HotFreeBooks.com
Paris from the Earliest Period to the Present Day; Volume 1
by William Walton
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5
Home - Random Browse

"Release madame," said the president of the improvised tribunal. This was the signal for her execution. A little peruke-maker, Charlat, a drummer of the volunteers, struck off her cap with a blow of his pike, but in doing so he wounded her in the forehead; the sight of the flowing blood produced its usual effect upon the mob; they precipitated themselves upon her, "her breasts were cut off with a knife, she was stripped quite naked, Charlat opened her chest and took out her heart, then he mutilated her in the most secret part of her body." A certain Sieur Grison cut off her head; then the two wretches, taking on the ends of their pikes, one her head and the other her heart, set off down the Rue Saint-Antoine in the direction of the Temple, followed by an immense crowd, "dumb with astonishment." They carried the head into the shop of a coiffeur, who washed, combed, and powdered the blond hair. "Now," he said, "Antoinette will be able to recognize her." Then the procession proceeded in the direction of the Temple again; but by this time it began to be feared that, carried away by their excitement, the cut-throats might inflict the same fate upon the royal family confined there, and the Commune sent hastily some commissioners, girded with large tricolored sashes. When Grison and Charlat arrived, they demanded permission to promenade under the windows of the apartments occupied by the king and queen, which was immediately granted them, and the king was even requested to go to the window at the moment when the livid head of the princess was elevated in front of him. "The march was continued throughout Paris, without any one interposing any obstacle. The head was carried to the Palais-Royal, and the Duc d'Orleans, who was then at table, was obliged to rise, to go to the balcony, and to salute the assassins."

The only relief to be found in the perusal of these chronicles is in some incident in which the executioners turn on each other. Among the most vociferous of the "citizenesses" was the belle Liegeoise, called also la belle Theroigne de Mericourt, and the premiere amazone de la Liberte. From the garden of the Tuileries, the usual scene of her orations, she one day ascended to the terrace of the Feuillants, where she fell into the hands of the women of the party of the Montagne, who surrounded her, trussed up her petticoats, and gave her a public whipping. The "first amazon of Liberty" screamed, shrieked, but no one came to her rescue, and when her persecutors finally released her, it was found that she had lost her reason, and it was necessary to conduct her to an insane asylum in the Faubourg Saint-Marceau.



All the chronicles of the times devote a paragraph to the "Furies of the Guillotine," the terrible women who habitually occupied the front places among the spectators at all the executions, and who interrupted their knitting only to hurl insults at the victims who mounted the scaffold. These tricoteuses affected an exalted Revolutionary sentiment, they wore the red cap of liberty, and one day presented themselves at the Convention with an address in which they offered to mount guard while the men went off to combat in the armies on the frontier.

At the great gate of the Tuileries, between the two marble horses of Coustou, was a cafe-restaurant, painted a lively red, and which bore the sign: "A la Guillotine." "Needless to say, that the establishment was always full of customers." During the two years in which the instrument of public executions stood permanently on the Place de la Revolution, on the site of the present obelisk in the Place de la Concorde, so much blood was shed there that, it is said, a herd of cattle refused to cross the Seine on the bridge, terrified at the stale odor of slaughter. By the side of the scaffold was a hole destined to receive the blood of the victims, but this diffused such an infection through the air that "the citizen Coffinet thought it would be advantageous to establish, on a little two-wheeled barrow, a casket lined with lead to receive the blood, which might then be transported to the fosse commune."

On the 16th of September, 1797, the Central Bureau, "justly indignant at the debauchery and at the offences constantly committed against the public morality, whether by the impudent exhibition of books and pictures the most obscene, or by the prodigious multiplicity of women and girl prostitutes, or by the indecent masquerading of a great number of women in men's garments," issued a rigorous decree against all women who were found disguised as men, and very many arrests were made in consequence.

When Louis XVIII made his solemn entry into Paris on the 3d of May, 1814, it was in the midst of the popular acclamations; a numerous and very enthusiastic crowd swarmed in the Carrousel, the court of the chateau, the garden and the terraces, "this same crowd which, on the 10th of August, 1792, filled the air with its imprecations against Capet, which, on the 2d of December, 1804, acclaimed the Emperor and the Empress, and which, on this occasion, welcomed with cries of joy the orphan of the Temple after having applauded the decapitation of his father and his mother." When this same populace, turned Republican again, thronged along the boulevards and into the Place Vendome in 1831, singing the Marseillaise, Marechal Lobau, unwilling to fire on them, contented himself by ordering the hose of the fire-pumps turned on them, and deluging indiscriminately conspirators, orators on the public place, and spectators. "The Republicans had demonstrated on many occasions that they did not fear fire. But, like all Parisians, they detested water. Surprised at these unexpected douches, they fled in every direction, and the Place Vendome was immediately cleared."

Well might Napoleon declare, repeating Rabelais's word, on one of the many occasions of popular manifestation: "This is not the first time that I have had occasion to remark that the population of Paris is only a ramas de badauds."

The poissardes, or fish-women of the Halles, those "commeres fortes en gueule" (shrill-voiced gossips), appear almost as frequently in these police and scandalous chronicles as the courtesans. They are frequently mentioned in the mediaeval records; under Louis XIII, they and their resort were considered worthy of the following description: "You will see at the Halles a multitude of rascals who amuse themselves only by pillaging and robbing each other, sellers as well as buyers, by cutting their purses, searching in their hottes and baskets; others, in order to better secure their prey, will sing dishonest songs and dirty ones, sometimes one and sometimes the other, without any regard for either Sundays or fete days,—things deplorable in a city of Paris! In the Halles and other usual markets, you may see women who sell provisions; if you offer them less than they want, were you the most renowned person in France, there you will be immediately blazoned with every possible insult, imprecation, malediction, dishonor, and the whole with an accompaniment of oaths and blasphemies."

(The same author, speaking of the shop-keepers of Paris at this epoch, says: "They will damn themselves for a liard, gaining on their merchandise the double of what it has cost them, selling bad goods, and blaspheming and swearing by God and the Devil that they are excellent.")

In 1716, Jean-Francois Gruet, inspector of police and mounted huissier of the Chatelet, was condemned to the pillory of the Halles for malversation of funds, and the poissardes manifested themselves on this occasion in front of him in great shape: "Huissier du diable! Gueule de chien! jardin a poux, grenier a puces, sac a vin, mousquetaire de Piquepuce, aumonier du cheval de bronze, poulet dinde de la Rapee," etc., until they were too hoarse to continue. In 1784, the winter began by heavy frosts, which were followed by a sudden thaw which flooded the city. "Paris has become a sewer; communication has been absolutely interrupted between the inhabitants, and for several days past there have been on foot only those who were compelled to it by necessity, by their occupation, or by their duty. Arms and legs broken, and many other accidents, have been the results of this intemperance of the season. In the midst of this species of public calamity, there are those who find entertainment in it, occasion for mirth, and much laughter. In the first place, there have been unlimited opportunities for sled races, and, also, there has been offered to the amateurs a more novel and more piquant spectacle. You went to the Halles to see the poissardes in boots, in breeches, their under-petticoats trussed up to their navels, and exercising their trade in this species of masquerade while redoubling their quirks and their scandalous jests."

Nevertheless, so important was their corporation, that, on the birth of the dauphin, in 1781, they were admitted in a body to compliment the king, to whom they were formally presented by the Duc de Cosse, Governor of Paris. The spokeswoman had her discourse written out on her fan, and read it to his Majesty. They were all dressed in black, and they were all, to the number of a hundred and fifty, invited by him to dinner and to present their compliments also to the queen. They had at first manifested some reluctance to accepting these royal hospitalities; the last time they had been to Versailles on a similar mission, some evilly-disposed person had inserted in the tarts and pates some indigestible substances "and dishonest things." The lieutenant of police, however, assured them that this time nothing of the kind would occur, and they were, in fact, treated sumptuously.

