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has been the most beautiful day since February 4th. It is the first day in which I have been warm. All through I have had a varnish of warmth every now and again but no real actual internal warmth--I am now in sight of Paris and it is the 16th of April, in the eleven weeks which have elapsed since the 4th of February I have been in Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, Egypt and Morocco. I have sat on the Rock of Gibraltar, sailed on the Nile and the Suez Canal and crossed through the Dardanelles, over the Balkans, the steppes of Hungary and the Danube and Rhine. I have seen the sphinx by moonlight, the Parthenon and the Eiffel Tower and in two days more I shall have seen St. Paul's. What do you think I should like to see best now? YOU. I have been worrying of late as to whether or not I should not come home now and leave Paris for another time because it seems so rough on you to leave you without either of your younger sons for so long. But I have thought it over a great deal and I think it better that I should do Paris now and leave myself clear for the rest of the year. I promise you one thing however that I shall not undertake to stay away so long again; it is too long and one grows out of things. But nothing I feel, will be so easy or so amusing as Paris and I intend to get through with it soon and trot home to you by the middle of August AT THE VERY LATEST. So, please write me a deceitful letter and say you do not miss me at all and that my being so near as Paris makes a great difference and that I am better out of the way and if Chas goes to London I shall be near him in case he forgets to put on his overshoes or involves us in a war with G. B. Now, mother dear, do write me a cheerful letter and say that you do not mind waiting until the middle of August for me and when I come back this time I shall make a long stay with you at Marion and tell you lots of things I have not written you and I shall not go away again for ever so long and if I do go I shall only stay a little while. You have no idea how interesting this rush across the continent has been. I started in snow and through marshes covered with ice and long horned cattle and now we are in such a beautiful clean green land with green fields and green trees and flowering bushes which you can smell as the train goes by. I now think that instead of being a cafe-chantant singer I should rather be an Austrian baron and own a castle on a hill with a red roofed village around it. I have spent almost all of the trip sitting on the platform and enjoying the sight of the queer peasants and the soldiers and old villages. Tonight I shall be in "Paris, France" as Morton used to say and I shall get clean and put on my dress clothes but whether I shall go see Yvette Guilbert or Rusticana again I do not know. Perhaps I shall just paddle around the fountain in the Place de la Concorde and make myself thoroughly at home. With a great deal of love to Dad and Nora and Chas and all.
At the time that Richard's first travel articles appeared some of his critics took umbrage at the fact that he was evidently under the delusion that he had discovered London, Gibraltar, Athens, Paris, and the other cities he had visited, and that no one else had ever written about them. As a matter of fact no one could have been more keenly conscious of what an oft-told tale were the places that he had chosen to describe. If Richard took it for granted that the reader was totally unacquainted with the peoples of these cities and their ways, it was because he believed that that was the best way to write a descriptive article, always had believed it, and believed it so long as he wrote. And whatever difference of opinion may have existed among the critics and the public as to Richard's fiction, I think it is safe to say that as a reporter his work of nearly thirty years stood at least as high as that of any of his contemporaries or perhaps as that of the reporters of all time. As an editor, when he gave out an assignment to a reporter to write an article on some well-worn subject and the reporter protested, Richard's answer was the same: "You must always remember that that story hasn't been written until YOU write it." And when he suggested to an editor that he would like to write an article on Broadway, or the Panama Canal, or the ruins of Rome and the editor disapproved, Richard's argument was: "It hasn't been done until _I_ do it." And it was not because he believed for a moment that he could do it better or as well as it had been done. It was simply because he knew the old story was always a good story, that is, if it was seen with new eyes and from a new standpoint. At twenty-eight he had written a book about England and her people, and the book had met with much success both in America and England. At twenty-nine, equally unafraid, he had "covered" the ancient cities that border the Mediterranean, and now Paris lay before him! This thought--indeed few thoughts--troubled Richard very much in those days of his early successes. He had youth, friends, a marvellous spirit of adventure, and besides there are many worse fates than being consigned to spending a few months in Paris, having a thoroughly joyous time, taking a few mental notes, and a little later on transferring them to paper in the quiet of a peaceful summer home at Marion.
