Walter F Lonergan.

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them right." And M. Combes did effectively what
he wanted to do. There was no vacillation, no
shilly-shallying, no temporising, no giving in before
tears, protests, expostulations, threats. It was all
done thoroughly, and M. Combes, spoiled priest
and formerly an erudite expounder of the philosophy
of St. Thomas Aquinas, made coarse jokes about
the nuns to whom he was giving opportunities to
find husbands and lovers after their liberation from
conventual bondage.

During that summer of 1902 I had some rude
awakenings. I was working alone in the Telegraph
office from the nth of August to the nth of
September, writing the whole of the Paris corre-
spondence. On the night of the 27th of August
I was staggered by the news that Sir Campbell
Clarke had died at Uckfield, in Sussex, where he
and Lady Clarke were staying with Miss Matilda
Levy. Only about a fortnight before his death
Sir Campbell Clarke had passed through Paris on
his way to England from Aix-les-Bains. Had he
died in Paris his death would have attracted great
attention, and his funeral would have been imposing,
as he was not only a celebrity who knew all the
artistic and theatrical people, and many of the
politicians and financiers, but he was also an officer of
the Legion of Honour. As he died in England the
French took no interest in his passing, and the
obituary notices in the newspapers were few and
meagre. In the following month, September, I was
startled by the mysterious death of another man whom
I knew, Emile Zola. I was at the time enjoying a


holiday, and received the news of Zola's death at
Aix-la-Chapelle. Nobody seemed to be able to give
any explanation for that death except that it was
a case of asphyxiation or suffocation in an ill- ventilated
bedroom. Yet M. and Madame Zola had been
livino- for many years in that house in the Rue de
Bruxelles, and had every opportunity of seeing
that it was in proper order and thoroughly fit for
habitation. I knew that Zola was always, as he
said himself, frileux^ or sensitive to cold, and
that he liked overheated rooms. In any case, the
attributed cause of the novelist's death, if not believed
by everybody, was at least regarded with suspicion.
This sort of death from asphyxiation in rooms
seems to be peculiar to Paris. You hardly ever
hear of deaths from such causes in other large cities.
Among Parisians, when anything goes wrong, char-
coal fumes or stoves are brought into operation,
and lives are ended easily and without noise. When
all was up with Gabriel Syveton, the arriviste,
who became a Deputy and treasurer of the Patriotic
League, and when he was about to be branded
as a robber and to be compromised by the state-
ments of his stepdaughter, he falls down near a
stove and is asphyxiated. Emile Zola had not
the same motives for seeking his end by asphyxiation
as Gabriel Syveton had ; but it is certain that for
some time before his death he was no longer the
strong, self-assertive, and fearlessly independent man
that he had been in the days before the sale of his
novels decreased. Then, he had the emotions of
the Dreyfus case, and above all the fearful indict-
ment brought against his dead father by Ernest


Judet, of the Petit Journal. The case of Zola's
father, who had committed some peculations while
an officer of minor rank in the French Army,
was often referred to as a striking instance of that
mania for ''disinterring corpses," or " raking up dead
bodies," which prevailed during the Dreyfus agitation.
There is no doubt that this disinterment of Zola's
father, the Dreyfus case, and the prospect of un-
popularity as a writer after having been one of the
most active and successful authors of his generation,
preyed heavily on Zola's mind. He used to say
some years before his death that he made it a
practice every morning when he rose "to swallow
a certain amount of snakes " — "avaler des couleuvres "
— during the day. This was in reference to the
unfavourable criticisms that might be passed on his
books, one of those stinging condemnations like that,
for instance, of Anatole France,^ who subsequently
lauded Zola's intervention in the Dreyfus case.
When he died Judet, his tormentor, wrote that the
indictment against his father was too big a snake for
the novelist, and that it choked him. There were
others besides Judet who attacked Zola after his

^ Here is Anatole France's condemnation of Zola's work
as an author : —

" II ignore la beaute des mots comme il ignore la beaute des
choses. II prete a tons ses personnages I'affolement de I'ordure.
En ecrivant ' La Terre ' il a donne les Georgiques de la crapule.
. . . Son oeuvre est mauvaise et il est un de ces malheureux dont
on pent dire qu'il vaudrait mieux qu'ils ne fussent pas nes. . . . Je
ne lui nierai point sa detestable gloire. Personne avant lui n'avait
eleve un si haut tas d'immondices. Jamais homme n'avait fait
un pareil effort pour avilir I'humanite, insulter a toutes les images
de la beaute et de I'amour, nier tout ce qui est bon et tout ce qui
est bien, ... M, Zola est digne d'une profonde pitie."