But, "the emeute had established itself permanently in Paris, and its effects were disastrous. This condition of intermittent political fever which threatened to become continuous, paralyzed business, ruined commerce, and filled all minds with keen anxiety." "The people became accustomed to substituting sudden overturnings for the regular action of institutions," says another historian, "...a habit which has cost us twenty revolutions in eighty years. England has proceeded differently. Since 1688, she has had, instead of bloody revolutions, only changes in the ministry;—everyone, high as well as low, has, with her, manifested respect for the law, and everything has been left to free discussion,—force is never used." And a later student of the Mouvement Social, M. Jules Roche, quoted in the issue of La Reforme Sociale for May 16, 1898: "Every country well governed develops from an economical, industrial, commercial, financial, and political point of view. All those projects necessary to the grandeur and the prosperity of the nation are conceived, decided upon, carried out. At this time, France, so munificently endowed, enriched by all the favors of nature, inhabited by the race the most intelligent, the richest in resources of the mind and the imagination, is delivered over to hazards the most unforeseen and the most dangerous. No one knows in the evening what will happen the next morning, nor in the morning how the day will finish. There is no doctrine, no method whatever, in the direction of public affairs. A Chamber possessed by the electoral epilepsy; charlatans without shame abandoning themselves before the electors to every contortion, to the grossest declamations, to the most shameful manoeuvres, in order to lead public opinion still further astray, instead of enlightening it,—this is the spectacle she presents to the universe. And there is no one to speak out aloud, frankly, and clearly! Silence, envy, cowardice, imbecility, where there should be courage, living reason, and action!" It might be thought that this gloomy presentation lacked in consistency,—this method of government could scarcely be practised by "the most intelligent race."

The street revolutions of 1831 and 1848, which finally expelled from power the royal houses of Bourbon and Orleans, presented the usual characteristics of these popular uprisings in the capital, in the result of which the nation always acquiesced meekly. One of the most senseless of the acts of excess in the former is illustrated in our engraving of the pillage of the archbishop's house, February 15, 1831, from an unpublished design by Raffet, in the possession of M. Cain, the sculptor. The mob had, the evening before, sacked the church and the presbytere of Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois, and on this day, incited to higher game, they broke into the residence of the archbishop, adjoining Notre-Dame. Everything was broken, overturned, flung out of the windows and into the Seine, rare books, precious manuscripts, rich crucifixes, missals, chasubles,—"that which was, on this day of folly, lost for art and science is incalculable." The heart of Louis XVI, which the doctor Pelletan had placed in a leaden box, sealed with his own seal, and presented to Monseigneur Quelen, was thrown into the river. Louis Blanc, in his Histoire de dix ans, relates that Monsieur Thiers, sous-secretaire d'Etat in the ministry of finance, was seen walking about amidst this ruin with a satisfied countenance and a smile upon his lips.



The bodies of the first victims of the revolution of February, 1848, killed in a collision with a detachment of the 14th regiment of the line, were placed in an open car and paraded through the streets at night by the light of torches, to excite the fury of the populace. "They are assassins who have struck us down; we will avenge ourselves! Arms! give us arms!" The death-chariot, escorted by the crowd, proceeded to the office of the National, where the procession was harangued by M. Garnier-Pages, and then to the Rue Montmartre, to the office of another liberal journal, La Reforme. "A man standing in the cart, his feet in the blood, lifted from time to time in his arms the body of a woman, showed it to the people, and then deposited it again on the heap of dead which made for it a gory couch." About two o'clock in the morning, this funeral cortege deposited the corpses at the Mairie of the IVth Arrondissement, and the rest of the night was spent in preparation for the combat of the morrow.

After the revolution of 1831 came the cholera, and as though the pestilence in itself was not a sufficient evil, the ignorant populace, surprised by its sudden outbreak and not comprehending the possibility of such an epidemic, conceived the idea that it was a fiction concocted to cover a system of wholesale poisonings by the police. The prefet de police, Gisquet, in his Memoires, gives a detailed account of the various methods employed by organized bands of from fifty to a hundred men to scatter perfectly harmless substances in the wells, in the streets, in articles of food and drink, in order to increase this panic. "A young child was accosted on the Pont-Neuf by an individual who handed to her a vial containing some liquid and gave her twenty sous to go and empty it into the fountain of the Place de l'Ecole, recommending her to use every precaution to avoid being seen doing so. The child, instead of executing this commission, went and related the story to her mother. Immediately the whole quarter was in an uproar. Crowds assembled in the streets, but some good citizens succeeded in calming the excitement. The flask was carried to the prefecture de police, and it was discovered that its contents were nothing but melissa." In eighteen days, more than twenty thousand persons had been attacked by the malady and more than seven thousand had perished; every one that could, fled the city; there were not enough coffins, not enough hearses, not enough grave-diggers for the dead. The streets were filled with the dying and with corpses; riots broke out, and "the authorities, on the 5th of May, massacred the youths who had crowned with immortelles the Imperial eagles of the Place Vendome. The police, for their part, instigated an emeute and smothered it in blood." Among the more illustrious victims of the plague were the Minister Casimir-Perier and General Lamarque; the funeral of the latter was made the occasion of a formidable popular manifestation and insurrection which was only put down after hard fighting and the declaration of a state of siege at the instigation of M. Thiers.

Even in the very first days of the new Republic of 1848 the popular discontent broke out afresh. Clubs were formed all over the city; the most violent harangues were made against the bourgeoisie; the words "communism" and "socialism" began to replace "fraternity"; numerous failures occurred in all the business quarters, and all the strangers left the city. Crowds paraded the streets crying, "A bas les aristos!" the last being a new word invented to designate the bourgeoisie, and the latter, strengthened by the workmen in blouses, to the number of a hundred thousand men, made a counter-demonstration, singing the Marseillaise. In 1850, on the eve of the Coup d'Etat, "a profound discouragement prevailed among the bourgeoisie. The sudden fall in public securities, the rise in the premium on gold, the significant increase in the purchase of foreign bonds, the departure of the numerous strangers who had come to Paris to pass the season, the diminution, more marked even than in the preceding month, in all industrial and commercial transactions,—such were the symptoms of that confidence which was to effect the conciliation of the electors."

The events of the first three or four days of December, 1851, justified only too well these apprehensions, and have been but too frequently related by indignant historians. "It was a sinister and inexpressible moment," says the author of Napoleon le Petit,—"cries, arms lifted toward Heaven, the surprise, the terror, the crowd flying in every direction, a hail of bullets, from the pavements even to the roofs, and in a minute the dead strewing the street, young men falling, their cigars still in their mouths, ladies in velvet dresses killed by the musketry, two booksellers shot on the threshold of their shops without even knowing what was wanted of them, bullets fired into cellar-windows and killing no matter whom, the Bazar de l'Industrie riddled with shell and balls, the Hotel Sallandrouze bombarded, the Maison-d'Or mitrailleused, Tortoni taken by assault, hundreds of corpses on the Boulevard, a stream of blood in the Rue Richelieu!"

