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ACROBATS AND MOUNTEBANKS


BY

HUGUES

LE

ROUX &
A.
P.

JULES GARNIER.

TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH BY

MORTON.

WITH

233

ILLUSTRATIONS.

so

LONDON

CHAPMAN AND

HALL, LIMITED,

1890.

Richard Clay and Sons, Limited,


london and bungay.

,-4:^x^^4/y.,v

PREFACE.
T/te

Bmtquistes was the

first title

chosen for

this

book

it

has been altered for two reasons which appeared conclusive


after

some consideration
it,

the general. public would have mis-

understood
interested in

and

it

would certainly have wounded those


it

it,

who would have known what


is

meant.

But

if

we

consult an etymological dictionary

we

shall find

that the

word sai.timbanque, which


is

more generally used


:

than BANQUiSTE,
s.

derived from a definite root

saltimbanque,
vaults on a

m., from the Italian

word saltimbanco

who
I

bench
the

(Latin,

saltare in banco).

In Italian
singer.

we

also find
that

word cantimbanco, a platform


after tracing out the

must add

when,

etymology of the words saltimfor the origin of the

banquiste and banquiste, we search


banker,

word

we

shall find that the

same

radical,

banco,

is

the root
b

vi

Preface.

of these three derivatives.

In the old fairs two personages

were allowed

to erect a small platform, a "

banc'Wthe money"

changer and the acrobat.

Perhaps the " banc

already served

as a spring-board, giving both the

banker and the banquiste

a greater impetus

in their leap

perhaps

we must even

look

back to the same date to find the exact origin of the now

common expression "lever le pied" (to abscond). However this may be, after the perusal of this book,
lished, enriched,

it

will

be readily understood that the contemporary acrobat, estab-

emerging

into the middle classes, indignantly

rejects a slang

term which apparently assigns to him the same

origin as that of our

modern him

financiers.

This intolerance

is

certainly not the only surprise reserved for the reader of these

pages.

We

claim to lead

to the threshold of

an unknown

world.

Before commencing

this

work, which has absorbed us


I

during at least three years,

made a thorough
came

investigation

of the bibliographic and monographic information

now

exist-

ing upon the banquiste question, and


that
tion

to the conclusion

no French or foreign author worth attention or quota-

had yet interested himself

in this original people.

M.

Houcke, the manager of the Hippodrome, had kindly placed


at our disposal a series of lithographs published in

Germany.
was the
at

But the text and the correctness of the work were so defective, that the

drawings were of no use to

us.

It

same with the Saltimbanques, which M. Escudier published


the close of the

Empire through Michel Levy.


lies

The

sole

merit of

M. Escudier's work

in his

discovery of an unwriting without


in

known

subject.

He made

the mistake of
or

information,

picturesqueness,

philosophy,

the

light,

Preface.

vii

insufferably trifling tone, which

is

common

to

most of the

publications of that epoch.

Since then, a conscientious writer, M. Dalseme,


attached
to the acrobats, has published a

who

is

more
et

interesting

account

of

them

entitled

Le Cirque a Pied
M. Dalseme
work
his

a Cheval.

The

kindliness with which

alludes in his

book

to the

quotations which

he has made
in

tions induces

me

to

notice his

my publicareturn. And truly,


from
be,
it

however unequal and incomplete


the most interesting
subject.

book may

is

still

work

that has yet been seen

upon a new

This judgment places M.


Freres Zemganno,
vidious
far

Edmund

de Goncourt's novel, the

above

this level,

and beyond any


observation
is

in-

comparison.

Although

exact

the
that

discipline of the novelist,


in

M. de Goncourt has declared


superficial.

this

instance his chief object was to write a symbolical

book.
it

His information was necessarily


I

Such

as

was,

do not think that any one has now more reason than

ourselves for admiring the superior art and truth with which

M. de Goncourt has spoken


philosophy, depicted
that
its

of the circus, has formulated

its

passions,

and divined those things


I

were concealed from him.

And

trust that the author


first

of the Freres

Zemganno

will

be one of the

to enjoy the

novelty of this work.

The
books.

perusal of the so-called naturalistic novels has gradually


fairly

accustomed the public to a

strong dose of realism

in

number of young men have written the great masters, stories which, commonplace
the " surroundings."

in imitation of
in

themselves,

are yet worth reading for their conscientious observation of

A thousand

inquiries

upon contemporary

viii

Pre/iue.

life

have been cleverly made, and readers have examined

these social records with


It

much

curiosity.

appeared to

me
I

that the best part of these novels, the

portions most appreciated by the readers, were the facts of


actual experience.

therefore asked myself

if

the time had

not

come

to present to the public these facts free

from

all

romantic
in

fiction, in

a form

in

which the author only intervenes

order to arrange the incidents and to point out the philoto

sophy

be derived from them.


is

The

success of this book will prove whether the attempt

premature, or whether there will be any reason for a sequel.

This publication

is

really the

monograph of an unknown
Its laws, its

people, related by the pen and pencil.


its

customs,
seized,

traditions,

its

secrets,

its

hopes,

have

been

defined in spite of
tradictory witnesses.

reticence,
It

evasions, wavering,

and conof the

describes the
its

organization

banquiste people, the foundation of

agencies, newspapers,
his birth in the

and syndicates,

it

follows the
his

mountebank from

wandering caravan to
circus.

apotheosis in the friezes of the


it

And

at the

same time

penetrates into the stables to

explain the secrets of the trainer, the tamer, and the ring-

master

into the booths to ask the

clown

for the story of his

adventures

and by what chance, having become a gentleman


one day met
a clown
in

himself, he

the land of

whims a gentleman

who had become


I

cannot close this preface without addressing the warmest


all

thanks to
to a

those

who have

aided us

in

bringing this work

successful

issue

to

our willing correspondents from

America. England, Germany, and Russia.

But whilst thus

paying our debts, we must express our special gratitude to

Preface.

ix

the learned director of the photographic department of the


Salp^triere,

M. Albert Londe
;

to

M. Guy de
like

la Brettonierc,

the well-known circomane

to

amateurs

MM.

de Saintthese

Senoch, Bucquet, and Mathieu.

The photographs which

gentlemen kindly took

for us

enabled the draughtsman to

represent the acrobats^ in those intermediate poses which

THE eye never


few figures
will

SEikES,

and which hitherto the most rapid


reproducing.

instantaneous photographs have failed in

prove better than any words the extreme

rarity of these plates.

month of June, 1888, M. Houcke having given us an appointment at the Hippodrome, made the clown, Auguste,
In the

and an

artist

of the fixed bar, vault in our presence.


d' Excursions

The
Fifty

members of
phie,

the Soci^te
its

Fran^aise de Photograall
:

headed by

president,

were nearly
a
battery

assembled.

cameras were arranged


brought twelve glasses.
Albert Londe

like

each amateur had

After they had been examined, M.


alone out of six
printed,

sent us ten proofs, which

hundred had been deemed worthy of being


a
final

and

after

examination only seven plates were preserved by the

painter.

They

inspired the series of somersaults which are

found

in

the chapter on gymnasts.

HUGUES LE ROUX.

ERRATA.
I'aje 78. 'toe 7

from top. for "bloated Vitelliuscs," read, "bloated


3 from top, /<v
'*

Vitcllii."

Page J06,

line

Naet Salsbury," read, "Nael Salsbury."

w:^*i^'

CONTENTS.
CHAPTER
Organization
I.

PAGE
*

CHAPTER
The Fair

n.
37

CHAPTER
Permanent Shows or Entresorts

HI.
57 IV.
:.

CHAPTER
The Theatre Booth

^*

jjIJ

Contents.

CHAPTER
The Trainers

V.

PAGB

^^

CHAPTER
The Tamers

VI. ^^^

CHAPTER
The Equestrians

VII.

'59

CHAPTER
The Hippodromk

VIII.
^

CHAPTER
The
Equilibrisis

IX.

^9

CHAPTER
The Gymnasts

X.
^-^^

CHAPTER
The Clowns

XI.
^77

CHAPTER
The Private Circus

XII.

3?

Index

333

j^fJurt^LONDOH.NW

^Qrfat LONDOH.eiiiCuc.o.-.;;?: ., RorAL B^ 'eNAGEPJES JNTERNATli^'jCi.LUC-D ShOWS.


"Tdhplete Wdnherfui; Combined ^ i -

E!<:hositionsJ5i

<

CHAPTER
ORGANIZATION.

I.

PARISIANS
move.

live in

scandalous ignorance of the beings


of the world in which they

who surround them and

Although fond of curious entertainments, they have

never made any serious inquiries about the origin, the private
life,

or the terms of enhstment of the skilful artists

whom

they applaud in the circus, the theatre-concert, or the playhouse.


I

have often heard persons who considered themselves

well informed, and

who spoke

with

much

reserve and

many

hints of deeper knowledge, assert that secret manufactures

of monstrosities exist in the world, training schools for acrobats, registry offices for

mountebanks

and that by

diligent

search, with a

little

discreet assistance from the police, one

might discover branches of these picturesque establishments


in the thieves' quarters

of old Paris.

Acrobats and Alountebanks.

This story

is

enough

to frighten children, but

it

must be

allowed to pass away with the dust of other fabrications

destroyed by time, whilst you

may

rely

upon the accuracy


;

of the information contained in this book


is

its

sole ambition

to enlighten

you on
it.

this

mysterious subject by telling you

the truth about

The collection of The mountebank is


to

all

these facts has been a

work

or time.

too jealous of his freedom to talk openly

every one that approaches him.


their relations

The same

patience which

travellers use in

with savages must be emfor

ployed before one


people,

can
as

hope

any intimacy with

this

who

are

still

much

scattered, as varied, as strangely

mixed, as vagabond, as their ancestors, the gipsies, who, guitar

on back, hoop

in

hand, their black

hair encircled

with a

copper diadem, traversed the Middle Ages, protected from


the hatred of the lowef classes and the cruelty of the great

by the talisman of superstitious


This
is

terror.

tribe,

recruited
its

from every nation and every type,

called,

in

particular argot, the


:

banque
its

^
;

there

is

the

grande banque and the petite banque


banquistes.

members

are called

Qualities transmitted

through

many
same

generations, natural

selection always tending in the

direction

and dexterity
'

have,

of strength

in

course of time, endowed this inter-

Petite

is a general term for large shows and theatres in a fair. used for small shows, such as " fatma," giants, &c. Banquiites includes all persons showing or performing on a fair ground,

Grande banque
banque
is

circus, or variety entertainment.


I

am
in

indebted to Mr. John

Fanto<(he, for these definitions

words

the owner of the popular Palais des do not appear to be any equivalent English slang. Note by the Translator.
:

H olden,
there

Organization.

national people with special characteristics.

With regard
in

to

the superior instincts,

they possess a taste for adventure,


acquiring

wonderful

facility

in

languages,

assimilating

every variety of

civilization,

and a strange amalgamation

of qualities, which would seem incompatible with each other

Italian

pliancy,

Anglo-Saxon

coolness,

German

tenacity.

do not quote the influence of French

characteristics in the
:

fabrication of these free citizens of the world

the soil of

France

is

so dear to her children that, even


life,

if

they tempt

the glory and perils of an acrobat's


their native land.

they rarely leave

According to

statistics,

Frenchmen form

a proportion of but five per cent, in the tribe of banquistes

who

travel

round the world.

But these mountebanks are


;

not so numerous as one might imagine


a few thousands.

in all there are

only
free

But earth contains no guests more

than these men,

whom

the poet Theodore de Banville greets

as the " brothers of the birds, the inhabitants of the ideal city

of Aristophanes."

Lords of

their

own

will

and time, they obey


engagements.
the heavens

no laws except the terms of

their voluntary
ruin.

They

fly

from war, pestilence, and

When

darken, they strap up their trunks, go on board a steamer

and journey
be found.

to other countries

where gaiety and gold are

to

The

sole disturbance in these careless lives

is

the question

of engagements.

The

skill

with which they have averted

the difficulties, which their preference for a

nomad

life

might

have produced

in their business, is a

very remarkable example

of that practical sense which constant travelling develops in


the least cultivated individual.

Dispersed throughout the four quarters of the world, the


B 2

Acrobats and Aloiintebanks.

banquistes have placed themselves in perpetual communication


with,
first,

managers and

ivtpresarii,

and then with

their

comrades, by means of a certain number of agencies and

newspapers belonging to their corporation.

THE

ERA

The

eldest of these publications


in

is

The Era, published

in

London

English.

The Era, now edited by Edward


It is

Ledger, was started in 1837.

a kind of guide-book,

consisting of twenty-four pages, each containing six columns, the usual shape of an English newspaper the price is

sixpence a copy.

by the

lion

title the royal escutcheon, supported and the unicorn, separates the two words The

In the

and Era.

Organization,

Half the
kind

newspaper
Miss

is

filled

with

addresses

of

this

FLORENCE WEST.
Address
:

lo

Elm Tree Road, N.W.

Miss

MINNIE BELL.
Disengaged.

Crystal Palace.

All these addresses are arranged in alphabetical order.

proprietor can at once discover where the "novelty" with

whom

he proposes to communicate

is

temporarily staying.
all
its
:

The Era

also serves as a letter-box to


is

subscribers.

special

department

open under

this

heading

THE ERA LETTER-BOX.


Then
office.

follows,

arranged

in

columns, an alphabetical

list

of

the persons for

whom

a note has been sent to the newspaper

Adeson,
Atleyn,

M.
Madame.
Miss Erminia,
8lc.

Barry, Miss Helen.


Ckelli,

The remainder
written accounts of

of the
all

^ra
new

is

consecrated to

artistically-

the

theatrical

performances going

on

in

the world, and naturally to offers of employment and

advertisements for engagements.

The most
the

extraordinary fancies are allowed free play in

compilation

and
It
is

typographical

arrangement of these
of
attracting

advertisements.

a question

notice

at

any

price.

clever artist unhesitatingly pays for a whole

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

column,

in

which horizontally, diagonally, as a

cross, or

an

X, he repeats his own name and acquirements three or


four hundred times.
I

quote the following specimens, taken at random from

the columns of the

Era:

A YOUNG MAN,
ment with a
This
artist

completely disarticulated, wishes to enter into an engagein the placards either as the india-rubber

travelling troupe.

can be described

man

or the serpent man.

He

undertakes the

monkey
is

parts in pantomimes.

MISS

MAGGIE VIOLETTE
offers to

(fixed bars)

free

from any engagement

after

Christmas.

A FATHER
one

managers a young

girl,

fourteen years old,

who has only

eye, placed

above the nose, and one ear on the shoulder.

The Era
The

has an American rival also published in English,

New

York Mirror.

This newspaper has only one


it.

advantage over the


Ill

Era:

publishes portraits.
MSr; 1868
Telephon 44S9.

Brlin. dcu 17.

No. IL e ~^cMa.au~.

ngrTtAU>iiOAii

t.tn nf;is.

v^nint- on spF-cuLrrATKS-BCHNF.N sowik PgK KCHAI 8TKI.LKR I ND F.I8E\I)EN R8CHiFTF.

o.nt ert-ktablissksie.nts.

a iwm>v un.

Organization.

Germany, however, possesses


banquistes
:

two
title,
is

newspapers

for

the

one, under a French

which

is

far the

most important,
is
:

La Revue ; the called Der Artist.

other,

The

complete sub-title

Central- Organ

zur Vermittlung des


der Circus,

Verkehrs zwischen Directoren und Kunstlern

M.

C.

KRAUSS.

Varietebii/inen, reisenden Theater

und
M.

Schaustellungen.
C. Krauss
is

This

paper
editor.

is

printed at Dusseldorf

the chief

Der

Artist has been established six years.


the frontispiece and

It

looks like

a weekly review of twenty leaves, printed in three columns.

woodcut, which
first

fills

all

the

left

side

of the

page, represents various scenes from the circus

Acrobats atid Mountebanks.

and theatres
tame
circus

" shootists "

breaking

bottles, horses

leaping

over bars, pretty equestrians on their highly-trained steeds,


lions, dwarfs, giants,

clowns,

all

the attractions of the

and

fair.

Here, as

in the

Era, we

find long alphabetical

enumeralists

tions of travelling

and stationary establishments and


compiled

of

addresses of artists engaged or disengaged.


tisements
are

These adverextraordinary
:

nearly

all

in

an

gibberish, which far surpasses the ingenuity of the " sabir"

here

is

a specimen of them, the

first

met

with.

It

is

curious

mixture
:

of

French,

English,

Latin,

Italian,

and

German words
MISS

ADRIENNE ANCIOU,

la reine

de

I'air,

la plus

grande Equilibriste

a^rienne de l'6poque,

Nee

plus ultra

senza

Rival, frei

ab August 1888,

28 East

4. Str.

New

York.

It is

very remarkable that English and American puffing

has quite disappeared here.


of the
phical
clearly

The

earnestness and application

German
and

character are betrayed even in the typograthis

arrangement of

newspaper

for acrobats.

It is as

carefully printed as a catalogue of the

Leipzic

libraries.

The

biographical notices, announcements of death,

column of accidents, the Varietebuhnen are compiled with


scrupulous care and
exactitude.

This curious publication

even

finds space for literature,

and the

last

number of the

Artist published as a supplement

Damons

Walten, a novel,

by Otto von Ellendorf.

It is

easy to appreciate the services

which these and similar newspapers are able to confer upon


the banquistes.
.

"

To

tell

the truth," one of the confraternity said to

me one

n
Central

-Organ

zui

Vermittlung des Vertelirs

zwiscb

Directoren unil

tilnstleni

Cirens, Vari^t^b&^nen, reUenden Theater and Sehaostellun^en.

Che&edacteur

C. Kraus, Oilsseldorf.

Verancwortl. Kcdactcar
C.

Henaaaa

Otta,

OlmWart

Oruck und Verlag von


f-gi

Krans,

Wehriiaha 28a, OfistaMarf.

Den A.boanenteQ stehen


aniei^eT
i>ro
>

BnknoU fA^XUi; kl *MtwHt I iniuMlta ftr cpuukwdaa VarlaM OavMkMtMf2 Zeilen Raum fttr Erwihniing Ihrer Adreaaa zxa Verfiigung. Fur jede Mehrzcile wird I Mark berecbnet. Dte 7illn>l warn Kcspalteiie ZelU 20 Ptg. Rkl*me pro Szeipalteiw ZM SO PfK gefUllgst selbst beatiinmen und demcuupnelMiid dto Batfac ilimndtn Allen inlragan uti Aultrigeii lind Pcsttntrkw la rM IM < Pla Hl lll|ai
indt.

SndtiB; Aatl4ndticli#r
r

in jeder

Nummer

Corr53fo.-.denz: dsutaon. r.?ll80h. frantSsltch

and lUllanlth
5.

No. 147.

Dusseldorf,

4.

UecSiuher 1887.

Jahrcane

Signorita Rosita de la Plata,


die erste Jookey-Beiterin der Welt, atu
lUrtheil

Sdd-AmerUuu
irtrd ihra
t

der Presse:

ErhOht
krafl

,Der Cirons H. Herzog veraammelt allabeadlich Tausende voa Zuscbauem in der


riesigen Bretterbude auf
I

dem

Bismarckplatz in Dresden nnd UDserer Leser durften dort schon manchen amOsanten Abend zngebrauht liaben In fieberhafter Eile jagen ich die einzelnen Picccn; wir beviele

noch darch aiaa mnthiga Encfaeiaiinf oad ia ebr flotta* Aaftrataa. Dia kiUine Reiterla lat ia Boaao*geborea nod <MM Ajrre* gegenwlrtig ia 18. La > aa>
jahra. Al* EUriii de*

brtk

ten Circusdirectora Cottially,

denen
(tiacba
(ie

ireitTerbreiteta Famili*
fcai oi r aiaD<a

o. rial*

arti-

El aata

Mift. var
ta

vundem

die schOnen, seltenen

Kboa frahaaWf

4ar

Pferde und ibre vorzUgliche Dressur, wir lachen ilber die nrkomischen Tries der Clownc

Maoaga ra Haaaa aai aatpuppM uck gar baM ala aia


eqaetbiKhe*
ersteo
k<>iner

Talaol

aOar-

und spenden eineranmuthigen Panneau Keiterin lebhaflcn


BeifalL
.

RaofM,

walefcaa

PlOJzIich putsen. ein

paar CircUshabitucs hobcn uns ibre grossen Opomgucker and schauen mit Spannang naob der den Stallcingang
verl^allenden Portiere. Jetzt

Jockey - Baitaria 4ar OefcniArt abartJaftawaMa* diirfta. Oar aofaa .fiaaaa


Jockarapranf*. dar an* der Mantc* aa( rfar^a rOckea, geliBft ikr aafaklbar choD bain arttM Mal eine Leiatanf "eMka altra Zoscbaaaftt SUaaaa twd )<f

Symc

Rosita de la Plata !' spricht einor von ihnon halblaiit vor sicb bin und in dem-

kommt

belada

Bawaadanay ahftaft.

[selben Augenblick trabt auch schon ein pracbtiger ScbiuiI

^"^ <***' Dia Jaacal>* BaUairaUaria ia apliM HM.


bai<ralcbariiaKik>Mlait
Oraaia

mel in die Man&ge and liinter I ihin springt, sicb bezsabernd nacb alien Seiten vcmeigend. ein rei^nder Damen-Jbckey. Jubelnder Beifall bogrOsst dia es it anmuthige Dame Rosita de la Plata! Sio gcniesst mit Reclit ilcn Mit Ruf als erste Jockojreilcrin der Welt. vollendeter Sichcrheit and unnachahmlicber Qratie briogt sia aocb nie ga^ohene Tries >ur Aasfuhruog.

mU

Etagaaa
Kaaatlaita

faart.

Cii aa a ti tlg aati llwaf


aooMaala

atoa

and abaran.^
.t

Tlalgafaiart

and

ihr cnthiisia.tiK:li BailaU viclbesungcn . taht ^patta

*J.
i

da

Plata

vor dar gliOifmbtca Cainar* diaja


projnoatixirt watda:*

^BBE

lo

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

day, " in the whole world


little

we have no

pigeon-hole of advertisements,

home but the where those who know


other

us go and ask for news of us, where they learn the history of

our

engagements,

our

successes,
children, or

our

accidents,

our

marriage, the birth of our


death."

the tidings of our

Between the
the

artist

who

seeks

for

an
for

engagement and
an extraordinary
middle-

manager always on the look out

" novelty," a third person necessarily intervenes, the

man, who arises everywhere between buyer and

seller.

And,

in

fact,

at the present

time

all

the principal cities

of the world have their agents for performing artists of every


kind.
profits.

These personages are very important, and make large

Those best known on the Continent are Messrs.


and Warner, of London
;

Paravicini

Hitzig and Wulff, of

Berlin

Wild, of Vienna

Rosinsky, of Paris; Nael Salsbury,

of

New

York, who, during the Exhibition of 1889, has shown


life

the Parisians the savage

of the " Wild West," transported

to Paris in the persons of the celebrated Buffalo-Bill

and

his

Indians.

The
it is

history of the Rosinsky


flourishing that
it

agency

is

worth narration,

for

now so

has replaced, to the advantage

of Paris, the engagement market which formerly existed in

London.

You
this

can imagine that a


first

man would

not open an agency of

kind without

passing through

many

vicissitudes, and,
life.

in fact, R.

Rosinsky has had a most checkered


acquired

He

first

taste

for

the

profession

through

frequenting Barnum's show in the United States.

He

has

been manager of several. American troupes, and proprietor of

Organization.

a theatre,

alternately at St.
affairs

Louis de

Missouri and

New

York.

His

prospered, and, with the aid of a partner,


circus,

Rosinsky opened a

which he intended

to run during

the whole time that the Exhibition at Cincinnati was open,

when an unforeseen

accident ruined him.

R.

ROSINSKY.

One evening

his partner's son,

a young

man

twenty-five

years old, but deaf and dumb, almost a brute, yet robust and

dangerous, attempted to force an entrance into the dressing-

room of an
rehearsal.

equestrian,

who Was

just changing her dress after


for.

policeman was quickly sent

The

deaf-

mute drew a revolver from


and
killed

his pocket, fired at the policeman,

him on the

spot.

The consequences

of this murdfer

may be

easily guessed

13

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

the circus was closed.

R.

Rosinsky

was ruined, and he

recommenced

his wanderings.

A
him

few months later the famous Brigham


to

Young

invited

undertake the management of the Theatre of the

M.

SARI.

Founder of the Folies-Bergeres.

Mormons.
morning,
_.

still

have a copy of the newspaper 7>^ Salt


is

Lake Daily Herald m which

found dated "Saturday

May

22,

1875," an advertisement thus worded:


Salt

^^'^'"''y

Lake Theatre

Manager

GRAND MATINEE THIS EVENING


The Wonderful

JACKLEY FAMILY.
Acrobats and Gymnasts.

Oi\^anization.

Engaged during

the course of the

same year by

Sari, the

founder of the FoHes Bergeres, R. Rosinsky crossed the sea with the Jackley Family.

He

was immediately struck by the small number of "stars"


in Paris, and, in

known
agency

order to attract them, he founded an

His business has increased so rapidly that the Rosinsky agency is now in communication
for artists In

1875.

with correspondents scattered through

all

the great cities of the


the

Europe and the world.


extent of this business.

One fact is enough to prove The annual postal expenses of

firm exceed 10,000 francs (;!^40o).

An

agent of this kind receives

10 per cent, upon every

engagement which he arranges.


in collecting this

To

prevent any disputes

fee a clause is inserted in the


is

agreements

to the effect that the agent's percentage

to be deducted
to

by the manager himself from the salary remitted


artist at

the
are,

the end of the

first

month, and these salaries

sometimes, very considerable.


In order to compare the amount formerly paid to circus
artists

with the sums

now

received by them,

have con-

sulted an old manuscript from the archives of

M. Franconi,

which bears the


dates back for

title

of Registre personnel du Cirquey and

fifty

years.

We
elder,

find that in

1838 the equestrians Auriol, Lalanne the

Lalanne

(Pierre),

Lalanne (Paul), Lalanne (Joseph),


(.;^2o),

were paid, the first-named 500 francs


francs

the others 250

per fortnight.
star equestrian,

The
300

Mdlle. Lucie LInski, then received


100,
50,

francs, her

companions

and even 25 francs per

fortnight.

M. VICTOR FRANCONI.

Organization.

'5

Four years

later, in

1842, Auriol,

whose success evidently

increased, found his salary doubled.

He

received 1,000 francs

per fortnight, or 2,000 francs per month, and the equestrian,


Mdlle. Lilianne,
often

700

francs.

Now, a good pad


;

equestrian

receives

2,000 francs per month

a vaulting clown

p.

T.

BARNUM.

1,500 francs;

a family of acrobats 3,000 or 4,000 francs;


artist,

and a single
unusual,
prices

whose performance
700 to 7,000
at times.

is

extraordinary and

receives

from

francs.

Even
at

these

have been surpassed

Dr. Carver, the great

"shootist,"

was paid 15,000

francs a

month

the Fohes

Bergeres.

months,

Leotard, at his dibut, signed engagements for six The two brothers and received 100,000 francs.

Lockhart,

whom

the Rosinsky agency had sent to India as

i6

Acrobats and Motmtebanks.

clowns, returned as elephant-trainers, and

now each

of them,

with his beast, earns about 70,000 francs per annum. The enumeration of these sums tends, I admit, to only one

object to
that a

fill

the public with respect, and


is,

make

it

understand

good acrobat

in his

a being

as, for instance,

own M. Renan

line,
is

quite as exceptional
I

in his.

intentionally

name

the learned historian in preference to

many

other great

intellects,

because, in his wisdom, he

is

certainly convinced

that acrobatic feats are not less useful than exegesis in the

recreation of mankind.
I

was

led

a short time

ago, a propos of the

manager

Rosinsky, to mention

Barnum

P. T.

Barnum, the legendary

man whose name,


tmpresario.

in

every language spoken upon the surface

of the globe, serves as an amplified superlative to the positive

To
name
Let

write a
in
it

book upon the banquistes and omit

to celebrate

Barnum

would be equivalent to erasing the venerated

of the Prophet from a commentary on the Koran.


us,

therefore,

now

recall

the

chief

events

in

the

biography of Phineas Taylor Barnum.


converted the " American Circus
of the
" into

The man who

has

a national institution

New World
is,

was born

in 18

10 in the village of Bethel

in Connecticut.

He

therefore,

now

in his eightieth year.

refer those

readers

who may be
life

curious

about

the

details

of

this

adventurous

to

a book which P. T.

Barnum himself

wrote for the edification of his admirers {The Life of P. 7. Barnum : New York, 1885), and also to another work, which

was published simultaneously


under the
title

in Paris

and

New York

in 1865,

of Les Blagues de LUnivers.

Organization.

17

pass over the exodus of the youthful ploughboy


to

who
in

quitted the farm


will

become the

editor of a newspaper, and

only dwell upon the patriarch,

who

is

ending his

life

the village of Bridgeport (Conn.) with


the setting sun.

all

the splendour of

There, as far as eye can reach, Barnum's

J.

A.

BAILLV,

Bamum'a

partner and son-in-law.

gaze rests upon his own property only.


village, farms,

To him

belong the

and workshops, the 1,200 workmen, who labour


which special

incessantly, perfecting the materials of the circus,


trains

convey through the American continent, perpetually


one ocean to the other.
to

travelling from

The law endeavoured


trains

oppose the free passage of these

over the public railroads.

Barnum, through economy,

at

i8

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

once
pro-

posed
to construct
lines

new
for

his private

use
of

by the side
Should
visiting

those already existing.


the

idea

of

Europe during the Paris Exhibition occur


to

to him,

he would wish
apparatus,
circus
is

acquire the Great Eastern to carry his


animals.

men and

The
Paris,,

tent

which covers
;

his

alone worth 30,000 francs (^^ 1,200)

it

is

twice as

large as the
spectators.

Hippodrome
In

in
it

and can shelter 15,000

one day

can be erected, a performance

given, and the journey renewed.

The

daily receipts vary

between 40,000 and 6o,coo

francs.

Barnum's cashiers, although

installed in cars containing

tills

and

writing-tables,

have no time to keep any books.


uncounted to Bridgeport

The
silver,

daily receipts are forwarded


barrels,

in sealed

which are
coin.

really

measures of capacity for gold,


accounts are
all

and copper

The

kept at Bridgeport.

Organization.

19

crowd of parasites follows Barnum on

his travels
in

and
;

dwells round his tent.

A
from

town springs up
fifty

a few hours

people throng to
arrival of the

it

miles round.

But then the

impresario king has been preceded for some


descriptive

months
localities

by immense

placards

posted

in

the

through which his troupe would pass.

One
ments.

anecdote taken from a thousand

is

a good example
advertise-

of the advantages which

Barnum has derived from

Some
violinist

years ago a negro, having obtained a reward as a


at the Paris Conservatoire of Music,

Barnum

con-

cluded an engagement with him by telegram for one year


at a salary of

40,000

dollars.

The

walls of

New York
c 2

were

20

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

then immediately covered with placards depicting a negro playing the violin, but without any descriptive words attached
to the picture.

His virtuoso arrived, and Barnum hastened to produce

The Yankees came, listened, applauded, but did not send their friends. What could Barnum do to rouse their He told his workmen to paste the dormant curiosity
him.
.-*

figure of the

negro upside down.

This ingenious device was

crowned with success.

Perhaps the audience who flocked to

hear him during three consecutive years fancied that a negro

would be exhibited to them


servatoire,

a laureate from
may have
is

the Paris Con-

who would
and
this

play the violin whilst balanced on his

head.
millions

Whatever
;

their idea

been, they went in


^

anecdote

not less characteristic of the

peculiar

stamp of American curiosity than of Barnum's genius

for puffing.
It is

also

an interesting proof of the share which advertisein the success of

ments play

an entertainment.

The

artist

world has learnt to appreciate the extraordinary effect of


these coloured placards, and willingly spends a large

sum

of

money
most

in

procuring the most effective designs

and these

advertisements
typical

of

which

have reproduced a few of the

are

so varied and so brilliant that they might

fairly dazzle collectors.

The

finest are Issued

by the firms

of

David Allen and Sons of

Belfast,

Mr. Barlow of Glasgow,

Adolphe Friedlander of Hamburg, and Charles and Emile

Levy

of Paris.
is

This

the general

outline

of the organization

of the

who travel round and without home ties.


banguistes,

the world without

a country

'HAM PS

LlYSEES

22

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

must now speak of a

less

adventurous mountebank

the

Frenchman, who never


willingly travels either

by railroad or steamer,

and who

for centuries

for

generations-has contentedly

jogged along in a caravan


from one
fair to

eternal
ranee.
'1

tour of

/^-J"^^"

^r..

/---<^_-- ^?^^=^^-^_
*. air,*,
j-

\,^_^i>w%tf^^,om>^is>ysfi

i* iw*

l. .

he origin of

all

these troupes of mountebanks, of every

Organizalion.

23

one of these travelling shows,

is

lost in the mist of ages.

At

what epoch were founded the Thddlre


Delisle ?

Vivien, the Theatre de

Saint-Antoine, the theatres of the Enfer and of the Physicien


In what century did Mouza-ba-baloued
first

turn
?
I

his prophetic

wheel under the awning of his caravan


Ob
tfumAra
'.

ftuatm* \xaJi

W ai.

iO

CiiUib<

Bi IS

M M tNrrUr

Uii

LE VOYAGEUR FORAIN
Organe de
la

Chambre Syndicale des Voyageurs Forains


>

JOURNAI. BI-MENSUEL PARAISSANT LB

ET LA

IB

DB OHAOUB HOIB

tl,

REDACTION & AOMINISTRATIOH - Boalevftrd. Henri IV, -

assure you that

it is

beyond the

recollections of grandchildren

or of their grandfathers.

At

all

events,

it is

certain that from

our birth

we

feel

some
at the

curiosity mingled with

a delicious

dread of the mountebank, the picturesque wanderer, who


passes our

home

same date

in

every year

like the

migratory birds

who

disappears one morning, without any

one knowing where he has gone, or even with any certainty

where he has come from


travellers

an ambiguous individual
falls,

whom
his

on the high road pass as evening


kettle installed

encamped

on the wayside, his


thin steed

on a heap of stones,

munching the dusty


red curtains in the

grass, his half-

naked children
through

wandering round the caravan, whilst the


the
little

light shining

window throws the semblance

of a plash of blood on the road.

This

is

the rear-guard, the voluntary laggard, the hermit,

who

wishes to remain alone until the end.


his ancestors,

He

has

not

changed any of the customs of

preferring to

24
separate from

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

his

comrades rather

than

conform

to

ways.
will

His comrades have therefore renounced him.

new They

not drag such miscreants in their rear,

now

that they

form

corporation

with

charters

and

statutes

publicly

decreed.
PuiliMi 4aM* If

4/

Oa iKvaJm

10

CntlaM

DiBUieta* 13 Ttnt\n

1S8

L'DNION
Orgaoe
Officii*!

MDTnELLE
Ifldiislriels

de Ions ies

el Arljstes

ForaiM
Sim
l<ir et

PARAISSANT UE DIMANCHE
REDAniM
EI

ItlMar 6t*.

tOIMSnuilON

ASOMNCMEMTS

39,

Rue de Chiteaudun - PARIS

At the present moment


societies

the showmen's world, like


is

all

other

composed

of rich and poor,

divided into two great


its

disputing parties.
paper,
its

Each of these
meetings.

divisions has
its

own newsits

representatives,

the managers of

interests,
will find

public opposition

On
men

one side you


in the

group of

all

the important

profession, the pro-

prietors of large establishments to defend.

who

have serious interests

wealth,

These gentlemen are the anxious guardians of amassed with much trouble and labour. The

authorities,

who

wish for the success of the " local


to

fairs,"

show

special

favour

these

influential

banquistes
preference,

in

the

allotment of space.

From
sole

this

undue

extra-

ordinary hatred, savage jealousy, result on the part of the


smaller
folk,

whose

fortune

consists of

one van, the

sellers of

gaufres and fried potatoes, the owners of swings


saloons, lotteries, shows,

and

rifle

and
the

halls of mystery.
first

The

less important

men were

to organize

them-

Organizatio7i.

25

selves.

This

is

already the sixth year of publication of the

Voyageur Forain^ the organ of the syndical chamber of


forain
1st

travellers,

a fortnightly newspaper, published on the

and 15th of each month.


article,

notice,

always placed above

the leading

informs the readers that "the syndical

M.

HOUCKE.
the

Manager of

Hippodrome.

chamber of forain
whether

travellers admits into

its

ranks

all

those,

rich or poor,

who honourably
public, or

earn their livelihood

by instructing or amusing the

by

retail trade."
is

The
^

office of this

picturesque newspaper

situated in the

Forain

is

the cant word used for

all

merchants with their wares who

sell

in fairs, but

it is

also applied generally to all owners of travelling shows


II.,

and

amusements.

See Chapter

page 37.

26

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

Boulevard Henri IV., at the end of a courtyard, above a


stable.

There

found an extraordinary Bohemian smoking


quill,

a short pipe, lengthened by a

who

in

himself formed

the whole editorial staff of the Voyageur Forain.

This

man
of

of letters edits the notices of the Fairs, the Correspondence,

and
the

all

the technical part of the newspaper.


is

The

rest

number

composed of

articles

by the members of the

syndical council.

They

consist chiefly of diatribes, directed

against the party of "bourgeois,"


written
in

who form

a separate band,

forcible

language,

which
in

renders

them

most

amusing to any one interested

French slang.
I

The
first

" bourgeois,"

whose names
the

find at the

head of the

number of the newspaper of the Union


8,

mutuelle, dated
society

May

1887,
:

were,

at

time

when

the

was

instituted

President
large

M. Fran9ois

Bidel,

manager-proprietor of a
Chevalier
de
la

zoological

establishment,

Valeur

civile Italienne.

Vice-presidents
proprietor
:

M.
(sea

J.

B.

Revest,
;

manufacturer,

part-

boats

on

land)

M.

Ferdinand
circus.

Corvi,

proprietor and
I

manager of a (miniature)
and
directors,

will skip the treasurers

and quote part of

the address given to the subscribers to the


in

Union mutuelle

the

programme number
men have
worthy of
pity.

In P'rance,

fallen into the habit

of regarding ihe forain as a being

apart, at the outside

However, if we consult our mem.oirs we shall find that in all ages and in every place great appreciation has been shown for the high moral qualities of this population, which, it is true, leads a peculiar existence, but one which is
very honest and perfectly honourable. Are not these men clever, who group as by magic whole cities within the city itselfcities of pleasure, filled with attractions of every kind, which the

Organization,

27

public hasten
these

to applaud and admire? Are they not men of progress, showmen, whose every trick is copied and appropriated in our great

administrations ?

In a word, are they not the pioneers of

civilization

and comfort

Then why do
viduals
;

they appear forsaken


it

Because they

exist only as indi-

because they considered


;

impossible to obtain cohesion amongst

themselves

because, in short, they regarded the creation of a great association

as impracticable.

The generous
:

assistance of

M. Bidel has proved adequate

to lead this important phalange. his profession,

Resolutely placing himself at the head of


"
!

he said
;

" Union

is

possible

let

us unite

Now,

the Union mutuelle, which was only founded on the


is

29th April, 1887,

settled

in

fine
is

offices
Its

in the

Chateaudun.

The

association

rich.

Rue de members have


M.
Bidel

the right to apply to the superannuation fund at the age

of

fifty if

they have belonged to

it

for ten years.

looks forward to the day when, in order to invest their funds,

these restless wanderers over the highways of the world will

buy some "house property"


will

in

have tenants of
in Paris.

its

own.
this

The Union mutuelle The showmen will be estate


Paris.
in

owners

And

hope, which will be realized

a short time, gives the greatest delight to


colleagues, particularly

M.

Bidel and his

when they
the

recall the

modest origin of

the association, the meetings held at the Gobelins, in the

menagerie

even,
at

where

voices

of

the

orators

were

drowned

intervals

by the roaring of the wild

beasts.

