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Title: Vie de Bohème - A Patch of Romantic Paris
Author: Williams, Orlo
Language: English
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VIE DE BOHÈME

[Illustration: La Cydalise.]



VIE DE BOHÈME
A PATCH OF ROMANTIC PARIS

BY ORLO
WILLIAMS

[Illustration: colophon, ARTI et VERITATI]

RICHARD G. BADGER
THE GORHAM PRESS BOSTON

_First Published 1913_

PRINTED AT
THE BALLANTYNE PRESS
LONDON

TO
MY WIFE



CONTENTS


CHAP.                                                               PAGE

I. LA VRAIE BOHÈME                                                     1

II. A FRINGE OF HISTORY                                               21

III. LE MAL DU SIÈCLE                                                 35

IV. PARISIAN SOCIETY                                                  65

V. LES VIVEURS                                                        87

VI. LA BOHÈME ROMANTIQUE                                             109

VII. THE SECOND "CÉNACLE"                                            126

VIII. LA BOHÈME GALANTE                                              158

IX. SCHAUNARD AND COMPANY                                            194

X. MURGER AND HIS FRIENDS                                            219

XI. AMUSEMENTS OF BOHEMIA                                            252

XII. THE PARIS OF BOHEMIA                                            282

INDEX                                                                303



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

                                                                _To face
                                                                    page_

LA CYDALISE. _By Camille Rogier_                           _Frontispiece_

THE SPIRIT OF ROMANTICISM                                             44
(From the cover of a Romantic periodical)

BOUSINGOTS. _By Frances Trollope_                                     56
(From "Paris and the Parisians in 1835")

LES CHAMPS ELYSÉES. _By Eugène Lami_                                  67

A VIVEUR. _By Gavarni_                                                78

FASHIONABLES. _By Gavarni_                                            86

PÉTRUS BOREL. _By Louis Boulanger_                                   138
(After an etching by Célestus Nanteuil)

CÉLESTIN NANTEUIL. _By Himself_                                      142

A FESTIVITY IN THE IMPASSE DU DOYENNÉ                                168
(From "Les Confessions" by Arsène Houssaye)

GÉRARD DE NERVAL                                                     190

A GRISETTE. _By Gavarni_                                             216

A BAL MASQUÉ AT THE OPÉRA. _By Eugène Lami_                          274

THE GALOP INFERNAL. _By Gavarni_                                     276

A GUINGETTE                                                          278

THE RUE ST.-DENIS                                                    294

THE RUE DE LA TIXANDERIE. _By Méryon_                                295

THE RUE PIROUETTE. _By Méryon_                                       297



I

LA VRAIE BOHÈME

     _La Bohème, c'est le stage de la vie artistique; c'est la préface
     de l'Académie, de l'Hôtel-Dieu ou de la Morgue._

     MURGER: "Scènes de la Vie de Bohème."


If there is one reason for which the growth of newspapers during the
last century may be looked at askance, it is the journalist's
persistency in perpetuating phrases. Phrases and catchwords at the
moment of invention are works of a peculiar genius, of which some men
have an abnormal share, though it may crop out suddenly in the most
unlikely places; but a good catchword, that crystallization of a drop of
some elusive current that is momentarily passing through public opinion,
that apt naming of some newly formed group of men or ideas, never comes
out of an inkpot: it is essentially, as the French finely recognize, a
_mot_, a pearl of speech. It darts out in some happy moment of human
intercourse, often almost unconsciously, when the words on a man's lips
are less than usual rebellious to the expression of his thoughts, or
when the exhilaration of some public utterance has charged the air so
that the little telling point, hitherto cold and dormant, flashes
suddenly into incandescence. Such a phrase, born on the lips of one, can
only be nurtured on the lips of many: its success implies continued
utterance. It becomes a heaven-sent convenience to save human
circumlocution, a new topic for the dullards, a new toy for the
_blasés_. In these communicative days, indeed, journalism increases a
thousand-fold the possibilities of its radiation, but a good catchword
has always made its way without the help of print. There has never
existed a human society, at any developed stage of civilization, that
has not been perfectly capable of hitting off a new idea or a new group
in some telling phrase or name without the intervention of a scribe. At
the same time, conversational man, left to himself, is no less quick to
forget than to invent. A new phrase properly fades as soon as the
novelty of that which inspired it, but once it has appeared upon a
single written page it has been given an artificial life of varying but
incalculable duration. This artificial existence has been infinitely
increased by the newspaper. The journalist, who has little time to
think, is naturally loth to let a convenient label go, so that, long
after its original parcel of ideas or beings has passed away, he will
keep tagging it on to other parcels with a certain show of relevance
which effectually conceals the fact that it ought long ago to have been
filed for the etymological dictionary.

A phrase which has thus lingered artificially in common use is the word
"Bohemian." Nobody can deny that it is a useful label, simply because it
is so vague, conveying as it does the sense of some deliberate
divergence from the usages of polite society, without being in the least
embarrassingly clear as to the degree or direction of that divergence.
It is a term, so apparently specific, so really loose, equally capable
of carrying blame and admiration, which people will go on applying to
men and women, their lives and their clothes, without inquiring whether
there is in fact any answering reality. It would be easy enough to
confuse its simple users by a few question. They might be asked, for
instance, what a Bohemian is, when they would probably reply, in the
slipshod phraseology of to-day, that he is an odd person who wears funny
clothes and does quaint things. But then, it might be pointed out, a
docker from Limehouse is equally odd and quaint from their point of
view, though they do not call him a Bohemian; on which they will rather
pettishly explain that they mean artists and musicians and so on, people
who don't "work." To help them out on this point, in fine, they mean
people who potentially rank with the members of learned professions, but
who choose to live a less respectable life, in which paying calls,
dressing for dinner, and attending to the dictates of social morality
are considered of small importance, though the exact degree of social
unorthodoxy is left as undefined as the qualifying degree of artistic
performance. The same lady will comprehend in the term the middle-aged
civil servant who haunts studios of an evening, wears pale tweeds, but
is otherwise a pearl of inartistic chivalry, and the scaramouch of a
painter, whom she calls "charming" because he is clever, and whose
absorption in art has entirely ruined him as a social being. I propose
another question. Why are Bohemians so called? The answer seems
easy--because they live in Bohemia. And Bohemia? Again the label
produces a difficulty. To pursue any geographical inquiries concerning
Bohemia in a Socratic spirit would quickly produce exasperation in any
catechumen, and I will presume the result without the method. The
answers would generally amount to this: that it seems agreed, simply
since the word is used, that there is a Bohemia, but its latitude and
longitude are indefinable. It is not confined to Chelsea or St. John's
Wood, or even, of course, to England; apparently it transcends the
ordinary differences of nationality, existing always and everywhere. The
possibility of its having existed once and somewhere--I give away freely
at this early stage the foundation of this book--never occurs, for
labels have a tremendous potency of suggestion. Bohemia is commonly
assumed to exist now in the midst of this commercial day. It is
generally accepted--with more or less warmth according to individual
tastes--as an institution not, perhaps, entirely desirable for itself,
but a necessary patch in the motley dress of civilization. It is
proclaimed gleefully or admitted under constraint, as the case may be,
that clever, artistic men and women, wisely or perversely, choose to
gather there, and that certain epithets, such as quaint, amusing,
unconventional--the ethical implications of the adjectives differing
with their user--are applicable to it. But _la vie de Bohème_, once so
vivid a reality, has now no tangible substance: it wanders about, the
palest ghost of a legend, formless and indistinct. The young may look
forward to it and the old pretend to look back on it, but young and old,
in either case, are turning their mind's eye upon a mere abstraction.
The word "Bohemian" has become as conventional as "gentleman," with less
content for all its greater glamour.

The glamour of Bohemia, too, is projected from a paradox. On the
assumption that it exists, those who wish to live in Bohemia idealize
it; those who have lived in it boast of it; and those who might have
lived in it, but did not, pretend that they did. Yet those who wish to
live in it know nothing of it, and those who lived in it, for all their
boasting, have left it. It seems to take shape, like a mirage, only in
prospect or retrospect. There are witnesses to the distant glint of its
magic towers in the rosy mists of sunrise or the golden haze of sunset,
but of the light and shade within its streets there are none, for those
who might be supposed to be passing through its gates are strangely
reticent, and seem mysteriously to lose the sense of their glorious
nationality. A man may say with a thrill, "I will be a Bohemian," or
with a glow, "I was a Bohemian," but of him who said, "I am a Bohemian,"
the only proper view would be one of deepest suspicion. He would
certainly be a masquerader.

Yet many people, at least in England, do so masquerade--people who
affect Chelsea, slouch hats, and ill-cut garments, who haunt Soho
restaurants, talk and smoke cigarettes in half a dozen studios, toady
sham genius, flutter in emancipatory "movements," and generally do
nothing on quite enough a year. Not long ago a distinguished artist,
genially inspired by dinner at a club of Bohemian traditions and most
respectable membership, gave utterance to the view that, though the
velvet coat had disappeared before evening dress, the Bohemian still
existed. Upon that a writer in an evening paper made the wise comment:

     "There are people, it is true, who indulge in mild
     unconventionality; they feed in Soho, and talk of cabarets. But
     these people are seldom artists and never Bohemian. The
     unconventionality of these people is a mere outward pose, which
     compels any artist who wishes to preserve his individuality and
     good name to pay careful attention to the external forms.
     Bohemianism, such as it was, sprang up in Paris, and that is
     sufficiently good reason for its failure in England."

The journalist has here risen above the temptation of the label, and his
words are just. The gist of the matter lies, perhaps, in his last
sentence, but that point must wait its turn. There is no doubt that
there exists in London, not to speak of other cities, a large body of
people of varying ages, occupations, beliefs, and principles who keep up
a masquerade of Bohemianism. As a body they are worthy citizens enough,
whose intelligence on some subjects is above the average, but they are
masqueraders none the less if they wish to pass as _enfants de Bohème_.
A reason for this masquerade may be found partly in the very human love
of "dressing up" which is never to be discouraged, partly in the
glorification of Bohemia in which writers of novels and reminiscences
are prone to indulge. Probably George du Maurier's "Trilby" has been
responsible for more misconceptions on this matter than any other single
book, on account of its very charm, a charm that needs no further praise
at this date. The author himself, who wrote about that which he knew,
made no extravagant claims to have drawn Bohemia in the early part of
"Trilby," but it is that which in the eyes of most of his readers he is
unavoidably represented as doing. So far as Taffy, the Laird, and Little
Billie are concerned, they are simply transplanted Britons of the
Victorian era, art students with means enough to pursue their studies
without pot-boiling and to keep open house for a collection of other
joyous young people, of whom Svengali was alone the complete Bohemian,
while Trilby herself with perfect propriety mended their socks. Trilby's
part in this studio life is a sentimental idyll which nobody would wish
to destroy, but it is none the less true, in spite of her creator's plea
for her _quia multum amavit_ in a delightful page of circumlocution,
that he has effectually distilled out of her any essence of Bohemianism
which she is dimly represented as possessing. George du Maurier knew
Paris when Bohemia was no more, but even he must have known the rougher,
wilder, less comfortable side of the Quartier Latin. Yet that he glossed
it over is perfectly comprehensible. Even those who lived to write about
the Bohemia that once was could not help tinging their memories with the
romantic yearning of middle age. In a life where hardship and happiness
kaleidoscopically alternate, pain--especially in the shape of material
want or the sense of unjust neglect--obscures in the moment of struggle
the more brightly coloured glasses of health and joy which more often
than not surround it. In retrospect, by a merciful dispensation, the
sombre lines almost entirely disappear, only to be recalled by an
unnatural effort of memory. What stood out in retrospect, in the special
case of _la vie de Bohème_, was the happiness of youth that would never
return, its _insouciance_, its untrammelled companionships, the poetry
of its first love, its gaiety and irresponsible humour, its courage, its
ready makeshifts in adversity. The ex-Bohemian had, what the Bohemian
had not, a contrast by which to measure his regrets--the cares of
domesticity, the wearisome demands of society upon its members, the
responsibilities and cares of an assured position, howsoever humble, the
dulling of pleasure's edge, joints stiffening, hair bleaching. The snows
of yesteryear were falling upon others now; and that the young rogues
might not be too uplifted, he must write his _militavi non sine gloria_,
hinting the while that the special glory of Bohemia paled at the precise
moment of his exodus. George du Maurier poured over "Trilby" some of
this romantic recollection, and other less gifted novelists have done
the same for certain _coteries_ that have lived in London. To them is
due much of the glamour still implied in the phrase "Bohemian," a
glamour which is seldom corrected by a reading of George Gissing's "New
Grub Street." Yet no conception of Bohemia into which the sombre details
of that book will not naturally fit can possibly approach the truth.

This last sentence, I am aware, may be used to challenge my acquaintance
with the truth since I assume its existence. To any such challenge the
whole of this book is an answer, and its reader will at the end, it is
hoped, be in possession of at least as much truth as its author, if not
the little more which criticism supplies. In the case of a subject so
little complicated an elaborate initial summary of aims and processes
and steps of proof will be unnecessary. Those who wish to do so will
have little difficulty in following a study, which provided no little
entertainment to the student, of the life that was truly to be called
Bohemian. I have been so far concerned to hint that I do not deal in any
heterogeneous parcels which have come to pass under an old label. The
label was applied at a particular time to a particular parcel, and the
one and only original parcel is the _vie de Bohème_ which in this book I
attempt to unwrap.

It might be supposed from the commonness of allusions to Bohemia and
Bohemianism that the terms were contemporary, at least, with the
intrusion of artists and men of letters into society, and that before
the existence of the Bohemia whose capital is Prague the name of some
other nation was, in the same way, taken in vain. However, this is not
the case. The _grœculus esuriens_ to whom the Roman poet so
scornfully refers had no doubt many Bohemian qualities, but the emphasis
of the taunt is laid on his foreign nationality, not upon his mode of
existence. Even after the Bohemia of the atlas came into being it knew
for many centuries no usurper of its name. Will Shakespeare, Ben Jonson,
and the merry company of the "Mermaid" tavern neither called themselves
nor were called Bohemians. Samuel Johnson, Goldsmith, and the other less
distinguished inhabitants of Grub Street suffered many verbal
indignities, but not that. Coleridge and Charles Lamb might be alluded
to as Bohemians now, but in their day the term had even yet not been
invented. Murger's preface to "Scènes de la Vie de Bohème" proves that
so late as 1846 a universal understanding of his title could not be
taken for granted, since he begins by carefully distinguishing the
geographical Bohemia from the artistic. The modern sense of the term
originated, in fact, in Paris at the time of the Romantic movement,
being only an extension of the meaning of "gipsy" or "vagabond" long
attached to the word _bohémien_ in France. Our "Bohemian" was introduced
into the English language by Thackeray, who learnt it during his
student-period in Paris.

This piece of etymology, nugatory as it may appear, is, in fact, very
important. It is the first real delimitation of our inquiry. _La vie de
Bohème_ is essentially a French term, and it is therefore fitting that
we should examine its implications in that language. Murger in his
preface is contradictory, but his very contradiction is pregnant and
valuable. At the outset he applies the term _bohémien_ to the literary
and artistic vagabonds of all ages. "La Bohème dont il s'agit dans ce
livre n'est point une race née aujourd'hui, elle a existé de tous temps
et partout, et peut revendiquer d'illustres origines." Homer, he says,
was the first Bohemian of Greek antiquity, and his tradition was carried
on by the medieval minstrels and troubadours; Pierre Gringoire and
François Villon, Clément Marot and Mathurin Regnier, Molière and
Shakespeare, Rousseau and D'Alembert were the leading citizens of their
contemporary Bohemias. This brings Murger to his own day, of which he
says: "Aujourd'hui comme autrefois, tout homme qui entre dans les arts,
sans autre moyen d'existence que l'art lui-même, sera forcé de passer
par les sentiers de la Bohème." If Chelsea were here to make a
triumphant interruption, it would have spoken too soon, for he proceeds
to give the definition which serves as an epigraph to this chapter, and,
without a word of warning, contradicts what he has said before in the
sentence: "Nous ajouterons que la Bohème n'existe et n'est possible qu'à
Paris." This is a highly serious matter. It leaves old Homer nothing but
a Greek poet, and Chelsea--well--little more than Chelsea. However, I
cannot imagine Homer objecting, and Chelsea must forgive me, if I accept
Murger's statement in the strictest possible way. Further, the Paris
implied is the Paris of Murger's own day. That this was so may appear
more clearly in the sequel, but for the present it must suffice to say
that the Paris of the Romantic period, which gave birth to Bohemia, was
unlike the Paris of earlier days in many respects, and no Romantic had
any conception of the cosmopolitan Paris of to-day. _La vie de Bohème_,
far from being a vague label, was a phrase packed with intimate meaning,
meaning which at the time was not at all so fully manifest as under
criticism and comparison it may now appear. It depended for its peculiar
qualities upon the social and material conditions of Louis Philippe's
Paris, which have long since passed away.

We go, therefore, beyond Murger and strike out Villon, Gringoire, and
Marot from the roll of Bohemia. At most they were only potentially
enrolled and lived, like Socrates, in a state of unconscious grace.
Whether or no Bohemia can be said to exist to-day or to have existed in
the Middle Ages, at least it can only be by analogy from the very
definite and localized _Bohème_ which was part of Paris between 1830 and
1848. Though Louis Philippe, the _bourgeois_ king, the admirer of the
_juste milieu_, was her ruler, the life of Paris never beat with a
quicker pulse than in those days; never was she more gay, more witty,
more intellectually scintillating, more paradoxical, in fact more
absolutely Parisian than when Victor Hugo, Sainte-Beuve, Alfred de
Musset, the Princess Belgiojoso, Théophile Gautier, Gérard de Nerval,
Nestor Roqueplan, and Baudelaire were among her citizens, when Roger de
Beauvoir was dazzling upon a truly brilliant boulevard, when the dandies
gracefully lounged and quizzed upon the steps of Tortoni's, when
Alexandre Dumas gave his famous fancy-dress ball which drew all Paris,
when Marie Dorval shone beside Mademoiselle Mars, when Fanny Elssler and
Taglioni danced while Duprez and Grisi and Rubini sang, when Gavarni and
Daumier drew their caricatures, when Musard conducted his furious
quadrilles, when there were still _salons_ in which men and women still
knew how to talk, when life was still an artistic achievement in an
artistic setting. Memoirs and reminiscences abound of this enchanted
city in the time when her intense inner light had not paled before the
glare of commercialism and cosmopolitanism, but such sketches and
side-views must yield to the all-comprehending picture contained in the
works of Balzac, that magnificent magician. Through him the Paris of
Louis Philippe shines doubly brilliant, for its world of flesh and blood
was not more wonderful than the fictitious world with which he peopled
it, a world of high and low, rich and poor, squalor and splendour, vice
and virtue, wit and stupidity--miraculous issue from one poor mortal
brain. The Princesse de Cadignan, Madame D'Espard, Madame Firmiani, and
Mademoiselle des Touches were its higher, Coralie, Esther, Jenny Cadine,
Florine, and Madame Schontz its lower, divinities, and their worshippers
were de Marsay, the engaging Lucien de Rubempré, the remarkable
Rastignac, Maxime de Trailles, La Palférine, and all the corrupted crew
of Crevels, Malifats, and Camusots; in it the greasy, dirty Maison
Vauquer contrasted with the splendid boudoir of a Delphine de Nucingen,
the illuminated poverty of a D'Arthez with the vicious luxury of the
Nathans and Finots, the huge _coups_ of a Nucingen with the petty usury
of a Père Samanon, the simplicity of a Cousin Pons with the malignity
of a Cousine Bette. Into this world of feverish movement and poignant
contrasts fits _la Bohème_, lighted by its double facets of fact and
fiction. As the actual Bohemians from Pétrus Borel and Théophile Gautier
to Baudelaire and Murger play their part in the world of fact, so the
fictitious Bohemians from Raphael de Valentin and D'Arthez down to
Rodolphe, Marcel, and Schaunard play theirs in the world of fiction.
They are all part of that pageant which, though it took eighteen years
to pass and declined in bravery towards its close, may conveniently be
called the pageant of 1830.

To disentangle the Bohemian contingent from its accompaniment of press
and bustle is my aim in this book, which was suggested, I may frankly
say, by some meditations on a second reading of Murger's "Scènes de la
Vie de Bohème," a work of perennial delight that deserves a better
acquaintance in England. In spite of the vivid light thrown by Murger on
the life which he is describing, his stories are apt to be misleading
unless read in the light of certain knowledge--knowledge which he could
presume in his contemporaries and which it is the aim of this book, with
all humility, to revive. Murger's little volume, after it has produced
its first flush of pleasure and amusement, raises many disconcerting
questions to a thoughtful reader. The scene it paints, for instance, is
remarkably different from the two sides of literary life depicted in
Balzac's "Illusions Perdues." Neither the brotherhood of the Rue des
Quatre Vents nor the fast set into which Lousteau introduces Lucien are
connected by an obvious link with Rodolphe and his friends. Then there
is the question whether Rastignac in his days at the squalid Maison
Vauquer was in any sense a Bohemian. Or, again, it may be asked how far
fiction agrees with fact. Did Murger himself lead the same kind of life
as a Schaunard or Marcel, and if he did, was the same to be said of
other writers and artists, of Théophile Gautier or Gérard de Nerval? How
did Bohemia arise, and how far was it, as Murger asserts, a necessary
stage in the artistic life? These are some of the obvious inquiries to
which it has been my part to attempt an answer, and I would crave the
reader's indulgence if, at the outset, I seem to shrink from plunging at
once into _la vie de Bohème_. The external details of a way of life
cannot be seen in a true light if the social conditions and, still more,
the state of mind of which it was an expression are not first made
clear. For that reason a little "fringe of history" makes its appearance
and leads to a short consideration of what French writers have called
_le mal romantique_. Nevertheless, I have tried to keep the main subject
always in view, and not to be led away into discussing aspects of the
Romantic period which are not relevant. This is not, I claim with all
deference, a concoction of all the old legends and Romantic love
affairs. George Sand, for instance, and Alfred de Musset only poke
their heads in; Alfred de Vigny and Marie Dorval, Sainte-Beuve and
Madame Hugo play no part. Bohemia alone is our concern, a theme which is
displayed for what it is worth without any distracting embroideries.

If, then--to return to the train of thought with which I began--Bohemia
turns out to be something definite, with a beginning, a development, and
an end, some negative criteria, at all events, will be supplied by which
to judge the applicability of the label "Bohemian" to any set of
conditions existing to-day, and to decide whether the disappearance of
certain special implications and unique circumstances does not drain the
term of all definite meaning except as applied, in retrospect, to the
very persons, manners, and ideas which it originally described. By
analogy from that meaning, there is no harm in saying that there have
always been, and always will be, Bohemian individuals with a Bohemian
state of mind. Richard Steele was a Bohemian; Lamb, perhaps, was a
little too staidly settled at the India House, but his friends, George
Dyer, George Burnett and, above all, Coleridge, were certainly Bohemian
individuals. They were of that ultra-Bohemian type which never grows out
of its Bohemianism, men who remain permanently in what should only be a
"stage" till they pass the age when, as Nestor Roqueplan said, the
"bohémien" risks being confounded with the "filou." Such men as
Coleridge and Dyer would be called eccentrics even in the true Bohemia;
like poor Gérard de Nerval, they were not entirely sane, and the
Bohemian _type_ had essentially perfect sanity. It is for this very
reason that _la Bohème_, at its proper time, could exist, and why before
and after that time it did not exist. Sane young men, no matter what
their fads, fancies, and enthusiasms may be, have no need and no
possibility of making to-day that particular demonstration which
resulted in Bohemia. The social forces drive them in other directions.
It has long been admitted in France that Bohemia is dead, and that it
has been or ever will be revived in England is a delusion resting upon
the unintelligent use of a word. Even young Englishmen, as we now
consider youth, are too old, far too old, to live the life of which they
flatter themselves they are preserving the tradition. The boy who has
submitted to discipline for over a dozen years, learned to honour his
neighbour on the cricket and football field and to respect society as
embodied in the unwritten laws of school life--what has he in common
with the youth in France, a bachelor of letters at eighteen, bursting
with his own individuality, passionate in pursuit of his own ideas,
revelling in his new liberty, dreaming, as only a Frenchman can dream,
of glory and love, who could attach no meaning to such a phrase as
"playing the game," wayward, capricious, uproarious, and completely
unbalanced? Yet it was such who made the traditions of _la vie de
Bohème_. To those who are impelled to break away and lead joyous,
untrammelled young lives of privation and artistic striving all sympathy
is due, but by masquerading under a tattered banner they do not revive
its glory nor increase their own. Paris once had room for Bohemia, but
London never. Chelsea and Soho, Highgate and St. John's Wood are to-day
no more Bohemian, in the true sense of the word, than Piccadilly or
Grosvenor Square. In the lapse of years a few accidental attributes of
the real Bohemia have come to be regarded as the essentials of the
false. We are fond of labels and catchwords, lightly casting away their
implications. So it has come to pass that Bohemia--that dirty, hungry,
lazy, noisy vale of youthful laughter and tears, so enchanting in
prospect or retrospect, so uncompromising in actuality, which many had
to pass through and most would have avoided--is looked on as the
pleasant home of more or less artistic natures, that men of stable
occupations, regular means, and fastidious temperaments may choose for a
dwelling-place, just as they may choose a garden city.

Well, let them masquerade, yet Bohemia is dead, and more honour may be
done to its memory by recalling how it walked and lived than by casting
lots for its old-fashioned garments. Its virtues and its faults were
balanced as equally as its good and bad fortunes, but if it were to be
revived, the resurrection should begin with that which was its chief
glory, the intense artistic enthusiasm that was its charter. "Nous
étions ivres du beau," wrote Théophile Gautier. London, indeed, would be
the better for the infusion of a more Dionysiac spirit into her æsthetic
appreciations and ideals. But that is not of the times. At the end of
his charming book, "Les Enfants Perdus du Romantisme," M. Henri
Lardanchet quotes a speech made by the president of some university
society to the effect that the youth of to-day, preoccupied with
extremely definite problems, has no longer the poetic enthusiasm of the
past generation, whereon he is moved to exclaim:

     "Ah! ne vous glorifiez pas de l'avoir chassé, cet enthousiasme! Il
     était à la fois la rose et la chanson au bord de vos vingt ans
     désolés; il était l'opulence orgueilleuse de votre âge, il était
     votre grâce, votre génie, votre fierté, ô jeunesse!--toute votre
     jeunesse...."

Let us take this for the epitaph of _La Bohème_.



II

A FRINGE OF HISTORY: THE REVOLUTION OF 1830


In the first chapter of Murger's "Scènes de la Vie de Bohème," Marcel,
the painter, requires his _concierge_, in return for a tip of five
francs, to tell him every morning the day of the week, the date, the
quarter of the moon, the state of the weather, and the form of
government under which they are living. A hasty generalization from this
episode might conclude that the more noteworthy vicissitudes of society,
which we call history, were of singularly small importance to those
concerned with Bohemia. The main current of events, it would seem,
rolled on, leaving the stagnant backwater undisturbed, where, in the
easy garment of "art for art's sake," a few geniuses and many
_dilettanti_ lolled the day through in unpatriotic apathy. Such a
conclusion from Murger's picture of Bohemia is, in fact, inevitable, but
it is a wrong one, and the fault lies only with Murger. The French
people, at any rate the Parisians, are extremely susceptible to the
impressions of passing events, political, artistic, or social. They are
more excitable, as we say, than ourselves. We only become agitated in
response to orders from Fleet Street, whereas they are apt to ferment
spontaneously, their natural liveliness of mind acting as the yeast. It
is this quality of interest in passing events, fostered by their
fondness for discussion, which renders their criticism so trenchant and
their partisanship so ardent. So that we can scarcely believe Bohemia,
eclectic as it was, to have been unmoved or, at least, uninfluenced by
the objects of contemporary comment or debate. For this reason our
picture would be seen in a false light without some reference to
history. Moreover, I have been rash enough to impose upon myself the
limitation of dates, which are dangerous things in themselves, always
requiring justification. I put the classic period of _la vie de Bohème_
between 1830 and 1848, the exact period of Louis Philippe's reign. At
first sight the reign of this _bourgeois_ prince would seem to have
little enough connexion with the florescence and decadence of the very
antitype of _bourgeoisie_, but this is only a further reason for not
neglecting history. The Revolution of 1830 was of the highest importance
for France: it was the inevitable explosion of dissatisfaction, both
political and artistic, with the powers that ruled. What I wish to make
clear is that, whereas before this date Bohemia, if it existed, was but
an unconsidered fringe on the ancient student life of the Quartier
Latin, after 1830 it not only received a population but became a force.
For a few years it was an integral part of the larger Paris, a
considerable element in public opinion and, to some extent, in social
life, a factor that could not be ignored. Disturbance, however, yielded
to peace, and the interests of the public shifted. The living spirit of
Bohemia gradually hardened into a dead tradition. By 1848 independence
and individual liberty, the watchwords of Bohemia, were replaced in the
mind of citizens by thoughts of social reform which culminated in the
Republic of 1848. Art, for the time, fell from her place of glory, and
Bohemia relapsed for ever into obscurity.

The battle of Waterloo seemed to have undone all the good of the
Revolution of 1789. The Bourbons came back to power, with Louis XVIII, a
lazy man, on the throne, and his brother, the Comte d'Artois, leading a
band of ultra-Royalists behind him. The ultra-Royalists, exasperated by
the "hundred days," were breathing fire and slaughter, full of zeal to
destroy the liberty and philosophy of the Revolution and to replace it
with absolutism and priest-rule. Against them was arrayed the party of
"Independents" with Béranger, their poet, and between the two were the
"doctrinaires" or moderate Royalists. The "Ultras," whose violence began
by damaging their own cause, were put into power by the assassination of
the Duc de Berry in 1820, and Villèle was their minister. The succession
of Charles X only strengthened the forces of reaction, till in 1828
Villèle was defeated and gave place to a Liberal, Martignac. But
Martignac's party were not strong enough to support him long, and in
1829 he was succeeded by Polignac and a Royalist ministry. The Liberals
now prepared for stubborn resistance. Societies were formed, with
branches throughout the provinces, which were joined by all shades of
Liberal opinion, and their hero was Lafayette. The blindness of Charles
X precipitated events. Exasperated by the adverse result of the
elections of 1830, he suspended the constitution by his famous
ordinances on July 26. Paris rose at once, and four days later all was
over. Louis of Orleans was in Paris by the 30th, and took the oath as
King in August. This is only a bald statement of facts, but they are
facts that can be seen by the eye of imagination. By 1830 Paris was a
boiling cauldron of passionate enthusiasm. Revolution was aflame once
more. Barricades--the mere word is a trumpet-call to Frenchmen--had been
erected once more in the streets, and once more blood had flowed in
their defence. Paris for years had smouldered with indignation, and now
her young men glowed with triumph. The people should come to its own
again, and they should be its champions. The eyes of France were on
them, and they knew that their comrades in the provinces, intoxicated by
the songs of Béranger, enraged by the petty vexations of Royalist
officials, were envying them their opportunity and eagerly looking for
any chance that would bring them to the city that so nobly stood for
liberty.

The Revolution of 1830 was not only political, it was also artistic, and
the artistic results were really the more permanent. This artistic
revolution is generally known as the Romantic movement, about which so
much has been written that I need not refer to it at length. Just as the
Liberal spirit smouldered for many years against the Royalist
oppression, so the Romantic spirit smouldered against the restraints of
the dead classic tradition of the eighteenth century. The process of
combustion, beginning as it did with Rousseau, was a slow one, and, as
it has been said, Romanticism only potentially existed, as a movement,
before 1820. In that year Victor Hugo founded his journal, the
_Conservateur Littéraire_, gathering round him a brilliant company of
writers. For ten years the movement grew in intensity, fostered by the
institution of _cénacles_ and the only too successful proselytism of
Victor Hugo, who disdained no recruit whom he could by flattery enlist.
It is not too much to say that the youth of all France was fired by the
revolt against classicism in poetry and drama. Every schoolboy wrote
verses and every ardent soul longed to enter the very arena in Paris,
where the _perruques_ of the Institute were so signally defied. Paris
became doubly desirable as the field on which political and artistic
liberty were being won. The triumph came in 1830 with the performance of
"Hernani." That victory of the Romantic army is now a commonplace, but
in 1830 it was magnificently new, and it was, moreover, the public
manifestation of _la Bohème_. The effect of this double excitement was
overwhelming. It literally tore the more intelligent among the young men
of France from the roots of all their attachments and interests. To
establish liberty, to revolutionize literature, these were their dreams,
in comparison with which all ordinary professional prospects seemed
dreary and unworthy. So the year 1830 saw Paris harbouring in her
garrets a host of enthusiasts, most of them very young, burning with
ideals and flushed with apparently glorious victories. They felt
themselves incorporated in one great brotherhood of defiance to
established authority, so that those who mocked their poverty and
lawlessness in the name "Bohemian" were unconsciously justified, for a
corporate name is the sign of a corporate existence. _La Bohème_ in 1830
was not a haphazard collection of _dilettanti_ and artistic eccentrics;
it was a fellowship inspired by similar enthusiasms and bound together
by the struggle against similar misfortunes.

Misfortunes, indeed, were not slow to come. Society is wonderfully quick
to repair the breaches in its walls made by gallant assaulters, and the
heroes who have been foremost in the attack find that their bravely made
passage has closed behind them, and that they are left to be broken and
starved into submission. So it was after 1830. Louis Philippe was at
heart a Royalist who had little understanding of the Revolution. His
great achievement was to keep on his throne for eighteen years by
encouraging the moneyed middle class, thus laying the foundation of
French industrial prosperity. _Enrichissez-vous_ was the order of the
day, an order ironically unsuitable to the reformers of Bohemia. Those
among them whose ideals were political rather than literary became
uncompromising Republicans, formed secret societies, carried on a
violent Press campaign of articles and caricatures against Louis
Philippe and his ministers, and plotted further armed risings in Paris,
the most serious of which was the ill-fated insurrection of the Cloître
Saint-Merri in 1832. They were to find that they had presumed too far
upon their strength. In spite of the Legitimist risings in La Vendée,
labour troubles at Lyons, and disaffection in Paris, Louis Philippe's
government was powerful enough to meet all emergencies. Press laws were
made doubly stringent, secret societies were prohibited, caricatures
were exposed to a censorship, and the police was exceedingly vigilant.
Above all, the _bourgeoisie_ held firm. They were tasting prosperity and
power, and had no desire to let political disturbance interfere with
their enjoyment. Happy were those who could repent of youthful political
excesses and return to comfortable homes and settled careers. Those who
had no refuge but Bohemia came to know the chill of disappointment and
repression. Their bright dreams faded away into grey reality; they found
themselves suspects and outcasts, with the problem of subsistence,
instead of being miraculously solved, only rendered more acute. They had
no outlet for their energies, and those whom neither the barricades nor
the cholera of 1832 carried off saw the fellowship of assault followed
by the isolation of retreat. They drifted away in little bands to join
the societies of social reformers like Saint Simon, Fourier, or Père
Enfantin. Consumption, starvation, and suicide were the ends of many of
them, and their traces gradually faded from Bohemia, which became
identified purely with the lives of its literary and artistic
inhabitants.

The poets and artists of Bohemia survived longer, not only as
individuals, but as a united brotherhood, mainly because artistic
rebellion cannot be put down, as it does not manifest itself, by force,
and also because the campaign in which "Hernani" was the central
engagement really culminated in a lasting victory. For some years after
1830 there was plenty for the young band to do in reducing block-houses
and chasing the persistent critics of the old school, who conducted a
most robust guerilla warfare. Yet hardship and misfortune dogged their
footsteps also. The Romantic victory of 1830 was won by an army; its
spoils were shared by the few leaders--Victor Hugo, Sainte-Beuve, de
Vigny--who, as M. Henri Lardanchet has rather unkindly said,[1] "without
a word of farewell or a motion of gratitude abandoned their army to
famine." To tell the truth, many of the devoted enthusiasts were young
men of mediocre talents at a day when the standard was very high. Verses
were a drug in the market, and he was a lucky man who could earn a few
francs by filling a column or two in a little fashion paper boasting a
few hundred subscribers. Journalism was not yet a commercially
flourishing business, expenses were high, subscribers few, and Press
laws menacing. The starveling poets and dramatists of Bohemia fell upon
lean years, in which the weaker and more utterly destitute were
destroyed by their privations, like Elisa Mercœur and Hégésippe
Moreau. Nevertheless, the Romantics were not crushed out of existence.
The stout hearts of those who held out still beat to a common measure,
and maintained artistic fellowship in an ideal as an essential element
of _la vie de Bohème_.

Bohemia was glorious for a few years after 1830 as it has never been
since because it proclaimed a creed, the creed of Romanticism. It was
glorious then because, with Romanticism, Bohemia was a living force.
Given this connexion, there was some point in the bravado, the
extravagances and conceits of Bohemian life. They were an irregular
army, those young men, and they rejoiced in their irregularity. _Épater
le bourgeois_ was a legitimate war-cry when the _bourgeois_ stood for
all that was reactionary in art. To scare the grocer with a slouch hat
and a medieval oath was not only a youthful ebullition, it was a
symbolic act. The sombrero defied artistic convention as typified in the
top hat; the medieval oath, in its contrast with the paler expletives of
modernity, symbolized the return to life and colour in art after a
century of grey abstraction. It was with the decline of Romanticism that
Bohemia lost its living spirit. Unlike Republicanism, that gathered
unseen strength in failure to blossom for a more worthy generation,
Romanticism lost its vitality through its very success. It may be
likened to some conflux of waters which to force from its way the inert
mass of an obstacle rises to a mighty head: the obstacle is swept away,
and the seething waters resolve themselves into a workaday river humbly
serving the sea. So the Romantic movement has served literature for many
decades now, and it was quietly flowing between the banks before Louis
Philippe lost his throne. Success, it might be said, came to it too
soon, especially as success in that day meant money. The dangers of
Republicanism were staved off for the moment by force; the dangers of
Romanticism were for ever discounted by payment. Authorship was made to
serve a commercial end, and all was over. In 1836 Emile de Girardin
founded _La Presse_, which was sold at a far lower price than any other
paper. The inevitable followed. Circulation went up by leaps and bounds,
contributors were paid respectable prices, expenses were defrayed by the
profits of advertisement, and journalism in France was at once on a
commercial footing, for other papers were not slow to follow.
Literature, from being purely an art, quickly became a trade. The
struggle for a new artistic ideal gave way to the struggle for loaves
and fishes, which is contemporary with mankind. A man's artistic creed
went for nothing, when all the public asked was that he should make
himself conspicuous before they gave him their countenance. Once
artistic success became a matter of royalties it was an easy prey to
_bourgeois_ conditions, which were that art and literature should either
be merely entertaining or point a respectable moral. Only a few
Romantics were proof against this insidious influence. To those
recalcitrants we owe the motto "Art for art's sake."

The effect of this change upon Bohemia is not difficult to imagine. _La
vie de Bohème_ implies youth, so that its generations change as rapidly
as those of a university. The generation of 1830 had either disappeared
or become famous--that is, potentially rich--in a few years. The
struggle which had convulsed all Paris was a thing of the past, and
Romanticism was so far accepted, swallowed, and digested that by 1843
the necessity was felt for reverting to the classical tradition again,
for a change, with the so-called _école de bon sens_. There was no
longer any trumpet-call to which Bohemia could respond as a brotherhood,
as Victor Hugo learned when, on wishing to enlist a fresh army to go
into battle for "Les Burgraves," he was told "il n'y a plus de jeunes
gens." The swaggering heroes of 1830 were now writers of successful
novels and comedies, or safely chained, as critics, to the careers of
remunerative journals. Rebellion was impossible, for there was nothing
to rebel against. Success depended more upon individual enterprise than
common enthusiasm. There was nothing left, therefore, for the new
generations of Bohemia but to fall back upon tradition. If there was no
more certainty in ideals there was at least something definite in slouch
hats and medieval oaths, in defying conventions of dress and accepted
table manners. So the symbols of Romanticism became the realities of
Bohemia after all that they symbolized was as lifeless as a cancelled
bank-note. Further, the population of Bohemia lost that great asset in
life, personal pride. Their predecessors of 1830 were arrogant, no
doubt, but with the arrogance of an advance-guard in a desperate
venture. There was no desperate venture now toward, and advance meant,
not progress, but prosperity. The poorer brethren of art who peopled
Bohemia were now, inasmuch as they were not prosperous, failures. They
had no sense of intellectual achievement to keep up their courage, when
such achievement was measured in gold. It was inevitable that their
_moral_ should be affected; the recklessness, which was formerly that of
bravado, became that of despair, and a less reputable atmosphere grew
up round Bohemia which has never been dispelled from its tradition.

Nevertheless, dead as the spirit was, the tradition of 1830 remained
very strong, being kept alive not only by oral transmission, as all
traditions are, but also by the art of the sturdy few who remained
faithful to the uncompromising standard of disinterestedness in art
which it implied. Gautier, Flaubert, Baudelaire, the de Goncourts, and a
few others stood out unflinchingly against commercialism on the one hand
and prosy doctrinairism on the other. Their struggle was not wholly
effectual, but, so far as Bohemia is concerned, was important. After
1848, when everything had to have a social "purpose" and art for its own
sake seemed dead, they sat down, like the Psalmist, by the rivers of
Babylon and remembered Zion. From their regrets the legend of _la sainte
Bohème_ arose idealized and purified, and it was made immortal in pages
of prose by Gautier and in de Banville's "Ballade de ses regrets pour
l'an 1830." This legend, tinged as it already was with sentiment, spread
to the public, by whom it was resentimentalized, a fact of which other
authors, Murger included, were not slow to take advantage.

     "Ils savaient tirer parti des ressemblances réelles entre la vie de
     Bohème et la vie de l'étudiant bourgeois au 'Pays latin' pour
     établir une confusion avantageuse, confusion qui est déjà manifeste
     dans les 'Scènes de la Vie de Bohème.' Chanter ainsi la Bohème
     c'était un peu chanter la jeunesse bourgeoise."[2]

If this be true, then Bohemia after 1848, when the public interest was
purely absorbed in Socialistic reforms, lapsed once more into being a
mere fringe on the student life, and, as such, equally negligible. Its
classic days were over, never to return, for the society of Paris grew
too large to be again convulsed by a purely artistic conflict. The
leaders of the new _Parnasse_ made a considerable sensation, but they
founded, not a new Bohemia, but only another _cénacle_. History
establishes the florescence and decline of the classic _vie de Bohème_
beyond much doubt, for it went with the florescence and decline of a
common spirit.



III

LE MAL DU SIÈCLE


I have identified the classic period of Bohemia with the time of the
Romantic victory. It was not then lighted by dim lanterns hung outside
the door of every artistic idiosyncrasy, but reflected flamboyantly a
general state of mind. I disclaim once for all the intention of adding
another to the many studies of the Romantic movement, but in my aim of
explaining the living reality out of which grew the tradition of _la vie
de Bohème_ I am compelled to dwell upon the turgid mental content of the
early nineteenth century. The eccentricities of Bohemia were then but
slight exaggerations of a universal spiritual ferment, though, after the
good wine was made, a later and decadent Bohemia artificially reproduced
the symptoms of a process that was formerly natural and necessary. _Le
mal romantique_, _le mal du siècle_, are common phrases upon the lips of
French critics, who to-day affect to treat with contempt what was, after
all, a new Renaissance. Without adopting their attitude, it must be
admitted that, inestimable as were its results, it was an alarming
convulsion. The English took it in a milder and earlier form. Its most
extreme manifestation, Byron and the "Satanic" school, was a thing of
the past before 1830. But the French were thoroughly and virulently
affected, and exhibited all the most violent symptoms.

We may best begin, perhaps, by looking at a particular "subject," to use
a medical phrase, in the correspondence of J.-J. Ampère, son of the
great scientist. The younger Ampère, after a violent adoration of Madame
Récamier, who was old enough to be his mother, settled down into a most
respectable and successful man of letters, and he was never in any sense
a Bohemian. He was a well-educated and perfectly normal man, so that the
ravages of _le mal du siècle_ may be well judged when he writes to his
friend, Jules Bastide, in 1820:

     "My dear Jules, last week the feeling of malediction was upon me,
     round me, within me. I owe this to Lord Byron; I read through twice
     at a sitting the English 'Manfred.' Never, never in my life has
     anything I have read overwhelmed me as that did; it has made me
     ill. On Sunday I went to see the sunset upon the Place de
     l'Esplanade; it was as threatening as the fires of hell. I went
     into the church, where the faithful were peacefully chanting the
     Hallelujah of the Resurrection. Leaning against a column, I looked
     at them with disdain and envy."

Two months later Jules Bastide delivered his soul in a similar strain:

     "I feel that the slightest emotions might send me mad or kill me.
     The evening of our parting I opened at random a volume of Madame
     de Staël and read the dream of Jean Paul. When I came to that
     terrible line, 'Christ, nous n'avons point de père,' a shudder
     seized me. An hour later I had a fever; it lasted a fortnight."

Another friend wrote to Ampère in 1824:

     "All my ideas turn towards Africa.... Is it solitude that I seek in
     Africa? Yes, but it is not only that; it is the desert, the
     palm-tree, the musk-rose, the Arab! A romanesque and _barbaresque_
     future is what ravishes me."

In 1825 Ampère, then twenty-five years old, wrote to Madame Récamier:

     "Return, for my life is no longer tolerable without you; my spirit
     is wholly employed in trying to _support_ the emptiness of my
     days."

In these delirious passages are contained the most marked symptoms of
the time, the satanic gloom that drew its inspiration from Byron, the
nervous sensibility imitated from the heroes of Madame de Staël,
Châteaubriand, and Sénancour, and the longing for a life of Oriental
colour which found a later expression in Victor Hugo's poems. However,
it would be unfair to put down this spiritual _bouleversement_ to the
influence of "René," "Obermann," "Werther's Leiden," or "Manfred." They
became, indeed, the breviaries of the afflicted, but the cause of the
affliction lay deeper in the reaction of the French nation after the
Napoleonic wars. Napoleon's victorious campaigns drained France of its
best blood and its best energies, leaving an inheritance of anæmia and
neurasthenia to the next generation, without diminishing that feverish
desire for glory, that determination to work one's will upon a passive
world, which was the spirit of Napoleon's armies. Older and more settled
people were content to reap the rewards of peace, but the young men,
exalted by the exploits of their fathers, looked in vain for some
channel in which to discharge their superfluous electricity. Under the
restored Bourbons there was none. The fathers had had free play upon
historic battlefields, the sons were cribbed and confined in the narrow
bounds of everyday life. Moreover, the revolutionary wars had revealed
vast, unexplored pastures to the French mind. New countries, languages,
and literatures were brought into its view. The gorgeous East, in
particular, seized upon the French imagination. The desert was vast and
untrodden, the Arab was dignified and free, and under unclouded skies
the primitive nobility of mankind revealed itself in splendour and
space.

Here, then, is the root of _le mal du siècle_ from which the divers
symptoms sprang. Of these, perhaps, the most marked and most general was
an exaggerated sensibility, a kind of melancholy madness. Young Henri
Dubois, who at any other epoch would have been content to learn his
trade behind the counter of Dubois and Dupont, cloth merchants, and to
settle down into a peaceful home with Mademoiselle Dupont, now plied
the yard measure with disgust and yearned for an existence more worthy
of his "complicated state of mind." He was a perfect magazine of pent-up
emotions, ready to expire in a delirium of joy or an ecstasy of despair
after the manner of René and Werther. He was quite willing to love
Mademoiselle Dupont on the condition that she would lend herself to a
tempestuous passion, allow her hands to be bathed in tears for hours
together by her prostrate cavalier, receive folios of hysterical ravings
by the post, and dread the fatal dagger if she had smiled from her desk
at a customer. She was urged daily to fly to a brighter destiny upon
distant shores, and nightly trembled that the coming morning would find
Henri transfixed by his own poniard. It was impossible to be reasonable;
only a clod, dead to all beauty, could be so brutal. M. Louis Maigron,
who in his book, "Le Romantisme et les Mœurs," gives some very
remarkable instances of these aberrations in actual correspondence, says
very truly: "Une foule de 'cratères' ont alors superbement fumé au nez
des bourgeois." The Romantic ideal supposed a sensibility always
stretched to its utmost, _des âmes excessives_, as M. Bourget says,[3]
capable of constant renewal, and a consumption of emotional energy which
is irreconcilable with the laws of any organism. If a young man failed
for a moment to find food for melancholy broodings in the shortcomings
of society, he could always fall back for a good groan upon his own
insufficiencies of sensibility. Now, of course, the "feelings of
malediction" which afflicted the Henri Dubois are of small moment in
themselves. Time comfortably settled them down. It was the young men of
real sensibility and imagination, the coming poets and artists, in whom
the ravages of _le mal du siècle_ were more than a passing phase. The
boundless yearnings that found expression in such lines as these:

    _Amour, enthousiasme, étude, poésie!_
    _C'est là qu'en votre extase, océan d'ambroisie_
      _Se noîraient nos âmes de feu!_
    _C'est là que je saurais, fort d'un génie étrange,_
    _Dans la création d'un bonheur sans mélange_
      _Être plus artiste que Dieu_[4]--

could not but lead to a profound dissatisfaction with existence, which
Maxime du Camp in his reminiscences very happily describes:

     "It was not only a fashion [he says], as might be believed; it was
     a kind of general prostration which made our hearts sad, darkened
     our thoughts, and caused us to see a deliverance in the glimpse of
     death. You would have thought that life held in chains souls that
     had caught sight of something superior to terrestrial existence. We
     did not aspire to the felicities of paradise: we dreamed of taking
     possession of the infinite, and we were tortured by a vague
     pantheism of which the formula was never found.... The artistic and
     literary generation which preceded me and that to which I belonged
     had a youth of lamentable sadness, sadness without cause and
     without object, abstract sadness, inherent in the individual or in
     the period....

