CHAPTER V

AMUSEMENTS

THE Bohemian group of poets, artists and singers who made Montmartre famous at the end of the last century have now nearly all passed away. One of the last survivors was that prince of "Chansonniers," Aristide Bruant, who died in 1935. In his heyday this original character, who always dressed in a velveteen suit, flowing red necktie, slouch hat and high boots, made a great success with his cabaret in Montmartre, to which for a time all fashionable Paris was wont to flock. Bruant it was who invented the fashion of abusing every visitor as he entered the place, a trick which is still, I believe, played at certain Parisian night resorts though having lost its novelty it has long ceased to amuse. Bruant wrote a number of songs which he sang, mostly dealing with the sordid and sombre aspects of life in the Parisian underworld which he knew so well: brusque in his ways, he was not liked by the artist Adolphe Willette whom he seems to have offended. The latter, however, forgave Bruant on account of the singer's gallant son Captain Bruant having been killed during the great war.

Some of Bruant's songs, notably "Au Bois de Boulogne," were sung in the 'eighties' by Yvette Guilbert at the Café des Ambassadeurs, in the Champs Elys
ées, where Paulus — probably the greatest artiste who ever trod the Café Concert Stage — was then having a great success with "Le Pere la Victoire" and other songs one of which, "En Revenant de la Revue," had considerable influence in promoting the popularity of the ill-fated General Boulanger who, after having nearly become dictator of France, committed suicide on the tomb of his dead love in the cemetery of Ixelles, near Brussels.

The Caf
é Concert in its original form is now defunct, the circle of damsels who used to sit on the stage while singers of both sexes shouted out some catching refrain, having long become out of date. The modern mania is all for Revue, with a number of English or American girls kicking up their well-trained heels at intervals during the performance. As a matter of fact, the old Café Concert in the days of singers like Duparc, Amiati, Demay, Libert, Sulbac and Paulus was really a very much more artistic affair — today, however, the public is not satisfied unless it gets an unlimited quantity of noise and hustle.

The Ambassadeurs, after having for several years made a feature of rather elaborate Revues, was in 1926 entirely remodeled, all the stalls and boxes having been swept away and their places taken by dining tables. A space for dancing has been left near the stage on which during the summer of 1926 an entertainment was given about nine o'clock by the African troupe headed by Miss Florence Mills, which afterwards won success at the London Pavilion with "Blackbirds."

This new idea of a dining theater seems likely to have a considerable vogue, for since its alteration, the Ambassadeurs, where people only go to dine about nine o'clock, has always been full. The prices charged were high, but the cuisine good, while three bands, which alternately played jazz music and Tangos, were composed of very competent musicians. Altogether the new departure seems to have been a success for which reason it will probably be copied elsewhere in Paris and eventually be given a trial in England where, however, the absence of any out-of-door place of entertainment which could be run on the lines which made the new Café des Ambassadeurs popular will rather militate against great success.

After the old form of Café Concert entertainment had lost its vogue in Paris a number of small cabarets sprang up in Montmartre and elsewhere one of which, "La Boite a Fursy," described as the headquarters of the "chanson rosse" had a considerable vogue. Here cleverly written songs were sung, a number of which satirized Parisian celebrities and politicians, not excluding the President of the Republic, coming in for a good deal of robust chaff. Fursy has now migrated elsewhere, the cabaret which he founded having become La Lune Rousse where, in addition to chansonettes, bright little Revues written by the proprietor or by one of his troupe achieve a good deal of popularity. There are a number of other moderate sized cabarets where something of the old spirit of Montmartre survives, the Moulin de la Chanson, for instance, usually provides a good entertainment while La Chaumière, a cabaret located in the premises occupied by La Lune Tousse before it moved to the Boite a Fursy, has a program composed of songs, shadow plays and little Revues Intimes played by clever artistes. The manager here is Paul Weil who is ably supported by Mevisto, Chepfer, Ferny, Gaston Bertier and others, the chief figures in its Revues being Claudie de Sivry and Georges Bertie.

A place of entertainment with which about every visitor to Paris is familiar, is the Grand Guignol. This little theater specializes in the production of plays mainly consisting of horrors, its audiences being composed of people who like to be thrilled.

