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Title: Raphael - Pages of the Book of Life at Twenty
Author: Lamartine, Alphonse de, 1790-1869
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: ALPHONSE DE LAMARATINE.]



RAPHAEL, or

PAGES OF THE BOOK OF LIFE AT TWENTY

BY ALPHONSE DE LAMARTINE


_ILLUSTRATED BY SANDOZ_


SOCIÉTÉ DES BEAUX-ARTS
PARIS, LONDON AND NEW YORK

1905


Comédie d'Amour Series



INTRODUCTION


It is all very well for Lamartine to explain, in his original prologue,
that the touching, fascinating and pathetic story of Raphael was the
experience of another man. It is well known that these feeling pages
are but transcripts of an episode of his own heart-history. That the
tale is one of almost feminine sentimentality is due, in some measure,
perhaps, to the fact that, during his earliest and most impressionable
years, Lamartine was educated by his mother and was greatly influenced
by her ardent and poetical character. Who shall say how much depends on
one's environment during these tender years of childhood, and how often
has it not been proved that "the child is father to the man?" The
marvel of it is that a man so exquisitely sensitive, of such
extraordinary delicacy of feeling, should have been able, in later
years, to stand the storm and stress of political life and the grave
responsibilities of statesmanship.

Although not written in metrical form, Raphael is really a poem--a
prose poem. Never upon canvas of painter were spread more delicate
tints, hues, colors, shadings, blendings and suggestions, than in these
pages. Not only do we find ourselves, in the descriptions of scenery,
near to Nature's heart, but, in the story itself, near to the heart of
man. Aix in Savoy was, in Lamartine's time, a fashionable resort for
valitudinarians and invalids. Among the patrons of the place was Madame
Charles, whose memory Lamartine has immortalized as "Julie" in Raphael
and as "Elvire" in the beautiful lines of the _Méditations_. In drawing
the character "Julie," idealism and sentimentalism have full play. The
whole story is romantic in the extreme. The influence of Byron is
clearly to be seen. The beautiful hills of Savoy, tinged with the
melancholy tints of autumn, were a fit setting for the meeting with the
fair invalid. Besides physical invalidism, the pair were soul-sick and
heart-sick. Such were their points of sympathy, an affinity was the
most natural thing in the world. "Ships that pass in the night" were
these two creatures, stranded by illness, "out of the world's way,
hidden apart." At the feast of pure, unselfish, romantic love that
followed, there was always a death's-head present, always the sinking
fear, always the mute resignation on one side or the other. Death and
love have been a combination that poets have used since the world
began. And so, as the early snow whitened the pines on the hilltops of
Savoy, this pathetic and ultra-sentimental love-affair between the
banished _Parisienne_ and the poet had its beginning. That it could
have but one ending the reader knows from the start. But with what
breathless interest do we follow this history of love! We seem to be
admitted to the confidences of beings of another sphere, to celestial
heights of affection. We hear the heart-beats and see the glances of
the languid, languorous eyes. The universe itself seems to stand still
for these two lovers. Their heads are among the stars, their hearts in
heaven. Their love is as pure as a sonnet of Keats, as ineffable as
shimmering starlight. Day by day we trace its current, we cannot say
growth because it sprang into life full-grown. Although Julie said that
"her life was not worth a tear," she caused torrents of tears to flow.
From the first, their love seemed centuries old, so entirely was it a
part of their being. Day after day their souls were revealed to each
other, their hearts became more united. Every pure chord of psychic
affection was struck, even almost to the distracting discord of suicide
together, that they might never part, and from which they were saved as
by a miracle. In such unsullied love, there is an element of worship.
It is the sublimation of passion, freed from sensuous dross, a
spiritual efflorescence, a white flame of the soul.

The parting of the lover, the pursuit, their meeting again in Julie's
home in Paris, the flickering candle of her waning life, burning down
to its socket, the touching interchange of letters, the gathering
shadows of the end, all these have stirred the hearts of entire
Christendom, appealing to all ages and conditions. Raphael is a lovers'
rosary.--C. C. STARKWEATHER.



LAMARTINE AND HIS WRITINGS


Lamartine was born at Mâcon, October 21, 1790. His father was
imprisoned during the Terror, narrowly escaping the guillotine. Taught
at first by his mother, young Lamartine was sent to a boarding school
at Lyons, and later to the college of the Pères de la Foi at Belley.
Here he remained till 1809, and after studying at home for two years,
he traveled in Italy, taking notes and receiving impressions which were
to prove so valuable to him in his literary work. He saw service in the
Royal Body-Guard upon the restoration of the Bourbons. When Napoleon
came back from Elba, Lamartine went to Switzerland and then to Aix in
Savoy. At Aix he fell in love with Madame Charles, who died in 1817.
This love-episode, ending so pathetically, became the subject of much
of his verse, and forms the basis of the famous Raphael, a book of the
purest, most delicate and elevated sentiment. Resigning from the guard,
he enjoyed two more "wander-years," revisiting Switzerland, Savoy and
Italy.

A collection of his poems, including the famous _Lac_, was published
under the title _Méditations Poétiques_ in 1820, and leaped into
immediate popularity both with the sternest critics and the public at
large. His literary success led to political preferment, and he entered
the diplomatic service as Secretary to the French Embassy at Naples in
1823. That same year he was married at Geneva to an English lady,
Marianne Birch. His second volume of poetry now appeared, the
_Nouvelles Méditations_. He was transferred to Florence in 1824. In
1825 he published his continuation of Byron, _Le Dernier Chant du
Pélérinage de Childe Harold_. A passage in this poem gave offense to an
Italian officer, Colonel Pepe, with whom Lamartine fought a duel. The
_Harmonies Politiques et Réligieuses_ appeared in 1829. He became
active in politics, and was sent on a special mission to Prince Leopold
of Saxe-Coburg, afterward King of the Belgians. He was elected during
this year to the French Academy, at his second candidacy.

After the publication of his pamphlet _La Politique Rationelle_ he was
defeated in a contest for membership in the National Assembly. He
started, in 1832, upon a long journey in the East with his wife and
daughter, Julia. The latter died at Beyrout in 1833. A description of
his travels was the theme of his _Voyage en Orient_, appearing in 1835.
In his absence he had been elected from Bergues to the Assembly, in
which, on his return, he made his first speech early in 1834. As a
political orator his power was second to none.

His poems now became more philosophical. _Jocelyn_ was printed in 1836,
_La Chute d'Un Ange_ in 1838, and _Les Recueillements_ in 1839. A
political as well as a literary sensation was produced by his _Histoire
des Girondins_, 1847, which, in fact, was inspired by his newly
acquired belief in democracy. He became Minister of Foreign Affairs of
the Provisional Government in 1848, was elected to the new Assembly
from ten different departments, and became a member of the Executive
Committee, which made him one of the most conspicuous statesmen of
Europe. He was unsuited, however, for executive authority, and soon
disappeared from power, being supplanted in popular favor by Cavaignac.
His rise and fall in the field of statesmanship were equally sudden,
the same year including both.

Lamartine now began to pay off his debts by literary labor. _Les
Confidences_, containing _Graziella_ and the ever popular _Raphael_
came from the press in 1849, followed by the _Nouvelles Confidences_ in
1851. Among his other works are: _Genièvre_, 1849; _Le Tailleur de
Pierres de Saint Point_, 1851; _Fior d'Aliza_, 1866; and the histories,
_Histoire de la Restauration_, 1851-1853; _Histoire de la Turquie_,
1854; _Histoire de la Russie_, 1855. His wife died in 1863. He had not
been able to save much money, and, in 1867, when he was an old man, the
Government of France came to his assistance with a pension of 25,000
francs. He died, March 1, 1869, having profoundly influenced the
literature of his time. His works have been translated into many
languages. A beautiful monument to his memory was erected by public
subscription near Mâcon, in 1874.

C.C.S.



ILLUSTRATIONS:

     ALPHONSE DE LAMARTINE

     RAPHAEL'S DEVOTION

     THE LOVERS' COMPACT

     RAPHAEL SEES JULIE IN PARIS



PROLOGUE


The real name of the friend who wrote these pages was not Raphael. We
often called him so in sport, because in his boyhood he much resembled
a youthful portrait of Raphael, which may be seen in the Barberini
gallery at Rome, at the Pitti palace in Florence, and at the Museum of
the Louvre. We had given him the name, too, because the distinctive
feature of this youth's character was his lively sense of the beautiful
in Nature and Art,--a sense so keen, that his mind was, so to speak,
merely the shadowing forth of the ideal or material beauty scattered
through-out the works of God and man. This feeling was the result of
his exquisite and almost morbid sensibility,--morbid, at least, until
time had somewhat blunted it. We would sometimes, in allusion to those
who, from their ardent longings to revisit their country, are called
home-sick, say that he was heaven-sick, and he would smile, and say
that we were right.

This love of the beautiful made him unhappy; in another situation it
might have rendered him illustrious. Had he held a pencil he would have
painted the Virgin of Foligno; as a sculptor, he would have chiselled
the Psyche of Canova; had he known the language in which sounds are
written, he would have noted the aerial lament of the sea breeze
sighing among the fibres of Italian pines, or the breathing of a
sleeping girl who dreams of one she will not name; had he been a poet,
he would have written the stanzas of Tasso's "Erminia," the moonlight
talk of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," or Byron's portrait of
Haidee.

He loved the good as well as the beautiful, but he loved not virtue for
its holiness, he loved it for its beauty. He would have been aspiring
in imagination, although he was not ambitious by character. Had he
lived in those ancient republics where men attained their full
development through liberty, as the free, unfettered body develops
itself in pure air and open sunshine, he would have aspired to every
summit like Cæsar, he would have spoken as Demosthenes, and would have
died as Cato. But his inglorious and obscure destiny confined him,
against his will, in speculative inaction,--he had wings to spread, and
no surrounding air to bear them up. He died young, straining his gaze
into the future, and ardently surveying the space over which he was
never to travel.

Every one knows the youthful portrait of Raphael to which I have
alluded. It represents a youth of sixteen, whose face is somewhat paled
by the rays of a Roman sun, but on whose cheek still blooms the soft
down of childhood. A glancing ray of light seems to play on the velvet
of the cheek. He leans his elbow on a table; the arm is bent upwards to
support the head, which rests on the palm of the hand, and the
admirably modelled fingers are lightly imprinted on the cheek and chin;
the delicate mouth is thoughtful and melancholy; the nose is slender at
its rise, and slightly tinged with blue, as though the azure veins
shone through the fair transparency of the skin; the eyes are of that
dark heavenly hue which the Apennines wear at the approach of dawn, and
they gaze earnestly forward, but are slightly raised to heaven, as
though they ever looked higher than Nature,--a liquid lustre
illuminates their inmost depths, like rays dissolved in dew or tears.
On the scarcely arched brow, beneath the delicate skin, we trace the
muscles, those responsive chords of the instrument of thought; the
temples seem to throb with reflection; the ear appears to listen; the
dark hair, unskilfully cut by a sister or some young companion of the
studio, casts a shadow upon the hand and cheek; and a small cap of
black velvet, placed on the crown of the head, shades the brow. One
cannot pass before this portrait without musing sadly, one knows not
why. It represents the revery of youthful genius pausing on the
threshold of its destiny. What will be the fate of that soul standing
at the portal of life?

Now, in idea, add six years to the age of that dreaming boy; suppose
the features bolder, the complexion more bronzed; place a few furrows
on the brow, slightly dim the look, sadden the lips, give height to the
figure, and throw out the muscles in bolder relief; let the Italian
costume of the days of Leo X. be exchanged for the sombre and plain
uniform of a youth bred in the simplicity of rural life, who seeks no
elegance in dress,--and, if the pensive and languid attitude be
retained, you will have the striking likeness of our "Raphael" at the
age of twenty-two.

He was of a poor, though ancient family, from the mountainous province
of Forez, and his father, whose sole dignity was that of honor (worth
all others), had, like the nobles of Spain, exchanged the sword for the
plough. His mother, still young and handsome, seemed his sister, so
much did they resemble each other. She had been bred amid the luxurious
elegancies of a capital; and as the balmy essence of the rose perfumes
the crystal vase of the seraglio in which it has once been contained,
so she, too, had preserved that fragrant atmosphere of manners and
language which never evaporates entirely.

In her secluded mountains, with the loved husband of her choice, and
with her children, in whom she had complacently centred all the pride
of her maternal heart, she had regretted nothing. She closed the fair
book of youth at these three words,--"God, husband, children." Raphael
especially was her best beloved. She would have purchased for him a
kingly destiny, but, alas, she had only her heart with which to raise
him up, for their slender fortune, and their dreams of prosperity,
would ever and anon crumble to their very foundation beneath the hand
of fate.

Two holy men, driven by persecution to the mountains, had, soon after
the Reign of Terror, taken refuge in her house. They had been
persecuted as members of a mystical religious sect which dimly
predicted a renovation of the age. They loved Raphael, who was then a
mere child, and, obscurely prophesying his fate, pointed out his star
in the heavens, and told his mother to watch over that son with all her
heart. She reproached herself for being too credulous, for she was very
pious; but still she believed them. In such matters, a mother is so
easy of belief! Her credulity supported her under many trials, but
spurred her to efforts beyond her means to educate Raphael, and
ultimately deceived her.

I had known Raphael since he was twelve years old, and next to his
mother he loved me best on earth. We had met since the conclusion of
our studies, first in Paris, then at Rome, whither he had been taken by
one of his father's relatives, for the purpose of copying manuscripts
in the Vatican Library. There he had acquired the impassioned language
and the genius of Italy. He spoke Italian better than his mother
tongue. At evening he would sit beneath the pines of the Villa
Pamphili, and gazing on the setting sun and on the white fragments
scattered on the plain, like the bleached bones of departed Rome, would
pour forth extemporaneous stanzas that made us weep; but he never
wrote. "Raphael," would I sometimes say, "why do you not write?"

"Ah!" would he answer, "does the wind write what it sighs in this
harmonious canopy of leaves? Does the sea write the wail of its shores?
Nought that has been written is truly, really beautiful, and the heart
of man never discloses its best and most divine portion. It is
impossible! The instrument is of flesh, and the note is of fire!
Between what is felt and what is expressed," would he add, mournfully,
"there is the same distance as between the soul and the twenty-six
letters of an alphabet! Immensity of distance! Think you a flute of
reeds can give an idea of the harmony of the spheres?"

I left him to return to Paris. He was at that time striving, through
his mother's interest, to obtain some situation in which he might by
active employment remove from his soul its heavy weight, and lighten
the oppressive burden of his fate. Men of his own age sought him, and
women looked graciously on him as he passed them by. But he never went
into society, and of all women he loved his mother only.

We suddenly lost sight of him for three years; though we afterwards
learned that he had been seen in Switzerland, Germany, and Savoy; and
that in winter he passed many hours of his nights on a bridge, or on
one of the quays of Paris. He had all the appearance of extreme
destitution. It was only many years afterwards that we learned more. We
constantly thought of him, though absent, for he was one of those who
could defy the forgetfulness of friends.

Chance reunited us once more after an interval of twelve years. It so
happened that I had inherited a small estate in his province, and when
I went there to dispose of it, I inquired after Raphael. I was told
that he had lost father, mother, and wife in the space of a few years;
that after these pangs of the heart, he had had to bear the blows of
fortune, and that of all the domain of his fathers, nothing now
remained to him but the old dismantled tower on the edge of the ravine,
the garden, orchard, and meadow, with a few acres of unproductive land.
These he ploughed himself, with two miserable cows; and was only
distinguished from his peasant neighbors by the book which he carried
to the field, and which he would sometimes hold in one hand, while the
other directed the plough. For many weeks, however, he had not been
seen to leave his wretched abode. It was supposed that he had started
on one of those long journeys which with him lasted years. "It would be
a pity," it was said, "for every one in the neighborhood loves him;
though poor, he does as much good as any rich man. Many a warm piece of
cloth has been made from the wool of his sheep; at night he teaches the
little children of the surrounding hamlets how to read and write, or
draw. He warms them at his hearth, and shares his bread with them,
though God knows he has not much to spare when crops are short, as this
year."

It was thus all spoke of Raphael. I wished to visit at least the abode
of my friend, and was directed to the foot of the hillock, on the
summit of which stood the blackened tower, with its surrounding sheds
and stables, amid a group of hazel-trees. A trunk of a tree, which had
been thrown across, enabled me to pass over the almost dried-up torrent
of the ravine, and I climbed the steep path, the loose stones giving
way under my feet. Two cows and three sheep were grazing on the barren
sides of the hillock, and were tended by an old half-blind servant, who
was telling his beads seated on an ancient escutcheon of stone, which
had fallen from the arch of the doorway.

He told me that Raphael was not gone, but had been ill for the last two
months; that it was plain he would never leave the tower but for the
churchyard; and the old man pointed with his meagre hand to the burying
ground on the opposite hill. I asked if I could see Raphael. "Oh, yes,"
said the old man; "go up the steps, and draw the string of the latch of
the great hall-door on the left. You will find him stretched on his
bed, as gentle as an angel, and," added he drawing the back of his hand
across his eyes, "as simple as a child!" I mounted the steep and
worn-out steps which wound round the outside of the tower, and ended at
a small platform covered by a tiled roof, the broken tiles of which
strewed the stone steps. I lifted the latch of the door on my left, and
entered. Never shall I forget the sight. The chamber was vast,
occupying all the space between the four walls of the tower; it was
lighted from two windows, with stone cross-bars, and the dusty and
broken lozenge-shaped panes of glass were set in lead. The huge beams
of the ceiling were blackened by smoke, the floor was paved with
bricks, and in a high chimney with roughly fluted wooden jambs, an iron
pot filled with potatoes was suspended over a fire, where a long branch
was burning, or rather smoking. The only articles of furniture were two
high-backed arm-chairs, covered with a plain-colored stuff, of which it
was impossible to guess the original color; a large table, half covered
with an unbleached linen table-cloth in which a loaf was wrapped, the
other half being strewed pell-mell with papers and books; and, lastly,
a rickety, worm-eaten four-post bedstead, with its blue serge curtains
looped back to admit the rays of the sun, and the air from the open
window.

A man who was still young, but attenuated by consumption and want, was
seated on the edge of the bed, occupied in throwing crumbs to a whole
host of swallows which were wheeling their flight around him.

The birds flew away at the noise of my approach, and perched on the
cornice of the hall, or on the tester of the bed. I recognized Raphael,
pale and thin as he was. His countenance, though no longer youthful,
had not lost its peculiar character; but a change had come over its
loveliness, and its beauty was now of the grave. Rembrandt would have
wished for no better model for his "Christ in the Garden of Olives."
His dark hair clustered thickly on his shoulders, and was thrown back
in disorder, as by the weary hand of the laborer when the sweat and
toil of the day is over. The long untrimmed beard grew with a natural
symmetry that disclosed the graceful curve of the lip, and the contour
of the cheek; there was still the noble outline of the nose, the fair
and delicate complexion, the pensive and now sunken eye. His shirt,
thrown open on the chest, displayed his muscular though attenuated
frame, which might yet have appeared majestic, had his weakness allowed
him to sit erect.

He knew me at a glance, made one step forward with extended arms, and
fell back upon the bed. We first wept, and then talked together. He
related the past; how, when he had thought to cull the flowers or
fruits of life, his hopes had ever been marred by fortune or by
death,--the loss of his father, mother, wife, and child; his reverses
of fortune, and the compulsory sale of his ancestral domain; he told
how he retired to his ruined home, with no other companionship than
that of his mother's old herdsman, who served him without pay, for the
love he bore to his house; and lastly, spoke of the consuming languor
which would sweep him away with the autumnal leaves, and lay him in the
churchyard beside those he had loved so well. His intense imaginative
faculty might be seen strong even in death, and in idea he loved to
endow with a fanciful sympathy the turf and flowers which would blossom
on his grave.

"Do you know what grieves me most?" said he, pointing to the fringe of
little birds which were perched round the top of his bed. "It is to
think that next spring these poor little ones, my latest friends, will
seek for me in vain in the tower. They will no longer find the broken
pane through which to fly in; and on the floor, the little flocks of
wool from my mattress with which to build their nests. But the old
nurse, to whom I bequeath my little all, will take care of them as long
as she lives," he resumed, as if to comfort himself with the idea; "and
after her--Well! God will; for He feedeth the young ravens."

He seemed moved while speaking of these little creatures. It was easy
to see that he had long been weaned from the sympathy of men, and that
the whole tenderness of his soul, which had been repulsed by them, was
now transferred to dumb animals. "Will you spend any time among our
mountains?" he inquired. "Yes," I replied. "So much the better," he
added; "you will close my eyes, and take care that my grave is dug as
close as possible to those of my mother, wife, and child."

He then begged me to draw towards him a large chest of carved wood,
which was concealed beneath a bag of Indian corn at one end of the
room. I placed the chest upon the bed, and from it he drew a quantity
of papers which he tore silently to pieces for half an hour, and then
bid his old nurse sweep them into the fire. There were verses in many
languages, and innumerable pages of fragments, separated by dates, like
memoranda. "Why should you burn all these?" I timidly suggested; "has
not man a moral as well as a material inheritance to bequeath to those
who come after him? You are perhaps destroying thoughts and feelings
which might have quickened a soul."

"What matters it?" he said; "there are tears enough in this world, and
we need not deposit a few more in the heart of man. These," said he,
showing the verses, "are the cast-off, useless feathers of my soul; it
has moulted since then, and spread its bolder wings for eternity!" He
then continued to burn and destroy, while I looked out of the broken
window at the dreary landscape.

At length he called me once more to the bedside. "Here," said he--"save
this one little manuscript, which I have not courage to burn. When I am
gone, my poor nurse would make bags for her seeds with it, and I would
not that the name which fills its pages should be profaned. Take, and
keep it till you hear that I am no more. After my death you may burn
it, or preserve it till your old age, to think of me sometimes as you
glance over it."

I hid the roll of paper beneath my cloak, and took my leave, resolving
inwardly to return the next day to soothe the last moments of Raphael
by my care and friendly discourse. As I descended the steps, I saw
about twenty little children with their wooden shoes in their hands,
who had come to take the lessons which he gave them, even on his
death-bed. A little further on, I met the village priest, who had come
to spend the evening with him. I bowed respectfully, and as he noted my
swollen eyes, he returned my salute with an air of mournful sympathy.

The next day I returned to the tower. Raphael had died during the
night, and the village bell was already tolling for his burial. Women
and children were standing at their doors, looking mournfully in the
direction of the tower, and in the little green field adjoining the
church, two men, with spades and mattock, were digging a grave at the
foot of a cross.

I drew near to the door. A cloud of twittering swallows were fluttering
round the open windows, darting in and out, as though the spoiler had
robbed their nests.

Since then I have read these pages, and now know why he loved to be
surrounded by these birds, and what memories they waked in him, even to
his dying day.



RAPHAEL



I.


There are places and climates, seasons and hours, with their outward
circumstance, so much in harmony with certain impressions of the heart,
that Nature and the soul of man appear to be parts of one vast whole;
and if we separate the stage from the drama, or the drama from the
stage, the whole scene fades, and the feeling vanishes. If we take from
René the cliffs of Brittany, or the wild savannahs from Atala, the
mists of Swabia from Werther, or the sunny waves and scorched-up hills
from Paul and Virginia, we can neither understand Chateaubriand,
Bernardin de St. Pierre, or Goethe. Places and events are closely
linked, for Nature is the same in the eye as in the heart of man. We
are earth's children, and life is the same in sap as in blood; all that
the earth, our mother, feels and expresses to the eye by her form and
aspect, in melancholy or in splendor, finds an echo within us. One
cannot thoroughly enter into certain feelings, save in the spot where
they first had birth.



II.


At the entrance of Savoy, that natural labyrinth of deep valleys, which
descend like so many torrents from the Simplon, St. Bernard, and Mount
Cenis, and direct their course towards France and Switzerland, one
wider valley separates at Chambéry from the Alpine chain, and, striking
off towards Geneva and Annecy, displays its verdant bed, intersected
with lakes and rivers, between the Mont du Chat and the almost mural
mountains of Beauges.

On the left, the Mont du Chat, like a gigantic rampart, runs in one
uninterrupted ridge for the space of two leagues, marking the horizon
with a dark and scarcely undulated line. A few jagged peaks of gray
rock at the eastern extremity alone break the almost geometrical
monotony of its appearance, and tell that it was the hand of God, and
not of man, that piled up these huge masses. Towards Chambéry, the
mountain descends by gentle steps to the plain, and forms natural
terraces, clothed with walnut and chestnut trees, entwined with
clusters of the creeping vine. In the midst of this wild, luxuriant
vegetation, one sees here and there some country-house shining through
the trees, the tall spire of a humble village, or the old dark towers
and battlements of some castle of a bygone age. The plain was once a
vast lake, and has preserved the hollowed form, the indented shores,
and advanced promontories of its former aspect; but in lieu of the
spreading waters, there are the yellow waves of the bending corn, or
the undulating summit of the verdant poplars. Here and there, a piece
of rising ground, which was once an island, may be seen with its
clusters of thatched roofs, half hidden among the branches. Beyond this
dried-up basin, the Mont du Chat rises more abrupt and bold, its base
washed by the waters of a lake, as blue as the firmament above it. This
lake, which is not more than six leagues in length, varies in breadth
from one to three leagues, and is surrounded and hemmed in with bold,
steep rocks on the French side; on the Savoy side, on the contrary, it
winds unmolested into several creeks and small bays, bordered by
vine-covered hillocks and well-wooded slopes, and skirted by fig-trees
whose branches dip into its very waters. The lake then dwindles away
gradually to the foot of the rocks of Châtillon, which open to afford a
passage for the overflow of its waters into the Rhône. The burial-place
of the princes of the house of Savoy, the abbey of Haute-Combe, stands
on the northern side upon its foundation of granite, and projects the
vast shadow of its spacious cloisters on the waters of the lake.
Screened during the day from the rays of the sun by the high barrier of
the Mont du Chat, the edifice, from the obscurity which envelops it,
seems emblematical of the eternal night awaiting at its gates, the
princes who descend from a throne into its vaults. Towards evening,
however, a ray of the setting sun strikes and reverberates on its
walls, as a beacon to mark the haven of life at the close of day. A few
fishing boats, without sails, glide silently on the deep waters,
beneath the shade of the mountain, and from their dingy color can
scarcely be distinguished from its dark and rocky sides. Eagles, with
their dusky plumage, incessantly hover over the cliffs and boats, as if
to rob the nets of their prey, or make a sudden swoop at the birds
which follow in the wake of the boats.



III.


At no great distance, the little town of Aix, in Savoy, steaming with
its hot springs, and redolent of sulphur, is seated on the slope of a
hill covered with vineyards, orchards, and meadows. A long avenue of
poplars, the growth of a century, connects the lake with the town, and
reminds one of those far-stretching rows of cypresses which lead to
Turkish cemeteries. The meadows and fields, on either side of this
road, are intersected by the rocky beds of the often dried-up mountain
torrents and shaded by giant walnut-trees, upon whose boughs vines as
sturdy as those of the woods of America hang their clustering branches.
Here and there, a distant vista of the lake shows its surface,
alternately sparkling or lead-colored, as the passing cloud or the hour
of the day may make it.

When I arrived at Aix, the crowd had already left it. The hotels and
public places, where strangers and idlers flock during the summer, were
then closed. All were gone, save a few infirm paupers, seated in the
sun, at the door of the lowest description of inns; and some invalids,
past all hope of recovery, who might be seen, during the hottest hours
of the day, dragging their feeble steps along, and treading the
withered leaves that had fallen from the poplars during the night.



IV.


The autumn was mild, but had set in early. The leaves which had been
blighted by the morning frost fell in roseate showers from the vines
and chestnut-trees. Until noon, the mist overspread the valley, like an
overflowing nocturnal inundation, covering all but the tops of the
highest poplars in the plain; the hillocks rose in view like islands,
and the peaks of mountains appeared as headlands in the midst of ocean;
but when the sun rose higher in the heavens, the mild southerly breeze
drove before it all these vapors of earth. The rushing of the
imprisoned winds in the gorges of the mountains, the murmur of the
waters, and the whispering trees, produced sounds melodious or
powerful, sonorous or melancholy, and seemed in a few minutes to run
through the whole range of earth's joys and sorrows its strength or its
melancholy. They stirred up one's very soul, then died away like the
voices of celestial spirits, that pass and disappear. Silence, such as
the ear has no preception of elsewhere, succeeded, and hushed all to
rest. The sky resumed its almost Italian serenity; the Alps stood out
once more against a cloudless sky; the drops from the dissolving mist
fell pattering on the dry leaves, or shone like brilliants on the
grass. These hours were quickly over; the pale blue shades of evening
glided swiftly on, veiling the horizon with their cold drapery as with
a shroud. It seemed the death of Nature, dying, as youth and beauty
die, with all its charms, and all its serenity.

Scenes such as these exhibiting Nature in its languid beauty were too
much in accordance with my feelings. While they gave an additional
charm to my own languor, they increased it, and I voluntarily plunged
into an abyss of melancholy. But it was a melancholy so replete with
thoughts, impressions, and elevating desires, with so soft a twilight
of the soul, that I had no wish to shake it off. It was a malady the
very consciousness of which was an allurement, rather than a pain, and
in which Death appeared but as a voluptuous vanishing into space. I had
given myself up to the charm, and had determined to keep aloof from
society, which might have dissipated it, and in the midst of the world
to wrap myself in silence, solitude, and reserve. I used my isolation
of mind as a shroud to shut out the sight of men, so as to contemplate
God and Nature only.

Passing by Chambery, I had seen my friend, Louis de ----; I had found
him in the same state of mind as myself, disgusted with the bitterness
of life, his genius, unappreciated, the body worn out by the mind, and
all his better feelings thrown back upon his heart.

Louis had mentioned to me a quiet and secluded house, in the higher
part of the town of Aix, where invalids were admitted to board. The
establishment was conducted by a worthy old doctor (who had retired
from the profession), and communicated with the town by a narrow
pathway, which lay between the streams that issue from the hot springs.
The back of the house looked on a garden surrounded by trellis and vine
arbors; and beyond that there were paths where goats only were to be
seen, which led to the mountain through sloping meadows, and through
woods of chestnut and walnut-trees. Louis had promised to join me at
Aix, as soon as he should have settled some business, consequent on the
death of his mother, which detained him at Chambéry. I looked forward
with pleasure to his arrival, for we understood each other, and the
same feeling of disenchantment was common to us both. Grief knits two
hearts in closer bonds than happiness ever can; and common sufferings
are far stronger links than common joys. Louis was, at that particular
time, the only person whose society was not distasteful to me, and yet
I awaited his arrival without eagerness or impatience.



V.


I was kindly and graciously received in the house of the old doctor,
and a room was allotted to me, which overlooked the garden and the
country beyond. Almost all the other rooms were untenanted, and the
long table d'hôte was deserted. At meal times a few invalids from
Chambéry and Turin, who had over-stayed the season, assembled with the
family. These boarders had arrived late, when most of the visitors of
the baths were already gone, in hopes of finding cheaper lodgings, and
a style of living in accordance with their poverty. There was no one
with whom I could converse or form a passing acquaintance. This the old
doctor and his wife soon saw, and threw the blame on the advanced
season, and on the bathers who had left too soon. They often spoke with
visible enthusiasm, and tender and compassionate respect, of a young
stranger, a lady, who had remained at the baths in a weak and languid
state of health, which it was feared would degenerate into slow
consumption. She had lived alone with her maid for the last three
months, in one of the most retired apartments of the house, taking her
meals in her own rooms; and was never seen except at her window that
looked towards the garden, or on the stairs when she returned from a
donkey ride in the mountains.

I felt compassion for this young creature, a stranger like myself in a
foreign land, who must be ill, since she had come in quest of health,
and was doubtless sad, since she avoided the bustle and even the sight
of company; but I felt no desire to see her spite of the admiration her
grace and beauty had excited on those around me. My worn-out heart was
wearied with wretched and short-lived attachments, of which I blushed
to preserve the memories; not one of which I could recur to with pious
regret, save that of poor Antonina. I was penitent and ashamed of my
past follies and disorders; disgusted and satiated of vulgar
allurements; and being naturally of a timid and reserved disposition,
without that self-confidence which prompts some men to court
adventures, or to seek the familiarity of chance acquaintances, I
neither wished to see nor to be seen. Still less did I dream of love.
On the contrary, I rejoiced, in my stern and mistaken pride, to think
that I had forever stifled that weakness in my heart, and that I was
alone to feel, or to suffer in this nether world. As to happiness, I no
longer believed in it.



VI.


I passed my days in my room with no other company than some books which
my friend had sent me from Chambéry. In the afternoon, I used to ramble
alone amid the wild mountains which, on the Italian side, form the
boundary of the valley of Aix; and returning home in the evening,
harassed and fatigued, would sit down to supper, and then retire to my
room and spend whole hours seated at my window. I gazed at the blue
firmament above, which, like the abyss attracting him who leans over
it, ever attracts the thoughts of men as though it had secrets to
reveal. Sleep found me still wandering on a sea of thoughts, and
seeking no shore. When morning came, I was awaked by the rays of the
sun and by the murmur of the hot springs; and I would plunge into my
bath, and after breakfast recommence the same rambles and the same
melancholy musings as the day before. Sometimes in the evening, when I
looked out of my window into the garden, I saw another lighted window
not far from my own and the face of a female, who, with one hand
throwing back the long black tresses from her brow, gazed like myself
on the mountains, the sky, and moonlit garden. I could only distinguish
the pale, pure, and almost transparent profile and the long, dark waves
of the hair, which was smoothed down at the temples. I used to see this
face standing out on the brilliant background of the window, which was
lighted from a lamp in the bedroom. At times, too, I had heard a
woman's voice saying a few words or giving some orders in the
apartment. The slightly foreign, though pure accent, the vibrations of
that soft, languid, and yet marvellously sonorous voice, of which I
heard the harmony without understanding the words had interested me.
Long after my window was closed that voice remained in my ear like the
prolonged sound of an echo. I had never heard any like it, even in
Italy; it sounded through the half-closed teeth like those small
metallic lyres that the children of the Islands of the Archipelago use
when they play on the seashore. It was more like a ringing sound than
like a voice; I had noticed it, little dreaming that that voice would
ring loud and deep forever through my life. The next day I thought no
more of it.

