Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Portrait de Bibi-la-Purée
Pablo Picasso, 1901
Jeudi 30 juin, 1938 (Les Echos)

62,000 fr. pour Bibi la Purée. Une vieille jaquette, un chapeau de haute forme, de longs cheveux qui se répandaient sur son col, tel était Bibi la Purée, une des figures les plus populaires du Quartier Latin à la fin du siècle dernier. Il s'était institué le secrétaire bénévole de Verlaine, qui lui dédicaçait ainsi un de ses poèmes « Bibi Purée Type épatant Et drôle tant ! Quel Dieu te crée Ce chic, pourtant Qui nous agrée. » Il avait l'amitié de Robert de Montesquiou, de Laurent Tailhade, de Raoul Ponchon, et aussi .des agents du Quartier, qui le conduisaient parfois au poste, mais avec ménagement. Quel orgueil aurait connu Bibi la Purée, mort de misère en 1903, s'il avait été hier à la salle des ventes. On y vendait son portrait par Picasso. Et il fut adjugé 52,500 francs. C'est de la purée chère. 

Roman par Saint-Martin
Film de Maurice Champreux (1925 )

Portraits Intimes, 1904
Adolphe Brisson
... Devant le bureau des omnibus, sur la place Clichy, un personnage est planté, important et grave. Il est long comme un jour sans pain, pâle comme Pierrot; il a le nez pointu de Louis XI, la bouche édentée de Voltaire et les cheveux de Gringoire. Son habit élimé et blanchi au coude meurt d'épuisement et son chapeau aurait grand besoin d'un retapage... Je reconnais cet original... Ce fut un admirateur passionné de Verlaine qui l'avait surnommé Bibi-la-Purée, sobriquet qui resta attaché à sa personne. Bibi-la-Purée vénérait Verlaine, Verlaine abandonnait à Bibi-la-Purée ses chemises, lorsqu'il les jugeait trop fatiguées. Quand son maître mourut, Bibi la-Purée dut choisir une profession qui assurât son indépendance matérielle et sa dignité morale. Il résolut de devenir le « décrotteur des grands hommes ». Il acheta deux brosses, un pot de cirage, et attendit, confiant dans son étoile. Son espérance n'a pas été déçue. Les brosses de Bibi-la-Purée lui procurent à peu près de quoi manger, mais il ne les prostitue pas à tout le monde. Il choisit ses clients. Sa fierté dédaigne les sots bourgeois, les parvenus du commerce, les barons de la finance. Elle ne se prosterne qu'aux pieds des artistes... Et je m'explique pourquoi Bibi-la-Purée se ballade, aujourd'hui, sur la place Clichy, devant le bureau des omnibus... Bibi-la-Purée guette le Prince...
 The Saturday review of politics, literature, science and art, 1899

   On the terrace of the Boulevard St.-Michel, towards nine at night, coffee and cognac are sipped; pipes steam; cigars glow. Waiters, plying, say "Tout de suite, M. Pierre," "Me voila, M. Paul." Friends meet, groups form—daughters of Murger, bright little ladies, merry not vulgar, chatter with all. The nut-man passes, the olive merchant, the flower woman, a negro with nougat. Pausing, the first two lay a sample nut, a sample olive, on every table; then, in some sheltered corner keep watch: and promptly issue forth to measure out two sous' worth at those tables where the samples have disappeared. "Tiens," observes Mdlle. Mimi, "du nougat." "Tiens," echoes Mdlle. Musette, "des roses." "Mais c'est la ruine," declares Pierre—"La misere," pronounces Paul, both singling out sous. Couples go by, quartettes linked arm-in-arm, some bound for Bullier's, others for the Noctambules or the Taverne Lorraine. Appointments are made—"a minuit, a deux heures, hein ? "Then everyone winks, everyone laughs, as a long, lean, rustily dressed person comes in view ; grisly hair falls on his shoulders, three cabbage roses hang from his coat. He leans slightly on an umbrella, silver-mounted, neat. His eyes are humorous and green; his cheeks shaven and sunken. He looks seventy. Reflectively he puffs at an inch of cigarette. Waiters point at him; students salute him. Now he bows, now he smiles— Bibi of the Rive Gauche, Bibi the Bohemian, Bibi la Purée.