One of the last of the old school of chansonniers imbued with the artistic spirit of la Butte was Marcel Legay who, dressed in a long frock coat with a velvet collar frilled shirt and bow tie seemed a reincarnation of the Parisian of Murger's day. Marcel Legay, though essentially a Montmartrois, at one time migrated to the Latin Quarter, where he became director of Le Grillon, rather a dingy little place which, however, had a great success. Here, before the Great War, for a couple of francs or so, visitors could hear a number of admirably rendered songs, the singers of which (all men) were accompanied on a small upright piano standing near the low platform which served as stage. There was an informality about this place, where the artists moved freely among the audience, which was very attractive. Clever posters and original drawings decorated the walls much as they do those of the Cabaret of Les Noctambules, No. 7 Rue Champollion (once also directed by Legay), which attracts many visitors to the Left Bank of the Seine.

Since the death of Marcel Legay and other true Bohemian singers, the cabarets, which once resounded with their laughter and humorous sallies, though they still keep time-honored names, have for the most part lost the spontaneous gaiety which prevailed before commercialism overwhelmed Parisian pleasure resorts making the latter merely meeting places for wealthy people from the other side of the Atlantic.

Paris, especially in its amusements, has indeed changed greatly since the days when the Parisians had a reputation for being imbued with a spirit of careless gaiety which found vent in song and dance. "Today it's the foreigner's money they want."

At the end of the last century one of the chief attractions of Paris by night was the Quadrille Eccentrique or Can-can danced at public halls, the chief of which were the Elysée Montmartre, the Jardin de Paris, and the old Moulin Rouge. The terpsichorean stars of the old resorts in question were then Rayon d'Or, Nini Pattes en l'Air, Jeanne Avril, Rigolette, la Goulue and Grille d'Egoût. These ladies were the successors of la Reine Pomaré, Mogador, Frisette, Pochardinette and other light footed damsels who had two or three generations before attracted crowds to the old Jardin Mabille, that garden of facile delights, which, under the Second Empire, was renowned for its extravagantly gowned and bejeweled women. Here immaculately attired boulevardiers in top hats came to see their latest favorite dance the can-can, her legs half hidden in a swirl of lace and her dainty little feet alternately poised in the air during the figure of the Quadrille known as "Present Arms."

Mabille disappeared many years ago, its site being covered by the Avenue Montaigne, and today in all probability none of its stars survive, while the gay boulevardiers of other days sleep their last sleep in Père Lachaise.

A few years ago the Jardin de Paris, whichh took the place of Mabille, also ceased to exist, its grounds having been re-absorbed into the Champs Elysées, of which it originally formed part. The balustrade which surrounded the bandstand, however, will stands, a lonely relic around which the shade of many a nimble-footed damsel possibly lingers on summer evenings.

The Jardin de Paris was especially lively on gala nights such as those of the great steeplechase of Paris and of the Grand Prix.

Of all the terpsichorean favorites who danced in old days at the Parisian public balls the lady known as La Goulue alone seems to survive. Some years ago the Parisian Press announced that the latter had become a lion tamer. Now, I believe, she ekes out a living peddling small wares, an occupation La Goulue philosophically informed an interviewer, was perfectly to her taste, adding that she did not in the least regret her dancing days when she and another girl, called Grille d'Ego
ût, were the talk of all pleasure-loving Paris!

In their zenith these two high kickers of an extraordinary kind could lift the hat of any spectator off his head with the greatest ease.

In the 'eighties' the present writer and a friend took both of the ladies mentioned above to supper, a meal to which the can-can dancers of those days were exceedingly partial.

La Goulue, a great robust blonde, was not particularly good looking though she had a fine figure, which she was not afraid to show, and a flow of language of a very Rabelaisian kind. Grille d'Egoût, a brunette, rather of the Gaiety girl type, was quite pretty in a sort of common way. She, too, was anything but Puritanical in her remarks, being, like her friend, of very low origin. Both, as we discovered in the course of our supper, were much more amusing throwing their legs about than in conversation; however, as we supped in a private room the ladies were entirely at their ease. We parted very good friends, but ever after ceased to have any desire to be on intimate terms with professional can-can dancers. Grille d'Ego
ût and La Goulue, it may be added, lived in Montmartre, which at that time was merely a subrub of Paris where lodgings were inexpensive, and also handy for going to practice new dances at the Elysée Montmartre not far away.

