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loo Paris of the Parisians

ideals, despairs, beliefs, the cheek-bones flushed
transparent rose under the brilliant eyes. I hear
his voice, a pleasant voice, intense, but without
resonance, and soon fatigued.

" Avant tout le poete est un homme. Dans
les conditions de vie qui sont les notres, il ne lui
est plus permis de deserter le monde. Comme
tout penseur il a une mission a accomplir. . . .

*' Nous sommes avec tout ce qui soufFre et
pleure ici bas : avec les animaux, ces freres in-
ferieurs de rhomme, contre le maitre qui les
brutalise et maltraite, avec les hommes que la
fatalite semble retenir dans la nuit et dans 1' igno-
rance, avec tous ceux qui veulent s'arracher au
joug du servage, avec tous les opprimes, avec tous
les peuples vaincus. . . .

" Nous n'avons de haine contre personne. Si
nous attaquons les hommes, ce n'est qu'une
apparence. C'est qu'alors ils personnifient a nos
yeux certaines idees : idees de bassesse, de violence
ou de servitude. . . ."

The lecture -room of the Procope is on the
first floor. A staircase leads to it from the room
of Voltaire. On the way up there are sketches of
various kinds — caricatures of Theo and of Verlaine,
impressionist landscapes, ballet girls pulling on
their stockings, afliches. It is a long room with
tables and chairs, a platform hung with a back-
ground of scarlet calico, and an upright piano in
the corner.

Jean Severe loi

Here the Soirees -Procope were held. Here
when the room was packed and noisy, smoke was
curling, bocks were frothing, students were tilting
in their chairs, their hats at the back of their heads :
here came the chansonniers, drooping against the
piano, cheeks wan and eyes vacant, warbling with
languidly parted lips the languor of life and love :
here came the poets of Pierrot, of half-moons and
mists, dead leaves and lost illusions : here came
the buffoon of the Quarter, Montmartre's Mad-
man, Pet of all cabarets from the Place Pigalle to
the towers of Notre Dame, his sheaf of songs
under his arm ; gray-faced, one-eyed, withered ;
crowned with laurels, fatuously smirking ; croak-
ing his ambiguities : here came the girls of the
Quarter, draped ears and bright brows, soft
throats and round cheeks; ignorant, joyful, reck-
less, innocent ; blushing and glancing and pouting ;
piping audacious indecencies. Here when the
room was almost empty, the gas low, the air cold,
came Severe.

Half-a-dozen knots of people patched the bare
room, murmuring together. From time to time
other persons straggled in. A student from the
cafe below would lounge for a moment in the
doorway, holding his pipe aside, looking into the
room and slowly round it : and pick himself up,
put back the pipe, and turn down the stairs to
the cafe again. A little woman sat in the front
row. She had black hair puffed wide, liquid black

I02 Paris of the Parisians

eyes, and a pouted damask -red mouth in a pale
oval face ; big gold rings in her small ears ;
two curls clotted above her ears, two more clotted
on the nape of her neck ; the colouring of a
gipsy and the tilted nose of a Parisian. She
sat there in her Sunday skirt, with a new veil,
scent on her bodice, a '* ridicule " hanging on her
wrist ; her eyes fixed full on the platform, polite,
attentive, extremely anxious to be interested ; her
child beside her, four years old, dangling his heels ;
gravely observing his father arrange his papers
on the table and mix the eau sucre.