One day, however, on returning home earlier, and entering by the little
garden-door near the arbor, I had a nearer view of the stranger, who
was seated on a bench under the southern wall, enjoying the warm rays
of the sun. She thought herself alone, for she had not heard the sound
of the door as I closed it behind me, and I could contemplate her
unobserved. We were within twenty paces of each other, and were only
separated by a vine, which was half-stripped of its leaves. The shade
of the vine-leaves and the rays of the sun played and chased each other
alternately over her face. She appeared larger than life, as she sat
like one of those marble statues enveloped in drapery, of which we
admire the beauty without distinguishing the form. The folds of her
dress were loose and flowing, and the drapery of a white shawl, folded
closely round her, showed only her slender and rather attenuated hands,
which were crossed on her lap. In one, she carelessly held one of those
red flowers which grow in the mountains beneath the snow, and are
called, I know not why, "poets' flowers." One end of her shawl was
thrown over her head like a hood, to protect her from the damp evening
air. She was bent languidly forward, her head inclined upon her left
shoulder; and the eyelids, with their long dark lashes, were closed
against the dazzling rays of the sun. Her complexion was pale, her
features motionless, and her countenance so expressive of profound and
silent meditation, that she resembled a statue of Death; but of that
Death which bears away the soul beyond the reach of human woes to the
regions of eternal light and love. The sound of my footsteps on the dry
leaves made her look up. Her large half-closed eyes were of that
peculiar tint resembling the color of lapis lazuli, streaked with
brown, and the drooping lid had that natural fringe of long dark
lashes, which Eastern women strive by art to imitate, in order to
impart a voluptuous wildness to their look and energy even to their
languor. The light of those eyes seemed to come from a distance which I
have never measured in any other mortal eye. It was as the rays of the
stars, which seem to seek us out, and to approach us as we gaze, and
yet have travelled millions of miles through the heavens. The high and
narrow forehead seemed as if compressed by intense thought, and joined
the nose by an almost straight and Grecian line. The lips were thin and
slightly depressed at the corners with an habitual expression of
sadness; the teeth of pearl, rather than of ivory, as is the case with
the daughters of the sea or islands. The face was oval, slightly
emaciated in the lower part and at the temples, and, on the whole she
seemed rather an embodying of thought than a human being. Besides this
general expression of revery there was a languid look of suffering and
passion, which made it impossible to gaze once on that face without
bearing its ineffaceable image stamped forever in the memory. In a
word, hers was a contagious sickness of the soul, veiled in a shape of
beauty the most majestic and attractive that the dreams of mortal man
ever embodied.

I passed rapidly before her, bowing respectfully, and my deferential
air and downcast eyes seemed to ask forgiveness for having disturbed
her. A slight blush tinged her pale cheeks at my approach. I returned
to my room trembling and wondering that the evening air should thus
have chilled me. A few minutes later I saw her re-enter the house, and
cast one indifferent look at my window. I saw her again on the
following days, at the same hour, both in the garden and in the court,
but never dared to think of accosting her. I even met her sometimes
near the châlets, with the little girls who drove her donkey or picked
strawberries for her, at other times, in her boat on the lake; but I
never showed any sign of recognition or interest, beyond a grave and
respectful bow; she would return it with an air of melancholy
abstraction, and we each went our separate ways, on the hills or on the
waters.



VII.


And yet when I had not met her in the course of the day, I felt sad and
disturbed; when evening came, I would go down to the garden, I knew not
why, and stay there, with my eyes riveted on her windows, spite of the
cold night air. I could not make up my mind to return to the house
until I had caught a glimpse of her shadow on the curtains, or heard a
note of her piano, or one of the strange tones of her voice.

The apartment she occupied was contiguous to my room, from which it was
separated by a strong oaken door with two bolts. I could hear
confusedly the sound of her footsteps, the rustling of her gown, or the
crumpling of the leaves of her book as she turned over the pages. I
sometimes fancied I heard her breathe. Instinctively I placed my
writing-table on which my lamp stood near the door, for I felt less
lonely when I heard these sounds of life around me. It seemed to me
that this unknown neighbor, who insensibly occupied all my time, shared
my life. In a word, before I had the slightest idea that I loved, I had
already all the thoughts, the fancies, and the refinements of passion.
Love did not consist for me in one particular symptom, look, or
confession, in any one external circumstance against which I could have
fortified myself. It was an invisible miasma diffused in the
surrounding atmosphere; it was in the air and light, in the expiring
season, in my lonely life, in the mysterious proximity of another
equally isolated existence; it was in the long excursions which took me
from her and made me feel the more forcibly the unconscious attraction
which recalled me; in her white dress, seen at a distance through the
mountain firs; in her dark hair loosened by the wind on the lake; in
the light at her window, in the slight creaking of the wooden floor
under her tread, in the rustling of her pen on the paper when she
wrote, in the very silence of those long autumnal evenings which she
spent in reading, writing, or in thought within a few paces of me; and
lastly, it was in the fascination of her fantastic beauty, too much
seen though scarcely beheld, and which, when I closed my eyes, I still
saw through the wall, as though it had been transparent.

With this feeling, however, there mingled no desire or eager curiosity,
on my part, to find out the secret reason of her solitude, or to break
down the fragile barrier of our almost voluntary separation. What to me
was this woman whom I had met by chance among the mountains of a
foreign land, ill in health and sick at heart though she might be? I
had shaken the dust from my feet, or at least I thought I had, and felt
no wish to hold to the world once more by any link of the mind, or of
the senses, still less by any weakness of the heart. I felt supreme
contempt for love, for under its name I had met only with affectation,
coquetry, fickleness, and levity; if I except the love of Antonina,
which had been but a childish ecstasy, a flower fallen from the stem
before its hour of perfume.



VIII.


Again, who was this woman? Was she a being like myself, or one of those
visions which, like living meteors, shoot athwart the sky of our
imagination, dazzling the eye? Was she of my own country, or from some
distant land, from some island of the tropics, or the far East, whither
I could not follow her? After adoring her for a few days, might I not
have to mourn forever her absence? Was her heart free to respond to
mine? Was it likely that enthralling beauty such as hers should have
traversed the world and reached maturity without kindling love in some
of those upon whom the glance of her eye had fallen? Had she a father
or a mother, brothers or sisters? Was she not married? Was there not
one man in the world who, though separated from her by inexplicable
circumstances, lived for her only, as she lived for him?

All this I said to myself, to drive away this one besetting, hopeless
fancy. I scorned even to make inquiries. I was too much of a stoic to
strive to penetrate the unknown, and thought it more dignified, or
perhaps more pleasant, to go on dreaming in uncertainty.



IX.


The old doctor and his family had not the pride of heart that induced
me to respect her secret. At table our hosts, with the curiosity
natural to all those who live by strangers, would interpret every
circumstance, discuss every probability, and collect even the vaguest
notions concerning the stranger. I soon learned all that had transpired
respecting her, although I never interrogated and even studiously
avoided making her the subject of our discourse. In vain I sought to
turn the conversation into another channel; every day the same subject
recurred; men, women, children, bathers, and servants, the guides of
the mountains, and the boatmen on the lake, had all been equally struck
and charmed by her, although she spoke to no one. She was an object of
universal respect and admiration.

There are some beings who, by their dazzling radiance, draw all around
them into their sphere of attraction without desiring or even
perceiving it. It seems as though certain natures were like the suns of
some moral system, obliging the looks, thoughts, and hearts of their
satellites to gravitate around them. Their moral and physical beauty is
a spell, their fascination a chain, love is but their emanation. We
track their upward course from earth to heaven, and when they vanish in
their youth and beauty, all else seems dark to the eye that has been
blinded by their brilliancy. The vulgar, even, recognize these superior
beings by some mysterious sign. They admire without comprehending, as
the blind enjoy the sunshine, who have never seen the sun.



X.


It was thus I learned that the young stranger lived in Paris. Her
husband was an old man, who had rendered his name illustrious, at the
close of the last century, by many discoveries which held a high place
in the history of science. He had been struck with the beauty and
talent of this young girl, and had adopted her in order to bequeath to
her his name and fortune. She loved him as a father, wrote to him every
day, and sent him a journal of her feelings and impressions. Two years
ago she had fallen into a declining state, which had alarmed him. She
had been recommended to remove southward and try change of air, and her
husband, being too infirm to accompany her, had confided her to the
care of some friends from Lausanne, with whom she had travelled all
over Italy and Switzerland. The change had not restored her to health,
and a Genevese doctor, fearing a disease of the heart, had recommended
the baths of Aix; he was to come to fetch her, and take her back to
Paris at the beginning of the winter.

This was all I learned of a life already so dear. Still I persisted in
fancying that all these details were indifferent to me. I felt a tender
pity for this enchanting and beautiful being, blighted in the flower of
youth by a disease which, while it consumes life, renders the
sensations more acute and stimulates the flame which it is destined to
extinguish. When I met the stranger on the staircase, I sought to
discover the trace of her sufferings in the scarcely perceptible lines
of pain round her somewhat pale lips, or in the dark circle which want
of sleep had left round her beautiful blue eyes. I was interested by
her beauty, but still more by the shadow of death by which she was
overcast, and which made her appear more as a phantom of the night than
as a reality. This was all. Our lives rolled on; we continued to live
in close proximity as far as distance was concerned, but morally, as
widely separated as ever.



XI.


I had given up my mountain excursions since the snow had fallen on the
highest peaks of Savoy, for the gentle warmth of the latter days of
October seemed to have taken refuge in the valley; and on the banks of
the lake the weather was still mild. The long avenue of poplars was my
delight, with its gleams of sunshine, waving tops, and murmuring
branches. I spent, also, a great part of my time on the water. The
boatmen all knew me, and I am told they still remember how we used to
sail into the wildest creeks and remotest bays of France and Savoy. The
young stranger, too, would sometimes embark in the middle of the day
for less distant expeditions. The boatmen, who were proud of her
confidence, always took care to give her notice of the least symptom of
wind or cold weather, thinking far more of her health and safety than
of their own gains. On one occasion, however, they were themselves
deceived. They had undertaken to row her safely over to Haute-Combe, on
the opposite shore of the lake, in order to visit the ruins of the
Abbey. They had scarcely got over two-thirds of the distance, when a
sudden gust of wind, rushing forth from the narrow gorges of the valley
of the Rhône, stirred up the waves of the lake, and produced one of
those short seas which so often prove fatal. The sail of the little
boat was soon gone, and it seemed like a nutshell dancing on the
still-increasing waves. It was impossible to think of returning, and
full half an hour of fatigue and danger must elapse before the boat
could be moored in safety under the hanging cliffs of Haute-Combe. Fate
willed that my wandering sail should be on the lake at the same hour. I
was in a larger boat, with four stout oarsmen, and was going to visit
M. de Chatillon, a relation of my Chambéry friend. His chateau was
situated on the summit of a rock, in a small island at one end of the
lake. A few strokes of the oar would have brought us into the harbor of
Chatillon, but I, who had unconsciously been watching the other boat
and saw it struggling against the wind, perceived the danger in which
it was placed. We put about immediately, and with one heart affronted
the tempest and the dangers of the lake, to try and succor the little
craft, which every now and then disappeared, and was lost in a mist of
foam and spray. My anxiety was intense during the hour that was
required to cross the lake before we could join the little bark. When
we came up to it, the shore was close at hand, and one long wave lodged
it in safety before our eyes on the sand at the foot of the ruined
Abbey.

We shouted for joy, and rushed through the water to the boat, in order
to carry the invalid ashore. The poor boatman was making signs of
distress, and calling for help; he was pointing to the bottom of the
boat, at something we could not see. On reaching the spot where he
stood, we found that the stranger had fainted, and was lying at the
bottom of the boat. Her body and arms were completely immersed in
water, and her head rested like that of a corpse against the little
wooden chest at the stern, in which the boatmen put their tackle and
provisions. Her hair streamed in disorder about her neck and shoulders,
like the dark wings of a lifeless bird floating on the surface of the
waters. Her face, from which all color had not fled, was calm and
peaceful as in slumber and shone with that preternatural beauty death
leaves on the countenance of those who die young; like the last and
fairest ray of retiring life, lingering on the brow from which it is
about to depart, or the first beam of dawning immortality on the
features which are henceforward to be hallowed in the memory of those
who survive. I had never before, and have never since, seen her so
divinely transfigured. Was Death the most perfect form of her celestial
beauty, or did Providence intend this first and solemn impression, as a
foreshadowing of that unchangeable image of beauty, which I was
destined to entomb in my memory, and eternally evoke!

We jumped into the boat, to take up the apparently dying woman, and
carry her beyond the rocks. I placed my hand upon her heart, and
approached my ear to her lips, as I would to those of a sleeping
infant. The heart beat irregularly, but with strong pulsations; the
breath was warm, and I saw that she had only fainted from terror and
from cold. One of the boatmen took up her feet, I supported the
shoulders and the head, which rested on my breast. She gave no sign of
life while we carried her thus to a fisherman's house, below the rocks
of Haute-Combe, which serves as an inn for the boatmen, when they
conduct strangers to the ruins. This poor dwelling consisted merely in
one long, dark, smoky room, furnished with a table upon which were
wine, bread, and cheese. A wooden ladder led to an upper room, which
was lighted by a single round window without glass, looking towards the
lake. Almost the whole space of this room was occupied by three beds,
which could be closed up by wooden doors, like large presses. The whole
family slept there. We confided the stranger, who was still insensible,
to the care of the two girls of the house and their mother, and we
stood outside the door, while they extended a mattress near the
chimney, and having lighted a fire of furze, undressed her, dried her
clothes, chafed her limbs, and wrung her streaming hair; they then
carried her upstairs, and placed her in one of the beds, on which they
had spread clean sheets, which had been warmed with one of the heated
hearth-stones, according to the custom of the peasants of that country.
They tried in vain to make her swallow a few drops of wine and vinegar
to bring her to life; but finding all their efforts unavailing, gave
way to tears and lamentations, which soon recalled us into the house.
"The lady is dead! the lady is dead! We can only weep, and send for a
priest." The boatmen mingled their cries with those of the women, and
increased their confusion. I rushed up the ladder and entered the room.
The dim twilight still showed the bed over which I bent. I touched her
forehead; it was burning hot; I could distinguish the low and regular
breathing which made the coarse brown sheet alternately rise and fall
on the chest. I bid the women be quiet, and giving some money to one of
the boatmen, ordered him to fetch a doctor, who, I was told, lived two
leagues off, in a little village on the Mont du Chat. The boatman set
off at full speed; the others, comforted by the assurance that the lady
was not dead, sat down to eat. The women went and came from the parlor
to the cellar, and from the cellar to the poultry-yard, to make
preparations for supper. I remained seated on one of the bags of Indian
corn at the foot of the bed, my hands clasped on my knees, and my eyes
fixed on the inanimate face and closed eyelids of the sufferer. Night
had closed in. One of the young girls had fastened the shutter, and
suspended a small copper lamp against the wall; its rays fell on the
sheets and on the sleeping countenance like the light of holy tapers on
a death-bed. Since then, I have thus watched, alas, by other bedsides,
but the sleepers never woke!



XII.


Never perhaps was the heart of man absorbed for so many long hours in
one strange and overwhelming speculation. Suspended between death and
love, I was unable to divine, as I gazed on the angel form that lay
sleeping before me, whether this night in its mystery would bring-forth
endless anguish, or whether undying love would come in the morning,
with returning life and joy. In the convulsive movements of her
troubled sleep she had thrown the sheet off one of her shoulders upon
which fell the long luxuriant curls of her lustrous hair. The neck had
yielded to the weight of the head, which was thrown back on the pillow,
and slightly inclined towards the left shoulder; one of the arms was
disengaged from the cover-lid and was placed beneath the head, showing
the ivory whiteness of the elbow, which stood out on the coarse brown
linen in which the peasant women had dressed her. On one of the fingers
of the hand, which was half concealed in the masses of dark hair, there
was a small gold ring with a sparkling ruby, on which the rays of the
lamp flashed. The girls had lain down on the floor without undressing,
and their mother had fallen asleep with her hands folded on the back of
a wooden chair. As soon as the cock crowed in the yard, they got up,
and taking their wooden shoes in their hands, noiselessly descended the
ladder to go to work. I remained alone.

The first gleams of dawn came through the closed shutter in almost
imperceptible streaks of light. I opened the window in the hope that
the balmy morning air from the lake and mountains, which awakened all
Nature, would have the same effect on one whom I would willingly have
revived at the cost of my own life. The chill air rushed into the room,
and extinguished the expiring lamp. Nothing stirred on the bed. I heard
the poor women below joining in common prayer, before commencing their
day's labor. The thought of praying likewise entered my heart. I felt,
as all do who have exhausted the whole strength of their soul, the wish
to superadd the force of some mysterious and preterhuman power to the
impotent tension of ardent desires. I knelt on the floor, with my hands
clasped on the edge of the bed, and my eyes riveted on the face of the
sleeper. I wept, and prayed long and fervently; the tears chased each
other down my face and hid from my blinded eyes the features of the one
whose recovery I so ardently desired. My whole heart and soul were so
absorbed in one feeling and one sensation, that I might have remained
hours in the same attitude without being aware of the lapse of time, or
the pain of kneeling on the stone floor; when suddenly, while I was
unconsciously wiping away my tears, I felt a hand touch mine, part the
hair from my face, and gently rest upon my head, as if to bless me.

I looked up with a cry of delight; I saw her unclosed eyes, her smiling
lips, her hand extended towards mine, and heard these words: "O God! I
thank thee. I have now a brother!"



XIII.


[Illustration: RAPHAEL'S DEVOTION.]



The cool morning air had awakened her, while I was praying by her
bedside, with my face buried in my hands. She had noted my ardent pity,
and my ardent prayer, and had recognized me by the clear light of
morning, which now streamed into the chamber. When she had fainted she
was lonely and indifferent, and had revived under the tender care, and
perhaps the love of a pitying stranger. She, who, in the neglected
flower of her days, had been deprived of all the kindred ties of the
heart, had unexpectedly found in me the care and pity, the tears and
prayers, of a youthful brother; and that tender name had escaped her
lips at the moment that returning life gave her the consciousness of so
great a joy.

"A brother! Ah, no, not a brother!" I exclaimed, reverently removing
her hand from my brow, as though I had not been worthy of her touch,
"not a brother, but a slave, a living shadow following on your steps,
who asks but one blessing of Heaven, and one felicity on earth--the
right of remembering this night; who only desires to preserve eternally
the image of the superhuman vision he would wish to follow unto death,
or for whom alone he could bear to live." As I faltered out these words
in a low voice, the rosy tints of life gradually reappeared on her
cheeks, a sad smile, implying an obstinate unbelief in happiness,
played round her mouth, and she raised her eyes to the ceiling, as
though they listened to words which responded not to the ear, but to
the thoughts. Never was the change from life to death, from a dream to
reality, so rapid; on her countenance, now blooming with youth and
refreshed by rest, surprise, languor, delight, repose, joy and
melancholy, timidity and grace were all painted in quick succession.
Her radiance seemed to illumine the dark recess more than the light of
morning. There existed more languor, more revealings, more sympathy in
her looks and silence, than in millions of words. The human face speaks
a language to the eye, and in youth the countenance is an instrument of
which one look of passion sweeps the keys. It transmits from soul to
soul mysteries of mute communion, which cannot be translated into
words. My countenance, too, must have revealed what I felt to those
eyes which were bent so earnestly upon me. My damp clothes, my long,
dishevelled hair, my eyes heavy with watching, my pale and anxious
looks, the pious enthusiasm with which I bent before the holiness of
suffering beauty, my emotion, joy, and surprise, the dimness of the
room in which I durst not take a step for fear of dispelling the
enchantment of so divine a dream, the first rays of sun, which showed
the tears still glistening in my eyes,--all conspired to lend to my
countenance a power of expression, and a look of tenderness, which it
will doubtless never wear again in the course of a long life.

Unable to bear any longer the reaction of these feelings, and the
internal vibration of such silence, I called up the women. On entering
the room, they broke out into repeated exclamations of surprise at the
sight of a resurrection which appeared to them a miracle. At the same
moment the doctor made his appearance. He prescribed repose and an
infusion of certain plants of the mountain which allay the irregular
movements of the heart. He reassured every one by telling us that the
lady's malady was one of youth, produced by excessive sensibility, and
which time would mitigate; that it was but a superabundance of life,
although it often wore the appearance of death, and was never fatal,
except when inward grief or some moral cause changed its character into
one of habitual melancholy, or an unconquerable distaste to life. While
some of the women went out into the fields, to gather the samples
ordered by the doctor, and others were ironing out her damp clothes in
the lower room, I left the house to wander alone among the ruins of the
old Abbey.



XIV.


But my heart was too full of its own emotions to feel interested in the
anchorites of the Abbey. The enthusiasm and self-denial of the early
monasteries had subsided into a profession; and at a later period their
lives, unlinked with those of their fellow-beings, had fruitlessly
evaporated within these cloisters, and left no trace behind. I felt no
regret as I stood upon their tombs, but only wondered, as I noted how
speedily Nature seizes on the empty dwellings and deserted abodes of
man, and how superior is the living architecture of shrubs and briers,
waving ivy, wall-flowers and creeping plants, throwing their mantle on
the ruined walls, to the cold symmetry of stones, or the lifeless
ornaments of the chiselled monuments of men.

There was now more sunshine, music, and perfume, more holy psalmody of
the winds and waters, of birds, and sonorous echoes of the lakes and
forests, beneath the crumbling pillars, dismantled nave, and shattered
roof of the empty Abbey, than there had been holy tapers, fumes of
incense and monotonous chants in the ceremonies and processions that
filled it night and day. Nature is the high priest, the noblest
decorator, the holiest poet and most inspired musician of God. The
young swallows in their nests below the broken cornice, greeting their
mother with their cheerful chirping; the sighing of the breeze, which
seems to bear to the unpeopled cloisters the sound of flapping sails,
the lament of the waves, and the dying notes of the fisherman's song;
the balmy emanations which now and then are wafted through the nave;
the flowers which shed their leaves upon the tombs, the waving of the
green drapery which clothes the walls; the sonorous and reverberated
echoes of the stranger's steps upon the vaults where sleep the
dead,--are all as full of piety, holy thoughts, and unbounded
aspirations, as was the monastery in its days of sacred splendor. Man
is no longer there, with all his miserable passions contracted by the
narrow pale in which they were confined, but not extinguished; but God
is there, never so plainly seen as in the works of Nature,--God whose
unshadowed splendor seems to re-enter once more these intellectual
graves, whose vaulted roofs no longer intercept the glorious sunshine
and the light of heaven.



XV.


I was not at the time sufficiently composed to understand my own
feelings. I felt as one just relieved from a heavy burden, who breathes
freely, relaxes his contracted muscles, and walks to and fro in his
strength, as though he could devour space, and inhale all the air of
heaven. My own heart was the burden of which I had been relieved, and,
in giving it to another, I felt as if I had for the first time entered
into the fulness of life. Man is so truly born to love, that it is only
when he has the consciousness of loving fully and entirely that he
feels himself really a man. Until then he is disturbed and restless,
inconstant and wandering in his thoughts; but from thenceforward all
his waverings cease, he feels at rest, and sees his destiny before him.

I sat down upon the ivy-covered wall of a high dilapidated terrace
which overlooked the lake. My eyes wandered over the bright expanse of
water and the luminous immensity of the sky; they were so well blended
in the azure line of the horizon that it would have been impossible to
define where the sky commenced, and where the lake terminated. I seemed
to float in the pure ether, or to be merged in a universal ocean. But
the inward joy which inundated my soul was far more infinite, radiant,
and incommensurate, than the atmosphere with which I seemed to mingle.
I could not have defined my joy, or rather my inward serenity. It was
as some unfathomable secret revealed to me by feelings instead of
words,--as the sensation of the eye passing from darkness into light,
or as the rapture of some mystical soul, secure in the possession of
its God. It was dazzling light, intoxication without giddiness, repose
without heaviness, or immobility. I could have lived on thus during as
many thousand years as there were ripples on the lake, or sands upon
its shores, without perceiving that more seconds had elapsed than were
required for a single respiration. When the immortal dwellers in heaven
first lose the consciousness of the duration of time, they must feel
thus; it was an immutable thought, in the eternity of an instant.



XVI.


These sensations were not precise, or definable. They were too complete
to be scanned; thought could not divide, nor reflection analyze them.
They did not take their rise in the loveliness of the superhuman
creature that I adored, for the shadow of death still lay between her
beauty and my eyes; or in the pride of being loved by her, for I knew
not if I was more in her sight than a dream of morning; or in the hope
of possessing her charms, for my respect was too far above such vile
gratifications of the senses even to stoop to them in thought; or in
the satisfaction of displaying my triumph, for selfish vanity held no
place in my heart, and I knew no one in that secluded spot before whom
I could profane my love by disclosing it; or in the hope of linking her
fate with mine, for I knew she was another's; or in the certainty of
seeing her, and the happiness of following her steps, for I was as
little free as she was, and in a few days fate was to divide us; nor,
lastly, in the certainty of being beloved, for I knew nothing of her
heart, except the one word and look of gratitude that she had addressed
to me.

Mine was another feeling; pure, calm, disinterested, and immaterial. It
was repose of the heart, after having met with the long sought-for, and
till then unfound, object of its restless adoration; the long-desired
idol of that vague, unquiet adoration of supreme beauty which agitates
the soul until the divinity has been discovered, and that our heart has
clung to as a straw to the magnet, or mingled with as sighs with the
surrounding air.

Strange to say, I felt no impatience to see her once more, to hear her
voice, to be near her, or to converse freely with one who had become
the sole object of my life and thoughts. I had seen her and she had
become part of myself. Henceforward nothing could rob my soul of its
possession; far or near, present or absent, I bore her with me; all
else was indifferent. Perfect love is patient, because it is absolute,
and knows itself to be eternal. No power could tear her from my heart.
I felt that henceforward her image was completely mine; it was to me
what light is to the eye that has once seen it, air to the lungs that
have once inhaled it, or thought to the mind in which it has once been
conceived. I defied Heaven itself to rob me of this divine embodying of
my desires. I had seen her, and that was enough. For the contemplative,
to see is to enjoy. It scarcely mattered to me whether she loved me, or
whether she passed me by without perceiving me. I had been touched by
her splendor, and was still enveloped in her rays; she could no more
withdraw them from me than the sun can take from the earth the beams
which he has shed upon it. I felt that darkness and night had fled
forever from my heart, and that she would evermore shine there, as she
then shone, though I lived for a thousand years.



XVII.


This conviction gave to my love all the security of immutability, the
calm of certainty, the overflowing ecstasy of joy that would never be
impaired. I took no note of time, knowing that I had before me hours
without end, and that each in succession would give me back her inward
presence. I might be separated from her during a century without
reducing by one day the eternity of my love. I went and came; sat down
and got up again. I ran, then stopped and walked on without feeling the
ground beneath my feet, like those phantoms which glide upon earth,
upheld by their impalpable, ethereal nature. I extended my arms to
grasp the air, the light, the lake; I would have clasped all Nature in
one vast embrace in thankfulness that she had become incarnate, for me,
in a being that united all her charms and splendor, power, and
delights. I knelt on the stones and briers of the ruins without feeling
them and on the brink of precipices without perceiving them. I uttered
inarticulate words, which were lost in the sound of the noisy waters of
the lake; I strove to pierce the vaults of heaven, and to carry my song
of gratitude, and my ecstasy of joy, into the very presence of God. I
was no longer a man, I was a living hymn of praise, prayer, adoration,
worship of overflowing, speechless thankfulness. I felt an intoxication
of the heart, a madness of the soul; my body had lost the consciousness
of its materiality and I no longer believed in time, or space, or
death. The new life of love which had gushed forth in my heart gave me
the consciousness, the anticipated enjoyment, of the fulness of
immortality.



XVIII.


I was made aware of the flight of time by seeing the meridian sun
striking on the summit of the Abbey walls. I came down the hill through
the woods bounding from rock to rock, and from tree to tree. My heart
beat as though it would burst. As I approached the little inn, I saw
the stranger in a sloping meadow behind the house. She was seated at
the foot of a sunny wall, against which the inhabitants of the place
had piled a few stones. Her white dress shone out on the verdant
meadow, and the shade of a haystack screened her face from the sun. She
was reading in a little book that lay open on her lap, and every now
and then interrupted her reading to play with the children from the
mountain, who came to offer her flowers, or chestnuts. On seeing me,
she attempted to rise as if to meet me half-way, and her gesture was
quite sufficient to encourage me to approach. She received me with a
blushing look and tremulous lip, which I perceived, and which increased
my own bashfulness. The strangeness of our situation was so
embarrassing, that we remained some time without finding a word to say
to each other. At last, with a timid and scarcely intelligible gesture,
she motioned to me to sit down on the hay, not far from her; it seemed
to me that she has expected me, and had kept a place for me. I sat down
respectfully at some distance. Our silence remained unbroken, and it
was evident that we were both ineffectually seeking to exchange some of
those commonplace phrases which may be called the base coin of
conversation, and serve to conceal thoughts instead of revealing them.
Fearing to say too much or too little, we gave no utterance to what was
in our hearts; we remained mute, and our silence increased our
embarrassment. At length, our downcast eyes were raised at the same
moment and met; I saw such depth of sensibility in hers, and she read
in mine so much suppressed rapture, truth, and deep feeling, that we
could no longer take them off each other's face, and tears rising to
our eyes, at the same instant, from both our hearts we each
instinctively put up our hands as if to veil our thoughts.

I know not how long we remained thus. At last, in a trembling voice,
and with a somewhat constrained and impatient tone, she said: "You have
wept over me; I have called you brother, you have adopted me for your
sister, and yet we dare not look at each other? A tear," she added, "a
disinterested tear from an unknown heart is more than my life is
worth,--more than it has ever yet called forth!" Then with a slightly
reproachful accent she said: "Am I then become once more a stranger to
you, since I no longer require your care? Oh, as to me," she proceeded
in a resolute tone of confidence, "I know nothing of you but your name
and countenance, but I know your heart! A century could not teach me
more!"

"For my part," said I, faltering, "I would wish to learn nothing of all
that makes you a being like unto ourselves, and bound by the same links
as us to this wretched world. I require but to know this,--that you
have traversed it, and that you have allowed me to contemplate you from
afar, and to remember you always."

"Oh, do not deceive yourself thus!" she replied; "do not see in me a
deified delusion of your own heart; I should have to suffer too much
when the chimera vanished. View me as I am; as a poor woman, who is
dying in despondency and solitude, and who will take with her from
earth no feeling more divine than that of pity. You will understand
this, when I tell you who I am," added she; "but first answer me on one
point, which has disquieted me since the day I first saw you in the
garden. Why, young and gentle as you seem to be, are you so lonely and
so sad? Why do you fly from the company and conversation of our host,
to wander alone on the lake, and in the most secluded parts of the
mountains, or to retire into your room? Your light burns far into the
night, I am told. Have you some secret in your heart that you confine
to solitude?" She waited my answer with visible anxiety, and kept her
eyes closed, as if to conceal the impression it might make upon her.
"My secret," said I, "is to have none; to feel the weight of a heart
that no enthusiasm upheld until this hour; of a heart which I have
endeavored to engage in unsatisfactory attachments, and which I have
ever been obliged to resume with such bitterness and loathing, as
forever to discourage me, young and feeling as I am, from loving." I
then told her, without concealment, as I would have spoken before
Heaven, of all that could interest her in my life. I related my birth,
my humble and poor condition; I spoke of my father, a soldier of former
days; my mother, a woman of exquisite sensibility, whose youth had been
passed in all the refinement and elegance of letters; my young sisters,
their pious and angelic simplicity; I mentioned my education among the
children of my native mountains; my ready enthusiasm for study; my
involuntary inaction; my travels; my first thrill of the heart beside
the youthful daughter of the Neapolitan fisherman; the unprofitable
acquaintances I formed in Paris,--the levity, misconduct, and
self-abasement which had been the result; my desire for a soldier's
life, which peace had counteracted at the very time I entered the army;
my leaving my regiment; my wanderings without an object; my hopeless
return to the paternal roof; my wasting melancholy; my wish to die; my
weariness of everything; and lastly, I spoke of my physical languor, A
proceeding from heaviness of the soul, and of that premature
decrepitude of the heart, and distaste of life, which was concealed
beneath the appearance and features of a man of four-and-twenty. I
dwelt with inward satisfaction on the disappointments, weariness, and
bitterness of my life, for I no longer felt them! A single look had
regenerated me. I spoke of myself as of one that was dead; a new man
was born within me. When I had ended, I raised my eyes to her, as
towards my judge. She was trembling and pale with emotion. "Heavens,"
she exclaimed, "how you alarmed me!" "And why?" said I. "Because," she
rejoined, "if you had not been unhappy and lonely here below, there
would have been one link the less between us. You would have felt no
desire to pity another; and I should have quitted life without having
seen a shadow of myself, save in the heartless mirror where my own cold
image is reflected."

"The history of your life," she continued, "is the history of mine,
with the change of a few particulars. Only yours commences, and mine--"
I would not let her conclude. "No, no!" said I hoarsely pressing my
lips to her feet, which I embraced convulsively as if to hold her down
to earth; "no, no! you will not, must not die; or, if you do, I feel
two lives will end at once!"

I was alarmed at my own gesture and at the exclamation which had
involuntarily escaped me; and I durst not raise my face off the ground,
from which she had withdrawn her feet. "Rise," she said, in a grave
voice, but without anger; "do not worship dust--dust as lowly as that
in which you are soiling your fine hair, and which will be scattered as
light and as impalpable by the first autumnal wind. Do not deceive
yourself as to the poor creature you see before you. I am but the
shadow of youth, of beauty, and of love,--of the love you will one day
feel and inspire, when this shadow shall long have passed away. Keep
your heart for those who are to live, and only give to the dying what
the dying ask, a gentle hand to support their last steps, and tears to
mourn their loss."

The grave and serious tone-with which she said these words struck to my
heart. Yet as I looked on her, and saw the glowing tints of the setting
sun illumining her face, which shone with hourly increasing youth and
serenity of expression, as though a new sun had risen in her heart, I
could not believe in death concealed under these glorious signs of
life. Besides, what cared I? If that heavenly vision was death, well,
it was death I loved. It might be that the vast and perfect love for
which I thirsted was only to be found in death. It might be that God
had only showed me its nearly extinguished light on earth, to urge me
to follow the trace of its ray into the grave, and from thence to
heaven.

"Do not stay dreaming thus," she said, "but listen to me!" This was not
said with the accent of one who loves, and affects a sportive
seriousness, but with the tone of a still youthful mother, or an elder
sister counselling a brother or a son. "I do not wish you to attach
yourself to a false appearance, a delusion, a dream; I wish you to know
her to whom you so rashly pledge a heart which she could only retain by
deceiving you. Falsehood has always been so odious and so impossible to
me, that I could not desire the supreme felicity of heaven, if I must
enter heaven by deceit. Stolen happiness would not be happiness for me,
it would be remorse."

As she spoke, there was so much candor on her lips, so much sincerity
in her tone, and limpid purity in her eyes, that I fancied as I looked
at her that under her pure and lovely form I saw immortal Truth, in the
broad light of day, pouring her voice into the ear, her look into the
eye, and her soul into the heart. I stretched myself on the hay at her
feet and, with my elbow leaning on the ground, I rested my head upon my
hand; my eyes were riveted upon her lips, of which I strove not to lose
a single motion, a single modulation, or a single sigh.



XIX.


"I was born," she said, "in the same land as Virginia (for the poet's
fancy has given a real birthplace to his dream), in an island of the
tropics. You may have guessed it from the color of my hair, and from my
complexion, which is paler than that of European women. You must have
perceived, too, the accent which still lingers on my lips. In truth, I
rather wish to preserve that accent as my only memento of my native
land; it recalls to my mind the plaintive and harmonious sounds of the
sea-breeze that are heard at noon beneath the lofty palms. You may also
have noticed that incorrigible indolence of walk and attitude, so
different from the vivacity of French women, which indicates in the
Creole a wild and natural frankness that knows not how to feign or to
dissemble.

