Copyright
Walter F Lonergan.

Forty years of Paris online

. (page 8 of 25)
Online LibraryWalter F LonerganForty years of Paris → online text (page 8 of 25)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


was plain to them, without being told by Prince
Hohenlohe that the French, or at least the majority
of the nation, went with the Government against the
ultra-patriots who wanted back Alsace and Lorraine.
Even those among the French who were temporarily
fascinated by Boulanger soon returned to sober reason,
and remembered 1870.

As to the extraordinary passage about the proposed
restoration of temporal power to the Pope, in the story
above referred to, there was not a man of any of the
French Cabinets in office during the period of crisis,
who cared a sou about the Pope. At the time alluded
to by Prince Hohenlohe in the passages quoted,
namely, May, 1888, M. Floquet, a decided anti-clerical,
although he had relatives who were priests, was
President of the Council, M. de Freycinet, War



FORTY YEARS OF PARIS 111

Minister, M. Goblet at the Foreign Office, M. Peytral
at the Exchequer, and M. Ferrouillot, head of the
Public Worship Department. There were several
others whom I do not name, but all were anti-clericals.
They were not so thoroughly anti-clerical as M.
Combes or M. Clemenceau. Both Floquet and Goblet
were partisans of the separation of Church and State.
but they temporised in the matter, and left the decisive
step to their successors. Looking back on those days,
it is interesting to note that in March, 1888, after the
formation of a new Cabinet, the programme of the
Government foreshadowed that Associations law which
enabled M. Combes to deal a deadly blow at the
religious orders and congregations or communities of
pious men and women. The programme ran : " The
Government invites the Chamber to proceed with
measures of internal reform (other than the revision
of the Constitution, which would require much con-
sideration) in the order of their urgency. The Govern-
ment would submit a Bill on Associations, as a pre-
liminary to a definitive settlement of the relations
between Church and State, so as to carry on the
work of secularisation which was inaugurated by the
French Revolution." ^

As to the " fear of war " at this period on the part
of France, as stated by Prince Hohenlohe, it is shown

^ " The work of secularisation which was inaugurated by the
French Revolution." This sentence shows what French Re-
piiblicains de Gouvernement had in their minds to do with the
Church long before the Dreyfus case, and the incessantly
alleged interference of the Vatican in French home politics.
I am not holding a brief for either side, but I try to be just
and impartial. This programme about Church and State was
issued in 1888.



112 FORTY YEARS OF PARIS

a little in the following passage of the Floquet pro-
gramme of March, 1888: "The Senate would be
asked to discuss the military laws already passed by
the Chamber. The new organisation of the forces
would augment the means of defence, and so con-
stitute a guarantee for the maintenance of peace, to
which the Government is sincerely attached." This
declaration was greatly applauded by the Left benches.
And thus we glided on in peace to the Universal
Exhibition of 1889.



CHAPTER IX

The Exhibition of 1889 — A Lord Mayor's banquet in Paris —
M. Tirard, Sir James Whitehead and the City magnates
from London — Mysterious disappearance of a journaHst —
The so-called " reptiles " of the German Press — Bismarck's
double — Boulangist tentative de regonflement — The Duke
of Orleans and the Gamelle — Boulanger's suicide — The
British Embassy in Paris — Lord Lyons and the Republicans
— The Jubilee garden party.

THE Exhibition of 1889, which followed the
period of political agitation identified with
General Boulanger and his backers, was chiefly notable
for that ugly construction known as Eiffel's Tower.
This mass of ironwork became "popular" like every-
thing that is ugly and commonplace. Before the
opening of the Exhibition, the ultra- Republicans
planned the celebration of the centenary of 1789,
when the great Revolution was beginning. This
affair nearly spoiled the prospects of the commercial
people who had organised the Exhibition, as the
monarchical countries threatened to keep aloof from
the Fair. A compromise was effected, Russia,
Austria, England, and the other European nations,
with the exception of Germany, agreeing to allow
their traders and shopkeepers to exhibit in Paris,
unofficially or privately, that is to say, on their own

9 "3



114 FORTY YEARS OF PARIS

account, and unrecognised by their Governments.
By this sort of pious fraud the Exhibition was saved
from fiasco. The Germans who held back made up
for their absence then by their hearty co-operation
in the next Universal Exhibition of Paris, that
of 1900.

