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Mademoiselle Laprévotte. From then His character, as I knew it, had as on I used to see him every morning, when many sides as his great genius. He we would hang pictures and discuss was above all the personification of prints and events in my life — for his,
for his, kindness, with a tremendous sense of he said, was over. His friend Prouté, the brotherhood of man. For instance, who owned a shop on the Rive Gauche, even when he was feeble he would not would come over from time to time allow his servant to put on his shoes, with various drawings. France was because he said that was debasing a particularly fond of early Italian draw- brother of his. He was keen to the ings and French eighteenth century utmost degree; from some slight conprints, including those of the little versation he could reach a person's funknown Vivant Denon about whom he damental character. He was apt to be even wrote an opuscule. Steinlen would rather moody and suffer fits of great frequently saunter in, always with pen- depression, for instance if Mademoicil and paper in hand, and as we selle were ill; yet so changeable was his chatted he would draw innumerable nature that he would immediately sketches of France.
forget his troubles in a discussion of art. France's life was very simple. He He very seldom lost his temper; when would get up late, rummage around the he did, he quickly regained control and house in the morning, and after lunch laughed at the stupid thing that had and a nap would go out for a drive to aroused his anger. He was ever ready Versailles, where he once owned a to help anyone in need, and his greatest house, to St. Cloud to visit his friends interest besides intellectual pursuits the Couchouds, or even across the was in trying to shape humanity Seine to his beloved print shops and toward better results. He was a pacbookshops. Occasionally, he would ifist during the war because he hated to enter the social world, but very rarely see men suffer, as may be shown by
he was too old for such frivolity, speeches he made from time to time. he announced. However, he came to France had no use for Clemenceau, me for tea to meet Claude Farrère, whom he reproached for having so frebecause Farrère was on good terms quently changed parties. He was very with the naval authorities. France friendly to Caillaux, the minister who was at the moment engaged in helping has recently been allowed to return to out some youngster whose liberal Paris after being absolved by the Herviews had got him into trouble in the riot government of the wartime charge navy. Then again, we drove out into of having carried on communications the Bois for tea. And once I took him with Germany to establish peace. to an all night restaurant to show him France always declared that Caillaux the modern dances, which enchanted was the cleverest politician in France him, and to the Casino de Paris where and that he, for one, would prefer the the gorgeous revue also pleased him rule of a clever rascal to that of some tremendously. He was equally im- upright fool. When some woman, pressed by the behavior of an American knowing his friendship for the imwoman in our party whose intolerance prisoned minister, said that she pitied made her condemn a beautiful Negress Caillaux because he must be suffering, in the revue. Such bigotry clashed France remarked that suffering was with France's democratic and ästhetic only relative, and corroborated this views.
statement by adding that a small boy, when he saw a couple locked in amor- Pédauque". He liked "Le Lys Rouge" ous embrace, also said, “How they and was very partial to “Clio", must be suffering." His humor was which, as well as many of his short really delightful though, to say the stories, he wrote to prove how different least, as broad as might be expected of history seems in the process of formaone with his infinite tolerance.
tion from what it appears later on. France was averse to discussing his France always found interest in own work. He always stated that he talking about other writers. “Proust”, hated to write and that it was a terrible said he to me, “is too long and life is too effort for him, since he had to work short and I feel that I have no time to over each phrase until it became al- waste in reading him.” He considered most perfect. He was very partial to Abel Hermant the best of the living "L'Histoire Comique", which never novelists and was fond also of Daudet. enjoyed as much popularity as most of He admired the beautiful style of his other books. It was more or less Villiers and of Barbey d'Aurévilly, and suggested by a love affair which France said that when Farrère published had with an actress during his South "L'Homme qui Assassina" anonyAmerican trip, and I think he liked it mously it was so well written that many for that reason. He was also very fond people thought he had written it of “Le Révolte des Anges", but rather himself. He was not blind to his looked down on his earlier “Crime de friends' faults, and never overpraised Sylvestre Bonnard” which had gained Pierre Mille, Ségur, Louis Barthou, or him admission to the French Academy. Michel Corday, even though the last Academy days were things of the