Copyright
Walter F Lonergan.

Forty years of Paris online

. (page 14 of 25)
Online LibraryWalter F LonerganForty years of Paris → online text (page 14 of 25)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


for the distribution of the Drummond Castle medals
previously referred to, and soon after I returned to
Paris occurred the disastrous fire in the charity bazaar
of the Rue Jean Goujon. By a strange coincidence
that fatal blaze, in which the Duchesse d'Alencon and
many more ladies were burned, horrified the world
almost exactly ten years after the destruction by fire
of the Opera Comique. The latter establishment was
burned down on May 25, 1887, and the disaster at
the charity bazaar occurred on May 4, 1897. The
horrors of the bazaar fire linger unpleasantly in my
memory. Women and girls in light spring attire were
burned beyond recognition. Men fought like wolves
to get out of the Gehenna, and the weaker were
trampled under foot. Some of those who were in-
cinerated had only a few steps to take in order to reach
a place of safety. The funerals of the victims were
productive of more horror. The coffins contained
only charred remains, which could not have been
identified by the relatives. A neighbour of mine lost
his daughter in the blaze, and some charred bones
were brought to him and his wife a few days after.
I went to the funeral, which was conducted in the
customary elaborate way of the French. There was
a fine religious service, a walk past the mourners, each



214 FORTY YEARS OF PAJIIS

person invited shaking hands with them and murmur-
ing some words of condolence or consolation, and then
the sad burial in the family vault, with more prayers by
the priest.

Shortly after this I was over in London for the
Victorian Jubilee of 1897, ^^^ had the peculiar expe-
rience of lodging for a fortnight in one of the upper
rooms of the Daily Telegraph office in Fleet Street.
During that fortnight I was kept busily employed as
one of the numerous recorders of the events of the
Jubilee. This was a novel experience for me after
years of absence from London. It made me remember
the time when I sent a leader on the infallibility of
the Pope to the Editor of the Telegraph, and when I
used to look with awe into the recesses of Peter-
borough Court, and gaze with wonderment at the
windows of the old building in which were then the
offices of the great daily. Well, by the irony of
things, I was actually living in the new offices of the
Telegraph in June, 1897. I had most substantial
breakfasts brought to me by the housekeeper every
morning, and then I descended to the editorial rooms
for instructions as to what I had to do for the day.
The work was easy at first, although I had to produce
copy on Saturday. As the day of the Queen's journey
through London drew nigh there was more to do, and
more difficulty in doing it, owing to the crowding in
the streets. I found that after I had been to a place
and made my notes there I was unable to reach the
office by hansom or 'bus for the purpose of throwing
my jottings into shape. It was necessary to fight my
way through the crowd, and thus to be late with copy.
How I longed on those occasions for the wide streets



FORTY YEARS OF PARIS 215

and avenues of Paris, where, in the most excited times,
and when people are out in crowds, there is always
room to move, or at least to get around by devious
ways to one's destination. On the day of the Jubilee
procession I was posted on Constitution Hill, and had
to take up the narrative of the Royal progress after
Clement Scott, who was more or less comfortably
stationed in the grounds of Buckingham Palace, where
he saw the start. I was under the impression that in
the small space for observation allotted to me there
would be no chance of finding matter for copy. I
managed, however, to get enough inspiration for nearly
two columns of glowing prose. I described the Queen
surrounded by the " captains and the kings," although
I looked in vain for monarchs, and the only captain
whom I recognised among those following the Sove-
reign was Captain Acland, a Naval A.D.C., since
promoted to a higher rank, and whom I had met
a few weeks before at Brest, whither he came in
H.M.'s guardship Alexandra, on the occasion of the
presentation of the Drummond Castle medals. On
the day after the procession I was at Windsor and
Eton. At the latter place I had the pleasure of being
received by that famous Headmaster, Dr. Warre, and
also by the Provost, Dr. Hornby, who gave me some
facilities for recording Queen Victoria's Jubilee visit
to the college. I wrote my account of the visit at
Eton, but had immense difficulty in getting through
the crowd to the Windsor station. I reached this
place at the same time as Mr. J. Gordon Bennett, who
had been watching the Queen's arrival in the Royal
borough, and whom I recognised on the platform of
the station. My difficulties were not over when, after



216 FORTY YEARS OF PARIS

having long waited for a train, I got one and reached
Paddington, In Praed Street no cabbies would take
me owing to the crowds. At last, in the Edgware
Road I met a driver who agreed to put me down
somewhere near Chancery Lane. He did so, but I
had to fight my way to and through Fleet Street on
foot, and when at last I reached the Telegraph office
I found the sub-editors howling for my copy. I was
not "up to time," that was certain, and there was no
use in attempting to explain the numerous causes of
my delay to Mr. Le Sage, who was too awfully busy
to listen to any explanation whatever.