Under the new Empire, Paris saw itself almost transformed by the opening of wide and direct avenues of communication, the suppression of gloomy and insalubrious quarters, the completion of the Louvre, the construction of the Halles, the erection of churches, schools, mairies, and the laying out of public gardens and promenades. Six hundred kilometres of sewers were provided for the drainage of the capital, and the Bois de Boulogne and de Vincennes greatly embellished. The working-classes were still disturbed by vague discussions over social questions, and by souvenirs of the Republic; but the bourgeoisie, enriched by the public security and liberty of trade, desired only the continuance of order and a somewhat more liberal administration of public affairs. The condition of many parts of the city, as revealed by a number of official investigations after the Revolution of 1848, was indeed deplorable. "A third only of the working-classes live under conditions approaching hygienic ones, the remainder are in a frightful state; forty thousand men and six thousand women are lodged in Paris in furnished houses which are for the greater part nothing but damp hovels, scarcely ventilated, badly kept, containing chambers in which are eight or ten beds pressed one against another, and in which several persons sleep together in the same bed." The immediate effects of the opening of Baron Haussmann's magnificent new boulevards were in many cases disastrous for the workmen and for the poorer classes, who found themselves compelled, by the destruction of their old lodgings, and the increase in rents and daily expenses, to seek shelter in the suburbs, and in the quartiers eccentriques; the Expositions Universelles also served to increase permanently the cost of living, as they have always done since, and in other cities than Paris. On the other hand, the cost of clothing was considerably diminished, and the workingman was never so well arrayed as in the first years of the Second Empire.

The dubious antecedents of the third Napoleon exposed him to even more than the usual hatreds and perils of crowned heads, and the number of plots against his life rivalled even those of the attempted assassinations of Louis-Philippe, one of the most unlucky of sovereigns in this respect. The Emperor has been accused of having been a member of the Italian secret society of the Carbonari in his youth; the Italian war of 1859 has been said to have been rendered imperative by his former oaths, and the frightful affair of the Opera-house on the evening of January 14, 1858, appears to have been the work of this political and revolutionary society. On this gala night, Massol was to bid adieu to the stage, and Madame Ristori was to appear in three acts of Marie Tudor, followed by an act of Guillaume Tell and a scene from the Muette. The house was brilliantly illuminated, both the exterior and the interior, and thronged by an eager audience waiting for the arrival of the Emperor and the Empress; at half-past eight the Imperial cortege appeared, descending the boulevards at a trot and turning into the Rue Le Peletier. In the first two carriages were seated the chamberlains and officers of the crown, and in the third the Imperial couple, escorted by a peloton of lancers of the Guard, the lieutenant commanding which rode close by the right side of the coach, while a marechal des logis chef rode on the left side. The three vehicles slackened their speed to turn into the vaulted passage, under the marquise, which conducted to the stairway newly constructed for the use of the sovereign, and at this instant a bomb fell in the midst of the cortege and exploded. All the lights were extinguished by the concussion, the glass of the marquise of the theatre and that of the windows of the neighboring houses, from the cellars to the mansards, flew in splinters, the street was covered with the dead and wounded, and the terrified horses of the lancers, bolting in every direction, added to the confusion and terror. A few seconds later, a second bomb fell under the horses of the Imperial carriage, killing them, and a third, directly under the carriage itself.

At the first explosion, the Emperor had attempted to leave his carriage by the door on the right, on the side of the peristyle of the Opera, but this door, jammed in its frame by the terrible shock, refused to open. While he was hesitating to attempt to descend by the other door, which opened on the street in which the assassins were probably stationed, a haggard and bloody countenance presented itself at the opening. It proved to be that of a brigadier of the secret police, Alessandri, one of the most devoted of the Imperial agents; beside it presently showed themselves the faces of M. Lanet, commissaire of the section of the Opera, a police officer, Hebert, MM. Royer and Vaez, directors of the Opera, and General Roguet. The latter, who had been seated on the box of the Imperial carriage, had received a violent contusion on the neck, from which an enormous quantity of blood escaped. The lieutenant commanding the escort hastily assembled those of his men whom the flying projectiles had spared, and behind this friendly human wall the Emperor and the Empress finally ventured to leave their vehicle, and hastened into the Opera-house. Neither of them were injured, though the former had a hole through his hat, and his forehead was lightly cut by a piece of flying glass. His carriage was riddled by seventy-six projectiles, and he owed his life only to the fact that the panels were all lined with iron.

A hundred and fifty-six persons were killed and wounded by the three bombs; the pavement, the sidewalks, and the front of the Opera-house were pitted with holes and splashed with blood. All the issues of the Rue Le Peletier were closed almost immediately after the explosions, and a prompt descent was made on the restaurant and little garden, immediately opposite the Opera-house, which was kept by an Italian named Broggi. Here those of his companions who were at odds with fortune were in the habit of assembling, and here a waiter named Diot found on a table a pistol and beside it a man who was ostentatiously weeping. When questioned, he gave his name as Swiney, declared he was the servant of an Englishman named Allsop, a brewer, who lived at No. 10, Rue du Mont-Thabor, and that he wept because he feared his master had been killed. The real name of Swiney was Gomez, and that of his master, Allsop, was Orsini; the latter, who had been wounded by his own bomb, was arrested as he was walking peacefully away. He had the assurance to write a long letter to the Emperor from Mazas prison, after his trial, in which, while making no appeal for his own life, he interceded for the independence of Italy, without which, he asserted, "the tranquillity of Europe and that of your Majesty will be but chimeras." He admitted having brought the bombs from England and charged them with fulminating powder, but denied having thrown any of them; he was guillotined on the 13th of March, with his accomplice, Pieri,—Orsini crying with his last breath: "Vive l'Italie! Vive la France!" Gomez was condemned to hard labor for life.



"In 1867," says a historian, "France believed herself invincible. The capital of capitals surpassed the splendors of all other cities, ancient and modern. It was a bedazzlement, a fairy spectacle. But a time was approaching when a bloody and funereal vail was to be suddenly thrown over so many more than Babylonian magnificences, and in which the great city, so proud of her riches and her glory, was to have no other ceremonial than the overthrow of the Vendome column by French hands in the face of the Prussians."

By the 18th of September, 1870, the siege of Paris by the Germans was formally opened, and yet, on that date, the author of the Journal du Siege declares the capital to be "the most strange and the most marvellous city. On the eve of combat she still preserves her unalterable gaiety, still sings, and strews flowers in front of the soldiers. It is because her resolution is firmly taken, and that she awaits the attack with a firm stand and a valiant heart. To-day, it is a festival Sunday indeed;—on every side is animation, enthusiasm, life. We have made the tour of the boulevards; we have traversed the Champs-Elysees, the Rue de Rivoli, the quais. Everywhere there are tranquil countenances, and everywhere the Sunday crowd, gay, in no way impressed, nowise dejected, as the despatches to foreign journals assert.... The little street industries have not ceased; the tight-rope dancers continue their performances tranquilly in the midst of the military groups. If the Prussian spies were there, they could have heard, as we did, the converse of this valiant and joyous population, which waits only for a signal to hasten to the ramparts, and which has lost nothing of its complete self-assurance of the great days."



