Paris in the early days of the war: August 16, 1914 — (Charles Inman Barnard)

arisatWar

PaW_slim5

(see previous post in this series: August 15 — Charles Inman Barnard)

Sunday, August 16, 1914.  Fourteenth day of mobilization. Heavy thunder storms set in at three A.M. Showers followed until one o’clock; cloudy afternoon with variable wind. Thermometer at five P.M. 22 degrees centigrade.

Huge crowds lined the streets leading from the Gare du Nord to the British Embassy, to welcome Field-marshal Sir John French, Commander of the British expeditionary force, who came to visit President Poincaré before taking command of his army. At quarter to one, three motor-cars rapidly approached the Embassy. In the second I could get a glimpse of Sir John in his gray-brown khaki uniform. His firm, trim appearance and his clear blue eyes, genial smile, and sunburnt face made an excellent impression, and he was greeted with loud cheers. He had a long talk with M. Messimy, Minister of War.

I am having a very busy time trying to obtain permission for American war correspondents to accompany the French armies in the field. Mr. Richard Harding Davis and Mr. D. Gerald Morgan have arrived in London on the Lusitania from New York to act as war correspondents in the field with the French forces. As president of the Association of the Foreign Press, and as Paris correspondent of the New York Tribune, I made special applications at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and at the War Office for authority for them to act as war correspondents for the New York Tribune. These applications were endorsed by Ambassador Herrick, who also did everything possible to secure permission for them to take the field.

The official regulations for war correspondents are much more severe, however, than those enforced during the Japanese and Turkish wars. In the first place, only Frenchmen and correspondents of one of the belligerent nationalities, that is to say French, British, Russian, Belgian, or Servian, are allowed to act as war correspondents. Frenchmen may represent foreign papers. All despatches must be written in the French language and must be sent by the military post, and only after having been formally approved by the military censor. No despatches can be sent by wire or by wireless telegraphy. No correspondent can circulate in the zone of operations unless accompanied by an officer especially designated for that purpose. All private as well as professional correspondence must pass through the hands of the censor. War correspondents of whatever nationality will, during their sojourn with the army, be subject to martial law, and if they infringe regulations by trying to communicate news not especially authorized by the official censors, will be dealt with by the laws of espionage in war time. These are merely a few among the many rigid prescriptions governing war correspondents.

I talked with several editors of Paris papers on the subject, notably with M. Arthur Meyer of the Gaulois, Marquis Robert de Flers of the Figaro, and M. Georges Clemenceau of the Homme Libre. They one and all expressed the opinion that war correspondents would enjoy exceptional opportunities, enabling them to get mental snap-shots of picturesque events and to acquire valuable first-hand information for writing magazine articles or books, but that from a newspaper standpoint there would be insurmountable difficulties preventing them from getting their “news to market,” that is to say, in getting their despatches on the wires for their respective papers. However, Mr. Herrick is doing everything he can to obtain all possible facilities for Mr. Davis and for Mr. Morgan.

Almost every day brings some fresh measure in the interest of the public. Yesterday the Prefect of Police issued an order forbidding the sale of absinthe in the cafés under pain of immediate closure, and again called the attention of motorists to the regulations which they are daily breaking.

The sanitary authorities, too, have their hands full. So far, however, the present circumstances have had no influence on the state of health in Paris. The weekly bulletin published by the municipality shows that the death and disease figures are quite normal.

Mr. Bernard J. Schoninger, chairman of the committee which has recently been formed by the American Chamber of Commerce in Paris with the object of settling difficult questions which may arise in Franco-American commercial relations, states that his committee is collaborating with the ladies’ committee founded by the wife of the American Ambassador to assist wounded soldiers. In a few days this committee collected one hundred and seventy-five thousand francs. His own committee has issued an appeal to all Chambers of Commerce in the United States, and he trusts that considerable funds will be forthcoming for the ambulance corps created under the auspices of the American Hospital in Paris. The Minister for War has granted the use of the Lycée Pasteur, where it is hoped to establish an ambulance of two hundred beds, which may later be increased to one thousand.

The committee has also taken up the question of the payment of customs duties on American imports into France, and Mr. Schoninger states that he has met with the greatest kindness and that the French customs authorities have agreed to accept guarantees from various commercial syndicates instead of actual immediate cash payments. This will obviate difficulties occasioned by the refusal of French banking establishments, acting under the terms of the moratorium, in handing over funds which they have on deposit.