  On wanders Bibi, down the Boul' Mich', towards that dim and classic retreat, governed by M. Theo—the Cafe Procope. Memories of great menhaunt the place. Relics remain : "la table de M. de Voltaire," scarred and chipped. Tourists come to inspect it; and although M. Theo cannot point out the precise crack on which the philosopher's coffee stood, nor the corners at which Marat, Danton, and Robespierre sat, nor Gambetta's favourite seat twenty-seven years ago, he has a wondrous knowledge of the times that makes him the personal intimate of these five great ghosts of the Procope. M. Theo, too, is a Bohemian. He, too, winks as Bibi appears. Should any innocent worldling inquire Who is Bibi? M. Theo will reply, " Un drole," an original, with an amazing past. . . . Secretary, valet, anything and everything, to Paul Verlaine was Bibi, six years ago. They met in the Procope, where Verlaine used to take his absinthe. Soon, a close friendship sprang up between the two: Bibi amused and interested the poet. When Verlaine was stupefied with absinthe, it was Bibi who led him home. When Verlaine had no money to buy absinthe, it was Bibi who sold the poet's autographs on the Boul' Mich' and his books on the quays. Sometimes Verlaine lost his temper — but Bibi never complained. He was proud of his position; admired and adored the poet, whom he called "le Maitre," and who called him "la Puree." 
Portrait d'homme (Bibi-la-Purée?) 
Pablo Picasso, 1901
  Two years passed; Verlaine fell ill. In spite of Bibi's tender care he grew worse, and was removed to the hospital, where he died—leaving Bibi a legacy of three shirts. Then, for the first time, sorrow came upon Bibi. He was a mere youth of sixty, but felt a hundred, he declared; and forsaking old haunts, wandered sadly about the quays at night, and in silent streets, and in the shade of the Luxembourg. Soon, however, he returned to the Procope, with a parcel under his arm. M. Theo received him tenderly; together, they recalled old times—when Verlaine was there, sipping absinthe, talking brilliantly, surrounded by the Jeunesse; together, they brought forth Verlaine relics, letters, books, and the three shirts (from the parcel) which Bibi had inherited; together, they talked for hours and hours, sighing and sipping: until Bibi made his famous declaration that he would never lend those shirts and never put on any others. Months went by; Bibi lost his melancholy, was seen rejoicing at the Procope again. No one knew how he lived, nor where; but he got constant bocks and supper sometimes: he was amusing, always obliging. He would run long errands; he would gain grace from Paul's long-suffering landlord. He would sell books on the quays; he knew better than any student how to deal with the officials at the Mont-de-Piete. But all at once a strange passion took possession of him. He had not known it in his youth—it seized him suddenly, and amounted, in short, to this terrible vice: an irresistible craving for other people's umbrellas. His honour tottered before them. Old or new, shabby or smart, they stirred in him dishonest emotion. He would use stratagem, craft: visit corners casually, linger by hatstands lazily, disappear suddenly, until someone would say, "Tiens, ou est Bibi? Et tiens, ou est mon parapluie?" Next morning Bibi would enter the Procope as though nothing had happened, and if accused, reply, "What? I steal umbrellas? I? Bibi la Puree? L'ami du Maitre? Jamais ! Jamais! " Yet friends grew cold to Bibi: instead of the old wink of greeting- when they saw him, began to grasp their umbrellas. They gave him fewer bocks now, fewer suppers; until the anniversary of Verlaine's death approached and a pilgrimage to his tomb was planned. At that moment all hearts went out to Bibi, and all subscribed for a new suit (worthy to go over Verlaine's shirts), and presented it to Bibi at the Procope, after much sympathetic sipping and many a sentimental speech. At the grave Bibi wept bitterly, and the mourners, pitying him, resolved to feast him when the ceremony was done. But alas! Bibi's soul had been stirred by a stack of umbrellas leaning against a tree. It was too much for him: drying his tears, he slipped away, and with him disappeared no less than fifteen umbrellas.