     "Nobody was allowed to be without an _âme incomprise_; it was the
     custom and we conformed to it. We were 'fatal' and 'accursed';
     without even having tasted life, we tumbled to the bottom of the
     abyss of disillusionment. Children of eighteen years, repeating
     phrases gathered from some novel or other, would say: 'J'ai le
     cœur usé comme l'escalier d'une fille de joie,' and one of
     Pétrus Borel's heroes went to the executioner to say to him: 'I
     should like you to guillotine me!' This did not prevent us from
     laughing, singing, or committing the honest follies of youth; that
     was also a way of being desperate; we imagined that we had a
     satanic laugh, while we really possessed the fair joy of spring."

These exquisite sensibilities, when they were not turned back upon
themselves in black despair, roamed far and wide in search of new
sensations upon which to exercise themselves. This _exotisme_, as the
French have called it, is another of the most marked symptoms of
Romanticism. The time was ripe for its satisfaction. The French mind,
shut for so long in the formalism of the eighteenth century, now found
that there were innumerable new ways to _rêver la rêve de la vie_. The
men of learning who followed in Napoleon's wake renewed the interest in
archæology by their discoveries; the historical novels of Scott and the
history of Michelet revealed the full and generous life of earlier ages;
the forged poems of Ossian caused a perfect rage for Celtic mysticism;
and the bold lawless life of the East, with its tyrannous Ali Pashas and
its Greek patriots, shone out with a new splendour. An unsatisfied
longing for another age and another clime animated every young breast.
Societies even were formed in provincial towns in which subscriptions
were pooled, and the winner of the lucky number drew the money to take a
voyage in Italy. The glories of Greece and the grandeurs of Rome, as
savouring of the classical, appealed only to a few; other eclectics fed
upon German mysticism and the fantastic weirdness of Hoffmann's
supernatural tales. A far greater number became Celts in imagination;
dressed in the dignity of outlawry and the garb of an Irish bard or a
Scotch chieftain, they defied the haughty English. Maxime du Camp, for
instance, wrote a poem in his school-days called "Wistibrock
l'Irlandais." "When I am depressed," he says in his reminiscences, "I
read it again, and there is no vexation that resists it." Anybody who
wishes to gain some idea of the _genre frénétique_, as Nodier called it,
in its Celtic dress will derive considerable entertainment from Pétrus
Borel's "Madame Putiphar." It is full of murders and intrigues and
tirades which foam at the mouth. The hero, Patrick FitzWhyte, falls in
love with Deborah Cockermouth, daughter of Lord and Lady Cockermouth,
the opening dialogue of whom upon the battlements is magnificent. My
lord, who is described as "one of those gigantic fungous and spongy
zoophytes indigenous to Great Britain," permits himself to address my
lady as "Saint-hearted milk soup!" After a good deal of clandestine
philandering and interminable translations of imaginary Irish ballads
the young couple elope to Paris, where Madame Putiphar (Madame de
Pompadour) seduces the heroine, and the hero after a series of dreadful
adventures is imprisoned in a loathsome dungeon in the Bastille, the
taking of which by the people of Paris is described with quite
astonishing force.

[Illustration: The Spirit of Romanticism]

Wild adventures, horrors and tragedies in any age were fondly dwelt upon
in comparison with the insupportable monotony of contemporary life; but
the Middle Ages made a stronger appeal than any. There was a perfect
mania for medievalism. Nothing pleased overwrought imaginations more
than to picture existence amid all the riot and magnificence of those
more spacious days. How they would have rattled a sword and clanked a
spur, how defiantly tilted their plume, how breathlessly loved and how
destructively fought! Why did they not live in the joyous time when
every minute brought an adventure instead of spilling one more drop from
the cup of _ennui_, and when a man shaped his own ends according to his
passions, throwing a curse to the poor and a madrigal to the fair? Then,
all their life was not grey. Splendour of colour with ample grace of
form decked out existence like a picture by Veronese. Costly satin vied
with magnificent brocade; all was a riot of velvet and purple dyes, fur
and old lace; drinking cups, worthy of giants, chiselled by a Cellini,
offered wine worthy of the gods; swords were masterpieces of the finest
Toledo; jewelled harness caparisoned fleet Arab horses; feasts were
Gargantuan, jests more than Rabelaisian; and all this wonderful wealth
of glittering colour was thrown into magnificent relief against the
solemnity of antique battlements and the sombre shadows of Gothic
architecture. This, apart from all innovations of dramatic form, was the
secret of the delirious popularity of "Hernani," "Lucrèce Borgia," "Le
Roi s'amuse," and the "Tour de Nesle," and of the craze for historical
novels, verses in baroque metres, slouch hats _à la Buridan_, velvet
pourpoints, daggers, mysterious draperies and massive chests, drinking
cups made out of skulls, and illuminated breviaries of which Gautier
makes such fun in "Les Jeunes France." To it we owe Balzac's splendid
"Contes Drolatiques," Lassailly's "Roueries de Trialph," and Roger de
Beauvoir's "L'Écolier de Cluny." Gautier in his early poems was as
romanesque as any of his "Jeune France," as those who know his early
poems must admit. "Débauche" is a frank orgy, and "Albertus" is a gem of
the Gothic, with its supernatural setting, the "fatality" of its hero,
the horror of its _dénouement_, the wild fantasy of its witches'
chamber, and its amorous wealth of descriptive detail in which old
fabrics, old furniture, swords, daggers, and hangings abound. Victor
Hugo, above all, was the chosen bard of the Gothic and the romanesque.
Besides his dramas, his "Odes et Ballades" were in the mouth of every
child who could pay four halfpence for an hour's luxury in the _cabinet
de lecture_; and schoolboys would declaim for hours in antiphon such
passages as the invocation of "La Bande Noire":

    _O murs! ô créneaux! ô tourelles!_
    _Remparts! fossés aux ponts mouvants!_
    _Lourds faisceaux de colonnes frêles!_
    _Fiers châteaux! modestes couvents!_
    _Cloîtres poudreux, salles antiques,_
    _Où gémissaient les saints cantiques,_
    _Où riaient les rires joyeux!_
    _Églises où priaient nos mères,_
    _Tours où combattaient nos aïeux!_

or the frenzied descriptions of the witches' dance in "La Ronde du
Sabbat," or lines from "La Chasse du Burgrave"--which even Hugo called
"un peu trop Gothique de forme"--or with a

    _Çà, qu'on selle,_
    _Ecuyer,_
    _Mon fidèle_
    _Destrier._
    _Mon cœur ploie_
    _Sous la joie_
    _Quand je broie_
    _L'étrier_

proclaimed their attendance at the "Pas d'Armes du Roi Jean."

The star of the Gothic and the medieval was indeed high in the heavens,
but it paled before the full sun of Araby and the East. Napoleon had
dreamed of a Mohammedan empire, and before his dream could fade Navarino
and Missolonghi fired men's minds again. Victor Hugo was also the
champion of Oriental rhapsody. Even in 1824 he had seen the
possibilities of Oriental colour in French verse, when he wrote "La Fée
et la Péri," a poem in which the Peri, who stands for romanticism, says:

    _J'ai de vastes cités qu'en tous lieux on admire,_
    _Lahore aux champs fleuris, Golconde, Cachemire,_
    _La guerrière Damas, la royale Ispahan,_
    _Bagdad que ses remparts couvrent comme une armure,_
      _Alep dont l'immense murmure_
    _Semble au pâtre lointain le bruit d'un océan._

His collection of poems entitled "Les Orientales" was published in 1829
and took Paris by storm, provoking passionate enthusiasm and equally
passionate protest. In the preface he asserts that Orientalism is a
general preoccupation. "The colours of the East have come, as if
spontaneously, to impress themselves upon all his [the poet's] thoughts
and all his musings; his musings and his thoughts have become, in turn,
and almost without his willing it, Hebrew, Turkish, Greek, Persian,
Arabic, even Spanish, for Spain, too, is the East." There are fine poems
in "Les Orientales"--"Les Djinns," for instance, will always be
famous--but it is impossible to read the volume through to-day without
considerable amusement, so very full-blooded are they. There are lofty
apostrophes to Byron and the Greeks, followed by dreadful tales of
Turkish cruelty, gruesome ballads like "La Voile," in which four
brothers kill their sister, epigraphs like "O horror! horror! horror!"
valiant Klephtes, houris, scimitars, and all the catalogue which the
poet himself gives in "Novembre":

                      _Sultans et sultanes,_
    _Pyramides, palmiers, galères capitanes,_
    _Et le tigre vorace et le chameau frugal;_
    _Djinns au vol furieux, danses des bayadères,_
    _L'Arabe qui se penche au cou des dromadaires,_
    _Et la fauve girafe au galop inégale._
    _Alors éléphants blancs chargés de femmes brunes,_
    _Cités aux dômes d'or où les mois sont des lunes,_
    _Imams de Mahomet, mages, prêtres de Bel ..._

Then, as if Victor Hugo did not whip the passions enough, Alfred de
Musset lent a hand in the hurly-burly with his "Contes d'Espagne et
d'Italie," which made the young maniacs frantically demand:

    _Avez-vous vu dans Barcelone_
    _Une Andalouse au sein bruni?_
    _Pâle comme un beau soir d'automne!_
    _C'est ma maîtresse, ma lionne!_
    _La marquesa d'Amaëgui._

Delacroix, too, was sending the critics into ecstasies of rage with his
vivid Eastern scenes and the horrors of his "Massacre of Scio." The
ideas of the young men with inflamed sensibilities seethed in turbulent
disorder. To be in the movement they had to have at least a poniard and
a narghile, a medieval cloak and an Oriental divan. Those with money to
spare decorated their rooms like sombre Gothic manors, those with no
money enriched their conversations with a wealth of medieval diction. No
make-believe was too ridiculous to shut out the actual place and time in
which they lived. Balzac's novel "La Peau de Chagrin," which has won a
celebrity far beyond its merits, is most unmistakably marked with the
frenzies of 1830. His revelling in the supernatural, the massed effects
of careful detail in the description of the curiosity shop where the
wild-ass skin hangs, the wild riot of the orgy, the terrific excesses in
which Valentin ruins his life, the duel and the horrible end, are just
as much the _genre frénétique_ as anything by Pétrus Borel. The hero,
Valentin, is simply a type of his time, and his tirade on taking the
supernatural skin is hardly an exaggeration:

     "Je veux que la débauche en délire et rugissante nous emporte, dans
     son char à quatre chevaux, par delà les bornes du monde, pour nous
     verser sur des plages inconnues! Que les âmes montent dans les
     cieux ou se plongent dans la boue, je ne sais si alors elles
     s'élèvent ou s'abaissent, peu m'importe! Donc, je commande à ce
     pouvoir sinistre de me fondre toutes les joies dans une joie. Oui,
     j'ai besoin d'embrasser les plaisirs du ciel et de la terre dans
     une dernière étreinte, pour en mourir. Aussi souhaité-je et des
     priapées antiques après boire, et des chants à réveiller les morts,
     et de triples baisers, des baisers sans fin dont la clameur passe
     sur Paris comme un craquement d'incendie, y réveille les époux et
     les inspire une ardeur cuisante qui les rajeunissent tous, même les
     septuagénaires!"

As for the "orgy," it was so much a fashion that Gautier in his "Les
Jeune France" scores a delightful hit with the story of a society of
young men who combine for a colossal feast, in which various sections
follow out in exact detail the descriptions of orgies given by their
favourite novelists and the end is a farcical confusion.

Building castles in Spain is a fascinating pastime, but the ingenuities
of imagination cannot entirely shut out the individual from his
surroundings. From 1820 to 1830 the young man of France was continually
running against the sharp corners of the world and receiving the elbow
prods of his fellow-men. Exalted by his excited sensibility, he
conceived at once a contempt and a hatred for the insensibility of
society, which produced in him a feeling of moral superiority and
solitude. This abnormal vanity, shown in the deification of "l'homme
supérieur" and a proud contemplation of his social outlawry, is a third
marked symptom of _le mal du siècle_.[5] It broke out in several
different forms. One was a romantic worship of energy and strong will,
as typified by the career of Napoleon. Given these qualities, a man
could rise from the lowest depths to impose his wishes on the world.
However, self-styled supermen have invariably found their theories
rebellious to practical application, and Henri Dubois, if he started
upon a Napoleonic path, soon discovered that society selects its "homme
supérieur" when it wants him, and that uncalled-for aspirants receive
the point of its toe. He reserved his superiority, therefore, more
usually, for less material manifestations and conflicts. His rare
spirit, susceptible to all "the finer shades," stood mournfully but
prudently on high, scorning the base, unfeeling throng below it, and
calling out through space for kindred spirits to cherish. "My friend,
take care of yourself," writes young Ampère to his friend. "Obermann
cries to us, 'Keep close together, ye simple men who feel the beauty of
natural things.' Let us help one another, all of us who suffer." So
Henri Dubois and his friends suffered and helped one another, shedding
pints of tears and being just as ridiculous as they could be.

Solitary suffering makes men philosophers or poets. Philosophy requiring
some intellectual capacity and mental preparation, Henri Dubois often
took the further step from crying in the wilderness to enshrining his
laments in metre, being encouraged in this by the certain fact that
young men and true poets were indeed striking the Romantic harp to a new
and surprising tune. The poet was the real "homme supérieur" of the
time, not only in fancy but in fact. Henri accordingly proceeded another
stage towards sublimity by way of the faulty syllogism: "The poet has an
exquisite soul; I have an exquisite soul; therefore I am a poet." The
Romantics conceived the poet as a God-sent prophet. This was the
attitude, above all, of de Vigny; Lamartine and Sainte-Beuve adopted it
in their early days, and certain passages of Victor Hugo--for instance:

    _O poètes sacrés, échevelés, sublimes,_
    _Allez, et répandez vos âmes sur les cimes,_
    _Sur les sommets de neige en butte aux aquilons,_
    _Sur les déserts pieux où l'esprit se recueille,_
    _Sur les bois que l'automne emporte feuille à feuille,_
    _Sur les lacs endormis dans l'ombre des vallons!_

--show that he was not averse to it. So every youth who could rhyme
"âme" with "flamme" put on the aureole of a "poète échevelé," revelled
in the ecstasies of solitary contemplation, and sneered magnificently at
all who attended to business as soulless _épiciers_. This was a harmless
enough delusion, but it became less harmless when combined with the idea
that for the sake of experience the poet should abandon himself entirely
to his passions. The great artist, indeed, has his own morality, but
Victor Hugo's "Mazeppa" or Lamartine's stanza

    _Mais nous, pour embraser les âmes,_
    _Il faut brûler, il faut ravir_
    _Au ciel jaloux ses triples flammes:_
    _Pour tout peindre, il faut tout sentir._
    _Foyers brûlants de la lumière,_
    _Nos cœurs de la nature entière_
    _Doivent concentrer les rayons,_
    _Et l'on accuse notre vie!_
    _Mais ce flambeau qu'on nous envie_
    _S'allume au feu des passions_

were dangerous matchboxes in the hands of children. It was a fatality,
too, that several poets of some merit died during these years of want or
neglect. Gilbert, the satirist, expired in hospital, breathing piteous
plaints, and Hégésippe Moreau, the poet of "La Voulzie," was equally
unfortunate. Society can hardly be blamed for not supporting all its
lyrically inclined members, but it was natural that the "poète échevelé"
should smoulder with indignation at such disasters, and cheer the
sentiments of de Vigny's drama "Chatterton" till his lungs gave out. It
was still more of a fatality that certain other poets attained a
momentary celebrity by committing suicide, leaving rhymed farewells to a
stony-hearted society and a tedious life. To win fame by a pathetic
death in a pauper's hospital, or to bid defiance to the world with a
superb gesture of self-destruction, was a far too common ambition.
Sainte-Beuve himself observed that "la manie et la gageure de tous les
René, de tous les Chatterton de notre temps, c'était d'être grand poète
et de mourir." A perfect epidemic of suicide was due to _le mal du
siècle_, as M. Louis Maigron shows in his work that I have already
cited. Among other strange stories he gives at length the confession of
an old man who in his youth was president of a suicide club, formed in a
provincial town by a set of romantic schoolboys as late as 1846. Happily
the club was short-lived, but it resulted in the self-destruction of one
of its most gifted members. In the letter with which he announced his
coming death from Lucerne he wrote:

     " ...I have no precise reason to have done with life except the
     insurmountable disgust with which it inspires me. Chance of birth
     gave me a certain fortune; I am not denied an intelligence perhaps
     slightly above the common level; it would have been in my power to
     marry an adorable child: so many conditions of happiness, in the
     eyes of the vulgar. But my poor soul, alas, cannot content itself
     with them. Nothing can charm my heart any longer, 'mon cœur
     lassé de tout, même de l'espérance'; it will be closed, without
     ever having been opened."

He left his little library to the club, specially reserving for the
president "Werther," "René," "Obermann," "Jacques," and the works of
Rabbe. They were his breviaries, he said, covered as they were with
notes that revealed all his soul.

The pose of pathetic despair was not, however, the only one in which the
feeling of moral solitude showed itself. Another very common attitude
was that of revolt against society, an aping of Mephistopheles, the
fallen angel doomed to everlasting unhappiness, strong only in his
disillusionment and his clear vision of the canker in the heart of every
bud. The word "satanism" summed up this attitude: its breviaries were
"Manfred" and Dumas' violent tragedy, "Antony." It rejoiced in the cult
of the horrible, in Hoffmannesque dabblings in the supernatural, in
pessimistic poetry like Gautier's "Tête de Mort," and such lines in his
early sonnets as:

    _Mais toute cette joie est comme le lierre_
    _Qui d'une vieille tour, guirlande irregulière,_
    _Embrasse en les cachant les pans démantelés,_
    _Au dehors on ne voit que riante verdure,_
    _Au dedans, que poussière infecte et noire ordure,_
    _Et qu'ossements jaunis aux décombres mêlés._

Its effects, in society, were chiefly obtained by the satanic laugh.
Gautier soon grew out of his satanic mood, Dumas was never anything more
than a fine romancer, while Victor Hugo, Lamartine, and de Vigny were
too lofty poets to indulge in such artificialities; but satanism
deserves mention because it was a traditional business with one party in
the romantic Bohemia--the party of the _Bousingots_.

[Illustration: Bousingots]

The origin of the term _Bousingot_ has been a matter of dispute among
French writers. Philibert Audebrand in his memoir of Léon Gozlan says it
was invented by that brilliant journalist to satirize the young
republican enthusiasts of 1832 in the _Figaro_. Charles Asselineau in
his "Bibliographie Romantique" says that after some hilarious souls had
been arrested for singing too loudly in the streets "Nous avons fait du
bousingo"--_bousingo_ being the slang for "noise"--it became a popular
designation for the more furious Romantics. The matter seems to be
settled more or less in Asselineau's manner by a passage in the letter
written by Philothée O'Neddy to Asselineau after the publication of the
"Bibliographie Romantique" to give a more correct account of the second
_cénacle_. He asserts that there never were any self-styled
_Bousingots_, but that after the arrest of the hilarious revellers the
affair got into the newspapers and the term remained as a _bourgeois_
hit at the Romantics. The proper spelling of the word was _bouzingo_,
and Gautier exclaimed one day: "These asses of _bourgeois_ don't even
know how _bouzingo_ is spelt! To teach them a little orthography several
of us ought to publish a volume of stories which we will bravely call
'Contes du Bouzingo.'" The suggestion was thought a happy one, and the
book was even advertised as imminent, but it was never written.
Gautier's promise of a contribution was afterwards redeemed in "Le
Capitaine Fracasse," but Jules Vabre's famous treatise "Sur
l'incommodité des commodes" did not progress beyond the title. In common
parlance, however, the name remained _Bousingots_, and its general
meaning was quite clear. Just as the Gothic frenzy made the party of
_Jeune-France_, who were the Christian-Royalist section of the
Romantics, so the political agitation, combined with the feeling of
antagonism to society, made the _Bousingots_. The meaning became
subsequently enlarged to express all the extravagances of the Romantics,
their idealization of the artist and their disorderly ways; but this
extension was illegitimate. Literature and poetry were, it is true, the
preoccupation of the more prominent _Bousingots_, but their distinctive
mark was a profession of ultra-democratic views and manners. The leader
of them all was the mysterious Pétrus Borel,[6] whom I have already
mentioned as the author of "Madame Putiphar." His other chief work was a
volume of poems entitled "Rhapsodies." The young men of 1830 worshipped
him as the coming champion before whom the star of Victor Hugo was
ingloriously to wane. They were grievously disappointed. After the first
crisis of _le mal du siècle_ his inspiration faded away, and he died an
obscure officiai in Algeria. Baudelaire, in "L'Art Romantique," says of
him:

     "Without Pétrus Borel, there would have been a lacuna in
     Romanticism. In the first phase of our literary revolution the
     poet's imagination turned especially to the past.... Later on its
     melancholy took a more decided, more savage, and more earthy tone.
     A misanthropical republicanism allied itself with the new school,
     and Pétrus Borel was the most extravagant and paradoxical
     expression of the spirit of the _Bousingots_.... This spirit, both
     literary and republican, as opposed to the democratic and bourgeois
     passion which subsequently oppressed us so cruelly, was moved both
     by an aristocratic hate, without limit, without restriction,
     without pity, for kings and the bourgeoisie, and by a general
     sympathy for all that in art represented excess in colour and form,
     for all that was at once intense, pessimistic, and Byronic; it was
     dilettantism of a singular nature, only to be explained by the
     hateful circumstances in which our bored and turbulent youth was
     enclosed. If the Restoration had regularly developed in glory,
     Romanticism would have never separated from the throne; and this
     new sect, which professed an equal disdain for the moderate party
     of the political opposition, for the painting of Delaroche or the
     poetry of Delavigne, and for the king who presided over the
     development of le _juste-milieu_, would have had no reason for
     existing."

Charles Asselineau fills up the picture. The _Bousingot_, he says, was
as rough and cynical as the _Jeune-France_ was dandified and exquisite,
and showed genius in discovering at once the _plastique_ of his idea. In
contrast to the extravagant luxury affected by the medievalists, he
adopted the manners of the people in habits and dress, smoking clay
pipes and drinking the "petit bleu" of low pot-houses. Instead of raving
about cathedrals, he spent his ingenuity in devising bitter satires
against the king and his officers or fresh settings in caricature for
Louis' famous _tête de poire_. "The fusillade of St.-Merry and the laws
of September were the _Bousingot's_ Waterloo. From the moment he was
forbidden to protest in a visible manner, and was deprived of his
insignia, his waistcoat, his stick, and his pipe with a pear-shaped
bowl, the _Bousingot_ had to retire. He became serious, an economist or
a humanitarian philosopher, and showed his revolt against society and
power by writing novels 'in which the idea predominated over the form.'
The novel with a tendency, that literary monstrosity, is the only legacy
left by the _Bousingot_ to the literature of the nineteenth century."[7]

In Balzac's wonderful gallery of portraits there is a picture of a
_Bousingot_. Raoul Nathan, the author, appears frequently in his
Parisian scenes, but his outlines are only elaborated in the little-read
"Une Fille d'Eve." There was something great and fantastic in his
appearance, as if he had fought with angels or demons. He was strongly
built, with a pocked face and a tanned complexion. His long hair was
always untidy, but his eyes were Napoleonic and his mouth charming. His
clothes always looked old and worn, his cravat was askew, his long,
pointed beard untended. The grease from his hair stained his
coat-collar, and he never used a nail-brush. His movements were
grotesque, his conversation caustic and full of surprises. His talent,
great but disorderly, had shown itself in three novels and a book of
poetry: he was critic, dramatist, vaudevillist. Jealous ambition led him
to embrace politics. Beginning at the extreme of opposition, he went
from Saint Simonism to republicanism and through all the stages to
ministerialism, being rewarded by a government appointment.

     "Nathan offre un image de la jeunesse littéraire d'aujourd'hui, de
     ses fausses grandeurs et de ses misères réelles; il la représente
     avec ses beautés incorrectes et ses chutes profondes, sa vie à
     cascades bouillonnantes, à revers soudains, à triomphes inespérés.
     C'est bien l'enfant de ce siècle dévoré de jalousie ... qui veut la
     fortune sans le travail, la gloire sans le talent et le succès sans
     peine, mais qu'après bien des rébellions, bien des escarmouches,
     ses vices amènent à émarger le budget sous le bon plaisir du
     Pouvoir."

Balzac, we all know, was a little too ready to believe in the depravity
of human nature, particularly when men of letters were in question.
Moreover, he was profoundly antagonistic to the creed of the
_Bousingots_. His portrait of Nathan is distinctly ill-natured, but it
bears out the profound remark of Baudelaire, that if the Restoration had
developed in glory Romanticism would never have separated from it. In
another extravagant tirade (in "Béatrix") Balzac complains that the
Revolution of 1830 opened the flood-gates of petty ambition, and the
result of modern "equality" was that everybody did his utmost to become
conspicuous. This complaint was very largely true, but as far as the
_Bousingots_ are concerned Baudelaire puts the facts in a truer light.
The policy of _juste-milieu_ inevitably caused revolt among the
over-excited young men of the day. The _Bousingots_ were part of this
revolt, but the best of them had no thought of self-advancement. On the
contrary, the testimony of contemporaries goes to show that the saving
virtue of the Romantic Bohemia, _Bousingot_ and _Jeune-France_ alike,
was disinterestedness. Baudelaire says in extenuation of Pétrus Borel
himself: "He loved letters ferociously, and to-day we are encumbered
with pretty, supple writers ready to sell the muse for the potter's
field." Asselineau avers that if there was much of the ridiculous in
their excesses, there was nothing sordid. "They never talked of money,
or business, or position." The artist Jean Gigoux,[8] in regretting the
past, says that the _rapin_ of his later years, if better dressed, knew
less than those of his young days, and was greedy of honours and money,
things which the _rapins_ of old sincerely despised. Indeed, it is
impossible to read much about the Romantics of 1830, high or low,
aristocratic or Bohemian, without coming to the conclusion that they
were neither jealous nor mercenary. So the _Bousingots_--though some
rolled their eyes and knitted their brows "as if they would bully the
whole universe," others "fixed their dark glances on the ground in
fearful meditation," others, "gloomily leaning against a statue or
tree," threw "such terrific meaning into their looks as might be
naturally interpreted into the language of the witches in
'Macbeth'"[9]--did these things in all sincerity, with an ambition, not
to "get on," but to "do something."

We cannot, then, judge the classic _vie de Bohème_ in a true light
without taking into account this _mal du siècle_ which with its various
symptoms infected the greater part, certainly the more intelligent part,
of the younger generation. Many outlived the fever and smiled at its
remembrance; but at its height it was powerful. It was a healthy fever
in so far as it implied devotion to an ideal, _the_ ideal of true art,
which was then born again. Moreover, the ideal consumed in its fire many
pettinesses of the artistic soul, the commercialism of some, the haughty
vanity of others. Balzac's Lucien de Rubempré was not a true son of 1830
when he sold his independence to corrupt journalism, and Victor Hugo was
not only intriguing when he intoxicated young poets by flattering
letters. There was a true fellowship of art such as has not existed
since. The poet or artist whose name was in everyone's mouth did not for
that reason deny his friendship to one who had never published a line
or exhibited a picture. If a man had talent he was greeted as brother by
all his fellow-craftsmen, high or low. This common brotherhood inspired
by one ideal of art suffused and welded together Bohemia with a radiant
heat. Only when the radiance became dim did the mass grow cold and
crumble in pieces which retained but the semblance of a spark. Bohemia,
to change the metaphor, was not then a block of model dwellings, with
nothing in common but steel girders and a stone staircase, but it was a
corporation fed by common hopes and warmed at a common hearth. Its more
ridiculous defects--its vanities and morbid excitability, its violent
defiance of social convention, its passion for the exotic and the vivid,
its fits of melancholy and its uproarious rejoicings--were not
individual vices, but marks of a generation. Its grandeur and its
follies are traceable to a common source. Its greatest fault was not
extravagance, for that is a venial folly, but ignorance, which even
youth cannot wholly excuse. The seed of dissolution really lurking in
Bohemia was what Philibert Audebrand has truly called its _enfantillage
de l'esprit_.[10] In the flush of Romanticism the zealots neglected
those studies which give firmness to the mind. They rejected history and
philosophy; being young, they were not well read and they did not care
to become so. Foreign literature was a closed book to them, in spite of
their professed admiration for Dante, Goethe, Shakespeare, and Byron;
even of their own literature their knowledge was sadly defective. "Tout
bien vu," says M. Audebrand with a shake of the head, "ils n'avaient pas
d'autre docteur que la Blague." This cap will not fit all the heads, but
it has an undeniable texture of truth. When the first ebullition was
over, and the Bohemians of 1830 had departed from their joyful college
to spread its doctrines in a workaday world, they left nothing but a
tradition behind them. Their house had been built upon a light soil, and
the time had come to make new and solid foundations. But the tradition
did not include such wholesome industry, and Murger's generation, denied
the excitement and warmth of building, were content to sit down in the
hasty edifice to enjoy only the pastimes of their predecessors, stopping
up the ever-widening crevices, that let in a cold blast of public
opinion, with the unsatisfactory makeshift of _la blague_.



IV

PARISIAN SOCIETY--LE TOUT PARIS


The events of the time, the spiritual exaltation of young France, and
the _éclat_ of the Romantic struggle gave to Bohemia a definite
position. This position was accentuated by the smallness of Parisian
society. The diversity and complexity of life in a great modern city are
such that, even if all other obstacles were swept away, this alone would
still make it impossible for Bohemia to rise again. Bohemians must live
where rents are low--on the outer circumference, that is, of a city. In
the larger capitals of Europe the inner circle, which contains the
commerce and luxury, the hurry and bustle, has extended enormously in
the last fifty years or so. The increase of middle-class prosperity has
thrown far back the alleys and mean houses, to give place to
"residential" districts; the easiness of modern travel has brought vast
hotels and a constant foreign population; shops and theatres fill
immeasurably more space. Bohemia is driven to the extremities of the
spider's web, so that, in Plato's phrase, it is no longer one, but many.
It would be absurd to imagine a solid cohort formed from Hampstead,
Chelsea, and Camden Town, to say nothing of Wimbledon or Hampton Court,
for the purpose of forcing some "Hernani" upon the London public (or its
newspaper critics). Public opinion can hardly be corrected when the
agents of correction are forced to disperse in the last motor omnibus.
Moreover, this extension of the inner circle has made its inhabitants
less susceptible to sudden assaults. Unconventional demonstrations have
upon it no more effect than the poke of a finger upon an india-rubber
ball. The interests of Bohemia, even if this circle be not entirely
indifferent to them, are only a fraction of its multitudinous
preoccupations, which include the fluctuations of the money market, the
results of athletic contests in all parts of the globe, the progress of
foreign wars, the crimes and railway accidents of the week, the
development of aviation, and the safest method of crossing the street.
Bohemia can no longer be pointed to and felt by society as part of
itself, and when this is the case the name is nothing but a metaphor.

Speaking of the year 1841, Baudelaire in "L'Art Romantique" says:

     "Paris was not then what it is to-day, a hurly-burly, a Babel
     inhabited by fools and futilities, with little delicacy as to how
     they kill time. At that time _tout Paris_ was composed of that
     choice body of people who were responsible for forming the opinion
     of the others."

[Illustration: Les Champs Elysées]

The glory of Bohemia rests partly on this fact. During Louis Philippe's
reign this state of society, comparable in some respects with the
ideal polity of the Attic philosophers, was, it is true, being disrupted
from within. The balance of power between wealth of gold and fecundity
of ideas was gradually changing--a change of which Balzac is the
immortal epic poet. Yet, though the power of a Nucingen was increasing,
and Paris was about to start on its new prosperity as the
pleasure-ground of Europe, this precious _tout Paris_ lasted till the
reign was over. Paris was small, in extent, in population, in the number
of those who formed its opinion. Of its actual compactness as a city I
shall speak in a later chapter; suffice it now to say that the
boulevards of Montmartre and Montparnasse bounded it on the north and
south, that the Champs Elysées was still a wilderness, and that outside
the fortifications lay open country. The population about 1835 was only
714,000; railways were hardly beginning, factories only tentatively
being erected. The working classes were chiefly engaged in commerce or
_petits métiers_, and the heights of Ménilmontant smiled as green and as
free from slums as the Champs Elysées were free from luxurious hotels.
The passing foreign population, though there was a certain number of
English attracted by cheap living, was almost negligible. Brazilians and
Argentines, Germans and Americans were hardly to be seen; even French
provincials walked delicately instead of forming, as they do now, the
chief _clientèle_ of the Parisian theatres. _Le tout Paris_ was,
therefore, a nucleus within a circle of three segments--the middle
class, the aristocratic families, and Bohemia.

The middle class, though the most numerous, was only potentially
important at the time. Politics and money-making were its only
preoccupations. It was divided, of course, into an infinity of grades,
all of which may be illustrated from characters in Balzac's "Comédie
Humaine." There were the bankers and usurers from the Du Tillets down to
the Samanons, the successful merchants like Birotteau, the world of
officials so accurately described in "Les Employés," the judges like old
Popinot, and all the men of law from a Desroches down to his youngest
clerk. Some were as sordid and bourgeois as the Thuilliers, others
luxurious debauchees like the Camusots and Matifats, others, like the
Rabourdins, fringed upon the _beau monde_. The sons of men enriched and
decorated by Napoleon formed perhaps the cream of the middle class, and
of these Balzac has given his opinion in describing Baron Hulot's son,
who plays so large a part in "Cousine Bette":

     "M. Hulot junior was just the type of young man fashioned by the
     Revolution of 1830, with a mind engrossed by politics, respectful
     towards his hopes, suppressing them beneath a false gravity, very
     envious of reputations, uttering phrases instead of incisive
     _mots_--those diamonds of French conversation--but with plenty of
     attitude and mistaking haughtiness for dignity. These people are
     the walking coffins which contain the Frenchman of former times;
     the Frenchman gets agitated at moments and knocks against his
     English envelope; but ambition holds him back, and he consents to
     suffocate inside it. This coffin is always dressed in black cloth."

This sombre portion of the background need, therefore, trouble us no
further. It dominated politics and was ignored by _tout Paris_.

The aristocracy of the Faubourg St.-Germain is almost equally
negligible. Being legitimists, they sulked after 1830, either living on
their country estates or shutting themselves gloomily within the gaunt
walls of their _hôtels_ in the Faubourg. This retirement, too, was not
wholly due to _bouderie_, for many of them, like Balzac's Princesse de
Cadignan, suffered heavy financial losses by the Revolution. Their
self-denying ordinance caused a great diminution in the general gaiety
of Paris for some years. Legitimist drawing-rooms, where a brilliant
host of guests had been wont to gather, were hushed and dark while the
dowagers gravely discussed the latest news of the Duchesse de Berry. The
few official _fêtes_ were severely boycotted, and even the
entertainments of foreign ambassadors suffered. It was an irksome
business for the younger members, particularly the ladies of the
aristocracy, who eventually gathered courage to break out into small
entertainments, and in 1835 there was the first of a series of
legitimist balls, the subscriptions for which went to recompense those
whose civil list pensions had been suppressed in 1830. After this the
Faubourg St.-Germain became more lively, and certain houses were opened
to a wider circle of guests. Eugène Sue, for instance, till he became
impossible, was to be found in many legitimist drawing-rooms.
Nevertheless, the Faubourg St.-Germain avoided attracting the public eye
by any conspicuous festivities, and this had two effects. In the first
place, it brought the more joyous festivities of _tout Paris_ and the
riotous celebrations of Bohemia into greater relief; and, in the second,
the men of the aristocracy, like the Duc d'Aulnis, were driven to find
distraction and amusement in a gayer world into which their own
womankind was debarred from penetrating. It was they who formed a
certain section of _tout Paris_; they were the _viveurs_, the _dandies_,
the young bloods of the newly founded Jockey Club, the members of the
_petit cercle_ in the Café de Paris, who joined hands with what may be
called _la haute Bohème_.

There was, however, a certain amount of neutral ground between the
aristocracy of birth and that of wit to be found in the literary
_salons_ of the day, which, if not quite so illustrious as they had once
been, shone with a considerable amount of brilliance. Among the
legitimists these were, of course, not to be found, but the aristocracy
of Napoleon was represented by the _salons_ of the Duchesse de Duras
and the Duchesse d'Abrantès. The latter, widow of Napoleon's marshal
Junot, was a particular friend of Balzac, who was the most notable
figure to be found at her house. She was always dreadfully in debt, and
after being sold up she died in a hospital in 1838. The _salon_ of the
Princess Belgiojoso in the Rue Montparnasse attracted particular
attention because, with an aristocratic hostess, it had all the
_entrain_ of more purely artistic gatherings. Till troubles in Italy
called them back to their estates the Prince and Princess Belgiojoso
were among the gayest of the gay. The Prince with his boon companion,
Alfred de Musset, ruffled it merrily on the boulevard, while the
Princess, who had many of the most brilliant men of the day for her
lovers, filled her apartments with poets, artists, writers, and, above
all, musicians. One who frequented her drawing-room hung with black
velvet, spangled with silver stars, says she had a "fierté glaciale,
mais curiosité suraiguë." The splendour of her entertainments was royal,
and her concerts were magnificent. To this the _salons_ of Madame
Ancelot and Madame Récamier were a striking contrast. The former was
composed chiefly of serious men of letters and politicians, while at
L'Abbaye-aux-Bois Madame Récamier acted as priestess to the adoration of
the aging Châteaubriand. The _salons_ of the pure Romantics made no
pretence of splendour and were entirely free from the atmosphere of
officialdom. The chief of them were those of Madame Hugo, of Madame Gay
(who was succeeded by her daughter, Delphine de Girardin), and of
Charles Nodier, the genial librarian of the Arsenal. In all of these, as
in the _salon_ of the Princess Belgiojoso, _tout Paris_ was to be found
in force. The gatherings round Victor Hugo were a little too much
flavoured by the fumes of the censer, but those of the Girardins and of
Nodier were of the most charming gaiety. Balzac, in a humorous article,
drew a malicious sketch of the exaggerated enthusiasms of Nodier's
guests when a poem was read before them. "Cathédrale!" "Ogive!"
"Pyramide d'Egypte!" were the approved exclamations of ecstatic
approbation. Madame Ancelot[11] confesses that she found the
conversation very amusing, but very strange. "There was never a serious
word," she says, "never anything profound, sensible, or simple; every
word was meant to cause laughter, to make an effect. The more a thing
was unexpected--that is, the less it was natural--the more prodigious
was its success." She, no doubt, was prejudiced, and the fact remains
that every guest who wrote in after years of Nodier's _salon_, its merry
conversation followed inevitably by dancing, did so with most grateful
praise, for Nodier died in 1846, leaving his Romantic friends to write
regretful reminiscences. The _salon_ of Sophie Gay and her daughter was
equally infected by high spirits, but it was less purely literary.
Liszt, Thalberg, and Berlioz made music here; Roger de Beauvoir met
Lamartine, and the Marquis de Custine sat by Balzac or Alphonse Karr.
The de Vignys also had a _salon_, and Théodore de Banville speaks most
warmly of their kindly hospitality; but there was a certain aloofness
about the creator of "Eloa," and another of his guests found that in his
house colouring seemed absent, so that "the regular guests seemed to
come and go in the moonlight."[12]

To speak at greater length about the _salons_ of the Romantic period
would here be beside the mark. Bohemians, no doubt, were often to be
found at Victor Hugo's or Nodier's, but on those occasions they were
consciously straying outside their own boundaries. Neither the stately
house in the Place Royale nor the librarian's dwelling at the Arsenal
was within the domains of Bohemia, and no Bohemian of the time would
have dreamed of claiming them, as the later "Parnassiens" might have
claimed the _salons_ of Nina de Kallias and Madame Ricard, for parts of
their ordinary existence. The case, however, is different with the
relations between _le tout Paris_ and Bohemia. _Le tout Paris_ was, as I
have said, a nucleus, but a nucleus of disparate and constantly shifting
particles. This perfectly undefined body had, of course, no definite
place of assembly, but so far as it could be identified with any
particular locality it may be said to have congregated on the boulevard.
The Boulevard des Italiens--_the_ boulevard--was the chosen spot for the
saunterings of the chosen few, a fact which by itself is a proof of the
smallness and privacy of Paris compared with the present day, when this
same boulevard is flooded from morning till night by a hurrying stream
of indistinguishable humanity. In the days of Louis Philippe nobody,
except an ignorant foreigner, ventured to appear on this sacred preserve
in the afternoon without some semblance of a title. The title may have
been so small as a peculiarly elegant waistcoat, a capacity for
drinking, or a happy invention for practical jokes, or it may have been
the reputation for a ready wit and a trenchant pen; but whosoever dared
to show himself in this select society was sure to have some particular
justification for making himself conspicuous, otherwise he was certain
to be quizzed out of existence. The newcomer, if he survived a short but
swift scrutiny, entered an informal though exclusive club of which every
member was known to the others--he was known, that is, to "all Paris."
All Paris, in a sense, it truly was, not because the greatest poets and
statesmen belonged to it--for they had better things to do than to waste
so much time--but because it served as the central intelligence
department or, I might almost say, as the brain of Paris. A word uttered
there was round the town in two hours; there a poet was made or a play
damned--in the twinkling of an eye. One day of its activity furnished
all the wit of the next day's newspapers, which is hardly surprising
when so many of its members were journalists. _Le tout Paris_ was not
hide-bound in its requirements; it admitted high birth as one
qualification for membership, wealth if accompanied by good manners as
another, but a certain way to its heart was by a brilliant handling of
the pen. In spite of the exaggeration of the Parisian scenes in
"Illusions Perdues," there is no unreality in Balzac's picture of
Lucien's sudden rise from impoverished obscurity to fame and money.
Lucien, the provincial poet, after his disappointing elopement with
Madame de Bargeton, retires discomfited to a garret in the Quartier
Latin. The door of rich protectors is shut in his face, no publisher
will read his poems or accept his novels. The serpent arrives in the
shape of Lousteau, who shows him the devilish power of journalism. By a
lucky chance Lucien is asked to write a dramatic criticism for a new
paper. He succeeds brilliantly, and he has Paris at his feet. The
publisher cringes before his power and publishes all that he had
formerly rejected; with money, fine clothes, and a reputation, he can
answer stare for stare and return the impertinences of Rastignac and de
Marsay; even Madame de Bargeton in the Faubourg St.-Germain cowers from
his revengeful epigrams. So long as he remains a power in the Press he
is flattered and caressed and plumes himself, a butterfly only just
emerged, in the glittering _tout Paris_ of his day.

The moral of Lucien de Rubempré, so far as we are immediately concerned,
is not ethical, but resolves itself into the truth that there was an
open passage between Bohemia and _le tout Paris_ which was crossed by
not a few. Gautier crossed it, so did Arsène Houssaye, Ourliac, the
dramatist, and several others. There were also men who seemed to spend
their time between the two, like the elder Dumas, Roger de Beauvoir, and
Alfred de Musset, who combined the extravagance of Bohemia with the
luxury of the boulevards in different proportions, without ever being
entire Bohemians or complete _viveurs_, and who maintained such a
continuous communication between the more literary sections of _le tout
Paris_ and the finer talents of Bohemia that it would be in some cases
difficult to say where one left off and the other began. It is therefore
impossible to write of the _vie de Bohème_ without entering into this
larger and more conspicuous life of what may be called _la haute
Bohème_. Not only was it the sound-board from which in a lucky moment
the struggling whisperer on the left bank might hear his utterances
booming forth to a multitude eager for novelty, not only was it an
unofficial academy to which every Bohemian might aspire to belong as
soon as he had made his mark, but it was also, during the years
following 1830, animated by such a spirit of revelry and reckless
amusement that the riots of true Bohemia were as pale ghosts before its
more notable orgies. There were strong reasons for the merging of the
two Bohemias, and the only precise distinction was the possession or
want of money. Bohemia proper has no money except what it can make by
its art, and as its inhabitants are young that is little enough. _La
haute Bohème_, with a less strict limitation of years, makes money and
spends it recklessly. Instead of pleading youth as the excuse of its
folly, it claims the indulgence due to artistic achievement. However, so
far as the generation of 1830 were concerned, this distinction was not
absolute, for the Bohemians of 1830 were not invariably so destitute as
their successors, so that they were enabled to mix to some extent in the
gayer life of the artistic _boulevardiers_.

The most universal word--which I shall adopt--applicable to this _haute
Bohème_ is the contemporary name for them, _les viveurs_. They were a
particular product of the time, and no words of mine can describe them
better than a passage from Balzac's "Illusions Perdues." The period of
the novel is some years before 1830, but this particular description is
far more applicable to the years that followed the second Revolution. I
quote it in French, because it is impossible to do it justice in a
translation:

     "A cette époque florissait une société de jeunes gens, riches et
     pauvres, tous désœuvrés, appelés _viveurs_, et qui vivaient en
     effet avec une incroyable insouciance, intrépides mangeurs, buveurs
     plus intrépides encore. Tous bourreaux d'argent et mêlant les plus
     rudes plaisanteries à cette existence, non pas folle, mais enragée,
     ils ne reculaient devant aucune impossibilité, faisaient gloire de
     leurs méfaits, contenus néanmoins en de certaines bornes: l'esprit
     le plus original couvrait leurs escapades, il était impossible de
     ne pas les leur pardonner. Aucun fait n'accuse si hautement
     l'ilotisme auquel la Restauration avait condamné la jeunesse. Les
     jeunes gens, qui ne savaient à quoi employer leurs forces, ne les
     jetaient pas seulement dans le journalisme, dans les conspirations,
     dans la littérature et dans l'art, ils les dissipaient dans les
     plus étranges excès, tant il y'avait de sève et de luxuriantes
     puissances dans la jeune France. Travailleuse, cette belle jeunesse
     voulait le pouvoir et le plaisir; artiste, elle voulait des
     trésors; oisive, elle voulait animer ses passions; de toute manière
     elle voulait une place, et la politique ne lui en faisait nulle
     part."

[Illustration: A Viveur]

Balzac gives his own character, Rastignac, as an instance of the typical
_viveur_, but Rastignac had a purpose in his heart, while some of the
most prominent among the _viveurs_ had none but to amuse themselves.
These I name first, for, having no other preoccupations, they set the
tone of the whole society. They were chiefly members of the aristocracy
who found no place for their energies in a _bourgeois_ State which
sought no military glory. One of their leaders, the Duc d'Aulnis, who
settled down afterwards to serve the State worthily, gives in his
memoirs the reason why so many young men of good family gave themselves
up to riotous living, as he did under his _nom de plaisir_ of
Alton-Shee. He and other young legitimists resigned their commissions in
1831 on finding that Louis Philippe, _le roi des barricades_, sided with
the insurrectionists, so that, as he says, "the class of idlers was
increased by a large number of legitimists who had resigned their
commissions and by a contingent of refugees belonging to the Italian,
Polish, and Spanish aristocracies. To distract their minds from the
thoughts of so many broken careers, so many hopes disappointed, they
dashed with an irresistible rush into the pursuit of enjoyment and
sought to appease their generous aspirations in an unbridled love of
pleasure."

