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My Paris Note-Book. 285

occurred before now — under the presidency of M. Jules
Grevy — that the locataire and the concierge received
their invitations at the same time. * ' Did you go ?' I
asked my friend, who was the recipient of that honour.
' ' Certainement, ' ' was the answer ; " il ne faut pas de-
considerer le concierge. After all, it is not his fault any
more than mine that he received an invitation. We
apparently belong to the same set. I am not going to
give myself airs because my brother is a ' big swell'
among the Republicans, for my concierge's brother — if
he have one — may be Prime Minister to-morrow. One
thing is certain, the very fact of his receiving an invita-
tion argues his being a man of importance from M. Mol-
lard's point of view ; for M. Mollard draws up the lists
of guests, and I feel perfectly certain that M. Mollard
would not invite anyone whom he considered a nobody."

I feel certain that, with the exception of a few mem-
bers of the English Embassy in Paris, and an equal
number of English newspaper correspondents in the
French capital, there are not a dozen Englishmen who
have ever heard the name of M. Mollard, let alone seen
him ; and yet the man is worth knowing, for until very
recently he was not only the Introducteur des Ambassa-
deurs, that is, a kind of Republican Grand Chamber-
lain, but, moreover, the arbiter elegantiarum of the
official entertainments at the Presidency. A sketch of
him and his doings will give the reader a better insight
into the nature of those entertainments than half-a-dozen
chapters of description.

The origin of M. Mollard Is wrapt in obscurity. Ac-
cording to some, he was a very skilful goldsmith ; ac-
cording to others, he was a ' * working man who did not
work," but spouted at political meetings, where he
finally attracted the notice of Albert Martin, better

286 My Paris Note-Book.

known as ''Albert FOuvrier," who died in Paris only
a twelvemonth ago, obscure and forgotten — deservedly-
forgotten by all, except by those who consider the
French counterpart of Eccles a hero, and the French
counterpart of Sam Gerridge ' ' un sale bourgeois' ' in
the making. Albert 1' Ouvrier, " to use the American
expression, * * went up like a rocket and came down like
a stick ;' but his proteg^^ thanks to his really beautiful
handwriting, managed to secure a modest situation at the
offices of " Le Protocole,"* where he vegetated for more
than twenty years, utilising his spare evening hours by
playing the cornet at the Elys6e M6nilmontant and other
suburban ball-rooms. As we shall see directly, it was
not a bad initiation into his subsequent functions of
organiser of the Presidential fHes. An apprenticeship
at the gardens of the defunct Mabille, or of the equally
defunct Chateau des Fleurs, or of the still existing
Elysse-Montmartre and BuUier's would not have an-
swered the purpose as well ; for the society that for-
gathers at the Eiys6e-Bourbon on " grand nights, " and
especially the younger part of that society, has many

> In days gone by, the word protocole {anglice, protocol) was
applied to the formulary used for drawing up various public acts.
There was the notarial protocol, the protocol of process-serving,
&c. &c. The diplomatic world has preserved the word and given
it two decidedly distinct interpretations. It has applied the name
both to the reports of diplomatic conferences, congresses, and con-
ventions, and to the registers in which those reports are copied.
At present, in French administrative language, the word is used to
designate the ensemble of the formulas of courtesy regulating the
correspondence between governments, and between governments
and ministers. The "protocole" has tabulated the qualifications
and titles given to sovereigns and ministers, &c. &c. M. de
Freycinet has invented a much happier title than " protocole." He
calls it "le livre des politesses." The office of " Le Protocole" in
France is a branch of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

My Paris Note-Book. 287

more points of resemblance with the dramatis persona
of Paul de Kock's novels than with the hysterical hero-
ines and blas6 heroes of Alphonse Daudet's and Guy
de Maupassant's works. M. MoUard manages to im-
press the former ; he would be simply laughed to scorn,
even at the Elys^e- Bourbon, by the latter.