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

(see next post in this series: August 17 — Charles Inman Barnard)

Published in: on August 16, 2014 at 12:44 am  Leave a Comment  

Paris in the early days of the war: August 15, 1914 — (Charles Inman Barnard)

arisatWar

PaW_slim4

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

Saturday, August 15, 1914.  Fourteenth day of mobilization. Heavy thunder storms set in at three A.M. Showers followed until one o’clock; cloudy afternoon with variable wind. Thermometer at five P.M. 22 degrees centigrade.

Huge crowds lined the streets leading from the Gare du Nord to the British Embassy, to welcome Field-marshal Sir John French, Commander of the British expeditionary force, who came to visit President Poincaré before taking command of his army. At quarter to one, three motor-cars rapidly approached the Embassy. In the second I could get a glimpse of Sir John in his gray-brown khaki uniform. His firm, trim appearance and his clear blue eyes, genial smile, and sunburnt face made an excellent impression, and he was greeted with loud cheers. He had a long talk with M. Messimy, Minister of War.

I am having a very busy time trying to obtain permission for American war correspondents to accompany the French armies in the field. Mr. Richard Harding Davis and Mr. D. Gerald Morgan have arrived in London on the Lusitania from New York to act as war correspondents in the field with the French forces. As president of the Association of the Foreign Press, and as Paris correspondent of the New York Tribune, I made special applications at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and at the War Office for authority for them to act as war correspondents for the New York Tribune. These applications were endorsed by Ambassador Herrick, who also did everything possible to secure permission for them to take the field.

The official regulations for war correspondents are much more severe, however, than those enforced during the Japanese and Turkish wars. In the first place, only Frenchmen and correspondents of one of the belligerent nationalities, that is to say French, British, Russian, Belgian, or Servian, are allowed to act as war correspondents. Frenchmen may represent foreign papers. All despatches must be written in the French language and must be sent by the military post, and only after having been formally approved by the military censor. No despatches can be sent by wire or by wireless telegraphy. No correspondent can circulate in the zone of operations unless accompanied by an officer especially designated for that purpose. All private as well as professional correspondence must pass through the hands of the censor. War correspondents of whatever nationality will, during their sojourn with the army, be subject to martial law, and if they infringe regulations by trying to communicate news not especially authorized by the official censors, will be dealt with by the laws of espionage in war time. These are merely a few among the many rigid prescriptions governing war correspondents.

I talked with several editors of Paris papers on the subject, notably with M. Arthur Meyer of the Gaulois, Marquis Robert de Flers of the Figaro, and M. Georges Clemenceau of the Homme Libre. They one and all expressed the opinion that war correspondents would enjoy exceptional opportunities, enabling them to get mental snap-shots of picturesque events and to acquire valuable first-hand information for writing magazine articles or books, but that from a newspaper standpoint there would be insurmountable difficulties preventing them from getting their “news to market,” that is to say, in getting their despatches on the wires for their respective papers. However, Mr. Herrick is doing everything he can to obtain all possible facilities for Mr. Davis and for Mr. Morgan.

Almost every day brings some fresh measure in the interest of the public. Yesterday the Prefect of Police issued an order forbidding the sale of absinthe in the cafés under pain of immediate closure, and again called the attention of motorists to the regulations which they are daily breaking.

The sanitary authorities, too, have their hands full. So far, however, the present circumstances have had no influence on the state of health in Paris. The weekly bulletin published by the municipality shows that the death and disease figures are quite normal.

Mr. Bernard J. Schoninger, chairman of the committee which has recently been formed by the American Chamber of Commerce in Paris with the object of settling difficult questions which may arise in Franco-American commercial relations, states that his committee is collaborating with the ladies’ committee founded by the wife of the American Ambassador to assist wounded soldiers. In a few days this committee collected one hundred and seventy-five thousand francs. His own committee has issued an appeal to all Chambers of Commerce in the United States, and he trusts that considerable funds will be forthcoming for the ambulance corps created under the auspices of the American Hospital in Paris. The Minister for War has granted the use of the Lycée Pasteur, where it is hoped to establish an ambulance of two hundred beds, which may later be increased to one thousand.

The committee has also taken up the question of the payment of customs duties on American imports into France, and Mr. Schoninger states that he has met with the greatest kindness and that the French customs authorities have agreed to accept guarantees from various commercial syndicates instead of actual immediate cash payments. This will obviate difficulties occasioned by the refusal of French banking establishments, acting under the terms of the moratorium, in handing over funds which they have on deposit.

~ ~ ~ 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 16 — Charles Inman Barnard)

Published in: on August 15, 2014 at 12:40 am  Leave a Comment  

Paris in the early days of the war: August 14, 1914 — (Charles Inman Barnard)

arisatWar

PaW_slim3

(see previous post in this series: August 13 — Charles Inman Barnard)

Friday, August 14, 1914.  Thirteenth day of mobilization. Another hot, stifling day with thermometer (centigrade) 31 degrees at five P.M.