Every month the Union mutuelle holds a plenary meeting,


at

which the managers submit their accounts to the members.


to settle

Every Wednesday the managing committee meets


the business of the week.

The correspondence is voluminous. Every member of the society who has had to apply

provincial
to

local

28

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

mayor

for

a license, or to obtain justice, addresses himself

to the manag^ing

committee

to solicit its support,

and

in this

way

the

showman commands
otherwise have

the satisfaction of his claim,

which

might

been refused.

The

interest

CHADWICK.

which the Union mutuetle takes


;

in his affairs is the

highest

recommendation he can have for it is well known that no one can belong to the society unless his judicial record is
clear. One may learn many curious things by reading the Voyageur forain and the Union mutuetle. No

perfectly

one suspects,

for

instance,

that

the order of the

fairs

is

Organization.

ag

organized in an almost unvarying routine, that has existed


for

as

many centuries, and much as possible


In each

that

it

is

arranged so as to diminish
travelling
for

the

expenses of

the

showmen.

number of the newspaper you

will

find

the

following intelligence

Indicateur des Foires du Mois (Guide

to the Fairs held this Month).


list

Then

follows an alphabetical

of the departments, with


in this
I

all

the items of useful information

quoted
Ain.

way

day: the and, Trevouz, pop. 2,635; the 7th, Marboz, pop. 2,556;
;

the 13th, Bage-le-Chatel, pop. 727


2

the i8th, Montreval, pop. 1,475.

days: the 22nd, Lagnieu.

Another department, the Review of Fairs and


the

Fetes, gives

exact information to the subscribers of the paper respecting

chances of a good

sale,

and the disadvantages of a


fair at

useless removal.
is

The

following account of the


:

Sigean

a specimen of these articles

"THE FAIR AT SIGEAN


"A
Nouvelle, 4 kilometres).

(November

6th).

small town, 21 kilometres from Narbonne by road (a railway to

La

Business has been extremely bad here, owing to the


total ruin
fairs

unlucky weather and the

of the country.

few years ago this was

one of the most popular

amongst showmen,

for the inhabitants are

fond

of amusement and most sympathetic towards strangers.


dear, the price being fixed

Space

is

exceedingly

per diem.
still

It is true that

by the municipality at 25 centimes the square mfetre some reductions are granted on this price, but it is
present

"

much too high. The following establishments were


and M. Bracco, Rue de Perpignan
; ;

M.

Betriou,

Museum

of
In

Progress,

theatre of performing seals, Place de

la Mairie.

the

Lemaitre, mechanical
;

museum
all,

two
;

rifle-saloons

Cloffulia, decapitation

Mercadier, roundabout

a bear-fight

Gras-Chognon,
roulette-table

panorama

lottery bazaars, massacres,


if

and above

gambling booths, which saw one


which paid the land-

enjoy great liberty here,

they can pay well.

We

which paid 200

frs.

for

two days, and others

in the caf^s

30
lord
to

Acrobats and Mountebanks.


be regretted for such toleration good and honest showmen."
This
is

400

frs.

for
is

a single

table.
all

to

gambling

the ruin of

1*251. Bne Saint-Honor^. 25 i

NOUVEW
M

CIRQUE

/fe\

^^^

"^^OTit^^^

VaiK^^
contain
as

These papers
foreign
fairs,

also

carefully

edited
letter
:

accounts of
sent
to

such

the

following

the

Voyagcur forain from KarkhofF (Russia)


"

Those of our comrades who do not


below
zero, with

suffer

from cold in the eyes, and are


it

not afraid of being frozen, could try their luck at Karkhoff, where
17 degrees

is

only

70 centimetres of snow; our friend and correspondent gives us some interesting details about the customs of the showmen

and people in Russia thus in most of the cities it is not unusual to see several shows installed in one booth for instance, a complete museum of anatomical figures and groups, a panorama, monkeys, crocodiles, giants, dwarfs, and armless women, all shown for 20 kopecks, or fivepencc, children and soldiers half price no allusion is made to the nurses, or to the treating
:

proper
**

sities of

Russian soldiers in love.


;

These booths remain in the same town for two or three months at a time an exhibition was held at Karkhoff, which preceded the fair, and lasted a fortnight it consisted of a large museum, a glass-spinner, a large circus, a fine menagerie, a monkey theatre, and an aquarium, besides the town
this year
;

Organization.

31

theatre

and

all

these entertainments were established in a city which only


is

contains 20,000 inhabitants, that


so few people, and

to say, there
profits
;

were too many attractions

for

no one made any

the lower classes are not worth

counting, they devote themselves to the consumption of brandy which brutalizes

them and only the nobility, the middle classes and the Jews, who arc bad than good, can be relied upon. It is impossible to open anything before noon on Sundays or Thursdays and, we might add, that the Russian
;

rather

public
is

is

utterly blase, for

it

has seen nearly every variety of attraction.

Still, it

very fond of marionettes, and the owner of a puppet-theatre, willing to risk a

journey in this country, would soon


living
is

make

his fortune

rents are very dear but

cheap, with the exception of wine."

The
these

third

page of both the


is

Union

miituelle

and the

Voyageur forain

filled

with advertisements.
I

As

usual,

columns are particularly amusing.

need scarcely

explain that the following cuttings have been


at

made almost
one word
of

hazard,
:

and

that

have

not

altered

them

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

UNRIVALLED OPPORTUNITY.
For sale (on account of family arrangements) a Large Theatre of Performing Monkeys and Learned Dogs, with a Miniature Circus,
Tent, 28 metres by iim. 40 c.; Chairs with carpets of good quality, the interior well lined with very good carpets, the ceiling of good canvas, the for the outside there is a pretty scenery oil-painted and richly decorated
consisting of a

Perfectly

New

AND Benches for 800 People, provided


;

M.

MENGAL.

ornamented with pictures. The whole has only been in use for one year, and has been well taken care of; in short, it is all new. 5 Vans (or without vans), i caravan, i van for monkeys, also contains a kitchen; 1 waggon carrying 10,000 kilog., i car carrying 15,000 kilog., I van for elephants, horses, goats, sheep, dogs, and other animals.
frontage with a
gallery,

show

Elephant

(usual

tricks)

rides
;

6 Well-trained
15

Dwarf-Ponies

on a velocipede, is worth 15,000 frs. Sheep (a performance never yet shown)

Monkeys and
in

trained

12 Dogs, equally well trained. All these animals are and guaranteed, and the purchaser can be taught how to make them

perform

a fortnight.

The

proprietor of this important establishment

is

engaged
will

for the winter

season in Vienna (Austria).

Orpheitm.

The whole

be sold for 40,000

frs.

Organization.

-*

On

the manufacturers' side

p/^ p Q A T p ^^^^ 0/\i^C

^^ Establishment for Fried Potatoes,


new;
glass

entirely

frontage, 8 metres; depth, 6 metres;

4 saucepans ; moulds; beer till, &c., &c. The booth is all in panels, with planks, waggon, caravan, and a second caravan 5 metres long, containing two rooms; advantageous terms, with or without carriages. Address to the office of this newspaper.
a cutting machine; gaufre irons;
fritter

8 boxes, with a beautiful Belgian stove with 4 frying-holes

C/^ P 0/\i-ri-/ *^^^^ Q A T Th


Price

12,000

frs.,

^ Sweetmeat Business, founded in 1848, well known on the road, possessing an excellent connection. 10,000 to be paid, and easy terms for the remainder.

Business: 35,000

frs.

per annum.
:

156-3906

Subjects for tamers

"C/^ p
'

^^

-'^

QAT P Orvi_,iJ/

^ ^^^^

^^'^^^

works well and

Lioness from the Atlas, 4 years old, is very gentle ; Lioness, of the same

20 months old, very gentle; Leopard, Panther, Ocelot, White Bears from Canada, Russia, and Malay; large African Monkeys, Baboon, Redbacked Pavion, Monk, Pelicans for shows. Moderate prices.
race,

Lastly in the series of monstrosities

py^ *-^ Q A T Th p Oivl-*!-/ ^ ^^


very elegant.

*^^

ACCOUNT OF HEALTH, magnificent opportunity


admired by the whole world. The booth is also be sold on advantageous terms. 87-3290.

a superb phenomena of remarkable beauty, elegant

clean, very gentle, at liberty,

The whole

to

The
tures

fourth page
barrel

is filled

with advertisements of manufac-

of

organs, petroleum lamps, awnings, round;

abouts, decorated capitals for riding schools and booths

of
;

glass and china, Chinese umbrellas, and waterproof canvas

of skies, curtains, harness, nose-bags, hobby-horses, mermaids,


cars, biscuits,

gaufres,

sugar-sticks,

sweetmeats
;

of every-

thing that
turns
;

makes a

noise, shines or sparkles

that swings or

that can be eaten or produces a great effect.

And

as usual these advertisements

amuse

us, for

we

outsiders can-

not bring ourselves to look upon those industries which tend

34

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

only to procure objects of


light.

amusement

for us, in

any serious

Most of these
oldest

articles are

manufactured

in

Germany.

The
is

manufactory of roundabouts of wooden horses


in

in

Moblitz

Saxe-Weimar, another

is

in

Thuringia.

Still,

AGOUST. Manager of the Nouveau Cirque.

there are a few French manufacturers in the


productions, although a
little

field,

and

their

dearer than the

German

ones,

are

much

appreciated by showmen, for the good taste which

distinguishes

them.

M.

de Vic

Bigorre, (Hautes
is

Pyrenees,) a celebrated curtain and scene painter,


these
artists.

one of
all

The

following

notice

is

added

to

his

advertisements
" Note.

Himself a

child of the

fair,

M.

is

well acquainted with

the necessities and style of picture required by each individual, and by this
title,

he recommends

his

work

to all the children of the

banquet

Organization.

35

Another

is

a specialist for the vans used for carrying plant,

dentists' cars, breaks for driving parties, caravans, &c.


I it

saw one of these model caravans


dining

at the Fair

du Tr6ne

contained

and

drawing-rooms, a bedroom
the open

and
went
girl,

servant's room.

Through

window

of the drawingI

room,

heard the refrain of one of Metra's waltzes.

nearer and saw that the musician was a charming young

wearing

plush

dressing-gown,

conscientiously practising

the piano.
I

leave you with this vision of middle-class prosperity.


it

hope

will correct, as far as

may

be, the very

false ideas

which hitherto you may have cherished about banquistes and


their

wandering

lives.

M.

NAEL SALSBURY.

CHAPTER
THE
FAIR.

II.

FASHION, which regulates our amusements,


for

has decreed

some years

past,

that

when

at

Easter time
little

we
is

direct our steps to the Fair

du Trone, our

excursion

quite "the correct thing."

The

faubourgs and suburbs no

longer enjoy the monopoly of the fun collected at the foot of


the two columns, the caps of the swells from Vincennes, and the hair-nets of the

Cytherean bataillon from Montreuilvisible.

sous-Bois are no longer the sole head-dresses

The

Gingerbread Fair has

its

reserved days like the Opera and

the Comedie, and on Tuesdays and Fridays the largest profits


are made.
Really,
if

you

strolled in that direction about five

38

Acrobats and Mountebanks.


afternoons, you

o'clock

on one

of these

select

would be

surprised

to see the

long line of carriages standing in the


Voltaire.

Faubourg Saint-Antoine and the Boulevard


every three cabs,
themselves
in
in

For

which a party of students are enjoying


noisy
fashion

somewhat
will

with

their

little

companions,

you

find

one gendeman's

carriage

with

servants in livery, or, at least, a hired victoria occupied

by

women
year.

in

over-smart dresses,
fair,

who

are

making
"

their annual
"

excursion to the
It is

accompanied by the

mashers

of the

curious to watch these society people


district

when they

visit this

populous

which they have never seen except

through the windows of mourning carriages on the road to

Pere

la

Chaise, or on the eve of a capital execution, lighted

by the windows of the small


festivity.

taverns in a cruel bustle of


little

Secretly, they feel a

uneasy.
shouts

The

too de-

monstrative

enjoyment,

the
rifle

cries,

and songs, the

incessant rattle from the

saloons, the explosion of fire-

works, the pushing crowd struggling round the stages of the


various
booths,
recall,

from which the showman harangues


spite

the

crowd,

in

of themselves, memories of civil war

and the barricades, and produce a gentle shiver


which
if

that

shiver

steals

down

the spine in front of a wild beast cage,

the thought occurs to one that the iron bars might give
in his

way, and the lion


tators
is

fury be free to rush

upon the specmisgiving

But

in itself, this secret, indefinable


it

rather pleasant, and

is

certain that this semi-dread forms

half the pleasure which

many

pretty

women

feel in

venturing

amongst the crowd and exposing themselves to a somewhat rough hustling from the people.

However, when we

emerge from the shadows of the

The Fair.
boulevard and faubourg into the
timid hearts regain courage, and

39

brilliantly lighted

square,
in-

we

at

once catch the

fection of the gaiety surrounding us.

Every one
see
all

is

come

for

amusement and intends

to get

it.

We

the monstrosi-

40

'

Acrobats a7id Mountebanks.

ties, all

the beautiful Circassians, consult


the booths,

all

the somnambulists,
in

and

visit all

make excursions

the switchback

railway and take the traditional turn on the


filling

roundabouts,

up the

intervals

by breaking

pipes, slaughtering marioat

nettes with balls,

and throwing the hammer

the Turk's

head.

And
air,

then the late drive back to dinner in the cool


the slow recovery from the effects of so
roll

evening

much

laughter as
in

we

towards the Boulevards, with paper roses


filled

our button-holes, the carriage


figures,

with gingerbread from

Rheims, comic

symbolic animals, and effigies of Saint

Remo
I

with mitre and crosier, which resemble primitive bas-

reliefs in old

oak torn from the

stalls of

a church choir.

also

as a

make an annual visit to the Gingerbread fair, but not lounorer who follows wherever the crowd leads him. I
to

am accompanied
guides,

the

Champ du Trone by
brilliant
I

the best of the

one of the
to

most
which

correspondents of

Voyageur forain

referred just

now

M.

Philippe,

the editor of the Tir de la Republique.

M. Philippe was formerly a


his sojourn

sailor

and has retained from

on the men-of-war the naval cut of his beard, and

the cap which he wore during the expedition which he


to the North,

made

when he

saluted the Pole in the neighbourhood

of the Behring Sea.

This retired

sailor is a
in the

very intelligent

man, of a stamp which only flourishes


Paris
;

atmosphere of

a gunsmith by profession, the vicissitudes of existence


taste for

and a

adventure have

made

him, as a last expedient,

a showman's journalist.

To

ensure this excursion passing off with due success,

it is

always preceded by a short conference held between two


glasses of beer, in which, elbows

on

table,

my

guide gravely

J)m^'V''^5

The Fair.
reminds me, that
tinction that exists

41

must be

careful to

remember the

dis-

between the forain and the banquiste, the

grande and the

petite banques.

K forain

is

technically a merchant, or the

owner of a game.
a circle of adpaste

The sweetmeat-maker who, surrounded by


miring children,
rolls

serpentine

rings

of

round

flexible
fritter

wand laden with


;

little

bells

is

a forain, so

is

the

merchant

the

same term describes the


Rheims and Dijon, who
the director of

rich agent of

the manufacturers of

travel

round

the world carrying with

them the best brands of gingerbread.


the American

The
tions

celebrated
is

M.

Exaltier,

Galleries,

also a

forain; by the ingenuity of his inveninterest


in

he

has

revived the public

panoramas.
the manu-

The same term

describes the clever

M. Chable,

facturer of the finest hygienic

horses that have ever been

42

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

seen, splendid animals

made

of varnished poplar wood, stout

as a Flemish mare,
"

which cost him two hundred francs each.


if

They were

dearer than

they were alive," cheerfully


" but
I

repeats

M. Chable, caressing

his steeds,

save

it

in

the food."

The
age

post-master of hygienic horses

is

an important person-

in the

forain world, and so

is

also the proprietor of the

" Crystal Palace,"

the most luxurious roundabout of hobby-

horses at present in the Fair du

Trone or anywhere
;

else.

His tent contains no


cost

less

than two organs


fr.

one of them

him 5,000
to

fr.,

the other 12,000

His daily expenses


;

amount
"

eighty francs for his establishment


his receipts in

but a fine

Sunday doubles
Crystal Palace,"

a marvellous way, and the

when

all

the three sous a ride have been

counted up, often makes a thousand francs in one day.


All the keepers of billiard-tables, the owners of wheels of
fortune
or
lotteries,

are forains.

complete and

most

curious book might be written on the fraudulent

games of

chance which swarm


police.
I

in

fair, in

spite of the vigilance of the


Carrabilliat,

shall

write one
intelligent

some day when M.

one of the most

and most respected members of

the syndicate, has completed

my

education.

To

begin with,

he explained to

the mechanism of his race game, an amusement which, although forbidden for a time, is now

me

permitted

in

the

fair

since

the

owners have proved the

impossibility of tampering with the small horses or of pre-

venting the slight bars upon which they


freely

move from

turning

round the course.


tricks.

The good-natured
It
first

public

more

than suspects some


rabbit
is

knows by experience
shot,

that the

never won at the

and

that

no one within

The Fair.

43

the

memory

of

man
its

has ever carried

off the clock with


fact

glass shade.
it

This
its

does not prevent

from paying

pennies to the owner of the wheel of


fortune, or check its eager competition

with chance as a partner, for the possession of a


little

glass chandelier. Here,

as at Monaco, you will find the gambler

who
alas
!

gets excited

and ruins himself


fellow
loses
all

the poor
if

self-

restraint

the bystanders gather round


!

him, watchinor and discussing his luck

44
I,

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

who know

all

the secrets of the

fair,

would charitably

whisper to the imprudent gambler that there are always some


accomplices in cant

" stallsmen

"

amongst the

lookers-on.

These
the

individuals are particularly addicted to loitering near


saloons,

rifle

and the games which require strength and

skill.

They it is who whisper at your back "Well shouldered! a little too low! What a
Stop,

pity!

It

would have broken the egg.


gentleman
will try again."

Arthur,

perhaps the

The "gentleman"

feels flattered, takes

some

silver

from his

pocket, and with an innocent air the proprietor of the saloon

pours twelve caps into his hand.

The
manly

rifle-shooting,
sports.

the hammers,
prefer

and the rings are


hobby-horses
has been

all

Ladies

the

and the
at-

swinging-boats.

You know what


amusement
believe

perfection

tained in this last

for the gratification of those


in

who, like
remedies.

Hippocrates,

the

utility

of

spring

They clear the system. From this point of swinging-boats are serious rivals to all quack view the new Those who have not travelled round the world medicines.
can enjoy in these cars
all

the spasms of sea-sickness and

every variety of giddiness.

In these respects the old system


;

gave
that,

full

satisfaction to

compared with

many worthy people but it appears the new fashion, like the apparatus in

Rue Basse du Rempart, the old swings were mere child's play. Some travellers descend from this invention in much the same state as the wolf which Baron Munchausen turned
the

Where will progress stop ? But progress is very inconsiderate when it attempts to substitute velocipedes and wild beasts for the old hobby-horses. Have
inside out like a glove
!

The Fair.

45

the inventors of these machines never spent one quarter of

an hour

in front of the old

roundabouts

Have

they never

noticed the defiant, haughty glance which the

young shopmen

.^^

and

little

milliners
?

throw

at

you as they pass

in

the course of

their revolutions

Those people are

in a

dream.

For one whole minute they

46

Acrobats and Mo2intebanks.

imagine themselves

in

a higher sphere,
Intoxicated

riding

in

couples

through the woods.

by the revolving motion

which, through the necessary bend of the body nails


to

them
of
of

the

saddle,

they

feel

like

accomplished

riders,

incom-

parable

horsewomen.

a mistaken progress,

Watch them there, ye who have not taken the

pioneers
instincts

the heart into your calculation and cannot, therefore, under-

stand the philosophy of hobby-horses

little

attention will

yet avert the failure which threatens your riding-schools of

velocipedes and carnivorous animals.

But these are


people avoid.

all

noisy

amusements which the society

Do

you remember,

my

dear friend, the drive

we took outside
brilliant

the shows and bands, one fine Easter-Tuesday,


}

with sunshine

You

dared not leave your brougham,

The Fair.

47

you were so alarmed

at

the hoarse roar of the crowd, the

explosion of crackers, the shrieks of the


Still

women

in the swings.

you had one great desire that you would not own

to me,

half dreading a reproof, a wish

evoked by a most appetizing

odour which made your


"
I

nostrils dilate.

am
!

sure you are longing for

some

fried potatoes,"

cried triumphantly at last.

Ah who

would ever forget the glance with which your

eyes rewarded

me

for

guessing your fancy

And, much

to the disdain of your English

coachman and
I

footman, both sitting so correctly on the box,

fetched you
salt.

some
in

beautiful hot potatoes nicely


satin-lined
coupd,

powdered with

And

your

touching them daintily with the


fingers,

ends of your lavender-gloved

one by one, you ate

them, seasoned with merry laughter.


" Oh, Time, arrest thy
flight
!

"

Five o'clock struck

it

was the

last effort

of the

fair

before

48

Ac7'obats

and Aloimtebanks.
the evening meal.
;

the neighbourhood

commenced

The clowns
gongs,

joked and shouted louder than usual

the

rattles,

pipes, drums, speaking-trumpets, barrel-organs,

and whistles
tremenlike

of the steam-engines

all

sounded together

in a final

dous discord.

Through the clamour, the crowd, eddying


took place.

a stream, ascended the Avenue de Vincennes, going towards


the columns erected on the spot where the
fire

Between them, the disk of the setting sun was shining


the

like

Pyx upon an
hill,

altar.

And

as
air,

it

suddenly disappeared
agonizing, which

behind the

a cry rose in the

stifled,

threw you trembling upon

my

shoulder

a cry

which pierced

above

all

the clamour of machinery and

men
all

the

captive

lion's farewell to the

darkened sun
fairs are alike.

It is

a great mistake to imagine that

Each of them, although composed of the


assumes such a
is

same booths,
where
it

different character

from the

locality
it,

installed

and the people who frequent

that

any one

interested in such matters, like myself, could easily


bet, that carried blindfolded into the

make

midst of any local


at the first

festival,

when

his eyes

were uncovered, he could

glance

distinguish which fair


tell,

was being celebrated.


visitors,

And

he could
it,

simply through seeing the


stalls.

who thronged

and

by inspecting the
Look,
fair

for instance, at the

old fair held at Versailles, the

of Saint Louis, which, annually, in the heart of August,


lists

placards on the doors of the railway stations, between the

of circular excursions
pleasures, long

and the

advertisements of
its

summer

descriptions of

attractions

water-jousts,

fanfares of horns

sounded through the

alleys of

the park,

display of fountains in the

Neptune

basin,

shows accompanied

The Fair.

49

by big drums, the music of the roundabouts, the gaiety of the little booths, side by side with the great empty palace. Is it
through the immense width of the alleys that the noise of the

bands seems scattered and

lost ?

Or can

it

be a secret dread
haunts
all

of disturbing the king's slumbers, which

still

these

^.v;r^^w/^^'^^^-^^"Jf^5
<;4^u<m
/':

small folk, and causes


orchestras
?

them

to

subdue the rough music of

their

Surrounded by

barriers, this

agglomeration of diminutive

close white shops resembles a flock of timid sheep huddling through not venturing to ring their bells too loudly

together,

fear of the

wolf

Here,

water too, are stalls of rosaries, holyfaces that you have

vases,

and

fair. crucifixes, recalling the sacred origin of the

No

doubt you

will recognize the

same

5^

Acrobats and Mountebanks.


brightly painted
;

seen everywhere else

the

same

caravans,

with small muslin curtains in the windows


seller,

the

same gaufre-

mixing the same paste,


gesticulations
;

in the

same moulds, with the


horrible trumpery,
dolls,

same

and

lastly the
:

same

utterly devoid of

any

originality

blue-eyed

miniature
frames,

Zouaves, sixpenny knives,

imitation

tortoise-shell

rabbits playing the drum, reed pipes,

and brass trumpets.

No

one knows why workmen are so entirely bereft of imagi-

nation or self-respect as to persevere in the manufacture of

these inferior toys for at least a hundred years


" fairings" travel
all

yet these

over the world.


;

You

will find

them

in

Algiers as soon as you land


Constantinople, shops
full

on the threshold of Asia,

at

of this rubbish are installed side by


;

side with bazaars for Turkish carpets

the ships which bring


fill

from Japan the delicious knicknacks which

our houses,

The

Fail'.

^i

return to the far East laden with cargoes of plush frames and
rabbits playing drums.

But the idiosyncrasy which distinguishes Versailles and


neighbourhood, the chosen retreat of literary
magistrates,
is

its

men and

elderly

the presence of the dealer in old books


fair.

who

annually attends this

From

little

distance the reddish-

brown covers of
stones.

his

wares resemble gingerbread paving-

Men

in spectacles

bend lovingly over the


one

stall,

the

scent of

mouldy

leather gently tickling their nostrils.


is

And

every year there

stall at

which a woman
like

sells
tails,

false hair

by the pound.

Hanging round

horses'

side by side, these poor tresses, collected from the gutter

and

the hospital, produce a tragic effect.

One

anxiously wonders
;

where

all

these dull-looking plaits


?

come from

who

will

wear

them next

One day
if

lingered

about for some time,

waiting to see

a customer would appear.


near.

At
in

last

woman drew
;

Ageless,

in

mourning, basket

hand, unclassable

yet evidently not a happy


"
?

woman.

At

first

she dared not pause, then she regained courage.

"
*'

How much

is

that

Five francs."
hesitated for a
is

She
" It

moment.

too fair for me.

Can you see what


face.

want ?"

And

she raised her veil from her

At length she passed on without buying.


nothing grey enough for her.

There was

The The

fair at Versailles is

a provincial

fair,

a fair patronized
soldiers.

by grandfathers and grandchildren, nursemaids and


typical Parisian
fair,

the chic

fair, is

held at Neuiily.
the Boulevard E 2

In April,

when

the

Avenue de Vincennes,

52

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

Voltaire,

and the Faubourg Saint Antoine are decorated with


stalls,

rows of white

the cold winter wind

still

sweeps over
it

the earth, rushes through the wide streets, carrying with

clouds of dust, blusters through the

fair, filling

the canvas of

the booths like sails on the sea, powdering the gingerbread


stalls as
it

passes

then in rough leaps, as though driven by a


air,

whip, forms dusty columns in the

and

rising several feet


flags

above the ground triumphantly waves the


booths and roundabouts.
It

above the

makes the evenings too

chilly for sauntering about,

hands

in pocket,

under the illuminations produced by the waving

The Fair.
lanterns

53

and the

flickering gaslights

one

feels

too cold to

care for

amusement or refreshments.

And

therefore

when
closed

after dinner the frequenters of the cafds


hail the club coupes, they

on the boulevards
is

never dream, as the door

on the

still

wintry toilettes of their companions, of saying to

the coachman, "

To

the Fair du Trone."

They turn to the


chilly darkness, too

concerts and the circus.

There

is

too

much

long a drive through the deserted boulevards,

between the dinner and the suburban y^/^.


opens

The

exhilaration

produced by champagne and laughter would die on the way.


Neuilly
is

the evening

fair.

It

in the heart of summer,

54

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

in the

full

tide of that excessive

heat

which renders the


to

drawing-room
Parisians

and

theatre

equally

unbearable

those

who

wait for the

month of August before they go


hand, sipping

to the sea,
ices

and who

live in tea-gowns, fan in

and lemons, behind


in the tropics,

their closed Venetian shutters.

Like

passengers

they go on deck, these


chairs,

who watch pretty women

for the setting

sun before

reclining in their

bamboo

impatiently follow the course of the clock-hands, so

slowly travelling towards five o'clock.


get
up,

At

that hour they

and

in

the semi-light

of the

dressing-room,

with

lowered blinds and wide-open windows, they leisurely array


themselves in fresh and scented
dine in the open
Bois.
air,

toilettes.

They

are going to
in the

on the terrace of some restaurant


this

Capes and mantles are too heavy during

month,

and a young

woman
;

can go out without any wrap hiding her

charming dress

she only carries a small shawl and one of


itself brilliant as

those parasols, which,


effect of the

a flower, enhances the

whole

toilette and,

whilst intercepting the sun's


face.

rays,

throws most becoming shadows on the

Then about
all

six o'clock, at the doors of the Ministries


light,

and

along the Quai d'Orsay, a line of


seen, in

open carriages
to

may be

which young

women have come

fetch

husband or

lover, soothing their impatience for the

hour of

freedom by noting the admiring glances of the passers-by.

And when

at last the lingerers

appear

in

grey

hat, white waist-

coat, short coat

and smart buttonhole, the couples lounging back


through the Avenue des Champs
restaurants and the shade of

in their carriages, drive

Elysees, towards the

summer

the

Bois.

The

Pavilion d'Armenonville reaps the greatest


fair.

advantages from the vicinity of the

The

orchestra of

The Fair.
the Tzigane Rigo, hidden in the gardens of the pavilion,
attracts the notice of the passers-by
;

55

first

they draw near, lean


is

over the hedge, and look in to see


little tables.

if

any one

seated at the

" See, there


Political

is

so-and-so, and so-and-so,

and B

."

and

literary

men,

artists, financiers,

women

of both

worlds, the recognized and the unrecognized, the Luxembourg,

the Palais Bourbon, the theatre, the newspapers, the drawing-

room, and boudoirs.

The

guests seat themselves under the

verandah, to watch the carriages drive up.


are dazzling in their
trees,

The

table-napkins

snowy whiteness

against the green leafy

the ice melts in the silver bowls, and the freshly cut
leaves, torn

cucumbers resemble aquatic

from the pond of

56

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

water

lilies,

which we only glimpse at through the hanging

branches of the willows.

Hours pass pleasantly,


Rakoczy March,

languidly, in this festive scene.

The
day-

the Stephanie

Gavotte,
into

give a tinge of
fall,

gallantry and love to the reverie

which we

dreams vague as the outlines of the landscape before

us.

And
reflected

the spell

lasts, until

suddenly, lights, which are not


in the

from the

stars,

appear mirrored

waters of the

tiny lake.

They
lighted.

shine from the red lamps of the victorias

now being
It is

Night has

fallen.
fair.

time to go to the

<>->

,y%ti^

CHAPTER

IIL

PERMANENT SHOWS OR ENTRESORTS.

TH E
What
I

visit to

the fair usually

commences by the

entresorts,

or permanent shows.
are entresorts ?

must again quote


I

my

friend Philip, the ancient mariner,

whom

introduced to you just now, at the present

moment
and

editor of the

Tir de

la Republique, municipal councillor,

editorial secretary to the

Voyageur Forain.

"In

the cant idiom used by the petite batique,

we

describe

58

Acrobats a7id Mountebanks.

by the name of entresort any booth which contains a permanent show without beginning or end, an estabHshment
which the
ptiblic

only walks through.

Waxworks

are entre-

sorts, so are exhibitions of dwarfs, monstrosities, learned fleas,

and tattooed women. The booths which contain catch-pennies,


^,^;^i^^

somnambulists, conjuring
are also entresorts
if

tricks, fat
like,
I

women, and pretty


why.

girls,

you

but they are more frequently


tell yoil

termed Halls of Mystery

need scarcely

Entresorts and Halls of Mystery always swarm in every


fair.

They

are cheap amusements largely patronized by the

Permanent Shows or Entresorts.


crowd.

59

And whilst the more

important shows have changed

all

their entertainments

and have introduced unlimited improve-

ments

into their theatres, the entresort has not altered either

its
is

arrangements or

its

exhibition since the origin of time.


in a

It

always established

canvas booth, sometimes provided


oil

with wooden benches lighted by four

lamps

while the

show

is

usually of

an alarming nature scenes from the

6o

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

Inquisition, executions,

heads of celebrated murderers, exhi-

bitions of monstrosities, of five-footed sheep, armless artists,


calves' heads, giants

and dwarfs.
at

No
more

one should wonder


interested in the

the fact that

many people
is

are

abnormal than

in the beautiful.

But

this trait

being once recognised, the dwarf


;

more wonderful
gesticulate

than the giant

man

is

such a complicated machine, that in

watching these microscopic creatures

who

and

speak

like ourselves,

we

feel

something of the same astonish-

ment

that

would

strike us if

we found

the seconds

marked by
one of the

a miniature watch which


fying glass.

we

could only see through a magniis

For

this

reason the dwarf show


in the
fair.

most popular booths

Every one knows


those

that there are

two kinds of dwarfs


children,

who

are naturally dwarfs,

and those who, as

were

at first of

average size and growth, but whose developIn their case the limbs which

ment was abruptly checked.


the head

no longer grew, were yet capable of enlargement.


is

As

a rule

enormous.

Monsieur Fran9ois, from the Cirque

Franconi

circus rider

the

partner of Billy

Hayden

the clown, the tiny

is

a typical specimen of this class of dwarfs,

who

are called nou^s to distinguish

them from the perfect miniature


all

of humanity.

They
I

are physically deformed, but in

other
is

respects they resemble other men.

Fran9ois, for instance,


first

very

intelligent.

shall

always remember our


Chelli's
"
?

interview

two years ago


" " "
I

in

Erminia

box at the Cirque d'Ete.

How
I

old are you, Monsieur Fran9ois

Twenty."

am

older than you are,

M. Fran9ois

yet, as

you know,

am

not celebrated."

Permanent Shows or Entresorts.

6i

M. Frangois shook

his head,

and as a consolation

"

you see
:

not every one can be a dwarf"

he gravely answered

'

Do

not pity yourself,

sir

you are distinguished

for

your

learning."

Since then M. Fran9ois has told


life.

me

all

about his present

He

lives at Villette with his mother,


is

whom

he supports.

In the evening, as the distance

too great for his short legs,

62

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

he goes out by the


full,

last

omnibus, and even when the vehicle


"
!

is

he

is I

charged for his place.


take so
is
little

"

Yet

room,
;

sir

M. Fran9ois
in his

a brave lad

and those who have seen him

Cordovan
is

boots, driving his

team of
It

six horses,

know
they

that he

an exceptionally good whip.

should though be
in size,

noticed, that

however

deficient the nouds

may be

possess the
of a

same

intelligence

and sometimes the


In 1802

full

strength

man

of normal height.

clever painter

Germany possessed a named Jacob Lehnen, who was exactly 3 ft.


I

10

in.

high

and

read in an English newspaper, the Daily


1740, an

Advertiser, dated i8th August,

announcement of

the arrival at a

London
at

tavern, the Great Glass, of a Persian


3
ft.

dwarf called the Second Samson, only

in.,

who

carried

two strong men

arm's-length and

danced between the

tables with his double burden.

These deformities are not attacked by the decrepitude


which prevents
their

comrades from

living

beyond

their

Pei'tnanent

Shows or Entresorts.
There are

twentieth or twenty-fifth year.


of centenarian nouds.

historical instances

In

8 19, at the Court Theatre, a noude


;

was exhibited aged


according
to
if

sixty-three

her

name was Th6rese Souvary, and


was betrothed
in

to the advertisements, she

her youth

Bebe, a dwarf belonging to good King Stanislaus.

And

these advertisements were untrue, there are proofs in other


places of a great

many

marriages contracted by dwarfs,

who

have had large

families.

M. Edward Gamier,

in his curious

pathological study of the nouis, quotes the case of the painter

dwarf Gibson, who married a wife as small as himself and

had nine children by

her,

of

height and attained manhood.

whom five were of average Two other dwarfs, married in

London, Robert and Judith Kinner, had fourteen children all well made and robust. Lastly, any one may have seen in the

Western papers
d'Olonne, of a

in 1883, the

notice of the death at Sables


in fairs

little

dwarf long exhibited

under the

"

64

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

name

of the Petite Nine.

This tiny creature,

who was

not

more than 31^ inches high, married a M. Callias and had She had even survived the several children by him.
Cesarean operation, and reached a great age notwithstanding
her scandalous insobriety.
In spite of the intelligence of the nouds
I

quite understand

why no one becomes devoted

to

them

but

it is

quite another

thing with regard to natural dwarfs who, whilst remarkable for


their extremely small size, yet retain in their miniature

forms
in

the sesthetic beauty of proportion.


circus or in the fairs,

All

Europe has seen

the

one couple of these elegant dwarfs, General

Mite and Miss Millie Edwards,


the world under the
If

whom Barnum

launched upon

name

of the A^nerican Midgets.

we may
of the

believe

the

manager who superintends the


citizens.

travels

Midgets, they are both American

Their respective families advertised their matrimonial


quirements
wife,

re-

a young man of
girl

six inches wishing for a suitable

and a young
;

of five inches wishing for a husband

of six

they journeyed towards each other across the world,


at

and were married

Manchester.
prospered
in

The Midgets have


are

worldly matters.

They

engaged

at

a very high

salary of

some thousands of
handsomely

francs per month,


for

and
that

will

be able to provide

any children
and
food

Heaven
them

dress

cost

may send them. Their very little. The " General


and a few carefully-measured

usually dines

upon

half a biscuit
is

drops of wine.

He

marvellously jealous of his wife, and

when

once advanced to her carriage to help her to alight, Mr. Mite pretty curtly informed me in English that he kept
I

a footman on purpose to attend to her.

Permanent Shows or Entresorts.


But
appears that the General
:

65

it

is

not only jealous, he

is

also fickle

he had

brilliant success in
it,

England.

tried

to

make him

talk about

but like an honourable man, he was

mute upon the

subject,

and

his present impresario told

me

that he had often

attempted to sound him upon the point,


I

but had met with no better success than

had done.

General Mite sings the tambour-major's song extremely

well

manages a
mimic

" sociable " tricycle like a

professional,

and
a

waltzes gracefully.

The
;

General
acts

is

very brisk, very


little

lively,

wonderful
talent

he

several

pieces

with

real

amongst

others, a

scene of drunkenness,

and the

promenade of a

New York

dandy.
his wife possess the

But neither the General nor

same

charm as Princess Paulina.


wonderful
like the
little

have been quite close

to this

creature and taken her by the hand, which,


is

whole of her person,

modelled with

infinite delicacy.

66

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

She might be taken


Tanagra
freshly
to her lips, a

for a

waxen

statuette, a thiy
little

dancer from
still

exhumed, with a
gold to her

carmine

clinging

little

tunic.

One might
which Loret,
little

apply to Princess Paulina the same praises


in

1653, addressed

in his

"Gazette"

to

"a

dwarf belonging

to Mademoiselle,"

who was

suffering

from a cold on the chest produced

by the slamming of a

door
"Jamais pies de Roy ny de Prince^ On ne vid de naine si mirxe. Quand une puce la mordait Et qu'icelle se defendait, La puce pour finir la guerre,

La
Et

mettait aize'ment par terre,


la

moindre haleine du vent


tomber bien souvent.
si

La

fazait

Enfin, elle etait

petite
favorite),

(Quoiqu'aucunement

Que, dans un

petit balancier

De

cuivre,

d'arain
plaisir

Etant par

ou d'acier, un jour mise,

Avec robe, jupe et chemize, Et de plus sa coiffure encor, Tout ne pezait qu'un louis d'or."
^

No

king nor prince did ever see tiny dwarf as she. When a flea to bite her tried, The feast intended she denied, And tried to crush him ; then she found With ease he threw her to the ground. The summer breeze, a zephyr's sigh, Would blow her down in passing by. In fact, she was so slim and small (Although in no way beautiful). That when she stood in merry play,

Such a

Upon a tiny scale, one day Of brass, of copper, or of steel


With dress and petticoat and

d'or

frill.

And with her coiffure, furthermore The whole weighed but one louis

Permanent Shows or Entresorts.


" Princess Paulina," says the voluble
vertises her to the public, "
is

67

individual
old.

who
She
is

ad-

eleven years

of

Dutch
pounds
;

origin,

and measures

15! inches, and weighs ten

she

is

introduced by her brother


lifts

who

is

with her."