"My family name is D----, and my own is Julie. My mother was lost in a
boat in attempting to leave our native island during an insurrection of
the blacks. I was washed ashore and saved by a black woman, who took
care of me for several years, and then delivered me over to my father.
He brought me to France when I was six years old, with an elder sister,
and a short time after he died in poverty and exile in the house of
some poor relations, who had hospitably received us in Brittany. The
second mother whom I had found in exile provided for my education until
her death, and, at twelve years old, I was adopted by the government as
being the daughter of a man who had done some service to his country.

"I was brought up in all the luxurious splendor, and amid the choice
friendships of those sumptuous houses, in which the State receives the
daughters of those who die for their country. I grew in years, in
talent, and also, it was said, in beauty. Mine was a grave and saddened
grace, like the flower of some tropical plant blooming awhile beneath a
foreign sky. But my useless beauty and my unavailing talents gladdened
no eye or heart beyond the narrow precincts in which I was confined. My
companions, with whom I had formed those close intimacies which make
the friends of childhood the kindred of the heart, had all left, one by
one, to join their mothers, or to follow their husbands. No mother took
me home; no relation came to visit me; no young man heard of me, or
sought me for his wife. I was saddened by these successive departures
of all my friends, and felt sorrowful to think I was forsaken by the
whole world, and doomed to an eternal bereavement of the heart without
ever having loved. I often wept in secret, and regretted that the poor
black woman had not allowed me to perish in the waves of my native
shore, more merciful to me than the ocean, of the world on which I was
cast.

"Now and then, an old man of great celebrity would come to visit, in
the name of the Emperor, the national house of education, and inquire
into the progress of the pupils in the arts and sciences, which were
taught by the first masters of the capital; I was always pointed out to
him as the brightest example of the education bestowed on the orphans.
He invariably treated me with peculiar predilection from my childhood.
'How I regret,' he would sometimes say, loud enough for me to hear,
'that I have no son!'

"One day I was called down to the parlor of the Superior. I found there
my illustrious and venerable friend, who seemed as discomposed as I was
myself. 'My child,' said he, at length, 'years roll on for every
one,--slowly for you, swiftly for me. You are now seventeen; in a few
months you will have attained the age at which you must leave this
house for the world; but there is no world to receive you. You have no
country, no home, no fortune, and no family in France; your unprotected
and dependent situation has made me feel anxious on your account for
many years. The life of a young girl who earns her livelihood by her
labor is full of snares and bitterness, and a home offered by friends
is both precarious and humiliating to the spirit. The extreme beauty
that Nature has bestowed upon you will, by its brightness, dispel the
obscurity of your fate and attract vice, as the brightness of gold
induces theft. Where do you mean to take shelter from the sorrows and
dangers of life?' 'I know not,' I answered; 'and I have thought
sometimes that death alone can save me from my fate!' 'Oh,' he replied,
with a sad and irresolute smile, 'I have thought of another mode of
escape, but I scarcely dare propose it.' 'Speak without fear, sir,' I
answered; 'you have during so many years spoken to me with the look and
accent of a father, that I shall fancy I am obeying mine, in obeying
you.' 'Ah, he would be happy indeed,' he replied, 'who had a daughter
such as you! Forgive me if I have sometimes indulged in such a dream!
Listen to me,' he added in a more tender and serious tone; 'and answer
me in thorough frankness and liberty of heart.

"'My life is drawing to a close; the grave will soon open to receive
me, and I have no relations to whom to bequeath my only wealth,--the
unaspiring celebrity of my name, and the humble fortune that I have
acquired by my labors. Hitherto I have lived alone, completely absorbed
by the studies that have consumed and dignified my life. I draw near to
the close of my existence, and I am painfully aware that I have not
commenced to live, since I have not thought of loving. It is too late
to retrace my steps, and follow the path of happiness instead of that
of glory, which I have unfortunately chosen; and yet I would not die
without leaving in some memory that prolongation of existence in the
existence of another, which is called affection,--the only immortality
in which I believe. I cannot hope for more than gratitude, and I feel
that it is from you that I should wish to obtain it. But,' added he,
more timidly, 'for that, you must consent to accept, in the eyes of the
world, and for the world only, the name, the hand, and the affection of
an old man who would he a father under the name of husband, and who, as
such, would merely seek the right of receiving you into his house, and
loving you as his child.'

"He stopped, and refused that day to hear the answer which was already
hovering on my lips. He was the only man among all the visitors of the
house who had evinced any feeling towards me, beyond that vulgar and
almost insolent admiration which shows itself in looks and
exclamations, and is as much an offence as an homage. I knew nothing of
love; I only felt an absence of all family ties which I thought the
tenderness of my adoptive father would replace. I was offered a safe
and honorable refuge against the dangers of the life in which I was to
enter in a few months; and a name which would be as a diadem to the
woman who bore it. His hair had grown white, it was true, but under the
touch of Fame, which bestows eternal youth upon its favorites; his
years would have numbered four times mine, but his regular and majestic
features inspired respect for time, and no disgust for old age, and his
countenance, where genius and goodness were combined, possessed that
beauty of declining age which attracts the eye and affection even of
childhood."

       *       *       *       *       *

"The very day I quitted forever the Orphan Establishment, I entered my
husband's house, not as his wife, but as his daughter. The world gave
him the name of husband, but he never suffered me to call him anything
but father, and he was such to me in care and tenderness. He made me
the adored and radiating centre of a select and distinguished circle,
composed for the greater part of those old men, eminent in letters,
politics, or philosophy, who had been the glory of the preceding
century and had escaped the fury of the Revolution, and the voluntary
servitude of the Empire. He selected for me friends and guides among
those women of the same period who were most remarkable for their
talents or virtues; he promoted and encouraged all those connections
most likely to interest my mind or heart, and to diversify the
monotonous life I led in an old man's house; and far from being severe
or jealous in respect of my acquaintances, he sought by the most
courteous attention to attract all those distinguished men whose
society might have charms for me. He would have liked whomever I had
chosen, and would have been pleased if I had shown preference to any
one among the crowd. I was the worshipped idol of the house, and the
general idolatry of which I was the object went far, perhaps, to guard
me against any individual predilection. I was too happy and too much
flattered to inquire into the state of my own heart, and besides, there
was so much paternal tenderness in my husband's manner towards me,
although he only showed his fondness by sometimes holding me to his
heart, and kissing my forehead, from which he gently parted my hair,
that I should have feared to disturb my happiness by seeking to render
it complete. He would sometimes, however, playfully rally me on my
indifference, and tell me that all that tended to add to my happiness
would increase his own.

"Once, and once only, I thought I loved and was beloved. A man whose
genius had rendered him illustrious, who was powerful from his high
favor with the Emperor, and who was doubly captivating by his renown
and appearance, although he had passed the meridian of life, sought me
with a signal devotion that deceived me. I was not elated with pride,
but rather with gratitude and surprise. I loved him for a time, or
rather I loved a self-created delusion under his name. I might have
yielded to the charm of such a feeling, had I not discovered that what
I supposed to be a passionate attachment of the heart was on his part
only an infatuation of the senses. When I perceived the real nature of
his love, it became odious to me, and I blushed to think how I had been
deceived; I took back my heart, and wrapped myself once more in the
cold monotony of my happiness.

"The morning was spent in deep and engaging studies with my husband,
whose willing disciple I was. During the day we took long and solitary
walks in the woods of St. Cloud or of Meudon; and in the evening a few
grave, and for the most part elderly, friends would meet and discourse
on various topics, with all the freedom of intimacy. These cold but
indulgent hearts inclined toward my youth, from that natural bias which
makes the love of the aged descend on the youthful, as the streams of
snow-covered summits flow downwards to the plain. But these hoary heads
seemed to shed their snows on me, and my youth pined and wasted away in
the ungenial atmosphere of age. There lay too great a space of years
between their hearts and mine! Oh, what would I not have given to have
had one friend of my own age, by the contact of whose warm heart I
might have dissolved the thoughts that froze within me, as the dew of
morning congeals upon the plants that grow too near these mountain
glaciers!

"My husband often looked sadly at me, and seemed alarmed at my pale
face and languid voice. He would have desired, at any cost, to give air
and motion to my heart. He continually tried to induce me to mingle in
diversions which might dispel my melancholy, and would use gentle force
to oblige me to appear at balls and theatres, in the hope that the
natural pride which my youth and beauty might have given me would have
made me share in the pleasure of those around me. The next morning, as
soon as I was awake, he would come into my room and make me relate the
impression I had produced, the admiration I had attracted, and even
speak of the hearts that I had seemed to touch. 'And you,' would he
say, in a tone of gentle interrogation, 'do you share none of these
feelings that you inspire? Is your young heart at twenty as old as
mine? Oh, that I could see you single out from among all these admirers
one superior being, who might one day, by his love, render your
happiness complete, and when I am gone, continue my affection for you
under a younger and more tender form!' 'Your affection suffices me,' I
would answer; 'I feel no pain; I desire nothing; I am happy!' 'Yes,' he
would rejoin, 'you are happy, but you are growing old at twenty! Oh,
remember that it is your task to close my eyes! Live and love! oh, do
but live, that I may not survive you!

"He called in one doctor after another; they wearied me with questions,
and all agreed in saying that I was threatened with spasm of the heart.
The fainting fits, incident to the disease, had begun to show
themselves. I required, it was said, to break through the usual routine
of my life, to relinquish for some time my sedentary habits, and seek a
complete change of air and scene, in order to give me that stimulus and
energy that my tropical nature required, and which it had lost in the
cold and misty atmosphere of Paris. My husband did not hesitate one
moment between the hope of prolonging my life and the happiness of
keeping me near him. As he could not, by reason of his age and
occupations, accompany me, he confided me to the care of friends who
were travelling in Switzerland and Italy, with two daughters of my own
age. I travelled with that family two years; I have seen mountains and
seas that reminded me of those of my native land; I have breathed the
balmy and stimulating air of the waves and glaciers; but nothing has
restored to me the youth that has withered in my heart, although it
sometimes appears to bloom on my face, so as to deceive even me. The
doctors of Geneva have sent me here, as the last resource of their art;
they have advised me to prolong my stay as long as one ray of sun
lingers in the autumnal sky; then I shall rejoin my husband. Alas, that
I could have shown him his daughter, once more young, and radiant with
health and hope! But I feel that I shall return only to sadden his
latter days, and perhaps to expire in his arms! Well," she rejoined in
a resigned and almost joyful tone, "I shall not now leave earth without
having seen my long-expected brother,--the brother of the soul, that
some secret instinct taught me to expect, and whose image, foreshadowed
in my fancy, had made me indifferent to all real beings. Yes," she
said, covering her eyes with her rosy taper fingers between which I saw
one or two tears trickle; "oh, yes, the dream of all my nights was
embodied in you this morning, when I awoke! ... Oh, if it were not too
late to live on, I would wish to live for centuries, to prolong the
consciousness of that look, which seemed to weep over me, of that heart
that pitied me, of that voice," she added, unveiling her eyes which
were raised to heaven,--"of that voice that called me sister! ... That
tender name will never more be taken from me," she added with a look
and tone of gentle interrogation, "during life, or after death?"



XX.


I sank at her feet overpowered with felicity, and pressed my lips to
them without saying a word. I heard the step of the boatmen, who came
to tell us that the lake was calm, and that there was but just
sufficient daylight left to cross over to the Savoy shore. We rose to
follow them, with unsteady steps, as if intoxicated with joy. Oh, who
can describe what I experienced, as I felt the weight of her pliant but
exhausted frame hanging delightfully on my arm, as though she wished to
feel, and make me feel, that I was henceforward her only support in
weakness, her only trust in sorrow, the only link by which she held to
earth! Methinks I hear even now, though fifteen years have passed since
that hour, the sound of the dry leaves as they rustled beneath our
tread; I see our two long shadows blended into one, which the sun cast
on the left side on the grass of the orchard, and which seemed, like a
living shroud tracking the steps of youth and love, to develop them
before their time. I feel the gentle warmth of her shoulder against my
heart, and the touch of one of the tresses of her hair, which the wind
of the lake waved against my face, and which my lips strove to retain
and to kiss. O Time, what eternities of joy thou buriest in one such
minute, or rather, how powerless art thou against memory; how impotent
to give forgetfulness!



XXI.


The evening was as warm and peaceful as the preceding day had been cold
and stormy. The mountains were bathed in a soft purple light which made
them appear larger and more distant than usual, and they seemed like
huge floating shadows through whose transparency one could perceive the
warm sky of Italy which lay beyond. The sky was mottled with small
crimson clouds, like the ensanguined plumes which fall from the wing of
the wounded swan, struggling in the grasp of an eagle.

The wind had subsided as evening came on; the silvery rippling waves
threw a slight fringe of spray around the rocks, from which the
dripping branches of the fig-trees depended. The smoke from the
cottages, which lay scattered on the Mont du Chat, rose here and there,
and crept upward along the mountain sides, while the cascades fell into
the ravines below, like a smoke of waters. The waves of the lake were
so transparent, that as we leaned over the side of the boat, we could
see the reflection of the oars and of our own faces, and so warm, that
as we drew our fingers through them, we felt but a voluptuous caress of
the waters. We were separated from the boatmen by a small curtain, as
in the gondolas of Venice. She was lying on one of the benches of the
boat, as on a couch, with her elbow resting upon a cushion; she was
enveloped in shawls to protect her from the damp of evening, and my
cloak was placed in several folds upon her feet; her face, at times in
shade, was at others illumined by the last rosy tints of the sun, which
seemed suspended over the dark firs of the Grande Chartreuse. I was
lying on a heap of nets at the bottom of the boat; my heart was full,
my lips were mute, my eyes were fixed on hers. What need had we to
speak, when the sun, the hour, the mountains, the air and water, the
voluptuous balancing of the boat, the light ripple of the murmuring
waters as we divided them, our looks, our silence, and our hearts,
which beat in unison,--all spoke so eloquently for us? We rather seemed
to fear instinctively that the least sound of voice or words would jar
discordantly on such enchanting silence. We seemed to glide from the
azure of the lake to the azure of the horizon, without seeing the
shores we left, or the shores on which we were about to land.

I heard one longer and more deep-drawn sigh fall slowly from her lips,
as though her bosom, oppressed by some secret weight, had at one breath
exhaled the aspirations of a long life. I felt alarmed. "Are you in
pain?" I inquired, sadly. "No," she said; "it was not pain, it was
thought." "What were you thinking of so intensely?" I rejoined. "I was
thinking," she answered, "that if God were at this instant to strike
all nature with immobility; if the sun were to remain thus, its disk
half hidden behind those dark firs, which seem the fringed lashes of
the eye of heaven; if light and shade remained thus blended in the
atmosphere, this lake in its same transparency, this air as balmy,
these two shores forever at the same distance from this boat, the same
ray of ethereal light on your brow, the same look of pity reflected
from your eyes in mine, this same fulness of joy in my heart,--I should
comprehend what I have never comprehended since I first began to think,
or to dream." "What?" said I, anxiously. "Eternity in one instant, and
the Infinite in one sensation!" she exclaimed, half leaning over the
edge of the boat, as if to look at the water and to spare me the
embarrassment of an answer. I was awkward enough to reply by some
commonplace phrase of vulgar gallantry, which unfortunately rose to my
lips, instead of the chaste and ineffable adoration which inundated my
heart. It was something to the effect that such happiness would not
suffice me, if it were not the promise of another and a greater
felicity. She understood me but too well, and blushed, on my account
rather than her own. She turned to me with all the emotion of profaned
purity depicted on her face, and in accents as tender, but more solemn
and heartfelt than any that had yet fallen from her lips: "You have
given me pain," she said in a low voice; "come hither, nearer to me,
and listen; I know not if what I feel for you, and what you appear to
feel for me, be what is termed love, in the obscure and confused
language of this world in which the same words serve to express
feelings that bear no resemblance to each other, save in the sound they
yield upon the lips of man. I do not wish to know it; and you--oh, I
beseech you, never seek to know it! But this I know, that it is the
most supreme and entire happiness that the soul of one created being
can draw from the soul, the eyes, and the voice of another being like
to herself, of a being who till now was wanting to her happiness, and
of whom she completes the existence. Besides this boundless happiness,
this mutual response of thought to thought, of heart to heart, of soul
to soul, which blends them in one indivisible existence, and makes them
as inseparable as the ray of yonder setting sun, and the beam of yonder
rising moon, when they meet in this same sky, and ascend in mingled
light in the same ether--is there another joy, gross image of the one I
feel, as far removed from the eternal and immaterial union of our souls
as dust is from these stars, or a minute from eternity? I know not! and
I will not, cannot know!" she added in a tone of disdainful sadness.
"But," she resumed, with a confiding look and attitude, which seemed to
make her wholly mine, "what do words signify? I love you! All nature
would say it for me, if I did not; or rather, let me proclaim it first,
for both: We love each other!"

"Oh, say, say it once more, say it a thousand times," I exclaimed,
rising like a madman, and walking backwards and forwards in the boat,
which shook beneath my feet. "Let us say it together, say it to God and
man, say it to heaven and earth, say it to the mute, unheeding
elements! Say it eternally, and let all nature repeat it eternally with
us!" ... I fell on my knees before her, with my hands clasped, and my
disordered hair falling over my face. "Be calm," she said, placing her
fingers on my lips, "and let me speak without interruption to the end."
I sat down and remained silent.

"I have said," she resumed, "or rather I have not said, I have called
out to you from the depths of my soul, that I love you! I love with all
the accumulated power of the expectations, dreams, and impatient
longings of a sterile life of eight-and-twenty years, passed in
watching and not seeing, in seeking and not finding, what some
presentiment taught me to expect, and you have revealed to me. But,
alas, I have known and loved you too late, if you understand love as
most men do, and as you seemed to comprehend it, when you spoke just
now, those light and profane words. Listen to me once more," she added,
"and understand me; I am yours, wholly yours. I belong to you as I do
to myself, and I may say so without wronging the adoptive father, who
never considered me but as a daughter. I am wholly yours, and of myself
I only keep back what you wish me to retain. Do not be surprised at
this language, which is not that of the women of Europe; they love and
are beloved tamely, and would fear to weaken the sentiments they
inspire by avowing a secret that they wish to have wrested from them. I
differ from them by my country, by my feelings, and by my education. I
have lived with a philosopher in the society of free-thinkers,
unshackled by the belief and observances of the religion they have
undermined, and have none of the superstitions, weaknesses and scruples
which make ordinary women bow before another judge than their
conscience. The God of their childhood is not my God. I believe in the
God who has written his symbol in Nature, his law in our hearts, his
morality in our reason. Reason, feeling and conscience are the only
Revelation in which I believe. Neither of these oracles of my life
forbid me to be yours, and the impulse of my whole soul would cast me
into your arms, if you could only be happy at that price. But shall you
or I place our happiness in a fugitive delirium of the senses, which
cannot give half the enjoyment that its voluntary renunciation would
afford our hearts? Shall we not more fully believe in the immateriality
and eternity of our love, if it remains, like a pure thought, in those
regions which are inaccessible to change and death, than if it were
degraded and profaned by unworthy delights? If ever," she added, after
a short silence, and blushing deeply, "if ever, in a moment of frenzy
and incredulity, you exacted from me such a proof of abnegation, the
sacrifice would not only be one of dignity, but of existence; in
robbing my love of its innocency, you would rob me of life; when you
thought to embrace happiness, you would clasp only death in your arms;
I am but a shade, and in one sigh I may exhale my soul!..."

We remained silent for some time. At last, with a deep-drawn sigh, I
said, "I understand you, and in my heart I had sworn the eternal
innocency of my love, before you had done speaking, or required it of
me."



XXII.


My resigned tone seemed to delight her, and to redouble the confiding
charm of her manner. Night had spread over all, the stars glassed
themselves in the lake, and the silence of Nature lulled the earth to
rest. The winds, the trees and waves were hushed, to let us listen to
all the fugitive impressions of feeling and of thought that whisper in
the hearts of the happy. The boatmen sang snatches of their drawling
and monotonous chants, which seem like the noted modulations of the
waves on the shore. I was reminded of her voice, which seemed ever to
sound in my ear, and I exclaimed, "Oh, that you would mark this
enchanting night for me, by some sweet tones addressed to these winds
and waves, so that they may be forever full of you!" I made a sign to
the boatmen to be silent, and to stifle the sound of their oars, from
which the drops came trickling back into the lake like a musical
accompaniment of silvery notes. She sang a Scotch ballad, half naval
and half pastoral, in which a young girl, whose sailor lover has left
her to seek wealth beyond the seas, relates how her parents, wearied of
waiting his return, had induced her to marry an old man, with whom she
might have been happy, but for the remembrance of her early love. The
ballad begins thus:

     "When the sheep are in the fauld and the ky at hame,
     And a' the weary warld to rest are gane,
     The waes of my heart fa' in showers frae my e'e,
     While my gude-man lies sound by me."


After each verse there is a long revery, sung in vague notes, without
words, which lulls the heart with unspeakable melancholy, and brings
tears into the eyes and voice. Each succeeding verse takes up the story
in the dull and distant tone of memory, weeping, regretting, yet
resigned. If the Greek strophes of Sappho are the very fire of love,
these Scotch notes are the very life's blood and tears of a heart
stricken to death by Fate. I know not who wrote the music, but whoever
he may be, thanks be to him for having found in a few notes, and in the
mournful melody of a voice, the expression of infinite human sadness. I
have never since then heard the first measures of that air without
flying from it as one pursued by a spirit; and when I wish to soften my
heart by a tear, I sing within myself the plaintive burden of that
song, and feel ready to weep,--I, who never weep!



XXIII.


We reached the little mole that stretches out into the lake where the
boats are moored; it is the harbor of Aix, and is situated at about
half a league from the town. It was midnight, and there were no longer
any carriages or donkeys on the pier to convey strangers to the town.
The distance was too great for a delicate suffering woman to walk, and
after knocking fruitlessly at the doors of one or two cottages in the
vicinity of the lake, the boatmen proposed carrying the lady to Aix.
They cheerfully slipped their oars from the rings which fastened them
to the boat, and tied them together with the ropes of their nets; then
they placed one of the cushions of the boat on these ropes, and thus
formed a soft and flexible kind of litter for the stranger. Four of
them then took up the oars, and each placing one end on his shoulder,
they set off with the palanquin, to which they imparted no other motion
than that of their steps. I would have wished to have my share in the
pleasure of bearing their precious burden, but was repulsed by them
with jealous eagerness. I walked beside the litter with my right hand
in hers, so that she might cling to me when the movement of her
conveyance was too rough. I thus prevented her slipping off the narrow
cushion on which she was stretched. We walked in this manner slowly and
silently in the moonlight down the long avenue of poplars. Oh, how
short that avenue seemed to me, and how I wished that it could have led
us on thus to the last step of both our lives! She did not speak, and I
said nothing, but I felt the whole weight of her body trustingly
suspended to my arm; I felt both her cold hands clasp mine, and from
time to time an involuntary pressure, or a warmer breath upon them,
made me feel that she had approached her lips to my hand to warm it.
Never was silence so eloquent in its mute revealings. We enjoyed the
happiness of a century in one hour. By the time we arrived at the old
doctor's house, and had deposited the invalid at her chamber door, the
whole world that lay between us had disappeared. My hand was wet with
her tears; I dried them with my lips, and threw myself without
undressing on my bed.



XXIV.


In vain I tossed and turned on my pillow; I could not sleep. The
thousand impressions of the preceding days were traced so vividly on my
mind that I could not believe they were past, and I seemed to hear and
see over again all I had seen or heard the previous day. The fever of
my soul had extended to my body. I rose and laid down again without
finding repose. At last I gave it up. I tried by bodily motion to calm
the agitation of my mind; I opened the window, turned over the leaves
of books which I did not understand as I read them, paced up and down,
and changed the position of my table and my chair a dozen times,
without finding a place where I could bear to spend the night. All this
noise was heard in the adjoining room; and my steps disturbed the poor
invalid, who, doubtless, was as wakeful as I was. I heard a light step
on the creaking floor approach the bolted oak door which separated her
sitting-room from my bedroom; I listened with my ear close to the door,
and heard a suppressed breathing, and the rustle of a silk gown against
the wall. The light of a lamp shone through the chinks of the door, and
streamed from beneath it on my floor. It was she! she was there
listening too, with her ear perhaps close to my brow; she might have
heard my heart beat. "Are you ill?" whispered a voice, which I should
have recognized by a single sigh. "No," I answered, "but I am too
happy! Excess of joy is as exciting as excess of anguish. The fever I
feel is one of life; I do not wish to dispel it, or to fly from it, but
I am sitting up to enjoy it." "Child that you are!" she said, "go and
sleep while I watch; it is now my turn to watch over you." "But you,"
whispered I, "why are you not sleeping?" "I never wish to sleep more,"
she replied; "I would not lose one minute of the consciousness of my
overwhelming bliss. I have but little time in which to enjoy my
happiness, and do not like to give any portion of it to forgetfulness
in sleep. I came to sit here in the hopes of hearing you, or at any
rate to feel nearer to you." "Oh, why still so far?" I murmured. "Why
so far? Why is this wall between us?" "Is there only this door between
us then," she said, "and not our will and our vow? There! if you are
only restrained by this material obstacle, it is removed!" and I heard
her withdraw the bolt on her side. "Yes," she continued, "if there be
not in you some feeling stronger than love itself to subdue and master
your passion, you can pass. Yes," she added with an accent at once more
solemn and more impassioned, "I will owe nothing but to yourself,--you
may pass; you will meet with love equal to your own, but such love
would be my death...."

I was overcome by the violence of my feelings, the impetuous impulse of
my heart that impelled me towards that voice, and the moral violence
that repulsed me; and I fell as one mortally wounded on the threshold
of that closed door. As to her, I heard her sit down on a cushion which
she had taken from a sofa, and thrown on the floor. During the greater
part of the night we continued to converse in a low tone, through the
intervals between the floor and the rough wood-work of the door. Who
can describe the outpourings of our hearts, the words unused in the
ordinary language of men that seemed to be wafted like night-dreams
between heaven and earth, and were interrupted by silence in which our
hearts and not our lips communed revealed their unutterable thoughts?
At length the intervals of silence became longer, the voices grew
faster and, overcome with fatigue, I fell asleep, with my hand clasped
on my knees, and my cheek leaning against the wall.



XXV.


The sun was already high in the heavens when I woke, and my room was
flooded with light. The redbreasts were chirping and pecking at the
vines and currant bushes beneath my windows; all nature seemed to be
illumined and adorned and to have awakened before me, to usher in and
welcome this first day of my new life. All the sounds and noises in the
house seemed joyful as I was. I heard the light steps of the maid who
went and came in the passage to carry breakfast to her mistress, the
childish voices of the little girls of the mountains who brought
flowers from the edge of the glaciers, and the tinkling bells and
stamping hoofs of the mules which were waiting in the yard to carry her
to the lake or to the mountain. I changed my soiled and dusty clothes,
I bathed my red and swollen eyes, smoothed my disordered hair, put on
my leather gaiters, like a chamois hunter of the Alps, and taking my
gun in hand, I went down to join the old doctor and his family at the
breakfast-table.

At breakfast they talked of the storm on the lake, of the danger in
which the stranger had been, her fainting at Haute-Combe, her absence
during two days, and my good fortune in having met with her and brought
her home. I begged the doctor to request for me the favor of inquiring
in person after her health, and accompanying her in her excursions. He
came down again with her; she looked lovelier and more interesting than
ever, and happiness seemed to have given her fresh youth. She enchanted
every one, but she looked only at me. I alone understood her looks and
words with their double meaning. The guides lifted her joyfully on the
seat with the swinging foot-board, which serves as a saddle for the
women of Savoy; and I walked beside the mule with the tinkling bells
which was that day to carry her to the highest chalets of the mountain.

We passed the whole day there, but we scarcely spoke, so well did we
already understand each other without words. Sometimes we stood
contemplating the cheerful valley of Chambery which appeared to widen
as we mounted higher; or we loitered on the edge of cascades, whose
sun-tinted vapors enveloped us in watery rainbows that seemed to be the
mysterious halo of our love; or we would gather the latest flowers of
earth on the sloping meadows before the chalets, and exchange them
between us, as the letters of the fragrant alphabet of Nature,
intelligible to us alone; or we gathered chestnuts which we brought
home to roast at night by her fire; or we sat under shelter of the
highest chalets which were already abandoned by their owners, and
thought how happy two beings like ourselves might be, confined by fate
to one of these deserted huts, made from rough boards and trunks of
trees,--so near the stars, so near the murmuring winds, the snows and
glaciers, but divided from man by solitude, and sufficing to each other
during a life filled with one thought and but one feeling!



XXVI.


In the evening we came down slowly from the mountain with saddened
looks, as though we had been leaving our domains and happiness behind
us. She retired to her apartment, and I remained below to sup with our
host and his guests. After supper I knocked, as had been agreed upon,
at her door; she received me as she might a friend of childhood after a
long absence. Henceforward I spent all my days and all my evenings in
the same manner; I generally found her reclining on a sofa with a white
cover, which was placed in a corner between the fireplace and the
window; upon a small table on which stood a brass lamp there were some
books, the letters she had received or commenced during the day, a
little common tea-pot,--which she gave me when she went away, and which
has always stood upon my chimney since,--and two cups of blue and pink
china, in which we used to take tea at midnight. The old doctor would
sometimes go up with me, to chat with his fair patient; but after half
an hour's conversation, the good old man would find out that my
presence went further than his advice or his baths to re-establish the
health that was so precious to us all, and would leave us to our books
and conversation. At midnight, I kissed the hand she extended to me
across the table, and went to my own room; but I never retired to rest
until all was silent in hers.



XXVII.


We led this delightful, twofold life during six long or short weeks;
long, when I call to mind the numberless palpitations of joy in our
hearts, but short, when I remember the imperceptible rapidity of the
hours that filled them. By a miracle of Providence, which does not
occur once in ten years, the season seemed to connive at our happiness,
and to conspire with us to prolong it. The whole month of October, and
half of November, seemed like a new but leafless spring; the air was
still soft, the waters blue, the clouds were rosy, and the sun shone
brightly. The days were shorter, it is true, but the long evenings
spent beside her fire drew us closer together; they made us more
exclusively present to each other, and prevented our looks and hearts
from evaporating amid the splendor of external nature. We loved them
better than the long summer days. Our light was within us, and it shone
more brightly when we confined ourselves to the house during the long
darkness of November evenings, with the moaning of the autumnal winds
around us, and the first rattling of the sleet and hail against the
windows. The wintry rain seemed to throw us back upon ourselves, and to
cry aloud: Hasten to say all that is yet untold in your hearts, and all
that must be spoken before man and woman die, for I am the voice of the
evil days that are near at hand to part you!



XXVIII.


We visited together, in succession, every creek and cove, or sandy
beach of the lake, every mountain pass or ridge; every grotto or remote
valley; every cascade hidden among the rocks of Savoy. We saw more
sublime or smiling landscapes, more mysterious solitudes, more
enchanted deserts, more cottages hanging on the mountain brow half-way
between the clouds and the abyss, more foaming waters in the sloping
meadows, more forests of dark pines disclosing their gloomy colonnades
and echoing our steps beneath their domes, than might have hidden a
whole world of lovers. To each of these we gave a sigh, a rapture, or a
blessing; we implored them to preserve the memory of the hours we had
passed together, of the thoughts they had inspired, the air they had
given us, the drop of water we had drunk in the hollow of our hands,
the leaf or flower we had gathered, the print of our footsteps on the
dewy grass, and to give them back to us one day with the particle of
existence that we had left there as we passed; so that nought might be
lost of the bliss that overflowed within us, and that we might receive
back each minute of ecstasy, or emanation of ourselves, in that
faithful treasure house of Eternity, where nothing is lost, not even
the breath we have just exhaled, or the minute we think we have lost.
Never, perhaps, since the creation of these lakes, these torrents, and
these rocks, did such tender and fervent hymns ascend from these
mountains to Heaven! There was in our souls life and love enough to
animate all nature, earth, air, and water, rocks and trees, cedar and
hyssop, and to make them give forth sighs, aspirations, voice, perfume,
and flame enough to fill the whole sanctuary of Nature, even if more
vast and mute than the desert in which we wandered. Had a globe been
created for ourselves alone, we alone would have sufficed to people and
to quicken it, to give it voice and language, praise and love for all
eternity! And who shall say that the human soul is not infinite? Who,
beside the woman he adores, before the face of Nature, and beneath the
eye of God, e'er felt the limits of existence, or of his power of life
and love? O Love! the base may fear thee, and the wicked proscribe
thee! Thou art the high priest of this world, the revealer of
Immortality, the fire of the altar; and without thy ray man would not
even dimly comprehend Eternity!



XXIX.


These six weeks were to me as a baptism of fire which transfigured my
soul, and cleansed it of all the impurities with which it had been
stained. Love was the torch which, while it fired my heart, enlightened
all nature, heaven, and earth, and showed me to myself. I understood
the nothingness of this world when I felt how it vanished before a
single spark of true life. I loathed myself as I looked back into the
past, and compared it with the purity and perfection of the one I
loved. I entered into the heaven of my soul, as my heart and eyes
fathomed the ocean of beauty, tenderness, and purity which expanded
hourly in the eyes, in the voice, and in the discourse, of the heavenly
creature who had manifested herself to me. How often did I kneel before
her, my head bowed to the earth in the attitude and with the feeling of
adoration! How often did I beseech her, as I would a being of another
order, to cleanse me in her tears, absorb me in her flame, or to inhale
me in her breath,--so that nothing of myself should be left in me, save
the purifying water with which she had cleansed me, the flame that had
consumed me, or the new breath that she had infused into my new being;
so that I might become her, or she might become me, and that God
himself in calling us to him should not distinguish or divide what the
miracle of love had transformed and mingled!... Oh, if you have a
brother or a son, who has never understood virtue, pray that he may
love as I did! As long as he loves thus, he will be capable of every
sacrifice or heroic devotion to equal the ideal of his love; and when
he no longer loves, he will still retain in his soul a remembrance of
celestial delights, which will make him turn with disgust from the
waters of vice, and his eye will be often secretly uplifted towards the
pure spring at which he once knelt to drink. I cannot tell the feeling
of salutary shame which oppressed me in the presence of the one I
loved; but her reproaches were so tender, her looks so gentle, though
penetrating, her pardon so divine, that in humbling myself before her I
did not feel myself abased, but rather raised and dignified. I almost
mistook for my own and inward light, what was only the reverberation in
me of her splendor and purity. Involuntarily I compared her to all the
other women I had approached, except Antonina, who appeared to me like
Julie in her artless infancy; and save my mother, whom she resembled in
her virtue and maturity, no woman in my eyes could bear the slightest
comparison. A single look of hers seemed to throw all my past life into
shade. Her discourse revealed to me depths of feelings and refinements
of passion, which transported me into unknown regions, where I seemed
to breathe for the first time the native air of my own thoughts. All
the levity, fickleness, and vanity, the aridity, irony, and bitterness,
of the evil days of my youth, disappeared, and I scarcely recognized
myself. When I left her presence I felt myself good, and thought myself
pure. Once more I felt enthusiasm, prayer, inward piety, and the warm
tears which flow not from the eyes, but well out like a secret spring
from beneath our apparent aridity, and cleanse the heart without
enervating it. I vowed never to descend from the celestial but by no
means giddy heights to which I had been raised by her tender
reproaches, her voice, her single presence. It was as a second
innocence of my soul, imparted by the rays of the eternal innocence of
her love.

