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Chapter the Thirteenth
Charles Eames and Charles Sumner-Schurzand Lamar--I Go to Congress--A
Heroic Kentuckian--Stephen Foster and His Songs--Music and Theodore
Chapter the Fourteenth
Henry Adams and the Adams Family--John Hay and Frank Mason--The Three
_Mousquetaires_ of Culture--Paris--"The Frenchman"--The South of
Chapter the Fifteenth
Still the Gay Capital of France--Its Environs--Walewska and De
Morny--Thackeray in Paris--A _Pension_ Adventure
Chapter the Sixteenth
Monte Carlo--The European Shrine of Sport and Fashion--Apocryphal
Gambling Stories--Leopold, King of the Belgians--An Able and
Picturesque Man of Business
Chapter the Seventeenth
A Parisian _Pension_--The Widow of Walewska--Napoleon's
Daughter-in-Law--The Changeless--A Moral and Orderly City
Chapter the Eighteenth
The Grover Cleveland Period--President Arthur and Mr. Blaine--John
Chamberlin--The Decrees of Destiny
Chapter the Nineteenth
Mr. Cleveland in the White House--Mr. Bayard in the Department of
State--Queer Appointments to Office--The One-Party Power--The End of
North and South Sectionalism
Chapter the Twentieth
The Real Grover Cleveland--Two Clevelands Before and After Marriage--A
Correspondence and a Break of Personal Relations
Chapter the Twenty-First
Stephen Foster, the Song-Writer--A Friend Comes to the Rescu
His Originality--"My Old Kentucky Home" and the "Old Folks at
Home"--General Sherman and "Marching Through Georgia"
Chapter the Twenty-Second
Theodore Roosevelt--His Problematic Character--He Offers Me an
Appointment--His _Bonhomie_ and Chivalry--Proud of His Rebel Kin
Chapter the Twenty-Third
The Actor and the Journalist--The Newspaper and the State--Joseph
Jefferson--His Personal and Artistic Career--Modest Character and
Chapter the Twenty-Fourth
The Writing of Memoirs--Some Characteristics of Carl Shurz--Sam
Bowles--Horace White and the Mugwumps
Chapter the Twenty-Fifth
Every Trade Has Its Tricks--I Play One on William McKinley--Far Away
Party Politics and Political Issues
Chapter the Twenty-Sixth
A Libel on Mr. Cleveland--His Fondness for Cards--Some Poker
Stories--The "Senate Game"--Tom Ochiltree, Senator Allison and General
Chapter the Twenty-Seventh
The Profession of Journalism--Newspapers and Editors in
America--Bennett, Greeley and Raymond--Forney and Dana--The Education
of a Journalist
Chapter the Twenty-Eighth
Bullies and Braggarts--Some Kentucky Illustrations--The Old Galt
House--The Throckmortons--A Famous Sugeon--"Old Hell's Delight"
Chapter the Twenty-Ninth
About Political Conventions, State and National--"Old Ben Butler"--His
Appearance as a Trouble-Maker in the Democratic National Convention of
1892--Tarifa and the Tariff--Spain as a Frightful Example
Chapter the Thirtieth
The Makers of the Republic--Lincoln, Jefferson, Clay and Webster--The
Proposed League of Nations--The Wilsonian Incertitude--The "New
Chapter the Thirty-First
The Age of Miracles--A Story of Franklin Pierce--Simon Suggs
Billy Sunday--Jefferson Davis and Aaron Burr--Certain Constitutional
Chapter the Thirty-Second
A War Episode--I Meet my Fater--I Marry and Make a Home--The Ups and
Downs of Life Lead to a Happy Old Age
Henry Watterson--Fifty Years Ago
Henry Woodfire Grady--One of Mr. Watterson's "Boys"
Mr. Watterson's Library at "Mansfield"
A Corner of "Mansfield"--Home of Mr. Watterson
Henry Watterson (Photograph Taken in Florida)
Henry Watterson. From a painting by Louis Mark in the Manhattan Club, New
Chapter the Thirteenth
Charles Eames and Charles Sumner-Schurzand Lamar--I Go to Congress--A
Heroic Kentuckian--Stephen Foster and His Songs--Music and Theodore
Swift's definition of "conversation" did not preside over or direct the
daily intercourse between Charles Sumner, Charles Eames and Robert J.
Walker in the old days in the National Capital. They did not converse. They
discoursed. They talked sententiously in portentous essays and learned
dissertations. I used to think it great, though I nursed no little dislike
Charles Eames was at the outset of his career a ne'er-do-well New
Englander--a Yankee Jack-of-all-trades--kept at the front by an exceedingly
clever wife. Through the favor she enjoyed at court he received from Pierce
and Buchanan unimportant diplomatic appointments. During their sojourns in
Washington their home was a kind of political and literary headquarters.
Mrs. Eames had established a salon--the first attempt of the kind made
there; and it was altogether a success. Her Sundays evenings were notable,
indeed. Whoever was worth seeing, if in town, might usually be found there.
Charles Sumner led the procession. He was a most imposing person. Both
handsome and distinguished in appearance, he possessed in an eminent degree
the Harvard pragmatism--or, shall I say, affectation?--and seemed never
happy except on exhibition. He had made a profitable political and personal
issue of the Preston Brooks attack. Brooks was an exceeding light weight,
but he did for Sumner more than Sumner could ever have done for himself.
In the Charles Eames days Sumner was exceedingly disagreeable to me. Many
people, indeed, thought him so. Many years later, in the Greeley campaign
of 1872, Schurz brought us together--they had become as very brothers in
the Senate--and I found him the reverse of my boyish ill conceptions.
He was a great old man. He was a delightful old man, every inch a
statesman, much of a scholar, and something of a hero. I grew in time to be
actually fond of him, passed with him entire afternoons and evenings in his
library, mourned sincerely when he died, and went with Schurz to Boston, on
the occasion when that great German-American delivered the memorial address
in honor of the dead Abolitionist.
Of all the public men of that period Carl Schurz most captivated me. When
we first came into personal relations, at the Liberal Convention, which
assembled at Cincinnati and nominated Greeley and Brown as a presidential
ticket, he was just turned forty-three; I, two and thirty. The closest
intimacy followed. Our tastes were much alike. Both of us had been educated
in music. He played the piano with intelligence and feeling--especially
Schumann, Brahms and Mendelssohn, neither of us ever having quite reached
the "high jinks" of Wagner.
To me his oratory was wonderful. He spoke to an audience of five or ten
thousand as he would have talked to a party of three or six. His style was
simple, natural, unstrained; the lucid statement and cogent argument now
and again irradiated by a salient passage of satire or a burst of not too
He was quite knocked out by the nomination of Horace Greeley. For a long
time he could not reconcile himself to support the ticket. Horace White and
I addressed ourselves to the task of "fetching him into camp"--there being
in point of fact nowhere else for him to go--though we had to get up what
was called The Fifth Avenue Conference to make a bridge.
Truth to say, Schurz never wholly adjusted himself to political conditions
in the United States. He once said to me in one of the querulous moods that
sometimes overcame him: "If I should live a hundred years my enemies would
still call me a--Dutchman!"
It was Schurz, as I have said, who brought Lamar and me together. The
Mississippian had been a Secession Member of Congress when I was a Unionist
scribe in the reporters' gallery. I was a furious partisan in those
days and disliked the Secessionists intensely. Of them, Lamar was most
aggressive. I later learned that he was very many-sided and accomplished,
the most interesting and lovable of men. He and Schurz "froze together,"
as, brought together by Schurz, he and I "froze together." On one side he
was a sentimentalist and on the other a philosopher, but on all sides a
They called him a dreamer. He sprang from a race of chevaliers and
scholars. Oddly enough, albeit in his moods a recluse, he was a man of
the world; a favorite in society; very much at home in European courts,
especially in that of England; the friend of Thackeray, at whose house,
when in London, he made his abode. Lady Ritchie--Anne Thackeray--told me
many amusing stories of his whimsies. He was a man among brainy men and a
lion among clever women.
We had already come to be good friends and constant comrades when the
whirligig of time threw us together for a little while in the lower house
of Congress. One day he beckoned me over to his seat. He was leaning
backward with his hands crossed behind his head.
As I stood in front of him he said: "On the eighth of February, 1858, Mrs.
Gwin, of California, gave a fancy dress ball. Mr. Lamar, of Mississippi,
a member of Congress, was there. Also a glorious young woman--a vision of
beauty and grace--with whom the handsome and distinguished young statesman
danced--danced once, twice, thrice, taking her likewise down to supper.
He went to bed, turned his face to the wall and dreamed of her. That was
twenty years ago. To-day this same Mr. Lamar, after an obscure interregnum,
was with Mrs. Lamar looking over Washington for an apartment. In quest of
cheap lodging they came to a mean house in a mean quarter, where a poor,
wizened, ill-clad woman showed them through the meanly furnished rooms. Of
course they would not suffice.
"As they were coming away the great Mr. Lamar said to the poor landlady,
'Madam, have you lived long in Washington?' She said all her life. 'Madam,'
he continued, 'were you at a fancy dress ball given by Mrs. Senator Gwin
of California, the eighth of February, 1858?' She said she was. 'Do you
remember,' the statesman, soldier and orator continued, 'a young and
handsome Mississippian, a member of Congress, by the name of Lamar?' She
said she didn't."
I rather think that Lamar was the biggest brained of all the men I have met
in Washington. He possessed the courage of his convictions. A doctrinaire,
there was nothing of the typical doctrinaire, or theorist, about him. He
really believed that cotton was king and would compel England to espouse
the cause of the South.
Despite his wealth of experience and travel he was not overmuch of a
raconteur, but he once told me a good story about his friend Thackeray. The
two were driving to a banquet of the Literary Fund, where Dickens was to
preside. "Lamar," said Thackeray, "they say I can't speak. But if I want to
I can speak. I can speak every bit as good as Dickens, and I am going to
show you to-night that I can speak almost as good as you." When the moment
arrived Thackeray said never a word. Returning in the cab, both silent,
Thackeray suddenly broke forth. "Lamar," he exclaimed, "don't you think you
have heard the greatest speech to-night that was never delivered?"
Holding office, especially going to Congress, had never entered any wish
or scheme of mine. Office seemed to me ever a badge of bondage. I knew too
much of the national capital to be allured by its evanescent and lightsome
honors. When the opportunity sought me out none of its illusions appealed
to me. But after a long uphill fight for personal and political recognition
in Kentucky an election put a kind of seal upon the victory I had won and
enabled me in a way to triumph over my enemies. I knew that if I accepted
the nomination offered me I would get a big popular vote--as I did--and so,
one full term, and half a term, incident to the death of the sitting member
for the Louisville district being open to me, I took the short term,
refusing the long term.