And

the robust stripling

the-

little

doll like

an ounce

he holds out one arm and,

in the

pleasantest manner, the


it.

little

princess performs a few acrobatic feats over

She
F 2

is

very

"" "

68'

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

proud of
" Shall

this little social talent.

When

was introduced
:

to

her behind the scenes, she courteously said


I

turn a somersault for monsieur ?"

And
down,

in

an instant she was standing on her hands, head


a clown.

feet in air, like

With her

tiny dress of coral


her, Princess

coloured
Paulina

muslin and satin flying out


did not

around

look any

larger than

a bouquet of

roses

enveloped in white paper,


I

asked her

all

the questions that etiquette requires

when

speaking to a dwarf.
"Princess Paulina, have you a doll ?"

"As
She

large as this, Monsieur."

raised her

hand above her head, but even then


size of the

it

only

reached the

medium

Bebds Hurel.
for dinner
"
.^

" Princess Paulina,


" Six oysters

what did you eat

and some breast of chicken."


do you speak English
.^

" Princess Paulina,

"Very
"

well."

Princess Paulina, can you speak

German
a kiss
little

"

Sehr guty
you give
cried

" Princess Paulina, will

me
the

.-^

"Kiss
alarmed.

gentleman!"

princess,

quite

And

she consulted her

tall

brother with a look.

The
to

tall

brother gave an affirmative nod of the head, and the princess

submitted to the caress


those

this is

how

am

able

inform

who may
is

not be aware of the


like a

fact, that, like

new-born

babies, a litde

dwarf smells

grey mouse.

But there

no need

for sensitive souls to distress

them-

selves about these fragile beings.

Vanity

is

quite as strong

Permanent Shows or Entresorts.


in

69
"

a dwarf as
is

in

a man, and every " Princess Paulina

in the

world

pleased to be exhibited.

Besides, the parents of

these goslings with golden eggs are too

much

interested in

prolonging their lives ever to maltreat them.

Those who
all

should be pitied are the poor children sold once for

to a

speculator.

One

of these dwarfs

met with a

tragic fate

some

years ago.

He

was named Joseph.


thin,

At seventeen he measured only


woebegone
like

27 inches, and had a

face rendered grotesque

by an enormous nose which,


abnormally large.

his

hands and

feet,

was

JO

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

His parents, small

agriculturists at Saintes,

sold

him

in

1882 to a mountebank,
popularity of his

who endeavoured

to

increase

the

show by making

this scrap of a

man become
to resemble

an animal-tamer.

By
tigers,

dint of great patience six cats

were painted

with yellow and black stripes.

The

animals were shut

into a cage with the dwarf,

and the unlucky Joseph, half dead

with

fear,

was

forced, with the aid of a riding- whip, to

make
12th,

the cats perform.

The

attempt succeeded for some time,

when on July

1882, at the fair of Beaupre-sur-Saone, one of the cats sud-

denly flew at the dwarf's throat and threw him


weight.

down by

its

In

one

second

all

the

other

cats

had rushed
intervene,
his

upon
cat-

Joseph,

and

before

any

one

could
torn

the

tamer was strangled,


with blood.

his eyes

out,

face

covered

The mountebank
Lille.
I

fled

a few days later he was arrested at

was lately discussing

this tragic accident with

M.

Francois,

and

my

friend,

who was drawing on

his riding-boots,
:

paused

in the effort to utter these


**

melancholy words

We

were certainly happier under the old


one
is

regime.''

When

satiated with the

abnormal and monstrous,

the thoughts

naturally

tend towards those entertainments

which exhibit the perfection of human beauty.


It

must
has

be

admitted

that

in

this

respect

the public

taste

improved.

The

infantine
for

and Orienta^ admira-

tion

which the crowd displayed

enormous women, the


is

"fat lady"

who weighed 250

lbs.,

declining so quickly

Permanent Shozus or Entresorts.

71

that the "colossus" has

nearly disappeared from the

fair.

And

re'ally

pretty

girls

are

now

exhibited

in

the

" Halls

of Mystery."

Acrobats and Mountebanks.


success of the " Beautiful Fatma," hastened this revo-

The
lution.

No

fair

of any importance
" Beautiful

is

now

held without some

imitation of the
I

Fatma

"

being on the ground.

noticed the Pavilion

Marocain amongst the most successful


and gentlemen,"
;

of these imitations.
"

Walk

in,

walk

in

ladies

cries the

show-

man
in,

at the top of his voice

"walk

in

and see the danse du


!

ventre, as

danced
!

at

Bardo before the Bey of Tunis


"
!

Walk

walk

in

Hurry up

We

enter.

one end three

The booth is clean and prettily decorated at women in Oriental dresses are singing a harsh
;

melody accompanied by the

traditional

thrumming on the

bamboo drums, which look


if

like butter pots.

They

are called,

names are asked


is

for,

Aicha, Dora, and Hardiendja.

But

there

Fatma

in

the house.

She

is
:

a negress about twenty


at its base the
this detail
still,

years old, a fine specimen of her race

nose

is

almost as wide as her thick

lips,

and by
;

Fatma

shocks
at
this

all

our ideas of classic proportions

when looking

tall,

well-made

girl, I,

for the

first

time, understood

mean when they speak of the beauty and exquisite grace of negro women. In spite of all defects there is a pleasant harmony in the dark face, brightened by the
what
travellers

modest mischievous eyes.


the negro Bouillabaisse,

And when Fatma


first

dances before

Zanzibar,
attitudes

her

comic actor to the Sultan of

graceful

swaying

movements, her languid


in

and smiling gestures rouse

her audience that


gentle,

innate

sympathy with Oriental views of women, the


which
"

soulless creature of the East,

lies

dormant

in the heart

of every man.

Another

" Hall of

Mystery

worth visiting

is

the "

House

///

LA BELLE FATMA.

Permanent Shows or Entresorts.


of Metamorphosis,"
" Secret des Dieux."

Manager Stenegry,

at

the sign

of the

The
herself,

real attraction of this establishment is Mdlle.

Stenegry

a Romanische of rare beauty,


-'

who

with her golden

Vk

,\\\*'*-

sequins and Egyptian diadem forms the most perfect " Es-

meralda
find a

" that

you ever dreamed of

at sixteen.

Inside

we

second young lady, equally lovely, a charming blonde

Mademoiselle Lutece.
of Pygmalion."

She

fills

the role of Galatea, " the

marble statue that acquired

life

beneath the burning kisses

74
"

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

Pygmalion" does not appear, but

in a

darkened room, by

some device of
spectators.

slanting mirrors, the beautiful head of Mdlle.

Lutece changes into a death's-head before the eyes of the

Then from

the youthful polished

ivory skull a

rose

bush suddenly appears.


has inspired

This eminently philosophical


father,
I

contrast

M. Stenegry, the

with

some
his

wonderful variations of the original idea.

recommend

"Programme

of visible

and mysterious apparitions"

to all

collectors of comicalities.

"Everything

pales.

,"

he says, "everything dissolves,


see the chef-d'oeuvre produced
;

everything blends.

Come and

by

my

researches upon metempsychosis

it

will

submit

its

revelations

and revolutions
its

to the

judgment of the
entertainment

spectators,

who

will

become

sincere admirers."
aesthetic
in the fair is

But just now the most

the series of tableaux vivants presented to the public by

M.

Melchior Bonnefois.

M. Bonnefois
" Les
skilful

is

an

artist

and a
article

literary
in
I

man.

Last year

he published a very pathetic

the

Uniofi MtUuelle,

Drames de

la

Vie Foraine," and

have read some very


the small reviews

verses written by him for

some of

published in the South.

This man has

tastefully
girls,

grouped a limited number

of

models, youths and

who

are not only well trained in

their profession, but also good-looking.

Amongst them
J. P.

are
;

Suzanne
Arabclle,

Bertini, the

model from the studio of

Laurens
;

the

model from the Bouguereau studio


;

Jeanne

Laurence, the model from the Baudry studio

Antonio Vega,

from the Academy of Madrid;


favourite models from the

Rose Linon, one of the


;

Gervex studio

Berthe Bieville,

Permanent Shows or Entresorts.


Serge Worouzof, from the Academy of Moscow
chief, the star of the troupe, the beautiful

75

last

and

Mireille,
is

from the

Academy

of Marseilles.

This

little

Phocean

crowned with
Athene,

beautiful blue-black hair,

and has the

profile of Pallas

with

all

the Olympian coldness, the absence of expression,

and the gravity which distinguished the goddess.


Perhaps, since
it is

a question of perfection, her arms, like

her bust, are a litde thin, but Mireille's statuesque divinity


reappears in her legs from the hips to the
feet.

One

lady,

whose views upon questions of dress are extremely accurate, and in whose society I was lucky enough to witness this

76

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

artistic exhibition,

made an observation upon

Mdlle. Mireille's

attire

which

faithfully transmit to this pretty girl

and her

directors

directors of
figure,

conscience and others.


is

An

error on the part of the costumier

the cause of the

apparent want of harmony in the fine proportions of Mdlle.


Mireille's

giving undue importance to the legs.

scarf has

been draped across the hips


;

over the salmon-

coloured fleshings
is

it is

about the width of a bath-towel, and


that
its

so

inartistically

puffed

whiteness

destroys

the

harmony of the
short breeches
into a travesty.

outlines,

and by

its

vague resemblance
it

to the

worn with trunk

hose,

transforms a nude

Above

the trousers of the page one looks

for the shoulders of the

man, and because they are missing,

Mdlle. Mireille looks too thin.

What remedy
I

can be applied to this serious error which


?

spoils our pleasure

There

is

some

difficulty in the matter,

know, but
:

it

has been Irequently overcome with greater

skill

for instance,

by the

artist

who designed
Fall,

a costume for

Madame Theo,
approval of
all

as

Eve

before the

which won the

admirers of plastic beauty, without shocking


I

the susceptible.
to

shall

send a photograph of

Madame Theo
is

M. Bonnefois.
It is a

sad proof of our physical decadence that beauty


allied

no longer found

with

strength

the

two

qualities,

formerly blended like metals in an alloy, are


separated, and

now

entirely

M. Bonnefois and M.
of

Marseille each presides


attributes,

over representatives
united,

the

two

which,

when

produced the most perfect types of humanity.


beauty
is

At
is

M.

Bonnefois's establishment

cultivated without

strength,

and

at

M.

Marseille's entertainment, strength

Permanent Shows or Entresorts.


found without beauty.
painful thoughts

77
these

Yesterday
I

could not

stifle

when

took

my

seat

on the velvet benches

provided by the celebrated manager of the athletic show, to

watch a wrestling match.


Full of recollections of Plutarch, one

remembers
girls

that

in

the palestrea, Lycurgus

made

the

young

rub themselves

with

oil

and contend with the Spartan ephebes

the lines of

Theocritus on the fight

between Castor and


full

Pollux are

haunting the

lips

the eyes are

of visions of the beautiful

forms of the wrestlers of the tribune

the

young men of
enters

Cephissodote, so beautiful that they were taken for the sons

of Niobe,

of

whom

Apollo was jealous.

One

the

canvas booth, the movable temple of the heroic Hercules,


with a religious shiver, and, alas
!

what do you see

Stout,

78

Acrobats and Moimtebanks.

heavy men,

their

hair

shining

with

pomatum, with ab;

normally developed chests

this is

the glorious phalange

on the other hand, amateurs without either masks or black


coats, but

Lasage,

who are nearly all in men who have served

the service of the Compagnie


their time,

or porters in the

Great

Market.

No

well-bred figures,

no delicate limbs.
?

Compare

these bloated Vitelliuses to the gods

There,

my

good
work.

fellows,

go

home

to

your

lock-picking

and

your

Yet

remember one
at the fair at

tragic

anecdote
fifteen

of wrestling.

It

happened
had gone

Loges about

years ago.

We

into a booth to witness

a fight with single-sticks

between a fencing-master's
the proprietor of

assistant from St.

Germains and

The soldier and the mountebank evidently knew and disliked each other they were engaged for some time, and seemed less like holding a
the establishment.
;

"

Per7nanent Shows or Entresorts.

70

match than

settling a

quarrel

a good

many people had

followed the soldier into the booth.

The mountebank was


swinging himself to and
his head.

completely beaten.

He

foamed

at

the mouth, rolling his eyes terribly, whilst the fencing-master,


fro,

made

his cane

whistle above

When
"

the applause ended, the wrestler

demanded
a gipsy,

My

revenge

take a belt

"
!

A
"

woman

intervened

a
he

tall

dark

girl,

who had
full

juggled before us with weights and knives.

Do

not fight," she cried to the soldier in a voice


"

of

pain.

He

is

furious

will hurt
:

you

The mountebank sneered " Madame fears that I might break you Are you " man ? The soldier turned white. He was a tall lissom man, but
!

he did not look strong.

However, he quietly unbuttoned


belt.

the waistcoat that he had put on, and picked up the

The other waited, his arms crossed, a smile on his lips. They grasped each other, but the struggle did not long. The soldier was immediately thrown underneath
other
;

last

the

the

mountebank put one knee on


it

his neck, seized his

head with both hands, and turned


heard a crack.

completely round.

We

The

soldier

uttered a horrible

cry the
I

wrestler had broken his neck like a rabbit's back.

did not

want
itself

to see

any more and

rushed out, whilst the

crowd threw

upon the mountebank.


turn
in

But

in

the evening an acci-

dental

my
all

walk

brought

me

in

front

of

the

booth.

In the midst of

the gaiety, of songs, of meals in the

So
open

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

air,

of the illuminations and

noise of the shows,

the
in

wrestler's booth, silent

and closed, was the only dark spot

the
I

fair.

An

indistinct

form cowered on the wooden steps.


it.

went a

little

nearer to

It

was the
bitterly,

gipsy, the juggler

with weights.

She was sobbing

her head buried in

her apron

weeping

for the prisoner or for the dead.

'-^ -

in\f 7'

.-^--r^^^-WvP^

cfV:,o'|^T;

rr:''

CHAPTER

IV.

THE THEATRE BOOTH.

ALTHOUGH
secret,
it

an open

secret

is

now

called

Punch's

is

certain that the marionettes' theatre

and

the puppet dance are great mysteries in their way.

Very few people have ever penetrated behind


of these theatres.

the scenes

They
not a

are far better defended

than the

Opera, and

am

little

proud of having been admitted

one day

at

the Versailles Fair behind the curtain of the

Bermont Theatre during the performance of a grand drama,


in

one
I

act,

The Spanish Brigands.


brilliant oration

had been attracted by a very


all

from Punch,
G

detailing

the

amusements

to be found within.

82

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

" This, ladies

and gentlemen," he spluttered between


is

his

teeth in the usual way, " this

the real society and family


ar-

entertainment.

Everything
:

is

calculated, everything is

ranged, to please the eye


artists,

a review of the greatest Parisian

dances

in

character, Icarian

games held

in

honour

both by the Greeks and Romans, a Spanish bolero, Harlequin's celebrated


feats

on a

bicycle,

and, lastly, the

great

unpublished drama,
town, TAe Brigands

now performed

for the first

time in this

We

crowded

in,

about one hundred urchins, grandmothers,


in pleasant anticipation.

and nurses, eyes wide open

small Italian musician, his teeth gleaming like ivory from


the whole orchestra.

contact with hard crusts, formed

He

played the accordion on the front bench.

His melody ended,

some one rapped


First,

three times, the performance

commenced.
followed a

two Polish warriors entered and performed a military

dance, marking the time with their heels.

Then

couple of Spanish dancers,


pirouettes and pigeons'

who executed some wonderful flights. Then appeared the indiaand


finally

rubber man,

who

stretched and stretched himself,


his

bent himself

until

nose touched his heels, and then he

sneezed, a performance which convulsed the spectators with


delight.

He

was succeeded by a lawyer


himself,

in

a black dress,

who doubled

became

triple

and quadruple

naive

symbol of the

craftiness of his profession

then

played in

each of the four corners of the stage with his duplicates and

suddenly flew through the

frieze.

The curtain falls. From every bench


over
"
}

sorrowful

cry

is

heard,

" Is

it

The Theatre Booth,

83

No.

The second
!

part

is

going to begin.

Rap The
a
band.

rap

rap

curtain rises

upon a second

curtain,

which represents
This
is

forest,

a chief, two brigands, three acolytes.

the

The; Captain."
postillion

My
it."

friends,

have heard from the old


this

that a post-chaise will pass through

narrow

road.

The Band. " Yes, The Captain. You, Pedro, must guard
captain."
"
friends,

You must

stop

this defile.

We,

my

must away

to the mountains."

"

"

84

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

{The band disappears on the


remains alone for
07te

side

to

the

court.

Pedro
the

nwnient.

ni07ik

enters

from
"

garden

side.)

Pedro.

"

Halt there

The Monk.
Pedro.
in this

your money or your


brother,
I

life

" But,

my

am

as poor as

you

are.

Capuchins have no money."

"

purse

.'*

What are those twenty-five golden And the repeater that I see I

louis

see

{Pedro attempts
knees.)

to rob the m^onk.

The Capuchin falls on

his

The Monk.
Pedro.

"

Mercy

If

go home without

this

money

the superior will shut

me up in a dungeon." " " That's not my business The Monk. "At least fire into the folds

of

my
I

frock

without wounding
attacked."

me,

so

that

can

prove

that

was

Very {He fires) The Monk, springing Pedro, afid stabbing him dagger. Fool You missed me, but not
Pedro.
well.

tipon

with
miss

"

shall

you

{He disappears on
re-enter from the

the court side


side.

the captain

and

his

band

garden

A Brigand.
The
has killed him.

They pause before


"

the body of

Pedro)
is

Captain. " No,

The

coward, he

asleep !"

he

is

bathed in blood.

The monk

Let us pillage the monastery."


falls
;

1 he curtain
I

the

show

is

really over this time.

went behind the scenes

to ask the impresario

Bermont

for the

name

of the author of this fine historical drama.


myself," he

"

wrote

it

modesdy

replied.

"

have a book

The Theatre Booth.


of plays.
the

85

write

them

in

evenings,
to

when

they

occur
ideas,

me

recollections,

anything.

We

also

play

The

Passion,

The

of Saint Anthony^ Hell, and Genevieve


Temptation
de Brabant.

The book
repeat

is

very old, and has never been


printed.

We
over
I

it

through
again.

and

over

also

perform
or,

Camilla
the

Underground ;

Dangerous Forest.
in

But
the

once
*

that
rights
'

piece

author's

found
in,

pretext

for

coming

but

they did not recognize the


piece
all."
;

had

changed

it

His wife stood near him


whilst

he

spoke,

leaning
tenderly
to

on

his

shoulder,

proud

of
gifted

belonging
with so

man
If

much

imagination.

you should ever have


volumes

an
ing

opportunity of examinthe
large
in

which

the

Brothers

Parfaict,

the

Des

Boulmiers,

dc

86

Acrobats and Aloiintebanks.

Monnet, and

some other authors have


fair

scientifically dis-

cussed the origin of

theatres,

you

will

find that they

have been always forced to contend against that hereditary

enemy which
different ages.

the

impresario

Bermont

now

calls

the
in

" author's rights,"

and which has borne

different

names

At
that

the epoch
is

when

the fair theatres


1595,
it

first

attracted notice,

to say about

might have been justly styled


of the Passion

the " comedians' rights."

The brotherhood

and the actors of the Hotel de Bourgogne would not allow


any extension of
as
theatrical

performances by their
they
in

side,

and
rule

they

held

the

power

easily

obtained
to

which restricted the comedies


marionettes
of

fair

wooden

actors,

Brioche,

learned

animals,

acrobats,

and

juggling

tricks.

But the banqtdstes are a tenacious


in spite of the opposition

race,

and towards 1678,


fair

from the comedians, the

theatres

commenced
the

to

mount a few well-seasoned

farces with actors

of flesh and blood.

The head
law,
it,

of the police protested, and


to
restrict

managers once more pretended


the
limits of the

themselves

within

resorting

to

some ingenious
the artifice

infraction of the spirit of

which provoked laughter and


;

put the comedians

in

the

wrong

for instance,

used by

La

Grille,

who opened,
in

in the fair of Saint

Germaine,

an Opera de Ba7}iboche,

which the sole actor was a huge

marionette, that gesticulated to the melodies of an invisible

musician concealed in the prompter's box.

At

the

same time
Selle,

the companies of Allard, Maurice

and

Bertrand,
success
in

Dominique

and

Octave,

obtained

great

Paris

and the provinces.

Conjuring tricks and

The Theatre Booth.

89

There are three kinds of theatre booths


Singing theatres.

Theatres with good variety performances. Theatres with conjuring entertainments.

The
original

theatres with

operetta are the


in

least
for

amusing.

No

work has been produced

them
the

a long time,
the cafe

not even any


concerts

new

songs.

At

the present

moment

provide

the

majority of

tedious

repetitions
lives
its

which make the tour of France.

The forain opera


title.

by spurious imitations and clumsy changes of


skill
is

All

expended

in
It

successfully

defying

the

aforesaid

"author's rights."
it

succeeds to

its

own

satisfaction

when

advertises the

CLOCHES DE GORNEVTLLE
with
a large

G.

Its

inventive
letter.

power

is

limited

to

the

substitution of this

one

And

the

individuals

who
" trial

appear upon the stages of the booths to sing the


d'operette " are also the refuse of the cafd concerts.

They
For
in

can only impose upon an unsophisticated audience.


this

reason the forain opera


fairs

is

no

longer
cities.

found
It is

the

suburban

of Paris or other large

confined

to country fairs

and provincial

festivities.

But the variety houses are on quite a


most flourishing and the best known

different scale.

The

at the present time are

the establishments kept by Marquette and Emile Cocherie,

who

styles himself

on

his

programmes, " Head of the fetes


of each campaign, that
is

of Paris."

At the commencement
in his
villa

to say before the Fair

du Trone, Emile Cocherie gives an


Porte de Montrouge to
all

audience

at the

the

90

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

artists

who

aspire to enter his troupe.


all

In his presence the


i.e.

candidates must

Jonent

le

canevas,

improvise a scene

^
-;,
I

with dialogue upon a given subject.

The same

old themes

are used which have served ever since the origin of the open-

The Theatre Booth.

91

air

stage

all

the situations of the Italian comedies and Gallic


in

farces

which amused the crowd even

the

time of the

escholiers.

few " patterers "

new topic is not prohibited, but there are very who can speak outside as we/l as inside, as
actors

the terms of the engagements run.

who can improve the performance receive extra salaries. The illustrious Clam, who is called the last of the merry -andrews^ earned as much as five hundred francs a month at the forain theatres. I asked M. Cocherie, who was left inconsolable by the departure of this whimsical performer, why he did not try to replace him by some young student of comedy who had passed creditably through the
Still

clever

Conservatoire,

"He
"
I

would not

suit

me," replied the experienced manager.


still

have

tried them,

and

have one

in

my

show, but he

does not succeed.

The

lads

have not

effective voices, they


gift for

are not merry and, above


visation.

all,

they have no

improwell,
line

commercial traveller who can push a sale


street,

hawker from the

would be much more

in

my

than

M. Coquelin
it

at^te."

And

is

quite true, this


to

Clam

is

a splendid clown,

do not recommend you

make

his

acquaintance in the

Clamiana, a collection of jokes which seem very dull when they are read, printed with old type in a small newspaper.

Clam should be heard


with his butt.
I

outside the

show

in

the tumult of

smacks and kicks which accompanies

his improvised dialogue

begged
his
life,

this

important personage to give


I

me

a few notes

on
me.

and

now

publish

them

as they were given to

The

last

of the red-tails belongs to literary history.

92

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

"At noon, on the 5th June, 1837, a baby uttered its first cry. The son of the actor Chanet entered the world in the
native place of Casimir Delavigne
!

Brought up

in

more

than poverty and naturally delicate,


in

my
the

childhood was passed

an

asylum

at

Havre, about

time
;

of

the
on,
I

great
sold

cholera

epidemic, which spared

my

life

later

The Theatre Booth.


checks at the theatre door, and considered myself lucky
I

93

if

occasionally
"

managed

to see

one

act.

My

only recreation was reading plays and acting them


little

in

a footwarmer by means of
class.

dolls.

was the most


all
I

ignorant of the Brothers'

In spite of

became

errand boy and lithographer.

"In 1853

made my

ddbut as a comic singer


in

in

the

Theatre des Families, established

an old prison.

Some

time afterwards

tired of shining in the carnaval

fetes of the period and returned to

Havre

as a chorus-singer,

under the direction of M. Defossez.


"
I

sang

in choruses

and made

floats.

Some

years later

returned to the same theatre and gave some performances.


"

But

in spite
ill,

of this success Paris has seen


;

me

almost

barefooted,

and homeless

my

food gathered from the


the Fontaine des

scraps found under the umbrellas round Innocents.

My

mother was poor and could not help me,


part
I

and

for

my own

would not

tell

her of

my

distress,

wishing to spare her

tears.

By

dint of struggles

and of

94

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

work

distinguished myself as an actor at Nancy, Limoges,

Bordeaux,

Toulouse,

Havre,

Rouen,

Besan9on,

Geneva,

Nantes, Paris, &c.


*'

have acted with Henry Monnier,

my

master, Scriva-

neck, Vieuxtemps, Hoffman, Darcier, and Renard.


stances

Circumin

have

forced

me

to

give

performances
I

every

description of city and small town.

have played
Rothschilds'
railway,

in stables

and

theatres,
;

in

barns,

and

in
foot,

the

drawingin
carts.

rooms
I

have travelled on

by

and

journeyed through one part of France with some acrobats,

with
I

whom
I

saw

it

through

many
and

colours and on the road

collected

some

instructive

still

unpublished notes, of

which
"
I

am

the sole owner.


diaries

My

travelling

are

all

my

fortune.

Afterwards

went

to the cafd concert with

the remnant of
in

my
a

voice,
I

and was successively engaged

various

large

cities.
little

know some
Switzerland

parts

of

Holland

and Germany,
deal
I

of

and Prussia, a
Italy

great

of

Belgium,

and
best

something of
of
all.
*'

and Spain.

But

know Bohemia

Like the

late

Bilboquet,

have tampered with every


this
life
;

banque except the


prevent

Banque de France, but

does

not

me
that

from living a quiet, unobtrusive

my

only

wish

is

no one should annoy and

me

(this is

very

difficult

to get), to live a long time

to die without pain.

"

add

for the edification of the reader that

my

sons bear

my

name, an item which

my

father forgot to bestow

upon me

(he was so heedless)."

Clam, who

as
to

you may judge from


noticed
in

this

narrative

has

some

claim

be

any complete anthology of

The
French writers But
his

Theati'e Booth.

95

in

prose, has " teased the

muse
his

"

at times.

poems echo the prevaiHng note of

century
these

they are cynical and melancholy.

You may judge by

three verses on the death of a comrade in the show.

Clam

dedicated them to
*'

me
est morte, la cabotine,

EUe

Sans avoir essuye son blanc,

la bouche une cavatine, Son bouquet de fleurs sur

le

flanc.

Dans

sa " caravane,"

on

la

garde

Entre un cierge

et des litres

bus

Sa mere

I'habille
elle

et la farde

Comme

fait

pour ses debuts.

Elle attend qu'on leve la trappe

Et qu'on frappe au rideau trois coups, Helas on les frappe, Elle attend
.

Mais

c'est sur

des tetes de clous."

man who

has so

about the future.

many strings to his bow is not anxious One day when I hinted before Clam that
it,

old age might surprise him, without any provision for


replied
:

he

"When

am
1

no good

for

anything else

my

friends will

"She

is

dead, the

mummer

gay,

With the powder on her On her lips a merry lay,


Flowers nestling in her
*'

face,

lace.

caravan " she lies In her 'Twixt empty bottles and wax lights, Her mother decks her, rouge applies,

As though

it

were for her

first

nights.'

She waits, until they raise the trap. Three knocks, the rising curtain hails, I hear them tap, alas She waits But 'tis upon the heads of nails."
.

gS

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

make
and
yet.
I

a politician of me.
shall

But

have

still

some chest

left,

put off the death of the show for

many
kind

years

The
have

improvements,
destroyed
the

the

tricks

of

every

which
the

"outside
inside

shows," have
booths,

enriched

entertainments given
successfully

the

and

have

most
like

transformed
in

the

conjuring performances
Delille

those

found

the establishments of Adrian

and

Pietro Gallici.

Since Delille bought the theatre and tricks of Laroche he


is

the king of

tive of the

conjurer to

He is third representashowmen conjurers. name. The first Adrian, the grandfather, was King Charles X., and, since that remote date, at
making omelettes
in hats,

every
the

fair

held in Paris or any large town, a magician bearing


of Delille has been seen
balls, &c.,

name

juggling with
sleeves,

without the aid of pointed hat, long

wand, or

cabalistic

words

modern

sorcerer

in

evening dress and lavender kid gloves.


introduced
the
trick

of the

The Speaking Head


who
infringed

Delilles first into

France.

They bought
won
since

the patent for 4,000 francs, never hesitated to


it,

bring a lawsuit against any one


their case.

and always

The

science
date.

of

white magic

that

There are

made great progress always some means of imhas


Delille

proving an old
his six

trick,

and every year Adrian

spends

months of enforced

rest in preparing for the

summer
month
must

season.

Like

all

his comrades,

he disbands his troupe


his

in the

of November, and takes up

winter quarters in Paris,


to

where he has a study devoted

experiments.

He

The Theatre Booth.

97

be ready to renew the campaign at Easter, to astonish the


Parisians at the Fair du Trone.

In his youth the conjurer

worked almost

alone,

and

for

hours he would keep the public

breathless with interest and wonder.

For

this

he required

great facility of speech, a mind always on the

alert,

and the

98

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

skill

to

draw the eyes of the spectators

In

any direction he
Conjuring

wished
implies

away from
a constant
"

his

secret

manipulations.

struggle against the malicious curiosity


I

of the audience.

am

not strong enough now," Delille

observed

to me, " to bear the strain during a succession of

tricks

was obliged

to divide the performance.

Besides,

now, the public

like that best."


It is

The
large

troupe consists of forty persons.

little difficult

to realize the size of the establishment required to

work these
Delille
for

show-theatres.

booth
it

like
is

that of Adrian

can seat 1,200 people, and

always crowded

the

Sunday performances.

They

cost an average of

400 francs

^?\-<vl \)\'^!/

,,-<^'-~,

f_i

V...S^>i:v.^<:^-

m
{WS)
,'/'//!:i^
I

"c-/

;'

'HI

li

-=m^] if

1/

\
\

''
'

ICO

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

per diem, for the principal performers receive high salaries.

Clowns, acrobats, buffoons, and equilibrists,

all

these artists

and they are the same who appear


circuses

in the

hippodrome and

are
are
at

engaged through the agencies.


for

The engagethey can

ments

concluded
the

one
a

month, but
at

be
the

cancelled
proprietor.

end

of

week

the

wish

of

good clown, a

skilful

gymnast, can earn

in

a forain

theatre like that of Delille as

much

as at the circus

about

2,000 francs per month.

The
500

dancers employed to pose in the tableaux' vivants are


skill

paid according to their beauty and


francs per month.
still

180,

240, or even

Delille paid a
lately

higher
as the

sum
two

to the
little

two pretty
combatants

girls
in

who

posed

for

him

Emile

Bayard's picture
It

An Affair of Honour.
woman
to tell
I

would be quite as indiscreet to ask a conjurer to explain

his tricks, as a pretty for

you what scent she uses

her

toilet,

and therefore

have never discussed the


is

subject.
difficult

The
to

exclusive ownership of a conjuring trick


in

defend

law,

and

for

this reason prestidigi-

tators

are

always on their guard

against the indiscretion

of their workpeople.

They have been betrayed

a hundred

times for a bottle of wine and a few banknotes, and now,

taught by misfortune, they surround their experiments with


as

much mystery

as the old Egyptian priests used in their


I sis.

worship of the veiled


this

After

all,

our pleasure
it

lies

in

mystery only.
said

"

These phantasmagorias,"
our contemporaries,
has
led
to

has been
a
taste
in

well
for

by

one

of

whom

philosophic

acrobatics

esteem acrobats

The Theatre Booth.


fleshings, " these phantasmagorias
other

lOI

please

us

like

every

phenomena which seems

to contradict the

universal

order of things, to counteract

the

laws of

nature.

The

-$v-.

universe

being what

it it

is,

we have no
is

other

consolation
is

than the dream that


essence of poetry.
action."
^

is

otherwise, and this


lyrical

the true
fable
in

Conjuring

poetry

Jules Lemaitre, Impressions de Theatre, Second Series.

I02

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

The

time has passed

when

conjurers were forced to ascend

a woodpile and worthy folk clung to the honour of bringing a


faggot to roast them with.

Every one knows

that there

is

nothing supernatural in the illusions they create.


explanation
is

Usually the
in

one of the most simple things


it

the world,

but our search for

is

nearly always unsuccessful, yet whilst

we persevere
There

in

it

we cannot be

bored, and this

is

really the

only aim in view.


is

one conjurer more modern than

Delille,

more
This

ingenious than Robert Houdin,

who

has carried the art of

white magic to a state of perfection


is

unknown
sheet

before.

M. de

Kolta.

This extraordinary
it

man

takes

of

paper,

rolls

up like a cornucopia, and from this horn of plenty he immediately pours an avalanche of roses into a crystal
cup.

The Theatre Booth.

103

The spectator is bewildered. " Where do these roses come from


they

"

he asks.
in

Apparently
waistcoat

had

been

in

some way concealed

the

^y...

of

the
?

thaumaturgist

but
?

how

did

they

get

into

the

horn

what pushed them


?

what secret spring made them

flow forth

I04.

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

We

must own that no one knows.


his

M. de Kolta then removes


containing a Hve

coat and

takes a

cage

bird into his hands.

One, two, three


nothing
is

The cage and


clever ones will

the bird are gone


tell

left

The
;

gravely

you that the cage was jointed


it

by

pressing
itself.

some

secret spring
it

unjoints, closes or elongates

Most probably

assumes the shape of a narrow


is

cylinder, in

the midst of which the bird

imprisoned but

not hurt.

That
cylinder
?

is

all

very

well,

but

what becomes
;

of

the

The magician

has no accomplice
the

he performs
It

the trick alone, before the eyes of

public.

seems

impossible that any


gaze.
Lastly,

movement
is

could escape that

watchful

M. de Kolta
causes a

not satisfied with making a bird


to vanish

disappear, he

woman

his wife, so they

say

and although he chose one so

frail,

so tiny, so nearly

related to the elves, that she looks as

though she might run

across a
is

meadow without bending a blade of grass, still she woman of flesh and blood, who could not be forced into
Kolta,

the sheath of a sword.

M. de

who

is

cleverer

than you

are,

spreads a

newspaper upon the

floor

and places a chair on the paper.


the
chair,

Madame
veil
;

de Kolta seats herself upon


little

and her

husband covers the

parcel of lace with a red and black

then rapidly takes the veil off again.


!

1 he woman has gone


Evidently the
whilst she

woman
intact,

disappeared through a trap


it,

but yet,

went through
is
still

the veil never moved, and the


it

newspaper

though

is

much

larger than the

The Theatre Booth.


edges of the
of such an

105

veil.

We

feel humiliated at

being the victims

illusion,

although

we were
we

forewarned.
is,

And we
in

ask ourselves with some alarm, what


the feeble organs of knowledge
call

then, the value of

our senses,

which

we

so blindly place our trust

But through

this uneasiness, this distrust of this

our judgment,

which conjuring leaves,


lent school of wisdom.

entertainment becomes an excelbelieve

You may
"

M.

Jules Lemaitre

on

this point, for

he

first

discovered the philosophical side of


Kolta," he said,
" should

these performances.

M. de

be

a happy man.

He

is

a true sorcerer.

He
see,

forces us to see

with our eyes things which


things

we cannot
this
is

and not

to see

which we do
skill

see,

and

solely

through the
I

marvellous

of his agile fingers.

In his place,

would
would

go

to

the mysterious and credulous East, where

found a new religion based upon miracles.


provide a
distant

M. Renan would
miracles.

dogma

suited to the requirements of those far-

souls,

and M. de Kolta would work the


his
life,

He
god,

would be a prophet during


after
his

a saint, perhaps a
sprrowful
reflection

death.

But one

tempers the pleasure which

this idea gives

me.

The

miracles

worked by M. de Kolta are


do not believe
in

practically injurious.

Since

we

the

false

miracles

he

performs

since
."*

nothing distinguishes them from real ones, and


the magician's word to assure us they are

we have only
what, then,

false,

should

we do

if

real miracles

were worked
all

in
;

our presence
it's

We
may

should say,
!

We

know

about them

only con-

juring

And

thus the small remnant of


is

faith

which we

still

retain in the supernatural

insidiously destroyed.

io6

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

When

the prophet Elijah returns to

earth at
;

the end of
will

time he will meet other

De

Koltas here

he

himself
that

be sent to the Eden or to the Folies Bergeres.


is

And

how

the last

men

will

lose their souls

^just

like the first,

however."

>^'-!3.

THE TRAINERS.

is

difficult to

see

how man
if

would have fared


him.

he had

not compelled the animals to serve

The
the

science of animal-training
earliest

must therefore date


world's
traifiing

back to

stages
that
in

of

the

history
is

and

we
old.

almost as

may The

believe

artistic

dwellers

caves

had

not yet invented the

game

of fox and geese, and they must

have found some


winter evenings
;

difficulty in

amusing themselves
and showing

in

the long

they therefore probably taught their


off.

dumb

companions the

art of leaping

Now

that animal-training has

become a

lucrative profession,

competition has forced the trainers to rival each other, and


their skill has obtained wonderful results.

All the inmates

of Noah's
insects to

Ark have passed under the whip, from minute Jumbo himself Men have tamed serpents, birds,
monkeys,
seals,

cats, dogs, goats,

and

pigs.

In their desire

to grasp

and conquer increasing

difficulties,

they have even

io8

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

taken the
bridled
carriage.

fleas

from the animals they were training, have


themselves,

the

fleas

and taught them


Virgil's lines

to

draw a
stallion

Do

you remember

upon a

for the first time subject to the

yoke

The

poet dwells with

rapture upon the vigorous bounds which wrench the plough

from the furrows.


of a
flea,
its

What would he have


.-^

said of the spring

which, at liberty, jumps one hundred and forty


height
to

times
If

own

you wish

know

all

the mysteries of animal-training,


little

an

art

based upon definite rules which vary very

in
I

their application to the instincts of

the different pupils,


will surprise you.

recommend you

to read a

book which
J.

It

was written by Professor G.

Romanes, secretary of the

London Zoological Linnean


called the Intelligence

Society, and has been translated


It

into French for the " International Scientific Library."


is

of Animals.
refers

You need
to

only glance
of

at

the

first

volume,

which

the

intelligence

molluscs, ants,

termites,

white ants, spiders, scorpions, and

the lower articulated

animals.

But you should carefully

study the chapters

in

the second volume devoted to birds,


I

the cat, dog, baboons, and elephant.

fancy that

if

any of

you are partisans of the Cartesian doctrine, and hitherto only


regarded animals as clocks with better regulated machinery
than our own, you will leave off reading considerably shaken
in

your assurance.

The

saltimbanque,

who
is

is

not a creator of systems a priori,

but whose philosophy

purely experimental, has, for a long

time, observed the regularity with

which animals follow the

same

habits.

Upon

this

observation he has based his method

of training them.

The Trainers.

109

Whatever the animal may be which he wishes commences by watching it closely, endeavouring
not only
disposition

to train, he

to discover

the

usual

habits

of

the
in

race,

but the personal

of the individual

question.
legs,

One specimen
is

raises itself naturally

upon
.
.

its

hind
this

another

born with
in

a talent for jumping

And

axiom prevails

every

case under training


at the

"

Animals are never forced

to execute,

command and

will of others,

any movements which are

not natural to them in a free state."


in the tropical creepers
:

Monkeys

love to swing

they are placed on a trapeze ; a goat


is

seeks for pointed rocks

he

a natural equilibrist

so he
;

is

taught to balance himself on the neck of a bottle


instinctively rises

dog

on

his hind legs to seize a morsel of sugar

held out to him.