connection with the Dreyfus case. It had long
been supposed that Zola, whatever may have been
his morality as a bachelor, was a most steady
married man, devoted to his wife and leading with
her a prosaic pot-au-feu life. His enemies, how-
ever, discovered, after the publication of the letter
'' J'accuse,'' that Zola had a liaison with his wife's
maid, who bore him two children, and that Madame
Zola, who adored her husband, allowed and even
sanctioned the liaison. This was all quite true,
and in 1906 Madame Zola took the necessary
steps to have the children legally authorised to bear
the novelist's name.^ There was also an accusation
hurled at Zola before his death, to the effect that
he refused to help his struggling sister-in-law. Emile
Zola sleeps in Montmartre Cemetery, which is quite
close to the scenes of his struggles and of his suc-
cesses. He lived in the district near the great
cemetery when he was only an obscure hack ; he
was in lodgings there long before he became
known as an author ; and when at last he reached
the golden goal he took a large house in the
Rue Ballu, whence he afterwards moved to a finer
mansion in the Rue de Bruxelles, where he died.
In the Montmartre Cemetery he is the neighbour,
if the word may be employed in the melancholy
connection, of Ernest Renan, Heinrich Heine, Dumas
the younger, Berlioz, L60 Delibes, the composer
of "■ Lakme," and Stendhal or Beyle, the immortal
writer of " La Chartreuse de Parme."

^ The mother of these children was with Zola during
his brief exile in London, where he wrote " Fecondite," his last
novel but one. It was the case of " Hagar " over again.


A few months before Zola's funeral in Montmartre
Cemetery I had attended in the same place the
burial of another man of letters, Henry Fouquier.
He died in December, 1901, comparatively young.
I often met Fouquier at Tortoni's, where he was
in the habit of dashing off his marvellous articles.
He had worn himself to a shadow by hard work.
He wrote "social" leaders for the Figaro and for
about half a dozen other daily papers. At one time
his prose preponderated in the Press, and nearly
every paper you took up had an article, always
readable and interesting, signed by Henry Fouquier.
He went down suddenly, like Zola, and the boulevards
knew him no more. It was written of him with truth,
that " sa vie avait ^te des plus fievreuses et des plus
remplies." This may also be said of many an English
journalist too. Fouquier was a chroniqtieur. He
excelled in taking up floating facts and fancies and
building articles out of them or on them. They
were "airy nothings," but he made them substantial
reading. The chronique system was invented,
in its modern form at least, by one Eugene Guinot,
who about 1840 wrote in the Siecle over the
signature " Pierre Durand." He was the historio-
grapher of small events, a veritable "chronicler of
small beer," a gossiper on petty scandals, petty life-
dramas, and potins de Paris. As a man said, "II
enregistre tout ce qui fit partie, sinon de I'histoire,
du moins de I'historiette de son temps." He had
imitators, and then writers who distanced him, such
as Nestor Roqueplan, Jules Janin, Madame Emile
de Girardin, Paul d'lvry, Rochefort, Scholl, Villemot,
Alberic Second, Alphonse Karr, About, Albert


Wolff, Henry Fouquier, Henry Maret. These were
the journalistic giants, famous long before the pithy
and practical M. Harduin of the Matin was known.
Many of the older chroniclers were inspired, exploited,
and even bullied into fame by Villemessant, the
linendraper who ruled the Figaro with a rod of
iron, and never wrote a line. He knew what the
public wanted, and he went everywhere — to the
theatres, the greenrooms, the clubs, such as they
were then, to Tortoni's, and to the " Librarie nouvelle "
on the boulevards, once a rendezvous of celebrities, for
subjects to be written up by his men in chroniques
which were talked about for a week.