Though it was midsummer and Congress was about to adjourn I went to
Washington and was sworn in. A friend of mine, Col. Wake Holman, had made
a bet with one of our pals I would be under arrest before I had been
twenty-four hours in town, and won it. It happened in this wise: The night
of the day when I took my seat there was an all-night session. I knew too
well what that meant, and, just from a long tiresome journey, I went to bed
and slept soundly till sunrise. Just as I was up and dressing for a stroll
about the old, familiar, dearly loved quarter of the town there came an
imperative rap upon the door and a voice said: "Get up, colonel, quick!
This is a sergeant at arms. There has been a call of the House and I am
after you. Everybody is drunk, more or less, and they are noisy to have
some fun with you."
It was even as he said. Everybody, more or less, was drunk--especially the
provisional speaker whom Mr. Randall had placed in the chair--and when we
arrived and I was led a prisoner down the center aisle pandemonium broke
They had all sorts of fun with me, such as it was. It was moved that I
be fined the full amount of my mileage. Then a resolution was offered
suspending my membership and sending me under guard to the old Capitol
prison. Finally two or three of my friends rescued me and business was
allowed to proceed. It was the last day of a very long session and those
who were not drunk were worn out.
When I returned home there was a celebration in honor of the bet Wake
Holman had won at my expense. Wake was the most attractive and lovable of
men, by nature a hero, by profession a "filibuster" and soldier of fortune.
At two and twenty he was a private in Col. Humphrey Marshall's Regiment
of Kentucky Riflemen, which reached the scene of hostilities upon the Rio
Grande in the midsummer of 1846. He had enlisted from Owen county--"Sweet
Owen," as it used to be called--and came of good stock, his father, Col.
Harry Holman, in the days of aboriginal fighting and journalism, a frontier
celebrity. Wake's company, out on a scout, was picked off by the Mexicans,
and the distinction between United States soldiers and Texan rebels not
being yet clearly established, a drumhead court-martial ordered "the
This was a decree that one of every ten of the Yankee captives should be
shot. There being a hundred of Marshall's men, one hundred beans--ninety
white and ten black--were put in a hat. Then the company was mustered as on
dress parade. Whoso drew a white bean was to be held prisoner of war; whoso
drew a black bean was to die.
In the early part of the drawing Wake drew a white bean. Toward the close
the turn of a neighbor and comrade from Owen county who had left a wife and
baby at home was called. He and Wake were standing together, Holman brushed
him aside, walked out in his place and drew his bean. It turned out to be a
white one. Twice within the half hour death had looked him in the eye and
found no blinking there.
I have seen quite a deal of hardihood, endurance, suffering, in both women
and men; splendid courage on the field of action; perfect self-possession
in the face of danger; but I rather think that Wake Holman's exploit that
day--next to actually dying for a friend, what can be nobler than being
willing to die for him?--is the bravest thing I know or have ever been told
of mortal man.
Wake Holman went to Cuba in the Lopez Rebellion of 1851, and fought under
Pickett at the Battle of Cardenas. In 1855-56 he was in Nicaragua, with
Walker. He commanded a Kentucky regiment of cavalry on the Union side in
our War of Sections. After the war he lived the life of a hunter and fisher
at his home in Kentucky; a cheery, unambitious, big-brained and big-hearted
cherub, whom it would not do to "projeck" with, albeit with entire safety
you could pick his pocket; the soul of simplicity and amiability.
To have known him was an education in primal manhood. To sit at his
hospitable board, with him at the head of the table, was an inspiration in
the genius of life and the art of living. One of his familiars started the
joke that when Wake drew the second white bean "he got a peep." He took
it kindly; though in my intimacy with him, extending over thirty years, I
never heard him refer to any of his adventures as a soldier.
It was not possible that such a man should provide for his old age. He had
little forecast. He knew not the value of money. He had humor, affection
and courage. I held him in real love and honor. When the Mexican War
Pension Act was passed by Congress I took his papers to General Black, the
Commissioner of Pensions, and related this story.
"I have promised Gen. Cerro Gordo Williams," said General Black, referring
to the then senior United States Senator from Kentucky, "that his name
shall go first on the roll of these Mexican pensioners. But"--and the
General looked beamingly in my face, a bit tearful, and says he: "Wake
Holman's name shall come right after." And there it is.
I was very carefully and for those times not ignorantly taught in music.
Schell, his name was, and they called him "Professor." He lived over in
Georgetown, where he had organized a little group of Prussian refugees into
a German club, and from my tenth to my fifteenth year--at first regularly,
and then in a desultory way as I came back to Washington City from my
school in Philadelphia, he hammered Bach and Handel and Mozart--nothing so
modern as Mendelssohn--into my not unwilling nor unreceptive mind, for my
bent was in the beginning to compose dramas, and in the end operas.
Adelina Patti was among my child companions. Once in the national capital,
when I was 12 years old and Adelina 9, we played together at a charity
concert. She had sung "The Last Rose of Summer," and I had played her
brother-in-law's variation upon "Home, Sweet Home." The audience was
enthusiastic. We were called out again and again. Then we came on the stage
together, and the applause increasing I sat down at the keyboard and played
an accompaniment with my own interpolations upon "Old Folks At Home," which
I had taught Adelina, and she sang the words. Then they fairly took the
Once during a sojourn in Paris I was thrown with Christine Nilsson. She was
in the heyday of her success at the Theater Lyrique under the patronage of
Madame Miolan-Carvalho. One day I said to her: "The time may come when you
will be giving concerts." She was indignant. "Nevertheless," I continued,
"let me teach you a sure encore." I played her Stephen Foster's immortal
ditty. She was delighted. The sequel was that it served her even a better
turn than it had served Adelina Patti.
I played and transposed for the piano most of the melodies of Foster as
they were published, they being first produced in public by Christy's
Stephen Foster was the ne'er-do-well of a good Pennsylvania family. A
sister of his had married a brother of James Buchanan. There were two
daughters of this marriage, nieces of the President, and when they were
visiting the White House we had--shall I dare write it?--high jinks with
our nigger-minstrel concerts on the sly.
Will S. Hays, the rival of Foster as a song writer and one of my reporters
on the Courier-Journal, told me this story: "Foster," said he, "was a good
deal of what you might call a barroom loafer. He possessed a sweet tenor
voice before it was spoiled by drink, and was fond of music, though
technically he knew nothing about it. He had a German friend who when
he died left him a musical scrapbook, of all sorts of odds and ends of
original text. There is where Foster got his melodies. When the scrapbook
gave out he gave out."
I took it as merely the spleen of a rival composer. But many years after
in Vienna I heard a concert given over exclusively to the performance of
certain posthumous manuscripts of Schubert. Among the rest were selections
from an unfinished opera--"Rosemonde," I think it was called--in which the
whole rhythm and movements and parts of the score of Old Folks at Home were
It was something to have grown up contemporary, as it were, with these
songs. Many of them were written in the old Rowan homestead, just outside
of Bardstown, Ky., where Louis Philippe lived and taught, and for a season
Talleyrand made his abode. The Rowans were notable people. John Rowan,
the elder, head of the house, was a famous lawyer, who divided oratorical
honors with Henry Clay, and like Clay, was a Senator in Congress; his son,
"young John," as he was called, Stephen Foster's pal, went as minister to
Naples, and fought duels, and was as Bob Acres wanted to be, "a devil of a
fellow." He once told me he had been intimate with Thackeray when they were
wild young men in Paris, and that they had both of them known the woman
whom Thackeray had taken for the original of Becky Sharp.
The Foster songs quite captivated my boyhood. I could sing a little, as
well as play, and learned each of them--especially Old Folks at Home and
My Old Kentucky Home--as they appeared. Their contemporary vogue was
tremendous. Nothing has since rivalled the popular impression they made,
except perhaps the Arthur Sullivan melodies.
Among my ambitions to be a great historian, dramatist, soldier and writer
of romance I desired also to be a great musician, especially a great
pianist. The bone-felon did the business for this later. But all my life I
have been able to thumb the keyboard at least for the children to dance,
and it has been a recourse and solace sometimes during intervals of
embittered journalism and unprosperous statesmanship.
Theodore Thomas and I used to play duos together. He was a master of the
violin before he took to orchestration. We remained the best of friends to
the end of his days.
On the slightest provocation, or none, we passed entire nights together.
Once after a concert he suddenly exclaimed: "Don't you think Wagner was a
A little surprised even by one of his outbreaks, I said: "Wagner may have
written some trick music but I hardly think that he was a fraud."
He reflected a moment. "Well," he continued, "it may not lie in my mouth to
say it--and perhaps I ought not to say it--I know I am most responsible for
the Wagner craze--but I consider him a ---- fraud."
He had just come from a long "classic entertainment," was worn out with
travel and worry, and meant nothing of the sort.
After a very tiresome concert when he was railing at the hard lines of a
peripatetic musician I said: "Come with me and I will give you a soothing
quail and as dry a glass of champagne as you ever had in your life."
The wine was poured out and he took a sip.
"I don't call that dry wine," he crossly said, and took another sip. "My
God," without a pause he continued, "isn't that great?"
Of course he was impulsive, even impetuous. Beneath his seeming cold
exterior and admirable self-control--the discipline of the master
artist--lay the moods and tenses of the musical temperament. He knew little
or nothing outside of music and did not care to learn. I tried to interest
him in politics. It was of no use. First he laughed my suggestions to scorn
and then swore like a trooper. German he was, through and through. It
was well that he passed away before the world war. Pat Gilmore--"Patrick
Sarsfield," we always called him--was a born politician, and if he had not
been a musician he would have been a statesman. I kept the peace between
him and Theodore Thomas by an ingenious system of telling all kinds of kind
things each had said of the other, my "repetitions" being pure inventions
of my own.
Chapter the Fourteenth
Henry Adams and the Adams Family--John Hay and Frank Mason--The Three
_Mousquetaires_ of Culture--Paris--"The Frenchman"--The South of
I have been of late reading The Education of Henry Adams, and it recalls
many persons and incidents belonging to the period about which I am now
writing. I knew Henry Adams well; first in London, then in Boston and
finally throughout his prolonged residence in Washington City. He was an
Adams; very definitely an Adams, but, though his ghost may revisit the
glimpses of the moon and chide me for saying so, with an English "cut to
No three brothers could be more unlike than Charles Francis, John Quincy
and Henry Adams. Brooks Adams I did not know. They represented the fourth
generation of the brainiest pedigree--that is in continuous line--known to
our family history. Henry thought he was a philosopher and tried to be one.
He thought he was a man of the world and wanted to be one. He was, in spite
of himself, a provincial.