He

must learn

to maintain himself in the

same

position.

lO

Aci'obats a7id Mountebanks.

Guided by these remarks, a

trainer enters

upon

his task.

He

will attain his

end

if

he judiciously uses the

triple forces

of fear, greediness, and habit.

The

first

time that you

make
its

a dog stand on

its

hind legs

you have

to

contend with the indolence which makes the


usual
position.

animal wish to revert to

Practise

the

The Trainers.

lesson every day, and each time reward the pupil with a lump of sugar. An association of ideas will be soon formed
in the dog's
its

mind

the disagreeable sensation of lualking on


in its

hind

legs will

be inseparably linked

memory

with

the pleasure of crunching sugar.


repetition

And

since the frequent

of

the

same movement

lessens
will

the

fatigue

of

maintaining a vertical position, the dog

at last willingly

perform the
hand,
it

feat

which

it

at

first

disliked.
is

On

the other

must be remembered that the whip

always ready
will readily

to punish

any obstinacy or awkwardness, and you


itself in

understand that a poodle, finding


either walking

the dilemma of

upon

its

hind legs and receiving a dainty, or

of not walking and receiving a blow, at once chooses the


polka.

And

here, in

its

simplicity, lies the

whole secret of training

animals.

Patience and regularity from the man, habit and

greediness in the animal.

There

is

no other talisman.
;

You
it is

have

all

seen a pigeon-charmer on foot or on horseback

112

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

one of the
is

prettiest

performances exhibited.
full

young woman
;

carried round the arena at

gallop

by her steed she

raises
off

herself or crouches

down

in graceful attitudes

which show
like

the suppleness of her

figure.

Behind
flight

her,

mantle

streaming

in the wind, the

white

of pigeons follows her

movements.
of their
in the

They alight on the arms, neck, and shoulders mistress, who recalls one of the young priestesses
lips

groves of Gnide, offering her rosy

and

soft

white

throat to the caresses of her doves.

Now
It is

would you

like

to

know

the secret of her charm

explained in an amusing vaudeville of the old style

Le

Sourd, ou r Auberge pleine.


"

Would you
infallible

like,"

one of the characters


"

in

this farce

remarks to his companion,


an

Would you
?

like

me

to tell

you

method of catching birds


Put

Well then,

listen
little

You must
birds will
little

strew some corn on your window-sill


eat
it.

the

come and

it

there a second time

the
.

birds will

come

again.

On

the eighth day you need


.
.

not put any.

The

birds will

come open mouthed

and

they will be caught."

This

is

the

whole secret of the pigeon-charmer.


in

For

seven days she strewed corn

the

folds

of her

mantle.

The

eighth day the pigeons were charmed.


is

This

an almost mechanical movement

the certainty of

success arises from the strength of instinct and the weakness

of intelligence.

With
are

superior animals like the dog, the chances of failure


;

much more numerous

but the same individual

intel-

ligence which

renders obedience more doubtful, authorizes

the trainer to exact an effort that surpasses intelligence from

PIGEON TAMER.

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

with such a wonderful spring that the greyhounds refused to


follow him, and
to prevent
it

was necessary

to catch

him on a mattress

him from breaking


his

his paws.
in

Some months
still

later

he broke

back

in

London

more dangerous
for,

performance.
could be done
howls.
to
I

The
;

best doctors were sent

but nothing

he died after a short struggle of sobs and


master some months afterwards, and spoke

met

his

him about

his loss.

He

still

wept when he mentioned the


words reawakened a

poor clown,
I

whom
all

he had cherished with human friendship.


his

listened to

regrets,

and

his

sympathetic pang in

my own

heart.

My

lost

favourite
clever,

a
for

black poodle

was

called

Miette.

She was not


her hind
lived

she never even learnt to stand on


other.

legs,

but

we loved each

At

that time

on the banks of the Marne, between

Nogent and

Joinville-le-Pont,

a terribly deserted and solitary district in


I

winter.

If

Miette found that

did not return

home by

the

last train,

she would break her chain and go and wait for

me
full

near Reuilly, in the moats of Vincennes.

She wished

to

escort

me

through the woods, which, she


peril.

felt,

were by night
she was

of possible attacks and hidden

One day

bitten

by a mad dog.

did not suspect the nature of the


to

illness that followed,

and endeavoured

open her mouth and


at

give her some

medicine.

She looked

me

with

mad,

supplicating eyes, seeming to say, "


I

Leave me,
I

my

master,
the

do not want
I

to bite you."

When
the

knew what was


of
killing her
it

matter,

would not leave


surgeon,
I

task

to

veterinary

who might have done

awkwardly
Vincennes
fine, silent.

perhaps.

led her into a thicket in that forest of

which we had so frequently crossed together on

The Trainers.

Ji5

frosty

nights,

lighted

only

by

the

brilliance of

the stars.

My

heart ached with the agony of a

man

about to commit a
a
2

crime,

who

has led his friend into the corner of


I

wood

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

intending

to

perpetrate

cowardly murder.
die.
I

But
lie

it

was

necessary that she should

made her

down, put

my
me
I

revolver to her

ear,
!

and

fired.

Oh,

my

poor Miette

the long reproachful look you gave

ere your eyes closed for ever


laid

your loving,
in

childlike eyes
I

dug a hole and gently

you

the grave.

took off

your collar

it

still

lies
it

in the

drawer of
I

my

writing-table,

my

hand often touches

when

turn over the confusion of

papers.

The

little

curb rings like halfpence in a purse.

And
;

then
I

fancy that

my

poor Miette

is

moving round me
;

that

hear her clumsy gallop on the wooden staircase


will

that in a

moment she
Is

be scratching
world,
?
I I
it.

at the door.

there

better

paradise

for

these
I

faithful

.servants of

mankind

dare not assert that

believe so,

and

yet, in

Dauphine,

once knew a dog who certainly

cherished the hope of

He

was a small curious-looking

yellow mastiff, a dog of a divine race which the

Emperor of

China had given as a choice present

to a

French diplomat.

He
and

resembled a beast

in heraldry,

or one of those strange

monsters that we see writhing and baying on painted vases


reliefs in

bronze.

Transported into France, the Chinese


for ten leagues round,

had crossed with every breed of dogs

and had created a race of fantastic-looking animals which

showed the curious type of the


variation of the canine form.

father

blended with every


his
life,

Towards the end of

when

made

his acquaintance,

he had become a dreamer.

He

spent whole days with his head resting upon his paws,

his eyes fixed, lost in his recollections.

we went

out upon a terrace to enjoy

One autumn evening the brilliant night we


; ;

found him immovable upon a flagstone

his

head was raised

"

The Trainers.

T17

towards the sky, his eyes, shining like carbuncles, seemed to pierce the heavens, gazing upon a definite point beyond.

His master was puzzled, and called him three times


*'

Kiang

Kiang

Kiang

But he remained motionless,


far

like a

bronze chimera, soaring

above us
the

in his ecstasy.
in his kennel.

On

morrow he was found dead

have often thought since that he had some presentiment

of his approaching death,

and that he heard the distant

baying of

Sirius's

hounds

of those
all

dogs, sons of heaven,


eternity assuage their

who hunt

the Bear, and through

divine thirst in the fountains of the Milky

Way.

Although the grimaces of the monkey may be amusing,


the dog's capacity for affection has

won

a higher place in

my

esteem.
its

am wrong
its

for if a

poodle be very near to us by

heart and
to

delicacy of feeling, a
its

monkey

is

more

closely

akin

humanity through

gestures and form.

Darwin

has written very cleverly on this subject.


years old,

baby of four

whom

took to the Corvi Theatre the other day,

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

and who had not read Darwin, cried


cook appeared
"
:

out,

when

the dishonest

Look
all

It's

a Httle negro

"
!

You
Orgie
biscuits

know

the popular performance

of

Tke Roman
with

by Couture.
and
nuts,
is

Behind
a

table

well

provided

company of baboons, ourang-outangs,

and brown monks


generals,

seated.

They
In

are dressed like Peruvian


into his collar.

and each has a napkin tucked

poor
with

little

monkey, tricked out

a town-crier's old clothes,

a white cap and apron,


table.

waits

upon

his

comrades,

gambolling round the


lighted candle
;

In his right hand he holds a

in the left a basket,

which he dances by
It

Its

handle.

Ah

yes, that

head cook

he dances

by the handle

morally and materially.^


visions on the sly,
Is

You

see,

he

Is

weighing his pro-

and seizing a mouthful whenever M. Corvl

not looking.

The same
father.

entertainment

has gone on

ever

since

our

childhood, and since the infancy of your father and grand-

And, as
is

it

would be

difficult to

believe that the head


that

cook

a sexagenarian,

we must conclude

a whole

generation of actors have worn the apron and carried the


candle without our remarking any change.

To
"

satisfy

myself on this point,

questioned

M. Corvl
permanent

himself on the subject.

My

show," he kindly answered, "

Is

really a

entertainment.
goats,

As
staff,

it

entirely consists of scenes in which


actors,
I

monkeys, poodles, and ponies are the sole

keep a reserve
To "dance

behind the scenes, of understudies of

'

the basket"

is

the French idiom for the pilfering of the cook.

The Tramers.

119

every
will

part.

In the

pantomime

called

The Deserter, you

no longer
I

find one single artist belonging to the original

caste.

have already replaced the judge, the gendarmes, the

I20

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

prisoner,

and the gravediggers, just as consumption or gout

made

vacancies in

my

troupe.
is

The

actors pass, the playIf


I

remains.

No

one here

absolutely necessary.

lost

my
for

first

leading gentleman to-morrow

he

is

a baboon

named Coquelin aind


one single day.
study

the play would not be interrupted

We

should replace him by his under-

she

is

called Coquelin cadet

and

neither the nurses

nor the babies,

who

are our subscribers for Tuesdays, would

ever discover the change of performer."

M. Corvi

is

one of the

last

representatives of

the old-

fashioned trainers,
like

M. Loyal,

who wore evening dress or when they exhibited their pupils


and
is

a frock-coat,
in the arena.

Modern

trainers prefer a clown's dress,

their intentionally

grotesque appearance

very effective when accompanied by

ridiculous animals like the pig

and the donkey.

The

terrible

Onos, compared by
is

Homer

to

the

divine

now drawn by the ears into the arena by a clown. Perhaps you already know that the male ass is a dangerous animal. He may be chosen from a small
Ajax, the ass himself,
race, but his bite will
halter,
still

be formidable, and therefore the


his head,
is

which only seems to decorate

really a

strong muzzle, and his hoofs are never shod.

In spite of

these precautions the clown must be very agile to evade the

kicks showered

full

at his chest,

and must be

careful not to

miss his spring over the bench


at

when Master Aliboron charges


rushing at a picador.

him across the arena

like a bull

The appearance even


ing the crowd, and

of the pig has the


resist
:

power of

delight-

who can
!

laughing when the clown

approaches his pupil and shouts


"

Come

here, pig

"'

The Trainers.
"

121

Eh

? "

asks

M.

Loyal.
'

" I'm not talking to you."

Although the training of the pig may

still

seem

imperfect,

the education of this animal requires extreme patience from


its

teacher.

An

Irish

proverb quoted to

me

by

Billy

Hayden

says:

" Beat your wife with

a cudgel and your pig

with a straw."
truly,

And,

the pig's bristis

ling skin
tive

so sensi-

that

the
the

least

touch
covers
ters,

of
it

whip
blis-

with

and disgusts the

animal with

all

work

for ever.

Only coaxing and kindness

must be used.

The

elephant

is,

perhaps, the only beast yet stricter than

the pig in regard to politeness.

122

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

This animal, which the trainer Corradini


drome, and
the

at

the Hippo-

brothers

Lockhart

in

most places have


all

exhibited with so

much

success,

possesses

the passions

and
I

all

the feelings of man.

quite agree with you that

some of

the stories quoted to


I

us about elephants require confirmation, and

always

feel

some
{De

distrust

in

reading the anecdote, related by Plutarch


cap.
xii.),

Solert.

Anim.

of an elephant which had been

punished for dancing badly, and was afterwards discovered


practising
its
is

steps alone in the moonlight.


scientific

But there
elephant, of
Griffiths,

evidence of the magnanimity of the


self-respect.

its

deep sense of duty and


faith

whose good

cannot be doubted, quotes one

very characteristic incident proving this self-respect.


siege of Bhurtpore, after the English had been

At the
for

encamped

some time before the


and soon evaporated
this

walls of the city, the dry winds set in


all

the water in the reserved ponds

led

to

great

competition

round

the

last

well

which

contained any.

One day two


;

drivers were at the edge of

the well with their elephants of remarkable


size,

one of the beasts, which was

seeing

its

companion use a
it

pail to

draw

up the water,

forcibly

wrenched

away.

Whilst the two

keepers were joking, the victim, though conscious of the


injury,

restrained

its

resentment.

But when the


throwing

thief bent

over the edge of the well to reach the water, the smaller
elephant

made

a terrible spring, and


its

itself

with

lowered head upon

enemy, sent

it

rolling into the cistern.


is

This pride, when once overcome,


the trainer,

of great assistance to

but

it

sometimes produces a tragedy.

When

elephants are tamed, the presence of the monitor elephants

The

Traifters.

123

can usually be dispensed with at the end of two months, and the prisoner is afterwards ridden by its keeper. At the end

of three or four months


there
is

it

is

sufficiently docile to
it

work, but
too

some danger
it

in

subjecting

to

this

ordeal

abruptly, for

frequently happens that an adult and perfectly

124

Acrobats and Motmtebanks.

healthy elephant will

lie

harness for the


of a broken

first
;

time.
in

down and die after it has worn The natives then say that it died
case,

heart

any

the

death

is

not caused
loc.
cit.

by either
p.

illness

or

wounds.

(Sir

E.

Tennent,

216.)
I

have also

found,

amongst the Memoirs of the


and

actor,

Charles Young, published by his son, the Rev. Julius Young,

an anecdote which well


sensibility of these

illustrates the sagacity

affectionate

huge pachyderms.
the arrival in England of

The newspapers had announced


the manager of Covent

the largest elephant that had ever been seen.

Henry

Harris,

Garden Theatre,

at

once purchased
exhibition
in

Chung

that

was the animal's name


entitled

for

pantomime

Harlequin,

which

he

had

mounted

very expensively.

Harris paid 900 guineas for the beast.


it,

Mrs. Henry Johnston was to ride


to act as columbine.

and Miss Parker was


rehearsal,

But

at the

general

when

Chung reached
to cross,

a bridge over a cascade which he was expected


to step

he refused

upon

it,

distrusting

its

solidity,

and not without reason.

In vain the angry keeper punished


iron goad.

him by pricking him behind the ear with an


lowered eyes and pendent
ears, the

With
in

enormous animal stood

a pool of blood, motionless as a wall.

The
came

captain of the vessel which had brought

Chung
it

over,

in

during the contest between the


beast,

man and

the elephant.

He

had become fond of the

and often fed


its

with
friend

dainties.

The
in its

animal had scarcely recognized


air,

when
his

it

approached him with a supplicating


trunk and placed
it

gently took

hand

in the

bleeding wound,

then held the hand up to the captain's eyes.

The

gesture

"

126

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

said
suffer

as
!

clearly as

words

"

See how they have made me

Poor Chung appeared so unhappy that every one was


touched, even the
cruel keeper.

To

win pardon the

man

ran out and


elephant.
captain,

bought some apples, which he offered to the

But Chung disdainfully threw them away.


also fetched

The
it

who had

some

fruit

from Covent Garden


out
it,

Market, came back immediately afterwards and held


to

Chung.

He

willingly accepted

it,

and

after eating

coiled his trunk gently

round his protector's waist.

Since no one has yet succeeded in exhibiting a learned


whale, the elephant
is

the largest animal that has been taught

obedience to man.

Chung's adventures would therefore seem

a fitting close to this

monograph on

training.

Yet

wish to crown this chapter by an account of the

training of an animal of very different size

the

cat.
it

And
chosen

although this sequence


for at least

may seem
;

curious to you,

is

two reasons
is

first,

that the appearance of a trained


;

domestic cat

the latest achievement of the trainer's art


I

and secondly, that


the cat
fact,
is

am

not sure whether the conquest of

a triumph of training or of taming.

There

is,

in

as

much ground
it

for regarding the cat as a wild beast, as

for considering

a domestic animal.
believed,

Hitherto

we have

on the authority of M. de
that
it

Buffon, the systematic detractor of the cat,

was an
it

untamable animal.

The

great naturalist states that "


its idle,

will

not allow any one to influence

thieving instincts."

The

cat has waited for nearly a century, but at last this


;

slander can be refuted

its

falsehood

is

clearly proved.
in a

Nearly twenty years ago a child was born

Dutch

The Trainers.
village,

127

who, from an early age, showed unusual


the youth was

skill

in

taming and training animals.

When

seventeenhis name
rabbits,

is

Bonnetty
pigs, into

he introduced learned

hares,

and guinea

the arena, so wonderfully trained that even the Dutch,

who

are

not,

as

rule,

easy to move,

were much astonished.

However Bonnetty was

not going to stop yet.


feat,

Tempted by

the great difficulty of the

he determined to prove that

M. de Buffon was unjust

to the cat,

and with rare patience

he devoted himself to the education of that animal.

He

chose two subjects, both Dutch, like himself, cats from

Hooren

M.

Bonnetty had remarked,

after

much

observa-

128

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

tlon, that the cats

from that

district are particularly docile


in

and he spent some months


one he added comrades

training
until

them

then one by
;

to them,

he had twenty

the

instinct of imitation assisted the later recruits to learn

more
at the

rapidly.

The
"

first

exercise consisted in

making the

cat

jump

word of command.
Voorzdtf"
cries

M. Bonnetty, who speaks nothing but


all

Dutch.

The

cat does not vooruit


it

at once.

It

pauses undecided

very often
patience.

does not understand.

But Bonnetty never loses


velvet in
its

With a gentle hand, which resembles

touch, he softly caresses the cat's spine, quite determined not


to be angry, yet equally decided not to yield the point.
last the cat realizes

At

what

is

required of

it,

and jumps.

This

first

step gained, the after-work of education proceeds

more

quickly.

The

animal gets used to walking on the backs

of chairs and the necks of bottles, or to leaping over flaming


circles.

But there

is

one decisive

trial

to pass

through

that
in

of appearing before the public.

M. Bonnetty has had some


rehearsal,

cats,

perfectly
to

obedient

which could not be induced

perform to the sound

of music before a crowd of spectators.


selves

They

coiled them-

up

in a corner of their little house, returning

suddenly

to a wild state.
"
I

cannot treat them as

would dogs," M.

Bonnetty

observed to me, " by interpreting


All violence
is

my
;

wishes through a whip.


I

useless with

them

can only count upon

what

it

pleases

them

to

do

and

my

cats

and

always treat

each other with the utmost courtesy."

The

Trainers.

129

And
tears,

in a

moment

of effusion his eyes suddenly


to

filled

with

and the cat-tamer related


"
I

me

the story of an in-

comparable cat that he had

lost in Brussels last

May.

Ah

monsieur, he was a cat that

can never replace.

He would

leap

over fourteen chairs with one bound,


at

more than a yard and a


"

half high.

But

you

know what

artists are

great children,

all

of them.
that

On

the very evening


Brussels,
I

we reached
to see

went

my

animals an hour
I

before the performance.


his escape.

found that

Thommech had made


tiles

The poor

fellow

was high on the


his head.

rushing
tried to

after a Brussels cat that

had turned

He

leap from one roof to another on the opposite side of the

i^.o

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

street.

He

fell,

and when

picked

him

up from

the

pavement he was dying.


"

Since then, monsieur," continued M. Bonnetty, after a


silence,

moment's sorrowful
lution
:

"

have made one great resoin

have now only sultanas

my

troupe,

and the

keepers of the harem."

<'v-'-V,

Like Bidel, who introduced a sheep into the cage with his
lions,

M. Bonnetty has

forced his cats to live in

harmony with

mice and birds.

A flock
grey
rats

of Dutch canaries
;

is

perched upon a cord stretched

across the circus


are

near them some white mice and dappled

quietly resting.

The tamer
file

then
all

opens the

door of the cats' palace, and in Indian


artists,

the band of

Tkiber,

Jano,

Moor,

Edward,

Paris,

Brussel,

Boiddnger,

Djeh,

Brutus,

and Cesar, march

slowly

out

The Trainers.
striding over the rodents

131

and

birds,

some of which
rat

fly

off

and

fearlessly return, alighting


first

on the heads of the

cats.

The
really

interviews between a

new

and a new

cat are

amusing.

M. Bonnetty
first

delicately holds each

of his

pupils

by the skin of the neck, and

forces

them

to

look at each other, at

holding them at a re-

spectful distance, but afterwards gradually drawing

them nearer

together, until at last they can touch

each other's nose.


" This proves,"

M. Bonnetty

said to me, " that

the worst enemies are always interested in knowing

each other."
I

remember

that

we

parted after this philosophic

reflection.
I

went home and found


fire.

my own
was
I

cat lying before

the smouldering
his

He

asleep, crouched in

usual

sphinx-like attitude.
:

approached him

gently and said


"
I

My

friend,

hitherto

have misunderstood you.

beg your pardon.

"The

friendship of so

many

great

men who, from


Bonnard,

Theophile

Gautier

to

Sylvestre

have

venerated you as a god,


that
"
I

might have warned

me

was wrong

to distrust you.

Forgive me. Bonnetty has proved to


;

me that you
I

are neither indocile nor cruel

henceforth

will

live

with you in greater intimacy, on terms of confidential affection."

And

whilst
I

pussy purred loudly in the warmth of the


bent over him and softly murmured,
the beautiful sonnet written
like a

dying embers,

religious invocation,

by Jules
2

Lemaitre, the gentle friend of cats and of myself

T,2

Acrobats and Mountebaiiks.

Mon
De
Que Ton Ton
Viens

chat, bote sacre

de

ma

vieille
la

maison,

ton dos electrique arrondis


te

soiiplesse,

pelotonner sur mes genoux, et laisse

je plonge

mes

doigts dans ta chaiide toison.

Ferme a demi,
ceil oeil

les reins

emus d'un long


et pourtant

frisson,

vert qui

me

raille

me

caresse,

vert seme' d'or qui, charge

de paresse,

M'observe d'ironique et benigne fagon.

Tu
La

n'as jamais connu, philosophe, 6 vieux frere,


fidelite sotte et

bruyante du chien
et

Tu

m'aimes cependant,

mon

coeur le sent bien.

Ton amour

clairvoyant et peut-etre

ephemere

Me

plait

et je salue
:

en

toi,

calme penseur,

Deux

exquises vertus

scepticisme et douceur.

My
Thy

cat,

sleek electric

Come
In the

my old home, back now curve for me. nestle on my knee and let my fingers roam
the sacred guest of

warm

glossy fur that clotheth thee.

Half closed, now thou hast ended that long yawn, Thine emerald eye, half scornful its caress. Thine emerald eye, gleaming with golden rays That idly kind, yet mocking o'er me plays.

The

Philosopher, old brother, thou hast not known faithful, noisy friendship of the dog, Yet my heart feels the love that thou hast shown.
clear seeing, perhaps

Thy

Contents

me

and

in thee

ephemeral calm sage

affection,
I greet

Scepticism and meekness, virtues exquisite.

'it

%mmmk3l

CHAPTER

VI.

THE TAMERS.

THE
royalty
in

tamer's performance

is

certainly one of those exiii-

bitions

which give the most valuable evidence of the

superiority of

man over
spirits

animals.

Some morose

have put forth the


the

lion's

claims to
In the

rivalry

to

supremacy of Adam.

134

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

menagerie the two candidates meet each other.


has formidable jaws and claws
boots and a whip.
feline's
;

The Hon

the

man

has only a pair of


!

Yet

it is

the lion that obeys

The

great

spring through a paper hoop settles the disputed

question in favour of humanity.


uplifted

One

leaves the theatre with

head and heart swollen with


besides
is

pride.

And
choose.

this

philosophic

satisfaction,

a visit to

menagerie

one of the most delightful amusements you can


enter a dark booth, impregnated with a strong

You

odour of carrion.

At

first

the eyes can scarcely distinguish

the strange sphinx-like forms extended behind the iron bars

of the cages, crouching in dreamy, sleepy attitudes. the gas-burner


is

Suddenly

lighted.

Two

keepers enter, covered with


;

blood like the headsman's assistants

they bear a hand;

barrow laden with great quarters of horseflesh


accompanies them carrying a hook.
"

a third person

The
"

animals are

now

to

be

fed,"

he cries

in

a showman's
lbs.

The supper consists Those persons who wish to


voice.

of

more than 600

of meat.

see

the food distributed are

begged

to stand a

little

to the right."

You

follow the hook, the barrow,

and the people.

Apparently some whisper of rebellion has passed through the menagerie, but just now resting and sleepy. A howl is
raised,

which echoes every note of the desert.

The

keepers

add

to the animals'
;

excitement by holding out the empty

hook

the lions

savagely throw

themselves upon

it,

not

seeing that they are deceived.

With the gestures of a cat, they glide their paws between the bars to seize their prey,
and crush
their muzzles

and

their

manes against them.


rises

As

they pant with rage, their breath

in

clouds of smoke,

The Tamers.
scattering the sawdust of their

135

litter.
is

They

roar and dribble

with hunger.

At

last

the meat

within their reach, and they

drag the huge pieces towards their jaws, too large to pass

through the bars

at

first,

there

is

a moment's struggle, and


in.

then the great lumps are triumphantly drawn

When

the
it,

booty
with

is

held, before rending

it,

the beasts

lie

down upon

little

spasmodic rattles the expression of

satisfaction

after rage.

36

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

By

the

side of the

lions

the

wolf

is

dancing, uttering
fro
in

lamentable howls.
agitation
like

The

tigers

prowl to and
lapiz

their

phantoms with

gleams

in

their

eyes.
as

The
the

bear waits for his piece of bread in silence.

And

growls of enjoyment
its

slowly,

gradually

subside,

the
lie

menagerie resumes

usual quiet aspect, and the beasts

drowsily on their sawdust beds, lazily licking their jaws with


sighs of repletion.

This
dens.

is

the

time selected by

the

tamers

to

enter

the

The women go
hesitate

in

with bare arms and necks

the

men

between

gentleman's evening-dress and the red

uniform of the Horse Guards.

As

the emotions of the audience must be gradually and


roused,

skilfully

the

performance

usually

opens

by the

exercises with the white bear.


slips

An

attendant with a hook

back the protecting

partition.

The tamer

receives the

creature,

whip
in,

in

hand.

"

Come

Pierrot."

(Every white bear has been called

Pierrot ever since the

North Pole was invented.)

"

Come,
right!

you lazy

fellow,
!

jump!

Show

yourself off!
!

That's

Once more
you!

bar for Pierrot


Pierrot,

Well

am

waiting for

Higher,
its

higher!"
neck

{The

strange creature

sways
"

serpent-like

Very

well

done

and gives a sudden spring.^ Now, Pierrot, we are going to see if you
Fire!"

are a coward.

Ready!
its

(Tke tamer fires a


"

pistol.

The bear moves


friend
;

head

uneasily?)

That

will

do,
is

my
only

you can go.

Ladies and gentlemen, there


is

one thing which Pierrot cannot endure, that


powder."

the smell of

The Tamers.

1^7

Now
with
its

it

is

the turn of Sarah the hyena, which comes

in

hobbling step and the suspicious glances of the birds


It
its

of darkness.

smells the master's boots, and takes a piece


teeth.
It

of sugar in

soon

retires into a corner, whilst

Mignonne the panther


all
left,

appears.

the grace of a ballet-dancer.

Mignonne performs with She passes from right to


allows him to raise her from

over the back of the tamer


ears,

the ground by the

and kisses her master's throat near

the nape of the neck.

But

this

is all

child's play, trifles to


is

commence

with

the

appearance of the lion


are
all

the event of the evening that

we

waiting

for.
all

He
him.

enters with

the dignity of the leading performer,

almost openly impatient to show himself

His mate follows

The
it

couple must have been worth seeing in their

African solitude in their wild courtship.

Now
over.

is

accepted slavery.
lion

Rebellion and hope are both

The

looks at
to

his

master
?

he seems to say
?
I

"

What do you want me


Feign
lie

do
'^

are then.

to

be dead

Show my claws Would to God

Here they
were
really
;

so

You
I

invite

down upon me as though I were a bed you Aida to come and share your rest. Sleep side by side.
was
free
I

When
in

tore

a black-maned lion to pieces for

prowling round our den.


darkness or in
I

And now do
Fire your
fire

as you like, whether

light.

pistol,

your barrel of
than
I

sparks.

do not dread

now any more


in the

feared

a battle before
I

my

loins

were broken

snare in which

was caught
Since
it

for you."

is

absolutely necessary to raise

some laughter and


calls

vary

this

tragic

monologue, the lion-tamer

his

usual

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

buffoon, a poor

little

Savoyard bear, the delight of nurses

and children.

The
is

proximity of the lion

is

unendurable to the bear.

It
it

willing to dance, to say yes or no, to carry arms, but

shrinks from

an interview with the desert king,


it

a fancy for receiving


plenty of time
tastes.

with a loud roar.


its

who has But we have


its

to observe

caution and to ascertain

The
scolds
"

tamer,
it.

already

impatient

at

its

delay,

calls

and

Come

in,

then, your highness


first

come

in,

my

little

friend.

You
more

are always the

after all

the others.

Look
Here

little

lively then, a little

more amiable.
to

You
visit.

are in society.
is

We

have been looking forward


for

your

your

comrade Sultan, who wishes


with you a
little."
it

nothing better than to play

{Here the tamer takes the bear by the


towards the
lion,

ear and drags

who paws
is

the

ground
?

with threatening claws ^

"Eh, but what


to tremble
?

the matter then

Your highness beginning

Don't be frightened,
is
;

my good
I

fellow.

See how well behaved Sultan

he

is

always smiling."
sincerely pity those persons
I,

who
I

are not

amused by

this

comical bear.
its

who thoroughly
can assert
that

appreciate the delicacy of

performance,

have never passed a


This
is

menagerie without entering the

office.

why

am

now on such good terms with all Pezon, Nouma-Hava, and Co. It years since I made the acquaintance
wedding of one of
his

the
is

lion-tamers

Bidel,

already two or three


It

of Pezon.

was

at the

daughters with a young


but

man whose

name

cannot

recollect,

who had

already received his

The Tamers.
baptism of blood
held
at

U9
marriage-dinner was
All the

in

the cages.

The

Saint Mand6, in the Salon des Families.


in the

tamers
to this

kingdom, male and female, had been invited festival. They had not felt it a duty and I secretly

regretted the fact

to

wear either

their trunk-hose or their

riding-boots, but

were
sat

all

in

evening dress and

lavender

kid gloves.

We

down,

thirty to dinner, including myself.


like that

On my

right

was a very dark man with a moustache


;

of Victor

Emmanuel

he has since been eaten


I

in

fair in

the south of France.

can

afifirm that this lion-tamer,


I

as

well as his comrades, had an excellent appetite, and

should

not have cared to find myself between his teeth.

140

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

Neither leg of bear nor chaud-froid of lion was served at


the wedding feast, but the wine flowed abundantly, and, at
dessert, all tongues
I

were

liberated.

had, therefore, an excellent opportunity of proving that

these powerful

men

are in domestic

life

the most amiable of

mankind.

never received so

many
and

fraternal

embraces

in

my

life

as at this wedding,

where the guests followed the


heroines,

example

of

Homer's

heroes

whose

last

representatives they certainly are.

Judge

for yourself

Besides a bag of gold crowns that glittered brilliantly in


the sunshine, the youthful bride entered the
I

new menagerie
lions.

beg pardon, the new home

with a dowry of four

friend of the family

had offered her a small panther from

Java as a wedding present.

Her godfather had given


without any
. .
.

her two rattlesnakes, and the


gifts

bridegroom's brother had added to these


hair,

an adult rabbit

a curiosity never met with before.


for

You, who seek


in

some means of securing


little

eternal

youth

your limbs, should devote a

time to lion-taming,

the foam of their rage must be the real fountain of eternal youth.

Look
years

at Jean-Baptiste

Pezon

he

is

more than
roots,

sixty-three

old,

and yet one would say that

knotty oak

roots, started

from his boots and fastened him to the ground,

enabling him to stand so firmly on his sturdy hips.

And

not

one single grey hair


which
fall

is

to

be found

in the curious

black tresses
as that

to his shoulders,

worn

in

the

same fashion

of his contemporary Cladel,

whom

Jean-Baptiste somewhat
is

resembles.

Yet the mask of the lion-tamer

cast in quite

The Tafners.

I4X

a different mould from that of the literary man. At most Cladel has the appearance of a shepherd whilst Pezon looks like a wolf-driver.
;

In fact Jean-Baptiste
that
capacity.

commenced
Lozere, he

his life of adventure in

Born

in

worked
in

in

the

mines

during his childhood, and was there initiated


labour at a very early age
:

rude muscular

but he cherished the dream of

"

142

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

leading a wandering

life.

He

longed for unlimited space

before his sturdy legs, the heavens for roof over his head.

He

therefore

quitted

his

subterranean

employment

and

became a plough-boy.
through
all

For some years he was celebrated


;

the country side as a tamer of savage animals


in

dangerous cows, horses, and bulls were submissive


hands, and he forced the beasts to obey him as
his

his

much by
a hunter.

audacity as by his strength.

He

was
it

also

One day he
to

snared a living wolf, and

suddenly occurred
travel through

him

to leave his servile

employment and
hind

the world with this strange companion.

The wolf
legs,

learnt to

"carry arms," to walk on

its

and

to

carry

wooden bowl round


tained

to the audience.

When
and
a

enough money
which he

had been acquired by these


another wolf,

collections,

Jean-Baptiste obbull,

then a bear,
;

harnessed to his cart


to quote his

own words

and with

this

equipage he made

" the tour of

France and the great

powers."

A
It

little

later the

tamer bought his

first

lion at

Bordeaux.

was an animal with a superb mane, but

his hind quarters

had been injured by the trap that caught him.


o'clock in the

At

three

morning Jean-Baptiste appeared on board the

vessel belonging to the captain from

whom

he had bought

the lion, to take possession of his


" his

new
} "

acquisition.
sailor,

But how

will

you take
louis

it

away

asked the
"

slipping

two hundred
?

into

his pocket.

You have

not

brought a cage
'

have a

collar

and a chain," replied Pezon.

He

shackled the beast like a small Savoyard bear, and led


leash.

him home with a

The Tamers.

M.

Now
cubs.

Pezon owns at

least thirty lions

as

many

adults as

He

has built a good

house

at

Montreuil,

and

is

thinking of giving his farewell performance.

The
even

success of

M.

BIdel, Pezon's

comrade and
fifty

rival,

was

more

rapidly

attained.

At

years old

he had
visiting

reached the summit of wealth and honour.


card,

His

now

lying before me, recapitulates the series of lucky

f^^t'i'S

events which have placed the tamer

in this

unique position

much

better than

could do

FRANCOIS BIDEL,
CHEVALIER DE LA VALEUR CIVILE ITALIENNE,
PRESIDENT DE l'uNION MUTUELLE,

DIRECTEUR

DUN GRAND

ETABLISSEMENT ZOOLOGIQUE.

And

in the left

corner of the card, where you would put

your address, the single word Proprietaire (house-owner). Bidel has the right to be proud of not smile at this

Do

his villa at Asnieres.

To

him, after so

many

years spent in

144

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

moving round the


of bourgeoisie.
Bidel
is

world, the

word proprUtaire
It is

signifies the

anchor dropped, the harbour won.

a genuine certificate

not only one of the richest bourgeois of Asnieres

he

^u

might be called the lord of the manor.


iron
gate,

Behind

his gilded

ornamented with
left,

lions'

heads, with the porter's

lodge to the
of
turf,

the stables to the right, and a fine expanse

the red and white villa looks like a small castle.


is

The

dining-room

decorated with panels, on which Rosa Bonheur


;

has painted some lions

but this

is

the only detail which could

The Tamers.
lead any one to suppose

"45

unless previously warned


life in

that he

was
I

visiting the

house of a tamer of wild beasts.


to your-

am

sure,

good people, that you would picture


a

selves a Bidel ending his


spoils of the lion of
far

room encumbered with


tigers.

the

Nemaea and Indian

But you are

from the
all

truth.

Do

you not know

that an ironical law

governs

the wishes of man, the wishes of lion-tamers as

well as our

own

It is called

the law of contrasts.


his

In virtue

of this rule
in

M. Francois Bidel has furnished the purest Louis XV., and the ceiling,

drawing-room

panels,
;

and seats
idylls

are covered with pastoral designs of shepherds

and

love flourish in

all

the four corners of the pretty room.


is

Mdlle. Bidel's piano


date.

the sole object bearing a different

Perhaps you may have seen


her m.other
performance.
in

this

charming young

girl

with

great the ticket office on the day of some She has just enough romanichel blood in her

146

Acrobats and Mountebajiks.

veins

to

give a slightly exotic


Naturally,
this

brilliancy
girl
is

to

her brunette

beauty.

pretty

an heiress.

Her

education

and

accomplishments are perfect, and she has


Ville.

passed her examinations at the Hotel de


"

Of

course our daughter has no Intention of teaching,"


Bidel observed to

Madame

me

casually, " but her success

was

a satisfaction for her father."


All this comfort and luxury have not been

won without

some dangerous encounters with the


show the
scars of serious

lions.

Bidel, like Pezon,

has passed under the mill of their claws, and they can both

wounds

to those sceptics

who may

be inclined to deny the risk of their performances.

number

of chimerical stories are current about the lion-

tamer's secret.

Here

is

one of them

that

it is

usual to mix

narcotics with the animals' food, or even to teach

them those
premature

bad habits which led the celebrated Chariot


death.

to a

The
centage

truth

is

that

a certain number

a very small

per-

of the
Guy

wild beasts in a menagerie are considerably

stupefied.

de Maupassant told
his

me

that in

Rouen a

tamer having
the port, to
cages.

lost

keeper, engaged a willing

man from

whom

he confided the duty of cleaning the

the

when he went into the menagerie, master paused aghast. His new servant had quietly
the morrow,
it

On

entered the cage as though


the lion

were a
his

stall,

and was giving


to

some heavy blows with


his paws.

broom handle

clean

between

At the Folies Bergere a lioness was at one time exhibited by Colonel Bone, who was taking her round the world. This
animal was so savage that
it

was necessary

to chain her into

The Tamers.
the cage
with

,47

day one of the managers of the theatre was inspecting the side scenes and witnessed the following incident: the colonel's
servant was installed in the cage, quietly painting a back-

collar. When the colonel merely passed near the den she would fling herself against the bars with such fury that the whole car trembled. But one

an iron

ground of savannah on a canvas stretched over the

floor.

The
time

lioness

was unchained and watched him


stealthily licking the

as a

dog watches

a fisherman,
;

green paint from time to

the result being an attack of colic which nearly sent


in

her to roar
I,

another world.
address you, have entered a black-maned
lion's

who now

cage quite recently.


great
desert

Oh

do not exclaim

at

my

heroism.

many
;

people have visited this captive king of the


Tartarin, then
all

first,

the Marseillais, then

Made-

moiselle Roselia Rousseil,

poem

to Bidel, entitled.

who on a similar occasion dedicated La Mort dti Lion, ou le Dovtptcur

148

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

par Amour {The Lions Death;


which commenced
C'est

or,
:

The Tamer by

Lo-je)i

with these lines

un vaillant dompteur, jamais il ne recule. Son corps semble petri par les dieux Ton croit La grace d'ApoUon dans la force d'Hercule. Pour moi, j'aime surtout son grand ceil doux si
;

voir

noir.^

did not visit the lion in order to write verses to him.


to

merely wished to be introduced


I

him because
It

knew

that
of

should have to mention him to you.

was a scruple

professional honesty

on

my

part.