Two months later, the picture had become somewhat more sombre. M. Edouard Dangin writes: "Paris has become a veritable city of war. At seven o'clock in the morning, before all the gates of the city, the guard is under arms, the drum beats aux champs, the portcullis is lowered. It is the opening of the gates. At eight o'clock, in all the quarters of the city, the rappel is beaten, all the citizen soldiers who are to relieve the guard on the ramparts and on the minor posts are called to arms. Others are called out for the drill; there are, however, some quarters in which there is no drill in the mornings. The crowd commences to form in line before the butcher-shops in which beef and horse-flesh are sold, even before the doors are opened, then it becomes more numerous; the housekeepers press against each other, crowd and jostle. The men hasten to the different kiosques and purchase the newspapers, to learn the news of the morning. At noon, the distributions are all made; calm reigns, Paris is taking its dejeuner.... Toward half-past three the rappel is heard again in various quarters,—it is the evening drill. From all the houses issue the national guards, their muskets on their shoulders. At five o'clock, the drums beat aux champs again before all the gates and the portcullis is raised. Paris is closed. The Parisians return home for dinner. The greater number of them go to bed early. Some of them go in the evening to take a little promenade, whilst others, who have not lost their cafe habits, commence, by the light of gas, games of dominoes which they finish by candle-light. In the streets, there are no cries, no drunkards, almost no more petites dames, nor others who lodge in houses and accost the passer-by too much preoccupied to reply to them. After eleven o'clock, silence prevails in the streets and the darkness deepens, because it is necessary to save gas."

Finally, the Germans entered the capital, and the population became more patriotic than ever. "The vanquishers, enclosed in their restricted zone, looked with astonishment at the grand city indomitable, whose superb monuments were seen in profile against the horizon. Those who showed themselves at the windows were hooted.... Women accused of having smiled on the enemy were whipped. Those unfortunate honest women who were wrong enough to inhabit the quarters occupied, or, perhaps, to be curious, were subjected to the same fate as the street-walkers. The ferocity of the populace began to manifest itself."

"It was much remarked that the German officers had all new uniforms, and that they all held in their hands plans of Paris. Their soldiers, frightfully dirty, prepared their meals in the open air, whilst the noisy fanfares of their military music were greeted by the hootings and hissings of the spectators. The stone statues of the Place de la Concorde, veiled in black by unknown hands, did not see the soiling of Paris. The Arch of Triumph of the Place de l'Etoile had been barricaded and obstructed in such a manner that the Germans could not pass under it. The triumphal monument remained virgin of this defilement. In the evening, Paris assumed the aspect, strange and prodigious, of a city asleep. Nowhere were there any lights, rare pedestrians, no omnibuses, no carriages. The footsteps of a patrol which resounded rhythmical and sonorous in the distance, and the qui vive? of the sentinels, alone came to break the mournful silence which hung over the capital. The long line of boulevards, black and sombre, displayed the mourning of the city. Paris was superb in her suffering."



It may be remembered that the number of German troops admitted into the city was restricted by the terms of the capitulation to thirty thousand, the entrance to be made at ten o'clock on the morning of the 1st of March, 1871, and the district occupied by them to be limited to the space between the Seine and the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine, from the Place de la Concorde to the Quartier des Ternes. The evacuation was to take place immediately after the ratification of the preliminaries of the treaty of peace by the Assemblee Nationale. On the appointed morning all the public edifices, even the Bourse, were closed, as well as the great majority of the cafes and restaurants. All the battalions of the National Guard were under arms in their various quarters, their standards draped in crape, in the streets and on the various mairies black flags were displayed, and on many shutters might be read inscriptions: "Closed on account of the national mourning," or, "because of the public grief." On the boulevards, opposite the new Opera-house, and on all the streets leading down to the Place de la Concorde and the Champs-Elysees, detachments of the National Guard were stationed who prevented from passing any person wearing a uniform, or even a kepi or pantaloons with a red stripe. The Rue Royale, from the Madeleine to the Place de la Concorde, was barred in the middle of its length by artillery caissons, and the Rue and the Faubourg Saint-Honore were patrolled by strong detachments of the Chasseurs d'Afrique and mounted gendarmes. But in the afternoon the sun came out, and, according to M. Claretie, "the appearance of Paris, alas! became quite different from that of the morning. The population, carried away by an unwholesome curiosity, and aware that the entrance of the enemy had occasioned no disorder, decided to come out in the streets." The next day the Germans wished to visit the Louvre and the Invalides, but the sight of Prussian uniforms under the colonnade of the Louvre produced such an effect on the populace, it is said, that the French general Vinoy informed the German general von Kammecke that if his soldiers entered the Invalides he would not be responsible for the public peace,—and the Prussian officer abandoned the attempt.

If the Prussians had remained in Paris, the public peace would have been much better preserved. On the heels of their withdrawal came the Commune, and within three weeks the condition of the city had become such that the following is the official report of a quiet night, made to the Comite Central by "a Sieur Garnier d'Aubin, 'general de brigade, commandant de place du 18e arrondissement'":

"REPORT OF THE 20TH AND 21ST OF MARCH.

"Nothing new.

"I have received the reports of the different chiefs of the posts. The night has been calm and without incident.

"At five minutes past ten, two sergents de ville, disguised as bourgeois, were brought in by the francs-tireurs and immediately shot.

"At twenty minutes past midnight, a police officer, accused of having fired his revolver, was shot.

"At seven o'clock, a gendarme, brought in by the guard of the 28th, was shot."

"'The night was calm and without incidents,'" comments M. Gourdon de Genouillac, from whom we borrow many of these details, "and only four men were shot!"

The quality of the officers of this inchoate government may be judged from another contemporary document, inserted in L'Officiel of the 18th of May:

"Those officers of the general staff of the National Guard who have neglected their duties to banquet with filles de mauvaise vie, at the restaurant Peters, were arrested yesterday by order of the Committee of Public Safety. They have been sent to the Bicetre, with spades and picks, to work in the trenches. The women have been sent to Saint-Lazare to make sacks for containing earth."

One of the strongest characteristics of the Commune was its hatred and persecution of the clergy, manifested in a hundred acts, and culminating in the murder of the archbishop and the hostages. On the morning after the arrest of all the clergy of Montmartre, the following notice was posted on the doors of the church of Saint-Pierre:

"Whereas, the priests are bandits, and the haunts in which they have morally assassinated the masses, by bowing France under the claws of the infamous Bonaparte, Favre, and Trochu, are the churches,

"The civil delegate of the Carrieres of the ex-prefecture of police orders that the church of Saint-Pierre (Montmartre) shall be closed and decrees the arrest of the priests and the Ignorantins."

On the preceding day, the cathedral and the church of Saint-Laurent had been closed, and in the crypt of the latter were found a great number of human bones; some of these were arranged so as to constitute the skeletons of fourteen women which, it was asserted, had been sequestered by the priests of the church, outraged, and murdered. Great was the virtuous indignation, the bones were officially photographed by the photographer Carjat, all Paris went to see them, and the affair made such a noise that after the capture of the city by the Versailles troops and the restoration of order, it was officially investigated by a scientific commission, which reported through its chairman, M. Tardieu, that the bones were those of persons who had been buried for at least a hundred and fifty years.

Of the women of the Commune, M. Maxime du Camp draws the following unflattering picture: "They were wicked and cowardly. Utilized by the police of the Rigaults and the Ferres, they were pitiless in the search for refractory citizens who hid themselves that they might not have the shame of serving the Commune.... From the heights of the pulpits of the churches, converted into clubs, they poured out all the corruption of which their ignorance was full; with their shrill and yelping voices, in the midst of the smoke of pipes, to the accompaniment of vinous hiccoughs, they demanded 'their place in the sun, their rights as citizens, the equality which was refused them,' and other vague claims which concealed, perhaps, the secret dream which they put into practice shamelessly,—the plurality of husbands.