I had very little to do with the Exhibition of 1889.
The Daily Telegraph had sent over as " special " the
late Mr. W. Beatty- Kingston, a remarkable man in
many respects. I met him afterwards in the Paris
office of the Telegraph when, with Mr. J, M.
Le Sage, Mr. Clement Scott, and Mr. Bennett
Burleigh, he came over for President Carnot's funeral.
During the Exhibition of 1889 Mr. Kingston took
nearly all the work off the hands of the Paris
Correspondents, and left us little to do except to
watch the political and general happenings of the
time, and to register them. He wrote voluminously,
but I could not help thinking that he was out of
his element in doing such work. George Augustus
Sala would have done it in a more picturesque and
entertaining manner, but he had ceased to write
much about Paris at that time. He wrote in 1885
on the Gingerbread Fair, and towards his decline
he was also in Paris on light, special work.

Kingston was a remarkable writer in his own way.
Like Sala, he was a cosmopolitan, and unlike Sala
he was a strong authority on international politics.
Besides writing leading articles, he also showed that
he could equal, if not distance, any young cdmpetitors
in what is known as '* interviewing." M. de Blowitz
himself, who did " interviewing," although it was
not called by that word in his case, could never have



FORTY YEARS OF PARIS 115

written those columns in which W. Beatty- Kingston
recorded his meeting with Bismarck at Friedrichsruhe
and his audience of Pope Leo XIII. at the Vatican,
when the Pontiff alluded to the present German
Emperor as '' questo giovane.'"

One of my most pleasant memories in connection
with the Exhibition of 1889 is the Guildhall or
Mansion House sort of banquet given at the Grand
Hotel by Sir James Whitehead, then Lord Mayor
of London. Sir James came over to Paris for the
World's Fair with Sir Polydore de Keyser, Sir, then
Mr. George Faudel Phillips, and other celebrated
City men. The most genial man of the whole party
was Polydore de Keyser, and he was also the most
vivacious. A Belgian born, and not an Englishman,
he did more than any of the others with him to make
the representatives of Great Britain at the Exhibition
appreciated by the French.

The Lord Mayor's banquet brought together
among other people Mr. W. T. Stead, fresh from
his " Modern Babylon " campaign ; W. Beatty-
Kingston, Campbell Clarke, Colonel Villiers, of the
British Embassy, and a crowd of French celebrities,
commercial chiefly, but also artistic and literary.
When I went into the banquet hall, I was some
moments before I could define to myself precisely
whether the chairman or president at the function
was the Lord Mayor, M. Tirard, then head of the
French Cabinet, or Mr. W. Beatty-Kingston, the
Special Correspondent of the Daily Telegraph. Mr.
Kingston, in truth, occupied a most commanding
position at the table. He was able to see, and to
be seen by, everybody. I soon discovered, however,



116 FORTY YEARS OF PARIS

that he had no powdered footmen standing behind
him. These stood near the Lord Mayor and
M. Tirard, and they assisted in filling the champagne
glasses of the guests. The banquet could not have
been beaten in the City itself so far as viands and
wines were concerned. The speech-making was
ponderous and dull, but the speakers were brief
in their utterances and did not remain long on
their feet. Everybody went home early with the
recollection of a magnificent dinner. My enjoyment
of the feast was slightly marred by the exigencies
of the special wire. It was I, and not Campbell
Clarke or Beatty- Kingston, who had to telegraph
to London an account of the dinner and a pricis
of the speeches delivered. In this work I had some
assistance from the Lord Mayor's own reporter, or
special man, whom I have never seen since, neither
have I seen many of the others who were at that
Exhibition banquet of 1889. Not a few of those
who were there have joined the majority — Sir James
Whitehead, Sir Polydore de Keyser, M. Tirard,
the French President of the Council, W. Beatty-
Kingston, Campbell Clarke, Oppert de Blowitz, and
even Colonel Villiers of the Embassy, who was one
of the youngest and seemingly one of the most
vigorous of those present. Mr. W. T. Stead, who
was also at the banquet, is still in the land of the
living.

It was soon after this, too, that my useful friend,
Negrau, known as the "little Portuguese," dis-
appeared mysteriously. The man was only a simple
reporter, but had he been able to write well he
might have rivalled the mighty Blowitz. He was



FORTY YEARS OF PARIS 117

of the stuff that Blowitzes are made of He was a
type of the bold, pushing journaHst of the Continent
who insists on approaching everybody. He did not
mind being repulsed — that made him more eager
to go on. He ended by making everybody receive
him, and he talked familiarly with nearly every-
body of importance in Paris. I first met him. at the
Chamber of Deputies, where he was in the habit
of lobbying until he extracted something from a
Member of Parliament. Occasionally he succeeded
in button-holing a Cabinet Minister. At night I
used to meet Negrau at Pousset's brasserie in the
Faubourg Montmartre, where he fraternised with
Catulle Mendes and several other literary and
journalistic men to whom he duly introduced me,
but whom I had not much time to see afterwards.