Here

is

true

account of

the

interview

without

any

embellishment.

The
"

lion-tamer,

with

whom
said,

had

short

previous

conference, answered for the safety of the attempt.

You must
I

wait,"

he

" in the entrance to the

door

until

call

you."
in

He
lion

then entered the cage


it

a familiar way, and as the


ears.

was asleep, he pulled


at first

by the

When
me
:

the beast,

who
"
I

grumbled a

little,

was

sitting

up and seemed

composed

again,
in,

my
"
!

companion

called to

Come
went
I

now

in cautiously at the back,

taking two steps forward,


lion.

so that
I

might

still

be nearer to the door than to the

must own that the desert king did not honour me by even

turning his head.

He

was talking
I

to his tamer.

The two

gentlemen

left

me

standing, and

looked rather like a boot-

maker waiting
^

for orders

from a nobleman.

He

is a valiant tamer, he never recedes. His shape combines the gods, in it one seems

to see Apollo's divine grace, with the strength of Hercules. Bui, above all, his soft, dark eyes, are dear to me.

The Tamers.

149

Man
I

is

a coward.

The

lion's
I

contempt gave
could

me

couracre.

advanced a step so that

touch the leg of the

beast.

"Oh!"
It

said,

"how
all,

silky
it

it

is!"
harsh.

was not

silky at
I

was abominably

Since then

have reflected upon the feeling which could

have induced

me

to

utter this falsehood,


is

and the
I

result of
it

this self-examination

so humiliating that

will confide

50

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

to

you as a penance.
instinct of

In fact "

how

silky

it

is"

was prompted

by an

base flattery

courtier's

compliment

the
lion

toadyism of a coward
than to the door.

who

felt

himself nearer to

the

The
way
the
to

boldest individuals,

who put

their

heads two or three

times a day into the lion's mouth, have told


to

me
all,
;

that the best

withdraw

it

from the gulf


this

is,

first

of

not to open

acquaintanceship with

experiment

and, secondly,

perform

it

with great nerve.


is

Nerve, that

the great secret of the lion-tamer, the sole

cause of his authority over his beasts.

When

he has studied
its

a subject for some time, endeavouring to master

character
is

and

amongst the higher animals the character

very

individual, very accentuated

one
the

morning the man quietly

walks into the cage.

He
As
to

must astonish the beast and overto


training,
in
it

awe him
here
I

at

once.

consists

and
in

quote the words of an expert


the lion

such matters

commanding
him;
that
is

perform

the exercises which please


fear of the
in his wild

to say, to

make him execute from

whip those leaps which he would naturally take


state.

There
born

is

one

fact

which no one would suspect

that

it

is

easier to train an adult lion taken in a snare than an animal


in

a menagerie.

The
for

lion of the

booth

is

in the

same
;

position as

sporting dogs which play


spoilt

much

with children
five

they
six

are
lions
live

soon

work.

Pezon possesses

or

which he has brought up by hand.


with
the
staff

As
to

a rule
of

they

of the menagerie
this

on terms

perfect

familiarity,

but

frequently

leads

tragic

accidents.

The Tamers.
Lions, even
style.

i^i

lions

in

fair,

will

devour a man

in

fine

say that the fear of such an accident is ever ciently strong to make me pause on the threshold
I

Can

suffi-

of a

menagerie

No.

cherish, and, like me,

you also cherish,

the hope that


eaten.

some day perhaps we may see a lion-tamer


in fact

This contingency sometimes occurs,

more

often

than

is

usually

supposed.
it

For
is

instance,

without
the

leaving the Pezon


proprietor

menagerie,

not a year since

narrowly escaped
Chalons-sur-Marne.

being devoured by his bear

Groom
his

at

He

would have perished


in

if

son Adrian Pezon had not thrown himself, sabre


killed

hand,
the

between the two combatants and


spot.^

the bear on

This act of heroism


Constant

has been celebrated by the poet

Robert

in

some remarkable Alexandrines, which


:

deserve to be handed down to posterity

In this summer of 1889 another son,

Edmond

Pezon, has been twice

injured by the h'on Brutus.

15-

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

L'assistance appelait au secours, et I'horreur

Qui s'empara soudain de chaqiie spectateur

Ne

saurait se decrire
I'eviter,

On

etait

cans

I'attente,
!

Sans pouvoir
Lorsqu'au

d'une mort imminente

moment
son

critique, intre'pide, haletant,


!

Un
Son

lion apparait sous les traits d'un enfant


fils

et

e'leve

Adrien

Oui, lui-n:eme!^

As
fair

to Bidel, every
lion

one recollects that

in July, 1886, at the

de Neuilly, a
of

mangled

all

one side of

his neck.
this

Two
duel

my

friends

were amongst the spectators of


Detaille,

the

painter,

Edouard

and

my

dear comrade

Paul Hervieu.

When
made

Detaille reached home,

on the same evening, he

a rapid sketch of the conflict between the

man and

the

lion whilst the impression

was

still

fresh in his
it

memory.

He
effect

has kindly authorized


is

me

to reproduce

here.

The

of a cat playing with a bird.

Bidel's coat

was torn

into

fine

shreds by the scratching of the claws from the collar to

the waist, showing the flesh underneath.

On

his side, Paul

Hervieu was good enough


which you are about to read.

to

send

me

the valuable notes

He

addressed them to

the form of a letter, which has been published in the


I/lustre.

me in Monde

"The
fair.

accident took place on one evening in July, 1886, at the Neuilly


stormy, and the lion -tamer had one foot

The weather was heavy and


for gout.

bandaged

The audience screamed for help ; the great terror AVhich seized the heart of every spectator No words can picture. Breathless all present wait, Helpless to rescue the man from impending fate, j When, at the vital moment, fearless, yet panting, A lion appeared, in guise of a stripling, His son and his pupil! Yes, Adrian himself!

HYPNOTISM

IN

A WILD BEASTS' CAGE.

I he Tamers.

153

" However, the performance was nearly over, and it seemed as though everythmg would soon be safely ended, in spite of the unusually

and

refractory voice

attitudes of Sultan, a fine

dark-maned

lion (for the lionesses, although I

believe they are all blonde like Eve, can choose between dark- or lightcoloured manes amongst their large-headed lords). " Suddenly Bidel fell, having caught himself in his blunt two-pronged iron
spear,
cry.

and

in

some way

tripped over
fell

Then
shall

a deadly silence

it. Every one present uttered a brief upon the huge tenta silence so intense that

the hissing of the gas-lights could be heard.

never forget the man's face at the moment he lost his balance. see his starting eyes, the white balls vividly contrasting with his features, congested by gout and by his previous efforts. It was the expression of one
I
still

"I

who

feels that

he

is lost,

who

is

sinking into an abyss.

Now

the tamer was

lying

upon the

for help.

He

floor of the cage like an inert mass, without a gesture or a cry never attempted to raise himself, probably through some tactic

dictated by his experience, but apparently he had the time to


lion
still

do

it

in, for

the

remained crouched a

it'fi

yards away.
that I should define the
?

" Perhaps,

my
is

dear

Le Roux, you have some wish


Thus,
for

nature of the emotion which seizes an eye-witness under these circumstances

This emotion
evening.

certainly multiform.

my own

part,

you may

feel

sure that I was distressed, horrified


fatal
. . .

that
if

I regretted

being present on that


I will tell
is

On

the other hand,


friend, a

you do not object,

you that

was accompanied by a

kind of inseparable,

who

very curious

about rare sensations. " Now this friend has since confessed to

me

that whilst the lion

remained

immovable he was conscious of one idea .... how can I express it ? .... In short, it was like a ferocious wish that something unexpected should happen,
like a

monstrous impatience " And, in excuse for my friend,

I try to

convince myself that he was not


;

alone in feeling an abominable and vague desire

to

me

it

seemed

to

have

imprinted a fugitive

expression upon

all

the blanched faces that rise before

me

even now

for instance,

that of a small, freckled,

red-haired

woman

154

Acrobats and Mountebanks.


who gnawed her
upon

clinging to her husband's arm,

lower

lip

and mercilessly

cUmbed upon my
"

feet

mercilessly,

at all events, for

my

feet.

At

last

the lion raised himself

his four paws,

and without advancing,

gazed at his inert master with extreme distrust of the mass armed with a whip, who was saying nothing worth hearing.' One second passed in this way, or one century, I could not be sure which. Then Sultan made, towards what
'

like steps,

he began to consider a possible prey, two small furtive steps .... two catprudent and stealthy .... and again, two little steps. Then he

m
not maliciously,

laid

one of

his

heavy paws upon

his tamer's

shoulder,

still

rather as a caution, as

we should

place one hand upon a sheet of paper in

danger of blowing away.


" In thus interpreting the ideas passing
for soul,' to
*

quote a line from Victor Hugo,

through the darkness a lion has I have at least the satisfaction

of knowing that " But oh,


depict,
all

my

impressions harmonize with the picture that Edouard

Detaille seized with the eye of a great painter.

my

dear

Hugues Le Roux, no

pencil of the illustrious artist can

the resources of the pen are powerless to describe, the frightful


first

tumult which, in the hitherto silent theatre, greeted this

act after the

gloomy prologue
!

an

infernal din, the noise of falling chairs, of shouts, of

screams " If I ventured to write an essay on the physiology of


.

modem

wild beasts

The Tamers.
in

155

the course of the reflections which I should be forced to devote to the accidents of the show, I should not fail to mention these axioms : " I. female spectator never faints until there is nothing more to see ....

"

2.

The audience
first

in the

second places

is

only waiting for an opportunity


the barriers were scaled.

to rush into the


'*

seats

....

And,

in fact, without a

moment's
!

interval, all

Round

the cage

a better view. " When the clamour

women were And shrieks


first

eagerly pushing

men
!

aside in their efforts to get

but the shrieks

arose Sultan turned his head towards the multi-

156

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

tude, which he looked at with really sublime tranquillity for an amateur, as

my
And
It

friend pointed out to

me.

No
made

doubt

it

was the vivid

light

and the

movement

of the crowd which

the lion wink

yes, his eyes twinkled.

in itself that

gave a shadow of indulgence to his strength.

But now he
is

returned to his captive, tormenting, teasing, mumbling, rather than biting him.

was

like the

play of a pupil

who emancipates
was
lion's play
!

himself, but

yet conin small

scious of his

fault.

But then

it

Sultan

moved

jumps,

all

four

his jaws, full of

" Here

paws together, turning his hind quarters to the gallery, tossing no one knew what .... perhaps a human head can guarantee, my dear Le Roux, that those who at first shared
!

my
was

friend's

infamous and fortunately indefinite wish, must, like him, have


It

found themselves almost fainting before such a realization of carnage. ...


frightful

and

senseless.

One

felt

scarcely alive,

onesell howl.

Suddenly the

lion relinquished his

and no longer heard prey and steadily watched

the back of the cage, behind which he must have caught the sound of

some
In

noise only perceptible to a feline ear in the tumult of this bloody orgie. the midst of the excitement the door was abruptly opened and two

men

appeared, presenting like bayonets two simple iron bars.

The Tmtters.
"

57

When he saw them

Sultan timidly drew back like a

giiilty

schoolboy

who
by

has failed in respect towards his master, and


the entrance of the monitors.

who
in

is

recalled to his duty

He

was already

retreat,

backing into the

neighbouring cage, spurred on by the vibrations of the partition which the men were handling.
" Already, too, Bidel

had been

raised,

and

his first energetic

movement was

to rush towards the lion, who,

now

separated from his enemy, watched him


!

moving his head from right to left. A and shouts of Enough enough stopped the liontamer, who had one half of his neck laid open. From his forehead, just between the eyes, a red strip hung down. The linen showed everywhere
through the
railing, rather jeeringly

thunder of

'

Bravos

'

'

'

beneath the holes in the cloth.


intact.

The

skin

on

his

knees was bare, yet


dressing to

" After this scene, whilst the


his

wounded man

received the

first

wounds

in his travelling-van, the general attention

was drawn towards

Sultan, who had returned to the society of his comrade Nero, the blonde lion, who was languidly stretched out, digesting his daily rations of meat and blows. But the dark-haired lion did not lie down he restlessly prowled up and down in suppressed excitement, his haughty nostrils sniffing the scent of blood in the air. His tail lashed his sides alternately. And each time that
;

he passed Nero's jaws, the

latter soothingly licked

a purple curdled spot,

which the
" "
'

taster of

At this Moa, j^ etais pertisan du Hone! " Turning round, I found myself
nervous state in which
to believe that I
I

human blood still retained upon one of his great toes. moment a harsh voice in the crowd murmured close to my ear
'

('

was

for the Hon.")


tall

facing an emaciated being,

as a pole,

beardless, wrinkled, without any visible

marks of

age,

and very
it

dirty.

In the
led

found myself, a superstitious influence

at

first

me
to

had met the Englishman who makes


is

his profession
left.

follow lion-tamers about the world until there

not a joint of them

" But
lord.

now

believe that the speaker had no connection with the legendary

And

the Iwne of which he was pertisan must have been the most
to.

respectable acquaintance that he could hang on

I have, in fact,

met

this

individual again in the bookmakers' corner of the racecourse at Longchamps,

and

this

was

his trade

imagine a

start

of six horses

he would go up to

six

greenhorns, and successively

murmur

in their ears, as quickly as possible, the

name

of a different winner to each man.

After the race he went up to the

individual

whom

" Let us, then,

luck had favoured and claimed a reward. my dear Hugues Le Roux, distrust all the
lion,

new acquaintances
us rely upon old

we may

meet, even under the patronage of a


as I feel for you.

and

let

friendships, such

*Paul Hervieu."

158

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

have quoted, almost as


who,
like the lion
I

it

was

written, this letter

from

an

artist,

possesses a good eye and velvet


sure that
it it

paws,

first,
;

because

felt

would

interest

you

deeply

secondly,
it

because

delighted

me

and

thirdly,

because

is

a good proof that there was some danger in


lion,
I

approaching the

whom
I

interviewed in his cage for

your

satisfaction.

do not wish to pose before you as a

Tarasconese hero, but


take

do not wish

either that

you should

me

for the

pantaloon of Italian comedy.

-^;r/*^<-'<_.

CHAPTER

VII.

EQUESTRIANS.

RETAIN

amongst the
the

recollections of

my
I

provincial
festival,

childhood,

remembrance of an annual

in

itself

noisy and marvellous, and even now,


I

when

close

my

eyes,

can recall the brightness of

its

lamps.

Every
heaven

year, at Saint Michel, in the

month when the

clear
city,

is

spotted with kites, in one square of the old

by the
of of

side of the

paved road by which the Paris coaches

formerly passed with sonorous smacking of the whip, a palace

new planks would rise in a few days cards. Enormous placards on every
grand circus consisting of
fifty artists.

as light as a house
wall
fifty

announced the
horses and one

arrival of a

hundred and

For

some weeks
disturbed.

beforehand

our

boyish

hearts

were
with

seriously

Every day,

after

school-hours,

i6o

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

books under our arms, walking

like truant schoolboys,

we

went

to

enjoy, through the half-open doors of the stables,

the intoxicating smell of horses, blended with the scent of


fresh sawdust

and that perfume of musk which turns the

brains

of

men.

And

then,

peeping

through the chinks

between the badly

fitting planks,

we

could watch, in the half

light of the circus, the rehearsals of the beautiful equestrians

for

whom
last

our youthful hearts were beating, as naive and

courageous as those of their

own

horses.

At

some

fine

morning the passers by would see on the

placards the

announcement of a gala performance.

"The

professors of the college and


will
It

MM.

the pupils of the Lycee

honour

this

entertainment by their presence."

was on one of these evenings, now almost twenty years


I

ago, that

first

saw and loved poor Emilie

Loisset, before her


d^btit in

success in Paris and Vienna,

when she made her


Clotilde,

the

haute

dcole,

and played
her

in a
sister

pantomime disguised

as Prince

Charming, with
princess.

now an

Hungarian

Her touching

story has been related by Philippe

Daryl in his charming novel

La

Petite Lambton.
old,
Still

At

that

time Emilie was not more than eighteen years

and she
her eyes
I

was the most charming creature


and her
face

in the world.

wore a curiously melancholy expression.


most
flattering success could
life,

learnt afterwards that the

never

dispel the instinctive distrust of

the romantic fancy for


to take a

gloomy subjects which afterwards led her


exactly opposite the
little
it

house

cemetery

of Maisons-Lafifitte.

She was buried

in

two days

after she

had been carried


fall

from the circus mutilated and crushed by the


horse, which, in refusing a

of her

jump, had

fallen

upon

her.

Equestrians,

i6i

Forgive

me

for

opening

this
is
it

chapter

by evoking the
But
I

melancholy smile of one who


tribute to fimilie Loisset
child,
I
;

no more.
is

owe
that,

this

for

through her,
of the

as a

received

the

first

revelation
artistic

beauty of a

woman on

horseback, of the

union of the two most

perfect curvilineal forms in creation the horse adding height

to

the

woman by

the

majesty of

its

stature,

the

woman
and the

daringly poised on the animal like a wing.

But long and serious work, both

for the equestrian

horse, has preceded this harmonious union.

Although the

woman and
will

the animal have acquired the habit of conquering

difficulties together,

and have even attained perfect unison of


alone, slowly

and obedience, yet they have each studied

l62

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

reaching that perfection, that confidence

in

their

own

powers,

which produce the success of their


It
is

alliance.
this

important that the various phases of

education

should be defined at once.


the haute
rider,
^cole,

The

studies of the equestrians of

the highest form of training for horse and

differ

completely from

those

of

the pad

equestrian,

W'y -.m

'
EMILIE LOISSET.

whilst the lessons given to performing horses differ equally

from those of the haute

dcole.

France
horses,

possesses

the

legendary

trainer

of

performing

M. Loyal.

For

thirty-five years

he has introduced
old

his pupils to the public.

M. Franconi possesses an
years old,

mare

la

mere Ttdipe
his whip.

twenty-two

who was

trained

under

Every year M. Loyal undertakes some new

Equestrians*

63

pupils,

and enlarges the sphere of

his conquests.

He

is

so

certain of his

own pre-eminence

that he takes no trouble to


invited

conceal his method.

He

has often

me

to his

re-

_*!^^"

have met fellow-workers there who had gone, even gave like myself, to learn from him. One day M. Loyal one of us a short essay on the subject of his work, which has
hearsals,

and

since been published.

164

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

The

horse,

in

the

opinion

of the
;

celebrated trainer,

is

one of the dullest animals created

it

has but one faculty,


to

memory.
tricks
in
its

On

this

account

it

must be forced
;

learn

its

by the aid of the curb and whip

they are imprinted

memory by
if it

the whip

if it

resist,

and by presents of

carrots

obey.

On

these terms every horse can be trained,

but

it is

well understood that certain breeds, such as Arabian


to teach than

and German horses from Old Prussia, are easier any


others,
It

and also that the animal's age

is

of great import;

ance.

must not be either too young or too old

the best

educations are given between five and seven years old. Before
that age the horse
fused.
is

too excitable, too nervous

he gets conflexible.

Later than that his muscles are not sufficiently

The

B C

of education consists in renderinor the horse

familiar with

the arena,

making
teach

it

go round regularly and

stop at a given signal.

To

it

this first lesson,


it

M. Loyal
In his

leads the creature into the circus and places

close to the

palisade, whilst he goes into the centre of the ring.


left

hand he holds a long

leash,

which has been passed through

the curb or cavesson


circle of iron

every one

knows

that this
is

is

a semi-

armed with

a sharp point, which

placed upon

the nose of the horse.

In his right hand he holds a long


is

whip, whilst an assistant, armed with a strong riding-whip,

concealed behind the animal.

In this position the trainer


it

utters a call, then lightly pulling the horse, forces


If
it

to walk.
if it

resist the assistant


it

gives

it

a blow with the whip,

obey

receives a carrot from

its

master as a reward, after

three or four turns round the arena.


trainer suddenly cracks the

To make

it

stop,

the

whip

in his pupil's face, whilst the


it.

assistant throws himself in front of

Equestrians.

165

The same method


is

is

used

in

teaching a horse to leap.


is

It

placed in front of a barrier, and


it

encouraged to jump

over

by voice and gesture

if it

refuse, the assistant gives

i^isl

THE MARE TULIPE

it

a volley of blows on the croup with his whip.


is its

If

it

jump,

the ever ready carrot

reward.
to place

To make

it

point,

the ring-master has simply

66

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

himself squarely in front of the horse, to shake his riding-

whip with the


the right.

left

hand, whilst he cracks his long whip with

But although the horse learns these


facility,

tricks with
it

comparative

a great effort

is

required before

can be taught to
to
surprise.

kneel.

The
is

trainer

is

obliged

to

resort

bracelet
hoof,

attached to the two fore pasterns just above the


is

and a cord

attached to

it

by one end, the other being


attracts the attention
its
its

held by the trainer.

Suddenly M. Loyal
;

of the horse by a sharp cry

at the

same time he shakes

confidence by a pull at the cord and a vigorous blow on


shoulder.

In a short time

the

horse kneels

down

at the

master's call without being tripped or coerced in any way.

Next

to this achievement, the

most

difficult feat is

teaching

a horse the trick of changing feet.


of patience.
its

This requires

fully a

year

The
its

animal

is
it.

led into the arena

and commences,
it

usual exercise round


stride,

The

trainer allows

to settle

quietly into

then

abruptly, with a touch of the

whip cleverly applied, he


say, to

tries to

break

its

pace
is

that

is

to

make

it

change

step.

If this result

obtained, the

horse
it

is

allowed to gallop round the ring once or twice, then


to

is

checked again

make

it

return to
it

its

former

step.

When

the animal understands what

ought to do

at

the

touch of the whip, instead of completing the turn round the


ring on one foot,
it

is

forced to change at the half round.

Afterwards

it

is

only allowed a quarter turn, then only three

or four steps without changing, and lastly only two.

The

horse thus appears to dance the polka


music, which accompanies and follows
its

when

it

performs to

movements.
from

The

ring-master usually chooses

a well-bred horse

Equestrians.

167

amongst the animals trained

in this

way, and already broken,

for initiation into the ha7de ^cole.

No
this

one

will

expect

me

to discuss here the principles of

training, nor

even the theories of circus horsemanship.

68

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

refer the reader to the special treatises written

upon the
book

subject by

men
title

in the profession, particularly to the fine

which the historian of


under the
of Les

sport,

Baron de Vaux, has published


de

Hommes

Cheval}

especially

recommend the
Franconi family.

perusal of the chapter consecrated to the


It

contains an account of

how Laurence
good

Franconi taught the present manager of the two circuses the


principles of the School of Versailles, whilst freeing

horsemanship from the superfluities


Pluvinel.

in

use in the time of

Laurence Franconi wished

for a less formal, less

studied style of horsemanship.

The

introduction into France

of English horses
race-course,

trained in

the hunting-field and on the


the
cavalry,

and the re-organization of

had

demonstrated the necessity of preparing horses for greater

freedom of

action.

It

was

realized that

good riding did not


off

consist merely in forcing a horse to

show

and

tire itself

uselessly in obtaining a striking effect, but in well calculating

the strength regulating


its

of

the

steed,
It

in

husbanding
last

its

forces,

and

paces.

was

at

recognized that the ideal


its

horse of the haute dcole should be easy in


its artificial

balance and in

paces under the guidance of

its rider,

and

that on

his side the rider should only

use the force

necessary to

maintain this balance, and to secure the execution of the airs


of the haute
Scale.

On

these principles Laurence Franconi trained Blanche,

Norma, and Hector; Victor


Frisette,

Franconi,

his
;

son,

trained

Ajax,

Waverley,

and

Brillante

and

Charles

Franconi, his grandson, educated Regent and Moscou.

J.

Rothschild, editeur, 1888.

Equestrians.

169

remember being present


empty
circus

at the

Cirque d'^te during one

of Moscou's rehearsals, ridden by Mdlle. Marguerite Dudlay.

The

little

was illumined by a red

light,

the

reflection of the April

sun upon the velvet of the benches.

Charles Franconi was watching the work of the equestrian

and her horse.

It
;

was a Russian
in
its

stallion, beautifully

shaped

and very elegant

veins

it

showed the vigour of the


o

170

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

Slav-blood,

full

of revolt, excitement, passion, and violence,


gentleness,
lost

veiled by affected
rider's will.

in

compliance with

its

ring-master,

armed with a whip, held the horse

in front

of a barrier which he gradually raised.


effort

Without any apparent

Mdlle. Dudlay lifted the grand quivering beast over

the bar.

The young girl was bareheaded, and her hair had fallen down with the shock. She was a charming picture in her dangerous leaps, with her long wavy hair flowing over
her shoulders.
After the rehearsal
horses.
I

went up

to her to

speak about her

She was very fond of them, and would not allow


be scolded.
is

them
"

to

They were her


!

friends.

Moscou

so gentlemanly

"

she said, showing

me

the

172

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

horse,

which an attendant was leading away covered with


"

foam.

He

has such good manners

"
!

And
his

in a

low tone she owned to


grey of

me

that she preferred


reliable

him
than

to Regent, a

classic beauty,

much more
;

comrade

loyal,

vigorous,

and brave

but he replaced
stiffness of

coaxing by a military deportment, the correct


officer.

an

"No
can
I

doubt
it ?

am

unjust," said
I

Mdlle. Dudlay, ''but

how

help
is

Moscou and

love each other."

That
thing
too.

the secret of the haute dcole as well as of every-

else.
It
is

Habit and

skill

are insufficient
little

love
all

is

necessary

through love of the

hands which caress


their energies

their necks that these great horses

throw

into leaps

which exhaust them

it

is

through love that they

humiliate themselves, that they kneel down.


part,
I

For

my own
com-

know no grander

spectacle,

no more

spiritual

bination,
force.
It
is

no triumph more admirable of mental over physical

almost unnecessary to add that these instances of

perfect
"

harmony are the exception, not the


" in

rule.

The
as

little

mashers

white

ties

and dress-coats who encumber the


she
"

entrance to the ring, and surround the equestrian

mounts her saddle, crying

Bravo

!"

and " Tres

chic !'' at

every movement she makes, hope by their eagerness, by


these exclamations, to pose as horsey

men

in the

eyes of the

crowd

but they never imagine the duplicity of which they

are the victims nineteen times out of twenty.

There
trians
sisters

are, in

fact,

two very
;

different categories of eques-

of the

haute ecole

first

the wives,

daughters,

and

of the circus managers,

who

are placed on a horse

HAUTE 6C0LE.

Equestrians.

1/3

trained in the establishment at an early age.

Let us

softly

add that these subjects are nearly always,


pression of

to quote

an ex^

M.

Molier, " Les fruits sees du panneau."

It

sometimes occurs also that a well-to-do manager, who thinks of marrying his daughter in the bourgeoisie ov even in the

aristocracy

hesitates to exhibit the

young
of

girl

in the semi-

nudity

of

tights.

He

is

afraid

alarming the future


several

husband.

This

has

happened with

accomplished

equestrians like the late Emilie Loisset, and, at the present

moment, Mdlle. Renz.

As a rule, the equestrian of the haute dcole who wishes to appear in a circus, and who has
^

is

a pretty

girl

found some one

Those who

are too old for the pad.

174

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

to minister to
rich

her vanity.

This

"

some one
in

"

must be

very

rich.

The horsewoman

question must take

with her three trained horses

two

of the haute

dcole,

and
It
is

one leaper.

This

trio

of horses costs a great deal.

only in a circus that they can be obtained ready to work

Equestrians.

75

with

a woman, and the


circuses.

trade in

them
in

is

a speciality of
the

German

Old horses trained

haute

^cole,

regular as clocks in their movements,


for sale at

from 10,000 to 15,000

may be found there francs each. The value of


if
it

the horse sometimes even rises to 20,000 francs

has a

good

tail.

A
of

few weeks' work


Molier,
to

suffice to "
I

adapt

"

another expression
all

M.

whom
The

owe

the revelation of

these

secrets

very mediocre equestrian to one of these meanimal, annoyed by


its

chanical horses.
shuffles

bad

rider,

who

on her saddle, does not perform one-half of the


But the public does not
would-be sportsmen who adorn the

work which the man has taught him.

know
girl

this,

and

the

entrance to the ring open admiring eyes

when

the pretty

assures them, from the superior height of

her saddle,

that she trained the horse herself.

These frank explanations


enemies for

will

probably make

many
I

pretty

me

but,

at least,

they ought to assure you of


profess

the sincerity of the admiration and respect which


for the

pad

equestrians or standing equestrians.


in

Apparently,

a circus, a woman's virtue


length of her skirts
;

is

in

inverse
is

proportion to the

the riding-habit
all

suspected, whilst muslin petticoats soar above


aspersions.

scandalous

The "standing"
artiste whilst
still

equestrian
;

is

usually married to a circus


is

very young

she

an excellent housewife

and a model mother.

As long

as maternity does not interfere

with her profession, she

shares her husband's dangerous

performances during her youth.


herself,

With him she


legs.

dislocates

and bravely fractures her arms and

She has

176

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

scarcely recovered before she


circus education
six years old,
is

recommences her work.

Her
at

complete.

She was placed on a horse

and besides her standing-up performances

the

Equestrians.

177

most
wire,
I

difficult

of

all

she has
is

learnt the

mimic

art,

the slack
" carpet."

juggling,

gymnastics, sometimes even the


ecole.

am

not alluding to the haute

An
can

equestrian

can ride standing

so sure of her balance, and so


horse, that

who much
side

accustomed to her
saddle with very

she

ride

on

little

instruction.

She can

therefore appear

as an equestrian of the haute ecole with only a few days'


rehearsal.

But amongst

all

the necessary studies that form part of


is

the education of a pad equestrian, there

one fundamental

and primary one


the riding-school
follows the
;

to

which she devotes as much time as to

this is the art of dancing.

The

equestrian

same

classes as a ballet girl.

Dancing lessons

make

her turn her feet and knees out, teach her to carry her
well,

arms and head

and give her equilibrium and grace.


injured
to ride

There are some instances of dancers who, having


themselves in the exercise of their
standing in less than a year.
art,

have learnt

The
animal,

horse ridden by a pad equestrian should be a reliable


with
is

smooth even paces.


so important
that

movements

The regularity of its now the most popular


and
too.
insist

equestrians possess their

own

horses,

upon the
is

manager of the
precaution.
I

circus

engaging them

This

a wise

remember one day

at the Cirque d'Et6 seeing

Mdlle. Adele Rossi contend with a fine piebald horse which

replaced her usual steed.

She appeared

as a jockey, standing
in

and booted,

in

vaulting performance

which she was


in

charmingly jaunty and graceful.

She made her spring


startled

the ring, and alighted standing upon the galloping horse.

Each time she leaped the animal was

and changed

Equestrians.

1/9

its

foot

this

produced an abrupt movement of the shoulder,

which sent Mdlle. Rossi back into the arena.


girl

The young

was obliged

to

recommence her performance a dozen


it,

times before she succeeded in


audience.

amidst the applause of the

This
practice

wonderful

equilibrium
patience.

is

only acquired

by great

and much

You may now

see an amusing

" performance at the Nouveau Cirque styled a " Riding Lesson on the programme. The stablemen place a large gibbet,

which moves on

its

own

axis,

in

the centre of the arena.

From

the

arm of

this

apparatus a ring, attached to a cord,


is

hangs above the ring-master, who


other end of the cord
will at
is

on horseback.

attached to the pupil's waist.


is

The You

once realize the amusement which


gibbet.

derived from the


in the black

awkward movements of the


coat,

The man
is

who wished
air,

to take a riding-lesson,

left

swimming

in

the

whilst the horse gallops

on the other side of the

i8o

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

arena.

But

at

the

rehearsals

of

an

artist,

the
it

gibbet

manoeuvres

with

more

circumspection,

and

has very

generally replaced the cord, which

was formerly fastened on


held by the ridingin

one side

to

the pupil's waist-belt and


it

master at the other end, whilst

passed

the

middle

through a ring hanging from the

ceiling.
in this

The

first

time that an equestrian, supported


is

manner,

takes a lesson on the pad, she

made

to gallop in a sitting

posture until she


of the horse.

is

thoroughly accustomed to the movements


she raises herself upon one knee before her shoulder

Then

she stands upright,

turned

inside

the

ring,

between the horse and the master.


gradually rises to her the
steps
that
feet,

The

equestrian then
all

and performs upon the pad

she

has acquired in the dancing academy.

The man who

has followed the same classes with her,

now

adds to her work the attitudes and movements of an acrobat


together they perform the pas de deux and the vaulting acts

which amateurs delight

in.

But although these vaulting


hoops,

acts,

this springing

through

may charm
Ask

the public, they are a violent, ungraceful

performance, which can rouse the admiration of the ignorant


only.

the real

artists,

like

Jenny O'Brien, what they

think of these acrobatic exercises.


tell

They
method

will not hesitate to

you that

if

these leaps

are

a sure

way
of

of

winning
the

applause,

they are

the

worst

satisfying

conscience of an

artist.

At the same time, if it be true that danger defied adds some dignity to the effort made, then the warmest expressions
of public sympathy are due to pad equestrians.

Perhaps no
statistics,

one

will

be surprised to learn

that,

according to

Equestrians.

i8i

circus-riders are

more frequently
that an accident

killed than
is

even gymnasts.

The

reason

is

not produced by an un-

fortunate physical cause only,

or by the distraction of one

second
riding

a mistake of the horse

may

kill

the

man who

is

it.

During the years


circuses,
I

that

have frequented the Parisian


at a cruel accident.

was once present

An
leaping
its

equestrian,

named

Prince,

was

performing at the

Cirque d'fite a vaulting act on two horses, which were


fixed
bars.

Suddenly one of the animals

fell

on

knees, and the

man was thrown


It

forward upon his head.

The

assistants at once rushed towards

him and covered the


and M. Loyal,
lips,

body with a mantle.


and said
" It
is

was

carried out,

in

a choked voice, but with a smile on his

came forward

nothing, ladies and gentlemen

slight accident.

M. Prince begs The truth was

that the public will excuse him."


that the rider

had been

killed

on the spot

l82

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

he had broken his neck.

And

whilst a

number
by
his

of clowns

tumbled

into the ring, reassuring the public

their jokes,

Prince's wife

and children were weeping over

body

in the

great whitewashed room, where the reins of the performing

donkeys were hanging on the walls side by side with clowns'


wigs, training whips, and spangled tights.

CHAPTER

VIII.

THE HIPPODROME.

THE
year
;

re-opening of the Hippodrome and the


its

first

per-

formance of

pantomime are a great event


which
for this occasion

in

each

a festival for " society,"

makes
the

a large outlay in spring

toilettes,

and

a festival

for
too.

Parisians of the " fifth floor "

and the shop parlour

The number

of those

who cannot
is

escape to the sea or the

country during the heat of the dog-days, of those

whom work

and economy hold prisoners,


to believe.

greater than one usually feigns

During the whole summer these people have no


which gives the Hippodrome a

other oasis of refreshment within a walk than the great hall

with

its

movable glass
It is will

roof,

ceiling of stars.

important to those Parisians

who from
panto-

July to September

go

at least

once a week to the Hippowill

drome, to know that each time they

see the

new

mime

with renewed pleasure.

84

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

have frequently overheard the following


superficial people
:

definition given

by very

The Hippodrome.

185

"The Hippodrome
others

is

a circus, of larger size than

the

..."

There are some degrees of ignorance which should be sent


back to learn

ABC

D.

On

the other hand,

some amateurs

may be

found

do not quite

who are convinced they are right because they know what difference exists between the two.
a circular arena of fourteen yards nine inches

A
in

circus

is

diameter, surrounded by benches.

Travel with a yard

measure, measure the diameter of the Cirque d'Hiver, of the

Cirque

d'fite,

and of the Nouveau Cirque.


follow

Cross the sea


across
his

towards America,

Barnum and measure


return to

arena, continue your journey round

the world by exploring

Australia and Asia

lastly,

Europe by the Caucasus,


time

raise the canvas of

one of the numerous travelling circuses


at

which erect their tents

Astrakan

in the fair

^you

will

not discover the difference of a fraction of an inch from the


rule of fourteen yards nine inches in

diameter.

Fourteen

yards nine inches

is

the regulation
?

size.

superstition, perhaps

Do

not believe

it.

The unvarying
necessity
:

dimensions of the arena respond to a double

the exigency of the

man and
is

the exigency of the

animal.

You

already

know

that the banquiste


interest.

instinctively
is

nomad,

both through disposition and

It

therefore most

important that, although he continually changes his locality

he should find the scene of his performance unvaried. This rule is extremely convenient for men, but it is
pensable
for

indisin

animals.

performing horse must

find,

whatever spot he appears before the public, a ring of fourteen

i86

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

yards nine inches sanded to a depth of three inches and a


quarter, surrounded
only,
fore

by a pahsade
to enable
it

opening
to

in

two places
it,

and low enough


hoofs

walk round

with the
in

on the red cushion and the hind legs

the

arena.

The Hippodrome
Its

is

not

restricted

to

these

dimensions.
at

arena

is

an

elastic

parallelogram,

rounded
Its

the

four

angles to assist the horses in turning.


all

shape excludes

acts of equestrian vaulting, based

upon the support given

by the centrifugal
It is

force to circus acrobats.

not only the

name but

the principles of art which the

Hippodrome has borrowed from Greece.


after the

No

doubt the
body,

circus gives us an opportunity of admiring the

human
it

education of the ancients has restored


life

to the
;

forms chosen by them for the eternal


the

of marble

but

purest

lessons

in

Greek

aesthetics

are to be

found at

the Hippodrome.

The Hippodrome.

187

You know

that one of the most important differences which

distinguish our conception of

human beauty from

that formed

by Greek

art lies in this principle

the subordination of the

body

to the head.

Christian civilization

has taught us that

we must

seize

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

every opportunity of mortifying and humiliating the

flesh to

secure the predominance of the superior and spiritual principle


this

the
soul

soul.

No

doubt the passions and


to

emotions of

manifest themselves by gesture

some extent
to

but they are chiefly revealed in the expression of the face,


of the mouth and eyes.
the head, which, at the

Hence the preponderance given


first

appearance of Christianity, when

the art of the ancients escaped from the Byzantine bonds,


led the early painters to represent hydrocephalic Christs
angels, with the

and

enormous eyes of batrachians, and emaciated,


bodies.

anchylosis,

meagre

Hence

also the habit that

we

all

have

at the present

time of judging beauty


is

and particularly
way.

feminine beauty, which

more expressive than the other

from the features of the

face.

Greece never despised corporeal beauty


taught that
god.
if

in this
is

She
the

the soul be divine, the body


the

the temple of a

And

on

same

principle

that she decorated


it

houses of the Olympians, so that


dwell therein, she also

might please them to

commanded

the body, the habitation

of the soul, to be embellished by gymnastics.

She placed

the musike, the tutor of the soul, and the gumnastike, the
tutor of the body, on the

same

level in the practical education

of her heroes.

This

is

why

the artists

who embodied her


lost

ideal of beauty

did not give

more expression

to the face than to the torso.

Suppose

that the

Venus had

her head instead of an arm

she would not appear more mutilated.


beautiful

One

of the

most

legacies

that Greek sculpture has bequeathed to

us

is

a headless Victory.
extent

The immense

of the

Hippodrome prevents

the

The Hippodroine.

189

spectator from seeing the details of the features, and transfers


his habitual attention to the observation of the
I

whole

figure.

noticed this effect a short time ago,

when watching

the

classic poses of a group of

young

Italian girls

the sisters

Chiesi.

To

increase

their

resemblance to statues, and to

^^ut,^ ^^y-Ti\\

produce as

far as

possible the illusion of nudes in marble,


flour.

these young models wear tights whitened with

Thus

moulded, the Chiesi mount upon each other, and pause in bold yet classic attitudes, which combine the poses of the I did not for one second dream acrobat and the academy.
of looking at the beauty of their faces, not even

when they

were triumphantly driven round the ring under


the gilded carriage of the late

my

eyes in

Duke

of Brunswick.