"They disguised themselves as soldiers; ... they 'manifested'; they assembled in bands, and, like the Tricoteuses, their grandmothers, they wished to go to Versailles 'chambarder la parlotte and hang Foutriquet the first.' They were all there, rushing about and squalling, the boarders of Saint-Lazare in vacation, the natives of the little Pologne and the great Bohemia, the sellers of tripe a la mode de Caen, the seamstresses for messieurs, the shirt-makers for men, the instructors for elder students, the maids of all work, the vestals of the temple of Mercury, and the virgins of Lourcine. That which was the most profoundly comic was that those escaped from the Dispensaire delighted in alluding to Joan of Arc and in comparing themselves to her.



"The Commune, without concerning itself about it, aided in this feminine uprising which emptied the houses with big street-numbers [houses of ill-fame] to the detriment of the public health and to the profit of the civil war. It knew how to resolve—this good Commune, composed of the sensible men that we know—it knew how to resolve, with one sole blow, the social problem which had troubled, for so many years, the administrators, the economists, the moralists, the philosophers, the doctors, and the legislators. It caused a paper to be pasted on the walls of Paris, and the great difficulty was solved forever. By a poster, well and duly stamped, it forbade prostitution. It was not any more difficult than that! The poor creatures liberated from all administrative regulation, from all sanitary control, did not wait to have it repeated; they spread themselves like a leprosy through the city, and when, reduced to poverty by the men who exploited them, they no longer had anything to eat, they donned the great-coat of the foot-soldier and went to the advance posts, where they were as formidable to their friends as to their adversaries.

"In the last days, all these belligerent viragoes fired from behind the barricades longer than did the men; very many of them were arrested, their hands black with powder, their shoulders bruised by the recoil of the musket, all excited still with the fever of battle. A thousand and fifty-one of them were conducted to Versailles, among whom were to be counted, according to the euphemism of the statistics, 'two hundred and forty-six celibataires under police surveillance.' As in the case of children, no undue severity was exercised, and eight hundred and fifty decisions of non-lieu were rendered in their favor; among the female prisoners, four were sent to insane asylums,—that was very little! For any student of possession, there is scarcely any room for doubt; nearly all the unfortunates who combatted for the Commune were that which science calls 'patients.'"

The last stand of the insurgents before the constantly advancing forces of Marshal MacMahon was made in the last days of May in the quarters Menilmontant and Popincourt and in the cemetery of Pere-Lachaise. The Buttes Chaumont were taken on the evening of the 27th; through the cemetery, around the tombstones, in the rain, the combat was waged with the bayonet, and without quarter. The marine infantry pursued the Communards into the vaults and killed every one they found. On the gray stones of the tombs could be seen for days afterwards the imprint of hands blackened with gunpowder and red with blood. In the quarries of Amerique, many of the last survivors killed themselves in despair. "The Seine for many days was filled with corpses, and the streets of Paris were only a slaughter-house." Two hundred and thirty-four buildings were destroyed, and the losses in property were estimated at a hundred and fourteen million francs.

The hideous virgins of the Commune are no longer in evidence, but they have been succeeded by a variety of their sex, in the idle and fashionable society of the present day, which, if we may believe a modern romancer, is sufficiently numerous to constitute a still more formidable menace. His story is put forth as a serious psychological study of Parisian manners and customs in certain walks of life; the interest, if not the approval, with which it has been received has been very marked, and the volume from which we quote is of the hundred and sixty-first edition. It is in much such a salon as M. Montzaigle has endeavored to paint that the explanation of these demi-vierges is furnished to his friend from the provinces by the critical Parisian man of the world:—"There have happened in Paris, within the last fifteen years, two grave events,—two kracks, as my brother the banker would say.... Firstly, the krack of modesty. Our epoch may be compared to the Latin decadence or to the Renaissance, in the matter of love. Our young girls (I refer to those of the idle world of pleasure) no longer serve naked at the table of the Medicis; they do not wear necklaces of representations of the generative organs; but they are as knowing in matters of love as those Florentines and those Roman women. Who troubles himself to refrain from speaking before them of the last scandal? To what theatrical representations are they not taken? What romances have they not read? And yet conversation, books, the theatre, these are only words.... There are at Paris, in the world of society, professors of defloration, men on the hunt for innocence: ... the first lesson is given to young girls on the evening of their first ball; the course is continued through the season; when the summer comes, the promiscuousness of the watering-places or the sea-beach will permit the professional deflorator to put the finishing touch to his work....

"The second krack is that of the dot, as pernicious for the modern virgin as that of modesty. There are no longer any innocent young girls, but there are, also, no more rich young girls. The millionaire gives two hundred thousand francs of dot to his daughter, that is to say, six thousand francs of income, that is to say, nothing, not even enough to hire a coupe by the month. Hence, in this respect, the young girl has never been dependent upon the man, and as she has but one weapon with which to conquer him—love—the mothers allow them to learn love as soon as possible, through maternal devotion.... Yes, through maternal devotion. In my opinion, the universal alteration in the type of the young girl of former times may be imputed, first of all, to the mothers of the present generation." ...M. Marcel Prevost justifies his unpleasant discourse on the plea that modern education tends more and more to develop the type "demi-vierge," and that, if the education of the young girl be not greatly modified, "Christian marriage will perish."

There has been no successful street revolution in Paris since the days of the Commune, but the terrible under-strata ever and anon break through the thin upper crust of society with some such outburst as that of the dynamite explosions of 1892 in the Boulevard Saint-Germain, in the caserne Lobau, and in the Rue de Clichy. On this occasion, the Paris Matin published the result of the official researches as to the locality of the various groups of anarchists in the city, from which it appeared that they were to be found in associations of greater or lesser numbers in the quartiers of the Bourse, of the Temple, of the Pantheon, of the fashionable Champs-Elysees, among the valets de chambre, the cooks, and the coachmen, and in the fourth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, fifteenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth arrondissements. In the quartiers of the Louvre, of the Luxembourg, and in the seventh, sixteenth, and seventeenth arrondissements, no organized groups existed. Their titles varied: L'Avant-garde cosmopolite, Le Reveil du quinzieme (arrondissement), La Bibliotheque socialiste, La Jeunesse anarchiste du vingtieme (arrondissement), La Jeunesse revolutionnaire and La Ligue des antipatriotes; their publications ranged from Le drapeau rouge [the red flag] to La Revolte and Henri Rocheforte's Intransigeant. The arrest of the chief dynamiter, Ravachol, was effected through the intelligence of a waiter named Lherot in the restaurant Very, on the Boulevard Magenta, of which we give a view, on Victor Hugo's authority that it is always interesting to look at a wall behind which we think something is happening.



Their haunts, or those of the desperate poverty and misery which tend to swell their ranks, may be represented by the Cabaret or Buvette du Pere Lunette or the Chateau Rouge, both of them threatened with demolishment for the last nine years, but still standing. The first, situated in one of the worst streets of old Paris, the Rue des Anglais, in the quartier of the Place Maubert, has been famous for forty years, having succeeded, as it were, to the evil renown of the Lapin blanc, in the Rue aux Feves, celebrated by Eugene Sue and believed to have dated from the reign of Pepin le Bref, and the cabaret of Paul Niquet, in the Rue aux Fers. The founder of the Pere Lunette, a Sieur Lefebvre, is said to have made a fortune by it. Its name is derived from a gigantic pair of spectacles (lunettes) hanging over the entrance-door, and another painted on the small window beside it. The whole small front of the establishment is of a deep red. Our illustration represents the inner sanctuary, to which the visitor attained by passing through an antechamber only slightly less characteristic. The walls are decorated by ignoble frescoes; on the disbursal of a franc for several litres of a species of wine, the stranger is admitted to the honors of the establishment, and there are duly unrolled for him six canvases hanging on the wall on which are figured various personages, Gambetta, Cassagnac, Prince Napoleon, and even the Pope, in various situations. The Rue des Anglais, at the present day, very short and narrow and irregular, is very clean and proper.