The public hall in question, which has now long disappeared, was originally a rustic resort where the Parisians went on Sundays to dance under a number of fine trees which then covered the site. In 1860, however, when the wall which divided Paris from Montmartre was demolished, the trees were cut down and a vast dancing hall erected, together with a restaurant of an ambitious kind. The place, however, does not seem to have proved a great financial success till the management engaged Olivier Métra, the famous chef d'orchestre, the composer of "La Valse des Roses" which threw the dancers of the Second Empire into such raptures. The war of 1870-71 naturally did public balls like the Elysée Montmartre great harm, and smart visitors were no longer seen there. In the 'eighties,' however, thanks to an admirable orchestra led by M. Dufour, its glories began to revive. The Quadrille Eccentrique or can-can was danced there, and crowds flocked to see the girls mentioned above and other terpsichorean celebrities indulge in the high kicking which was such a popular feature of Parisian entertainment forty years ago. In 1900 the Elysée, which had been partially rebuilt, was burnt to the ground. Re-erected and called the Trianon Lyrique, the traditions of the old public ball which formerly stood on the site have now been entirely lost.

Another once popular dancing place, the Bal de la Boule Noir at the corner of Boulevard Rochechouart and of the Rue des Martyrs used to stand on the site now occupied by La Cigale. The original name of this resort, which was founded in 1822, was La Bal de la Belle en Cuisse, an illusion to the women who founded it. The lady, it may be added, had known Barras and was extremely proud of having done so.  At the Boule Noir it was, in 1857, that the Lancers were first danced in a public place. At the middle of the last century the Boule Noir was one of the most popular halls in Paris, all the Lorettes (as members of the demi-monde was then called owing to so many of them living in La Rue Notre Dame de Lorette) making it a favorite rendezvous where they would be sure of meeting plenty of their admirers. Latterly, however, La Boule Noir fell on very evil days and at its demolition in 1885 there were no regrets.

Both here and at the Elysée Montmartre quite respectable dances were sometimes given. On such occasions, however, the general public were of course excluded, the ballroom being reserved for the particular Club or guild which had taken it for the night.

The French are fond of forming Societies connected with various trades, which all have their annual balls, some of which like that of the coiffeurs, make them the occasion for an exhibition of professional skill. These balls have a special character of their own. For instance, at the waiters' dance all the gentlemen wear evening dress, a costume not seen at the dances of other confraternities. At the carpenters' ball certain traditional customs are observed, new members of the fraternity being initiated with secret rites and rough handling, after which comes the banquet and the ball at which are danced by men only, in an old-fashioned way not lacking in dignity. The various trade societies often have strange sounding names such as "La Confraternité des Laveurs des Chiens," "Les Chiffoniers Royalistes" or "Les Enfants de Mars." There was, and perhaps still is, one called "La Concorde des Maquereaux," a name liable to expose the society to doubtful jokes.

In addition to the dances alluded to above there are informal gatherings at which those who come from various provinces of France assemble. That of the Auvergnats is said to be often amusing.

A feeling of affection for their home is deeply implanted in these people's breasts. Speaking of the Auvergnat, Georges Montorgueil says "Engaged in the roughest, simplest sort of work in Paris, he comes to the city only in the hope of one day leaving it. Water-carrier — in the days when water was not laid on to every floor
— commissionaire, coal-heaver, glazier, errand-boy, roast-chestnut seller, he remains true to his mountains. He works hard and does not shrink from the severest toil, in such a hurry is he to find the wherewithal to return and to live comfortably in his beloved province. We hear a great deal about the southerner's attachment to his native soil — especially from the southerner himself, who knows how to make a noise. How much deeper, if more quiet is the love of the Auvergnat for his village steeple? He may change his habits as the necessities of his situation dictate: he may borrow something in appearance or manner from his neighbors; he may seem to be assimilated, but he remains an Auvergnat in accent, in taste, in manners. He refuses to embrace the habits of a world which is not his. There are country-folk who lose all their local color, who become people from nowhere in particular and everywhere in general. But when you belong to St. Flour, it is for ever. The Auvergnat remains the child of Auvergne. If he settles down elsewhere, it is only for the sake of his children, who could not out of a town receive the education he thinks worthy of them, or find the position which his sound simple pride thinks fitted for them. But if he is single, or when the children are launched, his one desire is to return to the Cantal or Puy-de-Dôme whence he came. All the years he has had but one ambition in his head — to buy with his hard-earned savings a certain field that he knows of, in the shade of the chestnut trees."

The dances in which the Auvergnats and other provincials in Paris indulge are highly decorous, the quadrille eccentrique having been of purely Paisian origin. Though now never seen at the smart night resorts of Montmartre this form of can-can still survives at the Bal Tabarin and the new Moulin Rouge at which, however, it is danced by professional dancers in stage dresses not in the ordinary costume worn by La Goulue and Grille d'Egoût who made a great feature of exhibiting a number of billowy petticoats when they kicked their legs in the air.