Another habitu^ of the original Brasserie Pousset
in the Faubourg Montmartre was M. Antoine, then
a simple clerk in a gas company, and who has since
revolutionised the French stage. With these I
occasionally foregathered, and Negrau also brought
me in touch with many other Frenchmen who were
either notable for their work or interesting as
personalities. Negrau was all things to all men.
He talked, as I have said, familiarly to politicians
and others of prominence, and he was received by
Royalists and Republicans alike, nobody seeming to
care what his own special line of politics was.
Neither did anybody seem to know or care as to
the special newspaper or the newspapers which he
represented. This was a mystery, yet he was at
every function of importance in Paris, and he talked
with such notabilities as the Due de Broglie, the



118 FORTY YEARS OF PARIS

Due Decazes, the Comte de Mun, Paul de Cassagnac,
the Republicans Jules Ferry, Henri Brisson, Eugene
Spuller, Charles Floquet, the artists, dramatists, and
literary men, and also with the policemen and the
hawkers on the boulevards.

The man suddenly dropped out of ken. The
last time that I saw him was on the occasion of
the banquet given by Sir James Whitehead. He
was not at that function, but waited in the Grand
Hotel for news of it from me. This he probably
sold to the French newspapers. After that he was
seen no more on the boulevards, and there was a
report that he had been poisoned by a woman. I
was really sorry to have lost this poor fellow, but
I had no time to find out what had become of him.
I have had to defend his memory before Frenchmen
who held that he was in the pay of a German
Correspondent in Paris who was known as "Bismarck's
double " owing to his resemblance to the Iron
Chancellor. He was a Herr von Beckmann, and
was connected with what was termed at the time the
"reptile press," which was at Bismarck's call. For my
part, I always found Beckmann an excellent fellow.
He had to " lie very low " in Paris, in those days,
with Herr Kramer of the Cologne Gazette, and he was
never at any official functions. I do not think that
Beckmann ever had any need of my friend Negrau,
although the Frenchmen held that he had. This,
too, was the idea of some of the foreign Correspondents
in Paris, who also affirmed that Negrau belonged
to the secret police. It is always easy to acquire
an unenviable reputation as a political or a police
spy in Paris, but it was especially so in those days



FORTY YEARS OF PARIS 119

to which I am now referring. I was put down as a
police spy on the occasion of my presence in the
editorial offices of M. Clemenceau. My foregatherings
with Beckmann and Negrau gained for me the
strange distinction of being regarded as a German
spy, and my peculiar name was set down as Teutonic.
Colour was also lent to my supposed connection
with the *' reptiles " by the fact that I had written
some paragraphs in the Telegraph calling attention
to the increasing popularity of German beer in
Paris.

This was quoted with great relish in German
newspapers devoted to the brewing trade, and some
of the French journalists called the attention of the
patriots to the matter. The result was that the same
mob of patriots who had tried to prevent the pro-
duction of Wagner's " Lohengrin " at the Op^ra
smashed the windows of a few brasseries on the
boulevards, wherein beer of Munich and Nuremberg
was sold. Since that time a change has come over
the Parisians, who nowadays crowd to hear anything
by Wagner and who absorb German beer without any
patriotic misgivings.

The general elections of 1889 were important, as
the Floquet Bill was utilised. By that measure scrutin
darrondissement, previously referred to, was put in
operation, and it provided that " nobody can be a
candidate in more than one constituency." This
was aimed at Boulanger, who was endeavouring to
imitate the third Napoleon by instituting di plebiscite,
but his day was over. The lawyers of the Chamber
were too much for him, and only thirty-eight of his
men returned to Parliament on the 12th of Novem-



120 FORTY YEARS OF PARIS

ber, 1889, six days after the Exhibition closed. In
April of the following year — 1890 — the Boulangists
made what was termed a tentative de regonflement, at
the municipal elections, but they were again badly
beaten.