Bibi-la-Purée, debout
Pablo Picasso, 1901
Bibi-la-purée, assis
Pablo Picasso, 1901
  To-day, the Latin Quarter still laughs at the episode. It loves a " farce; " and enjoying the impudence of the thing, patronises Bibi now that he has taken to lending umbrellas. He has made it his profession; lets them out at fifty centimes apiece. Papers have interviewed Bibi—"Bibi on Umbrellas" made a stir in the "Patrie." Chansonniers sing of Bibi—"Les Parapluies de Bibi," at the Noctambules, had a huge success. And cafes put up the notice—"Here, umbrellas are taken charge of by Bibi la Puree..." Day and night, he haunts the Boul' Mich', making himself useful. Peculiar trifles fill his pockets: smelling salts, sticking plaster, needles and thread. He is always to the fore in a fight, always useful in an emergency. Wits call him "le docteur Bibi." Sometimes they try to make him tipsy, but Bibi, suspecting the generous invitation to "order what you like," secretly swallows a mysterious preparation and is strictly sober when his hosts are led home. Often he is seen entertaining queer old ladies in wine shops—friends of sixty years ago, dancers at the opera once, matchsellers now. Together they chant Beranger ditties, talk of the Tuileries, narrate Boulanger anecdotes, shed tears, and take snuff. No feast is complete without Bibi, no carnival cortege. At mi-careme he goes through the streets on a throne, as Bibi simply, with umbrellas about him; or as Voltaire (whom he resembles), wrapped in a cloak, smiling the "sourire malin et tendre;" or as the King of the Quarter, with chamberlains and a brilliant crown. On all points of etiquette—Latin Quarter etiquette—Bibi is consulted; he has a hand, too, in every practical joke. He it was who helped Karl, the student, to trick M. Quesnay de Beaurepaire; the notion of employing a "Veiled Lady" was his. When the conspiracy was at length disclosed, and all Paris a-laughing, Bibi and Karl paid a triumphant visit to Bullier's. Bibi entered with the "Veiled Lady" on his arm; Karl with twenty or thirty friends. A procession was formed, and as the band played the Marche Lorraine, Bibi and the "Veiled Lady" led the way slowly down the ball-room. Shouts went up, cheers—Bibi bowed; Karl, striking an attitude, clasped him warmly by the hand. "Vive Karl!" cried the "Veiled One," "Vive Bibi!" Students came up to pay them homage ; Murger's daughters presented them with roses. Karl and Bibi had to tell their story again and again. How Bullier's screamed as Karl solemnly repeated the words that first impressed M. de Beaurepaire: "Je suis l'homme que vous attendez! " How Bullier's shook when Bibi drew a vivid picture of Karl and himself sipping bock in a cafe, while the "Veiled Lady," closeted with M. de Beaurepaire, was exciting that gentleman with stirring reports of what Karl was doing—in Bale, far away! And how Bullier's cheered when the band struck up again and the procession, still headed by Bibi and the "Veiled Lady," marched off to the Taverne Lorraine for a supper of bock and sandwiches. Toasts were drunk; then, a guest caused some sensation by telling the company that he had a painful duty to perform. Rising, he said, "Bibi, your shirt is blue, and Verlaine's shirts were white. What, O Bibi, of the solemn vow taken in the Procope ? Where, O Bibi, do you expect to go?" "La parole est a Bibi," shouted the guests, and, stammering badly, Bibi rose and replied: "Judge me not harshly, O Jeunesse! I have been elated to-day, lifted sky-ward.