past, named was one of his most intimate because of Madame de Caillavet's death friends. He liked Corday, he said, for and even more because his free political his character, not for his work, and was ideas were viewed askance by this ul- loath to understand how the latter tra conservative body. He cared for could be so inferior to the former. He his more personal books and often considered Flaubert a truly great autalked to me of “Le Petit Pierre" thor. Mallarmé with his Impressionwhich appeared while I was seeing him. ism remained incomprehensible to him, His second published book, an essay on and Coppée he thought absolutely beAlfred de Vigny, seemed negligible to reft of talent. He admired Zola as a him and he was surprised when I psychologist but not as a writer. Hushowed him a copy I had unearthed. go he considered somewhat old fashHe was never very much impressed by ioned, though he admired his beautiful his prefaces to various of the classics verse. De Musset he found delightful. republished in a collected form as “Le But, after all, it was the ancients that Génie Latin”, but this was probably France loved best. due to the fact that Lemerre, the edi- In the spring of 1920 the first signs tor, forced him to write them at such a of his illness began. One morning I starvation fee that finally France sued found him in a semi-delirious condition. him. He was very fond of all his phil. Mademoiselle did not know what to do osophical books such as "Le Jardin so I went out for a doctor, who said that d'Epicure”, “Sur la Pierre Blanche", France was overtired. A rest was preand “Crainquebille”. He was in- scribed which in a few days restored clined rather to underrate his most pop- him to health. One day I took him to ular book, "La Rotisserie de la Reine one of my favorite restaurants, run by
a woman called Madame Coconnier. She started out on the career which was, he came up to our table to greet me, and said, to culminate in his present marwhen I introduced France to her she riage. Whereupon we drank several very politely said, “I am delighted to bumpers to the coming event. He make your acquaintance. It seems to told me that it was so long since he me I've heard about you. France had signed his real name (Thibault) accepted this eulogy with his custom- that he was really unable to spell it ary simplicity. Another day and at the Mairie had been forced to lunched at the top of the Butte with ask whether it had an “It” or a “d” Steinlen and a group of journalists at the end. from the Midi. France was charmed The wedding morn, as wedding to be with this band of young men and morns should be, was
sunny and was the life of the party, joking with bright. At about eleven o'clock we everyone and drinking several glasses motored up to La Bechellerie. The with us
a rather rare happening, for wedding party formed there and the he claimed to be no longer able to guests went halfway down the hill to stand much wine. Of course, when he the Mairie of Saint Cyr. The Mayor refrained it was not for ethical reasons. made a speech, the contract was Indeed, he used to tell me that it was signed, a delegation of women Sociala good idea to go out and get drunk ists wished the couple all sorts of haponce a month and then rejoice in a piness. France thanked them in a few hangover until the next month. words broken by emotion, and we re
About the middle of the summer I turned to his house for the wedding went on an extended trip through breakfast. There were seventeen peoItaly and Spain, returning to Paris ple at the marriage — the Baronne only in September. France was back Dubreton whom I had presented to in St. Cloud taking a rest cure. When France and whose love of Racine as I went out there he told me that he was much as her charming personality had going to be married. I was much sur- completely won him over, her daughter, prised until I learned that he was tak- the Dubiaus who kept a department ing this step because, according to store in Tours, the Mignons, a country French law, he could not leave Made- doctor and his wife, the Couchouds, the moiselle any of his property unless they Calmann-Lévys (his publishers), the were married; otherwise it would have Kahns (Mr. Kahn looked after France's to go to his first wife whom he had di- business details), the Cordays, the vorced years before. Soon afterward bride and groom, and myself. After a he went back to Tours, and I started lunch of delicacies which Mademoiselle to prepare for my return to America. in her pride as housekeeper and wife On October eleventh I followed him had had sent down from Paris, washed down there to see him married. The down by many delightful glasses of eve of this event we spent together Vouvray and champagne, we wandered chatting about what was going to be- around the garden and had our pictures come of me, for I was reluctant to re- taken. Finally, with tears in my eyes turn to America. Then he told me of I took my departure, hoping against his youth, how he had been loath to do expectation to return soon to my beany work whatsoever, and how finally, loved friend. This was the last time driven to it by necessity, he had we met.
THE NEW YORKER
Yogi Night at the Provincetown Playhouse — The Drama Finds a New
Been in Urbana.
