruit-and potato-women come after, and then the
chair-menders. These market-women are early risers. They are at the
great Halles Centrales at four o'clock to bargain for their wares; and
besides good lungs they have a marvellous shrewdness, born of long
dealings with French housewives.
Always near eight may be heard, "Du mouron pour les petits
oiseaux!" and all the birds in the court, familiar with the cry, piped
up for their chickweed. "Voilà le bon fromage à la crệme
pour trois sous!" cried a keen-faced little woman, her three wheeled
cart loaded with cream cheeses; and she gives a soup-plate full of
them, with cream poured generously over, and as she pockets the money
says, "Voilà ! ce que c'est bon avec des confitures!" Cream
cheeses and prayer! On Sunday mornings during the spring and summer the
goat's-milk vender, blowing a reed-pipe, invades the passage with his
living milk-cans,— a flock of eight hairy goats that know the route as
well as he, and they are always willing to be milked when a customer
offers a bowl. The tripe-man with his wares and bell is the last of the
food-sellers of the day. The window-glass repairer, "Vitrier!"
passes at nine, and then the beggars and strolling
musicians and singers put in an appearance. In the
old-clo' man comes hobbling under his load of cast-off clothes, crying,
"Marchand d'habits!" of which you can catch only "'Chand d'habits!" and
the barrel-buyer, "Marchand de tonneaux!" The most musical of them all
is the porcelain-mender, who cries, "Voici le raccommodeur de
porcelaines, faience, cristal, poseur de robinets!" and then plays a
fragment of a hunting-song.
The beggars and musicians also
have regular routes and fixed hours. Cold and stormy days are welcomed
by them, for then pity lends activity to sous. A piratical old beggar
has his stand near the entrance to the court, where he kneels on the
stones, his faithful mongrel dog beside him. He occasionally poses for
the artists when times are dull, but he prefers begging,— it is easier
and more remunerative. Three times a week we are treated to some really
good singing by a blind old man, evidently an artist in his day. When
the familiar sound of his guitar is heard all noises in the passage
cease, and all windows are opened to hear. He sings arias from the
operas. His little old wife gathers up the sous that ring on the flags.
Sometimes a strolling troupe of two actors and three musicians makes
its appearance, and invariably plays to a full house. There are droves
of sham singers who do not sing at all but give mournful howls and tell
their woes to deaf windows. One of them, a tattered woman with two
babies, refused to pose for Bishop, althougn he offered her five francs
for the afternoon.
Her babies never grow older or bigger as the years pass.
We all know when anybody in the
passage is going to take a bath. There are no bath-tubs in these old
houses, but that difficulty is surmounted by a bathing establishment on
the Boulevard St.-Michel. It sends around a cart bearing a tank of hot
water and a zinc tub. The man who pulls the cart carries the tub to the
room, and fills it by carrying up the water in buckets. Then he remains
below until the bath is finished, to regain his tub and collect a franc.
Since we have been here the court
entrance has been once draped in mourning. At the head of the casket of
old Madame Courtoise, who lived across the way, stood a stately
crucifix, and candles burned, and there were mourners and yellow bead
wreaths. A quiet sadness sat upon the court, and the people spoke in
And there have been two weddings,— one
at the blanchisserie, where the master's daughter was married to a
young mechanic from the iron shop. There were glorious times at the
laundry that night, for the whole court was present. It was four in the
morning when the party broke up, and then our shirts were two days late.
Thus ran the first months of the four
years of our student life in Paris; in
its domestic aspects it was typical of all that followed. We soon
became members of the American Art Association, and gradually made
friends in charming French homes: Then there was the strange Bohemian life lying outside as well as
within the students' pale, and into the spirit of it all we found our
way. It is to the Bohemian, not the
social, life of Paris that these
papers are devoted — a life both picturesque and pathetic, filled with
the oddest contrasts and incongruities, with much suffering but more
content, and spectacular and fascinating in all its phases. No one can
have seen and known Paris without a
study of this its living, struggling artistic side, so strange, so
remote from the commonplace world surging and roaring unheeded about
On New Year's Day we had an
overwhelming number of callers. First came the concierge, who cleaned
our door-knob and wished us a prosperous and bonne année. She
got ten francs,— we did not know what was coming. The chic little
blanchisseuse called next with our linen. That meant two francs. Then
came in succession two telegraph boys, the facteur, or postman, who
presented us with a cheap calendar, and another postman, who delivers
only second-class mail. They got a franc each. Then the marchand de
charbon's boy called with a clean face and received fifty centimes, and
everybody else with whom we had had dealings; and our offerings had a
steadily diminishing value.
We could well bear all this, however, in view of the great day, but a
week old, when we had celebrated Christmas. Bishop prepared a dinner
fit for a king, giving the greater part of his time for a week to
preparations for the great event. Besides a great
many French dishes, we had turkey and goose, cooked for us at the
rôtisserie near by, and soup, oysters, American pastries, and a
big, blazing plum-pudding. We and our guests (there were eight in all)
donned full dress for the occasion, and a bonne, hired for the evening,
brought on the surprises one after another. But why should not it have
been a glorious evening high up among the chimney-pots of old Paris? For did we not drink to the loved ones
in a distant land, and were not our guests the prettiest among the
pretty toilers of our court?
ÉCOLE DES BEAUX ARTS
is about the fifteenth of October, after the long summer vacation, that
the doors of the great École des Beaux-Arts are thrown open. The
week, called "la semaine des nouveaux," is devoted to the initiation and hazing of the new students, who
come mostly from foreign countries and French provinces. These festivities can never be forgotten—by the
had condescendingly decided to become un élève de
Gérôme—with some misgivings, for Bishop had
developed ideas of a large and free Ame-
rican art, while Gérôme was
hard and academic. One day he gathered up some of his best drawings and
studies (which he regarded as masterpieces) and, climbing to the
impériale of a Clichy bus, rode
over to Montmartre, where Gérôme had his private studio. He was politely ushered in
by a manservant, and conducted to the door of the master's studio
through a hall and gallery filled with wonderful marble groups. Gérôme himself
opened the door, and Bishop found himself in the great man's workshop.
For a moment Bishop stood dazed in the middle of the splendid room,
with its great sculptures and paintings, some still unfinished, and a
famous collection of barbaric arms and costumes. A beautiful model was
posing upon a rug. But most impressive of all was the white-haired
master, regarding him with a thoughtful and searching, but kindly,
glance. Bishop presently found a tongue with which to stammer out his
mission,— he would be a pupil of the great Gérôme.
The old man smiled, and, bidding his model retire,
inspected carefully the array of drawings that Bishop spread at his
feet,— Gérôme must have evidence of some
ability for the magic of his brain and touch to develop.
"Sont pas mal, mon ami," he said, after he had studied all the drawings
; "non, pas mal." Bishop's heart bounded,— his work was not bad! "Vous
etes Américain ?" continued the master. "C'est un pays que
j'aimerais bien visiter si le temps ne me manquait pas."
Thus he chatted on, putting Bishop more and more at his
ease. He talked of America and the promising future that she has for
art; then he went into his little office, and, asking Bishop's name,
filled out the blank that made him a happy pupil of Gérôme. He handed it to Bishop with this
parting advice, spoken with great earnestness:
"Il faut travailler, mon ami — travailler! Pour arriver,
travailler toujours, sérieusement, bien entendu!"
Bishop was so proud and happy that he ran all the way up the six
flights of stairs to our floor, burst into the studio, and executed a
war-dance that would have shamed an Apache, stepping into his paint-box
and nearly destroying his sacred Unknown. That night we had a glorious
supper, with des escargots to start with.
Early on the fifteenth of October, with his head erect and hope filling
his soul, Bishop started for the Beaux-Arts, which was in the Rue
Bonaparte, quite near. That night he returned wise and saddened.
He had bought a new easel and two rush-bottomed tabourets, which every
new student must provide, and, loaded with these, he made for the
École. Gathered at the big gates was a great crowd of models of
all sorts, men, women, and children, fat, lean, and of all possible
sizes. In the court-yard, behind the gates, was a mob of long-haired
students, who had a year or more ago passed the initiatory ordeal and
become ancients. Their business now was to yell chaff at the arriving
nouveaux. The concierge conducted Bishop upstairs to the
Administration, where he joined a long line of other nouveaux waiting
for the opening of the office at ten o'clock.
Then he produced his papers and was enrolled as a student of the École.
It is only in this
government school of the four arts that the typical Bohemian students of Paris
may be found, including the genuine type of French
student, with his long hair, his whiskers, his Latin Quarter "plug"
hat, his cape, blouse, wide corduroy trousers, sash, expansive necktie,
and immense cane. The École preserves this type more effectually
than the other schools, such as Julian's and Colarossi's, where most of
the students are foreigners in conventional dress.
Among the others who entered Gérôme's atelier at the same
time that Bishop did was a Turk named Haidor (fresh from the Ottoman
capital), a Hungarian, a Siamese, an American from the plains of
Nebraska, and five Frenchmen from the provinces. They all tried to
speak French and be agreeable as they entered the atelier together. At
the door stood a gardien. whose principal business was to mark
absentees and suppress riots. Then they passed to the gentle mercies of
the reception committee and the massier within.
is a student who manages the studio, models, and masse money. This one,
a large fellow with golden whiskers (size and strength are valuable
elements of the massier's efficiency), demanded twenty-five francs from
each of the new-comers,— this being the masse money, to pay for
fixtures, turpentine, soap, and clean towels, et pour payer à
boire. The Turk refused to pay, protesting that he had but
thirty francs to last him the month; but menacing stools and sticks
opened his purse; his punishment was to come later. After the money had
been collected from all the nouveaux the entire atelier of over sixty
students, dressed in working blouses and old coats, formed in line, and
with deafening shouts of "A boire! a boire!" placed the nouveaux
front to carry the class banner, and thus marched out into the Rue
Bonaparte to the Café des Deux Magots, singing songs fit only
studio. Their singing, shouting and ridiculous capers drew a great
crowd. At the cafe they created consternation with their shouting and
howling until the arrival of great bowls of "grog Américain,"
cigarettes, and gâteaux. Rousing cheers were given to a
across the Place St.-Germain. The Turk was forced to do a Turkish dance
on a table and sing Turkish songs, and to submit to merciless ridicule.
The timid little Siamese also had to do a turn, as did Bishop and W——
to the École. Then the real
The gardien having
conveniently disappeared, the students closed and barricaded the door.
"À poil! a poil!" they yelled, dancing frantically about the
frightened nouveaux ; "a poil les sales nouveaux ! a poil!" They seized
the Turk and stripped him, despite his desperate resistance; then they
tied his hands behind him and with paint and brushes decorated his body in the most fantastic designs that
they could conceive. His oaths were frightful. He cursed them in the
name of Allah, and swore to have the blood of all Frenchmen for
desecrating the sacred person of a Moslem. He called them dogs of
infidels and Christians. But all this was in Turkish, and the students
enjoyed it immensely. "En broche!" they yelled, after they had made
him a spectacle with the brushes; "en broche! Il faut le
broche!'' This was quickly done. They forced the Turk to his haunches,
bound his wrists in front of his upraised knees, thrust a long pole
between his elbows and knees, and thus bore him round the atelier at
the head of a singing procession. Four times they went round; then
they placed the helpless M. Haidor on the model-stand for future
reference. The bad French that the victim occasionally mixed with his
tirade indicated the fearful damnation that he was doubtless dealing
out in Turkish.
The gardien having
conveniently disappeared, the students closed and barricaded the door.
"À poil! a poil!" they yelled, dancing frantically about the
frightened nouveaux ; "a poil les sales nouveaux! a poil!" They seized
the Turk and stripped him, despite his desperate resistance; then they
tied his hands behind him and with paint and brushes decorated his body in the most fantastic designs that
they could conceive. His oaths were frightful. He cursed them in the
name of Allah, and swore to have the blood of all Frenchmen for
desecrating the sacred person of a Moslem. He called them dogs of
infidels and Christians. But all this was in Turkish, and the students
enjoyed it immensely. "En broche!" they yelled, after they had made
him a spectacle with the brushes; "en broche! Il faut le
broche!'' This was quickly done. They forced the Turk to his haunches,
bound his wrists in front of his upraised knees, thrust a long pole
between his elbows and knees, and thus bore him round the atelier at
the head of a singing procession. Four times they went round; then
they placed the helpless M. Haidor on the model-stand for future
reference. The bad French that the victim occasionally mixed with his
tirade indicated the fearful damnation that he was doubtless dealing
out in Turkish.
circle was then formed about him, and a solemn silence fell upon the
crowd. A Frenchman named Joncierge, head of the reception committee,
stepped forth, and in slow and impressive speech announced that it was
one of the requirements of the Atelier Gérôme to brand all
over the heart with the name of the atelier, and that the branding of
the Turk would now proceed. Upon hearing this, M. Haidor emitted a
fearful howl. But he was turned to face the red-hot studio stove and
watch the branding-iron slowly redden in the coals. During this
interval the students sang the national song, and
followed it with a funeral march. Behind the Turk's back a second poker
was being painted to resemble a red-hot one.
some time before Haidor could realize that he was not burned to a
crisp. He was then taken across the atelier and hoisted to a narrow
shelf fifteen feet from the floor,'where he was left to compose himself
and enjoy the tortures of the other nouveaux. He dared not move,
however, lest he fall; and because he refused to take anything in
good-nature, but glared hatred and vengeance down at them, they pelted
him at intervals with water-soaked sponges.
The Hungarian and one of
the French nouveaux were next seized and stripped. Then they were
ordered to fight a duel, in this fashion: they were made to mount two
stools about four feet apart. The Hungarian was handed a long
paint-brush dripping with Prussian blue, and the Frenchman a similar
brush soaked with crimson lake. Then the battle began. Each hesitated
to splash the other at first, but as they warmed to their work under
the shouting of the committee they went in with a will. When the
Frenchman had received a broad splash on the mouth in return for a
chest decoration of his adversary, his
blood rose, and then the serious work began. Both
quickly lost their temper. When they were unwillingly made to desist,
the product of their labors was startling, though not beautiful. Then
were rubbed down vigorusly with turpentine and soiled towels, and were
given a franc each for a bath, because they had behaved so handsomely.
Bishop came next. He had made
up his mind to stand the
initiation philosophically, whatever it might be, but when he was
ordered to strip he became apprehensive and then angry. Nothing so
delights the students as for a nouveau to lose his temper. Bishop
squared off to face the whole atelier, and looked ugly. The students
silently deployed on three sides, and with a yell rushed in, but not
before three of them had gone down under his fists did they pin him to
the floor and strip him. While Bishop was thus being prepared, the
Nebraskan was being dealt with. He had the wisdom not to lose his
temper, and that made his resistance all the more formidable. Laughing
all the time, he nevertheless dodged, tripped, wrestled, threw stools
and did so many other astonishing and baffling things that the
students, though able to have conquered him in the end, were glad to
make terms with him. In this arrangement he compelled them to include
Bishop. As a result, those two mounted the model throne naked, and sang
together and danced a jig, all so cleverly that the Frenchmen were
frantic with delight, and welcomed them as des bons amis. The amzing
readiness and capability of the American fist bring endless delight and
perennial surprise to the French.
The rest of
the nouveaux were variously treated. Some, after
being stripped, were grotesquely decorated with designs and
pictures not suitable for
Others were made to sing, to
recite, or to act scenes from familiar plays, or, in default of that,
to improvise scenes, some of which were exceedingly funny. Others,
attached to a rope suspended from the ceiling, were swung at a perilous
rate across the atelier, dodging easels in their flight.
At half-past twelve the sport was
over. The barricade was
removed, the Turk's clothes hidden, the Turk left howling on his shelf,
and the atelier abandoned. The next morning there was trouble. The
director was furious, and threatened to close the atelier for a month,
because the Turk had not been discovered until five o'clock, when his
hoarse howls attracted the attention of the gardien of the fires. His
trousers and one shoe could not be found. It was three months before
Haidor appeared at the atelier again, and then everything had been
Bishop was made miserable during
the ensuing week. He would
find himself roasting over paper fires kindled under his stool. Paint
was smeared upon his easel to stain his hands. His painting was altered
and entirely redesigned in his absence. Strong-smelling cheeses were
placed in the lining of his "plug" hat. His stool-legs were so loosened
that when he sat down he struck the floor with a crash. His
painting-blouse was richly decorated inside and out with shocking coats
of arms that would not wash out. One day he discovered that he had been
painting for a whole hour with currant jelly from a tube that he
thought contained laque.
Then, being a nouveau, he could never
get a good position in which to draw from the model. Every Monday
morning a new model is posed for the week, and the students select
places according to the length of time they have been attending. The
nouveaux have to take what is left. And they must be servants to the
ancients,— run out for tobacco, get soap and clean towels, clean
paint-brushes, and keep the studio in order. With the sculptors and
architects it is worse. The sculptors must sweep the dirty, clay-grimed
floor regularly, fetch clean water, mix the clay and keep it fresh and
moist, and on Saturdays, when the week's work is finished, must break
up the forty or more clay figures, and restore them to clay for next
week's operations. The architects must build heavy wooden frames, mount
the projects and drawings, and cart them about Paris
to the different exhibition rooms.
At the end of a year the nouveau drops
his hated title and becomes a proud ancient, to bully to his heart's
content, as those before him.
Mondays and Wednesdays are criticism
days, for then M. Gérôme comes down and goes over the work
of his pupils. He is very early and punctual, never arriving later than
half-past eight, usually before half the students are awake. The moment
he enters all noises cease, and all seem desperately hard at
work, although a moment before the place may have been in
an uproar. Gérôme plumps down upon the
man nearest to him, and then visits each of
élèves, storming and scolding mercilessly when his pupils
have failed to follow his instructions. As soon as a student's
criticism is finished he rises and follows the master to hear the other
criticisms, so that toward the close the procession is large.
Bishop's first criticism took him all aback. "Comment !"
gasped the master, gazing at the canvas in horror. "Qu'est-ce que vous
avez fait?" he sternly demanded, glaring at the luckless student, who,
in order to cultivate a striking individuality, was painting the model
in broad, thick dashes of color. Gérôme glanced at
Bishop's palette, and saw a complete absence of black upon it.
"Comment, vous n'avez pas de noir?" he roared. "C'est tres important,
la partie matérielle! Vous ne m'écoutez pas, mon ami,—je
parle dans le désert! Vous n'avez pas d'aspect
général, mon ami," and much more, while Bishop sat cold
to the marrow. The students, crowded about, enjoyed his discomfiture
immensely, and, behind Gérôme's back, laughed in their
sleeves and made faces at Bishop. But many others suffered, and Bishop
had his inning with them.
All during Gérôme's tour of inspection the
model must maintain his pose, however difficult and exhausting. Often
he is kept on a fearful strain for two hours. After the criticism the
boys show Gérôme sketches and studies that they have made
outside the École, and it is in discussing them that his
geniality and kindliness appear. Gérôme imperiously
demands two things,— that his pupils, before starting to paint, lay on
a red or yellow tone, and that they
keep their brushes scrupulously clean. Woe to him who disobeys!
After he leaves with a
cheery "Bon jour, messieurs!" pandemonium breaks loose, if the day be
Saturday. Easels, stools, and studies are mowed down, as by a
whirlwind, yells shake the building, the model is released, a tattoo is
beaten on the sheetiron stove-guard, everything else capable of making
a noise is brought into service, and either the model is made to do the
danse du ventre or a nouveau is hazed. The models — what
stories are there! Every Monday morning from ten to twenty present
themselves, male and female, for inspection in puris naturalibus before
the critical gaze of the students of the different ateliers. One after
another they mount the throne and assume such academic poses of their
own choosing as they imagine will display their points to the best
advantage. The students then vote upon them, for and against, by
raising the hand. The massier, standing beside the model, announces the
result, and, if the vote is favorable, enrols the model for a certain
week to come.
There is intense rivalry among the models. Strange to say,
most of the male models in the schools of Paris
are from Italy, the southern part especially. As a
rule, they have very good figures. They begin posing at the age of five
or six, and follow the business until old age retires them. Crowds of
them are at the gates of the Beaux-Arts early on Monday mornings. In
the voting, a child may be preferred to his seniors, and yet the rate
of payment is the same,— thirty francs a week.
Many of the older models are quite proud of their
profession, spending idle hours in studying the attitudes of
sculptures in the Louvre or the Luxembourg, and
adopting these poses when exhibiting themselves to artists; but the
trick is worthless.
of figure that the models may have,— the French are born
critics. During the many years that I have studied and worked in Paris, I have seen scores of
models begin their profession with a serious determination to make it
their life-work. They would appear regularly at the different ateliers
for about two years, and would be gratified to observe endless
reproductions of their graces in the prize rows on the studio walls.
Then their appearance would be less and less regular, and they would
finally disappear altogether — whither? Some become contented
companions of students and artists, but the cafes along the Boul'
Mich', the cabarets of Montmartre, and the dance-halls of the Moulin
Rouge and the Bal Bullier have their own story to tell. Some are
happily married; for instance, one, noted for her beauty of face and
figure, is the wife of a New York millionaire. But she was clever as
well as beautiful, and few models are that. Most of them are ordinaire,
living the easy life of Bohemian Paris, and
all of a sudden, radiant in silks and
creamy lace petticoats, and sweeps proudly into the crowded studios,
flushed and happy, and hears the dear compliments that the students
heap upon her, we know that thirty francs a week could not have changed
the gray grub into a gorgeous butterfly.
"C'est mon amain qui m'a fait cadeau,"
Marcelle will explain, deeming some explanation necessary. There is
none to dispute you, Marcelle. This vast whirlpool has seized many
another like you, and will seize many another more. And to poor
Marcelle it seems so small a price to pay to become one of the grand
ladies of Paris, with their dazzling
jewels and rich clothes!
An odd whim may overtake one here and there. One young
demoiselle, beautiful as a girl and successful as a model a year ago,
may now be seen nightly at the Cabaret du Soleil d'Or, frowsy and
languishing, in keeping with the spirit of her confrères there,
singing her famous "Le Petit Caporal" to thunderous applause, and happy
with the love, squalor, dirt and hunger that she finds with the
luckless poet whose fortunes she shares. It was not a matter of clothes
It is a short and easy step from the
studio to the café. At the studio it is all little money, hard
posing, dulness and poor clothes; at the cafés are the brilliant
lights, showy clothes, tinkling money, clinking glasses, popping corks,
unrestrained abandon and midnight suppers. And the studios and the
cafés are but adjoining apartments, one may say, in the
great house of Bohemia. The studio is the introduction to the
café; the café is the burst of sunshine after the
dreariness of the studio; and Marcelle determines that for once she
will bask in the warmth and glow. . . . Ah, what a jolly night it was,
and a louis d'or in her purse besides! Marcelle's face was pretty — and
new. She is late at the studio the next morning, and is sleepy and
cross. The students grumble. The room is stifling, and its gray walls
seem ready to crush her. It is so tiresome, so stupid — and only thirty
francs a week! Bah! . . . Marcelle appears no more.
All the great painters have their
exclusive model or models, paying them a permanent salary. These
favored ones move in a special circle, into which the ordinaire may not
enter, unless she becomes the favorite of some grand homme. They are
never seen at the academies, and rarely or never pose in the schools,
unless it was there they began their career.
Perhaps the most famous of the models of Paris was Sarah Brown, whose wild and
exciting life has been the talk of the world. Her beautiful figure and
glorious golden hair opened to her the whole field of modeldom. Offers
for her services as a model were more numerous than she could accept,
and the prices that she received were very high. She was the mistress
of one great painter after another, and she lived and reigned like a
queen. Impulsive, headstrong and passionate, she would do the most
reckless things. She would desert an artist in the middle
of his masterpiece and come down to the studio to pose for the students
at thirty francs a week. Gorgeously apparelled, she would glide into a
studio, overturn all the easels that she could reach, and then shriek
with laughter over the havoc and consternation that she had created.
The students would greet her with shouts and form a circle about her,
while she would banteringly call them her friends. Then she would jump
upon the throne, dispossess the model there, and give a dance or make a
speech, knocking off every hat that her parasol could reach. But no one
could resist Sarah.
She came up to the Atelier
Gérôme one morning and demanded une semaine de femme. The
massier booked her for the following week. She arrived promptly on time
and was posed. Wednesday a whim seized her to wear her plumed hat and
silk stockings. "C'est beaucoup plus chic," she naively explained. When
Gérôme entered the studio and saw her posing thus she
smiled saucily at him, but he turned in a rage and left the studio
without a word. Thursday she tired of the pose and took one to please
herself, donning a skirt. Of course protests were useless, so the
students had to recommence their work. The remainder of the week she
sat upon the throne in full costume, refusing to pose. She amused
herself with smoking cigarettes and keeping the nouveaux running
errands for her.
It was she who was
the cause of the students' riot in 1893,— a riot that came near
ending in a revolution. It was all because she appeared at le Bal des
Quat'z' Arts in a costume altogether too simple and natural to suit the
prefect of police, who punished her. She was always at the Salon on
receiving-day, and shocked the occupants of the liveried carriages on
the Champs-Élysées with her dancing. In fact, she was
always at the head of everything extraordinary and sensational among
the Bohemians of Paris. But she aged
rapidly under her wild life. Her figure lost its grace, her lovers
deserted her, and after her dethronement as Queen of Bohemia,
broken-hearted and poor, she put an end to her wretched lile,—and Paris laughed.
The breaking in of a new girl model is a
joy that the students never permit themselves to miss. Among the many
demoiselles who come every Monday morning are usually one or two that
are new. The new one is accompanied by two or more of her girl friends,
who give her encouragement at the terrible moment when she disrobes. As
there are no dressing-rooms, there can be no privacy. The students
gather about and watch the proceedings with great interest, and make
whatever remarks their deviltry can suggest. This is the supreme test;
all the efforts of the attendant girls are required to hold the new one
to her purpose. When finally, after an inconceivable struggle with her
shame, the girl plunges ahead in reckless haste to finish the job, the
students applaud her roundly.
But more torture awaits her. Frightened, trembling,
blushing furiously, she ascends the throne, and innocently assumes the
most awkward and ridiculous poses, forgetting in that terrible moment
the poses that she had learned so well under the tutelage
of her friends. It is then that the fiendishness
of the students rises to its greatest height. Dazed
and numb, she hardly comprehends the ordeal through which she is now
put. The students have adopted a grave and serious bearing, and
solemnly ask her to assume the most outlandish and ungraceful poses.
Then come long and mock-earnest arguments about her figure, these
arguments having been carefully learned and rehearsed beforehand. One
claims that her waist is too long and her legs too heavy; another hotly
takes the opposite view. Then they put her through the most absurd
evolutions to prove their points. At last she is made to don her hat
and stockings; and the students form a ring about her and dance and
shout until she is ready to faint.
Of course the studio has a ringleader in
all this deviltry,— all studios have. Joncierge is head of all the
mischief in our atelier. There is no end to his ingenuity in devising
new means of torture and fun. His personations are marvellous. When he
imitates Bernhardt, Réjane, or Calvé, no work can be done
in the studio. Gérôme himself is one of his favorite
victims. But Joncierge cannot remain long in one school; the
authorities pass him on as soon as they find that he is really
hindering the work of the students. One day, at Julian's, he took the
class skeleton, and with a cord let the rattling, quivering thing down
into the Rue du Dragon, and frightened the passers out of their wits.
As his father is chef
d'orchestre at the Grand Opéra, Joncierge junior learns all the
operas and convulses us with imitations of the singers.
Prix de Rome. His specialty is the imitation of the
cries of domestic fowls and animals, and of street venders.
(Gérôme calls him "mon fils," and constantly implores him
to be serious. I don't see why.
Then there is Fiola, a young giant from Brittany, with a
wonderful facility at drawing. He will suddenly break into a roar, and
for an hour sing one verse of a Brittany chant, driving the other
Fournier is a little
curly-headed fellow from the south, near Valence, and wears corduroy
trousers tucked into top-boots. His greatest delight is in plaguing the
nouveaux. His favorite joke, if the day is dark, is to send a nouveau
to the different ateliers of the École in search of "le
grand réflecteur." The nouveau, thinking that it is a device for
increasing the light, starts out bravely, and presently
returns with a large, heavy box, which, upon its being opened, is found
to be filled with bricks. Then Fournier is happy.
Taton is the butt of the atelier. He is an
ingénu, and falls into any trap set for him. Whenever anything
is missing, all pounce upon Taton, and he is very unhappy.
Haidor, the Turk, suspicious and sullen, also is a butt.
Caricatures of him abundantly adorn the walls, together with the
Turkish crescent, and Turkish ladies executing the danse du ventre.
Caricatures of all kinds cover the walls
of the atelier, and some are magnificent, being spared the vandalism
that spares nothing else. One, especially good, represents Kenyon Cox,
who studied here.
W—— , the student from Nebraska, created a sensation
by appearing one day in the full regalia of a cowboy, including two
immense revolvers, a knife, and a lariat hanging from his belt. With
the lariat he astonished and dismayed the dodging Frenchmen by lassoing
them at will, though they exercised their greatest running and dodging
agility to escape. They wanted to know if all Americans went about thus
heeled in America.
There is something uncanny about the
little Siamese. He is exceedingly quiet and works unceasingly. One day,
when the common spirit of mischief was unusually strong among the boys,
the bolder ones began to hint at fun in the direction of the Siamese.
He quietly shifted a pair of brass knuckles from some pocket to a more
convenient one, and although
it was done so unostentatiously, the act was observed. He was not
disturbed, and has been left strictly alone ever since.
One day the Italian students took the whole atelier down to a little
restaurant on the Quai des Grands-Atigustins and cooked them an
excellent Italian dinner, with Chianti to wash it down. Two Italian
street-singers furnished the music, and Mademoiselle la Modele danced
as only a model can.
EVER since New Year's, when Bishop began
his great composition for the Salon, our life at the studio had been
sadly disarranged ; for Bishop had so completely buried himself in his
work that I was compelled to combine the functions of 'cook with those
of chambermaid. This double work, with in-
I knew from the marvellous labor and spirit that he
put into the work that something good would result.