A large porte-cochere, surrounded by a red border, near the middle of the Rue Galande, opens under an arched passage-way into a small court, badly paved, at the bottom of which a few steps lead up to an entrance in a wall also painted red, and a glass door opens into the first apartment of the Chateau Rouge. This visit should be made between midnight and two o'clock in the morning, the hours at which the establishment is in its fullest activity. The first two rooms on the ground-floor are merely low drinking-places, crowded with both men and women; the second floor, reached by a narrow staircase, was formerly known familiarly to the inmates as the Salle des Morts or the Bataille de Champigny; at these hours it is strewn with motionless bodies, in various attitudes of uneasy slumber, and in various stages of squalid undress. As the visitor turns to descend, he will find the stairway blocked by the recumbent forms of late arrivals for whom no space has been left in this wretched dormitory. At two o'clock in the morning the establishment closes, and all the sleepers are aroused and turned out into the street. For this transient hospitality each of them pays two sous.

Curiously enough, the building seen at the left of the Chateau Rouge, with its balustraded stairway under the arch and its arched windows filled with innumerable little panes, was the residence of Gabrielle d'Estrees, the belle amie of Henri IV. It may still be seen, but the railing of the stairway at the present day is a simple iron one.

The Place Maubert, now forming part of the Boulevard Saint-Germain and ornamented by a statue of Etienne Dolet, was at the period shown in our illustration, in 1889, a rendezvous for the professionals of that peculiar street industry who are known as ramasseux de megots,—those highly unpleasant individuals who slouch about the cafes on the boulevards and pick up the butts of cigars and cigarettes. They claim to be several thousand in number, and they have definite hours for the exercise of their profession, hours in which their harvest is the greatest and just before the street-sweepers come along, at two o'clock in the morning, when the establishments close, at noon, and at nine o'clock in the evening. An industrious man, who has pretty good eyesight, may pick up a hundred to a hundred and fifty grammes of tobacco on each round. A good day's work will bring in as much as fifty sous; a rainy day, not more than twelve or fifteen. The best localities, which it is, of course, very important to know, are the surroundings of the Halle aux bles, the Bourse, the Louvre, the cafes on the boulevards, and in summer the public gardens and the crowds around the military bands. This tobacco which is thus saved from the street sweepings is—it is painful to relate—dried, assorted, made over again, and sold to other smokers. When one reflects on the quality of ordinary French tobacco at its best, this consideration tends to add another ease to death. And yet an ingenious chronicler, who extracted these details from a professional, declares that upon examining, with his eyes and his nose, a package of the best of this resuscitated weed, a package of "theatre," these faithful organs gave him no reason to suspect its origin. The theatre is made from londres exclusively, no cigarettes and no tabac de chique are allowed to enter in its composition; the two cheaper brands manufactured are le petit and le gros. There are special clients for this merchandise, ranging from the inmates of asylums for old men and the insane patients at Charenton to military men on insufficient pensions who make their purchases hurriedly and with anxious glances around. When the fine season opens, the ramasseur de megots who has collected a good winter harvest will issue from the city to sell his merchandise in the suburbs. In this irregular commerce he runs the risks of denunciation by the authorized bureaux de tabac, and of six months in prison, although his tobacco has once paid the regie, or tax.

All this world of the people, which ranges from M. Brispot's comfortable and respectable Bon Bourgeois, taking his summer ease in his court-yard, down to almost unknown depths, has its moments of leisure and takes its relaxation as well as its betters. Two of M. Vierge's characteristic sketches may serve to illustrate two of the more popular and more innocent methods,—the informal manner in which the frequenters of the Parc de Montsouris, on the line of the southern fortifications, dispose themselves on the grass, around the kiosque of the military band, to listen to the music, and a very characteristic feature of the popular observance of the fete of the 14th of July, the balls in the open street. At almost every important crossing or open space, not only in the so-called quartiers excentriques, but in such official neighborhoods as those of the Louvre and the Hotel de Ville, temporary bandstands are set up, and around them the people dance cheerfully, mostly in ungraceful waltzes, all the evening, and frequently all night. In front of the cafes in the popular quarters, the music of a violin or a hurdy-gurdy, or even of the dreadful organ of the "merry-go-rounds," or chevaux de bois, will furnish inspiration enough to perspiring couples who will repeatedly leave their beer or their sirop to revolve giddily on the pavement till, quite breathless, they return to their seats. All this is done with such frank simplicity and good nature, such a characteristically cheerful French appropriation of the public street for domestic purposes, that the foreigner, sitting looking on somewhat scornfully at first, gradually veers round to their point of view, and, if he be young enough, probably ends by being quite willing to get up and dance, himself, with some of these slim-waisted, pretty French maids.



As the official fete of 1898 had a new feature added to it, the celebration of the centennial of Michelet, it naturally took on still another diversion, that of the election of a Muse of Paris, selected from among the most beautiful young working-girls of the capital. Her official functions consisted in being crowned, in presiding at the ceremony before Michelet's bust, set up in front of the Hotel de Ville, and in strewing flowers before it. Then there was chanted before her: "Good people, Rich and poor, Hasten hither! Come all to admire, The Muse of Paris! She is a nice little working-girl, Whom the poet-kings of poverty, Have anointed queen of their chimeras," etc. The election of a queen of the washerwomen, or, rather, of a reine des blanchisseuses, has long been one of the important ceremonials of the Mi-careme festivities, and grotesque accounts are given of the intrigues, the rivalries, the heart-burnings, which this choice entails, of the adventures of the sovereign and her attendant ladies in assuming their somewhat unwonted toilettes for this great occasion, and of the still greater efforts of the garcons of the lavoirs to accoutre themselves as d'Artagnans and Henri III's. However, everything passes off for the best; and it is a dull lane that has no turning.

Among the less praiseworthy diversions, neither rat-baiting nor cock-fighting have much favor in Paris. A pair of game-cocks were imported from England in 1772, but the "sport" was not appreciated. In the country parts of France it is more practised; and one of the most important of the establishments, affected by the Parisians, devoted to the murderous combats of dogs and rodents, is the Ratier Club of Roubaix, whose modest wooden facade, rising at the back of a court which is entered through a sufficiently common-place cabaret, is shown in the illustration. On the left is a great lantern to light the dingy approach, and on the right, full of noise and tumult, the office and the weighing-stand. In the interior, the arrangements are those usually adopted,—the wooden benches are ranged around the parc, or pit, a large wire cage nearly five metres long and two and a quarter high, elevated on a platform about a metre from the floor. It has no top, but the upper portions of the walls present a smooth band of metal up which the rats cannot climb. The dog is introduced through a sliding door on the floor, and his antagonists are emptied from a box over the top. They are of three kinds, water-rats, sewer-rats, and granary-rats; the first are of a placid disposition and are rarely used; the last, in black, are the fiercest, and consequently the most desirable. The dogs are usually bull-dogs, fox-terriers, or a species with a scanty hair, called griffons; they are usually pitted against four rats at a time, and their prowess is according to the brevity of the time in which they dispose of them. There is a legend that one champion despatched a hundred rats in seventeen minutes, thirty seconds. A good dog will finish the four rats in ten or twelve seconds, notwithstanding their doublings and turnings, the speed with which they climb the wire trellis, and the fierceness with which they turn on him and fasten on his jaw. There are various methods of conducting these contests; the chasse a excitations, in which the proprietor of the dog is permitted to run around the cage and excite his animal by voice and gesture; that a la muette, in which he is strictly forbidden to make a sound or a sign; that a obstacles, in which the rodents are concealed under every second or third of a number of flower-pots reversed on the floor, or in which they are furnished with bundles of straw in which to seek refuge, or favored by an arrangement of partitions about a foot high, arranged in the manner of a Saint Andrew's cross, and over which the dog has to leap while they traverse them through small semicircular openings on a level with the floor. The dogs are classified by weight; the price of entry varies according to the variety of the chasse, and the sum of the prizes distributed sometimes amounts to as much as fifteen hundred francs.