190

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

This

is

an exceptional case.

But given equal

talent,

we
It

always prefer a woman's performance to that of a man.

gives us, besides the peculiar pleasure which acrobatic feats

''.f.'^

1
i..,,

^
t

always produce, the general pleasure which the exhibition of


a perfectly-formed

woman

never

fails to

excite.

And
.

to us

moderns

this is not
it

merely an

intellectual

and moral enjoy.

ment

in

there mingles a

little

voluptuous emotion.
art

This fascination, which Greek


not affect us at the Hippodrome.

knew nothing of, does The latent sentiment is

The Hippodrome.
abeyance, like the pity which the Spaniards never

191

in

feel at

their bull- fights, probably

because the arenas are too vast.

true

pagan would probably congratulate himself upon the

freedom from emotion which,

at the

Hippodrome, leaves him


But we cannot
all

free to enjoy the essence of beauty.

raise

do ourselves to the level of this Olympian indifference we contenting not care to be cured of the pleasure we enjoy ''tVetre ourselves with deploring, like Theophile Gauthier,
;

si

fort corrompiis de Ckristianisme."

192

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

The Hippodrome
must be seen
speciality

regains

all its

advantages when

it

leaves

to the circus the exhibition of " expressive novelties,"

which
its

close

at

hand, and contents

itself

with

of

races

foot

and

horse

races,

chariot

races,

" Berberini races," processions,

and pantomimes.
is

The

race of riderless horses

one of the most attractive

spectacles one can possibly see,

and

it

is

easily

understood

why

the Italians with their artistic genius elected to close the

festivities

of their carnival by this exciting contest.


this

Every one has read some descriptions of


which so greatly delighted papal Rome.

hippique fete
fortnight

For a
it

before the race the horses which were entered for

were led

out every morning to accustom them to the course, and corn

was given
post.

to

them

at the

end of the Corso, near the winning

On

the day of the race, at four o'clock in the afternoon,


signal.

two cannon shots gave the

All the carriages at once


fell

turned out of the road, the spectators

back into two

lines,

and a detachment of dragoons cleared the Corso


gallop.
silence.

at a rapid

The murmur

of the crowd died

away

into a

profound

The

horses chosen for the race were held in a line behind

a cord stretched towards the column of the People's Gate.

Their foreheads were decorated with plumes, which worried


their eyes

by waving

in front of

them

golden spangles were

plaited into their tails

and manes.

Small copper plates and

leaden balls armed with steel points were attached to their


flanks

and croups

to

goad them on

their

way

and the
and
stiff

effort

to frighten

them even

led to light sheets of tin

paper

being fastened on their backs, which, rustling and quivering,

The Hippodro77te.

193

produced the discomfort of a rider without the drawback of


weight.

Before the cord

fell,

the animals, impatient to

start,

excited

by the

crowd,

uttered

loud

neighs,

pranced
It

about,

and

produced a clamour which

filled

the Corso.
its

frequently

happened that one of them would knock


and rush amongst the crowd.

groom down

At

last

the senator
fell,

of"

Rome gave

the signal.

trumpet

sounded, the cord

the half-maddened horses started wildly,

urged on by the applause of the people as though by whips.


Usually the " Berberies
"

traversed the 800 fathoms of the


is

course in two minutes twenty-one seconds, that

to say that
if
it,

they ran thirty-seven feet per second.

In the confusion,

one horse could overtake the competitor which preceded


it

would

bite

it,

kick

it,

and use every


of

artifice to

impede

its

progress.
firing

The

arrival
;

the

horses

was announced by

two cannon

to

stop

them carpets were extended

across the end of the street.

In later years the Corso was only a speculation of the


horsedealers.
this

The Hippodrome
institution
;

revives the best

days of
families

Roman

the epoch

when

the

first

of

Rome, the

Barberini, the Santa-Croce, the Colonna, and

the Borghese entered their horses for the race, the champions

of their rivalries and of their colours.


of the

Since the managers


beasts

Hippodrome

object to

injuring the valuable

they place in the arena, they have abandoned the practice


of harnessing

them with spurs and


all

spangles.

It

is

really

bare-backed horses, free from


they produce in the
lists.

carnival disguise, which

The

animals have been trained for a long time, placed

194

Acrobats and Mou7itebanks.

before the barriers with a whip to urge them to jump, guided


all

round the ring by

sentinels,

who punished any

deviation

from the course.

Now

they

know what they


all

are expected to do, and as soon

as the bell rings they

start.

They

reach the barrier, their

manes flowing

in the

wind, their hoofs flying, terrible as the

tide,

white as the surge which rises on the waves.


Pindar, describing a horse rearing.
flies

"Xir'nos

ix^riwpos, said

It
it

is

brilliant

meteor which

over the barrier, but

is

also

a crest of foam.

And

the pleasure

of

watching these riderless races

is

augmented by the good

faith,

the honesty of the beast, which

cannot be suspected of corruption, which strives for victory only.

Neither crime nor death can stop them.


told

M. Houcke has
in

me

that he has

known some horses

to be killed

the

The Hippodrome.
ring

95

by

their jealous rivals,


fits

and others

after the victory

have

died from
stables.

of apoplexy

when they had gone


is

back' to the

If the

riderless horse

superb,

it

is

certain

that

the

chariot, the ancient


is

Greek

chariot, immortalized
it.

by Homer,

The other day I read a commonplace remark from Madame Dacier, who has only,
and quite
justly,

the most aesthetic frame for

seized

the

meaning of words

in

Greek.

LM

"I do not understand," she

said,

"why

the Greeks,

who
not
it

were so wise, should have used the chariot

for so long a time


I

why they did


speaking of the
is

not see

its

great inconvenience.

am

difficulty of

managing a

chariot, although
;

far greater
it

than of managing a horse


:

nor of the space

occupied by each chariot.

only say that

there

were two men

to

These two men were important


Yet only one of them could

individuals,

both
over,

fit

for war.

fight.

More-

some

chariots required not only two, but even three or

four horses for a single warrior


attention."

another

loss

which merits

196

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

The
else.

excellent

Madame

Dacier has forgotten one thing,


to beauty before

that the

Greeks were devoted

everything

They

liked the chariot, because the quadriga

was a

superbly aesthetic picture

moving pedestal

for the hero.


in

So

that the chariot


;

was not only an engine of war

their

eyes

it

was an object of luxurious pleasure.


beautiful

Do

you

remember the
fill

descriptions of chariot-races which


particularly

the literature of Greece, and


?

the

plays

of

Sophocles

Do

you remember, amongst


^

others,
part,
I

the

account of the

tutor of Orestes

For

my own

never witness one

of these heroic displays without the lines of the divine poet

recurring to
"

my memory.
the
chariot-races

At

sunrise

took place.

Orestes ap-

peared, and with him many

charioteers.

One was Achean,

another from Sparta


the
reins.

two came from Lybia, true masters of


fifth,

Orestes was

with

mares from Thessaly.


from
Etolia.

The

sixth

brought

light

chestnuts

The

seventh was from Magnesia.

advanced with white horses.


the ninth.
**

The eighth, a son of Enia, The divine Athene had sent


mounted the tenth
chariot.

Lastly, a Beotian

The

heroes were standing, and


their places

when

the lots had been

drawn and

were assigned

to them, they

sprang

forward at the blast of the brazen trumpets.


they raised the beasts
full
;

All together

they shook the reins

the arena was


all

of the

roll

of their ringing chariots.

And

mingled,
of

confused, lavished the whip to

pass by the
the
horses,

axle

some
the

opponent.
foam,
the

And

the

breath
the

of

covered with
wheels of

backs of

drivers,

and

the

chariots.

The Hippodrome.

197

"When

they reached the


his axle.

last

post

Orestes grazed
reins,

it

slightly with

He

slackened the

and gave

the wheeler his head.


other.
. . .

With

his right

hand he restrained the


But
he made his

He

was preparing
that only the

for the finish of the race.

when he saw

Athenian was

left,

98

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

whip whistle round the ears of


behind
his
rival.

his steeds,

and sprang forward


rolled

The two
Upright
in

chariots

on

in

front.

Alternately they length of a head.

passed and re-passed each other by the


in his
;

uninjured chariot, Orestes

had successfully run


to the horse

every race
post,

but in giving the

left rein

rounding the
;

he struck the column.


his

His

axle was broken

from the height of


reins,

chariot he rolled

entangled

in

the

whilst

the

frightened

horses

tumultuously rushed into the arena."

Pantomime
the
still

another

ancient

amusement
of the

is

the glory of
it

Hippodrome
to

as well as the races.

All

who saw
It

will

remember the splendours


find

Chasse.
for

seemed

difficult

anything more

brilliant,

there are not

many

subjects which can be used for these grand spectacular

shows.

When

Roman Trmmpk
Arab

has been displayed, a

Nero

with chariot races, a Fete amongst the Rajahs with rivulets


of precious stones, an

Fantasia, a fairy piece, and a


fall

genuine Congo, the management must


pieces.

back upon military

But we

live

upon former triumphs, and the Hippoeffects

drome dare no longer produce old-fashioned


storehouses.

from

its

The embarrassment of M. Houcke the manager, who arranges his own plays, was therefore very great. The
resources of a large place like the

Hippodrome vary from


the central

one season

to the other.

Sometimes acrobats form the great


is

novelty, sometimes a troupe of vaulting clowns


attraction.

Lastly, the horses were there to be exhibited, so

that the director found himself obliged to select a military

pantomime.

M. Houcke

is

a type, a true child of the stage.

He

has

The Hippodrome.
through the world,
father,

199

five or six brothers scattered

all

managers

of riding establishments.

His

under the name of

before Leonard, was formerly proprietor of the Deux-Cirques

the Franconi.
Russia,

He

has taken M. Loyal's place in the ring

in
if

Germany, and Scandinavia.

This

will

tell

you,

200

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

heredity

is

not an empty word,


professional genius..

-that

he

is

gifted with a large

amount of
knowing.

Moreover

and

this

does not spoil

it

Houcke

is

very

His choice of the name of Skobelef, as the hero

of his last military fete, appears to


this acuteness.

me

an excellent proof of

without finding

You may vainly search contemporary history the name of any other victorious general who
Parisians.
. .

would command the sympathy of the

Skobelef and Plevna, the Russians and the Turks

Houcke

had grasped

his

pantomime.

The

chief outlines of the plot

were quickly arranged, and M. Thomas, the former decorator


of the Theatre Fran^ais and the
right

Opera Comique, Houcke's

hand man

left

for

Russia, with a great deal of

money

in his pockets to

buy weapons, costumes,


Russia in his trunks.

sledges, moujiks,

drovskies, and snow.

He

returned with

all

Picture to yourself, from one end of the arena to the other,

a parquet floor laid down, over which sledges and skaters


glided as though upon the Neva.

In the

first

tableau the par-

queterie represented a high road, a post-station in the steppe.

The
Isba.

orchestra, which

had reinforced

its

musicians by a choir

of genuine moujiks, was suspended above the buildings of the

The good

people sang with those deep voices which

Agrenieff had already enabled us to hear, in their national


songs,

some years previously

at the

Trocadero.

They were

placed in a suitably decorated gallery, and when, accompanied

by

bells,

the moujiks chanted their national


Boje tsara krani
Silni der jarni

hymn

Stsar sivouyna slavomia, slavoiinam.

The Hippodrome.
one

201

really felt carried far


I

away on the wings of the

music.

During the singing


filled

looked over towards the third places,

with the poorer people,

who

are less sceptical than the

others.

Many

of

them were

quite touched, their eyes were


.
. .

glistening, their breasts heaving.

.^/.

Whilst the
the

bells

and the moujiks were singing


to pass

in unison,

processions

commenced
war

over the road.

First

came the army

singers and wandering dancers,


;

who

followed the

to the scene of

then groups of

officers,
;

convoys of

prisoners, the fantastic gallop of an


bustle, a troika, containing a tall
pelisse.

ordedy

then, with a

This was

Skobelef,

man enveloped in a grey who had arrived to take

command of the army. Then we were transported


wealth in their
soldiers
carts.

before Plevna.

The

country
all

people were taking refuge in the town, carrying

their

They were
!

just in time

the Russian
scouts.

were

at their heels

But they are only

The

Turkish sentinels have seen them from the walls of Plevna.


s

202

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

The alarm
rounded.

is

given.

A
is

sortie is

made, and they are sur;

Their case

not quite clear

their reconnaissance

has a

fatal

look of spying.

The Turks

prepare to shoot

(...J

them,

when

a thundering
arrived
at

gallop
furious
!

shakes the

floor.

The
the

Cossacks
prisoners.

have

speed

to

rescue

Ah, the brave men

always thought that a


the thrust of a lance, the

candle diet developed heroism.

With

Th Hippodrome.

203

Turks are properly


style,

settled
in

a few of them run away

in

great

and succeed

re-entering the town.

They merely

postpone the moment of surrender, for the whole Russian

army
and

is

advancing.

It

rushes to the assault of the prac-

ticable places in the fort.

In the midst of the engagement

smoke

the

whole end of the

Hippodrome becomes

! !

204

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

illumined with the lurid light of

fire.

Vive Skobelef
is

vive

Ruggieri

Plevna

is

burning

Plevna

burnt

And
In a

the victors have nothing to do but rejoice

moment

a painted canvas has been unrolled round the


St.

arena, which represents

Petersburg

in

perspective

the

parqueterie has changed into the frozen Neva.

The whole

town has come out

to greet the victorious soldiers


!

fine

evening

for skaters

With the
Italics, in

point of their skates, on the

ice, in

English, in

Gothic, they write the


to the arches

name

of Skobelef.

suspended

reproduce the glorious


fifes

Lamps word. The

sound of the clarions and


is

playing the triumphal march

already heard.

The moment has come The leader of the orchestra


!

lowers his baton.

One, two, three

And

as

though the whole army, the whole people had been


at this signal, the

stopped spellbound

cannon thundered, the


off,

orchestra bellowed, the fireworks are let

the bells ring,

and high above


the last time

all

the clamour the national

hymn

rises for

BOJE TSARA KRANI.


Although Buffalo Bill's company has not appeared
at

the Hippodrome, this seems to be a fitting place in which to


chronicle the magnificent equestrian spectacle with which they

have delighted the Parisians during the Exhibition.

The innumerable
its

readers of Cooper's American novels have


its

seen the prairie of the Sioux transported, with

actors

and

decorative accessories, to the Porte Maillot.


:

All were

there

the

Red Skins

genuine

Red

Skins, the mustangs,

2o6

Acrobats and Moitntebanks.

buffaloes,
rifles,

cowboys, vaqueros, waggons,

tents,

bows, arrows,

dogs, squaws, and papooses.

This extraordinary troupe was taken to Paris by Naet


Salisbury, a

manager who
It
is

is

celebrated in every

English-

speaking country.

commanded by an
Picture
to

extraordinary

man, Colonel

W.

F.

Cody.

yourself the
after

most

perfect type of trapper that

you can imagine

reading

The Spy and The Mohicans.

Born on the

frontier,

brought
skill
is

up on horseback, of chimerical courage, and unequalled


in

the

management of horses and


high,

firearms. Colonel
is

Cody

six feet

and

this

fine

body

crowned by the head


falls

of

stage

musketeer.

His curling hair

upon

his

shoulders, and he has the moustache of an

Aramis beneath
Miss
is

the straight classical nose of an American.

Colonel Cody's warrior troupe has

its

female
shot."

star.

Annie Oakley,
her

called the " infallible

little
is

She

also

a child of the frontier, where her


bullet.

name

as

much

feared as

And

in fact

she has accomplished wonders.

One

The Hippodrome.

207

day

at Tiffin

(Ohio) she hit a fifty-centime piece held between


feet.
balls,

a man's finger and thumb at a distance of thirty


In February, 1885, she fired at 5,000 glass
three projectiles threw up for her fifteen

which
;

yards high

she

broke 4,772 of them

in

nine hours, although loading the

guns

herself.

Miss Oakley manages a horse quite as well as a gun.

At New Jersey
"

fair

she
is

won

four races out of five.


still

And

Miss Oakley

rendered
I

more

interesting," says

a biography from which


is

am

copying, " by the fact that she

short,

and only weighs 106

lbs."

Not one word more.

The young

girl is still

unmarried.

CHAPTER

IX.

THE KQUILIBKISTS.

THE

equilibrists are the

most

artistic

acrobats, the true

Olympians.

The gymnast
development of
of his muscles.
effort in

excites our
his thorax

admiration by the marvellous


relief

and limbs, and by the epic

The

equilibrist

does not require the same


of the performance
artist's lies

his work.

The beauty
facility,

in

the delicacy, variety,

and grace of the

move-

ments, and on this account

women

excel as equilibrists, for

men

cannot reconcile themselves to the suppression of their

2IO

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

strength in the feats they achieve, and therefore take a second

rank

in equilibrium.

They

prefer special branches of the art, and are usually


. . .

jugglers, bicyclists, or antipodeans.

proverb

is

current behind the scenes of the circus, to

the effect that love destroys the centre of gravity in tight-

rope dancers, and as a rule equilibrists


true
artists,

that

is

to say the

not

the

pretty

girls

springing-board
reputation
is

might rank with

who use the Roman

the

cord as a

vestals.

Their

their fortune,
It is

and they are

carefully

guarded by

their parents.

not only a question of averting the danger

of maternity, which ends the artistic career of an equilibrist.

No

risk

must be encountered of anything that could damage


;

the artist's health

and, therefore, those

who
life.

are particular
equilibrist

on these points can enjoy the performance of an


without any uneasiness about her private

The
hearsal,
girls,

children of acrobats are equilibrists and jugglers from


Stroll
will

their birth.

into a circus
all

some morning during


filled

re-

you

see

the corners

with boys and

who, on every tightened rope and round the iron bars,

are imitating the paternal exercises for their


I

own amusement.

remember, one day

in

London, witnessing a curious scene

in

a seventh-floor garret.
across

Under
;

the roof two cords were


practising

stretched

the

attic

young boy was


;

walking on one of them without a balance


a

on the other

monkey was

faithfully

copying the gestures of his com-

panion.

The
;

professor had probably gone out to buy

some

tobacco
their

in his

absence the two dancers silently continued


I

parallel

work.

can

tell

you that acrobats

learnt the
!

value of mutual instruction before the schoolmasters

The

Equilih'ists.

21

The

lowest step of equilibrist art

is

the gcobe performance.

Walking upon the

rolling ball, forward or

backward, vaulting

212

Acrobats and Aloitntebanks.

and dancing upon

it,

are

the

ABC
is,

of the profession.

This

old fashioned

accompHshment
added

therefore, never used, unless


is

some new invention


This
has

to increase the difficulty.

happened
and

with
the

Lady

Alphonsine
Frankloff,

Russian

whom we
at

saw walking upon the water

the Neuillyy^/^, standing upon

a ballast-tub, which he rapidly

turned

round with his

feet.

Lady Alphonsine ascended a


small
It

spiral

upon her globe.

resembled the winding turn

upon a screw, and was twisted


round a mast
feet
fifteen or

eighteen
is

high.

The

ascension
I

not so bad, but

assure you

that the descent gives


trouble.
It
is

you some
to

necessary

restrain the
ball,

enormous wooden

always on the verge of

escaping,
frantically,

and the

feet patter

vibrating like the


of

sounding-board
line.

mandopro-

Here

the

effect

duced
artist

is

out of proportion to the exertion forced upon


this

the
:

and

performance has another inconvenience

if

THE SLACK WIRE.

The
be continued
for too

Equilibrists,

21

it

long

it

spoils the shape of the leg by-

undue development of the

calf

two

reasons

why

the globe

should not be reinstated in the esteem of the public.

However, here as elsewhere, fashion

rules the world,

and
is

tight-rope dancing, after falling into abeyance for a time,

now apparently returning to favour. If, some fine morning, we may find
ascensionists with
little

ourselves globe spiral

previous exertion, no one can become

a tight-rope dancer without

much

patient labour.

You

see

how may
do

easily the rope-dancer runs across her


feel

narrow path, and

tempted to

say, " Really,


is

it

only requires nerve to

as much."

But

it

a pity that, for your

own

edification,

you were not present

at the artist's first experiments.


lies

All the strength of the dancer


rigidity

in the

back and

in the

of the

legs.

On

this

account children cannot be

placed upon the cord before they are ten years old.

The
upon

apparatus used in these performances

is

very simple, and


is

has not changed since antiquity.


''

The
back
is

cord

raised

crois^s^'

two crossed
size.

sticks, at

each end, which form two

of different
it

The

X
or

^^ the

the highest, so that

may

support the back of the dancer during the intervals of

rest.

The second X

*^

crois^ de

face" which bears the


which

''guidon','

or object of sight,

from which the dancer never


is

moves
at

his eyes, is not higher than the cord,


flexible

attached

each end by cross bars of

wood.
still

In Europe
pliant

we

use the ash, but the Americans use a


the ixry.

more

wood,

The whole
a " cadroUe
"

apparatus
of pulleys.

is

fixed

by an arrangement

called

The

first

time the dancer attempts


side.

to cross the cord

he

is

supported by straps on either

214

Acrobats and Mountebanks,

With the balancing-pole


his feet

carefully held

in

both hands, his

eyes fixed upon the point of sight, he endeavours to turn


out as

much
"

as possible, treading
toe.

first

on the heel

and then upon the great


he can dance the
tender
feet.

After a few months' practice

sabotiere','

which does not wound

his

still

The

other exercises

which he must slowly

.-*^^

acquire are

the

walk forward, the

walk

backward,

the

dangerous spring forward, the dangerous


the horse spring, and the art of springing
the other.

sp7'-ing

backward

from

one foot to

This

is

the classic series of exercises.

When
feat

the dancer

has once mastered them his

own

imagination must aid his

performance.

He

must attempt some new


tried,

upon the
is

cord that no one else has yet

and

this

"novelty"

The

Equilibrists.

215

more

difficult

to find than

you would suppose.

Artists like

Ada

Blanche,

who

inherit the talents of

Madame

Saqui and

Blondin, have a right to repeat

La
little

Bruyere's

melancholy

words, "
I

We

have come too

late."

have purposely given very


artists.

space

in this

book

to

former

The

skill

of our living gymnasts, acrobats,

equestrians,

and clowns, prevents our regretting the dead

but amongst the arts practised in the circus, that of the


equilibrist
is

has been in vogue longer than any other, and

it

also the
It
is

most limited

in its resources.

therefore expedient, Saqui, to place your charming

picture in this place,


his eyes to

who

forced the Great

Emperor
admired

to raise

watch your

aerial exploits,

whom

he called his
for its

enrag^e,

whose chimerical daring he

secretly

2i6

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

resemblance to his

own

audacity.

The astronomers
I

of our

time, less gallant than the ancient poets,

have not yet placed


fear that

you amidst the

stars

yet,

on the other hand,


:

you

have not been received into Paradise

for,

little

pagan, you
with your
!

once desecrated the sacred towers of Notre


little

Dame

sabots.

May

this sin

be remitted some day


Italian

know,

in

one corner of

Paris,

an old centenarian

woman, who

still

has masses said for the repose of your restless soul, and

believes that in expiation of your pride you are


to

condemned
earth,

wander

for

two hundred years between heaven and


that

without any amusement except

of playing with

the

rainbow as a hoop when there

is

no storm.
is

The
in the

pleasant

memory

of this peri

closely allied with the


Is there

name of Emile

Gravelet, called Blondin.

any place

world where the famous crossing of Niagara has not


.'*

been spoken of
feat,

The two Americas hastened


little
it

to

see
to

the
his

and every day Blondin added some novelty


Sometimes, seated on a
chair,

performance.

he would

cook an omelet upon his cord, and eat


applause.

amidst shouts of

Sometimes he took

his

son

on

his

back and

ran from one bank to the other.


sight of the Prince of

One day Blondin caught


spectators.

Wales amongst the

He

was presented

to

him, and proposed that

the Prince should

make

the journey across


his

the Falls with him.

His Royal

Highness alleged that


the bank.

rank obliged him to remain on

This

offer

was one of Blondin's favourite jokes.


told

Pierre

Veron

me

that

on the day that the rope-dancer

crossed the Seine he suggested to

Cham, who had come

to

make

a sketch, that he should cross with him.

The

Equilibrists.

2 17

^ {JM>'>K^

"

am

perfectly willing," replied the caricaturist, " but

will carry

you on
!

my

back."

"

Nonsense

Monsieur Cham, you cannot think of doing

that!"

2l8
"

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

You

see you are the one to refuse," coolly answered the


jester.

unsmiling

The sudden

discredit Into

which rope-dancing has

fallen

during the

last

few years dates from the appearance oi

Oceana.

This young woman, anxious to adopt a

*'

novelty" which

The

Equilibrists.

219

would exhibit her beauty without too much exertion, chose


a wire, which, hanging slacker than the cord, enabled her,
with a
little oscillation,

to

assume the

attitude of reclining in

a hammock, the voluptuous indolent postures of Sarah la


baigneuse.

But the genuine rope-dancers


all

at

once determined

to reproduce

the

exercises of the cord


easily

upon the

wire,

which Oceana had so

brought into fashion, and, with


all

the exception of the horse-spring, they can

be performed

upon

it.

The
is

difficulty of

preserving the equilibrium on a

support that

even more unstable than the cord delighted

the equilibrists.

A
A

young

Oriental,

Lady Ibrahim,
from the

in

the winter of 1888,

at the

Folies Bergere,

showed us the advantages a clever


flexibility

equilibrist could derive


little

of the wire.

too

tall,

with the almost thin arms of a dancer, she

allowed herself to be raised by one hand to a rather high


platform, from which she started, far above
there, she
all

heads.

Once

opened a Chinese

parasol,

which she used as a


an anxious

balance;

then, with a very serious

expression,

220

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

rigidity of the

whole

face,

her eagle eyes fixed on the point

of sight, she stepped upon the wire, which, brilliantly plated

with nickel, looked like the slippery floor of a skating-rink

under her

feet.

When

she reached the centre of her wire,


steel

Lady Ibrahim caught a


she placed she slipped
it

hoop
;

in its flight; for

one second
:

behind her head

it

was the

starlit

night

then

it

over her head, and slowly, with graceful pre-

cautions, she

made

it

glide

down

the whole length of her

The
body
to her feet.

Equilibrists,

221

Some

flags

arranged

in a small wheel, so

that their folds

waved

as she

moved, afterwards replaced the


then,

parasol

in

her hand, and

suspended

between

the

draperies
silk,

of

undulating
vio-

Lady Ibrahim
swung

lently

herself from

right to left

on one leg
the

suddenly she closed her


air

feet, raised herself in

on the points of her


n-oise.

toes, turned,

and went

towards the back

The performance was


wire.

crowned by a promenade on a plank balanced on the

Lady Ibrahim repeated upon


that
I

the plank the various exercises


until

have already described,

at

last,

amidst loud

222

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

applause,
shoulder.

she

picked

it

up and carried

it

off

upon her

The

wish to conquer increasing

difficulties

has raised the

equilibrists

from the slack wire to the trapeze.


lies in

of this work

the instability of the

The danger support. The slack


;

wire and cord are less steady than the ball

the trapeze,

although weighted by lumps of lead at the ends of the two


cords, oscillates perceptibly
It is like

more than the

cord.

a thoroughbred, a nervous, supple, and rebellious

horse, which

must be mounted with

infinite care

and delicacy
tried

of movement.

Therefore the equilibrists


it.

who have once

the trapeze will never abandon


their net

Through the meshes of


the poor slack

they disdainfully look

down upon

wire-dancers,

who

are with difficulty raised two yards above

the sand of the arena by the croisds.

Globe, cord, slack wire, trapeze

this is the

complete cycle,

and we have already seen that these graceful exercises are


performed chiefly by women.
aesthetic

man

has not the same


a

reasons for exhibiting his body in

work which

provides no use for his masculine strength, and he therefore


rarely leaves the " carpet
"
;

he

is
all

a jtiggler or an aiitipodean.
their children
too.
It
is

All the banquistes juggle, and


their leisure

work between the


sit

exercises that exhaust their


Is

strength.
their

They

in

a corner, pick up whatever

near
into

hands
air.

a key, an orange, a stoneand throw them


Is

the

But daily practice


the

necessary before
attain

they can

surpass

average

skill

and

the dexterity

which

excites our

wonder on the

stage.

The

true juggler,

who

Is

usually left-handed, never juggles


;

on horseback, nor on a cord or trapeze

he performs with

The

Equilibrists.

223

balls

standing on the ground.

This

is

a speciality of the
in

Japanese.

One was

seen

this

winter

drawing-room

performances whose dexterity approached sorcery.

He

only

used a large white ball and a small red one, but in his hands
they seemed like living things.

They

ran over his face, up

224

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

and down
a finger.

his

arms, and stopped on his nose or the tip of

Our

friend

Agoust was celebrated

in

America

as a juggler

before he

became a comic clown and manager of the Nouveau


Cirque.
I

have seen him juggle simulwith

taneously
bottle

an ^^^i a
;

ball,

and a
is

of

champagne
feat,

and

this

miraculous
in

through the difference


effort

the

muscular

required
it

in
falls

throwing back each object as


into the juggler's hand.

The Dane Severus

is

also

one of the

present celebrities of carpet equilibrism.

He
in a

appears on the stage like Hamlet,


black velvet tunic.
to

One

expects

him

commence

the monologue spoken

on the terrace of Elsinor.

No.

He
head
first

orders a small velvet chair to be brought


to him,

and perches himself upon


feet in air.

it

downwards,

But he has
its

balanced a lighted lamp, with

glass

and globe, upon the nape of

his neck.

He
by
It

then moves
tiny jerks

it

forward upon his skull


hair.
it

of the skin of the


;

reaches his forehead

from there

travels

down

his profile,

and

finally de-

scends to his chest.

This Severus has made a speciality of


juggling with fragile objects.

He

replaces balls and knives

by

basins, salad-bowls, lamp-glasses,

and plates of

all

sizes.

The

Equilibrists.

225

Whilst seeing his performance one cannot but regret having


left

the cook at home, instead of giving her one

good lesson

in

the art of skilfully handling a dinner-service.

Severus has a remarkable iron arm.

The

biceps of the
crural

arm

develop

very

strongly

in

jugglers,

and the

muscles attain an extraordinary expansion and strength in


the antipodeans.

The

banquistes use this term for the jugglers

who work
and

with their legs.

For

instance, the Japanese Yotshitaro

the Mexican Frank Maura.


I

have seen Maura perform one of the most extraordinary


I

bounds that

ever witnessed on the stage.

It

did not excite

much

applause from the audience,


force of the exertion.

who

little

suspected the
at the

immense

Frank Maura knelt


his heels

edge of the stage, seated himself upon


his arms, then, without assisting himself

and crossed

by one movement of
he had com-

the bust, by one effort of the loins he threw his body into the
air,

and did not return


of

to

the ground

until

pleted the revolution

dangerous somersault.

After seeing the performance of this antipodean, one can

understand the wonderful vigour of his muscles.

Frank Maura places

in the

middle of the theatre a metal

handle about two yards high, which supports a small saddle.

The

equilibrist

balances

his

shoulders

and nape upon

it,

and then

raises both legs at a right angle.


balls,

An
Maura

assistant

throws to him successively three enormous

a barrel, and
catches

a bench long enough to seat six persons.


these objects, throws them into the
air,

recatches them, passes

them from

his

hands

to his feet, turns

them

violently round

and then suddenly stops

their rotation

from time to time.

226

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

With
the

this extraordinary strength

faculty

of "prehension"

is

so curiously developed amongst

antipodeans, that

many

of

them

can pick up a ball or an orange


with their
feet,

and throw these


towards

objects, like a projectile,

a given mark.

We
bats,

must add

to the

group of

equilibrists

two classes of acroin

whose appearance
dates

the
the

Hippodrome
grand

from

spectacular
it

pantomimes
necessary to

which rendered

cover the arena with a parqueterie floor.

These new comers


guide
the

are bicyclists and skaters.

The
bicycle

bar used

to

was

certain to attract the

attention of the equilibrists sooner

or later, and

we can understand

how

the idea suggested itself of

reproducing upon this unsteady


support some of
the
exercises

which the gymnast performs upon


the fixed bar.
of

Since the number

these

borrowed
very

"acts"

is

necessarily

restricted,

the
into

wish

to

introduce

variety

his " novelty act " led the bicylist to

add a companion

to his

mm

22;

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

performance,

who

springs upon his shoulders whilst he

is

in

motion, and executes there

some of the

acrobatic feats which

the pad equestrians perform in the pas de deux.

The summit
bicycle
is

of the

limited

performance

possible

on a

attained

when
are

the artists attempt on a monocycle

the

exercises which

now

frequently

seen on

the

two

wheels.

As

for

the skaters, they appear upon the pai'qiieterie in


falls
;

order to provoke laughter by their

their

performance

belongs to comic acrobatics.

You who

in

former days have tested the asphalte of the

Skating Rink

in the

Rue

Blanche, with your shoulders, back,

and knees, are well acquainted with the horrible sprains which
followed your attempts.

The
At
the

clown-skaters have

found means of avoiding those

inconveniences by the suppleness of complete dislocation.

same time they make great


you when

capital out of the natural


falls.

perversity which impels us to laugh at our neighbours'


I

shall not astonish

tell

you that these comic


" professionals."

equilibrists are

looked

down upon by

They

are held a

little aloof,

and are regarded as entertainers rather


to

than

artists.

For they have not been forced


lies
all

conquer an

enemy

in

whose defeat

the glory of an equilibrist

the vertigo.

Can we say
vertigo
?

that the equilibrist

is

really victorious
I

over the
it

After

much

observation

am

convinced that

would be more accurate


the equilibrist.

to write that the vertigo conquers

You

all

know

the experiment which plunges a hen into a

state of immobility

and renders

it

more or

less

completely

'^\ji!^.-i^

2';o

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

insensible

by placing

its

beak upon the ground and drawing


which
its

straight chalk line towards

eyes forcibly conbrilliant

verge.

In the same way,

if

any one take a


it

object

between two fingers and hold

a few inches from the eyes

and a
first

little

above the forehead of a somewhat nervous person,


at
it

engaging him to look

fixedly
is

and

to concentrate his

attention on

what
is

follows, there

every chance of sending

the person
sleep.

who

victim of the experiment into an hypnotic

The
to
all
:

series of

phenomena which then take

place are familiar

First,

the eyes water a

little

through the fixed gaze, the

pupils dilate

and contract

alternately, the
cataleptic.
.

members become
.

extended,

rigid, in

some degree
succession

Now
upon a

recall

the

of acts which the equilibrist


too, fixedly, obstinately

accomplishes in his work.


single spot

He

gazes

the point of

sight.

All those
that the

who perform
peculiar

upon the cord have acknowledged

same

phenomena
this intense
isolation,

are produced at the end of the

first

seconds of

gaze

the equilibrist feels a sensation of absolute

and

at the

same time

a curious attrahent feeling

towards the point of sight.

In this nervous state the muscles

assume a species of
work.

rigidity

which

assists the acrobat in his

Must we then conclude


border upon hypnotism
that
It

that the
is

phenomena found here


I

This

a delicate question.

know

will

soon be

laid before the

Academie de Medecine by
I

two clever savants of the Faculty of Montpellier.


these

commend
feel

remarks to their attention,

for

they

may

some

interest in them,

owing

to the difficulty

which impedes close

The

Equilibrists.

23

observation of these wandering


so hard to win.

artists,

whose confidence

is

Those who study

this
:

question

of

hypnotism amongst

equilibrists should notice

1.

That as a

rule they are

female

subjects

2.

That the most


fakirs,
all

skilful equilibrists

come

to us

from the

land of the
3.

from India, Japan, the East

That

the European subjects that attain exceptional

dexterity are at Teast neurolopathic.

232

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

To

quote but one instance

Erminia

Chelli, the

queen

of

equilibrists

upon the
till

trapeze,

is

a natural somnambulist.

P>om May

July,

1887, Paris possessed this charming

The

Equilibrists.

233

young

girl at

the Cirque d'Ete, and her departure has

left

us inconsolable.
I

shall

never forget the emotion which her performance


at

caused
I

me

our

first

meeting.
to

at

once begged

M. Franconi

introduce

me

to her

father.

M.
I

Chelli

and

exchanged

cards.

have copied the document

here as an

extraordinary

monument

of acrobatic and paternal pride

EMILIO CHELLI,
EX-ARTIST, GYMNAST,

AND CLOWN,

FATHER
OF THE CELEBRATED AERL\L EQUILIBRIST, SIGNORINA ERMINIA CHELLL

The

wife's card said "

Madame
more

Mere."
than
nineteen
;

Erminia

Chelli

is

not

she

is

Venetian, and by lengthening her legs in the trapeze she

has acquired the


proportions,

supreme grace
usually

in

walking,
lacking

the
in

elegant
Italians
;

which are

rather

The
little

bust

is

youthful yet charming, the neck delicate


is

the

dark head

proudly carried upon shoulders which the

trapeze has rendered supple without unduly developing the

shoulder blades.

Since the appearance of Oceana no one

of such perfect proportions has been seen in either of the


circuses or the

Hippodrome.

The beauty

of
;

Oceana was,
but Erminia

perhaps, a
is

little

more

individual and original


typical.

better bred

and more

234
"

Acrobats mid Mountebanks.

She

is

her father's pupil,"

Madame
in public

Chelli,

her mother,

informed me, as she assisted Erminia


pelisse.
"

in putting

on a large
quite

She began
."
.
.

to

appear

when she was

little

girl.

As
the

she spoke an
net

equestrian

came
for

in

to

tell

them

that

was

being

prepared

Mademoiselle

Chelli's

performance.

Erminia threw

off

her mantle, and with the caressing tones

The
of a

Equilibrists.

235

young

girl,

little

seriously

and gravely, she went up

to her

mother and put her arms round her neck

" Addio,

mamma," she
I

said, kissing her.


:

A
"

little

surprised,

inquired

" Is this a superstition,

Madame

Chelii ?"
" It has

No

one knows," the mother answered.

been

her custom since childhood."


Truly, in spite of the net extended beneath her, she might
well be excused, poor
little

girl,

for

having one moment's

uneasiness whenever she was fetched for her dizzy work on


the trapeze.

For one whole month


extraordinary

strained
in

my

neck watching her

performance

the friezes.

Without the

assistance of her hands, which she used as a counterpoise,

she bent low enough to pick up with her teeth


kerchief laid upon the trapeze.

a hand-

She mounted a ladder which


oscillating piece of
still

was only poised upon the round


Lastly,

wood.

she balanced an immense ball

upon

this frail

support,

and

then,
it.

without leaning

upon anything, she


in

mounted
beneath
beautiful,
travellingf

upon
her
so

And
she

thus,

lost

space,
little

the

globe
so

feet,

seemed,
of

the

acrobat,

unconscious
air

danger,
the

like

a
a

goddess

throuo^h the

with

earth

for

movable

pedestal.

The enthusiasm
talents of

with which

had praised the beauty and


newspapers procured
for

Erminia Chelii

in several

me

at that time the letter


It
is

which

reproduce here with great

pleasure.
light

from a literary man, and throws a genuine


as a

upon the customs of some of those acrobats who


misunderstood by the public.

class are so

^6

Acrobats and Alomitebanks.

" Sir,

"

The

article in

which you allude to Mademoiselle Chelli


I

recalls to

me

a souvenir which

have much pleasure

in

relating to you.
"

Three or four years ago the


in the

Chelli family

came

to

Vichy

and took part


father

performances at the Eden Theatre.

The
;

went through some acts of strength and equilibrium

the daughter was


for

commencing on the

flying trapeze the

work

which she

is

now

distinguished.