Lunched at the Cercle Artistique et Litteraire, Rue Volney. Only the old servants remain. The club is no longer open to non-member dinner guests. The price of meals is reduced to three and a half francs for lunch, and to four francs for dinner, including wine, mineral water, beer, or cider. There is great scarcity of small change. To alleviate this, ivory bridge or poker counters, marked fifty centimes, and one franc, are given in change and circulate for payment of meals, drinks, etc.

Greater military activity is noticed in the streets than for some days past. Many movements of troops took place all day, and long convoys of the ambulance corps, including several complete field hospital staffs, were seen driving and marching through the city.

This was due to the fact that within the last few days large bodies of the territorial forces had concentrated in the environs, notably at Versailles, from whence they left for the front.

Early this morning certain districts of Paris literally swarmed with soldiers of the territorial reserve.

Although most of them are married men and fathers, they display as fine a spirit as their younger comrades. They may, perhaps, show less enthusiasm, but that they are quite as calm is shown by the fact that a number of them spent the last hours before their departure fishing in the Ourcq Canal.

A detachment of naval reserves has been brought to Paris to assist the police and the Municipal Guards in assuring order in the capital. The men wear the uniform of fusiliers marins, and correspond to the marines in the British navy. They will be placed under the orders of the Prefect of Police.

Mr. A. Beaumont of the Daily Telegraph has had a very narrow escape from being shot as a spy. He is a naturalized American citizen, but was born in Alsace. When the present war broke out, he started in a motor-car to the front without the necessary passes and permits. He circulated about and obtained good and useful news for his paper. The other day, however, he was brought to a standstill in Belgium and was arrested. The Belgian authorities asked at the French headquarters: “What shall we do with him?” The reply was: “Send him on here to headquarters, and if he proves to be a spy he will be court-martialed and shot.” This arose from the confusion of names. It seems that the doings of a German spy named Bremont, of Alsatian birth, had become known to the military authorities in France and Belgium. Beaumont stoutly asserted that he was the victim of mistaken identity, and only after very great difficulty, and with the exceptional efforts of Mr. Herrick and of Sir Francis Bertie, the British Ambassador, was he able to establish his true identity, when he was released by the French Headquarter Staff, and handed over to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Arrivals of detachments of German prisoners continue to be reported from various parts of France. A Prussian officer, speaking French fluently, was among a convoy of prisoners at Versailles yesterday. The officer, on seeing some French territorials march past, singing the “Marseillaise,” remarked to his guard: “What a disillusion awaits us!”

~ ~ ~ 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 15 — Charles Inman Barnard)

Published in: on August 14, 2014 at 12:27 am  Leave a Comment  

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

arisatWar

PaW_slim2

(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  

Paris in the early days of the war: August 12, 1914 — (Charles Inman Barnard)

arisatWar

PaW_slim1

(see previous post in this series: August 11 — Charles Inman Barnard)

(see also the post by ME Clarke for August 12)

Wednesday, August 12, 1914. Eleventh day of mobilization. Hot weather, with light northerly breeze. Temperature at five P.M. 29 degrees centigrade.

Breakfasted with M. Galtier at the Cercle Artistique et Litteraire, Rue Volney. Several members of the club had just arrived from various watering-places. One of them, who came from Evian-les-Bains, said that he was sixty-two hours en route. The trains stop at every station so that they have uniform speed, thus rendering accidents almost out of the question. Only third-class tickets are sold, but these admit to all places.

It seems certain that the first part of the German plan—namely to come with a lightning-like, overwhelming crash through Belgium, via Liege and Namur—has failed. But the battle of millions along the vast front of two hundred and fifty miles between Liège and Verdun has opened, and the opposing armies are in touch with each other. Every one in Paris has confidence in the final result.

There is news of stupendous importance in the official announcement that Germany is employing the bulk of her twenty-six army corps against France and Belgium between Liège and Luxemburg. The disappearance of the German first line troops from the Russian frontier is now explained. By flinging this immense force upon France, Germany gains an advantage of numbers. How will she use it?

Paris seems to have seen very little, after all, of the mobilization. Most people may have seen an odd regiment pass, or perhaps numbers of horses obviously requisitioned. But they realize none of the feverish bustle of the mobilization centers.