URING the past month, in the search of diversion. Or, at least, it U course of reading some of the vast should not be such a place.” number of periodicals and newspapers It would appear that these newwhich plague our nation, the New comers in the history of the theatre Yorker stumbled upon an extraor- would change the whole basis of its dinary sentence in a review by Stark existence. They would make it someYoung, one of our most intelligent thing to be taken painfully. Fortucritics, which read: "People who take nately there is no danger of such a the theatre as mere pastime will not revolution. Once the theatre becomes find the piece at the Provincetown painful the public will desert it, and so Playhouse to their liking."
there will be no theatre at all. On the face of the matter, the sen- The play which Mr. Young was entence appears to be a simple statement, gaged in reviewing at the moment of yet on considering it one finds there his self betrayal was an extraordinarily the kernel of a philosophy which painful exercise translated from the largely dominates the spirit of ex- German of Walter Hasenclever, called periment in the world of contemporary vaguely "Beyond", and produced on art and letters. The obvious query the stage of the Provincetown Theatre. to such a statement is, “Well, if the Save for the Theatre Guild, the public theatre does not exist for the sole pur- owes a greater debt of pleasure to the pose of providing pastime, why does Provincetown group than to any manit exist at all?" Are we to make of agement in New York during the presthe theatre a sort of mental gymnasium ent dull season. “Beyond" came as a whither we turn our steps regularly to blow. At the dress rehearsal the little exercise our brains? Are we to con- theatre was crowded by spectators who sider it a sort of higher mathematics? could be divided roughly into three Are we to work at our theatregoing? classes: (a) the “arty" ones who One might have slipped past that gasped with awe at hidden wonders of opening sentence without noticing it the piece, (b) those who received it in save for the inclusion of the word a mildly dazed condition, and (c) those "mere”. There is about the nice who, in defiance of the hostile glares of placing of that word, about the in- the "arty” ones, laughed through flection it demands, something which three acts and then, abandoning the indicates a certain polite condescension. final two, went home to listen to the It says, "The theatre is all very well radio. but it is not the place for one to go in The evening might well have been
called "Yogi Night at the Province- telligent or so interesting a piece as town Theatre". Hasenclever, accord- “Processional", the experimental play ing to program notes, is an ardent produced earlier in the season by the Buddhist. The notes, however, neg- Theatre Guild. Helen Gahagan, in a lected to say that, so far as one can handsome red velvet gown, played the judge from this piece, his mind is an wife, and Walter Abel, with the gesextremely mediocre one which ejects tures of an automaton, essayed the rôle quite regularly the most ponderous of lover. Fortunately no helpless acbromides. The piece had but two tor was assigned the role of the dead characters, but this lack of variety was husband. compensated by the number of scenes, The month was notable for the prototaling twenty two, labeled variously duction of two utterly incredible plays: "cellar”, “telephone", "roof", "bed", one called “The Depths” and the other etc., etc. Not that the piece was an unnamed play staged by Richard a spectacle; on the contrary, the Herndon at special matinées with the variation of scenes was denoted by offer of a prize for the best title. The the shifting of a chair, a sofa, a New Yorker has thought of several bed, from one position to another, titles, but they are not printable. and by the periodical appearance of Jane Cowl was the excuse for “The a pair of shutters. Nevertheless the Depths”, and on this occasion not a lighting and the settings were by far very good excuse. The original play the best part of the piece. Under the by Hans Mueller had, so reports go, skilful hand of Robert Edmond Jones extraordinary merits as a psychologithey attained an amazing degree of in- cal study of the time old situation besinuating beauty and effect.
tween a woman of the streets and a The play was stupid. One was told pure young man with whom she falls in that perhaps it was beyond comprehen- love. Somewhere along the way these sion, and of course, such a statement merits were dropped overboard. One can be taken quite easily in two dis- has the impression that, during the tinct senses.
The author aimed to lengthy road tour of the piece, it was eliminate all save the essential speeches entirely rewritten according to the deor, in other words, to clear away all sires of the cast or the manager rather the detail which makes for interest and than the author. The result, in any is so troublesome to the playwright. case, is one that is prize taking in its The result was a series of such revo- banality. And the program is preflutionary and brilliant speeches as aced by a quotation from Havelock "What is reality? Reality is noth- Ellis which refers scornfully to "old ing." Well, everybody knows that. platitudes"! Miss Cowl is quite bad. The story is that of a man who becomes At the Times Square, Grace George involved in a love affair with the wife returned after much too long an abof his friend, at the moment of his sence from New York in a charming friend's death. Eventually the ghost comedy by Paul Geraldy dealing with of the first husband returns and drives the absurdity of a woman's character. the second to kill the wife of both. It is called “She Had to Know" and is Much to the confusion of the clear- concerned with the desire of a wife to minded, there is an immense amount know whether she is appealing to men. of mystical Yogi talk.
The whole comedy is whipped cream, “Beyond” was by no means so in- but the cream, fortunately, never