Provincialism is not necessarily rustic, even suburban. There is no
provincial quite so provincial as he who has passed his life in great
cities. The Parisian boulevardier taken away from the asphalt, the cockney
a little off Clapham Common and the Strand, is lost. Henry Adams knew
his London and his Paris, his Boston and his Quincy--we must not forget
Quincy--well. But he had been born, and had grown up, between the lids of
history, and for all his learning and travel he never got very far outside
In manner and manners, tone and cast of thought he was
English--delightfully English--though he cultivated the cosmopolite.
His house in the national capital, facing the Executive Mansion across
Lafayette Square--especially during the life of his wife, an adorable
woman, who made up in sweetness and tact for some of the qualities lacking
in her husband--was an intellectual and high-bred center, a rendezvous for
the best ton and the most accepted people. The Adamses may be said to
have succeeded the Eameses as leaders in semi-social, semi-literary and
There was a trio--I used to call them the Three Musketeers of Culture--John
Hay, Henry Cabot Lodge and Henry Adams. They made an interesting and
inseparable trinity--Caleb Cushing, Robert J. Walker and Charles Sumner not
more so--and it was worth while to let them have the floor and to hear them
talk; Lodge, cool and wary as a politician should be; Hay, helterskelter,
the real man of the world crossed on a Western stock; and Adams, something
of a literatteur, a statesman and a cynic.
John Randolph Tucker, who when he was in Congress often met Henry at
dinners and the like, said to him on the appearance of the early volumes of
his History of the United States: "I am not disappointed, for how could an
Adams be expected to do justice to a Randolph?"
While he was writing this history Adams said to me: "There is an old
villain--next to Andrew Jackson the greatest villain of his time--a
Kentuckian--don't say he was a kinsman of yours!--whose papers, if he
left any, I want to see."
"To whom are you referring?" I asked with mock dignity.
"To John Adair," he answered.
"Well," said I, "John Adair married my grandmother's sister and I can put
you in the way of getting whatever you require."
I have spoken of John Hay as Master of the Revels in the old
Sutherland-Delmonico days. Even earlier than that--in London and Paris--an
intimacy had been established between us. He married in Cleveland, Ohio,
and many years passed before I came up with him again. One day in Whitelaw
Reid's den in the Tribune Building he reappeared, strangely changed--no
longer the rosy-cheeked, buoyant boy--an overserious, prematurely old man.
I was shocked, and when he had gone Reid, observing this, said: "Oh, Hay
will come round all right. He is just now in one of his moods. I picked him
up in Piccadilly the other day and by sheer force brought him over."
When we recall the story of Hay's life--one weird tragedy after another,
from the murder of Lincoln to the murder of McKinley, including the tragic
end of two members of his immediate family--there rises in spite of the
grandeur that pursued him a single exclamation: "The pity of it!"
This is accentuated by Henry Adams' Education. Yet the silent courage with
which Hay met disaster after disaster must increase both the sympathy
and the respect of those who peruse the melancholy pages of that vivid
narrative. Toward the end, meeting him on a public occasion, I said: "You
work too hard--you are not looking well."
"I am dying," said he.
"Yes," I replied in the way of banter, "you are dying of fame and fortune."
But I went no further. He was in no mood for the old verbal horseplay.
He looked wan and wizened. Yet there were still several years before him.
When he came from Mannheim to Paris it was clear that the end was nigh. I
did not see him--he was too ill to see any one--but Frank Mason kept me
advised from day to day, and when, a month or two later, having reached
home, the news came to us that he was dead we were nowise surprised, and
almost consoled by the thought that rest had come at last.
Frank Mason and his wife--"the Masons," they were commonly called, for Mrs.
Mason made a wondrous second to her husband--were from Cleveland, Ohio, she
a daughter of Judge Birchard--Jennie Birchard--he a rising young journalist
caught in the late seventies by the glitter of a foreign appointment. They
ran the gamut of the consular service, beginning with Basel and Marseilles
and ending with Frankfurt, Berlin and Paris. Wherever they were their
house was a very home--a kind of Yankee shrine--of visiting Americans and
Years before he was made consul general--in point of fact when he was plain
consul at Marseilles--he ran over to Paris for a lark. One day he said to
me, "A rich old hayseed uncle of mine has come to town. He has money to
burn and he wants to meet you. I have arranged for us to dine with him at
the Anglaise to-night and we are to order the dinner--carte blanche." The
rich old uncle to whom I was presented did not have the appearance of a
hayseed. On the contrary he was a most distinguished-looking old gentleman.
The dinner we ordered was "stunning"--especially the wines. When the bill
was presented our host scanned it carefully, scrutinizing each item and
making his own addition, altogether "like a thoroughbred." Frank and I
watched him not without a bit of anxiety mixed with contrition. When he had
paid the score he said with a smile: "That was rather a steep bill, but we
have had rather a good dinner, and now, if you boys know of as good a dance
hall we'll go there and I'll buy the outfit."
First and last I have lived much in the erstwhile gay capital of France. It
was gayest when the Duke de Morny flourished as King of the Bourse. He was
reputed the Emperor's natural half-brother. The breakdown of the Mexican
adventure, which was mostly his, contributed not a little to the final
Napoleonic fall. He died of dissipation and disappointment, and under the
pseudonym of the Duke de Morra, Daudet celebrated him in "The Nabob."
De Morny did not live to see the tumble of the house of cards he had built.
Next after I saw Paris it was a pitiful wreck indeed; the Hotel de Ville
and the Tuileries in flames; the Column gone from the Place Vendome; but
later the rise of the Third Republic saw the revival of the unquenchable
spirit of the irrepressible French.
Nevertheless I should scarcely be taken for a Parisian. Once, when
wandering aimlessly, as one so often does through the Paris streets, one of
the touts hanging round the Cafe de la Paix to catch the unwary stranger
being a little more importunate than usual, I ordered him to go about his
"This is my business," he impudently answered.
"Get away, I tell you!" I thundered, "I am a Parisian myself!"
He drew a little out of reach of the umbrella I held in my hand, and with
a drawl of supreme and very American contempt, exclaimed, "Well, you don't
look it," and scampered off.
Paris, however, is not all of France. Sometimes I have thought not the
best part of it. There is the south of France, with Avignon, the heart of
Provence, seat of the French papacy six hundred years ago, the metropolis
of Christendom before the Midi was a region--Paris yet a village, and Rome
struggling out of the debris of the ages--with Arles and Nimes, and, above
all, Tarascon, the home of the immortal Tartarin, for next-door neighbors.
They are all hard by Marseilles. But Avignon ever most caught my fancy, for
there the nights seem peopled with the ghosts of warriors and cardinals,
and there on festal mornings the spirits of Petrarch and his Laura walk
abroad, the ramparts, which bade defiance to Goth and Vandal and Saracen
hordes, now giving shelter to bats and owls, but the atmosphere laden with
_"...tasting of Flora and the country green,
Dance and Provencal song and sun-burnt mirth."_
Something too much of this! Let me not yield to the spell of the
picturesque. To recur to matters of fact and get down to prose and the
times we live in let us halt a moment on this southerly journey and have a
look in upon Lyons, the industrial capital of France, which is directly on
The idiosyncrasy of Lyons is silk. There are two schools of introduction in
the art of silk weaving, one of them free to any lad in the city, the other
requiring a trifle of matriculation. The first of these witnesses the whole
process of fabrication from the reeling of threads to the finishing of
dress goods, and the loom painting of pictures. It is most interesting of
course, the painstaking its most obvious feature, the individual weaver
living with his family upon a wage representing the cost of the barest
necessities of life. Again, and ever and ever again, the inequalities of
fortune! Where will it end?
The world has tried revolution and it has tried anarchy. Always the
survival of the strong, nicknamed by Spencer and his ilk the "fittest." Ten
thousand heads were chopped off during the Terror in France to make room
for whom? Not for the many, but the few; though it must be allowed that in
some ways the conditions were improved.
Yet here after a hundred years, here in Lyons, faithful, intelligent men
struggle for sixty, for forty cents a day, with never a hope beyond! What
is to be done about it? Suppose the wealth of the universe were divided per
capita, how long would it remain out of the clutches of the Napoleons of
finance, only a percentage of whom find ultimately their Waterloo, little
to the profit of the poor who spin and delve, who fight and die, in the
Grand Army of the Wretched!
We read a deal that is amusing about the southerly Frenchman. He is indeed
_sui generis_. Some five and twenty years ago there appeared in
Louisville a dapper gentleman, who declared himself a Marseillais, and who
subsequently came to be known variously as The Major and The Frenchman. I
shall not mention him otherwise in this veracious chronicle, but, looking
through the city directory of Marseilles I found an entire page devoted to
his name, though all the entries may not have been members of his family.
There is no doubt that he was a Marseillais.
Wandering through the streets of the old city, now in a cafe of La
Cannebiere and now along a quay of the Old Port, his ghost has often
crossed my path and dogged my footsteps, though he has lain in his grave
this many a day. I grew to know him very well, to be first amused by him,
then to be interested, and in the end to entertain an affection for him.
The Major was a delightful composite of Tartarin of Tarascon and the
Brigadier Gerard, with a dash of the Count of Monte Cristo; for when he was
flush--which by some odd coincidence happened exactly four times a year--he
was as liberal a spendthrift as one could wish to meet anywhere between the
little principality of Monaco and the headwaters of the Nile; transparent
as a child; idiosyncratic to a degree.
I understand Marseilles better and it has always seemed nearer to me since
he was born there and lived there when a boy, and, I much fear me, was
driven away, the scapegrace of excellent and wealthy people; not, I feel
sure, for any offense that touched the essential parts of his manhood. A
gentler, a more upright and harmless creature I never knew in all my life.
I very well recall when he first arrived in the Kentucky metropolis. His
attire and raiment were faultless. He wore a rose in his coat, he carried
a delicate cane, and a most beautiful woman hung upon his arm. She was his
wife. It was a circumstance connected with this lady which led to the after
intimacy between him and me. She fell dangerously ill. I had casually met
her husband as an all-round man-about-town, and by this token, seeking
sympathy on lines of least resistance, he came to me with his sorrow.
I have never seen grief more real and fervid. He swore, on his knees and
with tears in his eyes, that if she recovered, if God would give her back
to him, he would never again touch a card; for gambling was his passion,
and even among amateurs he would have been accounted the softest of soft
things. His prayer was answered, she did recover, and he proceeded to
fulfill his vow.
But what was he to do? He had been taught, or at least he had learned,
to do nothing, not even to play poker! I suggested that as running a
restaurant was a French prerogative and that as he knew less about cooking
than about anything else--we had had a contest or two over the mysteries of
a pair of chafing dishes--and as there was not a really good eating place
in Louisville, he should set up a restaurant. It was said rather in jest
than in earnest; but I was prepared to lend him the money. The next thing I
knew, and without asking for a dollar, he had opened The Brunswick.