These were the young men who spent all their time in imitating Brummell
or the Comte d'Orsay, paying minute attention to every curve of their
voluminous frock-coats, the patterns of their waistcoats, and the
folding of their cravats; who drove and rode irreproachable horses
imported from England, and founded the French Jockey Club under the
auspices of Lord Seymour; who dined copiously at the Café de Paris and
adjourned to lounge at the Opéra in the _loge infernale_, where the
cream of Parisian dandyism paraded with its _lorgnette_ for the
edification of the public. In racing and gambling they found their
excitement; their consolation was the venal love of a ballet dancer.
For no moment of the day did they pursue a worthy ambition, and their
only excuse was that, being idle perforce, they attained a certain
exquisiteness even in pleasure. Sadly the Duc d'Aulnis sums them up:

     "Our generation had the love of liberty, passion, gaiety, an
     artistic nature, little vanity, the desire to be rather than to
     appear; then came discouragement, scepticism, the pursuit of
     amusement, the habit of smoking which fills the intervals, the
     taste for intoxication, that fugitive poetry of vulgar enjoyments,
     and every prodigality to satisfy our desires. If one considers what
     we leave behind us, our baggage is light: the folly of the
     carnival, the invention of the cancan, the generalization of the
     cigar, the acclimatization of clubs and races, will be merits of
     small value in the eyes of posterity.... Of these joyous _enfants
     du siècle_ brought by ruin to face pitiless reality, some escaped
     from their embarrassments by suicide, others found death or
     promotion in Africa, others shared their names with rich heiresses;
     others, persevering at all hazards, swallowing affronts and braving
     humiliations, lived on the precarious resources of gambling,
     borrowing, toadying, and parasitism; the most wretched of all fell
     step by step into the depths of infamy; only a very small number
     tried to save themselves by hard work."

These men set the pace among the _viveurs_: they were seconded by the
more ambitious young men of whom Balzac's Rastignac is the type, who
were determined to succeed and uttered in their hearts his famous
threat to Paris by the grave of old Goriot, "Maintenant c'est entre
nous." These men became _viveurs_, not as a pastime, but as a means.
Rastignac, shocked to see that virtuous devotion would not save Père
Goriot from a broken heart, and sick of the Maison Vauquer's squalor,
determines to play society at its own game and make profit out of its
corruption. He becomes the lover of Madame de Nucingen, one of Goriot's
ungrateful daughters, and by allowing himself to become a tool in the
crafty Baron Nucingen's third liquidation lays the foundation of his own
fortunes. Such a man could not live in seclusion--he was forced into the
ranks of the _viveurs_, in order to become a conspicuous figure. A smart
tilbury and clothes from a first-class tailor were part of his
stock-in-trade; he could not afford to run the risk of humiliation
before his lady by laying himself open to affront by a more exquisite
"dandy" than himself. A Rastignac had to shine to compass his ends, and
he shone most brilliantly as a _viveur_, playing at idleness and debauch
to cloak his subtle schemes, and drowning the shame of his parasitism in
a passionate self-indulgence. Thanks to a strong will he is entirely
successful, and out of the wreck of his illusions and his generous
impulses builds himself a career as a politician.

Rastignac is one of the most wonderful characters created by Balzac's
penetrating pessimism; that he had a special place in his creator's
heart is proved, I think, by his frequent appearance on the stage.
Those who delight in the fascinating pastime of following Balzac's
characters through the whole extent of the "Comédie Humaine" will know
that it is impossible to understand Rastignac without reading "La Maison
Nucingen," a story which, for pure virtuosity, is second to none of
Balzac's masterpieces. They will remember that the scene is set in the
year 1836 in a private room at Véry's restaurant, where the impersonal
narrator, by overhearing the conversation in the adjoining room, is
entertained by the thrilling account of how Rastignac profited by Baron
Nucingen's third fraudulent liquidation. The shady financial proceedings
of the astute Alsatian--as exciting as a dashing campaign--are related
in a marvellous series of _boutades_ by Balzac's favourite grotesque,
Bixiou, the own brother of Panurge. Now Bixiou and the three friends
with whom he is dining are Balzac's examples of the third party among
the _viveurs_, that party to which the title _la haute Bohème_ is most
peculiarly applicable. They were neither aristocratic and wealthy, like
a Duc d'Aulnis, nor aristocratic and poor, like a Rastignac, but men of
obscure origin and unusual intelligence. They joined the ranks of the
_viveurs_ neither to banish the _ennui_ of enforced idleness, nor out of
cold calculation for a diplomatic end--for they were inevitably debarred
from attaining any position in the _beau monde_--but simply as a
distraction from their pursuit of worldly success as journalists,
artists, speculators, and general exploiters of society. They were not
single-hearted warriors for an ambition; their aim in life was not
purely diversion, it was merely to obtain the maximum of selfish
enjoyments, which included a satisfied vanity, a full purse, good food,
rare wine, and a pretty mistress. Of them Barbey d'Aurévilly's remark
was true: "Qui dit journalistes dit femmes entretenues. Cela veut
souper."

They had been pure Bohemians, most of them, in their earlier youth, with
higher ideals and more restricted enjoyments; but their gorge, too, had
risen at the squalor of their Maison Vauquer, and they had parleyed with
the devil. Discovering in themselves some talent for making money, they
had exploited it to the exclusion of all others. They traded either in
their own art or in that of others. On the boulevard they held their own
by their engaging sallies of malicious gossip, by their prodigal
extravagance, and, above all, by the fear which their power as
journalists, critics, caricaturists, or newspaper proprietors inspired.
They were Bohemians at heart, carrying the more pardonable disorders of
Bohemia into less exacting circumstances, spending their gifts and their
money without a thought, luxurious, venal, insatiable. Their type is to
be found to-day in the rich mercantile, especially Jewish, society of
all large cities; but in Paris of the thirties and forties they were
more powerful and more conspicuous. Though they could never hope to
enter the Jockey Club, they were hail-fellow-well-met with the _viveurs_
of blue blood; they served the Rastignacs when it was worth their while,
and they were so near to the true Bohemia that their example was at once
its temptation and its despair. Balzac himself sums up the four friends,
Bixiou, Finot, Blondet, and Couture, in a passage which, having myself
said so much, I quote in the original:

     "C'était quatre des plus hardis cormorans éclos dans l'écume qui
     couronne les flots incessamment renouvelés de la génération
     présente; aimables garçons dont l'existence est problématique, à
     qui l'on connaît ni rentes ni domaines, et qui vivent bien. Ces
     spirituels _condottieri_ de l'industrie moderne, devenue la plus
     cruelle des guerres, laissent les inquiétudes à leurs créanciers,
     gardent les plaisirs pour eux, et n'ont de souci que de leur
     costume. D'ailleurs, braves à fumer, comme Jean Bart, leur agare
     sur un baril de poudre, peut-être pour ne pas faillir à leur rôle;
     plus moqueurs que les petits journaux, moqueurs à se moquer
     d'eux-mêmes, perspicaces et incrédules, fureteurs d'affaires,
     avides et prodigues, envieux d'autrui, mais contents d'eux-mêmes;
     profonds politiques par saillies, analysant tout, devinant tout,
     ils n'avaient pas encore pu se faire jour dans le monde où ils
     voudraient se produire."

Andoche Finot had risen by his acute perception of the commercial future
of journalism. We meet him in his early days in "César Birotteau,"
abandoning the puffing of actresses and writing of articles to less
perspicuous journalists, and devoting himself to what is now grandly
called "publicity." It was he who helped the worthy young Anselme
Popinot to push the _huile céphalique_ which repaired Birotteau's
shattered fortunes. In "Illusions Perdues" we find him again, first
proprietor of a small paper, then spending his profits and straining his
credit in buying a larger one--one of the spiders into whose web poor
Lucien fell. By 1836 he is a lord of the Press, a fictitious counterpart
of Emile de Girardin, who with Lautour-Mézéray, another _viveur_, made a
fortune by selling _La Presse_ at half the price of other newspapers.
Couture is a very minor character, a financial speculator, who only hung
on the fringe of the _viveurs_. Blondet and Bixiou are more important.
The former had many counterparts in Paris of the day. He was "a
newspaper editor, a man of much intelligence, but slipshod, brilliant,
capable, lazy, knowing, but allowing himself to be exploited, equally
faithless and good-natured by caprice; one of those men one likes, but
does not respect. Sharp as a stage _soubrette_, incapable of refusing
his pen to anyone who asked for it or his heart to anyone who would
borrow it."

Bixiou is no longer young in 1836. Balzac gives an earlier portrait of
him in "Les Employés," when he is a minor official, caricaturist and
journalist, poor, ambitious, a real liver of _la vie de Bohème_. But,
says Balzac, "he is no longer the Bixiou of 1825, but that of 1836, the
misanthropical buffoon whose fun is known to have the most sparkle and
the most acidity, a wretch enraged at having spent so much wit at a pure
loss, furious at not having picked up his bit of flotsam in the last
revolution, giving everyone a kick like a true Pierrot at the play,
having his period and its scandalous stories at his fingers' ends,
decorating them with his droll inventions, jumping on everybody's
shoulders like a clown, and trying to leave a mark on them like an
executioner."

Such, in general, were the _viveurs_ who postured in the front of the
Parisian stage--equally at home on the steps of Tortoni's or in the Café
de Paris, in the Princess Belgiojoso's drawing-room or the luxurious
boudoir of a Coralie or Florine, making the talk and spreading the
gossip, blowing up the reputations and blasting the characters of the
town. To know their habits and eccentricities places those of the true
Bohemia in a proper light. In drawing a composite picture of them I have
drawn upon fiction, but in another chapter I will justify these
generalizations by introducing some of the real heroes of _le tout
Paris_.

[Illustration: Fashionables]



V

LES VIVEURS


The most exalted section among the _viveurs_, the members of which were
farthest removed from any suspicion of Bohemianism, was formed of young
men from noble families. Their names, which do not concern us here, may
be found in the list of those who started the _petit cercle_ of the Café
de Paris. This was an exclusive dining club founded by a set of gay
livers who dreaded the political discussions of the one or two regular
clubs then existing, but wished to have a place where they could dine
together without disturbance by casual strangers. They hired, therefore,
some rooms from Alexandre, the proprietor of the restaurant, and
continued there till the club broke up in 1848. Little need be said of
them as a body, except that they were the arbiters of Parisian elegance.
As such, their chief effort was to curb the luxuriance of Parisian taste
within the limits of English correctness. Anglomania was all the rage.
Every dandy--a word then definitely adopted by the French--had his
tilbury or phaeton and his tiny English "tiger," smoked his cigar,
suffered from his "spleen," and tried to face life with an insolent air
of imperturbability--a crowning proof of good taste when the effort was
at all successful. This Anglomania was not entirely confined to the
boulevard; it was partly an effect of Romanticism. Lady Morgan[13]
laughs at it, giving a most amusing account of a performance of
"Rochester" at the Porte St.-Martin. The character that created the
greatest sensation, she says, was the Watchman, "who was dressed like an
alguazil, with a child's rattle in his hand." Whenever he appeared there
was a general murmur of "Ha! C'est le vatchman."--"Regarde donc, ma
fille, c'est le vatchman; ton papa t'a souvent parlé des
vatchmen."--"Ah, c'est le vatchman."--"Oui, c'est le vatchman." Great
play, too, was made with tea. Rochester entertained his merry companions
with tea; Mr. Wilkes poisoned his wife in it. This latter incident gave
the highest pleasure:

     "Dieu, que c'est anglois! Toujours le thé et la jalousie à
     Londres!"

The Parisian ideas and imitations of English manners were, no doubt,
pretty ridiculous, and must have caused considerable amusement to Lord
Seymour, one of the few Englishmen who were conspicuous among the
aristocratic _viveurs_. He was the illegitimate son of Lady Yarmouth,
daughter-in-law of the notorious Lord Hertford. He lived entirely in
Paris, where, being extremely rich, he kept a fine house at the corner
of the Rue Taitbout and the boulevard. Here he cultivated cigar-smoking
and physical exercise with great assiduity. He was a splendid boxer and
fencer, and all the finest bruisers and blades, amateur and
professional, were to be met in his _salle d'armes_. He took great pride
in his strength, which was abnormal, in his skill as a whip and his
success on the race-course. French sport owes him a permanent debt for
his successful starting of the Jockey Club, but he can hardly have been
a very popular member of a society, for he was cold and brutal, a man
who took a defeat rancorously and one who had a cynical delight in
causing suffering to his hangers-on. His misanthropy was the reason of
his gradually dropping out of society after 1842, and it would have been
beside the point to mention him here had it not been for the quite
undeserved notoriety which he acquired in Paris during the thirties as
the bacchanalian lord of misrule at all the carnivals. It was a strange
case of mistaken identity which persisted for many years in spite of
categorical denials. The more aristocratic of the _viveurs_ were not, as
I have said, Bohemians; but during the carnival, which was celebrated by
all the population with extraordinary licence, some of the more youthful
let themselves go and became revellers with the rest. For the last three
days of the carnival the streets of Paris, by day and by night, were
given up to an orgy. Crowds of masqueraders filled the pavements, the
restaurants, and the theatres, where fancy-dress balls were held. The
richer masks had carriages drawn by postilions, in which they drove
among the crowd, scattering confetti and sweetmeats and even money,
indulging in every kind of quaint antic and gallantry, and inciting the
vulgar to engage them in a wordy warfare in which volleys of the
coarsest expletives were fired on both sides. Riot reached its
culmination on the night of Shrove Tuesday, when the revellers, after an
orgy of feasting and dancing at the Barrière de la Courtille, on the
north-east of Paris, ended by descending the steep hill towards the city
in a state of bacchic frenzy. This was the famous _descente de la
Courtille_, at which, as at all the other revels, a certain carriage,
drawn by six horses and filled by a motley party of young men, was the
central object of admiration. No challenger ever worsted the leader of
this gang at a bout of blackguarding, no costumes equalled his in
originality, no mask so tormented and excited the crowd as he with his
harangues, his missiles, and his largesse. This was the man known to all
the populace of Paris as "Milord Arsouille," which, as all Paris would
have told you, was simply the _nom de guerre_ of Lord Seymour. But it
was not so. The real "Milord Arsouille" was a certain Charles de la
Battut, son of an English chemist and a French _émigrée_. His father,
unwilling to compromise his position in England by recognizing him, paid
for his adoption by the ruined Breton Count de la Battut. He was
educated in Paris, where, even in his youth, he showed a most dissolute
character. He delighted to frequent the lowest haunts, and there learnt
that mastery of slang and that skill as a boxer which were his pride.
The death of his real father gave him a large fortune, which he
proceeded to dissipate with the utmost extravagance and bad taste. His
house in the Boulevard des Capucines and his personal attire were
equally flamboyant. During his short period of glory he was on certain
terms of intimacy with the more rowdy among the young bloods of good
family, who in after years looked back, like the Duc d'Aulnis, with
shame to some of their exploits in his company. His most notable
achievement was to introduce the _cancan_ into the fashionable
fancy-dress ball at the Variétés in 1832, and his perpetual grief was
that all his eccentricities were attributed to Lord Seymour, in spite of
his utmost efforts to proclaim the difference of identity. In 1835 he
died, a shattered _roué_, at Naples.

The only other English name deserving comment in the _petit cercle_ of
the Café de Paris is that of Major Fraser, whose personality was an
enigma. He was one of the most popular characters on the boulevard, and
an honoured friend of the most exclusive diners at the Café Anglais or
the Café de Paris, yet nothing was known of his personal history. He
spoke English perfectly, but was not an Englishman; he never alluded to
his parents, and lived as a bachelor in an _entresol_ at the corner of
the Rue Lafitte. He was never short of money, but the source of his
income was a mystery; and when he died no letters were found, but only a
file of receipts, including a receipt from an undertaker for his funeral
expenses, and a direction that his clothes and furniture were to be sold
for the benefit of the poor. In spite of the mystery surrounding him he
was a prominent figure among the _viveurs_. His tight blue frock-coat
and his grey trousers were models for the most fastidious dandies; his
kindness and gentleness to everyone except professional politicians was
extreme; he quoted Horace freely and had a complete knowledge of
political history with a prodigious memory. Major Fraser's story could
be paralleled by the head waiter of many a London club. While he lived
he was a favourite; when he died he simply vanished.[14]

There are only two other members of the _petit cercle_ whom I wish to
mention--Alfred de Musset and Roger de Beauvoir--because they form a
link between the exclusiveness of that society and the hurly-burly
existence of _la haute Bohème_, to which both more properly belonged. In
the early Romantic days Alfred de Musset, with his beautiful, bored face
set off by the fair curls that fell over his eyes, was the petted
darling of Paris, its perfect dandy wafting the triple essence of
_bouquet de Romantisme_. Nevertheless, Alfred de Musset, though his name
was on the lips of all dandies and his poetry set a fashion in Bohemia,
never took among men the place that seemed to be his due. He might have
been a true Bohemian of 1830, but he disavowed his Romantic companions
of letters for the greater splendour of fashionable life; while among
the exquisites of the boulevard he found it impossible to preserve that
impassive demeanour and attention to the niceties of dandyism which were
inexorably demanded. His nature was far too passionate to make him for
long together a comfortable companion for men, and his personal history,
apart from his poetry, is a chapter of relations with women, of whom
George Sand is the most notable. The ashes of his career have been raked
over with most scrupulous care since his death, but it is no purpose of
mine to take part in the scavenging. To have omitted Alfred de Musset's
name would have been impossible, but having mentioned him, I can leave
him. Though he hymned Musette and drank deeply with Prince Belgiojoso,
he had as little place in Bohemia, high or low, as Lamartine or Victor
Hugo. Their throne was the study, his the boudoir.

There are no such reservations to be made for Roger de Beauvoir, whom
Madame de Girardin called "Alfred de Musset aux cheveux noirs." He was
the arch-_viveur_, with one exquisitely shod foot on the boulevard, the
other in Bohemia, the gayest of all those who supped, the insatiable
quaffer of champagne, the inexhaustible fountain of epigram, the king of
_la haute Bohème_, the very incarnation of the _Noctambule_ in
Charpentier's delightful opera, "Louise." His family was the good Norman
family of de Bully, and he took the name of Beauvoir from one of the two
estates which were his heritage. Those who were responsible for his
early guidance clearly intended that he should make his way in
diplomacy--a career in which his good looks, sympathetic voice, and
charming manners would have greatly helped his pioneering--for he was
sent to be Polignac's secretary when that unfortunate minister occupied
the embassy at London. When his chief came back to the stormy days of
July, the debonair secretary, judging no doubt that any association with
politics was incompatible with gilded ease, abandoned all attempts to
play the game of a Rastignac, and pursued his fantasies in airy
independence. The Romanticism of the _Jeune-France_ party attracted at
once the enthusiasm of a young man, just in his majority by 1830, who
was naturally a lover of brilliant colouring. He became a fanatical
medievalist, who displayed with pride a Gothic cabinet panelled in
carved oak, hung with black velvet, and lit by stained-glass windows.
The ceiling was covered with coats-of-arms; the chief decorations were a
panoply of armour and an old _prie-dieu_ on which a missal of 1350
opened its illuminated pages. Even in 1842, when Maxime du Camp first
met him, he still dreamt of reviving the age of chivalry, having just
created a sensation by waltzing at a ball in full armour, fainting and
falling with the clatter of innumerable stove-pipes. Undeterred by this
mishap, he proposed to form a company, to be called the "Société des
champs clos de France," which was to buy land for a tilting-ground, Arab
steeds, and armour for the purpose of holding weekly tourneys. The
shares were to be 1000 francs each, but as Maxime du Camp's guardian
prohibited the purchase of any by his enthusiastic ward, the project was
dropped. Like every true Romantic he wrote a medieval novel, but his
novel, "L'Écolier de Cluny," unlike those of the majority, was published
and brought him considerable fame. After its publication in 1832, he
became in some sort a man of letters, but he never added to his
reputation, being far too bent upon the pursuit of pleasure to bear the
restrictions of any profession. Having failed as a writer of
vaudevilles, he found his true vocation as the leader of a band of
revellers and a composer of wicked epigrams in verse. His epigrams,
always written _impromptu_ upon the pages of a notebook, were a real
addition to the gaiety of Paris. Here is one composed when
Ancelot--literary husband of a literary wife--was elected to the
Academy:

    _Le ménage Ancelot, par ses vers et sa prose,_
    _Devait à ce fauteuil arriver en tout cas,_
    _Car la femme accouchait toujours de quelque chose,_
    _Quand le mari n'engendrait pas._

His dress was of the highest elegance in a day when men were not
confined to a funereal black. His blue frock-coat, tight-waisted with
amply curving skirts, broad velvet _revers_, and gilt buttons, fitted as
neatly as one of his own epigrams; his blue waistcoats and light grey
trousers were treasures, his hat the curliest and shiniest to be seen.
In his own apartment he tempered the shadows of his Gothic furniture by
wearing a green silk dressing-gown and red cashmere trousers. So long as
their fortunes lasted he and his companions bade dull care begone. At
midday they left the softest of beds, and, after a serious hour of
dressing, met for déjeuner at the Café Anglais, the Maison d'Or, or the
Café Hardi. By four they were to be seen in force upon the boulevard,
displaying their waistcoats and quizzing the ladies upon the marble
steps of Tortoni's. Before dinner they would visit a drawing-room or
two, buy a picture or bargain for some _bibelot_--a Toledo blade or a
Turkish narghile--with a dealer in curiosities. The evening programme
was a set of variations upon the ground bass of dinner, opera, supper.
Roger de Beauvoir was one of the company who haunted the famous _loge
infernale_ at the Opéra, and it is needless to say that their attention
was devoted more to the ballet than to the music, for they were all
connoisseurs in choreography and had a personal acquaintance with the
dancers, which developed in most cases into something more than Platonic
affection. The _foyer des artistes_ was the enchanted garden of _la
haute Bohème_, where they sought their "Cynthia of this minute" as the
true Bohemians did at the Chaumière or the Closerie des Lilas.

The science of practical joking was sedulously cultivated by Roger and
his friends, who rejoiced to bring off successful "mystifications." One
of Roger's best was played upon Duponchel, the director of the Opéra.
One day the whole street where Duponchel lived was set all agog by the
appearance of a magnificent funeral procession, consisting of a hearse
and fifty carriages, with Roger and his friend Cabanon occupying the
first carriage as chief mourners; the head of the procession drew up at
Duponchel's door, to his great indignation. The joke up to this point
was of no especial originality, but Roger gave it a turn of his own. The
Romantic fashion dictated that every chapter in a novel should be headed
by an epigraph, as extravagant as possible, from the work of some
Romantic author. Roger therefore headed a chapter in his novel
"Pulchinella," which was just appearing, "Feu Duponchel (Histoire
contemporaine)." Even after he was hopelessly in debt he remained a
joker. Being saddled with a thin and dirty bailiff, he gave him ten
francs a day, washed him, dressed him as a Turk, and gave an evening
party in honour of his Pasha, who could only talk in signs. The supreme
_mystificateurs_, however, were Romieu and Monnier. Romieu was reputed
to be the most amusing man in Paris, and so firmly founded was his
reputation that nobody ever took him seriously. When he became prefect
of Quimperlé--an easy post which enabled him to take many a holiday upon
the boulevard--he was faced with the problem of dealing with a plague of
cockchafers in the prefecture. He hit upon the wise and perfectly
successful device of offering fifty francs for every bushel of dead
cockchafers. The Bretons were grateful enough, but all Paris was in a
roar. Here was the crowning farce of which only its lost joker would
have been capable, and it supplied the smaller comic papers with copy
for several days. Romieu made Monnier's acquaintance in an appropriate
way. About eleven o'clock one night the artist heard a knock at his
door, which he opened to a stranger, who came in and entered into a
polite conversation without a word of introduction. Monnier made no
comment, but replied with equal affability. After an hour or so, as the
stranger remained, he ransacked his sideboard and entertained his guest
with an impromptu supper. Time passed, the small hours struck, and still
the stranger made no sign of going. Monnier therefore announced that he
was ready for bed and that his sofa was at his guest's disposition. So
they parted for the night, and next morning when they met Monnier's
first words were "You are Romieu," a compliment returned by "You are
Monnier."

Monnier, says Champfleury in his memoir, belonged to Bohemia till the
end of his life; but it is clear that this Bohemia was that of the
boulevards and cafés. He was no real Romantic, and far too fond of a
good time to stay in the Bohemia which Champfleury himself knew so well.
As a writer of short stories and dialogues, an actor, and an artist he
had a huge success in the thirties, and he followed the pleasures of
life with inexhaustible zest. Balzac drew him as Bixiou in "Les
Employés." The portrait, according to Champfleury, was very true, but
unjust:

     "Intrépide chasseur de grisettes, fumeur, amuseur de gens, dîneur
     et soupeur, se mettant partout au diapason, brillant aussi bien
     dans les coulisses qu'au bal des grisettes dans l'allée des Veuves,
     il étonnait autant à table que dans une partie de plaisir; en verve
     à minuit dans la rue, comme le matin si vous le preniez au saut du
     lit, mais sombre et triste avec lui-même, comme la plupart des
     grands comiques. Lancé dans le monde des actrices et des acteurs,
     des écrivains, des artistes, et de certaines femmes dont la fortune
     est aléatoire, il vivait bien, allait au spectacle sans payer,
     jouait à Frascati, gagnait souvent. Enfin cet artiste, vraiment
     profond, mais par éclairs, se balançait dans la vie comme sur une
     escarpolette, sans s'inquiéter du moment où la corde casserait."

Innumerable stories are told of his practical jokes. Being an expert
ventriloquist, he was wont to enter an omnibus and without moving a
muscle utter in a feminine voice: "Je vous aime, monsieur le
conducteur," at which there would be tremendous consternation among the
petticoats. The dames swept the company with searching glares of
outraged decency, the _demoiselles_ blushed, and the embarrassed
conductor looked in vain for his temptress. One evening he was burdened
with a bore in some illuminated public garden. To escape the tedium of
conversation he pretended to be greatly interested in some matter which
necessitated his walking carefully all round the garden and gazing
intently at all the gas-lamps. After half an hour of these mysterious
peregrinations the bore, who had been forced to keep silence, asked with
impatience what was the matter. "I bet you five francs," said Monnier,
"that there are here seventy-nine _becs de gaz_ (gas-jets)." The bore
accepted the challenge with delight, and another half-hour was spent in
silent perambulation and calculation. At length he announced
triumphantly that he only counted seventy-eight. "Ah," said Monnier as
he made his escape, and pointing to the orchestra, "vous avez oublié le
bec de la clarinette."

Monnier, the great artist, the disappointed actor, was at the other end
of the scale to Lord Seymour and his friends. They had a position
without activity: his activity made his position. No great artist
remains long in Bohemia. Some work their way out on foot: he rose from
it, one might say, in a balloon, by which, after disporting himself for
some years above the mists, he was landed for his later days in the
obscurity of a province. Such a man, at home in all society, is
restricted by none. As he was not the perfect Bohemian, so he was not
the whole-hearted _viveur_, for whose complete picture I must return to
Roger de Beauvoir and his set, some of whom are described in Roger's own
little book, "Soupeurs de mon Temps." It is a melancholy epitaph of a
brilliant company. The sparkling wit of their gatherings has vanished
with the bubbles of the champagne they drank, and little is left on
record but the capacity of their stomachs. They took an immense pride in
their consumption of champagne. Briffaut, a clever journalist and a
particular friend of Roger's, was the king of topers. To him was due the
invention of "ingurgitation," which consisted in pouring a bottle of
champagne into a bell-shaped glass cover, such as was used to protect
cheese, and swallowing it at a draught. He once challenged a noted
English toper and gave him a glass a bottle; the victory was easily his,
for he disposed of a dozen. Among other champions who helped to make
Veuve Clicquot's fortune were Armand Malitourne, a singularly gifted
man, a journalist, and at one time secretary to the minister Montalivet;
Béquet, whose good taste Roger himself extolled; and Bouffé, the
director of the Vaudeville. Then there was Emile Cabanon, who lives in
Romantic annals as the author of the extravagant "Roman pour les
Cuisinières." Champfleury,[15] on the authority of Camille Rogier, the
artist, says that he appeared one day upon the boulevard and won himself
forthwith a place by his gifts as a story-teller, becoming a favourite
with all from Prince Belgiojoso downwards. He is one of the reputed
originals--there are two or three--of Balzac's Comte de la Palférine (in
"Un Prince de la Bohème"), who, being struck with the appearance of a
lady passing along the street, at once attached himself to her: in vain
she tried to get rid of the importunate by saying she was going to visit
a friend, for her cavalier came too and mixed with all urbanity in the
conversation, rising to take his leave at the same time as the object of
his sudden passion. This assiduity so captivated the besieged one's
heart that she struck her colours. It is _à propos_ of Cabanon that
Champfleury refers with some contempt to "les gentilshommes de lettres
du boulevard de Gand, qui nageaient comme des poissons dans le fleuve de
la dette, se fiaient plus sur leurs relations que sur leur plume,
dépensaient de l'esprit comptant en veux-tu en voilà." Alfred
Tattet,[16] the rich son of an _agent de change_, who was introduced to
the _viveurs_ by Félix Arvers, the poet of one sonnet, was another of
the crew. Alfred de Musset, Roger de Beauvoir, Romieu, and others made
merry at his sumptuous entertainments till he varied the monotony by
running over the frontier with a married woman, leaving Arvers to look
after his affairs. In 1843 he returned to settle down at Fontainebleau
with the wife of a German in Frankfort. Another young man, with the
promising name of Chaudesaigues--a corruption of the Latin for "hot
water"--came to Paris in 1835 with a fortune of 30,000 francs, which he
squandered in a few years, and then struggled on as a journalist till he
died of apoplexy.

I should wrong the _viveurs_ if I allowed it to be implied that they
were all purely pleasure-seekers. Some of them were successful business
men besides. Lautour-Mézéray, for instance, who was distinguished by the
white camellia in his buttonhole, laid the foundations of his fortune by
starting a paper called _Le Voleur_, which was entirely composed of
cuttings from other papers. Like Andoche Finot, he went on from small to
great, founding _La Mode_ and _Le Journal des Enfants_, the first
children's paper. He helped to start _La Presse_ with Emile de Girardin,
who was another of the more solid among the _viveurs_. Doctor Véron,
stout and self-important, his face half hidden in a huge cravat, held an
important place among them. He began life as a medical practitioner, but
made a fortune by exploiting a certain Pâte Regnault and took to
political journalism. Between 1831 and 1835 he was an extremely
successful director of the Opéra, and in 1838 bought _Le
Constitutionnel_, which he sold fourteen years later for two million
francs. To him, it is said, is due the invention of the _tournedos_.
Certainly, he was a prominent gastronome, and the terror of head
waiters, for he was no mere swiller of champagne, but one who insisted
on perfect vintages combined with perfect cooking. In the thirties, when
"Robert le Diable" was filling the Opéra and his own pocket, he was a
constant diner at the restaurants, but in later years he never dined
except at his own house, where Sophie, his cook and majordomo, alone
preserved the proper traditions of gastronomy. Mæcenas-like, he made a
certain literary set free of his table. Their places were always laid,
they helped themselves, and they remained as long as they pleased,
whether their host left them or no. Théodore de Banville and many others
have celebrated the excellent "cuisine" and its accompaniment of wit,
but a reader of Véron's "Souvenirs d'un bourgeois de Paris" will be
inclined to suspect that the doctor himself was rather a prosy humbug,
who only supplied the appropriate stimulus for the wit of his guests.
The chief of these, another celebrated _viveur_, was Nestor Roqueplan,
whose toilette was unsurpassed and whose wit inexhaustible. He was a
Parisian to the marrow; a day from Paris was to him a day out of
Paradise. Like most of his generation, he began as a journalist, but
diverged to become a director of theatres. The Panthéon, Nouveautés,
Saint-Antoine, Variétés, Opéra, Opéra Comique, and Châtelet passed
successively under his sway, and he lost money at them all except at
the Variétés, during his management of which he wrote those sparkling
"Nouvelles à la main" which are perhaps the freshest examples of purely
ephemeral contemporary wit.

The Revolution of 1848 dispersed the _viveurs_ for ever. It was not that
Paris diminished in gaiety during the Second Empire nor that the _cafés_
ceased to be invaded by merry bands of _fêtards_, but simply that Paris
became too gay, too large, and too cosmopolitan. The boulevard was no
longer to be kept sacred for a chosen few, and a new generation was
rising, which found other channels for its energies than ingurgitatory
wit-combats. Under the new _régime_ there was a court and a more
exciting foreign policy. The aristocracy threw off its sulks, the
prosperous industrial conquered his diffidence, the pleasure-loving
stranger found that all railways led to Paris. The old guard was
overwhelmed, or rather would have been overwhelmed if not already
well-nigh crumbled away. Men with clear heads and practical aims, who
had only devoted their leisure to enjoyment, like Véron, Roqueplan, de
Girardin, survived to retire with all the honours of war, forming small
_coteries_ for the cultivation of wit and good cheer, but shunning,
instead of affronting, the public eye. But the rest, the _viveurs_ of
every hour, where were they? Dead, worn-out, shattered in health, paying
the dismal reckoning for the dissipation of their heyday, poor,
neglected, forgotten. Misfortune overtook the gay Roger from the moment
he married Mademoiselle Doze, the actress. For six years he was pestered
with lawsuits for separation, till a divorce was finally procured. He
had drunk, as he said, 150,000 francs worth of champagne and written 300
songs. The francs were gone, the songs lost, and nothing was left but
the gout.

    _Jadis j'étais des plus ingambes,_
    _Mais hélas! destins inhumains,_
    _Le papier que j'avais aux mains,_
    _A présent je le porte aux jambes._

He could jest to the last, but in his last days he was a pathetic sight,
fat, prematurely old, infirm, confined to a wretched chamber, and denied
even the champagne which could charm away his regrets. The dapper figure
that had once filled a frock-coat so jauntily was now a shapeless
corpulence hidden in the loose folds of a greasy dressing-gown. He died
of gout, as Alfred de Musset died of drink. Malitourne, after sinking
lower and lower in drunkenness, died mad; apoplexy carried off
Chaudesaigues and Charles Froment; Arvers died of spinal paralysis;
Béquet ended in a hospital; gout killed Cabanon and Tattet; while
Briffaut expired in a mad-house. The mental pronouncement of their
funeral orations I leave to any moralist who chooses, bidding him
remember that if they failed as individuals to fulfil the highest
destinies of mankind they were victims of a strange fever in common with
all the generation of 1830.

Of that generation they were a part, perhaps the most conspicuous part
at the time. I might almost liken them to the set of "swells" in some
public school, privileged themselves yet censorious of others, always in
the eye of their small world, influential in their smallest acts,
embodying conspicuously the current fashion and expressing the
prevailing tone, shining inevitably as a pattern, envied by most,
respected, outwardly, by all. In Louis Philippe's time Parisian society
was as limited a corporation as a school. Its "swells" attained their
position, as all "swells" do, by excelling in a pursuit in which
excellence is universally admired. They excelled in tinging their life
with a medieval splendour of colouring, they had some prowess in poetry
and letters, they performed miracles of wit in the new spirit of busy,
ever-bubbling, _bruyant_ fun. As the "swells" of Romanticism they
justified their position so long as the conditions allowed. Bohemia, in
some respects, was like a "house" in the same school, with a smaller
corporate life of its own, yet influenced by the powers outside it, the
more so because some of its members had risen themselves to the company
of "swells." In this not very exalted, but true, simile is my reason for
devoting space to the _viveurs_. They were not Bohemians for the most
part, but many Bohemians hoped to be _viveurs_ as Etonians hope to be in
"Pop." On them rested the high lights of the picture, but we can now
peer into the background and discern the true Bohemia of 1830.



VI

LA BOHÈME ROMANTIQUE

    MIL HUIT CENT TRENTE! _Aurore_
    _Qui m'éblouis encore,_
    _Promesse du destin,_
      _Riant matin!_

    _Aube où le soleil plonge!_
    _Quelquefois un beau songe_
    _Me rend l'éclat vermeil_
      _De ton réveil._

    _Jetant ta pourpre rose_
    _En notre ciel morose,_
    _Tu parais, et la nuit_
      _Soudain s'enfuit._

       THÉODORE DE BANVILLE


The Romantic Bohemia has been the theme of so many French writers, from
the time when the first reminiscences appeared to the present day, when
a Léon Séché and a Philibert Audebrand, following the lead of Charles
Asselineau, the pious _chiffonnier_ of Romanticism, industriously
collect the very last scraps of authentic information, that a foreigner
with all a foreigner's limitations may well hesitate to mar the pretty
edifice erected to the memory of 1830 by some clumsy addition of his
own. Yet I take heart from the consideration that even in France there
is, at least to my knowledge, no complete account of this Bohemia. Those
who would follow its annals in their original tongue must do so in a
multitude of books, published at different times, some of which are
rarities only to be found in museums and the largest libraries.
Moreover, the French chronicler writes from a point of view which a
foreigner cannot adopt, and makes assumptions which a foreigner cannot
grant. All the historical and literary associations on which I have
touched in a former chapter make it a subject which even to-day excites
passionate enthusiasm and equally passionate reprobation across the
Channel. The foreigner can approach in a cooler temper, though I
postulate in my readers a general sympathy for Gautier's scarlet
_pourpoint_ and all that it symbolized. In this cooler temper, then, not
seeing red, but with a tendency, at least, to see rosy, a foreigner may
glance at a life, so essentially limited by its period and its
nationality, without challenging unfavourable comparisons.

The Romantic Bohemia was part of Parisian society, a fact of which I
have already tried to point out the implications. It might add to the
general picture to know how society judged Bohemia. Contemporary record
is scarce, not only because Bohemia itself so largely supplied the
personal element in the journalism of its time, but also because the
conception--indeed, the name--was so new. There is, however, something
to be picked up from allusions here and there which is of some service
in the definition of boundaries. Nestor Roqueplan, for instance, in his
little book, "La Vie Parisienne," defines Bohemia as comprehending "all
those in Paris who dine rarely and never go to bed." He distinguishes
sloth and debt as the salient faults in the general disorder of its
life, and he is not too appreciative of its abilities, though he admits
that there is an inner Bohemia, "intelligente et spirituelle," composed
of a certain number of young men with the makings of excellent
ministers, irreproachable officials, and daring men of business. In
conclusion he asserts the great truth that "Bohemia must be young; it
must be continually renewed. If the Bohemian were more than thirty, he
might be confused with the rogue." This is excellent testimony from a
man who, himself no real Bohemian, had extensive relations with Bohemia
as one on whom its young playwrights inflicted the reading of their
plays. Balzac is the next witness, though it is remarkable that his only
specific reference to Bohemia is in the short story, "Un Prince de la
Bohème," which tells how the young Comte de la Palfèrine, a penniless
son of a general who died after Wagram, satisfied his vanity in the
person of his mistress, Madame du Bruel. He was debarred by his
position from having a wife worthy of his aristocratic pride, but that
at least his mistress might be worthy, Madame du Bruel, an actress
married to a writer of _vaudevilles_, worries her husband into the
acquisition of riches, political power, and a peerage. At the beginning
of this story--one of Balzac's most curious--he gives a general
definition of Bohemia:

     "Bohemia, which ought to be called the wisdom of the Boulevard des
     Italiens, is composed of young men all over twenty, and under
     thirty, years of age, all men of genius in their manner, still
     little known, but destined to make themselves known and then to be
     very distinguished; they are already distinguished in the days of
     the carnival, during which they discharge the plethora of their
     wit, which is confined during the rest of the year, in more or less
     comic inventions. In what an age do we live! What absurd authority
     allows immense forces thus to be dissipated! In Bohemia there are
     diplomats capable of upsetting the plans of Russia, if they felt
     themselves supported by the power of France. One meets in it
     writers, administrators, soldiers, journalists, artists! In a word,
     all kinds of capacity and intellect are represented in it. It is a
     microcosm. If the Emperor of Russia were to buy Bohemia for some
     twenty millions, supposing it willing to quit the asphalt of the
     boulevards, and were to deport it to Odessa, in a year Odessa would
     be Paris. There it is, the useless, withering flower of that
     admirable youth of France which Napoleon and Louis XIV cherished,
     and which has been neglected for thirty years by that gerontocracy
     under which all things in France are drooping.... Bohemia has
     nothing and lives on that which it has. Hope is its religion,
     self-confidence is its code, charity passes for its budget. All
     these young men are greater than their misfortunes--below fortune,
     but above destiny."

The narrator of the story, the witty Nathan, goes on to give some
particular _traits_ of La Palférine, who would be King of Bohemia, if
Bohemia could suffer a king. Some of these are rather vulgar
pleasantries which display the bluntness of Balzac's sense of humour
rather than La Palférine's wit, as when the Bohemian, angrily accosted
by a _bourgeois_ in whose face he had thrown the end of his cigar,
calmly replied: "You have sustained your adversary's fire; the seconds
declare that honour is satisfied." La Palférine was never solvent: once,
when he owed his tailor a thousand francs, the latter's head clerk, sent
to collect the debt, found the debtor in a wretched sixth-floor attic on
the outskirts of Paris, furnished with a miserable bed and a rickety
table; to the request for payment the count replied with a gesture
worthy of Mirabeau: "Go tell your master of the state in which you have
found me!" In affairs of love, though he was impetuous as a besieger, he
was proud as a conqueror. After having passed a fortnight of unmixed
happiness with a certain Antonia, he found that, as Balzac puts it, she
was treating him with a want of frankness. He therefore wrote to her
the following letter, which made her famous:

     "MADAME,--Your conduct astonishes as much as it afflicts me. Not
     content with rending my heart by your disdain, you have the
     indelicacy to keep my tooth-brush, which my means do not allow me
     to replace, my estates being mortgaged beyond their value.

     Farewell, too lovely and too ungrateful friend!

     May we meet again in a better world!"

Balzac's account is obviously tinged with literary exaggeration, though
the stories of La Palférine were no doubt gleaned among the gossips of
the boulevard. He shall be balanced by an adverse witness, one M.
Challamel, who, after a severe attack of _le mal romantique_ which
caused him to run away from his father's shop, settled down to be a
staid librarian. In his "Souvenirs d'un Hugolâtre" he says:

     "In the wake of the freelances of the pen the _Bohemians_ abounded,
     affecting the profoundest disdain for all that the bourgeois call
     'rules of conduct,' posing as successors to François Villon,
     playing the part of literary art-students, frequenters of
     _cabarets_, often of disreputable houses, breaking with the usages
     of polite society, and believing, in fine, that everything is
     permitted to people of intelligence.... By the side of these sham
     romantic Byrons there existed some good fellows who fell into the
     excess of the literary revolution, and who paraded the active
     immorality of debauch. Sceptics, materialists, loaded with debt,
     they raised poverty to a system and laughed at their voluntary
     insolvency. Some shook off early their Diogenes' cloak ... others
     succumbed prematurely ... all had imitators who ended by forming
     numerous groups and by founding a school. The spirit of Bohemia
     became infectious, and engendered the spirit of mockery (_la
     blague_)."

I conclude this general testimony with some lines from Alfred de
Musset's "Dupont et Durand," which is an imaginary conversation between
two old school-fellows, one of whom has become a prosperous citizen, the
other has failed as a Bohemian. The Bohemian says:

             _J'ai flâné dans les rues,_
    _J'ai marché devant moi, bayant aux grues;_
    _Mal nourri, peu vêtu, couchant dans un grenier,_
    _Dont je déménageais dès qu'il fallait payer;_
    _De taudis en taudis colportant ma misère,_
    _Ruminant de Fourier le rêve humanitaire,_
    _Empruntant çà et là le plus que je pouvais,_
    _Dépensant un écu sitôt que je l'avais,_
    _Délayant de grands mots en phrases insipides,_
    _Sans chemise et sans bas, et les poches si vides,_
    _Qu'il n'est que mon esprit au monde d'aussi creux,_
    _Tel je vécus, râpé, sycophante, envieux._

With the aid of these lights we may descry some general features of the
Romantic Bohemian. He must be young; on this both Roqueplan and Balzac
are agreed, placing his proper age between twenty and thirty. The
Bohemians of 1830 were, as a matter of fact, nearer to the earlier than
the later limit. Most of them were born at the end of the first decade
of the nineteenth century, so that 1830 found them in, or not long past,
their twentieth year, a happy state of things which Arsène Houssaye
celebrated in his poem "Vingt Ans." We Englishmen can hardly understand
the magic of this joyous phrase, _vingt ans_; through French prose and
poetry it sounds again and again like a tinkling silver bell calling
those who have lived and loved in youth to hark back for a moment in
passionate regret, in an ecstasy of remembrance. To think of Bohemia
without that silver tinkle in one's ears is to do it a grave injustice,
for Bohemia throbbed with it then as with a tocsin, as with a summoning
bell to a joyous refectory in some transcendant Abbaye de Thélème. It
may be well for us that at twenty we are still hobbledehoys whom serious
persons are only too glad to get rid of for half the year in
universities as peacefully unmoved by our turmoil as their Gothic
buildings by the storms of winter; but these frenzied medievalists had
no Gothic university to be engulfed in save their own dear Paris, at a
time when the university of their own dear Paris was trying its hardest
to withstand the new ideas with which they were aflame. If juvenile
excesses and absurdities can be tolerated with easy smiles at Oxford and
Cambridge, how much more can those of the Romantic Bohemia be excused
when its denizens were Frenchmen, hardly more than schoolboys, yet
already victorious as champions of a revolution, with their livelihood
to gain, with no kind parents to pay their bills and no kind Dean to
regulate their mischief! As the college porter says, "Young gentlemen
will be young gentlemen," a proverb which condones the excesses of
tender, as it reprobates those of riper, years. Bohemia, in Roqueplan's
words, must be continually renewed, for the old Bohemian is nothing but
a legitimate object for ardent social reformers. So the Bohemians of
1830, some of whom made their names, while others remained obscure, were
all youthful nobodies in the eyes of the world, perching in their attics
like a colony of singing birds upon the topmost branches.

This youth of theirs, once it is properly grasped, explains a good many
of their qualities, amiable and otherwise. Poverty, for instance, was a
tradition of Bohemia. "They dine rarely," "the Bohemian has nothing and
lives on what he has," "they raised their poverty into a system and
laughed at their voluntary insolvency": so say Roqueplan, Balzac, and
Challamel. Most young men in this world are poor, in the sense they have
nothing of their own. So long as they follow the careers laid down for
them, or earn the prescribed salaries in the prescribed professions,
they are not without means indeed, but if they take a contradictory
line of their own which is not lucrative, especially if they dare to set
up as poets, it is considered better for them to knock their heads
against the hard corners of life without much extraneous assistance. On
the whole this is a wise point of view, and one can hardly follow some
of the less talented Romantics in making it an indictment against
society that superior soup-kitchens are not provided for the sustenance
of all who choose to embrace the arts. There were, of course, degrees of
poverty in Bohemia, just as there were degrees of economic adaptability.
Some were really, others only comparatively, destitute: some girded
their loins daily in search of pence, others waited for pence to drop
from heaven. Still, in spite of all degrees and differences, poverty was
very real. The market for art and letters was still extremely
restricted, processes were costly, the science of distribution still in
its infancy; a few celebrities took all the cream of the demand, leaving
only the thinnest trickle to satisfy the rest.

The Bohemians knew, or very soon found out, their prospects. Those who
were not scared back to their homes made up their minds that at best a
moderate income might be theirs in the future, while the present
entailed considerable privations to be endured cheerfully for the glory
of art. Poverty being their economic condition, it is not to be supposed
that the young men who _did_ happen to be rich in their own right
migrated to Bohemia for the mere pleasure of its society. It is easy
enough to find food for laughter in unavoidable discomforts and delight
in the makeshifts by which misery is cheated, but, when neither
discomfort nor makeshifts are necessary, the point of view inevitably
changes, and irritation takes the place of laughter. It is quite
contrary to human nature that a man with money to spare for regular
meals, decent clothes, and a comfortable room should enjoy hunger, rags,
and a bare garret. Between adversity cheerfully borne and a masquerade
of scanty means there is a gulf which no imagination is able to span. A
rich man, I admit, may stint himself in order to spend all his means on
a hobby or a philanthropic object, but in the Bohemian there was no
trace of this voluntary asceticism, which would have been entirely
contrary to the Romantic creed. A rich Bohemian was a paradox, for the
moment a Bohemian had any money he spent it in forgetting the sorrows of
Bohemia, a moral pointed by Murger's amusing chapter "Les Flots du
Pactole," where Rodolphe, having received a gift of £20, promptly agrees
with Marcel to live a regular life. He will work, he says, seriously,
sheltered from the material worries of life. "I renounce Bohemia, I
shall dress like the rest, I shall have a black coat and appear in
drawing-rooms." Unfortunately the preliminaries are so costly that the
sum is exhausted in a fortnight, the _coup de grâce_ being given to it
when the new servant pays without authorization the arrears of rent.
"Where shall we dine to-night?" says Rodolphe, once more a Bohemian. "We
shall know to-morrow," replies Marcel. Rodolphe and Marcel, and their
predecessors just as much, would have regarded a Bohemian with an income
as a madman or a monstrosity. With all the will in the world such a man
would have found it impossible to live in such a society without being
on its economic level. Its joys and pleasures would not have been his,
its amusements would have seemed paltry. To have shown his money would
have made him shunned by the proud and courted by the sycophants, in any
case a stranger. He could only have been a Bohemian at the price of
dissipating all his capital, and that he could more easily do among the
_viveurs_ upon the boulevard.