The name of his great effort was "The Suicide." It was
like him to choose so grisly a subject, for he had a lawless nature and
rebelled against the commonplace. Ghastly subjects had always
fascinated him. From the very beginning of our domestic partnership he
had shown a taste for grim and forbidding things. Often, upon returning
home, I had found him making sketches of armless beggars, twisted
cripples, and hunchbacks, and, worse than all, disease-marked
vagabonds. A skull-faced mortal in the last stages of consumption was a
joy to him. It was useless for me to protest that he was failing to
find the best in him by developing his unwholesome tastes. "Wait," he
would answer patiently; "the thing that has suffering and character,
that is out of the ordinary, it is the thing that will strike and live."
suicide was a young woman gowned in black; she was poised in the act of
plunging into the Seine; a baby was tightly clutched to her breast; and
behind the unspeakable anguish in her eyes was a hungry hope, a veiled
assurance of the peace to come. It fascinated and haunted me beyond all
expression. It was infinitely sad, tragic and terrible, for it reached
with a sure touch to the very lowest depth of human agony. The scene
was the dead of night, and only the dark towers of Notre-Dame broke the
even blackness of the sky, save for a faint glow that touched the lower
stretches from the distant lamps of the city. In the darkness only the
face of the suicide was illuminated, and that but dimly, though
sufficiently to disclose the wonderfully complex emotions that crowded
upon her soul. This illumination came from three ghastly green lights
on the water below. The whole tone of the picture was a black, sombre
That was all after the painting had been finished. The
making of it is a story by itself. From the first
week in January to the first week in March the studio was a junk-shop
of the most uncanny sort. In order to pose his model in the act of
plunging into the river, Bishop had rigged up a tackle, which, hanging
from the ceiling, caught the model at the waist, after the manner of a
fire-escape belt, and thus half suspended her. He secured his green
tone and night effect by covering nearly all the skylight and the
window with green tissue-paper, besides covering the floor and walls
with green rugs and draperies.
model behaved very well in her unusual pose, but the baby — that was
the rub. The model did not happen to possess one, and Bishop had not
yet learned the difficulties attending the procuring and posing of
infants. In the first place, he found scores of babies, but not a
mother, however poor, willing to permit her baby to be used as a model,
and a model for so gruesome a situation. But after he had almost begun
to despair, and had well advanced with his woman model, an Italian
woman came one day and informed him that she could get an infant from a
friend of her sister's, if he would pay her one franc a day for the use
of it. Bishop eagerly made the bargain. Then a new series of troubles
baby objected most emphatically to the arrangement. The child refused
to nestle in the arms of a strange woman about to plunge into eternity,
and the strange woman had no knack at all in soothing the infant's
outraged feelings. Besides, the model was unable to meet the
youngster's frequent demands for what it was accustomed to have, and
the mother, who was engaged elsewhere, had to be drummed up at
exasperatingly frequent intervals. All this told upon both Bishop and
Francinette, the model, and they took turns in swearing at the unruly
brat, Bishop in English and Francinette in French. Neither knew how to
swear in Italian, or things might have been different. I happened in
upon these scenes once in a while, and my enjoyment so exasperated
Bishop that he threw paint-tubes, bottles and everything else at me
that he could reach, and once or twice locked me out of the studio,
compelling me to kick my shins in the cold street for hours at a time.
On such occasions I would stand in the court looking up at our window,
expecting momentarily that the baby would come flying down from that
Bishop was not sketching and painting he was working up his
inspiration; and that was worst of all. His great effort was to get
himself into a suicidal mood. He would sit for hours on the floor, his
face between his knees, imagining all sorts of wrongs and slights that
the heartless world had put upon him. His husband had beaten him and
gone off with another woman; he had tried with all his woman-heart to
bear the cross; hunger came to pinch and torture him; he sought work,
failed to find it; sought charity, failed to find that; his baby
clutched at his empty breasts and cried piteously for food; his heart
broken, all hope gone, even God forgetting him, he thought of the dark,
silent river, the great cold river, that has brought everlasting
peace to countless thousands of suffering young mothers like him; he
went to the river; he looked back upon the faint glow of the city's
lights in the distance; he cast his glance up to the grim towers of
Notre-Dame, standing cold and pitiless against the blacker sky; he
looked down upon the black Seine, the great writhing python, so willing
to swallow him up; he clutched his baby to his breast, gasped a prayer
. . .
At other times he would haunt the Morgue
and study the faces of those who had died by felo-de-se; he would visit
the hospitals and study the dying; he would watch the actions and read
the disordered thoughts of lunatics; he would steal along the banks of
the river on dark nights and study the silent mystery and tragedy of
it, and the lights that gave shape to its terrors. In the end I grew
afraid of him.
But all things have an end. Bishop's great work was finished in the
first days of March. Slowly, but surely, his native exuberance of
spirits returned. He would eat and sleep like a rational being. His
eyes lost their haunted look, and his cheeks filled out and again took
on their healthy hue. And then he invited his friends and some critics
to inspect his composition, and gave a great supper in celebration of
the completion of his task. Very generous praise was given him. Among
the critics and masters came Gérôme and Laurens at his
earnest supplication, and it was good to see their delight and
surprise, and to note that they had no fault to find,— was not the
picture finished, and would not criticism from them
at this juncture have hurt the boy without accomplishing any good?
Well, the painting secured honorable mention in the exhibition, and
five years later the French government completed the artist's happiness
by buying one of his pictures for the Luxembourg Gallery.
But about the picture: the canvas was eight by ten feet, and a frame
had to be procured for it. Now, frames are expensive, and Bishop had
impoverished himself for material and model hire. So he employed a
carpenter in the court to make a frame of thick pine boards, which we
painted a deep black, with a gold cornice. The whole cost was
Next day we hired a good-sized voiture-à-bras at eight sous an
hour, and proceeded to get the tableau down to the court. It was a
devilish job, for the ceilings were low and the stairs narrow and
crooked. The old gentleman below us was nearly decapitated by poking
his head out of his door at an inopportune moment, and the lady below
him almost wiped the still wet baby from the canvas with her gown as
she tried to squeeze past. The entire court turned out to wish Bishop
The last day on which pictures are admitted to the Salon, there to
await the merciless decision of the judges, is a memorable one. In
sumptuous studios, in wretched garrets; amid affluence, amid scenes of
squalor and hunger, artists of all kinds and degrees had been squeezing
thousands of tubes and daubing thousands of canvases in preparation for
day. From every corner of Paris, from
every quarter of France and Europe, the canvases come pouring into the
Salon. Every conceivable idea, fad, and folly was represented in the
collection, and most of them were poor; but in each and every one a
fond hope centered, an ambition was staked.
Strange as it may seem, most of these pictures are worked upon until
the very last day; indeed, many of them are snatched unfinished from
their easels, to receive the finishing touches in the dust and
confusion and deafening noise of the great hall where they are all
dumped like so much merchandise. We saw one art-
ist who, not having finished his picture,
was putting on the final
touches as it was borne ahead of him along the street on the back of a
commissionnaire. And all this accounts for the endless smearing
everywhere noticeable, and for the frantic endeavors of the artists to
repair the damage at the last moment.
One great obstacle to poor artists is
the rigid rule requiring that all tableaux shall be framed. These
frames are costly. As a result, some artists paint pictures of the same
size year after year, so that the same frame may be used for all, and
others resort to such makeshifts as Bishop was compelled to employ. But
these makeshifts must be artistically done, or the canvases are ignored
by the judges. These efforts give rise to many startling effects.
It was not very long, after
an easy pull over the Boulevard St.-Germain, before we crossed the
Seine at the Pont de la Concorde, traversed the Place de la Concorde,
and turned into the Champs-Élysées, where, not far away,
loomed the Palais des Beaux-Arts, in which the Salon is annually held
in March. The Avenue des Champs-Élysées, crowded as it
usually is in the afternoons, was now jammed with cabs, omnibuses,
hand-carts, and all sorts of moving vans, mingling with the fashionable
carriages on their way to the Bois. The proletarian vehicles contained
art,— art by the ton. The upper decks of the omnibuses were crowded
with artists carrying their pictures because they could not afford more
than the three-sous fare. And such an assortment of artists!
There were some in affluent circumstances, who rolled along
voluptuously in cabs on an expenditure of thirty-five francs, holding
their precious tableaux and luxuriantly smoking cigarettes.
The commissionnaires had a great day of it. They are the ones usually
seen asleep on the street corners, where, when awake, they varnish
boots or bear loads by means of a contrivance on their backs. On this
day every one of them in Paris was
loaded down with pictures.
were the hard-up students, like Bishop, tugging hand-carts, or pairing
to carry by hand pictures too large to be borne by a single person. And
great fun they got out of it all.
Opposite the Palais de Glace was a perfect sea of vehicles, artists,
porters and policemen, all inextricably tangled up, all shouting or
groaning, and wet pictures suffering. One artist nearly had a fit when
he saw a full moon wiped off his beautiful landscape, and he would have
killed the guilty porter had not the students interfered. Portraits of
with smudged noses and smeared eyes were common. Expensive gold frames
lost large sections of their corners. But still they were pouring in.
With infinite patience and skill Bishop gradually worked his
voiture-à-bras through the maze, and soon his masterpiece was in
the crushing mass at the wide entrance to the Salon. There it was
seized and rushed along, and Bishop received in return a slip of paper
bearing a number.
While within the building we reconnoitred. Amid the confusion of
howling inspectors, straining porters bearing heavy pictures,
carpenters erecting partitions and a dust-laden atmosphere, numerous
artists were working with furious haste upon their unfinished
productions. Some were perched upon ladders, others squatted upon the
floor, and one had his model posing nude to the waist; she was
indifferent to the attention that she received. Thoughtful mistresses
stood affectionately beside their artist amants, furnishing them with
delicate edibles and lighting cigarettes for them.
Some of the pictures were so large that they were brought in rolled up.
One artist had made himself into a carpenter to mount his mammoth
picture. Frightful and impossible paintings were numerous, but the
painter of each expected a première médaille d'honneur.
It was nearing six o'clock, the closing hour. Chic demoiselle artistes
came dashing up in cabs, bringing with them, to insure safe delivery,
their everlasting still-life subjects.
Shortly before six the work in the building was suspended by a
commotion outside. It was a contingent of students from the Beaux-Arts
marching up the Champs-Élysées, yelling and dancing like
maniacs and shaking their heavy sticks, the irresistible Sarah Brown
leading as drum-major. She was gorgeously arrayed in the most costly
silks and laces, and looked a dashing Amazon. Then, as always, she was
perfectly happy with her beloved étudiants, who worshipped her
as a goddess. She halted them in front of the building, where they
formed a circle round her, and there, as director of ceremonies, she
required them to sing chansons, dance, make comic speeches, and
"blaguer" the arriving artists.
The last van was unloaded; the great doors closed with a bang, and the
stirring day was ended. All the students, even the porters, then joined
hands and went singing, howling and skipping down the
Champs-Élysées, and wishing one another success at the
coming exhibition. At the Place de la Concorde we met a wild-eyed
artist running frantically toward the Salon with his belated picture.
The howls of encouragement that greeted him lent swifter wings to his
The pictures finally installed, a jury composed of France's greatest
masters passed upon them. The endless procession of paintings is passed
before them; the raising of their hands means approval, silence means
condemnation; and upon those simple acts depends the happiness or
despair of thousands. But depression does not long persist, and the judgment is generally accepted in the end as just and
valuable. For the students, in great part, flock to the country on
sketching tours, for which arrangements had been already made; and
there the most deeply depressed spirits must revive and the habit of
work and hope come into play. Year after year the same artists strive
for recognition at the Salon; and finally, when they fail at that, they
reflect that there is a great world outside of the Salon, where
conscientious effort is acceptable. And, after all, a medal at the
Salon is not the only reward that life has to offer.
And then, it is not always good for a student to be successful from the
start. Just as his social environment in Paris
tries his strength and determines the presence or
absence of qualities that are as useful to a successful career as
special artistic qualifications, so the trial by fire in the Salon
exhibitions hardens and toughens him for the serious work of his life
ahead. Too early success has ruined more artists than it has helped. It
is interesting also to observe that, as a rule, the students who
eventually secure the highest places in art are those whose
difficulties have been greatest. The lad with the pluck to live on a
crust in a garret, and work and study under conditions of poverty and
self-denial that would break any but the stoutest heart, is the one
from whom to expect renown in the years to come. Ah, old Paris is the harshest but wisest of mothers!
Bal Des Quat'z' Arts
"Ah! ah! vive les
Quat'z' Arts! Au Moulin Rouge — en route!" wildly rang through the
lamplit streets of Paris as cab after
cab and bus after bus went thundering across town toward Montmartre,
heavily freighted with brilliantly costumed revellers of les Quat'z'
Arts. Parisians ran from their dinner-tables to the windows and
balconies, blasé boulevardiers paused in their evening stroll or
looked up from their papers at the café-tables, waiters and
swearing cabbies and yelling newsboys stopped in the midst of their
various duties, and all knowingly shook their heads, "Ah, ce sont les
For tonight was
the great annual ball of the artists, when all artistic Paris crawls from its mysterious depths to
revel in a splendid carnival possible only to the arts. Every spring,
after the pictures have been sent to the Salon, and before the students
have scattered for the summer vacation, the artists of Paris and the members of all the ateliers of
the four arts — painting, sculpture, architecture, and engraving —
combine their forces in producing a spectacle of regal splendor, seen
nowhere else in the world; and long are the weeks and hard the work and
vast the ingenuity devoted to preparations,— the designing of costumes
and the building of gorgeous floats.
During the last three weeks the élèves of
the Atelier Gérôme abandoned their studies, forgot all
about the concours and the Prix de Rome, and devoted all their energies
to the construction of a colossal figure of Gérôme's great
war goddess, "Bellona." It was a huge task, but the students worked it
out with a will. Yards of sackcloth, rags, old coats, paint rags,
besides pine timbers, broken easels and stools, endless wire and rope,
went into the making of the goddess's frame, and this was covered with
plaster of Paris dexterously molded
into shape. Then it was properly tinted and painted and mounted on a
chariot of gold. A Grecian frieze of galloping horses, mounted, the
clever work of Siffert, was emblazoned on the sides of the chariot. And
what a wreck the atelier was after all was finished! Sacré nom
d'un chien! How the gardiens must have sworn when cleaning-day came
The ateliers in the École are all
rivals, and each had been secretly preparing its coup with which to
capture the grand prix at the bal.
The great day came at last. The students of our
atelier were perfectly satisfied with their handiwork, and the massier
made all happy by ordering a retreat
Café des Deux Magots, where success to the goddess was drunk in
steaming "grog Américain." Then Bellona began her perilous
journey across Paris to
Montmartre and the Moulin Rouge. This was not an easy task, as she was
fifteen feet high; signs and lamp-posts suffered, and sleepy cab-horses
danced as their terrified gaze beheld the giant goddess with her
uplifted sword. Crowds watched the progress of Bellona on the Avenue de
l'Opéra, drawn by half a hundred students yelling the national
The pull up the steep slope of Montmartre was heavy, but in less than
two hours from the start at the École the goddess was safely
the depths of the Moulin Rouge, there to await her triumphs of the
Bishop, besides doing his share in the preparation of the figure, had
the equally serious task of devising a costume for his own use at the
ball. It was not until the very last day that he made his final
decision, — to go as a Roman orator. Our supply of linen was meager,
but our only two clean bed-sheets and a few towels were sufficient, and
two kind American ladies who were studying music and who lived near the
old church of St. Sulpice did the fitting of a toga. The soles of a
pair of slippers from which Bishop cut the tops served as sandals, and
some studio properties in the way of Oriental bracelets completed his
costume. I was transformed into an Apache Indian by a generous rubbing
into my skin of burnt sienna and
cadmium, which I was weeks in getting rid of; a blanket and some
chicken-leathers finished my array. Our friend Cameron, next door, went
in his Scotch kilts. After supper we entered the Boul' Mich' and proceeded to the Café de
la Source, where the students of the Atelier Gérôme were
had rolled back the
curtain of centuries; ancient cemeteries had yielded up their dead; and
living ghosts of the ages packed all the gay cafés. History from
the time of Adam had sent forth its traditions, and Eves rubbed elbows
with ballet-girls. There was never a jollier night in the history of
the Quartier Latin.
the Café de la Source already crowded by the Gérôme
contingent and their models and mistresses, all en costume and bubbling
with merriment and mischief. It was ten o'clock before all the
students had arrived.
Then we formed in procession, and yelled and danced past
all the cafés on the Boul'
Mich' to the Luxembourg Palace
and the Théâtre de l'Odéon, to take the buses of
the Montmartre line. These we quickly seized and overloaded in
violation of the law, and then, dashing
down the quiet streets of the Rive Gauche, headed for Montmartre,
making a noise to rouse the dead. As we neared the Place Blanche we
found the little streets merging from different quarters crowded with
people in costume, some walking and others crowding almost innumerable
vehicles and the balconies and portes-cochères packed with
spectators. The Place Blanche fronts the Moulin Rouge, and it was
crowded and brilliantly lighted. The facade of the Moulin Rouge was a
blaze of electric lights and colored lanterns, and the revolving wings
of the mill flamed across the sky. It was a perfect night. The stars
shone, the air was warm and pleasant, and the trees were tipped with
the glistening clean foliage of early spring. The bright cafés
fronting the Place were crowded with gay revellers. The poets of
Bohemia were there, and gayly attired cocottes assisted them in their
fun at the café tables, extending far out into the boulevard
under the trees. At one corner was Gérôme's private
studio, high up in the top of the house, and standing on the balcony
was Gérôme himself, enjoying the brilliant scene below.
As the Bal des Quat'z' Arts is not open to the public, and
as none but accredited members of the four arts are admitted, the
greatest precautions are taken to prevent the intrusion of outsiders;
and wonderful is the ingenuity exercised to outwit the authorities.
Inside the vestibule of the Moulin was erected a tribune (a long bar),
behind which sat the massiers of the different studios of Paris, all in
striking costumes. It was their task not only to identify the holders
of tickets, but also to pass on the suitability of the costumes of such
as were otherwise eligible to admittance. The costumes must all have
conspicuous merit and be thoroughly artistic. Nothing black, no dominos
or none in civilian dress may pass. Many and loud were the
protestations that rang through the vestibule as one after another was
turned back and firmly conducted to the door.
Once past the implacable tribunes, we
entered a dazzling fairy-land, a dream of rich color and reckless
abandon. From gorgeous kings and queens to wild savages, all were
there; courtiers in silk, naked gladiators, nymphs with paint for
clothing,— all were there; and the air was heavy with the perfume of
roses. Shouts, laughter, the silvery clinking of glasses, a whirling
mass of life and color, a bewildering kaleidoscope, a maze of tangled
visions in the soft yellow haze filled the vast hall. There was no
thought of the hardness and sordidness of life, no dream of the morrow.
It was a wonderful witchery that sat upon every soul there.
This splendid picture was framed by a
wall of lodges, each sumptuously decorated and hung with banners,
tableaux, and greens, each representing a particular atelier and
adorned in harmony with the dominant ideals of their masters. The lodge
of the Atelier Gérôme was arranged to represent a Grecian
temple; all the decorations and accessories were pure Grecian, cleverly
imitated by the master's devoted pupils. That of the Atelier Cormon
represented a huge caravan of the prehistoric
big-muscled men that appeal so strongly to Cormon; large skeletons of
extinct animals, giant ferns, skins and stone implements were scattered
about, while the students of Cormon's atelier, almost naked with bushy
hair and clothed in skins, completed the picture. And so it was with
all the lodges, each typifying a special subject and carrying it out
with perfect fidelity to the minutest detail.
The event of the evening was the grand
cortège; this, scheduled for one o'clock, was awaited with eager
expectancy, for with it would come the test of supremacy,— the awarding
of the prize for the best. For this was the great art center of the
world, and this night was the one in which its rivalries would strain
the farthest reach of skill.
Meanwhile, the great hall swarmed with
life and blazed with color and echoed with the din of merry voices.
Friends recognized one another with great difficulty. And there was
Gérôme himself at last, gaudily gowned in the rich green
costume of a Chinese mandarin, his white moustache dyed black, and his
white locks hidden beneath a black skull-cap topped with a bobbing
appendage. And there also was Jean Paul Laurens, in the costume of a
Norman, the younger Laurens as Charlemagne. Léandre, the
caricaturist, was irresistible as a caricature of Queen
Victoria. Puech, the sculptor,
made a graceful
courtier of the Marie Antoinette régime.
Willett was a Roman emperor. Will Dodge was loaded with the crown,
silks and jewels of a Byzantine emperor.
Louis Loeb was a desperate Tartar bandit. Castaigne made a hit as an
Italian jurist. Steinlen, Grasset, Forain, Rodin,— in fact, nearly all
the renowned painters, sculptors, and illustrators of Paris were there ; and besides them
were the countless students and models.
"La cavalcade! le grand cortège!" rose the cry
above the crashing of the band and the noise of the revellers; and then
all the dancing stopped. Emerging from the gardens through the open
glass door, bringing with it a pleasant blast of the cool night air,
was the vanguard of the great procession. The orchestra struck up the
"Victor's March," and a great cry of welcome rang out.
First came a band of yelling Indians
dancing in, waving their spears and tomahawks, and so cleaving a way
for the parade. A great roar filled the glass-domed hall when the first
float appeared. It was daring and unique, but a masterpiece.
Borne upon the shoulders of Indians, who were naked but for skins about
their loins, their bodies stained a dark brown and striped with
paint, was a gorgeous bed of fresh flowers and trailing vines;
in this bed were four of the models of Paris, lying
great Susanne in all her peerless beauty of face and form,— simply that
and nothing more. A sparkling crown of jewels glowed in her reddish
golden hair; a flashing girdle of electric lights encircled her slender
waist, bringing out
the marvellous whiteness of her skin, and with delicate shadows and
tones modelling the superb contour of her figure. She looked a goddess
— and knew it. The crowd upon whom she looked down stood for a while
spell-bound, and then with a waving of arms and flags, came a great
shout, "Susanne! Susanne la belle Susanne!" Susanne only smiled.
she not the queen of the models of Paris?
Then came Bellona! Gérôme, when he conceived
and executed the idea embodied in this wonderful figure, concentrated
his efforts to produce a most terrifying, fear-inspiring image
typifying the horrors of war. The straining goddess, poised upon her
toes to her full height, her face uplifted, her head thrust forward,
with staring eyes and screaming mouth, her short two-edged sword in
position for a sweeping blow, her glittering round shield and her coat
of mail, a huge angry python darting its tongue and raising its green
length from the folds of her drapery,— all this terrible figure,
reproduced with marvellous fidelity and magnified tenfold, overwhelmed
the thousands upon whom it glowered. Surrounding the golden chariot was
a guard of Roman and Greek gladiators, emperors, warriors, and
statesmen. From the staring eyes of Bellona flashed green fire, whose
uncanny shafts pierced the yellow haze of the ballroom. Under a storm
of cheers Bellona went on her way past the tribune of the judges.
Following Bellona came a beautiful reproduction of
Gérôme's classical "Tanagra," which adorns the sculpture
gallery of the Luxembourg. The figure was charmingly personated by
Marcelle, a lithe, slim, graceful model of immature years, who was a
rage in the studios. Gerome himself applauded the grace of her pose as
she swept past his point of vantage in the gallery.
Behind Tanagra came W—— , also of the Atelier Gérôme,
dressed as an Apache warrior and mounted on a bucking broncho. He was
an American, from Nebraska, where he was a cowboy before he became
famous as a sculptor. He received a rousing welcome from his fellow
The Atelier Cormon came next,— a magnificent lot of brawny fellows
clothed in skins, and bearing an immense litter made of tree branches
bound with thongs and weighted down with strong naked women and
children of a prehistoric age. It was a reproduction of Cormon's
masterpiece in the Luxembourg Gallery, and was one of the most
impressive compositions in the whole parade.
Then came the works of the many other studios, all strong and
effective, but none so fine as the three first. The Atelier Pascal, of
architecture, made a sensation by appearing as Egyptian mummies, each
mummy dragging an Egyptian coffin covered with ancient inscriptions and
characters and containing a Parisian model, all too alive and sensuous
to personate the ancient dead. Another atelier strove hard for the
prize with eggs of heroic size, from which as many girls, as chicks,
were breaking their way to freedom.
After the grand
cortège had paraded the hall several times it disbanded, and the
ball proceeded with renewed enthusiasm.
The tribune, wherein the wise judges sat, was a large and artistic
affair, built up before the gallery of the orchestra and flanked by
broad steps leading to its summit. It was topped with the imperial
escutcheon of Rome — battle-axes bound in fagots — and bore the legend,
"Mort aux Tyrants," in bold letters. Beneath was a row of ghastly,
bloody severed heads, — those of dead tyrants.
The variety and
originality of the costumes were bewildering. One Frenchman went as a
tombstone, his back, representing a headstone, containing a suitable
inscription and bearing wreaths of immortelles and colored beads.
Another, from the Atelier Bonnat, went simply as a stink, nothing more,
nothing less, but it was potent. He had saturated his skin with the
juice of onions and garlic, and there was never any mistaking his
proximity. Many were the gay Bacchantes wearing merely a bunch of
grapes in their hair and a grape-leaf.
intervals during the evening the crowd would suddenly gather and form a
large circle, many deep, some climbing upon the backs of others the
better to see, those in front squatting or lying upon the floor to
accommodate the mass behind them. The formation of these circles was
the signal for the danse du ventre. (The danse du ventre (literally,
belly-dance) is of Turkish origin, and
was introduced to Paris by Turkish
women from Egypt. Afterward these women exhibited it in the Midway
Plaisance of the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, and then at the
California Midwinter Exposition in San Francisco. As danced by Turkish
women it consists of astonishing control and movements of the abdominal
and chest muscles (hence its other name, muscle-dance), varied with
more or less graceful steps and gyrations, with adjuncts, such as
castanets, scarfs, etc., and the seemingly perilous use of swords. Such
clothing is worn as least obscures the play of the muscles. It is
danced to a particular Turkish air, monotonously repeated by an
orchestra of male Turkish musicians, with Turkish instruments, and the
dance is done solus. A dance closely analogous to it, though of a wholly
independent origin, is the hula-hula of the Hawaiian women; but the
hula-hula lucks the grace, dash, and abandon of the Turkish dance. The
danse du venire, as danced by French and American women who have
"picked it up," is very different from that of the Turkish women
— different both in form and meaning. Whatever suggestiveness it may
be supposed to carry is, in the adaptation, grossly exaggerated, and
the grace and special muscular skill, evidently acquired by
Turkish women only from long and thorough drill, is eliminated. - V. C.
The name of some
yelled, and the orchestra would strike up the familiar Oriental strain.
And there was always a model to respond. Then the regular dancing would
be resumed until another circle was formed and another favorite
goddess of the four arts would be called out.
three o'clock when supper was announced by the appearance of two
hundred white aproned waiters carrying scores of tables, chairs and
hampers of plates and glassware. The guests fell to with a will and
assisted in spreading and setting the tables; almost in a moment the
vast hall was a field of snow pricked out with the brilliant costumes
of the revellers. Then came a frightful din of pounding on the tables
for the supper. Again marched in the two hundred waiters, loaded with
cases of champagne, plates of creamy soup, roasts, salads, cheeses,
creams, cakes and ices,— a feast of Bacchus, indeed. The banquet was
enjoyed with Bohemian abandon.
The twelve wise judges of
the Tribune now gravely announced their award of prizes, and each
announcement was received with ringing applause. The
Gérôme received first prize,— fifty bottles of champagne,
immediately taken possession of. The other ateliers received smaller
prizes, as their merits deserved, and all were satisfied and happy. The
banquet was resumed.
Now here was Susanne, not
content with her triumph of the early evening, springing upon one of
the central tables, sending the crockery and glassware crashing to the
floor with her dainty foot, and serenely surveying the crowd as it
greeted her tumultuously, and, seizing a bottle of champagne, sending
its foaming contents over as wide a circle of revellers as her strength
could reach, laughing in pure glee over her feat, and then bathing her
own white body with the contents of another bottle that she poured over
herself. A superb Bacchante she made! A general salute of popping
corks and clinking glasses greeted her, and she acknowledged the
compliment with the danse du ventre. Susanne was so sure of the
adoration and affection of the ateliers! Her dance was a challenge to
every other model in the chamber. One after another, and often several
at a time, they mounted the tables, spurned the crockery to the floor,
and gave the danse du ventre. The Moulin was indeed a wild scene of
joyous abandonment, and from an artistic point of view grand, a
luminous point in the history of modern times. Here were the life, the
color, the grace of the living picture, with a noble background of
surrounding temples, altars, statues,— a wonderful spectacle, that
artists can understand and appreciate.
The feast wore merrily
through the small hours until the cold blue dawn began to pale the
lights in the ceiling. Strangely beautiful was this color effect, as
the blue stole downward through the thick yellow glamor of the hall,
quickening the merry-makers with a new and uncanny light, putting them
out of place, and warning them thence. But still the ball went rolling
Though the floor was slippery with wine and dangerous from
broken glass, dancing and the cutting
of capers proceeded without abatement. The favorite danse du ventre and
songs and speeches filled the night to the end of the ball, and then
the big orchestra, with a great flourish, played the "Victor's March."
This was the signal for the final procession. The vast concourse of
students and artists poured forth into the cool, sweet morning air, and
the bal was at an end.
Paris was asleep, that early April
morning, save for the
street-sweepers and the milkmaids and the concierges. But the Place
Blanche was very much awake. The morning air was new wine in stale
veins, and it banished fatigue.
"En calvalcade! en
calvalcade!" was the cry; and in calvalcade it was. A great procession
of all the costumers was formed, to march ensemble across Paris to the
Quartier Latin. Even the proud Bellona was dragged along in the rear,
towering as high as the lower wings of the now motionless red windmill.