I could not say whether there was most piety, or fascination in the
impression I received, so much did passion and adoration mingle in
equal portions, and in my thoughts change, a thousand times in one
minute, love into worship, or worship into love. Oh, is not that the
height, the very pinnacle of love,--enthusiasm in the possession of
perfect beauty, and rapture in supreme adoration?... All she had said
seemed to me eternal; all she had looked on appeared to me sacred. I
envied the earth on which she had trodden; the sunshine which had
enveloped her during our walks appeared to me happy to have touched
her. I would have wished to abstract and separate forever from the
liquid plains of air, the air that she had sanctified in breathing it;
I would have enclosed the empty place that she had just ceased to fill
in space, so that no inferior creature should occupy it, so long as the
world should last. In a word, I saw and felt, I worshipped God himself,
through the medium of my love. If life were to last in such a condition
of the soul, Nature would stand still, the blood would cease to
circulate, the heart forget to beat, or rather, there would be neither
motion, precipitation, nor lassitude, neither life, nor death, in our
senses; there would be only one endless and living absorption of our
being in another's, such as must be the state of the soul at once
annihilated and living in God.



XXX.


Oh, joy! the vile desires of sensual passion were annulled (as she had
wished) in the full possession of each other's soul, and happiness, as
happiness ever does, made me feel better and more pious than I had ever
been. God and my love were so mingled in my heart, that my adoration of
her became a perpetual adoration of the Supreme Being who had created
her. During the day, when we loitered on the sloping hills or on the
borders of the lake, or sat on the root of some tree in a sunny lawn,
to rest, to gaze, and to admire, our conversation would often, from the
natural overflowing of two full hearts, tend towards that fathomless
abyss of all thought,--the Infinite! and towards Him who alone can fill
infinite space,--God! When I pronounced this last word, with the
heartfelt gratitude which reveals so much in one single accent, I was
surprised to see her averted looks, or remark on her brow and in the
corners of her mouth a trace of sad and painful incredulity, which
seemed to me in contradiction with our enthusiasm. One day, I asked
her, timidly, the reason. "It is that that word gives me pain," she
answered. "And how," said I, "how can the word that comprehends all
life, all love, and all goodness give pain to the most perfect of God's
creations?" "Alas!" she said with the tone of a despairing soul, "that
word represents the idea of a Being, whose existence I have
passionately desired might not be a dream; and yet that Being," she
added in a low and mournful tone, "in my eyes, and in those of the
sages whose lessons I have received, is but the most marvellous and
unreal delusion of our thoughts." "What!" said I, "your teachers do not
believe there is a God? But you, who love, how can you disbelieve? Does
not every throb of our hearts proclaim Him?" "Oh," she answered
hastily, "do not interpret as folly the wisdom of those men who have
uplifted for me the veils of philosophy, and have caused the broad day
of reason and of science to shine before my eyes, instead of the pale
and glimmering lamp with which Superstition lights the voluntary
darkness, that she wilfully casts around her childish divinity. It is
in the God of your mother and my nurse that I no longer believe, and
not the God of Nature and of Science. I believe in a Being who is the
Principle and Cause, spring and end of all other beings, or rather, who
is himself the eternity, form, and law of all those beings, visible or
invisible, intelligent or unintelligent, animate or inanimate, quick or
dead, of which is composed the only real name of this Being of beings,
the Infinite. But the idea of the incommensurable greatness, the
sovereign fatality, the inflexible and absolute necessity of all the
acts of this Being, whom you call God and we term Law, excludes from
our thoughts all precise intelligibility, exact denomination,
reasonable imagining, personal manifestation, revelation, or
incarnation, and the idea of any possible relation between that Being
and ourselves, even of homage and of prayer. Wherefore should the
Consequence pray to the Cause?

"It is a cruel thought," she added; "for how many blessings, prayers,
and tears I should have poured out at His feet since I have loved you!
But," she resumed, "I surprise and pain you; pray forgive me. Is not
truth the first of virtues, if virtue there be? On this single point we
cannot agree; let us never speak of it. You have been brought up by a
pious mother, in the midst of a Christian family, and have inhaled with
your first breath the holy credulity of your home. You have been led by
the hand into the temples; you have been shown images, mysteries, and
altars; you have been taught prayers and told, God is here, who listens
and will answer you; and you believed, for you were not of an age to
inquire. Since then, you have discarded these baubles of your
childhood, to conceive a less feminine and less puerile God, than this
God of the Christian tabernacles; but the first dazzling glare has not
departed from your eyes; the real light that you have thought to see
has been blended, unknown to yourself, with that false brightness which
fascinated you on your entrance into life; you have retained two
weaknesses of intelligence,--mystery and prayer. There is no mystery"
she said, in a more solemn tone; "there is only reason, which dispels
all mystery! It is man, crafty or credulous man, who invented
mystery,--God made reason! And prayer does not exist," she continued
mournfully, "for an inflexible law will not relent, and a necessary law
cannot be changed.

"The ancients, with that profound wisdom which was often hidden beneath
their popular ignorance, knew that full well," she added; "for they
prayed to all the gods of their invention, but they never implored the
supreme law,--Destiny."

She was silent. "It appears to me," I said after a long pause, "that
the teachers who have instilled their wisdom into you have too much
subordinated the feeling to the reasoning Being, in their theory of the
relation of God to man; in a word, they have overlooked the heart in
man,--the heart which is the organ of love, as intelligence is the
organ of thought. The imaginings of man in respect of God may be
puerile and mistaken, but his instincts, which are his unwritten law,
must be sometimes right; if not, Nature would have lied in creating
him. You do not think Nature a lie," I said smiling,--"you, who said
just now that truth was perhaps the only virtue? Now, whatever may have
been the intention of God in giving those two instincts, mystery and
prayer, whether he meant thereby to show that he was the
incomprehensible God, and that his name was Mystery; or that he desired
that all creatures should give him honor and praise, and that prayer
should be the universal incense of nature,--it is most certain that
man, when he thinks on God, feels within him two instincts, mystery and
adoration. Reason's province," I pursued, "is to enlighten and disperse
mystery, more and more every day, but never to dispel it entirely.
Prayer is the natural desire of the heart to pour forth unceasingly its
supplications, efficacious or not, heard or unheard, as a precious
perfume on the feet of God. What matters it if the perfume fall to the
ground, or whether it anoint the feet of God? It is always a tribute of
weakness, humility, and adoration.

"But who can say that it is ever lost?" I added in the tone of one
whose hopes triumph over his doubts; "who can say that prayer, the
mysterious communication with invisible Omnipotence, is not in reality
the greatest of all the natural or supernatural powers of man? Who can
say that the supreme and immortal Will has not ordained from all
eternity that prayer should be continually inspired and heard, and that
man should thus, by his invocations, participate in the ordering of his
own destiny? Who knows whether God, in his love, and perpetual blessing
on the beings which emanate from him, has not established this bond
with them, as the invisible chain which links the thoughts of all
worlds to his? Who knows but that, in his majestic solitude which he
peoples alone, he has willed that this living murmur, this continual
communing with nature, should ascend and descend continually in all
space from him to all the beings that he vivifies and loves, and from
those beings to him? At all events, prayer is the highest privilege of
man, since it allows him to speak to God. If God were deaf to our
prayers, we should still pray; for if in his majesty he would not hear
us, still prayer would dignify man."

I saw that my reasonings touched without convincing her, and that the
springs of her soul, which science had dried up, had not yet flowed
towards God. But love was to soften her religion as it had softened her
heart; the delights and anguish of passion were soon to bring forth
adoration and prayer, those two perfumes of the souls that burn and
languish. The one is full of rapture; the other full of tears,--both
are divine!



XXXI.


In the meantime her health improved daily. Happiness, solitude with a
beloved companion (that paradise of tender souls), and the daily
discovery on her part of some new mystery of thought in me which
corresponded to her own nature; the autumnal air in the mountains,
which, like stoves heated during summer, preserve the warmth of the sun
until the winter snows; our distant excursions to the chalets, or on
the waters; the motion of the boat, or the gentle pace of the mules;
the milk brought frothing from the pastures in the wooden cups the
shepherds carve; and above all, the gentle excitement, the peaceful
revery, the continual infatuation of a heart which first love upheld as
with wings and led on from thought to thought, from dream to dream,
through a new-found heaven,--all seemed to contribute visibly to her
recovery. Every day seemed to bring fresh youth; it was as a
convalescence of the soul which showed itself on the features. Her
face, which had been at first slightly marked round the eyes with those
dark and bluish tints which seem like the impress of the fingers of
Death, gradually recovered the roundness of the cheek, the mantling
blood, the soft down, and blooming complexion of a young girl who has
been on the mountains, and whose cheek has been visited by the first
cold bracing winds from the glaciers. Her lips had recovered their
fulness, her eyes their brightness; the lid no longer drooped, and the
eye itself seemed to swim in that continual and luminous mist which
rises like a vapor from the burning heart, and is condensed into tears
on the eye, whose fire absorbs these tears, that always rise, and never
flow. There was more strength in her attitudes, more pliancy in her
movements; her step was light and lively as a child's. Whenever we
entered the yard of the house on our return from our rambles, the old
doctor and his family would express their surprise at the prodigious
change that a day had wrought in her appearance, and wonder at the life
and light that she seemed to shed around her.

In truth, happiness seemed to encompass her with a radiant atmosphere,
in which she not only walked herself, but enveloped all those who
looked upon her. This radiance of beauty, this atmosphere of love, are
not, as many think, only the fancies of a poet; the poet merely sees
more distinctly what escapes the blind or indifferent eye of other men.
It has often been said of a lovely woman, that she illumines the
darkness of night; it might be said of Julie that she warmed the
surrounding air. I lived and moved, enveloped in this warm emanation of
her reviving beauty; others but felt it as they passed.



XXXII.


When I was obliged to leave her for a short time, and returned to my
room, I felt, even at mid-day, as if I had been immured in a dungeon
without air or light. The brightest sun afforded me no light, unless
its rays were reflected by her eyes. I admired her more, the more I saw
her; and could not believe she was a being of the same order as myself.
The divine nature of her love had become a part of the creed of my
imagination; and in spirit I was ever prostrate before the being who
appeared to me too tender to be a divinity--too divine to be a woman! I
sought a name for her, and found none. I called her Mystery, and under
that vague and indefinite title, offered her worship which partook of
earth by its tenderness, of a dream by its enthusiasm, of reality by
her presence, and of heaven by my adoration.

She had obliged me to confess that I had sometimes written verses, but
I had never shown her any. She did not much like that artificial and
set form of speech, which, when it does not idealize, generally impairs
the simplicity of feeling and expression. Her nature was too full of
impulse, too feeling, and too serious, to bend itself to all the
precision, form, and delay of written poetry. She was Poetry without a
lyre--true as the heart, simple as the untutored thought, dreamy as
night, brilliant as day, swift as lightning, boundless as space! No
rules of harmony could have bounded the infinite music of her mind; her
very voice was a perpetual melody, that no cadence of verse could have
equalled. Had I lived long with her, I should never have read or
written poetry. She was the living poem of Nature and of myself; my
thoughts were in her heart, my imagery in her eyes, and my harmony in
her voice.

She had in her room a few volumes of the principal poets of the end of
the eighteenth century, and of the Empire, such as Delille and
Fontanes; but their high-sounding and material poetry was not suited to
us. She had been lulled by the melodious murmur of the waves of the
tropic, and her soul contained treasures of love, imagination, and
melancholy, which all the voices of the air and waters could not have
expressed. She would sometimes attempt with me to read these books, on
the strength of their reputation, but would throw them down again
impatiently; they gave no sound beneath her touch, like those broken
chords which remain voiceless when we strike the keys. The music of her
heart was in mine, but I could never give it forth to the world; and
the verses she was one day to inspire were destined to sound only on
her grave. She never knew before she died whom she had loved. In her
eyes I was her brother, and it would have mattered little to her that I
had been a poet for the rest of the world. Her love saw nothing in me
but myself.

Only once I involuntarily betrayed before her the poor gift of poetry
that I possessed, and which she neither suspected nor desired in me. My
friend Louis--had come to stay a few days with us. The evening had been
spent till midnight in reading, in confidential talk, in musing, in
sadness, and in smiles. We wondered to see three young lives, which a
short time before were unknown to each other, now united and identified
beneath the same roof, at the same fireside, with the same murmur of
autumnal winds around, in a cottage of the mountains of Savoy; we
strove to foresee by what sport of Providence, or Chance, the stormy
winds of life might scatter or reunite us once more. These distant
vistas of the horizon of our future lives had saddened us, and we
remained silent round the little tea-table on which we were leaning. At
last Louis, who was a poet, felt a mournful inspiration rising in his
heart, and wished to write it down. She gave him paper and a pencil,
and he leaned on the marble chimney-piece and wrote a few stanzas,
plaintive and tearful as the funeral strophes of Gilbert. He resembled
Gilbert, and he might have written those lines of his, which will live
as long as the lamentations of Job, in the language of men:

     Au banquet de la vie, infortuné convive,
       J'apparus un jour et je meurs;
     Je meurs, et sur ma tombe, où lentement j'arrive,
       Nul ne viendra verser des pleurs!

Louis's verses had affected me; I took the pencil from him, and,
withdrawing for an instant to the end of the room, I wrote in my turn
the following verses, which will die with me unknown to all; they were
the first verses that sprung from my heart, and not from my
imagination. I read them out without daring to raise my eyes to her, to
whom they were addressed. They ran thus--

       *       *       *       *       *

but, no! I efface them! My love was all my genius, and they have
departed together.

As I finished reading the verses, I saw on Julie's face, on which the
light of the lamp fell, such a tender expression of surprise and such
superhuman beauty, that I stood uncertain, as my verses had expressed
it, between the woman and the angel,--between love and adoration. This
latter feeling predominated at last in my heart, and in that of my
friend. We fell on our knees before the sofa, and kissed the end of the
black shawl which enveloped her feet. The verses seemed to her merely
an instantaneous and solitary expression of my feelings towards her;
she praised them, but never mentioned them again. She much preferred
our familiar discourse, or even our pensive silence in each other's
company, to these exercises of the mind which profane our feelings
rather than reveal them, Louis left us after a few days.



XXXIII.


In consequence of these first verses of mine, which were but one feeble
strophe of the perpetual hymn of my heart, she requested me to write an
ode for her, which she would address as a tribute of admiration, and as
a specimen of my talents, to one of the men of her Paris acquaintance,
for whom she felt the greatest respect and attachment, M. de Bonald. I
knew nothing of him but his name, and the well-deserved renown that
attached to it as that of a Christian, a philosopher, and a legislator.
I fancied that I was to address a modern Moses, who derived from the
rays of another Mount Sinai the divine light which he shed upon human
laws. I wrote the ode in one night, and read it the next morning,
beneath a spreading chestnut-tree, to her who had inspired it. She made
me read it three times over, and in the evening she copied it with her
light and steady hand. Her writing flew upon the paper like the shadow
of the wings of thought, with the swiftness, elegance, and freedom of a
bird on the wing. The next day she sent it to Paris. M. de Bonald
replied by many obliging auguries respecting my talents. This was the
beginning of my acquaintance with that most excellent man, whose
character I have always admired and loved since, without sharing his
theocratical doctrines. My approval of his creed, of which I knew
nothing, was at that time a concession to my love; at a later period it
would have been an homage rendered to his virtues. M. de Bonald was,
like M. de Maistre, a prophet of the past, one of those men whose ideas
were of bygone days, and to whom we bow with veneration, as we see them
seated on the threshold of futurity; they will not pass onward, but
tarry to listen to the sublime lament of all that dies in the human
mind.



XXXIV.


Autumn was already gone; but the sun shone out now and then between the
clouds and lighted and warmed the mild winter which had succeeded. We
tried to deceive ourselves, and to say that it was still autumn, so
much did we dread to recognize winter, that was to separate us. The
snow sometimes fell in the morning in light flakes on the roses and
everlastings in the garden, like the white down of the swans which we
often saw traversing the air. At noon the snow melted, and then there
were delightful hours on the lake. The last rays of the sun seemed to
be warmer when they played on the waters. The fig-trees which hung from
the rocks exposed to the south, in the sheltered coves, had kept their
wide-spreading leaves; and the reflection of the sun on the rocks
imparted to them the splendid coloring and the warmth of summer
evenings. But these hours glided as swiftly by as the stroke of the
oars which served to take us round the foam-covered rocks that form the
southern border of the lake. The glancing rays of the sun on the
fire-trees; the green moss; the winter birds, more fully feathered and
more familiar than those of summer; the mountain streams, whose white
and frothing waters dashed down the sides of the sloping meadows, and
meeting in some ravine fell with sonorous and splashing murmurs from
the black and shining rocks into the lake; the cadenced sound of the
oar, which seemed to accompany us with its mysterious and plaintive
regrets, like some friendly voice hidden beneath the waters; the
perfect repose we felt in this warm and luminous atmosphere, so near
each other, and separated from the world by an abyss of waters,--gave
us at times so great an enjoyment in the sense of existence, such
fulness of inward joy, such an overflowing of peace and love, that we
might have defied Heaven itself to add to our felicity. But with this
happiness was mixed the consciousness that it was soon to end; each
stroke of the oar resounded in our hearts as one step of the day that
brought us nearer to separation. Who knows whether these trembling
leaves may not to-morrow have fallen in the waters? If this moss on
which we still can sit may not to-morrow be covered with a thick mantle
of snow; if this blue sky, these illumined rocks and sparkling waves,
may not, during the mists of this next night, be enveloped and
confounded in one dim and wintry ocean?

A long sigh would escape our lips at thoughts like these; but we never
communicated them to each other, for fear of arousing misfortune by
naming it. Oh, who, in the course of his life, has not felt some joy
without security and without a morrow; when life seems concentrated in
one short hour which we would wish to make eternal, and which we feel
slipping away minute by minute, while we listen to the pendulum which
counts the seconds, or look at the hand that seems to gallop o'er the
dial, or watch a carriage-wheel, of which each turn abridges distance,
or hearken to the splashing of a prow that distances the waves, and
brings us nearer to the shore where we must descend from the heaven of
our dreams on the bleak and barren strand of harsh reality.



XXXV.


[Illustration: THE LOVERS' COMPACT.]


One sunny evening when our boat lay in a calm and sheltered creek,
formed by the Mont du Chat, and we were delightfully lulled by the
distant sound of a cascade which perpetually murmurs in the grottos
through which it filtrates before losing itself in the abyss of water,
our boatmen landed to draw some nets they had set the day before. We
remained alone in the boat which was moored to the branch of a fig-tree
by a slender rope; the motion of the boat caused the branch to bend and
break without our being aware of it, and we drifted out to the middle
of the bay, nearly three hundred yards from the perpendicular rocks
with which it is surrounded. The waters of the lake in this part were
of that bronzed color and had that molten appearance and look of heavy
immobility which the shade of overhanging cliffs always gives; and the
perpendicular rocks which surrounded it indicated the unfathomable
depth of its waters. I might have taken up the oars and returned to
shore, but we felt a thrill of pleasure at our loneliness and the
absence of any form of living nature. We would have wished to wander
thus on a boundless firmament, instead of on a sea with shores. We no
longer heard the voices of the boatmen who had gone along the Savoy
shore, and were now hidden from our view by some projecting rocks; we
only heard the distant trickling of the cascade, the harmonious sighs
of the pines when some playful breeze swept for an instant through the
still and heavy air, and the low ripple of the water against the sides
of the boat which gently undulated at our slightest movement.

Our boat lay half in shade and half in sunshine,--the head in sunshine,
and the stern in shade. I was sitting at Julie's feet in the bottom of
the boat, as on the first day when I brought her back from Haute-Combe.
We took delight in calling to remembrance every circumstance of that
first day, that mysterious era from which the world commenced for
us,--for that day was the date of our meeting and of our love! She was
half reclining with one arm hanging over the side of the boat, the
other leaned upon my shoulder, and her hand played with a lock of my
long hair; my head was thrown back, so that I could only see the
heavens above and her face, which stood out on the blue background of
the sky. She bent over me, as if to contemplate her sun on my brow, her
light in my eyes; an expression of deep, calm, and ineffable happiness
was diffused over her features, and gave to her beauty a radiance and
splendor which was in harmony with the surrounding glory of the sky.
Suddenly I saw her turn pale and withdraw her arms from the side of the
boat and from my shoulder; she started up as if awaked from sleep,
covered for one instant her face with her two hands, and remained in
deep and silent thought; then withdrawing her hands, which were wet
with tears, she said, in a tone of calm and serene determination, "Oh,
let us die! ..."

After these words she remained silent for an instant, then resumed:
"Yes, let us die, for earth has nothing more to give, and Heaven
nothing more to promise!" She gazed at the sky and mountain, the lake
and its translucid waves around us. "Seest thou," she said (it was the
first and the last time that she ever used that form of speech which is
tender or solemn, according as we address God or man),--"seest thou
that all is ready around us for the blessed close of our two lives?
Seest thou the sun of the brightest of our days which sets, not to rise
for us perhaps to-morrow? Seest thou the mountains glass themselves for
the last time in the lake? They stretch out their long shadows towards
us, as if to say, Wrap yourselves in this shroud which I extend towards
you! See! the deep and clear, the silent waves have prepared for us a
sandy couch from which no man shall wake us and tell us to be gone! No
human eye can see us. None will know from what mysterious cause the
empty bark has been washed ashore upon some rock. No ripple on these
waters will betray to the curious or the indifferent the spot where our
two bodies slid beneath the wave, in one embrace; where our two souls
rose mingled in the surrounding ether; no sound of earth will follow
us, but the slight ripple of the closing wave!... Oh, let us die in
this delight of soul, and feel of death only its entrancing joy. One
day we shall wish to die, and we shall die less happy. I am a few years
older than you, and this difference which is unfelt now will increase
with time. The little beauty which has attracted you will early fade,
and you will only recall with wonder the memory of your departed
enthusiasm. Besides, I am to you but as a spirit; ... you will seek
another happiness; ... I should die of jealousy if you found it with
another, ... and I should die of grief, if I saw you unhappy through
me!... Oh, let us die, let us die! Let us efface the dark or doubtful
future with one last sigh, which will only leave on our lips the
unallayed taste of complete felicity."

At the same moment my heart spoke to me as forcibly as she did, and
said what her voice said to my ear, what her looks said to my eyes,
what solemn, mute, funereal Nature in the splendor of her last hour,
said to all my senses. The two voices that I heard, the inward and the
outer voice, said the same words, as if one had been the echo or
translation of the other. I forgot the universe, and I answered, "Let
us die!"

       *       *       *       *       *

I wound the fisherman's ropes which I found in the boat several times
round her body and mine, which were bound as in the same winding sheet.
I took her up in my arms, which I had left disengaged in order to
precipitate her with me into the lake.

At the very instant that I was taking the spring which would forever
have buried us in the waters, I saw her turn pale, her head drooped,
its lifeless weight sank upon my shoulder, and I felt her knees give
way beneath her body. Excessive emotion and the joy of dying together
had forestalled death. She had fainted in my arms. The idea of taking
advantage of her insensible state to hurry her, unknown to herself, and
perhaps against her will, into my grave, struck me with horror. I fell
back into the boat with my burden; I loosed the ropes that bound us,
and laid her on the seat; I dipped my hands into the lake and sprinkled
the cold drops of water on her lips and forehead. I know not how long
she remained thus without color, voice, or motion. When she first
opened her eyes and regained consciousness, night was coming on, and
the slow drift of the boat had carried us into the middle of the lake.

"God wills it not," I said. "We live; what we thought the privilege of
our love was a double crime. Is there no one to whom we belong on
earth? No one in heaven?" I added looking upwards reverentially, as
though I had seen in the firmament the sovereign Judge and Lord of our
destinies. "Speak no more of it," she said in a low and hurried tone;
"never speak of it again! You have chosen that I should live; I will
live; my crime was not in dying, but in taking you with me!" There was
something of bitterness and tender reproach in her tone and in her
look. "It may be," said I, replying to her thoughts,--"it may be that
heaven itself has no such hours as those we have just passed; but life
has,--that is enough to make me love it." She soon recovered her bloom
and her serenity. I seized the oars, and slowly rowed back to the
little sandy beach, where we heard the voices of the boatmen, who had
lighted a fire beneath a projecting rock. We recrossed the lake, and
returned home silently and thoughtfully.



XXXVI.


In the evening, when I went into her room, I found her seated in tears
before her little table, where several open letters were lying
scattered among the tea things. "We had better have died at once, for
here is the lingering death of separation, which begins for me," she
said, pointing to some letters which bore the postmark of Paris and
Geneva.

Her husband wrote that he began to be very anxious at her long absence
at a season of the year when the weather might become inclement from
day to day; that he felt himself gradually declining and that he wished
to embrace and bless her before he died. His mournful entreaties were
intermingled with many expressions of paternal fondness, and some
sportive allusions to the fair young brother, who made her forget her
other friends. The other letter was from the Genevese doctor, who was
to have come to take her back to Paris. He wrote to say that he was
obliged unexpectedly to leave home to attend a German prince who
required his care, and that he sent in his stead a respectable,
trustworthy man, who would accompany her to Paris and act as her
courier on the road. This man had arrived, and her departure was fixed
for the day after the morrow.

Although this news had been long foreseen, it affected us as though it
had been quite unexpected. We passed a long evening and nearly half the
night in silence, leaning opposite to one another on the little table,
and neither daring to look at each other, or to speak, for fear of
bursting into tears. We strove to interrupt the speechless agony of our
hearts by a few unconnected words, but these were said in a deep and
hollow voice, which resounded in the room like tear-drops on a coffin.
I had instantly determined to go also.



XXXVII.


The next day was the eve of our separation. The morning, as if to mock
us, rose more bright and warm than in the fairest days of October.

While the trunks were being packed, and the carriage got ready, we
started with the mules and guides. We visited both hill and valley, to
say farewell, and to make, as it were, a pilgrimage of love to all the
spots where we had first seen each other, then met and walked; where we
had sat, and talked, and loved, during the long and heavenly
intercourse between ourselves and lonely Nature. We began by the lovely
hill of Tresserves which rises like a verdant cliff between the valley
of Aix and the lake; its sides, that rise almost perpendicularly from
the water's edge, are covered with chestnut-trees, rivalling those of
Sicily, through their branches, which overhang the water, one sees
snatches of the blue lake or of the sky, according as one looks high or
low. It was on the velvet of the moss-covered roots of these noble
trees, which have seen successive generations of young men and women
pass like ants beneath their shade, that we in our contemplative hours
had dreamed our fairest dreams. From thence we descended by a steep
declivity to a small solitary chateau called Bon Port. This little
castle is so embosomed in the chestnut-trees of Tresserves on the land
side, and so well hidden on the water side in the deep windings of a
sheltered bay, that it is difficult to see it either from the mountain
or from the little sea of Bourget. A terrace with a few fig-trees
divides the château from the sandy beach, where the gentle waves
continually come rippling in, to lick the shore and murmuringly expire.
Oh, how we envied the fortunate possessors of this retreat unknown to
men, hidden in the trees and waters, and only visited by the birds of
the lake, the sunshine and the soft south wind. We blessed it a
thousand times in its repose, and prayed that it might shelter hearts
like ours.



XXXVIII.


From Bon Port we proceeded towards the high mountains which overlook
the valley between Chambéry and Geneva, going round by the northern
side of the hill of Tresserves. We saw once more the meadows, the
pastures, the cottages hidden beneath the walnut-trees, and the grassy
slopes, where the young heifers play, their little bell tinkles
continually, to give notice of their wandering march through the grass
to the shepherd, who tends them at a distance. We ascended to the
highest chalets; the winter wind had already scorched the tips of the
grass. We remembered the delightful hours we had spent there, the words
we had spoken, the fond delusion we had entertained of an entire
separation from the world, the sighs we had confided to the mountain
winds and rays to waft them to heaven. We recalled all our hours of
peace and happiness so swiftly flown, all our words, dreams, gestures,
looks and wishes, as one strips a dwelling that one leaves of all that
is most precious. We mentally buried all these treasures of memory and
hope within the walls of these wooden chalets which would remain closed
until the spring, to find them entire on our return, if ever we
returned.



XXXIX.


We came down by the wooded slopes to the foaming bed of a cascade.
There we saw a small funereal monument erected to the memory of a young
and lovely woman, Madame de Broc; she fell some years ago into this
whirl-pool, whose foaming waters gave up a long while after a part of
her white dress, and thus caused her body to be found in the deep
grotto in which it had been ingulfed. Lovers often come and visit this
watery tomb; their hearts feel heavy, and they draw closer to each
other as they think how their fragile felicity may be dashed to atoms
by one false step on the slippery rock.

From this cascade, which bears the name of Madame de Broc, we walked in
silence towards the Château de Saint Innocent, from whence one commands
an extensive view of the whole lake. We got down from our mules beneath
the shade of some lofty oaks, which were interspersed here and there
with a few patches of heath. It was a lonely place at that time, but
since then a rich planter, on his return to his native land, has built
himself a country house, and planted a garden in these, his paternal
acres. Our mules were turned loose, and left to graze in the wood under
the care of the children who acted as our guides. We walked on alone
from tree to tree, from one glade to another on the narrow neck of
land, until we reached the extreme point, where we saw the shining
lake, and heard its splashing waters. This wood of Saint Innocent is a
promontory that stretches out into the lake at the wildest and most
lonely part of its shores; it ends in some rocks of gray granite, which
are sometimes washed by the foam of the wind-tossed waves, but are dry
and shining when the waters subside into repose. We sat down on two
stones close to each other. Before us, the dark pile of the Abbey of
Haute-Combe rose on the opposite shore of the lake. Our eyes were fixed
on a little white speck that seemed to shine at the foot of the gloomy
terraces of the monastery. It was the fisherman's house, where we had
been thrown together by the waves, and united forever by that chance
meeting; it was the room where we had spent that heavenly and yet
funereal night which had decided the fate of both our lives. "It was
there!" she said, stretching out her arm, and pointing to the bright
speck, which was scarcely visible in the distance and darkness of the
opposite shore. "Will there come a day and a place," she added
mournfully, "in which the memory of all we felt there during those
deathless hours will appear to you, in the remoteness of the past, but
as that little speck on the dark background of yonder shore?"

I could not reply to these words; her tone, her doubts, the prospect of
death, inconstancy, and frailty, and the possibility of forgetfulness,
had struck me to the heart, and filled me with sad forebodings. I burst
into tears. I hid my face in my hands, and turned towards the evening
breeze, that it might dry my tears in my eyes; but she had seen them.

"Raphael," she resumed with greater tenderness, "no, you will never
forget me. I know it, I feel it; but love is short, and life is slow.
You will live many years beyond me. You will drain all that is sweet,
or powerful, or bitter in the cup that Nature offers to the lips of
man. You will be a man! I know it by your sensibility, which is at once
manly and feminine. You will be a man to the full extent of all the
wretchedness and dignity of that name by which God has called one of
his strangest creatures! In one of your aspirations there is breath for
a thousand lives! You will live with all the energy and in the full
meaning of the word--life! I ..." she stopped for an instant, and
raised her eyes and arms to Heaven as if in thank fulness: "I--I have
lived!--I have lived enough," she resumed in a contented tone, "since I
have inhaled, to bear it forever within me, the spirit of the soul that
I waited for on earth, and which would vivify me even in death, from
whence you once recalled me.... I shall die young, and without regret
now, for I have drained at a single draught the life that you will not
exhaust before your dark hair has become as white as the spray that
dashes over your feet.

"This sky, this lake, these shores, these mountains, have been the
scene of my only real life here below. Swear to me to blend so
completely in your remembrance this sky, this lake, these shores, these
mountains, with my memory, that their image and mine may henceforward
be inseparable for you; that this landscape in your eyes, and I in your
heart, may make but one ... so that," she added, "when you return after
long days, to see once more this lonely spot, to wander beneath these
trees, on the margin of these waves, to listen to the breeze and
murmuring winds, you may see me once more, as living, as present, and
as loving as I am here!..."

She could say no more and burst into tears. Oh, how we wept! how long
we wept! The sound of our stifled sobs mingled with the sobbing of the
water on the sand. Our tears fell trickling in the water at our feet.
After a lapse of fifteen years, I cannot write it without tears, even
now.

O man! fear not for thy affections, and feel no dread lest time should
efface them. There is neither to-day nor yesterday in the powerful
echoes of memory; there is only always. He who no longer feels has
never felt. There are two memories,--the memory of the senses, which
wears out with the senses, and in which perishable things decay; and
the memory of the soul, for which time does not exist, and which lives
over at the same instant every moment of its past and present
existence; it is a faculty of the soul, which, like the soul, enjoys
ubiquity, universality, and immortality of spirit. Fear not, ye who
love! Time has power over hours, none over the soul.



XL.


I strove to speak, but could not. My sobs spoke, and my tears promised.
We got up to join the muleteers, and returned at sunset by the long
avenue of leafless poplars, where we had passed before, when she held
my hand so long in the palanquin. As we went through the straggling
faubourg of cottages, at the entrance of the town, and crossed the
Place to enter the steep street of Aix, sad faces were seen greeting us
at the windows and at the doors; as kind souls watch the departure of
two belated swallows, who are the last to leave the walls which have
sheltered them. Poor women rose from the stone bench where they were
spinning before their houses; children left the goats and donkeys which
they were driving home; all came to address a word, a look, or even a
silent bow of recognition to the young lady, and the one they supposed
to be her brother. She was so beautiful, so gracious to all, so loved,
it seemed as though the last ray of the year was retiring from the
valley.

When we had reached the top of the town, we got down from our mules and
dismissed the children. As we did not wish to lose an hour of this last
day that still shone on the rose-tinted snows of the Alps, we climbed
slowly, and alone, up a narrow path which leads to the garden terrace
of a house called the Maison Chevalier. From this terrace, which seems
like a platform erected in the centre of a panorama, the eye embraces
the town, the lake, the passes of the Rhône, and all the peaks of the
Alpine landscape. We sat down on the fallen trunk of a tree, and leaned
on the parapet wall of the terrace; we remained mute and motionless,
looking by turns at all the different spots, that for the last six
weeks had witnessed our looks and steps, our twofold dreams, and our
sighs. When all these had one by one faded away in the dim shade of
twilight; when there was only one corner of the horizon, to westward,
where a faint light remained,--we started up with one accord, and fled
precipitately, casting vain and sorrowing looks behind as if some
invisible hand had driven us out of this Eden, and pitilessly effaced
on our steps all the scene of our happiness and love.



XLI.


We returned home and spent a sad evening, although I was to accompany
Julie as far as Lyons on the box of her carriage. When the hand of her
little portable clock marked midnight, I retired, to let her take some
rest before morning. She accompanied me to the door; I opened it, and
said as I kissed her hand in the passage, "Good-bye, till the morrow!"
She did not answer, but I heard her murmur, with a sob, behind the
closing door, "There is no morrow for us!"

There were a few days more, but they were short and bitter, as the last
dregs of a drained cup. We started for Chambery very early in the
morning, not to show our pale cheeks and swollen eyelids in broad
daylight, and passed the day there in a small inn of the Italian
faubourg. The wooden galleries of the inn overlooked a garden with a
stream running through it, and for a few hours we cheated ourselves
into the belief that we were once more in our home at Aix, with its
galleries, its silence, and its solitude.