In the appended footnote I have endeavoured to con-
vey an idea of the duties assigned to '' Le Protocole."
It is more than doubtful whether M. Mollard ever mas-
tered those duties thoroughly ; but when the Empire
fell with a crash and the ' ' men of the fourth Septem-
ber' ' made a clean sweep of those to whom the tradi-
tions of etiquette and courtesy were as the air they
breathed — for Napoleon III. had not made the mistake
of dismissing them at his accession — M. Mollard was
virtually the only one who possessed any knowledge at
all of these matters. He did not become the head of
* ' Le Protocole' ' at once : a dummy was placed over
him, but he was practically consulted on all important
occasions by the fast succeeding ministers. Gambetta
suspected his ignorance, Freycinet felt certain of it, but
still they consulted him. Thiers had no need of his
services ; he could have given his ministers all the in-
formation they wanted, although even he ' * made a hole
in his manners," now and then, as for instance when
Bismarck had to check him at one of the interviews at
Ferrieres ; but Thiers was selfishness and vainglory per-
sonified, and it did not displease him to show to the
outer world in general, to the Corps Diplomatique in
particular, the difference between himself and the men
who surrounded him. Had he not said to Mr. Senior
that by taste, habits, and associations, he belonged to
the aristocracy, and was not this the opportunity to
make good his claim without appearing to do so ?

288 My Paris Note-Book.

M. Mollard rose to the situation. At any rate, he
thought he had. The knowledge he prides himself
most upon is that involved in the ' ' niceties' ' of leaving
cards. He may listen to suggestions on other sub-
jects ; on that particular one he will not hear a word.*
Whether he has a code of his own, or whether he has
mixed several, it is impossible to say ; certain it is that
the attaches to the various embassies in Paris are as
much puzzled as I am in that respect. For, with the
fast-succeeding Administrations, the number of "bits
of pasteboard' ' left by the brand-new, half-worn, and
utterly used-up ministers at those embassies is enormous.
Sometimes the corners of those cards are turned down ;
at others they are left intact. Sometimes they are left
by the porters of the Ministries ; at others by an attach^
or secretary, driving round in the carriage of the min-
ister — that is, if the minister have a carriage immedi-
ately after his entering upon office, or just before re-
tiring. M. Barth61emy Saint-Hilaire was for more than
a fortnight without a conveyance of his own ; he could
not agree upon the price of hire with Brion. In several
instances ministers have given up their carriages, for
the sake of economy, before the fall of the Administra-
tion to which they belonged. One, M. Cazot, who
went to the races at Longchamps in evening dress, put
" p.p.C." on his cards when he retired from office. He
was not leaving Paris, but he considered it the right
thing to do. This time M. Mollard was furious, and
gave him a good wigging, for M. Mollard has become
fkmiliar with those who lord it over France. If he does
not call them by their names when they are present, he
never refers in any other terms to them when they are

I I speak of him in the present tense, for, though assisted by his
son at present, he is still the guiding spirit.

My Paris Note-Book. 289

absent. * * I told Gontaud and Gr^vy , " " Munster sent
for me," '* Ressmann called when I was out," &c., &c.
These are his habitual expressions. One does not know
whether to laugh or to be disgusted, but, as a rule,
laughter gets the upper hand, for, take him for what
he is, a sublimated butler, M. Mollard is not a bad

I have read somewhere — I believe in Mrs. Crosse's
" Red-Letter Days" — an amusing anecdote of the poet
Rogers' butler, who used virtually to control the num-
ber of his master's guests. M. Mollard to a certain
extent did that, and more than that, long before he was
the head of Le Protocole ; he drew up the programmes
of the official entertainments at the Presidency, at the
Palais-Bourbon, at the various Ministries — in fact, every-
where except at the H6tel-de-Ville, where there was the
right man in the right place, the late M. Alphand. M.
Mollard composed the menus of the dinners, he ar-
ranged the qjiadrilles (Vhonneur, and so forth. His
fitness for all these tasks may be gathered from the fol-
lowing stories, which I have selected from a great num-
ber. To give them all would fill a volume — a volume
that would probably rank as one of the most comic
books ever published.

During Mac-Mahon's tenancy of the Presidential
chair. Archduke Albrecht, the victor of Custozza, paid
a visit to Paris, and the Marshal gave a dinner in his
honour. Madame de Mac-Mahon's cook invented a
new ice-pudding, and gave it a new name ; which name,
however, conveyed nothing to M. Mollard, who was
charged with the drawing up of the me7iu. He be-
thought himself of a delicate compliment to the Presi-
dent of the Republic, leaving the feelings of the guest
out of the question, and altered the name into that of
N / 25

290 My Paris Note-Book.

^^ Bombe glade a la Magenta.'^ I leave the reader to
picture the face of Madame la Duchesse when the strip
of printed cardboard stared her in the face just as she
took her seat at the table. Her husband tried to soothe
her. "After all, he did it out of compliment to me,"
he said ; " a Republican master of the ceremonies is not
bound to have the Almanack de Gotha by heart, and to
know that Archduke Albrecht is related to the Emperor
of Austria."