She seemed to partake in the revelry, for she swayed and staggered in
an alarming fashion as she plunged recklessly down the steeps of
deserted Rue Blance re-echoed the wild yells and songs of
the revellers and the rattling of the string of cabs in the rear. The
rows of heaped ash-cans that lined the ways were overturned one after
another, and the oaths and threatening brooms of the outraged
concierges went for nothing. Even the poor diligent rag- and
bone-pickers were not spared; their filled sacks, carrying the result
of their whole night's hunt, were taken from them and emptied. A string
of carts heavily laden with stone was captured near the Rue Lafayette,
the drivers desposed, and the big horses sent plunging through Paris,
driven by Roman charioteers, and making more noise than a company of
the Place de l'Opéra was reached, a thousand revellers swarmed
up the broad stairs of the Grand Opéra like colored ants,
climbed upon the lamp-posts and candelabra, and clustered all over the
groups of statuary adorning the magnificent façade. The band
took up a position in the center and played furiously, while the
artists danced ring-around-a-rosy, to the amazement of the drwosy
residents of the neighborhood.
The cavalcade then reformed and marched down the Avenue de
the Louvre, where it encountered a large squad of
street-sweepers washing the avenue. In an instant the squad had been
routed, and the revellers, taking the hose and brooms, fell to and
cleaned an entire block, making it shine as it had never shone before.
Cabs were captured, the
drivers decorated with Roman helmets and
swords, and dances executed on the tops of vehicles. One
character, with enormous
shoes, took delight in permitting cabs to run over his feet, while he
emitted howls of agony that turned the hair of the drivers
As the immense calvalcade
filed through the narrow arches of
the Louvre court-yard it looked like a mediæval army returning to
citadel after a victorious campaign; the hundred of battle flags,
spears and battle-axes were given a fine setting by the noble
architecture of the Pavillion de Rohan. While the court of
the Louvre was drawn up a regiment of the Garde Municipale
was going through the morning
drill and they looked quite formidable with their evolutions and
bayonet charges, But when the mob of Greek and Roman warriors flung
themselves bodily upon the rank of the guard, ousted the officers, and
assumed command, there was consternation. All the rigid
military dignity of the scene disappeared, and the
drill was turned into such a farce as the old Louvre had never seen
before. The officers, furious at first,
could not resist the spirit of pure fun that filled the
their revenge by kissing the
models and making them
dance. The girls had already done their share of the conquering by
pinning flowers to military coats and coyly putting pretty lips where
they were in danger. Even the tall electric light masts in the court
were scaled by adventurous students, who attached brilliant flags,
banners and crests to the mast-heads far above the crowd.
To the unspeakable relief of the officers, the
march was then
resumed. The Pont du Carrousel was the next object of assault; here was
performed the solemn ceremony of the annual sacrifice of the Quat'z'
Arts to the river Seine. The mighty Bellona was the scarifice. She was
trundled to the center of the bridge and drawn close to the parapet,
where the disciples of the four arts gathered about with uncovered
heads. The first bright flashes of the morning sun, sweeping over the
towers of Notre-Dame, tipped Bellona;s upraised sword with flame. The
band played a funeral march. Prayers were said, and the national hymn
was sung; then Bellona was sent tottering and crashing over the
parapet, and with a mighty plunge she sank beneath the waters of the
Seine. A vast shout rang through the crisp morning air. Far below, poor
Bellona rose in stately despair, and then slowly sank forever.
The parade formed again and proceeded to the Beaux-Arts, the last point
of attack. Up the narrow Rue Bonaparte went singing the tired
procession; the gates of the École opened to admit it, cabs and
all, and the doors were shut again. Then in the
historic courtyard of the government school, surrounded by remnants of
the beautiful architecture of once stately chateaux and palaces, and
encircled by graceful Corinthian columns, the students gave a
repetition of the grand ball at the Moulin Rouge. A strange and
incongruous sight it was in the brilliant sunshine, and the neighboring
windows and balconies were packed with onlookers. But by half-past
seven every trace of the Bal des Quat'z' Arts had disappeared,— the
great procession had melted away to the haunts of Bohemia.
le BOUL' MICH'
the proper name for the great thoroughfare of the Quartier Latin is the
Boulevard Saint-Michel, but the boulevardiers call it the Boul' Mich',
just as the students call the Quatre Arts the Quat'z' Arts, because it
is easier to say.
The Boul' Mich' is the student's
highway to relaxation. Mention of it at once recalls whirling visions
of brilliant cafés, with their clattering of saucers and
glasses, the shouting of their white-aproned
garçons, their hordes of gay and wicked damsels
dressed in the costliest and most fashionable gowns,
Bohemians of real Bohemia, whose poets haunt
the dim and quaint cabarets and read their compositions to admiring
friends; of flower-girls who offer you un petit bouquet, seulement dix
centimes, and pin it into your button-hole before you can refuse; of
Turks in picturesque native costume selling sweetmeats; of the cane man
loaded down with immense sticks; of the pipe man, with pipes having
stems a yard long; of beggars, gutter-snipes, hot-chestnut venders,
peddlers, singers, actors, students and all manner of strange
The life of the Boul' Mich' begins at the Panthéon,
where repose the remains of France's great men, and ends at the Seine,
where the gray Gothic towers and the gargoyles of Notre-Dame look down
disdainfully upon the giddy traffic below. The eastern side of the
Boul' is lined with cafés, cabarets, and brasseries.
This is historic ground, for where now is
the old Hôtel Cluny are still to be seen the ruins of Roman
baths, and not a great distance hence are the partly uncovered ruins of
a Roman arena, with its tiers of stone seats and its dens. The tomb of
Cardinal Richelieu is in the beautiful old chapel of the Sorbonne,
within sound of the wickedest café in Paris, the Café
d'Harcourt. In the immediate vicinity are to be found the quaint
jumbled buildings of old Paris, but they are fast disappearing. And the
Quartier abounds in the world's greatest schools and colleges of the
arts and sciences.
often our wont on Saturday evenings to saunter along the Boul', and
sometimes to visit the cafés. To Bishop particularly it was
always a revelation and a delight, and he was forever studying and
sketching the types that he found there. He was intimately acquainted
in all the cafés along the line, and with the mysterious
rendezvous in the dark and narrow side streets.
American beverages are to
be had at many of the cafés on the Boul',— a recent and very
experiment. The idea has captured the fancy of the Parisians, so that
"Bars Américains," which furnish cocktails and sours, are
the cafés. Imagine a Parisian serenely sucking a manhattan
straw, and standing up at that!
The Boul' Mich' is at its
glory on Saturday nights, for the students have done their week's work,
and the morrow is Sunday. Nearly everybody goes to the Bal Bullier.
This is separated from the crowded Boul' Mich' by several squares of
respectable dwelling-houses and shops and a dearth of cafés
thereabout. At the upper end of the Luxembourg is a long stone wall
brilliantly bedecked with lamps set in clusters,— the same wall against
which Maréchal Ney was shot (a striking monument across the way
the incident). At one end of this yellow wall is an arched
resplendent with the glow of many rows of electric lights and lamps,
which reveal the colored bas-reliefs of dancing students and grisettes
that adorn the portal. Near by stands a row of voitures, and others are
continually dashing up
and depositing Latin Quarter swells with hair parted behind and combed
forward toward the ears, and dazzling visions of the demi-monde in
lace, silks and gauze. And there is a constantly arriving stream of
students and gaudily dressed women on foot. Big gardes municipaux stand
at the door like stone images as the crowd surges past.
Tonight is one-franc
night. An accommodating lady at the box-office hands us each a broad
card, and another, au vestiaire, takes our coats and hats and charges
us fifty centimes for the honor. Descending the broad flight of softly
carpeted red stairs, a brilliant, tumultuous, roaring vision bursts
upon us, for it is between the dances, and the visitors are laughing
and talking and drinking. The ballroom opens into a generous garden
filled with trees and shrubbery ingeniously devised to assure many a
secluded nook, and steaming garçons are flying hither and
serving foaming bocks and colored syrups to nymphs in bicycle bloomers,
longhaired students under tarn o'shanters, and the swells peculiar to
le Quartier Latin.
"Ah! Monsieur Beeshop,
comment vas tu?" "Tiens! le voila, Beeshop!" "Ah, mon ange!" and other
affectionate greetings made Bishop start guiltily, and then he
discovered Hélène and Marcelle, two saucy little models
who had posed
at the École. There also was Fannie, formerly
(before she drifted to
the cafés) our blanchisseuse, leaning heavily
upon the arm of son
amant, who, a butcherboy during the day, was now arrayed in a cutaway
coat and other things to match, including a red cravat that Fannie
herself had tied; but he wore no cuffs. Many other acquaintances
presented themselves to Bish-
ran up to tease Bishop to paint
her portrait à 1'ceil, and also to engage him for la prochaine
The musicians were now playing a schottische, but large circles would
be formed here and there in the hall, where clever exhibitions of fancy
dancing would be given by students and by fashionably gowned damsels
with a penchant for displaying their lingerie and hosiery. The front of
the bandstand was the favorite place for this. Here four dashing young
women were raising a whirlwind of lingerie and slippers, while the
crowd applauded and tossed sous at their feet.
Next to us stood a fat, cheery-facecl little
man, bearing the unmistakable stamp of an American tourist. His hands
were in his pockets, his silk hat was tipped back, and his beaming red
face and bulging eyes showed the intensity of his enjoyment. Without
the slightest warning the slippered foot of one of these dancers found
his shining tile and sent it bounding across the floor. For a moment
the American was dazed by the suddenness and unearthly neatness of the
feat; then he emitted a whoop of wonder and admiration, and in English
"You gol-darned bunch of French skirts — say, you're
all right, you are, Marie! Bet you can't do it again!"
He confided to Bishop that his name was Pugson and that he
was from Cincinnati.
"Why," he exclaimed, joyously, "Paris is the top of the
earth! You artists are an enviable lot, living over here all the time
and painting Gad! look at her!" and he was pushing his way through the
crowd to get a better view of an uncommonly startling dancer, who was
at the moment an indeterminate fluffy bunch of skirts, linen, and
hosiery. Ah, what tales he will tell of Paris when he returns to
Cincinnati, and how he will be accused of exaggerating!
The four girls forming the center
of attraction were now doing all manner of astonishing things possible
only to Parisian feminine anatomy.
In another circle near by was Johnson, the American
stirring enthusiastic applause as he hopped about, Indian fashion, with
a little brunette whose face was hidden in the shadow of her immense
hat, her hair en bandea á la de Mérode. Could this really
be the quiet
Johnson of the École, who but a week ago had been showing his
and charming sister over Paris? And there, too, was his close friend,
Walden, of Michigan, leading a heavy blonde to the dance! There were
others whom we knew. The little Siamese was flirting desperately with a
vision in white standing near his friend, a Japanese, who, in turn, was
listening to the cooing of a clinging bloomer girl. Even Haidor, the
Turk, was there, but they were sober now only in the sense that they
were not drunk. And there were law students, too, in velveteen caps and
jackets, and students in the sciences, and students in music, and
négligé poets, littérateurs,
and artists, and every model and cocette who could furnish her back
sufficiently well to pass the censorship of the severe critic at the
door. If she be attractively dressed, she may enter free; if not, she
may not enter at all.
The gaiety increased as the hours
lengthened; the dancing was
livelier, the shouting was more vociferous, skirts swirled more freely,
and thin glasses fell crashing to the floor.
It was pleasanter out in the cool
garden for it was dreadfully
hard to keep from dancing inside. The soft gleam of the colored lamps
and lanterns was so soothing, and the music was softened down to an
echo. The broken rays of the laterns embedded in
At one end of the gardwn,
surrounded by and hilirious group,
were four wooden rocking-horses worked on springs. Astride of two of
these were an army officer and his companion, a bloomer girl, who
persistently twisted her ankles around her horse's head. Thetwo others
were riden by a poet and a jauntily attired grisette. The four were as
gleeful as children.
A flash-light photographer did a
driving trade at a franc a
flash, and there were a shooting gallery, a fortune teller,
sou-in-the-slot machines, by figures of boxers with pads on their other
ends, by punching which we might see how hard we could hit.
We are back in the ballroom
again,— it is hard to
keep out. The gaiety is at its height, the Bal Bullier is in full
swing. The tables are piled high with saucers, and the garçons
bringing more. The room is warm and suffocating, the dancing and
flirting faster than ever. Now and then a line is formed to "crack the
whip," and woe betide anything that comes in its way!
Our genial, generous new friend
from Cincinnati was living the
most glorious hour of his life. He had not been satisfied until her
found and captured the saucy little wretch who had sent his hat
spinning across the room; so now she was anchored to him, and he was
giving exhibitions of American grace and agility that would have
his friends at home. For obviously he was a per-
son of consequence there. When he saw us his face
triumph, and he proudly introduced us to his mignonette-scented
conquest, Mad-dem-mo-zel Madeleine (which he pronounced Madelyne), "the
queen of the Latin Quarter, But blamed if I can talk the blooming
lingo!" he exclaimed ruefully. "You translate for me, won't you?" he
appealed to Bishop, and Bishop complied. In paying compliments thus
transmitted to Madeleine he displayed an adeptness
that likely would have
astounded his good spouse, who at that moment was slumbering in a
respectable part of Paris.
But the big Martiniques,—
from the French colonies by the government, or come
on their private means. They are all heavy swells, as only Martiniques can be; their well-fitted clothes are of the
finest and most showy material; they wear shining
silk hats, white waistcoats, white "spats," patent leathers, and
very light kid gloves, not to mention a load of
massive jewelry. The girls flutter about them in bevies, like doves to
At exactly a quarter-past midnight the band played the
last piece, the lights began to go out, and the Bal Bullier was closed.
Out into the boulevard surged the.heated crowd, shouting,
singing and cutting capers as they headed for the Boul' Mich', there to
continue the revelries of which the Bal Bullier was only the beginning.
la Taverne du Panthéon!" "Au Café Lorrain!" " Au Café d'Harcourt!" were the cries that rang through the
streets, mingled with the singing of half a thousand people. In this
mob we again encountered our American acquaintance with his prize, and
as he was bent on seeing all that he could of Paris,
he begged us to see him through, explaining that
money was no object with him, though delicately
adding that our friends must make so many calls upon
our hospitality as to prove a burden at times. He had only two days
more in Paris, and the hours were precious, and "we will do things up
in style," he declared buoyantly. He did.
Bishop's arm was securely held by a little lassie all in
soft creamy silks. She spoke Engleesh, and demurely asked Bishop
if "we will go to ze café
ensemble, n'est-ce-pas?" and Bishop had not the heart to eject her from
the party. And so five of us went skipping along with the rest, Mr.
Pugson swearing by all the gods that Paris was the top of the earth!
When we reached the lower end of the
Jardin du Luxembourg, at the old Palais, the bright glow of the
cafés, with their warm stained windows and lighthearted throngs,
stretched away before us. Ah, le Boul' Mich'
over a charcoal brazier, sending out a savory
aroma; the swarthy Turk is offering his wares with a princely grace;
the flower-girls flit about with freshly cut carnations, violets, and
Maréchal Niel roses,— "This joli bouquet for your
sweetheart," they plead so plaintively; the pipe man plies his trade;
the cane man mobs us, and the sellers of the last editions of the
papers cry their wares. An old pedler
works in and out among the café tables with a little basket of
olives, deux pour un sou. The crawfish seller, with his little red
écrevisses neatly arranged on a platter; Italian boys in white
blouses bearing baskets filled with plaster casts of "works of the old
masters;" gewgaw pedlers,— they are still all busily at work, each
adding his mite to the din.
cafés are packed, both inside and out, but the favorite seats
are those on the sidewalk under the awnings.
halted at the Café d'Harcourt. Here the crowd was thickest, the
sidewalk a solid mass of humanity; and the noise and the waiters as
they yelled their orders, they were
there. And des femmes — how many! The
Café d'Harcourt is the headquarters of these wonderful creations
of clothes, paint,
wicked eyes and
graceful carriage. We worked our way into the interior. Here the crowd
was almost as dense as without, but a chance offered us a vacant table;
no sooner had we captured it than we were compelled to retreat, because
of a battle
that two excited demoiselles were having at an adjoining table. In
another part of the room there was singing of "Les sergents sont des
brave gens," and in the middle of the floor a petite cocotte, her hat
rakishly pulled down over her eyes, was doing a dance very gracefully,
her white legs gleaming above the short socks that she wore, and a
shockingly high kick punctuating the performance at intervals. At other
tables were seated students with their friends and mistresses, playing
dominoes or recounting their petites histoires. One table drew much
attention by reason of a contest in drinking between two seasoned
habitués, one a Martinique and the other a delicate blond poet.
The Martinique won, but that was only because his purse was the
Every consommation is served with a
saucer, upon which is marked the price of the drink, and the score is
thus footed à la fin de ces joies. There are some heavy accounts
to be settled with the garçons.
"Ah ! voilà Beeshop!" "Tiens! mon
vieux!" "Comment vas-tu?" clamored a half-dozen of Bishop's feminine
acquaintances, as they surrounded our table, overwhelming us with their
conflicting perfumes. These denizens of the Boul' have an easy way of
making acquaintances, but they are so bright and mischievous withal
that no offence can be taken; and they may have a stack of saucers to
be paid for. Among the many café frequenters of this
fully half know a
few words of English, Italian, German and even
Russian, and are so quick of perception that they can identify a
foreigner at a glance. Consequently our table was instantly a target,
principally on account of Mr. Pugson, whose nationality emanated from
his every pore.
milord, how do you do? I spik Engleesh a few. Es eet not verra a
beautiful night?" is what he got. "You are si charmant, monsieur!"
protested another, stroking
Bishop's Valasquez beard; and then, archly and coaxingly, "Qu'est-ce
que vous m'offrez, monsieur? Payez-moi un bock? Yes?"
the garçons start. He ordered
"everything and the best in the house" (in English); but it was the
lordliness of his manner that told, as he leaned back in his chair and
smoked his Londrès and eyed Madeleine with intense satisfaction.
eyes of the beholders that action gave him the unmistakable stamp of an
American millionaire. "Tell you, boys," he puffed, " I'm not going to
forget Paree in a hurry." And Mademoiselle Madeleine, how she revelled!
Mr. Pugson bought her everything that the venders had to sell,
besides, for himself, a wretched plaster cast of a dancing-girl that he
declared was "dead swell." "I'll take it home and startle the natives,"
he added; but he didn't, as we shall see later. Then he bought three
big canes as souvenirs for friends, besides a bicycle lamp, a mammoth
pipe, and other things. A hungry-looking sketch artist who presented
himself was engaged on the spot to execute Mr. Pugson's portrait, which
he made so flattering as to receive five francs instead of one, his
neighboring table occupied by a group of students was
Bi-Bi-dans-la-Purée, one of the most famous characters of the
and Montmartre. With hilarious laughter the students were having fun
with Bi-Bi by pouring the contents of their soup plates and
drinking glasses down his back and upon his sparsely covered head; but
what made them laugh more was Bi-Bi's wonderful skill in pulling
grotesque faces. In that line he was an artist. His cavernous eyes and
large, loose mouth did marvellous things, from the ridiculous to the
he could literally laugh from ear to ear. Poor BiBi-dans-la-Purée! He
had been a constant companion of the great Verlaine, but
was that no
more, since Verlaine had died
and left him utterly alone.
You may see him any day wandering aimlessly
about the Quartier, wholly oblivious to the world about him, and
dreaming doubtless of the great dead poet of the slums, who had loved
Here comes old Madame
Carrot, a weazened little hunchback, anywhere between sixty and a
hundred years of age. She is nearly blind, and her tattered clothes
hang in strips from her wreck of a form. A few thin strands of gray
hair are all that cover her head.
soir, Mère Carrot! ma petite mignonne, viens donc qu'on
Où sont tes ailes ?" and other mocking jests greet her as she
among the tables. But Mère Carrot scorns to beg: she would earn
money. Look! With a shadowy
remnant of grace she picks up the hem of her ragged skirt, and with a
heart-breaking smile that discloses her toothless gums, she skips about
in a dance that sends her audience into shrieks of laughter, and no end
of sous are flung at her feet. She will sing, too, and caricature
herself, and make pitiful attempts at high kicking and anything else
that she is called upon to do for the sous that the students throw so
recklessly. There are those who say that she is rich.
rear end of the café the demoiselle who had anchored herself to
Martinique at the Bal Bullier was on a table kicking hiss
hat, which he held at arm's length while he stood on a chair. "Plus
haul! plus haut encore!" she cried; but each time, as he kept raising
it, she tipped it with her dainty slipper; and then, with a magnificent
bound, she dislodged with her toe one of the chandelier globes, which
went crashing with a great noise to the floor; and then she plunged
down and sought refuge in her adorer's arms.
The night's excitement
has reached its height now. There is a dizzy whirl of skirts, feathers,
"plug" hats, and silken stockings; and there is dancing on the
tables, with a smashing of glass, while lumps of sugar soaked in cognac
are thrown about. A single-file march round the room is started, each
dragging a chair and all singing, "Oh, la pauvre fille, elle est
malade!" Mr. Pugson, tightly clutching his canes and his Dancing-Girl,
joins the procession, his shiny hat reposing on the pretty head of
Madeleine. But his heart almost breaks with regret because he cannot
to remonstrate with Bishop for his own unseemly levity, but the gloved
hand of Mademoiselle Madeleine was laid on my lips, and her own red
lips protested, "Taisez-vous donc! c'est absolument inexcusable de nous
faire des sermons en ce moment! En avant!" And we went.
two o'clock, and the cafes were closing, under the municipal regulation
to do so at that hour, and the Boul' was swarming with revellers turned
out of doors.
corner of the Rue Racine stands a small boulangerie, where some of the
revellers were beating on the iron shutters and crying, "Voilà
fromage au lait!" impatient at the tardiness of the fat baker in
opening his shop; for the odor of hot rolls and croissants came up
through the iron gratings of the kitchen, and the big cans of fresh
milk at the door gave further comforting assurances.
Lumbering slowly down the
Boul' were ponderous carts piled high with vegetables, on their way to
the great markets of Paris, the Halles Centrales. The drivers, half
asleep on the top, were greeted with demands for transportation, and a
lively bidding for passengers arose among them. They charged five sous
a head, or as much more as they could get, and soon the carts were
carrying as many passengers as could find a safe perch on the heaped
Halles! aux Halles! nous allons aux Halles! Oh, la, la, comme ils sont
bons, les choux et les potirons!" were the cries as the carts lumbered
on toward the markets.
Mr. Pugson had positively refused to accept our resignation, and
stoutly reminded us of our promise to see him through. So our party
arranged with a masculine woman in a man's coat on payment of a franc a
head, and we clambered upon her neatly piled load of carrots. Mr.
Pugson, becoming impatient at the slow progress of the big Normandy
horses, began to pelt them with carrots. The market-woman protested
vigorously at this waste of her property, and told Mr. Pugson that she
would charge him two sous apiece for each subsequent carrot. He seized
upon the bargain with true American readiness, and then flung carrots
to his heart's content, the driver meanwhile keeping count in a loud
and menacing voice. It was a new source of fun for the irrepressible
and endlessly jovial American.
Along the now quiet boulevard the carts trundled in a string. All at
once there burst from them all an eruption of song and laughter, which
brought out numerous gendarmes from the shadows. But when they saw the
crowd they said nothing but "Les étudiants," and retreated to
As we were crossing the
Pont-au-Change, opposite the Place du Châtelet, with its graceful
column touched by the shimmering lights of the Seine, and dominated by
the towers of Notre-Dame, Mr. Pugson, in trying to hurl two carrots at
once, incautiously released his hold upon the Dancing-Girl, which incontinently rolled off the vegetables and was
shattered into a thousand fragments on the pavement of the bridge —
along with Mr. Pugson's heart. After a moment of silent misery he
started to throw the whole load of carrots into the river, but he
quickly regained command of himself. For the first time, however, his
wonderful spirits were dampened, and he was as moody and cross as a
child, refusing to be comforted even by Madeleine's cooing voice.
The number of carts that we now encountered
converging from many quarters warned us that we were very near the
markets. Then rose the subdued noise that night-workers make. There
seemed to be no end of the laden carts. The great Halles then came into
view, with their cold glare of electric lights, and thousands of people
moving about with baskets upon their backs, unloading the vegetable
carts and piling the contents along the streets. The thoroughfares were
literally walled and fortressed with carrots, cabbages, pumpkins and
the like, piled in neat rows as high as our heads for square after
square. Is it possible for Paris to consume all of this in a day?
Every few yards were fat women seated before steaming cans of hot
potage and café noir, with rows of generous white bowls, which
they would fill for a sou.
Not alone were the market workers here, for it seemed as though the
Boul' Mich' had merely taken an adjournment after the law had closed
its portals and turned it out of doors. The workers were silent
and busy, but largely interspersed among them were the demi-mondaines
and the singing and dancing students of the Quartier, all as full of
life and deviltry as ever. It was with these tireless revellers that
the soup- and coffee-women did their most thriving business, for fun
brings a good appetite, and the soup and coffee were good; but better
still was this unconventional, lawless, defiant way of taking them. Mr.
Pugson's spirits regained their vivacity under the spell, and he was so
enthusiastic that he wanted to buy out one of the pleasant-faced fat
women; we had to drag him bodily away to avert the catastrophe.
In the side streets leading away from the
markets are cafés and restaurants almost without number, and
they are open toute la nuit, to accommodate the market people, having a
special permit to do so; but as they are open to all, the revellers
from all parts of Paris assemble there after they have been turned out
of the boulevard cafes at two o'clock. It is not an uncommon thing
early on a Sunday morning to see crowds of merry-makers from a bal
masqué finishing the night here, all in costume, dancing and
playing ring-around-a-rosy among the stacks of vegetables and the
unheeding market people. Indeed, it is quite a common thing to end
one's night's frivolity at the Halles and their cafés, and take
the first buses home in the early morning.
contingent from the Boul' Mich', after assisting the market people to
unload, and indulging in all sorts of pranks, invaded the élite
cafés, among them the Café Barrette, Au Veau Qui
Tête, Au Chien Qui Fume, and Le Caveau du Cercle. At this last
named place, singing and recitations with music were in order, a small
platform at one end of the room being reserved for the piano and the
performers. Part of the audience were in masquerade costume, having
come from a ball at Montmartre, and they lustily joined the choruses.
Prices are giltedged here,— a franc a drink, and not less than ten sous
to the garçon.
The contrast between the fluffy and silk-gowned
demi-mondaines and the dirty, roughly clad market people was very
striking at the Café Barrette. There the women sat in graceful
poses, or sauntered about and gave evidence of their style, silk gowns,
India laces and handsome furs, greeted each new-comer with pleas for a
sandwich or a bock; they were always hungry and thirsty, but they got a
commission on all sales that they promoted. A small string orchestra
gave lively music and took up collections between performances. The
array of gilt-framed mirrors heightened the brilliancy of the place,
already sufficiently aglow with many electric lights. The Café
Barrette was the last stand of the gaudy women of the boulevards. With
the first gray gleam of dawn they passed with the night to which they
It was with sincere feeling that Mr.
Pugson bade us good-by at five o'clock that morning as he jumped into a
cab to join his good spouse at the Hôtel Continental ; but he bore triumphantly with him some
sketches of the showy women at the Café Barrette, which Bishop
As for Madeleine, so tremedously liberal
had she found Mr. Pugson that her protestations of affection for him
were voluble and earnest. She pressed her card upon him and made him
swear that he would find her again. After we had bidden her good-night,
Mr. Pugson drew the card from his pocket, and thoughtfully remarked, as
he tore it to pieces,—
"I don't think it is prudent to carry
such things in your pocket."
often, instead of having dinner at the studio, we saunter over to the
Maison Darblay, passing the wall of the dismal Cimetière du
Montparnasse on the way. The Maison Darblay is in the little Rue de la
Gaieté, which, though only a block in length, is undoubtedly the
liveliest thoroughfare in the Quartier. That is because it serves as a
funnel between the Avenue du Maine and five streets that converge into
it at the upper end. Particularly in the early evening the little
street is crowded with people returning from their work. All sorts of
boutiques are packed into this minute thoroughfare,— jewelry-shops,
pork-shops, kitchens (where they cook what you bring while you wait on
the sidewalk), theatres, cafés chantants, fried-potato stalls,
snail merchants, moving vegetable- and fruit-markets and everything
and its patrons. A modest white front, curtained windows
and a row of milk-cans give little hint of the charms of the interior.
Upon entering we encounter the vast M. Darblay seated behind a tiny
counter, upon which are heaped a pile of freshly ironed napkins,
parcels of chocolate, a big dish of apple-sauce, rows of bottles
containing bitters that work miracles with ailing appetites and the
tip-box. Reflecting M. Darblay's beamy back and the clock on the
opposite wall (which is always fifteen minutes fast) hangs a long
mirror resplendent in a heavy gilt frame; it is the pride of the
establishment, and affords comfort to the actresses when they adjust
their hats and veils upon leaving.
M. Darblay is
manager of the establishment, and when it is reflected that he weighs
two hundred and sixty pounds, it may be imagined what accurate
adjustments he has to make in fitting himself behind the small counter.
When a boarder finishes his meal he goes to M. Darblay and tells him
what he has had, including napkin and bread, and M. Darblay scores it
all down on a slate with chalk and foots it up.
After the bill is paid, the tip-box is
supposed by a current fiction to receive two sous for Marie and
Augustine, the buxom Breton maidens who serve the tables; but so rarely
does the fiction materialize that, when the rattle of coins is heard in
the box, the boarders all look up wonderingly to see the possible
millionaire that has appeared among them, and Marie and Augustine shout
at the top of their voices, "Merci bien, monsieur!"
reigns queen, her
genial, motherly red face and bright eyes beaming a welcome to all. She
is from Lausanne, on Lake Geneva, Switzerland, and the independent
blood of her race rarely fails its offices when M. Darblay incautiously
seeks to interfere with her duties and prerogatives, for he retreats
under an appalling volley of French from his otherwise genial spouse;
on such occasions he seeks his own corner as rapidly as he can manage
his bulk to that purpose. She is a famous cook. The memory of her
poulets rôtis and juicy gigots will last forever. But greatest of
all are her haricots blancs, cooked au beurre; it is at the shrine of
her beans that her devoted followers worship.