In those days I saw the Courier-Journal to press, turning night into day,
and during a dozen years I took my twelve o'clock supper there. It was thus
and from these beginnings that the casual acquaintance between us ripened
into intimacy, and that I gradually came into a knowledge of the reserves
behind The Major's buoyant optimism and occasional gasconnade.
He ate and drank sparingly; but he was not proof against the seduction
of good company, and he had plenty of it, from William Preston to Joseph
Jefferson, with such side lights as Stoddard Johnston, Boyd Winchester,
Isaac Caldwell and Proctor Knott, of the Home Guard--very nearly all the
celebrities of the day among the outsiders--myself the humble witness
and chronicler. He secured an excellent chef, and of course we lived
The Major's most obvious peculiarity was that he knew everything and had
been everywhere. If pirates were mentioned he flowered out at once into an
adventure upon the sea; if bandits, on the land. If it was Wall Street
he had a reminiscence and a scheme; if gambling, a hard-luck story and
a system. There was no quarter of the globe of which he had not been an
Once the timbered riches of Africa being mentioned, at once the Major gave
us a most graphic account of how "the old house"--for thus he designated
some commercial establishment, which either had no existence or which he
had some reason for not more particularly indicating--had sent him in
charge of a rosewood saw mill on the Ganges, and, after many ups and downs,
of how the floods had come and swept the plant away; and Rudolph Fink, who
was of the party, immediately said, "I can attest the truth of The Major's
story, because my brother Albert and I were in charge of some fishing camps
at the mouth of the Ganges at the exact date of the floods, and we caught
many of those rosewood logs in our nets as they floated out to sea."
Augustine's Terrapin came to be for a while the rage in Philadelphia, and
even got as far as New York and Washington, and straightway, The Major
declared he could and would make Augustine and his terrapin look "like a
monkey." He proposed to give a dinner.
There were great preparations and expectancy. None of us ate much at
luncheon that day. At the appointed hour, we assembled at The Brunswick. I
will dismiss the decorations and the preludes except to say that they were
Parisian. After a while in full regalia The Major appeared, a train of
servants following with a silver tureen. The lid was lifted.
"_Voila!_" says he.
The vision disclosed to our startled eyes was an ocean that looked like
bean soup flecked by a few strands of black crape!
The explosion duly arrived from the assembled gourmets, I, myself, I am
sorry to say, leading the rebellion.
"I put seeks terrapin in zat soup!" exclaimed The Frenchman, quite losing
his usual good English in his excitement.
We reproached him. We denounced him. He was driven from the field. But he
bore us no malice. Ten days later he invited us again, and this time Sam
Ward himself could have found no fault with the terrapin.
Next afternoon, when I knew The Major was asleep, I slipped back into the
kitchen and said to Louis Garnier, the chef: "Is there any of that terrapin
left over from last night?"
All unconscious of his treason Louis took me into the pantry and
triumphantly showed me three jars bearing the Augustine label and the
Philadelphia express tags!
On another occasion a friend of The Major's, passing The Brunswick and
observing some diamond-back shells in the window said, "Major, have you any
real live terrapins?"
[Illustration: Henry Woodfin Grady One of Mr. Watterson's "Boys".]
"Live!" cried The Frenchman. "Only this morning I open the ice box and they
were all dancing the cancan."
"Major," persisted the friend, "I'll go you a bottle of Veuve Cliquot, you
cannot show me an actual living terrapin."
"What do you take me for--confidence man?" The Major retorted. "How you
expect an old sport like me to bet upon a certainty?"
"Never mind your ethics. The wager is drink, not money. In any event we
shall have the wine."
"Oh, well," says The Frenchman, with a shrug and a droll grimace, "if you
insist on paying for a bottle of wine come with me."
He took a lighted candle, and together they went back to the ice box. It
was literally filled with diamond backs, and my friend thought he was gone
"La!" says The Major with triumph, rummaging among the mass of shells with
his cane as he held the candle aloft.
"But," says my friend, ready to surrender, yet taking a last chance, "you
told me they were dancing the cancan!"
The Major picked up a terrapin and turned it over in his hand. Quite numb
and frozen, the animal within made no sign. Then he stirred the shells
about in the box with his cane. Still not a show of life. Of a sudden he
stopped, reflected a moment, then looked at his watch.
"Ah," he murmured. "I quite forget. The terrapin, they are asleep. It is
ten-thirty, and the terrapin he regularly go to sleep at ten o'clock by
the watch every night." And without another word he reached for the Veuve
For all his volubility in matters of romance and sentiment The Major was
exceeding reticent about his immediate self and his own affairs. His
legends referred to the distant of time and place. A certain dignity could
not be denied him, and, on occasion, a proper reserve; he rarely mentioned
his business--though he worked like a slave, and could not have been making
much or any profit--so that there rose the query how he contrived to make
both ends meet. Little by little I came into the knowledge that there was
a money supply from somewhere; finally, it matters not how, that he had an
annuity of forty thousand francs, paid in quarterly installments of ten
thousand francs each.
Occasionally he mentioned "the Old House," and in relating the famous
Sophonisba episode late at night, and only in the very fastnesses of
the wine cellar, as it were, at the most lachrymose passage he spoke of
"l'Oncle Celestin," with the deepest feeling.
"Did you ever hear The Frenchman tell that story about Sophonisba?" Doctor
Stoic, whom on account of his affectation of insensibility we were wont to
call Old Adamant, once asked me. "Well, sir, the other night he told it to
me, and he was drunk, and he cried, sir; and I was drunk, and I cried too!"
I had known The Frenchman now ten or a dozen years. That he came
from Marseilles, that he had served on the Confederate side in the
Trans-Mississippi, that he possessed an annuity, that he must have been
well-born and reared, that he was simple, yet canny, and in his money
dealings scrupulously honest--was all I could be sure of. What had he done
to be ashamed about or wish to conceal? In what was he a black sheep, for
that he had been one seemed certain? Had the beautiful woman, his wife--a
tireless church and charity worker, who lived the life of a recluse and a
saint--had she reclaimed him from his former self? I knew that she had
been the immediate occasion of his turning over a new leaf. But before her
time what had he been, what had he done?
Late one night, when the rain was falling and the streets were empty, I
entered The Brunswick. It was empty too. In the farthest corner of the
little dining room The Major, his face buried in his hands, laid upon the
table in front of him, sat silently weeping. He did not observe my entrance
and I seated myself on the opposite side of the table. Presently he looked
up, and seeing me, without a word passed me a letter which, all blistered
with tears, had brought him to this distressful state. It was a formal
French burial summons, with its long list of family names--his among the
rest--the envelope, addressed in a lady's hand--his sister's, the wife of
a nobleman in high military command--the postmark "Lyon." Uncle Celestin
Thereafter The Frenchman told me much which I may not recall and must not
repeat; for, included in that funeral list were some of the best names in
France, Uncle Celestin himself not the least of them.
At last he died, and as mysteriously as he had come his body was taken
away, nobody knew when, nobody where, and with it went the beautiful woman,
his wife, of whom from that day to this I have never heard a word.
Chapter the Fifteenth
Still the Gay Capital of France--Its Environs--Walewska and De
Morny--Thackeray in Paris--A _Pension_ Adventure
Each of the generations thinks itself commonplace. Familiarity breeds
equally indifference and contempt. Yet no age of the world has witnessed so
much of the drama of life--of the romantic and picturesque--as the age
we live in. The years betwixt Agincourt and Waterloo were not more
delightfully tragic than the years between Serajevo and Senlis.
The gay capital of France remains the center of the stage and retains the
interest of the onlooking universe. All roads lead to Paris as all roads
led to Rome. In Dickens' day "a tale of two cities" could only mean London
and Paris then, and ever so unalike. To be brought to date the title would
have now to read "three," or even "four," cities, New York and Chicago
putting in their claims for mundane recognition.
I have been not only something of a traveller, but a diligent student
of history and a voracious novel reader, and, once-in-a-while, I get my
history and my fiction mixed. This has been especially the case when the
hum-drum of the Boulevards has driven me from the fascinations of the Beau
Quartier into the by-ways of the Marais and the fastnesses of what was once
the Latin Quarter. More than fifty years of intimacy have enabled me to
learn many things not commonly known, among them that Paris is the most
orderly and moral city in the world, except when, on rare and brief
occasions, it has been stirred to its depths.
I have crossed the ocean many times--have lived, not sojourned, on the
banks of the Seine, and, as I shall never see the other side again--do
not want to see it in its time of sorrow and garb of mourning--I may be
forgiven a retrospective pause in this egotistic chronicle. Or, shall I not
say, a word or two of affectionate retrogression, though perchance it leads
me after the manner of Silas Wegg to drop into poetry and take a turn with
a few ghosts into certain of their haunts, when you, dear sir, or madame,
or miss, as the case may be, and I were living that "other life," whereof
we remember so little that we cannot recall who we were, or what name we
went by, howbeit now-and-then we get a glimpse in dreams, or a "hunch" from
the world of spirits, or spirts-and-water, which makes us fancy we might
have been Julius Caesar, or Cleopatra--as maybe we were!--or at least Joan
of Arc, or Jean Valjean!
Let me repeat that upon no spot of earth has the fable we call existence
had so rare a setting and rung up its curtain upon such a succession of
performances; has so concentrated human attention upon mundane affairs; has
called such a muster roll of stage favorites; has contributed to romance so
many heroes and heroines, to history so many signal episodes and personal
exploits, to philosophy so much to kindle the craving for vital knowledge,
to stir sympathy and to awaken reflection.
Greece and Rome seem but myths of an Age of Fable. They live for us as
pictures live, as statues live. What was it I was saying about statues--
that they all look alike to me? There are too many of them. They bring the
ancients down to us in marble and bronze, not in flesh and blood. We do not
really laugh with Terence and Horace, nor weep with AEschylus and Homer. The
very nomenclature has a ticket air like tags on a collection of curios in
an auction room, droning the dull iteration of a catalogue. There is as
little to awaken and inspire in the system of religion and ethics of the
pagan world they lived in as in the eyes of the stone effigies that stare
blankly upon us in the British Museum, the Uffizi and the Louvre.
We walk the streets of the Eternal City with wonderment, not with pity, the
human side quite lost in the archaic. What is Caesar to us, or we to Caesar?
Jove's thunder no longer terrifies, and we look elsewhere than the Medici
Venus for the lights o' love.