The second blunder was perhaps less serious, but
more productive of frank laughter from all the victims
to it, including the Prince of Wales. . It happened on
the occasion of a ball given at the French Foreign
Office, in the Exhibition year of 1878, in honour of the
heir to the English throne. As far as I can recollect,
M. Waddington was Minister of Foreign Affairs, for I
was at the ball myself, and remember M. and Madame
Waddington figuring in the quadrille d' honneur. Still,
I will not be positive, for there have been something like
thirty six or seven Ministers of Foreign Affairs during
the twenty-three years of existence of the Third Re-
public. The Prince and Princess of Wales, the late
Duke d'Aosta, the Comte de Flandres, also figured in
the quadrille ; but M. Mollard had utterly forgotten to
include the Chief Magistrate of France and his wife.
Next morning, M. Mollard came to the Elys6e in a very
contrite state of mind. Like the true gentleman he
was, Mac-Mahon made very light of the matter.
'* Never mind, my dear Mollard," he smiled; "per-
haps you were right after all — I am somewhat too old
to dancCc David must have been about my age when
he danced before the ark, and you know what hap-
pened. The Bible tells us that Michal, Saul's daughter
and David's own wife, looked out of the window and

My Paris Note-Book. 291

despised him. Old as I am, I object to being despised
by any one in petticoats, whether it be a mother or a
daughter." It is, as far as I know, the only clever thing
standing to the record of Mac-Mahon ; but it was more
than clever, it was good-natured besides.

M. Mollard must have sorely tried Mac-Mahon' s
patience more than once, for, though the Marshal was
utterly indifferent to personal homage, he was most
punctilious with regard to the pomp and circumstance
attaching to his office, and M. Mollard had not the most
elementary knowledge of things. At the Marshal's
advent to the Elysee, the free and easy running in and
out of deputies and ministers ceased, the shabby car-
riages and spavined horses of his predecessor disap-
peared, to make room for well-appointed turnouts and
thoroughbred cattle. The servants wore powder, and
on grand occasions the out-riders and coachmen wore
wigs. M. Grevy was not fond of display, first of all,
because it was irksome to him ; secondly, because it
cost money ; thirdly, because he thought that the ad-
vanced section of the Republicans would resent it, for by
that time the ' ' amnestied' ' Communards had returned
in shoals. Nevertheless, he endeavoured to get a pre-
sentable and experienced head coachman, and had over-
tures made to that effect to the coachman of the Comte
Bernard d'Harcourt. M. Mollard was entrusted with
the mission. The coachman asked for a week to con-
sider the matter, during which time he consulted the
Count, who told him to please himself, while the coach-
man's fellow-servants advised him to decline the offer.
** I cannot take service with M. Gr^vy," said the man
when M. Mollard came for the answer ; "for it would
damage my prospects of getting another good situation. ' '
'*Trompette is with M. Gambetta," protested M. Mol-

292 My Paris Note-Book.

lard jauntily ; ' ' he could enter any family to-morrow if
he chose." **Trompette is a cook," was the reply.
' * Do you know your Bible, M. MoUard ?' ' came the
question immediately afterwards. * ' Not particularly ;
but why do you ask ?" ' * Because it says, ' Not that
which goeth into the mouth defileth a man ;' and it
might have added, Nor does it defile the man who pro-
videth that which goeth into the mouth. I cannot take
service with M. Grevy."

But though very patient with M. Mollard, the Marshal
was very nigh getting angry with him once. It was
during that same Exhibition year of which I have
already spoken. The reader is aware that for nine
years after the proclaiming of the Third Republic its
Parliament sat at Versailles, and that, though during
part of that time all ministerial business was conducted
from Paris, the official residence of the President of
the Republic was also in the erstwhile royal borough.
Of course, the Elys6e-Bourbon was always held in
readiness, and when in the capital — which was sup-
posed to be undergoing punishment for its behaviour
during the Commune — the Chief Magistrate took up
his quarters there. The Prefecture of Versailles was,
however, the centre of the Presidential orbit, for the
palace, inseparably connected with the memory of the
Bourbon dynasty, was rarely used, and then only on
grand occasions. In October 1878, Marshal Mac-
Mahon gave a magnificent ftte there, the direction of
which was, as usual, entrusted to M. Mollard. Every-
thing went well, or comparatively well, until the guests,
to the number of 15,000, began to think of going
home. Chaos, pure and simple, set in there and then.
During that October night numberless women with
bare shoulders and bare arms were seen returning to

