Early years[ edit ] The son of a bookseller, France, a bibliophile ,  spent most of his life around books. After several years, he secured the position of cataloguer at Bacheline-Deflorenne and at Lemerre. In he was appointed librarian for the French Senate. Literary career[ edit ] France began his literary career as a poet and a journalist. In , he sat on the committee in charge of the third Parnasse Contemporain compilation. As a journalist, from , he wrote many articles and notices.
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Having taken his place in the dock, he beheld in the imposing sombre hall magistrates, clerks, lawyers in their robes, the usher wearing his chains, gendarmes, and, behind a rail, the bare heads of the silent spectators.
He, himself, occupied a raised seat, as if some sinister honour were conferred on the accused by his appearance before the magistrate. The palm-leaves of an officer of the Academy decorated his breast. Such symbols naturally inspired him with terror. Not being gifted with a philosophic mind, he did not inquire the meaning of the bust and the crucifix; he did not ask how far Jesus and the symbolical bust harmonized in the Law Courts.
Nevertheless, here was matter for reflection; for,after all, pontifical teaching and canon law are in many points opposed to the constitution of the Republic and to the civil code. So far as we know the Decretals have not been abolished. To-day, as formerly, the Church of Christ teaches that only those powers are lawful to which it has given its sanction. Now the French Republic claims to be independent of pontifical power. Crainquebille might reasonably say: "Gentlemen and magistrates, in so much as President Loubet has not been anointed, the Christ, whose image is suspended over your heads, repudiates you through the voice of councils and of Popes.
Either he is here to remind you of the rights of the Church, which invalidate yours, or His presence has no rational signification. Guillaume de Nogaret was excommunicated, but for so trifling a reason he did not resign his office. He is, if you will, the Christ of the Gospels, who knew not one word of canon law, and had never heard of the holy Decretals.
Moreover, he was the victim of a sentence, which for nineteen hundred years all Christian peoples have regarded as a grave judicial error. He was wrapped in amazement. All the ceremonial, with which he was surrounded, impressed him with a very lofty idea of justice.
Filled with reverence, overcome with terror, he was ready to submit to his judges in the matter of his guilt. Already his lawyer had half persuaded him that he was not innocent. A summary and hasty examination had brought out the charges under which he laboured. What do you want a bundle? Such an order seemed right to him, and perfectly in accordance with the nature of things. Quite prepared to obey, he urged his customer to take what she wanted.
Then she felt all the bundles of leeks over again. Finally, she selected the one she thought the best, and held it clasped to her bosom as saints in church pictures hold the palm of victory. Just at this moment Constable 64 said to Crainquebille for the second time: "Move on. And the green heads of the leeks were lying on the counter.
For the half century that he had been pushing his barrow through the streets, Crainquebille had been learning respect for authority. But now his position was a peculiar one: he was torn asunder between what was his due and what was his duty. His was not a judicial mind.
He attached too great importance to his claim to receive seven pence, and too little to the duty of pushing his barrow and moving on, for ever moving on.
He stood still. For the third time Constable 64 quietly and calmly ordered him to move on. Unlike Inspector Montauciel, whose habit it is to threaten constantly but never to take proceedings, Constable 64 is slow to threaten and quick to act.
Such is his character. Though somewhat sly he is an excellent servant and a loyal soldier. He knows naught save his official instructions. Therefore, artlessly and simply he explained it: "Good Lord! If you do you have only to say so. Am I a law-breaker? Am I one to make light of the by-laws and ordinances which regulate my ambulatory calling?
I am worn out. And you ask me whether I have raised the black flag of rebellion. You are mocking me and your joking is cruel. Now, just at that moment the block of traffic in the Rue Montmartre was at its worst. Carriages, drays, carts, omnibuses, trucks, jammed one against the other, seemed indissolubly welded together. From their quivering immobility proceeded shouts and oaths.
Then the constable, finding himself the centre of attention, began to think it time to display his authority: "Very well," he said, taking a stumpy pencil and a greasy notebook from his pocket.
Crainquebille persisted in his idea, obedient to a force within. Besides, it was now impossible for him either to move on or to draw back. Bon sang de bon sang! You said: Mort aux vaches. Very good. Come along. It gratified the taste of all crowds for violent and ignoble spectacles. This man did not insult you. The old man insisted calmly and tenaciously. And the policeman ordered him to make his declaration to the Police Commissioner. But Constable 64 already had him by the collar; so Madame Bayard, thinking that no debt could be due to a man who was being taken to the police-station, put her sevenpence into her apron pocket.
He maintained that the policeman had not been insulted, and that he was labouring under a delusion. He gave his name and profession: Dr. At another time such evidence would have been sufficient for the Commissioner. But just then men of science were regarded with suspicion in France. Crainquebille continued under arrest. He passed the night in the lock-up. In the morning he was taken to the Police Court in the prison van.
He did not find prison either sad or humiliating. It seemed to him necessary. What struck him as he entered was the cleanliness of the walls and of the brick floor. You might eat on the floor. The silence and the solitude overwhelmed him. The time seemed long. Anxiously he thought of his barrow, which had been confiscated with its load of cabbages, carrots, celery, dandelion and corn-salad. And he wondered, asking himself with alarm: "What have they done with my barrow?
Crainquebille endeavoured to tell him his story; but it was not easy, for he was not accustomed to conversation. With a little help he might perhaps have succeeded.
But his lawyer shook his head doubtfully at everything he said; and, turning over his papers, muttered: "Hm! This examination would have been more enlightening if the accused had replied to the questions asked him. But Crainquebille was unaccustomed to discussion; and in such a company his lips were sealed by reverence and fear.
So he was silent: and the President answered his own question; his replies were staggering. It was too difficult. And he had the witness called. Constable 64, by name Bastien Matra, swore he spoke the truth and nothing but the truth. Three times I intimated to him the order to move on, but he refused to comply. Madame Bayard had seen nothing and heard nothing. Matthieu was in the crowd which had gathered round the policeman, who was ordering the costermonger to move on.
His evidence led to a new episode in the trial. I went up to him and called his attention to the fact. The officer insisted on arresting the costermonger, and told me to follow him to the Commissioner of Police.
This I did. Before the Commissioner, I repeated my declaration. Matthieu point out to you that you were mistaken? And he warned the public that if such unseemly demonstrations occurred again he would clear the court. Meanwhile, Counsel for the defence was haughtily fluttering the sleeves of his gown, and for the moment it was thought that Crainquebille would be acquitted.
They were soldiers once, and soldiers they remain; soldiers, that word expresses everything. He was one of those, he said, who would not allow a finger to be laid on the army, on that national army, to which he was so proud to belong. The President bowed.
And had I beheld in Crainquebille, gentlemen, one who had insulted an ex-soldier, I should never have consented to represent him before you. Vache, one who sells himself to the police; spy. But the question resolves itself into this: how did Crainquebille say it?
Crainquebille, Putois, Riquet and other profitable tales/Crainquebille