Mention of the President's salary reminds the writer that by some curious custom, dating, no doubt, from the days of the old regime, this is paid in actual hard cash. On a certain day in every month two officials from the Ministre des Finances, accompanied
Republic, a woman whose sterling qualities helped her husband to carve his way successfully to fortune, 'and whose true kindness of heart and simplicity of life have endeared her to her fellow-citizens
Photo, Paul Boyer by a clerk from the Mint, bring him £4,000 in gold and notes, all brand new. The occasion, says Mr. Robert H. Sherard, in his interesting reminiscences, " My Friends the French," is always one of genial pleasantries. Says the chief official, " Monsieur le President, here is your money. We hope it will not bother you." " Me for the Mazuma," replies M. Fallieres laughingly, or in some French equivalent of that popular New York phrase, "I am the man for money."
It is estimated that President Faure, with his love of entertaining and display, spent money at the rate of £50,000 a year during his four years of office, and that M. Loubet, during the seven years he resided at the Elysee Palace (the President is elected for seven years, not four, as in America) exceeded his official income each year, although he did not possess the extravagant tastes of his predecessor.
One of the first acts of Madame Fallieres, on her husband's election as President, in 1906, was to effect a small revolution in the household arrangements at the Elysee. Two days after her arrival she dismissed a whole battalion of cooks, scullions, chambermaids and valets, and there followed the installation in the presidential kitchens of " Mariette," the family cook, who hails from the President's native district, and who has been in the President's service from time immemorial. The President, too, reduced the military and naval staff attached to the Presidency. M. Loubet had a staff of from fifteen to twenty officers of high rank attached to his person. M. Fallieres promptly reduced these to three, the highest in rank being a colonel. " It is out of place for the Chief Magistrate of a democratic republic to be surrounded with so much ceremony," was his remark on that occasion.
In spite, however, of such economies and reforms, M. Fallieres and his wife do not save anything from their official income. A great drain on their purse is the amount which they are expected to subscribe in charity. Like Madame Loubet, Madame Fallieres takes a keen interest in all those charitable institutions designed to benefit the children of the poor and the orphans of Paris, and it is no exaggeration to say that she gives away thousands of francs every year to such deserving institutions. Then, again, the Elysee Palace costs much to maintain. The building, which dates back to the days of Louis XV., was once the residence of Madame de Pompadour, and was afterwards occupied in turn by Murat, Napoleon I., Louis Bonaparte, King of Holland and Queen Hortense, the Due de Berry, and, finally, by Napoleon III. It is, by the way, a curious sidelight on the character of President Faure that he was always vigilant in the defence of the dignity of his office, and much amusement and not a little disgust was created when he introduced at the Elysee the rule, so dear to Royalty, that no one should leave his presence until he gave them permission to depart. He treated Queen Victoria when he met her as though he had been a brother
The Elysee Palace, Paris, the official town residence of the Presidents of the French Republic, and the scene of their stately public entertainments. The State rooms of the Palace are both gorgeous and spacious, and afford a fitting background for the magnificent State balls given by the President
Photo, Topical sovereign, shaking hands cordially on introduction, and departing when he thought he had stayed long enough, without waiting for dismissal. Yet this was the man whose mother had been a seamstress, and whose father had worked as a cabinetmaker.
Madame Faure, however, retained the quiet, unassuming manner which characterised her when, as Mdlle. Belluot, she won the love of the future President of France. She was an orphan at the time of her marriage-a marriage which seems to have brought her husband much good luck, for after it he began to make money fast, and was barely thirty when he became President of the Chamber of Commerce.
