Letters of Anton Chekhov, by Anton Chekhov

To His Sister.

PARIS, April 21, 1891.

To-day is Easter. So Christ is risen! It’s my first Easter away from home.

I arrived in Paris on Friday morning and at once went to the Exhibition. Yes, the Eiffel Tower is very very high. The other exhibition buildings I saw only from the outside, as they were occupied by cavalry brought there in anticipation of disorders. On Friday they expected riots. The people flocked in crowds about the streets, shouting and whistling, greatly excited, while the police kept dispersing them. To disperse a big crowd a dozen policemen are sufficient here. The police make a combined attack, and the crowd runs like mad. In one of these attacks the honour was vouchsafed to me — a policeman caught hold of me under my shoulder, and pushed me in front of him.

There was a great deal of movement, the streets were swarming and surging. Noise, hubbub. The pavements are filled with little tables, and at the tables sit Frenchmen who feel as though they were at home in the street. A magnificent people. There is no describing Paris, though; I will put off the description of it till I get home.

I heard the midnight service in the Church of the Embassy. . . .

I am afraid you have no money.

Misha, get my pince-nez mended, for the salvation of your soul! I am simply a martyr without spectacles. I went to the Salon and couldn’t see half the pictures, thanks to my short sight. By the way, the Russian artists are far more serious than the French. . . . In comparison with the landscape painters I saw here yesterday Levitan is a king. . . .

PARIS, April 24.

A change again. One of the Russian sculptors living in Paris has undertaken to do a bust of Suvorin, and this will keep us till Saturday.

. . . How are you managing without money? Bear it till Thursday.

Imagine my delight. I was in the Chamber of Deputies just at the time of the sitting when the Minister for Internal Affairs was called to account for the irregularities which the government had ventured upon in putting down the riots in Fourmis (there were many killed and wounded). It was a stormy and extremely interesting sitting.

Men who tie boa-constrictors round their bodies, ladies who kick up to the ceiling, flying people, lions, cafe’-chantants, dinners and lunches begin to sicken me. It is time I was home. I am longing to work.


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