And her wonderful wisdom! She knows intuitively if you are
out of sorts or have an uncertain appetite, and without a hint she will
prepare a delicacy that no epicure could resist. She knows every little
whim and peculiarity of her boarders, and caters to them accordingly.
The steaks and chops are bought at the shop next door just when they
are ordered, and are always fresh.
There are eight marble-top tables lining
the two walls, and each table is held sacred to its proper occupants,
and likewise are the numbered hooks and napkins. An invasion of these
preserves is a breech of etiquette intolerable in Bohemia.
Even the white cat is an essential part of the
establishment, for it purringly welcomes the patrons and chases out
Situated as it is, in a group of three
theatres and several cafés chantants, it is the rendezvous of
the actors and actresses of the neighborhood. They hold the three
tables but one from the kitchen, on one side, and
they are a jolly crowd, the actresses
particularly. They are a part of the Quartier and
echo its spirit. Although full of mischief and fun,
the actresses would never be suspected of singing the naughty
here, but from their
incessant chatter and laughter you would think them twenty. On Friday
evenings, when the songs and plays are changed, they rehearse their
pieces at dinner.
Bishop is openly fond of Mademoiselle Brunerye, a sparkling little
brunette singer, who scolds him tragically for drawing horrible
caricatures of her when he sits before the footlights to hear her sing.
But it is always she that begins the trouble at the theatre. If Bishop
is there, she is sure to see him and to interpolate somethingin her song about "mon amant
Américain," and sing it pointedly at him, to the amusement of
the audience and his great discomfiture; and so he retorts with the
Upon entering the restaurant the
actresses remove their hats and wraps and make themselves perfectly at
home. They are the life of Darblay's; we couldn't possibly spare them.
a week; this makes the smaller actors look up to him, and
enables him to wear a very long coat, besides gloves, patent-leather
shoes and a shiny tophat. He occupies the place of honor, and Marie
smiles when she serves him, and gives him a good measure of wine. He
rewards this attention by depositing two sous in the tip-box every
Friday night. Then there are M. Marius, M. Zecca and M. Dufau, who make
people scream with laughter at the Gaieté, and M. Coppée,
the heavy villain of the terrible eyes in "Les Deux Gosses," and Mademoiselle Walzy, whose dark eyes
sparkle withmischief asshe peeps over her glass, and Mademoiselle
Minion, who kicks shockingly high to accentuate her songs, and eight
other actresses just as saucy and pretty.
The students of the Quartier practically take charge of
the theatres on Saturday nights, and as they are very free with their
expressions of approval or disapproval, the faces of the
stage-people wore an
an anxious look at the restaurant on that evening. The
students will throw the whole theatre into an uproar with hisses that
drive an actor off the stage, or applause, recalls, and the throwing of
two-sous bouquets and kisses to an actress who has made a hit.
Promptly at six-forty-five every night the venerable M.
Corneau enters Darblay's, bringing a copy of Le Journal. He is
extremely methodical, so that any interruption of his established
routine upsets him badly. One evening he found a stranger in his seat,
occupying the identical chair that had been sacred to his use every
evening for six years. M. Corneau was so astonished that he hung his
hat on the wrong hook, stepped on the cat's tail, sulked in a corner,
and refused to eat until his seat had been vacated, and then he looked
as though he wished it could be fumigated. He has a very simple meal.
One evening he invited me — a rare distinction — to his room, which was
on the top floor of one of those quaint old buildings in the Rue du
Moulin de Beurre. It could then be seen what a devoted scientist and
student he was. His room was packed with books, chemicals, mineral
specimens and scientific instruments. He was very genial, and brewed
excellent tea over an alcohol-stove of his own manufacture. Twenty
years ago he was a professor at the École des Mines, where he
had served many years; but he had now grown too old for that, and was
living his quiet, studious, laborious life on a meager pension.
At one table sit a sculptor, an artist, a blind
musician and his wife. The sculptor is slender, delicate, nervous, and
is continually rolling and smoking cigarettes. His blond hair falls in
ringlets over his collar, and he looks more the poet than
the sculptor, for he is dreamy and distrait, and seems to be look-
himself rather than upon the world about him. Augustine serves him with
an absinthe Pernod au sucre, which he slowly sips while he smokes
several cigarettes before he is ready for his dinner.
The artist is his opposite,— a big, bluff, hearty fellow, loud of voice
and full of life. And he is successful, for he
has received a medal and several honorable mentions at the Salon des
Champs-Élysées, and has a fine twilight effect in the
Luxembourg Gallery. After dinner he and M. Darblay play piquet
for the coffee, and M. Darblay is generally loser.
blind musician is a kindly old man with a benevolent face and a jovial
spirit. He is the head professor of music at the Institution des
Aveugles, on the Boulevard des Invalides. His wife is very attentive to
him, taking his hat and cane, tucking his napkin under his chin,
placing the dishes where he knows how to find them, and reading the
him. He knows where everybody sits, and he addresses each by name, and
passes many brisk sallies about the room.
One poet is vivacious, not at all like
the dreamy species to which he belongs. True, he wears long hair and a
Quartier Latin "plug," but his eyes are not vague, and he is immensely
fond of Madame Darblay's beans, of which he has been known to stow away
five platefuls at a meal. Often he brings in a copy of Gil Bias, containing
A strange, solitary figure used to sit in one corner,
speaking to no one, and never ordering more than a bowl of chocolate
and two sous of bread. It was known merely that he was an Hungarian and
an artist, and from his patched and frayed clothes and meager fare it
was surmised that he was poor. But he had a wonderful face. Want was
plainly stamped upon it, but behind it shone a determination and a hope
that nothing could repress. There was not a soul among the boarders but
that would have been glad to assist in easing whatever burden sat upon
him, and no doubt it was his suspicion of that fact and his dread of
its manifestation that made him hold absolutely aloof. Madame Darblay
once or twice made efforts to get nearer to him, but he gently and
firmly repulsed her. He was a pitiable figure, but his pride was
invincible, and with eyes looking straight forward, he held up his head
and walked like a king. He came and went as a shadow.
None knew where he had a room. There were many stories and conjectures
about him, but he wrapped his mantle of mystery and solitude about him
and was wholly inaccessible. It was clear to see that he lived in
another world,— a world of hopes, filled with bright images of peace
and renown. After a time his seat became vacant, and I shall presently
tell how it happened.
These will suffice as types of the Maison
Darblay, though I might mention old M. Decamp, eighty-four years of
age, and as hearty and jovial a man as one would care to see. In his
younger days he had been an actor, having had a fame during the Empire
of Napoléon III. And there were a professor of languages, who
gave lessons at fifteen sous an hour, a journalist of the Figaro, and
The great event at the Maison Darblay came not long ago, when M.
Darblay's two charming daughters had a double wedding, each with a
comfortable dot, for M. Darblay had grown quite rich out of his
restaurant, owning several new houses. The girls were married twice,—
once at the Mairie on the Rue Gassendi, and again at the Église
St. Pierre, on the Avenue du Maine. Then came the great wedding dinner
at the Maison Darblay, to which all the boarders were invited. The
tables were all connected, so as to make two long rows. The bridal
party were seated at the end next the kitchen, and the front door was
locked to exclude strangers. M. Darblay was elegant in a new dress suit
and white shirt, but his tailor, in trying to give him a trim figure,
made the situation embarrassing, as M. Darblay's girth steadily
increased during the progress of the banquet. He made a very fine
speech, which was uproariously cheered. Madame Darblay was remarkably
handsome in a red satin gown, and bore so distinguished an air, and
looked so transformed from her usual kitchen appearance, that we couldonlymarvelandadmire. Then came the kissing of the brides,
a duty that was performed most heartily. MadameDarblaywasveryhappy and
Bishop sat opposite the wicked
Mademoiselle Brunerye, and he and she made violent love, and behaved
with conspicuous lack of dignity. M. Fontaine, the
great, had one of the chic milliners for a
partner. Old M. Decamp told some racy stories of the
old régime. When the coffee and liqueurs came on, the big artist
brought out a guitar and the poet a mandolin, and we had music. Then
the poet read a poem that he had written for the occasion. The
actresses sang their sprightliest songs. Mademoiselle Brunerye sang
"Ça fait toujours plaisir" to Bishop. M. Fontaine gave in a
dramatic manner a
scene from "Les Deux Gosses," the heavy villain assisting, the cook's
aprons and towels serving to make the costumes. Bishop sang "Down
on the Farm." In short, it was a splendid evening in Bohemia, of a kind
Bohemians enjoy and know how to make the most of.
There was one silent guest, the strange young Hungarian artist. He ate
with a ravenous appetite, openly and unashamed. After he had had his
fill (and Madame Darblay saw to it that he found his
plate always replenished), he smiled occasionally at the bright sallies
of the other guests, but for the most part he sat constrained, and
would speak only when addressed,— he protested that his French was too
imperfect. It was so evident that he wished to escape notice entirely
that no serious effort was made to draw him out.
That was a hard winter. A few weeks after the wedding the Hungarian's
visits to the Maison Darblay suddenly ceased. The haunted look had been
deepening in his eyes, his gaunt cheeks had grown thinner, and he
looked like a hunted man. After his disappearance the gendarmes came to
the restaurant to make inquiries about him. Bishop and I were present.
They wanted to know if the young man had any friends there. We told
them that we would be his friends.
"Then you will take charge of his body?" they
We followed them to the Rue Perceval, where they turned us
over to the concierge of an old building. She was very glad we had
come, as the lad seemed not to have had a friend in the world. She led
us up to the sixth floor, and then pointed to a ladder leading up to
the roof. We ascended it, and found a box built on the roof. It gave a
splendid view of Paris. The door of the box was closed. We opened it,
and the young artist lay before us dead. There were two articles of
furniture in the room. One was the bare mattress on the floor, upon
which he lay, and the other was an old dresser, from which
some of the drawers were missing. The young man lay drawn up, fully
dressed, his coat-collar turned up about his ears. Thus he had fallen
asleep, and thus hunger and cold had slain him as he slept. There was
one thing else in the room, all besides, including the stove and the
bed-covering, having gone for the purchase of painting material. It was
an unfinished oil-painting of the Crucifixion. Had he lived to finish
it, I am sure it would have made him famous, if for nothing else than
the wonderful expression of agony in the Saviour's face, an agony
infinitely worse than the physical pain of the crucifixion could have
There was still one thing more,— a white
rat that was hunting industriously for food, nibbling desiccated
cheese-rinds that it found on the shelves against the wall. It had been
the artist's one friend and companion in life.
And all that, too, is a part of life in
On the Rue Marie, not far from the Gare Montparnasse, is
the "Club," a small and artistically dirty wine-shop and restaurant,
patronized by a select crowd of musketeers of the brush. The warm, dark
tones of the anciently papered walls are hidden beneath a cloud of oil
sketches, charcoal drawings, and caricatures of everything and
everybody that the fancies of the Bohemians could devise. Madame Annaie
is mistress of the establishment, and her cook, M. Annaie, wears his
cap rakishly on one side
and attends to his business; and he makes very good potages and
rôtis, considering the small prices that are charged. Yet even
the prices, though the main attraction, are paid with difficulty by a
majority of the habitués, who sometimes fall months in arrears.
Madame Annaie keeps a big book of accounts.
Of the members of the club, four are
Americans, two Spaniards, one an Italian, one a Welshman, one a Pole,
one a Turk, one a Swiss, and the rest French,— just fifteen in all, and
all sculptors and painters except one of the Americans, who is
correspondent of a New York paper. At seven o'clock every evening the
roll is called by the Pole, who acts as president, secretary and
treasurer of the club. A fine of two sous is imposed for every absence;
this goes to the "smoker" fund. Joanskouie, the multiple officer, has
not many burdensome duties, but even these few are a severe tax upon
his highly nervous temperament. Besides collecting the fines he must
gather up also the dues, which are a franc a month. All the members are
black-listed, including the president himself, and the names of the
delinquents are posted on the wall.
The marble-top tables are black with pencil sketches done
at the expense of Giles, the Welshman, who is the butt of the club. He
is a very tall and amazingly lean Welshman, with a bewhiskered face, a
hooked nose and a frightful accent when he speaks either English or
French. He is an animal sculptor, but leaves his art carefully alone.
He is very clever at drawing horses, dogs, and funny cows all over the
walls; but he is so droll and stupid, so incredibly stupid, that
"Giles" is the byword of the club. Every month he receives a remittance
of two hundred and fifty francs, and immediately starts out to get the
full worth of it in the kinds of enjoyment that he finds on the Boul'
Mich', where regularly once a month he is a great favorite with the
feminine habitués of the cafés. When his funds run low,
he lies perdu till mid-day; then he appears at Madame Annaie's,
heavy-eyed and stupid, staying until midnight. Sometimes he varies this
routine by visiting his friends at their studios, where he is made to
pose in ridiculous attitudes.
The "smoker" is held on the last Saturday night of each
month, and all the members are present. Long clay pipes are provided,
and a big bowl of steaming punch, highly seasoned, comes from Madame
Annaie's kitchen. Mutually laudatory speeches and toasts, playing
musical instruments and singing songs are in order. The Spaniard, with
castanets, skilfully executes the fandango on a table. Bishop does the
danse du ventre. Joncierge gives marvellous imitations of Sarah
Bernhardt and other celebrities, including Giles, whose drawl and
stupidity he makes irresistibly funny. Nor do Gérôme,
Bouguereau, and Benjamin Constant escape his mimicry. Haidor, the Turk,
drawls a Turkish song all out of tune, and is rapturously encored. The
Swiss and the Italian render a terrific duo from "Aida," and the
Spaniards sing the "Bullfighters' Song" superbly. Sketches are dashed
off continually. They
are so clever that it is a pity Madame Annaie has to wipe them from the
On Thanksgiving Day the Americans gave
the club a Thanksgiving dinner. It was a great mystery and novelty to
the other members, but they enjoyed it hugely. The turkeys were found
without much trouble, but the whole city had to be searched for
cranberries. At last they were found in a small grocery-shop in the
American quarter, on the Avenue Wagram. Bishop superintended the
cooking, M. Annaie serving as first assistant. How M. Annaie stared
when he beheld the queer American mixtures that Bishop was concocting!
"Mon Dieu! Not sugar with meat!" he cried, aghast, seeing Bishop serve
the turkey with cranberry sauce. A dozen delicious pumpkin pies that
formed part of the menu staggered the old cook. The Italian cooked a
pot of macaroni with mushroom sauce, and it was superb.
"The Hole in the Wall" eminently deserves
its name. It is on the Boulevard du Montparnasse, within two blocks of
the Bal Bullier. A small iron sign projecting over the door depicts two
students looking down at the passers-by over bowls of coffee, rolls
also being shown. It was painted by an Austrian student in payment of a
The Hole is a tiny place, just
sufficiently large for its two tables and eight stools, fat Madame
Morel, the proprietress, and a miniature zinc bar filled with
absinthe and cognac bottles and drinking glasses. The ceiling is so low
that you must bend should you be very tall, for overhead is
room of Madame Morel and her
niece; it is reached by a small spiral staircase. A narrow slit in the
floor against the wall, where the napkin-box hangs, leads down
to the dark little kitchen. It is a tight squeeze for Madame Morel to
serve her customers, but she has infinite patience and geniality, and
discharges her numerous duties and bears her hardships with unfailing
good nature. It is no easy task to cook a half dozen orders at once,
wait on the tables, run out to the butcher-shop for a chop or a steak
and take in the cash. But she does all this, and much more, having no
assistant. The old concierge next door, Madame Mariolde, runs in to
help her occasionally, when she can spare a moment from her own
multifarious duties. Madame Morel's toil-worn hands are not bien
propre, but she has a kind heart. For seven years she has lived in this
little Hole, and during that time has never been farther away than , to
the grocery-shop on the opposite corner.
Her niece leaves at seven o'clock in the morning to sew
all day on the other side of town, returning at eight at night, tired
and listless, but always with a half-sad smile. So we see little of
her. Many nights I have seen her come in drenched and cold, her faded
straw hat limp and askew, and her dark hair clinging to her wet face.
For she has walked in the rain all the way from the Avenue de
1'Opéra, unable to afford bus fare. She usually earns from two
to two and half francs a day, sewing twelve hours.
The most interesting of the frequenters of the Hole is a
Slav from Trieste, on the Adriatic. He is a genius in his way, and full
of energy and business sense. His vocation is that of a
"lightning-sketch artist," performing at the theatres. He has travelled
all over America and Europe, and is thoroughly hardened to the ways of
the world. Whenever he runs out of money he goes up to the Rue de la
Gaieté and gives exhibitions for a week or two at one of the
theatres there, receiving from fifty to sixty francs a week. The
students all go to see him, and make such a noise and throw so many
bouquets (which he returns for the next night) that the theatrical
managers, thinking he is a great drawing-card, generally raise his
salary as an inducement to make him prolong his stay when he threatens
But he is too thoroughly a Bohemian to remain long in a place. Last
week he suddenly was taken with a desire to visit Vienna. Soon after he
had gone four pretty Parisiennes called and wanted to know what had
become of their amant.
D——, another of the habitues of the Hole, is a German musical student.
Strangers would likely think him mentally deranged, so odd is his
conduct. He has two other peculiarities,— extreme sensitiveness and
indefatigable industry. He brings his shabby violin case every evening,
takes out his violin after dinner, and at once becomes wholly absorbed
in his practice. If he would play something more sprightly and pleasing
the other habitués of the Hole would not object; but he insists
on practising the dreariest, heaviest and most wearing exercises, the
most difficult études, and the finest compositions of the
masters. All this is more than the others can bear with patience
always; so they wound his sensibilities by throwing bread and
napkin-rings at him. Then he retires to the kitchen, where, sitting on
the cooler end of the range, he practises diligently under Madame
Morel's benevolent protection. This is all because he has never found a
concierge willing to permit him to study in his room, so tireless is
his industry. If I do not mistake, this strange young man
will be heard from some day.
Then there is W——, a
student in sculpture, with exceptionally fine
talent. He had been an American cowboy, and no trooper could swear more
eloquently. He has been making headway, for the Salon has given him
honorable mention for a strong bronze group of fighting tigers. His
social specialty is poker-playing, and he has brought the entire Hole
under the spell of that magic game.
Herr Prell, from Munich,
takes delight in torturing the other habitués with accounts of
dissections, as he is a medical student at the Académic de
The Swede, who drinks fourteen absinthes a day, throws stools at Herr
Prell, and tries in other ways to make him fight; but Herr Prell only
laughs, and gives another turn of the dissection-screw.
The glee club is one of
the features of the Hole. It sings every night, but its supreme effort
comes when one of the patrons of the Hole departs for home. On such
occasions the departing comrade has to stand the dinner for all, after
which, with its speeches and toasts, he is escorted to the railway
station with great éclat, and given a hearty farewell, the glee
singing the parting song at the station. Bishop is leading tenor of the
CABARET DU SOLEIL D'OR
brilliant in its own queer way, though that
brilliancy shines when all else in Paris is dark and dead,—at night,
and in the latest hours of the night at that.
acquaintance with the Golden Sun began one foggy night in a cold
November, under the guidance of Bishop.
Lured by the fascinations
of nocturnal life in the Quartier Latin, and by its opportunities for
the study of life in its strangest phases, Bishop had become an
habitual nighthawk, leaving the studio nearly every evening about ten
o'clock, after he had read a few hours from treasured books gleaned
from the stalls along the river, to prowl about with a sketchbook, in
quest of strange characters and unusual places, where nonconformist
lived in the dark half of the day. His knowledge of obscure retreats
their peculiar habitués seemed unlimited. And what an infinite
they offered! The tourist, "doing" Bohemian Paris as he would the
art galleries, or Notre-Dame, or the Madeleine, or the cafés on
boulevards, may, under the guidance of a wise and discerning student,
visit one after another of these out-of-the-way resorts where the
endless tragedy of human life is working out its mysteries; he may see
that one place is dirtier or noisier than another, that the men and
women are better dressed and livelier here than there, that the crowd
is bigger, or the lights brighter; but he cannot see, except in their
meaningless outer aspects, those subtle differences which constitute
the heart of the matter. In distance it is not far from the Moulin
Rouge to the Cabaret du Soleil d'Or, but in descending from the
dazzling brilliancy and frothy abandon of the Red Mill to the smoke and
grime of the Golden Sun, we drop from the summit of the Tour Eiffel to
the rat-holes under the bridges of the Seine; and yet it is in such as
the Cabaret of the Golden Sun that the true student finds the deeper,
the more lastingly charming, the strangely saddening spell that lends
to the wonderful Quartier Latin its distinctive character and
Though Bishop spoke to me
very little of his midnight adventures, I being very busy with my own
work, I began to have grave apprehensions on the score of his tastes in
that direction; for during the afternoons
ridiculous-looking, long-haired, but gentle mannered
brought with them black portfolios or rolls of paper
tied with black string, containing verses,— their masterpieces, which
were to startle Paris, or new songs, which, God favoring, were to be
sung at La Scala or the Ambassadeurs, and thus bring them immortal fame
and put abundant fat upon their lean ribs! Ah, the deathless hope that
makes hunger a welcome companion here!
Bishop would cleverly
entertain these aspiring geniuses with shop talk concerning literature
and music, and he had a charming way of dwelling upon the finish and
subtlety of their.work and comparing it with that of the masters. It
usually ended with their posing for him in different attitudes of his
suggesting. Why waste money on professional models? As Bishop's
acquaintances became more numerous among this class, we finally set
aside Tuesday afternoons for their reception. Then they would come in
generous numbers and enjoy themselves unreservedly with our cognac and
biscuits. But ah, the rare pleasures of those afternoons,— as much for
the good it did us to see their thin blood warmed with brandy and food
as for their delightful entertainment of us and one another.
The studio was warm and
cheerful on the night when Bishop invited me to accompany him out. I
had been at work, and presently, when I had finished, I flung myself on
the divan for a rest and a smoke,
and then became aware of Bishop's presence. He was comfortably
ensconced in the steamer-chair, propped up with pillows.
"Aren't you going out
tonight?" I inquired.
"Why, yes. Let's see the
time. A little after eleven. That's good. You are finished, aren't you
? Now, if you want a little recreation and wish to see one of the most
unusual places in Paris, come with me."
looked out the window. A cold, dreary night it was. The chimney-pots
were dimmed by the thick mist, and the street lamps shone murkily far
below. It was a saddening, soaking, dripping night, still, melancholy
and depressing,— the kind of night that lends a strange zest to indoor
enjoyment, as though it were a duty to keep the mist and the dreariness
out of the house and the heart.
But the studio had worn
me out, and I was eager to escape from its pleasant coziness. And this
was a Saturday night, which means something, even in Paris. Tomorrow
there would be rest. So I cheerfully assented.
We donned our heaviest
top-coats and mufflers, crammed the stove full of coal, and then
sallied out into the dripping fog.
Oh, but it
was cold and
dismal in the streets! The mist was no longer the obscuring,
suggestive, mysterious factor that it had been when seen from the
window, but was now a tangible and formidable thing, with a manifest
purpose. It struck through our wraps as though they had been
cheesecloth. It had swept the streets clear, for not a soul was to be
seen except a couple of sergents de ville, all hooded in capes, and a
cab that came rattling through the murk with horses asteam.
Occasionally a flux of warm light from some café would melt a
tunnel through the monotonous opaque haze, but the empty chairs and
tables upon the sidewalks facing the cafes offered no invitation.
front of one of these cafés, in a sheltered corner made by a
screen, sat a solitary young woman, dressed stylishly in black, the
light catching one of her dainty slippers perched coquettishly upon
a foot rest. A large black hat, tilted wickedly down over her face,
cast her eyes in deep shadow and lent her that air of alluring mystery
which the women of her class know so well how to cultivate. Her neck
and chin were buried deep in the collar of her seal skin cape, A gleam
of limp white gauze at her throat lent a pleasing relief to the
monotone of her attire. Upon the table in front of her stood an empty
glass and two saucers. As we passed she peered at us from beneath her
big hat, and smiled coquettishly, revealing glistening white teeth. The
atmosphere of loneliness and desolation that encompassed her gave a
singularly pathetic character to her vigil. Thus she sat, a picture for
an artist, a text for a novelist, pretty, dainty, abandoned. It
happened not to be her fortune that her loneliness should be relieved
by us. . . . But other men might be coming afterwards. . . . All this
a glance through the cold November fog.
proceeded up the Boul' Mich' the cafés grew more numerous and
passers-by more frequent, but all these were silent and in a hurry,
prodded on by the nipping cold fangs of the night. Among the tables
outside the Café d'Harcourt crouched and prowled an old man,
bundled in ill-fitting rags, searching for remnants of cigars and
cigarettes on the sanded sidewalk. From his glittering eyes, full of
suspicion, he turned an angry glance upon us as we paused a moment to
observe him, and growled,—
"Allons, tu n'
peux donc pas laisser un
Bishop tossed him a sou,
which he greedily snatched without a word of thanks.
corner, under the gas-lamps, stood shivering newspaper vendors trying
to sell their few remaining copies of la dernière édition
de la presse.
Buyers were scarce.
We had now reached the
Place St.-Michel and the left bank of the river. We turned to the
right, following the river wall toward Notre-Dame, whose towers were
not discernible through the fog. Here there was an unbounded wilderness
of desolation and solitude. The black Seine flowed silently past dark
masses that were resolved into big canal boats, with their sickly green
lights reflected in the writhing ink of the river. Notre-Dame now
pushed its massive bulk through the fog, but its towers were lost in
the sky. Nearby a few dim lights shone forth through the slatted
windows of the Morgue. But its lights never went out. And how
significantly close to the river it stood! Peering under the arches of
the bridges, we found some of the social dregs that
sleep there with the rats. It was not difficult to imagine the pretty
girl in black whom we had passed coming at last through dissipation and
wrinkles and broken health to take refuge with the rats under the
bridges, and it is a short step thence to the black waters of the
river; and that the scheme of the tragedy might be perfect in all its
parts, adjustments, and relations, behold the Morgue so near, with its
lights that never go out, and boatmen so skilled in dragging the river!
And the old man who was gathering the refuse and waste of smokers, it
was not impossible that he should find himself taking this route when
his joints had grown stiffer, though it would more likely end under the
The streets are very
narrow and crooked around Notre-Dame, and their emanations are as
various as the capacity of the human nose for evil odors. The lamps,
stuck into the walls of the houses, only make the terrors of such a
night more formidable; for while one may feel a certain security in
absolute darkness, the shadows to which the lamps lend life have a
baffling elusiveness and weirdness, and a habit of movement that makes
one instinctively dodge. But that is all the trick of the wind. However
that may be, it is wonderful how much more vividly one remembers on
such a night the stories of the murders, suicides, and other crimes
that lend a particular gruesomeness to the vicinity of the Morgue and
again turned to the right, into a narrow, dirty street,— the Rue du
Haut-Pavé,— whose windings
brought us into a similar street,— the Rue Galande. Bishop halted in
front of a low arched doorway, which blazed somberly in its coat of
blood-red paint. A twisted gas-lamp, demoralized and askew, hung
overhead, and upon the glass enclosing it was painted, with artistic
"Au Soleil D'Or"
This was the
the Golden Sun,— all unconscious of the mockery of its name, another of
those whimsical disjointings in which the shadowy side of Paris is so
prolific. From the interior of the luminary came faintly the notes of a
song, with piano accompaniment.
The archway opened into a
small court paved with ill-fitted flint blocks. At the farther end of
it another gas-lamp flickered at the head of a flight of stairs leading
underground. As we approached the steps a woman sprang from the shadow,
and with a cry, half of fear and half of anger, fled to the street. At
that moment memories of the coziness of our studio became doubly
enticing,— one cannot always approach unfamiliar underground Paris with
perfect courage. But Bishop's coolness was reassuring. He had already
descended the steps, and there was nothing left for me but to follow.
foot of the stairs were half-glass doors curtained with cheap red
cloth. A warm, thick, suffocating gust of air, heavy with the fumes of
beer, wine, and tobacco, assailed our cold faces as we pushed open the
doors and entered the room.
For a moment it was difficult to see clearly, so dense was the smoke.
It was packed against the ceiling like a bank of fog, diminishing in
density downward, and shot through with long banner-like streamers of
smoke freshly emitted.
The human atmosphere of the place could not be caught at
stranger would not have known for the moment whether he was with
theives or artists. But very soon its distrinctive spirit made its
presence and character manifest. The room — which was not a large one —
was well filled with an assortment of those strange and interesting
people some of whom Bishop had entertained at the studio, only here
their characteristics were more pronounced, for they were in their
natural element, depressed and hampered by no contrainsts except of
their own devising. A great many were women although it could be seen
at a glance that they were not of the nymphs who flitted among the
glittering cafés, gowned in delicate laces and sheeny scultured
the essence of mignonette pervading their environment. No; these were
Here one finds, not the student life of
Paris, but its most
unconvential Bohemian life. Here, in this underground rendezvous, a
dirty old hole about twenty feet below the street level, gather nightly
the happy-go-lucky poets, musicians and singers for whom the great busy
world has no use, and who, in their unrelaxing poverty, live in the
tobacco clouds of their own construction, caring nothing for social
canons, obeyers of
the civil law because of their scorn of meanness,
injustice and crime, suffering unceasingly for the poorest comforts of
life, ambitious without energy, hopeful without effort, cheerful under
the direct pressure of need, kindly, simple, proud and pitiful.
All were seated at little round tables,
as are the habitués of the
cafés, and their attention was directed upon a slim young fellow
curling yellow hair and a faint mustache, who was singing, leaning
meanwhile upon a piano that stood on a low platform in one corner of
the room. Their attention was respectful, delicate, sympathetic, and,
as might be supposed, brought out the best in the lad. It was evident
that he had not been a member of the scared circle. His voice was a
smooth, velvety tenor, and under proper instruction might have been
useful to its possessor as a means of earning a livelihood. But it was
clear that he had already fallen under the spell of the associations to
which accident or his inclination had brought him; and this meant that
henceforth he would live in this strange no-world of dreams, hopes,
sufferings and idleness, and that likely he would in time come to
gather cigar stumps on the sanded pavement of the Café
after that sleep with the rats under the bridges of the Seine. At this
moment, however, he lived in the clouds; he breathed and glowed with
the spirit of shiftless, proud, starving Bohemianism as it is lived in
Paris, benignantly disdainful of the great moiling, money-grubbing
world that roard around him, and perhaps already the adoration of some
girl of poetic or artistic tastes and aspirations, who was serving him
as only the Church gives a woman the right.