Not so with Paris. There the unbroken line of five hundred
years--semi-modern years, marking a longer period than we commonly ascribe
to Athens or Rome--beginning with the exit of this our own world from the
dark ages into the partial light of the middle ages, and continuing thence
through the struggle of man toward achievement--tells us a tale more
consecutive and thrilling, more varied and instructive, than may be found
in all the pages of all the chroniclers and poets of the civilizations
which vibrated between the Bosphorus and the Tiber, to yield at last to
triumphant Barbarism swooping down from Tyrol crag and Alpine height, from
the fastnesses of the Rhine and the Rhone, to swallow luxury and culture.
Refinement had done its perfect work. It had emasculated man and unsexed
woman and brought her to the front as a political force, even as it is
trying to do now.
The Paris of Balzac and Dumas, of De Musset and Hugo--even of
Thackeray--could still be seen when I first went there. Though our age is
as full of all that makes for the future of poetry and romance, it does not
contemporaneously lend itself to sentimental abstraction. Yet it is hard to
separate fact and fiction here; to decide between the true and the
false; to pluck from the haze with which time has enveloped them, and to
distinguish the puppets of actual flesh and blood who lived and moved and
had their being, and the phantoms of imagination called into life and
given each its local habitation and its name by the poet's pen working its
immemorial spell upon the reader's credulity.
To me D'Artagnan is rather more vital than Richelieu. Hugo's imps
and Balzac's bullies dance down the stage and shut from the view the
tax-collectors and the court favorites. The mousquetaires crowd the field
marshals off the scene. There is something real in Quasimodo, in Caesar de
Birotteau, in Robert Macaire, something mythical in Mazarin, in the Regent
and in Jean Lass. Even here, in faraway Kentucky, I can shut my eyes and
see the Lady of Dreams as plainly as if she were coming out of the Bristol
or the Ritz to step into her automobile, while the Grande Mademoiselle is
merely a cloud of clothes and words that for me mean nothing at all.
I once passed a week, day by day, roaming through the Musee Carnavalet.
Madame de Sevigne had an apartment and held her salon there for nearly
twenty years. Hard by is the house where the Marquise de Brinvilliers--a
gentle, blue-eyed thing they tell us--a poor, insane creature she must have
been--disseminated poison and death, and, just across and beyond the Place
des Vosges, the Hotel de Sens, whither Queen Margot took her doll-rags and
did her spriting after she and Henri Quatre had agreed no longer to slide
down the same cellar door. There is in the Museum a death-mask, colored and
exceeding life-like, taken the day after Ravaillac delivered the finishing
knife-thrust in the Rue de Ferronnerie, which represents the Bearnais as
anything but a tamer of hearts. He was a fighter, however, from Wayback,
and I dare say Dumas' narrative is quite as authentic as any.
One can scarce wonder that men like Hugo and Balzac chose this quarter
of the town to live in--and Rachael, too!--it having given such frequent
shelter to so many of their fantastic creations, having been the real abode
of a train of gallants and bravos, of saints and harlots from the days of
Diane de Poitiers to the days of Pompadour and du Barry, and of statesmen
and prelates likewise from Sully to Necker, from Colbert to Turgot.
I speak of the Marais as I might speak of Madison Square, or Hyde Park--as
a well-known local section--yet how few Americans who have gone to Paris
have ever heard of it. It is in the eastern division of the town. One finds
it a curious circumstance that so many if not most of the great cities
somehow started with the rising, gradually to migrate toward the setting
When I first wandered about Paris there was little west of the Arch of
Stars except groves and meadows. Neuilly and Passy were distant villages.
Auteuil was a safe retreat for lovers and debtors, with comic opera villas
nestled in high-walled gardens. To Auteuil Armand Duval and his Camille
hied away for their short-lived idyl. In those days there was a lovely lane
called Marguerite Gautier, with a dovecote pointed out as the very "rustic
dwelling" so pathetically sung in Verdi's tuneful score and tenderly
described in the original Dumas text. The Boulevard Montmorenci long ago
plowed the shrines of romance out of the knowledge of the living, and a
part of the Longchamps racecourse occupies the spot whither impecunious
poets and adventure-seeking wives repaired to escape the insistence of
cruel bailiffs and the spies of suspicious and monotonous husbands.
Tempus fugit! I used to read Thackeray's Paris Sketches with a kind of awe.
The Thirties and the Forties, reincarnated and inspired by his glowing
spirit, seemed clad in translucent garments, like the figures in the
Nibelungenlied, weird, remote, glorified. I once lived in the street "for
which no rhyme our language yields," next door to a pastry shop
that claimed to have furnished the mise en scene for the "Ballad of
Bouillabaisse," and I often followed the trail of Louis Dominic Cartouche
"down that lonely and crooked byway that, setting forth from a palace yard,
led finally to the rear gate of a den of thieves." Ah, well-a-day! I have
known my Paris now twice as long as Thackeray knew his Paris, and my Paris
has been as interesting as his Paris, for it includes the Empire, the Siege
and the Republic.
I knew and sat for months at table with Comtesse Walewska, widow of the
bastard son of Napoleon Bonaparte. The Duke de Morny was rather a person in
his way and Gambetta was no slouch, as Titmarsh would himself agree. I knew
them both. The Mexican scheme, which was going to make every Frenchman
rich, was even more picturesque and tragical than the Mississippi bubble.
There were lively times round about the last of the Sixties and the early
Seventies. The Terror lasted longer, but it was not much more lurid than
the Commune; the Hotel de Ville and the Tuileries in flames, the column
gone from the Place Vendome, when I got there just after the siege. The
regions of the beautiful Opera House and of the venerable Notre Dame they
told me had been but yesterday running streams of blood. At the corner of
the Rue de la Paix and the Rue Dannou (they called it then the Rue St.
Augustine) thirty men, women, and boys were one forenoon stood against
the wall and shot, volley upon volley, to death. In the Sacristy of the
Cathedral over against the Morgue and the Hotel Dieu, they exhibit the
gore-stained vestments of three archbishops of Paris murdered within as
Thackeray came to Paris when a very young man. He was for painting
pictures, not for writing books, and he retained his artistic yearnings if
not ambitions long after he had become a great and famous man of letters.
It was in Paris that he married his wife, and in Paris that the melancholy
finale came to pass; one of the most heartbreaking chapters in literary
His little girls lived here with their grandparents. The elder of them
relates how she was once taken up some flights of stairs by the Countess X
to the apartment of a frail young man to whom the Countess was carrying a
basket of fruit; and how the frail young man insisted, against the protest
of the Countess, upon sitting at the piano and playing; and of how they
came out again, the eyes of the Countess streaming with tears, and of her
saying, as they drove away, "Never, never forget, my child, as long as
you live, that you have heard Chopin play." It was in one of the lubberly
houses of the Place Vendome that the poet of the keyboard died a few days
later. Just around the corner, in the Rue du Mont Thabor, died Alfred de
Musset. A brass plate marks the house.
May I not here transcribe that verse of the famous "Ballad of
Bouillabaisse," which I have never been able to recite, or read aloud, and
part of which I may at length take to myself:
_"Ah me, how quick the days are flitting!
I mind me of a time that's gone,
When here I'd sit, as now I'm sitting
In this same place--but not alone--
A fair young form was nestled near me,
A dear, dear face looked fondly up,
And sweetly spoke and smiled to hear me,
There's no one now to share my cup."_
The writer of these lines a cynic! Nonsense. When will the world learn to
It is impossible to speak of Paris without giving a foremost place in the
memorial retrospect to the Bois de Boulogne, the Parisian's Coney Island.
I recall that I passed the final Sunday of my last Parisian sojourn just
before the outbreak of the World War with a beloved family party in the
joyous old Common. There is none like it in the world, uniting the urban
to the rural with such surpassing grace as perpetually to convey a double
sensation of pleasure; primal in its simplicity, superb in its setting; in
the variety and brilliancy of the life which, upon sunny afternoons, takes
possession of it and makes it a cross between a parade and a paradise.
There was a time when, rather far away for foot travel, the Bois might
be considered a driving park for the rich. It fairly blazed with the
ostentatious splendor of the Second Empire; the shoddy Duke with his shady
retinue, in gilded coach-and-four; the world-famous courtesan, bedizened
with costly jewels and quite as well known as the Empress; the favorites
of the Tuileries, the Comedie Francaise, the Opera, the Jardin Mabille,
forming an unceasing and dazzling line of many-sided frivolity from the
Port de Ville to the Port St. Cloud, circling round La Bagatelle and
ranging about the Cafe Cascade, a human tiara of diamonds, a moving bouquet
of laces and rubies, of silks and satins and emeralds and sapphires. Those
were the days when the Due de Morny, half if not full brother of the
Emperor, ruled as king of the Bourse, and Cora Pearl, a clever and not at
all good-looking Irish girl gone wrong, reigned as Queen of the Demimonde.
All this went by the board years ago. Everywhere, more or less, electricity
has obliterated distinctions of rank and wealth. It has circumvented lovers
and annihilated romance. The Republic ousted the bogus nobility. The
subways and the tram cars connect the Bois de Boulogne and the Bois de
Vincennes so closely that the poorest may make himself at home in either or
The automobile, too, oddly enough, is proving a very leveller. The crowd
recognizes nobody amid the hurly-burly of coupes, pony-carts, and taxicabs,
each trying to pass the other. The conglomeration of personalities effaces
the identity alike of the statesman and the artist, the savant and the
cyprian. No six-inch rules hedge the shade of the trees and limit the glory
of the grass. The _ouvrier_ can bring his brood and his basket and
have his picnic where he pleases. The pastry cook and his chere amie,
the coiffeur and his grisette can spoon by the lake-side as long as the
moonlight lasts, and longer if they list, with never a gendarme to say them
nay, or a rude voice out of the depths hoarsely to declaim, "allez!" The
Bois de Boulogne is literally and absolutely a playground, the playground
of the people, and this last Sunday of mine, not fewer than half a million
of Parisians were making it their own.
Half of these encircled the Longchamps racecourse. The other half were
shared by the boats upon the lagoons and the bosky dells under the summer
sky and the cafes and the restaurants with which the Bois abounds. Our
party, having exhausted the humors of the drive, repaired to Pre Catalan.
Aside from the "two old brides" who are always in evidence on such
occasions, there was a veritable "young couple," exceedingly pretty to look
at, and delightfully in love! That sort of thing is not so uncommon in
Paris as cynics affect to think.
If it be true, as the witty Frenchman observes, that "gambling is the
recreation of gentlemen and the passion of fools," it is equally true that
love is a game where every player wins if he sticks to it and is loyal to
it. Just as credit is the foundation of business is love both the asset
and the trade-mark of happiness. To see it is to believe it, and--though a
little cash in hand is needful to both--where either is wanting, look out
for sheriffs and scandals.
