- Real Latin Quarter
Frank Berkeley Smith
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"Cocher, drive to the rue Falguière"--this in my best restaurant French.
The man with the varnished hat shrugged his shoulders, and raised his eyebrows in doubt. He evidently had never heard of the rue Falguière.
"Yes, rue Falguière, the old rue des Fourneaux," I continued.
Cabby's face broke out into a smile. "Ah, oui, oui, le Quartier Latin."
And it was at the end of this crooked street, through a lane that ledinto a half court flanked by a row of studio buildings, and up one pairof dingy waxed steps, that I found a door bearing the name of the authorof the following pages--his visiting card impaled on a tack. He was inhis shirt-sleeves--the thermometer stood at 90° outside--working at hisdesk, surrounded by half-finished sketches and manuscript.
The man himself I had met before--I had known him for years, infact--but the surroundings were new to me. So too were his methods ofwork.
Nowadays when a man would write of the Siege of Peking or the relief ofsome South African town with the unpronounceable name, his habit is torent a room on an up-town avenue, move in an inkstand and pad, and acollection of illustrated papers and encyclopedias. This writer on therue Falguière chose a different plan. He would come back year afteryear, and study his subject and compile his impressions of the Quarterin the very atmosphere of the place itself; within a stone's throw ofthe Luxembourg Gardens and the Panthéon; near the cafés and the Bullier;next door, if you please, to the public laundry where his washerwomanpays a few sous for the privilege of pounding his clothes into holes.
It all seemed very real to me, as I sat beside him and watched him atwork. The method delighted me. I have similar ideas myself about thevalue of his kind of study in out-door sketching, compared with thelabored work of the studio, and I have most positive opinions regardingthe quality which comes of it.
If then the pages which here follow have in them any of the trueinwardness of the life they are meant to portray, it is due, I feelsure, as much to the attitude of the author toward his subject, as muchto his ability to seize, retain, and express these instantaneousimpressions, these flash pictures caught on the spot, as to any othermerit which they may possess.
Nothing can be made really _real_ without it.
F. HOPKINSON SMITH.
Paris, August, 1901.