There was time to look about while he was
singing, though that was
difficult, so strange and pathetic a picture he made. The walls of the
room were dirty and bare, though relieved at rare intervals by sketches
and signs. The light came from three gas-burners, and was reflected by
a long mirror at one end of the room.
No attention had been paid to our
entrance, except by the garçon, a
heavy-set, bulll-necked fellow, who, with a sign, base us make no noise.
When the song had finished the audience broke into
applause, shouting, "Bravo, mon vieux!" "Bien fait, Marquis!" and the
clapping of hands and beating of glasses on the marble topped tables
and pounding of canes on the floor made a mighty din. The young singer,
his cheeks glowing and his eyes blazing, modestly rolled up his music
and sought his seat.
We were now piloted to seats by the
garçon, who, when we had settled
ourselves, demanded to know what we would rink. "Deux bocks!" he yelled
across the room. "Deux bocks!" came echoing back from the counter,
where a fat woman presided — knitting.
Several long-haired littérateurs —
friends of Bishop's — came up and
saluted him and shook his hand, all with a certain elegance and
dignity. He, in turn, introduced me, and the conversation at once
turned to art, music and poetry. Whatever the sensational news of the
day, whatever the crisis in the cabinet, whatever anything might have
been that was stirring the people in the great outside commonplace
world, these men and women gave it no heed whatever. What was the
gross, hard, eager world to them? Did not the glories of the Golden Sun
lend sufficient warmth to their hearts, and were not their vague
aspirations and idle hopes ample stimulants to their minds and spirits?
They quickly found a responsive mood in us, and this so delighted them
that they ordered the drinks.
genius at the piano was a white haired, spiritual looking man, whose
snowy locks gave the only indication of his age; for his face was
filled with the eternal youthfulness of a careless and contented heart.
His slender, delicate fingers told of his temperament, his thin cheeks
of his poverty, and his splendid dreamy eyes of the separate life that
Standing on the platform beside him was a man of a very
different type. It was the pianist's function to be merely a musician;
but the other man — the musical director — was one from whom judgment,
decision and authority were required. Therefore he was large, powerful
and big stomached, and had a pumpkin head and fat, baggy eyes that
shone through narrow slits. He now stepped forward and rang a little
bell, upon which all talking was instantly hushed.
"Mesdames et messieurs," he said, in a large capable
voice, "J'ai 1'honneur de votis annoncer
que Madame Louise Leroux, nous lira ses dernières œuvres — une
faveur que nous apprécierons tous."
young woman — about twenty-three, I should judge — arose from one of
the tables where she had been sitting talking with an insipid
looking gentleman adorned with a blond moustache and vacant, staring
eyes; he wore a heavy coat trimmed, with astrachan collar and cuffs
which, being open at the throat, revealed the absence of a shirt from
his body. A Latin Quarter top-hat was pushed back on his head, and his
long, greasy hair hung down over his collar. Madame Leroux smiled
affectionately at him as she daintily flicked the ashes from her
cigarette and laid it upon the table, and moistened her thin red lips
with a yellow liqueur from her glass. He responded with a condescending
jerk of his head, and, diving into one of the inner pockets of his
coat, brought forth a roll of paper, which she took. A great clapping
of hands and loud cries of her name greeted her as she stepped upon the
platform, but it was clearly to be seen from her indifferent air that
she had been long accustomed to this attention.
The big musical director
again rang his bell.
"Il était une Fois," she said, simply. The pianist
fingered the keys softly, and she began to recite.
his gaze fastened upon her with respectful interest. She spoke slowly,
in a low, sweet tone, the soft accompaniment of the piano following the
rhythm of her voice with wonderful effectiveness. She seemed to forget
her surroundings, — the hot, close room, crowded with shabby, eccentric
geniuses who lived from hand to mouth, the poverty that evidently was
her lot,— even her lover, who sat watching her with a cold, critical,
half-disdainful air, making notes upon a slip of paper, now nodding his
head approvingly, now frowning, when pleased or displeased with her
performance. She was a rare picture as she thus stood and recited, a
charming swing to her trim figure, half
reclining upon the piano, her black hair falling loosely and caressing
her forehead and casting her dark eyes in deeper shadow, and all her
soul going forth in the low, soft, subdued passion of her verses. She
reminded one greatly of Bernhardt, and might have been as great.
During her whole
rendering of this beautiful and pathetic tale of "other times" she
scarcely moved, save for some slight gesture that suggested worlds. How
well the lines suited her own history and condition only she could have
told. Who was she? What had she been? Surely this strange woman, hardly
more than a mere girl, capable of such feelings and of rendering them
with so subtle force and beauty, had lived another life,— no one knew,
no one cared.
Loud shouts of admiration and long
applause rang through the room as she slowly and with infinite
tenderness uttered the last line with bowed head and a choking voice.
She stood for a moment while the room thundered, and then the noise
seemed to recall her, to drag her back from some haunting memory to the
squalor of her present condition, and then her eyes eagerly sought the
gentleman of the fur-collared coat. It was an anxious glance that she
cast upon him. He carelessly nodded once or twice, and she instantly
became transfigured. The melancholy of her eyes and the wretched
dejection of her pose disappeared, and her sad face lit up with a
beaming, happy smile. She was starting to return to him, all the woman
in her awaking to affection and a yearning for
the refuge of his love, when the vociferous cries of the crowd for an
encore, and the waving of her lover's hand as a signal for her to
comply, sent her back on guard to the piano again. Her smile was very
sweet and her voice full of trippling melody when she now recited a
sweet little ballad,— also her own composition,— "Amours Joyeux," — in
so entirely different a spirit that it was almost impossible to believe
her the same mortal. Every fiber of her being participated in the
rollicking abandon of the piece, and her eyes were flooded with the
mellow radiance of supreme love satisfied and victorious.
Upon regaining her seat she was
immediately surrounded by a praise-giving crowd, who shook hands with
her and heartily congratulated her; but it was clear that she could
think only of him of the fur collar, and that no word of praise or
blame would weigh with her the smallest fraction of a feather's weight
unless this one man uttered it. She disengaged her hand from her
crowding admirers and deftly donned her little white Alpine hat, all
the while looking into the face of the one man who could break her
heart or send her to heaven. He sat looking at his boot, indifferent,
bored. Presently he looked up into her anxious eyes, gazed at her a
moment, and then leaned forward and spoke a word. It sent her to
heaven. Her face all aglow and her eyes shining with happiness, she
called the garçon,paid for the four saucers upon the
table, and left the room upon the arm of her lover.
she does adore that dog!" exclaimed my friend the musician.
does he do ?" I asked.
he echoed. "Nothing. It is she who does all. Without her he would
starve. He is a writer of some ability, but too much of a socialist to
work seriously. In her eyes he is the greatest writer in the world. She
would sacrifice everything to please him. Without him her life would
fall into a complete blank, and her recklessness would quickly send
her into the lowermost ranks. When a woman like that loves, she
loves— ah, les femmes sont difficiles à comprendre !" My friend
burying his moustaches in a foaming bock.
grew clearer as I became more and more accustomed to the place and its
habitués. It seemed that nearly all of them were absinthe
that they drank a great deal,— all they could get, I was made to
understand. They care little about their dress and the other
accessories of their personal appearance, though here and there they
exhibit the oddest finery, into whose possession they fall by means
which casual investigation could not discover, and which is singularly
out of harmony with the other articles of their attire and with the
environment which they choose. As a rule, the men wear their hair very
long and in heavy, shaggy masses over their ears and faces. They
continually roll and smoke cigarettes, though there are many pipes, and
big ones at that. But though they constitute a strange crowd, there is
about them a distinct
air of refinement, acertain dignity and pride that never
fails, and withal a gentleness that renders any approach to ruffianism
impossible. The women take a little more pride in their appearance than
the men. Even in their carelessness and seeming indifference there
abides with nearly all of them the power to lend themselves some single
touch of grace that is wonderfully redeeming, and that is infinitely
finer and more elusive than the showy daintiness of the women of the
rule, these Bohemians all sleep during the day, as that is the best way
to keep warm; at night they can find warmth in the cabarets. In the
afternoon they may write a few lines, which they sell in some way for a
pittance, wherewithal to buy them a meal and a night's vigil in one of
these resorts. This is the life of lower Bohemia plain and simple,— not
the life of the students, but of the misfit geniuses who drift, who
have neither place nor part in the world, who live from hand to mouth,
and who shudder when the Morgue is mentioned,— and it is so near, and
its lights never go out! They are merely protestants against the
formalism of life, rebels against its necessities. They seek no
following, they desire to exercise no influence. They lead their vacant
lives without the slightest restraint, bear their poverty without a
murmur, and go to their dreary end without a sigh. These are the true
Bohemians of Paris.
Other visitors came into
the Soleil d'Or and sought seats among their friends at the tables,
kept leaving, bound for other rendezvous, many staying just
sufficiently long to hear a song or two. They were all of the same
class, very negligently and poorly attired, some displaying their odd
pieces of finery with an exquisite assumption of unconsciousness on its
account, as though they were millionaires and cared nothing for such
trivial things. And the whimsical incongruities of it! If one wore a
shining tile he either had no shirt (or perhaps a very badly soiled
one), or wore a frayed coat and disreputable shoes. In fact, no
complete respectable dress made its appearance in the room that night,
though each visitor had his distinctive specialty,— one a burnished top
hat, another a gorgeous cravat, another a rich velvet jacket, and so
on. But they all wore their hair as long as it would grow. That is the
The little bell again
rang, and the heavy director announced that "Monsieur Léon
would sing one of his newest songs." Monsieur Léon
Décarmeau was a lean,
half-starved appearing man of about forty, whose eyes were sunk deep in
his head, and whose sharp cheek-bones protruded prominently. On the
bridge of his thin, angular nose set a pair of "pince-nez," attached by
a broad black cord, which he kept fingering nervously as he sang. His
song was entitled "Fleurs et Pensées," and he threw himself into
with a broad and passionate eagerness that heavily strained the barrier
between melodrama and burlesque. His glance sought the ceiling in a
frenzied quest of
imaginary nymphs, his arms swayed
as he tenderly caressed imaginary flowers of sweet love and drank in
their intoxicating perfume instead of the hot, tobacco-rife smoke of
the room. His voice was drawn out in tremendous sighs full of tears,
and his chest heaved like a blacksmith's bellows. But when he had
ceased he was most generously applauded and praised.
During the intervals
between the songs and recitations the room was noisy with laughter,
talking, and the clinking of glasses. The one garçon was
serving boissons and yelling orders to the bar, where the fat woman sat
industriously knitting, heedless, as might have been expected of the
keeper of the Cave of Adullam, and awakening to activity only when the
stentorian yells of the garçon's orders rose above the din of
establishment. Absinthe and beer formed the principal beverages,
though, as a rule, absinthe was taken only just before a meal, and then
it served as an appetizer,— a sharpener of hunger to these who had so
little wherewithal to satisfy the hunger that unaided nature created!
The mystery of the means
by which these lighthearted Bohemians sustained their precarious
existence was not revealed to me; yet here they sat, and laughed, and
talked, and recited the poetry of their own manufacture, and sang their
songs, and drank, and smoked their big pipes, and rolled cigarettes
incessantly, happy enough in the hour of their lives, bringing hither
none of the pains and pangs and numbing evidences of their struggles.
was no touch of the sordid in the composite picture that they made, and
a certain tinge of intellectual refinement, a certain spirituality that
seemed to raise them infinitely above the plane of the lowly strugglers
who won their honest bread by honest labor, shone about them as a halo.
Their dark hours, no
doubt, came with ihe daylight, and in these meetings at the cabaret
they found an agreeable way in which to while away the dismal interval
that burdened their lives when they were not asleep; for the cabaret
was warm and bright, warmer and brighter than their own wretched little
rooms au cinquième,— and coal and candles are expensive
if their productions haply could not find a larger and more
remunerative audience, they could at least be heard,— by a few, it is
true, but a most appreciative few, and that is something of value equal
to bread. And then, who could tell but what fame might unexpectedly
crown them in the end? It has happened thus.
why worry ?" asked the musician. " 'Laugh, and the world laughs with
you. If we do not live a long life, it is at least a jolly one,' is our
motto;" and certainly they gave it most faithful allegiance.
learned from Bishop that the musical director received three francs a
night for his services. Should singers happen to be lacking, or should
the evening be dull for other reasons, he himself was forced to sing
for the tension of the Soleil d'Or must be kept forever taut. The old
white-haired pianist received two francs a night, and each of these
contributors to the gaiety of the place was given a drink gratis. So
there was at least some recompense besides the essential one of
appreciation from the audience.
Glasses clinked merrily, and poets and composers flitted
about the room to chat with their contemporaries. A sketch artist,
deftly drawing the portrait of a baritone's jolly little mistress, was
surrounded by a bantering group, that passed keen, intelligent and good
natured criticism on the work as it rapidly grew under his hands. The
whitehaired pianist sat purring at his cigarette and looking over some
music with a rather pretty young woman who had written popular songs of
The opening of the doors and the
straggling entrance of three men sent an instant hush throughout the
"Verlaine !" whispered the musician to me.
It was indeed the great poet of the slums,— the epitome
and idol of Bohemian Paris, the famous man whose verses had rung
throughout the length and breadth of the city, the one man who, knowing
the heart and soul of the strugglers who found light and warmth in such
places as the Soleil d'Or, had the brains and grace to set the strange
picture adequately before the wondering world.
The musical director, as well as a number
of others in the place, stepped forward, and with touching deference
and tenderness greeted the remarkable man and his two companions. It
was easy to pick out Verlaine without relying upon the special
distinction with which he was greeted. He had the oddest
slanting eyes, a small, stubby nose, and wiry whiskers, and his massive
forehead heavily overhung his queerly shaped eyes. He was all muffled
up to the chin; wore a badly soiled hat and a shabby dark coat. Under
one arm he carried a small black portfolio. Several of the women ran to
him and kissed him on both cheeks, he heartily returned the salutations
One of his companions was Monsieur Bi-Bi-dans-la-Purée — so he
was called, though seemingly he might have been in anything as well as
soup. He was an exceedingly interesting figure. His sunken, drawn,
smooth-shaven face gave terrible evidence of the excessive use of
absinthe. A large hooked nose overshadowed a wide, loose mouth that
hung down at the corners, and served to set forth in startling relief
the sickly leaden color of his face. When he spoke, a few straggling
teeth gleamed unpleasantly. He wore no overcoat, and his jacket hung
open, disclosing a half-opened shirt that exposed his bare breast. His
frayed trousers dragged the ground at his heels. But his eyes were the
most terrible part of him; they shone with the wild, restless light of
a madman, and their gaze was generally flitting and distrait,
acknowledging no acquaintances. Afterwards, when Verlaine was dead, I
often saw Monsieur Bi Bi-dans-la-Purée
on the street, looking most desolate, a roll of white manuscript in his
hand, his coat and shirt wide open, exposing his naked breast to the
biting cold wind. He seemed to be living altogether in another world,
and gazed about him with the same unseeing vacant stare that so
startled me that night in the Soleil d'Or.
When Verlaine and his companions
were seated — by displacing the artist — the recitations and songs
recommenced; and it was noticeable that they were rendered with
augmented spirit, that the famous poet of the slums might be duly
impressed with the capabilities and hospitable intentions of his
entertainers; for now all performed for Verlaine, not for one another.
The distinguished visitor had removed his slouch hat, revealing the
wonderful oblong dome of his bald head, which shone like the Soleil
d'Or; and many were the kisses reverently and affectionately bestowed
upon that glistening eminence by the poet's numerous female admirers in
A reckless-looking young woman, with a
black hat drawn down over her eyes, and wearing glasses, was now
reciting. Her hands were gloved in black, but the finger-tips were worn
through,— a fact which she made all the more evident by a peculiar
gesture of the fingers.
As the small hours grew larger these gleeful Bohemians
waxed gayer and livelier. Formalities were gradually abandoned, and the
constraint of dignity and reserve slowly melted under the mellowing
influences of the place. Ceremonious observances
were dropped one by one; and whereas there had been the most respectful
and insistent silence throughout the songs, now all joined heartily in
the choruses, making the dim lights dance in the exuberance of the
enjoyment. I had earnestly hoped that Verlaine, splendid as was his
dignity, might thaw under the gathering warmth of the hour, but beyond
listening respectfully, applauding moderately, and returning the
greetings that were given him, he held aloof from the influence of the
occasion, and alter draining his glass and bidding good-night to his
many friends, he made off to another rendezvous with his two companions.
Monsieur le Directeur came over to our
table and asked Bishop to
favor the audience with a "chanson Américaine." This rather
my modest friend, but he finally yielded to entreaties. The director
rang his little bell again and announced that "Monsieur Beeshup" would
sing a song à l'Américaine.
This was received with uproarious shouts by all, and several left their
seats and escorted Bishop to the platform. I wondered what on earth he
would sing. The accompanist, after a little coaching from Bishop,
assailed the chords, and Bishop began drawling out his old favorite,
"Down on the Farm." He did it nobly, too, giving the accompanist
occasion for labor in finding the more difficult harmonies. The
hearers, though they did not understand a word of the ditty, and
therefore lost the whole of its pathos, nevertheless listened with
curious interest and respect, though with evident veiled amusement.
Many quick ears caught the refrain. At first there came an exceedingly
soft chorus from the room, and it gradually rose until the whole crowd
had thrown itself into the spirit of the melody, and swelled it to a
mighty volume. Bishop led the singers, beating time with his right arm,
his left thumb meanwhile hooked in the arm-hole of his waistcoat.
"Bravo! Bravo, Beeshup! Bis!" they yelled, when it was finished, and
then the room rang with a salvo of hand-clappings in unison:
1-2-3-4-5—1-2-3-4-5—1-2-3-4-5—1—2—3!! A great ovation greeted him as he
marched with glowing cheeks to his seat, and those who knew him crowded
round him for a hand-shake. The musician asked him if he would sing the
song in private for him, that he might write down the melody, to which
Bishop agreed, on condition that the musician pose for him. Bishop had
a singularly sharp eye for opportunities.
The sketch artist sauntered over and sat down at our table to have a
chat with Bishop. He was a singular fellow. His manner was smoothed by
a fine and delicate courtesy, bespeaking a careful rearing, whose
effects his loose life and promiscuous associations could not
obliterate. His age was about thirty-two, though he looked much older,—
this being due in part to his hard life and in other part to the heavy
whiskers that he wore. An absurd little round felt hat sat precariously
on his riotous mane, and I was in constant apprehension lest it should
fall off every time he shook his head. Over his shoulders was a blue
cape covering a once white shirt that was devoid of a collar.
fingers were all black with the crayon that he had used in sketching.
He said that he had already earned twelve sous that evening, making
portraits at six
sous a head! But there was not so much money to be made in a
place like this as in the big cafés,— the frequenters were too
him where he had studied and learned his art, for it could be easily
seen that he had had some training; his portraits were not half bad,
a knowledge of drawing., He thereupon told me his story.
come to Paris thirteen years before from Nantes, Brittany, to study
art. His father kept a small grocery and provision shop in Nantes, and
lived in meager circumstances. The son having discovered what his
father deemed a remarkable talent for drawing when a boy, the father
sent him to Paris, with an allowance of a hundred francs a month, and
he had to deny himself severely to furnish it. When the young man
arrived at Paris he studied diligently at the École des
a while, and became acquainted with many of the students and models. He
soon found the easy life of the cafés, with the models for
more fascinating than the dull grind of the school. It was much
pleasanter to enjoy the gaiety of the nights and sleep all day than
drone and labor at his easel. As his small allowance did not permit
extravagance, he fell deeply into debt, and gave more heed to absinthe
than his meals, — it is cheaper, more alluring and brings an
exhilaration that sharpens wit and equips the soul with wings.
For a whole year the
father was in total ignorance of his son's conduct, but one day a
friend, who had seen the young man in Paris, laid the ugly story in his
father's ear. This so enraged the father that he instantly stopped the
remittances and disowned his son. All appeals for money, all promises
to reform, were in vain, and so the young madcap was forced to look
about for a means of subsistence. And thus it
was that he drifted into the occupation of a sketch artist, making
portraits in the cafés all night and sleeping in daytime. This
him a scant living.
But there was his
mistress, Marcelle, always faithful to him. She worked during the day
at sewing, and shared her small earnings with him. All went fairly well
during the summer, but in winter the days were short, Marcelle's
earnings were reduced, and the weather was bitter cold. Still, it was
not so bad as it might be, he protested; but underneath his easy
flippancy I imagined I caught a shadow,— a flitting sense of the
hollowness and misery and hopelessness and shame of it all. But I am
not certain of that. He had but gone the way of many and many another,
and others now are following in his footsteps, deluding self-denying
parents, and setting foot in the road which, so broad and shining at
the beginning, narrows and darkens as it leads nearer and nearer to the
rat holes under the bridges of the Seine, and to the grim house whose
lights forever shine at night under the shadow of Notre-Dame.
But there was his
mistress, Marcelle, always faithful to him. She worked during the day
at sewing, and shared her small earnings with him. All went fairly well
during the summer, but in winter the days were short, Marcelle's
earnings were reduced, and the weather was bitter cold. Still, it was
not so bad as it might be, he protested; but underneath his easy
flippancy I imagined I caught a shadow,— a flitting sense of the
hollowness and misery and hopelessness and shame of it all. But I am
not certain of that. He had but gone the way of many and many another,
and others now are following in his footsteps, deluding self-denying
parents, and setting foot in the road which, so broad and shining at
the beginning, narrows and darkens as it leads nearer and nearer to the
rat holes under the bridges of the Seine, and to the grim house whose
lights forever shine at night under the shadow of Notre-Dame.
Had monsieur a cigarette
to spare? Monsieur had, and monsieur thought that the thanks for it
were out of all proportion to its value; but they were totally eclipsed
by the praises of monsieur's wonderful generosity in paying for a glass
of absinthe and sugar for the man who made faces at six sous apiece.
The quiet but none the
less high tension of the place, the noise of the singing, the rattling
of glasses and saucers, the stifling foul air of the room, filled
me with weariness and threatened me with nausea. Things had moved in a
constant whirl all night, and now it was nearly four o'clock. How much
longer will this last?
"Till five o'clock,"
answered the musician; then all the lights go out, and the place is
closed; and our friends seek their cold, cheerless rooms, to sleep far
into the afternoon.
We paid for our saucers,
and after parting adieux left in company with the musician and the
aesthetic poet. How deliciously sharp and refreshing was the cold,
biting air as we stepped out into the night! It seemed as though I had
been breathing molasses. The fog was thicker than ever, and the night
was colder. The two twisted gas-lamps were no longer burning as we
crossed the slippery stone-paved court and ascended to the narrow
street. The musician wrapped a gray muffler about his throat and thrust
his hands deep into his pockets. The poet had no top-coat, but he
buttoned his thin jacket tightly about him, and shivered.
we have some lait chaud and a croissant?" inquired the musician.
Yes, anything hot would
be good, even milk; but where could we get it?
"Ah, you shall see!"
We had not gone far when
it gave me a start to recognize a figure that we had seen in the Boul'
Mich' on our way to the Soleil d'Or. It was that of an outcast of the
boulevards, now slinking through the shadows toward the
river. We had
been accosted by him in front of one of the
brilliant cafés, as, trembling and rubbing his hands, a picture
of hopeless dejection and
misery, and in a quavering voice
he begged us to
buy him a drink of
brandy. It probably saved him from an attack of
delirium tremens that night, but here he was drifting, with a singular
fatality, toward the river and the Morgue. Now, that his day's work of
begging was done, all his jackal watchfulness had disappeared, and an
inner vision seemed to look forth from his bleared eyes as their gaze
strained straight and dull toward the black river. It may have been a
mere fancy, but the expression in his eyes reminded me strongly of
similar things that I had seen on the slabs in the Morgue.
We crossed the Rue du Haut-Pavé again to the river
wall, and arrived at the bridge leading back of Notre-Dame and past the
Morgue. On the farther end of the bridge, propped against the parapet,
was a small stand, upon a corner of which a dim lamp was burning. In
front were a number of milk cans, and on a small counter were a row of
thick white bowls and a basket of croissants. Inside, upon a small
stove, red with heat, were two kettles from which issued clouds of
steam bearing an odor of boiling milk. A stout woman, her face so well
wrapped in a shawl that only the end of her red nose was visible,
"Bon jour, messieurs. En voulez-vous du bon lait bien chaud?"
She poured out four bowls of steaming milk, and gave us each a roll.
For this luxury we paid three sous each; and a feast it was, for the
shivering poet, at least, for he licked the hot bowl clean and ate the
very crumbs of his croissant.
As we were bound for widely separated quarters, our Bohemian friends
bade us an affectionate
good night, and were soon swallowed up in the gloom. We turned towards
home and the Boul' Mich'. All the cafés were closed and dark,
but the boulevard was alive with canal-boatmen, streetsweepers, and
rumbling vegetable- and milk-carts. The streets were being washed clean
of all evidences of the previous day's life and turmoil, and the great
city was creeping forth from its lair to begin another.
short, busy little street, the Rue cle 1'Ancienne-Comédie,
which runs from the Boulevard St. Germain, in a line from the
National de 1'Odéon and connecting with the Rue Mazarin, its
continuation, the heavy dome of the Institut looming at its end, is to
be found probably the most famous café in Paris, for in its day
been the rendezvous of the most noted French littérateurs,
and savants. What is more, the Procope was the first café
in Paris, originating the appellation "café" to a place where
served, for it was here that coffee was introduced to France as an
That was when the famous café was in its glory.
Some of the great celebrities who made it famous have been dead for
nearly two hundred years, though its greatest fame came a century
afterwards; and now the café, no longer glorious as it was when
the old Théâtre Français stood opposite, reposes in
a quiet street far from the noise and glitter and life of the
boulevards, and lives on the splendid memories that crowd it. Other
cafés by the thousand have sprung into existence, and the word
has spread to coffee saloons and restaurants throughout Christendom;
and the ancient rive droite nurses the history and relics
of the golden days of its glory, alone in a quiet street, surrounded by
tightly shut shops, and the calm of a sleeping village.
Still, it retains many of its ancient
characteristics and much of the old-time quaintness peculiar to itself
and setting it wholly apart, and it is yet the rendezvous of
littérateurs and artists, who, if not so famous as the great men
in whose seats they sit, play a considerable role in the life of modern
The front of the café is a neat little terrace oft
the street, screened by a fanciful network of vines and shrubbery that
spring from green painted boxes and that conceal cozy little tables and
corners placed behind them. Instead of the usual showy plate windows,
one still finds the quaint old window panes, very small carreaux, kept
highly polished by the tireless garçon apprentice.
Tacked to the white pillars are numerous copies of Le
Procope, a weekly journal published by Théo, the proprietor
of the café. Its contributors are the authors, journalists and
poets who frequent the café, and it publishes a number of
portraits besides, and some spirited drawings. It is devoted in part to
the history of the café and of the celebrities who have made it
famous, and publishes portraits of them, from Voltaire to Paul
Verlaine. This same journal was published here over two hundred years
ago, in 1689, and it was the means then by which the patrons of the
establishment kept in closer touch with their contemporaries and the
spirit of the time. Théo is proprietor and business manager, as
well as editor.
following two poems will give an idea of the grace of the matter
contained in Le Procope:
A UNE ESPAGNOLE
Je suivrai sur les flots le vol des alcyons
Chaque soir surgira dans les derniers rayons
Le profil triste et doux d'Ida, de ma sirène.
La figure et de lys et d'iris transparente,
Ressortira plus blanche en 1'ombre des cheveux
Profonds comme un mystére et troublants et mes yeux
Boiront dans l'Idéal sa caresse enivrante.
rechercherai l'énignie du sourire
Railleur ou de pitié qui luisait dans ses yeux
En des paillettes d'or sous ses beaux cils ombreux. . . .
retomberai dans la tristesse . . . et dire
Qu'un seul mot me rendrait et la vie et 1'espoir:
Belle, mon rendez-vous n'est-il point pour ce soir?
Je suis seul dans la
vide, et cerveau qui vacille,
projet, sans but, sans amour
suis seul dans la grande ville.
Le dos voûté, les bras ballants,
Je marche au hasard dans
A longs pas lourds et nonchalants,
On me pousse, heurte,
dos voute, les bras ballants.
Je suis accablé de silence,
De ce silence intérieur,
Tel un brouillard subtil
Qui tombe a plis lourds
sur le cœur,
Je suis accablé de
Ah! quand viendront les jours heureux,
Qu'espère mon cœur
Quand viendra la
Qu'implore mon âme eperdue,
Ah! quand viendront les jours heureux!
Here is a
particularly charming little poem, written in the musical French of two
or three centuries ago:
Sur vostre lévre
fraiche et rose,
Ma mye, ah! laissiez-moi poser
Cette tant bonne et doulce chose,
Telle une fleur au jour
le vois vostre teint se roser;
Si ie vous redonnois,— ie n'ose,
A chascun iour de la sepmaine
Trop tôt viendront
vieil aage et peine!
Lors n'aurez plus, feussiez-vous reine,
The modern gas illumination of the café, in contrast to the
fashion of brilliant lighting that prevails in the showy cafés
of the boulevards, must nevertheless be a great advance on the ancient
way that it had of being lighted with crude oil lamps and candelabra.