Versailles relieves Paris of all this, and Versailles, since the first day of August, has been amazing. The broad avenues of the sleepy old town have been packed from side to side with men in uniform, men only partly in uniform, or men carrying their uniforms under their arm. At the first glance there seemed nothing but confusion, but the appearance was misleading, for at the Chantiers Station trainload after trainload of troops–men, guns, horses, material—have been despatched, taking the route of the Grande Ceinture Railway around Paris to Noisy-le-Sec, and on to the Est system.

At Versailles one realizes very fully that France is at war. For there are lines and lines of guns awaiting teams and drivers, hundreds upon hundreds of provision wagons, rows and rows of light draught-horses, many being shod in the street, while out along the road to Saint-Cyr, in a broad pasturage stretching perhaps half a mile, are thousands of magnificent cattle tightly packed together. They are to feed some of France’s fighting force.

And at Saint-Cyr there is unheard-of activity. The second army flying corps is being organized. It consists of nearly eighty certificated volunteer pilots, including Garros, Chevillard, Verrier, Champel, Audemars, and many more well-known names. There are others than French airmen in the corps. Audemars is Swiss, while there are also an Englishman, a Peruvian, and a Dane. These men are all waiting eagerly the order to move.

Those at the American Embassy who are in charge of advancing funds to Americans in need of them had their busiest day since the work began, on Monday. Forty-six persons received a total of 3,514 francs.

The total amount of money distributed for the three days has been 8,869 francs. This has gone to 105 persons, which gives an average of the modest sum of 84 francs apiece, or less than seventeen dollars.

At least nine out of ten of the applicants are virtually without bankable credit of any kind. One man gave as security—because the money is advanced as a loan, not as a gift—a cheque on a Chicago bank, but he admitted that the cheque was not negotiable, as it was drawn on one of the Lorrimer banks of Chicago, which had gone into the hands of receivers since he left for Europe.

Callers included a number of negro song and dance artists who had come to the end of their resources.

The work of distributing money is entirely in the hands of American army officers, and they investigate every case which has not already been investigated by the relief committee appointed by the Ambassador. Major Spencer Cosby, the military attaché at the Embassy, is the treasurer of the fund. Investigations are made by Captain Frank Parker, assisted by Lieutenants William H. Jouett and H. F. Loomis. The cashier is Captain Francis H. Pope, with Lieutenants Francis W. Honeycutt and B.B. Somervell as assistants.

When the history of the great war is written, a very honorable place will have to be reserved for the women of Paris. In the work of caring for the destitute and unemployed of their own sex, and anticipating the needs of great numbers of wounded men, they are showing extraordinary energy. Every day new and special philanthropic institutions are started and carried on by women in Paris.

Comtesse Greffulhe has taken in hand the provision of food and lodging for convalescent soldiers, so as to relieve the pressure on public and private hospitals and ambulances. Mme. Couyba, wife of the Minister of Labor, is arranging for the supply of free food to girls and women out of work. Marquise de Dion, Mme. Le Menuet and other ladies are opening temporary workshops where women can obtain employment at rates that will enable them to tide over the hard times before them.

The Union des Femmes de France is doing wonderful work in the organization of hospitals and in sending out nurses to wherever they are most likely to be needed.

One of the finest examples of energy and devotion is being set by the wife of the Military Governor of Paris, Mme. Michel. She has identified herself specially with what may be briefly described as “saving the babies.” Her idea is to see that the coming generation shall not be sacrificed and that expectant mothers whose natural defenders have gone to the war shall not feel themselves forsaken.

Mme. Michel is the president of a committee of ladies who have undertaken, each in her own district, to seek out needy mothers, to see that they and their children receive assistance, and to give them all possible moral support.

Mme. Michel is putting in about eighteen hours’ work a day in the discharge of her duties. She is up at daylight, and after dealing with a mass of correspondence, is out in her motor-car before seven o’clock, on a round of the various mairies, to see that the permanent maternity office, which it has been found necessary to start in every one of these municipal centers, is doing its work properly.

At eleven o’clock she is back at the big house which is the official residence of her husband, close to the Invalides, and is presiding over a committee meeting. She lunches in about a quarter of an hour, and plunges into more committee work, which usually lasts until well after four o’clock.

The latter part of the afternoon is taken up in another tour of inspection, dinner is a movable feast to be observed if there happens to be time for it, and then there is another pile of letters and telegrams a foot high to be gone through and answered; and so to bed, very late.