The present Moulin Rogue it may be added occupies the site of a public hall called La Reine Blanche which was very popular about 1850, especially with smart demi-mondaines who, having passed their childhood in Montmartre, liked to go back there and astonish their old friends by the brilliancy of their jewels and the splendor of their dress. The original Moulin Rogue — the Red Mill
— which used to be so much frequented by English visitors, was burnt down just before the war. Within the last two or three years, however, it has been rebuilt, a larger and more elaborate theater having been added. While this attracts fashionable audiences, who come to see the elaborate Revues given there, the Moulin Rogue itself now seems to cater mainly for visitors belonging to the tourist class. The price of entry is, all things considered, extremely small, while in addition to seeing the expert dancing mentioned above a visitor can remain there as long as he pleases, the new Moulin Rogue being one of those establishments which remain open all night.

The theater of the new Moulin Rogue is well designed, and has comfortable seats which is more than can be said of some of the older places of amusement in Paris. The exit also is fairly adequate, though being at a right angle to the theater there would be an awkward corner to turn if a panic occurred. In connection with the exits of Parisian theaters and music halls a change for the worse has occurred since the last century in the dress of the Municipal Guards posted near the doors. The two soldiers in question used to present a very smart appearance in their helmets or shakos with a rifle or sword by their side. Today all is changed, the guards in question wearing undress uniform and a kepi and generally presenting a slovenly appearance compared with what they looked like in old days. In military costume and in manners the French have certainly deteriorated within recent years. The Republican régime seems to have made the people rougher and less considerate than of yore. The days, indeed, are gone when it was the boast of France she set the pattern on which all civilized nations modeled their code of etiquette. Much of the famed politeness of the French was no doubt merely superficial, but be this as it may, the country upon which they formerly prided themselves tended to make life in general go more smoothly than the rough manners which the modern working-class wrongly considers to be a sign of personal independence.

When the theater of the new Moulin Rogue opened with a new Revue the management got eight beautiful chorus girls over from New York, paying them forty dollars a week, including rehearsals, and guaranteeing their passage back to America. The experiment, however, was not a success, for the French chorus girls, who were only paid twenty-five francs a day, quarreled very fiercely with the American girls who had eventually to be sent home. As a matter of fa
ct, the usual pay of a French chorus girl is not much more than 15 francs a day, a sum of course which has to be supplemented in order to enable the poor things to live.

The French chorus girl, as a matter of fact, is usually a poor unattractive creature who merely poses in a more or less nude state in return for which she is shockingly paid. English girls, it may be added, always receive twice as much pay as French ones; sometimes a good deal more; their salaries indeed enable them to lead quite comfortable and respectable lives, whereas a French dancing girl could live not at all without a husband or a lover, one of which even the most ugly ones usually possess. There are no troupes of French girls in Paris. Possibly the innate dislike for discipline, which is part of the character of the nation, makes it impossible to train French girls to go through complicated evolutions with the military precision which distinguishes troupes from the English side of the Channel. Also a pretty Parisienne, of no matter what class, is not fond of tiring herself out with work. A successful member of the troupes which appear at the Casino de Paris and the Folies Bergeres has to keep herself in good training, and must be of robust physique, for in addition to having to throw her legs about, she is liable to be called upon to sing while dancing, or to dance while singing, which necessitates pretty strong lungs. She is also required when she speaks French to do so with the most pronounced English accent. Beauty, it may be added, is not an indispensable quality, but dancing girls must have impeccable legs and ankles.

A great drawback of engaging French chorus and dancing girls is that little reliance can be placed upon their attendance at rehearsals, besides which, if they are pretty, they are extremely apt to throw up their engagements at a moment's notice in order to please any wealthy admirer who wishes to withdraw them from the stage, As a social critic once euphemistically put it, the heart of most of these young ladies is not infrequently "liberalement ouvert aux amitiés les plus éphémèrs," with the result that a manager is never quite certain whether the best looking of his young ladies will hold to the terms of the contract which they may have signed. In former days, when the ballet greatly attracted Parisian viveurs, things were rather different, as old boulevardiers would come to see their favorites dance night after night. More than one these mature Don Juans, indeed, died in the theaters they loved, hurried, as it were, from their stall into the Elysium of which the coryphées they admired, had already given them a glimpse.