The mother watched


fourteen
trapeze,

them
"

both, admired them, and trembled.


that time the child,

At

who might have been


a
ball

years old, already placed


steadied
it

upon a movable

as

far

as possible with her feet whilst holding

by the

cords, then loosening her grasp of the cords, she rose,


foot,

bowed, stood upon one


visibly

and threw kisses

to the crowd,

directing

some of them towards her mother, who


the
chair being reserved for the child,

usually occupied the second chair in the second row of the

orchestra stalls

first

who came back


was over.
"

to her

mother as soon as her performance

My

usual place

was

in the first chair in the first row.

soon began to talk to the mother and her daughter, whose

modest manners and childish


perfectly free from
"

affection

for

her parent were

all affectation,
I

and attracted

me

immensely.

One evening

ordered

bouquet to be

thrown

to
I

Erminia as she
asked her mother

left

the trapeze.
attention,

On

the following day

if this

which the audience warmly

applauded, had pleased her daughter.


"
it
'

Oh

yes,'

she said,

'

and

this

morning Erminia carried

to the Virgin's chapel.'

The

Equilibrists.

237

" "

'

She

is

pious, then
;

'

Certainly
;

it

is

only a fortnight since she received the

communion

she often communicates.'

238
"

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

will not point

out the contrast which presents


facts like the

itself to

the mind.

There are some

drop of water,
said,

in

which, as

Mademoiselle de Gournay has already


is

the

whole sun
"

reflected.
!

Poor

child

has she travelled so far in safety on


life

the
;

rough voyage of the


is

which she leads

.'*

hope so

it

the sincere wish of an old and

unknown

friend.

"C
The "old and unknown
reassured.
I

LiVET."

friend" of Erminia Chelli

may

feel

have eaten macaroni

in the society of

Made-

moiselle

Erminia and her family, and since her departure


live in the
is still

from France we

friendly intercourse of letters

the pretty equilibrist


her.

just the

same

as

when he knew
It

The

horse

filled
fills

the thoughts of poor Emilie Loisset, the whole


life

and so the trapeze


is

of Erminia Chelli.

her vocation

when

quite small she

would go under the

table

and swing her


elastic

dolls

upon a trapeze made of a hairpin


net.

and the

from her hair


is

And, on the other hand,


passes her time in

whenever she

not
for

in

the circus she

making bonnets
for

herself

and her

friends.

This talent

millinery replaces

Ingres' violin.

One

has

much more

chance of pleasing her by saying, " bonnet


is,

How

becoming your

Erminia!" than by complimenting her upon her


an
is

talent as

equilibrist.

Erminia

likely to

amass a very large dowry.

Do

you

know

that

^120

per month

may be earned by walking head


?

downwards upon the

ceiling of a circus

In four or five

years' time she will marry.

The
" But there

Equilibrists.

239

is

no hurry," she
this

said,

shaking her head, when

some one mentioned


She was
right.

contingency to her.
sight of her

The

youthful

form flying

through the
ciate

friezes is a

dehght
it is

to those

pagans who appre

pure curved hnes, and

also a subject for meditation


little

to those philosophers to

whom

the

acrobat unconsciously
in

gives a symbolic lesson

when she has exhausted

an ascend-

240

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

ing scale of difficulties


of equilibrist
art,

all

the most unexpected combinations

upright upon her globe, supported by the

trapeze only, she pauses, and

upon

this

vantage point of
is

unsurpassable perfection, feeling sure that nothing more


possible, she smiles, sends a kiss
to her admirers, then abruptly, as

from the

tip of

her fingers

though struck by lightning,

she

falls

into the net.

CHAPTER

X.

THE GYMNASTS.

THE
1888,

tragic accident

which
fall

killed

an unfortunate equiin

librist,

Castagnet, by a

from his cord


the

September,

roused great emotion amongst

public.

Those

persons, even,

who wrongfully

credit the poor acrobats with

practising every vice, cannot restrain their admiration for the

marvellous courage which


terrible occasions.

these

pariahs

display on

these

We

must take advantagre of the


felt

intervals
for

thus produced in the contempt usually


circus artists, to prove to
all

by the public

lovers of fine

physical perform-

ances that this great


of

skill is

not acquired without the practice


least,

many
I

daily virtues, of
is

which temperance ranks


the most admirable.

and

incredible perseverance

have now frequented the society of banquistes and

for

many

years,

am on confidential

terms with them

cannot assert

242

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

too often the very great esteem


is

feel for

them.

Their

art

wholly traditional, and

it

preserves habits of respect and

obedience in their families which, perhaps, can scarcely be

found elsewhere.
the

Of

course there are


like

some black sheep


bully
la

in

band,

some

slave-drivers,

the

whom
'

Nils

Forsberg formerly painted

in a picture

Avant

Loi Talon

which caused a great sensation


it

in

Paris, but the subject of


it

appeared so cruel that the committee dared not admit

to

the Salon.
less

But
than

this is
is

an exceptional

case,

which

is

much

common

usually believed.

The
to

"families"

whom

you see pirouette


scale

in

the arena, vault over fixed bars, and


the
old
patriarchal

the trapezes, keep, as a rule,

customs.

Rehearsal

fills

every hour of the day which can

be spared from the theatre, and this muscular work produces


a healthy physical fatigue, which
is

the best school of morality.

The
of
it

first

business of a family of acrobats that wishes to


tour round the world,
is

succeed in
in

its

to perfect each

member

some

special exercise

which

suits his natural aptitudes.

Some men

are born carpet acrobats, others are attracted by

the fixed bar, others

seem born

for vaulting.

No

mistake
for

must be made
an
artist

at

the debut of a professional education,


to

who wishes
specialist

acquire
first

fame and fortune


teeth.

must

become a

from his

Whatever branch may be decided upon, the carpet


the bar experts, and the trapezeist have always

acrobats,

commenced
universal
is

by training themselves

in

certain

number

of

exercises which form the basis of gymnastics, as the scale

the basis of

all

music.
in

They

consist

learning

the

innumerable

number of

somersaults.

The Gymnasts.

24:

The
is

first

attempted with th^ feel Jirni, that


is

is

to say without

springboard or batoude,

the somersault backward.

This

much

easier to learn than the somersault fo7'ward.

The

neophyte wears a strong tight belt provided with a ring

above each

hip.

Cords are passed through these

rings,

and

are held by two companions in work, enabling

them

to uphold

the gymnast.

The
At

latter strives to turn

round upon the axis

formed by the two cords, gradually decreasing his reliance

upon them.

last

he can dispense with them

entirely.

Before the acrobat attempts the somersault forward., he

must go through the whole

series of exercises in posturing.

24+

Acrobats and Moimtebanks.

First betiding forward ox "posturing," the

hands

laid flat
is

upon

the ground so as to support the body, which the legs opened, the
first

raised with

time
I.

in

the form of a Y, the second

time

in

an elongation of

Then comes bending


in

backwa7'd, in which the

body

is

arched

an inverse sense, the hands on the ground near the heels.

Next
the

follows the curvet, which

is

performed by throwing
the

body suddenly backwards

until

hands touch the

ground.
relaxation

And

at the

moment

they reach the floor a vigorous

of the

muscles of the legs makes the acrobat

rebound upon

his feet.

When
he

any one has mastered these three primeval exercises,


the somersault forzvard without the aid of

may attempt

his hands.

He

must now

rely

upon combining these various

acquirements

in " acts " of his

own

invention that will dazzle

and astonish the

public.

The

classical

performance of a carpet acrobat opens by


It is

bending backward.

continued by a monkey s sornersault

a decomposition of the somersault backward, by the ro7tdade a curvet backwards, and then by a somersault.
But vaulters do not end here
infinite
;

each of them varies

in

an

number of ways by the


of
his

acts of his invention, the

outline

acrobatic

career.

He

introduces
is

an

Arab
lions

somersault (a somersault from the side, which


starting

obtained by
;

from the ground

on

one

foot

only)

the

somersault,

which
in

is

a 7nonkeys somersault forzvard ;


his

the
back,

coward's leap,
raises

which the acrobat, lying upon

himself by

one

effort

of the

loins

the

forward
which

somersatilt,

lioiis

so7?iersault
in air,

without

the

hands,

throws the man, legs

head downwards upon the nape

The Gymnasts.
of his neck

245

the carfs leap, also the sudden spring of an


feet

extended acrobat, which raises him to his


relaxation of the muscles of the spine.

through the

The
carpet

double

somersault
;

cannot

be performed from the

without assistance

the artist must spring from the of the peculiar

shoulders of a companion, or with the aid

spring-board which French banquistes

call

the batoude.

With

246

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

the batoude Auriol cleared twenty-four bayonets with a flying

somersault, ended by a dive

a jump

from a great height.^

With the batoude


horses,

specialists

have bounded over twenty-four


Marais,

and

at

the

gymnasium Du

belonging to

M. Pascaud,
This

last

year an amateur,

M. Mars, performed a
ambition of those

triple somersault.
feat is the realization of the highest

carpet acrobats

whom you

have so often seen grouped

in

an

apotheosis in one of those ku7nan pyramids which rise in a

second through the strength of the gymnasts' biceps, and

which

fall

to pieces like fireworks, in rockets of somersaults.

We

cannot leave the circus floor without allusion to a series

of individuals

who
in

exhibit themselves

by the side of the

genuine acrobats

performances of a special kind.

These are the


those

contortionists, the india-rubber

women

all

who were

formerly

known by

the

more general name

of boneless acrobats.
are

These boneless or
in the

dislocated performers

more numerous

world than one would imagine.

Originated by " Little

Bob

"

Hanlon.

The Gymnasts.

247

Ballet-dancers are
loins

all

dislocated, for

their feet,

legs,
;

and
the

have been disarticulated

to obtain beautiful points

naturalist quadrille-dancers

from Mabille, who are now seen

at the cafd concerts, are also dislocated.

There are some


will

naturally disarticulated men.

All Parisians

remember
*'

in their youth,

a beggar

who was

celebrated as

the

humpback of

the Pont d'Austerlitz."

This mountebank

caused his
liked.

hump to pass from his back to his chest as he The vertebral column turned without any effort from
front,

back to

and from

front to

back again.
coal boats,

He
and

was found

drowned one day between two


is
still

his skeleton

shown

in the

Museum.

But he was an exception.


order to manufacture a dislocated
ball."

One must begin early in man like the " man in the
in diameter, is rolled into

A
rolls

wooden

ball,

about one yard

the arena.

This huge sphere ascends an inclined plane, and


left

from right to

upon

it,

then descends and recom-

mences the ascension


any semblance of

like a living being.

And

truly, for

it

suddenly opens and a dislocated


fatigue,

man

appears, who, without

bows

to the astonished audience.

248

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

one has yet guessed the secret which enables this wonderful contortionist to bend and move his body in so

No

small

a space.

The

bones,

instead

of

being joined by

articulations, are held together

by a fibrous membrane which


in their
flexible,

envelops them like a kind of muff and holds them


sockets.

This membrane, called " a capsule,"

is

very

The Gymnasts.
and

249

is

capable of great elasticity of tension, during childhood

particularly.

By

preserving

and developing

this

natural

disposition, the

abnormal movements can be obtained which

surprise us

amongst acrobats.

The performances
I

of Walter, called the Serpent-man, are

not less extraordinary.


will

not insult you by supposing that you have not seen


this

and applauded

wonderful

artist

it

is,

therefore, for the

A A

250

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

inhabitants of hyperborean countries that


his work.
J.

shall

now

describe

H. Walter appears
as

in

black tights spangled with silver,

classic

an AntlnoUs, nervous as a stag.


friezes with a

He

looks

as
is

though he could reach the

bound, and one

quite surprised to find that he does

not leave the " carpet."


act,

His performance opens by an important and novel


which the bust
is

in

reversed, and the head touches the back of

the knees, whilst the right

hand

seizes

one of the ankles, and


flat

the

left is

extended
startling

in

an inverse sense,
of leaps,
in

upon the ground.

And

the

series

of movements, of conrecalls

tortions,

which

follow,

end

an alarming pose, which


;

the monstrous gargoyles of Gothic sculpture

for the acrobat

drops his

feet,

knots

them under
and
rigid,

his

head,
lips,

and

in

this

attitude, with starting eyes,

open

he resembles

a skull supported on cross-bones.

When we
him upon
J.

were introduced

to

each other,

complimented

his artistic skill.

H. Walter seemed pleased with


thawed, and

my

praises

his British

stiffness
I

we
to

chatted familiarly.

was very curious


had attracted

strosity

know whether this acrobatic monmuch notice from the women. He


is

frankly replied-
" Sir, the chastity

which monks do not always observe

forced upon an artist of

my

class.

You

will

guess that

did

not obtain this complete flexibility in one day.

morning of
I

my

birth

my father commenced
that
I

to

On the very bend my joints.


disI

grew up with the idea

would be the greatest


all

articulated artist of the century, or perhaps of

ages.

never had any other ambition.

With regard

to the point

on

The Gymnasts.
which you question me, the greatest reserve
me,
I

251

is

imposed upon
;

have

all

the appearance of a strong


it
I

man

my

chest

is

wider than your own, but beneath


a child
cage.
;

conceal the lungs of

they are stunted by the daily pressure of


will carry

my
me

thoracic
off

Consumption threatens me, and


I

very

early unless

break

my
me

neck

in

the circus

some evening,
In so

which

should certainly prefer."


acrobat told
all

The
natural

this

without any affectation.


I

and decided a tone that


fate.

did

not feel justified in pitying his


since
I.

But

wished to know what sentiment

could survive, in a being of such mediocre Intellectual culture, his resignation


to

the

sacrifice

of

life,

said

to

him

with
"
I

some

interest

quite understand, dear


that

Monsieur

Walter,

the

applause you receive


it

seems to you, whilst


reward
for

lasts,

a sufficient

your

past But,

sufferings
tell

and

approaching end.

me, when

the fever of the circus has passed away,


in

your hours of leisure and solitude


one,
"
?

like this

do you not curse your

destiny

The Englishman
"
I

smiled quietly.
replied,

have,"
e^intti

he

" a

specific

against

passion
I

which saves
gamble,
sir,

me
time.

from

reflection.

gamble
I

madly

for

whole nights

at

stake the thousands of francs which the managers

252

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

pay

me

every month
"
it
!

worse than

that,

have staked

my

skeleton, and lost

The

terrace of the cafe,

where we were

talking,
;

had become

empty through the

lateness of the hour

the waiters had

already closed the front, and were taking in the chairs.

The Serpent-man
in

rose

and as

stared at

him with wonder

my
"

eyes, he

added
sir.
it

We

are driven from here,


?
I

Will you accompany


occurred."

me

to

my He

hotel

will tell

you how

led

me

to

a family boarding-house in the

Colisee,

which has no customers except the


Paris.
J.

Rue du acrobats who


fairly

pass

through

H. Walter occupied a
floor.

com-

fortable

room on the

first

He

lighted a lamp, and

The Gymnasts.

253

when we were
" It

seated, facing each other,

he continued his

story in these words

happened about

five years
I

ago

was performing

in

London, and every evening


with an
ill

played poker in the taverns


All

luck that would not change.

my

savings

were
to
is

lost,

and when

had no money
which

left

the idea occurred

me
''
'

to insert an advertisement in
in

The Era (you know that


I

our professional newspaper),


J.

said

H. Walter,

the celebrated Serpent-man, will dispose

of his skeleton upon his death for one thousand guineas^


payable at once!
"

On

the

following day

received

visit

from a

cele-

brated surgeon.

He made me

undress, carefully examined

254

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

my

back,

felt

the vertebrae of

my

spine, then

drawing out a

pocket-book, he handed

me

a cheque for a thousand guineas

without a word

"

Alas

followed

my ill-luck my wages.
!

still

pursued me, and the money soon

"It
the

now eighteen months since I lost the last guinea of But if the treasure surgeon's money on the card-table.
is

has gone, the contract

still
I

stands.

In obedience to a formal
this.

clause in the agreement,

always travel with

..."

The Serpent-man

rose,

went

to

his

bed, and,

stooping
it.

down, he drew a long, narrow oak box from under

An

The Gymnasts.

255

address was painted in large black letters upon this queer


violin-case

DOCTOR

London

The
empty.

acrobat raised the

lid,

and

saw that the box was


always travel with

" This," he said, "

is

my

coffin
I

it.

Now, when
the box
?

break
it.

my

neck,

shall

be hurriedly embalmed
paper

and packed into


It

You

see this

gummed
who

inside

contains instructions from the doctor himself,


will lay

written in four languages, for the undertakers,

me out. Look, here are the directions." The Serpent-man stooped down with the lamp
I

in his

hand

knelt beside him, and read


"

The persons who place the

acrobat, J.

H. Walter,
method

in this

coffi.71,

are begged to inject a solution of chloride of mercury

and

acetic acid into his veins, according to the

zised by the

American, Doctor Ure.


"

In default of the above, an

injection

of about fotir quarts

and a half of sulphate of zinc may


preferable, if the coffin will be
road.''

be used.

The

latter is eve^i
07t

more than forty days

the

" Well," said

the acrobat
think of
friend,
it

when
?"

had

finished

reading,

"what do you
"
I

all

think,

my

that

you must have been tempted


in the

more than once

to leave this

box

cloak-room."

256
smiled as
;

Acrobats and Mountebanks.


spoke, hoping to induce the Englishman to

speak out
"

but the Serpent-man replied rather dryly


;

No,

sir

such a temptation has never occurred to

me

a gentleman keeps his word."

n^^'^'S

"^

....

The performance

of carpet acrobatics

is

something

like a state of larva to


flight.

gymnasts.

They

all

aspire to take

The The

first

step in this elevation

is

the "bars."
is

second, the glorious altitude,

" vaulting."
if

Any one who

has put on the belt of a gymnast,

but for

The Gymnasts.
one
has

257

trial,

practised
:

on the

single

bar the following

rudimentary exercises
I.

Breasting the bar, which consists

in gently

drawing the

body, without jerking

it,

to

the level of the bar, by the

contraction of the biceps.


2.

Circling the bar

curling

the body gently over the bar

head forward, holding


3.

tightly with the. hands.

Simultaneous

" upstart "

the

elevation

of

the B B

body

258

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

back
4.
5.

above the
"

bar, with both

arms through a spring from the


"

temps de reins!'

Alternative " tipstart

one

arm

after the other.

Upstart on one
or swinging.
up','

leg,

which has a corollary called German

tipstai't
6.

" Ciitazuay

which

is

obtained by giving a strong


it

spring,

which throws the body forward, brings

back again

in a natural swing,
7.

and

is

completed by an
swings,

" upstart."

Long swings or giant


is

forwards and backwards.


are so rapid that the

This

a series of rapid somersaults round the. bar, executed

with extended arms.

At times they
circles

body describes a succession of


arms of a windmill.
8.

round the bar,

like the

Hough

swings.
is

This exercise resembles the preceding


grasped below the kneecaps, without the

one, but the bar

assistance of the hands.


9.

Hands and feet


;

swings.

This

is

performed backwards

or forwards

the hands and feet are both placed on the bar,

the hands outside, the feet inside.

This

is

a fairly complete

list

of the exercises of an amateur,

but very few of them practise the whole series.


at

They pause

the

" upstarts,"

and

at

onqe pass to the double bars or

parallel bars, which possess the hygienic virtue of widely

opening the chest and developing the biceps.


Circus

gymnastics

usually

parallel bars.

There are a

commence with the triple few acrobats who perform with


I

the single bar and a double " batoude," but

have only seen

one

specialist with the parallel bars


is

Gustave de Penthievre,

who

rarely seen

now

in the

hippodromes.

On

the other hand, the triple parallel bars offer signal

The Gymnasts.

259

-^'*-'o<inyi'v^

advantages
provide
for

for

acrobats,

through

the

opportunities

they

numerous

and very varied exercises.

They

enable several gymnasts to appear together, and thus give

26o

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

the artists breathing-time whilst iheir


their share of the entertainment.

companions perform
intervals

These frequent

of rest are indispensable, on account of the exhaustion which


follows the violent exertions of the gymnasts.

The

series of

acrobatics performed

upon the

fixed triple

bars are called passes.

Amongst them you

will find all

the exercises of the single

bar perfected, enlarged, and multiplied

the

simple

siuijigs,

demipirouette swings, swings on the feet, swings standing,


vatilting
acts,

hands and feet swings, hough swings, somer-

sault sivings, heel swings.


sits

Sometimes the

artist raises himself,

on the

first

bar,

opens his legs and

profits

by the impulse

thus received to spring forward upon the other bar {vaulting


act)
;

sometimes he springs

in recoiling,

and then turns upon

himself to catch the next bar facing him (swing


heel)
;

upon the
his par-

but

it

must be understood that each acrobat has

ticular acts

which are combinations of these exercises suited


personal
strength,

to

his

dexterity and

and blended with

various falls,

somersaults

backwards and forwards, double


etc., etc.

somersaults forwards, double reversed somersaults,

Thefxed bar

is

also the best school of vaulting or flying.

Before Leotard invented the flying trapeze by a stroke of


genius, vaulting exercises were restricted to the riverjumping.

Acrobats have now rejected with some contempt the two


cords which held them prisoners by the wrists
are masters of space.
;

to-day, they

This subject
trapeze

reminds

me

of the

modern kings

of the

the two brothers Volta.


to a

These gymnasts belong


educated
in

good

family.

They were

England

in

one of those country colleges where

THE HANLON-VOLTAS AT THE CRYSTAL PALACE.

The Gymnasts.

261

English boys develop the lobes of their brains and the biceps
of their arms at the same time.

Thanks

to this system,

my

two

friends,

although they are the kings of the fixed bar, can

also read the Iliad in

Greek with great

facility.

They both worked


public gymnasium.

in

a bank, and in the evenings, after


their

dinner, they practised gymnastics for

amusement

in

Naturally supple fine young men, they

made wonderful
them.

progress.

"

manager " who accidentally

saw them perform, proposed making an engagement with

They consulted each other. They laboriously earned Now the 600/. per annum between them in the bank. Barnum offered a salary of 160/. per month.

262

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

The

brothers Volta closed their books, crossed the ocean

with a somersault, and

made

their ddbut in America.

They

joined a band which already possessed two flying trapezists

and an iron

ar^n, the

Hanlons, the genuine pupils of the old

Hanlon-Lees.

The

Voltas' contributions to the entertainment


series of

was a very clever

performances on the fixed bars.

This completed the scale of vaulting exercises.


could

The band

make

the tour of the world in glorious style with the


its

varied accomplishments of

members.
the feet

With the exception of the standing swing and


swing,
all

the exercises of the fixed bar can be performed on

the trapeze.

Some

special swings are also risked, such as the


is

passe ventre, which


trapeze.

executed by throwing one's self over the


is

But the most popular of these exercises

the

simple flight from one trapeze to the other, with a few yards'
interval
to

be crossed between them.

This infatuation

is

explicable, for there is

no doubt that

this

performance gives
apotheosis the

us the

best

opportunity of admirn g as in

beauty ot the
of placing

human
of

form, and this

is

the reason

why

the idea

young girls upon the trapeze was

so quickly grasped.
their
;

With the advent


appearance
in

woman, passion and crime made

the serene atmosphere of the aerial realms

which, like the republic of Aristophanes' Birds, extend beyond


the reach of

human

perversity.

You have
girls
in

all felt

the anxiety
{voltige

which seizes the heart during th^ flight stipported


portettrs),

en

when one

of these

young

hangs by the

feet to

her trapeze
to her

hushes the music, and


of

the sudden silence calls

companion

''Are you ready?''

The youngest

the two acrobats

is

mounted upon her

The Gymnasts
saddle

263

with eye and muscle strained she watches the trapeze,


in

which advances towards her

waves of rhythmical movements

approaching nearer each time.

Suddenly the word

is

given

The
from a

youthful body

launched by the trapeze like a stone

sling, crosses the

whole width of the

circus,

and the

64

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

flying girl clasps the

hands of her companion.

The shock

causes the two bodies to sway together for an instant, then

they free themselves, and with a double somersault reach the


net.

You
of a

can imagine
rival
in

how

easily a jealous girl can rid her-

self

those

few minutes.

An

imperceptible

movement

of the loins, the delay of one-tenth of a second,

and the

girl

flying

through space

is

condemned

to

death.

This misfortune recently happened through an accident, but


there are

some

criminal cases of

it.

One

of these incidents

has been related already.


"

Ohia

"

and " Nella."

The two heroines were called The advertisement styled them


in their aerial

" sisters," but they

were only companions


other with
the

work.
artist-

They
smiles.

detested

each

indescribable

jealousy, in spite of their entry hand in hand and their stage


It

happened that the applause was warmer


for

for Nella,
this

the

vaulter, than

Ohia who caught her

and on

The Gymnasts.
account the miserable
that she resolved to

265

girl

hated her companion so intensely

kill her.

One

day,

therefore,

when

after

the great

spring

Ohia

grasped Nella by her hands, an abrupt movement suddenly


precipitated the

young

girl

outside the net.

Fortunately the shock was not too violent to allow Nella to


catch hold of the cord as she
fell.

She remained suspended,


line.

dazzled for one moment, clinging to the saving

Ohia was

still

swinging

in the friezes.

"

shouts of the audience that her scheme had

failed,

Warned by the she made

one tremendous spring, traversed the whole width of the


circus,

and

fell

shattered upon the palisades of the arena.

Thus another
circus,

proverb, also current in the side-scenes of the

was

verified,
it

warning from

and

this

time the whole world

may

take

" If

you value your bones, never work with

wine or with a woman."


I

once questioned some celebrated acrobats upon a subject


public.

which piques the curiosity of the

We
Adams.

all
I

know by experience that Eves love well-made do not mean the " mashers " with girls' faces, but
and broad
this point of view, the

men

built like the old statues, with supple limbs

chests.

From

gymnast who acquires


I

strength without losing his agility, seems an ideal lover.


therefore asked

them

to tell

me

in

friendly sincerity

if

they

found
"
I

many scented notes in

their dressing-room

every evening.

am

sure," replied Alphonse, the elder of the

two

friends,

the orator of the pair, " that


letters, as
like, that

the tenors do.


is

there

exactly

we receive quite as many loveFrom this you may conclude, if you the same number of practical women
same
individuals write to the c c

as of sentimental ones, unless the

"

266

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

tenors and the gymnasts

and

this

seems very probable

to

me.

"

And

in

what terms do you answer these passionate


dear Alphonse
?

ad-

vances,

my

The Gymnasts.

267
without reading them,"

We
You

throw the

letters into the fire

replied the acrobat.


"

are afraid of being tempted

"
?

"

Of

course

all

excess

is

forbidden

us.

No

one must
It
is

mount
falling

into the friezes without a perfectly clear head.

too easy to miss a spring and


into the net

break one's neck, even by


useful for reassuring the
else.

which
for

is

more

audience and the police than for anything


not our only reason
opinion on the point."

But

this is

avoiding women.

Ask Adolphe's

268
"

Acrobats

and Mountebanks.
because they are badly made,"

We

do not

like

women

replied his comrade, with a grimace of disgust.


I

could not help smiling.

" Well,

my

friend,"

replied, "
;

think you are speaking of


to

them

like a jealous artist


skill,

you object

them because, with


their bodies

very limited

by the exhibition of

flying

through the
all

air

they attract as
It

much applause
is

as

you do with

your

artistic dexterity.

not personal dislike in your


trade jealousy."

case, as

you seem

to think

it is

At
"

this

Alphonse interposed.
is

Adolph

right,"
is

he answered.

"Women
art,

are

badly

made.

A woman

not an object of

but of use.

Look

at her hips

how they exceed the

falling line of the shoulders,

crush the short legs and destroy


sive width.

all

proportion by their exces-

This defect requires concealment by some drapery,

The Gymnasts.
and should prohibit the exhibition of the nude.

269

On

the other

hand the strength of the body, which


hips, a

in

woman

lies in

her

man

carries in his shoulders.

Atlas bears the weight

of the world upon his neck.

Get

up, Adolph,

and show us

your back."

His friend was smoking, but he quietly

laid

down

his

cigarette,

and took

off his shirt.

Alphonse looked

at

him

for

an

instant,

admiring him with the enjoyment of an


lips.

artist,

smile on his
"

You

can put that fellow," he

said, " into the ideal oval

of

the ^^^ upon which Greek sculpture has inscribed the her-

maphrodite, and you will see whether his shoulders destroy


the classic lines of sexless beauty."
aesthetic
I

have often heard these


trapeze artists

truths

expressed

by other

more

coarsely and with less appreciation of art.

270

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

After an interval of some centuries, the

life

of the

gymphilo-

nasium has revived

the

customs which

astonish

modern

readers in the Banquet.


sophers.
It
is

This surprise

is

unworthy of
all

logical

that throughout

ages the same

caus'es

should produce the

same

effects.

The woman

of

antiquity remained in the gynaeceum, and she

was rarely seen

by the outer world.

Woman

is

banished from modern

gymnasiums by her
of the ephebe in the

natural destination of wife, mother, and nurse.

The Greek youth became enamoured

gymnasium, where they appeared nude and beautiful. Modern gymnasts admire their fellow-workers in their dan-

The Gymnasts.
gerous performances with equal enthusiasm.

271

And
inquire

it

would
the

show

little

knowledge of human nature

if

we

how

.t.,if\\<^'

admiration for beauty becomes transformed into the wish to


possess
it,

that

is^

into love.

2/2

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

write the
are

word without

fear of

any misunderstanding.

We

now contemplating

simple, healthy

men who

pass

The Gymnasts.

273

their lives in performing very hard work,

and who are freed

from

sensual

temptation

by physical

fatigue.

As
I)

rule,

74

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

therefore, the passions of

gymnasts are purely sentimental and

platonic

you

will find in

them

first

of

all

the great element

of
is,

all

love

the protection of the weak by the strong.


man underneath
"

There

in fact, in

every pair of acrobats, a male and a female, the

" hero " or bearer, the "

weight of the whole


fides his
life.

" act," to

whom

the "

who supports the man above " con-

The

latter is the

younger, the most supple and

graceful of the two.

He

receives the larger share of the

applause, the

most enthusiastic " bravos."


self-sacrifice

His existence

depends upon the


upholds him.
"
to

and

affection of the

man who

We

must

rely

upon each other," said one of the Hanlons

me one

day, referring to their

young comrade,

"

Bob," the

favourite of the whole troupe.

Translated
"

We

must love each other


legion, like Castor

like the youthful soldiers of the

Theban

and Pollux,

to

whom

legend has

never assigned any mistress."

This conviction of the superior, absolute beauty of man


is

so

bound up
find

in the
all

customs of the gymnasium, that you


of

will

that

men
same

high

culture

who devote them


illustrious

selves to physical exercises,


to the trapeze, the

acquire with their attachment

aesthetic views.

The most
is

example that
Loti.

can quote on this point

certainly Pierre

You have

read his novel of Azyade, and you

know

the

enthusiasm with which he speaks of the gymnasium.

Re-

member, on the other hand, the tenderness of the novelwriter for Frere Vvres, recall the
to the

Pkheurs
will

d' Islande clinging


easily realize the

helm of

their boat,

and you

more

The Gymnasts.

2/5

discipline

by which gymnastics lead an acrobat who cares


man.

for

his profession, to the aesthetic admiration for

For

my own

part until

read the works of Pierre Loti,

never thoroughly understood the epithet which Pindar throws


in the face of

an Olympian victor
"
!

in a lyrical

antistrophe

"

Oh, barren gymnastics

^1,^/.'^

THE members

clowns are the most popular


of the motley crowd

that attracts the audience of the circus,

hippodrome and other places of amusement, where strength and beauty form
the basis of the entertainment.
pirouettes
fill

Their

the house, they are the

" attraction," the great success of the

programme.
numerous,
thirty of

As

they are not vfery

for there are not

more than

them scattered over the globe.

278

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

the directors compete for them at very high salaries. the star-tenors they contract engagements for

Like

many
I

years in

advance, and receive the emoluments of an ambassador, and


their requirements increase with their success.

am

told

by

the agents that their commissions have never been so high as


in the last

few years.
in

Although much appreciated


creation

France, the clown


It

is

not a

of the

Latin

genius.

only invented the three

personages of the comedy deWarte, the three typical masks

from which every expression of the human face arise


the

Pierrot

coward,

Arlequin the

crafty,

and between them, the

perverse Columbine.

During many centuries these three

puppets have moved through every shade and variety of


psychological pantomime.

At

the present time Italian

pantomime

is

an extinct

art.

In

the time of

Watteau the poor masks had already


and
are
their idiosyncrasies

lost their

definite outlines,

had become misty

and dim.

They

now

effaced,

dispelled

by the cloud of
side of the

powder which the clown, launched from the other


Channel, scattered
stage.
in the air as

he tumbled upon the French

Etymologically the clown


pugnacious,
ignorant

is

the rustic, the rough peasant,

and

silly,

who

enlivens

the

sombre

dramas of Shakespeare by
this

his foolish quibbles.

In England

ludicrous personage
;

was the indispensable accessory of

every play

he

is

nearly related to the French Jocrisse,


is

who

also wears the

garb of a well-to-do countryman, and


city folk.

equally

ridiculed

by the

The Shakesperian clown


be found with
all

has not yet disappeared.

He

is

to

his traditional attributes in the three

com-

The Clown.
panics of Hengler's Circus, which travel

279

all

over England,

and

at

Christmas time give simultaneous performances in

London, Liverpool, and Dublin.

remember entering the arena of this national circus one Sunday morning in London, and being considerably surprised
I

'Vri^r^c'^^V
\..^

to

fmd the whole company

in

morning dress assembled

in the

ring.

A black-coated individual,
He was

Bible in hand, was addressing


I

the acrobats.
that

a clergyman.

have been told since


at the

Mr. Hengler exacts punctual attendance

Sunday

services from every

member

of his troupe.
\ki^ jester,

In this traditional house, the Shakesperian clown,


as

he

is

called in the profession,

appears

in

white

tights,

28o

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

ornamented with blue or red patches indiscriminately arranged,


with a short drapery round the hips, and a
head.
fool's

cap on his

Thus

attired,

he does not caper and joke, but declaims

passages from Shakespeare and sings Irish songs which delight


the public in the cheap places.

You can moved from

easily
its

imagine that such a figure could not be

native surroundings.

The

dialect of

Old Tom,

the tirades of

King Lear, would

not please any audience,

except in the United Kingdom.

Some

other work must be

found for foreign engagements.

The

jester, therefore,

looked round to see

if

he could not

gather some useful hints from his stage companions, that might
help to
fill

his travelling bag,


It is

and naturally he studied the

coloured minstrels.

impossible to write a serious history


allusion to these negro

of the clown without


singers.

making some

The modern

clown, acrobat, magician, and panto-

mimist was produced


minstrel.

by the union of the jester and the


round the Quai Voltaire

Lovers of old books, who


last

strolled

winter

may have

noticed in the

window of a

dealer in

curious prints, a collection of

bad chromolithographs from

New York
their old

which attracted and amused the passers by.

They
a

depicted the misfortunes of " coloured men," caricatured by

masters

ridiculous falls
;

into buckets of water

horse kicking a negro in the jaw

gun exploding, blows a

negro into a thousand pieces like Captain Castagnette.

The
foot

mouths with
heads

their

gleaming teeth are always

split

by a

placed across them, the legs are thrown


in

above the woolly

grotesque dances, which seem performed in rhythm

to the blows of a whip.

These coarse

pictures were not signed

The Clown.
by the

281

artist,

they bore the names of the pubHshers only,

Currier and Ives of

New

York.

English pantomime, the extraordinary pantomime of the

Hanlons, Pinauds, Renards, Leovils, Ramys, and Leopolds,

is

considerably influenced by these

slave

gaieties,

by the

monkey-like tricks of the negroes capering


of their cruel masters.

for the

amusement

Freedom has been

granted, the whip no longer inspires the E E

282

Acrobats and Mountebanks.


dances of the blacks, but their jerky gambols so
massa," that they have survived slavery
institution
:

epileptic

crreatly diverted the "


itself in

an essentially American and English

the

Christy Minstrels.
Visit micsic halls

you

will find

on occasional stages a curious


sitting in a semicircle, their

chorus of

men

in

evening dress,

faces blackened with soot.


is

In St. James's

Hall the effect

particularly curious, for

it is

here that Messrs.

Moore and

Burgess,

who have

carried negro minstrelsy to the highest

perfection, exhibit their

company

of coloured minstrels.

back of the stage


artistic

is

occupied by the orchestra.


is

The From an

point,

no pains

spared to seek out and engage


before the public both vocal
vocalists

the best musicians

who come

and instrumental.

Among

the

may be reckoned
in

some of the

finest voices obtainable in

England or

America.

The

singers are seated in a semi-circle, the comic

men
life

are

placed at either end of the row, and these furnish the

and

humour

of the entertainment

they are the comic vocalists,


;

the propounders of quips and tellers of droll stories

their

instruments are the bones and tambourines.

They
butt.

play, sing,

dance a jig and make jokes.

This

is

the
his

duty of the two leaders of the band,

the jester and

Messrs.

Moore and Burgess


the key-note of their

confine their well-recognised

original Christy Minstrel Entertainments to the St. James's

Hall.

It is

programme

that they " never

perform out of London."


place imitators

On

the other hand, their

commonitinerant

become out of the London season


you
will

humourists.

In

the

summer

find

them

on

the

sands

The Clown.
of every sea side town.
trousers

283

Banjo

in

hand, arrayed in the cotton

worn by the

old slaves, always accompanied

by the

black dress coat, an eyeglass in one eye, straw hats on their

vl ^^ <^

blackened heads, they

call

themselves the Ethiopian serenaders.


in the

They

travel in
agile

bands and perform

open

air.

Very

and supple, they repeat

in violent

dances

284

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

species of gymnastics which a Httle resembles the

''

chahtW

of the lower classes in France.


to

The
;

great " split "

is

as familiar

them as the somersaults,

etc

and these two exercises form

the greater part of the pantomime, which the minstrels perform

when they are tired of playing on the banjo. The acrobatic success of the minstrels pointed out a road for these clowns, who were anxious to place a girdle of
somersaults round the terrestrial globe.

The

pirouette had

the advantage of being understood by the spectators in every


land.

The clown

therefore started without any other luggage.

This English emigration dates from about 1865.


the time of the clever entries of vaulting clowns, the whole ring with their capers.
**

This was
starred

who

They
little

vaulted from the


batoude, that
is

carpet,"

and from the great and

to

say,

performed a somersault from a spring-board over a wall

of horses.

In the course of his travels the jester,


learnt the idiom of several countries.

now an acrobat, From a few words inthe

terspersed through his performance, he at once saw that his

English pronunciation
audience.

easily

roused

laughter of the
particularly,
his

His accent amused the Parisians

and

he thought that great capital might be made of

broken

French, and a large salary earned whilst sparing his physical


labour.

The
clowns

corporation at once divided into two branches.

The
to

who found

that their inclinations

prompted them

become "patterers" renounced

the

"carpet" and the

" spring-board " to

speak to the public.


fascinated

Those whom gymnastics had


acrobatic pantomime.

turned towards

The Clown,

28^

And

here

we must weave
Billy

a crown of laurels and immortal

flowers for

Hayden, the incarnate type of a patterer


sure that

clown, and you

may be

some day

his place in the

history of the stage will be quite as important as that of the


late

Deburau.

Billy related the history of his

life

to

me.

He

was born

in

Birmingham, and

his vocation dates

from his early childhood.

He

was one day mounted upon


in the

his father's shoulders to


air,

watch

an acrobat performing
able perch.

open

who ascended

a mov-

The

spectacle

made

a deep impression upon the

286

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

child,

and nothing could prevent him from following

his

vocation.
Billy
is

a pupil of the minstrels.

At

the opening of his

career,
I

he travelled through the world besmeared with black.


first

n Germany, the idea


Pierrot,

occurred to him to powder himself

like

and

at

once found that the change produced a


clever

great

success.

The

expressive

features

previously

concealed by the soot were suddenly disclosed by the powder.