Chief among his friends in Paris at this time was Charles Dana Gibson, who was living in a charming old house in the Latin Quarter, and where the artist did some of his best work and made himself extremely popular with both the Parisians and the American colony. In addition to Gibson there were Kenneth Frazier, the portrait-painter, and Tina, Newton, and James Eustis, the daughter and sons of James B. Eustis, who at that time was our ambassador to France, a most genial and kindly host, who made much of Richard and his young friends.
PARIS, May 5, 1893.
It is a narrow street with apartment houses of gray stone and iron balconies along either side of it. The sun sets at one end of the street at different times during the day and we all lean out on the balconies to look. On the house, one below mine, on the other side of our street, is a square sign that says:
ALFRED DE MUSSET
EST MORT DANS CETTE MAISON
A great many beautiful ladies with the fashionable red shade of hair still call there, as they used to do when the proper color was black and it was worn in a chignon and the Second Empire had but just begun. While they wait they stretch out in their carriages and gaze up at the balconies until they see me, and as I wear a gold and pink silk wrapper and not much else, they concentrate all their attention on the wrapper and forget to drop a sigh for the poet. There are two young people on the sixth floor opposite, who come out on the balcony after dinner and hold on to each other and he tells her all about the work of the day. Below there is a woman who sews nothing but black dresses, and who does that all day and all night by the light of a lamp. And below the concierge stands all day in a lace cap and black gown and blue, and looks up the street and down the street like the woman in front of Hockley's. BUT on the floor opposite mine there is a beautiful lady in a pink and white wrapper with long black hair and sleepy black eyes. She does not take any interest in my pink wrapper, but contents herself with passing cabs and stray dogs and women with loaves of bread and bottles in their hands who occasionally stray into our street. At six she appears in another gown and little slippers and a butterfly for a hat and says "Good-by" to the old concierge and trips off to dinner. Lots of love to all.
PARIS, May llth, 1893.
I am still somewhat tentative as regards my opinion of the place, what it will bring me in the way of material I cannot tell. So far, "Paris Decadent" would be a good title for anything I should write of it. It is not that I have seen only the worst side of it but that that seems to be so much the most prominent. They worship the hideous Eiffel Tower and they are a useless, flippant people who never sleep and yet do nothing while awake. To-morrow I am going to a pretty inn surrounded by vines and trees to see a prize fight with all the silly young French men and their young friends in black and white who ape the English manners and customs even to "la box." To night at the Ambassadeurs the rejected lover of some actress took a gang of bullies from Montmartre there and hissed and stoned her. I turned up most innocently and greatly bored in the midst of it but I was too far away to pound anybody-- I collected two Englishmen and we went in front to await her re-appearance but she had hysterics and went off in a cab and so we were not given a second opportunity of showing them they should play fair. It is a typical incident of the Frenchman and has made me wrathy. The women watching the prize fight will make a good story and so will the arms of the red mill, "The Moulin Rouge" they keep turning and turning and grinding out health and virtue and souls.
I dined to night with the C-----s and P----s, the Ex-Minister and disagreed with everybody and found them all very middle class as to intellect. An old English lady next to me said apropos of something "that is because you are not clever like Mr. ---- and do not have to work with your brains." To which I said, I did not mind not being clever as my father was a many times millionaire," at which she became abjectly polite. Young Rothenstein is going to do a picture of me to-morrow morning. There is nothing much more to tell except that a horse stood on his fore legs in the Bois the other day and chucked me into space. I was very sore but I went on going about as it was the Varnishing day at the new salon and I wished to see it. I am over my stiffness now and if "anybody wants to buy a blooming bus" I have one for sale and five pairs of riding breeches and two of ditto boots. No more riding for me--- The boxing bag is in good order now and I do not need for exercise. The lady across the street has a new wrapper in which she is even more cold and haughty than before. "I sing Tarrara boom deay and she keeps from liking me."