Just previously to these city elections, Prince
Louis Philippe Robert Due d'Orl^ans, son of the
Comte de Paris, came over to France from England,
for the purpose of being enrolled as an army conscript.
The Prince, who had been banished from his country,
was promptly arrested in Paris on the 7th of
February, 1890. The Republicans did not want a
new Boulanger, and saw quickly through the princely
game. The Duke was not only arrested, tried,
convicted, and sent to a provincial prison, after a
term in the Conciergerie, where Queen Marie
Antoinette, her husband and children had been long
before him, but he was covered with ridicule by the
Republican Press. His followers, the young Royalists,
were hooted everywhere, and it was Rochefort, I
think, who coined for him the nickname of " Gamelba."
This curious compound was founded on the word
'' game lie " and the name " Melba." In an address
intended for French conscripts the Due d'OrMans had
said that he wanted to share the contents of their sts send him



FORTY YEARS OF PARIS 131

Of his successors I cannot say much. Lord
Dufferin, I know, went out to dinner a good deal, and
was to be met at many houses. He was more of the
grand seigneur than his predecessor, and impressed the
French accordingly. But he was not a favourite, or,
to use that ugly word, "popular," as was Lord Lytton,
who pleased the French as a man of letters and the
friend of artists and authors. Lord Dufferin, more-
over, was in Paris at a time when the entente
cordiale with England was not even dreamt of. The
English were decidedly unpopular in Paris, and the
Russian fever was at its height. During those
troubled days the ambassador was a good deal away,
and as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports he spent
months at Walmer Castle and also on his Irish estate
at Clandeboye. In his later time in Paris he consoled
himself by re-studying the Greek poets and dramatists.
Paris may be a fine ambassadorial post, but I always
had the impression that men like Lord Lytton and
Lord Dufferin were comparatively dwarfed there.
Lord Lytton, as I have said, was welcome as a man
of letters and an artist, but the official and commercial
Republicans did not care much about these claims to
consideration. Nor were they much moved by his
prestige as one who had been Viceroy of India. As
to Lord Dufferin, the official Republicans did not seem
to care about his history and his prestige at all. A
few articles appeared about him in the newspapers
just before, and soon after, he took up his post at the

their books, which he has not time to read. He was, in fact,
just in the position of a Paris correspondent, and in reading
these letters one can hardly refrain from thinking what a
splendid Paris Correspondent he would have been.



132 FORTY YEARS OF PARIS

Embassy, but they were not friendly in tone. Before
Tsar Nicholas came to Paris in October, 1896, Lord
Dufferin retired from the Embassy. It was currently
reported at the time that the English Ambassador was
coolly treated in the matter of invitations to the official
functions being organised for the Tsar and Tsaritsa'^
coming to the French capital. After Lord Dufferin
had gone some of the Frenchmen began to write
against him. They accused him of being full of
morgue, and laid to his door the more capital crime
of being unable to speak good French. This was
supposed to be a most terrible indictment, against a
diplomatist especially. The French, who, with some
exceptions, attain practical knowledge of foreign
tongues only by enormous difficulty, are inexorable
towards the man who fails to speak their own language
with fluency and accuracy. Bismarck used to say that
he always mistrusted a person who, not being a
Frenchman born, spoke the French language correctly.
The French themselves have no suspicions of this
sort, and gladly welcome as a friend any one who can
converse with them on equal terms as regards
grammar and pronunciation.

After the departure of Lord Dufferin from Paris,
less attention than ever was paid to the Embassy
by the French. The coming of Sir Edmund
Monson in 1896 almost passed unnoticed. He had
none of the prestige of his predecessors, and the
journalists and pamphleteers had no necessity to consult
biographical dictionaries about him. During his long
tenure of office in Paris I was only near Sir Edmund
Monson twice. Once was when he went to
Brest to distribute the Drummond Castle medals



FORTY YEARS OF PARIS 133

in April, 1897. That was intended to be a minor
event, but the French, and especially the journalists,
magnified it into a considerable function. I went
down to Brest on a Saturday, and on the followino-
Monday found that the ambassador was represented
by Sir, then Mr., Martin Le Marchant Gosselin, wjio
died recently at Lisbon, for the first day of the pre-
sentation of medals. By the kindness of the French
Maritime Prefect, or Port Admiral, I was enabled to
go out to Ushant with Mr. Gosselin on board the
torpedo-destroyer the " Epervier." Mr., now Sir,
Henry Austin Lee, was of the party, also Captain
Paget, R.N., as well as the English Consul and Vice-
Consul at Brest, and Mr. Mirrilies, the son-in-law of
Sir Donald Currie, owner of the Drummond Castle.
As we passed over the place where that liner went
down. Admiral Barrera, the Maritime Prefect of Brest,
had a salute of guns fired, and some prayers were also
recited by a petty officer. I afterwards heard that
Admiral Barrera was attacked in some of the Re-
publican papers for the prayers, and that certain mem-
bers of the Government also made him feel the error
of his ways. The admiral was one of those whom the
Republicans were wont to call " sons of archbishops."
These were officers who had obtained promotion in
the navy through, as was supposed, clerical and
Conservative influence. The admiral did not long
survive the attacks on him. He died a few years
after the presentation of medals, and he was one of
those departed Frenchmen whose deaths I sincerely
regretted.