At the present day no first-class Parisian Revue seems to be complete without its troupe of English dancers — "Les Girls," as the programs call them having come to be regarded as an indispensable feature of the elaborate spectacles at Parisian music halls. The young ladies in question, it may be added, outside of their professional engagements, seem to lead very well ordered lives, never being seen at any of the free and easy resorts which are so popular with male visitors of their own country. As a matter of fact, they are almost without exception very respectable girls, besides which their moral welfare is carefully supervised, some troupes being accompanied by a chaperon of mature years, in addition to which they are looked after by the Reverend F. Anstruther Cardew, Chaplain of St. George's English Church in Paris, who has founded the "Theater Girls' Hostel," where about forty English dancing girls sleep and some three or four hundred are able to find the comforts of a comfortable home at a hostel, composed of two houses in the Rue Duperré in Montmartre. This Theater Girls' Hostel, as it is called, is not a charitable institution, the girls using it having to pay all they can afford for what they get. But prices are high, and most of the dancers send much of their salaries home to their families. Thanks to Mr. Cardew and his friends, the Theater Girls' Hostel (Cardew Foundation) now owns the houses, and the company has spent a great deal of money on repairing and doing them up. But the houses are old and need still more attention and upkeep. A large and competent staff is necessary, because during rehearsals and other times of stress tired girls keep coming in all through the night and the small hours hungry for good hot food. Another story or two is needed to enlarge this Hostel while a good endowment fund is wanted to make its work thoroughly efficient, for which reason English visitors to Paris will do well to send the Reverend Mr. Cardew at 7 Rue Auguste Vacquerie, a large or even a small check. The Hostel, it may be added, though a Church of England establishment, opens its arms wide to girls of any religion or of none at all, who within its portals are given excellent advice as to contracts, salary and other details which require a knowledge of law and professional custom. Mr. Cardew, it may be added, is a Chaplain of the Actors' Church Union, a more successful body than the defunct Church and Stage Guild once cynically described as "an attempt to make reluctant ballet girls drink weak tea."

The Sisters Rowe

Nothing like the Cardew Hostel, it may be added, has ever been started for French girls. As a matter of fact, the stage in Paris having never been associated with rigid virtue, the Parisians cannot quite understand the austere moral tone affected by theatrical damsels from across the Channel.

"It is amusing," recently wrote a cynical French journalist, "to observe that extreme propriety which seems rather to have gone out of fashion in high Society, and shows a tendency to make its home among the little darlings who nightly may be seen wearing very abbreviated skirts. Formerly when a Lothario among the audience sent a dancer some flowers and a note the latter was not apt to resent his proposals. Today if anyone ventures to send a note to an English girl he ought to realize that it will not allow the damsel under his charge to reply to anything which is not a proposal of marriage."

The French are not very appreciative of protestations of morality on the part of the theatrical profession or of a puritanical attitude on the part of an audience. In Parisian estimation, indeed, raising an outcry about doubtful jokes or lack of clothes is a mere stupid affectation indulged in by Anglo-Saxon prudes either to attract attention or to show how superior their own morality is to that of other people — a boring pose in short, which intelligent men and women should despise. Be this as it may, it is certain great Parisian music-halls is put on entirely for the delectation of foreign visitors, who, after having made a point of taking seats, always declare they will never come again, or in some cases actually leave the theater while the performance is going on — to show everyone how proper they are. Why, however, any woman should be shocked at seeing other women without clothes on, the Parisians, who are an extremely logical people, cannot at all make out? The sight of a naked man would be a different thing altogether, but as nothing of this kind is to be seen on the French stage there is absolutely no excuse for the ridiculous and meaningless prudery which English and American women are apt to display. As a matter of fact, the great majority of Anglo-Saxon females, cold by disposition and training, have a curious sort of morality of their own, which they themselves do not quite understand. Much of this depends upon an exaggerated respect for what other people may think, there being a sort of saving clause connected with it which lays down that nothing really matters provided there be a certainty that no one will find you out!