XLII.


We wished before we left Chambéry and the valley we so much loved to
visit together the humble dwelling of Jean Jacques Rousseau and Madame
de Warens, at Les Charmettes. A landscape is but a man or a woman. What
is Vaucluse without Petrarch? Sorrento without Tasso? What is Sicily
without Theocritus, or the Paraclet without Heloise? What is Annecy
without Madame de Warens? What is Chambéry without Jean Jacques
Rousseau? A sky without rays, a voice without echo, a landscape without
life! Man does not only animate his fellow-men, he animates all nature.
He carries his own immortality with him into heaven, but bequeaths
another to the spots that he has consecrated by his presence; it is
only there we can trace his course, and really converse with his
memory. We took with us the volume of the "Confessions" in which the
poet of Les Charmettes describes this rustic retreat. Rousseau was
wrecked there by the first storms of his fate, and was rescued by a
woman, young, lovely, and adventurous, wrecked and lost like himself.
This woman seems to have been a compound of virtues and weaknesses,
sensibility and license, piety and independence of thought, formed
expressly by Nature to cherish and develop the strange youth, whose
mind comprehended that of a sage, a lover, a philosopher, a legislator,
and a madman. Another woman might perhaps have produced another life.
In a man we can always trace the woman whom he first loved. Happy would
he have been who had met Madame de Warens before her profanation! She
was an idol to be adored, but the idol had been polluted. She herself
debased the worship that a young and loving heart tendered her. The
amours of this woman and Rousseau appear like a leaf torn from the
loves of Daphnis and Chloe, and found soiled and defiled on the bed of
a courtesan. It' matters not; it was the first love, or the first
delirium, if you will, of the young man. The birthplace of that love,
the arbor where Rousseau made his first avowal, the room where he
blushed at his first emotions, the yard where he gloried in the most
humble offices to serve his beloved protectress, the spreading
chestnut-trees beneath which they sat together to speak of God, and
intermingled their sportive theology with bursts of merriment and
childish caresses, the landscape, mysterious and wild as they, which
seems so well adapted to them,--have all, for the lover, the poet, or
the philosopher, a deep and hidden attraction. They yield to it without
knowing why. For poets this was the first page of that life which was a
poem; for philosophers it was the cradle of a revolution; for lovers it
is the birthplace of first love.



XLIII.


We followed the stony path at the bottom of the ravine which leads to
Les Charmettes, still talking of this love. We were alone. The
goat-herds even had forsaken the dried-up pastures and the leafless
hedges. The sun shone now and then between the passing clouds, and its
concentrated rays were warmer within the sheltered sides of the ravine.
The redbreasts hopped about the bushes almost within our reach. Every
now and then we would sit on the southern bank of the road to read a
page or two of the "Confessions," and identify ourselves with the
place.

We fancied we saw the young vagrant in his tattered clothes, knocking
at the gate and delivering, with a blush, his letter of recommendation
to the fair recluse, in the lonely path that leads from the house to
the church. They were so present to our fancy, that it seemed as though
they were expecting us, and that we should see them at the window or in
the garden walks of Les Charmettes. We would walk on, then stop again;
the spot seemed to attract and to repel us by turns, as a place where
love had been revealed, but where love had been profaned also. It
presented no such perils to us. We were destined to carry away our love
from thence as pure and as divine as we had brought it there within us.

"Oh," I inwardly exclaimed, "were I a Rousseau, what might not this
other Madame de Warens have made me; she who is as superior to her of
Les Charmettes as I am inferior to Rousseau, not in feeling, but in
genius."

Absorbed in these thoughts, we walked up a shelving greensward upon
which a few walnut-trees were scattered here and there. These trees had
seen the lovers beneath their shade. To the right, where the pass
narrows so as to appear to form a barrier to the traveller, stands the
house of Madame de Warens on a high terrace of rough and ill-cemented
stones. It is a little square building of gray stone, with two windows
and a door opening on the terrace, and the same on the garden side;
there are three low rooms on the upper story, and a large room on the
ground floor with no other furniture than a portrait of Madame de
Warens in her youth. Her lovely face beams forth from the dust-covered
and dingy canvas with beauty, sportiveness, and pensive grace. Poor
charming woman! Had she not met that wandering boy on the highway; had
she not opened to him her house and heart, his sensitive and suffering
genius might have been extinguished in the mire. The meeting seemed
like the effect of chance, but it was predestination meeting the great
man under the form of his first love. That woman saved him; she
cultivated him; she excited him in solitude, in liberty, and in love,
as the houris of the East through pleasure raise up martyrs in their
young votaries. She gave him his dreamy imagination, his almost
feminine soul, his tender accents, his passion for nature. Her pensive
fancy imparted to him enthusiasm,--the enthusiasm of women, of young
men, of lovers, of all the poor, the oppressed, the unhappy of his day.
She gave him the world, and he proved ungrateful.... She gave him fame,
and he bequeathed opprobrium.... But posterity should be grateful to
them, and forgive a weakness that gave us the prophet of liberty. When
Rousseau wrote those odious pages against his benefactress, he was no
longer Rousseau, he was a poor madman. Who knows if his morbid and
disordered imagination, which made him at that time see an insult in
every benefit and hatred in all friendship, did not show him likewise
the courtesan in the loving woman, and wantonness instead of love? I
have always suspected it. I defy any rational man to recompose, with a
semblance of probability, the character Rousseau gives to the woman he
loved, from the contradictory elements which he describes in her. Those
elements exclude each other: if she had soul enough to adore Rousseau,
she did not at the same time love Claude Anet; if she grieved for
Claude Anet and Rousseau, she did not love the young hair-dresser. If
she was pious she did not glory in her weakness, but must have deplored
it; if engaging, handsome, and frail, as Rousseau depicts her, she
could not be reduced to look for admirers among the vagrants of the
streets, or on the highways. If she affected devotion with such a life,
she was a calculating hypocrite; and if a hypocrite, she was not the
frank, open, and unreserved creature of the "Confessions." The likeness
cannot be true; it is a fancy head and a fancy heart. There is some
hidden mystery here, which must be attributed rather to the misguided
hand of the artist than to the nature of the woman whom he wished to
represent. We must neither accuse the painter whose discernment was at
that time impaired, nor believe in the portrait which has disfigured
the sketch he at first made of an adorable creature.

For my part I never could believe that Madame de Warens would have
recognized herself in the questionable pages of Rousseau's old age. In
my fancy, I have always restored her to what she was, or what she
appeared at Annecy to the young poet,--lovely, feeling, tender, frail
though really pious, prodigal of kindness, thirsting after love, and
desirous of blending the tender names of mother and of mistress in her
affection for the youth that Providence had confided to her, and whom
her love had adopted. This is the true portrait, such as the old men of
Chambéry and Annecy have told me that their fathers had transmitted to
them. Rousseau's mind itself bears witness against his own accusations.
Whence would he have derived his sublime and tender piety, his feminine
melancholy, his exquisite and delicate touches of feeling, if a woman
had not bestowed them with her heart. No, the woman who called into
existence such a man was not a cynical courtesan, but rather a fallen
Héloise--an Héloise fallen by love and not by vice or depravity. I
appeal from Rousseau the morose old man, calumniating human nature, to
Rousseau, the young and ardent lover; and when I go, as I often do, to
muse at Les Charmettes, I seek a Madame de Warens far more touching and
attractive in my imagination than in his.



XLIV.


A poor woman made us some fire in Madame de Warens' room; accustomed to
the visit of strangers, and to their long conversations on the scene of
the early days of a celebrated man, she attended to her usual work in
the kitchen and in the yard, and left us at liberty to warm ourselves,
or to saunter backwards and forwards from the house to the garden. This
little sunny garden, surrounded by a wall which separated it from the
vineyards, and overrun with nettles, mallows, and weeds of all kinds,
resembled one of those village churchyards where the peasants assemble
to bask in the rays of the sun, leaning against the church-walls, with
their feet on the graves of the dead. The walks, so neatly gravelled
once, were now covered with damp earth and yellow moss, and showed the
neglect that had followed on absence. How we would have wished to
discover the print of the footsteps of Madame de Warens, when she used
to go, basket in hand, from tree to tree, from vine to vine, gathering
the pears of the orchard or the grapes of the vineyard, and indulging
in merry frolic with, the pupil or the confessor. But there is no trace
of them in their house, save their memory. That is enough; their name,
their remembrance, their image, the sun they saw, the air they
breathed, which seems still beaming with their youth, warm with their
breath, and filled with their voices, give one back the light, the
dreams, the sounds, which shed enchantment round their spring of life.

I saw by Julie's pensive countenance, and her silent thoughtfulness,
that the sight of this sanctuary of love and genius impressed her as
deeply as myself. At times she shunned me, and remained wrapped in her
own thoughts as if she feared to communicate them; she would go into
the house to warm herself when I was in the garden, and return to sit
on the stone bench in the arbor when I joined her at the fireside. At
length I went to her in the arbor; the last yellow leaves hung loosely
from the vine, and allowed the sun to penetrate and envelop her with
its rays.

"What is it you wish to think of without me?" I said in a tone of
tender reproach. "Do I ever think alone?" "Alas!" she answered, "you
will not believe me, but I was thinking, that I could wish to be Madame
de Warens for you, during one single season, even though I were to be
forsaken for the remainder of my days, and though shame were to attach
to my memory like hers; even though you proved yourself as ungrateful
and calumniating as Rousseau!.... How happy she was," she continued,
gazing up at the sky as though she sought the image of the strange
creature she envied,--"how happy she was! she sacrificed herself for
him she loved."

"What ingratitude and what profanation of yourself and of our
happiness!" I answered, walking slowly back with her towards the house,
upon the dry leaves, that rustled beneath our feet.

"Have I then ever, by a single word, or look, or by a single sigh,
shown that aught was wanting to my bitter but complete felicity? Cannot
you, in your angelic fancy, imagine for another Rousseau (if Nature
could have produced two) another Madame de Warens?--a Madame de Warens,
young and pure, angel, lover, sister, all at once, bestowing her whole
soul, her immaculate and immortal soul, instead of her perishable
charms; bestowing it on a brother who was lost and is found, who was
young, misled, and wandering too in this world, like the son of the
watch-maker; throwing open to that brother, instead of her house and
garden, the bright treasures of her affection, purifying him in her
rays, cleansing him from his first pollutions by her tears, deterring
him forever from any grosser pleasure than that of inward possession
and contemplation, teaching him to value his very privations far above
the sensual enjoyment that man shares with brutes, pointing out to him
his course through life, inciting him to glory and to virtue, and
rewarding his sacrifices by this one thought,--that fame, virtue, and
sacrifices were all taken into account in the heart of his beloved, all
accumulate in her love, are multiplied by her gratitude, and are added
to that treasure of tenderness which is ever increasing here below, to
be expended only in heaven?"



XLV.


Nevertheless, as I spoke thus, I fell quite overcome, with my face
hidden in my hands, on a chair that was near the wall far from hers. I
remained there without speaking a word. "Let us begone," she said; "I
am cold; this place is not good for us!" We gave some money to the good
woman, and we returned slowly to Chambéry.

The next day Julie was to start for Lyons. In the evening Louis came to
see us at the inn, and I induced him to go with me to spend a few weeks
at my father's house, which was situated on the road from Paris to
Lyons. We then went out together to inquire at the coachmaker's in
Chambéry for a light calèche, in which we could follow Julie's carriage
as far as the town where we were to separate. We soon found what we
sought.

Before daylight we were off, travelling in silence through the winding
defiles of Savoy, which at Pont-de-Beauvoisin open into the monotonous
and stony plains of Dauphiny. At every stage we got down and went to
the first carriage to inquire about the poor invalid. Alas! every turn
of the carriage-wheel which took her further from that spring of life
which she had found in Savoy seemed to rob her of her bloom, and to
bring back the look of languor and the slow fever which had struck me
as being the beauty of death the first time I saw her. As the time for
our leaving her drew near, she was visibly oppressed with grief.
Between La-Tour-du-Pin and Lyons, we got into her carriage for a few
leagues to try and cheer her. I begged her to sing the ballad of Auld
Robin Gray for my friend; she did so, to please me, but at the second
verse, which relates the parting of the two lovers the analogy between
our situation and the hopeless sadness of the ballad, as she sung it,
struck her so forcibly that she burst into tears. She took up a black
shawl that she wore that day, and threw it as a veil over her face, and
I saw her sobbing a long while beneath the shawl. At the last stage she
fell into a fainting fit, which lasted till we reached the hotel where
we were to get down at Lyons. With the assistance of her maid, we
carried her upstairs, and laid her on her bed. In the evening she
rallied, and the next day we pursued our journey towards Macon.



XLVI.


It was there we were to separate definitively. We gave our directions
to her courier, and hurried over the adieux for fear of increasing her
illness by prolonging such painful emotions, as one who with an
unflinching hand hastily bares a wound to spare the sufferer. My friend
left for my father's country house, whither I was to follow the next
day.

Louis was no sooner gone than I felt quite unable to keep my word. I
could not rest under the idea of leaving Julie in tears, to prosecute
her long winter journey with only the care of servants, and the thought
that she might fall ill in some lonely inn, and die while calling for
me in vain, was unbearable. I had no money left; a good old man who had
once lent me twenty-five louis had died during my absence. I took my
watch, a gold chain that one of my mother's friends had given me three
years before, some trinkets, my epaulets, my sword, and the gold lace
off my uniform, wrapped them all in my cloak, and went to my mother's
jeweller, who gave me thirty-five louis for the whole. From thence, I
hurried to the inn where Julie slept, and called her courier; I told
him I should follow the carriage at a distance to the gates of Paris,
but that I did not wish his mistress to know it, for fear she should
object to it, out of consideration to me. I inquired the names of the
towns and the hotels where he intended to stay on the road, in order
that I might stop in the same towns, but stay at other hotels. I
rewarded him by anticipation and liberally for his secrecy, then ran to
the post house, ordered horses, and set off half an hour after the
departure of the carriage I wished to follow.



XLVII.


[Illustration: _RAPHAEL SEES JULIE IN PARIS_.]


No unforeseen obstacles counteracted the mysterious watchfulness which
I exercised, though still invisible. The courier gave notice secretly
to the postilions of the approach of another calèche, and, as he
ordered horses for me, I always found the relays ready. I accelerated
or slackened my speed according as I wished to keep at a distance, or
to come nearer to the first carriage, and always questioned the
postilions respecting the health of the young lady they had just
driven. From the top of the hills I could see, far down in the plain,
the carriage speeding through fog or sunshine, and bearing away my
happiness. My thoughts outstripped the horses; in fancy I entered the
carriage and saw Julie asleep, dreaming perhaps of me, or awake, and
weeping over our bright days forever flown. When I closed my eyes, to
see her better, I fancied I heard her breathe. I can scarcely now
comprehend that I had strength of mind and self-denial enough to resist
during a journey of one hundred and twenty leagues the impulse that
unceasingly impelled me towards that carriage which I followed without
attempting to overtake; my whole soul went with it, and my body alone,
insensible to the snow and sleet, followed, and was jolted, tossed and
swung about, without the least consciousness of its own sufferings. But
the fear of causing Julie an unexpected shock which might prove fatal
or of renewing a heartrending scene of separation, repelled me, and the
idea of watching over her safety like a loving Providence, and with
angel-like disinterestedness, nailed me to my resolution.

The first time, she got down at the great Hotel of Autun, and I, in a
little inn of the faubourg close by. Before daylight the two carriages,
within sight of each other, were once more running along the white and
winding road, through the gray plains and druidical oak forests of
Upper Burgundy. We stopped in the little town of Avalon,--she in the
centre, and I at the extremity of the town. The next day we were
rolling on towards Sens. The snow which the north wind had accumulated
on the barren heights of Lucy-le-Bois and of Vermanton, fell in
half-melted flakes on the road, and smothered the sound of the wheels.
One could scarcely distinguish the misty horizon at the distance of a
few feet, through the whirling cloud of snow that the wind drifted from
the adjoining fields. It was no longer possible, by sight or sound, to
judge of the distance between the two carriages. Suddenly I perceived
in front, almost touching my horses' heads, Julie's carriage, which was
drawn up in the middle of the road. The courier had alighted, and was
standing on the steps calling out for help and making signs of
distress. I leaped out and flew to the carriage, by a first impulse
stronger than prudence; I jumped inside, and saw the maid striving to
recall her mistress from a fainting fit brought on by the weather and
fatigue, and perhaps by the storms of the heart. The courier ran to
fetch warm water from the distant cottages, and the maid rubbed her
mistress's cold feet in her hands, or pressed them to her bosom to warm
them. Oh, what I felt, as I held that adored form in my arms during one
long hour of insensibility, desiring that she should hear, and dreading
lest she should recognize, my voice, which recalled her to life, none
can conceive or describe, unless they, too, have felt life and death
thus struggling in their hearts.

At last our tender care, the application of the hot-water bottles which
had been brought by the courier, and the warmth of my hands on hers,
recalled heat to the extremities. The color which began to appear in
her cheeks, and a long and feeble sigh which escaped her lips,
indicated her return to life. I jumped out on the road, so that she
might not see me when she opened her eyes, and remained there, behind
the carriage, my face muffled up in my cloak. I desired the servants to
make no mention of my sudden appearance. They soon made a sign to me
that she was recovering consciousness, and I heard her voice stammer
forth these words, as if in a dream: "Oh, if Raphael were here! I
thought it was Raphael!" I hastily returned to my own carriage; the
horses started afresh, and a wide distance soon lay between us. In the
evening I went to inquire after her at the inn where she had alighted
at Sens. I was told that she was quite well, and was sleeping soundly.

I followed in her track as far as Fossard, a stage near the little town
of Montereau; there the road from Sens to Paris branches off in two
directions,--one branch passing through Fontainebleau, the other
through Melun. This latter being shorter by several leagues, I followed
it in order to precede Julie by a few hours in Paris, and see her get
down at her own door. I paid the postilions double, and arrived long
before dark at the hotel where I was accustomed to put up in Paris. At
nightfall I stationed myself on the quay opposite to Julie's house,
that she had so often described to me; I knew it as if I had lived
there all my life. I observed through the windows that hurrying to and
fro of shadows within, which one sees in a house where some new guest
is expected. I could see on the ceiling of her room the reflection of
the fire which had been lighted on the hearth. An old man's face showed
itself several times at the window, and appeared to watch and listen to
the noises of the quay. It was her husband,--her second father. The
concierge held the door open, and stepped out from time to time, to
watch and listen likewise. Now and then a pale and rapid gleam of light
from the street lamp, which swung backwards and forwards with the gusty
wind of December, shot athwart the pavement before the house, and then
left it in darkness. At last a travelling carriage swept around the
corner of one of the streets which lead to the quay, and stopped before
the house. I darted forward and half-concealed myself in the shade of a
column at the next door to that at which the carriage stopped. I saw
the servants rush to the door. I saw Julie alight, and saw the old man
embrace her, as a father embraces his child after a long absence; he
then walked heavily upstairs, leaning on the arm of the concierge. The
carriage was unpacked, the postilion drove it round to another street
to put it up, the door was closed. I returned to my post near the
parapet on the river side.



XLVIII.


I stood a long while contemplating from thence the lighted windows of
Julie's house, and sought to discover what was going on inside. I saw
the usual stir of an arrival, busy people carrying trunks, unpacking
parcels, and setting all things in order; when this bustle had a little
subsided, when the lights no longer ran backwards and forwards from
room to room, and that the old man's room alone was lighted by the pale
rays of a night lamp, I could distinguish, through the closed windows
of the _entresol_ beneath, the motionless shadow of Julie's tall and
drooping form on the white curtains. She remained some time in the same
attitude; then I saw her open the window spite of the cold, look
towards the Seine in my direction, as if her eye had rested upon me
from some preternatural revelation of love, then turn towards the
north, and gaze at a star that we used to contemplate together, and
which we had both agreed to look at in absence, as a meeting-place for
our souls in the inaccessible solitude of the firmament. I felt that
look fall on my heart like living coals of fire. I knew that our hearts
were united in one thought and my resolution vanished. I darted forward
to rush across the quay, to go beneath her windows, and say one word
that might make her recognize her brother at her feet. At the same
instant she closed her window. The rolling of carriages covered the
sound of my voice; the light was extinguished at the _entresol_, and I
remained motionless on the quay. The clock of a neighboring edifice
struck slowly twelve; I approached the door, and kissed it convulsively
without daring to knock. I knelt on the threshold, and prayed to the
stones to preserve to me the supreme treasure which I had brought back
to confide to these walls, and then slowly withdrew.



XLIX.


I left Paris the next day without having seen a single one of the
friends I had there. I inwardly rejoiced at not having bestowed one
look, one word, or a single step on any one but her. The rest of the
world no longer existed for me. Before I left, however, I put into the
post a note dated Paris, and addressed to Julie, which she would
receive on waking. The note only contained these words: "I have
followed you, I have watched over you though invisible. I would not
leave you without knowing that you were under the care of those who
love you. Last night, at midnight, when you opened the window, and
looked at the star, and sighed, I was there! You might have heard my
voice. When you read these lines I shall be far away!"



L.


I travelled day and night in such complete dizziness of thought that I
felt neither cold, hunger nor distance, and arrived at M---- as if
awaking from a dream, and scarcely remembered that I had been to Paris.
I found my friend Louis awaiting me at my father's house in the
country. His presence was soothing to me; I could at least speak to him
of her whom he admired as much as I did. We slept in the same room, and
part of our nights were spent in talking of the heavenly vision, by
which he had been as dazzled as myself. He considered her as one of
those delusions of fancy, one of those women above mortal height, like
Tasso's Eleanora, Dante's Beatrice, Petrarch's Laura, or Vittoria
Colonna, the lover, the poet, and the heroine at once,--forms that flit
across the earth, scarcely touching it, and without tarrying, only to
fascinate the eyes of some men, the privileged few of love, to lead on
their souls to immortal aspirations, and to be the _sursum corda_ of
superior imaginations. As to Louis, he dared not raise his love as high
as his enthusiasm. His sensitive and tender heart, which had been early
wounded, was at that time filled with the image of a poor and pious
orphan, one of his own family. His happiness would have been to have
married her, and to live in obscurity and peace in a cottage among the
hills of Chambéry. Want of fortune restricted the two poor lovers to a
hopeless and tender friendship, from the fear of lowering the name of
their family in poverty, or of bequeathing indigence to children. The
young girl died some years after, of solitude and hopelessness. I have
never seen a sweeter face droop and die for the want of a few of
fortune's rays. Her countenance, where might be traced the remains of
blooming youth, equally ready to revive or to fade forever, bore in the
highest degree the sublime and touching impress of that virtue of the
unhappy, called resignation. She became blind in consequence of the
secret tears she shed during her long years of expectation and
uncertainty. I met her once, on my return from one of my journeys to
Italy. She was led by the hand through the streets of Chambéry, by one
of her little sisters. When she heard my voice, she turned pale, and
felt for some support with her poor hesitating hand: "Pardon me," she
said; "but when I used formerly to hear that voice, I always heard with
it another." Poor girl! she now listens to her lover's voice in heaven.



LI.


How long were the two months that I had to pass away from Julie in my
father's house, before the time came that I could join her in Paris!
During the last three or four months, I had exhausted the allowance I
received from my father, the secret resources of my mother's
indulgence, and the purse of my friends, to pay the debts that
dissipation, play, and my travels had made me contract. I had no means
of obtaining the small sum I required to go to Paris, and to live there
even in seclusion and penury, and was obliged to wait till the month of
January, when my quarter's allowance from my father became due. At that
time of the year, too, I was in the habit of receiving some little
presents from a rich but severe old uncle, and from some good and
prudent old aunts. By means of all these resources, I hoped to collect
a sum of six or eight hundred francs, which would be sufficient to keep
me in Paris for a few months. Privations would be no trial to my
vanity, for my life consisted only in my love. All the riches of this
world could, in my eyes, only have served to purchase for me the
portion of the day that I was to pass with her.

The weary days of expectation were filled with thoughts of her. We
devoted to each other every hour of our time. In the morning, on
waking, she retired to her room to write to me, and at the same instant
I, too, was writing to her; our pages and our thoughts crossed on the
road by every post, questioning, answering, and mingling without a
day's interruption. There were thus in reality for us only a few hours'
absence; in the evening and at night. But even these I consecrated to
her: I was surrounded with her letters,--they lay open upon the table,
my bed was strewn with them; I learned them by heart. I often repeated
to myself the most affecting and impassioned passages, adding in fancy
her voice, her gesture, her tone, her look; I would answer her, and
thus succeed in producing such a complete delusion of her real
presence, that I felt impatient and annoyed when I was summoned to
meals, or interrupted by visitors; at these times it seemed as though
she were torn from me, or driven away from my room. In my long rambles
on the mountains, or in those misty plains without an horizon which
border the Saône, I always took her last letter with me, and would sit
on the rocks, or on the edge of the water, amid the ice and snow, to
read it over and over again. Each time I fancied I discovered some word
or expression that had escaped my notice before. I remember that I
always instinctively directed my course towards the north, as if each
step I took in the direction of Paris brought me nearer to her, and
diminished the cruel distance that separated us. Sometimes I went very
far on the Paris road under this impression, and when it was time to
return, I had always a severe struggle with myself. I felt sorrowful,
and would often look back towards that point of the horizon where she
dwelt, and walk slowly and heavily home. Oh, how I envied the
snow-laden wings of the crows that flew northward through the mist!
What a pang I felt as I saw the carriages rolling towards Paris! How
many of my useless days of youth would I not have given to be in the
place of one of those listless old men who glanced unconcernedly
through their carriage windows at the solitary youth by the wayside,
whose steps travelled in the contrary direction to his heart. Oh, how
interminably long did the short days of December and January appear!
There was one bright hour for me, among all my hours,--it was when I
heard from my room the step, the voice, and the rattle of the postman,
who was distributing the letters in the neighborhood. As soon as I
heard him I opened my window; I saw him coming up the street, with his
hands full of letters, which he distributed to all the maid-servants,
and waited at each door till he received the postage. How I cursed the
slowness of the good women, who seemed never to have done reckoning the
change into his hand! Before the postman rang at my fathers door I had
already flown downstairs, crossed the vestibule, and stood panting at
the door. While the old man fumbled among his letters, I strove to
discover the envelope of fine post paper, and the pretty English
handwriting that distinguished my treasure among all the coarse papers
and clumsy superscriptions of commercial or vulgar letters. I seized it
with a trembling hand; my eyes swam, my heart beat, and my legs refused
their office. I hid the letter in my bosom for fear of meeting some one
on the stairs; and lest so frequent a correspondence should appear
suspicious to my mother, I would run into my room and bolt my door, so
as to devour the pages at leisure, without fear of interruption. How
many tears and kisses I impressed on the paper! Alas, when many years
afterwards I opened the volume of these letters, how many words effaced
by my lips, and that my tears or my transports had washed or torn out,
were wanting to the sense of many sentences!



LII.


After breakfast I used to retire to my upper room, to read my letter
over again and to answer it. These were the most feverish and
delightful hours in the day. I would take four sheets of the largest
and thinnest paper that Julie had sent me on purpose from Paris, and
whose every page, commencing very high up, ending very low down,
crossed, and written on the margin, contained thousands of words. These
sheets I covered every morning, and found them too scanty and too soon
filled for the passionate and tumultuous overflow of my thoughts. In
these letters there was no beginning, no middle, no end, and no
grammar; nothing, in short, of what is generally understood by the word
style. It was my soul laid bare before another soul expressing, or
rather stammering forth, as well as it could, the conflicting emotions
that filled it, with the help of the inadequate language of men. But
such language was not made to express unutterable things; its imperfect
signs and empty terms, its hollow speeches and its icy words, were
melted, like refractory ore, by the concentrated fire of our souls, and
cast into an indescribable language, vague, ethereal, flaming and
caressing, like the licking tongues of fire that had no meaning for
others, but which we alone understood, as it was part of ourselves.
These effusions of my heart never ended and never slackened. If the
firmament had been a single page, and God had bid me fill it with my
love, it could not have contained one-half of what spoke within me! I
never stopped till the four sheets were filled; yet I always seemed to
have said nothing, and in truth I had said nothing,--for who could ever
tell what is infinite?



LIII.


These letters, which were without any pitiful pretensions to talent on
my part, and were a delight and not a labor, might have been of
marvellous service to me at a later period, if fate had destined me to
address my fellow men, or to depict the shades, the transports, or the
pains of passion, in works of imagination. Unknown to myself, I
struggled desperately as Jacob wrestled with the angel, against the
poorness, the rigidity, and the resistance of the language I was forced
to use, as I knew not the language of the skies. The efforts that I
made to conquer, bend, smooth, extend, spiritualize, color, inflame, or
moderate expressions; the wish to render by words the nicest shades of
feeling the most ethereal aspirations of thought, the most irresistible
impulses, and the most chaste reserve of passion; to express looks,
attitudes, sighs, silence, and even the annihilation of the heart
adoring the invisible object of its love,--all these efforts, I repeat,
which seemed to bend my pen beneath my fingers like a rebellious
instrument, made me sometimes find the very word, expression, or cry
that I required to give a voice to the unutterable. I had used no
language, but I had cried forth the cry of my soul; and I was heard.
When I rose from my chair, after this desperate but delightful struggle
against words, pen, and paper, I remembered that, spite of the winter
cold in my room, the perspiration stood upon my forehead, and I used to
open the window to cool my fevered brow.



LIV.


My letters were not only a cry of love, they were more frequently full
of invocations, contemplation, dreams of the future, prospects of
heaven, consolations, and prayers.

My love, which by its nature was debarred from all those enjoyments
which relax the heart by satisfying the senses, had opened afresh
within me all the springs of piety that had been dried up or polluted
by vile pleasures. I felt in my heart all the purity and elevation of
divine love. I strove to bear away with me to heaven, on the wings of
my excited and almost mystical imagination, that other suffering and
discouraged soul. I spoke of God, who alone was perfect enough to have
created her superhuman perfection of beauty, genius, and tenderness;
great enough to contain our boundless aspirations; infinite and
inexhaustible enough to absorb and whelm in himself the love he had
lighted in us, so that his flame, in consuming us one by the other,
might make us both exhale ourselves in him. I comforted Julie under the
sacrifice that necessity obliged us to make of complete happiness here
below; I pointed out to her the merit of this self-denial of an instant
in the eyes of the Eternal Remunerator of our actions. I blessed the
mournful and sublime purity of such sacrifices, since they would one
day obtain for us a more immaterial and angelic union in the eternal
atmosphere of pure spirits. I went so far as to speak of myself as
happy in my abnegation, and to sing the hymns of the martyrdom of love
to which we were by love, by greater love, condemned. I entreated Julie
not to think of my grief and not to give way to sorrow herself. I
showed a courage and a contempt for terrestrial happiness that I
possessed, alas! very often only in words. I offered up to her, as a
holocaust, all that was human in me. I elevated myself to the
immateriality of angels, so that she might not suspect a suffering or a
desire in my adoration. I besought her to seek in a tender and
sustaining religion, in the shelter of the church, in the mysterious
faith of Christ, the God of tears, in kneeling and in invocation,--the
hopes, the consolations, and the delights that I had tasted in my
childhood. She had renewed in me all my early feelings of piety. I
composed prayers for her,--calm, yet ardent prayers, that ascend like
flames to Heaven, but like flames that no wind can cause to vacillate.
I begged her to pronounce these prayers at certain hours of the day and
night, when I would repeat them also, so that our two minds, united by
the same words, might be elevated at the same hour in one
invocation.... All these were wet with my tears, that left their traces
on my words, and were doubtless more powerful and more eloquent than
they. I used to go and throw into the post by stealth these letters,
the very marrow of my bones; and felt relieved on my return, as if I
had thrown off a part of the weight of my own heart.



LV.


Spite of my continual efforts and of the perpetual application of my
young and ardent imagination to communicate to my letters the fire that
consumed me, to create a language for my sighs, to pour my burning soul
upon the paper and make it overleap the distance that divided us,--in
this combat against the impotence of words, I was always surpassed by
Julie. Her letters had more expression in one phrase than mine in their
eight pages,--her heart breathed in the words; one saw her looks in the
lines; the expressions seemed still warm from her lips. In her, nothing
evaporated during that slow and dull transition of the feeling to the
word which lets the lava of the heart cool and pale beneath the pen of
man. Woman has no style, that is why all she says is so well said.
Style is a garment, but the unveiled soul stands forth upon the lips or
beneath the hand of woman. Like the Venus of speech, it rises from the
depths of feeling in its naked beauty, wakes of itself to life, wonders
at its own existence, and is adored ere it knows that it has spoken.



LVI.


What letters and what ardor! What tones and accents! What fire and
purity combined, like light and transparency in a diamond, like passion
and bashfulness on the brow of the young girl who loves! What powerful
simplicity! What inexhaustible effusions! What sudden revivals in the
midst of languor! What sounds and songs! Then there would be sadness,
recurring like the unexpected notes at the end of an air; caressing
words, which seemed to fan the brow like the breath of a fond mother
bending over her smiling child; a voluptuous lulling of half-whispered
words, and hushed and dreamy sentences, which wrapped one in rays and
murmurs, stillness and perfume, and led one gently by the soft and
soothing syllables to the repose of love, the still sleep of the soul,
unto the kiss upon the page which said farewell! The farewell and the
kiss both silently received, as the lips silently impressed them. I
have seen those letters all again; I have read over, page by page, this
correspondence, bound up and classed, after death, by the pious hand of
friendship; one letter answering the other from the first note down to
the last word written by the death-struck hand, to which love still
imparted strength. I have read them o'er, and burned them with tears,
in secret, as if I committed a crime, and snatching twenty times the
half-consumed page from the flames to read it once again. Why did I
thus destroy? Because their very ashes would have been too burning for
this world, and I have scattered them to the winds of heaven.



LVII.


At length the day came when I could reckon the hours that still
separated me from Julie. All the resources that I could command did not
amount to a sufficient sum to keep me three or four months in Paris. My
mother, who noticed my distress without guessing its cause, drew from
the casket which her fondness had already nearly emptied a large
diamond, mounted as a ring. Alas, it was the last remaining jewel of
her youth! She slipped it secretly into my hand, with tears. "I suffer
as much as you can, Raphael," she said with a mournful look, "to see
your unprofitable youth wasted in the idleness of a small town, or in
the reveries of a country life. I had always hoped that the gifts of
God, that from your infancy I rejoiced to see in you, would attract the
notice of the world, and open to you a career of fortune and honor. The
poverty against which we have to struggle does not allow us to bring
you forward. Hitherto such has been the will of God, and we must submit
with resignation to his ways, which are always the best. Yet it is with
grief I see you sinking into that moral languor which always follows
fruitless endeavors. Let us try Fate once more. Go, since the earth
here seems to burn beneath your feet,--go and live for awhile in Paris.
Call, with reserve and dignity, on those old friends of your family who
are now in power. Show the talents with which Nature and study have
endowed you. It is impossible that those at the head of the Government
should not strive to attract young men able, as you would be, to serve,
support, and adorn the reign of the princes whom God has restored to
us. Your poor father has much to do to bring up his six children, and
not to fall below his rank in the distresses of our rustic life. Your
other relations are good and kind, but they will not understand that
breathing-space and action are necessary to the devouring activity of
the mind at twenty. Here is my last jewel; I had promised my mother
never to part with it save from dire necessity. Take it, and sell it;
it will serve to maintain you in Paris a few weeks longer. It is the
last token of my love, which I stake for you in the lottery of
Providence. It must bring you good luck; for my solicitude, my prayers,
my tenderness for you go with it." I took the ring, and kissed my
mother's hand; a tear fell upon the diamond. Alas, it served not to
allow me to seek or to await the favor of great men or princes who
turned away from my obscurity, but to live three months of that divine
life of the heart worth centuries of greatness. This sacred diamond was
to me as Cleopatra's pearl dissolved in my cup of life, from which I
drank happiness and love for a short time.