During that trip to Ushant I saw and conversed with
many French naval men, from admirals to lieutenants



134 FORTY YEARS OF PARIS

and petty officers. These I afterwards met on shore,
and found them most genial and courteous. There was
just one exception — a Heutenant who seemed to scowl
at the pressmen, but I subsequently learned that he
had a great quarrel with a journalist over some matter
of a naval sort, and that he could not bear the " fourth
estate " people after that.

The medals having been distributed at Ushant, and
other places, by Mr. Gosselin, Sir Edmund Monson
came to Brest on the following day. There he gave
medals to local rescuers, visited the graves of persons
who had been drowned in the Drummond Castle,
and whose bodies were recovered by the fisher folk of
the islands, and attended a banquet given by Admiral
and Madame Barrera at the Naval Prefecture.

I next saw Sir Edmund Monson at the service in
the German church, Rue Blanche, on the occasion of
the death of the Empress Frederick. His successor,
Sir Francis Bertie, I have never seen.

As to the Americans, I was a good deal at their
Legation, afterwards an Embassy, in the time of Mr.
Levi Morton. He was one of the most estimable
of the representatives of the United States, and was
liked by everybody. The French and the Americans
have always been friendly, and they were especially so
in the days of Mr. Morton, and also of General
Horace Porter, who retired a few years since. Mr.
Levi Morton, being a wealthy man, with an interesting
wife, was a great entertainer, and had around his
hospitable board everybody. Royalist and Republican,
who was of note in Paris. His dinners were famous,
and he was sincerely regretted by many when he left
the Legation. In those days I knew all the officials



FORTY YEARS OF PARIS 135

of the U.S. Legation, notably the excellent M.
Vignaux, who wrote a remarkable volume a few years
since on Christopher Columbus, and whose experience
of Paris beats that of any living diplomatist. He has
been for years an indispensable man at the U.S.
Embassy, as he was at the Legation. Mr. Levi
Morton, who was a banker, was succeeded by a
newspaper proprietor, Mr. Whitelaw Reid, who owns
the New York Tribune. Mrs. Emily Crawford was
then his Paris Correspondent, but she seemed to have
got into some disfavour when the Whitelaw Reids
were in residence not far from where she lived on the
Boulevard de Courcelles, near the Pare Monceau. Of
late years she has been replaced as Correspondent
of the Tribune, Horace Greely's old paper, by Mr.
Inman Barnard, one of the m.ost notable members
of the American colony in Paris. When I first met
Mr. Barnard he was connected with the New York
Herald. I was for a long time under the impression
that he was nothing more than the well-paid private
secretary of the " Commodore," Mr. James Gordon
Bennett. He was, in fact, putjorward as that, and
that only, by some of the Herald men who prided
themselves on being journalists. As a matter of fact,
however, Mr. Barnard has had a remarkable career.
He is one of those men of highly interesting ante-
cedents and capabilities whom the " Commodore "
manages to attract to the great American newspaper
from time to time. Mr. Barnard, who is a Boston
man, and a Law Graduate of Harvard, was Chief of
the Staff to the Khedive of Egypt from December,
1875, to January, 1879, and acted also in Egypt as
War Correspondent for the Herald and other news-



136 FORTY YEARS OF PARIS

papers, both American and English. He held other
offices during his sojourn in Egypt, and received
the Khedive's gold medal at the battle of Tel-el-
Kebir.

Of the later American diplomatic representatives,
who came after the proprietor of the New York
Tribune, I can say little, but these reminiscences lead
me to the subject of the colonies of English-speaking
residents of Paris.

The members of these two colonies often meet on
some mutual ground, but they are as different from each
other as the poles. The upper grade of the British
colony is more restricted, more select, and more
aristocratic than that of the Americans. It is re-



Online LibraryWalter F LonerganForty years of Paris → online text (page 8 of 25)