In January, 1903, another famous journalist — not
of the stamp of those whom I have just mentioned,
although had he written for the French Press he might
have ranked amongst them — passed away. M. Oppert
de Blowitz died on January 17, 1903, about a month
after his colleagues of the English Press had presented
him with a souvenir of their esteem and veneration.
Mr. Farman, then on the Standard, organised the
presentation, and asked me to take part in it. As I
had not been amongst those whom M. de Blowitz
condescended to patronise in the days of his fame,
I did not subscribe to the souvenir. I must say,
however, that at the time I did not know that M. de
Blowitz was so near his end, and I had also forgotten
the fact that, as Mr. Farman wrote, he had been
perhaps the greatest of journalists. I did not quite
realise this until I read the Memoirs of Prince
Hohenlohe, which show conclusively the important
part played by the Paris Correspondent of the Times
in European politics after the war of 1870-71.


The news of the famous Correspondent's death on
the evening of January 17, 1903, reached us at the
office of the Telegraph soon after he had breathed
his last. I was the means of propagating the news
through Paris, for after I left the office I went to Herr
Spiess's restaurant and brasserie on the boulevards,
which was then a meeting-place of pressmen and also
of persons connected with the stage. I told the news
to Herr Spiess, an Austrian who knew M. de Blowitz
well, and he was staggered by it. " What ! the great
Blowitz dead }'' It was but too true. Then he gave
the news to French pressmen, who immediately tele-
phoned it to their editors, and went to the house of
the great Correspondent for full confirmation of the
event. After all, there was comparatively little
written in the French newspapers about the death.
The fact was that many of Blowitz's old Press friends,
those who knew him well, had joined the majority
before him, and to the younger generation he was, if
not unknown, at least overlooked as one of the past.

Two months after the death of the Times Corre-
spondent we had another startling event — the suicide
of General Sir Hector Macdonald at the Hotel Regina,
in the Rue de Rivoli. Very few people knew that
the General was staying in Paris. He was on his way
home to answer the charges brought against him in
Ceylon. The news of his death by his own hand was
first given out to the Press by an English doctor who
had been called in by the landlord of the hotel, but
whose services were unavailing. The General was
dead when the doctor came, and nothing could be
done but to wrap his martial cloak around him until
the undertakers came. It was one of the most


melancholy events that the English newspaper
Correspondents ever had to record. Some of them
were deeply affected by the awful affair. My friend
H. Cozens- Hardy, of the Morning Leader, was one
of the first to hear of the great soldier's death. ^

While these deaths were occurring the expulsions of
religious Orders were being carried out relentlessly by
M. Combes, and in the meantime serious charges
were brought against his son and private secretary.
A journalist of Grenoble, one Besson, accused M.
Edgar ^ Combes of having used his position under his
father at the Ministry of the Interior for the purpose
of raising money from the Carthusian monks. The
Prior of the Grande Chartreuse was approached by
persons from Paris who told him that by paying a
large sum of money the monks would be allowed to
remain in France. The hubbub caused by M. Besson
was soon overshadowed by the news that King
Edward the Seventh was coming to Paris. The
monks of the Grande Chartreuse left France with
many others of their cloth, the affair against M.
Combes junior was hushed up, and Paris prepared
for the royal visit, which took place in May, 1903.
A few days before the King's coming I and my
colleagues of the Telegraph were at luncheon with
the Hon. Harry Lawson at an establishment in the
Champs Elysees. Mr. Lawson was naturally full of
the King's visit, and commented on the change

^ Sir Hector Macdonald's death in Paris was, I have since
heard, doubted in England and Scotland, but I have no con-
firmation of the report that he has been seen alive in his native
country recently. This, I think, was the gossip of soldiers who
had served under him.

2 M. Combes, jun., died in April, 1907.


brought about which made such a visit possible. As
he justly remarked, only a few months before the
French were for Kruger, and cries of ''A das les
Anglais ! " were not infrequent in Paris. The King
made a change in the feelings of the French, and
brought about that entente cordiale, which has
most undoubtedly worked wonders. It has actually
influenced not only official France, but has permeated
the people. After it was established, caricatures of
the English, sneers at John Bull and his island, even
jibes and jokes about the British tourists and their
clothes, all disappeared. The British tourist, though
garbed in the most aggressive manner and wearing
illumination stockings, walked along the boulevards
with impunity. People no longer stared at Englishmen
and Englishwomen who were apparently dressed for
golfing, and stood forth as conspicuous figures in
the public thoroughfares. The gamins themselves
discontinued their ridicule of the " Aoh yes " sort, and
jokes about '* mon Anglais " and " les Angleesh " were
dropped in the music-halls, which during the war in
South Africa re-echoed with anti- English songs and