  Above the Latin Quarter the skies are blue; Verlaine loved those skies; Verlaine loved blue." Alas! the excuse was voted feeble, wretched—"O Bibi, Bibi!" sounded round the tables, deep sighs, groans. But Karl intervened: Bibi, he said, was not to be judged harshly on the matter of a shirt nor on the question of an umbrella. His services had blotted out such foibles —he has contributed to the joy of just men, to the idea of the "Veiled Lady." He was forgiven. But—on the morrow, the Quarter expected him to sacrifice that shirt of blue and to renew his vow of fidelity to Paul Verlaine. Husky with emotion, Bibi pledged himself to do as the Quarter ordered; and, offering his arm to the "Veiled Lady," once more led the procession round and round the cafe, among the tables, past the counter, through the door on to the Boul' Mich', now bowing, now smiling: Bibi of the Rive Gauche, Bibi the Bohemian, Bibi la Purée.

Paul Verlaine, Bibi-la-Purée et Stéphane Mallarmé au café Procope
Serafino Macchiati, 1890

Bibi shining shoes  
Jacques Villon , 1900

Twenty years in Paris: being some recollections of a literary life
Robert Harborough Sherard, 1906

    I was very well acquainted for years with that extraordinary person Bibi-la-Purée. Of him it may be said that he seemed a survival of the Middle Ages. His home, had he ever had one, should have been in the Rue de la Grande Truanderie. If he had lived in the Middle Ages he would have been hanged. He had not, like Villon, the talents which appealed to a clever king and twice saved the poet's neck from the halter. Bibi-la-Purée's real name was Andre Salis, and he was very proud of the fact that he was a nephew of the Abbe Salis who gave evidence in the Tichborne trial, and who had been tutor to the real Sir Roger. He was the son of a marchand de vins in Angouleme, and so belonged to what the French call a respectable family, but for many years before his death he had cut himself adrift from all his relations, and the only remnant of his former social position consisted in an annuity of three hundred francs, which he used to draw at an insurance office four times a year.

In the Latin Quarter, which was largely his sphere of activity, a mistaken belief prevailed that he was a student of law, who having eternally failed in his examinations could not tear himself from the scenes of his academic struggles. We all knew the étudiant de quinzieme annee; here was the étudiant de trentecinquieme. But this was not the case. Bibi-la-Purée was a student only in the University of Life.

 André-Joseph Salis de Saglia  
Alias Bibi-la-Purée Cireur de Bottes, Le Roi de la Bohème  
On the quarter-days on which he used to draw his annuity it was not an unusual experience of mine for Bibi-la-Puree to drive up to my house with a huge bouquet in his hand and to beg me to accompany him as his guest. It was, it appeared, a point of honour with him that that same night every penny of his seventy-five francs should be spent—" bouffé" he used to call it. And though I never accompanied him on any of these occasions, I used otherwise to see a great deal of this strange, old man, more, perhaps, than was good for my reputation as an homme sérieux; and I remember being asked one night by a commissary of police who was inquiring into my identity why I chose such a companion for excursions into the lower depths of Paris. I answered that it was difficult, not to say impossible, to find sub-prefects who were ready to accompany one after midnight. If I had cared to explain, I should have said that the study of Bibi-laPuree was as interesting a psychological treat as humanity had ever offered me. Yes, Bibi-la-Purée, who now had the face of Voltaire and now of Louis XI. (the very monarch who would have hanged him in his true period) took one straight back to the Middle Ages.

  I had often regretted that it had not been my lot to live in the days of Francois Villon, that I had not met that strange poet-thief; and in Bibi-la-Purée one found a Villon, or perhaps rather a Gringoire, walking the streets of Paris at the close of the nineteenth century. Not indeed that he had any literary attainments. Indeed, his only attaches to literature were his preference for the society of writers, his long friendship with and devotion to the Poet Verlaine, and a superficial knowledge of what the young men of the Parisian Parnassus were writing. But in his manner of life, in his disregard of social conventions, in his hatred of the police, in his constant difficulties with the gens de la justice he walked the streets of Paris, pilfering and light of heart, a Villon redivivus. Even as Villon or Gringoire, he had an utter detestation of the bourgeois qua bourgeois, and considered him, inasmuch as a Philistine, his natural prey.