The relations between Church and Stage in France are not cordial or close. The clergy have not forgotten or forgiven Molière while the theatrical profession for years smarted under the refusal of the Roman Catholic Church to allow actors and actresses to be buried in consecrated ground. Public indignation as to this reached a climax during the reign of Louis XVIII, when the priests refused to give Christian burial to the remains of a popular actress, Mademoiselle Raucour. The latter, who had long retired from the stage, died in January 1815, without receiving the absolution necessary to remove the excommunication normally lying on players. Her remains were conveyed, for the celebration of the usual rites preceding burial, to the Church of St. Roch in the Rue St. Honoré, the funeral procession comprising a large number of carriages, and being followed by an immense concourse of persons. On the arrival of the cortege at St. Roch the gates were found to be locked, and the bearers of the bier were peremptorily refused admittance. A great tumult arose, and ultimately the doors were forced open; but no priest made his appearance. The crowd and the riot increasing, a messenger was sent to the Tuileries to implore the king, Louis XVIII, to interfere by ordering the recalcitrant clergy to perform the required rites: His Majesty, however, declined to interfere in a manner which, in the Royal opinion, pertained exclusively to the spiritual jurisdiction. Upon this the actors and actresses of the principal theaters of Paris, headed by the company of the Comédie Française, addressed a communication of the Archbishop of Paris, stating that if the corpse of Mademoiselle Raucour did not at once receive Christian interment they would forthwith renounce the Roman Catholic religion and become Protestants. This ultimatum frightened the priests, who acting on the advice of Royalty, eventually gave way; a funeral Mass was sung over the coffin; and poor Mademoiselle Raucour was buried in consecrated ground in the presence of some thirty thousand people, who shouted, "À bas les calottes! À bas les calottes!"

In spite of the severe attitude formerly adopted towards the stage by the Roman Catholic Church the drama in France, as in England, took its rise from the mysteries or miracle plays produced under the supervision of priests who accorded a good deal of license to the performers.

In Paris a company was formed in the reign of Charles VI, which took the name of Confrères de la Passion, and for a long period played with such success. Nevertheless with sacred subjects they associated loose gestures and licentious allusions of a most surprising description. Eventually the interest inspired by the novelty of the performances given by the Confrères de la Passion having subsided, they united with a new troop called Les Enfants sans Souci, who acted farces enlivened with songs. About the year 1750 several Italian companies came to Paris, but their plays exciting the jealousy of the Confrères de la Passion, whose privileges were always highly respected by the Parlement, their continuance was not of long duration. Shortly afterwards the French stage began to assume a degree of importance which it had never before attained, and several dramatic writers, the most prolific of whom was Hardy, appeared about the time of Henry IV. Cardinal Richelieu caused two theaters to be erected in his palace, in which were performed tragedies, tradi-comedies, or heroic-comedies, composed by the cardinal with the assistance of Corneille, Rotrou, Colletet and others. About the year 1650, some young men, at the head of whom was Molière, undertook to form a company of itinerant actors, and erected a theater, which they called Théatre Illustre. In 1658, they performed before Louis XIV in the Salle des Gardes at the Louvre, who, being satisfied with the representation, gave them a gallery in the Hotel du Petit Bourbon for a theater. In 1660 they removed to the Théâtre du Palais Royal, built by Cardinal Richelieu, and assumed the title of troupe royale. Under the reigns of Louis XV and XVI, the number of theaters in Paris was considerably augmented. The privileges of the French comedians and the Opera being abolished at the Revolution, a great number of petty theaters were established in Paris. Napoleon formed the project of reducing them, and in 1807 issued a decree by which all the thirty theaters of Paris (except eight) were suppressed, some compensation being made to the others. After the Restoration, several new ones were opened, and the drama was regularly encouraged by Government, a certain sum being annually allotted out of the civil list for the support and assistance of various theaters. Till the reign of Louis XIV, no women appeared on the stage, but female characters were performed by men in women's attire; and until a much later period all characters were performed nearly in the dress worn at the court of the Sun King. Talma, it may be added, was the first actor who introduced the practice of wearing modern costume on the French stage.

It was in 1789 that the great actor (to the scandal of his comrades) in the character of Proculus appeared in Roman dress. The public, however, approved of the innovation and Talma won the day.

He died at No. 9 Rue de la Tour-des-Dames in 1826, of an internal malady, in the course of which a consultation of twelve doctors took place. "Talma's great misfortune," said a great medico who was not one of the twelve, "was that he was treated by so many medical men!"

The house in which the great actor lived is little changed since his day. On the panels of two doors allegorical paintings remain representing Tragedy and Comedy, History and Triumph; the present occupant, it may be added, has collected a number of prints and lithographs of Talma in his most famous roles which decorate the walls.

The study in which Talma worked still retains the alcove with mirrors where he used to rehearse his parts. The whole house, indeed, is full of interesting memories, while the pretty old-world grounds at the back, containing some good statuary, enhance the attractions of a charming and interesting retreat.


 
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