But the dim illumination is in perfect keeping with the other
appointments of the place, which are dark, sombre, and funereal. The
interior of the Procope is as dark as a finely colored old meerschaum
pipe. The woodwork, the chairs, and the tables are deeply stained by
time, the contrasting white marble tops of the tables suggesting
gravestones and with all these go the deeply discolored walls and the
many ancient paintings,— even the caisse, behind which sits Madame
Théo, dozing over her knitting. This caisse is a wonderful piece
of furniture in itself, of some rich dark wood, beautifully carved and
Madame Théo is in black, her head resting against the frame of
an old crayon portrait of Voltaire on the wall behind her. A fat and
comfortable black cat is asleep in the midst of rows of white saucers
and snowy napkins. The only garçon, except the garçon
apprentice, is sitting in a corner drowsing over an evening paper, but
ever ready to answer the quiet calls of the customers. For in the
matter of noise and frivolity the Café Procope is wholly unlike
the boulevard cafes. An atmosphere of refined and elegant suppression
pervades the place; the roystering spirit that haunts the boulevards
stops at the portals of the Procope. Here all is peace and
tranquillity, and that is why it is the haunt of many earnest aud
aspiring poets and authors; for hither they may bring their portfolios
in peace and security, and here they may work upon their manuscripts,
knowing that their neighbors are similarly engrossed and that intrusion
is not to be feared. And then, too, are they not sitting on the same
chairs and writing at the same tables that have been occupied by some
of the greatest men in all the brilliant history of Fance? Is not this
the place in which greatness had budded and blossomed in the centuries
gone? Are not these ancient walls the same that echoed the wit,
badinage, and laughter of the masters? And there are the portraits of
the great themselves, looking down benignly and encouragingly upon the
young strugglers striving to follow in their footsteps, and into the
ghostly mirrors, damaged by time and now sending back only ghosts of
shadows, they look as the great had looked before them. It is here,
therefore, that many of the modern geniuses of France have drawn their
inspiration, shaking off the endless turmoil of the noisy and bustling
world, living with the works and memories of the ancient dead, and
working out their destiny under the magic spell that hovers about the
place. It is for this reason that the habitués are jealous of
the intrusion of the curious and worldly. In this quiet and secure
retreat they feel no impinging of the wearing and crippling world that
roars and surges through the busy streets and boulevards.
M. Théo de Bellefond is the full
name of the proprietor, but he is commonly known as M. Théo. He
is a jolly little man, with an ambitious round stomach, a benevolent
face covered with a Vandyke beard and a shining bald head. A large
flowing black cravat, tied into an artistic négligé bow,
hides his shirt. M. Théo came into possession of the Procope in
1893, a fact duly recorded on a door panel, along with the names of
over a score of the celebrities who have made the Procope their place
of rest, refection and social enjoyment. M. Procope was a journalist in
his day, but now the ambition that moves him is to restore the ancient
glory of the Procope; to make it again the center of French brains and
power in letters, art and politics. To this end he exerts all his
journalistic tact, a fact clearly shown by the able manner in which he
conducts his journal, Le Procope. He has worked out the
history of the café, and has at the ends of his fingers the
life-stories of its famous patrons.
Café Procope was founded in 1689 by Francois Procope, where it
now stands. Opposite was the Comédie Française, which
also was opened that year. The café soon became the rendezvous
of all who aspired to greatness in art, letters, philosophy and
politics. It was here that Voltaire, in his eighty-second year, while
attending the rehearsals of his play. "Irène," descended from
his chaise-à-porteur at the door of the Café Procope, and
drank the coffee which the café had made fashionable. It was
here also that he became reconciled to Piron, after an estrangement of
more than twenty years.
Ste.-Foix made trouble here one day about a cup of
chocolate. A duel with the proprietor of the café was the
immediate result, and after it Ste.-Foix, badly wounded, exclaimed,
"Nevertheless, monsieur, your sword-thrust does not prevent my saying
that a very sickly déjeûner is une tasse de chocolat!"
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, after the successful representation
of "Le Devin de Village," was carried in triumph to the Procope by
Condorcet, who, with Jean-Jacques on his shoulders, made a tour of the
crowded café, yelling, "Vive la Musique Française!"
Diderot was fond of sitting in a corner and manufacturing
paradoxes and materialistic dissertations to provoke the lieutenant of
police, who would note everything he said and report it to the chief of
police. The lieutenant, ambitious though stupid, one night told his
chief that Diderot had said one never saw souls; to which the chief
returned, "M. Diderot se trompe. L'ame est un esprit, et M. Diderot est
Danton delighted in playing chess in a quiet corner with a
strong adversary in the person of Marat. Many other famous
revolutionists assembled here, among them Fabre d'Églantine,
Robespierre, d'Holbach, Mirabeau and Camille Desmoulins. It was here
that Camille Desmoulins was to be strangled by the reactionists in the
Revolution; it was here that the first bonnet rouge was donned. The
massacre of December, 1792, was here planned, and the killing began at
the very doors of the café. Madame Roland, Lucille Desmoulins,
and the wife of Danton
met here on the 10th of August, the day of the fall of the monarchy,
when bells rang and cannon thundered. It was later that Bonaparte, then
quite young and living in the Quai Conti, in the building which the
American Art Association now occupies, left his hat at the Procope as
security for payment for a drink, he having left his purse at home. In
short, the old café of the Rue
des Fossés-St.-Germain (its old
name) was famous as the meeting place of celebrities. Legendre, the
great geometrician, came hither. One remembers the verses of Masset:
"Je joue aux dominos quelquefois chez Procope." Here Gambetta made
speeches to the reactionist politicians and journalists. He engaged in
more than one prise de bec with le père Coquille, friend of
Veuillot. Coquille always made sprightly and spirited replies when
Gambetta roared, thundered and swore.
Since then have followed days of calm. In later times Paul
Verlaine was a frequenter of the Procope, where he would sit in his
favorite place in the little rear salon at Voltaire's table. This
little salon, in the rear of the café, is held sacred, for its
chair and table are the ones that Voltaire used to occupy. The table is
on one side of the small room. On the walls are many interesting
sketches in oil by well known French artists, and there are fine
ceiling decorations; but all these are seen with difficulty, so dim is
the light in the room. Since Voltaire's time this table has become an
object of curiosity and veneration. When celebrated habitués of
died, this table was used as an altar, upon which for a time reposed
the bust of the decedent before crepe-covered lanterns.
Revolution Hébert jumped upon this table, which had been placed
before the door of the café, and harangued the crowd gathered
there, exciting them to such a pitch that they snatched the newspapers
from the hands of the news vendors. In a moment of passionate appeal he
brought down his heavy boot heel upon the marble with such force as to
In the café are three doors that are decorated in a
very interesting fashion. On the panels of one, well preserved in spite
of the numerous transformations through which the establishment has
gone, M. Théo conceived the happy idea of inscribing in gold
letters the names of the illustrious who have visited the café
since its founding. Many of the panels of the walls are taken with
full-length portraits by Thomas, representing, among others, Voltaire,
Rousseau, Robespierre, Diderot, Danton and Marat playing chess,
Mirabeau, and Gambetta. There are smaller sketches by Corot, d'Aubigny,
Vallon, Courbet, Willette and Roedel. Some of them are not fine
specimens of art.
M. Théo is a devoted collector of
rare books and engravings. His library, which contains many very rare
engravings of the eighteenth century and more than one book of
priceless value, is open to his intimate friends only, with whom he
loves to ramble through his treasures and find interesting data of his
DE LA GALETTE
degree, judging from
the abandon of the whirling figures and the strange types that were
depicted. White lace skirts were sweeping high in the air, revealing
black stockinged ankles and gauzy lingerie in a way unknown to the
monde propre. In contrast to the grace and abandon of the female
figures were the coarseness and clumsiness of their male partners.
The work was nearly finished, but Bishop professed to be
dissatisfied with the foreground architecture and with the drawing of a
hand belonging to one of the male dancers. After boring me at length
with a speech on the necessity of having a model for that hand, he
sheepishly asked me if I would pose for the elusive member. It was then
that curiosity prompted me to inquire where he had found the original
of this remarkable scene.
"Mon enfant sculpteur," he replied, with
the patronizing air of a man of the world, "this is the Moulin de la
"And where is that?" I asked.
"I will show you tomorrow night, if you
Tomorrow would be Sunday. When it had
passed and the evening was come, and after we had enjoyed two courses
of Madame Darblay's juicy gigots and irresistible beans, with the
incomparable sauce afforded by the presence of the sunny actresses who
were there, we walked over to the Boulevard St.-Jacques and waited for
the Montmartre bus to come along. These small, ancient omnibuses are
different from the other vehicles of that breed in Paris, in that
instead of having a narrow curved stairway at the rear leading up to
the impériale, there are but three or four iron foot-rests
against the outside of the rear wall, with an iron rod on either side
to cling to in mounting. Now, the traveller who would reach the
must be something of either an acrobat or a sailor, because, first, as
these buses do not stop, a running leap has to be made for the ladder,
and, second, because of the pitching and rolling of the lumbering
vehicle, the catching and climbing are not easy. If you carry a cane or
a parcel, it must be held in the teeth until the ascent is made, for
both hands have all they can do in the ladder exercise.
The gleam of the red lamp coming down the street prepared
us for a test of our agility. As only one could mount the ladder at a
time, and as I was the first to attack the feat, Bishop had to run
behind for nearly a block before I could give him the right of way up
the ladder. The conductor registered deux sur 1'impériale as we
swung to the top and took seats
forward, just behind the driver. Ladies and fat gentlemen are rarely,
or never, found riding on the impériale
We wrapped up in our big warm coats and
lay back smoking three-sous cigars (always three-sous ones on Sunday),
and as the driver cracked his whip and the heavy machine went rolling
along, we enjoyed the wonderful treat of seeing gay Paris of a Sunday
night from the top of an omnibus. There is hardly anything more
delightful, particularly from the top of a St. Jacques-Montmartre 'bus,
which generally avoids the broad, brilliant streets and goes rolling
and swaying through the narrow, crooked streets of old Paris. Here
there is hardly room for such a vehicle to pass, and one is anxious
lest one's feet sweep off the gas-lamps that fly past. An intimate view
of the domestic life of Paris presents itself likewise, for, being on a
level with the second story windows, you have flitting visions of the
Parisian menage in all its freedom and variety. At this time of the
evening the windows are wide open and the dinnertables are spread near
them, for a view of the street below.
On, on we rumbled, through seemingly
interminable miles of crooked streets, over the gay Boul' Mich', and
the Place St.-Michel; across the river, which reflected the myriad of
lights along its walls and bridges; past the Halles, the greatest
marketplace in the world; past the grand boulevards, a confusing
glitter of colors and lights; past the Folies-Bergère, where
flaming posters announced Loie Fuller in the
throes of a fire dance; and at last to the steep grade of Montmartre.
Here a third horse was added to the pair, and slowly we were dragged up
At the Boulevard Clichy we suddenly
found ourselves in the midst of a terrific uproar; bells,
steamwhistles, hand-organs, bands of music, drums and calliopes made
the bedlam. The streets were blocked with moving masses of laughing
people, and the scene was gaily illuminated by rows of lamps overhead
and on hundreds of stands, merry-go-rounds, theatres, circuses, museums
and all kinds of catchpenny attractions that lined the boulevard. For
this was the Fête de Clichy. Far down the street, almost hidden
by a curve, could be seen the illuminated arms of the Moulin Rouge
slowly revolving through the night.
Still on and up crawled the bus, now in the very heart of Montmartre,
through the lively, crowded, bright streets on the great hill of Paris.
Here are hot-chestnut vendors at the corners; fried-potato women,
serving crisp brown chips; street hawkers, with their heavy push-carts;
song-sellers, singing the songs that they sell, to make purchasers
familiar with the airs; flower-girls; gaudy shops; bright restaurants
and noisy cafés,— all constituting that distinctive quarter of
At last the summit of the hill was made, and the panting horses must
have been glad that it was all down hill ahead. Bishop gave the signal
to alight a block before the desired street was reached, for by the
time we could touch the ground the bus had covered that distance on the
down run. Bishop led the way up a dim little street,— the Rue Muller, I
noticed on the wall. It was very steep, and at last ended at the bottom
of a flight of stone steps that seemed to run into the sky. Their
length was marked by lamps glowing one above another in long rows. It
was hard work climbing to the top.
The top at last! We seemed to be among
the clouds. Far below us lay the great shining city, spreading away
into distance; and although it was night, the light of a full moon and
untold thousands of lamps in the streets and buildings below enabled us
easily to pick out the great thoroughfares and the more familiar
structures. There was the Opéra, there the Panthéon,
there Notre-Dame, there St.Sulpice, there the Invalides, and, uplifted
to emulate the eminence on which we stood, the Tour Eiffel, its
revolving searchlight at the apex shining like an immense meteor or
comet with its misty trail stretching out over the city. The roar of
life faintly reached our ears from the vast throbbing plain, where
millions of human mysteries were acting out their tragedies. The scene
was vast, wonderful, entrancing.
Far above us still a maze of rafters, beams, and
scaffolding fretted the sky,— the skeleton of that beautiful but
unfinished Church of the Sacré-Cœur, crowning the very summit of
There seemed to be no life here, for not a soul did we
meet, and not a light shone except that of the moon. Bishop guided me
through a maze of steep
stony passages, between the walls of dark gardens, turning now to the
right, again to the left, through archways and courts; and I wondered
how he could remember them all. Before I could fully comprehend our
position we were confronted by two black, gaunt, uncanny objects with
long outstretched arms that cut across the sky like giant skeleton
sentinels forbidding our farther advance. But the sounds of lively
music and the glow of rows of white-globed lamps quickly banished the
illusion and advertised the fact that we were in a very material and
sensual world, for they announced the Moulin de la Galette at the foot
of the passage. The spectres against the sky were only very, very old
windmills, relics of the time, three centuries gone, when windmills
crowded the summit of Montmartre to catch all the winds that blew. Now
they stand, stark, dead, silent and decaying; their stately revolutions
are no more; and the skeleton frames of their fans look down on a
marvellous contrast, the intensely real life of the Galette.
We fell in line with many others at the ticket office, and
paid the fifty centimes admission fee (ladies twenty-five centimes). We
were relieved of our hats and canes by a stout old woman in the
vestiaire, who claimed two sous from each. Following the up-hill
passage of the entrance, the walls of which are painted with flowers
and garden scenes, we entered the great ballroom. What a brilliant
scene of life and light!— at first a blur of sound, light and movement,
then gradually resolving into the simple elements composing it. The
floor was covered with dancers, and the girls were making a generous
display of graceful
anatomy. A large band at the farther end of the room, on an inclined
stand, was the vortex of the din. The promenade encircling the hall was
crowded with hatless laughing girls and smooth-faced boys wearing caps
or flat-brimmed low crowned hats; their trousers fitted tight at the
knees, and their heads were closely cropped. These were strolling in
groups, or watching the dancers, or sitting at the rows of wooden
tables drinking. All within the vast hall had gone to enjoy their
Sunday night as much as possible. To most of the girls this was the one
night in the week when, not tired out from the drudgery of hard work,
they could throw aside all cares and live in the way for which
their cramped and meagre souls yearned. This is a rendezvous for the
humble workers of the city, where they may dress as best they can,
exchange their petites histoires, and abandon themselves to the luxury
of the dance; for they are mostly shop-girls, and blanchisseuses, and
the like, who, when work fails them, have to hover about the dark
streets at night, that prosperous-looking passers-by may be tempted by
the pleading of their dark saucy eyes, or be lured by them to some
quiet spot where their lovers lie in wait with a lithe and competent
black slung-shot. No mercy for the hapless bourgeois then! For the dear
Henris and Jacques and Louises must have their sous for the comforts of
life, as well as the necessities, and such luxuries as tobacco and
drink must be considered; and if the money where with all this may be
bought is not produced by Marcelle or Hélène or Marie,
she will get a beating for her slothfulness or lack of skill, and will
be driven into the street with a hurting back to try again. And so
Henri, Jacques, or Louis basks in the sun, and smokes cigarettes with
never a care, except that of making his devoted little mistress perform
her duties, knowing well how to retain her affection by selfishness and
This night, however, all that was
forgotten. It was the one free, happy night of the week, the night of
abandon and the dance, of laughter, drinking and jollity, for which one
and all had longed for a whole impatient and dreary week; and Henri,
Jacques, and Louis could spend on drinks with other of their feminine
acquaintances the sous that their mistresses had provided. The band
played lustily; the lights shone; the room was filled with laughter,—
let the dance go on!
Stationed in different parts of the room were the big
soldiers of the Garde Municipale, in their picturesque uniform so
familiar to all the theatre-goers of Paris. They were here to preserve
order, for the dancers belong to an inflammable class, and a blaze may
spring up at any moment. Equally valuable as a repressing force was a
burly, thick-necked, powerful man who strolled hither and thither, his
glance everywhere and always veiling a threat. He wore a large badge
that proclaimed him the master of ceremonies. True, he was that, which
was something, but he was a great deal more,— a most astonishingly
prompt and capable bouncer. The male frequenters of the place were
evidently in mortal terror of him, for his commanding size and
threatening manner, and his superbly developed muscles, contrasted
strikingly with the cringing manner and weak bodies of Henri and his
kind; and should he look their way with a momentary steadiness of
glance and poise of figure, their conversation would instantly cease,
and they would slink away.
We seated ourselves at a vacant table
that commanded a sweeping view of the floor and the promenade. A
seedy-looking garçon worked his way through the crowd and took
our order for beer; and mean, stale beer it was. But we did not care
for that. Bishop was all afire with enjoyment of the scene, for, he
protested, the place was infinitely rich in types and character,— the
identical types that the great Steinlen loves to draw. And here is an
interesting thing: the girls all were of that chic and petite order so
peculiar to certain classes of Parisian women, some hardly so high as
Bishop's shoulder, which is itself not very high; and though they
looked so small, they were fully developed young women, though many of
them were under twenty. They wore no hats, and for the most part,
unlike their gorgeous sisters of the boulevard cafés, they were
dressed plainly, wearing black or colored waists and skirts. But ah !—
and here the unapproachable instinct skill of the French-woman shows
itself,— on these same waists and skirts were placed here and there,
but always just where they ought to be, bows and ribbons; and it was they that worked the miracle of
grace and style. And the girls had a certain beauty, a beauty peculiar
to their class,— not exactly beauty, but pleasing features, healthy
color, and, best of all and explaining all, an archness of expression,
a touch of sauciness, that did for their faces what the bows and
ribbons did for their gowns.
Near us a large door opened into the
garden of the Moulin; it was filled with trees and benches and tables,
and amidst the dark foliage glowed colored Chinese lanterns, which
sifted a soft light upon the revellers assembled beneath them in the
cool evening air. On one side of the garden stretched Paris far down
and away, and on the other side blazed the Moulin de la Galette through
A waltz was now being danced. Strange to
say, it was the one dismal feature of the evening, and that was because
the French do not know how to dance it, " reversing" being unknown. And
there was an odd variety of ways in which the men held their partners
and the dancers each other. Some grasped each other tightly about the
waist with both arms, or similarly about the necks or shoulders, and
looked straight into each other's face without a smile or an occasional
word. It was all done in deadly earnest, as a serious work. It was in
the quadrille that the fun came, when the girls varied the usual order
by pointing their toes toward the chandeliers with a swish of white
skirts that made the bystanders cry, "Encore, Marcelle!" The men,
yearning for a share of the applause, cut up all sorts of antics and
capers, using their arms and legs with incredible agility, making
grotesque faces, and wearing hideous false noses and piratical
Securing a partner for a dance was the easiest thing possible. Any girl
was eligible,— simply the asking, the assent, and away they went.
Bishop's pencil kept
moving rapidly as he caught fleeting notes of faces, dresses,
attitudes— everything— for his unfinished piece at the studio. A number
of promenaders, attracted by his sketching, stopped to watch him. That
dance was now finished, and the dancers separated wherever they
stopped, and turned away to seek their separate friends; there was no
waste of time in escorting the girls to seats, for that is not
fashionable at Montmartre. The girls came flocking about Bishop,
curious over his work, and completely shut out his view. "Oh !"
exclaimed one saucy petite blonde, "let me see my portrait! I saw you
sketching me during the dance." "Et moi,— moi aussi!" cried the
others, until Bishop, overwhelmed, surrendered his book for the
inspection of bright, eager eyes.
not monsieur a cigarette?" archly asked a girl with a decided nez
retroussé. "Oui," I answered, handing her a packet, from which
exquisite, unconscious daintiness she selected one. The whole bevy then
made a similar request, and we were soon enveloped in a blue haze.
ferez mon portrait, n'est-ce-pas?" begged a dark-eyed beauty of
Bishop, in a smooth, pleasant voice. She had a striking appearance. A
rebellious black hair strove persistently to fall over her oval face,
and when she would neglect to push it back her eyes, dark and
melancholy, shone through its tangle with a singular wild lustre. Her
skin was dark, almost swarthy, but it was touched with a fine rosy
glow of health and youth. Her features were perfect; the nose was
slightly romanesque, the chin firm, the lips red and sensuous. When she
drew our attention with her request she was standing before us in a
rigid, half-defiant, half-commanding posture; but when she quickly
added, "I will pose for you,— see?" and sat down beside me, opposite
Bishop, her striking native grace asserted itself, for from a statue of
bronze she suddenly became all warmth and softness, every line in her
perfect, lithe figure showing her eagerness, and eloquent with coaxing.
clear that Bishop was deeply impressed by the striking picture that she
made; it was her beautiful wild head that fascinated him most.
am first," insisted a little vixen, hardfeatured and determined.
"Jamais de la vie!" "C'est moi!" protested others, with such fire that
I feared there would be trouble. The turmoil had the effect of
withdrawing Bishop's attention momentarily from the beautiful tigress
beside me. He smiled in bewilderment. He would be happy to draw them
all, but —— At last he
pacified them by proposing to take them in turn,
provided they would be patient and not bother him. To this they
poutingly agreed; and Bishop, paying no more attention to
the girl beside me, rapidly dashed off sketch after sketch of the other
girls. Exclamations of surprise, delight, or indignation greeted each
of the portraits as it was passed round. Bishop was seeking
"character," and as he was to retain the portraits, he made no efforts
this time the dark-eyed one had sat in perfect silence and stillness
beside me, watching Bishop in wonder. She had forgotten her hair, and
was gazing through it with more than her eyes as his pencil worked
rapidly. I studied her as well as I could as she sat all heedless of my
existence. Her lips slightly curved at the corners into a faint
suggestion of a smile, but as Bishop's work kept on and the other girls
monopolized him, the lips gradually hardened. The shadow of her chin
fell upon her smooth throat, not darkening it too much for me to
observe that significant movements within it indicated a struggle with
her self-control. Bishop was now sketching a girl, the others having
run off to dance; they would return in their order. The girl beside me
said to me, in a low voice, without looking at me,—
"Monsieur est Anglais?"
your friend?" nodding toward Bishop.
"Is he ——" but she
suddenly checked herself with odd abruptness, and
then quickly asked, with a shallow pretence of eager interest, "Is
from Paris?" And so she continued to quiz me rather vacantly
concerning a great country of whose whereabouts she had not the
slightest idea. Then she was silent, and I imagined that she was
gathering herself for some supreme effort. Suddenly she turned her
marvellous eyes full toward me, swept the wild hair from her face,
looked almost fiercely at me a moment, and, rigid from head to foot,
asked, half angrily, and then held her breath for the answer,—
a moment to consider the wisdom of lying.
She sank back into her
chair with a deep breath, all softness and grace again, and her wild
hair fell back over her face.
She had lost all interest
in the ball. While her companions were enjoying themselves in the
dance, she sat motionless and silent beside me, watching Bishop. An
uncomfortable feeling had taken possession of me. Presently I abruptly
asked her why she did not dance.
She started. "Dance ?"
she replied. She looked over the hall, and an expression of scorn and
disgust came into her face. "Not with that espèce de voyous,"
vehemently added; and then she turned to watch Bishop again.
noticed for the first time that a group of the human vampires, standing
apart at a little distance, were watching us closely and talking in low
among themselves. My attention had been drawn to them by a defiant look
that the girl had shot at them. One of them was particularly repulsive.
He was rather larger and stronger than the others. His garb was that of
his species,— tight trousers, a négligé shirt, and a
rakish cap being
its distinguishing articles. He stood with his hands in his pockets and
his head thrust forward. He had the low, brutal face of his kind. It
was now pale with rage.
the girl what her name was.
Her other name ?
Oh, just Hélène.
Sometimes it was Hélène Crespin, for Crespin was her
lover's name. All
this with perfect frankness.
"Where is he?" I asked.
"C'est lui avec la
casquette," she answered, indicating the brute whom I had just
described, but I had expected that. " I hate him now!" she vehemently
No, she had neither
father nor mother; had no recollection of parents. Sometimes she worked
in a printing shop in the Rue Victor Massé when extra hands were
the girl who had been posing was dismissed another took her place;
then another, and another, and others; and still others were waiting.
The girl beside me had been watching these proceedings with increasing
impatience. Some of the girls were so delighted that they threw their
arms round Bishop's neck and kissed him. Others called him endearing
names. At last it was evident that the dark girl could bear it no
longer. She had been growing harder and harder, more and more restless.
I continued to watch her narrowly,— she had forgotten my existence.
Gradually the natural rich color in her cheeks deepened, her eyes
blazed through the tangled hair, her lips were set. Suddenly, after a
girl had been more demonstrative than the others, she rose and
confronted Bishop. All this time he had not even looked at her, and
that, while making me uneasy, had made her furious.
We three were alone. True, we were observed by many, for invasions by
foreigners were very rare at the Moulin de la Galette, and we were
objects of interest on that account; and the sketching by Bishop had
sent our fame throughout the hall.
In a low, quiet voice the
girl said to Bishop, as he looked up at her wonderingly,—
"You promised to draw mine
I had never seen my friend
more embarrassed than he was at that moment. He stumbled over his
excuses, and then asked her to pose to suit her fancy. He did it very
gently, and the effect was magical. She sank into her chair and assumed
the indolently graceful pose that she had unconsciously taken when she
first seated herself. Bishop gazed at her in silence a long time before
he began the sketch; and then he worked with a sure and rapid hand.
After it was finished he handed it to her. Instantly she was
transfigured. She stared at the picture in wonder and delight, her lips
her chest hardly moving from her nearly suppressed breathing.
"Do I look like that?" she asked, suspiciously.
Indeed, it was an exquisite little piece of work, for Bishop had
idealized the girl and made a beautiful portrait.
"Did you not see me draw it while looking
at you ?" he replied, somewhat disingenuously.
"Will you give it to me?" she
"And will you sign your name to it?"
Bishop cheerfully complied.
Then she took it, kissed it, and pressed it to her bosom; and then,
leaning forward, and speaking with a richness and depth of voice that
she had not betrayed before, and in the deepest earnestness, said,—
"Je vous aime!"
Bishop, staggered by this forthright
declaration of affection, blushed violently and looked very foolish.
But he rallied and assured her that her love was reciprocated, for who,
he asked, could resist so beautiful a face, so warm a heart? If he had
only known, if I could only have told him! The girl sank back in her
chair with a quizzical, doubting smile that showed perfect white teeth
and changed to bright dimples the suggestion of a smile that fluttered
at her mouth corners. She carefully folded the sketch and daintily
tucked it away in her bosom.
Bishop had now quit work,—
Hélène had seen to that. She had moved her chair close to
his, and, looking him straight in the eyes, was rattling away
in the untranslatable argot of Montmartre. It is not the argot of the
shims, nor that of the thieves, nor that of the students, but that of
Montmartre; and there are no ways of expressing it intelligibly in
English. Presently she became more serious, and with all the coaxing
and pleading of which her ardent, impetuous nature was capable, she
"Let me be your model. Je suis bien
faite, and you can teach me to pose. You will be kind to me. I have a
good figure. I will do everything, everything for you! I will take care
of the studio. I will cook, I will bring you everything, everything you
want. You will let me live with you. I will love no one else. You will
never be sorry nor ashamed. If you will only—— " That is the best translation I can give;
it is certainly what she meant, though it indicates nothing of the
impetuosity, the abandon, the eagerness, the warmth, the savage beauty
that shone from her as she spoke.
Bishop rose to the occasion. He sprang
to his feet. "I must dance after that!" he exclaimed, catching her up,
laughing, and dragging her upon the floor. He could dance superbly. A
waltz was being played, and it was being danced in the stiff and stupid
way of the people. Very soon Bishop and Hélène began to
attract general attention, for never before had Montmartre seen a waltz
danced like that. He reversed, and glided, and threw into the queen of
dances all the grace and freedom that it demands. At first
Hélène was puzzled and bewildered; but she was agile both
of mind and body,
and under Bishop's sure guidance she put them to excellent use. Rapidly
she caught the grace and spirit of the waltz, and danced with a verve
that she had never known before. Swiftly and gracefully they skimmed
the length of the great hall, then back, and wherever they went the
dancers watched them with astonishment and delight, and gradually
abandoned their own ungraceful efforts, partly in shame, partly in
admiration and partly with a desire to learn how the miracle was done.
Gradually the floor was wholly abandoned except for these two, and all
eyes watched them. Hélène
was happy and radiant beyond all ways of telling. Her cheeks were
flushed, her eyes sparkled, her lithe figure developed all the ease,
grace and suppleness of a cat.
Some muttered expressions of contempt
spoken near me caused me to listen without turning round. They were
meant for my ears, but I gave no heed. I knew well enough from whom
they came,— Crespin and his friends. And I realized that we were in for
it. True, there were the big guards and there was the capable bouncer,
and they would glance my way now and then, seemingly to let Crespin
know that all was understood and that it must be hands off with him.
There was no danger here, but afterwards——
Bishop handled it adroitly. He conducted
Hélène to a seat remote from our table, bowed low, and
left her, and came over to me. I told him of my fears,
but he laughed. He had got rid of Hélène with perfect address, and perhaps she was nursing
an angry and aching heart after her glorious triumph; perhaps Bishop
had whispered to her something of the danger and suggested that they
have nothing more to do with each other that evening. Presently I saw
her start and look round. Crespin was behind her, livid with rage. She
promptly rose and followed him into the garden. Bishop had not seen the
movement. We were near the door leading into the garden, and by turning
a little I could see the couple outside, not far away. Crespin was
standing with a bullying air, and was evidently cursing her. She had
tossed back her hair and was looking him defiantly in the face.