And

the audacity of the clown increased with the encourage-

ment of public applause.


Nearly
all

the jokes with which he has

amused us are

borrowed from the minstrels. They always repeat the scene of


a jester and his butt, the stock-in-trade of the old show.
the circus, the ring-master
is

At

the butt, the sensible

man who

corrects the childish nonsense of the clown.

The clown
very naturally.
tail,

Footeet plays one of these traditional scenes

Mounted upon a
:

horse, with his face to the

he

calls

out

"

Oh,

this

horse hasn't got a head."


:

The
"
"

ring-master gravely answers

" It is

on the other
it

side, clown."

Turn
That

round then."
impossible, clown, you

is

must turn round yourBut

self."

Footeet prefers vaulting to talking.

Billy

Hayden

is

as lazy as his donkey, and prefers jokes to somersaults.


repertoire includes an

His

amusing story of a stolen

child.

When
turns to
"

the star equestrian dismounts from her horse, Billy

M. Loyal and says


aussi, je 6te

Moa

oun

cholie petit demoisel'."

The Clown.
" Allons

287

done

clown

"
!

"

V6

n'^tiez pas la

quand

je suis n^
"
!

Moa,

j'y ete.

Alors

j6 dois savoir

mieux que v6

And
befell

in

a lamentable voice he relates the misfortune which


:

him

"

Labonn'

m6

promenait dans oun vouature d'enfant,

et

ell'

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

s'assoit

sur

le

bi-du-bout-du-banc a causer avec oun


sorciere e

militair'.

Et

alors

oun

viell'

venue avec oun


fill'

pdtit garcon.

Et
ell'

eir a pris

moa

la choli petit'

de

la

vouature d'enfant', et

a mis a la place moa, le vilain petit gar9on, dans la vouature


d'enfant.

Et depuis ce temps-la
^

je

oun

souis

vilain

petit

gar9on

With
chief

this Billy

draws out an indescribable pocket-handkerclown does not amuse, who prefer drama
approbation for the acrobat-clown,

and bursts

into tears.
this

Those whom
to

comedy,

will reserve their

who

has inherited the genius of the Hanlon-Lees.

This radical transformation of style tempted the jester by

many advantages

first,

by replacing words by gestures,

it

suited the natural taciturnity of the

Anglo-Saxon character,
Italian loquacity
;

which cannot dispose of the resources of


then
it

evoked great applause by the unexpected contrast


following the ridiculous knockabout performance of

between the somersault suddenly executed precisely according


to rule,

the tumbling scenes.

In making this evolution the clown exposed himself to the

danger of being confused with the professional gymnast whose


exercises

he reproduced.

This danger however was more

"I too was once a

pretty
"
!

little

young lady."
?

"

Come now
You
!

clown

"

weren't there

when

was born

Well, I was.

So

ought to

know

better than you

" The nurse had taken me out in a perambulator, and she sat down on the end of a bench to talk to a soldier. And then an old witch came by with g little boy. And she took me, the pretty little girl, out of the perambulator, ancj
she put in

my

place,

me, an ugly

little

boy, into the perambulator.


"
!

And

ever

since then I've been an ugly

little

boy

The Clown.
apparent than
traditional

289

real.

The work
Its

of a gymnast

is

of a special
is

character which

no whimsical variation
immediate aim
is

ever

allowed to tamper with.

the display of

daring movements and harmonious attitudes of the


body, and above
all it is

human
clown's

a plastic performance.

The

art,

on the contrary, should aim


It

at

evoking laughter, not

applause.

appeals less to the sense than to the intelligence,


it is

and, unlike gymnastics,


It

not confined by classic fixed rules.

has the right to follow the wildest fancies of a whimsical


It is

imagination.
it

not a Greek

art,

but an English one, and

reflects all the

most curious characteristics of the AngloF F

Saxon people.

290

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

The
choly.

prevailing note in the Anglo-Saxon character

is

melan-

This produced the spleen, the gloomy ideas and the


first

systematic calculated

tinge of

madness which the English


this habitual

themselves

call " eccentricity."

To

sadness the

Anglo-Saxon joins a certain


his

brutality,

which

is

visible

in

all

games,

sullies all his pleasures,

and even gives

to his vices
culti-

a peculiarly sombre hue.

In England gymnastics are

vated, not for the beauty which they bestow

upon the body,


fists first

but for the murderous weight which they give to the


of a boxer.

England

is

the cruel country, where


life."

men

formulated the law of the " struggle for

The Clown.

291

The
himself:
"

clown, the direct son of the Saxon genius, said to

To

please

my

fellow-countrymen,
else,
I

who worship
all

strength

more than anything

must

first

of

be strong, before

tt^r.

can excite their admiration.

will

therefore

commence by
if I

developing
succeed,
it

my

muscles.

As

to

my pantomime,
its

wish

it

to

must, by the incoherence of


its

actions, the whimsiits

calness of

pointless gestures, the automatism of

move-

ments, imitate the terrible spectacle of insanity."

With

this idea, the

English clown has adopted a mourning

livery of black

and

silver,

and has broken the powdered mask

292

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

of Pierrot by two red spots, two bloody patches of boxing and of English consumption.

the insignia

This gloomy

clown

crossed

over to

France upon the

steamers that carried Darwin's books and the commentaries


of Schopenhauer.

For one hour the French imbibed the

sadness of their insular neighbours, the black acrobat was well


received.

Every one

will

remember the welcome which the Magiltons


in Paris.
It

and the Hanlon-Lees received

was the

first

time

The Clown.

293

we had seen English pantomime.


our ideas of
logic,
it

The

exotic art upset

all

was

in direct opposition to all

our innate
it

taste for clearness

and delicate performances.

However,

succeeded, for

it

evoked the only laughter of which we were

at

that time capable, a laughter without merriment, convulsive,


full

of terror.
!

The Hanlon-Lees How many pleasant the name evokes in the memory of Parisians.
on one
side,

artistic

feelings
is

The

troupe

scattered now, throughout the world, there are the Hanlon-Lees

the Hanlon-Volta on another, three of the brothers

are dead, and their comrade Agoust has abandoned

them

to

become manager of the Nouveau Cirque.


This
intelligent

and amiable man, who intends some day


life,

writing the memoirs of his eventful


of the history of the Hanlon-Lees

has told

me

the details

their true history, not the

account of them which you will find in a

little

book published

under the

title

of the

Memoirs of

the Brothers Hanion-Lee,

294

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

with pretty illustrations by

Regamey and

a splendid preface by

the master, Theodore de Banville.

The

six brothers

Hanlon, Thomas, George, William, Alfred,


first

Edward, and Freddy,

met Agoust
as

in

Chicago, about 1865.

They were then working Thomas and Alfred, two


brothers
tights.

trapeze

and carpet acrobats.


built

splendidly

men, were the

" underneath men," the carriers in the pyramid.

The

other

were

rather

puny

they

always
outside

wore

double
another
In

Under

the silk tights

worn

was

suit, called in

the acrobatic vocabulary, a thirty -two franc.

the place of muscles this suit was arranged with fine woollen
fringes,

which were carefully combed upwards so as


;

to obtain
artists, is

good curves

and one of the favourite jokes amongst

to stick pins, provided with little w^hite flags,

into these

false

muscles.

At Chicago

the Hanlons were vaulters, and Agoust juggled.

tight-rope dancer,

and Tanner with

his dogs,

had joined the

company, but the entertainment was


Agoust,

still

too short.

who had been manager

of the

Young Henry

Theatre,

pantomimist and leader of the


that

ballet,

suggested to the Hanlons

they should

perform a pantomime.

He made

them

rehearse two old pieces by Deburau, Harlequin Statue, and

Harlequin Skeleton.
the
little

The experiment
to Paris,

succeeded, and in 1867


it

company went

where

made

its

reputation

by the pantomime of the Village Barber.

The war
been

of 1870 divided every one.

The Hanlons

re-

turned to America with the Strandges company, which had


installed at the Chatelet.

Agoust

enlisted in a

marching

regiment.

They met

again in 1876, at the Walhalla in Berlin.

The

The
Hanlons were trying

Clowfi.

295

to

mount a scene borrowed from the


Do, mi,
sol, do.

minstrels, the celebrated


like negroes.

They were made up

"

What

can you do
"

in this piece

? "

they asked Agoust.


I

He
The

replied,

You have no

conductor.

will place

myself

in the desk."

five

Hanlons then accepted

their old

comrade as a
died in
whilst

partner in the place of their brother Thomas,

who had

America.

Thomas
It

H anion
life,

had

fallen

at

Cincinnati
his

making the spring for


balustrade.

and had broken

head against the

had been mended somehow, but he suffered


his brothers

intense pain
his head.
it,

when

jumped with both

feet

upon

He
still

had complained, saying that he could not bear


continued this performance.

but he

At

the end of a

few months he went mad.

The
ten

brothers

H anion
till

were always a band of

terribly

hard

workers.
in the

Every day, except Sunday, they rehearsed from


morning,

two

and

from four

till

six in the

afternoons.

When

they were tired of vaulting they sat

down
(the

and worked mentally.

"My
leader)

boys, never drink before a performance,"

George

would say

to them.

" After

it

is

over,

do whatever

you

like."
Irish,

The Hanlons were


sometimes
after

and were supposed


theatre.

to drink deeply
if

leaving

the

But

there

were

excesses they were utilised, for

when they met on

the following

day, they related their dreams to each other and endeavoured


to construct a play out of them.

Do,

7ni,

sol,

do met with

extraordinary success at
for

the

Folies-Bergeres.

The Hanlons had been engaged

one

296

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

month

at

a salary of z^o, but the

first

evening after the

performance, they signed an agreement for

^600

per month,

and played
Do, mi,
formed
in

their
sol,

pantomime

for thirteen

months running.

do and the Journey in Switzerland were per-

Belgium and England with extraordinary success.

In the latter country Agoust separated from his companions.

English pantomime does not require any tragic incidents


order to
fill

in

us

with

admiration and
artists in

wonder.
Paris,

We

have

lately seen

two companies of

the Leopolds

and the Pinauds, who recalled the best days of the HanlonLees.
I

am

thinking chiefiy of the Pinauds,


I

who

are ex-

ceptionally clever.

made

the acquaintance of these three


at

talented

American actors whilst they were

the Folies-

Bergeres.

They

are not brothers, but friends, and they are


I

thorough gentlemen.

say this quite earnestly, for

if

you

ENTRY OF CLOWNS

The Clown.
meet them
not feel at
in the
all

297

American Minister's drawing-room you

will

surprised to find

them
art,

there.
it

They

are devoted to their


it

extol

with

much

enthu-

siasm, and discuss

like artists

who have

deliberately adopted

it,

and who exert

all

their inventive faculties in the production


full

of their pantomime and in bringing their unique idea into


relief.
I

saw

this strange

performance several times running


it.

and should

find great difficulty in analysing

It consists

of

a series of disjointed actions placed side by side, accompanied

by rapid changes of costume, mad


disguises.

pursuits,

and grotesque

gentleman

is

playing a guitar,

but he

is

constantly

G G

298

Ac7'obats

and Aloimtebanks.

interrupted by the entry and exit of strange individuals leading


animals, which

are

all

musical

instruments.

Everything

is

musical in this pantomime

the pig that the peasant drags


The
last part

after
fires

him, the carriage of the cannon with which a malefactor

a shell at the back of the guitarist.

of the farce

The Clown.

299

is

filled

with the misfortunes of the peasant with the pig.


first

In the

place the rustic


at

is

roughly attacked by a

bull,

which aims violent blows

his

umbrella with

its

horns.

The
tail

peasant valiantly resists the blows from the horns and


it

of the animal, drives

off,

and proud of

his victory, sits

Jiy^A^e^

down
flies

to rest with a triumphant air.

But, alas, an ill-disposed

jester sets fire to

John

Bull's hat,

it

explodes like a petard and


lifts

into the friezes.

In despair the peasant


is

his

arms

to

heaven.
ceiling

His prayer

answered immediately.
rain of hats

As though

the

were a horn of plenty, a


stage.

and caps descends

upon the

But they are the crushed shabby hats of

bookmakers and poor Irishmen, a lot of those formless headgear, which are only seen in London, where the workman has
no
distinctive head-dress, but puts

on the

cast-off

garments of

300

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

the rich, thus giving to his poverty the appearance of a mas-

querade.

The

peasant quickly
fits

tries

on about twenty of the

hats, but not

one of them

his head.

Again he

Hfts his

arms
falls.

to

heaven with a gesture of despair, and the curtain

With

the

mania which we Frenchmen have of


have a meaning
in spite of

insisting
all

that everything should

ap-

pearances,

asked the Pinauds what their pantomime

signified.

" Absolutely nothing," replied

one of them.

"

On

the contrary,

we

try to destroy all connection

between the scenes of our

entertainment.

We

only wish to produce upon the audience

the impression of violent terror and madness.

And

therefore

we

represent a man, alarmed by the successive apparitions of

animals which play music

when they

are touched."

listened

The Clown.
quietly, but

\o\

could not help


I

remembering the invariable


at the police station

question, which

had heard the doctor

ask the drunken maniacs


the streets
"

whom

the police had picked up in

You
"
?

see beasts, do you not, animals that

swarm round

you

V!^'*

They

all

reply in the affirmative, hanging

down

their heads.

These drunken

hallucinations, these apparitions of animals,

are the framework of the English pantomime, the terrible


visions of a gin-drinker

who has

rolled into a gutter at the

door of a drinking bar.

The

Craggs, "gentlemen acrobats," also appeared at the

Folies-Bergeres.

They came from New York, where they had made a great They had also made large profits during their six success.

302

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

weeks' engagement, for they

received
file, all

loo dollars a night.


the seven, wearing
in a line to

They

enter the stage in

Indian

evening dress and white

ties.

They come forward


;

the front of the stage, and bend their heads

you think that

they are going to bow, simply like you or

I.

Instead they

make a
ing.

somersault.

Seven somersaults forward.


if

They
is

are

so quickly executed that every one present asks

he

dream!

Very

correctly executed, notwithstanding, very correctly


is

Not one smooth head

ruffled,

not one white

tie

unloosed,

not a shirt front creased.

We

must however believe that the coat inconveniences the


in their

gentlemen

work, for with very leisurely movements,

The Clown.
and perfect
stage,
indifference, the

303

seven Craggs go to the back of the

and

there, one, two, three, in time, as


off their coats

though performing
in fourteen

an exercise, they take


shirt sleeves.

and appear

And

from that moment,

for the

space of half an hour, they


feats.
fall

execute the most wonderful acrobatic

The seven Craggs mount upon


like

each other, then

away

houses built of cards.

MM.

Craggs senior turn

MM.
head

Craggs junior round


always has the legs

their arms.

One

half of the

Craggs

in the air, whilst the other half is


!

downwards.

And what deportment how

completely

it

differs

from the smiles, kisses thrown

to the public,

and

rolling eyes

304

Ac7'obats

and Mountebanks.
that in the Molier Circus,

of the Italian acrobat

We shall see
us,

authentic gentlemen have been converted into passable clowns.

Messrs. Craggs have proved to


that

a more unexpected

fact,

perfect

gentlemen

can

be

made

from

professional

clowns.

/^u.,...

Since
1

it is

my

mission to betray the secrets confided to me,

will tell the public, the

whole world, that the Craggs are not


to believe, but a family
little sister

seven brothers, as

we might be tempted

consisting of the father, six sons, and one

Cragg.

Mr. Cragg, the

father, is nearly forty-two years old,

he looks

like the brother of his eldest son,

who

is

not yet twenty-four.

The

little
is

girl

who

so bravely wears the black coat asserts


I

that she

fourteen.

kissed her, after the performance, and

complimented her most sincerely.

The Clown.
"

305

She

is

little

Australian," said her father, smiling kindly

at her.

"
'*

An

Australian, Mr.

Cragg

"
?
I

Yes, she was born at Sydney, whilst her brothers and


in

were performing

New

Zealand and China."

The Craggs have just returned from Pekin. They have travelled round the world, with
their buttonholes,

gardenias in

and Barnum has thrown golden bridges

across the ocean for them.


I

told

you that the time had come

for writing a

monograph

of the clown-king

II

II

^-^^

CHAPTER
THE
p R
I

XII.

VAT

p:

circus.
become a

WHILST
man
to

the acrobat was endeavouring to

of the world, the

man

of the world was becom-

ing an excellent acrobat.

have

their Leotard.

The " governing classes " determined The gentleman quitted his stall in the

circus to ascend the

pad and the trapeze.

3o8

Acrobats ai:d Mountebanks.

Lieutenant Viaud
the
first

in

literature

Pierre Loti

was

one of

to achieve this

metamorphosis.

Those who have read


will

his

novels with

little

attention

know

the high

value

he places upon human beauty.

Azyadde
a
little

particularly, contains

whole pages,
in

infinitely curious,
in

disquieting,

very pagan

their candour,

which

The Private

Circus.

309

gymnastics are extolled with technical knowledge and

lyric

warmth.

M.

Pierre Loti thinks, with the Platonics, that the

body

should be formed and embellished with as


the intelligence.

much

refinement as

Certain of the superiority of his mind, he

wished that

this cerebral strength should

be served by the

muscles of an athlete, and worked with indefatigable patience


to correct in himself the

weakness of nature.

And

he has really transformed his body by the practice of

gymnastics.

Now,

well set up, although of

he produces an impression of strength


that in

medium height, and agility. One feels


which
raises a

him

exists that spring of elasticity

body

from the

soil

and wrests

it

from the laws of gravitation.


has been said, Pierre
Loti joined

And

indeed, or so

it

a troupe of acrobats a few years ago, and appeared as a


trapeze " novelty " in a circus in the south of France.

The

Naval Ministry would have been agitated by


Is this story true
"i

this whim....

At

all

events

it is

probable, and

it

proves

and

this is all that

concerns us

the
of

high esteem which, at the present time, a


for

gentleman can

feel

an art which the

last

generation

decidedly ignored too much.

The men The


world.

taste,

even,

who
is

clearly

perceived

the

picturesque side of a circus, were not too numerous.


collection

of

M. Louis

perhaps unique

in

the

Paul Ginisty,
his

who

has examined these treasures, has related

impressions, with

much

ability

and grace,

in

the Dietc

Bibelot,
"

Do

you know," he

says, " the

Montchanin Circus

3IO

Acrobats mid Mountebanks.

"

You do

not go into

it

through a large entrance, you need


little hotel.

only knock at the door of a charming

You do

not

The Private
find
in
it

Circus,

any of those odours usually noticed


it

in

hippique

establishments, because
horses.

contains neither arena, stables, nor


is

The

title

of 'circus'

simply the familiar

name
a

given to the collection of an old amateur,

who

dwells in

calm quiet street

in the

Quartier de Villiers, and

who has

really a passion for everything relating to equestrian exhibitions.

does.

No He

one possesses as many


has not only

traditions of circus art as he


all

known

those

who

for

thirty or

thirty-five years

have distinguished themselves

in the

arena

but he has also lived with every dynasty of ring-masters,

Hercules and jugglers of the


himself with

past.

In

fact,

he has surrounded
of prints and
It includes

an
all

infinitely

curious

collection

documents of

ages referring to the

circus.

portraits of all the masters, specimens of costumes, placards,

programmes, and advertisements of


"

'

phenomena.'

Some of these

prints,

drawings by Carle Vernet, engravings


;

of Grimaldi and Debucourt, are artistically interesting


are simply typical.

others

There

is

not one corner of the h6tel

without some of these pleasing designs."

Another lover of the

circus,

no longer content with collecting

portfolios full of beautiful equestrian placards, determined to

quietly live the healthy existence of a circus performer for his

own amusement.

When

first

the public read in the paragraphs

of the society papers that Sefior Molieros had built a circus,


in his private house, in

which he was ring-master, and trained


other performances, people

horses
said
:

for

the haute ^cole and

"It

is

simply a
is

whim

of a Spanish grandee."
is

The

truth

that Sefior Molieros


is

really

named Ernest

Molier, that he

a Manceau, and that possessing a large

3T2

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

>it

'

fortune, he prefers spending

it

upon horses that he


him.

loves,

rather than with gamblers,

who bore
for

Not every one who asked

admittance to the small hotel

The Private
in the

Circus.

313

Rue de Boulogne

obtained

it.

Molier's intrepidity led

him

to prefer vicious horses,

and
"

difficulties

only increased his

eagerness to conquer them.

He was never happier than when


to

some dangerous animal


Anthony he would have
him
to disobey
"
!

that

no one had hitherto ventured

mount, would obey his eyes and his lightest touch.

Like

rather killed the horse than allowed

Ernest Molier has often told


profession from books.

me

that he did not learn his

You have

seen too in the perusal of


is

these monographs, that the science of the circus


traditional.

entirely

But you would never guess with how much


have learnt by experience how unwillingly he

suspicious jealousy the banquiste defends the guardianship of


his secrets.
I

confides even a few items of his knowledge to a writer,

can never be a rival

and from

this

who can imagine how much


integrity

he would

distrust a horseman.

Only Molier's
to

and

military frankness enabled

him

overcome

this dislike.

Besides, Molier has the circus genius, and a

man

of genius

can dispense with masters.


In the

Rue Blanche

his stable

overcrowded him.

Air and

space were both lacking.

In 1879 he therefore transported his

luggage and caravan to Rue Benouville, at the gate of the Bois,

house, fencing hall and stables sprang from the


built

soil

as

though

by magic.

The

riding-school

was ornamented

with the decorations of the fete of the Paris- Murcie and was

converted into a regular circus.


for the use of privileged spectators

A
;

few boxes were added

no one then foresaw the


in

wonderful success obtained by the meetings

the

Rue de

Baron de Vaux, Les Homines de Cheial.


I
I

H
Bcnouville
of friends.
;

Acfobats and Mountebanks.

the preparations were only

made

for the reception

They came

in

crowds

to visit the hospitable mansion.

The

fencing hall was opened to

them

they fenced, vaulted,


trapeze.

practised with the dumb-bells and

mounted the

But

Molier, faithful to his passion, devoted himself to his horses.

He

trained Arlequin, a dappled grey Russian horse, in the

The Private
arts of the haute dcole,

Circus.

315

which consist

in

performing the Spanish

walk and

trot, in

galloping, cantering, changing feet, balancing

on the fore

legs, as well as

on the hind quarters

^
;

"

and also

Blondin, a superb

Norman

chestnut, with a light

mane and

Baron de Vaux, Les Homines de Cheval.

i6

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

tail,

a horse trained in the haute ecole almost in the same style

as Arlequin."

^^^.-

Molier also trained equestrians for the pad and the haute
dcole.

His

first

pupil

was the pretty Mademoiselle de Treves.

The Private

Circus,

3^7
exceptionally good

He placed
rider,

her on a horse, and

made her an

capable of riding standing, on a bare-backed horse and


4cole.

of leaping over barriers, in the best style of the haute

Then

followed Mademoiselle Irma Viollat, one of the ornaments

of the corps de ballet.

The master

taught her to repeat on

horseback

all

the dances that she excelled in upon the stage.


;

Insensibly a crowd of amateurs had gathered round Molier

and they formed a complete company.


day yielded
to the entreaties of his
in his circus.

At

last

Molier one
to

comrades and consented

give a performance

3i8

Ac7'obats

and Mountebanks.

It

was

quite understood

that

it

was

to

be a private

entertainment.

The Private

Circus.

319

All Paris tried to get

in.

Artists and society people broke

open the doors.

320

Acrobals and Moimtebanks.

They

left

the circus

in

great astonishment,

and loudly

proclaimed their admiration.

Of course,
had been
scandal.
for abuse.
left

the newspapers were

full

of

It.

The

people
it

who

out were very severe.

They

declared

was a
Roche-

Noblemen playing
"

at acrobatics
?

were an easy subject


la

What do you

say

Messrs Hubert de

foucauld, Martel, de Saint-Aldegonde, de Maulde, de Visocq,

de Sain te- Marie, Courtay, d'Arquevilliers and de Pully had


appeared
in

spangled tights

"
?

They recalled the Romans during the decadence, and M. Prudhomme crossed his arms upon his breast in the attitude
of the philosopher of Couture.

Since then,

men have

realized that these acrobatic

amuse-

ments were only the


ended

artistic

form,

the

blast

of trumpets

preceding the vanguard of the revolution, which has just


in the

formation of the Society of Physical Education.

Molier and his friends, who, with legitimate pride, remember


that

on one occasion they presented the Duchesse d'Uzes with

50,000 francs for the benefit of the Hospital for Incurables,


claim, with

some

reason, a share in influencing this national


certainly rendered bodily exercises fashionis

movement.

They

able once more, and this


routine
is

a great deal in a country where

the only queen that has never been dethroned.


tirade of
to

Moreover the warm applause which greeted the


the

Brettigny

in

the R&ooltee last winter,

proved

the

acrobats of the Cirque Molier that they had the opinion of the public.

won

their cause in

You may remember


the witticisms of

the

indignant tirade
his favourite
:

in

which the

gentleman acrobat defends

amusement against

Madame Herbeau

\/~.

"''T^'' ivfr-triifT:

4:

,.M,|

M.

ERNEST MOLIER.

The Private
"

Circus.

321

What do you want


?

man

of our class to do at the present

time

Politics are

prohibited.

They

are

monopolized by

9><>

r^;

,tw

r.r
?!'-

>

other buffoons, whose exercises are


the spectators and not so

much more dangerous for amusing. The army ? Well, it is


courage, and
I

a refuge for those

who have

have belonged K K

32 2

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

to

it.

But there was too


?
I

little

to

do

in

time of peace.

Literature
that
I

should not
to

know how
adopt
I
it.

to begin,

and

dare

own
than

would not deign

Naturalism
it

is

too dull,
life

and dilettantism too


to write about
it.

sterile.

find

better to enjoy

revive

it.

You say that I degrade my race ? Nay, I You know the language used by the rhetors and
regenerate this corrupt youth

journalists in describing the corrupt scions of the old aristocracy.

Well,

we

will

We

are strong,

our muscles are like those of the street porters, of our ancestors
the

Frank

warriors, of the
^

companions of Charlemagne, who

were only superb brutes."

Molier and his friends have triumphed without noise, just as


they resisted the
bluster.

ill-humour

of

foolish

grumblers without

During the

last ten

years

this clever
It

troupe of amateurs

has wonderfully increased.

now includes two new star equestrians Mademoiselle Blanche Lamidey and Miss Anna. You have probably seen Mazeppa performed in a circus, at

least

once

in

your

life,

but, since
girl,

Miss

Ada Menken, you have


in

never seen a very young

thrown on her back, held by one


the sand, and in this

foot only, her loosened hair

dragging

dangerous

position

leaping with
barriers.
left

her

galloping

horse

an

arrangement of several

Nor
seen a

since

Jenny O'Brien

us for America have

woman
how

ride standing

upon two horses

we ever with as much

dainty jauntiness, self-possession and audacity as Miss Anna.

And
will

then

well she dresses

Lovers of Florentine bronzes


grey
tights,

never forget a certain

suit of

a harlequin's

Jules Lemaitre,

Revoltce,

Act

I.,

Sc. 3.

M;>1..\../..|^

>

324

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

costume, cut low and heart shaped at the neck, with greaves
of the same grey tint below the knees.

Molier has grouped a number of pretty women, actresses,

Tfie

Private

Circus.

325

artists,
girls.

and young men of the world round these two charming

Amongst

the ladies are Mesdemoiselles Lavigne and


Felicia Mallet,

Desoder from the Palais Royal, Mademoiselle

Mademoiselle Renee Maupin, from the Opera, Jeanne Becker,

Lea d'Asco,

etc.

; amongst

the

men

Messrs.

Frederic

Vavasseur, Jules Ravaut, Arthus,


Craffty, Goubie, Pantelli, J.

Gerbaut,
I

Adrien Marie,

Lewis-Brown.

must apologize

to those

whom

forget to name.

With these resources the performance


easily arranged,

of a

pantomime was

and these spectacles are one of the chief

:26

Acrobati and Mountebanks.

attractions of the entertainments given in the


It

Rue

Benouville.
first trial

was here

that FeHcien

Champsaur made the

of

contemporary pantomime by which he amuses us without


introducing the form of Pierrot or the bat of Harlequin.

Why," he reflected, people who annually fill


**

" should

we show
?

the fashionable

the boxes of the Molier,

some

old

fairy story

remounted

in a

new form

Men

of the present

day with money and audacity accomplish greater prodigies


than the magicians of old."

"

The Private Circus.

^27
his contemporaries

at

M. Champsaur work and this

resolved
is

to

show us

the plot of his pantomime


Rivolta, from the Eden, apfor her course.

The charming Mademoiselle


peared disguised as a
little

Spring looking
to
fill

No

one had thought of using her

a lake, rush

down

waterfall or turn a mill.

She therefore wandered about the


tears.

Cirque Molier, shedding floods of

Good Luck, who never


speculators
in

likes to see pretty girls cry, led

two
each

the

same
little

direction.

They remark
there's

to

other

"Look!
the bank
"
"
!

here's a
"

Spring!

And

no casino on

No No

race

game

!"

gambling house
this little

"
!

"

Cannot
not,

Spring cure some

illness
!

?"

"If

she

is

the only one of her kind

To

satisfy

themselves on this point they then take Madeher to the house of

moiselle Rivolta's hand, lead

Madame

Dezoder, a lady doctor


at the door.

in

the

same neighbourhood, and knock


Mademoiselle
"
!

Armed with
Rivolta.

a goblet,

Madame Dezoder tastes

After carefully testing her, her gesture says " Pooh

"What
will bottle
will

does that matter?" replied the bankers.

"We
she

Mademoiselle Rivolta and, with a good


,

label,

cure as well as her companions."

No

sooner said than


for the

it

was done.

And

since a

godmother

was required

new Spring launched upon

the world, the

bankers fetch Fortune, Mademoiselle Renee Maupin, from


the

Opera

328

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

Ah
I

what a

delightful person

always liked Fortune instinctively, before


I

knew her

but since

have seen her

feet, figure,

and eyes

z-^

Iff ?1

'V

iH-'f*^

You They
**

shall cure

everything
bottle
in

"
!

Fortune assured the Spring.


it

placed

the

the doctor's house and in


like a saint in her shrine.

Mademoiselle Rivolta, who looked

Then

the procession of those

wounded by
pantomime

Life [Eremtes

de la Vie)

this is the title of the

commences.

"

The Private

Circus.

329

They are all invalided by love first, a number of pretty girls who have flirted too much then all the gentlemen who have been wounded by these flirtations. Love himself comes to the Spring.
: ;

He
way.
*'

is

very

ill.

His poor

little

wings hang down

his

back

in

a lamentable

Douche him
child
is

Douche him
in the

The

dipped

water and

is

drawn out

trans-

formed into a Farnese Hercules, with enormous muscles which


stand out
in

huge

rolls

upon

his

arms from the shoulder to the

elbow.

The

entertainment closes by a procession accompanied by

a blast of trumpets, at the end of which appears the Golden


Calf, led
I

by Fortune with a
this

leash.
in prefer-

have quoted

pantomime by M. Champsaur

ence to others of more recent date which have been equally


successful, because
it

clearly indicates the nature of the enter-

tainment given in the Cirque Molier.

People see and perform

in the

Rue

Benouville pieces that


;

could not be played or shown elsewhere

for here the audi-

ence and the actors are

all

people of the same education, the


other.

same surroundings, who know each

The
were.

doors have been more widely opened than they formerly

But they are

still

closely

guarded,

the

members of
in their

the society intend to amuse themselves as they please

own

circle,

and

to exclude

anything that offends them.

For

instance,

you

will not find either at the rehearsals or at

the performances in the


the scenes, the

Rue

Benouville in the boxes or behind


professional actor.

shadow of a

L L

\30

Acrobats and Mountebanks.

W0%
fir

ii'5v\

The door is closed against theatrical men. What even " Chose " and " Machin ? "
!

The Private

Circus.

Zl"^

Even for them. The "cross" and


le

the banner are both useless.

Monsieur
is

Socidiaire has vainly tried to force a door which

half

open for the banquistes

voice has cried to


sir
!

him from the

trapeze, "

We

are very

sorry,

But we have retained the prejudices of the

comedians."

INDEX.
Bretonniere (Guy de
BRIOCHI&, 86
la), ix

Agoust, 34, 224, 293, 294, 295, 296 Agrenieff (d*), 200 Aliard, 86 Allen, 20 Alphonse, 265-269 Alphonsine (Lady), 212

BUCQUET,

ix

Buffalo-Bill, 10, 204-206 Buffon (de), 126

Burgess, 282

Anciou

(Miss), 8

Arabelle, 74 Archimedes, 113 Arquevilliers (d'), 320 Arthus, 325


Artist {der),
7,

Callias, 64

Carrabilliat, 42

Carver

(Dr.), 15

Cephissodote, 77 Chable, 41, 42

Asco (Lea
Auriol,

d'),

13,

325 15, 246

B
Bailey (J. A.), 17 Banville (de), 3, 296 Barlow, 20

Chadwick, 28 Cham, 216, 217 Champsaur, 326-329 Chelli (Emilio), 233 Chelli (Erminia), 60, 232-240 Chung, 124-126 Cladel (Leon), 140, 141 Clam, 91, 92-96
305

Barnum
Bayard Becker

(P. T.), 10, 16-20, 261,

(Emile), 100

Cocherie, 89, 91 Cody (W. R), 206

(Jeanne), 325 Berberie, 172, 193


81, 84, 85,

CoQUELiN CoQUELiN
86

ain^, 91

cadet, 120

Bermont,

Bertini (Suzanne), 74 Bertrand, 86

CORRADINI, 122 CORSO, 193


CORVI, 26, 117, 118, 120

BiDEL

(Francois), 26, 27, 130, 143-146,

153-157 Bi^viLLE (Berthe), 74 Blanche (Ada), 215

COURTAY, 320 Couture, 118, 320 Craffty, 325 Craggs, 300-305

Blondin, 2x6, 217

Bone

(Colonel), 146

D
74, 76

BoNHEUR-(Rosa), 144 Bonnefois (Melchior), bonnetty, i 27-131 Boulmiers, 85

Dacier (Mme),

195, 196

Daryl

(Philippe), 160

Darwin, 117

.M

334
Deburau, 294
Delille, 23, 96, 100

Index.

Hayden

(Billy), 60, 121, 285,

288

Desoder, 327 Detaille (Edouard), 152 Dominique, 86

Hengler, 279 Hervieu (Paul),


157 HiTZIG, 10

152, letter from, 152-

DuDLAY

(Marguerite), 169-172
vii

Dalseme,

Homer, 120 HoucKE, 25, 194, 198-200 Houdin (Robert), 102


I

E
Elijah (Prophet), 106
ELLEVANTli;MIE, 23

Ibrahim (Lady), 219-221


253
J

Era

{The), 4,

5, 6, 8,

ESEUDIER, vi EXALTIER, 41

Jacllev

(family), 12, 13

F
Fatma, 72 FOOTEET, 286

Joseph, 69, 70 Jumbo, 167

K
242

FORSBERG

(Nils),

Francois, (Monsieur), 60, 61, 62, 71 Franconi (Chs.), 168, 169 Franconi (Laurent), 168

KiNNER, 63 KlANG, 117

KoLTA

(de),

102-105
7

Franconi (Victor), Frankloff, 212 Friedlander, 20

13, 14, 162,

168

Krauss (C),

L
La Bruy^re, 215 La Grille, 86
Lalanne, 13 Lamidey (Blanche), 322
Lavigne, 325

G
Gallici, 96

Gautier (The'ophile), 131 Gerbaut, 325


Gibson, 63 GiNiSTY (Paul), 309

Ledger, 4
LEHNEtsr (Jacob), 62

GoNCOURT

(de), vii

Goubie, 325 Griffiths, 122

Lemaitre

(Jules), 100, 105, 131,

322

LEOPOLD, 296 Leotard, 15, 260, 207

H
Hanlon-Lees, 292-296 Harris, 124

Leovils, 281

Le Roux (Hugues), Levy (Chs.), 20 L^VY (6mile), 20

Letter to 152-157

Index,

335

Lewis (Brown), 325


LiLiANNE, 15

N
Nella
(Miss), 264, 265

LiNON
LiVET

(Rose), 74
(G.),

New

York Mirror, 6

LlNSKY, 13

238
(brothers), it;, 122

Nine (La Petite), 64 Nouma-Hava, 138


160
173,

LocKHART
LoissET

(Clotilde),

I.oissET (Emilie), i6o, t6r, 162,

238

Oakley
(Albert), ix

(Annie), 206, 207

LoNDE

O'Brien, 180

LoTi (Pierre), 274, 275, 308, 309 Louis (Mr.), 309

Oceana, 218, 219, 233 Octave, 86


Ohia, 264, 265

Loyal (Mr.), 120, 162-1 66, 181 LuT^CE (Mdlle.), 73, 74


Lycurgus, 77

P
Pantelli, 325

M
Mabille, 247 Magilton, 293

Paquerette,
Paravicini, 10

Mallet (Felicia), 325 Marie (Adrien), 325

Parfaict (fr^res), 85 Paulina (princess), 65, 66, 67, Pezon (Adrien), 151 Pezon(J. B.) 138, 140-143. 150
Philippe, 40, 57

Mars

(Mr.), 246
75,

Marseille,

76

M artel,
Maulde

320 Mathieu, ix
(de),

320

Maupassant (de), 146 Maupin (Ren^e), 325, 3 27

PiNAUDs, 296, 300 Pindar, 194 Plutarch, 77, 122 Pluvinel, 168 Prince, t8i, 182 PuLLi (de), 320

Maura

(Franck), 225

Maurice, 86 Mengal, 32

R
Ramy, 281
Revue
(/<?),

Menken

(Ada), 322

Metra, 35
Midgetts, 64 Miette, II 4-1 16 MiREILLE, 75, 76

6, 7

Ravaut

(Jules),

325

Regamey, 294 Regent, 172

MiTE (General), 64, 65 MOLIER (E.), 173, 175,


322, 324, 326

Renan
311-317, 320,

(Ernest), 16, 105

MOORE, 282 Moscou, 168-172

Renards, 231 Renz, 173 Revest (J. B.), 26


RiGO, 55

33^
.RivoLTA (Mile.), 327, 328

Index.

U
la),

Rochefoucauld (Hubert de Romanes (G. T.). 108


ROSINSKY, 10-13 Rossi (Adele), 177, 179 RoussEiL (Roselia), 147 RUGGIERI, 204

320
Union mutuelle, 24,
26, 27, 28, 31

UzES (duchesse

d'),

320

V
Vaux
(baron de), 168
(F.),

Vavasseur
S
Sacqui, 215

325

Vega (Antonio), 74 Veron (Pierre), 216


Violat (Irma), 317
Virgil, 108

Saint-Aldegonde, 320 Sainte-Marie (de), 320 Saint-Senock, ix Salsbury, 10, 35, 206
Sari, 12, 13

VissocQ

(de),

320

Vivien, 23 Volt a, 260-262 Voyageur forain, 23, 25, 26, 27, 30, 31

Selle, 86

Severus, 224, 225 Shakspeare, 278


SiRIUS, 117

W
Walter (J. H.), 249-256 Warner, 10 Watteau, 278
Wild, 10

Skobeleff, 200, 201, 204 Sophocles, 196

Sou VARY, 63 Stenegry, 73, 74

WoRENZoFF, 74 WULFF, 10

T
Th]o (Mme.), 76 Theocritus, 77 Thomas, 200

Y
Yotshitatro, 225

Young Young

(Brigham), 12
(Chs.),

124

KICHARD CLAY AND SONS, LIMITED, LONDON AND BUNGAY

r.

+J

o u o

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO

LIBRARY

o o
Cv2

Oi

U
CQ

-P

Do
re

not

move

H -P

3 o s
CO

the card

from

this

&-P

i So

Pocket.

5
Acme
to 00 c5
Under
Library Card Pocket Pat. " Ref. Index File."

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