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34 - World War I and Maxim’s

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 May 2024

Edited and translated by
Foreword by
John R. Near
Affiliation:
Principia College, Illinois
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Summary

On the first Sunday of the 1914 war, M. and Mme Pichon came to lunch at Foyot's where I was having lunch in the next room with a very beautiful woman from Rome, the Comtesse de Cossato, of remarkable intelligence and who was returning to Italy the next day. Everyone was very stirred up. Countess Cossato was asking if the English would come to our aid: “But what is the English fleet doing?” —“Yes, yes,” said Pichon, deeply emotional. Countess Cossato remarked to me at one point: “Look at the wife of your minister of foreign affairs; she's crying into her eggs!”

I heard the French mobilization proclaimed by the rural constable in front of the church of Ville d’Avray. I was coming back from Versailles where I had gone to pick up some friends by car.

On September 2, [1914], Étienne Lamy, permanent secretary of the Académie Française came to see me and said, “Raymond Poincaré is asking the permanent secretaries to pack their bags so as not to be taken hostage. I’m leaving tonight,” he added. We deliberated all day. At six o’clock in the evening we held a meeting at Albert Sarraut's place, at the Ministry of Public Education. “I have no orders to give you,” he said, “but the effect of your leaving would be disastrous.” While we were talking with him, there was a sudden burst of heavy platoon fire under our windows; it was one of the first German planes to drop its bombs on the capital, to which the battalion of Zouaves responded from the barracks on rue de Bellechasse. We drew the curtains so that we could hear each other, and in the end we decided not to leave. “As for me,” said the minister, “I am leaving for Bordeaux this evening!”

On the other hand, the minister of the interior gave us seventeen laissezpasser, allowing us to leave Paris. I remember Bonnat's indignation when I brought him one of those passes: “Do you think I’m going to abandon my house, the Beaux-Arts, for which I am responsible, my students, and my collections? Who do you take me for? Get out! Go away!” So we stayed in Paris, which became ominous as soon as night fell; everyone remembers that the shops and restaurants closed early. Maxim's was our refuge.

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Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2024

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  • World War I and Maxim’s
  • Edited and translated by John R. Near, Principia College, Illinois
  • Foreword by Rollin Smith
  • Book: Autobiographical Recollections of Charles-Marie Widor
  • Online publication: 09 May 2024
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781805432920.040
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  • World War I and Maxim’s
  • Edited and translated by John R. Near, Principia College, Illinois
  • Foreword by Rollin Smith
  • Book: Autobiographical Recollections of Charles-Marie Widor
  • Online publication: 09 May 2024
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781805432920.040
Available formats
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To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • World War I and Maxim’s
  • Edited and translated by John R. Near, Principia College, Illinois
  • Foreword by Rollin Smith
  • Book: Autobiographical Recollections of Charles-Marie Widor
  • Online publication: 09 May 2024
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781805432920.040
Available formats
×