Pre Catalan, once a pasture for cows with a pretty kiosk for the sale
of milk, has latterly had a tea-room big enough to seat a thousand, not
counting the groves which I have seen grow up about it thickly dotted with
booths and tables, where some thousands more may regale themselves. That
Sunday it was never so glowing with animation and color. As it makes one
happy to see others happy it makes one adore his own land to witness that
which makes other lands great.
I have not loved Paris as a Parisian, but as an American; perhaps it is a
stretch of words to say I love Paris at all. I used to love to go there and
to behold the majesty of France. I have always liked to mark the startling
contrasts of light and shade. I have always known what all the world now
knows, that beneath the gayety of the French there burns a patriotic
and consuming fire, a high sense of public honor; a fine spirit of
self-sacrifice along with the sometimes too aggressive spirit of freedom.
In 1873 I saw them two blocks long and three files deep upon the Rue St.
Honore press up to the Bank of France, old women and old men with their
little all tied in handkerchiefs and stockings to take up the tribute
required by Bismarck to rid the soil of the detested German. They did it.
Alone they did it--the French people--the hard-working, frugal, loyal
commonalty of France--without asking the loan of a sou from the world
Writing of that last Sunday in the Bois de Boulogne, I find by recurring
to the record that I said: "There is a deal more of good than bad in every
Nation. I take off my hat to the French. But, I have had my fling and I am
quite ready to go home. Even amid the gayety and the glare, the splendor of
color and light, the Hungarian band wafting to the greenery and the stars
the strains of the delicious waltz, La Veuve Joyeuse her very self--yea,
many of her--tapping the time at many adjacent tables, the song that fills
my heart is 'Hame, Hame, Hame!--Hame to my ain countree.' Yet, to come
again, d'ye mind? I should be loath to say good-by forever to the Bois
de Boulogne. I want to come back to Paris. I always want to come back to
Paris. One needs not to make an apology or give a reason.
"We turn rather sadly away from Pre Catalan and the Cafe Cascade. We
glide adown the flower-bordered path and out from the clusters of Chinese
lanterns, and leave the twinkling groves to their music and merry-making.
Yonder behind us, like a sentinel, rises Mont Valerien. Before us glimmer
the lamps of uncountable coaches, as our own, veering toward the city,
the moon just topping the tower of St. Jacques de la Boucherie and
silver-plating the bronze figures upon the Arch of Stars.
"We enter the Port Maillot. We turn into the Avenue du Bois. Presently we
shall sweep with the rest through the Champs Elysees and on to the ocean of
the infinite, the heart of the mystery we call Life, nowhere so condensed,
so palpable, so appealing. Roll the screen away! The shades of Clovis and
Genevieve may be seen hand-in-hand with the shades of Martel and Pepin,
taking the round of the ghost-walk between St. Denis and St. Germain, now
le Balafre and again Navarre, now the assassins of the Ligue and now the
assassins of the Terror, to keep them company. Nor yet quite all on murder
bent, some on pleasure; the Knights and Ladies of the Cloth of Gold and the
hosts of the Renaissance: Cyrano de Bergerac and Francois Villon leading
the ragamuffin procession; the jades of the Fronde, Longueville, Chevreuse
and fair-haired Anne of Austria; and Ninon, too, and Manon; and the
never-to-be-forgotten Four, 'one for all and all for one;' Cagliostro and
Monte Cristo; on the side, Rabelais taking notes and laughing under his
cowl. Catherine de Medici and Robespierre slinking away, poor, guilty
things, into the pale twilight of the Dawn!
"Names! Names! Only names? I am not just so sure about that. In any event,
what a roll call! We are such stuff as dreams are made of, and our little
life is rounded by a sleep; the selfsame sleep which these, our living dead
men and women in steel armor and gauzy muslins, in silken hose and sock and
buskin, epaulettes and top boots, brocades and buff facings, have endured
so long and know so well!
"If I should die in Paris I should expect them--or some of them--to meet me
at the barriers and to say, 'Behold, the wickedness that was done in the
world, the cruelty and the wrong, dwelt in the body, not in the soul of
man, which freed from its foul incasement, purified and made eternal by the
hand of death, shall see both the glory and the hand of God!'"
It was not to be. I shall not die in Paris. I shall never come again.
Neither shall I make apology for this long quotation by myself from myself,
for am I not inditing an autobiography, so called?
Chapter the Sixteenth
Monte Carlo--The European Shrine of Sport and Fashion--Apocryphal
Gambling Stories--Leopold, King of the Belgians--An Able and
Picturesque Man of Business
Having disported ourselves in and about Paris, next in order comes a
journey to the South of France--that is to the Riviera--by geography the
main circle of the Mediterranean Sea, by proclamation Cannes, Nice, and
Mentone, by actual fact and count, Monte Carlo--even the swells adopting a
certain hypocrisy as due to virtue.
Whilst Monte Carlo is chiefly, I might say exclusively, identified in the
general mind with gambling, and was indeed at the outset but a gambling
resort, it long ago outgrew the limits of the Casino, becoming a Mecca
of the world of fashion as well as the world of sport. Half the ruling
sovereigns of Europe and all the leaders of European swelldom, the more
prosperous of the demi-mondaines and no end of the merely rich of every
land, congregate there and thereabouts. At the top of the season the show
of opulence and impudence is bewildering.
The little principality of Monaco is hardly bigger than the Cabbage Patch
of the renowned Mrs. Wiggs. It is, however, more happily situate. Nestled
under the heights of La Condamine and Tete de Chien and looking across
a sheltered bay upon the wide and blue Mediterranean, it has better
protection against the winds of the North than Nice, or Cannes, or Mentone.
It is an appanage--in point of fact the only estate--remaining to the once
powerful Grimaldi family.
In the early days of land-piracy Old Man Grimaldi held his own with Old Man
Hohenzollern and Old Man Hapsburg. The Savoys and the Bourbons were kith
and kin. But in the long run of Freebooting the Grimaldis did not keep
up with the procession. How they retained even this remnant of inherited
brigandage and self-appointed royalty, I do not know. They are here under
leave of the Powers and the especial protection, strange to say, of the
Something over fifty years ago, being hard-up for cash, the Grimaldi of the
period fell under the wiles of an ingenious Alsatian gambler, Guerlac by
name, who foresaw that Baden-Baden and Hombourg were approaching their
finish and that the sports must look elsewhere for their living, the idle
rich for their sport. This tiny "enclave" in French territory presented
many advantages over the German Dukedoms. It was an independent sovereignty
issuing its own coins and postage stamps. It was in proud possession of
a half-dozen policemen which it called its "army." It was paradisaic in
beauty and climate. Its "ruler" was as poor as Job's turkey, but by no
means as proud as Lucifer.
The bargain was struck. The gambler smote the rock of Monte Carlo as with a
wand of enchantment and a stream of plenty burst forth. The mountain-side
responded to the touch. It chortled in its glee and blossomed as the rose.
The region known as the Riviera comprises, as I have said, the whole
land-circle of the Mediterranean Sea. But, as generally written and
understood, it stands for the shoreline between Marseilles and Genoa. The
two cities are connected by the Corniche Road, built by the First Napoleon,
who learned the need of it when he made his Italian campaign, and the
modern railway, the distance 260 miles, two-thirds of the way through
France, the residue through Italy, and all of it surpassing fine.
The climate is very like that of Southern Florida. But as in Florida they
have the "Nor'westers" and the "Nor'easters," on the Riviera they have the
"mistral." In Europe there is no perfect winter weather north of Spain, as
in the United States none north of Cuba.
I have often thought that Havana might be made a dangerous rival of Monte
Carlo under the one-man power, exercising its despotism with benignant
intelligence and spending its income honestly upon the development of both
the city and the island. The motley populace would probably be none the
worse for it. The Government could upon a liberal tariff collect not less
than thirty-five millions of annual revenue. Twenty-five of these millions
would suffice for its own support. Ten millions a year laid out upon
harbors, roadways and internal improvements in general would within ten
years make the Queen of the Antilles the garden spot and playground of
Christendom. They would build a Casino to outshine even the architectural
miracles of Charles Garnier. Then would Havana put Cairo out of business
and give the Prince of Monaco a run for his money.
With the opening of every Monte Carlo season the newspapers used to tell of
the colossal winnings of purely imaginary players. Sometimes the favored
child of chance was a Russian, sometimes an Englishman, sometimes an
American. He was usually a myth, of course. As Mrs. Prig observed to Mrs.
Camp, "there never was no sich person."
Charles Garnier, the Parisian architect, came and built the Casino, next to
the Library of Congress at Washington and the Grand Opera House at Paris
the most beautiful building in the world, with incomparable gardens and
commanding esplanades to set it off and display it. Around it palatial
hotels and private mansions and villas sprang into existence. Within it a
gold-making wheel of fortune fabricated the wherewithal. Old Man Grimaldi
in his wildest dreams of land-piracy--even Old Man Hohenzollern, or Old Man
Hapsburg--never conceived the like.
There is no poverty, no want, no taxes--not any sign of dilapidation or
squalor anywhere in the principality of Monaco. Yet the "people," so
called, have been known to lapse into a state of discontent. They sometimes
"yearned for freedom." Too well fed and cared for, too rid of dirt and
debt, too flourishing, they "riz." Prosperity grew monotonous. They even
had the nerve to demand a "Constitution."
The reigning Prince was what Yellowplush would call "a scientific gent."
His son and heir, however, had not his head in the clouds, being in point
of fact of the earth earthly, and, of consequence, more popular than his
father. He came down from the Castle on the hill to the marketplace in the
town and says he: "What do you galoots want, anyhow?"
First, their "rights." Then a change in the commander-in-chief of the army,
which had grown from six to sixteen. Finally, a Board of Aldermen and a
"Is that all?" says his Royal Highness. They said it was. "Then," says he,
"take it, mes enfants, and bless you!"
So, all went well again. The toy sovereignty began to rattle around in its
own conceit, the "people" regarded themselves, and wished to be regarded,
as a chartered Democracy. The little gim-crack economic system experienced
the joys of reform. A "New Nationalism" was established in the brewery down
by the railway station and a reciprocity treaty was negotiated between the
Casino and Vanity Fair, witnessing the introduction of two roulette tables
and an extra brazier for cigar stumps.
But the Prince of Monaco stood on one point. He would have no Committee on
Credentials. He told me once that he had heard of Tom Reed and Champ Clark
and Uncle Joe Cannon, but that he preferred Uncle Joe. He would, and he
did, name his own committees both in the Board of Aldermen and the Common
Council. Thus, for the time being, "insurgency" was quelled. And once more
serenely sat the Castle on the hill hard by the Cathedral. Calmly again
flowed the waters in the harbor. More and more the autos honked outside the
Casino. Within "the little ball ever goes merrily round," and according to
the croupiers and the society reporters "the gentleman wins and the poor
To illustrate, I recall when on a certain season the lucky sport of print
and fancy was an Englishman. In one of those farragos of stupidity and
inaccuracy which are syndicated and sent from abroad to America, I found
the following piece with the stuff and nonsense habitually worked off on
the American press as "foreign correspondence":
"Now and then the newspapers report authentic instances of large sums
having been won at the gaming tables at Monte Carlo. One of the most
fortunate players at Monte Carlo for a long time past has been a Mr.