~ ~ ~ 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 13 — Charles Inman Barnard)

Published in: on August 12, 2014 at 12:36 am  Leave a Comment  

Paris in the early days of the war: August 12, 1914 — (M.E. Clarke)

arisatWar

PaW_slim2

(see previous post in this series: August 8)

(see also the post by Charles Inman Barnard for August 12)

Wednesday, August 12, 1914.—  Side by side with the waving flags and the gay brave voices singing the ‘Marseillaise’ flows a strong current of pain. How could it be otherwise? All the vigorous manly life of France has been called to the colours, and the women are left, not ‘ to weep and to wring their hands,’ but to do and to think for their families, to give what service they can to their country, and to bear, if God so wills it, the loss of all they hold most dear in the world.

There are no flags to help the women, no military music to cheer them, no splendid entrainement of camaraderie. But just hard dull routine, and the haunting dread of irreparable loss. All the more honour to them for taking up their burden so gaily, with such courage and with such determination to make the best of things. Everywhere the fine spirit of patriotism and self-sacrifice has been noticeable and only in the shadows of their eyes, or in the drawn look about their mouths, have their sufferings been obvious. It has been a revelation in human nature’s possibility for heroic acts to see the French nation mobilise, and the brave attitude of the women will finely second the courageous deeds of the soldiers when the history of the war shall be written.

It is only since general mobilisation was ordered that we, of this generation, have realised the full meaning of conscription. We were accustomed to every man doing his two years (lately it has been three), and every year his twenty-eight or his twenty-one days. We agreed, more or less, that the discipline was good for him; and we thought very little more about it, unless it happened to interfere with any of our own personal plans. But when suddenly every man of one’s acquaintance between the ages of eighteen and forty-eight is called up for service, the matter takes on quite another aspect. We are brought face to face with the fact that ‘service’ may mean death, and that every man in France between those ages is called out to meet it, to take his chance and to take it at once. There is no choice for him or for the women to whom his life is precious. The rich and the poor, the high and the low—they must all go; for the army is a great social leveller and no respecter of persons as far as service goes. You go to lunch with a friend: three sons of the house are prepared to join their regiments—one is a cavalry officer, another is an officer of the line, and the third is a little piou-fiou. The footman has already gone, the chauffeur goes to-morrow, and the concierge is waiting for his orders.

On the way home, you look in at a quiet courtyard where one of the cleverest cabinet-makers in the world practises the art of mending old furniture in the leisurely fashion of all true artist-craftsmen. His sheds are closely shuttered, his tools are put away; for he, too, has gone to the war. In the evening, the maid brings a pair of shoes with: ‘Madame, le cordonnier est parti, ou faut-il que je donne les souliers de Madame a etre raccommodes?’  Where, indeed? For the cobblers, too, must go to the front. With the breakfast-tray in the morning come clumsy pieces of bread instead of crisp and dainty rolls— the bakers are so scarce that the authorities have sent out the order that only pain de menage is to made. The doctors, the lawyers, the leaders of cotillons, the polo players, the tango dancers—they have all gone, or they are on the point of going. The actors, the musicians, the playwrights, the novelists, the journalists—every one who is young enough has joined his regiment, and those who are left behind are the ones who grumble.

The deserted quais.

The deserted quais.

In the streets there are no buses. Some are carrying stores to the front, some are lying idle on the Champ de Mars, waiting for orders to follow. The Metro’ trains are rare and many of the ticket collectors are replaced by women. The trams, what few are still running, also have women conductors. The boulevards, the avenues, and streets show long deserted stretches where ordinarily the traffic is congested; and most of the private motors which still run fly the Tricolour or the Red Cross to show that they are commandeered. Fiacres and taxi-autos are still to be hired, but they are looked upon as luxuries rather than necessities in these days of economy and renunciation, and people who, a week ago, grumbled if they had to walk a quarter of a mile, now cheerfully trot the length of Paris rather than spend five francs on fares.

But of all the changes mobilisation has worked in Paris, none is more noticeable than the change in the manners of the Parisians; and whatever terrors war may bring in the coming days the memory of much that was pleasant during those days of preparation cannot be wiped out. Men are quick and kindly in their help to women and children; women are tender and pitiful towards each other, and from class to class there runs a chord of sympathy which expresses itself in little gestures of courtesy such as we have not seen in Paris for many years.

Every soldier in the army who has passed through Paris since August 2 has experienced the pleasant thrill of brotherhood as he marched through the crowded streets, and incidents grave and gay are not wanting as the days go by and the mobilisation nears completion. Some men receive a shower of flowers from a pretty woman’s hands, others have miniature flags thrust at them by children; and one soldier called to a woman of the people to give him the flag her baby was waving for luck, but the woman called back ‘No, you will bring us a better than that.’  Everywhere it is the same story of gaiety and eagerness for action on the part of the men; and on that of the women, a quiet acceptance of the responsibilities which are being left to them.