LVIII.


I completely altered my habits from that day, from respect for my poor
mother's repeated sacrifices, and the concentration of all my thoughts
in this one desire,--to see once more my love, and to prolong, as much
as possible, by the strictest economy, the allotted time I was to spend
with Julie. I became as calculating and as sparing of the little gold I
took with me as an old miser. It seemed as though the most trifling sum
I spent was an hour of my happiness, or a drop of my felicity that I
wasted. I resolved to live like Jean Jacques Rousseau, on little or
nothing, and to retrench from my vanity, my dress, or my food, all that
I wished to bestow on the rapture of my soul. I was not, however,
without an undefined hope of making some use of my talents in the cause
of my love. These were as yet made known to a few friends only by some
verses; but in the last three months I had written during my sleepless
nights a little volume of poetry, amatory, melancholy, or pious,
according as my imagination spoke to me in tender or in serious notes.
The whole had been copied out with care in my best handwriting, and
shown to my father, who was an excellent critic, though somewhat
severe; a few friends, too, had favorably judged some fragments. I had
bound up my poetical treasure in green, a color of good omen for my
hopes of fame; but I had not shown it to my mother, whose chaste and
pious purity of mind might have taken alarm at the more antique than
Christian voluptuousness of some of my elegies. I hoped that the simple
grace and the winged enthusiasm of my poetry might please some
intelligent publisher, who would buy my volume, or at least consent to
print it at his own expense; and that the public taste, attracted by
the novelty of a style springing from the heart, and nursed in the
woods, would, perhaps, confer on me a humble fortune and a name.



LIX.


I had no need to look for a lodging in Paris. One of my friends, the
young Count de V----, who had just returned from his travels, was to
spend the winter and the following spring there, and had offered to
share with me a little _entresol_ that he occupied, over the rooms of
the concierge in the magnificent hotel (since pulled down) of the
Maréchal de Richelieu, in the Rue Neuve St. Augustin. The Count de
V----, with whom I was in almost daily correspondence, knew all. I had
given him a letter of introduction to Julie, that he might know the
soul of my soul, and that he might understand, if not my delirium, at
least my adoration for that woman. At first sight, he comprehended and
almost shared my enthusiasm. In his letters, he always alluded, with
tender pity and respect, to that fair vision of melancholy, which
seemed hovering between life and death, and only detained on earth, he
said, by the ineffable love she bore to me. He always spoke to me of
her as of a heavenly gift, sent to my eyes and heart, and which would
raise me above human nature as long as I remained enveloped in her
radiance. V----, who was persuaded of the holy and superhuman nature of
our attachment, considered it as a virtue, and felt no repugnance to
being the mediator and confidant of our love. Julie, on her part, spoke
of V---- as the only friend she considered worthy of me, and for whom
she would have wished to increase my friendship, instead of detracting
from it by a mean jealousy of the heart. Both urged me to come to
Paris, but V----, alone, knew the secret motives, and the strictly
material impossibility, which had detained me till then. Spite of his
devoted friendship, of which he gave me, until his death, so many
proofs during the troubles of my life, it was not in his power at that
time to remove the obstacles that arrested me. His mother had exhausted
her means to give him an education befitting his rank, and to allow him
to travel through Europe. He was himself deep in debt, and could only
offer me a corner in the apartment that his family provided for him. As
to all the rest, he was, at that time of his life, as poor and as much
enslaved as myself by the want so cruelly defined by Horace--_Res
angustæ domi_.

I left M---- in a little one-horse jaunting car, consisting of a wooden
seat on an axle-tree, and four poles which supported a tarpaulin to
shelter us against the rain. These cars changed horses every four or
five miles, and served to convey to Paris the masons from the
Bourbonnais and from Auvergne, the weary pedestrians they met on the
road, and soldiers lamed by their long marches who were glad to spare a
day's fatigue for a few sous. I felt no shame or annoyance at this
vulgar mode of conveyance; I would have travelled barefooted through
the snow, and not have felt less proud or less happy, for I was thus
saving one or two louis with which I could purchase some days of
happiness. I reached the barrier of Paris without having felt a pebble
of the road. The night was dark, and it was raining hard; I took up my
portmanteau, and soon after knocked at the door of the humble lodging
of the Count de V----.

He was waiting for me; he embraced me, and spoke of her. I was never
wearied of questioning and listening to him. That same evening I was to
see Julie. V---- was to announce my arrival, and prepare her for joy.
When every visitor had retired from Julie's drawing-room, V---- was to
leave last of all to join me at a little _café_ of the neighborhood
where I was to wait for him, and give me notice that she was alone, and
that I might throw myself at her feet. It was only after I had learned
all these particulars that I thought of drying my clothes and taking
some refreshment. I then took possession of the dark alcove of his
ante-room, which was lighted by one round window, and heated by a
stove. I dressed myself neatly and simply, so that she I loved might
not blush for me before her friends.

At eleven o'clock V---- and I went out on foot; we proceeded together
as far as the window which I knew so well. There were three carriages
at the door. V---- went up, and I retired to wait for him at the
appointed place. How long that hour seemed while I waited for him! How
I execrated those visitors who, involuntarily importunate, came in
their indifference to dispose of some idle hours, and delayed the
reunion of two fond hearts who counted each second of their martyrdom
by their palpitations! At last V---- appeared; I followed rapidly on
his steps, he left me at the door, and I went up.



LX.


If I were to live a thousand times a thousand years, I should never
forget that instant and that sight. She was standing up in the light,
her elbow resting carelessly on the white marble of the chimney; her
tall and slender figure, her shoulders, and her profile, were reflected
in the glass; her face was turned towards the door, her eyes fixed on a
little dark passage leading to the drawing-room, and her head was bent
forward, and slightly inclined on one side, in the attitude of one
listening for the sound of approaching footsteps. She was dressed in
mourning, in a black silk dress trimmed with black lace round the neck
and the skirt. This profusion of lace, rumpled by the cushions of the
sofa to which her indolent and languid life confined her, hung around
her like the black and clustering bunches of the elder, shedding its
berries in the autumnal wind. The dark color of her gown left only her
shoulders, neck, and face in light, and the mourning of her dress
seemed completed by the natural mourning of her dark hair, which was
gathered up at the back of her head. This uniformity of color added to
her height, and showed to advantage her graceful and flexible figure.
The reflection of the fire in the glass, the light of the lamp on the
chimney-piece striking on her cheek, and the animation of impatient
expectation and love, shed on her countenance a splendor of youth,
bloom, and life, which seemed a transfiguration effected by love.

My first exclamation was one of joy and delighted surprise at seeing
her thus, more living, lovely, and immortal, in my eyes, than I had
ever seen her in the brightest days of Savoy. A feeling of deceitful
security and eternal possession entered into my heart, as my eyes fell
on her. She tried to stammer forth a few words on seeing me, but could
not. Her lips trembled with emotion. I fell at her feet, and pressed my
lips to the carpet upon which she trod. I then looked up to assure
myself that her presence was not a dream. She laid one of her hands
upon my hair, which thrilled beneath her touch, and holding by the
other to the marble of the chimney-piece, she too fell on her knees
before me. We gazed at each other at a distance. We sought words, and
found none for our excess of joy. We remained silent, but that very
silence and our kneeling posture was a language; I knelt full of
adoration, she full of happiness, and our attitude seemed to say, They
adore one another, but a phantom of Death stands between, and though
their eyes drink rapture, they will never be clasped in each other's
arms.



LXI.


I know not how many minutes we remained thus, nor how many thousand
interrogations and answers, what floods of tears, and oceans of joy
passed unexpressed between our mute and closed lips, between our
moistened eyes, between her countenance and mine. Happiness had struck
us motionless, and time had ceased to be. It was eternity in an
instant.

There was a knock at the street door; a sound of feet on the stairs. I
rose, and she resumed, with a faltering step, her place on the sofa. I
sat down on the other side, in the shade, to hide my flushed cheeks and
tearful eyes. A man of already advanced age, of imposing stature, with
a benignant, noble, and beaming countenance, slowly entered the room.
He approached the sofa without speaking, and imprinted a paternal kiss
on Julie's trembling hand. It was Monsieur de Bonald. Spite of the
painful awakening from ecstasy that the knock and arrival of a stranger
had produced in me, I inwardly blessed him for having interrupted that
first look in which reason might have been overpowered by rapture.
There are times when the cold voice of reason is required to still with
its icy tones the fever of the senses, and to strengthen anew the soul
in its holy and energetic resolves.



LXII.


Julie introduced me to M. de Bonald as the young man whose verses he
had read; he was surprised at my youth, and addressed me with
indulgence. He conversed with Julie with the paternal familiarity of a
man whose genius had rendered him illustrious; he had all the serenity
of age, and sought in the company of a young and lovely woman merely a
passing ray of beauty to enchant his eyes, and the charm of her society
during the calm and conversational hours at the close of day. His voice
was deep, as though it came from the heart, and his conversation flowed
with the graceful, yet serious, ease of a mind which seeks to unbend in
repose. Honesty was stamped on his brow, and spoke in the accents of
his voice. As the conversation seemed likely to be prolonged, and the
clock was on the point of striking twelve, I thought it right to take
my leave first, so as to create no suspicion of too great familiarity
in the mind of a friend and visitor of older standing than myself in
the house. Silence and one single look were the only reward I received
for my long and ardent expectation and my weary journey; but I bore
away with me her image and the certainty of seeing her every day,--that
was enough; it was too much. I wandered a long while on the quays,
baring my breast to the night air, and inhaling it with my lips, to
allay the fever of happiness which possessed me. On my return home, I
found that V---- had been asleep many hours; as for me, it was
daylight, and I had heard the cries of the venders in the streets of
Paris before I closed my eyes.

       *       *       *       *       *

My days were filled with one single thought, which I treasured up in my
heart, and would not even allow my countenance to reveal, as a precious
perfume of which one would fear to let a particle evaporate by exposing
the vase that contains it to the outward air. I used to rise with the
first rays of light, which always penetrated tardily into the dark
alcove of the little ante-room where my friend gave me shelter like a
mendicant of love. I always began the day by a long letter to Julie,
which was but a calmer continuation of the conversation of the day
before; in it I poured forth all the thoughts that had suggested
themselves since I had left her. Love feels delightful remorse at its
tender omissions; accuses, reproaches itself, and feels no rest till
they have been repaired. They are gems fallen from the heart or the
lips of the loved one, which cause the lover's thoughts to travel back
over the past, to gather them up, and to increase the treasure of his
feelings. Julie, when she awoke, received my letter, which made it
appear to her as though the conversation of the preceding evening had
not been interrupted, but had been kept up in whispered tones during
her sleep. I always received her answer before noon.

My heart being thus appeased, after the agitation of the night, my next
thought was to calm the impatience for the evening's interview, which
began to take possession of me. I strove not to divert my heart from
its one thought, but to interest my eyes and mind, and had laid down as
a law to myself to spend several hours in reading and study, to occupy
the interval between the time when I left Julie till we met again. I
wished to improve myself not for others, but for her,--in order that he
whom she loved should not disgrace her preference; and that those
superior men who composed her society, and who sometimes saw me in her
drawing-room standing at a corner of the fireplace, like a statue of
contemplation, should discover in me, if by chance they spoke to me, a
soul, an intelligence, a hope, or a promise, beneath my timid and
silent appearance. Then I had vague dreams of shining exploits, of a
stirring destiny, which Julie would watch from afar, and rejoice to see
me struggling with men, rising in strength, in greatness, and in power;
I thought she might one day glory secretly in having appreciated me
before the crowd, and in having loved me before posterity.



LXIII.


All this, and still more, my forced leisure, the obsession of one
besetting thought, my contempt for all besides, the want of money to
procure other amusement, and the almost claustral seclusion in which I
lived, disposed me to a life of more intense and eager study than I had
yet led. I passed my whole day seated at a little writing-table, which
was placed beneath the small round window opening on the yard of the
Hôtel Richelieu. The room was heated by a Dutch stove; a screen
enclosed my table and chair, and hid me from the observation of the
young men of fashion who often came to see my friend. In the spacious
yard below there were sounds of carriages, then silence, and now and
then bright rays of winter sun struggling against the grovelling fog of
the streets of Paris, which reminded me a little of the play of light,
the sounds of the wind, and the transparent mists of our mountains.
Sometimes I would see a sweet little boy six or eight years old playing
there; he was the son of the concierge. There was something in his face
which seemed that of a suffering angel; in his fair hair curled on his
forehead, and in his intelligent and ingenuous countenance, that
reminded me of the innocent faces of the children of my own province.
Indeed, I discovered that his family had come originally from a village
near that in which my father resided, had fallen into want, and had
been transplanted to Paris. This child had conceived a fondness for me,
from seeing me always at the window above the rooms his mother
inhabited, and had of his own accord and gratuitously devoted himself
to my service. He executed all my messages; brought me my bread, some
cheese, or the fruit for my breakfast; and went every morning to
purchase my little provisions at the grocer's. I used to take my frugal
repast on my writing-table, in the midst of my open books or
interrupted pages. The child had a black dog, which had been forgotten
at the house by some visitor; this dog had ended like the child by
attaching itself to me, and they could not be made to go down the
little wooden stairs when once they had ascended them. During the
greater part of the day, they lay and played together on the mat at my
feet beneath my table. At a later period I took away the dog with me
from Paris, and kept it many years, as a loving and faithful memento of
those days of solitude. I lost him in 1820, not without tears, in
traversing the forests of the Pontine Marshes between Rome and
Terracina. The poor child is become a man, and has learned the art of
engraving, which he practices ably at Lyons. My name having resounded
since, even in his shop, he came to see me, and wept with joy at
beholding me, and with grief at hearing of the loss of the dog. Poor
heart of man! that ever requires what it has once loved, and that sheds
tears of the same water, for the loss of an empire, or for the loss of
an animal.



LXIV.


During the thousands of hours in which I was thus confined between the
stove, the screen, the window, the child, and the dog, I read over all
that antiquity has written and bequeathed to us, except the poets, with
whom we had been surfeited at school, and in whose verses our wearied
eyes saw but the caæsura, and the long or short syllables. Sad effect
of premature satiety, which withers in the mind of a child the most
brightly tinted and perfumed flowers of human thought. But I read over
every philosopher, orator, and historian, in his own language. I loved
especially those who united the three great faculties of
intelligence,--narration, eloquence, and reflection; the fact, the
discourse, and the moral. Thucydides and Tacitus above all others; then
Machiavelli, the sublime practitioner of the diseases of empires; then
Cicero, the sonorous vessel which contains all, from the individual
tears of the man, the husband, the father, and the friend, up to the
catastrophes of Rome and of the world, even to his gloomy forebodings
of his own fate. There is in Cicero a stratum of divine philosophy and
serenity, through which all waters seem to be filtrated and clarified,
and through which his great mind flows in torrents of eloquence,
wisdom, piety, and harmony. I had, till then, thought him a great but
empty speaker, with little sense contained in his long periods; I was
mistaken. Next to Plato, he is the word of antiquity made man; his
style is the grandest of any language. We suppose him meagre, because
his drapery is so magnificent; but strip him of his purple and you will
still find a vast mind, which has felt, understood, and said, all that
there was to comprehend, to feel, or to say, in his day in Rome.



LXV.


As to Tacitus, I did not even attempt to combat my partiality for him.
I preferred him even to Thucydides, the Demosthenes of history.
Thucydides relates, but does not give life and being. Tacitus is not
the historian, but a compendium of mankind. His narration is the
counter-blow of the fact in the heart of a free, virtuous, and feeling
man. The shudder that one feels as one reads not only passes over the
flesh, but is a shudder of the heart. His sensibility is more than
emotion,--it is pity; his judgments are more than vengeance,--they are
justice; his indignation is more than anger,--it is virtue. Our hearts
mingle with that of Tacitus, and we feel proud of our kindred with him.
Would you make crime impossible to your sons? Would you inspire them
with the love of virtue? Rear them in the love of Tacitus. If they do
not become heroes at such a school, Nature must have created them base
or vile. A people who adopted Tacitus as their political gospel would
rise above the common stature of nations; such a people would enact
before God the tragical drama of mankind in all its grandeur and in all
its majesty. As to me, I owe to his writings more than the fibres of
the flesh, I owe all the metallic fibres of my being. Should our vulgar
and commonplace days ever rise to the tragic grandeur of his time, and
I become the worthy victim of a worthy cause, I might exclaim in dying,
"Give the honor of my life and of my death to the master, and not to
the disciple, for it is Tacitus that lived, and dies in me."



LXVI.


I was also a passionate admirer of orators. I studied them with the
presentiment of a man who would one day have to speak to the deaf
multitude, and who would strike the chords of human auditors. I studied
Demosthenes, Cicero, Mirabeau, and especially Lord Chatham,--more
striking to my mind than all the rest, because his inspired and lyrical
eloquence seems more like a cry than like a voice. It soars above his
limited audience and the passions of the day, on the loftiest wings of
poetry, to the immutable regions of eternal truth and of eternal
feeling. Chatham receives truth from the hand of God; and with him it
becomes, not only the light, but also the thunder of the debate.
Unfortunately, as in the case of Phidias at the Parthenon, we have only
fragments, heads, arms, and mutilated trunks left of him. But when in
thought we reassemble these remains, we produce marvels and divinities
of eloquence. I pictured to myself times, events, and passions, like
those which upraised these great men, a forum such as that they filled;
and like Demosthenes addressing the billows of the sea, I spoke
inwardly to the phantoms of my imagination.



LXVII.


About this period I read for the first time the speeches of Fox and
Pitt. I thought Fox declamatory, though prosaic; one of those cavilling
minds, born to gainsay, rather than to say,--lawyers without gowns,
with mere lip-conscience, who plead above all for their own popularity.
I saw in Pitt a statesman whose words were deeds, and who in the crash
of Europe maintained his country, almost alone, on the foundation of
his good sense, and the consistency of his character. Pitt was
Mirabeau, with less impulse and more integrity. Mirabeau and Pitt
became, and have ever continued to be, my favorite statesmen of modern
days. Compared to them, I saw in Montesquieu only erudite, ingenious,
and systematical dissertations; Fénelon seemed to me divine, but
chimerical; Rousseau, more impassioned than inspired, greater by
instinct than by truth; while Bossuet, with his golden eloquence and
fawning soul, united, in his conduct and his language before Louis
XIV., doctoral despotism with the complaisance of a courtier. From
these studies of history and oratory I naturally passed on to politics.
The remembrance of the imperial yoke which had just been shaken off,
and my abhorrence of the military rule to which we had been subjected,
impelled me towards liberty. On the other hand, family recollections;
the influence of daily associations; the touching situation of a royal
family, passing from a throne to a scaffold or to exile, and brought
back from exile to a throne; the orphan princess in the palace of her
fathers; those old men, crowned by misfortune as much as by their
ancestry; those young princes, schooled by stern adversity, from whom
so much might be expected,--all made me hope that new-born liberty
might be made to accord with the ancient monarchy of our forefathers.
The government would thus have possessed the two most potent spells in
all human affairs,--antiquity and novelty; memory and hope. It was a
fair dream, and most natural at my age. Each succeeding day, however,
dispelled a portion of that dream. I perceived with grief that old
forms but ill contain new ideas; that monarchy and liberty would never
hold together in one bond without a perpetual struggle; that in that
struggle the strength of the state would be exhausted, that monarchy
would be constantly suspected, liberty constantly betrayed.



LXVIII.


From these general studies I turned to another that perhaps engrossed
my mind the more from the very aridity and dryness of its nature, so
far removed from the intoxication of love and fancy in which I lived. I
mean political economy, or the science of the Wealth of Nations.

V---- had applied his mind to it with more curiosity than ardor. All
the Italian, English, or French books that had been written on the
science lined his shelves and covered his table. We read and discussed
them together, noting down the remarks that they suggested. The science
of political economy, which at that time laid down, as it still does in
the present day, more axioms than truths, and proposed more problems
than it can solve, had for us precisely the charm of mystery. It
became, moreover, between us an endless theme for those conversations
which exercise the intelligence without engrossing the mind, and suffer
us to feel, even while conversing, the presence of the one secret and
continuous thought concealed in the inmost recesses of our hearts. It
was an enigma of which we sought the answer without any great desire to
find it. After having read, examined, and noted all that constituted
the science at that time, I fancied I could discern a few theoretical
principles true in their generality, doubtful in their application,
ambitiously aspiring to be classed among absolute truths, often hollow
or false in their formula. I had no objection to make, but my
instinctive desire of demonstration was not thoroughly satisfied. I
threw down the books and awaited the light. Political economy at that
time did not exist; being an entirely experimental science, it had
neither sufficient maturity nor long standing to affirm so positively.
Since then it has progressed and promises to statesmen a few dogmas
which may be applied cautiously to society, a few sources of general
comfort, and some new ties of fraternity, to be strengthened between
nations.



LXIX.


I varied these serious pursuits with the study of diplomacy or the laws
of intercourse between governments, which had always attracted me from
my early youth. Chance directed me to the fountain-head. At the time
that I applied myself to political economy I had written a pamphlet of
about a hundred pages, on a subject which at that period attracted a
great share of public attention. The title of the pamphlet was: "What
place can the nobility occupy in France under a constitutional
government?" I treated this question, which was a most delicate one at
the time, with the instinctive good sense that Nature had allotted to
me, and with the impartiality of a youthful mind, soaring without
effort above the vanities from on high, the envy from below, and the
prejudices of his day. I spoke with love of the people, with
intelligence of our institutions, and with respect of that historic
nobility whose names were long the name of France herself, on her
battlefields, in her magistracy, and in foreign lands. I was for the
suppression of all privileges of nobility, save the memory of nations,
which cannot be suppressed, and proposed an elective peerage, showing
that in a free country there could be no other nobility than that of
election, which is a perpetual stimulus to public duty, and a temporary
reward of the merit or virtues of its citizens.

Julie, to whom I had lent the manuscript in order to initiate her in
the labors of my life, had shown it to Monsieur M----, a clever man of
her intimate acquaintance, for whose judgment she entertained the
greatest deference. M. M---- was the worthy son of an illustrious
member of the Constituent Assembly, had been the Emperor's private
secretary, and was now a constitutional royalist. He was one of those
whose minds are never youthful, who enter mature into the world, and
die young, leaving a void in their epoch. M. M----, after reading my
work, asked Julie who was the political man who had written those
pages. She smiled, and confessed that they were the production of a
very young man, who had neither name nor experience, and was quite
unknown in the political world. M. M---- required to see me to believe.
I was introduced to him, and he received me with kindness which
afterwards ripened into a friendship, that remained unchanged until his
death. My work was never printed; but M. M----, in his turn, introduced
me to his friend, M. de Reyneval, a man of luminous understanding,
open-hearted, and of an attractive and cheerful though grave and
laborious mind, who was at that time the life of our foreign policy. He
died, not long ago, while ambassador at Madrid. M. de Reyneval, who had
read my work, received me with that encouraging grace and cordial smile
which seems to overleap distance, and always wins at first sight the
heart of a young man. He was one of those men from whom it is pleasant
to learn, because they seem, so to speak, to diffuse themselves in
teaching, and to give rather than prescribe. One learned more of Europe
in a few mornings by conversing with this most agreeable man, than in a
whole diplomatic library. He possessed tact, the innate genius of
negotiations. I owe to him my taste for those high political affairs
which he handled with full consciousness of their importance, but
without seeming to feel their weight. His strength made everything
easy, and his ready condescension seemed to infuse grace and heart into
business. He encouraged my desire to enter on the diplomatic career,
presented me himself to the Director of the Archives, M. d'Hauterive,
and authorized him to allow me access to the collection of our treaties
and negotiations. M. d'Hauterive, who had grown old over despatches,
might be said to be the unalterable tradition and the living dogma of
our diplomacy. With his commanding figure, hollow voice, his thick and
powdered hair, his long, bushy eyebrows overshading a deep-set and dim
eye, he seemed a living, speaking century. He received me like a
father, and appeared happy to transmit to me the inheritance of all his
hoarded knowledge; he made me read, and take notes under his own eye,
and twice a week I used to study for a few hours under his direction. I
love the memory of his green old age, which so prodigally bestowed its
experience on a young man whose name he scarcely knew. M. d'Hauterive
died during the battle of July, 1830, amid the roar of the cannon which
annihilated the policy of the Bourbons and the treaties of 1815.



LXX.


Such were my studious and retired habits in my little room. I wished
for nothing more; my desire to enter on some career was in truth but my
mother's ambition for me, and the regret of expending the price of her
diamond, without some compensation in my bettered condition. If at that
time I had been offered an embassy to quit Paris, and a palace to leave
my truckle-bed in the ante-room, I would have closed my eyes not to
see, and my ears not to listen to Fortune. I was too happy in my
obscurity, thanks to the ray, invisible to others, which warmed and
illumined my darkness.

My happiness dawned as the day declined. I habitually dined at home
alone in my cell, and my repast generally consisted of a slice of
boiled meat, some salad, and bread. I drank water only, to save the
expense of even a little wine, so necessary to correct the insipid and
often unwholesome water of Paris. By this means, twenty sous a day paid
for my dinner, and this meal was sufficient not only for myself but to
feed the dog who had adopted me. After dinner, I used to throw myself
on my bed, overcome by the application and solitude of the day, and
strove thus to abridge by sleep the long, dark hours which yet divided
me from the moment when time commenced for me. These were hours which
young men of my age spend in theatres, public places, or the expensive
amusements of a capital, as I had done before my transformation. I
generally awaked about eleven, and then dressed with the simplicity of
a young man whose good looks and figure set off his plain attire. I was
always neatly shod, besides having white linen and a black coat,
carefully brushed by my own hands, which I buttoned up to the throat,
after the fashion of the young disciples of the schools of the Middle
Ages. A military cloak, whose ample folds were thrown over my left
shoulder, preserved my dress from being splashed in the streets, and,
on the whole, my plain and unpretending costume, which neither aspired
to elegance nor betrayed my distress, admitted of my passing from my
solitude to a drawing-room without either attracting or offending the
eye of the indifferent. I always went on foot; for the price of one
evening's coach-hire would have cost me a day of my life of love. I
walked on the pavement, keeping close along the walls to avoid the
contact of carriage-wheels, and proceeded slowly on tip-toe for fear of
the mud, which in a well-lighted drawing-room would have betrayed the
humble pedestrian. I was in no hurry, for I knew that Julie received
every evening some of her husband's friends, and I preferred waiting
till the last carriage had driven away before I knocked. This reserve
on my part arose not only from the fear of the remarks which might be
made concerning my constant presence in the house of so young and
lovely a woman, but, above all, from my dislike to share with others
her looks and words. It seemed to me that each of those with whom she
was obliged to keep up a conversation robbed me of some part of her
presence or her mind. To see her, to hear her, and not to possess her
alone, were often a harder trial to me than not to see her at all.



LXXI.


To pass away the time I used to walk from one end to the other of a
bridge which crossed the Seine nearly opposite to the house where Julie
lived. How many thousand times I have reckoned the boards of that
bridge, which resounded beneath my feet! How many copper coins I have
thrown, as I passed and repassed, into the tin cup of the poor blind
man, who was seated through rain or snow on the parapet of that bridge!
I prayed that my mite which rung in the heart of the poor, and from
thence in the ear of God, might purchase for me in return a long and
secure evening, and the departure of some intruder who delayed my
happiness.

Julie, who knew my dislike to meeting strangers at her house, had
devised with me a signal which should inform me from afar of the
presence or absence of visitors in her little drawing-room. When they
were numerous, the two inside shutters of the window were closed, and I
could only see a faint streak of light glimmering between the two
leaves; when there were one or two familiar friends, on the point of
leaving, one shutter was opened; and at last, when all were gone, the
two shutters were thrown open, the curtains withdrawn, and I could see
from the opposite quay the light of the lamp which stood on the little
table, where she read or worked while expecting me. I never lost sight
of that distant ray, which was visible and intelligible for me alone,
amid the thousand lights of windows, lamps, shops, carriages, and
_cafés_, and among all those avenues of fixed or wandering fires which
illumine at night the buildings and the horizon of Paris. All other
illuminations no longer existed for me,--there was no other light on
earth, no other star in the firmament but that small window, which
seemed like an open eye seeking me out in darkness, and on which my
eyes, my thoughts, my soul, were ever and solely bent. O
incomprehensible power of the infinite nature of man, which can fill
the universal space and think it too confined; or can be concentrated
in one bright speck shining through the river mists, amid the ocean of
fires of a vast city, and feel its desires, feelings, intelligence, and
love bounded by that small spark which scarce outshines the glowworm of
a summer's evening! How often have I thus thought as I paced the
bridge, muffled in my cloak! How often have I exclaimed, as I gazed at
that oval window shining in the distance: Let all the fires of earth be
quenched, let all the luminous globes of the firmament be extinguished,
but may that feeble light--the mysterious star of our two lives--shine
on forever; its glimmering would illumine countless worlds, and suffice
my eyes through all eternity!

Alas, since then I have seen this star of my youth expire, this burning
focus of my eyes and heart extinguished! I have seen the shutters of
the window closed for many a long year on the funereal darkness of that
little room. One year, one day, I saw them once more opened. I looked
to see who dared to live where she had lived before; and then I saw, in
summer time, at that same window, bathed in sunshine and adorned with
flowers, a young woman whom I did not know playing and smiling with a
new-born child, unconscious that she played upon a grave, that her
smiles were turned to tears in the eyes of a passer-by, and that so
much life seemed as a mockery of death.... Since then, at night, I have
returned; and every year I still return, approach that wall with
faltering steps, and touch that door; and then I sit on the stone
bench, and watch the lights, and listen to the voices from above. I
sometimes fancy that I see the light reflected from her lamp; that I
hear the tones of her voice; that I can knock at that door; that she
expects me; that I can go in--...O Memory, art thou a gift from Heaven,
or pain of Hell!...But I resume my story, since you, my friend, desire
it.



LXXII.


The day after my arrival, Julie had introduced me to the old man, who
was to her a father, and whose latter days she brightened with the
radiance of her mind, her tenderness, and her beauty. He received me as
a son. He had learned from her our meeting in Savoy, our fraternal
attachment, our daily correspondence, and the affinity of our minds, as
shown by the conformity of our tastes, ages, and feelings. He knew the
entire purity of our attachment, and felt no jealousy, or any anxiety,
save for the life, the happiness, and reputation of his ward. He only
feared she might have been attracted and deceived by that first look,
which is sometimes a revelation, and sometimes a delusion of the young,
and that she might have bestowed her heart on a man of the creation of
her fancy. My letters, from which she had read him several passages,
had somewhat reassured him, but it was only from my countenance he
could learn whether they were an artful or natural expression of my
feelings; for style may deceive, but the countenance never can.

The old man surveyed me with that anxious attention which is often
concealed under an appearance of momentary abstraction. But as he saw
me more, and questioned me, I could see his searching look clear up,
betray an inward satisfaction, soften gradually into one of confidence
and good-will, and rest upon me with that security and caress of the
eye, which though a mute is perhaps the best reception at a first
interview. My ardent desire to please him; the timidity so natural to a
young man, who feels that the fate of his heart depends on the judgment
passed upon him; the fear that it might not be favorable; the presence
of Julie, which disconcerted though it encouraged me; and all the
shades of thought so plainly legible in my modest attitude and my
flushed cheeks,--spoke in my favor better than I could have done
myself. The old man took my hand with a paternal gesture, and said,
"Compose yourself; and consider that you have two friends in this
house, instead of one. Julie could not have better chosen a brother,
and I would not choose another son." He embraced me, and we talked
together as if he had known me from my childhood, until an old servant
came at ten o'clock, according to his invariable custom, to give him
the help of his arm on the stair, and lead him back to his own
apartment.



LXXIII.


His was a beautiful and attractive old age, to which nothing was
wanting but the security of a morrow. It was so disinterested and
parental, that it in no wise offended the eye, though associated with a
young and lovely woman. It was as an evening shade upon the bloom of
morning; but one felt that it was a protecting shade, sheltering but
not withering her youth, beauty, and innocence. The features of this
celebrated man were regular as the pure outline of antique profiles
which time emaciates slightly, but cannot impair. His blue eyes had
that softened but penetrating expression of worn-out sight, as if they
looked through a slight haze. There was an arch expression of implied
meaning in his mouth; and his smile was playful as that of a father to
his little children. His hair, which age and study had thinned, was
soft and fine, like the down of a swan. His hands were white and taper
as the marble hands of the statue of Seneca taking his dying leave of
Paulina. There were no wrinkles on his face, which had become thin and
pale from the long labor of the mind, for it had never been plump. A
few blue and bloodless veins might be traced on the depressed temples;
the light of the fire was reflected on the forehead,--that latest
beauty of man, which thought chisels and polishes unceasingly. There
was in the cheek that delicacy of skin,--that transparency of a face
which has grown old within the shade of walls, and which neither wind
nor sun have ever tanned; the complexion of woman, which gives an
effeminacy to the countenance of old men, and the ethereal, fragile,
and impalpable appearance of a vision, that the slightest breath might
dispel. His calm and well-weighed expressions, naturally set in clear,
concise, and lucid phrase, had all the precision of one who has been
used to careful selection in clothing his thoughts for writing or
dictation. His sentences were interrupted by long pauses, as if to
allow time for them to penetrate the ear, and to be appreciated by the
mind of the listener; he relieved them, every now and then, by graceful
pleasantry, never degenerating into coarseness, as though he purposely
upheld the conversation on these light and sportive wings, to prevent
its being borne down by the weight of too continuous ideas.



LXXIV.


I soon learned to love this charming and talented old man. If I am
destined to attain old age, I should wish to grow old like him. There
was but one thing grieved me as I looked at him,--it was to see him
advancing towards death, without believing in Immortality. The natural
sciences that he had so deeply studied had accustomed his mind to trust
exclusively to the evidence of his senses. Nothing existed for him that
was not palpable; what could not be calculated contained no element of
certitude in his eyes; matter and figures composed his universe;
numbers were his god; the phenomena of Nature were his revelations,
Nature herself his Bible and his gospel; his virtue was instinct, not
seeing that numbers, phenomena, Nature, and virtue are but hieroglyphs
inscribed on the veil of the temple, whose unanimous meaning is--Deity.
Sublime but stubborn minds, who wonderfully ascend the steps of
science, one by one,--but will never pass the last, which leads to God.



LXXV.