In a eulogistic notice of Bibi-la-Purée which appeared in one of the papers, after his death in the Hotel-Dieu, it was recorded to his credit that, unlike his prototypes, he was honest. This is not the case; and without his weakness for peculation, his character would have lost much in interest. As a matter of fact he had served one sentence of a year's imprisonment for stealing a brooch. On this occasion, as in all his other acts of larceny, he was prompted by no selfinterest. He stole because it was in his nature to steal, just as a magpie pilfers. You had to grasp this fact if you wished to enjoy his society, that, like the Taffy of the nursery-rhyme, Bibi was a thief, and you had to take your precautions accordingly.
   Whenever, having met him homeless in the midnight streets of Paris, I had given him a night's shelter in my house, I was always careful before parting with him in the morning to empty his pockets of such trifles as he had purloined during my sleep. What he stole—and he was always stealing—was immediately presented to one of his friends. For instance, he often used to leave parcels for me at my concierge's—an umbrella, some books "collected" at the second-hand stalls on the quays, and on one occasion he left a clock. His speciality, however, as I have mentioned above, was the stealing of umbrellas; and when he entered a café in the Latin Quarter or in Montmartre, you saw everybody rushing for his parapluie. It was understood that this was one of his amiable weaknesses, and nobody, I am sure, ever thought of informing against him. His talents in this direction were exercised much on behalf of his friend the poet Verlaine. when that great man was dying of want and sickness in his miserable garret in the Rue St. Victor. Here the magpie displayed the amiable qualities of the raven in the Bible story. There was something very touching in this association of the genius and the imbecile, of whom one had the outward appearance and the other the sweetest gifts of the mediaeval poet, who, like each of them, had suffered all that Paris offers of suffering, like each of them had lain in gaol. It is recorded that at Verlaine's funeral, at which Bibi-la-Purée represented la famille, and led the procession of mourners, he managed to gain felonious possession of the umbrella of Francois Coppée.

He had no domicile, he had no means of existence, and no property beyond the ragged finery in which he walked about. He was in perpetual masquerade. He usually wore a high hat, and never went abroad without a huge bouquet in his ragged frock-coat. One day I sent him to dispose of a quantity of odds and ends which I was clearing out. There was a pair of spurs, relics of my Melton days, amongst this lumber, and, item, an antique helmet. He was to dispose of these at a second-hand shop at Montmartre, and he was to bring me back the money, for that night my purse was empty. But I saw no more, that dinnerless evening, of this fraudulent bailee. I heard, however, that he had been seen in various parts of Paris wearing my spurs on his heels, his head covered with the antique helmet. In the tails of his frock-coat he carried a pair of blacking-brushes; but his skill in the art of polishing boots was exercised rather for the benefit of his personal friends than for personal gain. You asked Bibi-la-Purée to take a bock, and after he had drunk it he would kneel down in front of everybody in the café and vigorously black your boots.

    In any other country—indeed, in almost any other town than humane and tolerant Paris—Bibi-la-Purée would have spent his life in prison. In England he would have been "dealt with" as an incorrigible rogue and vagabond. Yes, I am afraid that at Quarter Sessions they would have ordered poor Bibi to be birched. In Paris the picturesque harmlessness of his character was so well understood that the very magistrates of the Correctional Police used to treat him with the greatest leniency. He was frequently brought before them for insulting the police, against whom he harboured all the hatred that was entertained for the guet in the Cour des Miracles. Now in France it is a most serious offence to address "outrages" to a policeman in the execution of his duty. It may entail a sentence of one year's imprisonment. Bibi was always lightly punished, even on the famous occasion when he was found clambering into Monsieur Thiers's house on the Place St. Georges, and had to be removed to the police-station in a wheel-barrow, inveighing against the police all the way, and clamouring for the halcyon days of the Republic under le petit Foutriquet.
He died, as Gervaise died, of exposure and want and privation. Tuberculosis was the direct cause, and his last days in the Hotel-Dieu Hospital were easy. He remained a buffoon to the last, and the very evening of the night on which he died he was masquerading up and down the ward, bringing smiles to lips as blanched as his own. Dying, he, the beggar, enacted for these beggars on their death-bed the many trickeries which had been their trade in life. In the penumbra of the long room he mimicked for men who had reached their last infirmity the mock infirmities by which they had wrung compassion and largesse from the world which they were leaving. He turned back his eyelids and parodied the blind. He doubled back his hand and showed a polished stump. He feigned the man who is palsy stricken, and amidst the coughing cachinnations of his audience of experts he played the canting beggar who dupes the pious at the doors of churches. He went out of a world which had not been kind to him, triumphant and mocking to his last breath. He died with the Vos plaudite of the Roman clown expressed in the grin of his lantern jaws. The papers recorded his death as a matter of public interest, told the story of his life, and spoke gently of his foibles.
Paul Verlaine by Dornac
Paris And The Social Revolution: A Study Of The Revolutionary Elements In The Various Classes Of Parisian Society
Alvan Francis Sanborn, 1905 
Of the freaks who now perch in (for they can hardly be said to inhabit) the Quartier Latin, far and away the most famous is Bibi-la-Puree, 