Darnbrough, an Englishman, whose remarkable run of luck had furnished the
morsels of gossip in the capitals of Continental Europe recently.
"If reports are true, he left the place with the snug sum of more than
1,000,000 francs to the good as the result of a month's play. But this, I
hear, did not represent all of Mr. Darnbrough's winnings. The story goes
that on the opening day of his play he staked 24,000 francs, winning all
along the line. Emboldened by his success, he continued playing, winning
again and again with marvelous luck. At one period, it is said, his credit
balance amounted to no less than 1,850,000 francs; but from that moment
Dame Fortune ceased to smile upon him. He lost steadily from 200,000 to
300,000 francs a day, until, recognizing that luck had turned against him,
he had sufficient strength of will to turn his back on the tables and
strike for home with the very substantial winnings that still remained.
"On another occasion a well-known London stock broker walked off with
little short of L40,000. This remarkable performance occasioned no small
amount of excitement in the gambling rooms, as such an unusual incident
"Bent on making a 'plunge,' he went from one table to another, placing the
maximum stake on the same number. Strange to relate, at each table the same
number won, and it was his number. Recognizing that this perhaps might be
his lucky day, the player wended his way to the trente-et-quarante room
and put the maximum on three of the tables there. To his amazement, he
discovered that there also he had been so fortunate as to select the
"The head croupier confided to a friend of the writer who happened to be
present that that day had been the worst in the history of the Monaco bank
for years. He it was also who mentioned the amount won by the fortunate
Londoner, as given above."
It is prudent of the space-writers to ascribe such "information" as this
to "the head croupier," because it is precisely the like that such an
authority would give out. People upon the spot know that nothing of the
kind happened, and that no person of that name had appeared upon the scene.
The story on the face of it bears to the knowing its own refutation, being
absurd in every detail. As if conscious of this, the author proceeds to
quality it in the following:
"It is a well-known fact that one of the most successful players at the
Monte Carlo tables was Wells, who as the once popular music-hall song put
it, 'broke the bank' there. He was at the zenith of his fame, about twenty
years ago, when his escapades--and winnings--were talked about widely and
envied in European sporting circles and among the demi-monde.
"In ten days, it was said, he made upward of L35,000 clear winnings at
the tables after starting with the modest capital of L400. It must not be
forgotten, however, that at his trial later Wells denied this, stating
that all he had made was L7,000 at four consecutive sittings. He made the
statement that, even so, he had been a loser in the end.
"The reader may take his choice of the two statements, but among
frequenters of the rooms at Monte Carlo it is generally considered
impossible to amass large winnings without risking large stakes. Even then
the chances are 1,000 to 1 in favor of the bank. Yet occasionally there
are winnings running into four or five figures, and to human beings the
possibility of chance constitutes an irresistible fascination.
"Only a few years ago a young American was credited with having risen from
the tables $75,000 richer than when first he had sat down. It was his first
visit to Monte Carlo and he had not come with any system to break the bank
or with any 'get-rich-quick' idea. For the novelty of the thing he risked
about $4,000, and lost it all in one fell swoop without turning a hair.
Then he 'plunged' with double that amount, but the best part of that, too,
went the same way. Nothing daunted, he next ventured $10,000. This time
fickle fortune favored him. He played on with growing confidence and when
his winnings amounted to the respectable sum of $75,000 he had the good
sense to quit and to leave the place despite the temptation to continue."
The "man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo," and gave occasion for the
song, was not named "Wells" and he was not an Englishman. He was an
American. I knew him well and soon after the event had from his own lips
the whole story.
He came to Monte Carlo with a good deal of money won at draw-poker in a
club at Paris and went away richer by some 100,000 francs (about $20,000)
than he came.
The catch-line of the song is misleading. There is no such thing as
"breaking the bank at Monte Carlo." This particular player won so fast upon
two or three "spins" that the table at which he played had to suspend until
it could be replenished by another "bank," perhaps ten minutes in point of
time. There used to be some twenty tables. Just how one man could play at
more than one of them at one time a "foreign correspondent," but only
a "foreign correspondent," might explain to the satisfaction of the
I very much doubt whether any player ever won more than 100,000 francs at a
single sitting. To do even that he must plunge like a ship in a hurricane.
There is, of course, a saving limit set by the Casino Company upon the
play. It is to the interest of the Casino to cultivate the idea, and the
letter writers are willing tools. Not only at Monte Carlo, but everywhere,
in dearth of news, gambling stories come cheap and easy. And the cheaper
the story the bigger the play. "The Jedge raised him two thousand dollars.
The Colonel raised him back ten thousand more. Both of 'em stood pat. The
Jedge bet him a hundred thousand. The Colonel called. 'What you got?' says
he. 'Ace high,' says the Jedge; 'what you got?' 'Pair o' deuces,' says the
Assuredly the "play" in the Casino is entirely fair. It could hardly be
otherwise with such crowds of players at the tables, often covering the
whole "layout." But there is no such thing as "honest gambling." The
"house" must have "the best of it." A famous American gambler, when I had
referred to one of his guild, lately deceased, as "an honest gambler," said
to me: "What do you mean by 'an honest gambler'?"
"A gambler who will not take unfair advantage!" I answered.
"Well," said he, "the gambler must have his advantage, because gambling is
his livelihood. He must fit himself for its profitable pursuit by learning
all the tricks of trade like other artists and artificers. With him it is
win or starve."
Among the variegate crowds that thronged the highways and byways of Monte
Carlo in those days there was no single figure more observed and striking
than that of Leopold the Second, King of the Belgians. He had a bungalow
overlooking the sea where he lived three months of the year like a country
gentleman. Although I have made it a rule to avoid courts and courtiers,
an event brought me into acquaintance with this best abused man in Europe,
enabling me to form my own estimate of his very interesting personality.
He was not at all what his enemies represented him to be, a sot, a gambler
and a roue. In appearance a benignant burgomaster, tall and stalwart; in
manner and voice very gentle, he should be described as first of all a man
of business. His weakness was rather for money than women. Speaking of
the most famous of the Parisian dancers with whom his name had been
scandalously associated, he told me that he had never met her but once in
his life, and that after the newspaper gossips had been busy for years with
their alleged love affair. "I kissed her hand," he related, "and bade her
adieu, saying, 'Ah, ma'mselle, you and I have indeed reason to congratulate
It was the Congo business that lay at the bottom of the abuse of Leopold.
Henry Stanley had put him up to this. It turned out a gold mine, and then
two streams of defamation were let loose; one from the covetous commercial
standpoint and the other from the humanitarian. Between them, seeking to
drive him out, they depicted him as a monster of cruelty and depravity.
A King must be an anchorite to escape calumny, and Leopold was not an
anchorite. I asked him why I never saw him in the Casino. "Play," he
answered, "does not interest me. Besides, I do not enjoy being talked
about. Nor do I think the game they play there quite fair."
"In what way do you consider it unfair, your Majesty?" I asked.
"In the zero," he replied. "At the Brussels Casino I do not allow them to
have a zero. Come and see me and I will show you a perfectly equal chance
for your money, to win or lose."
Years after I was in Brussels. Leopold had gone to his account and his
nephew, Albert, had come to the throne. There was not a roulette table in
the Casino, but there was one conveniently adjacent thereto, managed by a
clique of New York gamblers, which had both a single "and a double O,"
and, as appeared when the municipality made a descent upon the place, was
ingeniously wired to throw the ball wherever the presiding coupier wanted
it to go.
I do not believe, however, that Leopold was a party to this, or could have
had any knowledge of it. He was a skillful, not a dishonest, business man,
who showed his foresight when he listened to Stanley and took him under his
wing. If the Congo had turned out worthless nobody would ever have heard of
the delinquencies of the King of the Belgians.
Chapter the Seventeenth
A Parisian _Pension_--The Widow of Walewska--Napoleon's
Daughter-in-Law--The Changeless--A Moral and Orderly City
I have said that I knew the widow of Walewska, the natural son of Napoleon
Bonaparte by the Polish countess he picked up in Warsaw, who followed him
to Paris; and thereby hangs a tale which may not be without interest.
In each of our many sojourns in Paris my wife and I had taken an apartment,
living the while in the restaurants, at first the cheaper, like the Cafe de
Progress and the Duval places; then the Boeuf a la Mode, the Cafe Voisin
and the Cafe Anglais, with Champoux's, in the Place de la Bourse, for a
regular luncheon resort.
At length, the children something more than half grown, I said: "We have
never tried a Paris _pension_."
So with a half dozen recommended addresses we set out on a house hunt. We
had not gone far when our search was rewarded by a veritable find. This
was on the Avenue de Courcelles, not far from the Pare Monceau; newly
furnished; reasonable charges; the lady manager a beautiful well-mannered
woman, half Scotch and half French.
We moved in. When dinner was called the boarders assembled in the very
elegant drawing-room. Madame presented us to Baron ----. Then followed
introductions to Madame la Duchesse and Madame la Princesse and Madame la
Comtesse. Then the folding doors opened and dinner was announced.
The baron sat at the center of the table. The meal consisted of eight or
ten courses, served as if at a private house, and of surpassing quality.
During the three months that we remained there was no evidence of a
boarding house. It appeared an aristocratic family into which we had been
hospitably admitted. The baron was a delightful person. Madame la Duchesse
was the mother of Madame la Princesse, and both were charming. The
Comtesse, the Napoleonic widow, was at first a little formal, but she came
round after we had got acquainted, and, when we took our departure, it was
like leaving a veritable domestic circle.
Years after we had the sequel. The baron, a poor young nobleman, had come
into a little money. He thought to make it breed. He had an equally poor
Scotch cousin, who undertook to play hostess. Both the Duchess and the
Countess were his kinswomen. How could such a menage last?
He lost his all. What became of our fellow-lodgers I never learned, but the
venture coming to naught, the last I heard of the beautiful high-bred
lady manager, she was serving as a stewardess on an ocean liner. Nothing,
however, could exceed the luxury, the felicity and the good company
of those memorable three months _chez l'Avenue de Courcelles, Pare
We never tried a _pension_ again. We chose a delightful hotel in the
Rue de Castiglione off the Rue de Rivoli, and remained there as fixtures
until we were reckoned the oldest inhabitants. But we never deserted the
dear old Boeuf a la Mode, which we lived to see one of the most flourishing
and popular places in Paris.