The King came on Friday, May i, 1903, a memor-
able date. We had, of course, a strong staff at the
Telegraph office for the occasion. My colleagues
and I were reinforced by Mr. Ellerthorpe and Mr.
McHugh from the London staff, and Lord Burnham,
who was then still Sir Edward Lawson, organised the
service during the four days of the royal sojourn.
One of the finest street scenes witnessed in Paris
since the days of the third Napoleon was King
Edward's drive from the station where he landed,


down the avenue of the Champs Elysees, and around
the Place de la Concorde towards the British
Embassy. His Majesty was in Field Marshal's
uniform, and his carriage, in which President Loubet
also sat, was escorted around to the Embassy by
some of the crack Cuirassier regiments of the French
army. At the Embassy there was a crowd of cele-
brities awaiting the royal arrival, among them being
many French men and women of distinction who
were personal friends of His Majesty, and whose
houses he always visited when he was in Paris as Prince
of Wales. For me it was an interesting contrast to
compare the official coming of the King with his
former visits. I had frequently seen him in Paris
when he was Prince of Wales and walked about
like an ordinary visitor.


King Edward in Paris — The King at the Hotel de Ville — Great
popular and official reception — The King and Queen of
Italy in Paris — Voices against the visit — Attacks on Victor
Emmanuel and the Republicans who receive him — M. and
Madame Jaures at the Elysee banquet — The Socialist
citoyenne and her diamonds — The Republic and the
Church at war — Real and pretended anti-clericals — Two
famous actors, Delaunay and Got — Herman Merivale and
John Hollingshead in Paris — John Clifford Millage of the
Chronicle — Death of Princess Mathilde — Her literary and
artistic receptions — Marinoni and the Petit Journal — The
king of compositors — Death of M. Waldeck- Rousseau at
Corbeil — His last cigarette — Resignation of his successor,
M. Combes — Exultation of Catholics over the defeat of the
petit pere — Gabriel Syveton's career — The Patrie Frangaise
and its literary and artistic supporters — Syveton's ruin
and death — Return of Paul Deroulede — His souvenirs.

I HAVE seen the King, for instance, when he was
Prince of Wales, walking in the Rue de la Paix
and the Rue Royale, dressed like an ordinary
gentleman in frock-coat and the rest. Here in May,
1903, I beheld him in all his magnificence as a mighty
monarch, receiving the acclamation of the French,
saluting his welcomers in military fashion, and un-
doubtedly looking every inch a king. There was
no mistake about it. He acted his part well, and
the French saw it. It was no longer the old, familiar
*' Prince des Galles," the habitue of the Cafe Anglais,



the sportsman, the clubman — the boulevardier, in fact
— but a powerful potentate who played up admirably
to his role as the ruler of millions, and the great sove-
reign whose voice is potent for peace or war. And
after he went the French learned that he was the
great peacemaker in Europe. Another interesting
episode of the King's stay in Paris was his visit to
the Hotel de Ville, that place of many conflicts
between contending politicians, some of whom are
of the most divergent parties — Moderates, Nationalists,
Socialists, and Reds. His Majesty went there in his
military uniform, after he had been at the Vincennes
review. He won the hearts of all, even of men who
had their lives long been blatant about the tyranny
of emperors and kings. The King left by the Gare
des Invalides on Monday, May 4, 1903. He was
dressed that time in admiral's costume and looked
just as impressive as he did on the day of his coming
into Paris. I was quite close to him as he conversed
in the most amiable manner with his friend President
Loubet, and had an occasional word with the Cabinet
Ministers. Two months after M. Loubet went to
London, accompanied by M. Delcasse and by his son,
M. Paul Loubet, who is a high official of the Bank of
France, and the entente cordiale was consolidated.

It was noticeable that while King Edward was in
Paris not a single jarring or discordant note was heard.
The newspapers which had formerly been most anti-
English became suddenly suave and subdued in tone.
The contending parties and factions were temporarily
at peace, and Frenchmen of opposing political camps
discontinued their wrangling.