Bohemia, then, was poor, which had the one excellent result of banishing
from it all mercenary spirit. When there was so little money to be had
in any case and there were so many other more glorious things to think
about, there was no point in financial preoccupations. If one had a few
coins one spent them in common with those who had none; if one's pockets
were empty one went without and accepted the hospitality of others.
Money-grubbing was left to the virtuous _bourgeois_ beloved of a
_bourgeois_ king, to unscrupulous Nucingens and adventurous de
Girardins. And Bohemia never went to bed, because it was young and poor,
not from viciousness or an artistic pleasure in the sunrise. They were
incorrigible talkers, those young men--perhaps this was one of their
graver faults--they not only talked, but they shouted for hours
together, mixing declamations of Victor Hugo with extravagant tirades in
the Romantic fashion. It was not in them to disperse quietly after
"Hernani" or "Antony" had lashed them into fury. They had a plethora of
matter to discharge from their souls, but they had no comfortable little
Chelsea studio in which to perform this function. A cold attic, a straw
mattress, a fuelless stove, a dearth of chairs, which was all the
majority could boast of, was a poor setting for impassioned conversation
compared with the warmth of even a humble _cabaret_. The good M.
Challamel, of course, is justified in his strictures. Their morals were
lax, they were extravagant, they did not pay their bills. This was
partly due to what a humorous undergraduate once called the "generosity
of youth," and partly to the example of the "swells" upon the boulevard.
The Bohemian naturally yearned to enjoy himself, with his acute capacity
for enjoyment, as he saw his more fortunate fellow-men enjoying
themselves. They were luxurious at all times; it was impossible for him
to restrain occasionally the impulse to luxury, indulging in a superb
orgy at the Rocher de Caucale or the Trois Frères Provençaux, ordering
clothes which he _meant_ to pay for, and forgetting all the while the
just claims of a landlord. His vices, at any rate, were inseparable
from the conditions of his existence, and if he was disreputable, it
was more outwardly than within.

The talents of Bohemia were as diverse as the physiognomies of its
citizens. Genius, it might be said with truth, was not more common there
than in other walks of life. Real genius is a law and a life to itself;
it is no more Bohemian than it is aristocratic, democratic, liberal or
conservative. Social labels imply classes to bear them, and classes
imply a common factor of intelligence. Genius, being an uncommon factor,
is always severely individual. Moreover, so far as Bohemia is concerned,
genius, being one kind of wealth, unsuited its possessor for Bohemian
citizenship as much as a comfortable income. The trivialities and
futilities of some, the extravagant idleness of others, would have
estranged genius or forced it to pretend an acquiescence in much that
was repugnant to its nature. With the possible exception of Gautier, the
Bohemia of 1830 could really claim none of the greatest names of
Romanticism. Victor Hugo, Sainte-Beuve, and the other divinities of its
worship were, apart from all further possibilities, too old. Balzac was
a far too busy man to pay it more than momentary visits; Berlioz, before
he went to Rome, was too occupied in writing music which irritated
Cherubini; Delacroix, the acknowledged king of Romantic painters, is
revealed in his letters as the austerest of hard workers, scarcely
leaving his studio but for a walk when the shadows began to fall. Yet,
if Bohemia was denied genius, it was not denied a very high average of
ability, which was enhanced by its burning and disinterested enthusiasm
for art. Like all other societies, it had its fools, its knaves, its
dunces, and its awkward squad. The Romantic revolution had attracted
many scatterbrained fanatics to Paris, with as little artistic aptitude
as good sense in their heads. Out of those who survived the first
disappointments were fashioned failures like Alfred de Musset's
unfortunate in the verses quoted previously, "râpé, sycophante,
envieux." Probably, too, an impartial observer, listening to the
nocturnal conversations of a Bohemian group, would often have found the
ecstatic admiration of the listeners disproportionate to the turgid
periods of the speaker, for to every real artist in Bohemia there was a
wind-bag or two. Nevertheless there was a good deal of truth in Balzac's
eulogy. Bohemia numbered within its gates a good proportion of the best
among the younger generation. They were indeed an "immense force," which
might have been better utilized. Every kind of talent was represented
there abundantly, because the field of letters seemed to be the only
battlefield then left open to willing and eager soldiers. This very fact
gave the Romantic Bohemia its imperishable distinction, for after 1848,
when young blood again found other outlets, what had been a little world
was left no more than a decadent province.

The republic of Bohemia in general had all the follies and virtues, the
amiability and brutality of youth. It was generous, noisy, more often
hungry than drunk, often on the verge of despair, and always
fantastically clothed. It sprang up in Paris as rapidly as the iron
shanties of a Canadian township round a proposed extension of the
railway. The settlers, self-assured, fervid, rise on a tide of
increasing prosperity till some supreme moment when their venture, its
markets humming, its saloons crowded, its new town hall nearly built,
seems the very embodiment of all their hopes. But if the railway, after
all, take another route, the glory gradually dwindles, the workers throw
down the tools, and the host of speculators melts away, till only that
population is left which the soil will actually support, and what was
for a day a city resumes the existence of an ordinary village. Bohemia's
history is of a less commercial texture, but of a like pattern, as I
have already said. Its rise was swift, it had a brilliant apogee, its
decline was gradual. In a posthumous poem by Philothée O'Neddy, whose
place in the chronicles of Bohemia will be duly recorded, it is said:

    _Il est depuis longtemps avéré que nous sommes,_
    _Dans le siècle, six milles jeunes hommes_
    _Qui du démon de l'Art nous croyant tourmentés,_
    _Dépensons notre vie en excentricités;_
    _Qui, du fatal Byron copiant des allures,_
    _De solennels manteaux drapons nos encolures._

These six thousand copies of the "Fatal Byron," if they ever existed,
have, for the most part, died without leaving their names to posterity.
The historian can deal only with a few individuals, who embodied the
salient qualities of Bohemia.



VII

THE SECOND "CÉNACLE"


"People always forget," said Théophile Gautier in his old age, "that we
were the first Schaunards and Collines, a quarter of a century before
Murger. Only," he added with a smile, "we had talent and did not write
invertebrate verses like those of that feeble appendage to Alfred de
Musset." This saying, reported by his son-in-law, was made on a festive
occasion, so that it is unnecessary to regard with concern the
discrepancy between this view of Murger and the one which Gautier has
expressed in print. That kindest-hearted of writers would never
wittingly have hurt the reputation or memory of the humblest among his
fellows, and I only quote the passage because, when the malice is
discounted as largely as the "quarter of a century," it remains a true
reference to the origins of Bohemia by one who was, so to speak, one of
its pilgrim fathers. The first Schaunards and Collines, Rodolphes and
Marcels, the unknown poets and artists who first raised the standard of
common enthusiasm against a common enemy, the _bourgeois_, were the
young and lusty friends of a young and lusty Gautier. They were members
of a _cénacle_, albeit a less beatific _cénacle_ than the brotherhood
drawn in Balzac's "Illusions Perdues." In the _cénacle_ of the Rue des
Quatre Vents he evolved by sheer imagination a compensating mirage of
virtue to be contrasted with all the real depravity of society which his
eye so unerringly saw, just as Eugénie Grandet shines out impossibly
beside her miserly father, and Madame Firmiani in the corrupt circle of
his _femmes du monde_. Nevertheless there is a certain sublimity in the
_cénacle_ to which attention cannot be denied. It was Balzac's picture
of an ideal Bohemia in which alone such a nature as his could have found
a home. It is of little moment that he dates the action of "Illusions
Perdues" a few years before 1830, for the _cénacle_ itself is a timeless
creation, only limited by the fact that one of its members died in the
insurrection of 1832. The young men who composed the _cénacle_ bore upon
their brow the "seal of special genius." Daniel d'Arthez, upon whom
since the death of their leader, the great mystic, Louis Lambert, the
mantle had fallen, was a monarchist of noble family, destined to become
the greatest writer of the future; Horace Bianchon, the flower of
doctors, a materialist of perfect charity and profound science; Léon
Giraud, a humanitarian philosopher; Joseph Bridau, a great painter with
"the line of Rome and the colour of Venice"; Fulgence Ridal, a sceptic,
a cynic, and the wittiest playwright of his time; Meyraux, a scientist;
and Michel Chrestien, a red republican who was killed in the Cloître
Saint-Merri. They were not ascetics by profession: d'Arthez, for
instance, was the last lover of the Diane, the Princesse de Cadignan, in
the days of his later glory; Bridau's art was affected by his love
affairs; Chrestien was "plein d'illusions et d'amour." They were like
the "saints" of the early Christian Church, each going his own way, but
true helpers one of another, true champions and honest critics. They
were without vanity or envy, having a profound esteem for one another,
with a consciousness of their own worth. "Their great external misery
and the splendour of their intellectual wealth produced a singular
contrast. In their society nobody thought of the realities of life
except as subjects for friendly pleasantries.... The sufferings of
poverty, when they made themselves felt, were so gaily borne, accepted
with such ardour by all, that they did nothing to alter the particular
serenity which marks the faces of young men free from grave faults, who
have not lost part of themselves in any of those low traffickings which
are forced upon men by poverty ill supported, by the desire to get on
without any choice of means, and by the facile complacency with which
men of letters welcome or pardon betrayals.... These young men were sure
of themselves: the enemy of one became the enemy of all, and they would
have abandoned their most urgent interests to obey the sacred solidarity
of their hearts. All incapable of a mean action, they could oppose a
formidable 'no' to every accusation, and defend one another with
security. Equally high-minded and equally matched in matters of
sensibility, they could think and speak all their mind in the domain of
science and intelligence; thence came the innocence of their
intercourse, the gaiety of their talk. Sure of mutual understanding,
their minds digressed at their ease; and they stood on no ceremony among
themselves, confided in each other their sorrows and their joys,
pondered and suffered with open hearts." I need speak no further of this
imaginary _cénacle_, for "Illusions Perdues" is widely known. It is one
of those wonderful fantasies that one feels were lovingly cherished by
Balzac, at once his darling dreams and his disappointments. He had a
passionate desire to express the beautiful, and he was denied that gift.
The lights dance before his eyes, and his very language becomes confused
and turgid when he deserts reality. It may safely be said that in the
real _Bohème_ there was no such goodly company of industrious, gifted,
morally austere, intellectually gay, unselfish young men, and that there
never will be in any society till the coming of the Coquecigrues.

The Bohemia of artistic tradition began in what Théophile Gautier named
the "second _cénacle_." The first _cénacle_, as all the world knows, was
that of Victor Hugo, Sainte-Beuve, and the brothers Deschamps, who met
regularly at the _cabaret_ of Mère Saguet on Montparnasse in the days
when Hugo was still hatching the plot of the literary revolution. To
trace to them the origins of Bohemia would be an error, for they never
had any part or lot in Bohemianism. They were young, it is true, and
depended upon their art for a living, but the fact that they were
nothing but a small _coterie_ of earnest poets, more akin to the band of
d'Arthez than the friends of Rodolphe, depends upon two things, their
time and their outlook. The first _cénacle_ came into existence about
1822, when the throne of the Bourbons seemed solid and royalism went
hand in hand with classicism. No standard of insurrection, civic or
literary, had yet been raised; the victory was yet to come, and it would
have been madness, before the campaign was fully planned or the army
gathered, for the chiefs to have aped the style of victors. The
merciless ridicule of Paris would have killed them in a week, without
support as they were. Defiance of the _bourgeois_, an absolute essential
of the true Bohemian creed, was, therefore, not appropriate to the first
_cénacle_, who lived openly the life of ordinary, decent citizens, while
secretly preparing the proclamations, the standards, and the weapons by
which the cataclysmic victory of 1830 was to be won. In such a tense
moment Bohemia could not be born. Their outlook, in the second place,
was too lofty to comprehend the lower planes in which Bohemia made
itself conspicuous. To strike a more human note in poetry was their
chief aim: they were concerned with art rather than with life itself;
and though Hugo, in the privacy of his room, doffed with relief that
_bourgeois_ symbol, the high linen collar, he was like a general in his
tent drawing up that transcendental plan of operations, the preface to
"Cromwell," which was to inspire his troops in their pioneering and
shooting, in their whole bodily attack on the classic tradition. As the
classic tradition was embodied not only in literature, in contemporary
journalism, in professional lectures, but in the social life of all
staid citizens as well, the Romantic troops, passionate and fundamental
as their literary enthusiasm was, were forced to make social life the
field of their assault, all the more because, being poor, young, and
unknown, they were unable to inflict such palpable wounds with pen or
brush as they could by making a violent protest in every detail of the
ordinary way of living. By outraging the accepted standards of decency
in dress, in speech, and in demeanour, they made their presence daily
felt, and where their presence was felt their ideals were made
ostensible. Their tactics, after the event, may be blamed, the effect
they produced was, no doubt, smaller than they imagined, but the fact
remains that la _vie de Bohème_ began neither as a retreat for higher
souls nor as a means for reckless self-indulgence, but as a definite
method of drawing attention to a new and important artistic creed. For
the greater exponents of this creed, a Hugo or a Delacroix, such a
material protest would have been out of place; it would have detracted
even from the effect produced by their great works of art. Only the rank
and file, to whom supreme personal achievement was impossible, collected
and commonly inspired, as I have already pointed out, under special
historical and social conditions, were justified in adopting the
measures that were best suited to their purpose. Their purpose was as
temporary as their conditions; their device, _épater le bourgeois_, has
now become a hollow phrase, but it meant then the rousing of every
shopkeeper, every _garçon de café_, as well as the cultured reader of
current literature, to the sense that art was alive again. This was the
aim of the second _cénacle_, the first Bohemians. They were successful,
and they were necessary.

The second _cénacle_ was not a formal organization, so that no definite
date can be fixed for its institution. Its members probably came
together in the same haphazard way as the small bands of friends at a
public school or university, crystallizing so imperceptibly that the
moment of incorporation baffles memory, and often so firmly that death
alone is their solvent. Théophile Gautier, in his fragmentary "Histoire
du Romantisme," has given the fullest details of the _cénacle's_
existence, yet neither he nor his biographer, Maxime du Camp, make it
clear whether it was formed prior or posterior to the famous first night
of "Hernani" in February of 1830. Gautier, no doubt, had forgotten, but
it seems fairly safe to assume that if preliminary acquaintance was
already made between some of its members before that time, the stormy
nights of February strengthened the bond and made the association
compact. The story of "Hernani," with the red waistcoat, _vieil as de
pique_, and other trimmings, has so often been told, even in English,
that it may seem unnecessary to traverse such well-trodden ground; but a
historian has no business to take anything for granted, so that
"Hernani" can be no more justly omitted here than Waterloo from any work
upon Napoleon. It was part of Victor Hugo's agreement with the Théâtre
Français that a number of seats should be at his disposal each night,
and that the holders of the tickets should be admitted some time before
the ordinary public. These were the trenches into which his army of
young men were thrown. Minor officers were entrusted with the task of
bringing the men to the rendezvous, Jules Vabre, an architect, being
responsible for a hundred and fifty men, and Célestin Nanteuil for
almost as large a number. Gérard de Nerval, whose translation of
Goethe's "Faust," published in 1828 (when he was only nineteen), had
brought him considerable fame in Romantic circles, had known Gautier,
who was two years his junior, at the Collège Charlemagne. This amiable
essayist, whom Gautier likened more than once to a swallow, flitting
always in and out among his friends, was not forgetful of his young
friend in the days of recruiting. Gautier was at that time studying
painting in the studio of Rioult, whither Gérard de Nerval made one day
a swallow-like dart and produced six tickets marked with the single but
thrilling word _Hierro_, the Spanish for "iron." According to Maxime du
Camp he gave these to Gautier with the words:

"Tu réponds de tes hommes?"

To him replied Gautier: "Par le crâne dans lequel Byron buvait à
l'Abbaye de Newstead, j'en réponds. N'est-ce pas, vous autres?"

"Mort aux perruques!" resounded in answer through the studio, and Gérard
flitted away content.

Gautier, who was a little better provided with worldly goods than some
of the Romantic army, then set about devising a costume that should
strike death into the heart of the _perruques_. With extreme care he cut
out a pattern of a medieval _pourpoint_--a buttonless waistcoat coming
right up to the collar-bone, and fastening with laces behind like the
uniform of Saint-Simon's disciples, which symbolized mutual assistance,
because no Saint-Simonian could truss his own points. His Gascon
tailor's professional objections were overruled, even though the
material chosen was a gorgeous silk coloured a Chinese vermilion, and
the garment was made as desired: to it were added a pair of light
greenish-grey trousers with a broad stripe of black down each seam, a
black coat with ample _revers_ of velvet, and a flowing cravat. It was
indeed a devastating sight, and one that deservedly became famous. In
this fervent spirit was the battle waged over "Hernani"; for thirty
consecutive performances the trenches were manfully filled and a
fusillade of cheers poured forth at every touch of romantic colour,
every bold _enjambement_, every defiance of classic circumlocution, and,
above all, every sign of disapprobation on the part of those they rudely
styled "wigs" and "bald pates." The battlefield was often a pandemonium,
but the result was victory. The Théâtre Français, the very home of
Molière, was successfully carried by the Romantic assault. Gautier had
magnificently won his spurs, and shortly afterwards he was introduced by
Gérard de Nerval and Pétrus Borel to the great hero himself, an ordeal
which caused him so much trepidation that he sat for over an hour on the
stairs with his two sponsors before he could pluck up courage to
proceed. His fears, however, soon vanished after a cordial reception,
and as his parents were then living next door to Hugo in the splendid
old Place Royale, he soon became the most constant page and attendant of
the poet, for whom he preserved a lifelong devotion.

These were the days of the second _cénacle_, for "Hernani" was the
Hegira of _la vie de Bohème_. During the long waits in the empty
theatre, the passionate mornings of preparation, the fiery reunions
after the curtain had fallen, a set of the most ardent Hugo-worshippers
had found their affinities. They did not indeed live together--some
were dutifully under the parental roof, some had hardly a roof to their
heads, one at least was supporting a mother and sister by daily work in
a government office--but they formed the habit of meeting and spending
many hours of the day and night together and the meeting-place was
either the studio of a young sculptor, Jehan du Seigneur, or the sanded
parlour of the _Petit Moulin Rouge_, in the _rond-point_ of the Arc de
Triomphe. Their names were Pétrus Borel, Joseph Bouchardy, Philothée
O'Neddy, Alphonse Brot, Augustus Mackeat, Jules Vabre, Napoléon Thom,
Jehan du Seigneur, Léon Clopet, Célestin Nanteuil, Théophile Gautier,
and Gérard de Nerval. It is almost needless to say that some of the
names are Gothic transformations in the Romantic fashion. Pétrus Borel
was, of course, christened Pierre, as du Seigneur was christened Jean by
his parents; while Philothée O'Neddy and Augustus Mackeat conceal the
persons of Théophile Dondey and Auguste Maquet. But names in _-us_ or
Celtic patronymics were all the rage, and even Gautier was called
Albertus after his poem of that name published in 1832. A curious
feature about the group was that, though it existed to champion the
cause of Romantic poetry, the only pure man of letters was Gérard de
Nerval. Of the rest, Borel, formerly an architect, was learning to draw
in Dévéria's studio, Thom and Nanteuil were artists, Gautier and
Bouchardy studying art, du Seigneur a sculptor, Clopet and Vabre
architects; O'Neddy and Brot, indeed, were professed poets, but in no
less an embryonic stage than some of the others who afterwards found in
the pen their most successful tool. "This mixture of art in poetry,"
says Gautier, "was and has remained one of the characteristic signs of
the new school, and makes it clear why the first adepts were recruited
rather among the artists than among the men of letters. A multitude of
objects, images, and comparisons which were thought to be irreducible to
the written word were introduced into the language and have stayed
there."[17]

[Illustration: Pétrus Borel]

The one whom Gautier called the _individualité pivotale_ of the group,
though Philothée O'Neddy in after years denied that he had more
influence than Gautier, Gérard, or Bouchardy, was Pétrus Borel, Le
Lycanthrope as he subsequently named himself. His full name was Pierre
Borel d'Hauterive, and he was born in Lyons in 1809. His father,
captured by the revolutionaries in 1792 and then liberated, fled to
Switzerland, whence he returned to Paris, a ruined man, to earn what he
could by keeping a shop. At the age of fifteen Pierre was apprenticed to
an architect, and in 1829 he set up on his own account without much
success. He and Jules Vabre became associated, and so poor were they
that they used to use the cellars of the houses on which they were
engaged as their dwelling-place. Gautier recalled visiting them once in
the cellar of a house in the Rue Fontaine-du-Roi, where they were
preparing their frugal meal of potatoes baked in the ashes. "Ah," said
Vabre with pride, "but we have salt on Sundays." Borel's ideas were too
Gothically fantastic for his _bourgeois_ clients, and, after a violent
dispute over his fourth commission, he ordered the half-finished
building to be demolished, and gave up for ever an ungrateful
profession,[18] betaking himself for a season to the study of painting,
and writing the while those poems animated by a haughty bitterness which
were published under the title of "Rhapsodies." They are dedicated and
addressed to the members of the second _cénacle_, among whom he enjoyed
an enormous reputation. He was for them the poet of the future, before
whom Hugo would crumble to dust. Alas! for youthful predictions; thirty
years later Gautier, the most loyal of Romantics, was forced to exclaim:
"Dire que j'ai cru à Pétrus!"[19] He exercised over the group, in fact,
a kind of unconscious hypnotism. His slightly superior age, his strange,
rough, paradoxical eloquence, and, above all, his picturesque appearance
imposed on them all. Their ideal was to have an _allure fatale_, a
sombre complexion and haughty, Byronic mien. Borel realized it. He
looked like a Castilian nobleman out of a Velasquez picture, says
Gautier, with his "young and serious face, of perfect regularity, an
olive skin gilded with light shades of amber, lit up by great, shining
eyes, sad as those of Abencerrages thinking of Granada," his bright red
lip which shone under his moustache, "one spark of life in that mask of
Oriental immobility," and his fine, full, silky beard perfumed and
tended like that of a sultan, at a time when to wear a beard in Paris
was an outrage to public decency. He was clothed in black, wearing a
high Robespierre waistcoat and draping a long black cloak around him
with an air of studied mystery. How could the younger men, whose beards
refused to grow, not believe in such a perfect symbol, so magnificently
scornful, so profoundly fatal? He was the most republican, too, of them
all, the typical _Bousingot_ of the _bourgeois_ Press, though fanatical
republicanism was not, as Philothée O'Neddy afterwards protested in a
letter to Charles Asselineau, their representative opinion. Gérard had
no political opinions at all, Gautier was obstinately _Jeune-France_,
and the others only dreamt of a social Utopia in which æstheticism
should replace religion, or of some humanitarian millennium after the
manner of Saint-Simon and Fourier. Borel, however, held society in
complete disgust, as he showed when he left the gathering at Jehan du
Seigneur's, and proceeded one summer to live with some followers on the
slopes of Montmartre, all naked as savages, till the landlord drove them
out at the price of his porter's lodge, which they burnt down in
revenge.

None of the others were quite so remarkably individual as Pétrus Borel,
whose character may be described as Jules Claretie describes his book of
extravagant stories, "Champavert": "doubt, negation, bitterness, anger,
something at the same time furious and comic." Vabre, his partner in
architecture, had fair hair and moustaches, without any extravagance in
his bearing, but his face twinkled all over with malice and his
conversation was madly Rabelaisian. He projected a famous book that was
never written, "Sur l'Incommodité des Commodes." An intense love for
Shakespeare was his chief Romantic asset. According to Gautier he gave
up his later life to studying our language in England that he might make
the perfect translation, a task which was never completed. Joseph
Bouchardy, who afterwards became a very successful writer of melodrama,
was then learning engraving. He, too, was dark, so dark that with the
soft, sparse beard that just fringed his face he looked an Indian, and
was nicknamed the Maharajah of Lahore. He was less poetry-mad than the
rest, but eternally occupied with dramatic scenarios in which all the
secret passages, trap-doors, and sliding panels of a novel by Mrs.
Radcliffe were brought into play. Jehan du Seigneur, who made medallions
of all his friends, was a gentle, modest youth with a very
pink-and-white complexion which was his everlasting despair. To atone
for this unavoidable defection from Romantic ideals, he wore a black
velvet _pourpoint_, a black jacket with broad velvet _revers_, and a
voluminous necktie, so that not a speck of white linen was shown, a
"suprème élégance romantique," as Gautier remarks. Augustus Mackeat was
chiefly conspicuous for the happy transformation of his name, though he
returned to the orthodox Maquet when he became a successful playwright.
His disguise, however, was nothing to the tremendous anagram which
turned Théophile Dondey into Philothée O'Neddy. He, says Gautier, was
dark as a mulatto with fair, curly hair. Though he was helping to
support a mother and sister by working in a government office, this
Philistine occupation did not prevent him from being one of the most
frenzied of the gang, a "paroxyst" _ruisselant d'inouïsme_. In 1833 he
published a collection of ultra-romantic poems called "Feu et Flamme,"
which reek with passion, despair, scorn, suicide, and contempt for
Christianity. Yet he lived till 1872, and though he published nothing
more, he left a collection of posthumous poems all of which breathe an
extreme melancholy. In the letter written to Asselineau ten years before
his death he admitted that in the days of the _cénacle_ he had "une
bonne grosse somme d'extravagance et de mauvais goût," but protested
warmly against the application to them of the epithet "ridiculous."
"Risible" they might have been, but only the _bourgeois_ were
"ridiculous." Célestin Nanteuil was big, fair, gentle, and so perfectly
medieval that Gautier caricatured him as Elie Wildman-stadius, the hero
of one of his _Jeune-France_ stories, who lived in a Gothic manor on
medieval fare, read nothing but medieval illuminated manuscripts, and
was killed when the Gothic cathedral, his sole external joy, was struck
by lightning. Gautier describes him personally as having the appearance
of "one of those long angels bearing censers or playing sambucs that
live in the gables of cathedrals, who has come down into the city in the
midst of the busy burgesses, keeping his nimbus all the while at the
back of his head like a hat, but without the least suspicion that it is
not natural to wear one's aureole in the street." He was a furious
Hernanist in 1830 (he was then only seventeen), and called "the
Captain," for leading the army to the fray. In 1843, when he was asked
to bring three hundred young men to support "Les Burgraves" in the same
manner, he sadly said: "Tell the master there are no more young men." He
might, says Maxime du Camp, have been a great painter, but he was
compelled to live by illustrating. Whenever he had made a little money
in this way he returned to his colours and his easel till it was
exhausted. He ended in the obscurity of Dijon, becoming the director of
its school of art.

[Illustration: Célestin Nanteuil]

Maxime du Camp compares Nanteuil's fate to that of Gautier, who was
forced by circumstances to waste so much of his talent in mere
journalism; but in 1830 Gautier, a young man of nineteen, who made long
hair serve instead of a beard, was still free as air. In that year he
brought out a little volume of poems, and a year or two later produced
the fantastic "Albertus," which he followed with "Les Jeune-France." His
art studies had soon ceased because he discovered that he suffered from
short sight, and we may regard him in the days of the _cénacle_ as a
poet pure and simple. One figure remains to be filled in, the most
pathetic of all the Romantic band, Gérard de Nerval. He was born in
1808, the son of a Doctor Labrunie--the family name of de Nerval was
only assumed by him when he began to write. His youth was spent in the
pleasant country of the Valois, and he received a very careful education
from his father, who taught him not only Latin and Greek, but German,
Italian, and the rudiments of Arabic and Persian. Even in his early days
he was an eager reader of mystics and utopists, which gave that first
fantastical turn to his brain which ended later in complete madness. His
development was normal at first. At the Collège Charlemagne he was the
snapper-up of every prize, and produced some quite worthless poetry in
praise of Napoleon that won high approval from his professors. He
followed this by a satire on the Academy, which appeared in 1826, and in
1828 he produced an ode to Béranger of a style to which his Romantic
friends could only have applied the new epithet _poncif_. The
translation of "Faust," which earned a very high compliment from the
great Goethe himself, turned him into his appropriate path and gave him
a serious literary reputation which he never lost. He translated other
fragments of German poetry, and wrote for the _Mercure de France_, of
which Pierre Lacroix, the "Bibliophile Jacob," was then the editor. His
adoption of a literary career was a grave disappointment to his father,
who had hoped to make a good official of him, and it is probable that
parental coldness first caused him to find a congenial asylum in the new
Bohemia, of which he was never a typical inhabitant. When he came of age
he inherited his mother's dowry, which made the actual earning of money
immaterial to him. His success with "Faust" had brought him into touch
with Hugo, so that after the days of "Hernani" he held in the _cénacle_
the most distinguished, if not the most influential, position as a
lieutenant of their demi-god, with notable achievements in the field of
letters already to his credit.

Gérard threw in his lot with the _cénacle_, but, though he even wrote
some revolutionary poems in 1830, for which he was imprisoned in Sainte
Pélagie, he was never quite at ease with Borel and the _Bousingot_
faction. The flamboyant side of Romanticism and its noisy gatherings had
little appeal for him. He was an eccentric and a solitary by nature, as
his writings, with their strong reminiscence of Heine, show. In the time
of the _cénacle_ he was, according to Gautier, a gentle and modest young
man, who blushed like a girl, with a pink-and-white complexion and
soft, grey eyes. Under his fine, light golden hair his forehead,
beautifully shaped, shone like polished ivory. He was usually dressed in
a black frock-coat with enormous pockets, in which, like Murger's
Colline, he buried a whole library of books picked up on the _quais_,
five or six notebooks, and a large collection of scraps of paper on
which he wrote down the ideas that occurred to him on his long walks. He
was the perfect peripatetic: as he once said, he would have liked to
walk through life unrolling an endless roll of paper on which he could
jot his reflections. He lived at this time with Camille Rogier, the
artist, in the Rue des Beaux Arts, but his friends could never be sure
where to find him. For him no hour was sacred to rest. He wandered about
Paris at all times of the day and night, dropping in on a friend for an
hour or two, ready to ride a hobby-horse with him in any direction, then
darting off again, his thoughts in the clouds, nobody knew whither, and
returning in the small hours, only to flit from his bed at the dawn. Of
all the gay companions of Bohemia he was the best loved, for his
childlike simplicity and his gentle manners won all hearts. He went
through life to his terrible death with complete unworldliness, almost
like a ghost, unconscious of the material side of existence, directing
his feet only by the light of his spirit. Gautier, writing after his
death, protested vehemently that his was no ordinary tragedy of
neglected genius; he had money enough, but money was nothing to him, so
he spent it without a thought; his work was always accepted by editors,
and his plays, though not successful, were all produced. But success was
the last of his preoccupations. He was a wanderer living in a world of
his own fantasies. As he will appear again in these pages, we may bid
him farewell for the moment, with the conviction that it would be
pleasant to be transported for a season back to that turbulent _vie de
Bohème_ if only to find the kindly Gérard's arm passed through one's own
and to hear his gentle murmur: "Tu as une fantaisie; je la promènerai
avec toi."

I ought, perhaps, to apologize for allowing the persons of the _cénacle_
to take up so much space before coming to their life, yet I imagine, on
the whole, that I have said too little rather than too much. To go back
to a past of which one has no experience is a matter of such extreme
difficulty that a historian must often despair at the impossibility of
reproducing the whole congeries of scattered detail from which alone his
own mental picture could have taken shape. The first Bohemia, that of
the second _cénacle_, was less a common life than a common recreation.
It was an incomplete _vie de Bohème_ in so far as its members were
united, not by a desire to share all the joys and difficulties of life,
but by a particular artistic enthusiasm. There is no record that any of
them worked or dwelt together, that they took part in joint expeditions
of amusement, or that the mutual acquaintance of those female
divinities for whom they plied so "fatally" their emotional bellows is
to be presumed--and these are marked characteristics of Murger's _vie de
Bohème_. When they ate together it was at the obscure _cabaret_ kept by
the Neapolitan Graziano for the needs of his compatriots who worked in
Paris. Here, in a plain whitewashed room with a sanded floor, a dresser
covered with violently coloured faience and plain wooden benches, they
were initiated by their host--a man of senatorial presence, with an
immense but perfectly correct nose and big black beard, who seemed to
dream all the while of his beloved Italy--into the delights of
_spaghetti_, _stufato_, _tagliarini_, and _gnocchi_. They were delicious
meals, seasoned with good spirits, and--to use the delightful French
phrase--"bedewed" with sound wine of Argenteuil or Suresnes christened
magnificently with the names of the most exclusive vineyards in Médoc or
Burgundy. Still, they were felt at times to be a trifle wanting in
Romantic glamour. It was all very well, the grumblers remarked, to be
enjoying incomparable macaroni, but when all was said and done there was
little that an impartial observer could descry in these banquets to
differentiate them from the prosaic meals of a Joseph Prudhomme.
Something was wanting, some tincture of the Newstead spirit, some
infernal joy in the food, some shudder in the drinking. The macaroni
remained obstinately matter-of-fact, but a brilliant idea was mooted
that would give a charnel flavour to the wine. Graziano's glasses were
only glasses of quite modern exiguousness; the true brotherhood should
drink out of a skull. A skull was accordingly procured by Gérard from
his father, the doctor, and ingeniously mounted by Gautier, who screwed
to its side an old brass handle from a chest of drawers. In truth it was
a noble bowl, and the pious company drank from it with bravado, each
concealing with more or less ill-success his natural repugnance.
Familiarity, however, bred contempt, till one uncompromising youth
surprised his companions by noisily commanding the waiter to fill with
sea-water.

"Why sea-water?" exclaimed a simple soul.

"Why sea-water! Because the master in 'Hans d'Islande' says 'he drank
the water of the sea from the skulls of the dead.' It is my desire to do
the same."

Yes, the _Petit Moulin Rouge_, for all its good cheer and its
death's-head mounted with a drawer-handle, was too workaday for these
eclectics. They reached their true glory only in the gatherings which
took place in Jehan du Seigneur's studio. It was a room over a little
fruiterer's shop that the _cénacle_ sanctified as their conventicle. "In
a little chamber," wrote an older Gautier, "which had not seats enough
for all its occupants, gathered the young men, really young and
different in that respect from the _young_ men of to-day, who are all
more or less quinquagenarians. The hammock in which the master of the
dwelling took his siesta, the narrow couchlet in which the dawn often
surprised him at the last page of a book of verses, eked out the
insufficiency of conveniences for conversation. One really talked better
standing up, and the gestures of the orator or declaimer only gained a
more ample scope. Still, it was extremely unwise to make too free with
your arms for fear of knocking your knuckles against the sloping
ceiling." It was a poor man's room, but not without ornament, for it
contained sketches by the two Dévérias, a head after Titian or Giorgione
by Boulanger, two earthenware vases full of flowers on the chimneypiece,
the inevitable death's-head instead of a clock, a looking-glass, and a
small shelf of books. On either side of the glass and in the embrasures
of the windows were hung the portrait medallions which Jehan made of his
friends. They had no money to get them cast in bronze, so the world has
lost in them a valuable appendix to the well-known busts of his
contemporaries executed by the more distinguished Romantic sculptor,
David d'Angers. Here they would all gather of an evening: Gérard if he
happened to be passing in his amiable wanderings, Bouchardy the
Maharajah, Gautier--not yet the burly critic of _La Presse_, but a thin
youth of nineteen--Nanteuil with his Gothic nimbus, Vabre bursting with
some new joke, Borel swinging off his long cloak with a scowl, O'Neddy
shedding Dondey in the street, Mackeat and the rest, each bursting with
eloquence or roaring the "Chasse du Burgrave" at the top of his voice.
When Maxime du Camp once asked Gautier what they talked about, he
answered: "About everything, but I haven't the least idea what they
said, because everybody talked at once." However, a very good idea of a
typical evening in the _cénacle_ is given in Philothée O'Neddy's "Feu et
Flamme," the first poem in which, called "Pandæmonium," is a gorgeous
description of their cave of harmony. It is freely decorated with "local
colour," which on a Romantic's lips meant the borrowing of all he could
carry away from the medieval stage-property room, but it was drawn from
life with all seriousness and sincerity. The poem opens by depicting
them all seated round the punch-bowl--punch, it must be stated, was the
only really respectable drink for a thorough-paced Romantic. He mixed it
in a large bowl and set light to the fumes, as the students are supposed
to do in the first act of the "Contes d'Hoffmann," and derived enormous
satisfaction from sitting in an obscurity only lit by this bluish flame.
Thus to recall the witches' cauldron and the fires of the Inferno had an
unfailing success as a stimulant to eloquence. The scene, then, opens
thus powerfully:

    _Au centre de la salle, autour d'une urne en fer,_
    _Digne émule en largeur des coupes d'enfer,_
    _Dans laquelle un beau punch, aux prismatiques flammes,_
    _Semble un lac sulfureux qui fait houler ses lames,_
    _Vingt jeunes hommes, tous artistes dans le cœur,_
    _La pipe ou le cigare aux lèvres, l'œil moqueur,_
    _Le temporal orné du bonnet de Phrygie,_
    _En barbe Jeune-France, en costume d'orgie,_
    _Sont pachalesquement jetés sur un amas_
    _De coussins dont maint siècle a troué le damas,_
    _Et le sombre atelier n'a point d'éclairage_
    _Que la gerbe du punch, spiritueux mirage._

Smoking, it would be well to add, was considered part of the whole duty
of a Romantic man. The cigar, being Byronic, was affected by the
"fatally" inclined; the pipe came, not from England, but from Germany;
it was Faust-like, Hoffmannesque; it was also Flemish, of course, and
the Flemish painters, like Steen and Teniers, were in high repute. A
pipe signified a more jolly potatory spirit than a cigar, but it was
always possible for the irreconcilable satanics to regard the breathing
out of smoke from either as symbolically demoniac. The cigarette was not
despised, but its popularity was due also to its picturesque
associations. Spain was the home of the cigarette, the _papelito_ as
Borel and his friends fondly called it. When they rolled their fragrant
Maryland lovingly in the _papel_ they assumed a Spanish _allure_,
Granada rose before their eyes, and invisible guitars played "Avez-vous
vu dans Barcelone?" However, cigarettes would have been out of place in
the prismatic flames of the punch-bowl. Their Spanish nonchalance suited
better the light of day: evening shadows were consecrated to gloom and
frenzy, Northern spirits. Hence it is not surprising to hear that all
the company had

    _De haine virulente et de pitié morose_
    _Contre la bourgeoisie et le Code et la prose;_
    _Des cœurs ne dépensant leur exultation_
    _Que pour deux vérités, l'art et la passion!_

The conversation is compared with some aptitude to a Spanish town
devastated by an earthquake, which confounds in one ruin palaces and
huts, churches and houses of ill-fame. So in their talk the ideal and
the grotesque, poetry and cynical jesting are confounded pell-mell.
Silence is made while a passage from Victor Hugo is declaimed, after
which four discourses are pronounced. Three are by Borel, Clopet, and
Bouchardy respectively, concealed in the names of Reblo, Noel, and Don
José, and the second discourse is delivered by the swarthy O'Neddy
himself, who,

        _Faisant osciller son regard de maudit_
    _Sur le conventicule,_

pours out a passionate complaint that poets have too long been under the
yoke of governments and codes of law. The evening closes with a violent
tumult. The punch has done its work, and the _cénacle_ is a-screaming
with the ecstasy of energumens.

    _Ce fut un long chaos de jurons, de boutades,_
    _De hurrahs, de tollés et de rhodomontades._

They danced and sang like the demon crew in the master's "Ronde du
Sabbat,"

    _Et jusques au matin les damnés Jeune-Frances_
    _Nagèrent dans un flux d'indicibles démences._

It is to be hoped that the worthy fruiterer was sleeping quietly in
another part of Paris, and only the potatoes were kept awake and sleep
banished from the pears.

If at this point our reader feels inclined to throw up his hands and
exclaim "How disgusting!" he will be well advised to put down the book.
One cannot approach Bohemia without a certain sympathy for youthful
excesses, howsoever opposed they may be to one's personal predilections.
If the _cénacle_ indulged in occasional orgies--which, even allowing a
good deal for "local colour" in O'Neddy's "Pandæmonium," they certainly
did--they had a great many compensating virtues, such as complete
disinterestedness and a consuming love of art, which were not
conspicuous in Paris at the time. Maxime du Camp in his memoir on
Gautier sets the extreme limit to which reasonable criticism of them
can go when, after remarking on the promise given by a violent youth for
a fruitful middle age, he says:

     "From that should we conclude that the young men who composed the
     _cénacle_ were all destined to become great men? Certainly not;
     there were among them dreamers with illusions about themselves,
     sterile dupes of the comedy that they played, failures in whose
     case the brilliant future which they promised themselves fell
     naturally into obscurity. To more than one of them the saying of
     Rivarol could have been applied: 'It is a terrible advantage never
     to have done anything, but it should not be abused.' In short, only
     one of them has made a name that will not perish: Théophile
     Gautier. Gérard de Nerval, by whom he had been distanced at the
     beginning of his life, never passed a very moderate level, did not
     push his way in the crowd, and came early to grief. On the other
     hand, most of them were celebrated in the group, I might say in the
     _coterie_, to which they belonged, but their reputation never went
     beyond the circle in which they lived."

Maxime du Camp takes a very superior point of view which is less than
just. The members of the _cénacle_, it may be admitted, overrated one
another's talents and were ready, in some instances, to take posturing
for performance; but Bohemia is not to be blamed because all her
children were not great men any more than Eton because all her _alumni_
are not scholars. As a matter of fact, in this first Bohemia of the
_cénacle_ there were very few of whom it could be said that their lives
were ruined. Gérard died a violent death, but he was afflicted with
mental disease. Apart from his eccentricity he was a scholar and a
gentleman whose attainments equalled those of Gautier himself, though he
could not bring himself to exploit them. Pétrus Borel was the one real
failure, the _poseur_ who inevitably came to grief. His Bohemian career
reached its apogee at his masked ball in 1832--a caricature of Dumas'
own famous ball--held at his lodgings in the Rue d'Enfer, an appropriate
address. He left Paris shortly afterwards, and, after earning for some
years a precarious livelihood and publishing "Madame Putiphar," he
became an inspector of Mostaganem, in Algeria, in which country he died
wretchedly. The rest, though they did not quite achieve their proud
dreams, continued, most of them, in the paths of art with rectitude and
some success, Bouchardy and Maquet as dramatists, du Seigneur as a
sculptor, Nanteuil as an artist. O'Neddy, once the _cénacle_ dissolved,
as it did towards 1833, found poetry a resource in solitude, and poor
Vabre, if he made no figure in the world, at least set himself the
highest of ideals in devoting his life to the study of Shakespeare.

The first Bohemia, for what that is worth, was singularly respectable in
its results. Even had they been far worse, sufficient praise to stifle
carping would be found in the indelibly beautiful memory which it left
on the minds of its members. In 1857 Bouchardy wrote of it to Gautier in
these words:

     "It was a holy and beautiful comradeship, my dear Théo, in which
     each was the loving brother, the devoted friend, the
     fellow-traveller who makes his friend forget the length and the
     fatigue of the road. It was a more beautiful comradeship than one
     can say, in which all wished the success of all without insensate
     exaggeration and without collective vanity, in which each of us
     offered to lend his shoulder to the foot of him who wished to climb
     and to reach his goal.... It was a happy time, dear Théophile, of
     which we ought to be proud, for when one has traversed this life so
     often saddened by so much bitterness, we ought to be proud of
     having found in it some hours of joy, we ought to boast of having
     been happy!"

Even Maxime du Camp admits that the effect of the _cénacle_ on Gautier
was incalculable: its disinterested friendship and its enthusiasm made
his individuality. All his life he remained "the mystic companion of
Victor Hugo's first disciples." Weighed down in after years by the
irksome tasks of journalism, the slave who remembered his years of
freedom with regret, he responded to Bouchardy with tender melancholy
from beside the rivers of Babylon:

     "No doubt such joy could not last. To be young and intelligent, to
     love one another, to understand and commune in every realm of
     art--a more beautiful manner of life could not be conceived, and
     from the eyes of all those who followed it its dazzling splendour
     has never been obliterated."

At another time he wrote to Sainte-Beuve: "Nous étions ivres du beau,
nous avons eu la sublime folie de l'art."

These words, issuing from a soul ever animated during its days on earth
by a Bohemian spirit, cast a protecting spell round the memory of the
first Bohemian brotherhood through which no Philistine anathemas can
break.



VIII

LA BOHÈME GALANTE

    _O le beau temps passé! Nous avions la science,_
    _La science de vivre avec insouciance;_
    _La gaieté rayonnait en nos esprits moqueurs,_
    _Et l'Amour écrivait des livres dans nos cœurs!_

          ARSÈNE HOUSSAYE


The _cénacle_ broke up towards 1833 and its members scattered. All
Bohemian _coteries_ must be short-lived, but this one was specially
doomed to a quick dissolution. It was, I will not say too romantic, but
too romantically ritualistic, too much concerned with the vestments and
incense and celebrations incident to the profession of "Hugolâtry." It
is not hard to imagine how the too mystic significance given to its
gatherings, its feasts, and even its individual actions became to some
of the brethren, now that Romanticism was firmly established, either
unreal or merely tiresome: divergences of taste and opinion began to
creep in till, in the end, this attempted Bohemia became a deserted
shrine. But the Bohemian spirit could not thus be quenched; indeed, it
was only then fully kindled. The deacons and acolytes, whom the mere
symbolism had mainly attracted, were gone; paid off the Swiss Guard
whom the return of peace called back to civil life. Those who remained,
the most advanced of the initiated, saw that the time had come for the
casting away of symbols and the cessation of noisy worship. Bohemia had
originated in a literary creed, but in its consummation it was to pass
beyond the letter and take hold of human life. This consummation came
with extraordinary rapidity; there were no feeble tentatives, no
half-successes. A new community arose in Paris, almost out of the ashes
of the _cénacle_, vastly different though it was from the obscure group
in Jehan du Seigneur's humble studio. It was animated by all that was
best in Romanticism--its disregard for academic convention, its colour,
its joyousness, its warmth of feeling, and its sympathy with all human
passions; but, unlike the _cénacle_, it did not trammel itself with
Romantic convention, it set creation above imitation, and--greatest of
all differences--it was no society meeting at intervals for spiritual
and corporeal refreshment, but a genuine life in common lived just for
the sake of living by a set of high-spirited, joyous young men, most of
them true artists, neither maniacs, nor ne'er-do-wells, nor idlers. The
_cénacle_ was dead, but _la vie de Bohème_ was born, and its golden age
came first. The brotherhood of the Impasse du Doyenné was, in A.
Delvau's words, "une Bohème dorée, avec laquelle celle de Schaunard n'a
que des rapports très éloignés."[20] Delvau, who was of Murger's
generation, knew well how quickly the glory departed. Yet at least
Murger's Bohemians had this connexion with what Gérard de Nerval named
_la Bohème galante_ that they could look back to it as the Romans to the
reign of Saturn. It was constituted informally, even fortuitously; it
existed without self-advertisement, but it remained, in the phrase of
another French writer, "la patrie de toutes les Bohèmes littéraires."

In 1832 another Bohemian of the golden age had come to Paris, a brave
and merry soul called Arsène Houssaye, who had only breathed this
terrestrial atmosphere for seventeen years. It was not to champion a
cause that he came, but he was called thither by the poet within him to
take his part in infusing a new vitality into life and letters. Like
Gautier, he was a natural _enfant de Bohème_, yet did not at first find
the brotherhood which he was to hymn in prose and verse; it was still
only a potentiality. For a few months he lived in an odd little Bohemia
of his own with a friend called Van dell Hell in a _hôtel garni_. They
wrote songs for a living, wore the red hats by which the more violent
students of the Quartier Latin proclaimed their republicanism, and
consoled themselves for the rebuffs of editors with the smiles of a
certain "Nini yeux noirs." Houssaye in those amusing volumes which he
called "Les Confessions" bears witness to the deplorable state of the
literary market at the time. Novels and plays could not be sold, poetry
was not wanted as a gift, and the newspapers regarded mere men of
letters as too frivolous for employment. Poverty among the struggling
writers was acute, but nobody cared a fig about money when all cared so
much about art--a merciful dispensation of Providence. Yet, if
commercialism did not affect art, the same can hardly be said of
politics. Far too many of the young poets and artists, who would have
scorned to drive a mercenary bargain at the expense of their art,
exulted in defiling their artistic convictions with the reddest and most
insensate republicanism, not seeing that if art does not need to regard
gold pieces, neither does it need to trouble itself whether a king's
head or a cap of liberty is their stamp. Arsène Houssaye, careless
wretch, nearly missed the glory of Bohemia entirely by mixing himself up
in the insurrection of the Cloître Saint-Merri. He was arrested, but a
friendly commissary of police saved him from trial and imprisonment by
sending him home to his wealthy, loyal, and scandalized family. The
ungrateful lad, instead of settling down to some solid profession,
simply bided his time till the disturbance was over, and returned to
Paris, only so far profiting by his warning that he left politics
henceforth to look after themselves. Houssaye's father, worthy man, felt
that money would be thrown away on such a ruffian, so Arsène was left to
his own resources, which, if they were meagre in early days, kept him
alive for another sixty-three years.