As time went on the room would become
brighter, a waiter would have been sent for to
examine the gas, Theo appealed to ; the air would
become warmer, bocks and liqueurs and black
coffees would stand on the tables, the suppressed
voices would take courage and converse in a freer
tone, new arrivals, new voices, would support
them, and they would gather full force ; a genial
current would begin to diffuse itself, the blanks
between the patches would begin to fill : less
seldom, less straggling, the people arrived ;
students in the cafe, hearing the sound of feet, the
scraping of chairs above, would finish their drinks,
and come upstairs and settle themselves in groups
at the back of the salle ; certain faithful associates,
always present on these occasions, would enter
briskly, nodding to the front row and the plat-
form ; and on the platform, nervously plucking his

Jean Severe 103

lips, flushing, kindling. Severe would wait the last
moments ; whilst in the front row, next to his
mother, the child sat rhythmically clapping his
heels, till her tap on his knee, a horrified " Mais
veux-tu te taire ? '' made him pause — " Vilain
mechant ! *' — look up into her face, at the extrava-
gant frown, the incredible wrath, the red mouth
rounded for its whispered roar ; look, and melt
into the peculiar smile, contemplative, adoring,
which the child kept for her alone. . . .

*' Nous revons d'un avenir meilleur. Nous
Savons les progres deja accomplis, le chemin
parcouru depuis notre grande Revolution : le
passe nous est un sur garant de F avenir. Nous
sommes persuades que les hommes du prochain
siecle verront se realiser cette noble utopie : les
Etats-Unis d^Europe. Nous prevoyons meme
des epoques plus lointaines ou les trones ecroules, les
frontieres effacees, la guerre morte, le servage
aboli, les hommes s'entr'aideront dans la grande
Republique universelle ! *'

Sometimes there would be a lecture on the
horrors of capital punishment, the apparition of
the scaffold in the public square, ^' dans le
crepuscule du matin, au milieu d'une tragique mise-
en- scene, au milieu des soldats et d'une foule
avinee, ce sinistre appareil qu'est la guillotine ! ''
Or else upon the iniquities of militarism and cleri-
calism, the miseries of the Caserne : '' dans chaque
cite de notre belle France, dominant les plus beaux

I04 Paris of the Parisians

sites, deparant les plus beaux paysages, ces bati-
ments horribles et nus, ces constructions brutales,
noires, lourdes et froides que sont les caserne.'* Or
upon the atrocities of war, the diabolical ingenuity
of modern weapons — these he denounced in a
loathing of bloodshed, a revolt against death, a
hatred of pain, sickened in his sensitive nature,
racked in his own weak body at the imagination of
them, incapable of other views than those revealed
from this one point of insight. Or it might be
that Guillaume II., la-bas, was making outrageous
proclamations to Army and Parliament, and replies
must be launched ''au Cesar allemand. Celui
en qui s'incarne le regne de la Force. Celui qui,
a Theure ou nous sommes, peut d'un seul mot,
d'un seul geste de colere dechainer sur I'Europe,
sur la France, sur nos foyers peut-etre, Tincendie, le
pillage, I'invasion ** ; with a string of accom-
panying memories : '^ le Due d'Albe et ses 30,000
victimes ; Torquemada et ses 200,000 supplicies ;
Napoleon ! faiseur d'orphelins et de veuves !
Bismarck ! bandit, boucher, tueur d'hommes ! "
and from execration and memory to exultant
prophecy —

Dans un desir de paix et de fraternity
Nos vceux et nos souhaits s'en vont avec fierte !
A Celle devant qui les rois vont disparaitre,
A Celle qui s'annonce au vieux monde agitee,
A Celle qui bient&t va naitre !

Jean Severe 105

A Celle qui, Ik-bas, h Thorizon serein,
Sur les bords du Danube et sur les bords du Rhin,
Se l^vera soudain, majestueuse et grande !
A Celle qui sera dans le si^cle prochain,
A la Republique allemande !