As to the more aristocratic sport of horse-racing, we have already seen that the annually-recurring Grand Prix de Paris has been elevated to the dignity of a capital municipal institution. But it was early recognized that this diversion, which has attained such extraordinary development in the capital within the last twenty years, owed a very considerable proportion of its popularity to the facilities which it offered for gambling. The true sportsman's interest in the improvement of the equine race was by no means sufficiently widely diffused to maintain the hippodromes of the Societes de Course. This was abundantly demonstrated when, in the spring of 1887, the government forbade all betting on the race-course; the indifference of the public was promptly manifested by the great falling off in the attendance. At the end of a few weeks, it was found necessary to remove the restriction, but it was wished at the same time not to encourage the spirit of gambling, which threatened to affect all classes of society. The Pari Mutuel [mutual betting], which was accordingly authorized, offers to-day the only legal method of betting on the race-courses. It consists of a series of offices established on the tracks, where the public makes its bets on the horses running. It registers the bets, receives the money, and divides the winnings among those entitled to them. "A bettor wishes to stake fifty francs upon a horse which, we will say, is number six on the list; he goes to one of the five-franc bureaux, and asks for ten tickets on number six winning, or ten on number six 'placed.' He pays his fifty francs, receives ten tickets bearing the required number, and with the stipulation 'winning' or 'placed,' and he has no more to do but to wait the result of the race. If he win, as soon as the division is made he has only to present himself at the treasurer's office of the bureau where he made his bet, and he receives his winnings in exchange for his ten tickets." On all the operations there is deducted a tax of seven per cent. in the Parisian Societes de Courses,—one per cent. for breeding purposes, two for local charities, and four for the Societes themselves. The latter portion, which is six, eight, or ten per cent. in the provinces, is added to the sums gained from the entrance fees, and employed for the expenses, and to increase the prizes offered the following year.



At Longchamp there are about one hundred and fifty bureaux of the Pari Mutuel, and nearly twice as many on the day of the Grand-Prix. No bet is accepted under five francs, and there are special bureaux for ten, twenty, fifty, and even one hundred, and five hundred francs at the weighing-stand; the bets are of two kinds,—first, for the winning horse, and, second, for the horses "placed" one and two, when there are at least four horses running; one, two, and three, when there are at least eight. When two or more horses belong to the same proprietor and run in the same race, the Pari Mutuel gives the whole stable, that is to say, that if one of the horses of the stable wins the race the bets made upon the other horses of the stable, one or several, are paid as though laid upon the winning animal himself. This rule applies only to bets made upon one winner; for the places, it is not a question of the whole stable, and each horse is paid according to his order in arriving at the winning-post. When all the tickets are collected, the sum total of the bets is ascertained, the seven per cent. tax is deducted, and the sum remaining is divided among the winning tickets. For the places, there are four operations to be performed after the deduction of the seven per cent.,—first, to subtract from the sum to be divided the sum total of the bets upon the places. This operation has for its object to save the stake of the bettor and to guarantee him against the risks of receiving a sum less than he wagered; second, to divide the new sum thus obtained by two or by three, according as there are two or three places; third, to divide each half or each third proportionally to the number of bets on each place; fourth, to add the amount of the bet previously subtracted. All the employes of the Pari Mutuel are strictly forbidden to bet, themselves, under penalty of losing their situations; and the whole is under the control of the Minister of Agriculture and the inspectors of finances.

The establishment of this official regulation was speedily followed by the opening of unauthorized "pool-rooms" all over Paris, in cheap cabarets, tobacco-shops, coiffeurs' salons, anywhere, in which the general public were invited to come in and bet on any horse they chose, without any further concern about attending the races, and with the deduction of the smallest possible commission for the bureau, in some cases fifty or twenty-five centimes. These improvised agencies, in a great majority of cases, hold no communication whatever with the Societes, thus depriving them of their commissions, and offer their clients only the slightest guarantees of good faith. This abuse became so flagrant that the law had to be invoked.

The popular cafes, cabarets, buvettes, brasseries, chateaux, moulins, etc., are so numerous as to be entitled to a special chapter. One of the most famous, the Moulin de la Galette, of the Montmartre quarter, is here illustrated, with a touch of the picturesque. It may be reached by the Rue Lepic, more circuitous and possibly more safe than the acrobatic ladders which lead directly to its door. Its usual customers vary from workmen's families through many varieties of painters, strangers, filles, and marlous. Its dances are not of a kind to recommend themselves to the conventional. It is even customary, before each one, for each couple to pay four sous, and it is usually the lady who pays for her cavalier. The beer-shops, or brasseries,—"more properly embrasseries,"—were invented in the Latin Quarter, but have since multiplied more on the lower boulevards. It is asserted that they were better at the beginning; M. Maurice Barres declared at one time: "The brasserie a femmes is quite truly a salon." He appreciated them for the severe discipline maintained in them by the proprietor, or, at least, for the restraint imposed upon the more enterprising clients and servitors by the example of the others. "There was coquetry and flirtage, without much more." He considered this institution necessary; its influence was, in his opinion, beneficent. These superficial endearments, this amiable tone, this care to please which was there displayed, "relaxed the mind and restored the neglected faculties of our sensitiveness." Since then, he has asked himself whether the brasseries have changed or whether he has grown older. Certainly, the qualities which he discovered in them no longer exist. The institution does not seem necessary; the salon is usually a hole; the attendants appear to be the refuse of those places of entertainment the character of which is revealed by the unusual size of the house number over the entrance. Even the Parisian gilding of vice sometimes wears off.



More of these unfortunates, of various shades, may be seen displaying themselves in the open streets, in the public fiacres as in their salons, during the Carnival, and especially on the day of Mardi Gras,—arrayed as Pierrettes, clownesses, rosieres [winners of the prize of virtue], and avocats with very open robes, their bared arms and shoulders defying the weather. Their proper establishments are known by a great variety of appellations, the old word bordel being now considered gross. More commonly they are designated discreetly as Tolerances or Gros Numeros; in the popular slang they are claques or boxons. Many of them have special designations, as the celebrated Botte de paille mentioned by Edmond de Goncourt in his Fille Elisa; one of the noisiest was known as the Perroquet gris; and another, from its specialty, Au Telescope. "But at Paris all these maisons chaudes," says an expert in these matters, Rodolphe Darzens, "have a special physiognomy,—they are not, as in the provinces, discreet localities, with an atmosphere of familiar conventionality, in which the father brings his eldest son to pass the evening with the notary of the quarter and the pharmacien of the public square, in an interminable game of billiards or of piquet voleur. Houses very comme il faut, in which no incongruity would be tolerated, from which a Parisian was even chased one day for having pronounced a gross word. Neither do they resemble those vast establishments in the seaports or in the commercial cities, in which the rutting assumes a character of savage eagerness and of primitive fury.