Madame Faure, like Madame Loubet and Madame Fallieres, was a typical Frenchwoman, fond of home and family life. But the French President and his wife have little opportunity of quiet domestic life at the Elysee, for it is strenuous work holding the reins of government. President Carnot was often found seated at his desk in the cabinet de travail, or office, adjoining his bedroom at three o'clock in the morning, although he seldom went to bed before midnight. Faure rose all the year round at five o'clock, and, after a bath, at once set to work, although he did not require his secretaries to begin so early. Loubet was often at work at seven o'clock in the morning, while Fallieres, winter and summer alike, rises at six o'clock, and after a cold shower bath goes for a five-mile walk before breakfast, in order, as he himself once said, " to keep myself in a fit physical condition for State duties." From breakfast-time until evening M. Fallieres is practically engaged on State business, and it is only after dinner at seven o'clock that he is able to spend an hour or so quietly with his wife and daughter, Mdlle. Anne Fallieres.
His happiest hours are spent at his modest country home in Loupillon, a village not far from either Mezin or Nerac, the scenes of his boyhood. It is there that his daughter cultivates the flowers for which she is famous. And there it is that, from time to time, M. Falliere's son, a barrister of standing, comes to join the family party.
"Oh, my Poor Emile!"
Nothing delighted M. Loubet and his wife more during his term of office than to spend his holiday at the ex-president's beloved Montelimar, his native place, near which was his mother's farm. The old lady, who died a few years ago, was eighty-six years of age when her son was elected President, in 1899. One who saw her at the time described her as dressed in one of those close caps of thick white muslin, with goffered border, a black handkerchief, worn shawl-wise with the front ends crossed, and a white apron with deep pleats that nearly covered the black skirt. In wet weather she tramped about in wooden shoes, and although she was no longer able to knead the bread, she allowed no one else to bake it.
She was proud of her son, but would have been content to have seen him in a more humble role than that of President of France. "Oh, my poor Emile!" she said when the news was conveyed to her that her son had been elected President. " What a misfortune for my poor boy ! As it was, I saw but little of him, and now that he has gone still higher I shall no longer see him at all ! "
Which recalls the fact that when M. Fallieres and his wife paid a recent visit to Loupillon, they met some of the President's boyhood companions whom he had not seen for many years. Naturally, he was anxious to know how his old school chums were getting on in the world, and was extremely gratified on being informed that one was the head of a big company, another had built up a flourishing business as a draper, and others held important secretarial positions. "And what have you been doing?" asked the successful draper in return of M. Fallieres. The latter explained that he was President of the Republic. "What !" exclaimed his old friend. "Oh, dear, dear ! My poor friend, how I pity you !"
A Punctilious President
Like Fallieres, Loubet arranged his days at the Elysee with clockwork regularity. He rose at half-past seven, and, after a cup of coffee with his wife, read his letters and papers. Breakfast was served at nine o'clock, after which he began work. Twice a week the President has to preside over a Cabinet Council. On other days he holds private receptions, and sees as many people as he can. Luncheon during the Loubet regime was served exactly at noon, probably some personal friend or some officials, as well as Madame Loubet, partaking of the meal with the President. Afterwards, Loubet indulged in a pipe in his favourite armchair, with Madame Loubet seated beside him. It was at such a time that his youngest son, Emile, was wont to ask for favours. His most frequent request was to be allowed to go out in a motor-car. But M. Loubet does not like motor-cars-for his own family. He has no confidence in them. Every time there was an accident it was spoken of at the Elysee. "You see," he would say to his son-"you see how dangerous they are.
After his siesta, Loubet usually ordered his phaeton and went for a drive, resuming work at half-past four, and being kept busy until seven, when dinner was served.
Fashionable life had little attraction for Loubet. Neither do M. Fallieres and his wife care for society. They prefer to spend their evenings quietly in their own apartments, and seldom go to the theatre. Someone once expressed surprise to Madame Fallieres that the president's wife is so seldom seen in society.
"Surely," she replied, with her characteristic, whimsical smile, "you would not rob us of our quiet evenings ! All day M. Fallieres works for the State, and it is only in the evening that we are able to renew our acquaintance with the domestic hearth." In the remark one can almost trace the longing for a return to the simple life at Loupillon and the vineyards which M. Fallieres made famous long before he became Chief Magistrate of France.