Bohemia was not to be baulked a second time. The elements were present,
and all that remained to do was for somebody to give them a slight push,
such as Lucretius gave to his atoms. The push occurred at the Salon of
1833, if Houssaye is to be believed--a condition not inevitably
fulfilled. There, one fine day, he met Théophile Gautier and Nestor
Roqueplan, the former of whom was certainly a stranger to him. A genial
conversation on the merits of the pictures ensued, in which Arsène
Houssaye made, as he was destined to do, a very good impression upon his
senior. Gautier was not a man to leave hazard any further part after
such a promising beginning, and he accordingly proffered an invitation
to _déjeuner_ next day in the words: "Je te surinvite à venir déjeuner
invraisemblablement demain chez les auteurs de mes jours." Houssaye
turned up next day at No. 8 Place Royale, where the irrepressible Théo
introduced his father as "le respectable bonhomme qui me donna l'être."
The other guest at this _déjeuner_ was Gérard de Nerval, whom with true
instinct Gautier had brought to test and to embrace the newly found
brother. The wit and gaiety, the range and the emphasis of their
postprandial conversation can be imagined. At last Théo blurted out
frankly: "Tu sais que je ne te connais pas: dis-moi huit vers de toi, je
le dirai qui tu es." It was not a test which the future author of
"Vingt Ans" feared. Gautier found himself able to give an enthusiastic
account of the new brother; the two truest Bohemians in Paris were at
once bosom friends, and the most wayward of geniuses was a friend of
both.

So far the credit had been with Gautier, but Bohemia was still without a
dwelling-place, and in this matter Gérard de Nerval deserved pious
mention in the Bohemian bidding prayer, for it was owing to him that _la
Bohème galante_ found a home suitable to the golden age, a unique
setting which posterity could remember but never reproduce. It was a
rare opportunity, and it might almost be supposed that fortune,
approving of Théo's first amiable push, advanced willingly another step,
making peripatetic Gérard her tool. In the course of his wanderings he
had become acquainted with one of the most singular regions in all
Paris, no sign of which remains to-day. Hardly a visitor to Paris omits
a look into the Louvre, but very few know that as they walk from the
statue of Gambetta to the entrance of the galleries they are crossing
the site that Bohemia in its florescence made memorable. On that spot
there stood in 1833 part of an older Paris, which in intention had long
been cleared away, but in fact remained another twenty years. Those who
have read Balzac's "Cousine Bette" have made its acquaintance, though I
should wager that the majority of them have taken it for granted with
other of Balzac's topographical details. Let me recall to them the
sinister quarter where Cousine Bette, at the opening of the story,
cherishes the young sculptor Steinbock and makes the acquaintance of the
infamous Monsieur and Madame Marneffe. With his practised touch for
tragic effect Balzac describes it thus:

     "The existence of the block of houses which runs alongside of the
     old Louvre is one of those protests which the French people like to
     make against good sense, so that Europe may be reassured as to the
     grain of intelligence accorded them and may fear them no more....
     Anybody who comes towards the Rue de la Musée from the wicket
     leading to the Pont du Carrousel ... may notice some half-score of
     houses with ruined façades, which the discouraged owners never
     repair, and which are the residue of an ancient quarter in course
     of demolition ever since Napoleon resolved to complete the Louvre.
     The Rue and Impasse de Doyenné are the only streets within this
     sombre, deserted block, the inhabitants of which are probably
     phantoms, for one never sees a soul there.... These houses, buried
     already by the raising of the Place [du Carrousel], are enveloped
     in the eternal shadow projected by the high galleries of the
     Louvre, which are blackened on this side by the north wind. The
     darkness, the silence, the chilly air, the cavernous depth of the
     ground combine to make these houses kinds of crypts, living tombs.
     When one passes in a cabriolet along this dead half-quarter, and
     one's look penetrates the little alley de Doyenné, a chill strikes
     one's soul, and one wonders who can live there and what must
     happen there in the evening when that alley changes into a den of
     cut-throats, and the vices of Paris, wrapped in the mantle of
     night, flourish at their height."

This can hardly be called an engaging description, and even Bohemians,
it might be supposed, would shrink from such a dreadful slum. But Balzac
was writing in 1847, more than ten years after Bohemia had left it, and
he was making a protest against the continued existence of this quarter,
which had probably deteriorated since the days when he sent there
himself to offer Gautier work on the _Chronique de Paris_. However,
whether Balzac was right in making the Rue du Doyenné an inferno or was
only touching it up with livid tones appropriate to Cousine Bette and
the Marneffes, it was certainly a more smiling spot in 1833. True, it
was tumbling down, and lay below the level of the Place du Carrousel, in
the midst of mournful débris, between the Louvre and the Tuileries,
which Napoleon had meant to join after sweeping it away; the houses, as
Gautier says,[21] were old and dark, repairs to them were forbidden, and
they had the air of regretting the days when respectable canons and
advocates were their inhabitants. Yet it was not a den of thieves by any
means. Gérard[22] records that many _attachés_ and Government officials
lived in the quarter, and that by the Place du Carrousel there was a
collection of temporary wooden shops let out to curiosity dealers and
print-sellers. It was enlivened, too, by the presence of a little Dutch
beer-house served by a Flemish maid of considerable attractions. The
view from the upper windows included, naturally, the heaps of stones,
the rubbish, with the nettles and the dock-leaves by which Nature tries
to cover such deformities at once; but it also included a good many
trees, and the ruins of a delightful old priory, with one arch, two or
three pillars, and the end of a colonnade still standing. This was the
Priory of Doyenné, the dome of which, according to Gérard, fell one day
in the seventeenth century upon eleven luckless canons who were
celebrating the office. Its ruins stood out gracefully against the
trees, and of a summer morning or evening, when, amid the peaceful
silence of this forgotten corner, the bright rays of the Parisian sun
lit up the lichen on its stones and a fresh breeze from the neighbouring
Seine gently swayed the branches of its framing trees, it must have been
well to be a-leaning out of a window.

However, Gérard de Nerval did more than find a quiet, romantic corner
hidden away in the busy heart of Paris with a ruined priory to give
distinction to its prospect; he also found an appropriate dwelling. In
one of the old houses of the Impasse du Doyenné there was a set of rooms
remarkable for its _salon_. It was a huge room, decorated in the
old-fashioned Pompadour style with grooved panellings, pier-glasses,
and a fantastically moulded ceiling. This decoration had for a long time
been the despair of its owner and had driven away all prospective
tenants, the taste for curiosities being at that time undeveloped. In
vain had the landlord parcelled it out with party walls; it was still
mouldering on his hands when Gérard came thither on one of his
swallow-flights. He at once persuaded the good-natured Camille Rogier to
transfer his household gods from the Rue des Beaux-Arts, the party walls
were knocked down, and Bohemia entered on its ideal home. Gérard had
still some of his patrimony left, and chose to expend it upon his one
hobby, the collection of pictures and furniture. It was a golden time
for the collector. Society had as yet not learned to appreciate old
works of art, dealers were not too well informed, and the depredations
of the Bande Noire, that, under the Restoration, had sacked so many
ancient ecclesiastical foundations, had brought a large quantity of
precious old furniture, tapestries, and fabrics into the curiosity shops
of Paris. Gérard had acquired a wonderful canopied Renaissance bed
ornamented with salamanders, a Médicis console, a sideboard decorated
with nymphs and satyrs, three of each, and oval paintings on its doors,
a tapestry delineating the four seasons, some medieval chairs and Gothic
stools, a Ribeira--a death of Saint Joseph--and two superb panels by
Fragonard, "L'Escarpolette" and "Colin Maillard," which last he had
bought for fifty francs the pair. It was a magnificent studio, worthy of
_la Bohème galante_. There was no question of bare attics on a sixth
story, their tiny windows looking on a dreary sea of roofs, of rickety
chairs and peeling wall-paper. In spite of its bare floors, its faded
colours, its chipped corners, and the incongruous presence of plain
easels among its ancient splendours, its riches were princely. Bohemian
disorder might reign among paints and palette-knives, ends of paper
inscribed with scraps of verse might dot its unswept floor, the _débris_
of eating and drinking might litter the seats on which fastidious
cavaliers once delicately sat, but no realities of a careless existence
could spoil its romantic atmosphere. Without its merry clan of
inhabitants, no doubt, it would have seemed odd and ghostly; yet if they
brought back to it the necessary colour of youth, it tinged, in turn,
their life with a patina of old gold that never faded from their
reminiscences.

[Illustration: A Festivity in the Impasse du Doyenné]

Camille Rogier was the real lessee, and Gérard his sub-tenant. Gautier
had a couple of rooms in the Rue du Doyenné, which cut the Impasse
crosswise. These at first were the only permanent inhabitants of the new
colony, but the great _salon_ where Rogier and Gautier worked soon
became a meeting-place for a number of friends. Work was stopped at five
o'clock, when Arsène Houssaye was certain to appear, Roger de Beauvoir,
then in his most brilliant day, half Bohemian, half _viveur_, and
Edmond Ourliac, the future dramatist. One evening Houssaye, Roger de
Beauvoir, and Ourliac stayed talking till dawn; Roger departed then to
his more sumptuous apartments, Ourliac to his parents' house in the Rue
Saint Roch, but Arsène Houssaye stayed, on Rogier's invitation, to
complete the inner conclave of Bohemia. His camp-bed was sent for next
day, and he became Rogier's second tenant, paying him indeed no money,
but spending, in revenge, chance gifts from home on luxurious feasts at
the Frères Provençaux.

Such a society in such a setting could not long remain unknown. With its
circle of guests widening it grew in importance, for in this golden age
Bohemia could be important without losing its quality. Gavarni, the
inimitable portrayer of Parisian types, Nanteuil, Châtillon, Marilhat,
even Delacroix, were among the artists who found the gaiety of the
Impasse du Doyenné to their taste; Pétrus Borel looked haggardly in
occasionally; the great Dumas would rush in and out like a storm; the
Roqueplans, Camille and Nestor, showed there in moments spared from
their more elegant wanderings; and the effervescent Roger de Beauvoir as
gaily composed there his witty rhymes as at a supper in the Café de
Paris. It was no hole-and-corner Bohemia at which the superior person
could affect to turn up his nose; it was a truly artistic centre in
Paris and, at the same time, a _coterie_ admission to which was
jealously enough guarded to exclude the half-baked dilettante who is the
ruin of most artistic sets and the very negation of Bohemia. For a
reason which will be obvious in the sequel, ladies with leanings to
artistic society--another impossibility in Bohemia--were equally
debarred from appearing. It was a more or less closely knit society of
young and gifted men, lovers of the beautiful, despisers of convention
without _gasconnade_, neither rich nor desperately poor, avid of
pleasure, and fashioning their conduct easily upon the standards of the
day, yet crowning all their hours, even the most wanton, with a graceful
and light-hearted idealism that shields these pagan heroes of a golden
age from any but an æsthetic judgment, a judgment which, in the case of
their own countrymen, they confronted with serene self-confidence.

In all, the group was fairly large: its membership radiated dimly as far
as the "dandies" on the boulevard and into the obscurer depths of the
Quartier Latin. But radiation was from a central nucleus--the original
Bohemian brethren whose home was in the Impasse du Doyenné: Camille
Rogier, Gérard de Nerval, Théophile Gautier, Arsène Houssaye, and Edmond
Ourliac. The rest were visitors, but they alone were the true dwellers
in _la Bohème galante_. Of their brotherhood and its life Gautier,
Gérard, and Houssaye have all given glimpses, which compose a picture
apt for pleasing and, occasionally, envious contemplation. Arsène
Houssaye in his "Confessions" is the fullest source of reminiscence, and
his words are delightfully illustrated by the poem, originally entitled
"Vingt Ans," but in his complete works "La Bohème de Doyenné." The poem,
addressed to Gautier, begins:

    _Théo, te souviens-tu de ces vertes saisons_
    _Qui s'effeuillaient si vite en ces vieilles maisons_
    _Dont le front s'abritait sous une aile du Louvre?_
    _Levons avec Rogier le voile qui les couvre,_
    _Reprenons dans nos cœurs les trésors enfouis,_
    _Plongeons dans le passé nos regards éblouis._

    _Chimères aux cils noirs, Espérances fanées,_
    _Amis toujours chantants, Amantes profanées,_
    _Songes venus du ciel, flottantes Visions,_
    _Sortez de vos tombeaux, jeunes Illusions!_
    _Et nous rebâtirons ce château périssable_
    _Que les destins changeants ont jeté sur le sable:_

    _Replaçons le sofa sous les tableaux flamands;_
    _Dispersons à nos pieds gazettes et romans;_
    _Ornons le vieux bahut de vieilles porcelaines,_
    _Et faisons refleurir roses et marjolaines;_
    _Qu'un rideau de damas ombrage encore ces lits_
    _Où nos jeunes amours se sont ensevelis._

Gautier, Gérard, and Houssaye have already been introduced, but a word
must be said of the other two. Camille Rogier, who was as old as
Gérard, was in Houssaye's opinion the most charming man in the world.
Already an artist of some repute, he alone of the brotherhood was
earning a living by his art--even more than a living, for was he not
rich enough to buy riding-boots and wear coats of pink velvet? It was
his departure for Constantinople in 1836, where he remained eight years
painting the Eastern scenes which won him his chief fame, that caused
the disruption of this Bohemian colony. Besides his mastery of the brush
he was a very agreeable singer of _chansons_ and ballads. Ourliac did
not live in the Impasse du Doyenné, but with his parents in the Rue
Saint Roch, and filled a small post in the office of the "Enfants
Trouvés" which brought him £48 a year. But he never failed to call on
his way to work in the morning, to recount a merry story, and on his way
home he stayed with them many an hour. He, who in Houssaye's lines,

           _gai convive, arrivait en chantant_
    _Ces chansons de Bagdad que Beauvoir aimait tant,_

was the merriest of all the band, its Molière, says Houssaye elsewhere,
ever sparkling with wit, an inexhaustible _raconteur_ of inimitable
dramatic power. He was a poet, too, a great student of German
philosophy, and was at the time working upon "Suzanne," the first work
which made his name heard in the world of literature.

It was a jolly life in the Impasse, though money was plentiful but
rarely, and fortune had still to be wooed. They rose early in the
morning, even after a bacchic evening, and when Théo joined them all
four would set to their work, while the Pompadour _salon_ was hardly yet
awake in the morning sun, each singing the air which the new day found
lingering in his head. Théo always painted or drew before he began to
write, but his serious task was the composition of "Mademoiselle de
Maupin," that masterpiece which was completed, sold for a beggarly £60,
and published in the joyous days of Doyenné. Rogier was illustrating
Hoffmann's "Tales" and Houssaye writing "La Pécheresse."

     "L'un écrivait au coin du feu, l'autre rimait dans un hamac; Théo,
     tout en caressant les chats, calligraphiait d'admirables chapitres,
     couché sur le ventre; Gérard, toujours insaisissable, allait et
     venait avec la vague inquiétude des chercheurs qui ne trouvent
     pas."[23]

Gérard, his part in the foundation of _la Bohème galante_ performed,
felt under no compulsion to confine himself to the nest. His companions,
indeed, saw little of his amiable countenance, for he wandered
ceaselessly, often only returning when the night sky grew pale, to leave
before it was fairly blue. He had a task, nevertheless, and that task
was connected with his great romance. It is a story as pathetic as
Charles Lamb's second love affair, and the woman who won his heart was
also an actress. In the days of the _cénacle_ Gérard had fallen
desperately in love with Jenny Colon, of the Opéra Comique, an actress
of not more than ordinary talent. It was a passion that went to the very
roots of his being, an infatuation enriched by all his romantic
mysticism. She was the goddess who ruled his dreams by night and day,
and it was for her in anticipation that Gérard purchased his wonderful
Renaissance bed with its salamanders and carved pillars. No room that
Gérard ever possessed was large enough to hold this bed, which was
always lodged with his friends, first in the Impasse, and then in other
parts of Paris. They respected his frenzy, for the bed never had an
occupant, and they kept it sacred till its deluded owner was obliged by
straitened circumstances to part with it. Gérard's bed was the epitome
of his life--a search for a phantom that his brain itself had fashioned.
His Jenny Colon was a phantom, but the real Jenny, though her vulgar
heart was unmoved by a shy poet's awkward homage, was not unwilling to
accept his services. Commenting himself, in "La Bohème Galante," on
Arsène Houssaye's stanza:

    _"D'où vous vient, ô Gérard! cet air académique?_
    _Est-ce que les beaux yeux de l'Opéra Comique_
    _S'allumeraient ailleurs? La reine de Saba,_
    _Qui du roi Salomon entre vos bras tomba,_
    _Ne serait-elle plus qu'une vaine chimère?"_[24]
    _Et Gérard répondait: "Que la femme amère!"_

wrote:

     "La reine de Saba, c'était bien elle, en effet, qui me préoccupait
     alors--et doublement. Le fantôme éclatant de la fille des
     Hémiarites tourmentait mes nuits sous les hautes colonnes de ce
     grand lit sculpté, acheté en Touraine, et qui n'était pas encore
     garni de sa brocatelle rouge à ramages. Les salamandres de François
     Ier me versaient leur flamme du haut des corniches, où se
     jouaient des amours imprudents.... Qu'elle était belle! non pas
     plus belle cependant qu'une autre reine du matin dont l'image
     tourmentait mes journées. Cette dernière réalisait vivante mon rêve
     idéal et divin."

The question was to secure her _début_ at the Opéra, and for that
purpose Gérard undertook to write a libretto in verse for a "Reine de
Saba" for which Meyerbeer, then at the height of his popularity, was to
compose the music. This was the task upon which he was ostensibly
engaged when he joined for an hour or two the other workers in the
Impasse du Doyenné. For some reason or other the project never came to
maturity, perhaps because Gérard could not work to order, perhaps
because Jenny Colon married another. All that is left of the "Reine de
Saba" is a fragment published later in Gérard's "Nuits de Rhamadan," and
the whimsical reminiscence, from which I have quoted, in "La Bohème
Galante." In the latter he goes on to explain the "academic air" which
he assumed one festive evening when the Bohemians were amusing
themselves with a costume ball. He alone was abstracted because he had
an appointment with Meyerbeer at seven the next morning. But he could
not escape an adventure. A fair mask who sat weeping in a corner of the
room appealed to him to take her home. Her cavalier had deserted her for
another and dismissed her rudely. Gérard took her out on the ground of
the old riding-school hard by, where under the lime-trees they talked
till the moon gave way to the dawn. The ball was almost over, and other
masks found their way to this retreat. It was proposed to adjourn to an
early breakfast in the Bois de Boulogne. No sooner said than done. The
revellers set off joyously, Gérard's _belle désolée_ opposing only a
feeble resistance. But Gérard had his appointment, and wished to work on
his scenario. In vain Camille Rogier rallied him on his desertion of the
lady. Gérard was firm, and Rogier with a laugh offered her his
disengaged arm. He departed, bidding Gérard farewell with mocking bow.
And he had entertained her all the evening; poor Gérard! such was his
fate. As he remarked: "J'avais quitté la proie pour l'ombre ... comme
toujours!"

Gérard's adventure is in the nature of digression. So, indeed, was his
whole life; but the others were not more discursive than befitted
Bohemians. They slept in their beds and took their meals regularly.
Luncheon, after the morning's work, was a frugal meal except for
Gautier, who had developed from a weedy youth into a giant with a
Gargantuan appetite. They did not entirely fail to earn a penny, but
when literary labour was so poorly paid Gautier, who was doing art
criticism in a small paper for nothing, was glad enough to see his
mother arrive in the morning with two raw cutlets and a bottle of
bouillon for his _déjeuner_. Nevertheless, when the afternoon was over
and the visitors gone--Roger de Beauvoir to dress for an evening at the
Opéra, Borel to rage at society in some poor garret--Rogier, Gautier,
and Houssaye, now and then capturing Gérard, set out to roam in the busy
city whose festive lamps were glittering on the boulevards and twinkling
along the Seine. They dined--they were not too poor for that--in the
Palais Royal more often than not, and wandered for the rest of the night
where their fancy took them. Now the theatre would entice them with some
romantic play by Hugo or Dumas, after which a supper with much punch
would be indispensable; now they would invade the _Chaumière_ or some
other place of dancing. At that time everybody danced deliriously,[25]
the quadrille being in great vogue since it lent itself readily to
choreographic invention on the part of the individual. Ourliac and
Houssaye, for instance, attracted great attention by dancing a quadrille
which represented Napoleon at all the critical periods of his life--the
siege of Toulon, the Pyramids, Waterloo, and St. Helena. Another
evening, Gautier having gone to visit his parents and Gérard absent,
Houssaye might return quietly to the white and gold _salon_ with Rogier,
who would talk with him or sing him songs while the cats purred on their
knees; or, yet again, they might carouse in the Flemish _cabaret_ hard
by, served by the young _tavernière_

    _Qui tout en souriant nous versait de la bière._
    _Quelle gorge orgueilleuse et quel œil attrayant!_
    _Que Préault a sculpté de mots en la voyant._

    _Cette fille aux yeux bleus follement réjouie,_
    _Les blonds cheveux épars, la bouche épanouie,_
    _Jetant à tout venant son cœur et sa vertu,_
    _Et faisant de l'amour un joyeux impromptu,_
    _Fut de notre jeunesse une image fidèle;_
    _Ami, longtemps encor nous reparlerons d'elle._

So sang of her Houssaye, whose souvenirs of Bohemia at the magic age of
_vingt ans_ are deeply tinged with amorous memories. In fact, _la
Bohème galante_, as its name implies, was not a monastery, and its life
was not shared, but illuminated by a number of divinities whose aureoles
had been over more than one windmill. The chief of these was "la
Cydalise,"

    _Respirant un lilas qui jouait dans sa main_
    _Et pressentant déjà le triste lendemain._

She was treasure-trove of Camille Rogier's, a beautiful woman, and
titular mistress of the Bohemian encampment. They were all jealous of
Rogier's good fortune, for, since he was twenty-five, they considered
him a patriarch, and Théo could not understand how Cydalise could put up
with such an old man. She lived quite happily in the Impasse, making the
afternoon tea, sitting as a model, and inflaming all their hearts.
Théo's passion was of a frantic heat. He besieged Cydalise with long and
violent apostrophes, swearing to kill the senile tyrant who kept her in
his power, threats for which Rogier, ever smiling, did not care a
button. Poor Cydalise, she was a butterfly whose day was short. To
Rogier's great grief consumption seized her. For some weeks he enlivened
her sick-bed by singing her songs and drawing pictures for her
amusement; but the day came when her ears no longer heard and her lovely
eyes were closed. Gérard, Gautier, Roger de Beauvoir, and Ourliac went
to her funeral, and Bohemia lost its official mistress. Yet there were
others. Gérard draws a picture of Gautier, on a Gothic stool, reading
his verses while Cydalise or Lorry or Victorine swung herself carelessly
in the hammock of Sarah _la blonde_, and Arsène Houssaye at the end of
"Vingt Ans" recalls them in the lines:

    _Judith oublie Arthur, Franz, Rogier et le reste,_
    _En donnant à son cœur la solitude agreste;_
    _Rosine à Chantilly caresse un jeune enfant_
    _Plus joli qu'un Amour et plus joueur qu'un faon._

           *       *       *       *       *

    _Ninon au Jockey Club vend chacun de ses jours;_
    _Charlotte danse encore--et dansera toujours._
    _Alice?--il faut la plaindre et prier Dieu pour elle,_
    _Elle est dans les chiffons, la pauvre Chanterelle;_
    _Armande?--Un prince russe épris de sa beauté_
    _Travaille à lui refaire une virginité._
    _Olympe?--un mauvais livre ouvert à chaque page--_
    _Ce matin je l'ai vue en galant équipage...._

The loves of Doyenné were true _enfants de Bohème_, neither great
passions nor elective affinities, but pastimes leaving regrets for
inspiration; not devouring flames, but pleasantly crackling experimental
fires, drawn chiefly from those great hearths, the stage and the _corps
de ballet_. How much fantasy went to their burning is illustrated in a
story told by Houssaye of Gérard, who, on one occasion, to the despair
of his friends, became obsessed with a mad desire to set out that
instant for Cythera and revive the gods of Greece. Prompt measures were
necessary, and Houssaye devoted himself to the rescue by professing to
enter into the scheme with joy, only remarking that it would be well to
have lunch first. This seemed to Gérard a reasonable preliminary, so
they adjourned to the Café d'Orsay, where over the first bottle Gérard
developed his scheme with growing eloquence. But the first stage on the
way to Cythera lasted for several bottles, and at the commencement of
the next Gérard met a provisional goddess in the shape of an attractive
_grisette_. Houssaye, convinced that his companionship was now no longer
necessary, abandoned the voyage, and left Gérard to continue it up
several flights of stairs. The end of this ascent marked his farthest
point; after a halt of two days he descended and turned his footsteps
back to Bohemia. The loves of Bohemia which gambol so trippingly in the
tongue of France are ill at ease in our austerer medium, for our
Northern spirit has ever refused to admit, as the French do with
engaging candour, that man, particularly the artist-man, is naturally
polygamous. Lorry, Victorine, Armande, and the rest were the only
appropriate feminine attachments of Bohemia, even of the golden age, the
pagan loves of pagan heroes, who were greedy of their caresses without
hungering for their souls, grew jealous at their eyes' wayward glances,
but took no umbrage at the inward abstraction of their minds, and were
content with the homage of their play-hours without seeking to rival the
ideals of their artistic contemplations. But the mark of the golden age
was that they played for love and not for money: they would dance the
heels off their slippers in the barren land of Doyenné when all the
millions of a dull prince would have moved their agile toes only to the
most significant of kicks. It was a mad little world, but good because
Mammon had not corrupted its natural spontaneity. True, it was deficient
in some virtues, but some virtues are frankly middle-aged, to be put on
with a less tricksy cut of the clothes. Bohemia was young; it loved and
feasted and, being poor, made debts. There is not much to be said for
getting into debt, in spite of Panurge's ingenious discourse, except
that it is an unavoidable corollary of certain conjunctions of
temperament and circumstance. It is difficult, anyhow, not to pardon
Gérard for dissipating his capital and running up bills on account of
his delightful inspiration of receiving a pressing creditor, a furniture
dealer, with the recitation of a touching poem, "Meublez-vous les uns
les autres," which affected the dun to tears.

"We had no money, but we lived _en grands seigneurs_," wrote Arsène
Houssaye, looking back. Indeed they did, if it be princely to have
pretty actresses to perform impromptu comedies and dancers of the Opéra
for one's partners in a quadrille. I suspect that these occasions were
not so frequent as the exuberant narrator would have us suppose. Gérard
more frankly says they spent much valuable time making eyes at the
landlord's wife, who lived on the ground floor, which argues an
occasional dearth of desirable objects for idle glances. Nevertheless,
dances and comedies they did have, and towards the end of its epoch _la
Bohème galante_ had one supreme festival. It was a combined dramatic
entertainment and fancy-dress ball, which took place in November 1835.
The idea, says Gautier, was Gérard's own, who thus made amends for his
frequent absences by being responsible for the crowning glory of the
first Bohemia. His suggestion rested on the artistic ground that it was
a pity to inhabit a room and never to receive there a company worthy of
it: a _bal costumé_ alone could produce a gathering that would not clash
with the decorations. That was all very well, but the general finances
were in a melancholy condition, and a reception, even in Bohemia,
required capital. Gérard brushed the objection lightly aside. People who
are without the necessaries of life, he pointed out, must have the
superfluities, or they would have nothing at all, which would be too
little, even for poets. As for refreshments, they would do better than
give their guests cups of weak tea or rum punch; they would feast the
eye instead by having the room specially decorated with mural paintings
by their friends, the artists. Only princes and farmers-general could
indulge in such magnificence, and the fame of the Impasse would be
undying.

The idea was not entirely new, for Dumas at his great ball in 1832 had
done very much the same. For him all the leading artists of the day,
including Delacroix, had painted the walls of the ballroom, as he
narrates in a spirited passage of his "Memoirs." But Dumas had not dared
to make art take the place of bodily refreshment, for he declares that
his guests consumed the bag of several days' shooting and some thousand
bottles of wine. _La Bohème galante_, though younger and less known
artists were at its command, placed art upon her proper pedestal.
Ladders were quickly erected, panels and piers were parcelled out, and
the work began. It is a scene on which to dwell in envious imagination.
They were perched on ladders, the merry band, smoking cigarettes,
singing Musset's songs or declaiming Victor Hugo, with roses behind
their ears--a counsel of Gérard's, who, contenting himself with a
general survey of operations, recommended a return to the classic festal
usage of garlanding the head with flowers. Camille Rogier, smiling
through his beard, was painting Oriental or fantastically Hoffmannesque
scenes; the burly Gautier executed a picnic in the style of Watteau, a
tantalizing subject for thirsty dancers; Nanteuil, with his long golden
hair, limned a Naiad; and Adolphe Leleux produced topers crowned with
ivy in the manner of Velasquez. Other friends were pressed into service,
Wattier, Châtillon, and Rousseau; Chassériau contributed a bathing
Diana, Lorentz some revellers in Turkish costume, and Corot on two
narrow panels placed two exquisite Italian landscapes. Any comrade might
lend a hand, and it was on this occasion that Gautier first made the
acquaintance of Marilhat, the Oriental painter, whom a friend brought in
and who drew on a vacant space some palm-trees over a minaret in white
chalk. It is to this acquaintance that we owe Théo's recollections of
this remarkable day. If that room, decorated thus because a few _louis
d'or_ for refreshments were not forthcoming, were now existing, only a
millionaire could buy, and only a great gallery worthily house, it. Yet
regrets are misplaced, for it served its day, and it is well that the
_salon_ of Doyenné, with its furniture and its painted panels, in which
the happy, money-scorning Bohemians danced at their culminating
festival, should vanish before mercenary dealings could soil its
freshness.

The _fête_ was gorgeous. True, the landlord's wife had refused their
invitation--a severe blow. But the hosts with some consideration,
knowing that their revels would make sleep impossible in the quarter,
invited all their bachelor neighbours on the condition that they brought
with them _femmes du monde_ protected, if they pleased, by masks and
dominoes. The wonderful evening began with the pantomime of "Le Diable
Boiteux," in which many actresses from the boulevard took part. Then
there were two little farces in which Ourliac covered himself with glory
as the _buffo_. The first was "Le Courrier de Naples," and the second,
written by Ourliac himself, "La Jeunesse du Temps et le Temps de la
Jeunesse," was introduced by a prologue by Gautier, read from behind the
curtain. Ourliac was buried in bouquets, and the noisy orchestra brought
in from a _guingette_ struck up. The ruined quarter woke to life again,
as in some ghost story; the desert streets resounded with songs and
laughter; Turks and _débardeurs_ affronted the frown of the staid old
Louvre, and only the landlords and _concierges_, tossing sleeplessly,
consigned Bohemians to everlasting flames. The dance, sustained only by
good spirits, never flagged, till in the final galop every mask with his
partner rushed pell-mell from the room, leaped wildly down the rickety
stairs, dashed up the Impasse, and came to rest under the moonlit ruins
of the old priory, where a little _cabaret_ had opened, and only the
late dawn of winter drove Bohemia to its bed, to dream of the Pompadour
salon, of Ourliac's satirical buffoonery, and of Roger de Beauvoir's
magnificent Venetian costume of apple-green velvet with silver
embroidery, and his inexhaustible wit, for once born of no champagne.

It is melancholy to go back to a deserted ballroom, and we may spare
ourselves the pain. That joyous evening, little as it may have seemed
to do so, marked the passing of the golden age. Bohemia's sun henceforth
descended the skies. The next year saw marked changes. The landlord of
the old house in the Impasse du Doyenné saw with relief--Gérard says he
gave them notice to quit--the departure of his turbulent tenants. If
Rogier had not gone to Constantinople it is possible that, even if the
band had been compelled to change its quarters, some reconstruction of
_la Bohème galante_ might have been possible. With him, the stable, the
earner of money, absent, there was no hope. The heroes of Bohemia had to
leave their enchanted garden for the ordinarily circumscribed dwelling
of impecunious mortals, and, like the heroes of Valhalla when Freia is
snatched from them, a certain wanness came over the complexion of their
lives. Joy and beauty and work and love were left, but the magic bloom
had just faded. With smaller resources and in a colder light the
resettlement of Bohemia was a work of compromise, not spontaneous
achievement. Rogier was gone; Ourliac, who produced "Suzanne" with
success, married before long, grew serious, and ended his days in the
fullest odour of piety; Roger de Beauvoir found the boulevard more to
his taste than any less brilliant Bohemia. Gautier, Gérard, and Houssaye
were left, a trio of markedly divergent tastes. They made one attempt at
a common life in the Rue Saint-Germain-des-Prés, which seems to have
lasted a year or two. The details of it given by Gautier[26] and
Houssaye[27] differ considerably. According to Gautier they did their
own cooking: Arsène Houssaye was perfect in the _panade_, Gautier
prepared the macaroni, no doubt remembering Graziano, while Gérard
"went, with perfect self-possession, to buy galantines, sausages, or
fresh pork cutlets with gherkins at the neighbouring cook-shop."
Houssaye, on the other hand, says that they had a rascally valet and a
cook called Margot, and that they broke up because they were at variance
on the degree of luxury to be maintained, Gérard, whom anything
satisfied, departing to a bare _hôtel garni_, Gautier to a sumptuous
apartment in the Rue de Navarin, and Houssaye sharing rooms in the Rue
du Bac, on the left bank, with Jules Sandeau. I do not trouble to
reconcile these two accounts, for the memories of Bohemia are invariably
picturesque. The fact remains that the old days could not come back. The
first Bohemians were growing older, and the world was beginning to claim
its once youthful defiers as servitors. Though Gérard's bed remained
with Gautier as a memory of freer days, he knew too well that the gates
of the prison were closing upon him. For a year or so he might pretend
to mock destiny by producing another book of verses and a novel, or by
making a voyage in Belgium accompanied by Gérard: but he was a doomed
man. About 1838 he became the dramatic critic of _La Presse_, entering
the mill in which he was to grind for over thirty years. Well might he
say in 1867, in an autobiographical notice: "Là finit ma vie heureuse,
indépendante et prime-sautière." Houssaye kept up the pretence a little
longer. Life in the Rue du Bac was gay; there were suppers with Jules
Janin and Sandeau at which Gautier and Ourliac sometimes appeared; there
was dancing; there were the bright eyes of a certain Ninon, who inspired
some pretty stanzas. But these were the last echoes of _la première
Bohème_, as he had to admit. When they died away he completed the
chapter of his youth, as Gautier had done, by travelling.

[Illustration: Gérard de Nerval]

Gérard alone escaped the inevitable superannuation of Bohemia, because
he was too ethereal to become amenable to the ordinary dynamic laws of
society. An attempt was made to catch him in the machinery by making him
Gautier's assistant as dramatic critic of _La Presse_. The sprite within
him would not submit to the drudgery, and in a little while he gave it
up. He preferred, as ever, to wander at his will and at his own hours,
or to sit reading at the dead of night by the light of a brass
chandelier balanced on his head. It is not part of this book's plan to
give complete biographies of those who appear in its pages, but an
exception shall be made in the case of Gérard de Nerval. Between 1837
and 1839 he stayed in Paris, writing a comic opera, "Piquillo," with
Dumas, in which Jenny Colon appeared, several plays, with a certain
number of articles and reviews. His way of life was always eccentric,
but he had his first definite attack of madness in 1839 or 1840, and was
placed in the famous establishment of Doctor Blanche. He came out in
1841 and resumed a career of wider vagabondage than ever, now with
money, now without, but caring little in any case and ready to go to the
ends of the earth with a whim and without a coin. In 1841 he joined
Camille Rogier in Constantinople, and wandered subsequently in other
parts of the East--an experience which gave rise to some of his best
descriptive work. He returned to Paris again, where his spirit dwelt in
the clouds and his body anywhere, though he often allowed it to rest
with one of his many friends, with whom he would leave a shirt to be
washed against his next coming. He continued to write not very
successful plays between 1846 and 1850, when he again went completely
mad and retired to Dr. Blanche's house. His second stay here was longer,
but as he soon became perfectly reasonable his friends were allowed to
take him out for the day occasionally. Once more apparently cured he
came out, but though he made one or two voyages his faculties remained
permanently clouded. Of this he himself was perfectly conscious, but he
bore his afflictions with perfect cheerfulness. His money was all gone,
and the flashes of sanity too rare for him to earn much; he was
homeless, but not friendless, for he never appealed to his friends in
vain. He came for crumbs like a bird in winter, but like a bird he would
not stay. He would have been an appropriate guest at some strange
_Nachtasil_ such as Maxim Gorki describes so powerfully. Who knows, too,
in what haunts he was not a familiar? His comrades of older days could
do no more than greet him and tend him when they saw him, and his
equanimity was too great to drive them to forcible detention. As Paul de
Saint-Victor wrote after his death:

     "In vain his friends tried to follow him with their hearts and
     eyes; he was lost to sight for weeks, months, years. Then, one fine
     day, one found him by chance in a foreign city, a provincial town,
     or more often still in the country, thinking aloud, dreaming with
     open eyes, his attention fixed on the fall of a leaf, the flight of
     an insect or a bird, the form of a cloud, the dart of a ray, on all
     those vague and ravishing beauties that pass in the air. Never man
     saw a gentler madness, a tenderer folly, a more inoffensive and
     more friendly eccentricity. If he woke from his slumber, it was to
     recognize his friends, to love them and serve them, to double the
     warmth of his devotion and welcome as if he wished to make up to
     them for his long absences by an extra amount of tenderness."

It was with a profound shock, therefore, that Paris heard, one morning
in 1857, that Gérard had been found in the small hours, hanged to an
iron railing by a woman's apron-string, in one of the lowest and most
ill-famed streets in Paris, the Rue de la Vieille-Lanterne. The mystery
of his death has never been cleared up. The inquest brought little
light, save that the inmates of a filthy little drink-shop probably knew
more than they would tell. What Gérard was doing in that foul haunt will
never be known. It is possible that he may have been murdered, but, as
he had no money and was the gentlest of men, it is more probable that
with some dreadful cloud upon his brain he destroyed himself. Yet his
very gentleness had made such an end unexpected, for he seemed to be
under the protection of the children's guardian angel. Some sudden
impulse brought him a death alien to the character of his whole life.
"II est mort," said Paul de Saint-Victor, "de la nostalgie du monde
invisible. Paix à cette âme en peine de l'idéal!"

From Gérard's death, which Gustave Doré made more hideous in a ghoulish
picture, it is a long cry back to the Impasse du Doyenné and the
Pompadour _salon_ of which he was the discoverer. Yet I will end this
chapter, as it was begun, with this once festive haunt. Not long did it
outlive its Bohemian colony. The landlord, explosively wrathful at the
sight of the wall paintings, at once covered the mess, as he no doubt
called it, with a coating of distemper. The treasures might, even then,
have been saved in part, had anyone but Gérard de Nerval bought from the
demolishers Corot's panels, the pictures by Wattier, Chassériau, and
Châtillon, and Rogier's portraits of Cydalise and Théophile Gautier. His
hand was one to baulk destiny only for a little. This moonstruck captain
of a rickety craft let his cargo fall needlessly into the seas while he
contemplated the stars and allowed the waves to swing the rudder. So
passed _la Bohème galante_, leaving only a gilded legend.



IX

SCHAUNARD AND COMPANY

    _La Bohème carottière et geignarde d'Henry Murger_ ...

           LEPELLETIER: "Verlaine"


To follow the heroes into exile would be depressing as well as
unprofitable. It is better to stand respectfully aside from the
_Götterdämmerung_ and wait till Bohemia emerges again from the mists,
when a lapse of years has wrought some patent changes, for it is easier
to contemplate a result than to trace a process. By leaping forward some
ten years from the dispersal of the brotherhood that sanctified by its
presence the Impasse du Doyenné it is possible to steal a march on Time
and anticipate with a rapid glance his changing hand. Yet to catch this
later view it is necessary for the nonce to abandon the world of flesh
and blood and to turn from the acts and reminiscences of actual mortals
to the imaginary scenes and fictitious characters of a book of stories.
The tide of life was too strong upon Théophile Gautier and Arsène
Houssaye for them to pause and stamp out firmly the features of those
precious days in _la Bohème galante_; they only caught fugitive
impressions in retrospect. Henry Murger, less prodigal because less
endowed, crystallized as it passed a moment of Bohemia, the Bohemia of
common mortality, in "Scènes de la Vie de Bohème." As a confectioner
encloses a fresh grape in a transparent coat of candied sugar, so he,
even while he tasted, sour and sweet, the fruit of his days, caught
stray berries in a light film of art and presented them as dessert to
the readers of the _Corsaire_, a small but amusing journal. Sharp and
savoury as they were, Time would have destroyed them, as he destroyed
the ambrosial lusciousness of the Doyenné feasts, but for that light
film. Nobody remembers reminiscences, but a well-told story preserves
even the most trivial events.

Murger's "Scènes de la Vie de Bohème" is a book which has now lived for
nearly seventy years and does not seem likely as yet to pass into the
lumber-room. At the same time, it is to be wished that more people in
England knew it, if only because the presupposition of such knowledge
would make this chapter easier to write. It is not, of course, difficult
to criticize the "Scènes de la Vie de Bohème"; many of Murger's
countrymen, indeed, have done so. Its ethics, its humour, and its style
have been attacked. M. Boucher, an estimable civil servant interested in
literature, in his "Souvenirs d'un Parisien" calls it an effort to
depict the life of low-class students, accuses Murger of insipidity and
repetition, and denies any wit to his "étudiants demi-escrocs,
demi-canailles." M. Pelloquet, who was good enough to pronounce a
discourse over Murger's grave, said: "It is an unhealthy book, in which
vice grimaces, youth paints its cheeks like a superannuated coquette,
and a fictitious _insouciance_ conceals, not a laziness that is
sometimes poetic, but the cowardly indolence of men without courage and
without talent." He was also rash enough to predict that it would not
live. Jules Janin, the critic, in a wiser appreciation, asserted that
with a little more art and a little more poetry Murger might have
created more pardonable heroes and no less charming heroines. Gautier's
dictum about the invertebrate verses of "that feeble appendage to Alfred
de Musset" has already been quoted, and the opinion of Verlaine's
biographer appears at the head of this chapter. Murger's gravest fault,
however, in the eyes of French people is that he wrote bad French. To
them the mishandling of that difficult, elusive, and withal limited
tongue is a crime of which we can hardly comprehend the enormity. It is
perfectly true that Murger was culpable in this respect; he was
deficient in scholarship and in rhythmic sense, so that his poems are
weak and his prose, even where he tried to give it an air of
respectability, betrays its imperfections no less manifestly than M.
Jourdain betrayed his birth. We in England, fastidious as our critics
are in the matter of language, have not our ears tuned to this painful
degree of precision. So long as a style effectively harmonizes with its
environment we are content to let it stand: the Gothic grandeur of
English can suffer without disfigurement the intrusion of the quaint. To
sympathies so trained Murger's style in "Scènes de la Vie de Bohème"
should make a particular appeal, since in that book, for the most part,
he makes no attempt to ape the academician, but writes in the
extravagant jargon of the very Bohemians he is describing--a language
full of comic inversions, extravagances, and lapses from grammar, which
are an essential part of the book's gaiety and charm. Though his matter
is unmistakably Parisian, his humour is, in some respects, remarkably
English, delighting in broad and bustling effects rather than subtle
strokes and sudden flashes. As for the life and the characters that he
depicts, criticism of them will be implicit in the remainder of this
chapter; of the book as a whole no more need be said than that it has
survived when all the rest of Murger's work has been forgotten. It is
not a book to be placed unwarily in the hands of the young and tender;
parts of it are exaggerated, parts may be wished away, but, when all has
been said, it remains, not the picture of _la vie de Bohème_ at its best
and brightest, but the classic expression of the Bohemian spirit--a
frank confession, not the pseudo-pathetic souvenir of a prosperous
greybeard. Its pages are among those rare ones in the world's library
that have caught and held for a moment the intangible freshness, the
poetry, and the gaiety of youth. For this alone it deserves never to
grow old.

Murger's Bohemia is described in a series of scenes taken from the life
of four young men, a quartet as fascinating to read of as Dumas'
Musketeers, though possibly less comfortable companions. They were
Rodolphe, the sentimental poet; Marcel, the painter; Colline, the
peripatetic philosopher and bookworm; and Schaunard, painter and
musician, incomparable rogue whose masterpiece was a symphony "Sur
l'influence du bleu dans la musique"--a sly hit at debased Romanticism.
Chance brought them together. Schaunard, unable to pay his arrears of
rent, was forced to leave his lodging with his furniture in pawn. A
day's peregrination in search of a loan brought him three francs in
cash, which he spent in dinner, together with the less tangible benefit
of Colline's and Rodolphe's acquaintance. He swore brotherhood with
Colline over a dish of stewed rabbit in a little eating-house, and the
pair collected Rodolphe in the Café Momus, where, at Colline's expense,
they passed the rest of a not too abstemious evening. Meanwhile Marcel,
the painter, who had taken Schaunard's room unfurnished in advance,
though having no furniture of his own but a second-hand scenic interior
from the stock of a bankrupt theatre, had been persuaded to take the
lodging furnished with Schaunard's furniture, and had duly moved in.
Late in the evening, when a sharp shower of rain was falling,
Schaunard, in bacchic absence of mind, offered asylum to his two new
comrades. Hastily buying the elements of a supper, they gaily invaded
the apartment of Marcel. Explanations were difficult, but were
accomplished during supper, and next day Marcel and Schaunard agreed to
live together. A dinner and a magnificent supper inaugurated the
foundation of the new clan, which was united, so long as their Bohemian
days continued, by an unbroken bond of friendship. It is these young men
whom Murger's readers follow through their straits and shifts, their
love affairs, their extravagances, their boisterous jokes, and their
naïve pleasures--the poet, the artist, the savant, and the musician,
characters drawn from Murger himself and his living friends, whose coats
were ragged and whose pockets almost always empty, who were the bane of
respectable _concierges_ and proprietors of _cafés_, who bore short
commons with cheerful bravado and succumbed to innocent gluttony in
times of unexpected prosperity, who were really funny even if they were
sometimes vulgar, whose expedients for catching the elusive _pièce de
cent sous_ were as amazing as their puns, who made life, even in a
garret, a sentimental poem and a rollicking ballad, and who had the
sense to become prosaic before the sentiment grew threadbare or the
ballad grew stale. It is a great temptation to follow some of their
adventures in greater detail from the day when Marcel went out to dine
in the sugar-merchant's coat while Schaunard painted the latter's
portrait in his own colour-stained dressing-gown, to the day when
Rodolphe by composing a didactic poem at fifteen sous a dozen lines for
a celebrated dentist, Marcel by painting the portraits of eighteen
grenadiers at six francs a head, and Schaunard by playing the same scale
all day and every day for a month to revenge a rich Englishman on an
actress's parrot, earned enough to give their mistresses new dresses and
take them for a holiday in the fields of Fontenay-aux-Roses. Yet the
impulse to discursive commentary must be checked, for plucking flowers
is a distraction from comparative botany. Murger, after all, tells his
own story infinitely better than any translator could do, and the
purpose which is proper to the present book is to inquire what kind of a
Bohemia appears in Murger's light-hearted pages.