"Excepting in the houses of the exterior quarters of the city which are frequented by soldiers and by coarse peasants, who quickly recover from their first bedazzlement at the fine salons ornamented with mirrors and gilding, illuminated by gas or by electricity, and in which the usual visitors are composed almost exclusively of workmen, which constitutes them rather a species of brasserie, the prostitution in Paris has been refined by luxury. The viveurs enter them, no longer to finish the night in them, but to pass a few minutes, to yawn and to drink champagne in the company of some young women lightly clad, indifferent and passive, pretty sometimes, bestial almost always. You can rarely avoid hearing confidentially from one of them her story, the eternal story of love betrayed. There are sometimes to be found among them some who have received a real education,—these speedily acquire an influence over their comrades, who listen to them, admire them, ask their advice. They are the queens of the household, and Madame treats with them on a footing of equality.

"Frequently an inmate of one of these convents of the Devil will seat herself at the piano, and then some revery of Chopin will rise, melancholy, through the air, while the tears will appear in the eyes of her hearers.



"When, 'finally alone,' to fill up their long leisure of waiting, they play never-ending games of ecarte, or, indeed, tell each other's fortunes by the cards, in the hope that the promises they read in them may be speedily realized, promises of a better life, outside of the cursed house, of meeting a monsieur very rich, of country parties, carriages, a little hotel, who knows? To see, perhaps,—a marriage.

"But a voice, interrupting these dreams, that of the imperious matron, orders curtly: 'To the salon, ladies!'"

The Parisian winter is an institution of which no good can be said. The tremendous, arctic cold of the United States is almost unknown, as is also the beautiful, clear, frosty weather; in their stead come an almost endless succession of gray, misty, unutterably damp days, with a searching, raw cold that penetrates even to the dividing asunder of bone and marrow. The dearness of fuel, and the totally inadequate heating arrangements in most houses, add to the cruel discomfort of this season, in which the poor always suffer greatly. The number of unemployed is always large, and among them are frequently to be found those accustomed to the comforts and refinements of life. A recent article in a Parisian journal describing the charitable distribution of hot soups by the organization of the Bouchee de pain [mouthful of bread] cites the instance of a lady among these applicants, so well dressed that the attendant thought it right to say to her: "Have you come through simple curiosity, madame? In that case, you should not diminish the portion of those who are hungry." The lady answered simply: "I am hungry." It appeared that she was an artist, had exhibited twice in the Salon, and yet was reduced to this necessity. This charitable organization is distinguished from most others by the fact that it asks no questions and imposes no conditions on those who come to it for aid. Consequently, its various points of distribution are crowded with long lines of the shivering and famished, and the smallest offering from the charitable is thankfully received.

On the suppression of the recent general strike among the workmen of Paris, in the month of October, 1898, there appeared, in a number of the Matin, a serious article giving some important details concerning the wages and the manner of spending them, and presented from the point of view of a friend of the laboring classes. The writer, M. Manini, had interviewed one of his friends, an important contractor, whose six hundred workmen had followed the example of their comrades, gone on strike, and been compelled to abandon it by the prudent action of the civil and military authorities in protecting all those who were willing to labor. "I expressed to my friend my surprise that workmen earning, at a minimum, six francs, and some of them, masons and rough-casters, eight and ten francs a day, should have ceased work under pretence of insufficient pay. I showed him the instructive table published by an evening journal, and according to which the rough-casters earned from eleven to twelve francs a day; the stone-cutters, eight francs; the journeymen masons, eight francs; the apprentice masons, five and a half francs; the bricklayers, eight francs; the stone-sawyers, nine to eleven francs,—in a word, as much as a lieutenant in garrison in Paris, and more than a lieutenant in garrison in the provinces.



"'All that is perfectly true,' replied my friend. 'Never have the workmen on buildings had such a fete. Since Paris has become a vast ant-hill in which the work of preparation for 1900 goes on without ceasing, the workmen make magnificent working-days and have no fear of being "laid off." They have before them three magnificent years. But you are not aware of the conditions of a workman's life in Paris. They bear no resemblance to those of the life in the provinces, where similar wages would insure a comfortable living. In Paris, you see, the workman lives at a great disadvantage, and, in reality, it may be said that he is obliged to meet the expenses of two establishments.... Paris is an immense city, in which the distances are very great. The laborers, the diggers, and shovellers live, nearly all of them, on the heights of Clignancourt and of Belleville; the masons, for I know not what reason, prefer the quarter of the Gobelins. Well, work is carried on in all parts of Paris, is it not? The laborer from Belleville, the workman hired by me or by my overseer, arrives at his field of labor at six o'clock in the morning. This spot is at Auteuil, at the Trocadero, at Passy, anywhere. It will be absolutely impossible for him to return to Belleville for his meals. He will have to eat on the spot, there where he works.

"'Well, arrived at the chantier at half-past six, and hard at work at seven, the workmen go at nine o'clock to get some soup and a piece of cheese. It is to some little eating-house in the neighborhood that they betake themselves. The cost of this casse-croute [bread-crust], as they call it, fifty centimes at the least. At eleven o'clock, the dejeuner, always at the wine-shop or the little restaurant. When one works in the open air, and when one propels, by the strength of his arms, shovelfuls of earth weighing five kilos each a height of two metres into the cart, one is hungry. Notwithstanding the utmost frugality, the dejeuner amounts to thirty sous, thirty-five sous at the least. We have now expended two francs, twenty-five centimes. About four o'clock, another mouthful and a glass of wine,—say ten sous, about. We have now reached fifty-five sous, have we not? In case the workman should be fatigued, or that the distance home should be too great,—observe that from Auteuil to Clignancourt there are nine good kilometres, that is more than two leagues,—he dines on the spot, say twenty-five sous more.

"'If the workman earns eight francs, here are his wages reduced more than one-half. And you will remember that the wife and the brats eat at home; also, that it is necessary to clothe yourself and to clothe the little ones, that it is necessary to pay the rent, that, sometimes, there is an old infirm mother at home, that an illness is readily contracted.... In fact, the workman, at Paris, who labors at a distance is obliged to eat away from his own house, and he expends for himself alone as much as would be required to support the whole family. It may therefore be said, that he has to provide for two households,—the outside establishment, himself, and the inside establishment, the wife and the children.'"

It does not seem to have occurred to the author of this interesting expose, or to his interlocutor, that there was a very simple and well-known remedy for this idiotic and extravagant mode of living,—the dinner-pail. The contractor cited to his friend the case of the masons from the provinces, the Creusois and the Limousins, who are enabled to save money by leaving their families in the country, and that of the London workman who commences his day's labor at nine o'clock in the morning and who ends it at five,—but without any interruption. "At one o'clock in the afternoon he breaks a piece of bread, which he generally brings in his work-bag; and at six o'clock, thanks to the 'Metropolitan,' he is again with his family, comfortably seated at table." The workman's dinner-pail, or its equivalent, is not altogether unknown to the Parisian ouvrier, and picturesque groups may sometimes be seen, sometimes with the wife's presence to cheer and adorn, eating and drinking comfortably al fresco, on the sidewalks, or on the steps of some monument. To the sojourner in the land, the facts appear to be that the workmen frequent the gargotes much more to drink than to eat, that they spend a very important fraction of the day congregated around, or in, the cheap wine-shops of the neighborhood, and that they consume a highly unnecessary quantity of variously and fearfully colored cheap combinations of alcool.

In the strike referred to, the terrassiers, or diggers, who commenced it, had enough influence in the Conseil Municipal of Paris to get the increased wages for which they quit work, awarded them; but the other workmen, who struck for the cause of solidarite, were unsuccessful, and the great strike of all the railway employes throughout the nation, ostentatiously ordered by the Syndicat Guerard, and promptly met by the military occupation of all the stations and points of danger, was a complete failure.

THE END

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5
Home - Random Browse