Where the handsome offices of the Daily News now stand in Bouverie Street, there was at that time a doleful place of resort for life's failures. It was called the Sussex Hotel. The habitués of the place were for the most part broken journalists and barristers, some of whom were men of considerable native talent and attainment.
Every Wednesday, from four to seven o'clock, he had a reunion at his house, the Hotel des Medicis, and it was a holiday for which his friends prepared themselves. When a new idea occurred to one of the habitues it was caressed, matured, studied in solitude, in order to be presented in full bloom at the assembly.
French singers sang French songs upon the stage it was not much larger than a sounding-board. An air of gaiety prevailed; for I imagine the majority of the habitués were from the French Quarter of the city. Of course there were birds and beasts, and cages populous with monkeys; and there was an emeu the weird bird that can not fly, the Australian cassowary.
There is Herr Nachbar, a tenor, who has a future; Fraulein Stehle, a soprano, young and with an uncommon voice, who enjoys a large salary, and was the favorite until another soprano, the Malinger, came and turned the heads of king and opera habitues.
The hotels, to be sure, were full of travelers, and the club-houses had more habitues than usual, and were more needed by the members whose families had gone into the country. Notwithstanding the silence and vacation aspect of up-town, the public conveyances were still thronged, and a census would have shown no such diminution of population as seemed.
Her salon was the social and literary power of the first half of the century. In an age of political espionage, it maintained its position and its dignity. It sustained Corneille against the persecutions of Richelieu, and numbered among its habitues the founders of the Academie Francaise, who continued the critical reforms begun there. As a school of politeness, it has left permanent traces.
Members dropped into the habit of addressing one another as "dear chappie," and, discarding pipes, took to cheap cigars. Many of the older habitues resigned. All might have gone well to the end of time if only Mrs. Loveredge had left all social arrangements in the hands of her husband had not sought to aid his efforts.
From time to time one of the habitues of the palace, one of those whom the dying man had summoned to his bedside, appeared in the medley, gave an order, then went away, leaving the scared expression of his face reflected on twenty others.
These afford excellent sport, and are taken with a variety of bait. The habitués of the river commonly employ live minnow, chub, catfish, suckers, sunfish in fact, any fish under six inches in length. The bass has also a well-marked predilection for small frogs, or indeed for frogs of any dimensions.
And the habitués of the place are as queer as the place itself.