So far as Bohemia was concerned, the generation of 1830 had entirely
passed away by 1846, when Murger's sketches actually appeared, and the
young men of whom Bohemia was composed were formed under less violent
influences. The last flashes of Napoleon's glory had not illuminated
their early days, they knew little of the stifling reign of Charles X,
and the Revolution of 1830 took place when they had only a little while
outgrown the nursery. By the time they grew up the complexion of affairs
in Paris wore a more even tone. Assisted by Guizot, Louis Philippe had
found the _juste-milieu_ to his people's satisfaction, revolutionary
tendencies had been checked or diverted into harmless channels of
humanitarian reform, the _bourgeois_ had firmly grasped his power and
built up an already solid bulwark of commercial interest. In the
artistic world, too, things were quieter. "Hernani," once a scandal, had
become a classic, and there was no further need of red waistcoats and
furious _claques_. Romanticism, indeed, had become so workaday that a
successful little excitement was aroused by a reaction against it in
what was called "l'école de bon sens," whose chief poet, Ponsard, gained
quite a celebrity for a short time with his classic drama "Lucrèce."
Beyond the gadfly of artistic impulse and the natural fermentation of
the adolescent mind, there was little to rouse a young man's passions or
send his blood coursing faster through his veins; there was no
particular idol to worship, no hobby-horse to ride, as a Gautier or a
Borel had worshipped Hugo and mounted the gallant steed called Middle
Ages. The creed of Romanticism was so thoroughly established that there
was nothing left to make any fuss about, with the natural consequence
that its early extravagances had fallen out of fashion and there was no
further need to be satanic or profess excessive sensibility. Literature
was feeling its way to the austerer Romanticism of Flaubert and the
Goncourts, as painting towards the "realism" of Courbet, but the growth
was still below ground and the surface as yet seemed undisturbed. The
generation of Rodolphe and Schaunard found, therefore, in Paris no eager
band to whom they could ally themselves and to whose educative influence
they could submit. Driven by their impulses towards the arts, with souls
naturally romantic, as most young men's souls are, they found no cause
which they could immediately embrace in the manner of the second
_cénacle_. They missed that valuable education which is the idolization
of a great man, and were confined instead to fighting their own battle,
a very much less distinguished affair, which allowed many little
dishonourable compromises with indolence and in which victory meant no
more than individual success. This explains, to some extent, the absence
of intellectual fecundity in Murger's heroes, which even their most
devoted admirers cannot deny. Rodolphe's poems are indeed only pale
imitations of Alfred de Musset, who was an almost inevitable model for
any lyric youngster of the day; his more serious effort, a drama called
"Le Vengeur," good enough to burn for warmth in a draughty garret, is
not vouchsafed to us in quotation by Rodolphe's creator. Marcel was
obviously not a very gifted painter, in spite of his famous _Passage de
la Mer Rouge_, which was sent up in a different guise to each Salon and
inevitably rejected, and when this great work was sold to become a
shop-sign the artist's pride was not in the least revolted. Schaunard
never gives any signs of musical inspiration till at the close he
publishes a successful album of songs, and Colline, polyglot philosopher
as he is dubbed, abandoned his career before anything tangible had been
achieved to make an advantageous marriage and give musical evenings. It
would, of course, be pedantic to insist upon these considerations in the
case of a book of short stories which aims chiefly at amusing, but it is
impossible not to be struck in reading the "Scènes de la Vie de Bohème"
by the absence from the conversation of the characters of any indication
of their artistic ideals. Save when Schaunard tells the sugar-merchant
that he was a pupil of Horace Vernet, murmuring to himself, "Horreur, je
renie mes dieux," and Marcel makes a scornful allusion to the "école de
bon sens," the only proof that they are true artists lies in their
creator's own assertion, of which he is not entirely mindful in the
_dénouement_. The worst sinner of all is Colline, for this mine of
knowledge, throughout the book, is made chiefly remarkable for the
composition of dreadful puns. This may be partly due to that want of "a
little more art and a little more poetry" of which Janin accused Murger,
but the fault was not only personal. The second _cénacle_ and the
brotherhood of the Impasse du Doyenné were, without doubt, just as
commonplace in their ordinary conversation, but what lifted them off the
ground was the enthusiasm of a hotly waged artistic struggle, which by
Murger's day had died down. His four heroes are Romantics in general,
but in no sense champions of any cause.

Another unmistakable fact about Rodolphe and his friends is that they
were inconspicuous. True, they made the Café Momus unbearable to its
more peaceful customers, and were not unknown at the Chaumière, but the
Café Momus was in a back street, and the Chaumière was certainly not the
Bal de l'Opéra. They were miles away from the _viveurs_ upon the
boulevard, and their connexion with the prominent writers and artists of
the day was extremely remote. They made no public appearance, they were
not a force to be reckoned with. They kept up the form of defying
convention, but it was now no more than a convenient form for the
impecunious. Art and the _bourgeoisie_ were beginning to play into one
another's hands; the former had gained its liberty to a great degree,
while the latter by the gilded pill of commercial success had purged
artistic demonstration of its crudities. The time when eccentricity was
a symbol had passed; now it was only a skin to be sloughed, as Marcel
saw when in a very sensible lecture delivered to Rodolphe he said:

     "Poetry does not exist only in a disordered life, in improvised
     happiness, in love affairs that only last as long as a candle, in
     more or less eccentric rebellions against the prejudices which will
     for ever be the sovereigns of the world: a dynasty is more easily
     overturned than a custom, even a ridiculous one. To have talent it
     is not sufficient to put on a summer overcoat in May; one can be a
     true poet or artist and yet keep one's feet warm and have one's
     three meals a day."

Their Bohemia, in fact, was a kind of undergraduate existence, in which
all sorts of disorder and youthful folly might be excused on the plea
that youth must be served, but which could in no sense be regarded as a
part of civic life, much less as the best part, the most truly
disinterested and artistic. This is a significant change of attitude
from the days of _la Bohème galante_, which was one of the centres of
Paris. That, indeed, was transitory and presupposed youth, but it was
not obscure and its inhabitants had no misgivings. It was not they who
gave it up as the writer of Ecclesiastes put away childish things, for
they gloried in it all their days as the best part of their life; it was
that the world claimed them for its business in spite of themselves. In
their disinterested love of art they had made themselves valuable, and
when the command went forth "Come and be paid" they were forced to go.
To guard against any accusation of misunderstanding Murger, it may be
admitted that he calls his heroes only a small section of Bohemia--they
moved, to use his phrase, in the _troisièmes dessous_ of literature and
art--but there is no indication that Murger conceived a Bohemia which
had its part in any higher sphere. When Rodolphe gets a lucky present of
five hundred francs the determination he avows is not to suffuse his
little corner of Bohemia with a more worthy splendour, but to become,
like every other successful man, a _bourgeois_. "These are my projects,"
he cries to an astonished Marcel. "Sheltered from the material
embarrassments of life, I am going to work seriously; I shall finish my
great work, and gain a settled place in public opinion. To begin with, I
renounce Bohemia, I shall dress like everybody else, I shall have a
black coat, and I shall frequent drawing-rooms." Such a speech would
have fallen like a thunderbolt in Camille Rogier's Pompadour _salon_,
and its author considered charitably to be in the first stages of
lunacy. Marcel, however, falls in at once with the ambitious scheme, and
they are only saved by their Bohemianism being stronger than their
resolution. Both in the stories and the preface to the "Scènes de la Vie
de Bohème"--where Murger speaks with a picturesque seriousness--there is
no sign of that former joy in Bohemian life as the life which was alone
worth living by poets and artists. Throughout he regards it as a
necessity conditioned by the artistic impulse combined with poverty, to
be borne with the courage and gaiety of youth, to be regretted "perhaps"
from the vantage-point of subsequent prosperity. The true Bohemia--as
distinct from the Bohemia of mere idealists, incapables, and
amateurs--he regards as a narrow, stony path leading up the sides of an
arduous mountain, beset by the chasms of doubt and misery, but making
for a possible goal, the goal of a sufficient income. Divested of all
its _agréments_--resourcefulness, humour, courage, extravagance, which
are properly attributes of youth, the real illuminant--Murger's Bohemia
is laid bare as a merely economic state. The true Bohemians, he says,
are known upon the literary and artistic market-place, where their wares
are saleable, but at moderate prices; "their existence each day is a
work of genius"--"preceded by a pack of ruses, poaching in all the
industries connected with the arts, they hunt from morn till eve that
ferocious animal which is called the five-franc piece." To Murger, who
wrote of what he knew, the man who had the means to live a stable
existence, howsoever retired, was a fool if he remained in Bohemia: to
the inhabitants of _la Bohème galante_ it was the not being entirely
destitute which made their life peculiarly worth living. If Colline ever
speculated with any profundity he may have seen that his friends and he
lived really in a prison of which poverty, prodigality, and idleness
were warders. The Bohemia of Gautier, Gérard de Nerval, and Houssaye had
all the glory of a voluntary protest, a passionate assertion of liberty,
a revivifying of life in accordance with new artistic ideas.

The difference is not simply one of degree. The brotherhood of the
Impasse du Doyenné were less destitute and more talented than Rodolphe
and his friends, but that is not a point that at this moment requires
stress. The important fact is that in a few years Bohemia had undergone
a great change; that, whereas a few years after 1830 young men with a
little money and some talent deliberately chose to make their life more
picturesque than that of ordinary citizens and to escape from the
suffocating atmosphere of commerce and officialdom, a few years after
1840 the ideal of struggling artists was to become as soon as possible
successful merchants and to escape from the possibility of that
picturesqueness which they welcomed as an alleviation of a state of
transitory discomfort. It would be quite beside the mark to regard
Bohemia as guilty in this of self-degradation; so far, indeed, as the
change was conscious, the majority of mankind must logically find it
praiseworthy, for all human effort is judged by its tendency to
well-being. The change, however, was none of Bohemia's doing, but was
due mainly to the fact that art was beginning, in the modern sense, to
pay. The beginnings were small, but they were quite evident, especially
in the increased profits from journalism and illustration. The old
Bohemia of the golden age rested on the supposition that the artist
worked primarily to please himself, and that money, source of enjoyment
as it was, remained a secondary consideration. The supposition, in the
first forward rush of commercial prosperity, was bound to become
untenable. Writers and artists of obvious talent were too valuable
commercial assets to be left to their careless selves; they had to be
tempted into the cage--an easy task, for, if money be regarded as a
means of more enjoyment, why should a Bohemian resist it? It was
unimportant if individuals held out, or were too uncompromising to suit
the market; the fact remained that there _was_ a market and a list of
quotations, and this fact was the disruption of Bohemia. Whereas it had
been a true fraternity in which art was all-important and individual
celebrity a thing of so little moment that there was complete equality
of intercourse, it now included the last two sections of a trisected
world of artists--the well-paid, the ill-paid, and the not paid at
all--and where money intervenes all equality ceases. The majority of the
well-paid were kept too busy even to see they had lost the old freedom;
they were tempted to live as other people in decent rooms and decent
coats, and as their vanity kept them from complaining, the ill-paid and
the not paid at all naturally envied their state, striving and jostling
for an equally happy captivity, or at least intending to do so as soon
as their irrepressible blood took a staider course through their veins.
The charm of Murger's merry crew is that their blood was too strong for
their business instincts; the Bohemian spirit snatched them along in
spite of Mammon, for Mammon, incomplete as his hold has always been over
youth, was in those days but just learning his strength. Where youth
and art combine the Bohemian spirit is always there; only the
possibilities of Bohemia have in the course of time been crowded out.
But in Murger's Paris Bohemia, shorn of earthly glory as it was, without
lot in the brilliance of the boulevard, cut off from the more thriving
traders in the artistic market-place, was still a possibility because
the Bohemian tradition was still fairly strong, and because Paris was
still a small city, its life little disturbed by a floating population
of aliens and its interests completely self-centred.

The Bohemia described by Murger certainly corresponded in one respect
with the general conception of Bohemianism to-day in that it was devoid
of any material splendour. Neither Rodolphe nor Marcel indicates any
desire for the old furniture, damasks, and other decorations which so
glittered in the eyes of the early Romantics, but at any rate such
things would have been beyond the capacity of their purses. They were
unequivocally poor. When Rodolphe was in funds he could afford a hundred
francs a year for a garret in the Rue de la Tour d'Auvergne; when
Providence was less kind he lived "in the Avenue de Saint-Cloud, on the
fifth branch of the third tree on the left as you leave the Bois de
Boulogne." As for entertainments, they came a long way behind the
costume ball of the Impasse du Doyenné. At Rodolphe's Wednesdays in the
Rue de la Tour d'Auvergne, it was said, one could only sit down morally
and was forced to drink badly filtered water in eclectic earthenware.
Even the grand _soirée_ given by Rodolphe and Marcel, which began with a
literary and musical entertainment and ended with a dance prolonged till
sunrise, only cost the hosts fifteen francs--miraculously acquired at
the last moment--in addition to a set of chairs which fed the stove from
midnight onwards, though, as these belonged to a neighbour, they were
probably not paid for. Their wardrobes were not conspicuous for any
particularly Romantic or medieval effect, but simply, except in times of
exceptional windfalls, for extreme dilapidation. Schaunard's chief
garment was an overcoat worn to a state of utter baldness; Colline's
ulster, crammed with books and papers, had the surface of a file;
Marcel's coat was called "Mathusalem," but he must have acquired it
subsequent to the sugar-merchant's momentous visit, for at that time,
after an hour's search to discover a costume fit to dine out in, the net
results were a pair of plaid trousers, a grey hat, a red tie, a (once)
white glove and a black glove. To dine sufficiently at a small
restaurant was for them no ordinary luxury, and as for entering the
_Rocher de Caucale_, they might as well have aspired to membership of
the Jockey Club. Why, Schaunard had never seen a lobster till the old
Jew gave them all a feast after buying Marcel's _Passage de la Mer
Rouge_. Some days they dispensed with dining altogether, on others the
staple dish was pickled herrings; so it is hardly surprising that on the
proceeds of Marcel's picture they remained at table for five days, the
room filled with a Pantagruelic atmosphere and a whole bed of
oyster-shells covering the floor. It was not that they took up any
quixotic attitude of art for art's sake, like the society called _Les
Buveurs d'Eau_, whom Murger describes in one of his stories and whose
principle was not to make the slightest concession to necessity. They
were imperfect journeymen, indolent, careless, too easily distracted,
but they were among those who were ill-paid rather than those who never
tried to be paid. Rodolphe edited a small fashion paper, _L'Écharpe
d'Iris_; Marcel painted ruined manors for a Jew dealer and portraits of
the lowliest possessor of a few spare francs; Colline gave lessons in
the same range of subjects as Pico di Mirandola professed to discuss;
and Schaunard, besides exhibiting a special ability as a borrower, put
music to bad poetry for hard-hearted music-publishers.

In comparing this Bohemia with that of Gautier and Gérard de Nerval, it
is easy to see the justification of Lepelletier's epithet "carottière."
The graceful adjuncts and by no means contemptible achievements of a
former day had vanished as completely as its enthusiasms. The presence
of Roger de Beauvoir and Nestor Roqueplan in the Rue de la Tour
d'Auvergne is as difficult to imagine as the composition of
"Mademoiselle de Maupin." Yet Rodolphe and his friends were at least as
well off in one respect, that is, in their affairs of the heart, if,
indeed, they had not some advantage. The divinities of the Impasse du
Doyenné, Cydalise excepted, seem to have had their home in the _corps de
ballet_, a body not notable for the tenderness or constancy of their
attachments. Murger, who, like his Rodolphe, was an amorous
sentimentalist, gave some poetic value, if not as much as he intended,
to the figures of Mimi and Musette, the idols of Rodolphe and Marcel,
who play such a prominent part in the "Scènes de la Vie de Bohème," that
it would be an affectation not to speak of them, although an Englishman
must always do so with some reserve. In spite of all that may be said
against them--indeed, _is_ said by their very creator--there is a charm
about Mimi and Musette which must always hold the reader of these
stories, a charm which includes Francine, who died holding the muff
bought for her by her lover, and the vulgar Phémie Teinturière, who
shared the lot of a no more refined Schaunard. Without sympathizing, at
least temporarily, with all the blend of mystery and frankness which a
Frenchman breathes into the word "amour," it is useless to read French
literature. To him love is the highest emotional value--emotion being in
its turn the highest value in life--so that a union, whether it be
celebrated in the Madeleine or in the _mairie_ of the notorious
thirteenth _arrondissement_, is equally sacred and equally interesting.
We in England look at love differently and, as we naturally think,
better, but we are not hindered, nevertheless, from abandoning our view
occasionally. We do so implicitly when we shed tears over "La Dame aux
Camélias," over "Madame Butterfly," and over Mimi herself in Puccini's
"La Bohème." To be honest, then, we must accept Murger's view, if we
enjoy his book, as there is very little doubt that we do. We applaud
Musette when she surreptitiously waters the flowers whose duration is to
measure that of her love for Marcel; we forgive her fickleness because
she follows her fancy without calculation, even though on leaving the
rich young nobleman to visit Marcel she takes six days on the road; we
warm to Mimi because Rodolphe really loved her and she him, though his
jealousy and her love of luxury made their days a burden and their
rupture certain; and if we join heartily in Marcel's ironical tirade
against Mimi the fine lady, we cannot restrain our sadness at Mimi
returning to her old love to die. The life of the Impasse du Doyenné was
so joyous, strong, and full that its _amours passagers_ can be taken for
granted, happy fantasies without regrets; but Murger's Bohemia, with its
frequent moments of despondency and hardship, was forced to rely upon
its heart to supply that relieving colour which its surroundings could
not give. Mimi and Musette, Phémie and Francine, even the little
_giletière_ who corrected Colline's proofs and never appeared, meant so
much more than Lorry or Victorine. So long as their attachment lasted
they made a home out of the barest garret, doing for their men those
thousand little things which men are too lazy or preoccupied to do for
themselves. Besides, they opened a field for the exercise of
unselfishness--a valuable service in itself. In this connexion I need
only cite one delightful little story, to which I have already referred,
entitled "La Toilette des Grâces," an idyll which no afterthought can
spoil. It tells how Rodolphe, Marcel, and Schaunard, having earned a
little money by making their respective arts serve the humblest of
commercial purposes, decided to surprise their mistresses by giving them
new dresses. One fine morning Mimi, Musette, and Phémie were awakened by
the entry of a procession headed by Schaunard, in a new coat of golden
nankeen, playing a horn, and close behind him a shopman bringing
samples. They nearly went mad with joy. Mimi jumped like a young kid,
waving a pretty scarf; Musette, with each hand in a little green boot,
threw her arms round Marcel's neck and clapped the boots like cymbals;
as for Phémie, she could only sob "Ah, mon Alexandre, mon Alexandre!"
The choice was made, the bills discharged, and it was announced to the
dames that they must have their new dresses ready for a day in the
country on the morrow. That was a trifle; for sixteen hours they cut and
stitched, and when next day the Angelus sounded from the neighbouring
church they were already taking their last look into the looking-glass.
Only Phémie had a little sorrow. "I like the green grass and the little
birds," she said, "but one meets nobody in the country. Suppose we made
our excursion on the boulevard." But they went to Fontenay-aux-Roses
instead, and when they returned late at night there were only six francs
left. "What shall we do with it?" asked Marcel. "Invest it in the
funds," said Schaunard.

There are, doubtless, artistic _coteries_ to-day in whose existence
parallels may be found to the "Scènes de la Vie de Bohème," but
reproduction is impossible, for Murger's Bohemia, no less than _la
Bohème galante_, was conditioned by its time. The conditions include a
Paris of provincial narrowness, greater simplicity together with less
conspicuous uniformity in ordinary life, less elaborate amusements, no
Montmartre _cafés_, no swamping proletariat beside whose _mœurs
d'Apaches_ the eccentricities of Bohemia seem mild and unimportant, a
tiny fraction of the present opportunities for advertisement and
publicity, and a lower standard, perhaps, of general education. To these
one other condition may be added--the existence of Musette and Mimi, who
were the last of the _grisettes_. Murger himself, in a passage which I
cannot do better than quote in the original, points out clearly their
transitoriness:

     "Ces jolies filles moitié abeilles, moitié cigales, qui
     travaillaient en chantant toute la semaine, ne demandaient à
     Dieu qu'un peu de soleil le dimanche, faisaient vulgairement
     l'amour avec le cœur, et se jetaient quelquefois par la fenêtre.
     Race disparue maintenant, grâce à la génération actuelle des jeunes
     gens: génération corrompue et corruptrice, mais par-dessus tout
     vaniteuse, sotte et brutale. Pour le plaisir de faire de méchants
     paradoxes, ils ont raillé ces pauvres filles à propos de leurs
     mains mutilées par les saintes cicatrices du travail, et elles
     n'ont bientôt plus gagné assez pour s'acheter de la pâte d'amandes.
     Peu à peu ils sont parvenus à leur inoculer leur vanité et leur
     sottise, et c'est alors que la grisette a disparu. C'est alors que
     naquit la lorette."

[Illustration: A Grisette]

The _grisette_ made love for love: like a wild rose, she had to be
plucked, and when men came to prefer buying bouquets in shops, she
naturally died away. Money already tainted Bohemia, even here, in its
heart. The opportunity of luxury tempted both Mimi and Musette to be
unfaithful, but since caprice was ever stronger with them than
self-interest they were not undeserving to be called the last of the
_grisettes_. They were necessary adjuncts to Bohemia, and satisfactory
adjuncts, in spite of their caprices, for the last thing which Bohemian
man required was the Bohemian or--to use an obsolete phrase--the
"emancipated" woman. Too ignorant to meet their lovers, even had they
wished, upon their own ground, they held their place by keeping to their
natural advantage, the woman's desire to please. So they passed through
life, making the feast more festive and the fast less desolate, filling
a void and mending a sorrow as light-heartedly as they darned a sock or
patched a ragged coat. Mimi and Musette were the true counterparts of
Rodolphe and Marcel, and it is with regret that we see them disappear
into an epilogue of prosperity and propriety. Yet it was all they could
do, for what I have called the Bohemia of common mortality became
dangerous long before the age of thirty years. Rodolphe could not have
written in middle age to Marcel as Bouchardy did to Théophile Gautier;
only hypocritically could he have said "nous étions ivres du beau."
Murger escapes any false effect of that kind in his conclusion:

     "'We are done for, old fellow,' says Marcel, 'we are dead and
     buried. Youth only comes once! Where are you dining to-night?'

     "'If you like,' answered Rodolphe, 'we will go and dine for twelve
     sous at our old restaurant in the Rue du Four, where the plates are
     of village earthenware, and where we were always so hungry when we
     had finished eating.'

     "'Good heavens, no. I don't mind looking back at the past, but it
     shall be across a bottle of decent wine and seated in a good
     arm-chair. It is no use, I'm corrupted. I only care now for what is
     good!'"



X

MURGER AND HIS FRIENDS

_Si on excepte quelques natures fortement trempées qui se tirèrent des
impasses de la Bohème, le reste fut condamné à vivre difficilement en
face d'un idéal borné et sans avenir. Ni études, ni loisirs, ni aisances
ne permettaient à ces aspirants à l'art de s'élever et de conquérir un
nom._

    CHAMPFLEURY:

"Souvenirs et Portraits de Jeunesse"


In order to catch at a glance the result of a lapse of years I lingered
in the last chapter over Rodolphe, Mimi, and their friends, figures
drawn from the moving scene of contemporary life, yet snatched from the
changes of time as permanently as those on Keats's Grecian urn. The
"Scènes de la Vie de Bohème" show, as it seems to me, more clearly than
any other kind of record, the decadence of Bohemia, regarding the degree
of its approach to an ideal of complete artistic existence, since the
great days that followed 1830. This might, indeed, be a warrant for not
returning to more documentary facts at all, but there are always those
to be considered who view Fiction as a sprite so far divorced from
actuality that they are unable to place any trust in her indications.
The teller of stories, in their apprehension, is always on the look-out
for a good effect, to which end he will minimize the essential and
magnify the unessential, distorting sober fact at the call of his
individual imagination. They are the people who read novels, as they
say, for relaxation, while finding wisdom alone in biographies and
memoirs bristling with dates and packed with quotations. The question,
"What, after all, is sober fact?" is sufficient to put them into
confusion, but to propound that ancient problem would be here beside the
mark, for in a book that honestly professes to be as sober in fact as
any it would be unbecoming unduly to press the point on behalf of
fiction. The warrant, therefore, will be allowed to pass, and we return
to those tales which men have told about themselves and their friends
under the names which they bore at baptism, duly signed and dated. Such
information as they give concerning the later years of Bohemia is, at
best, fragmentary, but the fragments have some appearance of falling
together in the light of Murger's picture. A more diligent research
might have produced a more detailed record, but it may be questioned
whether the total effect would have been any clearer. There were scores
of obscure persons in Bohemia, but their daily uprising and lying-down
were not so very widely different. At least this may be asserted, that
after a certain number of facts it is safer to use the imagination for
the rest.

Murger and his friends were the legitimate successors of _la Bohème
galante_, and in view of their fictitious counterparts already
introduced the main interest of this chapter lies with them. Yet before
they appear there are some byways of Bohemia that call for inspection as
an illustration and a contrast. Bohemia was, of course, always bordered
on one side by the student life of the Quartier Latin, the freedom and
licence of which were both different and older in origin, going back to
the days of the schoolmen, when indigent scholars of all nations filled
the great university cities of Europe, forming in each a picturesque but
turbulent community. Even in most prosaic days the students of Paris
have kept up the medieval tradition, but particular manifestations would
naturally be influenced by the manners of the day. It is, therefore, not
surprising that the student quarter was profoundly affected by the
Romantic movement, and reflected its battles and its extravagances with
a hilarious distortion. The motley world of the Quartier Latin and those
who, though no longer students, remained attached to it had their "local
colour," their Gothic enthusiasms, and their orgies. They had dining
clubs with fantastic names, such as "Les 45 jolis cochons," which
indulged in something very like bump-suppers, with loud singing in the
streets, window-breaking, and practical joking to follow. The campaign
of "Hernani" was imitated in the Salle Chanteraine--a theatre for
amateurs--where there was nightly a _fracas_ with fisticuffs between
the various factions. Elaborate farces were organized to mystify the
good people of Paris, of which Maxime du Camp gives a good example in
his "Souvenirs Littéraires." It was called "La grande chevauchée de la
côtelette aux cornichons." Thirty young men, dressed in velvet
waistcoats and nankeen jackets, with long hair and beards, headed by a
certain young teacher of history waving a stick, marched solemnly in
serried single file with a halting step, dangling their arms at the same
time, from the Place Pigalle over the Pont Royal, crying in unison, "Une
deux, une deux, le choléra, le choléra!" At the end of the Pont Royal
they turned round in a body and shouted, "Connaissez-vous le thermomètre
de l'ingénieur Chevalier?" Solemnly facing about again, they proceeded
as before to Sainte-Mandé, where they lunched off pork cutlets.

The special home of the wildest jokers and most desperate caricatures of
the new spirit was a certain tumble-down barrack, No. 9 Rue Childebert,
a street on the south side of that beautiful old church
Saint-Germain-des-Prés, and now merged in the Boulevard Saint-Germain.
This house, familiarly called "La Childebert," was five or six stories
high and thoroughly decayed, for its owner, a Madame Legendre, refused
to carry out any repairs. She was justified in this attitude to some
extent by the fact that few of her tenants paid any rent. Indeed,
according to one witness, no man in his senses would have paid any rent
for a room upon the top floor from 1837 onwards. One student, however,
an ingenious fellow called Lepierre, who both lived on the top floor and
paid his rent, succeeded in forcing the stingy lady to repair the roof.
Having been drenched one night during a hard storm, he took his revenge
by removing a portion of his flooring, and hiring all the peripatetic
water-carriers that could be found to pour water down the hole. The
_concierge_ remonstrated, but in vain, and Madame Legendre was sent for
in hot haste. When she arrived in a cab she was gaily serenaded by the
inhabitants, and on proceeding to the flooded room she was horrified to
find Lepierre in the costume of Adam before the Fall, who claimed a
right, he said, to have a bath at his _own_ convenience. Madame Legendre
fled, but the roof was repaired. The gay desperadoes of La Childebert
were capable of carrying through any _charge_, howsoever lurid. One of
the most successful was known as "le nez de Bouginier." Bouginier was an
artist, the size of whose nose inspired his friend Fourreau with the
idea of an exaggerated caricature in which this feature was made
enormous. A stencil was cut and copied, and for many days Bouginier's
nose appeared on all the walls in Paris. It is even alleged that two
parties of students, about to travel in the East and wishing to meet on
the voyage, hit on the simple plan of following Bouginier's nose. The
party starting first took a stencil with them, so that the second
party, leaving a fortnight later, were able to track them to
Marseilles, Malta, Alexandria, and Suez. In a certain medallion in the
Passage du Caire, just south of the Boulevard Bonne Nouvelle,
Bouginier's nose is still immortalized. La Childebert was always "up to"
something, but a certain fancy-dress _conversazione_ completely
convulsed the neighbourhood. The schools of art and poetry dressed
according to their views, and by universal consent the Romantics, for
all they could do in pourpoints, doublets, and general local colour,
were easily beaten by the Classicists. Romulus and Remus with their wolf
and Hercules with the Nemean lion created a _furore_; so great was the
real consternation of the district at the apparition of these wild
beasts that the commissary of police had to intervene. The wolf and the
lion suffered themselves to be led with great docility to his office,
where they turned out to be a great Dane and a mastiff respectively,
painted and padded with diabolical cleverness.

La Childebert was strongly represented in a revellers' club called "Les
Badouillards," that flourished between 1835 and 1838. In "Paris
Anecdote" Privat d'Anglemont, who is the chief authority on the
Childebertian doings, describes the qualifications of a perfect
Badouillard. He had to pass a regular test before entering the bacchic
brotherhood; he had to be strong and agile, a clever and ready boxer,
fencer, and wrestler, he must have proved his courage in several
encounters, shown a fine taste in choreographic fantasy at the
Chaumière and an ability to engage in a duel of slang with any chance
person, and have sworn eternal feud against the sleep and peace of mind
of all _bourgeois_. The initiation was a solemn and trying ceremony. It
began with a copious dinner, followed by a ceaseless absorption of
various liquors till the time came for going to the ball. Here the
candidate stayed all night, behaving as outrageously as possible. He
then adjourned without sleep to breakfast, and passed the rest of the
day in the _cafés_ of the Quartier Latin, drinking, playing billiards,
and flirting. At night the programme was repeated, and if by the third
night he had accepted every challenge, never fallen asleep, nor tumbled
under any table, he was allowed to seek his bed a perfect Badouillard.

For all its light-hearted absurdities La Childebert was not Bohemia, for
its existence belonged rather to that of irresponsible students than of
artists. I only mention it by way of contrast, as I now mention again
Privat d'Anglemont, the author of "Paris Inconnu" and "Paris Anecdote,"
legendary as a Bohemian, but of a very different type. These two curious
and valuable books are a complete study of the seamy side of Paris
during the latter part of Louis Philippe's reign. The life of the
porters in the Halles, the _chiffonniers_, and all the pliers of obscure
trades, with their customs, their dwellings, and their manners, is most
faithfully reproduced in them in a manner which could only have been
made possible by a complete identification of the author with the
subjects of his observation. Such, in fact, was the lifework of Privat
d'Anglemont, a Creole born in Guadeloupe. He became the legendary
_noctambule_ of Paris, realizing, as Charles Monselet says in his
preface to "Paris Anecdote," the popular idea of a Bohemian--that is,
simply an eccentric vagabond. In the sense of the word as used in this
book, he was not a Bohemian at all, for, though he wrote articles and
books upon his experiences, he was in no sense an artist, nor was he
striving to make his life conformable to artistic liberty. He was
animated simply by a gipsy passion for roaming, combined with a taste
for mystery and romancing. Faithful as his books were, he hardly ever
_spoke_ the truth: twenty times he told Théodore de Banville the history
of his life, and each time it was different. Still, he merits a word
here on account of his reputation as the complete Bohemian, a reputation
increased by his being an easy peg on which to hang any fantastic story
that came into a journalist's brain. Théodore de Banville, who first met
him in 1841 and, according to Monselet, idealized him absurdly, gives
some curious recollections of him in "Mes Souvenirs." He was a handsome
man, dark, tall, and slender, rather resembling the elder Dumas. He
passed most of his life wandering about the low quarters of Paris in
complete poverty, often begging a meal from one of the _cabaretiers_ of
the Halles, who all loved him. Yet, de Banville avers, he was not
really unprovided for, since at irregular intervals a relative used to
send him about £200 from America in gold pieces. But Privat d'Anglemont
preferred to live without money, so that he never hesitated in getting
rid of this burden as soon as possible by standing a dinner to all the
poor and hungry women he could find in the tiny inn called the "Bœuf
Enragé," at the bottom of the Rue de la Harpe. Like Gérard de Nerval, he
would set out on a voyage at a moment's notice and without a moment's
preparation, and such was his charm that he had affectionate friends in
the lower quarters of many a French town. Once during his nightly
wanderings he was stopped by some robbers. "But I'm Privat," he said,
roaring with laughter. At which the robbers joined in the laugh, and
invited him to supper. By a ruined hut they sat down to drink the best
champagne in the light of the stars, to smoke, and to tell stories.
Privat delighted his hosts, who invited him to meet them again; but he
shook his head, saying, "N'engageons pas l'avenir."

Privat d'Anglemont, who eventually died of consumption, did little more
than carry on the traditions of the "noctambules," less mischievously
than their founder, Rétif de la Bretonne, less modestly and artistically
than Gérard de Nerval, but so much more seriously than either of his
predecessors that he left little scope for a new departure to his own
successor, Alfred Delvau. He was not, in the truest sense, a Bohemian,
though he led an existence ever bordering on the confines of Bohemia.
The same may be said, in a more transitory sense, of Flaubert, the great
renovator and refiner of Romanticism. Most of his life was spent in the
country, but there was a short period when he came to study law in
Paris, which, if it were not mentioned, might justify a challenge from
readers familiar with "L'Education Sentimentale" or Maxime du Camp's
"Souvenirs Littéraires." So far as the first of these books is
concerned, little time need here be spent in finding relevant points of
comparison. The last thing which Flaubert desired to portray in that
depressing picture was an existence in any sense artistic. His hero is a
provincial youth who, during his student days in Paris, drifts aimlessly
and indolently through a variety of second-rate experiences in company
with second-rate friends. Flaubert's own experiences are, no doubt,
frequently worked into the material, but "L'Education Sentimentale" is
nothing so cheap as autobiography served in a thin sauce of fiction. It
is a novel in which the author has with the highest exercise of
penetrative imagination treated what Mr. Henry James would call the
"germ"--the dreary wastefulness, that is, of such a life in case of such
a young man as Frédéric Moreau, who with Madame Bovary is Flaubert's
contribution to the pathology of _le mal romantique_. Flaubert himself,
with all his excitability and extravagance, was of a much stronger
stamp; the strength of his artistic conviction saved him from all such
flabbiness. He came to Paris to study law, but, having failed to pass
his examination, returned to his home in 1843. If he had stayed he might
easily have become one of the leading figures, certainly a powerful
influence, in that Bohemia which Murger knew. Maxime du Camp, who made
his acquaintance early in 1843, shows him as a young man living always
at a high pitch with the flamboyant vitality that would have done no
dishonour to the Impasse du Doyenné, so far was he from being the victim
of Frédéric's weak-kneed desolation. He passed his days in an
alternation of prodigality and poverty, spending fifty francs on his
dinner one day and feeding on a crust and a slab of chocolate the next.
He lived in a kind of intellectual tornado, both frantic and noisy. He
went into ecstasies over mediocre works in which he perceived beauties
hidden from the rest of the world, but which he loved to point out
stridently to his friends, intoning the prose, roaring the verse at the
top of his voice, repeating incessantly any word which took his
passionate fancy, and filling all the neighbourhood with his din. He
would wake up a friend without compunction at three in the morning to
show him a moonlight effect on the Seine; one moment he would be
inventing sauces to make brill appetizing, and the next he would be
plotting to smack Gustave Planche's face for having spoken slightingly
of Victor Hugo. The _cénacle_ composed of Louis de Cormenin, Le
Poitevin, Du Camp, and himself often dined at Dagneaux's, one of the
better restaurants of the Quartier Latin, and stayed talking ceaselessly
till the doors were closed. Their ambitions were as wild as their
conversation; Flaubert and Du Camp seriously determined to learn
everything between the ages of twenty-one and thirty, to produce great
works till forty, and then to retire into the country. Except for the
fact that, according to his friend, Flaubert disdained the women whom
his beauty attracted, this was a promising beginning for Bohemia. As the
world knows, fate decreed otherwise, and he retired to develop in that
close intellectual atmosphere with Louis Bouilhet and Du Camp, of which
the latter says: "Living as we did, in solitude, we exchanged only the
same set of ideas apart from all criticism, so that things in general
lost their right proportion in our minds."

Flaubert's life in the Rue de l'Est was, at best, only a tentative
pathway in Bohemia, like one of those tracks in a suburb that give hope
of leading somewhere, but change their mind _en route_. It is too small
a digression to be distracting, and I entered upon it, among other
reasons, because its little adventure coincides in date with those
movements in the central market-place yet to be touched on. One more
alley, however, must be taken on the way, for it is, indeed, only just
off the market-place. The name upon its wall is that of Charles
Baudelaire, a well-known figure whose exact relation to Bohemia is,
nevertheless, not so easy to determine. He began very much in the manner
of Flaubert, coming as a student to the Quartier Latin and residing at a
not very strictly kept _pension_ near the Panthéon between 1839 and
1841, his eighteenth and his twentieth years. I need not repeat the
distinction made between student life--_das Burschenleben_--and
out-and-out Bohemianism. Baudelaire filled his days to their fullest
extent, mixing together indiscriminately the enjoyments of student,
dandy, and _viveur_, so far as his means allowed. It was only at the end
of this time that his determination to take up literature scandalized
his stepfather and caused his enforced sea voyage. When he returned in
1842 he had come of age and possessed a capital of 75,000 francs. He set
about spending this money with a gusto and in a manner not unworthy of
the golden age of Bohemia. He had various lodgings till he settled for
two years in a beautiful apartment in the old Hôtel Pimodan on the Île
St.-Louis, where his comrade was the painter Boissard, a good artist
who, as Gautier said, exhausted himself in enthusiasms, and in whose
wonderful Louis XIV salon the society of _hachischiens_ met. Had
Baudelaire been a true Bohemian at heart he might have instituted a
second _Bohème galante_, but he was wanting in that simplicity and
goodfellowship which are signal qualities in the Bohemian character. He
wished to make his life, like his art, a study in exquisite intensity,
so that in the days of his splendour his mode of living was rather that
of a "dandy" than anything else. He dressed with immense care, but in a
bygone fashion; he pursued every kind of sensation, frequented every
kind of society, and became the leader of a set who carefully cultivated
eccentricity for its own sake, an eccentricity too _posé_ to serve as a
type of Bohemian manners. To make himself a subject of astonishment was
his chief amusement, to which end his devices--such as entering a
restaurant with a friend and feigning to begin a story with the loud
exordium: "After I had murdered my poor father----"--were innumerable.
So much may be said with a certain pity or amusement, but it must also
be admitted that a certain refinement, both social and intellectual,
kept him from associating himself entirely with the not
over-discriminating Bohemia of his generation. It is all the more fair
to say this because after 1844, when his stepfather got a guardian
appointed to take charge of his remaining capital and he was reduced to
eking out a reduced income by journalism, with all its attendant
disappointments and hardships, he chose with some discrimination the
extent to which he would throw in his lot with the Bohemian life for
which he had by that time every qualification. He became a friend of
Murger and many other complete Bohemians, and there is a story of his
asking the original of Schaunard to dine and giving him a piece of Brie
cheese and two bottles of claret, asking him to imagine that he was
enjoying the dessert after a good dinner. Yet his real intimates were a
band of young men, Théodore de Banville, Charles Monselet, Villiers de
l'Isle Adam, and Leconte de l'Isle, who chose to maintain a certain
amount of order in the midst of eccentricity and found boisterous
joviality less to their taste than the more delicate affectations of
wit. Here again I hold no brief for the complete Bohemians. They had
their compensating virtues, but it is hardly doubtful that Baudelaire
and his friends were the better educated and the more truly artistic set
of the two. This, perhaps, was the greatest tragedy of Bohemia's
decline, that its spiritual distinction faded with its material
well-being. At any rate, for a combination of reasons, laudable and the
reverse, Baudelaire's set was not Bohemia, and if, as I leave them, I
may insist particularly on one of the less laudable reasons, it is that
pose, which is another form of convention, must by the very conception
of Bohemia be excluded from its characteristics. Nadar hits the
difference when, in his curious little book on Baudelaire, which is
written in an idiom describable as a French version of that elliptical
quaintness associated with our own _Pink 'Un_, he writes: "Avec ces
épileptiques, combien loin du sans façon tout bonhomme, de la simplesse
à la bonne franquette de mon autre bande de Bohème, 'la bande de Murger'
et de notre 'Société des buveurs d'eau.' ..."

We return, then, to the author of "Scènes de la Vie de Bohème" at the
end of a rather circuitous route. In speaking of the Bohemia which he
immortalized I have called it, in distinction from certain modifications
or superficial resemblances, the central market-place, but no more need
be sought in that phrase than an effort to represent it by a handy image
as exhibiting the main civic qualities and manners implied in the
generic name. Compared with earlier days, a far less proud and bustling
burgherdom trod its rather muddy paving-stones, for it had suffered as
some agricultural centre when railways were beginning. Yet any pride of
succession which they may have had was legitimately theirs, for, if they
were less materially and intellectually endowed, if the peculiarly happy
circumstances of their civic foundation had passed to make their
ultimate disruption certain under the changed conditions of all that is
included in social development, they still preserved the Bohemian
character, with its simplicity, gaiety, humour, and courage. To labour
the point further is unnecessary, for if it is not already clear, the
fault is too remote to be here corrected. In the "Scènes de la Vie de
Bohème" all the daily comedy and tragedy of this Bohemia of common
mortality finds expression: the life there described so intimately and
humorously stands or falls by its artistic truth, to which no amount of
possible documentary corroboration adds an iota. Nevertheless, the
professed concession to a desire for ascertainable "facts" with which
this chapter opened must be made, at the risk of seeming to expose the
vanity of the researcher as the real object of indulgence. Since, in the
garrulous world of to-day, nobody can make the least incursion into the
public eye, much less produce a successful book or picture, without the
appearance of a crop of "personal notes," so Murger's picture may be
taken for granted, and what follows may appear in the light of "personal
notes," claiming no more connexion than a general relation to the
picture.

Murger[28] was no son of a landed proprietor nor even sprung from a
middle-class family, as most Bohemians naturally were, for the whole
life of Bohemia presupposes a more or less literary education seldom
vouchsafed to the children of lower social order. His father was a
German tailor in the Rue des Trois Frères, who wished, not without
reason, that his son should succeed him in his trade. Murger's early
education was therefore confined to the rudiments, and his deficiencies
in that respect were a burden upon him all his life. The career of a
tailor, for all that, aroused his utmost aversion; through his two
friends, Emile and Pierre Bisson, who became clerks, he acquired a
violent taste for poetry, with the composition of which he judged the
shears incompatible. His father took the rebellion hardly, but got him a
place, since he liked pens and paper so much, as errand-boy to an
_avoué_, an occupation in which he continued to cultivate his poetic
inclinations. When seventeen years old, in 1839, through the interest of
M. de Jouy, a critic and member of the Academy, he was appointed
secretary to a Russian diplomat, M. de Tolstoi. His salary was only 40
francs a month, out of which he had to pay a small _pension_ to his
father for board and lodging; still, he was happy. His duties were very
light, and his employer, who also had a literary turn, took a certain
amount of interest in him and gave him occasional presents of money.
During the next two years he made the acquaintance of that group of
friends on which he drew for his stories of Bohemia, and experienced two
love affairs. The first object of his affections was "la cousine
Angèle," the heroine of a chapter in "Scènes de la Vie de Bohème," in
which Rodolphe in his draughty garret, by dint of burning his great
tragedy in the stove, warms himself sufficiently to write the
commemorative poem for the tombstone of a defunct _bourgeois_, buying
with the proceeds a bunch of white violets for his disdainful cousin.
The second was a certain Marie, who eventually ran away with one of his
friends--a tragedy which he relates in "Scènes de la Vie de Jeunesse."
By this time he had become a thoroughly developed Bohemian, intolerant
of all restraint. He left his father's home, and even for a time gave up
his post with M. de Tolstoi.

It was then that Henry Murger's Bohemia was definitely formed, a society
described by one of them as "ce demi-quarteron de poètes à l'outrance,
mais absolument inédits, réunis dans un tas, sans vestes ni semelles, ne
doutant de rien, ni de leur lendemain, ni de leur génie, ni du génie de
leur voisin, ni de l'éditeur à venir, ni du succès, ni des belles dames,
ni de la fortune--de rien, si ce n'est de leur dîner du soir, trop
convaincus, d'ailleurs, quant à la question de leur déjeuner du matin."
Their names were the brothers Bisson, Lelioux, Noel, Nadar, Guilbert,
Vastine, the brothers Desbrosses, Cabot, Villain, Tabar, Chintreuil,
Pottier, Karol, Schann, and Vernet. They called themselves the "Société
des Buveurs d'Eau," but they were by no means so quixotic as Murger
draws that society in "Scènes de la Vie de Bohème." It was simply a
union for mutual help, the rules of which did not bar any commercial
occupation. The members lived as they pleased or as they could, and
water was only a compulsory beverage at the official monthly meetings,
when they all submitted their work to the criticism of their brethren.
Their ordinary occupations were various enough. Noel gave drawing
lessons; another was a judicial stenographer; Jacques Desbrosses,
nicknamed Christ--the original of "Jacques D----" in "Scènes de la Vie
de Bohème"--and Cabot drew designs for monumental masons; the other
Desbrosses, called Gothique, earned a little money by painting
door-signs for midwives; Schann, the original of Schaunard, was a
musician, and Wallon, Murger's Colline, who joined the society later,
eked out his barren philosophy by giving lessons; Chintreuil, afterwards
to become a well-known artist, was then a bookseller's assistant, with
Champfleury for his colleague; and Nadar, otherwise F. Tournachon, whom
Alphonse Karr describes as "a kind of giant with immense legs, long
arms, a long body with a shaggy head of red hair above it, and staring,
intelligent, flashing eyes," was the poet and journalist who became a
celebrated balloonist and an immensely successful photographer. His
caricature hangs in the section of the Musée Carnavalet devoted to early
aeronautics in Paris.

We may take it from Murger that the shortcomings of fortune were borne
with humorous fortitude on the credit of her occasional smiles, but
there was no illusion about the privations. Nadar, Champfleury, and
Delvau all agree that a bitter wind blew upon them. It was not so bad,
in Nadar's opinion, so long as they lived more or less together, and
this they did for a short time in an old house by the Barrière d'Enfer,
which looked like a farm with a farmyard inhabited by hens. Champfleury
made their acquaintance at this time in a little dairy where they
sometimes took their meals. It was a strange society. Some wore blouses,
others Phrygian caps, while the brothers Desbrosses had large sky-blue
overcoats, turned back with pink satin and fastened by huge
mother-of-pearl buttons. These two brothers were the originators of the
colony at the Barrière d'Enfer, and its chiefs "surtout par leur
misère." They harboured some of the others, who found a resting-place
for the night in two hammocks slung in their small room. Murger was
among them, the art of painting being for the moment his preoccupation.
Fine days were spent lounging on the roof and contemplating the then
rural surroundings. Anybody arriving with five francs in his pocket
would have been regarded as a millionaire; indeed, they were happy
enough when they could afford a few fried potatoes for dinner. Yet they
would not have exchanged their hovel for the Garden of Eden, and they
fed upon their dreams with inexhaustible confidence. Privation was still
worse when the society broke up. One Bohemian lived a whole week on raw
potatoes brought by his poor mother from the country; another went three
days without food; another passed a winter shirtless in a calico blouse
and a lasting waistcoat; another, as a device to keep himself warm, used
to carry a log of wood up to his high garret, drop it over the
banisters, and run down to fetch it again; an older Bohemian who heard
of this manœuvre exclaimed: "Spendthrift, why the log?"

Henry Murger himself, who had abandoned painting and definitely adopted
the vocation of a sentimental poet, went to live with his friend
Lelioux, first in the Rue Montholon and then in that garret at £4 a year
in the Rue de la Tour d'Auvergne where Rodolphe's friends "drank badly
filtered water out of eclectic earthenware" at his Wednesday receptions.
He had resumed his employment with M. de Tolstoi, but he was too
improvident to keep out of misery for many days together. More than once
he became so ill with purpura, an eruptive disease due in his case to
the abuse of coffee, that he had to go to the hospital. Some extracts
from his letters during these years will give an idea of his
destitution. On December 14, 1841, he writes:

     "Les Desbrosses passent la moitié de la journée à ne pas manger et
     l'autre à crever de froid. Les chats se méfient d'eux, et, en fait
     de chéminée, ils ne possèdent que leurs pipes--bien des fois sans
     tabac."

March 6, 1842:

     "Sans le Christ, qui m'a donné à dîner et à déjeuner quatre fois la
     semaine, je ne sais pas ce que je serais devenu. Ce garçon n'a pas
     volé son surnom."

April 25, 1843:

     "Nous crevons de faim; nous sommes au bout du rouleau. Il faut
     décidément se faire un trou quelque part ou se faire sauter la
     cervelle."