PARIS, May 14th, 1893.
Things are getting more interesting here and I shall probably have something to write about after all, although I shall not know the place as I did London. Will Rothenstein has drawn a picture of me that I like very much and if mother likes it VERY, VERY much she may have it as a loan but she may not like it. I did not like to take it so I bought another picture of him, one of Coquelin cadet and now I have two. Coquelin gave him his first commission when he was nineteen, two years ago, and then asked him to do two sketches. After these were done Coquelin told him by letter that he would give him half what they had agreed upon for the big picture for the two sketches and begged the big picture as a gift. So Rothenstein cut the head and shoulders out of the big one and sent him the arms and legs. It is the head he cut out that I have. When Rothenstein and I and Coquelin become famous, that will make a good story. I have also indulged myself in the purchase of several of Cherets works of art. They cost three francs apiece. We have had some delightful lunches at the Ambassadeurs with Cushing and other artists and last night I went out into the Grande Monde to a bal masque for charity at the palace of the Comtesse de la Ferrondeux. It was very stupid and the men outnumbered the women 30 to 1, which are interesting odds. To-day we went to Whistler's and sat out in a garden with high walls about it and drank tea and laughed at Rothenstein. The last thing he said was at the Ambassadeurs when one of the students picking up a fork said, "These are the same sort of forks I have." Rothenstein said "yes, I did not know you dined here that often." Some one asked him why he wore his hair long, "To test your manners" he answered. He is a disciple of Whistler's and Wilde's and said "yes, I defend them at the risk of their lives." Did I tell you of his saying "It is much easier to love one's family than to like them." And when some one said "Did you hear how Mrs. B. treated Mr. C., (a man he dislikes) he said, "no, but I'm glad she did." It was lovely at Whistler's and such a contrast to the other American salon I went to last Sunday. It was so quiet, and green and pretty and everybody was so unobtrusively polite.
Rothenstein wore my rosette and made a great sensation and I was congratulated by Whistler and Abbey and Pennell. Rothenstein said he was going to have a doublebreasted waistcoat made with rosettes of decorations for buttons. Tomorrow Lord Dufferin has asked me to breakfast at the Embassy. He was at the masked ball last night and was very nice. He reminds me exactly of Disraeli in appearance. It is awfully hot here and a Fair for charity has asked me to put my name in "Gallegher" to have it raffled for. "Dear" Bonsal arrives here next Sunday, so I am in great anticipation. I am very well, tell mother, and amused. Lots of love.
PARIS, June 13, 1893.
There is nothing much to say except that things still go on. I feel like one of those little India rubber balls in the jet of a fountain being turned and twisted and not allowed to rest. Today I have been to hear Yvette Guilbert rehearse and thought her all Chas thinks her only her songs this season are beneath the morals of a medical student. It is very hot and it is getting hotter. I had an amusing time at the Grand Prix where Tina won a lot of money on a tip I gave her which I did not back myself. In the evening Newton took me to dinner and to the Jardin de Paris where they had 10 franc admittance and where every thing went that wasn't nailed. The dudes put candles on their high hats and the girls snuffed them out with kicks and at one time the crowd mobbed the band stand and then the stage and played on all the instruments. The men were all swells in evening dress and the women in beautiful ball dresses and it was a wonderful sight. It only happens once a year like the Yale-Princeton night at Koster and Bials except that the women are all very fine indeed. They rode pig-a-back races and sang all the songs. I had dinner with John Drew last night. I occasionally sleep and if Nora doesn't come on time I shall be a skeleton and have no money left. As a matter of fact I am fatter than ever and can eat all sorts of impossible things here that I could never eat at home. I lunch every day with the Eustises and we dine out almost every night. I consort entirely with the poorest of art students or the noblest of princesses and so far have kept out of mischief, but you can never tell for this is a wicked city they say, or it strikes me as most amusing at present only I cannot see what Harper and Bros. are going to get out of it. I said that of London so I suppose it will all straighten out by the time I get back.
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Adventures and Letters -by- Richard Harding Davis