"Qui porte en son caur un vaste mepris
Pour quiconque n'est Boheme ni poete."

No Parisian of the period, perhaps, has been more written about, and none more photographed, sculptured, etched, and painted; and none has done more to divert his time than Bibi. Bibi is by turns an artist's model, a sponge, a simple beggar, a shoeblack, a tourist's guide, a watcher of bicycles at cafe doors, a dealer in photographs of himself and in original poems, a boon companion of poets and artists, and a confidant and counsellor of HudiarUes; but he is first, last, and all the time Bibi the fop, the Beau Tibbs of Latium, the Beau Brummel of the Castalian gutter.

The first time I saw Bibi was in 1895, at an anarchist meeting addressed by Louise Michel, in the rue de la Montagne Ste. Genevieve, back of the Pantheon. He was muffled to the eyes, conspirator-like, in the folds of a rusty, tattered Spanish cloak, faced with dirty red velvet, and wore besides a white yachting cap, white skin-tight pantaloons, gaping patent leather shoes fitted with cavalry spurs, and white gaiters.

The last time I saw Bibi he was pulling an unlighted cigar, and tenderly convoying to his lodging a poet, not of the most obscure, who had been imbibing too freely. He was dight in a red fez, a bright green velvet waistcoat under an Inverness cape (with no jacket intervening), a yellow silk neckerchief, cavalry boots, and baggy brown corduroy trousers; and, if I should itemise all the different costumes it has been my privilege to see Bibi wear between these dates, a large octavo volume would scarcely hold the list. Reputed in some quarters to be an ex-student, an ex-journalist, a political refugee, and a disguised nobleman, and in others to be a blackmailer, a swindler, a thief, a police spy, and a pander, the mystery that envelopes Bibi's present as well as his past—a mystery which his autobiography, published in L'Idee, did appreciably nothing to dispel—gives him a curiosity-piquing charm.

There is no doubt as to Bibi's untidiness, his inordinate vanity, his assurance, his unscrupulousness, and his genuine kindness of heart; but beyond this all is conjecture.

Jehan Rictus in a recent poem, to the recitation of which (at the Noctambules or the Grille) Bibi often listens with his inscrutable smile, has given Bibi a large symbolic significance:—

Complainte pour complaire à Bibi-la-Purée, 1900
Jehan Rictus
Stupeur du badaud, gaîté du trottin,
Le masque à Sardou, la gueule à Voltaire,
La tignasse en pleurs sur maigres vertèbres
Et la requimpette au revers fleuri
D’horribles bouquets pris à la Poubelle,

Ainsi se ballade à travers Paris,
Du brillant Montmartre au Quartier-Latin,
Bibi-la-Purée, le pouilleux célèbre,
Prince des Crasseux et des Purotains !

Le Mufle au sortir d’un bon restaurant
Hurle en le voyant paraître aux terrasses :
— « Quel est ce cochon ? ce gâte-soirée,
Ce Brummell fétide et malodorant,
Vêtu de microb’s et ganté de crasse ?
Vraiment la Police est plutôt mal faite ! »

Mais point ne s’émeut Bibi-la-Purée
Qui porte en son cœur un vaste mépris
Pour quiconque n’est bohème ou poète.