Or it would be war in Crete, and massacre of
Greeks by Turks and Sultan, and the nations
summoned to the rescue ; or war in Cuba, with
an heroic handful of Cubans, and magnanimous
Americans against "la vieille Espagne, — pays
de rinquisition ! '' to be acclaimed, and en-
registered there and then in glory ; or it would be
anticipation of war after Fashoda, and passionate
protest : " De toutes les guerres qui peuvent se
dechainer sur I'Europe, celle qui eclaterait entre
la France et TAngleterre, pour Fachoda, pour
I'Egypte ou pour tout autre motif, serait la plus
injustifiable et la plus monstrueuse des guerres.
La France et TAngleterre sont, en effet, des
pays libres, maitres par consequent de leurs
destinees. Les deux peuples n'ont point Tun
pour Tautre de haine precon^ue. Les Anglais
aiment la France. Les intellectuels d'Outre-
Manche sont des admirateurs de Tesprit fran^ais.
Que penser d'ailleurs, de ceux qui ne veulent
voir dans les Anglais que des trafiquants egoistes,
quand on se ressouvient que FAngleterre a resiste
a toutes les reactions europeennes, et qu'aux plus
sombres jours de THistoire contemporaine elle
est restee le dernier asile, I'asile inviolable de la

io6 Paris of the Parisians

liberte/' And yet again it would be a lament
upon the oppression and slavery of Ireland —
amazed reproach, and denouncement grieved and
fiery against the oppressing nation ; and dreadful
tales about solitary confinement, and political
prisoners going mad ; and spies and detectives,
and pretty lady-patriots perpetually "shadowed,"
and having their correspondence tampered with,
and their lives made a burden to them ; and
peasants fed upon seaweed. — Or else it would be
a condemnation of the Decadent School of Poetry,
of " Esthetes, Chansonniers, Symbolistes ! . . .
Nulle oeuvre grande, nulle poesie qui eleve et
qui empoigne. Foi, conviction, enthousiasme,
ideal, tout ce qui nous eloigne de la bete humaine,
tout ce qui fait la noblesse et la grandeur du
poete, tout cela est vieilli, tout cela est, pour eux,
Tancien systeme ; morphine, ether, haschich, eau
de Cologne, voila la source de Tinspiration de
cette belle jeunesse qui, comme la femme, d^apres
Schopenhauer, a les cheveux longs et les idees
courtes ! '' — Or it would be on the anniversary or
a Birthday — with flowers here and there, a fern on
the piano, on the platform table a Portrait with a
laurel wreath and a purple inscription: "Au
Maitre ! " with a young man wearing a button-
hole and white kid gloves, blonde, clean-shaven,
tight, straight mouth and rigid jaw : " Notre

ami M. de TOdeon," to recite from the

Legende ; with a young lady wearing a train,

Jean Severe 107

and rings to her manicured finger-nails, svelte,
supple, smooth with paste and powder, dusky
eyes, down -drooping hair, and mouth a scarlet
thread in the enamel : " Notre amie Mdlle.

du Theatre Antoine,'' to recite from

Hernani ; with three mandolinists, amiable souls,
greasy and corpulent, from the Midi, kept
in a corner, to be brought forward if occasion
required, and the audience showed signs of fatigue
under a too heavy tax on their higher con-
sciousness; and Severe in the midst marshalling,
organising — it would be, on the 26th of February,
a celebration in honour of Victor Hugo. '' Tous
les ans a pareille date, c'est un devoir pour nous
d*evoquer la memoire du grande poete, et de
retracer son ceuvre sublime. . . .''

At the top of a house in a street not far from
the Bastille, Severe had his home. You climbed
up flights of steep stairs, and there, au sixieme,
came to a door with a red lamp above it showing
the white paper nailed below, and the name on
it written in clear, upright, stately handwriting.
You pulled a string that rang a tinny bell inside,
and a moment afterwards the door was opened by
the little lady with the black eyes and the pouted
mouth — " Bon soir, M'Sieurs, *Dames ! '' You
paused on the threshold while she drew back
against the wall, the door in her hand, to give you
space, you crossed the strip of entry carefully,
sideways, and laughing apology, and entered the

io8 Paris of the Parisians

low-roofed room where the green-shaded lamp
was alight on the table, and the chairs were ready
about it, and tall and stooping, gracefully gauche,
serious, smiling, Severe stood to welcome.