My Paris Note-Book, 293

the Versailles stations, where special trains were await-
ing to convey them to Paris ; they were escorted by
men without hats, their coats almost torn to rags in
their endeavours to obtain their partners' wraps. It
was a sorrowful sight indeed. I have by me a note
enumerating the flotsam and jetsam, in the shape of
wearing apparel, resulting from the cyclone. It is as
follows : 1532 overcoats ; 544 opera cloaks, capes,
shawls, &c., &c. ; 315 men's hats; a considerable
number of umbrellas ; 17 chignons — we may take it
that they were torn off in the struggle ; 9 wigs — a
proof that we can ' ' keep our hair on' ' better than the
other sex ; and one pair of boots. The whole of the
facetious articles written during the next fortnight were
for their greater part devoted to attempts at elucidating
the mystery of that pair of boots. Not a single writer
alluded to Thackeray's Mr. Minchin, a proof that a
generation had arisen which knew not the minor works
of the author of ' ' Vanity Fair. ' '

I remarked just now that this time the Marshal's
patience with M. Mollard was well-nigh exhausted. In
spite of the tension between the President and the
Republicans, the history of M. Mollard' s ''greater
glory" would have come to an end then, but for an
incident happening which put the honest old soldier
into a thorough good temper — on the Rochefoucauldian
principle, perhaps, ''that other people's misfortunes
make us cheerfully bear with our own. ' '

During that year the fUes and receptions succeeded
one another very quickly, and a fortnight or so after
that ill-fated October night, there was an important
gathering at the Ministry of Finances. M. Mollard,
whose confidence in himself was considerably shaken
by the late event, felt that the slightest blunder on his


294 My Paris Note-Book.

part would be fatal to him. He was, above all, anxious
about the organisation of the cloak-room, the rock on
which he had split on the last occasion. He reviewed
his staff on the morning of the entertainment and, not-
withstanding the repeated assurances of the porters and
ushers that they were fully competent and sufficiently
numerous to deal with no matter what rush, insisted
upon engaging a couple of supplementary hands.

And here I must break off" for a moment to sketch
M. Mollard " in his habit as he lived," as he probably
lives still, for though he was replaced in his functions of
Introdudeiir des Ambassadeurs by the Comte d'Or-
messon shortly after M. Carnot's election to the Presi-
dency, M. Mollard has — as far as I know — not resigned
his other duties.*

It is greatly to M. Mollard' s credit that the lofty
position he had attained did not affect his republican
simpHcity. Like M. Alphonse Humbert, the late Presi-
dent of the Paris Municipal Council, who, when in-
vested with high dignities under the Commune, carried
his own beer to the Ministry in the Place Vendome * ' in
order to have it good," M. Mollard has never forsaken
the mannezingue where, in his less prosperous days, he
used to ^^ tuer le ver*^ — read "take his early morning
dram." A little while ago, I as good as said that, at
the outset of his career, M. Mollard was a kind of
French Eccles. There is no more pride about M.
Mollard than there was about the father-in-law of the
Hon. George d'Alroy. With his livid flabby face and

^ M. le Comte d'Ormesson has recently accepted a diplomatic
mission to Copenhagen, whither, owing to an accident, he has not
gone as yet. He has been succeeded by M. de Bourqueney as
Introducteur des Ambassadeurs. M. Mollard's son has, to a
certain extent, replaced his father.

My Paris Note-Book, 295

iron-grey, somewhat unkempt, whiskers, clear blue
eyes, and pendulous abdomen, M. MoUard is not much to
look at, either in repose or in motion ; but the knowing,
though not unkindly, smile puckering the self-satisfied
mouth, bereft of several of its front teeth, redeems much
of what otherwise would be positively disagreeable. He
is hail fellow well met with all his old acquaintances,
and with none more so than with the owner of the
wine-shop near the Pont de I'Alma, close to which
bridge he has taken up his quarters — over the stables
which once formed part of the Imperial establishment.
Morning after morning, year in year out, M. Mollard
used to stand before that pewter counter, conversing
affably with those around him, his toothless gums hold-
ing a somewhat valuable meerschaum — a present prob-
ably — his fur-lined coat, lined with rabbit skin, thrown
carelessly back to show the inside. When the weather
got too warm, the garment was carried over his arm,
for, hke Professor Pettifer in Mr. Sim's ''London Day
by Day," M. Mollard was exceedingly proud of his
coat. Well, on the morning in question, when, after
reviewing the staff at the Ministry of Finances, he made
up his mind to engage a couple of supplementary hands,
M. Mollard, instead of directing his steps from the Rue
de Rivoli to the Quai d'Orsay, made his way back to
the wine-shop at the Pont de I'Alma. He had hit upon
an idea, and was going to carry It out there and then.
There had come to his friend the pubhcan a couple of
cousins from the country — big brawny rustics, deter-
mined to try their luck in Paris, and the publican had
enHsted M. Mollard' s sympathy in their behalf M.
Mollard considered this an excellent opportunity of
giving them their chance of a debut in the official world.
Arrangements to that effect were made with the chaw-