All that is simple and childlike in the Frenchman has been uppermost this week, and in nothing does he show these traits more obviously than in his attitude towards religion. It has so often been said that the Frenchman has no religion; but the Frenchman is like most other men, in time of great stress he turns to prayer. In a restaurant one evening, a group of ultra-Bohemian artists were giving a farewell dinner to a camarade who was to join his regiment on the following day, when some one reminded him that his regiment was likely to be one of the first engaged in action. ‘Bah!’ was the quick retort, ‘What do I care? I confessed this morning; so it doesn’t matter what happens now.’ No one of all that little company of dare-devils thought it odd that he should feel like that; moreover, it is a well-known fact that since the mobilisation order came, men have been in hundreds to confess before leaving for the front. ‘Monsieur le Cure must help me with the prayers. I cannot remember much of my Credo, and I have quite forgotten my Confiteor; but that doesn’t matter, does it, M. le Cure?  What I want is to go away with a clean slate.’ Many men have said more or less the same thing, and all have gone to the priest in the same spirit. There is nothing morbid about it, but just a childlike wish to go off with their hearts and souls washed clean, according to the lights and traditions of their race.

Another pretty incident of the mobilisation happened in a cremerie at Montmartre where Willette, the painter, was drinking a bowl of chocolate with the help of a croissant. Quite by chance he heard a little midinette who was sitting near him tell some friends that she had been to have her photograph taken for her future husband to carry with him to the front, and ‘figurez-vous, mon petit, it is a complete failure! J’ai Pair tellement triste, tenement malade, that it will make him unhappy even to look at it, and there is no time to have another done!’ She was so sad about it, so disappointed, and so pretty, that Willette, without a word, whipped out pencil and book and in half an hour produced the most charming portrait the heart of woman could desire, and it has now gone to the front, carefully guarded in the tunic of a little piou-piou whose wit is as keen as the fun of Tommy Atkins is infectious.