I saw her lips move in speech. Instantly the ruffian dealt her a
violent blow upon the chest, and she staggered back against a tree,
which prevented her falling.
"Come, let us stop that," I said to Bishop.
"Hélène's lover is beating her in the garden." Bishop
sprang to his feet and followed me. As he glanced out the window at the
couple, whom I pointed out, he saw
Crespin approach the dazed girl and deal her a terrible blow in the
mouth, and he saw the blood that followed the blow.
in the garden as a crowd was gathering. Bishop pushed his way ahead and
was about to spring upon the brute, when Hélène saw him.
With a supreme
effort she leaped forward, thrust Bishop aside with a command to mind
his own affairs, threw herself into her lover's arms, and kissed him,
smearing his face with her blood. He glared at us, triumphant. The
guards arrived, and Hélène and her lover disappeared
among the trees in
another unfaithful cocotte!" laughed one in the crowd, explaining to
the guards; and they returned to their drinking and dancing,
remarking, "Beat a woman, and she will love you."
They had all
heroism and devotion of Hélène's interference. It was to
keep a knife
out of the body of the man she loved that she smeared her lover's face
with her blood. We saw her no more.
to the hall
and strolled round the promenade, for we needed that to become calm
again. And the girls mobbed Bishop, for he had passed out the word that
he wanted a model, and that he would pay a franc an hour. A franc an
hour! And so they mobbed him. Was not that more than they could hope to
earn by a whole day's hard work? Yes, they would all pose gladly, but
only in costume, bien entendu! So Bishop was busy
taking down the names of Marcelle, Lorette, Elise, Marie and the rest,
with the names of the unusual and unheard-of streets in which they
mostly in the quarters of Montmartre and the Batignolles.
raging on the floor, and the tired garçons were dodging about
their glass laden trays. Dancing, making love, throwing lumps of sugar,
the revellers enjoyed themselves.
We left. The
gaunt shadows across the streets from the old windmills and the trees.
We struck out briskly, intending to catch the last St.-Jacques bus
home, and with that purpose we threaded the maze of steep passages and
streets on our way to the Rue Muller. Upon reaching the top of the
hill, behind the great skeleton of the Sacred Heart, where all was
silent and still as the grave, we suddenly discovered the shadowy
figures of men slipping out from a dark little street. We knew what it
meant. With a common impulse we sprang forward, for it was now a run
for our lives. I had recognized Crespin in the lead. With headlong
speed we dashed down the steep incline, swinging our canes to check an
attack in the rear. We had dodged out of our proper way to the Rue
Muller, and now it was a matter of speed, endurance and luck to reach
blindly some street where life and protection might be found.
clutched my coat. I beat him off with my stick, but the skirt of my
coat was hanging loose, nearly ripped off. A cord went whizzing past me
and caught Bishop's hat, but he went sturdily on
bareheaded. Stones flew past us, and presently one caught me a
terrific, sickening blow in the back. I did not fall, but I staggered
in my flight, for a strange heaviness came into my legs, and my head
soon began to ache violently.
Crespin was desperately
active. I could hear him panting heavily as he gained upon us. His long
shadow, cast by the moon, showed that he was about to spring upon
Bishop. I swung my cane blindly, but with all my might, and it fell
upon his head and laid him low; but he quickly scrambled to his feet
again. The ruffians were now upon us,— they were better used to the
"Separate!" gasped Bishop. "It is our
only chance." At the next corner
we suddenly swung apart, taking opposite directions. I plunged on
alone, glad to hear for a time that footfalls were following,— they
meant that the pursuit had not concentrated on Bishop. But after a
while I realized that I was no longer pursued. I stopped and listened.
There was no sound. Weak and trembling, with an aching back and a
splitting head, I sat down in a door-way and rested. That luxury was
quickly interrupted by my reflecting that possibly Bishop had been
overtaken; and I knew what that would mean. I ran back up the hill as
rapidly as my weakness and trembling and pain permitted. At last I
found myself at the corner where we had separated. There was no sound
from any direction. I could only hope for the best and search and
listen blindly through this puzzle of streets and passages.
Presently I realized that
I was near the fortifications of Paris, close to St. Ouen,— that is to
say, at the other end of Paris from the Ouartier Latin, which was eight
miles away. There was nothing to do but walk home. It was nearly four
o'clock when I arrived. And there was Bishop in bed, nursing a big lump
on his head, made by a flying stone. He had reached a street where a
gendarme was, and that meant safety; and then he had taken a cab for
home, where he was looking very ridiculous poulticing his lump and
making himself sick fretting about me.
end of a recent
December Bishop received a note signed "A. Herbert Thompkins," written
at the Hotel de 1'Athenee. saying that the writer was in Paris for four
days with his wife before proceeding to Vienna to join some friends. It
closed by asking, " Could you call at the hotel this evening, say at
This note created great
excitement at our studio early one morning, the facteur having climbed
six flights of stairs (it being near to New Year) to deliver it; for
Mr. Thompkins was one of Bishop's warmest friends in America. His
unexpected arrival in Paris at this unseasonable time of the year was
indeed a surprise, but a most agreeable one. So Bishop spent the whole
of the afternoon in creasing his best trousers, ransacking our trunks
for a clean collar to wear with my blue-fronted shirt, polishing his
top-hat, and getting his Velasquez whiskers trimmed and perfumed at the
coiffeur's. It was not every day that friends of Mr. Thompkins's type
made their appearance in Paris.
Bishop, after hours spent in absorbing mental
work, at last disclosed his plan to me. Of course he
would not permit me to keep out of the party, and
besides, he needed my advice. Here was Mr.
in Paris, and unless
he were wisely guided he would leave without seeing the city,— except
those parts and phases of it that tourists cannot keep from stumbling
over. It would be both a duty
and a pleasure to introduce him to certain things of which he might
otherwise die in ignorance, to the eternal undevelopment of his soul.
But here was the rub: Would Mr. Thompkins care to be so radically
different here for one night— just one night — from what he was at
home? I could not see how any harm could come to Mr. Thompkins or any
one else with sense, nor how Bishop could possibly entertain him in any
way that would be disagreeable to a man of brains. But Bishop was
evidendy keeping something back. For that matter, he never did explain
it, and I have not bothered about inferences. What Mr. Thompkins was at
home I do not know. True, he was very much confused and embarrassed a
number of times during the evening, but one thing I know,— he enjoyed
himself immensely. And that makes me say that no matter what he was at
home, he was a gentleman and philosopher while exploring an outlandish
phase of Parisian Bohemian life that night under our guidance. He had a
prim, precise way of talking, and was delightfully innocent and
unworldly. My! It would have been a sin for him to miss what he saw
that night. So I told Bishop very emphatically that no matter what Mr.
Thompkins was at home, nobody who knew him was likely to see him in
Paris at that time of the year, and that it was Bishop's duty as a
friend to initiate him. Bishop was very happy over my advice; but when
he insisted that we should take a cab for the evening's outing, I
sternly reminded him of the bruises that our funds would receive on New
Year's, and thus curbed his extravagance. He surrendered with a pang, for after all his
preparation he felt like a duke, and for that night, while entertaining
his friend, he wanted to be a duke, not a grubbing student.
We met Mr. Thompkins at the hotel, and
I found him a delightful man, with a pleasant sparkle of the eye and a
certain stiffness of bearing. It was his intention to have us dine with
him, but Bishop gently took him in hand, and gradually gave him to
understand that on this night in a lifetime he was in the hands of his
friends, to do as they said, and to ask no questions. Mr. Thompkins
looked a little puzzled, a little apprehensive, and withal not
unwilling to be sacrificed.
The first thing we did was to introduce Mr. Thompkins to a
quiet restaurant famous for its coquilles St.-Jacques; it is in the old
Palais Royal. This is the dinner that Bishop ordered:
Macaroni à la
Filet de bœuf
Crême petit Suisse
Thompkins's enjoyment of the meal was as generous as his praise of
Bishop's skill in ordering it, and he declared that the wines
particularly were a
rare treat. By the time that dinner had been finished he was
enthusiastic about Paris. He said that it was a wonderful city, and
that he was entirely at our disposal for the night.
suppose, gentlemen," he suggested, "that you are going to invite me to
the opera. Now, I have no objections to that, and I am sure I shall be
delighted,— it is only one evening in a lifetime, perhaps. But I shall
insist that you go as my guests."
laughed merrily, and slapped his friend on the back in a way that I
never should have employed with a man of so much dignity.
old man!" cried Bishop. "Why, you blessed idiot, you act
like a tourist! The opera! You can go there any time. Tonight we shall
see Paris!" and he laughed again. "The opera!" he repeated. "Oh, my!
You can fall over the opera whenever you please. This is an opportunity
for a tour of discovery."
Thompkins laughed with equal heartiness, and declared that nothing
would delight him more than to be an explorer — for one night in a
"The Boul' Mich' or Montmartre?'' Bishop
whispered to me.
"Montmartre," I replied; "Heaven, Death, Hell, and Bruant."
had the Avenue de 1'Opéra appeared so brilliant and lively as on
that cold, crisp December night, as we strolled towards the boulevards.
Its thousands of lights, its dashing equipages with the jingling
harness of horses drawing handsome women
and men to the Opéra, its swiftly moving cabs and heavy buses
rolling over the smooth wooden pavement, the shouts of drivers and the
cracking of whips, the throngs of gay people enjoying the holiday
attractions, the endless rows of gaudy booths lining the street, the
flood of light and color everywhere, the cuirassiers of the Garde
Municipale mounted on superb horses standing motionless in the Place de
1'Opéra, their long boots and steel breastplates and helmets
glistening,— these all had their place,— while the broad stairs of the
Opéra were crowded with beautifully gowned women and fashionable
men pouring in to hear Sibyl Sanderson sing in "Samson and Delilah,"—
all this made a wonderful picture of life and beauty, of color, motion,
vivacity and enjoyment. Above the entrance to the Opéra red
marble columns reflected the yellow light of the gilded foyer and of
the yellow blaze from the Café de la Paix across the way.
We mounted a Montmartre bus and were
pulled up the hill to the Boul' Clichy, the main artery of that strange
Bohemian mountain with its eccentric, fantastic and morbid attractions.
Before us, in the Place Blanche, stood the great Moulin Rouge, the long
skeleton arms of the Red Mill marked with red electric lights and
slowly sweeping across the heavens, while fanciful figures of students
and dancing girls looked out the windows of the mill, and a great crowd
of lively, chatting, laughing people were pushing their way toward the
entrance of this famous dance-hall of Paris. Mr. Thompkins, entranced
before the brilliant spectacle, asked somewhat hesitatingly if we might
enter; but Bishop, wise in the ways of Montmartre, replied,—
"Not yet. It is only a little after nine,
and the Moulin does not get wide awake for some hours yet. We have no
time to waste while waiting for that. We shall first visit heaven."
Mr. Thompkins looked surprised, but made
no response. Presently we reached the gilded gates of Le Cabaret du
Ciel. They were bathed in a cold blue light from above. Angels,
gold-lined clouds, saints, sacred palms and plants, and other
paraphernalia suggestive of the approach to St. Peter's domain, filled
all the available space about the entrée. A bold white placard,
"Bock, I Franc," was displayed in the midst of it all. Dolorous church
music sounded within, and the heavens were unrolled as a scroll in all
their tinsel splendor as we entered to the bidding of an angel.
Flitting about the room were many more angels, all in
white robes and with sandals on their feet, and all wearing gauzy wings
swaying from their shoulder blades and brass halos above their yellow
wigs. These were the waiters, the garçons of heaven, ready to
take orders for drinks. One of these, with the face of a heavy villain
in a melodrama and a beard a week old, roared unmelodiously,—
"The greetings of heaven 'to thee, brothers! Eternal bliss
and happiness are for thee. May'st thou never swerve from its golden
thou its sacred purity and renovating exaltation. Prepare to meet thy
great Creator — and don't forget the garçon!"
seated at it, drinking, were scores of candidates for
angelship, — mortals like ourselves. Men and women were they, and
though noisy and vivacious, they indulged in nothing like the abandon
of the Boul' Mich' cafés. Gilded vases and candelabra, together
with foamy bocks, somewhat relieved the dead whiteness of the table.
The ceiling was an impressionistic rendering of blue sky, fleecy
clouds, and golden stars, and the walls were made to represent the
noble enclosure and golden gates of paradise.
"Brothers, your orders! Command me, thy servant!" growled
a ferocious angel at our elbows, with his accent de la Villette, and
his brass halo a trifle askew.
Mr. Thornpkins had been very quiet,
for he was Wonder in the flesh, and perhaps there was some distress in
his face, but there was courage also. The suddenness of the angel's
assault visibly disconcerted him,— he did not know what to order.
Finally he decided on a verre de Chartreuse, green. Bishop and I
"Two sparkling draughts of heaven's
own brew and one star-dazzler!" yelled our angel.
"Thy will be done," came the
response from a hidden bar.
Obscured by great masses of clouds,
through whose intervals shone golden stars, an organ continually rumbled sacred music, which had a
depressing rather than a solemn effect, and even the draughts of
heaven's own brew and the star-dazzler failed to dissipate the gloom.
Suddenly, without the slightest warning,
the head of St. Peter, whiskers and all, appeared in a hole in the sky,
and presently all of him emerged, even to his ponderous keys clanging
at his girdle. He gazed solemnly down upon the crowd at the tables and
thoughtfully scratched his left wing. From behind a dark cloud he
brought forth a vessel of white crockery (which was not a wash-bowl)
containing (ostensibly) holy water. After several mysterious signs and
passes with his bony hands he generously sprinkled the sinners below
with a brush dipped in the water; and then, with a parting blessing, he
slowly faded into mist.
"Did you ever? Well, well, I declare!"
exclaimed Mr. Thompkins, breathlessly.
The royal cortège of the kingdom
of heaven was now forming at one end of the room before a shrine,
whereon an immense golden pig sat sedately on his haunches, looking
friendly and jovial, his loose skin and fat jowls hanging in folds.
Lighted candles sputtered about his golden sides. As the participants
in the pageant, all attachés of the place, formed for the
procession, each bowed reverently and crossed himself before the huge
porker. A small man, dressed in a loose black gown and black
skull-cap, evidently made up for Dante, whom he resembled,
officiated as master of ceremonies. He
golden pulpit and delivered, in a loud, rasping voice, a
tedious discourse on heaven and allied things. He dwelt on the
attractions of heaven as a perpetual summer resort, an unbroken round
of pleasures in variety, where sweet strains of angelic music
(indicating the wheezy organ) together with unlimited stores of
heaven's own sparkling fire of life, at a franc a bock and beautiful
golden-haired cherubs, of la Villette's finest, lent grace and
perfection to the scheme.
The parade then began its tour about the room. Dante,
staff surmounted by a golden bull, serving as a drum-major. Angel
musicians playing upon sacred lyres and harps, followed in his wake,
but the dolorous organ made the more noise. Behind the lyre angels came
a number of the notables whom Dante immortalized.—
at least we judged
that they were so intended. The angel carçons closed the
gauzy wings and brass halos bobbing in a stately fashion as they strode
The angel garçons now sauntered up and gave us each
admitting us to the angel room and the other delights of the inner
"You are Eengleesh?" he asked.
"Yes?" Ah, theece Eengleesh arre
verra genereauz," eyeing his fifty-centime tip with a questioning
shrug. "Can you not make me un franc" Ah, eet ees dam cold in theece
laigs," pointing to his calves which were encased in diaphanous pink
tights. He got his franc.
Dante announced in his
rasping voice that those mortals wishing to
become angels whould proceed up to the angel-room. All advanced and
ascended the inclined passage-way leading into the blue. At the farther
end of the passage sat old St. Peter, solemn and shivering, for it was
draughty there anong the clouds. He collected our tickets, gave the
password admitting us to the inner precincts, and resented Bishop's
attempts to pluck a feather from his wings. We entered a large room,
all a glamour of gold and silver. The walls were studded with blazing
nuggets, colored canvas rocks, and electric lights. We took seats on
wooden benches fronting a cleft in the rocks, and waited.
Soon the chamber in which we sat became perfectly dark,
before us shining with a dim bluish light. The cleft then came to life
with a bevy of female angels floating through the limited ethereal
space, and smiling down upon us morals. One of the lady angel's tights
bagged at the knees, and another's wings were not on straight; but this
did not interfere with her flight, any more than did the stationary
position of the wings of all. But it was all very easily and gracefully
done, swooping down, soaring, and swinging in circles like so many
great eagles. They seemed to discover something of unusual interest in
Mr. Thompkins, for they singled him out top throw kisses at him. This
made him blush and fidget, but a word from Bishop him,—
it was only
once in a lifetime!
After these angels had gyrated for some
time, the head angel of the
angel-room requested those who desired to become angels to step
forward. A number responded, among them some of the naughty dancing
girls of the Moulin Rouge. They were conducted through a concealed
door, and presently we beheld them soaring in the empyrean just as
happy and serene as though they were used to being angels. It was a
marvel to see wings so frail transport with so much ease a very stout
young woman from the audience, and their being fully clothed did not
seem to make any difference.
Mr. Thompkins had sat in a singularly contemplative
mood after the
real angels had quit torturing him, and surprised us beyond measure by
promptly responsing to a second call for those aspiring to a second
call for those aspiring to angelhood. He disappeared with another batch
from the Moulin Rouge and soon afterwards we saw him floating like an
airship. He even wore his hat. To his disgust and chagrin, however, one
of the concert hall angels persisted in flying in front of him and
making violent love to him. This brought forth tumultuous applause and
laughter, which completed Mr. Thompkins' misery. At this juncture the
blue cleft became dark, the angel-room burst into light, and sooon Mr.
Thompkins rejoined us.
As we filed out into the passage Father
Time stood with long
whiskers and scythe, greeted us with profound bows, and promised that
his scythe would spare us for many happy years did we but drop sous
into his hour glass.
There was no conversation among us when we emerged upon
boulevard, for Mr. Thompkins was in a retrospective frame of mind.
Bishop embraced the opportunity to lead us up the Boulevard Clichy to
the Place Pigalle. As we neared the Place we saw on the opposiite side
of the street two flickering iron lanterns that threw a ghastly green
light down upon the barred dead-black shutters of the building, and
caught the faces of the passers-by with sickly rays that took out all
the life and transformed them into the semblance of corpses. Across the
top of the closed black entrance were large white letters, reading
CAFE DU NÈANT
The entrance was heavily draped with
black cerements, having white
trimmings,— such as hang before the houses of thedead in Paris. Here
patrolled a solitary croque-mort, or hired pall-bearer, his black cape
drawn closely about him, the green light reflected by his glazed
top-hat. A more dismal and forbidding place it would be difficult to
imagine. Mr. Thompkins paled a little when he discovered that this was
our destination,— this grisly caricature of eternal nothingness,— and
hesitated at the threshold. Without a word Bishop firmly took his arm
and entered. The lonely croque-mort drew apart the heavy curtain and
admitted us into a black hole that proved later to be a room. The
chamber was dimly lighted with wax tapers, and a large chandelier
intricately devised of human skulls and arms, with funeral candles held
in their fleshless fingers, gave its small quota of light.
Large, heavy, wooden
coffins, resting on biers, were ranged about the room in an order
suggesting the recent happening of a frightful catastrophe. The walls
were decorated with skulls and bones, skeletons in grotesque attitudes,
battle-pictures and guillotines in action. Death, carnage,
assassination were the dominant note, set in black hangings and
illuminated with mottoes on death. A half-dozen voices droned this in a
"Enter, mortals of this sinful world,
enter into the mists and shadows
of eternity. Select your biers, to the right, to the left; fit
yourselves comfortably to them, and repose in the solemnity and
tranquillity of death; and may God have mercy on your souls!"
number of persons who had preceded us had already pre-empted their
coffins, and were sitting beside them awaiting developments and
enjoying their consommations, using the coffins for their real
purpose,— tables for holding drinking glasses. Alongside the glasses
were slender tapers by which the visitors might see one another.
There seemed to be no
mechanical imperfection in the illusion of a charnel-house ; we
imagined that even chemistry had contributed its resources, lor there
seemed distinctly to be the odor appropriate to such a place. We found
a vacant coffin in the
vault, seated ourselves at it on
rush-bottomed stools, and awaited further developments.
Another croque-mort— a
garçon he was — came up through the gloom to take our orders. He
dressed completely in the professional garb of a hearse-follower,
including claw-hammer coat, full-dress front, glazed tile, and oval
silver badge. He droned,—
"Bon soir, Macchabées! (This
in the river.)
Buvez les crachats d'asthmatiqties, voilà
des sueurs froides d'agonisants. Prenez donc des certificats de
seulement vingt sous. C'est pas cher et c'est artistique!"
Bishop said that he would
be pleased with a lowly bock. Mr. Thompkins chose cherries àl'eau-de-vie,
microbe of Asiatic cholera from the last corpse, one leg of a lively
cancer, and one sample of our consumption germ!" moaned the creature
toward a black hole at the farther
end of the room. Some women among the
visitors tittered, others shuddered, and Mr. Thompkins broke out in a
cold sweat on his brow, while a curious accompaniment of anger shone in
his eyes. Our sleepy pallbearer soon loomed through the darkness with
our deadly microbes, and waked the echoes in the hollow casket upon
which he set the glasses with a thump.
"Drink, Macchabées !" he
wailed: "drink these noxious potions, which contain the vilest and
villain!" gasped Mr. Thompkins; " It is horrible, disgusting, filthy!"
The tapers flickered
feebly on the coffins, and the white skulls grinned at him mockingly
from their sable background. Bishop exhausted all his tactics in trying
to induce Mr. Thompkins to taste his brandied cherries, but that
gentleman positively refused, — he seemed unable to banish the idea
they were laden with disease germs.
we had been seated here for some time, getting no consolation from the
utter absence of spirit and levity among the other guests, and enjoying
only the dismay and trepidation of new and strange arrivals, a rather
good-looking young fellow, dressed in a black clerical coat, came
through a dark door and began to address the assembled patrons. His
voice was smooth, his manner solemn and impressive, as he delivered a
well-worded discourse on death. He spoke of it as the gate through
which we must all make our exit from this world,— of the gloom, the
loneliness, the utter sense of helplessness and desolation. As he
warmed to his subject he enlarged upon the follies that hasten the
advent of death, and spoke of the relentless certainty and the
incredible variety of ways in which the reaper claims his victims. Then
he passed on to the terrors of actual dissolution, the tortures of the
body, the rending of the soul, the unimaginable agonies that
rendered acutely susceptible at this extremity are called upon to
endure. It required good nerves to listen to that, for the man was
perfect in his role. From matters of individual interest in death he
passed to death in its larger aspects. He pointed to a large and
striking battle scene, in which the combatants had come to hand-to-hand
fighting, and were butchering one another in a mad lust for blood.
Suddenly the picture began to glow, the light bringing out its ghastly
details with hideous distinctness. Then as suddenly it faded away, and
where fighting men had been there were skeletons writhing and
struggling in a deadly embrace.
similar effect was produced with a painting giving a wonderfully
realistic representation of an execution by the guillotine. The
bleeding trunk of the victim lying upon the flap-board dissolved, the
flesh slowly disappearing, leaving only the white bones. Another
picture, representing a brilliant dance-hall filled with happy
revellers, slowly merged into a grotesque dance of skeletons; and thus
it was with the other pictures about the room.
this being done, the master of ceremonies, in lugubrious tones, invited
us to enter the chambre de la mort. All the visitors rose, and, each
bearing taper, passed in single file into a narrow, dark passage
illuminated with sickly green lights, the young man in clerical garb
acting as pilot. The cross effects of green and yellow lights on the
faces of the groping procession were more startling than picturesque.
The way was lined with bones, skulls and fragments of human bodies.
"O Macchabées, nous sommes devant la torte de la chambre
de la mort!" wailed an unearthly voice from the farther end of the
passage as we advanced. Then before us appeared a solitary figure
beneath a green lamp. The figure was completely shrouded in black, only
the eyes being visible, and they shone through holes in the pointed
cowl. From the folds of the gown it brought forth a massive iron key
attached to a chain, and, approaching a door seemingly made of iron and
heavily studded with spikes and crossed with bars, inserted and turned
the key; the bolts moved with a harsh, grating noise, and the door of
the chamber of. death swung slowly open.
Macchabées, enter into eternity, whence none ever return !"
cried the new, strange voice.
The walls of the room were a dead and
unrelieved black. At one side two tall candles were burning, but their
feeble light was insufficient even to disclose the presence of the
black walls of the chamber or indicate that anything but unending
blackness extended heavenward. There was not a thing to catch and
reflect a single ray of the light and thus become visible in the
Between the two candles was an upright opening in the wall; it was of
the shape of a coffin. We were seated upon rows of small black caskets
resting on the floor in front of the candles. There was hardly a
whisper among the visitors. The black-hooded figure passed silently out
of view and vanished in the darkness.
Presently a pale, greenish-white illumination began to light up the
coffin-shaped hole in the wall, clearly marking its outline against the
black. Within this space there stood a coffin upright, in which a pretty
young woman, robed in a white shroud, fitted snugly. Soon it was
evident that she was very much alive, for she smiled and looked at us
saucily. But that was not for long. From the depths came a dismal wail:
"O Macchabée, beautiful, breathing mortal, pulsating with the
warmth and richness of life, thou art now in the grasp of death!
Compose thy soul for the end!"
Her face slowly became white and rigid; her eyes sank; her lips
tightened across her teeth; her cheeks took on the hollowness of
death,— she was dead. But it did not end with that. From white the face
slowly grew livid . . . then purplish black. . . . The eyes visibly
shrank into their greenish-yellow sockets. . . . Slowly the hair fell
away. . . . The nose melted away into a purple putrid spot. The whole
face became a semi-liquid mass of corruption. Presently all this had
disappeared, and a gleaming skull shone where so recently had been the
handsome face of a woman; naked teeth grinned inanely and savagely
where rosy lips had so recently smiled. Even the shroud had gradually
disappeared, and an entire skeleton stood revealed in the coffin.
The wail again rang through the silent vault:
"Ah, ah, Macchabée! Thou hast reached the last stage of
dissolution, so dreadful to mortals. The work that follows death is
complete. But despair not, for death is not the end of all. The power
is given to those who merit it, not only to return to life, but to
return in any form and station preferred to the old. So return if thou
deservedst and desirest."
With a slowness equal to
that of the dissolution, the bones became covered with flesh and
cerements, and all the ghastly steps were reproduced in reverse.
Gradually the sparkle of the eyes began to shine through the gloom;
but when the reformation was completed, behold! There was no longer
the handsome and smiling young woman, but the sleek, rotund body, ruddy
cheeks and self-conscious look of a banker. It was not until this
touch of comedy relieved the strain that the rigidity with which Mr.
Thompkins had sat between us began to relax, and a smile played over
his face,— a bewildered, but none the less a pleasant smile. The
prosperous banker stepped forth, sleek and tangible, and haughtily
strode away before our eyes, passing through the audience into the
darkness. Again was the coffin-shaped hole in the wall dark and empty.
the black gown and pointed hood now emerged through an invisible door
and asked if there was any one in the audience who desired to pass
through the experience that they had just witnessed. This created a
suppressed commotion; each peered into the face of his neighbor to
find one with courage sufficient for the ordeal. Bishop suggested to
Mr. Thompkins in a whisper that he submit himself, but that gentleman
very peremptorily declined. Then, after a pause, Bishop stepped forth
and announced that he was prepared to die. He was asked solemnly by the
doleful person if he was ready to accept all the consequences of his
decision. He replied that he was. Then he disappeared
through the black wall, and presently appeared in the greenish-white
light of the open coffin. There he composed himself as he imagined a
corpse ought, crossed his hands upon his breast, suffered the white
shroud to be drawn about him, and awaited results, — after he had made
rueful grimace that threw the first gleam of suppressed merriment
through the oppressed audience. He passed through all the ghastly
stages that the former occupant of the coffin had experienced, and
returned in proper person to life and to his seat beside Mr. Thompkins,
the audience applauding softly.
mysterious figure in black waylaid the crowd as it filed out. He held
an inverted skull, into which we were expected to drop sous through the
natural opening there, and it was with the feeling of relief from a
heavy weight that we departed and turned our backs on the green lights
at the entrance.
contrast! Here we were in the free, wide, noisy, brilliant world again.
Here again were the crowds, the venders, saucy grisettes with their
bright smiles, shining teeth and alluring glances. Here again were the
bustling cafés, the music, the lights, the life and above all
giant arms of the Moulin Rouge sweeping the sky.
Thompkins seemed too
weak, or unresisting, or apathetic to protest. His face betrayed a
queer mixture of emotions, part
suffering, part revulsion, part a sort of desperate eagerness for more.
large, hideous, fanged, open mouth in an enormous face from which shone
eyes of blazing crimson. Curiously enough, it adjoined heaven, whose
cool blue lights contrasted strikingly with the fierce ruddiness of
hell. Red-hot bars and gratings through which flaming coals gleamed
appeared in the walls within the red mouth. A placard announced that
should the temperature of this inferno make one thirsty, innumerable
bocks might be had at sixty-five centimes each. A little red imp
guarded the throat of the monster into whose mouth we had walked; he
was cutting extraordinary capers, and made a great show of stirring the
fires. The red imp opened the imitation heavy metal door for our
passage to the interior, crying,—
ah! Still they
come! Oh, how they will roast!" Then he looked keenly at Mr.
Thompkins. It was interesting to note how that gentleman was always
singled out by these shrewd students of humanity. This particular one
added with great gusto, as he narrowly studied Mr. Thompkins, "Hist! ye
infernal whelps; stir well the coals and heat red the prods, for this
is where we take our revenge on earthly saintliness!"
and be damned,— the Evil One awaits you!" growled a chorus of rough
voices as we hesitated before the scene confronting us.
Near us was suspended a
caldron over a fire, and hopping within it
were half a dozen devil musicians, male and female, playing a selection
from "Faust" on stringed instruments, while red imps stood by, prodding
with red-hot irons those who lagged in their performance.