The table was piled with papers, back numbers
of the review ; proofs of the new number, come
that day from the printer's ; manuscripts received
during the past week : all arranged neatly like
everything else in the fresh, orderly room. There
were planks along the wall for books, one or two
illustrations out of the review pinned above them,
and the portrait of Hugo. There was a large
window reaching to the floor, opening on to leads
where Madame Severe kept flower-pots and little
Rene a tortoise ; and where you could see right
over the roofs opposite for a long distance, and
where there was any amount of sky above you ;
and where, as Severe said, the air came free and
pure ; and where, as Rene said, you could hear the
band in the summer on Sundays from some public
garden or Arsenal Square three or four streets
away (you could see the tops of the trees
here and there between the chimney-pots), and
where, as Madame Severe said, it was as good as
a garden, and also there was no fear of Rene
tumbling over, for she had measured him standing
on the watering-can, and even then the parapet
came above his head ; and besides they were going
to put up a wire network presently.

Round the table sat the Redaction. There was an

Jean S^v^re 109

impressive ink-pot in the middle, several pens were
there, a rich variety of nibs. There was also a new,
very large, crisp, and cream-coloured waste-paper
basket, placed on the right hand of the founder
and director ; into which, when the Redaction had
given forth condemnation, rejected manuscripts
were dropped, not callously, not wantonly, — for
it was the very essence of the Redaction to be
humane, — yet firmly, deliberately, for the justice of
the Redaction was inflexible. Round the table sat
the Redaction ; and Madame Severe brought
bocks, and the redacteurs lighted cigarettes ; and
for the solitary redactrice present, who didn't drink
bocks, and who didn't smoke, a plate of petits
beurres was produced ; and the noble majority,
pufiing and quafling, smiled indulgence on femi-
nine weakness. And there was black coffee on a
stool spread with an embroidered napkin, for
Madame Severe and the redactrice ; and Rene —
who always appeared on these occasions in a
dazzling collar, and repeated at regular intervals
with the most positive emphasis, and staringly
open eyes, that he was not in the least sleepy
— Rene would try to steal a sip from his
mother's saucer when she had her cup to her
lips ; and Madame Severe, after having flicked
her son's cheek with a chastising hand, and bent
an appalling glare upon him — Madame Severe
would glance at the table, glance round upon
the redacteurs, pout her red lips, round her

no Paris of the Parisians

black eyes, twitch her small head, and whisper to
the redactrice —

*' Dites-donc, ma petite, vous ne vous ennuyez
pas trop avec ces messieurs ? '' . . .

The young men who met together once a week
in Severe's room wrote, illustrated, and paid for
the publication of the review that Severe had
founded. The staff was composed of about six-
teen or eighteen members, most of them French,
several of them English and American, two of
them German, two Italian. Each member sub-
scribed a few francs every month, and the united
sum paid the printer. Each member was a share-
holder, and had equal rights, no more and no less,
with every other member in the management of the
review ; in the profits, when these came to be made ;
in the space of the review each month, for a piece
of writing — written in the language of his own
nation; and in free opinion and expression of

Besides these regular members or redacteurs
there were collaborateurs who, though without
contributing to costs, sent in occasional papers
that were inserted if there happened to be room
for them ; poems and articles of various kinds
also arrived from the unknown and the world at
large. These were the manuscripts over which
the Redaction, calm, incorruptible, sat in counsel
and decreed : preserving, publishing if might be,
but consigning to the abyss if need were.