It was far different when the King and Queen


of Italy came a few months after, and also when
Alfonso of Spain visited President Loubet in May,
1905. French Socialists and Communists were up
in arms against the Italian Government for the
massacres at Milan. They pointed out that the
Italian prisons were not only full of Socialists, but
that all those who professed Republican principles
in that country were hunted down and persecuted
without pity. It was even intended by the Comite
Socialiste Interfederal of France to organise a mani-
festation against King Victor Emmanuel, who was
made responsible for what happened at Milan. The
manifestation was discountenanced by the Italian
Socialists, so it did not take place. On the other
hand, the French Socialists of the Guesde and Vaillant
school, ^Q parti Socialiste rivolutionnaire, as opposed
to the parti Socialiste gouvernemental of M. Jaures,
were furious with the Republicans and sham Socialists
who were "truckling" to the King of Italy. M.
Combes was bitterly denounced for having expelled
hundreds of Italians, and for having kept in prison
others of the same nationality, while young Victor
Emmanuel and his consort were in Paris. M. Jaures
was attacked for having dispensed for a time with
the services of that venerable agitator Amilcare
Cipriani, who wrote for the Petite Ripublique Socialiste.
Then there were jibes over Madame Loubet pre-
senting the ladies of her Court to their Italian
Majesties, and jibes over M. Jaures himself, who
was at the Elys^e banquet in honour of the King
and Queen of Italy, sitting between the Duchess
of Ascoli and the Countess Guicciardini, while his
wife, la citoyenne Jaures, scintillating with diamonds,


was between Count Falgari and Captain di Casalino
e Pismenzo. And it is to be remembered that
M. Jaures was never attacked for having •* truckled "
to King Edward of England, nor for his presence
at garden parties given by Sir Edmund and Lady
Monson when they were at the British Embassy. The
advanced Socialists, moreover, had no bone to pick
with Dr. Brousse and the municipal councillors who
who had welcomed King Edward so enthusiastically
to the Hotel de Ville.

The denunciations and attacks were renewed when
the King of Spain came, and with fourfold venom
and animosity. Dr. Brousse, who belongs to the
'* Unified Socialist " party, and some of his colleagues
at the Hotel de Ville were described as having
gone on their knees to lick the varnished boots of
Alfonso the Thirteenth, monarch of the "most back-
ward and unprogressive nation in Europe," a
ruler of fanatics and zealots, and " responsible for the
most atrocious crimes." The attacks on the King
of Spain culminated, as we all know, in the dynamite
outrage in the Rue de Rohan, where President
Loubet and Alfonso the Thirteenth narrowly escaped
grievous injury, if not death, as they were driving to
the Quai d'Orsay from the Opera.

Shortly after King Edward's State visit to Paris
several remarkable events occurred. The principal
of these was the death of Pope Leo the Thir-
teenth, which some of the French Catholics attributed
to the doings of the Republican Government and
especially to M. Combes. At all events, the
French Catholics maintained that the Pontiff's death
was hastened owing to the persecutions of the


religious orders by the man who was called
the "modern Diocletian." M. Combes, it seems
enjoyed the bracketing of his name with that of
the Roman Emperor who persecuted the early Chris-
tians, and he is even said to have joked over it. The
fact is that the so-called "anti-clericalism" in France
is rather a big joke, and only some of its professors
are genuine. Even M. Combes himself, as well as
those ultra anti-clericals who are pretropkages, or
priest-eaters, and who insist on calling the new
Pontiff, Pius the Tenth, Sarto tont court, are difficult
to understand. They have undoubtedly persecuted
the Catholics, but they profess to -be doing their best
for them. Many of them have friends amongst the
clergy, and their wives, almost to a woman, still
adhere to the Church. Some of the thoroughgoing
Socialists hold that the whole campaign against the
Church which has been continuing since 1871 is
carried on for the purpose of eluding the task of
social reforms. The real anti-clericals are among the
Jews, the Protestants, and the Freemasons, and these
do heartily hate the Church of Rome. With these
strong haters are some ex-priests, such as M. Victor
Charbonuel and M. Clauzel of the Petite Rdpublique
Socialiste, who for some reason or other vie in venom
against their former religion with the genuine anti-
clericals among the Jews, Protestants, and Freemasons.
Anomalies and contradictions are numerous among
the anti-clericals who have been brought up as
Catholics. I have already alluded to the case of
M. Waldeck- Rousseau, the originator of the Associa-
tions Law against the religious orders, and who at
the same time was the friend of Pere Maumus the



Dominican. His wife when ill was in the care of
nuns. Madame Loubet was appalled by the action

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Online LibraryWalter F LonerganForty years of Paris → online text (page 17 of 25)