Crevices in the walls of
this room ran with streams of molten gold and silver, and here and
there were caverns lit up by smouldering fires from which thick smoke
issued, and vapors emitting the odors of a volcano. Flames would
suddenly burst from clefts in the rocks, and thunder rolled through the
caverns. Red imps were everywhere, darting about noiselessly, some
carrying beverages for the thirsty lost souls, others stirring the
fires or turning somersaults. Everything was in a high state of motion.
Numerous red tables stood
against the fiery walls; at these sat the visitors. Mr. Thompkins
seated himself at one of them. Instantly it became aglow with a
mysterious light, which kept flaring up and disappearing in an erratic
fashion; flames darted from the walls, fires crackled and roared. One
of the imps came to take our order; it was for three coffees, black,
with cognac; and this is how he shrieked the order:
"Three seething bumpers
of molten sins, with a dash of brimstone intensifier!" Then, when he
had brought it, "This will season your intestines, and render them
invulnerable, for a time at least, to the tortures of the melted iron
that will be soon poured down your throats." The glasses glowed with a
phosphorescent light." Three francs seventy-five, please, not counting
Make it four francs.
Thank you well. Remember that though hell is hot, there are cold drinks
if you want them."
Presently Satan himself
strode into the cavern, gorgeous in his imperial robe of red, decked
with blazing jewels, and brandishing a sword from which fire flashed.
His black moustaches were waxed into sharp points, and turned rakishly
upward above lips upon which a sneering grin appeared. Thus he leered
at the new arrivals in his domain. His appearance lent new zest to the
activity of the imps and musicians, and all cowered under his glance.
Suddenly he burst into a shrieking laugh that gave one a creepy
feeling. It rattled through the cavern with a startling effect as he
strode up and down. It was a triumphant, cruel, merciless laugh. All at
once he paused in front of a demure young Parisienne seated at a table
with her escort, and, eying her keenly, broke into this speech:
"Ah. you! Why do you
tremble? How many men have you sent hither to damnation with those
beautiful eyes, those rosy, tempting lips? Ah, for all that, you have
found a sufficient hell on earth. But you," he added, turning fiercely
upon her escort, "you will have the finest, the most exquisite
tortures that await the damned. For what? For being a fool. It is folly
more than crime that hell punishes, for crime is a disease and folly a
sin. You fool! For thus hanging upon the witching glance and oily words
of a woman you have filled all hell with fuel for your roasting. You
will suffer such tortures as only the fool invites, such tortures only
as are adequate to punish folly. Prepare for
the inconceivable, the unimaginable, the things that even the king of
hell dare not mention lest the whole structure of damnation totter and
crumble to dust."
The man winced, and queer
wrinkles came into the corners of his mouth. Then Satan happened to
discover Mr. Thompkins, who shrank visibly under the scorching gaze.
Satan made a low, mocking bow.
"You do me great honor,
sir," he declared, unctuously. "You may have been expecting to avoid
me, but reflect upon what you would have missed! We have many notables
here, and you will have charming society. They do not include
pickpockets and thieves, nor any others of the weak, stunted, crippled,
and halting. You will find that most of your companions are
distinguished gentlemen of learning and ability, who, knowing their
duty, failed to perform it. You will be in excellent company, sir," he
concluded, with another low bow. Then, suddenly turning and sweeping
the room with a gesture, he commanded, "To the hot room, all of you !"
while he swung his sword, from which flashes of lightning trailed and
We were led to the end of
a passage, where a red hot iron door barred further progress.
oh, within there!" roared Satan. "Open the portal of the hot chamber,
that these fresh arrivals may be introduced to the real temperature of
numerous signals and mysterious passes the door swung open and we
entered. It was not so very hot after all. The chamber resembled the
other, except that a small stage occupied one end. A large green snake
crawled out upon this, and suddenly it was transformed into a red devil
with exceedingly long thin legs, encased in tights that were ripped in
places. He gave some wonderful contortion feats. A poor little Pierrot
came on and assisted the red devil in black art performances. By this
time we discovered that in spite of the half-molten condition of the
rock walls, the room was diagreeably chilly. And that ended our
experience in hell.
then led us to the closed, dark front of a house where a suspicious
looking man stood, who eyed us contemptuously. Bishop told him that we
should like to enter. The man assented with a growl. He beat upon the
door with a stick; a little wicket opened, and a villanous face peered
out at us.
"What do you want?" came from the gruff tones.
"To enter, of course," responded Bishop.
"Are they all right, do you think?" asked the
face of the sentinel.
"I think they are harmless," was the answer.
Several bolts and locks grated, and the
stubborn door opened.
"Enter, you vile specimens of human
folly!" hissed the inside guard as we passed within. "D—
all three of you!"
We had no sooner found ourselves inside than this same person, a short,
stout man, with long hair and a powerful frame, and the face of a
cutthroat, struck a table with the heavy stick that he carried, and
roared to us,—
Mr. Thompkins involuntarily cowered, but
he gathered himself up and
went with us to seats at the nearest table. While we were doing this
the habitués of the place greeted us with this song, sung in
"Oh, là là!
là! c'te gueule,
"What are they saying?" asked Mr.
Thompkins; but Bishop spared him by explaining that it was only the
The room had a low ceiling crossed by heavy beams.
lamps gave a gloomy light upon the dark, time-browned color of the
place. The beams were loaded with dust, cobwebs, and stains; the
results of years of smoke and accumulation. Upon the walls were dozens
of drawings by Steinlen, illustrating the poems of low life written by
the porprietor of the café; for we were in the den of the famous
Aristide Bruant, the poet of the gutter,—
Verlaine had a higher place
as the poet of the slums. There were also drawings by Chéret
and others, and some clever sketches in oil; the whole effect was
artistic. In one corner was an old fireplace, rich in carvings of
grotesque heads and figures, grilled iron-work, and shining copper
vessels. The general impression was of a mediæval gun-room.
Near the fireplace, upon a low platform, was a
piano. Grouped about it were four typical Bohemians of lower Bohemia;
they wore loads of hair; their faces had a dissipated look, their
fingers were heavily stained by cigarettes; they wore beards and
négligé black cravats. These were all minor poets,
and they took their turn in signing or reciting their own compositions,
afterwards making a tour of the crowded tables with a tin cup and
collecting the sous upon which they lived, and roundly cursing those
who refused to contribute.
Bishop was so delighted with the pictures on the walls
that he proceeded to examine them, but the bully with the stick
"Sit down!" and shook his bludgeon menacingly. Bishop sat
Then the brute swaggered up to us and demanded,—
"What the devil do you want to drink anyway? Speak up
quick!" When he had brought the drinks he gruffly demanded, "Pay up!"
Upon receiving the customary tip he frowned, "Humph! c'est pas
beaucoup!" and swept the money into his pocket.
"Goodness! This is an awful place!" exclaimed Mr.
Thompkins under his breath. He seemed to fear being brained at any
moment. Retreat had been rendered impossible by the locking of the
door. We were prisoners at the will of our jailer, and so were all the
Britain himself sat with a party of congenial Bohemians at a table near
the piano and fireplace; they were drinking bocks and smoking
cigarettes and long-stemmed pipes. On the wall behind them was a rack
holding the pipes of the habitués of the café, mostly
broken and well
browned. Each pipe was owned by a particular Bohemian, and each had its
special place in the rack. The other tables held a general assortment
of lesser Bohemians and sightseers, all cowed and silent under the
domination of the bawling ruffian with the stick. Whenever he smiled
(which was rare, a perpetual frown having creased a deep furrow between
his eyes) they smiled also, in great relief, and hung upon every word
that his occasional lapses into an approach to good nature permitted
him to utter.
The poets and singers
howled their productions in rasping voices, and put a strain upon the
strength of the piano; and the minor Bohemians applauded them heartily
and envied them their distinction.
midst of this performance there came a knock upon the door. The bully
walked up to the wicket, peered out, and admitted an elderly gentleman,
accompanied by a lady, evidently his wife. These the habitués
with the following song:
les clients sont des cochons—
faridon, la faridon donne.
Et surtout les ceux qui s'en vont—
La faridon, la
The gentleman, somewhat
abashed by this reception, hesitated a moment, then sought seats. The
two had hardly seated themselves when the burly ruffian with the stick
began to recite a villanous poem reflecting upon the chastity of
married women, emphasizing it with atrocious side remarks. The
gentleman sprang from his seat in a rage and advanced threateningly
upon the brute, who stood leering at him and taking a firmer hold upon
his stick; but the visitor's wife caught the outraged man by the arm
and restrained him. A wordy war ensued (for the gentleman was a
Frenchman), in which the choicest argot of Montmartre and La Villette
was exhausted by the ruffian. He closed by shouting,—
"You were not invited to
enter here. You asked the privilege of entering; your wish was granted.
If you don't like it here, get out!"
The gentleman flung down
a franc upon the table, the bolts were withdrawn, and he and his wife
passed out while the roysterers sang,—
les clients sont des cochons," etc.,
amid the laughter of the
Aristide Bruant now rose
from his table and strode to the center of the room. A perfect silence
fell. He is rather a small man, slender, and of delicate build; he has
a thin, sallow face, with piercing black eyes, prominent cheek-bones,
and long raven-black hair falling over his shoulders from beneath a
broad black slouch hat down over his eyes. His unbuttoned coat showed a
red flannel shirt open at the
throat; a broad sash was about his waist; his trousers were tucked
into top-boots,— the ensemble reminding one of Buffalo Bill. He glared
sullenly round upon the people, and then sprang lightly upon a table.
From that perch he recited one of his poems, selected from his book of
songs and monologues. It does not bear reproduction here. For that
matter, being written in the argot of Montmartre, it could hardly be
understood even by French scholars unfamiliar with Montmartre.
Happily Mr. Thompkins
understood not a word of it, smiling perfunctorily out of politeness
while Bruant was uttering things that might have shocked the most
hardened Parisians. There were several young women present, and while
Bruant was reciting they ogled him with genuine adoration. The other
poets hung reverently upon his every word.
mighty burst of applause greeted the finish of the recitation; but
Bruant slouched indifferently to his seat, ignoring the ovation. The
bully with the stick immediately stopped the noise by yelling,
"Silence!" This he followed up with the contribution cup for the
benefit of the idol of Montmartre. With the cup he brought the volume
of Bruant's poems from which he had given the recitation,— a cheaply
printed pamphlet. No one dared refuse to buy, and no change was
returned. Was not this the great Aristide Bruant, the immortal of
followed by other poets with songs and the banging of the piano. We
presently rose to leave, but the bully
How dare you insult the young poet who is now singing?" We submissively
resumed our seats. After a while, in a lull, we respectfully rose
again, and the bully, shouting, "Get out!" unbarred the door and we
Thompkins was more deeply puzzled than he had been before that night.
He could not understand that such a resort, where one is bullied and
insulted, could secure patronage.
this is Paris, Mr. Thompkins," explained Bishop, somewhat vaguely; "and
this particular part of Paris is Montmartre."
Midnight was now close at
hand, but Montmartre was in the height of its gaiety. Students,
Bohemians, and cocottes were skipping and singing along the
boulevard,— singing the songs of Bruant. The cafés were crowded,
theaters and concert halls only in the middle of their programs. Cabs
were dashing about, some stopping at the Moulin Rouge, others at the
Elysee Montmartre, still others picking up fares for more distant
windows, and bluntly asked Mr.
Thompkins if he would like to go to church. Mr. Thompkins caught his
breath, and an odd, guilty look came into his face. But before he could
make a reply Bishop was leading the way within. The interior of the
certainly looked like a church,— it was fitted to have that
significance. The cold, gray stone walls rose to a
vaulted Gothic ceiling; Gothic
pillars and arches and carved wood completed the architectural effect;
statues of saints appeared in niches, some surmounted by halos of
lighted candles; and there were banners bearing scriptural mottoes.
The heavy oaken tables on the floor were provided with stiff,
high-backed pulpit-chairs, beautiful in color and carving, and of a
Gothic type, the whole scene suggesting a transept of Notre-Dame. Mr.
Thornpkins had reverently removed his hat. It was not long afterward
that he quietly replaced it on his head. No notice was taken by us of
farther end, where the church altar belonged, was indeed a handsomely
carved altar. Above it sprang a graceful arch, bearing a canopy
beautifully painted in blue, with yellow stars. In the center was a
painting of Christ upon the cross. The altar was the bar, or caisse, of
this strange café, and behind it sat the proprietress, quietly
and waiting to fill orders for drinks.
walls of the café were almost entirely covered with framed
Rodel; all were portraits of well-known Bohemians of Montmartre in
characteristic attitudes,— the star patrons of this rendezvous. Many
women figured among them, all Bohemian
to the bone.
the poets of Bohemian Paris,
among whom Marcel Legay is eminent. It was evident that the
the Conservatoire were of a much higher order than those whom we had
seen elsewhere. They looked more prosperous, were more amiable, and
acted more as other people. True, there was much long hair, for that is
a disease hard to shake off; but when it did occur, it was well combed
and oiled. And there were many flat brimmed "plug" hats, as well as
collars,— clean ones, too, an exceptional thing in Bohemia, laundering
being expensive. But the poverty-haunted Bohemians in the Soleil d'Or
are more picturesque. That, however, is in the Latin Quarter: anything
exceptional may be expected at Montmartre.
When we had finished our
coffee we approached the patronne behind the bar, and bought billets
for the Salle des Poetes at two francs each. This was a large room
crowded with enraptured listeners to Legay, who was at that
moment rendering his song.
Du Innt de leur beffroi,
Voyaient avec effroi
La résurrection des Cirandes Republiques.
Les cloches rêvaient,
En quatre-vingt onze,
Les cloches de bronze
Legay had quite a distinguished appearance as he stood
singing before the piano. He wore a generously cut frock-coat, and his waistcoat exposed a spacious show
of white shirt-front. His long hair was carefully brushed back, his
moustaches neatly waxed; altogether he was dainty and jaunty, and the
ladies in the room made no concealment of their adoration.
years of age; he had long white hair and a drooping moustache, and his
heavy protruding eyes were suffused with tears evoked by the pathos of
the song. While he gazed up into the singer's face with
tear-filled eyes he was in another life, another world, where there was
nothing but music and poetry unalloyed to constitute his heaven. For
Legay sang charmingly, with an art and a feeling that were never
obtrusive; and his audience was aesthetic. When he had finished he was
cheered without stint, and he clearly showed how much the attention
His song was only one of the numbers on a very
interesting program. This was the training school of the young poets
and song-writers of upper Bohemia; this was where they made their debut
and met the test of that discriminating criticism which influenced them
to advance upon the world or conceal themselves for yet a while from
its cruel glare; and were they not but repeating the ordeal of the
ancient Greeks, out of which so many noble things passed into
literature? These critics were as frank with their disapproval as
generous with their acceptance.
Marius Geffroy, Eugene Lemercier, Xavier Privas. Delarbre, aml Henri
Brallet, men as yet unknown, but likely to make a mark under the
training, inspiration and severe checks of the Cafe du Conservatoire.
One of the goals for which these writers strive, and one that, if they
win it, means to them recognition, is to have their poems published in Gil
with illustrations by the peerless Steinlen, as
works of Legay, and also of Bruant, le Terrible.
Marcel Legay is a
familiar figure on the boulevards, where his dainty person is often
seen after nightfall, hurrying to one or another of his haunts, with a
small roll of music under his arm, and his fluffy hair streaming over
his shoulders. On certain nights of every week he sings over in the
Latin Quarter, at the Cabaret des Noctambules, Rue Champollion, near
the Chapel of the Sorbonne.
The other singers that
night at the Café du Conservatoire each affected his peculiar
habit, gesture and pose that he deemed most fetching. The entire
program was of songs: hence the name, Café du Conservatoire.
we had left, Bishop bought some Brevas cigars; thus fortified, we
headed for the Moulin Rouge.
evident that Mr. Thompkins had reserved his enthusiasm for the great
dance-hall of Montmartre,— Le Moulin Rouge,— with its women of the half
world, its giddiness, its glare, its noise, its naughtiness. Here at
we should find all absence of restraint, posing, sordidness,
self-consciousness and appeals to abnormal appetites. Mr. Thompkins
visibly brightened as we ascended the incline of the entrance and came
within the influence of the life and abandon of the place. Indeed, it
must have seemed like fairy land to him. The soft glow of hundreds of
lights fell upon the crowds in the ball-room and balconies, with their
shifting streams of color from the moving figures of dancing women in
showy gowns and saucy hats, and its many chatting, laughing, joyous
groups at the tables along the passage and the balconies, enjoying
merry little suppers and varied consommations that kept scores of
garçons continually on the move. A placard announced:
American Bar; American And English Drinks
—as bald and unashamed as
that. Here on high stools, American free-lunch fashion, ranged along
the bar, were English and American tourists and French dandies sipping
Manhattan cocktails with a cherry, brandy-and-soda, Tom-and-Jerry, and
the rest. Along the walls hung vivid paintings of some of the famous
dancing girls of the Moulin, their saucy faces half hidden in clouds of
lacy white skirts.
High up on a pretty balcony at the end of the huge
ballroom were the musicians, enjoying their cigarettes and bocks
between pieces. A small stage occupied the opposite end of the room,
where a light vaudeville performance had been given; but that was
all over now, and attention centred in the tables and the dancing.
The Moulin Rouge resembles very much the
Bullier; but at the Moulin the cocottes are much more dashing and gaudy
than over in the Quartier, because the inspector at the door of the
Moulin maintains a more exacting standard on the score of the toilettes
of the women whom he admits free of charge. Women, women, women! There
seemed no end of them; and each was arrayed to the full limit of her
means. And there were French dandies in long white melton coats that
were very tight at the waist, and that bore large brown velvet collars;
their hair, parted behind, was brushed toward their ears; they strolled
about the place in numbers, twirling their moustaches and ogling the
girls. And there were French army officers, Martiniques, long-haired
students and Montmartre poets, artists, actors, and many
three-days-in-Paris English tourists wearing knickerbockers and
golf-caps, and always smoking bulldog pipes. There were also two
parties of American men with their wives and daughters, and they
enjoyed the spectacle with the natural fulness and responsiveness of
their soil. For the Moulin is really now but a great show place; it has
been discovered by the outside world, and, unlike the other quaint
places mentioned in this paper, has suffered the change that such
contact inevitably imparts. It is no longer the queer old Moulin,
genuinely, spontaneously Bohemian. But the stranger would hardly
realize that; and so to Mr. Thompkins it seemed the
brilliant and showy side of Bohemian Paris. By reason of its change in
character it has less interest than the real Bohemian Paris that the
real Bohemians know, enjoy, and jealously guard.
Many light-footed young women were
amusing circles of on-lookers with spirited dancing and reckless
high-kicking; and, being adept in their peculiar art, were so flashing
and illusory that an attempt to analyze their movements brought only
bewilderment. No bones seemed to hamper their swiftness and elasticity.
The flash of a black stocking would instantly dissolve into a fleecy
cloud of lace, and the whirling air was a cyclone; and there upon the
floor sat the dancer in the "split," looking up with a merry laugh,
flushed cheeks, and sparkling eyes, twinkling from the shadow of a
twisted torque; then over her would sweep a whirlwind of other dancers,
and identities would become inextricably confused.
An odd-looking man, with a sad face and
marvellously long, thin legs in tights, did incredible things with
those members; he was merely a long spring without bones, joints, or
hinges. His cadaverous face and glittering black eyes, above which rose
a top-hat that never moved from place, completed the oddity of his
appearance. He was always there in the thickest of the dancing, and his
salary was three francs a night.
We suddenly discovered Mr. Thompkins in a most
embarrassing situation. A bewitching chemical blonde of the clinging
type had discovered and appropriated him; she melted all over him, and
poured a stream of bad English into his ear. She was so very, very
thirsty, she pleaded, and Monsieur was so charming, so much a
gentleman,— he was beautiful, too. Oh, Monsieur would not he be so
unkind as to remove the soft, plump arm from round his neck,— surely it
did not hurt Monsieur, for was it not warm and plump, and was not that
a pretty dimple in the elbow, and another even prettier in the
shoulder? If Monsieur were not so charming and gracious the ladies
would never, never fall in love with him like this. And oh, Monsieur,
the place was so warm, and dancing makes one so thirsty!
Mr. Thompkins's face was a picture of
shame and despair, and I have never seen a more comical expression than
that with which he looked appealingly to us for help. Suppose some one
in the hall should happen to recognize him! Of course there was only
one thing to do. Mademoiselle Blanche's thirst was of that awful kind
which only shipwrecked sailors, travellers lost in a desert, and
café dancing-girls can understand. And so four glasses of beer
were ordered. It was beautiful to see the grace and celerity with which
Mademoiselle Blanche disposed of hers, the passionate eagerness with
which she pressed a long kiss upon Mr. Thompkins's unwilling lips, and
the promptness with which she then picked up his glass, drained it
while she looked at him mischievously over the rim, kissed him again,
Mr. Thompkins sat speechless, his face
blazing, his whole expression indescribably foolish. He vigorously wiped his lips with his handkerchief, and
was not himself again for half an hour.
Innumerable bright little comedies were
unconsciously played in all parts of the room, and they were even more
interesting than the antics of the dancers.
We presently strolled into the garden of the Moulin, where
a performance is given in the summer. There stood a great white
sheet-iron elephant, remindful of Coney Island. In one of the legs was
a small door, from which a winding stair led into the body of the
beast. The entrance fee was fifty centimes, the ticket-office at the
top of the stair. It was a small room inside the elephant, and there
was a small stage in the end of it, upon which three young women were
exercising their abdominal muscles in the danse du ventre. Mr.
Thompkins, dismayed at this, would have fled had not Bishop captured
him and hauled him back to a conspicuous seat, where the dancing-girls,
quickly finding him, proceeded to make their work as extravagant as
possible, throwing him wicked glances meanwhile, and manifestly
enjoying his embarrassment. Of course the dancers came round presently
for offerings of sous.
We returned to the dance-hall, for it was
now closing-up time, and in order to feel a touch of kinship with
America, drank a gin fizz at the American bar, though it seemed to be a
novelty to Mr. Thompkins.
The streets were alive
with the revellers who had been turned out by the closing of the
dance halls and theaters, and
the cries of cabbies rose above the din of laughter and chatter among
the crowds. Hut the night was not yet quite finished. Said Bishop,—
"We shall now have coffee
at the Red Ass."
That was below the Place Pigalle, quite
a walk down to
the Rue de Maubeuge, through that suddenly quiet centre of artists'
studios and dignified residences. At last we reached L'Ane Rouge,— the
Red Ass. It has a small and unassuming front, except that the
window-panes are profusely decorated with painted flowers and figures,
and a red ass peers down over the narrow door. L'Ane Rouge has no
special distinction, save its artistic interior and the fanciful
sketches on its walls. It is furnished with heavy dark tables and
chairs, and iron grilled into beautiful scrolls and chandeliers,— like
the famous Chat Noir, near by. In fact, L'Ane Rouge resembles an old
curiosity shop more than anything else, for it is filled with all
imaginable kinds of antiques, blackened by age and smoke, and in
perfect harmony. It, too, has its particular clientele of Bohemians,
who come to puff their long pipes that hang in racks, and recount their
hopes, aspirations, achievements and failures, occasionally breaking
into song. For this they bring forth their mandolins and guitars, and
sing sentimental ditties of their own composition. There is a charming
air of chez soi at the Red Ass; a spirit of good-fellowship pervades
it; and then, the café is small, cozy, and comfortable, as well
in a lively commotion when we crossed the threshold, the place being
filled with littérateurs of the quarter. A celebration was in
progress,— one of their number had just succeeded in finding a
for two volumes of his poetry. It was a notable event, and the lucky
Bohemian, flushed with money, had settled his debts and was now
treating his friends. Although we were strangers to him, he cordially
invited us to share the hospitality of the occasion, and there was
great applause when Bishop presented him with a Brevas cigar.
les Anglais! Ce sont des bons types, ceux-là!" and then they
chorus, a happy, careless, jolly crowd.
There was a small, thin
young sketch artist making crayon portraits of the successful poet and
selling them to the poet's friends for fifty centimes apiece,— with the
poet's autograph, too.
response to a call for une chanson Anglaise, Bishop sang "Down on the
Farm" as he had never sung it before, his shining top-hat pushed back
upon his curly hair, his jovial face beaming. At its conclusion he
proposed a toast to the successful poet, and it was drunk standing and
with a mighty shout.
We looked in at the
Cabaret des Quat'z' Arts,— a bright and showy place, but hardly more
suggestive of student Bohemianism than the other fine cafés of
And thus ended a night on
Montmartre. We left Mr. Thompkins at his hotel. I think he was more
than satisfied, but he was too bewildered and tired to say much about
Montmartre presents the
extravagant side of Parisian Bohemianism. If there is a thing to be
mocked, a convention to be outraged, an idol to be destroyed,
Montmartre will find the way. But it has a taint of sordidness that the
real Bohemianism of the old Latin Quarter lacks,— for it is not the
Bohemianism of the students. And it is vulgar. For all that, in its
rude, reckless, and brazen way it is singularly picturesque. It is not
likely that Mr. Thompkins will say much about it when he goes home, but
he will be able to say a great deal in a general way about the harm of
ridiculing sacred things and turning reverence into a laugh.
MOVING IN THE QUARTIER LATIN
Ouartier Latin takes
on unwonted life about the fifteenth of July, when the artists and
students change their places of abode under the resistless pressure of
a nomadic spirit. Studios are generally taken for terms ranging from
three months to a year, and the terms generally expire in July. The
artists who do not change their residence then go into the country, and
that means moving their effects.
It is a
familiar fact that artists do not generally occupy a high position in
the financial world. Consequently they are a very practical lot,
attending to their own domestic duties (including washing when times
are hard), and doing their own moving when July comes; but this
is not a very elaborate undertaking. No one thinks the worse of them
One day in July Bishop
and I sat in our window overlooking the court, and observed the comedy
of a student in the throes of
moving. The old building at the end of our court was a favorite
abiding place for artists. Evidently, on this day, a young artist or
art student was en déménagement, for his household goods
dragged down the stairs and piled in the court preparatory to a journey
in a small hand-cart standing by. He was cheerfully assisted by a
number of his friends and his devoted companion, a pretty little
grisette. There were eight of them in all, and their laughter and
shouts indicated the royal fun they were having.
The cart was one of those
voitures à bras that are kept for hire at a neighboring location
voitures à bras at six sous an hour. In order to get
locomotion out of
it you have to hitch yourself in the harness that accompanies it, and
pull the vehicle yourself; and that is no end of fun, because your
friends are helping and singing all the way.
Into this vehicle they
placed a rickety old divan and a very much dilapidated mattress; then
came half a sack of coal, a tiny, rusty, round studio stove with
interminable yards of battered and soot-filled pipe, a pine table, two
rush-bottomed chairs, and a big box filled with clattering dishes,
kettles, pots, and pans. On top of this came a thick roll of dusty,
faded, threadbare hangings and rugs, and the meager wardrobes of the
artist and the grisette; then a number of hat-boxes, after which
Mademoiselle looked with great solicitude. Last of all came bulky
portfolios filled with the artist's work, a large number of canvases
that were mostly studies of Mademoiselle au
naturel, with such accessories as an easel, paint-boxes, and the like,
the linen and bedding.
The fat old concierge
stood grumbling near by, for the ropes were being tied over the load,
and she was anxiously waiting for her dernier adieu, or parting tip,
that it is the custom to give upon surrendering the key. But tips are
sometimes hard to give, and Bohemian etiquette does not regard them
with general favor. After the load had been made snug, the artist
approached the concierge, doffed his cap, bowed low, and then in a most
impressively ceremonious manner handed her the key, avowed that it
broke his heart to leave her, and commended her to God. That was all.
There seems to be a special providence attending upon the vocabulary of
concierges in their hour of need. The shrill, condemnatory,
interminable vocalization of this concierge's wrath indicated specific
abilities of exceptional power.
But the artist paid no
attention. He hung his coat and "plug" hat on the inverted table-leg,
got between the shafts, hitched himself in the harness, and sailed out
of the court, his friends swarming around and assisting him to drag the
toppling cart away. And this they did with a mighty will, yelling and
singing with a vigor that wholly obliterated the concierge's noise. The
little grisette closed the procession, bearing in one hand a lamp and
in the other a fragile bust. And so the merry party started, possibly
for the other end of Paris,— the greater the distance the more the fun.
They all knew that when the voiture had been unloaded and all had
and assisted the young couple in straightening out their new home,
there would be a jolly celebration in the nearest café at the
start was made fairly and smoothly; but the enthusiasm of the crowd was
so high and the little vehicle was so top-heavy, that at the end of the
passage the comedy seemed about to merge into a tragedy. It was
announced to all the court in the shrill voice of the concierge, who
stove has fallen out! and the coal! The things are falling all over the
street! Oh, you villain!"
movers themselves it was merely an incident that added to the fun and
zest of the enterprise.
plans carried me to Concarneau, and Bishop's took him to Italy, where I
would join him after a while. And a royal time we had in our several
ways. The autumn found us fresh and eager for our studies in Paris
again, and so we returned to hunt a studio and establish ourselves in
new quarters. We had stored our goods with a kind American friend; and
as we had neither the desire nor the financial ability to violate the
traditions of the Quartier, we greatly scandalized him and his charming
family by appearing one day with a crowd of students and a voiture
bras before his house and taking our effects away in the traditional
fashion. Of course our friend would have gladly paid for the transport
of our belongings in a more respectable fashion; but where would have
been the fun in that? I am pleased to say that with true American
adaptiveness he joined the signing and yelling crowd and danced a jig
to our playing in our new quarters after a generous brew of punch had
done its share in the jollity of the event.
dear old Paris! Wonderful, bewildering Paris! Alluring, enchanting
Paris! Our student years are now just ended, and Paris is already so
crowded with workers who cannot bear to leave it that we
must seek our fortune in other and duller parts of the world. But Paris
has ineradicably impressed itself upon us. We have lived its life; we
have been a part of its throbbing, working, acheiving individuality.
What we take away will be of imperishable value, the salt and leaven of
our hopes and efforts forver.