Jean Severe


" Internationale '* the review was described on
the cover : —

" Artistique^ Litteraire^ Scientifique : Publiee en
Franfais, English, Deutsche Espanol, Italiano,
Portuguez, etc''

It advertised itself as "a Review by young
writers, open to young writers : with room for all
schools, for every philosophy/*

"De jeunes ecrivains de difFerentes nations et
d'idees communes, se sont reunis dans le but de
fonder, avec leurs seules ressources, un journal qui
soit Texpression de leurs sentiments et de leurs

'*En dehors de toute preoccupation financiere
ils veulent affirmer pleinement leur pensee, avec
Tespoir de grouper autour d'eux une elite de
penseurs et de croyants. A quelque nationalite,
a quelque race qu'ils appartiennent, la Revue est
ouverte a tous les jeunes talents."

Ages ago when Scheurer-Kestner first told his
doubts, the review, not yet Dreyfusard, protested
against the treatment of the Senator : —

" Les gens de cette trempe sont rares ; meme en
se trompant ils demeurent grands de s'etre trompes
si noblement. Sans doute il ne faut point hesiter a
les convaincre de leur erreur : mais il faut tout
au moins reconnaitre qu'elle fut genereuse."

A month afterwards it poured forth verse in
honour of Zola, and had a column about Voltaire
and Calas, and another column of prophecy : —

112 Paris of the Parisians

" Justice sera rendue en pleln jour.

II le faut ; nul ne I'empechera.

Le proces Dreyfus sera revise.

Vive la France !

Vive la Justice ! "
Later it was weeping at the condemnation of
Zola : later, thundering to Antisemitism. It
threw a malediction on Bismarck, in the tomb at
Friedrichsruhe, and consigned him to oblivion ; it
hailed and immortalised Gla;^dstone. It waged
war against *' le Dum-Dum '' ; it hurled itself into
Peace Conferences : and always and above all it
dreamed of the Future, and sang its creed, " La
Science, la Verite, le Progres ! '* and thrilled at the
thought of the New Century. , . .

*' L'Avenir se degage, plein de promesses." I
take my last look of Severe, and see him as he
stood that summer night in his room by the open
window. A breathless summer night, crowded
with stars. On the opposite side of the road the
houses were dark and quiet ; here and there
only, a yellow light still remained : away across
the shadowy roofs, beyond in the distance, the
sounds of the traffic were fading.

The meeting was over, the redacteurs had gone,
the chairs were disordered, the glasses stood
empty on the table ; and in a corner with heavy
eyelids the little wife sat drooping, the child
asleep on her bosom.

One young man still stayed, rapidly talking

Jean Severe 113

to Severe : very young, very eager ; blonde
down on his upper lip, a downy dimple In his
chin : a pulsing recruit, a novice newly arrived ;
in the first fever of enthusiasm ; panting for per-
secution. Half-a-dozen times during the evening
he had told the same story ; now he was recounting
it again, his adventure In the provincial town,
when the innkeeper, coming Into his room to
gossip, took up a copy of the review, glanced at It,
interested, opened It just where the novice's article
happened to come ; ran his eye over it, and there
and then threw friendliness to the winds — called
him revolutionist, accused him of anarchy, and
turned him out of the Inn ! The boy's blue eyes
burned as he told it : it was one of the choice
moments of his life — of exquisite flavour ; sound ;
vital : he drained It to the dregs.

Absorbed and speculative Severe stood beside
him, watching the stars, serene, pursuing his own
thoughts. ..." L'AvenIr," he murmured to
himself, lingering on the beloved word ; *' L'Ere
Nouvelle, le Vingtieme Steele!'' . . .

The Twentieth Century, the New Era : from the
height of his own faith he saw them clearly. But
against him also the decree had gone forth : " I have
caused thee to see the land of promise with thine
eyes ; but thou shalt not go over thither.''