Less picturesque incidents of the last two weeks were those which showed us bands of rough men and boys going round the city with hatchets, destroying all property that was marked by a German name, or anything approaching a German name. During some hours a great deal of damage was done, and several people were hurt, but the police dealt summarily with the malefactors, and since all has been calm. As a result of this momentary madness, however, every tradesman in Paris has run up a French flag above his doors and pasted on his shutters a legend to say what he is and where he is: ‘Le patron est Francais et a rejoint son regiment, ainsi que tout son personnel.’ ‘Le patron est a la frontiere et laisse son magasin, sa femme et ses enfants sous la protection des citoyens de Paris.’ Where the name over the shop is obviously German, the owner has put up his naturalisation papers as a proof of its right to be there, and a well-known dressmaker, whose partner was undoubtedly German, ingeniously covered the name-plate with patriotic flags, and put up a notice on the doors to say that the firm was French, and he himself was fighting for his country. A brave mattress-maker wrote on his door: ‘Dormez en paix. Le Matelassier est a la Frontiere.’ Another tradesman politely informed his clients that he was a la frontiere, and regretted that he was unable, therefore, to receive them as usual. Here and there an old legend, dating from times of peace, states confidently that the shop will reopen in September. We doubt it, for each day’s news suggests that a long and painful struggle is before us.

~~~ M.E. Clarke, from her book Paris Waits, 1914 (London: GP Putnam’s Sons, 1915).

Published in: on August 12, 2014 at 12:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Paris in the early days of the war: August 11, 1914 — (Charles Inman Barnard)

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(see previous post in this series: August 10 — Charles Inman Barnard)

Tuesday, August 11, 1914. Tenth day of mobilization. Warm, sunny weather, with light northerly breezes. Temperature at five P.M. 27 degrees centigrade.

Expectation of the great battle believed to be forthcoming to the north of Liège dominates the situation here.

I breakfasted to-day at the restaurant Paillard with M. Max-Lyon and M. Arthur Meyer, manager of the Gaulois. Mlle. Zinia Brozia, of the Opéra Comique, who remains in Paris, was also of our party. All sorts of war rumors were current, but as M. Messimy, the minister of war, has given to M. Arthur Meyer the assurance that while the news given out “might not be all the news, it would nevertheless be invariably true news,” confidence in the official communications to the press, which are the only authentic source of war news, is unshaken. The French Ministry of War, in its official communiqué of the military situation, issued at 11.30 this evening, states that the French troops are in contact with the enemy along almost the entire front. The only fighting that has taken place, however, has been engagements between the outposts, in which the French soldiers everywhere showed irresistible courage and ardor.

A Uhlan who was captured near Liège on Saturday was found to be the bearer of a map marked with the proposed marches of the German army. According to this map, the Germans were to be in Brussels on August 3 and at Lille on August 5.
~ ~ ~ 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 12 — Charles Inman Barnard)

Published in: on August 11, 2014 at 12:33 am  Leave a Comment  

Paris in the early days of the war: August 10, 1914 — Charles Inman Barnard

arisatWar

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(see previous post in this series: August 9 — Charles Inman Barnard)

Monday, August 10, 1914. Ninth day of mobilization. Hot, sunny weather. Temperature at five P.M. 29 degrees centigrade. Light southerly breeze.

Depicted on all faces this morning is anxious but confident expectation, for the public are conscious that a desperate encounter between two millions of men is impending in Belgium and on the Alsace-Lorraine border from Liège to Colmar.

The French capital is, at the present moment, a city of strange contrasts. Mothers, wives, sisters, and brides were last week red-eyed from the sorrow of parting. Now these same women have decorated their windows with bunting and have no thought other than of working as best they may to help the national cause.

In the streets, the shrill voices of children pipe the latest news from the front; small girls cry grim details of the war.

All prisoners charged with light offenses who are mobilizable have been allowed to go to the front to rehabilitate themselves. The central prison of Fresnes, which ten days ago contained nine hundred criminals, has now only two hundred and fifty left.

And all the time Paris lives an every-day, humdrum life, makes the best of everything, and never complains.

Day by day the aspect of the streets becomes more normal, for the reason that more and more vehicles are freed from military service and can now resume their ordinary duties of transporting the public. Pending the return of the motor-omnibuses, a service of char-à-bancs has been started on the boulevards, which reminds Parisians of the days of the popular “Madeleine-Bastille” omnibus.

Diplomatic relations between France and Austria-Hungary were broken off to-day. War however has not been declared between France and Austria.

I met to-day M. Hedeman, the correspondent of the Matin, who recently witnessed in Berlin the arrival of Emperor William and the Crown Prince, which he compared to the departure of Napoleon III for Sedan in 1870. We were talking at the Ministry of War, where I also met the Marquis Robert de Flers, the well-known dramatist and editor of the Figaro, and M. Lazare Weiler, deputy. M. Hedeman told me that two days after the declaration of war a skirmish took place near the village of Genaville in the department of Meurthe-et-Moselle, between French custom-house officials and a squadron of German cavalry. The commander of the German detachment was shot in the stomach, fell to the ground, and was captured. He was Lieutenant Baron Marshall von Bieberstein, son of the former German Ambassador at Constantinople. A French lieutenant of gendarmes helped the prisoner to his feet. Lieutenant von Bieberstein, who was mortally wounded, said: “Thank you, gentlemen! I have done my duty in serving my country, just as you are serving your own!” He then died. M. Charles Humbert, senator of the Meuse, gave the helmet and sabre that had been worn by Lieutenant Marshall von Bieberstein to the editor of the Matin.

~ ~ ~ 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 11 — Charles Inman Barnard)

Published in: on August 10, 2014 at 7:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

Paris in the early days of the war: August 9, 1914 — (Charles Inman Barnard)

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(see previous post in this series: August 8 — Charles Inman Barnard)

Sunday, August 9, 1914. Eighth day of mobilization. Hot summer day, with light southwesterly breezes. Temperature at five P. M. 26 degrees centigrade.