March 17, 1844:

     "De Charybde en Sylla, mon cher ami! La misère est plus horrible
     que jamais chez moi et autour de moi. Ma place au _Commerce_ n'a
     pas eu de suite; je suis de nouveau sur le pavé. C'est horrible!
     Aussi le découragement m'a-t-il pris et tout à fait submergé.
     Encore quelques jours de cette position et je me fais sauter la
     cervelle ou je m'engage dans la marine.--Pardonne-moi ces plaintes!
     C'est le cri de la _fin_."

Like Colline, he punned even in his misery.

Letters of this doleful nature do not throw a very gay light upon the
Bohemian market-place, where there was high competition for a small
custom and prices ruled low. They contain a truth which no consideration
of Bohemia can omit, but it was not the whole truth, as Murger himself
testifies in his stories. It was a life of good days as well as bad,
even in the leanest years, or "Scènes de la Vie de Bohème" could never
have been written. Murger himself had already begun to hand some small
wares over his counter. Rodolphe, the poet, it will be remembered, did
not disdain to edit a small fashion paper called _L'Écharpe d'Iris_, in
which, to Colline's extravagant delight, he inserted the philosopher's
articles on metaphysics. This was a direct touch from life, for Bohemia
in more than one instance lent its pen to trade. There was a certain
Charles Vincent who edited two papers of the leather trade, _Le
Moniteur de la Cordonnerie_ and the _Halle aux Cuirs_. In his editorial
capacity he retained all the new pairs of boots and shoes sent in by
advertisers, and with these he often paid his contributors. Murger in
1843 edited _Le Moniteur de la Chapellerie_, the industrial fruits of
which were, no doubt, less profitable, but even a few hats and a few
francs a month were of considerable value in Bohemia. They were, of
course, nothing like the editorial profits of to-day. Receipts were
extremely precarious, when, even on a well-written literary paper like
_L'Artiste_, the application of a contributor for payment caused a
considerable rummaging in tills and pockets before twenty-five francs
could be found _dans la boutique_.[29] Yet small change was enough to
stand a Bohemian holiday, and Murger's gloomy letters must be discounted
by balancing them against Rodolphe's expedition to Versailles with
Mademoiselle Laure after he had ransacked Paris for the five francs
necessary to do that expedition in sufficient style. It would be absurd
to suppose that Murger, with Nadar, Schann, and a _grisette_ or two, did
not sometimes invade the Chaumière in a joyous band or wake from sleep
the serious inhabitants of the Rue de la Tour d'Auvergne.

At the same time, howsoever the balance of pleasure and pain be struck,
it is clear that happy memories of this Bohemia could only remain to
those for whom it was only a necessary stage in life and not a
death-trap. This tendency to poetic melancholy and the painful slowness
with which he worked might have caused Henry Murger to sink for ever
like many of his friends. He was saved, in the first instance, by
Champfleury, who, when he was finally sold up in the Rue de la Tour
d'Auvergne, took him to live in the Rue de Vaugirard and induced him to
abandon poetry for prose. Jules Husson-Fleury, who was born at Laon in
1821 and became a well-known writer under the name of Champfleury, a
great collector of prints and porcelain, on which he wrote some valuable
monographs, and finally the director of the Sèvres manufactory, passed
through Bohemia during the same years as Murger, and in his "Souvenirs
et Portraits de Jeunesse" records many lively experiences. He first came
to Paris as shop-boy and assistant in a bookseller's shop where, as I
have already said, the future painter Chintreuil was in the same
service. Champfleury lost his place for reading the books on his errands
instead of delivering them to the customers, but during this year 1839
he saw something of Murger and the colony of the brothers Desbrosses. He
then left Paris for a year or two, and returned when Murger was living
in the Rue de la Tour d'Auvergne, though the acquaintance was not at
once renewed. It was approximately in 1845 that they went to live
together in the Rue de Vaugirard, after Champfleury had met Murger
again in the hospital. They did not by any means leave Bohemia; in fact,
there is reason to suppose that to some extent the character of Marcel
was drawn from Champfleury. They wrote a vaudeville together which was
never accepted, and attacked the difficult art of writing stories.
Murger was able to place some of his work in _L'Artiste_, the editor of
which was Arsène Houssaye, and in 1846 the "Scènes de la Vie de Bohème"
began to come out in _Le Corsaire_. They were poorly enough paid at the
time, but their dramatisation by Barrière in 1849 proved a huge success,
and from that time onwards Murger settled down to more serious work and
a less disorderly life.

But I am anticipating Champfleury's memories of the last days of
Bohemia. In his view, at any rate so far as Murger and he were
concerned, the indolence of Bohemia has been much exaggerated. "In
reality," he says, "work was the basis of our life." They had a joint
library, to which Murger supplied the poets and Champfleury the
prose-writers. The latter read voraciously to educate himself, but
Murger chiefly thumbed the pages of Victor Hugo and Alfred de Musset; he
took regular doses of Shakespeare in a French translation, traces of
which appear in "Scènes de la Vie de Bohème," but he had little
knowledge of other classic authors. He worked with extraordinary
difficulty; a page of prose cost him a night's work and intense
intellectual labour, for "Murger n'était plein que de son cœur."
Champfleury, for all his friendship, was a shrewd critic when he
observed that his whole vision was introspective: "He swept the same
chimney so often that in the end the plaster came off and the bricks
fell down"; or again: "Besides his little library, his belongings
consisted of worn white gloves, a velvet mask, and a withered bouquet
hung on the walls. All Murger's work lies in his memories--some faded
flowers, a meeting at the Bal de l'Opéra, a heart-ache."

Certain disorders of Bohemia are not excused by Champfleury,
particularly that of not paying debts. His friend Fauchéry, an engraver
who afterwards went to seek his fortune in Australia, induced him at
first to accept the Bohemian code, which was:

1. Never to pay one's rent.

2. To conduct one's removals by the window.

3. To consider all bootmakers, tailors, hatters, and restaurant-keepers
as members of Mr. Credit's family.

Some went so far as to maintain that after a clandestine removal through
the window no piece of furniture which had passed the gutter in the
middle of the street could be reclaimed by the proprietor. This less
creditable attitude of Bohemia, which is sufficiently prominent in
"Scènes de la Vie de Bohème," was repudiated with some shame in after
years by many of Murger's friends. In the book Rodolphe pays his debts
when he settles down, and we have it on the authority of Delvau that
Schann (Schaunard), who eventually kept a respectable toy-shop, and the
original of Musette, who married a chemist, took in their later days a
more usual view of money matters. Champfleury confesses that he himself
was saved by an amiable girl, who for a time became the divinity of his
garret. Unlike Mimi and Musette, she had a horror of debt and
vagabondage and inspired him with a pleasure in his own humble hearth,
so that he gradually detached himself from his comrades, who were for
the most part so ill provided for in the matter of lodging that their
chief workroom was a _café_, where they arrived at nine in the morning,
to leave at midnight. They read the newspapers, played at dominoes or
_tric-trac_, and occasionally did a little work. Fauchéry, in
particular, caused considerable surprise among the regular customers by
bringing his whole engraving apparatus and solemnly setting to work.
Some respect certainly is due to the proprietors of these little
eating-houses who so gallantly put up with and gave credit to this noisy
and not very profitable _clientèle_, who were capable of perpetrating
all the outrages committed by Rodolphe and the rest in their constant
asylum, the Café Momus.

Champfleury says little of the amiable goddess who rescued him from
vagabondage except that she left him, like Mimi, because she grew tired
of cheap muslin, but in another chapter he gives some account of two
other idols of Bohemia whom he calls Mademoiselle M. and Mademoiselle P.
Mademoiselle M. was dark and merry, a thorough coquette who laughed at
wounded hearts; Mademoiselle P. was fair and melancholy, always in tears
for the last lover who had left her. A generation of Bohemians were
their lovers, poets and painters especially. As the generation grew up
the divinities grew wiser, and Mademoiselle M. was the first to do a
little mental arithmetic. For her own friends who had a future the days
of idleness were over; there was no future for her either among the
stranded remainder or in a new generation. Accordingly she departed to
more profitable spheres. Mademoiselle P. stayed a little longer, still
loving her poets, and weeping _toutes les larmes de son corps_ to find
that she had a too formidable rival in the desire for fame which watched
at the door of her lovers' hearts, till finally she found a worthy man
who was no poet to love her and eventually to marry her. Mademoiselle
M., meanwhile, had made by her conquests quite a respectable capital,
with which one fine day she set sail for Algiers. Unhappily she left
Marseilles in a steamer which sank with all hands, so that she and her
gold came to rest at the bottom of the sea--a sad story from which
Champfleury in an unworthy moment makes some show of drawing a moral.
Neither of these young women can be identified with Murger's heroines.
Musette, as I have said, married a chemist; Phémie Teinturière,
Schaunard's choice, was according to Delvau, a not over-respectable
person resembling a heroine of Paul de Kock; as for Mimi, Delvau
asserts that Murger loved her while he wrote the "Scènes de la Vie de
Bohème," and that her life and wretched death are matters of fact.
However, that we may not be too lugubrious let me add that I have read
in the French equivalent of "Notes and Queries" a statement that she
cheerfully lived to keep a stall in the market.

One more bead in this string of scattered "facts," and the hungerers for
documentary evidence must go away satisfied. The disorder of Bohemia
requires no emphasis, but it is curious to note that the persons in whom
its more orderly elements were incarnated were Champfleury himself and
the original of that odd figure, Carolus Barbemuche, the solemn young
tutor who in Murger's story glances so enviously at the _cénacle_ of
Rodolphe, Schaunard, and Marcel in the Café Momus, who saves them from
disaster by paying for their reckless Christmas Eve supper, who demands
so humbly the privilege of being admitted to the clan, who serves so
long and expensive an apprenticeship and gives such a splendid festival
on his reception, even to the length of lending all his own presentable
clothes to his guests for the occasion. Carolus Barbemuche was drawn,
much to his disgust, from Charles Barbara, an obscure writer of
fantastic stories, who joined Murger's Bohemia after acting as tutor to
two boys. He had a face like a sphinx, rarely smiled, and seemed to be
afraid of the wild jokes of his friends. Unlike the rest, he lived
almost a hermit's life, receiving nobody in his garret, and retiring
there every night neither to read nor to write, but to think, a queer
occupation for a Bohemian. Of him Champfleury writes:

     "He and I represented order in a group doomed to disorder; we were
     the _bourgeois_ of Bohemia, as much by our ambitions as our manner
     of living. The details of one day of our life, which continued in
     the same way for ten years, will show the succession of our studies
     and our labours. Rising very early, dashing from my bed to my
     table, I used to write till nine o'clock. An hour sufficed me for
     breakfast and a walk to the library, where I worked till twelve;
     there I used to meet Barbara, whom I took to the public lectures at
     the Collège de France, the Sorbonne, or the Jardin des Plantes. Two
     lectures, an hour each, exhausted our attention, and, resuming our
     walk, we arrived at Schann's temple of music, exclusively
     consecrated to quartets. Two hours of music every day, without
     counting piano trios three times a week at another house, made us
     able to read all the chamber music of the German masters....
     Barbara was the finest instrumentalist in our band; son and brother
     of distinguished musicians, he had received in early youth
     excellent violin lessons, the fruit of which was not lost later,
     and he brought to the leading of a quartet a restrained emotion
     which is to be found in some pages of his writings."

It is an unexpectedly pretty glimpse into a part of Bohemia where Murger
was not at home. When the quartets took place in a little square of the
Quartier Latin, students and _grisettes_ came to listen before the open
window, and workpeople on every story put out their heads to watch for
the arrival of the musicians. Murger's disreputable Schaunard, with his
symphony on _L'influence du bleu dans la musique_, was always, I must
confess, my favourite; but to discover that he played the quartets of
Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Mendelssohn for two hours a day
with Barbemuche and Marcel--well, it was an intoxicating vision.
Schaunard, who had a passion for lobsters, the composer (in his fleshly
form of Schann) of a famous drinking song, as second violin in a
Beethoven quartet--oh pleasant, pleasant fellow, who truly deserved to
come into the comfortable harbour of a toy-shop!

Marcel, so far as he was Champfleury, found a haven too, and lived till
1889. Colline retired to found a new religion in Switzerland, and
Rodolphe-Murger, though he lingered for some years in the band of
artists and writers who haunted the _brasserie_ where Courbet raised the
temple of realism, finally turned his back on dissipation and settled at
Marlotte, even now a charming village near Fontainebleau. His chief
recreation there was hunting, an occupation quite innocuous to the game,
if it be true that a certain hare survived his attentions for a whole
season, and when an unwary keeper shot it one misty afternoon, he
exclaimed with genuine compunction, "Tiens, c'est le lièvre de M.
Murger!" In 1861 he came to die in Paris of arteritis, and all the
literary world visited his bedside. He died two days after his admission
to the hospital, exclaiming, "Pas de musique! Pas de bruit! Pas de
Bohème!" Bohemia, indeed, had long been dead, and in his last moments he
may have recognized that it was well. There was no longer room for it in
a busier, a better-swept world. In its golden age Bohemia did no more
than share the imperfections of all human institutions. It had virtues,
a liberty, a pride, and an ideal of its own. Murger had seen the beauty
become a slattern, pretty no doubt beneath her smuts, gay in the midst
of her sorrows, but free by tolerance, not by protest, her pride almost
in the dust and her ideals in the possession of others. In the words
which Théodore Pelloquet spoke over his grave, Murger belonged to an
evil generation:

     "Il appartenait à une mauvaise génération, à une génération
     vieillie avant l'heure, et, malgré sa vieillesse prématurée, sans
     expérience, sans enthousiasme et sans colère, ayant de la vanité et
     pas du tout d'orgueil, une vanité niaise, puérile, qui se manifeste
     surtout par l'affectation d'une ironie mesquine, en face de tous
     les enthousiasmes et de toutes les grandes causes; à une
     génération, en un mot, qui laissa périr dans ses mains le
     magnifique héritage que lui avaient légué les hommes de 1830."



XI

AMUSEMENTS OF BOHEMIA


The pageant of 1830 has passed, and our gaze has been directed to its
Bohemian ingredients with the purpose of noting the particular marks and
qualities which distinguished Bohemia, and how their particular
manifestations were conditioned and varied by the progress of the years.
Looking out of the window of the present, we have been unable at any
moment to call a halt, lest we should lose a comprehensive view of the
main development. Now that this view has been gained it will do no harm
to send the procession once more before the mind's eye, that we may fix
at leisure any less important details which may seem in themselves
attractive. One of the most happy qualities of the Bohemian nature is
its capacity for amusing itself. Real boredom and lackadaisical idleness
do not come into the list of its shortcomings. The passionate Romantics,
indeed, fashionably suffered from "spleen" and "ennui," they proclaimed
a "cœur usé comme l'escalier d'une fille de joie," but the Bohemian,
so far as he indulged in these peculiarities, was amusing himself. To
him "spleen" and "ennui" were part of the game which he embraced with
enthusiasm and in which he desired to excel; yet they were parts to
which, as a general rule, he did not pay too much attention, preferring
the more positive and assertive sides of Romanticism. Neither Gautier
nor Gérard de Nerval nor Rodolphe nor Schaunard presents himself to the
imagination as suffering from boredom. An unfailing capacity for amusing
oneself and finding amusement in one's fellow-men is an essential
Bohemian _trait_. The preceding chapters have not been wholly devoid of
indications as to the way in which these talents were exercised by the
Bohemian clans, but it was necessary to insist rather on the diversions
which characterized the _particular_ spirit of each brotherhood than on
the general opportunities which they all enjoyed with slight variation.
The field is now open without restriction, and it will not be amiss to
take a glimpse here and there at the Bohemian enjoying his leisure, if
only to add a few vivid touches that will enliven the background of the
picture. The work of Bohemia can always be taken for granted; artistic
endeavour, whether actively or indolently pursued, varies but little in
external feature; the change, the colour, the tragedy and comedy are
only to be found within the artist's mind; but the amusement of Bohemia,
so far from being hidden, courts publicity. It takes its colour, too, so
largely from the changing world around that there is great pictorial
value in its easily observable vicissitudes. For that reason I devote
this chapter to the subject of its title without further apology, but
only with the caution that here the accidents rather than the essentials
of Bohemia are regarded. The privilege of amusement is open to
everybody, but to see what Bohemia made of its privileges in that
respect is, perhaps, to quicken it for the imagination by an extra
spark.

Precisians might say that dress hardly comes under the head of
amusements and that on certain views it is more properly included in the
category of necessities or of nuisances. Yet there is no doubt that for
all women--and for more men than would admit it--to be well dressed is
an enjoyment, a term only differing from amusement by a smaller
suggestion of possible frivolity. It is quite a sufficient warrant, at
all events, for giving dress a small part in this chapter; besides, the
costume of any individual or society is both a sure indicator of
qualities and an apt focus for judgment. In England, the very home of
illustrated books and papers, it is not necessary to say much in evoking
the costume of a past age, so that the subject may be treated quite
shortly, especially as regards the men of Bohemia, whose dress was too
often a deplorable tragedy. When Marcel went to Musette's party with
"Mathusalem" buttoned up to the neck over a blue shirt dotted with the
figures of a boar-hunt he was, as Murger says, "dressed in the worst
taste possible." In such a case there is no more to be said; his
appearance would vary little from age to age. To the Bohemian in his
lean days, certainly, it would be an insult to impute enjoyment of his
tattered wardrobe. Those who most enjoyed dressing, without a doubt,
were the Bohemian generation who cheered "Hernani" with such frenzy, for
they made their _pourpoints_, felt sombreros, Robespierre waistcoats,
and Phrygian caps effective details in the general Romantic
demonstration and, as such, matters of intense pleasure. But these
extravagances have already caught our attention; they were part of that
frantic desire for novelty and colour which was a symptom of _le mal
romantique_; their proper complement was that rage for fancy-dress balls
which broke out shortly after 1830 and laid every nationality and period
under contribution for picturesque costumes. So far as the men are
concerned, it need only be pointed out that the general dress of the
time--against which Bohemia stood out at first and into which it
gradually faded--was that of tight pantaloons with straps, long coats
with full skirts and accentuated waists, full cravats, lavish jewellery,
and high hats in a bewildering variety of shapes, cylindrical, conical,
inverted conical, curly, straight, with broad brims and with scarce a
brim at all--the civilian uniform, in fact, of our own late Georgian and
early Victorian era. It was a dress that only a few could wear with
distinction; on the rest it wrinkled and puffed in inevitable ugliness.
A Roger de Beauvoir could look immaculately moulded, but one has only
to glance at the caricatures of Traviés, Monnier, Daumier, and Gavarni
to see how unequivocally hideous were the clothes of an average man. To
be out at elbows in this exacting fashion was indeed to be a sorry
sight, and one can well imagine poor Lucien de Rubempré to have been in
his provincial attire fair game for the sneers of Rastignac and de
Marsay. Still, even the Bohemian had a new suit at times, and it lights
the memory of Arsène Houssaye, Camille Rogier, Murger, Champfleury, and
the rest to recall that it was not for comfortable lounge suits and
flannels that they got into debt, but for correct suits of "tails,"
flowery waistcoats, top-hats, and patent leather boots. It gives a
quaint touch of decorum to the picture of their wildest excesses.

Women entered Bohemia as guests rather than as inhabitants, and to the
fair visitors conformity to fashion was anything but a trifle. To deck
themselves fittingly was their constant amusement, and one in which they
took good care that their swains should be sharers. The female dress of
the time is well known to us from early pictures of Queen Victoria and
the paintings of Winterhalter; there are few, too, who at one time or
another have not seen some of Gavarni's beautiful fashion plates. The
Empire style had entirely disappeared, and the accent was in 1830 laid
chiefly on the waist. The shoulders were sloping and wide, the sleeves
so voluminous that by 1836 they were like miniature balloons, the skirt
very wide and full, ending above the ankles. The waist and head were
made to seem very small in proportion, so that two loaves placed one on
top of the other would have made a very good caricature of a woman's
figure at any time during the golden age of Bohemia. The hair was
elaborately done to frame a pretty face daintily under a large
poke-bonnet. It was pre-eminently the day of "fragile" women: nothing in
their costume seemed made for hard wear. Cydalise or Victorine, as she
swung in the hammock among the gallants of the Impasse du Doyenné, would
have kicked a little cross-laced foot out from ethereal folds of
flowered muslin, and gathered a gauzy scarf enticingly round bare
shoulders. Fashions were indeed expensive for a fond lover's pocket, but
at least he was never at a loss what to buy for his mistress, so many
were the little accessories to the Graces' toilet. He was never wrong,
for instance, in offering a piece of gay ribbon, for there were bows
everywhere, on the bosom, on the sleeves, and, with long dazzling
streamers, round the waist. There was no end to their variety and
combination of colours, brilliant and pale; even the crudest Scottish
tartans were not considered amiss, as a certain dress in the London
Museum will show the incredulous. If ribbon was too paltry, a man in a
really generous mood would present a cashmere shawl, an expensive and
much appreciated luxury. The manipulation of shawls on frail, rounded
little persons, who, in England at least, still fainted at will and
indulged in the vapours, was a matter of some art. Balzac, in one of his
short stories, asserts that a _femme du monde_ could be distinguished
from the actress or the _grisette_ by the handling of her _cachemire_
alone. There was only one great change in woman's dress between the
earlier and later days of Bohemia, and that was in the sleeves, which
dwindled suddenly as if the balloons had been pricked, and became either
closely fitting or almost disappeared into two little frilly bands. In
fact, during the forties, before skirts began to be exaggerated on
horse-hair paddings and verge upon the crinoline, female costume was as
nearly natural as it can be if corsets be granted. Nothing can be more
charming than the appearance of the Queen of the Belgians in her
portrait by Winterhalter which hangs in the gallery at Versailles. She
wears a red velvet dress, cut simply as to the _corsage_, with the skirt
reaching the ground in full, stately folds: there is no extravagance of
bows and frills, only a little lace at the bosom and sleeves. So, if we
would picture Mimi or Musette, as they were dressed for that memorable
day at Fontenay-aux-Roses, in the new muslin frocks made by their own
hands, we must imagine dainty little women, looking as if a breath would
blow them away, their pretty cheeks showing between two bewitching
clusters of ringlets, straw bonnets with not too large brims upon their
heads, tied with a coquettish ribbon, gowns of flowered muslin, light,
simple, and flowing, and scarfs pinned round their sloping shoulders or
held in place by mittened hands. Gavarin drew them to the life time and
time again, and they were considerably more attractive than any would-be
_Bohémiennes_ of our time in their rough, untidy tweeds or amorphous
"rational" dress.

From the amusement of clothing the body it is an easy transition to that
of refreshing it. Eating and drinking, like dress, may from a certain
point of view come under the head of necessities, but indulgence in good
cheer when possible is a habit of young people of which a Bohemian was
by no means contemptuous. A word, therefore, about his particular haunts
among the thousand _cafés_ and restaurants of Paris will not be out of
season. After 1830 the great houses in the Palais Royal had fallen out
of fashion, and the four leading restaurants of Paris were on the
boulevard. Bohemians, it is true, were not often to be found within
them, but in the golden age, when Bohemia was nearer to the dandies and
_viveurs_, it would at least have been possible that in a moment of
extravagance some Bohemian friend should have accompanied Roger de
Beauvoir into the Café de Paris, the Café Riche, the Café Hardy, or the
Café Anglais. The Café de Paris was opposite Tortoni's, which stood at
the end of the Rue Taitbout. Besides being the home of the aristocratic
_petit cercle_, it was renowned for its witty conversation and its
general air of luxury. Since it was favoured by the aspirants to
smartness, as well as the perfect examples, its society was less select
than that of the Café Riche, at the corner of the Rue Lepeletier, or the
Café Anglais, which still remains in its old position. There was a quiet
solidity about the Café Anglais, in particular, which gave it a peculiar
air of distinction, though its company was gay enough at supper-time. It
was especially famous for its roast meat and its grills, though in these
matters the Café Hardy, at the corner of the Rue Laffitte, ran it close.
Hardy was an English cook who invented the _déjeuner à la fourchette_,
and popularized it by setting up the first silver grill in Paris.
Customers chose their own cutlet or steak and saw it cooked before their
eyes. At all these four the prices were very high, and with regard to
two of them it was said: "On doit être riche pour dîner au Café Hardy,
et hardi pour dîner au Café Riche." However, the chief haunt for
Bohemians with money to spend was the Rocher de Cancale, where it was
easier to be uproarious without offending the proprieties. This famous
restaurant still stands in the dirty, provincial Rue Montorgueil, in the
midst of small shops whose wares overflow on to the pavement. The
stately ornamentation of dark painted wood is still visible on its upper
stories, but the specimens of edibles in its ground-floor windows tell
too plainly to what depths it has sunk. It is no longer a possible home
for Rastignac and his boon companions, nor would it tempt Arsène
Houssaye to entertain there the brethren of _la Bohème galante_, for it
merely plies the trade of the convenient _marchand de vin_ in a rather
squalid quarter. The Rocher de Cancale had declined already during the
later days of Bohemia, and in Murger's day they repaired on _jours de
liesse_ to the Café de l'Odéon, Hill's Tavern in the Boulevard des
Capucines, or the Cabaret Dinochan at the corner of the Rue de Navarin.
The first of these was, in particular, the haunt of Baudelaire and his
friends, where the unfortunate Hégésippe Moreau made his brief
acquaintance with the main stream of Bohemia towards the end of his
days, which had been mainly passed in a backwater. Hill's Tavern was one
of the many chop-houses in the English style that flourished in Louis
Philippe's Paris--only the Petit Lucas, a charming place for a quiet
dinner, remains to-day--to cater for the down-at-elbows Englishmen,
jockeys, and trainers, of whom there was always a certain number. At
supper-time, however, it was invaded by Bohemia, and was often so full
that its doors had to be closed. One of its peculiarities was that its
private rooms were named after Shakespeare, Byron, and other great
poets. The Café Dinochan, according to Delvau,[30] was the ground on
which a great many small papers of the day were started. Monselet,
Nadar, Fauchéry, and Champfleury were among its customers, and Murger
died in debt to its proprietor for twelve hundred francs, for it was
said of this worthy creditor: "On dîne très-bien chez lui quand on a
quarante sous dans une poche--et dix francs dans l'autre." Yet the full
apparatus of a restaurant was not necessary to the gaiety of Bohemian
suppers, for in scanty days they made just as merry in the shops of one
or two bakeries on rolls and warm milk. The Boulangerie Cretaine in the
Quartier Latin was famous for its milk rolls and for the brilliant
conversation of Privat d'Anglemont, who, though it was against his
principle to get into debt, ran up a bill there for halfpenny rolls of
six hundred francs. The other famous baker was the _pâtissier_ Pitou, by
the Porte Montmartre, where a crowd of Bohemians used to congregate
after the midnight closing of the _cafés_. In the back shop was a table
running round three sides of the square, and at this "piano," as it was
called, the quaint figure of Guichardet presided. Guichardet, whose "nez
vermeil et digne" was celebrated in one of Banville's triolets, was a
Bohemian of the type of Balzac's Comte de la Palférine, one who had
voluntarily dropped out of the race of life while preserving all his
dignity and pride. He passed his days in amiable vagabondage, but
preserved "a perfume of exquisite politeness and witty impertinence
which made him the most delightful companion in the world." So says
Delvau, according to whom he was the only man left in France who really
knew how to say "Femme charmante!"

So far I have mainly mentioned the haunts of Bohemians with the means
and inclination for a certain amount of self-indulgence. But in Bohemia
occasions preponderated when indulgence in anything beyond bare
necessities was an impossibility. The left bank swarmed with cheap
refuges for those who had hearty appetites and only a few pence. There
was Viot's for the poorest of the poor; Dagneaux's or Magny's in the Rue
Contrescarpe-Dauphine--rather superior houses where it was possible to
procure a semblance of good cheer; and the Cabaret of Mère Cadet outside
the Barrière Montparnasse, where Schaunard had his first meeting with
Colline over the stewed rabbit with two heads. This last had a garden
which ran along the Montparnasse cemetery, and under the shade of its
dusty shrubs not only literary Bohemians but nearly all the young actors
and actresses of the Théâtre Montparnasse and the Théâtre du Luxembourg
made their scanty meals. You might as well have asked for sphinx there
as chicken, says Delvau, the staple dishes being stewed rabbit and
_choucroute garnie_. To give a longer catalogue of such places would be
neither instructive nor amusing, and their types are easily enough found
in the Paris of to-day. There are two, however, that call for special
mention, for fiction has carried their fame beyond the days of their
material existence. No reader of Balzac's "Illusions Perdues" can have
forgotten the description of the cheap eating-house at the corner of the
Place de la Sorbonne and the Rue Neuve de Richelieu, with the small
panes of glass of its front window, its comforting announcement of _pain
à discrétion_, its long tables like those of a monastic refectory, its
varieties of cow's flesh and veal, and the hurried air of its diners,
who came there to eat and not to loiter. This famous house, where a
dinner of three dishes with a _carafon_ of wine or a bottle of beer cost
ninepence, where Lucien de Rubempré met Lousteau and made the
acquaintance of d'Arthez and his virtuous friends, was the restaurant of
Flicoteaux, no product of Balzac's imagination, but a name known to all
the strugglers for fame and fortune. It was a sure ground on which to
observe Bohemia, not indeed in its greatest indigence, but on the days
when there was at least no margin. Thackeray mentions it in his "Paris
Sketch-Book," and there is a passage in Lytton Bulwer's "France" which
vividly gives the impression produced by Flicoteaux on an English eye:

     "Enter [he says] between three and four o'clock, and take your seat
     at one of the small tables, the greater number of which are already
     occupied. To your right there is a pale young man: his long hair,
     falling loosely over his face, gives an additional wildness to the
     eye, which has caught a mysterious light from the midnight vigil;
     his clothes are clean and threadbare; his coat too short at the
     wrists; his trousers too short at the legs; his cravat of a rusty
     black, and vaguely confining two immense shirt collars, leaves his
     thin and angular neck almost entirely exposed. To your left is a
     native of the South, pale and swarthy: his long black locks, parted
     from his forehead, descend upon his shoulders; his lip is fringed
     with a slight moustache, and the semblance of a beard gives to his
     meditative countenance an antique and apostolic cast. Ranged round
     the room, with their thin, meagre portions of meat and bread, their
     pale decanter of water before them, sit the students, whom a youth
     of poverty and privation is preparing for a life of energy or
     science."

Flicoteaux has long been swept away, and buildings of the Sorbonne now
occupy its site. Gone, too, these many years, is the Café Momus, which
stood in a back street by the old church of Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois,
the hostelry celebrated by so many exploits of Murger's four heroes in
"Scènes de la Vie de Bohème." It was here that Schaunard and Colline
collected Rodolphe for the Bohemian brotherhood, and it became their
home, not so much for meals, though it was the scene of their reckless
Christmas Eve supper which introduced the saviour Barbemuche, but rather
for the lighter _consommations_ over which, by the French custom, they
could spend unlimited hours--a precious privilege when a cold garret was
the only alternative. There was nothing fictitious about the Café
Momus; it was a real establishment serving some respectable shopkeepers
of the quarter, when by some mischance, from the good M. Momus' point of
view, it attracted the Bohemian horde of Murger, Champfleury, Nadar,
Schann, Wallon, and many of the other "Buveurs d'Eau." Even on Murger's
testimony, they must be admitted to have abused their privileges without
shedding any very great glory in return, and we may take as fairly true
the list of grievances which was drawn up by the proprietor against
Rodolphe and his friends, from which it appears that they spent the
whole day there from morning to midnight, making a desert round them
with their strident voices and extravagant conversation; that Rodolphe
carried off all the papers in the morning and complained if their bands
were broken, and that by shouting every quarter of an hour for _Le
Castor_, a journal of the hat trade edited by Rodolphe, the companions
had forced a subscription on the proprietor; that Colline and Rodolphe
played _tric-trac_ all day, refusing to give up the table to other
people; that Marcel set up his easel in the _café_, and even went so far
as to invite models of both sexes; that Schaunard had expressed his
intention of bringing his piano there, and that Phémie Teinturière never
wore a bonnet when she came to meet him; that, not content with ordering
very little, the four friends presumed to make their own coffee on the
premises; and that the waiter, corrupted by their influence, had seen
fit to address an amatory poem to the _dame du comptoir_. Murger puts a
touch of exaggeration into this complaint, but it is to be feared,
nevertheless, that no trifling _dossier_ of misdemeanours could have
been compiled against the originals of Rodolphe, Marcel, and the rest.
We have it on Delvau's authority, at all events, that the profit of
their custom was quite disproportionate to its assiduity, when he tells
of their stratagem for obtaining asylum at small cost. The smallest
possible order was a _demi-tasse_, which consisted of a small cup of
coffee, four lumps of sugar, and a thimbleful of cognac; this cost five
sous, a sum of importance in Bohemia. The practice, therefore, was that
a certain student, Joannis Guigard, who was of the band, went in first,
ordered a _demi-tasse_, and went upstairs to consume it. Murger would
then arrive, ask if Guigard were upstairs, and run up. The rest followed
in succession with the same question till the _cénacle_ was complete and
in a position to have a sip of coffee and some hours of warmth for
nothing. After a short while Momus grew tired of these troublesome
customers and formally gave them notice to quit. They accepted the
intimation, but vowed revenge. Accordingly, a few days later, one of the
band turned up with six wet-nurses in his train, while another brought
six funeral mutes. The rest of the band then arrived, and the Bohemian
spokesman, probably Schann, delivered a flowery discourse upon the
affinity of life and death, with allusions to their guests' professions.
He wound up by telling the mutes to bury the Café Momus and take the
nurses as a reward. To make matters worse, he directed that the milk and
beer which had been ordered should be warmed as a mixture. The mutes and
nurses, furious at being thus deceived and insulted, broke into angry
expostulations, and, aided by the jests of the Bohemians, the
proceedings ended in a tremendous disturbance. Schann and two others
were arrested, and the next day Momus sold his business.

The extent to which Bohemia, at its different phases, shared in the
various pastimes of Paris cannot be determined with any accuracy, so
much depended on individual taste and individual wealth. It is certain,
however, that after 1837 gambling was not a Bohemian distraction, for in
that year the public gaming-houses were closed. Before that time they
were such a popular institution that the early Bohemia cannot be
conceived to have entirely eschewed it. At the beginning of "La Peau de
Chagrin" Balzac draws a powerful picture of the wretched crowd that
haunted the Palais Royal, where Raphael de Valentin lost his last gold
coin at a single coup. There were no less than four gaming-houses in the
Palais Royal, Nos. 9, 113, 124, and 129, where the minimum stake was two
francs for roulette and five francs for trente-et-un. Besides the
Palais Royal, there were Paphos, Frascati, and the select Cercle des
Étrangers. The popularity of gambling can be judged from the fact that
the Treasury profited annually by it to the extent of five and a half
million francs. Yet there is no record that the truly artistic members
of Bohemia, like Gautier or Houssaye, so wasted time or money, while
Murger and his friends were spared the temptation. In music, too,
Bohemia played no very great part, in spite of the devotion of
Champfleury, Barbara, and Schann to Beethoven's quartets. There was
plenty of fine music to be heard in Paris during the time: Habeneck was
introducing Beethoven's symphonies, Berlioz was revolutionizing
orchestration, while Liszt, Chopin, Paganini, Vieuxtemps, and de Bériot
were among the soloists. Certainly those Bohemians of the golden age who
had access to the _salons_ of the Princess Belgiojoso or Madame de
Girardin must often have heard these great artists, but it is not to be
supposed that they were great supporters of concerts, unless it were of
the Concerts Musard. These concerts, which won great fame through the
personality of Musard, the conductor, began in 1833 in the Salle
Saint-Honoré;[31] their programmes were excellent and the prices low
enough to attract the least well off. Musard had a genius for making
_pot-pourris_ of operatic tunes and for introducing new effects,
especially into dance music. His electric style of conducting made the
Bals Musard far more popular than the great balls at the Opéra. He
contrived a wonderful quadrille, for instance, out of "Les Huguenots,"
during which red lights were lit, tocsins pealed, tom-toms boomed,
screams resounded, and the whole illusion of a massacre was thrillingly
kept up. He also composed a _contre-danse_ in the finale of which he
broke a chair, and his triumph was a certain galop in which he
discharged a pistol. This was thoroughly in keeping with the Romantic
spirit, and after its first performance he was publicly chaired round
the hall by the excited dancers. So far as pure music was concerned,
however, it appealed most to Parisians in the form of opera. Meyerbeer's
"Robert le Diable" and "Les Huguenots" produced frenzies of enthusiasm:
no Romantic, consequently no Bohemian of Gautier's day, could afford not
to have listened to them. Rossini's great vogue began at the same time,
while Donizetti and Auber shared the honours of light opera till
Offenbach appeared to carry all before him. Musical Bohemia was well
educated, if not in composition, at least in execution, when it was
possible to hear Duprez, Rubini, Lablache, Tamburini, Grisi, Mario,
Persiani, and Pauline Viardot-Garcia. The ballet, too, with Carlotta
Grisi, Taglioni, and Fanny Elssler, was an additional attraction at the
Opéra. The devotion of _la Bohème galante_ to the _corps de ballet_ has
appeared in an earlier chapter, and it was a devotion shared by most
masculine society. Murger's Bohemia flourished after the greatest
operatic enthusiasms, which its more classically inclined members
probably despised; but their exchequers were not of the sort to allow
for tickets at the grand opera, though they turned up in force at the
light operas of the Théâtre Bobino. At this little theatre, more
properly called the Théâtre du Luxembourg, there was a continuous uproar
made by Bohemians and students. When this grew too unbearable the
manager would appear in his dressing-gown and protest that the police
would arrive if the respectable inhabitants of the quarter were
disturbed; whereupon the whole audience struck up as one man Grétry's
air "Où peut-on être mieux qu'au sein de la famille?" accompanied by the
wheezy orchestra and conducted by the manager himself. At such a scene
Schaunard and Marcel must often have assisted.

Nevertheless, in the eyes of Bohemia, the glory of the opera paled
entirely before that of the drama. There was not one Bohemian with any
literary talent who did not try to write a play--nay, many
plays--tragedies in alexandrines, comedies, or vaudevilles; and when
they were not writing plays they were haunting the theatres as dramatic
critics, selling their articles simply for the sake of a free entry,
unless, like Lucien's immoral set, they added the profits of blackmail.
From the second _cénacle_ to the end of Murger's Bohemia there was no
end so generally pursued as dramatic composition. Bouchardy and
Augustus Mackeat were dramatists, so were Ourliac, Arsène Houssaye, and
Gérard de Nerval; Gautier was a dramatic critic; Murger and Champfleury
failed as vaudevillists; and it is quite likely that Rodolphe's
magnificent drama, "Le Vengeur," had its counterpart in reality. The
"poète échevelé" and the humble _conteur_ alike turned their eyes
continuously towards the stage, besieging luckless managers without
cease. The reason of this was partly, as may be supposed, that a
successful play, then as to-day, gave far quicker and more splendid
pecuniary returns for labour than any other form of literary
composition. A concrete instance of that is the case of Murger himself,
who was set on his legs entirely by the sudden vogue of the dramatized
"Scènes de la Vie de Bohème." But there was another reason at least as
strong, far deeper, and more honourable. The stage, as I have already
pointed out, was the battlefield of the Romantic struggle. "Hernani"
brought home the new truths to the public far more vividly than any
novel or poem could have done; every night they were declaimed before
compelled attention. It is not surprising, then, that the stage played
so great a part in the amusements of Bohemia. It was, with one other,
the chief of their pastimes. For them to listen to "Chatterton," the
"Tour de Nesle," or "Antony" was not only a distraction, it was a
frantic excitement which made their blood seethe almost painfully and
sent geysers of hot eloquence from their lips as they munched the hot
rolls of the Boulangerie Cretaine. These young enthusiasts were not
stinted of good fare. Mademoiselle Mars, Marie Dorval, Rachel and Judith
appeared at the Français during these eighteen years; at the
Folies-Dramatique Frédéric Lemaître created with enormous success the
part of Robert Macaire; while at the Funambules Gaspard Deburau was
winning eternal fame as the incomparable Pierrot. There were a host of
other theatres besides, the Variétés, Porte Saint-Martin, Odéon, not to
mention smaller ones, managed for the most part by men of taste,
supplied with plays by men with some pretension to talent, and
criticized by unsparing critics, from Jules Janin downwards, who knew
what they wanted and did not hesitate to speak when they did not get it.
In the stage Bohemia found not only amusement and inspiration but part
of its livelihood: it lived next door to that special world composed of
actors and actresses. Yet, though Bohemians went to supper with
Mademoiselle Mars, Dumas was very much at home with Marie Dorval, Roger
de Beauvoir played pranks with Bache, and Rodolphe had a love affair
with Mademoiselle Sidonie, the two worlds were definitely separated. In
fact, the life of dramatic artists, whatsoever Bohemian flavouring it
may have, has always had a mysterious taste of its own, incapable of
mixture with any other blend of artistic life, so that, interesting as
it may have been in Paris during these years, its omission from these
pages has been intentional.

[Illustration: Bal Masqué à l'Opéra]

The one other amusement--a pure pastime involving no material
profit--which was particularly popular in Bohemia was dancing. In this
respect Bohemia was no exception from the rest of Parisian society, for
in all classes there was an inextinguishable passion for the dance. But
the Bohemian, obeying only his own laws of social propriety, was in a
more favourable position for taking full advantage of all public
opportunities for this exercise and of all the _agréments_ in the way of
casual intercourse with both sexes which it implied. All the year round
there were public balls given in Paris, at which the Bohemian was in his
element, giving rein to his inventive humour, his high spirits, and his
gift of seductive gallantry. During the first few years after 1830, the
golden age of Bohemia, the balls at the Opéra were the most frequented,
especially in the days of the carnival. There masks and dominoes covered
dancers of every rank in society, for even the _femme du monde_ slipped
in unbeknown to her husband. This scene of utmost gaiety and brilliance,
of which Balzac gives a picture at the opening of "Splendeurs et Misères
des Courtisanes," was closely rivalled by the ball at the Variétés, at
which a still more feverish excitement reigned. Or if the Bohemian
preferred to make sure of a _grisette_ as a partner he went to the
Prado, the site of which was opposite the Palais de Justice, where,
under Pilodo, the famous conductor, he could join Louise la Balocheuse,
Angelina l'Anglaise, or Ernestine Confortable in the giddy whirl. The
waltz was recognized at this period, but the quadrille easily held the
place of honour, especially as it lent itself more freely to individual
invention, such as Ourliac's magnificent variation depicting the
grandeur and fall of Napoleon. It was through this licence in the
figures of the quadrille that the _chahut_ and the _cancan_ were
introduced by the rakish set among the _viveurs_ which included Charles
de la Battut, Alton-Shee, Monnier, and the famous Chicard--a
leather-merchant who made a name by his grotesque costumes and wild
dances, the term _chicard_, which degenerated into _chic_, becoming a
general denomination for his imitators. I have not been able to arrive
at the difference between the _chahut_ and the _cancan_, but both were
originally primitive dances indulged in by the lowest classes, quaint,
but in all probability perfectly decent. The rage for extravagance
during the early thirties changed them into formidable pantomimes of
violence, if not always of indecency, which every complete reveller
rendered with his own individual touch. Heine, in the course of one of
his articles in the _Augsburg Gazette_, said of the _cancan_:

     "It must be regarded simply as a pantomime of Robert Macairedom.
     Anybody who has a general idea of the latter will understand those
     indescribable dances, expressions of _persiflage_ in dance, which
     not only mock sexual relations, but civic relations too, all, in
     fact, that is good and beautiful, every kind of enthusiasm,
     patriotism, uprightness, faith, family feeling, heroism, divinity."

Heine's view is rather too Teutonic, for the popularity of the _cancan_
was due to the high spirits of the Romantic enthusiasm, and its degree
of morality or immorality depended upon the individual dancer. Not much
harm can be imagined to have dwelt in the dance-_persiflage_ of the
Impasse du Doyenné, whatever a Chicard or a Milord Arsouille may have
made of it. The feature of public balls, however, was certainly a
Dionysiac exaltation which culminated in the final _galop infernal_, as
it was called, into which Musard particularly infused a special fury. It
was less a dance than a stampede of maniacs, who rushed round the room,
men and women, clutching one another anyhow, wigs flying, tresses
waving, dresses rent from fair shoulders, all shrieking and shouting,
brandishing arms, kicking legs, and stamping heedlessly on those who
were unlucky enough to fall.

[Illustration: The Galop Infernal]

The balls of the Opéra declined in attraction and became dull about
1836, but they were revived with still greater splendour two years
later, when Musard was made conductor and members of the ballet were
drafted in to enliven the company. Such balls, however, became too
much public functions to suit the less splendid Bohemia of a later day,
which found diversion more suited to its pocket and its manners at the
Chaumière or the Closerie des Lilas on the left bank. It was at such
places as these that Rodolphe and Marcel disported themselves, and
Schaunard was arrested for "chorégraphie trop macabre." The Chaumière
was a large garden on the Boulevard Montparnasse, a miniature edition of
Cremorne or Vauxhall, with a primitive shooting gallery, a skittle
alley, and switchback. It was open all day for students to promenade
after lectures and make their addresses to the _grisettes_ working under
the trees. Its dances were very simple affairs; a few lamps and Chinese
lanterns, a small orchestra, a bar for lemonade and _galette_ were all
that the management supplied, the fun, of which they had enough and to
spare, being the dancers' contribution.

The Closerie des Lilas, though less generally popular than the
Chaumière, was more particularly associated with Bohemia than the
latter, for Murger, Vitu, Fauchéry, Théodore de Banville, and one or two
others of that set frequented it regularly, as a French writer[32] says,
"avec quelques comparses sans importance," among whom, no doubt, were
Mimi and Musette. This little dancing-hall began in 1838 as La
Chartreuse, being so called because it was on the site of the old
Carthusian monastery in the Rue d'Enfer. It was in some sort the
trial-ground for those of the fair sex who aspired to become stars of
the Prado and the Chaumière. Privat d'Anglemont has described it in a
rare pamphlet as it was in its early days under its extraordinary
manager, Carnaud. As La Chartreuse it was the most primitive kind of
_guingette_, the dancing-place being a large marquee, into which one
descended by a steep flight of steps. On the left were an orchestra and
_café_, and the only ornaments were nine plaster statues representing
the Muses, which were handily adapted for supporting petroleum lamps on
their arms. "There," says Privat d'Anglemont, "decent dress was not _de
rigueur_; one came as one liked, or rather as one could--the women in
bonnets or, in default of other adornments, covered simply by their
hair, and the men in blouses. It certainly was the most original bar in
Paris. It had a physiognomy of its own, strange, quaint, even a little
burlesque, but it existed. Its population was to be seen nowhere else;
it seemed to exist only at the Chartreuse and for the Chartreuse. Since
this ball disappeared its population has completely vanished."

[Illustration: La Guinguette]

Everything about the Chartreuse was original, not only the dancers and
the dances but the orchestra, the music, and the manager. Every kind of
"percussion" was added to the usual instruments, the noise of
money-bags, pistol shots, rows of explosive caps, resounding anvils, and
sheets of metal struck to represent the roaring of lions and tigers. All
the music was composed by Carnaud himself, who was conductor, first
violin, _restaurateur_, composer, and advertisement-writer in one. At
every special _fête_ he invented a new quadrille and a new exotic word
to describe it, such as "la fête des vendanges, quadrille
déchirancochicandard," or "l'hôtel des haricots,[33] avec accompaniments
de chaînes et de bruits de clefs, grand quadrille
exhilarandéliranchocnosophe."

Carnaud was succeeded by the famous Bullier, who altered the name to the
Closerie des Lilas and replaced the simple marquee by an Oriental palace
with a garden, Moorish pavilions, billiard tables, swings, and a
pistol-shooting gallery. A decent orchestra was installed and four
admirable waiters. With these improvements the balls, held every Sunday,
Monday, and Thursday, began to attract the _beau monde_ of the Quartier
Latin, and several of the dancers gained the coveted honour of a
_sobriquet_. There were Jeanne la Juive, for instance, Maria les Yeux
Bleus, Joséphine Pochardinette, and the literary Clémentine Pomponnette,
who used to show her admirers a farce she had written "dans les loisirs
que lui laissait l'amour." This transformation took place about 1847,
and it was then that one of the Moorish pavilions was especially
consecrated to Murger's Bohemian set. It is needless to say that the
name of Bullier still remains in the Bal Bullier of to-day.