These are, however, memories of London, and my
business lies with memories of Paris. I had not been
back long when the tremendous Dreyfus affair was
revived, and when a storm began which raged through
France and Europe for nearly ten years. Its first
feeble mutterings were heard in 1896, and it only
subsided in 1906, by the reinstatement or "rehabili-
tation " of Captain Alfred Dreyfus.

I had something to do with the reopening of the
affaire, although it was not chronicled in histories
of the case. In the summer of 1896 I received a letter
from Mr. W. Gilliland, who was acting for a time
as Managing Editor of the Daily Telegraph in the
absence of Mr. J. M. Le Sage. Mr. Gilliland told
me that Sir Edward Lawson, now Lord Burnham,
would like me to see some members of the Dreyfus
family relative to the agitation which was arising
over the case of the disgraced and transported
artillery officer. I accordingly went to the house
of Madame Hadamard, mother-in-law of Captain
Dreyfus, who lives in the Rue de Chateaudun.



FORTY YEARS OF PARIS 217

Madame Hadamard, a good-looking woman in spite
of the advance of time, received me in her drawing-
room. She showed traces of intense sorrow, and
seemed as if she must have been weeping ever since
her son-in-law was degraded and sent across the seas
to that horrible hut in Devil's Island where he long
lingered in what appeared to be hopeless captivity.
She said that her daughter, Madame Dreyfus, was
too ill, too prostrated by grief, to receive anybody.
Then in reply to my queries she affirmed that she
and all her family had full confidence that her son-
in-law's innocence would be proved, and that the hour
of his liberation would come in due time. " But go
and see Maitre Demange,"said Madame Hadamard;
"he is sure to receive you, as the Editor of the
Telegraph sends you for information."

Thanking the distressed lady, I drove at once
to the residence of Maitre Demange, in the Rue Jacob,
not far from the Palais de Justice. It was evening,
and the rooms of the celebrated lawyer who defended
Captain Dreyfus at the court-martial in Paris which
had convicted that officer were filled with clients of
both sexes waiting for consultations. Maitre Demange
kindly interrupted his work to receive me. I found
him with his secretary in a comfortable and finely
furnished study, sitting at a table covered with
documents. His appearance reminded me a little
of that of Sir George Jessel, the celebrated Jewish
lawyer whom I used to see and hear long ago in the
old Courts at Lincoln's Inn. Mattre Demange
looked at the letter which I had received from London
and then said, "You can tell your chiefs that in my
heart and soul I believe that Alfred Dreyfus is an



218 FORTY YEARS OF PARIS

innocent man. His innocence is to me clear, and
it will one day be proved. I can say no more to
you on the subject. There cannot, in fact, be
anything more said on the subject. For the present
M. Dreyfus must remain where they have sent him.
I cannot do anything, nor can his relatives, but the
day will come when justice will be done."

Edgar Demange spoke truly. Justice was done,
but only after a decade of commotion and convulsion
such as the world had never seen before over the
case of one man, and will never, in all probability, see
again. I do not think that it is necessary to refer at
any great length to the affaire, which has been well
threshed out in the newspapers of the world. Who
that reads newspapers does not remember the history
of it ? Who does not recall the names of the principal
actors in the drama, and remember that it originated
in the " leakages " discovered by the Intelligence
Department of the French War Office ? These
''leakages," or secret information concerning the
National Defence, were going on since 1892. The
German and Italian military attaches. Von Schwartz-
Koppen and Panizzardi, were supposed to be receiving
information from some French officer. Then the
Intelligence Department employs Madame Bastian,
charwoman at the German Embassy, to bring them
all the fragments of papers collected by her in the
offices which she had to clean out every morning.
In this way came to the French authorities the docu-
ment with the words " Ce canaille de D , "supposed

to have been written by the German Emperor, other
documents appearing to show that Major Von
Schwartzkoppen was receiving information direct




Alfred Dreyfus.



\Gcyschel



To face f. 218.



FORTY YEARS OF PARIS 219

from the French War Office, and finally the
bordereau, or note about guns and troops, which
was the work of Esterhazy, but was attributed to
Dreyfus. Soon afterwards it was decided to arrest
Captain Dreyfus, an artillery officer, son of an Alsatian
manufacturer.