This second father very soon became so fond of me, that he proposed to
give me occasionally, in his library, some lessons in those elevated
sciences which had rendered him illustrious, and now constituted his
chief relaxation. I went to him sometimes in the morning; Julie would
come at the same hours. It was a rare and touching spectacle to see
that old man seated in the midst of his books,--a monument of human
learning and philosophy, of which he had exhausted all the pages during
his long life,--discovering the mysteries of Nature and of thought to a
youth who stood beside him; while a woman, young and lovely as that
ideal philosophy, that loving wisdom,--the Beatrice of the poet of
Florence,--attended as his first disciple, and was the fellow-learner
of that younger brother. She brought the books, turned over the page,
and marked the chapters with her extended rosy finger; she moved amid
the spheres, the globes, the instruments, and the heaps of volumes, in
the dust of human knowledge; and seemed the soul of Nature disengaging
itself from matter, to kindle it and teach it to burn and love.

I learned and understood more in a few days than in years of dry and
solitary study; but the frequent infirmities of age in the master too
often interrupted these morning lessons.



LXXVI.


I invariably spent a part of my night in the company of her who was to
me both night and day, time and eternity. As I have already said, I
always arrived when importunate visitors had left the drawing-room.
Sometimes I remained long hours on the quay or on the bridge, walking
or standing still by turns, and waiting in vain for the inside shutter
to open and to give the mute signal on which we had agreed. How have I
watched the sluggish waters of the Seine beneath the arches of the
bridge, bearing away in their course the trembling rays of the moon, or
the reflected light of the windows of the city. How many hours and half
hours have I not reckoned as they sounded from the near or distant
churches, and cursed their slowness or accused their speed! I knew the
tones of every brazen voice in the towers of Paris. There were lucky
and unlucky days. Sometimes I went in, without waiting an instant, and
only found her husband with her, who spent in lively talk, or friendly
conversation, the hours that unbent and prepared him for sleep. At
other times I only met one or two friends; they dropped in for a short
time, bringing the news or the excitement of the day, and devoted to
friendship the first hours of their evening, which they generally
concluded in some political drawing-room. These were in general
parliamentary men, eminent orators of the two chambers,--Suard, Bonald,
Mounier, Reyneval, Lally-Tolendal, the old man with the youthful mind,
and Lainé. This latter was the most perfect copy of ancient eloquence
and virtue that I have seen to venerate in modern times; he was a Roman
in heart, in eloquence, and in appearance, and wanted but the toga to
be the Cicero or the Cato of his day. I felt peculiar admiration and
tender respect for this personification of a good citizen; he, in his
turn, took notice of me, and often distinguished me by some look and
word of preference. He has since been my master; and if one day I had
to serve my country, or to ascend a tribune, the remembrance of his
patriotism and his eloquence would be ever present to me as a model
that I could not hope to equal, but might imitate at a distance.

These men came round the little work-table in turn, while Julie sat
half reclined upon the sofa. I remained silent and respectful in one
corner of the room, far from her, listening, reflecting, admiring, or
disapproving inwardly, but scarcely opening my lips unless questioned,
and only joining in the conversation by a few timid and cautious words
said in a low tone. With a strong conviction on most subjects, I have
always felt an extreme shyness in expressing it before such men; they
appeared to me infinitely my superiors from age and in authority.
Respect for time, for genius, and for fame is part of my nature,--a ray
of glory dazzles me; white hairs awe me; an illustrious name bows me
voluntarily before it. I have often lost something of my real value by
this timidity, but nevertheless I have never regretted it. The
consciousness of the superiority of others is a good feeling in youth,
as at all ages, for it elevates the ideal standard to which we aspire.
Self-confidence in youth is an overweening insolence towards time and
Nature. If the feeling of the superiority of others is a delusion, it
is at least a delusion which raises human nature, and is better than
that which lowers it. Alas, we but too soon reduce it to its true but
sad proportions.

These visitors at first paid little attention to me. I used to see them
stoop towards Julie, and ask, in a low tone, who I was. My thoughtful
countenance and my immovable and modest attitude seemed to surprise and
please them; insensibly they drew towards me, or seemed by a gracious
and encouraging gesture to address some of their remarks to me. It was
an indirect invitation to take my share in the conversation. I said a
few words in grateful recognition, but I soon relapsed into my silence
and obscurity, for fear of prolonging the conversation by keeping it
up. I considered them merely as the frame of a picture; the only real
interest I felt was in the face, the speech, and the mind of her from
whom I was shut out by their presence.



LXXVII.


What inward joy, what throbbing of the heart, when they retired, and
when I heard beneath the gateway the rolling of the carriage which bore
away the last of them! We were then alone; the night was far advanced;
our security increased at every move of the minute hand as it
approached the figure that marked midnight on the dial. Nothing was to
be heard but the sound of a few carriages, which, at rare intervals,
rattled over the stones of the quay, or the deep breathing of the old
concierge, who was stretched sleeping on a bench in the vestibule at
the foot of the stairs.

We would first look at each other, as if surprised at our happiness. I
would draw nearer to the table where Julie worked by the light of the
lamp. The work soon fell from her unheeding hands; our looks expanded,
our lips were unsealed, our hearts overflowed. Our choked and hurried
words, like the flow of water impeded by too narrow an opening, were at
first slowly poured forth, and the torrent of our thoughts trickled out
drop by drop. We could not select, among the many things we had to say,
those we most wished to impart to each other. Sometimes there was a
long silence, caused by the confusion and excess of crowded thoughts
which accumulated in our hearts and could not escape. Then they began
to flow slowly, like those first drops which show that the cloud is
about to dissolve or burst; these words called forth others in
response; one voice led on the other, as a falling child draws his
companion with him. Our words mingled without order, without answer,
and without connection; neither of us would yield the happiness of
outstripping the other in the expression of one common feeling. We
fancied that we had first felt what we disclosed of our thoughts since
the evening's conversation, or the morning's letter. At last this
tumultuous overflow, at which we laughed and blushed, after a time
subsided, and gave place to a calm effusion of the lips, which poured
forth together, or alternately, the plenitude of their expressions. It
was a continuous and murmuring transfusion of one soul into
another,--an unreserved interchange of our two natures,--a complete
transmutation of one into another, by the reciprocal communication of
all that breathed, or lived, or burned within us. Never, perhaps, did
two beings as irreproachable in their looks, or in their very thoughts,
bare their hearts to one another more unreservedly, and reveal the
mysterious depths of their feelings. The innocent nudity of our souls
was chaste, though unveiled, as light that discovers all, yet sullies
nothing. We had nought to reveal but the spotless love which purified
as it consumed us.

Our love, by its very purity, was incessantly renewed, with the same
light of soul, the same unsullied transports of its first bloom. Each
day was like the first; every instant was as that ineffable moment when
we felt it dawn within us, and saw it reflected in the heart and looks
of another self. Our love would always preserve its flower and its
perfume, for the fruit could never be culled.



LXXVIII.


Of all the different means by which God has allowed soul to communicate
with soul, through the transparent barrier of the senses, there was not
one that our love did not employ to manifest itself,--from the look
which conveys most of ourselves, in an almost ethereal ray, to the
closed lids, which seem to enfold within us the image we have received,
that it may not evaporate; from languor to delirium, from the sigh to
the loud cry; from the long silence to those exhaustless words which
flow from the lips without pause and without end, which stop the
breath, weary the tongue, which we pronounce without hearing them, and
which have no other meaning than an impotent effort to say, again and
again, what can never be said enough....

Many a time did we talk thus for hours, in whispered tones, leaning on
the little table close to each other, without perceiving that our
conversation had lasted more than the space of a single aspiration;
quite surprised to find that the minutes had flown as swiftly as our
words, and that the clock struck the inexorable hour of parting.

Sometimes there would be interrogations and answers as to our most
fugitive shades of thought and nature, dialogues in almost unheard
whispers, articulate sighs rather than audible words, blushing
confessions of our most secret inward repinings, joyful exclamations of
surprise at discovering in us both the same impressions reflected from
one another, as light in reverberations, the blow in the counterblow,
the form in the image. We would exclaim, rising by a simultaneous
impulse, "We are not two; we are one single being under two illusive
natures! Which will say you unto the other; which will say I? There is
no _I_; there is no _you_; but only _we_." ... We would then sink down,
overcome with admiration at this wonderful conformity, weeping with
delight at this twofold existence, and at having doubled our lives by
consecrating them to each other.



LXXIX.


Most generally we used to travel back over the past, step by step, and
recall with scrupulous minuteness every place, circumstance, and hour
which had brought on, or marked the beginning of our love,--like some
young girl who has scattered by the way the unstrung pearls of her
precious necklace, and returns upon her steps, her eyes bent upon the
ground, to find and gather them up, one by one. We would not lose the
recollection of one of those places, or one of those hours, for fear of
losing at the same time the hoarded memory of a single joy. We
remembered the mountains of Savoy; the valley of Chambéry; the torrents
and the lake; the mossy ground, sometimes in shade and sometimes
dappled with light, beneath the outstretched arms of the
chestnut-trees; the rays between the branches, the glimpse of sky
through the leafy dome above our heads, the blue expanse and the white
sails at our feet; our first unsought meetings in the mountain paths;
our mutual conjectures; our encounters on the lake before we knew each
other, sailing in our boats in contrary directions, her dark hair
waving in the wind, my indifferent attitude; our looks averted from the
crowd; the double enigma that we were to each other, of which the
answer was to be eternal love; then the fatal day of the tempest, and
her fainting; the mournful night of prayers and tears; the waking in
heaven; our return together by moonlight through the avenue of poplars,
her hand in mine; her warm tears which my lips had drunk, the first
words in which our souls had spoken; our joys, our parting,--we
remembered all.

We never wearied of these details. It was as though we had related some
story which was not our own. But what was there henceforth in the
universe save ourselves? O inexhaustible curiosity of love, thou art
not only a childish delight of the hour, thou art love itself, which
never tires of contemplating what it possesses, treasures up every
impression, each hair, each thrill, each blush, each sigh of the loved
one, as a reason for loving more, as a means of feeding anew with each
memory the flame of enthusiasm, in which it joys to be consumed!



LXXX.


Julie's tears would sometimes suddenly flow from a strange sadness. She
knew me condemned, by this concealed though to us ever-present death,
to behold in her but a phantom of happiness, which would vanish ere I
could press it to my heart. She grieved and accused herself for having
inspired me with a passion which could never bring me joy. "Oh, that I
could die, die soon, die young, and still beloved!" would she say.
"Yes, die, as I can be to you but the bitter delusion of love and joy;
at once your rapture and your woe. Ah, the divinest joys and the most
cruel anguish are mingled in my destiny! Oh, that love would kill me;
and that you might survive to love after me, as your nature and your
heart should love! In dying, I shall be less wretched than I am while
feeling that I live by your sacrifices, and doom your youth and your
love to a perpetual death!"

"Oh, blaspheme not against such ineffable joy!" I exclaimed, placing my
trembling hands beneath her eyes to receive her fast dropping tears.
"What base idea have you conceived of him whom God has thought worthy
to meet, to understand, and to love you? Are there not more oceans of
tenderness and love in this tear which falls warm from your heart, and
which I carry to my lips as the life's blood of our tortured love, than
in the thousand sated desires and guilty pleasures in which are
engulfed such vile attachments as you regret for me? Have I ever seemed
to you to desire aught else than this twofold suffering? Does it not
make of us both voluntary and pure victims? Is it not an eternal
holocaust of love, such as, from Heloise to us, the angels can scarce
have witnessed? Have I ever once reproached the Almighty, even in the
madness of my solitary nights, for having raised me by you, and for
you, above the condition of man? He has given me in you, not a woman to
be polluted by the embrace of these mortal arms, but an impalpable and
sacred incarnation of immaterial beauty. Does not the celestial fire,
which night and day burns so rapturously within me, consume all dross
of vulgar desire? Am I aught but flame? A flame as pure and holy as the
rays of your soul which first kindled it, and now feed it unceasingly
through your beaming eye! Ah, Julie, estimate yourself more worthily,
and weep not over sorrows which you imagine you inflict on me! I do not
suffer. My life is one perpetual overflow of happiness, filled by you
alone,--a repose of sense, a sleep of which you are the dream. You have
transformed my nature. I suffer? Oh, would that I could sometimes
suffer, that I might have somewhat to offer unto God, were it but the
consciousness of a privation, the bitterness of a tear, in return for
all he has given me in you! To suffer for you, might, perchance, be the
only thing which could add one drop to that cup of happiness which it
is given me to quaff. To suffer thus, is it to suffer, or to enjoy? No;
thus to live, is, in truth, to die, but it is to die some years earlier
to this wretched life, to live beforehand of the life of heaven."



LXXXI.


She believed it, and I myself believed it, as I spoke and raised my
hands imploringly towards her. We would part after such converse as
this, each preserving, to feed on it separately till the morrow, the
impression of the last look, the echo of the last tone, that were to
give us patience to live through the long, tedious day. When I had
crossed the threshold, I would see her open her window, lean forth amid
her flowers on the iron bar of the balcony, and follow my receding
figure as long as the misty vapors of the Seine allowed her to discern
it on the bridge. Again and again would I turn to send back a sigh and
a lingering look, and strive to tear away my soul, which would not be
parted from her. It seemed as if my very being were riven asunder,--my
spirit to return and dwell with her, while my body alone, as a mere
machine, slowly wended its way through the dark and deserted streets to
the door of the hotel where I dwelt.



LXXXII.


Thus passed away, without other change than that afforded by my
studies, and our ever-varying impressions, the delightful months of
winter. They were drawing to a close. The early splendors of spring
already began to glance fitfully from the roofs upon the damp and
gloomy wilderness of the streets of Paris. My friend V----, recalled by
his mother, was gone, and had left me alone in the little room where he
had harbored me during my stay. He was to return in the autumn, and had
paid for the lodging for a whole year, so that, though absent, he still
extended to me his brotherly hospitality. It was with sorrow I saw him
depart; none remained to whom I could speak of Julie. The burden of my
feelings would now be doubly heavy, when I could no longer relieve
myself by resting it on the heart of another; but it was a weight of
happiness,--I could still uphold it. It was soon to become a load of
anguish, which I could confide to no living being, and least of all to
her whom I loved.

My mother wrote me, that straightened means, caused by unexpected
reverses of fortune, which had fallen on my father in quick and harsh
succession, had reduced to comparative indigence our once open and
hospitable paternal home, obliging my poor father to withhold the half
of my allowance, to enable him to meet, and that only with much
difficulty, the expense of maintaining and educating six other
children. It was therefore incumbent upon me, she said, either by my
own unaided efforts to maintain myself honorably in Paris, or to return
home and live with resignation in the country, sharing the common
pittance of all. My mother's tenderness sought beforehand to comfort me
under this sad necessity; she dwelt on the joy it would be to her to
see me again, and placed before me, in most attractive colors, the
prospect of the labors and simple pleasures of a rural life. On the
other hand, some of the associates of my early years of gambling and
dissipation, who had now fallen into poverty, having met me in Paris,
reminded me of sundry trifling obligations which I had contracted
towards them, and begged me to come to their assistance. They stripped
me thus, by degrees, of the greater part of that little hoard which I
had saved by strict economy, to enable me to live longer in Paris. My
purse was well-nigh empty, and I began to think of courting fortune
through fame. One morning, after a desperate struggle between timidity
and love, love triumphed. I concealed beneath my coat my small
manuscript, bound in green, containing my verses, my last hope; and
though wavering and uncertain in my design, I turned my steps towards
the house of a celebrated publisher whose name is associated with the
progress of literature and typography in France, Monsieur Didot. I was
first attracted to this name because M. Didot, independently of his
celebrity as a publisher, enjoyed at that time some reputation as an
author. He had published his own verses with all the elegance, pomp and
circumstance of a poet who could himself control the approving voice of
Fame.

When before M. Didot's door in the Rue Jacob, a door all papered with
illustrious names, a redoubled effort on my part was required to cross
the threshold, another to ascend the stairs, another still more violent
to ring at his door. But I saw the adored image of Julie encouraging
me, and her hand impelled me. I dared do anything.

I was politely received by M. Didot, a middle-aged man with a precise
and commercial air, whose speech was brief and plain as that of a man
who knows the value of minutes. He desired to know what I had to say to
him. I stammered for some time, and became embarrassed in one of those
labyrinths of ambiguous phrases under which one conceals thoughts that
will and will not come to the point. I thought to gain courage by
gaining time; at last I unbuttoned my coat, drew out the little volume,
and presented it humbly with a trembling hand to M. Didot. I told him
that I had written these verses, and wished to have them
published,--not indeed to bring me fame (I had not that absurd
delusion), but in the hope of attracting the notice and good-will of
influential literary men; that my poverty would not permit of my going
to the expense of printing; and, therefore, I came to submit my work to
him, and request him to publish it, should he, after looking over it,
deem it worthy of the indulgence or favor of cultivated minds. M. Didot
nodded, smiled kindly, but somewhat ironically, took my manuscript
between two fingers, which seemed accustomed to crumple paper
contemptuously, and putting down my verses on the table, appointed me
to return in a week for an answer as to the object of my visit. I took
my leave. The next seven days appeared to me seven centuries. My future
prospects, my favor, my mother's consolation or despair, my love,--in a
word, my life or death, were in the hands of M. Didot. At times, I
pictured him to myself reading my verses with the same rapture that had
inspired me on my mountains, or on the brink of my native torrents; I
fancied he saw in them the dew of my heart, the tears of my eyes, the
blood of my young veins; that he called together his literary friends
to listen to them, and that I heard from my alcove the sound of their
applause. At others, I blushed to think I had exposed to the inspection
of a stranger a work so unworthy of seeing the light; that I had
discovered my weakness and my impotence in a vain hope of success,
which would be changed into humiliation, instead of being converted
into gold and joy within my grasp. Hope, however, as persevering as my
distress, often got the upper hand in my dreams, and led me on from
hour to hour until the day appointed by M. Didot.



LXXXIII.


My heart failed as, on the eighth day, I ascended his stairs. I
remained a long while standing on the landing-place at his door without
daring to ring. At last some one came out, the door was opened, and I
was obliged to go in. M. Didot's face was as unexpressive and as
ambiguous as an oracle. He requested me to be seated, and while looking
for my manuscript, which was buried beneath heaps of papers, "I have
read your verses, sir," he said; "there is some talent in them, but no
study. They are unlike all that is received and appreciated in our
poets. It is difficult to see whence you have derived the language,
ideas and imagery of your poetry, which cannot be classed in any
definite style. It is a pity, for there is no want of harmony. You must
renounce these novelties which would lead astray our national genius.
Read our masters,--Delille, Parny, Michaud, Reynouard, Luce de
Lancival, Fontanes; these are the poets that the public loves. You must
resemble some one, if you wish to be recognized, and to be read. I
should advise you ill if I induced you to publish this volume, and I
should be doing you a sorry service in publishing it at my expense." So
saying, he rose, and gave me back my manuscript. I did not attempt to
contest the point with Fate, which spoke in the voice of the oracle. I
took up the volume, thanked M. Didot, and, offering some excuse for
having trespassed on his time, I went downstairs, my legs trembling
beneath me, and my eyes moistened with tears.

Ah, if M. Didot, who was a kind and feeling man, a patron of letters,
could have read in my heart, and have understood that it was neither
fame nor fortune that the unknown youth came to beg, with his book in
his hand; that it was life and love I sued for--I am sure he would have
printed my volume. He would have been repaid in heaven, at least.



LXXXIV.


I returned to my room in despair. The child and the dog wondered, for
the first time, at my sullen silence, and at the gloom that overspread
my countenance. I lighted the stove, and threw in, sheet by sheet, my
whole volume, without sparing a single page. "Since thou canst not
purchase for me a single day of life and love," I exclaimed, as I
watched it burning, "what care I if the immortality of my name be
consumed with thee? Love, not fame, is my immortality."

That same evening, I went out at nightfall. I sold my poor mother's
diamond. Till then I had kept it, in the hope that my verses might have
redeemed its value, and that I might preserve it untouched. As I handed
it to the jeweller, I kissed it by stealth, and wet it with my tears.
He seemed affected himself, and felt convinced that the diamond was
honestly mine by the grief I testified in disposing of it. The thirty
louis he gave me for it fell from my hands as I reckoned them, as if
the gold had been the price of a sacrilege. Oh, how many diamonds,
twenty times superior in price, would I not often have given since, to
repurchase that same diamond, unique in my eyes!--a fragment of my
mother's heart, one of the last teardrops from her eye, the light of
her love!... On what hand does it sparkle now?...



LXXXV.


Spring had returned. The Tuileries cast each morning upon their idlers
the green shade of their leaves, and showered down the fragrant snow of
their horse-chestnut trees. From the bridges I could perceive beyond
the stony horizon of Chaillot and Passy the long line of verdant and
undulating hills of Fleury, Meudon, and St. Cloud. These hills seemed
to rise as cool and solitary islands in the midst of a chalky ocean.
They raised in my heart feelings of remorse and poignant reproach, and
were images and remembrances which awaked the craving after Nature that
had lain dormant for six months. The broken rays of moonlight floated
at night upon the tepid waters of the river, and the dreamy orb opened,
as far as the Seine could be traced, luminous and fantastic vistas
where the eye lost itself in landscapes of shade and vapor.
Involuntarily the soul followed the eye. The front of the shops, the
balconies, and the windows of the quays were covered with vases of
flowers which shed forth their perfume even on the passers-by. At the
corners of the streets, or the ends of the bridges, the flower-girls,
seated behind screens of flowering plants, waved branches of lilac, as
if to embalm the town. In Julie's room the hearth was converted into a
mossy grotto; the consoles and tables had each their vases of
primroses, violets, lilies of the valley, and roses. Poor flowers,
exiles from the fields! Thus swallows who have heedlessly flown into a
room bruise their own wings against the walls, while announcing to the
poor inhabitants of dismal garrets the approach of April and its sunny
days. The perfume of the flowers penetrated to our hearts, and our
thoughts were brought back, under the impression of their fragrance and
the images it evoked, to that Nature in the midst of which we had been
so isolated and so happy. We had forgotten her while the days were
dark, the sky gloomy, and the horizon bounded. Shut up in a small room
where we were all in all to each other, we never thought that there was
another sky, another sun, another nature beyond our own. These fine,
sunny days, glimpses of which we caught from among the roofs of an
immense city, recalled them to our minds. They agitated and saddened
us; they inspired us with an invincible desire to contemplate and to
enjoy them in the forests and solitudes which surround Paris. It seemed
to us while indulging these irresistible longings, and projecting
distant walks together in the woods of Fontainebleau, Vincennes, St.
Germain, and Versailles, that we should be again, as it were, amid the
woods and waters of our Alpine valleys, that at least we should see the
same sun and the same shade and recognize the harmonious sighing of the
same winds in the branches.

Spring, which was restoring to the sky its transparency and to the
plants their sap, seemed also to give new youth and pulsation to
Julie's heart. The tint upon her cheeks was brighter; her eyes more
blue, their rays more penetrating. There was more emotion in the tone
of her voice; the languor of her frame was relieved by more frequent
sighs; there was more elasticity in her walk, more youthfulness in her
attitudes; even in the stillness of her chamber, a pleasant though
feverish agitation produced a petulant movement of her feet, and sent
the words more hurriedly to her lips. In the evening Julie would undraw
the curtains, and frequently lean forth from her window to take in the
freshness of the water, the rays of the moon, and the breath of the
fragrant breeze which swept along the valley of Meudon, and was wafted
even into the apartments on the quay.

"Oh, let us give," said I, "a joyous holiday to our hearts amid all our
happiness! Of all God's creatures for whom he reanimates his earth and
his heavens, let not us, the most feeling and the most grateful, be the
only beings for whom they shall have been reanimated in vain! Let us
together dive into that air, that light, that verdure; amid those
sprouting branches, in that flood of life and vegetation, which is even
now inundating the whole earth! Let us go, let us see if naught in the
works of his creation has grown old by the weight of an added day; if
naught in that enthusiasm, which sang and groaned, loved and lamented
within us, on the mountains and on the waters of Savoy, has been
lowered by one ripple or one note!" "Yes, let us go," said she. "We
shall neither feel more, nor love better, nor bless otherwise; but we
shall have made another sky and another spot of earth witness the
happiness of two poor mortals. That temple of our love which was in our
loved mountains only will then be wherever I shall have wandered and
breathed with you." The old man encouraged these excursions to the fine
forests around Paris. He hoped, and the doctors led him to expect, that
the air laden with life, the influence of the sun, which strengthens
all things, with moderate exercise in the open fields, might invigorate
the too sensitive delicacy of Julie's nerves and give elasticity to her
heart. Every sunny day, during the five weeks of early spring, I came
at noon to fetch her. We entered a close carriage in order to avoid the
inquisitive looks and light observations of any of her acquaintances
whom we might chance to meet, or the remarks that even strangers might
have made on seeing so young and lovely a woman alone with a man of my
age; for we were not sufficiently alike to pass for brother and sister.
We left the carriage on the skirts of the woods, at the foot of the
hills, or at the gates of the parks in the environs of Paris, and
sought out at Fleury, at Meudon, at Sèvres, at Satory, and at Vincennes
the longest and most solitary paths, carpeted with turf and flowers,
untrodden by horses' hoofs, except perhaps on the day of a royal hunt.
We never met any one, save a few children or poor women busy with their
knives digging up endive. Occasionally a startled doe would rustle
through the leaves, and springing across the path, after a glance at
us, dive into the thicket. We walked in silence, sometimes preceding
each other, sometimes arm in arm, or we talked of the future, of the
delight it would be to possess one out of all these untenanted acres,
with a keeper's lodge under one of the old oaks. We dreamed aloud. We
picked violets and the wild periwinkle, which we interchanged as
hieroglyphics and preserved in the smooth leaves of the hellebore. To
each of these flowery letters we linked a meaning, a remembrance, a
look, a sigh, a prayer. We kept them to reperuse when parted; they were
destined to recall each precious moment of these blissful hours.

We often sat in the shade by the side of the path, and opened a book
which we tried to read; but we could never turn the first leaf, and
ever preferred reading in ourselves the inexhaustible pages of our own
feelings. I went to fetch milk and brown bread from some neighboring
farm; we ate, seated on the grass, throwing the remains of the cup to
the ants, and the crumbs of bread to the birds. At sunset we returned
to the tumultuous ocean of Paris, the noise and crowd of which jarred
upon our hearts. I left Julie, excited by the enjoyment of the day, at
her own door, and then went back, overcome with happiness, to my
solitary room, the walls of which I would strike and bid them crumble,
that I might be restored to the light, Nature, and love which they shut
out. I dined without relish, read without understanding; I lighted my
lamp and waited, reckoning the hours as they passed, till the evening
was far enough advanced for me to venture again to her door, and renew
the enjoyment of the morning.



LXXXVI.


The next day we recommenced our wanderings. Ah, in those forests, how
many trees, marked by my knife, bear on their roots or bark a sign by
which I shall ever recognize them! They are those whose shade she
enjoyed; those beneath which she breathed new life, basked in the
warmth of the sun, or inhaled the sweet vernal scent of the trees. The
stranger sees, but dreams not that they are to another the pillars of a
temple, whose worshipper is on earth though its divinity is in heaven.
I still visit them once or twice each spring, on the anniversaries of
these walks; and when the axe lays one low, it seems to me as though it
falls upon myself, and carries away a portion of my heart.



LXXXVII.


On one of the highest and most generally solitary summits of the park
of St. Cloud, where the rounded hill descends in two separate slopes,
one towards the valley of Sèvres, and the other towards the hollow
where the Château stands, there is an open space where three long
avenues meet. From thence the eye discovers from afar the rare
passengers that intrude on the solitude of the place. The hill, like a
promontory, overlooks the plain of Issy, the course of the Seine, and
the road to Versailles; its summit, clothed and overshaded by the
forest which fills up the triangular intervals between the three
avenues, appears like the rounded basin of a lake of which grass and
foliage are the billows. If one looks towards Sèvres, one sees only a
long and sloping meadow stretching down towards the river like a
verdant and undulating cascade, which, after a rapid descent, loses
itself at the bottom of the valley in dark masses of thickets stocked
with deer. Beyond these thickets, on the other side of the Seine, the
blue slated roofs of Meudon, and the waving tops of the majestic trees
of its park, stand out in the blue summer sky. We often came to sit on
this hill, which has all the elevation of a promontory, the silence and
shade of a valley, and the solitude of a desert. The lungs play freer
there; the ear is less disturbed by the sounds of earth; the soul can
better wing its flight beyond the horizon of this life.

We went there one morning early in May, at the hour when the forest is
peopled only by the deer, which bound and skip in its lonely paths. Now
and then a gamekeeper crosses the extremity of one of the avenues, like
a black speck on the horizon. We sat down under the seventh tree of the
semi-circle round the open space, looking towards the meadows of
Sèvres. Centuries have been required to frame that sturdy oak, and to
bend its gnarled branches; its roots, swelling with sap to nourish and
support its trunk, have burst through the sod at its feet, and form a
moss-covered seat, of which the oak is the back, and its lower leaves
the natural canopy. The morning was as serene and transparent as the
waters of the sea at sunrise under the green headlands of the islands
of the Archipelago. The ardent rays of an almost summer sun fell from
the clear sky on the wooded hill, and then rose again from out of the
thickets in exhalations warm as the waves which expire in the shade
after having imbibed the sunshine. There was no other sound than that
of the fall of some dry leaves of the preceding winter, which, as the
sap rose and throbbed, fell at the foot of the tree, to make room for
the new and tender foliage. Whole flights of birds dashed against the
branches round their nests, and there was one vague, universal hum of
insects that revelled in the light, and rose and fell, like a living
dust, at the least undulation of the flowering grass.



LXXXVIII.


There was so much sympathy between our youth and the youthful year and
day; such entire harmony between the light, the heat, the splendor, the
silence, the gentle sounds, the pensive delights of Nature and our own
sensations; we felt so delightfully mingled with the surrounding air
and sky, life and repose; we were so completely all to each other in
this solitude,--that our exuberant but satisfied thoughts and
sensations sufficed us. We did not even seek for words to express them;
but were as the full vase, whose very plenitude renders its contents
motionless. Our hearts could hold no more; but they were capacious
enough to contain all, and nothing sought to escape from them. Our
breathing was scarcely audible.

I know not how long we remained thus seated at the foot of the oak,
mute and motionless beside one another, our faces buried in our hands,
our feet in sunshine on the grass, our heads in shade; but when I
raised my eyes the shadows had retreated before us on the grass, beyond
the folds of Julie's dress. I looked at her, she raised her face as if
by the same impulse which had made me raise mine; and gazing at me
without saying a word, she burst into tears. "Why do you weep?" I asked
with anxious emotion, but in a low tone for fear of disturbing or
diverting the course of her silent thoughts. "From happiness," she
answered. Her lips smiled, while big tears rolled down her cheeks in
shining drops, like the dew of spring. "Yes, from happiness," she
resumed. "This day, this hour, this sky, this spot, this peace, this
silence, this solitude with you, this complete assimilation of our two
souls, which no longer require to converse to comprehend each other,
which breathe in the same aspiration is too much,--too much for mortal
nature that excess of joy may kill, as excess of grief, and which, when
it can draw no cry from the heart, grieves that it cannot sigh, and
mourns that it cannot praise sufficiently."

She stopped for an instant; her cheeks were flushed. I trembled lest
death should seize her in her joy; but her voice soon reassured me.
"Raphael! Raphael!" she exclaimed in a solemn tone, which surprised me,
as if she had been announcing some good tidings, long and anxiously
expected,--"Raphael, there is a God!" "How has he been revealed to you
to-day more clearly than any other day?" I asked. "By love," she
answered, raising slowly to heaven the orbs of her bright, glistening
eyes; "yes, by love, whose torrents have flowed in my heart just now
with a murmuring, gushing fulness that I had never felt before with the
same force, nor yet the same repose. No, I no longer doubt," she
continued in a tone where certitude mingled with joy; "the spring
whence such felicity is poured upon the soul cannot be here below, nor
can it lose itself in this earth after having once gushed forth! There
is a God; there is an eternal love, of which ours is but a drop. We
will together mingle it one day with the divine ocean whence we drew
it! That ocean is God! I see it; feel it; understand it in this instant
by my happiness! Raphael, it is no longer you I love; it is no longer I
you love,--it is God we henceforth adore in one another; you in me, and
I in you, both, in these tears of bliss which reveal to us, and yet
conceal, the immortal fountain of our hearts! Away," she added, with a
still more ardent tone and look,--"away with all the vain names by
which we have hitherto called our attraction towards each other. I know
but one to express it; it is the one which has just been revealed to me
in your eyes: God! God! God!" she exclaimed once more, as though she
had wished to teach her lips a new language. "God is in you; God is in
me for you! God is us; and henceforward the feelings which oppressed us
will no longer be love, but a holy and rapturous adoration! Raphael, do
you understand me? You will no longer be Raphael, you will be my
worship of God!"

We rose in a transport of enthusiasm; we embraced the tree, and blessed
it for the inspiration which had descended from its boughs; we gave it
a name, and called it the tree of adoration.

We then slowly descended the hill of St. Cloud to return to the noise
and turmoil of Paris; but she returned with new-found faith and the
knowledge of God in her heart, and I with the joy of knowing that she
now possessed a bright and inward source of consolation, hope and
peace.



LXXXIX.


In a very short time, the expense I was obliged to incur but which I
concealed from Julie, in order to accompany her on our daily country
excursions, had so far exhausted the proceeds of the sale of my
mother's last diamond that I had only ten louis left. When each night I
reckoned over the limited number of happy days represented by that
small sum, I was seized with fits of despondency, but I should have
blushed to confess my excessive poverty to her I loved. Though far from
wealthy she would have wished to share with me all she possessed, and
that would have degraded our intercourse in my eyes. I valued my love
more than life, but I would rather have died than have debased my love.

The sedentary life I had led all the winter in my dismal room, my
intense application to study all day, the tension of my thoughts
towards one object, the want of sleep at night, but, above all, the
moral exhaustion of a heart too weak to bear a continuous ecstasy of
ten months, had undermined my constitution. A consuming flame, which
burned unfed, shone through my wan and pale face. Julie implored me to
leave Paris, to try the effect of my native air, and to preserve my
life, even at the expense of her happiness. She sent me her doctor, to
add the authority of science to the entreaties of her love. Her doctor,
or rather her friend, Dr. Alain, was one of those men who carry a
blessing with them, and whose countenance seems to reflect Heaven by
the bedside of the sick poor they visit. He was himself suffering from
a complaint of the heart brought on by a pure and mysterious passion
for one of the loveliest women in Paris.

He was active, humane, pious, and tolerant, and possessing a small
fortune sufficient for his simple wants and charities, practiced only
for a few friends or for the poor. His physic was friendship or charity
in action. The medical career is so admirable when divested of all
cupidity, it brings so much into play the better feelings of our
nature, that it often ends by being a virtue after commencing as a
profession, With Dr. Alain it was more than a virtue; it had become a
passion for relieving the woes of the body and of the soul, which are
often so closely linked! Where Alain brought life, he also took God
with him, and made even Death resplendent with serenity and
immortality.