Et lors il s’en va promener ailleurs
Sa triste élégance et sa flânerie.
Cy sont ses métiers, besognes étranges
Et premièrement, simple j’m’en-foutiste,
Puis, chacun le sait, ami de Verlaine,
Ami des ponant’s, ami des artistes,
Modèle à sculpteurs dans les ateliers,
Guide à étrangers, cireurs de souliers,
Vadrouilleur encore, s’il vous plaît, bon ange,
Bon ange à poivrots perdus dans la nuit,
Estampeur, filou, truqueur proxénète,
Ainsi va Bibi, l’illustre Bibi !

On dit de Bibi : — « Chut ! c’est un mouchard. »
D’autres : — « Taisez-vous, il est bachelier ! »
Et d’autres encor : — « Bibi est rentier. »
Mais nul ne peut croire à la Vérité :
Bibi-la-Purée, c’est le Grand-Déchard.

Et quel âge a-t-il ? on ne sait pas bien.
Son nom symbolique en le largongi
Proclame qu’il est assez ancien,
Quasi éternel comme la Misère,
Et trimballes-tu, tu trimballeras,
Ô Bibi, toujours ta rare effigie.
Bibi-la-Purée jamais ne mourra.

Va, comédien, noble compagnon,
Cabot de misère, ami de Verlaine,
Errant de Paris, spectre d’un autre âge
Que ne renieraient Gringoire ou Villon,

Vilain, dégoûtant, lécheur de bottines,
Gibier de prison, chair à échafaud
Que couve l’œil blanc de la guillotine,
Dandy loqueteux, fabuleux salaud,

Ô qui que tu sois, gas d’expédients,
Ministre déchu, ex-étudiant,
Mouchard ou voleur, suce-croquenots,
Tu portes un nom bien plus beau que toi :

— « Bibi-la-Purée » : a dit la Putain ;
— « Bibi-la-Purée », dit la Faubourienne
Aussi la Mondaine, aussi le Bourgeois ;
— « Bibi-the-Piourée », daigne l’Angleterre,
— Bibi-la-Purée, songe le Poète...
C’est le Pèlerin, c’est le Solitaire
Qui depuis toujours marche sur la Terre...
C’est un sobriquet bon pour l’Être Humain.

Bibi was a humble follower and adorer—slave almost—of Verlaine, who playfully honored him with the following verses in his Dédicaces:

A Bibi-Purée, 1894
 Paul Verlaine

Type épatant
Et drôle tant !

Quel Dieu te crée
Ce chic, pourtant,
Qui nous agrée,

Pourtant, aussi,
Ta gentillesse
Notre liesse,
Et ton souci 

De l'obligeance
Notre gaiet
Ta pauvret
Ton opulence?

A sincere mourner for Verlaine since his death, Bibi regards it as his special mission to cherish the cult of the dead poet's memory.

The sincerity of Bibi's mourning, however, has not prevented him from turning an honest penny by selling the inscribed volumes Verlaine had given him, nor from turning many a dishonest penny by selling, as relics, copies of Verlaine's works supplied with forged inscriptions, and numerous other objects Verlaine never saw.

Thanks to Bibi's zeal, Verlaine's last cane and last pipe have been multiplied, like "the only true cross," and have taken up their abodes in the poetic shrines of two hemispheres.*
It is impossible to think of Bibi without thinking of the Mere Casimir, lately deceased, who was, for some reason, Bibi's most cordial aversion.

The Mere Casimir was a tiny, twisted, shrivelled old flowerwoman, who claimed to be an ex-danseuse of the Opera and to have had for friends " princes and marquises," and who was ready at any moment, in consideration of a few sous, to prove it by executing certain grotesque Terpsichorean movements on the sidewalk.

While the Mere Casimir was still alive, there was nothing that delighted the students more than bringing about an encounter between her and Bibi, and hearing the pair blackguard each other. Only once, so far as history records, was there a truce between them,—a certain Mi-careme, when, Bibi having been elected king and the Mere Casimir queen of the fete, they paraded the streets of Paris together in the same car. On that day the antipathetic pair were so impressed with the dignities and responsibilities of their position that they treated each other with royal magnanimity. Bibi even went farther than strict etiquette required.

•Since these lines were written, word has come, alas! that Bibi is dead.

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