I often wondered what induced Alfred Dreyfus
to enter the French Army. An able Jew, devoted
to work, issue of a hard-headed, money-making, com-
mercial stock, he goes through the miilitary schools,
joins the army and is a staff probationer. He is
so clever, so devoted to work, and withal so proud
of his attainments, far superior to those of his
Christian colleagues, that he becomes an object of
envy and jealousy. Now, in trade, in the com-
mercial line of his Jewish forefathers, some of whom
had been pedlars, but became successful and opulent,
Alfred Dreyfus, by the exercise of those very talents
which made him enemies in the army, would have
risen to pre-eminence as a merchant prince.

He chooses the army, however, and the result
is only too well known. Military degradation,
banishment to Devil's Island, the torture of heat, flies,
mosquitoes, and the " double buckle " for four years,
and finally, after enormous suffering and anxiety, the
new trial and then the " rehabilitation." And sand-
wiched between the various episodes of the affaire,^
connected directly with M. Dreyfus himself, were
the trial of Esterhazy, the trial and the ruin of Emile

^ This means the Dreyfusian episodes, such as his arrest, his
supposed escape from Devil's Island, his appeals from prison,
his redoubled punishment, his home-coming, &c., as dis-
tinguished from collateral affairs.



220 FORTY YEARS OF PARIS

Zola, the suicide of Colonel Henry, who had falsified
documents for the purpose of blackening more deeply
the supposed traitor, the partial ruin of Colonel
Picquart, who took up the case of his fellow-Alsa-
tian, and the mysterious sudden death of President
Felix Faure.

My meeting with Maitre Demange, after I had
seen Madame Hadamard, mother-in-law of Captain
Dreyfus, was the signal for the outburst in favour
of a new court-martial. My record of Maitre
Demange's brief but pregnant communication
appeared next day in the Telegraph and attracted
immense attention. The Jews of London throbbed
in sympathy with those of France and Germany.
The Gentiles, too, began to wonder if there had not
been some foul play, or at least a miscarriage of
justice. The Daily Chronicle next took the case up,
and a man of letters lectured in London on the affaire,
giving reproductions of the bordereau on a board.
In Paris, Bernard Lazare had published his pamphlet
and Senator Scheurer-Kestner, M. Joseph Reinach,
M. Trarieux, and Matthew Dreyfus opened their
campaign and formed what was called the Syndicate.
Then France became divided, and the Dreyfusards
and anti-Dreyfusards vilified and denounced each
other in public and private. The battle raged, not
only in the Press, but in Government offices, in
banks, shops, and private families. I knew one
family where the daughters were for the army and
against Dreyfus, and the sons emphatically in favour
of the wronged artillery officer. There were Catholics,
lay and ecclesiastic, for Dreyfus, as well as the Jews,
the atheists, the Agnostics, the Freethinkers and the



FORTY YEARS OF PARIS 221

Freemasons. In England, and even in Ireland and
Scotland, the majority were for Dreyfus. It was
interesting to note that, while Pere Du Lac and other
Jesuits who had educated staff officers, such as
Colonel du Paty de Clam, General de Boisdeffre and
Miribel, were accused of having pulled the strings
in the Dreyfus case, Jesuits in England and Ireland
were in favour of the unlucky officer. I remember
that a distinguished and eloquent Irish Jesuit, Father
Kane, once preached in Dublin actually in favour
of fair play to the Jewish captain who was being
daily branded as a traitor by the majority of the
French Catholics. This was one of the many
anomalies of the affaire which is still discussed in
France, even after the officer has been reinstated in
the army, and promoted.



CHAPTER XVI

Alphonse Daudet's death — His family and friends — M. Leon
Daudet on France and England — Emile Zola's letter
" J'accuse " — His trial — Colonel Henry's suicide — The
Fashoda alarm — Lord Kitchener in Paris when Sirdar —
His arrival with Baratier at the Gare de Lyon — Death of
Mr. Hely Bowes, a notable journalist — The mysterious
Death of President Faure — His secretary's statement —
Legends of " La Belle Juive " and the lady with the
violets — M. Faure's personality and picturesqueness.