This may be regarded as the first Sunday of the war. Last Sunday was a day of rush and clamor in Paris. All shops were open and filled with eager customers; the streets were crammed with shouting crowds and hurrying vehicles; everything was forgotten in the outburst of national enthusiasm. In the afternoon and evening the city was the scene of riots and pillage.

To-day Paris presented a strong contrast. The news of French and Belgian successes at the front had cheered the hearts of Parisians, and, in spite of the strange aspect of the boulevards, denuded of their gay terraces, and of most of the ordinary means of locomotion, the city had something of a holiday aspect about it.

In the afternoon the city was crowded with promenaders dressed in Sunday garb. The proportion of women to men has largely increased, but the arrival of numerous reservists from the provinces caused Paris to appear, temporarily at least, somewhat less empty of men.

Indeed, the aspect of the city very much resembled that of any Sunday in summer, when the city is normally far from crowded.

I met MacAlpin of the Daily Mail, who said to me:

“I took a walk in the Bois de Boulogne yesterday afternoon. In a lonely alley I was stopped by three cyclist policemen. They asked for my papers. Fortunately, I had with me my passport and the ‘permission to remain’ issued to me as a foreigner. If I had happened to have left these in another coat, I should have been arrested.

“The policemen told me those were their orders. They added confidentially that they were looking for Germans. After this I saw many more cyclists on the same errand. They are hunting the woods systematically, because many Germans of suspicious character have taken refuge there.
~~~ “I rang up a friend on the telephone, and began, as usual: ‘Hullo, is that you?’ I was immediately told by the girl at the exchange that ‘speaking in foreign languages was not permitted.’ ‘Unless you speak in French’ she said, ‘I shall cut you off at once.’ I suppose she listened to what we were saying all the time.
~~~ “I went into a post-office to send a telegram to my wife. ‘You must get it authorized at a police office’ I was told. Not the simplest private message can be accepted until it has passed the censor.”

No one is to be allowed from now on to have a complete wireless installation in Paris. Many people have set up instruments, some for amusement, some, it appears, for sinister purposes. No one may send messages now, though they are allowed to keep their receivers. In order to hear the messages which come through from Russia, the Eiffel Tower station, it is explained, needs “dead silence” in the air.

It was even announced two days ago that no one would be allowed to pass in or out of Paris between six at night and six in the morning. But this caused such inconvenience to so many people that the Military Governor of Paris was asked by the police to rescind his order, which he at once did.

The tenors and baritones and sopranos of the Opéra and other theaters are going round singing in the courtyards for the benefit of the Red Cross. The Salon is turned into a military stable. Where the pictures hung, horses are munching their hay. The Comedie Francaise is to become a day nursery for the children of women who, in the absence of their husbands, are obliged to go out to work.

Mr. Herrick told me this afternoon that a few days ago the Telegraph Office refused his cipher cables to Washington. The Ambassador at once protested at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where the Minister, M. Doumergue, forthwith gave orders authorizing the telegraph office to accept his cipher messages. The Austrian Ambassador, who is still here, is not permitted to communicate by cipher telegrams with his Government. This is quite natural.

~ ~ ~ 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 10 — Charles Inman Barnard)

Published in: on August 9, 2014 at 9:55 am  Leave a Comment  

Paris in the early days of the war: August 8, 1914 — (Charles Inman Barnard)

arisatWar

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(see previous post in this series: August 7 — Charles Inman Barnard)

(see also the post by ME Clarke for August 8)

Saturday, August 8, 1914. Seventh day of mobilization. Ideal summer weather. Temperature, 16 centigrade, with light westerly breezes. The moon is now full—a first-rate thing for the British fleet in search of German ships; also useful for French military operations, and for lighting the streets of Paris, thereby enabling economy in gas.

The news of the capture of Altkirch, in Alsace, by the French troops, reached Paris at about five o’clock this afternoon. It spread like wildfire through the city, and a rush was immediately made to buy the special editions of the newspapers announcing the victory.

To those who are not familiar with the Parisian character, the comparative silence with which the news was received came as a surprise. There was no enthusiastic outbreak of popular sentiment, no cheering, no throwing into the air of hats or sticks.

After forty-three years of weary waiting, the Tricolor floated over an Alsatian town. “At last!” That was the word that was heard on every side. The moment was too solemn to Frenchmen to allow them to say more.

The existence of war will be further brought home to Parisians on Monday by the disappearance of the morning breakfast rolls. In consequence of the great number of bakers now serving with the colors, it has been decided to simplify bread making in Paris so as to ensure the supply being regular, and consequently the only kinds obtainable after to-day will be those known as boulot and demi-fendu.

The regulation of the milk supply is being rapidly organized. Those households in which milk is a necessity, for children, invalids, or the old, can obtain certificates giving them the preference. On the day after application for these certificates they are delivered, together with full particulars as to the amount, quantity, price, and place of purchase.

The position of other food supplies is excellent. The only difficulty is to get them delivered. Housekeepers must fetch their bread and milk if they want them to time.

Few articles of food have reached the maximum price laid down for them by the authorities. Fresh vegetables and fruit are very cheap. The only important articles which the shops have difficulty in supplying are sugar, condensed milk, and dried cereals.

During the past week about three thousand papers of nationality were issued at the American Consulate-general, and some sixteen hundred at the Embassy. This number may be taken as approximately coinciding with the number of American tourists now in Paris, as virtually all of these had to secure papers of nationality in order to register with the police.

Post-office regulations are still very strict. Following the discovery of numerous spies in and about Paris, General Michel has issued an order strictly prohibiting conversations on the telephone in any other language but French. When this order is not obeyed, the communication is immediately cut off.

~ ~ ~ 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 9 — Charles Inman Barnard)

Published in: on August 8, 2014 at 8:59 pm  Leave a Comment