I saw him, too, die, some years later, the death of the righteous and
the just. He had learned how to die at many deathbeds; and when
stretched motionless on his, during six months of agony, his eye
counted on a little clock, which stood at the foot of his bed, the
hours that divided him from eternity. He pressed upon his bosom, with
his crossed hands, a crucifix, emblem of patience, and his look never
quitted that celestial friend, as though he had conversed at the foot
of the cross. When he suffered beyond his powers of endurance he
requested that the crucifix might be approached to his lips, and his
prayers were then mingled with thanksgiving. At last he slept,
supported to the end by his hopes and the memory of the good he had
done. He had given the poor and the sick an accumulated treasure of
good works to carry before him into the presence of the God of the
merciful. He died on a wretched bed in a garret, leaving no
inheritance. The poor bore his body to the grave, and, in their turn,
gave him the burial of charity in the common earth. O blessed soul,
that in memory, I still see smiling on that kind countenance, lighted
with inward joy, can so much virtue have been to thee but a deception?
Hast thou vanished like the reflection of my lamp upon thy portrait,
when my hand withdraws the light that allowed me to contemplate it? No,
no; God is faithful, and cannot have deceived thee, who wouldst not
have deceived a child!



XC.


The doctor took a deep and friendly interest in me. It seemed as if
Julie had imparted to him a portion of her tenderness. He understood my
complaint, though he concealed his knowledge from me, and was too
deeply read in human passion not to recognize its symptoms in us. He
ordered me to depart under penalty of death, and induced Julie herself
to enforce his commands by communicating to her his fears. He invoked
the tender authority of love to tear me from love. He tried to mitigate
the pang of separation by the allurement of hope, and ordered me to
breathe some time my native air, and then return to the baths of Savoy,
where Julie should join me, by his advice, in the beginning of autumn.
His principles did not seem startled by the symptoms of mutual passion
which he had not failed to perceive between us. Our pure flame was in
his eyes a fault, but it was also its own purification. His countenance
only expressed the indulgence of man, and the compassion of God. He
thus endeavored to save us by loosening the tie which threatened to
draw us to one common death. I at length consented to be the first to
depart, and Julie swore to follow me soon. Alas, her tears, her pale
face, and trembling lips said more than any vows! It was settled that I
should leave Paris as soon as my strength permitted me to travel. The
eighteenth of May was the day fixed for my departure.

When once we had resolved on our approaching separation we began to
reckon the minutes as hours, the hours as days. We would have amassed
and concentrated years into the short space of a second, to wrest from
time the happiness from which we were to be debarred during so many
months. These days were days of rapture, but they had their anguish and
their agony; the approaching morrow cast its gloom upon each interview,
each look and word, each pressure of the hand. Joys such as these are
not joys, but disguised pangs of love and tortures of the heart. We
devoted the whole day preceding my departure to our adieus. We wished
not to say our last farewell within the shadow of walls, which weigh
down the soul, or beneath the eyes of the indifferent, which throw back
the feelings on the heart, but beneath the sky, in the open air, in the
light, in solitude, and in silence. Nature sympathizes with all the
emotions of man; she understands, and, as an invisible confidant, seems
to share them. She garners them in heaven, and renders them divine.



XCI.


In the morning, a carriage, which I had hired for the day, conveyed us
to Monceau. The windows were down, the blinds closed. We traversed the
almost deserted streets of the more elevated parts of Paris, leading to
the high walls of the park. This garden was at that time almost
exclusively reserved for their own use by the princes to whom it
belonged, and could only be entered on presenting tickets of admission,
which were very parsimoniously distributed to a few foreigners or
travellers desirous of admiring its wonderful vegetation. I had
obtained some of these tickets, through one of my mother's early
friends who was attached to the prince's household. I had selected this
solitude because I knew its owners were absent, that no admissions were
then given, and that the very gardeners would be away enjoying the
leisure of a holiday.

This magnificent desert, studded with groves of trees, interspersed
with meadows, and traversed by limpid streams, is also embellished by
monuments, columns, and ivy-covered ruins, imitations of time in which
art has copied the old age of stone. That day we knew it would be
visited only by the bright sunbeams, the insects, the birds, and us.
Alas, never were its leaves and its green turf to be watered by so many
tears!

The warm and glowing sky, the light and shade dancing fitfully on the
grass driven by the summer breeze, as the shadow of the wings of one
bird pursuing another; the clear note of the nightingale ringing
through the sonorous air; the distinctness with which the lilies of the
valley, the daisies, and the blue periwinkles which carpeted the
sloping banks of the clear waters, were reflected in their polished
mirror,--all this gladness of Nature saddened us, and this luminous
serenity of a spring morning only seemed to contrast the more with the
dark cloud which weighed upon our hearts. In vain we sought to deceive
ourselves even for a moment by expatiating on the beauty of the
landscape, the brilliant tints of the flowers, the perfumes of the air,
the depth of the shade, the stillness of those solitudes in which the
happiness of a whole world of love might have been sheltered. We
carelessly threw on them an unheeding glance, which quickly fell to the
ground; our voices, when answering with their vain formulas of joy and
admiration, betrayed the hollowness of words and the absence of our
thoughts, which were elsewhere. It was in vain we sought a
resting-place to pass the long hours of this our last interview;
seating ourselves alternately beneath the most fragrant lilacs, or the
green branches of the loftiest cedars, on the fluted fragments of
columns half-buried in ivy, or by the side of those waters that lay
most still within their grassy banks, for scarcely had we chosen one of
these sites when some vague disquietude drove us away in search of
another. Here it was the shade, and there the light; further on, the
importunate murmur of the cascade, or the persisting song of the
nightingale over our heads,--that turned into bitterness all this
exuberance of joy, and made it odious in our eyes. When our heart is
sad within us, all creation jars upon our feelings, and it could but
have added fresh pangs to the grief of two lovers, had the garden of
Eden been the scene of their parting.

At last, worn out by wandering for two hours, and finding no shelter
against ourselves, we sat down near a small bridge across a stream; a
little apart, as if the very sound of each other's breathing had been
painful, or as if we had wished instinctively to conceal from one
another the suppressed sobs which were bursting from our hearts. We
long watched abstractedly the green and slimy water as it was slowly
swept beneath the narrow arch of the bridge. It carried along on its
surface sometimes the white petals of the lily, and sometimes an empty
and downy bird's nest which the wind had blown from a tree. We soon saw
the body of a poor little swallow, turned on its back, and with
extended wings, floating down. It had, doubtless, been drowned when
skimming over the water before its wings were strong enough to bear it
on the surface; it reminded us of the swallow which had one day fallen
at our feet, from the top of the dismantled tower of the old castle on
the borders of the lake, and which had saddened us as an omen. The dead
bird passed slowly before us, and the unruffled sheet of water rolled
and engulfed it in the deep darkness below the bridge. When the bird
had disappeared, we saw another swallow pass and repass a hundred times
beneath the bridge, uttering its little sharp cry of distress, and
dashing against the wooden beams of the arch. Involuntarily we looked
at each other; I cannot tell what our eyes expressed as they met, but
the despair of the poor bird found us with our eyelids so overcharged,
and our hearts so nearly bursting, that we both turned away at the same
moment, and throwing ourselves with our faces to the ground, sobbed
aloud. One tear called forth another tear, one thought another thought,
one foreboding another foreboding, each sob another sob. We often
strove to speak, but the broken voice of the one only made that of the
other still more inaudible, and we ended by yielding to nature, and
pouring forth in silence, during hours marked by the shadows alone, all
the tears that rose from their hidden springs. They fell on the grass,
sank into the earth, were dried by the winds of heaven, absorbed by the
rays of the sun,--God took them into account! No drop of anguish
remained in our hearts when we rose face to face though almost hidden
from each other by the tearful veil of our eyes. Such was our
farewell,--a funereal image, an ocean of tears, an eternal silence.
Thus we parted without another look, lest that look should strike us to
the earth. Never will the mark of my footsteps be again traced in that
desert scene of our love and of our parting.



XCII.


The next morning I was rolling along, sad and silent, wrapped in my
cloak, among the barren hills on the road that leads from Paris towards
the south. I was stowed away in a public coach, with five or six
unknown fellow-travellers who were gayly discussing the quality of the
wine and the price of the last dinner at the inn. I never once opened
my lips during that long, sad journey.

My mother received me with that serene and resigned tenderness which
might have made even misfortune happy in her company. Her diamond had
been spent in vain to advance my fortunes; and I returned home, with
shattered health and broken hopes, consumed with melancholy that she
attributed to my unoccupied youth and restless imagination, but of
which I carefully concealed the real cause, for fear of adding an
irremediable sorrow to all her other griefs.

I spent the summer alone in an almost deserted valley enclosed between
barren hills, where my father had a little farm, which was worked by a
poor family. My mother had sent me there, and commended me to the care
of these good people, that I might have a change of air and the benefit
of milk diet. My whole occupation was to reckon the days which must
intervene before I could join Julie in our dear Alpine valley. Her
letters, received and replied to daily, confirmed me in my security,
and dispelled, by their sportive gayety and caressing words, the gloomy
and sinister forebodings our last farewell had raised in my heart. Now
and then some desponding word or expression of sadness which seemed to
have unguardedly escaped, or been involuntarily overlooked among her
vistas of happiness, as a dry leaf in the midst of the foliage of
spring, struck me as being in contradiction with the calm and blooming
health she spoke of. But I attributed these discrepancies to some
vision of memory or to her impatience at the slowness of time which
might have flitted like shadows across the paper as she wrote.

The bracing mountain air, sleep at night, and exercise by day, the
healthy employment of working in the garden and in the farm, soon
restored me to health; but, above all, the approach of autumn, and the
certainty of soon seeing her once more who by her looks would give me
life. The only remaining trace of my sufferings was a gentle and
pensive melancholy which overspread my countenance; it was as the mist
of a summer's morning. My silence seemed to conceal some mystery, and
my instinctive love of solitude made the superstitious peasants of the
mountains believe that I conversed with the Genii of the woods.

All ambition had been extinguished in me by my love. I had made up my
mind for life to my hopeless poverty and obscurity, and my mother's
serene and pious resignation had entered into my heart with her holy
and gentle words. I only indulged the dream of working during ten or
eleven months of the year manually, or with my pen to earn sufficiently
thereby to spend a month or two with Julie every year. I thought that
if the old man's protection were one day to fail, I would devote myself
to her service as a slave, like Rousseau to Madame de Warens; we would
take shelter in some secluded cottage of these mountains, or in the
well-known chalets of our Savoy; I would live for her, as she would
live for me, without looking back with regret to the empty world, and
asking of love no other reward than the happiness of loving.



XCIII.


I was, however, often recalled harshly from my dreamy region by the
cruel penury of my home, which was partly attributable to the
unavailing expense incurred for me. Crops had failed during successive
years, and reverses of fortune had changed the humble mediocrity of my
parents into comparative want. When on Sundays I went to see my mother,
she spoke of her distress, and before me shed tears that she concealed
from my father and my sisters. I, too, was reduced to extreme
destitution. I lived at the little farm on brown bread, milk, and eggs,
and had in secret sold successively in the neighboring town all the
books and clothes I had brought from Paris, to procure wherewithal to
pay the postage of Julie's letters, for which I would have sold my
life's blood.

The month of September was drawing to a close. Julie wrote me that her
anxiety on the score of her husband's daily declining health (O pious
fraud of love to conceal her own sufferings and lighten my cares) would
detain her longer in Paris than she had expected. She pressed me to
start at once, and await her in Savoy, where she would join me without
fail towards the end of October. The letter was one of tender advice,
as that of a sister to a beloved brother. She implored and ordered me,
with the sovereign authority of love, to beware of that insidious
disease which lurks beneath the flowery surface of youth, and often
withers and consumes us at the very moment we think that we have
overcome its power. Enclosed, she sent a consultation and a
prescription from good Dr. Alain, ordering me in the most imperative
terms, and with most alarming threats, to remain during a long season
at the baths of Aix. I showed this prescription to my mother, to
account for my departure, and she was so disquieted by it that she
added her entreaties to the injunctions of the doctor to induce me to
go. Alas! I had in vain applied to a few friends as poor as myself, and
to some pitiless usurers, to obtain the trifling sum of twelve louis
required for my journey. My father had been absent six months, and my
mother would on no account have aggravated his distress and anxiety by
asking him for money. In borrowing he would have exposed his poverty,
by which he was already too much humbled. I had made up my mind to
start with two or three louis only in my purse, in the hope of
borrowing the remainder from my friend L----, at Chambéry; when, a few
days before my departure, my mother, during a sleepless night, had
found in her heart a resource that a mother's heart could alone have
furnished.



XCIV.


In one of the comers of the little garden that surrounded our house
there stood a cluster of trees, comprising a few evergreen oaks, two or
three lime trees, and seven or eight twisted elms, which were the
remains of a wood, planted centuries ago, and had, doubtless, been
respected as the _local Genius_ when the hill had been cleared, the
house built, and the garden first walled in. These lofty trees in
summer time served as a family saloon, in the open air. Their buds in
spring, their tints in autumn, and their dry leaves in winter, which
were succeeded by the hoar frost hanging from their branches like white
hair, had marked the seasons for us. Their shadows, rolled back upon
their very feet, or stretched out to the grassy border around, told us
the hours better than a dial. Beneath their foliage our mother had
nursed us, lulled us to rest, and taught us our first steps. My father
sat there, book in hand, when he returned from shooting; his shining
gun suspended from a branch, his panting dogs crouching beneath the
bench. I, too, had spent there the fairest hours of my boyhood, with
Homer or Telemachus lying open on the grass before me. I loved to lie
flat on the warm turf, my elbows resting on the volume, of which a
passing fly or lizard would sometimes hide the lines. The nightingales
among the branches sang for our home, though we could never find their
nest, or even see the branch from which their song burst forth. This
grove was the pride, the recollection, the love of all. The idea of
converting it into a small bag of money, which would leave no memory in
the heart, no perpetual joy and shade, would have occurred to no one,
save to a mother, trembling with anxiety for the life of an only son.
My mother conceived the thought; and, with the readiness and firmness
of resolve that distinguished her, called for the woodcutters as soon
as morning came,--fearing lest she should feel remorse, or my
entreaties stop her, if she first consulted me. She saw the axe laid to
their roots, and wept, and turned away her head not to hear their moan,
or witness the fall of these leafy protectors of her youth on the
echoing and desolate soil of the garden.



XCV.


When I returned to M---- on the following Sunday, I looked round from
the top of the mountain for the clump of trees that stood out so
pleasantly on the hillside, screening from the sun a portion of the
gray wall of the house; and it seemed as a dream when in their wonted
place I perceived only heaps of hewn-down trunks whose barked and
bleeding branches strewed the earth around. A sawing-trestle stood
there like an instrument of torture, on which the saw with its grinding
teeth divided the trees. I hurried on with extended arms towards the
outer wall, and trembled as I opened the little garden door.... Alas!
the evergreen oak, one lime-tree, and the oldest elm alone were
standing, and the bench had been drawn in beneath their shade. "They
are sufficient," said my mother, as she advanced towards me, and, to
conceal her tears, threw herself into my arms; "the shade of one tree
is worth that of a whole forest. Besides, to me what shade can equal
yours? Do not be angry. I wrote to your father that the trees were
dying from the top, and that they were hurtful to the kitchen-garden.
Speak no more of them!"... Then leading me into the house, she opened
her desk and drew forth a bag half-filled with money. "Take this," she
said, "and go. The trees will have been amply paid me if you return
well and happy."

I blushed, and with a stifled sob took the bag. There were six hundred
francs in it, which I resolved to bring back untouched to my poor
mother.

I started on foot, like a sportsman, with leathern gaiters on my feet,
and my gun on my shoulder, and took from the bag only one hundred
francs, which I added to the little I had remaining from the proceeds
of my last sale. I could not bear to spend the price of the trees, and
therefore concealed the remainder of the money at the farm, that on my
return I might restore it to her who had so heroically torn it from her
heart for me. I ate and slept at the humblest inns in the villages
through which I passed, and was taken for a poor Swiss student
returning from the University of Strasbourg. I was never charged but
the strict value of the bread I ate, of the candle I burned, and of the
pallet on which I slept. I had brought but one book with me, which I
read at evening on the bench before the inn door; it was Werther, in
German; and the unknown characters confirmed my hosts in the idea that
I was a foreign traveller.

I thus wandered through the long and picturesque gorges of Bugey, and
crossed the Rhône at the foot of the rock of Pierre-Châtel. The
narrowed river eternally rushes past the base of this rock, with a
current wearing as the grindstone and cutting as the knife, as if to
undermine and overthrow the state-prison, whose gloomy shadow saddens
its waters. I slowly ascended the Mont du Chat by the paths of the
chamois-hunters; arrived at its summit, I perceived stretched out
before me in the distance the valleys of Aix, Chambéry, and Annecy; and
at my feet the lake, dappled with rosy tints by the floating rays of
the setting sun. One single image filled for me the immensity of this
horizon; it rose from the chalets where we had met; from the doctor's
garden, the pointed slate roof of whose house I could recognize above
the smoke of the town; from the fig-trees of the little castle of
Bon-Port at the bottom of the opposite creek; from the chestnut-trees
on the hill of Tresserves; from the woods of St. Innocent; from the
island of Châtillon; from the boats which were returning to their
moorings, from all this earth, from all this sky, from all these waves.
I fell on my knees before this horizon filled with one image. I spread
out my arms and folded them again, as if I could have embraced her
spirit by clasping the air which, had swept over these scenes of our
happiness, over all the traces of her footsteps.

I then sat down behind a rock which screened me even from the sight of
the goatherds, as they passed along the path. There I remained, sunk in
contemplation, and reveling in remembrances, till the sun was almost
dipping behind the snow-clad tops of Nivolex. I did not wish to cross
the lake, or enter the town by daylight, as the homeliness of my dress,
the scantiness of my purse, and the frugality of life to which I was
constrained, in order to live some months near Julie, would have seemed
strange to the inmates of the old doctor's house. They formed too great
a contrast with my elegance in dress and habits of life during the
preceding season. I should have made those blush whom I had accosted in
the streets, in the garb of one who had not even the means of locating
himself in a decent hotel in this abode of luxury. I had, therefore,
resolved to slip by night into the humble suburb, bordering a rivulet
which runs through the orchards below the town.

I knew there a poor young serving girl, called Fanchette, who had
married a boatman the year before. She had reserved some beds in the
garret of her cottage, that she might board and lodge one or two poor
invalids at fifteen sous a day. I had engaged one of these rooms, and a
place at the humble board of the good creature. My friend L----, to
whom I had written naming the day of my arrival on the borders of the
lake, had some days previously written to take my lodgings, and warn
Fanchette of my arrival, binding her to secrecy. I had also begged him
to receive, under cover to himself, at Chambéry, any letters that might
be addressed to me from Paris. He was to forward them to me by one of
the drivers of the light carts that run continually between the two
towns. I intended, during my stay at Aix, to remain in the daytime
concealed in my little cottage room, or in the surrounding orchards. I
would only, I thought, go out in the evening; I would go up to the
doctor's house by the skirts of the town; I would enter the garden by
the gate which opened on the country, and pass in delightful
intercourse the solitary evening hours. I would bear with pleasure want
and humiliation, which would be compensated a thousand fold by those
hours of love. I thought thus to conciliate the respect I owed to my
poor mother for the sacrifices she had made, with my devotion to the
idol I came to worship.



XCVI.


From a pious superstition of love, I had calculated my steps during my
long pedestrian journey, so as to arrive at the Abbey of Haute-Combe,
on the other side of the Mont du Chat, upon the anniversary of the day
that the miracle of our meeting, and the revelation of our two hearts,
had taken place in the fisherman's inn on the borders of the lake. It
seemed to me that days, like all other mortal things, had their
destiny, and that in the conjunction of the same sun, the same month,
the same date, and in the same spot, I might find something of her I
loved. It would be an augury, at least, of our speedy and lasting
reunion.



XCVII.


From the brink of the almost perpendicular sides of the Mont du Chat
that descend to the lake, I could see on my left the old ruins and the
lengthening shadows of the Abbey, which darkened a vast extent of the
waters. In a few minutes I reached the spot. The sun was sinking behind
the Alps, and the long twilight of autumn enveloped the mountains, the
waves, and the shore. I did not stop at the ruins, and passed rapidly
through the orchard where we had sat at the foot of the haystack, near
the bee-hives. The hives and the haystack were still there; but there
was no glow of fire lighting the windows of the little inn, no smoke
ascending from the roof, no nets hung out to dry on the palisades of
the garden.

I knocked, no one answered; I shook the wooden latch, and the door
opened of itself. I entered the little hall with the smoky walls; the
hearth was swept clean, even to the very ashes, and the table and
furniture had been removed. The flagstones of the pavement were strewed
with straws and feathers that had fallen from five or six empty
swallows' nests which hung from the blackened beams of the ceiling. I
went up the wooden ladder which was fastened to the wall by an iron
hook, and served to ascend into the upper room where Julie had awaked
from her swoon, with her hand on my forehead. I entered as one enters a
sanctuary or a sepulchre, and looked around; the wooden beds, the
presses, the stools were all gone. The sound of my footsteps frightened
a nocturnal bird of prey, that heavily flapped its wings, and after
beating against the walls, flew out with a shrill cry through the open
window into the orchard. I could scarcely distinguish the place where I
had knelt during that terrible and yet enchanting night, at the bedside
of the sleeper or of the dead. I kissed the floor, and sat for a long
while on the edge of the window, trying to evoke again in my memory the
room, the furniture, the bed, the lamp, the hours, which had kept their
place within me though all had been changed during a single year of
absence. There was no one in the lonely neighborhood of the cottage who
could furnish any information as to the cause of its being thus
deserted. I conjectured from the heaps of fagots which remained in the
yard, from the hens and pigeons which returned of themselves to roost
in the room, or on the roof, and from the stacks of hay and straw which
stood untouched in the orchard, that the family had gone to gather in a
late harvest in the high chalets of the mountain, and had not yet come
down again.

The solitude of which I had thus taken possession was sad; not so sad,
however, as the presence of the indifferent in a spot that was sacred
in my eyes. I must have controlled before them my looks, my voice, my
gestures, and the impressions that assailed me. I resolved to pass the
night there, and brought up a bundle of fresh straw, which I spread on
the floor, on the same spot where Julie had slept her death-like sleep.
Resting my gun against the wall, I then took out of my knapsack some
bread and a goat cheese that I had bought at Seyssel to support me on
the road, and went out to eat my supper on a green platform above the
ruins of the Abbey, by the side of the spring which flows and stops
alternately, like the intermittent breathing of the mountain.



XCVIII.


From the edge of that platform, and from the dismantled terraces of the
old monastery, at evening time, the eye embraces the most enchanting
horizon that ever delighted an anchorite, a contemplator, or a lover.
Behind is the green and humid shade of the mountain, with the murmur of
its source, and the rustling of its foliage; and on one side the ruins,
the broken walls, with their garlands of ivy, and the dark arcades
replete with night and mystery; the lake, with its expiring waves
slowly rolling, one by one, their fringes of spray at the foot of the
rocks, as if to spread its couch and lull its sleep on the fine sands.
On the opposite shore, the blue mountains clothed with their
transparent tints; and on the right, as far as the eye can reach, the
luminous track that the sun leaves in crimson light on the sky and on
the lake, when it withdraws its splendor. I revelled in this light and
shade, in these clouds and waves. I incorporated myself with lovely
Nature, and thought thus to incorporate in me the image of her who was
all nature for me. I inwardly said I saw her there. I was at that
distance from her boat when I saw it struggling against the storm.
There is the shore where she landed; there is the orchard where we
opened our hearts to each other in the sunshine, and where she returned
to life to give me two lives. There in the distance are the tops of the
poplars of the great avenue which unrolls its length like a green
serpent issuing from the waves. There are the chalets, mossy turf, and
woods of chestnut-tree, the sheltered paths upon the highest
mountain-planes where I picked flowers, strawberries, and chestnuts to
fill her lap. There she said this; there I confessed some secret of my
soul; and on that spot we remained a whole evening silent, our hearts
flooded with enthusiasm, our lips without language. Upon these waves
she wished to die; upon this shore she promised me to live. Beneath
yonder group of walnut-trees, then leafless, she bid me farewell, and
promised me that I should see her again before the new leaves should
have turned yellow. They are about to change; but love is faithful as
Nature. In a few days I shall see her once more.... I see her already;
for am I not here awaiting her? and thus to wait, is it not as though I
saw her again?



XCIX.


Then I pictured to myself the instant when, from the shady orchards
that slope down from the mountains behind the old doctor's house, I
should see at last that window of the closed room where she was
expected,--to see it open for the first time, and a woman's face,
half-hidden in its long dark hair, appear between the open curtains,
dreaming of that brother whom her eye seeks in the glorious landscape,
where she, too, sees but him.... And at that image my heart beat so
impetuously in my breast that I was forced to drive away the fancy for
an instant, in order to breathe.

In the meantime night had almost entirely descended from the mountain
to the lake. One could only see the waters through a mist that glazed
and darkened their wide expanse. Amid the profound and universal
silence which precedes darkness, the regular sound of oars which seemed
to approach land smote upon my ear. I soon saw a little speck moving on
the waters, and increasing gradually in size until it slid into the
little cove near the fisherman's house, throwing on either side a light
fringe of spray. Thinking that it might be the fisherman returning from
the Savoy coast to his deserted dwelling, I hurried down from the ruins
to the shore, to be there when the boat came in. I waited on the sand
till the fisherman landed.



C.


As soon as he saw me, he cried out, "Are you, sir, the young Frenchman
who is expected at Fanchette's, and to whom I have been ordered to give
these papers?" So saying, he jumped out of the boat, and, wading
knee-deep through the water, handed me a thick letter. I felt by its
weight that it was an enclosure containing many others. I hastily tore
open the first cover, and read indistinctly in the dim moonlight a note
from my friend L---, dated that same morning from Chambéry. L----
informed me that my lodging was taken and prepared for me at
Fanchette's poor house in the Faubourg, and that no one had yet arrived
from Paris at our old friend the doctor's. He added, that, having
learned from myself that I should be that same evening at Haute-Combe
to spend the night and a part of the following day, he had taken
advantage of the departure of a trusty boatman who was to pass beneath
the Abbey walls, to send me a packet of letters, which had arrived two
days before, and that I was doubtless eagerly expecting. He purposed
joining me at Haute-Combe the following day, that we might cross the
lake together, and enter the town under the shadow of night.



CI.


While my eye glanced over the note, I held the packet with a trembling
hand. It seemed to me heavy as my fate. I hastened to pay and dismiss
the boatman, who was impatient to be off so as to leave the lake and
enter the waters of the Rhone before dark. I only asked him for a piece
of candle, to enable me to read my letters; he gave it, and I soon
heard the strokes of his oars, as they once more cut through the deep
sheet of water. I returned overjoyed to the upper room, to see once
more the sacred characters of that angel in the very place where she
had first revealed herself to me in all her splendor and in all her
love. I felt sure that one of those letters must inform me that she had
left Paris and would soon be with me. I sat down on the bundle of straw
which I had brought up for my bed, and lighted my candle by means of
the priming of my gun. I hastily tore open the cover, and it was only
then that I perceived that the seal of the first envelope was black,
and that the address was in the handwriting of Dr. Alain. I shuddered
as I saw mourning where I had expected to find joy. The other letters
slid from my hands onto my knees. I dared not read on for fear of
finding--alas! what neither hand, nor eye, nor blood, nor tears, nor
earth, nor Heaven could evermore efface--Death!... Though my very soul
trembled so as to make the syllables dance before my eyes, I read at
last these words:

"Prove yourself a man! Submit yourself to the will of Him whose ways
are not our ways; expect her no longer! ... Look for her no more on
earth, she has returned to heaven, calling on your name.... Thursday at
sunrise.... She told me all before she died; ... she directed me to
send you her last thoughts, which she wrote down till the very instant
her hand grew cold while tracing your name.... Love her in Christ, who
loved us unto death, and live for your mother!

"ALAIN."



CII.


I fell back senseless on the straw, and only recovered consciousness
when the cold air of midnight chilled my brow. The light was still
burning, and the doctor's letter was grasped convulsively in my hand.
The untouched packet had fallen on the floor; I opened it with my lips,
as if I feared to profane the heavenly message by breaking the seal
with my fingers. Several long letters from Julie fell out; they were
arranged according to dates.

In the-first there was: "Raphael! O my Raphael! O my brother! forgive
your sister for having so long deceived you.... I never hoped to see
you once more in Savoy.... I knew that my days were numbered, and that
I could not live on till that day of happiness.... When I said at the
gate of the garden of Monceau, 'We shall meet again,' Raphael, you did
not understand me, but God did. I meant to say, 'We shall meet again,
once more to love, to bless eternally, in heaven!' I begged Dr. Alain
to aid me in deceiving you, and sending you away from Paris. It was my
wish, it was my duty, to spare you such a sight of anguish as would
have torn your heart asunder, and would have been too much for your
strength.... And then again--forgive me, I must tell you all--I did not
wish you to see me die.... I wish to spread a veil between us some time
before death.... Cold death!--I feel it, see it, and shudder at myself
in death! Raphael, I sought to leave an image of beauty in your eyes,
that you might ever contemplate and adore! But now, you must not go,
... to await me in Savoy! Yet a little while--two or three days
perhaps--and you need seek me nowhere! But I shall be there, Raphael! I
shall be everywhere, and always where you are."

This letter had been moistened with tears, which had unglazed and
stiffened the paper.

In the other, dated the following night, I read:--

"Midnight.

"Raphael, your prayers have drawn down a blessing from Heaven upon me.
I thought yesterday of the tree of adoration at St. Cloud, at whose
foot I saw God through your soul. But there is another holier
tree,--the Cross!... I have embraced it ... I will cling to it
evermore.... Oh, how that divine blood cleanses! how those divine tears
purify!... Yesterday I sent for a holy priest of whom Alain had spoken.
He is an old man who knows everything; who forgives all! I have
discovered my soul to him, and he has shed on it the love and light of
God.... How good is God! how indulgent, how full of loving kindness!
How little we know of him! He suffers me to love you, to have you for
my brother, to be your sister here below, if I live; your guardian
angel above, if I die! O Raphael, let us love him, since he permits
that we should love each other as we do!"...

At the end of the letter there was a little cross traced, and, as it
were, the impress of a kiss all around.



CIII.


There was another letter written in a totally altered hand, where the
characters crossed and mingled on the page, as if traced in the dark,
which said:--

"Raphael, I must say one word more--to-morrow, perhaps, I could not.
When I am dead, oh, do not die! I shall watch over you from above; I
shall be good and powerful, as the loving God, to whom I shall be
united, is good and powerful. After me, you must love again.... God
will send you another sister, who will be, moreover, the pious helpmate
of your life.... I will myself ask it of him.... Fear not to grieve my
soul, Raphael!... I--could I be jealous in heaven of your happiness?...
I feel better now I have said this. Alain will forward these lines to
you, and a lock of my hair.... I am going to sleep."...

One letter more, almost illegible, contained only these interrupted
lines: "Raphael! Raphael! where are you? I have had strength to get out
of bed.... I have told the nurse that I wished to be left alone to
rest. I have dragged myself along to the table, where I am writing by
the light of the lamp.... But I can see no more; ...my eyes swim in
darkness; ... black spots flit across the paper; ... Raphael! I can no
longer write.... Oh, one word more!"...

Then, in large letters, like those of a child trying to write for the
first time, there are two words which occupy a whole line, filling the
bottom of the page. "Farewell, Raphael!"



CIV.


All the letters fell from my hands. I was sobbing without tears, when I
perceived another little note in the handwriting of the old man, her
husband; it had slid between the pages as I was unsealing the first
envelope.

There were only these words: "She breathed her last, her hand in mine,
a few hours after writing you her last farewell. I have lost my
daughter.... Be my son for the few days I have yet to live. She is
there upon her bed, as if asleep, with an expression on her features of
one whose last thought smiled at seeing something beyond our world. She
never was so lovely; and as I look on her I require to believe in
immortality.... I loved you through her; for her sake love me!"



CV.


How strange, and yet how fortunate for human nature, is the
impossibility of immediately believing in the complete disappearance of
a much-loved being! Though the evidence of her death lay scattered
around, I could not believe that I was forever separated from her. Her
remembrance, her image, her features, the sound of her voice, the
peculiar turn of her expressions, the charm of her countenance, were so
present, and, as it were, so incorporate in me, that she seemed more
than ever with me; she appeared to envelop me, to converse with me, to
call me by my name, as though I could have risen to meet her, and to
see her once more. God leaves a space between the certainty of our loss
and the consciousness of reality, like the interval which our senses
measure between the instant when the eye sees the axe fall on the tree
and the sound in our ear of the same blow long after. This distance
deadens grief by cheating it. For some time after losing those we love,
we have not completely lost them; we live on by the prolongation of
their life in us. We feel as when we have been long watching the
setting sun,--though its orb has sunk below the horizon, its rays are
not set in our eyes; they still shine on our soul. It is only
gradually, and as our impressions become more distinct as they cool,
that we are made to know the complete and heartfelt separation,--that
we can say, she is dead in me! For death is not death, but oblivion.

This phenomenon of grief was shown in its full force in me during that
night. God suffered me not to drain at one draught my cup of woe, lest
it should overwhelm my very soul. He vouchsafed to me the delusive
belief, which. I long retained, of her inward presence. In me, before
me, and around me, I saw that heavenly being who had been sent to me
for one single year, to direct my thoughts and looks forevermore
towards the heaven to which she returned in her spring of youth and
love.

When the poor boatman's candle was burned out, I took up my letters and
hid them in my bosom. I kissed a thousand times the floor of the room
which had been the cradle, and was now the tomb, of our love. I
unconsciously took my gun, and rushed wildly through the mountain
passes. The night was dark; the wind had risen. The waves of the lake,
dashing against the rocks, lashed them with such hollow blows, and sent
forth sounds so like to human voices, that many times I stopped
breathless, and turned round, as if I had been called by name. Yes, I
was called; and I was not mistaken; but the voice came from heaven!...



CVI.


You know, my friend, who found me the next morning, wandering among
precipices, in the mists of the Rhône; who raised me up, supported me,
and brought me back to my poor mother's arms....

Now fifteen years have rolled by without sweeping away in their course
a single memory of that one great year of my youth. According to
Julie's promise to send me from above one who should comfort me, God
has exchanged his gift for another; he has not withdrawn it. I often
return to visit the valley of Chambéry and the lake of Aix, with her
who has made my hopes patient and tranquil as felicity. When I sit on
the heights of the hill of Tresserves, at the foot of those
chestnut-trees that have felt her heart beat against their bark; when I
look at the lake, the mountains, snows and meadows, trees and jagged
rocks, swimming in a warm atmosphere which seems to bathe all nature in
one perfumed liquid; when I hear the sighing breeze, the humming
insects, and the quivering leaves, the waves of the lake breaking on
the shore, with the gentle rustling sound of silken folds unrolling one
by one; when I see the shadow of her whom God has made my companion
until my life's end cast beside mine upon the grass or sand; when I
feel within me a plenitude that desires nothing before death, and
peace, untroubled by a single sigh; methinks I see the blessed soul of
her who appeared to me in this spot rise, dazzling and immortal, from
every point of the horizon, fill of herself alone the sky and waters,
shine in that splendor, float in that ether, bum in all those flames. I
see it penetrate those waves, breathe in their murmurs; pray, and laud,
and sing in that one hymn of life that streams with these cascades from
glacier unto lake, and shed upon the valley and on those who keep her
memory a blessing that the eye seems to see, the ear to hear, the heart
to feel!...

Here ended Raphael's first manuscript.





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