Paris in the early days of the war: August 13, 1914 — (Charles Inman Barnard)



(see previous post in this series: August 12 — Charles Inman Barnard)

Thursday, August 13, 1914.  Twelfth day of mobilization. Hot, sultry weather with faint northeasterly wind. Thermometer at five P.M. 30 degrees centigrade.

Breakfasted to-day at the restaurant Paillard and met there M. Arthur Meyer, M. Max-Lyon, Maitre Charles Philippe of the French Bar, and Mr. Slade, manager of the Paris branch of the Equitable Trust Company. War! War! War! was the subject of the conversation, but no real news from the front except of outpost fighting, with success for the French and the Belgians. Gabriele d’Annunzio’s flaming “Ode for the Latin Resurrection,” published to-day in the Figaro, is evidently intended to excite Italians to seize an opportunity to abandon neutrality and join France and the Allied Powers against Austria, and thereby win back the “Italia Irredenta.” D’Annunzio invokes the Austrian oppression of bygone days in Mantua and Verona, calls Austria the “double-headed Vulture,” and summons all true Italians to take the war-path of revenge. “Italy! Thine hour has struck for Barbarians call thee to arms! Vae Victis! Remember Mantua!”

After lunch I met Mrs. Edith Wharton, who had made some valuable mental and written notes of what she has seen in Paris. She is about to leave for England.

So sure were the Germans of advancing rapidly into France that they had decided to complete their mobilization on French territory. According to the Figaro, an Alsatian doctor, who came to France on the outbreak of hostilities, had been ordered to join the German army at Verdun on the third day of mobilization. A German tailor, living in Paris, had instructions to join at Rheims on the thirteenth day.

Although the early closing hour of all cafés and restaurants causes some inconvenience, it is being taken in good part by Parisians. It has not the slightest effect on the habits of the city as far as keeping late hours is concerned–no power on earth could make the Parisian go to bed at nine o’clock.

People cannot spend their evenings in the cafés, so they spend them either strolling or sitting about in the streets, smoking and chatting for hours. But the new closing hour has had the effect expected by the authorities. It has made Paris the most orderly city in the world. The police are, however, kept very busy, for the regulation as to carrying papers is being rigorously enforced, and the belated pedestrian is invariably challenged by a cavalry patrol or by the ordinary police. If his answers are unsatisfactory, he undergoes a more searching examination at the police station.

Paris has become a paradise for cyclists. Owing to the lack of transportation facilities, hundreds of Parisians have taken to using bicycles as a practical mode of locomotion, and the city now swarms with them. This state of things is not, however, likely to last very long, for every day brings more vehicles back to the capital, and every day brings a further step towards a more normal situation.

Some cars requisitioned will hardly be returned,—as is evidenced by the experience of Mrs. Julia Newell and her sister, Miss Josephine Pomeroy, two Americans just returned to Paris.

Before the war broke out, Miss Pomeroy left Frankfort by automobile, but in passing through Metz her $5,000 Delaunay-Belleville machine was confiscated by the Germans, and her footman and chauffeur, who were Frenchmen, were put into prison. All her luggage was lost. No attention was paid to her protests that she was an American citizen.

~ ~ ~ Charles Inman Barnard, from his book Paris War Days: the Diary of an American (Boston: Little Brown & Co, 1914).

(see the next post in this series: August 14 — Charles Inman Barnard)

Published in: on August 13, 2014 at 11:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

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