K. W. M.



On the morning of 13th July carpenters take
possession of street corners and begin to build a
band-stand. In modest neighbourhoods this is not
a formidable task — only boards are needed and
tools. Soon, hammers sound. Children come up
to watch ; small tradespeople cross the street ; the
patron at the cafe a few yards away superintends
the preparations. He, a genial fellow, urges the
carpenters to hurry, and brings them bock occasion-
ally and absinthe later on. They, like all Parisian
workmen, would rest often and peruse the Patrie^
and roll a cigarette, and hail a friend, and even doze
on a board out of the way of the sun. *' Depechons-
nous," says the patron of the cafe briskly. *' Bien,
bien," reply the carpenters. And the hammering
goes on. Sometimes a student, troubled by the
noise, pops his head out of a sixth-floor window ;
but realising no doubt that he is too far off to
protest, and also that no one would heed him if he
did, retreats. Servants look down on the scene ;

ii8 Paris of the Parisians

waiters also. Milliners gossip over their work
near by ; the girls at the blanchisserie opposite
chatter merrily ; the withered old woman who sells
newspapers, stationery, rusty needles, and cotton,
remembers seeing just such a band-stand erected
thirty-five years ago. All look forward to to-
morrow, the glorious Fourteenth. All have finery
ready. All say a dozen times, " Demain, ma
chere, on dansera.*'

'* Depechons-nous, mes amis," says the patron
of the cafe again next morning. " Bien, bien,"
reply the carpenters. And the hammering recom-
mences. Boards are nailed together, and made to
stand. Often they tremble dangerously. A floor
is laid down. Steps are constructed. And lo ! a
shelter for local musicians, small but trim, simple
but undeniably frail, springs up. The carpenters,
lost in admiration over it, call the patron of the
cafe and point to their work proudly, and proclaim
it to be a triumph, and declare themselves to be
very weak and utterly exhausted and terribly
thirsty. He, at once hospitable, invites the men
to refresh themselves on the spot. They, almost
prostrated, are established soon before great glasses
of beer. He, excited, would hurry off to make
his preparations. They, incHned to hold forth
again over the beauties of their band-stand, urge him
to join them. But Madame la patronne cries :
" Charles ! Charles ! voici les lanternes.'' And so
Charles, the patron, rushes off; and so the

Street Balls 119

carpenters finish their beer. And so the patron
makes his preparations : equipping the band-stand
with stools, music-stands, and lanterns, covering it
with bunting, mounting a ladder to hang more
paper globes among the branches of the adjacent
trees. And so Madame la patronne bustles ; and
so the waiters bustle. And so by nine that night
when the local musicians arrive, when the trades-
people turn out, when the milliners and girls from
the blanchisserie appear, everything is ready.

Lanterns glow — lanterns of all colours : blue,
red, white, yellow, but principally orange. Gas
flares in the cafe, and casts its light on the tables
and chairs arranged outside. Opposite, on a
window-sill, a row of fairy lamps burns dimly.
There is no ceremony about the affair. The
neighbourhood is a modest one. The patron of
the cafe says: "On s'amusera genti'ment. On se
connait. On sera tout-a-fait en famille." No
one wears silks ; no one draws on white gloves,
few have even put on hats. And why should
they } They know one another ; they work side by
side ; they were children together ; verily, they are
en famille. The lanterns are admired : Charles,
the patron, declares that he was engaged with them
for hours. The band-stand is applauded ; the
carpenters, in their Sunday clothes, tell how the
sun poured down upon them, and how they
laboured all the same, and how they almost
succumbed, and how they are still weak and

I20 Paris of the Parisians

weary. The local musicians are inspected : four
of them, with a fiddle, a trombone, a cornet, and
a flute ; the patron of the cafe claps his hands ; the
man with the fiddle raises his bow ; the flute wails
too soon ; the carpenters cry " attention " ; the
chef d'orchestre taps his stand once, twice, thrice,
and the local musicians open the programme with
a valse.

Dust rises ; but no one sees it. Round and
round they hop gaily, some thirty couples. Bare-
headed, the girls from the blanchisserie mate with
the boys from the epicerie ; bareheaded also, go
the little milliners with the sons and assistants of
the baker, and their mothers smile upon them and
their fathers applaud them, and the withered old
woman who sells newspapers and cotton describes

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