296 My Paris Note-Book.

bacons in question, and in the evening they repaired to
the Ministry of Finances, washed, combed, and dressed,
and took up the stations in the cloak-room allotted to
them by their patron. The latter in a few words initi-
ated them in their duties, which, upon the face of it,
were not difficult to perform. The cloak-rooms had
been divided into sections of 300 numbers each, about
3000 invitations having been issued. Unfortunately,
M. Mollard had not considered it necessary to inform
his protegh of the difference between an opera-hat and
an ordinary silk one. Odd as it may seem, in the land
that has the honour of having given birth to Gibus, the
convenient crush hat is not worn as often in the even-
ing as in England, Russia, and Austria, though one
may see Frenchmen — not exactly the best dressed
Frenchmen — wear them in the daytime. At that particu-
lar period, moreover, the opera-hat had been tempora-
rily discarded for its more sightly rival, the silk one. I
fancy that a few years ago a similar change of fashion
was observable with us. At any rate, the proportion
of silk hats worn that evening by the guests of the
Minister of Finance and Madame la Ministre was as five
to one opera-hat. And every one of the silk hats in-
trusted to the care of M. Mollard' s proteges was reli-
giously " telescoped" by them, then deposited on the top
of the coat, and finally returned to its owner in that
state. Fate so willed it that the first four or five men
who availed themselves of the peasants' services wore
opera-hats, which they flattened in the orthodox fashion
by putting them against their chests. After that, every
hat, whether silk or other, handed to them was sub-
jected to the same process of "foreshortening," prob-
ably after its owner was gone, and when space became
scant. The scene at the Ministry of Finances was, as

My Paris Note-Book. 297

Mac-Mahon called it, ''the comic after-piece to the
tragedy at Versailles," but it saved M. MoUard from
dismissal. ' ' My time is running short, ' ' said the Mar-
shal ; ' ' besides, I could never do away with a man who
afforded me ten minutes of such unalloyed amusement
as Mollard has afforded me." The fact was, that the
victor of Magenta roared outright when the scene was
described to him, and the honest old soldier did not
laugh often. And thus it came about that M. Mollard
was enabled to flourish during the whole time of M.
Grevy's tenancy of the Elys6e.

Flourish is the exact word, for, in spite of all I have
written, M. Mollard had, previous to M. Grevy's ad-
vent, to put up with many reprimands both from Thiers
and Mac-Mahon, and notably from Madame la Mar6-.
chale. Thiers was very tenacious about the opinions of
Europe in general, and France in particular, in all that
concerned etiquette — especially where that etiquette
made no demands on his purse. His boast that he be-
longed to the aristocracy by taste, habit, and associa-
tions was not altogether an empty one. He had been
accustomed to the pomp and circumstance of Louis-
Philippe's court, which, inferior as they may have been
to those at the court of the Bourbons, were, compared
to the republican entertainments, as High Mass at the
pro-cathedral to a monster meeting of the Salvation
Army. During the whole of the thirties he had more-
over frequented excellent society, and the juxtaposition
with ' ' people of quality' ' afforded him intense delight.
When in 1871 the project of a monarchical restoration
was debated, his first question was, " How will Madame
Thiers and Mademoiselle Dosne be received at Court ?"
Hence, though he could not do much, he endeavoured
to preserve a semblance of "good form" and elegance,

298 My Paris Note-Book.

as M. MoUard often found to his cost. For he would
not instruct M. MoUard : he took a fiendish deHght in
pointing out his blunders ' ' after they had been com-
mitted. ' ' From Mac-Mahon and his wife MoUard might
have learnt much, had his self-sufficiency, and especially
his eager desire to please the Republicans rather than

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