ALPHONSE DAUDET died in December,
1897, j^st as the Dreyfus affair was being
revived. The death of the noveHst passed almost
unnoticed. He had long been ailing at his country seat
near Corbeil and Melun, and was physically a wreck
when I last saw him in Paris. That was at the
Gymnase Theatre where he went to witness the
unsuccessful adaptation of one of the novels of the
Goncourt brothers. Edmond de Goncourt, the
survivor of the two brothers, was also at the first
night. He passed away rather suddenly at Daudet's
house in the country, and his death gave a shock
to the author of " Les Rois en Exil," "L'Evangeliste,"
" L'Immortel," and " La Lutte pour la Vie." When
I began regular journalistic work in Paris, in 1884,

Alphonse Daudet was one of the most prominent of

222



FORTY YEARS OF PARIS 223

the literary men there. He had a wide audience, and
was supposed to command a large income from his
books. I cannot say that any of these interested me
as I was interested by Anatole France, Paul Bourget,
Maurice Barres, the Goncourts, Prosper Merimee, and
to a certain extent by Zola, Ohnet, and Mendes. I
read a good deal of Daudet, but I was somehow
repelled by his greed for "actualities." He rammed
all sorts of daily happenings into his novels, and
captured all sorts of people who were notorious, or
who were brought suddenly into prominence, for his
characters. " Numa Roumestan " is rather a good study
ofGambetta, but the people in "Les Rois en Exil" and
*' L'Evangeliste," some of whom I knew in real life,
seemed to be drawn in for mere effect, nor could they
have been artistically handled by the author, even if
he tried to handle them in that way. Tom Lewis in
" Les Rois " is Mr. John Arthur, a commercial man,
once a most prosperous member of the British colony
of Paris. He was especially prosperous in the days
of Napoleon the Third, but towards the end of the
last century he was in deep financial difficulties.
Daudet did better with Miss Booth, afterwards Mrs.
Booth-Clibborn, of the Salvation Army, who is the
Evangelist. One of the last books written by Daudet
was his " Trente ans de Paris," in which he recounted
his early troubles, which were of a very serious nature.
He had an uphill struggle, but it was not quite so
terrible as that experienced by his friend Zola, or by
Sardou. I used to meet Daudet frequently on the
boulevards in the eighties, and he always reminded
me of the artist, or painter, rather than the man
of letters. His black, wavy hair he wore long, and



224 FORTY YEARS OF PARIS

he liked cloaks and flowing ties. He also looked the
real Southern, the Meridional who had some drops of
Saracenic blood in his veins.

The Daudet family is a thoroughly literary one,
more so than that of Victor Hugo. Ernest Daudet,
brother of Alphonse, is no mean historian ; Leon
Daudet, son of the novelist, is a weaver of fiction as
his father was, and he is one of the most incisive
writers for the Nationalist Press. His mother,
Madame Alphonse Daudet, likewise keeps up the
strong literary reputation of the house. Leon Daudet
is, however, the chief writer of the family. Some of
his work is so good that I decline to admit the ruling
of my friend Steinlen the artist, who called Leon
Daudet ''un fils a papa'' This was during a row
caused by one of Steinlen's caricatures, to which
Ldon Daudet and his quondam brother-in-law Georges
Hugo took offence. Steinlen, who is a hard-working
draughtsman, meant by his phrase '^ fils a papa'' that
L6on Daudet was prosperous in life owing to his
father's money and influence, whereas he — Steinlen —
was the ''fils de ses ceuvres."

I cannot resist quoting some of Leon Daudet's
prose as I quoted some of that of Laurent Tailhade.
In 1903, for instance, when King Edward visited
Paris, Daudet wrote about German and English
influence on Frenchmen : *' Le genie de notre race
est a la fois tres particulier, et tres malleable. Fait
d'orgueil et d'impressionabilit^, il presuppose chez
I'adversaire et le vainqueur, des qualit^s de premier
rang. La raison entre en nous par les fissures de
I'enthousiasme . . . chose Strange I'homme d'etat
Anglais, Whig ou Tory, continue d'hypnotiser notre



FORTY YEARS OF PARIS 225

personnel an pouvoir. Que pense de moi (depuis
Ferry a Delcasse), le Cabinet de Londres ? Quelle
idee se font de moi, Disraeli, Gladstone, Rosebery,
Salisbury ? La generation de politiciens d^mocrates
formes par les loges et la brasserie considere avec
admiration, cette aristocratie d'affaires qui gere
d^gamment le plus grand comptoir du monde. Les
orchidees, les redingotes, les Sponges monstres de
leurs Chamberlains et de leurs Arthur Balfours, font
rever nos Camille Pelletans." It must be mentioned,
with reference to the *' big sponges " of Mr. Chamber-
lain and Mr. Balfour, and to M. Camille Pelletan,
that the latter politician was at one time constantly
the butt of Conservative and Nationalist sarcasm on
the ground that he had a rooted objection to baths,
and that he never combed his hair. M. Pelletan had
his hair cut, and presented a smart appearance, soon
after his marriage with a schoolmistress while he was
Minister of Marine in the cabinet of M. Combes.