In the old days there was a little hotel on the Rue Dannou, midway between
the Rue de la Paix and what later along became the Avenue de l'Opera,
called the Hotel d'Orient. It was conducted by a certain Madame Hougenin,
whose family had held the lease for more than a hundred years, and was
typical of what the comfort-seeking visitor, somewhat initiate, might find
before the modern tourist onrush overflowed all bounds and effaced the
ancient landmarks--or should I say townmarks?--making a resort instead of a
home of the gay French capital. The d'Orient was delightfully comfortable
and fabulously cheap.
The wayfarer entered a darksome passage that led to an inner court. There
were on the four sides of this seven or eight stories pierced by many
windows. There was never a lift, or what we Americans call an elevator. If
you wanted to go up you walked up; and after dark your single illuminant
was candlelight. The service could hardly be recommended, but cleanliness
herself could find no fault with the beds and bedding; nor any queer people
about; changeless; as still and stationary as a nook in the Rockies.
A young girl might dwell there year in and year out in perfect safety--many
young girls did so--madame a kind of duenna. The food--for it was a
_pension_--was all a gourmet could desire. And the wine!
I was lunching with an old Parisian friend.
"What do you think of this vintage?" says he.
"Very good," I answered. "Come and dine with me to-morrow and I will give
you the mate to it."
"What--at the d'Orient?"
"Yes, at the d'Orient."
Nevertheless, he came. When the wine was poured out he took a sip.
"By ----!" he exclaimed. "That is good, isn't it? I wonder where they got
it? And how?"
During the week after we had it every day. Then no more. The headwaiter,
with many apologies, explained that he had found those few bottles in a
forgotten bin, where they had lain for years, and he begged a thousand
pardons of monsieur, but we had drunk them all--_rien du plus_--no
more. I might add that precisely the same thing happened to me at the Hotel
Continental. Indeed, it is not uncommon with the French caravansaries
to keep a little extra good wine in stock for those who can distinguish
between an _ordinaire_ and a _superieur_, and are willing to pay
"See Naples and die," say the Italians. "See Paris and live," say the
French. Old friends, who have been over and back, have been of late telling
me that Paris, having woefully suffered, is nowise the Paris it was, and
as the provisional offspring of four years of desolating war I can well
believe them. But a year or two of peace, and the city will rise again,
as after the Franco-Prussian War and the Commune, which laid upon it a
sufficiently blighting hand. In spite of fickle fortune and its many ups
and downs it is, and will ever remain, "Paris, the Changeless."
I never saw the town so much itself as just before the beginning of the
world war. I took my departure in the early summer of that fateful year and
left all things booming--not a sign or trace that there had ever been aught
but boundless happiness and prosperity. It is hard, the saying has it,
to keep a squirrel on the ground, and surely Paris is the squirrel among
cities. The season just ended had been, everybody declared, uncommonly
successful from the standpoints alike of the hotels and cafes, the shop
folk and their patrons, not to mention the purely pleasure-seeking throng.
People seemed loaded with money and giddy to spend it.
The headwaiter at Voisin's told me this: "Mr. Barnes, of New York, ordered
a dinner, carte blanche, for twelve.
"'Now,' says he, 'garcon, have everything bang up, and here's seventy-five
francs for a starter.'
"The dinner was bang up. Everybody hilarious. Mr. Barnes immensely pleased.
When he came to pay his bill, which was a corker, he made no objection.
"'Garcon,' says he, 'if I ask you a question will you tell me the truth?'
"'_Oui, monsieur; certainement._'
"Well, how much was the largest tip you ever received?"
"Seventy-five francs, monsieur."
"'Very well; here are 100 francs.'
"Then, after a pause for the waiter to digest his joy and express a proper
sense of gratitude and wonder, Mr. Barnes came to time with: 'Do you
remember who was the idiot that paid you the seventy-five francs?'
"'Oh, yes, monsieur. It was you.'"
It has occurred to me that of late years--I mean the years immediately
before 1914--Paris has been rather more bent upon adapting itself to human
and moral as well as scientific progress. There has certainly been less
debauchery visible to the naked eye. I was assured that the patronage had
so fallen away from the Moulin Rouge that they were planning to turn it
into a decent theater. Nor during my sojourn did anybody in my hearing so
much as mention the Dead Rat. I doubt whether it is still in existence.
The last time I was in Maxim's--quite a dozen years ago now--a young woman
sat next to me whose story could be read in her face. She was a pretty
thing not five and twenty, still blooming, with iron-gray hair. It had
turned in a night, I was told. She had recently come from Baltimore and
knew no more what she was doing or whither she was drifting than a baby.
The old, old story: a comfortable home and a good husband; even a child or
two; a scoundrel, a scandal, an elopement, and the inevitable desertion.
Left without a dollar in the streets of Paris. She was under convoy of a
"A duke or the morgue," she whimpered, "in six months."
Three months sufficed. They dragged all that remained of her out of the
Seine, and then the whole of the pitiful disgrace and tragedy came out.
If ever I indite a volume to be entitled Adventures in Paris it will
contain not a line to feed any prurient fancy, but will embrace the record
of many little journeys between the Coiffeur and the Marche des Fleurs,
with maybe an excursion among the cemeteries and the restaurants.
Each city is as one makes it for himself. Paris has contributed greatly to
my appreciation, and perhaps my knowledge, of history and literature and
art and life. I have seen it in all its aspects; under the empire, when the
Due de Morny was king of the Bourse and Mexico was to make every Frenchman
rich; after the commune and the siege, when the Hotel de Ville was in
ruins, the palace of the Tuileries still aflame, the column gone from the
Place Vendome, and everything a blight and waste; and I have marked it rise
from its ashes, grandly, proudly, and like a queen come to her own again,
resume its primacy as the only complete metropolis in all the universe.
There is no denying it. No city can approach Paris in structural unity and
regality, in things brilliant and beautiful, in buoyancy, variety, charm
and creature comfort. Drunkenness, of the kind familiar to London and New
York, is invisible to Paris. The brandy and absinthe habit has been greatly
exaggerated. In truth, everywhere in Europe the use of intoxicants is on
the decline. They are, for the first time in France, stimulated partly
by the alarming adulteration of French wines, rigorously applying and
enforcing the pure-food laws.
As a consequence, there is a palpable and decided improvement of the
vintage of the Garonne and the Champagne country. One may get a good glass
of wine now without impoverishing himself. As men drink wine, and as the
wine is pure, they fall away from stronger drink. I have always considered,
with Jefferson, the brewery in America an excellent temperance society.
That which works otherwise is the dive which too often the brewery fathers.
They are drinking more beer in France--even making a fairly good beer. And
But gracious, this is getting upon things controversial, and if there is
anything in this world that I do hybominate, it is controversy!
Few of the wondrous changes which the Age of Miracles has wrought in my day
and generation exceeded those of ocean travel. The modern liner is but a
moving palace. Between the ports of the Old World and the ports of the
new the transit is so uneventful as to grow monotonous. There are no more
adventures on the high seas. The ocean is a thoroughfare, the crossing a
ferry. My experience forty years ago upon one of the ancient tubs which
have been supplanted by these liners would make queer reading to the
latter-day tourist, taking, let us say, any one of the steamers of any one
of the leading transatlantic companies. The difference in the appointments
of the William Penn of 1865 and the star boats of 1914 is indescribable.
It seems a fairy tale to think of a palm garden where the ladies dress for
dinner, a Hungarian band which plays for them whilst they dine, and a sky
parlor where they go after dinner for their coffee and what not; a tea-room
for the five-o'clockers; and except in excessive weather scarcely any
motion at all. It is this palm garden which most appeals to a certain lady
of my very intimate acquaintance who had made many crossings and never gone
to her meals--sick from shore to shore--until the gods ordained for her a
watery, winery, flowery paradise--where the billows ceased from troubling
and a woman could appear at her best. Since then she has sailed many times,
lodged a la Waldorf-Astoria to eat her victuals and sip her wine with
perfect contentment. Coming ashore from our last crossing a friend found
her in the Red Room of that hostel just as she had been sitting the evening
before on shipboard.
"Seems hardly any motion at all," she said, looking about her and fancying
herself still at sea, as well she might.
Chapter the Eighteenth
The Grover Cleveland Period--President Arthur and Mr. Blaine--John
Chamberlin--The Decrees of Destiny
What may be called the Grover Cleveland period of American politics began
with the election of that extraordinary person--another man of destiny--to
the governorship of New York. Nominated, as it were, by chance, he carried
the State by an unprecedented majority. That was not because of his
popularity, but that an incredible number of Republican voters refused
to support their party ticket and stayed away from the polls. The
Blaine-Conkling feud, inflamed by the murder of Garfield, had rent the
party of Lincoln and Grant asunder. Arthur, a Conkling leader, had
succeeded to the presidency.
If any human agency could have sealed the breach he might have done it. No
man, however, can achieve the impossible. The case was hopeless.
Arthur was a man of surpassing sweetness and grace. As handsome as Pierce,
as affable as McKinley, he was a more experienced and dextrous politician
than either. He had been put on the ticket with Garfield to placate
Conkling. All sorts of stories to his discredit were told during the
ensuing campaign. The Democrats made him out a tricky and typical "New York
politician." In point of fact he was a many-sided, accomplished man who
had a taking way of adjusting all conditions and adapting himself to all
With a sister as charming and tactful as he for head of his domestic
fabric, the White House bloomed again. He possessed the knack of
surrounding himself with all sorts of agreeable people. Frederick
Frelinghuysen was Secretary of State and Robert Lincoln, continued from the
Garfield Cabinet, Secretary of War. Then there were three irresistibles:
Walter Gresham, Frank Hatton and "Ben" Brewster. His home
contingent--"Clint" Wheeler, "Steve" French, and "Jake" Hess--pictured as
"ward heelers"--were, in reality, efficient and all-around, companionable
men, capable and loyal.
I was sent by the Associated Press to Washington on a fool's errand--that
is, to get an act of Congress extending copyright to the news of the
association--and, remaining the entire session, my business to meet the
official great and to make myself acceptable, I came into a certain
intimacy with the Administration circle, having long had friendly relations
with the President. In all my life I have never passed so delightful and
useless a winter.
Very early in the action I found that my mission involved a serious and
vexed question--nothing less than the creation of a new property--and I
proceeded warily. Through my uncle, Stanley Matthews, I interested the
members of the Supreme Court. The Attorney General, a great lawyer and
an old Philadelphia friend, was at my call and elbow. The Joint Library
Committee of Congress, to which the measure must go, was with me. Yet
somehow the scheme lagged.