Paris - Tugboats And Barges
( Originally Published 1921 )
There are boats tugboats and barges on the river, and they may serve very well as a lesson in French. At Paris, a Seine barge may be anything from a berrichon, a mar-gota, a flute, to a chaland. It all depends upon the size, and the sizes range from those a hundred to those one hundred and fifty feet long, from fifteen feet broad to twenty-five; they range from two hundred and fifty to six hundred tons, and the tugs from one hundred to two hundred and fifty tons.
You will discover a numbered series of tugs called Gučpes (Wasps); at Rouen they are called Abeilles (Bees). There is a series named for birds. One amusing series of barges is named for the cities of the world, the clumsiest I have yet seen being called Carthage. Then there are those named for French provinces, and others which show sentiment : Fructidor, which suggests historical admiration; Alea Jacta Est (the die is cast), with only a canal waiting to play its rôle of Rubicon.
The Solitaire denotes an attitude of mind; the Oxus and the Aetna must be of foreign breed. Jupiter seemed to be out of the running when I saw him, but not so the tug Neptunus which had as so often happens in Paris Phoebus in tow.
There is a great deal of sentiment in anything which floats, and the slower it floats, the greater the sentiment.