M. Daudet next tries to dethrone J. S. Mill and
Herbert Spencer, who, he says, are only quoted in
France nowadays by M. Clemenceau, and he holds
that for the past twenty years there has been nothing
worth reading in English literature except the novels
of George Meredith.

" On a bien essaye de nous glisser dans la paco-
tille, Rudyard Kipling, mais nous sommes devenus
malins, et nous avons de la resistance."

Hear also M. Daudet on M. Combes, the Minister
who waged war with so much determination against
the religious orders. " Nous sumes bientot que cet
illustre M. Combes etait un ancien pretre defroque."
This, by the way, is not quite true, for M. Combes

16



226 FORTY YEARS OF PARIS

never received full sacerdotal orders, but no matter.
*' Remarquons en passant le role considerable que les
apostats et les renegats auront jou6 dans la politique
contemporaine. Le grand philosophe de la secte fut
Ernest Renan qui prit la chose avec une mollesse
enjoude, et declara, une fois pour toutes, que rien
iQi-bas n'a d'importance. Celui qui s'emancipe de ses
serments fait volontiers de cette emancipation une
regie de vie et une doctrine. Les plus intr^pides parmi
nos laicisateurs et nos proscripteurs sont des ratds
de la vocation religieuse. lis la rendent responsable
de leurs anciens echecs et de leur propre insuffisance.
lis ont en haine ceux qui sans ddfaillir, sont demeur^s
serviteurs de Dieu."

M. Daudet, as may be seen from the fragments of
his prose quoted, is a '' fils a papa " inasmuch as
he can write well. Whatever may be his private
reputation, and his adventures as a man about town,
he can observe, reflect, and put the result of his
observations and reflections into fluent and forcible
prose.

Hastening on to 1898, I find that in the January of
that year I made a close acquaintance with the
Palais de Justice. This was a place which I never
cared for overmuch, principally owing to the difficulties
put in the way of a journalist there whenever a cause
cilebre is being heard. The trial of Emile Zola
for his furious letter " J accuse," in which he attacked
the officers of the court-martial before which Captain
Dreyfus appeared, and also the chiefs of the army,
lasted three w^eeks. Zola was put on trial with
Perreux, manager of the Aurore, in which the letter
" J 'accuse " appeared. Some of the foreign journalists,



FORTY YEARS OF PARIS 227

notably Dr. Goldmann, of the Frankfort Gazette, must
have lived at the Palais de Justice during those three
weeks. At any rate, they had all their meals there.
The energetic Goldmann was crunching thick ham
sandwiches every day, and writing out his despatches
for Frankfort at the same time. I was usually at the
Palais towards evening, and the case continued late.
It concluded on the night of February 23, 1898, Zola
being condemned to one year's imprisonment and a
fine of 3,000 francs. Perreux had a sentence of four
months and the same fine as Zola. I had some
trouble in verifying the exact terms of the sentences
at a late hour, and while I was driving to the office in
a cab with my copy, I was horrified to find that an
evening paper which I bought on the way brought
out an edition in which it was brazenly asserted that
Zola had been acquitted.

The year 1898 was fertile in alarms and surprises.
Zola appealed, had a second trial at Versailles in May,
was condemned and disappeared to England. In the
ensuing month M. M^line resigned, having obtained
only a very meagre majority in a debate on the
general policy of the Government. He was succeeded
on June 28, 1898, by M. Henri Brisson, who had
M. Delcass6 as Foreign Minister, and M. Godefroy
Cavaignac as War Minister.

Now came the suicide of Colonel Henry in Fort
Mont Valerienat Suresnes. It happened in September,
1898, while I was on a holiday trip. I had been
to London, to Boulogne-sur-Mer, and then, notwith-
standing the warm weather prevailing at the time,
to the South of France. After having visited Monte
Carlo and enjoyed its summer desolation, there being



228 FORTY YEARS OF PARIS

only about a dozen people in the Casino to respond to
the croupiers' call, I stayed a week at Marseilles. It
was there, while walking in the early morning on the
quays, that I saw the headings of the newspapers
in the kiosques, " Suicide du Colonel Henry." I
bought the Petit Marseillais, and there in a long letter
from Paris read the details of the tragedy in Mont
Valerien which changed the whole face of the Dreyfus
case.

To tell the truth, although the Marseilles people are
supposed to be excitable, they did not seem to be
much perturbed by the suicide. I myself was in fact
the person who was most excited about it. The
Marseillais took it all quite calmly, and did not discuss
it and gesticulate over it. They went on eating their
bouillabaisse as usual, and at Pascal's, where I had
mine with a bottle of local Cannet wine to wash it


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 14 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25

Online LibraryWalter F LonerganForty years of Paris → online text (page 14 of 25)