One other popular ball must be mentioned, the Bal Mabille, which for so
long was one of the sights of Paris. This public ball was instituted by
Mabille, a dancing-master, in the Champs Elysées. The price of entrance
at first was fifty centimes, with an extra fee for each quadrille, and
in 1843 the whole of the dances were included in an initial sum of two
francs. The fame of the Bal Mabille was due first to its polkas, a dance
which became the rage at the time, and secondly to the most celebrated
of polka-dancers, Elise Sergent, known as La Reine Pomaré. Her dancing
was a revelation of fire and passion which won her recognition on the
very first evening of her appearance. Crowds came to see her dance,
articles were devoted to her by the journalists of the day, and Privat
d'Anglemont wrote a sonnet to her. Paris, in fact, went mad about her,
and she had many lovers, among whom, it is said, was Alphonse Karr,
which brings her into some kind of connexion with Bohemia. But Reine
Pomaré and her rival, Céleste Mogador, who also made her _début_ at
Mabille, were too much on the plane of _grandes cocottes_ for any real
relation with the Bohemia of their day. They might have danced for love
at the Impasse du Doyenné, but Schaunard and Marcel had nothing to
offer them to compare with the splendour of the _viveurs_ which was laid
at their feet. Bohemia found its pleasure at less expense and with less
restraint in the company of Mimi and Musette in a Moorish pavilion at
the Closerie des Lilas, where Colline's bad puns found appreciative
listeners and Schaunard's _pas de fascination_ were greeted with
rapturous applause.



XII

THE PARIS OF BOHEMIA

                    _Paris sombre et fumeux,_
    _Où déjà, points brillants au front de maison ternes,_
    _Luisent comme des yeux des milliers de lanternes;_
    _Paris avec ses toits déchiquetés, ses tours_
    _Qui ressemblent de loin à des cous de vautours,_
    _Et ses clochers aigus à flèche dentelée,_
    _Comme un peigne mordant la nue échevelée._

           THÉOPHILE GAUTIER


The last chapter was devoted to certain accidental adjuncts of _la vie
de Bohème_ by way of general illustration, though they consisted of
simple amusements common not only to the Parisians of the day but to
civilized society of most epochs. The present chapter, which I have
reserved till the last, might logically have claimed an earlier place,
for its subject, as I have already pointed out, is distinctive of the
society in which Bohemia played an important part. Bohemia, of course,
neither monopolized Paris nor even a portion of it, but the Paris of
Bohemia's florescence and decline was a unique background for these
events, a necessary condition, though temporary in itself, which it
would pass the bounds of human possibility to reconstruct. Interesting
as it is to imagine correctly the dress of the Bohemian and his
mistress, the places where they dined, or the gardens where they danced,
the re-presentation of the city where they lived, so small, so
sensitively vibrant, so congested, so hopelessly out of date, except for
a few new patches, so dirty, so noisy, and so picturesque, ranks far
higher in importance. Yet, though I might have put this chapter first, I
choose to put it last because I cannot hope that it will be appreciated
by any but those who have already some memory of Paris and on whom the
spell of its fascination has, at least, been lightly cast. The general
description of Bohemian life may provide some entertainment to those who
know not Paris; for their sake I have sought not to break the general
interest. My story is now told, and I am free to call those who have
breathed, even for a moment, the quick breeze off the Seine or seen the
sunshine strike through the trees in the Tuileries Gardens, to stay with
me for a last look back upon that city of beauty and adventure which
calls, like the East, to those who love it. To have gained even a
superficial view of modern Paris, to have caught some of her accents and
contrasts--the radiance of the Bois de Boulogne, the vivacity of the
boulevards, the _cafés_ overflowing on to the pavements, the view from
her bridges, the differences between the two banks, the mean alleys
lurking mischievously at the back of splendid thoroughfares, the
broadest omnibuses comically invading the narrowest streets--is to have
formed some general notion with which an earlier Paris can be compared.
And with a reader who has penetrated deeper, whose nostrils yearn for
her indescribably subtle perfume, who knows the different aspects of her
streets from days of diligent tramping, who has seen her river blending
with her sky in a hundred harmonies, who has felt her moods and her
humours, finding like a true lover her blemishes as adorable as her
perfections, who has recognized her past in her present, and who, though
a stranger, has divined in ecstasy the wild throb of her romantic
heart--with him my task is easier still. Such a one will already have
guessed the intoxication of the air which a Roger de Beauvoir delicately
breathed, when Paris, her spirit newly quickened with the exhilaration
of a potent elixir, was yet unspoiled by modern cosmopolitan vulgarity,
and her inner soul shone out, through all her deformities and
incongruities, with a gay and unmasked confidence.

She did not shine before an unseeing generation, for the Parisians of
the Romantic age adored their city, dandies, Bohemians, and _bourgeois_
alike, all passionately conscious of their privileged citizenship,
though they could admit with Maxime du Camp that under Louis Philippe
she was "one of the dirtiest, the most tortuous, and the most unhealthy"
in the world. As they lived in her, so they wrote of her--with pride.
Victor Hugo did her great homage in "Notre Dame de Paris" and "Les
Misérables," Eugène Sue in "Les Mystères de Paris," and Paul de Kock in
all his work, but these achievements appear as slight and partial
sketches beside the wonderful and penetrating picture which Balzac drew
of Paris--at once the background and the protagonist--in his greatest
novels. Balzac, besides giving us a world, gave us a great city. Minute
as were the studies he made of the provinces, they are nothing to the
picture that he drew of the city which he regarded as the brain of the
whole world, the leader of its civilization. He gloated over Paris as a
scientist gloats over an interesting organism that he has first observed
and then skilfully dissected. He had dissected Paris even on the
threshold of his career. In some of his early stories, like a brilliant
young surgeon fresh from his researches, he overweights the matter in
hand with the results of the laboratory. "Ferragus" begins with a long
comparison of the streets of Paris; "La Fille aux Yeux d'Or" with a
marvellous tirade on the restless race for money and pleasure that is
run by all classes, a tirade which, probing as it does all the strata of
society, is an epitome, in some sort, of all his work. Paris, that small
_enceinte_ which was enclosed within what is now the second line of
_boulevards_, still innocent of the reforming hand of Haussmann,
becoming rich, but hardly yet industrial, not yet the pleasure-ground
of all the world, destitute of railways, squalid, ill-kept, nevertheless
was transformed by his wonderful imagination into the type of all great
cities, which will ever remain true. To him she was "le plus délicieux
des monstres," as he says in "Ferragus." "Mais, ô Paris," he cries, "qui
n'a pas admiré tes sombres paysages, tes échappées de lumière, tes
culs-de-sac profonds et silencieux; qui n'a pas entendu tes murmures,
entre minuit et deux heures du matin, ne connaît encore rien de ta vraie
poésie, ni de tes bizarres et larges contrastes. Il est un petit nombre
de gens ... qui dégustent leur Paris.... Pour ceux-là Paris est triste
ou gai, laid ou beau, vivant ou mort; pour eux Paris est une créature;
chaque homme, chaque fraction de maison est un lobe du tissu cellulaire
de cette grande courtisane de laquelle ils connaissent parfaitement la
tête, le cœur et les mœurs fantasques. Aussi ceux-là sont les
amants de Paris...."

There are a happy few to whom it would be enough to say that the Paris
of Bohemia was the Paris of Balzac--such devotees, I mean, as have
thought it worth while to pay attention to that accurate topography in
which Balzac took so great a pride, following it in a contemporary map
so that, in their walks about the modern city, streets and houses
incessantly recall his characters and his scenes. But life is short for
such agreeable exercises, so this chapter must inadequately proceed. I
have already touched on the social implications of Louis Philippe's
Paris, its smallness and its diminutive population, and my present aim
is simply to present more fully its external aspect, which changed so
quickly after 1848. The rapidity of the change may well be judged by a
passage in Théophile Gautier's article[34] on Paul de Kock, published in
1870. No apology is necessary for transcribing it:

     "Those [he says] who were born after the Revolution of February 24,
     1848, or a little before, cannot imagine what the Paris was like in
     which the heroes and heroines of Paul de Kock move; it resembled
     Paris of to-day so little that I sometimes ask myself, on seeing
     these broad streets, these great boulevards, these vast squares,
     these interminable lines of monumental houses, these splendid
     quarters which have replaced the market-gardens, if it is really
     the city in which I passed my childhood. Paris, which is on the way
     to become the metropolis of the world, was then only the capital of
     France. One met French people, even Parisians, in its streets. No
     doubt foreigners came there, as always, to find pleasure and
     instruction; but the means of transport were difficult, the ideal
     of rapidity did not rise above the classic mail-coach, and the
     locomotive, even in the form of a chimera, was not yet taking shape
     in the mists of the future. The physiognomy of the population had
     not therefore sensibly changed.

     "The provinces stayed at home much more than now, only coming to
     Paris on urgent business. One could hear French spoken on that
     boulevard which was then called the Boulevard de Gand and which is
     now called the Boulevard des Italiens. One frequently saw a type
     which is becoming rare and which, for me, is the pure Parisian
     type--white skin, pink cheeks, brown hair, light grey eyes, a
     well-shaped figure of moderate stature, and, in the women, a
     delicate plumpness hiding small bones. Olive complexions and black
     hair were rare; the South had not yet invaded us with its
     passionately pale tints and its furious gesticulations. The general
     aspect of faces was therefore rosy and smiling, with an air of
     health and good humour. Complexions now considered _distingués_
     would at that time have caused suspicions of illness.

     "The city was relatively very small, or at least its activity was
     restricted within certain limits that were seldom passed. The
     plaster elephant in which Gavroche found shelter raised its
     enormous silhouette on the Place de la Bastille, and seemed to
     forbid passers-by to go any further. The Champs Elysées, as soon as
     night fell, became more dangerous than the plain of Marathon; the
     most adventurous stopped at the Place de la Concorde. The quarter
     of Notre Dame de Lorette only included vague plots of ground or
     wooden fences. The church was not built, and one could see from the
     boulevard the Butte Montmartre, with its windmills and its
     semaphore waving its arms on the top of the old tower. The Faubourg
     Saint-Germain went early to bed, and its solitude was but rarely
     disturbed by a tumult of students over a play at the Odéon.
     Journeys from one quarter to another were less frequent; omnibuses
     did not exist, and there were sensible differences of feature,
     costume, and accent between a native of the Rue du Temple and an
     inhabitant of the Rue Montmartre."

Gautier is referring in this passage to the Paris of his childhood, in
the second decade of the nineteenth century, but, though by his Bohemian
days the Church of Notre Dame de Lorette had been built, omnibuses had
been instituted, and railway stations were about to break out on the
face of Paris, his picture would have remained substantially true of
Paris during the whole of Louis Philippe's reign. There was a certain
amount of change during the time: the Palais Royal declined in
popularity, ceasing to be "a scene of extravagance, dissipation, and
debauchery not to be equalled in the world," as Coghlan's "Guide to
Paris" put it; a few old houses were pulled down here and there, and the
desert patches on the outskirts began to be filled by a straggling
population, but, in general, Louis Philippe's Paris can be considered as
a stable whole. Most visitors to Paris do not, of course, realize the
boundaries of the large circle which now forms the city, for they enjoy
themselves at the centre, though they may, perhaps, remember how far
from the terminus a train passes the fortifications. In Louis Philippe's
day the outer line of boulevards, on which stood the fortifications and
_barrières_, was that second ring of to-day which even visitors reach at
times; a _barrière_ existed at the Arc de Triomphe, at the Place
Pigalle, where the amusements of Montmartre only just begin, at the
cemeteries of Père Lachaise and Montparnasse. The actual diameter of the
city was then about three miles, but for all practical purposes it was
little more than two, for the outskirts were still occupied by large
market-gardens, plots of land acquired for future use by speculators,
with here and there some mushroom rows of houses, half finished and
nearly empty, the work of a bankrupt who had too far anticipated the
coming boom, farmyards, chicken-runs, cow-stalls, grass, odd weeds, and
all the disfigurements of a landscape over which the impending march of
a city has thrown a blight. Only on the northern heights were there
still windmills and vineyards. These outskirts had only a scanty
population, for there were no thousands of workpeople to spread over the
heights of Belleville or Ménilmontant, or southwards over Montrouge, so
that it was easy for a starveling company of Bohemians, headed by the
Desbrosses and Murger, to find shelter in an old farm by the Barrière
d'Enfer--now the busy Place Denfert-Rochereau--or for Balzac's Colonel
Chabert to live in a tumble-down cottage well inside the boundaries. The
fact was, as the dramatist Victorien Sardou has said in a passage of
reminiscence,[35] that under Louis Philippe one-third of the total
surface of Paris was not built on. There were gardens everywhere, except
in the very centre of the city, and on the left bank, especially,
houses were only dotted in the midst of orchards, kitchen-gardens,
farmyards, and parks. It was this fact that made Paris, however quick
the flame that burnt at her heart, in most respects a provincial city.
Only in such a city could Bohemia perfectly have realized itself; an
industrial metropolis would have swallowed it or brushed it
contemptuously aside.

Paris, then, compared with herself of to-day, would have been almost
unrecognizable. There was no sign of the rich and luxurious quarter
which has grown up round the Champs Elysées, with its magnificent hotels
and fine mansions. The Champs Elysées were used during the daytime for
riding or driving, but there was hardly a house to be seen except two or
three wretched _cafés_. After sunset it was madness to go past the
_rond-point_, for beyond was the home of thieves and cut-throats, the
Bois de Boulogne, needless to say, being in a much more wild state than
to-day. The Parc Monceau was practically in the country, and even the
Quartier du Roule, by the top of the Boulevard Malesherbes, was all
market-gardens when Rosa Bonheur lived there as a child. As for the
Batignolles, that Kensington of modern Paris, its repute was as
unsavoury as that of the London fields now respectably covered by Sloane
Square and Sloane Street. The quarter chosen by wealth, as opposed to
blue blood, which lived in dreary _hôtels_ surrounded by high walls in
the Faubourg Saint-Germain, lay in the neighbourhood of the present
Saint-Lazare terminus. The favourite street was the Rue de la Pépinière,
continued by the Rue Saint-Lazare. Only a small part of the Rue de la
Pépinière is now left, most of it being called the Rue La Boëtie, but it
retains its old name between the Boulevard Malesherbes and the Rue
Saint-Lazare. Another fashionable street was the Rue de Provence, which
runs parallel to the south of the Rue Saint-Lazare. In the former was
the famous house inhabited successively by seven of Balzac's
courtesans,[36] in the latter the charming house of Baron Nucingen.
Every Englishman knows the clamour and smell and garish shops of the Rue
Saint-Lazare to-day, and the Rue de Provence is just a plain _bourgeois_
thoroughfare of shops, _cafés_, flats, and a post-office.

The fashionable boulevards have already appeared in a previous chapter,
but a word must be said of the difference between the then and now of
that brilliant corner of Paris which most Europeans and Americans see
once before they die. To-day, without a doubt, the Boulevard des
Capucines, which stretches from the Madeleine to the Opéra, has the most
distinguished and luxurious appearance. The Boulevard des Italiens
beyond the Opéra is dowdier and more workaday. In the days of Bohemia
the Boulevard des Capucines had no social existence. It had as yet not
been levelled with the Rue Basse du Rempart, which, some fifteen feet
below it, followed the course of the ancient moat; it was flanked by
plots of land on which new houses were being erected, and its only
traffic was the omnibus which jogged between the Madeleine and the
Bastille. The present Opera-house and Place de l'Opéra were not
existent, for the Opéra stood just off the Boulevard des Italiens,
beyond Tortoni's, while the Rue de la Paix came quietly into the
boulevard at a sharp angle, instead of arriving in that busy open space,
with Cook's office as its centre, over which traffic plies in all
directions with bewildering activity. The Avenue de l'Opéra, also, was
not known to Bohemia. At that day a pedestrian who wished to go direct
from the top of the Rue de la Paix to the Louvre had to thread a maze of
narrow streets--an example of which remains in the Rue des Petits
Champs--which became meaner and more sinister as he neared the Louvre.
The Louvre quarter, so close to brilliance and luxury, was a squalid
plague-spot, that has since been thoroughly cleansed. The brotherhood of
the Impasse du Doyenné, I suspect, were careful to have a companion when
they ascended the Rue Froidmanteau or the Rue Traversière after dark. If
one crosses the Avenue de l'Opéra between the entrance of the Rue de
l'Echelle on one side and the Rue Molière on the other, one will have
exactly traversed the site of the infamous Rue de Langlade where in
"Splendeurs et Misères des Courtisanes" Vautrin found Esther la
Torpille on the verge of death, _à propos_ of which Balzac has a lurid
passage on the thick shadows, the flickering lights, the phantom forms,
and disquieting sounds which characterized at nightfall this _lacis de
petites rues_.

[Illustration: The Rue St. Denis]

On the north-east and the east of the Louvre lay the most unregenerate
portion of Paris, a district as tortuous, narrow, and unhealthy as in
the Middle Ages, yet the centre of Parisian commerce. Even to-day the
visitor may wonder that such a district can exist in a capital city,
when he ventures into the Rue Quincampoix, the Rue des Francs Bourgeois,
and the other alleys which cut them at right angles. But at least this
quarter has been cleared by the thorough reorganization of the Halles
and by the construction of some large arteries, the Boulevard de
Sébastopol, the Rue Rambuteau, the Rue Etienne Marcel, and the Rue de
Turbigo. It is sufficient to glance at a map of Louis Philippe's Paris,
such as Dulaure's, to see what a maze it was then. Save for the two
narrow thoroughfares, the Rue Saint-Martin and the Rue Saint-Denis,
going from north to south, it had hardly a single continuous street. A
stroll in the region of the old church of Saint-Merri will show many of
these streets in their original dimensions; there is the Rue des
Lombards, for instance, where Balzac's Matifat presided over the
wholesale drug market, and the Rue Aubry le Boucher, formerly the Rue
des Cinq Diamants, where in the virtuous Anselme Popinot's shop the
first measures were taken for the reconstruction of César Birotteau's
shattered fortunes. The darkness and insalubrity of this quarter are
specially commented on at the beginning of Balzac's "Une Double
Famille," where he says that a pedestrian coming from the Marais quarter
to the quays near the Hôtel de Ville by the Rue de l'Homme Armé and
other streets--practically the route of the present Rue des Archives
down to the Place Lobau--would think he was walking in underground
cellars. This unsavoury network in the day of Bohemia continued right on
to the quays, which have now been cleared by the construction of the
Théâtre and Place du Châtelet, the Théâtre Sarah Bernhardt, the Place de
l'Hôtel de Ville, and the Place Lobau with its barracks. But in Louis
Philippe's reign the Rue de la Vieille Lanterne, where poor Gérard de
Nerval was found hanged, occupied the site of the stage of the Théâtre
Sarah Bernhardt, and instead of the Place Lobau the Rue de la Tixanderie
and the Rue du Tourniquet-Saint-Jean forked at the back of the Hôtel de
Ville. The house described in "Une Double Famille" stood in the Rue du
Tourniquet-Saint-Jean, which was only five feet wide at its broadest and
only cleaned when flooded by a shower. The inhabitants lit their lamps
at five in June and never put them out in winter.

[Illustration: Rue de la Tixeranderie]

Another typical specimen of the Paris I am describing is to be seen in
that curious confluence of three narrow streets, the Rues de la Lune,
Beauregard, and de Cléry, just off the Boulevard Bonne Nouvelle. The Rue
de la Lune is dominated by the forbidding portals of a gloomy church,
and its cobble-stones are quite deserted even when the activity of the
neighbouring boulevard is at its height. No flight of imagination is
needed to realize its appropriateness as the scene of that tragic close
to "Illusions Perdues," where in a garret Lucien writes drinking songs
over the corpse of his wretched Coralie to pay the expenses of her
burial. This street and the two others, which meet at an extraordinarily
acute angled building, diverge into the squalor of the Rue Montorgueil.
It is easier to see the conditions in which _la vie de Bohème_ was
passed in such spots as these than in the regions towards Montmartre.
The Rue de la Tour d'Auvergne still exists, but to search there for the
garret of Murger and Champfleury is disappointing. One ascends the
cheerful Rue des Martyrs from Notre Dame de Lorette, with its prospect
of the Sacré Cœur standing out against the open heavens, and on
turning along the Rue de la Tour d'Auvergne one is confronted by a
respectable, clean, sleepy street that might grace any neat provincial
town in France. All suggestion of Bohemianism is remarkably absent, even
on the top floors. In Murger's day this quarter was far less civilized,
as may be seen from a water-colour sketch by Victor Hugo which hangs
in the Carnavalet Museum. This represents the view southwards from the
Rue de la Tour d'Auvergne--a wild foreground of uncultivated land with
sombre trees and dilapidated fences, and in the distance all Paris
spread out in panorama.

[Illustration: Rue Pirouette]

The left bank has changed no less than the right. The luxurious quarter
of the Faubourg Saint-Germain has spread immeasurably, and even where
old streets remain, as many do in the Quartier Latin, their houses have
been rebuilt. Many a Bohemian could probably have told a parallel to
Champfleury's touching story of how, long after his mistress had left
him, he witnessed by chance the demolition of an old wall of a house in
the quarter, and there on the topmost story was laid bare the room, with
its very wallpaper unchanged, where they spent so many happy months of
youth and love. In particular, this part of Paris was cleared and aired
by the construction of those two very important thoroughfares, the
Boulevard Saint-Germain, which broke through a host of little streets,
including the rampageous Rue Childebert, and the Boulevard Saint-Michel,
which replaced and widened the straggling old Rue de la Harpe. Before
these were made, the Quartier Latin had not a single main street, though
it was not quite so uncivilized as the Halles quarter, nor so large.
Southwards by the gardens of the Luxembourg it soon became comparatively
_bourgeois_ and spacious with pleasant houses and gardens, built
originally for rich nobles and prelates, but relinquished at the
dictation of fashion to prosperous tradespeople and officials like the
Phellions and Thuilliers of Balzac's "Les Petits Bourgeois." Searches
for vestiges of Bohemia in general on either side of the Boulevard
Saint-Germain are fruitful enough; many an _hôtel garni_ recalls that in
which Lucien first hid his diminished head, or the early home of Arsène
Houssaye, when Nini Yeux Noirs was his divinity and revolution his
creed. Specific quests, however, are apt to be disappointing. The Rue
des Quatre Vents, the headquarters of d'Arthez' _cénacle_, in Balzac's
time "one of the most horrible streets in Paris," remains blamelessly
near Saint-Sulpice as dull and decent as the Rue de la Tour d'Auvergne;
and the Rue Vaugirard, where the second _cénacle_, headed by Pétrus
Borel, held its frantic orgies round the punch-bowl and where Murger
wrote his "Scènes de la Vie de Bohème," is devoid of any spark of
romance. On the other hand, a visit to the delightful Cour de Rohan,
just off the Boulevard Saint-Germain, will land you _en pleine Bohème_,
as will certain streets leading up towards the Church of Saint-Etienne
du Mont, or the narrow passages by the Church of Saint-Séverin. It is
just too late to see another unmistakable relic of Balzac's Paris, for
the Maison Vauquer of "Père Goriot" has just been pulled down. Yet to
make a pilgrimage to its site gives a very good impression of the
gloominess which Bohemian high spirits had usually to combat. The
Maison Vauquer stood near the junction of the Rue des Postes and the Rue
Neuve Sainte-Geneviève, now the Rue Lhomond, and the Rue Tournefort,
south of the Panthéon. I have walked down the Rue Lhomond at three on a
sunny autumn afternoon, yet I met no soul in this dingy street, which
seemed to catch not a ray of the sun's illumination. It is crossed by
two sinister little lanes, the Rue Amyot, at the corner of which
Cérizet, in "Les Petits Bourgeois," carried on the business of a small
usurer in a loathsome, grimy house, and the Rue du Pot de Fer, before
coming to which one passes a high, dark barrack, heavy iron bars
shielding its dirty lower windows, the "Institution Lhomond pour
l'éducation des jeunes filles"--poor _jeunes filles_! When the Rue
Tournefort meets the Rue Lhomond there is a very steep descent,
accurately described by Balzac, into the Rue de l'Arbalète. Almost any
of the mournful dwellings with weedy gardens on this slope might have
been the hideous _pension_ where Goriot died, while at the corner of the
Rue de l'Arbalète there is a veritable dungeon, only two tiny windows in
cracked frames piercing its high, blank wall. If you proceed into the
narrow Rue Mouffetard, one long, smelly vegetable market, you will then
realize the general state of all but the best of Louis Philippe's Paris.

It was part of the old world, unconscious of its impending reformation
in the light of the new ideals of comfort and sanitation which were to
become the accented notes of modernity. It was a provincial city of
small compass with no industrial suburbs, no railways--let alone trams
or river steamboats--and a population of considerably less than a
million concentrated for the most part in its overcrowded quarters by
the river banks, where the excitement of its spiritual life made up for
the deficiencies of its material well-being. There were few public
buildings of recent construction; the Louvre was still disfigured by the
_débris_ of the Place du Carrousel; the Hôtel de Ville, Notre Dame, and
the Palais de Justice were hemmed in by crabbed streets and thickly
clustering old houses. Private gardens were many, but public squares
were few. Except for the boulevards the streets had medieval paving with
central gutters, from which all and sundry were liberally splashed, so
that for well-dressed persons to venture in them on foot was an
impossibility. An American writing in 1835 says of them: "They are paved
with cubical stones of eight or ten inches, convex on the upper surface
like the shell of a terrapin; few have room for side-walks, and where
not bounded by stores they are as dark as they were under King Pepin.
Some seem to be watertight."[37] They were seldom swept, never flushed,
and primitively lit. The noise, too, except on the boulevards, was
deafening and incessant. Not only did the eternal rumbling of wheels
over cobblestones and the sharp clatter of stumbling hoofs assail the
ear, but also the ringing of bells, the rattle of water-carriers'
buckets, the din of barrel-organs and itinerant singers, and all those
street cries of fish-sellers, clothes-merchants, rag and bone men,
glaziers, umbrella menders, and fruit-vendors so picturesque in isolated
survival, but so unbearable in the _ensemble_ of their heyday. It would
be a mistake, however, to imagine this Paris as sleepy, stagnant, or
unpricked by the progressive spirit; on the contrary, she was
exceedingly wide-awake. But, whereas the Englishman at once translates
his progressive idea into mechanism, the Frenchman prefers to let the
first thorough ferment take place in his mind alone, allowing it, if
need be, to inspire in him the primitive actions of attack and defence,
but leaving more complicated handiwork to a later date, when the logic
of change has been worked out, according to which he then acts
rigorously. In this light the Paris of Bohemia must be
regarded--picturesquely stagnant externally, seething inwardly--and of
this condition Bohemia was the type. Its extravagant or tattered dress,
its Rabelaisian speech and self-indulgence, the antiquated splendours of
the Impasse du Doyenné and the equally antiquated hovels and garrets of
its poverty, its disregard of public convenience and its real antagonism
to democracy, were externals voluntarily or of necessity adopted from
an earlier age; they were the old bottles which served for a moment to
hold and to flavour with a distinctive tang the new wine of the Romantic
vintage. Other vintages of equal potency have quickened men's hearts
since then, and every new age, whether its ideals be artistic or social,
will have its particular ferment that will find its appropriate vessels,
but the past can never return any more than the first delirious
headiness can be restored to an old wine that now charms with its
matured delicacy. Bohemia is a thing of the past with that irrevocable
Paris with its tortuous, noisy streets, its high gables, its wide skirts
and embroidered waistcoats, its

    _Fashionables musqués, gueux à mine incongrue,_
    _Grisettes au pied leste, au sourire agaçant,_
    _Beaux tilburys dorés comme l'éclair passant--_

the Paris of Balzac, the Paris of Roger de Beauvoir and Alfred de
Musset, the Paris of Théophile Gautier and Gérard de Nerval, the Paris
of Rodolphe, Schaunard, and Marcel, the Paris, in fine, which was the
only home of _les vrais Bohémiens de la vraie Bohème_.



INDEX


Names of characters in fiction are printed in italics.

A

ABRANTÈS, Duchesse d', 71

Alton-Shee, _see_ Aulnis, Duc d'

Ampère, Jean-Jacques, 36, 37, 51

Amusements of _Bohème_, 176-178, 182-186, 198-200, 214, 215, 252-281

Ancelot, Madame, 71, 72, 95

Anglemont, Privat d', 224-228, 262, 278, 279, 280

Anglomania in Paris, 87, 88

Arsouille, Milord, _see_ Battut, Charles de la

_Arthez, Daniel d'_, 14, 15, 127-129, 298

Artois, Comte d', 23

Arvers, Félix, 102

Asselineau, Charles, 56, 58, 59, 61, 109

Aulnis, Duc d', 70, 78, 79, 80, 91, 275


B

BADOUILLARDS, LES, 224, 225

Bal Bullier, 279, 280
  Mabille, 280

Bal Musard, 270, 276

Balzac, Honoré de, 44, 45, 67, 71, 72, 73, 78, 81, 99, 129, 164, 165,
    258, 285, 286, 302
  characters in the novels of, 14, 15, 16, 49, 59-61, 62, 67-69, 75, 76,
  78, 80-86, 99, 102, 111-114, 127-129, 163-165, 256, 261, 262, 264, 268,
  271, 274, 290, 292, 294, 295, 296, 298, 299

Banville, Théodore de, 33, 73, 104, 109, 226, 227, 233, 277

Barbara, Charles, 248-250, 265, 269

_Barbemuche, Carolus_, _see_ Barbara, Charles

Barrière d'Enfer, Bohemian colony at the, 239-243

Barrière, Théodore, 244

Bastide, Jules, 36, 37

Battut, Charles de la, 90, 91, 275, 276

Baudelaire, Charles, 13, 15, 33, 57, 61, 66, 230-233, 261

Beauvoir, Roger de, 13, 44, 73, 76, 93-97, 101, 102, 106, 168,
     169, 177, 186, 187, 212, 255, 256, 259, 273, 284, 302

Belgiojoso, Prince, 71, 93, 102
  Princess, 13, 71, 86

Béquet, 101, 106

Béranger, 23, 24

Berlioz, Hector, 73, 122, 269

Berry, assassination of the Duc de, 23

Bisson, the brothers, 236, 237

_Bixiou_, 82, 84-86, 99

Blanche, Doctor, 190

Bœuf Enragé, Cabaret du, 227

Bohème, La, meaning of the term, 1-12
  its place and period, 12-20
  rise and fall, 1830-1848, 21-34
  general characteristics of, 111-129
  Romanticism of, 25, 26, 29-31, 40-50, 56-64, 131-159, 200-204, 272
  its place in Parisian society, 65-68, 73, 76, 77, 110
  amusements of, 176-178, 182-186, 198-200, 214, 215, 252-281
  drama in, 132-136, 140, 141, 175, 176, 272-274
  life of, 126-251
  love in, 173-176, 178-182, 213-218, 246-248
  music in, 249, 250

Bohème, La, the Paris of, 282-302
  smoking in, 151, 152 _See also_ Cénacle, the Second: Bohème Galante;
      Buveurs d'Eau; Gautier; Murger, &c.
  Galante, La, 158-193, 194, 203, 205, 206, 207, 210, 216, 221
  _see_ Doyenné, Impasse du

Boissard, 231

Borel, Pétrus, 15, 41, 43, 57, 58, 61, 133, 135, 136-140, 144, 149-155,
      169, 177, 201, 298

Bouchardy, Joseph, 136, 140, 152, 155, 156, 218, 272

Bouffé, 101

Bouginier's nose, 223, 224

Bouilhet, Louis, 230

Boulevard des Italiens, 74, 112, 121, 288, 292, 293

"Bousingots," 55, 62, 144

Briffaut, 101, 106

Brot, Alphonse, 136, 137

Bullier, 279
  Bal, 279, 280

Burnett, George, 17

Buveurs d'Eau, Société des, 212, 233-242, 266-268

Byron, Lord, influence of on Bohème, 35-37, 64, 125, 134, 151


C

CABANON, Emile, 97, 101, 102, 106

Cabaret du Bœuf Enragé, 227

Cabaret Dinochan, 261, 262
  of Mère Cadet, 263
  of Mère Saguet, 129, 130

Cabot, 237, 238

Cadet, Cabaret of Mère, 263

Café Anglais, 91, 96, 259, 260
  Hardy, 96, 259, 260
  Momus, 198, 204, 246, 248, 265-268
  de l'Odéon, 261
  d'Orsay, 181
  de Paris, 79, 86, 87, 91, 169, 259, 260
  Riche, 259, 260
  Tortoni, 13, 86, 259

Camp, Maxime du, 40-42, 94, 95, 132, 134, 142, 150, 153, 154, 156, 222,
      228-230, 284

Cancan, The, 80, 91, 275, 276

Carnaud, 278, 279

Carnival, 80, 89-91, 274-276

Cénacle, the first, 129-132
  the second, 126-157, 158, 159, 203, 271, 272, 298
  of the Rue des Quatre Vents, 127-129

Cercle des Étrangers, 269

Chahut, The, 275

Champfleury, 98, 99, 101, 102, 219, 235, 238, 243-250, 256, 262, 266-268, 272,
     296, 297

Chanteraine, Salle, 221, 222

Charles X, 23, 24, 200

Chartreuse, La, _see_ Closerie des Lilas

Chassériau, 185, 193

Châteaubriand, Duc de, 37, 71

Châtillon, 169, 185, 193

Chaudesaigues, 103

Chaumière, La, 97, 177, 204, 225, 242, 277, 278

Chicard, 275, 276

Chintreuil, 237, 238, 243

Childebert, La, 222-225

Cloître Saint-Merri, insurrection of the, 27, 59, 128, 161

Clopet, Léon, 136, 137, 152

Closerie des Lilas, La, 97, 277-281

Coleridge, S. T., 10, 17, 18

_Colline_, 126, 198-218, 238, 241, 250, 263, 265-267, 281

Colon, Jenny, 174-176, 190

Cormenin, Louis de, 230

Corot, 185, 193

Courbet, 201, 250

Courtille, Descente de la, 90

Cretaine, Boulangerie, 262, 273

Cydalise, 179, 180, 193, 213, 257


D

DAGNEAUX'S Restaurant, 230, 263

Dancing, 80, 91, 155, 177, 178, 181-185, 204, 225, 270, 274-281

Delacroix, 48, 122, 169, 184

Delvau, Alfred, 159, 160, 227, 235, 238, 245, 247, 248, 261-263, 267, 268

Desbrosses, the brothers, 237-241, 243, 290

Dinochan, Cabaret, 261, 262

Dondey, Théopile, _see_ O'Neddy, Philothée

Doré, Gustave, 192

Dorval, Marie, 13, 273

Doyenné, Impasse du, Bohemian brotherhood in, 158-193, 203, 206,
      210, 213, 214,
    229, 257, 276, 301
  Priory of, 166
  Rue du, 164, 165, 168

Doze, Mademoiselle, 106

Drama in Bohème, 140, 141, 175, 176, 221, 222, 272-274; _and see_ "Hernani"

Dress of the Romantic period, 92, 96, 131, 139, 141, 145, 151, 239, 234-259

Dumas, Alexandre, 13, 55, 76, 155, 184, 190, 198, 226

Duponchel, 97

Duras, Duchesse de, 71

Dyer, George, 17


E

"ÉCOLE de bon sens," 201, 203


F

FAUBOURG Saint-Germain, 69, 70, 297

Fauchéry, 245, 246, 262, 277

Flaubert, Gustave, 33, 201, 228-230

Flicoteaux's Restaurant, 264, 265

Fontenay-aux-Roses, 200, 216

Frascati, 269

Fraser, Major, 91, 92


G

GAMBLING, _see_ Paris

Gautier, Théophile, 13, 15, 16, 20, 33, 44, 45, 50, 55, 56, 76, 110,
      122, 126, 129, 132-157, 160, 162, 164-173, 177-180, 183-189,
      193, 194, 201, 207, 212, 218, 253, 269, 272, 282, 287-289, 302

Gavarni, 13, 169, 256, 259

Gay, Delphine, 72, 73, 93
  Sophie, 72, 73

Gigoux, Jean, 61

Gilbert, 53

Girardin, Delphine de, _see_ Gay, Delphine
  Emile de, 30, 103

Goncourt, the brothers de, 201

Graziano's Restaurant, 136, 147, 148

Grisettes, 216-218, 250, 258-259, 274, 277-280

Guichardet, 262, 263

Guigard, Joannis, 267

Guilbert, 237

Guizot, 200


H

HABENECK, 269

Hardy, Café, 95, 259, 260

Haricots, Hôtel des, 279

Heine, Heinrich, 275

"Hernani," performance of in 1830, 25, 26, 28, 132-136, 201, 221, 255, 272

Hill's Tavern, 261

Houssaye, Arsène, 76, 116, 158, 160-163, 168-175, 177-189, 194,
      207, 244, 256, 261, 269, 272, 298

Hugo, Madame, 72
  Victor, 13, 25, 28, 31, 32, 45-48, 55, 62, 72, 73, 122, 129-132,
      144, 201, 285, 297
    worshipped in Bohème, 25, 45-48, 52, 122, 132-136, 148,
      152, 153, 156, 158,
    184, 201, 244


I

IMPASSE du Doyenné, _see_ Doyenné


J

JANIN, Jules, 189, 196, 203, 273

"Jeune-France" section of Romanticists, the, 45, 57, 58, 61, 94, 95, 139, 142, 150-153

Johnson, Samuel, 10

Jonson, Ben, 10

Jouy, de, 236


K

KARR, Alphonse, 238, 280

Kock, Paul de, 285, 287


L

LAFAYETTE, 24

Lamartine, 52, 53, 55, 73

Lamb, Charles, 11, 17, 173, 174

Lassailly, 44

Lautour-Mézéray, 103

Leconte de l'Isle, 233

Legendre, Madame, 222, 223

Leleux, Adolphe, 184

Lelioux, 235, 240

Le Poitevin, 230

Louis, XVIII, 23

Louis Philippe, 13, 22, 24, 26, 27, 59, 79, 200, 201

Love in Bohème, 173-176, 178-182, 213-218, 246-248

Lucas, Le Petit, 261


M

MABILLE, Bal, 280

Mackeat, Augustus, 136, 141, 155, 272

Magny's Restaurant, 263

Maison d'Or, La, 96

"Mal du Siècle," Le, 35-64, 252, 253, 255

"Mal Romantique," _see_ "Mal du Siècle"

Malitourne, Armand, 101, 106

Maquet, Augustus, _see_ Mackeat

_Marcel_, 15, 16, 21, 119, 120, 126, 198-218, 244, 248, 250,
      254, 265-267, 271, 277, 280, 282

Marilhat, 169, 185

Maurier, George Du, 7-9

Mediævalism, worship of by French Romantics, 43-46, 94, 95,
      134, 141, 142, 150-153, 201, 210, 211, 221, 224

Mercœur, Elisa, 29

Meyerbeer, 175, 176, 270

_Mimi_, 213-218, 246-248, 258, 259, 277, 281

Mogador, Céleste, 280

Momus, Café, 198, 204, 246, 248, 265-268

Monnier, Henri, 97-101, 275

Monselet, Charles, 226, 233, 262

Montmartre, 67, 216, 288-290, 296, 297

Moreau, Hégésippe, 29, 53, 261

Murger, Henry, 15, 16, 33, 194-197, 232-251, 256,
      261, 262, 266-268, 269, 272, 277, 280, 290, 296, 298
  "Scènes de la Vie de Bohème," 1, 11, 12, 15, 16, 21, 33,
      34, 119, 120, 126, 147, 159, 160, 194-218, 219, 237,
      238, 241-249, 254, 263, 265-267, 272, 273, 277, 298
  Bohemian generation of, 64, 200-251, 263, 266-268, 270,
      271, 277-281

Musard, 14, 269, 270, 276
  Bal, 270, 276

_Musette_, 213-218, 246, 247, 254, 258, 259, 277, 281

Music in Bohème, 249, 250
  in Paris, 13, 14, 71, 73, 269-271

Musset, Alfred de, 13, 17, 48, 71, 76, 92, 93, 102, 106, 115, 184, 202, 244, 302


N

NADAR, 233, 235, 237, 238, 242, 262, 266-268

Nanteuil, Célestin, 133, 136, 141, 142, 149, 155, 169, 184

Nerval, Gérard de, 13, 16, 18, 133-136, 143-146, 148, 149,
      154, 155, 160, 162-193, 207, 212, 227, 253, 272, 295, 302

Nodier, 42, 72, 73

Noel, 235, 237, 238


O

O'NEDDY, Philothée, 40, 56, 124, 125, 136, 137, 141, 150-153, 155

Opéra, 79, 96, 97, 104, 270, 271, 293
  Bal de l', 204, 245, 274, 276

Ourliac, Edmond, 76, 169-172, 177, 186, 187, 272, 275


P

PALAIS Royal, 268, 289

_Palfèrine, Comte de la_, 14, 102, 111-114, 262

Paphos, 269

Paris, 11, 12-15, 24, 27, 66, 67, 105, 116, 282-302
  balls in, 155, 177, 178, 181-185, 204, 225, 270, 274-281
  Café de, 79, 86, 87, 91, 169, 259, 260
  drama in, 221, 222, 271-274; _and see_ "Hernani"
  gambling in, 268, 269
  literary _salons_ in, 70-73
  music in, 13, 14, 71, 73, 269-271
  restaurants, &c., in, 121, 129, 130, 136, 147, 148, 169,
      177, 181, 198, 204, 211, 225, 227, 230, 246, 248,
      259-268; _and see_ Cabaret; Café
  Society in, 65-86, 107, 108
  student life in, 221-225, 231; _and see under_ Bohème

Pelloquet, Théodore, 197, 251

Petit Lucas, Le, _see_ Lucas
  Moulin Rouge, _see_ Graziano

_Phèmie Teinturière_, 213-217, 247, 266

Pilodo, 275

Pimodan, Hôtel, 231

Piton, le _pâtissier_, 262

Planche, Gustave, 229

Pomaré, Reine, 280

Ponsard, 201

Pottier, 237

Prado, 275

Privat d'Anglemont, _see_ Anglemont

Punch, a Romantic drink, 150


Q

QUARTIER Latin, the, 8, 22, 75, 160, 170,
      221-227, 231-233, 249, 250, 262-265, 276-280, 297-299


R

_Rastignac_, 14, 75, 78, 80-82, 256, 261

Récamier, Madame, 36, 37, 71

Restaurants, _see under_ Paris

Revolution of 1830, the, 22, 24-34, 200

Rocher de Cancale, Le, 121, 211, 260, 261

_Rodolphe_, 15, 119, 120, 126, 198-218, 236,
      237, 241, 242, 244, 248, 253, 265-267, 273, 277, 302

Rogier, Camille, 101, 102, 145, 167-172, 177-180,
      184, 187, 193, 256

Romantic Period in France, the, 12, 16, 20
  _salons_ of, 70-73

Romanticism, 25, 26, 28-32, 35-64, 129-159, 201-203,
      221-224, 252, 253, 255, 284, 301, 302

Romieu, 97, 98, 102

Roqueplan, Camille, 169
  Nestor, 13, 17, 104, 105, 111, 162, 169, 212

Rousseau, 185

_Rubempré, Lucien de_, 14, 16, 62, 75, 76, 85, 256, 264, 271

Rue de la Tour d'Auvergne, 210-212, 240, 242, 243, 296, 297
  de la Vieille Lanterne, 192, 295
  Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Bohemian colony in, 187, 188


S

SAGUET, Cabaret of Mère, 129, 130

Sainte-Beuve, 13, 17, 28, 52, 53, 122, 129-132, 157

Saint-Victor, Paul de, 191, 192

Sand, George, 16, 17, 93

Sandeau, Jules, 188, 189

"Scènes de la Vie de Bohème," _see under_ Murger

Schann, 232, 237, 238, 242, 245, 248, 249, 266-268, 269

_Schaunard_, 15, 16, 126, 159, 198-218, 232, 238, 248, 250,
      253, 263, 265-268, 271, 280, 281, 302

Seigneur, Jehan du, 136, 137, 139-141, 148-153, 155

Sénancour, 37

Seymour, Lord, 79, 88-90

Shakespeare, 10

Smoking in Bohème, 151, 152

Staël, Madame de, 37

Steele, Richard, 17

Students, life of Parisian, 221-225, 231

Sue, Eugène, 70, 285


T

TABAR, 237

Tattet, Alfred, 102, 103, 106

Thackeray, 264

Théâtre Bobino, 263, 271
  Français, 133-136
  du Luxembourg, _see_ Théâtre Bobino
  Montparnasse, 263
  des Variétés, ball at, 274

Thom, Napoléon, 136

Tolstoi, Monsieur de, 236, 240

Tortoni's Café, 13, 86, 259

Tournachon, F., _see_ Nadar

"Tout Paris," Le, 73-76

"Trilby," 7, 8

Trois Frères Provençaux, Les, 121, 169


V

VABRE, Jules, 56, 133, 136-138, 140, 155

Vastine, 237

Vauquer, La Maison, 14, 16, 81, 298, 299

Vernet, Horace, 203

Véron, Doctor, 103, 104

Vigny, Alfred de, 17, 28, 52, 53, 55, 73

Villain, 237

Villiers de l'Isle Adam, 233

Vincent, Charles, 241, 242

Viot's Restaurant, 263

Vitu, 277

"Viveurs," Les, 70, 76-108, 204, 231, 275, 276


W

WALLON, Jean, 238, 250, 266-268

Wattier, 185, 193

PRINTED AT
THE BALLANTYNE PRESS
LONDON ENGLAND

       *       *       *       *       *

The following typographical errors were corrected by the etext
transcriber:

Célestin Nauteuil=>Célestin Nanteuil {8}

Les Champs Elisées=>Les Champs Elysées

Gerard de Nerval=>Gérard de Nerval

"Les Jeune France."=>"Les Jeunes France."

Elie Wildmannstadius=>Elie Wildman-stadius

decorated thus because a lew _louis d'or_=>decorated thus because a few
_louis d'or_

nor ne'er-do-weels=>nor ne'er-do-wells

Charles Mouselet says in his preface to "Paris Anecdote,"=>Charles
Monselet says in his preface to "Paris Anecdote,"

Pimodan, Hotel, 231=>Pimodan, Hôtel, 231

       *       *       *       *       *


FOOTNOTES:

[1] "Les Enfants Perdus de Romantisme."

[2] A. Cassagne: "La Théorie de l'art pour l'art en France chez les
derniers romantiques et les premiers réalistes."

[3] "Essais de Psychologie contemporaine," the chapter on Flaubert.

[4] Philothée O'Neddy: "Feu et Flamme."

[5] See René Canat: "Du Sentiment de la Solitude morale chez les
romantiques et les parnassiens."

[6] See Chapter VII.

[7] Asselineau: "Bibliographie Romantique."

[8] "Causeries sur les artistes de mon temps."

[9] Mrs. Trollope: "Paris and the Parisians in 1835."

[10] "Derniers Jours de Bohème."

[11] "Les Salons de Paris."

[12] Challamel: "Souvenirs d'un Hugolâtre."

[13] "Paris in 1829 and 1830."

[14] Major Fraser's name appears in many memoirs of the time, but I owe
the above account to "An Englishman in Paris," by A. D. Vandam.

[15] "Vignettes Romantiques."

[16] Léon Séché tells his story in "La Jeunesse Dorée sous Louis
Philippe."

[17] "Histoire du Romantisme."

[18] Jules Claretie: "Pétrus Borel."

[19] Maxime du Camp: "Théophile Gautier."

[20] "Gérard de Nerval."

[21] "Portraits contemporains." The article on the artist Marilhat.

[22] "La Bohème Galante."

[23] Arsène Houssaye: "Les Confessions."

[24] Gérard, to be precise, quotes an earlier and more cruel version:

                        _...La_ reine du Sabbat
    _Qui, depuis deux hivers, dans vos bras se débat,_
    _Vous échapperait-elle ainsi qu'une chimère..._


[25] See Chapter xi for a further account of Bohemia's amusements.

[26] In a preface to Gérard de Nerval's "Œuvres."

[27] "Les Confessions."

[28] The following account combines much of the information given in
three books: Champfleury's "Souvenirs et Portraits de Jeunesse"; "Henri
Murger et la Bohème," by A. Delvau; and the curious little "Histoire de
Murger pour servir à l'histoire de la Vraie Bohème," par trois Buveurs
d'Eau, the anonymous authors of which are known to be his friends,
Lelioux, Nadar, and Noel. It is in the last named that some of Murger's
letters are given. There is a certain amount of conflict between the
dates given in these different books, but since they are all equally
likely to be inaccurate, I have chosen to ignore the discrepancies,
which are not very important.

[29] This appears in Charles Monselet's diary printed in the memoir by
A. Monselet.

[30] "Histoire anecdotique des Cafés et Cabarets de Paris."

[31] In the summer they took place in the Champs Elysées.

[32] M. Henri d'Alméras in "La Vie Parisienne sous Louis Philippe," from
whose book other details of these balls are taken.

[33] The popular term for the prison in which refractory members of the
Garde Nationale were confined.

[34] Now printed in his "Portraits Contemporains."

[35] The preface to George Cain's "Coins de Paris."

[36] See "Les Comédiens sans le savoir."

[37] Sanderson: "Paris in 1835."





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